Archive for the 'home improvement' Category

Our new mudroom…

Our dining room has a closet which we have always called our “coat closet,”  but it has always really just been a mish-mash of all sorts of crud that we don’t know where to put anywhere else.  There were art supplies, a file cabinet, all of this stuff that used to be in our desk, when we had a desk, all sorts of bags and back packs, etc.  To say the least, it was stuffed to the gills and almost completely unusable.  Add to that the fact that we have no where to put coats easily and the girls’ coats are comepletely inaccessible to them when they are in there and it was clear to us that we needed to overhaul this closet.  My mom found the most brilliant idea in her copy of Better Homes and Gardens (which I unfortunately can’t seem to find to link here) to make a coat closet into a mud room.  Below is our version.

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We have about 10 hooks all along the wall which is plenty for all of us to hang everything we need on a daily basis. Below the bench we have three bins with boots, grocery shopping bags, and backpacks in them. The bench is plywood that has been painted and then I covered a foam pad with outdoor canvas fabric for the seat. You can’t see it, but on the right side we put a cute little green bug light from Ikea up to illuminate the whole place. There are wicker baskets on the shelf above the hooks (which you can’t see in this picture, labelled with our first initials, and that is where we store our hats, mittens, scarves, etc. Then, you also can’t see this, but there is another shelf above that that has bins of all of our office supplies and our files on it.

We love our new “mudroom!” Clara loves to play in it and call it her cottage. The bench frequently is covered with books that she is “reading” to her babies. So cute!

Basement Makeover

It rains here in the winter… a lot.  Toddler + rain = boredom and screaming fits.  So, today we spent much of the day recreating our basement into a playroom complete with slide and push car.  Clara has enjoyed it immensely, and it hasn’t even rained yet.  We’ll see how long it takes before the newness wears off.  Hopefully it will be months….

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Topping our tree

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The biggest excitement of our week?  The men that are up in the tree in our back yard.  It’s pretty thrilling.  They are topping our huge pine tree.  Or re-topping it.  It was topped about 20 years ago and now has grown about 50 feet from there, and there is rot going down the trunk where it was originally topped.  So, since there are definite branches that are going toward our house and our neighbor’s house, we are getting it re-topped.  Its actually been pretty amazing and a huge amount of work for the five men who are spending their day in our backyard and in the tree.  Really impressive work… this is like a day long episode of “Dirty Jobs” live.  Not only is there a guy 100 feet in the air, above our house, but he has a chain saw hanging from his belt, spikes on his shoes so he doesn’t need to worry about where the branches are, and he can chain smoke while he takes limbs and whole three foot wide branches down and lowers them with a pulley system that he built in the tree.  On the ground, the other guys help lower the branches, chip them into their huge truck (which is already almost full), and chop up rounds of firewood.  Check on Craigslist soon if you’re interested in cheap wood by the cord.  Hopefully the tree won’t look horrible from the front yard where you will be able to see that it was topped.  I’m sure it will look fine from the backyard when you’re sitting under it.  And with any luck, we might end up with a little bit more sunlight.
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Living room overhaul

The past few weeks, we’ve been working on our living room. Lesley convinced us to move the piano into our dining room, which opened up a huge amount of space in our living room and allowed us to move our TV to an area that is not the focal point. But now we have a huge blank wall of space. The problem with our living room, if you’ve never been there are two fold: 1) it not that big (at least as far as living rooms go), although I know that there are many people reading this with far smaller spaces than we have and 2) there are four doors in the room and a wall covered with built ins and a fireplace.  That leaves very little space for placing couches, chairs, etc.  We have decided that a couch and a love seat are the best solution and that our recliner (which I love, but just doesn’t fit anywhere) has to go.   

Now the question is: what kind of love seat should we get?  We talked to two interior design experts and both agreed that we should not try to match our chocolate brown couch.  Instead we should go with a color (because our living room is very brown and white) and maybe a pattern (but we don’t really like any of our pattern options).  

We went looking yesterday at the craziest store on the planet (well, at least in Portland and there are lots of crazy stores in Portland), City Liquidators . If you live in the area and have never been there, block out and afternoon and visit the three stories of crazy good deals, clutter, and detritus.  Just don’t be there in a fire.  We found quite a few options in love seats, but I think that this is our top choice as of now.  This is a picture of the same couch, but imagine it in a love seat.  Of course we’ll have to get a new area rug, but ours is falling apart anyway.  What do you think?  Do you like it?