...because home doesn't happen overnight.
06.08.12 / A Work in Progress

Our Underdog is livable {yippee!} but by no means is it finished. There are a few pressing issues that need to be addressed to make our house safer and more functional.

Here are the top 9 projects on our to-do list in no particular order:

1. Finish unpacking and clear out the garage. Self explanatory. I think the picture says it all.

2. Install register covers. Sounds easy enough, right? Wrong. Our house is built on a concrete slab with a down flow furnace which means ductwork to all registers runs within the slab. All but three of our floor registers open up right at perimeter walls. During renovation, we opened up the walls to add insulation, tore out the old termite-ridden baseboards, laid engineered hardwoods and installed new, thicker baseboards. That left us with less room for a standard register cover.

Since we can’t move the registers themselves {because the ducts are within the concrete slab}, Handy Hubby thought about trimming down a standard cover to fit. It turns out all of the covers we like would have to be trimmed so much that it would destroy what was left {i.e. the open parts of the cover would be cut into}. The normally simple task of installing register covers has become quite a predicament. HH is now talking about cutting into the bottom of the baseboards where a register pops up to squeeze in a cover then caulk around the baseboard-register cover seam. Good times. I will say that our boys have been surprisingly good about avoiding the open registers. No one has stepped into a register or lost a toy down one yet. {I’m probably jinxing myself.} I think it has more to do with the registers’ placement along rooms’ perimeters and less to do with Layne and Everett following orders.

3. Hang interior doors. Have I mentioned we have no interior doors at the moment? Say what?! All bedrooms, hall closets and our one finished bathroom are doorless. Good thing no one in our family is too modest. As a temporary fix, I have blackout panels hanging from tension rods in each bedroom’s doorway. {The one on Mabrey’s room is actually two shades I had made for our interim apartment safety-pinned together.} The closets and bathroom are bare. The panels are okay for now but I’m constantly telling the boys to be quiet when Mabrey is sleeping. I’m anxiously awaiting the day when I’ll be able to close a door between my sleeping baby girl and my two rowdy boys. Ahem, HH.

4. Organize closets. The original closets {save for one hall closet} had one hanging rod with a shallow shelf above it. We removed the hanging rods in the master closet and boys’ closet during renovation because we wanted to optimize storage in those two larger closets. Now that I’m unpacking our belongings, it’s difficult to find a spot for anything.

Currently, my hanging clothes are in Mabrey’s closet and HH’s are in one of the hall closets. The boys’ clothes are folded in a linen closet and their toys are piled up on the floor in their bedroom closet. Obviously, this temporary setup is NOT working.

5. Organize PAX wardrobes. This goes along with the dysfunctional closets. Right now there’s just a bunch of stuff lying in the bottom of each wardrobe. IKEA sells complementary storage accessories for the wardrobes and we’ll be implementing those.

6. Find a rug for the boys’ bedroom. Boys will be boys and mine like to wrestle around with each other on a daily basis. That’s hard to do on wood floors. They need a soft place to play. I’m considering Flor tiles {expensive!} or having carpet bound into a custom rug {less expensive but not cheap!}.

7. Design a workstation along one wall in the boys’ bedroom. I’d love for Layne and Everett to each have their own workspace. It’s not so much a priority now {Layne’s finishing up 1st grade and Everett’s in preschool} but will be in the years to come. I’d love to have it done way in advance so they can take advantage of it sooner rather than later. Not to mention, we could use the extra storage.

8. Do something with the flippin’ front door. Do you detect any hostility? The door, I like. How it functions, I do not like.

To unlock it from the inside, you must use a key. Do you know how many times I’ve resorted to sliding open the front window to talk to a visitor because I can’t find my key right at that moment? More than I care to admit.

The door also has ~2″ gap at the bottom so we must keep the old aluminum storm door on the outside to keep critters from getting in. The storm door is bent and doesn’t close properly. And it’s LOUD. And it’s UGLY. It’s UGLY LOUD. {That’s a new term I’m going to start using.} It’s not the first impression I want to make.

9. Get the TV working. Mind you, if I was single, this wouldn’t be on the list. {However, if I was single, then this list wouldn’t even exist because I’d still be trying to knock down walls.} The TV is all HH. We aren’t big TV watchers but HH has this thing about installing electronics right away in new places. I think it’s the engineer in him. Or the upcoming summer Olympics. As is, the TV is hung but not functional.

Those are our pressing projects. Notice none of them include painting the french doors, hanging new light fixtures, installing tongue and groove around the TV, hiding the washer/dryer, etc. Rooms have to work for me before I can even think about making them look pretty. Otherwise, it’s like putting deodorant on dirty armpits. Okay, I have no idea where that analogy came from.

That’s not to say if we have a lapse in between projects that I won’t be tempted to, say, paint a crib or something.

Check here to see who won this week’s giveaway!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

44 Comments

08.June.2012

I love seeing your progress and am awaiting each new post to see what is new. I like how you are seeing organization before decoration – it just makes sense. And I have to say, I love your armpit analogy : )

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No TV? Oh man… You really are roughing it! Nah, just kidding. The hard stuff is behind you. I remember when I bought my first house, my father wouldn’t come down to help me unless the cable was hooked up!! We men have our priorities.

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congrats on living in your new place! You guys have done so.much.work – I’m simply amazed at the amount of reno work, not to mention balancing work/kiddos/*ahem* making a new little one! You probably know this already, but there are companies that can make register covers sized to order – cant wait to see your solution!

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Oh I do not miss those days at all! Sending good thoughts your way for quick solutions and your sanity intact.

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08.June.2012

PLEASE, PLEASE fix the front door ASAP! Having only a key to unlock it from the inside is a huge fire safety hazard!

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replied on June 10th, 2012

My childhood house had (still has) the same issue. Have an extra key made that STAYS at the front door. Keep it in the lock during the times you are in the house, so that in case of a fire or emergency, you can always quickly unlock the door. If you are worried about someone breaking a window of the door and then reaching in and taking/using the key, keep the key on a hook just out of reach of that window but as close to the door as possible. Realistically, just keep the key in the lock at all times. And teach your boys how to open the front door so that they’ll be prepared in case of an emergency.

Your renovations are inspiring! I like the transformation of the house so far, especially raising the ceilings.

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replied on June 12th, 2012

After my house was broken into by the bad guys breaking out the front door window and just reaching in and flipping the lockset, I added a deadbolt lock to the inside.

Just keep a spare key handy, but unreachable from outside. Don’t replace that lock or leave the key in the lock. Front doors with windows are so vulnerable.

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08.June.2012

My husband peered over my shoulder & saw your register problem. He had the same issue helping his dad renovate a couple of old Victorians. They got lucky at a reclaimed hardware store and found some smaller register covers. Worth a shot? A few of the mobile home size ones worked cut down slightly.

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replied on June 9th, 2012

Ooh, thanks for the tip!

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09.June.2012

I totally understand your feelings about the door. I just redid the front and back of my front door. I couldn’t take it. Thanks for the updates. I just love your home.

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09.June.2012

Can’t wait for you to get started on your to-do list. About that front door, my mom had a front door lock that required a key to unlock/lock from the inside. But then she’d just leave in the key dangling in the lock (from the inside) for easier access…I don’t know if you’d wanna try that. But it’s not bad once you get used to it.

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replied on June 9th, 2012

That’s probably what I should do. But I haven’t gotten a duplicate key made yet, so I can’t keep the key in the lock. Plus, I predict my kids would play with the key and lose it if I left it in the lock. I’m hoping there’s some way we can change the deadbolt feature.

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09.June.2012

I looove lists (see for yourself … http://lecloslafayette.over-blog.com/article-sans-projet-non-100-projets-105290513.html). I sure would fix that door since it gives a hard time every time someone rings the bell. How about a win-win : TV+door(s) ?!!! Take care and good luck !

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09.June.2012

Hi we had a floor situation like this. The contractor put flooring in the space after he drilled holes in it. You cannot adjust the air flow, but it looks good and works well

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09.June.2012

Press on! The progress seems slow at times, but it increases exponentially.
For the boys’ room, have you considered other carpet tiles? I’ve used some from icarpettiles.com, and they really work out great. Some on the website are hideous, so you have to do some searching, but the prices are very reasonable on the small lots.

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replied on June 9th, 2012

Thanks for the heads up! Hadn’t heard of that site before.

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09.June.2012

I’ve seen the same style register online (can’t think of where right now) but in a large variety of sizes. Maybe the skinnier ones would work for your openings.

Nikki Kelly

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09.June.2012

I know you’re up to your eyeballs in stuff, but can you tell me the name of your paint around your front door? I need to pick a neutral grey for my new house but I’m 750 miles away from being able to paint test swatches. Tyvm.

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replied on June 9th, 2012

It’s Benjamin Moore’s Tapestry Beige, color-matched in Behr’s {Home Depot} primer + paint in one.

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Hey, who hasn’t put deodorant on dirty armpits at least once? It’s so interesting to see the whole process and, truth be told, I’m a little envious of your ability to start fresh. Thanks for all the updates and keep those gratuitous baby shots coming!

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09.June.2012

we had an awkward sized hole that needed a cover and a friend of mine was able to have one custom made for us at a local metal fabricator. i think wood ones can be relatively easily custom made (or DIY’d like the suggestion above) and then it would fit in with the floor instead of laying on top of it which would be a good look. it sure is looking good!

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09.June.2012

Have you seen the skinny registers Kate @ Centsational Girl used recently on her window seat install?
http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2012/06/we-have-a-window-seat/#more-28623

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09.June.2012

Our friends had a similar register problem and did as a previous poster has suggested. They took a piece of their flooring, drilled a bunch of holes (in a pattern obviously) and just dropped it in…voila! Register covers that blend it:) Yes, they aren’t adjustable but they just kind of disappear into the floor which is a nice effect.

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09.June.2012

Hey! Idea for your baseboard registers! We have almost identical looking holes in our floors if you removed the registers. They make registers that sit up against the wall and floor at an angle; like this one here:
http://www.prosourcecenter.com/servlet/the-1198/wood-vent-floor-register/Detail

This one is ugly, but I couldn’t find a pic of the ones they have at Home Depot, which is where we get ours (in white). And they are about the same price as a regular register. Granted, they aren’t as pretty as one that sits flat up against the floor, but they might look better than hacked up ones, and they are certainly a much easier solution! Good luck!!

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10.June.2012

Are you for real painting a crib? My mom bought us a black crib before we knew what we were having. I was convinced it was a boy. Baby turned out to be a SHE and a black crib just doesn’t work. I’ve been struggling with the design of her room for more than a year now. I really want to paint our crib white (I love the crib otherwise) and my mom is all for it! but I have no idea what products to use or what direction to start. If you know of any tutorials or have suggestions please let me know. I’d really appreciate it! Oh and good luck getting settled in.

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replied on June 11th, 2012

I’m thinking about painting Mabrey’s crib. As is, it’s a light wood tone that looks ‘off’ in her new room. {Not that it’s even assembled for her to sleep in yet!} Since this will be baby #3 – and last baby! – in our family that gets to use it, I have no problem painting it. I’m looking to use no VOC primer/paint and trying to figure out how to remove then replace the plastic protectors on the top rail. Should be interesting!

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10.June.2012

Daunting to say the least, huh? Especially the storage. Whew – However, in spite of the “flipping door” problem, I love the image of you leaning out of a window to talk to people. For some reason, the image from The Wizard of Oz comes to mind where the little guy looks out the opening in the door. I suppose you might not look back on this as the summer of love, given all the work that needs to be done, but the beauty is shining through – I LOVE those chairs that are in front of the fireplace!

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10.June.2012

Dana,
Long time reader, first time commenter. To say that I have loved watching your work in progress is an understatement, if you have a new posting, it’s the first one I read.
For the boys room, do you have any local rebuilding centers, or furnishings donation place. In Portland, we have a place called Scrap (http://scrappdx.org/) and I have been lucky enough to find Flor Tile samples that Architect & Design offices have donated, at a buck a piece, I am able to create some uber affordable rugs. Also, not sure if you are tied into the local architecture or design scene, but it might be worth hitting up a couple firms and speaking to their “resource librarian” and asking if they have any Flor samples they are done with.
I hope this helps, keep up the great work and best of luck settling in.
Kirk

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replied on June 11th, 2012

Hadn’t thought of getting Flor samples and making my own rug. There’s an original idea!

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10.June.2012

Have you considered using wood registers (which can be cut down) and staining them to match the floor? We recently had our hardwoods put in and converted our half baseboard/half floor registers to floor registers stained to match the hardwood. It is so nice to have them so “hidden” in the sense that you have to be right over the register to even realize where they are in the floor. I know there’s places that can do custom stain colors.

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10.June.2012

I had the same suggestion as someone up above–slanted register covers. We live in a 50s-era house with humongous baseboards, and we have these in all of our rooms because they’re the only things that will fit! Here’s a link to the white ones from Home Depot: http://www.homedepot.com/Building-Materials-Heating-Venting-Cooling-Registers-Grilles/h_d1/N-5yc1vZar6b/R-202528154/h_d2/ProductDisplay?catalogId=10053&langId=-1&storeId=10051. Only $12 each! Hope this helps.

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10.June.2012

It would be nearly impossible for me NOT to comment on this post. As if I couldn’t find one more thing that our homes have in common, that beloved front door! We had the exact same door in our house up until the past few weeks when we finally replaced it (http://www.cape27blog.com/2012/05/shut-the-front-door/). You’re front door lock story is hilarious (only because I’ve been there!). Our actual door handle broke off just days after moving in, and since we knew we’d be replacing the door entirely we just stuck it out for a few months. You had to wiggle the knob back on every time you wanted to open the door from the inside. My 18-month-old loved playing hide the door knob. And I had to seriously ask strangers to open the door from the outside when welcoming them more than a few times. We also had that 2 inch gap at the bottom, and since it was cold outside during the time, we had to keep the screen door closed to try and keep the house heated! I even threw down towels to help, ha! Good times. Just remember it’s not forever! Can’t wait to see what you do with yours :)

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replied on June 11th, 2012

Love your new front door! Great job!

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11.June.2012

Growing up we had a similar issue with a front door that locked from the inside. My mother hated that lock and was extremely concerned about it being a fire hazard with a 7 and 4 year old in the house. My grandfather was a locksmith and came up with a great solution. Not only was there a duplicate key that was left inside the lock at all time but it was GLUED into the lock as well so no removal, not chance of it getting lost or misplaced.

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replied on June 11th, 2012

Great idea!

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11.June.2012

Um, I think I figured out which one you want done first: “Ahem, HH” :-) A sleeping baby would have ZERO hope around my two boys if there were no doors, so I can fully imagine how you feel! I’m so excited to see what you plan to do with the house and how it’s going to be decorated. Maybe you’ll find a couple of extra minutes in the day to be able to get your projects out of the way so that you can move on to more projects! It all looks great so far though!

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11.June.2012

I know someone else has already said this and also that the thought has already crossed your mind, but PLEASE change the front door soon – or install a lock that doesn’t require a key. A friend of the family was hospitalized for severe smoke inhalation when a fire broke out in his apartment and he couldn’t find the key to unlock the front door. Thankfully he escaped without any burns, but the hospitalization and recovery were very rough on him.

Your blog is definitely one of my favorites. Thanks for spending the time updating even with the business of three little ones!

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11.June.2012

I’m guessing the bottom of the front door was trimmed because of carpeting in the house – you’ll have to add a piece at the bottom to fix that which will probably mean refinishing the entire door. You can probably use the same holes to replace the deadbolt & door knob.

It might be easier to find something either new or salvage that could be refinished & fitted with hardware without the tight schedule of “OMG we have no front door until this is done!” Then sell or donate your old door after the switch.

Good luck with the search for register covers and all your closet/organizational work. You guys are my heros for accomplishing so much with 3 small children – I get tired just thinking about it all.

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11.June.2012

I’m just wondering if the threshold piece for the door is still in position? If so, maybe it could be replaced with something thicker.

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12.June.2012

oh my …sounds and looks like you have a lot to get done! But we’re excited to see all the changes in your new home.We have a pax wardrobe as well and it was such a pain to install the glass sliding door (www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/S69869578/) this is the one we have, its really nice and functional once its built but the process of building it…i wanted to strangle someone!

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Kate @ centsational girl just put in a small register in the window seat she just made. Here’s the post I saw it in. http://www.centsationalgirl.com/2012/06/we-have-a-window-seat/#more-28623

she didn’t say where she got it but it’s allen + roth from the pics.

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19.June.2012

Where are those lovely chairs from?

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replied on June 20th, 2012

I found them at a Grandin Road outlet last fall for a steal…$500 for both. They are the Baylor club chairs.

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20.June.2012

I had to come up with a solution to that same deadbolt key problem. Our rentals in Pennsylvania were the first places I had encountered the deadbolts that required a key both inside and outside. It doesn’t seem safe at all to me, like the person above said about the fire! I resorted to tacking a nail into the wall or the door frame (up HIGH on the wall out of reach of kids) and hanging the key on it. That worked well for me, but it helped that at least the second house had totally adorable vintage skeleton key-type keys, so they looked :”cute” hanging on the wall with some other decorative items. For safety’s sake, go get duplicates and do this until you figure out if you will be replacing the locks.

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