4.30.2012

DIY hardwood floors - pt. 2

Adam and I were up bright and early on Saturday to lay hardwood floors in the second of three rooms - the nursery! If you've been following along for awhile, you'll recognize this room as the old guest room (we installed hardwood floors in the new guest room last weekend). With one room under our belts, the nursery went a little smoother, a little faster and turned out even better. I already covered our plans, process and materials here, so I'll skip straight to the before & afters:

{the "before", ignore the label - I snagged the photo from my house tour page}

{trim + walls painted, carpet + baseboard removed, underlayment down}

{new floors installed!}

{view looking into the room from the hallway}

{purty, purty}

It's another small room, so we were able to mostly finish it on Saturday - which meant we had Sunday to relax and do weekend-y things like go out for breakfast and take the dog for a walk at Hemlock Ravine.

We still need to finish the closet and install new, beefier baseboards (after we install hardwood in the master bedroom, we'll tackle all the closets and baseboard at once), but I'm thisclose to decorating the nursery and you better believe I can't wait!

And while we're talking nurseries, here I am just shy of 25 weeks. I'm feeling great - my only complaints are heartburn, needing to pee all the time, and a little physical discomfort (walking uphill is a lot harder than it used to be). Oh, and we've decided to be surprised, so don't expect any gender announcements from me :)

{just shy of 25 wks}

4.27.2012

Natural accessories

Is anyone else loving the PC Home line of outdoor decor, dining and enteraining pieces this year? Lots of fun colour and pattern, and great prices too. Last night while grocery shopping, I *somehow* ended up in Superstore's home decor section, in front of their rattan trays. They have a variety of shapes and sizes available, but I decided the large round tray would be perfect on my coffee table (and the $10 price tag was definitely right).


The tray's round shape and texture are just what our living room needed, and I love that we finally have a place to stash the tv remote within reach from the couch. It's also the perfect spot for a pretty vase of fresh tulips - I picked those up last night too.



What are your plans for the weekend? We're going to tackle the flooring in the nursery, so wish us luck!

4.26.2012

Simple succulents


I transplanted a few succulents into glass jars earlier this week to add some greenery to a new side table in our living room. My mom scored all three plants for just $4 (the horticulture department at her local community college was selling that semester's work) and I found these glass jars at the Dollar Store for $2 each.


I lined the bottoms of my jars with a layer of stones about an inch thick (for drainage), then added my dirt and my plants. You can buy cactus or succulent potting soil (I just used what they came with) at any gardening or home improvement store, which is more sand-like than regular potting soil and drains really well. The most important thing to remember with succulents is not to overwater them. I've read that misting them with a water bottle once a week works well, but I'll let you know how it works for me.

Here they are in our living room, with a better view of the new side table (now we just need to find the perfect area rug). Who knows if this is where they'll stay, but I love having more plants in the room!


  

4.24.2012

Guest room plans

Now that the floors are installed, we can finally start putting our plans for the guest room into action. I've been pinning ideas for awhile, but I still hadn't put a room board together - until now.


1 - This room (does anyone know the source?) is my inspiration. I love the neutral colour palette and those gorgeous plank walls. Our guest room has a weird textured effect on two walls, so the plan is to cover it with planks. I'm loving the black window and door in this room, so I may have to convince Adam to let me paint the window black. We'll see.

2 - The current light fixture in this room is oddly positioned (and insanely ugly). Short of moving it, the only option that makes sense is to replace it with a pendant light, which I'm planning to hang over the bedside table. We purchased this light fixture at Ikea back in March. I like how it adds a modern element to the room, but isn't too large or attention-seeking. I plan to convert it to a hardwired fixture and add a dimmer switch so that it can do double-duty as a reading lamp.

3 - I think this is the perfect bedside table for a small guest room. It offers enough room for a few bedtime essentials, but it's also light and open - perfect for a small space. We have a slightly smaller version - a hand-me-down from Adam's parents - in a darker finish that needs a little TLC. While I love the whitewashed finish of this piece, I don't want the room to be too white. I also think the lines of our piece are a better fit with the light fixture.

4 & 5 - Speaking of white, I think I've pretty much settled on Sico's Cotton Rag Paper for the walls and trim. I like that it's a warmer, not-too-bright white and it will look great next to our new floors (it helps that we already have a couple cans on hand - it's the trim colour we've used throughout the house).

6 - We bought this black oval mirror a couple years ago for the guest room in our old apartment and I'm thinking about hanging it behind the bed. I have a couple black & white art pieces that I'd like to add to the room too.

7 - I wish I had snapped a better pic, but this duvet cover - a wedding gift from Guatemala - was actually the jumping off point for the entire room. By keeping the rest of the room neutral, the design and colours in this beautiful duvet cover will really stand out.

There are a few other things I have planned for the room that I haven't captured here. The room is basically a blank slate, so I plan to start with a few basic ideas and build on them as I go. Aside from a new bed, there isn't a lot we have to buy for the room (thank goodness - beds are expensive!), so we can try some stuff out, see what's missing and gradually pull things together - I can't wait!

4.23.2012

DIY hardwood floors

I hope everyone had a fantastic weekend! After some back and forth and a whole lot of research, we finally decided to DIY the installation of our new hardwood floors. Sure, we knew doing it ourselves would save us hundreds of dollars, but mostly we just couldn't turn down a good DIY challenge (we're weird like that).

The plan is to lay hardwood in all three bedrooms, but to keep things manageable, we decided to tackle one room a weekend - starting with the future guest room (the fact that it was empty - i.e. no furniture to move - made it the obvious choice). Adam painted the ceiling last week and on Friday night, we pulled up the last of the carpet staples, removed the baseboards, swept and vacuumed the room, and stapled the underlayment to the floor (basically a waxy brown paper that acts as a moisture barrier).

In addition to a bunch of online research and talking to a few people who had installed hardwood before, we relied on this video and this set of instructions. We also read through the manufacturer's instructions for specific information on how long to let the wood acclimate before installing (72 hours), type of installation (nail down), and what size gap to leave between the flooring and the wall (1/2" - 3/4").

On Saturday we rented a flooring nailer and compressor from Home Depot - $64 for 24 hours - and it took us around 5 hours to mostly complete a 105 sq. ft. room (we still have the teeny tiny closet to do). The rental is a must-have - it makes the job move much, much faster - but we still had to install the first couple and last few rows by hand (where the nailer was too big to fit).

So how did it go? Pretty well, actually. Sure it was tiring and there were a few arguments (we agreed to hit the 'reset' button while waiting in line at the tool rental center and mostly got along after that), but we're so happy with how the floor turned out and it feels awesome knowing that we did it ourselves. And now that we have a better idea of what we're doing, we can't wait to tackle the nursery and master bedroom (which should hopefully go a little smoother and a little faster).

If I could offer one piece of advice, based on my very limited experience, it would be to make sure, double-sure, triple-sure that your first row is STRAIGHT. If it is, the whole installation will go pretty smoothly/quickly, so take the extra time to check and re-check your chalk line before nailing anything down.

I know, I know - who cares? Get to the before & after!

{before}

{carpet and baseboards removed, underlayment down}
 
{new hardwood installed}
The floor is actually darker than it appears in the picture above. In real life, it's more of a chocolate-y medium brown, but I chose this picture because you can actually see the texture on the walls. Like the master bedroom, only two of the walls are textured, but unlike the master bedroom, the plan is to skip the hours of sanding and cover it up instead. In my next post, I'll share the plans for our guest room. Want a hint? Find me on Pinterest!

4.19.2012

Installing a pet door

Meet Maddie and Henry:


They (mostly) get along, but Maddie, being a dog, will take advantage of any opportunity to eat Henry's food. While Maddie likes to inhale her food in 30 seconds or less, Henry prefers light snacking throughout the day so his food is always out (he also likes to be petted while he eats, but that's a story for another day). For a while, we just kept Henry's food in the basement, since Maddie had an inexplicable fear of basements that stopped her from going downstairs (she would happily go up and down stairs, as long as they didn't lead to a basement, any basement). Over Christmas, Adam's nephew cured her of this fear by showing her that, hey - there's food in the basement! From that point on, if your back was turned for even a moment, Maddie would hightail it to the basement and furiously inhale Henry's food (she looks innocent, but she's a sneaky one).

Now that we were going through bags of cat food like it was water, we decided to invest in a $20 cat door. And several weeks later, I finally got around to installing it.

Installing it was pretty simple: trace the paper template onto the door, drill a hole in each corner, then cut it out using a jigsaw. One side of the cat door screws into your door and the other side is attached using sticky tabs. Easy peasy.






Installing the cat door also inspired me to finally do something about the ugly doors in our basement (one leads to the laundry room/Henry's food and one leads to Adam's studio). Several coats of primer and paint and a couple of new door knobs later:



Of course they're not nearly as nice as the doors we installed upstairs, but it's a big (and inexpensive) improvement nonetheless.

Next step: paint the walls (and the baseboards). Oh, and as for the pet door - it's a huge success! It took Henry a little while to get used to it, but now everyone's happy (except Maddie I guess).

4.17.2012

Landscaping plans

Adam and I took advantage of last weekend's amazing weather to get some work done outside. This is our second spring in this house, so while last spring was spent doing loads of clean-up and just figuring out what grew where, this year we can start to refine what we have and make plans for what we'd like to have down the road.

Last year we dug two new beds - one in front of the house and a larger one around the side of the house. We added several new plants and mulched both beds. The cost of new plants adds up quickly, so we try to save money by buying later in the season (later in the season = sale time) and choosing plants that come with a guarantee.

This year I knew I wanted to update the beds' shape and add a few more plants to help fill things out. I looked through last year's photos (this is where having a blog comes in handy) and roughly sketched out my plans for this year.


After living here for a year, I have a better idea of which plants will do well where. I also gave some thought to colour, shape, hardiness and general maintenance (I prefer low).

After a quick trip to Kent for some super on-sale black cedar mulch, I started digging out the new shape of the beds while Adam cleaned up the hostas that border our yard and raked up the rest of last year's leaves.


Starting with the large bed around the side of the house, I used my shovel to "mark" the new outline of the bed, then turned over the soil, patted it down with the back of my shovel and covered it with mulch.


{unfortunately the sunshine, though good for the soul, is not so good for photo-documenting}
The new mulch looks darker because it was wet, but once dry, it blends with the exsiting mulch perfectly (we also spread some new stuff around the rest of the bed for good measure).

Here's a better view of how the bed changed shape:

{old bed shape}

{new bed shape}
We have an abundance of large rocks on our property, so I asked Adam to carry a few over to the bed to help fill in the empty spots. The plan is to add new golden euonymous shrubs on either side of the existing one and a new flowering shrub (maybe a goldfinger potentilla?) between our purple smoke bush and blue evergreen.

 

We'll also divide the large blue hosta next to our driveway and transplant it near the two existing hostas (which you obviously can't see yet).
The bed in front of our house also got a shape update. I basically extended it to the end of the walkway and added a little swoop, just for fun.

{old bed shape}

{new bed shape}
And yes, I made Adam move a few more rocks.

The plan for this bed is to dig up that rose bush (it doesn't actually flower and I'm afraid I don't have the gardening skills for roses) and replace it with a Japanese maple. Adam and I both love Japanese maples and always said we wanted to plant one in our future yard. We also have plans to add another holly bush (turns out you need a male and a female for red berries - oops), which will eventually form a nice hedge in front of the juniper (we plan to keep the holly bushes low, while letting the juniper grow nice and tall). And we'll fill up the new section with a couple of shrubs on either side of that lone rock. Right now I'm thinking spireas - we already have one in another part of our yard and love it.


This is only some of what we're planning in terms of landscaping this year, so expect to see more yard updates in future posts. Oh, and I had to share this picture of our dog Maddie hanging out with us while we worked. Rough life, eh?

4.16.2012

Envelope pillow how-to

We had a weekend of beautiful weather here in Halifax! Adam and I made our weekly trek to the Seaport Market for coffee and German pastries, got on some serious yard work (more on that later), enjoyed some deliciously-rich French food with friends at Le Coq, and took the dog for walks along the waterfront and by the heart-shaped pond at Hemlock Ravine.

And on Sunday, after planing a door frame in our basement and baking cranberry-lemon muffins (I do it all, folks), I turned my pretty new fabric into pillows for our bedroom.


I don't have the sewing skills for invisible zippers, so I went with a simple envelope pillow. Read on for the how-to, or just scroll to the bottom of this post for more pretty pillow pictures!

Envelope Pillow How-To:

1. Start by measuring your pillow insert. Cut your front piece to size, making sure to add an inch on either side for your hems. I had two, 20x21-inch down pillow inserts on hand, so I cut two, 21x22-inch panels.


To save money, I used less expensive fabric for the backs of the pillows. I was lucky to find a lovely neutral at Fabricville marked down to $4/metre!

2. To create your "envelope", you'll need to cut two back panels for each pillow. The width is the same as your front panel, but divide the insert's height in half and add two inches to each panel (4 inches for the back piece overall) for hems and overlap. Because I was making two pillows, I cut four back panels. Each panel was 21-inches wide (just like the front) and 13-inches high (22/2 = 11+2 = 13).


3. Next, pin, iron and sew the hem on your back panels.


Optional: If you're me, now realize you measured your hems incorrectly so your back panels are too short. Silently curse yourself, take a short ice cream break, then rip out all four hems, measure correctly and re-pin, re-iron and re-sew.

You should feel free to skip this step :)

4. Pin your front and back panels together and sew.



5. Step back and enjoy your good work!



4.12.2012

It's here!


Look what I picked up from the post office yesterday...

{Marrakesh Firefly Ikat Fabric}
Our house has been home to more than a few renters over the years, so when I found a parcel delivery notice stuck to our door with someone else's name on it, I didn't think much of it. I stuck it on our fridge, where it stayed for more than a week, until guilt got the better of me and I decided to let the post office know that no one named Toler lived here (at this point I had begun to imagine poor Toler waiting hopelessly for a care package from grandma to arrive).

It turns out the mail carrier accidentally wrote the name of the sender, not the recipient (me), on the slip, so it was my package after all. That's right, this gorgeous fabric could have been in my hands days ago! I used some birthday money from my father to buy it (I'm probably too old to still be getting birthday money, but please don't tell him that) and the plan is to make a couple of pillow shams for our master bedroom. The colour and quality of the fabric is amazing in person, and I can't wait to see it on our bed!

4.10.2012

DIY kitchen curtains

With our kitchen reno plans on hold until after the baby is born and I'm back at work, I've basically been ignoring that giant eyesore of a room. Then last week Adam reminded me that it still might be nice to have some curtains on the windows.

The back of our house faces the parking lot of a small, multi-unit building. We plan to build a privacy fence that will allow us to still view the trees and water beyond the parking lot, while also enjoying all the light that our windows let in. But until we get around to building said fence, curtains are a great temporary fix. One of the windows is part of a hideous old door, so as an added bonus, the new curtain helps disguise it until we get a pretty new door later this year.

You may remember the curtain panels I purchased at Ikea several weeks ago. I turned one into a door for our basement storage room and the second panel was easily transformed into two kitchen curtains (it's basically the gift that keeps on giving).

The panel was only wide enough to use its existing top for one of the curtains, so I decided to use it for the window in the door. Once I figured out my measurements (making sure to include extra height and width for my hems and some gathering), I made several pencil marks along my fabric and used a straight edge to draw a line for cutting (obviously I struggle with cutting straight lines).



After cutting my panel to size, I measured, pinned and ironed my hems. Since I was using an existing panel, I only needed to hem two edges (one side and the bottom) and I copied the width of the existing hem so that everything matched up.


Last step: sewing. For the window above the sink, I basically repeated the steps from the first curtain, but this time I sewed a channel for my rod along the top of the panel. Again, I made sure to include several extra inches of width to allow for some gathering.

{ugly door partially hidden by a pretty new curtain}
 It's hard to see the curtain panel with all the light coming into our kitchen (a good problem to have, I know), so here's a picture I snapped at night.


{I love how the sheer panels still let in lots of light}
{The cafe rod hides the view of the parking lot, but still lets in lots of light. Sadly, it doesn't hide the remnants of my tile backsplash-removing job. I need to do something about that.}


Sure, the door's still ugly and so is our kitchen, but a little extra privacy is always nice, right?
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