Just a little Friday night DIY project

We're in our house and construction is finished and I have so many images and stories to tell from the last 4 months. Major construction in finished and the port-o-potty is no longer in the driveway and all our things are out of storage, but there are loads of little details that are not finished. And if you know me, the details are my favorite part and I have at least 50 ideas a day of clever things I can do optimize and beautify our space.

For today, I picked the little project that stares at me 150 times a day.

I bought this IKEA lack TV table on Craigslist 3 weeks ago for $40 with the sole purpose of converting it into a homework/art table for the boys. But it's been sitting under the stairs, collecting trucks and backpacks and shoes and marbles and chess pieces.

So I had a few minutes and the boys were willing, so I got out a screwdriver, took apart the TV table, opened the box with the 4 hairpin legs I had ordered here on Amazon.

Then I gave them the tools...

And viola, 20 minutes later....

I kind of like them under the stairs, but there is no direct light and it's a little cramped for a grownup to sit so I moved it to the space I had initially imagined it for. It might get moved back or moved somewhere else...that tends to happen in our house, but for now, feeling pretty proud of myself.


Breaking your house

Nobody tells you how bad it feels when you start to break your brand new house.

The first scratch on the floor, the first scuff on the wall, the first marker down the hallway, the first red wine on the carpet.

Nobody tells you that it starts to happen the minute you move back in.

When our house was old and weird and full wacky walls with weird textures, I didn't care what happened to them - I knew they were coming down and changing. So I let life happen and I didn't scold or overreact or shout when a crayon "accidentally" drew on the cabinet door or a Matchbox car "crashed" into the baseboard. With 2 little boys and a husband, it was a blissful state to be in.

But that changed as soon as the walls were white and new and perfect.

Now I care, but I don't want to care. I don't want to cringe when hands smudged with Nutella prance along the hallway on their way to get washed. I don't want to tense when the remote control vehicle comes to a full stop because it hit the baseboard. I don't want to nag for the 100th time to let go of the cable railings. But I care because I know how much effort the choice, the purchase and the installation of each one of those things was. And I remember the price-tag. And I love the way it looks and I just want to enjoy the newness and the transformation for as long as I can.

But we are meant to live in houses, not observe them or watch them from a distance. And no one teaches me that more than the 3 men in my life who live in the house fully - with joy and laughter and smudged Nutella fingers.


Barns doors

Yes, barn doors are everywhere. You can't open a home design magazine without seeing them and you certainly can't browse Pinterest without seeing them either. In fact, I spent many an hour searching and pinning and deciding on what kind of barn door would work in our house. You can see all my "research" here.

With all the white and simple details we had chosen for the rest of the house, I wanted something a bit more rustic and imperfect so I had initially talked to our contractor about building a door for us. But we needed a huge door (   to be exact) and then we needed two of them, because during the re-design of Phase 2, we suddenly ended up with an entry closet that needed some kind of door.

So we needed 2     doors that could be barn doors. Plus we needed the hardware. So, I started to search for DIY Barn Doors. And after all kinds of blog posts about true DIY doors, I landed at a website for a company called Artisan Hardware. I immediately loved their door designs and the hardware packages seemed within our budget. When I discussed with our contractor that I could get the door and the hardware for about $900 per door, he smiled and said, "Just order it."

I had my door design and I had the hardware that I wanted but I had no idea if I should order it painted or stained. The problem was that I was ordering this door before we had our new floors picked out and it makes no sense to have a door stained or even painted if you don't know what color wood the floors would be. I could sense that I was going at this all backwards and I should have found the patience to wait until we had a floor design but we needed to keep on with all the decisions and this was one that felt very exciting. And, the had a long wait time....so I had to order these doors!

So, I ordered them untreated and figured I could stain them myself. How hard could it be?

I ordered the Horizontal Panel Interior Door and Classic Top Mount Barn Door Hardware.

The hardware arrived first - in the raw silvery finish which I chose to coordinate with the stainless steel and gray finishes throughout the rest of the house. I was so excited. I eagerly waited for the pictures from production of our completed door. A few weeks went by (as expected) and when I finally got a picture of the door, I realized a big mistake: this design of door has a metal case around the back that wraps around the outer edge of the door. This metal casing keeps the door together. This metal casing in black. But I had ordered raw silver hardware. It wasn't going to match.

I spent a day thinking about it and realized that at this point in the game, I couldn't settle for just ok, as I would be seeing this mismatched metal hundreds of times a day. I called customer service and we came up with a solution that worked for both of us as the image on the website does not clearly show the metal edging on the door. I felt good about ordering the right color and figured I could use the raw finish hardware on another project. All that was left was to wait for the doors.

I don't remember the exact day they arrived, but it went something like this:
At 3:45pm, an out of breath UPS driver knocked on our temporary front door. "I have a delivery for you but my truck is too big to come to your house. So it's double parked in front on city hall down the street. You'll need to come unload it there." Oh, ok, "I'll be right there." Then he laughed and said, "Oh you can't do it alone. It's huge and it's heavy and you need tools and crow bar." What the hell! I grabbed one of the guys who already on his way home at 4pm, we grabbed some gloves, some tools and the keys to our Sprinter van. I drove the van down the street, parked in the yellow across from city hall and laughed out loud when I saw the huge UPS freight truck parked in the red. The driver opened the back and inside one big

And presenting.....

Barn Door #1

Barn Door #2


Day 27: Baseboards are in!

Everything has it's place. This comes before that and that can only after this. I have learned a great deal about the order of things, what can be maneuvered around and what you let take it's course.

I pushed a little to get the baseboards done today. Glad I pushed.

Tomorrow they will get painted.


Day 26: Primed railings

For the last few days there have been guys hanging from ladders and railings trying to prep and prime an extremely complicated exterior trim. Another is sanding with an electric sander with one hand and holding onto the railing with the other. All the while, balancing across layers of deck boards that are just loosing based on the decks support beams.  But they are determined and careful and being as detailed as they possibly can.

And afterwards, I see stuff like this from our new front door.

This is all really exciting.



Day 22: Making decisions

I used to be really good at making decisions. I tended to not waiver. I trusted my instincts and I didn't need the opinions of others to find my way. But my decision making well has been taxed. It is empty and sluggish and teetering toward ambivalence and this is quite possibly the worst time for ambivalence because the decisions we make in the next 5-10 days are the decisions people see. That we will see, every day.

But it's the logical time. It's been almost 3 years of decision making regarding this house and the mental exhaustion of the process and the toll it takes is real. It's really really real. And it's right under the surface of the sparkling new white paint and farmhouse floors.

For us, at times we made decisions easily and quickly regarding this remodel. Like just today, about an hour ago - my husband learned that a new version of Nest thermostat exits. We haven't installed ours. We could still get latest version and sell the 3 we already purchased that we can't return. I asked "What's new in the new version?" He said he didn't know. So he put the kids to bed and then got on his phone and did some research. Turns out new version is narrower, wider and has a clock feature. I said these features don't seem worth it to me to for the trouble. He agreed. No new Nest. Decision made. Turn around time: 1 hour.

Other decisions have been painful and long and arduous. Money and emotions and needs all rolled into a ball. But in the moment and in the process, it takes hold of you. The harder decisions for me have been ones in which I didn't want to compromise. In which I believed my opinion to be the right one. Sometimes it was, sometimes it wasn't but we had to talk through all of them, all the time and sometimes the only solution was to say ok, whether I meant it or not.

It is those moments that have taken the most toll. They are part of marriage and life and house remodeling. But then, there are other moments, like today, when I let myself trust myself again and just go for it. So I bought the lamp for the living room.

Can you guess which one?


Day 21: Plastic divide comes down

We can really truly say that we are at the beginning of the end. The real end.