Bathroom Shelving Units

30 04 2010

Okay, what lady out there doesn’t want a lot of storage in the bathroom?

Anyone? Anyone?

Right. Me too.  I do happen to have a lot of storage in my current bathroom, and don’t even use all the drawers and cabinet space.  But I wanted a little shelving unit for my guests, because I’ve had a couple of incidents with people using my (already used) bath towels in the bathroom, instead of bringing in the ones from the guest room. 

Guests who did this – now you know, you used dirty towels. You’re welcome 🙂

But I understand how that can happen, and how it’s easier to have extra towels right in the bathroom.  I’m all about making guests feel comfortable here, after all. And once I realized that the former owner of my house had had a shelf in the corner of the bathroom, I realized there was enough room for me to have one too.

I thought I wanted a teak knockoff one (since who can afford a shelf for a million dollars for the BATHROOM?), but they don’t seem to make those anywhere.  So I’ve been on the lookout for a while, and finally found one at, you guessed it, Target.  It’s a metal one, with bamboo shelves, which would tie in the bamboo sink accessories that  have nicely.

Whoop, there it is

SoI picked it up with some additional accessories – I can’t help it – and set it up.  My only issue with it is that due to the molding on the floor, I can’t bring it flush with the wall, and therefore, can’t install the hook to keep it from being unsturdy. Any recommendations? The molding is plastic, so I can’t easily cut it.  Otherwise, I’m super happy with it!

I officially love these jars. And I can accommodate soaps & shampoos for my guests now too!

I put some bath crystals in a sugar dish for guests (it's really very spa-like at my house) and I love these fancy clorox wipes holders

And yes, towels in the bathroom for guests, finally.


The Battle Against Dog Hair

29 04 2010

Those of you who know me might remember the couch saga right around the time I bought my house.

For some reason, I had it in my head that I wanted…no, needed…a dark brown couch that doubled as a pull out bed.  Sounds simple enough, right? I could. Not. Find. One.

I started looking way in advance of my move to the beach (I bought my house at the end of August and didn’t move here until the end of September – scheduling & work & travel reasons).  And finally, I found it. The perfect couch.

It was chocolate brown velvet.  Pulled out to a bed.  JC Penney.  On sale!  I was in love.  But it was too soon for moving. So I called them to see if I could delay delivery or come up with a new solution and still get the sale price.  And they were not helpful.  So that’s how my parents ended up with a pull out couch in their side entranceway and we ended up moving it with the rest of my stuff.  The end.

Ah, my couch

So anyway, I love this couch and it fits in with my decor perfectly (it helps that it was one of the first pieces I bought). 

But I have this dog.  Barney.

Barney Bee

He’s a basset hound, which means he’s the sweetest dog alive. He loves people, especially kids, and other dogs. He loves eating treats and laying in the sun. He loves me and cuddling.

He's a snuggler

But he sheds. And drools. He just can’t help himself.  And his favorite place in the world? My couch. Sigh.

He just loves the couch

I’ve tried a million different solutions. I tried vacuuming the couch – very time consuming (plus, I still have to wash the drool off each time – I know, I’m making you want to come right over and sit on my couch).  I tried using a sponge dedicated only to cleaning the couch with a scrub pad on one side – useful, but also time consuming. I tried that new Scotch pet hair remover thing – not bad, but after about one use, not that useful anymore.  I bought a special pet hair dustbuster – pretty good solution, but I’m still battling the drool.  Plus, though I fight hard to keep him clean, he’s bit on the smelly side too. I love the guy, but he’s a big, smelly, drool-y mess sometimes. 

There's just no stopping this.

So what to do? 

Yesterday, I spent two hours vacuuming the couch and each of its cushions, then scrubbing off the drool, sprinkling on carpet freshener (which apparently can be used on upholstery – who knew!?) and then vacuuming that off.  The couch looked and smelled great again.  For five minutes, until Barney reclaimed his seat.  Sigh.

Clean couch - for a minute.

I was at my wits’ end – now what?  My solution – a slipcover.

If you know me, you know I HATE slipcovers. It’s irrational, I know.  But they slide around, they never look that great, and I just think they’re yucky.  I know lots of people use them and love them, but I’ve never been a convert.  But my lovely couch was slowly being destroyed and since I am a dog person and will always have dogs, I decided my new plan was to get a slipcover for when it’s just me and “stinky” as I affectionately refer to my dog, and then I can always take it off and brush off the few hairs for when we have guests. 

With a slipcover. Sigh.

I headed to Target (yes, again) and found one in brown (not the nice shade of dark brown that I have, but kind of a milk chocolate one) that came in two pieces – so it looks a *little* bit less like a slipcover and more like a couch.  I put it on the couch and while I definitely don’t LOVE it, I’m happy to be protecting my couch and have something that I can just throw in the wash to clean instead of going through my usual rigamarole.  Maybe I’ll end up a slipcover convert after all…

I guess it's not the end of the world.

What are your feelings on slipcovers – yay or nay?

Cabinet Doors Won’t Close?

28 04 2010

As I’ve mentioned before, I do not LOVE my kitchen.  But it’s workable, it’s a big space, and hey, it’s a kitchen!

I’m a big believer in fixing the things that bug you though, and it’s always bothered me that two of my kitchen cabinet door don’t close all the way.  Every single time I open and close them, I think about it, and it bugs me.

Just a little bit ajar. So annoying.

About a year ago, I bought some magnet attachments for the cabinets that I could use to MAKE them stay closed. But I never put them up, because I was wary to add them and to have to drill through the laminate doors without drilling all the way through.

So still, the cabinets bugged me. 

Then, my parents mentioned replacing one of the hinges on a cabinet door in their kitchen, and said it made it shut much better.  They thought it might work for me too.  A ha! I thought.

I finally went to Lowes this weekend for hinges, and I’d taken a picture with my phone of the hinges I was looking at, because I forget pretty quickly what things look like when I’m looking at lots of other hinges.  Fortunately, a Lowes employee came over to see if I needed help (they’re so nice there).  I showed him the hinge and explained my dilemma, and he suggested that instead of buying a hinge (they only had one interior hinge, like I needed, and it didn’t really look like my hinge and was a lot bigger), that I should try to adjust it. I must have looked alarmed, so he said that each hinge has a little screw inside that allows you to adjust them.  He said to play around with it – turn it to the right, and if the door opened wider, then I was going in the wrong direction.

When I got around to it last night, I got out my trusty screwdriver and had to figure out which screw was the right one. I initially thought it was the one on the front of the hinge:

Front of the hinge - none of these screws was the right one

But when I unscrewed that a little, the door became loose.  So I realized it was the screw tucked into the side of the hinge.

Here's the right screw!

Of course, on the door I photographed, I was never able to get it to close all the way, though I certainly improved the problem.  That leads me to believe that I probably DO need a new hinge or two on that door, but it’s not a priority.  But I was able to fix the other door completely, and I’m SO excited to have a kitchen that doesn’t look sloppy with open cabinet doors anymore!

As good as it gets. Still a little bit ajar

But this one now shuts fully! Yay!

Hanging Curtains

27 04 2010

For a while, I debated hanging curtains in my dining room and living room.  It doesn’t seem like a major decision, but for some reason, I couldn’t come to a conclusion.

I have these hideous blinds in both rooms.  They’re good for two reasons: 1) I didn’t have to buy them and 2) they cover the entire set of four or five windows I have in each room.  Eventually, I want to replace these with bamboo shades, but I just haven’t gotten around to it yet.  My thinking was that the shades with the curtains might be too much.

Then I told myself how well it works in my guest room.  Hmm.

But then I thought it might make the rooms too formal.

I’ve been going back and forth on this for a while.  Totally ridiculous, I know, but these are the decorating decisions that run around in my mind.

So on Saturday, I was playing hooky from my ceramics class and easing into the day with breakfast in front of the TV – HGTV, of course.  I saw a commercial for Color Splash, and David Bromstad said that floor to ceiling curtains add drama to a room.  At that moment, I knew – I needed curtains in the dining room.  I made the decision for a few reasons: 1) the moment I heard that, I knew he was right (and I always go with gut instincts), 2) I thought it might be an extra way to block out any peeking from my creepy neighbor, and 3) looking at those danged gross blinds in my pretty living room every day just depressed me.

I took my measurements (about 82 inches across and 96 inches from floor to ceiling) and headed out.  I went first to Target, because I remembered looking for curtain rods with my mom at Bed, Bath & Beyond, and they were both expensive and nothing special.  I found one that I liked – a dark wooden (fake wood) one, with large knobs on each end.  I thought I needed a little bulk in the rod because of the way the rest of the room is decorated – I can’t really explain why that is, but that’s how I felt! 

I checked out the curtains there too – I had it in my head that I wanted something silver, in a silk/taffeta kind of material.  They didn’t have that at Target. So I thought I’d use some of my millions of Bed, Bath and Beyond coupons and pick up some curtains there.

I found the perfect, perfect curtains, on sale, in silver.  I loved them.  They only had one in 95″.  I looked and looked, but could only find another one that was 84″.  I took it as a sign.  Sigh.  Instead, I picked up two champagne curtains, which seemed to be the only two in 95″ and since they were close to the curtains that I love so much in my guest room, I thought I’d be okay with them.

Then it was on to putting them up!

I had three brackets, each with two holes. To hang these up, I needed to first mark my holes, which I did using the bracket.

I wish I had a head mount for my camera - it would be easier.

I used the first bracket and marks to decide at which height I wanted to hang my curtains. I did want to go with floor to ceiling, so I dropped the bracket about two inches from the ceiling and made my marks.  I measured both where the top of the bracket was and the top hole, so that as I marked each subsequent bracket, they would be even (since I wasn’t using a level).

Then, it was time to drill the holes.  The brackets came with wall anchors (those little plastic doo-hickeys that you hammer into the wall and then put a screw into), so I first drilled holes to accommodate them.  The depth of the wall wasn’t great (because of the framing of the house), so I had to shorten the wall anchors a little by cutting the ends off – I’ve found that this works great, and hasn’t affected the strength needed to hold up the thing being anchored.

Time to drill - not the best pic ever, but I was taking this one-handed. With my left hand.


Once the holes were drilled, I hammered in the anchors.

Holes with anchors

Then, I secured each of the brackets.

Brackets up!

Once that was done, I put up the curtain rod.  This was a little bit tough without adding the ends (I know these have a specialized name, I just can’t remember it right now!), because I had to try to stretch the adjustable rod without having it fall out of the brackets.  I finally got that done.

Curtain rod - up!

Then, I ironed the curtains (note, make sure your iron isn’t too hot for the material. Mine ended up heating up too much and tearing the fabric in a spot that’s fortunately not too noticeable!).  I put the curtains up and found out that 95 inches apparently doesn’t really mean 95 inches.  Although the curtain rod is two inches from the ceiling (putting it at 94 inches from the floor), the curtains are still a couple of inches off the floor.  I’m a wee bit irritated about that, but I must say, I LOVE the way the curtains look.

All right, so the champagne curtains look good. I'm still sad about the pewter ones

They’ve formalized the room, true, but it looks so finished and classy.  It does block out some light, because they’re room darkening, but I’m only in that room in the evenings, mostly, anyway and can always open the curtains if I want to.  (I never open the blinds because of my creepy neighbor)

Now this room makes me really happy!

Every time I come downstairs and see the curtains, it makes me happy.  Such a small change, but such a big difference!

Would you like to see the full before & after?

When I moved in...

Interim decorating

And now - can you believe it?

Cleaning – How to Deal with It?

26 04 2010

As I’m sure every handy homeowner girl feels, there’s nothing nicer than a clean house.  Ahhh…

But who wants to be slaving away for six hours every Saturday to keep your house looking spic and span? Um, not me.  I love to have a clean house, but I do NOT love to clean.

So I’ve given myself a schedule that most weeks, I stick to. I have one task a day to do, and by the end of the week, that adds up to a clean house. I do have to settle for the house not being super clean on any one day (there’s always something a little bit dirty), but it means I can enjoy my weekends a bit more and spend only a few minutes a day keeping my house mostly straightened up.  I thought I’d share it with you:

Monday – clean the kitchen (this means using a cleaner to wipe down the cabinets, the stove, the microwave and countertops, as well as the sink and refrigerator handles. If I’m feeling particularly industrious, I’ll also clean out the fridge. For some reason, there’s never much food in there, so it’s easy for me to move a few things around and do a quick wipe up. I also wipe down my garbage and recycling cans and try to remember to get the light switches too.

Tuesday – dust downstairs. This is easy to do while watching tv (since I”m not very good about just sitting and watching tv – I like to be doing something).  If I have company coming, I’ll also get out the windex and clean any glass surfaces, but generally, I just have a damp and a dry cloth and wipe everything down quickly. I always tell myself it will take hours, but it usually takes about fifteen minutes.

Wednesday – dust upstairs. Same deal as downstairs, only I can’t watch tv while I’m doing it. So sometimes, I’ll have a show on in one room, and dust other rooms during the commercials. Wednesday is also dishwasher day – since I live alone, I don’t dirty that many dishes, and once a week is generally sufficient. I set it for nighttime, because it more energy efficient that way (something about fewer people running appliances) and I’m trying to remember to put my sponge & sponge holder in there every week to beat the germs. Another tip for cleaning your sponge is to stick it in the microwave (wet) for two minutes. Use a dishtowel to take it out so you don’t burn yourself and then run it under cold water to cool it off.

Thursday – clean the bathrooms. I also tell myself this will take hours and again, it never does. Cleaning my shower is my least favorite part, so I’ve gotten a scrubbing bubbles shower cleaner which cuts down on the work.  I also make sure to pull up my bath mat every day and pull the shower curtain closed so that it dries and that helps too.  Thursday is also laundry day, though lately, I’ve been doing that more on the weekends, because it’s not always convenient to wash my sheets on a Thursday.

Friday – yard day – this is great in the winter because it’s basically a day off for me. I clean up after the pup and mow the lawn. Every other week, I use my handy little edger (it’s a hand one) to cut the grass and weeds along the edge of the lawn and keep it looking in good shape. 

Saturday – vacuuming day. I don’t mind vacuuming, but my carpet vacuum is HEAVY. It’s a hand-me-down from my sister from when she and her husband moved into a house with a central vac, so I’m glad to have a free vacuum, but moving it from floor to floor is a huge pain. I leave it upstairs so that I can do the carpets whenever I need to (which I always make excuses for, since I don’t love to vacuum).  It’s also too heavy/awkward to use on the stairs, so I use my pet hair attachment on my little dustbuster to do the stairs.  I’m considering splitting up the upstairs/downstairs vacuuming, because it does feel like too much cleaning on one day to me :).

Sunday – garbage and mopping day. My garbage is picked up on Monday mornings, so that’s why I go around the house on Sunday, collecting the garbage in each room and putting it in the cans. I also take care of my recycling on Sundays.  In theory, I also mop on Sundays. I try to do it every other week (not because I’m anal, but because I have a basset hound who regularly drools on the floor, as well as tracks dirt in from outside with his big feet), but it’s more like once a month. I really, really need to motivate myself to mop this week because the floor is NOT looking clean.

So that’s my weekly schedule! What shortcuts do you take to keep a clean house?

Home Projects Never End

23 04 2010

Over the last month or so, I’ve done a LOT around the house and yard. I keep thinking I’ll be finished one day, but every time I finish something, I see another project to add to the list.  So what’s got to happen this year?

Well, for starters, the winter moisture and lack of sun on some parts of my house means mildew on the walls of the house. Yuck. So I’m going to be borrowing my dad’s power washer (and learning how to use it) to take care of that.

Oh mildew

Oh mildew

Also, my deck seems to have never been properly cared for before I moved in, so I’ll also be powerwashing that, and then staining and sealing it.

The deck needs some help

I’ve actually replaced this umbrella since this photo was taken with a nice, bright red one. I’m slowly getting rid of anything my creepy neighbor has given me in favor of new stuff.

I’ll also need to cut back the big bush next to my house – my neighbor has offered to do this for me, if I hold the ladder. I’m not shy about doing that type of work myself, but I am terribly afraid of heights, so I think it might be a good solution. 

Inside, I still want to replace my bathroom’s light fixture (which I’ll need assistance with), hopefully get a new bench/shelf combo for the entryway, and maybe replace the ceiling fan in my bedroom.  I’ll also be re-sealing the windows downstairs with something white (caulk, whatever, I’m going to talk to the hardware store guys to find out what to use), because the previous owner used some type of black sealant, which just makes the windows look moldy. 

And I need to undertake painting every door upstairs (there’s 13 including all closet doors and bedroom/bathroom doors) as well as all the trim. If I start now, I might be done by 2020.

How I Met My House

22 04 2010

I was reading a post this morning on Our Suburban Cottage, where AnNicole told the story of how she met her house, and invited her readers to link up to their own stories.  I thought that was a neat idea and realized I’d never told the story of how I met MY house.

The first time I saw my house!

I started my house search two years ago. I was living with my parents, 28 years old, and convinced that I would never be able to afford a place on my own.  They live in one of the most expensive counties in the country in terms of both home prices and property taxes, so that ruled it out for a single gal like me. 

We’d spent most of my summers growing up at the Jersey shore, where my parents met, and to me, that was really home.  I’d had some of the best times of my life there, so I thought, if I have to leave the county to afford a home, why don’t I move somewhere I love?

Who wouldn't want to live a mere 30 minutes from this? (Plus I have my own beach up the road)

I started my search by signing up for new listing alerts online with a local realtor.  They were fairly uninspiring and hours of searching made me excited, but also worried – what if I NEVER found anything?!?  My mom came with my on my first trip down here to look at condos and we saw about five of them.  There was one that I really loved, but it was a one-bedroom (I was looking for two because I work from home and wanted an office space/guest room), and it was on the first floor. As a single woman, I wanted a bedroom on the second floor for safety reasons. 

Home staging - essential. This house was clean & well-cared for, and that swayed me, though I held off for what I really wanted.

But I mostly saw places that were empty, uncared for, dirty, and didn’t show well. I could take care of those things, of course, but it was depressing.

Like this

And this (one of the only ones WITH a window at least)

And this (I thought better of posting any of the dirt/bug pictures I took :))

I saw another condo that might be workable in the same neighborhood. It was a two bedroom, mostly well-maintained, but you could tell that an older woman was living there, so the decor would have to be updated.  Not a problem as far as I was concerned, although the bathrooms were WAY outdated, as was the kitchen.  Plus, the condo really didn’t get a lot of light.  But I made an offer anyway, thinking it was the best thing I was going to find.

This was okay - but the room was really narrow. I was standing against the wall.

I did really like this - a very nice storage addition in the kitchen

I don't love carpet in the bathroom. Plus, no window.

A yellow toilet? Hmm.

At least it was clean though. Even if the carpet was scalloped.

It was a nice enough place, it just didn't "speak" to me

My offer was rejected.   Not because of the amount, but because the seller changed her mind about selling.  I wasn’t disappointed because I knew something better HAD to be out there.

I arranged to come down again to look at one more condo in that neighborhood (a two-hour trip is kind of a long drive for one place) and my dad happened to search some places online that morning for me before I left. He found one in another development in my price range that I hadn’t seen before. It was a three-bedroom.  I asked my realtor if we could see that one too, and she agreed to find out where it was (Side note: my realtor was very nice, but I knew more about looking for houses and the home buying process than she did. And it was my first home.  She’s since quit being a realtor).

We were able to get in, but the homeowner insisted on being there for the showing – she had three cats in the house, and one of them had feline AIDS, so he had the third bedroom all to himself.  I think she was worried that we’d accidentally let him out.  The house was NOT fit for showing. She had boxes everywhere, her daughter’s stuff was all over the upstairs sink, the carpet was OLD and gross, and it smelled of smoke.

My first impression - sellers, don't do this in your house.

The first time I saw my kitchen

Holy furniture batman

Looking back on these pictures was when I realized there'd be enough room for a shelf in my bathroom!

The feline AIDS kitty room - this was the closest I got before my inspection

What is now my office. Too bad the Vin Diesel poster didn't come with the house. Marilyn Monroe switch plates did though.

And the master bedroom

But still…

Something in me could really see the potential of this little place.  It was MUCH bigger than I could have expected for what I could afford – the homeowner had lost her job and was moving to Tennessee to live with her brother, so she had to sell quickly (plus it was at close to the low point in the housing crisis).  All of other homes in the neighborhood for sale were priced at least $40,000 higher than this one.  It had a big yard fenced in on two sides, a deck and new pergo floors. The kitchen was outdated, but big and workable. And the bathrooms were updated.  I put in an offer pretty much as soon as I got home that day.  And after the general frustrations and craziness that home buying entails, it was mine.  Well, the bank’s, but a little bit mine. 

Moving in the first box! (This was well before official move-in day)

Before I moved all my stuff in, I borrowed an air mattress from my sister and slept in the master bedroom. I didn’t have a tv or many lights and I was never a big fan of being alone (I’m a bit of a nervous nelly in the dark) and I thought “Oh my God, what did I do??”  I didn’t even want to put bare feet down on the carpet and the whole place smelled funny.  And I didn’t have my dog yet (though Barney was born a week before I closed and I knew he was going to be mine then).  It was depressing.

The cat room. The carpet was so old it was worn almost through in a lot of spots. I won't describe what was on the walls in here.


You can really see here how dirty the walls were from the previous homeowner and her daughter smoking. They also left me a pile of wet cigarettes and ashes in a bowl screwed to the deck outside. Mmm.

The master bedroom before I moved in.

But little by little, I made the house mine.  I painted every single room, taking advantage of the horrible carpet and not putting down drop cloths.  I realized the previous owner had painted everything an off-white color that looked dirty – I thought it was just from them smoking in the house, but she’d actually painted it that color ON PURPOSE.  It was so depressing.  So I opened windows, freshened up the paint, CLEANED like a maniac, replaced the carpet and the 15-year-old hot water heater, started bringing in furniture, and slowly it became mine. 

The living room today!

And the current dining room

The kitchen, not perfect, but someday I'll re-do it. In the meantime, it works for me!

My bathroom - how I love it.

The guest room, finally a nice room! No more AIDS cat!

My office - a happy place to work!

And the master bedroom, which does exactly what it's supposed to at the end of the day - makes me feel relaxed and HOME

And it’s been great to turn it into a space that I really feel comfortable in, that reflects who I am – one of my friends said the first time she visited me here that she couldn’t really explain the style other than to say it was so “me.” 

How did you meet your house?