Remodeling the Basement, Part II

Happy Easter!  He has Risen!!  I hope your day has been as wonderful as mine so far, with just a few chocolate eggs or a breakfast mimosa thrown in for good measure.  :)

I'm getting close to being able to share with you the major overhaul our basement has gotten.  Today I'll start with just one corner of it.  We were SO thrilled when we bought our house almost three years ago that the basement was already finished.  It has a little bathroom, which I've already shown you.  And the rest of it was carpeted and insulated and...wood-paneled. 

Now hold on! I know just as much as the next design junkie that there are people all over the map on this issue...to paint or not to paint the wood?  I myself stand on both sides of the fence, depending on the state of the wood and the feel of the room.  This wood paneling in my basement had it's heyday in 1979, the year the house was built.  It was in good shape (i.e. we could not justify ripping it out) but it was pretty dated.  Also it was that pre-fab, pressed wood that you install in sections, not wide-planked wood boards that were hand-cut by Amish craftsmen.  So, no guilt for this girl when that paint went up!  Here's the before shot:

Please forgive the lighting of these photos.  It's hard to capture the cozy feel of the basement (how I like it!) without turning on the overhead florescent lights that I just hate. Plus I have no idea how to work the settings on my camera!  :)

Moving on...My husband was thrilled because he's been collecting "bar" paraphernalia for years, and has even dabbled in brewing his own craft beer at home.  Just call this his "man corner" since we can't really give him the whole room to justify calling it a "man cave."

All. That. Wood. Paneling.  Painting it was a L-O-N-G process, but we'd just had baby Vivian a few months prior, and we figured we were house-bound with a sleeping infant so we'd have plenty of time.  It took two coats of oil based primer (a MUST for durability and longevity, not to mention that it covered SO much better than a latex primer).  Then we did two coats of water-based Sherwin-Williams "Roman Column" on top.

Brent finally got to display all his goodies and glasses and bottles.  We hung an old stained glass window, picked up years ago at a Virginia antique shop, to give it an English pub kind of feel (plus it divides the space between the bar and the rest of the room, which is the kids' playroom). Brent also built that long shelf you see below from a piece of barn wood we picked up on Craig's List, and, after all these years, his wife finally let him mount that glowing, electric sign that is exhibited so prominently.  :)

He also wanted to name his man corner, and so one night we were tossing names around and "Grumpy Goat" was the winner.  It's what we call our kids when they wake up on the wrong side of the bed.  I'm not sure how it started but over the years we've amassed many photos of our three kiddos in various stages of grumpy goat-ness (as I'm sure all parents have!). So if he ever gets really fancy and starts printing bottle labels for his home brew, let's just say we've got a wealth of images to brand the Grumpy Goat Tap House into a household name!

The color on the lower half of the bar has become my most favorite shade of green!  In fact I've used it in our front room for the back of the built-in bookshelves, and also on a bathroom cabinet I haven't shown you yet.  I'm forever looking for a "warm" green, if there is such a thing, one that goes with the other warm colors in my house and is not minty or "cool" at all.  It's called "City Arboretum" by Valspar.

I'll show you more of the basement soon!  Truth be told, my husband is downstairs right now finishing the last big project down there, and I'm hoping to get it in place before I show you the rest.  One step at a time...its taken a year and a half to finish the project...why rush now? :)


Responding to Comments and a (late) Valentine's Day Project

Friends, I have a small request for help.  I am rather rusty on the way that Blogger works, but when I get time to come here and read your sweet comments, I wish there were a way to reply directly to you on my blog.  (Kind of like Facebook, you know?  If someone comments on something I post, I can at least "Like" their comment or tag them in my comment so they will easily see that I have replied.)

The way I understand it now, I can comment on my own blog posts in response to you, but there's no way to make sure you know I've commented, unless you just happen to come back here and check (which I don't for one second expect to rank high on your priority list!).  

My point is, it feels wrong to let all your generous comments (or sometimes questions that you want answered) just sit here unacknowledged, when they all brighten my day so much!  Just wondering if I'm missing something and there's a way to reply to you on this blog.

And since I've asked for a favor, I will share a small project to make it up to you!  Just ignore the fact that this is over a month late!

Easy Valentine's Day Wreath
I'll be the first to admit I don't go all out for Valentine's Day.  My little boy Henry's birthday is January 23, and just on the heels of Christmas, it about wears me out every year!  By the time February hits, I'm pretty impressed with myself if I can muster some heart-shaped pancakes for breakfast and get a few little goodies to let my family know they are my special valentines.

But things do get a little drab this time of year, so I did manage to pull together a small wreath to brighten up the place!  I took a wire hanger from my husband's dry cleaning stash, bent it into a rough heart shape, and then twisted some (formerly Christmas) berries around it.

Please note my 18 month old helper in the window.

It wasn't fancy and it took me all of 15 minutes but I love simple projects like that!  The wreath is only about 9 inches high and would have gotten lost by itself hanging on the door, but layering it on top of my larger winter wreath works perfectly!

And I love the striped ribbon too.  Now just go ahead and forget that today is St. Patrick's Day and not Valentine's.   :)


Lack of Patience Decorating

Good morning!  Just popping into the blog for a quick minute to share a little decorating trick I just used.  Its nothing earth-shattering, but maybe some of you out there are in the same boat I was in, and this could be a temporary solution!

We have this big room in the front of the house that I've blogged about a lot recently.  Ultimately it will turn into a dining room + library/study.  I don't know if its because the room is so big, or the fact that it's the first room you see once you come past our entryway, but I just kept staring at it and hadn't been able to figure out how to make it work!  Nothing felt completely right.  Eventually our dining room furniture was going to live in here, but in the short-term it was just this big room that I didn't know how to fill.  

One of my biggest pet peeves is spending money on things that won't have a long life in our house.  So as much as I wanted to add library couches or a beautiful antique wooden table to fill this room, what would I do with those pieces down the road?  Instead I stumbled upon this round folding card table at the Goodwill:

Luckily I live in a city with a Ballard Designs outlet center (it's in West Chester, in case anyone in Ohio doesn't know about this!).  I waited until they were having a sale on tablecloths and got this camel-colored one.  Its not an exact match in size but close enough!  Then I hemmed some scrap fabric I had in the basement to make an overlay for the tablecloth.

There is something so satisfying about making something work with limited resources and budget!  Its like shopping the house or finding a killer bargain at a garage sale or Craig's List.  I am just such a firm believer that we don't all have to be out there spending crazy money to make something pretty!

So then last weekend we decided it was time to move the dining room furniture over (in preparation for the kitchen remodel which will take, oh, roughly two years to complete...but we've gotta start somewhere!).  So now this front room is looking a bit more like I always envisioned.  But I can't tell you how glad I am that I didn't give in to my complete lack of patience and buy a bunch of stuff that would be obsolete now! The card table went to the basement without any guilt on my part, to be used when we need extra seating down the road.  The tablecloth will have other uses as well.  My husband, sweet as he is about all my projects, won't be grumbling about finding a place to store some other huge piece of furniture that I don't have a use anymore for but just can't bear to part with because someday I might need it again!  (Please tell me I'm not the only one who has this affliction.)

So if you've got a total lack of patience like me, perhaps a Goodwill card table and discount tablecloth can help get you through!  :)


Remodeling the Basement, Part I

Hello Friends!

This morning during Sesame Street I took a few photos to show you the progress we've been making in our basement.  If you remember, in 2012 we moved into our forever house.  It had been lovingly cared for and decorated by the same owner since it was built in 1979.  Powder blue shutters.  Pink carpeting.  Lots and lots of wallpaper.  We've had so much fun slowly updating things to suit our taste!

The good news is that this house had a finished basement.  Great for the kids' playroom and lots of open space to adjust to our needs (more on that soon!).  It even had a bathroom, which thrilled us!  Here's a photo from 2012 when we first toured the house:

What do I say?  It just wasn't our style.  But perhaps more important than style, to me, was the presence of some serious wall-to-wall carpeting.  And here's the thing:

You get what I'm saying?  :)

So my husband and I decided to try and remodel this bathroom all on our own.  We'd never done that before but we figured...it's a basement bathroom...so if we really wreck it, we can just avoid it until we can hire someone to bail us out!  Here's what we came up with:

I have to admit, I am thrilled with how it turned out!  We tore out the old wallpaper to discover some mold growing on the walls behind it, so we opted (after replacing the drywall) to just cover it back up.  That's some beadboard paneling from Lowes on the bottom of the walls, and some gorgeous toile wallpaper I found on deep discount from my local paint store (Miller Brothers if you're a Cincinnati local!) on the top.  My mom hung the wallpaper.  (Not ashamed to admit that was way beyond my capabilities!)

We found this beautiful little chest at the Burlington Antique Show in Kentucky.  Just needed a little shining up to be the perfect storage spot!  And those curtains?  They can barely be considered curtains.  Just some fabric that I found at WalMart of all places!  They have a simple hem around the edges and there's no way they would cover that window if you tried to close them, but they look cute!

I traced that little bee on the wall with a charcoal pencil years ago.  He (she??) fits in here!

The mirror above the sink was a $12 Craig's List find.  I think it was originally part of some kind of cabinet but it fits in here somehow!  There are hinges holding the two pieces together and my husband attached a brass chain to a hook on the wall to hang it.  He also wrangled that new/old pedestal sink (another Craig's List find!) into place and installed the Delta faucet.

While we're on the subject, I have to brag on my husband a bit more because he also laid down the new hexagonal tile floor!  All the trim and moldings were him too.  Come to think of it, what exactly did I do in this project?  Maybe my blog name should be Buzzings of a Queen Bee's Husband?

This little bathroom has become one of my favorite spaces in the house!  It feels clean and bright, and--perhaps better than anything--much more conducive to the uses of a six year old boy!


We Have Built-Ins!

Hello everyone! It's January...that is crazy.  I've spent this week de-Christmasing my house.  I put it off as long as I could but the dead pine needles on my floor finally spoke louder than my need to have "just one more night with the Christmas tree."  Please tell me you can relate!!  My house is rather bare today, so it's time for a little photo recap of the last few months.  Join me, won't you?

We hosted Thanksgiving this year, which we loved.  Having family gathered around my dining table, the one I inherited from my grandmother, was so special for me!

We had to move the table into the formal living room to accommodate all the leaves we added. A wonderful problem!  There were eight littles and eight adults and so the sippy cups mingled with the wine glasses.  All was good.  :)

My living room got a mini-makeover in preparation for the holidays!  Bonus points if you can see what has changed from the photos (or my super-stealthy post title), but I'm going to make you wait because I just uploaded all my Christmas photos and I've got to share.

This December we tried introducing Vivian to Santa Claus.  We have a dear family friend who plays Santa every year (at Cincinnati's Union Terminal, for you locals!), and he has paid a house call the past few years for our kids.  This year it was at my sister's house.  Didn't matter the venue...Vivi was not a fan.

However, we did get her to smile for our annual Christmas card photo!  I tell you the truth though...the only way we got our kids to smile like this was by telling them to "pretend that Henry tooted."  Heaven help us when potty talk no longer brings on absolute hysteria for our kiddos.  (And now that you know the context, you can't look at our photo without thinking of toots...and I am sorry!)

We celebrated Christmas Eve at our house, and for the eighth year in a row Brent couldn't get through 'Twas the Night Before Christmas without tearing up.  I wouldn't have it any other way.  :)

And on Christmas night we went to my mom's house for dinner...and our baby Vivi got to hang out with her cousin, baby Libby, my sister's newborn daughter.  It's been a busy season in our family!

And now back to the house-y stuff, because I know you girls!  :) Here's a photo of the living room from the previous owners of our house (opposite angles in the before/after photos, it's all I could find!):

And a photo of it shortly after we moved in and re-did the walls, floors and trim:

Can you spot the difference?  Yes, the furniture is slightly different, but the most exciting change is the built-ins (and perhaps the ride-on bumblebee if you're 16 months old!).

We've been dreaming of adding built-in bookshelves to this space since we moved in over two years ago, and hosting Thanksgiving dinner gave us the kick in the pants that we needed!  My incredibly handy husband built them, using base cabinets from a local hardware store, butcher block from an antique dealer (we cut them down to size and refinished them), and pine 1x12 boards for the shelves themselves.

This room now holds all our books, in addition to being my office and our formal living room and (one day) our dining room (when our small kitchen takes over our even smaller dining room, forcing the dining room into the living room...if that makes any sense at all).  Our books out on display and easily accessible make me feel like all my literary friends have come out to play again!

Lots of fun little touches, like this antique mirror we found for $17 and refinished...

And the gallery wall above my desk...

These Bosphorus toile pillows brought the whole room together for me.  The colors are just so perfect for in here!

Here you get a little close-up of the bookshelves.  The beadboard backing is a warm green color, which I just love next to my faithful buffalo check curtains!

Yep, those photos were taken today.  I'm not ready to give up Christmas totally, I guess.  :)

Here's the other half of the built-ins.  It was such fun to decorate them!

The oil painting hanging between the shelves was a wedding present ten years ago.  (Phew!)  It's of the Colorado mountains, given to us before we ever lived there.  It has such meaning to me now that our path has taken us there and back again.

Our monogram and some plaid accessories.  And gold. Lots of gold.

I am so sorry for the photo dump, but I guess that's what I get for waiting two months to update my blog.  If you're still hanging on after all that, thank you.  As the new year gets underway, we are working on some new house projects, in between diaper changes and basketball games and ballet practice.  I'll try to keep you updated!

Happy New Year everyone!  :)


A Fall Garland

Hello lovely friends!  I hope you are having a fabulous fall!  I don't know about you, but starting about October 1st, I get all geeked out for this season.  As far as I'm concerned, October, November and December are the best months of the year.  (Let's not talk about the crash and burn that happens around January 2nd.  It's not so pretty!  You can read about my feelings on that here.)

I recently did a quick little project that I thought I'd share with you.  I love this because it can be used year after year, and frankly those are the only ones I'm interested in!  I hate spending my hard-earned free time on something that will only last for a few weeks, like seasonal wreaths or other decorations that will die and then I have to do them all again next year.  Blah.

But this one is easy, and, better yet, has held up with the rain and still looks good after over a month outside.  So I consider that a win!  

See that garland?  Here, let me zoom in a bit.

Super simple!  I started with a tutorial I had saved from years ago from A Soft Place to Land.  You can see her easy instructions here.  My gourds and pumpkins came from Hobby Lobby.  The pine cones came from my yard.  (Want to come over?)

A few notes about how to make this: The gourds on the link above are hollow (read: easier to work with!), but mine ended up having some kind of styrofoam inside.  So I used a screwdriver to poke from one side to the other, and then grabbed my daughter's oversized plastic sewing needle to thread the twine through.  Once the twine was strung, I was very generous with the hot glue gun at the entry points!  Lastly I sprayed them with a clear varnish because I was worried that rain would cause the gourds to streak or fade (they are fake, after all!) and so far they still look new.

You may remember my numbered pumpkins from years ago too!  Last fall I only had four of them (because that's how many I could dig up at the Goodwill).  A friend came over and said "Oh, are these supposed to represent your family?  One for each of you?"  Well...No.  But then, all of a sudden, Yes!  And oh-my-gosh, we don't have a pumpkin for baby Vivi and isn't that the most horrible thing in all the world and it is absolutely unacceptable that my poor little girl isn't included in this super-meaningful brand-new family tradition!  So I tore out and bought a sweet little itty-bitty pumpkin so that a number five could be stenciled and all our people are represented.  Crazy much? :)

I love how warm and welcoming our hallway looks this time of year.  Too bad most of my visitors come through the back door, which is decidedly less glamorous. (But better somehow that way too, I agree!)

My local Trader Joe's had all these little gourds and pumpkins (and yes, these are real but it didn't require any hot glue or crafty business so I was willing to splurge!).  I love to put these out at the beginning of October and let it ride until the day after Thanksgiving.  If they get a little moldy, oh well.  They're outside!

And just in keeping with the porch theme of this post, here's our little family about to go trick-or-treating.  The pirate fairy, shadow ninja and baby ladybug wish you a Happy Fall!


My Little White Picket Fence

 Hello all!

I've been meaning to pop in and share one of our recent projects with you...three kids are keeping me pretty busy but I finally found an hour to sit down at my computer!

So, you may remember that two years ago we moved into our house.  Here it was in 2012:

Last spring, we gave it a pretty big face lift by painting the brick and changing out the shutters and door.  You can read more about that transformation here.

We've made some changes to the landscaping, too, and replaced all those tiny rocks for plain black mulch.

But this summer!  Oh, this summer we totally indulged my love of cottages and country houses by adding a little white picket fence!  Just two panels of fencing with some very basic posts.  It serves absolutely no practical purpose.  But it looks so cute!

I just adore how it completes the front of the house.

This shot just makes me smile because it looks so cozy!  And you can my favorite plants, the "Little Lime" hydrangea bushes (which have really taken off and can handle full sun, if you're in love with them like I am but are afraid they'll wilt in the heat. Check into them!)  Frankie our dog likes them too.

The fence only cost around $200 from a local fence company who custom built it to our specifications (unpainted wood, and we did the install ourselves).  I love how much it adds to the house, though, for a pretty small price tag.  I'm already plotting what other decorations I can hang on it for the different seasons!  :)

I hope you are all doing well.  Thank you so much for stopping by!  :)