Tuesday, March 4, 2014

REFINISHING BASEMENT STAIRS - PART 1

This past weekend was a busy weekend for us with wrapping up a few projects and it feels good to have things nearing the finish line!

Chris installed all of our quarter round on the first floor and I taped the baseboards and caulked to prep for painting them with a fresh coat of bright white paint. Bright white trim can make a house feel brand new!

Luckily, the only items left for the basement include paint - painting our office french doors white and painting the closet doors a bright white/installing the door knobs. The stairs were begging to be finished - they are the original builder grade stairs that led to our basement.


The above image was my inspiration photo for the project. 



The first thing we had to do was remove the top bull-nose from the stairs that was installed with the upstairs carpet. We had to add an extra piece of wood when installing our upstairs flooring and a new bull-nose transition that matches the new floor.


The next step was priming the risers and trim. I started this project backwards - all of the tutorials I have read say stain, then paint. So trust them! I didn't find a lot of trouble doing it backwards since I was super careful when staining, but I do have a few spots to touch up because of it!


You can see our new top transition in this photo. 


After priming, I sanded and taped off each of the steps so when painting I would get nice lines. Trust me, sanding paint on the edges of your steps is a pain!



After painting the risers and trim with two coats I was ready to call it a night!


The next day I removed the painters tape and started preconditioning the risers. I would condition every other step so I could easily work my way back down.


I did the same method when staining the stairs. I carefully stained the steps- trying not to get any on the risers or trim. After 15 minutes, I wiped the remaining stain off.


You can see after one coat the stairs match pretty perfectly with the new floors! I'll share the finished results later this week.

Friday, February 28, 2014

FIRST FLOOR BATHROOM PLANS

Things are going great with the floors and fireplace! All of the first floor flooring has been installed, we just have to add the quarter round and paint all of the trim a bright white to finish it off! I started caulking the fireplace yesterday and still need do some patch painting and finishing touches before sharing.

Hoping to get that done this weekend!

Onto other news... I have finalized all of the plans for our downstairs half bath and we will be grabbing those materials within the next week. Currently the bathroom door is detached and the floor is halfway ripped. So you can imagine our excitement to get this puppy started!

Chris and I enjoy having no major improvement plans in the summer and fall so we can enjoy vacations, being outdoors and hanging with friends and family.


Originally I really wanted a pedestal sink. I think they are classic and great in small bathrooms. However, after doing all of the research on how to install one it involved cutting holes into our walls or hiring a plumber and that's not something we were willing to do just for a vanity. Plus we would lose the storage aspect.

Beadboard and chair rail painted in a bright white, marble hex floors, chrome finishes, sage walls and oil rubbed bronze door handles/hinges... oh my! 

I think this is a great representation of our style and will last through the years. I love how the marble hex will tie in the marble herringbone hearth in the room down the hall. Shiny chrome finishes and shelving over the toilet will add classic details. 

I love it all!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

LIVING SOCIAL COOKING CLASS - 918F STREET

This past Christmas I bought a Living Social deal for one of their cooking classes. I thought it would be something new and fun my Dad and I could do together. With Valentine's Day coming up, this would be an AWESOME thing to do with your lover and I highly suggest it!


The great thing about living in Maryland is DC and Baltimore are both easily accessible. The Living Social DC headquarters is located right near the Verizon Center and driving to it and finding parking was actually easy!


We loved that you could buy beer or half bottles of cava/wine. The prices were decent and drinking while cooking makes everything better!


We started with a shrimp appetizer - easily my favorite meal we made.


The Living Social helpers bring you each round's (meal) ingredients pre-measured for you, which makes things really easy.



Our second course was mussels in a tomato based broth. Both my Dad and I usually don't touch these things, but we both ate the entire dish. It was really light and we held off on some of the spice - which was a good decision!


Our third course meal was our least favorite. I am usually a lover of calamari, but there wasn't enough breading and I definitely cooked these for too long :-(


Our fourth dish (and final course) was oven baked Moroccan white fish. It was delicious and even though the Living Social helpers placed it in the oven for the group, it came out awesome.

My Dad and I had such a great time, I definitely recommend these classes for anyone that wants to try something new, fun with friends/family/lovers!

Monday, February 10, 2014

FIREPLACE HEARTH PT. 1 - HERRINGBONE MARBLE TILE HEARTH

We are finally on our last room of installing new flooring in the house - woo hoo! We were all ready to tackle it this weekend when we ran into a bump in the road. We needed a transition for the floors that lead to the basement stairs... and unfortunately that transition had to be special ordered from Home Depot and wasn't going to get here until the 15th. 

Thankfully, earlier that week I had gone to Home Depot and picked out tile to use on our fireplace hearth. My mom and I had originally planned to work on it while Chris was installing the wood floors in the room, but it worked out to our advantage since the demo of the original hearth took an entire day!


Here's a throwback to our fireplace (pre-Lucas updates) 


And one with my handsome hubby after we lit that sucker up for the first time!


And here is how we last left it. I painted the mantle the same white (BM white dove) as our kitchen cabinets in the adjoining room (you can see them peaking through in the mirror) and also painted the brick. I did two coats on the brick and wiped it with a towel in a few places so it didn't have a thick solid coat. I liked that it had a bit of a white washed feel. 

Two things still aren't working for us: 1) the gold on the doors and 2) the red red brick hearth


When Young House Love posted their fireplace makeover, I instantly pinned it to my Pinterest board. I loved the herringbone pattern and the marble subway tiles were available at our Home Depot! Unlike them, we demoed our existing hearth - rather than just tiling on top (theirs was linoleum and ours was tile). 


I didn't take many photos of the actual demo process, but just imagine Chris hacking away at the hearth that was laid directly on top of our sub floors with a crowbar and hammer. Not fun.



Once the old hearth was ripped up, my mom and I measured the cement board to the correct dimensions and Chris screwed them to the floor. We also added the transition track for the new floors directly onto the cement board since our floors float and this ensured everything would be level once the floors were installed. 


The next step was exciting! We laid out all of the tile from the boxes and started dry fitting the tiles in place and making sure we had a good variation of color. Although we had to move all of these pieces before getting started and trying to put them all back in the same place was frustrating, its definitely a step you don't want to forget. This ensures you have enough tile to complete the job and also gives you an idea of the tricky cuts you need to make. Chris had to cut the bottom of the mantel so the tiles would fit underneath.


My mom made all of my cuts, while I laid and measured everything out. We used quick-set mortar and I made sure to use spacers when laying everything out. I bought natural gray grout because I wanted the herringbone pattern to really pop - which meant my spacing needed to measured. 


Laying the tile went super quick once I was able to use full length tiles. 
 

I "back buttered" the remaining tiles in place which worked really well and used a piece of paper the size of a full tile to act as a template that I could fold into the shape of the tricky pieces. Once I had the paper folded to fit, I traced the shape I needed on a tile so my mom could cut it to size. 

Again - spacers were my friends for this! Next up is grout, floors, trim, caulk, spray painting the doors (later?) and any touch up painting to the walls.


Little changes like this really make our home feel more like "us" and it's also really exciting and a huge sense of pride to know we have done so much to this house to make it how it is today.

I couldn't have done this project solo - Chris was awesome with the demo and my mom was awesome with cutting the tile! I'm super thankful I have both of them to help me with my crazy ideas!

Friday, January 31, 2014

INSTALLING FLOORS - FIRST FLOOR PROGRESS

I have to say, my husband has been impressing me again and again with his handyman skills. If I knew he was such a skilled worker, I would have convinced him to marry me sooner :-)

Once we decided on the flooring for the basement, we agreed we wanted to continue the same flooring upstairs on the first floor. The carpet had seen better days from everyday wear and tear and we like to entertain... which comes with it's fair share of spills. The bathroom and kitchen both had your average linoleum floors and the foyer/hallway's hardwood just wasn't our style.

After reading several online articles about placing laminate floors in the kitchen, we decided to continue the floors in that room as well. We have plans of adding a kitchen island to the room and moving our kitchen table to the conjoining family room which has a fireplace. (similar concept) We are hoping having the same flooring in both rooms will give it that open concept feel while also adding more counter and storage space. Something this house definitely needs!





We finally got the existing hardwood ripped up in our entry/halls which was glued and nailed so we are good to go for the weekend!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

CRAVING A SPRING TABLESCAPE

I'm not one who usually wishes away a season - I really do enjoy winter, spring, summer and fall. Especially since Maryland is one of the states you are lucky to experience all four. BUT... lately I have been craving spring. Not just for the warmer weather (I have lots of hours to spend in the gym before then), but for the longer days and being able to spend my evenings outside in the garden or sipping a glass of wine on our deck.

I really enjoy hosting small groups at our house. So... to help my spring cravings I put together a small tablescape board to help you get in the mood too! Come on March 20th :-)



Friday, January 10, 2014

BABY BUCKET LIST

I'm not going to lie. I have been bitten with the baby fever bug after seeing so many cute baby posts on Instagram and Facebook lately... but, there are no plans for a baby Lucas in 2014! Just wanted to put that out there in case you were wondering since I've been bringing it up lately.

I have been talking about making a baby bucket list for awhile and finally brought the idea up to Chris. I think it's a great idea to put on paper all of those things you would like to do before a baby comes around. Of course not all of these things have to be done before we decide to start a family, but it's fun putting on paper all of the things and places we'd like to do and see!

1. Take a friends vacation! Chris would love to go on a cruise with some of our friends and I would love to go to New Orleans. We have plans to go this September/October with friends.

2. Take a girls trip and guys trip! Chris has one planned for this March and I would love to go to Nashville or Maine with some girlfriends this year or next!

3. Visit San Fransisco and rent a car for a day and go to a vineyard in Napa. 

4. Go to a concert together. Perfect for the summer.

5. Spend a long weekend in Brooklyn around Christmas and visit NYC!

6. Conquer a healthy routine. This is really important to me - I'd like to get into a routine that is healthy before I get pregnant. Weekly gym time and eating the right things (at least during the week) so it will be easy for me to continue once I am pregnant. Healthy mommy = healthy baby.

7. Spread some random acts of kindness. I'd love to go out one day with Chris and do random acts of kindness. Pay for someone's coffee, go to someone's house and start washing their car, leave behind kind little notes in the grocery store. 

8. Take a cooking class together. I'm taking one with my dad later this month and would love to take one for Valentine's Day with Chris!

9. Make a list of all the restaurants we want to try and go to them!

10. Conquer the first floor bathroom, installing hardwood on the first floor and adding molding to the dining room.  House projects won't be as frequent once we have kids so time to get them out of the way!