House Goals for 2019 and Beyond

After all of 2018’s work, our house (AKA Hauslermo) is feeling really good. My make-it-work kitchen makeover was definitely the right call for us, in lieu of a full kitchen renovation. The mudroom was an impactful, budget-friendly overhaul. And replacing all of the moulding makes the entire first floor feel more finished.

At this point, the finish line for Hauslermo’s renovation is kinda visible on the distant horizon, so I’ve been thinking about how to plan and budget for the remaining to-dos. In 2019, I hope to focus on some lower-cost improvements while I gather information and save money for the major renovations to come.

In addition to the goals listed below, there are three big, looming expenses: replacing the roof, the furnace, and the water heater. All of those things are functioning fine now, but I know they won’t forever. The roof will likely get worked into my 2019 or 2020 plans, and all three will impact the available funds for my other goals. (And, of course, this house or our lives could throw us an unforeseen curveball at any point in the game.)

Here goes:

2019

  • Finish staircase, for real this time
  • Move junction box over dining room table and install new light
  • Repair brick tuckpointing – it’s failing in a few areas
  • Landscaping
    • Plant another backyard tree
    • Replace front yard bushes (three of them gave up on life – womp womp)
    • Pare down backyard bed
    • Get back into vegetable gardening (Jarrod plans to take the lead on this in his official capacity as our Food Procurement Officer)
  • Finish guest bedroom – it’s a hodgepodge of furniture and decor right now
  • Eliminate private mortgage insurance (PMI) from our home loan – this is an aspirational financial goal for 2019 or 2020. We purchased our house with less than a 20% down payment, so we have to pay $125 for PMI each month. This bums me out because it’s totally wasted money. I plan to explore all of the options for eliminating it (e.g. getting our home reappraised).
  • Sunroom Phase 1
    • Level floor – because our enclosed front sunroom used to be an exterior porch, it slopes downward (just like our mudroom – it doesn’t bother me in that space, but it’d be nice to fix it here)
    • Install new floor
    • Replace or cover ceiling insulation tiles with new beadboard

For reference, here’s our sunroom currently:
Sunroom

2020

  • Sunroom Phase 2
    • Replace bungalow-inappropriate picture glass window with wall-to-wall windows
    • Install new shades
  • Replace all other windows

On Christmas day, we walked around Ravenswood Manor (a nearby neighborhood that has a lot of lovely vintage bungalows) and looked for window inspiration. I took photos for my Home Renovation board on Pinterest. Here’s our house now:Bungalow Window Before 1.jpg

And here’s a slapdash mockup:Bungalow Window Mockup 1.jpg

But it won’t really look like that because the window trim most likely won’t be white and it won’t look bonkers. It’ll look good, I promise. It better look good, because it’s going to cost one million dollars.

2021 and/or 2022

  • Basement renovation
    • Install French drain and sump pump
    • Finish half of the basement with a guest bedroom and bathroom – because our house only has two bedrooms (and they share the upstairs bathroom), it would be nice for hosting to add an additional bed and bath. It’s a walk-out basement with decent ceiling height, so it would count toward our house’s property value.
    • Reconfigure the other half of the basement for improved storage and a nicer laundry room

2023

  • Second floor bathroom renovation
    • At the minimum, I would keep the existing layout and replace the tile, bathtub, toilet, etc.
    • At the maximum, I will investigate the possibility of reconfiguring the layout and enlarging the bathroom to accommodate two sinks – we don’t need some fancy luxury bathroom, but having a sink for both of us would be really nice

As a reminder, our bathroom currently looks like this – totally fine, but not my long-term goal:bathroom-after-1

2024

  • Hauslermo is finished and I never do any work again
  • J/K
  • I don’t know what happens then!
    • We could likely sell our house for a modest profit, but I don’t know if we could buy a different house that’s as appealing – I’m not sure what, if anything, could be gained if we tried to trade up. I’m happy with this being our forever house, but I will want ongoing projects of some sort.
    • Maybe we invest in a two-flat as a rental property?
    • Maybe we buy a vacation house with our other childless friends? (We’ve daydreamed about a house in Michigan that we’d call The Sink Inn, with SINK standing for “Surplus Income, No Kids.”)
    • Maybe I start helping other people with their homes, as a for-profit venture and/or I get involved with a not-for-profit house-focused charity?
    • Maybe I start an entirely different hobby? Weaving, I’m looking at you.

Happy New Year, everyone!

Moulding and Living Room Progress

One of my big goals for 2018 was to finish replacing all of the first floor moulding, and I am stoked to report that it is all done. A previous owner replaced the original millwork with trim that wasn’t as appropriate for the house, and I undid his work. I’m generally not a sentimental or nostalgic person, but I do feel sincerely bummed (and a little angry) when I think about the historical elements that have been stripped from this house over the decades. I’m grateful some remain (like our staircase) and I’m pleased to be able to restore other details to make the house feel more cohesive.

Here’s when we bought the house, looking from the kitchen into the entryway and living room:First Floor Before 2.JPG

And here’s that view today:Kitchen Moulding After.jpg

The headers (AKA architrave) throughout the first floor are now this Interior Primed MDF Window and Door Casing from Lowe’s – it’s a Metrie product.

Kitchen Moulding.jpg

Here’s the reverse view, from the living room into the kitchen:First Floor Before.JPG

And now – it will look even better once I get around to finishing the staircase (my one 2018 goal that I did not a single minute of work on in 2018):Living Room Moulding.jpg

The biggest change is to the west wall of the living room – we went from this:Living Room Wall Before.JPG

To this, thanks to our contractor:Living Room Arches During

And now finally to this:Living Room Wall Moulding.jpg

I found matching baseboard at Evanston Lumberyard (it’s from Metrie) and I made the window stool myself using a router for the first time. Very pleased with how the corners turned out.

Window Trim.jpg

The living room is coming together nicely. It’s not 100% ~finished~ yet: I’m still fussing around with the decoration. The rug is from Rejuvenation; they don’t cary it anymore. The chairs and coffee table are Craigslist finds from 10+ years ago.

Living Room with Fireplace Mantle.jpg
When we bought the house, the mantle was in a state of disrepair: the wood was parched, one of the shelves was missing, and the brick was painted red with gray paint mortar lines.

Fireplace Before.JPG

Back in 2016, I painted the fireplace brick white:Fireplace Painting First Coat.jpg

When we did our basement cleanup, my friend Kimberly spotted the missing shelf in a trash pile (good eyes, Priebe!). I sanded, stained, and rebuilt the bookcases.

Bookcase Front Sanded.jpg

Bookcase Front Stained.jpg

Before:Fireplace Before 2.JPG

Today:Bungalow Fireplace Mantle with Garland.jpg

The lamp is vintage, the arched mirror is from CB2, and the garland is a Black Friday splurge from Balsam Hill.

Bungalow Fireplace Mantle.jpg

Did you know that people use the term “shelfie” for bookcase photos? I’m not going to do that.

Bookshelf Brass Bird.jpg

Left Bookcase Vase Post.jpg

My teammate Grace (1310 Studios on IG) made this drawing, which I love, of Lola and Doozy at our desk. We put Doozy to sleep this past spring – it was very sad (sadder than I even expected it to be), but Lola is feeling better now and we’ve all adjusted to being a one-cat household.

Frame 3.jpg

Here’s the desk area that inspired the drawing. All the details on our two-person desk setup are in this post.

Two Person Desk in Living Room.jpg

Living Room Office.jpg

We’ve had this Room & Board sofa for 10+ years as well. I had it reupholstered last year in indestructible Sunbrella fabric.

Couch Cat 2.jpg

Lately I’ve been daydreaming about adding a pair of windows above the bookcases: it’s a very common detail in bungalows, but our house seemingly never had them (the exterior brick doesn’t appear to be patched).

Bungalow Living Room.jpg

Thanks for reading, and happy holidays! I’ll be back in 2019 with more – evermore – house goals.

Couch Cat.jpg

Bungalow Entryway with DIY Hook Rail

I’ve been working overtime on the house these past several weeks, trying to wrap up as many things as possible before the end of the year. Deadlines are motivating, even when they’re totally arbitrary. As a result, I have a couple of projects to catch you up on. First up: our finally finished entryway.

The last time you saw our entryway – nearly two years ago – I listed three remaining to-dos: installing a new door, replacing the moulding, and making a coat rack. As of last weekend, all of that is now done!

I bought this JELD-WEN Craftsman 6-Lite Primed Steel door from Home Depot and painted it black. In the end, I probably wouldn’t recommend this door for dark paint. The white plastic grid is affixed to the glass, which means you can see the back of it but you can’t paint the back of it – it has to stay white, which contrasts sharply with dark paint. It’s fine – it’s something I notice, but others probably don’t.

White Door Before Paint.JPG

Next, I removed and replaced the moulding around the front door and closet. You’ll have to wait until the end of the post for an After shot.

Moulding in Progress.JPG

Then came my DIY hook rail. I wanted the rail to look different than my door trim, so it was clear that it wasn’t just more of the same moulding. I bought a piece of primed trim with squared edges (the door trim has slightly rounded edges) and, using my table saw, I routed out shallow, decorative notches at the top and bottom of the wood.

Hook Placement on DIY Rail.JPG

I measured out the placement of my 8 hooks and drilled pilot holes – I did this before painting, so I wouldn’t have to worry about marking up or scratching the painted finish. The brass hooks are from House of Antique Hardware; I got them for 15% off on Black Friday. Emily over at The Sweet Beast also used them in her awesome stairway makeover. (Side note: one time I Googled “sweet beast” and ended up here instead of Emily’s blog, and now I just go there on purpose sometimes. Check out this fantastic beast!)

I used painters tape to mark off where the studs are in the wall. I installed the rail by screwing into the studs that aligned with my hooks. That let me cover the screw heads with the hooks. For safe measure, I also used a toggle bolt behind one of the non-stud hooks.

Hook Rail MountingJPG.JPG

With the rail up and the pilot holes ready to go, adding the hooks was quick work.

Mounted Hook Rail.JPG

And here’s the finished product:DIY Brass Hook Rail.jpg

Here you can see the new moulding around the door and closet. I like how continuing the rail around the corner helps balance the off-set door.

Black Craftsman Door.jpg

When we bought the house:Entryway Door Before.JPG

And now!

Entryway with Black Door.jpg

ORC Week 6: Mudroom Before and After

Welcome back, dear readers, to the season finale of “Marti Makes a Mudroom Less Gross.” Before we get to the before and after photos, there are three more projects I need to cover for you: the flooring, the sliding door railing, and some shade trickery. This post is long, so settle in! You’ll be rewarded with a cat GIF at the end.

Floor + Rug

Back in June 2017, I scrubbed the plywood floor and then stained and sealed it with Ready Seal.

Wood Floor Scrubbing.JPG

Ready Seal Stained Plywood Floor.JPG

The floor definitely looked better, but I still wanted a rug in here. I bought the indoor/outdoor Hodde rug from IKEA shortly thereafter – it covered half of the room. While working on this One Room Challenge, I decided that I wanted something to cover the full length of the room (it’s roughly 6.5′ x 16′).  A custom-made indoor/outdoor rug would have run me $700+, and Flor tiles came in around the same price. Painting or stenciling the floor wasn’t a solution because I wanted a rug to help stop dirt and cat litter from being tracked into the house.

I knew from having the Hodde for over a year that it’s super durable and hides stains well. Long story short: buying a second rug seemed like the best way to proceed. The only catch was that the back half of the room is a few inches more narrow because of the brick bump out. I had to trim the rug to fit.

I found this Instabind DIY Rug Binding on Amazon and decided to give it a shot. I carefully marked off the rug and cut it with my sharpest scissors. (I cut right on the line – in retrospect, I should have cut immediately inside the line because you can see some red on my newly-bound edge, BUT it doesn’t matter since you barely see this side of the rug. That will make sense once you see the after photos.)

Rug Cutting.JPG

Then I singed the cut edge with my heat gun. Because the rug is polypropylene (AKA plastic), the threads melted cleanly.

Heat Gun on Rug Edge.JPG

TBH, this was probably sufficient to keep the rug from fraying, but I decided to add the rug binding for good measure since I had already purchased it.

DIY Rug Binding.JPG

The rug binding has an adhesive strip that holds the binding to the back side of the rug, which you reinforce with a line of hot glue.

DIY Rug Binding Hot Glue.JPG

That’ll do!

Sliding Door Railing

This is what the back of the mudroom looked like the last time you saw it on this blog. In my Backyard Patio, Painting, and Landscaping post, I said “in 2017, I’m going to put up a railing” – well, I didn’t get around to that until May 2018. I didn’t blog about it then, so I wanted to share it quickly now since it made a big difference to the interior of the room.

mudroom-lattice

I made a pair of simple wood posts to mount on either side of the door, giving me something to hang the railing on. Using my miter saw, I bevel cut the top and bottom of the wood so it looks more finished.

Woods Posts for Rail Mounting.JPG

I bought the black metal railing at my Home Depot store – I can’t find it on their website to link to, but it was $60ish. The planters came from Home Depot, too.

Sliding Door Railing with Planters.JPG

The railing is crucial because we now have a sliding screen door in the mudroom. A while back, I found a few jumbled Pella screen doors at Lowe’s. The boxes were beat up and the store employee said they were “last year’s model.” I asked if he’d sell one for a discount and I got it for 40% off! I’ve never bargained at a big box store before and it felt like an achievement unlocked.

Anyway, all that to say: when it’s nice weather, we open the kitchen door and the sliding door, and we get a wonderful cross-breeze from the back to our front windows. The railing would stop anyone (Jarrod) from tumbling out.

Door Open to Mudroom.JPG

That marble door stop is from CB2.

Much better than where we started:Door to Mudroom.JPG

Window Shade Trickery

Speaking of the sliding door: I wanted shades to make it look nicer, but I didn’t want to block any of the light that comes through our new half-lite kitchen door (see Kitchen Progress: New Door, Trim, and Threshold Tile).

So, I cheated! I installed the moulding a foot above the top of the door.

Extended Door Header.jpg

This trick makes the door look taller, which is a better balance for our oddly tall windows, and it allowed me to hang shades without blocking any natural light.

Window Shade Trickery.JPG

Door Header with Shades.JPG

Before and After

Now you’re all caught up! Let’s do this.

Before:Mudroom Door Before.JPG

After:
Mudroom Door and Window.JPG
Before:Mudroom Before 2

After:Mudroom Sliding Door After.JPG

Before:Mudroom Before.JPG

After:Mudroom Door After.JPG

Before:Mudroom Before 3

After:Mudroom Northwest Corner After.JPG

The vintage brass hook holds my errand running tote and this $11 remote control I connected to our patio string lights.

Patio Light Remote Control.JPG

The outlet for the lights is outside under the mudroom. I like to have them on in the evenings sometimes – just because they’re pretty to see from our kitchen – and this remote lets me turn them on and off easily.

Patio with String Lights.jpg

Back to daylight! This is what the broom nook looks like with the curtain pulled back.

Mudroom Wall Broom Closet.JPG

Before:Mudroom North Corner Before.JPG

After:Mudroom North Corner After.JPG

In the foreground you see our dust buster, a trashcan for scooped cat litter, and a can crusher. Chicago has a single-bin recycling program (cardboard, paper, metal, glass, etc. goes into one barrel) and there’s pretty low odds that what you put in there actually gets recycled. But there are people who dig through recycling bins looking for cans: I figure if there are people doing that hard work, and someone is paying for them, those cans are definitely getting recycled. I installed this can crusher last week, and there’s a plastic bag hanging inside the broom closet. My plan is to collect cans and then put out the bag for someone to easily pick up.

Can Crusher.JPG

Next to the can crusher we have some hilariously terrible/beautiful art: a painting our friends Jean and Tyler gave us as a thank you for officiating their wedding; a drawing Jarrod made of the painting; and the original, unrelated photos that inspired the painting. (Jarrod is most definitely not a cop: that’s our cousin-in-law’s police vest.)

Mudroom Art.JPG

Tyler really captured our essence.

Source Material.jpg

Before:Mudroom Before 5

After:IKEA Ivar Shelving Unit and Cat Tree.JPG

The Ivar shelving unit holds a lot – including our cooler, a bin of reusable shopping bags, a pail of fresh litter, cleaning supplies, etc. – but there’s still room to spare, which is always nice! The Knagglig wood crates are from IKEA and the woven plastic baskets are from Target. I use the step ladder a lot, so it’s handy to have easily accessible.

I actually used to leave this ladder out for Lola to climb up to the top of the shelving unit, but now he has a cat climber. He’s jazzed about it.

Lola Yawn.JPG

He likes to hang out on top of the shelving unit, in this tunnel I made years ago or in the basket next to it.

Lola.JPG

Ooof, this post got long! Sorry about that. Here’s the GIF I promised:

Lola Gif.gif

 

The End

Early in this project, I accidentally typed “murdoom” instead of “mudroom” and that’s how I’ve been thinking of this space: it felt murdery and doomed. Now it’s a practical, functional room that feels like a natural extension of our house. Thanks for following along!

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.

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ORC Week 5: Shelving, Litter Box, and Light Fixture

This stage of the One Room Challenge is challenging because I don’t want to reveal too much of the room! I’m saving pulled-back shots for the final post – not that it’s going to be a stunner of a space. As I’ve said, this is a functional room, not a showcase. Anyway, this is a bit of a grab-bag post, covering three elements: the shelving unit, litter box, and light fixture.

Shelving Unit

I’ve had an Ivar shelving system since 2012, when I bought it for $60 off Craigslist. Longtime readers of this blog (thanks for sticking around!) may remember it from our last apartment’s catch-all room. IKEA still sells this series and I definitely recommend it – it’s a sturdy workhorse, and easily configurable to fit your space and storage needs. This past week, I added IKEA’s Borghamn handles to jazz it up.

Installing Handles on Doors.JPG

Putting something in front of a window isn’t a ~best practice~ but it’s the only option here. Would I do this in a living room? Nope. Am I fine with it in a utility room? Yup!

IKEA Ivar Shelving Unit.jpg

I haven’t loaded up the shelves yet because I need to move it to put a rug under it. And, I need to cut better looking risers to go under the middle and right legs. This used to be an exterior porch, so the floor slopes significantly to shed rain (a previous owner put the plywood over the original floor). The risers are necessary for the shelves to be level.

Litter Box

The litter box involves another IKEA piece: a Hol storage table/trunk I’ve owned since 2007. When I first bought it, I added hinges so we can flip open the lid and I cut a hole in the side for cat access. IKEA doesn’t sell the Hol line anymore, which is too bad because it’s perfect for a litter box. (You can still find them on eBay and Craigslist, if you’re in need of a litter box solution.) The holes provide light and ventilation while concealing the litter box.

The wood was looking worse for wear – there was water damage to the top, and the wood finish was parched overall.

Wood Top Before.JPG

I sanded it quickly with fine grit sandpaper, washed it with Murphy’s Oil Soap, and conditioned it with Howard Feed-N-Wax. This product is wonderful: super easy to use, smells great, and makes an immediate improvement to the appearance of wood furniture. One bottle lasts forever.

Howard Feed N Wax.JPG

The trunk also serves as one of Lola’s squirrel patrol posts.

Lola on Top of Litter Box Trunk.JPG

Inside the trunk, there’s a rug to help catch tracked litter and a scoop hanging on a hook.

IKEA Hol Litter Box Trunk.jpg

Lola expressed some confusion about WTF I was doing with his bathroom.

Lola in the Litter Box.JPG

Light Fixture

I ordered this pretty Langley Street Michaela 1-Light Semi Flush Mount light fixture from Wayfair.

Michaela Light Fixture from Wayfair.jpg

The electrical conduit in the mudroom is mounted on the ceiling, instead of being hidden behind it.

Mudroom Ceiling Progress

Painting the metal conduit same color as the ceiling helped conceal it, but the exposed junction box presented a challenge: any mounted light fixture would look less-than-great since it wouldn’t be flush with the ceiling.

Exposed Junction Box

I searched online and couldn’t find any examples of how people have handled this situation. So, I came up with a solution on my own: I made a basic wood medallion to mount between the junction box and the fixture. I cut out a circle of plywood using my hand-me-down Rotozip saw (thanks, Dad!). To get a perfect circle, I used a paint can lid as a guide. Then, I cut out the center of the circle – making a wood donut – which I painted white. (Sorry, I failed to take photos!)

Circle Cutting

I mounted the light fixture in the usual manner, with the wood sandwiched in place between the fixture and junction box.

Michaela Light Fixture.jpg

I’m very happy with this fixture. It’s large and well-made for the price ($120 when I bought it a couple of weeks ago, but I’ve since seen it on sale for as low as $106). Having a proper fixture in this space makes it look more like a real room and less like a storage closet.

Michaela Semi Flush Mount Light Fixture.jpg

Still on my to-do list: cut and bind a rug, organize the storage shelves, touch up paint, add some baseboard, and install a fun thing for Lola.

Bye for now – see you next week!

Previous ORC posts:

You can check out all the other guest participants on the ORC website.
New posts go up every Thursday.

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