Tuesday, August 28, 2012

What's Up with Garlands?

One of my favorite things to do is to click around the blog world to see what people are up to.  I like to wander through linky parties and Pinterest, clicking here and there just seeing what's in.  Apparently it's garlands.

Here are a few garlands that I've come across recently (not necessarily recent posts though):

Now, all of these seem like fun, doable, interesting projects.  I could certainly come up with garland ideas on my own too.  But my question is, other than for a specific event or party (Christmas, Birthday, Halloween, etc), are you supposed to have these dangling in your house all the time?

Am I missing out on a key piece of decor because I'm not draping garland throughout my house year round?

I'm out of the loop for a lot of things, decor-wise.  Maybe this is just one of them.

At any rate - I love the look of a holiday garland and will plan on doing something for the next big holiday around here - Halloween!!

Monday, August 27, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - Closet Update

This weekend was a busy one in the bedroom closet.  Following demo (check that out here) we assessed what exactly needed to be done.

Exterior wall:

The strapping that's nailed to the concrete block of the house needed to be thickened up to allow room for rigid foam board insulation.  And Jason added a piece of wood to act as a nailer - something to screw into when we go to hang the rod for clothes.

Door frame:

This whole thing was a mess.  It looks like there had been a previous DIY job done incorrectly so that the header was nailed into the studs on the side and nothing was holding it up.  A proper header has studs beneath it to support it.  Also the mini-studs above the header weren't really nailed into anything except the plaster board.  Jason screwed everything in and made it much more solid.

Also the stud on the right side (facing into the closet) is very bowed.  He hasn't done it yet, but he's going to put up a new piece of wood that will be plumb and square and all that.  It won't be pretty (on the inside), but it will be sturdier and invisible once the trim is up.

So at the end of the weekend, here's what we've were able to accomplish:

  • One round of joint compound at the base of the wall.  More to come...

  • Some patching of minor dings/dents/imperfections on the walls

  • Most of repairs to closet complete - still need to fix the right side of door frame.
  • Some drywall hung in closet.

And although I'm not including it in the list, I think it's fair to mention that I think we finalized our closet plan.  It's good to know that we're now on the same page in terms of closet layout.  I can't wait to see the final product!

To see previous posts about the room's makeover - check out the following posts:

Photography Note:  These were taken with my phone.  My apologies - I am having trouble finding my charger cable for my camera.

Also - these pics were all cropped & re-sized and had watermarks/text added, but it's not showing up.  I'll have to revisit that issue.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

An Un-Glamorous Update

So sometimes the best project/change you make all week is the least exciting.  Well, I'm excited, but you may not be.

As part of the Big Girl Room redo, we have moved the tv she watches (and the DVD player) down to the basement.  It's not a finished space, but one day it will be.  Jason wired up cable, an outlet, and a light switch to make sure stuff was safe and secure (stuff was sorta dangly down there, and that sort of wiring is scary).

Sarah has been watching tv down there occasionally.  She's got a little table & chairs for now - later we'll move the bedroom rug down there so it's a little fuzzier and maybe we'll put her beanbag chair there too.

Anyway, a few friends were down there yesterday watching Power Rangers, and one came out and said it was "cweepy".  I asked why he thought it was creepy and he said the basement was "full of cweepy stuff". Touche.  So I guess we need to do a reorg down there.  We had TONS of stuff, boxes, paint cans, tools, hardware, etc.

Today I was at Ace picking up some ant baits (yeah, I have ants, lucky me).  And I saw this awesome plastic 5-tier shelf on sale for $40!  Regular price was $60 - good savings!  It was exactly the thing I need to help organize our dumping ground basement.  (Actually, I should have bought 4 and done the garage too).

Check it out - made in the USA too.

Here's what it looked like before.  It's almost too embarrassing to share, but this is reality, right?

The shelf was assembled super quickly and without tools.  And I'm not positive, but I think it's made to have multiple shelving units kinda lock together...seriously, I may need a few more of these things.

Once it was up and ready to go, I started filling her up with all the random tools, paint cans, battery chargers, etc. that seem to be generally scattered all around the garage.  And (surprise, surprise), I found more than a few things that would be more useful in a trashbag on the curb than in the basement.  So out they went!

Here's the "reveal", LOL. I know, it's still a pretty grubby basement, but I love how we have all the paint cans low and out of the way, stacked up tools, so they're easy to find.  Oh and battery chargers (I'm positive we have at least 2 more of those), drywall stuff, etc.

I was able to relocate a few items, buy there still things on the future finished side of the basement - electrical stuff, random lumber, more tools (of course), and other stuff. Maybe once I get that cleaned up and over to the "dirty" side, J down the street wont' think the basement is so "cweepy".

Let's hope!

One last look - isn't it nice to have a tidy space:

Here's where I've linked up:

Monday, August 20, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - Closet Demo

The closet demo is done!

When you think about a closet, you really need to consider it as a small room.  It has 4 walls, ceiling, floor, and door to think about (in this case 4th wall really is just the doorway).  There's also usually shelves and a hanging rod.  For this one closet, it took probably 6 contractor bags of plaster and wallboard to take it down to studs.  It's a loud and messy job, and I'm glad it's done!

There are a few things to take in here.

See that concrete block and brick?  Yep that's the exterior wall of the house.  The first floor of our house isn't timber framed, but block and brick.  And there's no insulation, nor is there room for a standard fiberglass batting insulation.  In places where we've taken down the plaster before, we've used a rigid foam insulation which doesn't meet code for R- values, but it's better than nothing.

Also the walls aren't 2x4 construction - they're 2x3s. Undoubtedly this was a cost-cutting measure back in 1955, but now it's just an annoyance.  And it looks like a previous homeowner DIY'd the doorframe to make it taller, but they sorta cut out the studs and pushed the header up so there's a gap of about 1.5" between the header and the studs.  Luckily it's not load bearing and we can fix it up.

Another tricky thing is that the plaster & wallboard were much thicker than standard 1/2" drywall.  No biggie?  Well actually the issue is that the flooring only runs into where the plaster was so that if we just put up the drywall we'll have a gap.  So we'll be building it out a bit.  And by "we," I mean Jason.

So there it is! A demolished closet and ready for the next step!

For past posts on the bedroom redo:

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - The Plan

OK, we Got the Ball Rolling, Inspiration, and the Clean Slate, so now let's take a look at the plan.

*Note: Anything in this plan is subject to change, delay, or omission.  Also things can be added to the plan.  We're working with a nearly-6-year-old girl so who knows what may happen, we may have to add some Power Rangers features as well.

Let's take a look at the closet side of the room:

  • Fully demo closet
  • Put up drywall in closet, tape and mud seams/screws
  • Add casing to closet opening, leaving enough room for doors one day
  • Add closet shelf all the way across & down one side for kid stuff, hanging rod on left for clothes
  • Sew curtain for closet
  • Move phone & wireless router
  • Prime and paint bookshelf (it's in the upstairs kid room right now unpainted)
  • Find a full-length mirror for behind the door
  • Create surf related art

Let's take a look at the window side:

  • Baseboards throughout the room
  • Repaint her bed and make a few repairs so it's easier to change sheets
  • Update headboard for her beachy theme (making it non-permanent)
  • Find new bedding (I think we already found it!)
  • Shades, curtains and maybe valances or cornices
  • Gussy up a bulletin board so she can display her favorite artwork
  • Repaint dressers and find new hardware
  • Find area rug - needs to work w/the color scheme and be inexpensive (it'll probably get trashed)
  • We're considering some crown molding to give the room a polished look
  • Paint the entire room a new shade of blue - something less intense
And there it is!  A plan of action - the challenge will be to see whether we can get her in there before school starts after Labor Day - I think we can.  I'll keep everyone posted as we progress.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom: Clean Slate

And we're DONE!  No, not with the room, but with clearing it out.  Let me just explain what caused this to me a monumental task.  Like many Americans, the Monkey household is one of consumers.  We like our stuff and our tiny little house is full.  This room was no exception, so clearing it out wasn't like those shows on tv where they time lapse people happily moving furniture and throw pillows, it meant that we had to empty drawers, sort through boxes and rehome tons of toys.  And because the house is full (did I mention that we have a lot of stuff), this project meant we had to clean, declutter, and decrap other spaces: basement, current  kids' room closet, Jason's closet.  This was a cascading project that eventually had me organizing on 3 levels and in 5 different rooms.  Yuck.  But we got it done and it only took like 2 weeks.

So here's the room - first is the view of the door and closet.  Jason sorta jumped the gun and started pulling stuff out of the closet, but that's ok.  The closet is going to be a big job because we actually need to demo the whole thing to studs because it's paint over wallpaper and the plaster is in rough shape.  In the photo you can see patches in the ceiling from when we put in the ceiling light fixture.  Jason has also basically rewired the whole room - none of the outlets were grounded.  Another project we need to do as part of this is to relocate the phone and the wireless router to elsewhere in the house.  Both are things that have been on "the list" for a while.

Next up is the view from the closet, toward the windows.   Like those blinds?  My very first DIY Ikea hack :)  I wish I had thought to take pics of that way back in 2007!  Anyway you can see her the super gross carpet (totally worth the $60 we spent on it), and you see the dresser that will definitely be an upcoming project; there are 2 and both will be repainted and given updated hardware for Sarah's room.

Well, there you have it!  A clean slate to begin our work!  Coming soon is a post with the project plan listing out all the tasks (big & small) that need to be done before we call this one done.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Blast From the Past - Big Kid Bed

Because I decided to start up this blog almost well after moving into our house, I decided it might be good to do a few posts about work we did before the blog was born.  So we'll call this series "A Blast from the Past". It'll feature all sorts of projects and full room re-dos.  A lot of the time, the "after" is more like a "progress" pic and more work is in store.

Today we'll talk about Sarah's bed which will be part of her Big Girl Bedroom, so its fair game to show you all where it came from!

To start the story off, let's talk about Sarah.  The best sleeping kid ever.  Seriously, once she figured it out, she'd zonk right out at night and sleep like the dead.  And because she never even tried climbing out of the crib, we were more than happy to let her keep on sleeping in there until we needed the crib for someone else.  Big kid bed shopping left me un-impressed.  The beds I liked were super expensive.  So I started clicking around the internet looking for options, and I stumbled upon Ana White's website with plans to build your own furniture.  Back then the website was smaller, but we found these plans and went for it.  It's a pretty straightforward design, which was a good call for a first time furniture building project.  

Step one was sourcing our lumber.  Ana says that the lumber should be readily available, but our Home Depot doesn't carry 4x4s that aren't pressure treated and you really don't want to use a pressure treated wood inside.   We found our 4x4s at a smaller lumber yard, so you may have to shop around.

We (meaning Jason) followed the plans step by step, only making one change to the design: we added a curve to make it look a little more feminine.

Here's the foot board:

Here's the headboard getting painted:

And here's the finished product (spring 2010):

We learned a LOT from this project:
  • It's not hard to build furniture, but you do need to take your time - no rushing!  Give glue, paint & primer time to dry. And as always, measure twice (or thrice) to avoid a cutting mistake.
  • Think about how heavy the piece will be - this thing is way too heavy to carry upstairs assembled.  I'm glad we assembled it upstairs.
  • I think if I had to do it over again, I'd skip the box spring and build a slatted base.  The box & mattress combo is a little high for a kid bed.
  • We need to make the bed an inch or two longer.  Everything fits VERY snugly, so changing sheets is sort of annoying. (we'll address this with the move to a big girl bedroom!)
  • We need to do a clear coat over the paint.  I will do a little research from experienced furniture painters, but the paint coat feels a bit sticky. (we'll address this with the move to a big girl bedroom!)
We'll be building more furniture down the road (a big bed for Chris?  nightstands?  entertainment unit for the basement one day??) and we'll be sharing when we do!

UPDATE - Link Ups!

House on the Way  Photobucket

Monday, August 13, 2012

Quick Blog Update

Hey Folks!

I'm always tweaking things here and while the blog doesn't look exactly how I want it to look (still searching for a good background), it's coming along!

Recently I've added an "About Me" page (tab at the top), rearranged the side column, and changed the list of post labels from a list to a cloud.  For those who don't know, a cloud is the same labels just varying sizes based on how often the label is used in posting.

I'll hopefully have an update on the Big Girl Bedroom soon!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - Inspiration

Not much to update today except to share a few inspiration pics that are helping us figure out what we want Sarah's new bedroom to look like.  I want it to have a theme without being cheesy, so that when she changes her tune in 2-3 years maybe we can tweak the look of the room by switching out some bed linens and accessories.

So the general theme we're going for is "Surfer Girl"!!  I love this - grown up without being too sophisticated.   She has specified that she does NOT want a pink bedroom.  So I've been clicking around the internet for some ideas and I thought I'd share a bit of what I've been able to find.

I especially like the last pic here, and that's the one Sarah likes the best.  Light blue with turquoise and orange accents.   She also really likes the waves...maybe we'll incorporate that too!

Check out more stuff on my Pinterest Big Girl Bedroom Pinboard!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

A New Crafter?

Sarah came out of her playroom last night with a little container (from the Target dollar bins) that she had glued paper to.  And colored all over it.

She said:

"I just thought it needed a new look."

OMG, she's a little crafter in the making.  I can't wait until we're  Mod Podging together and talking about spray painting random stuff from around the house!

Monday, August 6, 2012

A Big Girl's Bedroom - Getting the ball rolling!

This past weekend was our first weekend at home after vacation and we decided it was time to get started on Sarah's bedroom re-do.

Now for those of you who aren't familiar with our little house, we have 2 upstairs bedrooms and one downstairs bedroom.  When we first moved in, we renovated the 2nd floor and added a bunch of square footage with a shed dormer, but during construction (a lengthy DIY), Jason and I used the first floor bedroom as the master.  Sarah was sleeping in the dining room (aren't we fancy).

So the "back room" as we called it was painted a terrifying turquoise (not a great choice by me, but live & learn, right?).  I put up some roman shades and made them pretty with some brown grosgrain ribbon trim.  And once we moved to our new bedrooms on the 2nd floor, the first floor room became a playroom for Sarah.  Lucky girl!

Here's the room all set up as a guest room with an air bed for some visitors.

A few years later we had a new baby boy and it became clear that eventually separate bedrooms would be best for these 2, so we're moving Sarah into a new big girl bedroom on the first floor.

The first step is clearing out the space and that's what we started doing this weekend.  Unfortunately, it seems that this sort of thing is a cascading process...to clear the room we have to clean parts of the basement (to make room for stuff) and our bedroom (to make room for stuff) and the kids closet (to make room for stuff).  Monday is here and while we haven't emptied the room yet, we have made tons of progress on the peripheral spaces, so much that by the time next weekend rolls around, I'm pretty confident that we'll have a clean slate to begin the REAL work in that room.

Here's a sneak peek at what we need to delve into before Sarah can call it home:

  • Patching walls
  • Baseboard installation
  • Closet repairs
  • Door trim
  • New doorknob
  • Rewiring a few things
  • Paint!!!!

I'm tired already!!  Actually I'm super excited to get this room set up for my big girl, and she's excited too!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Rental House Vacation Tips for Parents of Toddlers

When you are the parent of a small child, whether that child is a peaceful cooperative angel or whether that child is some sort of mischievous imp, your kid won't be any less destructive in someone else's house than they are in your house.

 1. Lockdown the bedroom. Pick a bedroom for the toddler carefully. We chose the smallest bedroom with one window. That means that worst case scenario, only one roman shade to pay for. I also took out the tv, both lamps, alarm clock, framed art over the bed, and turned the dresser so he couldn't open the drawers. It might also be a good choice to remove the dresser altogether as my kid tried his darndest to completely destroy it. Luckily I'm pretty sure it's not an antique handed down from French royalty or something.

 2. Bring toys, small quiet ones, new ones are best.  You leave your house and drive to your vacation spot and after you've unloaded the car and you're hot and sweaty and ready for your first umbrella drink on the deck, your kids are staring at you saying, "I'm bored".   Yeah, been there, done that.  Solution: "Hey, go check out this cool new thing!"  If you present your toddler (and/or older kids) with something they haven't seen before, you'll probably get enough time to suck down half of a cool beverage before they get tired again. Kids need stuff to do and although you may be happy to watch birds or boats go by, this just won't cut it for them.  Legos, rubber figurines, trucks, barbies, whatever floats your kids' boat, bring it.  But don't bring anything big or you'll be annoyed that you have to do just as much cleanup on vacation as you did at home.

3.  Don't forget that your kid has to eat!  I know your rental said that the house was fully stocked, but face it, the realtor and homeowner may not realize that your mind includes sippy cups and plastic plates.  It's no big deal to throw a few plates, bowls, cups and tiny silverware into a bag and bring it along.  I went to Ikea and picked up a fresh stock of this stuff on the supercheap.  I also grabbed a pack of Solo cups/tops/straws at Target for on-the-go beverages.  Not a green solution, but very convenient.

4.  Have food rules.  Now I have fond memories of my kinda-grandmom having firm rules about food in the tv room at their vacation house.  And when I was 12, I thought it was superstrict, but not having to vacuum goldfish out of the carpet and couches everyday is really nice.  I may need to institute this rule at home because it really was nice not having cups and bowls all over the house.

5.  If it's broken, then fix it.  Properly!  Face it, your kid might break something.  It happens, a lot.  If it happens on vacation, then you should consider whether you can fix it.  Last year Chris ripped the upper rack of the fancy dishwasher and broke some plastic part.  I ordered a new part and installed it myself for $36 (probably a lot cheaper than a local repair guy or reporting it to the realtor).  This year Chris tried to destroy a dresser and I attempted to do a repair and it turned out bad.  If you will be doing a repair, do some research on the internet or visit the hardware store to make sure you're using the right kind of glue, screws, etc.  And that you have the proper tools.  If something is broken and you aren't able to properly repair it, then be sure to tell the realtor.  This is what security deposits are for.

6.  Try to relax.  Vacation is supposed to be a fun and happy time for everyone, but it's easy for things to get stressful for parents.  If your kid seems to be living on donuts for breakfast and ketchup for dinner, just try to remember that this is but a week in their lives and that you can get back to normal when you're home.  And remember, next year your toddler won't be a toddler anymore.

Oh and as a safety reminder - bring along some childproofing equipment (gates, cabinet locks, outlet covers, etc).  When cleaning our place, my dad found that Chris had done this to a bunch of outlets behind the dining table:


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