Saturday, July 31, 2010

Mudroom Makeover: I think I'm in love

Yes, I love my husband. And of course I absolutely adore my children. But this past week I had to make a little more room in this heart of mine because I love, love, love my new mudroom.

When we purchased this little piece of property we realized we were going to have to purge a few items and try to do more with less (see how that process went by clicking here). Yeah, we failed miserably on that front, so that left our family of five living in utter chaos.

For the past four weeks our master bedroom has been command central. Need toilet bowl cleaner? Check the dresser. Looking for the screw driver? It might be on one of the shelves in the closet (probably next to the wireless mouse I still need to get synched with our new laptop). Need to find the receipt for the rug that didn't quite work out. Good luck.

I'd be lying if I said the thought of sneaking off in the middle of the night to find a new home where extra toothpaste wasn't being stored alongside the door stoppers we have yet to install didn't cross my mind. It did. More than once.

Then my father-in-law showed up (to install a water line for our ice maker). Since I was having second thoughts about the fridge we had just purchased, I was able to hold off on that project for just a little bit and casually mention a new one. The mudroom.

Here's a look at the mudroom before:

Utter disorganization.
As I shared my dream of cubbies for the kids and cabinetry that could contain our clutter, my father-in-law snapped into action measuring the space and throwing out ideas. Then we talked budget. Apparently we weren't crazy thinking $600 could do it. I have to admit we were beginning to wonder after the guys at Lowe's told us it would take about $2,400 to construct a bench and a couple of cabinets. Ouch.

The next day my husband and father-in-law headed for Home Depot to gather all of the supplies. This included: 2 30" stock cabinets, 3 36" cabinets, loads of lumber (but some of this was used to build the pedestals for our washer and dryer), paint, primer, and two new paintbrushes.

Then it was my turn to snap into action. Since our basement isn't finished I was able to set up shop down there rather than sweat it out in the 90-degree heat. I removed the cabinet doors and grabbed the bucket of primer. Luckily the primer dried in about an hour (thanks, Kilz), so I was able to slap the first coat of paint on right away. The 8-year-old daughter showed up eager to help. Two days and four coats later we were finished.

Here's a look at a couple of steps in the process:

Removing the cabinet doors.

Painting the cabinets.

Time for my father-in-law (with some assistance from my husband) to take over and for the kids and I to take off for a mini-vacation. Woo-hoo. When we returned I was absolutely ecstatic to see that three of the cabinets had been hung. Over the next two evenings my father-in-law hung the remaining cabinets, cut the lumber to size, and finished the install.

Getting closer.

Measuring for the cubbies.

That's when my second shift kicked in. Armed with wood filler, sand paper, and paint, I worked to put the finishing touches on the cabinet and cubby frames. Then I grabbed my new favorite tool, the cordless drill and screwdriver, and put the doors on the cabinets, touched up the paint a bit more, added a couple of baskets, and marveled at my mudroom. Seriously, I marveled at it. I just stood in there and stared, so muich that my husband offered to move a mattress in there so I could look at the handiwork all night.

Here's the fabulous after shots:

Baskets for hats and mittens.

Hooks for coats and backpacks.

Just enough room on top for a few functional decorative touches.

You see before it was just a pass-through. Something completely unfunctional (dare I say dysfunctional). A hallway that I really just tried to ignore as I entered the house through the garage. Now it's a room worthy of my extra attention. It's functional and beautiful. While it still needs a few more decorative touches (coat hooks need to be installed and a few chocolate brown accents need to be purchased), I'm still absolutely, positively in love.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Infamous Closet 'System'

The lonely before shot
While we're certainly eager to dive right in and start fixing up the house, we also know our limitations. With that in mind, we decided to start with something easy (and functional).

Ahhh yes, the closet system. Can you believe we purchased a house that didn't even have rods in the closets? Well, the master bedroom did, but ehhh, they're certainly nothing to write home about. But that's a project for another day.

We decided to start with our 8-year-old daughter's closet. After all, she's reaching that age where clothes are sooooo important. Of course she respectfully disagrees with this statement. In fact, she can list at least two things that are more important to her than clothes: family and horses (at least she listed us first). But anyway, the closet system, and I use the word "system" quite loosely here. It's really just a double decker closet rod and shelf. Remember, we know our limitations.

So, with measurements in hand, my husband and I headed for Lowe's. We spent about 15 minutes ooh-ing and ahh-ing at the super deluxe closet systems then made a beeline for the ClosetMaid racks.

Don't try this at home drilling
"Two 4-foot long racks, please."

Ba-da-bing, ba-da-boom - we were out of there.

Not really. We took a few more spins around the store, purchased a brand-new cordless drill and then we were out of there.

At home we cleared the closet and set to work. First drilling the holes (oh the holes), then pounding in the anchor thingies for the top rack. Perfection.

This was cake - until we got to the bottom rack. You see the rack was about a quarter inch too long. Trust me. I have a three-inch-long gash in the closet wall to prove it. Not a big deal. It's a smidge too long. We could just saw it off, no problem.

No. This is a problem. This would require a saw.You see we were the people who were just buying the cordless drill the same day we purchased the closet system we were going to install. Like we have a saw.

So anyway, my husband was able to rid the rack of its extra quarter-inch. How? I don't know. He could have gnawed it off for all I cared. The lower rack was up. Clothes were hung. Totes were stored. Life was good.

And then, 20 minutes later, it all came to an end (a crashing one at that). Bleepity, bleep, bleep, bleep.

Youngest and oldest ready with supports
Now I had 12 holes (tears really) to go with that three-inch-long gash. Grrr-eat.

But then I remembered my good friend spackle. And spackle I did.

Then my husband went a little rogue on me. Forget the anchor thingies. He was going to come up with his own support system. And he did (said with just a hint of surprise).

Now, three weeks later that closet system is still in place holding not only the 8-year-old's clothes but her two brothers' clothes as well. With the skills we gained on this project we're thinking we might be able to step it up a knotch on theirs. But until then, big sister's closet is just fine.

Still standing!

Hay Y'all

Sitting atop one of the bales.

Let's talk hay bales. Yeah, I know. Ex-cit-ing. OK, not really. But, now that I've hauled off to the country I have to admit they're a little fascinating. Still not convinced? Yeah, me neither. But now that I have first-hand knowledge as to how they're created, I'll never look at another hay bale the same. You see along with a house and all of that, we also acquired four acres of alfalfa. Which, at first, I thought was kind of useless (especially after we found out we couldn't sell off the extra land and make a big fat profit). But then we started brainstorming all of the wonderful ways we could develop the land. Unfortunately we don't have the patience for pumpkins or even close to what it takes to establish a winery, so those dreams died pretty quickly.

The dreams may have died, but alfalfa remained - and we knew it would take an eternity for my husband to get through it with his 22-inch Tecumseh push mower.

Lucky for us, a local farmer showed up one day with his tractor and cut it. Then, said farmer arrived a few days later with another piece of farm machinery (a baler perhaps?) that raked it all up, wound it into a huge gigantic ball, and shot it out the back end. That's the cleaned up, PG version of what happened. Apparently the farmer will send us a check at the end of the year for all that hay. Cool. We'll probably get just as rich off that as we would the winery.

And if not, the bales make perfect targets for a little game of pasture golf. We could totally charge admission for that.

Movin' on up?

My husband and I have been married 12 wonderful years. In that time we've accumulated three beautiful children, one dog, two frogs, and a whole lot of stuff. Stuff that could (and did) fill a 3,000-square foot home. Stuff like computer monitors that we're too cheap to pay the $30 for someone to come in and properly dispose of. Don't worry, we don't sneak them into the local landfill or anything. We just move them from house to house. Seriously, we do. I have two clunky computer monitors gathering dust in my basement right now.

Stuff like burp cloths and boppy pillows, Barbie dolls, and bouncy seats (and I'm just on the B's). Don't even get me started on the three-foot tall trophy we've moved not once, not twice, but FIVE times since we married that hot July day oh so many years ago. Five times. That trophy probably didn't even cost five bucks to construct, yet there it is (right next to the computer monitors) reminding my husband of the day he beat out a handful of other elementary school kids in the state super shooter contest. I digress. What I'm really here to talk about is stuff and how we epically failed to get rid of it.

I had great plans really. I was going to cut our belongings in half. After all, we were going from a 3,000-square-foot home to one that measures 1,614. Seemed like a fairly simple task. Post a few items on Craigslist, host a garage sale, haul a van-load or two off to charity. Yeah, not simple. Hard.

Imagine my excitement when I had nine replies from people interested in my baby gear. Now imagine my disappointment when my inbox was filled with spam for the next three days. Rookie mistake.

And the garage sale? Rain. We were still able to get rid of a few items - and host a pretty mean lemonade stand. But I'm pretty sure the kids ate up at least half the profits. Oh well.

So when it came time to load up the U-Haul, we still had too much stuff. Lucky for us, we had family members who were more than willing to pack up their cars and trucks and trailers to get us where we needed to be. After all, once all the boxes were unloaded, they could leave. We couldn't. And now, three weeks later, we're still sifting through boxes desperately searching for our iron, a couple pair of shoes, and our loose change cup. No doubt all of those items are in a box...somewhere.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The beginning

We finally did it. Threw caution to the wind, checked our maturity at the door, and purchased a little ranch on six acres. Now, I don't want you to get the wrong idea. By ranch, I mean ranch home, not a ranch where we'd have to wear Wranglers, wrestle steers, and rope I don't know what. Nope, this 1,600-square-foot ranch is about as rustic as we can get. But still, we did it. Said goodbye to city life (OK, suburban life) and headed south where the air is fresh (most of the time), the space is open, and life is simple. And while our decision to ditch the life we've always known for the one we've always dreamed of didn't make a whole lot of sense to some, it made sense to us.

This blog, which I have every intention of updating as often as one husband, three kids, two frogs, one dog, and a half-dozen home improvement projects will allow, is dedicated to that dream.

Check out the totally cheesy pics from the day we closed.