Ship's Wheel Mirror Makeover

When it comes to antiques, I'm usually cautious about altering their appearance in fear of destroying their value (file this under: everything I know I learned from Pawn Stars). We were faced with a lot of these decisions when we moved into our house – we had to decide what needed to be kept and what was okay to touch. For example, our living room is full of original cherry wood trim...and even though it wasn't my thing at first, it's an element that adds real value to our home, and we'd be crazy to paint it. Now I'm happy it's there – the wood is beautiful, and makes our living room feel like a modern cabin.

On the flip side, just because something is an antique doesn't make it valuable (though it could be emotionally valuable) and a little coat of paint isn't going to hurt anyone, if it makes you happy. 

Jim and I decided to check out the Lakewood city-wide garage sale a few weekends ago and after heading down a ton of driveways, we found this antique mirror with a $5 sticker on it. I'm sorry – what? $5. This is why I love garage sales.

The bones of it were there, but we knew the paint job and the metal stars wouldn't really fit our decor. Thankfully the mirror was made of wood and not metal, so we knew we could give it a quick makeover and find a great home for it on our walls.

I actually can't take any credit for this makeover, because Jim did it all himself, but hey...I art directed?

He removed the metal stars, which were just pinned into the frame with small nails, and then stripped off the paint with Strypeeze. This causes the paint to bubble and peel like tar, so be sure to wear gloves when trying this at home. He used a shim to scrape the paint off once it became loose. Once the paint was removed, he used wood filler to fill the cracks where some of the pieces were separating, and gave the piece a final sanding.

We actually liked the distressed look that the stripping/sanding process gave, so we left the mirror as is. I debated about white-washing it, or putting the stars back on, but decided against it. You can always add, but you can't always take away.

It turned out to be the perfect piece we were missing in our second floor stairway. I love it more than I expected – for $5 I figured it was a risk-free project, so it was great that it came out so nicely. I can't really say no to something nautical for a few bucks, anyway. 

Do you shop garage sales? Are they worth it for you, or too hit-or-miss?

Home Series: Before & After | Master Bedroom

When it comes to naming which room in our house got the biggest overhaul, our master bedroom takes the cake—although just our hallway is a close second. You'd never think a hallway could be so much work, but that's a post for another day. It's amazing how after seeing dozens of houses, you develop this ability to not take anything at face value—and I don't mean just looking beyond paint colors. You can look at a lackluster room and feel like the space is right, or you notice how cool a corner is, or you feel how firm and right the floors are beneath your feet. 

This was the bedroom before — needs a little love:

As you can see in our progress post from our first week, we cut that small closet door open, installed new bars and shelves, ripped up the carpet, refinished the hardwood, and replaced that sad ceiling fan. The closet itself was quite big, but had that "cave closet" problem where the door is small and the closet is impossible to utilize fully. We expanded the entrance, replaced the doors, and actually reused the old closet door for our linen closet in the hallway. We really wanted to keep all of the original doors to the house, so I'm glad the door fit!

A nice master closet was something we hadn't seen in any of the Lakewood homes we looked at, so we knew a remodeled closet would be a great selling point someday (and a necessity for us now).

This is the closet after, with our DIY rope mirror:

Our progress at one year:

Curtains: DIY | Gold Tortoise Shell: Target/DIY | Nightstands: IKEA | Reading sconces and table lamp: IKEA | Duvet: CB2 (old) | Rug: Overstock (old)

For some reason, every single room in our house had ceiling fans, which we promptly replaced with semi-flush mounts, but we repurposed this one in our room for a little breeze in the summer. We might switch it out with something more fun (maybe a new DIY) but for now it fits the bill.

I really love the drama of dark walls and wanted to pull it off in our room with a super rich navy. We get a ton of light in our house so I knew it wouldn't be too dark, and we balanced it with lots of white and texture. The room has a tiny touch of nautical inspiration, but it's more relaxed and less literal.

There is still so much we want to add and change about the room (we're wanting a stylish new bed frame) but after a year, we're really happy with the progress. As it is with all spaces, there's always something to do! For now, it's an incredibly relaxing, rehabbed space that we're just enjoying.

Candle hurricane: DIY | Anchor dish: Furbish | Glasses: Lookmatic

Home Series: Before & After | Outdoor

Welcome to our outdoor home tour! In the spirit of thinking spring, I need some sunny memories of our green grass and garden to restore my sanity. It's hard to remember that things looked like this only a few months ago! We worked all spring and summer long to give the exterior of our home a facelift, and we're relieved the majority of the work is done. Let's get to it, shall we?

Here is our "after": with a fresh coat of paint on literally every surface, newly built columns and railing, landscaping, and new hardware (mailbox, light fixtures, etc.) The gray is Sherwin Williams Dovetail and the mint is Waterfall. The house is sided with aluminum, so we had to bring in the pros to paint it for us – we hired Neubert Painting to do it. It was incredible to see the house transform a little more each day. They painted the exterior of the house, but we painted the columns, railing, and porch floor ourselves. Pretty much every day after work, I was coming home, grabbing a beer, and painting something on that porch. It was actually kind of a nice way to spend the summer.

This was the house before. This was taken in the late fall, so the dead plants definitely make it look worse. The color scheme, symmetrical bushes, and shutters looked straight out of the '60s. The skinny spindles on the railing also gave us serious anxiety. The inside was so warm and charming, the outside did the house no justice. In fact, when we did our first drive-by, Jim pulled up in front of it and I said "oh my god NO" (this was in our "choosy" phase of house shopping, which ended quickly). It just needed some curb appeal and charm. 

We also did a number on the backyard. The garden beds were overgrown, which you can't see here since everything was dead at the time, so they needed lots of TLC. The little baby fence also had to come out, and also there was THIS:

A big, concrete slab of some sort in the back corner of the yard. We heard the concrete patio had been there for years, but we couldn't believe someone didn't just rip it out...which is what we did. 

We rented a jackhammer and towed away tons of solid concrete, while ripping out the other stones and the small tree that was in the middle of the yard. We planted grass where the patio had been and hoped for the best! It was terrifying to think the grass might not grow (first-time jitters) but obviously, it was fine. We watched it grow in and followed up by planting some new shrubs along the fence. 

Here is the "after" at the end of the summer. We still have some more shaping to do to the beds, but the work that's been done has made a huge difference. We've gained a ton of yard space by removing that slab, which Cooper loves! It looks more opened up, and I'm relieved to not have to look at that dumb fence anymore. 

Last winter, we were so anxious for spring to come so we could tackle all of these projects. We moved into the house in October of '12, facelifted the inside, and sat waiting to do the rest. We are really happy with how it all looks and can't wait to do more a bit more relaxing this summer – although there is definitely always something to do. Our next project is to furnish the front porch, and furnish our second-floor balcony that's situated off the office. You are all welcome to join me for summer drinking in any of these areas :) Are you planning any home projects for this spring? 

Home Series: Why To Buy

Today starts a little series of posts dedicated to all things HOME – specifically: homeownership, home buying, and our home's before + after. I have so many photos to share and thought the spring itch would be the perfect time to kick off this series on the blog. It's almost the peak time of year for listings to hit the market, so hopefully some of this will help + inspire any of you potential buyers out there!

As a relatively young, unmarried couple we were cautious about jumping into buying – in this economy homeownership has become more of a luxury than a necessity. However, on the other side of a burst real estate bubble, you have a rock-bottom market that's steadily on its way up. The timing couldn't have been better: home prices were low, interest rates were low, and our neighborhood was maintaining its value. In so many ways, it was the right thing for us and I'm glad we dove in and never looked back. 

These were the major and minor factors we considered when deciding to buy:

Investment – Really, this was #1. You're never too young to invest in your future. Homes follow the same rules as stocks: buy low, sell high. And we had a chance to buy low, on a house that we knew we could sell high just by sitting in it. Add in low cost/high-value home improvements, and you're sweetening the deal. After years of renting and tossing money down the drain, buying became the non-insane option. We knew we were staying in the area for a bit, so renting just made no sense.

Landlords – There's nothing like having total control over your space, and we are project people. If we don't like something, we want to change it. Asking permission? UGGGGH. On the flip side, the control comes at a price. If your pipes start leaking, it's your problem. Furnace breaks? Ka-ching. For some people it's ideal to not have to deal with this stuff, but any replacements you make can add value to your house. And you're the one who gets to choose what pipes/furnace/etc. go into your house, so you can make choices based on energy efficiency/performance that can lower your bills. We've been lucky, but it's still important to have to have a little cash pile somewhere for when these things come up.

Basement – As I said, we work on stuff. We needed space. We actually got in trouble many times at our old apartment for hammering too much and spray painting in the parking lot (would they prefer me to spray paint in our apartment? How am I supposed to DIY this lamp? #whitegirlproblems)

Basement Fridge – Yeah, maybe one of my favorite things ever about our house. A basement fridge full of beverages. You open it and BEER is bountiful. I might be a man.

Neighbors – Trust me, even in a house, you can (and likely will) have annoying neighbors. But I'll take anything over hearing my downstairs neighbor get screwed by a guy twice her age every night. Yeah...NOPE. TOO CLOSE.

Yard – We still joke that we bought our house for our dog. He has plenty of room to run, and I don't have to leash him each time he has to go potty. I'm lazy about that so I guess it was more for my convenience than his. Other obvious yard perks: we get to have a garden, grow herbs + veggies, and don't have to head to the bar to drink on a patio (although of course we still do).

Customization – This relates to the "landlords" reasoning...do you want to wallpaper that nook? Rip those bushes out? Re-tile the bathroom floor? Guess what –  you da boss, baby.

Noise – As a couple who favors music of the bass-heavy variety, we are quite happy with our freedom to crank it up.

Neighborhood – We love being a part of a neighborhood, and there's nothing like handing out candy on Halloween. For some reason, that's one of our favorite things to do and it's a reminder of how much we love where we live. We wanted to be more than transient members – by putting hard work into improving our house, we feel like we are helping to improve our community as well. We wanted to give an old Lakewood house some TLC and leave it better than it was left for us.

Everyones wants and needs are different, so I would love to hear about what motivated you to buy (if you have bought) or why you are hoping to buy in the future. Has it been a good experience? A tough one? Buyer's remorse? I'll be back next time to share some before + afters, and some tips/lessons learned about the buying process. 


House Renovation: Week 2

...And I'm back for week two! This week saw a lot of cosmetic progress, although it was slow because the work on the floors prevented us from doing everything we wanted. The bedrooms got painted (bedroom 3, the office, is still not pictured - it was full of our junk because the floors weren't being done in there). 

This is the dining room...

The first coat of oil went down, and looked bea-utiful!

Here's the master, with the floors done, walls painted, and ceiling fan from the guest room switched into this room. You can see a bit more of the design of the master in my previous post, with the ombre curtains - so I'm backtracking a little. 

The guest room — pretty peach with a drum shade semi-flush mount. Neither one of us is crazy about ceiling fans, but this one suited the master so we decided to put it in there. With all of the other lighting we had to buy (we replaced everything - hallway lights, landings...) it wasn't such a bad thing to repurpose something for now! 

This was favorably known as the "Linen Closet Excavation of 2012." Our new linen closet is so perfect, it makes me smile every time I open it. Going through all of our stuff and reorganizing it took an entire afternoon — but now it's so neat and tidy, it was worth it. We'll see how long it stays that way!

That's all I have to share for now, we're finally unpacked and the rooms are almost fully decorated, so the true "afters" are still to come. We just made this amazing rope mirror for the bedroom, so I'll be posting that DIY next. See you soon!