Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bring on spring

We picked up some outdoor furniture and a rug for the back porch. Grill coming soon.

I predict summer nights of beer, brats, friends, and annoyed neighbors.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Talk about a revolution, hey, hey, at Lowes. We all try to change the world.

So I wanted to get a good deal on the materials for the basement, but had a dilemma. The materials would be expensive, and I did not want to spend any money. Not exactly a clash of the titans. If this was a show on the National Geographic channel the narrator would voice over "Sadly, there could be but one outcome."

I liken the situation to what the troops in the Revolutionary war were going through. Hopelessly outnumbered, outclassed and outgunned, the brave soldiers marched on to an almost certain death...

...Like when I stopped at Menards to get a price quote on materials and was instead greeted by a partially lobotomized employee. Luck. After some time I was able to get pricing on all the materials. Then my quest began in earnest.

I headed over to Lowes to deploy my sneak attack. I knew through countless hours of planning that Lowes offers a low price guarantee. If anyone can beat their price, Lowes will beat it by 10%. Lowes price came in at a whopping $1350 (estimate), $250 more than Menards. Lowes begrudgingly upheld their end of the bargain....

...The morning sunrise offers a glimpse of hope. Word of reinforcements from the East sparks a hope in the men they had not known in ages. Could this be the day they had been waiting for?....

....I drove down I-694, fate riding shotgun, the smell of stale McDonald's wafting through the air. I love the smell of McChicken sandwiches in the afternoon. Luck would have it, I came upon a Home Depot, a store that also happens to have a low price guarantee. Yes, not only a low price guarantee, but also one which states they will beat any price by 10%. They too quoted me a price lower than the first, lower than the second....

...Soldiers get word that a great coalition is forming, George Washington himself, along with his allies - the French, Jesus, Benjamin Netanyahu, Alexander Graham Bell, and a bunch of other dudes - were going to punch the British in their jerk mouths....

...Lowes saw the Home Depot price and once again bested it, this time only by percentage points because it was getting very close to cost. Cashiers huddled around the computer screen in astonishment. The rush was unforgettable. Managers had to be shipped in from the far reaches of the store to authorize the price quote. I thought to myself, how long can I ride this dragon? There was no time to think, I headed to Fridley Home Depot to meet my destiny...

... It actually turned out to only be George Washington, his army, and the French. Oh well, the battle was won, and everyone ate smelly cheese...

...I ended my quest in friendly Fridley. As the name suggested, they really did not care that I was getting the materials at next to cost. Score one for Rob. Actually score 2, because it probably took you close to 5 minutes to read this article. Grand total $850. Savings $500. Comparing your day wandering around going to construction stores to American history? Priceless.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Tool Tool Toolio

I got some new toys for the basement project; they are pretty awesome. I heard somewhere that having good tools makes you a better handyman, so I got anything that had a laser, flashing lights, whirring sounds, and excessive horsepower. I am funding these purchases through the sale of guitar amps, plasma, and donation cups passed around Hamline University. But hey, they have lifetime warranties, and I plan to be around for a long time... or until I dismember myself finishing the basement.... Well, at least I have life insurance.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Incredible flying dog

As you may know, we adopted an adult lab mix in early February. Unfortunately due to the dog's size (and his destructive nature toward our yard... or lack thereof), we have thus far been unable to let him run around outside without supervision. That changed last Friday when Rob completed Murphy's swanky new dog run. Murphy loves it so much that something funny happens everytime he's inside. He jumps straight up in a video-game-like manner (you know - imagine Mario jumping up to hit the question mark box). He gets some impressive hang time, as though his kennel is actually a hover chamber. Or as if he were being abducted by aliens and drawn slowly into the mothership. Regardless, it makes for some cute pictures. (See below.)

Tip: If you are in the Minneapolis area and need wood chips, you can get as many as you want from the Columbia Heights park on Central Ave. And be sure to check Craigslist for fence materials. We bought the chain link panels from a guy in Plymouth for $175. Rob even persuaded him to deliver it to our house. Success.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Our very first project - upstairs bedroom

We actually did this project back in February, but I feel it's still worth blogging about.

Our house is a pretty typical house from the 50s. Cape cod style with a converted attic upstairs bedroom. It's a cozy space, but was lacking some of the tranquility and order that we desire in a sleeping space. Since we had a lot to do here, I'll break it down with a few bullet points:

Project phase I:

  • Remove wall paper
  • Fill in cracks and broken areas with wall putty
  • Re-paint ceilings and shorter side walls (cover wall stenciling)
  • Add some color with some chocolate brown accent walls
  • Do something about the windows, which are bare and look too small for this large room
Sounds like a lot, huh? Well actually we've got more planned for the future. These are probably on the agenda for 2010.

Project phase II:
  • Knock out half wall near steps. Replace with wood railing.
  • Remove carpet. Replace with hard wood floors.
  • New light fixtures (possibly recessed lighting?).
  • Add bathroom to far west side of space.
Here's some pics of the upstairs bedroom before we moved in. These are taken during the inspection. As you can see, the previously owners had a lot of... stuff. That definitely would not work for someone semi obsessed with organization, like I am.

Here's Rob filling in wall cracks.

And now painting the white.

We decided to go with Behr Mountain Ridge (Home Depot) for the accent wall color. This paint came out very true to color. We used Ultra Pure White for the ceilings and other walls.

For the window, we used a trick we learned from HGTV. By using oversize window treatments, you can give the illusion that the window is much bigger than it actually is. We picked up curtains big enough for a window twice the size of the actual pane.

Decorating and accessories-wise, we went for a minimalist approach. This room has a ton of built-in shelves and storage so there really is no need for junk. We simply have our bed and a three-bag laundry unit. Here's the finished product:

Phase I complete. A good weekend project.

Our first house warming gift

On New Year's Eve, we were thrilled to receive our very first house-warming gift. Rob's mom gave us the coveted family Buddha statue. Rob's sisters are pretty jealous. Who wouldn't be? He is red and jolly.

Buddha now lives in our dining room. Ikea nirvana. What a glorious thing.

Our modest home

Ok, so we're not French and our house is definitely not a mansion. But we thought the name Chateau Whitman was sorta cute, and now we're stuck with it since it's the name of our blog. Oh well.Our house is actually quite modest, but it suits us just fine.

A virtual house tour

But first, a series of disclaimers:

  • Almost every room is a work in progress
  • We have a serious newlywed first-time-homeowner budget
  • We've done all of the work ourselves, but we both work full time. So sometimes progress is slow (but we get there).
  • It's hard to photograph rooms
That said, here we go.

Dining room. (Here's before and after pics of the living room. You can even see the way it looked during our initial house inspection.)

Living room:

The above pic is what the living room looks like now. I don't have a lot of photos with the new couch and wall color, so here are some older ones (with the dining room rug) that show more of the room. (Here's before and after pics of the living room.)

The kitchen (some before and afters here, we've done a lot of work in here already):

I need to take some more updated kitchen pics. Here's another view of it (but with old wallpaper and paint):

The master bedroom. (Here's before and after pics of the master bedroom.)

The spare bedroom/office. (Here's some before and after pics of the spare bedroom.) This room has gone through MANY iterations. The room recently looked like this:

But now it's an office too (eventually the office will be upstairs).

The bathroom (not much to see, we haven't started renovating this room yet):

The basement. Laundry room:

The basement den (obviously still torn up, but you can view more progress pics here and here):

And before we moved the furniture down:

It's still a big improvement from when we moved in. These two pics are from the house inspection:

We ripped down the wood paneling, faux brick, and a few walls. We added insulation and real framing. Added framing for a storage room. Then Rob installed laminate wood floors.

The attic bedroom. This was our first project. (Before and after right here.) Currently this room is actually just a storage room, but eventually it will be the office/studio.

And that's our modest home!

someone else's words

"Happiness comes when your work and words are of benefit to yourself and others." - Buddha

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