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Archive for September, 2009

Out on our evening walk with the pup, we spotted it.  For weeks, we’ve been scouring Craig’s List for a bench.  A simple, dark wood, upholstered bench to fill up a bleak spot between our kitchen and family room.

And there she was.

In our neighbor’s yard, not near the trash can, not near the sidewalk.  Just sitting in the yard.  She was perfect!  Dark wood legs and sides with a seat that looked simple to reupholster (we’d never done that before, but what the heck?).

So, we rang the doorbell, introduced ourselves, and asked, “So… the bench in your front yard… is that lawn furniture?  Did you forget it was there?   Any chance you’re anxious to part with it?”  The answer was great news for new homeowners on a tight budget… “Oh, that’s yours if you want it.”  SCORE!  After chatting with the neighbors a little longer, watching them love on Bowdoin (what dog lover doesn’t love a good snuggle with a bulldog?!), and inviting them to our open house the following week… we snatched up that bench, cut our walk short, and embarked on a quick and EASY DIY project.

then

then

now!

now!

The transformation literally took 30 minutes.  So fast, our pictures are a bit blurry…

we took a paint pen that we already had and touched up a few worn spots...

we took a paint pen that we already had and touched up a few worn spots...

the seat was secured with four screws and super easy to remove...

the seat was secured with four screws and super easy to remove...

the label we spotted when we flipped her over... nice!

the label we spotted when we flipped her over... nice!

We had already purchased two yards of blue fabric that matched our décor at a discount home fabric store.  (It was the end of the bolt, total cost = $6. ) The intention was to use the blue fabric for pillows, but this project only needed one yard – so there’s still plenty left over.

we stapled the fabric to the seat...

we stapled the fabric to the seat...

pulled it taught and maneuvered around the tricky corners...

pulled it taught and maneuvered around the tricky corners...

Moments later…

we popped her back into place...

we popped her back into place...

screwed her back in...

screwed her back in...

and… voila!  A new to us gem!

and… voila! A new to us gem!

This little spot isn’t quite done.  Soon, we’ll put DIY pillows atop the bench and adorn the wall… with… here’s a hint…

yep... we still have a lot of work to do!

yep... we still have a lot of work to do!

Total cost = $3.  (That was the cost of the fabric we used, everything else we already had or was FREE!)

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Paris in the Dream

Little known fact:  The day we officially closed on our dream, we hopped on a flight to Paris, France.  Crazy, but true.  It wasn’t exactly planned that way, though.

The hubs had a big birthday this year (one with a “0”)… and, as a surprise (that was revealed early so he could get excited… and get time off work…) we went to France to see Le Tour de France and do some sightseeing.

In the weeks leading up to the trip, we started “casually” house-hunting – our mortgage broker and realtor will both laugh OUT LOUD as they read this.  We figured it would take a few months to find the right house, wade through the paperwork and actually seal the deal.  Well, our Dream had other ideas and stumbled into our surprised little laps way earlier than expected.  That meant a rush of wading through paperwork and a deal sealed just in the knick of boarding time.

We were quite relieved and grateful to have Dream keys before our trip.  We could relax and enjoy France!  And we did.  Except there was a lot of Dreaming going on.  And France found a way into the Dream… here’s how:

everywhere you look in france, there are chalkboards

just a sample of the many chalkboards we saw in france

Cafe’s. Restaurants. Bars. Stores. Chalkboards. Are. Everywhere.  We knew one had to come home with us.  It took some searching. (Our suitcases were only so big.) But we did find a chalkboard at a cute home decor store in the last city on our trek, Lyon.

again, good thing we don't write the blog by hand

again, good thing we don't write the blog by hand

She now graces a wall near our kitchen, proudly displaying menu items for the evening – and an occasional love note.

Here’s the dish she advertised on this particular day.

Yumm-o!  (A Rachel Ray 30-min meal fav in our Dream.)

Yumm-o!

(A Rachel Ray 30-min meal fav in our Dream.)

The best part of our trip – the Bourgogne Region.  We spent three fabulous days and two great nights in Beaune – and we can’t wait to go back.  We…

We rented bikes and pedaled through gorgeous vineyards.

rented bikes and pedaled through gorgeous vineyards...

stopped for tastings...

stopped for tastings...

bought bottles and stuffed them in our bike bag...

bought bottles and stuffed them in our bike bag...

took a wine class...

took a wine class...

and enjoyed the best picnic ever.

and enjoyed the best picnic ever.

One thing we noticed in that area is that no cork went to waste.  Each wine shop/store/tasting room had huge decanters filled with corks.  As mentioned in an earlier post…  We’d been saving wine corks and collecting them from family for a while. So, we were ready to implement this French aesthetic into our dream.

cork and candle filled apothecary jars

cork and candle filled apothecary jars

The candles are from Ikea.  The jars were wedding gifts – something I apparently couldn’t live without while registering.  The candles are the same size.  The jars are not.  So, I had to get a little creative to mask the height issue…

if you can't even remember why you purchased a certain canned food item, much less when, it's probably not safe to eat anyway (even if it is canned)

if you can't even remember why you purchased a certain canned food item, much less when, it's probably not safe to eat anyway (even if it is canned)

Now, with that little dilemma solved, what better place to place our corky creation then atop our bar?

one could say they're kind of like cork trash cans, but classy cork trash cans

one could say they're kind of like cork trash cans, but classy cork trash cans

Let’s take a moment to admire the bar, shall we?  We are quite proud of this particular piece.  It is the Crate and Barrel Steamer Bar Cabinet.  We had our eye on this sucker for a long time.  Her price tag, however, meant she was only attainable in our dreams.   Then, one day, EUREKA! Our faithful, daily Craig’s List search plopped her on our screen — at less than half the cost of retail.  YES!!!  We scrambled, got oursleves to an ATM, took our cash down to a shady storage unit, and did a happy dance.  I mean, just look at her…
and she's on wheels - so we can swing her into a different room for a party if we're feeling sassy like that

and she's on wheels - so we can swing her into a different room for a party if we're feeling sassy like that

So, what better to top off a bar then a creative use of corks?  Let’s just take one more look…
hmm... anything else catching the eye?

hmm... anything else catching the eye?

Ahh, yes, the photos.   More from France!  The trio of pictures above the corky candles, which are above the bar continues the libation theme.  We’re simple people.  We like to keep things orderly.
champagne cellar shots from reims, france

champagne cellar shots from reims, france

We took these photos while on a tour of the Veuve Clicquot champagne cellars (a tour we highly recommend — but you must book one month in advance!).  Veuve Clicquot is our favorite champagne and it was fun to incorporate these kinda funky shots – and fabulous memory into the room.  Speaking of memories…
We came back from our trip with 1,300 pictures!  (Can you say, "shutterbugs?")

we came back from our trip with 1,300 pictures! (can you say, "shutterbugs?")

So… those memories will grace our walls soon.  Stay tuned!
We are just days away from a BIG reveal — Then & Now photos of our kitchen.  We are so excited to show you.  Just two more things to do… wish us luck!

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You’re not Dreaming…

You found our blog!

That must mean one of two things:

1) You got our “Just Moved!” card in the mail

or

2) You’ve been invited to our Open House

Either way, congrats!  You are friends with some very cool (and humble) homeowners.

Welcome to the new blog!  This is where we’ll update friends and family on the many DIY projects we’re tackling as we turn someone else’s nightmare foreclosure into our DREAM home.  We’ve been practice-blogging for a while now, so take some time to read over the earlier posts and get up to speed.  Some things you’ll notice:

A) Every post title has “dream” weaved into it.  Yes, we’re both professional writers.  Yes, we know it’s not always grammatically correct.  We’re trying to be creative here, work with us!

B) We’re choosing not to use our full names or share much contact information out here in the blogosphere.  Hope that’s understandable and the reasons are obvious.

C) We’re newbies.  We’re new homeowners.  We’re new bloggers.  We expect to make mistakes on both fronts along the way.  Feel free to laugh.  We asked for it.

So, while you peruse the blog, we’ll be tackling a few things before the Open House on Friday, October 9th:

(Good thing we don't write the blog by hand!)

(Good thing we don't write the blog by hand!)

Yep.  We’ll be busy!

If you’re in the area, let us know and we will make sure you get the Evite link to the party.  Before then, we’ll tease you with some fabulous before & afters (kitchen, family room, guest bathroom)… Have fun & let us know what you think.

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It was a monumental day in the Dream.

We’ve been working on the kitchen cabinets since we got the keys to the front door.  As we’ll detail in a future post, we didn’t inherit a dream kitchen.  For now, we’re embracing what we have (until new cabinets and countertops find a creative way to weasel into the budget).  That means, Home Ownership DIY 101.  First assignment: repainting kitchen cabinets, which is QUITE A PROJECT!  (Just in case you’re wondering.)

One pesky cabinet door not only needed paint, but was also broken.  That meant she stayed a little longer in the re-do hospital, but was finally discharged today.  Ready to get back to work hiding our pantry from visitors…

Easy access pantry

The good thing about not having cabinet doors up when you first move in - you quickly figure out where you put everything!

The hubs (who is quite dreamy when working with power tools… actually, he’s always dreamy!) whipped out his best carpentry DIY skills and got to work on that final piece of the cabinet door puzzle.

measuring...

measuring...

drilling...

drilling...

We had to get all new hinges to match our new appliances.

We decided to invest in brushed nickel hinges, which look nice with our stainless steel appliances. The dream was sportin' some "retro" bronze numbers before.

Have to make sure it fits just right.

Have to make sure it aligns just right.

OurDreamForeclosureKitchenDoor 010

All of the drilling...

and drilling...

and drilling...

caused some moments of frustration...

caused some moments of frustration.

(and roused a curious bulldog from his nap)

(and roused a curious bulldog from his nap)

... but the finished product was worth it!

... but the finished product was worth it!

Perfectly hung cabinet doors. A pantry no longer visible to guests.  Ahh, life is good.

Well done, McDreamster!

Well done, McDreamster!

Wish we could take a breather and enjoy one completed project (minus the forthcoming knobs — ugh!)… However…

We've got one last pile of boxes staring us down.

There's one last pile of boxes staring us down... BRING IT!

Oh well.  No rest for the weary!

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As we’ve said previously, we are focusing our efforts on the common areas of our dream.  That means the kitchen and family room are getting a lot of love right now.  The dining and living rooms must be incredibly jealous.

Our kitchen and family room adjoin — so they’re basically one big room.  And that’s exactly what we want it to feel like.  However, as you’ll see in future posts, the kitchen is light and bright, the family room is more subdued with darker colors.  We needed to tie it all together somehow — and fabric is the answer.  Fabric for valances, dish towels, table runners, placemats, napkins, aprons, pillows, drape panels, quilt, stretched frames, shower curtain, bed spread… uhh… now we’re getting a little carried away.  Okay, just a nice fabric that we could put in key spots (without overdoing it) to tie the two rooms together.  In Style magazine June 2008 gave me the perfect answer:

Schumaker's Chiang Ming Dragon

Schumaker's Chiang Mai Dragon

She’s gorgeous!  I heart her.  She is so out of my league.  This was from a spread on actress Kristen Bell’s house.  A quick Google search prooved that this fabric is so fab, everyone is dreaming about it.  Your best chance of getting it is to stalk Ebay like a drunk ex-girlfriend e-stalking her former lover.  Not happenin’.  I am happily married, thank you.

So, with ripped out magazine photo’s in tow, I set out fabric searching with a pro:

Mom.

Mom.

After measuring (thrice!) our three target windows,

This montrosity is 5'x6'!

This montrosity is 6'x5'!

We set out on quite the trek.   My mom is an artist, not prone to organizational skills.  However, she proved me wrong (and spoke my language) on this day.  Bringing with her an intinary:

On the list: six home fabric stores!
First, we gotta fuel up for the day…

In all, we visited seven fabric stores that day and literally saw thousands of options.

So many options...

Where do you start?

One of these made the short list... can you spot it?

One of these made the short list... can you spot it?

Having Chiang Mai Dragon in mind helped tremendously.  We were able to whip in (and out) of many of those stores fast if I didn’t see something close to my beloved unattainable dream fabric. By the end of day one of fabric searching, I took home two samples.  (Both from the first store. Cue: rolling of the eyes.)

Option 1

Option 1

Option 2

Option 2

The samples from these two beauties sat taped to our dream’s walls for a week.  Something was not quite right.  Option #2 was too dark for the light and bright kitchen.  Option #1 was too white for the darker and subdued family room.  So, I set out again – venturing to three more fabric stores.  At the last stop, store #10, I spotted her.  It was love at first sight.

EHarmony couldn't have matched this better.

e-Harmony couldn't have matched this better.

And there she is.  No dragons are involved, but she is sassy and classy.  (And very “Pottery Barn” – I do a double take every time I see a photo of PB’s Deirdre design.)  We love her.  Even better, she was on sale — 20% off, and she was a housewarming gift.  So, now 13 yards of this free-to-us fabric dream sits rolled up in the corner.  Ready to be transformed into 3 valances, several pillows, 1 table runner, 1 shower curtain and many future blog posts.

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