Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Paint Color Mistakes


I'd like to think I'm pretty good at picking paint colors, but I made a huge mistake about a year ago. I was really into coral and decided to paint the front hall a shade of Benjamin Moore Hydrangea Flowers. I did a test swatch of three different strengths (100%, 50%, and 25%) and settled on the 50%.



None of the strengths would have been right. The color was just too much for me. I knew this as I painted, but I kept telling myself that having white walls for so long was making me afraid of color and once I was done, I would love it.

I hated it. One day when Marc was on a business trip, I decided to surprise him by getting rid of the coral. I gave myself one day to make a choice about color. Certain colors were jumping out to me when I looked at my fan decks, but I had trouble finding examples of them online. I often double check my color choices by googling them (which is how I found Mrs. Limestone way back when I did the condo bathroom...I was looking for a bathroom that was painted with BM Quiet Moments).

The pink that kept coming up was Benjamin Moore's Wild Aster. A few bloggers used it in their homes and it is all over the internet as the best pink. So I got a sample of Wild Aster and the pink that I liked the best in my fan decks, Benjamin Moore Shell Pink.

Forgive the lighting...this is in our dark, upstairs hallway:


Wild Aster comes off as lavender to me, not pink. Shell Pink was soft, not a pink for a little girl's bedroom, but a subtle and sophisticated pink. The decision was made.

From the first brush stroke, I was happy. When the paint was dry and I was able to put Olivia back on the wall, I was thrilled with how the color looked next to her. It's a great color for her sweet, pink nose.



Now, I need to get back to finding a chest or console to sit underneath her so the front hall has a little more going on. For now, Olivia is quite lonely.


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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Marble Tile Shopping at Best Tile in Richmond

Charlottesville is an awesome place for so many reasons. However, I run into a little problem every time I try to buy tile or light fixtures. A few of the stores that interest me aren't open on the weekend or in the evenings.

When I was growing up, the stores in my town (Ridgewood, NJ...anyone?) would be open late on Thursday nights. If you worked a traditional day or, like so many in the area, worked in Manhattan, you knew you could get some errands done on Thursday nights. I don't know how that started or if the practice extends beyond my area, but it was so nice! Now, my NJ county still has Blue Laws whic means stores aren't open on Sunday, so perhaps that is why stores were happy to stay open later one night each week.

Anyway, sometimes I wish this "shop at night" tradition made it to Charlottesville. There are two stores in particular that I'd love to check out, but I'll never go to them unless I can fit the visit in on a vacation day.

That usually means I shop for tile and lighting in Richmond. A few weeks ago, Marc and I stopped into Best Tile to look for tile for the bathroom that's on our lower level. I shopped at Best Tile when I was planning the renovation of my condo's bathroom, but didn't end up ordering from them. After a really disappointing experience with The Tile Shop, I wound up getting tile online for that project. This time around, I think I want something a little different.

I cruised past the marble and went looking for interesting tile. For the floors, I thought this might be interesting - not quite fake-wood tiles, but not as monochromatic as some slate. It would also do well with lots of traffic and since this bathroom is the "guest" bath, that would be a good thing.


We went into the "outlet" part of the store and when I saw some marble, I stopped. I love the look of marble. Why was I pushing myself to go for something different when this is what I like so much?


So we went back to the marble to look around. I was totally smitten with this entire board of tile.

 

And the "mini" basketweave on this one had me excited as well. It reminded me of the condo bathroom floor, but was softer and smaller.


 Then we learned a few things about the company that made the tile on those two boards. First, that it is extremely expensive tile. So expensive that I don't remember the price per sheet. Second, the sheets of mosaic don't come in 1 foot squares, so the price per square foot is higher than the price per sheet. Third, this stuff is so special that it requires a huge lead time. We have plenty of time, but what if there was a delay? They are the only source for this stuff.

So back we went to the marble section. You know what? It was lovely.



I found myself holding the tile I said I definitely didn't want in the house: marble basketweave. This piece is a little different in that the accent pieces are gray instead of black. Maybe that is why I love it so much. Just like the expensive, mini-basketweave, this mosaic has a softer overall look.


There is so much more to decide, but at least we have some potential materials in mind as we look at inspiration pictures and fixtures.
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Monday, December 29, 2014

The 2015 House Goals

We've made so many lists of house projects since we moved into the house. Every time we go out to dinner or take a walk around the neighborhood, we wind up talking about what should come next and what are the big priorities. There is SO much to do that the lists become overwhelming and we opt to do nothing. And doing nothing makes me miserable in the house.

So the other day as we were walking Baxter, I told Marc that I thought we should just make a list of projects we wanted done this year. Looking at a shorter list of projects might be less daunting and make us more apt to get things done.

House Projects for 2015

-Paint the upstairs hallways and stairs
-Add runners to the stairs (Baxter is having trouble with the stairs)
-Remove the exterior door on the 2nd floor (more on this soon)
-Update one bathroom
-Have the 2nd floor wood floors refinished
-paint the kitchen
-prune/remove a few more trees
The list might seem short, but with us both working pretty crazy hours these days, it's daunting to me. Marc is doing a lot more business travel now and the embroidery projects have increased a lot in recent months.Which reminds me that I haven't done a "From the Hoop" post in a while!

If, by some miracle, we get that all done, I'd love to tackle or poorly laid out closets on the second floor, but that might be task better left to next year.




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Friday, December 26, 2014

Craigslist Alert! A Campaign Daybed for $75

I just saw a really interesting item posted on the Charlottesville Craiglist for just $75. It's a campaign style daybed. The price is just $75.

The pictures aren't great, but they are good enough to see that this is a pretty big and heavy piece. The descriptions says there are tears in the cushions, but I think the value is in the actual piece, not the cushions. If you put a twin mattress on it and some beautiful pillows, it could be fantastic.






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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

2014 Major Project Goal: Total HVAC Replacement

When we first toured this house during the weird open house, I almost recoiled at the sight of electric baseboard heaters in every room. The house had a central air system, but the unit serving the house was just an air conditioner. Instead of a heat pump, the house has baseboards. Before I moved to Virginia, I lived in places with oil heat or radiators. I heard that electric heat was extremely expensive...and our first winter here supported that.

We have so many projects on our "to do" list, but the top items on the list for this year were to replace the HVAC system with one that had a heat pump and clear some of the sick or dying trees/limbs that are around the property.

There were two hiccups with the HVAC project. We originally wanted the job done last spring, but it took forever to get companies to come and take a look at the unit. I always used Robinson Electric at the condo, but the person who did their estimates was not very prompt with communication. We turned to Albemarle Heating and Air hoping for a better response. The technician who came out told us that we should do the job in October, when there would be some great rebates on the HVAC system. Since we had AC, we went with his suggestion.

We think they just didn't want to do the job because there are some tough logistics. The access to the air handler is in one of Marc's closets and it's tiny.


In the mean time, we encountered the other hiccup. We had heard about some financing deals with the UVa Community Credit Union that basically amounted to getting free money to cover the work. We have a couple accounts at the credit union, so we decided to go for it. I filed the loan documents online and didn't hear back for a few weeks. I missed a call from the loan agent and called right back, but had to leave a message. I never heard from her again. We decided to just fund the project without them at that point.


We were frustrated...and fall had arrived. I asked a colleague for a referral and she raved about Blue Ridge Services. I hadn't heard of them before and after meeting with them, I felt like I was in on one of the best secrets in town. Blue Ridge Services is WONDERFUL. Their estimate was detailed, provided five different options for us to consider, and our contact (Randy Carter) was extremely helpful in explaining all of those options. He said that they would probably go into the attic through the air return, which is in the upstairs hallway and much larger than the closet hatch.


A few weeks ago, the project finally began. A six-person team showed up and somehow got the entire project done in one, long day. But then Randy decided he didn't like how some existing things were laid out in the attic and sent someone back the next day to fix that. At one point, a seventh person showed up and it appeared as though is job was the clean. They said they leave homes cleaner than they found them. Amazing.

When it was over, we had heat! It felt so great to have heat all around me again! This has honestly changed my relationship with this house.

Now, the read the small novel that came with this thermostat!


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Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Where Did All the Blogs Go?

It's almost midnight and I'm finishing up a marathon baking session for some of the folks we need to give tips before Christmas. For some reason, I decided that I had to do something more than put a check in a card and sentenced myself to bake pumpkin breads for everyone. Marc contributed some beer and we made gift baskets. Future me is going to love the precedent I'm setting.

Anyway, I had an hour before the last pumpkin bread would come out of the oven, so I decided to give my Feedly a little attention. I don't know about you, but after Google Reader went away and we all switched to Blogloving or Feedly, I didn't read my favorite blogs as regularly. There was a time when I'd scroll through my feed as I drank my morning coffee and everyone timed their posts to go up at 5:55 AM or something like that, possibly because we were all doing that.

So as I went through my feed, there were some blogs that were there, as usual, with plenty of posts for me to read. The majority, however, were dead. Like no posts in over a year dead. It seemed like the Summer of 2013 was the death knell for many blogs that were a daily read. Guess when Google Reader went away? June of 2013. Did people lose their way or did the drop in commenting lead bloggers to feel like they were talking to a wall? Or maybe the other social media channels rose up and pulled people away (instagram...so easy, like a mini-blog!).


That's not to say there aren't plenty of design blogs. There are more than ever. I do think they are really different from the ones I got hooked on back in 2008.

In 2008, blogs seemed to fall into strict niches: design, DIY, fashion, mommy, food, etc. I read design/DIY blogs because that's what interested me. I didn't really care about fashion, food, or raising a family. Today, it seems like the "lifestyle" blog, which straddles every genre, is dominant.

Back in the day, you'd be giddy over some store gifting you an accessory or you'd jump when CSN (now Wayfair) would contact you to do a giveaway on their SEO quest. Heck, we didn't really know exactly why they told us we HAD to mention "office chairs" or "modern desks" in our posts. We were just happy they were giving us the chance to giveaway a $60 gift code to our readers. Today, entire renovations are sponsored, some blogs are almost 100% sponsored content, and referral codes are tucked into every corner of some blogs. So many blogs are devoid of writing today. Instead, they are  about creating an image and promoting a personal brand. If you got to this point without pictures, I'm going to guess that you are an old school blogger or blog reader because most people would have scrolled right on by.


I'm not saying today's design blogs are better or worse, they're just different. Lifestyle blogging isn't for me. RStyle links and selling sidebar ads isn't for me. I started this blog to document the transformation on my condo and now I'll document the transformation of our house. I might not write daily, but I'll write.


And now, for old time's sake, I'm going to set this to post at 5:55 AM.

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Monday, December 22, 2014

Antiquing in Sperryville at Schoolhouse Antiques and Copper Fox

I saw a post on Facebook about a barn sale a few weeks ago and asked Marc if he wanted to go. Since the property was near Sperryville, he suggested we make a day of hitting up antique shops. Marc sometimes does business at the Inn at Little Washington, so he knows the area well.

Though you might not know it by the looks of him, Marc is an amazing antique hunter. I sometimes think he would love being part of an architectural salvage or antique picking team because he has such a keen eye. If I tell him we are looking for something that fits certain criteria, he'll find half a dozen options in a shop. We jokingly call him "Eagle Eye" because of his skills.

The first top was the barn sale, which was small, but interesting. The barn itself was two stories with tons of nooks and crannies. More items were outside. There was a lot of taxidermy...plenty that I didn't photograph (like a goose with wings outstretched and a beautiful turkey).












Marc guided me to the next stop, Schoolhouse Antiques in Sperryville. This was my favorite stop of the day. The store is, appropriately, in an school that is quite large. There were a few other businesses attached, including a bar (brilliant!). The bar has a website, but the antique store doesn't!







The biggest chair we'd ever seen. There are armrests for average people in the inside!





The school house's gym and theater




This way to the bar.



Two demi-lunes together!

The next stop was the Middle Street Gallery. I didn't take pictures of the art, but it was a beautiful building. The complex in which the gallery is located includes a distillery, Mexican restaurant, and an antique shop.


Of course, our next stop was the antique store, Copper Fox Antiques. They are located in a building that used to be an apple packing plant. The place is extremely raw and rustic. The back areas are downright creepy and I don't think I would have ventured too deep into the building without Marc.

I'm going to separate the pictures out by front and back. Here are some photos from the front:





Some sort of game? It was marked sold.

And then the back...

That sign made me sad...clearly left from the building's early days.




I am pretty sure that's the typewriter my dad bought in the late 80s or early 90s.



It was definitely an interesting day! Marc took me to It's About Thyme in Culpepper for dinner to finish the day and we headed back to Charlottesville. We didn't purchase anything, but it was an interesting trip!
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