Kitchen Before

I got everything cleaned out and organized last night and I even had a chance to take the obligatory ‘before’ shots.

The cherished double-ovens.  Although nice…are rather small and a typical cookie sheet does not fit well.  We traded in for a standard range. The door goes out to the deck, and to the left and down is the staircase to the basement.

View of the main cooking corner.  Yes beer is needed for any renovation.

View of the sink area.  The window will be replaced with a ‘green house’ type bay window so that I can grow herbs.

View of the fridge area.  This wall will be knocked down and the fridge will be moved.

View into the dining room.

The pantry.  This will stay but will be integrated into cabinets.

View from dining room into kitchen.  The wall to the left will be going… going… gone.

The living room ready for demolition. 

View from the front door.

RIP old washer

Royce and I recently practiced our right at home appliance euthanasia.  Although our washer wasn’t dead we decided it should be and so on Black Friday we went out to find it’s replacement.  I had tagged our old washer as being from the 1970’s.  It looked and smelled old and it did things like pee all over our basement which you would expect from old things.  Imagine my surprise when I see this guy was purchased in 1994.  I was truly excited about the size of this monster when we moved in.  Coming from apartments with stackable units laundry day took a while because you had to do so many small loads.  This one was ‘extra capacity’ which to Royce meant “stuff all your laundry in at once”.  It was a nice feature but it used a lot of water (as we found out in the a fore mentioned basement flood).  I always joked that when we did our laundry the lights in DC would dim a bit.

In the end we decided to get a newfangeled front loader from a company that I thought only made cell phones.  Research showed that LG had ranked in the top for the past 2 years for washers so we hedged our bets.  Its pretty cool…it is really high tech and even makes little computer noises and sings when it is done.  My favorite feature so far is that after a couple of tumbles it decides how much water it needs.  Our old model left that up to the humans and one human in our house was known to wash very small loads with the “extra high” water setting.

According to the energy guide label our new fancy macine will only cost us $10-15 a year to run…in comparison the energy guide label from the old one…a whopping $136 to run.  I can’t even imagine how much water we are saving.

Kitchen Specs

We finalized our kitchen specs last night (click on the picture below to see a larger one).  The biggest major change from our current lay out is that we are knocking down a wall where the bar is slated to go.  This will open up our kitchen into the dining room which is on your left as you look at the aerial shot.  Because we are removing the wall we had to move the fridge.  Also since we are getting rid of the double oven/cook-top combo we were able to free up some space on the wall where the range is slated to go.  We even have proper slots for Charlie’s dog dish (on the floor under the microwave in that little nook) not to mention shelves to put cookbooks on.  It will be nice to have an open kitchen…very few of the houses in this neighborhood have that luxury.

What a difference a coat of paint makes

Royce and I returned from Hilton Head to find a new look for our ugly house.  When we left it sorta (this is an old picture…lots of leaves and we have replaced some bushes) looked like this:

And when we returned after 5 days of golfing and beach bumming it looked like this:

How is that for a face-lift?  Even more surprising we weren’t expecting it…we had picked out paint colors but our painter-man said that he would start onthe deck while we were gone.  Neither of us were expecting to return to such a sexy home.  Although I’m a bid sad I didn’t get the worthy ‘before’ pictures I wanted.  Makes me wonder why the previous owners didn’t bother to do this since they had such a hard time selling it in the first place…would have given it way more curb appeal and honestly its not *that* expensive considering other home improvement costs we have incurred.  Consider us the lucky winners of the ugly duckling award.  Our neighbors are also ecstatic…it really couldn’t get much worse though.

Our new LeafGuard gutters are in too…had a few gutter-less days but thankfully no rain so I got some sleep.  The big test will come with the next rain storm…stay tuned.

We are also moving slowly on the kitchen.  We had contractor Dave and his designer over on Friday to go over our wish list.  Something I’ve got to tackle this weekend is my cooktop + double oven vs. free standing range debate.  Our current set up is a cooktop + double oven and I really like it…but Dave suggests we blow the double ovens to give us more space.  But once you have 2 ovens I’ve heard it is really hard to go back…even our State Farm agent, who we met with today, warned me to not downsize…she did and she isn’t proud of her choice.  So this weekend I’ve got some research to do…I’m looking for my dream range…a 36-40" baby with at least 1 decently sized oven and 1 oven big enough for side dishes…Oh and it needs to be less than a fortune! 

Many things are in motion but nothing is happening yet

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks here at the Burns house.  Between unexpected deaths, painful surgeries and bad financial advice Royce and I have decided to get new gutters, paint the house, and start on the kitchen remodel.  Quite a lot of things for us considering home improvement has been at a stand still since we finished the basement in March.  Granted it has taken us since March to make our basement look nice and cozy too.  Maybe that is why we have been distracted on the lack of progress other places.

The painters start this weekend with the deck.  We are having it power washed, sanded and re sealed in this dark grey color.  Just the first step to de-browning our very brown house.  The next step is the windows…they are all going to get restored and painted a nice cream to match our new gutters.  The rest of the trim, patio and the front siding will also be cream.  I think it will lighten things up a bit from this dreary boring turd-like brown theme we currently have going on.  The color of the shutters is still up in the air.  Let me know if you have any ideas for us. 

The kitchen renovation is a bit last minute.  We have had all the $$ saved up to start the project for a while, but for a fleeting moment I figured this money may be better used to refinance our home.  Being responsible I found a financial planner to talk this and other financial issues over with figuring they could at least let us know if refinancing was in our near future.  Needless to say we got a lot of bad advice, none of it remotely even focused on any of the major questions we had.  Thankfully I have a brain in this head of mine and was smart enough to say thanks, but no thanks and we ran like the wind from that situation.  In our grief we decided to ‘screw it’ and re-do our kitchen.  This money wouldn’t make a dime in the current market anyways so we may as well spend it right?  That and once we are done with the kitchen we will be almost done with all the major renovations/major hemorrhaging of cash.  All that is left that I can think of right now is the spare bathroom (functional but very blue) and the back yard.

So that’s our story up to now.  We leave for Hilton Head today for trip #2 of ‘Royce and Julie’s summer to winter travel adventures’.  Only 3 more trips to go til we are done.  Which reminds me I gotta post those photos from my birthday trip to Iowa!  Me so lazy…

For those of you wondering…

Today I caught my 8th mouse.  Either we have a lot of mice in this house or I keep catching the same one.  I decided topull out the poison traps…this is too many mice to be Mr. Nice Guy.

We have been doing other things than catching mice.  Last weekend Royce’s Mom and Aunt Shirley were in town and on Saturday they asked what we would normally do on Sunday and I said I would be pulling weeds.  Aunt Shirley seem extremely excited about pulling weeds (really…she was) and at 8 AM these two were outside in full force while I was still trying jolt myself awake with some coffee.  Pulling weeds turned into laying sod…which turned into putting down new mulch…which turned into planting flowers.  An unexpected day, but it was fun and went much faster with the 3 extra hands (one of Mom’s hands is not in use after all).   

I had bought these pot rings about a year ago with good intentions of mounting them on our front porch posts flanking the front door.  Not so sure why it took me so long to get these up there…they look great and bring much needed color to our ugly brown house.  I figured in the fall I can put in some mums.

Our front left landscaped bed went out to the front of the footpath.  This gave us a lot of un-used space where weeds flourished and a lot of square feet to fill in with mulch.  To rid our weed garden, we brought in the grass line to be in-line with the porch, and we put down some new mulch as well.  I also planted the begonias.

Still lots to do…so for those of you visiting beware when we ask you what you want to do for your weekend or you may be refinishing our front right landscape bed!  : D

TV and Toilet

Last night was our neighbors going away party so I got a slow start, but I did manage to outfit the new bathroom with a couple stops to some home good outlet stores.  It is now complete except for some pictures.

Since I had the camera out (testing out my brand new lens) I took some shots of the new TV…

And this is a good example of how you are supposed to watch the new TV…

Royce also worked hard today with priming and painting the hallway.  Now all that is left to do is sand sand sand that horrible notty pine.

Let’s reminisce shall we?

The re-construction of our basement began yesterday.  A very exciting time for the Royce and Julie unit.  This will expand our living and entertaining space by 228 sq feet, not to mention add a usable half-bath into the mix.  We plan on using this space mainly as a family room/entertainment room.  But a corner of it will also house my office in order to free up a bedroom upstairs for future familial growth if you get my drift.  

But before we get ahead of ourselves, I figured it would be a good time to walk through memory lane. 


When we first closed on the house, our basement looked like this…something resembling more of a 70’s swingers lounge (complete with large plush orange sectional, crazy carpet and bar!) rather than a cozy family room:

With the washing machine incontinence issue of January 2006 we tore out the super funky carpet and were left with tile reminiscent of my grade school cafeteria…all we needed were metal folding chairs and our basement would have been the hit of AA meetings around town!:

Then my husband got a bug up his ass and decided to rip down all the notty pinewith the expectation that we immediately begin the refinishing process as die-hard do-it-yourselfers…that was until we tried to pick up a piece of drywall at Home Depot and decided we better leave this job to the pro’s…or at least someone stronger than the two of us.  So we have been living like this since January 2006:

It hasn’t been all that bad, until you walk down there with nothing but slippers on and forget there are still exposed carpet tacks just waiting to pierce your tender foot. But the general bomb-shelter look was also getting to be a bit…well…depressing.  

This week has been very uplifting knowing that soon we will have smooth drywall, a spiffy new bathroom, and plush carpet between our toes in no time.  I expect for the major construction to be finished within a couple of weeks…then we will do the finishing touches ourselves…the trim, painting etc.  We also need to get carpet, not to mention furniture, a TV and other stuff to fill the room.  We are not in a hurry, but I’m sure we will be fully decked out by the 2008 football season.


Stay tuned as I will provide updates as the construction continues!  Basement 2008!  Hip-hip-horray!

Relaxation?…I think not

I should know better.  When we plan a weeked to do nothing, it never happens.

It took us 2 days to install this:

For any of you who have put together something from Ikea you know how fun this can be.  

Hours of looking at this creepy thing while you attempt to decipher the “picture only” assembly instructions can turn even the most diligent do-it-yourselfer mad.  I will have to put it to them though…thier instruction books keep you on your toes AND help excersise that spatial recognition side of the brain.  Although by Day 2, hour 4 we both were totally perplexed as to what Ikea man was wanting us to do.

It took us one day to recover from this madness but In between we had an awesome cooking class and dinner at Dave’s new place in DC.  So all in all it wasn’t a bad weekend…just not as lazy as I had anticipated.

The good news, is that Royce has finally moved in the bedroom!

Yes Mom, I did pot my plant

And I even had Royce help me hang it up today in the spare bedroom.  See…

He sure looks pueny right now, but I have faith that this plant with it’s long journey to DC from KC will fill out just fine.  I hope I can find a tasteful plant stand to put under this window so that we can bring more life into this house.  I also hung a philodendron in our bedroom and hope to find another good looking plant to put atop our fancy new dresser.  

Yes you heard that right.  We got new bedroom furniture!  A milestone in our adulthood if I do say so myself.  It has high time we upgraded from the lame, but structurally sound iron bed-frame, and my Ikea particle board chest of drawers.  We ended up getting this bed, and this chest from Bassett.   Both are in the dark Java finish and are just beautiful.  The chest is so tall I can’t even see in the top drawers so those will be Royce’s.  We still have to get wardrobes and nightstands for the room but I’m hopeful we will do that next weekend.  Then, after over a year…we will finally be moved into our bedroom…clothes and all.  

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