Homesense Finds, Your Questions, a Guest Post, and a Possible Road Trip

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Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Homesense Finds

Don't you just love a good Homesense / Homegoods find? When you browse the aisles for something, anything cute amongst the ugly, tacky stuff and then DING, DING, DING you find something good. Oh the thrill of the hunt.

On my last trip I was searching for a basket that I could use on the main floor for miscellaneous baby gear: diapers, wipes, blankets, books, small toys, etc. I found this basket and knew it would be perfect. Not too shallow, not too deep, handles, square, sturdy, cute, sold.


When I was decorating Cooper's nursery, I was going for the cottage meets industrial vibe. (Does that sound odd, why yes I think it does). I had a few items from Restoration Hardware Baby in mind:

Image: Restoration Hardware Baby

Image: Restoration Hardware Baby

I thought one of these metal shelf do-dads would have looked pretty cool in his room. Buuuut, I couldn't find anything like it. A month or so after I finished his room, I came across this at Homesense:



You know I just had to get it anyway. Especially since the Homesense version was $49 compared to the Restoration Hardware version at $199. I'll most likely hang it up in the stripey room. One day I'll get around to doing that. :)

Your Questions

Your questions on my last post were so awesome! Thank you to everyone who took the time to participate. I can't wait to start putting together a post with all of the answers. Still no videos though. I'd probably say "eh" a trillion times and then you'd laugh at me.

A Guest Post

I don't do a lot of guest posts since I royally suck at submitting things on time, but when Denise at The Painted Home asked me to do a little house tour I just had to say yes.


I had brilliant plans to take all new, updated photos of our house but we all know that that didn't happen. Still, it was an honour to be invited as Denise's style, home, and blog are the ultimate in cottage-y goodness. I'm over there today sharing the photos from my House Tour page.

Possible Road Trip



My mom and I are debating whether or not we want to tackle a little day trip to our favourite cottage stores down South this Saturday. {I posted about some of the fun stores in cottage country here.} That would mean a 3-hour drive there and a 3-hour drive back with a 3-month old baby (who is still "milkshake" feeding). I reallllllllllllly want to go. Is it do-able? Or am I crazy to even think about it?


Wait a minute, how did that Coopster picture get in this post!?!?

Ask Me a Question, M'Kay

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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

So while I was surfin' the net this morning I came across a post written by Holly of In The Fun Lane where she's opening up her comments section for random questions from her readers. I thought this was a fun idea. Plus, I thought I'd give you a break from updates on our Fixer Upper in case the ugly early reno process just isn't your thing.

Soooooo, here's where you can ask me anything you like be it about decorating, renovating, eating too much cereal, life in general, cooking / baking, adoption, fashion (bahahahaha that was totally a joke)(I still shop at teeny bopper stores), photography, Coopster stuff, etc.

You ask it, I'll answer it. Holly's going to answer her questions in a video but I don't think I'll be that adventurous this time. Plus, how can I photoshop out my forehead wrinkles in a video?!?!

Now here's where I need your help. Can someone, ANYONE please humour me by asking me one little question. 'Cause you know I'm the sensitive type and if I get none I'll be sad. And cry. (You can even ask a question using the anonymous feature in the comments section if you really want.)

P.S. Cooper just punched me in the face as I was typing this.

P.S.S. I don't hold a grudge so I'll post a cute picture of him anyway. ;)


The Fixer Upper: Progress

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The progress the boys have been making over at The Fixer Upper has been in the back bedroom and hallway on the main floor.

(Here is a floor plan of the main floor so it's easier to visualize.)(Isn't the house so long, skinny, and cute?)



I shared the dilemma about not having any windows looking out into the backyard in a previous post. That situation has been solved already!

The boys took out the two matching windows, one from the side wall of the bedroom and one from the side wall of the bathroom and reinstalled them together on the back wall of the bedroom.

Old window in bedroom:



Old window in bathroom:



No window in back wall of bedroom:



Both windows reinstalled together on the back wall of the bedroom:




I know I mentioned it before but the previous owners had a zoo in that house, and we believe they used to keep their animals in both the basement and the old laundry room / mudroom. As a result the floors STANK. They were the same beautiful hardwood as the rest of the house but they were pretty much ruined. Instead of installing new floors on top of the stinky rotten wood, Alex went and ripped out the hardwood. He was shocked to find ANOTHER layer of hardwood underneath, as well as two layers of sub floor. He took out both layers of hardwood (blech), washed the old sub floor with TSP, primed it with Kilz, and then installed brand new plywood over top. There is no way we wanted any animal smells lingering in the house after all of our hard work.





The last change we made is just a small one but has also made a big difference. When the Flippers built the new bedroom, they made the doorway so close to the wall that there was no room for trim on one side (huh!?!?). I'm sure we could have just left it as is but it just bugged all of us. So Alex's dad took the door out, moved the door frame over, re-drywalled, and re-hung the door. Now it is centred on the wall just as it should have been.




The back area of the house is looking (and smelling) so much better now! The painters have also been in again and the ceilings and walls are almost done. 

So, what's next you ask? The boys (Alex and his dad) will be working on some structural issues outside before we can start rearranging the back bathroom. Yup, we're making major changes there too. We just can't stop. ;)

Curb Appeal Progress and Plans

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Friday, July 13, 2012



I've been wanting to write this post for, oh, the last month. However I couldn't very well take a picture of the house exterior with Christmas lights still up. (Hanging head in shame. With bedhead to boot.) That's right, folks. It's mid-July and we just got those darn lights down yesterday. Ahem.

What can I say though? We had a baby and bought another house. It's been uhhhhhhh, kinda busy around here.

I thought I'd share some of the curb appeal projects we've tackled so far as well as the ones planned for the (hopefully not too far off) future. 

It's always fun to see before pictures so I'll share a good before and after comparison at the end of this post. :)

Here are the first six projects that we tackled:


1. Alex, with the help of some family and friends, re-shingled the roof with some cute, two-toned grey and black shingles. Apparently roofs are important. I wanted to spend the money on other, cuter things. I lost that battle.

2. We replaced the tiny light fixture beside the door with a larger, lantern-style light. I brought a photo from a Country Living decorating book to our local lighting store and asked the worker to find the closest match. He did a good job 'cause I just love that light! We chose the "medium" size although I would have loved the larger one. The electrical box was too close to the door though. Wah wah.

3. Alex made a window box to span the width of our wide, sunroom windows. I painted it in Cloud White by Benjamin Moore exterior paint. I fill it up with shade-loving annuals every year but man those are expensive! (See window box posts here and here.)

4. I bought some large ceramic planters to flank the bottom of the stairs. (I hate those cement stairs, btw.) I also fill them up with shade-loving annuals. (See post here.)

5. We ripped out all of the existing plants at the front of the house (this might have involved chains and my dad's truck driving on our front lawn). Instead I planted ten, yes ten, Annabelle hydrangea shrubs. This was inspired by picture from a Country Living magazine years and years ago. I've since lost the picture but I still have the image clear and crisp in my decorating-loving brain (where important information is supposed to go instead). (See post here.)

6. Alex built a fence in the sideyard/backyard to contain the Roar-man and to give us some privacy. I originally wanted to make the tops of every board rounded but eventually settled for pointy tops when I realized how long it would take for Alex to make the round ones.

Here are the rest of the projects:


7. We installed a cement curb to divide the gravel driveway from the grass (not shown). This project sucked with a capital S but was worth it in the end. (See original post here.)

8. I bought a large barn star as well as an iron trellis to fill up the empty brick wall on the other side of the door. I found that the house looked unbalanced with all of the windows on one side. Both the star and the trellis were purchased at a local home decor store. Climbing up the trellis (and the extension cord from the Christmas lights, haha) is some purple clematis.

9. I gave the old front door a little spruce-up by giving it a fresh coat of exterior paint (Nature Lover by Benjamin Moore) and spray painting the hardware black (to go with the black railings).

10. I freshened up the front door trim with some sanding, primer, and crisp white paint (the same colour as the window box: Cloud White by Benjamin Moore).

11. We ordered a custom slate house-number plaque from Home Depot. It has our street name and address. It fits perfectly in that little spot above the front door. It's my faaaaavourite.

12. For my birthday two years ago, Alex and I spent the day building some board-and-batten shutters to add some interest to the second story windows. I wanted shutters for SO LONG and was so proud when we finished this project. (See original posts here and here.)

13. And last, I've given the lawn some major TLC with lots of fertilizing, aerating, de-thatching, grass-seed planting, and watering. When we cut our grass we always leave it fairly long so that it doesn't dry out in the sun. That's why our grass is always green and our neighbour's lawns are always brown. Muhahahahaha!

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So that's where we're at with the curb appeal so far. There's a few more projects that I'd like to complete sometime soon (don't tell Alex because he's been working like a dog at The Fixer Upper).

Future Curb Appeal Projects:

#1 on my list is to ditch that horrid screen/storm door as well as the old wooden door (that half-moon window is my nemesis) and replace them both with a new wooden door. I just love this style (but painted of course):


You can see a similar door in the next photo (from the inside):



#2 is to give those ooogly metal railings a fresh coat of paint. Eventually I would love to get rid of those cement stairs and metal railings altogether and replace them with something nicer. But that's waaaaay far in the future right now.

#3 is to replace the white, aluminum siding with some fresh new material (ideas anyone!?!?!). I'm in all kinds of love with grey cedar shakes but alas I will be prob'ly be stuck with orange brick and siding forever. Wah wah wah.

#4 is to create a little mini-roof/overhang over the front door. In this photo from the blog 65th Avenue, Londen did the same thing to update her cute bungalow.


I know you've got a fresh set of eyes. Is there anything else you think we should do to add some more curb appeal to this place? Let me know in the comments, k?

Have you tackled any curb appeal projects lately? Whadja do? Whadja do?!? :)  

The Fixer Upper: Refinished Hardwood Floors

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Monday, July 9, 2012

This was my sneak peek photo a few days ago:



If you've been following along since we bought this Fixer Upper a few short weeks ago, you'll know that Alex's parents will eventually be living in it as tenants. In an ideal world we would have a good six months to fix up the place before they move in, but with a second mortgage to cover we need to get them in as soon as possible.

That creates a wee bit of a time crunch. We've been in a mad rush to get the interior in a semi-livable state by the end of July. That's the end of this month, folks. Ahhhhhh!

One of the biggest decisions we've had to make so far was whether or not to leave the floors as-is or to get them re-refinished. Let me explain.

As you can see in the original photos, the floors were in rough shape. You can see that the old wax finish was totally worn off in spots and the bare wood was showing through.



When we bought the house from The Flippers, they had already refinished the floors. They chose to use a dark walnut stain (I think they chose a dark finish to make the house more modern looking). In my experience so far, I've noticed that really old floors don't take dark stain very well. I think that's what might have happened in this case.

The stain didn't really penetrate the wood. It created a layer on top of the wood, making it look more like black paint than chocolate brown stain. Because the stain and varnish were basically sitting on the wood, any scratches or marks took the stain right off. Black floors with orange scratches were not the look we were going for with the house. Also, there were random holes all over the house that were left over from wires, plumbing, and non-functional cold-air returns. From a design perspective, such dark floors in such a teeny tiny house made it seem so small and confined.  



So we had a huge decision to make. We could keep the newly done dark floors that showed every speck of dust, every footprint, and every tiny scratch. If we were real house flippers this would have been the practical decision since they were just done.

Or, we could pay the extra money to have newly refinished floors in a natural colour that would open the space up and be more durable for the long term. We also considered that the house was already empty and the trim and baseboards were already off in every room making floor refinishing that much easier.

So, we went for it. We called the same company that refinished our second-story floors (if you'd like to know the company name just shoot me an email). They gave us a quote and we decided it would be worth it. We crossed our fingers and hoped for the best, as there was a chance that some of the walnut stain had seeped down into the cracks. We also didn't know if the original floor had any stains or water damage on it.

Here is the only photo I have of the floors up close. You can see where the stain didn't absorb into the cracks in between the wood. You can also see a bunch of scratches and how the stain doesn't show any of the wood grain. (The floor guys had started to hand-scrape around the cabinets at this point.)

Floors with dark stain.

The next few photos show where the floor guys had to repair the flooring. Luckily we had a stack of birch flooring in our basement that we salvaged from a house down the street.

Floors being patched.

Floors being patched.

Floor patch where there was a heat register.

Floor patch where there was a huge cold-air return.

Once we went in and saw how the floors looked after sanding, we knew we had made the right choice. Check out the difference!

Floors after sanding.

Floors after sanding.

The latest pictures I took were of the floors almost finished. They still need the third sanding and third coat of varnish. But I think you'll be able to tell what a HUGE difference this has made.

Kitchen area with refinished floors.

Dining area with refinished floors.

Living room area with floors refinished.

Two large floor patches were done in this area.

Master bedroom with floors refinished.

Small bedroom with floors refinished.

Now, let's do a comparison of the floors refinished with dark stain and the floors refinished with their natural colour:

Living room area.

Second bedroom.
As you can probably guess, this change has made a huge impact on the whole vibe of the house. The whole place is so much brighter and airier. The floors look almost brand-new (with the exception of a few small stains in the wood in two places). We are SO HAPPY that we splurged to get this done.

Could we have lived with the dark floors? Yes. But when they had so much more potential, we just had to go for it.

Whaddaya think? Another senseless splurge or worth the extra time and money?

P.S. Thank you to everyone who has left supporting comments on all of these Fixer Upper posts. Your encouragement is making this whole experience that much better and more exciting!

Fixer Upper Sneak Peek and Instagram is Fun

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Friday, July 6, 2012

Instagram is fun. I guess I've jumped on the bandwagon. ;)

Most of my pics looks like this:


But today I just happened to snap a picture when I was over at The Fixer Upper checking in on things. You can call me the supervisor. Heh heh heh.

The pic is a sneak peak of a few projects we've been working on. I'll share more details about each one a little bit later on.


Can you spot the 3 differences from the last time I shared a photo of the living room / dining room space?

P.S. I'm sarahclub7 (long story) on Instagram but again, most of my pics are of the Coopster. :)

P.S.S. Hope you have a lovely weekend!

P.S.S.S. Have you been using Instagram? Are you addicted like me? What's your user name? I totally want to stalk befriend you. ;)

The Fixer Upper - Window Placement N' Stuff

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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Thanks for checking in on me today even though I've been AWOL for the past week or so. I've been meaning to write some good posts about some of our decision making over at The Fixer Upper but it's been way too chaotic for me to sit down and even try to write a coherent sentence.

Until today. It's so hot that the little guy and I are just vegging on the couch with all the blinds and shades drawn to keep it cooler in here. I thought I'd fill you in on a few of the big realizations we've come to since taking on this giant project a few short weeks ago.

1) We really were pretty crazy to take this on.

2) We are both WAY too perfectionistic (is that a word?) and OCD to "flip a house" in the quick and cheap kind of way.

3) We have much more work to do than we thought, as we've decided to make some major changes to some of the work that was done prior to buying the house.

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Our first example is window placement. There is a new bedroom and a new bathroom framed and drywalled in the back of the house that were part of the original laundry room / mudroom. I think that this was a great idea and a good use of space. However, the Flippers kept the original window locations that made sense for the laundry room / mudroom but not so much for the new bedroom and bathroom. See, both windows face into the side yards. There isn't a single window (or door) on the main floor that looks out or goes into the backyard. Which is weird. How are you going to yell at someone from the deck to bring out another beer orange juice? Or yell at the kids to stop play-fighting? Or check to see if the dog is trying to escape again?

This picture is of the bedroom. You can see that there is one side window: 

Main floor bedroom.

This picture is the other side of the bedroom and you can see there are no windows that look into the backyard:


Main floor bedroom.
The next problem is the window placement in the new bathroom. They used an existing cut-out so the window is kinda large and looks right into the neighbour's driveway. Um, not so good for privacy ifyaknowwhatImean. It's also completely blocked off when the door is open which would be most of the time. 

Photo of the large bathroom window being blocked by the door:



So, here's what we decided (see #2 above re: OCD).  

We are going to take the two side windows (the one from the bathroom and the one from the bedroom) and re-install them both on the back wall of the bedroom. Having two large windows at the back of the bedroom will let more light in, help with furniture placement in the room, and create a nice view to the backyard.

Since that leaves no window in the bathroom, we are going to purchase a new, smaller one and install it on the back wall also facing the backyard.

Phew. Sounds like a plan.

Here is a photo of my handyman (Alex) removing the bedroom window:



I know that we could have just lived with the windows how they were. That's what regular Flippers would do. But ultimately we want to have a house that is attractive AND functional, both for Alex's parents now and for the future owners down the road when/if we decide to sell.

What do you think? Good decision or a waste of our time and money?

In case you missed these posts:

The Story of The Fixer Upper - Part One
The Story of The Fixer Upper - Part Two
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