Florida Living (Room)

Monday, August 22, 2016

Thanks to one of my sweet friends asking me how my house was coming (but not in a nagging way, just a sweetly curious way), I was motivated to FINALLY finish up my living room so I would have an answer for her!



For the first few months, it was kind of a mess.  Seriously... I can't believe I'm about to show this, but...


Up until this weekend, my living room looked like this.  For months.  Including that time two friends from work stopped by when the plumber ran late and I couldn't make our lunch date.  Eeek!  So unacceptable.  So messy!  But real talk - sometimes life gets in the way when you move (and sometimes when you don't) and your living room looks like this.  When it starts to stress you out, though, it's time to take off the blinders and deal with it.

So, two weekends ago, I took my too many, too oversized sofa pillows to Goodwill.  I don't miss them.  I had way too many because I was worried my sofas would look empty with just two or three pillows on them.  Of course, with so many throw pillows, you could hardly sit on the actual sofas, and they just ended up on the floor.  And then my couches really were empty!  I swapped them out with these:



and my personal favorite (because tassels! and a camel!)


So much better!

Then this weekend, I got a trash bag and threw away the vast majority of the crap on the table - old mail, part of a light kit left over from repairing the ceiling fan, a copy of The Bluebook...  Ok, that last one, I put in the bookcase.  What if I suddenly have to brief to the Supreme Court?  Obviously, I won't have time to order a new one!


Sort of off topic, but Charlie Daniels, the fiddle leaf fig who you may remember from Instagram, is still clinging to life. He's been on my front porch since I moved and was better off for it. So I brought him inside to kill him slowly and properly in the random niche.  His twin is still soaking up the sun on the patio, though, and I'm sure will be avenging his brother's death in due time. Coming to theaters Memorial Day 2017 - The Black Thumb Part II: Revenge of the Tree Twin.

Ok, back on topic.  Next job? New sofa covers.  The ones that were on there photographed decently, but up close? Nasty.  I love my dogs but their little feet, coupled with the nastiness of a moving truck, meant they just weren't salvageable.  I had the Blekinge white covers for my trusty Ektorp sofas.  They're kind of awesome.  Unfortunately, those covers were discontinued like two years ago.  Because I'm a planner, though, I had a spare set stored under my sofa.  Yusssss.  However, using my spares and tossing my old ones meant - gasp - no more spares.  And I ended up not being smart and having a spare ottoman cover.  Since that's where the girls love to hang out, that was the nastiest.  A trip to Ikea was in order.

Fortunately, Ikea didn't leave us white sofa lovers out in the cold.  Their Vittaryd white covers are a pretty decent match, though they're annoyingly expensive.  The ottoman cover cost $49 - I used to be able to get an entire sofa cover for that price!  Still, white furniture + dogs who are, you know, dogs, means spares were required.  Oh well.

After decluttering, swapping the pillows and the covers, and waiting for some halfway decent light...

[The ottoman and sofa really do look like the same color in person. Not sure what's going on here.]


And then the same thing happened that usually happens - things devolved into a puppy photoshoot.  So I leave you with this:


Winnie says if you're ever in St. Pete, come visit.  She might even let you sit on her sofa.

Kitchen Reveal!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016


Behold!  My new kitchen in all her glory!  (Ignore the one missing cabinet pull.)  I am so in love with this space.  It is the one room in the house that is totally done, in order, and doesn't stress me out when I walk into it.


I promised y'all some details about the project, including numbers.  I'm a woman of my word, let's dive in.

Appliances
I was pretty choosy when it came to my appliances.  I had a few requirements right off the bat.  For starters, since the kitchen small (approximately 11 ft x 10 ft), I knew I wanted an over the range microwave.  Second, I wanted an electric, glasstop stove.  I know a lot of people prefer gas, but I like how easy to clean glasstops are.  I don't cook a whole lot anyway, so I don't need the precise heat control proponents of gas stoves advocate for.  Finally, I wanted a counter-depth refrigerator.


The fridge ended up being the hardest thing to choose. Most counter-depth fridges have the freezer on the bottom, which is a style I don't like.  I looked long and hard and finally settled on this Whirlpool refrigerator from HH Gregg.  A surprise favorite - the ice cube shape! They're little pyramids!  Once I narrowed down the fridge I wanted, the rest was pretty easy.  I went with the stove with the extra big window and the storage drawer instead of the warming tray.

There wasn't a dishwasher in the house when I bought it (and technically, there still isn't - I have to get the plumber back out to hook it up), and for resale purposes, that was one of the major parts of the kitchen design.  It is surprisingly difficult to fit a full sized dishwasher into a U-shaped 11 ft x 10ft kitchen.  My kitchen designer worked so hard to make that happen, and she managed to make it work! We had to cheat the drawers next to the stove a fraction of an inch over to accommodate the handle of the dishwasher, but it all worked out in the end!  So if you go for this model, be aware that the handle does stick out a fair amount.

The appliances with delivery and extended warranties cost $3,002.94.  The installation of the appliances cost an additional $325.00.  All in for appliances = approximately $3,330.  I'm not factoring in the plumbing and electrical issues that were unique to my place that had to be dealt with to get the kitchen ready for install - I had a random old gas pipe that had to get removed and my outlets were not in the right places for this configuration.  Correcting those issues cost about another $1400, putting us at $4,700.


Cabinets
I got estimates from three different companies.  The first was for the entire kitchen at a gutwrenching $23,000.  Considering that my original budget for the renovation of the entire house was $25,000, that was just a no-go.  The next estimate was from the same company that I ultimately bought my countertops from.  It was for 42" uppers without any crown moulding.  I don't remember the exact quote, but I believe it was around $5,000.  As I mentioned before, I decided to go with McCabinet in Largo, Florida.  I loved my designer Brooke.  She was really able to match my desire for high-end features like soft close hinges and drawers and a hidden trashcan while keeping things in line with my budget.

The cabinets including installation and hardware cost $6,550, putting our running total at $11,250.

Countertops
I went back and forth on the counters.  I loved the look of marble, as seen on countless blogs and home makeover shows, but my practical side just wouldn't let me pull the trigger, especially in a house that isn't my forever home.  I still wanted something with lots of white, though, which eventually led me to Brown Fantasy.

Menlo Park New Construction

It had a lot of movement and was still pretty white.  I went into the granite store (Granite Depot in St. Petersburg, Florida) and walked out to choose my slab when I saw something that stopped me in my tracks.  It was labeled "Navajo White," but it's a quartzite, not the granite that pops up when you search for that name.  It might be Super White Quartzite or Glacier White Quartzite, I'm really not sure.


The countertops cost around $2400 - I can't find the receipt right now and for some reason, it's not popping up on any of my credit card histories, so I'm just guessing.  It was definitely under $3000.  I know it was $69/square foot and I had around 34 square feet, so that match checks out, right?  Hey, I'm a lawyer, not an accountant!  Now we're at $13,650.

The Extras
The lighting fixture was a bargain find at Home Depot - a mere $80!  It's by Hampton Bay and is part of the Tallarook collection.  The faucet is the Lyndhurst by Glacier Bay.  My mom wasn't keen on Glacier Bay; she wanted me to get Delta or Moen.  I had my heart set on a bridge style faucet for that rustic country look, and Glacier Bay's version was $150 as compared to Moen's $1000 version.  The pulls were included with the cost of my cabinets, but in case you're looking for a source, they're Oil-rubbed Bronze by Amerock.  I think they cost around $3.00/pull, as that was my hardware allowance.  I also had to pay about $300 to do some plaster repair as a result of the electrical work mentioned above.

So the grand total for my top to bottom kitchen makeover: $14,180.  I'm not included things like paying the random Craigslist guy to tear out my old cabinets, paying the city to haul the old cabinets and countertops off, and refinishing the floors.  Oh!  And I had to move a ceiling vent that was in the way of my upper cabinets.  So let's round up and say $15,000.  So there you have it.  From this...


To this...


For $15,000.  I still plan on doing a little more work, like adding a backsplash, which will send the final bill up a little higher, but it's finally functional!  Hooray!

If you have any questions, please feel free to leave me a comment and I'll try to answer them as best I can.  I have a really fun post coming up about incorporating color into a neutral kitchen - white doesn't have to feel sterile - so check back soon!

Kitchen Status Update

Friday, May 13, 2016

If you've been following me on Instagram, some of this is old news.  I've officially moved into the house. I've been in about two weeks and it is, in a word, chaos.  Seriously.  I look like a hoarder.  The good news is that my kitchen cabinets are supposed to be finished tomorrow!





Seriously, I can't believe the transformation, and it's not even finished.  When I look at what I started with and how far it's come already, it still boggles my mind.  I'm so ready to get the doors and drawers installed so I can start putting things away.  My life is a game of Tetris right now - everything has to fit together very carefully or all is lost.

Once the kitchen is properly finished, I'll put together a single post with all my sources and number crunching (because we all want to know what kitchen renos actually cost, right?).  In the meantime, though, I'll tell you that the cabinets are Desoto White Shaker cabinets. I'm not sure who the manufacturer is, but a quick Google search for "Desoto White Shaker" pulls up plenty of results for these same cabinets.  The boxes are all wood, which was important to me from a durability standpoint.  I didn't want to cheap out on the boxes and have an inferior product that wouldn't hold up (literally).  One thing I did compromise on was that the fronts are MDF.  Honestly, they look fine, and the part of the cabinet that is actually holding my breakable dishes is all wood, so it was a budget decision that I was ultimately fine with.

My installer was McCabinet in Largo, Florida. My designer, Brooke Culliton, was a pleasure to work with and didn't make me feel bad for having a budget and wanting to stick with it but also get some really nice features.  She helped me maximize the storage options and let me have lots of input.  Several of the other designers I met with gave me a feeling of "this is the design, take it or leave it."  Brooke patiently answered all of my questions while also giving me the benefit of her experience in kitchen design.  Without her, I'm sure the kitchen wouldn't have turned out nearly as nice looking.

Tomorrow, I'm going to go to the granite yard, book a templating appointment, and (hopefully!) choose my slab!  Wish me luck!

Knock Knock!

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Knock, knock!  Who's there?  My cool front door!


I'm a little obsessed with this thing.  It started out kind of blah:


It was a generic stained door that had seen better days.  I could have sanded it down and restained it, but I kind of have a thing for painted doors.  Plus, I live in Florida now and you can do stuff like paint your front doors funky colors.

My inspiration came from a green J. Crew skirt of mine from a couple of years ago.  I obviously blogged about this skirt at some point, because the photo was already uploaded.

After pulling a couple of samples that were dead on with the skirt, I still wasn't satisfied.  The skirt had a lot of blue in it, and I was drawn to the more pure green samples.  The ultimate winner?  Paradise of Greenery by Behr.  


A quart of Behr's Premium Plus Ultra Exterior Paint & Primer in One in Semi-Gloss was just the right amount to cover the front of the door (it took 3-4 coats to get it looking the way I wanted) and I still have leftovers for touch-ups.  

I decided to go with black accessories - door knocker, house numbers, and mail box - to compliment the black handrails and metalwork on the overhang.  My parents generously gifted me an Andersen 3000 storm door (currently en route) that will also have dark hardware.  Ultimately, I'm going to swap out the brass lock and knob currently on the door for a black/oil rubbed bronze finish, but that's a problem for Future Elizabeth to deal with.  Present Elizabeth is too busy humming the theme song to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (heroes in a halfshell - TURTLE POWER!).

Diving In Head First

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The past two weeks have been crazy hectic.  I closed on the house March 16, my mom arrived March 17, my birthday was March 18, and it's been work work work work work (thanks, Rhi Rhi).  My mom was originally going to stay for just one week but I begged her to stay for an extra week.  Because she loves me, she agreed, and she went home this past Thursday.  Then I had a sweet pal who was in Tampa for a conference come stay Friday night with me, which was so so nice.

But enough about me, let's get down to business.

As can be said with most renovation projects, it feels like I'm hemorrhaging money without seeing any real progress.  That's because the important take-care-of-the-house stuff is rarely pretty and fun.



Example 1: Pest Control.  In the words of my bug guy, I had "serious ant pressure."  Translation: a sh*t-ton of ant hills.  He came out one day week before last and spread granules all over the lot, along with spraying along the foundation.  The neat thing about my pest control service is that they spray inside the walls (by way of electrical outlets) so that the poison isn't on the baseboards where my girls can lick it.  Of course, this comes at a price - $450/year.

There were also termites in one of the window sills and signs of old termite damage in other parts of the house.  Nothing major, but I wanted to nip it in the bud, so tenting was required (more on that to come).  $250 inspection fee plus $1,500 for the tenting (not factored into the original reno budget).


The pest control technician also found (skip this part if bugs gross you out) a mild infestation of German and American roaches, which is unsurprising given how gross the kitchen was.  The tenting should take care of that, but the do-dos who put the tent up tented OVER my beautiful azaleas (I was assured this would not happen).



I've contacted the pest control company and will be demanding a discount on the tenting bill to cover the replacement of the plants.  I've got a plant center coming out to give me an estimate on removing the carcasses and replanting new babies.  The new plants will be much smaller than my big, 5 foot tall beauties, but I can't really talk about that now without getting ridiculously angry.

Let's just move back inside the house, shall we?

Which brings me to Example 2 of Not Fun But Necessary Project: Kitchen Gutting.  You watch the TV shows and it seems so easy.  Take a sledge hammer, knock stuff down, put pretty stuff in.  Boom and done.  Except that's not really how it works, you know?  Because with older houses, there's always "Stuff" that comes up.


We found a random guy on Craigslist who was willing to tear down the pergola, shed, and carport and haul them off for $350.  Then, for whatever reason, we sort of kept calling him to do other stuff.  We needed the old appliances hauled off because the floors were being refinished Monday-Wednesday and, obviously, you can't refinish floors that are covered by appliances.  So he took those out.  Except in order to get to the range, we had to remove a cabinet that some doofus had installed in front of the electrical outlet that the range was plugged into.  While he was at it, he took all the cabinets out for $160.  Except he didn't haul them off.  So they sat in a gross little pile on my patio until my mom and I dragged them down to the alley so that the city could give me an estimate of what it would cost to haul them off ($40).

Removing the cabinets revealed a slow leak that had been dripping into the cabinet for God knows how long.  That had to be fixed immediately because, you know, electricity + water = bad idea and they need electricity to sand the floors.  Bye-bye, $135!

Removing the cabinets also revealed some damaged plaster that has to be fixed before new cabinets and a new backsplash can be installed.  Cha-ching - $350, not including the cost of primer (because apparently you have to prime old plaster walls before they can do a skim coat?).

But before that happens (are you sensing a trend?), I have to move some electrical outlets around so that, you know, I can plug in my new stove.  That estimate hurt.  A lot.  The kitchen is going to require around $2,000 in electrical work just to get the appliances able to be plugged in where I need them.  That doesn't include pretty recessed lighting or swapping out any fixtures.

Once all that is done, then I can install my cabinets, which are probably going to be around $8,000, give or take.  Granite is another $2,300.  I figured on about $10,000 for the kitchen, but including the electrical and the new appliances, we're closer to $17,000 (that's 68% of my renovation budget), excluding demo costs and repair work.  Because I need to do that for my sanity.

Project #3 was actually more fun - I got the original hardwoods refinished.



White oak in the living room and the two bedrooms and heart of pine in the kitchen.  There's a bit of darkened wood along one wall, but it will be covered by cabinets, so nothing to worry about there.  Even better, because of the termite tenting, I wasn't going to be able to lay down hardwoods in the master bedroom.  Papa Bear to the rescue - as a house warming gift, my parents are paying for the materials and installation!

My sweet mama worked like a dog for two weeks, often in excruciating pain due to arthritis and the repetitive motions of painting, and seriously, I couldn't have done it without her.  She cleaned the disgusting bathroom (lots of bleach and scrubbing), painted my office and living room, and, most importantly, ripped out the nasty pee carpet.

Never forget.

Y'all go hug your mamas, ok?  They love you, and even after you're out of diapers, they will still deal with urine and feces for you.

Hopefully the next post will be more fun and upbeat, but gosh darn it, the early days of a reno are not fun at all.

Before Photos

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

I've closed.  For better, for worse, she's mine.  After signing on the dotted line, I went by the house with my proper camera and not just my iPhone to take some before photos.  So here she is, in all her glory (lots of pictures coming, so beware).