Master Bedroom and Bath Updates

The last time I mentioned the bed and bathroom progress was a few months ago to show the demo progress.  A couple weeks after Finn was born, we found our groove again and Mike started building the rooms back together.  Mike's rebuilt everything and is in the middle of tiling the bath and I've painted the walls and will start on the doors and trim soon.

There was a lot of work that went into these still-very-much-in-progress shots above though.  Mike started by redoing most of the plumbing and electrical in the bathroom, and because we had most of the fixtures picked out, he also added in blocking for extra support before adding in the drywall.  This isn't necessary, but with careful planning it's really helpful and reduces drywall anchors.

We've got the towel bar on the left above the toilet and the vanity and mirror on the right.

Once he had finalized everything, Mike wrapped everything up with drywall and cement board. 

He also had a substantial amount of drywall work in the bedroom too.  He ended up taking the bottom half of the wall out from the window wall, because of the water damage.  It could have been smaller holes and patched back in, but with all the other work, it was just easier to replace with whole sheets.  While he thin-coated the new drywall, he also took care of all the imperfections on the existing drywall and damage from the wallpaper removal.  The purple walls are actually good for something - seeing all the work Mike put into making the walls smooth! 

Once he was done with that, it was my turn to paint everything.  I started with priming everything.  The walls were half new drywall and thinset so it was definitely needed, but what surprised me, and something Mike discovered early on, was none of the ceilings had been painted! The house was built in 1973 and they had never been painted in almost 50 years!! 

It's hard to get a good shot of the color right now but, I chose Sherwin Williams Moderne White. It's a soft white with a slight green undertone.  I wanted almost white, but enough warmth to let the white trim contrast. 

I'm more conservative with my sheen finishes and always use flat on ceilings, semi-gloss on trim, doors and in closets, and satin/eggshell on walls.

In the bathroom I painted the walls Sherwin Williams Spare White, the same color I used for the white walls in Archer's nursery in our last home.  It has less green than Moderne White and a little cooler in my opinion.  Everything looks very yellow right now due to the waterproofing, but even that bright yellow is still less yellow than when we started!

Mike had already finished the tile on the shower floor and I love the small white hexagon with contrasting grout.  You can also see the start of our ledge/shelf.  This was the compromise after countless discussions after I told Mike I wanted a niche to put shower stuff, but also make it low enough to put my foot up to shave my legs.  Mike wasn't a fan of the niche for various construction reasons, and we were concerned with sound carrying through the wall which is shared with the nursery.  There is nothing more important to me than my babies' sleep!

We'll have marble tops on both the ledge and the shower step and white subway tile in the shower.

On the bathroom floor, Mike has already finished laying the black hex tile, but first he installed the heated floor coils.  To offset the thickness of the coils and the areas where there is no heating (behind the toilet and beneath the vanity) Mike did a thin layer of thinset to even it all out for the tile. 

The flooring was actually installed last week and I'm really loving all the materials in this tiny room.  Mike hopes to start on the shower walls soon because then it'll be a lot less strenuous tasks to wrap the room up!

Some of the major tasks to finish are the trim around the room, installing the closet system, replacing electrical outlets/switches, and lighting.  Since Mike is working on this pretty much any free moment he has or after the boys go to bed, he had to get creative with his efficiency and brought the chop saw upstairs with a hood that hooks up to the shop-vac.  

It took a long time for me to allow Mike to test the babies' sleeping abilities, but we've appeased the baby sleep gods because throughout this whole reno the babies have slept through almost everything without issue!!  I can't believe it, but we're thanking our lucky stars and trying to get as much done as we can while they sleep so we can cuddle and hang with them while they are awake.

I've got some doors to paint and Mikes got a date with his tile saw, but we hope to have some more major progress done in the next week or so!

Introducing Baby Finn

The blog's been a little quiet lately and it's mostly because of this little cutie!

Meet Finnegan Michael, the littlest Danks!

Finn joined our family 3 months ago and has been the perfect little addition.  He's such a calm and happy baby that the fear of managing both a newborn and Archer hasn't been too difficult!  Finn usually hangs out watching and smiling while Archer runs around around him.

Finn may have caught us all by surprise at the very beginning, but his delivery wasn't too bad at all. While my epidural wore off before he came, he was ready and came out before my doctor made it to the hospital!  Recovery has been very mild and I'm very grateful since 14-month-olds don't really understand the concept of "taking it easy" ha!

When we talked about what Finn might look like when he arrived, I always assumed he would be another carbon copy of Mike, so it was pretty exciting when he came out looking much more like me!  There's definitely some of my distinct features like my lips, darker hair, and ears, but every once in a while I look over and see a tiny baby Archer, especially when Finn sleeps.

As for the dynamic between the two brothers, Archer began by treating Finn similar to the way he treats our cat, Benelli.  He would be in the same room and not pay too much attention, then he'd catch his eye and run over and giggle, then touch Finn and went back to what he was doing!  There's very little prep you can do at this age so we just emphasize that all "BABY" things are gentle and there are a couple of things like bottles and the tiny pacifiers that are just for baby.  Archer still steals his pacifier sometimes (it's actually hilarious when he puts them in his mouth, their so small and look ridiculous) but he's been so good with Finn and really does temper his actions around him.

Now, Archer is starting to want to be around him and will get on the furniture to sit next to him, or lay down next to Finn.  He gives these little hugs, which are basically just touching his head to Finn, and they are so cute!  He's even been known to rock his car seat if Finn starts getting fussy!

After working on Archer sleeping through the night before Finn arrived, I was determined to help Finn develop better sleep habits earlier.  I'm not sure if it was some of the things I implemented (like actually letting Finn sleep in a crib as a newborn - I always held Archer and it made it harder to break that habit later), or the fact that he's such a great baby, but he's a little sleeping champ and basically sleeps through the night and takes great naps throughout the day.

We've had some big changes around here with the new house and baby, but I think we're finding our groove and it feels good to make some progress on the house, but also to enjoy these little ones right now.

We've made some major progress on the master bath and bedroom and I'm looking forward to finishing that space up so that we can start on the boy's rooms.  Archer will be getting a bigger room and Finn will get his own nursery!  I'm not sure which directions I'll be going for in each room, but I'm so excited to give them their our spaces! 

Bathroom Demo

It’s been slow-going on the bathroom/master bedroom project, even though we are t-minus 6 weeks until baby!  Mike has found the time to demo the room though and I thought I’d share because it already looks so different.

He started with the fixtures – vanity, lights, and toilet (we actually moved this to the downstairs powder room because it was brand new and both an elongated bowl and handicap height).  He then took the shower wall out, which just as we thought, opened the room up to seem twice as big.

After that, he took everything down to the studs and took out the tile floor.  The shower plumbing was built out from the wall (my thoughts are that they used a standard shower pan and this was built to fit), and so he removed that wall as well.  He’ll move the plumbing into the interior wall and we’ll build the shower the entire width of the room.

The biggest difference is the removal of the pocket door.  We’ve thought of every scenario to keep this as opened as it is now (even as crazy as just framing out the opening so the room is always open – even for two very comfortable married people like ourselves, that still seems weird), but the fact remains the best option is a pocket door even if it’ll close the room back up.

What you also can see to the left of the photo above is the first attempts at that wallpaper removal.  I spent a couple hours with a tiny garment steamer trying to remove the paper.  It seemed to work really well at first with the piece right next to the sliding exterior door (I’m thinking there was some moisture issues with the door that helped the paper come off easier), turned into a nightmare with the piece next to it.  The fact that I was using a dinky garment steamer didn’t help either.

I was getting completely discouraged and even thought of hiring it out (which I imagine would be extremely expensive, since it’s such an awful job), until Mike volunteered to help one night.  His method of removing all the leftover pieces from the area I already worked on was to wet it down as much as possible with a damp rag and peel it off.  I suggested a water bottle and our method was born.  Most of the room came off relatively easy, just a lot of spraying and a lot of patience, but of course when we got to the last wall, which happened to be the exterior wall, we had some hiccups.  A lot of water later, and we had all the wallpaper off and found ourselves in a very lilac hued room!

Like I said, one wall came off relatively easy, and the residue left behind is very minimal.

Then we had this corner, which just happened to be the spot we ended on.

You can see glue marks and drywall paper peeled off in some spots.  I have to sand the whole room and then I’ll do a primer coat with some Kilz, before Mike goes back to skim coat the more stubborn spots where the drywall peeled.  The reason for the Kilz first is to that the moisture from the skim coat doesn’t leas to bubbling and more peeling.  While it’s only necessary in the spots he’ll skim coat, I don’t want any residual wallpaper glue to seep through the paint, and I’m not feeling this lilac color, so I’m going to make sure it’s getting well buried!

   To add even more hiccups, there’s water damage under the window that will need to be replaced – the drywall and the window.  The windows are old and single paned and we knew we would be replacing them, we just planned to do them all at once in a couple years.  This one and the bathroom window are getting replaced during this phase because there’s water damage and we might as well!

We’re down to the wire before baby comes so I doubt we’ll be finishing this project before then, (Archer keeps catching bugs at the sitters and sharing with us knocking one of us out for a week before getting something new and sharing with the other parent), but we’re going to keep trekking and working on whatever we can!

The Master Bath Plans

In my last post I mentioned that our first renovation will be the master bath.  We figured it would be easy enough given the size and scope and since we’re able to play musical bedrooms until the new baby comes we left the master bedroom empty in anticipation.

This home may not be our ‘forever home’, but it will be our home for the next 20 or so years (I grew up in the same home my entire life and stayed in the same small school district my whole education, so it was important for me to give that same stability/experience to my kids as well), so our design decisions are being approached a little different than our last house.  We also have a lot more room for improvement so upgrading the finishes won’t push us out of the local market.  There are many multi-million dollar homes in our town, even some on our own street (even though we’re nowhere near that), so we know that using high-end materials won’t be a waste come time for resale.

We also are thinking about function even more so than form this time around.  Not to say I’m not making sure I’m making everything look good, I’m focused more on how we use our home, then looking at how I want it to look.

For example, I shed a lot of hair (weird tidbit to share, but hear me out), I have don’t have as thick of hair as I used to, but I have lots of it, and with postpartum hormones, I lose even more.  Mike’s constantly complaining about all the hair after I blow-dry.  Because of this, I knew I wanted darker tile to hide this fact until I’m able to vacuum it all up.

With these factors in mind, I actually had most of it designed in my head to start.  The room is small and so the layout won’t be changing, but we’re ripping it down to the studs to make sure everything is done correctly (we’re noticing a lot of short cuts here already so we want to make sure nothing is hiding behind the walls that will come back to haunt us later).

The one thing we both knew we were doing was tearing out the shower half wall.  We even mentioned it during our first walk through!  It would make the otherwise small shower feel a lot bigger just by opening it up to the rest of the room.  I want white subway tile with darker grout (learned my lesson in the last house with white grout) in the shower to brighten it up, but also because subway tile is timeless and inexpensive.  To make it a little trendier, and make the shower really feel bigger, we’re planning on laying it in a vertical pattern.

For the floor I want dark hexagon tile with darker grout.  This way it hides the hair, but also adds contrast to the white shower.

For warmth I want a wood vanity, and from experience Mike and I both prefer drawers over cabinets, but with the small footprint, we may have to get something custom made for the quality we’re looking for.

With these items already designed in my mind, I wanted to find inspiration to show Mike because I find no matter how well I describe it, it’s much easier to show him a picture.  It’s a pretty basic design so I knew I could find some great examples to share.

I’m also thinking white walls, because I realize I prefer a more neutral wall then add in color through accessories.

I’m currently sourcing the vanity, then I’ll focus on the lights and toilet.  We’re actually deciding whether or not we want to go full automated toilet (we’ve had aftermarket bidets on our toilets for a couple of years now and we’re thinking we may want the whole experience now – we’ll see!).  I also have to narrow down the trim details which is difficult because it’ll be what we start replacing the entire house with and I want to make sure to get it right!

Mike’s already started demo, but it’s a little difficult this time around working around Archer’s 2 naps a day.  He’s got probably another good 8 hours left, but in the mean time we’re going to start picking up material so that when he does get some time, we’re ready!

Our New Home

I’m excited to introduce our new home because we’ve got so many projects planned that I can’t wait to start talking about them!  We actually came up with many of them as soon as we saw the house, but some of the specifics have changed after living here for the past almost 3 months.  Some of the photos I’ll share are from the listing, and others are quick ones I’ve taken on my phone.  None are great, I’ll warn you!

Brush Exterior
The house was built in 1973, so a lot younger than our old 92 year-old beauty, but at 46, she’s not a youngin either!  While our old house had all the charm like thick baseboards and trim, and hardwood, I’m calling this house builder-basic with pretty much no charm!  That’s okay, because the layout is great, and we can work with builder-basic to make the rooms more us.

I’ll share some of the major rooms now, and then go into more detail when we start sharing our plans for remodeling.  The actual layout is very, very similar to my sister’s house actually, so you can check that out too to get a better understanding of the flow.

The first room to the left when you walk in the front door is what we’re calling the Living Room.

Living Room
It’s pretty large (and really beige!) and has a large window that overlooks the front yard.  The dining room is the room to the right and the kitchen is beyond that behind the wall on the right of the living room.  The future intent of this room may or may not have a TV, but it’ll have some sort of built-in along that back wall with lots of seating.  I imagine this room to be where we gather to hang out when we have people over.

New laminate flooring was installed in the first floor before we moved in, but we have plans to replace all that, install new baseboards, and brighten this room with some paint.  We also are planning on recessed lighting since there is no overhead lighting in here and let me tell you something about living in the country, it gets real dark at night!

On the opposite side of the house is the Family Room, which is situated on the other side of the kitchen and behind the garage.

Family Room
It’s a longer room with a fireplace and sliding door behind the curtains that opens to the backyard.  The door on the right is the garage.  The plan here is to have this the main hang out space with a TV and comfortable seating.  The main obstacle is once we start using the garage, it’ll be our main entrance so that has to be considered when designing this room as well.  It’ll get new flooring, trim, paint, and some recessed lighting as well.  I also have plans to redo the fireplace with built-ins on each side.

The family room opens to the kitchen and eat-in area.

Kitchen 2
Kitchen 3
The kitchen is very similar to our old house in layout, but it seems to work only half as efficient and feels like so much less usable cabinet space.  We’ve gone back and forth on this space and keep coming back to the original layout, just moving everything around, but we’re several years out from updating this space so we’ll take our time and think through the ways we see ourselves using it.

In the hallway between the front door and the kitchen area is a half bath.

I want to do something really fun in here, but this will get updated when we redo the flooring on the main level, so we’ve got some time.  For now, this pregnant lady is enjoying every moment of having a bathroom on the main floor, which was one of my top NEEDS of our next house!

Upstairs are the 4 bedrooms, with a hall bath and an ensuite bath in the master bedroom.  It’s actually where we’re starting our remodeling.  Since we have more bedrooms than people at this moment we haven’t moved into our final bedrooms yet and plan to shift as we finish each up.  All in time for baby in 2.5 months!

The master bedroom is pretty big, with a sliding door to a small enclosed balcony, two good-sized closets and the small ensuite bath.

Master Bedroom 2
Master Bedroom
Oh, and lots of wallpaper!

Master Bath
The bath is where we’re starting everything and I’ll go into more details next time on this project.  We’re working with the same footprint, just tearing everything down to studs and adding materials and products that are very functional and stylish.

The other bedrooms are pretty basic boxes, but will all get new trim and paint and closet organization.

The room we’re currently in will be Archer’s “big boy” room (this makes me laugh because how big boy can he be at less than 1 year old!), it’s also known as the sail boat room, you can see why.

Archer's Room 2
Archer's Room 3
It’s a very big room for a small kid, but we’re planning to have the boys share a room down the road, hoping that they ask for it eventually.  Right now, the plan is to finish the master, then move into there, remove all the wallpaper in here, new paint, new trim, and paint and organize the closets, before moving Archer into here.

After Archer moves, we’ll then focus on the nursery, where he’s sleeping right now.

Nursery 2
The room is right at the top of the steps and is pretty basic, but I’ve got bigger plans for some sort of wall treatment down the road.

The final bedroom is the smallest of the 4 and will be made into a guest room, but we probably won’t get to any updates in there until later this year.

Spare Room
It’s our catch-all room right now, but my mom will be here to help with Archer when the baby is born so we’ll need to get this room operating quickly.

So, that’s the overall scheme and some basic plans for the place.  Right now, it’s all our focus on the master bedroom and bath because of the baby, but come spring time, Mike’s focus will be the barn, which needs electric/gas/water (a little overkill, but ‘if you’re installing one, might as well get it all’ is Mike’s motto!).

Right now it’s not completely sealed so Mike doesn’t have any of his tools there, but eventually it’ll house everything and the garage will have my car, the bigger toys, and all the day to day items like strollers and camping chairs.  We also have a shed in the front which will have all our lawn tools and mower.

One of the last major projects will be to remodel the exterior of the house.  We’ll definitely be going in a very different direction with the color, and we’ve even talked about extending the porch to add more interest to the front.  That’s much further down the road, and will probably wait until after most of the major remodels are done in case we move/install windows.

Overall, like any new project, I’m excited to start.  Not to mention, I’ve hit my nesting phase in my pregnancy and can’t wait to start tackling the bedrooms!  Archer’s sailboat room is much bigger than our old bedroom, but that ensuite bathroom is looking really nice with the amount of breaks I’m now taking in the middle of the night!

Saying Goodbye to our First Home

Before we “introduce” you to our new home, I wanted to take a moment and give our first home a proper goodbye here on the blog.  It’s literally the reason I started blogging, to document the updates/renovations of that house with our family, and it was a big part of our lives for several years.  Be prepared for a very photo heavy post!

Most know that some people discouraged us from buying that house, saying it was too much work and it would strain our relationship.  Instead, Mike and I found the opposite, our relationship was strengthened by the teamwork and communication skills we acquired undertaking such large and small projects.  We also learned that we really love making spaces our own.  I love the design and planning, while Mike is willing (I’m not going to go as far as saying he loves it, ha!) to put the work in to make it better than he found it.  He does love buying new tools needed for a specific job, and learning the skills needed!  The success we found from our first house is what motivates us with our new home.

I’ll start with some of the listing photos.  We used a broker to sell our house, and while it’s not completely “by owner”, you pay a flat rate of a couple hundred dollars to have them list the house and you do all the work after that.  I took all the photos and let me tell you, photographing an entire house while living there with a baby is no joke!  Each time we focused on a room, the surrounding rooms became dumping grounds for all the “actual people live here” items.  It was similar to the way I photograph for the blog, but I tried to pair down on the “stuff” and let the rooms breath a little to show off the space.

I never did show the guest room converted to the office, mostly because it was never really completed, but I cleaned all the actual crafting out to make it a clean as possible.

We listed on a Thursday afternoon and by Friday we had 2 over-asking offers!  We had planned on an Open House that Sunday, but ended up canceling after accepting an offer.

Since we already had purchased our new house, we moved out within a week or two and before the new owner’s took possession, I walked through and took some photos of the empty house (unfortunatly, I was coming back from a dr. appt and only had my iPhone).  What some would think would be a sad moment wasn’t really for me.  I’ve talked about it a lot with Mike but I don’t miss our house. I know!  I miss living in a completed space, of course! But, this house was a great chapter in our lives and I’ll look back with really great memories, but I look forward to creating new memories in our new home.

There were great moments in our lives that happened here.  We got engaged and married while living here.  We hosted dozens of parties.  Mike started homebrewing.  Of course, we brought our son home in this house, but he was there for such a short time, it doesn’t feel like he was that much of a part of it.  This house was exactly what we needed for that time in our life.  But, we went in knowing it was only our starter home and we would be moving on to a bigger space with more land.  I’ll miss the neighbors and the proximity to certain things, but we’re more than happy to give this baby over to another young couple starting their lives (sidenote: the new owner’s are a young engaged couple so I can say with experience that this house will be perfect for them!).

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Like I said, I will miss all the experiences and memories made here, but I’m looking forward to the new ones we’ll be making!