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05.24.13 / Five Things

Normally I share ideas, furniture pieces, home accessories, projects, etc. that HH and I love. Today I thought I would do the opposite and share five things around the house that we’re not too crazy about. Our house is far from perfect {um, still LOTS to do} and I really don’t want you guys thinking otherwise. Plus, maybe knowing the truth about our unfavorites might help you make a decision for your own home. So, here goes…five things we’re not in love with starting with the things that bother us least and ending with those that are most bothersome, the pros and cons of each and what we plan to do about them. {Keep in mind these are things we’ve bought or done already…there are plenty of other incomplete projects/rooms that we aren’t especially in love with right now but maybe someday?!}

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First up, is our shower curtain rod. It’s a basic tension rod that HH picked up out of necessity right before we moved in last year. Since then, it has come crashing down probably 10 times – and always at the most inopportune times. Like when someone is taking a shower or when everyone is sleeping soundly in the middle of the night.

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In the rod’s defense, it doesn’t help that we butt it up against slick, textured tile. The pros? It was cheap and when it stays put it’s great. The cons? It loses tension over time and slides off the bumpy tile. We’ve considered replacing it with a ceiling track when we finally get fed up with it but, for now, it’s something we’re living with because it’s not a big deal. Just inconvenient at times.

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Next up on our “not over the moon about it” list is the kitchen faucet. While good reviews are posted on Overstock, I have a few issues with ours.

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The included soap dispenser is awful. It must be rusted inside because when we pump soap out of it, it’s brown and smells like metal. Yuck! We’ve stopped using it all together. That’s why you see a bottle of hand soap next to it.

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The online product features claim a “two function spray” but that’s not true. The extendable faucet only has one option: power stream. No spraying action. Not having a true sprayer is not the end of the world but it would be nice.

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My third complaint is that the pull-out sprayer doesn’t retract all the way back to the faucet on its own.

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I have to give it a little push to get it back in position. Again, it’s not a huge deal but it is something that irks me.

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The pros? The faucet is solid stainless and has a good weight to it. It’s very high quality. The kitchen faucet in our previous house was chrome and plastic and I can definitely tell a difference. The single lever works great. We love the minimal look of the faucet. We haven’t had any problems with the faucet leaking, dripping or clogging. The cons? Pricey, no spraying action, the soap dispenser is rusted and unusable and the pull-out feature doesn’t retract all the way back to the faucet without a little help. I think we’ll probably remove the soap dispenser, plug the countertop hole and get a soap caddy of some sort to sit on top of the hole for bottled soap. The faucet stays. The negatives aren’t really that bad to warrant replacement and, for the most part, we really do like the way it functions/looks. For the price, though, we were expecting perfection.

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Then there are the magnetic spice containers that I previously praised. Well, they worked great for about two months then things got a little hairy. {Several readers warned me these babies were too good to be true. They were right!} The containers that hold grainy or fine ingredients {salt, cinnamon, cumin, etc.} have become extremely difficult/impossible to open. So frustrating! The ones holding dried herbs {rosemary, oregano, red pepper flakes, etc.} are fine.

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The finer spices are getting caught in the canisters’ thread and causing the lids to stick. The pros? They were cheap and work fine for dried herbs. The cons? Now we have a bunch of spices we can’t get to. I need to find a better way to store the spices. Ideas?

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Now we’re getting to the things that are our most unfavorite. These ceiling fans are one two of them. We installed them on the ridge beam in the great room to circulate air. That, they do. But with an accompanying whirring sound. They are LOUD. We only run them as a last resort and have to turn them off to hear the TV. In their defense, technically they are commercial ceiling fans. In a busy restaurant or noisy warehouse, you probably wouldn’t notice the whirring over all the hustle and bustle.

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It’s difficult to see from a distance but there is a gap between the ceiling canopies and the ridge beam. We haven’t been able to fix this. I think I remember HH mentioning something about the type of hardware the fans need to hang from. We tried mounting ceiling medallions to cover the holes but the gaps are too big/the medallions were too thin.

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The pros? We do like the way they look. They are simple, industrial. We left the white protective tape on the gold ring around the motor for a more cohesive look. They do their job well. On extremely hot or extremely cold days, we can tell a difference temperature-wise when we run them. The cons? THAT NOISE. Ugh. The gaps too. HH dislikes them more than I do. I’m okay living with them for several years. HH wants to replace them ASAP. We’ll see.

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Finally, the thing that has caused us the most problems is the inability of Behr to successfully color-match Benjamin Moore paint colors. Originally, we chose Benjamin Moore paint colors and had them color-matched in Behr paint at Home Depot. It worked okay for some colors but not so great for others. Lesson learned.

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The pros? None really. The cons? We ended up with colors we didn’t truly love and have spent more money and time making it right. I’ve repainted several rooms – some twice! To be honest, I no longer have a lot of confidence in color-matching between paint brands. From now on, when I find a paint swatch I like I will get it mixed in that brand so I know I’m getting what I want. I repainted Mabrey’s room {seen above} in a dark moody blue/green/pewter. It’s Benjamin Moore Dark Pewter, mixed in Benjamin Moore paint. We love it.

Those are five things that have us not singing their praises. Is there anything in your home that hasn’t lived up to your expectations?

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking 

What did we do on New Year’s Day to celebrate a fresh start? Why, slap some fresh paint on the Underdog of course. After sampling several different paint colors on foam board and moving them around the house for a few days, I decided on a color scheme…with Handy Hubby’s approval.

  • BM Tapestry Beige – great room {family room & kitchen}, hallway to bedrooms, master bedroom, master bathroom
  • BM White Dove – trim, ceilings {including the great room}, interior doors
  • SW Contented – boys’ bedroom
  • BM Camouflage – mudroom/dining room, laundry nook, nursery

{Word is still out on the kid/guest bathroom…either Tapestry Beige or White Dove. I’m waiting until the claw foot tub is painted to decide.}

The collage comes across as pretty ‘blah’ but the colors are light and airy with gray undertones in real life. In fact, now that I’m looking at the collage none of the colors look true to life. Still, hopefully, you get the idea and at least have a reference for what’s to come. When choosing paint colors, it’s easy to want to pick a different color for each room but I’ve found that makes me feel like I’m living in a schizophrenic home. Homes – especially smaller ones like our Underdog – flow better and feel better to me when there are slight variations of color throughout. I know how difficult it can be to limit your palette when there are so many great colors to choose from but, for me, it works.

We’ve tried many different brands of paint in the past and decided to have all paint colors matched at Home Depot with Behr’s low VOC primer and paint in one. Since the majority of the interior walls/ceilings are new absorbent drywall, we thought going with the primer and paint in one would help cut down on the number of coats we’d need.

As I mentioned weeks ago, HH was away on business for three straight weeks leading up to the holidays. Things were slow going. Luckily, HH has had the past two weeks off from work and has spent every single day {minus Christmas…the boys were so excited their Dada didn’t have to work on the house Christmas Day…they kept asking ‘Do you have to go work on the new house?’} prepping, priming and painting. First up was the great room ceiling. If you’ll remember it was pine tongue and groove and we decided to paint it {which went against a lot of friends’ and family members’ opinions}. We liked the raw pine but felt it wouldn’t have looked right once medium-dark hardwood floors, black and white cabinetry and other finishes were installed. Over the years, HH and I have realized that going against popular opinion is sometimes necessary {albeit a tad disconcerting} when it comes to making a house really feel like our home.

So once that was decided, HH did a bunch of research on priming/painting raw pine. Turns out those natural knots can cause bleeding problems down the road if not sealed and primed correctly. HH ended up using Zinsser B-I-N Shellac-Base Primer. HH brushed a single coat of the shellac primer into the grooves and knots of the pine then rolled it onto the flatter surfaces. {The primer dried waaaay too fast for HH to spray it on using his new paint sprayer.} He wore a respirator while applying it.

HH applied one coat of BM White Dove in a satin finish to the primed tongue and groove ceiling, two coats of BM Tapestry Beige in an eggshell finish to the great room’s walls and one coat of BM White Dove in a flat finish to all other ceilings using the paint sprayer. He wore a respirator and painter’s suit while using the paint sprayer. Of course, this small paragraph totally undermines the amount of time that all this took. For instance, it took HH one whole day just to prep the areas to be sprayed…wipe down, tape off, move drop cloths around, etc. Painting is the easy part. It’s the prepping and clean up that take for.ev.er.

This is what the great room looks like now…

{I finally scraped off the homemade soot-removing recipe of baking powder + dish soap from the mantel. It still needs more drying time and probably more rinsing but I think it worked well enough for what we’ll need. And HH and I agreed that even if it doesn’t clean up spotlessly, we sort of like a taste of the used look…imperfect perfection. We’ve decided to leave the mantel unpainted and in its original condition because we like the contrast. Should we tire of it later, we can always paint it.}

The great room gets so much natural light during daylight hours that it’s sometimes difficult to tell the difference between the white ceiling and ivory-gray walls. {In photos, it reads all white.} I was a little nervous about going all white in the great room because we have kids but most of my inspiration photos are white-on-white rooms. So, I compromised and decided to go with the ivory-gray Tapestry Beige. It’s not pure white but it’s still very much light and airy. If you’re not diggin’ the light envelope of the room, please don’t write it off just yet. Remember we still have medium-dark hardwood flooring and black and white kitchen cabinets to add to the mix…along with many other contrasting furnishings.

Here’s a better image of the contrast between the ceiling and walls…

At night under artificial light, the walls have a warmer feel. The white ceiling is my favorite. I know it’s not for everyone but I love it. I can’t stop looking up when I’m in the room. Layne described it best. He said it looks like a cottage. While the white paint gives the tongue and groove a fresh look, there are all these little nooks and crannies that run throughout the ceiling that give it more of that imperfect perfection we like.

HH and I discussed what color to paint the ridge beam. We decided on white {BM White Dove} but HH forgot during his painting escapades and painted it the same color as the walls {BM Tapestry Beige}. I would have preferred it white but I don’t detest the mess-up and HH was not repainting, so it’s staying as is. No biggie.

Can’t wait to install some modern ceiling fans and track lighting along the beam!

HH and I tackled the trim last week {we still have some to add after the flooring install} and HH knocked out the hallway. The walls are requiring two coats of the primer and paint in one.

Painting a house with no flooring is pretty sweet. We don’t have to put down drop cloths or worry about little drips on the floor here and there. We removed all the interior doors prior to painting the trim and walls. You may have noticed them leaning against a wall in the great room above. The plan is to paint the doors the same as the trim. Nope, we’re not getting new doors.

Here’s an image of what BM Tapestry Beige looks like under artificial lighting…in this case, under shop lights…

That’s the view from the master bedroom looking into the hallway. Today HH and I knocked out the master bedroom and bathroom – figuratively speaking – and various closets. The ivory-gray looks much different in the north facing bedroom versus the bright great room which we knew it would.

It feels cozier. It’s amazing what paint can do for old, dingy walls. I did feel a wee bit sad painting over one particular wall…

I know it looks awful but this wall had been stained over the years with the previous homeowner’s various art paints. {The previous owner was an artist. We bought two of her paintings at the estate sale to keep with the house.} From what we can tell, the owner/painter used this bedroom as her studio. There was no bed in this room…just stacks and stacks of original canvas paintings.

{No maternity painting clothes here! The bump cannot be contained.}

My pregnancy emotions got the best of me when I rolled this wall and all I could think was that I was getting rid of a part of the woman’s life…a woman who is now deceased. For someone who enjoys all things design, this wall told a great story and I covered it up. But, let’s be honest, it had to be repainted.

Where were the boys while all of this was going on? If you scroll up to the first pic of the painted great room, you’ll seem them hanging out in the bottom right corner. I set them up with blankets, snacks and a movie on the Mac.

Well, movies plural, I guess. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was Layne’s choice and Spiderman was Everett’s. That should give you a good idea of how different our two boys are. After weeks of racing around for various Christmas parties {we had five Christmases over a span of three days, yikes!}, they were happy to chill out in front of the computer for an afternoon…with old clothes on in case they decided to brush up against any freshly painted walls…which did happen with Everett.

The boys and I took off around 6:00 p.m. to head back to the apartment for dinner and baths. HH stayed behind to finish up one coat on the boys’ bedroom. I saw one wall complete before I left and loved it. That means only the mudroom/dining room and nursery remain unpainted. We’re getting there!

And after paint comes flooring. I think that’s going to be one of the biggest improvements we make.

FYI – I was not compensated in any way to mention the products we used above. I just love sharing good stuff!

images: all Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

Just popping in to share an Underdog update…and to take a much needed break from packing and moving…

After moving a load of stuff to the apartment this past weekend, we stopped by the Underdog to take a peek at the work going on to once and for all vault the ceilings.

The custom engineered wood ridge beam had been installed to provide structural support for the roof.  I could finally really feel what our open kitchen/living space is going to look like.

Removing a few walls and opening up the original 8′ ceilings makes the entire space look and feel so much bigger.  And we haven’t changed the footprint of the house at all.

It’s a little lodge-esque right now with all the wood showing.  At one point, I was worried that the living room mantel was overpowering the space because it’s so massive, but opening up vertical space above it has helped to tame it don’t you think?

That’s the view looking in from the dining room/mudroom for a different perspective.  While Handy Hubby and I knew that vaulting the ceiling would help to make our new space feel airier, we’re both a little shocked at the overall effect when we stand in the great room.  It’s like a totally different space!

Things are looking up.

images:  Dana Miller for House*Tweaking