Category Archives: before and after

time is (not) on my side

My coworkers/friends Grace and Josh have just embarked on a cross-country adventure. They quit their jobs, sold most of their possessions, packed up their dog and are making their way from Philadelphia up to Alaska, where they will spend the summer, after which they will drive back down the coast to California on a hunt for a new place to settle. They’re also blogging about it. Obviously this is bittersweet for me, because we will all miss them dearly, but I’m incredibly happy and envious that they’re taking this chance.

Greg and I aren’t packing up our stuff for a cross country move anytime soon (sorry Susanne!) But in my sadness to see them go, I decided to let them inspire me in smaller ways. I worked with Grace for two years, but only in the past few months have I gotten to know her better and was looking forward to spending more time with them. Then came their big announcement. Since then I’ve been kicking myself that we didn’t hang out more, but it’s just one of those classic situations where you think you have plenty of time, and then BAM. You don’t.

So one of the lessons I’m taking away from their adventure is to stop letting time pass me by with nothing to show, stop putting things off for later. Because later comes WAY faster than you think.

First thing to stop procrastinating: Finishing the house. Second thing: Blogging about it.

The happy coincidence about this is that our contractor happened to have started working on two of our big remaining projects today: First floor powder room/airplane bathroom, and the front hallway. Check out some before pictures:

Vestibule: Before

Vestibule: Before

Vestibule: Before

Vestibule: Before
Powder Room: Before

Powder Room: Before

Powder Room: Before

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annnnndddd we’re back.

Every time I stop and think about how I neglect this little blog, and start to feel guilty, but then make myself feel better by assuming that nobody cares anyway, someone pops up to contradict me. Hope you’re happy, Brenda!

So let’s see…what have we been up to….

I’m sure you’re sitting there assuming that Greg and I did not succeed with our 2011 challenge to finish the house by the first day of summer. And of course you’d be correct in that assumption. HOWEVER. I will say that we did make some good progress, namely that every room in the house is now officially painted, including the miles and miles of vertical wall space in the hallways. Oh, actually we didn’t do anything with the vestibule yet, damn! Okay, so like 98% of the walls are painted.

Personally I think summer is way better suited for things like picnics and hikes and days at the beach and walks to get ice cream than, say, slaving in a sweaty house. So we generally let ourselves off the hook for not working on it in the summer.

So in order to stall and give myself more time to actually work on things, I shall commence catch-up on stuff we’re already done. Beginning with…

The hallway. The funny thing about home improvement projects is that sometimes you put something off and put something off and get hives at the mere thought of a certain project. Come to think of it, that sounds like every project we take on. It was like this with the hallway painting. Our second and third floor hallway involves lots of surface area with cracks and old holes left from various electricians, in addition to the typical high and hard-to reach spots that staircase hallways tend to be plagued with. We brainstormed about half-assed scaffolding, bendy ladders, and just paying someone else to deal with it. This act of dread occupied about a month and a half of our thoughts. In the end, we settled for a Shurline edger on a pole and it worked like a charm.

(I really wish we had enough natural light in the hallway to take decent pictures, but until I figure out how to work my fancy camera better, this is the best I could do)

BEFORE:

hallway: before

hallway: before

hallway: before

hallway: before

hallway: before

The other part was choosing a color, which I hate hate hate. I’m terrible at picking colors, especially for surfaces that will occupy so much of the house. I didn’t want to jerk around with figuring out complementary shades, so instead we decided to just pick one color and go with it. After applying half a dozen patches of sample colors that basically gave us no insight whatsoever, I chose a color called “Toasted Marshmallow” – controversial because of my love and Greg’s hatred of the sugary gelatin treats of the same name. So after lots of patching and a few coats of primer, we dove in and started. And it looked…….basically exactly the same!! You can imagine the bitchy tiff that ensued when we realized that the color wasn’t really a color at all, but basically just a more refined version of the bare walls that we had stared at for the previous year. But in the end neither of us could face another five trips to home depot and six 3/4 full cans of paint cluttering the basement, so we opted to stick with it. Of course painting for days on end when you already know you don’t like the color is less than a joy.

AFTER:

hallway: after

hallway: after

hallway: after

Then about two days later, a funny thing happened. I started to like Toasted Marshmallow. REALLY like it, actually. In the end, we both feel like it gives the hallway a clean and crisp look, and won’t compete with the oodles of artwork we plan to hang on the walls…someday, when we get around to it.

a laundry list of things to do

We’ve got a big new project brewing that is going to change our lives forever! And no, it’s not a baby.

On the second floor we have this middle bedroom that we’re currently using as a “dressing room”. We have some dressers, a couple of clothes racks, and a whoooooole lotta dust and general grossness. I hate that room. I prefer to pretend it doesn’t exist and spend as little time in there as humanly possible. The paint is peeling, the walls are crumbling, the lighting is terrible, and there’s a gaggle of dust bunnies in any given corner at any given time, regardless of how often I vacuum. It’s one of those rooms where if you drop an item of clothing on the floor, it needs to be shaken out rigorously to get the dust and animal hair off it. Or really it needs to be thrown back in the laundry, which brings us to our second problem.

The washer and dryer are in our even grosser basement. There is no five-second rule for dropping something on the floor down there. If you should happen to let a pair of undies slip through your arms on their way to the dryer, just give it up, they’re goners. On top of the general unpleasantness of doing laundry in the basement, our dryer broke a few months ago, which means everything gets line-dried. Our towels are crispy, our sheets take two days to dry, and underwear really just never snaps back to its original form, leading to an inordinate amount of wedgies, and even once dry, our clothes smell like a gnarly basement. On top of which at this point, I’m convinced the washer doesn’t really wash anymore, so the dog and cat hair remains embedded in every fiber of every garment we own, and everything smells vaguely like moldy water. It’s really a sad state of affairs at the Passyunk Palace.

We’ve had the idea for a while now to convert the “dressing room” into a laundry room/linen closet/walk-in-closet dealie. The dryer issue has sealed the deal and made us speed up our plans. Since the room has two doors – one that goes in from the hallway, and one that goes in from the bedroom, we’re going to split the room in half and have one side be a walk-in closet for the bedroom, and the other side be a laundry room and linen closet from the hallway.

I have very high hopes for this project. In addition to being able to conveniently and thoroughly clean our clothes, the closets are going to open up a whole new world of storage possibility. I’ve been daydreaming about things like having shelves full of neatly folded stacks of sheets, rubbermaid bins full of extra blankets and pillows, boxes of off-season clothes, hanging space for winter coats, a permanent home for the vacuum, and a shelf full of extra toiletries. For once in my life, I’ll be able to buy a 12-pack of toilet paper!! And yes, I realize I should be a little concerned over feeling so happy about 12 packs of toilet paper. The upshot is that we will be finally getting closer to cleaning up the house – having a place for everything and everything in its place. Because right now we don’t have a place for anything, and everything is just hanging out in plain sight. And it’s making me crazy.

So consider yourself among the privileged few to see the “before” shots, as this room is the biggest embarrassment of the house and is normally off limits to visitors:

laundry room - before

laundry room - before

laundry room - before

laundry room - before

laundry room - before

laundry room - before

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$5 facelift

A couple of weeks ago we were having a few people over for Greg’s birthday. The morning of the party, I had to run out to the local grocery store to pick up a few things I’d forgotten. Much to my dismay, it was a prime sidewalk sale day, and here I was stuck inside cooking and cleaning. On my way to the store, I spotted a guy selling a primo tv/bar cart, just ripe for the refinishing. I could hardly contain my excitement, and breezed through Acme as fast as possible lest someone else snatch up my find. Luckily it was still there when I came back, and after paying the guy $5 it was mine, all mine. I rolled it back four blocks to my house in the stifling heat, smiling all the way. It was so loud all the neighbors probably thought I was a homeless guy pushing his Home Depot shopping cart full of prized posessions (side note – the Home Depot near our house must be pretty lax in their shopping cart security, because that seems to be the cart of choice for all the locals to steal). A block away from the house I was giggling to myself thinking about how Greg would roll his eyes when I showed him the newest piece of crap that I dragged home with the intention of fixing up. When I looked up, he was actually at the other end of the block walking toward me on his way to the DMV, and he saw me and stifled a laugh. I waved my arms really big as if to get his attention and shouted, “HEEEEY!!!! LOOK WHAT I GOT FOR US!!!! ARE YOU SO EXCITED??!@#!#??” He couldn’t help but laugh, and when he got closer he gave me the typical trying-to-be-nice reply “Oh….um, yeeeaaahhhh…that’s cool…..” Sort of like his reaction when I first brought him to see the house we now live in. Coincidentally, when I showed it to our friend who came to the party, she said she swears she saw it out on the street on the other side of the city the week before, and tried to take it but it wouldn’t fit in her car. Luck for me it made the rounds through the trash-picking scene and right into my heart.

bar cart - before

bar cart - before

After cleaning it up a bit, I painted the fake wood parts white, and left the chrome frame untouched. I also covered the surfaces with some paper from The Paper Source and topped it off with clear contact paper to make it water resistant. It came out pretty nicely for a first try I think. I’m still not sure how all the colors look together, the chrome feels a little too busy, so I might eventually wind up painting that too.

bar cart - after

bar cart - after

bar cart - after
Now the big question is where to put it?

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