a real grown-up bedroom

April 1, 2009 at 10:09 pm | Posted in After, Before, Moving, Our Home, Projects | 9 Comments

Confession #1:  We’ve been sleeping on a mattress and box spring on the floor for the past 10 months.

Confession #2:  I wouldn’t have even paid attention to confession #1 had our Realtor not come through and gently suggested we get a bedframe.  Because we’re not in college any more.

So we ran out and bought a new headboard – Room and Board’s Mackintosh bed (BTW, Room and Board has an outlet in Minneapolis, so if you’re local and on the hunt for quality furniture at a discount, check it out.  I almost walked out of there with 3 chairs and a sofa… even though we were just looking for bedframes… ).  I’d been looking at iron bedframes since we decided to buy ourselves a bed as a wedding present to ourselves, but could never manage to pick one and then go out and order it!

Anyways, enough words.  Here are the pictures.

Before:  (this is even before the days of the queen mattress on the floor… when we were actually sleeping in a full on a bedframe)


I love it!

Looking towards my closet.

The eyesore that is the tv next to the bed.  I hid the cable cords and our wireless modem in the basket below the table, but this is still not a very pretty sight.  I’d move it out of the bedroom altogether, but I like to have the tv on when I’m home alone.  Which, in another week or so, will be ALL THE TIME.  I am not really looking forward to that.

Towards Jason’s closet. Ignore the laundry basket – that’s been moved.

And, since I also organized my closet, I thought I’d share a few pictures.  I am especially excited about the shadowbox containing my jewelry.  It’s a fun way to display it, and it makes it MUCH easier to figure out what to wear in the morning.  Also, the people who moved out before us left this crazy dresser that is missing 2 drawers, so I cleaned it out (a lot) and then put my clothes in it.  Again, one of those things I just dealt with before, but now wonder if people will be walking through my house wondering what the heck I am thinking!

This closet would be AMAZING with a better closet organizer.

And, the final piece needed for our awesome bathroom renovation showed up today, so stay tuned for pictures tomorrow!!  It’s the best makeover yet, I promise.


haz curb appeal?

March 31, 2009 at 6:06 pm | Posted in After, Before, During, Moving, Our Home, Projects | 9 Comments

We “spruced up” the yard a bit over the weekend as an attempt to give the house a little more curb appeal… as much as a yard can be “spruced up” in the frozen Minnesotan tundra this time of year.  Which, really, isn’t much, given that it can snow and freeze and be cold and nasty for another month or so here.  But we tried anyways.

Here’s what the house looked like shortly after we put an offer on it.  Try to ignore my pained expression, and focus instead on the concrete walkway to the right of the house.  This was a nasty, broken walkway, and it dumped water directly into our basement during the spring thaw of 2008.  Not awesome.

So Jason took a sledge hammer to it.  It was a long, painful process.  We both lost a few pounds and gained a few muscles.  Don’t worry – we’ve gained all that weight back by now.

My parents and brothers came to visit on a rainy weekend last May, and they not only helped us build a fence, but they finished digging out the area that was to be our new brick walkway and patio.

Later last May, we rented some tools, purchased 2.5 pallets full of brick, and went to work.  It was another long, painful weekend, but then, we had this:

Which was (and continues to be) awesome.  Not only for the awesome ability to sit and relax outdoors, but also because we’ve pretty much eliminated the water-into-the-basement problem.  Ignore the ugly garage in the background.  That is still a problem.

After all of this work, we managed to put in two planting beds (in front of the garage and next to the patio) and regrade the soil around the house before turning our attention to our impending fall nuptials.

Which brings us to the present.  Sunday, as we were comparing our house to the neighbor’s (you know, the ones with the gateway to hell through their oven and 2 offers on their home), we realized: we have little-to-no curb appeal.  We had a dead evergreen and mounds of dirt left from last year’s unfinished projects.

With the help of my cousin, Jennifer, we got rid of the dead evergreen and picked up some free mulch from a nearby park (the city leaves piles of cut up wood in parks for residents to use), and made our home a bit prettier.  I think.

Still not glamorous.  I would love to see a row of low bushes across the front of the house, and a window box full of flowers attached to the front, but this will have to do.  (Okay, and I’d put in a new door and paint the trim on the windows and paint the stairs, and add some planters to the stairs with pretty flowers in them.  If I was going to live here another 10 years, which I am not.  So it will have to be fine as it is.)


March 28, 2009 at 10:05 am | Posted in After, Before, Our Home, Projects | 1 Comment

I really HATE window cleaning.  But boy-oh-boy does it make a difference!

Left window = clean, Right window = covered in decades of dirt

I suspect these babies haven’t been washed in at least 10 years.  I wonder if I would be bothering to wash them if we weren’t moving.

Also, if anyone has suggestions on how to clean the outside of old windows, bring them on.  As of now, my plan includes climbing on the roof and using a ladder.  If you don’t hear from me by Monday, you might want to call to make sure I haven’t broken my neck.

Back to work now.

Bedroom #2

March 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm | Posted in After, Barley, Before, Moving, Our Home, Projects | 1 Comment

Alright, you know the routine by now.

A glimpse of the before:


And the after:

Better.  The bed is now sporting the beautiful quilt that my mom, aunt, and grandma made for my bridal shower.  And that picture above the bed?  Yep… it’s a Jen original.

Next to the bed is this big old dresser that I refurbished a few years ago.  I have a few framed pictures of my family’s awesome trip to the Baltic states (when can we go again?  Soon, please!).  And the apothecary jar (reused from our Christmas decor and the candy bar at our wedding) is filled with postcards from some of my adventures.

Keeping up with our little travel-theme, Jason hung this poster that we got in San Juan while there on business.  Tough business meeting, I know…

A view from the hallway…

And this staging make-over cost us a grand total of $0.  This makes me happy – gotta save our pennies for the new home in Michigan…

I also thought I would mention that Barley’s head is looking much better – thanks for all the kind words.  We pulled the stitches out yesterday and bathed him…  He wasn’t too thrilled about it (see picture below in which Jason grabs him to put him in the bath and he looks absolutely terrified), but I am so so so happy to get rid of that yucky doggy smell that’s been lingering around him and his blankies for the past few days/week.  I bet nothing would excite potential home buyers less than yucky doggy smell.

Bedroom #3

March 26, 2009 at 6:18 pm | Posted in After, Before, Moving, Our Home, Projects | 6 Comments

Our 3rd (and smallest) bedroom left much to be desired.  The previous owners had splashed dark green and brown paint everywhere (including the white trim and wood floors).  One of the walls curves up to the ceiling, and instead of drawing a neat line where the paint should stop, they stopped painting where their rollers stopped reaching.  It was a mess.  Here’s a glimpse of the hideous-ness shortly after we moved:

I like this green color… but it would work better in a bigger room.

And now?  5 coats of paint later:

The view from the study.  To solve the curved ceiling problem, we painted the far wall and ceiling the same shade of light blue as the office.  We painted the other 3 walls a slightly darker shade of blue.

The view from the hallway.  Our garage is out the back window.  And yes, that painting on the wall was made by yours truly.  It’s not that pretty, but it works.  Also?  There’s something therapeutic about a $10 canvas and a few $1 bottles of acrylic paint.  You should try it sometime.

The view from the closet, looking into the bedroom.  The study is in the background.

Total cost spent in this room?  Not much.

  • The furniture, pillows, sheets, and picture were all purchased a while ago.  The bed is actually a futon, but our Realtor suggested we stage this as a bedroom.
  • Painting – Canvas from Michaels $10; I had the acrylic paints from previous painting attempts (which you’ll see very soon!).
  • Curtains – Ikea (left by previous owner)
  • Primer – Killz $25
  • Paint – The light blue was leftover from the study (Frost Wind (#540A-1) by Behr), and the darker blue is Eminence (#550E-2) by Behr $18

$43 for a super-staged bedroom.  Yay for rooms that don’t require much of a budget!  Just wait till I get to the other bedrooms… where we staged them pretty without spending any money!

The Study, at its best

March 24, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Posted in After, Before, Our Home, Our Study, Projects | 9 Comments

Certainly you remember the not-so-pretty before pictures of the study, with Jason’s junk strewn about (that one is not so good with the organizing… plus, we had just moved in).

And now?

Computer desk with new imac and printer (this is where I’m sitting as I’m writing!  Hello!).  Confession: The calendar on the wall is actually for 2008, but I like the pictures in it and it doesn’t say 2008 anywhere on it, so I’m going with it.  Eventually I will probably put the pictures in frames, but for purposes of staging, a 2008 calendar is good enough.

Random blue chair.  We initially wanted something a little cozier here (a reading nook!), but this will do.  Until JT moves to Kalamazoo and takes it with him.  Also:  Dirty windows!  Yuck!  Still have to clean them… not sure exactly how I will clean the outside…  Sounds like a big pain.

Another shot of my lovely blogging workspace.

Extra paper and CDs hang out here.  Also, check out my awesome window chalkboard.  Love it.  Need to buy chalk to write on it.

I had planned on using a green and white material from Urban Outfitters for the curtains, but our Realtor suggested that if I wanted to take them with me (which, I do!  I love that fabric!), I should pick up something else.  With the exception of pictures, anything tied to the walls (i.e., curtains and curtain rods) goes with the house.

Our Realtor also commented that she dug our color-sorted books.  Yes!

I am especially proud of the window chalk board.  We had our old basement windows replaced with glass block last winter, and I held on to a few of the window panes.  I just popped the glass window out of the frame, and sanded and painted the window frame.  Then, I purchased a light-weight board ($5) and chalk board paint ($5) and cut it to the size of my window frame.  After painting the board and letting it dry, I popped it in the back of the window frame.  Ta da!  A fun re-use for an old window that would have otherwise been thrown out!

Our total cost/item rundown for this makeover?

  • Primer – Killz $25
  • Ceiling Paint – Gliddon (it’s the paint that starts purple and turns white as it dries!) $20
  • Wall Paint – Frost Wind (#540A-1) by Behr – $18
  • Trim Paint – Semi-glossy white paint by Behr – $18
  • Desk – Ikea (purchased years ago)
  • Stool – ? (purchased years ago)
  • Chair – Ikea (purchased years ago)
  • Rolling File Cabinet – Target (purchased years ago)
  • Magazine Holders – Ikea (left behind by our Swedish roommate)
  • Book Brackets – Ikea $14
  • Book Shelves – Wood from Home Depot, painted with the trim paint – $10
  • Curtains – Ikea $10
  • Curtain Rod/Wire and support pieces – Ikea $23
  • Curtain Clips – Ikea $5
  • Chalkboard – $10
  • Calendar above the printer – Gift (my mom brought it back with her from Italy).
  • Green desk accessories – Target (purchased years ago)
  • Silver pencil holder – Gift (my Grandparents gave this to me when I graduated from High School)
  • Blue Vase – Gift (Jason’s parents gave this to us on one of their visits)
  • Books – (purchased along the way…)

$153. Not bad for a clean and modern workspace!

the dining room

March 12, 2009 at 6:24 pm | Posted in After, Before, Moving, Organization, Our Dining Room, Our Home, Projects | 5 Comments

We’ve been doing some serious cleaning and organizing around here to prepare our house to go on the market.  Since the kitchen in this house is practically non-existent and the MacGyver-style bathroom is sure not to impress anyone, we decided that the rest of the house needs to look extra-stunning to make up for it.  We’ve pulled out all of the family photos, boxed up the excess nonsense laying around the house, and packed up anything that should be moved to MI with Jason in a few weeks (e.g., my new dishes).  And I’ve been cleaning!  On my hands and knees!  Yikes.  It took me several hours to go through the dining room and the small room behind it that had become overrun with wedding presents (because there was no room in the kitchen for many of our nice, new, shiny, kitchen things).  It’s embarrassing, really, to have all of those things just sitting in boxes, so when we look for somewhere to live in Michigan, I will be on the hunt for a large kitchen!


This picture was taken shortly after we moved in… check out the boxes and whatnot all over that tiny room beyond the dining room – yuck!


And now – nothing but light coming in through the windows!  Look at those floors shine!  Ignore the power cord stretched across the floor (we only have one three-prong outlet in the living room, so we use a power cord to work on our laptops and watch TV simultaneously).

The green CD towers in the background are from Ikea, and we’ll be getting rid of them before we move.  Let us know if you want them…

The view from the kitchen I made the curtains!

Looking towards the kitchen – I love the antique chandelier!  I think it’s probably original to the house, given the amount of dust and dirt I’ve cleaned off of it!

And the little room behind the dining room – yikes.  Anyone have ideas as to what this room may have originally been used for?  We’ve used it primarily for box storage…  Check out the messy Before (I suspect I should be too embarrassed to even post this):

And the After:

We imagined that anyone who bought the house and kept the layout as-is could use this room as a butler’s pantry or mini-bar.  It could also be used as an office (but we don’t have any other desks lying around, so we staged it as a butler’s pantry).  We would have changed the layout of the house, and built in a desk and some shelves here.

What do you think?  Any staging advice?  Stay tuned as we continue to stage and clean, organize and pack…

Childhood Memories

February 25, 2009 at 8:51 pm | Posted in After, Before, Moving, Organization, Projects | 5 Comments
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Jason is in the process of accepting a new job!  Kalamazoo, Michigan, here we come!  Thank you all so much for your support and advice…  As much as this might not be the decision that I would make if I were alone, this is the right decision for the three of us (Barley is psyched to be a Michigan Dogg).  So, we’re going with it.  And it’s going to be fabulous.

Of course, it’s not really that easy.  We’ve got things to organize and pack up.  So many of our things weren’t even unpacked after our move to this house, and I am determined not to move all of these things that I haven’t even used.  So, it’s likely that the focus of this blog will become organization, packing, and moving – no more home improvement projects.  Sigh.  It’s taken a while to realize that my kitchen dreams aren’t going to happen (at least not in this house), and that we’ll not be doing any of the bazillion home improvement projects that I’ve envisioned.

Instead, I’ll be using the next few months to organize and get rid of things we no longer need.  Jason will likely move in April, and I hope to follow next fall after some of my projects at work are finished up.  This summer, I’m making plans use the time I would have spend remodeling to try my hand at quilting (again), to perfect my photography, and to scrapbook (digitally?) our pictures from the last few years.  It’s kind of exciting, I think.

My first project?

These boxes of childhood memories.  My parents were sweet enough to save every project, painting, and paper from my elementary, middle, and high school days in these boxes.  Really nice, right?  Except that these things take up space, and the boxed organization doesn’t really allow for easy browsing.

Two large garbage bags and several hours later, I had it all condensed it all down into a binder and shoebox.  The binder contains plastic 12×12 sleeves, and each memory is stuffed inside one of these plastic sleeves labeled with the year and grade.

While it was heartbreaking to throw 90% of it away, it was equally annoying that the boxes were filling up my closet, taking up valuable space that I need to store current items that I use daily.  Keeping in mind my mission to reduce un-needed, un-looked at, and un-loved clutter in 2009 was all I really needed to get rid of the not-as-good projects and paintings.  Sad to get rid of childhood memories, happy to have it all in one convenient little place to look at as I please!

(PS for those of you following our wedding recap, I just *finally* posted a little ditty on our ceremony.  We’re still waiting on the professional photos, so for now, I’ve just posted the pictures taken by our guests.)

welcome: new entry way hooks!

February 2, 2009 at 10:43 am | Posted in After, Before, During, Our Back Hall, Our Dining Room, Our Living Room, Projects | 2 Comments

Our entry way has been a constant source of annoyance for us.  There’s just not much space near the door, and we have no closets on the first floor that would be convenient to hang jackets in.  And someday, I hope to change the front door to something a little more 1920s and a little less 1950s.

view from the living room

view from upstairs

Because there is nowhere near the door to hang our jackets, they would usually end up hanging off of dining room chairs.  Resulting in something that looks like this:

Uggh.  No matter how clean the place is, the jackets just make it look messy.  They’re the first thing you see when you walk into the dining room, and they don’t really scream sit down and grab a bite to eat.

The only other coat-hanging option we had rigged up were these two little coats next to our back door.  You know, the back door that we cannot use because we had to rig up a lock system that we can’t unlock from the outside.  The back door is another source of annoyance for yours truly.  Someday everything in this house will work as it should, right?  Sigh. (quietly reminding self why old houses are great.)

It’s not very handy to have the only coat hooks in your house located next to a door you can’t use.  Just so you know.

So, yesterday, after I found out that my deadline on the biggest work project I’ve done yet is postponed until June and I just worked the past 2 weekends without needing to, JT and I went out and engaged in a little retail therapy.  Specifically, we picked up this little beauty from Urban Outfitters.  We had seen it a few weeks ago and both liked it.  And this time, we were especially psyched because it was on sale for $9.99 (compared to it’s original price at $25).  Score!

Here’s our new coat hook in action.  Much better!  No more coats making the dining room look messy!  And everything I need to leave the house (hat, mittens, coat, shoes) are all conveniently located near the door.  Love it!

Now, if only our shoes would stay organized… but that might be another mission for another day…

How we’re staying warm, Part 2: Basement Insulation

January 18, 2009 at 11:02 pm | Posted in After, Before, During, Our Basement, Our Home, Projects | Leave a comment
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Oh yes, I am back with the second part in our oh-so-exciting series about keeping the house warm. Fortunately, the temperatures around here have dramatically increased to a balmy 25 degrees (that’s like a 50-degree improvement over last week), so that helps a bit.

Anyways, today’s topic of interest: basement insulation. Riveting, no?

Shortly after moving in, we discovered that the area where the floor joists sit on the concrete basement walls was completely open (that space is officially called the “rim joist”). No insulation, just one layer of wood and some siding.

So we bought a bag of R-19 fiberglass insulation ($27), cut it up using a box cutter, and stuck it in between the floor joists. The whole project probably took 2-3 hours (I did half of it last winter, and finished the other half yesterday).

The worst part of the project was my paranoia about my skin touching the fiberglass and becoming a big, itchy rash. So I covered myself in an old sweatshirt, and rocked some work gloves and a mask. Lovely.

I’m not sure that it will make a huge impact on our heating bill, but it does seem to have cut down some of the draft coming up through the floors. It was a pretty quick, cheap, and easy project, so if it reduces our energy use even a little, or if it keeps us just the tiniest bit warmer, I think it’s worth it.

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