Today, Scott and I are celebrating our 5 year wedding anniversary – and 10 years of being together. The best years of my life.
It’s always fun to look back one year – two years, five years, ten years – and remember where we were then: The start of our should we move? debate, living in our 675 sq ft condo, hopeful to expand our family with a puppy or sharing a six pack on the stoop of our college-day apartments. What’s even more exciting is looking forward, discussing our ideas of what’s to come, where we’ll travel next and wondering, what will our every day look like in the coming year? In twenty years? When we’re old and gray?
Living under construction the last couple of months has been more challenging than any amount of daydreaming could’ve realized (mentally, physically, the good, the bad and every in-between), and as a gift to each other, we’ll be unplugging for one week. Pausing, recharging. Spending time together, allowing ourselves to breathe and rest and – maybe most of all – just be present. (I can’t say, think or type those words without thanking our friend, Jess.)
The contractors are thisclose to tying up every loose end, and once their last tool is loaded back into their big white van, we’ll be in the best place possible (so to speak) to hit the ground running. In the meantime, if you’ve been fighting the urge to take a little time for yourself, we encourage you to seize the day (a day of rest!) for yourselves, and we’ll be back soon – as they say, with bells on! This house has no idea what’s coming.
PS… Both the Print + Pet Shops will be open and accepting orders as usual, but please allow an extra 3-5 business days for orders to ship. If you’ve missed the boat on custom pet portraiture this holiday season, we still have 2014 Pre-Orders and Gift Certificates available! Visit the Shop to see which one is right for you.
PPS… Our wedding photos.
Last week, we didn’t have an update on the contractors progress – rather, we busied ourselves with projects that gave some instant gratification – but between then and now, a lot has changed. There were a handful of days where all work came to a grinding halt due to a prior job on their plates taking precedence (it was unexpected on our end, and I’ll admit that our hearts dropped knowing it was going to be that many more days tacked onto our completion date), and the drywall patching has taken a bit longer than even our head contractor, Mike, could have predicted.
But – did you catch that? Drywall!
Rooms and dividers and half-walls have all been patched back into place. Closets have back walls, arches have clean, smooth edges and – despite the horrid mess of tumbleweeds, mud and plastic sheeting all over our floors – we’re in the home stretch! Here’s where we last left off:
And now… ceilings! All is right again. After tearing them down to hoist the second floor back up, we finally (finally!) have a clean, smooth sheet of drywall over our heads – for the first time since July. While we visually lost a few inches in height, our main area feels larger, lighter and brighter than ever. There are no words to describe the happiness this brought into our home; not a one. Upon seeing it for the first time (once Scott came home from work and I walked downstairs), we were, literally, speechless.
The nook room opening has been smoothed out, and as we mentioned before, the new, larger doorway has allowed a whole new light source to shine into the living room. We’ve been discussing our plans for this room – we go back and forth constantly – but right now, we’re leaning towards the Music Room (in addition to the Kitty-Sun-Soaking-Room, naturally). Imagine this: built in record storage, a slide out drawer for our turntable and an ooshy, cushy chair under the window. Ooh, and definitely a rug that’ll feel like slippers.
So, about that arch. Remember, we had our doubts? (Despite our whole point of giving a nod towards the original architecture, we were still scared!) We’d walk back and forth, between the foyer and the living room. We’d literally tap our index finger on our chin – you know, very quizzical like – and go, hmmm. After it was roughly shaped in, we decided to stick with our initial instincts and run with it, and now? We can’t imagine not having it here.
Up the stairs, our knee wall supports have been hidden away by sheets of drywall, but not so high that it obstructs the view (and light!) from our hall window.
Looking towards the knee wall from the studio, you’ll see our soon-to-be storage room on the left (for paints, shipping supplies and – get this – a whole table to wrap packages on), and on the right, the second floor landing. Because we ripped up the carpet (well, there and up the entire stairway), we’ll eventually need to patch in the floor to match the rest of the hardwood. This area has seen quite a bit of action since move in day, don’t you think?
Now that all the drywall has been set in place, mudded and prepped for sanding, I’ve been sequestered to the front half of the studio. Because the majority of my time is spent painting your pets, we couldn’t risk having that fine dust settle into my work area, so after discussing options with Mike, we thought, well, hell! Let’s just Bubble Girl me. So far, so good. (I am used to small spaces, after all!)
And last but not least, the laundry room! With the drywall in place and all our hook-ups ready to go, it’s looking like we’ll be shopping for a washer and dryer sooner rather than later – although in reality, it’ll likely be a gently used set until we can save up for something shiny and new. But – laundry! A whole room!
Mike and his crew will start sanding this week, and after how far we’ve come – we’re nervous. The renovation dust has been unlike anything we’ve seen thus far, but from hearsay, we know this’ll take the cake. (I mean, right?) We’ve been waiting so impatiently for this day to come, and now that it’s here, we don’t know what to expect.
We’re excited. We’re anxious.
But most importantly, we’re counting down the days until we can walk – for the first time, ever – in our home without shoes.
Before we moved into this house, Scott and I had a very serious talk – the good kind of talk that makes us all giddy and raise our voices over each other; the louder the better. The topic? What new tools will we need? Because if anything makes Scott excited over a project, it’s power tools (but hey, me too!).
It wasn’t until after we moved in that our rose-colored-glasses came off and we realized, whoa, we have our work cut out for us. Yes, we could see the poor paint job at our inspection, and sure, we could smell the second floor from a block away (thank goodness that’s behind us now!) – but the excitement of all the home’s potential had us pushing those pesky, unwanted thoughts aside. And now, four months in, we’ve had so many ups and downs, it’d be impossible to recount them all. (Should we try? A lacking furnace, the city zoning battle, the unlevel floors, sagging ceiling and – oh yeah – we’ll be knocking back a pretty, shiny penny to resolve cracks in the foundation. But we can’t forget about the insane daylight, the large studio and our future laundry room!)
All that aside, we knew we’d eventually get to the point where we’d be able to take out the paint. We’d finally reach the top of that mountain (I mean, we’re still working our way up, up, up… but still), and we’d see the view from the top and we’d know: It’s only getting better from here. And over the weekend, we did just that. (You know, stood at the top of the mountain.) Because with the help of Ace Hardware, we were given a new tool that topped our list from those early summer discussions, and whoa. Lives have been changed. Enter the Wagner Power Painter Plus:
Never having used a paint sprayer before, we were both excited and – full disclosure – a little nervous. We shopped around for a few different models before deciding on the Painter Plus, but even still, our biggest fears were ease of use, over spray and – in our case – would this electric spray gun really do the job? (No lugging around air compressors with this guy!)
For our virgin run, we set up a floor-to-ceiling sheet of plastic in the garden unit and brought in a rotating crew of every bedroom, bathroom and closet door in that apartment. (We’re hopeful for a December 1st rental date, so the pressure is on.) After reading the straightforward instructions, we just went for it! In under 2 hours, we gave new life to six formerly beige, sticky doors – and that’s including the time it took us to read through every, single page in the manual. (Because remember? We were scared. And for nothing!)
By mid-project, Scott and I were fighting over whose turn it was (mine! It was mine!). As for those silly fears, the over spray was a non-issue since we had taken the time to prep our space, and yes, this electric gun really does the job.
Minds? Blown. Only one coat was needed for every door to have a flawless finish, and we’re thinking our next run (because we have, oh, about 10 more doors to go!) will take even less time now that we’ve gotten our manual reading out of the way.
The best part of our new found love is that we get to hand one off to you! Together with Ace, we’ll be giving away a Wagner Power Painter Plus* ($100+ value) to one lucky reader. Using the Rafflecopter widget below, enter as many ways as you’d like. Giveaway runs through Friday, November 8th at 5pm CST, and the winner will be announced within this post. Good luck and happy entering!
a Rafflecopter giveaway
We’ve partnered with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel. Ace has provided us with the Wagner Power Painter Plus to complete our project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. How we DIYed before this tool, we’ll never know.
*Find the right Wagner painter for you at your neighborhood Ace Hardware!
We’re excited to share one of our most recent projects for a couple reasons: ONE) puppies!, and TWO) we were recently invited by Ace Hardware to be a part of their Ace Blogger Panel - which has it’s perks for us and you.
In addition to our own house hustling, we’ll be sharing projects that will be made possible with the help of Ace, including new-to-us products, paint and our first attempt at building a dining table. Before Thanksgiving. (Because remember when we declared that Friendsgiving would be hosted at our house this year? The world’s largest fire has officially been lit.) While Ace is partnering with us (for which we’re over-the-moon thankful for), the good news for you is that we’ll be sharing a few goodies for a handful of readers, too.
Running to the hardware store (sometimes for the fourth time in a day; um, not that we’d know) can sometimes be overwhelming, but Ace wants to nip that attitude and make you feel as though you’re getting help from a neighbor. Which, if you’ve ever been to our local Ace, ask for Al (he’s awesome) – he has the philosophy down. So to kick off the whole neighborly vibe, we helped out our friend and foster-pup-momma Kiira by creating a custom DIY doggie gate. With 2 dogs of her own (you may remember her pet portraits of Monkey and Petey), she was in need of a solution to keep not only her pups within a watchful distance, but also her rotating crew of fosters.
Here’s what she had to say:
We used to have an adjustable baby gate to keep Monkey and Petey out of the kitchen when home alone. I painted it white to make it less ugly, but it was clumsy and it happened to scare the bejeezus out of Monkey (it had fallen—very loudly—too many times when not in use). I spent an afternoon constructing a ‘built-in’ dog gate at the entrance to our kitchen, and it really was the perfect solution. However, when we started fostering dogs, I found myself pulling out the old baby gate more and more to keep all of the dogs confined to an area where I could keep an eye on them. Monkey would automatically shut down at the sight of the thing, and so I resolved to get rid of it for good.
Kiira needed a new gate (in addition to the one at the entrance of her kitchen) to toss the baby gate once and for all, but naturally, the goal was to make it just as good looking as it was functional. After a weekend in our garage and with this as our inspiration, we created a solution that’s better suited for Kiira’s home (and easier on Monkey’s ears):
MATERIALS USED FOR A 32″ DOORWAY:
4 – 1″x2″x8′ (for the ribs)
1 – 1″x4″x6′ (for the top and base)
Pack of 1″ hinges
1″ brad nails
1″ drywall screws
Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover spray primer (flat white)
Rustoleum 2X Ultra Cover spray paint, satin (blossom white)
Brad nailer: We used the Arrow ET200
Compound miter saw (for making cuts)
Mini Kreg jig
Screwdriver / Drill
Tape measure / Ruler
Sanding blocks: medium + fine
WHAT WE DID: Kiira’s doorway is 32″ wide, so we wanted our finished size to be 31.5″ wide, leaving 1/4″ inch on either side – just enough for the door to swing freely, but with enough space for the hinges and latch. Using the 1x4s, we made two cuts at 31.5″ for the top and base and three cuts from the 1x2s at 26.75,” giving our gate a height of approximately 34″ tall. We laid them out for a dry fit, then used our mini Kreg jig to make pocket holes and secure these 5 planks together.
Scott cut a small, triangular slug piece of 1×2 (the same shape and size as the illustration below) that we used as our guide for the rest of the project. Using that slug, we marked 2.25″ inches to the right and up from the middle, then did the same to the left and up again. Not wanting to over complicate the process, all of our cuts would be made at a 45-degree angle. To get started, We measured from mark to mark (for example, our first measurement followed the 45-degree line, below), knowing that would be our inside cut for each rib. The first several 45-degree cuts were made opposite each other, giving your first handful of ribs a trapezoid shape.
We worked on mirroring each side as we went along, making sure to keep our spacing as straight as possible. Using our brad nailer, we secured each rib in place with 2 brads at the top and bottom of each piece. This was slightly tricky due to the angles (we had a few missteps), but it did make the job go much faster.
The hardest part of the whole process, simply put, is the math. But as long as you made your marks every 2.25,” you should be fine! However, once you get past the bottom corners (we started at the bottom and worked our way up), your 45-degree cuts will stop being trapezoidal and turn into a parallelogram (see below) – and once you’ve made it almost to the top and your ribs have reached the middle corner, they’ll turn back into trapezoids. We were very mindful of this as we made our cuts, working slowly and deliberately, measuring twice (sometimes thrice!) and cutting once.
When we reached the last remaining ribs, we needed to take off the top 1×4 to make room for our brad nailer, then secure the cap back on once every rib was in place. We did have a few planks that felt slightly loose, so we added pocket holes were necessary. Finally, we could sand (we used the mouse sander first, followed by the sanding blocks for fine tuning), spackle any gaps and pocket holes, and paint it!
We waited until we got to Kiira’s house before we installed the hinges and latch, which turned out to be a good thing as we needed to make some slight modifications to her door frame. While her ornate molding is stunning, it was too thick at the bottom, which wouldn’t allow for the gate to swing completely open when not in use. We remedied the situation with a thin piece of scrap wood – something that will be different for everyone (and will likely not be a problem at all with more modern molding).
The verdict? Petey, new foster Kostka and Monkey (left to right) love it! (Kostka was thisclose to coming home under our coats, by the way.)
The gate was installed off of the dining room, creating a good amount of space for all the pups to roam, play and sleep. Kiira’s original gate is to the left of the photo below, closing off the kitchen, and a pocket door (out of view on the right) sections off the living room.
Although the gate took us a good amount of time to figure out initially, once we hashed out the math, it was pretty simple (and fun!) to piece together. (Say, if we’d had time to complete a second gate, it would have taken less than half the time of the first.) Come spring, Scott and I would love to build a similar gate to separate our front and back yards, so we’ll be bookmarking this page for future use, too.
We encourage you to check out our fellow Ace bloggers right here – and if anyone else was as distracted as we were by Kostka’s meatball mug, he’ll be available for adoption through Project Rescue Chicago starting Saturday – hurry, hurry!
We’ve partnered with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel. Ace has provided us with the tools and materials necessary to complete this project (hey, thanks, Ace!), and all opinions are our own. Cute puppies are an added bonus.