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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…
  
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ORC: The Big Boy Room – Wallpaper & Closet! {ORC Spring 2016: 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