Archive for January, 2011

January 25, 2011

A (practically) free room makeover

Although I already summed up our painting experience, I left out a major key piece. The wallpaper. That darned wallpaper. I bought it almost a year ago, after endless hours of narrowing down samples. The only reason I even settled on  it despite my indecisive nature was that I wanted something to put on my wall for our perfectly planned housewarming. Turns out, my “special order” wasn’t that special, as it took over 2 months to come in, missing my party by a long shot. I picked up my wallpaper near the end of May, and in the closet it sat until this last Friday. I figured my $150 or so worth of wallpaper wasn’t earning me any interest, so I might as well put it to some use and execute my year old decorating plan.

After I threw some paint samples on the wall to dry, the hubs and I started to wallpaper. This was my third time wallpapering, and his only time. My first two attempts weren’t quite as successful as they could have been as they were done solo (partner highly recommended for wallpapering!), so we followed the directions to a tee. We measured and precut all of the pieces we would need with the pattern perfectly matched up, filled the tray with the perfect temperature water, and primed the walls with size. I soaked it in the water for the recommended 15-20 seconds, rolled it out evenly and booked for the proper length of time. The first strip went up fairly easy. We started smoothing it over, full of anticipation of what our joint effort could bring. Dum dum dum. There it was. Our first strip of wallpaper. It looked pretty good, except for the sides were curling. Everywhere. We tried a multitude of tools to smooth the edges down, and nothing worked. I felt deflated.

Maybe it was the wall size (primer) that we used? So we tried it again, on another area of the wall with no size. Again, my luxury wallpaper failed to stick and the sides curled up like a potato chip. At this point I went from frustrated to furious. This was clearly not our fault. We did everything right! And here we are, left with 20 something strips of cut wallpaper that just won’t work. I called my resourceful mother to see if she had any tricks up her sleeve, and actually suggested we call Home Depot to see if they’d accept a return. I thought that surely there was no possibility- we had no receipt, bought it a year ago, and then cut it into a bunch of pieces. But no, Home Depot didn’t mind. The looekd up our invoice since it was a special order, and then not only credited us for the cost of our wallpaper, they actually refunded it to our debit over giving us a gift card! I’m sure I would have spent the gift card anyways, but it certainly impressed me. Dear Home Depot: We love You.

The $160 or so refund completely covered the cost for our paint and supplies for our kitchen/ dining room makeover, and since the original wallpaper was bought with a gift card given to us as a housewarming gift, we really didn’t spend a penny! Now it doesn’t get any better than that. And now that it’s done, I am SO happy we decided to paint the full height of the walls as opposed to wallpapering half. So so happy! I’d post pictures, but I think I’ll wait until my wall plans are all finished!

January 23, 2011

A paint by any other name… would still not be fun to apply

Yesterday was wallpaper paint day. A day I had long dreaded as wallpapering and painting are two of my least favourite things to do in the world. Knowing that the end result will be well worth the pain and suffering, I pulled myself out of bed on our day off and headed to Home Depot. I brought in my wallpaper sample, and matched it to a Behr’s Ultra Premium Primer and Paint in one called Pensive Sky. Quite fitting for a city such as this. Our skies are quite pensive. It wasn’t a perfect match, but I thought it paired well enough with the wallpaper without being too “seafoamy” which was my main concern. I brought my $5 sample home, and slapped some on the wall in a little sample patch. In the jar, the paint looks white. Like “I think they forgot to tint it” white. I didn’t see any semblance of colour in the jar, but once on the wall it started to dry a very very light icy baby blue.

I quite liked it, although I did feel that perhaps it wasn’t pushing my boundaries quite enough. And it surely wasn’t anything like the grey that the sample showed. I wasn’t quite sold on it, so when hubby rolled out of bed at noon (apparently not such an eager beaver for the home projects, are we?) and expressed his distaste for it, I was more than open to other options. On the same colour swatch paint card thingy, one spot up from Pensive Sky, was “Rhino”.

I had my eye on Rhino. He was a tad darker than I imagined the “one” to be, and perhaps not as feminine as my subconscious was pushing me towards. It did have a really nice hit of grey though- and I have been wanting to incorportae some grey into our townhouse in the worst way. So, when hubby looked at the paint card and loudly declared his affection for Rhino, I leaped for joy. Not only was this a colour I wanted to try out (despite my slight apprehension), I was getting to paint our dining room in a colour that hubby himself felt like he selected. Bonus!

So, after 4 trips to Home Depot, and 14 hours of “game time” from start to finish (drive through lunch breaks and taping off trim time included), we collapsed on the couch and let the new colour set in. We may have been delusional from exhaustion and lack of food, but we could still appreciate the beautiful colour on the walls. Although I haven’t taken any pictures yet, it looks a little bit like this.

I’m really happy with the outcome, but I can say with absolute certainty that I truly and utterly despise painting. It is so so exhausting. My body just… aches. On the plus side, the whole cost of out kitchen/ dining room paint-ovation came to about $0. Now that will be another post!

January 20, 2011

Step by step…

A very bland dining room/great room just begging for some love.

And the possible wallpaper/ wainscotting combo for the wall right of the dining table.

All of this talk and all of these thoughts of my kitchen overhaul are causing me to go in the entire other direction. No, I’m not changing my design plan, just reevaluating my priorities. I started out wanting to do more, to do things entirely different, and I am on the path to doing less and doing things in the same tone as previously planned. Why the big change? Well, for one, budget constraints are a major issue. There are so many small projects that need to get done that will make an overall large impact if I do finish them, that putting our entire home budget into one project and leaving the rest unfinished seems silly. That, and part of me thinks I really should start with the small stuff and work up from there. As I struggle with my personal fitness- this makes sense as well; start slow, with easy workouts, and THEN run the marathon. Makes sense, no?

Since we are working within a budget (who isn’t, really?), my first way to remedy my “sights set to high” ailment is to work with with what we have. I have hundreds of dollars of wallpaper in my closet, some bought on sale just because they were on sale, other designer ones bought at full retail with a design plan in mind. It seems like a no-brainer to start wallpapering these builder’s beige walls baby, because wallpaper can make a HUGE impact, and will hopefully satiate my redesign urges for a small amount of time. So, my first plan of attack, first thing to check off the to do list is to FINALLY do something with our boring dining room (after a year of nothing).

I have approximately enough wallpaper to create a feature wall on the all right of the dining table. I have toiled endlessly on what to do with the wall because of the darned windows (but I love windows!). No large statement piece of art would be able to go there, an 2 large pieces of art would just compete for attention with the window. I also tossed around the idea of some great custom millwork to display some pretty accessories, but if I’m going to do built-ins, I’d like ot do them right- and right now, the budget aint right. So wallpaper it is. I picked out this wallpaper about a year ago, and although I’m not head over heels for the pattern like I was back then- it’ll do for now. I think I’ll paint the wainscotting in a colour matched to the greyish blue green of the wallpaper. By doing the wainscotting, I can stretch out the wallpaper supply and repeat the same thing on the buffet wall! Now…let’s just see if I’ll ever actually get around to this! Friday’s the plan…so let’s see!

January 14, 2011

Second thoughts…

So, my kitchen post from earlier this week got the wheels a turnin in my head again. I just couldn’t let my idea rest (or put my ultimate plans on hold) until I got a better idea of how much such a project would cost (ie: I needed to comparison shop and see what other deals were out there). Although I’m not big for hiring services over craigslist, I decided to at least do a search and see what I could find. Sure enough, there was an ad for an entire kitchen redo for under $3000. Score! I don’t need an entire kitchen redo, only a paltry little 10 cabinet doors, so surely it’ll be just a fraction of that cost, right? Not so much. Although this second quote was more reasonable than my $1500 without delivery or installation quote, it’s become very clear that to get this job done, and to get it done right is still going to cost between $1500- $2000 when all is said and done. I actually do now think that is a fair price and I completely understand the cost of quality workmanship- it’s just that there is so so much more on my list I need to tackle first, so back down on the priority list is goes. And that reminds me- must start working on that list!

January 11, 2011

All up in my kitchen

This is our kitchen. It was one of the main reasons we decided to purchase our townhome. Overheight cabinets, tons of storage space, and a built in paneled fridge and dishwasher were only the icing on the cake. Our (my) favourite part of the kitchen was the size and layout. It’s open and spacious feel and massive island really made it feel like it belonged in a single family house and not a narrow lil townhouse. I also hadn’t seen this type of kitch in any other townhome floorplan, and that made us feel special. Check out the picture of our exact same kitchen in the showhome. (Our own pictures will come- just not any well lit ones at the moment.)

The only issue is that I’m not a brown girl. I like my chocolate dark, and that’s about it. I’m a white perv, and it takes one glance at my dining chairs or built in media cabinet to see that I’m colour-averse. I can deal with dark wood floors (although my fave are a beached grey look that I’ll reserve for another post), but every time I walk into my kitchen, my heart sings a song longing for white cabinets. As a New Kid on the Block would say it ” uh oh oooh oh, uhh oh oh oh, uhh ohh oh oh, the WHITE stuff!”. Ok, that was corny. Anyways, in honour of my white love, here’s a beautiful kitchen that calls to me:

I really can’t say that I prefer a traditional shaker style off white cabinet over a super modern glossy bright white one, all I know is that I love white in all it’s forms, and I’d be happy with pretty much anything (hold the cheap laminate basment grade cabinets of yore). Of course, the hubby and probably the rest of my family would disown me if I tried to overhaul and renovate a 10 month old kitchen. Yes, it sounds crazy. And it kind of is. But a girl can dream, right?

My compromise (and by compromise I mean my mid-to-long term plan) is to go the two tone cabinet route. I’ll keep all of the cabinet bases, the lower cabinet doors, and replace/ refinish the upper cabinets. It is a lot more work than it sounds, because on top of making my uppers white, I’ll also need to use a white veneer/panel along the side of the cabinets (thank GOODNESS the frames/bottoms/insides are all white!). The supplier that did our kitchen originally quoted me over $1500 for the upper cabinets without delivery or installation. And that doesn’t even include a new panel for the fridge, so the fridge and the cabinet above it would remain in the espresso colour. Will this even look good? Let’s hope so. Here are some examples of kitchens I found that reflect the general idea in my head:

Until then, I can only dream of the days I will spend in my glorious kitchen. I am going to *try* to hold myself back for as long as possible, but I have a feeling that I may get antsy and try to refinish the laminate cabinets myself an paint them a glossy white (is that even possible?). I guess the worst that can happen is that I wreck them and have to get my new ones anyways!

January 10, 2011

And at first, there was light…

I guess in order to get to point B in my master plan to decorate our townhouse, I should probably start at point A- how we came to be in this teeny townhome out in the burbs. When the hubby and I first got married, we lived in an incredible rental suite about 15 minutes away from our current abode. It was everything I envisioned our first place to be; sweeping views of the valley, wall to wall windows, an expansive cobble stone patio, granite counters and a spacious open floor living plan. The only thing missing was that it wasn’t ours. And no matter how much we loved living there, it never could be ours.

And so our hunt began for our very first property. Not being “downtowners” nor “country folk”, we found our perfect neighbourhood in the same city I grew up in. It’s the perfect blend of suburban comfort with a trendy urban vibe, and to boot it’s much more affordable than living in the heart of the city. We knew we wanted a townhouse, but beyond that we were clueless. Geared without a realtor in hand, we limited ourselves to new home builds within a 5 minute walk of a bustling new shopping village. Location really was key, because had we expanded our search just another 2-3 minute drive past that, we would have opened ourselves up to about 9 different communities, but instead we narrowed down our search to 3, and then ultimately 2.

Falling in love with both new home communities for very different reasons, we decided to write a contract on both homes and then had to think long and hard about our priorities. Our original home we purchased had *almost* everything that we were looking for. The finishes were top of the line, the clubhouse was divine, and there was even a promotion that covered the tax, which would amount to close to $15 000 savings compared to the second home we were looking at. But in the end, my practicality won over, and I realized cosmetic things can be changed, but location and specific home features can’t be.  The home we ended up purchasing afterwards shows just as well (sure it’s lacking the composite stone counters in the bathrooms- but then again it’s just more reason to put my own mark on the home, right?), has a very good sized walk out backyard, and an open concept floorplan. I am happy (overall) with our decision, since I wasn’t able to marry the 2 homes to create my dream home, I figured I might as well do it step by step. Starting now…

January 9, 2011

To Do: Decorate Townhouse

I’m not a very good to-do-lister-er. Well, I’m great with writing the to-do lists, just not so much at the actual doing of them. And so, here I find myself seeking a way to track my projects whilst brainstorming the next one. I sit here, in my 10 month old townhouse, wondering what happened to the last 10 months, and why my walls are still builder’s beige and my bed has no headboard? Well, New Years resolutions aside (those alway fail, don’t they?), I’m going to *try* to both check things off my list, and document my accomplishments every once in awhile. If you’re along for the ride, I promise sporadic posting, incoherent mutterings, and poorly lit photos. Enjoy!