Custom Search

First Home Fix

First time home buyers, sprucing the place up with limited time and budget.

Do you need a home renovation intervention? Do you find yourself going from room to room trying to transform as much as you possibly can? We understand where you’re coming from. Which is why we decided to take a break.

Renovating a kitchen can knock the wind out of you and take a toll on your pocket book. It’s so easy to want to keep going, especially if you bought a fix’er upper like we did. Although, now that the kitchen is finished, or at least operable, we decided to kick back for awhile and enjoy the work we’ve done so far.

We’ve had a few dinner parties, cracked open the never used shower gifts that we received back in 2006, and we’re enjoying it. Although, we have to admit it…in some strange way, we do miss our nightly runs to Home Depot, the high pitched squeal of sawing wood, and the smell of a fresh coat of paint. That’s how we know we need an intervention. We realized we need to “get a life”…get out of the hardware store and do something else. Reconnect with friends, meet the neighbors, have date night. On that note, stay tuned! There will be more to come.

The day has finally come!  It was a BIG week for The Fixers.  We finally had our kitchen countertops installed along with the rest of our brand spankin’ new appliances!  As promised, here’s a post with some pictures.

Let’s start with the lovely before.  Please note the”Oh so 70’s” and “Oh so familiar”  Harvest Gold Linoleum Flooring (shout out to Gina and Brett for helping us remove this bad boy):

Our Kitchen Before

And now, the After:

Kitchen After

So here’s what we did:

  • Painted the existing upper cabinets since they were in decent shape (Benjamin Moore Dove White)
  • Closed a doorway and moved our new fridge (GE Profile with bottom freezer drawer) to where the doorway used to be
  • Added lower cabinets from Lowes, the Shenandoah Brand and painted them to match the uppers and one glass front upper above the sink
  • Added hardwood floors (Stained in Miniwax Provencial with a satin finish)
  • Carrera white marble countertops with an Ogee Edge
  • 24′ Rohl Shaw’s Apron Front Farmhouse sink from Asco Plumbing in Stamford, CT (Lauren V. is the best!)
  • Danze faucet also from Asco (thanks again Lauren!!)
  • Appliances compliments of Del-Mar Appliances in Delaware (Bruce, Beth, Joanne and Frank we can’t thank you enough).  Del-Mar is the absolute best appliance store by the way!  We went with all GE profile appliances-single double wall oven mounted under the countertop, new dishwasher, microwave with a vented hood and an induction cooktop
  • We pulled a lot of favors here…fortunately we’re blessed with the best family ever.  Thank you everyone for listening to us and helping us throughout this ordeal.  Here are some  shout outs: Thanks for pointing us in the right direction, for helping getting us get some amazing prices (Cousin Ron, Dad, and Mom), for washing our dishes when we didn’t have a sink (Mom), for giving us some great ideas (Moms and Dads and company like Footer, Aunt Nancy, Aunt Fran, Aunt Jo, Aunt Darlene, Aunt Caroline), moral support and prep work (our cutie cousins Amanda, Gina, Lauren, Brett and great friends like Stan) and last but not least…for cooking meals for us when we overdosed on take-out (Mom, Aunts, Friends and neighbors too)! xoxo
  • We still have a few things left to do, like the back-splash and hardware knobs and pulls.  In the meantime, we’re learning how to cook again and trying to figure out how to use these new gadgets.   Don’t worry, we’ll keep you posted!

A Bad Case of Paint Color ADHD

It’s nearly impossible to talk about a home renovation and not mention paint.   Let’s face it, a fresh coat of paint can give you a really big bang for your buck, it can instantly transform a room.  Although, not all transformations are necessarily good transformations, which is the reason why choosing the right paint color can challenge the hidden Picasso in all of us. Why is this such a daunting task? I’m not exactly sure, but here is a list of some of the tips we learned along the way.

  1. Narrow Down Your Choices. We used Benjamin Moore for all of our interior painting.  For one, a painter recommended it.  When he did, I was relieved.  Not only because Benjamin Moore paint has a great reputation, but because it helped narrow down the selection.  We had a serious case of paint color ADHD.  We needed focus and by sticking to one brand, it helped.
  2. Don’t Forget the Ceiling. Our 1952 ranch barely has 8 foot ceilings.  In order to add the appearance of height, a paint color expert (who we met at the paint store) shared this really helpful (and free) tip.  She said that too much of a contrast between the walls and ceiling closes off the ceiling and makes it appear closer.  Her suggestion—paint the ceiling 60% of the formula that you choose for the walls.  Or, if you want to get a little bit creative, you can pick a totally different color for your ceiling.  For example, look at the paint color swatch card for your wall choice and then choose a ceiling color a few shades lighter.  She referred to the ceiling as the 5th wall, like 4 wasn’t enough.  We  took her advice and tried this in our bathroom.  We have Hazy Blue (2040-50) on the walls and Spring Mint (2040-70) on the ceiling.  If you’re adding crown molding, this trick also makes the moldings stand out.
    Spring Mint

    Benjamin Moore Spring Mint

    Benjamin Moore Hazy Blue

    Benjamin Moore Hazy Blue

  3. Keep Your Color Palette Tight. It was very tempting to pick a different color for each room in order to give each room it’s own unique look and feel.  But our trusted paint expert advised against this.  Her advice: by keeping the colors that you choose for each room (especially rooms that lead from one to the other) in the same “family” or even the same color, the rooms will flow better and your house may appear roomier.  You can play around with formulas here too, for example, one room at 100% of color formula, but the room that gets less light the same color at 60%.  This also helps you narrow down your color choices!  You can still accomplish the “unique look and feel” with furniture and accents, you don’t have to do this with wall color.  We’re not exactly at the furniture and accent stage yet, but we’ll fill you in on how it goes.
  4. Ask the “Experts”. You may be surprised how many people love to give free advice.  As we mentioned earlier, we found a paint expert in the paint store (of all places).  When you find someone who obviously knows what they’re doing, or at least looks like they do, don’t be afraid to ask!  Interior designers live among us!  They’re everywhere.  Some are true professionals with degrees and experience.  And some are our relatives and friends who have a great eye for color and style.  We happen to be blessed with a family of artists (although we haven’t yet uncovered this gene in ourselves).  If you still can’t think of anyone to ask, try hanging out in furniture stores.  Catalogs such as Pottery Barn will even list the paint color they use in their pictures, and Ethan Allen does the same thing in their show rooms.    Also, the people who work in these stores may offer some great ideas as well.

Picture 1 courtesy of Readersdigest.com, pictures 2 and 3 are from myperfectpaintcolor.com

Spring Fever

 Propane Grills, Charcoal Grills, Gas Grills…quite a few choices! 

Every year around tihs time, winter seems to overstay its welcome.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m an East Coast Girl at heart.  Loving that we have four beautiful seasons each year.  Although, I’m so ready for Spring.  I’m ready to pack up “Big Brown” (the nickname affectionately given to my full length-down filled-winter coat)  and start thinking about spending more time outdoors.  Can’t think about the outdoors without thinking about Grilling and Chillin.  Here is a coupon code in case you need it Save 5% Off all Weber Grills, up to $30off. Use coupon code "webergrills".

In my Dreams Siding

Our Home

We’re almost finished with the kitchen renovation and we pledged to take a home renovation break for awhile.  But why do I find myself day dreaming about siding!  It’s such a bad idea to take that project on right now, or any time in the near future,  but it is fun to dream.  So just for fun, here are some pictures of what our current siding looks like (the lovely green vinyl is ours in case you couldn’t tell) and some pictures of what I’ve been dreaming about.  Keep in mind, we’re going for a New England cottage by the sea look for our 1952 Ranch with a bonus room.

Picture 1 courtesy of tristonewindowfactory.com

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living in our home for almost one year.  What a busy year it’s been.   As first timers, we certainly learned a lot along the way.  With the one year anniversary creeping up on us, it got us thinking…if we could do it all over again, what would we do differently?   A few things came to mind, but here is a list of the top 5.

1. Not installing a utility sink in the laundry room-would have come in handy during the months without a kitchen sink.

2.  Painting and trimming a room and then deciding to knock it down-even our handyman got annoyed with us for doing this.  But it turned out to be the best change, opening up the room and widening a doorway.

3. Assuming that you have to buy everything at Home Depot-don’t get me wrong, we have a special place in our heart for this store, but there are some good deals to be found at locally owned, specialty hardware stores.

4.  Installing a white ceramic floor in the bathroom-we are each cleaning this thing daily!

5.  Decided to insulate the attic after we packed it with stuff.  Oops.  Maybe this project will inspire a spring yard sale?!?

We have to admit, even though it’s been a lot of work, the reward is huge.

Picture courtesy of House Beautiful

As we told you earlier, we decided to go with the Honed Carrera Marble for our galley kitchen countertops.  We thought we knew what wanted and were all done thinking about this…until…the fabricator asked us a question that made us think twice: “Why honed?  It will look old, dull, and show stains”.  Well, I’m okay with old, that’s kind of like antique and I love antique but dull and stained, that’s another story.  We went back to the drawing board and did some research.  Here’s what we learned.  When it comes to marble countertops, you have to pick what you think is the lesser of two evils: staining or etching.  Honed, in some cases is actually marble with the polished removed.  By removing the polish, the stone becomes porous again and stains can sink in.  The polish on the other hand, can act as a stain barrier, however, anything acidic like lemon juice or wine (both are necessary in a kitchen) will etch the polish.  We thought about both scenarios and decided to go with the honed.  The reason being, staining can be minimized with a good sealer.  Etching on the other hand, is hard to avoid, and in order to repair it, we’d have to call in a polisher.  What about appearance?  Well, the honed is said to age gracefully, showing it’s age but with pride.  Where the polished may highlight the flaws that add up over the years.

White Marble Countertops...Not practicle, but it sure is pretty!

Granite vs. Marble?  So, we did the research and as far as durability, granite certainly comes out on top!  But, I just loooove the look of an all white kitchen with white marble countertops.  I tried to be practical, I swear.  I even tried to find a granite that looks like marble… it just wasn’t the same.  We even sought the help of an expert, a knowledgable and patient stone sales woman.  After viewing slab after slab of beautiful rocks (and she had a lot of slabs) she finally said the magic words that made the decision, “You obviously love the marble, why not just get it”.  There you have it, marble it is!  Carrera honed marble to be exact.  It is stunning!  For those of you who are curious, there really aren’t any truly white granites, however, there were a few that almost made the cut.  Kashmir White and Wine River were definite contenders in the granite category.  For the marbles, it was between Carrera and Calacutta.  I found Carrera to have a lot of gray, where the Calacutta had some gold undertones which would have looked beautiful with our provencial stained hardwood floors.  We would have went with the Calacutta, until we found out the price.  Budget you ask?  Well both choices aren’t exactly budget friendly, but the Carrera vs. Kashmir turned out to be pretty close in price.  And to answer the question above…yes, we have lost our marbles.  Can anyone recommend some great cutting boards?  Can’t wait to post pictures of a finished kitchen.  Stay tuned…

Picture courtesy of nameisgrace.blogspot.com

A Furnished Living Room (not ours)

First thing on the furniture wish list is an interior decorator!  Waaaaay too many choices.  Luckily we have a limited budget so that helps narrow things down.    On the positive, we are working with a blank canvas.  I do  have a theme in mind, if you consider beachy-chic-french country cottage-sophisticate a theme.  Still a few months away from crossing furniture off the “to do” list.  In the meantime, it’s been fun looking around and getting ideas.

All-Clad Digital Slow Cooker

A Kitchen Renovation Life Saver

So we’ve been without a kitchen for several weeks, maybe even months…stopped counting.  Living on take out and a gas grill.  It hasn’t been too bad actually, but we are looking forward to the cozy smell of a simmering slow cooked meal at the end of a long day.  For those of you who don’t have a slow cooker, I highly recommend you get one.  We started out with a $20 model and used it for years.  Although, last year we decided to cash in a Williams-Sonoma gift card that we got as a wedding gift and upgraded to digital.  It’s way more expensive, but has a lot extra features that are key for those who work long days.  It’s pretty sad when you can’t make it home in less than 10 hours to turn the slow cooker to simmer, but it happens.  The digital version switches modes automatically.  You can even brown meat right in the insert, just plop it on the stove.  I’ll have to share some recipes and please feel free to post some if you have any.