* View Along the Way * http://www.viewalongtheway.com Starts and Stops on the Journey to a DIY Home Mon, 20 Oct 2014 04:36:55 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.4 Decor for the birds, and I need your help! http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/decor-birds-need-help/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/decor-birds-need-help/#comments Thu, 16 Oct 2014 10:00:31 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21448 Remember how we’re creating a cozy, comfortable bedroom in a safe house for victims of sex trafficking? Yes? I hoped you would, but I thought I should probably recap that, like every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. “Previously, on View Along the Way…” First a quick note about the last post. We talked about how we’ll […]

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Remember how we’re creating a cozy, comfortable bedroom in a safe house for victims of sex trafficking? Yes?

I hoped you would, but I thought I should probably recap that, like every episode of Grey’s Anatomy. “Previously, on View Along the Way…”

First a quick note about the last post. We talked about how we’ll lay out the bedroom, and you guys brought tons of awesome ideas in the comments section. The most common suggestion was to do an L-configuration, and I just wanted to show you really quick why we can’t go that route. Check this out:
corner_beds
That’s what I call the just-sleep-with-your-feet-in-the-air layout, or the gently-jam-your-feet-through-the-wall layout. (ha!) It seems SO good in your head until you come face-to-face with the actual scale of the room, right?

You also had lots of great suggestions for loft beds, and I think in any other tiny-space situation, that’d be the most perfect idea. Ultimately we talked about it and felt that we should lean away from anything that might feel institutional in any way, and even if space is tight, aim for a homey feel above all else.

So that’s the sitch. I love you. I love your ideas. I just needed to explain that so you didn’t take it personally that I seemed to ignore them. Let’s keep being friends, okay?

Now let’s talk about the birds! The folks who run this trafficking ministry (Out of Darkness) suggested it might be cool if we could find a way to incorporate a symbol of freedom in the room. They suggested doves or butterflies. I LOVED the challenge and set out thinking about how we could do something like that in a way that feels modern and age-appropriate.

Obviously, this could go cheeseball in a heartbeat – and I can already feel you guys worrying that this is going to lean 1990s-Lisa-Frank (butterfly decals EVERYWHERE!). I could hear you cringing through your screen when I mentioned it in the last post.

Am I right? You can admit it.

No worries! I think we can do this and make it cool! Stick with me here.

First I hopped on etsy and looked for art that might work. I found a few things that said “freedom” to me, like these:
safe_room_art

Sources: 1, 2, 3

But nothing felt quite right, or high-impact enough.

Then I found these photos:
bird_girl

Amazing paper styling by Stuart McLachlan

87b4bd789fa2edb9e4594add02df2c48
And I was all, “GASP! A bird INSTALLATION!”

That’s IT. Done. It’s happening.

First thing I did was call up my friends at 163 Design Company, who made these wood-and-canvas letters for me:

I was like, “uhhh, guys. I think I want… some kind of birds? Doing some kind of thing?” And they were like, “We’re on it!”

I can’t gush enough about the family behind 163 Designs. They go above and beyond to design whatever you can imagine and create it for you, and they were SO excited to just donate whatever we needed for the ladies in the safe house. I kind of mushy-gushy love them. Make sure you swing by their shop!

The plan is to do wood-and-canvas birds flying across one of the walls – maybe a few stray birds escaping up to the ceiling? I think it’ll be high-impact and kinda different.

Here’s where you come in.

I’d like the bird display to represent something bigger, something cooler, and I’d LOVE for you to be part of it! If you’re up for it, I’d love for you to “sponsor” a bird. Here’s how it will work:

“Sponsorship” of one of the birds means that you’ll do one or both of these things:

  1. Commit to pray for the ladies who come through the safe house, long-term.
  2. Send a note of encouragement. You can write a little to the ladies who will stay here – handwritten if possible! – and send it to me. It can be just a short note, or a verse that means something to you, a poem or… limerick? Perhaps a haiku? I’m getting carried away.

    We’ll collect all the letters and bind them up in a book which we’ll leave on the dresser. I’ll put a little note in the front explaining who you are, and that each of the birds represents real people who care about them and are praying for their future.

    (A few ideas for your letter: keep it basic, stuff you’d say to anyone who’s coming through something tough, and encouraging! My letter will probably include a few Bible verses I love, and the general idea that Jesus loves them and is for them.)

Every night when they go to bed and see those birds, they’ll know that actual people – YOU! – care what happens to them and love them and are rooting for them. Cool, right?!!

Answer: IT IS SO COOL.

What do you think? Are you in this with me? If so, you can write a letter to these ladies and mail it to:

Safe House Letters
3721 New Macland Rd
Ste 200-155
Powder Springs, GA 30127

The catch is that we have VERY LITTLE TIME. I need to receive all the letters by October 24, 2014, so you’ve got to do this today. Ya with me?

If you can’t make the handwritten-letter thing happen, you can send me an email and I’ll print it out. Printed is better than nothing, but handwritten trumps everything else. Am I right?

So. What do you think about this crazy bird installation idea? Are you up for sponsoring one of the birds and letting these ladies know you care about them?

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Safe house layout and inspiration http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/safe-house-layout-and-inspiration/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/safe-house-layout-and-inspiration/#comments Thu, 09 Oct 2014 10:00:41 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21404 I’m SO excited about this project, guys! We’re going to be making over a bedroom in a safe house for victims of sex trafficking. This will be the first place they come when they are rescued off the streets of Atlanta. They’re coming out of a life of abuse and exploitation, for the first time […]

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I’m SO excited about this project, guys! We’re going to be making over a bedroom in a safe house for victims of sex trafficking. This will be the first place they come when they are rescued off the streets of Atlanta. They’re coming out of a life of abuse and exploitation, for the first time into a place of safety, rest and hope. And WE get to be a part of that! How cool is this. I mean.

By the way, YOU GUYS. Let’s just talk about you for a second. I have gotten so many emails from you asking how you can help and how you be a part of this project. There are several ways for you to get involved. Stay tuned to a future post for more on that!

Okay, here’s the room right now:
2

The team from Out of Darkness has given us some goals for the room, considering where these ladies are coming from:

  • Needs to sleep two women.
  • Must feel comfortable, warm, homey, inviting: not too pristine or fragile.
  • Should evoke feelings of peace, refuge and safety.
  • Nothing that feels too much like a hotel.
  • Bonus points if we can incorporate symbols of freedom, like butterflies or doves.

Most of the girls only come to the safe house with about seven days’ worth of clothes, so we also need a little bit of clothing storage, although there’s also a nice little closet they can use for that.

Fun challenge, right?! I know. I’m giddy.

The challenges

This room is SMALL. Also: it’s in a basement with zero windows, so there’s no natural light at all.

First up: designing the layout.

The room is very small, with a little bump-out closet with sliding doors:
empty_room_layout
This is the other side looking toward the closet doors:
6
I played around with the idea of doing bunk beds for space reasons.
bunk_Beds
But the ceilings are low in that room and I thought it might feel claustrophobic on the top bunk.

So we decided to go with two twin beds, in virtually the only configuration you can do in this room:
twin_beds
I don’t love how tight it’s going to be between the closet doors and the bed, but we’re looking on the bright side here: you can pick out your clothes in the morning without getting out of bed! It’s LUXURY!

For clothes storage, we’re going to find one small dresser that will also double as a shared nightstand. (Not an easy task, I’m finding!)
twin_beds_with_dresser
See how tiny that room is?

I mean, COZY. It’s cozy. Like a nice little nest.

BTW: Here’s a post on how to space-plan your living room!

Next up: the inspiration

I recruited my good buddy Erin to help with this project, and we started brainstorming.

Right now the rest of the Safe House bedrooms are decorated with quilts, wrought iron beds and lots of warm colors. It’s beautifully decorated in a traditional style and feels very homey and comfortable.

Quilts say: comfort. Home. Love. But they’re usually very traditional or country. How can we get that feeling of comfortable, cozy, homey, with a modern, young spin?

Then we found this photo and we were both zapped with insta-inspiration!
barn quilt
It’s a quilt design, but it feels modern and updated. What if we could do a modern, almost avant-garde take on a quilt? Happy, vibrant colors in a graphic layout, but still textural and cozy?

We’re going to bring back the quilt, y’all! We’re working with a super-talented, very sweet friend who’s going to actually make quilts for us, and the quilt design will be our lead piece. (Click here to learn how to make decorating easy by finding a lead piece!)

We’re still working through the rest of the design decisions, so I’m going to share where we are – and ask for your opinions! – in the next post. We need to make some quick decisions and get moving!

What do you think about this plan? Can quilts be modern and fresh?

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What we’re going to do together next: the Safe House http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/going-together-next-safe-house/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/going-together-next-safe-house/#comments Tue, 07 Oct 2014 17:33:10 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21428 Do you remember being 11 years old? You were probably in 5th grade, learning what a prime number was, still trying to get a handle on what all this puberty business is about and, if you were me, not understanding most of what happened in Forrest Gump. You were innocent; you were fragile; the world […]

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Do you remember being 11 years old? You were probably in 5th grade, learning what a prime number was, still trying to get a handle on what all this puberty business is about and, if you were me, not understanding most of what happened in Forrest Gump.

You were innocent; you were fragile; the world was still a mystery.

This will blow your mind: the average age of entry into sex trafficking is between 11 and 14 years old. Yep, it’s happening right here in America. Young girls are being coerced into the sex trade and enslaved. They are exploited, beaten down, forced to do things they never would have agreed to. They are enslaved; they cannot escape, and if they could, where would they run?
shutterstock_218899729

shutterstock

They should be in elementary school.

When human trafficking victims are recruited at that age – the average age of entry – their life expectancy from that point is seven years.

That could have been you or me, but for the grace of God.

Stick with me here – we’re getting to DIY/decorating stuff in just a second. The more I’ve learned about human trafficking, the more stunned and helpless I’ve felt. The problem is enormous. There are an estimated 300,000 sex trafficking victims here in the U.S. In Atlanta, where I live, it’s especially rampant.

But guess what! You and I are going to do something to help. Something very, very small in the grand scheme, but it’s something. We’re going to give them a comfortable place to land.

I’m partnering with the Atlanta Dream Center’s ministry called Out of Darkness, which aims to reach, rescue and restore victims of commercial sex exploitation. Here’s how it works: the victims call Out of Darkness and they are rescued – picked up from wherever they are, at whatever hour of the day or night – and taken to a safe house in the Atlanta area.

At the safe house, they’re given rest. Refuge. Safety. Hope.

They get new clothes, medical care, love and support. They stay at the safe house for a couple weeks while Out of Darkness works to find them a long-term placement where they can recuperate, heal and rehabilitate.

We’re going to make over a room in the safe house for these girls! I’m so excited about this. The safe house at Out of Darkness is called the Solomon House. It’s a place of refuge for victims of sex trafficking, where they can come straight off the streets. Out of Darkness is renovating the Solomon House basement to make new rooms where they can take in more girls, and we’re going to fancy up one of the rooms, make it comfortable and cozy and a place of refuge and rest.

This is the room now:
2
It’s teeny-tiny and it needs to have room for two ladies to sleep at a time. We have carte blanche!

Exciting, right?

This is going to be a relatively quick project too: the whole thing has to be complete by the end of the month! I’m a little nervous about the deadline, but we’re going to make the decisions together and give them a room that feels welcoming.

I’ll show you the rough outline of a plan in the next post and we’re going to do this thing! (Quickly!)

Are you in?

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The fiddle leaf fig trick: how to keep your tree strong and healthy http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/fiddle-leaf-fig-trick-keep-tree-strong-healthy/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/10/fiddle-leaf-fig-trick-keep-tree-strong-healthy/#comments Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:00:58 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21379 I lost weight this week guys. How much do four wisdom teeth weigh? That’s how much I lost. …and I’m going to keep it off! Also I look like a chipmunk, but I like to think it’s charming and adorable, like a real chipmunk. (It’s neither charming nor adorable.) So you know how I viciously […]

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I lost weight this week guys.

How much do four wisdom teeth weigh? That’s how much I lost.

…and I’m going to keep it off!

Also I look like a chipmunk, but I like to think it’s charming and adorable, like a real chipmunk.
chipmunk
(It’s neither charming nor adorable.)

So you know how I viciously murder all plants that come near me? (Also not charming or adorable.) Well, check out how my little fiddle leaf baby is doing! Here he was when he was just a wee tot:

And now he’s taller, fuller, actually still living!
how to grow a fiddle leaf fig tree
Proud mama. *wipes tears.*

Fiddle leaf figs are known to be finnicky and rude, demanding in a haughty french accent that you do exactly what they request! “Put me by zee window! No, TAKE ME AWAY AT ONCE! Fetch me a – how do you say? – latte! NOW!” They’re kind of jerks, just saying.

So what the heck is going on here? Why am I, a founding member of the Black Thumb Society, keeping not just one but TWO fiddle-leaf figs alive for more than a year?
Fiddle leaf fig tips and tricks
I’ve cracked the code, buds! I figured them out. And yes, I’ll share it with you. Because you’re cute. Not like a chipmunk though. Just be thankful for that.

When my tiny fig was just growing, I started by trying to see if the soil felt moist, and watering it when it seemed dry. The leaves started turning brown and falling off, things started to look dire, and his demanding French voice started to fade and whisper weakly. Obviously I was killing him.

Then I stopped trying to predict his water needs. I actually just stopped checking how moist the soil was — because that method just doesn’t work for me. Apparently I don’t have a working hygrometer in my fingertip. (I just googled it, and “hygrometer” is a tool that measures humidity. I dropped it in this paragraph like it’s something I already knew.)

Instead, I watered it with exactly one cup of water once a week. Precisely. I disregarded all other signs, set a timer on my phone for every Saturday, and give it one cup of water.

HE LOVED IT.

As he grew, I gradually increased the water amount, and now at his full teenage level, he gets two cups of water, once a week, on the dot.
How to keep a fiddle leaf fig alive!
And he’s flourishing!

As for light, I try to leave both of my figs in the same spot. They get weird when you change things on them; they do best when they get the same light all the time, because they cannot handle change!

It’s a character flaw, but I like to think he’s working on it.
plant_reading

That’s the trick, guys: one cup of a water a week, two after it grows bigger. And don’t move them.

He’s a teenager now, but I have grand dreams of him growing huge and eating our whole house, Little Shop of Horrors style.

Elle Decor

The simple way to keep your fiddle-leaf fig healthy and growing! Who knew it was so easy?



Have you ever kept one of these guys alive for any period of time? Did you know the trick?

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A little sewing machine story http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/sewing-machine-story/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/sewing-machine-story/#comments Fri, 26 Sep 2014 13:30:35 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21317 So, no big deal, but my entire world was rocked this week and nothing will ever be the same again. If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time, you might know that I have an adversarial relationship with my sewing machine. It mocks me, you guys. I’m not imagining it. It coos to […]

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So, no big deal, but my entire world was rocked this week and nothing will ever be the same again.

If you’ve been reading here for any amount of time, you might know that I have an adversarial relationship with my sewing machine. It mocks me, you guys. I’m not imagining it.

It coos to me in a soft voice like this: “Heyyyy Kelly. I’m just a sweet little ol’ sewing machine. I’m not bad! Remember those times when you sewed straight lines? It was so much easier than you’re remembering! You didn’t shake your fist at the sky or curse the day you were born. You LOVED it. You’re just remembering it wrong. How hard can sewing be?!”

And then it winks and smiles, like a big fat jerk.

WELL.

I have spent too many hours hunched over that old machine, trying to sew a basic straight line, while the thread bunched up and ripped, or the whole machine jammed, or the CURSED THREAD REFUSED TO GO IN THE NEEDLE.
IMG_1283
There was yelling, tears, things were thrown. Andy would hear the screams of agony and approach me slowly and carefully, talking to me in soothing tones, like you would if you came upon a rabid dog.

I just couldn’t understand: if there are PEOPLE who can sew, why am I not one of them? Do I have some kind of sewing-specific disability?

Finally in the midst of a discussion about whether it’d be reasonable and prudent to simply throw the machine off a tall cliff so I could watch it smash into a million pieces while I laugh maniacally, Andy suggested that perhaps its time to try a new sewing machine.

I liked the sound of that: yes, it’s the machine’s fault! What we need to do is BUY something! Spending money is always a nice, comforting answer, isn’t it? So we hunted around and ended up with this guy. (affiliate link)
singer_quantum_Stylist_9600_sewing_machine
It’s the Singer Quantum Stylist 9960. It had great reviews and it looked like it did everything automatically, short of choosing the best fabric for your project. So we ordered it. I took it out of the box and read the manual one day, decided it seemed promising, and…

did nothing with it.

For a year.

Seriously.

There was a lot at stake here, you have to understand.

The more I let it sit there, in its package, the more I feared it. Until the time came to finally hang my new office curtains. Out of the package, they looked like this:
curtains_too_long
Given the sewing machine situation, I saw two initial options:
1. Simply raise the ceiling by approximately six inches.
2. Try to pretend like this looked good. “They’re POOLING! It’s LUXURIOUS!,” I said, too loudly and obviously lying, in an attempt to convince myself and the zero other people who were listening. I put forth an impressive effort to talk myself into liking the fact that the curtains were so long they flowed across the floor into the next room.

No dice: they looked ridiculous and it was time to finally learn the new machine. The truth would be revealed once and for all: was it my machine this whole time, or am I just a freaking idiot? (The latter would still be an option, regardless of how this turned out.)

I pinned them to a length where they would just kiss the floor.
Pinning curtain hem
(…instead of slobbering all over the floor and groping it drunkenly, like they were before.)

I set up on the dining room table, read through the manual, watched a couple youtube videos for good measure, and entered the fire.
Using a Singer Quantum Stylist 9600 sewing machine
I DID IT.

I DID IT, you guys!

Can you see the sense of calm and serenity in that photo?! The words “calm” and “serenity” have never been associated with me and a sewing machine before.
Office and foyer
I think it all came down to this: I cannot for the life of me predict what sort of exact tension measurement my machine required of me, which needed to be correct to the tenth of a percent. The NEW machine has an automatic tension adjustment. It’s invisible. It doesn’t need anything from me.

It also threads the needle AND cuts the thread itself, which is more mind-boggling to me than I’d like to admit.

This is not a review of this sewing machine: I bought it myself and was not compensated in any way. All this gushing is just genuine excitement that for once, I sat down, threaded a machine, sewed a simple hem, and was finished. There was no back-and-forth. There was no frustration. Only satisfaction.
Patterned curtains and a colorful rug
You guys, why didn’t you tell me about this?

Anyway: everything is different now. I feel like I can conquer the world, if only I can figure out how to actually cut a square piece of fabric with actual 90-degree angles. If you’ve been waiting for permission to spring for the fancy tool? DO IT.

I realize this is not an inspiring DIY project for you, but if this blog is meant to catalog the “view along the way” as we figure this DIY thing out and make our house presentable? Then this was a major, major milestone in my book. The whole WORLD IS OPENED TO ME!

Needless to say, I have spent the last few days frolicking in meadows, hand-in-hand with my new machine, pausing to kiss under a parasol. It’s been very romantic.

Have you ever realized it was a tool – and not you – causing all the problems in your life?

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Is love enough? — New curtains for the office http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/new-curtains-office/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/new-curtains-office/#comments Mon, 22 Sep 2014 10:00:57 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21323 Remember back when we made this bench out of a headboard for the entryway? (I accidentally just typed “remember when I made…” And then I laughed and erased it, because no.) I showed you my growing collection of fabric swatches I was considering for the office windows, just off the foyer: I decided on none […]

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Remember back when we made this bench out of a headboard for the entryway?

(I accidentally just typed “remember when I made…” And then I laughed and erased it, because no.)

I showed you my growing collection of fabric swatches I was considering for the office windows, just off the foyer:

I decided on none of those, because here’s what went down.

I’d been watching this fabric at Calico Corners for, seriously, a couple of years, but it was over $40/yard, and I’d end up shelling out many hundreds of dollars for four floor-to-ceiling panels, so I just couldn’t pull the trigger.
72049-601_1
(They have it at Online Fabric Store for cheaper now, but at the time, it was held hostage at Calico Corners for more than I wanted to spend.)

One day I was doing my daily browsing – it’s an addiction – of Joss & Main and I saw this!!
Joss and Main Mayra Curtain
Curtains in that fabric — already made! — for much less than it would cost me to make my own. You don’t even know how fast I clicked “order,” guys. You couldn’t even see it with the naked eye: there was just a “whoosh” sound, and it was done.

Here’s the thing: I had been agonizing over whether to do a pattern for these curtains, because the foyer rug is so colorful and busy, and the office rug is a faux cowhide with a little bit of movement in it as well.

But when I saw those curtains come up for sale, I just snagged them: bought first, thought second.

You know how designers are always saying: “All you have to do is buy what you love and your house will be amazing! It will all come together beautifully!” and other things that make you wonder what’s wrong with you?

I kinda just hoped that loving that pattern enough – and for so many years – would be enough. Because love is always enough, right? (Says no one who has been married for any period of time, ever.)
patterned_curtains_from_foyer_WM
I love it. I don’t know if it’s “too much pattern” — I don’t think so, I think it’s fun and happy — but even if you disagree, that’s cool. I’m digging the happy, comfortable direction this is headed, although there’s still MUCH to do in the office before it’s any kind of finished.
Office curtains
That’s the chandelier we made from this post, by the way, and the little rescue lamp that we rigged up to be cordless in this post.

And that’s green preschooler hand-print art on the back of the door, yes. It’s an original.

The art leaning against the wall was a One Kings Lane purchase. I’m still deciding where it’ll live. I think it’s granny chic; Andy thinks it’s granny. I know that, even though I haven’t asked him what he thinks. Sometimes, you just know better than to ask.

The fiddle leaf fig isn’t shrinking, by the way. I have two now: both actually living. I think I figured out their formula. I might do a post on that soon.
Office and foyer
You can’t see it from here, but the other side of the office has some more of that turquoise color happening on our little DIY bookshelf wall:

The curtains themselves are the BEST quality. They have hidden tabs (here’s how to make curtains with hidden tabs), and are lined and SUPER thick. The color looks amazing in person. I think the pattern looks like giant amoebas eating our wall, which is probably the next trend.
patterned_curtains_from_foyer_WM
So what do you think: is love enough? Or do you need to do a little analyzing and agonizing over a decision first?

(This post contains affiliate links.)

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Painted linoleum floor: an update! http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/painted-linoleum-floor-update/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/painted-linoleum-floor-update/#comments Thu, 11 Sep 2014 10:00:40 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21282 Thanks for all your brilliant ideas on the last post! You guys are geniuses, I tell ya. I haven’t made a decision yet. Still considering all the new ideas you suggested! A couple years ago, Andy and I got a harebrained idea to try painting the ugly linoleum floors in our laundry room. I’ll just […]

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Thanks for all your brilliant ideas on the last post! You guys are geniuses, I tell ya. I haven’t made a decision yet. Still considering all the new ideas you suggested!

A couple years ago, Andy and I got a harebrained idea to try painting the ugly linoleum floors in our laundry room.
Unpainted vinyl floors
I’ll just be real: neither of us expected it to actually work. We were planning to rip out the floors and replace them, so we figured all we stood to lose was the cost of the paint, and we could still rip out the floors if it didn’t work.

It ended up being kind of magical, and working beautifully.

(See the whole tutorial on how to paint your floors here.) I still get a lot of questions about how the floors have held up, so I thought it’s time for a little update!

This is the whole laundry room today:
Updated laundry room!
And this is what the floors look like now, about two years later:
How to paint vinyl floors
For the most part, I’m pretty thrilled with them and would absolutely do this project again in a heartbeat.

BUT. We did have An Incident.

A couple months ago, our old cheapo washing machine decided it had had enough. It kicked the bucket — via a giant leak that spread across our whole laundry room floor. Panicked, we quickly unhooked the machine and dragged it out of the room. We were not careful at all. We didn’t roll it out of the room gently or use a dolly or do anything “the right way.”

We basically wrangled it out like two panicked idiots wrestling an alligator.

In the process of getting soaked and attacked by an out of control washing machine, a small portion of the flooring messed up. It’s that section right in front of the machine:
flooring_section
Up close, it looks like this:
Damaged flooring
Considering the amount of craziness that happened to this floor, I’m pretty thrilled that this is the only damage we sustained. To put it into perspective, when we first painted these floors and moved our washing machine and dryer back in, it took us a couple tense hours of very careful sliding using many thick layers of felt under the machines. This time, we just assumed the leak would ruin the floor and it would need to be replaced, so we dragged the old machine out, scraping it along the floor with no material underneath it for easy sliding.

When all was said and done, we were basically shocked at how little damage we had caused. The water didn’t cause the paint to run or spread, and a couple years’ worth of weekly soap-and-water cleanings haven’t changed the fresh, crisp lines in the slightest.
Painted striped floors
Granted, this is a low-traffic room for us, but I’d totally consider giving it a shot in a more highly-used space. As long as you’re not planning on scraping five-ton appliances across the floor, bull-in-china-cabinet style.

And while we’re updating things, let’s talk about the shelves. This is how the laundry room looked when I first posted it on the blog:

Then Better Homes & Gardens came out to photograph it for their magazine, and they brought all their own styling props and changed over the shelves to look like this:
View Along the Way laundry room in better homes and gardens
(You can read all the behind-the-scenes from that photo shoot here.)

(I know what you’re wondering and the answer is yes, I do spend most of my days perched on the dryer like that.)

After the magazine came out, I got a very funny email from someone who had seen my laundry room in the magazine and was very concerned that we might be slightly OCD about germs, because of the giant stockpile of antibacterial wipes in the photo. So funny.

It’s been about a year and four months since BHG did that shoot, and this is what the shelves look like on a day-to-day basis. I didn’t style them at all (obviously) — just ran into the laundry room and snapped a couple quick pics.
Updated laundry room!
We FINALLY just used up the last of the laundry detergent and antibacterial wipes that BHG brought for styling! We felt like we won the laundry detergent lottery jackpot.

You can see that I barely use the top two shelves at all: most everything goes in the cabinets. I still like ‘em for looks though. ;) The bottom two shelves get used a ton, because that’s where I keep my detergent.

And that little plant that BHG brought for the top shelf? You guys, I kept it alive for a like a YEAR. (she says, smiling proudly.) Here’s my post from when the plant and I got into a big fight. It finally just died a couple weeks ago, when I moved it to a part of the house where I never remembered to water it, and it retaliated by promptly dying. Obviously it was too needy.

(I’m not good with plants. )

Anyway: the flooring hack worked like a charm and the laundry room – with our new high-efficiency washer and dryer – is crankin’ right along. All is well in the VATW laundry world.

Except that we always forget to actually do the laundry, but Details.

Would you ever consider painting your vinyl floors?

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The snowballing mirror dilemma http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/snowballing-mirror-dilemma/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/snowballing-mirror-dilemma/#comments Mon, 08 Sep 2014 10:00:44 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21209 SO MANY DECISIONS TO MAKE IN THE MASTER BATHROOM. In case you missed it, this is my stupid bathroom. I took this photo this morning, so THIS IS REAL LIFE, y’all. Ain’t pretty. In the last post, we settled on the vanity cabinet situation. We were considering replacing the existing cabinets with a smaller premade […]

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SO MANY DECISIONS TO MAKE IN THE MASTER BATHROOM.

In case you missed it, this is my stupid bathroom. I took this photo this morning, so THIS IS REAL LIFE, y’all. Ain’t pretty.
bathroom_before_sm
In the last post, we settled on the vanity cabinet situation.

We were considering replacing the existing cabinets with a smaller premade vanity like this little preliminary design rendering I made:
design plan_2_sm
(Side note: I kind of love that little preliminary design, with the round mirrors and the circular detail on the cabinets.)

But we decided to keep our current cabinet boxes, retrofit them for drawers in the center and fix up the cabinet doors to be a little more fancy and a little less builder-grade-from-the-90s.

With that decision made, I have another big design decision to make, and I’ve been making little photoshop renderings to try to figure it out. Let’s walk through that thought process, shall we? And then you can tell me what to do.

Just kidding.

But seriously.

The question now is what to do with the area over the vanity. Right now there’s a huge mirror that extends all the way across the wall.
wall_now4
Because we’re only redoing part of this bathroom, I want the part that we fix up to really make a statement and carry the rest of the room. I want this whole wall to be a fancy focal situation that oozes marble and sparkle and everything that makes my little heart flutter.

I think it’d be kinda heart-melty to have a wall of beautiful tile, and a pair of pretty mirrors, but the problem is the sinks. They’re set right next to the wall, so that the center of each sink is only about 15 inches from the wall.
15inches
If I do a couple fancy mirrors, in order for each mirror to be centered over the sink, they’ll need to be VERRRY NARROW. Like so:
wall_plan_small_mirrors
The mirrors would be just a few inches from the corner of the wall, and there’d be a ginormous sea of emptiness in the center of the wall.

This, by the way, was the benefit of going with a premade vanity that doesn’t take up that whole wall. The sinks would be closer together, away from the corner of the wall, and would allow for bigger mirrors that would take up more space. See that?
design plan_2_sm
But we’re keeping the existing vanity, which means Very Important Decor Dilemma. I have a few ideas for how to fix this problem, but we haven’t settled on which one is best yet.

Option 1: Forget centering the mirrors over the sinks

Because the sinks are so close to the wall, centering the mirror over the faucets means the mirrors have to be very narrow. But what if we just forgot about orienting the mirrors over the sinks? What if we just got some larger mirrors and ignored the placement of the sinks?
big_mirrors_round
(no.)
big_mirrors_square
Yeah, I feel like that got real weird, real fast. Do not love. Agree?

Option 2: Just go with it

…stop overthinking it and be cool, because maybe it’s just fine that the mirrors hug the wall and leave a wide gap in the center.
mirrormirror2

Tracy Hardenburg Designs

Option 3: Sconce!

Maybe it wouldn’t feel so crazy if I did a large sconce in the center, like so?
sconce1
When I showed that pic to Andy, he was all, “and just WHO is going to tear out the drywall and wire in a sconce in the middle of that wall?” — instead of being like, “Ooh, I love that sconce!” Boy brains are mysterious.
sconce2

sconce3
Important programming note: I just found three fabulous sconces for these renderings, but they are Capital-E-Expensive. Not sure if they’d be in the actual budget or not: I’m just dreaming at this stage.

Option 4: Add a center cabinet

We could fill that empty space in the center of the wall with a built-in cabinet, kind of like this:
bathroom_counter_with_cabinet

Design by Enviable Designs

cabinet over bathroom vanity
Decoist

I played with what that might look like in my little rendering:
Adding a cabinet to a bathroom vanity wall
What I love about this idea: extra storage!

What I don’t love: it doesn’t leave a ton of room for fancy lighting. The lights would have to be installed on the side walls instead of the back wall, like this:
Bathroom cabinetry

J Steinberg Design

…which just means more wiring, more messing up the walls, and of course we’d have to actually build that cabinet, so more work overall. My other concern is that adding this cabinet will make it feel more closed-off and less open and airy.

Option 5: Keep the huge mirror

We do use the giant mirror, and we like how it makes the room feel open and bright. Going down to two smaller mirrors would be an adjustment, and this would be the most economical option. My concern is that without the tiled wall or the styling of the mirrors and lighting, the end result of the makeover won’t have any interesting focal areas.


* * *

Look how good I am at over-complicating one tiny decision about mirrors! It’s a skill I’ve cultivated.

Which option would you choose?

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The question of the vanity http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/question-vanity/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/09/question-vanity/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 10:00:57 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21175 Are you a planner? I’d shake my head vehemently NO to that. I am not a planner. I wing it and hope for the best. I jump in with both feet and trust that everything will work out, because doesn’t it always? That’s what you call unwise optimism, to an absolute, undeniable fault, wrapped in […]

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Are you a planner?

I’d shake my head vehemently NO to that. I am not a planner. I wing it and hope for the best. I jump in with both feet and trust that everything will work out, because doesn’t it always? That’s what you call unwise optimism, to an absolute, undeniable fault, wrapped in a package of impatience and impulsivity.

I’m working on it, guys. Step one is admitting you have a problem.

Step two is thanking your spouse for ever marrying you, because his patience and wisdom are sometimes the only things keeping me from almost certain self-destruction, or at the very least, from accidentally ruining our bathroom remodel.

Anyway: the bathroom. I’ve realized that I can’t just go buy a bunch of things and hope they’ll work out okay in there. I need to make sure the plan is solid before we order up some tile and take a sledgehammer to things. I mean, probably.

The first major hurdle is the configuration of the vanity wall. I thought it would be really simple at first, but with my finger hovered over the “Submit order” button on an online tile purchase, I realized perhaps I should back up and just double-check that the plan in my head would work out?

It ended up being a lot more complicated than I realized. Here’s that wall right now:
vanity_wall
Looking at it straight-on, this is mostly to scale:
wall_now4
This is also mostly to scale:
Traffic Captain_origin1.jpg(I’m buttering him up for the work ahead. #MaybeI’mAPlannerAfterAll.)

There’s a wall-to-wall counter with dual sinks, set atop two cabinets and a completely useless vanity area in between.

Are there people who use those vanity areas anymore? Who has time to perch themselves upon a vanity stool, wrapped up in a cozy robe and probably a feather boa, sipping mimosas, for three hours while they carefully apply their makeup in perfect peace?

(Is that just me being a mom-to-preschoolers talking? On the rare occasions when I apply makeup, I have about 30 seconds to slap it on while little people run around my feet, sometimes grabbing my makeup brushes from the bathroom counter and holding them precariously over the toilet bowl.)

Cabinet option 1

We tossed around the idea of ripping out the entire vanity cabinet area and replacing it with a new piece of furniture, or with a premade vanity from the store. I whipped up some little photoshop renderings to see what that might look like:
Bathroom design plan - vanity smaller than the wall
(Don’t pay much attention to the design or finishes. My plan changes daily and I was just playing around here.)

See all that extra wall space on either side of the vanity? In order to go with a premade vanity, the whole piece would have to be significantly shorter than the entire wall. Right now, our vanity takes up the entire 89-inch nook. But most premade vanities are only about 72 inches long, so we’d lose a good 17 inches of counter space, and the vanity might end up feeling dwarfed on that wall.

That’s not the craziest idea, though. Here are a few bathrooms where the vanity is smaller than the width of the wall:
Bathroom vanity that's shorter than the wall

Refined LLC

Bathroom vanity with gaps on the side
BHG

We thought long and hard, and almost pulled the trigger on this plan. But ultimately we both agreed we’d regret losing that valuable counter space. What I mean is: I’d regret losing that counter space. Andy gets about four inches of counter space for his toothbrush and contacts case, and my makeup-and-beauty-product-explosion takes up the rest.

(If I’m being real, the makeup and beauty products are just going to expand to take up whatever space they’re allotted, but that’s out of my control.)

Cabinet option 2

Next we considered buying two smaller premade vanities like this:
Dual bathroom vanities

Design by Sarah Richardson via HGTV

And maybe even finding a way to connect them, like this:
dual bathroom vanities, connected in the center
AIADC

Dual built-in bathroom vanities
House & Home

But that would still either limit our countertop length, or create that same useless vanity area. It just didn’t seem like the best call. So we moved on to option 3.

Cabinet option 3

See also: The Thrifty Option

For this option, we’d leave our current cabinets and reconfigure them to be more functional for the way we live our lives. We’d retrofit that empty center area with cabinets or drawers so it would become built-in storage, then fix up the existing doors so it all looks a little fancier/less boring and builder-grade.

So while it looks like this now:
wall_now4
We would change the center area to look more like this:
wall_plan4
We’ll essentially just be keeping the cabinet boxes, but building out the center and adding drawers, plus replacing the existing cabinet doors with something more custom.

The benefit of this plan is that we already have a beautiful marble countertop that will (we hope) fit perfectly on top of the existing cabinets. I found it at the Habitat Restore, and it was basically the most gigantic miracle of all time: it has two sinks, in exactly the same place as our existing sinks, with faucet holes already drilled, and it’s long enough to fit wall-to-wall in that space. AND it was 20% off.

AND we’ve been storing it our garage in anticipation of this project since 2011.

Andy’s has been thrilled to donate a large portion of our garage to this unused countertop for the last three years.

So option 3 it is! But there are a lot of issues this option presents. I’ll show you those issues and what I’m thinking in the next post. I’m not quite sure how to fix ‘em yet, so more to come!

Good thing I’m planning this out, right? There’s something to be said for this whole planning thing. Are you a planner? Do you use your vanity area? Are there mimosas involved?

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My STUPID bathroom http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/08/stupid-bathroom/ http://www.viewalongtheway.com/2014/08/stupid-bathroom/#comments Mon, 25 Aug 2014 10:00:06 +0000 http://www.viewalongtheway.com/?p=21154 So we have this master bathroom. We bought it like this: Then we demoed it. Removed the popcorn ceilings, took all the junk off the walls and mudded over the holes so it’d be ready for paint. Just when we had it demoed to the PRECISE point of maximum ugliness, we screeched to a halt […]

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So we have this master bathroom.

We bought it like this:
all5
Then we demoed it. Removed the popcorn ceilings, took all the junk off the walls and mudded over the holes so it’d be ready for paint.
1
Just when we had it demoed to the PRECISE point of maximum ugliness, we screeched to a halt and left it there.
3
(for six years.)
4
*Hangs head in shame.* *Reluctantly hands over Home Blogger Credentials.*

THIS IS SO STUPID, you guys.

STUPID.

Every morning I go in that bathroom, with its unpainted sheetrock ceiling, craptastic vinyl floor, hanging bare bulbs and ugly everything, and things start to get a little more tense and uncomfortable between me and the master bathroom. At this point we’re barely on speaking terms. I’m mad AT the bathroom, as if it is its own fault that it’s stayed this way for six years.

Andy and I are both at the same point, thankfully. He totally backs me up in my awkward fight with the bathroom. It’s helpful to have your husband on your side when you have a falling-out with a room in your house.

(It’s not stupid because it’s ugly. It’s stupid because it’s halfway demoed and has sat that way for 1.5 complete presidential terms of office.)

A few years ago, I talked about this room and why we just couldn’t pull the trigger on updating it. The problem is the layout.
floorplan labeled
The shower stall is a tiny coffin of despair, and the tub is functional but ugly. In that old, old post, we mentioned that we were going to leave the tub and shower as it was and just start fixing other things. But lots of you piped in with incredibly helpful ideas and suggestions for how we could improve the layout.

We loved all the ideas, but we couldn’t settle on one that felt completely right. So we left it there. Again. Did nothing. Closed the door and let NO ONE PASS THEREIN. It was our little secret.

(Except that we put it on the web and all.)

(Details.)

Anyway, we’ve come full circle now. We’ve gotten angry enough at the bathroom that it’s finally, actually going to change, and we have a real plan of attack that we’re going to actually do. (See all these definite action words I’m using?)

Here’s where we are: it’s too much for us to think about ripping out the tub and shower right now. We just can’t wrap our brains around with all the other stuff going on in our lives (more on this in a future post soon – all good stuff and no, there are no babies on the way!). But we think we can make some changes that will make it a reasonable, less STUPID room, and still allow for big future changes if we want.

So the plan is, for right now:
1. Leave the tub and shower as they are.
2. Rip out the vinyl flooring and replace it with something fancy.
3. Completely make over the vanity/sink wall with something beautiful.
4. Don’t make any changes that preclude us from tearing out the shower/tub later.

I think we’re going to tile the floor, and buy some extra tile so that if we decide to do something different with the shower/tub section later, we can easily re-tile that section to match the rest of the floor then.

We’re essentially going to draw a line through the bathroom, fix up one half and neglect/ignore the other half, willing it not to exist.
bathroom_halves
(The whole floor, of course, will get updated.)

I’ll show you my tentative plans (and ask for your thoughts and opinions! Get ready!) in another post, when I have a chance to pull together photos of what exists only in my brain right now.

But THINK MARBLE.
0d2e8e4302ebd4bfa9ce9625f1788e1c
Marble counters. Marble floors. Marble walls. Marble everywhere! Bathing in marble! Brushing our teeth with marble toothbrushes!

Tell me you’ve been there with projects-that-go-on-for-a-lifetime. Have you ever just felt like, this is STUPID?

PS: I’m over at SAS Interiors today talking about creating a meaningful home. Say hi to Jenna for me!

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