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Our Kitchen Renovation - Should we do an Addition?

By Lauren Kolazas

Our Kitchen Renovation - Should we do an Addition?

We bought our home 3.5 years ago and I thought we would renovate the kitchen within 6 months of moving in.  Well, that was 3.5 years ago and for a variety of reasons we are just now getting to the renovation.  I am so glad that we weren’t able to do the kitchen right away because the plan is completely different from what I wanted initially.  The kitchen is the biggest problem area of our house though, so I’m thrilled that things are finally happening.

When we first moved in my kids were 1.5 and 3.5 and the home was twice the size of our previous townhouse.  So it felt huge initially!  But the kitchen, as you can see, was always lacking.  Obviously, it needs a cosmetic face lift but in addition there is very little counter space, especially when cooking a large meal or putting food out when entertaining.  The space is cramped and there is not an easy way to access the back yard.  At first I was thrilled with all of the space and thought that just creating a peninsula between the kitchen and dining room and removing the wall separating the two would be sufficient to make it feel more spacious and open.  Over time I began to realize that there were other problems that a peninsula could not solve.

KITCHEN WITH PENINSULA OPTION - STILL ENDED UP BEING TOO SMALL

So what changed?  So many things.  First, my kids got bigger and I could envision things being really tight in there as they get even bigger.  Second, we like to have people over a lot.  We have out of town family and so it’s great when they can come and visit but having just one or two more people in our kitchen makes it unbearable.  Third, we love our neighborhood more than we expected to.  I thought this would be a 5 year house initially but we really lucked out in the neighbor department.  Our whole street has turned over in the last 5 years with 12 (YES TWELVE!!!!) young families on the block.  Our kids have about 20 kids to play with right in our little cul-de-sac and we love all of the parents too.  So, thinking about staying here longer than the original 5 years seems really appealing.  

The end result was, if we needed a bigger kitchen, more counter space and want to stay in the home long term we need to add on to the house.  Just doing the peninsula and taking down a wall would still cost a lot of money and eventually we knew it would feel too small and we would have to do it again or move.  We wanted to give ourselves the option to stay here long term.  So ultimately, we scrapped our original plans to just take down the wall between the dining room and kitchen and decided to add 8 feet onto the back.

This allows us to have many of the things we REALLY wanted in a home but just couldn’t make happen with the original foot print of our house.  We wanted an island where the boys can eat and do homework.  A BIG ISLAND.  We wanted the space between the dining room and kitchen to be completely open so we can easily entertain in those spaces.  We wanted a large window looking out onto the back yard with a big sink.  I really wanted some built in cabinets that gave me a china cabinet feel in the kitchen.  We also wanted a door to the back yard from the kitchen so dirty little feet are not trecking through our living room and we can easily get out to our patio & grill directly from the kitchen.

With the addition we are able to have everything we want!  Yes, it has ended up being much more expensive (about twice as much) as the original kitchen plan would have been.  But it’s going to increase the value of our home by at least what we will pay for the kitchen, give us many more options regarding whether we stay here or move down the road and we are going to really really enjoy it.

We took out a home equity line of credit to pay for the additional expense.  This is a line of credit that is based upon how much equity you have in your home.  Luckily for us the home values in our area have sky rocketed since we moved in so we were able to get a line of credit very easily.  Also, the interest you pay is tax deductible if you use the money for home improvements which is all we will use it for.  Yes, there are some who would wait and save cash to pay for the whole thing but that was too far off for us and this is the next best option.

The next step was finalizing the plan with an architect and then the really fun part - picking out the cabinets, countertops, flooring etc!!  This whole process has been a dream come true for me!  Stay tuned for more details on how the whole plan came together and what we did to survive a kitchen reno with kids.

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Wool Dryer Balls - What are they for and why you need them!

By Lauren Kolazas

Wool Dryer Balls - What are they for and why you need them!

What are wool dryer balls and why do you need them?!  

So what are they?!  Dryer balls are about the size of a tennis ball and are made of 100% wool.  They serve many purposes.  Dryer balls help your clothes dry more quickly by separating your laundry in the dryer, creating more space and therefore more air between the clothes.  This saves time, energy and money over time.

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OFFICE/GUEST BEDROOM

By parrylane Admin

OFFICE/GUEST BEDROOM

This room was quite possibly one of the most important to get organized but required digging through a HUGE pile of paperwork.  This pile was actually packed up and moved from our old house where it sat on my desk for 18 months.  Nothing is more discouraging than walking into your office and facing unorganized paperwork.  It was on my to do list for over a year and I just couldn't seem to motivate myself to deal with it.

We have also been using this as our guest room so all of our family and friends had to put their things on the floor because there was NO room for anything on the desk.  Only my crazy pile of paper.  Unpaid parking tickets, utility bills, unframed family photos - oh and taxes.  Yeah, talk about the perfect recipe for procrastination.

I was having a lot of trouble finding inspiration.  I had the main pieces of furniture in place but was lost as far as where to go with decor.  If you've been reading my blog you already know I love to start by incorporating what I already own.  I'm not someone who is going to go out and buy everything brand new.  So we had the Ikea day bed, my old desk/file cabinet from the townhouse and my parents 1970's media cabinet that has now become my desk.

Then lightening struck.  And it all started with this awesome rug.  It's the Navy Geometric Woven Are Rug from PoshRug.com and it gave me the inspiration I had been looking for.  I love the simple, modern, organic design and it made me think of California and that cool Bohemian style I love so much.  This is my office and where i spend a great deal of time as well as where i meditate and spend time dreaming, planning and creating.  So, I ordered the rug, it came super fast, perfectly packaged and exactly what I had expected from the pics online.  So I was off and running......to Home Goods and Target.

Once I had the rug in place I focused on the day bed.  Previously I had a comforter and pillows so it looked like an actual bed.  But I wanted a place to sit and read and that didn't look so much like a bed in my office.  I pinned a million pictures of bohemian-style day beds and went out to find pillows.  The nice part when looking to create this style is that the pillows without partners are substantially less expensive than those that come in pairs.  I got all of these at HomeGoods, mostly in the clearance section over the course of a month.  I was looking for organic patterns and woven textures.

Next was the cover for the day bed.  I looked all over and finally found this one at World Market which is another one of my favorites for home decor.  It ended up being perfect and exactly what I was going for.  Now the day bed looks like a cool bohemian sofa but easily transitions into a kind sized bed for guests!

The art.  I have my Aunt's print that I believe she did in college, my good friend Margo's photography of the Fairy Godmother, one of my favorite calligraphy prints from Etsy, a painting done by my GG and a cute modern art piece ordered online of our cat George Michael.  Over the bed is a piece of Marimekko fabric from Crate & Barrel.  

The chair is the Eames Eiffel chair that I've been wanting for so long.  The lamp and document storage containers are from Target.  I dip dyed the Ikea curtains about a year ago and they look MUCH better in this room than they did in our bedroom which is a bit more traditional.  

I'm so thrilled with my new little creative sanctuary/napping spot.  If you want more info about the rug check out PoshRug.com and please use the code parrylane at check out to receive a 20% discount.  Happy shopping!!

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MASTER BEDROOM

By parrylane Admin

MASTER BEDROOM

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STELLAN'S ROOM

By parrylane Admin

STELLAN'S ROOM

Stellan's room was slightly more difficult to decorate than Ollie's for the simple fact that he had an opinion.  Stellan was 3.5 when we moved and expressed his desire for a transformer room in red, white and blue.  When your cute little baby asks for something so adorable your only choice is to oblige but, I aimed to do so in a non-cheesy way.  

The hardest part is starting.  And you have to start with something.  The easiest thing to start with is what you already have.  Originally we had his toddler bed, an ikea dresser and an Ikea toy bin.  The blinds were left behind by the previous owners and knowing how much custom blinds cost we left them in place.

WHAT WE DID:

ART: My husband was all over the transformer theme and was able to find and print the artsy transformer prints at his office.  I grabbed the gray Ribba frames from Ikea.  They are not perfectly hung because I don't measure when hanging art work but, they are perfect enough.  We also hung a sketch we had done of Stellan at a Nationals game and then I picked up a vintage world map at the beach.  Only later did I realize vintage maps are not the best option when teaching your son about geography.  They are pretty though.  Priorities.   

RUG: The acquisition of this rug was a serendipitous moment.  My sister had come to visit and we were doing a little late night shopping at Target.  I was checking out prices on some others when she approached me with this rug.  No price tag.  It was Nate Berkus and I didn't want to go through the trouble of finding out it was still full price.  But, Robin always goes the extra mile and came back bright eyed, mouthing $37!!  Say what?!  Aside from the fact it's a goreous 5x8 rug in a cool modern/organic pattern in blue and white the pattern almost creates the transformer symbol.  See how the stars aligned here??  SOLD.  (below is a great alternative to the rug we bought which is no longer in Target stores)

FURNITURE: We were discussing the fact that Stellan was getting kind of big for his toddler bed and more importantly, that the little crib looked kind of funny in his new big room with my parents one weekend.  I should have known what was coming next since my parents keep EVERYTHING.  My stepdad still had his childhood bed in the attic.  He brought it down, wiped it off and voila!  It was a perfect simple mid-century style I love and was in great condition.  

Now my little man needed a side table.  I trekked back to Ikea for this and was about to purchase a subpar white side table when I saw this one in the as-is section.  Now, I am always drawn to this section and usually find it to be a disappointment.  But this table was in perfect condition and half it's usual price.  

Next, my kiddos need a place to read their night time story with Daddy.  I had a yellow Ikea chair that I had acquired in highschool.  It had been to college with me and several more apartments and townhomes before arriving here.  It was faded yellow.  Picked up the bright red slip cover for $30 at Ikea and we were back in business.  The legs are a little wobbly but, my kids are going to destroy it so its' all good.  

We included our Ikea Trofast storage for lego storage and this past Christmas made his Ikea play table into a Lego table by gluing Lego pads to the surface.  He loves it and spends much more quiet time playing in his room than before.  

BEDDING: I found these adorable twin-bed flannel sheets before we even moved to this house or had room for a single bed.  But, they were $7 a set on sale and I knew we would need them eventually.  The rest of the bedding, which I alternate is from Ikea.  We have the alphabet pattern and white bedding with a simple gray stripe for our more refined days.

WINDOW TREATMENTS: I was able to find the curtains and curtain rods at Target.  The rods gave a similar look to the DIY galvanized pipe curtain rods I hoped to make but, realistically would never have time for.  Our babysitter found the curtains, also from Target after I had brought home 6 different options that did NOT work.  I think I had seen them there on 10 different occasions but, didn't realize how well they would work until they were in our space.

Stellan loves his big boy room and I've got to say I absolutely love it too.  I stand in there sometimes just taking in how cute it is and how we managed to capture all of his interests and personality.  He loves taking his friends and family up to see his room and have a little lego building sesh. 

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OLIVER'S ROOM

By parrylane Admin

OLIVER'S ROOM

Ollie's room!  We were so happy to have a room for Oliver in the new place.  AND, this was the easiest room to decorate because this was Stellan's nursery decor.  In addition the room was small so there wasn't too much to do.  So, once we ripped out the closet, drywalled the opening to our bedroom and painted it was time for the fun stuff.

One of my favorite things about Ollie's room is the artwork.  Andreas and I purchased canvases from Michael's while I was pregnant with Stellan and created these three pieces of art.  I am obsessed with Dwell nursery decor and  was able to get a few things but, most was not within our budget.  So for $15 or so we created some really cute pieces of art.  We stenciled the designs on canvases and then painted.  Voila.

Another item I will probably hold onto until the end of time is this book bin decorated by my little sister and given to me at my baby shower.  She literally found an old box in my parents basement and painted it with the Dwell images I liked.  It's really versatile.  We are currently using it for books and it's great because Ollie can access his books and they are easy for him to put away too. 

Speaking of my sister Becca, this was the rocker my Mom had when she was born (12 years after me!).  I knew I wanted the rocker and ottoman as soon as I started thinking about nursery decor.  But the fabric was a real 90's pattern and color so we picked up this fabric at Ikea and had it reupholstered for $80.  The side table is Target.  The lamp is a gem that I found in a client's garage.  I was able to purchase the pair for $50 and update them with white pleated Threshold by Target lamp shades.  

Here is Ollie's cozy crib!  Another Ikea item.  We purchased it second hand on craigs list when we had TWO KIDS IN CRIBS!  But, it went by fast and since Ollie is climbing out of his crib at least once a day I think we will soon have no cribs :(  I love the gray and white chevron bedding.  This was a cheap purchase on Amazon.  The comforter was something my Mom picked up and it's accented with our favorite Pottery Barn Kids cozy stroller blanket.

One of my favorite things about Oliver's room is the vintage school house light fixture.  When we bought the home it had a HUGE brass chandelier and I could barely sleep knowing it was in there.  I found this beauty on Etsy.  It is much smaller than I thought it would be but, goes great with the room and provides enough light given that the room itself is pretty small.  I may relocate into a hallway eventually but for now it's perfect.  I also found the window valance on my favorite Groopdealz website.  

Last but not least is the baby art I created for Oliver while pregnant.  I did the same for Stellan as well as my niece using their 12 week ultrasound photos.  I blew up the photos, printed them and then used them as a stencil.  Then created the collage with origami mesh.  I LOVE these and hope my kids will love them one day too.  I still owe my nephew one - it's coming Niels!

SHOP OLLIE'S ROOM:

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PRE-MOVING DAY ESSENTIALS

By parrylane Admin

PRE-MOVING DAY ESSENTIALS

We got the house!  Yaaaay!  Now we had approximately 30 days complete home inspection, negotiations, the financing process, settlement, pack and move.  I also had the added pressure of figuring out which essential home improvement projects HAD to happen before we moved in.  This included weighing the costs, time constraints of our move-in date and my decision making capacity.  Here we go again.

One bonus project I hadn't anticipated being able to do right away was our roof.  Our inspector is the awesome kind that climbs up into the attic and also onto the roof to look for any potential issues.  What did he find?  A trash can set up in the attic catching rain water from a fairly serious leak.  The average person sees disaster.  I see potential to negotiate.  So, yes, we ended up getting a new roof with our contractor of choice and shingle of choice prior to settlement.  

So, here's where things get tricky.  If you are planning on refinishing your floors and also painting the painting should be done first.  But, the painting was going to take at least two weeks and then we needed another week or so to have the floors done and to also allow the house to air out from the fumes.  We decided our schedule was more important and decided to have the floors done first. 

We hired a crew, signed the paperwork, were able to pay with a credit card and choose our stain from a 1"x2" square???  A 1"x2" square??  How am I supposed to make one of the most important decisions of my life based upon the appeal of this tiny square??  The contractor could see the fear in my eyes and agreed to do a few samples on the actual floor before I selected something.  Phew!  I visited the house while the floors were being done and it is NOISY, it is MESSY, it smells TOXIC and it is not something you want to do after you move in.  Trust me.  

I consider myself to be a fairly on-trend person so I was surprised when I didn't like the popular darker stains like Jacobean and Dark Walnut.  It seemed almost gray/green and I really wanted the wood grain to show through.  In my Pinterest dreams I would have had a custom stain created from Jacobean and Provincial.  But, my contractor wasn't on board for fear of not being able to recreate the perfect mixture.  So, we went with Provincial and I've gotta say, I really like it.  It's a great medium brown.  The dark floor trend won't be the trend forever and I wanted something I would like for a long time.  Happy.

Next was the issue of paint color.  The whole house needed a fresh coat of paint.  That was obvious.  Then the discussion turned to whether we could do it ourselves.  Could we?  Yes, we are able-bodied humans who can buy and use paint brushes.  BUT.  We have little kids.  So that means we have zero time to do messy projects while they are awake, let alone pack and move our entire house.  So we hired a painter to paint our entire main level as well as the kids bedrooms prior to our move-in.  It did not end up getting finished during that time but, we loved our painter and he was great to have around during the whole moving-in process.  He even put Ollie down for a nap once day!

I wanted a pale gray that was so pale it almost looked white.  If I could do it all over again I think I could have painted the whole house white but, was too scared at the time.  The first few paint colors we chose ended up not working. One was too dark and one almost looked like it was glowing.  In the end we did Irish Mist and Silver Drop by Behr.  The differences between the two are barely noticeable.  Everything is Irish Mist except the Dining Room and Oliver's Room which are Silver Drop.  

We almost left the closet in place due to indecision.  But, then we realized if we did the floors and then decided to remove the closet later we would have to refinish the floors over again.  So in an early morning panic I had our handyman run over and rip out the closet before the floor people started working later that morning.  It was money well spent because this ended up becoming Oliver's room!  See the after below.

So by ripping out the Mariah Carey closet, refinishing the floors and drywalling over the doorway into our room, we created Oliver's room and also transformed our 3 bedroom home into a 4 bedroom home.  This was actually my Grandmother's suggestion.  She felt like we should have a room for each boy, our room of course and then since we needed a guest room and office the 4 room could serve as both of those.  It's worked out perfectly.  

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THE BEFORE

By parrylane Admin

THE BEFORE

The first time we visited Parry Lane it was a cold and rainy January afternoon and we had the boys with us (3 and 18mos at the time).  We had already been to the area several times before but, had never been impressed by the online photos so we skipped this property.  The kiss of death was really that it had been sitting on the market forever so I assumed there must be something wrong. As a Realtor myself I should have known better.  Shame on me!  

I remember feeling like we were sooo far away from our more urban previous life as we pulled up to the house.  I will also never forget the brown roof, pink door and country blue shutters - what a combo! Imagine this photo but, on the most depressing east coast January day you can imagine.  Yeah, made my stomach hurt a little.

The kids ran around the staircase in the center hall over and over and over again as Andreas and I attempted to take it all in.  I was underwhelmed.  The floors had a light finish and were super super shiny - as I looked more closely there were pieces of old carpet stuck underneath! I Gross!!!! Nails from the carpet also remained around the edge of the rooms.  There was a large gold light fixture in the entrance.  Meh.

It had a formal living room which felt a little cookie-cutter suburban although I definitely appreciated the space.  This room got nice light and even had pretty nice built in shelving on either side of the entrance.  An opening had been created so it was open to the family room.  It's a nice thought but the missing wall does make arranging furniture a bit more tricky.  

OK, this is nice I thought.  I NEVER imagined I'd get a house with a gas fireplace and adorable mantle.  Visions of Instagram photos danced through my head.  The walls were a pale pink and the ceiling was purple.  I kid you not.  It had an awkward layout due to the cutout into the living room but, nice french doors that led out to the back yard.

So this is pretty nice.  We have two extremely energetic little boys and a fully fenced, flat back yard with a patio large enough for ride-on toys was unbelievably perfect.  Our townhouse had a deck with a large drop off and lots of steps in the front so it was a less than ideal place for our kiddos to play.  

 

This amazing back yard even came with a hot tub.  This was laughable for Andreas and me.  We don't consider ourselves "hot-tub people", if there is such a thing and it just seemed over the top for what we were trying to accomplish.  We still have it and still laugh about our party pad where there are no parties - or at least no hot tub parties.

 House - you're killing me with this oak laminate.  I mean, I'm not sure if there is anything worse as far as kitchen cabinets go.   You can't just paint it because it's obvious you've just painted over ugly oak laminate.  It was fairly spacious, not enough counter space but, had a cute little eat-in nook and walked out to the car port.  That was super appealing to me as I had spent countless afternoons running back and forth transporting bags of groceries and sleeping children.  Point for house.

 

Not a whole lot to complain about here.  It's a dining room with chair rail and shadow box molding.  The chandelier wasn't even too offensive and just really needed the little lampshades removed for a big improvement.  Ok, I like you dining room.  Let's head upstairs.

Woah, super spacious again.  Dressing area, walk-in closet and small master bathroom (not updated but, not terrible either).  Now, what's this wonky little pass through???  Oh, it's the entrance to the HUGE Mariah Carey closet.  That's right, they made an entire bedroom into a closet.  Which I suppose would be a bonus to some but, it made this 4 bedroom home now a 3 bedroom home.  Check it out.

 

What the what?!  The mirror you can see to the right of the window leads back to the master bedroom.  Every wall has built-in closet systems attached and there is even a closet in the closet.  We weren't really sure what to make of this. I needed an office so could I set up my desk in the middle of my closet like they had so graciously proposed with their staging??  

Good sized bedroom.  Not much to love or dislike really.  Onward.

 

This room was huge in our opinion.  Had a cute view of the back yard, a small closet, ceiling fan.  Not too shabby.

Where do I start??  So. Much. Toile.  I mean everywhere.  The wallpaper, window treatment, shower curtain.  It could make you dizzy. Or nauseous.  The floor was pretty but, everything else needed a lot of work.  Including the plastic bath fitter covering the tub and shower walls.  No offense bath fitter.  

Onto the basement - yes it has a fully finished basement with a half bath!  Ok, this is cool.  Visions of L-shaped sofas, large flat screen TV's and general basement coziness danced through our heads.  It had a staircase to the back yard, a closet, a large storage area, unfinished laundry room and a bath that we thought we could probably convert to a full bath down the road.  Again, the boys ran around and I saw the value in the space that moving a little further out from DC could provide.

So what did we decide after seeing all the suburban mediocrity that our entire life savings could buy?  First, we go into a fight.  Obviously.  Then, I had my best friend drive down immediately to give her advice.  Because that's mandatory.  Then we decided to buy it.  We wrote a low offer since it had been on the market for almost 6 months at that point (an eternity for the DC metro) and then we got really excited and really nervous. But, after one more attempt to sell it for a  better price at an open house (during an ice storm) we got it!!  And we were thrilled and still are.  I can't wait to show you how we've turned our sad little suburban Dutch Colonial into the cool, black and white, modern farmhouse I have always dreamed of!

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