Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The art of colorwashing

Nancy's family said they debated what color swiss coffee might be. Well, quite simple it is a shade of white. When researching colors and the variety of ways to look at them, we quickly realized this was more than either of us had ever learned in kindergarten, no less high school. Jason's theater background was somewhat helpful, though it focused more on mixing light and not paint!
With our eyes seeing more shades of color than we thought possible, we found some information on faux techniques. With a little bit of research and making some adjustments to a color scheme someone else put together (which means it has to work, right?), we decided to colorwash the walls with sunset beige and skipper blue. To make the colorwashing process work, you add the paint to a glaze.

We read in several places that it is a good idea to practice the technique on poster board before putting it on the wall so that you become comfortable with it. Either poster board was translated from another language incorrectly or they didn't mean the 39 cent type that you buy at Target or they didn't try it out on poster board to realize that it would come out like the messes below. We were so disheartened thinking that this "easy" technique was impossible and that we were back at ground zero. Well, maybe more like ground 2 cause the wallpaper and priming were done and we weren't doing those again!
So, Nancy sat on the floor near a portion of wall that would end up behind furniture and began playing around. Jason stood back trying to think of a plan in case all was lost and swiss coffee was all we had. Finally, after several attempts, we figured it out. For those of you wanting to try this, here are our directions:
1. Mix paint and glaze. One color will be more of a base (sunset beige for us) and the other is an accent (skipper blue).
2. With a paint roller, roll on your base in a small area. Do not give the paint any time to dry and work quickly. 3. Add a few streaks of your accent color with a wide paint brush. There isn't a right or wrong way, just get it on there.
4. With an old towel/washcloth, blend the paint in circular motions. Reapply a second time, if you want it darker.

Before you knew it, we were colorwashing! The artist in us came alive as we mellowed out with the music of Nora Jones and Enya.

As we worked on each wall, the softness of the colors warmed the room and restored our dreams of what we wanted it to look like.

While we learned a lot in kindergarten, colorwashing taught us these lessons:

1. There isn't always a right or wrong way to do things.

2. Each of us has an artist inside filled with creativity; we just need the right medium.

3. Don't give up if it looks bad. Keep trying until it is right, and then hide the mistakes with a BIG piece of furniture.

Next time: the border and trim.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

No, we haven't given up

The bulk of the wallpaper may have come down without much of a fight, but the glue is a different story. We squirted, rubbed and sanded the stubborn remaining glue. We spackled the holes and caulked the gaps. We sanded more glue spots after the remover stuff had a chance to soak in.
We continued to sand the stubborn spots again. As we sanded the molding we found some rough stuff, like a staple lying on its side painted onto the molding. There were pieces of masking tape under the last layer of paint.
We chipped away at the glue with putty knifes and pulled off whole pieces of glue that could be measured. We put up the blue painter's tape on the ceiling and floor. Susan had recommended the 2 inch size and we are glad she did.
Finally we prayed that we got the worst of it and figured what was left wasn't coming down even with threat of a nuclear explosion. It was Saturday July 12 eight o'clock in the evening when we started putting up the primer.We went to bed that night with whiter walls, which was a relief. Another coat of primer was needed but at the end of day we didn't want the CD tower of up-beat music to grow any higher than it was.
"So, why the long pause in updates" you are surely asking yourself. Well, Nancy had to leave on July 13 for 3 weeks of school in Boone. The county where she works received a 3 year federal grant for languages and part of it included professional development during the summer. In the morning, she spoke only French and learned about the media in France (the Frenchies are pictured below). During the afternoon, they joined the Spanish and Germans to learn about curriculum and assessment. Hours in the library, icky cafeteria food for dinner (lunch was catered), and sleepless nights of homework consummed the rest of the day. Almost everyone went home over the weekend to spend time with family. Needless to say, the bedroom project was put on hold while Nancy worked on curriculum maps and new assessment techniques.
Meanwhile at home, Jason put up the second layer of primer, entertained the cats, and keep things going at home.

The weekend of July 26 was good because Nancy didn't have too much homework. So, we went out and bought our paint!!
Eager to continue our project, we put up our first layer of Swiss Coffee. No, we are not just painting it an off white. As you can guess from the several cans above, there is more color to come. Nancy is now home and the goal is to finish the painting before the teacher workdays start: August 19. Stay tuned for updates!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Pinkish lavendar

We have been asked by many if the new color of the bedroom will be the pinkish lavendar color that is in the pictures. The answer is that while that is the prettiest pink Jason has ever seen because it was what was behind the wallpaper and anything was better than the wallpaper, no, we are not keeping it that color. Other than that we have no real updates about the room since we are cleaning the walls and trying to get rid of the last stubborn bits of glue before we can prime the walls.

In the mean time, here is a look back at what happened after we put down the offer. For the cats, not much changed. There was still football to watch.

There were comfy places to take naps and to watch the humans put stuff in boxes. The boxes began to pile higher but time started to run short before the big move.

So, we called Nancy's mom to come a week early to help us pack and to do some of the last minute things. She was even there when we signed the papers, which was reassuring to know that we were on the right track. She would have stopped us if we weren't, right?Once we had keys to the house, we brought over the cats so that they could finally check out the new house. Harper loved the stairs and many different rooms. It wasn't long before he was bounding around and loving all of this new space.
Fiona, on the other hand, was not happy and refused to leave her carrier. The only home she knew was the appartment and she wanted to go back immediately. One of their favorite places was the back patio window where they could watch the birds and all of the kids go to the elementary school next door. One of the last days there, the two of them even shared a chair to enjoy the activities outside. (This truly was a rare situation. Sharing is not usually in their vocabulary.)
Moving day came and we had a great crew that came to help: both families and a few good friends in the area. It took all day and some cleaning at the appartment on the next day to get it all done. Sunday night we spent enjoying the Super Bowl amongst towers of boxes.

Once the furniture arrived and the house started to fill with familiar things, Fiona finally decided that it was ok to venture out and discover her new home. It took about a week, though, for her to really be comfortable with the new surroundings.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Take that wallpaper down!!!

We picked up all of the stuff off of the floor and moved out everything that we could. Harper and Fiona kept coming in wanting to know what was going on. Fiona even bounded in at one point looking for her scratching post and ended up on the window sill!

We did find a roll of wallpaper border that was left behind. It did not match the bedroom wallpaper, but we know now that the border in the living room is "strippable" (check out the middle word on the label). We were thrilled that at least some of the wallpaper in this house would come down without too much of a fight.
So, if the pictures of the room didn't give justice to the wallpaper and you are wondering why we dislike it sooooo much, here is a close up.
Say goodbye because you want see it in our house again!! Luckily most of it peeled off pretty easily in nice long sheets.
For the last stubborn bits that seemed to be attached with enough glue for the whole room, we added some Dif Gel by Zinsser (great stuff) and waited about 20 minutes.
With a little elbow grease, it was going, going....
And IT WAS GONE!!!!!
Next: cleaning the walls of all of the glue that was overused. By the way, if you are every crazy enough to put up wallpaper, here are our suggestions so that the next owners are not cursing you.
1. Make sure the wallpaper is strippable.
2. Do not use extra glue around the windows. These are weird enough pieces to pull down without a lot of glue to mess with.
3. The smaller pieces (ya know in between the door frames) do NOT need as much glue as a full regular sheet. The amount of glue should equal the piece of wallpaper. That is unless you are expecting the tornado to only hit the wall with the thin strips on it.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Our first remodel: The bedroom

It has been a very long time since we updated, but we can catch you up in a few words: unpacking, school, work, life, cats. (We will try to catch you up with more details as we go along, promise!) When the school year ended, the itch hit us to start our first remodel and we chose the bedroom. Remember this place:

Well, Lib (the seller) moved her stuff out. The cats moved in and let us come, too. Since about the end of February our bedroom has looked like this:

Why did we choose the bedroom to remodel first? Here are our top reasons: the wallpaper, the birds on the wallpaper, going to bed seeing the wallpaper before the lights go out, and waking up seeing the wallpaper first thing in the morning.

We pulled out a tape measure to measure the walls, doors, and windows in the room. We read online articles and books about removing wallpaper (thank God for HGTV.com). We dreamed and debated what to do with the blank canvas that would be our bedroom. What did we decide? Well, we guess you will just have to come back and read the next entry!! We will try to update every day that we work, at least. Let the project begin!!!

Here are the rest of the before pictures:

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Our final decision

Of course in all of this house hunting, we have to find a mortgage. Jason described his experience at the Credit Union as disappointing. She answered his questions but with a lack of interest in anything. The only way that they would offer us a mortgage for first time home buyers or teachers is with an adjustable rate. Have you read the news lately? Do you really think we want to get into that mess?

We were frustrated with the places that said they had first time home buyers plans, but still expected us to put 20% down or else pay mortgage insurance. One of the banks even said that we wouldn't qualify for a special loan like that using both of our incomes. If we used only one of our incomes, then we wouldn't qualify for the amount that we needed. Huh?

We have chosen Bank of America because their deal couldn't be beat. 5% down payment. around 1 point. 6.25% interest rate. No PMI. NO CLOSING COSTS. Yes, you read that correctly. They take care of the closing costs. We called to check because it seemed too good to be true. All we can say is SOLD: Bank of America mortgage.

Friday after Christmas we met with Sandy to discuss over lunch where we go from here (and also to tip her off about the gun house). It was quickly decided that our search was done and that we were going to make an offer on house #2. We tossed around numbers, what needs to be done, who contacts who, and decided to meet Monday to make an offer.

Monday morning (too early for Nancy who was still on break), we drove down to Newton to Sandy's office. She had some of the information already filled in and finished it up while we caught up with what had happened since our last meeting. We finished filling out and signing on the dotted line a little after noon. We figured with it being New Year's Eve, that we wouldn't hear anything until Wednesday. We headed off to the ABC store to get the ingredients for our traditional New Year's daiquiris.

About 4 hours later, Sandy called. Our offer was accepted!!

Ever since then, it seems like a blur. We have been showered with information and decisions to make: lawyers, insurance, dates, inspections, oh my. Here is what we know as of this very moment. (Yes, this is the blog actually being up to date.)

Saturday: Inspection of home with Sandy, inspector and us

January 30: Closing date (We get the keys!!)

February 2: The big move (If you are available, pencil us in...free Krispy Kreme donuts at both sites...bottled water...pizza dinner)

February 3-4: Clean up apartment and hand in keys (to the apartment, not house)

So upon hearing all of this good news, we turned to Harper and Fiona to tell them all about their new place and this is what we got.

Oh well. Might as well let them sleep peacefully now. They have a crazy few weeks ahead of them. We keep promising them that it is for the better. Maybe it is as much to console them as it is to keep us from going crazy.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A walk through of House #2 with the parents

Twas the Friday before Christmas and we got both sets of parents together to see House #2. Join us on a walk through.

This is the living room that you enter through the front door (to the right). There is a nice coat closet and to the left leads you to the kitchen. Note the wallpaper.

This is the kitchen (duh). To the left is the living room that you just saw, behind you are the stairs up to the bedrooms, and to the right are the stairs that lead to the den. The refrigerator and stove are fairly new; the dishwasher is not so fairly new. All appliances would stay.

This is the master bedroom. Note the wallpaper; you may not see it when you come visit. Yes, those are hardwood floors. There are two closets and the owner said the wife gets the bigger one.

This is the upstairs bathroom. It is connected to the master bedroom and the hallway. It is divided into two parts so that one person can be in the shower and the other can be in the other part (not pictured) brushing their teeth.

This is the smaller of the two bedrooms. It has only the one window. Once again, hardwood floors.
This is the other bedroom. It is a little bigger and has two windows. Both of these bedrooms have a closet.
This is the den. There is the one door pictured and there is another door behind you to the left about half way down the stairs from the kitchen (almost like a split entrance except in the back of the house). The floor is linoleum that has seen better days but is still usable. There is a large storage closet behind you to the right.

To the right of the den is a short hall, which leads to this "extra bedroom." The owner said it used to be an office.

This bathroom is also off of that hallway. It is where you find the laundry. The last room off of that hallway is the crawl space, which will be carefully guarded if we move here, lest we lose a cat.

Upon finishing our tour and dragging our mothers away from the sweet owner lady, we all headed out to Bob Evans for dinner and discussion. Here is a summary of the conversation.

Jason's mom: I love it!! How exciting!! I'll mow the lawn!

Jason's dad: Well, you need to change the fuse box to a circuit breaker. I mean, we used to stick a penny in there but you might not have a house. I think you'll be happier with circuits.

Nancy's dad: I didn't see anything that was a deal breaker. I'm not too thrilled about the dryer vent leading into the crawl space with no external outlet.

Nancy's mom: It's nice. I'm happy for you.

Eric: Did you notice how I got these forks to balance on the salt shaker with only two toothpicks?

With that, we left the fork trick for the waiter and bid the parents good bye. Ya' know, all those times as a teen when we didn't want their advice but they were just brimming with how life should be...that would have been really helpful right about now. I guess since we are grown ups now we have to make our own decisions.

Next time: Our final catch up post! Then after that you will get live up to the date information. That is until we find a place and have to pack and set up new utilities. Can't moving just happen by magic or a miracle or something??!!