Thursday, March 22, 2007

Is there a 12-step program for this problem?

I have a confession. I’m an IKEA addict. As might have been obvious from some of the previous entries, with which one could play quite a rousing game of ‘spot the IKEA product’.

Thank goodness S likes IKEA too. Well, not so much the going to the store part. More the reasonably attractive furniture at a low cost part. I love the store – the cheap breakfast, the cute little fake apartments and room displays, and the Market. Oh my goodness, the Market. So much stuff I want to buy! But I understand his loathing of the store, since it can be fairly nightmarish, what with all the stupid people and the hugeness, so I don’t blame him for occasionally suggesting the Toddler of Terror and I go amuse ourselves by spending money while he stays home and yells at an NBA game. It means he has virtually no contribution to what furniture I actually buy, but I think avoiding the store is worth it to him! And the ToT loves running around the children’s section testing out the display furniture and toys.

I know lots of people look down on IKEA, but I really think if you stick to their mid and upper range lines, you’re getting good furniture at a great price. The cheapest stuff will fall apart on you, and there is a limit to how many times you can take a piece apart and put it back together again, but I don’t think they can be beat in terms of what you get for the money. And I enjoy putting the stuff together – I find the instructions are easy to follow, and it’s like doing a big puzzle. Yes, I am a freak. I’ve even been known to offer to assemble other people’s IKEA. I look forward to the day we remodel the kitchen mostly because we’ll almost certainly use IKEA cabinets and I’ll get to put them together.

Anyway, due to the IKEA addiction, our living room is perilously close to looking like an IKEA showroom, what with the Ektorps and the Billys and the Leksviks and especially with the recent addition of the Leksvik coffee table.

Now, we purchased the coffee table mostly because we knew it would match with the bookshelves and the TV stand that comprise our entertainment unit, and not because we absolutely love it. Frankly I’d prefer something in that wood that was simpler. However, the cubbyholes appeal to me because with the Toddler of Terror in the house, it’s a constant battle to keep our decorating style from turning from ‘clean and comfortable’ into ‘Did Toys ‘R’ Us throw up in here?’. We like to keep the toys as hidden away as possible after the ToT goes to bed. Or at least stored somewhere that isn’t the middle of the floor. So I also picked up the Branas baskets that fit into the cubbies, figuring they’d make useful toy storage, but frankly I don’t like how the baskets look, and we’ve already got a billion baskets for the ToT’s toys and we’re going into basket overload.

By pure happenstance, the day I bought the coffee table I also stumbled across some raw wood boxes at Jysk on sale. Jysk is a Danish chain that is kind of like if someone took IKEA and shrank it down to the size of a normal home store - lots of cheap curtains and cushions and bedding and a small line of furniture and TONS of super cheap Scandinavian stuff you never knew you needed until you walked into the store. Their feather beds are AWESOME.

Anyway, I bought a few of the boxes in varying sizes, figuring they were cheap and I could maybe use them to store craft and sewing supplies.

It turns out, the largest one that I bought? Fit the cubbies on the coffee table like it was specifically made for that purpose. One on each side, and suddenly I have a Leksvik with drawers. In fact, that size box fits a little bit too well, since the only way to take it out is to shove it through the coffee table and out the other side. Which, you might guess, is extremely frustrating to the ToT; the concept of through and out the other side is a bit beyond her grasp at this point.

So, while the idea was good, it needed a little work to make it useable. I just love the Ikea Hacker, and figured it would be easy enough to modify the boxes to make my Leksvik work better for us.

The raw wood of the boxes didn’t really appeal to me and didn’t fit with the rest of the room. So I primed the boxes and painted them with the same paint we used on the walls of the living room. I also put on a couple of coats of spray varnish just to seal everything up nicely.

The addition of some inexpensive knobs from Lee Valley, possibly the only store I love more than IKEA, and voila. My Leksvik coffee table now has drawers. Plus I had knobs left over to replace the ones that came standard with the Billy doors, so it’s all coordinated and junk. We’re so fancy.

It looks better in person than in photos, since I just can't get the colour to come out correctly in pictures. I only did drawers on the bottom so I can have the top cubbies for stuff like the ToT’s art paper and storing the laptop when it’s not in use (uh, that would be NEVER, but whatever). Eventually I might get some more boxes and complete the top as well, particularly since the acquisition of new toys continues at a seemingly exponential rate. Currently almost all the drawers are empty, but I expect that situation to resolve itself soon, given that the ToT has a birthday coming up…

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Gettin' Creative

Man, framed stuff is expensive. Also, most of it is hideous.

My solution? Three $7 frames from Jysk and a couple of fat quarters of batik fabric from my fabric stash:

I'm quite pleased with them - they coordinate well with the wall and furniture colours, and if I get bored or find something I like better I can swap them for other fabrics.

Monday, March 19, 2007


We have FOUR COFFEE TABLES in the basement. Four. FOUR! That's one more than we have people in the house.

Bulk garbage collection day cannot come soon enough.

Lots 'o pictures

OK, photos of our progress. Note that most of the colours appear a bit washed out here and are much more intense in real life:

The dining room before:

With a coat of paint (Behr Wheat Bread):

The living room before:

The living room now – new paint colour! Home Depot Behr Mocha Accent is the dark colour, Wheat Bread is the light colour (used also in the dining room and hallways), and we used pure white on the trim. Don’t ask me about those colour names – if I got a loaf of bread that colour, I’d send it back and demand to know what was wrong with it. And since when is mocha a dark grey? I’d love to do crown molding in here, but as S rightly pointed out, we don’t expect to live in this house for that long, and it’s probably not worth the money to install it and only have it for a year or two before we want to move.

I was worried I’d made a horrible mistake with the paint colour after finishing the first wall, but once I got it on all three walls I absolutely love it. It’s dark but neutral, so it doesn’t overwhelm you or make the room seem appreciably smaller. And I really couldn’t be happier with how the white trim contrasts with the wall. The two smaller Roman Shades should really be about an inch narrower, but I’m not motivated to take them down and alter them right now, and they look OK as is. Not perfect, but I can live with it.

The front hall with wallpaper:

The front hall now – wallpaper gone, walls and trim painted:

The powder room before:

The powder room after many coats of paint*, new mirror, light fixture, sink, and faucet. It’s the same yellow as the kitchen, which is a tad too bright for such a small space, but I had ¾ of a can left over that I didn’t want to waste:

I painted the countertop with a faux-granite spray paint and then put on approximately 12 coats of varnish. It looks pretty good.

*yellow is SUCH a pain in the ass colour to paint with. Although I really should have primed first, so it’s my own damn fault.

We also painted the upstairs hallway (also Wheat Bread with white trim), but that’s too boring to photograph. The basement is a mess again, so I’m not sharing photos of that disaster.

Some bulbs are sprouting in the backyard, which is exciting. Nothing yet out front, and I suspect the squirrels got into things out there, so I’m not sure if any of the bulbs I planted out there will show up.

What’s next? Have to finish the window treatment in the living room – some sort of valence and a cushion for the window seat. And the spare room needs new flooring and a coat of paint. And I want to try painting the closet doors in there as a test to see if it can be done, and if so, will it look better or worse than the current fake-wood ugliness. If it looks better, I’ll paint all the sliders in all three bedrooms. Plus that whole list of stuff in the last post. I’m slowly realizing that this home ownership thing is a never-ending series of projects!

Monday, March 12, 2007

Worst. Bloggers. Ever.

OK, so we've done SO MUCH. And there are pictures. They just aren't, you know, on here.

Since the last time I posted, we got the living room organized, got the dining room organized, got the spare room organized, hosted a bazillion* family members for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, finished painting and organizing the basement, took down the ugly-ass wallpaper in the front hallway, de-organized the dining room, de-organized the basement, painted the front hallway, re-organized the dining room, painted the powder room (including my first foray into plumbing! I replaced the sink and faucet all by myself! Although it isn't, technically, finished or to code yet!), replaced most of the ceiling light fixtures (although, funnily enough, NOT the two I referred to in my previous post), organized the linen closet and tripled the shelf space, painted the upstairs bathroom, painted the upstairs hallway, and I'm currently sitting in the living room, which is, guess what, IN SHAMBLES because I'm in the process of painting it, too.

*number may not be accurate

Once the living room is done, the only room in the house that won't have been painted/improved is the spare room, which still has the nasty 1970'2 carpet and the boring white walls. But the rest of the house will look fantastic! Or at least finished. Right now I could just go for finished.

I make no promises, but I will attempt to load up some pictures in the next few days.

Things on the to-do list:

  • new curtains for the bay window to go with the new colour scheme
  • find some nice artwork for the living room and master bedroom
  • childproof the Toddler of Terror's room so that if she takes it into her head to climb out of her crib in the middle of the night she won't have anything in there she can use to kill herself
  • replace or paint ugly-ass ceiling fan
  • replace dining room light fixture
  • replace light fixtures in spare room and Toddler of Terror's room
  • get quotes on new carpeting
  • call plumber to replace half-assed temporary solution to misaligned drain problem in powder room (I actually know exactly how to fix the problem there - the new sink has a drain in a slightly different place than the old one and the trap no longer lines up correctly - I'm just scared to try and fix it because I suspect I'll screw it up, so for now there's a flexible rubber tube connecting the drain to the trap)
  • look into refinishing the dining room floor
  • paint spare room
  • lay laminate in spare room
  • get new kitchen faucet
  • dream about new kitchen

I'm sure there are 18 thousand more things to do that I'm not thinking of right now.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Oops - no, we didn't stop renovating!

No, we're still here, still working on the house. We just haven't blogged for a while.

Got a whole bunch of catch up to do, since the dining room was finished, then we added a bunch of furniture (and a fancy new TV) to the living room, and now the dining room is full of boxes and old living room furniture. So the dining room is full of crap, although we did get the walls and trim painted and it looks very nice.

The spare room was organized, then my parents showed up with a single bed for it (thanks, mom & dad!), and between the sudden reduction in space and rearranging the living room, the spare room is now in total shambles again and needs to be organized. But the living room looks fabulous!

And the basement has been painted, the carpet pulled out and replaced with peel & stick tiles, and the stairs painted. The trim needs to be painted and the stairs need another coat of paint. But the real problem is there's a water leak in one corner that needs to be fixed, and that meant taking down some of the paneling, plus there are a whole bunch of boxes that need to go into storage. Also some broken glass. And a pile of Christmas presents for the baby. So it's a total wreck. And since most of the stuff that was in the living room is moving down there, we can't get the dining room cleared out until the basement is finished.

In minor projects, we painted the ugly vanity in the half bath. Now it's not aggressively offensive anymore, just kind of there. I want to paint that bathroom (since at the moment the colour is a kind of flesh-coloured peach, which, EWWWW. And I think the trim is blue. It's not horrible, but it's not nice.).

Other things to do: replace the ventilation fan in the bathroom. This has been an ongoing project for, oh, 3 months now. Also we have a couple of light fixtures that are nicer than the ones in the baby's room and the spare room, and I just haven't gotten around to swapping them.

And the linen closet is a massive disaster.

And we have to find someone who wants our old sofa and is willing to get it out of here so we can bring in the couch we are taking from my inlaws, which is a much nicer piece of furniture.

Oh god, it's all just TOO MUCH!

I'll put up some pictures later today. Maybe.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Kitchen

So, here's a reminder of the cupboard I bought from the town:

Now, given the relative tinyness of my kitchen, I needed more storage space. Note all the nice empty space above the cupboard. So, when I saw these pieces of wood in the garage, left by the previous owner, I got an idea:

I cut them down to the length I needed and painted them with the same paint I used on the cabinets:

And now, I have more storage space! Also you can see the almost completed cabinet:

And here, my completed kitchen, which I LOVE:

There is now a roman shade on the kitchen window, and the table has been removed from the kitchen to leave an open space, since I'm still not sure exactly what I want to do there. Eventually I'd like to replace the top on the cabinet under the shelving so that it extends out on at least one side so someone could sit there and use the top of the cabinet as a table. I originally wasn't overly fond of the pots hanging over the sink, but they've grown on me, and they're very convenient and let me get more stuff in the cabinets.

Next step, painting the basement (that would be S's little project - paint was purchased today!) and the dining room. I'm still debating on colours for the dining room, but will probably go with a neutral taupe of some sort. It has to go with the yellow of the kitchen since there's one shared wall that will be half yellow, half whatever colour I paint the dining room. I'll probably try and find a piece of molding or something to put over the paint line and help visually divide the two spaces. Also I want to get some molding to put around the edges of the shelves I added in the kitchen since the wood is pressboard and the edges are pretty rough.

Oh, and most of the trim in the kitchen is still blue or unpainted, and I need to paint it white. But that involves taking the blinds off of the sliding door, and so far I haven't felt like doing it.

But the kitchen is basically done and it's pretty and it's functional and I'm happy, happy, happy!