Tag / home improvement

The Flex Room’s Half-Way Point

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

The front living space we refer to as the “flex room” is gaining a little momentum!

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

After falling hard for a green velvet sofa, things about this room’s look and feel began to click for me.

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

The rug, wall art, sofa (obviously!), and curtains are all staying, but I see some more texture in here in the form of wood and/or metal (a round coffee table). and 1 or 2 chairs, lighter in appearance than the overstuffed white Kivik chair (which has yet to receive a new assignment somewhere else in the house!).

flex room progress | www.lifeinyellow.com

I had to see the sofa in play under the windows to get a feel for what focal point (art?) might best work on the wall’s blank space. The hunt is on!

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For now, I’m stroking the velvet sofa, soaking up all the natural light for which I love this room so much…and contemplating just how big an eye roll I’ll get when I suggest to my handier half that we do some built-ins on this north wall? 🙂

Fun progress, and more to come!

Finishing the Basement: the play space

I definitely jinxed myself saying we’d have flooring in for the next post — nope, backordered, then backordered FURTHER, and the latest update is that the mill is now making a whole new run of our carpet, so yes…more waiting.

So I figured in the meantime, I can still share some updated “in progress” pictures — this time, of the play space. This little cove wraps around the bottom half of our stairwell, forming an under-stairs clubhouse spot on the right, and a closet designated solely for toys (and storing baby gear up top) to the left.

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I have since finished arranging all the components just the way I like them (we went with the Ikea “Algot” system, and so far, I’ve been very pleased!). I’ve also been slowly relocating a few toys from upstairs down here — which will be a fun rediscovery for Crew when he can get down here to play in what is (hopefully!) a couple more weeks.
toy closet in progress

We still have some work to do on the clubhouse. Since the first photo above was taken, our electrician installed both a light inside, and the “porch light” on the outside. We’ve purchased some plank style paneling that Page will rip into the shape of a house, and edge with some leftover trim we have on hand. Finally, when he builds a sliding barn door for the bottom of the stairway to help muffle some sound, his plan is to create a mini version to serve as Crew’s front door. I’m thinking a mailbox and/or a flower box of some sort is in order to make it especially homey! 🙂

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I’m waiting to take pics of the inside until it’s truly finished, but decorating this little spot has been so much fun! We will back soon (fingers crossed!!) with the reveal!

The latest in the basement: our home gym

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Paint color is Sherwin Williams “Oceanside”. You can view all our basement paint picks here.

The gym is our basement level is currently the most finished space so far, but still a work in progress. Today I’m sharing the final plan (and inspiration board, above) for this space, along with a couple progress pics!

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The flooring was in before we even drywalled (Page used the horse stall mats similar to what you might see in a CrossFit or other gym). We have since drywalled, trimmed, painted, and added a ceiling fan and TV. The doors that will let the window light through to the main living area are hung as well, just waiting on the door handles. I don’t have a photo that shows the last few details, but here’s a gist picture thus far…

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The final touches will include a series of full length mirrors on the south wall, and across them a ballet barre (yasssss!!!!) and eventually, a wall of planked wood across the south (window) wall to bring in a little warmth to the space. I’ve already squeezed in a couple workouts down here and am LOVING the space.

We’ll be back with the FINAL reveal, and I’ll have Page chime in on all the equipment (much more his gig than mine) for anyone curious!

Finishing the Basement: The Bathroom

Bathroom Inspiration Board | www.lifeinyellow.com

Mirror | Sconces | Faucet
Paint color pictured is Sherwin Williams “City Loft” — see all of our paint picks here

I’m proud to say we’ve stayed remarkably on budget for this basement project, now that we have drywall, trim, paint, and electrical/fixtures all behind us. But we KNEW when we requested our first flooring/shower estimate that we were asking for all of the “wants” on our wishlist. So somewhat expectedly, the estimate came back and we choked. For the first time, we stopped to reevaluate a bit as to where we wanted to splurge, and save, to keep ourselves in check financially. Much of the estimate (and much of where we could reevaluate and save) was allocated to various elements of the bathroom.

I’ve had to remind myself that while I was living out all my bath tile dreams in the showroom, this is – in fact – just the basement bathroom and the shower will only get used a handful of times a year, if that. It’s a must-have for our guests, but unless I plan on moving down to the basement level and making it my master, I could apply a little “look for less” to the plan. 🙂 #realitycheck

The inspo board above was put together while we were still picking items to estimate, but the overall look/feel will stay very much the same. It was easy to identify the look we were going for in here — Pinterest is a great tool for gathering the styles that grab you time and again! My board quickly showed several trends and elements that needed to be incorporated, blending classic tile with restoration-style light fixtures, a pivot mirror, window pane shower doors, an open-concept vanity with exposed plumbing, and a mix of black and chrome hardware.

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The beauty of going back and swapping out materials is that a) the challenge is kind of fun to see how much you can save for a similar effect, and b) once I settle on the new option, I often forget what I had even planned on doing the first time around. Picking a different but very similar floor tile will save us over 50% of the original estimate, as did shopping around for our subway tile and hiring our own installer. We’ve planned all along to hack our own vanity, similar to what we did in the basement of our first house. In part, this saves us money, and we haven’t found any ready-made options out there that aren’t well into the four digit price tags (keep repeating with me…it’s just the basement bathroom…). 🙂

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I leave you with the current status of the bathroom –more to come soon!

The latest in the basement: the guest bedroom

Guestroom in progress

Having built two homes, I’m very familiar with picking out elements for my home without being able to actually see/touch/walk through the ACTUAL finished space beforehand. Finishing the basement level is a little bit easier because at least I can reference the room size and take measurements anytime I want (versus trying to do the math off a set of blueprints and “guess” what 4 feet feels like!). Even so, the walls aren’t yet painted (as we speak!) carpet isn’t yet in (although we’ve picked it out — it’s a slightly cooler/lighter color than what’s pictured below, but same pattern) and the lights aren’t yet turned on (fixtures on order!). So, pulling together a couple versions of a quick inspiration board helps me immensely to figure out the vibe I’m going for in a room. I like too many styles and one moment I’m pinning everything “transitional farmhouse”, the next it’s all “rustic/industrial”. Trying to keep a balanced blend that isn’t too pigeonholed is tricky!

Guest Room Planning | www.lifeinyellow.com

Bed | Ceiling Light | Throw Pillows | Artwork | Dresser | Wall Sconce
Carpet pictured is Tuftex Peak Talent in “Misty Dawn” — (ours will be in “Drizzle”)
Paint color pictured is Sherwin Williams “Faint Coral” — see all of our paint picks here

Guestroom Inspiration Board | www.lifeinyellow.com

Alternate Headboard | Alternate Ceiling Light

Over the next couple weeks, I’m excited to share a room-by-room plan for our lower level. Unless our money tree blooms out back overnight, it will certainly take a little time to pull together all the finishing touches, but we feel pretty stoked about the progress that’s coming along and, furnished or not, we hope to have some usable space by summer!

For today, I’m sharing the inspiration for our guest bedroom. The people at Casper and I created a little checklist of the elements needed in this room to make it inviting to future guests!

Guest Room Essentials | www.lifeinyellow.com

Bedding. Coming into the warmer months, I love the idea of keeping it fresh/crisp with bright white sheets, a light down comforter, and a couple light blankets folded at the foot of the bed. But I’m also already thinking ahead to the holidays, and how to bring in some Christmas coziness — flannel sheets and some festive throw pillows.

Artwork. A must for giving your guests a glimpse of your decorating personality! I have a couple little pieces to sprinkle around the room that are specific to where we live and represent Des Moines for the people visiting us here. I also am planning to make an updated version of the art in our upstairs guest room that displays all the deets for accessing our wifi. For a larger, focal piece in the room, I’m loving the colors in this print from Minted.

Pillows. There’s nothing worse than sleeping on a flat/cheap/”extra” pillow when you’re staying over, and I’m all about investing a little in the foundation pieces; a good mattress and quality pillows. You don’t want your guests tossing and turning all night!

Travel Conveniences. As I mentioned, we’ll displaying our wifi in the room, and a TV will have DirecTV for more entertainment. I’ll be adding a little basket in here with everything from some spare toothbrushes and travel-sized bath products, to a small emergency kit (nail clippers, stain pen, etc) and a couple of leisure books and magazines. I want to wait and see how big the room feels after the bed is moved in, but I’m planningon either a bench at the end of the bed, or a luggage rack in the corner to make accessing suitcases easier. When guests actually arrive, I like to add bottled water and a fresh glass on the dresser.

Lighting. The less-than-stellar shot of the room above was taken on my phone, and what you can’t see to the left is the little nook entry from the hall. We need a very flush sconce on that wall to bring in a little light, but still let the door open, left, into the room so that our guests can easily reach the light switches on the right wall. (So many things you have to think about!) Guests aren’t as familiar with the layout of your home as you are, and you want to make it easy so they aren’t bumping around in the dark, fumbling for lamps. Aside from a small bedside lamp, the lighting in here (both the sconce in the entry nook, and the star ceiling light over the bed) will all be tied to a single set of switches. Side note: While I’m always a fan of a ceiling fan in a bedroom, because of the way our soffit bumps into this room, we opted for something smaller on the ceiling, and an oscilating fan on the floor…I’m not going to lie, it’s been fun picking out pretty light fixtures for the ceiling in here, instead of boring old fans!

Storage. We definitely don’t want guests feeling like they unzip their suitcases…and then have nowhere to put anything. My plan is to use a dresser that can double as a TV stand, so there is plenty of places for guests to unpack things if they want to. The closet is generously sized, so I’ll likely use it for some of our own off-season things, but have a section dedicated so guest items can be hung up.

Any must-haves I haven’t thought of??

basement paint colors.

Basement Paint Scheme | lifeinyellow.com

With drywall finished, and trim installation up next, I got a head-start on looking at paint colors. (Note: All colors you see in this post are Sherwin-Williams.)

Working off the paint colors throughout the rest of our home, we wanted to go lighter in the basement, since the only natural light comes in through two egress windows on the south side, and filters down the stairs from a large window on the landing. I’m okay that it feels cozy down there, but not dungeon-like!

“Requisite Gray” that you see below, is the color that comes down the stairwell from our main level and sets the tone for the basement.

house palette | lifeinyellow.com

The palette that will make up the majority of the basement is below:

Basement_Palette | lifeinyellow.com

Did that last one throw you? 🙂 Oceanside (6496) is the color Page kept coming back to for the gym. It is definitely a deeper/less neutral color than the rest of our picks, but a great energizing hue for a workout space. You won’t see a whole lot of it, between a wall of wood (more on that later), a window, and mirrors and a TV on the walls, but hints of it will be visible from the main living space through french doors. The gym is a fun place to play with more intense color, and not be so safe. I like that it’s something out of the norm of colors we’re usually drawn to (paint or otherwise) and I like the examples I’ve seen of it in real rooms with white trim and natural light that soften it a bit.

Oceanside

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Speaking of white trim, Extra White (7006) is our trim color throughout the house, and one that will continue onto this level. We used this as our trim color in our last home as well. I love it in all lighting situations — perfectly creamy and clean and not too cool, but still a “true” white with no yellow undertones.

I mentioned that Requisite Gray is the color that currently comes down the stairwell. It will meet up on the lower level with City Loft (7631), which will cover the majority of the basement, including the main living room area, the bar/simulator, play area, and the bathroom. It keeps the warm/neutral flow going, but a bit lighter than our upstairs choices. I always think screens mess with paint chip hues — it’s definitely still the in the “grays” versus “tans” category, but the warmer end of the gray spectrum.

CityLoft

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To create some contrast, we are bringing our outside color in. The exterior of our home is Cyberspace (7076), a gray-navy inky color that I love as much as the day we picked it. After we moved in, I was gifted a large picture frame for our front entry from the creative duo at Adamo Design, in the same Cyberspace hue. Seeing a splash of this color inside on our walls and how she artistically distressed it a bit made it an easy choice for our downstairs bar cabinets.

Cyberspace

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I’ve wanted to use a faint, faint (dare I say “pink”) wall color somewhere in our home, but I wanted it to be anything but baby pink. This has a more coral/peach tint to it, and it’s super subtle. I was ultimately sold on it after I saw it in a couple of non-nursery rooms. In a basement bedroom, I wanted something that felt warm and welcoming but still light and bright, without any (major) color commitment in any one direction. (I know, I’m high maintenance!) So Faint Coral (6329) it is, to bring a little personality to the guestroom.

FaintCoral

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So there is the rundown of our paint picks for the lowest level. And to give a flavor of the other surfaces and finishes that will come in down here, here’s a quick collage. The stone will go up a pillar at the bottom of the stairs (Eldorado’s “Chapel Hill” which is in our upstairs level as well), some elements of dark walnut stain and/or cedar will appear between the bar countertop, a sliding barn door at the bottom of the stairs (for noise control), and a version of this on a wall of the gym. We haven’t picked a tile, but we’d like to go light with a subway tile in the shower stall, and we’ll continue the chrome door/cabinet hardware and fixtures on this level as well.

basement textures | lifeinyellow.com

I’ll be back to share more as this all slowly comes to life. Off to call some trim carpenters! 🙂

back in the basement!

Oh, friends. Who knew a decision to finish a basement could prompt so much soul-searching??!

In brief, the past couple months brought some major start-of-the-year conversations about goals — home, financial, location, etc. Those conversations dovetailed with an unforeseen opportunity to purchase some land that we may or may not build on (yes, again…sign us up for the support group…) in a few years. We literally got as far as starting the paperwork and decided in the eleventh hour that it wasn’t our move. Not now, anyway.

And so with that decision made, we were refueled in our desire to continue to put down roots in our current home. While we still scrunch our noses at our lot (it’s a semi-busy street and not much yard in any one direction, and the idea of building where there are actual TREES continues to be a (sub)urban myth) we do love the home as we built it — but now two years later, we are ready to finish moving in. We’ve always planned that this would be a house we grow into — finish the basement, landscape the outside, furnish a patio, and hell – just furnish the parts we live in now. We can’t do it all at once for all kinds of reasons (uh, money for one!) but with the cold winter days fresh in our minds, we are turning our attention back to our basement in hopes of having this space ready to use by the next cold season!

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Back in September, Page finished up a couple little details to the framing that was mostly done by our builder, pre-move-in. We installed insulation ourselves, and a crew came to hang the sheets of drywall that had been stocked down there since day one, finishing up before Halloween. Since then, we cleaned up a little and purged some of the stuff being stored down there, but mostly between holidays and birthdays and life in general, we’ve been focused on other things…until now!

After chatting with a few contractors, we selected a drywall duo to come in and tape, mud, and texture the walls. This ended up taking six working days, in part because of the extra drying time that comes with basement levels. I give you the latest — dust in the air and all!

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{From left to right: storage closet, bathroom, bedroom, gym} IMG_9697

{toy storage area with extra-deep toy closet…

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…and play house under the stairs}

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{one of the things I’m most excited about — the future ballet barre on this wall!}

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{another shot of the bedroom}

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{bathroom}

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{two storage closets on the right, looking to the future bar and golf simulator to the left}

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{bar, A/V closet and sump pump access, and golf sim space}

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{future stone column at entrance to lower level}
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Progress continues — Page is on the fence about his decision to do trim himself, so we’re asking a few trim carpenters to stop by and give us some estimates. After that, PAINT — and our colors are already selected! Stay tuned for the picks!

the beginning of the end: basement finishing progress

I last blogged about our plans for the basement shortly before we moved in. If you prefer a quicker re-cap than reading the link, we had our builder frame this lower level for us and stock it with drywall, saving Page one of the more time intensive steps, and avoiding dragging messy (and huge!) sheets of drywall through our finished house later when we were ready to get cracking down there.

Our plan still includes some unfinished storage space, a fifth bedroom, full bath, gym, kid area/oversized toy closet/understair playhouse, an area to hang and watch TV, a wet bar, and a golf simulator. As much time as we spend at home now, it makes sense to us to put our time, energy, and funding into these types of projects. Additionally, after our last basement finish much more than paid for itself when it came time to sell, we also see this as a fun project that we not only benefit from now, but also (hopefully) and investment that will pay off later. Since we moved in, we had an electrician come out and rough in all our wiring.  

This summer, Page did some additional framing of the soffit in the bedroom, an access wall to the sump pump along the simulator area, a future stone column, and the wet bar. Although the gym is no more than framed, we added our flooring — the same horse mats used by CrossFit gyms — and moved in the weights and equipment. We’ve been using the gym as-is in lieu of a paid membership elsewhere and we both love the ability to work out at home.

August = insulation. #thispartsucks #basementfinish #casadesmith #houseprojects #diy

A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

This past month we tackled insulation. There’s no way to sugarcoat it — insulation installation is pretty damn awful, but it’s a step we could do ourselves and save some coin.

Yaaaaaassss. #finishingthebasement #houseprojects #casadesmith A photo posted by Liz Smith (@lizblogphotog) on

We’ve had the hardest time finding available drywallers, and in something unheard of to us, we are discovering many options — but some ONLY hang the drywall, and some that ONLY mud/tape/texture. Weird, but whatever, we’ll take it. We were able to get on the first contractor’s schedule this month, so voila, we now have walls! This was SUCH a huge step down here — to get all the drywall up and off the floor makes the space, while unfinished, much more usable. We have a busy toddler who can spend the cold winter months riding bikes, big wheels, and jumping on his trampoline (shh! he doesn’t know Santa is bringing it!) down here all winter long, while we save up for the next steps (and pick paint colors! No idea what we want to do down here yet!)

Please excuse the dump of photos…it’s been over a year since I last came down here with my camera! Beginning with our basement stairway…

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…this is the view into what will be the living room area…

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Off to the right of this area is a kiddo space…

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…with an extra-deep closet to the left for toys/games…

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…and perhaps my favorite spot of the whole basement, a mini door to under the stairs for a Crew clubhouse…

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…In the opposite corner of the living room will be a full bath, and a guest bedroom…

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(guest bedroom)

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(guest bedroom)

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…and opposite the guest bedroom is our workout room…

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…turning around from the workout room looking across the living room to what will be the bar area…

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…and in front of the bar, the golf simulator…

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…the door to the right is a long narrow closet mainly for access to A/V, our sump pump, etc.

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For now, we’re at another pause point down here, cleaning up this latest (dusty!) phase, but so happy with the progress made as we save for and decide on next steps. As mentioned, the mudding and painting will be completed by a pro, but Page will do the trim work himself. Flooring will be professionally installed, although we’ve toyed with installing the bath/bar floor ourselves. (It’s worth noting we also said this the first time we finished a basement…and changed our minds, so…). Final plumbing and electrical stages will be completed by outside help, and we’ll plan to install our own bath fixtures, closet fixtures, and bar cabinetry/counter. So more or less “half DIY”. For now we’re just happy dancing that these most recent steps are behind us!