Sunday, September 27, 2009

The end of an obsession

I'm done with picking paint colors!

When I finally settled on the perfect neutral, I may have done a little happy dance and clapped my hands. I'm so happy to be done with this huge step. It took a lot of searching and help, but I finally found a neutral that meets all my criteria.

1. It can't be too pink or too green. Preferably it should be more gray than tan.
2. It has to look great with every color in the house.
3. It has to look okay with our current couch, and be a good color to match future furniture with.
4. It needs to have enough shade options for the tonal look I want in our house.

I found a few colors that fit the bill, but the final winner is the one that's gray enough to make me happy, and light enough to brighten up our dark downstairs.

The winner is....

Benjamin Moore Seattle Mist!

This will be the main color in the living room. In the dining room, we'll either paint the entire wall River Gorge Gray, which is two shades darker, or just use the darker shade under the chair rail. The fireplace surround will be four shades darker than Seattle Mist, which is Roosevelt Taupe (I actually found a scrap of paper in my purse with BM Roosevelt Taupe written on it, so apparently I had considered this color before). The stairwell and upstairs hall will be a shade lighter, which is called Rodeo.

We also firmed up the color for the kitchen, laundry room, and sunroom. The kitchen will be Benjamin Moore Fresh Olive, and the laundry room will be one shade darker, which is G.I. Green. The sunroom will be a shade or two lighter, either Timothy Straw or Mellowed Ivory. We also chose a true gray, Sherwin Williams Stamped Concrete for Brett's office.

Here's my handy little manila folder. From now on, instead of taking four strips to the guy behind the counter and asking him for help, I can confidently put my little folder on the counter and say "that one, please."

And here's a drawing of our home's floor plan with the colors of each room. I love how it flows as a whole, yet each room has it's own definitive feeling.

Now we just have to pick a white. I'm sure it will be just as easy as this entire process has been so far, right?

Weekend Projects

Now that I'm officially cleared for manual labor, we've wasted no time in tackling some projects that we've been putting off. Like most weekends in our house, we didn't do anything huge. But a few small changes can make a sizable impact.

First, the back fence.

The back section of our fence is supposedly provided and maintained by the movie theater that owns the land behind our house. Yeah, not so much. This fence was a big point of contention during our negotiations for the house. We wanted it fixed. They stuck a few boards in the ground and called it good (seriously, not even nailed up), and eventually they just gave us $500 cash at closing to pay for the repairs. Well, they also left a few fence boards in the storage room! So Saturday morning we filled in the holes and tightened up all the screws along the back. The wood back there is in really bad shape, so we'll have to replace the entire back section. Fortunately for us, we priced it out and materials will only be about $300-400, so with a few days of hard work we'll come out ahead on our deal.

Just about the time we reached the cypress tree, Brett got into a fire ant bed. He was determined to finish up since we were so close. But by the time he got done he was really hurting. On his way home (he drove the truck around to the movie theater to work from the other side), he stopped at a pharmacy to get some Benadryl, and he was out of commission for most of the day.

That night, we went to Lowe's to price the fence materials and just to look around. We looked at bathroom vanities for the powder room, and vanity tops for our bathroom, and a few other things. Just browsing got us so excited to start on some more rooms! We also got a new shelving unit for the carport storage room, so next week's project will be to clean out and organize it.

While we were out, Brett surprised me by driving up to Target, and telling me to go get the lamps I've been wanting for our bedroom. I'm so happy to have a lamp for my side now, and the room just looks that much more finished.

This morning, I surprised Brett by cutting and weed eating before he got home from work. But it was the first real work I'd done in 6 weeks (seriously people, I could not even lift my cat!), and it really took it out of me! After a long rest, I set to work on a project I've been meaning to tackle--my garage sale lamp.

It was a steal at $2. And I loved the color and the subtle crackle finish. I bought it before we were even in our house. I had no idea what kind of colors I was going to choose. Little did I know I would fall in love with a color almost exactly the same as this lamp base. I've painted my bedroom that color, and I plan on painting the guest room (home to this lamp) a lighter shade.

It came without a shade, or even a harp. Since we got new lamps this weekend, I used the harp and shade from our old lamp. The shade is a touch too small, but it will have to do until we tackle the guest room. I'd like a larger white drum shade to bring a little modern to its traditional shape.

The only thing I didn't love about this lamp was the gold and black base. So I figured I'd use some leftover white spraypaint to give it a new look. So I taped off the ceramic part and took it outside with my painting towel.

I also needed to paint the little nickel piece that holds the shad onto the harp. But I had trouble figuring out how to paint it without holding it in my hand. Until I saw the metal skewers we never use. And I stuck it in the top of the lamp to dry. Perfect!

Getting a pretty ceramic lamp for our guest bedroom, perfect with our color scheme, for $2? I'm pretty happy with that!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Getting Ready For Fall

I've never been into fall decor. I live in a place where the leaves never turn color, and the fall temperature is about a brisk 75 degrees. But when I saw the October issue of Family Circle, I glanced at the fall decor section anyway. They had some very cute ideas for decorating pumpkins, including an owl using sunflower seeds for feathers. But the scene that took my breath away was the very elegant vignette with the smoky blue pumpkin. I've never seen one that color before, but I knew if I ever had the opportunity to get one, I would base any fall decor around it.

Today, after spending over an hour just getting to the Mississippi River Bridge (normally 15ish minutes) we decided to stop at Whole Foods to take our minds off the traffic for a few minutes. And there, sitting in front of the store, were the blue gray pumpkins. They had a great pumpkin selection, even better than last year. In addition to the grays, they had the white ghost pumpkins, the orange fairytale pumpkins, a great assortment of colors (light yellow to deep red-orange) in Cinderella pumpkins, plus a great assortment of green and white gourds.

I snagged a beautiful light smoky blue one, along with a green gourd with warts all over it and a great stem. I put up the bowl of potpourri that normally sits on our dining room table, and started to work on my fall centerpiece. Along with the pumpkins, I added some of my owl collection and a couple of spiced pear candles. It's not the typical fall colors, but I think it fits our style in a very climate appropriate "fall" way.

It's Official

I'm obsessing.

I'm obsessing over something that will not affect my life for a long ass time. I'm obsessing over something that would take my husband approximately 15 seconds to decide on, if I let him. But I won't. Because I secretly enjoy obsessing.

I want to figure out what color I'm going to paint my living room walls.

But wait. The sunroom is next on our list, right? It is. But the sunroom has to coordinate with the laundry room, which has to coordinate with the kitchen, which has to coordinate with both the living room and dining room. Not to mention the upstairs hallway and staircase will be painted the same color so every single room in our house will be affected by this color choice.

And I'm paralyzed by the thought of it. And considering repainting the upstairs bathroom and the trim in our bedroom if they don't go with whatever color I finally pick because I am certifiably insane. The problem is this:

I love love love gray. Blue-gray, green-gray, purple-gray, and best of all, greige (cue sound of angels singing). It is my new favorite color, taking the place of green, which has assumed the position since I was old enough to know my colors. I took the plunge and painted our bedroom a beautiful blue gray called "Oyster Bay." I already have plans for shades of that same color in the guest room/future nursery, our bathroom, and inside the kitchen cabinets. The plan for the other non-neutral spaces is yellow-greens and a deep purple for the powder room. We're still undecided on Brett's office, but he must be smoking the same thing I am because I think he wants it gray.

So my instinct is to go towards a light gray or greige for out living room, and a coordinating bronze shade for the fireplace and dining room. But that would be a whole heck of a lot of cool colors. Green, blue, purple, gray. We need to move to the other side of the color wheel here!

Not to mention my not-so-hot relationship with beige and tan. I don't like them. They're not colors. Every single beige or tan that I choose is actually mostly green (like Sherwin Williams Burlap-check it out, it's gorgeous!. But these colors are not looking so hot with the other colors I desperately want (or have already put) on my walls. So I'm looking at those beiges that everyone else seems to love. Kilim Beige, Universal Khaki, Latte, Barharbor Beige (all Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore colors if you need info). But they're all just okay. I don't want to paint the largest space in our house a color that I don't absolutely love.


I need a happy medium. I'm looking for a taupe that I can say I love, that will look great in our house and that will possibly warm up the space. I'm going to a paint store on the way home from work to get some Benjamin Moore samples (don't tel my husband!). I may actually turn my back on Sherwin Williams for this one, but I'll go fighting if I have to. These are the colors I'm in love with right now. We'll see how I feel the next time I actually paint something.

Benjamin Moor Smoky Taupe, from the living room of Pewter & Sage. This is the front runner, depending on how it looks in our light.

Sherwin Williams Bunglehouse Gray. This is one of the historical colors, so it doesn't have a lighter version. We would likely have them lighten it up a bit when they mixed it.

Sherwin Williams Softer Tan. It's neutral and I don't hate it.

Sherwin Williams Favorite Tan. Looks great with Oyster Bay and I love the darker version, High Tea, which we would probably use in the dining room.

What do you think? Gray? Beige? Greige? Screw it all and go live on the beach in Hawaii?

Monday, September 21, 2009


When you hear the word collection, what do you think of?

Me? I think of curio cabinets filled with Precious Moments or commemorative plates. Rooms filled with shelves and shelves of dusty matchbox cars and legos. When Brett and I travel, we always pick up a refrigerator magnet to commemorate that trip. I don't mind the clutter on the fridge, and it's a nice way to keep souvenirs from taking over our house.

Other than that, I never thought I'd have a collection of anything. When we moved, we purged a lot of our knick-knacks, and decided we would only buy things for the house that we LOVE. Not sort of like, not "it'll do." We would rather have a sort of empty house than one filled with things we don't love.

One of those things that I love? Owls. I know, they're in right now. But I love them. And I found out this weekend that my grandmother collected owls too, back in their first heyday. And thanks to that first heyday and scouring some garage sales, the number of owls in my house grew from two to seven. And I think I officially have a collection on my hands.

For $3 total, I scored two sets of owl salt and pepper shakers and one metal figurine. I split up the sets and set up a flock on my mantel, and a flock out in the sunroom. I think each one is a nice mix of vintage and modern, which will hopefully fit in with the rest of our house once we're done. Hopefully we won't end up with a room filled with owls, but I think it looks pretty darn great for now.

What do you think?

As a side note, my husband somehow solved the plumbing issue. The knobs are brushed nickel, and they work. And that's all I care about for now.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

I hate plumbers

They "don't make" knobs to fit Kohler piping and fitting in brushed nickel. They "don't make" the most basic necessary item for a shower in the most popular finish for one of the most popular plumbing brand. Are you freaking kidding me?

I am so pissed right now.

Giving Up and Letting Go

Last night, when I got home, Brett was working in our shower again. The cold knob was slipping, and the hot knob was so royally screwed up that it wouldn't turn off completely. I can't really say how I felt when I saw him sitting there with the toolbox. Not great, that's for sure. I had cleaning the bathroom on the agenda last night, so I set about to do that while he was working. He eventually got it tight enough to turn off, and went to calm down a bit. Then, I cleaned the shower, and i turned on the cold water to rinse it out. And when I turned the water off, the knob slipped. I wanted to sit down in my non-functional shower and cry. He came in, he replaced the square thing for what seems to be the millionth time (and which I'm told is actually the fourth) and we both told ourselves we wouldn't put as much force on the knobs.

Then, at 3:30 am, I heard Brett get out the tool box. No, he wasn't inspired in the middle of the night, that's when that crazy person goes to work. He'd washed his hair, and he couldn't get the water to turn off. Again. In frustration, and needing to get to work,he just took the knob off and shut it off with the fliers. And when I got up, bleary eyed to see what was wrong, I made a decision.

We're not plumbers.

Sure, we're not painters, or decorators, or landscapers, and we've done all of those things. We're not tilers or carpenters or builders, and we plan to do those things as well. But we are not, nor will we ever be plumbers. We have done everything we can think of, short of replacing the stems. And we don't have the tools we need. Buying the special tools and buying the parts we need would cover the cost of a professional, so we're taking it out of our hands.

I called a plumber this morning and he's hopefully at my house as we speak, fixing my shower. And it sucks, because in one month we've had our house treated for termites, replaced the battery in my car, called a plumber twice and an air conditioning repairman once. That's over a thousand dollars in unforeseen expenses, almost all of them being house related. If we were renting, we wouldn't have paid for any of it.

But at the end of the day, I go home to a home that I own (well, that I own a tiny percentage of). A home that I can paint and decorate any way I see fit. A home that holds my husband and our three wonderful cats, all of our favorite things, and that will eventually hold babies and then children.

And today, when I get home from work, I hope I'm greeted by a smiling husband, three happy kitties, my lovely in-laws (who will be arriving for the weekend any minute) and a shower that I can turn on when I'm dirty, and turn off when I'm clean.

I don't think that's too much to ask for.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Adventures in Plumbing

So now that the touch up painting, scratch that, ALL THE PAINTING is done in our Master Bedroom, I am in a much better general mood. So I feel that I can write about our not yet complete foray into do it yourself plumbing without banging my head against my laptop screen.

When we bought our house, the master bathroom had a mix of chrome (shower and skin fixtures) and brushed nickel (doorknob and all accessories). I'm not a fan of chrome, so we decided we would slowly change out the rest of the fixtures. It didn't take us long the change out the showerhead and drain hardware. That job was pretty much a breeze. At least, I think it was. My involvement was pretty much non-existent. But I do know it didn't take Brett very long, and there was little to no cursing coming from the bathroom.

So last weekend, my husband started itching to finish up the shower. A small leak behind the knobs was annoying him, and he wanted to get that taken care of. He figured we could replace all of the fixtures while we were at it.

The day started with a call to our home warranty company for a plumber. We expected not to hear from anyone until Tuesday with the holiday weekend, but less than an hour later, a very sweet plumber was showing us how to replace the seals and o-rings in the stems to stop those little leaks. We were glad to pay the $60 fee to stop the leak and gain some basic plumbing knowledge. After our great experience with him, our confidence was high. I don't know why a PLUMBER being able to fix our leak easily made us think we had mad plumbing skills, but it did.

We made a trip to our favorite store, Lowe's, for some supplies. We got three escutcheons (which I still can't say properly, and which I don't totally believe is a word), three knobs, and a new faucet. Nothing fancy, just the basic brushed nickel style to match the rest of the bathroom. Ninety dollars later, we started on the transformation. Then we hit our first major hurdle. We got the first knob off, and the screwed thingy that goes over the stem wouldn't fit our new knob. And the one that came with our new knob wouldn't screw into the stem itself. How awesome.

Back to Lowe's we went. After talking to no less than four plumbing associates, we were sent to a specialty plumbing store. When we arrived after a drive through lunch, the guy behind the counter was a total ass. He ended up making us custom screw thingies (hey, maybe he was so rude and dismissive because we didn't know the actual names of anything) and three custom little square thingies for the knobs to attach to. We came back an hour later, and dropped $50 more for the custom pieces.

Then we got home, and the custom stuff worked. We attached the first knob with no problems. Success! Then we took off the middle knob. Crap. It looked way different than the other one underneath. This is when the curse words started flowing. The square thing on the end of the stem was metal and significantly smaller than the others. And getting it off proved to be a bit of a challenge. It felt like it screwed off, so Brett attacked it with pliers, a wrench, and every tool in our arsenal before giving up. Then I hopped in the tub, pulled straight on it with the pliers, and it popped off. Let's just say that was not the happiest Brett has ever been, but I SWEAR HE TOTALLY LOOSENED IT. I'm not just saying that. I am a weakling and there's no way I could have pulled that thing off without all his effort.

Then, we discovered another problem with the middle knob. The screw we'd gotten out of there broke on the way out, so there was a piece of screw stuck in there, taunting us. Brett drilled it out as best he could, and we took a break from the cursed middle know and focused on the right. When we took it off, it was clear that it was the same setup as the first knob. Finally we caught a break! But wait. It stuck our from the wall much further than the first knob too. So with the extenders the butt from the plumbing store made us, it stuck out too far. Without the extender, it was closer to the wall than the knob on the left. This is about when Brett got frustrated and left to take a break.

Since he'd been doing approximately 99.5% of the work up until this point, I stayed and tried every screw in our pickle jar, every possible combination of fittings, and basically everything I could think of. I eventually found something that worked. I had three functioning knobs, one slightly off kilter, and a faucet. And that, I considered a huge victory. After taking a few showers, we discovered that one of the knobs was pretty loose, and there was a perma-leak in the faucet. So yesterday, we made one final (ha!) trip to Lowe's for extra square thingies and screws, and Brett tightened everything up for one hopefully final time. It seems to be working for now.

As for me, I'm just so happy that the finishes finally match. And it will be a while before I attempt any plumbing projects again.

Here are the results. Worth it? Maybe. I'm not sure I know yet.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Bedding changes

Today, I got confirmation from Brett that it was time for some shopping. We knew that as hot as blue gray is right now, we need to strike while the iron is hot, and replace our bedding. He got the ball rolling with the Tomas O'Brien Pewter Blossoms duvet cover for my birthday. Since then, we've been using our old blue quilt, and covering up the hole I burned in it, thanks to our vacuum cleaner and some poor planning on my part. The blue, while pretty, didn't really match the walls or the new duvet cover. So it was just a matter of time until it needed to be replaced.

So this morning I drove all over creation, and got some shams to match the duvet cover, a new quilt plus some shams to match it, and throw pillows. The room just looks so much more adult and put together. Awwww, we're growing up!

I set out with a very tonal look in mind. I found a quilt that would work with that look by Nicole Miller. It was really the perfect color, but it had :gulp: scalloped edges. That's just not going to work in our bedroom. I'd always thought of Nicole Miller as very modern, so I don't know what they were thinking. Then, I found a beautiful, slightly shimmery taupe in a great geometric pattern. It looked great with the paint swatch and the Pewter Blossom sham, but they didn't have a king! So I drove across town to another location and found it! I also picked up some toss pillows, including the very sparkly, way too expensive one in the front. I do love it though. It's so shiiiiiiiny!

Even that cats love it!

Along the way, I also picked up a little treat for Brett. He loves the look of natural wood, and I'm always getting onto him about throwing his keys and stuff all over the dresser. So I picked him up this natural wood tray. Now he'll always know where his keys are, and he won't have to listen to me nagging about them scratching the furniture!

Now, I'm on the hunt for lamps and art. There are front runners of course, but at $60 apiece for the lamps, and over $200 to frame the art, we're on the lookout for better or cheaper (or both?) options.

Weekend Update

Labor Day Weekend is almost over. And let's be honest, the rest of my day is already booked with couch surfing and buffalo wing consuming, so I feel I can accurately talk about the progress I made this weekend.

The master bedroom is not done. Yeah, I suck. BUT I MADE MAJOR PROGRESS. I swear. I touched up all of the paint around the baseboards and door frames. I tried to do it around the crown, but lets just say it's not quite time for me to be on a ladder just yet. Brett will finish that up this week, I hope. Thanks to some retail therapy this morning, we now have bedding that actually matches. We have shams! Of two different kinds! And we have throw pillows! Pictures will come in a separate post later. So I still have to get lamps, put in a new ceiling fan, and buy art for above the bed. I've already picked out all of this stuff. It's just a matter of biting the bullet and spending the approximately $500 that it's going to take to get it done (and convincing my husband that it's worth it). Especially since almost 50% of that money is going towards a freaking frame for the art. Beautiful print: $50. Frame for said print: 200 freaking dollars! Framing costs are out of control.

We also decided on a whim to deal with our shower. Our first foray into DIY plumbing was a little overwhelming. More on that later, once pictures are taken and I've calmed down a little bit. I don't want to fill the page with fifty f-bombs in case my mother in law reads this. Hi Jan!

In non-home related activities, I cleaned out my car (you can get up off the floor family members. Brett didn't even help, except for carrying the vacuum outside for me!), watched the entire first season of Chuck (great show! I highly recommend it), enjoyed a lunch out with my husband, made my mom's famous Chicken Dorito Casserole, and bought my mother in law's birthday present, which I am totally jealous of.

We'll see how long it takes me to get my bedroom what I call "Rate My Space" done. Anyone familiar with the site knows what I'm talking about, but people are brutal over there, and I long to get a 5 star rating. Sigh. Someday...

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

I'm posting it here

Because maybe then I'll actually do it.

This weekend I will FINISH the master bedroom painting. And I will try my dead level darnedest to convince my husband to let me spend the money to get it to a point I can call done. I figure I'm about $300 away from that, but I may be in denial about how much I need to spend to replace the silk quilt I burned a giant hole in with the vacuum cleaner.

The last few weeks have seen little to no improvement activities in the Clueless household. I was getting sick every day up until the day of my surgery two weeks ago. And then they reached in my belly and pulled out my gallbladder and made the sickness go away. I'm in awe of how quickly this surgery turned things around for me and my digestive system.

But the surgery itself? Hit me like eight tons of bricks. If you're having any surgery, yes, even laproscopic, DON'T LISTEN TO THE CRAZY PEOPLE. There will be loonies who tell you they could have gone back to work the same day, and they rode a bike around the block the day after. THOSE PEOPLE SHOULD BE CHECKED INTO A MENTAL INSTITUTION FOR THEIR OWN SAKE. I couldn't get up to go to the bathroom without help until day three. And I just came back to work Monday. It still hurts to cough, laugh, or hiccup, but I'm on Advil around the clock, and I'm enjoying my new ability to lay on my stomach after two weeks of being trapped on my back. The next milestone is being able to button my pants once my last incision heals! Most of all, I'm enjoying my ability to eat normal foods without getting sick.

We've made plans to start Operation: Get Fit once I exit "recovery." I'll post a bit about that I'm sure, but hopefully once I'm feeling better physically, we'll get back into the swing of things in the house. Next on our list is rebuilding the sunroom. That's been pushed back a little further since our neighbors found termites in their flower bed last week, and we dropped $500 on a preventative treatment (see, we have done something house related!).

I'm excited for the sunroom redo. We're keeping the existing windows, but we're going to reframe everything, get a new door, paint the siding a soft ivory-green (the walls used to be exterior walls, and they're the old wood siding in a blue gray), put beadboard on the ceiling and get a new ceiling fan. I would love to paint the floors, or even put down tile or brick pavers, but my husband, bless him, loves the (badly) painted brick-patterned floor. Once all that's done, I'd like to get a new futon cover, paint the futon arms and a nightstand we've recently moved out there (off white, most likely), give the rug a good cleaning, and paint the patio chairs a fun color. Then I'll just need bird themed accessories, pillows, and fun stuff like that and the sunroom will be a great haven for us and not just the room between us and the carport!

Here's what we're working with now:

Cute, right? It's really not bad, but there are some water issues with the framing under the windows. And we'd really prefer it if the room was waterproof.

Here is my inspiration board for the sunroom. I already have the adorable owl lantern (Pier One) and I just bought a dark gray Owl Piggy bank (Target) that is in our living room for now, but will eventually live out it's days in the sunroom. We also need storage for our dirty shoes, cat food and litter, and various other stuff we don't really want in the main part of the house.