Sunday, March 28, 2010

Closet Progress: Cubby Storage

It's been exactly one week since half of my closet collapsed on me. I've spent the last week with half of my wardrobe piled up on the guest bed, sifting through it as I got ready for work each morning. It hasn't been fun. So this afternoon, after catching up on what was happening up the street, B and I headed upstairs to look at how to tackle the new closet project.

I started by removing the remainder of my clothes and possessions, to get back to the basic (awful) structure.

Once it was cleared out, I got to work removing all the.. uh... JUNK, that once held my clothes and we were left with a wonderful giant space...

I figured I would fill all the holes, sand it down, prime it and paint it and then start taking measurements for the new closet system (whatever that solution might be). Well, B had a different idea, and soon my closet looked more like this:

He told me to "get to work" and I told him to forget it - he chopped a whole in my wall, we were going to fix it together. The idea was to utilize some of that forgotten space in our angled ceiling/walls. The plan was to lose that middle wall stud, and put in a cubby between the two remaining studs, that we could put shelves into to house my purses and linens. First, we measured the depth of the shelves that had already been in there, and planned that the cubby would need to be 12 inches deep. Based on that measurement, we had to figure out how high the cubby could be to allow for our 12 inches depth, and to keep the whole thing square (no sloping like the ceiling). In the end we took all of our measurements and headed out to the garage where B measured, cut and put together a plywood cubby that we could insert into the giant hole in the back of my closet.

Once we got the cubby upstairs, and into the closet, we discovered that the other two stud's would also have to be removed in order to fit the cubby into the wall. After some shifting, adjusting and shimming of the cubby, B had it in the right spot, and used the old wood support from the closet to make two smaller studs that would sit atop of our cubby and connect with the studs in the ceiling. Once they were installed, it looked like this:

The next step, was to do something about that electrical box we had discovered attached to one of the studs when we opened up the wall. B had found out it was live when he shocked his ear leaning into the opening to clean it out. So, after putting the appropriate cover on the box, he screwed it into the side wall to make sure it was secure and safe and out of the way for the remainder of our construction work.

Once that was out of the way, we began our measurements for the drywall. With all of those in hand, we headed into the basement and cut up a bunch of leftover chunks of drywall from our laundry room project. We finally got them into place, taped them up and B put some metal outside corner support on the cubby edges to clean them up.

I was then in charge of mudding all the joints and holes in the closet area... but of course I didn't do such a good job, so B needed to jump in behind me to clean it up.

Right now it's sitting and drying - once it's done I'll be back up there sanding it and touching up any necessary spots. The next step will be to prime it and paint it white... then it's just a matter of figuring out how I want to handle clothes storage, and space the shelves in our new cubby. I'm just glad we've found a way to reclaim some more unused space in our little old house and to create more storage in my closet.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The New Unexpected Project

As I mentioned in my post on Friday - we have way too many projects on the go around our house. The basement renos are ongoing, my kitchen refresh is not yet complete and I have a few pieces of furniture sitting around that are waiting to be finished. Thankfully, I have not yet started sanding or painting the two chairs I plan on refinishing for the basement. So for the moment, I can let that project wait.

Unfortunately, this past weekend didn't really work out quite as I had hoped. I had huge ambitions of banging out some of the projects that we have on the go. Of course, none of them were touched (with the exception of B working on some stuff in the basement bathroom that I couldn't help with). So, with B confined to the basement yesterday, I was looking for something useful to do, and ended up in our upstairs guest bedroom / my dressing room ready to spring clean and purge!

I set about on my merry way - and of course, it had to get worse before it was going to get any better:

I was determined though, and managed to fill three bags of clothing to donate, a bag of stuff to add to our "sell" pile, some things that were very misplaced and half of a small bag of garbage (Incredible how much you can fit into a small place when you just start cramming things in)! It felt nice to finally purge that room. The best part was that my closet suddenly had quite a bit more room for my wardrobe to expand... or so I thought.

I had just put the last blanket on the shelf to the right in the closet, and had turned to work on something else, when I was startled by a very loud noise. I turned to see this:

To be honest, that closet of mine, was never well constructed. So really, this wasn't much of a surprise. Check out that sorry attempt at closet construction...

There are so many things I could point out to you, but I'm sure you can see most of the issues with this monstrosity! I've known since we moved in last July that this would eventually happen. So, here I am, with a purged room, but half of my wardrobe, and a collection of linens and blankets, piled up on the guest bed. Thankfully we have no house guests planned for the immediate future!

All of this, of course, occurred almost simultaneously with B cursing something in the basement that wasn't working out quite right. I must say, we were both happy campers when we met on the main floor following our adventures, at 8pm, starving and too irritated to whip something up for a very late dinner (thank god for left over Thai take-out).
Well, I guess that means it's time to add yet another project to my continuously growing to-do list - building a new closet. Plans for my new closet will come this week...

Sunday, March 21, 2010

It's Up!

Some of you may remember that a little while back I won this adorable print from Brittany over at My. Daily. Randomness. Well, it took me some time, but I finally found the perfect black frame (both style and price) for it. I also finally decided on the perfect spot to hang it!

In my guest bedroom / my dressing room, I once had this little water colour painting of the Spanish Steps (that I bought at the top of the Spanish Steps in Rome, n February 2005) hanging over my dresser. Well, it was definitely far too small for that spot, as the picture below would indicate.

I love the watercolour, but it really just was a temporary home for it. I wanted it on the walls when we moved in, so it's been there for the past 8 months filling a blank spot.

The larger frame and print definitely balance things out better. I'm so happy to finally have it hanging in our home. The little watercolour will definitely have a new spot soon, I'm hoping that once the basement is FINALLY done, I will add it to a little gallery wall I plan on doing. I guess you'll just have to stick around to see where it ends up!

Friday, March 19, 2010

What I Really Want...

I know that right now we have quite a few projects on the go at home. From my mini kitchen refresh project, to our massive basement reno to the makeover of my two second hand chairs, I have no shortage of projects to work on right now. However, in my usual manner, I have the desire to start so many more. I'm sure you all know what it's like, there is always something else that you can find to do! Well, right now, with all of the gorgeous weather that we've been having, what I REALLY want, is to do something about our backyard (all pictures from July 2009, when we got the keys):

As you can see in this picture, our backyard is shared with the neighbours - the garage door to the left is their's. We could put up a fence, but they have two little ones that like being able to run around, and we don't mind them in our yard.

There's quite a lot that we not only want to do, but just HAVE to do (i.e. the deck is a disaster and if we don't completely rebuild it, boards still need to be replaced this spring/summer before someone breaks a leg!). Thankfully, since these photos were taken, that twisted rotten branch tree sticking out of the middle of our yard has been removed, and the area next to the garage has been all cleaned out.

Aside from actual landscaping (the dogs RUINED the grass because the winter was so mild, they just tore it up running around when it was damp), we really want to tackle our half of the garage. Painting the doors on the garage is actually on our list of things we'd like to accomplish around the house in 2010 (aka: the list that I made that B must now suffer through).

So, with the weather cooling off a bit this weekend, and a possibility of rain, it's the perfect time for B and I to finish up some of the projects we have on the go! But i'd like to throw it to my readers. If this were your yard - what would you do with it? I'd love to hear some of your ideas! (Note: Our house faces the west, and we have HUGE trees behind the house... so lots, and lots and lots of shade - which you can probably tell from the photos!). So share away... and I'll be sure to share OUR plans once we really get going with our outdoor work!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

The Emerald Isle

Happy St. Patrick's Day Friends! However you choose to celebrate this wonderful day, I hope that it's a great day for you! This past November B and I spent 5 wonderful days exploring the city of Dublin - a first trip for both of us to Ireland! I loved the city and hope to return one day to see much, much more of this beautiful country. In honour of St. Patrick's Day, I share with you some of my favorite photos from our trip to the Emerald Isle...

How could I start with anything other than a photo of St. Patrick's Cathedral itself?

The Dublin Spire (top) and Dublin City Hall at night

Views from the Guinness Storehouse in the Gravity Bar - can't beat free Pint's of Guinness!

Head with every Pint of Guinness (top) and a view of the Old Jameson Distillery from the restaurant

Interior of the stunning Christchurch Cathedral (top) and Historic Kilmainham Goal

Night scenes in Dublin - The Custom House at the top

Interior of Dublin Castle

Irish Parliament

There are plenty more where these came from - I could post photos of our lovely little vacation forever. But I will spare you! Enjoy & Happy St. Patrick's friends!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Choosing Chair Fabric

Some of you may remember, a while ago, I posted a list of projects I would like to complete around the house in 2010. One of those projects was to refinish an old chair to use in my laundry / office / craft space in the basement. Even though the room itself is not 100% completed (baseboards, storage & work area need to go in), I already have a vision of what I want my chair to look like. Thankfully, we were out a few weekends ago at a second hand furniture store, just down the street from us, when I happened upon these two lovely chairs:

Okay, not so lovely right now... but the shape and quality of the chairs is excellent! I was able to snatch both for $40! Not a bad deal!

My orignal plan was to finish one for my own little space, and refinish the second a little differently for the basment living area. However, as time has passed and I have thought about what I want to do with the chairs, I think I would prefer to finish them both to look the same. Since my craft / office area is a small room off the basement living area, it would be nice if the two chairs matched and could both be used as extra seating.

My vision is to sand down and paint the chairs a glossy white to freshen them up. I'd also like to add more cushioning to the seat, and of course change out the orange tweed for some new fabric. After scouring the Designer Fabrics website today, I came up with a few ideas for the fabric I would like to use (In the order in which I am considering them):

I know they vary quite a bit, and I REALLY love the first two fabrics the most! I'd just like to get some input on what others think. Below is a picture of our upstairs bathroom - the paint colour is the same colour that we have used in the laundry room.

It's an incredibly pale blue, and I think looks fantastic with some really bold colours next to it. So I'm putting it out there readers - what fabric would you choose if you were in my shoes?

Monday, March 15, 2010

Basement Progress (FOR REAL!)

Believe it or not - work has once again resumed in our basement! Yes my friends, we are once again in the process of completing our basement reno. The other weekend, while I was outside, spraying the doors for our kitchen pantry, B was busy working on the basement bathroom floor so we can start getting it back together again.

What, you may ask, was B doing with the floor? Well, during my little blogging hiatus last month, we weren't exactly doing nothing around the house. We spent some time down below with a cement saw and a jack hammer taking up a portion of the floor. Since we removed the old tub, we decided that this second bathroom only needed a shower stall. However, with a ceiling that was only a little taller than 6-feet, we needed to get down a bit further so people who aren't vertically challenged as I am, could comfortably shower in our second bathroom.

Putting in the shower stall also meant, that the bathroom layout would be changing - therefore, B would also have to move the drain for the toilet. So for a while there was a lot of dust, dirt and noise in our basement... and eventually, a lot more dust and concrete (43 bags to be exact). Once he was done the basement bathroom had gone from this...

To this...

Not too bad, huh? This is how our bathroom stood when I left for Ottawa last Thursday. I was, of course, beyond thrilled, when I arrived home Sunday night and found our basement looking like this:

FINALLY! WALLS! Well... almost anyway. Cement board and drywall to come still (obviously)!

Of course, there is always a bump in the road. This time, it turns out, despite our measurements and floor plans, we aren't too happy with the location of the toilet. After getting the walls framed, B had pulled out the base of the toilet we purchased (as can be seen in the last photo), as well as the sink for our vanity and placed them where they were supposed to be. This led to the unfortunate discovery that the toilet is a little too long and leaves the bathroom feeling small and squishy when placed across from the sink. This means we are currently looking at options for more compact toilets. They seem to be a little more pricey, but we know it will be well worth the investment to add a little space to our smaller second bathroom.

We also discovered that we may have to crack up the concrete around the recently relocated toilet drain. Why? So we can move it again! Good times! Despite these little blips, I am happy to see progress once again! Maybe one day, we'll even have functioning bathroom down there again! :)

Friday, March 12, 2010

The Return

Friday morning... and I'm just sitting back, on my friends couch, enjoying a latte and a little time off work. As those of you who follow me on Twitter already know, I'm spending a long weekend in Ottawa visiting some friends. I spent four wonderful years living in this city, and don't get back to visit as often as I would like. So when the trip was being discussed, I decided to take a couple extra days off work and enjoy a four day weekend in one of my favorite cities. 

With the spring weather here, I've just been enjoying time wandering around the city and catching up with some old friends. It's been nice catching up with people I haven't seen in a long time, and visiting places I used to frequent. 

Ottawa holds a special place in my heart, it's where I truly became the person I am today. It made me independent, and I made a lot of wonderful friends who I will forever cherish. I look back fondly on my days living in this wonderful city, and always enjoy enjoy coming back for a visit.

Thought I would take this opportunity to share some of my photos from past visits back to Ottawa. 

All wintry wonderland snaps are from March 2008. Hard to believe, two years later, same time of year we have have wonderful sunny spring weather!

These happy sunny photos are from B's first trip to Ottawa with me - August 2008. I definitely think it's time for me to get out and take some more up to date photos of the city.

Monday, March 8, 2010

The Kitchen Refresh - Partial Reveal

So, for a while you've been seeing some periodic posts about me working on freshening up our kitchen. It's something I'm extremely happy about, largely because this is a project I have 100% tackled myself! B has stood by and offered a hand if needed, but for the most part, what I will reveal has been completed entirely by me! Of course, it's a temporary solution until we have the money to create our dream kitchen, but I know it will most definitely keep me happy for now.

So, just to remind you - this is what our kitchen looked like when we moved in (and right up until the end of January actually):

And this is what our giant pantry looked like...

Now, a lot of people have commented to me before how much they liked the kitchen as it was. I think when it came down to it, it was the original backsplash that I really hated. Then, after painting our living room grey - the yellow just wasn't cutting it anymore and it led to my complete overhaul!

So, with more work left to do before I can do a final reveal, let's get a sneak peek at what's to come with a reveal of my completed pantry....

I'm pretty happy with the results. The cabinet itself I primed, using just a basic latex based primer, and then used two coats of a semi-gloss white paint. Using a small brush for cutting in, and a small sponge roller for larger areas. Once the doors were off, I used a paint sprayer that we got on sale at Home Depot, to prime and paint the doors. We used a melamine paint (I sprayed outside, it's oil based an stinky - so don't use it inside!), as was recommended by my father (a cabinet maker) and a friend who is a painter. It is meant to stand up better to being touched and washed and cleaned all the time. Even though this is only a temporary solution for our kitchen, we plan on repurposing the cabinets around the house once we completely renovate the kitchen.

The hardware I took off and sprayed using an aluminum spray paint we had laying around from other projects around the house. I think they turned out pretty great! Now I just need to start thinking about getting the rest of the cabinets finished up - hope to start that final stage of my kitchen refresh soon. So what do you think?
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