Friday, August 30, 2013

Fireplace Makeover

Happy Friday! I hope that it has been a great week for everyone! Tomorrow is the first day of college foot and I couldn't be more excited (especially since Mr. Manziel is good to go and can start the second half of tomorrow's game - SCORE)!!! So fingers crossed that it will be a good game and not too sweltering hot (Bahahahahahah...not hot in College Station in August, good luck with that one). So much is happening at the house right now trying to get it ready for our move-in day. We passed the plumbing and electrical inspections today - WOOHOO!!! We also started the fireplace remodel. Here is what she looked like originally, right before we started the remodel:
The first problem was the massive hearth that stuck out about 16" from the front of the fireplace and wrapped around the side. Unfortunately, that was just way too much valuable real estate being wasted for me, so out it went! The second issue was the weird large cubbie to the right of the fireplace. Being from Houston where we might get one fireplace-worthy-day a year, Matt and I had no idea what that space was used for...and thought it was just a strange cubbie. We lived in the house for three years before one of my friends that lives up north happened to stop by and informed us that is where you are supposed to store your wood. Seriously??? How much wood does one person need (that's what she said)????  Here is what the fireplace looked like after we removed the hearth and added built-in cabinets to the right in the old wood storage cubbie.

Oooo, and gotta give a quick shout-out to the new floor color. I am so digging the dark chocolate brown. Yummy!!! So now back to the fireplace, the third problem came to light as the remodel progressed.  Although the Old Chicago brick was great in the house originally, it did not play well with our new cream walls, dark trim, and dark wood just came across too orange'ish-pink'ish-salmony (if that's even a color).  We first pondered white-washing the brick, but felt like that still wouldn't fit in with the rustic-glam look we are going for in the living room.  So we decided that our best option would be to cover the brick with dry stacked limestone. This picture below gives you an idea of what I am envisioning - a combo of elegant and rustic (and P.S. I L-O-V-E this living room, it is FAB!!!):
So here's the game plan to beautify the fireplace and bring it in line with our current decorating scheme:

1. Remove massive hearth
2. Pick out limestone
2. Cover Fireplace with dry stack limestone
3. Add new rustic/reclaimed wood mantel
4. Add plug and cable for future TV
Our slab of stone arrived yesterday.  We chose a cream limestone overlay that will sit right on top of the existing brick. It is reading a bit yellow in this picture, but is much more cream in real life with just a bit of Edward-style sparkle (mmmmm....gotta love some good ol' fashion vampire sparkle): 

So now that we have the limestone and have removed the hearth, the next step was to cover the existing fireplace with a layer of skim coat to give it a nice even base for the limestone to overlay.  We also added a plug and a cable cord so that we can put a TV above the fireplace if we want in the future...and in the meantime, they will be covered with a painting, so our guests will be none the wiser of the electrical storm going on just out of eyesight.

That is as far as we have gotten.  I will pop by next week with an update on the final product.  I hope that everyone has a wonderful Labor Day weekend!!!  Thanks so much for stopping by!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Selecting the Stain Color for Our Wood Floors

Happy Hump Day everyone!  I am so excited because Mattey-boy finally gets home tonight after being in the Deen for the past two weeks...and it looks like this might be his last trip over for quite some time (for those of you who don't know, he has been spending about 3 weeks+ each month in Aberdeen, Scotland since March for work and his tour-of-duty is finally over)! Yippy for me!!!  While he has been gone this past two weeks, I have moved onto our next major project at the casa, and that's refinishing our wood floors. This is a pretty huge undertaking and has a lot riding on it (literally) because we have wood floors in EVERY SINGLE ROOM of the house (other than the bathrooms and laundry room - I showed you the details here)...and let me tell you, that's A LOT of wood people! Although the vast majority of the floors are the original floors that were installed when the house was built in 1967,  we have expanded the front of the house, relocated the stairs,  moved a ton of walls, and also added on a whole new bedroom during this renovation....which means that we had to install new floors for each of these locations. Easy-peasy, right???? Just go pick up some matching floor at the flooring store and you are good to go?!?! Well, unfortunately, that is 100% wrong in this case. So let me explain, here is a picture of how the floors look currently (with a whole lot of drywall dust and apparently some kind of water (I hope) drop...yummy):
So, asides from all the drywall dust, we have two major issues.  First, flooring companies no longer make wood floors with the cute little pegs at the end...apparently those pegs actually held the boards down (and are more expensive) so have become obsolete.  Second, 47 year old floors are super tricky to match because 40+ years worth of love gives them a depth and character that you can not recreate with brand new, out-of-the-box wood mater how much they hand scrape them.  So our solution was to hunt for reclaimed wood floor that were the same or similar vintage...and we totally scored!!! Although the salvaged floors were completely different colors than our current floors, they are real wood and can be sanded down and restained to match.  In the picture below you can see a sample of the newly installed salvaged floors (the ones on the left side of the square) next to our existing floors (the ones with the pegs on the right side of the square), with a sample of stain that matched the original color...pretty impressive if I do say so myself!!!
So now that we resolved the "how do you match 47 year old floors" issue, it is time for the fun stuff - picking the stain color!!! Fun, fun, fun! The color of our original floors (as you can see in the picture above) was a redish-orangish-brown with dark pegs.  Although it looked super pretty, we have both been leaning towards the idea of darker floors throughout the house (1) to go with the dark trim that we have downstairs and (2) because we think that it feels just a bit more dressed up.  However, I didn't want anything that was too dark, because I didn't want to loose the pretty wood grain and variations in each of the boards. So I thought maybe a dark walnut stain mixed with ebony. I explained my vision to the floor guys and then played Goldilocks for the afternoon wading through the seven samples that they provided:

Starting from the bottom row on the right and moving clockwise, we had
  1. Antique Brown (too light and too yellowish-brown)
  2. English Chestnut (too light and too orange)
  3. Spice brown (getting darker, but not dark enough...although I loved how it really brought out the grain)
  4. Coffee Brown {closed grain*(love the tone and the effect on the grain, but still just a hair too light for my taste)
  5. Coffee Brown {open grain*} (definitely good on the darkness, but it felt a bit flat)
  6. Ebony {open grain*}(too dark because we completely lost the wood grain)
  7. 50% Coffee Brown & 50% Ebony {open grain*} (WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER!)
 * Open grain means they wipe the wood with water before applying the stain to open the grain so more of the color soaks makes a huge difference.
I absolutely fell in love with the 50% Coffee Brown-50% Ebony combination because (1) it provides the deep brown tone that I was envisioning with the Coffee Brown; and (2) the ebony stepped in to highlight the beautiful grain in each of the boards.  Here is a close up of the color (although the picture above it much more accurate depiction of the color...the color in the picture below is darker than the color in real life and there is more contrast)

So that is one more check on the ol' To-Do List!!! So exciting!  It is going to take the floor guys 10 days to finish the floors, but all the stain and first coat of poly should be down by Monday.  So stop by back to see the update!  I hope that you all have a wonderful rest of your week!!!

Oh, and just cause I am excited and because it's Thursday...I think it is time for a little Carlton!


Friday, August 16, 2013

What Goes Up (My Walker Zanger Tiles)...Sometimes Must Come Down (Part 2)

Happy Friday world! It has been a great week and I am super excited to help one of my good friends ring in her 40th birthday tomorrow at an "all gals spa day"...brang it! I am also going to get to work A LOT this weekend, so a few hours of relaxation are going to be just what the doctor ordered. And speaking of spas, our bathroom has made some major steps towards being completed this week. The last time we visited the master bath there were some issues with the size of my beloved Walker Zanger Tile feature wall and alignment/centering of the travertine tile surround. So unfortunately, what went up, had to come down.  Here is a quick pic of the issues:
It is never fun having to go back and redo work because it wasn't done correct the first time.  But you are going to have setback in a renovation...and you gotta learn to roll with the punches. Fortunately, this issue only required one day of work to fix. The blue outline in this picture below shows my proposed changes to make the real life feature wall more closely resemble the size and layout of the feature wall that has been dancing with the sugar plumbs in my head for the past several months:

And here is what she looked like after undergoing her outpatient surgery:

Sooooooo much better! It is absolutely amazing how gaining a few inches of trim can have such a major impact (that's what she said...WaaWaaWaaaaaaaa). It's difficult to tell from the picture, but enlarging the area containing the Walker Zanger tiles makes the space feel so much larger and the ceiling taller! It basically had the exact same effect as when you add crown molding to a room...which causes your eyes to go up and out making the space appear bigger. So needless to say, I am thrilled with the result. If you are keeping tabs, that would be score #2 for "Speaking-Up-During-Construction/Renovation-When-There-Is-Something-That-You-Think-Is-Not-Right".  So let's take a another look at the oh so exciting Before and After shall we:
The next item on the To Do List was installation of our plumbing fixtures. We picked oil rubbed bronze fixtures to play off of the dark vanity that we installed. 

And can I say YUMMY!!!  This girl is in L-O-V-E, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!!!

The shower is made for two, so Matt and I each have our own shower head.  We also have four body sprays and an overhead gravity rain shower. I cannot wait to start my mornings belting out "Splish Splash I was taking a bath SHOWER!"...and believe you me, this will happen!  I just need to figure out how to work it into mine and Matt's Jungle Trilogy Mashup (a.k.a. Welcome to the Jungle, Jungle Boogie and the Lion Sleeps Tonight).  Witnessing this serenade is a real treat I tell ya! But I digress. The final step for the shower is the glass surround, which will be installed next week.  Oh, and I can't sign off today without giving a shout-out to my other love in the master bathroom - my claw foot tub and the cool telephone sprayer! Hello lovers!!! The color is a bit off in the picture due to a combination of bad lighting and my IPone camera that is on the fritz (after being dropped about 20 times) in person the various oil rubbed bronze colors are actually a lot closer in color.  It is all coming together! As of today we are officially:
until move-in! Woohoo!!! I hope that you enjoyed checking out the progress. Thank you all so much for stopping by and have a wonderful weekend! 

Monday, August 12, 2013

Let There Be Light (Part 2) (AKA: More Flush Mounts That Don't Suck)

Hi everyone! I hope that you had a great weekend. I am starting to see my friends post "first-day-of-school" pics to Facebook and CANNOT believe that the summer is coming to a close! The past three months have absolutely FLOWN by.  Although the end of summer is always sad, it means that we are heading to one of my favorite times of year - FOOTBALL SEASON! Matt and I love going to the games to cheer on the Texans, my alma maters (Go Coogs! and Go Gators!) and Matt's alma mater (Gig'em Johnny Football!). The tailgates, the friends and family, the atmosphere, the weather...ahh yes people, I seriously have a hard time thinking of a better way to spend my weekends!!! And the beginning of football season is always so exciting because it is filled with anticipation, hope and visions of your teams (professional, college and fantasy) kicking butt and taking home the championship that year! There are only 19 days until kick-off...IT'S (almost) GAMEDAY! So now back to the blog. After my last post, I received several questions about other flush mount and semi-flush mounts lights that we liked and that satisfied my "NO BOOB LIGHT" criteria. So I have pulled together 16 other lights that we considered during the whittling down process (and in my humble opinion, that don't suck):

Check here if you want to see the flush mount and semi-flush mount lights that we picked out. Oh, and here is some other super exciting news about the house:
That's right folks! If all goes as planned, we should be moving into the house in 30 days!!! Happy days, oh happy days! All we have left is to finish the paint and floors and to install all the fixtures (lights, faucets, toilets, etc.).  We gave our 30-day notice to the apartment today, so there is no turning back now! I'll keep you posted as the countdown continues. Please send good thoughts our way that we get this job done. I officially have 30 days to choreograph my SUPER DUPER HAPPY DANCE, which will be on full display for the world to see when those moving vans arrive! Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful day!!!


Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Let There Be Light! - Lighting Design for the Casa (Part 1)

Happy Wednesday everyone! I hope that you are having a great week so far. We are trucking along on the house and have finally ordered all of our light fixtures! Woohoo!!! There is something about ordering the lights that makes me feel like we are getting close to completing this beast of a project (please sweet baby Jesus let it be so!!!!). Although it took a year of wading through thousands of options, picking out the light fixtures has been a blast! In my view, light fixtures are just like a good pair of glitzy chandelier earrings...they are a super fun accessory that can add some serious glamor to a room. And bringing some girly glam to the casa was very important to me because the tan/cream/bronze color scheme that we have selected for the first floor could very easily turn the house into a "Super Masculine Mancave" (my husband's ultimate fantasy) if I didn't force down Matt's throat add these pops of bling to each room. However, it took so long to pick the fixtures because of two major restrictions we have at the house. The first restriction is beyond our control...we have 8 foot ceilings. This makes life tricky because Matt and I are both fairly tall (6'1" and 5'9.5"), so there are several places in the house where we need fixtures that sit somewhat close to the ceiling (basically everywhere that a light isn't over a table or in the stairwell) so that we don't knock our cabezas every time we walk through the house. Unfortunately, I have discovered that "flush mount light" actually translates to "ugly as hell" in most languages. Which brings us to my second restriction, which is 100% self-imposed...NO BOOB LIGHTS!!!!!

Please don't get me wrong, I have nothing against ta-tas that are attached to a gals chest...however, I take serious issue to boobs that are attached to my ceiling. Maybe its boob envy, but I just don't like the idea of making our ceilings have a better figure than me! So after several hours of scrolling through multiple website, here are the flush mounts that have made the cut:

1. Visual Comfort Small Basil Flush Mount (for the Wrapping Closet) 
2. Pottery Barn Capiz Flushmount (for the Light Blue Bedroom)
5. Quoizel Josslyn Flush Mount (for the Laundry Room)
The first five lights are either chrome or polished nickle because they go upstairs where we have grey walls and white trim in the Guest Bathroom, Study and Laundry Room, robin egg blue walls and white trim in the Light Blue Room, and bright pink walls, white trim and yellow ceiling in the Wrapping Closet (although Matt thinks that I am nuts, but it's super cute and my one Über girly room in the joint).  The light for the Living Room is wood and oil rubbed bronze, which hopefully will look pretty with the cream/tan walls and dark trim.  I cannot wait to see what these guys look like installed! That's all for now. Thanks so much for stopping by and have a great day!!!

Thursday, August 1, 2013

What Goes Up (My Walker Zanger Tiles)...Sometimes Must Come Down

Happy Thursday everyone! The weekend is almost here, so time to get ready for some fun! We are going to watch Bob Schneider tonight (he's one of our all time favorites!) and we have some birthday gatherings to attend this it should be a busy, but fun one for us. I wanted to pop in real quick before the shenanigans start and give you an update on the master bathroom. As I mentioned in back in April, renovations do not always go as planned, and sometimes you can hit a bump in the road. So far our biggest bump was the H-U-G-E error that the builders, engineer and inspector made with the structural support for our house that could have caused the whole thing to come crashing down if any wind picked up...Eeek!!! Although that was more of a Mount Everest sized bump, we have had lots of other smaller bumps throughout this year-long renovation (some mountains and some mole hills). But we have somehow managed to either fix them or come up with work-around my advise when doing a renovation, always try to stay nimble and look at those bumps as fun challenges to overcome instead of disasters that can ruin your day.  Our latest bump was the feature wall of Walker Zanger tile in our master bathroom shower. We were super excited to see it once it was installed, but when we got to the house, we realized the final product was not what we had envisioned.  Here's a picture of what it looked like installed with some notes highlighting the issues:
The first issue was that the area with the Walker Zanger Ashbury Tiles were too small (we'll call them the "Walker Zanger squares")...I love this tile, so wanted to have as much of it as possible on that wall.  Second, the field tile (which is the travertine tile) was not centered on the Walker Zanger squares.  I am totally "Type A" and saw this as soon as we walked in the room.  Although it might not seem like that big of a deal to some people, I knew this would drive me absolutely batty every time I saw it.  And the third issue is that the space between the two Walker Zanger squares is too wide. Although the Walker Zanger squares are centered above and below and the chair rail, this made the bottom Walker Zanger square feel too low and stubby.  But the good news of this pic is that our tub has arrived!  It hasn't been installed, so isn't in the correct location, but I am in L-O-V-E with this cast iron beauty! I don't know about you, but I think that claw foot tubs are super sexy, MEOW (see there is a silver lining to every storm cloud)!!!  But I digress, so here is a basic sketch of how we plan to fix the tile issue:
1. Widen the Walker Zanger squares by 2.5 tiles on each side
2. Make the top Walker Zanger square go all the way to the top tile
3. Make the space between the two sets of Walker Zanger squares smaller
4. Center the field tile (i.e., the travertine tile above and below the Walker Zanger squares)
So here we are today at the beginning of the "fixing stage" with the border tiles removed. Breaks my heart!!!
Oh well! The quicker we rip this band-aide off, the quicker we will be one step closer to finishing this project. Good times!!! So that's all for now. Thanks for stopping by and have a wonderful Thursday!!!


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