Saturday, April 30, 2011


    A slow return to disposable income has meant that we can spend a little on small house projects here and there, bringing us long overdue entryway rugs. Flor had a sale recently and we took the opportunity to pick out a couple of arrangements for the main entryway and our back mud room.
    Tai put together the front entryway pattern from Flor's Fedora line, inspired by/cribbed from this image:

    We were very excited to see this arrive:

    You can pay a few extra bucks for Flor to pre-cut your tiles in half, making the pattern assembly very, very easy:

    We used a combination of charcoal, chartreuse, oatmeal, and cayenne to create an offset pattern.

    We used Working Class in the mud room because we wanted something pretty durable. This is the entrance that we usually use and kick off our dirty shoes and boots into this area every night when we get home. Working Class isn't technically supposed to work over radiant floors -- we think the rubber backing will stick and rub off eventually -- but it was still the best option for that space. Besides, we figure that we'll pretty much always have some sort of floor covering in this area, so if the backing rubs off, we can just cover it with something else.

    We used cool gray and dark gray for the simple pattern.

    These are small details but they help the house feel friendlier and more lived-in.

    Friday, April 29, 2011

    Simple seats

    We've had a counter but no seating, until recently. My parents gifted us this set of bar stools at Christmas, and I recently surprised Tai by completing the set:

    These are, admittedly, a pretty egregious knock-off. While we sort of wish that ours were the real designer thing, if we were waiting to save up for the real thing we'd be standing around for years. These work just fine, and I've seen them (or near-twins) showing up at Tulie Bakery and my work.

    Tuesday, April 12, 2011

    Setting the stage

    This is what a season's worth of yard projects looks like:

    Looking around at what we still wanted to do this year, we cashed in pretty much every single credit card reward point to our name for a stack of Home Depot gift cards. We figure there are no black-out dates for these things (and travel on rewards is so difficult to book).

    Then, I happened to ask my currently unemployed brother whether he wanted to help Tai build a fence this year and he enthusiastically said yes. I'm sure we can make him regret it.

    Friday, April 8, 2011

    The Office

    When we moved into the house, we basically just dumped everything that has typically gone in our office in here, closed the door and left it looking like this for about 10 months.

    For our previous office set-ups we had a desk top made that we put on top of some filing cabinets. Here it is in our first place:

    We really wanted to come up with a custom solution with built-in desks and shelves and make a really beautiful home office for the new house. Until that can happen, we needed a temp solution that still allowed us to function in that room.

    In October, I got tired of staring at it (and trying to keep company from opening that door). Kersten went out of town for a couple of days this fall and being finally sick of having no functional home office, I decided to do something about it. Now keep in mind that this is not meant to be a permanent solution, but it does a pretty good job for now and best of all I didn't have to spend a single penny on it.

    First, I took the above pictured desk top and ripped it down the middle with my table saw. We thought we might want to use it for something else at some point, but that point was seeming a long ways off and we had need of it now. I made two desks out of it and placed them on opposite walls of the office on top of the filing cabinets we already had.

    Then, I used the above fridge cabinet that got scrapped during the fridge debacle last year as a cabinet for our computer printers and scanner and other peripherals.

    Once the desks were set up I then spent about 12 hours going through 10 months of clutter and bills that needed filing to get it all cleaned up and functional.

    It's been hard to know what to do next. We can't really find designs that we like and fit our style and the space. Any suggestions or inspirational sites?

    Monday, April 4, 2011

    These new homes are real killers

    Saturday we wanted to knock out a bit of yard work before another storm rolled in, so Tai mowed the lawn for the first time this season, then put down a fertilizer/herbicide, while I cleared a spot to plant a peach tree. We got those finished up and were about to start laying weed barrier fabric on our dirt stretches in the front yard when Tai went inside and stepped in this:

    We had a similar puddle on the other side of that wall in our mud room. Water was seeping throughout the west end of our first floor via all the micro cracks (you can see that in the picture). Lots and lots of panic ensued. Can we avoid swollen dry wall? How deep is the leak? Which pipe is it? Will the baseboard be ok? Why is our entire first floor weeping? How the #$%^ did this happen? Why do these things always happen on the weekends? Etc.

    We did what we always do in these situations, which is call Tai's dad for a dose of serenity and reassurance before tearing into the wall. The wall that divides the kitchen and the mud room is a shear wall, meaning that it's faced with plywood for stability in the event of an earthquake, meaning that even if we cut into the drywall we will have a lot of depth and structural stuff to cut through to get to the plumbing in the guts of the wall. One side of that wall was covered with kitchen cabinets and a counter top, and the other side had some lovely brand-new cabinets. Remember these?

    They shortly looked like this:

    Tai and his dad (who graciously and cheerfully gave up his Saturday to come help us) actually pulled the counter top off as well in order to cut a hole near where we knew the leak was coming from.

    We thought that the problem wasn't in the regular house plumbing because we hadn't done anything unusual lately and hadn't gotten a leak until Saturday. The only thing we did Saturday that we don't normally do is use the hose (to water the nascent peach tree) -- Tai's first thought is that he had somehow punctured the hose supply line while hanging the cabinetry last week. As it turns out, it was a burst hose bib -- most likely my fault, from not properly draining and emptying and disconnecting the hose at some point during the winter. 


    Tai and his dad confirmed this theory after cutting into the wall near the hose bib connection in the mud room. They chopped off the hose bib, which is a long length of copper pipe sheathing that goes deep into an interior wall -- so as to prevent exactly this type of freeze-burst! -- with a bit of pex tubing coming out the interior wall side for the water supply.

    After a couple of trips to England Plumbing (seriously, they are the best) for the correct size replacement bib and a tool rental, they were happily cutting into the bones of the house and installing the new part.

    We are no longer leaking, but we're not putting the cabinetry back together until we can fill in the hole with some foam for insulation of the hose connector. And I shall train myself from now on to always, always, always turn off the water and disconnect the hose. (Oops.)

    I sheepishly stayed out of the way during the repairs and tried to make myself useful in other ways. So I got some of the weed fabric down -- turns out that you're supposed to get rid of all the weeds first, so I spent much of the afternoon on my hands and knees digging up all sorts of nasty little things. Then, I roughly graded the covered spots and finally tacked down the fabric:

    We're hoping that this stuff makes life a little easier -- so far our greatest gardening successes have been the quantity and variety of weeds our yard supports. Sooner rather than later we hope to layer a lot of mulch on top, and we're hoping for a few plants down the road as well. We also got our lawn aerated cheaply by some folks trolling the neighborhood for business, meaning that now we do not need to spend several hours and $ grabbing a Home Depot rental aerator. The peach tree that (sort of) started it all:

    So lesson learned: I said we were going to blog more, and the universe said, "You want to blog more? I'll give you something to blog about!" Then, right as this all was starting to develop, I mentioned to Tai that if nothing else this will make a good story, and he said, "I'm TIRED of having good stories." Here's hoping for nothing but boring updates for the rest of the season.

    (And thanks to the friends/family who called or stopped by after reading my panicked Facebook status update. You guys are the best.)

    Friday, April 1, 2011

    Emerging from hibernation

    I smelled fresh cut grass yesterday on a short walk outside, which must mean that it's time to wake up the blog and all the house/yard projects. I wish I could say that we spent the winter painting or re-arranging or decorating or doing anything besides sitting on our rears, but alas. We needed a nice long break from home improvement.

    But, we're back! And after hopping around all winter trying to get boots on and off, we decided to put some time and effort into cabinetry for the mudroom. I think we needed a break from Ikea, too, because going back after a looooong absence wasn't as painful as we were expecting. Their showroom had a nice butler's pantry/mud room set up, using a new dimension of wall cabinetry (18"x30") as base cabinets with a counter on top for a nice bench surface. Given that this is a relatively private room in the house -- we're pretty much the only ones who ever see or use it -- a less expensive, but still totally functional solution appealed to us.

    We need to thank our friend Larry for coming over and helping us maneuver heavy flat-pack boxes in and around the yard. (Tai cracked a couple of ribs in a ski accident a few weeks ago, so moving some of the bigger stuff was pretty painful for him.) Nice-ish weather meant an expanded work area.

    And, of course, I have no "before" pictures. Just imagine an enormous pile of dirty shoes, framed with a random tall cabinet (reject from the kitchen), our stash of grocery bags, and a ski boot or four. Our dimensions didn't exactly match Ikea's, so Tai hacked together an end piece that fits quite nicely.

     Wouldn't be a project without a little pain, or in this case, a drywall gouge on an otherwise mint wall.

    We are very pleased with the look. We had debated going with a more expensive countertop or door option, but this seems to fit our house just perfectly and actually looks like the much more expensive white doors we passed on.
    (And of course those are my shoes still on the floor. Tai hasn't trained me yet.)
    And if we can ever get the Flor website to cooperate, we may have some rugs to show you in the next week or so...