Thursday, December 31, 2009

Saying Sayonara to 2009

Well, that's it for 2009. DC Rowhouse took a wild ride, and came out a little better in the end I think.

We started things right by refinancing and saving $400 per month! Where is that money going? I have no idea! But, paying the mortgage sure is a lot nicer each month.

Then, it seems it took from March to October to get the kitchen done. Yikes! Well, it was worth it. Lots of planning and maybe 6 weeks of actual physical work to get the kitchen from drab to fab. Not too shabby.

Since we haven't been working on too many projects since the kitchen drained us of funds, it's time to look forward to all that will be in 2010.

Cheers to you all! Happy New Year! See you for more projects in 2010!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

When contractors steal

I can imagine being a contractor is hard. Coordinating with all types of moving parts and people can be a hassle. But, it's never an excuse to steal someones deposit and vanish.

Check out Bunny's story here.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Get Ready to Rumble

If you're like me, you don't have that much space to store tools. The big pieces get put into the storage area under the stairs and then I keep a basket handy of handy tools, like a hammer, measuring tape, an allen wrench set, and one of those flip around screw drivers. Its convenient and those are the things I use most often anyway.

A week of two ago, I bought a console table at IKEA (which I love and will give it's own post soon when we finally finish putting the dining/living are together). I pride myself on putting IKEA furniture together. That might not be something people want to put down on their "plus" list, but I am good at it. Do I need written instructions? No sir, I do not. Hand my that paper with the little guy pointing to things and I'm good to go. Sure the pieces are labeled only by their serial number. No problemo. In fact, I would do it for fun. Now, this particular piece needed a socket wrench, which I had. But, man, those are little pains in the behind, huh? Maybe it's just me, but jamming those little pieces back in the box always take a little more muscle than it should.

When some good folks offered to send me the Black and Decker Ready Wrench, I was thrilled. It's more substantial than it looks and has 16 of the most common sizes. It makes a great addition to my handy tool set, as it takes up little space. Certainly, for city living folks like me the Ready Wrench is a great buy at $29.99. And, you can pick it up at your local Target. Looking for a gift? Give this a spin, I'm sure they'll love it. It's pretty fun to spin the ends around too. Not like I used it to pretend I was twirling a baton or anything. . .

*I was sent this product free of charge, however I was not paid for writing a review. This review was written in my own words.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

December's Lonny

Lonny mag is back with a new issue! Enoy all the eye candy here.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Housed dressed for the Holidays

The wreaths are up and in action! In one week it turned from a balmy 65 degrees when I was hanging them to snowy and bitter outside to enjoy them. Turned out to work in my favor.

I ended up not getting a Christmas tree for inside. For many reason (the biggest one is we have no room for it!) it just wouldn't work for us this year. Speaking of years. . . this one's almost over! While we have a few more small projects for 2009, the list for 2010 is building!

So, what do we have on tap? Well, DC Rowhouse will move up to the upper level for some quick upgrades. The closet doors need some work, the walls need paint, and the bathrooms are due for an upgrade. The bathrooms are the biggest pickle. While I'd like to take it down to the studs and add some skylights, I'm just not sure it's in the budget. If not, we'll add some new lesser expensive upgrades to give them both the face lift they deserve. In fact, I already have the chandelier for my bathroom waiting. Chandelier? With ceilings over 9 feet, I figured nothing would be better than a crystal chandelier for my bathroom.

With only a short time left in 2009, it's time to make some serious plans for the upstairs. But, like most of my renovation plans . . . they're bound to change.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Wreath Success!

I successfully purchased 6 wreaths on Black Friday to fill every window in the front of the house. I have been obsessed with being able to do this for years. But, I couldn't justify spending $120 on wreaths. Now, for less than $50, I was able to accomplish that very small decorating dream.

It took until Sunday to hang them. By then, it was 65 degrees. While hanging fresh green wreaths in a tank top didn't get me in the holiday spirit, watching my house transform into a glowing beacon of Christmas sure did! Now, we can sit in the living room with the two wreaths in view...and no needles to clean up. Oh the joy!

I've been trying to get a photo, but this whole dark and rainy thing has been messing with me...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Dewalt Impact Driver

I received this kit in the beginning of October to test out. Yes, by received I mean they gave it to me. Still reading? Or are you so jealous you are smashing your fits on the desk. Still here? Great. Don't worry, my Dad feels the same way. He tries to work into every conversation I have with him that I should give it to him to test out . . . because like, he gave me life and stuff. Whatever, we're talking DeWalt here. No dice. Though I admit, it took me a little time to figure out how to put this puppy to the test. I mean, what does a homeowner really need to use an impact driver for? I was wrong, there are lots of stuff.

The first test was trying to take the disgusting blind out of the kitchen window. I couldn't get the screw out with a regular screw driver (too tight) and the angle was too much for my cordless drill. I knew now I could finally use the impact driver. New tool kits are like Christmas morning and I ripped it open as such. From the beginning, I have to say the tools and accessories are packed really nicely. The cases are built tough and unlike the other drill and accessories I had, the cases do not have a snap closure, they either slide to lock or use a latch system.

Along with the kit, I received the Impact Ready accessories. What I was most excited about was the magnetic pivot bit holder. So I set the pieces together to tackle the old blind. It worked effortlessly and the driver has a small flashlight at the end so it illuminates what you are working on. I don't know about you, but guessing on where the screw is, it a huge annoyance. I didn't notice the light before, but when it started working, it was a great feature.

My next turn with the impact driver was removing and adding baseboards (more on that later). The studs in the house are metal, and the baseboards were screwed into the studs. Impact driver to the rescue! Like waving a magic wand, it made short work of the tough screws. The impact ready accessories are also built for, well, impact. The drill bits are apparently 5x stronger than a standard bit.

Next up, figuring out how I can use those hole saws. You know you like something when you make up projects to use it with.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

On the House: Purdy your place WINNER!!

Congratulations KATY! You won! E-mail me at to claim your prize!

Thank you to everyone who participated! Check back for more upcoming giveaways to come.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Black Friday

I love shopping. I love shopping for my house more. Now, I've done the whole wake up at 3am and run out to the stores on Black Friday thing. It's nuts. There is the constant feeling of impending doom (like, from being trampled), and you're so tired and cranky by the end the whole day is ruined.

This year, I am after a certain item. The wreaths from Lowe's. They are having the 23" wreaths marked down to $7.97! Which means, I can fulfill my dream of a wreath in every front window and the door (six in all) for under $50! I know. . . i dream big.

They also have Christmas trees for under $20. Here, I face a dilemma. I love me a Christmas tree, don't get me wrong. But, there is something about this beautiful tree that has grown for so many years (sometimes decades!) that is chopped down and then thrown out a few weeks later. Am I alone in this? The trees are farmed, and really what's the real difference in having a Christmas tree and eating broccoli (that was alive too). So, I'm on the fence.

Want to see more of the Lowe's ad? It's up on their site.

Don't forget to sign up for the Purdy giveaway! It ends today!

Monday, November 16, 2009

On the House: Purdy your place

It just so happened Sherwin Williams contacted me about reviewing Purdy products a week or so before we were to paint the kitchen. They even agreed to sweeten the deal by throwing in a pack for my beloved readers!

What can I say about the Purdy brush and roller? While I'm not a painting tools connoisseur, they seems A-OK to me. Easy to use, and easy to clean. What more can you ask for? Oh, one of your own to try? Sure thing! Just leave a comment by Wednesday November 18th, at 5pm EST with the words "Make me Purdy". I'll choose a winner using and announce it on the morning of Thursday November 19th.

Good Luck!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Look a likes

I just came back from a work conference in Boston (which explains the lack of posts), and one evening I strolled Newbury street stopping in the fabulous shops along the way. I stumbled across Jonathan Adler's shop (he has a shop? Oh yes hunny, he does). Most of it was way too modern for my house, and it was all way too expensive, but I loved every minute of being in that store.

My favorite item was the bronze place card holders. In the store (as online) the held cards with the names of Brangelina's kids. It made me giggle and loved them even more for it. Alas, their price of $28 smackaroos a piece made them stay in the store.

When I got back home to DC Rowhouse, a pile of Holiday catalogues awaited me. I spotted something familiar:

It seems West Elm has taken a liking to the bronze modern animals as well. These bookends run $26 bucks a piece. Of course, I want them all but I'm not quite sure DC Rowhouse is the right habitat...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Souk Review

We made it to Souk this weekend. . . well, twice. The first attempt was on Friday and my hunger pains and the huge line made us head to the Argonaut instead for a burger. On Saturday, we made it in. I have to say, with the small space they have, the folks at Souk really made it shine. The colorful walls and tile really add a lot to the space and the overall simple and clean decor make it a welcoming place. At this point, I am into any renovation, and this little commercial rowhouse was done very well.

Now, the food. The deal here is that you order at the counter, and you take a number to your table. When the food is ready, they bring it to you at your table. You help yourself to the silverware and glasses, but they clear your table for you. Real plates, and real silverware were a welcome sight. I always think about all the trash when places use disposable dinnerware.

Sidetrack: have you see the show "18 and counting..." with the Duggars? They have 18 kids and they use paper plates and utensils at every meal! Yikes!

I was pleasantly surprised they delivered the order in the appropriate courses. Hummus came out first, followed by the Lebanese salad, then the chicken shawarma and lamb chops. The hummus was delicious, the salad was great (though I assume the beets were from a can - but seriously, who cares they have a tiny tiny kitchen), and the entrees were good (though a little overdone and came with different sides than advertised). All in all, it was their first week, they did fantastic! One of the women working there came over after we had finished to ask if everything went well - that's always a nice touch. Oh, and the prices are great! Where in the city can you get an salad (enough for two people) with arugula, beets, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds for $6? Nowhere.

We decided after our meal we will probably be eating there twice a week. Unless the line is too long, I expect this place to do a killing!

Souk is located at 1208 H Street NE.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Urban Turf

Urban Turf wrote a piece on's up today! Check it out here.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

H Street Development

I'm obsessed with the development on H Street NE here in the District. When we moved to DC in 2006, we never went there. In 2007 a friend of ours asked us to join him at Granville Moore's. We cautiously agreed and were stunned when we got there. Awesome beer, cool rustic (and fun for renovators) interior, and amazing food. It reminded us of Brooklyn. . . and we were happy. Even better, it doesn't take too much effort to walk/bike here from our house. What we didn't know was that the street was about to take off. Since 2007 the H street corridor has really started to blossom, and it seems there is more amazingness to come. Below is a list of all the places that have come in (according to my knowledge) since 2007ish, and those bolded are yet to open. Check out the map for more detail.

** I know the map is really small, go ahead an double-click to make it. . .readable.

1. Napa 1015 (1015) **though it just closed.
2. Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar (1104)
3. Taylor’s Gourmet (1116)
4. Souk (1208)
5. Palace of Wonders (1212)
6. Red and the Black (?)
7. Sticky Rice (1224)
8. The Pug (1234)
9. Martini Lounge (1236)
10. Dr. Granville Moore (1238)
11. Toki Underground (above the pug at 1234)
12. H Street Country Club (1335)
13. Dangerously Delicious Pies (1339)
14. Stars & Shamrocks (1341)
15. Rock and Roll Hotel (1353)
16. German Beer House (1355)
17. Sova Espresso & Wine Bar (1359)
18. Pizza Place (formerly Sun and Moon grocery)
19. Vendetta (1352)
20. Joe’s Coal and Ice House (1358)
21. Tonic (formerly old ohio) (1380)
22. Argonaut (1433)
23. A brick oven pizza place? (1016)

At the other End of H street:
· Ethiopian restaurant: 401
· Sidamo: 417
Other tidbits: Liquid (a bar?) at 914 and Drew (a bar/restaurant?) coming on the 1200 block.
As with every developing neighborhood there are always rumors of things to come. Did I miss anything? Have you heard there is more coming to this happening street?
Looks like Souk may have opened! I'll be there!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

How not to throw away trash in DC

So, we have new neighbors. I'm not sure where they are from . . . but we in DC recycle . . . neatly.

For more information on trash/recycling in the District go here.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Sweet Tweets

Go ahead, follow me on twitter! Go Here.

Friday, October 16, 2009

The Kitchen Conundrum: That which I would not have done again

Now that the kitchen is done and I look back at the process, I have to admit...I messed some stuff up. Here's my list of offenders:

- I would have chosen white grout. I know, it looks great with the gray, but it also shows every little imperfection.

- I would not have planned a vacation on the idea things would have been completed. It made the vacation not as relaxing and coming back home was no picnic either.

- I would have put a note in the contract that the workers needed to arrive on consecutive days. They was a lot of 3 days weeks which made things drag out longer.

- I would have packed up the kitchen and organized the house better before we began. I'm still unpacking and arranging and dealing with stuff. It stinks. I should have been more organized.

- I would have hired painters. Yeah, I know this saved us a lot of dough - but it also cost us a lot of time. Oh, and I'm lazy. When I am home from work, the only thing I want to worry about getting on the couch is crumbs, not paint.

I'm sure I could go on . . . I'm sure in 6 months I'll have a whole other lot of regrets.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Kitchen Kaboodle

So now that you've seen the final product, I bet you thought, "hey what did that cost?". Well, you're about to find out.

Here's the breakdown for you:

- Cabinets from IKEA: $2600
- Granite Counter: $1850
- Appliances: $4876
- Cabinet Hardware: $372.24
- Sink: $278
- Lighting: $289.65
- Disposal: $319
- Faucet: $300.45
- Tall china cabinets: $313.95
- Tiles: $198.73
- Crown molding: $28.56
- Floors: $1940

Total: $12,964

I told you it would be shocking! How did we do it so cheap? Simply: we did a lot of the labor ourselves. We saved over 1k by just doing the demo ourselves - and we also saved the environment a little by carefully removing our cabinets and donating them instead of throwing them in a dumpster. I did all the general contracting and design work myself (though many people questioned the open shelf!). We painted ourselves, and we bought all the materials ourselves (which means we were not paying an extra cost on them).

But, we did pay someone to do most of the labor for us. I didn't include it in the budget (except for with the floors), because everything they did - we could have done. So technically, we could have only spent money on the materials. Well, we couldn't have moved the gas lines ourselves, but that cost $387, so it certainly did not break the bank. So, why didn't we just do all the labor? Well, we wanted the kitchen done in the century. . . so it just made more sense.

I also did my research on the materials. The cabinets were from IKEA so they certainly saved us a bundle, and they seem to be every bit as good as the white cabinets we looked at from Lowe's and Home Depot. The granite was a super steal, and the installation job (included in the price) was amazing by the way. We got the tile from Lowe's and it was really cheap. We even have 200+ tiles left so that estimate is really high. I scored when the china cabinets went on sale in the summer for 50% off!! So I got two for the price of one. It did mean showing up at IKEA with a herd of people and running to get them, but it was a thrill. I added the casters myself (about $5 a piece) and turned them into the rolling storage I wanted.

I also splurged on items that wouldn't break the bank but would add a lot. I bought really expensive cabinet hardware from Restoration Hardware. I could have got the hardware for a fraction of the price, but in the end, it didn't add that much to the budget and it makes a big different. I also purchased the best garbage disposal. I could have spent $99, but for a little more, I got a lot more bang for my buck.

Tune in tomorrow for a reflection of the kitchen and *gasp* things I would have changed!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Kitchen Resources

We went from this:

to this:

It may look snazzy, but where did all that stuff come from and who did the work?


Floors: DC Floors. These guys were great! I would absolutely use them again.

Gas line plumbing: Grayton Plumbing. They did good work, didn't mind my questions (or hovering), and were neat and tidy!

Kitchen demo: yours truly. Now that I've done it there is no way I would hire someone to do it for me.

Kitchen cabinets, tile, light plumbing and electrical: Tritsch contracting (e-mail Allen at: I met Allen at IKEA while working through the kitchen planning process. They were professional, timely, and efficient. Oh, and pretty much a bargain. While your not going to get museum quality work, these guys are great, and they were really easy to work with.

The Stuff:

Cabinets: IKEA

Sink, faucet, garbage disposal and tile: Lowe's

Large china cabinets: IKEA

Wooden crates on shelf: World Market

Glass pedestal bowl: Crate and Barrel

Baskets above cabinets: Target

Cabinet Hardware: Restoration Hardware

Appliances: Sears (Kenmore)

Anything else you wanna know? Go ahead and ask.

Tomorrow? The budget breakdown. How much did this puppy cost? You'll find out. Brace yourself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Kitchen Reveal

Welcome to kitchen week!

Finally! Here are some (somewhat grainy) photos! We painted the walls this weekend and I purchased the final items for the finishing touches. So here it is. . . enjoy!

Stay tuned tomorrow for the resource guide!

Friday, October 9, 2009

If I had an impact driver. . .I'd use my impact driver all over this town.

Oh wait. I do!

I received this DeWalt combo kit today. I can't wait to use it this weekend! Stay tuned for my review as well as lots of updates on other projects.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Up and Running

Problems solved.

Technical difficulty

As you can see there is a problem with the blog. I'm working on it. Stand by.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Fire it up

The fireplace has been an ongoing project. It required many steps to complete (er, soon to complete), including re-framing, electrical work, floor repair, and most recently, a new granite piece and paint.

Here's were we started on move in day:

It's hard to tell from this picture, but the sides are angled. Let's talk about that pink tile. Whoa mama! Then, the double sided tape and clear plastic covering the firebox. She's a beauty!

So, the destruction and rebuild began:

The tiles were stripped and the box was straightened out and brought up to the ceiling:

In order not to waste space, we added some bookshelves on each side:

And, added a nice mantle:

I originally wanted to put down some marble tiles to save money, but it never seemed to come together quite right:

So, when we filled in the hardwood on the sides, we added a nice piece of granite:

This weekend, we finally got to putting the finishing coats on the shelves and the mantle. Next up. . . the walls and full reveal!

Back to Work . . .

We've started tackling the punchlist of incomplete things in order to get the house in ship shape. This weekend we painted the crown molding and shelves in the kitchen:

I had grand plans to paint the whole kitchen this weekend, but when we started doing it there were too many steps that needed time to dry and set. So, hopefully next weekend we'll be able to paint the ceiling and walls and show the the whole complete kitchen. I have to say though, it's really awesome. I love it more and more everyday.

While I waited for the kitchen paint to dry, I got to work fixing the side of the stairs (though there is more work to be done). This area has been nothing short of a nightmare. We had the hardwood upstairs and the stairs done in April of 2008. So... 18 months ago. I have had no less than 6 people look at the side of the stairway to let me know what they could do. Out of those 6, 5 had no idea. One amazing contractor took the time to show me how to make it look better, and then proceeded to mention I could do it myself to save some money. Those are the kinda people I like. But, then again, this project was a huge pain and I can see why no one has wanted to take it on. I've been working on it for a while now. It's getting there...

Friday, October 2, 2009

Dose of Design

I google stuff all day long. I'll be working away and something and an idea pops in my head. . .straight to google. After a search for an obscure woven garden stool I stumbled up Dose of Design. Lots of great decor finds there. So, if your so inclined, pop on over to check it out yourself!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

What, or rather Whoooo is in for fall

Owls seem to be everywhere this fall season. From the department store to your door, here are some ways to bring this trend into your fall decor.

If you want to keep it close, here are a few owls you can wear:

Coach has this cute owl keyfob ($38)

Kate spade has a snazzy owl coin purse ($125), and a cool purse ($425):Marc Jacobs has a great owl pendant for fall ($98):

But, what's in it for home decor?

Go Big:

This guy will surely add some interest to your entry way (, $95):

Or, add this table lamp to your space (

Just for fun:

Add some whimsy with these sheets from potterybarn kids ($14+):

It's easy to get hooked by this owl pillow (Orvis, $49):

Small and Simple:

Grab a ceramic white owl pitcher from urban outfitters for $18. Drop $28 at Anthropologie for the cutest sake pot you have ever seen.

Injuries Obtained

  • Sprained Toe/Foot: 1
  • Blood Blisters: 2
  • Splinters under fingernail: 1
  • Bird Shit on me: 1
  • Eye Injuries: 3
  • Burns: 0
  • Falls off ladder: 0 (this is because we don't have a ladder yet)
  • Headaches: too many to itemize
  • Broken Bones: 0
  • Bandages Needed: 5
  • Electric Shocks: 2
  • Stiches: 0
  • Bruises: way too many