Friday, September 28, 2012

If I could have my way...

Photos found from Pottery Barn, BHG, and various DIY blogs

This is what I would absolutely love a master suite to look like in my house - preferably in my attic. Since my diagnosis of fibro, I've been learning what makes me feel better and what makes the pain worse. As of right now, I've noticed that moist heat (ie, very long, hot baths) are the absolute best thing ever, and walking up and down stairs is a bad plan. 

Unfortunately, the only places we have room to put a large tub for me to take said very long, hot baths, involve going up or down stairs. However, if the attic is turned into a master suite (which we've discussed on numerous occasions and were told by multiple people that it would be a great investment for our house) I could take a bath and then just go to bed. 

The idea I'm getting for a potential master suite invovles more of the same type of decorating theme I'm attempting to take through the rest of the house - neutral colors with a lot of texture. Of course adding some blue and green here and there is good too as they are our favorite colors. 

The bed from Pottery Barn is probably my favorite thing in the above photo. There isn't one thing about that bed I'd change. It would cost a pretty penny for that whole bedding ensemble straight from PB, but I'm hoping I can find some reasonably-priced look-alikes down the road. I also really love the idea of sconces wired into the wall. We may or may not be able to do that considering we will probably have to install built-ins or have wardrobes in order to hang up clothes that need to be hung.

The moravian star pendant also just makes me full of squee. I'm not certain what it is about it that I love so much, they're just gorgeous. I don't need a reason to love something do I? 

Luckily there are a few items on the board that Garry and I can make ourselves. The curtains are easy enough to whip up in a day, and the dressers are a project that I've been looking to tackle for a while. I think the blue with the dark brown top and mercury glass knobs is gorgeous and just the neutral and rustic palate that I'm looking for while still adding some color. Maybe I'd distress the dresser a wee bit, but not a whole lot. 

The double sink is definitely something we really want. We are planning on building something similar to this on our own and then making the sinks. You read that right - making them. Still not sure how that's going to happen, but I'm fairly certain we'll end up making the vessel sinks, which will be... interesting. 

The fisherman's pendant would be great in the bathroom too. 

The clawfoot tub is the thing of dreams. I just love them. Since our attic has sloped walls (and just enough space for a tub like this) we won't actually have a shower upstairs. Luckily, you can get sprayer attachments for the tub and it's like a shower, except you're sitting down, which is much easier on my knees. Plus, we have a shower downstairs. The tub will be used mostly for me to soak in though. 

The more I think about it, the inspiration I'm drawing from is very New England coast with a little bit of eastern influence. Somehow I think both of those go well together.  

We're still very very far from having anything close to this. On the agenda is calling our plumber and finding out what the limitations are and the best way to install a large tub like that, what the process will be, and get an estimate for their work. Once we have that accomplished we can work towards where we need to be to have them come in. 

What we will probably have to do between getting the okay to install a bathroom in the attic is get the framing for the actual bathroom complete, run the necessary electric, and drywall and paint (most) of the bathroom. It will definitely not be a cheap project (we're talking quite a bit of money here folks), but I think the benefits of it will definitely outweigh the actual cost. Oh, and then we'd still have the rest of the bedroom to do, like drywall, replace the windows, install carpet... yeah, it's going to take a while I'm sure. 

Not to mention we'll be able to turn our current bedroom into a nice-sized guest room and our current guest room can stay an office. With the sunroom coming off the office - it would be a really great place to take a break from working and enjoy lunch or a cup of coffee. 

Just the thought of it makes me wish I could work from home!

But, in the meantime, (as I'm sure this project will take a year or two) we're going to work toward making our current bedroom as relaxing as possible, and maybe take some of the ideas above and incorporate them into something that's not so far into the future. 

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Bathroom planning phase

Well, it looks like we're going to have a slight change in plans. 

My doctor diagnosed me with fibromyalgia, I still need to go to the rheumatologist and decide on what I need to do as far as therapy is concerned, but in the meantime I've been checking out alternative ways to handle the pain associated with this condition. 

I was lucky enough that my friend Eithne let me soak in her enormous claw foot tub. It was the first time in about a month I felt like I could actually move. 

Unfortunately, it only lasted for a little while and as much as I know she's willing to help me out, I certainly don't want to be knocking at her door every day to take a bath. (Although, I do admit that I daydream about  bathing in that tub, it's like heaven in there!) 

Garry and I have decided that somewhere in our house we're going to install a large tub, at least large enough for me to soak in. 

The question is - do we want to do this in the attic or in the basement? Installing a bathroom in the attic would be a lot easier (more than likely) because all of the plumbing is right underneath the area we would put everything. Not to mention it would add more value to the home because then it would become a master suite. 

On the other hand - we were planning on adding a half bath to the basement anyway. Would it be easier to just add a bathtub and just have 2 full baths or add it in the attic and 2.5 baths? 

I'd say that we'd also be infinitely closer to having a bathroom in the attic done than in the basement. Currently, we're running the electric to the attic and if we decide to add a bathroom, we can just run the appropriate electric outlets where they need to be. However, before doing that, we'd need to frame out the rest of the room. 

We would also need to know if we would need to add more support to the floor if we want a tub like that. That's going to require some contractors coming in, giving us estimates and that sort of deal. 

It would not be a small project - and it would definitely take all of next year to complete, considering we still have to do drywall, paint, flooring and lighting - adding a bathroom to that will definitely be expensive and time consuming. But, I think it would be a nice addition to the house, especially if Garry and I end up using that as our bedroom. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Projects on hold

Well, I guess a few good things have come from my trip to the doctor. One, I was able to get blood work done and not faint - or even get light-headed. That is definitely the first time ever in my life that's happened. See, getting tattoos wasn't a bad idea afterall. It helped me get over my needle phobia!

While that was very exciting and wonderful, unfortunately - or really fortunately in this case - my doctor has done a lot of work with arthritis and joint conditions so he knows his stuff. That's a good thing. However, he decided that I have fibromyalgia based on all of my crazy (seemingly unrelated to non-medical folks like me) symptoms that have been bothering me for some time.

On the bright side, it means that I know what's going on, I didn't get "blown off" (or told to take Mucinex) and once my blood work gets back (they're testing me for RA since it runs in my family) they are referring me to a rheumatologist and I can start to manage this. My doctor did give me a prescription that will *hopefully* help, but it takes 3-4 weeks before you notice it's working. Awesome.

So that means 3-4 more weeks of putting my projects on hold. Harumph! I was really hoping to start on my dressers in the next week or two.

In the meantime, more daydreaming... and possibly trying to figure out how to put a large tub in our house as soon as possible.

Tattoos and other random things

Today Garry and I got our tattoos finished, well, his will be finished, mine on the other hand...

It's one of those odd things, you wouldn't think it by either looking at me, or even folks who know me really really well, but I love tattoos. I especially love them when they're grouped together to create a story or to evoke an emotion. A lot of folks don't see tattoos as being "art," but they really are, they are an expression of ourselves - we're just using skin instead of canvas.

For a long time I've always thought it would be cool to have a sleeve tattoo for that very reason. To have pieces of artwork combined together to create a very special and personal story. I'm sure the vast majority of my family will not be pleased and I'm sure I'll hear more than once "What are you going to do when you're older?" Well, that's not something I'm terribly worried about because when I'm old, I think I'll be done giving a crap about what people think about me.

So I started this process with an admittedly complicated design. Of course, if it involves me it's going to be more complicated than it needs to be.

I didn't come up with the design on my own. Actually, I found it on the interwebs (like most everything else I find) and I absolutely loved the piece so much that I altered it a wee-bit in photoshop and went from there.

The tattoo I have is just the black linework of the above piece. Originally I was going to have it colored in, but the more I looked at it the more I liked it as just linework - and I can always go and get it colored in later on.

The price I paid the tattoo artist for this piece included color and since I ended up not getting color we're going to add some more linework instead.

Maybe I should explain the lotus tattoo a little bit...

The symbol I've worked with for the last five years or so is the white lotus (or lily). This flower is sacred to Hera, the goddess I do the vast majority of my work through. This design incorporated a lot of different energy that I really liked and found was appropriate with the work that I do. Getting into that would take a while to do, so I'll just leave it at that.

Moving on...

The piece above the original lotus design is called a hamsa. For the most part, the hamsa in varying forms have been associated with many religions over the years. I did some research and found that it was called the Mano Pantea in ancient Egypt (or Hand of the All-Goddess) and in Greece it was the Hand of Aprhodite.

In reference to the work I do, particularly with Hera, and the reason I chose this style of hamsa is for the symbology within it. The thumb and pinky finger are shaped like bird heads which will eventually turn into two different birds (one a peacock and the other a phoenix) with their tails coming down the sides of my arm and wrapping around the backside (yeah, I know, it's going to hurt!) Other symbols include the eye, the lotus, the three pomegrantes, and the crescent moon.

The reason I chose the hamsa to begin with is because of the epithet of Hera that I am starting to resonate with. Hera Hyperkheiria is the protectress, "she whose hand is above." The hamsa is a sacred hand symbol and I found it fitting considering Hera's ties in religions cross-culturally with other "All-Goddess" figures.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Refinishing dressers

I have two very sturdy and solid antique dressers that my grandmother got when she got married 70 some odd years ago. The short dresser has always been "mine" since I was born and the tall dresser was my brother's. When he moved out and went to college and I moved home (when I was done with college) I "inherited" the tall dresser as well.

For years my brother had an aquarium on top of his dresser so the top was in pretty bad shape, otherwise the rest of the dresser just had the normal wear and tear you'd expect for being 70 years old.

When I moved out of my parent's house I decided that I wanted to paint my dressers. The finish was old and  stained from years of Aqua Net, drinking glass rings, and just general wear and tear. So I painted the dresser a dark brown and replaced the hardware with some simple, nickle-plated handles. Nothing too fancy, but it was certainly an upgrade from the handles that were on the dresser.

That was... 7 years ago. I've moved several times since then and the paint has chipped and worn in a lot of places. It's definitely time to give them a little pick-me-up.

The dresser doesn't really look that big, but it does take up quite a bit of space in the room. The really nice part about these dressers is that they're solid wood with dovetail joints. Yeah, I lucked out bigtime. I didn't have to pay a DIME for these since they have been in my family for, well, forever.

Unfortunately, the mirror on the back of this dresser is in pretty bad shape. Because it's been screwed and unscrewed so many times, the holes are stripped and the mirror essentially has to lean against the wall. It would need a lot of love, the mirror needs to be resilvered and it's slipping from the frame (it has clips that hold it to a solid piece of wood cut to shape) and it's really only a matter of time before it just crashes to the floor.

Luckily, we have a mirror that the previous owner of the house just left behind. It's in perfect condition and all I really want to do with it is frame it and hang it on the wall. I think that's a good plan.

This is the "problem" dresser. The top veneer is splitting and my guess would be it needs to be replaced entirely. We had to putty the daylights out of it when I refinished it 7 years ago, and we haven't had a fishtank on top of it! You can see on the corners how the paint is starting to chip off.

I'm not really sure what I'm going to do with these dressers. I will keep the hardware (although they may get ORBed) and I'm definitely feeling a lighter color. The goal is to get both dressers completed by the end of October as it will be too cold to work on them in the garage.

First things first - I need to strip off the old paint and finish. This is probably going to be a "process" and I can really only do one dresser at a time (we have to put our clothes in something). I haven't decided if I'm going to paint the dressers or stain them - it will all depend on what it all looks like once I get the old finish off and make the repairs I need to make. I know Garry would much prefer that I stain them (he has an issue with painted wood apparently), but if I remember correctly, these dressers were stained a darkish brown to begin with so I may not be able to stain them a lighter color and painting them will probably be the better option.

Just to give you an idea, I'm planning on repainting the bedroom grey. I have black nightstands that may-or-may-not stay black, and I'm planning on getting/making some new bed linens. I have a duvet cover that's a very light blue (that I'm itching to do some block printing on) and I have material to make a white/neutral quilt (which someday I should probably get on top of making). Since winter is coming up, I'm planning on some flannel sheets too.

Other projects that need to happen include installing bi-fold closet doors (and painting them bright white), making curtains (probably burlap or canvas), picking up a pair of lamps (I won't really know what I want until the room and furniture is painted) and eventually getting around to the artwork I want to create and new molding/trim. I'm also thinking of repainting the bed frame in ORB. Yeah, I'm weird like that.

This is going to take forever I feel...

That's what I'd like it to look like.

This is what it looks like now.

In order to do this project it will cost me:

  • $60 (ish) for supplies to strip and finish the dressers
  • $15 - paint for night stands
  • $15 - paint for bed frame
  • $50 - fabric and batting to finish quilt
  • $10 - paint for block printing existing duvet
  • $30 - fabric for curtains
  • $10 - paint for art project
  • $30 - new white flannel sheets
  • $120 - lamps
  • $70 - mirror 
  • $150 - star pendant
  • $140 - closet doors
  • $60 - wall paint
  • $150 - crown molding
That's nearly $1,000 folks. :-/ (granted most of that cost is involved in the pricey accessories) 

Once everything is painted I think it will look really nice and the rest of the stuff can take a little more time to trickle it's way in the room or I can find some lower cost versions too (sometimes Home Goods or TJ Maxx has really nice stuff), but alas, finding that Moravian star pendant for cheaper than $150 will be next to impossible I believe, and as far as crown molding goes, well, that's just a guess, I really have no idea how much it will cost until I measure everything and pick out what I want.

The issue I'm running into, other than cash of course, is that lately my joints have been really sore and painful. It's been keeping me up or waking me up at night and I have been getting little sleep. Right now, I have a ton of great ideas, but little ambition to get them done because, let's face it, if your knees and back hurt - the last thing you want to do is paint a room or strip paint off of some furniture. At least that's what I would imagine.

So next week I'll be going to the doctor to discuss what might be wrong, fork over $80 and hopefully this time they won't just tell me to take some Mucinex and hopefully figure out what is going on that is causing this level of consistant pain.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Downtime and daydreaming are dangerous things

Part of the problem with having "downtime" between projects is that it gives me a lot of time to think of much more complicated things for us to do with our house. It gives me the space to really obsess over something and, in turn, make it much more complicated  expensive than it needs to be.

That's how I roll apparently.

There are a few projects that we can do in the meantime (meaning, when we have time as Garry and I are both exhausted by the time we get home from work every day and lately my knees have been bothering me) like moving the wood pile into a more "condensed" spot so it can season for the winter and clear out that corner of the yard.

Right now that wood pile is just strewn across the back length of the fence. Boo. I'm hoping Garry can find it in his heart to start chopping the wood and stacking it so it will season. We do have some really enormous "chunks" of trunk that wouldn't be bad to use for outdoor seating around the fire pit. That would require de-barking them, bringing them in the garage, and sealing them. Not too expensive of a project, but definitely a time-consuming one.

The metal pole also needs to come down and scrapped and that area needs to be cleared of all the random stuff growing. There is also a small pile of brick behind our fence (still on our property) and what we have left over from knocking the ugly planters over that we're going to use for a small project as well. Luckily they're free projects (we have all of the equipment and items to do this), but it's just finding the time to do it before it gets too cold.

Our enormous wood plank is still hanging out in the rafters of the garage, just WAITING to be taken down, cleaned off and used as a shelf in my kitchen. Still need some brackets though. :-/ And... I should probably repaint the kitchen before we do that. *sigh*

Other than that, the rest of the projects we have on hand are going to take some cash and more than a little time. We still need to finish installing the electric in the attic. Once that's done we're going to have a drywall party and get the whole room (which let me tell you, is a LOT of drywall) walled in. Then we'll order some windows and install them and then, finally get around to painting (primer). Maybe that will be next year's project. Augh.

I'd really like to get started on the master bedroom too. It's just so... dark in there. This morning I woke up at 6:30 and it was DARK in the room. I was wrapped in a cocoon of blankets, all comfy and warm and all I could think was "damn, it's really dark in here this morning." When I went in the living room I realized it wasn't because it was still dark outside (I mean it was, the sun was just rising) but it was because the paint color is so dark. Hrm. This may need to be remedied sooner rather than later as we head into the winter months....

There's also the what the heck are we going to do with the sun room question. Just to give you an idea, in the just over a year we've lived in our house we've had access to the sunroom for... oh... 3 months. Otherwise, we've had people staying in our guest room (the sunroom is attached to the guest room) so we really haven't been able to use it the way we'd like to. To be honest, it's mostly been used for storage - which is really unfortunate, because it's a really nice room.

The question is, before we decide what to put in there, is what we're going to do in there. Eventually, that room will become a 3-season playroom for when we have a kid (that's old enough to use it as a playroom), so whatever we do, it can't be so much that whatever we put in that room isn't going to work elsewhere in the house (my guess is that the furnishings will end up in the basement or attic guestroom).

And of course, not having the cash on-hand to do it all right now is decidedly frustrating.