There was no back wall demolition this weekend, only a text from our contractor confirming that the door and transom are officially on back order – which is especially confusing, because wasn’t that the case last week and the week before then? We have a lot of questions, like, how does a standard size in the most popular model become a back order? I’m glossing over this quite a bit, but, just, UGH.
We could dwell (we’ve been dwelling), but for the sake of positivity and moving forward – always a good thing! – let’s just skip ahead. Let’s talk about the workshop!
The workshop is the DIY heart of this home, and it is a mess. A mess!
When we first bought our home and shared how everything in our home connects, there was a time when we weren’t sure what this room would be. Maybe we it would become part of the kitchen? Maybe it would be a huge pantry? It’s obvious that didn’t happen, but what has made the most sense for us over these last couple of years is utilizing the space as an indoor garage – a workshop of sorts.
It’s no secret that Chicago winters are notoriously cold, and as our garden/basement unit is now a rental, we needed this storage for non-freeze supplies such as paints, glues and caulks. At the same time, a rotating to-do of home projects had us wishing for a dedicated space to get fussed up, a space where, in the midst of January, we can have everything at our fingertips to complete a project without pulling on our coat (and hat and gloves and boots).
The walls were navy blue upon move in, and slowly, we’ve been wading through our mess to spackle here and there – because, why not? The blue tape was never stripped from the ceiling by the previous owners, and add that to our pocket door installation, we had a lot of repair work on our hands.
Despite its title of a workshop, we still want it to be a room that we love. We will, after all, spend a lot of time in here – whether it’s picking out sandpaper or making cuts on the miter saw. I’ve been holding up paint swatches for the last few weeks, asking Scott his thoughts on this versus that, and we’ve finally landed on a really pretty gray-green-blue, Stratton Blue, by Ben Moore.
We’ve only painted test patches around the room, because first, we have to prep! After emptying the space (all of our stuff is living in the garage and guest room for now), Scott and I spent the weekend finishing up the drywall mudding, sanding (and sanding and sanding) and pulling up the previous baseboards. We installed and continued our 6.5″ baseboards throughout this room, giving it the same attention we would as the main areas of our home. The window got its very own sill, and the ceiling received coat after coat of fresh paint, too.
The workshop goals are to have a place for everything and everything in its place, with the garage being the home for oversized tools, outdoor equipment and much larger project-ing. We see it as the space where we make quick cuts and lay out smaller painting projects, a space where we can access the sandpaper and wood glue without sacrificing kitchen drawers. It’s a smaller room – coming in at 6′ wide by 10′ long – but its pint size build is truly like a little gem, tucked away.
The prep is often times (okay, all the times) the most tedious and least fun, but what a difference it makes! I still need to caulk and spackle the trim, but the groundwork has been laid. When you walk in and turn right, you’ll see our flea-find work bench. We imagine a long shelf above the table and art above that (because, pretty!), with ample room to spread out and, you know, tinker:
To the left, we’ll have wall to wall, floor to ceiling shelving! The shelves will be loaded up with large and small bins, with everything contained, wrangled and beautifully, gorgeously in order:
It will be a simple room, but a room that I think will quickly become a favorite. I’ve been dreaming of the day I can walk in and find the wood glue without cursing, and because the kitchen sludge is in full effect, we just might get there sooner than I would’ve thought.
There’s always a bright side.
We’re still in the kitchen sludge. It’s just… well, there’s no other way to describe it. We’re at a point where we can’t move too far forward as we wait on the back-door-debacle, and we feel stuck, at a standstill. I want to roll out the rug so badly, but, um, we’re still not done with kitchen demolition! The wall-of-windows was and is half of the plans, and so, we wait. More on that in a minute.
But! Let’s talk about progress and real life. Let’s talk about trim! Trim ALL weekend! Although we’re unable to install baseboards along the back wall (I’m a broken record, sorry), we didn’t want that to hold us up on the rest of the room. While it’s such a seemingly small task (HA!), a few feet of trim – that finishing touch that changes everything – is really a two day job. In our case, here’s how that breaks down:
- DAY ONE. Measuring // purchasing // painting (while uninstalled)
- DAY TWO. Cutting // nailing // spackling // caulking // touch-up painting the trim // touch-up painting the walls
To be fair, this wasn’t a cut-and-dry baseboard job. We were put to the test in several instances, starting with that hole in the floor from the gas line we removed:
Scott removed two floorboards and used extra flooring (leftover from this) to properly patch the hole, and we were sort of able to keep the transition of baseboards seamless. We still need to put a floor reducer where the kitchen floor meets the dining room, but below, you can see that the trim under the cabinets is different – and much shorter – than that on the right.
Rather than our usual 6.5″ baseboards we have throughout the house, we needed something that would fit under the cabinetry. We chose a 4″ baseboard that had a similar look, and it was notched from the dining room to the kitchen to allow the height to match up at the corner. This is something that could have played out a couple ways. On one hand, we could have requested that the cabinetry be shifted to the left, allowing the depth of our usual 6.5″ baseboard to fit. On the other hand, what we did works, and for such a small area, we’re happy with it.
Our furnace was replaced not too long before we moved in, and of course we wish its resting place wasn’t in the corner of the kitchen at all. Challenges aside, we needed to use louvered doors to act as a vent, but we ditched the old for new, and we purchased solid wood this time around. You can see that I attempted to paint it by hand at first, then realizing how much of a time suck that was, I ultimately used our paint sprayer to get a perfect even coat:
The furnace opening is really close to the wall, so Scott ripped down the trim along the left side, including nipping the corner across the top. Also not ideal, but not that noticeable either, especially as we chose such a light wall color. We hadn’t realized how much that bare, half painted wood was dampening the overall mood of the space, but whew. White paint and trim helps – a lot! We shouldn’t be so surprised after our many Adventures In Trim, and yet, every time we’re all whaaat?
But then there’s still this: THE BACK WALL. Oh, this wall! As far as we’ve come, we can’t help but curse this ugly wall, in all its ugly glory. Behold, our primer-white door and drafty, dirty window!
Every part of our being wants to finish this room and move on to the next (work shop, we’re looking at you!), but if all goes well, we should have a new door this weekend. Maybe. We honestly don’t know. For fun, let’s do another breakdown!
- We had a glass paneled door that we wanted to use. The week before Christmas, we gave our contractor the green light to order the transom window and two sidelights as planned.
- The hope was to receive the window order by end of January, but as luck would have it, our windows became back ordered.
- They came in several weeks past due (mid-end of February), and our contractor came to our house to pick up the door we already had. His plan was to then go back to this shop, build the proper frame, and return to install everything in a few days.
- When he arrived for the pick up, however, he asked us what side did we want the sidelight to go on? To which I nervously laughed and said, um, both? This is when we realized that only one sidelight was ordered, and as a result, the transom window above was also made too short.
- It was so infuriating, that it actually became funny. Like, seriously, we all had a good laugh. (Renovation will make you delirious.)
- Sidenote: I’m putting this laughable moment lightly, but what was done was done. We felt like we were in the pinnacle moment of the story arc in a HGTV show.
- BUT! The thing is, despite our anger(?, confusion?), we think it was meant to happen. Hear me out. With all the bones in place in the kitchen, we realized that we didn’t necessarily want a swinging door anymore. In the summer, what if we wanted to keep the door open? Would it swing to the left or the right? Towards the inside or outside? Upon further discussion with our contractor, we talked about the possibility of a french door style sliding patio door, complete with a transom above. In this scenario, we’d actually have more natural light on that back wall.
- He ordered the parts with his distributor the next day, with the goal of a 3-week turnaround.
- Then, that fell into back order, too. This is the part where I’d like to say April Fools! (Not the case.)
- And, scene.
All of our fingers and paws are crossed that we’ll have good news by the weekend! In the meantime, we have started choosing paint colors for the adjoining work shop, and we’ve begun measuring for shelving. My dreams of organized sandpaper-by-grit and caulk-by-silicone-vs-latex and a-place-for-everything and everything-in-its-place will come true – eventually.
We’re (kind of) getting there!
As we wait for the final steps in our kitchen (ahem, the whole back door thing), we poured a little effort into the living room this past weekend! FOUR small changes, but kind of big, too.
ONE. I mentioned that when we chose the wall color for our kitchen, our goal was to eventually paint the adjacent main dining and living space the same, Intense White by Ben Moore. It’s not that we didn’t like the current color – Pensive Sky, Behr – but, well… okay, no, I simply despised it.
At first, we did like it! We loved it! It was a far leap from the orange walls and patchy drywall, and it felt so refreshing to have at least one room in the house that was one, clean color. But as months went by and we slowly began layering in our furniture, it felt too cold, too modern. Our home’s first floor receives very cool light to begin with, and it only highlighted the blue undertones in our paint choice. It was to the point that the blue-ish gray on the walls was making me angry (hi, I’m crazy), and when I finally admitted to Scott that I can’t take these blue walls any longer!, he agreed that if we could find a color that worked for both the kitchen and living areas, we could just knock it out.
And so, we did what any sane couple would do, and we repainted the living room a shade so similar on paper, yet so different once complete! Below, you can see how blue the Pensive Sky was in comparison to Intense White – a super (super) soft warm gray that still contrasts against our trim work but feels so bright and welcoming at the same time. We had it color matched to Valspar Optimus in a dog-friendly eggshell finish.
Yes, it was absolutely a pain to admit our mistake and disassemble the entire room to get it right, but it just feels so. Much. Better. The warmth in the paint feels right for this house, and although it took a couple of tries, it was 100% worth the effort.
TWO. Since we knew we were going to be stirring up that big room, we finally hunkered down on another tough decision and purchased a dining room rug! To balance the intense color of our couch, we were in search of something that had a natural look (think: jute or sisal), but preferably less taupe and more gray. Could it also be square? And, if possible, cat friendly?
We found the winner at a place called Sisal Rugs Direct, and after ordering a handful of samples, we landed on this style in Belize Pewter. It’s a four-season rug that can be hosed down should we ever need to go to that extreme, but the best part is that it’s polypropylene (with a real sisal look), meaning, the cats don’t care.
Upon ordering, I realized that we had the power to make the size completely custom, and so we opted for a very specific 6.5′ x 7′. (A little blue tape around the dining table nudged us in the right direction.) This would allow us to pull the dining chairs out fully without tripping over the carpet edge and still allow a proper walkway through the main areas of our home. Now, the dining area is no longer a sea of wood! A subtle addition, but room-changing.
THREE. In other (riveting!) room-changing news, we finally replaced our placeholder end table with one that we love! After our kitchen counters were installed, we had a slab remnant from the same quartzite cut to a 2′ circle; the plan was to use it as a tabletop for an end table in the living room. What started as a Craigslist ( slash Krrb, slash Ebay, slash Chairish) search for a pedestal base turned into finding this adorable guy (below). It was a steal on Craigslist, and the photo online gave us the impression that the marble top was in terrible shape, hence the low price. But upon pick up, we found it to be so sweet and perfectly aged; a spritz of mild cleaner and a microfiber cloth buffed it up nicely. I did, however, scrub off a bit of rust to the base with steel wool, and I finished it with a coat of Clark+Kensington’s Nein! Nein! Nein! OK Fine – our favorite blue-black.
It’s tall enough to meet up with those high couch arms, similar to the table on the opposite side. It’s slightly smaller with a different, more petite base than our other table, and it’s a nice balance that doesn’t feel overly matched. The leftover quartzite will find a home eventually – maybe the bedroom? Or studio? Time will tell.
FOUR. Finally, for kicks (and since all our art had to come down to paint), we flip-flopped the placement of our dinos. Big stuff, you guys!
Since it’s been a while since we’ve tweaked anything in this room, I can’t help but to take a look back; it’s the most gratifying part of this house journey! Here we are, two paint colors, a rotating crew of dining room tables and two big, bold purchases (you know, plus months of tearing down to build back up) from where we started:
There are still a handful of things we want to do in here – we’re looking at roman shades for the dining room windows to add contrast to that wall, a large plant, and we’re on the hunt for a pair of sconces that don’t take themselves too seriously. With all the bones in place, we’re happy to allow those items to fall into place slowly; probably.
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