Friday, March 30, 2012

One Of A Kind Show

Thanks to two amazing bloggers, April from Money Pit Love and Christine from Bijou and Boheme (Go read their stuff! You'll love it.) myself and two friends are headed to the One Of A Kind show tomorrow afternoon. (I know... it seems greedy winning two giveaways at once, but my friends are grateful!) I have one other experience with the OOAK show, a fond memory of wandering the booths with my sister as a wide-eyed high school kid from the country in the big city. My sister is a master with a bit of wire, some needle nose pliers, an tiny anvil and a little hammer, so she was looking for inspiration at every single jewelry booth we could find.

This time will be different, but no less exciting. I can't wait for Saturday, meeting up with my girlfriends and spending the afternoon wandering from booth to booth. Who knows... I might even buy something if it strikes my fancy.

Is anyone else going to be there? Send me a tweet @thisdustyhouse and perhaps we can cross paths, and say hi!

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Three Things For Thursday


Someone gave us a $40 gift card to Chapters as a wedding gift. They know me well. The Husband? Maybe less well. Just a month or so ago, a coworker added to the Chapters moolah stash after I helped her out with a decent sized project. It's about time I actually spent this money, especially since I can now do it from the comfort of my living room and have the instant gratification of loading everything onto my Kobo and reading right away.

So, last night, gift cards in hand, I purchased and downloaded The Hunger Games Trilogy.

This book (and movie) is creating buzz, especially among my youth group kids. I'm feeling slightly out of the loop, so I broke down, decided not to wait 8 months to get a copy from the library and slapped down a gift card. I started it last night and... I'm sorry, but was anyone else not blown away by the prose in this book? I mean, it's not terrible, but it's not as great as the hype has lead me to believe it to be. The jumps in time seem awkward and contrived and the back story of Panem seems spewed out without any kind of artistry. 

The story is engaging and I wouldn't say I'm not enjoying the book. But perhaps my expectations for young adult literature are just a little too high.

After buying all three books, I have $32 left to spend. My twitter friends have been suggesting all sorts of titles. Do you have any to add?


Last night, in a fit of bored while I was buying books, the Husband pulled our range hood out of the closet and set it in the middle of the kitchen. As I got ready for bed, I asked him how long it would be there. 

Only until the weekend, he responded.


I interpreted that to mean that, by the end of day Sunday, our tile will be grouted and I'm going to have a range hood over my stove, gracing our tile backsplash with some more stainless steel goodness. I'll admit, I'm actually a little worried about how the hood is going to change the feel of the kitchen. 
We went with Ikea for this, their Luftig exhaust hood. It's pretty enough, but I feel like I've been so spoiled with a clear, empty wall, I'm nervous about giving it up. In the end, it will still be beautiful, right?


Because it seems to be kitchen week here at This Dusty House, I want to share this one with you. For no other reason than I think it's gorgeous. Also, I'm pretty sure the granite is the exact same one we have. Also gorgeous.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Process: Kitchen Tile Part III

Have you ever noticed that, when a homeowner is taking part in a renovation with the HGTV crew, they always get put on the task of tiling? You know why?

Because it's super easy. A little messy, perhaps, but easy none-the-less. Also, depending on how much you're tile, it doesn't even take that long. Our small project took a grand total of three hours.

When we renovated our bathroom, I came home from work one day to a completely tiled shower and floor. This time, I wanted to actually help out. Mark started the process and, when I volunteered to lend a hand, he took me outside with a tile and started up the tile saw. I watched him start to guide the piece through the grinder, then turned around and walked back inside.

I know. I know. Not very grown up of me. Not very empowered of me. But I'll be honest: that thing freaked me out. It was loud. Wet. Dangerous looking. I wimped out and gave into my fear of power tools. I can wield a drill among the best, I can cut a piece of wood on a 45 degree angle with a miter saw like no body's business, I can even cut into a piece of drywall with a saws-all without a hint of nervousness, but that tile saw terrified me.

So, I grabbed the tile paddle instead. Is that what they're called? It's a special tool with two grooved edges two smooth. After an hour or so of slapping glue onto the wall and carefully placing some tile, I totally feel like an expert. So, naturally, I must share my expertise.

This is how tiling works.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Tile on the Wall: Part II!

As promised, after yesterday's teasing sneak peak...

It's a backsplash!

I have no idea how we managed to find such a perfect tile for our kitchen. If you'll remember from my post yesterday, we picked it on a whim on a trip to Rona for paint. We weren't expecting to even look at tile. We saw it; we bought it; it turned out perfectly. I love the subtle blue, the way it draws out the grey of our counter tops but lets the red of our kettle and utensils and the green of my olive oil bottles pop. It's colourful, but neutral at the same time in such a way that allows other colours to sing.

It's not finished yet: it needs to be grouted. But it changes the whole feel of the room. It makes it feel complete, purposeful even. It seems to tie together all the choices we've made and makes them make sense. The wall of pantry cupboards suddenly fits far better than they did when the wall above the stove was empty. It draws the eye right into the heart of the kitchen and focuses the space. Perhaps I give this wall of tile a little too much importance in my kitchen, but I love the effect; I just can't help it.

Oh, it's so pretty.

As with everything in our house, we did the tiling ourselves. Tomorrow, I'll share exactly how that went.

This post was linked up to RA 116 at the Remodelaholic.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Part I: Kitchen Backsplash!

Happy Monday!

As planned, the Husband and I took one big step back from our mudroom project. It's not finished yet... we still need to source doors for the pantry cupboard, sand and paint the closet, add trim, tile the entry floors, carpet the stairs, and build our bench, shelf and coat racks. Lots to do. But right, now, it's functioning far more than it did before, so we've turned elsewhere, to another part of the house.

This requires some back story.

A few weeks ago, while at Rona - buying supplies for the mudroom - we stumbled across some tile on sale. Of course, that's not exactly unusual. Generally, home improvement stores always have one or two different styles of tile on sale. But this time... this time it was actually something we liked. We trundled home with a case and a half after convincing the flooring guy to let us buy a few feet by the sheet instead of by the box.

In the car, as we headed home, I looked at the Husband and said, "I'm nervous about this."


"Usually, when we buy something for the house, we hem and haw over it for at least half an hour. We check out all our options. We research. We just bought tile, tile that will go onto our kitchen wall permanently in a matter of 10 minutes. I'm sure, sure we just made a mistake."

Even worse?

Because we'd convinced the sales person to let us take some of the tile out of the box, 1/3 of the tiles were non-returnable. We'd made a mistake that we couldn't fix.

We got home. I picked up one of the tiles and held it up against the wall. The sigh of relief reverberated around our tiny little house. They were perfect. Absolutely, positively perfect.

Would you agree?

This is a three part series. Come back tomorrow for the reveal* - since I know that's what you're all really interested in anyway - and Wednesday for the process. I promise... this tile did not disappoint!

* -ish. We're not that quick... it still needs to be grouted!

Friday, March 23, 2012

The Mudroom: More Progress!

I am kind of in love with what this room will be. If we ever get it to the point of completion that I'm envisioning in my head, that is. But the progress is encouraging. The progress is beautiful. If not quite perfect.

There is paint on the walls!


I kind of wanted there to be paint on the walls after the first weekend of work on this. I have begun to notice a pattern: we start a project and I impose my unrealistic expectations upon it. Rip down some walls, move a bathroom, install a new kitchen and new floors, and paint every wall? Sure! A month, tops! Fix up a mudroom from a state of grunge and disrepair to beauty? A weekend! Duh.

We're heading into the fourth weekend of mudroom progress without completion. As my expectations adjust, I know it's going to take a few more weekends of work back there. And for now, we're taking a break. But, I'm pleased with the progress we've made thus far.

What have we done? 
  • We continued the bamboo flooring out onto the upper landing. Right now, the rest of the landings and stairs (there are four landings, total. I know. Crazy.) are still unfinished but will be finished with other, more durable finishes. 
  • We put in new light fixtures.
  • We removed the radiator that used to live behind the door. It was too big, warmed up the small space way too much and was kind of in the way. We salvaged a radiator we'd taking out of our living room, pulled the sections apart and put only two, hidden away underneath the stairs.
  • We pulled out the old pantry cupboard and added in a new, larger, more efficient one in a different spot. 

  • We painted everything purple. There is a story behind this actually... I originally planned for grey accented with a bright, cheerful yellow. Makes sense, right? I had even picked out a pretty grey from my CIL paint chip book. And then, we went to pick up the paint and I left the paint chip book behind. I picked up something that looked gray, found a yellow, put the paint chips side by side, thought they looked great, and bought a can of each.

    It was purple. Most definitely purple.

    So, now I have a purple and yellow mudroom, which isn't necessarily bad. But, at the moment, it feels like the purple and the yellow are competing with each other which, obviously, was never my intention. 

I'm confident that a little white trim to separate them and make them stop fighting will help. If it doesn't, I will paint the door. Again.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Three Things This Thursday

You guys are amazing. That is all I have to say.


Maple glazed grilled chicken. Holy crap. This stuff is good.


We bought a barbecue! We've been putting it to pretty good use over the past few days. Hamburgers. Chicken. Asparagus. Steak. Mmm... barbecue.

Right now, our back yard is a bit of a mess with things we've pulled out of our mudroom, but sometime early this season we plan to get it into tip top shape. Which means even more barbecuing and maybe a little (or a lot!) entertaining. Which means we need something bigger than the teeny little patio table we've been using. Already our steaks were nearly falling off the table last night, vying for space with the salad bowl, the bottle of wine, two wine glasses and the barbecue sauce. 

I want something like this:

Except maybe sized for 8 instead of 16.

Of course I would keep it set all the time. 

It will always be immaculate.

Even in the rain.


I want to spend all my time outside. 

Yup. My garden is totally going to look like this.



Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Blogiversay One

It's been a rough week and it's only Wednesday. I'm sure you've noticed the silence around here. This doesn't mean there hasn't been a lot to talk about. In fact, there's enough going on around the house that I could probably have filled up this week and next week with posts that are actually interesting. (Finally. It's been a while.)

Instead, I started training for taking on a few new responsibilities at work and filled up my evenings anyway, despite being a little drained. Blogging took the back burner, as occasionally, it must.

And then, I realized that today is my blogiversary. One whole year of blogging. Can you believe it? I'm not sure I can. It's been an interesting ride, full of ups, plenty of downs, a learning experience that sometimes, I can easily imagine living without.

I know I'm always curious about the behind-the-scenes of other blogs. More often than not, though, I find that this can be dangerous and discouraging. How does that 6 month old blog have 15 000 followers already? What's so different about that other blog that got shot into the fame-osphere? What's wrong with me? How do I get to be like them? As I hit my one year of blogging, I'm feeling a lot more discouraged by the progress of others than pleased with the progress I've made myself.

I'm an insecure blogger. I'm sure I'm not the only one.

As I hit my 1 year blogiversary, and as a rough week does its best to only heighten my insecurities, I want to talk about why I blog. Because really, as I stare at my numbers and bang my head against a plateau that's lasted since the third month of this blog's existence, I have to remind myself why I'm doing it.

I blog because I write. I write for a living and so I need to write for pleasure to balance it all out.

(Obviously - unfortunately - the writing for a living and writing for pleasure are two completely different kinds of writing.)

I blog because I share. I describe myself as a chronic over-sharer. I love telling people more than they need to know. There aren't many aspects of my life that I am unwilling to talk about in the right context.

I blog because I want people to read what I have to say. I'm not one of those bloggers that started writing a blog in order to share their renovation progress with their family. Obviously, this blog does that as well. But I started this blog so I could reach out beyond my family and friends and create a connection with some anonymous reader out there. I blog to connect with the world.

One year out, this last reason for blogging has been the most rewarding. I've met new friends, made connections, found a community. I wouldn't give that up for anything.

One year. 212 posts. I'm still blogging.

Fellow blogging friends, one simple question: why do you blog?

(Apologies for the no-picture post. I'll be back tomorrow with some mudroom updates!)

Friday, March 16, 2012

And now, for something completely different: orange and blue

I'm crocheting a baby blanket for my sister and my new little niece or nephew.

(She's due in a couple months.)

(I'm just a little excited.)

(And, by a little, I really mean a lot.)

I don't feel like I'm particularly good at picking out colours for things like baby blankets. Standing in the yarn aisle at Michael's can be confusing at best, overwhelming at worst. Prices and colours jumble together and next thing you know, I walk out with an armful of colours I'm dubious about and a worry that I've become colour blind in the process.

But, for some reason, it always seems to work out.

Of course, I should have had no doubts about these colours.

I think orange and turquoise is my favourite colour combination. How could I go wrong? 

(I suppose she could hate it.)

(But I doubt that will happen.)

(Because it's already 1/3 of the way done and gorgeous.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Change In Plans: Mudroom Ideas


Originally, the focus of the back mudroom was all pantry. I was dreaming of shelf after shelf of canned good, and canistered baking supplies and pasta. I was thinking along these lines:

Yes, I made this in Paint. My artwork. It is beautiful.

What you see here is a full wall, essentially of cupboards. There are eight 24' cupboards represented here. Whoa, space! One half of the pantry would go to our downstairs friends. The other half? All mine. Perfection, right?

The plan was all set.

And then, on Sunday, my BFF gave me Martha Stewart's book on organizing. (She is very aware that I am not an organized person. She is trying to save me from the havoc that is our home. Unfortunately, I think I'm a lost cause.) Of course, the book starts off with entryways, beautiful entryways, entryways whose purpose is specifically for entering into a home, for shucking off the outer layer and stepping through into comfort.

A pantry is not a great space for shucking off the outer layer.

A few hours before he was set to head to Ikea to pick up either 24 inch cabinets, the Husband messaged me.

Him: What else is going to go in those cupboards? Towels and things?

Me: Sure. And canisters. All the food. All my baking supplies.

Him: Oh.

Him: That's a lot of space, isn't it? Will there be any food left in the kitchen?

Me: Does there have to be?

And, then, I realized how ridiculous the whole idea was. It's one thing to take all your extra supplies and stick them in a back room. It's quite another to take all your supplies and stick them in a back room.

Him: I want a bench.

So, new plan, a new amazing, smart plan that makes so much more sense than what we had decided on before. And that will be prettier on top of all that, just as a bonus.

Four of the pantry cupboards stay and provide plenty of useful space for both myself and our downstairs friends. Since they'll be using it as well, we will be required to keep out landing clear. This may be a challenge. A shelf and hooks replace the other set of pantry cupboards and a bench provides a space to sit and put on shoes. Presumably, this bench will be full of cubbies that will provide safe storage for shoes, out of the danger of meeting some puppy teeth.

I envision something exactly like this:

But maybe with a bench that looks more like this:

There is some more progress happening and I am incredibly excited about it. There's also been some backward progress that I am much less excited about. But that's a story for a different day.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Little Greenery, Here and There: Kitchen Herb Garden Update

My herbs are growing!

Well, what did I expect? I mean, you plant seeds, they're supposed to grow, right?

For a while, it was looking a little rough. I was a little negligent with my watering and they started to complain about not getting enough sun. But lately, they're doing a little better. Good enough, in fact, that I decided it was time to transplant one to a proper pretty pot and see how it did.

I found this pot at the local thrift store. It's brass, similar to my pretty watering can. I kind of love it. One problem, especially when it comes to herbs: it has no drainage. In fact, this kind of pot is probably more likely meant for creating flower arrangements in using one of those green foamy things. Y'know what I'm talking about.

To solve the drainage problem, I stepped out into our backyard and picked up as many stones and pebbles I could find. I filled the pot with about 3 inches of stones. It allows the water to drain through the soil and gather into the bottom of the pot rather than remaining in the soil and drowning your plant. This is the same technique used when planting cacti. I'm just hoping it works for herbs too.

Then, I filled the pot with dirt.

I made a little well in the dirt. For a moment, I felt like I was making muffins.

Gently, I popped a basil plant (Well, actually, three. I haven't decided yet if I should thin them to just one. Thoughts?) out of its little peat pot and lifted it into the well. I patted the dirt around it, sprinkled a little more fresh potting soil over it and gave it a good watering.

It seems to be doing well in its little pot. But I'm nervous that my east facing kitchen window doesn't get quite enough light for my herbs. Will they grow and flourish? Will I actually be able to use fresh herbs I grew myself someday sooner than later?

And, most importantly...

Will the cat stop lying down on them in their tray of peat pots so they actually have a chance to thrive and flourish?


No. I'm not joking.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Progress: The Mudroom

Two weekends we've spent on this space now. For the most part, I was on my own on Saturday, sanding and mudding, while the Husband worked hard at a quickly approaching deadline at work. I'm sure I haven't made nearly as much progress as we would have together, but I'm feeling good about it, better than the frustration I was feeling last week. There are little signs of progress that encourage and keep me going.

Like the new light:

And, most luxuriously, the start of new floors:

If slowly, we're getting there. I still have hours of sanding and mudding and painting ahead of me. This week, we'll be attempting a little more high gear: our downstairs friends are gone visiting for March Break and while they're exceedingly patient and accepting of our renovating ways, we don't want it to inconvenience them too much. It's my hope that, when they come back on Sunday, the changes will be noticable and welcomed.

Just looking at the work left to do makes me kind of tired.


Monday, March 12, 2012

A Sunroom In Need of Love

Last week, on Facebook, my cousin shared a couple photos of her sunroom with a request for suggestions. She's quite design savvy herself, but with this room, she's at a loss. 

It's your typical, unusable Florida room, uninsulated and, therefore, freezing in the winter and boiling hot in the summer. She tried to paint, but got half way done and decided she didn't really like it. I prodded for a few more details and learned that this is her main entrance and essentially, nothing more. She never uses the little cafe space or the tete-a-tete wicker chairs. 

I think it's too bad. This could be such a beautiful relaxing space. My parents have a similar room that they insulated and installed skylights and a wood stove in order to manage the temperature. They use it all the time, making the other two sitting rooms in their home nearly obsolete.

Of course, not everyone is able to drop the money to install a wood stove and other options, like little electric heaters, can be cheap, but hard on your electricity bill. So, for the moment, this room remains unusable.

It is, however, a main entrance. I believe entrances should be beautiful. This is the whole reason we're pouring our current efforts into our back mudroom. An entrance should lead you into a house. It should fit the personality of the house and, by association, the people who call it home. 

At the very least, it should remind you why you love being home from the moment you step in the door. 

So, what can S do to improve this space? 

These are my thoughts:

A light grey or other neutral colour would keep the ceiling bright and allow the room to remain an open, airy space. But curtains... oh, she could have some fun with curtains. I envision a combination of bright white sheers with a bold, colourful sheer, either solid, or in a pattern. I would centre the wicker chairs and little table on the long window wall and eliminate the sitting area at the other end of room. She could bring out the curtain pattern or colour with a complimentary colour on the cushions for the wicker. A small area rug would warm it up a little and possibly even make the space usable on a warm spring morning.

Because it is an entrance, I would suggest focusing on that purpose of this room. She could build a beautiful storage unit beneath the window on the brick wall and up over the freezer - which needs to stay no matter what - to disguise it and soften its presence a little. This would also give plenty of storage for shoes, hats, mittens, and scarves. She could even add a set of hooks for coats.

On Facebook, she's getting other great suggestions as well, such as painting the brick to brighten it up and adding large area rugs to warm up the floor.

Now, knowing how design savvy my readers are, we turn to you: what would you do with this space? What colours would you paint the ceiling and how would you arrange the room?


Friday, March 9, 2012

Pekoe Sleeps

It's been a busy week.

I'm tired.

Thanks for being readers and friends.

You're my favourites.

(Pekoe's too.)

That's all.


There's way more going on in the Kitchen today than a sleeping kitty. Pop over there?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Three Things This Thursday

Hello Thursday!

I love Thursdays. Simply because the next day is Friday.

Friday is the best day of the work week, making Thursday a close second.


Ever since I picked up my cute brass watering can from the local thrift shop, I've steadily been falling in love with all things brass. Which, when you think about it too hard, is kinda funny. I bought the watering can on a hem and a haw, not really sure if I even liked it at all. And now that I have a little brass in my life, I kinda just want more.

I mean. Isn't this bed absolutely gorgeous?


Last night, Mocha decided she didn't want to sleep. Instead, she paced around the house, from our bedroom to the dining room, up onto her favourite Poang chair, back to the bedroom, up onto the bed, back down, out to the kitchen, in a circle around the dining room, on and on. 

Mostly, this would have been ok. Except that Mocha hasn't been to the groomer in way too long and her nails are in need of a trim. So, puppy pacing on bamboo floor means clack-clack-clack-clack all night, slowly driving the puppy mummy crazy.


While my parents were visiting on the weekend, we dropped into an open house down our street. We do this nearly ever weekend, keeping an eye on what's directly around us, how it looks and where our house falls into the spectrum. The house was nice and priced for a bidding war, but that's not what I wanted to remark on.

As we were putting on our shoes, my dad looked around and said, "This place feels like no one lives here." He and the realtor jumped into a conversation about home staging and my dad left fascinated. 

"You sound like a country bumpkin," my mom muttered to him as we headed back down the street to our unfinished little white house.

It got me thinking. Is dressing a house to the nines specifically for the purpose of selling it a big city thing? Does the same kind of thing go on in our small towns or are the expectations lower, the buyers less swayed by pretty dress? Since we drop in on open houses in this city quite regularly, I have gotten used to the staged nature of a home on the market, have come to expect it, really. 

I can't imagine actually living in such an empty, pretty, but untouchable home though. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Backyard Food: A Garden Update

Enough talk of renovation frustration.

I downloaded a cookbook from the library to my Kobo. I was curious how such a thing would translate from page to device. (Decently. Obviously, the food photography becomes lackluster, but if you can do without, it's decent.) On my commute in to work, I read through the introduction of Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh by Emeril Lagasse. Despite the rampant unrealistic idealism I agree with Lagasse's main thesis: food is always better - more sustainable, more responsible, tastier, fresher - when we are directly connected to it.

That's why I'm growing a garden!

Because our growing season in Ontario is not particularly long, and since I want my tomatoes to turn red before the first frost, I'm starting a number of plants from seeds indoors. I don't have grow lights or a lot of space. So, for now, it's one tray of veggies, sitting in a southern facing window.

I bought a tray of odd looking pellets that, when you add water, absorb and swell to become little netted packets of dirt. I pulled the netting back from the top, fluffed the first layer (I used a fork), and into each little packet, I pressed one to three seeds, covering them over with a thin layer of dirt.

Planting seeds is kind of long, annoying, repetitive work.

(In one sentence, I think I just described farming as a whole.)

Now, they sit in our window, little, warm packets of life. It is my hope that every one of them will grow into perfect, large veggies, flourish, and proclaim my awesome skills as a gardener. Look, look! Here is a green thumb!

(On Sunday, my dad peered at the tomatoes, which are sprouting and said, "Hmm. They're looking kinda spindly. I don't think they're getting enough light."

What happened to thinking that everything I do is perfect and magical?)

This is an old shot, mid-clean-up, mid-grass-growing-season, but it serves its purpose. Those veggies will fill this space this year. It will stretch from fence to fence and go right to the very back of our property. It will be huge. It will be hard.

It will be wonderful.

Today, in the kitchen, I'm sharing a tasty adaptation of a traditional steak Diane. Pop over and visit!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Second Side of Frustration

Thank you for all your encouragement yesterday, friends! I love the part about blogging in which we all rally around each other, commiserate, encourage and believe in each other. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

My big motivation in our back entryway project lies in developing a highly functional, beautiful, well organized pantry space. Seven or eight cabinets are magically going to join themselves together and appear on the wall to result in a spacious amount of shelves for can after can, box after box, bag of onions after bag of onions.

(I may or may not go through a lot of onions.)

If I were neater, I'd be content with open shelves so I can show off my mastering of organization.

I am not that organized.

Doors, therefore, are a requirement. And, since we're not so fond of the idea of constructing our own boxes, we're on the hunt for some cheap 24 by 30 by 12 cabinets. So far, Restore was a flop and Home Depot, Rona, and Lowes all failed us, one after the other. Where do we turn next? Ikea?

Even that, at $76 a cabinet (though, with doors!) seems like a pricy option.

In combination with the frustration with the amount of work this project has turned into, the amount of money it's turning into is making me balk. This is our back entryway, after all! The mudroom! Nothing more than a space to kick off our shoes on our way into the house.

Renovations are expensive in more ways than one. Time, effort, money. And is it worth it in the end? I hope so, I really do. There's no turning back now.

Monday, March 5, 2012


I had big plans for this weekend. I was going to turn our back mudroom into something beautiful. On Friday, I outlined my basic plan. By the time I got home, the Husband was already out back, cleaning up our piles of paint cans and taking our tools back to the garage. As we talked, the project became bigger, more complicated. As we talked, I could see the mudroom taking shape, becoming polished, finding its place in our home.

Too bad just talking about what needs to be done doesn't result in a finished project.

From there, frustration piled on frustration. The Restore didn't have any of the cabinets we needed for our pantry, our trip to the hardware stores took forever, and I came home to what felt like hours and hours of sanding.

And not much else.

Our mudroom looks about the same as it did when we started. There's a little more spackle and there's the beginning of a beautiful floor. But right now, it's standing in as a beautiful example of how frustrating renovating can be. It doesn't always go smoothly. A couple hours doesn't always lead to beautiful results.

I wish.

As I took my before pictures, I realized how ugly this space actually is. Does this happen to everyone? The more time I have lived with this space, the less and less terrible it seemed. But looking at it through the lens of my camera revealed the undeniable truth: this space isn't just rough around the edges. It's rough around the middle too.

I know what this space can be. But right now? It's just a lean-to on the back of the house, the room through which we walk every day with our eyes closed. Despite a full day of trying to better it, it's still the room through which we walk with our eyes closed, but now it's also dusty, full of a fine layer of drywall dust. Quadrant by quadrant, section by section, we will make progress. 

For now, it's hard to see.


Friday, March 2, 2012

The Mudroom: A To-Do List

Our back entrance - which we call a mudroom even though it's hardly a room at all - is a bit of a sight. It's a shared back entrance that simply goes up to our half of the house and down into our downstairs friends' half of the house. During our renovations, it's been mostly untouched except for the spot where we rammed the corner base cabinet into the wall and the back closet, which we played around with a bit in an attempt to make more useful.

All in all, it's not a particularly pretty space.

(Ooh, it's an old picture!)

It doesn't help that our landing ends up full of tools, cans of paint, recycling on its way out the back door, shoes, bags, etc. etc. It also doesn't help that this space is, in fact, one of the most useful spaces in our house and could be even more useful if executed properly. 

See, this space is also our pantry. 

It's not in the picture but, right beside the back door, there's an almost floor-to-ceiling cabinet. Inside, there are four shelves, two filled with my own staples, two filled with the VL's staples. For both of us, that little cabinet relieves so many space issues in our own kitchens. But I want it to do more. There's plenty of space going up the steps to continue the cabinets and at least double our pantry space.

So, here's the plan:
  1. Repaint. We have an awesome orange for the floors and, to keep it simple and crisp, I'm thinking a bright white on the walls. And, to add a bit of punch, perhaps a different colour for the door?
  2. Trim around the window, our back closet, wherever else a little trim would help. 
  3. Rip out the existing cabinet and put in new ones (perhaps sourced at our local Restore) that aren't made of plywood. Continue these cabinets up the stairs. Perhaps paint them. Fill with cans and pasta and other goodies.
  4. Store our paint cans under the stairs and out of the way. 
  5.  Add in two new light fixtures (A wall one for our closet, a ceiling one for the main light).
  6. Hang a pretty curtain on the window.
  7. Incorporate some welcoming artwork somewhere. 
And now, I turn to you. What would you do with this cramped little space, as little as you may be able to imagine it? 

We start tomorrow, completely ignoring the fact that my birthday is on Sunday.

25, I do not want to be you.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Three Things This Thursday


With all the seed planting and shelf hanging I've been doing, I've been thinking a lot about the type of pots I want to put my herb seeds in. I'd love to DIY this and I think it's completely do-able. I need something with good drainage and decent colour to brighten up our white kitchen.

These, for example:

Or, less colourful perhaps, but these:

Or, perhaps a delightful cross between the two of my own making?


We have a wooden bed frame that the Husband has had since he moved out of his parents' house. It's a bit beat up and has a few odd details, but I kind of love its shape. The colour on the other hand... it's stained a basic brown and, since it's got its fair share of nicks and scratches, provides little inspiration. Since the day we got married, I've had plans to paint it. Or strip and stain it darker. I oscillate. 

This is what I imagine:

It's one of those things I think about on a regular basis but know that it's going to be a long time - or never - coming. So much sanding. So much painting. So much time.

Maybe I'll start this weekend.


This is kind of sad. 

I still have no art on the walls.

Well, to say no art is a bit of a stretch. We bought a painting on clearance at Winners and hung it in our bathroom. It's nothing special, but it adds some colour. And, I hung some empty frames with their frame picture (yup, the one from the store) inside on the living room wall, just to get them out of the way. But art? Nope.

And then, I take a wander through Tanya's blog and get super inspired, followed by super envious, followed by super wistful. Who wants to paint me something like this?

No one? 

Fine. I'll do it myself. Maybe. Someday. When I'm feeling talented. Or bored. Or... yeah, never happening.