...because home doesn't happen overnight.
That’s Everett. He’s five. He wants to do everything his big brother does including wash his hands at the kitchen sink even though he can’t reach the faucet. Instead of walking back to the bathroom, because you know it’s sooooo far, he climbs up on the counter and precariously balances on the edge of the sink. Obviously, it isn’t safe. I keep picturing him falling head first into the sink or backwards onto the floor. Plus, there’s no center support in the cabinet under the sink so I don’t really think it’s meant to hold the weight of five-year-olds.
Enter the Ikea BEKVÄM step stool. It’s $15, constructed of solid wood and sturdy. (We have one in the boys’ room so I can vouch for it.)
(I got a little carried away with laying out the unassembled pieces. Doesn’t it look like a graphic group cheerleading pose?)
Before assembly, I painted the legs and stained the steps. I walked into Sherwin Williams (I had a gift card burning a hole in my pocket) and was immediately drawn to a fiery red-orange swatch. The paint color is called “stop”. I guess because that’s what you do when you see it. STOP! I like mostly neutrals in our house but I thought it would be fun to have a shot of color on the stool. Also, I seem to be on a red-orange kick lately. The paint guy said since it was in the red family I was to use a primer first. I didn’t. I’m such a rebel. I brushed on two thin coats in a semigloss finish and the coverage was great so I left it at that.
Ikea advises against painting the steps due to the risk of slipping. And since safer was my goal in the first place, I decided to stain the steps with one coat of Minwax special walnut. We had some leftover from previous projects so all I had to do was walk out in the garage and search for a half an hour through our own private paint department. Oh, wait!, first I used a coat of wood conditioner…then I stained. I always use a wood conditioner before staining. Okay, so that was one coat of wood conditioner then one coat of special walnut. I decided not to seal the steps because I like the raw, matte wood and I kinda love the idea of it getting beat up and taking on a patina over time.
Isn’t it spicy against the black cabinets?! HOT. With hints of orange and coral, it’s such a great modern red. I’m so happy I only did one coat of stain on the steps and left them unsealed. I love me some rustic-modern juxtaposition.
Now the lil’ man can wash his hands, no problem. Everett was so excited when I told him the stool was for him.
But there was a *slight* ulterior motive for this stool. I have a hard time reaching a cabinet above our microwave. I usually end up hoisting myself onto the counter or dragging over an extra tall stool from the island. No more.
When the stool isn’t in use, I’ve been stashing it next to the fridge. (Mabrey is all about climbing up and messing with the papers and magnets. One problem solved, another created.) Eventually, it will go live where the high chair is now in my workspace.
I am a little worried about the paint marking up the cabinets but I talked to Everett about it and so far he’s been really careful not to bump the stool against the cabinets. Like I said, he LOVES the fact that this is his stool and he’s taking it very seriously. Ha! I’m hoping the high quality paint won’t be prone to leaving marks. I also made sure to let the paint cure thoroughly before bringing the stool into the kitchen. So far, so good.
Isn’t it just the hottest lil’ thing? All of a sudden I’m craving a margarita and chips & salsa. Any takers?
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
That’s a little before-and-after action of our living room. So, so, so many things have happened in between those two pictures. (Like, two years, kiddo #3, lots of hard work and not a lot of sleep.) I don’t consider the room “finished” but we’re awfully close. One of our biggest undertakings in this space was vaulting the ceiling and it’s something I want to share in more detail now that we’re living on the other (cleaner, less stressful) side of it.
If you have been following along, you already know we removed the walls separating the original kitchen, dining and living rooms. When the walls came down, part of the plaster ceiling came down, too, and it gave us an idea – a wonderful, awful idea. Why not rip out the 8′ ceiling in the future kitchen-living space and vault it? We knew it would be a major renovation but we also knew it would totally make the space.
Steve did a bunch of research online (he found finehomebuilding.com especially helpful) and in person with several contractors and a professional engineer at a local lumber yard. We went back and forth between the options of installing collar ties or a structural ridge beam. In the end, we were advised to install a structural ridge beam. (You can read more about these events as they occurred in real time here and here.)
We hired a contractor as this project was way beyond our DIY skill set. Our contractor worked closely with an engineer at a local lumber yard to create an LVL (laminated veneer lumber) beam specific to our roof pitch, room dimensions and length of span. Like I said, waaaayyyy-haaay-haaay beyond our skill set.
An LVL beam is constructed of multiple layers of thin wood held together by adhesive. This allows for a smaller yet stronger structural support when compared to a solid wood beam. The compact size allowed us to run electrical along the beam (for track lighting + two ceiling fans) and box it in without taking up too much space at the peak. The LVL beam was manufactured off site, signed off on by a professional engineer and installed by our contractor.
These photos were taken after the structural ridge beam was installed. The fireplace wall is a block wall. A support was installed for the beam to rest on the block wall.
At the other end of the beam is an interior wall – no block wall. To support the beam properly, the slab on either side of the doorway shown above was jackhammered and dug out. Footers were poured and the corner studs were replaced with glued and nailed 2 x 4 posts. The header above the doorway was beefed up as well to support the structural ridge beam. On a side note, the boys look so little!
With the ridge beam installed, we were finally able to envision how the space might look someday. It felt so much bigger yet we hadn’t touched the house’s original footprint.
How much did all of this cost? To have the LVL beam manufactured and installed, we shelled out $5,600. That was with us demo’ing the walls, the drop ceiling and most of the rafters. That price does not include insulation or drywall around the beam or affected walls. It does not include the cost of installing tongue and groove on the vaulted ceiling either. (You can read about that DIY project here and here.) That’s no drop in the bucket, for sure. But we bought the worst house on the street for well below $100,000 so it was within our budget and the result was a game-changer.
And a slew more because the boys were behaving and Mabrey took the longest. nap. ever…
…then my camera battery died which explains the somewhat grainy shots. Damn.
We bought a crappy house for not a lot of money and vaulted the ceilings to make it less crappy. We like it here. The end.
Pssst! – We made it to The Homies finals! Whaaaaat?!
Click here to find out who won the epic Barcelona chair giveaway.
images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking
Many things made me smile this week. Here are a few…
*My sister-in-law gifted me a subscription to Atomic Ranch for my birthday and the first issue arrived. It happens to be the 10th anniversary issue and features one of the best split-level remodels I’ve seen. It doesn’t even look like the same house!
*Easy and inexpensive DIY “brass” and wood shelves.
*The Gap by Ira Glass. (Thanks for the link, Meg!)
*We’re starting on the kid / guest bathroom! (Again.)
*Steve and I usually skip right over Valentine’s Day but this year he surprised me with this photography idea book.
*One renter’s temporary solution for an ugly granite fireplace surround? Adhesive black paper!
*I finally finished The Thurber Carnival. It was so funny! I was happy to learn that the Thurber house is still a part of the Ohio community and is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places.
*Insanity!! House*Tweaking is nominated in two categories (Best Home Project & DIY Blog + Best Home Design & Inspiration) for The Homies Awards over on Apartment Therapy. Honestly, just seeing House*Tweaking listed alongside my favorite blogs is reward enough but if you wanna help bump H*T up the list with a quick vote, that’s cool, too.
I hope you do something
scary fun that makes you smile this weekend.
image: Dana Miller
Some of you asked about the quote I have displayed in my workspace. The short answer: I just typed it up in polyvore and printed it out. The long answer: keep reading.
I didn’t make any resolutions for 2014. Instead, I coined myself a new motto for the year.
Scary is the new fun.
I don’t mean scary as in Freddy Krueger scary or fighting cancer scary or losing a loved one scary or playing with birds scary. (I have an irrational but very real fear of birds. Acknowledgement is the first step.) Nothing dangerous or life-threatening. I’m talking about scary as in out-of-your-comfort-zone scary.
Far too often I choose not to do something simply because I haven’t done it before. Because I’m afraid I’ll be really bad at it. Because I’m afraid others won’t like it. (Or worse, won’t like me.) Because I’m afraid I won’t like it. Because it kinda sounds like a lot of work. Because doing what I’m familiar with and used to is easier.
But lately I feel like that fear is holding me back from potentially experiencing something I will like. Or possibly even love. So what if it takes me doing 100 things to find one thing that is rewarding and fulfilling? So what. I can put 100 things on my “dislike” list then. NBD.
I don’t know what it is about turning 35 but ever since I did (in November) I wanna stop being a wimp. I feel like I’m finally comfortable with all things me (my style, my body, my passions, my parenting, my sense of humor, my beliefs, etc.) and I owe it to myself to get out there and just be me. Fear aside. Can any 35+ peeps relate?
So what exactly is scary to me? (Besides birds.)
Going to Alt for the first time was scary. But I survived and made new friends. Posting more pictures of myself on this here blog is scary. But I’m doing it. Because, personally, I like seeing the faces behind blogs. Monetizing a blog is scary. I need to make money but I want to stay true to myself and my readers and I don’t want to come across as a sell-out. Coding is scary. I do a lot of copying and pasting and pretending. Showing all the parts of my house that still need TLC is scary. We have lived here for a while now. Shouldn’t we be about done? Responding or not responding to negative comments is scary. Ahhh, what to do?! Sharing non-home-related posts about, oh I don’t know, MY FEARS, my hair, my clothes, my experiences as a mom, my beauty routine is scary. None of that really falls under tweaking a house but maybe someone would find it inspiring? Asking homeowners in real life if I can feature their home for a tour on H*T is scary. What if they think I’m a crazy lady and flat out say no?
And then there are the fears outside of blogging. Meeting new people is scary. I write good, talk bad. Traveling to a new place is scary. But I always end up seeing or learning something new. Being a parent is scary. But my kids seem to be okay. Wearing a bikini is scary. But I refuse to wear a mom suit. Finding the beginnings of a Stacy London gray streak in my hair is scary. But I really don’t want to start dyeing my hair. Realizing I haven’t showered for 3+ days is scary. But it has happened. Not using my college degree is scary. Selling a house is scary. Buying a house is scary. Renovating said house is even scarier. Admitting my shortcomings is scary. Thinking about the future is scary. Trying out new ideas is scary. Standing up for myself is scary. Standing up for others is scary. I won’t even mention public speaking. Grocery shopping with three kids is terrifying. Just ask the guy behind me at checkout who overheard my five-year-old loudly whisper, “Look, Mom! That guy is buying junk! He is making bad choices!”
I think you get it. We all do. We all have something we aren’t doing because we’re afraid it might not work out the way we want it to. We’re afraid of failure, humility, judgment. For one person, it might be exercising or making a lifestyle change. For another, it might be painting a room. For yet another, it might be learning a new trade. It could be anything.
But what if we look at those things in a different way? What if we think of them as fun? I mean, we are getting to experience something new. Isn’t that what life is all about? Experiences? What if we don’t worry about the outcome and instead focus on the fact that we are doing something we’ve never done before? We are living.
SCARY is the new FUN.
Try it. You might like it.
image: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking