Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Colorful Gutter Bookshelves

Guess what?

We finished a whole room in the new house. As in, everything has an away place and we have actually put things up on the walls. It feels pretty good. 

Not surprisingly, we decided to fully finish Will's room first. We wanted him to be settled in first and so last weekend when he and Nate were off at a family reunion, I made a big push to finish his room. Today I'm going to share how I added a ton of book storage to his room.

My biggest complaint about this new house is the lack of useful storage. My second biggest complaint is that the entire house is painted this beige color and I'm not a fan. But, until we officially close I'm not painting and so I'm trying to be ok with the color and bring in some brighter colors in other ways. This brings us to the colorful bookshelves. They are made of gutters and are super easy to put together... but first a little backstory.

This is where the room started. Lots of beige, skinny baseboards and no window casing. 

The number one thing we did (before the rest of our stuff arrived) was to get black out curtains for the windows. Since AZ doesn't do the whole daylight savings thing, the sun comes up at 5:30 am right now and no one wants a 2 year old up that early. I got these curtains and the rod at Ikea for under $60 for everything and then I picked up a couple of tie backs in the clearance section of Lowe's. The only challenging part of install was that we didn't really have anything to stand on yet and so I pseudo balanced on our new Ikea chairs to screw everything in (with a regular screw driver... no drill). It was worth it though... these curtains make Will's room almost completely dark.

Next up was doing something with all the wall space. We put Will's bookshelf in the playroom so I really wanted a way to display all of his books and allow him access to some, but not all, of them. Our friend Desi mentioned the idea of gutter bookshelves and it seemed perfect for either side of the window. If you haven't see gutter bookshelves all over Pinterest, don't worry, I hadn't either until recently.... but apparently it's a thing. So this isn't a novel idea by far, but since I put these together before seeing the copious amount of examples on Pinterest, I thought I would share what I did since I did a few things really differently.

I started in the gutter isle in Lowe's. I initially wanted to do metal gutters but between the fact that this Lowe's was very poorly stocked on metal gutters and I was a little worried about the potential sharpness of the metal ones, I moved to a PVC option. The gutters themselves are cheaper than the metal ones (at just under $4 for 10' vs ~$10) but the end caps are much pricier (~$2.50/side vs $0.70/side). If you aren't doing many shelves then this isn't really an issue but I wanted to do 6 shelves so those end pieces added up quickly. You don't need the end caps but they provide a ton of stability so if you are putting things like books in them, it's a good idea. 

I ended up getting two 10' long gutters and a total 14 end caps (I made 6 shorter and 1 longer shelves). I brought everything home and used our new toy (a major upgrade since our old chop saw bit the bucket right before we moved) to cut the first gutter into 4 30" long section and the second into 2 30" and 1 60" section. I'm not a fan of cutting PVC but since this new chop saw is on rails, it made it super easy to cut the gutter all the way through with just one cut instead of two.

Most everyone seems to keep their gutter shelves white but I wasn't going to add more neutral to an already boring room so I brought the cut pieces and the end caps out back to spray paint them. I picked two colors, a dark blue and a teal which just happened to match our umbrella. I strung up a rope between the umbrella and our back fence and hung each gutter piece off of it. We've used this method a few times now for spray painting and it works really well. I only sprayed the sides of the gutter that would show (aka not the back) and even doing that we needed to go get a second can of the dark blue (the color we did 4 shelves with).

I initially painted the end caps flat on plastic and then once I assembled everything I sprayed the edges. The end caps literally just pop right on so once I did the finally spray I just let everything dry overnight and they were ready to hang.

I ended up using drywall screws to attach these to the wall. Each shelf got 5 screws which may seem like overkill but I wanted two to go into studs, two to go through the top corners so that the end caps were also secured to the wall (which adds a TON of stability) and then one to go near the base of the shelf so that it didn't wobble. I predrilled holes for the three that weren't going into studs, attached the shelf to the wall and then used our stud finder to find where I needed to put the final two screws.

Once I had one side up, the hardest thing was making sure that they shelves on the other side of the window were level with the first side. This we a little tricky and I ended up having to redo them three times before I got it right. The mistake I kept making was that the back of the shelf is a little lower than the front, which is slightly different than the top of the end cap. So if you are trying to do the same, measure to the top of the end cap... it's a lot easier than the other two.

I love how these came out. They are super sturdy and hold a ton of books. We were a little worried that they would bend under the weight of the books but they are very solid and only bend if you pull hard on the middle of the front. Even then, it won't damage the shelf at all.

Will can reach the books on the bottom shelve and so we put his board books on those. All the ripable books are on the higher shelves so that he has to ask to read one. He seems to love the independence of being able to get (and put away) his books and will point and ask for higher ones. Being able to see all the covers has been a real success in increasing his reading interest. Overall, these shelves are both a design and utility win and all in I spent just under $50 for all the shelves (including the long one).

I'll share the rest of the projects and his full room (including where the long shelf went) as the week goes on but first.. have you tried the gutter shelves? I'd love to see pictures of how yours turned out!

Monday, July 13, 2015

Before and After: Downstairs Bedrooms

Filtering through all our projects, even a few rooms at a time, is quite the task! It's definitely fun looking through the old projects though! Here are the downstairs bedrooms and the master bath before and afters

What we did:
What we miss:
  • The coziness of this room
  • Character
  • Shelving
  • Believe it or not... the carpet. We have laminate in our new bedroom and the dogs' nails on it is one of the worst sounds ever

What we did:
What we miss:
  • Vanity storage
  • Places to put shampoo, condition, etc in the shower that's not the floor

What we did:
What we miss:
  • Can I say everything? I loved this room and we're working to make Will's new room as comfy as this one. More specifically...
  • The murals
  • The laundry organization
  • The curtain... much harder to sneak peaks into Will's room now.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

4th of July Fun

I hope you all had a wonderful 4th! We had fun exploring Phoenix a bit. It was a bit overwhelming trying to narrow down what we could/wanted to do for the 4th since Phoenix has a TON of different activities/celebrations/fireworks displays. It was hard to know what's worth going to and what we should skip since we're so new to the area so we picked a few things nearby.

Butterfly Wonderland

We've gone to a few butterfly atriums over the years and it's always a great way to spend a couple of hours. We last went when Will was only a couple months old in Gainesville and he definitely enjoyed it a lot more this time around. He actually looked at the butterflies (although he called them airplanes) and smelled the flowers. There were also puddles to jump in and huge fish. It probably is the most humid place in Phoenix which was awesome for me and my never ending stint with bronchitis, but we were all a little overheated and sweaty after about an hour an a half. Luckily, there was also a really cool 3D movie about monarch migration and a few smaller exhibits inside.

In-N-Out Burger

We didn't grill but we got our burger fix at In-N-Out. We had never been before and it was surprisingly good. Nate even claimed that it is now his favorite fast food burger which is a pretty high mark to hit. Will was so funny with his little jug of milk. He acted like he was in a "Got Milk?" commercial for the entire time we were in the restaurant. 

Baseball in Surprise, AZ

After nap time, we headed west to Surprise, AZ where we got to see the Seattle Mariners play the Kansas City Royals. It was a free game with a can donation and we got seats in the shade. The game was also really good with a combo of really great plays with just enough errors to make it really interesting. After the game there were fireworks and despite asking for "booms" all day long, we only got about 5 fireworks in before Will was done and we headed out. Driving home we saw about 10 other displays go off from the car which was really impressive. 

The only fail of the weekend was trying to see the fireworks on the 3rd a little north of us. It wasn't really our scene and right before the fireworks were supposed to go off, a huge storm came in and the lightning was pretty intense so we headed out before we got poured on. We did get to see a huge cactus decked out in christmas lights though. We all were trying to figure out how someone got stuck with that job (pun intended). Overall, it was a great weekend exploring the city.

How did you celebrate the 4th?

Monday, June 29, 2015

Arizona House Living Room... Sort of

Today was my first day of residency and I did not reach the goal of getting everything unpacked. I got about 90% there on things I could unpack and we still have a bunch of boxes that we just don't have a place to put the contents. The biggest issue is that the Florida house had so many built-ins by the time we were done with it and the new house has nothing for shelving. It's a big beige box.

Above is the relator pic of the dining room/living room combo before we moved in and below is the real life chaos that is going on in the same space now. We are having a hard time with the amount of blank wall space combined with lack of shelving so for now, nothing is on the walls (except the TV). We have been going through different ideas for a couple of weeks and we think we have at least one wall figured out so hopefully things we'll be on the walls and out of boxes soon.

While we are trying to figure out the walls, we've also had a floor situation. We only kept a couple of rugs when we moved and one went in Will's room so we were left with the one from Will's playroom. I love this rug but it is too small and too beige for the living room. I never intended it for this space but with the hard tile we needed something for this spot until we found a new rug.

After checking Craigslist a million times in the last two weeks, I finally found a winner. I got an 8' x 10' barely used Pottery barn rug with a rug pad for $150 (woo hoo!). It makes such a huge difference and I hate the beige walls just a little bit less now.

The chairs are also new to this house. We got them after the second day of having nowhere in the house to sit while we waited for the truck to get here. They're from Ikea and so far I love them. They are deep and SUPER heavy so they don't move around. 

Small changes and a little progress at a time is how we're rolling right now.  

How do you unpack?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

The Beginning of the End: Living Spaces Before and Afters

We really loved our house in Florida and we're pretty sad that we had to leave it behind. I really felt like we grew in so many ways while we were in this house and really found our style. We thought we would be in this house forever so it really evolved into a space we were really comfortable. 

But, life goes on and it was time to leave and now it's time to take a step back and see how far this house came in the 4 years that we owned it. 

There is basically no way we can do all the before and after pictures of our Florida house in one post, so I'm going to break it into 5 chunks, starting with the living spaces. I can't really pick a favorite space in this house so these are in no particular order. I'm including what we did in each room (including things that we never shared here) as well as what we already miss.

Living Room

What we did:
What we miss:
  • Mantel/Fireplace
  • Character and the color!

Dining Room

What we did:
What we miss:

  • Chandelier (although we do have a new one in the design plans)
  • Cabinet for glass storage
  • Wood floors

Sun Room

What we did:
What we miss:

  • Shelving
  • All the natural light from those windows
  • French doors

What we did:
What we miss:

  • Play table and activity center
  • I miss the birds
It's a little crazy writing down what we did in each space. These are rooms that didn't get a ton of attention compared to the rest of the first floor and they still have quite the lists attached to them. It's also interesting (and a little scary) to see how my photography skills have changed over the years. Check out the links to see some real winners.

Up next will be the downstairs bedroom areas!

Monday, June 22, 2015

We Moved!

We've been MIA for a couple of weeks as we packed up everything we owned and moved across the country from FL to even hotter AZ! Here are a bunch of updates:

Nate did most of the actual driving of the move, driving one car out a couple of weeks ago and then driving a 26' truck (towing the other car) with the dogs out about a week ago. This was all so that Will didn't have to make the 32+ hour drive which I think everyone was very grateful for but I'm pretty sure he never wants to see another truck again.

I've basically been either packing or unpacking for a straight month now so I'm pretty sick of it, but the new place is coming together slowly. We'll start sharing pics of the new house once things settle a bit more. The goal is to have everything unpacked before I start my residency on Monday... wish me luck.

We're under contract on our FL house and should be settled on that in about a month so we'll also be sharing before and after pics and a final house tour soon. 

In case you aren't aware, it's really really hot in Phoenix so we dropped everything yesterday and headed up to Flagstaff to get some cooler weather. The scenery here is a lot different than what we are used to, so instead of sharing any more boring moving details, here are some awesome pics from our day trip!

It's not only hot but really sunny!

Luckily we haven't see any yet

Lowell Observatory

Pluto was discovered here!

Telescope used to discover Pluto

Getting to move the telescope

Pluto Dome

The pine trees smelled AMAZING!

We're loving the mountain views everywhere

SkyRide up to the top of AZ Snow Bowl

"SkyRide" = Chair lift

This enthusiasm lasted for half the ride

Will took a bunch of pictures in our attempt to keep him occupied


Did I mention I don't like heights??

Top of the Snow Bowl

Elevation 11,510 ft!

Will did not mind the height... at all

Will wanted to take a snowball home... he did not succeed 

Ski dreaming

Don't be fooled... it was a portapot 

Going back down was a lot scarier

Biggest white birch we've ever seen

Rt 66

Since no post is amazing without a before and after...

The chairlift was a little scary with Will but the whole day was totally worth the cool weather and amazing views! We're definitely heading back!