Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Puffin and Sea Creature Themed Nursery Pictures

Since I haven't posted anything on this blog for a very very long time, I figured I was due for a post.  We have gone/are going though some major life changes.  I'm pregnant and due with a little girl in November.  We already have the nursery mostly set up, which didn't really require that much redecorating since the guest bedroom kind of looked like a nursery already.  

We moved the queen sized bed out of there and for my office, got a murphy bed that transitions from a desk into a full sized bed.  I'll take pictures of that someday once I get my office better set up.  It's a mess right now.  We also moved the marble topped dresser into the master bedroom for extra clothes storage for me. 

The glider came from Salvation Army.  It is pretty ugly and I was thinking about recovering the cushions, but that seemed like too much work for something that we will only be using temporarily.  It is amazingly comfortable though. The diaper pail was a hand me down, and strangely everything else in this picture we already had.  Even the changing table with the animals stenciled on it.  I found it in the alley when I lived in Burbank many years ago and most recently it was in the closet for extra storage.  It already had the animals stenciled on it, I just changed out the knobs with unfinished wooden ones that I painted with random paint samples from our garage. We still need a changing pad for it.

I found the fake Eames hang-it-all at the Salvation Army a while ago and just repainted the wooden balls different colors (also from our random paint samples in the garage).  I made these felt puffin portraits a long time ago and they were already hanging up in this same place.

I managed to fit this drop leaf table to use as a side table to the glider. I got from my Aunt when she was downsizing and it used to belong to my grandparents.  I have had this lamp for a while and have still not been able to identify the maker.  I think my parents got that dinosaur candle holder at an estate sale many years ago. 

The Ikea crib and bookcases are the only things that we've bought new so far for this room.  The crib still needs a mattress.  I made the fish print, whale watercolor and the puffin mobile.  There are seven different puffins in this room (the two felt portraits, the Charlie Harper print in this picture, the three puffins in the mobile and one on a Geninne Zlatkis bird ABC print on the other side of the room. 

I found this weird circus screen print at an estate sale.  It is by Julieta Jones a printmaker based out of Laguna Beach.  I love it, but I'm not sure Nate is as keen on it.  The frame was originally painted red, but I repainted it white.  At some point I might replace the pink mat with a white one, but I think for now it is ok to have a little bit of pink in here since it is a girl's room.  

These are the table numbers from our wedding that I designed, watercolored and put in thrifted frames that I painted with more paint samples.  I have gotten a lot of use out of these paint samples.  They are each a different sea creature and inspired by children's counting books.  They fit perfectly above the window and of course I've had them up in the guest room since we bought this house.  One of many things that made the guest room look very nursery-like.

Here you can see the extent of my vintage children's book collection.  There are actually a few more in the living room, but they are more chapter books instead of picture books.  The Ikea book cases do hold a lot of books, but I should probably save more room for toys. 

The toucan night light was from Goodwill.  I think it is an Old Timer Ferrari one made in Verona, Italy, but it might be a knockoff.  After seeing them a million times on pinterest, I had to make some display book shelves from Ikea spice racks.  I painted the unfinished wood white.  They are great for showing off some of my vintage children's book covers.

Here is that Geninne Zlatkis ABC bird print with the last puffin.  I also already had this up in the room when it was a guest room.  The coral reef light switch holder was in this room when we bought the house and it matched the not super attractive fish mural that was in this room when we moved in.  The Rody horse was a lucky Salvation Army find.  Oh and the rug that is in here is the one that was in the living room before.  We got a new one for the living room that again I may take pictures of at some point.  It is super faded and has been thrown up on by cats too many times to count, so I figure if it gets spit up and crayon marks on it I won't be too upset. 

I'm pretty happy with this room.  Actually it is my favorite room in the house right now and I'm always going in there to just relax on the glider and take it all in.  We still need to get some essentials and I also want to make another mobile to go over the changing table.  I might take down the vertical cat scratching box since they rarely use it anymore and put up some more of those Ikea spice rack book shelves,  Otherwise it is pretty much done, and way ahead of schedule. 

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Refinished Hardwood Floors

A couple of months ago I mentioned that we were planning on getting the hardwood floors in our master and guest bedrooms refinished.  Well we did, a long time ago.  But I keep putting off posting about it.  I guess, since we paid someone to do it instead of doing it ourselves, I just haven't been as eager to blog about it.  I am very happy that we didn't attempt to do it ourselves though because it was a pretty involved process that is probably best left up to the professionals.  The company we hired was California Hardwood Floors in Signal Hill.

To refresh your memory, here is what the floor of the guest bedroom looked like after we pulled up the berber carpet that was pee stained and shredded by the cats.  Some previous owners had decided to use the original hardwood floors as a drop cloth when spray painting the walls and then just covered them in carpet.  In the guest bedroom we took up the tack strips and all the staples in the floor as well as the carpet.

Since the master bedroom is where we sleep, we didn't pull up the carpet in that room until the weekend before the floor refinishers came.  The floors in this room were in about the same shape as the ones in the guest bedroom.  We didn't end up taking the tack strips out in this room because California Hardwood Floors said they would take them out for no extra charge.  Good thing, because, just like the tack strips in the guest bedroom, they were attached with 2 1/2" long staples which were really hard to get out.  

After taking out the carpet and pulling up the staples in the center of the floor, we moved our mattress back into the bedroom so we could sleep in our own bedroom for a couple of more nights.  During the actual refinishing process, which took three days plus three more days of drying, we slept on our mattress in the middle of the living room.  It was so bright in there!

Day one involved lots and lots of sanding.  I locked the cats in my office and put Kieta outside.  I was planning to hang out in my office and work but the sanding was insanely loud.  I ended up taking my computer into the barn to work and leaving the poor cats to deal with the loud noises themselves.  They pretty much just hid, huddled together, under my desk the whole time.

After they finished sanding I got to pick out the stain.  We were trying to sort of match the hardwoods in the rest of the house.  They have more of a red tone.  The original hardwoods are white oak which apparently is really hard to make look reddish.  I think the stain I picked was the one on the far right.  I wasn't too worried about it looking exactly the same because they would never match since they are a different type of wood and a different with of board, but I wanted it to somewhat flow.

So the first day they sanded, stained and put the first layer of water based polyurethane on.  That night while I was talking to Nate on the phone explaining what the floors looked like I opened the door to look at the floor and Flynn ran in and walked on the wet floor.  I managed to chase him out of there with a swifter without actually walking on the floor myself or touching the swifter to the ground.  But it did leave a few little cat foot prints.  It ended up being ok though because they buff inbetween each layer of poly and that managed to get rid of the cat foot prints.  

Above is what it looked like when wet after a couple layers of poly.  I didn't want it to be too shiny and after it dried it wasn't nearly as shiny as this.

Since the hardwood floors in the rest of the house are about 1/2" higher than the original hardwoods (because they were laid over the top of the original hardwoods) we had them put in a transition strip that slopes down.  Above you can see the transition strip as well as the fact that the floors don't match, but don't look too weird together.

After it was all finished I repainted base boards and we managed to get the furniture all put back into both rooms before Nate's parents came to visit.  Here are the floors with everything moved back in.

Overall I think it turned out really nice.  There were a few deep stains that didn't come out even with all the sanding, but I think that is to be expected with 60 year old hardwood floors.  It looks much better than carpet and so so much better than their previous sad paint splattered state.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trellis for the Cucumbers

When we bought the house, there was a small space between the barn and the back planter box.  It seemed like wasted space to me.  And even though you would think it would be pretty shady, since it it crammed in between the wall of the back planter box and the barn, since it is south facing, it always seemed to get a lot of sunlight.  So last year, Nate and I built a small narrow planter box back there.  Here is the first blog post where I mention it.  Last year we grew corn it it.  The corn did ok in there.  It got pretty tall and ended up producing a few ears of corn, but I decided corn is just not worth growing.  It is so cheep at the store when in season and just as tasty.  And getting only an ear or two per plant just seems like too much biomass to produce to get a tiny bit to eat.  

In some issue of Sunset this winter or spring (I can't find it anymore and can't find any reference to the project on the sunset webpage) they had a tiny blurb about using steel remesh, like the stuff used in concrete slabs, to attach a sturdy trellis to a wooden fence.  I thought it would be perfect to attach to the side of the barn to let vining plants (like cucumbers) grow in that weird little planter box.  I told Nate about it and I added it to the list of projects to get to at some point.  

As a side note, the barn had a pretty good termite infestation in the door and earlier this summer we ended up getting the whole barn tented and fumigated.  When they did that the tarp ended up covering up the weird little planter box.  The vicane definitely killed all the plants that were left in the planter box, which at the time was just parsley that had seeded itself there.  I was worried that it probably also killed any earthworms and anything other good stuff living in the soil and I didn't know how well stuff would end up growing in there.  

I had started a few cucumber seeds earlier in the late spring and was eager to get the plants in the ground.  So we went to Lowes and bought two 4' by 7' wire remesh panels.  With a little bending, they barely fit  in Nate's Ford Focus with the back door tied down.  We also got screw in hooks to attach them to the side of the barn.  We ended up having to cut down the remesh a little bit.  They attached to the barn pretty easily and make a nice sturdy and attractive trellis.  I put lots of compost in the planter box to make sure the soil was healthy and planted the cucumbers.  They are now finally blooming and getting tall enough to climb up the trellis.  Hopefully, I can actually get enough cucumbers to pickle a few this year. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Hardwood Floors

When we bought our house we assumed that it didn't originally have hardwood floors.  The living room/dining room, hallways and my office had fairly new (I think cherry) hardwood floors.  The kitchen and bathroom had linoleum and the guest and master bedrooms had berber carpet.  Since the house was built in 1955 it didn't seem that crazy for it not to originally have hardwood floors.  Since many of the other houses in the neighborhood that we looked at had original hardwood floors, I figured that hardwood or carpet was just an option that you could choose from the builder.  Even though the new hardwood floors in our house were nice and in good shape, I was kind of sad to not have the thin board oak floors that were original to many houses built in the same era.

When we had the extra doorway to my office drywalled up, like many people who do some remodeling to their homes, we discovered some odd choices that the previous owners made.  We were trying to get baseboard molding to match the molding in the hallway and the inside of my office to patch the space that had just been drywalled up when we discovered that the people who laid the hardwood floors didn't take the baseboard off when they put in the floors.  They just laid the hardwood up to the baseboard and put quarter round over the gap between floor and the baseboard.  Normal people would have taken the baseboards off, laid the hardwood all the way up to the wall and then put the baseboards back on over the hardwoods.  This of course made it really tough to patch the space where the doorway had been.  I will not show you a picture of the makeshift patch job we did.  But lots of caulk and strategic furniture placement hides it fairly ok.

When poking around the baseboards, I shined a flashlight down in the space between the wall and the hardwood floors and realized that there actually were original hardwood floors underneath the new hardwood floors.  Strangely they seemed to have been painted white, but I could see a nice finish to them in spots where the white paint had flaked off.

In the guest bedroom the carpet was in horrible shape.  First, two cats and a dog that was potty training at the time had peed and thrown up on it multiple times.  Each time we used carpet cleaner on it, instead of taking out the stain, it would just make it bigger and darker.  Also the cats loved scratching at the carpet in the door way.  They had managed to unravel long strings of berber carpet which exposed the tack strip.  Walking into the room in bare feet became really dangerous.   But since they had destroyed the carpet so well, it was easy to pull up the corner of the carpet to see that the guest bedroom  also had original hardwood floors that seemed to have been painted white.

This past weekend, we decided to tear up the carpet in the guest room to see what we were working with.  Either we could refinish it, leave it painted white, repaint it white or just get new carpet.  Any of these options we figured would be better than the stained, unraveling carpet that was there.

We weren't expecting what we found.  The floor seemed in fairly good shape.  But it looked like someone had painted the walls with a sprayer without bothering to cover the floor in any way.  So the floors were pretty solidly white on the edges with lighter white in the center and lots of drips and foot prints.  I guess if they were planning on putting hardwoods over the existing hardwoods in the rest of the house and putting carpet down in the bedrooms, why try to preserve them.  Who cares what future owners of the house might want to do.

With much difficulty, we tore up the tack strips and removed a million super deep staples from the floor.  I think we will probably pay someone to refinish them for us and have them do the master bedroom at the same time.  I pulled up a corner in the master bedroom and it looks like the same situation.

I'm assuming that since they put hardwoods over the original hardwoods, there must have been something wrong with them somewhere that made it not worth just refinishing them.  So we probably won't be tearing up the new hardwoods throughout the rest of the house anytime soon.

Anyway, stay tuned for future progress on this project.  Hopefully we will get it done fairly soon since Nate's parents are visiting us in a month and will need to sleep in that bedroom.

Friday, May 24, 2013

I Think the Kitchen is Finally Completely Finished

This last phase, of tiling the backsplash, grouting, caulking and touch-up painting, took quite some time.  But it was kind of nice to break it up into lots of smaller projects the could be done in an evening.  Again. as a reminder, here is what the kitchen looked like when we bought the place two years ago.  And here it is now.

We ended up having to buy a wet saw to cut the subway tile.   There were lots of corner notches that we had to cut to go around outlets, cabinets and window moulding that you can't cut with the score and snap tile cutter we already had.  I think the wet saw we bought probably isn't professional grade, and wouldn't work that well for stone tile.  But it worked great for the ceramic subway tile and cost about the same as renting a wet saw from Home Depot for one day.  

There was some debate between Nate and I about where to end the subway tile.  I was almost of a mind to just tile every wall in the kitchen from floor to ceiling, or at least from floor to the level of the underside of the upper cabinets.  I finally agreed that that would be a little excessive and expensive.  I think I'm pretty happy with where we decided to end the tile.  In this corner above, I didn't want a floating square of tile on the far wall, so we just didn't tile it at all.  

On this side we ended at the edge of the upper cabinets, but used bullnose edging tile along the edge.  So even though you can see some bare wall behind the fridge, it looks finished. 

In this corner, since there was a defined end to the tile with the window moulding, we ended up tiling the space between it and the counter on the far wall.  

This was the hardest to figure out space.  We ended up tiling behind the stove, but just from the level of the counter up.  We screwed a piece of wood into the wall during the tiling to keep the tiles level with the counter.  Then on the left we stopped at the edge of the microwave.  The end of the tile is hidden, just barely, behind the stove.  We didn't want to tile the whole area behind the stove and if we extended it any further there would be tiles floating in the air.  If I had to do it again, I might have just tiled all the way to the door jam and down to the floor so it looked like we tiled behind the whole stove.  

Since we did almost everything ourselves, there are definitely a lot of little imperfections in this kitchen. But I'm willing to live with them since doing things ourselves saved us A LOT of money.  I think also having put so much hard work into it gives us even more of a pride of ownership.  

Living with and cooking in the new kitchen has been really great so far.  There is so much more counter space with the microwave, coffee maker and toaster oven not sitting on the counter.  Keeping the coffee maker behind the tambour doors in the hoosier cabinet has worked out really well.  We even found a smaller toaster oven that fits inside the hoosier cabinet too.  And it toasts so much quicker than our old one.  I think my only complaint is that cat foot prints, and all dirt/food debris, show so much more on the new countertops than on our old beige speckled laminate ones.  I don't think we are going to convince the cats not to walk on the counters any time soon, but at least the counters are super easy to clean.

Friday, April 12, 2013

A Little Bit of Subway Tile

Last Sunday we started tiling the backsplash with subway tile.  Since we are using a premixed tub of mastic to attach the tiles to the wall we don't have to do it all in one sitting.  This makes tiling much more enjoyable when you know you can just stop whenever you feel like it.  

First we laid down paper over the new counter to keep it clean and then we sanded the wall.  Supposedly the tiles have a hard time sticking to painted drywall but roughing up the surface helps.  The subway tiles we bought are self spacing but we used tile spacers to lift the first row up off the counter.  This line will get filled with caulk instead of grout.  

We have a tile scorer and snapper, but we discovered that it made pretty ugly cuts in the subway tile.  We did use a coping saw to cut the tiles to go around the outlets, but the outlet covers will hide those cuts so it doesn't matter what they look like.  We are going to finish all the tiling that doesn't require any cuts that will show and then either borrow or rent a wet saw to cut the remaining tiles.  We also had to buy longer screws for the outlet boxes so the plugs can sit over the top of the tile.  

It only took a couple of hours to do all of (except the tiles we still need to cut) the backsplash on the wall behind the sink.  

I was hoping to be able to do the tiling on the wall behind the stove some evening this week, but I managed to cut my finger really badly chopping onions on Sunday night.  I had to go to the emergency room and everything.  In the interest of keeping my wound clean and dry I think I'll need to wait a while before doing any more tiling.  

Monday, March 25, 2013

Kitchen 90% Done!

Since the last time I posted anything a lot has happened with the kitchen.  Every weekend and a good chunk of our weekday evenings for the last month and a half have been spent doing something related to the kitchen.  I thought after we finished painting the cabinets, we would get to take a break and appreciate our hard work before starting the next phase of the remodel.  Apparently I was mistaken.  Updating one thing in the kitchen makes all the other unupdated things look really bad in comparison.  And Nate wanted to start the tiling ASAP.  (Warning: This post has lots and lots of pictures)

We did the tiling over Presidents Day Weekend, which made sense because tiling really takes three full days.  

We used 1" hex tiles again, which we are fairly comfortable with after tiling the bathroom floor.  But this time we used black and white American Olean tiles which had to be special ordered at Lowes.  It took a full (9AM until 11PM) day just to lay out and cut the tiles to fit.  This was me very tired at the very end of the day.  We numbered all the sheets so we could easily find the correct sheet when tiling the next day.  

Because our subfloor was in good shape in the kitchen and we didn't want the tile to end up being higher than the wood floor in the living room, we used this thin skin underlayment stuff instead of cement board.  It is just a roll of plastic coated paper that you lay down with the stickiest glue ever.  When we bought it, we didn't realize that you had to also lay a very thin layer of mortar over the top of it and let it dry before you could start tiling.  Waiting for that stuff to dry took way longer than anticipated, but once it did, the tiling went fairly quickly.  

The next day was grouting and buffing.  

One thing that made it turn out much better than the bathroom tiling job was that we took off not just the baseboards, but the moldings around each of the three door ways.  Here Harris is inspecting the competed tiling before we put the moldings back on.  There were definitely a few places where the spacing between the tiles was either too wide or to narrow, but most of those are behind the fridge or behind the stove and won't be visible.  We also luckily caught a couple of places where the pattern of black and white tiles were messed up before the mortar completely set up.  If we hadn't fixed those places they would probably have driven us crazy for the next 20 years. 

We were extra excited that once we finished tiling we could move the former wardrobe/entertainment center we bought off craigslist and painted and turned into a pantry into the corner in the kitchen.  It was really really heavy and it took Nate and I an incredibly frustrating half a day to just move it with forearm forklifts from the garage into the backyard.   After I refused to move it any further we got our friend Travis to help Nate move it the rest of the way into the kitchen.  Once it was in, it was clear that it was too big for the space.  I think we didn't take into account the molding at the top or that with a surge protector (we wanted to move the toaster oven and coffee maker into it) it wouldn't be able to go all the way up against the wall.  It made our kitchen feel tiny.  So the next weekend we got another friend, Jade, to help move it back to the garage again where it is still sitting to this day taking up room waiting to be resold on craigslist. 

The next thing we did was get a new stove and venting microwave, but I don't have a picture of those until the final reveal pictures so you'll just have to imagine.  We got both from Lowes.  The delivery people hooked up the stove for us with no problems and we love it.  It has five burners and there is no space between the grates so you can just move pans back and forth between burners without having to lift them up.  Also it is way more powerful and the quick boil burner boils water in probably half the time of our old stove.  Our fridge and dishwasher, which are both pretty new and in good shape are black, but we wanted to get stainless steel for the stove and microwave.  We got ones that had significant portions of black on them along with the stainless steal so they don't seem completely mismatched from the fridge and dishwasher.  

The microwave wasn't as simple as the stove.  First we got one that we realized was going to hang down so far that we couldn't fit a large pot on the stove.  So we returned it and got a slightly smaller one.  Lowes was going to charge us $100 to install the microwave, which seemed crazy for a less than $200 microwave.  So we decided to install it ourselves.  The instillation seemed like it went fairly smoothly, until a couple days later when we concluded that the microwave just wasn't venting properly.  So we had to take it down and fiddle with the tube that connects the top of the microwave to the exterior vent.  It was blocking the flap on the top of the microwave vent from opening.  After fixing that, it works great.  

We ordered grey silestone quartz countertops from Home Depot.  They were having a 10% off sale and our kitchen doesn't have a ton of countertop space so they ended up not being all that expensive.  We were originally going to have the Home Depot people remove our old sink and countertops, but for some reason they were going to have to do a lead paint test that would cost $400 before removing our countertops because our house was built before 1975.  But if we removed them ourselves we wouldn't have to pay that fee or the fee to have the countertops removed and hauled away.  

We had a plumber unhook the plumbing and then we just took out the sink and the countertops.  There were just a few screws attaching the countertops to the  cabinets and after removing them, they came off really easily.  We listed the sink and countertops as free on craigslist and within 15 min. someone came and picked up the sink and in a couple hours someone got the countertops.  Amazing! I like alley furniture and general free stuff more than probably the next guy, but what someone is going to do with our old formica countertops is beyond me. 

The next day they came and installed the countertops.  I love them.  We got the undermount sink on for only about $100.  I love being able to just wipe stuff into the sink. 

The plumber came back the next day to hook up our new fancy faucet (also from  There was actually a manufacturer's defect with the faucet so it was leaking from the top of the sprayer, but the plumber fixed it with just an extra washer.  

Here are some final reveal pictures of the kitchen in all its glory.  

Including the stove and microwave.

Also, to replace the giant cabinet, we bought a hoosier cabinet off ebay.  We painted it the same white as our cabinets, which probably ruined its value. But, the finish wasn't in great shape and now I think it looks great with our kitchen.  It doesn't hold quite as much as that other cabinet would have, but we were still able to get the coffee maker behind the tambour doors and will be able to fit a toaster oven if we get a smaller one.  We rearranged everything in our kitchen cabinets so most of our food is in the hoosier cabinet and we can now fit some of our larger kitchen appliances in the kitchen cabinets instead of in a crate in the dining room.  

The only thing we have left to do in the kitchen is install the subway tile backsplash and do some touch up painting.  We haven't ever done wall tile before so I'm sure that will pose its own problems, but it is nice to be in the home stretch on this kitchen. 

I know this post is already super long, but I wanted to show some pictures of a few other things that we have changed in our house while we were updating the kitchen.  


We replaced the ceiling fan in the dining room with this enamel warehouse pendant lamp from


We have lots of extra room for artwork in the front hallway now that the extra door to my office and the window into the kitchen are drywalled up. 

And we finally got a real door on the now only doorway to my office.  Also we replaced the brass lever door handles with these white porcelain door knobs on the doors to my office the two bedrooms and the bathroom.  Now Harris can't open the doors anymore.  Unfortunately he can still open the exterior door to the back yard and will let himself and Flynn our if we don't keep it locked.   That is a project for another day.