Thursday, January 30, 2014

Tile decisions...

We have two areas of the new kitchen that we're going to tile. One is the small area above the sink and cabinets on either side, up to the window and up to the top of the microwave cabinet to the right of the window. The other area will be the wall with the range, range hood, and lower cabinets. Soooo many options with what we could do! 

For example, on the range wall, do we tile the whole wall? Just from the cabinet line all the way to the ceiling? Or take the tile to the ceiling only in the section of the range hood, like in this picture:

Or in this super nerdy craft moment I had with my IKEA home planner print out and the Granada Tile Fez tear sheet:

Which brings me to tile option, #1, also which happens to be Jeff's #1. The Granada Tile in the Fez pattern, in the bright blue and white. We ordered some samples from their website which were "free" ($24 shipping and handling for everything you see below, but it was HEAVY and came super fast so I guess that's why), and I got their 4x4" tile color samples too for some options. Jeff is set on the blue and white tile if we end up going with it, but I thought these color sample tiles were too pretty not to get. I'm going to seal them, gild the sides with gold, put felt on the bottom, and use them as coasters!

I really love the Fez too. I think it'll be a nice pop of color and pattern in our new black/white/gold/wood kitchen. And if we keep it to just the range wall, doing a simple and classic white subway tile on the sink wall, I don't think it'll be too much or too crazy. 

Here's another cement tile pattern that I really like:

I like the black and white too, but maybe that's not enough color in the kitchen. I guess we're colorful people that live in a colorful house, but Jodi's house makes me want to tone down ours a bit. It's really gorgeous and makes me jealous.

I do have issues with this tile though. 1) It is SO dang heavy. Like ridiculously so. I understand why it'd be used on a floor, but I don't get how these tiles stick to the wall because they're so dense. I've seen a bunch of pictures though of people using these on the walls so I know the laws of physics and building materials make it possible. 2) The tiles are really thick. Probably why they are so heavy. Here is the side view: 

They're 5/8" thick, which is pretty thick for a wall tile. Pretty neat though that the color goes down about 1/4", great for if you get minor chips in it because the color will still come through. But that exposed edge is an issue for me. We could get a quarter round tile in white to cap off the exposed edges I guess, or paint the sides?

3) It's not the cheapest. It's not that expensive either, considering we're doing a small section in it (they are $7 per 8x8" tile and so our area would be ~$300 plus labor and liquid nails or whatever they use to get them to stay on the wall).


4) It's not Heath Ceramics.

Which brings me to my other option. Heath Ceramic tiles. *Swoon* I love everything about Heath Ceramics, and was so dying to register there for our wedding dishes but felt kind of guilty because they cost what they look like they cost. Anyways, their tiles are amazing, but there is no way we could afford them. Even if it's a small area. They start at $16.50 a square foot for their most basic tile and go up to like $77 a square foot for the fancy ones. So why would this even be an option? Because of their OVERSTOCK SECTION!! Those prices are way awesomer at $6 a square foot for the 2nd's and $15 a square foot for the 1st quality. They'll often sell the same tile in both 1st and 2nd quality, so I bet you could mix them up and come out with a pretty great looking tiled area. The overstock tile is only sold at their Sausalito factory store though and in person (they won't ship the overstock, you have to see and buy it in person). They post what they have in stock on their website every Thursday or Friday so you don't have to make the trip if they don't have what you'd want. I'm planning a trip to go and fiendishly sort through their section when I'm up in the Bay Area in March. Max and Liz live like 10 minutes away in Mill Valley so I'm going to convince them to come with me and prevent me from hoarding tile.

Anywho, pictures?

Love the color and the size of these tiles above and below. I like how the tile is stacked vertically in the picture below. You don't see that very much with the subway tile sizes.

This one below is hard to see in the picture, but they are their dual-glaze tiles. A section of the tile is glazed in a shiny white, and the rest in a matte white. The sections vary so it makes a random pattern of shininess which is subtly awesome.

I mean, c'mon. That color!! So pretty.

These are their $77/sq ft tiles, called "Crease". Some have the crease going in, and some have them poking out. Dimensional and really cool. I kind of doubt these ever make it to the overstock section, or stay for long. Bookmark this for when I'm rich. 

Decisions, decisions. AND THEY ARE ALL MINE TO MAKE!! Maybe. Jeff will probably want some input if I'm spending $600 on tile. I guess.

One THOUSAND!!! Who's a blogger now!?

1000 posts, NBD.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jeff's pooping closet

With Elsa potty training now, a second toilet in the house would be exceedingly useful. Especially since Jeff likes to check Instagram and Facebook and email while in the bathroom, sometimes being in there for hours at a time. Maybe I'm exaggerating and providing TMI, but seriously, a second bathroom will be awesome.

Because we're only a family of three (plus two fur babies) and don't have a guest bedroom, one full bath is sufficient. We really only need another toilet and sink, and the ideal location, for construction and convenience reasons, is right off the kitchen in the current laundry area. So that's the plan. Very simple rectangle bathroom, entering through the door to your left will be the sink, and to your right will be the toilet. Two feet of space in between the two, and about 8" on each side of the toilet to the walls. Basically just a closet where you get business done.

Jeff's one requirement throughout this whole planning process has been painting this bathroom with black chalkboard paint. Fine, I can live with that. It will relate well with the black kitchen cabinets, and the white fixtures and gold hardware carried through in here too will make it all jive together. Here's what I'm thinking:

Chalkboard paint and upside down bin pulls as the chalk holders (thanks Pinterest!).

Kohler Tresham toilet. I love the lines of this collection from Kohler. So elegant. You know, for a toilet.

The matching Tresham pedestal sink. I was thinking of going with a vanity for storage, but all we really need in this bathroom is hand soap, toilet paper, and a hand towel. Pretty sure I can stay on top of keeping those items stocked in the bathroom. Right outside of the bathroom are our cleaning supply closets where we can store the overstock. A pedestal sink would take up less room in the very small bathroom so I think it's the way to go. 

I'm a firm believer of staying within the same collection when possible too, especially if you're going with a specific finish like gold. The kitchen sink faucet I want is from the Delta Trinsic line in champagne bronze so we'll carry that into the bathroom too. Above is the toilet paper holder from the same Delta Trinsic line, simple and space saving. Below is the bath faucet from Delta.

I've always liked this hexagon towel ring from Urban Outfitters, I'm kind of surprised it's still on the website! I should probably snap it up soon before it sells out.

Which then relates to the Monte hexagon mirror from West Elm which will go over the sink! I'm thinking I should just buy all of this right now before it sells out and I kill myself. 

I like the Ikea Vitemolla ceiling lamp for this space too. The black stem will blend in with the walls, and be enough illumination for the small room. Can't beat that price either. 

So those are the bathroom details! Likey?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Cork flooring

I think the part of this renovation I am most excited about is the new flooring. I cannot wait to see that vinyl go. Just a quick note that pretty much all of the decisions with this remodel are mine to make, even though I say "we decided" and "we want". Jeff is very trusting of my taste, or is just afraid of saying no to me, as he should be. Anyways, he's on board with all of this.

So I've always thought we'd go one of two directions with the flooring in the back half of the house. Either cork flooring or real linoleum. I say "real linoleum" because people think that's vinyl flooring. It is not. It's very different. Real linoleum is what you find in elementary school cafeterias, or hospitals. It's smooth, long-lasting and made with linseed oil, tree resin, wood and cork flours, limestone and pigment, with a jute backing making it very eco-friendly. Vinyl flooring is made with salt and crude oil (petroleum), felt, fiberglass and dyes and off-gasses and is yucky.

Marmoleum is a brand of this real linoleum and comes in easy-to-install click lock boards or sheets, a ton of colors (like 120 of them), and is relatively inexpensive (about $4-7 a square foot). You can lay it down in all sorts of designs and patterns, and we toyed with the idea of fat stripes. This was part of the reason I decided not to go with linoleum. Too many choices and I would have driven myself crazy with all the options we could do. This chevron is an example of the crazy you can do with linoleum:

Cork flooring was our other option and the one we decided to go with. From the website, cork's attributes are:

  • Easy cleaning and maintenance: cork is possibly the easiest floor material to clean and maintain; simply pick up wet messes with a sponge or paper towels and clean with a damp mop - no cleaning products necessary
  • A naturally anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic material: cork flooring is often used in hot yoga rooms, where anti-bacterial and anti-allergenic properties are essential to maintain the health of yogis
  • Excellent durability and a long lifespan: cork is naturally resilient and resistant to scratches, stains and wear
  • Insulating flooring sourced from an ecological, renewable process: the perfect choice for a greener home and lower energy costs

Cork is warmer underfoot because of its insulating properties, and is naturally repellant to insects like termites and carpenter ants. They stay away from cork. It comes in click-lock boards, and sheets and tiles that are glued down with an adhesive. We're going this route because we want to continue it in the half-bath and the laundry room area, and maybe even our full bathroom too (the grout in between the small tiles in there is cracking and coming out and driving me crazy), and you can't do click-locks in rooms with a lot of moisture like bathrooms and laundry rooms. If water seeps into the cracks and gets in the cardboard base of the click-locks, it can warp and buckle. You don't have this problem with the glue down version.

The cost is also a huge factor for us. You can buy cork at the big boxes like Lowe's and Home Depot for around $3.50-6 a square foot, but the one we're going with is only $2.49 a square foot from I have been so impressed with BD so far. They let you choose 5 samples for free (along with free overnight FedEx shipping!) and I was expecting tiny little samples but they gave us really substantial boards which helped in making our choice. The little sample at the bottom of this picture is the sample from Home Depot (also free), and right above it are four click-lock samples assembled from Lowe's (25 cents a piece). The top three are from Build Direct, and I didn't include the other two BD samples because those were not what we wanted at all (one was Macadamia, a cool white one that won't work for us, and the other was Faro, a really trippy swirly pattern).

We decided on the middle piece, the Algarve sample. The tone of the cork matches our existing hardwood floors so it will transition nicely between the front house and back house. I also think it'll play off the butcher block countertops nicely. It has enough unique marks and coloration changes in it to make it interesting, yet still staying neutral. The second sample was much more uniform, kind of like a cork board cork. I liked it, but I liked the Algarve more. Here's the picture from the website:

We're waiting on a quote from our contractor's flooring guy about the cost to install it, but it's easy and fast to install so that too helps with the bottom line. We have about 450 square feet of flooring to do, so the cost of the cork, moisture vapor barrier, adhesive and moldings/transitions comes out to about $1300. That's without installation mind you, but a pretty amazing price for redoing 1/3 of our house's flooring. I can't wait to see it installed! 

Dannielle + Kurtis + We Like Flowers

I never posted the professional pictures of Bubby and Kurtis' wedding flowers! I did a pretty extensive post on the flowers we did for their wedding here, but that only had my crappy iPhone pictures of the flowers. Their awesome photographers, JMfoto Photography, took these MUCH better ones. Not too many flower close-ups but they give you a peek into the wedding as a whole and how the flowers accented all the other beauty being featured that day.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Remodeling just like real adults do!

You know what happens when you spend your whole Christmas vacation watching HGTV at your parents' houses? Yeah. You end up deciding to remodel your own home and join in the fun!

It was kind of a domino effect of projects starting with the terrible vinyl flooring in our kitchen and laundry area. We've never liked it all that much, and have grown to hate it the more disgusting it gets each year. It's texturized so dirt settles in the divots and unless you're Cinde-freakin-rella on your hands and knees scrubbing it, it looks filthy constantly. So that was our top wish list item for the house. But if we're replacing the flooring in the kitchen and laundry area, we may as well replace the not-so-great Ikea laminate in the playroom/office, right? It's all about continuity and not having four different flooring choices in a 1650 square foot house.

And if we're moving everything out of the kitchen to pull up the flooring, we may as well just demo the old cabinets and tile countertops out and replace them with new, modern ones that fit your new dishwasher, right? Don't get me wrong, I've always liked the style of our vintage kitchen, but it's just not so functional. The drawers stick, the shelves are at weird heights, and the cabinets don't fit the appliances. New cabinets will make life easier.

And then if we're hiring a contractor to manage these projects, we may as well have him add in a half-bathroom where the laundry area is to make our house finally have two toilets, right? So you can see how this has gone down, but even though it sounds like a lot, it's not major construction. Just a few wall tweaks (no load bearing walls need to be removed) and a little bit of demo, keeping everything in the original footprint of the house. We have a fair bit of equity in the home and rates are good now so why not!?

Here's a pic of our current laundry area which we will be closing off to make the half-bathroom (imagine a wall with a door right in front of the machines, preserving the hallway connecting the office/playroom to the kitchen, and keeping the utility closets across from the machines). It's the ideal location for the new half-bathroom because the water lines and sewage drain are there already (our full bathroom is on the other side of this wall), making it a much less expensive addition.

Doesn't look big enough though, right? That's because it's not. It's deep enough (you need a depth of 30" according to LB building code), but it's not long enough (you also need 24" of space in front of the toilet, which in our case will be 24" in between the toilet and sink which will face each other).

In order to get those extra 10" or so, we're going to bump out this wall that the fridge and pantry currently are on in towards the kitchen.

Because moving the laundry machines to the garage/studio is not at all an option for us (Jeff would be so mad!), we decided to make this corner of the office/playroom the new laundry closet. We'll get new machines that are stackable, and hopefully will do pocket doors that slide into the closet with some added shelving. This is also an easy/cheap option because again, the water lines are right there. These are a few inspiration pics:

On to the kitchen! Here is my inspiration picture to give you an idea of some of the finishes we're going for:

So my vision is black painted Shaker-style cabinets, oak butcher block countertops, a white apron front sink, and brushed brass cabinet hardware and a matching sink faucet (all just like the ones in the picture above). Almost no upper cabinets, and a white subway tile backsplash. I think the contrast of the black cabinets with the white appliances and sink will be sharp, but warmed up and less stark looking when paired with butcher block counters, cork flooring, and gold hardware.

I'll do another post about Ikea vs. non-Ikea kitchens and how we decided to go with Ikea (along with the all-important budget breakdown), but for now just accept it and don't ask questions. I've been obsessively playing with Ikea's Home Planner 3D software mocking up different kitchen layouts, and I think I'm finally happy with the following:

This viewpoint is as if you're standing in our dining room and the wall between the dining room and kitchen is invisible. You can see the light sketch-out of the doorway to the right in between the two rooms, and the window in front of the sink (which isn't moving) to give you some perspective.

This view is if you're a creeper in our bushes looking through the kitchen window on the side of the house. You'll see that where the range and dishwasher are now, becomes the new location for our floor to ceiling pantry and the fridge. The range then goes to the opposite wall (goodbye chalkboard... :*( We'll miss you.), with two 24" deep cabinets with three drawers flanking it, and two 12" cabinets with slide out drawers next to those to hold our garbage and recycling bins. We'll have a range hood and the subway tile backsplash from the cabinets up to the ceiling, and probably a pot rack attached to the wall to the right of the range.

If you look straight ahead, that's where the fridge and pantry are right now, and what will become a bank of three shallow (12" deep, because this is the wall being bumped out for the bathroom) cabinets for storage with a butcher block top to be used as a buffet. Two sconces and an awesome piece of art will go above them.

Next to the fridge will be another 24" cabinet with 3 drawers, then the sink, then the dishwasher, and one more 24" cabinet with 3 drawers. I like the pull-out drawers for cabinets so much more than just shelves and doors. They are so much easier to organize, and the ones at Ikea come with the soft-closing mechanisms so little fingers don't get smashed.

Above the last cabinet will be our only upper cabinet. We decided to do one here to balance out the pantry that goes to the ceiling on the other end, plus it's a good spot for our glassware. I don't want a cabinet above the fridge because no one can reach that. Instead I want a lovely maiden's hair fern plant on top. Underneath the glassware cabinet is where the microwave will go on the cabinet's shelf. I think I want this cabinet to be white, to blend in with the white walls and white tile. I really like the look of kitchens with no upper cabinets and I think one floating black cabinet on the white wall here would be kind of an eyesore.

Lots more to talk about with all the choices going on in this remodel! Jeff is a big meanie-head and won't let me start this project until his Prigus show is done, which isn't until April 25th!! Argh! Even though we're hiring a bunch of professionals to do this work for us and Jeff's studio where he will be painting is outside of the house, he still wants to wait. So right now we're hoping to start demo as soon as Jeff and Elsa go to the Bay Area the week before the show when he's doing the set-up. I have to stay behind and work, so it's a perfect time for the house to be torn apart without Elsa underfoot. Another benefit to having to wait is that Ikea will likely have their kitchen sale before we get underway so I plan on making the most of that. Until then, and until the home equity line of credit comes through, I'll be finalizing decisions on the details and hunting down some discounts, pinning all my finds to my secret renovation board on Pinterest. I'd make it public so that you could see it, but then when I post stuff on the blog, you'll all be like "BORING! Saw it already." So it stays secret and the blog stays exciting.

More to come!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A blog retrospective

August 7th, 2007- That's the date this whole blog baby got started. With this post, alerting the internet that Jeff and I were starting a wedding blog. HA! Jeff participated for about 4 minutes and then I took it over. Naturally. Jeff is not what we call a "wordsmith." To be fair, he did at least one post all by himself, titled "My Brohans" introducing his side of the wedding party.

Some notable posts from the wedding portion of the blog:

  • Our engagement story, a nail-biting adventure where I almost chucked a Christian Dior diamond ring down a NYC sewer grate. Spoiler alert- I said yes!
  • We had a poll for our wedding mascot, my first use of a blog "widget". The leopard was a front-runner for a while until Jeff rigged the voting and suddenly the Yeti became the winner. Which is why we had a 7 foot Yeti in lederhosen at our wedding.
  • We chose the song I was to walk down the aisle to, Heartbeats by Jose Gonzalez, probably the only song Jeff and I can both call one of our favorites (he likes a lot of ambient crap).
  • We took our engagement photos.

After the wedding, we moved from Irvine to Long Beach, renting an awesome big Craftsman house in a not-so-awesome neighborhood, then bought our house a year and a half later, took an amazing trip to Scandinavia, and then got pregnant

Which is of course when blog posts went through the roof and you all got used to me posting 258 times a year. Sadly, they declined from there in a direct proportional relationship to how busy I became working full time while mothering sweet little Elsie.

Here's a breakdown of some blog schtastics for all you nerds out there:

# of posts in 2007: 18
# of posts in 2008: 42
# of posts in 2009: 212
# of posts in 2010: 247
# of posts in 2011: 258
# of posts in 2012: 147
# of posts in 2013: 70
# of posts in 2014 (thus far): 1

Making this... My 995th post!! And you all complain about how I never blahg anymore. Just go back and read the other 994 if you're that bored.

Some other fun facts:
  • My blog has been visited 139, 829 times (as of right now).
  • The post with the most page views (6936) was Baby Shower #2, thanks to my very controversial fetus cake that Jana made for me. 
  • Second runner up with 4640 views was my post on my Kanken backpack which we used as Elsa's diaper bag up until it was stolen last month out of our car. Bah!
  • Third runner up with 4501 views was about how I wanted Alexa Chung's hair color and cut. I never quite achieved it, sadly. 
My blog audience hails from the following countries:

United States
United Kingdom
South Korea


So that's a little blog retrospective for you to kick this year off. We have a major project in the planning stages right now that I anticipate a lot of blog content from (I'm not pregnant) and I'm currently working on the first of those posts. Hopefully I'll get it up soon, but don't sit around obsessively refreshing your browser to see if it's been posted yet. Just enter your email address under "Follow By Email" in the top right corner of the blog and you'll be notified when it's posted! Or follow me on a blog reader. That's efficient. 

Happy 2014 friends!