So, Big Jim, Seattle's Favorite Plumber, and David Bethlahmy, owner of The Periodic Table (a construction firm so nice he has letterpress business cards, for the love of God!) came to Chateau Falling Apart (my house) today. They walked through all the plumbing fixes we need in the basement, plus looked at our two bathrooms that desperately need repair.
David told me I could easily spend $40k on my upstairs bathroom.
That's more than my kitchen! No way. I just refuse to believe this. I mean, I am sure I could spend that much, but I have no plans to do so.
Anyway... here we go again. We have to do something to that bathroom, just not $40k of something. (I mean, we need that money to buy potatoes and other supplies for the great depression.) So, I need to figure out what exactly I want to do and get more people in here for bids.
So, here are inspriation photos I am parking here to show my better half. If you have ideas, thoughts, rants, loves/hates about bathrooms, let's hear 'em. Did you recently remodel? Any tips or tricks? Did you do it yourself? Do you have any bathroom pet peeves?
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
I need an awning or something over our door. We had one, before we moved in, but it was in such bad shape our real estate agent tore it off. We are now left with this mess.
So - thoughts? I considered growing something up and over arbor-like, but we have enough rodents in our attic as it is, I don't need to add to the problem by growing something that will encourage the critters to nest there.
I was just quoted about $675 for a basic wedge awning for this door. That is insane. Is this what other people have paid?
A lot of you hate awnings. Wow. Good to know. One of you sent me this photo. Love it. Several of you seem to think I need to build, you know, a thingy, and skip the awning business. Shit. More expensive, but worth considering. And consider it I will.
I am still a little heartbroken about the loss of Cottage Living. But I wonder if the April 7 debut of the new & improved Country Living will reflect a little more bungalow style and a little less rooster chic? Hopefully.
Two features I will be checking out when the issue hits:
Interior designer Annie Kelly's fearless attitude towards pairing fine antiques with discount-store finds will inspire readers to create their own mix of high and low.
The Instant Garden – How fabric designer Michael Devine turned his tiny yard into a thriving kitchen garden in three months flat. Plus, the ultimate outdoor retreat for under $1,000.
Monday, March 30, 2009
Sunday, March 29, 2009
My man likes really, really good music. All kinds of music. The soundtrack to our life is rich and varied.
The Midnight Organ Fight
is his new favorite. I am just letting you know that I think he may be on to something. I think it sounds like Adam Duritz and Coldplay had an acoustic-loving baby, then raised it on Marlboro Reds in the seedy darkness of a Glasgow pub. And that may not be a bad thing, really. Everyone needs a little Euphoria Rock* these days, right?
*His term, not mine.
I’m about ready now to redecorate (or rather, decorate…forget the re-) the second bedroom in my condo. About 18 months ago, I left a one-bedroom apartment behind in Cincinnati and moved into a two-bedroom condo here in Kirkland (moving up in the world…ha). At the time, I didn’t have much to put in that second bedroom and was a bit house poor at first thanks to a Seattle-sized mortgage (which, compared to my rent in Cincinnati, was a huge change). I finally feel like I’ve saved enough that I can take aside some money to do something with this room.
I need it to serve a few different purposes:
1) Office – still my primary use of the room.
2) Closet spillover/”dressing” area – This closet contains my shoes and accessories so I often finish getting ready in this room.
3) Guest room – I’d like to have a better guest sleeping arrangement than the current option, which is an air mattress on the floor. (Seattle is a lot cooler than the midwest, so I have guests pretty frequently.)
Everything in this room is a mishmash of childhood bedroom/hand-me-down. As you can see, there's no style coming through. This is my most-neglected room in my place, and I really haven't tried yet.
But here's what I like: flea-market-y but with clean lines, modern touches but not spartan, pops of color, and a bit of quirk....
I have some vague ideas of what I want for the room...start with bluish-grey on the walls (Valspar Woodlawn Silver Brook..not painted yet), maybe bring in some white/neutral via bigger pieces like furniture and shelving, and add in some really bright pops of color – like blood orange and magenta – as accents. And I could scratch all this if there are better ideas.
I also have two very specific decorating dilemma questions:
1) Room layout is pretty difficult because I’ve got a four-foot long baseboard heater on one wall, and I’m not sure what I can safely put in front of it. The heater is also directly under my window, so I’m not sure if I can safely hang curtains to the floor (currently I just have builder blinds). If I can’t put anything in front of this, then what can I do with this corner of the room, and what are some layout ideas that would really just be utilizing the other three walls (one of which is pretty much taken up by the closet)? See the layout photo…it’s the wall with the window in between “ski stuff” and “desk.” (In case you were worried, I didn’t make this layout just for your giveaway. :) It’s supposed to be for my blog, eventually, if I would stop being a slacker!)
2) Seating / guest sleeping – Currently, the ONLY seating in my room is the desk chair. I’d like to have something comfortable in here for reading/lounging, but I also would like something that would work for a guest to sleep. I don’t really like, or have the space for, a futon. So, my only idea was some sort of big chair that converts to a twin sleeper. The only options I’ve found are from Ballard Designs (not a fan of their overstuffed rolled-arm look) and CB2 (the Vince Sleeper which Nick Olsen posted about awhile ago). Are there any other ideas out there for me? I don’t think I can fit anything as big as a chaise, daybed, futon, etc.
OK, so here’s the thing: I have a lot of ideas, but I haven't really DONE much. All I’ve really done so far is a bunch of de-cluttering over the course of a few months. See my blog posts on this situation HERE.
…and notice that I have not mentioned this room since January 28th, 2009….hence the swift kick needed!
P.S. If you don't already, I think you should Twitter. That is all.
Last week I hosted a giveaway of THIS book. I traded your decorating dilemma war stories for the book.
The winners are:
You'll all be getting your book soon.
I've posted the about Michelle and Carmen already. Erin, Sarah, and Jenny to come.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Favorite comment so far:
So he scored a few touchdowns, but his team lost the game. No trips to Disneyland for any of you.
We've just purchased our first house, which we love (mostly). We'll be moving in in less than a month and are putting together our list of projects (in a house binder thanks to your suggestion;-) Aside from having a microscopic kitchen, it has this strange hallway/room off the kitchen (first pix), The previous owner stuck an extra piece of cabinet in there (pix 2), but it looks awkward. I wanted to just tear down the partial wall between, but there's too much electrical and such running through to make it feasible right now. So what to do with this weird space that will also extend the storage or working area of the kitchen? Help!
This is a quality problem. Although the wiring considerations make it impractical to tear that bit of wall out now, I think you could make it a kind of cool butler's pantry where you can store things close but still out of your way in the kitchen. I think you guys should tear the cabinet out and replace it with something you like more than that cabinet. What you will actually store in that space will help you make the right choice about what to put back in there. Open shelves are popular, but a lot of people don't have the time and energy to keep "styling" their home to make it all look right, so you may just want updated cabinets. Or an updated cabinet on the bottom and open shelves on top.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I got so many great emails today from readers with their own decorating dilemmas!
First up is Carmen. I just love what she wrote:
I've attached my best decorating dilemma. This is my hall bathroom...where do I begin?
It has carpet.
It has wallpaper borders.
It's a depressing brownish-prison color.
It has no vibe.
I haven't touched it since moving in, still stumped as to what exactly to do and what colors to use.
Carmen, I don't think you have it so bad. (You did see MY bathroom, right? I post humilating photos so that you can be grateful for, say, carpet and borders and brownish-prison colors. This is the service I provide.)
Anyway, before you get to color, I think you should booze up, get a friend in there with you and start tearing off the border. That's #1. That will commit you to doing something. (Or could lead to you looking at torn-off chunks in your wall for years, as I did with my kitchen...)
Then make a plan for the carpet. I am not sure what's under there, but I am guessing you want it gone. Can you tile? Have you ever tiled? Can you poke around the web and see if it's something you want to tackle on your own? If your check-writing arm is ready, you may just want to call in a pro. I bet you can negotiate a good deal on that right now.
Next, consider the light fixture and the faucets. Can you update those? That might be an area where you can get a new look with a quick swap.
And then maybe consider the color. Because you are getting a free copy of the House Beautiful book, my friend.
What else does everyone think Carmen should do?
House Beautiful Colors for Your Home: 300 Designer Favorites (House Beautiful Series)
I am so bad with color. I mean... really bad. Some of you may recall that my fiance's kid called the color I painted the living room "Cat Lady Yellow." (And I thought it was buttery goodness. I was wrong.)
Lucky for me, I got my hands on a copy of the book above and it's been a lifesaver. No more trying to pretend I am good at color. Just pages and pages in this small-ish (small enough to take with you to the paint store, which is a good thing) book with hundreds and hundreds of swatches and thoughts from fancy-pants decorators on which colors they love and where. Thrown in are lots of lovely House Beautiful photos to give you an idea how this colors work in various rooms.
The nice people at House Beautiful have 5 free copies of this book for you. They seem to think no one deserves to live with Cat Lady Yellow.
If you'd like a copy, please email me your best decorating question or dilemma *with* a photo of your room... and also include your name and shipping address. 5 winners will be chosen by end of day tomorrow. Extra special bonus is that your decorating dilemma will be posted on Decorno for all to solve.
(Click on the email link in the upper right section of this page to submit.)
Monday, March 23, 2009
Sunday, March 22, 2009
An awesome playhouse for the kids? An office? A mother-in-law apartment?
Nope. It's a chicken coop.
I found it at diggingfood.com, a Seattle-based blog about growing your own food, cooking with it, and generally remembering that your plot of land in the city can be put to good use. She's one of the featured home-gardeners in this month's Sunset magazine.
I have been obsessed with gardening lately. Haven't, uh, done much, but I am trying to get my act together. I was delighted to learn that my mint and chives returned after a weird winter. I just bought a few kinds of lettuce, some peas, and more mint. I recently sat on a a plane to NYC and made use of the 5 1/2 hour flight to read THIS and Vegetable Gardening Simple Steps To Success
and made a list of what I want to plant and when.
I have a lot to do in addition to this. I bought 2 cone compost bins from a co-worker and now I need to figure out how to actually install them (I need to bury part of it in the ground). I have been reading thecompostbin.com, too. We have a lot of food waste (as most people do) which is something I am trying to figure out and reduce, and then also just make better use of the scraps. I wish I could say all of this is motivated by my inner hippie, but honestly, I just hate how quickly the trash piles up at our house and I hate lugging bags of compost to the backyard.
To help with this new composting program, yesterday I parked THIS in the new kitchen. I just need to remember to actually use it. Tossing eggs and coffee grounds into the garbage will be quite a habit to break, I am afraid.
Is anyone gardening yet? Planted anything yet? Growing anything yet? Are any of you going to grow anything for the first time this year? I would like to hear about it. Oh, and send good garden blogs my way, please.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
Guess which bathroom is mine?
We closed the door to it 4 years ago when we bought the house and have barely opened it since. We had so many other horrifying rooms in our house, that this was an easy one to just ignore for a long while. But, now that we are emboldened by our kitchen progress, this room is next, in addition to finally tearing out the carpet upstairs, getting the icky popcorn stuff off of the ceilings, and redoing the bedrooms. Remember the magical BINDER? I just started one for the bathroom project. Yay.
I have to brace myself, though. We're going to find a lot of expensive problems as soon as we start this. We need to replace most of the pumbling in the house.
The upstairs toilet is lounging in our tub for a reason. A bad reason. About a year ago, I noticed that the ceiling above our downstairs toilet was kind of bowing. I didn't want to think the unthinkable, which was that not only was the horrifying bathroom upstairs a cosmetic mess, it had actually problems. Plumbing problems. Scary leaky problems. Tear up walls & ceilings problems. Sure enough. After Big Jim the plumber removed the toilet to inspect things and confirm our suspicions, we all just decided to leave the toilet in the tub and close the door and only think about it again when we were ready to fix the entire problem.
That time is upon us. I am excited and terrified. And ready to sign my paychecks over to Big Jim and a new contractor.
God help me.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Deeeeeeear Decorno -
I'm a twenty-something college student moving into a new apartment in May, and thought I might ask for your (and your readers') advice. I seem to have trouble balancing my wall decor - that is to say, being an apartment dweller, I have an urge to brighten up my white walls, but I also worry about cluttering them and things looking tacky. How in the hell do I strike a balance between real art and posters and thrift store finds and chachkis without it looking like a horrible pretentious hipster explosion?! Help!
Jess, I just got up, the dog is tearing at the sofa, my hair is sidewides and my armpits smell. In other words, I need to get ready for work and hustle out the door, but in the meantime let me give you some quicky advice and let the commenters have at it:
1. No posters. I can explain more about this later, but for now, avoid. Too Etsy.
2. Do you like your white walls? If so, great. (I love me some white.) But don't be afraid to paint, either. Doesn't matter if your landlord doesn't approve. Just be lawless and paint anyway, just paint well and promise to return it to the original color.
3. Don't put things on your walls because you feel like you must. What do you like? Velvet Elvis paintings? Contemporary photography? Name the thing you actually want to look at and then start shopping for something special. But a thing or two at a time.
4. Don't spread everything out. Put things up in interesting groups and leave some blank space, even an entirely blank wall.
5. Mirrors are magic. Don't forget to buy a mirror or two that you love. It's actually a good investment now, because they are easy to move and you can make them work from apartment to apartment and house to house as you get older.
Readers - thoughts?
Thursday, March 19, 2009
“The closet command-chair Trekkies have come out of the closet,” said Keith Marshall, 45, an unemployed phlebotomist, emergency medical technician, corrections officer and firefighter whose uncompleted chair, currently sitting in his brother’s garage, is slated for his own living room in Bonney Lake, Wash. “For a lot of people in the last few years,” Mr. Marshall added, “the pieces have come together.”
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
Every issue gets better and better. You kill me.
I adore this sofa, and I am usually no fan of hippie dippy fabrics. HB can get any style right, that's all I am sayin'.
The current issue is all about getting "cozy" right. Who can't use an extra helping of cozy these days? I was happy to see slipcovered sofas in this issue. As you know, I am pro dogs-on-couch, so it as nice to see something washable in a magazine.
From the mail bag:
Did you get a new one? If so, what did you get? If not, what do you have and do you love it? Thanks and keep up the awesomeness.
I have a pretty basic stove. I don't love it. It's one of those stoves with the electric top... where it's all one glass or ceramic top. Hate it. It's never very clean. If I could have my way I would have gotten gas, but we're really not big cooks so the cost didn't seem worth it.
I'll do a post on stoves and ask people what they think. A handful will surely respond, "Oh, gas! Viking! Spend $5k!" And then hopefully the regular folk will chime in and let us know what is really good at a real price, you know?
Excellent, can't wait to see the responses. I currently have the smooth ceramic top too, hate it!
Readers - - what say you?