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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!

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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.)

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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…