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Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kitchen Details

The after pictures that I posted on the Kitchen: Before and After post were nice but they were pretty plain.  Now that we have lived here for over a month now, I felt we should update the blog with pictures of the actual "lived-in" kitchen.  Plus you can see where we added color and texture and the new counter stools.

Also, here is the wide view of the Kitchen and Dining room which I have been unable to photograph until now.

This is my happy place.  It was one of the biggest and first tasks we wanted to accomplish when we first started brainstorming what we were to do when we renovated.

This is the same view from before the renovation.
Honestly.  I almost don't even believe it! When I look at this picture, I feel like someone has wrapped their fingers around my neck and are closing off my airway.  -Slightly dramatized but yet, it conveys the spirit of how this part of the house made me feel.  Suffocated and cut off.  Now? Open and ready to party!

 Yes, there are some new additions to the kitchen since you last saw it.  The new counter stool have been working overtime since we assembled them after our trip to IKEA.

And I got these canisters for Christmas from my mother-in-law. 

 I love the antique feel they have and their copper finish ties in with our copper sink and island lights.

We have also been trying to add subtle color in other ways like through dish towels, rugs, and fruit on the island.

Overall I think things are really coming together for this lil' ol' kitchen o' mine.  I'm just gonna let her shine!

 And I thought I would end today's post with a funny story.  Would you like to hear it?

Well, whenever I preheated my oven, there came along with it a very strong propane smell.  So much so that I turned on the vent hood to help clear out the fumes.  Not only that, but it seemed like it took forever to preheat.  This went on for a couple of weeks until I said something to Saint Steve. So SS and I came over to the oven and turned the oven on and waited for the fumes to come.  They gradually got stronger and stronger and all of a sudden...


A big fireball shot out the bottom of the oven! 

"Whoa" Said Laura.
"I don't think it is suppose to do that", said SS. :-)

So we turned the oven off and started to disassemble the inside of the oven.  The first thing we did was remove the oven liner I had placed at the bottom of the oven - you know to catch anything that might fall to the bottom of the oven.  When we removed that, there was a warning on the bottom that said, "do not cover with foil".  Oh.

Well...  I mean.. Ooops.  Yes, the fireball was, of course, my mistake because I had not seen the warning when I had placed the liner there. The liner was preventing the flow of propane, so it built up below the oven; when the oven eventually did light, Ka-boom!

So word to the wise.  Check before you cover the bottom of your oven.  :-)

Any fireballs coming from your oven? Or other house-mishaps?

Don't miss a beat.  
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Sunday, January 19, 2014


Well we've done it.  We have taken our new homeowner obligatory journey to and through IKEA. I think it is a right of passage for young homeowners to take the pilgrimage to IKEA for its space-saving and money-saving items! At least it seemed that way for us!



Bang for our buck.

That's the bottom line in our book. We would not call ourselves house poor by any means but after a 7 month renovation, any person in their right mind would be looking to save a couple of bucks.

We had several items on our radar.

1. Closet system. 

Although we could have asked St. Steve to build us a beautiful and custom closet, we felt like we just couldn't.  Time and finances made us look at other options.  We looked at Lowe's closet systems and were not too impressed.  I have heard good things about the IKEA PAX system so that was the direction we headed.  They have a very nice planning tool for the system that is fairly easy to use.
This was one of the configurations we had dreamed up for our closet - its not the one we went with, I'll show you that one on another day.

Then, for a short time we considered switching gears to the ALGOT system.
The ALGOT system came in at a cool $255 and would have been an incredible savings for us, but on that day we learned the benefits of checking things out in their showroom.  When we got there we took one look at it, we realized the quality was just not going to work for us.  There was no way it was going to hold up as a closet system. The drawers were pretty flimsy and came off the tracks. So we went back to our original plan of the PAX system.  And guess what?! It was on sale! IKEA is redesigning the PAX system and were putting the old style on clearance. So we saved about $250 on our closet! Score!

1. Living room furniture

I have always loved the look of slip covered sofas.  I love the casual homey feel that they give off.  And I love that they are super practical because you can wash them or replace them to freshen things up.

So I have been dreaming of throwing out our old college-style slip covered furniture and upgrading.

Ones I have been digging?
1. Pottery Barn
2. Ballard Designs

As much as I would love to just go for it and buy me a Pottery Barn or Ballard gem, we can get a great IKEA look-a-like for about $1000 less.  Maybe some day.  Because I truly believe that quality does matter, but so does price.  And with future kiddos coming down the line who will climb, spill, jump, and waller on these babies, I just want to be conservative before I jump in and spend that kind of money.  But also, we have known a lot of people with the Ikea EKTROP sofa and they have all been very happy with how they have held up.

So we went for it.  We bought the sofa with matching love seat.  I was originally planning to buy the beige slipcover but when we got there and took a look at it we thought it was too close in color to the white slipcover chairs we were planning to get.  Michael was happy.  He had wanted the grey ones all along.  I was glad for him.  He doesn't win color battles too often.  :-)

Like I said we also planned to get two white slip cover chairs - the Jennylund EKTORP- to go along with our sofas. 

 I decided on white slipcovers because I love love love the look of white slipcovers but I did not want to take the plunge of going all white on the sofa or love seat.  I wanted a taste, but not the whole meal.  In my mind, it seemed a lot less daunting of a task to remove a slipcover from a chair to wash vs a whole sofa.  We'll see if I live to regret it.  But that is the great thing about the ikea slipcovers, it cost very little to change your mind ($39 to be specific)! Can't beat that!!

3. Bar Stools

We also needed bar stools for our kitchen island.  Ya'll, bar stools are expensive! I have been on the hunt for reasonably price barstools for months! Ever since we knew we'd need them for our counter height island.  The main places I had looked were target, pier 1, world market, joss&main, and craigslist.  I was really hoping I could find some inexpensive options I could rehab from craigslist dice.  The stars never aligned where there were 3 counter height stools that were a good price and condition.  I definitely wanted to spend less that $100 a stool.  So that excluded joss&main and pier 1.  I had been very close to purchasing different stools at world market (#1) and target (#2) - Like I had my mouse hovering over the checkout button.

But I just didn't feel right about any of them.  At first I thought I wanted something industrial feeling like the one from world market.  But eventually I felt like it just didn't seem to fit with everything else - it felt a little too dirty while the rest of my kitchen was feeling so fresh and clean.  The target stools were cute but had a french country feel to them, which is fine, just not what I was looking for.  So ultimately I decided simple and classic is best - not sure why I fight this sometimes... I think more and more I am realizing this is central to my personal style. 

So I finally decided we would go with (#3) the INGOLF bar stool. At a cool $60 a stool, that easily came in under budget.  I know what you are thinking though... did we sacrifice quality for price?  And I would respond, "Not that I can see."  They are built with solid wood and feel very sturdy.  I like their petite frame and the fact that they have a shorter back that does not stick up much over the counter.  I like the white color that ties in with the perimeter cabinets.  Although, I have toyed with the idea of painting them (our kitchen could use more pops of color).  Still might.  As of right now, I am just going to live with them as is and mull over that idea for a while.

That's it!

Big big big thanks to my parents and our friend Peter (who's in med school in Chicago and met us there).  We could not have done it without them! It would have been impossible to maneuver all those carts by ourselves.  Also, a big special kudos goes out to my dad.  What a trooper.  He's not a shopper (biggest understatement ever), and I think he could have very easily lost his mind (and cool) in that crazy place.  But he didn't.  What-a-man! Thanks dad!

Yes, so I mentioned that we had a lot of carts to maneuver.  How many is a lot?  I would say 5 is a lot, wouldn't you?  We had 6.  Yikes. It was slightly embarrassing at the checkout line.  But we couldn't possibly be the only people in history to ever purchase a lot of stuff from IKEA.  A guy across from us in line smiled and said, "is this for a business?" I laughed and said, "Nope! It's all for us!" Embarrassing.  But necessary.  We really are pleased with the purchases now that they have been unloaded and assembled. 
We got home Sunday night about 8:30 and had everything unloaded by a little after 9pm.  We are super smart people and had planned this trip the day before we were having our small group over to our home for the first time. That meant we had to get everything assembled within the next 22hours.  So by 10pm we were looking at each other thinking, ok... hope this goes well... and fast! And it did! By midnight we had assembled the sofas, two chairs, and three bar stools.  I mean, I did have a Purdue Engineer working on this so.... I did have a bit of an advantage over the normal IKEA assembler. But overall it was pretty simple.

Obviously we did not assemble the closet system.  It will be an all day Saturday kind of project I think.  And, of course, I will update you all when we finish that! I think I will be able to post a before and after of the living room soon! Steve finished the fireplace mantel this week, I just need to slap some paint on the trim and stain the mantel.  Excited about that!

Doing any furniture buying lately? Have you guys ever dropped a wad at IKEA like we did?   

Don't miss a beat.  
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Monday, January 6, 2014

Dining Room: Before and After

Welcome to the dining room (said with a classy English accent. Think Downton Abbey style).
So....welcome to the dining room.

Would you like to try the house special?  Tomato soup and grill cheese?  Yeah me neither, I'm sick of it too.  Seriously though, I need to go grocery shopping.  Poor Michael.
Anyway, here's the dining room renovation: before and after.

Before=All closed in, dark, and dingy.
After=Bright, airy, and clean.

Here's another view

Pretty Pretty Pretty. 

I really love the way the beadboard cozy's up the space, defines the room, and adds texture.  The space above the beadboard will eventually be painted.  And also I think the door would be a fun place to add color.  I just haven't quite made up my mind yet about what color I want.  I'm leaning toward blue but I haven't decided yet.  I also thought adding a fun wallpaper up there could be cool.  Michael disagrees.  He thinks that is the opposite of cool.  So maybe we will compromise on a stencil.  Or maybe we will bring pattern in through the curtains and keep the wall a solid color.  Thoughts? 

And the top of the beadboard is actually a small shelf.  During Christmas we had used the shelf to display all of our Christmas cards.  In the future, who knows what this little shelf will be displaying. I have a painting that my Great Great Aunt painted - maybe that.

And of course I love the large window with my pretty trim.

One thing I do really like is the table and chair ensemble.  This girl loves antique chairs.  And Michael and I have been collecting them from various places - my mom, garage sales, auctions.  We also got this cute harvest table (which I realize now you cannot see because it has been hiding under this tablecloth this whole time, sorry!) from an auction when we were living in our apartment and we're now excited to have a dining space large enough to be able to house it. The finish is a little rough but I think it would be a good venue to experiment with some chalk paint (not chalkboard paint) you see everywhere on pinterest.  So that will be a project I think I may try to tackle this spring.  

Michael and I just finished painting the dining room beadboard yesterday.  And we have been working on the other trim in the house since we've been snowed in. 

Check out the drifts in front of our sliding glass door in the basement. There was one up to my chin!

Also, behind our house there is a big open field and it looks like waves made of snow.  Pretty cool (like -13 degrees cool! bahahaha).  And here is my wonderful husband, braving the cold to go shovel our the drive.
He said he just wanted to know what -13 degrees (wind chill -39 degrees) felt like.  I was less curious. 

Until next time...Stay warm ladies and gents. Stay warm.