It was another busy weekend at Biohazard Manor.

We’re down to the wire to get all of our major repairs and cleaning finished, so Jack and I put in some long, hard hours over the past couple of days.  On Saturday we started our day by fueling up with a big breakfast at our favorite local place, The Jem.  If you live in the Philly ‘burbs and haven’t been there yet, you need to check them out for breakfast!  It’s fantastic — packed with 50s memorabilia, owned by a local man named Tony for the past 40 years, and full of regulars who have been coming here since it opened.  Tony is an incredibly nice guy, and he makes the rounds greeting customers at their tables whenever he can.  And the food is classic diner fare, and lots of it for super cheap.

Jack power-drinking his coffee to get ready for the day


And preparing to house down his massive breakfast scrambler


But the best part of the Jem is their scrapple sticks!  I know scrapple is one of those things you either really love or really hate…  but the Jem does it right.  They cut the scrapple into skinny sticks and deep-fry them like french fries, so you get more crispiness in every bite.  OM NOM NOM.


Anyway.  Jack spent the weekend fixing yet another rotting wall that he discovered (if anyone knows a good real estate attorney, we’d love their contact info so we can get some advice on how to handle all of these undisclosed “treasures”).  I can’t even post about that because I’m so frustrated, so I’ll post about a couple of our accomplishments.  Accomplishment #1 was in the kitchen…  now that we have everything scrubbed, we’re ready to start unpacking our dishes and cooking stuff.  But we really wanted to line the shelves and drawers, because despite the cleaning we just didn’t want our eating and cooking stuff on those surfaces for now.  The problem: I just couldn’t find shelf paper that I liked.  It seems like the shelf paper you get in stores falls into one of two camps: non-stick (which we’ve used before, and it moves around too much), or adhesive but boring (solid white or wood grain).  I was really dying for a fun cheery pattern.  After searching a bunch of stores and coming up empty, I thought I was going to have to do an online search and wait a week or two for everything to arrive.  But THEN — I had a discovery in Target, and created a shelf paper hack!

While I was in the home decor section, I came across this: rolls of removable wallpaper!


I figured I’d give it a try; the patterns were fun and colorful, and they were adhesive but not permanent.  The biggest issue was cutting it all down to size, because the rolls are sized for walls instead of drawers.  It took me 6 hours to do the entire kitchen, around 40 drawers and shelves.


But I think it was worth it!  Much cheerier (and cleaner) than the original surfaces!

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Accomplishment #2 – more cleaning.  This weekend we tackled the window screens, as well as the waffle-pattern covers on the ceiling light fixtures in the bathrooms.  If you’ve read our other cleaning posts, you totally know where this is heading.  I’ll just post 2 things here for you to enjoy:

First, let’s play “guess which screen hasn’t been cleaned yet”.


Next, here’s where we discover that the bathroom light fixture covers aren’t actually yellowed with age, just with nicotine.  This is another one of those “we have to take video for proof” moments.  😛

We used up 8 bottles of full-strength LA’s Totally Awesome cleaner this weekend.  (There were a lot of screens and light covers.)  And yes, Jack is using a power-spray bottle in that video…  our hands started cramping from squeezing the trigger on the cleaner bottles, so we had to get a little help.

So much to post in the coming week!  Lots of decorative stuff is going to start happening — carpet, wallpaper, etc.  It’s all starting to come together!

Color, texture, pattern and shine – Vol. 1

Any fellow “What Not to Wear” geeks will immediately understand the title of this post.  Stacey and Clinton have a mantra that they incorporate into every episode: in order for an outfit to be successful, you need to incorporate each of those elements.  They don’t all have to play a major role — a hot pink quilted plaid suit with piles of gold jewelry would have all 4 elements, but be overkill.  But having at least a hint of each adds visual interest to what you put together.  As the design half of this operation, I’ve been keeping those same principles in mind as I plan out how our home will look when it’s finished.  It’s a daunting task, especially considering that more than half of the square footage of the house is all open space, but with separate living areas incorporated throughout the flow of that space.  The living room, dining room, hallway, and den are all fully visible when you walk in the front door…  so everything has to coordinate and flow, without being one-note.

Which brings me to my new obsession, and I can’t believe I’m about to type this…  I have fallen madly in love with wallpaper.  Oh my god, do I love it.  I have always hated wallpaper, for my entire life — it just always screamed “old fashioned, and not in a good way” to me.  And when we bought this house, the wallpaper in it confirmed my disgust.

Here’s an example — nasty, ugly patterns in the kitchen.


I couldn’t wait to peel this stuff off the walls and cover everything with clean, simple, colorful paint.  (Except for the bathrooms — we’re totally not changing the wallpaper in those!)  Our painter friend balked and said we should be replacing the wallpaper with more wallpaper, and I was horrified.  But to humor him, I agreed to check out the selection at a foofy-foo design place where he could get us a discount.  I figured maybe we’d find one or two designs that would work in a couple of the rooms, and we’d still paint the rest like I wanted.  So a few weekends ago, we went to the foofy-foo place and spent about 2 hours studying their selection, and it confirmed exactly what I’d feared — everything in their books was exactly what I didn’t want our home to look like.  Page after page of paisleys, florals, and plaids.  The designs were fine for someone with more classic/colonial taste, but for a modern home they just wouldn’t work.  We drove home, accepting that wallpaper just wasn’t going to work because there was nothing we really liked.  On the way home, we passed our local Sherwin-Williams and Jack was like, “shall we go in and at least look at their wallpapers?”  We had some time, and it couldn’t hurt, so I said why not.

You guys, Sherwin-Williams is a freaking WONDERLAND for wallpaper!  We ended up spending the entire afternoon there, giddily camped out with piles and piles of sample books.  It completely turned my perception of wallpaper on its ear.  Yes, there were plenty of classic designs that we bypassed…  but oh my goodness, the modern choices were INSANE.  It made me want to buy 10 more houses, because I was so sad I couldn’t buy everything I saw!

Jack says no to the black-on-black zebra print.  😛


Here’s one example of what we were drooling over: a line called “Layers” by a designer named Edward Van Vliet.  All of the designs are super modern and graphic, and developed in such a way that you can mix and match everything so it all coordinates as you transition between the various spaces in your home.  I mean, look at these amazing combinations together!:

Here’s one color family — gorgeous neutrals, with cream, gray and even an amazing charcoal-on-charcoal gray pattern.


Here’s a closeup of that gorgeous charcoal one.  Hard to tell, but the negative space in the pattern is actually slightly raised and textured.  Pattern, texture, and shine all in one!


Here’s another series, in more of a natural wood-tone family.


And my favorite color combination: orange and aqua!


Sadly, these papers were just too modern for our house.  We were able to select one from this line for our guest bedroom, a lovely simple grayish-cream that looks like linen.  But after about 4 hours there, we left having ordered an entire house’s worth of wallpaper!

I’m a total wallpaper convert now.  They add another layer of color, pattern, texture and shine to a room that you just can’t get with paint.  Thinking about what we’ve picked out for each room, I’m beyond excited because it’s going to add a whole new dimension to each space.  We’re not going to share what we’ve chosen yet, because we want to wait until it’s all up on the walls.  But in the meantime, the shipments have started to arrive and we’re SO EXCITED!!!!

Hello, my babies!  eeeeeeEEEEEeeeeeee!!!!


No lie, when I saw the wallpaper that’s going in my home office, I got so excited I licked one of the rolls.  SO EXCITED.

So, yeah!  Wallpaper!  If you’re redecorating a room, we highly recommend considering it.  Or just go to your local Sherwin-Williams to geek out over their selection, it’s so much fun!