Monday, February 28, 2011

Before and After

Let's start with the basics. We changed the layout. A lot. The easiest way to illustrate is to show you. Thus, here are the basic plans from before and after.

Layout before:
Old Layout

Layout after:
New layout

Living room before
Living Room

Dining room before
Dining Room

Living and dining room after

View from kitchen

Kitchen before



Kitchen after



One Bathroom before


Two Bathrooms after

Master bath

Master bath

Guest bath

Guest bath

Master bedroom before


Master bedroom after

Master bedroom

Master bedroom

Formerly the porch
Front Patio

Now the foyer


View from the living room into the kitchen and dining space

View from living room

Tuesday, February 22, 2011


If I review the year leading up to my 34th birthday, it was pretty stressful.
The spouse spent the first four months of 2010 working in Baltimore (boo!). Then he came home (yay!). He worked for a few weeks, then lost his job because the company went under (boo!). He decided to start his own company (yay!) and be his own boss. He partnered with his brother, who quit almost immediately (boo!). The spouse also accidentally started a feud with our evil former neighbors (boo!). Thus, we decided to move and bought a new house in the suburbs to renovate (yay!). We toiled for months. Then one of our dogs died (worst day of my life). We continued to toil. Until finally, we moved into our new house (yay!). We also sold the old house in the city (yay!). And then I turned 34.

Usually, birthdays are a BIG DEAL chez McGinniss. CPM and I try to outdo one another on gifts (I'm still trying to compete with 2008, the year he gifted me the Vespa, although, maybe we're even, since I took him to Hawaii for his 30th), we try to eat a meal out at a favorite restaurant, and there is at least one cake prepared. In short, all the holidays that we do not celebrate through the year (Xmas, Valentine's, Flag Day, etc.) get balled up into the Birthday (capital B intentional).

This year was different, and I'm fine with that. The day was an after-thought, we were busy on house stuff, however we did start with a lovely brunch at Farmicia (best brunch, hands down). I didn't make myself a cake until the day after. We decided to go out to eat dinner at the last minute on the actual day (Pizzeria Stella, because pizza is really my favorite food). There were no lavish gifts (except I bought myself a purse...hey, I had a coupon for the Coach store.) I've been saying that I'm living in my gift.

CPM and I did get to enjoy a lovely pre-birthday evening with my favorite friends. The Friday prior to my birthday, an unseasonably warm night for February in Philly, we met up at the Khyber Pass Pub for some delicious vegetarian dining. Unfortunately, the music was too loud to actually have a decent conversation, so we were forced to shout at one another. (I can tell that I'm getting old...we actually asked if the music could be turned down. Seriously. If I have to shout my order at the server, shit is too loud, turn it down.) We followed dinner up with ice cream from Franklin Fountain. My scoop of coffee ice cream with hot fudge sauce made me wish it were actually summer, and not just some flukey 60 degree February evening. (Funny observation about white soon as the temperature hits 60, many break out the flip flops and shorts. Please, people. You look ridiculous. Your legs are white and scaly. Your toes are ungroomed. I advise you to keep it under lock and key until you exfoliate, apply some self tanner, and get the spring pedicure.)

Here's hoping that the coming year goes better than the previous. We still have a ton of work to do on the house. I promise, in the next few days, after I perform a cleaning, I will photograph the place for posterity.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Crash My House!!

I promise I will eventually post photos of the "final" product, the house with furniture, but first, we pause for a brief description of how I spent my Saturday.

For the past six months, as we have renovated the house, CPM and I have spent our free "tv time" watching either HGTV or DIYNetwork. I don't know why I pay for Starz. It was thanks to numerous episodes of House Hunters that I successfully staged the old house--we had two offers in two days, were under contract in three, and closed in thirty. In this market. Bam. (Oh, did I forget to blog about that...I'll get to it, eventually, I promise.) Lately, we've been more DIY focused, as we've looked for inspiration, or just wanted random background noise while we played a game of Scrabble on Facebook. We've been saying for months that we need our own show.

So, Saturday, one week post final move in, I woke with a find some sort of shelving solution for the office closet. The new house is short of storage space. CPM lost his personal closet in our bedroom, thus his belongings have moved to the office closet. As he is a man with a t-shirt problem, I sought something upon which to stack the multitudes. Originally intending to head to Home Depot to return some merchandise, plans changed when the return became unnecessary. I went to Lowe's, since it's a touch closer, and has more to offer in the "home decor" area.

Upon entering the store, I notice there is a release posted on the know, "if you enter here, we can film you, record your voice, blah blah blah." I immediately got suspicious. I've watched a lot of House Crashers. I know that they prowl the home improvement store in search of willing participants. Just as I'm having that thought, Josh Temple and his camera crew pass before my very eyes.

I immediately began panicking. This was it! This was our chance! And CPM was at home! I called him to inform him that House Crashers was IN THE BUILDING and that he was missing our chance at getting a fabulous finished basement. He pep talked me. He told me that I had to go right over to the crew and tell them to crash our house. After hanging up, taking various deep breaths, I actually decided to skip the whole thing, shop for my shelves and leave. Un/fortunately, fate put the crew right in front of my cart as I turned around. And that's how I found myself trying to convince Josh Temple to crash my unfinished dungeon of a basement.

I don't know how much of the selection portion of the show is legit and how much of it is staged. Josh actually listened to my plea (possibly because I looked like a nutcase, and he just wanted to humor the crazy lady until she wandered away), asked me to describe what I wanted and finally asked why my project would be fun. Really? Have you not met my husband? Luckily I have this video of CPM from day one of demolition on our house.

He and the crew watched the video, laughed, then he agreed to look at the project!

I abandoned my empty cart right there (in Fashion Bath--Josh had been interviewing me while perched upon a toilet), and we proceeded to walk out of the store to my car, being filmed the entire way. I was shaking and nervous. I don't even remember what I was talking about...the weather? would they follow me in my car? Then we reached my car, and the next thing I know, Josh is walking back into Lowe's, and I'm meeting a PA, signing a release, giving her my contact information, and being told that they would be filming at the Lowe's store all day, and if I didn't hear from them by 4:00 pm, they had picked someone else. So, they give themselves options, obviously. I get it now.

Needless to say, we didn't get picked. It would have been nice to have been a fly on the wall of the production meeting when they went over their options. Was I the loony lady with the crazy husband? Did I come off as a "plant" since I just walked up to them and demanded that they crash my basement, then abandoned my cart without buying what I came in for when they agreed to check it out? Did I say the wrong thing? Were we eliminated because we live in the suburbs, not the city proper? What? Why? Arg.

All in all, it was a great experience and I love having the story to tell! I'll never watch the show the same way again!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2 for Wednesday

It's the second day of the second month, so I'm posting a second post! Ha. Actually, I just want to document some of my planned schemes/projects/needs/wants for post move in...

First, I need curtains in my bedroom. All of our windows are 60 inches tall. Plus, we have about a foot of trim and moulding above them. Add the 39 inch floor clearance, and I need some pretty long panels, or a shitload of fabric. Both options point to several hundred dollars spent on window treatments in just this one room. Yikes. So, I'm planning to use canvas paint drop cloth panels as a temporary to possible permanent solution. They'll definitely work temporarily, and if I can motivate myself to do some creative dyeing or fabric painting, or even some sewn fabric embellishments, they may become permanent. See here for one version, but different options are all over the interwebz.

Second, I'm enamored with magnetic spice tin systems. But I refuse to pay bunches for something that is so ridiculously easy. Hence, I will probably buy some watchmaker's tins, some magnets, and begin glueing myself up a bunch. The side of the new fridge is magnetic, so that would be my probably storage area. Bam, instant pantry space savings.

I also need a blender. CPM burns through a blender every year. I'm considering either a Vitamix or a Blendtec. The shallow person inside my head likes the look of the Blendtec better, despite its lesser warranty. Yes, they are both ridiculously expensive for blenders. But CPM loves his smoothies. And you can do juices with whole fruits in both of them, so I can get rid of the gigantic Jack LaLanne power juicer behemoth that is crowding my pantry!

Phew, looks like we'll still be bleeding money for a while. Oh well, you can't take it with you.

Impulse Buyers

For the majority of the renovation project, most product purchases were were made in this fashion:

Spouse and I proceed to nearest home improvement store after laboring all day at house. We are hungry and dirty. Purchase must be completed "now" because it's time to install whatever item we are shopping for.

Spouse: What light fixtures/medicine cabinets/door handles do you want to buy for the house?
Me: Who cares? Just buy whatever is on sale and let's go get dinner. I'm starving.

Similarly, many projects were completed simply because we grabbed something that we liked on impulse and tossed it into the cart. Case in point, the glass tile that now adorns the fireplace.

First, CPM spent a day constructing the mantel, and the frame for our 52 inch flat screen television out of leftover trim boards:

TV Surround

We went to Home Depot for something that evening, I don't recall what. On the way out, Home Depot had set up their "buy this crap" section, which included an assortment of glass tile sheets that were on sale.

Him: Hey, that's neat. Let's get some. We can put it on the fireplace.
Me: Sounds good! I'm hungry!

Thus, the following day, CPM completed his first solo tile job, with me providing helpful clean up assistance. We borrowed the tile saw from the guy who did our bathroom tile work. We used leftover slate tiles (found in our guest bathroom) to line the interior of the fireplace, and the new glass tile to do the exterior. Did you know that tile work is really easy? I write that as if I were the one making the measurements and cuts, but really, I think I could handle the saw if it came down to it.

Voila. Looks great.

Pre Grout Fireplace

We plan to put a vent free gas log set into the fireplace (that is, if our tile work hasn't turned the whole fireplace into a fire trap, in which case, it becomes a decorative item only, where I will stick some fancy candles for show.)


Really, the only advanced "research" that I did during this entire renovation process was for the appliances, and that was really only for pricing. Yes, I spent a lot of time on design blogs, but if you asked me six months ago if I had any idea that the house would look the way it does today, I would tell you "no." I had no idea what the finished product would look like. I knew the layout. Finishes got selected as we reached their install dates. We really just flew by the seat of our pants through the whole process. There are still things that I regret (like what I did to the kitchen layout will annoy me for life), but, in the end, I'm satisfied and looking forward to actually living in the house.

Moving day is this Sunday. (Thanks, impending snow/rain storm, for making me change from Saturday. I hate winter.)