* View Along the Way * http://www.viewalongtheway.com Starts and Stops on the Journey to a DIY Home Wed, 30 Jul 2014 04:36:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.3 Best Benjamin Moore Navy Paint Colors + Decision 2014 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/best-benjamin-moore-navy-paint-colors-decision-2014/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/best-benjamin-moore-navy-paint-colors-decision-2014/#comments Mon, 28 Jul 2014 10:00:42 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20980 (I know I still have much to tell you about Jill’s makeover! We’ll return to that shortly. First I need help making a decision so I can move forward with other things in the meantime. Stay tuned!) When we first visited our house to consider buying it, Andy and I both felt that the master […]

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(I know I still have much to tell you about Jill’s makeover! We’ll return to that shortly. First I need help making a decision so I can move forward with other things in the meantime. Stay tuned!)

When we first visited our house to consider buying it, Andy and I both felt that the master bedroom was kind of outrageously large. We actually thought it was a giant waste of space, and therefore a major downside to the house. What are we supposed to do with an adjoining sitting room for goodness sakes?! Have tea parties? Play bridge? Lounge in velvet robes?

Answer: YES. That’s basically all we do most days.

My well-thought-out, not-at-all-accidental remedy for the size problem has been to repaint the master bedroom approximately 47 different times, laying on enough coats of paint to slowly close in the walls on all sides and reduce the room to nearly half its original size.

Andy’s maybe not such a big fan of this plan.

The problem was that I didn’t have a clear vision for the room, and I made the One Major Design Mistake That Makes Decorating Harder. (Read it here. Are you guilty too?)

This gray-green is where we sit today. (It’s Benjamin Moore Silver Sage.)

I chose it before I even knew what I was doing in this room, because I thought you’re supposed to choose paint colors first, because I was a silly little goat and wanted my life to be harder than necessary.

As a result, we’ve stalled out on decorating in this room for years.

Well: that’s enough of that! It’s time to fix this room once and for all, make it beautiful and livable and fix all the things we’ve just been living with. Like a bare hanging lightbulb, broken nightstands and no storage.

We built the upholstered bed (see how to do that here), sewed the curtains (tutorial here) and finally kind of settled on the bedding. Now that we have a design direction and a lead fabric (the lumbar pillow) I’m finally at the right point in the process to be allowed to go near the paint swatches. I have enough information to make an informed paint color decision, without repainting for the 49th time.

I mean, I hope.

We only use this room in the evenings – aside from tea parties and cigar-smoking-while-robe-wearing of course – so I want to go darker and cozier. I want to go navy.
Navy bedroom

Little Green Notebook

I think it’ll tie in the curtains and the bedding, and increase the drama factor by a hundred and six. Or, it’ll just make the room a little bit smaller and I’ll repaint it again. Either way, a win, right?
Best navy paint colors
Here’s where you come in: I needs the helps, friends. On the scale of life’s most important decisions, this ranks. (IF I GET THIS WRONG, ANDY WILL NEVER LET ME NEAR A PAINT SWATCH AGAIN!!)
Choosing navy blue paint colors

Here’s what you’re lookin’ at.

1 — Benjamin Moore Stunning: It reads the most purple of all the choices, which makes me nervous. However, a deep purply-blue could be kind of amazing. This is Benjamin Moore Stunning in action:
Benjamin Moore Stunning

Kim Armstrong Interior Design

It doesn’t look nearly as purple in that photo, does it? It looks like a powerful, happy blue. Do the swatches deceive me?!

2 — Benjamin Moore Old Navy: This is a strong contender. It feels clean, classic and nautical. Plus it’s the color Amber and Nick at Wills Casa painted their island, and I kind of want to steal their entire kitchen and wear it as my skin. WHY IS IT SO AMAZING?!
Wills Casa Kitchen
PS: If you’re not reading their blog, your life is incomplete.

3 — Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue: Not it. It’s a little softer and lighter than I want, but it’s a gorgeous blue, if you’re looking for one for your house. Here’s some Van Deusen goodness:
Benjamin Moore Van Deusen Blue

Lindsey Coral Harper for House Beautiful

4 — Benjamin Moore Hale Navy: I’m trying SO HARD not to like this color. It seems like lately, everyone and their moms are painting things Hale Navy and I cannot succumb to paint-color-peer-pressure-and-predictability. I can’t use Hale Navy on principle, right? The problem, of course, is that it’s kinda beautiful. It’s grayed-out enough so that I think when the whole wall is covered, it won’t be overpoweringly bright or obnoxious.

Behold:
Hale Navy bedroom at the Nesting Game

Hale Navy guest room at Nesting Game

It’s annoyingly perfect, isn’t it? ARRRGH.

5 — Benjamin Moore Downpour Blue
Definitely too green for what I want, but it’s an incredible color. I want to find a place for this color somewhere else in my house though. See?:
Benjamin Moore Downpour Blue

Coveted Home

It’s halfway between navy and peacock teal, which is a fine place to dwell.

The fabulous people at Benjamin Moore are sending me their fancy Aura paint for this room, which I’m super pumped to try out. It also means I need to make a quick decision and probably not live with random paint swatches on my wall for six months.


Five beautiful navy blue paint colors!



So tell me: what color is your fave? Should I resist the call of the Hale Navy on principle? Go with the classic, clean Old Navy? Take a chance on Stunning? Let’s take a little poll, just for kicks! (If you’re reading this post through a reader or through email, you’ll probably need to click over to participate. Your vote counts. Let your voice be heard! …and other election-year cliches.)

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Save the books: how to style a bookshelf for actual book storage http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/save-books-style-bookshelf-actual-book-storage/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/save-books-style-bookshelf-actual-book-storage/#comments Wed, 23 Jul 2014 10:00:01 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20918 I must speak out for the books. Someone is hiding them from us! All those volumes mankind has been printing for the past hundreds of years since the invention of the printing press — oh yes I did just bring up the invention of the printing press and no I don’t know when that was […]

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I must speak out for the books.

Someone is hiding them from us! All those volumes mankind has been printing for the past hundreds of years since the invention of the printing press — oh yes I did just bring up the invention of the printing press and no I don’t know when that was without googling it — all the books are disappearing, you guys. It’s an emergency.

All the styled bookshelves are devoid of books! Bookshelves are shelves… for books. I thought?

But if you go hunting for beautifully styled shelves on pinterest, you’ll start to think that in order to create beautiful bookshelves, you must first rid yourself of all those pesky books and replace them with Pretty Things That Need Dusting.
tumblr_m6jkwfOc3X1rw1j0to1_1280

Design by Meyer Interiors

But um. If all our bookshelves are getting cleared of the books and replaced with beautiful tchotchkes, where are we supposed to put… our books?

bookcases1

Elle Decor Magazine
Just asking.

“No worries,” says Pinterest. “You can display your books! …As long as they’re all within your color scheme.”
Bookshelf+bookshelf+styled+black+white+tan+YY6UrVEH0_Xl

Lonny Mag

“Oh, your book spines are not all within the same color palette?,” Pinterest asks, clucking its tongue disapprovingly. “In that case, you may painstakingly recover them all in craft paper. This is your last and final hope for getting permission to store your books out in the open where people might see.”
all-white-bookshelf
Decoist

“Yes, you’ll want to claw out your eyeballs if you ever need to find one of the books in order to read it, but that’s the price of beauty, dahhhling.”

Pinterest sounds like kind of a jerk right now. I didn’t mean to do that. I heart you pinterest, you beautiful, gentle lover.

But for real: what if you need to store books on your bookshelves? Like, what if you own a lot of books and need somewhere to put them? Must you give up on form, surrender to function and replace all your furniture with black pleather overstuffed sofas because Lord Knows, those things must be SO comfortable and easy to keep clean?

I vote no.

To the pleather, and to the Disappearing of the Books.

So what do you do if you own seventy four hundred books, like Jill and her husband do?
living_room_before_3
If you’ve been following along, I just did a surprise makeover for my friend Jill while she was on vacation. You can check out all the posts on her makeover here and the full reveal here.

Jill’s family uses this living room for reading and for entertaining, so the idea of getting rid of all their books in exchange for Pretty Things just seemed like it’d be a silly lack of priorities for their real life. Erin and I painted and restyled their shelves, keeping almost ALL the same books, but in a way that feels a little easier on your eyes and more organized:
surprise_makeover_after_5
It feels cleaner and simpler, but without sacrificing the actual storage of the books. (We had a small stack of books left over, but almost all of them made it back on the finished shelves.)

This is my little process for creating bookshelves that store books but still feel pretty and clean. It’s the same process I used for the bookshelves in our office, which store many, many actual books made of actual paper:
Bookshelf styling tips: How to make your bookshelf beautiful when it has to store actual books

1. Empty the shelves

Of everything. This is a pain, but completely necessary to get a fresh slate and allow yourself to see things a different way than How They’ve Always Been.
Empty bookshelves: how to arrange books on a shelf

2. Call forth the tchotckes!

Collect All The Pretty Things in your house that you might want to display. This is the time to pull out everything you’ve been storing with hopes of displaying it someday: your grandmother’s cool vintage teacup collection, smallish frames with meaningful photos, mementos from your wedding day, spare vases in closets, pretty ornaments, colorful jars, anything that you’d love to look at. It’s all fair game at this point! Make a giant pile that inspires your spouse to think you might have lost it.

Erin and I shopped Jill’s house for anything that might look pretty tucked inside the bookshelves, and grabbed a few things on clearance at target or from our own piles of yard sale accessories. This is a small portion of our pile.
Collection of decorations
We found some beautiful things hidden in cupboards, like this beautiful silver tea set which deserved more appreciation!
tea set 1
When I was doing the bookshelves in my house, all my animals came out to play, which inspired Andy to call out: “WHY IS THERE A ZOO IN OUR OFFICE?!”
Collection of animal statues

3. Sort the books by color

We laid out the books in a rough gradient by color, like this:
how_to_style_books_on_a_shelf
It doesn’t have to be perfect, but just try to roughly group together all the reddish books, all the bluish books, etc.

4. Add small groups of books to the shelves

I like to work in “batches” of books, so I grabbed about 8-10 books from the pile and moved them to the shelves. Here’s a little batch of bluish books:
How to arrange books on shelves like a designer
These are all the little batches from my own bookshelf wall:
The trick to styling bookshelves like a pro!
If I did a batch of books standing up against the side of the shelf on one side, I grabbed another batch and did something similar on the opposite side, basically creating “pairs” of batches to keep things roughly balanced:
Creating a balanced bookshelf

5. Change it up

If one batch of books is standing up, grab another batch – a batch of any color! – and set it on its side. Alternate the way the books are stacked every time:
How to arrange books on shelves like a decorator
**In my opinion, this is the single easiest thing you can do to take your bookshelves to the next level. Just go through and change the way some of them are oriented. It’ll make a world of difference without changing how many books you can fit!**

6. When all the books are shelved, bring on the pretties!

Start slowly layering in your pretty things now. Put some on top of the book stacks. Put some peeking out from behind the books and prop some in front of the books. The trick is to make it feel like there are layers of interest, not just a line of books that are all the same depth.
the trick to styling bookshelves like a pro!
For extra credit, you can even hang things on the fronts of the shelves.
shelves

Elle Decor

7. Tweak until it feels right

Now just start playing until it feels good and balanced to you. This is weird, but sometimes it helps me to squint so everything looks blurry, then see what stands out. If it feels like there’s a lot of pattern and contrast on one half of a shelf, I’ll rearrange until it feels more even.

And sometimes I can’t “see” what needs to be changed until I take a photo. When you think you’re just about there, take a picture of the shelf and see what doesn’t look right in the picture. I don’t know why it makes a difference, but it helps me every single time.

* * *

Aaaand that’s it!
surprise_makeover_after_5
It really all comes down to making it look a way that’s visually pleasing to you. A hundred different designers could come in and rearrange your shelves a hundred different ways. There’s no right or wrong, so give yourself some freedom and some grace!

And let’s all unite to Save the Books! Are you in?

Simple steps to decorating your bookshelves with ACTUAL books, like a designer!


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Just a little flash-mob surprise makeover reveal. That’s all. http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/just-little-flash-mob-surprise-makeover-reveal-thats/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/just-little-flash-mob-surprise-makeover-reveal-thats/#comments Tue, 15 Jul 2014 10:00:49 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20849 Imagine if you left for vacation and your living room looked like this. Then a week later, you walked back into your house and it looked like this. What if you were expecting to see this: But instead you saw this: What would you DOOO?!! Jill did this: And smiled a lot, and cried a […]

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Imagine if you left for vacation and your living room looked like this.
living_room_before
Then a week later, you walked back into your house and it looked like this.
A room makeover in only a week with just $500!
What if you were expecting to see this:
living_room_before_3
But instead you saw this:
surprise_makeover_after_5
What would you DOOO?!!

Jill did this:
3
And smiled a lot, and cried a little.

Erin and I were a bundle of nerves all day waiting for Jill to get home. Here we were waiting, minorly freaking out, watching the clock and kinda sweating a lot and being really, really not cool about things.
erin_kelly
I mean, what if she HATED it?! Or worse, what if she was ambivalent and clearly trying to be nice? What if she was just like, “Oh, that’s nice. Thanks guys. Welp, guess I’ll go unpack now.”

I just — that just wasn’t an option.

If you’ve been following along, Erin and I were co-conspirators on a surprise room makeover for Jill. We had one week and $500 to pull this whole thing off, and – oh I forgot to mention – the air conditioning went out in their house mid-project (in Atlanta in June! Read: sweatshop conditions) AND I got the flu. But we did it!

We turned this:
before
Into this:
Make over a complete room for only $500 in one week!Updated living room on a budget!
And this:
before2
Into this:
How to COMPLETELY make over an entire room on a tiny budget!surprise_makeover_after_4
Did I mention we had just a few short days and $500 very small dollars? I think they were tinier dollars than normal, guys.

So here’s what happened. First we analyzed Jill’s style (without her even knowing! Is that creepy?) and figured out what we thought she’d like.

Then we made a design plan based on that bird fabric, which turned out to be Windsong by Heritage House:
Transitional living room design plan
Then we created a space plan for that tough layout. (See how to do that here!)
jills_room_layout
Once Jill and her family were finally out of the house, we invaded! All that grolive trim and wallpaper got painted – and it felt like SUCH a breath of fresh air!
after_painting
The sofa and chairs came from craigslist, the rug came from Erin’s house and the coffee table is actually just two wicker trunks we found for $30 each. (They’re from Target originally but we have this incredible discount-store-heaven nearby us which sells Target overstocks.)
surprise_makeover_after_7
If we were designing this room for looks and not real-life, I think a glass coffee table would’ve been a little better here. It’s a small space and naturally very dark, so something that takes up less visual space and allows light to pass through would’ve been a little better, but Jill has four kids and we knew she’d appreciate the extra storage in the trunks.

Erin made those curtains! They’re a DIY version of these Pheasant Eye curtains which cost $100 per panel from Anthropologie and I’ll show you how to make your own soon.
DIY Anthropologie Pheasant Eye Curtains
Let’s talk about the bookshelves! Jill and her husband own ALL THE BOOKS. Every one of them. But you know what’s kind of awesome? Look at the difference between the before and after, how much easier it is on your eyes.
living_room_before_3surprise_makeover_after_5
We did that while keeping almost all the books! We had just a small stack leftover that got stored in the cabinets below, but doesn’t it just look so much more clean and simple now? You can have a beautiful bookshelf and still store (a lot of) books! I’m thinking about doing a post on my little process for styling the kind of bookshelf that stores actual books. Would you be into that?

Erin and I made the art on the shelves. It’s made out of FLOWERS, you guys!!! I can’t wait to tell you about this project! SO FREAKIN COOL.
DIY pressed flower art
I couldn’t believe what a difference the chandelier made. We hung it low over the seating area and not only did it make things feel insta-elegant, but also super cozy for conversation. The chandy was $40. (Now I’m grabbing both your shoulders and shaking you with joy and fervor: FORTY DOLLARS!)
Redo a room for $500 in 7 days!
The tree next to the sofa is just a branch from the japanese maple in my yard. True story: I just cut a longish branch without paying attention to the tree, and now our tree looks lopsided and weird, because Lack of Foresight. But doesn’t it look kind of amazing just plopped in a vase, for free dollars?
surprise_makeover_after_9
We pulled out that rust color in the curtains and the branch because the cabinets in Jill’s kitchen are red. (You can kinda see them behind her in this pic:)
4Adding this color to the other side of the room made the kitchen colors feel intentional and really tied this room into the kitchen in a major way.

Actually, that was just a happy accident, but it happened, so we’ll just take credit for that as if it was on purpose.

So here’s the budget breakdown for the whole makeover:
Couch: $100
Chairs: $70
Black & white pillows, plant & frames (all from Ikea): $105
Trunks: $60
Accessories: $100
Curtains: $25
Picture frames (four on the mantel + 2 for the art): $50
Chandelier: $40
Paint: Gift from Jill’s mother-in-law
Total: $550

And we sold Jill’s existing couch and put the money toward the total, so we actually came out RIGHT ON BUDGET. WHAT!

Even working all the hours in a room with no a/c, the end result of giving this gift to Jill was worth every second. Erin and I had so much fun and couldn’t have been more happy to bless our bud this way. Jill said the room makes her smile and she loves it!

One more before-and-after, for the road?
living_room_beforesurprise_makeover_after_3
Yay!

Thoughts? What would you do if someone changed your house without your permission? Restraining order?

Come check out this transformation! Only took one week and $500! Tons of great ideas!


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Jill’s Surprise Makeover: Painting + Furniture http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/jills-surprise-makeover-painting-furniture/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/jills-surprise-makeover-painting-furniture/#comments Wed, 09 Jul 2014 10:00:18 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20817 How to be the worst person in the world: invite all your friends to a painting party and then not come. I was all, “Lol, jk guys. I’m sick. You can still come and paint Jill’s living room though.” I didn’t mean to be a terrible person, but in what was the most awful timing […]

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How to be the worst person in the world: invite all your friends to a painting party and then not come.

I was all, “Lol, jk guys. I’m sick. You can still come and paint Jill’s living room though.”

I didn’t mean to be a terrible person, but in what was the most awful timing of my life, I got completely laid-out-sick and couldn’t get off the couch the day of the painting party Erin and I had organized for Jill’s surprise makeover. It was awful: flu-like symptoms, topped with massive waves of guilt for being horrible.

I basically called in sick to life. My mom came to take the kids so I could lay around moaning and wishing I was never born, and she snapped this picture of Weston, because when I get sick, the kids start to look a little homeless. (Note the collar tucked inside the shirt, shoes on the wrong feet, solid understanding of color theory and pattern-matching.)
homeless
Poor buddy. Why doesn’t he have a mom who will dress him like a proper person? (I do choose my battles carefully on the clothing front though. Mila’s getting really into dressing herself, and also wearing her brother’s clothes, which I think is hilarious and awesome.)
mila
Nice abs, babe. She specializes in creative blends of different styles, unexpected accessories and wearing underpants on top of pants. I would keep my kids at this exact age for all time if I could.

How’d you get me talking about this? Oh yeah — the painting party.

Remember, this is Jill’s dark cave-like living room, with old wallpaper and grolive (new word for gray-olive) trim.
living_room_before
The bookshelves were an orangey-brown pine which Jill hated.
living_room_before_3
The wallpaper was actually probably really nice originally – it was a diamond-textured grasscloth – but it was old and stained, and just needed a refresh. Jill’s been dying to paint it for a LONG time, but knew it’d be a ton of work.
old stained wallpaper

wallpaper_before_2
Yes – we decided to paint right over the wallpaper, with the permission of her mother-in-law who owns the house. We loved the texture and pattern of the grasscloth, plus the wallpaper had been there for a long time and nobody wanted to venture beneath it and open that pandora’s box.

So a bunch of Jill’s friends who love her and were excited to do this for her, came and painted the room one night.
painting_party_1
Except me, because unexplainable summertime influenza/black heart.

But look how much brighter already!
living_room_beforeafter_painting
The heavens have opened and light is pouring through in rivers of glory!

We used a color called “Daydream Haze” for the walls. It’s a color that Jill used in her master bedroom and LOVES, so it was a safe bet. To lighten it up a little bit, we had it mixed at half-strength. (If you really love the hue of a paint color but wish it was a little lighter, you can ask the person at the paint counter to mix it at half-strength. They basically just put in half the color, so it’s exactly the same, but whiter, if that makes sense.) The trim is called “Ivory Dust.”

In a perfect world, we would’ve painted her ceiling too, but if you started painting it here, you would’ve had to repaint the whole downstairs and we had one week and $500, so it didn’t happen.

Jill had been talking about white-washing the stone on her fireplace because she didn’t like it, but once we painted the bookshelves white, the fireplace turned amazing.
living_room_before_3
fireplace
(Sorry for the terrible night-time photo!)

We also got them a new couch!!
sofaAnd not just any couch — the most amazing couch anyone has ever bought on craigslist for under $100. It was listed for $270 and I talked the guy down to $100. (I KNOW.) One hundred tiny dollars for this gorgeous sofa that I kind of wanted to keep for myself - see? Black heart – but am planning to love forever from a distance. Here it is in this messy garage-whose-owner-shall-not-be-named with the pair of chairs we also bought:
garage
The chairs were $70 for the pair. They’re little cane chairs which had really nice light blue upholstery and a medium-toned wood. We didn’t do a thing to them.

I really liked how the arms of the chairs and the arms of the sofa mimic each other’s shape. See that? Fancy, right?

In the last post I showed you the layout we landed on, so we bought the sofa and the chairs intending to face them toward each other:
jills_room_layout
Okay, so ready to see this all come together?

Next post, should we do a reveal? What do you think?

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Decorating 101: Space Planning (and more on Jill’s surprise makeover!) http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/decorating-101-space-planning/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/decorating-101-space-planning/#comments Mon, 07 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20744 I’m excited to show you guys Jill’s flash-mob surprise makeover results! But I thought we’d start with a little chat about how we handled her room layout. Let me just forewarn you that the furniture, rugs and finishes in these little layout sketches are all horrible and not at all representative of the design for […]

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I’m excited to show you guys Jill’s flash-mob surprise makeover results! But I thought we’d start with a little chat about how we handled her room layout.

Let me just forewarn you that the furniture, rugs and finishes in these little layout sketches are all horrible and not at all representative of the design for her room. Before you proceed, you must swear to me that you understand that and that you will not judge any leopard print rugs you might encounter today. Check the box that you agree to these terms, please.

Here again is Jill’s living room, the before:
living_room_before
This is the layout before:
layout_before
It’s a long, narrow room with four hundred doors, pass-throughs and windows to account for. I’ll walk you through our process for figuring out a space plan that made sense for Jill’s family, and if you’re working on a floor plan, hopefully it’ll help you settle on something functional too.

Start with function: analyze how you use the room

This is the room that Jill and her family use to entertain company, so we knew we needed a layout that facilitated easy conversation. They also use it as a reading room. And they own some books, like a billion, which we needed to store. Finally, they keep some toys and games in this room so storage for those things was a must as well.
living_room_before_3
This will be controversial, but if you use your living room primarily to watch television — this is a safe place and you can admit that — it’s okay to lay out your furniture for that purpose. The point of design is to create spaces that work for the way they’ll be used. However, if you’ll also be entertaining, you’ll have to work a little harder to create a dual-function layout that can support conversation, laughter and the playing of Taboo and Balderdash, or other board games of choice.

Not Chess or Risk though: no one wants to play that boring crap.

Create Zones

Especially in long, skinny rooms like Jill’s, sometimes you need to split the room into different zones. If you can’t sit in one part of the room and easily converse with someone sitting in another part of the room, it’s safe to say your room needs separate zones.

That’s what was going on in Jill’s living room. It was too long and narrow to create one conversation space:
dumb_layout
So we needed to define one area – the conversation area – and use the rest of the room for a different purpose. Once you split the room and think of it as two separate spaces, it gets much easier. We essentially thought of these two zones as two different square rooms.
Using zones to create a space plan
I think Jill’s living room would’ve been really nice with a table on the other half, since their kitchen is on the opposite side of that half-wall:
Designing a space plan for a long, skinny room
But functionally, they didn’t really need a table there, and we didn’t have time or budget to go find another one anyway, so we just went with a little reading area with the recliner that was already there. (The Husband requested that the recliner stay, and I was not going to be the one to take his recliner, yall. I’m not a monster.)
layout_zones
IGNORE THAT LEOPARD RUG. I’m using this floor planning software that only offers ugly rugs and furnishings. I’ve been backed into a corner.

Measure everything

Get the room’s full dimensions, obviously, and the placements of all the doors and windows, plus the dimensions of any furniture you’ll be keeping. I use floorplanner.com (and its ugly rug selection) to play with layouts, but ain’t no shame in going old-school: you can also just measure and cut things out with paper and play with the layout that way, like this:
layout_drawing

And try anything

Get crazy and try weird layouts. Just move stuff around. Can’t hurt nuthin, yo. I recommend commenting to your husband how much you enjoy watching his muscles ripple while he moves the sofa for the sixth time. Decorating keeps marriages strong.

Create traffic flow

A good rule of thumb I use is that you need about three feet of walking space around the furniture. Plus you want an easy route for your wild children to run through the room. I mean for adults to slowly walk through.

Orient toward the focal point

What’s the focal point of the room? If it has a fireplace, bam: the decision is made for you. Nothing is worse than a room where the furniture is not oriented toward the fireplace.

The easy start for laying out a room is to orient your largest piece of furniture toward the focal point. You can start there and then play around with other arrangements if necessary. If we did that in Jill’s room, it would look like this:
layout_1
Which is not a terrible starting place, but it’s not where we ended up.

If you don’t have a fireplace, your focal point might be architectural, like large windows or bookcases, or without something like that, you can create a focal point with large-scale art or mirrors, or even patterned curtains. Don’t be intimidated by deciding what’s the focal point of your room. It’s really just whatever you want people to see FIRST when they walk in. (But if you have a fireplace, it’s the fireplace. Kelly’s Rule.)

Try symmetry first.

If you can create a symmetrical layout, more times than not, it’s going to be the best option.
Creating a symmetrical layout

Design by Greg Natale via Design Addict

That doesn’t mean an asymmetrical layout can’t be awesome and perfect in your space! Just know why you’re doing it.
asymmetry
Designer Kelly Giesen via House Beautiful

And if you’re not sure? Try symmetry first.

Go off the wall!

In most rooms, the layout looks better when the furniture isn’t all clumped up on the wall like 13-year-old Kelly at the junior high dance. Bring it out into the room and float it. Jill’s room, especially, would be super weird will all the furniture against the wall:
bad_layout
You’d break your neck trying to have a conversation with someone sitting on the other sofa – plus it would impede the traffic flow through the room – so we pulled some of it off the wall and floated it.

Jill’s Layout

We landed on this arrangement:
jills_room_layout
We used the pair of chairs to separate the zones and the rugs to define them, and we left the wall opposite the fireplace open for easy traffic flow. If we’d filled that space, say with a console table, you can see how it would’ve been harder to walk from one pass-through to another:
traffic_flow
The reason why we went with this layout and not this one:
layout_1
…is that we liked how when you walked into the room through the pass-through, you could walk right into the seating area and plop right down wit yo bad self.
Traffic flow
With the first option – the sofa facing the fireplace – you would’ve walked right into the back of the sofa. Plus, it felt a lot more crammed with that option in real life than it looks in these pictures, for some reason. I guess you’ll have to take my word for it?
traffic_flow_3
Orienting your largest piece of furniture toward the focal point is a great starting place, but it’s not necessarily always the best option. We considered the focal point (the fireplace) and the traffic flow and landed on this layout.

Here’s a quick recap:
Easy steps to laying out your furniture like a designer would!



  1. Measure your room and your furniture.
  2. Use paper that you’ve cut to scale or a floor planning software to play with different layouts.
  3. Analyze how you actually use the room, in real life and not fantasy world.
  4. Decide whether you’ll need different zones or just one.
  5. Define your focal point and orient the largest piece of furniture toward it to start with. Lay everything else out symmetrically, with the seating facing each other or floating off the wall, if it works in your space.
  6. Consider the flow of traffic through and into the room. Leave about 3 feet of walking space through the main pathways.
  7. Begin tweaking from there until it feels right to you. You’ll know you’ve hit on the right layout when it functions well for what you need and it just feels right.

Have you ever had to deal with a tough room layout? How would you have done this room? What’s your least favorite board game? (I hate Scrabble. Can I still be an American?)

P.S.: Check out the rest of the Decorating 101 posts right here!

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Jill’s surprise makeover: the plan http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/jills-surprise-makeover-plan/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/07/jills-surprise-makeover-plan/#comments Tue, 01 Jul 2014 10:00:07 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20706 Two hours of pushing with no medications, not so much as a tylenol: that’s how my firstborn came into the world. He looked like a grumpy old man with pointy elf ears, and dang if I didn’t want another one almost immediately after. I forgot the puking-with-every-contraction part of labor, and felt myself romanced and […]

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Two hours of pushing with no medications, not so much as a tylenol: that’s how my firstborn came into the world. He looked like a grumpy old man with pointy elf ears, and dang if I didn’t want another one almost immediately after. I forgot the puking-with-every-contraction part of labor, and felt myself romanced and whisked away by the tightly-curled baby fists and milk-drunk baby sleep faces.
25555_898982474800_7902338_n
Room makeovers are basically the same thing. Except at no point should you be pushing eight pounds of anything out of your ladyparts.

But still: you forget the hard work, because the end result is delightful.

Right about this time last year, a few friends and I went in on a surprise makeover for a mutual friend. We had one week and about $200 to pull it off, and you can see the before-and-after here.

It was exhausting and addicting, and when Erin asked me if I wanted to do it again, I said yes so hard and so fast. We weren’t planning on making over a room: this one just happened.

This is our mutual friend Jill and her (gorgeous) family.
jill
They live in the house where her hubby grew up, but they’re renting it from his mom, so they haven’t wanted to invest the time or energy in really making it their own. They’re a busy family – probably just like yours – and the thought of tackling their living room felt a little overwhelming, plus they weren’t sure how long they’d be in this house, so they just… lived with it.

Jill talked all the time about the changes she would make if they had the time or budget… and Erin and I just steepled our fingers in a Finger Pyramid of Evil Contemplation and said “Eeeexcellent,” taking notes of all her preferences so we could surprise her with a makeover while they were out of town.

This is their living room:
living_room_before
These are the things Jill never loved about it:
1. It’s DARK. Like, really, really dark. There’s just that one tiny window and a door with a small window for natural light. All the trim is grolive (a word Erin and I invented for gray-olive) and the dark orange-wood bookcases and stone wall just contributed to the cave-like quality.
living_room_before_2
2. The layout is TOUGH. Right now there’s just the one sofa, with a distant recliner in the far corner. It looks like this:
layout
The room is long and skinny with a million doors and pass-throughs. Total head-scratcher for Erin and me on how to lay it out better! As it was, if they had company coming over, one person sat on the sofa, one person sat on the recliner in the far corner, one person sat on the fireplace hearth and one person sat on the floor. Basically impossible to have a real conversation.

Ready for our devilish scheme?

The challenge:

Completely make over this room with new furniture and new everything, for under $500, in one week, without Jill suspecting a thing.

We originally thought we had about a month to plan before Jill’s family was going out of town for a few days. But then at the last minute, we realized they were leaving for a different trip and would be gone for a week, so we’d have more time to execute the plan. However, they were leaving the next day. And we’d have one week to do everything: the shopping, the painting, the projects, everything.

*Nervous gulp.*

The process:

1. Analyze Jill’s style.
Obviously we wanted to make a room that Jill would love, so it’s not about Erin’s style or mine. You can see how we analyzed Carrie’s style – and how you can do this for yourself – in this post.

Jill’s pinterest boards were a big help. Her style skews pretty traditional/transitional, and she loves blues and neutrals. Here are a few rooms she had pinned:
calming-basement

Favorite Paint Colors blog

3cb3cc1e389859d0da986b03f69af7fe
Atlanta Homes Mag

cozy-bedroom-design-w8zqj7a8
BHG

That’s just a small sample, but the girl is consistent: soft blues, neutrals, traditional furniture. Makes it easy for us!

2. Find a better layout
We’ll talk about this in the next post, but we just couldn’t leave the room this way: it didn’t function for them. I don’t care how pretty a room is if it doesn’t work for the people who live there. Finding a more functional layout was a major priority for us.

3. Create a design plan
Did I mention we had one tiny week and $500 itty, bitty dollars? We had to use what we could find on a rush, in a week. So here’s the design plan.

The plan

The lead fabric
Remember in this post when we talked about the major mistake to avoid when you’re redoing a room, and how starting with a lead fabric will solve all your problems, fix your life and help you lose ten pounds? Meet our lead fabric:
Neutral bird fabric
Erin found several yards of that at a yard sale. For $3. MAJOR score. It looks just like the bird fabric in Jill’s inspiration photo above, and it has all the blue/grays and neutrals that she loves, with a nice transitional bent. (I have no idea what that fabric is called or who makes it! Anyone know?) (UPDATE: Thanks, Liz! It’s Heritage House Windsong fabric, which runs $30/yard. Win!)

We also liked that the birds are a little more saturated in color, so to keep everything feeling updated and fresh, we decided to bring in some graphic blacks and whites with teals and that beautiful rust color.

Here was our rough working plan:
Transitional living room design plan
Jill’s husband and her mother-in-law (who owns the house) were privy to the plan, so we knew we had carte blanche permission to change anything, including painting the bookshelves. The only restraint? One week and $500.

Did I mention we only had a week?

And $500?

And needed all new furniture?

NO PROBLEM! *nervous laughter.* *runs and hides in a hole.*

Stay tuned for all the details! What do you think — could you do a whole room in a week? It seems easier when it’s someone else’s house for some reason. Said the girl who’s on Year Six of making over our house.

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Rock the House-iversary: Tips for first-time homebuyers http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/rock-the-house-iversary-tips-for-first-time-homebuyers/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/rock-the-house-iversary-tips-for-first-time-homebuyers/#comments Thu, 26 Jun 2014 10:00:53 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20694 Thanks to Dave Ramsey’s ELP program for sponsoring this post! Six years! That’s how long we’ve left our master bathroom unfinished. I mean, that’s how long ago we bought our house. (Here’s our house story and what it looked like when we bought.) We were such babies then! What did we even know about anything? […]

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Thanks to Dave Ramsey’s ELP program for sponsoring this post!

Six years! That’s how long we’ve left our master bathroom unfinished. I mean, that’s how long ago we bought our house. (Here’s our house story and what it looked like when we bought.)
house_exterior_2_wm
We were such babies then! What did we even know about anything? NOTHING. We knew nothing about anything, so we signed up to be responsible for a ramshackle foreclosure with poop smeared in the carpet, and celebrated when they let us buy it!
us
Now that we’re old and so very wise, and we know all the things about everything, I’m sharing my sage advice on buying your first home. Okay, maybe not. But we have learned a couple things, and if you’re a homeowner, I hope you’ll share your tips in the comments too!

What we learned about the buying process:

  • Get a good real estate agent
    Y’all, I have no patience for the HGTV shows where the real estate agent tries to talk the buyers into spending every single red cent the bank says it will loan them. I wish there was a “smack” button on the remote that I could press and it would just slap the real estate agent, gently but firmly.

    Find a real estate agent who has your best interests in mind. We used my mom, because hello, her only ulterior motive was trying to find us a house RightNextDoor to her. If you’re house hunting and your mom refuses to get her real estate license just so she can help you buy (the nerve!), start with an Endorsed Local Provider through this link. They’ll recommend someone who lives near you and who has the heart of a teacher so you end up in the right house at the right price.

  • Buy within your budget

    Because our goal was to pay off our house very quickly, this is how we decided how much house we could afford. We calculated the total mortgage amount assuming:

    • A maximum monthly payment of 25% of our take-home pay, so if you take home $3000 a month for example, that’d be a $750 monthly payment. (We were both working at the time, but we were living on one income as “practice” in case we had babies and one of us decided to stay home with them. So we calculated our max monthly payment as 25% of one income. That gave us the future flexibility to quit one job if we wanted.)
    • No more than a 15-year mortgage
    • With a 20% down payment.

    You can play with the fun little calculator below to get a very rough idea of how much that would be for you. (Click on “monthly payment,” plug in 1/4 of your income in the box and change the “program/rate” to “15-year fixed” to see what that number would be for you.)


    That number for us was about, oh, half of what the bank said we could “afford,” but buying very conservatively made it possible for us to pay it off quickly. People will think you’re crazy for buying less house than you “can,” but when those mortgage payments are affordable for your income and you get it paid off in 15 years or less, you’ll be laughing all the way to the bank sock store.

    Having a required payment that’s only 25% of your take-home pay also leaves room in your budget to handle things that go wrong. The A/C goes out or you need a new water heater, and you don’t have to decide whether to eat or pay your mortgage. ‘Cuz I really like to eat.

  • Inspect that junk
    I know that when you’re already spending more money than you’ve ever spent in your life, it’s super tempting to surpass the home inspection. Everything looks great! What could go wrong?!

    NOPE.

    My dad is a home inspector, so he’s always telling me about the straight-up CRAY he has discovered in houses that look completely normal. In one case, the gas from the furnace was venting inside the attic. So if the unsuspecting home buyers had turned on the furnace, the house would’ve burned to the ground. In another case, the house had no septic system: all the plumbing pipes just went right into the floor of the house to nowhere. (It was a flip and the investors were either crooks or delightfully stupid.)

    SO often, you can recoup the cost of the inspection by negotiating with the sellers based on what the inspector finds. It’s totally some of the best money you can spend.

  • Just say no to PMI!
    Private mortgage insurance is what you’re required to pay if you don’t put down a big enough down payment, usually 20% of the purchase price. That can be as much as $1,000 a year for every $100,000 you spend on a house that you’re just throwing away at nothing. If you’d saved up a down payment before buying, you could avoid that PMI, and put all that extra money on the mortgage to pay off your house faster.
    money flying out the window
    Super-helpful stock photo of money flying out the window. I felt like we needed a photo right about now. (source: shutterstock)

    (And if you currently have PMI but you’ve paid down your house enough that you could refinance, consider this a friendly nudge to go do that! I think it’s really easy to get carried away with saving money on little things, like clipping a $1 coupon, but neglecting the HUGE ways to save money, like refinancing to get rid of PMI.)

Enough with the nerdy stuff!

Let’s talk about the fun part of home-buying: what to look for in a house. Now I’ll just go ‘head and confess: sometimes late at night, when the kids are asleep and the house is quiet, I get on my laptop and secretly… house hunt. We’re still years away from moving, but I’m not going to let that stop me from daydreaming and getting emotionally attached to houses I can’t have.

Must-haves: These are the things we didn’t really think to look for in a house but now we appreciate/are spoiled with:
(List of house priorities are different for every family, of course, but this is what we’ve found we love.)

  • Walk-in garage.
    In our part of the country where it’s hilly, there are lots of homes with drive-under garages, so the garage is under the main level and you have to walk upstairs after you park your car. The convenience of walking right into the kitchen from the garage rocks. We’ll never, ever buy a house with a drive-under garage.
  • Driive-under garage vs walk-in garage

    home photos from here

  • Convenient laundry room.
    Our laundry room is right in the middle of all the bedrooms, so there’s no hauling laundry baskets across the house or downstairs. SO SMART.
  • Laundry room makeover on a TINY budget at View Along the Way. Come see more at: http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2013/01/laundry-room-reveal/

  • Tons of natural light.
    There are some things you can do to trick your house into looking brighter, but there’s just no substitute for a million windows!
  • Living room sofa

  • Level lot.
    Because our yard is level, we can use all of it. That’s not so easy to find in the Atlanta area, so we’re very grateful! (Of course, we completely rednecked-it-out, but alas.)
  • Nailed it: back yard inspiration

  • Great location
    I mean, everyone knows that, right? But I think when you’re in the throes of house-hunting, it can be easy to fall in love with the bigger/better house that’s in the less-good location. We really didn’t think about and value location as much as we should have, but fortunately we landed in a good spot regardless. What I appreciate about our neighborhood is:
    • It’s quiet — no yappy dogs, habitually blaring speakers or road noise
    • Lots of tall trees, curvy roads and peaceful farmland nearby
    • Quick hop to the grocery store.
  • Easy layout
    You can change just about anything you don’t like in a house, but when the layout isn’t easy to live in, you’re looking at major reno work, headaches, and a life of regrets. (Okay, hopefully it won’t be as dramatic as that.) Find a house with a layout that works for the way you live your life, and all you’ll have to do is change surfaces, paint colors and finishes.

    Do you like how easy I made that sound? Just a quick snap of your fingers and the finishes will be updated! Easy peez!

On the other hand… stuff we didn’t care about.
I have to believe that the average home-buyer doesn’t decide what they’re buying based on the paint colors like they do on House Hunters. I just need to believe that, regardless of whether it’s true. Paint is so easy to change! If you can have a little vision, you can save GOBS of money by buying a house that needs a little work. Here are the things we didn’t care about when we were shopping:

  • Paint colors.
  • State of the appliances. (When you’re spending tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars on a house, appliances are a drop in the bucket. Get a house with a good floor plan, and buy new appliances if necessary.)
  • Popcorn ceilings (Easy fix! Here’s how.)
  • Wood finishes. (Our railing was an ugly blonde wood but it didn’t take much to make that over. Post on that here.)
  • Lighting. (Look past the boob light! That’s an easy update.)
  • Holes or damage in the sheetrock. (Seems intimidating to patch sheetrock, but you can do eeeet! Tutorial here.)

Obviously what’s important to you in a home will probably be different than what’s important to us, but I’d recommend making a list of your must-haves, your nice-to-haves and your deal-breakers, and relying heavily on that. Get a good real estate agent who understands your priorities, and know when to settle (with paint colors and finishes) and when to be picky (with layout and location).

Lemme just say: if you’re getting ready to buy right now, I’m totally jealous. House hunting is super fun! (I get emails from readers who are just buying all the time, and I get super giddy on their behalf, every time. I’m probably more excited than they are. There’s just so much promise in a new-to-you house!)



Great tips for first-time homebuyers!

I’m dying to hear what you think! What are your non-negotiables? What tips would you give someone who’s about to buy for the first time?

This post was sponsored by Dave Ramsey’s ELP program, but all opinions are my own, as always!

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New rug: in which I call a truce with Andy’s feet http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/new-rug-call-truce-andys-feet/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/new-rug-call-truce-andys-feet/#comments Thu, 19 Jun 2014 10:00:22 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20621 When my daughter turns 30 and is allowed to begin dating, I’ll tell her to marry a man just like her daddy, except she needs to test his feet. She needs to make the man she loves walk on a jute rug and see if he can do it without crying. It’s just that I […]

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When my daughter turns 30 and is allowed to begin dating, I’ll tell her to marry a man just like her daddy, except she needs to test his feet. She needs to make the man she loves walk on a jute rug and see if he can do it without crying.

It’s just that I didn’t know Andy had tender, delicate princess feet until this post, when I finally bought my long-awaited jute rug for the living room and his feet responded with outrage, confusion and tears. They could not tolerate the knobby, natural texture that I happened to love.

Fortunately everything else about Andy makes up for this foot flaw, but his feet have played a very large role in our living room design so far. I feel like they need their own twitter account or something. Except no one would follow because all the tweets would be whiny and self-absorbed.
twitter
We’ve been living with this paisley rug in the living room for way too long. It’s nice and cushy and soft, but it just doesn’t fit with anything else that’s going on in the room, and it’s too small. (This is an old, old pic, but you get the idea.)

I wanted a neutral, natural rug with a lot of texture so I could change out the decor according to my whims, and one that was large enough for the sofas to sit completely on the rug. When the jute rug got vetoed by The Feet, I went back to the drawing board.

Turns out it’s pretty near impossible to find a natural rug that soft enough for what Andy’s tootsies require, and large enough for the room. I read every single review on every single jute rug that is being manufactured in the world today. I thought maybe if I could find a rug that’s a jute-chenille or jute-boucle combo, I might be able to sneak it past his feet, so I turned my attention to combo rugs.

We went to West Elm and let Andy’s feet interact with West Elm’s jute-chenille herringbone rug:
we
The Feet agreed they could mildly tolerate it, but did not love it. “That’s enough for me!!”, I cried joyously!

But West Elm only makes their rugs in a 9×12 size, and I was hoping for something large enough to fit both sofas. This is our current situation:
living_room_layout
But I wanted something bigger that furniture could sit on, like this:
living_room_layout2
The way I see it with rug sizes, you have three options:

  1. All the furniture all the way on the rug (ideal)
  2. All the furniture all the way off the rug (what we had already)
  3. The front feet of the furniture on the rug

This is just my personal opinion, but I prefer when furniture is all the way on the rug. I just didn’t love the idea of the front feet of the furniture hanging onto the rug for dear life while the back of it falls off a cliff. But an 11×13 size rug that looked like what I want just didn’t exist, and I saw some beautiful rooms with the half-off-half-on look that convinced me I can go with it.
bohemian
So after months of scouring the web for a HUGE rug that didn’t exist (in my price range), I turned my attention to finding a 9×12 rug that would be soft enough. The West Elm rug was a strong contender, but then I found this one from Home Decorators that looks similar, but is 6 inches wider and a foot longer, for about $200 cheaper. ($599 at West Elm vs. $399 on sale at Home Decorators.) I crossed my fingers and hoped it wasn’t more rough than the one at West Elm and placed my order.

It’s heee-re!
Living room with jute-chenille rug!
The larger size makes our living room feel MUCH bigger!
Soft jute chenille rug
It arrived with a bit of a stench. It’s had a couple days to air out now and the smell is almost gone, but all the gorgeous neutral texture remains and I am SO in love with it.
Jute chenille rug in a living room -- review
It makes a perfect neutral layer for me to layer other rugs on top of now, too, and it keeps the couch from sliding all over the floor.
Living room sofa
But what you really want to know is, how are Andy’s feet coping? He LOVES it!! It is his new favorite thing in the whole world!**

**He said he think it’s still a little rough but we can keep it, so I’m not prying.

My normal human feet think it’s as soft as a natural rug could possibly be, and it’ll feel even better when we get a cushy rug pad underneath it. (We ordered this one and it should arrive today.)
feet
You know I can’t get rid of my white sofas til the kids are gone (here’s why you need a white sofa with kids!) — but I am hoping to figure out a replacement for the ottoman soon. It’s half-dead and needs to be tossed. The pleather is peeling and that blanket I threw over it for pics is absolutely necessary.

But in the meantime? I’m pleased to say that The Feet and I have found common rug — er, ground. We’re living peaceably: Andy, his feet and me.
twitter
Has anyone else found a nice soft neutral rug option? Do you think 30 is too soon for Mila to date?

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Garage Door Drama! http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/garage-door-drama/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/garage-door-drama/#comments Mon, 16 Jun 2014 10:00:00 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20560 These are important life lessons we learned while installing garage doors for the first time: Always check the weather first. But don’t believe anything it says. Because it will rain the second you get all your stuff out into the driveway. Installing garage doors is a very DIY-able project. Or, it can be a snowballing […]

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These are important life lessons we learned while installing garage doors for the first time:
  • Always check the weather first.
  • But don’t believe anything it says.
  • Because it will rain the second you get all your stuff out into the driveway.
  • Installing garage doors is a very DIY-able project.
  • Or, it can be a snowballing saga that includes multiple trips to the hardware store, and one dramatic trip to the ER.
  • But it’s very DIY-able!

Night. Mare. Project. But before we get to all that, here’s what we were dealing with:
Garage doors before
#Ballers.

Want a close-up of that goodness?
Garage door before
That’s what you call the shabby chic look. We’ve been rocking that look pretty hard since we bought this house, because who wants to drop $700 on something as unfun as garage doors, amiright? I’d rather go on vacation. Or buy 400 socks. Or 2.5 knobs.

But now that it’s done, our house looks 46.5% better, and I’d say it was well worth it.
Garage doors after
However. I won’t tell you it was fun, though there were points where Andy and I both collapsed into laughter… mostly in order to avoid tears and collective throwing-of-all-the-things.

I just ordered up some simple doors online to be picked up in our local Home Depot. If you really want to spend some money on your garage doors, you can get beautiful carriage-style doors like this:
carriage garage doors

Southern Living

But we opted not to spend the money on that kind, because with the arrangement of our house, you don’t see the garage doors from the front of the house. You don’t even see them unless you drive past the house to the end of the culdesac, turn around, come back and crane your neck to look. Which would be creepy.
House exterior with architectural roof
Plus, I don’t think the carriage style really fits with the style of our house. Totally my opinion here, but I just think they fit better on craftsman style homes or cottage homes, not our little neo-colonial. So we opted for simple, basic doors with windows across the top, like this:
sample garage doors
First we cleared our piles of junk and unfinished projects out of the garage and into the driveway. This is about 10 percent of it.
IMG_20140525_151858
Then Andy got to work taking out the first old door. You just unscrew each panel, starting at the top, and they come right off:
uninstalling_garage_doorsjpg
Five seconds after we got the door completely removed, with a ton of our stuff strewn across the driveway, we heard it: THUNDER! Seconds later, the skies opened up and dumped bucketfuls of warm summer rain all over our stuff. We could do nothing but shrug helplessly and laugh.

Here’s Andy, chillin’ in the garage reading the garage door installation manual – with the gaping hole where the door should’ve been – while a raging thunderstorm ravaged our yard and our things.
reading
Our garage isn’t normally that messy!

Okay yes, yes it is.

Once the storm passed, we got back to installing the new door. Andy just screwed in each panel, one at a time, following the instructions in the manual. It only took him about 10 minutes, mostly because he had lots of help from resident four-year-olds who helpfully touched and leaned on things after they were installed. Thanks, buddy.
Installing a garage door
But here’s the major womp-womp moment. This is how the door looked once it was installed:
garage door with windows
Tragedy!! Our garage door opening apparently wasn’t quite a standard height, so the windows looked awkwardly cut off at the top. Also yes, that IS a child-sized potty. On our driveway. What?

We knew this current window situation wouldn’t fly, so we tried moving the window panel down one section so it looked like this:
Garage door windows
And thus began a period of anguished decision-making, wherein I felt sure that I hated this look but did not want to force Andy to uninstall and return both garage doors. I tried SO HARD to like it, you guys. I even asked everyone on instagram if they thought it looked dated like I did. One hundred percent of people hated it like I did, and I lost the wife-of-the-year contest AGAIN.

Off to Home Depot we went for plain doors with no windows. Take two on the uninstall-reinstall situation.

Once again, in the middle of installing the first door, it rained. It was starting to get comical. Then, when we were finally cranking along and we had 1.5 doors installed, two-year-old Mila was “helping” me prep the door panels for Andy, and she cut her foot on something, gushing bright red blood everywhere. The amount of blood was completely disproportionate to what had happened, and I felt sure she had lost her foot. We ran Weston to the neighbor’s house and spent that whole evening in the E.R. Yep. Fortunately she was totally fine – such a little trooper – but oh em GEEEEEE.

Not my fave project of all time. Let’s just say that.

The good news is, it’s done.
Garage doors after
The top of the doors are still cut off a little bit, but I think these doors disguise it a little better than the windows. We even debated cutting down the trim around the top of the door to expose more of the door, but then we just shrugged and decided it’s good enough for now.

And then we laughed. It was kind of a deranged, awkward laugh that was too loud and a little bit scary. And we held each other and were just thankful to have survived.

Andy even replaced our old garage door opener, which used to sound like an angry, dying dinosaur, like this:

“RAWWR RAWWWWR RAAAAAARRRRRR!!!!!!!!”

But now it quietly, happily hums, like this: “(mmmmmmmm.)”

I was going to write a post about how easy and DIY-friendly it is to install your own garage doors. And honestly, all we did was follow the instruction manuals that came with the things. What threw us off was the nice helping of everything-that-can-go-wrong-did-go-wrong. Without all that extra stuff, it all would’ve been done in one Saturday. So you can do this. Rah rah!

And now that we have a new roof and garage doors that DON’T have rotten holes in them, the exterior of the house is really coming along.
Exterior with new garage doors
There are some rotten spots on the house’s trim where the paint has peeled – you can see it in some of the garage door pics above – so we’re getting bids from painters this week to fix that stuff, and I have a fun little DIY update planned for the entry soon. Then we’ll call the exterior done… ish?

I’m not even going to pull anymore weeds that come up. We’re just going to say they’re part of our landscaping plan.

Tell me you’ve had a DIY nightmare happen to you too! Also tell me you think those are the most beautiful garage doors you’ve ever seen! Thank you for your prompt compliance to the emotional neediness I’m feeling as a result of this experience.

P.S.: I was interviewed for the “Living with More Style than Cash” web radio show. We chatted about what fuels the DIY projects around here, my controversial posts and yard saling secrets. You can hear it here. Just be warned: I’m awkward. It’s just a real thing that’s unavoidable.

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Raise the roof! http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/raise-roof/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/06/raise-roof/#comments Fri, 06 Jun 2014 10:00:54 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=20486 You can say what you want, but there is nothing more delicious in this entire world than silky, bouncy toddler pigtails. It’s just that I’m completely powerless against them. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE WARN ME ABOUT THIS?! The cuteness drains me. If I was a real blogger, I’d have a good transition here so you felt […]

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You can say what you want, but there is nothing more delicious in this entire world than silky, bouncy toddler pigtails.
mila_run_WM
It’s just that I’m completely powerless against them. WHY DIDN’T ANYONE WARN ME ABOUT THIS?!
mila_run_2_WM
The cuteness drains me.

If I was a real blogger, I’d have a good transition here so you felt like the pigtail pictures relate to our new roof, and not just that I went to edit photos of our roof and got distracted by these pics of my little one. But we’re running a pretty rough-shod operation around here, and the call of the pigtails was strong today.

We got a new roof! The old one was about four seconds away from rotting through and basically disintegrating with the next light drizzle.

And it looked sad, old and dreary. Here it is when we bought the house:
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
And with a few years’ more wear and tear:
before_sad_face_2
Doesn’t that break your little heart?

It’s okay, dry your eyes! The ugly duckling has blossomed into a beautiful swan.
House exterior with architectural roof
That roof has been a long time comin’, and we had to fight for it. A couple years ago there was a hailstorm which caused a lot of roof damage in our area. After the storm, the roofing companies came out of the woodwork, and one by one, every one of our neighbors got their roofs replaced and paid for by their home insurance companies. But OUR insurance company was all, “NOPE! Your roof looks SUPER DUPER FAB! The storm must have gone around your yard.”

We fought them and they ended up sending us a little money but nothing near what it cost to get a new roof. So we set that money aside, patched some of the damage and quickly changed insurance companies.

Then a few weeks ago, after another hailstorm, a roofing company approached us, and coordinated with our new, improved home insurance company to get a brand new roof approved and paid for by insurance! We have to pitch in $1000 for our deductible, but this is something that we absolutely needed to do – years ago – and we were thrilled to make that trade.

We negotiated with the roofing company to get a free upgrade to architectural shingles. So we got to trade these boring flat shingles (called “three-tab shingles”):
OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
for architectural shingles, which are pricier, more durable and long-lasting, and look more beautiful and interesting. See how much more textural they are?
Architectural shingles
Secretly, I was just excited about how much better it made our house look. But my dad is a home inspector, and he came over right after we got our roof installed, and you would’ve thought we won the lottery. He was all, “Oh this is AMAZING. CONGRATULATIONS, you guys! Your whole house is so much better now! This changes everything!” –so then I started getting excited because apparently this is a major upgrade in the life of the house or something.

But let’s talk about how it looks some more.

There’s this new thing in roofing called a drip edge which hangs over the front of the house in order to keep rain from dripping down and rotting out the fascia boards. I don’t know if it’s a new invention or whatever, but it’s a new code requirement, at least here in Georgia, according my dad. I think it makes things look super sharp by outlining the roof with thick black line.

See it?
roof_drip_edge_before_after
It’s like eyeliner for your house! It makes everything look so snazzy! Also, allegedly it is functional.
house_exterior_2_wm
In case it’s not incredibly obvious, we opted not to DIY this job, because:
1. My klutziness on a roof would be a death sentence.
2. It would take us six years.
3. We are not masochists.
installing a roof
A crew of about eight very hardworking men took the whole old roof off and replaced the new one over one 12-hour-day, and all I could think was, those guys are underpaid. I have so much respect for roofing installers.

Also, have I mentioned I love Mila’s pigtails?

Let’s do another before and after!
before_sad_face_2
House exterior with architectural roof
Also, can we back up and talk about how GIDDY it makes me to see our landscaping actually growing in? Check out the difference between those last two pics. It’s starting to look like real grown-ups live here!

Don’t be fooled.

Have you ever had to get a roof replaced? Should I just start posting pics of Mila’s hair and skip the house stuff?

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