Saturday, April 19, 2014

We should let the agents come to us, right?

Elsa is a professional model!! She just did her first (and probably last, I was kidding about wanting her to be a model. SCIENTIST!) photo shoot for Bell Helmets. Our friend Niki works for them and she so kindly gifted Elsa a sassy Paul Frank helmet a few months back, which Elsa happily wore, we took a picture, sent it to Niki, who then gave it to the Bell executives (this is conjecture at this point by the way), who then freaked out because they found the PERFECT toddler model for their new catalog!

Fast forward to last Wednesday, they were doing the photo shoot in Huntington Beach and we were all supposed to come so they could photograph us as a family. I WAS SUPPOSED TO BE A MODEL TOO!! But then stupid science got in the way, and instead of becoming famous and frolicking in front of a camera while wearing a helmet, I had to deal with a clinical trial audit instead. Awesommmmmme.

So the two Karens stepped in and brought Jude and Henry to model along with Elsa instead. Which I guess was cool. I still get a free helmet out of it though so that's my consolation prize.

They surprisingly had a helmet in Jeff's size so he got to model too.

 Modeling is hard work! Poor tired famous baby...

Friday, April 18, 2014

All packed up and just about ready to start this thing.

We are SOOOO close to getting our remodel started!! The house is feeling like we're about to move out of it, which is a little horrifying to think of, but then exciting again when I remember we're not moving but rather drastically improving our current living conditions and property value. Demo is *supposed* to start next Monday but may get pushed to Tuesday, thanks to the contractor's other project running a tad long. Cue annoyed-Liv-face. 

This weekend is all about kitchen cabinet box building though and final clear out of the two+ rooms so the guys can come in and tear it all up. Jeff did the lion's share of the packing and hauling these past two weeks while I was at work, it was so nice coming home every day to progress that I didn't have to do! We'll be even though after this week. Actually, we're already even. I've done a ton of work on this whole thing already. Hmph!

It makes me a little sad to think about not seeing our vintage tile and scallop trim on the cabinets anymore, but at least we get to keep our original milk delivery door!

It was a totally cute vintage kitchen and I loved it from the very beginning, but it's time for an update, and a more useable kitchen with WAY better flooring. 

I just noticed in this picture that I need to take down Jeff's pull-up bar. I really don't want that thing back in my new kitchen so maybe I'll hide it. Then again, strong man arms have proven to be quite useful lately, so maybe it can stay. I'll just spray paint it gold to match.

We used Rent-A-Green-Box again to help box everything up (we used them when we moved into this house- they are awesome and it is SUCH a great idea. I will never move crap ever again in cardboard boxes. These rule.) and they called us up a week early and asked if we would mind getting the boxes that day, for an extra week at no charge. Uh, YEAH! They also gave us a dolly to use and free labels that you can peel off and plant when you're done with them because they have snapdragon seeds in them. WHAT!? Amazing. I love them. That extra free week though was really great so we could do a little at a time. Elsa helped:

Just kidding. No she did not. She would take stuff out as I put stuff in. Baby doesn't understand rules of packing. At least she looked cool in her Robin Thicke pants and galoshes.

Oh beautiful dining room! How we have abused you. The table got pushed to the window wall and is covered in our glasses and dishes (easier than wrapping and boxing them, but fingers crossed for no earthquake or exploring Siamese!) and the boxes of flooring and other new items for the spaces are stacked in here.

I'm working at the kitchen island for now, but Mandy and Seth will be picking that sucker up tomorrow for their kitchen so I'll bring my circle table in here to work from next week. Not at all a distracting office. Sigh.

The back room is all prepped for tomorrow's cabinet building sleepover party that I tricked Jodi and Lynne into coming to. This is where you see my true Senior Coordinator qualities coming out. Taped on the wall is the cabinet overview detailing the pieces involved with each of the 12 cabinets. I went through the overview matching the Ikea product numbers from the sheet to the giant stack of boxes they delivered and labeled each box with the cabinet number it belongs to. Doors and cabinet fittings come after the cabinet boxes are installed so those are labeled and stacked in their respective piles out in Jeff's studio. I'll be assembling those next week as the construction progresses. Tomorrow we'll just be doing the cabinet boxes so hopefully it will be a snap. We have three sets of two matching cabinets, so I stacked those together so we can assemble them at the same time. Boom Boom!

Aaaaaaaaaanal! I know. But work like this is SO much more pleasant to do when you have all the proper tools you may need within reach. While being organized on a grid mat. I just got that handy cordless Black&Decker drill and love it. I also got a bunch of attachments for it that will replace the stupid little Ikea hex tools that give you massive hand cramps after like 3 screws. POWER! *grunt grunt*

You can see I already got one cabinet started. It's the bathroom sink cabinet! It's the Lillangen sink and cabinet combo from Ikea and the scale was just right for our mini half-bath that we're adding. It looks like this finished:

If Plan A works out, the leftover toe kick from the kitchen will be used to wrap these legs on this cabinet to make it look more built in. Plan A will not work though if the black/brown from the Ramsjo cabinets do not match the black/brown from the Lillangen cabinet. I have a feeling they won't, because the Ramsjo cabinets are really black, and this one is looking warmer. We'll see how funny it looks, and if the idea gets scrapped, Plan B comes into effect. Gold legs! So sexy.

I also sprayed the cabinet door pull gold to match, naturally. I love how they look so I won't be upset with Plan B at all, but Plan A would make cleaning the bathroom floor easier for Jeff.

More pics later of our cabinet building shenanigans! Unless Jodi was serious about bringing over wine, in which case we may just build one cabinet and I'll make Jan do the rest when he comes over on Sunday.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lighting redux

Someone needs to take the spray paint away from me before I lose ALL my brain cells. I went a little nuts on the gold spray paint recently, gilding my chippy old floral frogs into pretty new pencil holders, spray painting the sides of the granada cement tile samples and gluing felt to the bottom to make them into coasters and a trivet, and fancifying our Ikea lighting! 

We got both sizes of the white powder coated metal Ranarp pendant lamps for the kitchen and to customize them a bit, I sprayed the insides of them gold. The rolled lip of the shade also got attacked with the gold paint, giving it a nice little border I think. 

I love the brass bracket clamp thingy on top of the shade and the black and white cloth cord, exactly the look we're going for in the new kitchen. Clean lines and modern, but with a nod to the vintage.

Here's the big boy mid-paint treatment:

And my sconces!! The gold capped light bulbs came in the mail this week and they are so awesome. I sprayed the white porcelain sockets black as I talked about doing here, and they came out matte black and to my liking. I love the little gold pull chains on them too, super happy with these, especially considering they were only $12.50 each!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Want want want, gimme gimme gimme- Kitchen Edition

It doesn't really feel right to bring in stained and frayed tea towels and pot holders into my future beautiful new kitchen, so I think we may part ways and welcome in a load of shiny new kitchen goodies. Plus I've kind of already picked out everything else going into this remodel and need something new to shop for. STUFF! Just kidding, I'm probably going to make most of this stuff.

These tea towels from Gingiber are so my style. Animals, graphic but cute, black and white. Love 'em. Tea towels are easy to sew up though and might be a good opportunity for some design craftiness. A meeting of the Craft Club is in order.

Everything that Sarah Sherman Samuel does/is/wears is amazing. All of the products from her shop A Sunny Afternoon are so good. I want that spotted peach tea towel, and the hex cutting boards are rad. We're going to have a chunk of 1'x 6' butcher block left over from the kitchen, maybe I can ask our carpenters to chop it up into a bunch of hex cutting boards. I'll bribe them with treats.

I learned my lesson with my last potholders- you want to go black with these. Our old ones are looking pretty rough, and certainly not worthy of being displayed off a hook like these awesome storm clouds. I feel guilty ripping off someone's idea, but these would be super easy for me to make, and $55 on two pot holders is a little insane.

We're keeping one of the window ledges in the kitchen (above the sink) and will have some cleared off countertops for a little happy decoration, and these Hex Spora planters are my idea of perfection. The wood hexagon plates with a matte white ceramic pot holding a tiny cactus would make me grin like Elsa with a churro.

 Sigh. Speaking of perfection... these vases. GAH! I love the colors, love that there are three.

Leif Shop is my favorite. Lots of pretty things, like this gold hexagon planter

Our massive collection of bamboo kitchen utensils are going to get the dip treatment for sure. It's coming. Picture via Poppytalk. That peachy pink is going to be my kitchen's accent color.

Our new washing machine is going to make me want to laundry constantly (I actually already really enjoy doing it) so these eco-towels to replace paper towels will help keep that washer running. Elsa is crazy messy and I feel guilty going through so many paper towels, so if we can at least reduce our usage by swapping in these, I'm for it.

And duh, we need a few awesome copper baskets to put these eco-towels in for easy access around the kitchen.

I think we're nixing the pot rack since we'll have enough cabinet drawer space for everything so I'm thinking this wraparound corner shelf would be awesome on the range wall to window wall corner. Perfect little perch for all my cute kitchen things above. And they can do that accent paint edge in a light peach! Want. Just need to make sure our corner is actually 90 degrees, otherwise it will be wonky and there will be no wonky in my new kitchen.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Beep beep! Derivery!

The IKEA kitchen came last Friday, 141 of 143 pieces delivered! It was stressful. At least Jeff took Elsa out to the park to play during the scheduled delivery time, it would have been a madhouse to have her underfoot while they stacked everything in the back room. When I bought the kitchen, the sales guy said to take the time and check in every piece on my receipt to ensure a complete delivery, so I pretty much did that. The delivery guys were super annoyed with me, and tried to tell me that I had 10 days to confirm everything was there, but I just gave them my best "I'm not an idiot" glare and went back to checking item numbers off my sales sheet. It took like 30 minutes, but I did a lot of it as they were bringing the stuff in, so they were waiting around maybe 10 minutes. I didn't feel bad.

I neglected to go through the box of individually packaged hardware bags that came with the delivery, because it was like 37 pieces and everything was under $7, so I figured if something was missing, it wasn't a huge deal. I didn't check them in while the guys were there because in those 10 minutes, we also got our rug delivered and our gorgeous kitchen faucet delivered so the doorbell kept ringing and I was overwhelmed. I checked the hardware box after they left and found out I got screwed out of two bags of hinges, but they're only a few bucks and I already called IKEA and they said they'd give them to me. At least all the big items made it and nothing looked damaged!

We rearranged a bit and most everything is now in the area shown in the first picture. It's pretty out of the way, but I'm itching to open everything up and build it into my dream kitchen. The cats are loving it though as perches to lay on and look out the window, and a maze to hide from Elsa in.

And here's our new bedroom rug!

Getting Elsa's leopard print wool rug for her room totally made me a rug convert. I was all about hardwood floors only for awhile (probably residual emotional scars left from Lily Mae's bulimia) but playing with a toddler means a lot of time spent on the floor and a cushy rug is just so nice to roll around on. This guy is from and is 100% wool awesomeness. It hardly sheds at all, and I got it during their 60% off sale so it ended being around $110, with free shipping! Such a deal. Looks a lot like this West Elm one that's 5x more, maybe a little fluffier.

And the kitchen faucet! I love the Delta Trinsic line a lot, and the champagne bronze is exactly the finish I was going for. I read enough bad reviews for the Touch20 model (you tap it and the water turns on) that I decided to go with the basic model. It scared me to think one of the cats could brush up against it turning it on, and then leaving it on until we noticed. We're in a drought, ain't nobody got water for that!

We got the single-handle pull-down sprayer faucet because I think we'll need the reach of the sprayer for the farmhouse sink we're getting, and I like the simplicity of the single hole and single handle.

I open the box a lot and gaze adoringly at it, whispering sweet nothings. I love you Faucet...

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Muggin' for the camera.


You won't believe how rare simple, modern, not-crazy-expensive, gold cabinet hardware is to find. I went Level 9 Obsessive on searching of the perfect hardware for our new kitchen, knowing it would be one of my "splurge" areas. It's the bling of the kitchen and something that gets touched multiple times a day so it's not something you want to go cheap on in my opinion. Don't get me wrong, the Ikea hardware is stupid cheap, but looks really well made and solid and I would have been happy to go with their stuff if they made it in the finish I wanted. I'm talking more about all the internet DIYs on spray painting the Ikea hardware gold. They look good, but for how long? I'd be so bummed if the paint started to wear or chip off.

So I knew I wanted a brushed brass/gold finish, and definitely not the super shiny yellow brass, but unfortunately a lot of the sites don't break down their brass hardware into these two color categories so I did a lot of scrolling past terrible hardware to get to the 3% of choice pieces that met my design wishes. My budgetary wishes? Not so much. I budgeted about $500 to get all of the hardware for the kitchen, and got pretty close. I was right at $500 but the clouds parted and the Gods of Internet Coupon Codes blessed me, and I scored a very rare 20% off anything coupon code from one of the several websites that carried the hardware. Paired with free shipping over $29.99, got my business. I hesitate to link them here, because they were TERRIBLE with the customer service aspect. I purchased the hardware once I thought the kitchen was finalized, but if you remember from the last post, a few cabinet changes were made in the final IKEA plan, so I wanted to swap out a couple of the pulls. Long story short, they were terrible, I didn't swap out anything, but it's going to work out and I just ended up with one extra pull that will get used in the bathroom. No biggie, but boo hiss to ATG's customer support team.

So roughly $400 got me 17 of the 10.5" pulls on the bottom of the picture, 7 of the 5" pulls in the middle, and 9 of the shorty knobs on top. I am SO happy with them too. They are heavy and feel solid and great, and the finish is so pretty. I think they look awesome against the black cabinets, and will go with the cork floors better than silver hardware would have. No regrets!

Thursday, February 20, 2014


I totally hesitate to post these drawings here. Because they show you how crazy I am. Yeah, I doodled the gold hardware, subway tile, and a hanging plant on the Ikea layout printouts. These are the sacrifices I make for you, dear blahg readers.

SO- things to ignore. The weird huge dishwasher that is marked fridge. Ikea software is weird. That's what they think fridges look like. Maybe in Sweden. Also to ignore, the missing toe kick under the pantry to the left of the fridge. It will be in the finished kitchen, promise. That's a 24" wide pantry which is 6" smaller than what I originally had in the plans, but the Ikea dudes clued me in that the 24" is way better because it has the pull out drawers so it's really a lot more useable space than the 30" cabinet with shelves only.

You may also notice that we added a cabinet above the fridge and there will be a panel running down it to the right of the fridge boxing it in. Classy.  I also replaced the microwave cabinet with a 39" upper cabinet for all our glasses. I realized that it'd be hard for me to reach for glasses above the microwave if it was in that cabinet, plus Jeff has like 78 pint glasses so we need the space. We talked to the contractor yesterday and we're going to have the microwave in the pantry, just like John and Sherry. Nice and tucked away.

We added two pull-out cabinets next to the sink for the trash and recycling so we didn't need the two 15" cabinets next to the 24" cabinets on either side of the range, so we cut those and beefed up the range flankers to the 36" cabinets. They have two smaller drawers on top, and two large and deep pull out drawers underneath. Plenty of room for all of our baking dishes, pots and pans, cooking utensils, and spices. I was thinking of doing a pot rack, but I think I'm going to really like everything hidden and tucked into cabinets. 

I'd love one of the big classic Karlsson Calendar flip clocks to the right of the range hood, but they're expensive and sold out on Amazon. Boooo... Commence clock stalking!

And the buffet wall! These are the shallow (12" deep) cabinets with drawers on top and shelves on the bottom. We'll keep some serving dishes in here, and party supplies! These sconces, and I'm thinking an awesome world map like this one or this one would be cool in between them. 

Tomorrow's delivery day! Exciting!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Sooo... I just bought a kitchen.

There were internet rumors. Internet rumors too intriguing to let slide. Specifically, when you are an IKEA Family program member (which is free to join), if you buy something and it gets discounted within 90 days, you can march your receipt back in to the store and get that money back. Normally it's just 30 days. This becomes a HUGE deal when you consider the IKEA kitchen sales. They happen twice a year, for a month, so if you have three months on either side of those sales to get the discount, laws of math tell you that the kitchen sale is ALL YEAR LONG! Yeah, so you don't have to buy your IKEA kitchen during the sale months when nothing is in stock, and all the IKEA kitchen people are stressed out and snippy. 

I heard another internet rumor (it's pretty much all I do after Elsa goes to bed, look for gossip on the internet regarding sales and trolling around for coupon codes) that the next IKEA kitchen sale starts on February 28th this year so I went in during my lunch break today to the Costa Mesa IKEA to force their staff into confirming/denying these rumors. Luckily the kitchen department was dead in the middle of a day right after the holiday weekend (strategery I'm telling you) and I had three specialists there to grill. So the low down is, YES you can buy your kitchen whenever you damn well please and get your money back during their sale month by bringing in your receipt, provided you are an IKEA Family member (you're dumb if you're not. You get free coffee and ice cream and a bunch of other perks for the cost of nothing but having to carry another plastic card in your wallet.). And NO, the sale doesn't start on February 28th. They haven't heard an exact date yet but it's the end of March when it begins. 

Sooo... since I was there anyways... I bought our kitchen! They helped me tweak a few things, and suggested a few modifications that make the kitchen a lot smarter for us (I'll do another post one day about not wasting money on a design service that specializes in IKEA kitchens, lesson learned, but rather just go to an IKEA on a non-busy day and find a competent kitchen associate that works there instead), and suggested that I purchase it right now because things are already going out of stock and being backordered. So I did. I was able to get everything we need, except for 4 cabinet doors (which will be in stock tomorrow so I'll pick those up on my way home) and my precious Domsjo sink. :( That one is a sad case. They are sold out around the world (California at least) and they don't know when (if) they will be back in stock. It is SUCH a good farmhouse sink that is a really good deal compared to what they sell for outside of IKEA. Like a third of the price. But I'm keeping my fingers crossed and IKEA on speed dial so I can call obsessively checking on the stock status. I'm hopeful there will be more sometime before the end of April when all of this is getting installed.

SO! Budget breakdown! Because this is the fun numbers part where I can be excited about how much money we saved. Keep in mind these prices include everything including the missing sink and doors, so it's 12 cabinets, a range hood, butcher block countertops for the whole kitchen, and all the trimmings (like plinth and filler pieces and cornices for the tops of the pantry and two upper cabinets). Also included, the $99 delivery fee- totally worth it considering it's 143 pieces being delivered (!!!). 

Sub-total = $4,790.73
Tax = $383.26 (Cheapskate Liv found out that Costa Mesa's tax rate is 8% and Carson's tax rate is 9% so even though Carson is closer to home, I saved $64.11 by buying everything at the IKEA I pass on my way home from work everyday. Werk it!)
Delivery fee = $99
Total = $5,272.99

Post sale:
Sub-total = $4,790.73 - 20% = $3,832.58
Tax = $306.61
Delivery fee: $99
Total = $4,238.19

For a grand total discount of $1,034.80! *Fist pump*

So the downer is that they are delivering it on Friday. EEK. Seeing as how we have a tiny garage now thanks to Jeff's studio hogging all of it, I'm going to have a whole flat-packed kitchen piled up in the office/playroom for two months. I joked that I would probably get antsy and just end up doing all the demo and install myself by the following weekend, but we'll see. This shall indeed be a test of my patience. 

On the upside, I've convinced Lynne and Jodi to help me assemble all of the cabinets over the weekend that Jeff and Elsa are up in San Jose, right before demo starts. They were surprisingly excited about it, so we're going to have an cabinet assembly sleepover weekend! I hope they're still my friends at the end of it... Anyways, their free labor will save us about $800 in professional labor to have the cabinets ready to install by the pros, rather than having them assemble them. Savings left and right! 

Sorry so many words and no pictures this post... the IKEA Home Planner website is under maintenance tonight (great timing IKEA) so I can't screen snapshot the final layout we're going with. Hopefully tomorrow I can share. Gotta leave you wanting more...

Just carved another $333 off the budget...

I found new kitchen sconces!! I love the simplicity of them, and it doesn't hurt that they are crazy cheap. $12.50 each!! Plus the cost of spray paint. Before you think I'm crazy, let's see some pictures:

As I was pondering (obsessively) my sconce options from the last post, I remembered I pinned a picture from The Brick House blog of an easy DIY for these utilitarian sconces that they did for a hair salon (which btw is the most gorgeous salon to ever exist). The porcelain sockets come in white, but spray painted black they look pretty great. I want these gold capped globe bulbs to go with them: 

I ended up ordering these sockets below from Amazon, for only $5 each! I like the brass pull chain on them (we'll have them wired to a light switch so we don't have to pull them on constantly, it's more like jewelry for my sconces), and that price is pretty amazing.

And if I end up hating them (never), it will be $25 lost. Not too shabby. After I had decided on these, it was perfect timing to receive a Valentine's Day card from my MIL Sue, who knows me SO well. She usually gifts us a dinner out on Valentine's Day, but knowing we had this reno coming up, she gifted us one sconce of our choosing instead! She also really liked the Cedar & Moss Alto sconces (my previous top runner), so it was like getting a coupon for 50% off from them. Pretty tempting, but the fact that I'm sticking with these despite the generous gift clues you in to how much I really like these too. And saving $333 is icing on the cake. So you owe us $12.50 Sue. THANK YOU!! :)  

Sunday, February 9, 2014


We have a couple of opportunities for some good lighting choices in the new kitchen. The area I'm most excited about is the bumped out wall that will have the shallow (12" deep) cabinets. We wanted to keep this area free of upper cabinets so we could put a big painting here (yet to be chosen, fingers crossed for a Danny Heller), flanked by two sconces. I think it will make it a little more homey and less kitcheny. That's a word.

Again, ignore the dumb Ikea home planner picture where it looks like the cabinets are overlapping with the doorway molding. They will not.

So sconces! So many to choose from... and such a potential budget buster. Lighting can be freakin' expensive! I started immediately limiting my search results by price, because I was too often finding awesome sconces I wanted that ended up being $400+ per sconce. Ain't nobody got money for that! Us at least.

These first ones from OneFortyThree ($85) are in the "budget friendly" category and may be my top runner:

These brass Alto Sconces from Cedar & Moss are my favorites, but about twice as much ($179) as the ones from OneFortyThree so we'll have to see where we're at budget-wise once things get underway.

These Soho sconces from Shades of Light are also pricey ($198), but really cool.

Emily used these next ones for the Fig House project, and they are rad. Way too expensive ($320) for us though. 

Here's another cool one from OneFortyThree ($95), but I think the metal shade won't work for us. We don't want a bunch of can lights so these sconces have to give off decent light into the kitchen, not just directed light. I do like these a lot though.

These ones are also from OneFortyThree ($95), but the swing arm is 16" which might be a little too protruding for this area. I like the versatility of the swing arms though.

These cuties are from Schoolhouse Electric and are a decent price ($128).

I wanted these guys ($139) for the living room, above the sideboard and flanking the wood slices on the wall. They might work for the kitchen too though.

We're going to keep the existing electrical work for overhead lighting currently in the kitchen because they are in the perfect locations (one directly above the sink and centered, and the other is in line with where the range is moving), but I don't like the actual lights (they each have three small spotlights you can move around, but they burn out quickly and are kind of ugly). I want to swap them out with pendants instead. I've narrowed it down to a low budget and a higher budget choice.

These Ikea pendants are obviously the lower priced of the two, and I think the ones I'm going to go with. They are white powder-coated metal, with gold accents and a black and white cloth cord. I'm thinking they would look cool with the inside painted gold, and these are cheap enough to try something like that. This is the smaller one ($24.99) for over the sink:

And the bigger one ($39.99) for the middle of the kitchen, in front of the range:

The fancier options are from West Elm, and still pretty affordable. I'm a sucker for milk glass anything but I really like the shapes of these. I like this bowl one too. This is the smaller one (normally $99, on sale now for $79 making this pretty tempting...):

And the bigger one (normally $179, now $143):

Any of these giving you seizures, Mom?