Thursday, October 29, 2015

One Room Challenge // Exterior Week 4

Hey friends! It's ORC Week 4...I'm past the half way point (time-wise, not work-wise) on a curb-appeal project updating the exterior of our house on a budget of $5000. If you haven't been here before, you can visit the before tour (eeewwww), the plan (mmmmm), and the new garage door (aaaaaahhhh) to catch up.

It's hard to describe how I'm feeling at this moment. I am equal parts World's Most Exhausted Woman, and World's Most Pampered and Relaxed Woman. Lately, I've been hustling on my to-do list. I'm in a season that's busy in a good way, and we were making great progress on this makeover. Great rhythm. So naturally, we hit the pause button and stole away to a resort in San Diego for 8 days.

He was all like, "It's cold here, let's leave..."

So for the last week, instead of crossing off the endless tasks swirling in my head, I spent the vast majority of my waking hours here:

It was like the world's BEST prison. We were trucking when we left, and couldn't wait to get home and keep going. And then we got home and were like, "Why did we leave the beach again? Everything is dead here. I need another nap." PSA: October is not a good time (mentally) to vacation.

See how hard it is to recover from that?! Alright. Head back in the game. Here is where we are at in our ORC progress.

The new shutters arrived! All we have done is take them out of the box and hold them up to make sure they fit (whew!) so I can't really count that as "progress," but it does make you feel better to have them safe in the garage and out of the whims of the postal system.

Other arrivals during our trip were the exterior lights (love them) and a few pretty things for the porch. ;)

We decided to DIY our planter boxes, and they are a giant pain in the rear, but will be so worth the savings. (Says the woman who doesn't have to spend her Sunday afternoon cutting 88 planks of wood).

Hey, I'm helping a little bit with the gluing. That counts.

My biggest set-back so far, if only mentally, is that everything is nearly dead here now. When I left it was the high glory of fall, and now it's cold, rainy, grey, cold, brown, and gross. I went to the nursery, hoping to procure something lovely for our new planters and beds, something like this:

And it all just looks like this:

I managed to pluck the last few remnants of color from their selection, and I hope I'll have something alive to show off how beautiful these planters are going to be. It's not looking good so far.

Is it odd to anyone else that I live in a place where only cabbage can survive this time of year? What is that? When I got these home and set them in the planter box, they looked like a very weird British hat. Ugh! Where is my mom when I need her? I am terrible at plants.

The only other news I have is that I've been slightly freaking out about the front door. It is still on track to arrive at Home Depot on Friday the 30th (that's tomorrow, for my fellow people who "aren't good with the calendar.") Having never purchased a front door before, I don't know how long it takes for an installer to call you or how soon I can get it in. I was also freaking out because my door knobs from Rejuvenation hadn't shipped yet, because you can't really install a door without knobs, right? (Thankfully they are now on their way). The biggest problem, though, is that my heart has set itself on something called Hollandlac Brilliant.

It's a specialty marine-grade ULTRA high gloss lacquer from Europe and the most glorious of all paints. The paint to end all paints. I came across it in one of my fellow ORCer's blog post (bless you sweet!) and it's EXACTLY the finish I have dreamed of. It's just like that iconic Door No. 10.

What's the problem you ask? Heh, well, apparently no human can apply it. It has to be magically wished upon your door by a wounded unicorn youth. Seriously, I can't even begin to comprehend the instructions, so, OK, not a DIY. Also, it is some sort of hyper toxic blend of oil paint and finely ground particles, so you're supposed to have a wet floor in the painting area to act as a magnet for the paint fumes. WHA?! I mean, I get it, it's indestructible and they paint the sides of SHIPS with it and it's the PRETTIEST THING EVER, but let's just say I'm wildly intimidated.

I texted the link to my painter today and said, "Hi! Hope you are well. Are you able/ willing to work with this stuff?" (Code for "Hi! How about I pay you and you risk your life and well-being and sanity while we all leave the premises, so that I can have a very pretty front door? Would that be cool?") I haven't heard back yet.

Ryan, my super handy husband, was able to discipher the instructions somewhat, and thinks it could easily be a 5-day painting process. Again, for those of us who don't know how to work the calendar, that means it will be really tight-- even if I CAN coordinate all those moving parts-- to get it done in time for the November 12th end of this challenge.

And that's the progress summary! Be sure to visit the other crazies in this One Room Challenge with me and see how their own personal crises are evolving. :) Until next week!

Thursday, October 22, 2015

One Room Challenge // Exterior Week 3

Welcome back to the One Room Challenge hosted by sweet Linda of Calling It Home. We are in Week 3 of an Exterior makeover, and I’m GIDDY to show you this past week’s progress. We have a new garage door!! And, let me tell ya, I never thought I could be this excited about a garage door.

Since I know a lot of you are paying attention because you're looking to tackle a similar project, I'm going to share the specifics of our shopping process and price comparisons. If you're just here for pretty-ish progress photos, you have my full and guilt-free permission to skip to the pics. :)

I wanted a carriage-style garage door, with a row of windows at the top, straps and hardware. Something similar to this:

We started with Home Depot. I went to the gal at the computers at the back of the store, near the garage door display. I didn't waste any time trying to piece together a configuration using their samples or pamphlets- way too confusing. We just built the door I wanted together in the computer.

For a high-quality carriage-style door with windows and hardware, including installation, Home Depot's price was $3600. (They were pricing Clopay doors). Just for comparison, I had them price a mid-grade door with no windows. That was $1800. And then because I was so shocked, I asked them what the very cheapest garage door they had would cost. That was $800, but had no insulation or frills- basically a sheet of tin foil (their words, not mine). All these prices included installation.

Those prices were honestly depressing. But then someone mentioned that Menards had much better prices, so I went there and went through the same process. I was very encouraged when their Carriage House stamped steel garage door with windows and cute hardware came back at $1641. The brand was Ideal. However, Menards does not offer labor, so we were on our own to contact their recommended installers (or our own finds) for quotes.

We got 4 or 5 quotes, and most were around $500 for the installation. One guy came back at $250 for installation and we were thrilled. We wanted him to come over and measure for us and double check everything before we ordered, but he stood us up on the night he said he'd come. I guess you get what you pay for! Let's just say we didn't call to reschedule. :) 

Another of the installers came and immediately warned us we shouldn't get a Menards garage door. He said it wouldn't fit because of the windows, and tried to sell us something out of the pamphlet he brought. He seemed pretty sketchy, and like he was just trying to sell us on his own product. We didn't call him back either.

After that, though, I did start to worry about Menards' quality, and I couldn't find tons of reviews online. Of the reviewers I found, most were fairly happy with their doors, but warned the doors were going to arrive scratched and damaged.

Unsure of what door would be best and what installer we could trust, we called a friend who works in the commercial garage door industry and he gave us a name.

Mark called back immediately, gave us a prompt quote, and answered all of our questions. He agreed that Menards quality was less than desirable, but was able to give us concrete reasons why. He quoted us the same style door as Menards but it was thicker with upgraded parts, and his price was $1640- INSTALLED. Even if he was trying to pull one over on us and Menards quality was just fine, Mark was way cheaper, so whatevs!

Mark ordered the door for us on a Monday morning and installed it Tuesday afternoon. He was awesome. (The door is from C.H.I. Overhead Doors - Style 5983). His info. is in the card above- (he's been doing this 31 years all word of mouth, so he doesn't have a website)- and I'd highly recommend him to anyone in Chicago.

Now, would you like to see?! Here's a shot of the "before" to refresh your memory:

Here's about the moment Mark realized he was working for a weirdo who wouldn't stop taking pictures of him as he was piecing the door together:

And, goodbye old door! Here's the "after"...!

As Mark was finishing up, it was sunset, and the sun was hitting the front of our house, making the whole thing glow like burnished gold. It was like one of those moments in the movies where the clouds part and the sunrays beam down and the angel chorus goes “aaaaahhhhhhh” was glorious!

I totally can’t believe how much it already changes the front of the house. The glass is so new and shiny, and even the inside of the garage is completely transformed. What was once a dark box with one tiny bulb is now a brightly lit and open-feeling space. 

(The downside of course is that now we can see how dirty it is, and that “organize the garage” just jumped up six spots on the priority list. Seriously- it’s so bad. And yes, that is the Tuft & Needle box from our last ORC that we still haven’t thrown away. #hoarders).

Here's a look at the before & after side by side:

Other than the garage going in, we haven’t actually DONE anything else. We kinda hit the pause button, to ahem, go to San Diego for a week of vacation. Ha! Between this and my client installations over the next few weeks, this is going to leave us exactly two Sundays to do the work on the rest of the project. No biggie, right? I'm sure the weather will totally cooperate with that plan.

Wish us luck! Be sure to check out my fellow crazies on the ORC over at Linda’s. I’m especially keeping an eye on Christine Dovey (seriously like watching an edge of your seat heart races when I read her posts. Show up trusses!) and E-Interiors (whose bedroom, even blank on Day One, was already eye candy).

Thursday, October 15, 2015

One Room Challenge // Exterior Week 2

Welcome to Week 2 of the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling It Home! I'm excited to share the plans I have to update the exterior of our house on a strict budget of $5,000.

I've been trying to narrow down my "style" lately- which may be an exercise in futility for someone in my profession. (You mock, but see how easy it is for YOU to narrow down...)! They are ALL my style. For my own home, I am realizing I lean somewhere in the Minimalist/ Modern Farmhouse realm. 

As much as I would like tin roofing, an infinity pool and a horse stable on the property, let's just say it ain't that kind of neighborhood (and I ain't got that kind of money)! Especially on an exterior project, you have to choose updates that are in keeping with the surrounding homes (or at least within reach of them, if you want the neighbors to follow suit).

Here is what the house looks like today:

My goal is to choose updates that are at once modern and classic, with a nod to the farmhouse style that I love.

Main Goals:

  • Garage Door
  • Front Door/ Door Handles
  • Shutters
  • Lights
  • House Numbers
  • Doorbell
Secondary Wish List:
  • Planter Boxes
  • Shrubs Under Window
  • New Screens
Not Happening This Time But Needs To Happen:
  • Mailbox & Post
  • Seal Driveway
  • Plant Beds
  • Mulch
Here is my rendering of "the plan" if all those things can be accomplished:

As for where we are currently:

  • We have researched & ordered a garage door and front door. The garage door should be going in this week (yay!) now that we've found a new installer (good riddance). The front door won't arrive until Oct. 30th, after which we'll need to coordinate installation and painting. That makes me a tad nervous as it will be tight for our 11/12 deadline! I'll go into more detail on these purchases in the next couple weeks. 
  • I have NO idea where to get inexpensive planter boxes- those lovelies in the mood board are almost $600 each. So yeah, no. Any suggestions? I keep stalking Home Goods. We found this tutorial but aren't sure if we have time to make our own, and the thickness of the wood seems suspect. I'm afraid they'll be warped by Spring thanks to our harsh Chicago weather.
  • I know which hydrangeas I'd love to have for the front window, and we'll wait and see if there is room in the budget for them once the major purchases are complete. I know I'll have to get moving on this though, since the ground will be getting very COLD very soon. 
  • And get this! I happened to look up in the rafters of our basement this week (a scary place I don't usually look), and I saw a whole roll of window screening left by the previous owners! It even has instructions on the package for how to hang it. 

Anyone need a hockey stick?

All in all, I think we're in really good shape. In case you missed it, you can catch up on Week 1's exterior tour here.

Also, be sure to stop by Linda's here and see what all the other participants are up to. (And prepare to get lost for a while!)

See you guys next week!

Thursday, October 8, 2015

One Room Challenge // Exterior // Week 1

Guess what? It's time again...the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. Eep! Even though I've been looking forward to this event since the paint dried on my bedroom nightstand, here it is, T-minus 6 hours, and I've only just decided to go for it.

People who regularly read this blog will be surprised, and also not surprised, to learn I'm not going to be finishing off our powder room over the next six weeks. For reasons I can't explain because they're too depressing and too complicated, it's being drywalled over. Yep, the panic room will soon be a closed and hollow chamber in the middle of our house that may or may not ever again see the light of day. I know.

Regrouping. The powder room (RIP) would have been the obvious choice for this challenge, but that's off the list. The list of Option B's is quite large. More rooms need help in this house than don't. Guest room? Front entry? Our bathroom? They all haunt me in my sleep, but I didn't want to pick-a-room-any-room just for the sake of blogging about it, and I definitely didn't have spare money lounging around for a big remodel. Trying to keep it real around here and all.

As I was mulling over what room I could realistically tackle on a budget, without too much of Ryan's help (don't worry, we're still happily married- I'm just trying to give him a break), that would be interesting enough to blog about, and that I would be capable of getting good "after" pictures of (no really, it's a problem), we happened to receive a gift so generous and humbling it makes me want to cry.

I don't really know how to write these next sentences. Let's just say that an unnamed familial benefactor is giving us $5000, and has specifically designated it for a new front door and garage door. On the one hand, it's kinda comical that my father-in-law (oops, I shouldn't have said that), finds our crumbling house so troublesome that he would send us a gift that outrageous. On the other hand, I'm so grateful and unspeakably blessed by it (and we need. them. so. badly.) that, well, yeah, like I said. I don't know how to write these sentences.

Will a simple Thank You suffice? I hope so, because there is so much more behind those two words than I could ever say.

So we were charged with updating the doors on the outside of the house. They're in mega-bad shape. After looking into prices, and picking myself up off the floor, it seemed like $5K was just right to cover it. It even seems like we can stretch it just a teeeeny bit further and replace the shutters as well, and a few smaller things, like the, um, shattered doorbell. Which, sidenote, I didn't realize was shattered until I was taking pictures for this post. #doorbellforthewin.

I thought, well, we're already planning on doing this, so maybe I should blog about it. Yer basic Curb Appeal / Stop Embarrassing the Neighbors Project.

Why did it take me until 6:52 pm the night before the ORC to commit to this? If I'm honest, fear.

I have a laundry list of fears about this project. That it'll be boring for my readers. That I won't get good reveal pictures. That people will think it was a waste of money. That people will judge my doorbell. That my choice of garage door won't be cool enough. That I can't get it done in time. That my minivan will be in the driveway for one of the pictures and you'll find out I drive a minivan. That I'm tackling things I know nothing about and therefore will totally fail at. That the weather will kill everything and that IF the weather allows me to finish the project, that my after pictures will be a house surrounded by dead brown stuff (actually this is less a fear and more a guarantee, given the end date of November 12th- it is NOT pretty here at that time of year...the only thing I could hope for is snow...)

You get the idea. Internet shame in all its glory. That is the risk here. I admit I had to emotionally vomit all over Grace before I realized it boiled down to that one simple fear. What will people think of me? Well, it's a bad idea to have a blog if you're going to be worried about that.

So Man Up, This is Happening! It will unfold in real time, I'll be making it up as I go, I could fall on my face, and I super hope you follow along. Bring on the dancing girl emoji: I'm going to make over the front of my house.

And after all that, I know you're dying to see how bad it needs to happen!

Welcome to our home, dear friends! I tried to take as bad a picture as possible to help those reveal pictures look better in the end. :) Believe it or not, it actually looks much better than when we moved in. There used to be a giant brick of an evergreen bush in front of the window on the left, which we called the meatloaf bush. We added the magnolia tree on the right - it replaced a creepy shrine of some sort. This summer we carved out all the landscape beds and put down mulch.

And there are the front doors. The gap in between them is so wide when they are closed, that you can actually see through it. That's not toasty in winter. The doorknob barely works. Even we are confused as to when or how it is locked, and guests are totally unable to leave the house without our assistance. Kinda cool if you're Kathy Bates...not so much for normal social affairs.

Also, I can't help these plants. I have the blackest of all black thumbs (remember?) so I'm giving myself the grace to NOT worry about the landscaping for this project. Would I like to have beautifully manicured shrubs planted and appropriately pruned sedum and mulch without weeds on Reveal Day? Of course. But that's a pipe dream my friends. That part is going to wait for Spring when I can enlist my mom (who, ironically for her plant-killing daughter, had a career in landscape design) to come visit and help me with all that stuff.

Who knows how many poor guests have been sliced by that thing?

Here's a look at the window screens. The bad news is, the multiple thrash wounds they seem to have suffered give insects free licence to hang out in our house. The good news is, the windows are so old they barely open wide enough for it to be a problem.

And the shutters....bent, dirty, yuk. And where I am normally a big fan of white, I don't think white shutters are doing anything for the look of this house.

Continuing our walk of shame, here's a close-up of the garage door...

It's not too noticeable from far back, but up close it's clear this thing is on its last legs. I don't know if its insulated or not, but I don't really think so. In the winter, the mudroom off the garage is so cold, we just call it the cold room.

The lights hang crookedly and are generally decrepit.

The house numbers.

Ah, I love the smell of corrosion in the morning. Bonus challenge with these. IF they can be removed, there will be a rusty stained outline of them leftover. They're not mounted on wood, but on vinyl. So how do you cover up the marks they'll leave behind? Can you just paint that?

Well, that's the house. All I know is that I want a carriage-style garage door, and a black front door. Ever since Kate & Will's engagement was announced in front of that beautiful door at No. 10 Downing Street I've neeeeeeded a black front door.

I'll refrain from divulging more plan details until next week, but I do have our first project update! As I wrote this over the course of tonight, the garage installer we hoped to work with stood us up. Ryan asked him if he could please swing by tonight to help us figure out if we were planning to order the right thing. He said he would. We waited all night (instead of running the pressing errands I had), and Ryan finally texted, "Are you still planning to stop by tonight?" after 9 o'clock. And the full content of his response was "No."


Aw yeah, this is going to be fun. Until next week my loves!!

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