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So it’s been a few years since I have written on the blog (or accessed the dashboard to do so….holy moly it looks intimidating) but it’s time for my triumphant return. First, let’s take a look back on some things that have happened since my disappearance, shall we?

  1. A huge reason why I stepped away in the first place was a little guy I was growing. Remember that birthday party I didn’t have the heart to do much for? It was because I was so.sick all the time. Funny how I went as a house for Halloween that year…I was perhaps hiding a bit of a bump behind it all ūüėȬ† After the first few weeks of the pregnancy, things did improve dramatically. Baby Heath arrived in June 2014. He’s a little firecracker now of course.img_1698
  2. While pregnant with Heath, we of course took on the kitchen renovation. And by pregnant, I mean 9 months along. I had called and asked for some shelving to organize the kitchen a little in a nesting rage…and that night the husband starting knocking out¬† walls. Anyway, it turned out gorgeous.
  3. We’ve done plenty of other house projects too, including both kids rooms, front door, and backyard. Maybe I’ll write about them one day. Probably not.

    4. I’ve still been cooking and sewing and schooling nonstop throughout it all.

    5. And we have done a few ridiculous birthday parties…12238248_10107734921237651_4402035916461737501_o6. As well as epic Halloween costumes…

    The biggest news of all though is what is yet to come, and the reason for my return to the blogisphere. We are embarking on the next huge chapter of our lives–a move to IRELAND! What?!? So in an effort to document that journey, I am back!

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Ever since we moved in, Morgan has wanted to tear down walls and make our house have that open-concept feel, but the wall he wants to tear down is load bearing and, well, expensive to remove.  So the next best thing is to remove this hanging set of cabinets that gets in his way. I wish I had a better before picture, but you can see it here.

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The hubs is kinda tall and apparently this little set of cabinets is was the bane of his existence.¬† You think I’m exaggerating, but every weekend for the last 2 years he has asked me if we could just tear it down. ¬† He claims that it constantly blocked his view and (I’m not kidding) he felt the cabinet actually lunged at him and hit him in the head anytime he bent down near it. It must not have been fun…

But we couldn’t just take it down! It had valuable kitchen storage! Where was I to put all our bowls and cups and things? And then last weekend, Morgan had a brilliant idea. Just move the cabinet! Shift it over to the other side of the dining room and we wouldn’t lose any storage. There are four cabinets, so we could hang two on the wall and place the other two underneath to make a little counter.¬† He was on a roll and just went with it.¬† In just a few minutes we had this.

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We had to do a little research on how to remove cabinets and found that we needed to take off all the doors and all the trim to find hidden screws.

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We knew we’d need to reuse some of the trim, so we were extra careful taking it off.¬† And then they were down!

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I know I was hesitant, but the lack of cabinets really does make our kitchen feel a whole lot bigger! My only requirement was that I have a functioning kitchen while we did this, so before we go patching up any drywall, we needed to reinstall the cabinets since the dining room table was storing our stuff, ha!

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Taking down the cabinets was one thing, but putting them back up required yet a little more research! We have this Home Depot book that was gifted to us and it is never far whenever we tackle a project.   I like having pretty books around and this one is an eye sore, but even I have been caught skimming through it and learning interesting tidbits.

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Well, after doing some measurements, finding studs, drawing on the walls and cutting some wood, Morgan made a ledger to sort of “prop up” the cabinet and then secure it to the studs.

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Putting in the bottom piece was a little trickier.  We had to remove shoe molding and cut some custom pieces to fit around the base board, use some shims and level it, but it finally fit in perfectly.

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I’m pretty happy with it!

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It’s not quite finished yet though.¬† The doors have to go back on, some light sanding, repainting, and a counter top too.¬† Not to mention restocking it! But it’s almost done.

I just love actually getting projects done.¬† This one wasn’t even on our list, but it certainly makes hubs happy every time he walks in the kitchen! Do you have any projects that you tackle spontaneously?

I was looking through my pictures the other day, actually, a couple months ago and I found a bunch of pictures that I hadn’t taken. Mostly they were shots of the fan and of blurry little hands and fingers but every once in a while I saw a good one like this.
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She has a good eye, right?!
I’m not in the habit of letting Starr Lil’s play with my phone, and I even have it passworded (is that a word?) so she can’t use it. But my iPhone has that go-straight-to-the-camera-with-the-slide-of-a-button option and that’s how all these pictures were taken.
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She really knows how to capture some cute moments though.
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Sometimes I’ll hear her telling Stone to say cheese or her stuffed animals to smile.

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I love seeing what draws her attention and even though the pictures may have been more accidental before, they definitely have more purpose now.

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She sure loves her feet!

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Do your littles have a camera?

The mosquitoes are killing me. Just eating me alive. I go outside for 30 seconds and come back with 5 new bites. It’s bad. Especially cause the kids like being outside so much! I don’t like using the DEET stuff for fear of, well, death and thought maybe I could sneak by this year since the mosquitoes hadn’t been horrible. But I was wrong. They’re out now and they know where to find me. Not only that, but Starr Lil’s is getting bitten too! Poor little thing has welts on her little legs and arms from the bites. Any suggestions on how to relieve the itchiness?

There are a ton of diy bug sprays out there and I thought I would give them a try, but which one to go with?! That’s when I decided to do a bug spray challenge. A sort of, off-the-cuff experiment to see if one worked better than another. I did some quick googling and saw that most of the recipes are very similar. Some have witch hazel, some have oils, some have vinegar, most have essential oils, and water. So here are three that I’m using for inspiration: (I’ll have to make some substitutions for some ingredients I don’t have.)

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Witch hazel and olive oil,

Instead of the vegetable glycerin, I used olive oil and about 15 drops of eucalyptus, tea tree and citronella essential oils.

Witch Hazel and Castile soap

The only change I made here was to use the same essential oils as above, since that’s what I already had. Although I’m tempted to use lavender essential oil, next time.

Vinegar

I just made a smaller batch of this with the same oils above too.

I ushered the kids outside to give them a try,

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and tested all 3 sprays!

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the one on the left is definitely the one I’ve made in the past (it worked, but turns out cinnamon oil was a bad call to add in). Do the others do a better job ‘sticking’?

I sprayed the witch hazel and olive oil on my arms, witch hazel and Castile soap on my left leg and the vinegar on the right leg. Good news!! I only got one mosquito bite on my forehead, which had not been sprayed and only a tiny little gnat bite on my left arm. So who’s the winner? Duh duh duh…

Witch hazel with Castile soap and Vinegar!

I sprayed some around Stone, but not directly on him and he didn’t have any bites at all.

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so big!!

Pruutty amazing! And look at my sitting little guy! 6 months old already, le sigh.

And here is a blooper shot of when I asked Starr Lily to sit on the door step:

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ah, love this age.

Yup, gotta love those toddler years. A mere 20 seconds later we have this:

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I love the progression of her pretty clean dress, post play ūüôā

happy little girl again and we’re bug bite free!

I did try all three sprays at the softball field the other day with the same results. Except we had to reapply about every 2 hours.

Do you make your own bug sprays? What recipes do you use? How do you keep your toddlers happy?

You may (or may not) have noticed from our school posts lately that it seems like the furniture is ever changing.¬† I’m in the process of revamping that whole area.¬† The walls are all getting changed around because we no longer need a giant palm tree, but a big map to talk about places we read about in Five in a Row books makes more sense.¬† And All About Reading has us using lots of letter tile magnets, so a magnetic chalkboard to fill a good portion of the wall gives us space to practice handwriting as well as arrange our letter tiles.¬† So the walls are a work in progress right now, but the furniture is now done!¬† There was nothing wrong with our Ikea table and chairs, but they were a little small for both kiddos to be working on something at the same time.¬† When they were in each other’s space they didn’t work as well together.¬† I kept my eye open for a good table on Craigslist, but every one I found was either the same size we had, or sold before I got it.¬† On one of our many Ikea trips during the bathroom remodel, I spied an unfinished wood dining table in the As-Is area…and it was love.¬† Just a plain table, nothing special, but the perfect size (and price, since it was marked 40% off for being scratched….it was unfinished though, so that didn’t matter to me).

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Nice find! We always mosey around the “as-is” area in Ikea too.

Doug chopped the legs down to make it kid height (it took a couple tries…we didn’t want to cut too much off and make it too short).¬† We settled on a height of around 21.5″.

And, since I knew I would sell the old set together with the chairs, I searched for some new ones.¬† I figured actual school chairs would be a little sturdier than our others, and slightly bigger since Dexter was outgrowing the old ones.¬† I had no idea how many heights and options there were, and am glad I didn’t buy online!!¬† New school chairs were actually a lot pricier than I thought they would be, but constant Craigslist searching helped me find some vintage Virco chairs for $4 each!¬† Score. They had a few different heights to choose from so I just had Dexter try each out.¬† I swore I would want 13″ so that they would last a little longer, but when I saw him sit in it, legs swinging, I knew they were way too big.¬† We went with 12″ instead, and his feet are comfortably on the ground.¬† I loved the mustard yellow color too.¬† I cleaned them up and they were looking pretty great (here’s the before and after)….

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These chairs bring back some memories!

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Haha, umm, these two pictures look the same.

I wasn’t in love with the brown legs though.¬† That made them look a little too seventies, so I decided to paint them.

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I used some bags and masking tape to cover all of the plastic, and spray painted with a hammered finish black (the texture in the paint helped to hide any blemishes).

Any that might have seeped onto the yellow wiped off easily with mineral oil.

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There is something appealing about that nice and rusty brown…

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They don’t look dramatically different, but I think it’s just enough of a face lift to look a little bit sharper and less rundown.

Back to that table though.¬† I couldn’t leave it unfinished without it getting destroyed of course (first day they sat at it, Charlotte colored on it with a dry erase marker that wouldn’t wash off).¬† I decided to paint the legs with gloss white trim paint, and the top in chalkboard black.¬† First I did a coat of white on the legs, and sprayed primer on the top…

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After a light sanding, I finished off painting the legs and let them dry for a day.  Next I tackled the top, just a few coats of black chalkboard paint.

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Looks great!

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We may or may not actually use it as a chalkboard, but I figured that finish would hold up well to all of Charlotte’s stray crayon, marker, and glitter.

The old too small rug moved to Dexter’s room (and is getting a lot of love from his cars), so now I’m on the lookout for something that might fit there a little better.

I did buy four chairs for when we have a friend or two visit, or just in case Doug ever changes his mind and decides we can have more kids…so all said and done, the new table and chairs was right around $61 (not bad, considering I wanted the size they sell at Pottery Barn Kids or Land of Nod), and I sold our old table and chairs….so the whole project including paint was only $32 (I only needed to buy chalkboard paint since we had the rest).

What do you think?  Anyone else in love with the vintage school chairs?

It’s done! The bathroom is done!! Well, 90% done. And maybe it’s been done for almost a week and I just now got around to taking pictures and writing about it…I guess I needed some time to enjoy having a second bathroom again.

Let’s go back to the before, shall we? We cannot forget where we started…

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Ah yes. A little gold, a lot of brown tile, and mirrors galore.

Here’s what it looks like now:

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The cabinetry is all from ikea, as are the sinks, faucets, and towel holders. It looked pretty plain so I threw in some decorative touches stolen from other rooms until we can make this one look a little more lived in. The corner closet has adjustable shelf tracks with wood shelves that Doug whipped up. The open space below will house dirty laundry, some laundry bins that will hang there are in the works. I think my favorite part is how much easier this will be to keep clean. Except maybe under the cabinets, I am a little worried that Emmit-produced fur balls will often make their way there. The sink bases are a little taller than what we had before, and we splurged and got the medicine cabinets for above that have that shelf before the mirror starts….as a result, short people will probably hate the bathroom. I can’t see my shoulders in the mirror.

What all did we do? First, demolition. EVERYTHING went, including all of the drywall and most studs even.

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The tile all got ripped out as well, along with that Throne Stage.

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All new electrical was installed, including recessed lights, vanity lights, and under cabinet lights (still to be installed, since Doug accidentally purchased blue LEDs instead of clear…)

All new finish plumbing…the shower needed reworking on account of being a tub/shower before. According to the plumbing that is, no sane person would bathe there. And the sinks needed new plumbing behind since the drawers require everything to be more flush to the wall.

All new drywall, with paint and texture (the ceiling required sanding down too since we took out the walled in corner to put a closet…so drywall/studs on the closet work too)

All new tile. The floor tile is what we have throughout the entire house (except the kitchen and bathroom that haven’t been remodeled yet), glass mosaic and porcelain wall tile, and some clearance shower floor tile.

New vanities and plumbing fixtures.

New toilet flange since the old one was installed on the step.

No more mold! There was some serious mold going on in the shower (where the tile was busted and held on with tape) and below the vanity (a leak had rotted out the bottom).

I’ll try and share a budget breakdown maybe too, but as of now I believe we are under $3,000.

Still on our to-do list:

Sew a curtain for the closet opening (out of Braemore Gazebo Cloud)

Sew some custom laundry hampers for the closet

Order and install a glass shower door (we’ll live with the temporary curtain for now while we shop around and save up)

Seal the shower grout

Find/make some art for above the toilet?

Embellish the hand towels?

Install the second towel holder

Attach the under cabinet lighting

What do you think?

It’s starting to look like a bathroom!! Last weekend, Doug finished all drywall work (sanding and texturing, mostly), painted (porter paints felicity, it’s a shade lighter than what’s going on in the adjoining bedroom), and tiled the floor!!! He¬†worked on the¬†shower basin throughout the week, but really wanted to get the rest of the room mostly done so that it can be a half bath while he finishes up the work in the shower. I spent last Monday painting trim and closet doors so that they would be ready to install after Doug got home from work so that the cabinets could go in. It¬†was nice to have the space in Charlotte’s room back, too, since they have been assembled and¬†sat in there for a couple weeks. The medicine cabinet for above my vanity is not in stock right now so we are just going to have to wait on that.¬† The end is near!!¬† Here’s the backlog of pictures that should have appeared earlier had Doug not stolen the camera….

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Protection against tile dust…

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glad to see that tile gone.

Floor removal in process.  Such a gross mess.

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The boys sure do love their power tools!

Doug and his favorite power tool.¬† Luckily it was a rental….he’s notorious for expanding his power tools during every project.

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Wrapped up like a present!

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The water vapor in the shower.  Looks nice in hot pink, right?

So as I said, I spent last¬†Monday painting the closet doors…and Doug announced that maybe we should change our mind about what we put there, and unfortunately I agree.¬† Originally we were going to put a 6 panel bifold door that matches the other doors in the house, but maybe a curtain would be better.¬† My main objective for that spot is to house the dirty laundry hamper, so having a curtain would make it much easier to access (I imagine a pile of dirty laundry on the floor in front of the closet door since it would be too much for Doug to open the door AND put it in the hamper) and it would give me a chance to put some print and color in there.¬† I’m thinking a modern floral with grays/yellows/blues on a white background…actually Braemore Gazebo Cloud…what do you think???)

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Can’t wait to see how you close this up.

The closet….I have some nicely painted closet doors for sale now….

View from the bedroom looking in…I like the lighter shade against the darker.¬† Ignore the huge mess, and Doug’s oops on the ceiling paint…

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It’s starting to look like a real bathroom!

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Almost finished! And it looks great.

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Wall tile going up….as of me writing this, it’s all tiled and grouted (except for the bullnose up top, since I ordered the tile to go all the way to the ceiling and Doug has gone against my wishes and stopped it at the blue…so we needed more trim tile and less wall tile.¬† I begged for it to go all the way up, but he said no ‘because I painted and textured up there.’¬† Boo.)¬† The sinks are fully installed and functioning, as well as the toilet.¬†¬† The wall tile looks more white and less variegated in person.¬† And there will be glass mosaic on the backsplash in the next update hopefully ūüôā

I give it another week!!!¬† Woohoo!!¬† Well, we will have to order the shower glass, so maybe there will be a completely done post in a few weeks….we shall see.¬† What do you think??

The part I was dreading about this remodel the most was what I like to call Dustmaggeddon. Flashback almost 3 years ago, Doug ripped up the tile in our living area. There were three different tiles on the floor in one room, reminding me of a tile showroom through the decades (since of course none of them coordinated with each other in any way). Doug just got it into his head that he should take up the tile and brought in an air chisel and went to work….without covering any furniture, or even closing the laptop. EVERYTHING was covered in a thick layer of black dust throughout the ENTIRE house. I moved out for a few days so I could breathe (I was pregnant, Dexter was 1….neither of us were so good with this process). It was probably a week of chiseling and then 2 weeks of cleaning (with tile installation in the middle). But I expected better this time since Doug knew we were going to¬†prepare for the tile rip up. I start making dinner and then I hear it….the air chisel. He had said it was a few days away, but apparently changed his mind. My whole bedroom was quickly covered in the dust, but luckily it was localized to the bedroom. Since then, I’ve managed to clean it all up and he has found a better way to remove the tile without creating such a disaster (renting a tool from Home Depot that does a better job with less mess), but I still feel like I can’t breathe very well. Sigh.

Big progress since the last post though is that ALL the tile is up. The whole step up to the throne is gone now. I still shuffle my feet walking in there anticipating the step though. The shower tile is also gone, as well as the triangular step that was in there to reach the pit. I’m freaked out by the shower a little but Doug assures me it will look great. We finished up the foam board insulation and then Doug wrapped the room in vapor barrier…next up was a day of me cleaning up tile mess and we started installing concrete board and dry wall. Oh wait, back up a little. Before the room got wrapped Doug decided to change up the electrical a little so that the vanity lights are on a different switch than the recessed lights (SO GLAD he did that). We wanted to in the first place, but since the recessed lights were an afterthought it was a little more difficult than it would have been had they always been a part of the plan.

I made a diagram with measurements of all the wood boards on the walls before we covered them up so they would be easy to find when we needed to screw into them. It came in handy as we hung all the drywall, and it will be nice as we install everything else too.

Doug spent the weekend building the corner linen closet and finishing up the drywall work….lots of mud and sanding, as well as skim coating the shower ‘tub’. Not sure the proper name for that since its not going to be a pseudo tub anymore, but is still a step down…well? Chasm?¬† Trench?¬†He also redid all the plumbing shutoff knob dealies and drains (they have to sit more flush to the wall with our cabinets) and put in a new toilet drain since it had to be lower with the step gone. Next up, tile! Any wagers on when it will all be done??¬† Here’s some bad iPad pictures since Doug has taken both our camera and back up point and shoot to work and left them there.¬† Awesome.

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The kids’ room has been an ongoing project for… well, since we moved in almost 2 years ago! I wish I had a before picture to show you, but I’ll just say that the beige motif of the basement was in the bedrooms too. Everything was beige. Walls, ceiling, carpet, closet doors, trim, closet hinges, windows… everything. And we love color! At least we had a clean slate to work with. The very first thing we did was pull up that carpet and found beautiful wood floors underneath. We had those refinished and stained a rich dark brown before moving in and that was the. best. idea. ever. No dust to deal with and they were done in 4 days. Amazing!

During my “nesting” phase while preggers with Stone I just HAD to get this room the house painted. Isn’t it funny how these moods just hit you?! I knew I wanted to use Anne Marie Horner’s fabric from The View Along the Way’s nursery for the curtains. Isn’t her nursery super cute? I wanted stronger colors on the walls though and went with a blue and a green(or is that more yellow?) from the fabric. I felt it was still a bit girly without screaming girl’s room! I ended up going with Sherwin William’s nugget and the blue I can’t recall and had no left over paint to reference. It might have been Watery, but I’m not sure. Anyways, I love the color combo and the plan is to use corals and blues and yellows and browns for accent colors.

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so bright and cheery! Love those hooks.

 

With all the crazy color going in there the furniture had to be white. Since the plan was for the kids’ to share this room we looked for a bunk bed and got a great deal on a Craigslist find.

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The armoire we had from before and is super useful since we have little closet space and the little dresser was a Craigslist find as well! Can you tell we’re sort of obsessed with Craigslist?

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I’m a sucker for that look. Your kids room will match my bathroom cabinets ūüėČ

 

The changing table is still in there, but I’m thinking of selling it soon. Space is a limited commodity in our house and oh yeah, the hubs accidentally ripped the door off with the cargo pockets on his pants. (I told him those went out of style years ago!)

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Yup, I think it can go.

 

And that’s it! I have lots of plans on how I’d like to finish decorating:

  • we have some hooks for bags and sweaters at Starr Lily’s height already, but I want to make more things easily accessible for her (ie, shift clothing to lower drawers she can reach in)
  • curtains
  • incorporate birdcages, maybe over the armoire and clear off all the stuff up there now
  • some sort of bin to hold the stuff animals currently on the top bunk
  • a mobile for Stone
  • a pretty handmade quilt (or two)
  • some artwork (did you see my Pinterest “yarn S” fail on the changing table?)
  • under bed storage for extra books, or something on the wall in the bunk bed
  • change the fan lighting
  • maybe a rug

I hope to have some mini projects completed and get this room in shape! How do you all decorate your kids’ rooms? What do you use for inspiration?

This is the second post in a journey to demolish an ugly bathroom and make it beautiful (and more functional).¬† I started out our bathroom remodel while Doug was at work by cleaning out all the cabinets and getting us all set up to use the second bath.¬† I’m actually a little happy that Charlotte isn’t potty trained (or training) right now so there’s less of a line for the one bathroom we have left.¬† We are also working on convincing Dexter to flush on occasion now.¬† When¬†Doug¬†got home from work and saw the clean slate, we were ready to jump right in and remove the gigantic mirrors (which were just barely attached o.O) and the vanities (that he hacked up with a circular saw.¬† Not sure¬†that it was necessary to do it that way or¬†he just wanted to cut stuff up.¬† I set aside things that I could take to Habitat for Humanity ReStore¬†as we went (the ceramic soap holders, medicine cabinet, sink faucets…so not the best stuff out there but I felt pretty awful tossing EVERYTHING in the room) and¬†the rest¬†got tossed in a truck that we borrowed from a friend (Thanks, Monique!¬† Doug already misses it).¬† We carefully removed the toilet and put it in the garage to go back in later (instructing Dexter that he can’t use it in the meantime….).¬† From there Doug took over and carefully removed attacked all of the drywall with a hammer.

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Woo hoo!

Luckily my Mother-in-Law decided to pay us a visit to watch the kiddos while Doug and I made great weekend progress.¬† I begged, but she didn’t want to stay until the project was complete.¬† A lot of the furring strips (I looked that up a few times, really thought it was firring)¬†had to be removed and replaced because they were moldy or rotten, and Doug added in some strips of 1×4 so that we could mount all of our cabinetry without worrying about studs.¬† Such a smartie sometimes.¬† There was a ridiculous amount of cursing as he drilled into the concrete block, enough that his mom even came in and yelled at him.¬† Had she had soap handy I think she would have washed his mouth out….

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Aww, I remember that little shop vac. Doug helped Morgan install new floors a while back and that little vac was there too help too.

I removed the weird diagonal wall, (imagine me flexing my reciprocating saw muscles….the plan as of now is to make that corner into a linen closet) and we dry walled that portion of the ceiling so as to contain the cockroach poop avalanche, then I¬†assembled all of our cabinetry (the Hemnes series from Ikea) so that we could try it out in the space and figure out where things would go.¬† Good thing I build a lot of Lego models with Dexter….Ikea cabinetry was¬†pretty much the same.¬†Doug ran new electrical so that we could have a light over each vanity…and when we turned them on, we realized that it was not enough light.¬† Don’t tell Doug, but I’m also not 100% sure I like the lights we picked…what do you think?¬† Maybe I’ll have to wait and see after everything else¬†goes in.¬†¬†We forgot how dark the shower was and how great it would be to have a light in there….so another trip to the store and we had two recessed lights to install for some more light.

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He’s kind of like R2 D2, no?

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(They didn’t have the shower trim kit in stock¬†that we wanted for the light, so that will go in when we get to a store that has it)

Doug added some more electrical boxes too so that he could have an outlet near his vanity and we could have outlets underneath to plug in some under cabinet lighting.

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(Imitate R2D2sounds here.)
Beep beep beep bop?

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I spent Monday cleaning up the space from all of our work and installing some insulation (since three of the walls in the bathroom are exterior walls).¬† Great progress so far, even if it doesn’t look like much yet.

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I say you build a closet for R2D2 here.

Next up, wrap the room in vapor barrier and install new dry wall and concrete board.¬† We will also take on ripping up the floor (and hopefully remove the step–we originally thought it was poured into the concrete slab, but noticed during demolition that it’s concrete block on top of the sub floor…should be removable!)¬† Once the floor is out and dry wall is up it will come together pretty quickly I think.¬† Or at least look better as we go since it will be new stuff going in instead of old stuff left behind.¬† And less dusty.¬† I sound pretty awful from breathing in all that yucky dust.

What do you think?  What would you have done with that corner?