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Our new office area, leading into our new bathroom.

I haven’t done an upstairs reno post in a while, mainly because other than one contractor driving me NUTS, not much has been happening. Last we saw, we had everything framed out and had passed inspection. The next step was for our wall guys to come back drywall, mud, and hang doors and trim. We were told that process would take 3-4 days.

And three weeks later, we’re still waiting for all of that to be finished.

Now, the first two days they were supposed to be working there was either a high chance of severe rain or it was actually raining. Since they had to bring the drywall into the house in order to start working, and it would get wet in the rain, they didn’t come. This was also during my miscarriage, so I was a little pleased they weren’t coming so I could have a few days of peace. So that was okay.

The drywall hanging went pretty quickly, but the mudding. Ugh. They would come and work for three hours, then leave for the day because they “couldn’t do any more work until the mud dried.” I have mudded before, so I know the mud has to dry between coats, but when I would head upstairs to look at their work, I would see large areas that had no mud on them.

Vanity area, almost ready to go.

I don’t know if they had other jobs to work on, and if so, that’s fine, but let me know! If we had known they were only working part of the day we could have brought our plumber in to work on tiling while they were gone. Also, they would routinely show up late. Which, if you can’t come to my house until 10, is fine. But please let me know so I don’t sit around waiting for you for two hours when I could be taking my toddler to the park.

Coping the molding to the ceiling is apparently causing quite the hold-up.

Now, the guys that are doing the work are actually really nice people. When they arrive, they are polite to me, nice to my dog and son, and I have no complaints about the work they accomplish. It’s just slow. As in, triple or quadruple the time-line slow. And messy. As in, dust, nails and trash everywhere. And I live here. With my toddler. And my dog. We do not like nails in our feet.

We are now on day four of door hanging, which was supposed to be 90% done on Thursday. Yeah, that job is still nowhere near 90% done, and I’ll be surprised if it is 90% done by the end of the day today.

Our storage closet doors are hung, but not finished.

Now, if these guys were the only ones working, it wouldn’t be a problem aside from just being irritating. But, our plumber and electrician don’t get paid anything until they finish their entire jobs, which they haven’t been able to finish because these guys are taking so long. And I feel bad for them.

I have a closet door that closes!

So, we’ve told the wall guys they can work today, get as far along as they can, and if they don’t finish, they can come back after the plumber and electrician finish. That actually seems to be agreeable to everyone, which I am thankful for.

One thing we have learned, is always hire guys who don’t expect any money until the entire job is complete – this motivates them to get it done. Our wall guys get paid incrementally, so they’ve already been paid for some of the work they’ve done. Of course, they won’t get paid for this part of the job until they finish, but I think having to complete the job to get any money would have really hurried things along. In fact, today they have accomplished more than they did in the last two days combined. This is working, and is advice that came straight from our plumber and electrician, who I middle school pink, puffy heart love.

We found out yesterday that we passed our inspection with flying colors. That means we should be well on our way towards tile floor and completed walls.

So, here’s the view from our new bedroom door:

This little area will eventually be home to one long desk for computing and crafting. We still have to decide on the filing cabinets to use, but eventually they’ll be here, along with some bookcases (on top of the storage cabinets) to make more use of the area under the slopped ceilings.

My new closet almost has walls and will soon have a recessed light. I might be most excited to get this space finished and plan out how the storage in this area will work. There’s a tiny nook in the back of the closet that’s fairly deep, so we need to figure out how to best utilize the space. Maybe some pull-out shoe storage?

Our little vanity area has given us a bit of a headache in the last couple of days. See the two framed out squares? They were supposed to house our oval, recessed medicine cabinets. The cabinets fit, but there was no room for a the two light fixtures closest to the wall. Hubby spent a long time trying to figure out how to make the medicine cabinets work, and we determined there was no way for them to work and have three light fixtures in the space. I really, really wanted to have the three light fixtures AND oval mirrors, so the best compromise was to loose the extra storage of the medicine cabinets and go with slightly smaller wall-mounted mirrors. That we still have to get. But at least we have a solution I can live with!

And here’s the new doorway to our bedroom and Hubs’ closet, framed out and ready for drywall. I’m hoping to eventually replace the fan. I really like having a fan in my bedroom, so I wouldn’t change that aspect, but I think we can fit slightly bigger blades in the ceiling space, and I’d really prefer a darker fan.

I have one big question though. When we’re ready for paint, do I leave the ceiling white, or paint it the same as the wall color? I’ve seen rooms with slopped ceilings painted both ways, and I like them both ways in photos, but I’m not sure what I’d like best long-term in my own space. Thoughts?

When Caroline left after her visit in February, our upstairs looked like this:

The guest bedroom will soon become part bathroom and part walk-in closet.

This part of the bathroom (yes, it's a full 3-piece bath, Caroline probably had to stand on the toilet to get this picture because it is TINY) looked boring, but clean.

A week later, Hubs had finished pulling off baseboards and he and I (along with the help of a strong friend), and cleared everything out, leaving a blank slate.

On Monday, our plumber came and started demo! After one day of work, our upstairs looked a little worse for the wear. Still, I was excited to get a project we’ve talked and dreamed about for the past four years finally get underway. It was also great to get an even better picture of what our space will look like when we’re finished.

See the areas where we still have hardwoods on the left-hand side of the photo? That will eventually be my walk-in closet! I currently have a three-foot closet, so I’m super excited to have so much space.

We’re also getting a good idea of what our shower is going to look like. It won’t be huge, but it will be a good size for a walk-in shower, I think. Since our ceilings are slopped and to maximize our shower head height, our shower head isn’t going to be centered with our floor drain. It’s only an inch or two, so I think it will hardly be noticeable.

I’ve been really happy with our plumber. He’s nice, but not overly talkative. He treats me like I know what’s going on when it comes to measurements and plumbing, but explains and shows things in a simple to understand way when I need it without being condescending. He’s also been doing a speedy job!

The framers have been a little iffy, but I like the guys who are doing the actual work, and their supervisor comes a couple of times a day to check on them. There have been some issues that have come up with them that I think shouldn’t have (in terms of the work, not as people – they are nice people, even my dog likes them!), and the work isn’t as speedy as I would have hoped, but they should be finished with the framing by Thursday. I can’t wait because the short naps caused by loudness of framing. Plumbing and electric are not always quiet, but they sure aren’t as loud as framing!

All in all, work is moving along. When we first started I thought, “everything is going to be so huge! Our bathroom will be giant!” But, now that walls are going up, I can see that things are not going to be so giant. We’ll have a lot more space than we’ve had, but giant it will not be. Still, I can’t believe we’ll be moving upstairs in just a few months!

We’re starting to finalize our decisions for our upstairs remodel, and I couldn’t be more excited. The design and decision process has been an interesting one, to say the least. The Husband and I have very different concerns and areas of focus when it comes to this project (and life in general). I want the end result to look fabulous regardless of cost, and he wants all of the stuff you don’t see (wiring, plumbing, etc) to meet his standard, for the least possible amount of money.

I really want this project to be fun and not be a source contention between the Hubs and I. Since we focus on two vastly different aspects of projects, they tend to be. Something Kim said in a post about her bathroom remodel has been stuck in my head (Kim, I have looked everywhere for this little gem you said, and I can’t find it! I know I’m not making it up!) Anyway, the gist of what she said was, “you don’t have to have your dream everything to have a bathroom you love.”

And y’all, I want plumbing that works. So, I’ve been trying to be zen and compromising about some elements. And practical too. My dream vanity for the space?

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I love the simple lines of it, the more furniture-like feet at the bottom, the arch, and pretty much everything about it. At $1229, it’s quite pricey, which didn’t make Hubs happy. So, I set off in search of something I could be happy with at Lowes, our favorite big-box store, and found:

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I don’t love it, but it has nice simple lines, an arch in the toe-kick, is solid wood with dovetail construction, and drawers. The drawers are a great bonus for me, since I think they’ll make keeping all our things organized much easier. And with an awesome marble top and the right hardware, I think it will end up looking great, for half the price of my “dream” vanity.

And our tile. My vision was for white subway tile on the walls and some sort of hex tile on the floors. Our plumber/tiler showed us some vintage-style tiles he had leftover from another project, and offered to give us the leftover tiles for free. They’re not totally square, and are so much more awesome than the slightly less expensive, perfectly square tiles available at Lowes. These tiles, made by Florida Tile, are made in the USA and sold through a local small business. Plus, we would only need the tiles for our wainscoting, there were enough leftover tiles for the entire shower. Decision made. We would spend a little more on those tiles.

The same local tile store and three great selections for the floor: and octagon and dot (where the dot is a square), penny rounds, and a one-inch hex tile. The tiny hex tile was my favorite, but way over budget. The octagon and dot was my husband’s favorite, and the least expensive of the three options. But, Lowes sold a similar tile, which would save us at least $200.

We talked it over with our plumber/tiler, and decided this would be a good option for us. After all, $200 would cover the cost of one faucet and one medicine cabinet. It  might not be my dream tile, but I think with a nice gray grout, it will wonderful, and I’ll be happy with it for years to come.

I’m starting to be able to see this come together, and I can’t wait. It may not have every element I’ve dreamed of, but I think it’s going to be even better than I dreamed it could be.

 

I’ve mentioned here and there on the blog that we plan to renovate our upstairs. In fact, that’s been the plan since we put our first offer in our home. It’s only taken us three years to be at cusp of making that plan a reality.

Our house is an 1800 (finished) square foot Cape Cod with an unfinished basement. Downstairs, we have a kitchen, dining room, living room, den, two bedrooms and a full bath with shower. The upstairs was listed at two bedrooms and a full bath, but the door from the stairs opens directly into one “bedroom” and the bath is directly off of the other bedroom, which makes the layout a little impractical for a two bedroom space. The tiny bath has a claw foot tub I adore, but is impractical in a space for adults who mostly shower, especially since the bathroom can only hold one adult at a time, unless one of them is standing in the tub.

The plan is to take the space from two technical bedrooms into a master suite, complete with shower, double sinks, and walk-in closet. Since I’ve been using part of the space for sewing and other projects, we also decided to include an office area. Thankfully, my father the architect is along for the ride, or this project would be super overwhelming.

Immediately after we moved in, my dad drew up a plan for the eventual renovation. It was awesome! But, we had just purchased a house and had no money. Then we had a kid. We still didn’t have a ton of money, but we realized we needed to re-do the upstairs to make the house work for us for as long as we planned to stay here. The time we spent living in the space was really an asset in terms of drawing up plans, because we realized we needed to tweak them so we had less closet space and some office/crafting space. The space will still be a bit “quirky” and door-heavy, but I will have a walk-in closet! And my own sink! And more storage space!

In terms of style, this was my most favorite inspiration picture:

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There’s not a gosh-darned thing I don’t love about this space. Obviously, my space is not going to end up looking like this, but it’s just inspiration. The plan for our space? White subway tile for the shower and walls, white hex tile for the floors and a white vanity.

I have a problem. It’s called: “I buy toys for my kid, and then other people do too, and we have way, way too many.”

And I can’t figure out what exactly to do about it.

Prior to Christmas, we knew Colton would be receiving several new toys that presented storage problems. We got him a train table (he was excited about it for DAYS – best gift ever!), which thankfully has drawers for storage, but is HUGE. He also received the Little People Farm and tractor, plus Noah’s Ark. And all of those come with animals and people to add to what he already had.

Since we knew these things were coming, we made some room before the gift opening extravaganza began. I finally forced myself to pack up all of the baby toys (Sofie the Giraffe, lovies he wasn’t attached to, rattles, soft books), which helped a lot. Then, I moved his music table to the basement. He still played with this some, but I decided it took up a little too much space for the time he played with it. I also packed up a couple other toys that didn’t seem to get played with enough to justify the space they took up.

But, we still have a lot of toys to store. I’m not sure I want to go the route of toy rotation. I think it’s a good idea in theory, but I don’t think I would keep up with it, realistically. Right now, most of the toys are in our den/playroom, and are stored on an old MDF shelf left over from Hubby’s college days. I picked up two inexpensive bins from Wal-Mart to help coral some small pieces until I figure out what I ultimately want to do.

I don’t think I want to end up going the bin route as a permanent solution, since Colton is a big fan of dumping the contents of the bins all over the floor, but I do like the convenience of dumping everything back into bins when I clean up. Maybe something with drawers would be the way to go?

I love the train storage and display I found via Pinterest,

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And would love to do something similar when we finalize our den layout. Since my ultimate goal for the space is for it to be fun, but also double as guest quarters, I’d like toy storage that looks good and has some display space. I found an option that looks like it would work well for us, but at over $300, seems a little pricey.

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Have you seen any other similar options? I bet Hubby could build something similar, but it would take eons.

My other big conundrum, is whether or not to keep some toys in Colton’s room, or transfer them all into the den. He only has one small bin of plastic toys in his room (and another bin of stuffed animals), which he mostly plays when I shower. I do have a free drawer in Colton’s bookcase, and could very easily have a second, but I’m not sure I want to store lots of little pieces in his room right now.

So, any brilliant ideas? Help!

I recently made a passing mention of having a cleaning schedule, and many of you wanted to know what exactly I’m doing in an attempt to keep my house clean.

I first tried a cleaning schedule shortly after Colton was born. I chose to use Motivated Moms’ weekly schedule, which has tasks you do every day (laundry, vacuuming kitchen, etc) as well as tasks for each day throughout the week. The nice thing about this schedule, was that monthly, quarterly and other occasional tasks would pop up at the appropriate time. This schedule worked great for me until Colton stopped napping and sleeping well. I didn’t have a lot of time sans kid, and that kid could not entertain himself while I cleaned. It just didn’t fit with my season of life. Even when I did stop following the schedule, I did keep some of the “big” tasks from Motivated Moms for a while (vacuuming main rooms Monday, bedrooms Tuesday, etc), but I had nothing to keep me accountable, so I just stopped.

Then, I randomly cleaned whenever I felt like it/couldn’t stand it anymore/Hubby told me I had to. Until we were both fed up. So, I started looking for a cleaning schedule that felt more manageable for me. I’ve found a lot of great options (thanks Pinterest!), like schedules tailored to your cleaning “personality.”

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There’s even an option for toddler moms! My friend has been doing the dot-to-dot option from here and has found it really works for her.

But, the biggest help to figuring out my own cleaning schedule has been identifying what I’m good at when it comes to cleaning the house. I’ve found that I’m reasonably good at picking up, especially in our living room, so where I really need help is in the actual cleaning tasks, since I’m more likely to tidy things up by putting them away than I am to break out the vacuum or dust.

So, when I found a schedule that told me I could keep my house clean in 15-20 minutes a day, I thought it would be a winner!

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So far, it’s been working pretty well for me. I like that I only have one task to do each day, even though it may be a large task, like vacuuming the whole house, just having one thing I’m responsible for feels so much manageable than ten. I’m still tweaking this to work for me though. For example, I don’t need two days to clean my bathrooms. One is rarely used right now, so it doesn’t need a lot of cleaning, and I honestly don’t mind cleaning bathrooms, so doing both in one day is no biggie. I’m trying to find what to replace a bathroom day with, and I’m leaning towards touching up my vacuuming right now, since we always seem to have dirt or dog hair around. I also think switching bathrooms and dusting around will work better for me, since Tuesdays are busy for me. I need a day to be home if I’m going to be motivated to do my most hated task.

And, as far as keeping myself accountable? For me, the best way to do this is to display my schedule. With Motivated Moms, I hung it on my fridge and checked off each task. With my new schedule, it’s framed and displayed in my dinning room. I can see it right now, telling me today is the day to touch up my vacuuming.

I hope you guys find this helpful in terms of finding or creating a cleaning schedule that works for you. I’ll keep you posted if there are any major changes here (besides falling off the wagon completely).

A friend of mine recently moved in down the street. I’m excited to wander over and visit and go to the park with her and her daughter. Even better? She’s having a baby in a couple of months, which means baby holding will soon be less than a five minute walk away!

I visited yesterday for lunch, playing and a tour. I peeked into her master bedroom after she said, “just don’t pay attention to the mess.” No biggie, it looks just like my bedroom – clean laundry everywhere, dirty laundry everywhere, random stuff on the dressers, unmade bed, pretty much the last room you ever think to clean. We chatted for a bit about how this is true for both of us: we clean our bedrooms so much less frequently than the rest of our house because we can shut the door and no one has to see our mess.

She said something I’ve been pondering ever since: “isn’t it sad that’s what we do? I mean, that should really be the first room we clean.”

I’d never thought of it that way before, but now I think I agree. Shouldn’t I value myself, my husband and our marriage enough to want to keep our room not just tidy, but clean? I don’t want Colton to think he’s the most important thing in my life or the only thing that’s a priority, but his room is much more clutter and dust-free than mine is, and I always put his clothes away.

So yesterday I cleaned my bedroom.

All the laundry is put away, random junk from the dressers found a new home (the trash!), I changed our sheets and made the bed, dusted all the furniture, swiffered cobwebs off the ceiling and vacuumed the floors. And it felt so great that night to get into bed, sit and read and relax.

And, I’ve decided that if I think my room is in a state I would find unacceptable for my child to live in, than it’s unacceptable for me to live in it too. And honestly, I just want our bedroom to be nice. I want it to feel relaxing and that it reflects us, not our child.

Do any of you have this problem? If you don’t, do you have some wonderful secret you can tell me to have a great master bedroom? I’m thinking of taking January to really focus on our bedroom, and maybe changing my “touch-up” day on my cleaning schedule to master bedroom day to make sure the room continues to get the attention it deserves.

An acquaintance of mine (we used to be in Sunday School together and have some mutual friends) said after she and her husband bought their first house, that they finally, after three years of marriage, had a place to call home.

I agree that there is something wonderful and special about home ownership, but I don’t think my name on a deed makes where I live a home. And that’s what she said – that if they lived in an apartment, it wasn’t a place they could call home.

Owning a home is wonderful, and when we lived in an apartment, we knew home ownership was what we eventually wanted, but I never felt like coming home to our apartment wasn’t really coming home, that I had disappointment and anxiety living there. It was a place we could afford while working towards the goal of home ownership, and it was where Hubby and I spent the first months of our married life.

No, I couldn’t paint the walls, but I could decorate, practice making yummy meals, have friends over and spend time with Hubby. And those last two things are what I think are most important when I think about what makes a place a home – the people who are there.When we go visit my grandparents I always say I’m going “home” because that’s what it feels like. I don’t own their house, I’ve not stayed there for more than a week consecutively, but it feels like home because of the people who live there. Same thing goes for my parents’ house and friends’ houses where I feel especially comfortable.

Yes, home-ownership provides a sense of belonging in an area, especially if you don’t have long-standing ties there, but it certainly doesn’t make a place a home. At least, that’s what I think. What do you think?

We’ve made a few minor changes to our master bedroom since we moved in three years ago, but mostly, it still looks much like it did a few days after move in:

We have darker pillow shams now, but that's about all that's changed.

Oh, we did add a pretty marsh print behind our bed!

I still have big plans/hopes/dreams that we’ll get ourselves upstairs in the near future, but even when that happens, I want to keep the basic design of our bed the same. I know I want to go with a gray-blue wall color, and I love the quilt at the end of the bed, so that’s definitely staying. However, I’ve had the throw pillows since just before I started high school. Yeah, it’s time for them to go.

I’m thinking I’d like to inject a little color into the room, and orange seems like it would work well. I have a sunset picture in the room already, so the orange would tie in nicely with that. Right now, I’m thinking

two of these 20 x 20 pillows or

two of these 16 x 16 pillows with

one of these pillows for a little bit of fun.

I think these would complement what’s already going on in the room and the elements I know I love while adding something new and different. Thoughts?

 

 

Just a 20-something girl living on the East Coast, trying to figure out life. I'm a wife and mom to two. I'm trying to rediscover my love for long walks, yoga and pilates. But not hiking. I still don't like hills. I was raised at the beach, but I don't like the beach. I like to look at it, but I don't like to swim in it, I'd prefer a pool, thanks. I'm just trying to become the best person I can be -- the woman God wants me to be. That's easier said than done!

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Contact me at longbrakeliving@gmail.com - I'd love to hear from you!

Hubby is my all-time favorite guy. A perfect mix of serious, sarcastic, laid-back, handy and nerdy, he is the perfect complement to me. I love his strong work-ethic and the way he always loves and supports me through everything. Some of Hubby's favorite things include: hiking, Virginia Tech football, woodworking, and his family. When I married him in July 2007, I had no idea what an amazing journey we were headed on, and how I could come to love him so much more each day.

Our oldest, Colton, is three years old. He is equal parts sassy and hysterical. He loves all things train, car, bus, truck, and machine related. He has a penchant for made-up words and loves to be the clown of his pre-school class. Our younger son, Nathan, was born this May. He is pure joy and full of smiles! He is such a blessing and a perfect fit for our family.