December 29th officially marked one year since we first moved into our Sage Bungalow. Or as we call it, our little house. A whole year of living, of laughing, of hoping and dreaming. Eating and sleeping and studying and playing and drinking and fucking and working and cleaning, and all the things that people do in their safe place, away from the eyes and insecurities of the outside world. Oh, and there’s also been projects. Endless, endless projects. It may have the same floor plan as a quarter of the houses in our neighborhood, but a year later, the Sage Bungalow could belong to no one but us.
We’ve made it ours.
The Living Room and Kitchen
The living room has remained relatively untouched, save some interior decorating. (Good start, Stephanie, way to live up to your own hype right out of the gate…) But we’ve got a really good reason for that. (Trust me, I wouldn’t continue to force myself to live within the world’s beige-est walls without a good reason.)
It’s because of the kitchen. The kitchen is also more-or-less it’s original (and not our personal taste) decor. We installed the under-cabinet lighting, which has made for a much more functional work space. (Also, I’m a sucker for architectural lighting!) The addition of a rolling kitchen island has doubled our usable prep space, and the garbage disposal Kyle installed has made washing pots significantly less gross. Oh, and we installed all the of cabinet hardware, which we found in the garage in a ziploc baggie but for some weird reason the previous owners had never bothered to install. But all of these little additions have been minor, and while they’ve done gobs to make the space more functional, they’ve done little to pretty up the place.
And believe me, the kitchen is definitely slated for a makeover; the cabinets are okay, but the fake-tile linoleum and faux-granite counters have got to go. But kitchens are fucking expensive, and Kyle and I have no intention of cheaping out on our dream kitchen; Kyle’s already announced that can’t have a budget for our stove, and the counter tops I have my heart set on ain’t cheap either. If that means that we need to wait a couple extra years in order to afford the kitchen that we want, so be it; I’d rather wait 10 years to redo our kitchen exactly as we want it than get a shitty one right away. So if that means embracing contractor-grade cabinets and ugly laminate counters while we save up the money, I can make it work. After all, the food will be tasty out of any kitchen Kyle and I are in!
I suppose I can mention that there has been one semi-major addition to our kitchen/dining/living room: our aquarium! Both the tank and the stand were castoffs from my parents, and while the tank took little more than cleaning and some new caulk in the corners, the stand took a lot of work. It was in good shape, but it was stained…walnut? Deep brown, but with some orange undertones? It was pretty, but didn’t go with the rest of our decor even a tiny bit. So I sanded the stand down and gave it a coat of semi-satin black, to match the wood trim of the rest of our furniture. I’m pretty damn proud of how it turned out, and now it’s a perfect home for our menagerie of tetras! (And one cory catfish. And their upstairs neighbors, the marimo moss balls.)
So the main living area may not have seen much in the way of personalizations beyond the fishies, but the three bedrooms are a different story. If there’s one word that describes the transformation the bedrooms have gone through, it’s this: paint.
Soooo much paint. All the paint. So much paint that I actually donked up my shoulder when we first moved in from all the sanding and painting. But it’s been beyond worth it.
Our office was first. You may remember that when we first moved in, this room was referred to as “the giraffe room” because it was bright fucking orange and featured a picture of a giraffe on one wall. (Which, luckily, turned out to be a decal sticker; otherwise, I think I’d still be there trying to prime over it!) And while I love bright and vivid color, this was the singular room that couldn’t be a bright color; so much of our work involves how light interacts with color, and there’s no way having bright orange walls wouldn’t fuck with our eyes. So our office went a soft neutral gray.
Our bedroom was next, not because the beige was particularly painful (other than the fact that beige is inherantly painful,) but because we knew that we would be buying all brand-new furniture a few weeks after we moved in, and this was our one chance to paint without having to take all that shit back out. We chose an aquamarine that some might call “jarring” or “obnoxious,” but I call “vibrant” and “striking.”
There was also one other fun little addition to our bedroom: a ceiling fan! Easy-peasy little project, especially once Kyle figured out that maybe my suggestion that he wear eye-protection and a dust-mask was a good idea after all. (Funny, that.) Kyle loves it because he can’t sleep without a fan, and I love it because I no longer whang my toe trying to walk through the dark room to turn on a lamp!
The Guest Room
The guest room came a few months later. I suppose this room didn’t need to be painted as early as it did; after all, how often do we have guests? (Also, guests who get a free room instead of a $400/night hotel room tend not to complain about things like the color of the walls…) But since I use the dresser and mirror in the guest room as my vanity, I see it every morning, and seeing it in its nondescript state made me sad. Besides, despite what everyone since…ever…has taught us, white doesn’t always make things look bigger; in fact, the all-white walls meant that the ceiling blended in with the walls, which made it feel like the room was going to close in on me. So the guest room became a lovely lavender/periwinkle color that looks bluer in the daylight and more purple under warm lamp light. My dresser/vanity also received a makeover, since, like I said, bland things make me sad.
The bathroom, beyond the addition of our accessories and my painting the shelf, doesn’t appear to had any changes made to it. That is, it doesn’t look like we’ve done anything in the bathroom, when in actuality a whole metric ass-ton of work was done in there, thanks to a pipe rusting out and raining water down the back of our vanity and through the ceiling of our laundry room in the basement. At midnight. Ten hours before we had to be at work for a 16 hour day. 36 hours before we had family coming into town for Thanksgiving.
Yeah, it was awesome.
Kyle ended up taking a personal day and spending the entirety of it replacing a good half of the plumbing in the house. Miraculously, he was able to get the entire thing plumbed and the wall closed back up in a single day, and we were able to clean up that night. We may not have gotten much sleep before family rolled into town, but had we not told them, they never would have known that 24 hours before, the vanity was in the hallway and the toilet was in the bathtub!
We’re still planning on redoing the bathroom, hopefully sometime this winter. We want to replace the vanity with something that doesn’t look like it was purchased from the as-is section, and replace the flooring (even though I love those tiles) with something that doesn’t involve so much grout that refuses to come clean. And, of course, paint!
The basement hasn’t gotten much in the way of changes. Even though we’ll probably replace the carpeting at some point in the future, there’s one thing we’ll never change: the wall color! From the moment I laid eyes on those turquoise walls, I fell in love with them, and I have no intention of ever getting rid of them. Probably the biggest change to the basement (besides the initial addition of furniture) is our bar. That’s right, a real grownup bar! That contains more than just handles of mid-level rum! My favorite part is most definitely the lighting that we added inside the bar. (Duh.)
But by far, the most dramatic change to the interior of the house has been in the garage. When we first moved in, the walls had drywall hung, but not finished in any conceivable way. There was only one outlet in the whole garage, and the only light was the one in the garage door-opener. For two people who are as into projects and tinkering as we are, this was not going to fly.
The first thing that happened in the garage was Kyle mudded and sanded the drywall. Which, god bless him, is quite possibly one of the shittiest jobs a person can have to do in a house. Once that was done, that left me to put two coats of white on all the walls and the ceiling. (Plus a little splash of color for my work space!)
After that, it was time for electrical work. Together, (you didn’t really think we’d hire an electrician, did you? The only dirtier word in our house is “contractor,”) we installed four more electrical outlets and four bright-as-fuck LED lights. Seriously, those things are so bright that if you’re in there late, you have no idea that it’s night. More than once, Kyle’s accidentally stayed up until 4am, working on projects, because he lost track of what time it was. So yeah, fuckers are bright.
Sometimes I worry about the choices we’ve made for our little house. How they’ll affect resale value someday. If guests will feel welcome and comfortable in the guest room. If people walk around our house thinking, “Christ on a cracker, what acid trip did that color fall out of? Talk about no taste!”
But then you know what I think? Fuck other people and their (admittedly, probably imagined) opinions. This house is ours, and we love it. Our friends feel comfortable here. I can’t imagine living anywhere else. And that’s all that matters.
Stay tuned for next time, where I tell you all about the fun things we did to the outside of our house and all the ways I got into more trouble with paint.
(Kidding, our house is still greenish-tan. Or is it…)