Thursday, December 23, 2010

Our alter egos

Ok, I know, I'm like waaaaay late on showing the "after" photos of the house. My excuse is that I've been too busy to pick up some memory cards for my new camera. But today I will. Sadly though (for you) we leave for Pennsylvania early tomorrow morning which probably won't allow for any photo taking until after we return in January. I know, I'm a terrible blogger these days. I'll try to be better in 2011.

So we're pretty excited for this trip. Not the actual 9 hour road trip, but the being home part.

Here are a handful of things we are looking forward to in random order.
  • holding our newest nephew Joel Andrew (born yesterday!)
  • playing with our other 4 nieces and nephews
  • Mia's first snow!
  • time with the cousins
  • a Master family Christmas, just like we used to have way back when
  • catching up with BJ & Mike
  • spending some time with Pa
  • a white Christmas (after a few years without!)
  • warming up by the wood stove
  • tomato bisque soup from the Brasserie
  • baking cookies
  • designing a bench for our mudroom
  • getting the heck out of NC for a while
  • play time with Sadie Boo
  • Wendy Jo's cookies
  • building a snowman
  • the annual Lengacher family gift exchange!
There's probably a ton of things I forgot to mention, but as you can see we're going to be pretty busy!

And I know this is a terrible segway, but bring the topic back around to this post's title (Our alter egos), I feel compelled to share a little secret with you all. Back in PA (well, only in Lancaster) we aren't known as Ben & Krista. Sometimes we are Uncle Ben & Aunt Krista, but more commonly we are know as Farmer Ben & Mrs. Ben. Huh? Yep. The Farmer & his wife.

From the Berenstain Bears!

Some how one day one of the little guys got a bit confused about Uncle Ben sharing the same name as a character he watches on TV and the 2 personalities merged. Uncle Farmer Ben. Naturally the Mrs. Ben came along with it. If you don't recall these 2 from the books you read as a child, here's a great character description we found on Wikipedia.

  • Farmer Ben, local farmer, neighbor, and family friend. Though good-hearted, he is not afraid to lose his temper when he feels things are unfair or not to his standards. He once hired Brother and Sister, along with their friends, to help with chores when he and his wife were about to lose their farm.
  • Mrs. Ben, Farmer Ben's wife. It is hinted that she often tells Farmer Ben what to do.
I'm not so sure Farmer Ben's description fits the build since I can't even recall the last time I saw the real Ben lose his temper (although he is good-hearted), but that Mrs. Ben is spot on. Every good man needs a Mrs. Ben behind him, right?

Merry Christmas!! Hope your holiday is filled with love, laughter and lots of joy!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Obsessed: wallpaper

Although I've had paint swatches coming out the wazoo around this place for the past couple of months, I have secretly been obsessed with wallpaper (not paint) the entire time. Paint is great. It's so easy and can really change a room quickly, but it's solid (I suppose unless you go faux) and I love pattern. Of course the rest of the world (aka future home buyers) probably don't love pattern as much as I do, so paint is a smarter decision in that sense. However, we've been trying to come up with a paint color that would complete the look of our black and white bathroom and we just can't find anything that feels right. Perplexed, I thought "what ever will we do?". Ah-hah! Wallpaper. So I suggested it to the husband (prepared to hold my ground in a full out battle), but much to my dismay, he simply smiled and agreed. And life was good again in an instant!

I'll never forget how much we (or at least I) loved the wallpaper in our new house that my family moved into when I was in 5th grade. It was so much cooler than the paint and paneling in our old house. It gave the whole house a sense of sophistication (even back then I had a thing for design!). It was the 3 paper combo type where the bottom half of the room is one print, the top another with a border in the middle. My parent's room had it, my brother's room had it, the bathrooms and even the dining room, but my bedroom didn't and I oh so wished that it did! Over the past 2 decades (wow - I'm old) that my family has lived in the house the patterns have changed a couple a times, but wallpaper always remained, mostly because it is such a nightmare to removed. Now though, with each passing summer my mom painstakingly tackles the removal of our beloved wallpaper in room after room. Out with the paper and in with paint. And I agree, it is time to say goodbye. I suppose all those differing styles in every room did make for a bit too much pattern, but I sure did love it. I wonder if my parents loved it as much as I did? Miss you old wallpaper!

Now for our bathroom project we're not talking about that country kitschy border loving wallpaper that was running rampant in my childhood home, we're talking bold geometric all over pattern. Take a look a few of my favorites that I found while searching for "the one".

A wooded bath.

Oh Imperial Trellis, how I love thee!

My favorite blue with feathers and a hint of metallic.

Again, blue with metallic.
Loving me some bling!

Classic black and white.
Just like what we're hoping to achieve in the bathroom.

Flocked with a dab of color.

Kitschy, in a mod sort of way.
I love that crow, but will the next buyer?

My color palette inspiration for the back guest/craft room!!
(note to self to keep this guy on file!)

Now this is what I'm talking about!
Metallic gold & black, Hicks Hexagon.

This toned down version of Hicks Hexagon was one of the front runners.
(But the gold would have won if this was our forever home!)

And finally, our winner.

White with metallic silver circles.
Just the right amount of classic sophistication with the shot of fun we were hoping for.

We think it will be awesome over our new white wainscoting and a black baseboard, with a black and white hexagon tile floor. The sample has been ordered and now we wait to see if it works.

Tom Petty is right, the waiting is the hardest part.

Monday, December 13, 2010

2 rights & a wrong

Last week I gave a teaser post with some crappy images of our newly trimmed and painted walls and I know that I promised pictures as soon as the new camera was in, but you're just going to have to hold off for a few more days. Sorry!! Yes we did get our new replacement DSLR this week, but we haven't yet purchased the memory cards so there is no photo snapping at this house yet! Plus today is a yucky, rainy, gray day and everyone knows that photos are always better with lots of natural light. In the mean time though, let me tell you a bit about how our weekend has been.

Do you want the good news or the bad news first?

Let's start with the bad, just to get it out of the way.

Remember when I mentioned in my
Lasting Loves post that we were having a custom corner desk built for our home office? Well yesterday it was both delivered and returned. Let me explain. We had hope to create some quality pieces that resembled Pottery Barn's Bedford Office System.

We found a local young guy with a promising portfolio to do the work. We met with him a couple of times over the past 2 months, reviewed the plans and he got to work. Unfortunately even after much measuring and discussing, the base unit pieces turned out way too big - like so big there wasn't even room for a chair!

But being the proper young southern gentleman that he is (he calls me 'mam and is only a few years younger than me), he promised to make the situation right. However, even after brainstorming solutions for nearly an hour we couldn't seem to figure out how to "fix" them to fit our space and still give us what we had wanted. Then it hit me. What if we didn't try to squeeze them into our office, but found a place for them somewhere else in the house?

In steps the unfinished master bedroom. We have been tossing around the idea of built-ins lining the walls where the slanted ceiling comes down. Even though it's the obvious storage solution for the space, we weren't so sure it was worth our investment (built-ins = $$$ & they have to stay with the house). But what if we pushed the end units together, slapped on some doors and added a continuous countertop? A piece that would fit into the space perfectly, but not be permanent. So that's what our "desk" is going to become, a faux built-in for the bedroom. Yay! Even though sleeping up there is eons away, I'm super excited to have the first piece of the big puzzle finished! And of course when it is finally delivered, I'll post it right here for you to see.

Now onto the rights.

We'll soon be delving into some serious tile projects at Casa Lengacher. We're planning to start with the mudroom. Then we'll move onto the fireplace & end up in the bathroom - and that's just the first floor. So considering that neither one of us has done any sort of tile work in the past (laying stone isn't quite the same), we decided it was time to educate ourselves, so we hit up a free class at The Tile Shop here in Charlotte.

We're planning on a matte black 2" hexagon mosaic with gray grout for the mudroom, like this.

And in the bathroom we're keeping it classic as well with a black and white 1" hexagon mosaic print, similar to what Erika did in this amazing Memphis home (scroll down to the first bathroom).

After a couple of hours learning the basics and getting our hands dirty, we feel not only prepared, but excited for our first tile project. I'll be heading back later this week to pick up the supplies.

And finally, we decided to try out another neighborhood restaurant, Loco Lime, after we both got a hankering for some authentic Mexican food.....if there is such a thing in Charlotte! We now consider ourselves in the "very experienced" category when it comes to most things Mexican, so here's how we rate it.

Authenticity: For a "New Mexican" restaurant we were surprisingly impressed with how right they got the Mexican part of things. The menu was full of real mexican dishes described just like they really would be south of the border. An added bonus was that the Spanish was written correctly - something that we've rarely seen, sadly!

Ambience: A bit too warehousey for us, the environment was lacking authenticity - except for the painted concerete block walls (but in Mexico they wouldn't even be painted!). There were a few cheesy sombreros, pinatas and throws that looked like someone may have made a weekend run to Tijuana, but as for "real" Mexican decor, this place had nada. We suggest they take a buying trip to the amazing artisan market in San Miguel de Allende or any touristic Mexican town for that matter, to add some authenticity to the place. Or if they'd rather, I'll go for them!

Taste: Good. Not great, but a solid good. I ordered Camarones ala ajillo (garlic sauteed shrimp) and it was tastely. Not garlicy enough for "real Mexico" but ok. Ben had a veggie burrito (with chicken). He said the flavor was nice, but the burrito was cold. There were several other items on the menu that we are interested in trying though, so we'll definitely be back. The beer list had some great options, and we both were able to have our favorites - Bohemia & Negra Modelo. We were even shocked to see tres leches (my favorite latin desert) on the menu and of course had to try it. Again, good but not great.

Hospitality: Our waiter was nice, friendly and made some helpful suggestions. He wasn't Latin and didn't speak Spanish (which would have added to authenticity), but overall he was nice & not too energetic, pushy or any of the annoying characteristics that a waiter can be.

Value: Of course the prices were like quadruple what they would be in Mexico, but we felt like we got a nice plate of food for the money. Ben would have ordered tacos, but when he saw that the price was $10 for 3 (mini tacos) he opted otherwise. Um, hello. In Mexico it costs maybe 30 pesos ($3) for 3 tacos - and they're good, real good. Again the tres leches really surprised us though. The slice was giant. Enough for 2 and even some leftover to take home.

Overall: We had a good experience overall. Good, not great. We'll definitely go back though and try something else on the menu and maybe even stop in for "All you can eat tacos for $10" some night.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

they're gone!

Finally, finally, finally my drywalling & painter friends are gone - well almost, there are still a few touch ups to be done. The past week has not been fun for us. We've been living trying to live in a white plaster dust covered home. It went ok for a while, but when the only bathroom got ripped apart, we packed our bags and ran to our home away from home here in Charlotte, the Drury Inn. Mia was thrilled to be back at her old stomping grounds and Ben & I were so ready to get off of our air mattress. But now it's Wednesday and we're back, but this house is still wrecked and I'm not exactly looking forward to putting it back into a semi-livable state.

There was that one little catastrophe with the living room floors,
remember? So this morning the painter (the responsible party) brought by the guy who is going to fix them. Turns out it's going to be more than just sanding them down and throwing on a coat of poly. He's going to need to redo the whole room. Stain & 3 coats of poly. That's 4 days of not living in the living room. I know in the grand scheme of things another 4 days is nothing, but I am so seriously ready to begin making this place a home and not just a big empty house.

The other little speed bump that we hit is with color. For the most part, we I made good choices, but again the living room threw me for a loop. In a moment of weakness, I freaked at how white the white was going to be and ran out for a creamier color (Benjamin Moore's Mascarpone). The floors were covered and I couldn't see any warmth in the room and I got cold feet. But when the samples went up there was terrible lighting (with gray skies for days) and I just couldn't tell. We himmed and haawed for 2 days and finally it was time to decide, so as a compromise we added 20% white to the cream and just went with it. Just my luck the gray skies cleared the next day, the sun came out and I of course, HATED the cream. At that point we couldn't do anything about it, so it looks like we'll be repainting in there. Plus the guys didn't do the crown molding in black like I had wanted. Ben calls it a miscommunication. I call it, they forgot. Oops. So we have to go back and do it ourselves too. And maybe even the hallway too. It's a custom greige that is too blah for me. We'll most likely wait to do it though until we open up the staircase in the spring.

So without further adieu, here are some sneak peeks. I haven't taken any official "afters" yet. I've been waiting for
this guy to arrive. Finally after months of missing the one that got stolen, it has finally been replaced! I apologize for the terrible quality of the photos below. The point & shoot that we replace is nothing like the quality of the one we lost, even though it's the exact same brand & a newer model. Ugh!

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Black & White, or not?

The other day I posted about some of my lasting loves in design and a few of them are soon on their way to becoming a reality.....or are at least being considered for it.

Here is the current state of our living room - at least structurally.
Obviously you can see that that fireplace needs some work. We considered taking it back to the original brick, but it's that sort of rigid dark red brick (aka ugly), so we quickly gave up on that idea and began thinking elsewhere. You can't see it well because if the screen in front, but there is a boring yellow brick on the floor that also needs some work too. To keep things classic, but yet still modern, we're hoping to add some white built-ins under the windows, enclose the painted brick with a nice wood surround and add black subway accent tiles. We're also considering taking the molding off of the mantle, stripping it down to the original wood and staining it to match the floor. I'd love to do a glass paneled sliding door on the built-ins, but depending on who and how we do them, we may just go with something stock.

This is the inspiration.
It's exactly how black and white should be done in my mind. Crisp but warm with lots of texture.

I also posted these pics of black trim.
You may recall when we were considering painting all the window trim in the house black. Well, because of privacy & lighting issues, it looks like we're going to put cafe style plantation shutters across the front of the house (including the living room). I don't love the look, but they are popular here and will help to give us privacy but still let in lots of natural light. So unfortunately that means that the black trim probably won't work since the shutters will be white. That doesn't mean that we can't ground a white room a bit with other black trim work.

We also have these great french doors that close off the living room from the dining room. We're liking the idea of painting them black along with the crown molding and the inside of the front door.
It's still classic & tasteful, but different. We like different. Different is good. Add some black drapes and all the white will surely be grounded. In addition to the black, we're also toying with the idea of a gray ceiling to warm things up a bit. I better decide quickly. The painter is coming soon!

The dining room is also getting a makeover with tall white wainscoting and a picture ledge.

I'm not sure yet exactly how it will be used, but this shade of blue will be used somehow in there too.
If not on the walls, then the curtains or a painted buffet. We'll see what I come across in my searching.

I think it's a nice compliment to the black and white and will help transition into the softer styled kitchen. And the teal will be carried on subtly with the cafe curtains that will eventually be hung in there.

In a fabric similar to these that I scored at a closeout for $3/yard.

What do you think?

Are you feeling the black & white or do you think it will be a big mistake?

Monday, November 29, 2010

Moving right along

Unlike most weeks at our ugly little bungalow on Pecan, work seems to have picked up around here. I guess there's nothing like a big turkey dinner to kick us into high gear. While I've been waiting for the moment when random men enter my home and take it over with their sledge hammers and pneumatic nailers for what seems like months now, I must admit that I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed and unprepared for the chaos that we now live in. Hello light at the end of the tunnel, shine a little brighter please because I CAN'T SEE YOU!!

I'm not the only one who is feeling more than a bit displaced.

Here's what's been happening since last weekend.

1. Gustavo our trim guy came and went and we now have half finished (it's not painted yet) wainscoting on our dining room and bathroom walls. All of our windows have been framed out with beaded stop and some other random pesky projects involving trim have been completed.

2. With no company knocking on our door, we whipped up a Thanksgiving dinner that could easily feed a family of 10. Now we eat leftovers morning, noon and night.

3. While Ben has seemed to get things a little more under control at work and therefore is able to spend more time at home, I on the other hand have been punching in and out a whole lot more than before. (Oh and if I didn't mention it already, I'm currently working a seasonal job at Pottery Barn.....more on that later).

4. 3 Mexican "sheetrockeros" (our Mexican painter's word for sheetrockers) came out to put a new ceiling in our living room (the old one was a nasty textured plaster mess). In a matter of minutes they found that it wasn't possible to just put the sheetrock up over the existing plaster so they had to tear the whole ceiling out. Unfortunately they didn't properly cover our recently refinished hardwood floors and now they are severely damaged in that room. The good news is that the painter (who hired the sheetrockers) is taking responsibility for it.......supposedly.

5. Our 2nd flakey Colombian electrician flaked on us and isn't able to do the work we need him to do in the time frame that the sheetrockers and painter need him to do it, so in turn this halted the work of the sheetrockers. They didn't like that they couldn't finish the job when they wanted to and apparently didn't feel like doing the other part of the work that they painter hired them to do, so they walked out this morning. I'm biting my tongue from making some comments that I may later regret, but let's just leave it at they sure don't have the work ethic of a Guatemalan.

6. Ben spent the better part of Sunday trying to get as much of the electrical work done as he could so that they sheetrockers would be able to finish their job. He got a lot done, but now it feels like his day could have been better spent.

7. While Ben was finishing up his electrical projects last night, Mia and I were trying to stay warm by cleaning and baking. Nothing goes better together than dust and chocolate chip cookies. The mudroom where Ben was working isn't insulated yet and it's connected to the kitchen by a door that was hanging wide open, so the house was absolutely freezing. Turns out it worked. Baking does help keep you warm. And the best part of it all was that while I was baking a got a Skype call from Teale in Colorado who just gave birth to baby Ayla a few days ago, so I got to meet the baby and chat with my much missed friend. (Big smile.)

8. It's not even noon yet today and already I have spent several hours cleaning up the mess that the sheetrockers left behind. Just one room and the shop vac was filled up with dust and debris. And since they pretty much ruined my mop over the weekend doing their version of clean up, I had a difficult time getting the damaged floors to a clean enough point in which the damage is visible for the repair guy to see. At least now I have good reason to buy the Bona mop I've been hearing such great things about.....but probably after all the mess is done.

9. So now we're waiting on baited breath for some other dudes that the painter hired (of course) to show up and work at fixing the cracks in the walls which need to also be done before the painter can get to work. Are you catching a theme here? This painter is anxious to get to work.
And if these new guys don't show, we're bailing out of this runaway train that our painter/conductor is driving and looking elsewhere.

10. And if you were wondering why all of our workers are immigrants, it's because we have a soft spot in our hearts for people who are trying to work hard to make a better living. Most of our past experiences have shown us that they really want to work, they really need to work, and usually do a good job and are very appreciative. While we are more than slightly annoyed at the happenings of the past few days, we still do believe that the sheetrock guys wanted to work and wanted to do a good job, but also were getting taken for a bit of a ride by the infamous painter and had to stand up for themselves. We really can't blame them for that.

With luck, hopefully I'll be back later this week with better news. Until then, I'm going to remain focused on choosing the paint shades, a task that has already proven to not be easy for this very type A, perfectionistic, terrible decision maker!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Lasting Love List

I've always been a little bit more than "into" design and decor, but it hasn't been until more recent years that I've really began to define my style. I don't think I can put a label on exactly what my style is, but if I tried it may sound something like "traditional meets modern, California classic seaside bungalow that is warm, light and airy with pops of bold color." How's that for a definition? Needs some work, I realize this. I have my likes, my loves and my definite dislikes (like a new build Colorado home covered in builder beige, multi-colored slate & the equally popular beige granite). Now that we're getting to the point of making design choices for our home, I am feeling the need to really honor the age and style of the home (1929 classic bungalow). I'm finding that with some tweaking, most of my loves can fit right in here. That's the part of my style definition where "traditional meets modern" - traditional in form & design, modern in color & pattern.

We realize that this home is far from our "dream home" or "forever home"; it's more like our "dream right now, practice home". We want to make good choices, smart choices for the house that will pay us back in the long run so we have more freedom to get carried away when we finally meet our "forever home". Unfortunately that means that some of the ideas that would take this house from great to amazing won't be making the cut (due to the home's footprint and our budget), but we're going to try to squeeze in as many as we can. Other things, like furniture, is a lot easier because we can begin investing in pieces we love now and then pack them up to take with us later.

Still though, I can't help but to dream about those "carried away" features that are and will continue to be on my forever lasting love list. Here are a few a bunch.

Open staircase
(We're hopefully going to make this happen, at least partially, in this home)
Dark hardwood flooring

Tall wainscoting
(already under way)

(it's a front runner in the upstairs finishes)

Gallery style artwork

(perhaps when with open staircase)

Deep bold color (used sparingly)
(loving this marine/teal for the dining room)

Large scale maps
(just you wait and see!!!)

Black and white (in a warm way)

(living room dreams)
cowhide rugs
(yes yes yes...please)

Black windows & trim
(it's being considered for the living room & bathroom)

(living room for sure & maybe upstairs)

A fun bar cart

(this sounds like a good DIY project)

Wood plank & beam ceilings
(upstairs? a beam for sure)
cut out mirrors
(a headboard?)

Tufted ottoman
(again, upstairs)
(maybe not on the walls....)

A giant corner desk unit
(custom desk currently being built)

Eames-like chair (to sit at the desk)
(gotta see the desk first)

Stripped metal furniture
(I'm searching, but vintage metal is hard to find)

A breakfast nook with built in window bench & bamboo chairs
(no space in this house. tear.)

Acrylic furniture
(possibly a finishing touch)

Classic display cabinet with sliding doors
(we've got a spot reserved in the living room)

Upholstered nailhead trim bed
(hmmm...King or Queen?)

Fun accent furniture
(sounds like a Craigslist find)

Campaign style furniture
(currently stalking Craigslist)

Nailhead upholstry
(remember my wingback chair?)

Seagrass rugs &/or carpeting
(rugs for sure. carpeting?)

Got any other great ideas I can add to the list?