Back in the States and A Little Overwhelmed

So we’ve been back home for a few days and trying to get over the jet lag and the general sense of laziness that vacations create.  There’s a crazy amount of things happening in addition to the house renovations.  I’m trying to get it all organized and focused so I can share on the blog very soon.

Anyway, I spent yesterday at the Rose Bowl Flea Market.

6:30AM - Rise and shine to get good deals!

6:30AM – Rise and shine to get good deals!

I found a few great furniture pieces for the house and, besides it being chilly, it was a good day all around.


Hard to see in the sunlight but the base has brass feet. It’ll be great in the living room.

Nice long dresser for the master bedroom.  Love the brass pulls and the great craftsmanship (signed piece with dovetail drawers)

Nice wide dresser for the master bedroom. Love the brass pulls and the great craftsmanship (signed piece with dovetail drawers)

Also bought the matching highboy but not sure if it'll go in the same room or another room.  It was too good a deal to pass up.

Also bought the matching highboy but not sure if it’ll go in the same room or another room. It was too good a deal to pass up.

There are still several pieces of furniture we “need” so I’ll be making my way to the Long Beach Flea Market this weekend.  (I was headed to Palm Springs for Mod Week with the hope of thrifting/antiquing but my plans were canceled.)

I’ll be back later this week with some exciting news!

Before and (Almost) After: Master Bathroom

The last room I’ll show this week is the master bathroom – as it’s the only room left with a significant noticeable difference.  The other rooms (living room, dining, den, etc.) are definitely different but it’s small differences that make it more comfortable – removing popcorn ceiling, installing hardwood floors, new trim, etc.  So I’ll wait to show those until the new furniture comes (and is ordered :)) before showing the rooms.

Anyway, here is the master bathroom before we moved in…in all its pink and sunken tub glory:

Master Bathroom with matching pink sinks.

Master Bathroom with matching pink sinks.

Sunken pink tub

Sunken pink tub

My inspiration for the bathroom was something classic with marble tiles and black accents:

Inspiration image

Inspiration image (Pinterest)

This is where we stand now:

Shower stall tiling completed.

Master Bath 1Master Bath 3

The other side of the bathroom is where we’ve stalled: Master Bath 2But everything is now fixed so we can finish it up:

  • Install light fixtures (already purchased)
  • Install cabinet doors (now that plumbing is fixed)
  • Prime and paint
  • Cabinet handles
  • Install thermostat for heated floors
  • Add storage

This room is clearly the most far along and I actually think we’ll finish this weekend.  I’ve said that for the past few weeks so let’s hope I’m right!!

Have a great weekend!

Kitchen Progess Update

One of the main reasons that I didn’t post much for the past few weeks is that our SLR camera was stolen.  And while the iPhone camera is fairly solid when the lighting is good, when you live in a construction zone with perpetual bad lighting, the pictures just look a little blah.   But I’ve finally ordered a new SLR camera and I’m excited to take proper pictures to show the progress in the rooms.  Hopefully it’ll be here in a few days but let’s take a look at some of the progress we’ve actually accomplished in the kitchen.

As you recall, the kitchen looked like this:

Original kitchen

Original kitchen…those lights in the soffit might just be the business 🙂

And this was the plan for the kitchen:

This is where we started with inspiration.

This is where we started with inspiration.

Due to budget limitations, we went with Ikea cabinets and ordered custom doors from Semihandmade.  The doors arrived last week and I couldn’t be happier!

Custom unfinished maple Shaker doors

Custom unfinished maple Shaker doors

I’m having the doors sprayed in a lacquer in Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue (a little lighter than the ever popular Hale Navy and Polo Blue):

Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue - HC155

Benjamin Moore Newburyport Blue – HC155

Pendant lights have been ordered and should arrive next week:

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. :)

David Hicks Pendants …so damn excited about this!

The countertops have been installed.  We decided to go with Caesarstone Organic White instead of Pure White for a number of reasons.  First reason being the price…the Pure White was significantly more expensive and I didn’t think the look justified the difference.  The second reason was that the Organic White had more movement and interest to make it look much more like real stone (in my opinion).  It’s not as white but I think that’s perfectly fine.

And of course, as you saw yesterday, we now have appliances and plumbing:


GE Cafe Appliance Suite

Still much to be done and I’m hoping to put together a punch list soon.  Once the camera is here, there will be some pretty pictures to show!!

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 :).

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):

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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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).

Patience Is A Virtue … That I Don’t Want

It’s only 8 in the morning and I’m already having one of those days. I’m working with a vendor that is seriously testing my patience My desire to tell them what to do with their product is so strong that I can barely stand it. I wish I was more like this:


But I’m much more like this:


And deep down in the gut of my Chicago belly, I wish this patience would meet the vendor in the alley:


But alas, I will sit back and just hope that everything works out while trying my best not to explode.

Hope your day is starting out better!!

Design Files: Bedroom Makeover

I recently completed a bedroom project which has to be one of my favorite to date. My client is a very stylish nonprofit executive. His bedroom was definitely not a true reflection of his style or class. He has lived in this apartment for years and had never really gotten around to doing anything to the bedroom. He wanted a stylish, sultry, and adult bedroom space. Here are a few before pictures:

Ignore the mess…he’s going to kill me for posting these before images.

Great bay window but completely ignored now.

And this is how it looks now:

The first thing I wanted to do was get more use out of the bay window. We created a window bench and added curtains in front of the bench to create a nook for laying in the window. The curtains were the first thing in the room that we picked so we used that as the jumping off point for the color scheme. My seamstress included blackout lining on the curtains so that at night he could close off the entire nook and have a very dark room for sleeping.

Window nook with bench and curtains

Bay window nook closed with blackout curtains

The room is a decent size so we painted the room (including the ugly closet doors) a rich deep teal (SW Tempe Star). It reads much more navy in the pics but it’s so yummy on the walls in the room (our contractor actually used it in his bedroom after applying it to this room).

Lastly, I wanted to bring in some brass/gold accents. I’m in love with the light fixture that is brass but has a pop of teal inside the fixture. For such a statement piece, it was super inexpensive!

Hanging pendant

To bring in more brass accents, we included it in the curtain rod and changed out the knobs on the dresser, nightstand, and bench.

In-progress Instagram pic

With the addition of a painting purchased by my client, I think the room really comes together. It feels warm and inviting. I definitely wanted to take a nap that day!

All “after” photos taken by Samantha Cooper Photography.

If you would like help creating a space you love, please contact me for design services.

Olympics Fever

For the last few days, I have been sitting on the couch consumed with watching the Olympics.  There are some sports I love to watch – gymnastics, track (not so much the field part), and swimming/diving.  Then there are sports that really make you question the governing body that determines what is an Olympic sport.  Here are a few examples:

Really….we need two people on each side to play table tennis. The table is so small that it’s comical.

Handball…no need to dribble, kick, or show any real skill other than running and throwing the ball. This seems like a backyard game with 6-year-olds and no rules.

Canoe Sprint…I just don’t get it. It’s clearly just a show of brute strength but it might be the most boring thing I’ve seen since Spielberg’s A.I.

I know everyone won’t agree with me on this but I think beach volleyball is a tad bit ridiculous as an Olympic sport. I believe if the women wore more clothes, there is no way that anyone but potheads on the beach would give a damn about this “sport” (and rightfully so :)).  

Even with the horrible coverage of the Olympics by NBC and the most asinine commentators in the world, I’m really enjoying the determination, strength, and excitement from the athletes.  Let’s end this post on a more positive note…here are my favorites winners so far:

McKayla Maroney … didn’t know who she was before this week but her vault in the team final might have been the best thing I’ve seen this Olympics.

Usain Bolt … in a crowded field of super cocky track stars, Bolt is my total favorite 🙂

And of course…Gabby Douglas.

Hope you’re enjoying the Olympics as much as we are!

Join me on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram (@joystreetdesign).

P.S. Last night there was an earthquake and neither the hubby or I moved because we were watching the Olympics.  We should probably sit down and have a discussion about priorities :).