Experiments in DIY

Shower finished! Sort of! And bathroom update plannnsss!

Long long long long LONG ago Phillip and I decided we were going to retile our shower and everyone knew this was a bad idea, but everyone was nice about it anyway. It was a mostly miserable experience and I don't think one single part of it was easy or straightforward AND the project as a whole is still not FINISHED per se, but hey, we took showers in it this morning! 

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Do I know why these pictures are different sizes? No I do not. At least they are right side up, okay? ANYWAY. AS YOU CAN SEE: this shower is lacking a door, which we must special order and which will most likely cost as much as we paid to redo the backerboard and tile. It also looks dark and dreary and SAD, so I am calling it The Prison Shower Cell. This is most definitely not the shower of my dreams, but HEY, it was 1) CHEAP and 2) no longer rotting behind the tiles! I think that's definitely a win. You can probably also see those red edges... THAT, my friends, is a product called RedGard, which is basically a liquid plastic that you paint onto the backerboard to waterproof everything. It takes the place of putting waterproof plastic over the studs. (I think. Who really knows?) When Phillip was taking off the tile at the very beginning, we needed to basically cut off giant sections of drywall (THEY TILED ON DRYWALL, EVEN I KNOW YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO DO THAT) and so what you see there is the leftover area where we ripped off drywall, but didn't tile over it. Maybe we should have? Actually, that would have greatly complicated the tile pattern (since you can see we used GIANT TILE)... What we really should have done is not cut off so much drywall. Or used small tiles and tiled everything. But oh well! C'est la vie! The plan for that is to put up super thick white trim and just cover it up. You don't need to comment on it because THIS IS GOING TO WORK IT HAS TO WORK THE END. 

BESIDES. One day (when I'm seventy or eighty) we're going to split this bathroom into two and we'll wall off that doorway and professionals will have to deal with it. SO THERE.

Here's what faces the shower:

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Why the wall and pocket door here, house builders? (OH I WON'T START THAT AGAIN, SORRY.) Anyway, Ikea shelf from our first apartment, wire baskets I picked up at Fred Meyer this afternoon, random picture frames I collected from around our house and decided they don't go so I just left them there...

And here's where I have BIG! PLANS!

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Oh hello white vinyl cabinetry matching all the other white vinyl cabinetry in the rest of my 1980s house! HERE ARE MY PLANS (brainstormed with EBJ, obvs). 1. Sand down the wood trim around the counter and under the mirror and either leave it an unstained lighter wood or paint it white. 2. Frame the giant mirror with white trim a'la millions of Pinterest pictures. And 3. paint the wood drawer and cabinet trim a DARK TEAL to match ... (dum dum dum)

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...that little pendant light I picked up at Target a few weeks back knowing I would have to find SOMEWHERE to hang it. So this is opposite the sinks. Until this afternoon the tub was overflowing with tools and thinset mix and broken tile and ARGH. But now it is sparkling and beautiful and MINE ALL MINE. I hung the fabric covered canvases I used to have in my living room (before the gallery wall) and putting some color in there was JUST THE THING, Internet! I feel like if I paint the trim a color and frame off the mirror I might be able to stand my bathroom until we remodel! When I'm seventy or eighty! 

Does the shower match? NOOOOO. I'm hoping that when we remodel (when I'm 70 or 80) each bathroom will look right, but for now OH WELL. Prison Shower Cell and teal pendant must coexist. (My future dream shower is all glossy white/glass/aqua, OBVS.) 

Anyway, I'm super excited because PROJECT! And not a big horrible one either. A couple bucks for a quart of deep teal paint. I will have to deal with the shower and door trim at some point - that RedGard can't stay forever alas. But I can use my bathroom again! And it will be colorful! And HAPPEEEEEE. 

(Please, someone pray we get a commercial kitchen lined up soon so I don't start going ape over my house again aaauugghhh)



There's only room for one man cold in this house and it's not going to be MINE

I'm trying super hard not to man cold it up around here, but JEEZ LOUISE I feel hammered.  And not the good kind. I pretty much zombie walked through my day, and when EJ decided she didn't feel like napping, I didn't let that prevent MY nap. I just stuck her on the couch with me and gave her my phone. The tiny bit of sleep I was able to eke out had an Angry Birdsish scent. 

Katie came over this afternoon and figured out the Baking Plan, which is good because I was in no shape to organize anything and someone has to run this business. We have a whole bunch of things due Sunday, which is terribly inconvenient as my Christmas party is Saturday. A certain someone (NOT ME!) is planning to wake up at 4am Sunday morning to let the croissants rise. Hey, she chose that department. I will be sleeping until I really shouldn't anymore, then trucking a giant breakfast pastry order down to Tacoma. And then I will pass out on my parents' couch for the remainder of the day. 

Oh wait, no! I will come home and put more bakery orders together because WE! ARE! BUSY! 

(This week anyway.) (I am wondering if I have to give up my Christmas party in the future.) (NEVAH!)

Speaking of, if any of you just happened to show up at my house next Saturday night I would be DELIGHTED. 

It's not just the baking about which I'm a teensy bit twitchy, we still have the matter of the Bloody Shower. I like to refer to it this way because 1) it's red, and 2) my secret inner Parliament MP enjoys saying Bloody in reference to hugely aggravating things. Oh, and it's red because on Monday I slathered three coats of RedGard over the whole thing. TECHNICALLY we can start tiling any time we want but, ah, we are frightened. Basically I don't want to attempt tiling without Phillip, and because Phillip has been working late every night (ISN'T THIS HIS LAST WEEK?!) and also I've been SICK, tiling has not been happening. 

So the PLAN is to go get our Christmas tree Friday evening when Phillip SUPPOSEDLY will get home early, and then we'll have the whole weekend to destroy our Bloody Shower. Is it possible? I am under no illusion that we will have the whole thing finished by Party Day, but I think we could at least get the rest of the bathroom USABLE. Right? We have to tile, grout, put up trim to hide where we tore off too much drywall, and order and install a shower door. NOT HAPPENING BY NEXT SATURDAY. But I think we could get the tile up. Maybe I'll even experience a burst of confidence (and health!) and take the rest of the project on myself! 

I bet your favorite posts are the ones where I basically process everything on my to do list. Those are So! Interesting! Whatever. I'm going to bed. It's 7:48 PM. Bite me.

Bakery update! First shower reno update! (Note to self: LAST shower reno.)

Katie calls them Pity Orders, but you have to start somewhere, right? So far Internet Katie has ordered cookies, Internet/Real Life Carrie ordered a cake, Real Life Friend ordered a cookie box, and we have two more orders from real life people. My mom's BFF wants to order a bunch of things for a brunch she's hosting and a friend of mine wants to order little holiday cookie treats for all of her coworkers. I deeply DEEPLY appreciate our friends' and family's enthusiasm and YES, I WILL TAKE THEIR MONEY. Thank you! 

It was super hard to put that proposal together tonight because we're still not sure how much everything COSTS. I mean, we know how much it costs to make a certain item and we know the rule of thumb Katie's pastry school profs recommended for pricing things, but it's still hard. You don't want to give anyone sticker shock, especially your family and friends are throwing you pity orders (THANK YOU), but you also want to 1) stay with the going rate and 2) know your worth. In accordance with every "how to price your cakes" article I've read on the internet, we don't want to be known as The Cheap Cake Lady. 

We still haven't done the final read through on our application. I wasn't motivated to do it over Thanksgiving, knowing we couldn't mail it in yet anyway. Besides, we were busy tearing out a shower. 

OMG THE SHOWER. Okay, so I've had a pretty firm "Let's hire professionals!" stance on most home improvement projects. I feel okay about paint, but not much else. But Phillip, who is still reeling from the small fortune we spent on our deck this summer, refused on principle to hire anyone. "WE CAN DO THIS OURSELVES!" he proclaimed, loud and far, and FINE, PHILLIP CHEUNG, let's get it DONE then. I finally declared that Thanksgiving weekend was The Weekend Of The Shower and he grudgingly agreed and then? 

On Thanksgiving night WE TORE OUT THE SHOWER. Okay, I should say that Phillip tore out the shower. And I cannot overemphasize the CRAZYPANTSNESS of Phillip and me doing a home improvement project on our own. Neither of us knows anything about anything. Thankfully there are many tutorials on YouTube and thankfully we also have two handy friends on speed dial. Not that we've needed them. (Yet). 

I'll have pictures for you later, but right now you can imagine the Before: boring gray square ceramic tile, disintegrating grout, sliding shower door. And the Right Now: New cement board backer with taped seams, ready for its first coat of RedGard either tonight or tomorrow, depending on how I feel. (The rest of this project is pretty much mine, Phillip having done all the heavy lifting and ripping and cutting and garbage collecting, poor guy.) 

I have to admit I was thinking that we'd just knock a couple tiles off, see how the backerboard was doing, and stick some more on. I did not realize (BECAUSE I AM AN IDIOT) that we were going to rip it down to the studs. I did not realize that even if the backerboard underneath IS fine, the easiest thing is to rip it down to the studs. So that was exciting! HA! It was filthy and gross and we weren't sure what we were doing, but when we got to the part of the shower where the drywall (BECAUSE THEY TILED RIGHT ON THE DRYWALL) was WET (WET), we felt vindicated. 

But you know, I'm pretty sure that's the original shower and the house was built in 1988 and hey, that's not too bad, right? There were some teeny tiny dots of mold on one stud, but no other damage that we could see. So I feel like even if our tiling job sucks, at least we're using much better materials and everything should turn out okay. 

Speaking of materials, as I was taping the seams yesterday I decided that the white subway tile we bought was probably going to cause a divorce. Like, it just seemed SO small and tedious and the walls are not especially level and I was freaking out about bumps and AUGH. I didn't want to stand in my shower every morning and get mad at the tile. So I told Phillip we should probably return the white ceramic tile for the big tiles Home Depot sells at the end of the tile aisle. We found a grayish beigeish stoneish 12 x 12 tile for CHEEEEEAP and I picked out some coordinating mosaic glass tile for an accent row at the top. (That's about as artsy as we're going to get.) And I'm disappointed. It is NOT the clean, bright, white/aqua shower of my dreams. It's greige and neutral and HO HUM. I don't think it's ugly - I think it's FINE - but it's definitely not my favorite. BUT. It was super duper crazy cheap (while still being Quality Wall Tile For A Shower) and now I don't feel too bad about splurging on a frameless shower door. (The shower door frame is the entire reason I hate cleaning the shower.) 

BESIDES. One day we're going to remodel the whole bathroom, split it into two, maybe even enlarge the master bedroom side, and THEN I will have a PROFESSIONAL make me a beautiful sparkly white-and-aqua shower. SO THERE. 

I know. You don't care. This was entirely too many words about tile. I understand. 


In which my imaginary kitchen cabinets become a metaphor

I was just overcome by a giant burst of Productivity, and instead of doing the dishes or cleaning my room or getting caught up on laundry, I sorted and reorganized my giant stash of gift bags and tissue paper. For yes, I am one of Those People. I do indeed save wrapping paper, ribbons, nice shopping bags, pretty much anything I can use again, and for the last several years I've been stuffing it all into this enoooormous Storables shopping bag with a giant rip down one side. 

Anyway, I decided to haul it all out of the big closet downstairs and bring it upstairs into the Multipurpose Room Off The Kitchen That I Still Don't Know How To Organize because it's a huge pain going to that closet every time I need to wrap a present. Over the last year I've been slowly moving all my crafty supplies upstairs to the Room That Has No Name. For someone who isn't terribly crafty I have LOTS of craft supplies. It's all more useful to me up here and I don't have to get angry every time I go downstairs and see that Someone (AHEM) has totally destroyed whatever semblance of organization I set up in the storage spaces downstairs. 

But I am telling you all this because I need to know how you deal with House Functionality Issues. Especially when you have a Grand Plan but you can't execute it yet because the kids are too young. FOR EXAMPLE. That downstairs bedroom and closet will one day house my two girls and all the junk we keep down there will have to go somewhere else ANYWAY. The fact that my two girls will not be moving in together any time soon does not keep me from trying to figure out where everything is going to go. It actually makes me crazier because I can't just DO IT. 

A few weeks ago I think I told you I spent hours on the Ikea kitchen planner and mapped out exactly what I want to do with our kitchen. At some point. When we win the lottery. Because even an Ikea kitchen will require lottery winnings at this point. (REMEMBER WE BOUGHT A DECK? SIGH.) Well, now I've decided that I need to have ANOTHER wall of kitchen cabinetry to line the back wall of the Family Room Or Is It A Breakfast Area off the kitchen. Right now it's just an empty space. And I like it that way. Most people, when I start yammering on about my kitchen, think I'm going to incorporate it INTO the kitchen. But I love that extra space (at least right now) for kid projects and kid meals and parties and Christmas cookie prep and roman shades DIY and anything else we decide it's for. What it doesn't have is storage. What I want is a wall of cabinets that match what we'll pick out for the kitchen. One big cabinet for brooms and mops and cleaning supplies (WE HAVE NO PLACE FOR A BROOM IT DRIVES ME INSANE) and the rest just shelving for all the Extra Nonsense I have lying around up here. Craft supplies, wrapping supplies, my grandmother's china, the serveware I only get out for the Christmas party, table linens, candles, vases. I could move all the stuff in the buffet into these cabinets, get rid of my buffet, and have a more spacious dining area. 

And I want to do this NOWWWWWWWWW. 

I am really super not good at holding off on things. And it's not like I'm banging down Phillip's door to go to Ikea tomorrow or anything. I KNOW a few years of savings are required. I just can't STAND having a solution that I can't implement! I can think of other solutions, but it feels wasteful somehow to spend money on a second choice solution when I already know what the IDEAL is. 

You are all rolling your eyes right now, aren't you. I get it. I understand. Patience has never been one of MY virtues. 

Did I tell you my roman shades are a bust? I've made three out of the four and they ARE super cute and that elephant fabric IS the cutest fabric in the world BUT. The shades themselves are CRAPOLA. I accidentally cut the string on one of them, which YES I was furious with myself blah blah blah. I fixed it though and hung it up, only to realize that the second string on the same shade is on its last thread. So I can't use them. And I am so DISGUSTED. This is how I feel about most of my attempts at House Fixing Up. Good idea, poor execution, ridiculous outcome. God help us if we ever decide to go ahead and retile our own shower. 

Oh, don't get me started on the bathroom and the $30K of work our contractor said it would require. HA HA HA. 

Why am I fixating on this right now?! This has been a very weird day. Towards the end I realized that most of it, I think, has to do with the fact that Jack started school but Molly didn't. It's like my kitchen plan. I know what's going to happen and how great it will be, and it's so frustrating in the meantime because I can't just DO what I wanna DO. It's felt pointless to get into a new routine when the Molly factor isn't in place, but this whole time I've been SO FOCUSED on getting to that place. You know? I don't do well in in between spots. 

And I know. It's only a few days. Clearly not something to get bent out of shape about. Except I am, and I didn't mean to and I don't want to, but I AM and it's hard and GAWD I'm just ready to start the new normal already. 


Take a gander.

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Isn't it a beaut?!

I don't know what those cabinets are called. I've seen them in a million houses, but I have no idea what to google. And no one ever posts before pictures of THESE cabinets. So I've been feeling like the kitchen is sort of a lost cause, at least until we have the requisite bazillion dollars for a total gut job. Besides, it's totally functional and I don't hate using it, the way I hate the bathroom layout every time I go in there. It's been low-ish on my list of things to stress about. 

Until it occurred to me that I wouldn't HAVE to wait until I had a bazillion dollars to make some substantial changes. Namely, my evil enabling SIL found a bunch of pictures online of THESE cabinets with a Rustoleum Cabinet Transformations makeover. I'm just going to apologize now because I? Cannot find these pictures anywhere. I'll have to have her email me the links. But anyway, people PAINTED these cabinets. And they looked AWESOME. I mean, as awesome as painted laminate cabinets go, which turns out is pretty awesome. I was super impressed. SIL spent an entire afternoon investigating the possibilities and yes I did go out that very evening to purchase my own paint kit. 

This was our vision: 

  • dark gray cabinets ('Castle' on the box, although later I found out I can have that paint tinted any color I want. It doesn't have to be one of the colors on the box.)
  • ripping off the oak trim "backsplash" and replacing with a strip of sea glassy tile in blues and grays and translucents
  • some brushed nickel modern hardware
  • painting the oak trim around the tile counters the same aqua as the walls in the little room off the kitchen OR
  • staining the oak trim around the tile counters AND the butcher block bar height counters a deep espresso

My house is super white and light and I felt like I could pull off a darker kitchen. I think clean lines, dark colors, and Ikea-looking pulls would look "right" in this house. I got super excited, mainly because it felt like something I could DO. I'd still have the same beat up floor and the same tile and grout countertops, but everything else would feel so different. And I could DO it. It would take a while, it would be inconvenient, but I could DO it. 

Then, right before the kitchen designer dude (the consultation I got for free from Home Depot) was supposed to arrive, Phillip and I had a Discussion. 

Here's the thing. I am... impulsive when it comes to house stuff. And I don't have a lot of patience, I don't like to wait around, I'd rather spend an entire day doing something and getting it done rather than a few hours here and there during the week. I don't zero in on the professional way to do something or the "best" way, I tend to look and see what other people have done, what the options are, and go from there. Which isn't to say I just up and paint something. I spent a loooong time reading about painting furniture before I cracked open the primer for my craigslist cabinet. And I feel like I have some experience now. I now have opinions about what to use spray paint on, what tools to use for regular painting, etc. Painting is no longer intimidating to me AT ALL (see: the archives from when we bought our townhouse. HA.)

PHILLIP on the other hand... opposite of impulsive. In every way. Maybe I've mentioned that it took two years for him to suggest that maybe we start dating? Phillip's perspective was: we just finished the deck. We just shelled out a ton of money. What is this new thing my wife wants to do now? What sort of mess will I have to live in? Does she know what she's doing? What if it looks worse? Aren't you supposed to use a sprayer on cabinets? You can't paint LAMINATE! I'm tired of things not being done! I'm tired of things not getting put away. THIS IS STRESSING ME OUT. 

It was a hard conversation, mainly because as soon as someone implies that I am not going to do a good job I immediately get offended, hurt, indignant, and irrational. So then I was all, "What evidence does he have that I will screw this up? What else have I done around the house that sucks? Where else did I do a bad job?" and getting super upset because HEY I'VE MADE OUR HOUSE REALLY PRETTY. AHEM. 

But see, this is where the enneagram comes in really handy, people. I'm serious. I'm a Three and Threes feel loved/valued for what they accomplish. Someone expressing doubts about me and what I can do? TWIST THE KINFE A LITTLE MORE, WOULDJA? Phillip is a Nine with a One Wing. Nines want to be comfortable, not living in a DIY kitchen zone. They also hate making decisions and someone throwing questions at them at lightning speed? Like me? Demanding answers? Makes them IRATE. Can't they just go sit on the couch and eat some chips and NOT DEAL WITH THIS? Also, that One Wing - the Perfectionist - makes him liable to zero in on the screw ups, the places where the paint chips, the brush strokes are visible, the way his wife thinks she can just sand and stain a butcher block countertop where it IS... WHAT IS WRONG WITH HER? 

The "discussion" ended with me saying I was not going to paint the kitchen cabinets. It's just not worth it. I'll give Phillip a few months to roll it around in his head and me a few months to decide if that's really something I want to do. I think Phillip DOES trust me to do a good (and mostly right) job, but it's not fair for me to just up and decide that we're going to do this huge project. 

But then the designer came over. Sigh. I found him... pleasant with a touch of annoying. He wasn't a designer so much as a Home Depot sales guy who knows how to put cabinets together. Part of talking to him was great - he was there to sell us on refacing cabinets and he figured out a solution for our tiny wall oven, creating a new space for that, building new cabinet frames, getting rid of the ledge where the old microwave is currently sitting, all that. So helpful. He made it sound POSSIBLE, which is what I like to hear. He also described things in phases. We could do the cabinets and oven as Phase 1. We could get new appliances for Phase 2. For Phase 3 we'd get new countertops. Whenever we could afford to make those things happen. 

Then he said that just refacing the cabinets we have (and building a couple of new boxes for the wall oven situation) would be in the range of $16K to $20K. 


Maybe I've been watching too much HGTV, but I thought that would be the cost for entirely NEW cabinets. Maybe I'm totally in la la land, but $16K to $20K just for CABINETS doesn't seem worth it to me at all. I feel like I should get brand new insides for that! At least! After a few snide remarks about Ikea (whose cabinets I happen to like more than any other store's, so far) he left his card and a brochure and drove away. We ended up feeling like, "Well! That is good information to have!" 

And so I go back to the painting cabinet idea. One thing Phillip could handle if I wanted to do something NOW is testing the paint kit on our bathroom cabinets which are exactly the same. The kids' bathroom would be a great place to test out all our ideas, right? I still very much like the idea of painting them, but since that weekend I've seen a few other things and now I have a few other ideas. 

This concrete countertop idea, for example. I thought you had to pour concrete into forms to make this happen, but this link Elizabeth sent me is basically painting concrete onto your existing countertops. INTERESTING. Also CHEAP. Phillip and I have both talked about concrete countertops as an option, so when I sent him the link he was actually amenable! But I couldn't do dark gray cabinets and concrete counters. Now I'm wondering if I should try the dark gray in the bathrooms, see how that works, and decide about the kitchen. If it does work I'd also want to test out the concrete. If we were going to go with all of that for the kitchen (and honestly, just TRYING it sounds kinda fun to me) then I'd definitely want a lighter color for the cabinets. I'd get either a new kit or go the Centsational Girl laminate route, where you use oil based primer and then whatever color you choose. (No primer in the kit.) 

Also, Phillip, being an Almost Perfectionist, suggested we get a paint sprayer if we're going to do this. Did you know he considered getting me a paint sprayer for Christmas last year? This is hilarious to me. ME. A PAINT SPRAYER. (Would I even know how to use it?) 

So... this is all definitely on the table still, just farther down the table. Seriously, if it's going to cost 20 grand just to switch out cabinet doors, then painted laminate, a $15 concrete mix, and a $100 worth of backsplash tile sounds super great to me. Even if I have to do it myself. Even if I don't do it perfectly. It sounds FUN and it sounds like DIFFERENT. I like both of those things! 

I also want to say: MY KITCHEN IS JUST FINE. I need to say this to ME. My kitchen is fine. It's big. It's functional. Everything works. Everything fits. It's light. It's bright. Just because I'd tear down walls and redesign the whole thing if I COULD doesn't mean I am currently living in Kitchen Misery. That's ridiculous. White quartz countertops will not make me happier. (At least not for long.) Sleek modern cabinetry will not make me a better person. An oven that fits my biggest cookie sheet WOULD be an improvement, but we certainly manage to bake and eat heaps of cookies without it. Much like my pants size, how pretty my kitchen is should not determine how I feel about myself. 

All right. That caveat out of the way - I think it'd be SUPER FUN to start painting/tiling/concreting things. As soon as my marriage can handle it, we'll get started. WHEE!


Dare I say we were PRODUCTIVE this weekend?!

Sometimes we don't have any plans for the weekend, no one to visit, nothing to do, and that's when Phillip and I look at each other and say, "FINE, LET'S FINISH THE STUPID [insert house project here]." And we're in bad moods about it too, because as nice as finishing house projects is, neither of us are what you would call "handy" and it takes forever and the kids get in the way and we disagree and that's why we probably shouldn't start them in the first place. 

But anyway. There was no small amount of shock when we finally built the ultra cheapo but uber functional bedside tables I picked up at Fred Meyer six weeks ago. 

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I bought two of these on sale, rushed home, opened the box and saw that 1) it was missing the little bag of hardware and 2) the instructional diagram was about one hundred times more impossible than Ikea instructional diagrams. So I boxed it back up, shoved it in a corner, forgot about it, lost the receipt, yeah. Until this weekend when Jack and Molly were headed to a playdate RIGHT NEXT to Fred Meyer and I started to feel guilty. They let me exchange it without giving me a hard time, probably because they knew what a PITA it was going to be to put those suckers together. 

But I think they look nice! At least they are a huge improvement over the pine TV tray-type tables we were using as nightstands. Haaaa, classy. Also, that's probably as uncluttered and un-dusty as the top of that table is ever going to be. I clean up for the internet. 

The PLAN for our bedroom is to get rid of the giant red couch and get a KING SIZE BED. OH YES. I HATH DECREED IT SO. This bed is Phillip's from the College Days and the some of the slats are broken and it's all chipped and unhappy. I want to get maybe a [king size!] black upholstered bed and add a few more pieces of supah fancy white Hemnes bedroom furniture. We have the tall dresser right now, but I'm batting my eyelashes at the long one. 

Okay, but we put the nighstands together while we waited for the PAINT to dry on the WALL HOOK TRIM. 

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Did I not tell you I started a pre-K? 

Phillip bought that piece of trim eons ago and I bought the hooks eons ago, but we left everything in the garage. AS WE ARE WONT TO DO. Anyway, I made a stink about it starting yesterday and we finally got it up this afternoon. We had to mark up a lot of area with pencil, drive to a friend's house to cut the trim, get out the trim paint YET AGAIN, but it was fairly easy for us House Novices. We even managed to screw it into a few studs, totally on accident. Woo!

I still need to get a few things for the entry way walls, but otherwise it's done. No more paint or furniture or rugs. I'm quite happy with it too. All the storage choices are working out, there are decidedly fewer shoes strewn about and I'm hoping the same for coats now that the hooks are up. AND the bench is almost always available for sitting and shoe taking off/putting on. Goals: accomplished! 

I thought my next project would be Emma's room. Hers is the other bedroom on the main floor besides ours, it has huge windows and great light, high ceilings, and a Pergo floor (the only part of the house that does, curiously enough. OH THE QUESTIONS I HAVE.) I *think* I want to paint this room a darker gray (the grays I chose for the hallway and my bedroom could also be described as a "sort of dirty white?") with a lot of bright white and hot pink accents. Eventually it will be Phillip's office OR, if he feels like it, at some point I could switch out Jack for Emma, the girls would be downstairs, Jack would be upstairs and we'd keep the larger bedroom (and attached bathroom) downstairs for the office/guest room. I don't know. If I think about it too much I get all STRESSED which is RIDICULOUS because YEARS! We have YEARS! BUT WHATEVER. I think a real gray would not be too dark at all for that room and would easily accomodate Baby Girl decor, Grade School Boy decor, or Husband's Office junk. 

However! Pulling that off is overwhelming. I paint while the baby sleeps, but how do I paint if the baby is sleeping in the room I want to paint? HMMM? Maybe I should wait until she's not in the crib anymore? All the baby furniture - basically a super stained upholstered rocking chair and a much abused and half-broken Ikea dresser/changing table - needs to go at some point. Maybe I should just wait and do a Toddler Girl room? MAYBE I AM JUST COMING UP WITH LAZY EXCUSES?

In the meantime I am plotting a Pinterest-Approved Gallery Wall:

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Tres boring.

This is where I used to have a shorter brown hallway table and 3 canvas frames over which I stapled obnoxiously bright and flowery fabric. It... worked? It was something? I guess. Turns out that table looks awesome in the entry way and functions much better down there. I went and bought the table I originally and always wanted for that space - the super narrow Chloe foyer table at World Market. Tis awesome. In the corner I stuck my Goodwill chair that I painted coral back when I wanted a desk and coral accents in my bedroom. (This was pre-red couch.) But all over that wall, which is quite... expansive (bad picture, but it goes up pretty high) will be FRAMED THINGS. Of all shapes/sizes. Mostly white frames, but with a few dark brown, and lots of (obvs) yellow and aqua in the pictures. I have photos, prints, Etsy printables, and artwork that isn't necessarily working in other parts of the house. I have a lot of frames already and I hope to just spray paint them white to save money. I started gathering them all up (you can see them stacked under the table) and I'm hoping to get started on that this week. I have MANY large blank expansive wall spaces in this house, but this is the only one that I really feel could pull off a large-scale gallery wall, sort of asymmetrical and not-strictly-matching, but Highly Organized. At least, that's how it looks in my head. WE SHALL SEE. 

(Oh, by the way, this is at the top of the stairs - entry way below, living room to the left, Emma's room to the right, taken from the dining room. The kids like to run laps around the stairwell. I have a weird house.) 

The Aquaway

I want you to know that I just wasted several hours of my life searching my phone and computer (and Facebook profiles and blog posts) for Before Pictures and I only found TWO. I am BEYOND IRRITATED by this. I really really wish we had somehow 1) found a way and 2) thought it IMPORTANT enough to keep the pictures of the listing from when we BOUGHT the house. Those would be worth it for the minty green living room alone. ALAS, I HAVE NO IDEA WHERE THOSE ARE. 

Here's the entry way before I painted it the first time, last November or December (I can't remember.) 

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You can't really tell (OBVS) but the walls were kind of a yellow green color. There's a Crayola name for it, but it's not lighting up in my brain right now. MUCH of the house was this yellow green color, pastel and kind of sickly. Not my favorite. Or even close. WAIT. Now I'm wondering if these are pictures I took while the new paint was DRYING?! GAH GAH GAH

WHATEVER. And then here is the entry way AFTER I painted it Boring Cream (which was really the only color I could think of, at the time) but before I painted the doors white.

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Not HORRIBLE but definitely not awesome. And I knew that as soon as I was done painting. But, you know, I had a TWO-MONTH-OLD, I wasn't going to paint the stupid entry way AGAIN. 

(The bench, which is awesome, is from World Market. The sconces are the cheapest ones at Lowe's. The coat rack is from my parents' house in Italy. The basket on top was originally full of cheese and chocolate and bread and given to me at the hospital after I had Emma. The pictures on the wall are of my old street in Italy, a street map of Venice, and random Chinese scenes we collected on our trip. Also artwork from that famed and noted artist Jackson Cheung.)

Fast forward to the summer: I painted every single stupid door in my house (except bedroom closets) white. I would find my picture of the Door Painting Assembly Line on my deck from the summer, but I already wasted too much time on the entry way. Anyway, that was an improvement. I didn't do a spectacular job or anything, but the doors are seriously nothing special and looked a lot better. I did not, however, paint the edges. I was tired and had stopped caring. SUE ME. 

Fast forward to THIS past Christmas: I knew I wanted a COLOR. Hence the AQUA ANGST. (I love it. So there.) I thought it would look awesome with the white. So I painted all the trim in the entry way, plus the first stair railing, THEN I painted it a COLOR.

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Old bench from World Market, white Hemnes shoe cabinet from Ikea, coat tree from Ikea, rug from TJ Maxx, pillows from World Market (I bought them to go on my couch last year and didn't like them, they've lived on a shelf since then), white mirror from Target. 

This is not really how it was supposed to be arranged - I wanted the shoe cabinet in the hallway, a chair on either side of the coat tree, but the shoe cabinet was a little too wide for the hallway and it didn't fit (if we also wanted seating) on the wall underneath the sconce in the corner. So. It's where it is. It's also screwed into the wall, per Ikea's instructions. It's nice to have a little shelf there (that's the door to the garage) and I'm looking for pictures to put above it. I wanted the white mirror there, but they are two different whites (THE HORROR) and the mirror was actually too high to be useful (for me, anyway.) 

As for the BENCH... Phillip was all, "just put it in front of the window!" Which works, but it BUGS ME. I would prefer two chairs that are sort of angled towards each other. What do you think? The bench just barely fits on the wall where the door opens. By which I mean the door opens wide enough to use, but hits the bench. So I don't know. I like the bench and I like as much seating as possible (we are a no-shoes-in-the-house house), but obvs it has to LOOK RIGHT. This doesn't look quite right to me. 

And the RUG. BAH. I really really like the colors and pattern of this rug and it was cheap so it's staying. But putting anything on the floor is a huge pain in the butt. I've told you about our Pine Needle Issue before. We sweep constantly (okay, we sweep before people come over) and any rug or floor covering is going to get in the way, never stay in place, be filthy, etc. BUT it looks COLD and BARE without a rug. Anyway, this one is terrible, it's slippery, it doesn't stay in place, it's too small for the space, BUT I like the patter and the colors, it looks okay if I shove it in front of the furniture and not pretend it's a rug for the whole floor, and it's easy to shake out. So. It stays for now. 

The last things I need to do are buy faceplates for the light switches (the old ones were cream - unacceptable) and put up the white trim and hooks on the wall in the last picture. We've purchased these things, we just haven't put them up yet. Of course. That's where the kids will hang their coats and backpacks and other assorted annoying junk. 

I wasn't sure I would like the coat tree. I REALLY LIKE THE COAT TREE. We are also actually using the coat closet. I KNOW. 

I knew I would like the shoe cabinet. Phillip has been anti-this shoe cabinet for YEARS. Who knows why! But we've sort of exhausted all of HIS preferred options, and in the last several days I've heard him marvel once or twice, "All the shoes are put away!" It's kind of a weird piece of furniture, but it looks clean and it's easy for the kids to use. Infinitely better than the shoes in the bench or the metal rack we keep hidden in a hallway. 

So there it is, internet, The Aquaway TM Emily Cassee. I need thoughts re: chairs vs. bench, if chairs then WHAT chairs, what to put above the shoe cabinet, rugs. GO. 

P.S. if you look VERY CLOSELY you can tell that I finally painted the edges of the doors (the ones you see in the entry way, anyway) and I painted them AQUA. HA.

House Projects That Would Embarrass A Proper Lifestyle Blog

I keep thinking that I am going to do this grand Before and After post with my bedroom. And my living room. And the room off the kitchen that we don't know what to call, but since I painted it aqua blue we call it The Blue Room. And pretty much every other room in this house. 

But none of these rooms are finished! I am despairing that they ever WILL be finished. (Although, when I think about having a Finished Room I get a little bit anxious because WHAT WILL I DO THEN???) 

So anyway, I decided that I am fooling no one, and it's not like I am taking GOOD pictures anyway, so why not just post some stuff and call it good. ALLRIGHTY THEN!

(Please excuse the INCREDIBLY POOR quality of these phone photos!) 

Here's what I bought today:

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I was looking for something subdued in blues and yellows and grays. I think I found it, don't you?!

I plan to cut this into three pieces and wrap it around:

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Thank you Jo Ann coupons!

Basically I am making Cheapo "Art". My first idea was to put up a bunch of fabric covered frames/canvases on the gigando wall behind my couch. My second idea was to put up two fabric covered frames on the wall next to the TV by the piano where there's a big unhappy blank spot. But when I got home I decided this fabric was a little MUCH in that corner, and I am no longer into the lots-of-fabric-behind-the-couch idea, but I do have another spot that needs something with color:

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We call this space: Where All The Storage Boxes Go To Die.

This is what you see when you climb the stairs to the main floor of our house. A giant blank wall and a giant blank space. My plan for this space keeps changing, but right now I am thinking a skinny console table where I would like to have some sort of trinkety display (which will probably, in reality, end up being a display of keys and wallets and phones.) And I am thinking of hanging my Cheapo "Art" above the table. Bright! Cheery! Not fighting for attention with all the other stuff in our living room! I love it. 

(As for console tables, I like this one, but I am also thinking something from Goodwill or Craigslist painted a mustard yellow or a dark teal or something I couldn't get away with in the main room.)

Then I thought I'd show you my curtain "headboard". (Do you like how all of my decorating choices are in quotes?)

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Phillip hates this, btw. "It's like there's a WINDOW. That's WEIRD."

Whatever. This was CHEAP and EASY and makes a huge difference in blank wallness. When I went to Target to pick up another curtain panel (see pictures below!) they were OUT. And this entire color group was on CLEARANCE. And I PANICKED. But they had a tablecloth! For five dollars! So I bought that and a curtain rod, also on clearance, and drilled that sucker into the wall myself. The tablecloth was turned into a curtain with the magic of an iron and that hem tape stuff. TA-DA. Yes it bows in the middle because it's just one panel and I didn't want to cut it, but I sort of like how it bows? Shut up. 

But see the giant blank wallness?

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Mess courtesy of J. Cheung and "Quiet" Time. More quotes! Am on fire! 

I was not a fan of moving our couch into our bedroom. I spent an entire day rearranging everything and finally came up with this scenario. I still don't love it, but it's so much better than before. I mostly hate that it's CHERRY RED and the other color I wanted for this room was CORAL or PERSIMMON. And I painted my nightstand CORAL or PERSIMMON and had grand plans to find another nightstand to paint CORAL or PERSIMMON but NOW??? I don't know. I also can't find a nightstand to paint and/or buy. So. It's all moot anyway.

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"Oh!" we said when we first saw this house. "A balcony off the bedroom! Think of all the reading we'll do at an adorable patio table!" Because we forgot we live in Seattle where you can't go outside. Ever.

The other end of our bedroom. The couch used to be in front of the window. I know. It was terrible. Oh and in case you were wondering (and do you even have to ask?) 99% of the stuff in this room is from Target. The other 1% is Ikea. Except for the bed, which is from the Phillip Cheung Bachelor Collection circa 2000. Oh, I guess there's also the CORAL or PERSIMMON painted nightstand, which is one of the many trillions of things the previous owners just left hanging out in the house. WHATEVS.

Speaking of things I painted:

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You can't tell, but this is WHITE and AQUA. LIKE EVERYTHING ELSE IN MY HOUSE. 

Here's that giant cabinet I bought on Craigslist a while back and painted white. I have before pictures somewhere. I will post them one day with the after pictures. This is not the after picture. First of all, I need to DECORATE somehow, but I have no idea with WHAT. I bought those little turquoise lamps at Marshall's. Not that you can tell what they look like. And the cabinet actually has these ornate doors to cover up the drawers, but I haven't painted those yet. So this is the Not Yet After picture. Deal? 

Oh WOW these pictures are awful. I'm sorry. Next time I will use my real camera (not that this will improve my photography skills). And I do have before pictures somewhere. LIFESTYLE BLOG FAIL! 



A blogged Pinterest board

Master Bedroom

Curtain Headboard

  • black curtain rod, at least 70" long (cheap at Target)
  • coral/white fabric (chevron? paisley-ish?)


End of Bed Bench

  • the door the sellers left wedged between the fridge and the pantry cupboard
  • foam
  • table legs
  • coordinating fabric (same as curtain headboard? same as window curtains?)

Some sort of small console table for my jewelry box

Living Room

Wall O' Bookshelves (And Television)

  • Built in Billys? Have not decided where this falls on the scale of One to Bat$%&# Crazy.
  • Ask our friend the contractor PM if he thinks we could pull this off.
  • Include fireplace? Does that move it farther up the scale?

Seating That Is Not A Couch

Finish painting doors for the white Craigslist cabinet

Decide on floor lamp or table lamps

  • If table lamps, I need another small console table to wedge behind the couch
  • Perhaps someone will buy this for me

Phillip wants curtains. These would have to be GIGANDO. A print in blues/grays/yellows.

Something to put on the blank wall. WHO KNOWS WHAT THIS WILL BE.

Emma's Room


  • currently a sagey green that looks half decent with pink and white
  • could repaint turquoise and haul in a ton of yellow?

Dresser/Changing Table

  • get a new one? (because the drawers are starting to stick)
  • spray paint white until we get a new one?


  • Probably plain white (or plain yellow?)


  • Stupid pergo floor is 1) cold and 2) hard on my feet. What is not super expensive?

Something to put on the blank walls. AGAIN. WHO KNOWS WHAT THIS WILL BE. 



Resolutions Day Five!

Soooo for THIS resolution I planned to have a certain PROJECT all FINISHED so I could post PICTURES but, er, YEAH, that is not going to happen. See previous posts re: baby who does not sleep during the day. 

Resolution: I want to do more DIY stuff! Inspired by Pinterest, Elizabeth Nebraska, and spray paint, I am now more interested in what I can fix up from craigslist than I am in the newest West Elm catalog. I KNOW! TIS CRAZINESS!

I bought that giant buffet thing and I spent most of last weekend deglossing, priming, and painting. Unfortunately I still have a long way to go. I have the frame and drawers 95% finished, but I think the doors are going to take me another weekend or two. This is okay. I did not underestimate how long it would take me to do this. In fact, I may have even OVERestimated. I was thinking I might finish this thing in, you know, JULY. But now I am thinking March. February even! WHO KNOWS!

Something about having a new house that is mine all mine and knowing that I am never going to move again in my entire life so help me God makes things totally different. It's really fun and kind of exciting to think of all the ways to fix up the house and decorate. What was I reading the other day - I think the Caitlin Flanagan article about Oprah in the Atlantic? Something about men never understanding what a house MEANS to their wives. If it were a Reads and Recommends Friday I would find this for you, but today I am lazy. You lose. 

I picked a pretty big and not-so-easy project for my first real Redoing A Piece Of Furniture project. I'm ashamed to say I have drips, and not on the trim or fancy doors, I have it on the SIDE OF THE CABINET, a nice flat surface where there should not be any drips. But that side is at a weird angle in the garage and it's harder to reach than the other side and blah blah blah IT'S GOOD ENOUGH. (This will be the reason I will never, for example, go into a Furniture Refinishing Business. Drips! I do not care so much!)

Pictures, obvs, at some further date. 

Phillip and I are watching Portlandia, by the way. I'm not sure if I get it or not. Actually, the very beginning, where Fred Armisen is telling Carrie Brownstein about this alternate universe called Portland and it's all chock full of Northwest stereotype one-liners - THAT was funny. The rest of it is funny or I don't get it and think it's weird. POSSIBLY LIKE PORTLAND ITSELF!

Portland seems to be more "authentic" than Seattle, although I'm not really sure what "authentic" means in that sentence (or in many sentences, to be honest.) I think we have too many rich people up here. Maybe they cancel out the feminist bookstore owners. 

Speaking of rich people (NICE SEGUE) (HELLO STREAM OF CONSCIOUSNESS!) I went to a Catholic school open house this morning and DEAR GOD the stuff the parents asked the principal... I guess "pompous" doesn't necessarily equate with "rich" but dudes, one guy busted out the the word "pedagogy" in his question. AND I AM PRETTY SURE HE DID NOT KNOW WHAT THAT WORD MEANS. It was ridiculous, is what I'm saying. EYE ROLLY at the very least. 

Right here I could segue into a blog post about how I know entirely too much about the back end of teaching to go to school open houses and not FREAK OUT about how I may be missing some piece of back end information that will clue me into the way things REALLY go down. BLARGH! But I won't go there! Not right now, anyway. I have another Portlandia and a Weight Watchers Giant Fudge Bar staring at me. 

Happy Resolutions Week! THE END!