We didn’t get to the foyer (or living room) baseboards this weekend – quite the opposite, actually – but we did cross off a pretty important to-do: the studio! Working from home every day, I’ve learned to put my blinders on; if I didn’t stare at the walls too long, I wouldn’t see the smudges (and the cracks and the filthy outlets and the yellowed ceilings). But now – finally! – I’m surrounded by the softest, most delicate pink glow:
Leading up to the weekend, Scott and I spent a couple of weeknights pulling up more baseboards and door trim (everything but the outside walls to keep out a cold draft), patching the walls (there were some hefty cracks as a result of raising the first floor ceiling) and sanding everything smooth. The second floor – which, you might remember, was the walk-up apartment before we purchased this house – was (and still is) in worse shape than the first floor. While we consider ourselves incredibly lucky that hardwood floors were installed prior to our move-in, it’s still frustrating to know that the baseboards throughout the entire home were installed before the floors. As a result, the contractor packs of discount trim are barely 2″ above the floors themselves, so we’ll be going room-by-room (and as money allows) to remedy this.
Below, this door off of the studio leads to the second floor guest room, which is – hands down – the most in need of help. Ultimately, we’ll likely need to replace the entire door frame, as it doesn’t close properly, is pocked and chipped and doesn’t align with its current frame. (Same goes with the second floor bathroom, which is runner-up for title of Scariest Room in the House.)
While it’s easy to get caught up in all the trim and door issues (yes, really), we couldn’t allow that to hold us back from the larger picture – getting this room painted! My family came in from Pittsburgh over the weekend to lend a helping hand (including my little sister and brother), and between the six of us, we knocked it out of the park!
The ceiling – you guys! – the ceiling. Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of white paint on an old, dingy ceiling. We actually had our doubts that paint could help the sad shape it’s been in for the last 6+ months, but almost immediately, the space felt brighter than it has since our move in day.
Another big task that we’ve been checking off in small doses are all of our light switches and outlets. Not a one of our switches was protected with a plate cover (what?!), and many of them were crooked and/or sunken into the wall. As we paint each room, we’ve been updating each and every electrical need as well, which – at times – has proven to be a bit more complicated than we’d like. (See exhibit A, below. This required access from the other side of the wall, then properly boxing it out with a 2×4.)
All that aside and one afternoon of painting later, we have clean pink walls! My brother and sister not only got their first taste of painting walls, but it turns out they’re little budding electricians, expert brush cleaners and drywall smooth-ers, too. We used Pale Bud by Behr, and it’s so so soft; it’s perfect. (Perfect as it is, it’s also ridiculously hard to photograph; the ceiling, while white, is picking up on the pink walls.)
Also, hell-o, you studly coffee table, you! We’ve actually had this table in storage for months, and we’ve been itching to get it out of hiding and into the light of the studio – and we love it. The table was gifted to us by Hayneedle (a result of a lucky break and a local launch party for Clementine Daily), and while the style is a bit out of our normal comfort zone, we’re pretty sure that’s exactly why we fell so hard. (A new house, a new start and new ideas!) Ultimately, this half of the studio will be used as a cozy conversational area – our couch will make its way up (once we can decide on something more size appropriate for the living room), and we’ll layer everything together with our velvet chair (or perhaps the green chair?) and an area rug.
Now that we have our clean slate, I feel I can actually start hanging art, brainstorming for storage and turning the place where I spend most of my time into a space I love. My former studio still has my heart, but my hope is that this room will not only prove to be more functional (and, obviously, more spacious!) but even more inspiring.
It’s amazing what paint can do for the soul, isn’t it?
Soon after we painted our entry closet walls a soft minty green, I got started on phase 2 of closet overhaul – painting the door itself! As we mentioned way back here, we were undecided between a true black, off-black or navy, but look – navy won! Scott and I have both been falling hard for navy lately – navy is the new black? – so much so that we’ve had to reel in some of our ideas for future navy choices (like a couch, some chairs or a rug). For now, our first bold dabble in the color is doing the trick; in the end, we went with Farrow & Ball’s Hague Blue, color matched to Sherwin Williams exterior paint:
Unfortunately, our contractors wrapped up too close to the holiday season, which meant cold weather, snow and rain prevented us from also painting our front door (which will be finished in the same deep navy). But! We’re all about celebrating each small (and not-so-small) victory as it happens, so the closet door (oh, the infamous closet door!)? Painted! Check.
And in-between tiling and over the course of this last week, we were finally able to put this space to use. Considering that this house didn’t even have a foyer closet when we purchased it (instead, we reversed the ‘bedroom’ closet behind the shared wall to gain storage – it might make more sense here), we are loving the small addition.
It’s so gloriously organized and (feels) empty – empty, in a good way. There’s an entire second shelf with nothing on it but a dust buster with room to grow. As a bit of a coat hoarder myself (living in Chicago counts as an excuse, right?), only our heavily rotated coats are in this closet, and our ‘working’ jackets (you know, the ones you wear when you’re using power tools and painting outdoors?) are still being stored in the guestroom closet since they tend to muck up anything they touch.
We picked up all our storage bins at The Container Store (one of these and two of these), with the exception of our rolling crate for shoes. Our winter gear (scarves, gloves and earmuffs) are within easy reach on a lower shelf, whereas the top two jute bins hold vacuum accessories and – okay, we’ll admit it – Jack’s clothes.
And look – how adult of us! All of our hangers match! When Only Hangers asked us if we had any use for their sturdy, hunky hangers, we knew exactly where they’d go. We chose their dark bamboo coat hangers, which to be honest, was based purely on looks. But when they arrived? Well, they’re attractive, yes, but they’re also built to last. (Who knew you could be so excited about a hanger? Oh wait, these two.)
For the finishing touch (can you tell we’re excited about our closet yet?), we added a teeny surprise with every swing of the door. Right in the threshold, we replaced one piece of marble with an appropriately sized domino; we’re calling it good luck. (Or was it tiling-induced-insanity?) Scott chose a domino with our favorites numbers – 5 for me (it was my old hockey number) and 11 for him (from his favorite childhood athlete). You can only see it when the closet door swings open, but it makes us smile every time. And isn’t that what counts?
Okay, so now we’re up to… a painted door? Check! Storage? Check! Matching hangers and sweet little domino and sparkly, sequined bunny? Check, check, check! But as much as we are loving the way things are falling together, we can’t help but get antsy over our lack of baseboards and trim. Once we add the proper molding to this door frame – well, I’d whistle if I could. (Not to mention, our messy grout smears are all we can see!)
Consider that to-do bumped. Right to the top.
This post is in partnership with Only Hangers. We used their dark bamboo coat hangers and love, love, love them – and that? That opinion is all ours.
A long, long time ago (let’s call it August), Scott and I took a field trip to one of our favorite second-hand stores, Jubilee. While we weren’t planning on bringing home anything for our media wall that day, well, we did! Remember?:
During a burst of motivation and productivity, we finally incorporated it into our living room, where it holds all of our media gear – the television, speakers, our receiver and Playstation, with drawers that keep miscellaneous cables, dominoes and inappropriate card games handy. (You can see this was pre-tile, as we still have subfloor there, on the left.)
Okay, obviously we’re not calling the above photo an ‘after’ by any means! After all, there are (and were) a few things to address to make the credenza work for us, our space and our current media equipment:
- Those speakers! Scott is all about having the proper surround sound for movie watching, sports and – most importantly – listening to our record collection, and although I sincerely appreciate this, I just cannot get on board with these big, light-sucking boxes anymore. Consider the above very, very temporary.
- We are, however, on board with in-wall speakers, which is totally in Scott’s wheelhouse, so we’ll be moving forward with that once he decides and pulls the trigger.
- With that said, we had initial thoughts to create a built-in around the credenza (similar to our last wall unit, which stayed with our tenants in the condo), but now we’re leaning towards something much more minimal (and who knows, we could change our minds again!). Right this second, we’d hang my grandparents clock above the television – which will eventually be wall mounted – and use the credenza top as a resting place for some books, a vase of flowers and things; things that are pretty.
- As for what we’ve already done to modify the credenza: You might notice in the first photo that the center of the unit with the sliding doors is slightly recessed. In the second photo, it’s now flush with the drawers to its left and right! Let’s talk about that …
Once we pulled the credenza in place and tried to put our receiver and Playstation in the middle section, we quickly realized that there wasn’t enough depth to accommodate our hulking equipment. (Some fast measurements told us we might barely squeeze everything in, so we had high hopes it would work – nope!). We turned the whole unit on its side, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that all we’d need to do is unscrew the center-panel-bottom (got that?), shave down each side so it could move forward and flush, then screw everything back into place.
Because the front lip of the center-panel-bottom had the ridges for the sliding doors, this was our only option to make it work. Scott used his multi-tool to easily take off the 4″ or so that were needed to slide the whole section forward, then drilled pilot holes for his new screw placement. Everything went back together seamlessly – success! (Bonus: By moving the entire center-panel-bottom forward, we gained open air space in the back. This would, in turn, allow for better air flow for our media equipment.)
The clean lines of this credenza are definitely what drew us in, but the piece itself didn’t feel too precious to hack; it’s built mostly from plywood with a veneer. With this in mind, we went one step further and used our hole saw to create a pass-through for cables to run from behind the credenza and into the middle unit – therefore keeping messy cables off the floor. (You know how we feel about cables!)
Now, we’re able to slide the doors to the right for access to the receiver, and to the left for the Playstation. If both items are in use, we’ll center the doors (for example, if we’re having a Netflix marathon) to allow for better airflow and remote use.
As a full disclosure, we’re on the fence regarding the finish of the credenza itself. Do we like the wood tone? (Sometimes.) Is the veneer too orange for our tastes? (Kind of.) Ugh, is that a chip in the veneer? (Damn!) But until the living room becomes more pulled together, we’re having a hard time wrapping our heads around alternatives. Paint? A concrete top? A marble top? (Oooh!)
Then again, another streak of motivation and productivity may find this credenza made over sooner than later… (It’s all about the mood, you know?)