Plans for the first floor

Now that the dust has settled (and been removed) let’s chat about the major reno for the year. We’re taking on most of the rest of downstairs. Functionally, that means we’re tackling the entry cube (fire hose lights, your days are numbered), downstairs living room, dining room and half bath. Here’s a bit of the floor plan for reference.

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When we are done, the only part of the first floor that will be relatively untouched is the kitchen. We really wanted to tackle everything at once, but a financing hiccup put the kitchen on hold. It’s a bit of a bummer (and a story for a different day) but we’re both very excited to use space that has basically been a landing zone/construction area the entire time we’ve lived here.

So what’s on tap? Here’s a high level overview.

Overall

  • Finish the HVAC
  • Fix the drywall
  • Remove and repair the plaster on the ceiling
  • Paint walls, ceiling and now the floor, because blah

Entry cube

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This connects the studio to the living space. The only “finished” thing about it is the lights. Besides that it’s a jumble of half-mudded drywall. Here’s what we’ll do:

  • Ditch the fire hose lights (Don’t worry. We’ll find a good home for them.)
  • Install a commercial door that fits the character of the space
  • Hang a new light and maybe some art

Half bath

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This small bathroom got a big upgrade when we replaced the windows on the first floor before we moved in. It’s totally functional, which is great because it gets a lot of use since it is the only bathroom on this floor. This space only needs some cosmetic touch ups:

  • Refinish the sink
  • Fix the ceiling – It has some random holes, a few fans (one works, one doesn’t) and an old, ugly light fixture
  • New lighting
  • Add some functional storage and a mirror

Dining room

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The dining room also got a new window. Since then it has basically been a staging place for tools, except for the one time I cleaned it before our open house. In this area, we’ll:

  • Add a window
  • Procure/buy new furniture (we’re pondering a custom table)
  • Build the coolest light fixture we can imagine that we’ve wanted to hang somewhere for years
  • Finish it with art and accessories, maybe an indoor tree?

When we tackle the kitchen, we’ll bust down the wall between these spaces. In the interim, we’re going to close the kitchen off with a swinging restaurant door and new frosted glass for the transom.

Living room

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We have big plans for this space! We already have a very comfortable TV/movie watching area, so we want this to function as a great place to relax and entertain. We’ll still incorporate a TV (in case we want to toss the football game on during Thanksgiving) but the main focus will be chilling in front of the fireplace. Here’s the plan:

  • Add TWO news windows that flank a new fireplace (EEE!) You can sneak a peek at the layout at the end of this post.
  • Create (or buy) a storage unit that includes a hidden TV and firewood storage
  • Layer in furnishings, accessories, lighting and art

This project is actually slated to start AFTER the workshop, but we wanted to take advantage of the nice weather to get the windows cut out (by a mason) and then installed (by Aaron.) So I’ll have another post on that when they go in, then work in this space will halt while we get the workshop done and finally make a home for the tools.

Powering the basement and starting the first floor reno

One advantage to living in a space before you make any changes is that you really get the chance to think about things and get input from other people. A big hurdle for the basement, in particular the workshop, is the lack of power. There is only one circuit down there, which, frankly, isn’t enough for all the power tools and lights that need to live in that space. Aaron was resigned to only using one tool at a time, when a conversation with my dad led to the revelation that adding a sub-panel would be remarkably easy.

It required running conduit from the panel in the living room, through the studio and down to the basement through the furnace room. Which worked out really well, because we already needed to reroute some electrical runs in the living room to account for two new windows we want to add.

Let’s take a look. The living room power ran from the panel, over the stairwell door and then down to provide outlets in the space.

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We decided to push all of this higher and add a run of conduit to power the basement subpanel. While this is well within Aaron’s capabilities, in the interest of time, we decided to get a few quotes for the work. The winning bid came out to just a few hundred dollars for labor (we considered parts a wash as we would need them no matter who did the work), which seemed well worth it! Over the span of a few days, the electrician added the new runs and removed the unnecessary conduit.

Before

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After (Don’t worry. We replaced the cover on the panel.)

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Before

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After – The conduit is much higher! It’s touching a portion of the wall that the previous owner decided to paint (well… started painting) black. Because it’s always a good idea to make your ceiling feel lower than it is. (Sarcasm.) Eventually, this will all get painted (predictably) white.

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Before

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After

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Before

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After

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This is a super functional update, but it paved the way for exciting things, like new windows (!!!) and FINALLY tackling the workshop. And maybe you already figured out from the tape that we’re going to add a fireplace! I’ll give you the full low down on the plans for the first floor in the next post.

House Hunters: Where Are They Now? March 9

Where ARE we? Well, right here, of course. But I guess all of TV land doesn’t follow our blog. So the kind folks at House Hunters offered to have us back on national television. We said, “Yes!” and then promptly made a bunch of updates in the fall (like making the courtyard come to life.)

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This round of taping we spent one really easy day with the same producer (Hi Darcy!), same video guy (Hi Kevin!) and a super nice, new sound guy. Because our segment is only part of a half hour show and the focus is squarely on what we’ve done around this place, we spent more time off camera than on. That was fine by me! Less pressure, only one wardrobe change and potentially less time where my face literally fills the screen. (Yikes!)

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Anyways, I digress. The whole point of popping in here is to tell you that we have an air date: March 9th at 9 pm CST! So set your DVR and grab your favorite snack, because the firehouse is coming to the big… err little screen! If you’re a regular reader you won’t be surprised by any of the changes, but we always hear that it’s easier to grasp the firehouse once you’ve seen it in person. So this is a great way to invite all our virtual friends into our humble a(fire)bode.

Oh, and because I’m sure everyone wants to know whether Mojo will make an appearance, she did get in on some of the taping. But mostly she spent her time like this (because being a TV star is hard, guys):

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Seriously, she slept on her bed in the studio (behind the couch you see in the middle picture) for most of our interview. Occasionally we would have to stop shooting if she sat up because you could see see her over our shoulder. What I wouldn’t give for footage of some of the bloopers from this whole experience…

Two years in

Are recaps annoying? If so, I won’t blame you for skipping this post. I’m doing this for me and for him.

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Yeah, that guy. That guy who does amazing things around here. That guy who works tirelessly to make this place amazing. He rocks.

But sometimes he forgets (so do I). We forget how much we can do and do do in a year. So this post is a good time capsule of what the firehouse looks like RIGHT now, a sweet reminder of what changed in the last 365, and a peek into what we have in store for the coming year.

Exterior

The front stayed pretty much the same all year.

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But the back had a radical transformation! We finished the fence!

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Then we spent more hours than I’d like to remember transforming the carport into the sexiest garage known to man.

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We also realized we built something that basically resembled a courtyard and made it pretty!

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First floor

The studio remains our most finished interior space… although it got a little junky this winter when we decided to bring the the trailer in to get it done.

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The future living and dining rooms have descended into complete chaos thanks to the trailer work and lack of a workshop (more on that at the bottom of the post.)

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Rounding out the downstairs, the kitchen and the half bath remain the same, functional-but-not-pretty spaces.

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Upstairs

Painting the stairwell offers a nice visual transition from “construction zone” to “where we spend most of our time.”

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It’s easy for us to forget that about a year ago the living room looked like this:

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and then this…

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before finally becoming a serene place to relax, complete with a new paint job, new lighting, some new furnishings, a bar cart and some art!

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The captain’s bedroom also got upgraded from “theoretically a guest bedroom” to “actual place where people could sleep” thanks to the addition of a bed.

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The hallway’s paint job straddled the “this year vs last year” line. It also got some sweet new art.

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The rest of the upstairs rooms remained untouched this year.

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Basement

Despite our intentions to work on the workshop last year, we only got as far as framing out some of it.

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Personal

Since this is a bit of a digital scrapbook post, it’s worth noting that we took a CRAZY AMAZING vacation to the Pacific Northwest in August and launched our print shop! Yay!

 

You made it this far?! Good job. Extra points if you are not related to us. Speaking of, if you are my parents and have some sort of bet going about what we’ll be tackling, time to lock in your wager and put your money where your mouth is.

So what’s next?
1. The trailer is moving closer and closer to the finish line each day. We owe you an update.
2. You know what goes great with a project? Another project. We decided to tackle the captain’s bedroom… and we owe you an update.
3. The workshop: It’s not anyone’s favorite project. We both just want it done, but we’re less excited about the actual doing. I can’t wait to get the tools off my floor.
4. The downstairs living room, dining room, half bath and entry cube are slated for a complete overhaul!! We have huge plans for these spaces! (And, of course, we need more white paint.)

Those are the definite projects and will probably last us most of the year. There’s still a chance we’ll tear in to the awesome bathroom to make it more functional or build out our wine cellar. Only time (money and energy) will tell.

Speaking of posts I do even if you don’t care about them. Does anyone like the updates to the master plan? Without YHL as a guiding force, I have no idea what blog audiences want to see.

Our principles for buying art

Ever since we started thinking about the finishing spaces in the firehouse we’ve been pondering and pinning and discussing art. There is so much out there, especially when you consider price points and style. We landed on two principles to help guide our search.

While we’d love to have all original pieces, we really still need money for food… and a firehouse renovation. Still we see authentic art (original works or limited edition, numbered pieces) as an investment in artists. As artists ourselves we care that artwork is valued. We want to own unique pieces that may have value down the road. That led to principle one: We will only buy original signed pieces or limited edition (numbered works.)

We are so fortunate that we agree on most aesthetic choices for our living space. When it comes to art, there’s a little more divergence. I’ve long been a fan of impressionism, especially Claude Monet, and that’s just not Aaron’s jam. He often gravitates toward sculptural pieces and I rarely think those work in residential spaces. Luckily there’s still a huge middle ground. We both love moody work (show us just about anything with fog and we’re captivated.) We also have a huge appreciation for mediums that we have no skill in, like drawing. And, thankfully, he likes some impressionistic work 🙂

This drove our other guiding principle: We both have to like any piece we purchase. That doesn’t mean we both have to be heads over heels about each piece, but we both have to appreciate it and want it in our house.

Obviously, this is going to be a process. We’re not running to a big box store to grab something to hang on the wall just because we want a room done. But we appreciate the process. We love that it gives us a reason to walk through an art fair (and maybe walk away with one of my favorite pieces of art to date – the guy at the end of this post who really deserved his own feature. Love him! ) while we envision different works in our space and discuss what we like (or don’t) about a work.

Sometimes that discussion and the decision to buy is really, really easy.

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In a recent jaunt to the Green Shag Market this piece instantly caught my eye. I didn’t say anything because I wanted to see if Aaron noticed it as well. It took less than 60 seconds for him to say “Woah! Look at this piece.”

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So, yeah, we both like it. It’s a relief print, which may be a little hard to see in the pictures. It has lots of movement and obviously a huge burst of color, which offers some nice contrast.

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It’s an interesting piece because it’s understated and bold at the same time, quiet and loud, a great juxtaposition.

And it’s named, signed and dated. “Release” by M. Dean, number 9/50 from 1978.

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We did a quick check via Google just to see if we had stumbled upon a gem. We think it’s a piece from Meredith Dean, an artist who studied at Washington University in the late 60’s and late 80’s. She’s been heavily involved in the art world and currently is a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio. We think it’s one of her early pieces. We reached out to her but haven’t heard any response.

None of that really mattered, we were happy to tote this piece home with us. (Although if we ever run across an awesome, piece like Yellow Brick Home did, I’ll do a seriously nerdy, white girl happy dance in the middle of the store.) It doesn’t have a home quite yet, but it’s ready and waiting for the right space.