Archive for September, 2011

September 27, 2011

Panic, Trees & Carport Planning

by Cait

We’ve been working a bit on our curb appeal on-and-off this year, mostly purely cosmetic things like the porch ceiling or the Spanish tile (and I still owe y’all a post on the door tile- oops). However, this time we need to take more of a form-over-function direction.

If you missed my photo-only post yesterday, the dying oak tree beside the driveway took out its post-rain wrath on my car’s window. My granddad always told me not to park under large trees because they can randomly huge drop limbs (especially the day after a storm), yet for some reason I never thought I’d learn this lesson the hard way by parking in my own driveway. You know, probably because of the conveniently placed driveway


If we’re being honest, this was not the first time the car-eating tree dropped a limb on my car. The last time was about 18 months ago while we were in San Francisco for Robert’s cousin’s wedding. For whatever reason (probably that the limb only made a small ding on my hood that time?), we decided not to do the smart thing and listen to our parents remove the ailing tree then. We did pull a giant, been-there-since-we-owned-the-house, wedged-in dead limb out of the same tree back before Hurricane Irene, though. And there may have been some really ironic “we’re such good, cautious homeowners” type high-fiving after that. Who knows what kind of damage that sucker could have done to my car.

Fast forward back to today. Robert and I have pretty much decided to stop taking chances by doing the bare minimum after the burst pipe in the guest bathroom wall. So rather than continuing to sacrifice our cars to the tree, we’re going to have the darn thing removed. We decided this amidst all the panicking and taping of bags over my car window, but we know it’s the right decision, and one we should have done months or years ago.


We have also toyed with the idea of adding a carport along the side of our house, possibly with a covered walkway to the front porch. I don’t know that  both removing the tree and building a carport are really necessary, but better safe than sorry I guess. It’s not like there aren’t other tress in the area, and a carport would protect my car from things like hail, too. 

The (first) problem we run into is that we would be putting it on the guest room side of the house, where it may block most of the light coming in the window. Young House Love has the same issue with the window over their desk, but their office still seems to get enough light (of course that room also has a second window). As I told Robert, we could add some sort of tubular skylight later on if the room is too dark. (Though we haven’t priced those yet. Heck, we haven’t even priced the carport or tree removal yet.)  Another option is just making the guest bath window larger when we get to working on that project again, and then adding the window I’ve been wanting in the laundry room when we get to that. (Oh how projects snowball into one another.)

Getting back to carports, Kara Paslay and her husband Tim improved their house’s curb appeal by adding an arbor in front of the carport.

Kara Paslay’s carport

I also found this carport on Pinterest, but it is originally from a company that builds carports.


And then there is YHL’s carport.

YHL’s carport

So that’s our latest need-based curb appeal project. We’re hopefully getting the tree removal estimate today, and after that we’ll work on figuring out what kind of carport we may add. We would love to one day have a garage (with a studio space above it), but after yesterday I think we’re planning on biting the bullet and putting up a carport, at least for the time being.

Anyone else have to make design choices after something unexpected happened? Any other tree horror stories? Or if you’ve seen any great carport designs I’d love to see them!

September 26, 2011

When It Rains It….

by Cait

File this under “The Joys of Being a Homeowner”, “My Insurance Company Loves Me”, My Savings Account is Crying”, and also “When it Rains it Pours”.

Being a homeowner is super glamorous, y’all.

Happy Monday! </sarcasm>

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September 20, 2011

Desking it Out

by Cait

Yes, the title is a terrible pun.

As I mentioned, we’ve been working on the Closet Office recently. In the photos above you’ll notice the desk surface we were working with was quite small (the desk was about 47 inches but the workable space was about 25 inches, with space behind the left monitor for cables, a lamp, etc). We increased our desk to a 96 in long surface, which allows the monitors to be placed side by side instead of at an angle to each other.

I’d like to take a second to say thank you for all your color suggestions on the last post! It was so fun to read your opinions. We really planned on going with Spun Honey or Churchill Hotel Hazy Yellow, but a trip to Lowe’s changed our minds. I don’t have any pictures for you just yet (the computer with Photoshop is still disconnected), but I updated our Paint Colors graphic (that’s a new section filed under Source List, but the blog re-org is another story).

You’ll notice that it’s quite different the general trend we started with the other colors in our house, but we were in Lowe’s buying supplies for the desk surface and scored a $3 pint of Valspar’s Deep Peri (from the Waverly line). It was a spur-of-the-moment choice to buy the can, and we ultimately decided to go ahead use it instead of going with a “safer” option like one of our already-owned colors. It’s definitely bold. A take-your-breath-away kind of bold. But we think we like it. (Kind of shocking, right?) Fortunately it’s only paint, so if we end up hating the choice we still have our already-owned options.

I also wanted to mention some of the ideas we’re thinking about for organization.


I saw this post on Unplggd a while back, which led me to the above photo, where Rasterboy cut a Ribba picture ledge in half and combined it with an Ekby Tony shelf to create a monitor riser. I think we can create something similar without trekking down to Ikea (which is about 2 hours away).


I can’t remember how I ran across this sold-long-ago Etsy listing, but I love it! Here’s hoping we can rig up something similar.


I ran across this desk on Pinterest fairly recently, and I can’t stop thinking about what a lovely stain it is. I think I remember reading that she used driftwood stain, but now I can’t find where I read it. While we were at Lowe’s I saw a Sunbleached stain by Rust-Oleum, but I was worried the color wouldn’t look right with the wall color we used. We ended up just oiling our desktop, but I’m thinking maybe we will sand it down and gray things up a bit if we decide we don’t love the natural look.


Our closet opening is just the right size that we may be able to to mount an Ekby Alex drawer unit beneath the desk surface (unless we dedide it would take up too much knee room).

In addition to the Alex, we want to add a couple of chunky white shelves above our computer monitors. We will probably use this method as laid out by Emily of Merrypad.

Just a few of the office-related things on my mind today. Anyone else working on a office update? Shocked we went with such a bold color?

September 15, 2011

Colorful Additions and a Paint Question

by Cait

Complete cop out on post titles tonight. I’ll try harder next time.

Just a short post to show you the new pictures of the Art Room that I didn’t have with me when I posted earlier.

This yellow chair was picked out of the neighbors’ trash one rainy evening about a year ago. After a coat of $4 spray paint later it’s looking quite cheery.

We found this vintage pulldown map on eBay. It’s about 68×70 inches, and with shipping and the french cleats we bought to hang it the total came to about $90.

have I ever mentioned that the clock is from my childhood bedroom? it hung over the closet there, too

I forgot to mention earlier that we’re planning to change up the desk surface in the Closet Office. We were going to use a Lagan Countertop from Ikea, but the cost to drive to the closest Ikea plus that of the counter itself comes to about $100, and that’s just not feasible right now. Fortunately we have quite a few more of the 50 cent Ikea L-brackets we used for the current desk surface, so we are plotting cheaper options for a new. longer desk.

Otherwise, the only real plan we have is to paint the closet before installing the new desk. We have about half a gallon of the same color we painted the hallway (Valspar’s Churchill Hotel Hazy Yellow), and most of a gallon of mossy-green Oops paint. Other ideas we have kicked around are terracotta red, navy, gray. The conservative (and cheap) side of me says to use the paint from the hallway, especially with all the other bold things in the room. The impromptu poll I conducted on Twitter voted navy, but I don’t know how that would look with the blue walls everywhere else in the room. There are 10 paint chips over the monitor on the right at the moment, and I can’t pick.

Anyone have any ideas about closet colors? Desk options? I’m tempted to just go the cheap route and use the hallway color and construct a desk from all the scrap wood we have hanging around.

PS- I still owe you an updated design board, but Robert should be home from class soon. Maybe I’ll have knock-off Emeco chair pictures and a design board tomorrow.

September 15, 2011

The Room With All the Art

by Cait

Wow, thanks for all the sweet comments on the last post! I guess I may have to talk about our budget more often!

I’ve had a quirky, not-everyone-will-get-it style for most of my life, possibly even before the days of reading my sister’s cast-off Seventeen magazines (the “My Room” section was always my favorite). Of course, in those days I mostly daydreamed about what my room would look like and focused on expressing my quirky side with fashion. (I use that term loosely; it involved thrift store tshirts and a lot of pining for a leather biker jacket. If I had remembered to put a zipper in my Target bag dress I’d probably have worn that, too.)

These days I’m a little more West Elm than Spencer’s Gifts or Pottery Barn Kids, and I no longer want to paint clouds on my ceiling, but the soft spot for rustic & quirky mixed with bright colors remains. I’m beginning to realize that our style is probably best described as eBay Chic, or Rustic & Repurposed. I know it’s en vogue now to decorate in what people call the “collected” look, but around our house we just call it “buy what you love” and/or “make it work”.

I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but I feel like certain rooms in our house embody our style better than others. The rooms that feel the most “us” are probably the Art Room, the Library and the back porch (or at least what the back porch will one day become). Others are a constant struggle, like the living room and dining room.

those green chairs are so gone, and we added a little something-something to the wall

desperately in need of paint, a new chair, desk surface, and maybe a new curtain

The Art Room is very, very slowly shaping up. I didn’t really touch on it in this post, but it pains me to work on this room sometimes, since I don’t get to actually use it as my office every day. In spite of that, I’m trying to make it a space that makes me happy, both because I spend a lot of time in it (granted, usually with my head in the Closet Office blogging) and because it’s visible when you walk down the hallway.

I am drawn to a variety of styles, and sometimes it takes me a while to figure how the best way to mesh everything together. Fortunately with the advent of Pinterest the direction of the room seems to have gotten clearer (or maybe I’m just more confident in that fact that my ideas are not completely wacky).  I am still smitten with Sara’s art room, but I also pinned a bunch of fun, colorful, slightly rustic rooms on my Art Room Inspiration board.

Curbside Chair

A while back we found this chair in a neighbor’s trash and painted it yellow. Since then I had Robert spray paint it a brighter, more golden yellow (that coincidentally matches our curtains perfectly, though I didn’t even have the fabric when we picked the paint). I know that I could have spent a lot of time sanding it down, staining it, and giving it a nice glossy coat of poly, it would have had a very nice Chilton Academy-esque look to it, but it was destined to replace another curbside chair in front of the rolltop and I thought that would have been too much wood.

For the Ikea Jonas desk we are working on a chair that is very similar to the Emeco Navy Chair With Wood Seat, which we were lucky enough to get from my dad’s garage a while back. The Closet Office will get another chair we found in the neighbor’s trash, which we hope will look like this Pottery Barn chair when we are done with it (though we may not stain ours quite that dark).

from Flickr; pinned here

Ironically, the walls in the Art Room are almost completely bare (aside from the shelves we added a while back). Fortunately browsing Pinterest often reminds me of things I’ve wanted for years but then chalked up as never-gonna-happen and tried to forget about. Most recent example: pulldown maps. I have wanted one of these maps pretty much ever since watching Sleepless in Seattle. (“Look, one, two, three, four, there’s like twenty-six states between here and there.”) After seeing the above (and several others) I decided I finally needed to make it happen, so we ended up buying one on eBay (similar to the US map here).

seen on Design*Sponge; pinned here

Also, after seeing a lot of fantastic linen and burlap pinboards I remembered seeing a pinboard made with a coffee bag a while back. Fortunately Google came to my rescue, and a few minutes later I had found the Design*Sponge post I was thinking of, and also ordered a coffee bag of my very own from Etsy.

I should have an updated design board, pictures of the pulldown map, yellow chair and maybe the Emeco-lookalike for you tonight, as Robert will be in class late.

 Anyone else drawn to several different decorating styles? Or want to paint something like clouds in your childhood bedroom?

September 8, 2011

Budget Cuts

by Cait

Generally speaking I try to shy away from talking about budgeting here. The last time I wrote at length on the subject was March, shortly after Robert switched companies. It’s not so much that I’m uncomfortable talking about money (although I kind of am sometimes; I always feel like my comments come off as judging other people on how they spend their money). It’s hard to keep in mind that everyone spends their money differently when talking about budget. The “simple” ways that a lot of people cut back in order to make up for a loss of income just don’t work for us. We can’t just go “Well, I guess I’ll stop getting my biweekly mani/pedi & give up my cup-a-day Starbucks habit, you can give up your gym membership, and together we’ll stop going out to dinner & a movie weekly and skip our vacation” because we don’t really do any of those things to start with.

Robert and I often find ourselves reminded of the fact that we may not be like most couples. We don’t go out to dinner very often, we haven’t seen a movie since a spontaneous decision to see The Men Who Stare at Goats (when it came to a small theatre that sells pizza and beer in 2009). Robert doesn’t go to the gym, I have never gotten a manicure in my life, and when I buy coffee it’s $1.12 mug refill at Einstein’s. Of course that doesn’t mean we are hoarding our money, it just means we choose to spend our money in different ways. We love our house (working on it & buying things for it), we love food, and occasionally I go a little retail crazy. (Especially when the seasons change and new cuter stuff comes out. Though to be honest, when I say “retail crazy” I mean I shop sales at places like Target & Old Navy and I spend about $100 total. Last year I bought the sweaters I mentioned in this post and the boots I mentioned here.)

Over Labor Day weekend I “splurged” on a pair of gray pants from American Eagle. They were 40% off with free shipping. Unfortunately a lot of women my size had the same idea, because when I checked on my order yesterday I saw it had been cancelled (without so much as an email to tell me “sorry, we ran out of your size even though we said they were in stock when you ordered”).  I tweeted (did you know I am on The Twitter?) to vent my anger/disappointment and had a brief conversation with Kim at NewlyWoodwards.

Then earlier today I tweeted to say I was planning to go buy a sweater at Target after work.

After a long Twitter conversation with several other bloggers about boots, I started making a list of things that make me happy this fall. Which somehow morphed into a list of things I wanted to buy this fall (with the exception of my boots from last Black Friday). And honestly I was ok with that at first. Then I saw Amanda at Our Humble A{Bowe}d’s post about their kitchen plans, which made me think about our guest bath and everything left to buy for that. At that point I stopped thinking about fall clothes (mostly) and tweeted this:

While standing in Target clutching the sweater I wanted I came to the conclusion that I need to chill out with spending for a while. Even $1.12 for coffee or a couple of $20 sweaters can add up. Maybe I will rediscover all the fun things I bought for fall last year, and we have plenty of smaller projects we can work on while saving up for the bathroom. (I really, really would like to use our new tub soon.)  I dejectedly put the sweater back and came up with a few goals for this fall.

Oh and I made one more small change.

I change the dry-erase label on this jar pretty frequently.

How do y’all encourage yourselves to save up for big projects?

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