Friday, January 29, 2016

So have you been thinking about buying one of those electric fireplaces that you plug into the wall? Basically they are just space heaters with a really pretty mantel wrapped around them. Since I am extremely cold-blooded and South Carolina winters actually get down to 30 degrees sometimes, I decided that I needed one of these STAT.
 I ordered this one from - and no I am not getting paid to review this, as you will see. ;)
First, I bought the clearance model that had "slight defects" so I could save $300. That is fine but just be warned -- it's more than slight defects. We had to strong arm the steel brackets to bend them into the right configuration and we will definitely need to apply some heat-resistant white paint to the back of the glass since it was wearing off big time. I think this was an item that was returned to the company, and they re-sold it on "clearance" -- beware.
But if two engineers cannot make this work than we are in serious trouble right? We got it working.
But THEN...
I didn't know that this was a BACKLIT LED FIREPLACE and the colors automatically rotate? BEHOLD!

OMG Y'ALL! You can change the color of the flames AND the back-lit part.  We are laying here playing with the remote control, it's like Christmas!!! (Ignore the stupid cord hanging down -- PC is going to move my outlet up the wall so that you can't see the cord.)

God bless Chinese manufacturing and all this LED stuff that is everywhere now -- we were sitting here completely mesmerized (kids too! ha), and I'm totally warm and toasty. I recommend this fireplace just for the novelty. My parents bought one of the more traditional looking ones :
and my mom loves it. We both put ours in the bedrooms because that's where we wanted the extra heat at night.

So order yours you won't be sorry -- as long as you don't order anything off the clearance section. If you do, just know that you're getting something more screwed up than the website is going to tell you, and you'll just have to MacGuyver a solution.

XOXO hope you all are warm right now!!! :)

Posted by Katy On 9:16 PM 5 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Back when I spent 3 years collecting fabric and art for the Tybee cottage, I got a little carried away. Because that dream didn't end the way that I'd hoped, a lot of that fabric was never used and I still have it in a bag in my closet. *sad face* I will probably list it on Craigslist someday.

Fruit Doves wallpaper - Palau

yellow counter stools

I'm trying really hard not to get carried away with hoarding curating too many things for this house, in case something happens and we have to sell it. (I am seriously spooked).

But I've already ordered too many fabric samples, alas. I can't resist the siren call of fabric samples. Or paint decks. Or iron beds. (I already bought another rusty one off Craigslist, it's sitting in a pile in the garage.)
My new fan decks + my old bag of Pantone chips. So that when Pantone disappears I will still have them ALL!

And now because we are renovating the master bedroom first (totally not on purpose but whatever), I ordered this fireplace:

Oh yes! I did!

So here is a new discovery about myself, and maybe this holds true for others? I never thought that I liked modern or contemporary design. This is because 15 years ago, I was buying the "cottage decorating magazines" because they were the only publications that showcased the things that I love: bright colors, and lots of white. Back then, we were in the "Tuscan Brown Trend" and everybody was decorating with beige, gold, and sage. It was a hard time, decoratively speaking. ;)
Quick & Easy Decorating circa 2001 -- this was my magazine, yo!!!

We are totally past that trend now (thank God), because now suddenly I can buy fabric and textiles and ceramics in colors that I like! Manufacturers are no longer pumping out everything in earth tones. (The downside is that when everyone gets tired of this trend and moves on, I will once again be making all my own crap. lol)

The result of those years of color-poverty, though, was that I believed that my favorite style must be "cottage" or "retro". That is because it was the only style where you could go wild with bright color. At least in my plebian world, it seemed that way. Did anyone else have the feeling that in order to be a grown-up, you had to have a brown couch and beige walls??  (back in 2000-2005?)

I approached the Tybee cottage from the viewpoint that I had "permission" to go wild with color because it was at the beach, and I was using retro plumbing fixtures and other assorted reclaimed items.

And I still LOVE vintage plumbing and anything pre-war, really.

But... it turns out I like contemporary too, as long as the color balance is there and it still feels comfortable (to me).   I think this is a two-fold personal discovery:

#1.) Your Sweet Spot is already there inside you, and the clues are when you are 23 and painting your first kitchen the brightest yellow you can find at the paint store, and repainting your baby's nursery every three months because you JUST. NEED. ALL THE COLORS (apple green! then yellow! then lavender! then sell the house! lather rinse repeat!!)  But this can translate in many different ways - you don't have to pigeon hole yourself -

#2.) always be brave and try the new thing. And when you try that new thing (like contemporary design), don't be afraid to do it your way. Not the way the magazines do it. Not the way everybody else interprets it. But the way you see it.
one of my first boards for the beach shack, before reality forced me to simplify. ha

Maybe all of this only comes with age and experience? And I am just sooo behind the 8 ball. ! I feel like everybody else figures this stuff out so much faster than I do, but it helps me when I'm talking to my kids about what they want .. 

I can relax because I don't have to find activities for my kids, they just naturally gravitate to their talents! Amazing!  (seriously it was like I discovered the atom or something, when I realized this.)

Happy Thursday, all of you talented and BRAVE people out there. :)

Posted by Katy On 11:30 AM 2 comments READ FULL POST

Monday, January 25, 2016

From now on I'm not going to announce what I'm posting next. I've always been a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kinda girl, and when I try to act organized it messes with my mojo. Last time I said something about solariums and High Point, and yes to all of that - but first:
What happened is that we've made a ton of progress closing up the master bedroom "loft". That super weird window on the right hand side? I had to put that there so I didn't lose all the light and views upstairs. :/  I've got to work with it like this, and because it's not centered over the kitchen opening it is driving me CRAZY.
So why the window off center? Because the best view is in the corner and because this wall is going to be floor to ceiling built in closets.
The floorplan is weird but I'm doing my best to fix it and make it look like it was all designed this way on purpose.
Here is one of the ServePro pictures of this room, back when the previous owner lived here and it was flooded from a broken pipe:

do you see all the little computer screen thingies??

There are cameras in every corner of this house... this dude was weird. Not sure if it was paranoia issues? Or if he was a drug lord?
and in other news, we actually have some furniture now. I'm beyond excited... just picture these chairs covered in a pretty fabric someday! ha! (after my 4 kids grow out of chimpanzee stage!!) oh and a different lampshade. and I found that mirror in the house. LOL -- baby steps. I'm just thrilled we have somewhere to sit and eat now! I found this at a local consignment shop. Brand new, half price from the manufacturer, just because it had a few imperfections. That nobody can see. :)

Posted by Katy On 11:40 AM 4 comments READ FULL POST

Monday, January 11, 2016

I framed out the big holes. and then Prince Charming convinced me to help him with a wild scheme of drywall and clamps and "I hope this doesn't fall 20 feet onto the living room and smash my only remaining decent lamp and wreck the floors" -- I think I only screamed one time, while hanging from a rope:
this was the second stage, after we rigged up a pulley system using the largest clamps we had and the rope, and we heaved this 150-lb rig up into the hole and then b a l a n c e d it on the edge while trying to drive screws through the sheet metal studs. Did I mention that we were both once mechanical engineers, but we come up with MacGyver crap and then fight over the laws of physics?

I think i might have screamed something about this being the stupidest idea ever.

But it's in there. one down, two to go.

the last couple of months have taught me a lot more about courage. I thought I had that subject down pat, you know. Didn't think I needed anymore lessons.

But there's more. sigh. I may have been under the impression that courage is only required when facing monsters and terrible circumstances....but there's that other kind of courage.... the kind where you're totally honest and not hiding anything. There's a difference between being a perennially negative person and just once in a while...needing to get something important out in the open before it eats you alive.

What does this have to do with drywall? I don't know. But Prince Charming and I didn't have a fight over this, and he says this was a very good sign for our future. ;) 

Next up - dissecting a house that is too big, an indoor greenhouse, and I'm planning a trip to High Point NC! :)
Posted by Katy On 8:24 PM 2 comments READ FULL POST

Monday, November 9, 2015

I will skip over the horror of "before" pictures on this one, because I feel like we've all seen a gazillion of them and this is the only thing we care about, right? Just imagine that this screened porch/balcony was once home to a lot of wasps and cigarette butts. We had to rent a hole saw and drill through 8" of brick to put in a drain just so I could hose it off and paint. :/ But voila!

Then I had to quickly repaint the powder room because it was nasty and we were having people over, but that is boring and since I still haven't busted up the ugly tile floor, I will wait to post pictures on that one.

I was beginning to despair over how long it took to make progress but...
this is what it takes just to replace 4 broken-down ceiling fans. :/  I do NOT LOVE this because I am terrified of heights.

Now. let me explain that this monster house has an insane amount of square footage, but it is missing these things: a decent sized laundry room, a linen closet, a designated office space, and the master bedroom is completely open to the rest of the house:
 The bulk of the square footage was taken up by the greatroom and a massive dining room that nobody besides the Vanderbilts would ever use:

The first thing we are doing is closing up the master bedroom (seriously the echoing in this house is horrific. I need painkillers to live here, but my doctor doesn't view this is as a medical problem. WHATEVER.)

Then I am closing up this dining room and making it into a home office/den/the-place-where-we-keep-the-massive-liquor-cabinet.

And I'm currently cooking the hinges from this buffet to get the paint off them. I am thinking of repainting this piece ivory:
Once upon a time this blog was about renovating entire rooms for, like, $37.  And building kitchen banquettes out of stuff from the dumpster. And trash pallets.

Unfortunately this house is going to require a level of crazy that I never saw myself embarking on -- but is that how expertise is built? You start out making crap out of trash and then you build a teensy beach house with prayers and and then -- WHAM! suddenly you're renovating a warehouse? (please say yes, that there is some reason behind all this, because otherwise I am just exploring a hobby that never yields any financial returns.)

Anyway Happy November and I hope it's not raining where you are :)   We've had a solid month of rain, starting with the flooding across the state of SC at the beginning of October, and there's been no end in sight!

Posted by Katy On 4:28 PM 8 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, August 13, 2015

This house was built in the 1990's, and the house plans were definitely tampered with.

The Previous Owner acted as his own general contractor. His version of "upgrade" was building the whole thing with steel, like a commercial building. He also did some odd things to the interior but today I'll stick with the outside shots. ;)  The inside is where the really crazy stuff is - don't want to get ahead of myself.

The basic architectural style is supposedly "neo eclectic" which means a mix of North American modern mansion + some (i think) mediterranean elements. (As far as I can tell. I am not an architect but I did some freelance CAD work for my architect who designed the Tybee house, and he taught me a lot.)  The exterior is not finished, though. And the railings are all wrong. and the color of the brick... Le sigh. (It is a very yellow beige, these pictures aren't doing it justice.)

Previous Owner also installed tons of cameras and everything was connected to his "control room" where he had a computer and could monitor all the cameras.

Ok so I'm getting ahead of myself now...

I've never lived in a house this size, or with this many issues. It's overwhelming to me because I'm not an organized sort of person. My first task is to come up with a to-do list (6 miles long) and then we have to put everything in order of priority.

So far I've had the plumber out here 5 times just so we have hot and cold water and all the toilets work.

I feel like all these (rotten and leaking) patio doors and windows will be next but... that's just a guess.

Looking at these photos, you can think "wow - looks cool!" - One of the big lessons I'm learning is that a mansion can hide gigantic problems, and fixing all the issues won't necessarily make this a good investment. Because even if you fix all the problems, you've still got the aesthetics to worry about, such as:

oh but there I am, getting ahead of myself again.

Whenever I start feeling overwhelmed, I try to focus on the view.

None of these are "real" problems, and thanks to the last 12 years I will never lose sight of that. This is a house blog, though, so money + time = possible gigantic waste of resources. And I am very good at analyzing all the potential disasters ;)

This is our local road warrior - we see him out and about quite a bit. Seems like he needs a name..

look at those forearms! I'm thinking King Koopa?

Posted by Katy On 4:09 PM 11 comments READ FULL POST

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Everywhere I look:

grout lines from hell... I cannot slide my chair across the kitchen floor.

Grout smeared across the painted trim. When I step on the special tiles, they rock under my feet to say hello. Sometimes I play hopscotch.

I like the geometric ways that they connect, different colors, angles, and then -- Wood!
But why?

the older tiles, the ones that were here in the beginning and saw things before the flood -
sometimes they crawl up the walls for no reason and then ... stop.

and they don't need to apologize. They didn't have any power in this. They are a testimony to cheap manufacturing and horrendous taste and maybe a man who had lots of money but refused to spend any of it on a professional.

The tile stretches down the hallways

like the snakes I catch outside

I am surrounded. Where will my help come from? I lift my eyes and ---

He says busting up the tile can't happen all at once because there are other priorities. Like leaking windows and doors.

I will get a jackhammer while he is at work.

Maybe he won't notice...
Posted by Katy On 9:07 AM 5 comments READ FULL POST

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I used to be a mechanical engineer and a single mom of 3. Suddenly I am now a married mom of 4 (9,10,11,& 13)! and I'm working full time on remodeling my latest gigantic project (lake house). I previously built a tiny house on Tybee Island that I sold in 2015. Stop by for the house stuff, stay for the panic attacks. (kidding. maybe. ha. ha....)

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