Sunday, November 25, 2012

Oh (Possessed Elf) Christmas Tree

In 10 years of dorm and apartment living, I never had the space or the inclination to mess with a Christmas tree. But last Christmas finally seemed like the time to get one. We were still in the condo then, so we wanted something mini-sized. This year, although we finally have the space for something bigger, we're sticking with the same one. While it may be a little under-scaled for the living room, it's the right scale for our budget at the moment. I just put it up tonight and it makes me happy happy.

Here she is. It's a four-foot tall economy special from Target, and no, actually that is not a flaming pentagram on top. 
It's a vintage elf tree topper with crazy flashing lights. I went on a manic eBay search last year for the ideal tree topper, and when I came across this one there was just no question. (If you are similarly enthralled, search for "Pixie Circle of Light." They can usually be found for around $15.) 

Among Eric's many wonderful qualities is that when I seize on an idea like this, he is usually happy to go along for the ride. (See also: peacock gravel art.) I posted a picture of this guy on Facebook last year, and my friend Jess wrote, "That thing is going to come alive while you sleep." Alive with holiday spirit, amirite?!
My mom collects a dated bulb for every year, and last year she had this one made for us to start our own collection. My mom is swell.
Happy holidays, y'all! I hope your month ahead is filled with warmth and sanity.

Saturday, November 17, 2012


We have reached the "dust is everywhere" stage of remodeling. I don't think I noticed it as much during the week because it's already dark when we get home from work now, but today when I saw the living room and rec room in natural light I was like, "Oh, okay, this is filthy." 

But I can't care too much about the dust because this makes it all worth it...

Primed drywall (we did that ourselves!) and new plywood on the floor (we did not do that ourselves).

Eh meh geh, cabinets! They started to install these yesterday and will finish next week with the uppers. It's definitely weird to see the island there since that's the biggest change in the layout and it's situated differently than the old peninsula. But I know we'll get used to it. Plus, when the counter is installed on the island it will have an overhang on the back, which will take up some more visual real estate and balance it a little. 
Here's the front side of the island. We may or may not have repeatedly opened and closed the drawers to play with the soft-close feature.

I don't think I've posted anything from this angle before. That's the door to the garage on the left, and the louvered door on the right leads into the living room. There's also a pantry closet in that little passageway but it's not part of the remodel, except for the light we're having installed above it. If I get real handy someday I might install slide-out shelves in it.

There's the latest. Next week they'll finish the cabinet installation and start on the floor. Originally they had planned to install the floor first, but then we chose a "floating" floor instead of a glue-down kind and apparently it's better to install that after cabinets. I'm just glad the plywood is down now to keep more debris from falling into the laundry room. 

I will leave you with a thrilling flooring preview:

Sunday, November 11, 2012

My Mod Fireplace Art Find

The peacock gravel art was not my only great find the day I went shopping with my mom. We also went to HomeGoods, where I stumbled across an ideal "art" piece for above our living room fireplace. Remember back when I wrote that I was looking for a vintage metal wall sculpture to hang in that space? Well, I was scouting eBay for a while and it started to sink in that I might not strike gold there. First, the space I was looking to fill was pretty large, so I ruled out a lot of the smaller pieces I found. But second, bidding is pretty competitive for those things! Most of the ones I saved in my watch list ended up going for well over $100. Yes, I understand that is actually a very low price in the art world, but we have a few other demands on our budget right now (we're on day 12 without a kitchen, not that anyone's counting) so there was no way I could justify spending that much on a purely esthetic element.

So, back to HomeGoods, where I found this:

How could I pass it up? Metal, large-scale, mod geometric lines, and $30! Total jackpot. The funny thing is this is actually a wine rack. Look, Target has one that's really similar. But that's just between us, okay? I fully plan on telling people that I found this in an exclusive art gallery called H. GΓΌdes. Yes, there's an umlaut.
(Please disregard the boxes holding our kitchen light fixtures and the fact that the door is taped off with plastic.) We got lucky in that there was already a picture hanging doodad installed way up high on the fireplace surround. I definitely wanted to work with that instead of figuring out how to drill new holes in the metal and whether or not there was brick behind it all the way to the ceiling. So, I hung it up and it looked nice, but the black color wasn't quite doing it for me. I wanted it to pop a little more and coordinate better with the other metal tones. And that is why I decided to spray paint it. 
The spray painting took place on a drop cloth in the unfinished area of the basement. It was a little huff-tastic, but it is November in Minnesota, so doing this outdoors was not going to happen. See the little screw holes? I masked those off with painter's tape because I wasn't using them to hang it, and if these blend into the background a little that's just fine with me. Maybe someday if I get really strong wire shears I can snip them off but for now I'll just camouflage.

The tools: Krylon Metallic paint in Copper (which I found at Michael's) and  the Rust-Oleum Comfort Grip! I picked up the Comfort Grip at Home Depot prior to the vent painting project. I want to say it cost around $6, and I initially wondered if it would be useless, but it's totally not. If you're spray painting something for any length of time, this relieves finger cramps and helps you spray evenly.
A few coats later, bada-bing! It totally belongs there. 
See the black screw holes toward the bottom? You have to look reaaallly hard to spot them. 
I'll try to get a better picture tomorrow when we have some daylight. I still want to post some more shots of the rest of the art in the living room, but things are pretty disheveled in there with the kitchen stuff in the way. This is one big decor item checked off the list though, and for only $30. Or $36, if you count the cost of the spray paint. I'm pretty chuffed by this project!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Bathroom Sprucing

In news of other, smaller projects, a few weeks ago I took the vent covers off in both of the upstairs bathrooms because they were gross and rusty. 

retro vent covers
After taping off the plastic knobs, I went to town spray painting them. Everything I know about spray painting, I learned from Young House Love. Apparently the key is to do many thin coats and to always keep your arm moving. This is a partial explanation for why it took me two to three weeks to complete this simple project. I started outside and put a few coats on, then moved them inside to the unfinished area and put down dropcloths to do some more, and then I'd just forget about them for a few days, then check in and decide yep, they still needed more paint. 

Finally, two days ago I declared them done and put them back. But. Now that I look at how much more beige they are than the before photo, I'm not sure I love them. This may call for a re-do at some point, but they'll do for now. Definitely an improvement over the rust. Side note: Posting this photo really drives home to me how much I need to deep clean the grout in the bathroom. 

Additionally, re: the bathroom. My parents came for a visit two weeks ago and I took my mom to the antique shops in downtown Hopkins. Our stay there got cut short, but not before I found something that I had to take home with me. Will you like it? I don't know; do you like things that are fabulous?

peacock gravel art
It is a peacock made of aquarium gravel on black velvet and it's pretty much... the greatest?! No, actually, the greatest is what I paid for it, which was $11. Now some of you are scoffing that a person would pay anything for this, but I just made an amazing discovery of the exact same thing on eBay, in a pair, that is selling for $150! And there's actually a bid on it! Did they sell these in kits like paint-by-numbers or something?

Well you know this is going to spark a collection. Soon we'll be calling it the peacock bathroom. And I am not ashamed. 

Friday, November 9, 2012

Walls and Insulation and Ponies and Butterflies

I came home to find a strange man on stilts in my house today, but no biggie, he was just mudding drywall and now we have glorious new waaalllsss. Thank you, strange man on stilts!

I should back up. Before the drywall, they did electrical work and an inspection on that, then sprayed this lovely new insulation so it will no longer be freezing when you reach inside our cabinets. 
Here's a view of some of our new pot lights, as well as the hole in the ceiling where the ugly fixture used to be.

Now it's starting (just starting) to look like a room! The drywall process is actually moving faster than we'd anticipated. Since we told our contractor that we'd prime and paint on our own as a cost-saving measure, today he sent me an email to say that the walls would be ready for priming on Tuesday. Eep! I had not quite pieced together in my head how that workflow would go, but I guess it does make sense to do it now and avoid having to tape off all the cabinets, etc. But I don't think we'll be able to decide on a paint color without the other elements in the room (particularly the counter, which we don't have a sample of). So I may have to settle for just priming on Tuesday and do the actual painting the hard way after everything is installed. I have not yet run this idea by the contractor to check if that's idiotic.
 That's the latest! Things are really moving along. We actually breathed a big sigh of relief last week when the demo didn't uncover any tragic issues inside the walls. As previously stated, I watch way too much HGTV, so I had kind of steeled myself for a problem at that stage. Instead it's been swift progress. Hope I didn't jinx anything by saying that.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Making Do

Well, we're coming up on a week without a kitchen. Over the weekend, a few people asked me what our temporary setup is like, so I will tell you: It is messy, and yet to be perfected. I think we had pizza delivered on five of the past six days. But yesterday I went to the grocery store and I think we have some delicious sandwiches in our future.

The demo actually wasn't fully complete in my last post because the linoleum was still on the floor. Once they pulled that up, it occurred to me that I had failed to account for the fact that the gaps in the subfloor would allow a bunch of dust and cruddy crud shavings to fall through into the laundry room below. There's nothing to do about it really until the new floor goes down. Until then, I'm glad the laundry room is unfinished?

Here's a bit of our temporary kitchenette setup in the rec room. GLAMOUR. Hey, see that D-Con package on the book shelf? Funny story: After the discovery of all the mouse poop under the cabinet, I bought some poison, thinking it would just be precautionary during the winter, especially since we'd be eating downstairs more. The package said to move the bait if it hadn't been touched after three days, and I was all, "How would I know if a little mouse has a little nibble on it? How do you judge a thing like that?"

Turns out it's very easy because JERK MICE EAT ALMOST THE WHOLE PACKAGE. So yes, this is great news. We definitely have mice. My mom has also pointed out that poison not be the best way to go since then mice can die in your walls and be smelly. But I'm torn, because I've used traps in a past apartment (I'm not gross, I've just lived in a lot of old buildings) and come home to find a mouse trapped only by its hind leg, which left me to finish the job with the nearest heavy disposable thing. Ironically, from the mouse's point of view, it was a Lucky magazine. 

Tangential: The last time you saw the "fourth bedroom" it was filled with cardboard boxes. We've since cleared those out and moved the patio furniture in for the season. I'm now calling this room the salon. (You have to say it with a pretentious accent and emphasize the first syllable.) I'm not kidding myself that it will ever be used. Basically I just think it's funny. Even more tangential: I was born on this rug. It's a long story of a short labor, but the upshot is that my parents kept the rug in their garage for 30 years and then gave it to me once I finally had a place for it. In my mouse-infested salon. 

Anyway, I guess the plan is to just be really OCD about cleaning up food remnants in the basement and keeping anything tasty packed away in glass containers. Uhhh gross I hear something in the wall RIGHT NOWWWWW. I hope you have a massive tummy-ache, jerkwad. Please die outside.