Chaos in the Name of Progress

Remember way back when in February when I told you we were getting carpet? Well this was the week it finally arrived. But why make it simple with just one event? Let’s add spring break for the girls, shopping trips, denist/doctor visits, dinners out with friends, dinners in with family, game night, trips to the train station, the exterminator visit, sinks in the entry, pumping the septic tank, and moving all of the furniture out of three of the bedrooms.

Now that’s a crazy kind of week.

We were lucky in that the master bedroom has a built-in platform bed, so all we had to move was a chair, the hope chest, and some clothes from the closets. The rest of the rooms were a little more intense. I, fortunately, had a meeting at work, and the MR and the girls took care of all the heavy lifting while I was gone. When I went to start a load of laundry, I was surprised to find an antique ice box blocking the way—oh well. And let’s just say the sewing room is filled to the brim with creative endeavors.

Enough of chaos. Don’t you want to see our beautiful new carpet? The sewing room looks so inviting when it’s empty.

Cocoa, I said the room was empty.

I’ve decided not to bring the broken dresser back in, and the MR talked me out of the bed. Now I have to make some decisions about storage. I spent a few hours yesterday, finishing up some projects. Baby Girl is headed back to school this weekend, so it’s less imperative that the upstairs is all back in order. I’m hoping to show you a new and improved creative space in a few weeks.

Our room is basically back together, and I’m rather in love with this new carpet. It is so soft. Even the little step up to the bed is soft.

The gray of the carpet matches the gray of the flooring wonderfully. We’ve finally irradicated the baby blue and emerald green carpets of the past.

The guest bedroom probably has the biggest transformation going from emerald to beige carpet. It’s amazing how much it’s lightened things up in there. But since the MR had to put the queen-sized bed back together after a long day at work, and I’m off this morning to more shopping, Baby Girl’s hair appointment, and “girl time”, you’re just going to have to wait.

Now for those of you who like details, we had Haight Carpet in Woodinville install Mohawk Natural Splendor II in Stormwatch in the master bedroom. In the guest room and sewing room, it was the same carpet in Morning Mist. Since we have radiant heat on the main floor, they recommended the “Victorious” 10-pound pad. With our oddly-shaped rooms, funky closets, and built-in steps around the bed, the installation took most of a day. They arrived at 8:30 am and were gone by 4 pm. It’s only been a day, but so far so good.

Some of you may be wondering about that big list of things that I glossed over at the beginning. The septic tank was simply maintenance. It’d been three years, so we figured it was time. They did encourage me to switch to a liquid dishwasher soap and spread out the loads of laundry. Old habits are hard to break.

The good news from the exterminator was that it was just mice. The bad news was that it’s mice. We live in the middle of 30 acres; it’s a problem we’ll have to deal with. After some of the horror stories he shared, I’m feeling rather thankful. We had Ben from ProTech Pest Control come out to assess our home and install a trapping system. With a few repairs, the situation should be under control.

On a happy note, the MR reinstalled the powder room sink, while I took Sweet Miss to the train station. I didn’t get any pictures, but I can assure you that the drywall behind the sink surrounds the pipes perfectly. The MR did a great job.

So what’s new at your house? 








How’s That for Color?

Me & the MR went shopping for carpet last weekend.  We went to Haight Carpet in Woodinville where we’ve had good service in the past.

We’re not looking for anything fancy, since it’s just for the master bedroom, the guest room, and the sewing room. We made the big commitment to the faux concrete floors a few years ago, so we really don’t have much in the way of wall-to-wall carpeting.

We’re looking at a medium-gray tone for the master. We’ve chosen the top sample from below—Stormwatch.


And then for the guest room, which is really dark, we’ve chosen a gray-beige (Morning Mist) that matches the floor color well. We’re hoping it will lighten the room up a bit. It’s the sample on the far right.


That’s the same color we’ll use for the sewing room. I’ve been in a bit of a quandary as to whether to go light or dark up there. The room gets plenty of light, so we could choose the darker gray, but darker carpet shows lint. I always have strings and threads, bits of fabric and yarn scattered on the floor. I’m not sure which would hide that the best. We’ll go with the light and pledge to vacuum more often.

Our sweet dog followed the man from the carpet store around as he measured the rooms yesterday. We could have it installed and looking bright and new in just two weeks. I haven’t made the call yet. I was hoping for a sunny day to check the colors one last time.

Cocoa also tried to help me photograph the samples. Sitting on the floor is an open invitation to dogs.


She hates to be left out of anything.

What are your carpet buying tips and tricks? Light or dark?


The History of a Fireplace Big, White House Style

I received a great email this weekend from my mother-in-law. It read:

This is our friend, the cocktail waitress in LV where you both and Baby Girl stayed one time with us, and she LOVES you blog and I thought you better than I could tell her where to best look for info on the fireplace.  I told her, but she wants pictures.  MK


PLEASE tell that WONDERFUL daughter in law there is a story about that fireplace. I bet it was not that nice until they improved it. Worthy of blog info.—-tell her I want to hear about IT    !!!!!!     FFQ

So this one is for MeeMee’s friend Linda. Honey, all you have to do is ask…

I was kind of surprised, because after a few years you get used to things. You forget how they were. They’ve always been this way, right? So for those of you who haven’t been with us from the beginning, we’re going to go back, back to the time when the Big White House on the Hill looked more like something out of Miami Vice, back when everything was white except for the carpet. I still can’t believe the MR talked me into moving here with the bugs, and the mice, in the middle of nowhere.

In those days, it wasn’t just a fireplace. It was a fireplace and conversation pit because everyone has to have one. A friend suggested we should turn it into a ball pit.  Our kids were 17 and 13, otherwise we might have seriously considered it.

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

Conversation pit or ball pit which would you prefer?

It took me months to wrap my head around this space. We’ve had fireplaces in all our homes, and I’d always wanted a mantel, but now I had 10-feet of space to decorate. And with the three-foot drop, I needed a step stool to put anything on it. When you don’t know what to do—do nothing. That’s always been my MO.

A few books, a few flowers, a 2-foot-tall candle can all do wonders.


And while white on white was where we started, me and the MR where intent on adding color. The walls in Sherwin Williams Accessible Beige and Tony Taupe where a fairly simple choice, but what could we do with the fireplace? Would a little paint help hide the speakers and the dumb-waiter for the wood? Could we make this more of a focal point?

I did a little brainstorming in Let’s Talk Color and came up with this color scheme.


Adding some dark gray would help blend in the granite, and painting the stair step walls gray would set them off from the background taupe.

I was surprised to see how closely my color overlays matched the final outcome. The major difference was that we decided to have the mantel and the hearth painted in the darker color as well.

Fireplace plus background

Check out “The Big Reveal” for all the freshly painted pictures. While this picture looks green, it’s actually gray with greenish undertones.

Sadly, we still had the very uncomfortable conversation pit, but look at how beautiful the molding looks set off by the gray paint. It took another year-and-a-half for us to get Out of the Pit or at least to save enough money to fill in the pit, but we did it.

Pit Construction

Once the trusses where in and the subfloor was in, we had the carpet removed, weird orange underlay put down, and the whole thing covered with a faux-concrete flooring.

Orange floor at sunset

Yes, we have lived through a whole lot of crazy putting this house together.


You can see how our fireplace changed from year-to-year.

Over the Years Fall Fireplace Collage

And now we where just waiting for new chairs to cozy up to the fireplace.

Fireplace seating

Sadly, chairs where not enough. It was looking a little sterile. We needed pillows, throws, and a rug. Can we add a little softness and color?

fireplace chairs with new throw 2

We’ve moved around the plants, and the mantel itself is in constant flux with the seasons, but it still looks very similar to Baby Girl’s rendering for one of her first college classes.

BGs Sketch

In the last year, I’ve swapped out the hexagon tables for a footstool. This made for a very cozy place for our feet while the fireplace was in constant use during the recent power outages.

It’s fun to look back and see all that we’ve done over the past five years. I’d forgotten about the old boiler failing to turn on and heat the house that first winter after installing the heat pump. I guess that was the year we were in Mexico and Sweet Miss texted that it was 40-degrees—inside. I did feel a little guilty that she came home to a cold house.

If this doesn’t fulfill your hankering for info on the fireplace, you can always go to the blog and search for fireplace or mantel in the search engine. You’ll get to see all the fun fall and Christmas mantels plus a few spring and Valentine’s ones. Maybe I should get busy with a new one for the coming holiday.

What’s on your mantel? Does it change with the seasons?

P.S. I am not perfect. I have been known to spell “mantel” mantle upon occasion—I know, I know, it’s an article of clothing not an architectural feature. I think I’ve got it down now.

P.P.S. Thanks Linda for subimitting your request. I’d never have found this great picture of the girls if you hadn’t had me looking for fireplace stories. Strangely enough, the post with this picture had nothing about fireplaces or mantels, but I sure do love my sweet girls.

The girls





Windows Upgrade

Two weeks ago, our house was a hive of activity when we had window film installed on all the windows in the great room and eastern wall of the master bedroom. It was an all-day affair complete with scaffolding, ladders, a large team of guys, a photographer, and the original intallation expert who has walked us through this whole process.

Film Install Collage

The team of installers set up large rolls of window film in the portico. Then one fellow would wash the window, and the next would roll out the film. It made me nervous just seeing those guys up on the scaffolding.

In the great room, we went with 3M’s Prestige Series 40 on the top level of windows and 50 on the bottom, but I really can’t see a difference. You will notice when the french doors are open and the glass is doubled that the film is more apparent.

great room

In the master bedroom, the Prestige 50 was as dark as we could go since we have shades hanging up most of the time to help us sleep in a little later and to preserve the UPS guy’s delicate sensibilities.



Some people asked if the film would make the room really dark or make the sky look gray. I think it looks great.

Beautiful Color


At first, our rep explained that the the water used to affix the windows could cause excess moisture making the windows look hazy.

Over the SinkNo worries—this is the perfect time of year to install window film. With the dry weather and heat we’ve been experiencing, all the fogging has cleared up quickly.

Now for the big question: Was it worth it? Well…that’s a hard one. The temperatures have been 10-20 degrees higher than normal for the last few weeks. So it’s hard to gauge the reduction in heat gain. It’s just been really hot.

One huge advantage we noticed immediately was the reduction in glare. Someone wanted to watch TV on a sunny morning, and they could. No one had to grab sunglasses or hats to keep from being blinded by the sun.

We’re expecting milder temperatures over the weekend, and I’m looking forward to seeing if the films help cool our house down a bit.

The people at Brower Tinting and Graphics did a great job and were easy to work with. If they’re good enough to put film on the Space Needle, I figured they could handle our house.

They did invite a photographer out to take some photos to use in their promotions. If I see any, I’ll be sure to pass the word along.

How are you staying cool in the summer heat? Any good or bad experiences with window film to share?


Orange Is the New Green

If last week’s chaos wasn’t enough, we decided to bring it downstairs.

All the furniture has been shoved into random corners, so we can have the sea of green carpet removed.

Carpet East


It’s crazy how even the subflooring looks better than that carpet.

Carpet Gone 2

After removal came the tricky part–the electrical portion. We turned off the heat and opened all the windows overnight to cool off the floors. The next morning, we turned on the heat and a fellow with a very expensive thermal camera came and took pictures mapping out the tubing that runs through our floors and heats our home. He left behind markings to show where we could add some electrical outlets for the computer and possible floor lamps.

Marked Areas

I came home from a walk, to find the MR and our project manager talking about how slick the camera was. They were a little surprised that the tubing was set four inches apart in one area of the room and eight inches in another. It was a little odd, but who knows why people do these things? We do now. Part of our system may be clogged, or that camera wasn’t quite as good as we’d hoped. On the final outlet, after chipping carefully away all day, the electrician spouted off a few choice words. You know it’s gotta be trouble.

The nick 2

He’d nicked the tubing with his screwdriver. A nick is better than a cut. I was certain this was gloom and doom–destruction of floors and heating. I can get a little fatalistic.

Apparently, it’s a simple fix.They talked about using plumbers tape to fix it, but since soon it will be covered by an under-layer and flooring material, that didn’t seem prudent. The project manager went on to explain about shark teeth clamps. Let’s just say we called in a professional and have documentation to explain the repair.

The Fix 2

And now a few rainy days later, we even have heat again. You may be wondering what’s with the orange. Don’t worry; I’m getting to that.

So are our floors in? Not even close. We had the concrete flooring installed over our tile floors. Now that we’ve removed the carpet and pad, they weren’t even. So we couldn’t simply have the Semco flooring put in over the that; we needed to add half an inch. Hardyboard needs to be nailed down. With the tubing in the floors, that’s not going to happen.

The next idea was a half inch layer of gypcrete. Of course, that needs to cure for 30 days. Sorry, I’m not living like this for a month.

How we're living

So Schluter-Ditra to the rescue. I know. Who makes up these names? You can find out all about it here, or just picture the great room floor covered in bright orange honeycomb. I do believe the ceilings glowed at one point last night; it was like living in an orange.

Orange floor at sunset

It will keep our floor from cracking, raises it to the proper level (cross you fingers), and will work with the Semco coating.

It doesn’t look quite as bad by the light of morning.

Orange floor at sunrise

Who am I kidding? It’s awful. In another week or so, life will get back to normal. I can deal with anything for a week.

Until then, we’ve traded faded green in for bright orange–awesome!

Ever been in the midst of a project and think wow this was a bad idea? Any remodeling at your house? Share your fiascoes please. It’s been one of those weeks, and this is only the half of it.


Finishing Touches

After 10 months of tearing things apart and putting them back together, the upstairs bathroom is almost finished.

The MR and his Mom spent an afternoon painting the walls a cool, spa-like gray-green.


I did a little shopping and picked up a black-and-white botanical print.


With a bath mat and some fluffy new towels, we are almost finished.


We have a local construction company scheduled to do some work downstairs and to replace all the missing baseboards upstairs next month.

So if we manage to install a couple of towel racks, we’ll have the whole bathroom remodel completed in less than a year. Good things take time.

What are you putting the finishing touches on?

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Check out Coming Together for the lady bathroom update.

Down the Rabbit Hole

Why can’t life be simple? A seemingly straight-forward tasks can take all sorts of twists and turns leaving you all in dither.

That’s where we found ourselves recently. After living with crazy emerald carpet faded to teal (read all about it here), me and the MR decided it was time for something new. With a trip to the carpet store, that sea of green would be gone–if only it were that easy.

We wound up at the carpet store we used ages ago and had a lovely, illuminating chat with the owner.

We have really ugly mauve tile bordering the carpet that we’d like to get rid of.
Tile work is really messy, so you’ll want to do that ahead of time.

We have radiant heat floors.
Demolition will take longer, so contractors don’t damage your pipes and heating system.

Do you know what’s under the carpet? Are the pipes in thin set? How deep?
Uh…Errr…We have no idea.

Here’s another curve ball, we have a sunken area around the fireplace that we’d like to fill in. Is that something you would do or have contractors that you work with complete?
Well, I do have people I recommend, but all of the remodeling needs to be done before we can begin work.

What about adding electrical outlets in the middle of the carpet?
Again, that’s something you need to have done by an electrician of your choosing.

We left the carpet store with way more questions than we started with. The owner did have a tile guy that she recommended, so I took a picture of our situation. Walked through the house counting the tiles and emailed it off. Crossing our fingers, we were hoping her guy could take care of all 104-feet of ugly tile.

Mauve tile

Of course, we had to replace the tile with something else, something new and beautiful without even a hint of purple. The MR picked up a few tiles for the bathroom remodel and checked out some samples. They were gorgeous, wood-grain tiles in dark brown and gray tones, and I told him they were all wrong. I thought we were going for subtle after all that mauve.

So I dropped off one set of samples for another. I decided creamy, beige-y tones would do the trick. I brought them home and was ecstatic–they blended in perfectly.

Beige tile up close

I thought the tile on the far right was too yellow, and the tile on the far left was too gray, but the two in the middle were both quite lovely. And just imagine what it would look like if the carpet were a neutral beige instead of crazy green.

Tile and carpet

I know the samples are woefully small–they’re just a few I picked up at Home Depot, but I know you’re getting the gist. I was aiming for a soothing neutral palette. It was all well and good until the MR came home and tripped on the tiles. Now, that’s not the reason he hated them. We don’t want people to think we couldn’t find a matching tile, or that the tiles along the edges are smudged or dirty, he told me. He was right, but I didn’t want it to look like the great room was outlined with a giant marker in some hideous color that we’d hate just as much in a few years.

We were at a bit of standstill. And then the owner of the carpet store emailed to say her tile guy wanted nothing to do with our job and the radiant floors. She said it nicely, but it was still a blow. So I went to the internet. Maybe I could get a few ideas on borders and tile removal. I’m sure they have wonderful ideas on Pinterest or Houzz.

Sunday afternoon, I spent an hour or so going through tiles, looking for subtle border tile, something that would look intentional without being too in your face. And that’s when I stumbled upon something wonderful in a totally different direction. A professional or DIY tile coating that turns gaggy into gorgeous. Just take a look at some of their photos.

Photo by Semicore Remodeling

While I’m not into the yellow fireplace, I like the industrial vibe of that floor. Just take a look at what they can do outside.

Photo by Semicore Remodeling

What I found most intriguing was that the tiles don’t have to be removed, my house doesn’t have to be covered in dust, and it appears to be quick and easy. The representative from the company assured me this is a green process with very little in the way of off gassing. We can even stay at home during the work. Maybe this is the answer to our tile problem.

Kenji from the Seattle office is headed out later today to check the lay of the land and put together a quote. Me and the MR are hoping to make the trek into Seattle later this week to visit their showroom and see some samples. Just from the the website, I’m leaning toward the Polished Bond in Sandstone or maybe Modern Gray.

In as little as two weeks, those old tile floors could look totally new.

So what do you think? Are we totally crazy to go from a 104-square-foot job to a 2,000-square-foot job in the blink of an eye? Anyone tried tile coating before? Ever remove tile from floors containing pipes that heat your whole silly house?

If you’d like to check out Semcore Remodeling click here and imagine all the floors they can redesign for you.