Monday, February 28, 2011

Demo Delay.

Well, as with most construction projects, we have a small delay on our hands. Talks through the weekend determined that demolition would begin today, Tuesday. However, we received the official window delivery date yesterday and it is still two weeks out (Monday, March 14th). Because we really only need one week to completely demo this main level and have it all cleaned up and ready for window framing/install to begin, there's no sense uprooting us this week as planned. In some ways, I'm disappointed because after 5 months of planning and coordinating this project, I am more than ready to get this show on the road (and over with!) But...on the other hand, perhaps it's a blessing since Jeff works the next 11 days straight and it would have meant me being on my own with the girls through the most disastrous part of the project.

So...our new CONFIRMED demo date is next Monday, March 7th. This will give us a few more days to get all of the boxes of kitchen items covered with plastic and sealed with tape to the floor around the perimeter (a last ditch effort to keep that pesky drywall dust off every kitchen utensil we own). We are about halfway to having our life reorganized on our upper level. I'll get pictures posted of our new temporary, condensed living arrangements once I have it fine tuned.

In the meantime, the window treatments for the upper level will be installed on Wednesday of this week. We ended up ordering them through Aero Drapery & Blinds. I priced several places (JCP & Hirschfields) and found Aero to be the most competitively priced. For the majority of the upstairs windows, we chose faux wood blinds with coordinating fabric tapes (similar to the image shown here):

In the master bedroom, we chose shutters for the side windows and drapery for behind the bed (which I am yet to find).

I managed to get the door knobs ordered for the main level as well as pick up the replacement hinges for the interior doors (we changed everything from brass to oil rubbed bronze). Price wise, I have found the most competitive retailer to be Door Knob Discount Center ( They also offer free shipping and no tax! Woo Hoo! I also ordered the front and back entry door handle sets being that those doors will be installed in just under two weeks and we are going to need to be able to lock up the house. For the back door, we did something really simple. Even though the door itself is an exact match to the front door, there's no need to put an elaborate handle on it. I want it to be the most functional and easy to maneuver lock when your hands are full of kids so we went with just a simple knob and deadbolt.

For the front entry, we did something a little more dressy, but not too overbearing. You can get pretty darn elaborate with your door hardware, but I thought this one had a vintage feel to it. This one is by Weiser:

The inside of the door is just a simple knob that matches the other knobs we have around the house (in oil-rubbed bronze vs brass as shown here):

This afternoon the girls and I are headed out to order the tile. We won't need it for about 5 weeks...but with a two week lead time, I'd rather get going on it than have it hold us up down the road. Aside from that, I really can't think of much else I have left to order (the trim, but being that it comes in 16' lengths and we really don't have anywhere to store it, we'll wait until we are further along to order it). Thursday we meet with the exterior contractor to select all the materials and fine tune the details. And by Monday, we'll have a 17' long x 8' wide x 6' high dumpster taking up our entire driveway. Let's hope there aren't anymore snow emergencies in Minneapolis!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Pack It Up!

I don't know if there's any sort of an award for the person who has packed and unpacked their house the most times in 3 years, but if there is, I think I've got it in the bag. We sold our condo that I first owned after moving back from New York in November of 2007...and packed it up. We moved into our previous residence in December of 2007 and unpacked it all. We began the remodel of that house in May of 2008, which meant we packed everything up and moved it to the garage (that house was completely gutted). In December of 2008, we moved back into that house...and unpacked everything. We sold that house in July of 2010...and packed it all up again. We moved into our current residence in November of 2010 and unpacked it all. Here it is February of 2011 and wouldn't you know I'm packing it all up again! Eyeyeyeye!

As much as I can't even stand the THOUGHT of packing everything up...let alone actually doing it...I have the Permit for our project sitting right where I can see it, reminding me with each roll of bubble wrap that this will all be worth it. And I must say, I have my technique pretty darn fine tuned these days and things are moving along rather quickly. Fortunately, we are only packing up one level this time.

Jeff and I were talking the other day about if we thought we'd ever sell this house. We both agreed immediately that we will never move again without hiring movers. With kids, it's just TOO much trying to keep them settled as long as possible...but with enough time that you don't kill yourselves getting the job done!

I was envisioning myself anxiously unpacking these very boxes and getting everything organized in its respective spot come summer. Just need to keep my eye on the prize. In the meantime, my prize is this fabulous roll of bubble wrap that I swiped from Bloomington Drug along with the rest of their boxes they had in the dumpster being recycled. Every so often, it pays to know someone with a drug store!

Finally, remember that old shadow box I was working on for Gloria's room? I wanted it to include a few mementos from her first year of life (like her Baptism invitation, her birth announcement and our family picture)? Well, after arranging and rearranging and arranging it again, I ended up settling on this design.

While it's true it now contains none of the items I intended for it to hold, I actually prefer the simplicity of this and can easily switch things out and rotate other display objects/photos as I find them. This was that cross I made for Gloria a while back. I think it's a nice addition to her little room.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Lighting Woes.

Remember the perfect little light fixtures I found for the mudroom? They were discontinued Martha Stewart fixtures that I managed to find a few leftovers of via Google? Well, I just received word that it was a mistake and they are indeed out of stock. ARGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH! So, let's take a moment to put these light fixtures to rest:

Ok, time to move on (which I'm clearly having a hard time doing). I need a replacement. Remember, this is a very small area, there will be 3 fixtures IN this small area, the finish will be oil-rubbed bronze and the dimensions shouldn't be greater than 8" in diameter. I loved that the previous fixture coordinated...but wasn't too matchy matchy. The search continues...

I love light fixtures. I think it's one of those things you can switch out and completely change a room. Here are a few references I use when searching for the perfect light fixture:

Hudson Valley
This is my go-to company for vintage looking light fixtures.

For more antique looking crystal, Crystorama tends to have relatively reasonably priced fixtures. When ordering a fixture with crystal, you can keep cost down by going with the lowest 'grade' of crystal (which I think is essentially cut glass). I can't tell the difference...and you can save nearly 50% by not going with the authentic stuff.

This company specializes in crystal. They have everything from contemporary to antique fixtures. The thing I love about Schonbek is that their fixtures come in 12 different metal finishes (every patina'd look under the sun) and their colored crystal pallet has like 20 varieties of color combinations.

School House Electric
I love this website and how interactive creating a fixture can be. You can choose from the extensive collection of glass that comes in all kinds of colors, designs and shapes.

Rejuvenation Lighting
Another great site for vintage inspired lighting

Now a lot of these companies can be found cheaper, without sales tax and with free shipping by purchasing them through Lighting Universe ( However, I tend to purchase the majority of our light fixtures through Southern Lights in Burnsville, simply because you can order the fixture, take it home, decide you don't like it and bring it back for a full refund within 30 days. No muss, no fuss! I also am never afraid to ask for their "very best price" when ordering a few fixtures at a time. I've never gotten an eye roll for asking and it typically saves me another 10%.

We received word today that the contractor wants to begin demo-ing the main level next week! We will wait until Monday to make the final start date decision when we will receive a firm commitment on our window delivery date. Assuming they are coming on schedule and we have our ducks in a row on our end (meaning the entire main level packed up, a 'modified home' established for ourselves upstairs and all of our belongings in the basement sealed, covered and protected), we are all set to move forward. Since they'll be pulling up the sub floor on the main basically leaves a gaping hole for all of the debris to fall into the basement. So we need to make sure we have everything protected.

Finally, a shot of my little Gloria. My dad took this picture while we were on our trip and sent it to me via email. When I opened the email, I was shocked by her uncanny resemblance to someone I know...but I can't figure out who? Is it Jeff? Me? My brother Matt?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Booya! Guess whose permit is signed, stamped, initialed, red-lined and paid for? There's just no stopping us now!

After much deliberation, Jeff and I decided to pull the permit as homeowners (vs having a contractor pull it for us). I wouldn't really say that I would recommend doing this (ultimately it makes us and SOLELY us responsible for anything that could possibly go wrong), but being that we are no strangers to pulling permits (did it on our last house too) and because it ultimately does save money (even just the labor alone of going down there and doing it) meant we were up for the challenge. FRUGAL is our middle name! So, after a heated match of paper, rock, scissors...I headed over to Kinko's to print out two sets of our plans and headed downtown to the Public Services building.

Pulling a permit is scarrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry, especially when you really have no idea what you are talking about (I'm referring to myself here). If you are making any changes to the footprint of the house...even adding a concrete stoop or tiny first have to go through the Zoning department. Lucky for me, I was only pulling the permit for the interior I got to jump right to Plan Review. I won't go into too great of detail, but the process is about a full hour of working with a 'Plan Reviewer' on exactly what the work is that's being done. They are looking at the cost of the project (which then determines the cost of your permit), the structural changes (your plans first need to be reviewed and signed off on by a Structural Engineer) and the details of the plumbing, HVAC and electrical plans. What they aren't looking at are things like fixtures, cabinetry...really anything that goes on once the walls are closed up. So you can imagine how eloquent I am when I attempt to answer his question about what we are going to do to the exterior walls to insure we have no condensation build up from the heating supply lines. Oh yeah! Just WATCH me dance around these questions.

After feeling like I had been interrogated for the better part of the morning, I saw him pull out his big red stamp and sign off on the dotted line. I had to restrain myself from jumping up and down...but I managed to retain my cool and calmly escorted myself over to pay for the permit. It wasn't until I got out in the hallway that I started skipping back to my car. WOO HOO!

On a side note, I found myself a little project last night at Homegoods. Went there for sheets, left with bags of frames. I've been wanting to do an arrangement of frames going up our stairway. But I wanted to do gold, carved wood looking frames and had trouble finding the perfect ones...until last night. I fell in love with these frames and started playing around with how I could create a little arrangement going up the stairs.

Now clearly I don't have enough frames, but I wanted them to be a bit mixed and I bought 6 of these in an array of sizes and will add in non-matching ones to bulk up my display. Once I feel I have enough frames, I'll start finding the pictures to put in them and have them printed in the proper sizes. I also want to mat some of the photos, but leave others un-matted. It will be a fun project...and I have so many professional photos of the girls and even back from our wedding that I never took the time to develop. If you know of any great spots to find more vintage inspired gold frames, let me know!

Finally, a shot of my little Rosemary. I didn't go into much detail of why the end of our trip was 'tumultuous'...but it had a lot to do with finding out my little Rosemary was at the hospital having stitches while we were stuck in Los Angeles. She's doing great and is quite proud to share her wound with anyone willing to look (that tiny little cut on her chin)!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Way We Are

I thought I would post some final pictures of the main level as we know it. We had the house spic and span (or at least as spic and span as you can get a house whose floors are covered in old paint) before we left on our trip as my parents were gracious (and brave) enough to stay at our house so the kids could be in their own beds. So while it was in decent shape, I took a few pictures to remember the house pre-remodel.

I also promised more details on our basement and plans to make it habitable as a playroom for the girls. The basement is pretty much what you expect in a 1940's house that remains in original condition. It has paneled knotty pine walls, a dropped tile ceiling and asbestos tile that is present in pretty much all of these older Minneapolis homes. But, like everything else in the house, it has remained in impeccable and shockingly clean condition. So while we have plans drawn to completion of a basement overhaul that would include drywall, recessed lighting, a generous sized bathroom for the kids and guests with a large vanity, dressing area and shower, a new laundry room and separate room for the furnace and water heater...none of that will be happening at this time.

Ignore those huge boards of plywood. They used to be shelves in the storage room that is through that small doorway, but we disassembled them when we epoxy'd the floor in there.

In that closet on the far end to the right is a toilet and shower (no sink). This is the area that the new plans call for the bathroom to be. The laundry room would be relocated.

Just showing where you access the storage room (that was built under the addition upstairs). It's a little awkward (going through the laundry room to get to it). In the new plans, there would be a more direct access to the storage room.

The big basement overhaul detailed above, while not anything out of the ordinary is still a big job and would only be something we tackle if we stay here long term. Basement remodels take more time to recover the funds you put we would need to be committed to staying here 5-10 years. While we certainly HOPE that is the plan after what we are about to put ourselves through with this main floor remodel...we want to be sure we are the ones who retain control and could move at a moment's notice if the circumstances called for it.

With all of that said, we do need the space for a playroom as I refuse to have the rollercoaster old Santa brought for Christmas going through my kitchen! So operation 'Create A Cool Playroom' will be brought upon yours truly along with my trusty partner in crime Jeffy boy. The plan - paint, carpet and some updated lighting.

There are these old closets that I think would be fun to take the doors off of and paint a bold accent color inside:

What about converting one of them into a stage with curtains? Or a dressup closet with a little bar to hang all their princess gowns, purses and jewels on? What about wallpapering the inside of them with a fun print to keep things light and cheery? What about chalkboard, magnet or whiteboard paint on one of the walls? There are so many possibilities and none of them really require more than a can of paint and a little imagination. As far as the paneling goes, I think just a couple coats of paint will have it feeling light and bright in no time. And for the carpet, we'll do a nice, quality, mildew resistant pad with a very reasonably priced, stain-resistant carpet (that we aren't devastated to see take a serious beating). So...I'm excited...and determined to make this a place for the girls to spend endless hours together (and keep our kitchen relatively free of tripping toy hazards:-)

Tick-tock, tick-tock...demolition is now 1 week past due and after a great weekend away, it's time to get this show on the road!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

Jeff and I made it home today after a fabulous and equally tumultuous weekend away. We had an absolute blast. It was so much fun spending time just the two of us, remembering ourselves as friends before parent, co-worker, roommate, caregiver, provider...and all the other many hats we each wear throughout a single day. This weekend, we were young again with not a care in the world.

(The Hollywood sign is itty-bitty up on the hill in the background;-)

We dined like king and queen thanks to several fabulous restaurant recommendations from friends (thanks Katye and Carlos!) After a smooth flight in, renting a car and settling into our hotel, we headed to Santa Monica for a day of lunching by the water, shopping and strolling along the beach. Friday we did all things Hollywood including a stop in Beverly Hills for breakfast, taking in the sites of Hollywood Boulevard and taking ourselves on a self-guided tour of celebrity homes in the Hollywood Hills (thanks to the $5 map you can buy on the street!) My favorite house was Jay Leno's...Dr. Phil's wasn't too shabby, nor was Halle Berrys! Saturday we spent the day driving along the coast from Santa Monica all the way to Long Beach. We stopped along all the beach towns to check out their shops, indulge in some tasty treats...and even took a little break at Trump National Golf Club for an afternoon cocktail overlooking the SPECTACULAR sites around Catalina Island.

Here was the view we enjoyed over a glass of wine. Saturday night we dined at Gladstone's in romantic and such amazing food.

But of course, the real reason we decided on this last minute trip was to attend the Los Angeles premiere of Vidal Sassoon The Movie.

The film is produced by Michael Gordon, the founder of Bumble and bumble. and my former boss in New York City. Michael is unique in the sense that he possesses such an incredible business sense, but at the same time, is unmistakably creative and innovative. Being that he's talented in both areas meant I knew viewing this film would be an opportunity I absolutely couldn't miss. The film premiered on Friday at the Sunset 5 Theater in Hollywood. It was impossible for me to wipe the ridiculous smile off my face that was there throughout the entire movie...even though I knew how silly I must have looked. Partly, I was fascinated by seeing Michael again and being reminded of his passion and eloquence, but also, the history and biography of Vidal Sassoon and his contributions to fashion, beauty and the overall image of women today was mesmerizing. As if the film itself wasn't enough, the surprise appearance by Vidal following the screening capped off the perfect evening.

A little dinner and drinks with my dear friend from Bumble, Carlos...and the evening was complete.

I won't go into the exhausting details of our attempt to get home despite a major blizzard encompassing the entire Midwest...but it was exhausting and threatened to taint our perfect trip. Yet sitting here writing this with my babies tucked in their beds means all is well in the world. After a weekend away, Jeff and I are refreshed and rejuvenated and ready for our next challenge...undoubtedly, the remodel. More to come on that tomorrow! In the meantime, we had the pleasure of watching our little friend Elouise today (yes, I wrote this last night and am now adding to it). How precious a gift are little girls!

Monday, February 14, 2011

Happy Valentine's Day!

Happy Valentine's Day! This marked Gloria's first official Valentine's Day and she added a great deal of noise to the day. She has two little teeth just BEGGING to poke through...if only they would to spare her anymore agony. She's not been eating well and fussy in general...nothing out of the ordinary for my little noise maker, but this time, for good reason. Here are the girls with their Auntie Kristen who of course came over with pockets full of goodies:

Speaking of noise makers, today is also my dear mother's 66th birthday! We celebrated with a surprise lunch with my dad and brothers, cousins Julie (Bulie) and Jessica and the grandkids (those not in school anyway). It was a lot of fun and my mom was sure to let us know how memorable it made the day for her. Here were a few quick shots I managed to snap:

Tomorrow is what we HOPED would be demolition day...yet tomorrow will come and go without so much as the swing of a sledge hammer. We are patiently (impatiently) waiting on the arrival of our windows before we start the demolition process. While theoretically, we COULD demo tomorrow...the problem arises once everything is cleared out and it's time for the next step...framing and installing the windows. If the windows aren't here, the framing and install can't happen. So yes, we could demo tomorrow and sit in the house with the main level demolished twiddling our thumbs waiting for the next step to happen...OR, we can wait an extra week or so and have the windows here and ready to install. Ultimately, the project doesn't finish sooner by demoing why not wait and stay settled while we can. So...that's the plan. Once we have the official delivery date for the windows, we'll work backwards and start demo one week prior so the job site is 100% cleared and ready for the exterior contractor to bring his crew in.

In the meantime, Jeff and I are jetting out of town this weekend for a little relaxation before our life is turned upside down again. We are spending the weekend in Los Angeles to see the premiere of a documentary that my former boss at Bumble created.

Here's the web address so you can read more about his work: I am SO looking forward to seeing it and reconnecting with so many of the people that were apart of my life at Bumble. Also looking forward to sharing more about our experience when we get back. A huge thank you to our friend Angela who lent me suitable attire for such an event...and another huge thank you to my parents for caring for our children all weekend. It's no easy job and we appreciate it SO much!

This week my plan is to get detailed pics of the house pre-remodel. I'll be sure to share them with you when I do since we really haven't had many people in this house at all (no furniture + no dishwasher = not ideal entertaining home). I am also planning to do a feature on the basement which you really haven't seen much of. Accompanying it will be our plans for its temporary facelift until the big overhaul happens down the road. For now, it will serve as a fantastic playroom for the kids. Finally, here are a few pictures of two of my favorite Valentines:-)