Monday, September 19, 2011

Fun New Trick!

I often read a Blog/Website called The Lettered Cottage. Layla Palmer, the woman who writes the blog, often does a segment called "Pick my Presto." She takes a photograph that a follower sends her, and she digitally adds decorative elements, wall colors, furniture, and convincingly so. You can check out her website here. I have often wondered how she does it, knowing this this would be a powerful tool in deciding what direction I want to go in on my own home.

I have to make a confession. I am not, and never have been, a visionary. I have a hard time seeing the end result until... well... the end. I have instincts that USUALLY lead me in the right direction, but I am always surprised by the result. SO, with a whole house and yard to create, I find myself overwhelmed and intimidated.

I sat down today at my computer and opened my favorite photo editing software, Gimp 2, which happens to be freeware, and I highly recommend it, and started messing around.

Gimp 2 is like Photoshop, but free. You can download it here.

Be prepared, if you don't know Photoshop, this software is difficult to maneuver.  It's not terribly user friendly.  It's taken me several hours to even scratch the surface of what it's capable of.

I managed to finish my front lawn and one wall of my family room.

Here is the front lawn now, please keep in mind this is my first attempt and it's not perfect.

This is what I want it to look like eventually.

Red door, blue trim on the fascia, green grass, a few hydrangea shrubs, shutter and new windows and its literally my dream house.

Here is the west wall of the family room as it stands now.

And here it is in my imagination :)

If any of you are in a rut in a particular room, I would love to do this for you! Simply become a follower and make a comment on this post, I will choose a few of you, get a few photos, ask a few questions, and post the end result here on my blog.

Happy Imagining!

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Not finished... but progress

First, cabinets.

So my other brother in law, Chris, as you can see we have a lot of family, works with his family in a kitchen/bath remodeling business. They are really awesome and have been in business for a long time. I highly recommend them. (You can check out their website here)

He called and said he was tearing out a kitchen and the home owner no longer wanted the old cabinets. He said we could have them for free if we could haul them off. We jumped on it!

My other brother in law, Brent, used his trailer and he went and picked them up and dropped them off on the front lawn.

So we tore out the ugly blue beasts in the kitchen, revealing all kinds of unsavory surprises (ie. a few "nests" of unknown origin), Simple Greened the walls, and began re-constructing the kitchen.

It was harder than I was expecting it to be. There was a lot of math involved. We tried piecing it together like a puzzle, but nailing down upper cabinets is HARD... and after putting them up and taking them down several times, I told Newell he needed to go to bed, and I spent the next two hours drawing the kitchen out according to the measurements I had and the cabinets we had.

It paid off. The next night we began work and it went together much easier, with a little problem solving in between.

So the cabinets went in, and they are not perfect, but the kitchen looks alot better.

So here is before, just as a reminder:

Here is a progress shot, before countertops:

I am going to paint the cabinets an aged white and the hardware ORB.

So since the cabinets, and eventually, the wood floors, will be quaint and country, I wanted a contrasting countertop, something sleek and industrial. I also have an aversion for all the "fake" granite out there. I used to have some, and I always got asked what it was, and I had to sheepishly admit that it was just laminate, with an etched finish and a bullnose edge, to LOOK like granite. And, for that matter, I rarely meet a granite that I like. There are a few variations that I would use, but for the most part, I just have never been too fond of it.

So i decided I either wanted a butcher block surface, or a laminate that says, "Heck yes I'm laminate, and not ashamed to admit it!"

We had a prior quote from a contractor to install laminate countertops for $500.

I browsed the Ikea website and feel deeply in love.

These people get it. They just do.

Every surface I saw there was unusual. I settled on a gray top with stainless steel edges, no bullnose, just straight up square.

We raced down to the Ikea in Tempe and got there 30 minutes before closing. Our total ended up being $195... what a deal.

Here is a sneak peak

A lot of cleaning, a lot of moving... and a lot of decisions to be made

Before we could move in, we had to paint and put in carpet, and most of all, clean.

We are running continually on a limited budget, so we had to prioritize on what we felt we absolutely had to do, and we decided, get one bathroom working, which niether one really was, and also, like I said before, carpet and paint, and the kitchen as a whole would have to wait.

So, while I cleaned, along with Molly and my mom and Jennie and Bradley, Newell went around fixing things, demolishing things, etc.

This is my mama, who spent a collective total of SEVEN HOURS cleaning the bathrooms alone. She used her handy dandy steam cleaner, steaming out crevices and cracks, unclogging drains, bleaching and scrubbing.

You can see the carpet, which ended up being installed professionally and costing us more than expected, though it was still a bargain at $700 for all the bedrooms and the family room.

And we painted everything the same color to save time and energy and confusion. I picked out a light blue from Walmart's Color Place brand, which I have always felt was a good deal and the paint quality is decent. Everyone got in on the painting action. Even some of my 10 year old nephews.


My mother-in-law, Debbie

My sister-in-law, Emily

My brother-in-law, Ben

My niece, Adrianna

And my beautiful step-daughter, Jennie

Without their help, my walls would still be nasty.

We decided to rent a Uhaul since, as I mentioned in my last post, the previous occupants unwillingness to move out made out timeline messy and we needed a place to keep all our stuff in the interim.

My brother in law, Toby, brought his son, Tyler, and between them and my husband, the Uhaul was unloaded in a few hours.


Even my 9 year old son, Ethan, was a big help

And here is the house, after all the moving-in chaos, our stuff piled into rooms with brand-new carpet and brand new paint.

Next up, organizing, closets, and kitchen progress...

Update: New House

I have been getting a lot of emails asking for photos of the project so far.

Too much has happened to go into too much detail in one post, so I will start from the beginning.

The prior tenant, we soon discovered, had lived here all of his 37 years. He had lived here with his daughter, and I think, at one time, his daughters mother. But I never met the mother and don't know what became of her.

When we bought the home he said that he had just lost his job and, his dad, the man who owned the home, had sold it without keeping him informed. He said that he was now about to be homeless. We gave him five days to move, and he eventually did, but did not take much with him. We recently discovered that he moved across the street, to live with his friend. So, in an awkward twist, we now see him regularly, along with his dog and occasionally his 18 year old daughter.

So we began with a giant clean-up, trash out effort. We had family and friends over and we all worked in record breaking heat and humidity, with no air conditioning, in filth and dust for four days.

It wasn't fun. But here are some photos of the process.

These were inside:

And here are some progress shots of the outside:

We the tore out carpet. It became clear to us all that this would require masks, as this stirred up a lot of odors and air borne contaminants. It was yucky. My husband and step son, Bradley, did all the work.

So, here are the last photos I have of the house, all cleaned out, carpet removed. The outside is still messy, as we speak, but now the carport is full of our stuff... and we are slowly chipping away at that.

Next up, moving in and a little put-back...