Moving Day!!

Craziness is happening at the house and I’m here with the movers trying to empty the apartment. Sad to be leaving this view:

20121031-110719.jpg And Nala will have no more of this:

20121031-110813.jpg But I’m excited for the new adventures in LA and living in a partially renovated house. Let the games begin!!

Crazy Week Ahead

Happy Monday!

I’ll likely be MIA this week as I’m packing and moving into the unfinished house on Wednesday. I thought I had a good start on packing but with the trip to Chicago and Detroit, I’m super screwed with the amount that needs to be done before the movers arrive (or I’ll pay them to pack which makes no financial sense).

Anyway, I came back from my trip to find that my contractor had completed everything I asked and the house looks AH-mazing. I have a kitchen, pantry, powder room, and master bathroom with proper plumbing, electrical and a little bit of drywall! Inspections are tomorrow and then the pretty stuff comes in!

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I’m so happy about the progress! I’ll leave you with a pic of how Nala spent her weekend.

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Traveling Today and New Walls

I’m on the road traveling today but I had a very productive day yesterday with our inspections going well, the kitchen and new powder room demo’d and ready for framing, and the bedroom walls and ceilings are all finished.

The guys have a work plan for the next few days while I’m gone and I hope that everything gets done during my absence. We’re only 6 day away from move in. Yikes!

So my current dilemma is what to do about the walls. I planned on adding wallpaper to most rooms but now that the walls are as smooth as a baby’s bottom, I don’t want to touch them (plus I’m traumatized by my pathetic attempt to remove the last wallpaper). I’ll post some of the wallpaper ideas next week but look at these smooth walls. They make me so happy!!

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It’s the little things ;).

Renovation Realities: Decisions Decisions

This might be completely obvious to most people but there are many decisions to make when renovating a house.  I think the adjective “many” is not strong enough as it feels like MILLIONS of decisions.  On any given day, you are making decisions about small and large issues and sometimes you need to make them with little time to think about it.  

As a designer, it’s fun to make decisions about other people’s houses and spaces.  It’s almost as if I can look at the space and meet with the client and quickly have an idea of how I think the space should come together.  This initial idea might change over time as I work with the client but it’s very rare that I just have no ideas or am hesitant in making suggestions.  

This is the exact opposite of how I feel about my own house.  I’ve been planning and thinking about the house for months now and I’m still hesitant to pull the trigger on certain things.  It’s almost ridiculous in that I spend hours researching, I go to the store to see the product, and then redo it all a few weeks later.  This indecisiveness has left me scrambling this past week trying to finally pick the tile and bath fixtures because the contractor is ready for them NOW!  So now I’m kicking myself for being such an arse and not buying it weeks ago and might be forced to compromise and get my second choice items because I was so lame.  

So the advice this week from Renovation Realities is to be prepared to make decisions and try not to procrastinate. 🙂

Renovation Realities: Progress!!

So over the last week, there has been a ton of action at the house.  We still have a long way to go before it’s pretty but I’m so excited to see actual progress.

Here’s what’s happened in the last 6 days:

A lead abatement company came and removed all the tile that contained lead.

New windows were installed.

New plumbing has begun.

The new ceiling fixtures in the bedrooms are wired.

All the walls (and ceiling) in the bedrooms and hall have been skim coated and just waiting on one coat to make it super smooth.

Wish me luck because the next week is going to be crazy as it’s the last 10 days before we move in to this mess.  We have inspections, tile installations, more skim coating, etc. that all has to get done in the next week.  And to top it off, I had the audacity to plan a trip starting in the middle of the week and won’t be around for 4 days while the guys work.  I know it’s pure genius 🙂

Happy Monday!!

Tough Decisions: Wood Floors

If you follow me on Instagram (joystreetdesign) or Twitter, you likely know that we have a gorgeous chocolate labrador retriever named Nala.

She’s awesome in many ways but like all labs, she sheds like a beast.  She also has a tendency to vomit and it appears that she looks for any carpeted area (bypassing wood floors) when she does it.  All that being said, we (meaning the hubby) doesn’t want to have carpet in the new house.  So we’re looking for affordable solutions for putting hardwood floors in over 2000 square feet.

I’ve been dying for walnut floors in the new house.  However, walnut floors are terribly expensive ($8-$10/square foot) and evidently not very hard (a softer wood than most).  But aren’t they gorgeous.

So I could get a different type of wood (oak, hickory) that is stained in a walnut finish:

Hickory stained in a walnut finish

But recently, I came across a new-to-me type of wood that has similar variations and tones to walnut called Acacia.

It’s a little busier than walnut but I think it looks gorgeous once all down.  The price point is good ($4-5/square foot) and it’s a super hard-wearing wood.
What do you think?  It’s a big chunk of change and essentially no take-backs (:-)) once it’s down.  It’s on sale for the next four days so I’ll have to make a decision!
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Brass Tacks

A big trend for the last few years is the infusion of brass and gold accents back into home decor. We all remember the early days of shiny brass (likely in the houses we grew up in) and the influx of chrome and silver accents to make spaces look more modern. But now everywhere we turn great designers are using brass and gold accents in wonderful ways. (This seems to coincide with the lack of popularity of gold jewelry as well…and now it’s making a comeback too!)

20121016-214344.jpgKelly Wearstler

20121016-214848.jpgEmily Henderson has a self-professed love for brass.

20121016-215304.jpgLove this kitchen and hood.

In designing client spaces as well as my new home, I’m trying to balance the inclusion of lovely brass fixtures and accents while also ensuring that the space stays classic in the future. It’s a very delicate balance but I’ve decided not to use brass on any of the common everyday items/hardware and bring the brass in the lighting and other wow fixtures. So the door handles and hinges will be chrome but I’m hoping the handles on the kitchen cabinets will be brass. The reason I’m making this distinction is (arbitrary :)) partially due to replacement costs and personal tastes. It’ll be easy, cheap, and maybe even rewarding for someone to come in and make the kitchen look different with new cabinet knobs. On the other hand, door knobs/levers are boring, cost 10-15 times more than a kitchen cabinet handle, and will likely be the last thing that gets changed in the house.

I’m excited about the mix of metals and how they will interact in the house. I was able to do a little of this in the last bedroom I designed.

20121016-220441.jpgBedroom with brass lighting, dressed knobs, and curtain rod.

As the house comes together, I’ll reassess and determine if I need more of one metal to make the look work.

Are you experimenting with bringing in different metals in your home? Wearing more gold that silver or platinum?

Renovation Realities: Budget Schmudget

In the next tale of renovation realities, I thought it would be nice to discuss budget realities and how they truly affect the grand plans I had for the house.  As most dreamers, we started out with a fairly unrealistic budget that was slowly increased to account for the changes we wanted to make.  However, even after increasing the budget considerably (about 60%), we realized that we still weren’t going to get everything we wanted and we would be required to do some serious DIY (laying the hardwood floors, painting, etc.). The issue with this “realization” is that there are many things in this renovation that need to be done now and then there are things that make sense to do it the proper way now while we are in the midst of the ugly part of the renovation.  So there is only so much we can take out of the budget to make it work for us while doing a good job in getting the house ready for us to live.

Case in point: The house after 3 weeks of renovation and over $30K in costs:

If it’s not obvious, the house looks the f$#*ing same!  Yes, the house has a new HVAC system, new insulation, new windows, etc. and feels much better and has passed building codes but it’s still ugly.  And I’ve already spent a shit ton of money!  That’s crazy talk!

All that being said, I try to keep reminding myself that this is not our “forever” house and we don’t need to spend a ton of money to make changes that won’t truly impact the feel of the house.  It’s hard to remember this when I’m planning and dreaming but when I sit down to look at the budget I somehow don’t have a problem remembering :).  Here are some of the changes that we’ve made to the plan now that the budget has gone haywire:

  • We will no longer be taking down the wall between the kitchen and the family room.  It was going to costs almost $10K when all was said and done and it just didn’t add that much to the house.  We have a large wall opening between the two spaces and I’m not the biggest fan of a completely open kitchen anyway (I hate looking at the dirty dishes during a dinner party).  So I’ve reorganized the kitchen and can now focus on making the kitchen more functional and pretty.  (I’ll share updated plans soon.)
  • We’re not going to tear down all the walls in the master bedroom suite.  After doing the math, we would lose about 2′ in the bedroom just to gain a separate bathtub, shower, and toilet room.  While those things are important to me, due to configuration issues with the windows, etc., I didn’t love the floorplan and wasn’t terribly excited about the new bathroom.  So instead of spending another $5-7K to create just the shell of this bathroom that I wasn’t terribly excited about, I think it makes sense to keep the current floorplan and create an awesome shower (spending more on tile and other fancy features).  I’ll lose the bathtub but I could take a bath in the guest bathroom and call it a day (I’ve taken maybe 2 baths in the last 6 years :)).
  • The popcorn ceilings throughout the house are not actually popcorn and can’t be removed simply (or for the price initially quoted).  Lucky for me the ceilings are plaster and require several skim coats to make it smooth.  It’s going to take at least 2 weeks, cost twice and much, and totally mess up my schedule/budget.  The ceilings are something I’m unwilling to live with so we’ll be doing this no matter what.

On the bright side, today is the first day of real construction and things will start looking pretty.   I’ll snap some progress pics along the way.

P.S. Would love to hear from readers if they are enjoying these renovation realities posts.  Of course I think they are interesting but what the hell do I know :).

Design Files: Loungy Bathroom

I had the pleasure of working on a bathroom re-design for a church last month.  It was a relatively small space but the client wanted to work on changing the dimensions while also creating a nice relaxing environment.  The directive I received was to create a bathroom that was similar in feel to a Nordstrom’s bathroom.  These are the inspiration images the client provided:

The initial layout had two small bathrooms.  Before I came on to the project, the pastor and crew came up with this new layout.

I was to focus on the women’s bathroom so I made a few tweaks and came up with this floorplan instead:

Instead of having a door that led to two industrial looking stalls, we decided to remove a wall and create floor-to-ceiling dividers between the toilets.  This created a little more space in the entryway while also giving a more high-end look to the functional part of the space.  I then created a seating area across from the vanity to create a more “lounge feel” similar to the inspiration images.

For finishes, the budget was tight but we were able to find travertine tiles at a great deal.  We will use the travertine on the floors and up the walls with a decorative mosaic as a chair rail of sorts to break up some of the travertine.  Here is a rendering of the space:

The client didn’t love the turquoise color and we haven’t picked a sofa/loveseat yet but the construction work is finished and the tile is being installed.  I’ll post real pictures when it’s all done!

Have a great weekend!!

Obsess Much: Professional Packers and Movers

I’m in the middle of packing up our house for the move at the end of the month and I’m obsessing right now about professional packers and movers.  We’ve had the service in the past and it is amazing – they pack everything in your house, drive it to where it needs to be, and if you’re lucky (and pay for it) they will unpack a few boxes when you arrive at your new location.  Unfortunately, we can’t justify the expense in the middle of an overbudget renovation but a girl can dream.