The dining room: before and (almost) after

The fixing and decorating continue to creep along here at the house.  While I’d certainly love for my fairy godmother to appear with a bag of money so we could finish it all at once, the slow pace means we’re appreciating each little improvement as it comes.  And finally, 6 months into living here, we have one room far enough along that we’re excited to show you guys what it looks like!  So we bring you: a blow-by-blow of the dining room!

First, let’s go back to the way it was when we first looked at the house.  Here’s the official photo of the room from the real estate listing:

dining room before

We had to re-do the room from top to bottom, not just decoratively but structurally as well.  You might recall one of our early posts when we discovered that the one wall (where the low side table is on the right in the above photo) had some major water damage inside and a section of it had to be rebuilt:



Ahhhhhh, much better.


Then there was the old, wrinkled, rotten carpet.  That was one of the first things to go.

All sliced up and ready for the dumpster!


And a section of the ceiling had to be replaced as well — again, water damage that hadn’t been addressed by the previous owners.


Once the wall and ceiling were fixed and the carpet replaced, we could focus on the actual look of the room.

You might recall from a post a few months ago, that we decided to go with a metallic wallpaper for the walls.  When we were fixing the wall with the water damage, we discovered a little patch of the original wallpaper under the thermostat…  and given that it was a wacky gold metallic flocked pattern, we wanted to make a nod to the original without being *quite* so wacky.

The original swatch:


So, we found a lovely gray and pewter pattern that was a bit shiny, but also more modern and elegant.  And we had our paper hanger friend put it up sideways, so that the pattern in the paper matched the shoji pattern in some of the woodwork throughout the house.

A close-up of the paper…


…and just after it was put up.  Yay!


Furniture-wise, we had no dining room furniture or other decor to put in the room.  But we were lucky enough to find what we needed over time, with the help of auctions, furniture sales, and friends.

We found the table and chairs set first, so at least we had a place to eat.  😛  And we were so in love with the acid yellow/green fabric on the chairs, because it really stands out against the gray wallpaper.



Then a couple of weekends ago, our awesome friend Maureen gave us a deal on a vintage credenza she was looking to get rid of.  It needed some sprucing up, but of course that meant that Jack got to go nuts with some Simichrome and tinted furniture oil, so he was a happy camper!

Oiling up the dings and scratches in the wood…


The drawer handles before — tarnished up from years of love and use…

IMG_2112The handles removed for easy polishing…


And now we play “guess which one has just been polished”!  🙂


Back on the credenza, good as (almost) new!


The credenza was the last big piece we needed to make the room feel like a dining room.  It gave us space to store our table linens, as well as some of our little tabletop decor…  and so with a big mirror and a few other touches, we’re just about finished!

*drumroll*  and…  voilá!


We’re so happy with how it turned out so far.  There are still some things we need to do to the room eventually, like remake the pinch-pleat drapes (had to throw them out due to the cigarette smoke damage) and eventually replace the light fixture…  but for now, it’s exactly what we wanted and makes it feel much more like home.  🙂

Sometimes, loving your house means just working to keep it standing.

20150307_112421_resizedSpriiiinnnngggggg is almost here!  This weekend the temps were just short of 50 degrees, and combined with the lengthening days, Jack and I got a burst of spring cleaning energy.  We’ve spent the past 2 days dusting, vacuuming, scrubbing, and just all-around straightening up.  It feels awesome.  Amazing to think that just a couple of days ago, the temps were in the single digits and we were dealing with the latest of a run of weather-related house mishaps…

But let’s go back a few weeks first.  We all know that this winter has SUCKED, especially day after day of super-low temps… and a few weeks ago, we became one of the statistics we were hearing about on the news.  Because our water main froze and burst.  Just as we sat down to dinner, we heard a sound that, to me, sounded like someone was spreading road salt in our driveway.  You know how the salt is so coarse, if you’re right behind the salt truck you can hear the pellets going *tink* *tink* against your car?  That’s what I heard.  And we had just hired someone to plow our driveway whenever we got a bad storm, so I figured the plow company was getting a jump on the next snow.  Jack, on the other hand, knew what that sound actually was — water shooting out of a pipe and hitting stuff, hard.  With a number of choice expletives, he shot out of his chair and disappeared into the garage.  Not realizing how bad the situation was, I moseyed in the direction he’d just run…  and opened the garage door to find him drenched from head to toe, standing in 6 inches of water, and everything in the garage soaking wet.

Thank goodness the pipe that burst was in our garage, and not inside the house.  And thank goodness we were home and heard it the moment it happened.  Because I can’t even imagine what the state of our house would have been if either of those things weren’t true.  Jack was able to shut off the main, and he set about squeegee-ing water outside (did I mention it was literally about 4 degrees out that night?) while I called every 24-hour plumber on Angie’s List.  No surprise, the handful of plumbers I managed to get a return call from were booked to the gills with emergency calls…  lots of burst pipes around town from the freezing temps.  Sigh.  Finally I found an amazing guy who agreed to come out and help us instead of going home from his final call…  he got here at 10pm and worked his hiney off until midnight.  (Including begging the local Home Depot to open up after they’d already closed for the night, so he could get a part he needed to fix our pipe.)  By the time he arrived, the garage was floor to ceiling ice — the floor was a skating rink, the walls were covered in ice drips, and the entire side of Jack’s ’55 was coated in ice as well.

You can see some of the ice if you look at the windows in this shot.  Brrrrr!


It was crazy.  But our new plumber-for-life rocked it, fixed the problem, and we went to bed relieved and yet worried what wintry problem might happen next.

The following week, we got our answer in the form of gurgling bathroom sinks and a shower that filled with water every time we used it.  Eek.  After calling our septic company to come out and pump the tank just in case (because we certainly didn’t want to risk that backing up, especially in the winter), we called our plumber bestie to have one of his guys come back to the house and snake the bathroom pipes.  He found all sorts of fun stuff way down in the pipes, stuff that shouldn’t be anywhere near a septic system like bathroom wipes and floofy toilet paper from the previous owner (you’re pretty much locked into using Scott toilet tissue when you have a septic system, anything else won’t break down the way you need it to).  But he cleared everything out, and got the pipes working like a champ.

Then this past Thursday, if you’d looked towards our backyard at 11pm, you would have seen Jack up on the roof with a shovel.  Because just before we went to bed, the roof over our master bathroom (goodness gracious, is that bathroom haunted?) started leaking.  Once again, it was the crazy weather — a buildup of snow and ice, with another 8 inches on top of it that day, finally made the roof cry “uncle”.  So Jack and I got out of our jammies, bundled up (the temps were in the single digits again), and slogged through the deep snow out to the backyard.  One of the cool things about our roof is that it’s a bit California-style, meaning it’s partly flat…  there’s a big flat lip of roof all the way around the house, and it points up in the middle.  Which makes the house look awesome…  but isn’t good when there’s piles of snow and ice on top of it.  There’s a reason houses in this part of the country all have pointy roofs — so the snow doesn’t lie flat on them in the winter.

Heading up in the dark…


Clearing the lighter snow so he could get up there as safely as possible.


So, Jack spent an hour up on the roof, in the dark, on a freezing night, shoveling piles of snow and slush so that it would stop leaking into the house.  I stayed down below to spot him, and ducked out of the way as giant glops of heavy slush crashed to the ground around me.  It was a massive workout, enough that Jack needed an appointment with our chiropractor the next day.  Ugh.

Skunk wasn’t much help… all he could do was supervise from the rumpus room.


Now with the temps rising, we’re hoping this will be it for the weather-related issues for a while.  Our nerves and our bank account will be grateful.  All of the rest of our savings went to plumber fees and other fixing costs, so furniture-buying and all the other fun house stuff we had planned will have to wait a bit.  But no worries, the important thing is that we’re doing right by the house and keeping it as happy and healthy as we can.