The short answer is, yes. We inherited a 1980’s pool table complete with all of it’s old ugly faux-wood formica trim and worn out kelly green felt when we bought this house almost 3 years ago. It SCREAMED dated, just like the rest of the place. However, for us non-pro billiard table owners, it seemed to be in pretty decent shape otherwise. And truth be told it would probably cost a ton just to get someone to disassemble it and haul it out of here. So I decided to fix it up. And well, since I have a ton of other things I need to spend money on in this house I decided it needed to be a budget friendly, mostly DIY fix.
What I really wanted was a table that looked more like this gorgeous number from Pottery Barn. And I thought I could pull it off for a fraction of it’s $7500 price tag.
So going in I knew I needed to re-felt the table. The old felt was worn and was nearly bald in spots. While I have read some blogs on DIY’ing this process, I “felt” (sorry couldn’t help myself) that re-felting was something I was going to have a pro do. I contacted a local billiard store and set that up. In the meantime, it meant that I had to disassemble the table and get ready for the re-felting appointment. I removed the faux wood trim that skirts the side lip of the table (it was flimsily tacked on with finishing nails) and it was so old and brittle that it actually crumbled as I pried it off. Eventually I threw out these pieces and replaced them with some select pine boards 1 x 4s that I bought at Home Depot. I removed the bolts from underneath the table that allowed me to pull out the rails and bumpers. In addition to being held in by bolts, these pieces are held to one another by the pockets which have sturdy pins on each end.
I despised the look of the fringe pockets on our table and ordered a new set of slightly less ugly leather pockets on Amazon (most of the good-looking modern pool tables have rails with integrated pockets – the only options for replacing the older style is either fringe or leather). Hey pool table repair companies, there’s market space available for those that provide attractive replacement pool table pockets – wiiiiide open.
Once I had the rails and pockets off, I used a deglosser called Liquid Sandpaper to prepare the wood for refinishing. I then primed it with Zinsser B-I-N Primer. This is a super polymer-based primer (great for covering knots in wood or stains). I used it because I wasn’t sure how well paint would adhere and be resilient to wear and tear on something like a pool table rail that gets frequent cue hits and arms resting on it. I then took great care using a foam roller and several coats of a satin finish black paint, I think it was leftover paint from some of my interior door and window trim.
The most challenging part of the painting process was having to take care using many q-tips dipped in acetone to remove the paint on the little inlay pearl rail sight markers that I carelessly painted over.
Once painting was complete the pool table was ready to be re-felted. The billiard technician came to my home with all his tools and the dark grey felt that I had selected. After watching him do the re-felting process, I think I probably could have done this part too. He removed the old felt, used a spray adhesive straight on the slate and laid the new felt out, wrapped it over the edges and stapled it to the wood underneath. However, it’s probably best that he did do this because when he removed the felt from the rails he noticed a problem. The rubber bumpers attached to the rails was brittle and rotten. There was no sense in re-felting over bad rubber resulting in a table that performs poorly, so I decided to go ahead and have him replace the bumpers too. The billiard technicians also leveled the table in its final resting place in the room, then they put it all back together including the new pockets, new bumpers, rails and even the painted and primed pine boards I used for side skirts. We completed the area with an inexpensive black cue rack mounted to the wall.
All totaled, refurbishing this full size pool table cost under $800 including the re-felting, re-bumpering, primer, paint, wood trim, leather pockets and cue rack. While that’s not cheap, it’s certainly cheaper than buying a brand new regulation size table which can easily set you back about $3500 on the lower end or in the $7 to 10K range for the modern looking ones at Pottery Barn or Crate and Barrel.
I’ve talked a lot about all the upcoming projects at my new (to me) old house but do you know where I actually started? The nicest bathroom in the house. Ok, nicest is being generous. It is the least ugly. And by least ugly, I mean Carrera look alike ceramic tile from floor to ceiling (varying sizes with a mid-wall border), white builder grade tile in the tub/shower, gold trimmed safety glass sliding shower door, crystal chandeliers (not the good kind), off white circa 1985 laminate vanity with cultured marble top, gold faucets, and a grey tub and toilet. I thought I could work with the tile, especially because I was not relishing the idea of demoing then re-drywalling the entire bathroom, but the rest was gonna have to go. First up – a makeover was in order for that tub and toilet. You really don’t see many colored toilets or tubs in new homes, they are almost always white or occasionally off-white. Even though our grey tub wasn’t as offensive as a mustard yellow, avocado green or, gasp, a burgundy tub, any color other than white just screams “dated!”
Since I had no plans to totally gut this bathroom Plan A was to try and coat the tub in one of those specially formulated epoxy based paints for tub and tile. If it failed, then Plan B would be to rip out the tub and toilet. I’d heard good things from others who had done this project and read mixed reviews online but still felt it was worth a shot to potentially save over a thousand dollars and the sweat equity involved in replacing the tub and toilet.
I first checked my local Home Depot and Lowe’s but both only carried a brand of tub coating that got terrible reviews. I bought Rustoleum Tub and Tile Refinisher (2 kits) on Amazon and it was at my house in 2 days.
Other supplies I used included:
Fine grit sandpaper
Mask, rubber gloves
Calcium Lime and Rust (CLR) cleaner
Caulk remover tool or razor blade
Mini paint roller for smooth surfaces
Blue painter’s tape
How to Paint a Tub (or any other ugly bathroom surface)
First, I removed the gold shower doors and track. I planned on putting up a shower curtain afterwards. After they were unscrewed, I had to remove excess silicone from the tub lip and tile with a razor blade. I also went back later and filled the holes where the track had been screwed into the tile with white caulk. I also removed all the caulk between the tile and the tub and unscrewed the little brass drain doo-hickey. I didn’t bother removing the toilet handle deciding to make it white since most toilet handles these days are the same color as the toilet anyway. The toilet already had a new-ish white seat on it so I removed that.
With the doors out of the way, I gave the area in and around the tub and toilet a really thorough cleaning with a bleach based cleaner in a lame attempt to remove lots of mildew and other nasty stuff.
This left me better able to see any other remnants of caulk or silicone that had to be removed around the entire tub.
Still there is a set of about 6 tiles with brownish yellow grout that I just could not get cleaned that will get new grout once I do other tiling, but these didn’t concern me too much since I didn’t want to paint the tile, only the tub and toilet.
Next, I cleaned the tub and toilet with CLR. This was especially important because we have well water which generally has more minerals in it than city water and can leave residue on your tub. Regardless of your water source, do this step anyway. Your tub can’t be too clean for this process. Note, CLR, when used in a small space has fumes so wear a mask, open a window and turn on your bath fan for ventilation.
After everything was clean, I sanded the tub and toilet with very fine grit sandpaper. I used a 400 grit. Then I rinsed with water, dried it, sanded and rinsed again.
Once everything is totally dry and dust free you are ready to paint. It’ll be important to assess where you are in the process before you commit to painting. The special paint is an epoxy that comes in 2 parts. Once it’s mixed it must be used in 6 hours, after that it thickens to the point where it’s unusable. I opted to come back the next day ready to paint.
I began day 2 by taking a tack cloth and running it over every surface to be painted to pick up any lint, dust, hair, and small particles that somehow magically appeared overnight. The surface must be perfect to accept the paint. I taped off the adjacent areas that weren’t going to get paint with blue painters tape.
I followed Rustoleum’s directions and poured the contents of one container into the other and mixed them. The odors from this paint are noxious! Definitely wear a mask, open windows and put a fan or two on. No matter what you do it will permeate the whole house and linger for days, it’s that strong. I filled a disposable pan with some paint, soaked a fine nap roller made for smooth surfaces and started rolling. As advertised, the paint has unique self leveling properties… to a point. It is runny and will drip if you use too much so it’s better to use many thin coats rather than glob it on. Nobody wants a drippy tub. This stuff dries pretty quickly so if you find yourself overlapping an area you already did 5 minutes ago it may get tacky and not re-level so be careful of that.
I also noticed in areas where there once was silicone holding the door on it still didn’t adhere to even after scraping the silicone off, cleaning and sanding. In hindsight perhaps maybe using acetone might remove this residue, who knows? But since I had already started it was too late. I used the small foam brush in the corners where the tile met the tub and where the toilet met the floor. I removed the lid from the toilet tank so that I could cover the entire thing and also the tank itself. Now here’s where you might be wondering what I did inside the bowl which was also gray. I suppose I could have been all thorough-like and taken the toilet bowl water out in cupfuls then soaked up the last bits in rags, but nope, I didn’t. I just left it gray. And you might notice if the seat’s up and your looking right at it (sorry boys), but otherwise the eye is fooled into thinking it’s a shadow… at least that’s what I’m telling myself. I was honestly a little paranoid about screwing the inside of it up then having to rip the toilet out altogether, which wouldn’t normally be a big deal but some moron grouted, yes, grouted the toilet to the floor – ugh.
Anyway, 2 coats later and I could still see gray through, so I knew I was definitely doing a third. I decided to wait until the next day for more complete drying. I used what little I had left in my paint pan to cover a nasty looking fiberglass slop sink in my laundry room.
This thing was so gross I wouldn’t have cleaned an old paint brush in it let alone laundry delicates (who am I kidding, I wash NOTHING by hand). Anyway, the slop sink looks brand new now. In between days 2 and 3 of this project is where I made my most critical mistake. I learned an old trick a few years ago that if you’re painting project will take you the course of several days then you put your brush or roller in a plastic bag, wrap it up tight and stick it in the fridge and the next time you paint it’s still perfect and fresh, not at all gunky or dried up. It can save you a ton of time cleaning brushes. Whatever you do DO NOT PUT THIS (or any epoxy, shellac or varnish based paint) in your fridge. Certain foods are very susceptible to odors and flavors that may escape the wrapped brush or roller and totally ruin your food. I learned this the hard way. I had an English Muffin the next morning with a little epoxy-butter. Yech. Butter itself isn’t healthy but chlorofluorocarbon laced butter is most certainly even worse for you.
On day 3 of the tub project I mixed the second set of cans together to do coats 3 and 4 on the tub and toilet. (WARNING! Many a YouTube video will make this whole project look like it’s complete in mere hours, not days. Lies…all lies…unless one has nothing better to do that literally sit around and watch paint dry.) Anyway, after the third coat the silicone residue area on the rim of the tub was starting to get covered and accept the paint. With a 4th coat the paint was fully covering this area and for good measure I gave just this area a 5th coat.
I still had some paint left over so I racked my brain about what else I could epoxy-paint. And then, an epiphany! What is the bane of every awesome looking kitchen or bath that at some point WILL definitely go down the tubes and look like crap? Yep, the grout. I dunno what’s in that grout sealer they sell but I am convinced it’s a racket. Grout never stays clean. So it remains to be seen if this will last or not but I decided to paint the grout in between the bathroom floor tiles. Figured it couldn’t be any worse than the dingy dirty gray-brown that currently flanked the bright white and grey tiles. It was a bit tedious taping off each tile, but it seriously turned out better than I expected.
I did 2 coats. All of the tub and tile paint has to cure for at least 72 hours before it can get wet and sustain foot traffic. I waited that long before I put back the toilet lid, the drain thingy, then I hung 2 tension rods at the ceiling one for a liner and one for my extra-long shower curtain. Hanging your shower curtain at the ceiling makes the room look taller! And yes, I know, I know the chevron print shower curtain is soooooooo 2016, but I had it leftover from my last house. I’ll change it when I update the rest of the bathroom.
It’s been almost 5 months since I painted the tub, toilet, laundry sink and tile grout and it all still looks great! Admittedly the finish isn’t as smooth as a regular tub, it’s a little dimpled, sort of like an orange peel, but it looks 100% better than having a dated bathroom ensemble. In the near future I’ll rip out the huge mirrored cabinet, fill the empty wall spaces left with remaining tile, and switch out the vanity and fixtures for something more current. So I’d not consider this photo a true “after” shot, but rather an interim. Now that we’re deep into the kitchen remodel and basement demo, it should only take me …. meh…. 3 years or so to get back to this project. Who’s hanging in there with me?
It wouldn’t be the start of a new year without a review of the highs and lows of the HGTV Dream Home. The unveiling of the 2018 HGTV Dream Home was just one small thing to look forward to the night before everyone trudged back to work and school today. As with the last several years of Dream Homes this one was also a renovation rather than a complete new build, because ya know, who can resist a stunning before and after? I was particularly excited by this year’s contemporary style since it’s a similar style to my home that we’ve been slowly remodeling over the last few months.
The HGTV 2018 Dream Home is located in the Pacific Northwest, right along the Puget Sound. The setting is gorgeous. The previous exterior, not so much. Let me rephrase, it wasn’t awful, just a bit outdated and weird. What’s up with that asymmetrical ship’s watch? My guess would be that similar to our home, this one was originally built in the mid-80’s.
The back of the home looks slightly better, but all you see if building block looking windows, stark white railing, and too-big arborvitae bushes hiding the wall.
The after is much improved, sleek and truly contemporary. None of that “I am a contemporary but would rather be coastal” that it previously possessed. The metal roof over the entire home probably cost a pretty penny (I’ve been researching them as a possibility for my own home) but makes such a difference. Removing that ship’s watch was also a great choice and the updated driveway, garage doors and landscaping don’t hurt either.
This home is just reaffirming many of the contemporary design choices we’re making for our own home, and the black modern windows and dark painted exterior help immensely. I wish HGTV would name all of their products somewhere and the cost for the product and the installation and construction. I’ve found that black (interior and exterior) windows are not as readily available as one might think, and when you can find slick black contemporary windows, they are $$$$!
Dream Home Interior
I won’t bore you with all of the choppy wrong-ness of the before interiors, you can check them out for yourself on HGTV’s website but I did want to take you through some of my favorite parts of the completed interior.
Ok, here the view says it all, and perhaps that’s why they chose not to go with black interiors on the windows here but rather white with white trim? The millwork is simple and contemporary and honestly fades away unless you’re really looking for it, making the Puget Sound views the main event.
I’m torn about the fireplace placement. On one hand it’s ideal to have your great room furniture be focused on both the fireplace and the views all at once, but a fireplace of this size does take up a good portion of that view. And while the look of this one is very coastal, I’d have gone with something a bit more contemporary that didn’t take up so much real estate, like this one here by Malm.
I am still a sucker for a white kitchen, and I really love that they are using a shaker cabinet in a contemporary home. (More positive design affirmations for my home – yay)! The metal and wood railing are perfect and add the modern edge while the white wicker pendants over the island give it just enough coastal kitsch. I may need to pick up these counter stools for my own home.
This entry door is perfection. You can see in the second pic below it’s a very modern black interior/exterior French door. I am hoping that this is what our new Marvin Contemporary door will look like in our in-progress kitchen. It’s harder to find modern looking French doors without mullions than you think. They are not a standard off the shelf Home Depot purchase, trust me. I’m a bit disappointed by the random hooks just hung on the wall with no framing or bench. The hooks themselves are adorable whale tails but I wish this wall had been framed out (maybe with some board and batten) so that the coats weren’t the focus. The art is gorgeous though hung at a weird spot, probably to detract your eye from random coats. And the idea of a burled wood boot tray in the Pacific Northwest is a smart and good-looking idea.
In my opinion this is the best bedroom of the bunch. The blues are calming, but not boring, and this is a great example of how things don’t need to be perfectly matchy-matchy but can still “go.” See how those mirrors are similar but not the same, and the desk and dresser, too? I also like how larger furnishings are used as nightstands. Lots of folks don’t have room for a bed, nightstands and a desk and dresser in their room. So it makes perfect sense to replace some of the less utilitarian pieces with those that can do double duty.
There are so many things I like about this vignette even though I don’t love pink. I adore large scale art. I love this fish sign and it fits this house outside Seattle perfectly. My other faves here are mixing dining chars with a bench, the mismatched table and bench and the pendant trifecta. There is so much interest and mixing of styles here that you don’t even really miss an area rug under the table… ok maybe I miss one just a little…
Finally, the outdoors. The view from this property is just amazing. And while it may rain a ton in the Pacific Northwest, for those times when it is nice enough to be outside, it helps when it looks like this space. Who wouldn’t want to snuggle up next to that fire pit or have a meal with family and friends at that outdoor table?
Outdoor Entertaining Spaces
And HGTV, if you’re reading, here’s what I really wanna know:
1) How much does everything cost? Like regular retail cost that your everyday person would pay?
2) How much time does it take Ryan Patrick Flynn to design all these spaces? How large is his team?
3) Next year can you create a list where everything came from. I mean everything. Shingles, doors, windows, counters, light fixtures, a duvet, everything. Not just those that pay sponsorship. It doesn’t have to be emblazoned anywhere, just a list, no logos, no ads.
4) How much did you pay for the fixer initially? How much did you put into it (labor and materials)? What’s it worth now?
What were your favorite parts of the 2018 HGTV Dream Home? What do you want to know about the HGTV Dream Home? Lemme know in the comments, maybe we could get a petition going 😉
Still a whirlwind here at my new home the construction site. Over the past weeks we had electricians moving several electrical panels from various places across the home to the garage. While this wasn’t an absolute necessity, we believe that it will pay off in the long run for two reasons. First, it will allow all wiring to be run in the basement in one new soffit right alongside the HVAC ducts. Previously the wires were a spaghetti mess above the drop ceiling in the basement, but since the basement ceiling is currently pulled out it made sense fix it properly now. Second, it means we can remove both non-code compliant electrical “closets” that had been fashioned to hide the previous panels in the family room. While they technically did their job at hiding the panels, they were not aesthetically pleasing to look at and seriously messed with the flow and looks of the rooms.
Other new developments include our receipt of a proposal to remove both loadbearing and non-loadbearing walls so we can rework the floorplan on the home’s main level. More to come on that soon! In the interim more deconstruction continues in the basement including continued removal of wood paneling, drop ceiling and carpet. Dead mouse count is up to 56! In addition to the removal of the walls, we’ve consulted with a plumber to talk about how to untangle the spaghetti of Pex plumbing that used to be in the basement drop ceiling, removal of the old wet bar drain, and how to ready the new kitchen area for plumbing including a gas line for the range (I’m hoping there is budget for a big professional grade range).
DIY Minecraft Mural
I really wish we were further along than we currently are. Renovation always seems to be so much simpler and quicker in your mind than what reality dictates. HGTV makes it look so easy! I could maybe get a bit more done on our home reno if I wasn’t so busy with design projects for my business, but this is a problem I can’t complain about! Here’s a recent project that I wanted to share. I recently did a custom geometric mural painting for a client’s new home. Their son is a huge Minecraft fanatic. Rather than pick one paint color for his bedroom, I proposed 12 colors! That’s right, TWELVE, that take the shape of that tell-tale Minecraft cube pattern. All 12 colors were in the shades of green and brown and when finished have the look of Minecraft dirt and grass. The great thing about this geometric mural is that it could be done in a variety of colors depending on what your child likes most about the game. Shades of grey for rock, grey and black and spots of red for spider, shades of blue for water, you get the idea. It’s actually pretty easy to recreate with a little patience, skilled use of a level and lots, scratch that, TONS of painter’s tape.
Here are all the materials I used:
12 quarts of Benjamin Moore paint in the following colors:
554 Easter Hunt
406 Huntingdon Green
417 Feel the Energy
558 Killala Green
553 Richmond Green
546 Courtyard Green
455 Sweet Basil
HC 68 Middlebury Brown
1057 Maple Valley
1055 Algonquian Trail
1029 Coconut Grove
A yardstick, and a tape measure
A long (3-4 foot) level (if your wall is smaller you might be able to get by with a laser level, but I’ve always found they get more inaccurate the longer your wall)
About 6 rolls of painter’s tape
Pencils and erasers
One 1.5” paintbrush per color plus 1 or 2 small detail brushes
Drop cloths, paper towels, rags, etc.
How-to DIY Minecraft Wall
First, I needed to determine how many squares I could fit across and vertically on the wall so that I didn’t end up with partial blocks on any edge. To start with, I knew that I wanted large-ish blocks that were about 12 x 12 inches each. So I took the overall length and height of the wall and divided by different figures until I ended up with something that was evenly divisible in both directions. In this case it meant blocks that were about 13 x 13. Is there likely a mathematical proportional equation that could have figured this out the “right” way, sure probably, but this way just seemed logical in my head, so that’s what I did.
Once I knew how large each block would be I took my yardstick and measured every 13 inches along the bottom of the wall and made a small pencil tick mark. I did the same thing going up the left and right sides and along the top. Then, I took my level and made intermediate horizontal tick marks 1/3 up the wall and 2/3 up the wall. Next, I used the level to connect the dots to make a perfectly straight grid pattern both horizontally and vertically. Everyone knows homes’ walls are never perfectly straight, so every now and then I’d step back to make sure it looked about right.
Next, it was time to tape. I began with taping on the ceiling, baseboards and the adjoining walls first since those pieces of tape will stay put for the entire project. Then I began taping on the left edge of each vertical line and on the top edge of each horizontal line. Because of where you have to tape, at any given point you can only paint a quarter of the wall’s squares. Starting off because the squares looked so similar (everything white with blue painter’s tape) I placed some blue tape “x’s” on the squares I should NOT paint so I could keep track. In the current formation I painted every other bottom square, every other square on the 3rd row, 5th row, and so on. I didn’t use a specific pattern for where to put what colors, but had a few rules I followed to keep it looking like true Minecraft. I kept the bottom 2 rows completely brown. The third row from the baseboard was a mix of brown and green and the rest of the cubes above that third row were green. I never put the same exact color directly adjacent to itself. The same color diagonally was acceptable.
After my first coat was dry I went back and gave a 2nd coat to those squares then removed the tape. I used a brush to do all of this painting for a few reasons. Brushes, while they required a slower and more methodical stroke, minimized bleeding under the tape. Also, utilizing 12 different mini rollers and pans could get expensive and unwieldy. Every time I finished with a brush, I’d return it to its own plastic bag to keep the paint moist. Hint: If you have a painting project that will take more than 1 day place your brush or roller in a plastic bag, seal it, then put it in the fridge overnight. Only do this with latex paints. Other more odious products can ruin food. Believe me, I know firsthand.
Once the first set of cubes was completely dry, I re-taped on the opposite edges and painted the isolated squares with 2 coats, then removed tape, let dry, and re-taped. I repeated this process until all squares were completely painted. Inevitably there were some areas where either the paint bled under tape or the tape overlapped too much leaving white to shine through. I had to go back and touch up these areas with a small detail brush. Finally, I removed all the border tape along the ceiling and baseboards, and voila, Minecraft wall accomplished! This project took about 2.5 days to complete. It helps to be able to ventilate the room with fresh air provided it’s not humid or raining outside and a fan to help speed up the drying time between tapings.
My Minecraft fan hadn’t fully moved in yet, but once his room is complete I hope to be able to share the entire look here! Here is the finished wall:
Ok, I had a serious moment (truthfully, it was a long moment… like several days long) of panic last week. I had heard that subscribers weren’t getting emails of my blog posts, so I set about trying to rectify this issue and found that all of the blog’s subscribers had vanished! Yikes! I noticed a few other website issues too. After lots of time on the phone and in chat with the help desk from my hosting company (who, um, weren’t so helpful), and then more time tinkering myself, I finally figured out how to fix it. Phew, HUGE sigh of relief! So my fingers are crossed that all of my subscribers are reading this via the link sent to their email. I “think” we’re back in business!
Anyway, I wanted to update you all on the progress here at my house renovation. I would technically not consider anything we’ve done so far as “renovation.” Let’s be honest, it’s all still demo. This will continue to be the case for a while. It feels never-ending. It’s definitely not as fast nor as fun as ‘ol Chip Gaines makes it look on Fixer Upper! Every weekend we continue to tear out old paneling, mirrors, drywall, carpet and drop ceiling in the basement. We are also trying desperately to track all the electrical and make sense of what had been done previously. The entire drop ceiling is a mess of wires that we aim to nicely package in one existing soffit so we don’t have to do a drop ceiling again, cause let’s face it, drop ceilings in an already low basement are no bueno.
Ultimately, given the current state of the basement, we’d probably have been better off if the basement hadn’t been finished in the first place. When the home was inspected we saw that the ceiling of the basement was insulated (which isn’t required) so we thought it was a real plus. Well, now we have to rip it all out. Why? Because it’s made a nice cushion-y bed/ graveyard for mice. As we pull out walls and ceiling and insulation we’ve come across 44 mice (all dead) so far and a TON of mouse poop. We’ve also found some black mold on the western wall sheetrock so even though we weren’t planning on ripping that drywall out, now we must. I’ve put out a few more traps in case there are any surviving mice and once demo is complete will probably have a pest control company come in to close up any possible points of entry. In the mean time we’ll keep the dead-mouse-tracker going and continue to be skeeved out.
This basement demo has been riddled with issues, but already it looks so much better. It’s much more open and airy. It feels like a larger and more usable space. Here’s a few progress pics. And if anyone has a surefire way to rid a house of mice once and for all I’m all ears. And yes, I plan on dropping about a grand at the container store to finally get the Pinterest perfect pantry complete with pretty mouse-proof glass containers for all of my flour, cereal, pasta, et cetera. For the peace of mind that I am certainly eating mouse poop free Cheerios, I think it’s worth it.
These 5 sublime wooded acres outside Washington DC are the reason we bought this… ahem… less than ideal house. I may have mentioned that our last house, though it served us well, was crammed with hundreds of other houses in a community of tract homes. All of the homes looked similar and we were literally less than 6 feet from our neighbor’s home. While we enjoyed our old community amenities, like a pool and a small gym, but we longed to have our own private versions of these perks. Oh, and we also had one more not so exciting desire, a 3-car garage. We don’t have 3 cars but we have accumulated some fun toys like a jet ski, a kayak, and my husband has a grown-up Lego, a Jeep, which has parts that go on and come off routinely. This land is lush and extensive and surrounds this contemporary home just perfectly. Check it out.
Our new house is on a quiet street. I cannot hear traffic noise from my home, just the sound of bugs, birds and frogs. Each home on our street has several acres so when the leaves are on the trees I cannot even see my neighbors. Time will tell how much we will be able to see them as the leaves fall off the trees this autumn. The house is at the end of a street with no outlet which means even more privacy.
Most of the 5 acres are woods. One side of the property is bordered by a bridle trail – yes – some people in this area keep horses on their property! There’s probably less than half-acre of our yard property that is mow-able grass but the plants, gardens, ponds and waterfalls are plentiful, so we will have a significant amount of landscaping to keep up with. There are 2 large ponds, 2 small ponds a wooden footbridge, a land bridge, and 3 man-made waterfalls. The house also has various levels of decks and patios including the one that surrounds the free-form shaped pool. In this county, installing a pool can be really expensive, especially on a sloped lot like this one. It’s one of the major reasons we selected this house.
The trees and plants are plentiful and wide-ranging. We have a variety of pines, oak, boxwoods, azaleas, yucca, ivy, juniper, ferns and even flowering waterlilies. The learning curve for caring for all of these plants is huge, but a fun challenge. I look forward to one day erecting a small greenhouse and growing veggies or maybe figuring out how to capitalize on the 4 ponds for hydroponics.
We’ve already started opening up some walls so we can see some of the supporting structures and ultimately adequately determine how to safely remove some walls. Next week see more of our demo!
In the last post I took you through the main level of our big renovation adventure, “before edition”. Today I’d like to take you through the downstairs. Well, actually, I don’t want to, because it’s a bit embarrassing. It’s the basement level of our 5200 sq foot house and the basement is just as long and rambling as the upstairs. Right now it’s filled with moving boxes and furnishings scattered aimlessly. Our justification for this helter-skelter appearance is, “Why bother to take a ton of effort in establishing this space as livable rooms since so much of it will get renovated?” Maybe this is lazy, but we’re saying it’s practical. So hold on to your hats for this messy tour.
The 2 really great things about this basement are that a) one side is completely at ground level, so we have full sized windows and doors, rather than those mini basement windows and b) the basement stretches the full length of the house. You can enter this level right from the foyer, which is a little odd. Hopefully we can make the basement feel more like the lower level of the home than a basement so this setup won’t seem so bizarre.
Basement Before Tour
The stairs lead to the main living space which also shares space with a built in bar. There is an interesting 3-sided box window (like a bay window but with 90 degree angles) that has a small seat area with awesome vinyl tile on the top. This room also has a 2 sided fireplace and like most of the basement, a drop ceiling. The bar area looks straight out of the 70’s with wood paneling, linoleum flooring and lots of mirrors. The bar’s saving grace are the pendant light fixtures which are actually kinda cute. Mind you, they neither go with the wood paneling nor are they my taste nor will they coordinate with the future style of the home, but they are sweet little fixtures.
Around the corner from the bar is a wide hallway which houses the utility room hidden behind sliding mirrored doors. There is a very small room on the right that was at one point a home office. I know I won’t be able to use it as my home office because there are no windows. The current laundry room is also off the hallway and doubles as a storage room. The utility sink got a quick facelift this week with leftover Rustoleum Tub and Tile paint (more in a future post) and the washer and dryer will eventually be moved upstairs to the mudroom.
There is a small bathroom at the end of the hall. Oh, how I wish it was closer to the exterior door to service the pool! We can at least work on updating the finishes and fixtures. We’ll also look for a way to rearrange the shower since there is a large HVAC soffit running right over the shower head. This shower is for short people only!
Two bedrooms at this end of the home have flowered wallpaper, mirrored closet doors and carpet. However, to their credit, they each have a full-size window overlooking the pool and patio and a real drywall ceiling. I can’t believe I am getting excited by drywall ceilings.
An awkward large foyer-ish space with sliding doors that lead outside to the back yard is on the opposite side of the steps leading upstairs. Even with the large doors this portion of the basement is still very dark because the adjacent exterior is covered by a deck. Adding to the darkness is a deep grey slate floor, which doesn’t sound that bad, right? Buuuuut, it’s bad. It’s bad because the slate is coated in some sort of high gloss impervious sheen. I don’t know why anyone would do this to an otherwise perfectly good slate, but it is what it is, and therefore it will change. Note the chair underneath the askew ceiling tile is where we found another leak in the house.
The small gym is located just behind the foyer area. It is covered from top to bottom in mirrors. Big mirrors, little mirrors, rectangles, squares and cracked. I don’t know how anyone worked out in there without getting vertigo from all the mirrored surfaces and mirror seams that weren’t lined up perfectly. It also has awesome fluorescent lighting so of course you’ll look great as you gaze into those mirrors. We would like to have a home gym but we may borrow some space from the shiny slate area and we will certainly redo the mirrored walls.
To the left of the basement foyer are 2 final rooms, one with a window that looks out to the defunct hot tub. We’re not sure what this room will be used for just yet, but are considering adding a bigger window or more doors to let additional light in. Just adjacent to this room is a nicely tiled room with some strange wood paneled pillars and half walls. This room is home to the pool table and the coordinating Coors beer pool table light. This area will remain a pool and game room but will see some upgrades in wall-covering, ceilings, and lighting.
Phew! I think that about covers it for the basement area. Check back next week or a picture tour of the home’s property which is the REAL reason we bought this house.
Well, we did it. This is either the stupidest thing we’ve ever done or the most brilliant. I’m talking about our decision to buy a new house. A house that, for us, was pretty expensive, and yet still required work. After 5 days post move in I was convinced that it was a dumb idea. We had already found 3 leaks and evidence of a mouse infestation. I was probably just tired and overwhelmed from all the hassle and chaos of moving and I wasn’t seeing the big picture. The bigger picture is that this house is huge, about 5200 square feet. It has all the things we wanted, a pool, a 3-car garage, was in our kids current school boundary, and most importantly, it had space. Wonderful, glorious space. I could stretch my arms out wide at our last house and touch both my and my neighbor’s home, so this new house on 5 acres, just outside of Washington DC, is a rarity and a real treat. Sure, everything has its cost, and in this case getting what we wanted was going to cost us both monetarily and with the promise of investing time and sweat equity. So now, after being in the house for just over a week, and already starting a few small projects, and in the midst of unpacking I’m feeling better about our decision. Welcome to my major project, my new home!
My hope is to be able to document the renovation on the blog from start to finish. So first, I guess it’d be smart to show you some “before” pics and describe the place. Warning, these pics (namely the interior) show unadulterated moving mess and chaos.
Real estate is all about location, location, location, right? This house is in Fairfax County, VA. Close enough to commute to downtown DC for work every day, some of the best schools in the country, and quintessential suburbia. Except this house is nestled in the woods on one of the few remaining 5+ acre lots in the county. The location is about as close to perfection as we could get.
The lot is at the end of a cul de sac on a private drive. It’s so nestled in the woods that you can’t even see the house from the street.
The house style is a 1980’s contemporary. It’s got a long and rambling floorplan that contains one main living level and a walkout basement level. The current style, both inside and out could most politely be described as “retro”. I’m pretty excited to venture into designing a contemporary home since almost every project in this area is traditional, colonial, or coastal. This will be a great change of pace and a bit of a challenge for me design wise, but I’m up for it!
The exterior of the home is brown, lots. of. brown. Brown wood siding, brown brick, brown painted wood decks, brown asphalt shingles. The solid wood front door blends right in because, yep, you guessed it, it’s brown,
The foyer is large, has lots of good light from the front windows, some crystal and gold chandeliers that aren’t my bag and frankly don’t go with the home. The flooring is a glossy Carrera marble tile, which isn’t bad, but several tiles are cracked. The foyer is the central hub with stairs leading to the basement (and a very traditional style railing), forward to the living room, left to the kitchen and right to the two main floor bedrooms. Yep, new flooring samples are scattered on the floor presently.
The living room is huge. Everything in it looks huge. Big wood picture windows with casement bottoms, vaulted ceiling to probably about 20 feet high, massive stone fireplace and the first appearance of the omnipresent mirrors. I haven’t counted, but this house is like a funhouse. There are mirrors everywhere you turn. Full wall mirrors, cutout mirrors, tiled mirrors, mirrors on top of mirrors. The living room also boasts the spongiest carpet I have ever felt. My daughter has taken to practicing cartwheels here because it’s just like a gymnastic floor.
The dining room is connected to the living room and shares the fireplace wall. There is a smaller window overlooking the back yard, flanked by, yes, more mirrors, and a fun little drive through opening to the kitchen. And by fun, I mean for my 10 year old self when I used to dream of working the drive through at McDonald’s (talk about #goals). The dining room also has a chandelier very typical for the 1980’s, bright brass and faceted glass panels.
The adjoining kitchen is small by today’s standards. The dated white cabinets, oak flooring, leaky skylight, unintentionally retro ceiling fan, fluorescent lighting and a wall of black mirrored glass are all the things that need to change. To its benefit it does have nice granite counters and an updated fridge and wall ovens. The ancient ceramic cook top and mismatched dishwasher are also less than ideal.
The hall next to the kitchen leads to another room with a raised platform that forms a bar to the kitchen cutout, but this platform makes the rest of the space in the room awkward and unusable. This room, which probably served as a family room, breakfast room has 3 different floors, black bamboo, red bamboo and glossy black granite. The vaulted ceiling is nice as are the skylights and the large front windows. We hope the woodburning stove will help with energy efficiency this winter. This room actually used to be a garage so when it was converted to living space room was “taken” for the electrical panels by building a awkward closet. The home has a number of electrical issues so as we fix them we’ll probably also relocate these panels since their current set-up is neither to code nor aesthetically pleasing.
Across the hall from the family room is a powder room, with floor to ceiling travertine tile, dated sink cabinet and lighting and a toilet complete with a wooden toilet seat.
Next to the powder room is one of my favorite rooms in the house… well not in its current state… but I’ve been wanting a mudroom forever. Eventually this will be a mudroom/ laundry room with extra pantry style storage.
The final room on this side of the house is yet another living room type space, which we’ll call a den since we’ve already got a living room and a family room. Our hope is to not call it a den for long, we’d love to convert this room to the kitchen to maximize easy access to the back decks and the overall larger space. We’ll know this Friday when we meet with a structural engineer to tell us if these dreams can come true since some adjoining walls would need to come down and we’d want to vault this ceiling as well.
Across the other side of this level is the bedroom wing. The hallway has a coat closet (with mirrored doors of course) and leads to a bathroom and our daughter’s room. The bathroom isn’t too bad. Sure it’s got a grey toilet and tub, 4 different kinds of tile (to the ceiling no less), a worn vanity, dated lighting, a mirrored medicine cabinet on top of a wall mirror, old brass fixtures and a brass and glass shower enclosure. While we await for approval to knock down walls, I’ve taken on this bathroom and the nearby linen closet as my first pet projects. I’ll detail more in a future blog post so you can see my low-budget reno on this bathroom.
The 1st bedroom off the hall is my daughter’s and it’s a pretty standard bedroom. Smaller than her last but it overlooks the pool. We’ll eventually update it by replacing the traditional trim with something more contemporary, replace carpet with hardwood, new closet doors and paint. Pretty simple, right?
Finally, the master suite. It’s huge, thanks in part to an addition in which the previous owners added a room on top of an existing deck. However, this room currently seems to slope downward and features a gas fireplace that doesn’t seem to work, and burgundy and grey tile that is popping up unprovoked. It’s a good thing that this space is so large because we will need to borrow some space to make the master bathroom larger. The bath currently has gold framed shower doors, mirrors everywhere, some glass block and a plum purple sink and coordinating 80’s era tile on the walls.
That’s all for today, over the coming days I’ll take you on a tour of the basement and our favorite part of this property and the real reason we bought it, the outdoors. Of course if you have great design recommendations, put them in the comments and share with your friends and family!
Ugggh. I am so guilty and feel terrible that I haven’t created a blog post in such a long time! Sorry! It all started back in early June. First my husband was surprised to find out that the Army was promoting him. So planning for a ceremony and party occupied a bit of our free time, then on top of that excitement we decided to make an offer on a house we liked, which ultimately resulted in us having to get our house ready to put on the market, an offer from the military to move to Italy (which we ultimately turned down), and celebrating my son’s graduation from 8th grade, and both my husband and my birthdays within 2 days of each other…. June was a whirlwind and July hasn’t been much better.
Thankfully there was 4 days of respite amongst all of it. My husband surprised me with a trip to Martha’s Vineyard for my 40th birthday! I had never been there but had read several books that are set in the relaxed, upscale, posh island. Besides spending some time lying on a beach I was most looking forward to perusing the streets taking in all the great shingle clad architecture. Martha did not disappoint! Architecture ogling started as soon as our little plane touched down. The airport with its whitewalls natural wood shiplap ceiling, detailed beams complete with turnbuckles offered a worthy welcome to this picturesque little island. Check out those beams!
I really expected to see more grand homes with lots of weathered gray cedar shake siding, and while those did exist I think some of the large compounds were tucked away in the meandering woods of the island so their residents can enjoy privacy. I was so surprised to find lane upon lane of adorable little Victorians dripping in gingerbread details. The first sample of vintage Victorian architecture was our little B&B, the Oak Bluffs Inn. Painted in pretty pastel shades of blue, lavender and pink it was a quintessential Victorian with seashore inspired antiques decorating the inside. Our little cottage was a separate building in the back yard and was simply appointed and perfect for relaxing. Very private and no TV.
A few blocks over the Victorian delight continued with tons of shaded streets lined with adorable doll house like seasonal residences. The area known as the Martha’s Vineyard Camp Meeting Association (MVCMA) is a community ripe with adorable Victorian homes in every color of the rainbow.
And yes, the parks, beaches, and lighthouses were gorgeous and every meal we had was excellent – so many great restaurants to choose from. I’d go back to Martha’s Vineyard in a heartbeat. Alas a return trip will have to wait because, fingers crossed, if everything goes well in the next month or so we’ll be moving! Stay tuned! In the meantime, amidst purging and packing I promise to be better about blogging regularly and will share some highlights and ideas from some of my recent clients and moving tips too!
Nothing makes a bedroom statement like a fantastic four poster or canopy bed. Their dramatic height can add some much needed visual interest to a room where normally the furnishings are lower in profile, think low platform beds, nightstands, dressers and the like usually aren’t too high. That said, a tall framed bed isn’t for every bedroom, namely those that are smaller in square footage or have low ceilings, which can make those rooms feel more cramped. Four poster and canopy beds come in designs for every style, modern, classic, traditional, ornate. I’ve assembled a collection of my favorite canopy and four poster beds out there and info on where to find them.