Blogiversary, Houseiversary, and a New Look

Woot!  Lots going on here – I’m celebrating a one year blogiversary and a four year houseiversary (a few days late) with a new blog look.  Check it.

new blog layout

I like that the redesign is lighter, brighter, and generally seems more cheerful.  Cheerful should totally be a blog thing, right?  Maybe a little more pink than I’m used to, but I am a girl after all.

In comparison, the old blog design seems a little heavier and just doesn’t seem quite as happy.

HU homepage screenshot

Also in the new design I’ve added a new section on the right showing my latest pins on Pinterest.  Fair warning:  lots of kitchen pins these days to inspire our in-progress kitchen reno.  Time to start making some decisions on that…

I’ll probably still make a few tweaks to the new design, but if you have any problems in the meantime, just let me know.

And finally, a heartfelt thanks to everyone who has been so supportive of my blogging hobby – you guys are the best!  I just do this for fun (no advertising, financial gain, or internet glory) and I’ve really enjoyed sharing our house updates with all of you.  Most of all, I love the new blog friends I’ve made and sharing ideas with other home improvement addicts.  So thank you!


signature Brit pale heart

Organization and Storage for Sloped Ceiling Closet

Our master closet is not a normal closet, people.  Frankly, in an old Seattle 1924 house, we are very lucky to have any closet space at all.  And we appreciate that.  But all of our bedroom closets are built into the eaves which means they are a weird shape.  Coming up with organization and storage solutions for our sloped ceiling closet was a real challenge.  But here is what we’ve got going so far thanks to building in a few pieces of Ikea storage.

built-in ikea storage for sloped ceiling closet

In setting up the closet, our goals were to maximize storage, keep the window uncovered (that was a debate), and to orient the room so we could stand upright instead of picking out our clothes on our knees. I decided to install off-season storage in the shortest part of the room and to put our clothes on hanging on rods in front of that storage (not yet done, as you can see in the pic, above).  In between the hanging rods, I added a taller Ikea bookcase for some drawers and shelving.  To give you a little orientation, this is the shape of the closet as if you were standing in the doorway.

master closet beadboard drawing

And here’s an overhead view which shows the footprint of the space but everything in gray is under the sloped portion of the roof:

master closet slope

Such little headroom for regular height people!   But I have finally convinced myself that this is charming, rather than annoying.  For our storage, first I grabbed these two Besta units from Ikea.  The bookcases weren’t quite as deep as I wanted them to be, so I pulled them a little bit away from the wall and then added a counter on top with some 1/2″ mdf cut to size.

built-in ikea besta shelving units with counter

To hold up the counter, I created a little ledger board on the back wall (with scrap wood and nails) and also added some supports in between the two bookcases (scrap 2x4s, glue and nails).

ledger board supports ledger board for shelf supports for center shelf

You’ll note in those pics that I totally cheated on my beadboard install - I didn’t have it go all the way to the floor because I knew it would be covered.

Then I put the taller bookcase in the middle (this Ikea Besta unit), in front of the counter.  It was a little too tall so I cut off the side and back pieces with my miter saw and then reattached the base with glue and my nail gun.

master closet sloped storage

Then I trimmed everything with some 1x2s I had on hand.  I wanted it to look really built-in instead of like I threw some Ikea storage into the closet.  I think the key to making Ikea furniture look built-in is trim and caulk (I did it for another piece in our entry, too, which you can see here).

sloped closet storage 2 built-in besta shelves with trim

Finally after caulking and painting, here’s how it looks,

built in storage with beadboard trimmed storage shelving units built-in ikea storage for sloped ceiling closet

I’ve still got to do things like install the clothes rods, the shelves, and the drawers, and then move in!  Oh, and share what’s happening with those ridiculous floors.  I hope to have the full reveal next week…

signature Brit pink heart

Mid-Century Marble Tulip Side Table

Remember when I shared my vision for our window seat?  Well, part my mental vision was having a Saarinen-style, mid-century marble tulip side table in front of the window seat for me to set down my book, my sunglasses, my cup of tea glass of wine, and whatever else that needed a landing spot.  And now I’ve got it.

top view marble tulip table mid century marble side table

I looked for options less expensive than the DWR version and found a great option at Overstock.  But it was sold out.  So I signed up to be emailed when it came back in stock (such a great feature!) and the minute I got that email, I googled for a coupon and then ordered.  I was a little nervous about how well the marble would ship but Overstock packed it really well.

Overstock white marble side table packing

Once I pried apart the wood packaging it was really easy to put together, just a few screws, an allen wrench, and my big arm muscles.

allen wrench tulip table

The marble that makes up the table top is really nice white marble (carrara?).  I didn’t know how it would look in real life but it looks great.  I like it even better than the carrara marble we have on our Pottery Barn vanity in our family bathroom.

white marble table close-up

Even though the window seat has been pushed to the back burner while I’ve been working on my closet, our kitchen, choosing flooring, and another not-yet-shared big project, I am really glad to have a new little bright spot in our house in the meantime.  I’m considering the price of the table to be well worth the motivation for me to stop starting new projects and start finishing the ones already started!

saarinen style marble tulipc side table

So, anyone else hunt for a cheaper version of a classic?  Or love that “email me when it’s back in stock” Overstock feature as much as I do??  What do I need to sign up to order next…

signature Brit pink heart

DIY: How to Install Beadboard on Walls and Ceilings

You’ve already seen our really ugly wallpapered master closet and while it may be bigger now, we had a long way to go to make it look better.  To start, we decided get our DIY on and hang beadboard everywhere.  So here’s the scoop on how to install beadboard on walls and ceilings (or even weird angled closet walls).

DIY how to install beadboard on walls and ceilings

The process isn’t too difficult and it was totally worth it to us to have a fresh, clean closet.  Here’s where our walls started:

master bedroom closet before 2

There just was no way for us to take off all that wallpaper (trust me, I tried).  I think it isn’t really wallpaper but is some sort of ancient wall covering that was was attached to wood with something akin to industrial glue.  It wasn’t coming off.  So we embraced the beadboard look that we already have in our family bathroom and in another closet.

To get started on any beadboard project, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 4′x8′ sheets of beadboard (ours was from Home Depot)
  • trim pieces (if necessary)
  • nail gun + nails
  • construction adhesive (liquid nails)
  • sandpaper or sanding block
  • caulk and wood fill
  • level
  • paint
  • muscles

Our closet is a funny shape so we decided to put our beadboard up one wall, across our ceiling, and down the sloped wall on the opposite side so that if you are standing in the doorway to the closet, looking toward the window, the beadboard (shown in red) would go on the walls like this:

master closet beadboard drawing

We kept the window wall bead-board free (I mean, we didn’t want it looking like a fun-house or anything).  So while this room is a weird shape, the same principles apply for installing sheets of beadboard to any wall and ceiling.  Here’s how you do it.

1.  Measure.  I measured every area surface that I was going to beadboard and then calculated my cuts based on the 4′x8′ sheets of beadboard.  I wimped out and instead of using my b-day gift table saw for the first time, I just had my friendly Home Depot helper cut the sheets to my specs.

2.  Hang your beadboard.  Even before hanging, it’s best to test fit your beadboard.  Assuming your cuts are accurate, start on one side of your room and attach the sheet of beadboard to the wall with construction adhesive on the back (in a squiggly shape) and then with lots of nails.  Use a level to get your first sheet straight and the rest will follow.  Each sheet of beadboard should butt  up together very tightly – you’ll need to really use your muscles to hold the sheets together while nailing it (did that sentence sound wrong to anyone else?).  It is possible to do it on your own (I did some that way) but so much easier to have a second set of hands (again, really awkward language here).

how to install beadboard on walls installing beadboard on walls

3.  Add Trim.  Our walls were all wonky so we used trim to make sure that everything looked nice and neat where the walls met the ceiling.  Again, bust out your nail gun for this.

diy how to install beadboard on ceiling and walls trim corners of beadboard

4.  Fill and Caulk and Sand.  You want your beadboard to look seamless, so fill every single hole with wood filler.  Then sand to make it smooth.  Then caulk every seam.  And caulk where your trim meets your beadboard.  Here’s a progression of a seam and nail holes to show how it looks:

collage of finishing beadboard

5.  Paint.  I used a 6″ roller to just roll the entire thing with white paint.  I would have liked a brushed look better but hell, it’s a closet, and I’m in the middle of our kitchen reno so a little rolling saved a lot of time.

floor to ceiling beadboard   DIY how to install beadboard

And that’s really it!  The biggest challenge is hoisting up those sheets of beadboard but once you’ve done that, the rest is pretty smooth sailing.  And now it just looks so much better – not that that’s saying a lot considering where we started.

Okay, next I’ll share our organization and storage solutions for this really awkward-shaped closet.  I feel another Ikea hack coming on…

signature Brit pink heart

 Linked:  Home Stories A to Z.

Flooring Dilemma: Unfinished Hardwoods, Prefinished Hardwoods, Engineered Wood, or What?

A mega stumbling block in our kitchen reno is deciding on our flooring and choosing whether to put in unfinished hardwood floors to have sanded and stained on site, prefinished hardwood floors, engineered wood floors, whether to install wood floors on top of our existing (and very damaged) wood floor, or whether to just live forever with this:

particle board flooring

Scary, right?  That’s original hardwood flooring covered with a yucky/fuzzy/black glue product and then  covered with particle board and then covered with a very thin glued-on laminate floor.  And it’s in our entire kitchen.

The flooring decision is kind of big for us because it isn’t just a decision for our kitchen.  We plan to replace all the floors on our entire main floor (except my favorite white wood floors in our guest bathroom).  Our main floor has lots of probs, and here is the visual evidence:

entry floor

plywood floor patches old tile flooring

Check out the random sections of plywood, tape/glue on floors, really bad patch jobs, and even a random section of tile.  Yowzas.

Our number one goal for our floors was to save our existing wood flooring but it just isn’t going to work.  We’ve got lots of wood to patch and we even tested patching and staining it.  But the old wood won’t match up with new wood, despite our best efforts.  The below pic shows old wood in the middle and new on either side, and even after trying two different stains and one section with just sealer, the difference between old and new wood is even more obvious in real life.

old and new wood flooring sample

We are super bummed.  So we’ve gone back and forth A LOT to try and decide what to do.  We’ve gotten multiple bids for multiple options each, have tested various samples, and still can’t figure out what to do.  Here are a few samples, where the top row has unfinished wood stained and sanded and the bottom row has various types of prefinished wood.

wood flooring samples

Bottom line:  we need help.  Mental and otherwise.  After thinking and worrying about this waaay too much, I’ve condensed down my thoughts to these ten (no way I could get it down to five):

  1. We are locked into wood floors for sure.  We love them and that’s that.  Any efforts to dissuade us will fall on deaf ears (we had wood floors in our last kitchen and loved them).
  2. Tearing out our existing floors is a couple thousand bucks (ugh).  We could do it ourselves, but it will take us forever.
  3. Adding flooring on top of our wood floors will not cause a problem for doorways but will shorten the overall height of the room.
  4. Engineered flooring generally is thinner than solid wood, but there are some options for thinner solid hardwoods.
  5. We are leaning toward a medium/darker wood with some natural wood variation to hide dents/dings/dirt better.
  6. We love the variation of walnut but it is a softer wood (and way more expensive) so we would prefer something harder so our kiddos can race around freely.  And so I can clack around in my high heels.  We appreciate nice stuff but our house is not a museum.
  7. Semi or high gloss floor finish is not ideal – our primary living areas (including our kitchen) are exposed to tons of light and I really don’t want to have a shine/glare off my floors.  Matte or satin would be best.
  8. Pre-finished flooring, whether solid wood or engineered wood, has beveled edges and I’m worried about my ability to clean up things like yogurt spilled into the bevels.
  9. Installing unfinished hardwoods to be sanded/stained/sealed on site will take longer and will require us to be out of the house for at least the last few days (or a week?) of the process.
  10. We’d have to hire out installing/finishing unfinished hardwoods (we just lack the time to get it done, although we did it in our last house) but maybe we could take on installing prefinished on our own.

So many things to consider!  We are really struggling with a decision.  So if you have any input, any at all, we are all ears.  We’ve got to make this decision so we can actually cook and eat – someday…

signature Brit pink heart