Archive for ‘Happiness is’

May 25, 2018

Soooo much better

by Janie Jones

The Spud comes home tomorrow and by working up until yesterday I was able to meet my living room reno deadline.  Sort of.

I did run out of time and energy to finish the window trim and a little bit of baseboard trim, and there are a few touch ups needed.  But I can live with that a while because in every way the living room looks sooo much better and like home.

Unfortunately, I am not as pleased with the paint color as I thought I’d be.  I really went round and round with color swatches.  I taped them up to the wall in various areas of the living room trying to decide which I liked better.  I wanted something grey with a subtle warm green tone hoping it would downplay the blue tones in the drapes.  In dim natural light it is fine and picks up the greyish tones in the drapes like I wanted.  Unfortunately the lighting mostly makes it look greyish mint green and I feel that color clashes with the drapes.

Strangely enough, the color gives me the impression of being old and tired instead of fresh and chic.   Perhaps because, I have recently realized, the color is very much the same color as the area rug I had for many years until the death of my landlady and my years of pseudo homelessness.  As much as I didn’t want to go with tones of blue in my living room and dining room, looking at this new paint color actually makes me wish my walls were more of a color match to the drapes.

Oh, man, I hate it when I like things that go against the plan.  But this is a fresh “new” house and a fresh “new” phase in my life.  Much of the furniture is new, and I think maybe it is good to go down a different color palette route.  So I’m going to live with it a while and see if it grows on me, but I’m pretty sure eventually I’ll want to change it.  While that distresses the penny pincher in me, at least I only will need one gallon and re-painting the wall only will not take long.

Silly Janie.  This is where I have to laugh at myself.  Even though I am not thrilled with the color of the walls, I love the wallpaper texture.  I makes the room feel so much more elegant, hiding the flaws in the wall and the painted cheap wood paneling.  I finally dug out my art and hung the prints up in the living room and dining room, and it gives the house such a feeling of homey-ness and completion.  I do like it a lot over all.

So, without further a-do, here’s photos:

BEFORE

 

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AFTER

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March 24, 2018

Before and After

by Janie Jones

Hello blog friends!  I have been meaning to write this post for a few days now, but various things kept getting in the way.  Anyway, this is now the part where I bombard you all with dodgy photos of my dining room re-do.

This is what it looked like the day I bought my house:

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Can you spot the Rupert?

That, my friends is emerald green carpet.  A lot of emerald green carpet.  All over the main floor of the house and stairs.  In its heyday it was probably a fairly nice medium to long pile.  It has seen, I’m pretty sure, at least 30 years of wear and was now matted down to the point of being nearly a Berber.  You could also tell where previous owners had furniture placed by the different fade marks.

You can’t much tell in the photo, but the baseboards and crown molding (original by the way) were smudged in more than one spot by previous ineptly executed paint jobs.  Furthermore, along the crown molding different color stains were used for different parts of the molding.

So very stylish indeed.  I am not even going to comment on the ugly drapes on the window which don’t match the ugly drapes on the patio door in the adjacent wall.

I borrowed some young burly-man might (two 20 something college guys of my acquaintance), filled a cooler with bottles of craft beer and had a carpet-tearing-up party.

Then my dining room looked like this:

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Yes my friends.  That is original 1 inch maple floor boards some yahoo had splattered white paint all over when the ceiling was glitter popcorned probably circa 1970, give or take decade.  Now, I’m no home reno expert.  Probably when I leave this house the next people will curse my decorating and remodeling choices.  But, I never understand why someone would do this to a beautiful hardwood floor.  Stain it, paint it or cover it, but don’t totally deface it.

Anyway.  Better this than nasty carpet.  This can be fixed.  And finally, last fall, it was transformed in to the beautiful butterfly it was waiting to be:

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As you can see, I actually had all the first floor floors done at the same time (except for the kitchen, which will be a much later project).  Aren’t they beautiful?

Except the massively annoying contractor who did the floors did not stain it the color I told him I wanted.  I gave him a half empty stain can of the same stain used upstairs that I wanted him to match so he had no excuse.  And he put up toe kicks in a totally different color stain from what he used on the floor (also not the color I wanted).

I would have made him re-do it all, but when I hired him at the end of September, I told him I wanted the job done by Thanksgiving so I could bring in furniture and decorate for the holidays.  He finished at 6pm on the day before Thanksgiving.  So, if I wanted it redone I would have had to either skip having a functional living room and dining room for the holidays or pack everything back up after the first of the year and deal with another round of dust and fumes and not being able to get to my kitchen or bathroom.  I could fill a month’s worth of blog posts complaining about contractors, let me tell you.

BUT.  I am trying to put that behind me.  Despite them not doing what I really wanted, the floors still look about a million times better than they did when they had that hideous old green carpet on them.  So, I am satisfied, if not tickled pink.

The dining room then sat basically empty except for a new rug and a card table with a mismatch of chairs.  I wanted to repaint the walls.  And after a long back and forth with myself, I also decided to just paint the baseboards and crown molding instead of trying to sand it down (to get rid of the old paint sploches) and re-stain it all to a matching color.  There are probably a lot of fixer-uppers out their rolling over in their graves when I say I painted 100 year old wood white.  I really felt bad doing it myself.  I normally think that is a sacrilege.  But it makes the room look so much lighter, brighter, cleaner and bigger.  So, as much as I felt naughty doing it, I really like the result.

The walls got a creamy not-quite-white-with-the-barest-hint-of-yellow paint.  Which again, I think is bright, light, clean and welcoming.  I really wanted a rich mossy color velvet drape, but I simply couldn’t find anything in my price range, so I settled on a pale grey.  Turns out, the pale grey looks more like aquamarine when it is dark.  So I almost sent them back.  But, in the end, they were such a good price, and I probably wouldn’t even be able to make drapes from raw fabric for less money, so they stayed.

Once the all the painting was done, I went to work on building china cabinets (which despite being very low budget I think they look pretty good) and refinishing my new budget bargain dining room table and chairs.

The table originally looked like this:

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Unfortunately, you get what you pay for.  It’s not very well made, but as anything I liked was at least $300 more and out of my budget, I decided to try a little cosmetic upgrade.  I didn’t want a white table base, and the country-esque look isn’t my style.  So off to the hardware store I went and for about $35 I did a faux mercury glass finish on the base and re-stained the table surface.

I used a new stain/poly product I’ve never worked with before, and I am not totally thrilled with the end result on the table surface.  It went on really gloopy and was thicker and stickier than other separate stains and polyurethanes I’ve used on projects in the past.  So, when it dried there was a lot of inconsistencies in the color finish and in the texture.  I don’t know if that is a product flaw or operator error due to inexperience.  But perhaps when the weather is nice I can take it outside and hit it with a super fine grit sandpaper and try again.  However, the faux mercury glass finish on the base really pleased me.  It’s delicate, so it may not hold up over time, but hopefully I won’t need to use this cheap-ass table for too may years anyway.

This is the end result:

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The final phase of the project was putting together the new chairs.  I have always wanted upholstered dining room chairs, but they were either out of my budget or totally impractical (as in when my daughter was young).  I found a really good deal I could get coupled with coupons on some grey velvet upholstered chairs.  The legs were wood and painted a really strange metallic color, but hey, I had extra stain, so I just lickity-split sanded and re-stained them to match the surface of the table.

Now, I have put together a lot of bargain basement furniture over the years of stretching every nickel to make a dime.  But I tell you, these chairs were a real bitch to put together.  The problem being you had to screw in the back piece to the base at a strange angle and you couldn’t see if the holes were lining up and the stupid Allen wrench was hard to turn in the tiny corner you were working in.  Gah.  Leif came upon me struggling to get them put together.  I was supposed to have him over for dinner and I really wanted to eat in my new dining room at my new table with the new chairs.  So he lent his hand.  It even took him an hour to screw in 24 bolts to put three chairs together.

But lo and behold.  It was finally all done:

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And, look at that!  The chair fabric is almost the same color as the drapes I thought about sending back!

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Hello Rupert.

 

I do still plan to do a few more things.  But I am out of money.  I absolutely hate the ceiling fan.  So eventually I want to get a new one.  Also, I want to put faux tin tiles on the ceiling to hide the glittery popcorn treatment.  And, I have extra drapes to transform into valances, which I will do at some point, but I still don’t have my sewing table put together so that last finishing touch can sit on the back burner.

Still, the room looks done and now I feel so very elegant.  Even with my cheap, low quality furniture.  I can sit in my living room and look across the way and think, “Gosh, when did I get so posh!”

Now I just have to keep up with vacuuming all the dog hair off the upholstery.

Thanks for visiting!

March 9, 2018

Where are little cats X, Y and Z when you need ’em?

by Janie Jones

I had meant to use some of my winter holiday where I had 16 consecutive days off of work to get some real stuff done around my house.

As it happened, I did very little besides sofa surf and eat way too much.  Then I spent much of January and February feeling really poorly.  The best physicians and specialists Big City can afford were all about giving me this pill or that pill but no one really was telling me what was causing me to feel poorly.  It is a bit of a pickle, as it is very likely it is a combo of things, but I don’t like to just take drugs that mask symptoms.  I’d much prefer to nail down the problem and work on something to actually fix the problem(s) causing the symptoms.

Anyway, I digress.  This post is not meant to be about my health.  Instead, it’s about me trying to manage some positive changes in my environment.

So,  on Thanksgiving eve the floor contractors sort of finished the job.  I quickly put some furniture in place to make the living and dining room areas usable and went Christmas decorating crazy.  Then, as I mentioned above, everything else came to a grinding halt in the wake of holiday revelry and relaxation.

Sounds lovely, no?  But in actuality, this meant that a large pile of boxes (large as in floor to ceiling covering a 6×8 foot area, or the majority of my basement except a walkway around the pile from the stairs to the spare bedroom, the pantry closet and the laundry room and a narrow area just wide enough for my exercise machine) has languished unpacked.

This is perhaps not a critical issue, but I do use my basement every day for exercising.  Leif will use the spare bedroom when he visits and of course I need to do laundry weekly or so.  So it happens that I am constantly reminded of what a disaster it is downstairs.

Now, if you dear readers have not yet discerned from many years of perusing my drivel, I am a bit of an organization freak.  I have been dubbed “Just-so Janie” and it is some how physically painful for me to be in an ugly, messy environment.

Not like I’m some feng shui freak, but chaos and disorder and dark and dingy do make me feel a little anxious, cranky and sap my energy and enthusiasm.  So perhaps a little part of my aforementioned health issues might be in some part a small measure of the emotional drain associated with the mess in my basement.

The problem with the basement was exacerbated by The Plan.  The Plan being the organized way to deal with the unpacking.  See, it didn’t make sense to unpack all that stuff which belongs mostly to the dining room and kitchen until the remodel of the dining room was complete.  What’s more, there was a lot of crap in the kitchen cupboards that needed to go in the basement pantry closet (tools, remodeling supplies, cases of beer/soda, extra canned goods, paper towels and Ziploc bags, you know stuff you tend to buy in large quantities or are big and bulky) that I couldn’t move downstairs until downstairs was cleaned out.  And there was a large number of boxes of extra kitchen stuff stacked on the open soffits above the cupboards that couldn’t be unpacked until the extra stuff in the cupboards was moved.  If you too are a neat freak I’m sure you’ll understand my pickle.

Well, a few weeks ago I finally got motivated enough to paint the dining room.  Then I built the new china cabinets.  But the basement mess felt so big and so deep and so tall I didn’t know quite how I’d move it at all.

In the end I took two vacation days off from work and, in a truly Seussian fashion, yesterday, the first day off, I pulled everything out of the kitchen that didn’t belong there.   This included the boxes filled with my extra kitchen items (I have a problem.  I collect Way.  To.  Much.  Kitchen. Stuff) which I unpacked.  By the end of the day I had a contractor 33 gallon trash bag full of newspaper that had cushioned my cherished possessions, an immense pile of empty cardboard boxes, and, naturally, crap everywhere.

The mess is daunting, and I’m not done.  There’s still about a dozen boxes in the basement of china and decorative glassware and specialty kitchen crockery.  The pile of cardboard and wrappings is still growing.  I feel like I need one of those clean up cars belonging to the Cat in the Hat.

 

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Image from The Cat In the Hat, by Dr. Seuss

 

But it was rather thrilling to excavate beautiful things I haven’t seen or used in 4+ years.  I can’t explain my joy at once again seeing my collection of antique green glass dishes and my special occasion china, my favorite wine glasses with the raised bumblebee motif, and my unbelievably insane collection of bowls of all sizes.  I did a little happy dance around the pile of empty boxes.

I am really excited to have all my cherished possessions on display and available for use again.  Plus, I have a new dining room table and some elegant velvet upholstered chairs that have languished in their shipping boxes since late October waiting for the dining room to be ready for their debut.

So much more work, but so much more ultimately thrilling than going to the tropics for spring break.

Back to work!!!

February 18, 2018

I am not dead, I just bought a house

by Janie Jones

Greetings to anyone still out there.

I did buy a house last June.  Not the one mentioned in the previous post.  That first house ended up having some issues with the inspection that I didn’t want to deal with.  As it happens, I found something I liked better a short while later.  So even though it was stressful, it worked out well in the end.  How often do I say that?!?

This is the house I did buy:

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Janie, the spud and Rupert on the front steps of our new home

Built in 1919, it’s a traditional two storey with 3 bedrooms and a partially finished basement with a 4th bedroom.  There is a large kitchen with a fairly open concept living room-dining room.  The yard is very small, but out back the home has a nice big deck, a detached garage and extra off street parking (a big must in my area).   While in good structural condition, it was lost in the 80s and needed a lot of cosmetic upgrades.  Most urgently the rooms all needed fresh paint and to ditch the 30+ year old carpet.  Underneath most of the nasty old carpet was maple hardwood flooring.  It has been a laborious, stressful and expensive process getting the floors re-finished, but they are finally done everywhere except the stair case (which my contractor was supposed to have done before Thanksgiving, but that’s another story) and the kitchen.  I have new tile for the kitchen, so hopefully I can look into getting that re-done soon as well.  Eventually I also want to paint the exterior.  I am not fond of that brick red color and, though you can’t really tell in this blurry, enlarged photo, the paint job was pretty shoddy.

This is not my first house reno, but it is the first time I had to do a whole house by myself while working two jobs.  It has not been a pretty process; I have broken down and hired contractors for a lot of the floor work and while it saved me personally a lot of time, the dealing with people who don’t give a rat’s ass about what you want even though you are paying them to work on your house has been very frustrating.  But I am almost done (conveniently I am also almost out of money) and I am really looking forward to having a home to be proud of again.  Lately I have been, what do they call it?  Oh, yes.  Happy.

I still have a massive pile of unpacked crap in my basement.  Mostly it is stuff for the kitchen, dining room and decorative fru-fru (such as my wall hangings, decorative glass and pottery) but as I haven’t decided what to do about the kitchen, which is in much need of new, well, everything, and I am still working on finishing painting and wallpapering some of the interior rooms it hasn’t made sense to unpack it all.  However, I did go and set up all my Christmas decorations.  Some of which hadn’t seen the light of day since December of 2013.  When the spud arrived home for the holiday, she said, “Momma, our new house looks like a movie set.”  I knew then that all was right with the world.

My second job, being seasonal, is over for the winter, but the reno work is still slow going.  Most projects have to happen on the weekends and be woven in between other mundane things like grocery shopping and laundry and the occasional fun times with friends.  And, after the holidays, I deflated upon putting away all the decorations and got nothing done but sofa surfing during most of my free time in January.  But, I am trying to grab my motivation by the scruff and shake it back into action.  I do really want to get stuff done, it’s just boring and, well, exhausting to work all week at the JOB then work on the house.  Plus, I don’t really like sanding, and staining, and painting and wallpapering, I just want the finished product.

Things got really bad a few weeks back until I had an epiphany:  Audio books.  I got myself a subscription to Amazon’s Audible, and listened to a Jane Austen spin-off while painting the dining room.  *Cue corny music*  Ahh-ahh-ahh!  I actually started to look forward to painting so I could listen to what would happen to Elizabeth and Darcy in the next chapter.  So, hopefully my new subscription will help keep my nose to the grindstone.  Today’s task awaiting me once I am done here, is to build my new china cabinets and listen to the sequel to the book I listened to while painting.

Anyway, I appear to have digressed.  Those last few paragraphs were probably very dull reading.  The point I was trying to make was, while I am happy, I am getting a bit tired of always being on the job with the house reno stuff.  I want it done so I can just enjoy my new home in my free time.  Eventually I will get there.  And, I will probably be pleased as punch and foist before and after photos on you all.  You might not want to come back to my blog at that point….

Thanks so much to those of you who have always been such an amazing support network for me.  I don’t know if it has been because of the craziness of life, or what, but I just haven’t had the blogging muse despite missing you all.  It has been a tough decade, but I think I might be able to say I’ve finally made it through.  Even though I don’t write much anymore, I do think of you often and how honored I am to have had you as readers and friends.  Hope 2018 finds you all well and enjoying the best life has to offer.

Hugs,

Janie Jones, homeowner

 

January 14, 2016

A whole pile of cutie

by Janie Jones

Leif’s dog, Vera, had puppies yesterday/this morning:

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So far there are nine puppies.

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The proud mum at dinner time.

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Oy! Dog-grampy! That’s a bright light!

 

Vera appears to be doing well and the puppies so far seem to be hale and hearty, mewling loudly when hungry and all latching on to eat.

Hope that starts your day with an “Awwwww!”

January 10, 2016

Ottoman Upholstery

by Janie Jones

I actually enjoy giving old stuff a face lift and making it beautiful again.  While I don’t like being called a dumpster diver, some of my favorite furniture pieces were things people were going to throw away just because they had a rip in the fabric or were outdated.

About eight years ago I inherited an ottoman that some people were going to throw away.  It was covered in a beige vinyl faux-leather and had been in a flood so it was discolored and moldy.  But it was sturdy so I peeled off the vinyl and underneath it looked like brand new wood with nary a hint of decay or warping.  I put on new batting, a pillow top and some new beige fabric with a pretty burgundy and gold braided trim.  I even hammered in some decorative upholstery tacks.  It was lovely.  For about two days.  Then the spud, aged 3 and a half, scribbled on it in black magic marker.  I got some of it out.  Then she pulled off the braided trim.  Then I cried, put it in the basement and figured some day I would try again.

When I moved to the Big City in the fall of 2014, I brought it with me to use in my room in town.  But it was ugly.  Last year after Christmas I splurged and bought some new blue velvet foot stools and the ugly ottoman was relegated to the living room with all the ugly, beat up, old furniture left by the owners for common use.  However, I have been meaning ever since I moved to town to fix it up.  First I thought I’d just buy a slip cover.  But they seemed ridiculously expensive, and none were appealing.  So this winter break I determined to reupholster it.  Yesterday, armed with a 40% off coupon I went to the fabric store and found a lovely caramel-color wide wale chenille corduroy fabric.  I got enough to cover the whole ottoman for less than $6 (slip covers tend to run for at least $30, by the way), paid about $3 for a box of staples, and reused the batting, pillow topper, and some of the decorative upholstery tacks from before.  In about an hour the ottoman was transformed.  A decorative throw from Ecuador (a gift from a friend) on top makes it look amazing.

Ottoman Before

The sad, pathetic ottoman destroyed by the Spud.

Ottman After 4

Pay no attention to the ugly sofas in the back ground. …

 

Ottman After 5

Ooohh. Aahhhh. What a lovely ottoman you have, Janie.

And, to think:  Someone was going to throw this ottoman away, when all it took was a little thrifty shopping, an hour or so of time and less than $10 total for supplies to make it beautiful.  Some people….

December 25, 2015

Dogs like Christmas, Dog-Mom.

by Janie Jones

Are those small brown packages dog presents?  Oooh, I bet they are!

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I smell dog bones….