Thursday, December 19, 2013

I'm Cleaning Out My Closet - My Craft Closet That Is!


Hi everyone! I hope that y'all are having a wonderful holiday season and that you have had lots fun quality time with your friends and family! We have been blowing and going at the casa the past few weeks: we hosted Thanksgiving at our house for the first time this year and were busting at the seams with 14 guests (but so worth it and so much fun); we have had work Christmas parties, friends' Christmas parties and family Christmas parties; and my Mom and I got to preview the first hour of Season 4 of Downton Abbey!!! It's going to be a GREAT season...even though I was absolutely positive that my crush Matthew (sigh) was going to have a full recover after his little fender bender (tear)....
I mean come on ladies...can I getta "Meow"!!!!! We also hosted a "May the December 14th Be With You" party where we had friends over, Matt cooked a massive batch of chili, and we watched the final three Star Wars episodes (it was originally supposed to be a "May the 4th Be With You" party on May 4th...but we weren't in the house yet, so we improvised). After each episode, we watched the the Family Guy version and it was awesome how they track the original story lines!
One thing that we haven't done over this holiday season, however, is decorate the house. Although I was not too happy about this at first...Matt's view is that we need to clean up our existing messes before we create new ones.  And considering that we have been in the house for three months and I still have two rooms and two closets that look like this:  

I can't really argue with his logic. So the first mess that I am tackling is my craft/wrapping closet. This closet was an unexpected bonus room for me. When we first started remodeling the house, we thought that we had to keep the A/C unit and furnace in their existing location on the second floor of the house, but subsequently found out that we could move all that gear into the attic. ***Yeah*** Once everything was relocated, we ended up with a large closet that I decided to turn into my super girly craft and wrapping closet.  The plan was to create a space where I could keep all of my gift wrapping supplies and crafting supplies nice and neat and organized. You can see my original plan for the craft closet here and here. Although it was 100% empty clean when we moved in, it began filling up with boxes and such as we unpacked and, unfortunately, quickly turned into this hot mess:

Eeek!!! This was completely overwhelming! I have a hard enough time keeping my closets organized when they start out somewhat put together...but it is completely different when things have become so bad that I am scared that I will be swallowed by the avalanche of crap stuff that comes tumbling out as soon as I open the doors.

So I gathered my composure, went back to the holy grail of organization instruction and guidance (a.k.a. and followed Jen's step-by-step process for organizing a mess.  First, I removed all of the content from the closet. Second, I organize everything into piles by category (in this case: trash, craft and wrapping supplies, storage containers and miscellaneous). 

The next step will be to go through the craft and wrapping supply pile and further organize it into easy-to-manage categories (e.g., jewelry making supplies, ribbons, wrapping paper, bow making supplies, paint, etc.).  I will show you that in the next post...but for now, let's take a quick a look at how the closet looked after I removed all of the junk!

SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO much better!!!! As you can see from the walls and the ceilings, I decided to go super bright with the paint colors. I did this because there are no windows in the closet and I wanted to make it as bright, cheery and girly as possible. So I chose a bright pink for the walls and a bright yellow for the ceiling. I also added built-in cubbies so that I can easily categorize all of my crafting and wrapping goodies.

Above the lower cubbies, I added two sets built-in wall shelves for additional storage options.

The white wall space above the lower cubbies and between the upper wall cubbies is going to get some fun wall paper. However, because the closet was previously filled to the brim and the wall was not accessible, the wall paper will be installed in next week. ***Yippy*** I wanted some high contrasts and thought that a black-and-white wall paper would fit the bill since the black would pop off of the pink walls, yellow ceiling and white cabinets. I found this awesome paper, which has a similar Moroccan pattern as the Walker Zanger tiles that we have in our master bathroom shower, and immediately fell in love!

Thanks to some poor Photoshop work, you can get the general idea where the wallpaper will go.

The space between the wall cubbies is designated for my wrapping paper and ribbon. I plan to install several dowels between the cubbies where I will hang the paper and ribbon....kind of like this:

or this:
And to kick up the girly factor even more (as if pink walls and a yellow ceiling weren't enough, ha!), I also added this pretty little crystal light that I found on 
I love how the light looks when it is on and the cool shadows that it throws on the ceiling.

Oh, and the yellow ceiling is actually a lot brighter than the honey mustard color that it is coming across in the picture. Once I got the closet clean, the next step was to hit my storage container collection:
For the lower cubbies, I designed them in such a way that I could fit four of the photo boxes from Micheal's in each cubbie. The boxes are about $2.99 a piece, but you can usually get them on sale for $2 each. That is some serious storage bang for my buck! For the larger items, I actually lucked out and found some pretty black faux leather storage containers from Home Goods that fit in the cubbies perfectly. SCORE!

Each cubbie can also hold two 12"x12" paper storage boxes (which you can see in the photo above). After playing around with the storage containers that I had on hand (I shopped the house and also found some other wicker containers that I previously picked up from Home Goods), this is what I came up with:
I want to get four more 12"x12" paper containers for the two empty cubbies on the bottom.  I also need two more white photo boxes for the top right cubbie. I plan to add the Martha Stewart labels to each of the large storage containers so that everyone can easily tell what is in each container. And I am considering wrapping the top of the photo boxes with some black and white material to add some interest...but that will happen some time in the future. So my next step is to get the "craft supply and wrapping supply" pile organized, out of the hallway, and into the closet.  I will keep you posted on how that turns out. But fore now, let's just enjoy a loverly before and after shot before we go!
Yeap, definitely better! Thanks so much for stopping by and have a wonderful day!!!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Laundry Room Makeover for the Ugly Duckling House

Hello everyone! It has been a long time. As seems to be the drill with me, life over the past three months has been manic to say the least. With Thanksgiving rolling around, Matt and I are nearing the end of our "commitment-every-weekend-since-September-1st" marathon. We have literally had at least one commitment every weekend since September 1st, be it Aggie football games, 3 weddings, out-of-town guests, Texans football games, etc.  It has been pretty wild I tell ya!  Today I am stopping by to talk about one of my favorite blogs - The Ugly Duckling House.  Sarah is hysterical and the fact that she loves beer as much as I do, makes me love her even more! Sarah is completely remodeling her home (on top of a full-time job and earning her life does not seem so busy anymore!) and today has asked her readers their thoughts on front-load versus top-load washers and dryers. Here is what her laundry room looks like now:
She mentioned that she likes the idea of front-load washers and dryers because she is limited in storage options with the window and will be able to put a counter top above the washer and dryer. But she is concerned about the smells.  Matt and I purchased our first front-load washer and dryer in 2009 when we moved back from Scotland and haven't looked back since...I L-O-V-E THEM!!!! They can wash a ton of clothes in each load and have all sorts of cool programs that you can use (like delayed wash so that you can load the laundry before bed and it will start washing the cycle in just enough time for your load to finish right when you wake up. Money!). As far as the "stinkies" that can come along with front-load washing machines, Matt and I have found that keeping the door cracked at all times when it is not in use resolves this issue. We also have the automatic dispensers, which I think help significantly because you don't overload the washer on soap. With respect to Sarah's design dilemma (i.e., the window smack dab in the middle of the wall above the washer and dryer), I took some cues from the laundry room design that I put together for our house (Here and Here), and came up with the following:
First off, I selected front-load washer and dryers without pedestals in order to maximize the space between the top of the washer and dryer and the bottom of the window. I decided to carry the color scheme from her kitchen into the laundry room and chose the dark grey washer and dryer from GE and added a dark counter top above.  In order to protect the wall above the washer and dryer from water, I added bright white subway tiles up to the base of the window. Although the space is small, I chose regular-sized subway tiles, because in my view, the larger scale tiles will help the small space seem bigger.  To help with storage, I added three shelves (one just under the window, one just above the window, and two small shelves on either side of the window). I chose the open shelves instead of cabinets because of the window and also to help keep things nice and airy. And again, to keep with the kitchen color scheme, I chose a soft grey for the walls and bright white for the shelves to make them pop.  To hide all of Sarah's laundry room accoutrement, I brought in lots of wooden baskets (I chose brown wooden baskets to bring some warmth to the grey and white color pallet and also to add another layer of texture, but this time in an earthy wood to balance the industrial ceramic, metal and glass textures). I like the idea of using the same baskets to keep uniformity, but if Sarah wants to mix things up, she can add different color cloth liners that wrap around the top of each basket (or can just use an assortment of baskets). And to keep tabs on what is in which basket, she can add one of these handy dandy Martha Stewart label to the outside of each basket:

These little guys are great and I use them on everything! And to give the room a nice finished look, I added some bright white crown molding.  Not only does crown molding give rooms a more tailored look, they also help make the ceiling appear taller. So those are my thoughts! I hope you enjoyed my suggested makeover for Sarah's laundry room and have a wonderful day!  Thanks so much for stopping by!!!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Halloween Invitations {2013} - A Wizard's Workbox

Hi everyone! I hope that you had a wonderful weekend. Ours sure was busy and was filled with a fantastic wedding, football and lots of work-work for me. Good times! I also finally finished putting together our Halloween party invitations! Every month, a small group of our friends tries to get together for a dinner club. They are a ton of fun. It's a potluck, so everyone brings a dish, and they usually have some sort of theme. I was absolutely thrilled when I drew October out of the hat, because that meant that I finally get to put into action my plan for a super fun Halloween invitation that has been dancing around in my head for about a year now...ever since I discovered Mrs. Limestone's AMAZING Halloween invitations over at Brooklyn Limestone. Y'all, she is so creative and comes up with absolutely fantastic invitations and parties for Halloween year after year. I have spent many an hour drooling over her fabulous fĂȘtes! Stephanie's Creature Survival Kit was my initial springboard of inspiration for this years invites. However, instead of a Creature Survival Kit, I drew additional inspiration from my all time favorite books Harry Potter and made a Wizard's Workbox for my guests.
Each guest received a box filled with all sorts of goodies to get them ready for All Hallow's Eve. Tomorrow I'll show you how I made the Wizard's Workboxes, so for today, let's just check out what fun they contained. After opening the Wizard Workbox, our guests were first greeted with the invitation:
It's the time of the year
For scares and frights,
Where witches swarm the skies
And vampires haunt the night.
To protect you from these dangers
There is an ode that you must give,
In honor of All Hallow's Eve
While the ghosts and goblin do live.
The eighteenth of October
Is when our celebration begins,
Please share in the libations
With your most fiendish friends.
The demons are unforgiving
And their mercy can't be bought,
So to forget about this party
Let's just hope that you dare not!

Once the invitation was removed, our inspiring wizards found three cards to guide them through the content of their workboxes:

And here is what each received:

First, in honor of Snape, each Wizard received their own bottle of Disappearing Potion and instructional card:

That provided:
As you start your journey,
Here's some potion you can take.
To hide you from the monsters,
Since your safety you can't forsake!
Each bottle of Disappearing Potion also provided a special warning:
"To Hide You From Your Enemies, And Possibly Your Friends. Because When Evil Comes A Lurking, Who You Can Trust Will Just Depend"
My next bit of inspiration came from Mad Eye Moody, and particularly the scene from the Deathly Hallows where Dolores Umbridge kept Mad Eye's "All Seeing Eye" on the peep hole of her office to keep a close eye (literally) on the workers:

The card provided:
Remember to look behind you
And also watch the skies,
Since evil can appear from anywhere
Try wearing this "All Seeing Eye".
My next Harry Potter inspiration came from the Maurader's Map.  Unfortunately, as hard as I tried, I simply could not make the map disappear no matter how many times I whispered "Mischief Managed!"

So instead, I made sure to provide our guests the following guidance:
And finally a map to guide you
As you make your way.
But the terrors will be following,
So make haste and don't delay!
Once the map was opened, guests found that it had been soaked in blood, EEK!!!! 

And provided its own special warning:
Some blood has been left over
From the previous owner of this map,
So move quickly towards the "X"
Before your juices too are tapped!
And last but not least, to ensure that our young wizards did not forget this ever important event, I gave a nod to the Queen of Halloween, Mrs. Martha Stewart and made my version of the "Don't Forget" box:

So there you have it boys and ghouls! I hope that you enjoyed the invitations, because I had a blast putting them together!

 Don't forget to swing by tomorrow when I give you the low down on how I put my Wizard's Workboxes together.  In the meantime, Happy Haunting Y'all!!!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Tour of the Before & After (Part 1)

Hello world!!! We are finally back after a long hiatus due to extreme amounts or work and catching the flu. No good! But I am on the mend and the fiscal year at work is over (for all you attorneys out there, you know that means a mad dash to make sure you hit your hours requirements, which equals no life) - Oh Happy Days! So now that that's over, let's get back to the fun stuff shall we? We have officially been in the house for a month now. I seriously can't believe it! September was here an gone before I blinked my eyes. In honor of our one month anniversary, I thought I would show y'all some before and afters to see where we started and where we are now. This is coming from the advise of my darling friend Melissa, who oh so kindly pointed out that I am good about showing the "hey, here's this new idea that we're starting" but never following up with the "and here's out it turned out".  So if you're out there and reading Mo, this one's for you babe! As many of you know, our house was built in 1967 by Ben and Rose Green as their family home where they raised their five daughters and welcomed husbands and grand babies. They lovingly and meticulously maintained the house for the 40 years that they called it their home. As soon as Matt and walked into the house, we fell in love and knew that this was the home for us. However, for as carefully as Rose and Ben maintained their home, they never really updated anything and it stayed in somewhat of a 1967 time capsule. Here is what the downstairs living room, dining room and kitchen (you can see a tiny glimpse of its blue walls to the left of the fireplace) look like before with all of their wonderful 1967 wallpaper and dark wood paneling:

As I have said before, this was nice and 1960's cute, but unfortunately not our style. For a temporary fix when we moved in, all of the woodwork was painted white and the walls were given a neutral tan color...and the dining room turned into this:

Big improvement! But now let's fast forward to today and check out what she looks like after we gutted the room, pushed the front wall out five feet, added wainscoting, crown molding, new paint, new windows, a new chandelier, recessed lights, installed reclaimed hardwood floors to the extension and refinished all the floors a dark walnut color:

I personally love it! As a disclaimer, I took all these photos with my IPhone, so the paint color is a bit off.  The tan walls do not read quite as dark in person. After a month, my big excitement is that this room is 100% box free.  However, we have a lot left on the ole "To Do" list:

New furniture
New rug
Purchase and install plantation shutters
Add artwork and accessorize
With respect to the furniture and rugs, these were hand-me-downs from Matt's parents.  Although they are in great shape and super nice, they don't really match the style and color scheme that we are going for in the room.  Now let's head through to the left of the dining room and move into the kitchen! Here is what she looked like when we bought the house:

Although I though that the kitchen was absolutely adorable and super 60's kitsch, the cabinets were not very practical, the white tile counter top was impossible to keep clean and the faux brick linoleum floors were past their prime.  So here is the kitchen now after the remodel:

Although we kept the same footprint, we completely gutted the kitchen and added all new wood floors, two-toned cabinets, appliances, sink, faucet, hood vent, travertine back splash, granite counter top, a breakfast bar behind the stove with built-in storage, two-tone dental crown molding, paint, recessed lights throughout, and french doors in the breakfast room. Whoooo, that's a lot!  And we are super thrilled with the results. We decided to keep the same footprint in the kitchen because it is an extremely wide space, with lots of count top/workspace, so there is plenty of room for multiple people to prep, cook and hang out...and bonus, we didn't have to move any walls (and a massive fireplace that is on the other side of the left wall). Score!  And here's the before shot of the breakfast room:

And here is the after:

My favorite part of this space is definitely the french doors. They let in so much natural light into the kitchen and once the back patio is finished (which you can see through the doors), we will be able to open these doors and move easily back and forth between the indoor and outdoor spaces. The "To Do" list is not too big in the kitchen/breakfast room, but it's still there:
Bar stools for the breakfast bar
Small table and chairs
Artwork and accessories
Dummy handle for the left french door
Add missing molding piece to the left of the last piece of travertine above the stove
And here is another view of the kitchen from the back corner of the breakfast room looking out towards the living room and the dining room to help orient you to the house:

Now we'll head out of the kitchen and into the living room.  Here is a view of the old living room from the kitchen looking back towards the front door and the old stairs. This picture was taken after all of the woodwork was painted white and the walls were painted a light tan:

And here is the same view today:

This part of the house went through the biggest change layout wise. We pushed the front of the house out five feet, which allowed us to add an entrance into the house from the garage, move the location of the stairs (which completely opened up the space...for reference, the left side of the staircase used to be where the house ended), and close off the doorway leading into an old hallway outside of the old master bedroom.  Here is another view of the living room before the remodel looking from the opposite side of the house back towards the front door and dining room: 

And here is the after:

It's amazing how moving the stairs made the whole space so much more airy and open! The pictures don't really do it justice, but trust me when I say it is a huge improvement!  In addition to moving the walls, we refinished the fireplace with dry stack limestone, removed the hearth from the fireplace so that it is now flush with the ground, added cabinets and storage to the right of the fireplace where the wood storage used to be, a new chandelier, recessed lights throughout, crown molding and baseboards throughout, refinished the wood floors, an all new staircase (and staircase accessories), and new front door and side lights.  As you can see, we kept with the same color scheme of dark molding/trim and neutral walls.  You can't tell from the pictures, but the wall paint is Ralph Lauren Suede, so it gives a nice subtle texture to the otherwise simple walls.  Now for the next-to-last view of the living room (have I lost you yet?).  Here is what you saw before when you walked into the front door and looked out towards the sun room/back yard:

And here is what you see now:

Our La Cantina Doors! We love these things!!! These things are great because (as I showed you here) they fold on themselves to the left so that the wall disappears and we are able to completely open inside of our house to the outdoors. You can also see that we removed the old sun room and added a large patio. The plan is to have outdoor lounge furniture in that space (couch, chairs, etc.). That way, once we open the doors, we will more than double the length of our living room with the combination of outdoor and indoor living.  We think that it is so cool and it is going to be AWESOME for parties!

And here we are to the last view of the living room looking back towards the kitchen and the backyard. Like all the other rooms, the living room/back yard have quite the "To Do" list:

New furniture and rugs
TV for above the fireplace
Some sort of decorative cabinet to hide said TV
Mantel for fireplace
Clean and refinish inside of the fireplace
Artwork and accessories
Cabinet and drawer pulls for the built-in
Finish the wine room
Furniture for the patio
Add pergola above back living space
Plants for the back yard
So now let's move onto the master bedroom. The footprint of the master bedroom did not change much, other than moving the entrance and removing the old closet.  Here is what the master bedroom looked like after getting its coat of tan wall color and white wood work:

Although we didn't change the foot print, we did quite a bit of work in the master bedroom.  Here is what she looks like today:

So here, we added new crown molding and baseboards, removed the chair rail, refinished the floors, added recessed lights and a new fan, painted the walls a soft teal color with our favorite Ralph Lauren Suede paint (the color isn't reading right in this picture, but you can see how it really looks a few pictures down), and installed new windows (although you can't see them behind my super DIY temporary curtains made from a king bed sheet and a significant amount of painter's tape...but they have been up for two weeks now, so I think I did good! Just keeping it real folks!).  Now here is a view of the master bedroom before the renovations looking from the back of the room towards the front of the house. 

That used to be our master closet. Although it looks large in the reality it was tiny! So as I mentioned before, Matt used that closet and used all the other closet throughout the house. Fair trade! And one of my favorite things about this picture is the small round face plate on the wall.  That was actually an original 4-prong phone jack from 1967! I had no idea what it was and my mom had to fill me in. It's crazy, because we don't even have phone jacks in the house now! How the times have changed! Here is the same view of the master bedroom today:

The paint in this picture reads a lot more true than the previous one. Here you can see that we also added double doors into the master bedroom and you can see the master bathroom in the background.  We went with the same dark trim and woodwork in our bedroom as well.  I love the combination of the dark trim with the soft blue walls.  It is very relaxing.  Here is out "To Do" list for the master bedroom:
Purchase and hang plantation shutters (shocking!)
Change out switch plates and plugs from builders white to oil rubbed bronze
Finish unpacking boxes
Hang artwork and accessorize
Now onto the master bathroom.  This is probably the biggest transformation of the entire house and most definitely one of my favorites!!!  Here is our master bathroom before the renovation (please excuse the poor picture quality) - first we have the master vanity (taken from the hallway looking into the bathroom with the master bedroom on the right):

And here is the view of the master bathroom from the master bedroom with the vanity to the immediate right:

The bathtub/shower was behind the wall.  This space was TINY!!! I could stand straddling the shower and touch both the exterior wall and the shower wall.  There was no room for two people to get ready in the morning, so Matt used this bathroom and I used its twin upstairs to get ready.  You can't see from this picture, but there was a 6 foot wide hallway to the left of the bathroom and a 10' by 10' "study" (but really, more like a glorified closet) on the other side of the wall from the toilette.  The first thing I thought when we saw the house was that the hallway and 10' x 10' study were not usable space for us, so we blew out all the walls and created a large/proper master bathroom and walk-in closet.  Here is the master bathroom today:

I'm telling you, when I walk into this place all I turn into George Costanza and constantly exclaim "Xanadu!!!" It is such a complete 180 from what we had before! Once we moved the walls, we added a two person shower with double shower heads, body sprays and a rain shower; a claw foot tub; large 18"x18" travertine tiles on the floors, travertine tile "wainscoting"; a large double vanity with granite counter top; a new large window, a massive custom mirror (which you will see in the next few pictures); crown molding throughout and new paint. Oh it makes me giddy!!! I don't have a good picture of how the vanity looks today, so here is an older one (before the mirror frames were painted) to give you an idea:

I love the gooseneck faucets and handles! And the detail in the sinks is super cool. But the best part is that we have enough room for Matt and I to both get ready in the bathroom at the same time. It is wonderful!!! And here is how the mirrors look today (mess and all from getting ready this morning, also with a little Elvis-Matt in the background..Hey Hey!):

And here is our lovely "To Do" list for the master bathroom:
Hang second vanity light
Hang chandelier above the claw foot tub
Finish the trim around the mirrors and remove painter's tape
Install hooks or towel bar to hang towels (so they're not on the shower)
Paint hand mirror oil rubbed bronze
Floor mat for the tub
Hang artwork and accessorize

And last but not least on our downstairs tour is the master closet. I showed you my "Master Plan" for the closet here.  This little beauty is also one of my favorite changes in the house because all of Matt's and all of my clothes fit into one closet! Woohoo!!! This is the first time that has ever happened and this is the first time in six years that all of my clothes have lived in a single closet.  It makes getting ready in the morning SOOOOOOOO much easier! Now I warn you, the closet is still in the unpacking and organizing phase, so it is a bit of a mess. But hey, this is where we are after one month and hopefully by month two, I can show you a beautifully organized closet. So for now, here is the left side of the closet:

The left wall of the closet holds Matt's clothes and a mirrored accessories cabinet (that behind the two mirrored doors on the far left). The accessories cabinet is only about 3 inches deep because we had to steel some room from this closet for the wine closet, which is on the other side. In the middle we have an island with a bench on the end.  And the back wall is one giant built-in.  My boots and flats are on the left, a chest of drawers in the middle with cubbies above, and my heels are to the right, which you can see in this picture of the right side of the closet:

This side of the closet houses my clothes. You can see the rest of the vanity and to my right are more shelves that hold all of Matt's shoes and accessories. I love this closet! It makes me giddy every time I walk in! Yippy, closets are so fun!!! And now for the final "To Do" list for today:
Hang chandelier above island
Finish unpacking boxes and organize/purge clothes
Add pulls to the chest of drawers, accessories closet doors and hampers in island
Make a covered cushion for the seat on the island
Install butcher block counter top on island
Finish off the inside of the accessories closet to hang/organize accessories (more to come on this fun project)
Phew, that is a lot of information for one day! If you stuck around till the end, congratulations and thank you! I will try to post the before and afters for upstairs tomorrow. But before I go, one think that I mentioned on the very first post of the blog was that our goal with this remodel was to update the home to bring it into the 21st century, but to ensure that we honored Rose and Ben's dream and keep the spirit of their home alive. This was something that was extremely important to us throughout the year-long remodeling process. I feel like we accomplished our goal and very much hope that Rose and Ben are smiling down and are happy with the results too.
Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope that you have a wonderful day!!!


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