Fuck it, Let's Start the Front Room

The list for this year has already been completely thrown out the window, so what the hell, let's keep on fucking with it. Originally this room was probably going to be one of the last rooms we touched in the house, but we're always up for a change of plans :)

Now that the A's season is over I'll be working a lot less, especially until work with my brother's company gets going full-time. Until then, I'm still the part-time job aficionado (at the moment I've got 3), but without the A's, that gives me more free time. So, to keep me from going insane (or more insane than I have already gone) I thought it would be a good idea to start a project on the house that I could tackle mostly myself from start to finish. I have a tendency to be really hard on myself, but at the same time also depend on Chris' expertise for a lot of the projects around the house. The front room doesn't need nearly as much heavy duty work, so I figured it was something I could tackle mostly on my own, and hopefully it will give me a real sense of personal accomplishment.

And with that, let's talk about the plans for the front room

I have of course started a long list of ideas and projects in my notebook. Some of them are wishes, some are maybes, and some have to get done.

The first on the maybe would be refinishing the floors, which you can see are very spotty

Eventually all the floors throughout the house will get refinished (a darker, warmer color), but we're not sure if we'll refinish them in this room now. It would certainly make sense and be easier, but we may be too lazy and do it later :)

This small wall will get a little freshen up

We refinished this hutch we bought at Urban Ore almost 2 years ago and I'm thinking a fun, bright pop of color on the top and maybe some new hardware will brighten it up. Also, I'll do a collage of some of the smaller pieces of artwork we have on the wall. We got the NYY pic about 5-6 years ago, and I'm not sure how I feel about it anymore. Especially because we've got a lot of meaningful artwork around that we'd like to put up (a great drawing Chris did when he was little that his mom framed really nicely for his bday is a favorite of mine).

This small sliver of a wall will similarly just get a minor spruce up

What, you don't like the paint swatches? We've got some great vintage national park posters that we'll put as a grid.

The bookcases?

I'm thinking I may paint the back of these white. The rest of the room will be a deeper, dirty, purple/blue gray shade (again, I explain paint colors excellently), so I thought the built-ins might be nice with a white back to brighten them up and make them pop.

This wall also has a great doorway into the office

With a great relief above the door

The relief will get a lot more emphasis with a white background and slightly-deeper-than-the-walls shade as the dimensional parts. I'm excited, but I know it will take a lot of time to get done. Lots of work with a little paint brush.

The two random speakers?

They'll get taken down.

The great corbels throughout the room...

...will get a coat of high gloss white.

And unfortunately the great beams on the ceiling got painted by an idiot and there is paint the shade of the wall color on them

So I'll have to remove the paint and possibly re-stain parts of the beams.

The area by our workout stuff won't have too much done to it

Some paint and better curtains (all the curtains now are hand-me-downs from family) and something for storage for our weights that will most likely go in this corner

I'll probably work with Chris to design something that's small and practical to hold our free weights, etc.

The best part of the room, I think, is the fireplace

This portion of the wall (it pops out from the rest of the wall of this room) will get a coat of the same slightly-darker-than-the-rest-of-the-room shade that the relief will be getting.

I LOVE the detail and the great arch (and don't worry, we're fixing -ie removing - the wiring too)

I'm still brainstorming the art that will go above the arch, but I've got some pretty solid (and cost effective) ideas.

The bottom portion needs some more work

The ground in front of it needs tile or other cover

That concrete ain't so pretty.

The surround is broken and is buckling, and the screen needs some sprucing up

A coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint should do the trick, but I'm not sure about that buckling :(

The most challenging part about this room will probably be the work that needs to be done to repair the ceiling and walls. In old homes they sometimes covered plaster walls with canvas to help prevent visible cracks. It has really held up well, but there are unfortunately some areas that are worse than others. This area above the fireplace...

...will most likely have to be cut away as the canvas has really started separating from the plaster. Hopefully cutting it away cleanly and re-texturing will do the trick. Other areas aren't as problematic

So they'll just require some minor repair (and I've been hunting online for some good pointers).

The workout stuff takes up a decent amount of space towards the front of the room and Chris and I were thinking about putting a ping pong table in the back

But we don't have quite enough space. Shucks.

So I brainstormed about what to do with that back area and thought it might be nice to build a table to play games or eat at. We don't really have a "dining area" in this house and I know this room would make a positively beautiful formal dining room, but we're not really formal dining people. I'm sure some are aghast at how we're using the space, but hey, to each their own, right? But, maybe a small table would be nice for when our parents, family and friends come over. It doesn't have to be super formal, but maybe something with a touch of our personality (oh, I've already got some ideas... :) hehehehe). And as for chairs, I figured they don't really have to be matchy matchy, I like the leisurely look of chairs that look similar (maybe in finish or upholstery), but don't actually match. Kind of like this

(found here)

And lastly, the lighting. Chris and I aren't sure if the chandelier is original...

...though I would assume it is. I'm not a super big fan of it and think it really looks kind of pathetic in the space because it's so tiny. Chris wants to save it, and I'm not a fan of getting rid of something that works perfectly well (and is original to the home), but I'm not sold yet. Either way, this room needs more light because the existing chandelier doesn't provide enough. We've got 2 ideas: have one center, large chandelier and recessed lighting in the ceiling. Or maybe 3, smaller chandeliers in the 3 bays between the beams. I think the second idea would actually be cheaper, and I think it would do a lot to lengthen the room and make it feel more grand.

So what do you guys think? All in all I am way excited for this room and hope I can tackle most of it myself. It'll take a while because it will be done in bits and pieces when time allows, but it should be fun and exciting! :)


I Get by With a Little Help...

...from my parentals! :)

Chris went down to LA this past weekend. We'd planned to rent the plate compactor again today and pack down the second layer together, but I hatched a devious plan and emailed my parents to ask if anyone might be able to come over on Saturday or Sunday to help me pack the second layer (as it's definitely a 2 person job) as a surprise for Chris when he got home. And 3 cheers for my parents because 3 out of 4 had the time to lend themselves to the job.

CBH met me at HD around 11:30 to help me get the plate compactor loaded into the truck. Once we got home it was time to broom out the pack to try and get it level and even

Then it was time to get the plate compactor out

While CBH ran it around the backyard I sprayed the water and tried to get the big chunks of rock broken up

After we went over everything for about 45 minutes we noticed some really uneven areas (there was a pretty steep slope near the shed). We filled a few wheelbarrow loads full of pack and brought them into the back in the areas we felt needed to be built up a bit more to try and make things even.

Around this same time my dad and Wendy came over and it was definitely nice to have so many hands helping out the project. When it was time to get the plate compactor going again having 4 people there made the jobs a bit less hectic. CBH ran the plate compactor, I used the broom to spread things out and break up the heavy rock areas, Wendy misted everything and helped break up and spread out the rocks too, and my dad went to get buckets of just dust from the pile of pack in the front to fill in areas that were mostly rocks

We finished up the second round pretty close to the 4 hour rental mark, so my dad and CBH loaded the plate compactor into the truck and helped me drop it off at HD (that mo-fo is heavy).

I think we did a pretty good job with the second layer of pack. Things look more even (though a lot of work still needs to be done to get that last layer of pack really level), and I think we have a good mix of rocks and dust to create a really strong layer

And Chris' reaction to the surprise compacting we did? He walked in the front door and said, "Did you compact the second layer babe? How did you do that?" (knowing it is not a one person job by any means). To which I gleefully giggled and said, "I don't know what you're talking about, why don't we look outside." And we dashed to the side yard and Chris marveled at our excellent job :) and laughed when I told him my parents came over to help out. He was surprised by my deviousness :)


40 Wheelbarrow Loads = 800 Shovels

Last Tuesday our second load of pack got delivered. 5 yards

And because I'm a crazy person I decided to load a bunch of pack into the backyard by myself. It was not a smart decision. My back was very upset with me the next day. I did 40 wheelbarrow loads and Chris and I have started a weird OCD behavior of always loading 20 shovel-fulls into a wheelbarrow load. So at 40 wheelbarrow loads that made for 800 shovels into that big ol' pile of pack.

And into the backyard little mine field piles went

Let me just say: it sucked. I was a sweaty, dirty, hot mess

It happened to be a pretty hot day (reaching about 90) and I was dripping sweat. I finally relented and did the last 15 loads or so in my jeans and sports bra. Hey, boys take their shirts off all the time and I just couldn't take it anymore. Plus, it was at about 2 in the afternoon so not many of my neighbors were home. Thank god. Sorry for seeing my blindingly white belly neighbors.

I got a pretty nasty blister too

But the worst part? It didn't look like I even put a dent in that damn pile

When Chris got home from work he did some more wheelbarrow loads. I tried to pry myself outside to help. But that didn't really happen.

Over the next few days in pairs or by ourselves Chris and I filled in the rest of the pack (plus an additional 3 yard delivery we got for a total of 12 yards so far)

And my blister? Two others have made an appearance

But the good news is that the second layer of pack is done!