Wrapping up our floor project, coupon clipping and palm leaves

And we’re done! Well, almost. The floor has come along way since November and we are really in the home stretch now. The grouting is complete and now we need to seal the floor again and put in a new baseboard.

One important note to keep in mind when you are grouting a floor is to make sure you do not grout yourself in. Always grout toward a door so that you can get out when you’re finished. We started in the far right corner of our room and worked our way toward the kitchen door. This would’ve put us finishing out into the foyer entrance. But after we started, it made more sense to grout toward the foyer entrance and put ourselves out the kitchen door so that we could still access the sink for water buckets and the garage for clean up.

BJ grouted and I followed behind with the bucket of water and sponge to clean up the excess grout. (Obviously I wasn’t cleaning when I was taking pictures :))

Here are my buckets of water! Ready to clean!


Even though it has taken awhile to finish this project, it has been worth the wait. The floor looks so great with grout and it will look even better once we install the baseboard and finish off the edges. I’m looking forward to the return of our dining room furniture and seeing the complete look.

What else have we been up to lately? I started coupon clipping like crazy, but due to my lack of coupon organization, the first few trips to the grocery store did not go as well as I planned .  So to fix that, I made a trip to the Container Store to buy an inexpensive coupon organizer to help me in my coupon clipping endeavors.

You can see in the photo that my former carrying method was a ratty white envelope. It made it very difficult to find anything and the coupons kept spilling. It was a mess. Now our coupons are organized by date and hopefully this will allow future money-saving trips to the grocery store.

In the background of the coupon madness, you might have noticed our island center piece has a new look for the Easter season. Last Sunday, BJ and I attended Palm Sunday service and we brought home these palm leaves. I thought they would look nice in our center piece for the rest of Lent.

That’s all for tonight! Goodnight everyone!

Updates on the slate tile floor and kitchen pantry

Over the past few months our dining room floor has sat idle, waiting for grout. The cold weather made it difficult to open the windows and let the room air out during the grouting process, so we patiently waited for it warm up again. Spring is officially here and since they are calling for nice weather this weekend, we took the opportunity to get the floor ready to grout.

Before we could start the next step of finishing the floor, we needed to fix a few broken tiles and re-set the tiles that came loose after we set them.

We walked around the floor trying to feel if anything rocked or squirmed under our feet. If we found a tile that was either broken or loose, we marked it with painters/masking tape. The tape served as a way to find the tiles we planned to repair so we wouldn’t spend time walking on every tile each time we fixed one.

After we were sure we found all the tiles to repair, we slowly lifted the loose tiles to make sure we didn’t break anything. Then we used a hammer and chisel to remove the mortar from the concrete. For the broken tiles, they were set a little better so we had to use the chisel to pry them off of the floor. Some tiles were set so well we had to lightly hit them with the hammer a few times to loosen them from the floor. Then we used the chisel and hammer to remove the remaining mortar and tile.

For the broken tiles, we had to replace them with new tiles and throw away the old ones.

We saved a few tiles when we first laid the floor just in case we needed them down the road. We used three of the tiles today and now we have 2 or 3 left if we need them. Once we picked out new tiles from our reserve and cleaned up the dust and mortar pieces, we started replacing the tiles. Before we put the mortar down, we taped off the surrounding tiles to prevent excess mortar splattering on the faces of the clean tiles. Then we spread the thin-set mortar.

For a few of the tiles, we added extra mortar to the low spots to make sure they set.

Then we laid all the tiles and made sure to press them into the mortar to get a strong contact between the mortar and the tile.

It took a few hours to remove the old mortar and set the tiles and during that time, Zoey paid us a few visits. She’s not allowed in the dining room, but she kept coming to supervise and even crossed the threshold to test her limits and run to the open window. She is mischievous!

Now that the broken and loose tiles are repaired, we are ready to fully prep for grout. Our next steps are to seal the tiles again and then wait 24 hours for the tiles we fixed to set up. Then, we grout! Once the grout is finished, we will seal the floor two more times. After we seal, and the floor dries, we can replace the base board. And then, our dining room is finished!

The floor project has gone well so far and although we’re not quite finished, I have a few lessons learned to share with anyone thinking about a DIY slate floor:

1. Do not rush a tile floor. It takes time to do all the associated steps.

2. Make sure you press all the tiles firmly into the mortar. If they are not in the mortar, they will come loose a few days after you are finished.

3. Always take the time to prep the floor before you put tile down. A clean floor is better for the mortar.

4. Make sure you can open the windows when you lay the thin set mortar. It will help keep the overwhelming smell down.

And that’s where we are with the floor. It’s almost ready to grout, we just need to wait for the tiles to set, clean the entire floor and seal it one more time.

More updates to come!

In other news, I also worked on the kitchen pantry this week. I acquired more Target gift cards and used them to buy OXO containers. I also reorganized the pantry and it went from this:

To this:

I still need a few more OXO containers for some of my baking supplies and snacks, but it has definitely come a long way from before. There were so many boxes of cans stacked on the floor and now they are easily accessible on the bottom shelf. I also reorganized our food into categories. I tried to keep the breakfast products somewhat together, the baking supplies in one area, the cans on one shelf and the snacks together. Now I can see exactly how many of items we have. And with our snacks in vacuüm sealed containers, they will last longer and I won’t have to throw away stale bags of chips!

That’s all for now! Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Winter cleaning

It’s that time of year again. Time for spring… err… winter cleaning.

This year I got a head start on my spring cleaning and now I’m calling it “winter cleaning.” As part of my new year’s resolutions, I want to get organized. I started with my scary bathroom drawer and moved my way around the house. So far, I’ve cleaned/organized our closet and now I’m moving on to other locations in the house. My next stops are the laundry room and kitchen pantry.

All of this organization mania started a few weeks ago when I received this in the mail:

I love the Container Store. I would also love to go there and buy an Elfa system for every closet in the house as well as the laundry room. But for now, cleaning and self-organizing will have to do.

So as promised, an update on the closet. Here is the before and after for our master closet.

Before:

After:


It doesn’t look like this yet… but it’s still a work in progress. We are getting closer!

2-19-08closet7.jpg 

I spent a few hours just sorting through and getting rid of clothes I no longer wear. A local non-profit will be in receipt of our donations in the near future. After I eliminated the clothes I no longer wear, I start organizing and folding the remaining clothes. For the non hanging clothes, I folded and neatly arranged them on the shelves and then I organized the hanging clothes by color and type. Finally I organized the shoes and scarves and then, I could see the floor again! Hooray! Now I won’t feel as stressed when I walk into the closet every day. I can pick out my clothes in a more welcoming environment.

While I’ve been cleaning, BJ has been busy working on the crown molding project. He made it all the way above the kitchen cabinets before running out of molding. Another trip to the home improvement store is in our future. We also need to pick out new baseboards for the dining room, so the timing worked out well.

So far, our 2012 has been full of cleaning and home improvement projects. Even Zoey is excited to see the progress!

That’s her serious face.

Well even if Zoey isn’t excited, we certainly are. I can’t wait to wrap up the dining room and crown molding projects.

We have some big plans for this year. Here are some of the things we would like to do in 2012:

1. Cleaning/Organizing the garage
2. Cleaning/Organizing the laundry room and kitchen pantry
3. Towel rack projects for master and guest bathroom
4.  Decorate the loft area

And I’m still working on my resolution to blog more often. So much to do! More updates to come.

2012 New Year’s resolutions

My 2012 New Year’s resolutions:

1. Get organized (closets, bathrooms, laundry room and kitchen pantry)
2. Finish projects we started in 2011
3. Blog more often

Resolution #1: Get organized (closets, bathrooms and kitchen pantry).

This year, the holidays came and our organization methods went out the window. The current state of our master closet is scary. Yikes!

Organizing a closet is easy, but the problem lies in keeping it organized. The organization needs to be functional. If it’s difficult to keep something organized than it’s not worth it. My organization methods have failed in the past because they are too difficult to keep. So I went to Pinterest for some inspiration. Here is what I found:

 

Here are a few of my favorite ideas for closet organization:

2-19-08closet7.jpg

2-19-08closet15.jpg

We spend every morning in our closet. I want it to be a place where we can go and feel good starting our day. I love the idea of putting a chair or a rug in the closet. It makes it feel like another room in your house instead of just a place to store your clothes. Hopefully we can find a way to make our closet both functional and welcoming.

Next on the list is the bathrooms. I always struggle with keeping bathroom items organized. I start off so well, but after a few weeks my drawer looks like this:

I waste time digging around to find what I need. The frustrating part is that I only use half of the items in this door. The other items are in there for storage because I use them occasionally. There has to be a better way. So again, it’s off to Pinterest for inspiration.

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

I bought a few blue flower pots at Ikea to start an herb garden. The pots are sitting in our kitchen and have been there for almost a year. Perhaps, I could use them to organize our bathroom instead.

I would also like to organize our pantry and laundry room. Here are some of my ideas for organizing these spaces:

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

Pinned Image

New Year’s Resolution #2: Finish Projects we started in 2011.

After Thanksgiving, December flew by. We ran out of time to finish the floor in the dining room before Christmas. Now that the holidays are over, we should have more time on our hands.

The crown molding is also on hold until we have more time. Hopefully we can finish this project soon.

New Year’s Resolution #3: Blog more often. 

My New Year’s resolutions will keep me pretty busy this year, so hopefully that means more posts to read. I will keep you updated on our progress!

I’m off to start on our closet and bathroom!

Happy New Year!

Shelves and new projects

The shelves are up and the wait is over!

As I posted a few weeks ago, there is a large purple wall in my office that was a blank canvas. Originally, I wanted to hang a photo collage on the wall. But after looking at photos of other home offices and thinking about it, I decided I wanted to do shelves. Before I found the floating shelves at Ikea, we were going to make our own. I would’ve been a lot of fun to make our own, but the Ikea shelves turned out really well.

Remember the blank purple wall:

And our fabulous find at Ikea. Floating shelves!

Prior to the shelf install, my rendering of what the wall would look like included three white shelves. After some thought and measurements, I decided  on two shelves for now. I can always add a third which would be lower to the ground.

Putting up the new wall decor was more difficult than I thought. The shelves came with metal braces to hold them on the wall and then you put the shelves on to the metal braces and screw them into place. Seems simple, right?  The truth is, it was not easy to measure, level and hold the brace with only two people. The brace was flimsy and I couldn’t keep it still.

One of the issues we ran into was the lack of studs in the wall. So our solution was to use anchors to make sure the shelves are stable and we do not wake up one night to the sound of everything crashing in the office. Those little white holes in the wall are anchors. They look like big white plastic screws with holes where the smaller metal screw goes. Evidently those little suckers can hold up to 75 lbs!!!

After we got one shelf up on the wall, we used it to measure where we were going to put the second shelf. We used a very sophisticated method: Post-it notes. Hey, it worked! The fancy red arrow on the wall is our Post-it. Now BJ can no longer tease me for having millions of them (another post for another time). In time of need, the Post-its came though.

Here is the finished product with both shelves on the wall.

And thanks to the anchors, even with the decorations, they are still solid! (I always worry)

Now I just need to do some rearranging, hang some more pictures and my office will be complete! For now 🙂

With the temperatures outside cooling off, BJ and I are getting into home improvement project mode. There is a wall in our kitchen/living room that we are planning to paint blue as an accent wall. In a few weeks, we can finally start painting. It’s been too warm to open up the windows while we paint. We are also going to put up crown molding in the living room and kitchen to hide some wires from our ceiling speaker install. It’s going to be a busy fall for us! Here is a preview of our upcoming projects:

Painting the accent wall:

And crown molding to cover our speaker wire:

Have a great Sunday everyone!

Sneak preview: the shelves are up!

All the cool kids are doing home improvement projects on Friday nights. What did you do tonight?

So because it’s late and it’s been a long week, I’m not going to dive into how we put up the shelves tonight. I will update you on the start to finished process in my next post. But as promised… here they are:

I apologize for picture quality. There is not much light to work with in my office.  I usually work with just my desk lamp at night. The glowing ball of light in the corner is my paper lantern light.

More pictures to come. I will some better shots in the morning. 🙂

In the meantime… goodnight all! Check back soon!

Another busy, yet accomplished weekend

These days it seems like every weekend is a busy one. However, this weekend was successful despite our busy schedule. So to catch you up on the past few days, I’ve spent most of the week calling home and working on projects around the house. Here are the highlights of this past week’s happenings:

1. The earthquake on the East Coast.

Since all of my family lives on the East Coast, I spent Tuesday evening sending text messages and calling home to my mom and dad to hear the stories of their experiences during the quake.

2. Hurricane Irene.

It’s been a crazy week for my friends and family on the East Coast. More phone calls home and watching the weather to see the path of the storm.

3. Despite the bad weather on the East Coast, it’s been a beautiful week here in the Midwest.

Although I hoped to get more work done outside in the beautiful weather, I’ve been spending some time indoors trying to get projects done and catch up on some cleaning, etc. Tonight is the first night we’ve opened up the windows since sometime in April or May. Zoey is so excited to see the windows open that she’s been running from room to room.


Yesterday, we got up in the morning, went to breakfast and then headed over to Borders’ going out of business sale. It’s sad to see places like Borders close. I’ve been frequenting the sale over the past few weeks buying up photography, decor and comic books.

In the realm of home decor, I found a couple of great buys for my mom on organizing and a few on home decor and Real Simple’s book on simple solutions:


After our trip to Borders, my husband and I hopped back in the car and headed to Ikea for the afternoon.

Earlier this week I signed up for Ikea Family and wanted to go pick up my new card and check out a few items that are on our project list. Our visit to Ikea was a successful one and we came home with a few new items for our home and even got to enjoy a few frozen yogurt for signing up for Ikea Family!

Our trips to Ikea not only end up with new stuff for our home, but we always leave with a better idea of what we might pick up on our next visit. This time we shopped for couches. Previously, we were set on the idea that we would be buying a different couch then the one we picked out this time. When we walked into the showroom on Saturday, this particular couch caught our eye:

We are looking for something that sits low to the floor (because our entertainment center, which is also from Ikea, has our TV sitting pretty low to the floor) and is large enough that when we have a guests over, everyone can find a place to sit to watch a football game, movie or play video games. Right now with one couch, most of our guest have to curl up on the floor with a pillow.
We really like the charcoal color they had in the showroom and since we have a palette of neutral colors in our home, my plan is to brighten up the couch with brightly colored throw pillows and blankets. I especially love this couch because it is so large and both BJ and I can curl up and watch a movie and be completely comfortable! Now we just need to do some measurements to see if it will fit in our living room. If not, there are plenty of configurations for this couch, so we can go with a smaller option.
And of course, a trip to Ikea isn’t complete without the adventure of figuring out how all of your purchases will fit in the trunk! This time, I thought for sure we would get everything in without a problem. Especially since we didn’t buy as much as we normally do. But, in perfect Ikea trip fashion, there we were standing at the car sweating it out because the shelves I picked out for my office didn’t fit even with the seats folded down. But no worries. We got it all in! And this is how we drove home:
Now that everything we bought is safely at home, here are the finished results of another successful trip to Ikea.
Hallway to garage and utility room before:
Hallway to garage and utility room after:
We also purchased a bench for shoes that we put in the kitchen which allows us to come in the garage door and have a place to sit down and take off our shoes. And it also serves as storage for our shoes. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tripped over my own shoes in that back hallway. I’m glad we now have a place to put them that is out of the path to the laundry room.
And lastly, coming soon will be a post on the finished project of adding shelves to the wall in my office! Look for that post in the future!

Hand-me-down furniture? “Make it work!”

After moving into our new home over a year ago, I was faced with the dilemma of what to do with our “hand-me-down” furniture. It’s been a year and a few months and we’ve bought a few year pieces here and there, but I’m learning how to make what we have work. As Tim Gunn would say “Make it work.”

One of items that is on our list of furniture to buy for the house is a new couch, but in the meantime, I’m making our current couch work :). My husband inherited a very interesting set of corduroy chairs and a couch from his parents and because it’s been around since 1980, it’s starting to show some wear. Not only was the furniture from his childhood, it also survived college with him (and his very interesting, and messy roommates). My husband has taken good care of the furniture (despite his roommates) but corduroy does not hold up forever. When we first moved in together, I did everything I could to try to hide the couch. I covered it with big blankets. I put pillows on it. I just couldn’t hide the corduroy. When we moved from our apartment into our house, I did not want that couch in our living room and was convinced we should go out and buy a new one immediately. However, because we did not have the budget for a new couch, I decided I would have to come up with another plan. I used to be anti-slipcover until I browsed around Target one day and found one on sale. I’m pretty satisfied with my temporary fix for the couch and think that it works pretty well for the time being. It doesn’t fit perfectly, but one of the nice features is that I can take the slip cover off and wash it! I think the couch looks much better now!

Here is what a slip cover and a few accent pillows can do for a couch!

Here is a peek at the corduroy. It doesn’t really go with the decor for the rest of the house. 

On another note, I was browsing around the Borders Going Out of Business sale and found this great calendar for planning out home projects. It’s from HGTV Home! My husband looked a little terrified when I showed it to him (probably worried about a “Honey Do List”) but I’m excited!

I can’t wait to get started on our next project and use our calendar to help plan and keep things organized!

Coming soon! Shelves for the home office…

In my office, there is a large purple wall that is currently undecorated.

We painted the wall last fall and since then I’ve been trying to decide exactly how i want the wall to look. Currently, my desk is positioned so that the wall is directly behind it. I’ve had several ideas for how I want to decorate the wall. I’ve thought about a photo collage with large photos (11x17s or bigger) or a giant wall quote with photos around the quote. However, my latest and favorite idea yet is to install floating shelves on the wall so that I can not only gain more storage, but to use the shelves to set my large photos on.

I’ve been browsing around the Internet looking for some ideas for shelves and found a few that i like…

bedroom wall shelves design ideas

Even though I found a few ideas that I like, I think I want the shelves to go all the way across the wall with just a little bit of space on each side. Maybe one foot or so. I also want the shelves to be far enough apart that I can set large frame photos on them without touching the shelf above. I’m thinking a trip to Home Depot or Lowes is in our future. I’ll keep you posted on my progress! Hopefully I will have a beautifully decorated wall to show you soon!

Below is a simple rendering of how I think the finished product might look!

Pinterest and reorganizing my office

I’ve been hearing more about more about the Web site Pinterest, so I decided to try it out and link it to my blog! Here is my Pinterest site where you can find my inspirations and favorites.

http://pinterest.com/frmbyfrmstyle/

It’s still a work in progress, so keep checking back and I will continue to add more content. I’m also going to come up with better names for my boards, but as for right now, I’m having writer’s block when it comes to great names. It will come to me, somewhere random, I’m sure. I always find myself jotting things down on post-its or running to find my iPhone to jot down an idea. This is probably another good reason for me to join Pinterest. I found this article on Real Simple’s Web site that talks about using Pinterest for decorating ideas.

http://simplystated.realsimple.com/2011/07/11/pinterest-may-help-your-decorating-add/

Aside from joining Pinterest today, I also reorganized my office. I usually find myself doing this when papers and office supplies start stacking up and all of the clutter starts getting to my OCD. Because I spent about an hour yesterday shredding the junk mail that stacked up by the paper shredder, I focused my energy today on sorting through the random boxes sitting on my bookshelves. I have a habit of storing things in boxes and forgetting where I put them. About a year later, I go through the box and it’s like finding buried treasure. Although sometimes, the buried treasure would’ve been more useful a few months prior. When I was actually looking for it.

So after rummaging through boxes and throwing away trash and other useless items, I organized what was left and placed the items in their new LABELED homes! I also reorganized my books and added a few more that were laying around the house from my last visit to Borders.


The brightly colored boxes came from my sister-in-law. She used them for my bridal shower to organize and display different games and such and then after the shower, she gave them to me. The black and white box came from my best friend. She used it to wrap my Christmas present last year! How clever! Most of the boxes and baskets in my office were once given to me as part of a gift or to wrap my gift. I love giving (and receiving) presents in boxes and baskets that they can reuse again.

I rearranged some of the boxes and supplies on my other bookshelf for a less cluttered look. The bright green basket also came from my sister-in-law. She gave my bridal shower gifts to me in a green basket and a pink basket! They came in handy while I was planning my wedding and I used them to transport some of the wedding decorations. The gray and white box is from the Container Store and I used it to carry wedding papers and labels for our favors. Now the boxes have a home in my office storing supplies and other items.

For me, it’s always easier to work in a decluttered, organized office. It’s calming. Not to mention now that I’ve labeled the boxes with my handy-dandy label maker, I can easily find what I put away.

If you’re in the market for a label maker, I really like my Dymo Letratag.