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Leave it to my husband to “need a project to keep [him] busy” during our Cape Cod vacation week….

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We arrived last week to find a bunch of dumped cobblestones that, despite being about 20 pounds each, were quickly stacked into a pile. And the excitement began!

Our driveway at the house was nothing more than a patchy mix of grass and sand where we park under a giant maple tree. I was sick of tracking never-ending sand into my car and HHH (headless husband Howard) was worried about the cars being parked on dewy grass which would emit moisture and potentially contribute to frame rot.  Since we ordered a new Jeep Wrangler this is a concern since rot seems to be the norm!

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We had already spent a couple of weekends staking out the area and sketching up a plan so we he was ready to get going.

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I feel I must disclose that I did no work on this project whatsoever!!  But I was a dedicated passenger when it was time to run to the store for bag after bag of dry concrete mix.  In total the project used about 24 bags of 80-pound concrete mix.

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The plan is to fill in the driveway with crushed stone but some additional digging needs to be done to remove the grass and depress the driveway to allow for approximately 3 inches of stone coverage.  We thought about using crushed shells which is a popular choice on the Cape but since the driveway is under a tree, we felt it would be a constant mess of debris and the sun wouldn’t be able to hit the shells to keep them bleached white in color.  We may add some shells to the top of the gravel which I’ve seen places and it looks pretty good.

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Finally the cracks between the cobbles were filled with mortar.  We created an apron of sorts for foot traffic to the patio. I was worried about tripping over the raised cobblestones. The plan is to eventually add stepping stones to connect the patio and the driveway.  We played with the idea of extending the cobblestones and gravel path to connect the two but seemed like a strange geometry.

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Let me know, have you ever thought about building a driveway? How do you spend your summer vacation?

Now that the basement construction is coming together it’s time for me to get my decorating on. As I mentioned before (here) I’m decorating around the big manly monster couch in this room. I tried resisting. I tried complaining. It go me nowhere and problem even lost me a foot rub or two. Boo.

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Plan B is to embrace the couch and plan around it which was already done with the wall color.

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I started out with a mood board which has gotten a little outdated but you can see where I’m heading.  The idea is to lighten up the basement since it was such a dark place. But I didn’t want the room to feel cold so I’m planning to bring the warmth back in with texture.

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I started with a shag rug from Surya.  It’s the Surya Casablanca rug. I’ve been happy with our Surya rugs in the past but I’m a little disappointed in this rug.  I probably should have known the quality was lacking when the price for a 6×9 rug didn’t make me feel like I need to pinch my pennies for a few weeks after purchasing it. But it’s just a basement.  I just thought it would be little lusher based on the photo. Safavieh-Handmade-Casablanca-Moroccan-White-Black-N.Z.-Wool-Shag-Rug-6-x-9-305d826b-8756-401d-ae52-bfc079d54d52_600

Then began the pillow shopping.  I thought I wanted to do African mud cloth pillows.  I figured I could easily sew the cases myself if I could find the fabric. If I could just find the fabric…. I gave up.  I almost bought some from Homegirl’s collection on Etsy but I chickened out.

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So, I went to Pottery Barn online and threw every pillow imaginable onto our couch to see what worked.

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And then I saw my checkout. And realized half of the pillows were final sale. What? No way.

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If you know me, you know I am the queen of returns. I seriously think somewhere there must be a secret mark on my name that says do not sell to this girl because she will just return it later.

Then I had this brilliant idea to check H&M.  I don’t shop at H&M but remembered seeing that they have home items. And they are trendy. And what do you know – H&M has tons of pillow covers that are cotton and affordable!  I piled them up to mimic my original black and white idea.  I thought some yellow would add color but HHH (Headless Husband Howard) said no yellow. And no pillows with cheesy wording.  hmrejected

I narrowed down the count and saved hundreds from would have been a disastrous Pottery Barn order.

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Now I’m patiently awaiting my pillows.  We’ll see if they live up to their hype when they arrive later this week. In the event they don’t, let me know where else I should look!

It’s been so long since I’ve talked about the basement, you probably forgot we had one.  One very ugly finished basement with suede painted walls in a color that resembled… ok, I won’t go there.. but you can catch up here.

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The spare room in the basement has been finished for a few weeks. HHH (headless husband Howard) was ultimately convinced that framing in a new closet to hide the support column and adding extra storage would be a decent idea. The floors are Vermont Maple by Pergo XP. The wall and trim color is Pale Celery and Cotton Balls by Benjamin Moore. Pale Celery is a brave color for us and was something we chose without even buying a sample first. Crazy town. I may have started to sweat a bit when I first saw the color go on. But, I’m coping.

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We don’t actively use this room but find it’s convenient to dump suitcases, golf clubs, guitar cases, my sewing machine, etc. in the room. So the closet was built to hide these items and make the room more functional for the rare times we have a full house. I’m also hoping it helps with resale at some time down the line.  While it can’t legally be called a bedroom in Massachusetts since it doesn’t have a direct door or window leading outside, it is a bonus room.  And it already existed.  Just without the closet and with one big metal pole in the room.

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HHH went all fancy with the trim molding and I’m so happy he did.  After installing new baseboard covers, the added trim height matches perfectly.

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Coco the cat was so happy, she did her favorite roll on the basement floor move.

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Then it was time to tackle the main media slash gym room.  The rug had long ago been ripped out. And we had been living in a transitional state with a working treadmill for months. Obviously, this room doesn’t get used much.

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One of the items that set us back was that the floor had to be leveled. HHH went all engineer on the space and even sketched out contour lines. If you look closely you can see them in the chaos photo above.

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The bottom of our stair case was pretty ratty without finished trim. Someone had slapped white paint on the exposed column and put a 2 x 4 in for a railing. Classy.  So we knocked it out and talked for hours, maybe days, about how to trim out the stairs. During this time, HHH added additional supports to the back of the stairs since they had too much bounce.

Our end solution was to come up with a little wall that we’ll add trim too at the end. I didn’t want to extend the wall and create a collision point at the bottom of the stairs.  Plus, the cat really loves her shortcut when she follows me to the laundry room.

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We are finding the wall has a great added bonus of acting as a bar area during construction. Espresso anyone?

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HHH continued to lay the flooring over the weekend.  We are installing a floating floor to allow for expansion and contraction since it’s a basement. And using a dimple mat is key. Our basement area is really dry but in the event moisture does find its way in, the dimple mat will keep allow air to circulate and moisture to evaporate. The trouble with the dimple mat is that it increases the noise level.  So first we laid landscaping material which significantly reduces the noise that would otherwise result from the plastic dimple board against the concrete floor.

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The floor is about 40 percent done as of today.

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Oh, and the walls were painted Behr’s Mourning Dove. The paint for this room was a bit of a debacle. I wanted something light in color but grey was just not working.  HHH insists on keeping his bachelor-pad leather couch. I hate it.  But, since he’s doing all the work, and I have my beastly treadmill in the room, I decided to compromise.  The paint had to work with the leather couch. We sampled three Benjamin Moore colors and two of them didn’t even look like the sample card. Benjamin Moore is more money than any other paint, and it’s a basement… so we went back to Behr and are happy to keep the cash in our pockets to spend on throw pillows.  Or a big manly flat screen…

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This room is going to have a more modern look than the rest of our house which I’m excited about. I already bought the rug which is something completely nontraditional. And I’m really excited to find those throw pillows to match. I’m not-so-secretly hoping that a dozen large throw pillows will hide the couch!

Wowee! It’s been almost a full year since I’ve posted. Trust me, we have not been light on projects.  But, I’ve been lazy in documenting everything. It took these two slipcovers to make me feel like I needed to share again…..

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And the lesson here? Never try to make your own slipcovers! Ha. No, they really weren’t too bad and I spread the effort out over two weekends. Each took 2-hours to sew.  The trouble was that I had no pattern and I had no idea how to make a slipcover.

I was inspired by Kathleen over at Lindsay Hill Interiors who made her slipcovers look so easy!

Picking out the fabric may have been the hardest chore. I ordered a few duck cloth samples online but didn’t like any of them.  And then I worried that using a white fabric would only show cat hair.  In the end, I used a heavy chino-like fabric that I already had. Anyone remember when Banana Republic had a home line? I had a chino duvet cover! So, with free (or already paid for) fabric I had nothing to lose!

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While the chairs are not perfect, the slipcovers are fine for making them look matchy-matchy.  And when the basement is done… yes, we are still working on that… they will probably end up down there for guitar playing. Armless chairs are best for those jam sessions.

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The pillows were hand-me-downs from my mother from Pottery Barn – thanks Mom! She gave me a bunch of pillows so I could reuse the inserts. When I regain my motivation for sewing again I’ll recover them.  Until then…

 

 

 

I am still alive.  This winter has made me want to hibernate.  I’ve been useless around the house other than for cleaning at the end of the weekend when I have no more time left to procrastinate. And I have not been in the mood to share.

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It’s been snowy.  The basement is a mess.  The project we started (here) a few months ago has come to a complete halt.

The only thing I have accomplished is finally finding a new rug for the family room.

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It is one step towards getting a new couch. But we have an extra chair cluttering the space due to the basement project and my buttercream couch matches the gold tones in the rug a bit better.

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And I love this rug. Enough to roll around on it like a fool.

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I splurged a bit on a high quality Nourison New Zealand Wool rug (here).  I bought it from Home Depot because they had free shipping and it’s easy to return.  And, the price was much less than any other place. I almost suspected the price was an error – and I think I was right because it’s gone up since!

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After a lot of research I learned that a New Zealand Wool rug was a superior choice for us because they are naturally stain resistant and flame resistant.  I’ve already been lucky with the flame resistant part – see the wood stove over there? Yikes. I was ready for a disaster. But we survived.

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The room is more functional due to a cute little Ballard Design marble side table from my mother in law. I love to use it for my coffee…and err… leftover Christmas cookies in the morning.

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The room is also extra awesome now because my sister gave me the best Pottery Barn throw (here) for Christmas!

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It’s funny how sometimes I just pet the faux fur. It’s so soft but so heavy and warm.

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So that’s a wrap for this month. I have a bazillion snow photos that I might post next week.  But seeing them is sort of depressing so maybe I’ll need to find something else to share.  Have a good weekend!

 

Snow Update

Since I have exactly 84 snow related photos on my phone I thought I should share a few.  If you haven’t already heard, the Boston area has been clobbered by two storms over the past week. It’s been real. At least we didn’t lose power this year like we did here and here…  oh, that would probably be because we finally purchased a generator. Figures, right?

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20150128_090702Let’s not forget about the Cape House either…

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Typically a few snowed in days would mean some projects were stirring in the house. But we were in a much sunnier place for a week’s vacation and then when I got home I just wanted to cook homemade food and watch tv. We’ve been hunkered down with a fire and counting our blessings that these storms were only an inconvenience.  Here’s hoping to an early spring!

PS. WordPress is doing something funky with my photos because of their new editor but I have no clue how to fix it.  Let me know if you do!

I know I started talking about redoing the basement ages ago. And even put it on our New Year’s to do list for 2014 (here).  Sadly nothing happened.

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The basement is used for the treadmill and beyond that, storage, or a dumping ground for things that need to be off the main living floor. It’s also the main area for wrapping and hiding Christmas presents.

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We did buy a weight rack which helped the gym area stay functional.  But otherwise it needs an upgrade.

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The brown poopy color palette is not working. Yes, I said poopy. The walls are a textured Ralph Lauren suede paint. It probably cost a fortune. Never ever use suede paint in your home. It is disgusting.  It does not look like suede and why would you want suede walls anyways?

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Besides the main tv and gym area we have a second guest room. Although it is far from anywhere I would like to put guests. It is reserved for those that stick around after my late night dance parties and are not planning to drive home. 
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The guest room is also dumping grounds for all of the guitar and golf equipment.  And there is a foosball table just in case the dance party didn’t tire out our guests.

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Finally taking the plunge into the basement project meant ripping up the carpet. Actually it meant HHH (Headless Husband Howard) needed to rip up the carpet.

DSC_0651Underneath was a painted floor that matched the walls in the upstairs bathroom before I painted them (here). Oh how I loathe that pinkish tan foundation color!

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Once the carpets were up we were pleasantly surprised to see no signs of water or other set backs. Our goal to move forward with laminate or engineered hardwood is moving forward. We know we need to level the floor and that is going to take some time but we couldn’t stop ourselves from bringing home some samples to try out.

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As of now we are leaning towards using Pergo laminate flooring since they get such good reviews and we have no fears of water damage.  It is half the price of using engineered hardwood.  Only I have not been too fond of any of the in-stock colors at Lowe’s and Home Depot. I keep reminding myself that at the end of the day this is only a basement. And we have a long way to go before the floors can be installed.  Stay tuned!

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