Sunday, September 30, 2012

We did all the things.

I cannot even convey how good it feels to be sitting down right now. All those things I said we had lined up for Saturday? Yeah, we did all the things. We grabbed this weekend by the lapels and made out with it.

Firewood delivery, check. We were indeed first on the firewood service's delivery route, so this showed up at 6:30 a.m. I sleepily backed the car out of the garage and only partially ran over the lawn as the delivery guy watched. 
Craigslist table and chairs, CHECK. This heavenly light accurately represents how I feel about this purchase. It was $150, which is so much less than a new set would have cost, and this one has character for miles. 
I am so in love with the lines on these chairs. I'll eventually re-cover the seats but the existing vinyl will do for now. 

I also love the laminate pattern. I had been looking for one of the classic retro patterns like boomerangs or cracked ice, but I really like how unusual this is. Side note: the painter's tape on the floor is from when I taped out the dimensions of the new kitchen cabinets and island. We didn't have a table then but I roughed out a few different sizes with tape just to see our options. 
Cram all our trash into the car and take it to the city service center, check. 
Most tiring of all: Get started on painting the living room, check. Here's our ceiling color. I know what you're thinking: we should have stopped right here and called it good in this beautiful tri-color corner. 
But I kept going and now our color scheme is a little less schizo. 
I only got halfway through, but am feeling good about the progress. 
Here's the view from the other side where you can see the remaining half that needs to be done. Funny story: remember when I painted the bathroom ceiling with my safety goggles? I decided that I didn't need to wear them this time because I was in a less confined space and not so directly under the extension pole with the paint roller on it. So you know where this story is going, right?
Yeah, cue the paint in my eye. I got really lucky that I either happened to blink right as this hit or my brain registered it coming without me being conscious of it, but either way I managed to avoid a direct hit on the eyeball. This was real fun to get out of my eyelashes. Note to self: do not skip safety goggles when painting ceilings. (Also please note my hott, paintin'-all-day hair.)
And there is more ceiling painting in the very near future, as I'm aiming to get this room done within the next couple of days. In fact, preferably before The Current's membership drive starts on Wednesday, because I don't want to be painting with that on in the background. More to come!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Working for the Weekend

Well, today brought disappointing personal news, gang, but I am not even going to let it bring me down. Nuh-uh. Too much to do. Big day ahead. Don't even. Nope. I will not. Moving on.

Plans for tomorrow include the following:
1) At some point which may or may not be 6:30 a.m., we are receiving a delivery of a cord of firewood. Theoretically this is going to fit in the garage in front of our cars. There used to be an old cabinet there but not 10 minutes ago Eric pushed it into the corner all by himself like a mountain man. The firewood people are calling us later tonight to let us know where we are on the delivery route. If we are first, it will be 6:30. What is a "cord"? It's like 8' by 4' by 3' or something; I don't quite remember. This is like regulated by the state weights and measures division, and the internet is crawling with official definitions of what a cord is. To me, if it looks like a giant pile of wood that will burn in a fireplace, I am going to call it good. Let's start some stuff on fire in a responsible and homey way. Sounds good, thanks.

2) At 9:00 a.m., I am going to Crystal to look at and hopefully purchase a vintage Formica table and chairs I found on Craigslist. It may seem like jumping the gun on this purchase, since we will not have a kitchen to put these things in for the next three to four months, but the issue is that we are building a bench into the bay window in the dining area*, and hence we will need to know our table measurements in order to determine where to center the lighting fixture over the table when it is pulled up next to the bench. Does that make sense? Whatever. I don't need your approval, internet!  

3) Somewhere between the hours of 8:00 and 1:00 we need to pack our two broken-up toilets, broken PVC pipe from our broken in-ground sprinklers, and broken water softener into our car and take them to the St. Louis Park Fall Clean-up Day. These are things that you can't put out with your ordinary household trash for weekly pickup. So, if you're like us, you leave them in your backyard for a month or more, collecting leaves and nature bits and whatnot, until fall clean-up day arrives and you can take them to some rando service center and pay the nice people to get them out of your hair. 

Here is a bunch of PVC pipe that Jeff Spicoli dug up in August and that has been in our backyard ever since. Because we are classy.

Here is our old water softener, which, again, we've been storing in the backyard because we are all class. The plumber took away the old water heater for some reason, but not the softener. Maybe because this is filled with salt. Also, the yellow box next to it is a cat-litter box that the previous owner left behind in the garden. VALUE-ADD. Also, cut off in the frame here is the old utility sink that I am compelled to keep because I think something can be done with it, though I don't know what yet. Pinterest, show me the way. 
4) Probably we are going to purchase paint and supplies and begin working on painting the living room. We have been thinking about this very carefully. How carefully?

Maybe too carefully. We sampled 10 colors. 

We didn't sample all 10 in one go. We started with two and didn't love either of them, then tried another four. At this point we kind of liked one, the left swatch in the second row down in this photo. But we left it there for a week or so and then Eric started calling it "dentist's office green" and we asked ourselves if we were being wussy about choosing a deeper color. So then we sampled four deeper colors and determined yes, we HAD been wussy. We're going with the left swatch on the third row down. It will be deep and dark and groovy.

5) Our musician friend is performing at a block party in the evening, which sounds like a nice break after a day of driving all over creation and lifting heavy things and taking care of business. 

So those are the weekend plans. Way too much to do to indulge in any mopey-ness, and anyway, I have already forgotten what I was bummed about. Not really. But I will. (Not.) But it doesn't matter. Because I'm over it. 
* It is a little-known federal code that if you have a bay window, you must build in a bench. True fact. 

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Shiny and New

The new appliances have arrived.

We're feeling pretty good about them, even though the rest of the kitchen isn't nearly ready for them to be installed. So they're just going to hang out in the dining area for a month or two, lookin' all shiny. Our delivery deal from Lowe's included haul-away of the old appliances, but we weren't ready to do that either... except for one appliance.

The Deftones fridge in the basement. I don't know if the delivery guys would have agreed to haul this away if they would have had to lug it up the stairs, but I put it to the guy like, "We're not ready to get rid of our current kitchen fridge, but we do have one in the basement you can take away..." I could see him wavering at this point, but when I added, "and it's a walkout basement..." I could see the scales tip to yes. Victory!

They had to take the doors off to get it through the doorway. This was only the second time I'd actually seen inside of this thing; you can probably see why after I opened it the first time I didn't feel the need to look again. That empty Coors Light box was left by the previous owner, and I guess we should count ourselves lucky that there was nothing else inside.

Bye-bye Deftones fridge!

Hello, my sleek new playthings.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Life Lesson: Discount Stalking

So we've been making some big purchases around here. And while a large part of my brain still flashes warning lights and says nononononononono whenever we shell out for something, another part of my brain knows that this was part of the plan with this house. It needs a lot of work, but it also cost a lot less than most of the other houses we looked at, and the lot is A+ (dead lawn notwithstanding). Our goal, then, is to apply the remainder of our house fund to get through our list of must-do projects, and then... never move again. Seriously.

However, "the remainder of our house fund" is dwindling, and we've reached a point where we're putting a lot of things on our want-list on hold because we need to buckle down and focus on the kitchen. To that end, we ordered appliances last week. It... was expensive. But! Not as expensive as it could have been. I'd been keeping tabs on the appliances we wanted for a while, and the fridge we were eyeing was on a pretty deep discount at Lowe's over Labor Day weekend, so we decided to pounce.

Here is the thing about appliance shopping at Lowe's: they will not only match a published price of any local competitor, they will beat it by 10 percent. The bummer is that I didn't find a ton of crossover in brands or model numbers between Lowe's and other local stores. I did find it on the range we wanted though- Home Depot's website listed it for about $300 less than Lowe's. I brought the printout to Lowe's and it was easy-peasy to get the price match. The guy initially rang it up at the Home Depot price, but then I asked, "Uhh, do I get the additional 10 percent?" and then I DID because no one puts Baby in a corner.

We didn't find any other local stores that were selling our fridge or dishwasher, but they were both on sale at Lowe's, and we also opened the store credit card to get an additional 5 percent off the whole purchase. (Obviously, if you carry a balance on the credit card you negate that 5 percent and then some, so don't open the card if you can't pay it off within the month. The more you knowwwww.)

This trip to Lowe's was also the same trip in which we purchased toilets and a laundry sink. I had a 10 percent off coupon but it said it wasn't valid on sale items. However, after Eric made friends with the toilet guy, talking about golf ball flushing and other toilet things, he agreed to give us an extra 10 percent off the toilets even though they were already on sale. So my tip here is: have an affable husband who likes to chat up toilet salesmen. Kidding. The real lesson: just ask, even if the fine print says no. (We asked if we could use the coupon for the appliances and they held firm in that department.)

This lesson was also true when we bought the living room furniture. It literally had a price tag on it that said something like "A price so low, no further discounts are available!" But Eric was like, "The guy outside in the tent sale said we could get an additional 10 percent; does that apply in here?" And the woman was super friendly and said, "Yeah, I can do a little song and dance for the manager." Had I been there alone, I probably would have read the price tag and never asked. Eric, however, is a smooth operator.

You think I'm done with this boring story, but I'm not. Today, out of idle curiosity, I looked at our fridge again on the Lowe's website and it was $150 cheaper than what we'd paid last week. If there was one thing I learned during my nine miserable months working at Marshall Field's, it was that it's okay to ask for a price adjustment after you've made a purchase. So I called Lowe's, and again, it was super easy. The guy looked up the purchase with my phone number, refunded the difference, and emailed me the receipt.

The end! The appliances get delivered next weekend, whereupon they will sit in boxes in our basement and we will gaze at them longingly until such time that we can actually install and use them.

Here I am looking smug next to our new fridge, which has a sticker price that isn't even close to what we actually paid.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Toilet Confessions

Warning: multiple toilet pics ahead. The mid-century purists will probably flay me for this, but... we got rid of the original toilet in our main floor bath.

Well, we think it's original. For all I know it could have been installed in the 80s, but this looks like a 60s toilet to me, especially considering its performance and wear. See that sign taped on the tile? That says "Press button firmly," and I put it there after one too many guests had to come out and ask us how to flush it. It even stumped one of our movers on moving day. And I really firmly believe that you just shouldn't do that to people. Don't have a trick toilet. By the same token, I put brushes and plungers next to all three of the toilets shortly after we moved in. Because sometimes people need or want those things, and it would be my personal nightmare to have to ask for them. 

The porcelain rim had seen better days. 

As had the tank. Don't ask me what purpose that cup is serving. We didn't want to disturb it. I don't know if you can gauge from this photo, but after scientific measurements I determined that this toilet used approximately one zillion million gallons of water per flush. So that wasn't great either. Trick button + water wasting = the death knell for this guy. And don't tell me that I should Craigslist it because the plumber had to break it into pieces to get it out without messing up the floor tile. So, purists, give me credit for that: we destroyed the toilet but we did it to save the tile

Here's the new guy. This is the American Standard Champion 4, which came highly recommended by the guy in the toilet aisle at Lowe's. The box boasts that it will flush a bucket of golf balls, which... sure, nice analogy, toilet industry. 
But now I have to get back there to clean the tile where the old one covered it for all those years. Gag. 

While we were at it, we also had the plumber replace the basement toilet. (Or "prison bathroom" as our friend Angie calls hers.) I thought that the disgustingness of the previous model was just part of the ambiance downstairs, but Eric wanted a new one. The plumber said that when we eventually finish this bathroom it will be no problem to keep this, so there's no money wasted on it. We did go with a slightly cheaper model (the Kohler Highline Classic, if you're interested), so I guess we will just do our golf ball flushing exclusively upstairs. I will still never use this toilet. 
Toilet installation was not actually the chief reason that we had the plumber around; we also had a new water softener and water heater installed, which, respectively, were dead and on death's door.

Ooooh, aaahhh. I don't know anything about water softeners. We asked the plumber for a lesson and he said, "Well this button is up, and this one is down." So then we said, "Uhh, but what does that mean?" And he paused for a long time and said, "You should really just read the manual."
And here is water heater. Jealous?! I know tankless models are all the rage these days, but Consumer Reports said the added efficiency doesn't offset the higher price. And I just do what Consumer Reports tells me to do. 

THEN. Total bizarro project add on: the plumber didn't like the configuration of our washer and dryer, blah blah, something about the drain cover and city inspectors frowning upon it... and somehow this necessitated the purchase of a new utility sink. Which we totally cheaped out on because at that point we were on plumbing budget overload. This sink is plastic and cost $25. It does the job. And I did not let the plumber cart away the cool retro model; it's still here. I want to do something crafty with it, just haven't figured out what yet.  
Here is our dirty floor and the new drain cover. Please note the spindle being used to level the dryer, which Eric found in the shed and put there today after I had a rage attack upon discovering that the plumber had goofed up the level. He takes good care of me. Eric, not the plumber. 

Friday, September 7, 2012

El Baño

One of the ickiest rooms we have to deal with on a daily basis is the master bath. The tile is in very iffy condition, and the walls, as you saw in the post of electric updates, are covered in yellowed remnants of wallpaper paste. Or rather, THEY WERE. We had a big week around here- updates to come on that later- but in the midst of not-fun expenditures on stuff that was visually unrewarding, we also squeezed in a painting project. Hallelujah for paint; it's dirt cheap and high impact. (Let's hope I can maintain this positive attitude as we tackle the six other rooms that still need paint.)

Let's review the baseline:

Well, hello. Yeesh. This is my view from bed when I wake up in the morning. A visual breakfast of champions.  

Lookit this dumb valance, just waiting to be put out of its misery. Eric and I actually came home from a stressful day this week and just cursed at this valance for a while. It felt real good. It felt even better to take it down. 

Here we have a closeup of the dirty wall/dirty grout situation. This type of tile is called "salt and pepper" because of all the flecks in it, and I actually like it, except for the filthy grout.

And here you'll see that someone in the past helpfully scrawled a reminder to "paper walls." Thanks, but we'll pass on that! 

Here's the layer of dirt we found on the vanity lights when we took off the covers. How does a light bulb even last long enough to collect this much dust?

So we'd had about as much of that as we could take. Fifty days' worth, to be exact. I put on my safety goggles and remedied the situation. 

Oh, did you think I wouldn't get a picture of that? The reason for the safety goggles was that I painted the ceiling too. I have certainly blown off many an admonition to use goggles, but in this case the thought of paint glopping into my eye was enough to make me take the precaution.     
Aaand results! This color is Behr Cumberland Fog, which goes nicely with the bedroom color, Valley Mist. Fog and mist, har har! We noticed that now when you look into the bathroom, the bedroom color looks much greener in comparison, so that's a nice side effect.
Pleasant improvement!
I really love these sconces, and now that's it's not white-on-white you can actually see them better. 

No more "paper walls."

Side by side. Subtle, but good.
So, a cheap and very gratifying project. This room now looks about 67% cleaner. I'm still planning on touching up with caulk soon, and I'm also going to remove the dirty vent cover and paint it white. For a longer-term project, we'd like to regrout the whole bathroom- inside the shower and out- and I also want to replace the floor tile in the shower, which is weirdly mobile. That can't be good. Luckily the basement ceiling under this room is unfinished so we can keep an eye on it and make sure no leaks are happening. We're also thinking the vent fan installation will help the tile stay in better condition now.

The funny thing is that this whole project probably took me a total of three hours, and it makes the room look sooo much better that it's hard to understand why the previous owner wouldn't have done it prior to listing. I guess we're glad for it, if it helped scare away other buyers. Some people just don't have any sense for these things. But have I mentioned that the seller was an interior decorator?

The cobbler's children, amirite?

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Chaise en Place

The living room set is heeeeere, and geez, it really fills the room. One last review:


Okay, yes, there's kind of a drastic style difference between our old armchair and the new set, but they will just have to play nice together. I put one of the throw pillows on the armchair to help it tie in. Gonna call it eclectic and claim it was all planned this way. 
Meanwhile, the chair that came with the set is hanging out up against the wall. From here, it can easily be pulled up to the grouping if we're having a get-together, but it doesn't get in the way otherwise. You may be wondering why we wouldn't just put the olive armchair here and put this chair directly next to the rest of the set, but the armchair is kind of a beast and takes up a lot more space. Also, I love this groovy pattern next to the paneled wall. 

We knew the chaise would be a lot bigger than the old loveseat and actually taped out the size of it on the floor before we called the store to finalize the sale. But there's just about the right amount of room between the end of the chaise and the fireplace. 

We had a laugh when we got it all home and realized that the upholstery was nearly identical to our sectional in the basement. That's a cushion from the new set on the left and the sectional on the right. In person, it's even more obvious how close they are. I guess we like what we like.

Overall, we're super happy with it. It'll be great for entertaining, it's great by the fireplace, and it's actually really comfortable, which I don't think you can say about all furniture of this style. It also helps to bring in more of a midcentury modern tone to the room, other than the paneled wall and fireplace. Finally, for longevity's sake, I'm really glad it has unattached pillows and cushions, so we can rotate and fluff things as necessary. It might sound like a chore, but we're used to doing it with the sectional downstairs and would much prefer that to attached cushions that can't be removed and just get pancaked over time. (Not to name names, but Eric had a set like that as a bachelor and it... was very bachelory.)

Now we're trying to pick a paint color to unify everything and get rid of that odd red accent wall. We've sampled two so far (you can see samples on the walls in a few of these photos) but I don't think either of them is the winner. 

We're also hoping to get my family piano out of my parents' garage, but I haven't gotten a quote yet for how much that move might cost. (They're four hours away.) We think the piano will go against the wall where the tall bookshelf is, and at that point this room will be plumb full! 

Anyone want a massive potted palm?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Chaise Louaise

Well that was impulsive. We kind of just had a little furniture binge. It's pretty much my fault, but I must say that Eric was a very willing accomplice. 

It all started because I've been scanning Craigslist on a pretty regular basis in hopes of finding a nice living room set on the cheap. Some contenders popped up over the weeks, but there always seemed to be some issue. The upholstery was white, or it was in Hudson, Wisconsin, or the person had too many typos in their listing and I didn't trust them... you know, logical stuff like that. But then I found some listings from Cort Furniture, which is a company that rents out furniture for corporate rentals and then re-sells the used stuff. According to their website, "All furniture that is returned from rental is cleaned, reconditioned, repaired if necessary and offered for sale at up to 70% off the price of new retail." And I figured they probably delivered too, which would save us the trouble of figuring out how to get a Craigslist purchase home. So we went to check it out after work yesterday. 

It was pretty evident when we got there that they are interpreting that whole "cleaning, reconditioning, and repairing" thing very loosely. Stuff was meh, at best. We didn't last very long browsing. But then we decided to stop by the Hom Furniture in Bloomington since we were nearby, just to compare costs of used versus mid-range new furniture. 

And so yeah, then we bought a living room set. It was a floor model on clearance, so we are saving some cash there. And I realize that furniture stores mark everything on sale basically all the time, but... but... it was this whole TENT SALE thing, and then the lady gave us an EXTRA 10 PERCENT OFF... and it really will fit our space nicely and turn up the style in a way that would have been difficult to achieve via Craigslist. And in case you don't recall the current style of the living room, here's a reminder: 

The rattan set used to be in Eric's mom's sunroom. She was going to call some junk haulers to take it away, but then we volunteered to take it off her hands. The seats reallllyy need to be recovered...
... as you can see here. Still, we're glad to have this set and it's helped make the living room habitable for the past month. 
The big armchair at the fore here is staying. This shot shows the relation of the living room set to the fireplace. 

From the position of the loveseat, you're lined up with the fireplace. This is the best shot I've posted so far of the groovy copper fireplace surround. I want to find a vintage metal wall sculpture to hang there... 

... because it will be one of the best seats in the house on our new chaise! I love saying CHAISE. This is a catalog shot, obviously, but here's the set. We're getting the sofa, chaise and chair, although our chair is in a different pattern. 

So yes, kind of an impulse purchase, but we knew it would be necessary pretty quickly; just hadn't decided when to pull the trigger. This will also let us put the rattan set out on our screen porch and be able to enjoy a bit of fall sitting out there. The irony is that I thought buying from a store would make it easy because they'd deliver, but Hom actually doesn't deliver floor models so we have to get a U-haul anyway. Thhbbbt. And it's the first weekend of the month so U-hauls are pretty booked up with apartment movers. I reserved one for Monday morning, and when I called the store to tell them we were coming then to pick it up, the guy was like, "Actually, Monday isn't the best time; we'll be really busy on the floor that day." So then I was like, "Oh, I'm sorry, did we inconvenience you by purchasing furniture from your furniture store???" 

No, I just wish I'd said that. Instead I did the Minnesotan thing and said, "Well, that's the only time we can come for it, so..." 

And that's how we furnished the living room.