Whatcha Whatcha Waitin’ For

I don’t think anyone will get the reference in the title unless you’re super obsessed with Brit’s new song like me! 

Whoa oh oh oh oh OH oh…..Keep on dancing ’til the world endssssssss…..

Ok, sorry….it’s a bit hard to sing along and type at the same time! But I’ll try my best :)

*ahem*

After badly neglecting this blog, I’m back with an update. A BIG update. Ross & I have been working like crazy every night and every weekend, trying to get the house move-in ready by May 1st (our tentative hopeful goal).

Here’s a little update on what we’ve been up to…

Ross got the wall up for our new walk-in closet in the Master Bedroom a few weeks ago:

Since then the electrician has gotten all the wiring done in the house, allowing us to finally start drywalling. The door isn’t quite installed yet, it’s only propped open holding itself up! But you can see where the new light switches are, and that recessed white box in the wall will be for our future wall-mounted flat screen tv for prime tv-watching-while-eating-relaxing-in-bed :)

Remember this??

That was our hideous ceiling in the master bedroom, straight out of your standard office?! It was ugly. So we tore it down. Why not add to our project list, right?! Especially when we had no clue how we would fix this, just that the current ceiling HAD to go! And then we did a lot of this:

Ross had to go ahead and screw 4″ screws into the ceiling. The ceiling was currently being held up with nails that were slowly pulling out. Great. Nothing like having your ceiling fall down on you when you’re sleeping! So we fixed it. And I can safely tell you that our ceiling is never coming down now! We also had to manually scrape off all of the glue that was holding up those ceiling tiles. That was a painstaking process.  And we were also left with holes in the ceiling where the old fluorescent light fixture was that we removed. What can I say…fluorescent lighting isn’t exactly the most calming?! It had to go:

Now the ceiling was ready for mudding after Ross patched the hole where the flourescent light fixture was. Bring on the texture:

Betsy & I began mudding it by hand with drywall compound to see how it would look. We put up a thin layer of mud and then go back over it lightly with the putty knife to give it a bit of texture. It’s coming along great and I’ll give you an updated pic once I’m all finished! I’ve made quite some progress since this photo. Also, notice the light bulb??  It’s so great having light in the house. Thank you new best friend electrician :)

Moving on, remember this problem?

Mold Alert! Ugh. What a nice surprise when we removed the wallpaper in the master bedroom. So we cut out the drywall, and the first layer of styrofoam that they used for insulation.

Now we have a clean slate :) Is anyone else confused why the previous homeowner’s needed 3, YES 3(!), outlets within 4 feet of each other?! Humph. Granted, I know sometimes it seems you could always use more outlets, but there are a total of 15 outlets in this bedroom alone. I think we were able to part with just a few. So we asked our new best friend to fix that too :)

Ross got the new layer of styrofoam in, and a new piece of drywall.  I did the mudding for the drywall seams. This was only my first coat of drywall mud on the seams, so it’s not ‘feathered’ too far, in case you were curious. But back to the drywall mudding, I love it. Maybe a little too much. I like to consider myself a pro at this point since I did many more seams after this one :)

Last but not least, remember the original closet we removed?

We decided to tear it out so that our entrance into our room wasn’t directly through a closet (since we closed off the 2nd doorway, more on that later). This was one of our very first projects. Here it is down to the bones:

And then gone:

And here’s what we currently have:

What a nicer entrance into our room, huh? Once I get some decor up on that wall, and possibly put a dresser or vanity along that wall, that space will feel like it’s always belonged.

So it’s all coming along now! This is the part of the process that I looked forward to, where you finally start to put things back together and see your improvements and hard work pay off :) I can’t wait until it’s completely finished! Aside from the master bedroom, we’ve been painting the living room/dining room/entryway like maniacs, and I plan to update you with pictures on that soon!

*Kristin*

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Our First Big Purchase

Finally! A decision has been made. After months and months of searching, I finally decided on our living room area rug. Are you ready for it?!? Are you?? Because I’m pretty excited to share it with you!….

Ta dah! It may not seem like much. But here’s a close-up….

And here’s how gorgeous my house will look after I bring it home….

Ok, ok, just because I’m buying a PB rug doesn’t mean my house will instantly be transformed into awesome, but a girl can dream, right? 

At least I hope so.

It may not seem like a big deal to most people to finally decide on a rug, but this is huge for me and very exciting, for a few reasons…

1. I wanted the rug to set the tone for our ENTIRE house (talk about pressure!), and give me some colors to play around with. Right now, our house is a blank slate, and I needed a starting point. Something to tell me what colors the walls in our house should be.  Something to tell me what colors would be great to accent with when it comes to toss pillows, decor accessories, etc.! I like the pallet and overall feel of the rug. But more importantly, when you look closer, there are shades of yellow, beige, blue, gray, brown and green. So many colors to play around with!

2. I wanted a pattern that I wouldn’t tire of easily.  Something that was still modern, yet timeless.

3. The biggest dilemma was price! How much should we spend, what’s the ‘going rate’ for an 8×10 rug? Of course, I’d love to spend nothing b/c I’m cheap like that, but that’s not realistic. So after months and months of searching, I knew what we were comfortable with spending. I still went a little over our budget, but since this rug was PERFECT in every way, and with Ross’ approval, since he liked it too, we went ahead with it! I did manage, however, to do a few things to take the price down a bit.  I used some of my credit card cash-back bonus to buy a $100 PB gift card, score! I always save up those bonus’ and never know what to use them on, so I’m glad I finally took advantage of it. I also decided to forgo shipping it to our house, and buying it at our local PB store instead, saving me $90! The grand total will come out to $540 (includes tax). It may seem high, but we can justify it after seeing what’s out there, and doing months of painstaking searching.

4. Lastly, the selling point of the rug… I have dreamed of painting our living room walls gray for quite some time. I’m a bit obsessed with the color. Little did I realize how HARD it would be to find a rug to compliment gray walls. I guess it’s not a widely used color. To my surprise, when I ordered the rug swatch, lo-and-behold…..there are specs of gray throughout the entire rug! Heart be still *ahem*

So that’s my story of how one rug can transform an entire house, or at least I hope so. But now we’re now able to start painting! And I can’t wait to see it all come together.

*Kristin*

Homemade Laundry Detergent

When Ross & I started this blog, not only did I want to document the changes of our first home, but also wanted to share ways that we try to live ‘greener,’ live on a budget, and share anything home decor related!

So here we go on one of my favorite ways  to save some money in our household….Homemade Laundry Detergent!  It’s so simple and cost-effective, you’ll wonder why you’ve been buying all those expensive laundry detergents for so many years. And it makes me feel good to know that our detergent doesn’t have any added chemicals or scents that could be harmful and are not really necessary in the first place!

This laundry detergent recipe makes a powdered detergent. There are ways to make your own liquid detergent, but after reading quite a few different recipes and doing my research, it seemed like a lot of hassle and trouble for the same result as the powdered version!

First, let’s take a look at what you’ll need:

20-Mule Team Borax (1 cup)
Arm & Hammer Super Washing Soda (1 cup)
Fels Naptha Soap (1 Bar)
Cheese Grater
Measuring Cup
Food Processor (optional)
Container for finished detergent powder

The Borax and Washing Soda can be found at your local grocery store. If you have trouble finding it, I believe you can look on their individual websites and do a ‘product locater’ search. The Fels Naptha Soap proved to be the hardest for me to locate in my area, but I finally tracked it down at an Ace Hardware, which also carried the Borax & Washing Soda. Score! I also read that you can substitute Fels Naptha Soap for Ivory, or any other type of bar soap, but I haven’t tested it and don’t know if the results would differ. I prefer Fels Naptha because the package specifically says “Heavy Duty Laundry Bar Soap” under the title.

Now on to making your detergent…

First, you need to grate your bar of soap. This is the most time consuming step! I use a separate cheese grater that I purchased at the dollar store so as not to ruin any of my good ones that I use for cooking. Once the soap is grated, mix it with 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of washing soda.

Next is an additional step that I added after I read a few reviews about the grated soap pieces in the laundry detergent not dissolving enough in cold-wash loads because the grated pieces were still too large.

I throw all of my mixed detergent into my food processor to really chop it up into a fine powder, so I don’t have to worry about anything not dissolving!

Also, you can use the same food processor that you use for cooking. No need to have an extra one on hand! I just make sure that I wash it well afterward, and haven’t had any problems yet.

Lastly, pour all of your powdered detergent into a ‘shabby-chic‘ container, and *voila* …you’re ready to ask your husband do laundry yourself :)  You only need 1 (tablespoon-sized) scoop for a medium load, and 2 scoops for a large load. I usually double the recipe when I make it and it lasts me for about 6-8 months! Well worth the little bit of time and effort. We’ve been using this detergent for about a year now, and will never go back to the store-bought brands!

How handsome these look. The container on the right is my freshly made double-batch of laundry detergent and the one on the left holds all of my dryer sheets. And here’s another tid-bit, I buy the off-brand dryer sheets to save a few dollars and store them in this airtight container, so that they hold their fresh scent longer.

Lastly, I should mention that I have a front loading washing machine, and this detergent works great since it is ‘low suds.’ Also works on the standard top loading machines!

Happy Laundry-ing!

*Kristin*

Electricity Anyone?

Who needs electricity?! Pah!!! Surely not us. Ok, ok, maybe some lights would be nice. So, that leaves us where we are today. Waiting. and waiting. and waiting. Boy I hope this guy is good. Our electrician that is! The house is at a standstill for now until we can get our electrician in the house to do his job, which should begin later this week, or early next. It needs a TON of updating (in the electrical dept.). Everything from installing some ceiling lights in rooms that have no ceiling light (I guess that using only lamps in a bedroom was popular back in the day?!), updating the main breaker box in the house, and removing an old breaker box that is located in one of our bathrooms (?!), figuring out why HALF of the electrical plugs don’t work in the front of the house, etc. So he has his work cut out for him, and will be getting some major moolah from us when he is finished. We knew electrical & plumbing would be the biggest undertakings when we bought the house, but even so, the house was still below market value, so we forged ahead! It will certainly pay for itself when it’s done!

Ross & I have gotten a lot of the demo-ing work done, but can’t move ahead until the electrician does his job. We need to start putting up drywall, painting, removing carpets, finish the ceiling in the master bedroom, etc. But then, why put up drywall when the electrican needs to run wires behind it? So the house has been standing still. It HAS been nice to have a whole weekend off of working at the house! But until then, hold still until we can finally start finishing our projects and start to see our hard work pay off.

How to Cut Ceramic Tile

Well since I am on a roll of learning how to appropriately blog about home renovations, I might as well throw in a how-to about cutting ceramic tile.  I was hesitant to take on the task of cutting away ceramic tile in the house for fear that I might shatter the existing tile that was laid down in the house.  The thought process being that if I cracked one tile, I wouldn’t have any new tiles to replace the one that I broke.

Well, I was daring and went for it anyway.  I discovered through professional contractors that you can indeed cut ceramic tile and have a minimal failure rate if you use the appropriate tools and methods.  I went to my local home improvement store and purchased a 4-inch masonry blade with a diamond plated end for to fit the angle grinder that I was using.  Make sure that you purchase the flat blade instead of the serrated (jagged).  This was the best $10 purchase I’ve made in a while!

So to start off, I marked a straight line across the tile where I wanted to cut using a straight edge and a marker.  Once I finished that I installed the diamond plated blade onto the angle grinder and slowly made my way along the line that I had drawn on the floor.  I made several runs across this line (the first one being maybe around 1/8 inch deep).  The next line I went a little deeper and so forth until I just about made it to the bottom of the existing ceramic tile and glue that was holding the tile down.

Below is the cut that I made beside the line and it turned out very nice!  I just took the process slow and steady.  If you attempt to do this, make sure you have a steady hand for sure.

I will say this, be ready to experience the indoor dust storm of your life!  Ceramic tile kicks up quite a bit of dust so make sure that you cover up anything that you don’t want to get dusty.  A creative technique that Kristin and I used during this adventure was to have a running shop-vac with a wide-mouth opening to suck up a good portion of the dust that was being shot behind me while I was cutting the tile.  She had her safety mask respirator on as well as goggles since she was the lucky soul to be blasted with the dust.  Don’t worry, though, as I was clear from the line of fire with the dust!  The wife is going to hurt me for that comment!  It was quite funny to see but it did work out rather decently.  I could only imagine how much dust would have been blown around if we didn’t do that!

Anyway, the next part was using a 3/4 inch chisel to pop up the cut tile.  A few small hits on the butt-end of the chisel with a hammer and viola… the tile broke off cleanly!  This once hesitant individual is now much more knowledgable on how to safely and appropriately cut and remove existing tile now.  I will say that this method was actually quite painless… the hardest part was the cleanup from all the dust that was generated from the whole process.

-Ross

Indoor 1950s Brick Planter

It’s about time I finally contributed to this blog, or any blog, for that matter! Welcome to my first and last post. Kristin critiqued me by saying that my post was too “technical,” but can you blame me after endless years of writing term paper after term paper? Bare with me as I enlighten you about the planter in our new home’s living room.

This indoor brick planter was commonly found in older ranch homes during the 1950s era which is a pretty unique architectural design (especially since it is almost non-existent in today’s modernized homes).  I really like how it gives the house character and a green feel!  I pondered what to do with this indoor brick planter for a few weeks and came to the conclusion that it would be best to clean out the soil, plants and decorative items that were left behind from the previous owner.  I just had one of those weird feelings where I just knew this was a good idea.  Let me tell you one thing… THANK GOODNESS WE DID!

Upon first removing the dirt and decorative figurines that were in this planter, I discovered that there was an old metal frame liner that had severely rusted which was supposed to keep the soil from corroding the brick wall. If this metal frame were to continue to eat away at the brick the planter would have fallen apart and the unique design would have to be recreated which meant trying to find the unique brick that was also used to build the outdoor brick walls of the house.  To further the situation, the rusting metal plant liner was sitting on top of about 14 inches of staggered bricks.  The liner was bound to fall through any day and cause a royal mess!  The liner was also allowing water to run through it and sit at the bottom of the actual bottom of the brick wall which was definitely not a good thing.

Coming to the rescue of this planter meant thoroughly cleaning out the planter.  Now that no more dirt and rusty metal was in the planter it was time to restore the planter to make it last at for at least another 60 years!  I used 120 pounds of Type N mortar mix to properly fill in the broken bricks that were being exposed on the inside of the planter.  This would reinforce the strength of the walls again to help resist them crumbling from not being able to bear too much pressure.  I made the walls as even as possible and filled in gaps anywhere from 3/8s of an inch all the way to almost an inch since the corrosion really took its toll on the planter.  Once I did all four inside walls of the planter it was time to let it the mortar mix dry until I could put a new concrete bottom in the planter.  The picture below shows you all of the corrosion and damage that has been done to the brick walls over time.

Below is a picture of the inside brick walls having masonry mix applied to them.  Just so you know, I wasn’t going for the smoothest looking walls! Haha.  I went with functionality over looks since nobody is going to see this part of the finished product.

Next up was putting a new concrete base in the planter using 120 pounds of concrete mix.  That gave me a thickness of around 6 inches to form the new bottom of this planter.  The planter is now sufficiently reinforced to take on many more years of life!  I would explain how to spread out the masonry mix and concrete but there are so many tutorials online (as well as videos) that I will let that slide out of this post.

Now the finishing touches are to put a granite top on this old brick planter.  You may ask, “but what happens to the planter concept?”  Well, I think it would be nice to still go with that concept and place a few plants on top of the granite top to still give the living room a nice, green aura to freshen up the room.  I’m still up in the air about how I want to finish this concept up but I will keep everyone posted on what the final decision is.

To be continued…

-Ross

Floorplan Update

Just a few more ideas I’m tossing out there for the living room layout:

Layout #4

This layout suggestion actually comes from Marianne (thanks cuz!). I like this a lot, but Ross won’t have his recliner he’s dreaming of, facing the tv. HA! Maybe he can deal with that. But it keeps the room nice and open, and now the tv is much closer :) AND if we have company over, we can add a few more folding chairs beside the one recliner. (Sorry, in every layout I have a bad habit of counting how many people I can seat, b/c I can’t wait to entertain in our new house! Since living in our small apartment, I’ve been neglected in having people over.) And lastly, I wasn’t sure if putting a tv in front of a floor-to-ceiling window would look odd, but I think with the right drapes and curtains, it would be fine. And look at all that attention the fireplace is gettin’!

Moving on….

Layout #5

Thoughts? I’m not sure how it will play out with the tv in the halfwall. It might obscure it too much, b/c I like the opening there, but a good idea!

Lastly…

Layout #6

Ok, I promise I’m finished. I threw this one in there just for looks, although I don’t like it. The loveseat closes off the room too much, and completely blocks off any view of the fireplace. It was worth a shot!

*Kristin*