Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Memorial Day Weekend

Matt & I had a busy Memorial Day weekend. We finally tackled some of those tiresome, awkward sorts of tasks we've been putting off for a while. We rolled the master bath walls for the third (and final) time, primed the trim, and painted it. We painted the interior of that cabinet I had forgotten to paint. And we also opted to paint the miserable wall linoleum to match the trim. Not sure if it's a viable long-term solution, but it'll do for now.

Freshly painted master bath

In the living room, we (mostly Matt) finished off the edges of the bamboo floors and installed quarter round. On a purely cosmetic level, we brought in a palm and hung the Mexican star Matt gave me years ago when we were living in that weency little apartment in South Austin. Those small changes really make a difference in pulling the scale of the room together, I think.

The living room, embellished

Needless to say, much remains to be done. We ordered a countertop for the bathroom, which should arrive in 3 weeks' time--we'll have to uninstall the old and put in the new, along with its new sink and a faucet. Matt needs to reinstall the toilet, left off by the tile guys. We need to paint the tub and surround with that epoxy finish. We need to buy a new mirror and a new light fixture. And, of course, I need to make the valance, with Ladonna's help. In the long run, a new shower curtain may be in order, as well. However, the paint and the tile were a huge step, and we're able to go back to using the tub qua tub. ("Qua"?!? I must be feeling nostalgic for academia. "Qua" is one of those pointlessly jargony words I once promised myself never to use. Eh well. Perhaps if I apply a metric I could leverage my vocabulary using measurable benchmarks to maximize productivity. Yech. I'm in a whole new world of jargon in the private sector.)

In the living room, we need to do substantial touch-ups to the baseboards and quarter-round and finish hanging the chain for the Mexican star (we ran into difficulties with an insufficiently manly ceiling hook). And, of course, procure some window treatments not held on with tape. The remaining projects in there are long term: make some drapes, re-cover the ottoman with the drapes from the old house, frame some prints, and either buy a sofa cover or a new sofa altogether, budget allowing.

New baseboards for the kitchen and dining room are probably our next big weekend project. Since our walls aren't actually attached to the floor, the absence of baseboards means that any and all creepy crawlies can stroll into our house at will. Mr. Gorbachev, build up that wall! Doing so will almost certainly compel us to get the furniture into a stable configuration, a project with a whole list of sub-tasks unto itself (move Matt's computer, drill a hole through the wall to route the phone connection from the dining room into the study, clean out the wetbar cabinet, move the unhinged study door that's been sheltering inexplicably in the dining room for weeks, &c., &c...). Anyway, I'm looking forward to getting that room somewhat tamed.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Continued Gussying

Master bedroom

We haven't done anything really big lately, just shuffled our possessions around from one room to the next. Oh, and we've hung most of our pictures, which marks a definite commitment toward a permanent arrangement. Matt's been attacking the chinaberry corpse with a chainsaw. It's a shame it's nearly summer--we now have tons of firewood for our little metal fire pit.

It's interesting how our furniture fits in some rooms and not in others. Although the master bed and study are nowhere near finished, you can tell that in the long run, they'll make sense. I mean, none of the furniture matches any other pieces of furniture, but in a slapdash kind of way those rooms looks like they will hang together. Or that's what I think anyway.

Study--the bigger part. The study is shaped like an "L"--this bit is the long downstroke.

I'm not so sure about the living room. We have so much more wall now than we've ever had. Even after we've put up pictures, there are still these vast deserts of emptiness. I do have some boxes of small framed photographs--I'm hoping clusters of those will help somewhat. And then at a later date I'll be putting in long curtains, which may help to tie the top and bottom of the rooms together a little better. A potted tree here and there might make a differnce. But at the moment the room remains a bit of a question mark. The furniture looks sort of lost and forlorn. So much so, that I never sit in there any more. Now I do all my living in the master bed--it feels so much cozier.

Giant empty expanses

Sad little huddle of furniture in the living room

I don't know--what do you think? Do I need a rug? An armoire? A whole bunch more framed pictures? Whatever it is, it can wait a bit--we have everything we need for our day-to-day living, and when we entertain--which is rarely--we can probably just use the dining room.

The dining room is in an intermediate state--it had previously been colonized as a sort of makeshift study, but now that is being dismantled and the whole thing is getting a new personality--half sitting area, half dedicated dining area (something we've never had before). I'm not sure how it's all going to work out, but as there is a squishy chair in the mix, I think it will all be okay.

We've also been working on procuring the necessaries to re-work the obstreperous master bath. We were planning to tear out the beat-up old tub and replace it with a bigger, newer tub (extra deep for our bubble-bathing pleasure!). But when we started tapping on the tubs in our price range at Lowe's, they were all dinky and plasticky sounding. And when we told the tub guy that we were planning to replace it ourselves, he started talking about soldering pipes and setting the tub in sand, and other intimidating things. So now we've rather lost confidence. We're not sure whether to replace the tub with... something or just coat it in epoxy.

So we're shelving that problem for a while, and are focusing instead on replacing the countertop and sink. Naturally, our vanity is an abnormal length, so we're going to have to special order the rotten thing. Finding a person at either L's or HD who has the authority to help us with this problem has been surprisingly difficult--either they're busy, absent, or too snitty to give intelligent help. Aggravating.

So the poor bathroom is in hiatus. Which it's probably grown accustomed to, by now.

Update on the hideous Buick (or whatever it is) in our yard: Matt waited till the car was gone and piled little rock cairns in a row where the Buick used to park (leaving, I might add, huge permanent ruts). For a day or two, it looked like the message had been received. But then he just moved further up our yard (nearer to the intersection with Ave F), where he is no doubt wearing a brand new set of ruts. I ask you--who does this sort of thing? Would you take up permanent residence in someone else's yard without so much as a by your leave? If he stays there much longer, he's going to have squatter's rights to the outer 6 feet of our property, the brazen hussy. The Battle of the Buick continues...

Monday, May 14, 2007

We Have Domestication

They installed our carpet today, apparently (and in my experience with repair guys, uniquely) without mishaps or contretemps. We've already moved our bedroom furniture in; we're both a bit amazed by the fact that we have extra space. We're so used to cramming ourselves into teeny little spaces that we're sort of bewildered by all the extra room. Bewildered in a nice way, I hasten to add.

I think it looks quite nice, too--cozy and clean and comfy. In a bohemian, post-collegiate sort of way, anyway.

Master bedroom

The study is in a less advanced state of organization. We have to assemble the desk Matt will be using, and we can't find the little nubby things that hold up the shelves in the bookcases, so everything in the study is still very provisional, and we haven't brought in most of the boxes yet.

In one of Fortune's funny little reversals, the rooms we were just starting to domesticate--the living room, kitchen, and dining room--are now totally wrecked, while the master bed and study are the homey ones.

As you can tell from the pix, we have yet to replace any of the baseboards. That's one of our next big projects, along with finishing off the bamboo floor edges and refurbishing the master bath. And one of these days we'll have to do substantial paint touch-ups. Though I'm hoping that if I leave a tooth beneath my pillow or clack my heels together three times, my fairy godmother will just take care of it for me.

On another note, we learned something interesting about the chinaberry in our backyard. We thought that all along it had been holding up the crooked old treehouse. In fact, as Matt discovered when he pulled down the treehouse today, it was the other way around. Shortly after he finished his demolition job, he heard this funny cracking noise and half of the tree came falling down. Fortunately, no people or things were harmed--other than the chinaberry, anyway.
Chinaberry, we hardly knew yeh.

So now we have two large mostly dead trees to pull down: the chinaberry and an ash. Sure is great being married to a guy who's handy with a chainsaw! And we're now in the market for the largest, fastest-growing shade trees we can find.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

1 Step Forward, 2 Steps Back

Everyone Do the Furniture Shuffle...

Matt & I pulled everything out of the master bed, study, and guest room today to clutter up the living room, kitchen, master bath, and dining room. Just when we were starting to get things in the front of the house sort of under control. But we accomplished our moving in only about 2 hours, to my own amazement. I think this is probably attributable to Matt, who is very good at gritting his teeth and just doing unpleasant tasks, while I malinger and muck about.

I'll let you know how the carpet goes tomorrow. We are approaching completion! (Sort of.)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Little Updates

I've been out of touch, but the big dramatic improvements (except the long-awaited carpet) are pretty much over, and the small, incremental changes we've been making just haven't seemed blog-worthy.

For instance: last night we installed a paper towel holder, partially fixed the kitchen fluorescent light, installed the kitchen clock, and broke that weird little over-the-door fixture. (Oops. Apparently, I didn't do a very good job screwing the globe back on. In my defense, it's hard to do when the fixture is over your head and you can't see what you're doing. Was ugly anyway. Now have an incontrovertible excuse for replacing it.)

See paper towel holder to the far left and clock in center, admire general cleanliness of counter-top, and note freshly mopped floor. Will be adding another mug rack tonight!

This morning I cleaned and installed our old kitchen garbage can, put another coat of paint on the bathroom shutters, and put away some more kitchen clutter. The worst of it is, in a photograph it doesn't really look much different from the photo I posted 2 weeks ago. You'll have to trust me when I say that in person it looks much more spacious, organized, and attractive.

In the living room, we finally upgraded to an actual bed instead of the sofa bed. Yay real mattress! As you can see, we also moved in my dresser. I'm so comfortable living in the den, I'm not really sure why we should bother moving all of our chattel into the master bed once the carpet arrives. Perhaps because our bedspread clashes with the sofa? On the other hand, the blue accents on the headboard do match the tape on my "window treatments."

Here's the view of our front porch from the living room. Nice, no? Funnily enough, the driveway and sidewalks are arranged in such a way that no one ever uses our front door, however attractive it may be. The previous tenants were so comfortable with this arrangement, that when they installed the house's 1 doorbell, they chose to put it on the kitchen door instead of the front door.

Front porch as seen from living room

Front porch as seen from the street.

Matt put about half of our potted plants on the front porch, which I think makes it look wonderfully lush and verdant. I have been resisting major painting projects (like finishing the master bath), but here you can see evidence of one of my smaller jobs, painting the bathroom's interior shutters. A job, by the way, that the vengeful gods could have easily bestowed as a fitting punishment on Tantalus or Sisyphus. It's a painstaking, slow, sort of a task, and the end result looks depressingly glumpy and amateurish. They're such tight, crowded surfaces that every brushstroke leaves blobs and drops all over adjacent pieces, and when you clean those pieces up, you scrape the paint you just applied to the first surface or spread more blobs elsewhere. It's the sort of time-consuming, fiddly work only a bonsai cultivator or rubix-cube protegy could stomach.

The much-hyped carpet is to be installed Monday, by the way. Huzzah! Carpet!
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