Sep 28, 2011

Our next project: Building a laundry room

Hey, all! Hope you're having a great week so far! Can you believe it's almost October? Where did September go anyways?

So, I have mentioned before that we are planning to move our washer and dryer from our entryway to the basement. It's something we've wanted to do from the day we moved in, but since it involves some plumbing and neither one of us knows anything about that, we've kind of procrastinated it. But, with another winter headed our way sooner than we'd like (see above, re: it's almost October!), the image of wet, snowy boots and gloves piling up in our tiny entryway has us again craving extra space -- and wanting to boot the W&D to the basement.

I know, it seems kinda crazy -- why make it so we have to cart laundry down two flights of stairs instead of one? Maybe some visuals will help...

Here's a shot of our entryway, looking from the kitchen. You can see it's a tight space. The door you see is our side entry that guests use, while a door not seen on the right is the garage entrance we use, and a pair of doors on the left hide the W&D. We also have a tiny closet around that corner where the cubbies are. Here's a better shot...

The door on the right is the closet, while the one of the left is the garage entry. You can start to see our dilemma here. We walk in through the garage, and when you're standing there, you can barely open that closet to put your stuff in, and since we're lazy busy our shoes just end up kicked off and left in the way. And in the winter, snowy boots just get left out here to dry, since the closet is too small to accommodate them, which means we're always stepping over them and getting our socks wet. Is there anything worse?

A much better option would be to use the twice-as-big closet where the W&D are. These doors are directly across from the garage entrance, and there's more room here to wiggle out of your shoes. And look at all that storage space!

And of course, another obvious reason to relocate these puppies is the inevitable laundry back-up. You know what I mean. We don't even have kids, and already on laundry day (or even not on laundry day...) our entryway starts to look like this...

Like our ghetto electrical- and packing-taped laundry basket, 'cause we're too cheap to buy another one??

See the shoes in the mix? Please don't judge me...

Can you grasp the situation now? This is not what we want guests to see when they show up. Plus it's just dang annoying to step over this all the time, and no fun to look at, and I'm sure our laundry piles will grow once we have kids. Yes, we could pile it all on top of the machines and close the doors, but then stuff would be falling behind the machines, and plus we leave our washer door open to dry before we close it to avoid a mildewy situation, which means the closet doors stay open too.

So, you hopefully can see why we're positively giddy at the thought of relegating this disaster to the basement, where we'll have lots more space for hoarding storing laundry, laundry baskets and the like. And we'll also gain much-needed closet space in the entry.

I'm not going to go into the details of the plumbing right now, mostly since that's what the hubs has been looking into, so I don't know much about it. For now, I'll just say we need to install a pump in the basement to help pump the water from the washer up to our discharge pipe and into our septic system, which will run us about $300. We'll also need to put in the valves, plugs, etc. that are currently in the entryway:

We'll be leaving these in the entryway, in case we sell someday and the next owners are really jazzed about first-floor laundry (I'm already trying to think of a cute way to disguise these once this becomes a closet...).

And while we could just do the plumbing and plop the W&D in the basement, we decided we'd like to make it more of a laundry room -- separated from the rest of the basement, with lots of storage and places to hang our drying clothes, since we hang a lot instead of drying it. So we'll be putting up some walls, installing flooring and picking out some storage options. The room will also include a utility sink (another reason we need the pump), for the hubs' brewing operation -- in case you don't recall or are new here, the hubs makes his own beer, with most of it happening in the basement, and the sink is a big part of the process. This way, he won't have to cart all of the stuff up to the kitchen and make a mess, yay!

And here's the corner where the laundry room will go. And yes, it does still look like that. You can see our work is cut out for us.

It's not a great pic, but the W&D will be up against that concrete wall on the left -- you can just see at the very top the bottom of the white discharge pipe we'll be hooking into. We'll build walls from that wall to the pole and beyond to separate it from the shelving and storage you see in the center and right of the picture. It'll be about a 12' x 12' space.

Ready for some inspiration pics? I know you are!

I love the counter over the W&D, and how it includes a sink as well (although ours will be an ugly utility sink, not a pretty sink). The cabinets above are just what we need too.

Here's another one that includes a sink. I love the cabinets' built-in look and that bar to hang things...genius!

Source: via Mindy on Pinterest

Also really digging this pedestal to stow laundry baskets...we may be making one of these!

I'm really liking this one -- and it has a utility sink, so it's a better representation of what we'll end up with. I'm loving the vertical storage on the side and cabinets along the top. We've got space for vertical storage on one side too, so we'll probably do something very similar to this. And that wall color? Gorgeous!

Not sure what colors we'll end up doing down there, but we did start to look at flooring, to begin pricing it out and seeing how much this project will cost us. The floor has to be somewhat durable, since it will get wet, more than likely, but we're not looking to drop a big chunk of change, so affordable is also a must (oh, and though utility is more important here, it really does need to be easy on the eyes). 

After some research and a chat with the Home Depot flooring guy, we're leaning toward resilient vinyl plank flooring by TrafficMaster. It's pretty durable, easy to install and can go over concrete, and it's only $1.79 a square foot. We thought about laminate flooring, but since there's a possibility of water, the guy said we'd risk water getting between the cracks and warping the boards. The laminate was only 70 cents a square foot, but since it also requires a vapor barrier that was about the same price, it's not really a better deal in the long run.

After reading reviews that said the dark colors show up lots of lint and dust, and since the laundry room won't have a window, we've decided to go light with the flooring. We're liking the blonde maple:

and the bamboo:

So that's our laundry room plan. First up will likely be building the walls and then putting down the floor before moving the W&D and hooking them up. Oh -- actually, first up is cleaning up the basement so we actually have room for the stupid things. And we'll also be figuring out how to do plumbing. I'm kind of scared for that one... Since we're trying to do this on the cheap, we're also planning to scour our local ReStore for some cabinets, countertops and other storage solutions we can find. I love a good thifty hunt!

Our pipe dream for the entryway is to knock out that tiny closet and open the space up a bit, but who knows when we'll get to that one (since it will include relocating baseboard heating, outlets and light switches, and probably putting in new flooring since there will be gaps in the tile floor from where the walls used to be). For now, we're focusing on getting the laundry room done enough to at least move the W&D before wintertime -- which will be here before we know it....

Wish us luck! You know how good we are with finishing projects (remember that office redo?? neither :) ). 

P.S. I'm on Pinterest now! I'm still figuring out how to use it, but come and follow me and watch me muddle through... :)

Sep 26, 2011

Apple picking {Maine Monday 6}

Happy Monday, all! I hope you had a great weekend like we did :)

It's the last Monday of the month, which means it's time for this month's Maine Monday! This time, I'm featuring that quintessential fall activity


Few seasonal activities top apple picking, I think: the crisp air, the happy little trees, the smell of fruit ripening in the sun and warm pastries out of the oven. We go to a couple different places around where we live, and we always make sure to head out early, because they usually get packed by 10 a.m. on a gorgeous fall day.

I'll pick any kind of apple, but my favorite are macs -- I love a tart, crunchy apple. I could eat them forever! Cortlands and empires are also yummy. Usually we pick a bunch of whatever is ready that day.

I just love walking through the orchards, enjoying the sun, the cool breeze and the hunt for the perfect apple. I usually find one I want that's way up high -- luckily the hubs is tall!

I also love pulling around that little cart...makes me feel like a kid again.

Oh, and of course -- the second best (or is it the best?) thing about going to the orchard are the treats -- the cider donuts, the mulled apple cider, the apple dumplings with caramel and ice cream. No photos of these, because I gobble them up!

I like to buy a few gourds too, for fall decorating. I've been working on some of that this weekend, but nothing is ready to show yet. Hopefully soon -- stay tuned!

And there are hay rides too. We don't usually partake, but maybe when we have kids...

We've been once this year already, but I can't wait to go again. But we have to eat all the apples we picked before we get more.

We usually make at least one apple pie with our bounty, and we've made applesauce before too. This year, we tried making an apple tarte tatin -- a French pastry where carmelized sugar is poured into a pie dish, topped with apples and then a pie crust. When it comes out of the oven, you flip it over. It won't win any beauty awards, but it sure was tasty!

Don't mind the wine cork in the background... :)

Do you go apple picking in the fall? What do you like to make with them?

Have a great Monday!

Check out past Maine Mondays here.

Sep 20, 2011

Checking in: 2011 home goals

Hello all! I hope your week is going well so far. It's really starting to feel like fall here -- the temps are down to the 30s at night (brr!) and the house is feeling a little chilly in the upper 50s/low 60s in the mornings, until the sun warms things up. But I will not turn on the heat yet. We'll see how long I can hold out :)

The year is three-quarters of the way over, and I thought it would be a good time to check in and see how I'm doing on those 2011 home goals I laid out waaaay back in February. I have to admit, I was feeling a little ambitious back then. I blame it on being a new homeowner and not really knowing enough about how long this stuff takes...and how short my attention span is :)

Goal #1: Paint, paint, paint!

So, for some insane reason, I believed that we would repaint all the rooms in our house in our first year of owning it. After actually painting a few rooms, it quickly became clear that yeahhhh...that ain't happening. We did paint the kitchen, the "lounge" (the awkward room next to the kitchen), the entryway, the downstairs hallway, the living room, the office (twice!) and the master bedroom.

The living room, post-paint

I really wanted to get those yellow bathrooms taken care of, but that's fallen pretty low on our priority list at this point. And while the two extra bedrooms also need a paint job, the one we use as a guest room is a decent enough color that I don't feel a rush to paint it, and the second spare bedroom will probably become a nursery one day, so since it's rarely used, it just makes sense to wait and paint it when we're ready to use it. And we can't agree on whether we like or dislike our dark red dining room, so that will stay for now.

I'm still feeling happy with what we accomplished for painting, and during the colder months while we're indoors, maybe we'll get the urge to paint a bathroom or two. But if we don't get to it, I won't feel too bad.

Goal #2: Put up photo ledges in the dining room.

Hasn't happened. I'm still thinking I'd like to do it, but since we're on the fence about painting that room, I'm waiting to see what we decide before putting up shelves.

The shelves would go where that poster is

Goal #3: Put in a new walkway.

Won't happen this year. As I mentioned in the spring, we decided not to tackle this project this year, since it happened to fall right around other big-ticket purchases, like our anniversary trip to Quebec and the hubs' motorcycle. We are definitely doing it next spring, though, because we hate that crushed gravel.

Your end is near, crushed gravel!

Goal #4: Make cute windowboxes for the shed.

Done! Although I didn't make them -- I painted ones I bought at Home Depot. I think they really add a lot to the shed, and it didn't take much time or money.

I am sad to report, however, that the mums have died, though the marigolds are going strong. The rain runs off the shed right into those boxes, and I think they are getting too wet -- at some point we'll install something on the roof to direct the rain away from them.

Goal #5: Buy furniture.

Mostly not done. We did buy a kitchen table that we (and by we, I mean the hubs) finished, as well as a desk for our office. And we scored some free-from-the-Dumpster bookshelves we still need to refinish.  I didn't realize how much time it takes to really decide a room's look and feel. Rather than rush into buying something as a placeholder, we're holding out until we know for sure what we want.

The desk

We do plan to buy living room couches/chairs/whatever we end up with this year. I still want to make a seating area in our little lounge, and set up a reading nook in our master bedroom. One of those may happen before Dec. 31, but it will depend on how good I am at saving my pennies.

Okay, so, not so hot on the home goals for 2011 -- but I'm going to go easy on myself, since it was my first year as a homeowner. Plus, we did accomplish things we hadn't planned on, like redoing the entryway and building shelves for the basement. And we are in the midst of planning a laundry room in our basement, which means moving our washer and dryer from the entryway closet, so we'll be putting up walls, installing flooring and doing some painting downstairs, as well as turning the laundry closet in the entryway into a bona fide closet for jackets and shoes.

And we'll still be working on our sadly neglected office redo. The next step is major organization, and it was just too hard to stay inside on gorgeous summer weekends. Once the weather turns cooler, we'll hunker down and tackle that office project once and for all (I hope!).

While we didn't get everything done we set out to, I'm really happy we took the time this year to enjoy our new house instead of tackling project after project. We relaxed, we entertained, we cooked, we planned, and we appreciated what we have. And that's also important for turning a house into a home.

Did you make home goals this year? How are you doing on them?

Sep 15, 2011

Pillows in a few fall colors

I spotted these pillows at Target the other day, and it was love at first sight. 


I had a feeling the man of the house wouldn't be a fan. I gotta admit, we don't do a lot of floral around here, and they aren't my usual style (and I knew they wouldn't be his). I texted him a photo: "Do you hate this?" 

I waited. There were only two pillows left. I gave him about two 10 minutes, and when I hadn't heard back, I snatched them up. I could always return them if he vetoed them, I reasoned.

After I bought them, I got his response: "Um...yes?" (I like how he qualified it with a question mark so as to lessen the blow!).

But once I put them on the couch, he had to agree that they worked really well with all the colors in our living room, and he conceded. Yay! I knew he was a keeper :)

I mean, how great do they look? 

With the greens and blues, they match perfectly with our living room decor. Though you could use these all year-round, the oranges and reds say fall to me, in a subtle, understated way. Plus, they also tie in with the orange in my bird canvas. 

And they just happen to match the faux silk green and blue pillows I bought earlier this year (also at Target...can you tell I live there?), which I switched out for those summery ones I made. There's nothing better than repurposing what you already have!

They match, I swear. I'm bad at shooting in front of these windows!

I love the texture of the Jacquard weave. 

And they're poofy and comfy to lay on too. I have to admit, I hate how down pillows get so smooshed. We love to lounge on our couch, so pillows with some substance are a must.

And bonus points for such a super-fun name!

I did a little Googling and found out it's the name of a Swavelle/Mill Creek fabric. If you're as in love with it as I am, you can buy the fabric online.

I couldn't find these pillows on Target's website, but they also have brown ones that are just as lovely, in Ohh la la brown (of course). I snapped a pic of those with my phone.

I love how for just $40 you can change the feel of a whole room. The pillows' warm fall colors are really making me happy! (The hubs asked why I had to buy more pillows, and I said, "they're fall pillows." He said, "We have pillows for every season? We're so fancy!" Hilarious.)

Here's to fall -- and understanding husbands!

Sep 12, 2011

Fall's first pumpkin

How do you pick your pumpkin?

Me, I like to take my time. I like to survey, not looking for anything in particular, but one that calls to me. There are so many great ones, but I feel like there's always one that seems to say, "Yes, I was grown for you. Take me home!"

Last year's pumpkin

Usually I find that one, give it a good once over, then put it down and keep looking. All the while, I can feel its pull, calling me back over. Even if it's not the "perfect" pumpkin, or even what I was planning to buy, as soon as I have that feeling, I know I've found it.

Do you go for little, or big? Tall and skinny, or short and round? 

Me, I tend to come home with shorter, rounder ones -- they just look happy to me for some reason, cheerful. I like to find ones that aren't too round, ones with little dimples or dents, or maybe a little lopsided. If I wanted a perfectly round, symmetrical pumpkin, I'd buy a plastic one at the store. It's a living thing that grew on the ground, and I love when it looks that way.

What about the stem? Short stem, or long? Straight stem, or curly?

I love a stem with a little personality -- not too short, or straight, and with a little shape. If it's got a little green left, I'm smitten.

Over the weekend, I bought my first pumpkin of the season. It's a little early, but I couldn't resist. The air is starting to cool off and the fall winds are blowing in, and it just felt right.

This one asked me to bring it home, so I did. I also bought a pot full of orange mums.

I set them both next to a tree along our driveway to give our visitors a proper fall greeting. Aren't they happy buddies?

I don't know why, but this picture makes me think of two kids waiting for the bus.

Then I decided to add my delightfully weathered apple barrel. I think it completes my little outdoor fall vignette really well!

I don't know how long this pumpkin will last -- if it'll make it all the way to October and carving time. But for now, it's making me happy.

Have you decorated for fall yet?