Sunday, December 29, 2013

Adventures in Bathroom Remodeling- Picking a Contractor and Setting a Budget


Hello peeps! I'm back for the next edition of Adventures in Bathroom Remodeling. 

Today I wanted to share how I went about making my budget and how I chose a contractor. I am by no means an expert on any of this, but there was so much I learned that I think it might others out there taking on their first big remodel project. As I shared in my first post I had a pretty clear picture of what I wanted versus what I needed. This helped me tremendously in both areas. Many people told me that they went way over budget, it took longer than they wanted and they were not happy with how it turned out. I was determined to set realistic goals from the get go.



{MAKING A BUDGET}
I had a small budget, and I was determined not to finance anything. I was willing to spend the money on things that would pay off long term. I am really not that great with budgets in general (just ask my checking account, lol) so I looked at what I had in the bank and used that as a guide.  I am going to refrain from being specific, since I have friends and family who read this blog, but I will say it was a couple thousand dollars. I did have to raise it a little in the end. A few lessons I learned:

-  Tile is more expensive than I anticipated, but totally worth the investment. everything I read told me that good quality tile would last a long time and up the resale value of the bathroom. 
- Labor can eat up half of my budget. I wish I could have DIY'd more of my bathroom, but I have zero remodel skills. Laying tile is surprisingly labor intensive and complicated. But, again, it will be worth it long term.
- I had to be clear and honest about what I wanted versus what I needed. I really wanted a colorful patterned floor. I needed a bathtub/shower unit that was good quality. I wanted a heated towel rack, but I needed a new toilet. Looking at Pintrest and other sites like Houzz you can get carried away with ideas and add ons.  Several times I had to look at my list and cut something or figure out how to re arrange my budget to accommodate it.
- I had to be willing to be patient. As a person in a wheelchair, I had to wait for someone to: take down my light fixtures, re hang my lights, hang my mirror and help me paint. I could have paid my contractor to do all that, but it would have cost me  more money. I have wonderful friends and family-as long as I was patient they would all come around and get these little things done for me. I also ran out of money to add the glass enclosure I wanted around the shower. After Christmas I will have the money, so I waited. I could finance it, but then I risk having monthly payments, finance fees, etc. That was not for me, so I waited. Sure, having it all done in a month and having a big reveal would be fun, but I needed to be practical, so I learned to be patient.

Source


{FINDING A CONTRACTOR)
No joke, finding a contractor might have been the most frustrating part of the whole process. I know so little about remodeling, and I had a lot of questions. I needed to find someone I could trust. Someone who would not charge me too much and be willing to take some time and explain what they were doing and why. Turns out, I needed to find someone with the common sense to return my calls and emails. Seriously. I learned that contractors are notorious for  not calling you back or dragging their feet. This to me is really rude, but from what I hear pretty common. Along with this, I learned a few things about what was important for me when hiring a contractor:
- Insist on a serviceman who will call you back and return your emails. I refused to accept that someone who was going to take several thousand dollars from me would not take the time to answer all of my questions. I mean really, would anyone else get away with not communicating with you? Your accountant? Your doctor's office? Of course not! I was reasonable with what I expected- I didn't blow up his email inbox with a million little questions. I would group 3-4 into one email. I would call and leave only one voice mail a week. I waited 2-3 days before I called or emailed back. I actually nixed 2 contract companies for not communicating with me and I am so glad I did. The company I hired was awesome and ALWAYS answered my questions to my satisfaction.....even the stupid questions ; ).
- Some companies will book ahead 6 months or more. I did not expect this. I was all excited to get going, then to be told I would have to wait 4 months to even break ground? That's kind of a bummer. The company I hired told me they specifically do not book themselves more then two months ahead. They were retired home builders who only took the jobs they wanted to. I liked that, because from the time we signed the contract it was only 3 weeks before we actually started.
- Ask for a reasonable time frame. My contractor told me it would take 3-4 weeks. He broke down what would happen each week and why it took so long. I thought because it was only one small room it might be a week or two, but once he went through what had to happen when, it made sense. In the end it only took 3 weeks, which was a happy surprise!
- Rely on on recommendations, but not too many. Every knows someone who knows someone who.....well, you know.  I got a half dozen names and companies, that was the perfect amount of names to narrow down. I did also look at the Better Business Bureau, but I trusted the personal recommendations more. Someone suggested Angie's List, but I did't have much luck there. I think that website is a great idea, but I would be hesitant to trust such a big job to anyone I didn't not get referred to personally.
- Ask about the 'extras'.  I learned that alot of supplies and fees wouldn't be on the standard contract, but I was still expected to pay for them. For example- dumping fees for the old shower and vanity. I wanted certain pipes for my faucet, but no idea where to buy them, pick up for my tub and sink. All of these were important to me and I was willing to pay my company to do them, but I wanted to know ahead of time how much it would cost.
- Don't be afraid to question what they are doing and why. This was a little hard for me at first, but I wanted to understand what was happening and what I was paying for. I tried to stay out of their way when they were knee deep in something, but I would look around and comment on whatever I saw. I also changed my mind of the pipes for my sink, when I learned that what I imagined in my head would not work in reality. I tried to compliment everything I saw that I liked (which was a lot) and thank them everyday for their work. That way they felt appreciated and didn't seem to mind when I asked abut what they were doing. Being friendly is important. Yes, they are working for me, and I can technically say whatever, but you ALWAYS get more bees with honey than with vinegar, right?

Next week, I'll be back to share a few in progress photos. Like I said earlier, things moved along pretty quick and I am so glad I snapped pictures along the way. Have a good week!

xoxo,
Michelle
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Friday, December 13, 2013

Lawnscaping Winter Blog Hop- Holiday Song Gift Tags





Ho-Ho-Ho friends! Thanks for hopping by for my stop on the Lawnscaping Holiday Blog Hop!  This is my little corner of the internet and I hope you decide to come back sometime. I blog about: DIY's, paper crafts, and everyday life.  I recently started blogging about my adventures in Bathroom Remodeling.

Today I want to share a set of tags I made to use on gifts for Christmas. Truth be told, I tend to buy stamps that I think are versatile as instead of occasion specific. I don't have many Christmas or winter themed stamps. However, I've this idea stewing to make gift tags with song lyrics on them, and I pulled out a couple of my favorite LF stamps to make it happen! 

Supplies: American Crafts cardstock, stamps:  Claire's ABC and Blissful Botanicals, Black Staz On ink, Martha Stewart micorbbead glitter, Ranger Glossy Accents, various markers from my stash, sequins from my stash.

I used the flower and vine from Blissful Botanicals and colored them red and green to look like poinsettias. I kind of love that I didn't have to buy a specific stamp to get this look. I had a lot of fun coming up with song quotes ( and I may have laughed a little too much putting a Hannukah song on a Christmas gift tag....lol)
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I'm in love with this MS microbead glitter. I adhere it with Glossy Accents and it gives a really great texture and color to projects like this.
Enjoy the rest of the Hop! Before you go, please leave a comment below letting me know your favorite Holiday song (funny or sentimental I love them both! ). The folks at Lawnscaping have some great prizes to give away. Giveaway will be open until Dec. 15th at noon!

Click over to the fantastic blog: Cards By The Sea. (Note: if you get lost in a snow drift along the way, you can always go back to Lawnscaping's blog to see the order of the hop


Happy Hopping Holidays my friends! 

xoxo,
Michelle
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Sunday, December 8, 2013

Adventures In Bathroom Remodelling


Hello peeps! I am very close to finishing a project so BIG....it has taken almost two years to complete! The master bath in my condo was on my list to change from the day I moved in. I mean, really, look at what I had to work with:

The bathroom is not tiny, but with a little work it could be a lot more open. As a wheelchair user I could use a lot more floor space to navigate. As I went along this process I kept in the front of my mind- resale value! The more wheelchair friendly I could make this space the more I could market it as accessible when I go to sell. Overall the condo is very wheelchair friendly, and that is NOT easy to find in my neighborhood (trust me, I looked). I also had to keep in mind my limited budget. I didn't want to finance anything if I could afford it. I wanted quality, but not expensive finishes and products. I knew that I could spend more on some things (like tile) but save on others (like light fixtures).


Keeping all this in mind I had a plan for things I would like to do. Some I accomplished, some had to be umm...revised to fit into my budget. 

- remove the ginormous vanity and the cheap sink.
- take out the shower stall, put in a shower/tub! (this one was most exciting to me)
- lay down a tile floor. I mean, i love dark gray marbled laminate as much as the next guy, but...)

Over the next few posts I'll go into details on the projects, who/what/when/where and how. I hope it'll help someone out there! I learn SO much. I mad many, many mistakes. At the very least you can laugh along with me....there were many, many laughs.

Today I also wanted to share the first thing I did. Really, the easiest part. Creating a Pintrest board! I knew I wasn't changing the layout or knocking down walls, so that freed me up to play with colors/textures/finishes. Below are a couple of bathrooms I found very Pinworthy:


I always liked the combo of white, wood and pops of color
 

I also love gray as a neutral. Gray, silver, with white. I LOVED this metallic gray tile! I also loved the open shower concept. 

I found this pin just about 2 years ago......I love love LOVE this floor! I got really excited about the idea of a 'statement floor'. Wood, white and a floor that made you go 'wow'! Did I get this floor....stay tuned.
 
 I also loved the idea of striped walls. Maybe two tones of the same color? I loved this simple, but removable upgrade to the room. And, there is another open shower. 

Next post, I'll go into making my budget. What I could do, what I couldn't. And finding a contractor. Oh lord, THAT is a story.  See you soon!

Later,
Michelle
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Thursday, December 5, 2013

Free Fun Friday! - Holiday Gift Tags

Hello, Peeps.

 It's getting very jolly around here. At least, we are trying to get into the holiday spirit after a rough few months. This is my favorite month of the year, so I am looking forward to everything it has to offer. Today I am bringing back a semi regular feature here- Free Fun Fridays. I created a board on Pintrest to share freebies I stumble upon and I wanted to share a few of my favorites to help you dress up your packages this holiday season!  Just click on the picture to go to the original source. Also, if you decide to use them, leave a nice comment for the blogger-we always love hearing from readers.

Of course, you should follow me on Pintrest. and see other freebies the internet has to offer like these! These are just a sample of what I've found. Check it out:

4 x 4 Retro Inspired Cards from Persnickety Prints. I love the colors.

From Sweet CS Designs. These would look great with kraft paper or white paper wrappings.

I love these from Two Twenty One blog. I am a sucker for great typography.


I'm not sure who made these-does anyone know the source? I pinned them here.

Thanks for stopping by! Have you found any great free tags? I'd love to see them....link a girl up!

Michelle

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Tis The Season-Get Excited! A Lawnscaping Challenge Card



Hello Peeps! I am currently wearing my favorite stretchy pants, eating my weight in turkey and hugging everyone in my family. Hope you are having a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend! Just popping in to share a card I whipped up for this current Lawnscaping Challenge- Polka Dots.

I decided to indulge my obsession with bokeh and ombre effects on cards. I had a leftover die cut from my Silohuette that I made for another project. (this design, if you are interested) I used it as a mask and inked right over it with three inks in some wintery colors. The color combo was kind of random- I wanted the silver, then picked the purple and blue to compliment it.  

I don't have any remotely winter-related Lawn Fawn stamps (although I think this one and this one are really fun),I used my most loved LF stamps- Claire's ABC's. I use them all the time on cards. They are a great size and a cute-but not overly cute font. 



I added some random stitching and washi tape for interest....done and done! All supplies listed below. Thanks for popping in! 

Gobble, Gobble,
Michelle


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Monday, November 18, 2013

Fall Must Haves- 2013

 
Hello peeps! 

I've been in a blogging dry spell lately, but I have an itch to share some things.......prepare yourself ; ). I thought an easy way to get the writer's juices flowing was to share a list of some of my favorite things right now.  Fall is in full swing and it's really the best time of year, isn't it? I love the cooler weather (maybe not the rain) and the smells and sounds, and I am getting very excited about the holidays coming up! Here's a list of things I am loving right now and I think you will love too!

1. Makeup. I have serious dry skin issues when the weather changes. Cliniques BB cream is a moisturizing foundation without being greasy. Good, light coverage and a great price. I got one of their Chubby Stick Lipsticks in a bonus bag (in Mega Melon) and I wear it every work day. The color is very cheery! I also use a little Bare Essentuals Bronzer to fool myself into thinking I still have a summer glow. Not pictured: Sephora's Age Defy Night Cream. Let's not talk about the fact that I am at an age where I am buying products with 'age defy' in the name and think about how this awesome (reasonable priced) night cream has taken care of my pitiful flaky skin! Woot! 

2. Must See TV. Cold, rainy weather does NOT make me want to go out and be too social. Lots of night spent making things and watching some really great TV.  These witches are my favorites......this show is so crazy and awesome. No show makes me gasp and laugh out loud the way this one does. The cast is AMAZING...Jessica Lange, Angela Bassett and Kathy Bates-a trio of awesome. My favorite new show is Sleepy Hollow, anyone else? Tom Mison is fantastic and the combo of history and sci-fi is right up my alley. Not pictures: The Blacklist. I would watch James Spader read the phone book, true story.

3. New Music. The new Civil Wars CD is phenomonal...I especially love The One That Got Away.(when are they going to kiss and make up, already?)  Not pictured: I have been listening to Ellie Goulding's Halcyon at least once a week since the summer.

4. New Apps. The Sunrise Calendar app has replaced the Google Calendar my iPhone. Much prettier and it links up to my FB account!. Not pictured: Luminosity. I am trying to exercise my brain, I am such a smarty pants!!

5. Coffee-Always. I treat myself to coffee from my local place about once a week. Heine Bros is a big deal around here. I'm not big on super sugary coffee drinks, but lately I get a half pump of hazelnut in my cup. And a pumpkin scone ; ) Not pictured: I want to learn to make ramen soup. I tried to make up a recipe and I overcooked some rice noodles......not good.

6. Warm Weather Layers. Fall is all about layers for me. It's always cold in the morning, and if I am wearing a thick sweater I am burning up by the afternoon. I am a big scarf fan. I own more than one person probably should...but I love them! I have this one from Old Navy, but in a different color combo that doesn't seem to be available anymore. I am also a little obsessed with their skinny Rockstar jeans. I may or may not have 4 pairs- black, white, purple and coral. They are so comfortable and skinny without being too tight. I need a few more colors to brighten up my wardrobe, I think!! Maybe blue? or patterned? Not pictured: my black zip up boots and I are best friends. Side note about these boots- I wear foot braces and have the hardest time finding shoes to fit. These are perfect! the leather stretches without losing its shape and the zipper helps me get them on. I highly recommend them to anyone who has braces like mine.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Lawnscaping Challenge Card



Another card to share today!

I have a friend getting married soon and I want to make her a big batch of thank you cards to use after the big day. I figured, why not mix it up and use a few challenge blogs to inspire the design, right?

Monochromatic.....trickier than I thought. I immediately picked pink....duh. But, how to make the card interesting and not just a bunch of pink papers stuck together. I layered a scrap of pink vellum over some patterned paper and create a pocket....filled with pink sequins and confetti. Ever since I saw this card by Kristina Werner I have wanted to try a little nail polish on a card. True fact-I have more nail polish than one person should. I just swiped a bit of a pretty pink-gold before I stamped one of my favorite Lawn Fawn sentiment stamps. ( I swear this picture makes it look way more golden than it does in real life)



This card was pretty simple to make, and I could definitely see making a few more with different color schemes and.....different mail polish backgrounds? lol

Head over to the Lawnscaping Blog, those ladies are a lot of fun!

Later,
Michelle

Simon Says Stamp Best Wishes Card


Hey y'all! One of my favorite on-line stores, Simon Says Stamp recently held a blog hop to celebrate a month long anniversary party. You can see all about Stamptember here. Imagine my surprise when my name was randomly picked for a box full of Simon Says Stamp goodies.....#WINNING!! Turns out my box was full of supplies that made up their monthly stamp kit. It was all so fun, I couldn't wait to play with it. 


I made this card to enter in Simon's Wednesday Challenge Blog. I thought it would be fun to use my newest, favoritest Simon products, and send them a great big online Thank you! he only thing not included int he kit, is the sentiment stamp and matching wafer thin die. This set is for sure one of my favorite, most used. I thought they worked perfectly for the overall look of the card.


All supplies are linked below the first picture, thanks for stopping by! 

Michelle

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Always Butterfly-A Lawnscaping Challenge Card

Hello! Today I wanted to quickly share the card I made for this week's Lawnscaping Challenge! 


This card is mostly out of my usual style. I don't usually do a distressed, inky, soft background like this. It was very fun to stretch my fingers.....so to speak ; )

I stamped flowers from this LF set on a white background, masked them off, then covered the rest with a couple of Distress Ink colors. While it was still wet I flicked a little water on it and sprayed it with Mr. Huey's Calico Shine. I wasn't sure what the colors would look like so I waited until it dried before I picked out the flower colors. I kind of love the way the woodgrain paper base adds texture.

The sentiment I used is actually from Simons Say Stamp, just because I didn't have a LF one that matched the occasion. I stamped it with StazOn ink onto sticky canvas and die cut.

Thanks for stopping by! I'll come back later today to link up the products, gotta run!

Michelle
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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Party Like A Rockstar-Mama Elephant Card

Hey party people! I wanted to share a card I made for a challenge on the Mama Elephant blog. Here's the inspiration photo (which links you back to their site:

That is a beautiful living room, right? I love all the white with the pops of color-although in real life I would never never have a white couch, lol.

Here's my card:




Sorry these pictures are a little dark, it's been super cloudy here all week. On another note, I am in love with this color combination. Pink is one of my favorite colors, and I LOVE the way it looks with gold right now! This card was pretty easy to put together, the only tricky part was layering the balloon stamps. I love it when something so pretty comes together so easily! 

supplies: stamps: Good Times , Black Staz On ink, washi tape: Michael's, gold ribbon: American Crafts, markers

Thanks for stopping by! 
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Envelope Gift Tags- ABlog Named Hero Challenge


Hello again, I'm in the middle of a creative mojo flow...and I'm going with it. I needed to make a couple of back to school gifts for a couple of my favorite peeps, and I found this challenge on the A Blog Named Hero blog. The theme is 'Reduce, Reuse, Recycle'. I've had this idea in my head for a while. A way to make a cheap and easy shaker card filled with fun confetti! 

If you are like me you have 45231000 envelopes that come with your monthly bills, you know, the ones that you used to use when you....wrote a check?? Remember those? I decided to recycle a couple into a set of gift tags. I used StazOn ink to stamp out my phrases, added a bunch of confetti and sequins, then folded over the top with washi tape and secured with stitching (note: sewing thru washi tape will probably get my needle all gummy and I will have to throw it away.....)



Here's how it looks with my niece's goodies! You know, the essentials- cool pens and sugar ; )

supplies: Hero Arts Stamps #1 and #2, black StazOn, KP letter stickers, washi tape #1, #2, #3, bag from Target,
BLOG NAMED HERO website

Thanks for stopping by and happy Back To School week! 

Michelle
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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Happily Ever After-Lawn Fawn Card (a sort of one layer card)

Hey y'all!

I have been busy, busy lately....I really need to slow down a little. Get back to blogging and share what I've been up to. One tiny thing I have been into is getting ready for a wedding! One of my girlfriends is getting married and it's officially the time-showers, bachelorette parties.....it's a rough life ; ) 

I wanted to share a card I made for her shower gift. I got my inspiration from the current challenge over at Lawnscaping Challenges #63: a one layer card. OK, so maybe 'make a one layer card' is not a real inspirational launching pad, right? But a funny thing happened. I had this idea to do a fairy tale, animation style love card. It's like this image that's been floating around in my head for a while. I actually made 2 one layer cards before this one, and they both were....ahem...kind of lame. I went back to the fairy tale idea and came up with the design below.  I loved it! the white background, pops of bright colors, flowers floating in the air and a banner proclaiming that the couple will live happily ever after. I heard birds chirping and music playing....then....I spilled iced coffee on the back. Ahem. Instead of starting from scratch I cut the front off and mounted it on a white base, so it's almost  one layer card. Forgive me? OK, thanks.

 

I'm seriously in love with this look, it's kind of the perfect marriage of fun/bright with graphic and modern, at least to me.
Supplies: stamps: Lawn Fawn-Flutter By, Bannerific,Blissful Bontanicals,Happily Ever After , Black StazOn ink, markers, enamel dots, markers
Just a quick post, today-be back soon! 

Michelle