Friday, April 4, 2014

Hex tile!

Here's what's happening at our house! Some pretty (but brutal to work with) 2" black hex tile is being installed in the entry! I wrote about our plans HERE awhile ago and now it's actually happening!

Before we could start laying tile, Cam poured a leveling product and then once that dried, screwed down a subfloor used for under tile. 

We just started laying the tile the other evening (We have to wait till kiddos are in bed before we can start, which only gives us a few hours per night.), and it's pretty slow going! Even though the tile is on a 12x12 mesh sheet, the mesh has a lot of give so trying to line things up isn't easy. Lots and lots of spacers get used!

Hopefully this weekend we can knock out a fair bit more of it! So far though, I'm really excited with how it looks and I can't wait to see it finished with a dark grey grout. 

Once it's done, we can keep going with the baseboards. I just ordered the rest of the wall registers (same as what we used upstairs) and can't wait to start painting all the trim and baseboard(you can see them finished HERE in Serena's room, if you like). It makes things look so finished!

We've got a ways to go still, but I had to show you how it looks so far! P.S. If you tackle a project like this yourself, read these tips from House Tweaking first. Cam asked if I was going to post a tutorial on hex tile and I told him instead I'd recommend hiring the job out or installing 12" or larger tile :)

Sometimes it seems like the projects that are the most hassle are the ones that have the best results, don't you think? Ever had any like that?

Friday, February 28, 2014

Serena's Room: Update and ideas

I think Serena's room is my favorite spot in our house right now.  Likely because it's the closest one to being finished!

And since it's always fun to look way back at where it started, here's what the room looked like when we bought the house.

Almost liveable, right? From there we did some demo work.

We removed the plaster, rewired, insulated and added a new window.  At the time, we didn't own a camera, so the pictures of the original rooms are few.  But, it was a LOT of work and sometimes really stressful to get to the point that we're at now.

Anyways, on to better days!

Last summer we installed the flooring upstairs, including this room. Once it was stained (a learning experience all on it's own...), we added the registers and installed/painted the baseboards and trim.

Since we had used this room as our master for a few years while we worked on the downstairs, I had already painted it Sherwin William's Destiny. I loved the color then (a soft grey/lavender), and still love the color as much today, so I just did a final coat after painting the ceiling to freshen up the room.

The light fixture is from Ballard Designs, which I picked up when they were running a sale.  Cameron had to mess with the wiring a little since it wasn't design to be adjusted, but it would have hung too low otherwise.

The rug was a Joss and Main buy made by Safavieh, and might be my favorite thing in the room.  The cute little basket I got on our trip this past summer to Ocracoke, NC. It's from one of my favorite shops on the island and the last two times we've been there, I've wanted to bring everything home!

Call me sentimental, but I love having things from special trips that are both pretty and functional! And if it's something that keeps this little peanut entertained, I'd say it's definitely functional.

Last weekend, I picked up a Jenny Lind style crib on Craigslist for cheap. It's not in perfect condition and a few spots could use a paint touch up, but it seems like babies are in them for such a short time. I couldn't bring myself to spend much on a crib that'll only be used for a couple years.

We also just installed inexpensive bamboo shades (from Menards, I think they were less then $15 each). They don't block all the sunlight, but enough to help naptimes last longer.

I'd like sew drapes to layer over the blinds. This Pindler and Pindler fabric from is one of the patterns I have my eye on for this.

Maybe I'd edge the drapes with pom-pom trim or some of this pretty 2 inch wide tape I found on Etsy.

Or if I wanted more contrast and color, with this instead.

As for the walls, they're way too bare! Here's a few things I'd like to add to take care of that:

For one, this piece of art by Lisa Golightly sold on her Etsy shop Kiki and Polly. I've loved it for ages and something about it makes me smile. I have a gift card that was given to Serena when she was born and it might be going towards this!

Girl in the Yellow Suit
The other thing I want to do is use a shadow box to frame some of Serena's baby things.  Her Auntie Cynthia crocheted her adorable booties and a hat and they need to be on display now that she's outgrown them.  The idea would be similar to this, but smaller.

Via Pinterest

I also have some cute black and white picture's of both her Nanas when they were kids I want to enlarge, frame and then hang together. Color saturating them like THIS could be fun too.

The closet in this room has a good amount of storage with three rods Cam installed back when we used to use this room.  It's nice because I can keep clothes that she'll grow into there too.  We'll add a shelf too so I can keep socks and what not in baskets on it.  In the mean time she loves getting in there and making a mess!

Hopefully we'll get to pick up her dresser that's just been painted since we didn't get to last weekend as planned.  It'll be fun to have a spot to put some of the little books, toys, and nick-knacks I've collected for her. Yup, I get excited about those kinds of things!

That's what we have so far! I'll keep you posted as things progress!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

How to (easily) remove paint from hardware

I posted a picture on Instagram (@jmmccalley) recently of  my vintage hardware all cleaned up. Someone asked for a before and after, so I thought I'd share.  Also, I found a great product that removes paint from hardware (and furniture too) without a ton of mess and no yucky odor!

This hardware is going back on a vintage Thomasville dresser that has just been professionally painted(meaning it wasn't done by me...). We'll likely pick it up this weekend so I can show it to you soon.

Dresser Before

 For now, I've given up on painting furniture myself, since I usually want a glossy finish and the best results for that are done by spraying. I have neither the time nor space for those project right now, so most of my furniture has made a trip to Cam's cousin in Des Moines. He has a body shop there and is really an artist when it comes to painting cars, so I know my furniture is in good hands!

At the painter's, sanded and ready for a new look

Anyways, here's the simple steps I took to get the caked on paint off these pulls and knobs. I did some research about removing paint and there were all kinds of ideas out there, including soaking them in hot water in a crock pot!

Hardware before!

I found this product at Menards made by Zinsser. I've used their paint before and loved it, so thought it was worth a try. Also loved that it was odorless and didn't have some of the nasty chemicals other strippers have.

I used a cheap disposable brush to apply a thick layer to the hardware, then laid them on a piece of cardboard and let it do it's thing. I didn't get a picture of this part as my hands were kind of messy!

About a half hour later, I used some paper towel and wiped them to remove the paint and stripper.  Almost everything slid right off.  For some of the stubborn spots, I repeated the process and then used an old toothbrush and toothpicks to get the grooves cleaned out.  That was it!

The brass was tarnished and dark once the paint was off, so I applied some Brasso (it's a little smelly, but not terrible) and buffed with a sponge and rag until it shined! As good as new!

Piece on the right after Brasso treatment, on the left is the before.
Hope that helps anyone needing to do such a thing. If you find an older piece of furniture, don't look past it if the hardware's been painted.  While you could just replace it, but often vintage hardware is unique/good quality and worth a little bit of work to restore.  If you have an older house, there's likely door/window hardware that's just been painted over and could be easily restored too!

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

more craigslist goodies!

Little by little, we are starting to furnish our house! Last weekend we picked up a dining table and four chairs I found on craigslist. I really liked the lines of the chairs and the size of the table. Plus, the price was right! It's large enough to seat 10, so obviously 4 chairs won't be enough!

The chairs came with brown striped fabric that has got to go.

This past summer I was in Quebec for a day with my sister and mom when I came across this pretty velvet.  It was about 2 bucks a yards so I bought lots!

I popped out one of the seat cushions and wrapped it with a piece of the fabric. A trial run! We'll live with it for awhile and see how it holds up. If it works, I'll finish up the rest.  I might anyways, just so I don't have to look at all the brown.

We still need to get at least 2 more chairs (a few highchairs will be around for a few years yet taking up room too). Something upholstered for the end seats would be kind of fun and an easy way to add some much needed pattern and color.

via pinterest
The other thing is, the set is definitely in "used vintage condition", so there's talk of painting parts of it (chairs/table base?) or refinishing it. While I do like the stained wood, I don't love that there's little contrast between the furniture and the flooring. We'll likely wait until the trim, baseboards and French doors are all installed and painted before making that decision.

The walls in this room (well in the house, for that matter) are pretty bare, and the wall opposite the glass railing has a lot of blank space that needs to be dealt with.

A buffet would fit along the wall here, but there's a built in coffee bar in the corner at the end of the wall. Anything too solid/heavy along the wall would look awkward. But it does need something!

Last night I was browsing Pinterest for a lucite or glass console table($$$)to use in this spot. Something clear would fill the space but appear visually lightweight.  Then I came across a better idea!

Outdoor stone lions topped with glass makes for a pretty unique table! Even salvaged columns could look neat used this way.  It might be an option for filling up that wall if I can get Cam to approve.  Something like this along with large scale art might do the trick.

For now, I'm happy that we're not still eating at a folding table with metal folding chairs. Even better is that we actually get to use our dining room instead of trucking everything at meal times to the basement like we have been for weeks before the floors were done!

Thanks for putting up with my scattered thoughts and ideas.  I've had sick kids and the hubby was travelling so my brain isn't functioning like it should!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Entryway plans

About our entryway I mentioned yesterday.  We don't really have one. You open the front door and you step right into our living room.  But, we are going to create one of sorts!

I took this photo before we cleaned up the mess from installing the hardwood, but if you can look past the cans of Poly and tools, you'll see the area I'm dealing with. And yes, that's left over wood. We still need to do our basement landings and some closets yet.

Anyways, we stopped the hardwood a few inches from the front door so that we would have an area to tile. Wood and snow/salt/sand are a bad mix and tile should hold up much better.

We plan to tile from the front door all the way to the wall that you see below with the coat hooks.

And that cute little hexagon shaped window there is our inspiration for the tile we plan to use. That window is the only original one we left in the house. It's leaded glass and we loved the shape of it, so it stayed.

Right now, the plan is to use a matte black 2" hexagon tile I sourced from the Tile Shop. It's around $5.00/sq. foot so pretty reasonable price wise.

Here's entryway with something similar, to give you an idea of the look we're after.


I'd love to add a pattern with a few white tiles, but Cameron kind of cringed at that idea. Tiling isn't his favorite job to do and adding a pattern would just complicate things.

But it does look soo good, doesn't it?


I'm pretty sure we'll be doing black tile, but I'm a little worried that dust and dirt will really show.  I saw this image while researching and wonder if a lighter tile would be more practical??

Via Lonny

It's not happening immediately anyways, so I have time to decide.  Once we're all done though, I'd like to add a nice bench next to the stair case and a big basket for throwing hats, mitts, etc. In the summer I can toss our flip flops into it and keep the area looking a little orderly. 

Don't really have an entry yourself? All you really need is a bench or chair, some cute hooks, a basket, and if you have room, a small table to set mail and keys when you come in the door.

Via House Tweaking
How do you create a space you don't really have? What do you think about the tile? Dark or light?

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Finished floors!

I suppose a follow up post on the flooring is in order.  We've been enjoying our new floors for a few weeks now and they definately make the house look and feel a whole lot closer to being done!

We are so thankful for my younger brother, Matt who spent his entire vacation time working on this project with Cam. If it weren't for him, I'm sure we would still be trying to finish! He even had to use an old fashion manual nailer, so we really did put him to work!

If you read my last post, you saw the flooring installed.  Here you can see them starting to stain. This was started after they spent a few days with a floor sander we rented from Home Depot. All of the sanding created a ton of dust and took a good amount of time to clean up before the staining could happen.

The staining was a two step process. My brother wiped on the first coat and then Cam followed behind with a second coat.  It went so, so much better then when we did the upstairs flooring. Remember that fiasco?

Once the stain dried overnight, they could start applying the Poly.  We used an oil based product called Fabulon. It's a two person job, as one pours some of it and another needs to spread it out with the roller as you see below. 

Once the Poly dried we hand sanded with a fine grit block to remove any bubbles or dust, then vacuumed and wiped the floors down before applying another coat. We did this process a total of 3 times and then we were done!!
Next up is the trim and baseboards, as well as a section in the front room that we are going to tile.  With Iowa winters as harsh as they are, we decided to create an entry that's tiled to keep the snow, salt and dirt from being tracked onto the wood floors. I'll fill you in on that plan soon.
Front/Living room

Dining Room

Dining Room
Master Bedroom

Kitchen(with my new dishwasher!!)
Laundry Closet(still needs shelving/storage)
And as if having new floors wasn't awesome enough, more good was in store. You know how I said it'd take me months to clean up the dust that made it's way into everything? Well, it didn't because help showed up! My mom decided to surprise me and came for 2 weeks! We had the house back in shape with time to spare.  It was so nice to get to see her again and of course the kids loved it too!

Monday, December 30, 2013

House update!

Hello! Hope you all had a Merry Christmas! Ours was different then most years as we stayed home instead of travelling to AZ to visit family. While I missed getting together with everyone(and there's a lot of us!)and could have used the warm weather, we wanted to take advantage of Cameron's time off work and get things done on the house.

Lucky for us, my brother Matt,(who works with flooring for a living)was willing to spend his holidays with us to help out. We decided it was a good time to install the hardwood on our main level so we could be rid of the stacks of wood/tools that have been taking over our living space. It gets old trying to keep a busy little boy out of it all, not to mention his little sister who's doing a great job of keeping up with him!

My brother came Christmas Eve and after celebrating Christmas day with him and a few other friends and family members, the hard work started. The guys have been putting in long hours leveling the subfloor and now installing the wood. I moved out of the house with the kids and invaded the in-laws place! Too much mess and noise for the little ones. Today a friend took the kids for me and I got to spend some time helping with the install. I snapped a few pictures to show you the progress.

This is going to be the master bedroom when it's finished. The flooring will be stained the same as the upstairs level. The door to the right is the unfinished master bathroom, currently storing all our appliances!

The same room, looking at the wall opposite the windows in the picture above. Someday there'll be a built in wardrobe running along this wall. The outlets are wired for lighting above it.

If you don't mind looking past the mess and random stuff that's everywhere, you can see our dining room.  This is the view from the back of the house, looking towards the kitchen and living room. The laundry closet is behind the doors on the right.

Below is looking at the dining room from the kitchen, leading towards the backyard.

And this is a lovely shot of the view when you walk in the front door.  I think when the floors are finished it's going to take me a good month just to clean the place up!

The mess stresses me out sometimes.  But when it does, I can now go upstairs and see that it'll be worth it all when it's done! The trim and floors are finished on this level of the house and we've installed a few light fixtures. It's getting so close to looking like a livable home!

I'm waiting until the floors are done downstairs before I do a thorough cleaning upstairs and organize/start setting up the rooms. I can't wait to get things put together!

Hope you all have a Happy New Year! I'll be back next week with more updates and to share my plans and some recent finds for these rooms!

PS. You can follow me on Instagram if you want more frequent updates on the house/projects/kids etc!  I'm @jmmccalley

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