Thursday, May 28, 2015

Renovation break... Wedding planning update

The Yep, you read correct, our wedding plans are complete after just over a month. My goal was to plan the entire wedding before Memorial Day and we did it!! Of course there are some small things to finalize but the big stuff is done!

I think most couples would tell you that they're most excited for the honeymoon (don't get me wrong... we are) or for the wedding to just be over - but for us we cannot wait for the big day! We're so excited to see our friends and family that are graciously flying in from all over the US. It's seriously like Christmas morning when we get a text or an email from someone telling us they've booked their flight.

And the planning team? Stellar. Tommy Thompson has continued to impress me with his eagerness to help and desire to make this day special for us - I sure picked a winner. The little one has been fabulous as well. Our Saturday morning tradition is to hit up Goodwill in search of milk glass vases and brass candlesticks. I thought I was a good thrift store shopper - I have met my match. He has even given us a list of songs to dance to and has even started working on a special choreographed dance...

I thought I would keep the details private until the big day but I'm just too stinkin excited so here are some of the super fun people we've got helping us for the party of the century in just 101 days:

- Say Cheese!! My good friend Patrick, owner of PhoCo will be snapping photos and shooting video for us. If our wedding pics are anything like last fall's pics we're in for a treat!! We cheated a little and used a pic from that photo session for the save the date - it's hard to beat that American Gothic picture!

- My lady crush Vicky, owner of Taste Catering, will be providing all the food. I say she's my lady crush because she's beautiful, a single mama of four and started a business that makes the most amazing food in the world all on her own. Did I mention her food is amazing? My mouth is watering right now thinking about her salted caramel and her watermelon goat cheese bites...

- Another fabulous friend of mine, Linda - owner of Finishing Touches - will be making the Lakehouse even more beautiful with flowers galore. I think she was one of the very first vendors I met out of college as a new event planner and to say her style impressed me is an understatement. It's rare to find a vendor, especially a decor vendor, that you can show a few pictures to and let them loose - completely trusting them to make your vision come to life and Linda is exactly this.

- Even party planners need party planners, enter my dear friend Darci, owner of Silo Event Consulting. We've worked alongside each other a number of times so I completely trust her to pay attention to tiniest detail, oversee all the crazy things that come up and even jump in and get her hands dirty if need be.

- Every wedding needs something new... so I've met some pretty cool new vendors as well. We are beyond excited about A Photo Booth Bus. This little beauty is named Lucy and she'll be driving in from Utah for our special day to snap candid photos AND go-pro the in's and out's of the shenanigans that go with photo boothin' (it's a word).

- A party without cake is just a meeting... so we need cake. And a big cake at that. A few weeks ago Tommy Thompson, the Little One and I went cake tasting. There is an adorable little house turned cake shop in downtown Longmont right next door to our fave breakfast stop, surely that's a sign, right? Narrowing down flavors was hard but we settled on 4 cake flavors and 4 pie flavors, I'll just say peanut.butter. Cannot wait to see the cake La Momo Maes Bakery whips up for us!
- The hair. I have the most incredible hairstylist ever. I left her for a a year or so when I moved and came to the conclusion that some things are worth the drive and she is. Lauren at Studio Be Salon knows my hair better than anyone (and let's be honest, aside from my mother is the only one that knows my real hair color) so I cannot wait to see what we end up with on the big day!! 

Still on our to-do list is to shop shop shop for white milk glass vases and...lose 30 pounds among other things but we are pretty pleased so far. Here's to a super fun summer of relaxing and spending time together as a family before the big day! 

You can follow the wedding Pinterest board here to see all the ideas and plans going in to our big day!

Top 10 Favorite Reno's - #6 Furniture

Renovations don't just happen to rooms and houses they can happen to anything - including furniture. I've worked on some fun furniture projects that we not only use daily but things I hope to keep in our family for generations to come.

When Pinterest first came out the thing to pin were pallets. Pallet walls, pallet beds, pallet tables, you name it, Pinterest can tell you how to make it from a pallet. Not as easy and practical as the internet came make it seem... I wanted a patio table that was large and in charge. A table that was made of recycled items and looked rustic but would hold up to the elements - all things that a pallet table would not provide. (Despite my efforts) I stumbled upon Ana White's Fancy X Farmhouse Table and was in love. On my weekly trip to the Habitat Re-Store I found the perfect top for the table, an 8' x 4' solid wood door for $40.
Not having the time or the tools necessary to get this table done for an event I enlisted my step-father to build it. He bought a few 2 x 4's and in a day the table was built. It.Is.A.Beast. It seats 10 and if ever there were a tornado one could find shelter under it since it's not going anywhere. I paired it with an 8' bench my other father had made a few years ago and some bistro chairs from Target and voila... I had a brand new table for 10 for just under $300.
Probably my favorite Habitat Re-Store find is our TV console. I've even had girlfriends try to buy it out from under me - not a chance. I wanted a long beefy piece that had drawers on the sides to store games, DVD's and blankets with doors in the middle to hide all the TV boxes. For $40 (seems to be the magic number at Re-Store) this beauty was all mine. I removed the handles, filled and sanded the doors and spray painted it. I opted for spray paint since the center doors had such intricate carvings, I wanted a paint that would get in all the nooks and cranny's easily. My favorite spray primer for any project is Zinsser's Bulls Eye at Home Depot. The coverage is great and goes on anything and everything without peeling. When the paint was dry I threw on some new handles from IKEA and it was ready. What once was a masculine eyesore of a dresser is now a feminine, beautiful and functional piece for our family for less than $100.

The Lakehouse has an incredible back deck with an even more incredible view onto a lake. When I moved in Tommy Thompson had an old couch on the deck and a small glass table - not only was the couch gross from being outdoors but both were insufficient for our needs. Our backyard lends itself to outdoor entertaining, whether it be a dinner party, the three of us watching shooting stars or a small bonfire get together, we needed more seating. The farm had a lot of scrap wood so when I asked Tommy Thompson to build me a couch we shopped for wood in the scrap pile making this project super easy and inexpensive.

I wanted a long couch against the back wall with an equally large ottoman that could be across from the couch, pushed up next to it for an outdoor bed or on the side making it an L shape. Pops, Tommy Thompson's father, was in town for the week and those two knocked it out in a day. They had to build it in the shop since it was raining and when the time came to move it to the deck it took eight men to move each piece. Literally. This couch is going nowhere. I ordered thick foam from an auto upholsterer in town and stapled outdoor fabric to plywood on the underside of the foam to give the cushions weight. A year later this couch gets more use than the ones inside.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Top Ten Favorite Reno's - #7 Lighting

I LOVE lights. Tommy Thompson teases me about needing to have every light on in the kitchen, and he's right. The right lighting can change a room from dull to bright (see what I did there?? haha). But seriously a unique light fixture can develop a room both on and off in a way few other things can. My favorite... chandeliers.

Living as a single lady for many years I was able to avoid the dreaded ceiling fan and change nearly every room fixture to a chandelier. The first chandelier I bought was for the gold master at Mulberry Forest. It had a bronze/burnt orange shade with three arms dripping with black jewels. Similar to the wall color, I loved this chandelier so much I moved it to the master at 10th and Wash. I was even able to find nightstand lamps that matched the chrome arms on this chandelier. Not only did it function and fit the look I was going for it was affordable at just $159 on
In the dining room at 10th and Wash while I went back and forth on the wall color, I always knew what type of light the room needed - a large black colonial looking chandelier. Way out of my price range new, I looked at Habitat Re-Store and on Craigslist for a brass fixture that I could paint. As luck would have it I found the exact light I was looking for already black on Craigslist for $40 - talk about a steal! Since the dining room had previously been a living room the light was not centered over the table so I added a hook to the ceiling and brought it down low right over the table making a dramatic and functional statement.
Before and After

10th and Wash is such a unique house with so much history - on a trip to the crawl space I found a brass and crystal flush mount chandelier in it's original Sears package from the 1920's. This fabulous find was the perfect fit in the guest bedroom, slightly vintage, slightly feminine and not too loud. I loved the idea of not only re-cycling a vintage piece but honoring the 145+ year old house by displaying it.
Hanging lights by yourself can be interesting... I do not recommend this method. 

My new light obsession is with under mount lighting. I had these at 10th and Wash and unfortunately had to take them out through the remodel process. When Tommy Thompson and started the plan for remolding the kitchen at The Lakehouse I knew these needed to go in. Not only did we add under mount lighting, we added a few more cans and a flush mount chandelier in the center of the kitchen. I feel like I say this about every project in that kitchen but lighting really was one of the areas that made the biggest impact.

More than any other room I think a kitchen needs to have ample light and ample options for lights. With a little re-wiring, we now have 3 separate circuits for ceiling lights (1. Can lighting in the overall kitchen 2. Can light over the sink 3. Center chandelier) so whether you're running in for a quick drink or decorating a cake and need a flood of light - this kitchen has it.
Under cabinet lighting during construction

The Little One thinks this chandelier is the best. As if I wasn't crazy about him already.... he loves chandeliers. 

We bought the flush mount chandelier on for $101.99, and installed the Rationell Under Mount Lighting System from IKEA for under $600.00 (this price also includes the under mount lighting we added in the new bar off the kitchen). Tommy Thompson and I were able to install the under cabinet lighting ourselves one evening after work and despite the infamous 'bubble man' instructions that leave much the imagination, we survived this IKEA project. 

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Reno's - #8 Hardwood floors

It's hard to beat the timelessness of hardwood floors. No matter what shape they're in, a little TLC can go a long way for beautiful long lasting floors. I was super fortunate to have the classic red oak hardwoods at Mulberry Forest. It's one of the reasons I bought the house - despite all of it's flaws it had great bones, hardwoods being one of them. Years of neglect had left the flooring dull and covered in scratches, even stains in certain areas - but nothing that couldn't be repaired. I contracted a local hardwood re-finisher to do the work (power tools don't scare me, floor sanders do). I removed the trim to prep the floors, giving him a clean slate to work with. Just sanding alone livened the floors up instantly - I call this phase naked floors. I was going for a dark look so before sealing the floors I tested three stains, choosing a rich color that wouldn't be too dark or too red and also asked for two layers of top coat/sealant. The end result was beautiful. Talk about instant impact. With the exception of the kitchen and bathroom the whole house was transformed in a matter of two days. Fast forward two years and the addition of my sweet but ginormous, playful, clumsy English Mastiff Sweet Lucy - they floors were still in mint condition. For $2.85 a square foot this project transformed the entire home and was an investment I saw a HUGE return on when I sold.

Naked floors.

When touring my next house, 10th and Wash, I hoped and prayed for hardwoods under the carpets - not so lucky. When I created my list of to-do's, hardwoods were a must considering this house was 145 years old. Unfortunately given the massive project in the kitchen, installing solid hardwoods was not in my budget. It was important that the hardwoods help to create an increased sense of space within this small house, so after tearing down the wall between the kitchen and living room, I needed wider plank hardwoods going the length of the house including the hallway. Thus creating a seamless transition from the dining to the living to the kitchen. I settled on the Distressed Kinsley Hickory 4 3/4" wide floating floor. Admittedly I couldn't get the name out of my head, my first niece is Kinsleigh so it had to be - these planks just had so much character, just like her! The color, varied wood grain and hand scrape marks made it feel like the perfect balance between a house built in 1869 and a modern 2014 home. AND I got to use my brand new Kobalt Compound Miter Saw. Win. While the floors are floating, I ended up gluing each plank and nailing every third row to ensure these would last a long time. The hardwoods were the icing on the cake after updating the house and creating the open concept floor plan - they tied it all together.

Before the dining room was used as a living room. It made more sense to swap the living in dining to create an open concept floor plan. 

On our most recent remodel project, the kitchen at the Lakehouse, I suggested to Tommy Thompson that we re-finish the hardwoods in the dining room at the same time. Not wanting to add on to the budget we initially said no, however after seeing the kitchen looking so awesome, we couldn't help but re-do the floors. Not to mention it made sense since the house was already in re-model mode, just knock it out. So we did. Our fabulous contractor brought in his hardwood team and in one day, they sanded it, repaired an area that previously held a doorway and stained and sealed it with a water based sealant to keep the fumes down. We added the same tall trim with no reveal as we used on 10th and Wash to give the feel of taller walls, painting these bright white to contract the deep color of the floors. A minor inconvenience to clear the room of furniture and stay out of the house for a day in trade for beautiful long lasting hardwood floors that will hold up to our family for years to come.

Tommy Thompson and Sweet Lucy taking advantage of the large open room to wrestle. 

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Reno's - #9 Paint

Ok maybe not a renovation on it's own BUT paint is the cheapest, fastest way to make a HUGE impact, especially if the larger project is out of budget. I love to paint. Wait, let me clarify, I love to paint interiors. If I never paint the exterior of a house again it will be a day too soon. I particularly love cutting and I rarely if ever tape off a room. I developed my mad cutting skills after changing my mind on paint choices and re-painting a room multiple times (right Kayla???). That's the other fabulous thing about paint! Because it's so easy and inexpensive you can change the look of the entire room if you're in the mood! I get that mood often.

I'm particular about my paint - good quality paint and brushes make alllll the difference, trust me. I prefer Valspar paint and primer in one from Lowes hands down any day. I am also a huge fan of smooth, or un-textured walls (this has become quite the point of contention between Tommy Thompson and I as he prefers the opposite, LOTS of texture). I was fortunate enough that Mulberry Forest had smooth walls so I was able to play with some fun techniques. Enter my first gold bedroom.

I love everything gold. It is my most favorite color so when it came time to choose the color of my bedroom it was a given, it would be gold. Valspar has a faux finish called Brushed Pearl in Simply Elegant that would give me the great color I wanted and add some dimension to the smooth wall. And it was easy! You roll and cut a base color (specified by the brushed pearl paint chip you select), let it dry, then working in small sections dry brush the tinted pearlescent color on top in large X's. While the X's are still tacky you take a plastic trowel and smoosh it all around in a circular motion. I did this process twice, letting it dry in between and the end result was gorgeous. So much so that when I sold Mulberry Forest I did the exact same color and technique in the master at 10th and Wash. 

Master bedroom at Mulberry Forest
Master bedroom at 10th and Wash
After the success with brushed pearl I was eager to try my hand at another fancy paint. I had been admiring the metallic teal in the shampoo room at my hair salon and wanted to try a metallic in my itty bitty bathroom at Mulberry Forest. Thinking teal would be a bit much for the small space I opted for The Valspar Brilliant Metals collection in Gunmetal (sadly is no longer available but trust me - it was fabulous!). It was a dark gray but had a fabulous shimmer to it that when paired next to the white subway tile looked stunning.

When I bought Mulberry Forest one could have confused it with a John Deere dealership. The body of the exterior was bright yellow with John Deere green trim. It had to go. Picking an exterior color was hard for me. I wanted bold yet I didn't want it to fade, it needed to make a statement but not the 'oh Lord look at that house' kinda statement. The little house sat under HUGE pine and deciduous trees so it needed to pop. I chose a deep blue with gray undertones in Valspar's Duramax paint which is designed to hold up to fading and cracking (something like this) with bright white trim.

To expedite the job, my parents came over to help along with our friends' paint sprayer. My grandmother was in town and wanted to watch the big event - so we set her up in a chair under the shade tree. We prepped the house, filled the sprayer and waited with cameras ready for the big moment. Drum roll.... nothing. We were all staring at the house anxiously waiting the new color and nothing was coming out. We turned to the sprayer to see what he had not set up correctly and there we saw it. No less than 5 gallons of my beautiful, saved for months to buy the good quality, blue paint - pumping all.over.the.driveway. After a brief laugh we jumped into high gear to prevent more from spilling and clean up the mess, painting the driveway had never been part of the plan.

By far painting the exterior of the house made one of the biggest impacts when it came time to sell. It brought the house into the current decade, gave it a fresh clean appearance and gave it that famous curb appeal everyone looks for. Next time however, I will make room in my budget to hire it out.

Another favorite paint project is the dining room at 10th and Wash. A dining room was on my 'Must have's/Non Negotiable' list when purchasing my next home. So when I found a house with the perfect dining space it had to standout. I found a beautiful 10-person dining set with a buffet but I struggled with the wall color. I teetered between a rusty burnt orange and a deep eggplant purple. It wasn't until I went to the store to buy the paint that I saw it - Dog Park Green. It was bold, unique, and I could justify it for nearly every holiday I would entertain for. Rolling it I was nervous that it was too much, especially considering the front door to the house is in the dining room, but the day after when I could see it in the daylight I was in love. It helped that in addition to the front door, two of the walls had large windows, add in the large buffet to break up the bold color, it was perfect.

My most recent favorite paint project are the kitchen cabinets at the Lakehouse. When we looked at remodeling the kitchen, new cabinets were not only not in the budget, it was unnecessary to change them. Aside from some grease and grime they were/are in great condition, they just needed a face lift. After painting cabinets in my last two kitchens with latex paint I knew we needed something heavier duty. Enter Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. The color selection was easy since ASCP comes in pre-mixed colors, and thanks to Pinterest I knew which one I wanted - French Linen. We de-greased the cabinets with Krud Kutter then organic de-natured alcohol and our prep was done (no sanding!!). Two coats of ASCP to each side, and two coats of clear wax (truth be told I still need to apply the second coat of wax...) and they were done. We added Ikea's Tyda handles and the kitchen was un-recognizable. Ok in fairness we changed the backsplash, counters, paint and more but that's in a later post.
Don't be afraid to try new colors and never be afraid to paint over it. Paint is the easiest way to make a big change. Try different types of paint - while ASCP is a new fave of mine, my collection of spray paint will always be a plenty and nothing beats an old fashioned gallon with a roller.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Top 10 Favorite Reno's - #10 The Bathroom at Mulberry Forest

I wanted to create a blog about renovations on my first home... in 2010. Five years and three houses later I'm going to recap my top 10 favorite projects, starting with #10 - the bathroom on Mulberry. 

My very first home was on the far West end of Mulberry Street in Ft. Collins. A super small ~740 square foot 2 bedroom 1 bathroom home with a great yard. The house had been a marijuana grow house prior to me moving in so the to-do list was a plenty. Because of the loan type I had (I believe it was FHA) the home had to meet certain standards, most of which it did not. Basic things like smoke detectors, no mold, working toilets, etc. 

So while under contract, I negotiated with the seller for a credit to repair the major issues so the home could pass the FHA inspections. Risky. Business. The repair list was huge and the salvageable items list was itty bitty. The house had great windows, 9' ceilings, mature trees, fabulous hardwood floors and running water. What else could a girl want? A decent bathroom... (I also had the electrical system completely replaced and had the seller install smoke and carbon monoxide detectors)

The seller had started to re-do the bathroom floors and gave up halfway through, leaving two tiles down and sub floor in the open. They set the toilet sans the seal directly onto the sub floor creating a whole list of issues. Being a 1960's home, fans were not required at the time it was built so even though it had a fabulous shower window, mold was everywhere. The punch list included:
     1. New flooring including new sub floors
     2. New tub and tile surround
     3. New toilet
     4. Shelving to add storage (the sink was a pedestal with no storage)
     5. Install a fan
     6. Kilz the mold and paint

Easy enough - right?

Barely into the project the lone salvageable item, the sink, broke. This bathroom could win an award for smallest - ever, making it nearly impossible to find a new sink with storage small enough. While the contractor started demoing, mama and I set out to solve the problem. We found a nightstand at Pier One and a vessel sink and faucet at Lowe's - voila, a brand new sink with storage. 
Building a vanity 101
As demolition continued we found mold behind the drywall, forcing us to not only install new drywall but replace the studs as well. While we were at it I added a new light fixture since the old one was covered in grime as well as new tub and shower faucets and mirror. I'm all for up-cycling but there is something to be said for having brand new bathroom fixtures that is just hard to argue with.

New studs, moisture barrier and tub
Subway tile!!
Tile surround and tub in along with tile flooring. 
New light fixture and the medicine cabinet that would never be...
At literally the last moment, the bathroom was complete and in working order minutes before the inspector returned, allowing me to close. 

Lessons learned...

1. Don't spend money remodeling a house that isn't yours - the deal could fall through and you're out the money you invested. Luckily for me my deal came together in the nick of time but I took a HUGE risk that I would not do again.
2. When remodeling kitchens and bathrooms take your budget, double it and expect to pay more. Regardless of how many times you've done it. 
3. Give yourself time to shop around and create, because of the short window on this project I didn't have the opportunity to shop online or at used stores. As such, I later found a vanity that fit perfectly and ended up replacing the original cabinet the vessel sink sat on. 
4. Measure twice, then right before you think you're ready - measure again. To this day there is perfectly built in hole for a medicine cabinet that no medicine cabinet mirror can fit in behind a decorative mirror.
5. Get your bids in writing, stay on top of your contractors and ask questions as often as you want. I went with a local guy who is a 'contractor' on the side and while his work seems to have been ok, his estimating skills left much to be desired. He ended up charging three times more than he quoted, and like a true virgin re-modeler... I paid it. Never. Again. 

Finished bathroom with the second vanity
Note: At the time of this remodel I had my beloved Blackberry Pearl so the pictures are not of great quality.