All Over the Board

We are making good progress on the sun room. We’ve started putting the ceiling back up and we like the way it looks so far. Depending on how our weekend shakes out, we may be able to get it done, but we’ll see.  

As you can probably tell from the posts and pictures, Mark is doing most of the work so far on this project. The demo and re-build are his areas of expertise. I just follow his orders and try not to mess anything up!

It’s been so fun to see the results of such a large renovation. Obviously, we haven’t taken down any walls or anything, but increasing the ceiling height has already made the room feel like a much different space and that’s got my mind revved up thinking about design and decor ideas.

And since we’re not ready to think about things like paint colors, furniture, decor, etc. in this room, I find that my mind keeps turning to other rooms in the house; rooms that don’t have the guts torn out of them. These are also rooms that, until the start of this reno, I generally liked. However, lately I’ve decided that every room in the house is a nightmare in need of an overhaul. Here’s a small list of the things I can’t stop thinking about:

  • We have to replace the living room coffee and end tables. (Too much wood!  Too dark!  Too beat up!  How can we live like this?!)
  • We have to start decorating our master bedroom. (This is the room that we sleep in and it’s hideous!  How can we live like this?!)
  • We’ve got to get better window treatments for the guest room. (It has            V-I-N-Y-L blinds!  How can our guests live like this?!)
  • We need to re-tile our master bath. (It’s 65 year old tile! How many showers can that be? How can we live like this!)

As you can see, I’m having trouble staying focused on the task at hand. And all of the above is addition to general researching/googling/pinteresting I do on a regular basis for things like general room ideas, paint colors, tile and flooring options, etc. So yeah, I’m becoming a little obsessed. (BTW, my mother will tell you that my tendency to obsess over something until I “get it right” is in no way a new phenomena.)

But since it’s important that we stay focused on the sun room, I’m filing away all my ideas and resisting the urge to poke Mark about my other “ideas.”  Ok, the last part isn’t entirely true, but I’m trying to keep them to one a day.

Anyone out there have any ideas on how to stay focused and not have the reno of one room make you h-a-t-e the rest of the your house?  My sanity and my pocketbook will thank you!


Sun Room Update: Feeling Insulated

When we last left the sun room, she had been stripped and left (somewhat) naked while Mark and I went back to our day jobs.  Last week we gave her some breathing room, a chance to shine, and some climate control. Lost? Let me explain.

After installing the support beams seen hereImage

We needed to give the ceiling some airflow before installing new insulation.  I, of course, never thought about this, but the point of insulation is trap the hot or cold air and keep it from entering the room. Therefore, there needs to be someplace for the unwanted air to go.  Enter these holes.Image

It’s hard to tell because that shot is such a close-up, but these are above the windows on the outside wall. They allow for air to exit the room into the outside ceiling overhang which will be covered by soffits eventually. Here’s a view of those same holes from the back patio looking in.Image

After Mark got those holes drilled, it was time to decide on the location of the overhead electrical. This is little tricky when you don’t have the furniture in the room, but after talking over the options, we decided to center the ceiling fan on the window that looks back into the rest of the house and the chandelier in between the doors from the family room and the kitchen.

IMG_0384 IMG_0389

Here’s what the junction box looked like once it was installed.Image

In addition to the spots in the ceiling for the overhead fan and the chandelier, we also installed an electrical box over what eventually will be the bar area so that we can have a pendant light there as well.  Even though pendant lights are a nice decorative touch, I would have preferred pot lighting over the bar, but we just didn’t have the depth in the ceiling to install them.  You need about 6 inches of space between the ceiling and the roof and we only have about 3 or 4.  So we’ll try to install some task lights under the upper cabinets and a pendant in the center of the counter top when we get to that stage.

Once we had the placed wired for sound electrical, we were ready to install the insulation.  Originally our plan was to use this stuff throughout the ceiling, but it turns out that it is quite a bit pricier than the old-fashioned fiberglass stuff so we went with the cheaper option.  It turned out to be easier to install than we expected so were happy to save the moolah.

Before the insulation went up, Mark added these polystyrene venting thingys.  Strangely, I couldn’t find them on the Home Depot website (although that’s where we got them) so I don’t have a link, but here’s what they look like installed.Image

Basically this also helps with ventilation and the fiberglass insulation goes right over top.Image

It wasn’t hard to staple the insulation to the rafters, but Mark is a little sick of working over his head.  Luckily, we should be ready to re-install the ceiling boards later this week and then we’ll be done having to look up and work overhead for awhile.  Woo Hoo!  Here’s what the ceiling looks like now with the installation installed.



I will be back later this week with another update.  Right this second, we don’t really have any other projects going on so it’s kinda KSRM here right now.  You know, all sun room, all the time.  Stay tuned!

Shine Bright Like A Diamond

This is the story of a little half bath that could.  

The main level of our house has a little half bath that is “of an era.”  Meaning it looks exactly like it did in 1948 when it was built.  Green Carrera glass? Check.  Original sink? Check. Black and white basket weave tile floor?  Check. 

Mark absolutely loves this bathroom for all it’s “original charm.”  Our compromise when we moved in was that this bathroom will stay “original” and we will eventually update the other “of an era” upstairs bath since the Carrera glass in there isn’t as pretty of a color and the bathroom as a whole gets more use (read: is in worse shape.)

However, that doesn’t mean the half bath didn’t need a little sprucing.  The first thing that had to go was a curtain made of out this this fabric.


It was covering what used to be a window to the backyard, until the sun room was added. Now it’s a window to the sun room which, well awkward.  So we sealed the exterior window well in the sun room with hard styrofoam.  Here’s a picture of it from the sun room.  


We covered it with a large mirror which we took down before we started the reno out there.  The mirror didn’t quite cover the opening (as I point out in this post) but I have plans to fix that, yo.

The hard styrofoam seems to block the sound from the bathroom to the sun room pretty well so we’re happy with that solution, but the ivy fabric curtain that covered the window in the bathroom had to go.  (Sorry, I don’t have a picture of this for you, I never took one before I replaced the curtain.)

We wanted a dark fabric for our replacement curtain so there was less a chance you could see the styrofoam through it.  My mom lives in the Los Angeles area and is quite familiar with LA’s downtown fabric district, so she hunted down a pretty black and white damask fabric and had a curtain made for us.  Here’s what it looks like.


Much better than the ivy fabric whose green in no way matched the green glass walls which as you can see, are a pretty jade green.  

Then I added this Breakfast at Tiffany’s print that I have had since college and we were really starting to go places!


See what I mean.



The next thing we did was replace the faucet.  I don’t have a picture of the old one from this sink, but it was the same as the one we still have in our upstairs bath and it looks like this.


While the faucet might be original, the hot and cold handles are not. The knobs on our shower fixture, which appear to be original, are the cross bar style so we decided to try and find a new faucet and knobs with this detail.  We found one for a good price at and Mark bought it for me for Christmas two years ago.  They don’t sell the exact same one anymore, but this one is pretty close.  Here’s what the sink looked like once we got it installed.


Now, we’re talking!  I loved the way the room was coming together, but it wasn’t quite “wowza” yet.  The next thing that was staring at me, giving me “the look” was this guy.


Ever since I saw an episode of Sarah’s House where sidekick Tommy called these types of overhead lights “boob lights,” it’s all I can think about when I see one.  This was the only one in our house and it had to go.

Mark and I both agreed that something with a little “bling” would be perfect in the space.  I liked the idea of something that mimicked the look and the shape of the chandeliers in the the Breakfast at Tiffany’s print, but Mark thought that was a bit “too much.”  So I scoured the Interwebs looking for something that we could not only agree on looks wise, but also wouldn’t break the bank.  Entire, this lovely lady from Urban Outfitters.


Blingy?  Check.  Mark approved?  Check.  Easy on the wallet?  Check.  We had ourselves a winner.  It is a great deal at $59 + free shipping but it didn’t come with a cord kit so we grabbed this guy from Lowes to make it a pendant instead of a chandelier.  Then Mark got to work installing and when he was done, viola!


And here’s how it looks with the rest of the room.


Looking good, amirite?  We love how much more light it puts out, how much better looking it is, and the cool shadow that it casts on the ceiling.  I think tiny spaces like powder rooms really benefit from the “wow factor” that something like a shiny pendant light or a fancy faucet provides.  Plus the bonus for me is that this little upgrade made such a difference that Mark has now agreed to let me make one, final “tweak” to this room.  I’ll be back to share that detail, along with the full reveal soon, but for now, we’ve got to get back to that sun room!





We’re Jumping In!

This past week we started our biggest DIY project to date; a full-scale renovation of our sun room.  Here’s what it looked like before we got to work.


As you can see, it is an “interesting” space. Our plans for it are as follows:

  • Remove the existing drop ceiling and replace the foot of old, fiberglass insulation with something like this.
  • Create a cathedral ceiling by adding support beams and re-installing the ceiling panels at an angle.
  • Replace the existing jalousie windows with double hung casements.
  • Demo this outdoor kitchen and replace it with a bar area complete with upper and lower cabinets and shelving, and a counter topImage
  • Remove the carpet and the vinyl flooring as well as the sub floor in order to shore up the floor joists and install a new floor.  We’re thinking about giving this idea a try.
  • Install a new heating/AC unite as well as a ceiling fan and chandelier.
  • Paint and decorate.

We started by taking the ceiling down and cleaning up ALL.THE.INSULATION.  I’m pretty sure we both took a few years off our lives breathing in all that fiberglass, but it was worth it. Here’s how the room looked when we finished.Image

By taking out all that insulation we added about three feet of height to the ceiling.  So now it’s about 9 feet on the high side and 7 feet on the low (window) side.  Here’s a closer up picture:Image

The lower beams are where the ceiling was before.  We are kept them there for to help with support until we installed the larger beams.

After we got every last piece of insulation out from the ceiling, we rolled up the carpet and  got it the heck out of there.  I wasn’t sorry to say good bye!Image

After we got the carpet out, it was time to install the support beams.  We used (2) 2x8s attached together with a piece of particle board between them to create the beam.  Later we will cover these in wood trim to make them a bit more substantial looking since they will come down below the rest of the ceiling.

After Mark measured the angle of the ceiling slope and cut the boards accordingly, we used this little makeshift contraption…Image

…and this hydraulic lift to ease the 2x8s into place.


Once we got one of the 2x8s in place, we nailed it to the window header and the ridge piece that is attached to the house then added a piece of particle board before adding another 2×8 on the other side.  I was helping with this step so I don’t have any good pictures, but when it was done it looked like this:


We placed the beams about 6 feet apart so there were 4 of them total. Here’s what the room looked like once the beams were all installed.


Our next steps are to drill 2 1/4″ holes above the window header to allow ventilation below the roof and above the ceiling.  Once that’s done, we’re going to route the electrical boxes to their desired locations and put up scabbing/nailers so that we have something to nail our ceiling to along the beams and where the ceiling meets the wall.

This is a big job so we aren’t tied to any specific time frame.  We’re joking that if it’s done by Christmas, we’ll be happy.

Of course, we’ll keep you posted on our progress.


Viva Espana

In April/May, Mark and I took our honeymoon to Spain.  It was the first time out of North America for me and the first time I have ever used my passport.  I guess you could say I don’t have “the travel bug”, but I was glad to get out there and see a new spot in the world.

We flew to Madrid and spent two days there.  We stayed at the Hotel Plaza Mayor, which was a fantastic hotel in a great location. Here is Mark at the plaza:Image

On our second day there, we went to the Mercado San Miguel which is a very cool looking, semi-open air market with lots of vendors selling everything from coffee and pastry to wine and cheese.  Image

Since it was cold and rainy outside, we were happy to sit at a covered and heated table and enjoy some drink and snacks.Image

The next day we made our way to Barcelona by train.  We stayed in the heart of the Gothic Quarter at the Hotel Neri.  It was such a cool area.  Here’s a shot of the front of our hotel:Image

And here’s looking down the tiny, narrow street.Image

All the streets in the gothic quarter are like this and they don’t run parallel or interesect at anything that comes close to a 90 degrees angle so if you saw a shop you liked while wondering around one day and you wanted to come back and check it out again the next day, that was pretty much impossible.

Our hotel also had a cool rooftop area with lounge chairs and a bar.IMG_0163

On our first full day in Barcelona, Mark surprised me with reservations to take a cooking class at the Barcelona Cooking School. This was actually my first time taking a cooking class and I loved it.  I would definitely recommend doing something like this when traveling. It was a great way to learn about the food and culture, get local tips, and meet new people.

Our chef/Instructor took us to large market in Barcelona called La Boqueria.  There we shopped for our ingredients and learned about the market and its vendors.



Then we went back to the kitchen and prepared paella…Image


Spanish Omelette….Image


An artichoke soup (which I forgot to take pictures of, but was delicious!) and catalan cream which is a Catalan version of creme brulee.Image

Our Chef/Instructor recommended a place nearby for dinner and we were so happy that he did.  It’s called CATALAN and we loved that the whole restaurant was pretty much just one long bar that looked into the open kitchen.

Our last stop of the trip was San Sebastian.  We LOVED this place!  Beach town with awesome food and nightlife?  Sign.Us.Up.  We stayed right on the beach at the Hotel Niza.Image

We checked in and took this elevator to our room, it was such a trip.Image

When we got our room, this was the view that was waiting for us.Image

We ate the famous three-star Michelin star restaurant Martin Berasategui.  We didn’t take any photos, but the link to the Trip Advisor page will show you lots of them if you are interested. the food was delicious and like nothing I had ever eaten.  We did the tasting menu and the wine pairing, the combinations we amazing.  If you are a foodie and have the chance to eat somewhere like this once in your life, do it.  It’s like no other place I have ever been.

The next day we hiked up to the top of the hill where there is an old fort and a statue of Jesus.  The views from there were spectacular.Image


There was great shopping in San Sebastian and we loved walking not only through the newer district that had nice boutiques and restaurants, but also the parte vieja (“old part”) that was home to the fishing port and the tapas bars.IMG_0206 IMG_0208

The last night we were there we did a tapas tour though San Sebastian Food.  We really enjoyed learning and tasting basque style tapas and making new friends.Image

We had a great time on our Spanish adventure.  Here’s the one and only shot of the two us on our honeymoon, guess we had better frame it! Image

Checking In

It’s been awhile since I have posted.  Life got in the way this spring and we’ve been behind on house projects.  But the last two weekends have been full ones and I have some posts in the hopper to catch you up on what we have been to around here.  

But first it’s time for “Where Are They Now? Yard Edition.”  When we last checked in with our front yard, it looked like this:

ImageAnd now it looks like this:

ImageCome to mama, look at that grass.  We couldn’t be happier/prouder that after not much luck  failing miserably the last two years, our early spring efforts to lime, compost, slit-seed, and fertilize paid off.  Some people even told us that our large, shade providing oak would prevent us from ever having a full, lush front yard and we are grinning from ear to ear that we were able to prove them wrong.

Our newly landscaped beds are coming along nicely as well.  I was hoping to add more color with some annuals, but the only flowering plant that will grow in that much shade is an impatien and they were hard to come by this year so we’re living without them.  We have also decided to remove the little patch of loriope behind where Gretchen is laying rather than try and add it whole way around.  

So we think our front yard is looking pretty good these days.  We would still like to widen/pave the driveway with bricks or pavers, replace the garage door, and either stain or completely replace the concrete porch steps, but other than those major big ticket projects, we’re pretty much done sir, done out here.  Woot, woot!

Speaking of done sir, done.  I will be back later this week with a full run down, room by room, of what we’ve been able to cross off our to-do list and what we still hope to accomplish in this little house of ours.  Until then, I will be enjoying my grass!