...because home doesn't happen overnight.

*THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED*

Congrats to Stacy who plans on using the $100 gift card to paint her downstairs!

I’ve been unplugged for a while {and hope you have been too, enjoying your family and friends} but things are about to get all messy up in here. ‘Messy’ as in painting {we’re actually well into this project!}, tiling, installing flooring and cabinetry, DIYing countertops, etc. As much as we’re trying to avoid unnecessary waste, renovating sans scrap material and debris is pretty much impossible. That’s where the Bagster comes in.

The Bagster is a highly durable, woven bag that can handle up to 3,300 pounds of debris. It’s big enough to hold full sheets of plywood, doors and even a bathtub. It’s a convenient choice for smaller home improvement projects as the bag is larger than a garbage can but smaller than a dumpster. And with more people choosing to DIY their home projects to save money, the Bagster offers an affordable option over making trips to the dump. Simply purchase the Bagster at your local home improvement store for $29.95, take as long as you want to fill it up, then schedule a collection time online or via phone at your convenience for a flat fee depending on your area. {For all the specifics, click here.}

Now that demolition has ended and the renovation dust has settled a bit, we plan on using the Bagster ourselves to complete the nitty gritty details of our renovation over the coming weeks. In other words, we’re getting to the good stuff!!

So, what’s in it for you? Waste Management not only offers the Bagster but is also offering one lucky House*Tweaking reader a $100 American Express gift card to take on whatever project is next on his/her 2012 to-do list. Here are all the details on how to enter:

  • PRIZE:  $100 American Express gift card which has a U.S. restriction for in-store purchases but works online anywhere. Should there be an international winner, the gift card may be awarded in the form of an e-gift card depending on the winner’s location.
  • RULES:  You must be at least 18 years old. One entry per email address.
  • HOW TO ENTER:  Leave a comment on this post proclaiming “IT’S IN THE BAG!”
  • DEADLINE:  Enter before Thursday, January 5th at 9:00 p.m. EST. One winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced on Friday, January 6th.
  • WHILE YOU’RE AT IT:  Share what you’re most looking forward to in 2012. New endeavors? A long awaited home improvement project? A dream vacation? More of 2011? For me, it’s a toss up between meeting baby #3  {due this spring} and finally moving into the Underdog {hopefully before this spring}. No pressure, Handy Hubby. ;)

Don’t forget to like the Bagster on Facebook or follow them on Twitter.

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Waste Management partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its The Bagster® Bag Blogger Challenge.  As part of the program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the The Bagster® Bag Blogger Challenge. Waste Management believes that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Waste Management’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

images: the Bagster bag

12.18.11 / A Sampling

Handy Hubby is home! And not a moment too soon. I’ve been running around like a mad woman taking the boys to and from school/gymnastics, working {more than usual, ugh}, Christmas shopping, running from doctor appointment to doctor appointment {Everett developed an ear infection shortly after HH left on his business trip and I’ve had OB checkups} and gathering paint swatches from every paint supply store in town. I know I’m probably not any busier than any other mom out there. And I’m not complaining…only very grateful that HH is back to help lighten the load a little. Boy, did I miss him. Just having him here to take over a few nights of bath time and bedtime is like vacation to me.

So, yeah, did you catch that part about me gathering paint swatches? HH ordered a paint sprayer to prime and paint the Underdog’s interior. It arrived while he was away. He’s getting antsy to use it. Which means we’ve got to nail down trim and wall colors ASAP. Basically, I’ve been scouring the internet for color ideas then picking up swatches from all the different brands available around here: Valspar, Behr, Glidden, Benjamin Moore, Sherwin Williams, etc. Then I narrowed down a half dozen ‘maybes’, had some samples made at Home Depot in the Behr brand and painted out some foam board to test in the Underdog.

Here’s an unedited sampling of the sampling…

Mudroom/dining room – Thinking of DIYing white wainscoting with a darker color painted above. If you look closely, there’s a small tile sample on the floor. It’s a lighter travertine with lots of variation in it.

Family room/mantel – Definitely wanting to keep the walls light and airy in here. {Once again, that white stuff on the mantel is my attempt at naturally removing soot from the brick with baking powder + dish soap.} All this time I’ve been sold on painting the brick surround…but I’m having second thoughts.

Family room/ceiling – HH was kind enough to hold up a wall color possibility next to a white ceiling possibility. For a minute, we contemplated painting the ceiling something other than white – like a light neutral tone instead – but decided we really liked the idea of a white ceiling.

Kitchen – Trying to picture any of those with black lower cabinets, white upper cabinets and stainless steel appliances/hood. I think we’ve ousted the middle color. It’s a little too dark.

Great room – The final two??

Boys’ room – There’s a sample of the wood flooring lying in front of the white-ish foam board. I immediately decided I didn’t like the one on the far right. Looks like baby poop. I’m leaning towards the one second from the left but I like the blue-gray to the left also. Hmmm?

Master bedroom – This is the only ‘for sure’ that HH and I have right now. Our bedroom is on the north side of the house and doesn’t receive a lot of natural light so we wanted something light but warm. I think this is it. I think.

Master bathroom – This is the same blue-gray color from the boys’ room image. It looks nice in the master bath but we’d like the master bedroom and bathroom to be painted the same color for continuity. So now we’re stuck wondering ‘do we paint the bedroom blue-gray since the bath looks good in the color or do we stick with the light, warm neutral that we really like in the bedroom and paint the bath that color as well?’ Decision, decisions.

And we’re not even discussing the nursery yet. It’s such a small space – not even 10′ x10′ – that I shouldn’t have a problem painting it out with a roller {versus the sprayer} once we get moved in and I get into nesting the nursery. The hallway to the bedrooms and the guest/kids’ bath just off the great room will probably get painted whatever color we decide on for the great room walls…to keep things cohesive and flowing nicely in those small areas.

When it comes to selecting paint colors, there’s no magic wand for us. We always use samples on foam board and move them around from room to room, viewing them at different times of the day before we make any decisions.

The hardest thing for me right now is looking at all of my inspiration images and trying to bring them to life in the Underdog while staying true to our family’s lifestyle. I.e., most of the images in my inspiration folder are of rooms with white walls and as much as I love them, I’m not sure how well they’d carry over into everyday living. The kids would surely mark them up and I’m a little afraid I’d start to feel as if I was living in an insane asylum. Still, I get all googly-eyed over white rooms. Who knows where we’ll end up with our paint selections?

I’ll be sure to let you know as soon as I do.

images: all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

The oversized leather sectional that we had in our previous home was too large for the Underdog’s family room.

Technically, it would have fit but it would have taken up nearly all of the floor space in the downsized space and engulfed our future family room. So, we decided to sell it and put the money towards a more appropriately sized version for the Underdog.

Since Handy Hubby liked the previous sectional so much, he had a few stipulations for our next sofa.

  • No loose back cushions. The leather sectional we’d owned before had attached back pillows and HH really liked not having to adjust them every time he sat down and got up. From a design standpoint, I liked this characteristic as well. Loose back cushions can start to look frumpy or lumpy over time. This meant we were on the hunt for either a couch with attached back cushions or a tight back.
  • No microfiber. HH doesn’t particularly like the feel or texture of microfiber. I was okay with this requirement too since microfiber tends to look differently if the fibers are pushed one way or the other. I.e., you get the famous butt print effect after someone gets up from sitting. Not that I haven’t seen some good microfiber pieces out there – I have – but if HH didn’t want it, then I was willing to toss it out of the search.
  • Kid-friendly. We have kids – two boys ages 6 and 3. And a baby on the way. The sofa will serve as main seating in the family room, so it has to hold up to bouncy, rowdy kids. And even though we don’t allow food or drinks {except for water and the occasional bowl of popcorn} outside the kitchen/dining area, upholstery fabric had to be durable and easy to clean. That meant we were looking at either leather {like we’d had before}, faux leather or slipcovered pieces. Microfiber would have fit the kid-friendly bill but, again, neither of us really wanted it.
  • Long-term investment. HH and I were both willing to spend a little more moolah on a quality piece that would stand the test of time as opposed to shelling out hundreds of dollars only to replace a couch of lesser quality in a few short years. This is not our stand on every piece of furniture. But for a sofa that would see regular daily use and be somewhat of a centerpiece for the great room, we felt this would be a good ‘splurge’ item. $2,000 was the max limit we felt comfortable spending. {Again, it helped that we were selling a bunch of the furniture from our previous home to invest in fewer, higher quality items for the Underdog.}
  • Comfortable. Not too soft that we’d sink while watching TV. Not too firm that we couldn’t lounge or nap. Not too shallow that we couldn’t curl up with a book and our kiddos. Not too deep that we’d have to install one of those lift mechanisms just to get up from a sitting position.

Our future couch had to meet a few requirements to say the least. Maybe one other requirement for me was that it have a good aesthetic. Naturally. I didn’t want an expensive, comfy, kid-friendly, non-microfiber sofa with a tight back that stood out like the black sheep of the Underdog! I wasn’t exactly sure what specific aesthetic I was looking for but I knew I wanted something with clean lines and not too high of a back since I planned on floating the sofa in the middle of the family room, facing the fireplace.

So, the search was on.

On a trip to IKEA over the summer {before we’d even sold our previous sectional}, we stumbled upon the Klippan four-seater sofa. It was comfy and slipcovered with straight lines and a low tight back. It wasn’t microfiber and while it would have been kid-friendly with its removable, washable slipcover, I started to wonder if the low, low price tag {less than $500} wasn’t an indication of its long-term durability. Still, I envisioned it with a linen-like custom slipcover and kept that idea on the back burner for a while.

I didn’t get a chance to try it out because once we sold our sectional, the Klippan four-seater had already been discontinued. Boo. I even called the nearest IKEA store to make sure they didn’t have any stragglers sitting in stock but they were completely out. The loveseat version was {and is} still available but it was smaller than what we were needing. I took it as a sign. A sign to move on.

What I moved onto was Crate & Barrel’s Aris sofa.

 

Again, it had nice lines, a non-microfiber slipcover, tight back and down cushions that screamed ‘comfy!’ The only things that had me questioning ‘Is it the one?’ were the slightly curved back and dry-clean only hemp slipcover. At $1,600, it wasn’t cheap and if I couldn’t throw the cover into the wash every time one of the kids accidentally marked it up then it didn’t sound perfect. So, I decided it wasn’t. Good thing, too. Because it turned up discontinued right when I decided it wasn’t for us.

I was slowly discovering that whatever ‘perfect’ sofa came along, I’d jump at buying it after watching the two above be discontinued. I was starting to think all the good ones were gone. I scoured Craigslist for vintage sofas with modern lines that could be reupholstered…to no avail. I hit up consignment stores and outlets all around the area…to no avail.

That’s when I discovered this bad boy.

He’s leather with straight lines and attached back cushions. He’s much like the sectional we had previously with three notably different qualities:

1) He’s not an oversized sectional. This 90″ long sofa is big enough to fit our entire family but modest enough to fit our downsized family room. I taped out his footprint onto the family room floor for good measure. Literally.

2) His back is lower. While the high back of our previous sectional was helpful in delineating the family room from the adjacent open dining area, it would have been too high for the Underdog’s much smaller space.

3) He’s not chocolate brown. This cognac-like sofa is a bit lighter on the eyes than our darker sectional. The color makes me think of saddles and boots.

I immediately showed him to HH who approved whole-heartedly and was a bit surprised by my masculine choice. As much as I adore slipcovered pieces {they’re so airy and cottage-y, aren’t they?}, I really did like how easy it was to keep our last leather sectional clean and how durable it was. Seriously, after 3.5 years of kids jumping on it, it looked exactly like it did the day we originally bought it. Not a tear or stain to be found. I knew this top grain sofa would stand the test of time as well.

I stalked him for a while until he popped up with a free shipping special. I called and talked to a salesperson and was able to get him for $1,800 flat – shipping and taxes included – which was about $200 off the listed price. Not exactly cheap by any means but he was within our budget and I was already picturing him in the Underdog, so I knew this was ‘the one.’

He was delivered to the Underdog last week. HH was away on business, so I had the delivery guys shove him {completely boxed and packaged} into the crowded garage. I haven’t even had a chance to open him up yet. Maybe I’ll do that tomorrow. I hope he’s as sexy and rich as I imagine him to be. I’ve already named him Nate after Nate Berkus. Doesn’t he feel very ‘Nate’ to you?

The plan is to float him in the family room facing the fireplace. The two linen-like upholstered chairs I already showed you will sit opposite him to round out a nice, comfy casual seating area. At some point I need to hunt down a rug to ground the floating furniture arrangement and I’m playing around with the idea of using a console behind the sofa. But I think I’ll wait and see how the space feels once we’re moved in before I start scoping out consoles. I want to make sure things won’t feel cramped.

So, there you go. Our latest furniture purchase. I can’t wait to test him out. The petite sofa we have in our apartment {which I plan to use as a dining settee in the future} is soooo not for lounging. It has more of an upright seat and isn’t even long enough for my 5’3″ body to stretch out on completely.

What about you? What characteristics do/are you look/looking for in a sofa? Or maybe you call it a couch. I went back and forth in this post because sofa sounds better but I typically say couch due to my rural upbringing.

FYI – Good news for you! Just found the exact sofa for cheaper than I paid here if you’re interested. Looks like quantities are limited.

images: 1) IKEA  2) Crate & Barrel 3) Elements Fine Home Furnishings

12.13.11 / The Ceiling’s Up!

Handy Hubby has been on two business trips in the last two weeks and has yet another one coming up. {All three trips were last minute job requirements and have thrown quite the wrench into the renovation, figuratively speaking.} Needless to say, progress has been slow at the Underdog. My priority has been entertaining the kids in between working and growing a baby. Again, kudos to all the single moms out there. I’m doing it short-term and I can’t imagine how challenging it must be to do it day in and day out. Single moms in every form, you’re amazing.

HH did make it back for a two-day stint. Not that I saw him. He was busy working on the tongue and groove ceiling in the Underdog’s great room. With the help of some very selfless friends, he was able to finish up the other {kitchen} side of the vaulted ceiling.

HH cut 1″x8″ pine boards to line the skylight insets.

He still has to frame them out with a little trim.

We’re lovin’ the plank ceiling. And, yep, while the unfinished pine isn’t a bad look, we’re planning on priming and painting it white. We think the white will keep things bright and airy and not fight with the other wood finishes that will be in the great room {black and white cabinets, medium hued hardwoods, etc.}.

Looking up at the ceiling, it almost seems as if you’re looking at a pine floor…if it weren’t for the ridge beam breaking things up. In fact, installing the tongue and groove on the ceiling was much like installing it on a floor – except HH was doing a lot of looking up instead of looking down.

The room as a whole is starting to shape up. In fact, it’s looking more new than old, so that feels good even though progress is stagnant.

Don’t mind the white on the brick fireplace surround. That’s just my natural home remedy for removing soot from the brick before we prime and paint it. It’s a baking powder + dish soap paste {I’m trying to avoid chemicals if possible} and I think it’s been up for 3 weeks now because I haven’t had a kid-free moment to scrape and rinse it off. Oh, life.

Everett loves ‘working’ on the Underdog. Basically, that consists of him walking around with a toy hammer and pounding on random surfaces. He likes to wear his black winter gloves while he does it because they get all dusty…proof that he’s been ‘working.’ Five minutes later, he’s done.

Here’s the newest view looking from the mudroom/dining room into the great room. And to think that it used to look like this…

Slow and steady wins the race, right?

images: all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking