Bringing the Living Room To Life

Happy Monday! I cannot believe it’s December! How did this happen? It’s insane. December means I’ve officially lived in Portland for four months. It definitely feels like I moved yesterday! However, four months seems to be about the amount of time it takes me to bring a room together because the living room is finally in a good place. It’s been all over the place since we moved here, but has always seemed un-finished slightly sad, now things are beginning to look more permanent!

Do you remember when I moved in and it looked like this? A pile of boxes, some old IKEA furniture, and my plants scattered over every surface. It was right as we were moving in and the space was in the midst of being cleaned, cleaned, cleaned!

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

Eventually it began to slowly transform as we settled into the Duplex and started to get more organized. The room became a place holder for mix-matched furniture  and art we already owned.

Living Room | Land of Laurel

But it still didn’t feel quite right. Things needed adjustments. We didn’t have a sofa (because I couldn’t quite find the perfect one at the perfect price), the faux cowhide rug wasn’t very cozy, and the furniture arrangement needed tweaking to create a more conversation oriented layout. Still, it wasn’t bad, just temporary. Things were looking so much better than when we first moved in!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Well things have continued to move around and now this space actually feels like a comfortable place to hang out! The biggest change, however, came from another room in the house! Remember the rug I bought right after ripping out the carpet and painting the subfloor in the bonus room? It’s a great Moroccan Inspired white and charcoal 8’x10′ rug that’s oh so soft and cozy! We loved it in here, but it was a tad large for the space (which I knew when I bought it) and it seemed sad to waste such a lovely rug on a space we hardly used.

Furniture in the Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

It lived up there for about a week and a half until I decided we needed to really rearrange. The next Saturday I rolled up the rug and dragged it downstairs (literally). That day I also finally decided I wasn’t going to buy a sofa for the Duplex. This place is a transitionary home and I’d rather buy a sofa for the Portland home I decide to live in more permanently when my lease here is up in June. Since I am not going to buy a sofa, it made sense for my roommate’s futon to take on that roll downstairs. So that needed to change locations as well! Down the stairs it went (I moved this by myself and nearly died when it decided to try to take me with it when I was sliding it down the staircase). I continued moving furniture around. The bench that served as primary seating before? Poof! Up into the bonus room it went. I tried the rug a couple of ways before sliding it into it’s final position and plopping the furniture back down. I also grabbed a canvas drop cloth I had in the garage and draped it over the purple futon to brighten it up. The black mud cloth stayed and popped more against it’s new white backdrop! The rest of the furniture in the room stayed and just got moved around a little bit. The entire space feels so much brighter and cleaner now! Don’t get me wrong, there’s still plenty to do, but this finally feels like a good space!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Moving the rug and the futon downstairs was a huge change for the better! The room feels so much cozier and put together and a million other things. The only thing I really want to switch out now is the TV console, which I’d love to replace with an old dresser. Other than that, everything is here to stay! Luckily, even though I bought the rug for upstairs, it fits perfectly down in here! I laid it about 10″ from the window wall (to clear space for the heater vent that’s behind the sofa) and it ends with just enough room for the stools to slide out when you’re sitting at the counter. Jackson has taken over the old cherry-crate-turned-cat-bed I made Malary back in Berkeley. I placed it over in this corner to help fill in the space by the snake plant and pantry cabinet and it has become his new favorite place to sleep.

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I promise he’s not as crosseyed as this photo makes him look. He’s quickly become part of our home and absolutely dotes on Malary – following her around constantly – which annoys her to no end!

Most everything in the room is repurposed from before, but I did buy a few things in the last few weeks. The fiddle leaf fig tree came home after my last Home Depot trip. It’s hanging out in front of the fixed panel on the slider door for now and I’m hoping to give it a nice long life. We only have eastern and northern light in this house, which I’m hoping is enough for it to thrive. I’ve decided it’s large enough to deserve a name, so I’m calling her Finley. This spot is bright in the morning through early afternoon, but doesn’t get any of the hot evening sun. In fact after 2pm or so this room is a little dim. Anyone else have a fiddle leaf fig? Let me know your tricks for keeping it alive! I’ve wanted one for ages and when I stumbled upon this nice tall one, I jumped on her! The deer head is also new – an impulse buy from Cost Plus World Market. I kind of love it! It’s green and red and gold; my favorite colors!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

This room feels so much nicer these days and we’re using it so much more. Before it was definitely a transitionary space both in look and use. We mostly passed through here on the way to our bedrooms. We’d rarely hang out down here since there was no where cozy to lounge. Now with the futon and the comfy rug, it’s just as likely you’ll find us laying on one as the other! I swear this rug is so fluffy underfoot you just want to stick your face on it!

Living Room | Land of Laurel

It’s a far cry from where we started right?

The Duplex Moving In Tour | Land of Laurel

The space is transformed and now it’s perfect for board game nights and curling up with popcorn to watch a movie. It’s cozy for winter and winters last a long time in Portland! Plus I just can’t get enough of that deer head.

Living Room | Land of Laurel

Have you switched up a room with the simple addition of a new rug lately? It’s such a quick change and yet it can make the whole space feel completely different! I’ve been designing lots of custom rugs lately and they’ve been on my mind! I want to get around to writing a “what to look for in a rug” post soon. For now, you’ll find me curled up with a blanket and two sleepy cats on the futon (as I am right now). 🙂

 

 

 

The Long Weekend

Before we moved in, I walked the Duplex with my landlord and she pointed out several issues. One of those issues was the poorly laid LVT tiles downstairs, the other was the gross, old, stained carpet in the bonus room. She mentioned during this tour that she was considering replacing it with laminate. I heartily agreed. In my opinion, hard surface flooring is the way to go in rentals. Carpet simply doesn’t last and gets gross quickly. For anyone who has allergies to dust or dander, carpet traps dirt and dust and even the strongest of vacuums can’t get it out. It’s affordable in the short term, but over time, the cost of ripping up and replacing carpet adds up quickly.

Fast forward two and a half months. I reached out to our landlord via email and asked about her timeline for replacing the flooring on the stairs and in the bonus room. The carpet was nasty and a little smelly. I’d gone to Home Depot and gotten a quote on the installation and labor for a laminate floor. Home Depot estimated $250 in costs to remove the existing carpet and $850 in labor and materials to replace everything with an inexpensive laminate. The bulk of that cost was in the expensive laminate stair treads.

Unfortunately, life happens, and due to some unforeseeable personal matters, replacing the flooring was no longer in her plan or budget. So I suggested something else. What if I ripped out all the carpeting and painted the subfloor? A quick look around the internet told me I could do this for under $250. I proposed this solution as a way to make me happy in the short run, and allow her to spend on new flooring when she was ready. With her approval (yay! Happy dance!) I planned my attack. It was less than 200 SF so I figured I could knock everything out in a weekend. Little did I know how back breaking that would be.

My weekend commenced and proceeded to look a little something like this:

Friday

5:50pm – arrive home from work

6:00pm – quickly eat left overs from fridge, change clothes

Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

6:15pm – move all the furniture out of the bonus room

Empty Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

6:30pm – begin ripping up all the carpet

7:30pm – finish ripping all the carpet out

Carpet Gone! | Land of Laurel

7:45pm – finish ripping all the carpet pad out, try not to gag looking at the amount of dirt that’s been hidden under the carpet for going on 20 years (see brown smears in picture, much more obvious in person!)

Dust Under Carpet | Land of Laurel

8:00pm – finish carting all the carpet and pad into the car (laying it on top of a tarp to protect the van)

Stairs Carpet Pad | Land of Laurel

9:30pm – finish pulling up all the tack strips, add these to the pile of stuff in the car

9:45pm – sweep floors

10:00pm – vacuum flooring

10:15pm – begin pulling the 253 billion staples out of the stair treads/risers with a pair of needle nosed pliers

10:30pm – my roommate comes home and helps pull out staples from the bonus room

11:30pm – roommate goes to bed

1:00am – finish removing all the staples I can find (approximately 589 trillion)

1:30am – fall into bed, showered, but sore

Saturday

8:00am – alarm goes off

8:45am – finish breakfast and dress in project clothes

9:00am – sweep floors

9:15am – vacuum floors, assess supplies, realize I don’t own a spackling knife, hope the tinted primer works well with the paint selection

Supplies | Land of Laurel

9:30am – wipe down floors with wet cloth, remove the 33 million more staples I find while doing this

Ready for Paint | Land of Laurel

10:00am – run to Home Depot for spackling knife

10:30am begin filling screw holes, saw cuts, and spaces between particle board panels, day dream about how much easier than paint prep, painting will be

Wood Filler | Land of Laurel

1:00pm – eat quick lunch of something you just pop into the oven from Trader Joes

2:00pm – hop into car

2:30pm – buy Benjamin Moore Natura Semi-Gloss paint in Waynesboro Taupe at Powell’s Paint. Color selected quickly as the swatch  isn’t yellow-brown, but doesn’t clash with the trim and is light enough to help reflect light around this dark windowless room

3:00pm – arrive at Environmentally Conscious Recycling and weigh van

3:30pm – finish unloading car at ECR, weigh car again, pay minimum $25 fee

3:45pm – stop by Home Depot again for more wood filler and wood transition strips

4:00pm – fill remaining holes and cut marks

5:00pm – hop into shower

6:00pm – wash ibuprofen down with wine (not recommended) at Nikki’s, eat authentic homemade Japanese curry, try not to fall asleep on her sofa

10:00pm – fall into bed, more sore than before

Sunday

7:30am – alarm goes off, groan in pain, take more ibuprofen

8:00am – finish breakfast and get dressed in work clothes

8:15am – beginning cutting in Kilz Max Stain and Odor Blocker water based primer (highly recommend! Not too smelly – though I wore a mask – and had excellent coverage)

11:30am – finish cutting in primer, begin rolling primer

12:30pm – finish rolling in primer, eat lunch, take break while primer dries, realize I’ve missed tons of screw holes/cuts that will need to be filled

2:00pm – start second coat of primer in certain areas (like those that now have exposed wood filler)

3:00pm – wash brush and roller, eat snack, take break

6:30pm – install wood transition strips at entries to bedrooms and bathroom

7:00pm – start cutting in paint, realize wet paint is nearly the exact same color as dry primer and it is basically impossible to tell where you’ve painted or just primed, discover the paint (luckily) dries much darker. Primer is the main field color below with cut in dry paint on the right and cut in wet paint on the left!

Primer vs Paint | Land of Laurel

10:00pm – finish cutting in paint, start rolling

Cut in Paint | Land of Laurel

11:00pm – finish rolling, eat dinner,  shower

 

Painted Particle Board Subfloor | Land of Laurel

11:30pm – fall into bed more tired than ever, dreading work the next morning.

Whew! I’m exhausted just remembering all this! Yup, that was my weekend. My exhausting, back breaking, someone please feed me, weekend. And I am 100% glad I did it and 100% not willing to do it again any time soon. Especially since the next weekend I went back in, touched up a few spots I missed with paint (got to love Benjamin Moore paints that only required 1 coat!), and then sealed the floors with Safecoat Acrylic. I let that dry for another week before bringing the furniture back in.

We still have the futon in here for guests and all of the electronics on the built-in counter I want to drill a few holes and add some grommets to tame that mess. I did buy a nice big West Elm rug which I’m hoping will cozy up the space!

Furniture in the Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

You can see here how the window in the stairwell sits low, below the half-wall railing in the bonus room, preventing much light from illuminating this room. Even in the middle of the afternoon, this room is pretty dim. A light colored paint on the floor was a must for brightening up the space!

Bonus Room | Land of Laurel

Our yellow brown trim will always stand out pretty starkly, but that’s the nature of it. If the room was brighter, I would have painted the floors a nice deep black. The trim would still have popped against the black, but the room would have been dark dark dark! In person the color is the perfect blah tone that fades away on the floor, letting everything else speak for itself. I don’t mean that in a bad way at all! It’s a nice safe background. This picture below shows it very close to how it looks in person.

Painted Particle Board Subfloor | Land of Laurel

And this post wouldn’t be complete without a kitten photobombing, so here we go, model pose!

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How much did it all cost?

Supplies and a Gallon of Primer cost about $60

Benjamin Moore Natura Paint Gallon also $60

Recycling Fee for the carpet $25

Safecoat Acrylic Sealer $95

Which left me spending about $240 which my landlord happily reimbursed me for. Although the labor was quite demanding, I’m pleased with the result and couldn’t be happier for the change! It’s mush nicer walking on the painted and sealed subfloor. I don’t miss that gross carpet one bit!

Have you ever painted subfloor? How has it held up for you over time? Although painting didn’t take long, I was a bit shocked at the number of staples that needed to be pulled up. My hand had the imprint of the pliers for a week afterwards!

 

 

 

 

 

Hanging in there!

Woah. Did you guys watch the Walking Dead last Sunday? Because, I need to talk to somebody about that punch-you-in-the-face, heart- wrenching, knock-you-dead season premiere! So violent. So psychotic. So depressing. Wowza! Let me know your thoughts. I need to talk about it with somebody or I’ll go crazy.

In other news, I am no longer living with all my pots and pans sitting on the counter! Nice segue, right? Remember when I filled up my china hutch-turned-pantry and started pulling this kitchen together? I shared this shot:

China Cabinet Pantry | Land of Laurel

Well, take a look at this and see if you can spot the difference:

China Hutch Pantry and Pegboard | Land of Laurel

No the dead plant is still the same dead plant (really need to get my s*** together and share a shot of the lovely new snake plant which now lives in that pot!). And no the random lamp on the floor isn’t anything new (you should remember that lamp from long ago). It’s the pegboard over in the kitchen! That’s right! Vertical storage wins again!

Now rather than moving 15 million pots and pans around every time I need to use the counter space, I can actually use the counter space! It’s the little things, people! The back wall of our kitchen was so under utilized before. A big blank wall with nothing but some mismatched trash/recycling receptacles was not an ideal situation in a kitchen lacking storage.

Kitchen Before | Land of Laurel

There just is no reason for this wall to have so little purpose. And no reason for all those pots to sit on the counter. Now? Much better.

Kitchen Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Matching trash and recycling containers from IKEA (I spray painted the recycling bin green) plus a pegboard adds up to a much nicer view. Most of the pots and pans are my roommate’s, but the center column holds my cast iron pans and the one pot I’ve had since college. My Staub dutch oven and pie pans live in the china hutch. Having all the pots and pans within such easy reach is absolutely wonderful. I just reach over any time I need any thing, I much prefer it to digging through the lower cabinets. Putting together the pegboard was super easy. Anyone can do it as long as you have the right tools.

I picked up the actual pegboard at Home Depot and had them cut down the 4’x8′ size to the dimension I wanted: 3′ x 6′. They offer this service free, so take them up on it if you don’t have the correct cutting tools. While I was there I grabbed a couple of 8′ long 1x2s to pop the board off the wall (allowing the hangers to slip in) and some 1x3s to trim the board out.

At home, two quick cuts later and I had the boards ready for the back of pegboard. Excuse the dark garage photos. There are worse pictures yet to come. Cutting the 8 foot boards down to just under 6′ allowed me to have boards along the lengths of the pegboard and the top and bottom. They didn’t need to be perfect since they were purely for function and wouldn’t be visible. I screwed them in from the back so they were completely invisible (like ninjas) from the front.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

The trim pieces were almost as simple: set saw to 45 degree angle and cut.  But of course I started right off with a mistake. Luckily I was able to reuse the board for the top and bottom trim pieces and didn’t waste much.

Cutting Error | Land of Laurel

Once I turned my brain on, I quickly made the rest of the cuts. Each length was an inch longer than my pegboard so the trim would stick out from it on all sides. I then screwed all of these boards into the pegboard and things started taking shape. It looked so good, Malary decided to pose with the pegboard. It’s so nice to have such a supportive pet.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Since edges never match up entirely perfectly, I filled the mitered corners with wood filler and gave the same treatment to the more prominent knots.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Then I did some minor sanding (I get super lazy about sanding, but it’s a requirement so I tried to tough it out). After that, I filled the gaps where the trim meets the pegboard with some paintable caulk wiping up the excess with a wet finger. I like this little container because it stays good for a long time, rather than drying out immediately like the caulk guns.

Caulk | Land of Laurel

Once everything was caulked the board was functional, it just needed a coat of paint to spruce things up!

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Two coats of primer later, it was ready for some paint.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I chose Benjamin Moore’s Palladian Blue (HC-144) in their Natura line (zero-VOC) for the board. It’s a really light aqua tone that is subtle, but still stands out from white. It has quite a bit of grey in in and the swatch seems to be almost white, but once it’s up on the wall, BOOM! COLOR! Plus, I love Julia Child and she had teal-blue pegboards all over her kitchen, so I’m in good company! After two coats of paint, I did three coats of Safecoat Acrylic sealer in high-gloss. I wanted the board to be extra protected from water and oils. Once that was all done, it was time to bring it inside.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I hung the board on the wall with a few heavy duty D-rings hooked on hangers screwed into wall studs and it is fairly sturdy. I picked up this pegboard hardware kit at Home Depot too, which was way more than enough to hang the pots and pans. I have enough left over I might take the pegboard scraps and make another for the garage!

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Covered in pots, it really does make things look happy, colorful, and organized. I’m ready to sauté those carrots at a moments notice now.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Having our counters back and free for their original purpose (prep space) is delightful. Not looking at a pile of pots and pans every time I walk into the kitchen is pretty great too! The trash and recycling containers are just the right size for us too. I love the matching size and though not everyone would like the different colored recycling, it’s nice to easily be able to identify it as “the green one” when people come over.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

Plus I get to lovingly stare at my cast iron pans now. Definite bonus.

Pegboard | Land of Laurel

I love those pans… though I wouldn’t mind upgrading them to Lodge pans down the line. I’ve got these guys seasoned just perfectly now with just over a year of use. Cast iron is my favorite!

So if you have a blank wall – put it to use! Don’t fuss around with birds, put a pegboard on it! (I’m so Portland now).

Have you guys ever come up with creative storage solutions in your rental kitchens? I’d love some good ideas!