Thursday, April 28, 2011

Blues clues

Something new has popped up in the midst of our renovation, just in time for my birthday. Little blue boxes. No, I'm not talking about this kind of little blue box, although I'd much prefer the contents inside! I'm talking about this kind of little blue box. The kind that brings us power. Yes friends that's right. We're all wired up and ready for inspection. Wish us luck!!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

our best girl

I know I promised to be back next week with a weekend round up of our mini vacation, but tonight I find myself surprisingly awake with a full heart while my 2 best friends snore in tandem - one the couch next to me & one under my feet.

Since it's been a long long while since my girl wrote any of her own posts for
her blog, I thought I'd take a minute to catch you up.

In case you're new around here, my girl is this adorable little goldie.

Semilla Maya is her name (Mia for short) and she's my best friend. Well, my best girl friend that is.

This sweet little ball of fluff came home with her 2 adoptive gringo parents when she was only 6 weeks old.

Obviously it didn't take long for us to fall madly in love with each other....

...even when sometimes one of us wasn't so lovable.

But the good times always outweighed the bad...

....and this little sweetheart filled a place in our hearts that we didn't even realize was empty.

She became our partner in life, loving adventure as much as us......

....and adapting well to a crazy lifestyle of living out of our car for months at a time!

When it was time to leave the only home she had ever known......

......and her Guatemalan friends & family (her brother Michael).......

...this little girl put her trust in us and in turn we committed to give her the best possible life we knew how to give.

Jumping forward to present time, our latest adventure hasn't been exactly so much fun for all of us.

Our new home is hot & dirty & doesn't often allow much time for fun, but nonetheless our girl continues to love us even though sometimes we aren't so lovable.

And that is why she is our very very best friend. No one could ever take her place.

I guess I'm feeling a bit sentimental because this coming weekend we are going to leave Miss Mia away from our friends and family for only the second time ever. In her 18 months of life we've barley spent more than a day apart from her with the exception of our month long Central America vacation that ended in disaster. During that time our good friends stepped in to be psuedo mami & papi, but the whole experience was traumatic for our little family of three and we vowed to never ever be apart from each other like that ever again.

Life in the US though isn't often as carefree as the life we were used to in Latin America and rules are enforced rather than made from breaking. So in order for us to find some happiness ourselves (which we are really needing), we'll have to venture out without our faithful companion and with any luck we'll come home refreshed and rejuvenated, ready to make lemonade our of our lemons.

We know she'll be in good hands, staying with her friends at Club K-9, but there's still a little piece of our hearts that breaks thinking of her sleeping all alone instead of curled up at our feet. It's only 2 nights and she'll play all day, but we sure hope our girl knows that we'll always come back for her because without her our house just doesn't feel like a home. Without her, we don't know how to be a family. She is our heart.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

little projects

Sorry about my lack of posts recently. Things haven't been super exciting around here. We're making progress on a bunch of little projects, but still no rooms have been finished. I'm sure you're not shocked to hear that!

Here's a look at what we've been up to.

We gave the dining room wainscoting and picture ledge a final coat of paint.

The mudroom got some new coat hooks. (And I've been working on painting our Amish built monster bench).

A while back we installed this cute school house light fixture in there too.

We've turned every last square inch of space into a hothouse where we're cultivating little seedlings until our garden plot is ready. These are our new blackberry & blueberry plants. One day when we finally put in a fence we hope to put a small pergola over the gate and grow both blackberries and roses on it.

I spruced up some simple white romans with gray trim in my girl cave.

I'm working on a Rast hack for our guest room night stands.

I made a faux roman out of mini-blinds for the bathroom. Now I just need to frost the window so we can lift the shade permanently!

And this old college paint chip craft project is getting a makeover for it's new home on the front porch.

So there you have it - a bunch of little unfinished projects.

Hopefully things will pick back up again next week. This weekend we're finally leaving town for some time away to celebrate our April birthday. I'll report back on Monday with the where & wows.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

One hot mess!

Finally I'm back with a renovation progress report. Sorry about my long absence! I've been working a ton and taking advantage of this awesome extended daylight to tend to a few little projects on the back porch. By the time we settle down at night, I'm just too exhausted to blog something cute and witty!

But it's official now - our second floor renovation has begun! Along with all this mess, came the hot & humid temps that we've been fearing. Luckily it isn't too unbearable yet....and with all the windows open there's a nice cross breeze for the workers! So let's back up a bit to when this all began. Right before we purchased the home in September 2011, the previous owner added some expansion dormers to the second floor, as part of the sale. Also while providing us with a brand new roof, he turned the house's flat roof into a peaked one. It really changed the appearance of the house for the better, but we only had him do the exterior work which meant that the inside project was going to be our baby. So we gave ourselves some time to adjust and tackle a bunch of projects on the first floor, but now we're moving up!


(much better, right?)

For now the reno work only involves the front three rooms that involved the new dormers (and already have a permit pulled for them) - a master bathroom, walk-in closet & study (that we plan to use as a nursery one day). We're hoping once these first three rooms are mostly done, the other three will follow smoothly (bedroom, den & laundry).

I believe the official start date was April, 6th - Ben's birthday. I don't recall exactly, but sometime that week this is what our second floor was looking like.

Down came the popcorn ceilings....well only part of them!

Looking into the space that will soon be our master bathroom

Looking from the bathroom straight into the study

View of the study from the bedroom
Our poor future bedroom packed full of our stuff!

Like every major project we take on, things have been moving a bit slower than planned. Our carpenter's assistant quit on him, the plumber got a shard of metal in his eye, etc. etc. etc. I'm sure you can image.
Finally we got back on track with the framing and it began to resemble actual rooms rather than a dilapidated barn!

The study all framed up & waiting for it's french doors

The shower has a cute little alcoved bench that I designed to give us more space

Finally this week both the HVAC and plumbing work has been completed.

Plumbing is ready for a double sink console

And the shower is set too!

Prepare yourselves. This next photo is scary.

Let me explain. Since we're basically putting our ceiling right up against the roof (i.e. no more attic), there is very little space for the heating and cooling lines. We were given 2 choices. Down under the window (bench seat style) or up and over. While the bench seat sounded nice, it meant we would lose a lot of floor space which in turn would really limit the furniture arrangement in the den, so instead we chose up and over. Since the ceiling is peaked under that nasty popcorn ceiling, we'll be able to push that big guy higher up. It will still hang lower than the rest of the room, but we'll box it out and make it work. Plus, I think I may get a new bay window out of the deal!

The electrician will be coming early next week to work his magic and then we'll have our rough-in inspection. After that it's insulation & drywall. It certainly is stressful living like this, but I do love watching it all come together!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Another one

I'm sure you're all waiting on pins and needles to see that bathroom renovation progress, but I'm just too wiped to upload the photos tonight. How about tomorrow.....or more likely this weekend?

To hold you over though, here's some more abstract art love that I discovered today.

Lindsay Cowles

Awesome, right? I've already added this one to my list of amazing art that can be mine as soon as I rob a bank.

If I had only taken more art classes in high school instead of showchoir, I could possibly try my hand at some of my own abstract art. What the heck can you do with showchoir in your 30's anyway?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Opinions please!

Hey there. We need your help. We're a week or two out from pulling the trigger on the beginnings of our 2nd floor renovation and it's time to make some final decisions.

We're starting with the master bathroom (from scratch), walk-in closet & a small front study off the master bedroom. There will not be any work done yet in the master bedroom itself (just these 3 rooms off of it) or the new mini-den due to permits. Basically we have an open permit for the 3 rooms I mentioned so we need to do that work before moving on......that and because our money tree in the backyard hasn't begun to sprout dollars yet.
Over the weekend we made a special trip to Lowe's (and Home Depot....shhhh!) to scout out doors and windows.

The 82 year old doors in the rest of our home look like this.

We're sort of hoping to "update" the look on the 2nd floor; still keeping with the traditional bungalow style of our home but maybe making it kind of a "new traditional." As you can tell by the work we've done thus far, we prefer clean lines, lots of bright white and traditional materials.

New board and batten in the dining room
Traditional tile in the mudroom

And a sneak peek at our fireplace remodel

The 2nd floor has lower ceilings except for the front study which has a nice vault. This is the space of our future master bedroom.

Although we do plan to eventually put a skylight in the bedroom (over on the right side), there aren't any actual windows in it.......just the 3 that are in the front study which will be connected to the master by glass paneled french doors. Because of the lack of windows in addition to the low ceiling, we plan to keep that space white in hopes of down playing the low ceilings by making the wall/ceiling one and brightening things up by doing so. To make it a bit more architecturally interesting we'd like to do some type of board and batten on the wall behind the bed. Maybe something like this.

We've also tossed around the idea of adding some wall sconce reading lights like these...

or maybe these.

And I'd love to have the Colette Bed from Crate and Barrel........
and this Dwell Studio duvet duvet paired with a white coverlet and shams.

The master bathroom will have this look, as I'm sure you recall.

And we're thinking about highlighting the height of the ceiling in the study with a natural wood, like this.

Do you get a feeling for the look we're going for? Bright, clean, crisp with contrast - color, but nothing too bright? More serene than the 1st floor, where we are using some strong pops of color. Now, here's where we need your help. Do you think we'd be making a big mistake if we shook things up a bit upstairs with natural clean pine doors (no paint) and black window frames? Like these......

Black windows (and lighting) on white walls

Natural wood doors with white door trim (but not brass hardware).

You see we're worried that there is already going to be so much white up there, so if we do white windows and doors (like downstairs) that it will be a white overkill.
Of course we'll do a glass french door for the study, but we even like the idea of frosted glass doors for the bathroom and closet too. I think it will feel so much lighter than a heavy solid (non-glass) door. We don't have our minds 100% made up though since we're concerned about the cohesion between upstairs and downstairs. We've mentioned some of our ideas to the contractor but while he's done great previous work, it seems it's all been pretty "safe" traditional Charlotte style -white trim, white windows, white doors - so he doesn't really "get" it.

We know that typically our choices are a bit more unique than the norm, and we like it that way, but we also know this house isn't forever.......
So what do you think? Take the safe route that won't offend anyone, but also won't make us stand out in the crowd of mid-sized bunglows? Or go with our gut and pray that our efforts for being "unique" will be applauded?

Your opinions are greatly accepted and appreciated!