Category Archives: connecticut

the bathroom renovation + some thoughts on renovating your house in your third trimester

The bathrooms in our house were FINE – there were no pink/yellow 1950’s awfulness to be had here. But we only had one full bath, and the idea of having family stay with us…or adding a player to this team…with ONE bathroom made me a bit nervous. So Chris and I started the long process of getting some bids for adding a bathroom upstairs last fall.

And SHOCKINGLY – those quotes were WAY, WAY, WAY over our budget. Like a fourth of the cost of what our home costs out of our budget. But along the way, we found a design company that we not only really liked but really trusted – and they came up with a plan that worked for us financially (and that could be executed in a strict 6 week timeframe).

Because we were hosting Christmas at our house and then had my baby shower in mid-February, we only had a small window to get this project done. And I’ve heard HORROR stories from other people on their renovations – it always takes 3x longer than you thought, it’s never the price they thought it was going to be, etc. So we were, understandably, hesitant about dipping our toes into this water. But we decided to roll the dice and I’m so, so glad we did – our gut instincts were right about the people we hired, right about this project NOW, and we could not be happier with the end result.

So here’s what we did!

We took this powder room, which is directly off of our kitchen, and added a shower. Here’s the bathroom on the day we closed on the house (two years ago next month!!!):IMG_0090Like I said – not terrible at all! Not incredibly functional, but not terrible.

Demo started REALLY fast – this was literally the first day of the project.

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We had some hiccups along the way, so things did get a bit more expensive than we had anticipated – but for issues that you can’t foresee until you open up walls. So all of that was corrected – SO QUICKLY – and we forged ahead!img_2427
I know that we won’t be in this house forever, so I didn’t want to go bananas sandwich on the design and pick something that may not appeal to future buyers. I went with this hexagon tile from an online tile supply company (that I won’t link to because we had a very bad experience):

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The hex is really pretty in person and I went with a dark grey grout, which I L-O-V-E. img_2561

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The room is really tiny, so the tile really stands out – it was a splurge since it’s marble, but I’m really really happy with it!

Here it is close up:

img_2560At this point in our lives…we were about two weeks out from our shower and I was almost 8 months pregnant. We were doing some work upstairs in our bathroom, plus the nursery, plus the office where we were borrowing square footage for this bathroom. So literally everything was topsy turvy and we had boxes on boxes on boxes. This was my dining room after I “cleaned it up”:

img_2564AHHHHHHH.

I thought that this kind of project would not be incredibly invasive – the bathroom is right at the back of our house and was easily taped off. But I underestimated how much Grace and Harley would HATE having strangers in our house everyday, and that really turned up the volume on this little project. Thankfully, the people we hired were SAINTS and loved animals. It could have been a lot more difficult than it was – and they made it work for our little traveling circus.

The last week, there were the inevitable freakouts that happen (I assume?) at the end of any renovation: the showerhead I bought didn’t fit where the plumbers drilled the holes, the paint looked lavender, the sink arrived broken and needed to be installed that day. Thankfully, our contractors were able to find a showerhead I liked (I don’t love it like I loved the original one but WHO CARES), they repainted to appease the crazy pregnant lady, and my dad found a replacement sink at literally zero hour.

And here’s the finished product!

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We still have some really minor work to do – finding a place for toilet paper being a primary concern ūüôā I’d love to hang some art, as well, but I’m waiting until we find the right piece.

So we went from this:

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To this:

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With seven weeks to spare!

Would I have done it again this pregnant? YES. 100% yes. I could not imagine doing this with the baby here – there were so many people coming and going, so much barking, so many things to figure out logistically. I’m so glad we did this a few years before we leave this house, as well –¬†we have the time to enjoy it!

If you are local to Fairfield County, I could not recommend Faros Design¬†more highly – they were absolute gems and I’m so grateful we got to know their family during this process.

 

no sew faux roman shade

I just realized that I have 4+ house projects going on at the same time. We’re doing the deck, I’m planting our garden out back, refreshing our porch, and making a shade for our kitchen. No biggie.

Making this shade took me about 25 minutes and $30 (for the rod and fabric). It isn’t perfect, but at that price point, I’m okay with that. I could definitely see myself swapping the fabric out if I find something that strikes my fancy.

I polled some folks on Instagram for their favorite fabrics – these were my top three:

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Overwhelmingly, everyone really liked the first one. I did too, but I thought it might be better on a pillow or on something that wasn’t folded. I chose the third fabric, which still has a pattern but in a much larger scale. In hindsight, I really like it – but I could do something solid with a border in the future to keep it a bit simpler. This is the fabric closer up:

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What I do really like is the weight of the fabric – it’s a thick cotton, which made it really easy to work with and starch for this purpose.

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • A hot glue gun
  • An iron
  • Spray starch
  • Fabric
  • Curtain rod

Here’s what I did:

  1. I washed and dried the fabric, then starched with the spray starch and a super-hot iron.
  2. I created a “hem” for all of the edges with the iron, basically just pinning where I wanted the hem to be and ironing over it. SUPER high-tech over here.
  3. When that was done, I glued it with little beads of glue to create clean hems. My fabric was just wide enough for my window, but if yours isn’t, you’ll want to cut it to fit before you make your hem.
  4. Then I made a little pocket for the rod, about 6 inches (to keep it generous) and glued that.
  5. Once ¬†that dried (2 min), I measured how much of my window I wanted to cover ¬†up – I chose 13 inches since I didn’t want to lose a ton of natural light in my kitchen. Then I folded it up the way that I wanted it to look when dry, making sure it was no more than 13 inches long.
  6. I glued along the edge of each fabric fold. At first, I thought I could only do the edges and center, but it drooped when I raised it. If you choose a fabric that is thick, you’ll have no issue with that much glue – this is why I don’t think doing a thin fabric would really work here.
  7. Let it all dry for about five minutes, then loop in your rod and hang her up!

Next time, I’ll measure a bit more thoroughly and pin everything – that would have given me a super-exact look. I’m not really a stickler for that kind of thing and I’m still really happy with the way it turned out!

Here is the finished product:

IMG_0649I actually think it’s a little easier to see at night – excuse our mess! I glued everything while Chris was making turkey burgers last night.¬†IMG_0634I can’t wait to see where I can wield my hot glue gun next. Happy Friday! xo

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one room challenge: week 2

Lots of exciting stuff happening over here! We broke ground on the deck and things are looking like a HOT mess.

deck 5We’ve poured the footings (see all of the fancy new terms I’m learning!) and we have a general idea of how big the deck is going to be – it is so cool to walk it and really see how much space we’ll have to work with! Also, you’ll notice that Grace is in EVERY single one of these photos – she is OBSESSED with the construction zone. So much so that Chris installed temporary fencing last night to keep her out of the debris. So. much. debris.

So our¬†dining table (similar to this) is apparently huge and is going to take up most of the deck. That’s ok! My one requirement was seating for fourteen. And I’m gonna get it!

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I spent some time drawing it all up tonight (Chris thought I was still working and peeked onto my computer and saw me playing in Paint and I think he laughed so hard he cried). Anyway – please don’t laugh at my ridiculous mock-ups. Seriously – they are ridiculous.
This is how big the deck will be (please note Grace):Deck2
The doors to the basement will have a raised door over them – we won’t be losing that.

Here’s the view from the door from the kitchen – we’re removing the bush that’s there, adding a firepit, and getting rid of the stump.Deck3
And then along the fence, I’m doing a curved bed of hydrangeas. We’ll have six, maybe seven in all, but I couldn’t fit that many on my drawing.Hydrangeas
I’m especially proud of my detail work on those hydrangeas. Although it does really look like the hydrangeas are eating Grace.

So that’s where we are – a big pile of dirt and nine footings!

Tomorrow morning, we’ll be framing her out. I’m so excited!

Thanks for checking in. xo

 

To learn more about the One Room Challenge, click here.

moravian star pendants.

I have a real thing for star pendants, as evidenced here.

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I’m trying to figure out a light fixture for our dining room – it’s tricky, since we sometimes move the table when we have larger parties. Here’s our dining room now, just as a reminder:

You can see how we hung the fixture a little higher when we moved the table to the window. After¬†a year in the space, I feel confident that I’m ready to invest in a light fixture even if we don’t have the table in the center of the room for 2 days out of 365.

I’ve been thinking a lot about a Moravian star pendant ¬†– wouldn’t that be so dreamy? I was inspired by this photo in Brooklyn Decker’s dining¬†room:

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Here are a few that I’ve seen floating over dining tables:

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I’m looking for one that’s more silver than bronze, and that seems to be a TALL order. The price is great for this one, but do I need something larger than 15″ wide? That seems TINY.

pendantWhat do you think? Would you ever do a untraditional chandelier in your dining room? Would love to hear your thoughts! xo

around the house lately.

Hope you are all having a great Saturday! Here are a few snaps of what’s been happening in our world this first week of April.

Just a girl enjoying a high thread count.IMG_0373And a nice pillow.IMG_0394I’m making a shade for our kitchen and had these three fabric choices up – I ended up going with the swatch on the far right. Fun fact: These were “delivered” on Thursday but our UPS driver LIED about the delivery and has now LIED about package deliveries FOUR TIMES and I informed UPS that they have a CROOKED driver. I AM NOT PLEASED.¬†IMG_0412But I am please about Sunday Dinner ! Chris made roast and it was d-e-l-i-c-i-o-u-s.IMG_0461Kait slept over after dinner and we noticed that our work uniforms are a little…different.
: ) I would much prefer the sweatshirt!!IMG_0462I taught my last Acting 101 class on Monday night. I was so proud of the way everything turned out – not just of my students, but of myself! I was so nervous the first four classes but was able to really get into it, thoughtfully plan the lessons, and enjoy my students. I liked it so much that I’m doing it again this summer!

Chris and I went out for margaritas after the show – he waited outside the stage door with flowers, just like the old days : )IMG_0476THIS COOKIE CAKE HAS CHANGED MY LIFE. I’ll be posting the recipe shortly, don’t you worry.IMG_0486And this was from yesterday – maybe we need to embrace colors other than blue and white? Perhaps?IMG_0524Enjoy the rest of your weekend! xo

One Room Challenge: Week 1

So I’m taking part in the One Room Challenge as a Guest Participator!

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Calling It Home¬†hosts the One Room Challenge once in the Spring and then again in the Fall. Bloggers redo one room in their house over the course of six weeks and share their progress every Wednesday. There are lots of fancy designers¬†taking part in the official challenge, but I’m just following along as a guest. And I hope you’ll follow along too!

The room I’ve chosen to redo in the One Room Challenge is our backyard! Not really a room, but hey – we’re gonna make it one!

As you know, we’ve had a lot of challenge with this space since we moved in:

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When it is not covered in leaves, it is covered in dirt. So it has been aptly renamed “The Dirt Pit.”

Back in January, I wrote about our plans to do a patio. We thought that once we removed the tree, we could get all of the roots and do a nice big patio off of the left side of our kitchen. But the roots were more than we bargained for, and the patio we would have ended up getting – based on what we could afford – wasn’t any great shakes.

So with the help of our contractor, we decided to do a deck. I’ve never really been a part of any deck building – everyone we talk to has either a) built a deck, b) hates decks or c) is from Florida and is confused about decks in general. We fall into camp C.

We’ve had about three months to think about how we’d like to build the deck, how we want to spend time in the backyard, and well, how we’re going to get it done in six weeks!

Here are a few inspiration photos that I’ve been pulling along the way, to give you an idea of what I’m envisioning:¬†Image 2

Image 1Image 3Image 5

I really like natural, muted colors and lots of greenery. The more potted plants the better! The photo in the last image – upper left – is from It’s Complicated. One of the best little patio/outdoor situations I ever did see.

Of course, we’re all going toward this major goal of my favorite backyard in the history of backyards:

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The Braverman backyard from Parenthood.

We’ve got a long way to go, and I hope you’ll check back every Wednesday to see our progress! We’ve already broken ground and I’m excited to show you how a dirt pit became even dirtier/pitier than ever before.

xo

 

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H&M home.

Am I the last person to the H&M Home party?

Their prices are FABULOUS (I just got pillow covers for $5.99/each!) and I think really cute. I can’t speak to the quality yet, but they accept returns at any of their flagship locations.

Here are a few of my favorites – we got the striped pillows and khaki linen up top! – but I might go back for that lantern…

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one // two

three // four

 

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one // two

three // four

we are so close to wednesday!

FullSizeRender (10).jpgWhich brings us so close to Friday! A few things that I’m reading/eating/listening to this week:

Modern Love “Mom/Not Mom/Aunt”:¬†All of the Modern Love podcasts are really strong, but this one made me stop in my tracks. It’s read by Jesse Tyler Ferguson (from Modern Family) – it’s about a couple who couldn’t have a baby the “old fashioned way” and the beautiful way their family came together. It’s been six years since the story was published in the¬†Times and the author comes on at the end to give an update about their terrific kids. I may have cried (a few times).

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Planning our meals:¬†Chris and I did some quick back-of-the-napkin Amex analysis this week and realized we spend FIVE TIMES the national average for a family of two at the grocery store. FIVE TIMES. FIVE. TIMES. So we are reigning in our bananas way of grocery shopping and starting to plan our meals. This is what we’re having this week:

Monday: Salmon (Chris also made a delish broccoli/cauliflower situation that I’m still dreaming about)

Tuesday: Roast Chicken

Wednesday: Turkey Burgers

Thursday: Sausage and Pasta

We haven’t figured out Friday yet but this is one small step for dinner, one giant leap for Dall’au kind.

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And a few other things:

  • Sometimes I forget what life was like before I worked in quarters. Q1 is ending this week and it seems pretty crazy – I can’t believe Q2 starts on Friday and we’ll already be in April.
  • Our deck project starts tomorrow, and I’m so very excited. Spring is just so close.

Happy almost Wednesday! xo

 

 

easter week 2016.

Hoppy Easter! I’ve been trying to make that phrase work all day but Christopher doesn’t think it’s catching on.

We had such a great day in Connecticut – brunch with my family at Valencia in Norwalk and a beautiful dinner with friends in Fairfield. We missed our families in Florida (they had pool parties!!!) but it was such a sweet day out here.

I’ll go backwards – this was this afternoon, our first Easter in our house!IMG_0171Chris won Easter this year – my dad and stepmom gave him outdoor speakers for our new deck! He was so pumped. IMG_0170Oh! So this was our dinner challenge. We both challenged each other with one ingredient (Chris challenged me with beets, I challenged him with cannellini beans) and we went to different grocery stores to come up with two surprise meals. Chris made this AMAZING cannellini bean, bacon and spinach side – we’re going to have to recreate this one.¬†IMG_0169I wasn’t nuts about mine but will share in the name of the challenge! Mustard salmon on top of spinach salad with beets, oranges, walnuts and feta. It was ok, not great.IMG_0168More than ok: THE GINGER ROSEMARY MARGARITAS. THIS WAS LIFE CHANGING.IMG_0167Um we went to the beach but it was so cold. A little too cold for bare feet, but we managed. Donut Inn coffee = so good.IMG_0166WE ARE SO CLOSE TO PORCH SEASON!! The fabric samples come in this week and then we’ll really be in business!IMG_0165Took approximately 30 tries to get this girl to look at the camera.IMG_0164Best part: tush in the reflection.IMG_0163My hair is SO LONG it is in dangerous territory. Hair cut is on the agenda this week.IMG_0162This was Monday morning – and today was in the 50’s! The weather has been flip flopping for the past few weeks but I think we’re finally in the clear. IMG_0160I hope you had a great Easter with your family! xo

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rosemary ginger margaritas.

Chris and I are doing a DINNER CHALLENGE tonight where we give each other one ingredient to make a meal around. My challenge to him was cannellini beans and he challenged me with beets. Game. On. I’ll post about our creations tomorrow!

But for tonight…this is what we’re sipping on while we cook. Chris just made these up and they are my new favorite drink in the world.

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Rosemary Ginger Margaritas

For six servings:

  • 1 cup agave
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 springs rosemary
  • 4 tablespoons ginger paste (but we¬†really like us some ginger)
  • Lemon
  • Lime
  • Tequila

Here’s what you’ll¬†do:

  • Boil the ingredients, aside from tequila, lemon, and lime, together for 15 minutes.
  • Cool for two hours.
  • Strain out the rosemary.
  • For each drink, you want two parts tequila, one part syrup. Add lemon, lime, plenty of ice, and a spring of rosemary.

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