Saturday, May 22, 2010


Just for fun...

Friday, May 21, 2010

Disinfecting without nasty chemicals

Yesterday I worked for a while disinfecting and sanitizing the kitchen cabinets. We do plan to pretty much gut this kitchen and start from scratch (anyone know of any 'green' cabinetry options?), but that's not going to happen for about a year, so for the short-term future, I'll be operating out of this fairly dated, but reasonably functional, older kitchen.

Before we begin moving any of our things into the kitchen or bathroom, I wanted to get them as clean and de-germed as possible, but I didn't want to use harsh chemicals or waste-generating disposable wipes. Luckily, it's possible to disinfect kitchen and bathroom surfaces extremely effectively using two common, non-harmul household items - vinegar and hydrogen peroxide!

I started the process by using the shop vac to suck any loose debris out of all the cabinets, then followed up with a good heavy spraying of vinegar, then hydrogen peroxide. Learn more about disinfecting with vinegar and hydrogen peroxide here.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Address Numbers

I'm not sure how much of a 'green' issue this is, but I do prefer whenever possible to buy from an independent artisan rather than a nameless big-box retailer, so I'm going to go ahead and blog about it here. :-)

Our new place doesn't have an address marker, so I've been on a quest to find the perfect numbers. I would have really liked to find a DIY project to make something myself (and I still might do that; we'll see), but I couldn't find any decent DIY inspiration online on the subject, so I've turned to Etsy. I thought it would be fun to share some of my favorites. (All of the photos are the artists' own, not mine.)

Oval Birds on a Branch by AtlasSigns, $143.00
(We would just get our address numbers below the birds.)

Here are a few more by AtlasSigns - I especially like the leaf and the pear.

Custom Hand Painted House Number Tile by carmenstiles, $90.00
(I think I'd like this one better if each number was an individual tile; I'd really love to find some hand painted Guatemalan tiles to incorporate somehow - it would tie in nicely with some of the Guatemalan decor that we're going to use inside the house...)

Custom Mosaic House Numbers by jenniestephensart, $75.00
(She has lots more examples of her work on her website - beautiful!)

And if you're looking for a budget option, this cute little House Number Sign by HandCarvedSigns is just $25.00.

So what do you think? Which is your favorite and why? I'm leaning towards the first one (of course the most expensive...) Also, definitely let me know if you know of any fun (but still attractive!) DIY projects for address numbers.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Goodbye, Stinky, Disgusting, Moldy, No-Good Carpet!!!

From the first day I set foot in this house, I have been dying to do this. You have no idea how satisfying it was.

This stuff was making the house stink SO BAD. When we pulled up the carpet, the pad was definitely... moist. No moisture barrier of any kind. NASTY!!!

Bye bye to my nemesis! (the carpet, not Matt)

Okay, so it's ugly but trust me, it's much less stinky now! And someday we will have beautiful hardwood or bamboo here. Now to deal with all that nasty tack strip and ugly baseboard...

In the garage, there is a flimsy little wall that runs the full length (24') of the room. It needed to come out, and Carlos needed something to occupy his time and energy - a perfect fit!

Things started out calmly enough, but soon his little buddy arrived -

And they worked for at least an hour - maybe longer - and totally demolished that lower half of the wall (they couldn't reach the top).

Carlos took this picture himself of the aftermath. He was pretty proud.

Also, I thought I'd document some of the tackier aspects of the house...

...ugly light fixture number one...

...and number two...

...and wasn't it sweet of the previous owners to leave us this lovely piece of artwork?

I really should have photographed the fuzzy owl decoration they left for us in the bathroom (not to mention used plungers and a used toilet brush - ewwww!), but I couldn't get them in the trash can fast enough!

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Here's a look at the current floor plan. The bedrooms are so tiny! Yikes.
And here's our work-in-progress remodel plan -

(click on the image for a slightly larger view)

As you can probably tell, we're planning to re-work the entryway to make it more obvious and appealing from the front of the house (plus the entry/sunroom will make traveling back and forth between house and garage much more pleasant). The kitchen will gain a bit of space and a raised bar, and the hallway (which is quite wide) will have some built-in cabinetry that matches the kitchen cabinets. Windows will be added in several places. One bedroom will get a cozy window seat and the other will have a wall bumped out, and we'll add a large master bed and bathroom. Everything will be tied together and more closely linked to the huge backyard by more windows, sliding doors, and patios (both covered and not).

Besides the work on the house itself, there's much to be done around the yard - fencing upgrades, landscaping in the front (which is currently very lacking in curb appeal), a vegetable garden in the back, and a barn for the chickens, not to mention an addition to the garage to serve as a studio for me and a separate shop for Matt.

Much work ahead! Can't wait to get started...

Friday, May 7, 2010

Here Goes Nothing...

Well, we signed papers on our new house today, so I thought I'd go through with my idea of documenting this process via blog. In case you don't know me already in real life, my name is Tamara, and my husband Matt and I are buying a small, nondescript house on a gorgeous, flat piece of land (just under an acre) in Bayside, CA. The next couple of years of our life are going to be largely dominated by our attempts to makeover this diamond-in-the-rough, ideally in ways that are stylish, unique, and earth-friendly, but without breaking the bank. I'll post more soon, but in the meantime, here are a few 'before' pics. :-)

Front of house (living room windows on the left, dining room window on the right)

The yard - well, part of it at least.

The living room (not our furniture by the way!!!) :-)

The dining room and 'front door', which is actually on the side of the house, in a corridor between the house and garage - not ideal.

The kitchen - decently functional in the short-term at least, but seriously lacking in pizazz!