Brickhouse Hipster

Our Hip Little Home

Make no mistake, a kitchen remodel is the true test of a marriage! I think we've recovered well from this weekend's subflooring adventure, though we're still pretty sore and groan-y. There were several trips to Lowes, the untimely death of our brand new chalk line reel, and lots of grumpiness and "I can't do this!" declarations (mostly from me) as we worked late into Sunday night, but we managed to escape largely unscathed. Being the newbie fixer-uppers that we are, we were clueless as to just how involved laying cement backer board would be and Kevin now thinks that the backer board folks are in cahoots with the screw manufacturers! (We counted 49 screws per a full panel.) But, it looks pretty good so far. We have a little more taping and mortaring to do this evening and then we can lay the actual tile!!

Pretty professional looking, no? Check out the new drywall under the window...we did that too!
I have to admit, even though this experience was pretty overwhelming at times, I'm still really encouraged and looking forward to laying the tile ourselves. It's amazing the perspective you get with a day of rest. We've also put a deposit down on a couple slabs of beautiful granite for the countertops. Man, I can't wait to see it all come together. Mostly, I can't wait to show it off!

Let's be frank for a moment, I'm new to this whole design and decor game. Living in apartments and rented houses for the last decade, I never got the sense that my living space was actually mine. And who wants to sink a bunch of money into decorating a place you might not even be living in next year? So, I slogged along with bare white walls and left over college dorm decor (purple butterfly tapestries are still hot, right?) and never really got my feet wet with fabrics and color combination and style.

Now that we own a house I find myself wanting it to be as awesome as possible, which means I've been doing a lot of research on how to whip it into shape! During said research, I noticed that designers use these handy little things called mood boards to create a color scheme and an overall, well, mood for a room. (Yes, mood boards = new to me. As I said, I've been living in an undecorated cave for the last 10 years.) But how can I get my hands on the expensive design software to make mood boards of my own? Turns out, no need. has a make-your-own-mood-board design tool. And that, my friends is what I've been playing with for the last several days. (When I'm not working and sanding kitchen walls, of course.) Here's a little color combo sampler for the kitchen.

Clockwise from left: Wall color Valspar Sag Harbor (as close a match as I could find); Back splash tile; Granite countertops (hopefully); Floor tile Canyon Slate Ceramic tile; Center: Natural Cherry cabinets

It's a pretty awesome and free tool. While I searched for and uploaded these on my own, the site also lets you choose from photos from their sponsor shops. I'm also playing around with these colors for the master bedroom.

Gotta love those never ending projects!

Well, I suppose we shall find out together, won't we? Since we're well into our first major remodeling project on our house, I thought a blog would be a great way to document the process and reveal what can only be the most glorious outcome of all time. Besides, I'm a sucker for some good Before and After photos!! (Who isn't?)

When we first looked at our little brick rancher I was, shall we say, somewhat hesitant to consider it as a real contender. The house itself has great bones, tons of windows, lots of closets and storage space, a very pretty finished basement and a decent sized yard (not too much to deter the hubby from ever mowing and not so little that we're living on a postage stamp). What I'm saying is, it's cute--a perfect first home! Here are some photos our amazing real estate agent, Lynn, took for us just to give you an idea.

Miss Lynn took these once our offer had been accepted back in October 2009. We've changed a few things in the front, including 86ing those random shrubs in favor of perennial flower beds and digging out a walkway from the driveway to the porch, to give it a little more curb appeal. A way-in-the-future project is a bigger front porch. (We LOVE front porches!!)

The bright living room with the yummy recessed lighting was certainly plus! And just look at those hardwood floors!!! Wait, what's that you say?? It's laminate? Yep, what looks like gorgeous wood flooring is actually some high-quality laminate. We love it because it looks like the real thing, but we can be a little rougher with it and not worry about those darn scratches!

The huge finished basement was pretty much what sold the house (especially for Kevin). The windows let in tons of daylight and we could just picture the perfect little wet bar right over there in the corner. Plus, at 2000 sq. ft (total up & down), well, there just wasn't that much house in our price range anywhere else. So, why would one hesitate when all systems seem go? Well...

Oh yeah, check out that kitchen, folks! Pink wall tile, pink and white curling linoleum floors, a tiny row of cabinets with drawers that don't fully open unless the stove door is open...I mean, what's not to love? So yes, as someone who loves to cook, this was far from the gourmet kitchen of my dreams. However, my woodworker father-in-law assured us that he had some friends in high places in the cabinet world and most of the destruction and assembly work could be done ourselves with his expert assistance. And so, with that condition firmly in place, we purchased our first home, cruddy kitchen and all. The remodel is under way, the folks at Lowes and Home Depot are becoming our BFFs, and we're adding skills to our home owners resume daily! Stay tuned...