Category Archives: home improvement

Raising the bar

Ok, I’m no good at making up clever blog post titles! Let’s just say this post is going to be about my search for a furniture solution – a place to store our liquor. πŸ™‚

M and I aren’t huge drinkers, but for me coming from an Irish/German heritage, I like a good cocktail hour as much as the rest of ’em! Our new kitchen doesn’t have as much storage as our previous one did, so we’re having to get creative with all of our extra stuff that used to have a home. Our dining room is the biggest room in the house, so we’re making it do lots of double duty.

The wall adjoining the kitchen is already home to our coffee station, and now it is also home to our “bar”!

dining room storage: coffee and liquor!

This nice little furniture piece got a bit of a make over (but just barely).
It was a Goodwill find (aw yeah!) for just $12.99! I had been scouting all month for something that was about counter-height, had shelving/storage and was cheap. This baby had a really really beat-up top, lots of stripped finish, and didn’t look too attractive to the average passerby, hence the low price tag.

I knew just from looking at it, however, that it is solid wood (no particle board here!) and I could easily sand the top and re-stain it.

bar top sanded

Look at that – solid oak, I think. And no trace of the previously marred surface. Just a few minutes of sanding and it was ready for staining.

Goodwill find, sanded

I had some wood stain, left over from this project from last year, so I got to staining.

dark walnut stain

staining in process

There is something immensely satisfying about staining wood! After brushing it on and then wiping off the excess with a cloth, the color is so different immediately, I love it.
So after one application it looked like this:

one coat of stain

It really is a pretty wood. The dark walnut wasn’t an exact match for color, but it sure is pretty. I love that it has a bit of a rustic vibe. I did a second coat later in the day to darken it further. Then this morning I brought it back in the house.

After a thorough wipe down/cleaning, we have this!

new bar

I am not totally finished with it yet. I think that the top may need a hint of red – the base and the top don’t necessarily need to be the exact color, but I think since the walnut stain is so close, it will bug me that it’s only slightly off color. I may pick up a small pot of cherry stain for one last coat. Then a final coat of poly, for durability.

new bar top

The last thing I’m toying with is adding some glass doors to the bottom (or something). I really want to store our extra glassware down there, but I wouldn’t want them open to dust and such (yuck, right?). So we’ll explore our options for that.

simple, yet effective

Anyway, totally stoked that we found such a great furniture piece for such a great price! And refinished the top for free, since we already had the sander and the stain, is the icing on the cake. Can’t complain about that. πŸ™‚ Slowly (slowly), this house is coming together.

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Sad tulips and New Beginnings

Of all the tulips that we planted way back when, only three have come back for me this year 😦

three lonly tulips

We had a bit of a snafu, I suppose, in getting them to come back this year, when our good-intentioned neighbors tried to help us out while M and I were on our honeymoon last summer – we asked them to water our outdoor potted plants, and in an impulse of helping my tomatoes do better, they repotted them in a few “empty” pots, which in fact had our dormant tulip bulbs in them. I must have done something wrong when I tried to re-plant them, because while they all grew leaves this spring, only three produced flowers. *Tear*

Oh well!
That’s alright, because I’ve got bigger news. By the end of this month, M and I will be moved into a new place! I have to admit I am a little sad to leave our apartment (though we’re both excited to get out of the U-District). Our new place has so much potential, it is very exciting to us!

We’re still not a a place where we can buy a house, but we’re renting a proper house, not an apartment, which I suppose is a step in the right direction. And while it’s a little farther out than we wanted, it is in a very quite neighborhood, claims it is still technically in Seattle, and the house has all (or nearly all) the requirements we wanted.

our new house!

The two main requirements we were looking for were: get away from rowdy, destructive college kids, and have a bigger space for my ceramics studio.
This place definitely has both!

It has a two car garage that is plenty big enough for M’s car and all his car parts, tools, etc. And I get the rest of the garage to transform into a real working ceramics studio!

side view

side view

It will be such an awesome change of pace to have enough room to move around, to store stuff, and to inspire me! I don’t show many glimpses of my current basement studio on my blog here, because, well, it’s very much like a dungeon and not very inspirational, haha. But that will all change soon!

And you can see in the few pics that there is a lot of green space! I’m so excited to have a real yard to plant things – I’ve been an apartment-patio gardener for so many years, this will be so liberating!
So yes, my tulips didn’t really arrive this year…but next year, look out! πŸ™‚

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Filed under Day to Day, home improvement

The Before and After

Last month for several weekends, I could be found at my parents’ house helping with a major home improvement project – installing a new tile floor in their downstairs living room! If you want to see the progression, check out these posts, here and here.

And after spending the day there yesterday, we can say for all intents and purposes, that the room is complete!

During the last month, since laying the last tile, there have been more mundane and unexciting stepsΒ  – like grouting and sealing, and mop mop mopping!
Yesterday we re-installed the base molding, puttied, and touched up paint. Mopped again, and then began to bring the furniture back into the room.

Check out the before’s and after’s:

The embarrassingly cluttered and disorganized Before pic! haha

living room before

And the organized, cleared-of-clutter After shot!

living room after


Here’s another view:

corner, before

And then after:

corner, after

I think that the lightness and subtle variations in the tile color are such an improvement from the flat painted concrete. The whole room feels airier and more polished – like a finished room, instead of a strictly utilitarian basement.

And of course, the process of clearing EVERYTHING out of a space really helps to clear out clutter that has been hiding in plain sight for ages.

There are still some improvements to be made to this space, in my opinion – especially in regard to lay-out and flow (a challenge in a room this big, 685 square feet!). But that will be for another day…


Filed under home improvement, projects

Floor – Almost DONE

Another grueling weekend has since past. Again I was down at my parents’ house for the second leg of tile floor installation. It was tough, but we made good progress! (Check out this post for pictures of where we started)

Take a look:

End of the first working day on Friday. We got the last quadrant of the floor filled in. We still have all the tiles around the perimeter of the room to cut still.

End of the second day, we got a good chunk of the edging tiles cut and placed (and we also finished the hallway, off camera).

End of the last day, when we were all at the end of our rope! Phew! The floor has been tiled!!
We still need to grout this sucker, but that will have to wait till next weekend. (Do these projects never end??)

Lookin’ good! Can’t wait till the grout is in, and we can put all the furniture back in place. I’ll be sure to post a picture then, so you can get the full effect.


Filed under DIY, home improvement, projects

Tile Floor Update

It was a very physically demanding weekend (and we’re only about half way done with this project)! The floor is going in nicely, and it will look fantastic when it’s complete. Such a step up from the painted concrete that has been in there since the folks decided to rip out the brown shag 6 or 7 years ago.

The floor downstairs needs to be a hard surface (aka, not carpet) because of the tendency for flooding. And, fittingly, we actually had a bit of a flood after the 2nd day of laying tile; the washing machine had a drainage backup and went right out into the living room! We were flying around for a minute there, trying to sop it all up with towels before it did major damage to the drying thinset. I think we managed it in time. πŸ™‚

So here are some in-progress pics for you to enjoy! We still have a way to go; this coming weekend will be phase II.

downstairs livingroom ready for tile!

This is a BIG room – 685 square feet! So we are using really big tiles – they are 24″x24″, and heavy. The painted concrete has served its purpose, but now it’s time to class up the joint.

mixing thinset in the wheelbarrow

Because we are tiling such a large area, we needed a lot of thinset, usually 100 lbs at a time. Mixing it in the wheelbarrow gave us mobility, and it was much easier to mix – as opposed to the bucket we used when tiling this room (such a pain!)

first quadrant

Each quadrant of the room essentially took a whole day to do. It was slow going, despite the fact we were working non-stop, and there were at least 3 of us on the job each day.

second quadrant

After the second full day of tiling – we finished the second quadrant. Notice that we haven’t tiled up to the room edges; this is due to needing cut tiles. We decided to keep all the cuts to the end of the project, when we’ll rent a heavy-duty tile saw and do the cuts all in one day.

third quadrant

Here’s Dad surveying our progress after day-three of tiling. Looking pretty good! Next weekend we’ll finish that last quadrant, tile into the hallway (out of shot, to the right), and install all the cut pieces around the perimeter. Oh, and of course we’ll also have to grout and seal (that may need to be a third weekend in itself!).

Phew! It’s hard work and slow progress, but it’ll be so worth it when it’s all done. (Yes, that was our mantra all weekend) πŸ™‚


Filed under home improvement, projects

Happy Friday

This weekend (and after?) I’ll be down at my parents’ house doing a major home improvement project. We’ll be installing a porcelain tile floor in the downstairs living room, which is a whopping 685 square foot area!

We’ve already cleared the room of furniture, popped off the base molding, cleaned the exisiting painted concrete floor, and decided our layout for the tile.

Today we start laying the tile – big 24″x24″ beauties. I’ll be taking pictures through the whole project, but I won’t be able to post them until I’m back at my own computer. So until then, have a great weekend!

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Filed under DIY, home improvement, projects