Best Laid Plans

IMG_1856 Time to bring on the "before" pictures! As I mentioned in my previous post, we recently purchased a new home (mess).  Located more in the heart of Los Angeles than our last home, our 1940s fixer currently sits at 1130 square feet and is a two bedroom one bath. Our new Hollywood fixer is quite the project.  Not only are we fully renovating the house, we are also doing some minor additions to add to the square footage.  With the expansion, we needed to bring in the big guns along with our general contractor this time around.  We have been working with an excellent architect (Myrle at MDM Architects for any Los Angeles locals), and he and I have come up with some great solutions to maximize the floorpan and really make it work for our family. Below is what our floor plan currently looks like: Existing FP   And, here is what our floor plan will look like in a few months: final_architect_plans_breakdown   In addition to making the home more functional for our family, it also tacks on an extra 200 or so square feet.  A little crazy, huh?  Lets break this down...

Hall Bath

hall_bath The original hall bathroom has been a problem.  All of the sinks in the house have been tilted at a 45 degree angle, removing so much usable space.  The door also opens directly into the toilet, which I imagine is awkward to say the least. IMG_4203 IMG_3840   In this bathroom, everything needs to go.  Not only is it aesthetically disgusting, but the subfloors and drains have been destroyed over the years.  When you walk inside of the bathroom, the carpet (yes, carpet), gives beneath your feet, letting us know that there are structural problems lurking underneath. To open it up, we are also reversing the location of the vanity and the toilet, and squaring off the vanity itself so that we gain that extra corner of living space.

Master Bedroom

master_bedroom   Right now, the master is very... grey.  And, while I am always a lover of grey, for once I don't mean this in a good way. IMG_4198 Right now, there are only two windows in the space, and they are right next to each other at a 90 degree angle.  In order to add more light to the space and also even it out, we are going to be adding one more window on the opposite side to frame out where the bed will go.  We will also be adding french doors to the back wall to add an extra entrance to the backyard. IMG_4199 The existing closet in the master is tiny, so we will be adding a walk-in closet to the master bath.  Meanwhile, we are going to remove the closet that stands and add it to the floor area of the room. In addition to taking out the closet, we will also push the entrance doorway further into the hallway, which will add a full two feet to that side of the room. IMG_4200

Master Bath

master_bath This is the big one.  In order to make this house work for our family, and to add value for resale, we need to add a second bathroom. Below is what our new bathroom looks like now. IMG_1866   See that inset patio?  Yeah.  That will be the new bathroom. Since we are starting from scratch, we are able to pull out all the stops and add in what we want, which is really exciting.  Double sinks, a separate tub and shower, walk in closet... it will be epic.  (And, this means I finally have a place for that clawfoot tub I bought years ago!  Although, it will need a new paint job to coordinate with this house.) You'll also notice the wide doorway entrance into the bath area.  The name of the game with this house is wide doorways and open space, which should make our tiny home feel much larger than it really is. Speaking of opening everything up...

Kitchen, Library, and Laundry

kitchen   It's impossible to talk about these three rooms separately as they are so closely linked together. I need a big kitchen - that's not really negotiable when we are looking for a house.  So, in order to allow for this extra large, U-shaped kitchen with an island, we are adding a corner to the house and building out five feet into the laundry area.  We are also stealing three feet from the library side to further expand the space. Right now, the laundry area is a long, awkward, empty room, so I'm sure it won't mind giving us a few feet for the kitchen. IMG_4196 IMG_4197We will be removing the window and adding a glass door next to the washer and dryer for backyard access.  It's probably for the best that you can't smell these photos, because the subfloor reeks of pet urine.  We are very much looking forward to replacing that and adding floors.  We also need to move the plumbing for the washing machine as we will need the appliances to sit side by side. IMG_4192 The kitchen will be blown open to say the least.  One of the renters clearly updated the cabinets at some point of time, but they are the cheapest of the cheap.  The tile is also cracked and breaking apart, and whoever DIY'd this mess forgot to add grout. IMG_3829 The last remodeler of this home clearly loved their corner sinks... say goodbye, sink! This library entrance from the living room will be opened up with a five foot doorway. IMG_3831 ... And we will remove the purple. IMG_4182 IMG_4183 Yikes.  Unfortunately, we discovered that the textured wall is not paneling, but drywall.  I had no idea they even made drywall this way, and it is terrifying.  If it would have been real paneling, we would have kept it, but alas, it was not meant to be.  It will all be removed and replaced with ordinary drywall, and this will also give us the opportunity to add insulation to this room.

Living Room

IMG_4186 Considering everything else that is going on with the house, the living room is getting off easy.  Overall, it's in pretty good shape.  The room definitely needs a fresh coat of paint and the floors to be refinished, but the bones are good.  Believe it or not, underneath the ugly gold facade is a beautiful brick hearth that needs a good cleaning.  (And a bong.  The last renter left a bong for us in the fireplace.  Ugh...)  The mantle has seen some abuse from the last 30 years of tenants, including nails in the face , but it's nothing some good wood filler can't fix.  We are also adding in recessed lighting to brighten up the space.

Ever's Room

IMG_4204 Like the living room, Ever's room will be an easy update.  Refinished floors, a fresh coat of paint, a new ceiling fan, and a small closet update will finish it off.  Oh, and new window treatments, of course. IMG_4205 Clearly, we have a lot to do.  And, not only are we living in the renovation again, but we are living in it with a toddler.  Wish me luck, friends.  And, send alcohol. xoxo.    

Onward And Upward

IMG_1856 ... And then we bought another house.  A fixer that we're completely gutting from top to bottom. IMG_4299 ... And before that, I had my son, Ever, nearly 21 months ago. There.  Now you're all caught up.  Let the renovation documentation begin. xoxo.  

Curtain Call

Wow... where to start?  Perhaps with a "where have you been?!" update.  Well, for the last 5 weeks I have been on location helping out the rest of the visual effects team at my company to supervise a movie we've been working on.  It's been long hours on set, plus I still have to be at the office whenever I'm not on set to catch up on all of the work I missed throughout the rest of the week.  So, lots of 6-day weeks, 70 hours a week, and it hasn't left me with a whole lot of "blog updating" time.  I appreciate you guys being ever so patient with me, as usual.  After a month of writing nothing sometimes I'm shocked I still have readers at all! Secondly, today is my one-year blogiversary, so Happy Birthday, OPD!  About 150,000 views and 60 posts later, I'm still here, and I appreciate all of the support, the comments, the encouragement, and everything else that you guys provide that keeps me going.  I've gone through some serious ups and downs with the blog... sometimes updating 3 times a week, sometimes updating once a month, all depending on time and inspiration.  I've made the decision that I'm not going to write anything unless I'm really inspired about it.  Quality vs. quantity.  I'd rather give you guys one really cool project plan rather than 10 iffy project plans.  And, since I'm doing this for fun, because I enjoy it, I'd like to keep it that way.  Fun.  If I stress myself out about getting another 20 posts out a month, it's not fun for me anymore, and I'm sure you guys could read it in my tone if I'm not really feeling it in the post. Last words before I actually get going on my post... a few updates on things that I promised I'd keep you updated on.  The plants in the backyard are now totally dead.  Experiment failed.  The plants in the front yard, however, are still thriving.  I'm starting to think that the backyard is a soil issue rather than a me-being-awful-at-taking-care-of-plants issue.  Although, I'm sure my negligence doesn't help.  I'm still loving our red door, Gaby and Andres are talking about coming over for another build after we finished their awesome kitchen island, and I've managed to go down another size.  (Hooray size 2!)  Meeting with my trainer is the only thing in the entire world that de-stresses me, so at least my weight is on track, even when the rest of my life seems a bit insane! Okay... back to business.  I totally splurged the other day, and I must share because I love them.  We have had some house guests over the past few weeks, and we were looking into getting new sheets for one of our guest beds at Crate and Barrel.  As we're poking around, sheets are very conveniently located right next to window treatments and hardware, and I spotted these.  Finally, the perfect curtains for our bedroom!  I was looking for a pattern that I absolutely loved with grommets, and these fit the bill.  The grey is very slightly darker than our walls, so they blend in yet still add a bit of soft texture. They took a few weeks to arrive at our house, but I was finally able to get them up. We've been having a serious sun issue in our bedroom.  I can't sleep in at all, and I think that's partially due to the fact that the sun streams in super bright every morning.  We have the light shades over the windows that we installed a while ago, and they help, but it's really not enough.  Plus, when we have house guests, anyone standing in the kitchen can look straight through the atrium window into our bedroom.  As much as we enjoy having our family and friends stay with us... we don't like them that much.

On a quick side note, I'm not totally sure how people install curtain rods without a ton of tools.  On the instructions, it said that all you needed was a screwdriver and drill, but I call shenanigans.  I had out my drill, hammer, bit set, level, measuring tape... I had serious gear.  Then again, I like things to be precise.  (I don't want un-level curtains after all!)  So, after about an hour of futzing, they were up!


Perfection.  They don't block out all of the sun, but they definitely make a serious dent, and I'm sleeping much better.  (Perhaps partially due to the exhaustion of coming home from set at 6:30AM after working all night, but I won't account that into the awesomeness of our new curtains.)

My other splurge of that day was the curtain hardware.  I really liked that this style didn't have any super fancy finals.  It's very streamlined and contemporary, which I think goes really nicely in our soft grey bedroom.  We like to keep our bedroom very minimal, and this fits into that.

Also, here's a quick close-up at how our shades and curtains fit together.

I'm kind of in love.  After looking for the perfect curtains for months, I'm so thrilled with these.  I'm even going to say they were totally worth the splurge.  (My sleep is priceless, after all.)

On a totally different note, I also bought myself a little present that arrived on Friday:

Does anyone else have one?  I'm pretty excited to play....

Size 4

I know that you guys come here for building plans and home improvement reading, but today I'm taking a slightly off course topic due to a momentous occasion that happened over the weekend.  For the first time (possibly ever), I went jeans shopping and fit into a size 4.  I'm pretty sure confetti dropped from the ceiling when I was able to easily button them up.  (Ladies, especially, you know what I'm talking about.)  So, for today, instead of home improvement, I'm talking about SELF improvement. After I got married, I put on some "love" weight.  When I was coming up on my one year anniversary, I realized that I had put on 10 lbs since my wedding day.  That was my reality check moment that it was time to start taking better care of myself.  If I kept gaining 10 lbs a year for a few more years I would be in some serious trouble.  Especially since diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and being overweight naturally runs in the women's side of my family.  I want to live long enough to renovate quite a few more houses. So, last October, I signed up to get a trainer at my gym, 24 hour fitness.  She taught me how to eat and what to do, and I realized that I had been doing everything completely wrong.  Yes, I was eating a salad, but with all of the cheese that I had on it I may as well have ordered a Big Mac. My first question to anyone who has successfully lost weight has been "how did you do it?".  So, for today's post, I'm going to share how I did it. BTW, as my dear friend Stacy says, everyone loves a good before and after.  So, as embarassing as this is, here is my "before" and "after":

Ugh, just looking at my chubby picture makes me cringe.  And, yes, I change my hair color probably about as often as I change my socks.  As a side note, neither one of these pictures has been photoshopped, other than to format them.  Anyway, lets get to it, shall we?

Step 1: I Changed My Mindset

Here's the industry secret that no one in Hollywood talks about.  Everyone knows that magazine and promotional photos of celebrities are photoshopped.  Yes, every single picture.  I even photoshop all of my furniture pictures to give them a little extra "pop".  (Adjust the brightness here, color correct there... you get the gist.)  What they don't tell you, is that all of the actors and actresses have beauty work done in picture, too.  I can't tell you how many "digital facelifts" the companies that I've worked for have done.  We've cleaned up acne, made people thinner, removed "turkey necks"... the point is, even the people who are paid to be perfect, well... aren't.

So, instead of focusing on being "skinny", I focused on being "healthy".  I will never be a size 0.  It's not in my genes.  I can only be the best, healthiest ME.  I stopped focusing on the scale and the numbers and started focusing on what I was able to do.  When I started working out again, after not going to the gym for about a year, doing 15 squats was hard.  Now I'm doing 15 squats, 3 reps, while holding a 45 lb bar.  I'm stronger and faster than I've ever been, and the more I keep at it, the better I'll be.

The other thing to keep in mind, is that between my "before" and "after" picture, it's only a difference of about 7 lbs.  I've replaced muscle with fat, and since muscle weighs more, it makes the weight loss seem minor.  I weigh more than I did when I got married, but I'm a size smaller.  Bottom line, I haven't let the scale dictate my success.

Step 2: I Stopped Eating Crap

I'm a vegetarian, and there is a good and a bad way to be a vegetarian.  You either eat a lot of vegetables, or you eat a lot of bread and sugar.  Clearly, I used to be the "eat a lot of bread and sugar" kind.  When I wasn't getting enough protein, I would replace protein with carbs to get energy.  This was a bad idea.  Here are the easy ways that I added more veggies to my diet:

  1. I bought a juicer and started juicing for breakfast.  It seriously changed my life.  Before I have even gotten to lunch I have already eaten multiple servings of fruits and vegetables.  My favorite juice is 4 leaves of kale, 3 handfuls of spinach, half a cucumber, 2 apples, one lemon, and one lime.  Nom nom nom.
  2. I eat one salad as a meal every day.  Usually, it's dinner.  The favorite is a ton of spinach, half an apple, and a Gardein Chick'n Scallopini.  (It's basically a seasoned chicken breast, but for vegetarians.)  I also make this salad dressing to go with it.  It says to put it all in a blender, but I just put it in a ziplock container and shake it all up.  Seems to work just fine and make less dishes.
The other thing that no one told me before my trainer, is that I needed to stop eating starches before bed.  Bread is okay, just don't eat a ton of it and don't eat it at the end of the day. Lastly, I didn't take away any of the things that I love to eat, I just replaced them.  I have a sweet tooth, so I eat a lot of low fat frozen yogurt.  (My personal favorite right now is Menchie's Cake Batter swirled with Red Velvet.  OMG.)  100 calorie packs are great snacks when I need chocolate.  And, I let myself have a little bit of mac and cheese on the weekends... but instead of Velveeta, it's Annie's Organic Shells and Cheese, which is lower in fat.  You get the point. Lastly, I love beer.  Give me a good Shock Top at the end of the day and I'm a happy girl.  But, clearly beer is not the best thing for you.  So, instead of living completely without it, I've just cut down substantially.  I still drink with my colleagues on "Friday Hooters Lunch" (yes, that's a thing), I just don't also have a beer when I get home from work.  (Is it weird that I've become a work only drinker?  It sounds very Mad Men, doesn't it?) Bottom line, I try to find balance in what I eat and what I do.  Which brings me to...

Step 3: I Work Out

I know that a lot of people have very little expendable income, but if there's one thing I can recommend, it's to get a trainer.  I still would have no idea what I was doing if it weren't for my awesome trainer, Zabrina.  She holds me accountable, punishes me when I don't log my food, and challenges me to constantly be better.  What a lot of people don't know about a trainer, is that you don't necessarily have to go three times a week every week.  Even if you go once a month, he/she will set up the rest of your work outs for you.  I have a calendar that tells me 5 days a week what my work out needs to be.  It's awesome.  So, today, for example, I know that I have to go do 40 minutes on the bike, Alpine Pass level 9, and then i also have to do 20 minutes of elliptical at a level 6, 8, 10, 8, 7, changing the level every 4 minutes.  It takes all of the thinking out of it, and all you have to do is... well... go do it.  Bottom line... you can still get the benefit from a trainer and save a TON of money.  And, in my opinion, an investment in yourself is always a good investment. My goal is always to work out 5 days a week.  Sometimes I only make it 4, that's kind of the way it goes.  But, I make time for it.  I saw a pin on pinterest that quoted Gwyneth Paltrow saying: "The reason that I can be 38 and have two kids and wear a bikini is because I work my (expletive) ass off.  It's not an accident, it's not luck, it's not fairy dust, it's not good genes.  It's killing myself for an hour and a half five days a week, but what I get out of it is relative to what I put into it.  That's what I try to do in all areas of my life."  Makes a lot of sense, doesn't it?  We put so much into being the perfect wife/mother/employee/child/everything that it doesn't add up not to put that much effort into our health.   Anyway, take what I say with a grain of salt.  I am not a health professional, just a girl who got fit with some great, professional advice.  But, this is what worked for me.  I've put in the effort in and kept a realistic attitude about my lifestyle.  That's my big secret. I'm also hesitant to say my picture from the weekend is an "after" picture.  I know that my health will be a work in progress forever.  Once I say I'm "done" is when I'll let go and start sliding backwards.  But, overall, I'm happy with myself right now, and that's what matters. PS - thank you for listening to my off-topic post.  I realize that it's been a while since I've posted plans because Tubby has taken center stage, but I promise to post new plans for you later this week 🙂

Can They Even Dye My Eyes to Match My Gown? Uh huh!

Since I've already bored most of you with some serious scrubbing details, lets just say that the scrubbing continued for a few more hours until I was left with this: Which is about as good as it was going to get.  Basically, we got it to the point where there was no more caulk or paint left on the tub and every crevice was smooth to the touch.  We also cleaned it super deep so that when you touched it there was no more dust/dirt/rust/disgusting grime on your hands.  It was exhausting, and I was so excited to move on to the much anticipated next step... priming! I always prime with KILZ for all of my woodworking projects, but this time it was especially important to use since it also has a built in stain-blocker and sealer.  Don't want any gross-ness from Tubby's former life sneaking into its new makeover. To apply, I used a foam roller to get a nice, even coat without brushstrokes.  For the hard to reach areas at the end I used a brush, but I found that the foam roller covered about 98% of the surface. One quick coat of primer later and it was already looking a million times better. The great thing about primer is that it doesn't have to be completely even.  I've found that a solid, thin coat is better than multiple coats or glopping it on to try to force it to be more even.  At this step, it's not about the look, it's about the coverage. Before I get into the painting part, I have to tell you guys the story about the paint, mainly because I'm sure most of you have had this experience in one form or another.  My husband and I were at a big box store to purchase the paint for the outside of the tub.  We found the perfect color based on our very thought out game plan and color palette regarding our future guest bathroom.  I get up to the place where they mix the colors for you, hand him the swatch, and I start talking to Brad about how glossy we want the finish to be.  I believe I said something like, "well, we should probably go with semi-gloss since it's for the outside of the bathtub and it might get wet..." and the paint mixer says "wait, you're using this paint on a bathtub?"  Oh boy. Clearly the kid did not understand that it was a vintage, cast iron claw foot rather than an acrylic tub like they sell in store.  As I continued to try to explain to him the game plan, he brought over another associate who confirmed to me that it definitely would not work and that I needed a special kind of paint that had to be special ordered and bla bla bla.  I assured them that I was not crazy and that it would work.  (Haven't they seen Sarah's House Season 2?  Psh, clearly not.)  To make matters worse, somewhere in the conversation the second associate said, "Are you sure you want to go with this color?"  Burn.  So, after about 10 minutes of them insulting my color choice and general DIY knowledge and skill, I gave them both my most charming smile and said, "Okay, just mix me a quart of this paint in semi-gloss... please."  (BTW, my husband, the nicer counterpart in our relationship, had his head buried into his hands during most of this.  I later apologized for embarrassing him in the store.  Wouldn't be the first time.)  Usually I'm very chatty with the paint mixers... this time it was quite quiet. Anyway, the point of that long story is that it makes me absolutely crazy when the sales people try to talk me out of things.  Don't they want to make a sale?  I know they probably get a lot of crazies coming into their store, but I always go in with plenty of research under my belt to explain away the crazy... at least to myself.  Luckily, this isn't as common as the sexist power tool dispute.  You know the one, ladies.  It's when you go into a big box store and have a few questions about a power tool and they answer all of them while looking at your husband.  Ugh. Putting this story temporarily on pause (oh yes, there's more), lets move on with the painting.  I ended up purchasing Wishing Well in semi-gloss from Valspar.  I bought the kind that has paint in primer in one for some additional coverage, even though I had already primed.  (Better safe than sorry, right?) I used three coats to get an even finish.  Here's a quick progression between the first coat and the last coat so that you can see how the extra time and coat-age makes a difference:
First coat of paint
After three coats of paint
See the difference? Once the paint was nice and dry we put the feet back on that we had prepped last weekend.  Luckily, this step was super easy since they were just held on by a nut and bolt.  We did purchase new nuts, bolts, and washers for the feet since the old ones were so rusted.  I think it cost us a grand total of $2.13.  In my mind, a totally worthwhile purchase. Here's a closer look so that you can see exactly how the feet are held on. We're very thankful that the tub doesn't way a metric ton even though it's cast iron.  It's still incredibly heavy, but Brad and I were able to flip it onto its right side once the feet were on.  (Maybe it's all that extra weight training I've been doing...) Ta da!  Pretty tub.  Lemme hit you with a quick "before" picture so that you can compare. Pretty big difference, huh? I still have a little bit of work to do on the inside.  There's a bit of caulk and some stains that I need to work out, but that's just a little more cleaning.  Probably another few hours... next weekend. But, it's finally starting to look like a tub that I would actually bathe in.  So exciting! To end our story with the big box paint dudes, Brad and I went back in today to pick up the nuts and bolts for the feet.  And the paint guy was there.  And I called him a hooligan under my breath to my husband.  At around the same time the paint guy said hello to me and asked me how my project was going.  Drat, he remembered me.  I can already see that having someone open the spray paint cabinet for me is going to become much more difficult.  (sigh.) Anyway, I am very pleased with the progress and even more pleased with the fun, youthful color that we picked out for the tub.  Yes, it was risky, but I think it paid off.  It will definitely be the focal point of the bathroom, which I think is a good thing.  Even Brad, who is terrified of color, loves it.  I wish the pictures did it justice... it is SO much more fun in person.  Anyone else taking some serious risks lately?

Pedicure Day for the Bathtub

Well, dudes and dudettes... I have some good news and some bad news.  The good news is that my new claw foot tub has been delivered to the house to the tune of $325 (which included delivery).  The bad news is, this sucker is going to take a lot more than a weekend to finish.  I was so wrong about how much it would take to get chubby tubby into shape.  But, in the meantime, here's our progress. We're starting on the bottom of the tub since it obviously requires the most work.  All of the feet were bolted into the bottom, so all we had to do was unscrew them to free them from the bottom of the tub.  (Although it sounds easy, they were pretty rusted in there, so it took some man power.)  We're definitely going to have to replace those bolts when we put the feet back on.  They were so rusted that there was no way to salvage them. I had this brilliant idea to use a paint remover/de greaser to get the first coat of paint of of the feet.  I found this one at Lowes and purchased it since it was water based and low VOC.  Sounds promising, right?

So, I coated the feet with the gel using a paintbrush and let it sit.

While the feet were "soaking", the husband and I got started on the main part of the tub.

The biggest problem was the side that will eventually be facing us when the tub is installed.  (Of course, right?)  The previous owners had caulked it into the wall, so it had a thick layer of white mess all over it.  When they pulled it out of the wall, it even took a baseboard with it that was still attached.

Luckily, once we scored the caulk with a box cutter, we were able to peel off most of it.

Once we peeled off all that we could get, we were left with this:

As you can see, there was still quite a bit of caulk left on the top of it, but it was too thin to peel.  So, I took 80 grit sandpaper and started sanding until my hands went numb.  Then I was left with this:

Vast improvement.  Now, back to the feet.

After they had been sitting in the paint remover for a while, I took a Scotch scrubber pad and went at them.  And, the results weren't that great.  The next tactic was to sand the crap out of them.  That was much more effective.

Once they were sanded down, I dumped them into a bucket of CLR to remove some of the extra rust that was on them.

I bet you guys can guess the next step.

More scrubbing!  This time, cleaning off all of the CLR and the rust.  We went through a rotation with the feet... CLR bucket, scrub, back to the CLR bucket, scrub some more... until we were finally convinced we had gotten all of the muck off of them and the surface was smooth.

Then, it was time for painting.  I used two coats of Rustoleum's Metallic Spray Paint in Satin Nickel, making sure to spray really lightly to not get any dripping.

Here's a close-up so that you can better see the finish and the cute little claws.

So pretty, sparkly, and new (looking).  It amazed me how much detail was in the feet once we were able to get through the mess.  There is one foot that's not in amazing shape... it has a giant hole on one of the "toes", so we'll just put that one in the back corner when we're reassembling the tub.

With the feet done, we moved back to the tub.  We've been rotating through almost the same process that we used on the feet on the outside of the tub.  But, instead of CLR, we're using diluted bleach.  So, we're sanding, then scrubbing down with bleach and steel wool, then sanding again, and then bleaching, and then... you get the point.  We're just trying to get the smoothest possible surface so that we don't have any weird bumps or peeling paint in the future.

Here's where we ended up on Sunday night:

It's getting there... slowly.  BTW, here are the before pictures one more time so that you don't have to scroll all the way back up:

When you look at the "before" and the "in progress", it definitely looks like we've made some headway... right?  I had no idea what a big project this was going to be when we took it on - but I can't wait to see the final product once it's all painted with its pretty new claw toes on.

Side note, this thing is an amazing work out!  I was sweating bullets scrubbing this sucker.

What did you guys do over the Cinco de Mayo weekend?  Anyone else take on a project that turned out to be bigger than imagined?  Anyone lucky spend it drinking Coronas by the pool?  (If so, I am incredibly jealous.)  Either way, hope it was a great one!

Chubby Tubby

Boy, oh boy.  Today is a happy Tuesday, my friends.  I have found my new best friend and bathtub, Chubby Tubby.  (Name is subject to change as we spend more time together.) Some of you may remember a LONG time ago when I promised you all a guest bathroom renovation.  Well, friends, we are one step closer to gutting the disgusting blue palace.  Today, through the power of craigslist, I have acquired my new best friend the claw foot tub.  For any of you who have done bathtub research, you know that a new cast iron claw foot ranges anywhere between $2,000-6,000, so I was so thrilled when I bought this beauty for $300.  Even better, I paid an extra $25 for the guy to deliver it straight to my house and drop it into my garage. Other than a chip or two on the lip, the inside of the tub is pristine.  That's always the thing with antique tubs, you almost always need to have it refinished.  There was no rust to be found anywhere, just an ugly paint job on the outside.  (I learned from watching Sarah's House on HGTV that the thing to look for when buying an old tub is to check if there's any rust or cracking along the drain or near the feet.  Those are the warning signs that your tub may not last very long.) Speaking of Sarah's House, she's a big part of the reason I've always wanted a claw foot tub.
Sarah's House Tub
How fun is that yellow?  Ever since, I've always wanted to restore an old tub and paint the outside to add a punch of color to the bathroom. A few months ago, when West Elm was having their bath sale, I picked up this River Rock Shower Curtain loving how fun and youthful it was: Since then, that aqua has been a big part of the color inspiration for the bathroom.  I had originally wanted a clean, white washed look for the bathroom, but since the shower curtain purchase I've been a bit color happy.  Speaking of color, I also love the light blue that is on the walls in their advertisement photo above and how it offsets the teal in the curtain. Not sure what to paint my new tub, I headed over to Design Seeds to see what kind of color palette would coordinate with what I had already planned.  When I came across "Island Play", I knew I had a winner. Time to break down my thinking. Lets all imagine for a minute that the tub gets painted that darker blue color second from the top on the swatch.  (Don't mind my terrible 5 minute photoshop). And, while I'm usually a huge fan of grellow, lets change that color to a deep brown to represent the dark plank tile that we have in mind for the floors. When you put together the whole picture, you get something like this: That doesn't look too crazy, right?  Maybe I'm just on a bathtub high right now, but that all seems to work pretty cohesively.  BTW, the wall tile pictured above was my cheap-o purchase from Habitat for Humanity that I got when shopping for my shutter for the pinterest challenge.  And, of course, I'm sure a few of you remember Napoleon the vanity that I built to replace the ugly pedestal sink. So, the bottom line is that it's all coming together.  Slowly.  But it's inspiring me more and more every day to start the gut.  We keep pinching our pennies and getting one element at a time.  But, I think the next big purchase will be a contractor to fix the plumbing.  That in itself is exciting since that means we'd be taking that step after demo is complete and the gut has commenced. Anyway, the tub arrives at Casa Strickman on Saturday afternoon... looks like I have my weekend project all planned out!  Do you guys have any weekend projects to tackle now that it's getting warm outside?  Anyone else taking their sweet time on a big project?


I was really hoping I'd be able to post a dresser for you guys today.  I've been working on it for 3 full days now, and it's still not even close to done.  I'm still in the building phase.  Not even finishing yet.  It's a beast, but it's the most beautiful beast I've ever seen.  And, I've never been more proud of anything I've ever built.  I'm even hand painting it because I love it so much.  (Trust me, that's saying something.)  I'll continue to post work in progress pictures for you guys on the facebook page until it's finished so that you can get a taste for what is to come.  (Partially because I'm hoping that you guys are as excited about it as I am!) In other news, my garage looks like a lumber yard.
The "active projects" section
The "scrap/save for later" section
The "plywood" section

Yeah, I wasn't kidding.  Granted, this was all taken pre-dresser-commencement, but still.  You know what this means... I'd better get building.

Anyway, what this post is really about is all of the changes you will be continuing to see on the site.  You may have noticed some weirdness going on from Friday through the weekend on the "projects" page.  You were not imagining things, and no, your computer wasn't just not loading the images.  It's me, not you.  Really.

My #1 concern as OPD continues to grow is navigation.  Being a project driven site, it's crucial that you guys are able to easily scan through the archives and pick out which project you'd like to work on.  Pinterest is amazing in that you are able to "pin" what you'd like to come back to and save a post as you see it, but what if you are looking for something specific?  Say that you want to build a bed this weekend.  Where do you start?  That's what I'm working on to make easier.  And here is phase 1.

You'll see on the home page that I've added a "Building Plans" tab.  This is where all of the plans will live now, no longer in "Projects".

If you click on "Building Plans", you'll see that the page has changed a little bit.  There is now a gallery of images, so you can see all of the plans at once.  If you hover your mouse over one of the plans, a pop-up will show up to tell you exactly what the plan is.  Once you click on the image, it'll take you to the project plan.

Pretty cool, huh?

The "Projects" page still exists, and that will stick around for everything that's not a building plan.  Home renovation stuff, general how-tos, crafts that aren't made of wood... that kind of thing.

What's great about this layout is that it leaves a ton of room for growth while maintaining organization.  (And I'm planning for a TON of growth.)  I hope this helps to better organize and categorize all of the information in one easy-to-use place for you guys!

Phase 2 of this overhaul is to create some kind of sorting feature, particularly for the plans page.  I'm such a lucky girl to be friends with a super smart guy who knows a lot of code!  (And, he lets me pay him in Hooters lunches and beer.  How lucky am I?)

Anyway, I'll keep you guys posted as things continue to evolve.  But, in the meantime, enjoy the new, better organization!

DIY Window Valance

Brad and I have been looking for some relatively inexpensive solar shades for our atrium windows for a really long time.  Like, since we replaced those windows last June.  (Psst... for before/after pictures of the outdoor room in the center of our house, click here.)  When we first started looking for custom sized solar shades, we were quoted about $200 per window for these beasts.  Clearly, that was not happening.  Where the major cost of them is coming from is the awkward size of these unusually large windows.  (The ones in our bedroom and Brad's office are about 45" wide by 60" tall.)  We found quite a few great options at Ikea and Bed Bath and Beyond, but none of them fit exactly to be an inside mount, which is what I really really wanted.  Oh, and I also wanted a dark grey color to coordinate with all of the different interior rooms of the house and also the exterior atrium paint.  Plus, I've been told that grey is kind of my color.

One of the naked atrium windows

So, after months of searching, and many purchases and returns of said window treatments, we found something amazing at Lowes.


Woa.  Solar roller shades that they custom cut to size for you in store?  Available in dark grey?  And at only $51 for the large size?  Consider my mind blown.  I was literally bouncing up and down while the lady cut them to exactly 45 1/8" wide for us.  I think I embarrassed my husband.  But, whatevs.  He knows who he married.  Someone who gets unbelievably excited about inexpensive custom window treatments, that's who. So, we brought home our little beauties and the installation was unbelievably simple.  We literally screwed the mounting brackets into the wall and the shade slipped right into them.  Ta-da!  The windows were already looking substantially better.

But... if you look closely... those mounting brackets are pretty ugly.

We all know that a custom window valance can be pretty expensive.  Especially one made of solid wood like I wanted.  So, why buy when you can build, right?

Centsational Girl posted her DIY Window Cornice  a long time ago, and I really loved the simplicity of it.  I wanted to do something similar to hers but with a shorter "body" and different mouldings.  So, here's how I did my version.

Continue reading "DIY Window Valance"

Television Conundrum

Alright, guys... I need some of your genius design opinions.  I'm stumped. Brad and I got each other a new TV for the holidays.  (And I also got some awesome Craftsman tool storage.  I think someone's tired of my garage mess...)  For a long time, we've only had a TV in our "game room" with nothing in the living room.  Weird, right?  Anyway, we've finally got it hooked up and mounted on the wall above the fireplace and... giant womp womp moment.

Holy wires, Batman.  (Oh yeah, and please don't mind the giant cardboard box that the TV came in.)

The step stool is holding our Blue Ray player and cable box.  So that means no functioning fireplace for the time being.  And that's the only heat we've got in the house at the moment.  Double womp womp.  Clearly this is an issue that needs to get cleared up... and soon.

Here's my design dilemma.  We were originally going to put the cable boxes directly underneath the TV, but once we hung it, we realized that it wouldn't leave much room for the mantle that my step father is building us.  And, I don't want cable boxes sitting on top of the mantle.  I want to be able to style it without working out the logistics of putting stuff around the super ugly boxes.

(PS- for anyone interested in the mantle he's building us, I've pinterested it on my "for the home" board.  He's modeling it loosely off of this one from House of Fifty.  And the current plan is that the brick is going to be painted a dark grey.)

So, once the "below the TV" idea was out, my next idea is to put the boxes ABOVE the TV.  But, the husband has vetoed this idea, and rightfully so.  We don't want to have to get onto a ladder every time we want to watch a movie.  That's just plain silly.

Here are my current crazy ideas.  (Of course, all of them involve bringing someone in to put the wires through the walls and studs of our house.)  The first one is to build some kind of shelving like this on the short side of the wall to the right of the fireplace that holds said cable boxes:

But, if I only do that on one side, will it look super imbalanced?  Do I then need to add shelves on the other side?

There's also a giant open area to the left of the fireplace where nothing lives right now.  Should I do something in there instead?  Build some kind of freestanding somethin'?  And, if so, what do you guys suggest?  I'm seriously stumped.

I'm also contemplating framing the TV, depending on what we decide to do with the media boxes.  I don't want it to look too busy, but I also don't want the first thing people say when they walk into our living room to be "Woa!  TV!"  I would build something like this or this if I decide to go for it.  What do you guys think?

Anyway, clearly I'm not loving any of my ideas right now or else I'd be in the garage building up a storm.  If it were your house, what would you do?  Anyone out there have a similar predicament that found a great solution?  Or any amazingly creative designers have any ideas for me?