Monday, July 27, 2015

New Home, New Pest

Let's chat briefly about pest and your home!

When you started to build your home, did you ever think about the homes you could destroy in the process?  I sure did not, but I will never forget again.  

Here is a quick summary of what happens.  When your home is being constructed and there are multiple days of pounding, digging, cutting, and caving going on, the little critters in the ground, who has found and built homes are being disturbed the entire time. 

We have now been in our home for nearly eight months, and there were no sightings of bugs until they started building the row of townhomes behind us.  OH MY GOSH...first, let me explain to you my issue.  I can not do spiders.  I hate them, they probably hate me back, but we need to be able to hate each other from afar.  I seriously freak the freak out!  It's almost like something comes over me and I can't think, speak, blink, breathe, or comprehend!  I'm pretty sure professional help is much needed at this point.  So imagine coming down to the lower level on three different occasions to wolf spiders.  YES, three wolf spiders within a month.  I did not go into the man cave alone for a little while.  

Although we had not seen anymore since the three amigos came to visit, we agreed that pest control would be good at this point.  A company, by the name of Alterra stopped by our home and after we did our research and read reviews (thank you yelp), we Said Yes to the Pest (control) and they were out the very next day.  When bugs of any sort are up for discussion, it's important to remember that even if you aren't afraid of them, they could be harmful to you and your family (including pets).  I am sure they have their benefits, but they also bite, crawl into nose and ear openings, and they are not the cutest little things.  I feel like if you are a bug and your environment is outside, I will not invade or disturb you or your home (on purpose).  However, if you enter my home, you are now out of YOUR environment and all bets are off.  Not joking!  I will spray anything I can get my hands on to destroy you.  

I would suggest that if you do not already have a plan for pest control, please consider one.  They live in attics too (places we don't tend to visit on a regular).  Also, as the seasons come and go, so will the bugs.  They need warmth for the winter months, so now would be a great time to get ahead of them.

As I mentioned, we went with Alterra for our pest control needs.  The guy was very professional and told us exactly how he would attack the house.  He asked us if there were any spaces we did not want treated and after a firm "NO", he started on the lower level and worked his way upstairs, ending outside.  Their treatment is not harmful to humans or pets (as we do have a little yorkie), but he told us to keep him away from the product for about 30 minutes.  Do your research on your pest control company.  In our community, Alterra is known for being pushy with the sales tactics.  We did not have this experience, but everyone is not the same.  Do what's best for you and your home.  Make sure you have some type of guarantee and call-back service if you were to see a little critter on a Tuesday morning!  We liked what they offered, the price point was good, and the reviews were favorable.    

Are you as afraid of bugs as I am?  Please don't tell me I am the only one!  Perhaps you faced your fears and can share with me how you did it???    


Thursday, July 16, 2015

Finishing Our Garage: Episode 3 (the door)

Today on Finishing Our Garage, it's all about the garage door and switch replacement.  We painted our garage door early on when we had the rest of the house painted.  Check out this post on what was done then.  For a door with such a simple responsibility, I have changed the "hello" sign three freakin' times (black, white, now red)!  You gotta love Etsy right?

L: Original type switch 

R: Legrand replacement (with night light on)

Why did we change the garage switch?
One thing on our list while building was to remove as much of the builder grade items as possible...this included the light switches.  I talk here about the switch changes made inside the home.  We wanted to continue this in the garage as well, so we changed out the regular switch to Adorne by Legrand switches.  Although Lutron's are mostly inside (for use with the Savant System), Legrand is another great option for switches and dimmers.  The good thing about Legrand is you can switch the paddle and/or wall plates whenever you like.  If you change the color of the walls, simply buy yourself another wall plate and BAM!  The plates snap on and off so it is super easy for us ladies to do alone!  And you can find these in stores like Home Depot and Lowe's which is great when you don't wish to wait for shipping. 

Here is the switch and accessory we placed in the garage:
Adorne Night light
A red wall plate was the color we wanted, and Home Depot had it in stock.  My husband installed the plate and the night light using the easy-to-follow directions.  This accessory provides a small little light underneath the switch.  You can even control how bright or dim you want the light just by waving your finger underneath.  They sell everything you need and you can add or not add, and still have a very custom-looking and functional switch.

Door trim
I love the idea of painting trim throughout the house, but I do not want to do it in the house just yet.  So I figured I could "play" with the garage space and not feel bad if I messed it up.  Since the walls are now gray, we both decided red would be a great color for the door trim.  I've always had a love for red, but this inspiration actually came from a dust pan recently purchased at Crate and Barrel.  It was the perfect red and instantly fell in love with it because it matched the Legrand wall plate so well.  I simply popped off the wall plate, took it to Home Depot and she scanned it on their spectrophotometer to give me the best matched color for the trim.  Most paint stores have these devices.  You can take anything and have it matched.  This tool reads wavelengths of reflected light and computerize the color measurements.  It may not be exact but it will super close to the natural eye.  It takes a quick second for them to get the measurements they need.  They pop those number in the paint color maker machine (not the real technical name at all), and within minutes, you have your custom color.
Home Depot Paint Center - custom red color being made
Home Depot: selecting the right paint
Behr Marquee
Our Behr Marquee color

I only needed a quart, so I went with Behr Marquee One Coat Color paint.  If you are painting with a really colored paint, be sure to get one of the better coating ones.  This will prevent you from having to do multiple coats.  Remember, the more coloring in your paint, the thinner the paint.  The thinner the paint, the more coats you will need.  

Everything turned out great and we love it!  I should also mentioned that I painted the garage door wiring to match the wall since it was stark white!  Using a tiny amount of paint with a small paint brush (and a ladder) to make it not stand out so much!   

Final garage door #love



Painting Discount Just For YOU!

Liberty Painting Co.
Happy Thursday! 

Many of you know that we had our entire house painted shortly after moving in for a couple of reasons: 1) We thought it would be easier to get things painted before we ordered furniture and 2) We were not mentally able to look at the builder grade walls much longer.  You can see our painting choices and read more here.  

Liberty Painting Co. and I have some great news to share with all of YOU!  If you live in the DMV area and are looking to have your entire home painted, they are offering a 10% discount on these services to my readers.  All you have to do is mention my name ("Eboni") when obtaining your quote, and 10% will be deducted from your whole house painting estimate.  Saaaayyy Whaaaa???

The team at Liberty Painting Co. are great to work with.  We found them to be efficient, friendly, have the best prices in the area, and most importantly deliver a great quality of work.  They covered everything and cleaned thoroughly before leaving!  We purchased our own paint and just had them do all the work.  During your quote, they will tell you how much paint you will need for a particular room and the best finishes for a particular area so you're not left guessing!  

I am so excited to have a little 'gift' to share with you all.  You all know I love to save a buck or two when I can, so I had to look out for you too!  Be sure to share those pictures of your painted walls when they are done.  I would LOVE to see them!

Thanks again to Liberty Painting Co, for supporting my readers!  

Happy Painting

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Finishing Our Garage: Episode 2 (the walls)

Our garage before
In this episode of Finishing Our Garage...let's talk walls!  

Here is a picture of what we started with.  As you can see it was a...well...a garage.  There was nothing wrong with it, we just wanted to have a little fun with the space!

To start, we had to decide if we wanted to DIY the mudding (application of joint compound) or find someone who would tackle that for us.  This can be a very messy process, but can totally be a DIY.  Ultimately, our decision was to find a handy man who could do this with his eyes closed, as opposed to us taking all weekend just to figure it out.  If you decided to DIY, make sure you have adequate ventilation and something to capture all the dust, because there will be lots of sanding in this project. 

We found our guys (it was a team of four) and they began work early in the morning and finished early evening.  

Without being too boring, our process was as follows:
  • Application of joint compound (not the premixed, although it can be used for this task)
  • Sanding 
  • Painting the walls
  • Painting the ceiling
  • Clean-up
They applied 2-3 coats of the joint compound, allowing it to dry then sanding between every coat.  The main thing is to make sure the walls appear uniform.  There is an additional step called skim coating (which we did not do).  Applying the skim coat will ensure that your wall surface is very smooth and ultra uniform.  You remember in my first post where I mentioned turning my eye to some things?  Yep, this is one.  This was one step we thought we could skip because we would be covering the walls with some sort of storage solution.  So...who would see our oh-so-perfect walls?  No one...not even us!  I have a picture below that will show you the imperfections.  I should also note that adding the skim coat would have been an additional charge, but not sure how much so be sure to ask for full pricing if you are hiring a crew.     

Paint selections
We went to Dunkin' Donuts (which has become a norm for our contractors) to grab them some donuts and coffee and they got started right after their first round.  We let them work and checked on them periodically.  Our paint for the walls and ceiling all came from Home Depot, and was purchased a few days before.  The ceiling paint is Behr Premium Plus Interior Ceiling Flat in the color Ultra Pure White, and the walls are Behr Ultra, satin finish, in the color Arabian Veil.

It was an all day job, and to complete the process, we just had to let it dry.  We left the garage up for a few extra hours to allow this to happen and the finished product was just what we wanted!

Imperfection on walls
As you can see (and you may have to tilt your head a little depending on your view) there is a square-ish structure showing through the painted walls.  We have a few of these throughout the garage.  If you apply the skim coat, these will magically disappear because you will have more compound on the walls, making them smoother once sanded.  

Overall, we loved how it turned out and we were happy we decided to let the pros do it.  They are always so appreciative and we appreciate them as well!  

Next up, we added a pop of color to the garage door!  I am really proud of it because I actually did it!  #BabySteps 

Our garage after

Before and After


Friday, July 10, 2015

Finishing Our Garage: Episode 1

Garage picture before
I am sure this post will turn into its own little series, because there are so many steps we have to take before it is fully complete.

Let me welcome you to the garage: a place that will be mostly used to house a car or two...but someone (quietly raising my hand)  wanted this space to be an extension of the home.  The best way we thought to make this happen is by adding some life to it with a little color and some cool finishes.  Don't get me's still a garage and as much as I am a perfectionist, I will turn my eye to some things. Basically, our garage will be perfectly imperfect!  Over the next few weeks (maybe even months), we will be adding a little here and there until we are all done!

Here is a current list of "things to do":
  • Finishing the walls
  • Finishing the floors
  • Painting the garage walls
  • Adding a pop of color (red)
  • Changing the standard lights to recessed lights
  • Changing the light switch
  • Adding a nightlight to the light switch 
  • Installing some shelving/storage system
  • Adding a garage slop sink
  • Adding durable floor molding 
Our neighbors are so awesome!  They always seem to come by in the midst of us working.  It gives us a moment to not only meet new neighbors (even though we're all sweaty), but to also share details about our garage.  We love sharing info with people so it's a win for all!  Hopefully, they can learn from our mishaps and save the time and effort.  Be sure to check back periodically for all things garage!  

Question for you all: how do you feel about that ugly foam insulation in the garage between the drywall and concrete?  Does this bother you as much as it bothers me?  It's not the end of the world, but it's just so unappealing, yet necessary!  Operation cover-that-stuff-up starting soon!  LOL   

Garage foam insulation


Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Hey July, Nice To See You Again!

July is finally here and I am super excited...why?  Because it's my birthday month and I love to celebrate all month long (even though my day is not until the very end of the month)!  HAHAHA  You know when you wake up to tons of birthday freebies and discounts from restaurants and stores, it's going to be a great month!  To make it count, I will put my savings into house projects!!!  

Seriously, I have to tell you all that we are planning (notice the word 'planning') to complete a few projects this month.  I want to make this month really count so I hope to complete all of these.   

Here is a list of planned projects (taken from my master to-do list that is just ridiculously too long to share):

  • Finish the garage (walls and lighting are done, but we have to do the flooring, do some patching and minor painting, and finish the storage solution)
  • Add recessed lighting in the master bedroom
  • Add ceiling fan and sconces to master bedroom
  • Add accent wall to 3rd bedroom
  • Change out the builder provided chandelier in the dining room
  • Change out the builder provided pendant lighting over the kitchen island
  • Buy more furniture (this will be monthly until we get the place fully furnished)  
Now...there are several projects on hold because my lovely husband is taking a wood working class this month, and has convinced me that he will be able to complete the projects requiring wood work.  One of these projects is the laundry room.  We requested no builder-grade wire shelving be placed in the laundry room.  This means I keep buying stuff, like decor and storage bins, and stacking it up because I do not have shelving in there yet.  I will make sure to keep you posted on that.  It should be interesting... :-)

How are you all doing?  Any projects planned or completed?  What about all the people getting ready to settle...are you super excited? 

If there are any other July birthdays out there, HAPPIEST birthday to you!