7.24.2015

"We can either paint or move. You pick."

I uttered those words to Handy Hubby a few months ago. He quickly said that painting was a good idea. Of course he hates moving and I know that so it was a slam dunk (and, no, I really don't have any desire to move). I love yellow but I was just tired of being hemmed in by a somewhat specific color (although if you like warm colors then it's a great, versatile option). I felt it wasn't working with the direction my decor was going, and I was feeling bored.

I sampled a ton of paint thanks to the generosity of friends and clients with lots of gray and taupe paint samples. I finally decided on Revere Pewter. Actually, it was an easy choice. As soon as I put the sample on the wall I liked it so it quickly became a contender. I also liked Sherwin Williams Alpaca and a few others but Revere Pewter had the right mix of gray and tan, and it also worked really well with blue.


I also felt like it was a color and not just a variation on white which was my goal. Although I do like white... maybe my next paint job.

And here's how it looks today.



It has been 2 weeks since it was finished and I love how it came out. I am so glad we made this change. It has also been a great opportunity to rethink my art choices and various accessories. Any time you take everything out of a space, it's an opportunity to think again about how you want your rooms to feel. This time my dad put the blinds back up but I decided to leave the curtains off for a while and see how I feel about it. The curtains were weighing the room down and who needs a heavy-feeling room in the summer? 











Of course, this has led to several more projects. More to come!

7.09.2015

Our Florida Beach Condo: Balcony Updates

One of the best features of our Siesta Key condo is the balcony (or lanai as most people there call it). It's fully screened but small - about 5'6" x 11'. That's not a ton of space. Our first priority was to have a table for eating which I purchased in March when we bought the condo. The table that was there was a plastic table like you would buy at a drugstore and not something that was sturdy enough for daily eating. Most of our renters are going to want to take advantage of the warm days and evenings and eat outside. Fortunately the chairs were fine but just need a little cleaning.

Here's where we started on the lanai back in March. 


And a few hours later during the cleanup, I had barely touched the balcony except for removing the table cloth and directors' chairs. At the point, I was going to leave the table but by the end of the day, I realized that the table had to be replaced with a glass top table.


 By the time I left the unit on April 1st, this is what the lanai looked like:

It's certainly a nice place to eat but it's nothing memorable.

When Handy Hubby and I had our Memorial Day escape to Florida, I really wanted to add a light fixture so people can eat out at night. It gets dark early especially in November and December. I also lugged down a little "Life is better when you are at the beach" sign I found at Marshall's for $9 a while back. I picked up some cute new throw pillows at HomeGoods for $18 per pair. The light fixture is from World Market and we were able to wire it in using a plug light (also from World Market) with a switch on the end. Now it looks completely refreshed! It really needs a rug of some sort, and some chairs for relaxing (scored last night at World Market - 75% off all outdoor furniture!). 


I wanted to note the adorable dishware. I was not originally planning to get new dishes but wanted to live with what we had. But, the dishes were not very beach-ish and I didn't really have to do very many kitchen investments other than some glassware, knives and toaster. I decided to go with a cute Corelle pattern that I found at Walmart. I was originally resistant to Corelle but then I saw how cute this pattern was and you really cannot beat its durability when you have renters. The silverware was in the unit - there's tons of it and it's in good condition so we kept it. My mom scored the plastic wine glasses at a yard sale for a buck. Love my mom and her bargain hunting.


Here's the view for your breakfast...

 

I think we achieved the goal of sprucing things up on a budget. Total investment here was about $200. I still need to get a rug but I am hoping to find one in the end-of-summer sales which seem to be in full swing even though summer is just beginning. Uh... Target... why is all of the back-to-school stuff out?!!!!  I nearly flipped out. Our kids don't get back to school until after Labor Day in Virginia!! I'm surprised they weren't putting Christmas lights out on the back wall. 

Enjoy your summer no matter what the big box retailers are trying to tell you!

6.02.2015

Our Florida Beach Condo - Kitchen Updates

Over Memorial Day weekend, Jim and I snuck down to our new condo in Siesta Key, Florida to do a little work on the condo, get some rest, and eat some amazing meals. I had a "few" work priorities for the condo. Handy Hubby thought it was going to be "rest" weekend - he was wrong (although  not entirely). Some were mundane like rename the WiFi network and change the password, make sure the television remotes were all properly programmed, and organize the linen closet. And of course, I wanted to do a little more decorating. I shipped down one fairly large box and then carried several items in my suitcase and carried on one giant driftwood seahorse (insert limitless jokes here).

When I was there in March for the closing and quick redecorating, I really wanted to get rid of the wallpaper border in the kitchen. I'm sure it was cute in 2000 but it had definitely lost all appeal. Here's the "reveal" shot from April. After we left in April, my parents scored a new microwave at a yard sale for $25. If you look closely below you can see the broken grate. You can't see the permanently grease stained yellowness of the entire thing - yuck. That baby hit the dumpster in late April.


Here's what the wallpaper looked like up close. Purrrrrty. Not only ugly but also falling down.


I woke up at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday morning and went to work while Handy Hubby got some beauty sleep. Fortunately there were several things working in my favor - 1) most of the top layer of the paper peeled off without issue, 2) the paper was only re-glued in a few small areas, 3) the walls had not been repainted around the paper, 4) I had a plastic scraper that did not damage the existing paint.


And two hours later it looked like this. I used the most basic method. Peeled as much dry paper as possible with my hands. Most of the top layer and bout half the bottom layer came off like that. Then started soaking the bottom later with water using a wet rag. I then scraped the rest off. It mostly peeled off with no issue. The rest had to be scraped a bit more, and a few tiny spots were super stubborn so I just sanded them down and touched those up with white paint. I think those were glued with stronger glue that really didn't want to let go. It wasn't worth ruining the drywall.



You can't tell in the picture but Handy Hubby also switched out a few nasty painted over almond outlets and switches for clean white. That's 3 down and about 20 left in the rest of the condo!

The last minor kitchen update was swapping out some hideous almond track lighting for some only slightly less hideous white track lighting. Although we want to get rid of this fixture altogether, I found a brand new fixture in the master bedroom closet during the big clean out in March. I almost chucked in into the yard sale pile but in the end I kept it for some unknown reason (temporary insanity or maybe sanity?). Anyway, I pulled them out again to throw them in the yard sale pile and realized they were 10x better than what we had already up so Handy Hubby did a quick switch out just before we left for the airport on Memorial Day.


We didn't bother replacing the track rail, just the fixtures.  It's hard to tell in this cruddy iphone pic but it was a nice, unexpected and free change.


The kitchen looks so much cleaner and more modern than it did when we bought it. I'm so pleased with the results. Of course, spending time there we started to think about longer term plans. Handy Hubby would like to shrink the kitchen back by perhaps making the cabinet between the stove and fridge half as big, thus gaining a bit more space in the living room. We may also eventually lose the table and install a long island with stools instead - thus gaining seating area and also some storage below perhaps. Of course replacing the cabinets and counters would also be a nice change but that's several years down the road because there are some more urgent projects in line first!

4.14.2015

Our Florida Beach Condo - Mini-Makeover Reveal!

Last week I detailed how we bought and cleaned out our beach condo. Now I'll tell you how we put it back together in 30 hours with not a minute to spare! Literally - I was dragging boxes to the dumpster at 3:05 having just locked the door behind me! Fortunately my parents were there every step of the way and I am so thankful for them because this would NOT have happened without them.

So, here's where things were when we left off at the end of "Day 1" - BLEAK!




Throughout the 30 hours I kept thinking about all of the HGTV and DIY network design shows and how they always seem to do so much in a 2-day makeover. Of course, having an extra 10 hands and a decent budget really helps out. I had 5 pairs of hands (my parents', my kids and me) but 2 sets were pint-sized and only one of those was remotely helpful. To add to the fun HGTV was filming an episode of Beachfront Bargain Hunt - NO JOKE!!! I definitely lost 10 minutes of work time staring at them filming by the pool (our unit has a nice pool view fortunately!!). Of course I forgot to take a picture of them filming. 

My mom and I did an early morning trip to Comcast (argh!) and Lowes. When we got back, my dad swung into action very early with setting up the TV and changing out 2 light fixtures (the entry and dining room - both HORRIBLE as you can see in the photos above) and some other odd jobs around the house. I spent 45 minutes dealing with Comcast hook-ups (argh!) and then putting things away that we had bought on our shopping spree the night before (cookie sheets, frying pans, utensil organizers, etc.). My mom and Elizabeth started making beds and unloading the dishwasher with all of the dishes, glasses and bakeware we were keeping (but which definitely needed a trip through the dishwasher!). As I was finishing a bunch of little things including a final clean-out of the kitchen drawers and cabinets, my mom scrubbed the bathrooms and vacuumed everything. Ideally we would have scrubbed down all of the baseboards behind all of the furniture but we did what we could in the time we had. I'll do some more cleaning when Handy Hubby and I go down in May. He will finally get to see what we bought! Then we started hauling all of the trash out. A. LOT. OF. TRASH.

The very last thing I did was take pictures for our rental website. Here are the "after" pictures after 30 hours of hard labor! I should note that we did not even lift a paintbrush during that time so everything here was done with accessories and cleaning out! I wish I had taken before and after pictures of the cleaned out closets but I'll try to do those in a future post. 

Living Room

Here's where we started.


I flipped the room layout so the couches are on the left and the TV on the right side. You may recognize some of these pillows from our own family room. I recently scaled back on green so these pillows weren't working here but they are perfectly tropical for Florida! The pictures over the sofa are my own. They were taken of some birds at the famous New Pass Grill & Bait Shop (a really fun place if you are ever on your way to or from Mote Marine!).


The lamps were an AWESOME score at Ross Dress for Less. If you hit that store on the right day, you can get amazing lamps for even less than Marshalls and HomeGoods. Normally this happens when I'm not looking for lamps but this time it worked out perfectly! The floor lamp behind the sofa was a curbside find painted with chalk paint with a shade that I had from another lamp. Totally free -love that!

 

My parents did some heavy negotiating for the TV stand in a yard sale (one of their favorite pastimes).  I might make some changes to it at some point to make it even more functional, such as removing the VCR tape holders in the side cabinets. It is incredibly heavy so we were fortunate to have some help from my parents' neighbors. I also have some ideas for decorating the wall behind the TV which is almost completely bare right now.


Short term I'll get rid of one of the sofas and we'll try to move two club chairs we already own from Arlington to Florida (like in my dad's boat this fall!). I also need two smaller chairs next to the TV - perhaps slipper chairs or some other chairs. I'm not sure yet. I definitely want to get rid of those dining chairs in there for sure. 

Kitchen and Dining Area

Here's the before.


Not many obvious changes to the kitchen. 


The wallpaper border/backsplash is coming down ASAP. I hate it and it dates the already dated kitchen twofold. I was hoping to have time last week but that was not in the stars. I'll get rid of it in May and take new pictures. I added the big yellow bowl in the corner that guests can use for serving pasta or just keeping fruit, snacks, or baked goods on the counter. I also bought a stainless steel utensil holder, a knife block (there were almost no knives at all!), and a new toaster.

Before last week I probably would have told you that we are going to rip out the kitchen in 5 years but after spending some time there, I really liked it and the cabinets were all in good shape except for the doors. If we could get new doors, that might be the best solution. I might also add some crown molding to dress-up or hide the soffit. All of the appliances are decent and the fridge is quite new. We might be able to get away with a less-expensive makeover with new doors, counter and backsplash.

Here's the dining area before.
The main change here was a new drum light that we bought at Lowes for $90. It is the perfect natural color to compliment the flooring and shades on the living room lights. That old fixture was a rusty 1980s relic that was hanging right in your  main view when you walked through the front door. I wish I took a picture with the new light off so you can see the color, but I was in a bit of a rush at this point! I also put up the new art on the walls. These are notecards purchased from a gallery in Nevis on vacation in 2003. I picked up the frames on clearance at Walmart that morning!


I'm going to think some more about what to do with the table and chairs. They are not horrible and will be fine in the short term. I took the leaf out and stored it in the closet so there is more room to move around in the kitchen. When we redo the floor, I'll decide whether to replace them with a high top table or an island with stools. That would make this kitchen a really great cooking and entertaining space, especially given the size of the condo.

Master Bedroom and Bathroom

The main theme in these rooms was cleaning! There was dust on every service, old shelf paper in the drawers, and the closets were a mess. I replaced the bed linens with a Tommy Bahama quilt and shams (found at Ross of course!). I bought all new sheets and my mom got the bedskirt from another Florida friend who was redecorating. The lamps on the bedside tables used to reside in our basement family room. The pictures on the wall over the bed were purchased on our honeymoon in Bermuda and used to be in our own master bedroom. Everything else was in the condo already. 
I love how this room turned out considering the changes were not monumental. It needs a new ceiling fan and maybe a different dresser on the right wall (not shown in these pictures) or perhaps a desk or console instead. The furniture is good quality though so I'm not going to be quick to get rid of it.
The master bathroom was already painted a pretty blue that perfectly matched the shower curtain that I had brought with me! The art on the wall was another mom yard sale find. It might need a new frame but it's getting the job done for now. This room is probably most in need of a makeover in the next few years. The vanity and medicine cabinet are a little rough and the floor is not at all salvageable. The tub could also be replaced with a step in shower making it easier to get in and out safely.
Guest Bedroom 

The guest bedroom was one of the more dramatic makeovers in the condo. 

It was functional before but had no character. Now it looks really cheerful and nautical. My kids cannot wait to sleep here - no idea when they will! I purchased the Tommy Hilfiger comforters at Ross (of course!) and the ocean art was also a Ross find. My dad (!) salvaged those yellow lamps on the curb from a condo neighbor on the day we were moving in. He came in at one point on Tuesday and said, "Hey Meliss, there are some yellow lamps on the sidewalk that are being donated to the yard sale unless you want them." I bolted outside in a flash and did a little jig because they were so perfect. New crisp white drum shades from Lowes for $12 each were the finishing touch. I think they make the room.
One of the reasons we jumped on this unit so quickly was that it has a washer and dryer. It's small but fully functional. We also replaced the horrible little globe fixture that was here before. It was completely dated and only had one lightbulb.  This one provides great additional light in the entry and it was on clearance at Lowes at 7:30 a.m. that morning. It was not at all in the original plan and Handy Hubby would have disagreed but he wasn't there. But, since we replaced the pendant right next to it, the originally ugly globe looked much worse!
Finally our little screened lanai is a great place for morning coffee and dinner at home. There was an old plastic table here so we bought a new basic glass table. The chairs were already here. 
That's the end of the tour! We are looking for renters. If you or someone you know is looking for a place to vacation this summer or fall, please call 1-800-944-5629 and request unit 706. There's a two-week minimum but prices are very affordable in the summer and fall!

4.09.2015

Our Florida Beach Condo - Clean-out!

As you read on Tuesday, we bought a beach condo last week. Woohoo!!!! Before I give you the reveal pictures, I wanted to share a little about the clean-out. My parents are experienced vacation and long-term landlords so I have learned a lot from them. I am also a very experienced vacation home renter so I know what I like when I go to a condo. The number one thing I look for is CLEANLINESS. I cannot emphasize this enough. If your property does not feel clean, renters will notice right away and many will think twice about coming back or recommending your unit to someone else. We even still have to get our carpets cleaned which I think will make a huge difference in the cleanliness.

I should have taken more pictures of the before and during pictures but here's the gist of it. There was a LOT of stuff in this condo and we had no idea how much work it would take to get it out. A 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo does not seem that big. It's barely 1000 square feet so how much stuff could there really be?! Let me tell you - A LOT.

Here are a few pictures of how the place looked when we arrived on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. I ran around and snapped some pictures with my phone so don't mind the grainy quality.









 Definitely not horrible on the surface, but just really dated. But, a few hours later, things looked like this. Definitely got a LOT worse before it got better.


  

I had my dad (and several of my parents'  friends who would drop by to say hi!) hauling stuff back and forth from our condo and to the rummage sale room all day long. The poor man!

This picture below as at a low point when things were really torn apart. I may have shed a few tears or snapped at my parents.


I really wish I had taken some pictures of the kitchen cupboards that were filled. My mom took everything out and washed the shelves. She did an initial round of clean-out and then I did a secondary round of clean-out. If I didn't know what a tool was, I tossed it. If it was rusty, chipped, broken, etc. - I tossed it. If I had 3 of the same thing, I tossed 2. We made a list of everything that needed to be replaced - most of it obvious things that get worn out quickly - cookie sheets (rental houses NEVER have good cookie sheets - no idea why!), non-stick frying pans, and knives. I decided to upgrade a few of the small appliances such as the toaster and blender. Both were old and marginally functional. Handy Hubby and I are going to use the condo in May for a long weekend so we'll get a better idea of what else might need to be replaced although I don't really plan on cooking more than a bagel!

We also cleaned out under the cabinets in the bathrooms. Wow - that was gross. I did it quickly while holding my breath. I threw out everything except the hairdryer and a few plastic organizing bins (after washing the thoroughly). We did almost no work in these rooms except clean them top to bottom which my mom did - she's awesome like that.

Guest Bath
Master Bath
These will get ripped out in a few years but all in good time. At a minimum in the short term, new mirrors and more efficient light fixtures and ceiling fans. 

I also threw out almost everything in the closets - old shoes, walking sticks, Christmas decorations, golf clubs, vases, etc. It was really out of control. This was the "owner's closet" - doesn't seem that bad but I filled several boxes with stuff. I left the bike helmets for anyone who rents bikes or us when we use our own bikes there. 


I also cleaned out the paperback books. I left some newer ones and some old classics (and favorites of my own!). I plan to bring a few more newer ones down when we go in May. The condo clubhouse has a library for guests so we donated some of the books there, and the rest will go to the condo association yard sale.

By the end of the first 7 hours, I had pulled out most of the furniture we weren't using (mostly end table and night stands). I rearranged the guest bedroom and the living room. Everything was more or less in place but I was nearly falling asleep on my feet and I still needed to do some shopping that evening for additional items we needed. In the morning, my mom and I were out of their condo by 7:30 a.m. and at Lowes by 7:50. We went to Comcast and then hit Walmart before heading back by 10:30. At that point we had 4 hours to finish everything and I was in a mild panic. But my parents came to my rescue and we got it all done. Final pictures to come!