Apartment Therapy January Cure: Day 1

When my friend Lindsay introduced me to Apartment Therapy in college, I fell in love. The two of us would sit around looking at pictures of beautiful houses and apartments, imagining what our places would look like when we weren’t so gross and college-like. It was like moving out of Worcester would magically make us cleaner and more organized and better at life. Yeah. Right.

Okay, so I guess it worked a little bit. When we bought our house, I was OBSESSED with AT, oogling house tours, picking paint colors, planning full-on demolitions of our house. While some of the ideas actually made it into our house (blue dining room! painted chandelier!), most of them were (and still are) pipe dreams. Over the past few months, I’ve become (slightly) more realistic about our space, our budget, and what will and won’t work. I’ve also come to terms with “our style” and how that compares to “what is correct according to interior designers” and “what is popular” (they’re often not the same). But guess what! It’s our house! We’ll do what we want!

I actually read an article on there once about how you shouldn’t put family pictures and personal artifacts on the first floor. Because no one wants to look at pictures of your kids and dogs and family vacations. Funny, because I’m pretty sure that I live in my house and I’ll spend more time there than any guest ever would. And if I want to look at pictures of me and Jesse frolicking through concrete corn fields during our first road trip, then I sure as hell am going to do that.

Other than articles like that, AT is pretty great. This year, I noticed they’re doing this thing called January Cure. From what I gather, it’s a way of getting the year off to a good start, getting your house in order for the upcoming year. Since we’re finally settling in to the house and things are generally where we want them to be, I thought this would be a fun project to tackle. Also, it is winter and I have a really hard time staying motivated in the winter, and every little project helps!

Day 1 of the January Cure is Make a List of Projects! I love lists. I also love lists of things that I will never accomplish. Dishes I want to cook. Cakes I want to make. Places I want to visit. Things that need to be fixed in the house. Things I want to do in the house. Trust me, I am AWESOME at making lists. The best thing about Day 1? They tell you not to do anything! Just make a list! That is totally doable.

To make the list, you are advised to walk through each room in the house, making notes on any trouble spots organized by room. Note each area or item that needs a good cleaning, a de-cluttering or a re-organization. Then, go through the list and pick 3-5 things from each room as main focus points.

That’s it!

Walking through our house produced nothing that was unexpected. Everything on my list are things that I was planning on tackling over the next month or two anyway, so we’re all good!

Here’s my list:


  • Wash floor and windows
  • Remove junk
  • Get a shoe rack
  • Paint it white
  • New front door
  • New light fixture


  • Shelves for over table
  • Organize junk drawer
  • Get trash into a cabinet
  • Organize drawers and cabinets
  • Curtain over sink
  • New light fixtures


  • Paint
  • Find a new mirror
  • Change hardware
  • New light fixture
  • Get a new bathroom rug & shower curtain


  • Build table and benches
  • Shelves
  • Finish curtains
  • Find new shades


  • Paint
  • Rug
  • Ottoman
  • Hang artwork behind couch
  • New shades


  • Paint
  • Hang pictures
  • New light fixtures


  • Rug
  • Chair
  • Curtains/shades
  • Get pictures off of the floor and onto the walls
  • New light fixture


  • Make it more like a bedroom and less like storage
  • New lights


  • New dresser for Jesse
  • Rug
  • Paint
  • Space heater
  • Hang things on walls
  • New sheets
  • New light fixture

The awesome thing about this list is that every item on it is doable, just not in the month of January. These are all things that need to get done, at some point or another. The crossed-out items will have to wait until time, money, and weather allow, but everything else? I think I can do it!

The rooms I’m the most focused on are the living room and the bedroom. The office, if I have to, is completely off the list. Same goes for the spare bedroom (the only person who has been sleeping over is Jess, and she’s all about our couch). Now all I need is a little bit of motivation and a whole bunch of beer.


Getting Things Done

It’s sort of ridiculous how quickly three months go by. One second, I’m super psyched on this blog and silly DIY projects. The next, Christmas is over and we still don’t have an assembled futon in the spare bedroom. It’d be easy to sit here and complain about how we’ve gotten nothing done, about how all of the rooms look relatively the same, and about how many more things we have to do to make the house feel more like ours and less like an apartment that we’ve been renting for five months. I’m not going to do that, though! Because we’ve made a small amount of progress! And we’ve done what we can afford! And time goes by TOO FAST and the work days are too long and suddenly it’s Christmas and it’s snowing and it is impossible to do anything without my poor little fingers freezing off.

So what have we been busy with around the Schloss? First off, we got this little guy in October:Roland

Jesse found him on a park bench near where he works on one of the coldest nights in October. Naturally, we took the little guy in, got him checked out, tried to find him a home, and ended up keeping him despite our older cat, Bean, hating him. Roland has toughed it out, though. He’s doubled in size since October and just this morning, I caught the two of them sleeping on our bed suspiciously close to one another.

Speaking of beds, we also got one of those! I’d show a picture, but our bedroom is, unfortunately, not a room we’ve made any progress in. However, we bought an awesome frame from Boston Interiors. Having the mattress off of the floor made it feel a lot more like we were living in a house and less like we were crashing on some buddy’s mattress on the floor of some college apartment. Let’s hear it for adulthood!

Adulthood has also brought us other money-sucking endeavors, such as wisdom teeth removal, new tires for Jesse’s car, and astronomically high oil bills. These necessary but totally-not-fun things have prevented us from buying things like rugs, pillows, paint, curtains, and other way-more-fun things, but that’s okay. We’ve had the money to buy lots of awesome beer, so that’s really what matters. Priorities.

Despite how it sounds, we have made some progress on some rooms! Let me introduce the project I am THE MOST PROUD OF. Ready?? Drumroll….


CD Shelves IMG_7415

This project took far longer to complete than I would like to admit, but I did all of the sanding, staining, and installation on my own while Jesse was at band practice. Gotta be productive, right? It’s hard to grasp the size of the shelves in these photos (my wide-angle lens is sadly out of commission for the time being), but the longer shelves span the length of one wall while the shorter shelves go from the corner to the window. For the longer shelves, I mounted two of the brackets to studs and used toggle bolts for the middle bracket. This is the first time I’ve drilled a 5/8″ hole through ANYTHING, so it was terrifying and AWESOME at the same time. Everything went (relatively) smoothly. A co-worker let me borrow his sander after I tried sanding one single shelf by hand (never again). The stain came out EXACTLY as we imagined it. And! The shelves hold all of Jesse’s CDs! And they haven’t fallen off of the wall yet! Success! IMG_7414 IMG_7412

Before the shelves were installed, the office received a fresh coat of WHITE paint (not Contractor’s Off White). We also bought a new desk from Ikea and hung things on the walls! It amazes me how pictures on the walls make a room feel instantly more homey.

IMG_7367 IMG_7401

For this room, there isn’t much left! I want to replace the mini-blinds with something more exciting, probably some homemade Roman shades with some funky fabric. As much as I like the white walls, this room needs some serious color. Stark just ain’t my thing.

IMG_7402 IMG_7404 IMG_7394

So what’s in store for the new year? PAINT. Everything is getting painted. The hallway, the bedroom, the living room, the bathroom. I can’t even start thinking beyond that right now, mostly because we don’t really have the cash to do anything bigger than that, and because I can’t get ahead of myself.

We also need rugs. My feet are cold.

As for this here blog? Maybe more frequent updates? Except before we know it, it’ll be March and the snow will be melting and I’ll have to start planning my garden. That’s fine with me…

Brass-Be-Gone: One Down, 1546 to Go!

One of the things that we, and everyone we know, immediately noticed about our house is the higher-than-average number of brass fixtures. One in the bathroom. An awesome chandelier in the dining room. The ceiling fan in the living room. The sconces in all of the bedrooms and the hallway. The ceiling fan in the bedroom. The fixture in the attic.

From my understanding, these hideously ugly things were popular at some point. What’s even more amazing, is that they still sell these sorts of things in stores, meaning people still buy them. I can’t imagine why.

Because of the number of fixtures around the house, and the desire to tackle other projects before replacing every piece of brass in the place, I came to terms with the fact that we’d have to live with the brass and all of its shiny goodness for an indefinite amount of time… Until we painted the dining room. There’s something about a fresh coat of awesome blue paint to make a hideously ugly brass and glass fixture seem MORE out of place.

On Saturday, I decided things needed to change.

(Note: The picture above was actually taken before I decided to pull the chandelier down. I lightly poked at the top part, and the entire thing popped off. It was fate that the stupid thing needed to be pulled down.)

Jesse had plans to head to Providence to play with a new band. I had no plans… a perfect situation for spray-painting a chandelier! Before Jesse left, he gave me a hand with taking the chandelier off of the ceiling. Two screws and some un-wiring (after the power to the room was turned off, obviously) later, the chandelier was on the floor and ready to be disassembled. Jesse was concerned that we wouldn’t find a new chandelier before dark (I’m picky. And cheap), and when I told him the old one was going back up, he looked at me like I had three heads. Eventually I convinced him to trust me, without revealing my plan. He couldn’t dissuade me!

Diassembling the chandelier wasn’t as hard as I thought it was going to be. I had to undo one of the chain links to get the top part off, but everything came apart pretty easily after that. (Note: When doing this, keep track of what piece goes where. I didn’t. Re-assembly was a little more challenging because of this. Oh well, live and learn.) To the garage! I laid a plastic dropcloth over the garage floor to protect it from spray paint distruction, opened the garage door, and went to town.

I wish I could say that everything went perfectly smooth from start to finish. It didn’t. I made a few mistakes:

Mistake #1: Using a plastic drop cloth. Spray paint sticks to plastic drop cloths, which makes the items you’re spray painting stick to plastic drop cloth. Whoops.

Mistake #2: Not properly weighing down the plastic drop cloth. It was windy on Saturday, and even though I was in the garage, the wind was blowing right through it. This meant the stupid drop cloth blew up and stuck to my freshly painted chandelier. Meh.

Mistake #3: Holding pieces while touching up the paint. Spray paint DOES NOT like to come off of hands. I should have warn gloves. Lesson learned.

For the paint, I used Rustoleum in Satin Black. I definitely wanted black, but I didn’t want it to be glaringly shiny. The brass was shiny enough. I sprayed one coat on all of the pieces, waited about 45 min, then applied a second coat. I let the chandelier sit out in the garage for about 2 hours before I went and checked on it. I have a habit of poking at things too early, so I let it sit out without even looking at it. This was NOT a mistake! Even after two hours, most of the pieces were still tacky. I touched up thin spots on a lot of the pieces, moved them all OFF of the stupid drop cloth, and left them to dry overnight.

Once everything was dry, I reassembled the chandelier and Jesse and I reattached it to the ceiling, screwed in my new bulbs (round white >> fake plastic candle bulbs), and restored the power to the room.


There were a few spots on the chain and on one of the upper pieces where the paint had rubbed off. I didn’t degloss the thing before spraying, and I didn’t prime, so I sort of expected that there would be spots that weren’t perfect. I touched up those blemishes with a sharpie. You can’t even tell. Success!

So, do we love it? It’s alright. It looks good (from far away, and in the dark), and it looks a MILLION times better than the ugly brass beast, but it’s not what I would have chosen if we had gone to the store and picked something out. But, for the time being, it’ll be great. Mostly because it was cheap.

Now I have the spray paint bug. I have a bunch of old, cheap frames that are going to get a dose of white paint tomorrow afternoon. Then I will FINALLY get some pictures up on the walls.


Long Time No See

I wish I could say that, after being in the house for a month (already!), that we have made huge strides toward getting the place set up and ready to go.

But, let’s be honest. We are lazy. And we like hanging out and doing things that don’t involve a lot of work. Like drinking beer. And taking walks to downtown Maynard. And watching Pretty Little Liars. Even Jesse admits addiction to this show. It seriously cut into our unpacking/cleaning/painting time this weekend.

We have made a little progress though! We have:

  • Finished painting the dining room
  • Finished painting the kitchen
  • Sealed around the thing where the electrical comes into the house (I’m not sure what the technical name for this is…)
  • Filled in a hole in the field stone foundation that apparently a mouse had found its way through
  • Filled in ANOTHER hole in the BOTTOM of the field stone foundation that Crafty Mouse had chewed his way through AFTER digging about three feet underground (why Bean hasn’t killed this sucker is beyond me…)
  • Discovered that the fridge was leaking and, with the help of my dad, stopped it from leaking


When I first look at that list, I am a little disappointed that we haven’t gotten more done. I get really overwhelmed on the weekends and think that we should be doing so much more, but then I step back and I sort of like the slow progress of everything. We’re waiting for items that we really like. We’re waiting for everything to settle in. We’re waiting to see what we really want, and not what the internet tells us we should want. We did just buy this house a month ago, and while a month seems like a long time, it’s not. Our weekends are pretty busy! We’ve taken day trips to Portsmouth, NH. We’ve come back to the Fitchburg/Leominster area to pick up our veggies, hang out with my parents, and check out flea markets. We spend afternoons hanging out with Allen and Robin and their Most Adorable Child. We eat ice cream. We watch Pretty Little Liars. I make soup.

So while we’re not super fast at getting things done, I think the stuff we have done is starting to make the place feel like home.

Oh, you want pictures of progress? Ok! Don’t mind the crappy iPhone pictures… I can’t find the power cord to my computer monitor. Or, I haven’t really looked for it. Whatever.

The kitchen! I love the colors. LOVE. The backsplash looks awesome, and I’m so happy that we painted rather than tiled for now. It makes it so easy to change if we should get bored (ha, we’re too lazy to get bored). For paint, we used Behr Ultra Premium Plus in colors I cannot remember the name of right now (but will update when I can find the chips). The trim was already painted, and could probably use a touch-up, but that’s for another day (month? year?). I originally wanted to get rid of the grey laminate counter tops, but with the new color scheme, I can totally deal with them for another few years. They don’t look half bad, and they’re super easy to keep clean (aka they hide everything). I also originally thought I would want to paint the cabinets eventually (I’ve seen so many beautiful kitchens with painted cabinets), but I think they look great now. It’s amazing what removing a little yellow can do. This was the before (crappy pictures from Zillow, which still has our real estate listing for some reason):

I am SO GLAD the yellow is gone! The colors in the kitchen now look GREAT with our awesome dining room:

Painting the dining room was a trying experience. Covering white walls with dark blue paint is not the easiest  thing in the world. It took us four coats in places, and a couple of spots still need to be touched up (including that taped-off pipe that I haven’t started on yet). The color we chose was Deep Blue Sea by Behr, and these pictures really don’t do it justice. In the sun, it almost takes on a blue-green color and it looks so much brighter (or as bright) as we were expecting. The room itself is obviously not done. The chandelier NEEDS to go, but we haven’t really looked for a new one yet, and aren’t quite sure what we want. The round table will eventually (before Thanksgiving I hope!) be replaced with a farmhouse table that we’re going to build ourselves. There are a ton of pictures I want to get up on the walls after I paint their frames white, and I would love to get some shelving up too. Maybe next weekend. Or while Jesse is drugged out from his wisdom teeth removal. He’ll wake up and EVERYTHING will be painted grey. He’ll love it.

So! That’s it for now. In reality, it’ll be another month before another post, because that’s the rate we’re moving. This week, I plan on finding the (a) power cord for my computer so I can take real pictures of the house, painting some frames, and maybe narrowing down some chandelier choices. In reality, we will probably finish the first season of Pretty Little Liars and make a good dent in the second. At least we’re being honest with ourselves.

Retailer Review: RugsUSA.com

A few days before we closed on the house, Groupon had a fantastic deal: $95 for $245 worth of rugs at RugsUSA.com. I had recently read some positive things about RugsUSA on one of the blogs I read (I forget which one), and also read a whole bunch of positive reviews elsewhere on the internet. I did my research to make sure they weren’t a scam, and aside from a few general negative reviews (the colors weren’t right, the shipping was slow), I decided to pull the trigger. After all, $95 for a large area rug seemed like an awesome deal to me.

Fast forward a few weeks. About a week after we moved in, we decided it was time to go rug hunting. Our boxspring had to be cut in half to get up the stairs at our old place, which required the removal of all of the fabric on the outside. Did you know that most boxsprings are cheap-ass wood shoddily nailed together into a rough box shape? Yeah, we didn’t either. Anyway, because we had to remove the fabric, and because the construction was so shoddy, there are a lot of places on the bottom of the boxspring where nails and staples stick out. Nice, huh? This wasn’t a problem at our old place because the bedroom was carpeted, but we didn’t want to take a chance on scratching up our hardwood floors at the Schloss. Therefore, rug = necessary.

After some general indecisiveness, we decided on this guy:

Not bad, aye? We liked it too. And, it was only $218! In order to use the Groupon, I had to spend the full $245, so I ordered this guy for the kitchen as well. The total, after the Groupon, came to $12. So I spent a total of $107 on two rugs. Not too shabby.

The day after I ordered, I received shipping confirmation for the smaller rug. Should arrive in a week. Perfect, no rush. Four days later, I got a shipping confirmation for the larger rug. This was to be expected… I believe the site said that the rug would ship in 3-5 days. I clicked the tracking link they gave me, because I like to obsessively check these things, and… not found. Hmm. FedEx says it could take up to 48 hours to show up in their system. Okay, fine.

48 hours later? Not found.

But guess what! The UPS guy (not the FedEx guy) showed up with our rug as Jesse was coming home from work. Except the rug was tan. Not black. Jesse sent me a text with a picture of the label. “Didn’t we order a rug with red in it?”

YES WE DID ORDER A RUG WITH RED IN IT. The stupid thing was also OPEN and DIRTY:

I was pretty irate. I (theoretically) spent $218 on this rug (actually spent $95), and for it to arrive that dirty is unacceptable. What is even more unacceptable is that IT WASN’T THE RUG I ORDERED. Unfortunately, RugsUSA’s customer service closes at 6, so I had to wait until Tuesday morning to call.

At 9:15am on Tuesday, I got in touch with customer service. After the MOST ANNOYING hold music/talk ever, a meek-sounding girl answered the phone. How could I yell at someone who sounded so sad/bored with their job? I would have to play nice. I explained my situation to the girl (WRONG, DIRTY rug), and she quickly said she would put me on hold and get in touch with the manufacturer right away. I guess RugsUSA goes direct through the manufacturers and doesn’t have a warehouse of their own. After sitting on hold for about 5 minutes, my meek friend came back on the line.

They would be sending me packaging that would arrive in 1-2 days to return my rug. Then I would have to contact UPS for a pick-up. Once the rug was received at the manufacturer’s warehouse, I would receive a refund.

Um, okay. What about the rug I actually ordered? I want it! In black!

Oh, the manufacturer doesn’t make that color in that size anymore.

Wait, what?

I asked the girl to clarify this, and apparently she meant exactly what she said. RugsUSA sells rugs that don’t exist anymore, and when the manufacturer gets an order for one of those rugs, they just send whatever color they have left. Yep, that’s how it works. So because they didn’t have black in the style I wanted, the company just assumed that I would be okay with getting a rug in an entirely different color. Yeah, no.

So now I guess I’m just waiting on my refund. I am curious as to 1) how long that will take and 2) how that’ll actually work. In a perfect world, they would just credit my debit account for the amount of the rug. However, I didn’t actually pay RugsUSA $218. I paid $95 to Groupon. So will RugsUSA refund me my Groupon purchase price? Or only the $12 that I actually paid? Will I have to make another call to Groupon to get them to refund the price I paid to them? It all seems stupid and complicated.

For now, I’m out $95. And our mattress is still on the floor. From now on, I’ll stick to buying rugs in stores. Hrmph.

UPDATE (9/5/12): So. We eventually received the packaging to return the rug we ordered. Eventually, as in two weeks after I spoke with Customer Service. Two weeks to receive a FexEx package containing a giant bag, two twist ties, and some tape. Nothing else. Where was I supposed to send the rug? How was I supposed to send the rug? I called Customer Service again, and after sitting on hold for 10 minutes, the girl told me that I did the right thing by calling, that they would put in a pick up order with FedEx, and I would receive an email in a few days about when to set the rug out for shipment. A week later, I finally received that email. At 11:30 AM. Telling me that they would make the first pick-up attempt that day.

Okay, that’s fine, except I work. Like a lot of people. And I can’t put out a rug for pick-up when I’M NOT HOME. Also! When I got home, there was a FedEx sticker on the door saying they showed up for the first pick-up at 11:50, a  mere 20 minutes after I received the email. HA. Ok.

That night, Jesse and I packaged up the rug, and in the morning, we set it out for pick-up. The FedEx guy came by, lugged the 8′-tall rug into his truck, and left us a pick-up tag with a tracking number. Sweet.

The rug made it to the manufacturer yesterday. I have yet to receive any confirmation that they received the rug. We’ll see how this goes.

UPDATE (9/6/12): Today marks the day that I am done with Groupon AND RugsUSA. And maybe “too good to be true” discounted things in general. After not hearing from RugsUSA yesterday, or all of today, I gave them a call to find out what was UP with my order. I spoke to a very nice woman who told me some not very nice news:  Because I purchased the rug using a Groupon, I should have processed the return with Groupon. Also, because I had to order two things in order to use the full amount of the Groupon, they had to CHARGE my account an extra $17 for the smaller rug and I had to contact Groupon to get my $95 back.


I was on the phone with Groupon for about 20 minutes speaking (or not speaking?) to a woman who is typing more than she is talking. That’s fine–I get that customer service works in different ways–but to have your (potentially pissed off) customer just sitting on the line while you’re typing away doesn’t make me feel very confident. In the end, I get my $95 back after Groupon verifies that I’m not just full of shit. I guess that’s all I can really ask for?

While I will NEVER order from RugsUSA again (this entire ordeal took a month, and I still have no bedroom rug to show for it), and I’m most likely done with buying things from Groupon,  every customer service person I spoke to from both companies was helpful, and if they didn’t know the answer to something, they figured it out. I guess you have to have good customer service when you mess up so gigantically.

I’ll stick to buying rugs in person from now on, even if it costs a lot more.


Jesse and I have a lot in common. We like a lot of the same music, movies and TV shows (I know he likes Dance Moms and Teen Mom. He just won’t admit it). Aside from his aversion to certain vegetables, we like a lot of the same food. We both enjoy being outdoors, aren’t particularly keen on the beach, and like long drives. We have similar temperaments most of the time, and are pretty much equal on the lazy scale. But. The one thing we have in common that is actually detrimental (not to our relationship, but maybe to other things) is our indecisiveness.

We are  incredibly indecisive. I don’t want to make a decision because I want to make sure that Jesse is happy/comfortable/whatever, and I generally don’t care what we do/where we eat/who we hang out with. I think he feels the same way toward me. Most of the time, we go back and forth for what feels like forever with things like, “What do you want to do?” “Doesn’t matter to me, what do you want to do?” “Well, I decided last time, so you should decide.” “No, I’m pretty sure I decided last time.” “No, I gave you two choices and you picked one, so that’s pretty much like I decided.” And so on.

Normally, one of us eventually makes a decision and we get on with our lives. After all, what we eat for dinner is not a dire decision. However, this home stuff?

We’re useless.

The past two weeks have been a lot of me showing Jesse paint chips, and him saying “Those shades of grey look the same to me.” I have to explain to him that one is a  cool grey and one is a  warm grey and they are, in fact, very different. He shrugs, points at one, and I come back with, “Do you actually like that one? Or are you just picking because I’m making you?” and he grins and walks away.

We do have some ideas, and some of them we will hopefully start putting into motion this weekend. We agreed that the dining room will most definitely be a shade of navy blue, and we have even narrowed it down to two choices. Jesse likes Planetarium, mostly because of the name. I don’t really care, because I think they’ll both look good, albeit slight different, once they get up on the walls. The only thing I am slightly worried about is the gigantic hole in the plaster where the thermostat is “attached”. I think we’re going to have to patch the plaster, which is going to take some time away from actually getting the room painted. BUT, we want to do it right, so we should probably do that. [Edit: Since I started to draft this, we bought plaster and patching mesh, pulled the thermostat off the wall, and you know what? The “gigantic” hole is only about 2″ x 1″ and there is plenty of lathe for the plaster to grip onto. This means we can return the $8 patch and get away with a little bit of plaster! Go us!]

A navy dining room for inspiration:

The other area that we have mostly decided on is that the major walls in the kitchen are going to be grey. I believe we have even decided on a shade, and I think it’ll look great. What we haven’t decided on, and this is all my fault, is what to do with the backsplash. Originally, I wanted to tile the backsplash with white subway tiles and charcoal grout. Looking at the pictures of the kitchen before we moved in, I thought that subway tile would be too large for the backsplash area, and maybe we should parse it down a little. Use the smaller subway tiles instead. Jesse agreed that this would look nice. Then I panicked a bit because 1) we’ve never tiled anything before and 2) what if we want to replace the counter tops? Will all of our tiling have gone to waste? So I concluded that we should just paint the backsplash, and we agreed on an awesome teal color.

Then last night, I saw a Reader Redesign on Young House Love with a tiled backsplash that made me swoon a little. Maybe we should tile the backsplash. Maybe we should learn to tile. It’s not that hard, and I’m pretty sure some friends of ours own a wet saw. On top of this, I got realistic with myself. We are not going to be able to afford to put in new countertops for quite some time (years maybe), and frankly, I’m not sure I really want to just yet. Sure, we have pretty average looking laminate counter tops, but they’re incredibly easy to take care of and, because they’re grey, go with everything. They don’t look that bad. Really. What this does mean, though, is that the time we spent deciding on paint colors has to be re-spent on picking out tiles. White? Teal? Something else? Can we actually do this? And measuring for tile requires a lot more calculating and forethought than measuring for paint (1 can. done.). After looking at tiles, I think we’re swaying back toward painting, but the decision won’t be made until we leave Home Depot with either a quart of paint or a box of tile. And then it has to stay made for awhile, because I’m sure as hell not painting and then tiling.

Then there is the living room. A few days ago, we came up with the idea of painting the walls white and the ceiling… some other color. I want to keep it relatively low-key since the dining room is going to be pretty intense. But then I saw a picture of a lime-ish green ceiling and I really liked it. Totally doable. It would totally match our curtains. It would look so good.

Maybe something like this, but not carried down onto the walls? Or maybe carried down onto the walls?:

And, guys, that’s just downstairs.

People keep telling me that this doesn’t have to be done all at once, and I realize this. We have thirty years (and longer!) to get everything taken care of, and once it’s done, it can be changed. We can re-paint if we want! Yes, it requires more work, but it can be done! What I do want, though, is to have everything downstairs at least painted relatively soon because, honestly, the place doesn’t feel like home yet. We don’t have any of our pictures or prints or band posters on the wall, and it makes the place feel pretty sterile (that, and the eggshell-colored walls in every room). The neutral creme in ever room has. to. go.

We just need to get off our asses and make decisions.

P.S. Congrats to our friends Jocelyn and Jeff for closing on their Housey Home and successfully ripping down the World’s Ugliest Wallpaper! Good job, guys 🙂

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Programming…

Today’s post was going to be the third in our We Bought A House!! series, but unfortunately, our “we still have lots of boxes everywhere” post will have to wait another day.

We have some big news! We called our first repair man! Less than one week in our new house, and it has already been christened with an over-priced furnace repair man. Hrmph.

When we acquired our Schloss, Janice, the previous owner, informed us that the furnace had been switched to the off position because she had moved out a few days (weeks?) before. No big deal! The day after we moved in, we flipped the furnace on and unpacked some boxes while waiting for the water heater to warm up. Then the radiators started hissing. What? I checked the thermostat, which had been turned off. I texted my dad, who said that’s probably normal if the system had been off for awhile. It was restoring pressure to the system, or something. We have steam heat, so I found this answer acceptable, and took my first warm shower in our new house. Ahhhhh.

Then I noticed that the furnace was kicking on frequently. Hmm. Not sure what to do, we turned it off. Because in our computer-age, restarting something is often the answer, right?


We left the furnace off for a few days, mostly because it’s summer and it doesn’t really matter. Except we have an indirect-fired water heater, and need the furnace on to get hot water. That’s an issue. After taking a cold shower last night, Jesse decided that this could not continue. We had to face the facts. We flipped the furnace back on and went to bed.

About an hour later, the radiators started hissing. Fine.

In the middle of the night, they were hissing more. I asked Jesse if they were hot, and he said no. Fine.

At 5:30 am, the cat was sitting outside our bedroom door meowing (she hasn’t adjusted to our new alarm time yet… hrmph). Immediately upon waking up, we noticed that the house was warm. This was weird, because temperatures dropped into the low 60s last night, and we had all of our windows open. Our bedroom was hot. Like over 80 hot. Hand on the radiator… HOT. WHAT?! Jesse ran downstairs and flipped off the furnace. Every. single. radiator was hot. The thermostat was STILL TURNED OFF.

A phone call to my dad left us still wondering what was going on. He had no idea… It could have been a number of things. A broken check valve. A defective thermostat. His recommendation? Call the oil company. Get a repair guy in.

And this, folks, is how we had a repair guy in the the house after owning the house for exactly six days.

Luckily, we got to kill three birds with one stone with this one. Not only did they fix the problem, they also performed the yearly maintenance on the furnace AND we signed up for oil delivery.

So what was the problem? The thermostat on the water heater was set too high. Yep, that’s it. In the summer, your water heater should be set around 130F. If it is set higher, excess steam builds up in the heating system, which will eventually vent to the rest of the house. This is why our radiators were hissing. Eventually, there was so much steam that it actually heated the radiators. In the winter, you can get away with turning the thermostat on the water heater up to around 180F, because the system is producing steam any way.

Hmm, who knew??

I was a little frustrated that we had to call someone in so soon after buying the house, but my dad made a good point. It’s worth it to call people in for these little things in the beginning, because then you learn. And you put any qualms at bay. So the $125 we had to spend on the oil guy? Probably won’t have to call him in for the same thing ever again (unless we develop amnesia), and our furnace has been properly maintained until next year.

One step at a time.

This homeowner thing requires a lot of brain power.