Sunday, 30 December 2012

Laundry room - update #1

I made some pretty significant progress in the laundry room yesterday. We got the new light hung with very little trouble. Thank goodness, as I have quite a few other fixtures in the house that need to be changed, and a willing husband to help with those changes is necessary.

The chandelier looks great. As you're walking up the stairs to the second floor you look straight into the laundry room, so a pretty light on the ceiling was a must.

Matthew thinks that the chandelier is a little over the top for a laundry room, but (not surprisingly) Cal loves it. I think it's perfect for this room - it's simple and clean, and with the shiny chrome it looks like it was made for a a laundry room or bathroom.

The countertop is also finished. I sanded it down and applied three coats of clear gloss polyurethane. I debated using satin or gloss, but went with the gloss in the end. The room is really small, and I figured that the light reflecting off the countertop will brighten things up. It's a beautiful, smooth surface for folding clothes now.

Today I need to go and choose a paint colour for the walls. I have this fabric that I plan to use to make curtains.

I think I'll get something along the lines of the darker blue, and paint three of the walls Cloud White and the wall behind the countertop the accent colour. Off to Home Hardware I go!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

The laundry room

Today is the day that I'm finally going to tackle the laundry room - and I'm posting it here to make sure that I feel pressure to actually make some movement on it.

There's a fair amount of work to be done. The ceiling is painted, but the walls are only primed and some of the woodwork is still bare. The wood countertop (from Ikea) needs to be sanded smooth and then varathaned. And I plan to put up some drying racks on the walls over the counter. Something along the lines of these ones.

Our laundry room is long and narrow - approximately 8' x 5.5'. It's hard to believe looking at it now that it was our main family bathroom for 10 years.

While we were renovating the family room/kitchen I decided to get the 36" gas range that I had been lusting after for years. This necessitated the removal of the base cabinet between the fridge and the stove. It was replaced with a unit half the width of the original bank of drawers and we reused the drawers in the laundry room. We had to use one of the drawer faces in the kitchen, so our contractors replaced both drawer faces on the unit with MDF so that they match each other. I plan to paint the cabinetry and trim all white, so they'll be unified.

We will, of course, be replacing the beautiful bare-bulb light fixture.

With a shiny chrome chandelier that I picked up at the Habitat for Humanity Restore.

I though it was great as is, but when I got it home and unpacked it, there was sparkly bling to hang on it.

Now comes the hard part - luring Alan back up on the ladder to hang it for me with the last light-hanging fiasco still fresh in his mind!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

The hall tile conundrum

We've been procrastinating about making a decision on tiles for the front hallway. It's one of the last big decisions to make, and we just can't seem to pull the trigger on it. 

The hallway is quite long and narrow (13'6" x 4'), with an outer vestibule and an inner area that opens up into the living room. We used to have a solid wood door on the inside doorway that we had to keep closed in the winter as the old front door leaked so much cold air. With the new front door installed, we've been able to remove the inner door, freeing up space and letting in a lot more light in the winter.

We've decided to go with marble tile on the floor. I love the look of mosaics, and the most beautiful ones are always in marble. The plan is to use a 12x18 or 12x24 tile, something along the lines of Carrera, in the outer vestibule and then have a mat of the marble mosaic in the inner hallway with a border of Carrera around the outer edge. Similar to this floor done by Rambling Renovators.

I taped out an area on the floor corresponding to the size of the mat that I'm planning.

The giant air return in the floor is a bit of a pain, but it's just one of those things you have to work around in an old house. And it's pretty rusty right now, but that's nothing that a little elbow grease and a fresh coat of Tremclad can't fix.

This afternoon Alan and I went looking for tiles for the mat part of the floor. We went up to Saltillo Imports as they have a big selection of mosaics. Now the hard part is going to be deciding which one to choose.

My favourite was this one. 

but Alan liked this one best.

The other contenders are below.

I think that the top one is too swampy, the middle one is too disorienting (it's called illusion!), and the bottom one is the only real contender of the three. I think that I like it second best, ahead of the round pattern that Alan prefers.

Most of these mosaics are on back order, so we have a bit of time to make the decision. Which means that we probably won't give it much more thought until the end of January when I need to call and place the order. But at least for now I don't have to feel like I'm procrastinating about something that really needs to be done!

Monday, 24 December 2012

The calm before the storm

It's Christmas Eve, and we're all ready for the onslaught of family. My three siblings, their spouses and collective nine children, along with my mother and Alan's brother are joining us tonight. The boys are beside themselves with excitement.

The new sectional for the family room arrived in time for Christmas and it looks gorgeous with our new paintings. I'm looking forward to spending some time relaxing there over the next week.

And after a busy day today, the food is prepared, the house is clean, the children are bathed, and everything is in order for an evening of entertaining in our new space.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Let there be light

Ever since we moved back into the house we've been living with a bare bulb dangling from the dining room ceiling.

Not so classy. The problem was that with work and all the hockey on weekends we had no time to go shopping for a fixture. Since we're having the whole family over for a Christmas Eve party tomorrow, I decided that this weekend was time to take the bull by the horns. Yesterday afternoon after the kids played shinny at a local outdoor rink for two hours (and we had them captive in the car), we headed off to visit Sam the Chandelier Man down on Queen St. West. The kids protested bitterly that they were too tired, hungry, sore. You name it, they complained it.

When we arrived at the store, though, they were struck speechless. And so was I. It was like nothing I had ever seen before.

There were hundreds of lights hanging from the ceiling and one tiny, narrow, aisle to walk along. It was barely wide enough for two people to pass, and was strewn with bits of broken bulbs, dropped crystals, and dozens of empty McDonalds coffee cups. It was almost like we had entered an episode of hoarders. The boys were fascinated; Matthew looked at the lights and listened to Sam, while Cal gathered up coloured crystals from the floor and quietly played with them.

Sam has an amazing stock of chandeliers, and is a willing storyteller to boot. We spent the better part of an hour in the store, listening to him talk up the merits of various pieces. I don't think that he was going to let us leave the store without buying something. We finally settled on a six-light crystal chandelier from the 30's.

After much discussion in the store, we decided that Alan could install it. He's installed lights before - how difficult could it be? The chandelier had been re-wired, and the wiring in the house is brand new, so we figured it should be a piece of cake. It turned into a three hour job. Up on a ladder. With our hands above our heads. While Alan worked on the wiring, I stood there holding up a box that held the light so that no crystals would crash to the floor. Ugh.

At one point during the job I decided to get my camera and snap a picture of Alan up on the ladder working with the junction box. You know, for the blog. Not such a good idea. Apparently the flash and the noise made him think that he'd crossed the wires and was being electrocuted. Ooops. I won't post the dirty look that I captured 'cause I don't want to end up in divorce court.

Anyway, after a long and torturous afternoon, we managed to get the new chandelier installed. And it looks bee-you-tee-ful.

It's  more ornate than I imagined us buying, but we decided that if we were going to go for a chandelier, that we should go all the way. And since we live in a century old house and have a lot of antiques, it fits.

The boys love it. It always makes me laugh when they notice something in the house that they think looks nice because they're typically so oblivious. This evening Cal kept calling me into the dining room with no lights on in the front half of the house so that he could switch the chandelier on and admire it sparkling in the dark.

I'm happy to finally be rid of the bare bulb hanging from the ceiling, especially since we manged to get it done before Christmas. One more thing crossed off the list!

Saturday, 22 December 2012

New sideboard

It's been a busy week around here in the run-up to Christmas. Work has been hectic as we were trying to get two manuscripts submitted before the Christmas break. I've also been squeezing shopping in on lunch hours. Combined with company for dinner, cookies to bake for school parties, and the general running of the house I'm pooped.

While I didn't manage to make any progress on house projects this week, we did buy a new couch for the family room. It's being delivered this morning, just in time for all the entertaining we'll be doing over the next couple of weeks. It was an insane week for spending; we payed off the last installment of the reno, bought the couch, and as a Christmas present to each other, we bought the snow paintings.

I love them. And the new gray fabric couch is going to look beautiful with them. I'll post pictures later after we get the old furniture out and the new couch in.

I also picked up a new antique sideboard for our living room as it was looking really bare in there. I like the sofa centered under the window, but it leaves a large empty space over to the left.

And an ugly electrical outlet exposed.

The fireplace surround is also quite weighty and could use something to balance it out, and we can always use extra storage. So I've been keeping my eyes open for a small sideboard. I found the perfect piece.

It's a similar style to the longer sideboard in the dining room, with the pilaster and door trim detail. But best of all, the top drawer pulls out for use as a tray. Living in a small downtown house, I love it when things do double duty.

It's amazing what a big difference a piece of furniture can make in a room. We went from this

to this.

I think the next hunt is for a picture or mirror to hang there. And I can't decide if I should flank the window with pictures, or hang drapes across most of the front wall. I'm thinking that drapes might be the better choice as they would make the window seem more substantial and provide a neutral backdrop for the room.
We're having the whole family over on Christmas Eve. I have a few small things I'd like to get finished up before then, and after Christmas I plan to tackle one or two of the big projects. I'm definitely going to paint the laundry room, and may do the second floor hallway and stairs. Including the 10,000 pickets that need a fresh coat of paint. I am not looking forward to that torture!

Wednesday, 19 December 2012


I'm an avid user of Pinterest. I love being able to store ideas in a way that I can take them all in visually, instead of bookmarking websites and having to remember what the heck I was interested in just by the title.

And I've wiled away many an hour browsing the pins of friends, family, and complete strangers. I have troves of projects that I'd like to complete some time in the future all neatly filed away. And I've successfully completed projects that I discovered on Pinterest - like the Santa wreath I made with the kids last week.

But while I love Pinterest and trying out projects, I've had several failures. One of them was the dresser-drawer-to-shelf project that I did last month. It looked like such a simple project - and the originals were so cute!

Mine turned out like this.

Not so cute. Or as Matthew would say - epic failure.

They don't have any of the pizzaz of the ones that I tried to emulate. For one thing, they're too big. I knew from the start that they might be - but I figured it was worth a try. And some of the trophies are quite tall, so I hoped it might make them seem not so, I don't know, big. The paper used in the back is also too busy. I should have found something with a simpler graphic design.

Matthew seems to be pretty happy with them anyway. As soon as I finished getting the paper put in the back he was running down with a load of trophies to try them out.

I haven't had the heart to hang them up yet. Matthew likes them and wants them in his room, so I'll do it. But I'm not excited about it.

I guess as far as Pinterest fails go, this one is pretty mild. There are a lot of failed Pinterest projects around the web - in fact there's a whole website, called Pinstrosity, centered around them. For a good laugh, go check out some of the really epic Pinterest fails that people have experienced.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas

Last weekend Cal and I spent a couple of hours putting Christmas decorations up. Usually Alan and I are scrambling to get our tree up and decorated by Christmas Eve - by some small miracle this year we had it up by December 6th for our lab Christmas party. It has a bit of a Charlie Brown look to it as we let the boys put the majority of the ornaments on and haven't bothered to move any around to cover up bald spots, but I find that kind of endearing.

I  don't do a theme tree. Or maybe my theme is the history of my family. I have construction paper Santas that my nephew Ryan made for me in kindergarten (20 years ago), macaroni angles that my nieces made for me when they were small, and a big assortment of things that my own children made for me over the years.

This year Callum is especially enamored with the "golden" macaroni angels crafted by Laura and Alison many years ago.  

Besides the tree we've put out a few other festive things. A couple of years ago my SIL gave us a set of knitted reindeer. They're really cute, but I was stumped with what to do with them. Cal and I came up with a plan that started out with this assorted paraphernalia.

I strung the garland up along the stair railing using the red ribbon, and Cal attached a hook to each reindeer and hung them up along the length of garland. Thankfully, he carefully read the names of the reindeer and organized them in the proper order before hanging them in line (I might have had to change them around if he hadn't).

Since the reindeer are brown and it was looking a little dull, we added in some gold and silver balls. I think that I might also add in some twinkle lights to give it a little bit more oomph.

We also strung up some ornaments in the dining room window and decorated the mantle with the nutcracker dolls I've had since I was a girl and an angel that Matthew made back in the preschool room at daycare.

It's nice to have the house decorated this far ahead of Christmas - if only my Christmas shopping was going as well!!!
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