Saturday, August 31, 2013

Paint Colors, Part I

As I mentioned in the post about our washer and dryer, I picked up a couple of paint chips from Lowe's.

I'm not really a stickler for any one brand of paint, plus any brand can match any other brand's colors, so I basically made a lap around the paint area and pick up whatever colors I liked. That being said, whatever brand we end up going with, I am sure that I want low VOC paint. Considering my pets, my future babies, and, oh yeah, me and my husband will live in this environment, I want to make sure I'm picking the safest product available. I don't want to be kicking myself in a few years when we find out regular paint is the new lead paint.

Aspen Gray, Mountain Smoke, and Seine are the leaders for the living area. They're all greige with brown undertones. I really like English Tea Part and Hematite, but they both might be a bit too dark to do for so much space. And Motor City Blue is a grey-ed out navy blue, which I was leaning toward for the master bedroom, although, now I'm considering navy for the formal dining.

In the master bathroom, I know I want to do a light blueish-grey: the kind of grey you only get when morning sunlight tries to peak through a heavy fog. Kind of reminds me of all the bad weather we get in Boone that I so desperately miss. These colors were the first I picked out for the bathroom and hit the nail on the head, but once you notice the names, it really seals the deal.

Lastly, I plan on repainting all the trim. Before you tell me I'm crazy, I know. Something about the stark white against our slightly off-white cabinets makes the cabinet color look way too yellowy. Since I plan on painting the ceilings as well (I know, cuckoo), I think I'll paint everything in a warm white. Not as off-white as the cabinets, but just a warmer color so it meshes better. Here are the "whites" I picked out.

I really can't wait to get my hands on a paint brush; I've been living with white apartment walls waaaay too long. Eventually, I will have painted every surface in the house, but I'm only rushing into the rooms that we currently have furniture for. That way, once we decorate we won't be painting over colors we once loved but that don't jive with the decor choices we end up making.

As always, I'd love any input.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Appliances, Part I: Washer and Dyer

For the past couple of weeks, Pat and I have been scouring all our local stores and the internet looking for the best value on a refrigerator, washer, and dryer. Luckily we only need to buy those three because the others were included in the price of the house. Also, the sticker shock major appliances is similar to that of a house: you never quite get over how much everything costs.

We have been hoping to get a Labor Day deal ever since we commissioned the house back in February (although we originally thought Labor Day would be too late). Here we are more than six months later and we're negotiating with department stores over how long we can postpone delivery.

After finding a hell of a deal, we bought our washer and dryer last night at Lowe's. I never thought to even look at Lowe's because, frankly, they've always seemed over priced. It just so happens that as I was checking out paint samples (more on that later) I stumbled across the exact same set we were planning on buying from Sears, price matched from H.H. Gregg. And they were cheaper than both the other stores. Throw in free delivery/installation and the discount from our Lowe's card (yes, we opened one...) and it was too good of a deal to pass up.

We chose Samsung because they are the highest rated for low noise/vibration. Since we have a second floor laundry room, a loud washer/dryer set could be heard through the entire house and leave anyone who's home very irritated.

We did splurge and spend $400 extra to get the matching pedestals. Front-loaders without pedestals always seem too low for anyone, let alone someone with back problems, like me.

My plan for the laundry room is to do something like this...

...eventually. I plan to add cabinets (maybe with an open shelf for detergent) over the washer and dryer. I also plan to add a counter for folding space on the side, but instead of cabinets over the counter, I'll add a closet rod for hanging space. And since our washer/dryer are white, I'll have to think of a fun color to paint the cabinets.

I'll definitely be revisiting our appliance choices once we're in the house and have used them for a while, but for now I'll have to content myself knowing we made the best decision with all the available information. Then I remind myself, they can't be worse than what we're working with now.

Refrigerator coming soon.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

PB & J, 2.0

Here's a piece of hard-hitting journalism for you: I just made a PB & J, 2.0 and it was amazing.

The idea is simple, on each piece of bread you put three stripes. One piece gets jelly, honey, and marshmallow fluff; the other piece gets creamy peanut butter, Nutella, and crunchy peanut butter.

I take no credit for this idea as I saw it a while ago on Pinterest. I just wanted to share in case anybody hadn't heard about it or was to afraid to try it (like my husband, who thought jelly and Nutella sounded disgusting).

Overall, jelly and Nutella were my favorite stripes and their lovechild was my favorite square. Nutella and marshmallow fluff was a close second.

I'm not much of a honey fan in general so next time I will likely omit the honey stripe all together. Not that it wasn't good, but the others were sooo delish, I'd rather have more of them.

Happy PB & J-ing!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

House Update: Street Numbers & Doorknobs

This update is proof that my suspicions - we only have details left-- are true and our move-in date lurks imminently; somehow the most exciting thing at the house right now is the addition of our street numbers and our doorknobs, inside and out.

Sorry there's nothing exciting/glamorous/major to report on.

In other news, Pat and I have narrowed our search for appliances and should make a decision later this week following some exciting Consumer Reports reading (more riveting stuff, I know).

The other big thing that has to be done before we can close is select a homeowners' insurance policy which is surprisingly difficult to do on a new construction house; no one can give us a quote! I keep telling myself, millions of other people have figured this out, so can we.

Lastly, my father has started blogging. Those of you who know me personally know that my father is a writer and my mother was an editor which is the formula for being an obsessively critical child writer. The only thing that makes blog-writing possible is the rule-free narrative approach, which is the same thing that bugs my sweet husband to death. Every post, he comes back with, "this isn't textbook grammar," or, "that's not a complete sentence," and my fave, "that's not even a real word!"

Anywho ("that's not even a word!"), if you know my dad, wish you knew my dad (*cough* that's all of you), or just enjoy useless trivia and good ole-fashioned story telling, be sure to check him out at Lessons I Learned On High.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

House Update: Carpet, Faucets, and a Sink

The second most exciting thing to happen this week (just behind the Backstreet Boys) is some big changes at the house. Namely carpet, faucets, and a sink.

For our carpet, we selected the lowest grade or as we like to call it, "apartment carpet." We figure in a few years we will need to install new carpet anyway; by choosing the lower grade now we save money up front (when we're already spending so much). Also, we may be desperate for new, clean flooring in a couple of years...around the time a baby joins the family.

With the addition of carpet, our house has all its flooring installed. We also saw the faucets installed in all the bathrooms (not in the kitchen yet) and the pedestal sink in the half bath.

My dad would be quick to remind me that I hate pedestal sinks. It's true. They offer no storage and aren't particularly interesting to look at. My disdain for pedestal sinks goes back to when I was a preteen girl hitting a very awkward/embarassing stage of puberty; I was absolutely mortified that I didn't have a private place to store my "supplies" and ever since then I've sort of held a grudge. My ten year plan for this bathroom is to install a lovely furniture-style vanity a la Pottery Barn.

This morning we received an email saying the mirrors, shower door, and closet shelving will be installed very shortly.

In other good news, Duke Power will be running electricity to our house early next week. Hopefully this means we will soon find out when we can close since uncertainty around utilities being available is supposedly the reason for delay.

In order to install all utilities, our yard (and all our neighbors yards) have giant trenches in them.

This is the view from our back porch. The trench in the foreground is in our yard and the other trenches and garages belong to our neighbors.

Other than basic construction clean-up and landscaping, I'm really not sure what we'll be working on for the next month. Of course I'll keep y'all updated on anything exciting that happens between now and moving day.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Backstreet Boys Came to Town!

Well I've got two bits of exciting news to share, one house related and one most certainly not. For reasons unknown, I have decided to share the latter first.

If you're just here for house updates and have zero interest in having fun, feel free to come back tomorrow and find out the new, big thing that happened at our house. No judgement.

Awesome! Oh wow! Like totally freak me out, now turn me on. The Backstreet Boys are number one!

Props to those of you who caught the Bring It On reference.

As many girls my age once were, I am a Backstreet Boys fan.

The difference between those other girls and me is I am an unabashed and active fan, not a nostalgic or ironic fan. My favorite Backstreet music was released after 2005 (if you haven't heard Unbreakable or This Is Us, you don't know the Boys) and I have been to three concerts in the past 4 years. That means my first BSB show wasn't until 2009, nearly a decade after they "peaked."

Like those other girls, I was a fangirl back in the day. I bought Millenium and vehemently defended my love of Brian to those stupid 'NSYNC fans. And I might be the last person on earth to include the apostrophe before 'NSYNC.

What changed on that fateful night in October 2009 (yes, I was nostalgic and ironic back then) is that I realized the Boys had so much more to offer than silly dance moves. They offer more musical talent than most other musicians and it's not open for debate unless you've heard their later stuff.

The reason I have decided to share my unwavering support of this "boy band" is because this week was my third concert. Yay!

Unfortunately, I didn't get any good pictures because I was relying on a malfunctioning iPhone camera. The silver lining is I have pics from their NKOTBSB tour that I never shared (not even on Facebook) so we're going to pretend these weren't taken two years ago.

These pics aren't flawless, but they're pretty good coming from a phone. Android 1 - iPhone 0. Before you even ask, yes, NKOTB is in several of the shots, and no, Kevin wasn't on this tour (this was when he quit the band).

Full disclosure: after nearly 15 years as a die-hard Brian Littrell fan, I have officially switched to Nick Carter. I didn't see the appeal all those years ago, but he has this energy that radiates on stage. You don't know it if you haven't seen them live, but he started to win me over at my first show and now he can count be among his legions.

One of the reason's I looove BSB is they know exactly why they're on tour right now: we all want a trip down memory lane. I know when I go to see them live, I won't get my favorite new songs, but a mean rendition of Everybody and I Want It That Way. Because I get to watch them shake what they're mommas gave them, I'm okay with that.

It's their 20th anniversary and they had kind of a "you're old, we're old" mentality. It's like they created the whole show to please mom's desperate for a Girls' Night Out. They know their fans aren't 20 years old any more (except the girls getting loaded in the lawn seats); we've all grown up and it's okay that the concert was borderline R-rated. The overt sexuality was both shocking and so much fun; there was a lot of touching, more emphasis on dirty lyrics, and even a boner joke. No lie.

There was also plenty of dancing, just enough bedazzling, and the constant, slightly awkward feeling of knowing the median age on stage is 38. Yeah. Despite all these things that could be working against them, they overcome it and put on one of the most feel-good shows I've ever attended. You leave feeling elevated, happy, and like there's still a slight chance they're singing directly to you.

Okay, enough fangirl-ing it over here. The reason I bring all this up (other than being as excited as a teenage girl voting for TRL) is that I have to defend this band constantly.

They're not just a bunch of boy banders.

They sing a mean five part harmony.

They don't lip-sync (and if they do they need a better track); you could hear all the imperfections that come with performing a high energy show.

Even they know they have to prove themselves and those who are willing to watch, see them do it time and time again. I wish I had recorded this part of the show but my just phone wouldn't do it, so I found a snippet on YouTube so you detractors can begin to appreciate them un-ironically:

To make this beautiful, sad song a little more BSB-style fun, right before singing it AJ said "I'm sitting on a box... It's my d*** on a box!" Thanks for reminding us all how much fun you are and that Justin Timberlake isn't as classy as he'd have us believe.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

House Update: Lighting, Toilets, Floors, AC, Security, etc.

If my home visits were named like episodes of Friends, this one would be called The One Where I Almost Didn't Notice Anything Changed.

And Chandler would be all, "could she be any more oblivious?"

But seriously, it's a good thing we got something as obvious as toilets because otherwise, I might have missed it all.

When I first walk into the house, I noticed that the ground was covered in cardboard, but I didn't think anything of it. Why it didn't signal to me that things may have changed, I don't know, but it didn't.

Through the foyer. Alright nothing new there. In the dining room, the attic stairs still rest on the floor. Moving on. In the kitchen, the microwave is in, but I knew that from a late night visit too dark to take pictures.

And then in the pantry something clicked.

Excuse the pitiful iPhone photos, I forgot the real camera.
Maybe I should say a light bulb flicked on. "Well that's an odd place to install the first light fixture. I wonder if there are more." Suddenly, this is how the kitchen looks to me:

As I continue to retrace my steps, I see something new peaking out of the half bath:

 "Oh look a toilet." I'm ashamed to admit I noticed the plumbing on the wall for the future pedestal sink before I noticed that it wasn't concrete surrounding the toilet. Dumbo right here.

Side bar: our toilet has the stupidest, plastic flusher I've ever seen. Don't know why I find it so aggravating, but I do.

Once I got past the sink's plumbing and the stupid flusher, I decided to get a better look at this flooring.

These floors are installed 100% of the way through our lower level and are actually not wood or even laminate, but a vinyl plank. The first picture is a more accurate representation of the color, but I wanted y'all to see the wood detailing only visible with the sun shining on it.

Being super pet friendly was a high priority (yes, you may always bring your dog to our house, we'll provide the lint rollers) and this was the best bet. It doesn't hurt that this is very inexpensive compared to hardwoods (about 1/5 the cost). I figure if one day we want something more "authentic," like I will in my dream home, we can always replace the vinyl plank with hardwoods later.

Once I got over how much I love the floors, I remembered I was looking for light fixtures.

Yes, I walked right by the foyer light without noticing. How I overlooked the dining room light is beyond me. Stevie Wonder would have seen that thing.

We also have lights installed in our stair well (there's a matching one on the other side). I also just realized I haven't shared pictures of our railing, so this will be a double whammy for you.

Plus the laundry room and the loft.

Pretty spiffy for a laundry room.

At some point, the light in the loft will be replaced with a ceiling fan. I don't know whether that point will be when they realized we paid for a ceiling fan prewire or at a later date.

The guest bath looks like it is done, save the faucet and mirror.

Since we're sharing bathroom pics, here's the nearly completed master bath:

Are all these changes getting you a little hot and bothered? Well cool down, because we now have AC.

And some weeds, apparently.

I think my favorite part of this whole experience is when I recapped with the hubby later on. Since he didn't ask what was new, I decided to surprise him and he didn't even notice most of the things that I almost didn't notice. Looks like I'm not the only Rached who's a little slow today.

Finally, I know I share a lot on this blog, but that doesn't mean I want to give everything away, namely my material possessions. To prevent this, Pat and I had a fantastic security system put in. It comes complete with motion detectors and alarms out the who-ha. It will be monitored.

So don't steal from us.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Moving To-Do List

Home sweet home. Almost.

 The question I'm asked most frequently has to be when we will be moving into our house.Well, we don't know. We never actually received our 60 days until closing notification. You know, that thing that's pretty important if want to tell you landlord you're moving out so you don't to pay both rent and a mortgage.

We were notified it was time to lock in our mortgage rate, which normally happens 60 days prior to closing. So we asked our contact person and were told that the development was waiting to turn on gas/power to our part of the street, so they couldn't nail down a closing date yet. Approximately two weeks later and still no word. So we asked again and this time were told the same, but he guesstimates we will close in late September. As in approximately 30 days.

I am ecstatic that we will be in earlier than we thought, but also a little irritated at the quality of communication around closing, which as I understand it, is a pretty important event in buying a home. I have my own theories about how this could happen and I don't blame any StanPac employee that we've met, but that's neither here nor there. Not to mention, we still don't have an official closing date.

Since I want to avoid being completely unprepared for our really short notice, I've decided to proceed as if we have been given a closing date and it's September 30th.

And for better or worse, we're vacating our apartment on October 16th.

It's crazy to think that in approximately a month, the house building chapter will be over and the home making chapter begins. Also, it's kind of scary to think of everything we have to get done over the next 30 days.
  • Pick out home insurance
  • Finalize loan
  • Order the cats collars and tags
  • Patch the molding ("Boone Damage")
  • Deep cleaning the A.P.T.
  • Pick out paint colors
  • Pick out appliances
  • Decide on a new vet and get copies of the pets' medical records
  • Look at fences 
  • Pack...everything 
As I review my to-do list, I notice I have only done things that require mental work. I haven't lifted a finger (other than to type this list) to start any of the physical work. I'm preemptively in decorating mode when I need to be "take it all down and un-prettify" mode. Damn Ballard Designs website.

I'm sure this list will grow over the next couple weeks. The bad news is I'm a procrastinator. The good news is I work best close to a deadline. Thank you StanPac for giving me no time left to put this off. This is my wake-up call.

It's time to get stuff done.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

House Update: It's Tile Time!

The tile man has come to town!

All of the tile in our house is in and it looks awesome! We chose to add tile in all the bathrooms and the laundry room because I can't stand a linoleum floor. Ironically, we chose vinyl planks for the downstairs; that's not in yet, but it's basically linoleum, just much more durable than hardwood and looks just as good.

The best part for me has got to be the kitchen backsplash:

I've probably wanted a subway tile backsplash longer than I've wanted to own a home so that was a no-brainer. I was surprised at how (relatively) inexpensive adding a backsplash was. It's obviously a very white kitchen, so I plan on decorating with darker walls and a fair amount of color to make it seem less...sterile. Once we add our stainless steel appliances and maybe a hint of copper, I think this room with be my absolute favorite.

As I mentioned, we added tile to the upstairs bathrooms and laundry room. Since these are pretty private areas that will barely be used/seen by guests, we decided to go simple/cost efficient.

The color is neutral and boring and will match the carpet that butts up against it pretty perfectly.

In our master, we did go a little fancier:

We chose a larger floor tile and did more white subway tile on the walls. The floors are greyer than they look in this picture (the afternoon sun was glaring on them). This is the one area that not quite done; the grout isn't in on the floors or walls as well as the missing border around the tub.

We also got the columns up on the front of our house:

Yes, the column on the left is crooked and, yes, it is bugging the hell out of me. No, it will not stay that way.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Long Awaited Painted Tray Post

I know I promised this post as part of DIY week about a month and a half ago, but I got a little lazy after our spontaneous D.C. mini vacation. That doesn't mean I didn't do it.

The reason I never told the story of the painted tray is it didn't turn out very well. It didn't turn out at all. I screwed it up and never finished it. But we're all about honesty over here at the Woodward Place, so I decided to share what went down:

The tray in question is a terra cotta potting tray that I bought at Michaels a long, long time ago. I spray painted it white and used it to corral candles and keep melted wax off our counters. It was perfect. Then it was boring.

"How hard could it be to paint a tray," I thought. "I could always stencil it," I thought.

Apparently, I am completely unaware of how expensive stencils are. Since I couldn't find one I loved and didn't want to spend a ton on one I'm just okay with, I decided that was out.

Plan B was to grid out the tray and paint a simple, albeit handmade chevron pattern.

Step 1. Draw grid.

Alright. That wasn't so hard.

Step 2. Attach the lines on a diagonal.

So far, so good. Cool and full of character. Just gotta keep this up.

Step 3. Because that looks awesome, adding vertical lines to make it more of a geometric grid would be more awesome. Right?

Mmmm, not so much. But I'm committed now.

Step 4. Be brave, keep going.

Oh, wrong choice. That only emphasizes the imperfections.

Step 5: Abandon all steps and try to salvage this project.

Since I also couldn't figure out how to finish the edges and I thought, "maybe a border will hide the ugly parts." After taping it off and hoping for a relatively smooth line, this is what I got:

Here's the second time I thought, "maybe a border will hide the ugly parts." Feeling like a genius, I broke out my gold Sharpie and...

Smoother, but not opaque. Guess it's time for a new gold Sharpie. And that's as far as I got.

I'm not crazy about any part of this, so I'm not rushing to finish it. Clearly my approach of abandoning my original plan did not work out.

This was supposed to be an easy, afternoon, de-stressing DIY project but somehow it turned out as a globby, gloopy mess. As I see it, I have two options: Spray paint the whole thing (maybe not white again) or keep tinkering and hoping for artistic genius. At this point, I think any "artistic genius" is past and all that's in the future "tried to hard."

So, does any one have any ideas on what I should do next to make the painted tray interesting and not amateur hour?

Thursday, August 8, 2013

House Update: Kitchen Counters and Paint

I know many of you couldn't care less about the ins and outs of home construction and mainly appreciate the glamor shots. If you're thinking, "yep, that's me," today is your lucky day.

To start, our homes exterior colors are now as they will be when we move in (the door isn't completely painted yet).

The Hardie Board color is Woodstock Brown and the shutters and door are a dark bluish grey. One of the first projects I want to tackle is repainting our front door (I know, I know...) a dark, rusty red. I think it will be a great compliment to the fall and winter decorating I'll get to start as soon as we move in, plus it will really brighten up the front porch. Repainting the door red will be one of the first things I submit to the HOA for approval along with fencing in the back yard.

Inside, we were surprised to see our counters have already been installed!

No, our counters don't have white splotches and they're not super dusty; for right now they have a layer of cellophane to protect from all the potential house building dangers. Once that's removed our counters will look simple black from far away. Upon closer look, the counters have light gold flecks in them, perfectly tying them to the off-white cabinets. They offer the much needed darkness against the very light cabinets and the soon-to-be-installed white subway tile.

One of the best things about this counter is they were standard, aka free! Wish I could say the same for the cabinets...

Our counters were also installed in both our upstairs bathrooms:

We chose the simple white counters to match the white subway tile that is to be installed in the master bathroom.  For the sake of consistency, we chose to run the same colors through the guest bathroom as well.

They've also got the first round of painting done; that's probably why my pictures finally look light and bright and not like they were taken in a cave. Here's a good shot of the paint, as well as the window trim I bragged about in the last post:

Our builder, Standard Pacific, won't paint the walls colors we chose so every wall in the house, including our ceilings, will be this light tan when we move in; this is not a problem for me as I love painting. I do plan on painting all our ceilings white and eventually adding crown molding throughout. The only area I'm not psyched about is over the stairs, but everywhere else I am more than game.

Every time I visit I fall a little bit more in love with our house; it's at the point now where I think Boone is a little jealous of my house baby.