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{living in sin} A House-in-Progress

Posted Aug 27 2012 4:23pm

So much happens to a house (and to the people who live there) between “before” and “after.” Debates. Mistakes. A million trips to Home Depot. Messes. Small victories. Weeks. Months.

Eric and I have realized we’re going to be in this in-between place for a while, so we’re trying to make ourselves comfortable. This isn’t easy for me, a generally impatient person, but I’ve realized I don’t have the time, money, or energy to do it any other way but slowly.

Over the weekend, we made a list of all the projects we want to complete in the near future. We made the weekend before Halloween our target date, as we’re planning to have a party, so that seems like a good time to get our Room of Shame turned into, well, something less shameful. But since I’ve gotten a lot more comfortable with this extended, in-between phase of decorating, I thought I’d share some progress pictures of how our house looks so far.

Nothing makes me feel like an adult like having a dining room. When we first looked at the house, the dining room was kind of an intimidating factor because we had no dining room furniture and it’s a pretty sizable space (to give you an idea of how big the room is, that table is 96 inches long). Luckily, we’ve been able to furnish the entire thing with secondhand items from Craigslist. We were bummed to lose the built-in bar from our old apartment, so we found this one from Pottery Barn on the CL; the table is from Crate and Barrel by way of random stranger on the Internet (and CL). Finding the white chairs we wanted took a lot of patience, but finally a seller came through after three weeks of follow-up e-mails and canceled appointments. It was worth the wait; we got all six chairs for the cost of just two of the chairs we liked at IKEA. We are going to stain the legs to match the table this weekend, a project that kind of terrifies me.

I’m really happy with the progress of this room; the paint color was kind of a wild card, but we both love how it turned out. Still on our dining-room to-do list: a rug, a centerpiece, a new light fixture, and some lighting on/around the bar.

The kitchen has probably had the most dramatic makeover. When we bought the house a month ago, the accent wall was painted a dark red and the cabinets had an oak finish. We weren’t a fan of that look, so we had the cabinets painted this creamy white before we even moved in. The effect was dramatic and really opened up the kitchen. We weren’t sure what color to paint the wall and debated it for a couple weeks until I finally had the idea to go for a dark slate color. Eric was really skeptical, but I felt pretty confident in this one. (And I rarely feel that way when it comes to home design.) My hunch paid off, because we both loved the color.

We wanted some sort of prep table or piece of furniture to fill the space at that end of the kitchen (putting a table and chairs in there would have made it feel cluttered), and my mom offered to buy me the one we liked from IKEA for my birthday. Eric and I spent the evening of my birthday picking it up, assembling it, and then hanging the white shelves over it. I hadn’t planned to put the stand mixer on it, but as I lined up all the other white objects on the counter before I started placing them on the shelves, I happened to place them in front of the KitchenAid. When I stepped back and saw how they looked with the mixer, it made a ton of sense.

I was really happy that Eric liked the finished look because I was so excited about how it turned out! It makes me happy every time I look at it.

Still on our kitchen to-do list: window treatments, under-cabinet lighting, subway tile backsplash.

My current favorite thing about the living room is the floors; it was previously carpeted, and Eric and I wanted wood so badly. We had the new floors installed in the dining room, living room, and office; it had a major effect on the house and got us much closer to the look we wanted.

Though the floors are done, the living room remains a work in progress; we’re limited by the layout of the room and the furniture we already had (and loved). There are two windows plus a door to the backyard on the right-hand wall (off-camera) and the wall where you’d be inclined put a TV is kind of small and awkward. While we’re happy with the room right now, it’s still pretty boring. Our plan was to do a kind of “Americana lite” theme with it using items we already had from our apartment with a few new additions. The curtains helped a ton; we saw a layered look at IKEA that put white, tan, gray, blue striped curtains behind a dark brown curtain and decided to try the look with red curtains in front.

Still on the living room to-do list: art/pictures/SOMETHING to hang over the couch. Once we get some of that up on the walls, we’ll decide if we want to paint the room some sort of neutral color that adds a bit more to it than the eggshell that’s currently there.

The first-floor bathroom was already painted this deep blue, and we didn’t see a reason to change it. We got a new shower curtain and some accessories. We plan to get a new sink and vanity for it eventually, but that’s a while off. For the time being, we just need to deal with the wrinkles in the shower curtain and get a new mirror, as the current one creates a million smaller reflections in weird places and makes me feel like I’m hallucinating every time I go in there. This is not something I’d wish upon our future guests…or I guess it’s just that if they are hallucinating, I want it to be because we are throwing an awesome Halloween party.

I was thrilled that we found a house with a dedicated office. It’s pretty much my space to do whatever I want with, so I painted it this greenish-blue and set about finding a new desk and accessories for it. Eric bought me a French door for the office for my birthday (after I said I might ask my mom for it and he looked kind of crushed) and I’m really excited for him to get it installed; I think it will look great from both inside the office and from the living room, which is on the other side of the wall. The desk was another Craigslist find; i’s a metal army desk (olive on the bottom, pale green on top) that weighs a ton and I love it.

The main thing I need to do in here is unpack all my stuff, get things hung up on the walls, and deal with that nest of cords behind the desk. Every time I leave that room, I declare “Cord cluster, I will destroy you!” dramatically as I turn off the light. So far, the cords are winning, but I will best them soon enough!

One of the things I really wanted was some big-ass shelves for books and storage. After Eric and I put the shelves together and I had my dream bookshelf staring down at me (seriously, it’s so imposing!), I realized that the majority of my books are still in Michigan. Thanks to the Kindle and the cross-country move, the shelves are looking pretty lonely. I’m going to need to start the process of having them all shipped down here soon, but the sheer weight of all of my books has me avoiding thinking about because, well, holy shit the postage.

Due to an unfortunate mix-up with our new bedroom set, we won’t have our bed until the end of September. Because of that, we’re not putting much effort into this room for the time being. We had already taken the old bed apart before this happened and we aren’t bothering to reassemble it. In a few weeks, we’ll pick out lamps, get a new duvet cover, hang up curtains, paint the walls, and then get our new bed. Until then, this is what we’ve got.

This is what I mean about being comfortable in the space between “before” and “after.” Sometimes that space is on the floor.

I didn’t give the master bathroom much thought until after we’d moved in. It really is more my bathroom; Eric will keep all his stuff in a separate one down the hall, and decorate that one to his liking. One night, I realized I didn’t like the color it was painted; I was feeling rather motivated, so I grabbed the leftover paint from the dining room and painted over the color I didn’t like. Then I picked out some new towels and organizers for my stuff and called it good.

There’s a lot more to the house than this; there is a garage, a laundry room, a backyard, and three more bedrooms. Right now though, there’s not much to see there. Like, the workout room has a lot of random cords, a large pile of socks (that aren’t all workout socks), and an Ab Circle… you can see why I chose not to bother with photos.

I’m happy with our progress and the fact that it’s starting to feel less like someone else’s house and more like our home with each little step we take. It’s been a huge bonding experience, and it’s hard not to fall in love with it, even its Room of Shame, just because I’m falling in love while making it. I’d say the only one who isn’t falling in love just yet is Indiana, but we’ll save the discussion of the art projects he’s been creating out of his own excrement since we moved for another time.

 


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