Painting update

by Stef on July 28, 2014

in Wyoming Home

Last week one of the painters returned my phone call and was ready to start jobs immediately.  After realizing just how much I underestimated the scope of work involved, I jumped at the chance to get a bid for our work.  Quick reminder, this is what we started with:

living room 1

To expedite things and save money, I didn’t have him quote jobs that I could do myself.  We discussed having him paint the living room, skipping the low beamed ceiling that you see above plus the stairs.  While those are both annoying detail jobs, I can easily knock them out in a weekend.  I also had him quote the large vaulted portions of the stairway leading up to our master, but not the lower walls or kitchen.  Again, these are cumbersome jobs with lots of cutting in that would have added hours (days?) onto his workload.  If it required extension ladders, scaffolding, or planks, we decided it was a job for a professional.

His quote for the living room and master stairs was $600, or roughly 1/3 what I expected.  While I had him at the house, I took him up to see the flowers and butterflies on our master bedroom walls.  He warned me that the job wouldn’t be perfect due to the sun fading the wood, but said he could remove them and paint another wall for $100.  For $700 and one weekend, he could finish the work that was stalling us from making any real progress right now??! SOLD.


We gave him free access to the place and checked on progress after the first day.  I appreciated seeing that he put a lot of prep work into the job.  In addition to the drop cloths and painter’s tape, he removed old nails/screws and patched the holes!  I’ve seriously removed at least 75 nails, screws, and drywall anchors so far, so I was thrilled at this freebie (I mean, I guess we paid for it, but I consider it an awesome bonus prize).

We checked on the place today and, as promised, it’s totally done.  To give you a timeline:  We quoted Wednesday morning and called right after lunch to confirm the job.  He started Friday morning.  He had personal business Saturday morning and was done by Sunday evening.  I consider this astounding progress and I’m blown away with the result.





I tried to get some pictures that show the real scope of work involved.  I took some measurements of this room today.  It’s 16′ 7″ x 29′ 7″, making it almost 500 sq ft!  Maybe you have plenty of 500 sq ft rooms in your home, but to me it still feels huge every single time I come in the room.  Sometimes I spin around and marvel at all the space and how we have no way to fill it.

The “low” ceilings over half the room are 8′ high, the high ceilings are 13′ at the lowest point and extend to probably 20′ at the center beam.  The high ceiling was painted (cutting in along that beam! Imagine!) along with the upper walls of the loft/Alan’s music room, though not the room itself.  I’m finishing the stairs myself.  I’ll address the beams on the lower ceiling at another point.

I purchased 5 gallons of Sherwin Williams Cashmere, an Interior Acrylic Latex in Low Lustre finish.  The paint boasts “outstading coverage” which I felt was important given our textured walls.  If you disagree, don’t tell me, but I think the paint does a great job diminishing the appearance of the texture.   Once we booked the work, I panicked that the worst case scenario would be having a painter, but running out of paint, so we purchased one additional gallon.  From what I can tell, there are 2 1/2 gallons left, which I think is remarkable.  Normally I’m a $35/gallon paint kinda girl, but I knew that this wasn’t a job we could quickly redo ourselves, so I wanted something that would last.  Final verdict on Sherwin Williams Cashmere — it’s awesome.

We’re still without lights in this room and stopped by the house in the late afternoon while rain threatened, so the pictures are kind of dark.  Our final choice, Egret White, is somewhere between tan and gray.  I honestly expected it to look a bit more khaki. I think the orange/red of the surrounding wood and tile are pulling out a blue undertone.  I don’t know, I’m not a designer.  My style is usually super white/gray/neutral with bright accents, so the thought of going full-on tan with the place was a bit scary, so I think I’m happy with this color.  I imagine the color will shift as we start filling the place with furniture and artwork… your guess is as good as mine.  I think it’s a good backdrop.  Alan loves that it feels “cool” instead of typical Wyoming warm colors, so things are headed in a nice direction.  I’m further convinced that we were wise to not pick white or gray.  If this tan feels a little gray, who fucking knows how gray would have ended up.



Shut up with that yellow.  I cannot even explain how happy I am to see it disappear.

The first triangle is the outer wall to the stairs and faces the kitchen.  The second picture shows the stairway in progress, which is now finished.  Again, I’m taking care of the lower walls – you can see where I’ve started cutting in.


Here’s an up-close look at the butterflies on the tongue and groove in the master bedroom.  While not perfect, I’m just happy they’re gone.  We discussed some options for sanding the wood and feathering in new sealer.  Since the finish is a bit shiny right now, I may sand the entire wall and reseal it with a more matte option.  I’ll be honest, things don’t look great here.  The sun in Wyoming seriously fades everything (we’ve literally sun bleached a couch! eek) and wood is no exception.


The wood is significantly less scary once you step back.  We decided to skip the trim around Alan’s closet.  It looks terribly anyway, so we’ll just replace it down the line with something that better matches the other trim.  The wall on the right was painted during this same job.

Overall- THRILLED.  I think $700 and one weekend is a phenomenal deal and I’d absolutely use the same guy to do additional work on our place, if necessary.  The living room is the one place in the house that needed very little work, painting aside, so we may start emptying our small storage garage and live in there while we complete work on the rest of the room.  For now, here’s a quick look at the new rug I laid out so it can flatten before we start piling furniture on top.  I’ll talk more about it later, but I think it’s a good “link” between this crazy cabin house and our furniture and gives you an idea of what direction we’re headed.


Btw, lesson learned on the iPhone photos.  These all looked great on my phone screen but they’re blurry and shitty on the computer and I’m embarrassed to post them.  I’ll step up my photo game asap. 


When I shared the house tour photos, I mentioned two potential laundry room locations.  Now that we have appliances in the house, we’re jumping to get them installed so we can actually move into our construction zone.  I’ve also mentioned my battle with decision paralysis and this is a perfect example.   There are so many decisions to make so quickly and I’m just stuck.  We can put the machines in the traditional laundry room or the basement, and I cannot bring myself to commit to a location.

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I know, totally blown out photo. I am capable of merging exposures, I just chose not to.

This is the laundry room/entry at the back of the house.  My initial inclination was to remove the upper cabinets and add lockers to serve as a mudroom.  I know that’s a super pinterest-y plan, but our town is relocating schools at the moment and I definitely think I can source some lockers.  We’re also short on storage of the coat closet sort and have a ton of snowmobile gear.  I like the potential for helmet/gear storage that’s away from our normal coats so they don’t start to smell like 2-stroke engine smoke.  I also worry about laundry piling up and getting trampled by dogs and feet as they enter the house.  If we put the machines here, we’ll have to add venting for the dryer.

On the plus side, the hookups are here and ready to go.  With bedrooms spread throughout the house as-is, I love the idea of having a fairly central location for laundry.  Also, no shame, I’m super lazy about laundry and maybe having it here will encourage me to keep up with things.  I want to start using the clothes line right outside the backdoor and worry that I’ll get lazy about hauling things out there if the laundry isn’t right here.

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This is our small basement.  My initial inclination was to put the laundry here because otherwise the room will just serve as very large storage for a hot water heater and kitty litter box.  There’s a utility sink.  The hookups and venting are ready to go.  I have plenty of room and we don’t need to worry about muddy boots and paws passing through the place.

On the negative side…. I’m still lazy about laundry.  For real.  My fitbit would love all the extra steps that I’ll take in getting our laundry from our master to the first floor then down to the basement.  As I’m typing this, I’m thinking perhaps that’s a plus?  Our old Detroit house had a second floor master and basement laundry, so this is nothing I haven’t lived with before, but I recall letting things pile up a bit more than they should.   I also HATED our Detroit basement because it was dark and gross.  This room is large, clean (ish), and fairly bright, so I won’t be as much of a baby about going downstairs.  Very specifically, I don’t think I’ll use the clothes line if laundry is down here.   If we put laundry upstairs, I can certainly put lockers and snowmobile gear in the basement.

I need input.  Should we do a pass-through entry/laundry room or a dedicated laundry in the basement with dedicated mudroom upstairs?  Alan thinks laundry upstairs, but we’re both stuck on the idea of adding vents and making the space cramped.  I’m 50/50, maybe 51/49 in favor of the basement.


Appliance shopping

by Stef on July 22, 2014

in Wyoming Home

The first phase of our appliance saga concluded this weekend when we finally picked up this load of boxes.  Buying six appliances at once was scary (exciting, too! but mostly scary) but, like the lights, we knew it needed to happen.

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Why the saga? Because Wyoming.  From now on, just assume that’s my answer for everything.

We have a set budget for the immediate work that needs to be completed on the house.  If/when we ever finish, I’ll share the actual numbers.  The budget does not include things like a new couch, TV, and king size bed which are things that we “need” as opposed to things we NEED.  It is intended for roof work, appliances, a lawn mower, adding carpet to the bare subfloor in our bedroom, a wood stove, lights, wood floors, fenced yard for the dogs, etc.  Some of these areas are fuzzy and bleed over into the “fun purchases” realm (lights, you were sort of fun) but they’re all necessary in that they’re missing right now or are general maintenance items for the upkeep of the place.  Unsurprisingly, the budget is disappearing quickly so I’m being a straight up hardass about where it goes and how we save money.

You know the drill – Home Depot and Menards are 4 hours away, Lowe’s is in Idaho falls.   I did some price shopping and quickly ruled out Menards, Lowes, and Sears.  On my birthday trip to Casper, we scoped out appliances at Home Depot and mentally committed that no matter what we bought, it would come from Home Depot.

Brands:  We ruled out GE which I’m still annoyed about because I reeeeally wanted the new GE Artistry Series.  My parents have owned more than a dozen places and warned against GE based on their experience.  In Alan’s words, I spent a lot of years not listening to my dad, and now I’m old enough to admit that I value his advice.  They said to avoid GE, we listened.  It’s worth noting that I finally saw the Artistry Series this weekend and, while beautiful, everything is pretty small.  They would have been perfect in our Detroit house but may have been quickly dwarfed by this place, so I feel a little better about passing on them.

Colors:  I thought all black would darken an already dark space.  Alan was oddly excited about appliances so I told him to pick white or stainless steel and didn’t care which he picked.  He said stainless.  Fine.

Features:  Basic.  We wanted things that would last, but this was not the time to buy fancy, upgraded appliances.

This is already long, so for now it’s going to be a lot of look at all the things we bought.  I stacked a bunch of savings together to arrive at our final number, so I’ll share that (hopefully helpful) info next.


We started here and let that dictate the other choices

Side-by-side, no French doors or bottom freezers.  Given current appliance trends, this eliminated all but 3 options that we could view in-store.  We knew we’d end up selecting most of our choices online, but I felt strongly about seeing the fridge in person so I could open drawers, move things around, etc.

Lots of freezer storage – living where we do, I buy a ton of bulk produce.  I also do annoying things like saving veggie/meat scraps to make my own broth.

The layout of the ice maker on the door – Ok, this is crazy but Radio gets her own ice from the fridge and we don’t intend to stop her  so we needed a setup that she could use.  Thought I put this last on the list, honestly Radio’s ice maker was pretty much our #1 criteria, which is ridiculous to admit.

Samsung  24.5 cu. ft. Side by Side Refrigerator in Stainless Steel

Model #  RS25H5111SR

Original Price: $1699



Side-by-side, stainless, with a good ice maker for Radio.  Perks: the in-door ice maker made for a ton of freezer space and the produce drawers were very smooth.  I’ve only owned fridges with wire bins in the bottom of the freezer, never full drawers, so this is special and I’m going to feel really spoiled.




30″ width (We thought the opening was smaller, thrilled to find it out its not)

Yeah, that’s about it.

Since we’d already picked a Samsun fridge, I started my search with Samsung stoves.  Though matching wasn’t a priority, if they could match, why not?  My search process was literally -> click Ranges -> Gas ranges -> Brands: Samsung -> Color: Stainless or Stainless look -> Review Rating: 4 stars and up -> Sort: Price.  The cheapest one also had great reviews and anything is an upgrade from our current option.  Sold.

Samsung  30 in. 5.8 cu. ft. Gas Range with Self-Cleaning Oven in Stainless Steel

Model #  NX58F5300SS

Original Price: $899.00



Perks: 5.8 cu ft of space means I’ll have plenty of room.  My parent’s place has dual ovens and I’ll admit that I’m going to miss being able to do so many things at once.  The stove also has 5 burners, which is apparently a “thing” these days and I don’t hate that idea.  It matches the fridge… who would complain about that?



I don’t care one bit, as long as we have a dishwasher.  My parent’s recently redid the kitchen at their farm and my Mom highlighted a few things that are really nice to have – super quiet operation and tall tub for plates/big things.   I searched for “quieter” (among the rankings of quiet, quieter, and quietest) and stainless.  I didn’t worry about it being part of the same suite since it’ll be across the kitchen from the fridge.   With almost 1,900 reviews and 4.5 stars, I let the people’s voice be heard and trusted their choice.

Whirlpool  Gold Top Control Dishwasher in Monochromatic Stainless Steel

Model #  WDT710PAYM

Original Price: $599.00





I had some debate here – my original plan was to get a range hood and find a cheap standalone microwave that we could hide in a cabinet.  I’m not going to pretend we don’t use a microwave because it definitely gets used daily to defrost things.  I just, for lack of a better explanation, don’t really care about a microwave.  During our shopping I discovered that a range hood is “merchandise” and a over-the-stove microwave/vent combo is an “appliance” which was crucial to my money saving scheme.  Hood vent was out, over-the-stove microwave was in.  The reviews are currently showing 1 star which was definitely not the case when I picked it, so I’m now mildly concerned about my choice.

Model # ME17H703SHS

Samsung 30 in. W 1.7 cu. ft. Over the Range Microwave in Stainless Steel with Sensor Cooking

Original Price: $299


Washer & Dryer

I am not on the front loading/cool colors/fancy washer and dryer bandwagon at all.  They’re beautiful, but so unnecessary for us.  We wanted basic, basic, basic.  One step above total bottom of the line was actually our goal here.  Our current dryer (parents house, not our new house which has nothing) is an actual bottom of the line and doesn’t have a true cool drying mode, which means our stupid jeans shrink a few inches every month.  With both of us being tall, it’s a huge issue and we’re burning through jeans at an alarming pace.

True low/cool mode for drying

Large capacity.  Huge is better, massive is amazing.

Top loading washer, front loading dryer.  Simple.

Alan kept picking machines that were $899-999 each, I wanted to keep things under $1000 for the set, which is pretty much the perfect example of how we shop.  We checked out in-store models and saw this sale price, and made the decision within 2 minutes.



Maytag  Bravos XL 7.3 cu. ft. Electric Dryer with Steam in White

Model #  MEDB725BW

Original Price:  $799.00


Maytag  Bravos XL 4.5 cu. ft. High-Efficiency Top Load Washer in White

Model #  MVWB725BW

Original Price:  $799.00


Though FAR nicer than we originally planned, these were on sale and seemed to hit all our criteria.  I talked them over with my Mom and she said they purchased the same set for one of their houses and she loves them.  She was also pretty certain that they were $999 each back when they purchased the units, so the price seemed amazing to all of us.  Sold.

Rereading this, clearly we run a lot of things by our parents.  My parents have moved a ton and split time between multiple houses, so they just have a lot of experience under their belts.  They’re also finishing up work on their new house that they built in a barn, so this stuff is fresh in their minds.  Alan’s Dad is a firefighter by career but also has tons of years of experience flipping houses and working as a professional handyman.  He’s a general around-the-house badass and wealth of information.   Meanwhile, Alan has lived in base housing and been through multiple deployments with less than ideal housing situations.  I owned our place in Michigan and it came with the appliances that it came with, then I nursed them along with repairs until we sold the place.  Buying all (or any, actually) new appliances is such a foreign, fancy concept that we were happy to accept input from all directions.  So yeah, we’re 30 and run things by our parents and welcome their feedback.

I think we all know that appliances never sell for full retail, but before I break down where we saved money, I wanted to see the full retail total.

Samsung Side by Side Refrigerator, Original Price: $1699

Samsung  Gas Range, Original Price: $899.00

Whirlpool  Dishwasher, Original Price: $599.00

Samsung Microwave, Original Price: $299

Maytag  Bravos XL Dryer, Original Price $799.00

Maytag  Bravos XL Washer in White, Original Price $799.00

TOTAL: $5094

Our total, pre-tax, was $3285.90 which translates into 35.5% savings!  I’m really proud of this number.



I know this has nothing to do with what we’re talking about here, but I just saw the incoming search phrase, is it bad for a fat woman to go to vegas I know you were looking at this post, an unofficial fat girls guide to Vegas (which was a joke, but also… not) and I can’t not say hi to you, should you come back.  That you even considered searching for that phrase makes me sad, but I also get it so let me be clear – Vegas is amazing, yes you will have fun, and you will have no reason to feel lousy about yourself whether you’re fat or not.  Vegas this time of year is fucking ridiculously hot so maybe push that vacation off a few weeks/months, but you should go and have the time of your life.  Bring comfortable shoes, even if you think you’ll look frumpy.  When everyone else is walking the disgusting streets barefoot at 2am, you can be smug that you thought ahead.

Madame Tussaud's Las Vegas

How much fun? SO MUCH FUN


Paint progress (or lack thereof)

by Stef on July 16, 2014

in Wyoming Home


I learned the lesson of testing paint colors thanks to the gray in our Detroit house.  It was like 2008, I painted the house myself over the course of a weekend, and I didn’t realize that people bought paint purely for the purpose of painting test swatches.  Maybe in 2008 they didn’t do such a thing?  The gray always read more blue than I intended, but I figured ohhhh well, I’m 4 gallons into this badboy, so let’s just run with it.  Repainting that which had just been freshly painted was literally never going to happen, so for budget and sanity reasons I plugged away and accepted things in all their blue-gray glory.

Fast forward to this house and we need to get the bitch painted like… three weeks ago.  We no longer have a Home Depot and Lowes within walking distance (curse you, Metro Detroit, I never knew how good I had things) so while I understand the value of testing paint colors, paint is 90 minutes away and I value my marriage, so it was prudent that I take a path of least resistance of sorts.  To clarify, Home Depot is 4 hours away, Lowes is in Idaho.  Ninety minutes away nets us Walmart and Sherwin Williams so surely you already know where I headed.  I sent Alan, he of little patience, next door to check out wood stoves while I plucked one white, one tan-ish white, one gray-ish white.  With three paint chips in hand, I cruised along their swatch section and swapped them in and out maybe two times.  Done.  Sherwin Williams sells test quarts, not test pots, which is annoying and wasteful, but again… I’m working with what we have available here.  Three test quarts purchased – one white (Extra White), one tan-ish white (Egret White) and one gray-ish white (Frosty White) and we were outta there.   I didn’t even realize I took a picture of the swatches until I found it in my phone, so I’m preeeetty impressed with my pre-planning.

In a house that’s 90% wood, I’m not about complicating my life by selecting more than one color.  I slapped three swatches on the wall in three different locations.  You can see them thus:

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In the photo above – Extra White, Egret White, Frosty White

Pretty clearly, Extra White is just too white.  Frosty White, while I love me some gray, just doesn’t work.  I would be trying too hard to make this house into something that it’s not if I painted things gray.  Alan walked in and pointed to Egret White and I’m all about making him happy and letting him have choices, so conveniently he’d already agreed to my selection.  The insane person inside of me – we can try to call this a “perfectionist” but let’s just be honest here – wanted to go back and find 18 different variations on Egret White, but it’s, at the end of the day, just a fancy name for tan-ish whiteDone.  Just like that.  Look at how this house is making me all relaxed and aloof.

Lest you think I’m serious about being relaxed, let’s discuss the difficulty of paying someone to paint your home in our small town.  I CANNOT EVEN handle how complicated this has been.   To clarify, with the exception of fixing major systems (sewer, heating) I’ve never hired out housework.  Mentally accepting the fact that we’re way too swamped to do everything ourselves was a huge hurdle, so I dipped my toe in cautiously.   I actually love painting, so I have no issue with cutting in and doing bedrooms.  The living room is huuuuuge and tall and I’m not an ideal candidate for scaffolding, so I started calling around for someone to just take care of the vaulted area.  Everyone is busy or not returning phone calls or doesn’t drive 90 minutes from the nearest big town and I finally just gave up.  With time no longer on our side, I took my ass back to Sherwin Williams and picked up 5 gallons of Egret White and started painting this weekend.

I would love to show you a sweet finished room and real progress, but hot damn have I overestimated the amount of work involved!  I feel like I knew what I was getting myself into (see: Detroit house, by myself) but clearly I didn’t.

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There’s really no way to explain myself other than to say that I bit off WAY more than I can chew.  My weekend went something like this:

Sweet, no big deal.  If I can’t hire this out, I’ll do it myself.  I’ll do some cutting in and have a second coat on by Monday.

Ok, maybe this is a lot of cutting in and I shouldn’t do the ceilings right now.

Yeah, that vaulted area isn’t happening.  I’m no wizard! What do you expect of me?

For real though, fuck this noise. I should have just painted the lower part.

This all feels very irrational – like it’s happening TO ME, but I keep rationalizing that it shouldn’t be so complicated.  Part of my brain says I don’t know why it’s taking FOREVER but part of it says I do have some actual reasons for why it’s taking so long.  1.  The walls are textured.  I don’t know anyone who likes texture, but skim coating the walls is just not a reality in any sense, so we’re working with the texture as is.   Instead of a nice smooth cutting-in process, I’m cutting in along the trim then have to sort of smoosh the paint away from the trim to cover the texture.  If you aren’t careful, you either miss spots or drips happen.  2.  Egret white, while wet, is remarkably close to the top paint color (and we still don’t have lights) so I can’t even really tell where I’ve painted until it dries.  This means I’ve been hopping around from spot to spot quite a bit.  3.  The house feels huge.  I know we covered this before, but holy hell now that I’m facing it, I’m feeling pretty screwed.

That’s two failure posts in a row which is pretty much exactly how life/the house is going at the moment.  On the plus side, every time I walk in my heart skips a little and I feel actual feelings towards the house.  I love it more every day.  So I’m not just posting repeat bitchfests, let’s cover things that are going well — Before my mom left town we picked out carpet for their place and our master.  Again – path of least resistance, my new motto – we went into the store intending to select the same carpet and to “batch” our installs since they’d have to drive 90+ minutes to get here.  We both wanted something low pile (because I think carpet is disgusting), with a subtle texture, and light tan in color.  Since budget rules everything these days, I was very upfront with the salesperson and led the discussion with something along the lines of we need something fast, pretty much the cheapest that you have, then we’ll upgrade the pad.  We were in and out in less than 15 minutes.   On our megatrip to Menards we solved the countertop issue by scoring butcher block slabs in the discount section.  The 8 foot sections are now laying all over the house, awaiting time/patience/expertise.  This can be covered as part of a much larger kitchen discussion.  Our appliance delivery was rescheduled by Home Depot but we should finally have them this weekend.  Once the appliances are here, I’m ready to get some internet and just move into our construction zone as-is.  We originally had this lovely plan of finishing all the work before moving in, but we’re sick of driving back and forth between houses so I think its time to embrace the mess.



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Every time I walk into our master, I’m haunted by the painted butterflies and flowers.  It’s cute for a girl’s room, but maybe stenciled onto painted walls, not directly onto the wood that wraps the room…

The guys at my (not so) local Sherwin Williams suggested Mineral spirits for removing the paint which was a great, because we’d already bought a container at Menards.  Our main concern is damaging the wood, so we wanted to start with the least aggressive measure and escalate from there.   I was going to take photos and show how awesome it worked and make a great post but, spoiler, it didn’t work at all.  Like… not even a little bit.  I tried soaking with paper towels and the sponge and scrubbing with both.  Yeah… nothing.

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On the way out of the room I noticed this.  Someone has tried to remove these before, perhaps when they tried to sell the house pre-forclosure.  What you’re not seeing too clearly is the ghost line that still remains and the finish that has been totally removed from the wood.  I can’t decide which is a worse-r case scenario here – use paint stripper and/or sanding to remove the paint then have to refinish the wood, or just entirely paint over the affected walls… which…. I don’t really want to do that.  Ugh.  Thoughts? Suggestions?


Lighting plans

by Stef on July 9, 2014

in Wyoming Home


With so much work to do, we originally approached the house at a pretty leisurely pace.  The yard is under control, but definitely not in good shape.  I’ve started painting in a few rooms but progress is unremarkable.  My parents were in town this week and my dad started installing a heat pump/AC unit for our Master.  Things are moving, but the tunnel is currently long and with no end in sight and the place is pretty much a construction zone.

We made the 4 hour (each way) trek to Home Depot and Menards this weekend and the drive gave us plenty of time to make plans and suddenly realize that maaaaybe our timeline can’t be so lax.  Summer is half way over (in Wyoming at least) and winter is just a few months away, so it’s time to bust our butts and get work done so we can officially move in.  Our special order pickup from Menards focused on toilets, vanities, faucets, shower head, yard supplies, and lights.  While we needed everything on the list, lighting has definitely jumped to the top of our priorities.  Right now we have to wrap up work as dusk approaches because we don’t have suitable light to work into the night hours.  Here’s a look at what we’re currently working with:



We knew the house was a foreclosure and most of the lights were removed, but it’s overwhelming to assess all the locations at once.  Beyond everything pictured above, some of those bare wires are just representative of one of two locations actually in need of a fixture – two lights flanking a vanity, the sconces over the main windows in the living room, two lights on the loft, etc.  All together, I think we’re in need of 22 fixtures.  While I would love to scout out 22 unique, beautiful fixtures, neither budget nor time allows the indulgence.  The outdoor lighting section of Home Depot and Menards turned out to be a mecca for lights that are affordable, readily available, barn-like, and somewhat unique – the sweet spot where all our lighting needs converge.  With just a few “splurge” items, I think I’ve sourced everything we need to get this place fully lit up.




Hampton Bay Metro 54 in. Indoor/Outdoor Rustic Copper Ceiling Fan, $219.00 //  Ivanhoe® Dino Porcelain Cord Pendant Light in Jadeite w/ black cord, $143.00


Hampton Bay 1-Light Outdoor Zinc Wall Lantern, $24,97 //  Young House Love Geometric Diamond Ceiling Light, $79.00

Living Room

Designers Fountain Cape Cod Wall-Mount Outdoor Bronze Lantern, $59.51 //  Jelly Jar 1-Light 7.5″ Black Outdoor Wall Light, $3.98


Vintage green and white barn lights //  Vintage barn pulley // Onefortythree String lights, $105.00+

When buying 20+ lights, finding the jelly jar fixtures for less than $4 was pretty much the greatest news ever.  Before taking the plunge on 8 of these, we bought one and did a test install and it actually looks great! The jelly jars are “filler” lights, going in random sconce locations that no one else will notice.  I also picked up a few with white bases to use in our master bathroom and closets.  The zinc bathroom sconces have already arrived and been installed.  They definitely don’t have the same rustic finish as the product photos suggest, but for less than $30 I can’t complain.  The bronze living room sconces are fantastic for less than $60.  They arrived a few days ago and I can’t wait to see them installed.

I suppose our “splurge” lighting would hardly be considered expensive in any other circumstance.  Were we not buying 20 other fixtures, they’d be downright cheap.  The copper kitchen fan is seriously impressive out of the box.  Due to ceiling height, I think this one will have to be professionally installed.   I’ve online window shopped for the jadeite kitchen pendants for years so I finally took advantage of a 4th of July sale and picked up two.

Alan is skeptical of the mixed metals.  He’s commented more than once that all the finishes are different which I objectively understand, but don’t really agree with.  Though the living room sconces and YHL diamond are bronze, they’ll be mounted high and read as black, which goes with the jelly jars and black cords on the Jadeite pendants and two vintage barn pendants.  The copper fan is definitely a one-off, but I’m categorically opposed to fans so I just wanted something industrial-ish that would blend into the wood.  The “zinc” bathroom sconces are of ambiguous finish and live in a bathroom with far greater issues – like a blue bathtub – so I’m just considering them a moot point.  Bottom line, I think we’ll end up with an overall look that is eclectic but coordinated and I’m not worried.


Pattern writing

by Stef on July 8, 2014

in Knitting

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I’ve been draaaaaaaaging my feet through the first half of Estuary (above).  This is my second attempt at it, actually.  I (very unwisely) picked it as my first lace knit; clearly not a very smart idea.  After giving up and knitting two Follow Your Arrow shawls (which I should share, yes) I have a much better handle on lace knitting and cast on for my second Estuary.  I’m doing it in Cascade 220, a beautiful mint green worsted weight, which is… ridiculous.  I wanted a huge wrap, so I knew what I was getting myself into, but this is just an intense amount of counting and pattern following and it somehow feels more difficult in worsted weight than fingering.  I still love the pattern and love the yarn and plan to finish, but when it came time to roll my second skein, I decided I needed a little break.

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Estuary set aside, I grabbed the tiny ball leftover from my second Follow Your Arrow (Manos del Uruguay Fino, amazing, perhaps my favorite ever) and futzed around until I settled on a shawl pattern of my own.  I didn’t want a semi-circle and didn’t want a standard triangle with center line increase, so I tested something raglan inspired.  I was after a bold graphic look and something that needed enough counting to keep me engaged, but that didn’t require following a complicated chart.  I quickly settled into the side motif and changed the plan for the center a few times, as seen in the messy swatch above.

Malabrigo Finito in estragon

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I thought this Malabrigo Finito in estragon was my least favorite buy from my birthday yarn haul, but I’ve totally changed my tune.  The yarn boasts a gorgeous range of greens and blues and is plain lovely to knit with.  I’m plugging away on the shawl and frequently sharing Instagram updates because I’m pretty much thrilled with how it’s coming together.  Shawls are not conceptually difficult, but I’ve never just sat down with yarn and needles and created the shawl image in my head, so this is pretty exciting.  I’ve been sooooort of toying with the idea of writing some patterns, but I have annoyingly strong views on knitting patterns, so I question if I’d really be contributing anything to the community.  I don’t know.  This is a personal debate for another day.  No matter what, I’ll share the final shawl when it’s done!



House tour, upstairs(es)

by Stef on July 2, 2014

in Wyoming Home



Head up the stairs off the kitchen and you’re in the room that we’re calling the Master.  Based on the listing photos and butterflies and flowers stamped on the wall, I believe this was a kid’s room and the other 2nd floor was their Master.  I love that the chimney goes right up through the ceiling, but it doesn’t offer the best privacy.  We like the exposed rock, so I suppose we’ll just live without privacy for now.  The stairway is quite dark as is but I haven’t convinced myself to complicate matters by bringing an electrician in, so I’m thinking a set of Onefortythree String Lights may be the most obvious solution.

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As you hit the top of the stairs and turn left, you’re in a…. sitting area?  The master is huge, easily large enough to be a studio apartment.  As just two people we simply cannot utilize all the space available in this house.  When we have kids I imagine that I’ll appreciate this spot as a place to have a crib and nurse without going downstairs.  As they get older, it can be a way to get away from the noise.  To the right in this picture is the closet that I’m thinking will be mine.  I know these shaped doorways are everywhere, but I may try to mask the ones up here by hanging curtains that extend across the doorway and the odd bookcase/cutout.  The curtain seems easier than fashioning two custom doors and will soften a room that’s otherwise almost entirely wood.



Turn around from the sitting area and you can see the main room, butterflies included.  I categorically detest carpet, but Alan likes it in bedrooms, so we’ll add carpet up here.  Other than the sub-floor and stencils on the wall, I love this room. There aren’t enough words to explain how much I love this room.  In an attempt to not take over my parent’s house that we’re in right now, tons of our stuff is stashed in our bedroom.  Despite our best intentions, it’s always trashed.  I imagine this room being almost stark… bare bones canvas window coverings, minimal bedding, super simple homemade pendants over the night stands, one dresser, and not much else.  I want very few colors and accessories.  I started on the red that’s around the room right after we chose a paint color from our sample pots.  Sherwin Williams only sells sample colors in quarts, so I’m using the test quarts in place of primer to knock out the red throughout the house.    I suppose that’s not the “correct” way to do things, but I can’t see a reason to hold onto three quarts of colors I have no need for, so I’m using them up as a first pass on the existing colors.



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If you stand in the middle of the room and spin around, you see the crazy closet/playhouse thing I mentioned before.  Somewhere along the way a bathroom was added, but they chose to not take the ceilings full height.  Lest this sound like complaints, know that I’m thrilled to have a master with its own bathroom – it definitely wasn’t a priority when we were looking at homes.   For now, the sink, toilet, and lights will be replaced.  The floor is great. We’ll add some storage at the back of the little room where the toilet and sink are located.  I’ve been brainstorming ways to expand the shower by taking out the shelf, adding a door, and tiling the entire area to make a large walk-in shower.  Aside from being an odd shape, I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.  We could use the original shower area to build in a bench and some inset shelves.  Think of this as a 5-year shower plan. It definitely won’t happen any time soon.

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Head out of the bathroom area, look back towards the chimney and stairs, and you see Alan’s closet.  This closet is the larger of the two, with two hanging rods, shelves, and runs all the way to the outside wall but that door – do not let photos deceive you – is NARROW.  I’m just going to be honest here… the door makes me feel fat every time I go through it and I don’t really want that reminder every single morning as I go to get dressed, so Alan gets the closet to himself.

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Radio is particularly fond of looking out the opening next to the chimney.  Every time I can’t find her I just look up and see those ears giving her location away.  Unrelated, I feel like the other pictures are giving a very orange/yellow cast to the wood throughout the place, but this picture is more indicative of the actual character of the wood.  Lesson learned – try harder with pictures next time.


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Back in the living room, if you head up these stairs you’re on a little loft and then in Alan’s music room.  This is the room of the legendary toilet and sink, so I swore that these photos wouldn’t be shown often.

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I hate the green color, but this is his room for his stuff, so I plan to do pretty much nothing in here unless he asks.  We have a huge rug that was purchased for the basement of the old house but moved before it was even unrolled.  We’ll lay down the rug to dampen the noise from drums and guitars and I’d love to find an old window to fit the ridiculous opening.  I have no idea why someone would go through the trouble of ADDING a window there.  If we frame in the window, I imagine the house becomes a four bedroom instead of three bedroom plus loft.

In all the other houses we looked at, Alan’s music stuff would have been relegated to the basement or a room over the garage so, toilet aside, we’re totally thankful for this room.  It’s actually pretty huge and gives him a great space of his own so he can get back into drums, guitars, bass, etc.  With his stuff currently stashed in a cold basement, he hasn’t gotten to play much in the past two years.  I’m not generally one for “signs” but in a way, this room tells me the house was meant to be ours.  Not only do we accept the weird second upstairs, we actually appreciate it, like it was designed for our needs.  It’s the perfect place for a music studio – Alan can can look out the window over the living room and be close to the action, but we won’t have guitars living in our bedroom.  It’s really a best case scenario.


House tour, first floor

by Stef on July 1, 2014

in Wyoming Home


I mentioned that the house is a foreclosure and missing a few essentials like… lights.  Appliances.  A wood stove.  Door knobs.  We need to update the kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, and paint.  I thought the process would be fun and I’m sure it will be at some point, but right now it’s overwhelming.  Instead of buying one light for one room, we’re buying 20+ lights for all the rooms, so I’ve had to think about the bigger picture of the place and how the rooms work together.  Before I get into specifics, I figured I’d show a brief, as they say, house tour of the place.

The original home was built in 1983, if I recall correctly.  The original structure is the main back rectangle in the picture above.  The piece coming out of the front is the addition, added in 1995.  When the addition was built, the original front door was converted to large bay window and the front porch was added on.  There’s no longer a clear front door to the house, which you’ll see later.  The addition is clearly an addition… it’s tacked onto the front of the house and is stylistically quite different than the original structure.  It adds a ton of square footage to the house in the form of a huge living room, second upstairs, and small basement.

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If you head down the side of the house next to Alan’s truck, you’ll hit the garage and back porch.

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From here I’m standing between the house and the garage, looking down the driveway.  Were these pictures taken at the same time, you’d see Alan’s truck a bit further down the drive.  This is not a ploy to show you all our cars.


There are two doors to the house off the back porch – French doors into the kitchen and a single door into the laundry room.  This is the view from the laundry room towards the front of the house and that bay window overlooking the porch that I mentioned earlier.  Since the addition added a basement, I planned to have the laundry down there and convert this room into a mudroom.  There’s a clothesline in the backyard that I want to use frequently and I’m now questioning if I’ll really haul laundry up from the basement to the clothesline and if this original laundry room isn’t a more appropriate place for the machines.  We’ll see.

Here’s where we get more into the “quirk” of the house.  I’m not sure if this is actual brick or brick-like tile, but it’s not linoleum.  It’s in perfect shape and, despite what the current design blogs tell me I’m supposed to be into, we like it.  It will not be painted or removed.  The carpet needs to go.  To the left of this doorway is a bedroom, bathroom, then second bedroom, which I’ll now show in a series of wholly unremarkable photos.




The bedrooms are mirror images of each other with the bathroom in between.  The first bedroom will be a guest room for now, hopefullymaybe a nursery someday.  The second bedroom will be my “office” for reasons that I’ll outline later.  The bathroom is rocking some seriously dark tongue and groove and blue fixtures.  While blue fixtures aren’t ideal, the sink and toilet are quite charming.  Were there not other issues with them, I’d try to keep or reuse them.  The toilets in the house feel half size (I didn’t know they could even exist this low/small) so they have to go.  The vanity also comes juuuust above my knee and I’m only 5’10″.  Alan is 6’5″.  I didn’t want to get deep into rehabbing bathrooms, but I’ve already ordered a replacement vanity to deal with the immediate issue.  The blue tub will stay for a few years because we have far bigger fish to fry and we’re happy to have any tub after years without.  Though the tongue and groove in the bathroom is super dark, I quite like it.  Once new lights are installed in the bathroom we’ll see how things feel.  I have no plans to paint all the wood, but I may address one or two walls if the room remains oppressively dark.


If you stand in front of the office door, next to the bay window, and spin around, this is the view into the dining/kitchen area.  The open space to the left (where Alan is laying) is a nice secondary TV area.  I’ve been calling it a den.  The addition places the primary TV zone pretty far away from the main house and we’re TV people (ain’t no shame).  We don’t have cable but we’re pretty religious about Netflix/Hulu and both play video games, so a second TV is just a reality in our family.  The chimney is pretty much smack dab in the middle of the house and will be a functional, primary heat source.  This is something I had to learn about Wyoming.  In Michigan our home had forced air.  Here the primary heating source is baseboards, wood stove, or pellet stove.  The baseboards pictured are run by a boiler which I’ll show and explain later.  For a variety of reasons that I guess I could discuss, though it may not be interesting, we’ve decided on wood stove as our main heat.


If you walk forward from that picture and turn, you’re in the dining space and looking at the kitchen.  Among the many charms of the house is a certain… smell… which I’ve mostly eradicated thanks to some super strength deodorizer and Amazon Prime shipping.  Between the smell, the proximity to the stove, my severe asthma, and the fact that the carpet runs under the dining area, we’ve decided to have it removed and replaced with locally sourced 8″ fir flooring.  We may run the floors into the second bedroom as well, depending on how the smell progresses in that room.  The bedroom currently has cheap laminate flooring that I don’t find offensive, but am also not attached to.  That room is definitely the stinkiest of the bunch and I worry that the flooring is holding onto odor from the previous owner’s cat.  At roughly 100 sq ft, it might make sense to just finish that room while we’re doing this larger section.



Pardon our obvious construction mess.  The kitchen is huge, but somewhat lacking in storage.  You can see the only appliance they left us – a sparkling clean, but slight suspicious oven and toaster oven combo from the 70s-ish.  It’s sort of adorable in that it reminds me of my Airstream and I like the retro fonts, but since we’re already buying appliances for the entire house, this one needs to go.  The current cabinets aren’t my favorite, but they’re mid range quality, which is more than I could ask for.  I’m stewing on the idea of adding pulls or staining them to update the look a bit.  Above all, I’m just bothered that they’re yet another wood tone that doesn’t match all the previous wood tones.  The current kitchen doesn’t have a dishwasher, but my Dad, who is pretty much the best person you want around when looking at houses, quickly identified that we could add one onto the end of the cabinets and just extend the counter top further.  On that note, check out that bangin’ blue laminate counter top!  It needs to be replaced but cost is concern numero uno, so we’re looking at laminate or butcher block.  I just typed sooooo much text about the kitchen, but it’s better explained in a full post so I’ll get into it later.

Second picture is a tiny hobbit door to a pantry under the stairs.  When I was younger, in the first house I can vividly remember, we had a play room under the stairs.  With that ridiculous door already in place, I cannot not do the same for our future children.  I’m not going to devote this closet to pantry duty because I wouldn’t want to feel like I couldn’t give it up some day.  This set of stairs leads up to the Master and is entirely (unsafely) open.  To add storage to the kitchen, I chatted with our handyman about framing out a wall to serve as a better barrier for the stairs and to give me a place to add a standalone pantry or armoire.

dining into living

Spin around from the kitchen and you’re looking through the dining room into the addition.  I love me some shutters, but these are plastic and have deteriorated over the years.  They need to come out.  I’m planning a massive sliding door to cover this opening, allowing us to let people into the front of the house without being greeted by the dogs.  The living room also doesn’t have a heat source, so the door will let us heat the main house more effectively in the winter.

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Now we’re in the living room, turned towards the “front door” and porch, with a little sliver of the dining room and kitchen visible on the left.  The closet in the corner is a great coat closet, nothing more.  You can see the paint swatches that I tried out pretty much the first day we got the house.  Above and below the railing will be the same color in the hopes of giving the room a little modern boost.  The floors are a 12×12 terra cotta-ish tile and I actually love them.


Walk to the end of the room, turn around, and you’ll see the stairs to the second upstairs, to the basement, and the front door that I just mentioned.  The room is too big to use as one large living room, so this side is for the couch and TV, the other side will be for… an office space? A library/entry? I’m not sure yet.  I’ve already started painting over the red on the stairs, otherwise, as with the rest of the house, the wood will stay natural.

front porch

If you exit through the french doors pictured above, you’re on the front porch.  We need some furniture and to take care of a ton of yardwork, otherwise this space is amazing as is.

I’ll limit this post to just the first floor, I guess.  I’ll share the Master and Alan’s music room, which make up the two 2nd floors, in the next post, then share the outdoors situation.

This definitely gives a good idea of the vibe of the house.  At 2800 sq feet, it’s more than two and a half times the size of our little old bungalow.  We specifically targeted homes in the 1600-1800 sq foot range, so 2800 sq feet + a ~600 sq foot basement is… overwhelming.  The house feels MASSIVE but the deal made it something we couldn’t pass up.  I’m sure there will be rooms that we won’t even use for a years, but that also allows us to grow into the house as our family hopefully grows.  After two years of looking for a home, I know the local market enough to know that we’ll be in this house for a very very long time.

Stylistically, the house is pretty much a best case scenario for something that’s both us and still Wyoming appropriate.  I’ve touched on this a bit, but we’re not looking to fundamentally change the house.  Instead, we’re going to respect what’s there and adjust our expectations and furniture to fit the vibe of the home.  While a small part of me wants to gut the place and paint everything white, I know we’d end up with a 3,400 sq foot albatross that appealed to me and like one other person, and I’m not trying to complicate my life that much.  When I see the finished place in my head, the house is warm, casual, a bit off-beat, with barn-like industrial elements and it all makes sense.  Maybe….