Monday, April 30, 2012

The Master

Our master suite was added on to the house in the early 90's and increased the square footage of the house by about a third. The architecture and design of it is a huge part of what sold us on this house. Unfortunately, while the design is good, the construction is/was terrible. Like uncapped live wires loose in the walls, cracks across an un-braced ceiling, recessed lights falling out of the ceiling, leaky pipes in the laundry room terrible. So our budget quickly doubled (and our timeline tripled) while our contractor fixed up the rooms to be what they should have been 20 years ago.

There were a few important aesthetic changes as well.

before                                                               after!
First, removing the carpet in the bathroom (ew), removing the ugly tile surrounding the tub, removing the old broken whirlpool tub, ripping out the really ugly brown shower room (which also housed a fat wall AND a toilet- it was a cramped, weird space and you banged your knees on the toilet every time you stepped out of the shower- it kills me that I don't have a "before" picture), removing the industrial cemented glass block window, removing the superfluous spot lights that pointed straight down to the floor, removing the tiny recessed LED spot lights over the sink that cast shadows all over your face, and painting over the not-actually-ugly but definitely too dark, hot, and non-matching dark blue paint.

And that was just the demo work.  There were also a few design decisions to be made, and tile, fixtures, and accessories to be picked out and purchased.

Ta da!  The space above previously housed a shower, a weirdly thick wall, and a toilet; now it simply houses the shower bench of JP's dreams.  (Seriously, he's always wanted a shower bench; I've never had the desire to sit in the shower, so I don't really understand it, but I'm glad he's happy.)

Here's the "after" pictures:

I could spend a couple thousand words detailing all the changes (and the struggles, the tub alone is a saga), but let's just say there are many, and all of them are for the better.

In the laundry room, which continues on behind the bathroom (through the pocket door to the right in the first picture below), there was also a fixing of pipes, a repairing and rebuilding of the soaked laundry room wall, and ripping up of the linoleum in the laundry room and toilet room.


(new shelf! sometimes the little things are the most exciting)
You're getting a picture of the toilet below because you have NO IDEA what I went through to get it... many weeks, many phone calls, many lost/broken shipped toilet pieces in boxes strewn about my living room.  We also had the cabinet built in to house pool accessories like sunscreen and towels, and higher shelves for batteries and light bulbs because they had nowhere else to go.  

(Yes, previously this bathroom had two toilets. Now it just has the one back here.  It's a few yards longer to walk in the middle of the night, and it's also the one people will use to come in from the pool, but I don't mind walking/sharing in exchange for a much bigger, better shower. Also, the tub in the shower room was weird and it bruised my shins when I walked by.  Also also, having a toilet area a bit further away from the main bathroom area is not a terrible thing when you share a bathroom.  Not pointing any fingers.)

In the bedroom we ripped out the cheap looking built-ins against the back wall, filled in the bald spots on the floor with the carpet removed from the bathroom (our contractor's idea- saved us the expense of re-carpeting the whole room and it looks seamless!), replaced the broken recessed lights, and painted the walls.

In progress (so many weeks of progress, thanks to electric/ceiling issues):


Our room has been a torn up mess since we moved in, so it is beyond lovely to walk in and gain the sense of relaxed calm you want to feel in your grown-up retreat.  We still need to get the glass shower door installed (tomorrow) and the cabinet fronts replaced (next month), but considering what it looked like a few short weeks ago, I'm crossing this room off my list.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears

Another weekend, another bunch of things checked off the to-do list (and another bigger bunch of things discovered and added to the to-do list, I'm looking at you running toilet and broken pool pump).  But first, we had to get some fun out of the way.

We live very close to the Fort Worth zoo, very close, and we drive by it at least two times a day every day. And every time Landon reads the sign and asks when we'll get to go. We've promised him trips twice- once on a weekend it ended up raining and once when my parents came and we ran out of time, but the poor kid inquiries with his trademark mix of hope and excitement every time we pass by. Saturday was the day. After a visit from a pool guy to look at out our broken pump, and a painter to get a quote on painting every other non-renovated room of our house, we headed out.

We became members as an early birthday present to the kids (and because after two visits the membership pays for itself, and you get free parking- but don't tell them that). It's a fabulous zoo. In the words of JP, "Wow, you almost don't feel bad for the animals." The Bear was initially wary of a few exhibits, but she warmed up quickly.

There was a lot of hunching down to see the animals eye-to-eye.  About a second after the picture below a turtle swam right for her and Claire bounced backwards like it was going to eat her. It shouldn't have been as funny as it was (but oh, it was).

I don't know if I've written about this yet, but Claire says, "Hi!" and "Bye!" to everyone. EVERYONE. Everyone and every thing, actually. When we go to the grocery store it's like she's on parade- everyone we see gets at least three enthusiastic hi's, followed by a round of very enthusiastic "buh bye's!!!" as we turn the corner to the next aisle, where we start over again with the "Hi's!!!!." It's both adorable and annoying, depending on the number of people who happen to be at the grocery store along with us.  Her cheerful greetings were no different at the zoo- everyone, people and animals alike, received the full Claire treatment.

 Here is the Bear outside a bird exhibit. Her excitement level can be measured by the volume of her greetings and the height of her hops. She's like a very vocal bunny.

It was a great morning. Landon zoomed around from exhibit to exhibit, excitedly calling out everything he was seeing. At nearly 5 he definitely pushes a few more buttons than he used to, and we've had some actual rebellion in the last two months, but I do just adore his sweetness, especially when we're doing something special. He noted a snow cone truck with the same excitement he noted everything- from real live lions to a common bush with a pretty white flower. I happen to have a weakness for snowcones, so I told him we could get one, and he turned to look at me with eyes aglow and said very seriously, "mommy, this is my most favorite day ever."

After a few hours and all the major exhibits, it was time to go home for naps (JP requested one too). We treated the kids to their first ever, non-road-trip fast food meal, which of course they both thought was the most amazing special treat ever, and Landon's opinion of the day reached epic proportions.  Apparently, the zoo + a snow cone + and a Sonic hot dog >>> Santa.

 This is why you keep their expectations low- it is so fun to blow their minds every now and then and we can do it with so little extra effort/dollars.

Landon was moving to fast at the zoo to ever get him in any of my masterpiece iPhone photos, but he very carefully posed for this one so you could see his new Captain America shoes that make him run SUPER SPEEDY FAST. (We took our first ever trip to the local mall today to get the kids shoes.  I no longer feel like a bad mother for having a new walk-in shower while my kids toes poke out of their shoes.)

After I took the requested photo, I asked if he'd like me to send it to Gigi, and he said no, mama, I want you to show ALL your friends. Little does he know I have a very convenient outlet for doing so:

(love him)

P.S. I harassed JP into hanging up the pictures in our bedroom and bathroom, so the big reveal of the master suite is coming soon!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Be Our Guest

One room in our house is done. Or at least close enough to done to share. This is the guest room and I think it's my favorite room in the house. We have three bedrooms now, and because we don't have any local family (and we left some great Austin friends behind who had better be planning a drive over soon), we hope and expect to have overnight guests throughout the year. Which means I really wanted a guest room- a room I could decorate any way I wanted to be comfortable and inviting and different from any other room I've decorated so far. The kids were agreeable to sharing a room, and I think it's good for them, so a guest room we now have, at least until the kids (Claire) protest their current arrangement. This room has the bonus of being connected to a small private full bath, so it's a perfect space for visitors (and one day, a teenage Claire).

First up, the little connected bathroom. This is the before:

Oh the before. The yellow, the brown, the horrible flowered wall paper that lacked either yellow or brown. And behind the scenes, the tiny pipes, the complete lack of a vent or any form of air circulation, the weird pointlessly low shower ceiling with its superfluous bar and weirdly low shower head.

We took it down to the bones.

And by "we," I mean "we" wrote checks and Roger and his merry men ripped out the everything except the wooden frame. Everything- floors, walls, ceilings, everything. The demo itself took 3 days because apparently, back in the 40's, you put up tile by throwing cement on chicken wire and sticking on the tiles. It resisted all efforts at removal.

And then "we" rebuilt it.

And then we made it beautiful.  Here's the view from the guest room, before and after:

The bathroom is so small it's hard to get good pictures (thus the quantity over quality approach to this post), but I love it. I've wanted to do a grey, yellow, and teal combo somewhere, so I went for it here. The floor tiles are large and dark grey, the shower tiles are white subway, with a glass and stone grey, white, and clear border. The shower is about 2 feet taller, has a new custom door, and new plumbing (behind the wall and in front of it). 

We added bead board to the wall and painted it white; the walls above are painted light grey. There's a new toilet, new sink and vanity, new plumbing fixtures, and new lighting. 

The cabinets have new fronts and there is now a vent to circulate air so you don't pass out while taking a shower. The art is from the Freshline etsy shop.

The amount of items that had to be picked out and purchased for one bathroom was mind-boggling, particularly when it's being done in 30 minute snatches of time at Home Depot on lunch breaks.  But I'm really happy with how it came together.

And now the room. It already had white bead board walls and a curtain rod, but it lacked any lighting at all (which was fun, because for a while this room had our only functioning toilet and it was pitch black at night; there was a lot of hitting the bed frame and cursing).

 To this we added a fan with light, a Crate and Barrel queen bed frame I've been lusting over for years (this will be Claire's room in 5-6 years, so I deemed it a good investment), new curtains, new grey/white bedding (all bargains from Marshall's), extra bookcases from our study in Austin, a small dresser purchased from the previous owners of this house, and a few other accessories I found and loved.


  view from bathroom; art from Marshall's; flower and vase from Hobby Lobby

broken closet door; lamp I love from Target; lots of romance novels and a few family pictures

faux orchid; pretty tray for jewelry and other small things

I still plan to add a mirror above the dresser, a folding luggage rack behind the door, some fun grey/yellow/blue throw pillows, and another nightstand with a bedside lamp.  We'll also get the cream shutters painted white.  Someday.  But if the non-matching shutters and lack of throw pillows doesn't offend you, it's functional and comfortable and waiting for visitors!

(We have a new tag, my new/old house.  I'll use it for each home project and room reveal - there's going to be a lot of them!)