Office/Nursery Progress

We’ve got LESS than a month before we welcome this new little one into our world. There’s a TON we have left to do, not gonna lie. I’m working on sub plans for my maternity leave and generally trying to get a jump on things at work while juggling the usual tasks, trying to get ahead of any writing work I’d like to accomplish pre-baby, and, well, generally getting ready for the baby — name picking, analyzing what we may still need, etc.

But, one area that we’re trying the “slow and steady wins the race” motto out is our office/nursery; our “offisery,” if you will. It doesn’t need to be done immediately since the baby will be in our room with us for the first month or two (or more), but we realize that we won’t have the time to do it after the little one arrives. Plus, ticking things off of our “to do” list is always enjoyable.

So, most nights, we’ve been doing something *small* in the space. We started with a buttload of books, which we packed up except for the ones we always like to have available. (I’m talking about YOU, two copies of “Little Women”…you!) So, after finally emptying an entire 6-foot-tall bookshelf, we dragged that sucker down to the basement. Let’s call it additional storage, although we all know the cats prefer the term “jungle gym.”

Then, after vacuuming up a lifetime’s worth of dust, it was time to assemble our version of a changing table. As you may (or may not) remember, we repainted a free dresser to use for Hadman’s changing area when he was a baby. This time, we’re using one of the more heavy duty “cube storage” units from Target. It’s definitely thicker than the usual flimsy ones, so I feel more comfortable using this to support the little one. We also grabbed some feet to attach in case the height wouldn’t work and, of course, a few of the nicer cube boxes to up the fanciness quotient. If cube storage could be called “fancy.”

So, what’s left? Well, we already moved my desk out and the crib in, tossed down a big, fluffy, natural wool rug that I got from Rugs USA (seriously, cheapest high-quality rugs ever), and purged/boxed up tons of stuff we don’t need access to. Here’s where we’re left:

– Obviously, um, declutter more. Lots of random pieces hanging around. And an extra chair. We’re still discussing the fate of the cat tree (yes, that ratty, scratched-up thing that my husband seems as attached to as any of the cats) and whether or not he can foresake the ugly office chair for a comfy, fits-an-office-AND-nursery-decor alternative. And, yes, we’ll be saying “see you in the next house!” to much of the comic art on the walls, which Dave’s been super good about. I just want to leave him with SOMETHING of his own…that doesn’t involve violent crime-fighting. Because, y’know, babies.

– Switch out some new wall art (which will involve some touch-up painting, ugh). I’m thinking of grabbing some canvases and a gold paint pen to do some DIY art, and I already picked up a bunch of swatches that I’ve ironed and chopped into fabric tassels for a wall hanging. But, yeah. Art.

– Floating shelves to the rescue. This is one of those “if we have the time/energy” things, but the floating shelves in Hadley’s room and our bathroom (seriously, how have I never showed you guys a final reveal for that space?!) are amazing, so we may do something similar above the changing area in this room. Plus, it’ll give us some more options for combining decor styles and a little extra storage. But, again, it’s not a “must-have” right now.

– Bring in the baby stuff! (sing to the Muppet Show theme song) “It’s time to strip the diapers, it’s time to clean the clothes!” So, I’ll be utilizing under-crib storage, which I’m in love with, for the “next sizes”, but otherwise keeping the newborn and 0-3 stuff at-hand as best as possible.

What do you guys think? I know we’re fighting an uphill battle with the color, ugly as heck rug, and, well, general officity (can that be a word? It should be) of it all, but this is FAR better than we were even a month ago. 🙂

Reupholstering Life

While I’ve only reupholstered one piece of furniture in my life, there’s something strangely therapeutic in it. I’m cleaaaaarly no expert – I mean, I’ve got a sewing machine but have yet to figure out what the heck I’ve done to jam it up and render it practically useless. (Note to self: Call Mom about that.) But, if it’s a simple enough project, it can be fun and, while time consuming, a good way to keep one’s hands busy…especially with a good movie on to watch while doing it.

The first chair that I did was a cheapy from Salvation Army. I purchased it while we were waiting for our current house to close, so I NEEDED a low-cost project to busy myself with. The lines were great; the original fabric…whoa. It was the texture of a shower curtain liner. Not a shower curtain. The liner. No exaggeration. Great for those with incontinence issues.

Anyhoo, the actual tearing out of the original fabric and staples took awhile…as did the final upholstery job. But, what I ended up with was a cute, satin-esque, “vintage”-looking chair. The chair is on the right side of this awesome professional pic of Dave and I (taken by our wedding photog, Sarah Beck). Can’t see it great, but the whiteness worked unexpectedly well when we bought our black and white floor. I always wanted a couch in the kitchen, just like mentioned in old stories like Little Women, so in a small-ish space, an upholstered armchair works just fine!

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This chair, due to unforeseen circumstances that I will discuss when I’m good ‘n ready and not a minute sooner (sob, sob), will be reupholstered yet again this summer. Besides, satin (although it was inexpensive – clearly not the “real stuff”) isn’t the most practical of fabrics for a kitchen, right?

To dip my toe back into the reupholstering pool, I recently re-carpeted our kitty scratching post. Seriously! The original one was $14 or so, and the carpet piece that I found was $1.99 – and will be used twice, with some leftover. Hey, when you find something that both the little guys will adhere to, you don’t want to move their cheese too much. New carpeting was just the trick. Here’s the play-by-play:

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Beardslee, getting an A+ in demonstrating the finer points of scratching a post.

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 …and suddenly being struck by the debilitating shyness that so frequently consumes him.

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Winston, growing suspicious of why I might be taking pictures of the scratching post.
Smart lil’ guy.

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 It was wrecked.

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The tools. Carpet. Scissors. Pliers. Staple “gun” (not really a gun…probably the wrong term). Safety blade I ended up using to get most of the original carpeting off.

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Luckily, the carpet was quite cheap and the thick backing came off easily.

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Cutting the rug…exciting stuff.

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 The empty “post”. ie Very thick cardboard.

A few minutes of stapling, and here’s the finished product. Proud to say the boys haven’t torn out any staples yet!

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No matter how hard they may try…

So, as a little project (can be called a summer project…or not, since I may get at least one finished before the summer), I’ve picked up several pieces to reupholster. One, an ottoman I’ve been DYING to use in the living room, I got for around $20 at a tag sale sort of place. The other two items, an armchair (with only the seat to reupholster – it’s still in the car, so no pics of that available currently) and a bench, I got for just under $13 TOTAL at Salvation Army. After shelling out around $50 on new batting and fabric (still need to get some paint, but I’ll have to match it), you can average each piece to costing just shy of $28. Not too shabby – although I’m sure I’ll show favoritism to the cheapest pieces. No lie.

Here’s where the decision-making lies… I’m going to ponder over the choices and will let you know, or, if I have a really hard time deciding, I’ll show you way better pictures (including that pesky armchair and a broader shot of the now-green ottoman) and take your advice! As it is, here’s a sneak preview:

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The fabric I’m deciding between for the chair and ottoman…

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The boys christening their new toys. “You got deef for uf, right??” Actually, that’s partly true.
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Boo pondering my third fabric choice. This one, I KNOW I’m going to use on the bench he has so ceremoniously dubbed his throne. He’d better like it!

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Yeah, that throne. In rough shape, but lots of potential.
(The bench, not Beardslee! He’s doing just fine…well, except for his allergies and ear issues…)

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You can at least see a side-by-side comparison of each fabric on the ottoman. Anything’s better than the green! I’ll gladly take suggestions now, but without getting into the color schemes in each room (clearly, I’ve got a brown thing goin’ on), it’s hard to get TOO into it.

IKEA…Where are you?

Office/Nursery Progress - image ikea-logo on https://megactsout.comConfession time. I’m, by nature, a slightly jealous person. Not in every occasion, mind you. Or even many. Just…once in awhile. I try to be happy when others have stuff that I don’t, but I’m simply not perfect, and this is one of my personality flaws. It’s not over cars or flat screen TVs or boys (got mine! No need for that drama). One thing that I’m pretty gosh darn envious about is simple: IKEA. *sigh*

I read some fabulous DIY/design blogs and inspiring magazines. But, I get hung up when they mention what, to me, seems an exclusive club – the “Close to IKEA Club.” Heck, I may be overreacting. It might be like wanting a Walmart to come to town SOOOO BAAAAAAAAADLY…and then, when it does, you come to hate it as much as dolphin killers and anyone with the letters “C.E.O.” in their job title. Please, friends who live near the coveted IKEA, do tell! Is it the land of milk and honey? Or, in my world, organic pop tarts and agave nectar?? (Sweet tooth much? Seriously, the pop tarts sound like a good idea…ermmmm, nope. Nasty.)

There’s so much to yearn for from IKEA. First of all, modern sleek styling. I’d love to incorporate, say, 20% more of this into our house. If you’d look at our style right now, you’d probably say it was traditional eclectic with some early Americana and Art Deco thrown in…aaaaaand we hear a whisper of the contemporary in the background. Not sure this is what I’d like our house to say about us. We’re all of these things, yes. But, how much of these things define us? If we didn’t live (and I mean truly LIVE; not idly cruise) in a modern era, we couldn’t embrace the historical as we do. So, yeah. A kick in the pants of modernity never hurt anyone. Gotta love the Swedes. (Although, we are trying to go for a wabi-sabi approach here, too, as you recall. Baby steps.)

Secondly, STORAGE?! Holy crap, would I have an entire wall dedicated to IKEA bookcases in the office, and the kitchen cabinets that have seen better days? Yeah, they’d come from IKEA. And all their other unique solutions for utilizing space functionally? Sign me up.

It’s time for Confession #2. I’m not a catalog person, and cringe when I get one occasionally. I’d rather buy from your online catalog, without needlessly killing trees, thankyouverymuch. But, I broke this rule. Remember when IKEA started their ads informing of their catalog? The envy struck again. So, of course, I ordered it. Normally, catalogs just come and are unwanted and get recycled. This is on my coffee table as “bored reading.” It’s not even technically READING material! Why the heck did I order a catalog full of stuff that I can’t order (because you can only obtain it at the stores)?? ‘Cuz I can dream, can’t I?!?! Just kidding. Fake drama queen moment. It’s over, I promise.

Anyhoo, I thought it might be fun to do as I’ve seen on Bower Power and create a wishlist. Y’know. For when, on our way into the city, we actually are able to stop and waste half a day perusing the Paramus, NJ IKEA. Someday. 😉

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(Sorry so small. Took quite awhile to finally get it THAT size!) So, glancing at most of it, you must think “Wow, Meg. Not much color in your house, eh?” Aha! To the contrary. We’ve definitely got color. What we don’t have are substantial neutral pieces that help create a sense of calm and modernity. See? Still sticking with the wabi-sabi theme here. That’s also another reason that you see that I need more chairs in almost every room.

And, while we’re at it, I should say that I’m tres envious of those of you with a Trader Joe’s nearby, too! My dear friend Beth was sweet and thoughtful enough to give us a huge basket full of healthy snacks and goodies (my organic pop-tarts! And Spaghettios…although they were pretty nasty, admittedly) for our wedding. We brought along most of the snacks along to our honeymoon, along with several wedding cupcakes. I’d just love the opportunity to be closer to organic and all-natural options at a generally cheaper cost. *sigh, pine* (Okay, the drama queen thing wasn’t over.) Enjoy it if ya got it!

* I started writing this blog entry awhile ago – in January, 2011, to be exact. I figured I’d finish and post this one FINALLY because one of my dreams has come true: IKEA will deliver butcher board countertops. Of course, the ones I want are out of stock…but isn’t there light at the end of the fantasy tunnel??

** I happened upon this IKEA ad while doing some searching for this post. It amused me. Perhaps it will amuse you, as well. 🙂 (You’re lucky I didn’t share the one in which a store is filled with cats. Didn’t want to be “that person.”)

Oh, and all pictures used are from Props.

Just Gotta Share…

I should be getting showered, visiting my parents and mentally prepping for the second night of our show…but Dave’s been inspired to put together a $16 clearance bookshelf for our office. So, while I give him the occasional hand putting together the pressboard-can’t-believe-how-cheap-o-it-is-but-will-serve-its-purpose-for-now monstrosity, I thought I’d share with you guys an inspiration for our FUTURE office.

This space has given us many a headache. We’ve currently got one 5-shelf bookshelf, 3 very random desks (which Dave likes because they’re “ecclectic” — I’ve come to dislike all of them, but agree that we need to keep the good-quality rustic one for any future children), and a mess. The room is also awkwardly-shaped, with one wall being half of a slanted ceiling (sharing the roofline) and the other side giving us a strange angled…conundrum. Just…weird. We’ve splattered the walls with tons of mismatched art (from newspaper articles Dave wrote to cartoon films to my Philadelphia Story poster), but it just doesn’t feel like anything more than a mismatch.

So, after lots of thought, we’re still not positive what to do with it. We hardly use the space because it just doesn’t work for our needs. But, I’ve got some ideas…once again, thanks to my favorite blog, Young House Love.

They do a house crashing series, showing some truly inspirational homes and spaces to drool over, and the fact that this one wasn’t the largest of houses helps our situation. Here’s the link for their “House Crashing: Stunning In Sydney” post, but I’ll be sharing a couple of pictures that I think will help us in our office organizing journey. (Giving props now: I don’t own these, they’re from YHL! Hoping they don’t mind.)

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This picture shows a very simple office. Doesn’t seem like much, but I’m in love with it. I’m actually thinking of making a wall-length desk using another method shown on YHL (utilizing inexpensive doors…yup), but their use of sawhorses is awesome. However, what I’m really grooving on in this shot is the above storage. To accompany the wall-length desk idea, I’m thinking that wall-length shelving (using all the vertical space available — which, honestly, isn’t THAT much thanks to the pitched ceiling) would give us tons more storage and decorating options; very clean, very useful…and I want to figure out an inexpensive way to do it.
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Another possibility for added storage is through the use of even more shelving, but in a different format. See, we really do own a lot of frickin’ books…and other (pardon) crap. If this shelving can keep kiddie stuff in order, just think what it can do for us grown-ups! (Although, admittedly, we’ve got so much random paraphernalia, it might not look too different from what you’re seeing.)

So, there are just a couple of ideas that will hopefully help to transform our third bedroom’s “boring, cluttered office” status to a “more modern, clean, actually-wanna-spend-time-there” place. Oh, and I KNOW there’s some hardwood hiding under this carpet (which may not even HAVE to be refinished — the other two bedrooms are livable with the hardwood that we uncovered), so that’ll add a completely different dimension, too.

Sometimes Green Isn’t Good – Inexpensive Cellarway Revamp (Long Overdue)

Last summer (yes, I realize there’s snow on the ground), I started a project in my cellarway. It started out deep forest green – nearly EVERYthing. Throw in filthy old linoleum and a cheesy little wooden rack with apples on it that couldn’t have supported the weight of my everyday keys and it just seemed like a huge joke of a space. It was dark and cave-like, and with what we’re hoping to do this winter in the basement, it seemed like a horrible first impression to the rest of the cellar. Here’s the proof:

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Cubby of Horror

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Had to get rid of these puppies. Just too out-dated, and an inexpensive fix.
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A Shot Looking Down the Stairway. Yuck.
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The carpeting that was on the stairs prior – including Scotch tape “X” (?!)
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Sexy brass light…had to go!

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After removing everything, including the carpeting.
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Disgusting Stairs…
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No. Words.
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What we had in mind…
(Not the ottoman, though. That’s found a permanent home in the living room.)

With little to spend on the project, I was at first apprehensive to consider the use of stick-on linoleum tiles. But, over 5 months later, they’re holding strong and clean up in a breeze — and can be replaced easily, if need be. (No need for that yet.) We also added the VERY FIRST PURCHASE I ever made for the house (seriously, we hadn’t closed and I bought them at Bargain Outlet while sitting on pins ‘n needles) — carpet treads which, it’s hard to tell here, are actually tones of brown, beige, and gray.

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We also invested in the following changes: white semi-gloss for trim and previously unfinished wood shelving and railing (still considering whether the wood door should be painted — the design is so classic, I’m a little scared – but what better place to try it than the basement, right?), a creamy tan to brighten the walls and ceiling, a white shelf with accompanying brushed nickel scroll supports, modern-print storage baskets, silver edging for the stairs and…and, just check out the pictures. 😉

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It may still be a little messy, but it’s all
bright white! It helps.

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Hmm. To paint (the door and its woodwork)
or not to paint…THAT is the question.
(Oh, and that big rolled-up rug is for our
eventual hang-out space in the basement.)
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New beige and crisp white paint, a brushed nickel
sconce (to replace the old, outdated brass one fixture),
and a close-up of the brushed-nickel/espresso wood
hanging system.
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Sorry so blurry. Got a couple of storage bins
and a new white shelf with brushed nickel fixtures, now
hiding some random box that was built into the wall
(and is completely unusable, as far as I know).

Like I said, I’m still considering painting the door, but since we’ll be doing plenty of exterior painting when the thaw comes, I figured on finishing that at the same time (if I can work up the guts). The other side of the door needs a painting, as does the threshold (which is still dark green…ick!). The stairs continuing down cellar need their old, dirty carpet treads pulled up, then a good scrubbing and painting, then new treads. Oh, and I’d like to put backs on the stairs if possible since I’d like for Beardslee and Winston to be able to wander and possibly do their bid-niss down there, and they both have a tendency to want to jump through the openings — ack, not safe! (I know; they’re cats, they jump.) Then, it’s the REST of the cleaning, shelf-building, bathrooming, painting, etc etc etc of the basement. Lots to do and can’t WAIT until it’s usable!!!

Oh, and, BTW – we’re pretty cheap. Or, at least, we’re TRYING to be pretty cheap…without putting “crap” into our house. There are times to spend, and this wasn’t really one of them. So, all-in-all, we felt better spending a little bit of money because we knew that, well, a) it would help modernize the house a bit and, hopefully, help with resale value and b) we had some gift cards from our wedding shower that were burning a hole in our pocket — and rather than blow them all on one thing, we’d spend, say, $20 TOWARDS an entire project, making us feel like we got 50% off an item (don’t you love huge sales?! We made sales on our own!) and better that we were left with now gift cards left. The rundown was approximately the following:

– rug treads ~ $4 (yeah, really)
– shelf & scroll holders ~ $22
– storage baskets ~ $17
– paint ~ $12 (already had the white)
– flooring tiles ~ $12 (seriously)
– hook board ~ $21
– sconce ~ $14
(and everything else was elbow grease or something we already had)

So, the total was around $102. But, considering we took about (honestly, possibly MORE than) 50% off of this total, we paid around $51 for our cellarway makeover. Honestly, when we first stepped into the house, this was the entrance that the realtor took us through, so it meant a lot that I could change it and, hopefully, make anyone else’s first impression with the place a lot more cheerful. Here’s hoping your impressions of it are happy ones.

Basement Inspiration

So, I need to make a confession. I LOVE LOVE LOOOOVE Polyvore. It may not be a perfect program, but it’s fun, free and helps me to make mood boards that I can actually utilize when looking for projects around the house. I can’t redecorate in one fell swoop (Reasons? #1: money, #2: time. Duh. ;-)) but this gives me inspiration, and the time lapse gives me flexibility. If I find something on the cheap at TJ Maxx or the Christmas Tree Shop out and about that comes close to what I’ve created, well great! I prefer it that way! Plus, I get to be a little creative, so it’s win-win.

For those of you who don’t know, I’m a HUGE fan of Young House Love, which is a blog about design and home improvement, among other things. They’re one of the main reasons I thought to start a blog, myself. So, I think I’ll take a mini-vacation from my usual posts and share with you my latest mood board — for our basement, which we’re working on cleaning out and, throughout the summer, waterproofing, painting, and organizing (yet again). We’ve got some additional projects in mind, like adding a 1/2-full bath and creating unified storage areas, but we’re not sure if those will all happen this summer…remember, we’re also planning a wedding. 😉

So, with no further ado…

Office/Nursery Progress - image  on https://megactsout.comThere are actually three spaces listed: the Living Space, the Laundry Area, and the Possible Bath. These areas are separate; there will be unfinished basement space separating them (it’s a pretty good-sized basement). Since I know we’ll be using a tan paint (either colored Drylok or a paint over the Drylok-ed areas) on most of the foundation walls , I wanted to come up with color schemes that would work with it. Here are some of my ideas:

The Living Space:
-See that curtain on the upper left? I’m thinking of using outdoor curtains on one of the walls to add textural interest and a little bit of insulation. I did research and got the inspiration from this pOffice/Nursery Progress - image img_softerlaundry_3 on https://megactsout.comicture; somehow I always feel like I can do something after I’ve heard that others have done it and didn’t have issues. Needless to say, I’m pretty nervous about decorating in a basement — I’ve seen floods and all the damage they can do, but our house is so small we HAVE to make it usable space.
– The color scheme I chose for this room includes beiges and tans as well as greens, turquoise and darker brown. This room will be the most finished (probably including flooring, which may or may not be a chocolately faux wood laminate). When we eventually invest in a new living room set, we’ll be putting our coffee table, couch and chair in this space — so it’ll have lots goin’ on. We already have an extra entertainment center (along with TV — moving 2 apartments into one house does that to ya) for the space, too.

The Laundry Area:
– The black-and-white flooring is actually leftover from our kitchen flooring project last year. If we have enough to make it look good, it’ll also be in the bathroom. So, as with our kitchen, I LOVE a light turquoise (almost Tiffany’s blue) accent, so I’d like to paint out the cement walls in this area bright blue. To tie in with the living room, some pops of lime green will help modernize the space, too. (Baskets, waste basket…any other items I can pick up.)
– To continue the curtain theme, I’m planning on running an industrial steel wire line from the two outside walls of the space and hang grommeted curtains so that we can close off the space or create an “entryway” (a bit of a continued inspiration from the picture).
– Yeah. We don’t have a HE front loading washer/dryer yet…we’re keeping an eye out for sales and “out of box” choices. We’re lucky enough to have a F-R-E-E set right now, but our eventual goal is all-new appliances, upstairs and down. *crosses fingers*

The Bathroom
– As I mentioned, the floor will be checkered. If it’s a half bath, it’ll just have the sink and potty (yes, I call it a potty), so the turquoise towels would be pretty irrelevant. Keeping the whole space a bright tan; crisp, clean white; and sharply contrasting black (check out that fluffy black throw rug! I bought one for my mom’s updated bathroom and she loves it) would be enough. Throwing in a pop of turquoise would be easier with the shower, if it happens. I’m fine if it doesn’t; just having an extra place to *ahem* use would be awesome, especially when kids, one day, will be using the basement to play and have sleepovers.

So, as things get underway, I’ll be updating with photos of the progress. As with most things, I assume this will probably take longer than we expect it to — most projects have been broken up into parts, each of which will make its own timeline. Plus, with a cat who loooooves to look around the basement area (especially when the rest of the house isn’t necessarily cool) and will do anything to be where we are, it should be pretty interesting. 🙂