Budget Home Theater – The Budget Breakdown {ORC Fall 2018: Week 5}

I think the word budget is very subjective/relative, especially in the interior design world. I grew up in a small  rural town where the average household income ran somewhere from dirt poor to lower middle class. I never really was aware of this until I entered college, because the one nice thing about living in an area where most people have a similar standard of living is you don’t have a lot to compare to or to even be jealous of.  You don’t know what you don’t have because no one around you has it either. I was blissfully unaware of how the “other half” lived. I should also note: I had a GREAT childhood. Zero complaints. From graduating high school to now, I’ve bounced back and forth between NYC and surrounding areas and upstate New York. I’ve lived in a trailer in the woods, in walk up slums in shady Brooklyn and Bronx neighborhoods; I’ve lived in doorman buildings in Manhattan and very upper middle class suburbs in NJ, and everything in between.

All this is to say, I know I’m calling this a budget Home Theater, but let’s be honest, we are still spending (or have spent) a pretty penny on some of these items. This is not a $100 or $500 or even $1,000 makeover. It’s also NOT a $15,000 makeover. I was super inspired last week to pull back the curtain on what this is costing us after reading Michele’s Week 4 post. So for anyone interested (and since all I’ve really done is poorly hem some curtains this week) I thought we could talk about the budget for this space. We didn’t have a maximum amount we planned to spend, it was more of a fun challenge to see what we cobble together with a semi-frugal mindset. We didn’t need a gut renovation job, frankly we didn’t need any of this, but it was more of a personal challenge to create a “finished” space that is functional for us and pretty to me. Also guys, I’m too lazy to try to get sponsors, because that is a job in itself, so this is clearly all out of our own pocket. It’s not my livelihood to provide pretty content.  I think there is a place for that, it just isn’t here.



If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory.  

Week 1   Week 2   Week 3   Week 4

Here’s a breakdown to the stuff we expected to spend money on:
Sectional $1239
Paint $60
Artwork (no, we still didn’t buy anything yet! FML) ~$150
The stuff we didn’t expect to spend money on:
More paint $30
Cement and waterproof cement $20
Gutter extenders $20
Plumbing updates and electric labor ~$300 (this was baked into other odd jobs around the house)
The fun stuff we picked up/plan to pick up along the way:
Popcorn bowls $8
Snack tower $40
Curtain rods & gold tassels $10
To buy/make: Pillows and blankets ~$60
To buy: Popcorn Maker ~$150 ???
The stuff we already had that convinced us we could do this on a budget (I made some best estimates for these because some of this has been around for a long time):
Tables/counter $300 – $500
Microwave (that I don’t even plan to use anymore) $50
Chandelier $150
Paint supplies $20
Candy dishes and trays $40 – $60

So there you have it! Somewhere between $3,050 and $5,000 when this is all said and done. We went into this thinking we could do it for about $2,000, given the fact that we already had the speaker system and extra table on hand. We were somewhat close (this is also making me rethink the popcorn machine that I haven’t pulled the trigger on yet) and the ~$500 and effort spent on making sure our foundation stays dry are clearly going to add YEARS of life to this house, but I wanted to include it be thorough.

As I’m doing this calculation I’m like “whoa” we really did spend that much! We don’t often cram to design and decorate a room down to minute details that appear “pinterest-worthy” (<–sarcasm font) often.  If it wasn’t for the ORC, we still would have eventually gotten to this room, but we probably wouldn’t have spent all that money in a roughly 6 week period.  Everyone knows I’m a slow decorator, this normally would have taken us a year or two or three, but the benefit of this challenge is that you completely transform a room from top to bottom in a set time frame.  I’m definitely glad we decided to join in again for this space! It means we get to enjoy this area thoroughly for many more years to come and my mind won’t drift to what else I could do to it while watching a movie with my kids. I will BE in the moment, dammit! Thank you ORC!

One week left – let’s see how everyone else is doing!  My top picks for this week is to go check out the wallpaper Albertina is putting up and I am now in love with Bre and her blog in general. As a lover of blogs, it’s fun to come across new-to-you bloggers whose voice you really enjoy.
Check ’em all out here! Featured and Guests.

Budget Home Theater – Embarrassingly Debilitating Decisions {ORC Fall 2018: Week 4}

So…almost nothing has happened since last week. I started a new job this week (yay! health insurance!) so not much has moved forward. But ideas are brewing…if I could only make a decision.



If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory. 

Week 1   Week 2   Week 3 

If you followed along in my IG stories last week I presented probably the biggest nail biter as far as decisions go in this space – art work for the walls. We are waffling between two different aesthetics: Classic 80’s Graphics vs. Modern Metal Minimalism.  Classic black frames vs. metalwork.  3 large scale vs. 4 medium sized. To add to that list of innocuous decisions that are becoming debilitating: To use what we’ve got or to buy an unnecessary popcorn maker. To hang a small chandelier or hack our new recessed lighting. I’m sure there will be more. It’s hard trying to make something pinterest-worthy and also practical.

Let’s start with the art. I’ll state that all of these movies have some sort of meaning to us, some more sentimental than others, and clearly the artwork itself and overall cohesiveness to either aesthetic played a major factor in narrowing it down.  I now present to you for careful consideration:

Classic 80’s Graphics:

Bill and Ted’s  Goonies   Big Trouble

Pros: The graphics are great.  We will put them in simple black frames which are safe (literally and figuratively) and familiar to a theater setting. Our house was built in the 80’s so you can even argue that it is staying true to the time period of the home. We will probably never tire of seeing these on the wall. Huge nostalgia factor here.
Cons: Is it a boring choice?

Modern Metal Minimalism:

Bill and Ted’s    My Neighbor, Totoro   Ace Ventura    Whiplash

Pros: I dig the minimalism in general, and the one liners on the bottom. I like that we can comfortably fit more on the wall because it was HARD narrowing these down (hi, we love movies). I like that it’s a little unexpected and the Ace Ventura one is a particularly clever design. Ironically it feels more exciting to me even though these are minimalist in design.
Cons: Is it too try-hard-y and pretentious? If those metal things come off the wall (they go up with a magnet) is a kid going to lose a finger? These are a bit more expensive too…

And clearly this was a tough decision for anyone voting on IG: There were even a few friends who sent me DMs to switch their vote after thinking about it longer! And guess what, here I am, a week later and no closer to a decision. HELP ME PLEASE.

Aside from the futile used leather couch search, we’ve been CRUSHING the secondhand scene since we moved here in August. I am especially proud of Tom – he has been finding some real gems for us. Like this ridiculous candy display for $40. Apparently it was used at school fundraiser functions – and now. it’s. all. ours. I picked up a few clear bins to hold the snacks et voila.

I went down a rabbit hole of popcorn bowls on the internet. It’s hard to find well reviewed reusable bowls (I am really trying to avoid disposable things in general in life), and I wanted something a little more fun. We purchased these and one set of three arrived damaged (as mentioned in several reviews). They are also waaaay bigger than I anticipated. Great for the kids, annoying for me.  They are fine for now, but I don’t anticipate these lasting too long and will definitely keep my eyes out for something more substantial.

I’ve had this random extra microwave since…2003? We were happy to use it but now that everything else is coming together we are like – should we get a fun looking popcorn machine? This is a “budget” makeover anyway, and I feel real guilt at the idea of not using what we already have. Can someone appeal to my environmental side and show me where I can buy kernels and butter in bulk so I can rationalize no longer buying individual bags of popcorn to save on paper and plastic waste? Or can someone convince me this thing will be too much of a pain to clean and take care of?

This chandelier. It was in the original dining room of our NJ house before we gut renovated. We turned it into plug-in swag and hung it up in our NJ office. We brought it with us here, and I really like the idea of it hanging over the tables.  But placement is hard because it can potentially get in the way of the symmetry of the artwork and Tom has told me we are at our max for electrical outlets. Tom is also a huge fan of smart devices and wants to put a smart bulb into one of the recessed lights and set it to a dim light that we can just access on the remote, but it seems like a missed opportunity to me. See what this one room challenge is doing to me???

I’m still completely lost on what to do with refinishing/covering the halved tables, and we’ve got a few more ideas to make this area cozy. See you next week!

Go check out the Featured Participants and Guest Participants! And please chime in below if you’ve got any opinions on anything above – we need help.

Budget Home Theater – Cameras are rolling…but not a lot of action {ORC Fall 2018: Week 3}

The title is a little misleading.  Things are definitely moving along, but not without a few more CUT! Reshoot!s than expected. (I promise to work on my film puns for next week.) On the plus side, if you’ve been following along in my IG stories, I think we’ve finally got it to stop raining in the house.  Follow me on IG if you want to join in on some movie posters polling questions this Friday too!



If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory.  

Let’s start with the water issues. Last week we scrapped off the loose stuff covering the cinder block walls. We applied waterproofing masonry paint. We filled in the horizontal gaps we could see with cement we had lying around the house.

Then it rained again. Inside and out.

On the plus side, because of the dark color of the paint, it was really easy to see where the walls were weeping. We scrapped again, consulted the internet, and ran out to get waterproof cement (the darker gray patches in the photo below). I asked Tom if he thought we messed up by using the regular cement (lighter gray patches) in the first place, but we did have decent sized gaps and he felt it was correct to fill those holes with that first.

While we were waiting for all of this to dry, it was time to inspect where all of this water was coming from. It was clearly concentrated on this one area of the wall.

A little backstory on the house: we purchased this house this past summer from an elderly couple who had bought it in the mid-80s and did some tremendous additions to a much smaller house before moving in. This house has some amazing quirkiness to it (I can’t wait to share it all with you!) but as they got older they spent more and more time at their vacation homes and less time here, and had been trying to sell the house for several years. They definitely let it go into a bit a disrepair, which is understandable on many levels. Our inspection brought up rotting siding issues, and among other things, most of the problems were probably due to ice damns forming on the roof line. So we hired a handyman and a gutter company to remove the dry rotted wood, add in additional layers of protection beneath the new siding, and to add in gutters where there weren’t any and to CLEAN OUT THE GUTTERS THAT WERE THERE. Folks, so many problems can be avoided by cleaning out your gutters (or getting the covers that eliminate the need to clean).

So we noticed this when we looked outside. See the gutters running down on either side of the windows? This is essentially our eat-in kitchen area and directly above the area of the basement that was getting wet. Well, a quick peek under the deck showed us that the gutters stopped about a foot away from the house.

Another quick trip to Lowes for some downspout extenders (not sponsored(yet! Hi Lowes 😉)), some muddy bellies from crawling under the deck and I *think* we have really fixed the water issue. We haven’t had a really heavy rainfall since, so time will tell. I’ve even painted a second coat over all of our cement and fingers crossed, we are basically done painting.

Not pictured, Theodore taking a turn with downspout arms running up to strangers and yelling “DESTROY, DESTROY”.

In other news – half of our sectional arrived! After too many attempts to purchase used leather couches on craigslist/letgo/FB marketplace, we found this couch online. Tom researches the hell out of purchases and felt it was a great deal, and the same price we were seeing used sectionals listed at. Unfortunately, part of the couch arrived damaged to the shipping company so we have to wait for the loveseat to arrive, hopefully before this challenge ends. It’s not exactly what I would put in my living room, but I’m happy to report it is super comfortable and it’s exactly what we were hoping for this space.

This post is getting long, but we need a little help on two decisions if we are going to finish this on time:

1) We’ve narrowed down a few movie poster pics we want to purchase to hang on the walls. All of the movies have some sort of connection to us, some stronger than others, but they go in two different directions aesthetically speaking. I’ll be posting the options on IG on Friday – please help us vote!!

2) We are trying to salvage and make use of an old dining room table as a counter down here. Problem is, it has seen better days, and we are taking an unconventional route and taking it apart and pushing the halved sides against the wall. My mother bought this set in the 90’s at an auction for $300. It was her set until 2007 when I moved to Brooklyn and I took over the table itself, the chairs, and the large buffet (the small buffet still lives at her house). Refinishing it is the obvious answer (there is years of water damage to the veneer on top), but I’m scared to tackle that. Painting it could be an option too, but I think the prep work will be as much as refinishing it, and more permanent, so again, scared. I kind of want to go the easy route and get a black table cloth and gathered skirt, that kinda screams movie theater to me, but is that lame? Also, those legs are kinda cool, do I want to cover them up? All suggestions are welcome, especially links to any tutorials.

PHEW. Points to anyone still here. Now go check out Week 3 for the Featured Participants and Guest Participants! See you next week.

Week 1  Week 2

Budget Home Theater – Things are never simple {ORC Fall 2018: Week 2}



If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory.  

Alternate title: What to do when you’ve got that exposed brick loft look but fear for the stability of your home.

So please recall this makeover really started with this fun little burst pipe in the exposed ceiling of the basement a few days ago, which we burst ourselves trying to plunge and applying too much pressure to a slow kitchen drain and drano was not doing the trick, that made a general mess of this corner of our basement.

We *thought* we had a couch coming this past weekend (we’ve been scouring craigslist for months) and finally found another couch online that has good reviews and the price was comparable to what we were seeing in our area for used couches. More on the couch later, but during one fitful night of sleep this past week, I decided I wanted to paint two of the walls dark, preferably before the couch arrived.  So I ran out to Lowes and grabbed a bucket of waterproofing masonry paint that was tintable. I picked a medium – dark blueish gray (Edit: Sweeping Rock Storm Cloud from Sherwin Williams) in record time. Normally I would hem and haw and grab test colors and sit on it for weeks but like I said, it was Friday night and we thought we had a couch coming on Monday.

Snowball: increase rapidly in size, intensity, or importance

Picking up waterproofing paint was merely precautionary and just seemed like the smart thing to do. We definitely have a damp basement but luckily between two sump pumps and with dehumidifiers running, its very comfortable. But it is clear the previous owners have repainted random areas of the walls. Probably to hide issues! While my paint was getting tinted I started reading the back of the can and quickly realized this was more like an epoxy application that in order to do it right, involves scraping all of the old paint off and applying muriatic acid so as to not void the warranty.  Guys, this was not happening on a Friday night. We recently expoxy-ed our garage and that was a 4 day ordeal.

So we did the next best thing and agreed to scrap off anything that was loose, but skip the acid wash. WHICH TURNED INTO THIS.

Scraping honestly wasn’t awful (we did run and get masks early on into scraping). Attempting to vacuum it up (clearly we did not anticipate this and had not put down drop clothes) will probably kill us 20 years from now.

Our shop vac created a cozy little haze of dust particles which in turn coated everything in the room that we had not moved out. Needless to say, the kids ARE NOT allowed down here for a while. (Safety disclaimers: this house was built and added onto in the late 80s, so we aren’t super concerned with lead paint or asbestos, but old mold is a bit concerning – I would NOT recommend dealing with this issues yourself without professional help, we just found ourselves in a mess we had to get out of quickly in the middle of the night.)

We did find some horizontal gaps, which, per the internet, if they are bigger than the size of a dime, should be concerning, for, you know, stability of the house and water seepage. Ours were not that bad, and luckily there is no bowing out of the walls but we did add mortar on Saturday to fill in the gaps.  The walls are certainly texturized at this point, but I’m pretty sure that’s a thing now so I’m embracing it?  Guys, I really just didn’t care at this point. I am ready to put this room back together.

Generally clean up would come next, but our handy man really likes to find other jobs to do for us, so Monday he offered to install our new recessed lighting after fixing the broken pvc pipe and to take down the old random florescent lighting. Switching out lighting is one thing, running new wires is another, so Tom was happy to hand over this job to him as well.  He is not one to clean up after himself (his price and general handywork is right so we accept these inadequacies) so now I’ve got wood chips all over the floor from where the new wiring had to go. But on the plus side – I LOVE THIS COLOR.

So now we’ve got paint on the scrapped walls. I need to paint the other walls white, which are all in much better condition, and I need to pick a trim color (I’m thinking just shades darker than the dark walls). We’ve got to clean up the rug and wipe down everything we didn’t take out of the room. We will start moving stuff back into place and I’ve got to brainstorm an idea for the halved table that has seen better days that we are using as counter along the side wall. Suggestions welcome!

Now go check out the Featured Participants and fellow Guest Participants! See you next week!

Budget Home Theater – The Reasoning {ORC Fall 2018: Week 1}



If you’ve landed here from the One Room Challenge, Welcome! We’ve just purchased an 80’s contemporary home in Upstate NY that just needs a little TLC to bring her back to her former glory.  

So we’ve been living in our new home in Upstate NY for about two months now. This house is admittedly, crazy big. We really didn’t need this big of a house, but dammit did the aesthetic and location and yard and price call to us. It has turned out to be a BIT more of a fixer upper than originally anticipated, but that’s ok. Every time a new problem pops up, we find ourselves groaning for a minute, and then enjoying digging in and trying to fix the problem ourselves. We’ve gotten braver over the years and have had pretty good luck so far. Cue the angels singing harmoniously. I’m living my dream, man.

So clearly an attempt to troubleshoot a slow drain in a kitchen sink last week would snowball into creating a budget basement home theater right? I’m sorry, do you not see the obvious thought process on this one? Let me explain.

As previously mentioned, this house is quite a bit bigger than our last house. This is not often a complaint you hear from home owners. And I’m not complaining, but I do want to find ways to creatively use these spaces. Once you’ve ticked off the obvious bedroom, tv room, play room, etc. areas that a family with two young kids wants, you start to get creative with the rest. Enter the Budget Home Movie Theater on the side of our semi-finished basement.  We technically bought a screen and projector and used our old SONOS system a month ago and set it up some pillows and folding chairs and that was it. But after an attempt to unclog and plunge a slow drain in our kitchen, which in turn caused us to burst a pipe in our basement in front of the screen, which caused a disgusting amount of stinky water to spill onto the carpet, and splatter on the poorly painted walls I thought to myself, hey, didn’t the One Room Challenge start this week? Maybe this is my chance to get back into blogging after a 2 year hiatus and albeit sporadic posting schedule previous to that.

Still with me? So let’s talk about the plan and why we are calling this a budget makeover. It’s less about the ability to spend and more about the practicality of spending too much on this space.

Reason #1 – I have serious PTSD regarding water in houses (stories I’ll eventually blog about). Even though this basement is already semi-finished (distinct rooms from additions built in the 80s, wall to wall carpeting in certain areas) I will NEVER trust putting up any new drywall in a basement. I’ve been burned too many times. I don’t even get upset anymore when I see water coming in through a ceiling or wall. However, accepting home ownership woes and being a masochist are two different things. What I’m trying to say is we’ve decided to visually split the usage of this room with paint and furniture, versus adding a wall to make it distinct and separate from the typical rec-room area stuff.

Reason #2 – My kids destroy everything. This is of course a slight exaggeration, but I do not have it in me to spend thousands of dollars on a nice leather sectional while they are 2 and 4. We started a having family movie night a few months back (in NJ) and they are allowed to eat popcorn on the couch on Friday nights. Greasy, buttery popcorn. It’s October, so I can’t help but hand them little Halloween treat bags of M&Ms too. Contrary to popular belief, I’m not a complete ice queen. So we are searching for second hand or cheaper (and probably not exactly pretty)  new couches for this area.  The ceiling is too low to do traditional movie theater stadium seating, though we did consider building a platform and nixed it. A sectional with a few reclining seats or a sleeper sofa (sleepovers in a few years!) is the goal.

Reason #3 – It just doesn’t seem necessary to go full fledged makeover. Is anyone else exhausted in reading about online/seeing IG photos of/watching TV shows about gut renovation jobs? I love me a good before and after, and yeah, we did that in our last house. A lot. This house doesn’t NEED any of that right now. And I’m happy to call myself a slow decorator (much to Tom’s dismay). So now that we are doing this ORC, we will probably pull together a few more things than what I would have normally done, but I can also appreciate calling a spot in our house complete.

The plan:

Clean, paint, buy seating, update the lighting, hang curtains, think of a plan for our halved table (more on that later), create a snack area, agree on movie posters to hang because why not. Maybe pretty up the rec room side of basement too, I don’t know, I don’t know if we’ll have time.

And of course, thank you to Linda and the team at One Room Challenge for continuing to host such a fun group experiment. As always, the Featured Designers will link up on Wednesdays, and Guest Participants will link up on Thursday through November 8th!

(Also, if you noticed and are wondering, you are not crazy. This Week 1 post is not linked up to the Week 1 Guest page because, yeah, I’m jumping in at Week 2 and missed that boat. Please accept me for who I am as a blogger.)

Welcome Back to I am Kilo Bravo {Vague Explanations and Managing Expectations}

**First written in October of 2017**
**Edited again in March 2018**
**Finally posting in October 2018**

I started this blog in October of 2010.  Blogging was VERY different back then. Popular, even.  Many have predicted the death of blogs due to Instagram and podcasts, but there are still a TON out there that I love reading. And I still have this personal itch to document certain aspects of my own home’s journey. I started this blog as a creative outlet to escape my mundane corporate life and because honestly, even though I’m not very good at openly admitting it, I am pretty proud of some of things we pull off in our home.  As it often happens, our lives changed dramatically over the next seven+ eight+ years. We started out in an apartment in Brooklyn, gots some cats, got married, had a baby, bought a house in NJ, had another baby, etc., etc.,…(sold our house in NJ, bought a house in upstate NY, etc., etc.,…)

We went through what felt like a horrific incident in our home in the summer of 2016.  In hindsight (as hindsight often has that way) it was totally, 100% tolerable. Not something you wish on people, but hey, we made it through and it’s a distant memory. Not long after that – and as I was finally sleeping again and feeling ready to share that story, something else happened in our family. Something that put our housing issues into major perspective. It didn’t feel right to talk about our house story in a public way anymore (for you seven readers out there that are probably personal friends anyway). How can I initially complain and then share our journey back on home renovations while someone else is going through ‘that’. While we are all going through ‘that’. While we are all still learning how to live in the aftermath of ‘that’.

The truth is that there is never really a ‘good time’ for anything. As I am often reminded, life marches on regardless. I want to begin to share certain aspects of our life because it brings me personal joy. And if I can give myself these small happinesses, I’d like to think I am a better mother, wife, and friend. Hitting publish on something I feel proud of is not unlike making it to a yoga class on Saturday for me. It invigorates me internally and I feel I am better person outwardly as well. Heck, this was all a way to escape my paying job, but I actually think I become a better employee when I allow myself to do this stuff, too. And to me, that is the point of life, right? At least I feel it is the point of my life. Trying to be the best version of myself that I can imagine? Basically thriving on all levels? (<-sarcasm font)

So I’m going to start small. I’m going to re-edit all those all old draft posts to catch you up to speed on the NJ house. And CLEARLY we’ve gotta catch up on the upstate NY house! And why not be really aggressive and attempt to be a guest participant in the Fall 2018 One Room Challenge? (Considering my last consecutive stint of blogging was Spring 2016 ORC, this makes sense to me). Be warned, my photography and photo-editing skills still suck. But most of all, thank you for reading and welcome back.

It was all good just a month ago…

Life has been really weird for the past month. Surreal. Bizarro.

We are all safe and healthy. But our house…our house is not right now.
But it will be again (like hopefully by October when our short term apartment lease runs out).   It’s a long, annoying story.  And generally I’m not really one to blog about my feeeeeeelings. But the series of events that have let up to today have been nothing short of surreal. And as crappy as what has transpired is – I also don’t want to forget this weird time in our lives.  You know, when we allegedly want to look back on all this and laugh in 5 years, as everyone keeps telling me.  And I also know that once it’s over and we are home again – the memory will feel fake. So I’m going to chronicle what I can chronicle now. Some parts I’m intentionally leaving out for privacy as we still don’t know how this story fully ends. Yes I’m being vague. But you can probably put two and two together as to why.
Screen shot from my IG account the morning of July 18, 2016:

Oh that silly asshole Irony.  Amiright?  So let’s rewind a little bit more to late June. Theodore (who has turned into suuuch a happy, smiling, go-with-the-flow baby) was still sleeping in our bedroom at 8 weeks old.  The plan was to get around to painting the new molding and doors in his nursery before moving him in. Yeah, remember when we had all the molding and doors replaced at the end of March while working on The Big Boy Room? So I never got around to painting them because I had Theodore a month early.  I was beginning to get some sleep and was gearing up to start painting. As everyone knows, this summer has been particularly hot. Our old AF HVAC had been running constantly, and because it’s old AF it was installed in our attic in like the 1840’s or something (just kidding our house was built in ’59). Apparently it’s way more common to install them in closets nowadays. Anyway.  
We hadn’t walked into the nursery in a few days. It was basically serving as storage so I honestly can’t tell you how many days it had been. But I walked in to get something, and out of the corner of my eye (or Tom’s eye, I can’t even remember who saw it first), there was BRIGHT GREEN FUZZY MOLD on the ceiling.  Like, this ish was new. And very happy in it’s environment. My plants outside the house are not that happy. I wish I could take credit for cultivating that amazing atmosphere for that mold on purpose.  We quickly realized the AC unit was directly above it in the attic. So we turned it off. We were leaving to go on a mini-vaca to a lake house on the NY/NJ border the next day for 4 days. We decided it could wait to be dealt with unpon our return.
We came home. We had one bumbling plumber come over and break stuff and tell me he had no idea what the problem was after 2 hours. Thanks guy. This was the last week of June and temps were hitting 100 degrees on the reg. I packed up the babes and high tailed it to my parents house in the Catskills. We did a little more due diligence the second time around in looking for an HVAC company and waited to get on their schedule. In the meantime Tom managed to put his foot through the ceiling one day while trying to poke around up there. Add it to list.

See that tiny patch of mold that we were losing our minds over? 

Skipping some of melodrama of the exact issues, at end of the day we needed a new HVAC system installed. I brought the kids home on July 5th to sit still in the stifling heat (there were not enough box fans in the world for those two days, luckily the boys handled the heat better than I did) so the workers could install the new system. And the guys were great. They stayed late 2 days in a row to get that system up and running for us, and our attic was easily well over 100 degrees. 

 ‘Your attic is a mess – this is going to take a while’

We called our usual interior contractors to come over and cut out the affected sheetrock and assess any other potential damage/treatment needed. As scary as the word ‘mold’ is to a homeowner (or a parent), the truth is that if the source is eliminated (broken, leaking HVAC) and the growth is removed, and everything is cleaned properly (patch of sheet rock, some insulation, lotso bleach), you really have nothing to worry about going forward. We breathed a nice cool sigh of relief.  Approximately two+ weeks of hot hell was over. Yipee! Our bad luck streak had officially ended. 

Let me just pause to say that it is f*cking comical to write that sentence out now. Folks, we thought that tiny patch of mold, a foot through the ceiling, and replacing the HVAC was the worst thing that could ever happen to us as homeowners.

In the meantime, we had gotten word that another set of contractors we had hired to basically redo our exterior (roof! siding! deck! fence!) were finally going to to start the work…you guessed it, the last week of my maternity leave.  July 18, 2016. See IG picture above if you already forgot what the real story is about.

To be continued…
  

ORC: The Big Boy Room – The Reveal! {Week 6}

You might be asking yourself “Wait, what happened to Week 5’s post?”

And if you’ve been following along on this challenge (or noticed my instagram feed to the right), you might have also guessed this happened:

Yup, Theodore Raiden decided to join us on May 1st, when I was just a day short of 36 weeks. Good thing we transitioned William into his big boy bed literally a week before, when the wallpaper was up, but the finishing touches were not quite there. Lots of big changes in a very short time period for this little big brother, but I am happy to report he has taken it all in stride.  I’m really regretting not doing a baby birthday pool sooner.

But enough about babies, onto the big boy room!

Yes, that is a pillow with a picture of Tom and I getting ready to sky dive. Seems fitting in the room.

William really digs his airplane bed. We picked it out without any input from him, so we are glad he likes it. He did fall/roll out of it pretty much every night for the first week, but since then he has been staying in it at night.  Luckily, we found a really plush shag rug (my nod to the original decor) that softens the fall, so we didn’t even know he was falling out until we would check the monitor and realize we couldn’t see him.  I’ve slowly been taking the extra pillows that were stacked around the bed away as he seems more and more comfortable.  His instinct is to go straight to the corner when we say its time to get into bed, which is why there are still a few blankets and pillows to the left, but he eventually crawls into bed as we sing songs or read.

I especially like the toy box on the front of the bed. We added two hinges so the top doesn’t have to come all the way off. There isn’t room for much else in here, so it’s nice to have a place to toss the handful of toys that get dragged up here in the course of the day.  We are still lacking in book storage – I’m on the search for a small magazine rack or basket.

The rocket canopy was not my idea. (Something like this was actually my original idea for the corner, but, you know, time and energy.) I still think the store bought version is a little too big for the room, but, I was outnumbered by Dad and William 2:1 (I should get use to this feeling I guess). We hung it from a stud, so its a few inches farther from the corner than I would have liked in an effort to minimize how huge it looks, but it is damn cute, and best of all, *hopefully* safe in case a kid decides to try to climb it or something.

We weren’t planning on bringing the glider from the nursery into this room.  And it wasn’t in here the first week. However, while we were in the hospital, the grandparents were really having trouble getting William to bed, and suggested we move it back in.  Sitting in this glider and reading before bed is a huge part of his bedtime routine, and it seemed like there were enough changes going on and we could concede on this small aspect to make his bedtime smoother.  It has already made a world of difference. The baby is in the crib in our room for the next 8 – 10 weeks or so, so nothing is in the nursery right now.  Hopefully we will be able to move it back when Theodore gets transitioned into his room.

I’m still looking for just the right diaper organizers for the closet.  The pocket hanger we bought from Amazon is a touch too small.  We have made good use out of a few simple hooks for clothes, hats, and the wet diaper bag for now though.  The clip on light has really helped with making diaper changes more efficient as well. It helps when you can see what you are trying to clean. Go figure.

The shelving between the windows were borrowed from other rooms in the house, so they are legit vintage brass brackets.  The wood tones match the hand-me-down dressers perfectly.   The olive green blackout curtains are velvet and match the rug which was a completely happy accident. I wish they were a little bit longer (I cringe at too-short curtains) but they only came in one size. Eventually I have great plans add a strip of fabric (I’m thinking something black and white with a small pattern) to the bottom so they look longer.  For now, I’m telling myself it’s a good thing the heavy fabric ends right at the radiators, so the heat isn’t completely trapped behind the curtains this coming winter.

Seek adventure, William Odin!

Airplane Bed Rocket Canopy Glider Rug Curtains Owl Hamper Seek Adventure Frame

I’m so glad I participated in the One Room Challenge.  Thanks to Calling it Home for hosting this great event once again!

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 6

ORC: The Big Boy Room – Wallpaper & Closet! {Week 4}

So last weekend, Tom and I tackled the wallpaper wall. Cue the dramatic thunder and lighting sound effects…and then sweet birds tweeting as a rainbow emerges.

Maybe it was because I over worry, and Tom under worries, but putting up the wallpaper was surprisingly easy.  We did some mental prep work during the week, discussing our plan of attack to get the wall done in the limited hours we would have with the grandparents over.  I read and re-read this great post from Red House West about their experience putting up two sets of this particular wallpaper in Mera’s play room.

The wallpaper package itself suggests starting from left to right on your wall, and drawing a plumb line about 1 inch short of the actual width of the first panel (18 inches, so we drew our plumb line at 17 inches from the corner). This is to accommodate for not so straight sheetrock corners, so that excess inch gets trimmed in place.  It also ensures your next 6 or 7 panels should be parallel going across the wall.

We knew we were only going to use about 6 and half of the 8 panels because our wall is a little smaller than the mural itself. We thought about trying to start with the middle panel, so we would have a more symmetrical mural (the trees lower in the middle and get taller on the sides), but given the good advice on the package to start left to right, and my pregnancy brain turning to complete mush lately (more on that later) I couldn’t mentally deal with the math (I’m an accountant IRL. This bodes well for my co-workers my last few weeks of work).  Short story long, we did left to right.

We really found 4 of the 5 tips in the RHW post helpful, especially #1 – when it says soak for 30 seconds, they mean it.  We timed the first one (we had a plastic table out in the room and were soaking the paper in a large shallow tupperware) and about 15 seconds in, Tom and I were arguing over whether or not to wait the additional 15 seconds.  The argument went something like this: Tom “This is gooey, lets take it out” Me “No, can we follow the damn directions? Let’s wait” Tom “I’m telling you Kayla, this shit is ready” Me “Fine, what do I know” (Because I’m a real defeatist like that. This is why I’m not a lawyer).

You know what, Tom was right (as usual). The paper was definitely adequately soaked.  As was our floor as we gently pulled the paper out. And it went up just fine. We had more than enough time to iron out wrinkles and shift the paper on the wall. There was a lot of goo, and we had a bag of new lint free rags ready to soak it up. We also used my 18 inch plastic fabric ruler to help smooth out bubbles and excess goo. We didn’t buy any other supplies, and I’m glad we didn’t waste money on it. We didn’t even need the giant sponge I found in the garage.  Another tip we especially appreciated from RHW: we had extra razor blades for trimming the excess paper, and went through about 8 blades on the 7 sheets we used.

We continued this way, soaking for about 20 seconds, and putting the paper up and played around with it for about 10 minutes. We actually realized “booking” the paper wasn’t working for us. I think if you had to put up paper yourself, this is probably great, but we had Tom on a stool attaching and shifting, and me crouched near the floor, holding the paper away from the wall ever so slightly so we would only attach it as Tom was ready to smooth it out.  We did the whole wall in less than two hours, with a little lunch break in between while my MIL put William down for his nap. Granted, this was a shorter wall, no windows, nothing crazy to cut around. And the print itself is VERY forgiving. But we were definitely impressed with ourselves (and petrified that within three days we would walk in and the paper would be peeling away from the wall in resentment). But I’m happy to report, a week later it still looks good!

We do have one tip of our own to offer up: When trimming the excess paper around any outlets with your box cutter – turn off the electricity!  Figured that one out the hard way (Tom, not me).

And now the closet.  When planning out the room, I was all for the monochromatic black and white look, but Tom was itching for some more color on the walls. I really wanted to keep the other three walls white, so we compromised on painting the interior of the closet. I’ve previously mentioned when we removed the old sliding doors, we opted not to put on new accordion doors as we did in the other rooms because we knew we would use this nook as a changing area.  The bed we purchased had some royal and navy blues in it, and we had found dark olive black out curtains for the windows.  I wanted to marry some of those colors in the closet to make it all look more purposeful.

While contemplating design, I came up with this sick MS paint rendering to send to Tom:

The light blue was meant to be some leftover paint we had from our master bath that I thought we might reuse here and the black lines depict the shelf above the dresser, the green was a sample pot we had on hand, and we knew we would have to buy the royal blue if we wanted to use it. We ended up making life easier on ourselves (or so we thought) and just buying a single gallon of the royal blue color (Deep River by Behr) and adding a single, angled stripe with the sample green (Grape Leaves by Behr).

Single, 4 inch angled stripe. How hard could that be you might ask?  Apparently VERY hard for me. I thought we would just start in one corner, tape at a slight angle, and let the tape determine the placement.  Sounded easy as I put up the top piece of tape. The bottom piece, not so much.  What started out at a 4 inch gap, turned into a 3 inch gap as I taped around the three inner walls.  So then I tried  to measure down 4 inches in a few spots and connect the dots, so to speak. Still wonky.  I could only assume the tape itself was wonky from being rolled, or our walls were not straight enough because they are old and we have found some seriously questionable construction decisions in this house.  CLEARLY, it could NOT be user error.  I spent two different lunch breaks up here (I work from home) trying to figure this out.

Thankfully, my mother happened to visiting for the week and by the third day, I enlisted her help. Remember when I said I’m a paint hog? It was time to let go.  She figured it out in a matter of minutes. (Also remember when I mentioned my pregnancy mush brain earlier?  Totally pulling that card again). Once we were satisfied with the tape, I painted inside the stripe with blue to help with bleeding, and gave it two quick coats of green. Voila! Abstract stripe.

So yeah, 2 hours to do a wall of wallpaper, and about 3 combined hours to paint a friggin’ stripe in a closet.  Who knew.  So what’s your favorite part?  I assumed it would be the wallpaper (which I LOVE, don’t get me wrong) but this pop of color in the closet has made me surprisingly happy!  And coincidentally, one of William’s cars totally matches this paint scheme. It was meant to be…

Next week – STUFF!!! Don’t forget to check out the other participants.

Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Week 6