House needs: 2017 Update

We’ve been a little slower in making our house updates, but the last couple of pieces have had a big impact in our living room! We had an odyssey trying to set up our fireplace, but after a contractor and plumber visit to turn on the gas line, and incorrect gas logs shipped and returned, we finally have our fireplace set up with gas logs (donated from our next door neighbor) and our screen!

We also finally ordered shutters for the two windows and french door windows in our living room. I love the way they look – it “finishes” the room for me.6.5.17 Shutters 16.5.17 Shutters 26.5.17 Shutters 3

These two updates make last year’s house needs list look like this:

Dresser for Louise
Some kind of bookcase for the den
A mantle
Gas logs and a screen for the fireplace
A console for the den that doesn’t cover the vents but has storage
An updated piece of furniture for under the TV in the living room
A bench for our bedroom
A headboard for the guest bed (really a guest room makeover)
Update the garage

Not bad, I’d say! I have added to the list since then, of course:

Big-girl room update for Celine
Desk for Michael
Desk chair for Michael
Roman shades for the French doors in the master and guest bedrooms
Roman shade for window over the sink
Windows for the four big square ones
Shutters for the four big square ones
Solid-core doors


Louise’s big girl room update, part II

There were a few things we wanted to update in Louise’s room as of last fall, which were:

  • Put box springs under her mattress
  • Move our mirrored nightstands to her room
  • Get a couple of sheepskin rugs for the sides of her bed

I’m happy that we’ve completed everything except the nightstands! Moving those into her room is contingent on when I can find new nightstands for the master bedroom, and I’m not sure how long that’s going to take.img_6133img_6134

This room should work for her for a good while. I’m thinking the only other major thing we’ll do in 5-7 years is exchange the canopy for a desk.

Celine’s big girl room

We’ve completed Celine’s big girl room! For reference, here’s what it looked like before the transition:2-21-17-celine-nursery-12-21-17-celine-nursery-2

And here’s what it looks like after!img_6092img_6094img_6093

Bed: Wayfair
Bed bumper: Bed Buddy
Duvet cover: Libeco (gift from Grammy)
Canopy: Bed, Bath, & Beyond
Dresser: IKEA
Flower knobs: Land of Nod
Rug: West Elm (already had)
Tent: Gift from Michael’s aunt
Cushions in tent; stool: HomeGoods
Dresser lamp: Pottery Barn Kids
Curtains: Target (already had)

The only thing left is for me to finish stripping the bark from one of our stumps and paint part of it pink with chalk paint. I’m thinking that will serve as her nightstand, so we’ll have to get a light for it as well.

Celine loves her room and so do I!2-20-17-celine-in-bed2-20-17-celine-in-tent

Bedroom update

Although we haven’t done much to the bedroom lately (beyond wall decor, it’s pretty much complete), I promised a better photo of the updated room and haven’t given it yet. Here it is!

We were given lamps from Mike’s mom. At first we thought they were kind of weird, but they actually fit well with the decor of the room and the mirrored nightstands. The shade on the top is adjustable which is kind of cool.

Just to keep things in perspective, here’s what it used to look like:

Yeah. A slight improvement, wouldn’t you say?

Stealing art

That’s right, we stole a painting from Istanbul!!

Ok, not really…but we learned the best lesson about haggling: literally don’t carry that much money on you.

Mike and I were trying to find the Grand Bazaar on our last day in Istanbul (see previous post about kilims), and we stumbled across this TINY store on the street that had a few paintings sitting on the ground outside. Mike immediately took to one watercolor that was leaning against a pole, so we went inside to ask about the price. “140 lira,” the guy said. Then, almost immediately, the man said “but for you, I can go as low as 120 lira.” Sweet. Mike opened his wallet – we only had 62 lira. We said, no thanks, we don’t have that much. “Well we might be able to get to 90 lira?” the man countered, clearly eager to make a sale. We shook our heads – we’re sorry, we seriously don’t have that much on us right now. We’d have to come back. “How much do you have?” “75 lira,” Mike said – even though we clearly did not. The guy started faux-thinking about that offer with his head tilted. “Ok, we can do that, but we’ll have to take it out of the frame.” He started walking to the back of the store to take it out of the frame, and Mike quickly said, “actually, we only have 65 lira” (still not true). The guy paused, shifted his weight a couple of times, and then said, “ok. If it’s cash, then we can do it.” Mike and I were pumped – we had just inadvertently haggled the guy down to less than half of the original asking price. As the man was taking the painting out of the frame, the store’s owner appeared, realized what was going on, and was none too pleased. We obviously don’t speak Turkish, but we can recognize a pissed-off tone when we hear one, and this poor man was getting an earful. Since we only had 62 lira, we ended up giving them 2 American dollars as well just to make sure we were above 65 overall. We’re really happy with it – it’s a big thing at over 11″x14″, and we got it for $40!

I was scoping some other oil paintings in the store while Mike was finalizing the deal, and after we scored the rugs at the Grand Bazaar, we went back to buy two more – one really small painting that I couldn’t get out of my head, and one that I thought would be great for my parents. As I said in the last post, I am nowhere near the level of haggler that Mike is, so we got both of those for 120 lira ($75). I still think it was a good deal, as we got three great paintings for $115 total.

We still have to frame our two paintings which will invariably cost more than the paintings themselves, but it’s worth it. We’re proud of ourselves – it’s our first two pieces of art we bought on our own, and we love them!

Kilim Success

Mike and I just got back from an amazing trip to Athens, Santorini, and Istanbul. It was a perfect mix of ruins, relaxation and city-time. Bonus – we got things for our apartment!

One of our goals in Istanbul was to buy a kilim – which is essentially a flat rug. We read a lot about people who were ripped off by thinking they bought a silk/old/authentic Turkish rug, and we were a little nervous. However, we had one thing going for us: we didn’t care about any of those things. We didn’t want a silk rug – we wanted wool. We didn’t care if it was old or new…we’re not that fancy. And finally, we weren’t concerned with confirming that the rug was made by women in the Anatolian region of Turkey. To us, a rug was a rug was a rug, and if we thought the pattern was nice and it looked sturdy, we were good to go. We didn’t really set a price point for the rugs but we knew that we needed to haggle – something I’m terrible at (surprising since my job involves negotiating). Luckily, Mike is a genius when it comes to the Haggle (which I’ll talk about in the next post), so we set off to the Grand Bazaar on our last day in Istanbul.

We took a lap around the place and found a store that looked like it had a lot of the types of rugs we were interested in (specifically, we were not looking for Persian pile rugs – we wanted kilims). We sat down and they went through the typical sales routine that we read about. They offered us drinks, laid out rug after rug, and talked about how great each of them were. After about 20 minutes, we narrowed down the options to three rugs – a larger one that was new, a medium-sized one (maybe 3’x5′) that was semi-old (meaning less than 40 years old), and a semi-old runner. That’s when Mike got to work.

Initially we both thought we’d get two at the max, but as Mike started haggling, he quickly realized that haggling the price down for two would make buying all three even more of a steal. Once he threw the runner into the negotiations I had a minor panic attack, since the Turkish lira is about 1.5 times the value of the dollar and I thought we were spending way over our budget. But I calmed down, and ultimately was super pleased with the price and getting all three of the rugs.

The biggest kilim was one of the first ones they laid down, and Mike and I couldn’t get it out of our heads. It matched a lot of what we already have and we loved the pattern. (Don’t mind the kitten…he was trapped in prison, aka my parent’s house, while we were on our trip, and he needed a LOT of attention when we got back).

The medium-sized kilim was less traditional but we loved it too. When they would lay down each rug, we’d compare it to the one we currently thought we liked the most. None of the medium-sized kilims could top this one.

The runner looks most like a traditional rug, but it has some really interesting and intricate patterns, which we liked. They looked tribal and more “authentic” than most of the other runners, and it wasn’t too long. We knew we’d put it in the hallway leading to Mike’s office, which has a lot of darker reds and creams in it already, so this was really the only rug we knew would work in our apartment.

We don’t yet have a spot for the large or medium kilims, but we’re not worried. We’re obviously not staying in our apartment forever, and that might be the only time we’re going to be in Istanbul, so we wanted to get what we could while we were there.

Next up – the art we bought!

Quick bench update

I’ve been wanting a bench for the foot of our bed for a while, partly because it just looks better that way and partly so Mike and I have a place to sit to put on shoes and clothes. When Mike was in New Orleans visiting his family, his mom gave him a bench that she didn’t want anymore.

Definitely the wrong wood color and the upholstery wasn’t fantastic either, especially with the stain on the top:

But with my newfound DIY knowledge I knew I could fix it up for cheap, and quickly.

During lunch one day at work I popped by Best Fabrics to pick up new upholstery fabric. I was going for something that had turquoise in it since I wanted to match our nightstand knobs, and I also wanted whites/tans in the fabric as well. I came back with a pretty paisley print (all animals adore alliteration) in the colors I was seeking. I grabbed some primer and the staple gun from my parents, popped by Home Depot for a small can of white paint and extra staples, and got to work.

First, I primed the reddish-pink base.

Then, although I didn’t take any pictures, I reupholstered the top of the bench. The foam and batting were still in great condition, so all I really needed to do was take off the old fabric and throw mine on top. At first I thought I’d be able to just pull the staples out and take off the old fabric, but those staples proved to be pretty much immovable. So as a consolation, I cut around all of the staples, flipped the plywood over so that the stapled side was under the foam, and stapled my new fabric on top. I pulled the long sides really taut but should have pulled the short sides a little tighter. Oh well.

Then, I painted one coat of white paint on the primed base and put the upholstered top back on. Viola, a new bench!

Although neither Mike or I particularly love painted white furniture, this went well with the room since our bed linens are entirely white. We also like it white because the bench is a little shorter than we would have liked, so it blends in a lot better. And as an added bonus, Nietzsche likes to jump on it and meow, so it’s a win-win for everyone in the Haydel household.

Here’s a quick peek at what it looks like in the room – I realize the photo quality is terrible; I’ll give an overall bedroom update soon!

Oh, and don’t worry – even though my focus has shifted this year, I’m still cooking!