The Ugly Truth: Wallpaper Removal Blows

I’m spending my Friday morning with a home inspector. Since there is nothing for me to do during this 1+ hour inspection, I decided to try to remove the wallpaper in the guest room.

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Not sure if you can tell but it’s textured wallpaper that has been painted. It was going to cost me between $500-1000 to have it removed or re-drywalled so I figured I’d go buy $25 worth of materials and give it a whirl.

15 minutes in:

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All hopes that it would peel off in full sheets are dashed. Still not sure what type of wallpaper it is.

30 minutes in:

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It’s coming off and definitely not one of the worst things I’ve ever done. I’ll keep pushing through until the inspector finishes and see how far I’ve come.

This much left to go:

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Wish me luck! Happy Friday!!

Obsess Much: Customized Walk-in Closet

One of the new additions to our master bedroom suite is a decent size walk-in closet. I’ve been designing the space and trying to decide if we want to go with custom closets or use a version of off the rack storage solutions from The Container Store or Ikea. I will admit to being absolutely naive to the cost of custom cabinetry for the closet but even the regular store stuff adds up to thousands of dollars for a walk-in closet! (My naiveté is actually ridiculous as there is no reason for custom cabinets to costs any less simply because I’m putting them in the closet and not the kitchen or family room…duh.). So let’s ignore the cost and let’s just look at some gorgeous closets that I’m obsessed with.

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Loving the organization:

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Renovation Update – Asbestos and Lead Free

Things are starting at the house with the focus on the energy upgrade process (new HVAC, insulation, windows, etc.) and removing the asbestos filled ducts in the next two weeks.  Hopefully, we’ll get to the pretty stuff right after but I’m super excited to be getting the house feeling much better (if not looking much better).

These nasty asbestos filled HVAC ducts will be removed tomorrow morning:

Pictures of the new bronze aluminum windows (not installed obviously):

Happy Thoughts: Scenes from my weekend

Happy Monday! I hope you all had a great weekend. I had a relaxing and productive weekend all wrapped in one.

On the new home front, I received a sample door for my kitchen cabinets:

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I don’t think I like the “San Francisco” style and will likely go with a simple Shaker style but the construction on the door was great. I’ll likely order later this week (or early next week whenever demo is done and I can confirm the measurements).

The hubby and I also spent a few hours demolishing the cabinets in the garage.

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It wasn’t a major change but was needed to get other parts moving. I’m very excited about what is coming next.

Lastly, we spent Sunday evening with good friends from San Fran enjoying delicious fried chicken from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc restaurant (being served at Bouchon Beverly Hills).

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It was simply delicious along with the steak frites, mussels, and salmon tartare. (Sorry for the bad picture…we had devoured half of it before I remembered to take a picture.) We had a great time catching up and are always happy when friends come in town.

I love weekends like this where you are able to get things done but also relax with afternoon naps and enjoying time with friends and family. Well the weekend is over and I’m off to spend the day screaming at contractors because work on the house starts today!!!!

Here’s to a great week!

Custom Tie Storage

I thought it would be a good way to end the week with an easy DIY project (which never seems to be the case!). My hubby has to wear a suit (and tie) every day for work. Accordingly, our closets were overrun with ties and traditional hanging tie storage didn’t seem to make much sense.  So here’s what I came up with:

I didn’t take many pictures of the process the first time I did this project but I recreated the same drawer in our new apartment.  It’s a much smaller drawer so not as perfect but at least we have pics!

I started out by using these custom drawer dividers.

3 Inch High Kit-White Polystyrene Drawer Dividers

These were extremely easy to use but not terribly cheap.  I think I spent $60 on 3 of these packages.  However, I only needed two packages to complete both projects so I guess that isn’t too bad.

Anyway, the drawer dividers come with these sticky strips that allow you to create as many connections as you need.

You take these boards, score them and break apart to create the dividers that attach to each of the connectors.

So here’s the process:

1. Measure the width of the object (e.g. tie) and decide how wide the space between each row needs to be.  For the purpose of my project, I determined that 4″ would be the perfect size and would allow me to maximize the tiny drawer space.

2. Then you apply the connector strips on each side of the drawer.

3. Insert the divider in the connector strip to  make sure that your measurements were correct.

4. Then apply the connector strips spaced out thru the drawer.

5. Insert all the dividers.

6. Voila! Roll your ties, sort (sorta) by color, and you now have great tie storage.

This project was fairly simple and took less than an hour to complete.  But the best part is that my hubby actually uses it and rolls his ties back up at the end of the day.  No more ties on the back of chairs, the end of the bed, etc.  It’s the little things in life.

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Renovation Crazy: Master Bedroom Suite Plans

Things finally seem to be moving in terms of starting the renovation and I’ve actually received some decent news lately.  (How sad is it that my decent news is that there isn’t asbestos in my entire ceiling:)).  Anyway, let’s ride this wave of decent news and talk about  the new plans for the master bedroom.  Here is how the master bedroom and bathroom looks now:

It might be helpful to look at the original floorplan:

And here is the new floorplan:

So we’re tearing down all the walls in the bathroom and closet.  Then we will steal about 8 inches from the bedroom portion to create a 4-piece bathroom and a true walk-in closet.  The hubby really wanted a water closet so we’ve carved out some space for it (there will actually be a pocket door there).

We worked on several different iterations on this design to try to maximize the small space while still providing a true master suite with a separate shower and tub.  The costs to create this new space is significantly more than I expected but I believe that you should focus on making the rooms that you spend the most time in work the way you want.  Also, kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, so blowing our budget in this room should reap good rewards down the line.

Unfortunately, I’m all over the map with the actual design elements of the room so I won’t have anything to share for a while.  I was obsessed with having an all-marble bathroom with gorgeous herringbone tile in the shower.  Similar to this:

But I’m rethinking that plan because I’m concerned that it will be too “white” and boring.  I think those rooms are gorgeous but I live for color and just wonder if I’ll get tired of it quickly.  So I’m back at square one with design.  I’ll be sure to add updates as I figure it out.

 

Renovation Realities: Finding a Contractor

I think it would be “fun” to start a blog series entitled “Renovation Realities” where I talk about the really shitty parts of renovating my home.  The focus of the series would be on the things that no one discusses (or at least my basic internet research didn’t identify) so that it would be informative for anyone else planning to take the plunge.  Obviously, everything I say is based on my own experience and likely will be pure speculation and opinion but at least we can all be entertained by my heartache.

So my initial understanding was that to start my renovation, I should find a contractor.  (I’ve since discovered that the more appropriate course of action may have been to get my plans worked out and go to the permit department which would then allow the contractors to properly bid on my job…but that’s not important now.)  To find this contractor, I got recommendations from friends who recently completed similar projects as well as friends of friends who had thoughts.  In total, I’ve met with almost six different contractors over the last month.  FYI – this is NOT fun!  I’m not going to get into too many details of each contractor primarily because I still haven’t officially decided on who I’m going to use (and I don’t want them to read the blog and get upset that I called them an asshole :)).

But I will discuss some observations I’ve made after this process:

  • Deadlines appear to be fluid.  If a contractor tells you he will get you the proposal by Monday, don’t actually expect it on Monday….he probably meant sometime during the week that starts with Monday.  And your frustration that they have missed a deadline (without any warning) is completely overreacting.  (If a contractor doesn’t give you a specific date he will get you a proposal, you should assume it will come within 2-3 weeks.)
  • The construction business is very sexist.  It is blatantly obvious that they believe as a woman I don’t know much about construction and that they can say a lot of nonsense that won’t get challenged.  I’m not expert but I’m no pansy either…so step it up contractors as I will be challenging you!

  • The construction business is very “know-it-all.”  The funniest part about this is the contractors also think they know design.  There have been many times where I want to scream “STFU! I didn’t ask you the best way to organize the kitchen in the given floorplan!”  I’m all about a professional opinion to tell me if I can move a wall but I damn sure don’t need advice from someone about the design of the room once it’s finished.
  • Bid proposals are useless without detail, detail, detail!  You need to know the unit price, profit margins, material allowances, etc. before you can adequately compare the bids.  If the contractor doesn’t want to give you that much information, there is something probably shady about them or their method.

Another important point that most people don’t realize is that each homeowner has two options: (1) hire a general contractor (GC) or (2) be your own GC and hire out the work.  With option 1, the GC would be responsible for all aspects of the renovation including securing plans, permits, materials, etc..  For the most part, the homeowner picks the materials and finishes and approves plans but otherwise, the crappy work of dealing with the subcontractors, delivery of materials, inspections, etc. will be dealt with by the GC.  With option 2, at least in California, the homeowner has the option of being the GC and hiring out the work to subcontractors.  The homeowner would be responsible for getting permits and plans from the city, as well as coordinating schedules of the different contractors to make sure that things are going smoothly.  Obviously, option 2 is much more work but also can save you 15-20% of your budget.  (I think this is a conservative estimate for how much you save because usually all-inclusive GCs tend to steer you towards more expensive materials and finishes.)  However, option 1 is the better idea for a novice renovator and someone who didn’t want to have to deal with a ton of crap from different contractors on a daily basis.

As of right now, I’m leaning towards hiring a GC to deal with the bulk of the behind-the-wall problems (electricity, plumbing, HVAC, insulation) to ensure that I’m able to take advantage of rebate programs offered by California.  Once the bulk of the work is completed that makes the home comfortable, and we’ve moved in, I may switch to just hiring out the jobs that need to be done over the next few months.  This decision will greatly impact my budget but given the extent of our renovation, I feel more comfortable ensuring that one person/company is responsible for making the house function properly.  The pretty stuff can happen later.

Of course, it’s now been 3 weeks since we closed on the house and nothing has happened so take all of my advice with a grain of salt.  Hopefully someone will knock some wall down in the next few days!

Let me know what you think.  Do you think this will be an interesting blog series?  Would you like more detail? What do you want to know more about?  I’ll do the best I can to help.

Obsess Much: Kitchen Lighting

If you follow me on Pinterest, you have probably seen a dramatic increase in the number of pins that I’ve posted related to lighting.  I’m trying to nail down some details in the rooms for the new house and have recently been fixated on making decisions on lighting.  (I’m hoping that almost every room has a ceiling junction box so that I can add chandeliers – or really modern lighting pendants as opposed to chandeliers).

The first room up for decision is the kitchen:

I’m in love with this pendant from Serena and Lily. Just not sure if it’s practical or too much for pendants over the island.

David Hicks Pendant that is all over the web right now. Love the industrial but fabulousness feel of it. Seems a little more appropriate for a kitchen but not much bling. 🙂

The last option is completely different but would infuse some more color in the room. From Ballard Designs.

So what do you think?  What would you say when you came into my kitchen and saw the brass/mirror disco ball?

I’m also obsessed with this light fixture but not sure if it’ll fit anywhere in my house:

Lotus Flower Pendant...probably too girly for the hubby to agree to this. 🙁

Let’s get this week started!

TGIF: Live it Up and Drink It Down

I sat down this morning to write a post about renovation realities.  My intention was to explain some of the initial experiences I’ve had with the renovation (and really just bitch about things).  But it’s Friday!  It has not been the greatest week but a few good things have happened (new client, finalized some plans, made new friends) so I’m going to choose to focus on that as I head into the weekend.

My motto: “Life is too short, live it up and drink it down!”  Silhouette by  Carter Kustera.

I’m planning to be a homebody tomorrow and then head to the Long Beach Antique Market on Sunday.  Hope you have some fun plans!

I’ll be back next week to give you a run down of the renovation process thus far.  Feel free to check in on my random musings, etc. on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram (@joystreetdesign).

Fabulous Tots: Playroom Love

I hope you all enjoyed the peek at Kelsey’s birthday party.  I didn’t include pictures of Kelsey’s fabulous gift from her parents. They moved the home office and turned it into a playroom that any little girl would kill for!

I think there are still some accents that will be added later but I think it looks perfect now.  She’s a lucky girl!