Thursday, April 8, 2010

Sprucing up the Place

Ouch. Has it really been over a month since I last posted? Is anyone still reading?

We've been busy here surviving the last few weeks of winter and enjoying the spring (summer?) weather. I don't have any pictures to prove it but we had a wonderful Easter spending Sunday with a priest friend in Manhattan. We went to a fabulous Mass with wonderful music and then took a long walk in Central Park with about 4 million other people. We have a real knack for picking the most popular holiday destinations--we went to Rockefeller Center and St. Patrick's Cathedral on Christmas Day.

At home we've been busy making our house work better for us. We briefly considered aggressively pursuing home ownership because we'd love a home that works really well for Joseph. But we decided instead to save up for awhile and make our current rental work better for us. We love this house and its location so we don't mind staying put for a bit.

Our biggest problem was that the kids were sleeping upstairs. Joseph is getting too heavy for me to carry up and down stairs and we want his bed and clothes and everything to be more accessible to him. We suggested to him that he could sleep downstairs in what we'd been calling the "playroom" which is right off the living room but he didn't want to sleep alone and we couldn't figure out how to fit two beds in there given the constraints of the piano and our "fireplace" (hating that thing more all the time!). It finally occurred to us to try bunk beds. We hemmed and hawed about Margaret being on top but finally decided to go for it. They were a big hit with the kids.

The beds were plain, unfinished pine. I don't particularly care for light-colored wood and they were getting grubby fast. I spent last weekend finishing them and I'm pretty pleased with my first try at staining and coating wood furniture.



I think it's a big improvement and I'm excited to try my hand at some more wood-working and home improvement.

But, first . . . .

Putting the kids bedroom right in the main living space (there is just a double doorway separating this room from the living room) is awkward for using the living room in the evenings and it meant losing our "guest room." The futon is still in the kids room. We were also left with an empty upstairs bedroom. We moved our bedroom into where the kids used to sleep. It's a bigger room and the design works much better for us while William is still sleeping with us. There is room for our king-size bed, a toddler bed, three large bookshelves and two dressers. The room at the top of the stairs we turned into a sitting room with some on-sale IKEA chairs:

The braided rug was made by Eric's grandmother (Eric's mom made the one in our living room) and the bookcase has been around forever. I'm hoping to refinish it with the help of my new power sander :) The coffee table came to us courtesy of bulk trash day. Twice a month the city will collect anything you leave on the curb and one morning we were headed out to Mass and saw that our neighbors across the street had left out this perfectly good coffee table. Our furniture budget was maxed out after the beds and chairs but this room really needed something. Eric almost broke his back hauling this wood and metal piece up our stairs but it works pretty well.

Also gracing this room is the antique roll-top that has been in my family forever (and that door goes to the stairs):

And Joseph's old bed:

We intended for Joseph to use this bed on his bunk but when we tried it out we discovered that it was about one inch too long. I don't think it's an official "extra long." It was given to us by someone from Canada. I made a bunch of nice pillow covers for all our spare pillows and put a king-size fitted sheet around both mattress and box spring and it passes for a day bed. That's pretty much our only closet there to the right.

This big rearrangement actually makes us more guest-friendly. We can now have a single guest sleep in this upstairs sitting room. Or, if a whole family visits, we can move to the futon in the kids room and offer the entire upstairs to guests. I know you all loved that futon but I hope we can make it up to you somehow on your next visit.

Eric made me promise to finish making curtains before tackling any other furniture re-finishing/building projects. We have horrible vertical blinds in our house. They are so popular in this neighborhood but they are definitely not our style. I've been replacing them with simple curtains in most of the rooms in our house. The top picture in this post is our new kitchen windows. I have only our bedroom left to do. It's nice to make this place our own a bit more. And maybe all these projects will get me posting more often.


Emily said...

love to see the improvements!! good work! keep the posts coming - they are great nursing reading :)

Lauren S. said...

I'm still reading! Glad to hear you're getting all settled (and are ready for guests...). Take care!

Anonymous said...

I am still reading, and excited to see a new post and more pictures of your home!!! It looks great! Maybe you can practice your furniture skills in May - you can play with all my Mom's furniture building tools! =) the House looks great, now I need to plan a trip to New Jersey to see it in person!

melanie said...

Wow, your place looks great! And I'm definitely more of a dark wood fan myself.