reno update: bathroom progress

Sep 26, 2016

The weekend has passed and we still do not have a working bathroom.
We have to move into the apartment by Friday and we are not done but I am not freaking out (yet) because we busted our butts working this weekend. My feet hurt, my back is sore, and my shoulders can barely lift over my head. Who needs the gym when you have home renovations?

We worked from Friday to Sunday. All. Day. Long.
Friday was a 1am night, Saturday 4am, and Sunday 2am, plus we still had to get up for work this morning so when we say we're struggling, we're struggling. We are riding around on the struggle bus. It is so refreshing? Not sure if refreshing is the word for this but it is so comforting to have him by my side through all of this renovations. Liam is my stress ball and tells me it's going to be okay when sometimes I know he's not sure either. He is a work horse and knows so much more than I would have ever known.

I wish I could capture the photos in a better quality, at the moment we have been using my iPhone to take all of the pictures because it is the easiest and least expensive. My DSLR is too sensitive to dust so we don't want to expose it to the demo environment.

Thanks to everyone who has been following along, cheering us on, helping us with painting/plumbing/building, bringing us energy through ice  cream, and all the good vibes you're sending. Now here's the good stuff:

We had no floor, no wall, no anything.
We now have insulated floors, sub floors, a new wall, and insulation in the walls! Guess what? I installed that insulation!! Yup, little ol' me! Liam told me how to put it into the wall with staples, not that difficult and I went at it! You can't imagine how excited I am to say that I did that for us! Liam built the wall, pretty proud of him for that but look at my insulation!

Next up: dry wall and another laundry list of stuff we won't talk about right now.

reno update: what's going on?

Sep 23, 2016

We are one week away from move in day and I am sure you are all wondering, so how is it going? You are thinking we are moving my things into storage (two spiders were spotted and destroyed) and getting ready to put the finishing touches on the bathroom. The paint is done and everything is going smoothly, the floors have been picked and everything is wonderful.

You guys think so highly of us. Thank you.

If this is the image you had in your head, please do not be surprised when I explain that the house still looks like this:

And we are nowhere near being done with the bathroom, the essential part of moving into the house. There are bumps in the road, you know: life, work, school, life, travel. It has not been easy. I know everyone thought we were doing great and we were at the beginning but so many unforeseen things happen and we don't have a Chip or a Joanna to say "hey, can you shove out $3,000 more to fix this and don't worry, we have all the resources we need to get it done." This renovation has crushed my HGTV dreams and made them more realistic.

This also happened:

No worries, everyone is okay, he has a busted lip but it's fine. If my tiny little mom can fall through a ceiling and be okay, I am sure a guy like Liam can also be alright. The board he was holding actually caught him from falling through the ceiling, just put a huge hole in his dad's new apartment.

This past weekend we drove Sheila down to New Jersey for a football game and to pick up our IKEA kitchen cabinets! We made it all the way there and back with no problems until it started to rain 30 minutes from home. No problems though, everything made it back fairly dry.

Today is crunch day with Liam, myself, his mom, and stepdad helping finish the subfloor, possibly put up the walls and drywall, dump some stuff, and pack some stuff. It's going to be a LONG weekend but hopefully very productive!

choosing a paint color

Sep 19, 2016

Part of this whole DIY experience has been new to me.
Liam is a much more experienced DIYer since he has the two homes he has been working on for the past few years. My experience is followed by watching HGTV and my mom do things around our house in New Jersey. She would ask and say, you should learn this and I would casually wave her off like yeah yeah, I will. Spoiler alert: I never did. She drove with me four hours away when I moved here to help me put my IKEA furniture together (which I can do alone but would never want to) and to put up my curtain rods (this is something I could can not do). That is a whole different subject though, I'll learn it now that I've openly said it I am sure Liam will make me do it.

Anywayssss, we are here to talk about how we I decided on the new paint colors for the bedroom and spare bedroom/living room. Many people think we are trying to renovate the entire house, for the record we are not. We are only renovating the 1) bathroom, 2) kitchen, 3) stairwell, and eventually 4) the real living room area. The bedrooms have been completed, except for one detail I could not live with and that would be: the paint colors. He painted them last winter, I remember this because we had first started talking and he said he was painting his house. He had sent me photos of the said rooms and what the colors looked like, I even remember him coming out to a trivia night in the middle of painting because he wanted to hang out with me. It did not occur to me until I saw the colors in person that they were very, how do I put it? Nursery-like-colors. I refer to them as canary yellow and baby boy blue.

When I decided on paint colors it was after extensive Pinterest-ing, blog reading, and most importantly listening to podcasts. The Chris Loves Julia podcast is by far my favorite DIY thing to listen to, I will listen to episodes 2 or 3 times to remember everything and, it's just enjoyable to me. Episode 16: I Am On A Drug, It's Called Paint Sheen was a learning experience for both Liam and me so it was great to listen to together. This is how I chose the living room color, I loved how it looked in her photos and decided it was the one. Now this is not how they say you should choose because editing pictures, furniture, undertones, etc. it can all be different but it turned out great for us. The second color for the bedroom, I chose based on the woods and colors that would go best with this, Google was my friend here and that is how I decided (again, not always recommended).

The spare/living room:


Color: color matched to Benjamin Moore Hazy Skies at Home Depot
Side note: that patch used to be a heater we removed because it was ugly and probably not functional. I have not repainted over that spot yet, work in progress.

The bedroom:


Color: color matched to Benjamin Moore Gray Wisp at Home Depot

We have decided on the bathroom paint color, but still need the hallway/kitchen color. I like neutral grays if you haven't noticed already. I think I like the idea of pops of color with neutral walls, easier to match I think.

bathroom mood board

Sep 17, 2016

1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5 // 6 // 7

I like moodboards.

They show you ideas of what you want in a room and you can see if everything actually flows together. I never thought my Pinterest board would be full of different rooms and actually trying to piece them together, but here we are today. If you haven't noticed yet, I will continue to be surprised at the dilemma we are in and the renovations we have decided to undertake ourselves. If you don't like it, you might want to stop reading now! Or don't because I like people being nosy in my life or being interested in it.

When I showed this mood board to my friend K, she mentioned how it was very white. It's true, I love white done right. All of my dream bloggers do white and I am envious of how good they are at designing it all. So instead of doing it all white, I decided I wanted darker walls to contrast everything going on. Benjamin Moore Black Pepper. Thank you Young House Love for the inspiration of color because I don't think I would ever choose a dark color like Black Pepper. When you see photos, it is more of a dark blue but I still like it.

One added pop of color will be plants. Plants. Plants. Plants! I want the house to have plants to help clean the air and bring some natural elements into the space. I can not guarantee that these plants will last longer than a few months (who am I kidding, weeks), but I do still want some of these. String of pearl, snake plants, pothos plants, so many decision green thumbs!

Also, a bathmat. I want colors in it. I have not decided what rugs or light fixtures. I open the door in Pinterest and design blogs and I get sucked in to the point where I forget what I was looking for in the first place. It's a black whole of inspiration or distraction, whicheer you see fit.

Anyways, we are going to enjoy our renovation-free weekend. We are headed to New Jersey this weekend with Sheila, her first long trip. We will be picking up the cabinets, counter tops, and sink at IKEA this weekend. YAY! One step closer to mini-dream kitchen.

reno update: part 1

Sep 15, 2016

We started demoing Friday, September 2nd.

It has now been almost two full week and it looks COMPLETELY different. By completely different, I mean we gutted everything and it looks dark and dirty. I can see it though! Through my HGTV-Chip-and-Joanna-Gaines-Property-Brothers eyes! It will be worth it in the end when I am no longer wearing a respirator mask to stand in the kitchen and bathroom. We have done all the demolition ourselves and plan on putting it back together ourselves with a little help from our friends (I hope that tune is now stuck in your head like it is in mine). I am sure a lot of my friends are thinking, Sammy? No way she is doing any of this hands on demo stuff. I AM!

We are doing the kitchen, bathroom, stairs, and sometime in the future the main living area. No one can believe we are doing it all ourselves, everyone says does he know what he’s doing? Yes, yes he does. I am dating a handy man! It is exciting since this renovation will probably cost us $10,000 without labor, we are saving a ton of money which sounds strange when I say we’re spending $10k.

Enough with the boring stuff, I know you’re only here to see the actual before and after pictures so I’ll get right to it:

The kitchen is hideous with its cream colored metal cabinets and white ceramic sink. The layout is awkward, the fridge is opposite of the window wall and was too big for the space so a lot needs to be done to make this my "dream kitchen." So we got rid of it all. There were definitely mice some time in the past because when we took the cabinets down there was mouse poop. Although, we have recently seen some and I have a strict no mouse policy so we need to get a handle on that situation!

Bathroom and laundry in one room is not so terrible, but when it looks like it does here, it's pretty terrible. The tub is old and stained, as well as the toilet. The spare cabinets are also metal cabinets. We gutted it all and decided not to reuse any of it.

First round of demolition. Large items out of the room than flooring and tile.

We're making progress and we have about two weeks to finish the bathroom before I have to move out of my apartment so let the fun begin guys! If you want to come over and help you are more than welcome to visit. It also looks completely different from these moments and pictures but time is valuable and I'll continue to update!

the most important renovation piece

Sep 12, 2016

The impulse to buy a house had trickled down to buying the most important piece to our renovation experience and timeliness: a truck. Yup, I said it, a truck. This manicured, high maintenance girl is the proud co-owner of a 2005 rusty Chevy Silverado 1500! For many of my friends who know me well, they know that I am not a truck kind of girl, but I did grow up with a lot of truck kind of friends.

Liam has always wanted a “work truck.”

Definition of work truck: not necessarily used for work, but used to throw lots of crap into the bed of the truck to haul away from renovation sites. This truck will most likely be old, rusty but faithful and reliable in driving around and tough! She will have an 8ft bed to fit full sheets of drywall and a hitch for good luck (in hopes to one day have a boat to pull.) She will be used for hauling, moving, and picking up large items for self and close friends.

Now meet Sheila the Chevy:

We got lucky, really lucky in the timing and finding of this truck. A few weeks ago we thought about buying a trailer and hitch for our Passat or Jetta, which to be honest would not pull very much. We thought about a truck, but did not want to spend more than $2000 and that would have been the max budget. We struggled with finding something reliable and that cheap.

I searched Facebook sale sites near us, as well as Craigslist with no luck for a while. Then one day I found three potential trucks within our price range, close, and fair condition. I emailed the one and heard nothing back. I kept checking Craigslist in hopes of something else since I had heard nothing from the seller until it popped up on Craigslist the next week for $100 cheaper.

I emailed again.

There was this weird feeling I had about it popping up again for $100 cheaper and no response to my first email so I decided to email again but from Liam’s email. I thought maybe because I said my name as a girl they think I couldn’t possibly want this truck, but c’mon this could not be true.

It was. Or at least my assumption it was true!

They emailed Liam back a few hours later telling him the address of the truck so he could test drive it. WHAT KIND OF BULLSHIT IS THAT!? I had come to the conclusion the person was either sexist or racist (Hispanic last name, I’m stretching it I know, but I was mad!). He went to drive the truck and fell in love with it. The next day we took it to a local auto shop to make sure it was in good enough condition to drive. They gave it the thumbs up, rusty yes, but we live in New York with cold weather and salty roads and said it was typical.

The Friday before demolition day started we bought a truck, registered, insured said truck, and started driving it around and utilizing all of her glory. We started demo that night all through Labor Day weekend and Sheila was there to haul all of our trash to the dump, move some of my stuff into storage, and be the reliable work truck that Liam always wanted.

Thanks Sheila, we’ll keep you forever.
And I think all of our friends thank us too because it’s always nice to know someone with a truck!

friday faves | 07

Sep 9, 2016

With upcoming birthdays and the upcoming year of 30 for most of 86-87ers, I thought I would pick out some fun ideas for gifts! As we have all grown up, many of my friends live all across the United States, mostly on the East Coast so still relatively "close," but far enough that we may only see each other once a year (if that!).

    01 | Homesick Candles, they smell like home, what could be better than that? A friend of mine told me about these and it was such a cool idea. Moving away from the place I called home for 28 years of my life and to be able to get a candle from New Jersey!? Um, yes please.

    02 | Address stamps, this is how I know I am getting old when you get an address stamp, but how cute are these? This would make my life so much easier when I am filling out and addressing my 25 Christmas cards, especially since the list of recipients is getting bigger.

    03 | Wine. I live in an area of wine country and everyone seems to love it, I have learned to start enjoying it. Enjoying the sweet, sweet wines of Moscato. Apple juice for adults as I like to call it. Baby steps on the wine for me, although Rieslings also have a place in my heart.

    04 | Bluetooth speakers. We have an old JBL one that we use, either brand is great, but this has been a life saver in entertainment with friends coming over, as well as renovating. Put on a Spotify playlist or Pandora and jam out while tearing down walls or painting. We also love it for listening to podcasts, I am slowly getting him into my favorite podcasts.

    05 | Letterfolk letter boards. I have been eye one of these babies for a few months now. I haven't pulled the trigger to buy one, I almost did when they were 20% off during the holidays but held off. Maybe after our renovations are completed I can convince Liam we need one in the new kitchen ;) They are super cute and versatile in any room, their Instagram is also hilarious to look at.

Enjoy your weekends, I will be heading back to Jersey for a wedding and taking some time away from home renovating! Poor Liam. But I will do an update on our first week for those who have not seen the chaos we have created together. Those of you who have seen it in pictures and in person know we're a little insane for how much work we took on!

home reno: the beginning

Sep 8, 2016

So do you remember that time I said I was buying my first home?
Well as many of my friends and family already know, I'm not buying my first home anymore. If you could have seen the heartbreak in my face when the realization was that I would not be a home owner happened, crying happened.

What happened did you ask? I think I have explained it a dozen times and it doesn't get any easier to know your dream starter is a bust. For those of you who don't know, let me rewind:
    When I decided to buy the home it was somewhat of an impulsive decision, I started saving money in order to look for the house but was nowhere near ready (foreshadowing, maybe?). The house came on the market on a Thursday and I put in an offer on a Tuesday, it was the perfect little starter home for me and recently flipped. I would have to do no work to it structurally, just a few cosmetic things (another irony of foreshadowing) like paint colors. We started down the long road to closing day and as the date started to get closer, we found the bump in the road. It was more like a complete halt.

    Their lawyer told us he found the title was not clean and he was embarrassed that he had missed it before (he helped them purchase this house six months prior). Apparently, somewhere in the history of this house a mother passed away, gifted the house to her three children and one of them went bankrupt in the process. She never told the bank that she owned 1/3 of this house and somehow there is someone's name attached to the title of this house, besides the sellers. Say whatttt?

    How do you remove the name? You go to court or as my lawyer suggested, get owners title insurance and it will protect you if someone tries to come back for anything. And that's when I decided to walk away from the house. I am lucky enough to surround myself with people who care about me and what goes on in my life, who are also much wiser. Every single person said to walk away and it was not worth the hassle, especially if I tried to resell it later.
So I walked away...

And here we are now (sort of because I still have my apartment!):

Don't mind Liam, he's hooking up the new electric power washer so we can wash the side of the house and the spiders!

This is Liam's duplex apartment he owns, his dad just moved in downstairs after we renovated it (part of the kitchen here). We are moving upstairs for the time being to save some money, but it looks like a frat boy used to live there and I refused to live with the bathroom. At first, we decided a band aid would work: new toilet, tub, and vanity, would be okay, but we talked more and more and came to the conclusion it should be done the right way and completely remodeled... (please send stress balls my way because I have a lot of freak out, break down, crying moments).

A month until move out date from my lease ending (actually less than a month) and we have to be out of the apartment September 30th. So, what is the plan?
  • Move into Liam's house
  • Move my things into storage
  • Paint the two finished rooms (spare and master bedroom)
  • Change the spare bedroom into a living room
  • Remove the bushes outside (too many spiders)
  • Remove the tree in the front yard for better parking
  • Fix and update stairs
  • Redo the bathroom and kitchen
Sounds easy right?
Well, "redoing the bathroom and kitchen" actually means take everything out of it and gut everything down to the studs and change all the galvanized piping into PVC pipes, move where the tub, toilet, washer/dryer, and vanity went, as well as buy a brand new bathroom and kitchen. When I tell people we are renovating, they thing easy stuff... not even close.

So my perfect little recently renovated starter home with no updating turned into completely renovating Liam's duplex apartment in one month. If we make it through this without killing each other, I think we might be able to make it through almost anything.

Follow along in our journey of crazy nights and maybe a few weekends, although the next two weekends I am away. OOPS.

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