Thursday, September 20, 2018

Breakfast, Dining, and Living Room Remodel

I can't believe it's taken me this long to write this post, but that's what always happens when life gets busy. As a refresher, here's the first part of our big remodeling project. Our overall goal was to get wood flooring in the kitchen, breakfast nook, dining room, living room, master bedroom and hallways. We also needed new tile in the laundry and sun room. But, what we realized along the way, is that it made sense to take care of some other issues in conjunction with that, like getting a new fireplace surround and opening up the floor plan.

When doing a remodeling project this large, it's not uncommon to move out of your home for a while. But, with 2 small boys and 2 dogs, it felt like it would be more trouble than it was worth to relocate. So, we packed all the big furniture into a mobile storage unit and crammed ourselves into one of the rooms of the house that wasn't being touched. It was an adventure, I'll tell you that! (For the last week of the project, we did have to stay in an extended stay hotel because we couldn't be in the house while the floors were being stained).

First up, let's talk about the dining room. It used to have carpet in it, but after a couple years of our aging dog mistaking that room for her bathroom, we had to rip it out. We lived with a painted concrete floor for quite a while, as we knew this project was in our future.

The hardwood was installed and then we got to thinking. Wouldn't it be great if the dining room was open to the breakfast nook? There was currently a wall between the two, with just a small doorway opening. On the breakfast nook side there was a built-in china hutch, but it wasn't really necessary.

Wood was laid, but since the scraping and staining hadn't started, we still had time to make some alterations.
This was looking pretty dated. Did I really need it anymore?

Didn't love how this was closed in. Also, cameo from my sweet Casey girl. Miss her.

After we made the decision to take out the wall, things really started getting fun!

Look how much better the view is now!

After the wall was fully removed and the opening was finished up, progress could be made on the hardwoods. We decided to go with nail-down hand-scraped hardwood with a medium/dark stain. Here's the finished product in the dining room:

I already had all the furnishings in this room, so nothing else was needed. I am very pleased with the result! It's crazy to think this view wasn't possible before. Taking out the wall was the best decision we could've made in this area of the house. 

In the breakfast nook and kitchen, there was ugly, old parquet flooring. There was also a half wall between that and the living room. Not really sure what its purpose was, so we opted to take it out.

Half wall from breakfast nook side

Half wall from living room side

Demo on the half wall was pretty exciting, just like the dining room wall was. It's an amazing difference when you can freely walk between rooms! We also got the contractors to remove the door frame that used to be in the hallway to the living room. It was for two small double doors, but they really served no purpose as you would never close them and it made the hallway feel narrow. 

The floors are gorgeous! Once we realized we were moving the kitchen fridge to the laundry room, we needed a new main fridge. I found out there was a model that lets you use Keurig k-cups to brew coffee and can do hot water on demand for hot chocolate and tea, so you know that's the one we went with.

We didn't have the budget right now to fully attack the kitchen (cabinets, counters, backsplash, etc), but I did want to make some subtle improvements. Around the stove was a brick surround and awful, dated backsplash. That really made it hard for the kitchen to look modern. Since I couldn't go all-in on reconfiguring this area or installing new backsplash, I opted for just a new paint job. I went with gray for the brick and painted over the backsplash with a crisp white. It's plain and simple, but certainly looks better than what was there before.

Now to the living room! This room had thick slate flooring and a beast of a fireplace hearth.

The demo got pretty, pretty dusty. The hearth was just concrete underneath one layer of tile, so getting it all out took multiple attempts.

For the new fireplace, we wanted a modern mosaic tile surround, without a hearth, for a sleeker look. Now it doesn't protrude out into the room and create a hazard for small children! We went with the hardwoods in this room too, so now there is awesome continuity throughout the main living and dining spaces.

I bought all new furniture for the living room because it was time for a change. The sofas are from Nebraska Furniture Mart, the end tables are from Wayfair, the swivel arm chairs are from Joss & Main, and the ottoman table and storage trunk (not pictured) are from 

I couldn't be happier with the way everything turned out. I think we added a ton of value to our house, not to mention utility. We love to entertain, and the new setup makes that even easier. I'm so glad we took the plunge!

Project Costs:
Hotel & dog boarding for 4 days: $600
Furniture: $2,578

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Garage Remodel

We have an oversized 2-car garage with multiple closets, and yet it still felt like we couldn't fit all our stuff in there. The previous owners had put down some green turf-like material in the hallway from the garage to the house and in the area where you walk in front of the cars. They had also put down a coating or painted the garage floor at some point, but its useful life was over a long, long time ago. For these reasons, Meezy and I decided it was time to give the garage a complete overhaul.

There was a work area in the garage that had a built-in table in it, but it didn't provide any good storage and it wasn't the best use of the space. Meezy tore that out and we found a rolling workbench at Home Depot that fit the space perfectly.

In the staging area from the garage to the house, there used to be some more built-ins, but they were oddly sized and again weren't the best use of the space. We had previously ripped those out and bought a metal shelving unit instead and also kept our second fridge there. When we remodeled the interior of our house, we were able to relocate the fridge to our laundry room, so there was an opportunity to re-purpose the space in the garage. I decided I would rather have a mudroom storage unit there, so I went on the hunt and finally found one I liked at Home Depot online. It is a beautiful piece and it fits the space very nicely.

The biggest change we wanted to make concerned the floors. Once we ripped out the green turf, the floor looked even worse underneath. It had remnants of glue and was dirty and discolored. There were low spots throughout the rest of the garage and it just looked awful overall. We found a company that would clear out all the old glue and paint/coating, and then start fresh with an epoxy coating. In order to accomplish that, we had to remove every last thing from the garage that came in contact with the floor. It felt overwhelming at first, but it was really nice to force ourselves to evaluate all the junk in there. We ended up getting rid of a lot of stuff, organizing the closets better so we could put more in them, and installing an overhead storage rack. Here are pics showing what the floor looked like before:

The darker portion is where the turf used to be

There used to be built-ins in the corner

And here is the finished product:

Man, what a difference! I love that replacing the flooring forced us to make other improvements. We now have most of the items in our garage inside closets, inside drawers, or hanging from the wall or ceiling. It doesn't feel cramped and it is actually pleasant to be in!

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Goodbye, My Sweet Casey Girl

In June of 2005, Meezy invited me to a park to watch him play frisbee football, or so I thought. When I showed up, the park was empty except for Meezy, an adorable Keeshond puppy, and an engagement ring. I had always wanted a Keeshond, so Jer drove hundreds of miles to find one for me, as a gesture of love while asking for my hand in marriage. It was a wonderful day in my life and Casey has always reminded me of Jer's love for me. 

We have been fortunate enough to have her alongside us for the past 13 years. I have so many happy and funny memories of her, like the time I brought her into the pool and even though I was holding her top half out of the water, she instinctively doggy paddled in the air. Or, how our other dog Riley was relentless in stealing her food, so he would go into another room and start barking, just to lure her in there, and then run back and eat out of her bowl while she was distracted. She fell for it every.single.time. 

Months ago, Casey started losing her hair and drinking water incessantly. We brought her in for an exam and had her blood tested, and the vet told us she probably had Cushing's Disease, along with a tumor growing on her backside. We tried a round of antibiotics to see if the tumor would shrink, but it didn't respond. Because of her advanced age and the size and location of the tumor, the vet didn't recommend further treatment like chemotherapy or surgery. Casey seemed to be getting by day to day and we didn't feel it was appropriate to talk about end of life measures yet. She had become more reclusive, often spending 80-90% of her day under our bed, but she didn't seem to be in pain, still liked to prance happily into the kitchen morning and afternoon for food, and would occasionally join us in the living room or kitchen when we were together as a family. 

As the weeks went on, her tumor grew, her activity level decreased, and it became evident that using the bathroom was more difficult for her. We had her boarded for a couple days while we went out of town, and when we picked her up, the vet said, "She didn't do well this weekend." The staff said she barely moved in her dog run, didn't eat, couldn't hold it until the regular bathroom breaks, and often laid in her urine/feces after going. It broke my heart to hear that and made me realize we were getting closer to the end. Over the past couple of weeks, Casey lost all motivation. She would come out from under our bed and just use the bathroom in whatever part of the house she could muster the energy to walk to.  When we'd try to force her to go outside, she would lay there like dead weight, and I'd have to spend a few minutes crawling behind the bed to pick her up and get her upright. Occasionally, her back legs would give out and she'd collapse on the floor. She had a wound caused by her tumor breaking through the skin, and it couldn't ever completely heal. This was it. As much as I hated to say it, it was time.

Casey had no quality of life left and the only thing I felt like I could give her at this point was a dignified death surrounded by people who loved her. Now, knowing it's time is one thing, but calling the vet to say you want to euthanize your dog is another. I choked back tears and set the appointment. Two days. We had two days left with her. What do you do when you know your friend of 13 years is going to die in two days? I tried to get as many pics as I could of her, especially with the boys. I fed her her favorite people food. I laid next to her on the ground and pet her face. 


On July 19th, at just after 11am, Casey took her last breath. Meezy and I were in the room with her when she died. It was quick. After the vet left the room to give us a few more minutes with her, I sobbed and pet her soft fur and told her I was so sorry. I immediately doubted myself and felt incredibly guilty. Did she really need to die today? Did we make a mistake? It doesn't matter that I could see her condition, or that the vet and other people told me it was her time, I couldn't stop thinking about how I made the conscious decision to end her life and I felt like a horrible person. The hardest part of this whole ordeal was the moment we walked out of the room, knowing we would never see her again. Knowing we would never feel the soft touch of her fur again. I get sick to my stomach just writing about it.

It's been a few days now, and I have had breakdowns. It's hard to talk about her and it's hard to see other people with their dogs. Casey lived with me for 13 years. She was a part of my daily routine, a part of my household, a constant in my life. It's going to be weird not having her in the house anymore. 

I miss her and I love her and I'm so grateful she was in my life for as long as she was. She was Casey, Pretty Case, Pretties, Pitties, Pitty Case to us. She was the fluffy black dog who people asked about, because they didn't recognize her breed. She was the dog I always wanted. 

Thank you, Pitties, for what you meant to me for the past 13 years and what you'll still mean to me for many more. Rest in peace. 5/3/05 - 7/19/18