Thursday, July 28, 2011


No, not thank you - but Grass-ias...meaning, sod thank you. The sod is here! It has been a crazy week. Oddly enough, the house has been busy with workers and I've been busy with house work. Whew. It isn't easy having the cleanest, most organized home in the world. My mother-in-law stopped over the other day and asked if we were having a showing. Nope, no ma'am. My house is literally ALWAYS that clean. I've added to my list of daily tasks: making beds which is proving to be lovely at 11pm when I get to unfold mine and hop in (and believe, me, I'm hopping these days now that the windows are covered), but it also proves to be dreadfully exhausting keeping it made all day with the you-know-who's running around all day. Do you know I have 14 nieces and nephews? Yep, they aren't helping either.

Of course I wouldn't have it any other way, but I'm exploring my capabilities as a home maker these days and where to draw the line and yell at the top of my lungs that this just can't possibly be worth it. In the meantime, I'm feeling amazing being ahead of the curve and staying on top of things. Yesterday was the great clothing shuffle of 2011 which simply put, involved unpacking every piece of children's clothing I own, sorting it, discarding stained/damaged pieces, re-folding and properly stowing away until perhaps another stowaway comes along. The method behind my clothing shuffle madness has everything to do with our determination to dial in the storage room. We found a shelving solution that we believe will work perfectly for our needs and plan to assemble and properly place our storable belongings upon in the next week or two. Of course PLENTY of photos and details to come on that.

But let's get back to the grass-ias. The sod is about 2/3 done and perhaps the most satisfying part of the project. I don't know if it's that it signifies the end of the project or if it really is just that amazing to have grass - either way, it's looking, feeling and functioning amazingly. The yard was pretty much in shambles by the time they showed up. Literally, it was embarrassing. I wouldn't necessarily say Jeff or I have a green thumb, but we most certainly have a tidy thumb and the yard was looking everything but. The parts that were bad were patchy - bits here and there where concrete was removed or materials sat for long periods of time killing the grass. So we had to make the decision of whether we wanted to just patch in the spots that needed it with new sod and attempt to blend it in with the existing yard OR have them essentially remove the entire yard and start from scratch. We compromised somewhere in the middle and drew a virtual line across the yard and removed everything from there over and had all new sod put down. The entire yard WASN'T bad and we COULD seed and fertilize and come up with a nice product, so that's what we decided to do with the side that was salvagable. We also had them remove most of the gardens in the back yard in order to create the most grassy play area possible for the kids. We had a new garden laid out on the side of the addition where sod wouldn't have been able to grow anyway.

The sod has been slotted to start for weeks now and you might be wondering what the heck took so long. Well, the truth of the matter is that we used the cheapest company out there. Literally, their bid was 1/3 what everyone elses was. We used this crew on our last project and had the same problem getting them actually over to the house to do the work. But they do a good job and you get what you pay for and...well, we are cheap and we are talking about grass here.

So anyway, I'll stop blabbering because I have to head home now (no internet = blogger at Caribou). Here are the in progress pics of the sod from embarrassing yard to glamorous Grass-ias:
Before - Yikes!

Screen Shot - In progress: our 'start over' line

After - Feel the Grass-ias Love!

Yet to be finished...

Can someone please tell me when my newborn baby turned into this gigantic creature?

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

How's It Hanging?

I'm SO sorry to have left you hanging yesterday dear followers. Our darn internet was down at our house yesterday and I had zero access to the world wide web. ARGH! We need to look into a different internet provider because Qwest just isn't cutting it (sorry to throw you under the bus Q).

So, let's get to the meat and potatoes. The drapery has been installed. Ok, WOW. Like I have said, I am new to custom drapery - but I don't care what kind of drapery you use, anything installed floor to ceiling and crease to crease is going to add some drama. Factor in 100% silk and a chunky horizontal stripe and you got yourself an oscar winning performance.

It's taking me some time to warm up to it. Jeff loves them, like, really, really loves them. He describes them as feeling "rich" in the sense of adding a sense of warmth to the room. I think my hesitation with them is that they have no purple in them and while I don't WANT any purple in them, I'm just noticing that there is in fact NO purple in them. Like everything else in our house, using my friend Jenn to help make selections means adding a level of sophistication that I'm not able to achieve on my own. I feel a bit like I'm in a hotel, it's hard to believe that I'm old enough to actually have a bedroom like this. On another note, can someone tell me how to keep my children out of there?

Ok, let's get to the pictures because I know that's all you're really here for:-) What do you think? (PS - I'll post some daytime pictures tonight)

I'll tell you what I'm sure of, Jeff and I never slept as well as we did last night. The drapery is lined and 'inner lined' in order to filter out the light. We didn't go with blackout lining as neither of us require that much filtration in order to get a good night's sleep...and frankly, I don't like opening my eyes in the morning to complete darkness. We did, however, have them lined in order to protect the fabric from wearing down from the sun beating against them. It really provides a nice cozy room in the morning free of blinding light or risk of sunburn.

You know why else I slept good last night? Because it was Monday night and I had one day old sheets on my bed.

(Here I was collecting the day's laundry)
If you remember back to my laundry post, you know Sunday night is fresh sheet and towel day and it was just GLORIOUS closing up the windows, taking a quick shower, pj's, clean sheets and an episode of How I Met Your Mother (does anyone else think this is the best show EVER?) I plan to post a follow up post to my laundry cycle as I'm still working the kinks out of my system - how are you coming on yours?

Friday, July 22, 2011

Adding 200 Square Feet in a day!

It's in...the basement carpet is in and our home has grown 200 square feet in a mere hour of work. What was once unusable (or rather just plain scary) space is now a fresh and welcoming room for us to use as a playroom. The best part about this space is that although it will function as a playroom for us, we kept it neutral enough that it could easily transition to a family room or more grown up hang out area for our kids someday. Of course, that also means it could function as either such space for a potential buyer if we decided to go that route as well.

With all that said, we love the carpet. The color is a tad more brown than I thought it was going to be, but it still works and I'm just so relieved to have it in I probably wouldn't mind if it was chartreuse. It's soft and comfortable to sit and play on and the subtle pattern adds an element of interest to an otherwise uninteresting space. The painted knotty pine walls are actually rather charming and show all kinds of character through their now monochromatic look. The only thing that we so desperately need now is the light fixtures. With that, it's a brand new space.

You might notice in the pictures that the handy hubs has been busy installing shelves, hanging bars, new outlets, outlet covers and a crisp white baseboard register. We definitely need some pizazz like some artwork on the walls and a few IKEA pieces for added storage, function and fun - but like everything else, we can accumulate them over time.

I hardly had a SECOND to snap a photo of the room empty before the toys started filling the space and the girls started tearing things apart. Here were the few initial photos I captured:

...and here's how the room looked not 10 minutes later...

It's rather bland for now, but it's functional and clean and I absolutely LOVE that. It will be fun personalizing the space with the girls over the coming weeks and months!

On with the show! Monday at noon is the drapery install and Tuesday is sod install. Woo to the Hoo!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Keeping Up.

Yippee! The drapery is here! It's all swaddled, I mean packaged up in a nice little protective wrapping in which I will keep it until its noon install on Monday. As much as I'm dying to tear it open, I don't want any parts going missing hence delaying my beloved install. So, it's been hidden under the bed, out of sight of 4 tiny little hands until George the installer makes his glorious appearance on Monday. Yeeks!

I wanted to share with you a new system I have developed for our household. If systems are not your thing, go ahead and stop reading now before you start rolling your eyes and judging my systematicness. I already know I'm a compulsive organizer and your system-less household is no good here. JK. I'm cool with being a dork...afterall, in grade school, I was known as Sarah "LehNERD"...clever guys! Anyway, from previous posts, you know that another one of my goals post remodel was to get on a laundry cycle. Hubs and I have shared the laundering responsibility since we first moved in together five years ago (just three short months AFTER we got married...yep, lived in different states for three months after our wedding while he finished school and I worked). Jeff has always done the sorting and washing and I have always done the folding and putting away. As wonderful as it is to have my man so eager to share the household responsibilities, the problem is he waits until he's out of clothes before he starts doing laundry. At that point, he does ALLLLLLLLLLLL the loads upon loads upon loads and continually brings them up and dumps the clean clothes on our bedroom floor for folding. This was becoming a sore subject in our house as if I wasn't ready to fold clothes at that very moment the following took place A) the mound of clean laundry grew larger and larger and larger B) The clothes became more and more and more wrinkled C) Tiny hands scattered the clothes all over kingdom come D) Clean clothes mixed with dirty clothes and hubs got snippy with the 3 ladies in the house.

So, now that we are out of full-time remodeling mode and the house is just about clean and organized, I've been trying to come up with a way to stay on top of the laundry and other 'up-keep' chores (like sweeping the floor and disinfecting the main floor bathroom where Miss Newly Potty Trained displays her not-quite-perfected skills). So here's the new system:

1) I started by making sure each bedroom has a laundry basket in it (I like the cute small square ones for the girls closets).
2) I purchased additional laundry baskets (seriously...can you ever have enough?) for the laundry room. One for each of the piles we sort our laundry into (whites, darks, pinks (two girls? FULL load of pinks) and delicates. These laundry baskets are permanent fixtures of the laundry room.
3) I have one 'moving' laundry basket that brings dirty clothes down and clean clothes up.

So far, you probably aren't too impressed. Here's the key to ME staying on track. Every other evening for one hour (AND ONE HOUR ONLY...less if tasks permit) after we put the kids to bed (so from 7-8pm in my case), I collect all of the laundry out of the bedroom baskets and bring it to the laundry room, sort into respective baskets. If there is a complete load in one of the baskets, it gets washed, dried, folded and put away. This process repeats every OTHER night, except if it falls on a Sunday.

On the opposite night as laundry, the routine chores take place in the same time frame as laundry (7-8). So, floors get a good sweeping (ours are mainly hardwood, so a perimeter sweeping with a firm bristled broom followed by a dust mopping), disinfecting of the powder room (I like Clorox wipes) and a sweeping/mopping of the mudroom tile. If I have a few leftover minutes in my hour, I'll pull out the Windex and erase a few mouth or hand prints from the doors or clean the refrigerator with stainless steel cleaner. I try my best to keep my counters/dishes clean throughout the day so I don't have to worry about cleaning up that mess in the evening.

Sunday evenings are my (our) evening off from laundry and chores. All I have to do Sundays is strip sheets and towels and put fresh ones on/out. Nothing like starting the week with a fresh towel and a clean set of sheets:-)

SO, I'm giving this a test run. It seems like quite a committment, but it's nothing compared to having to try and get caught up on a house that has completely fallen apart or finding a place to start with a heaping mound of laundry. I like living in a tidy home and I feel like for the first time in a very long time, I'm running the house instead of me running after the house. One final note, the evenings that Jeff isn't working means we can tag team the evenings task...which means its likely it would only take 30 minutes. Or maybe he'll be in charge of the laundry nights and I'll be in charge of the chore nights so we don't have to 'work' every evening. I'll let you know how it goes!

Tomorrow is CARPET INSTALL!!!!!!!!!!!!! Scheduled between 8-9am tomorrow...YEEKS!!!!!!

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Drapery Update.

Soooooooo...the drapery is arriving TOMORROW! OH HAPPY DAY! I tracked the shipment just this morning which said arrival would grace me by the end of the day tomorrow. Cue the angels! Because the mere tracking number just wasn't cutting it, of course I had to read through each and every word on the tracking page to try and learn more about the new addition to our family. Here's what I discovered: it's TWINS! That's right, there are TWO of them (boxes that is). They each are weighing in at 11 beautiful pounds!?!?! And...well...nothing else. But, that was enough to get me excited. UNFORTUNATELY, I can't get on the installers schedule until Monday or Tuesday of next week (I'm awaiting his confirmation).

All of the hardware is included in our shipment and it is most definitely an option for us to install them ourselves. But at this point, the details are EVERYTHING. The drapery is measured to go NEARLY floor to ceiling (a 1/4" reveal will be left between the floor and bottom of drapery to prevent the fabric from wearing along the bottom hem). If you remember, the idea was to create a backdrop to the bed - something dramatic that really took advantage of the ceiling charm. Here are a few old pics for reference:

So it will be 111" wide, which means the hardware will extend right to the 'creases' of the ceiling where they begin to slope. When in the open position, the drapery will just touch the trim around the windows and extend back to the ceiling crease. SO anxious to see it! It's really going to fill the room up and add another layer of texture and textile (which I so desperately think it needs!).

I'm new to custom drapery although my parents always had it growing up. My mom figured out that she pretty much ordered new drapery for the living and dining room every 10 the investment is not small, but it's a long term one. There is SO much to ordering drapery - type of pleat (if any), your chosen fabric, the 'times full' you want them, lining - if any and type, length, hardware, thickness of rod, number of rings, traverse or non-traverse, stationary or operable, etc. It's mind boggling. A few of the places I checked out were The Drapery Place in Richfield, JCPenny, Aero Blind and Drapery and Hirschfields. I felt the Drapery Place had the best selection of fabrics and their sales staff is exceptionally helpful and has a keen eye for design. The other thing I discovered is that drapery isn't cheap and if you find it cheap, then please tell me where. I had a hard time getting the OK from the boss at home on the drapery. The thing I really thought about is that the majority of the cost is in purchasing the fabric. It takes a LOT of fabric to make drapery, especially if you are using a higher quality fabric that is going to hold up over time. The actual labor of making them is next to nothing. For our one wall of drapery, we needed 21 yards of fabric. Start thinking of some of the per yard prices you see around and you can get the idea of how spendy you could make them.

Anyway, long story short, I'll tell you if I feel custom drapery is a route worth exploring. Jeff and I are both really excited and have already begun bidding the moon (and our neighbors) farewell from our bed at night. I so hope we love them as much as we think we will! Stay tuned for the before and afters coming SOON!

Friday is basement carpet install day! YIPPEE!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Carpets a comin!

Friends, just wanted to let you know that we'll have some exciting photos coming soon. Friday, the basement carpet is being installed. OH HAPPY DAY! In preparation, I've moved all of the toys down to the basement for their final put-away once the carpet is in. I've still been housing some of the miscellaneous toys the girls use on a daily basis in their rooms (from when we 'moved' upstairs in March). But, I'm not all that keen on having toys in Rosemary's room because every so often she likes to get out of bed and play with them IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!!!!!!!! So, I try to keep the pickings rather slim...but without a proper place to store the toys, it's been tricky finding other home for them. So happy that Friday will mean crises averted!

The drapery should also be arriving by the end of the week. However, once we get the confirmation that it has shipped our way, we need to get on the installers schedule. Hopefully he isn't booking TOO far out!

The sod is on its way, but the completely erratic Minnesota weather has made for some scheduling issues. I'm hoping and praying it can still go in yet this week.

In other house related news, my house is absolutely SPOTLESS! I did a final clean, shuffle of stuff to get everything in its final place (except for basement playroom) and the house feels better than ever! I absolutely delight in a clean house and I can say with all certainty that at this very moment, my house is clean. And yes, I also realize that with two children and a husband, this will be its ONLY clean moment;-)

In non-house-related news, we've been busy trying to beat this crazy Minnesota heat. Gloria is nearly walking and Rosemary has become the queen of the one-liner. The things she says are unbelieveable. I have gone into a frenzy of anxiety over my baby starting Preschool in mere weeks. Let's hope the crying spells pass by September! The store remodel is also in full swing and has the employees and customers alike buzzing with excitement! It's going to be quite the transformation! Looking forward to sharing the before and afters with you.

Stay tuned for photos of the final basement transformation this Friday! Can't wait!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

I'm sorry but...

...could it GET any cuter than this? Just a quick video for you of Rosemary as our plane from Florida picked up speed on the runway and soared off into the sky.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Dining Room Light Fixture

Followers, do you hate me? I know, I've been a slacking blogger - a slogger if you will. But the extent of what I would have had to share with you would be:

- Paying bills, bills and more bills
- Getting estimates on sod
- Begging and pleading to the Drapery gods to have my bedroom drapery arrive

In my spare time, I've been COOKING, yes, COOKING! Remember back to my previous post where I referenced one of my goals post remodel was to get back to cooking meals at home 4x's a week. Well, I haven't made it up to 4 meals a week, but I have been doing TWO which I'm super-de-duper excited about. And by the way, we aren't eating out the other nights, we are consuming meals like cereal, PB&J, frozen meals, mac&cheese, etc. Must keep forging ahead in my quest for complete non-frozen meal-ness.

The other thing I love doing in my spare time is exploring blog world and the slew of interior design material on the world wide web. I recently came across an image that had me at hello. This shall serve as my dining room light fixture inspiration:

Can you hear the angels singing? I feel as though there are a million and a half of these TYPES of chandeliers out there - the shade combined with the crystal droplets. But this one speaks to me in a proportional way...the overly lengthy, narrow shades, the dramatic crystals that fall far beyond the shade and the leggy brass arms that are so simple and vintage feeling. I am on the QUEST for this light. So far I struck out at Southern Lights, so my search has gone viral. Wish me luck!

The other thing I love about this image is the visual it gave me of the woven wood romans in a dining room. This photo put my mind at ease a bit since the room pictured has a very traditional feel with the white moulding and paneling, yet the punch of wood tone on the windows definitely breaks up the otherwise white feel of the room and adds a bit of texture. While we lack the gorgeous paneled walls, we do have a sea of white on one side of our dining room with the built-ins that climb the north wall. Here are a few photos of the space for visual sake.

We left our mantel in the original state. Someday, I would love to have the cabinet maker build a big old paneled white mantel to balance the built-ins. But for now, it's nice to have a reminder of the original home. In fact, let's take a look at a few before and after's just for fun:-)

(Earliest 'before' - the MLS photo from when we purchased the home in October, 2010)

(Night before demo began)


Stay tuned for completed sod photos, one more week until basement carpet install and received confirmation that the drapery will ship out on Monday...yeeks!

Sunday, July 10, 2011

What's Cookin'

Although there haven't been a ton of visual changes to the house lately, we've been busy as ever getting the final pieces of our whole house facelift complete. Here are the things I've been able to check off the old to-do list as of late:

- Main level window treatments - ORDERED!
- Basement Carpet - ORDERED!
- Exterior Light Fixtures - INSTALLED!
- Basement Closet Shelves - INSTALLED!
- Small wood floor imperfection - FIXED!

Things left on our ever-dwindling to-complete list include:

- Install sod in backyard
- Install hooks and other miscellaneous hardware in mudroom lockers
- Pick out and order exterior light fixture for front stoop
- Pick out and order basement light fixtures
- Pick out and order master bedroom light fixture (our ceiling still looks like this):

I mean, these are the nitty gritty things and I struggled to even come up with that list. I have the furniture BUG lately and even went and visited the dining room table we have our eye on today just to be sure it would work. We are still on hold with the furniture though until we get the actual house project itself complete. Eek! I just get so excited at the thought of a real couch in this house;-) We aren't exactly able to entertain yet with the house being finished but unfurnished (our friends and family are so kind to pretend they don't mind sitting on our floor;-) but we are anxiously dreaming of a sit down meal in our dining room with our nearest and dearest. I also am SO excited to be hosting a dear friend's baby shower later this year...which gives me every reason to save my pennies up for furniture instead of coffee;-)

Back to the window treatments, here's what we went with for our main level. In the family room, we went with a very simple honeycomb shade (matched to the trim color) that will virtually disappear when in the 'open' position.

We wanted to keep this room bright and sunny and wanted zero obstruction to the view out to the yard. The even better part is the promotion Hunter Douglas was running for a FREE upgrade to the cordless shades. You simply push them up to their open position free of cords for little Go-go to wreak havoc on. The other good news is they are eligible for a tax rebate as they increase the energy efficiency of the windows.

For the dining room, we went with a woven wood roman shade.

These are definitely out of my white comfort zone, but I'm excited about them. They will be unlined, so will not provide 100% privacy, but will diffuse the light and site line from the street. I love that they will add an element of texture to the main level and feel a bit more formal than a faux wood blind like we have in the upper level of our house. The pattern really is perfect for our space as the honey tones pull out the gold in the stair runner, wallpaper and gold framed gallery wall - while the darker brown and gray tones tie in nicely with the floors and dining table we have our eye on.

In the next three weeks, the following elements will be installed:
- Basement carpet
- Master bedroom drapery
- Main level window treatments
One last trip to Southern Lights and we will be able to call this project COMPLETE! Day one of our main level and exterior project was March 7th. Just 4 months later we are finishing up the last of the details. WHAT a journey!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Basement Overhaul.

If you remember back, Jeff and I have been all over the board as to what to do with our basement. We did work on our upper level last year upon closing on the house (refinished woodwork and wood floors, painted all the walls and ceilings, tiled the bathroom, updated the hardware and closets, installed a runner on the stairway, etc). Having just completed our main level remodel, the basement was looking a tad neglected.

Like I have mentioned previously, our initial plan was to do a complete basement renovation which would have included the addition of a 3rd bathroom with large shower and vanity for the kids to use as their primary bathroom. We do not have a master bathroom and this seemed like a good solution for creating additional 'getting ready' space in the house. However, the more we thought about it, the more we decided that, while the remodel would function great for us, in terms of resale value, our money would be better spent putting a master bathroom in. We have a large master bedroom for a Minneapolis house of our size. There's a chance we could squeeze a modest master bath in our existing bedroom, or perhaps by steeling a portion of our office (we have 4 bedrooms on our upper level). After more thought than I care to admit, we decided to do neither project. We have put the kybash on any more major renovations for this house and instead, are working with what we have.

What this meant for the basement is that nothing major was going to change. We would keep the knotty pine paneling that is already existing in the space and paint it. We kept the closets that were already built out in the basement and would attempt to give them a bit of pizaaz. We would leave the tiled floor that's already down and cover it with a plush layer of new carpeting. We would leave the tiled ceiling and give it a little sparkle with two new light fixtures. Overall, the goal was to turn the basement into space we could actually use vs having it remain a dark dungeon we all avoid. I think we are off to a great start.

We started by having the painters sand the paneling and apply a hefty coat of primer as to not allow the stain in the wood to blend with the new, lighter paint color. It has to be a heavy duty stain protecting primer to get the best results. Next, they applied two coats of Benjamin Moore Edgecomb Gray that is a nice transition from the kitchen and mudroom to the basement stairway and play room. We also had new base molding installed to add another element repeated on the upper two levels which we hoped would dress it up a bit. The trim all went our same trim color as the upper two levels - Benjamin Moore White Dove. For fun, the insides of the closets (where toys and dress up clothes will be stored) went Benjamin Moore St. Lucia Teal. We are in the process of replacing the electrical outlets to fresh polished white ones, a new baseboard register will also help give the basement a low budget facelift. We had a new railing installed which we stained to match the floors and railings upstairs - all in all, the transformation has proved to be rewarding! Shall we take a look at the before and afters so far? We shall...

The final piece is the carpet we have picked out seen below.

My parents did a similar carpet in their cabin and the subtle stripe really helps to expand the space. We chose the color most similar to the walls as to keep the contrast low and the space feeling continuous. By the way, the reason the floors look lighter in the 'after' photos above is only because they are covered in paint. The walls were sprayed vs brushed/rolled and because its extra labor for the painters to cover the floors (aka extra $$$), I skipped that step knowing we would be covering it with a mildew resistant pad and plush layer of carpet anyway.

All in all, I think it will be a great place for the kids to run wild in. The best part about the basement is that the side door is no longer in the stairway. Remember this door that nearly plummeted me to my death on multiple occasions?

Well, the door has been laid to rest and was swapped out for a charming little window to brighten the space.

What a difference!!!