And Then There Was Grout...

SUPER busy few days here after Christmas!  The Builder worked double duty these past few days to get the entire bathroom grouted, both the shower and the floor.  What we didn't know before we put the grout in is that it's supposed to cure for 30 days.  30 DAYS!!!  Yeah, so this project is carrying on into 2014. It still need a good cleaning, but it's one more step done.

While the grout is curing, we got busy on some of the other elements in the room.  Like a light fixture.  Take a look at the current fixture, in all it's 80's glory:

I was at Lowe's today and they still carry this light fixture.  I can't believe that they carry it after 20+ years. STILL. Aside from the fact that it's inexpensive, just $20, who on earth would buy it?! I'm sure at some point in time, this was considered a modern fixture.  But I think it's hideous, and after all the effort we've gone to in updating the bathroom, this fixture was NOT staying.

You can see here where the cabinet was, the old mirror, and even the medicine cabinet that was in the wall.  We took it all out.  I've found a couple of different options to replace the cabinet that will keep it from looking so closed in, so we just need to decide what option will work best in here.  So that's still a work in progress.

I looked at several modern fixtures that I really liked, and all were similar in cost to what I eventually decided on, but ultimately, we stuck to a more traditional style.  The photo on Lowe's web site has an antique nickel finish (which I actually really like!!) but we got a standard brushed nickel to match the rest of the bathroom and the fixtures.  

Here's what we are installing:

Yes,  a vast improvement.  A tad more traditional than what I wanted, but The Builder liked it and it works well with our overall look, so we bought it.  

We also bought a bathroom vanity.  I know, just yesterday I said that we are building one.  And we are.  But that's going to take some time and I still have to order the vanity top. And at this point, we need a functioning bathroom, complete with a sink.  So while walking the aisles looking for some plumbing supplies, we came across this small vanity, which I thought would be a vast improvement over the larger vanity that is in the powder room downstairs:

The grand plan plan is still to build the vanity, but this will be what the kids are using until it's actually built.  And once the custom built vanity is in, we'll move this down to the powder room downstairs.  Because there's no way I'd waist money buying a temporary vanity that we'd only use for a month or two and then toss!

We bought a few less exciting things with a second trip to Home Depot as well. Molding for the baseboards, since the previous baseboards were unusable once we re-tiled. A new wax ring to re-install the toilet (did I mention completely unexciting items?).  And this bathroom faucet:
This fixture will be staying once the vanity is built. The powder room downstairs already got a faucet sink upgrade last year when we refreshed the room (kicking myself for buying a cheaper fixture, but who knew we'd be buying the house?!) so when this vanity goes back downstairs, we'll just swap out the faucets.

I don't want to drill holes into this vanity to install a toilet paper holder, so we also picked up this one from Home Depot:
Yeah, not exciting, and I'm hoping my boys don't try to turn it into a sword.  But that vanity is small and I don't want the toilet paper rolling around on the floor, so this was a practical solution.  And who knows, if I like it, may just end up staying! We shall see. 

We finished up the day by removing the light fixture and texturing over the spots that we replaced the drywall.  I would post photo's, but in order to remove the light fixture, we turned off the power to the bathroom.  By the time we taped everything off and did the texture spray, it was getting late and there wasn't enough light to take photo's.  The Builder plans to get up first thing tomorrow morning and put a fresh coat of paint over the entire bathroom. Then we'll install the light and the new electrical box (we're putting in a 4 plug to replace the 2 plug that never provided enough outlets) and bring the vanity up.  Then, just maybe, it will start looking like a bathroom again!

Pardon The Mess...

The Builder and I took the entire week of Christmas off to spend time with our family. :)  I convinced him that the day before Christmas and Christmas Day are non-work days, but we're itching to get this completed!

Monday was spent laying floor tiles in the bathroom.  I am THRILLED at how they look.  In fact I'm so excited, I'm going to show them to you without any clean up having been down of the grout being completed. You know, the stuff they never show you on the home improvement shows!

Yes, here it is, in all of it's dirty, unfinished glory.  Don't you love it?! Can you almost see the tweed pattern in the tile? I can't wait to mop it and really show how pretty it is.  I'm loving the tile pattern too.  On Saturday, I was watching one of my favorite HGTV shows, Property Brothers, and they showed a bathroom they did with a just a glimpse of this pattern on the floor.  And I KNEW I had to have it my bathroom!  In fact, I rewound it and waited for The Builder to come back into the room so that I could show him.  And he agreed that he could do something like that.  I just love that he humors me (because rest assured, he could care less about a staggered tile pattern on the floor!).  I missed taking photo's of the orange under layment that he installed, but suffice it to say, we will never have problems with a sub floor rotting out if the tub or toilet should over flow again.  Because gutting an entire bathroom down to the studs is something you should only have to do once in a lifetime...

Also in it's unfinished state, here's a peak at the tub/shower tile nearing completion:

The Builder is currently upstairs cutting all the finishing tiles for this project.  We tiled all the way to the ceiling (great way to find out your window and ceiling aren't plumb). The small, weird pieces in the photo are just so the tiles on the ends wouldn't sag while they were setting. Once the remainder of the tiles are installed, we'll be able to grout the entire bathroom and install the toilet. We've been using our microscopic master bath shower during this renovation for all six of us, and while the vanity hasn't even been started  this will at least give our kids a toilet upstairs again, as well as a functional shower. Priorities, right?!

Side note:  Have you ever priced bathroom vanities??  INSANELY expensive unless you want a cheap one coated in plastic - which I do not.  So The Builder has agreed to make one for me.  We'll still have to order a bathroom counter top and purchase a sink, so not a huge cost savings (is now the time to tell him what I'd really love order is a recycled glass top?!), but much better quality and will be exactly what we want, so no complaints.

I'm also debating taking the cabinet above the sink down and replacing it with floating shelves.  We've never really used it and I feel it makes the bathroom feel more closed in than what it is.  Ideally, I'd love glass floating shelves, but we shall see.  We also took down the monstrosity of a mirror that all builders install, and have plans to cut it down and frame it out.  Still on the list of things to do is install new baseboards (the old ones had water damage and additional damaged from the multiple layers of flooring that were butted up to them), take out the old in-the-wall medicine cabinet (more floating shelves are replacing it!) and a fresh coat of paint.  With taking out the vanity and mirror, you can see that this bathroom is on it's third paint color since the home was built, and it just makes sense since everything it out, to make sure it's all painted fresh.    The Builder also wanted to install a glass sliding shower door, but so far, I am resisting.  I hate them.  He's going for practicality.  We shall see...

Oops, The Builder saw me working on this post with the above photo and all the clutter in the tub.  He pointed out that while I was typing, he cleaned out the tub.  So at his request, here's a less messy photo :) :

Beyond Demolition

The Builder was indeed rained out last Monday and spent the day working on the bathroom.  But because I was at work, you won't find those photo's here today.  He rarely remembers to take photo's (probably because I'm always following after him with my camera, :) ).  He worked on Friday, but he was anxious to get back to our project today.  We're officially done with demo, hooray, and have moved on to installation.

Last night we headed out to Lowes to pick up the shower tile.  What marvelous and creative tile did we choose you ask?
Bad photo from Lowe's web site, but this is plain white subway tile.  Yep, plain white! (I know, the color looks similar to a bone or off white in this photo - it's not) OK, I love color, and there is a lot of beautiful tile to choose from these days.  But there's a practicality with white subway tile.  Should I ever get tired of my grey walls, or want to update the overall decor, white is an easy color to work with.  There was another deciding factor.  Cost.  These tiles are 22 cents a tile.  Roughly $18 a box.  We needed six boxes at basic estimate.  There were some other tiles that were very, very pretty.  But they were were $55 a box.  More than double the cost.  Since we've gutted the entire bathroom, I didn't want to break the bank on tile I might get tired of in 10 years.  So subway tile it is. :)

But we didn't go totally bland.  Check out the tile we bought for a mosaic border!

LOVE it!  There will be a four inch band about 2/3 of the way up, all the way around the shower.  This photo, again, doesn't do this tile justice.  Hopefully my camera will when the time comes to take photo's.  It also picks up the color from the floor tile.  

We also bought a new faucet set to replace the builder grade one that was showing definite wear.  The old shower head had a weird connector that wouldn't allow us to just change the shower head.  So we bought a brushed nickel set to modernize the bathroom.  Since we were going to buy a new faucet for the new sink and vanity.  If you give a mouse a cookie...sigh.

Here are some photo's of our progress from today!

OK, as I mentioned earlier, you're missing a few photo's since the last update.  Basically, the cement board is completely installed and the bathtub has been put back in place (The Builder doesn't want to re-finish it in the garage because he says it will get dust or grime in it before it makes it back up - and he's most likely right!). The Builder works with a lot of different trades, and one thing he's learned in the recent years is that you should skim coat your wall with the mortar before you install the tile. It creates a super strong bond, which is what you want. If you look at this photo, the upper right corner hasn't been skim coated yet.  I dragged The Builder downstairs today to put the lights on our tree when he ran out of mud the first time, and I snapped this photo before he could get the rest put on the wall.  Ahh, the trials of having a wife who blogs.

The laser level is The Builders favorite toy as of late. He snapped chalk lines on the wall so everything would line up correctly.  Having the tile square is essential!

Mixing the mortar.  OK, not a fun photo, but a quick shot of getting it mixed properly. Somehow The Builder has a tool that goes on his drill to mix things easier. Since tile isn't his trade, no clue how he got it, but it was certainly handy to have for this! The plumbing fixtures are from where the sink should be. Such a shame there isn't room for a double vanity here, but as you can see, there isn't a whole lot of space, and I'm not willing to give up all counter space for double vanities. Easier for The Builder though, since he doesn't have to split the water line.

Houston, we have tile!!!

I had to wait patiently for The Builder to put a few pieces up on the wall so I could grab a photo.  See, plain white tile, just as I said.  We didn't rent a tile cutter this weekend, as he wants a full weekend to be able to cut the floor and wall tiles, but he's putting as much up as he can without the cut pieces.  Much to his horror, I made asked him to stop after he had one box up. It's clearly not all going to get done this weekend so there's no point in pushing it. He's worked a lot of hours the last few months and he's work until midnight if I didn't say something!

But look, it's tile!!

And here is where we stopped!  Love, love LOVE the simplicity of the white subway tiles. The old square tiles screamed 80's to me so this will update the bathroom nicely. Hopefully it will remain a classic! The plan for tomorrow is to finish as much wall tile as possible, and if we're really lucky, lay some of the floor tiles as well. Which means purchasing the underlay for the floor. Then we hope to rent a tile saw next weekend, and finish it up.

Still to do:
Tile the floor
Build the vanity
Buy a vanity top
Install new lighting
Re-install the toilet
Install new towel bars

Demo Day 2 & 3

We managed to get a little work done last Sunday, but I hadn't had a chance to post any updates.  Behold, the vapor barrier replaced:
Yes, all the black yuckiness (blogger doesn't like this word...but it works for me!) has been removed and you can see the tape from the clear vapor barrier.  As I mentioned previously, the vapor barrier was the only thing that protected the hardy board that is on the outside of our home, so we didn't want to skip this in our repair work.

As you can see, there is almost no support under that window!!  The window is cauked into place, but really, I'm so thankful we found out about the damage before we really had a problem on our hands - you know, like the window falling out of the wall and the wall coming down...maybe over imagining on my part, but definitely a possibility.

Ahhhh, much better!

The pink studs make it really easy to see them.  We used all the boards we bought, and now I have no worries that the window will come crashing down.  We filled the space that opened to the attic as well.  You can't actually get to the bathroom from the attic, and once it's tiled, it serves no purpose.  So The Builder sealed it up.

Side note - my daughter is thrilled to know there's pink studs in the wall, even though she knows they won't be seen.  She cracks me up!

We need to put in the insulation and figure out if we need another layer of vapor barrier.  The Builder is concerned about breathing holes so the new isolation doesn't get worried.  More on that in another post.

I knew this wasn't going to photograph well, but this is the best i could get.  Floor tile!!!

I mentioned we had to rip out the tile around the tub and subsequently found out that the existing tile was laid over the builder grade linoleum, leaving us no choice but to rip it all out and start over.  So I've been looking for the right tile for about a week now.  And this is it!  

It's hard to see, but this is almost a tweed pattern on the tile.  It looks fabulous with the wall color (that we're not changing) and to seal the deal, it's on clearance and cost a fraction of things that I liked a lot less. Bonus!!  It has a hint of the wall color in the tile which is perfect.  We had to go to 2 different Lowes to get enough, but it cost me less than $100 to replace the tile.  The underlayment is another $85, so about $200 to replace the floor.  Really, not a bad deal since we're not going plain jane on this! And with new baseboards painted in a crisp white, I think it's going to look good with the shower curtain we have that again, I'm not replacing (...I don't think...sshhh).

And here it is stripped!

Our original thought was to replace the bathroom vanity with a double sink.  Unfortunately, I only have 48" for my vanity, and most double vanities are 60".  The Builder could do something custom (and we're still debating on doing that) but it would mean little sinks and no room to put things on the counter.  I don't think that would work well for us.  We found a vanity at Lowe's that we both love, but it's pricey and heavy. Reviews show it to be 273 lbs. - and we'd have to get that up two flights of stairs.  We can go cheaper, but I don't like the choices as much, so we may still end up building a vanity.  Anna White has one (of course!!) that I think would look great, and after reviewing the plans, The Builder said it would be fairly simple to build.  We just have to see if the cost would be comparable to buying one.  We shall see on that one.

We spent the rest of day 3 hauling out the debris (remember the two flight of stairs!).  The toilet and tub will go back in once the flooring is done.  We bought the plywood to replace the sub-floor in the tub area, but The Builder worked again this past Saturday, so that isn't finished yet.  He may have a rain out day on Monday, and if so, I suspect quite a bit of progress might get done!

To do still:  put in the new insulation, install the cement board, replace the sub floor, re-tile, buy/build a new vanity, tile the shower, replace the shower fixtures, replace the light fixture.

Demo - Day 1

The Builder and I have both been working crazy hours, and so the renovation of our guest bathroom had been put on hold.  This weekend he had two days off and wanted to make some progress (we're still wanting it done by Christmas!).  And so he started removing the tile so we could replace the cement board.  

You know those home decorating shows where they always find more problems than anticipated?  Yeah, that seems to be the story of my life.  Upon taking down the first portion of tile from the back wall, we discovered the 2x4's were completely rotted out.  
Those black and disintegrated things?  Those are the wall studs.  Almost nothing was holding the window up!!!  Also the insulation was completely rotted out as well.  Fun times.  So we made a morning run to Home Depot to pick up a few supplies:

The Builder estimates we'll need about eight 2x4's, so we bought 10 to be safe.  New insulation.  Gloves. Cement Board.  And a reciprocating saw, which he claimed to need.  And really, what's a home improvement project if you can't buy a new tool or two?  Yeah, so we got that too.

The bright pink 2x4 studs?  Those are treated lumber, and lower in cost.  Since they'll be hidden by drywall, we went for the cost savings.  

The demolition process it self has been quite...interesting...

Tearing it all apart...
The tile in the shower? They used linoleum glue to adhere the tile. Yes, the same glue that the linoleum floor (that's under the tile you see in this photo) has. NOT intended for shower tile!! We literally pulled this chunk of the wall off with no effort.

The only thing that saved the hardy siding on the outside of the house from getting destroyed was the vapor barrier.  We continue to be amazed at the shortcuts we find that builder take here in TX. This tile was not part of the renovation the previous owners did to the home. It's original. Yes, it makes me nervous to think about things that we can't see!

A little more on that...
Speaking of things we couldn't see. The tile floor. We needed to remove the bathtub to replace the 2x4's so we had to cut back the drywall and remove some of the floor tile to  pull it out without damaging it (I'd like to not have to buy a new tub, thank you very much). What we discovered was that there used to be a builders grade linoleum floor in the bathroom. Instead of removing it and laying new tile, someone laid a thin layer of cement board over it, then tiled over that. That's why the moldings were covered up and narrow. We also discovered that the sub floor around the tub was weak and spongy.  Considering how much water was leaking, we weren't really surprised. So now we're going to rip out all the tile, replace the sub floor, and re-do the floor the way it should have been done.

So the tub and shower are out!  Next up is replacing the 2x4's first.  Then we'll have to remove all the tile, replace the sub floor, install the cement board on the walls, replace the drywall, re-tile the shower (all the way to the ceiling), and re-tile the floor. We're also going to take out the old medicine cabinet, update the lighting and bath fixtures in the shower, and if I'm really lucky, replace the vanity and make it a double sink.

I'd love to say that this is a two weekend project - but it most definitely is not!  My hope is that over the long Thanksgiving weekend, while I am out completing my Black Friday shopping and Christmas decorating, we'll manage to get the first half of the list completed.  And maybe, just maybe, it will be done in time for Christmas!

Changing Directions

My bathroom and water woes?  Not even close to being done.  I called my homeowners insurance today, but after our deductible, we'd pretty much break even.  So right now, we're letting all the water dry out and then we'll do a more thorough examination to the water damage.

So, what to do in the mean time, right...?

There's no time like the present to finish updating our master bedroom!  You may remember this post.  I was really happy with this when we were done.  I still love most of the aspects of this room.  But the duvet is SUPER warm - too warm for anything other than winter.  And now that we own the home, I wanted to update the paint colors.

But.  I'm only revealing a sneak peak today.  I waited until it was dark to take photo's, which is always a mistake.  So rather than a bad room reveal, here's just a tease!

The chair is new (fabulous deal at!) and I bought the coordinating fabric at Ikea to make the throw pillow.  There's a second pillow I made as well, that's going to go on my bed
My pillow isn't so bright in person.  It's a dark, plumy purple.  The inspiration pillow is $58 at Anthropologie. Yeah, even if it were to go to $20, it's unlikely I'd buy it.  I spent $3.50 on my fabric (and have plenty left over to make 1 or even two more pillow) and the pillow insert from Ikea was $5.  I did put a zipper in my cover, only so it could be washed, but you could easily skip that step if you're not comfortable inserting zippers.  You can find the instructions on Sew HomeGrown.

And to add to my master bedroom update, I've decided my creative work space (aka, my master closet) is due for an update too.  I haven't touched it since we moved in, but I'm in desperate need of organization solutions.  Another sneak peak:
The painting is mine.  As in I painted it.  The only painting you will ever see from me!  My painting is staying, despite the hot pink.  This room is going to get painted the same grey as the bedroom.  I don't care if it's hot pink (a color I detest) Or maybe a shade lighter.  

My sewing table is very important, but I could use better lighting.  What you can't see is the boxes of fabric shoved in the corner to the left.  Or the rows of clothes on each side.  Yeah, this space needs help...

Hall Bath Inspiration

As I mentioned on Sunday, it's only matter of time before the hall bath gets an upgrade.  The Builder and I figuring out the budget, timing, and completion dates.  It looks so much fun on the HGTV shows I watch...not so much fun when it means I'm footing the bill and providing the labor!

Here's a peak at our design inspiration:
Some of the things are easy, because I already own them. The walls are already painted in Silver Screen by Behr.  The striped towels and the shower curtain are also already in the bathroom.  Remember, this was not a project I was planning to take on this fall!

The bathtub is a necessity.  We've gone back and forth on full tub enclosure vs. stand alone tub.  The tub will require that we re-tile.  We've got builder grade tile, nothing impressive, and it's actually worse for the wear at this point.  However the tile I like is more than the bathtub.  Actually, any tile we like is more than the tub. But I hate to buy a tub enclosure if I don't plan to use it long term - and I'm not sure I can bring myself to install one at all.  I think they're so ugly!! 

The sink, from Ikea, is a wish list item, bit since we have a vanity and sink that work, it most likely will wait.  I like the shape and that it's wider than our current sink.  But it would require a new vanity as well.  

The mirror is actually a need.  The current one is flaking and worn at the edges.  This one is from a home improvement store, but I have to tell you, I would never pay $90 for a mirror, let alone two.  So The Builder will order a piece of mirror at work and make a frame for it, like he did in the powder room downstairs.  

Stay tuned!

Fall Wreath

Just a quick photo of the wreath I made a few weeks back for my front door.  Because even though my thermometer says 84, somewhere in the US, someone is enjoying a lovely fall day....!

Houston, We Have a Problem...

About three weeks ago, we discovered that the water heater in the garage appeared to have a small leak.  You know, the water heater that just passed inspection in July.  Yep, that one.

Now I'm what you would call cheap frugal minded, so we didn't instantly go out and buy a new water heater.  For several reason actually.
  1. They're expensive
  2. it was only leaking a little bit
  3. They're expensive
I don't know about you, but I always go straight back to the clearance section of my local home improvement store to check things out.  The second thing I do is check their competitor to make sure I'm actually getting the best deal.  I did mention I'm cheap frugal minded.  We also decided to upgrade to a large capacity because as a family of six, particularly in the winter, we can go through copious quantities of hot water.

I'm happy to say that I did find brand new, 50 gal. water heater in the scratch and dent section!  The cap on top got dented in shipping.  After confirming that it would in no way impact the functionality of the water heater, I happily walked out with it, saving $300.  Yes, I did say $300.  Because the cap has a dent.  

Which turned out to be a really good thing, because it's the only money we're going to save on this project...

While taking down the water heater (side note, make sure your water heater is completely drained or it is insanely heavy!!) The Builder noticed that the ceiling seemed spongy.  Our inspector had called some dried water spots on the ceiling, but since they were dry, we thought they were from the water leak last year with the toilet upstairs, and we didn't stress over it.  In fact, we didn't give it a second thought.  Mistake #1. After giving it only the slightest of pokes, his finger went right through.  And we realized we needed to take down more of the ceiling to find out what the issue is.
It isn't pretty.

Apparently, not only did the upstairs toilet leak and ruin the ceiling in the laundry, but now the drain in the bathtub is leaking, and ALL of the ceiling is damaged.  There's a possibility that the beam is bad too.  We're going to let it all dry out before we make the determination.  Because when we pulled the back wall down behind the water heater, it was a big hot mess (a term I'm quickly learning since moving here...).

This also effects the bathroom upstairs, which is now out of commission for showers.  The tub is going to have to come out so the repair can be made as well as check to make sure the floor is sound.  My daughter's room, which you can see the water damage on the sub floor, may also need her laminate floor replaced.  Not an project we had any plans to do, even though I'm not a fan of laminate wood floors in a bedroom.  But if it does need to be replaced, we'll be putting in carpet.

The Builder Removing Drywall
This is what was hiding behind the wall when we removed the water heater.  The 'little' leak we thought we had was being masked by the now ruined area rug.  It was completely absorbing the water leak so we couldn't "see" it.  Because the soon to be man cave garage is way to hot in the summer to use for The Builder, and it's been collecting 'stuff' for the last six months - the last time we cleaned it out.  The wood was so wet, it was slimy. YUCK!!  On a positive note, there isn't an electrical outlet on this wall, and The Builder is going to have this portion of the garage for his ManCave.  So this is going to give us the opportunity to install some much needed overhead lighting, since the ceiling is down, as well as electrical outlets. We're also looking into installing a cooling unit so he can use this space in the summer as well.  But that will be after we replace the a/c unit, which also died this week (I'm on a roll, but that's something we anticipated buying the Spring because we already knew it was on it's last leg...we just hadn't anticipated it going out the last week or two of summer ).

So here we have it, gaping hole in the garage ceiling, drywall torn out, and to add insult to injury, we had a rodent enter through a hole in the now open wall, and will be calling out pest control company on Monday to have them pay a visit.

We're also now pricing a new tub and debating the merits of a all in one unit or a tub with new tile.  I suspect between drywall, a new tub, and a new shower fixture (that one was actually desperately needed but was way down on the bottom of the priority list because it technically functions ok) that I'm easily looking at a $500 bathroom remodel.  And since sharing the microscopic shower in our master bedroom simply doesn't appeal to us, as well as the fact that we are hoping my parents will be out for Christmas, the bathroom project is going to have to go on the fast tract for completion...
See the little dent in the top of the water heater?  That's how we got it for a steal.  

The Builder also made a new pedestal for the water heater.  The ramp you see was only temporary.  The other base was rotted through.  I'm amazed the water heater was still standing, it was really that bad.  The Builder increased the size so he could secure it to the studs. Whoever built the the last one had braces they attached to the studs and then to the base.  It was odd. We're also talking about putting a strap on it for safety purposes, even though they're not required her in TX.  

I am happy to say the water heater works well, and we are looking forward to having the extra 10 gal. capacity once we get the other bathroom in working order again. Also, since this is considerably newer (we believe the other one was original to the house) the energy star rating will keep us from seeing a spike in our natural gas bill for going to a larger unity.  This one is only about $30 more a year to run than the previous unit.  I can deal with that!

So, it looks like my red front door is going to have to wait a little longer.  Maybe spring...proving the new a/c and heating unit don't zap my entire budget! 

Fall Decor Updates

Shanty 2 Chic's Fall Table Scape
So even though fall in Texas is almost non-existent (I promise, my electric bill shows me summer is still going strong every September!) by mid-August, I'm ready for the cooler weather and a change of scenery.  I've been stalking browsing Pinterest this week, and it's clear I'm not the only one who feels this way!  I love my tiered cake stand for Spring and Summer, but I was ready to switch that out too.  Last year, I pinned this on my craft board:

So cute, right?!

My Version
I wanted to combine it with a candle votive idea I also found on Pinterest (which I thought I pinned but now can't find to share!) and then some cute Fall fill I found at Hobby Lobby.  I followed the directions on Shanty 2 Chic ...for the most part. When I stopped in to Lowes, I wasn't in my mini van. My car does NOT hold building supplies as easily as my mini van! Since I was already out running errands, I didn't want to go home and switch out cars.  So instead of the two wood pieces that the directions tell you to purchase, I bought some pre-cut pieces that would fit in my car easier.  This resulted in my table box being 36" instead of the 30" in the directions.  Because I'm too lazy to cut off the six inches.  I can live with that.

Since I was already at Lowe's for the wood, I went ahead and purchased some handles while I was there.  I might have gotten them slightly cheaper at Hobby Lobby, but I really liked the ones I found at Lowe's, and $2.97 per handle wasn't going to break my budget. The web site estimates the cost of the project to be $15.  I spent $21.  It would have been more if I hadn't had finishing nails, wood glue, and stain already in my supplies.  I don't know if those items were figured into the overall cost on Shanty 2 Chic either.  When I go to my favorite decor stores - Kirkland Home, Home Goods, Kohl's, or World Market, all of their decor items are significantly more.  I'm happy with my $21.

But my center piece wasn't the only project I've been working on.  My living room got a do-over this year too.
Last year, the wall color was darker, the TV was still over the fireplace, and my sofa was divided.  Do you remember this post? Last year was a step in the right direction, but looking back, it wasn't...done.  The brown vase is back on the mantle, but the pretty jewel toned one is the dining room. The TV is off of the wall above the fireplace, which lets me put real decor up, not some vines (although vines are what worked best last year). The flower vase on the hearth won't be staying, I just having figured out if it's staying in the room during fall or if it's going to be tucked away until after Christmas.  I really think I'm leaning towards put away until after Christmas, because it seems to spring like to me.

After many tries of re-arranging the sofa, this is the one that works best.  You notice there is no longer the big blank space above the sofa as there was in the last post!  It's not done yet though.  I have a lot more photo's I want to hang up.  Some of them need new frames, like my parents wedding photo (the frame is falling apart).  Some of them need new mats - like the picture of my son at the Long Beach Aquarium.  Some just need...frames!  So the 'holes' are left intentionally as I fill them in with photo's.  And I love that the TV is no longer the focal point. :)

I completed a fall wreath this weekend too, but the initial photo's were blurry, and it's too late to take new photo's.  So more for another day...

Project 2

more tan paint...
When we first looked at this home as a rental, one of the things that stuck out to me, in a good way, was the paint colors.  There was a monochromatic pallet of tan, beige, and cream on the walls that I could make work with my existing furniture (a far, far cry from the pink marble, carpet, tile and light fixtures in one of our rental homes in CA).  And really, moving into a home with a real color pallet and not renters white is a huge plus.

Fast forward three years.  We are now the home owners (YEAH!!) and I am far, far less in love with the paint scheme.  Particularly the tan.  With my chocolate brown sofa, it made the living room look smaller than it really was and cave-ish.  It's actually been a very hard color to work with since my sofa is huge and dark.  

But not anymore!!

The Builder and I spent out first two days of a our three day weekend scraping down the heavily textured walls (a huge pet peeve for us both!) and toning down those tan walls.  With the vaulted ceiling, this was no little project.  It also meant taking down all the decor and electronics.  A chore all in it's own.
left - old paint
right - new paint

With the walls freshly painted, we also decided it was time to change up the layout of our furniture.  We had put our flat screen TV over the fireplace when we moved because, well, we thought it would look best there.  And then we tried to maneuver our large, u-shaped sectional every way imaginable to make it work with the TV placement.  Eventually we put the chase lounge in the corner and lived with it like that for the past year or so.  

We've never been happy with it.

So last weekend we finally decided it was time to look at some other placement options for the TV.  At first I thought I wanted it on the big blank wall on the left side of the living room.  But again, that didn't work well with the sofa for how it's built (and getting rid of the sofa is just not an option at this point).  After much deliberation, we've determined The Builder is going to have make the matching media console that goes with the cabinet that he built last year.  No more TV on the wall.  But once we arranged the sofa and end tables based on where the TV will eventually (because it's temporarily back up on the wall over the media cabinet) the room flows beautifully now and seems so spacious.  

Ready for the update?
So we're not quite done in here.  As you can see, we haven't put any of the artwork back up the wall behind the sofa.  That's because I want a gallery wall, and I'm still working on the layout.  However I did get the artwork over the fireplace, so we have a start!  It's so nice to see my sofa back together they way it was designed to be.  This seating really works best with our large family.

I still love this rug I bought at Country Door a year or so ago.  I only wish I had bought the next size up.  The colors are so pretty in this room though.  And since we're not changing the tile (which is crazy cold in the winter months!) a rug is really a necessity.

I've been contemplating paining the bricks on my fireplace.  I don't know, I'm still on the fence about that.
Right now you can see the TV is back on the wall. This is the media cabinet that The Builder made last spring, which I LOVE. The plans came from Anna White's site, and there are plans for a matching media console, so it's one of the next building project we plan to tackle.  For now, the TV works here.  It's no higher than it was when it was above the fireplace.  I did hang the curtains higher to take advantage of the vaulted ceilings. I'm clearly going to have to buy new sheers because they are ridiculously short now that I've raised the curtain rod!  I'm fairly certain Ikea sells sheers this long as well, so I need to stop by after work.  I want to modify the turquoise colored curtain panel to have a decorative border.  The solid just looks blah to me.  Again, another project.
Loving this big blank wall!  I won't be putting the shelf back up.  It's too short now that the sofa is using all of the space.  It also collected an enormous amount of dust bunnies.  I've got lots of gallery wall layouts pinned on my Pinterest board, so I'm confident I can get this wall looking how I want.
Sorry for the dark photo on this one.  I didn't realize I had turned off the overhead light!  If you're sitting on the sofa, this is the view.  When we take the TV down, the cabinet will get moved back over to the left.  But for now, this is the best spot for the TV, and I don't want the cabinet not centered under the TV, so this is where it is for now.  My basket tower is crying out for an update!!  The dark colors just don't work anymore.  Yep, another project...

I'm also contemplating track lighting in here, since task lighting is next to impossible.  The Builder isn't thrilled about this, but this room gets dark in the late afternoon, even with the lighter color, and I would like more directional lighting than the ceiling fan offers.  Houston is HOT in the summer, so there's no way the ceiling fan light is coming down.  But additional light is really needed.

Project 1

 When you walk in the front door of my home, this is the view as you look up into the foyer.  It's a opening.  A large opening.  To what should be the fourth wall in boys bedroom.  They've lived with this for two years because, frankly, it was a rental house and we didn't want to put the time or money into fixing it.  
The foyer view from upstairs

This is the view looking down from their room (forgive the mess, we had already started taking the ledge down!).  The doorway to the right is the kitchen.  The large opening is to the dining room and family room.  To the left, which you can't see, are the stairs to the second story, and behind that, the laundry room.  What this means for my boys is that all the sound from the house basically travels up directly to their room.  As if that wasn't bad enough, the window over the front door means that if we have the porch light or the foyer light on, it keeps them up.  As do the lights from the kitchen or dining room if we're up past their bed time.  Then there's the issue with climate control.  Their bedroom is on the sunny side of the house for afternoon sun.  We've installed faux wood blinds to help block it out, but that huge opening prevents their room from actually cooling down from the a/c vent, as well as allowing all the heat that travels up to go directly into their room.  Saying this was poor planning on someones part is an understatement!

So our first official projects as homeowners was to fill in that hole!!

It really wasn't difficult.  We spent about $50 in supplies, including the insulation we decided we needed for noise reduction purposes.  The Builder framed out the opening as it was.  I thought he would open up those two slanted walls, but he assured me it would make no difference overall.  He then carefully leaned through each framing and fit a piece of drywall that that he cut to size (photo 4), until the entire opening on the outside was done.  Next we cut pieces of insulation to fit the the space.  It was a quick process to fill in the drywall over the insulation.  I think this main portion, including floating a coat of mud over the wall, took about 4 hours.  

We're not actually done.  We still want to float one more coat of mud to make sure the seams he taped up are good and covered, as wells put a light coat of texture on the wall to match the rest of the bedroom.  And he needs to borrow the scaffold from work so we can mud and paint the foyer, which still looks exactly like it does in photo 5.  But my boys are thrilled that the sound issue is gone, their room stays cool when the a/c is on, and they have more privacy!

Then it will be on to the really fun portion of this - decorating their room!!

Of course, this one of a LONG list of things to come...