Just in time!

We did it!  We made our first big investment in our home!

When we purchased the house, we inherited an ancient oil heating system that was working but well past its normal life expectancy.  Our home inspector told us that systems like ours usually lasted about 25 years, and our was original to the house (so, closer to 60 years).  Because it was so old, it was estimated to be working at around 60% efficiency.  Coupling the inefficiency with the fact that oil is so expensive, we knew making a change would be an immediate necessity.

If you need a visual of how old the system was, check out the image of this totally not creepy child on the plaque on the system’s humidifier:

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Enough said.

We heard about the MassSave program and learned that they offer 7-year, 0% interest loans to qualifying homeowners for energy-efficient upgrades.  The process was long and had many steps, including a MassSave audit, having National Grid run the gas line to the house, getting quotes from HVAC companies, etc.  However, after a nearly two-month long process, we have finally converted our heating system to gas.

Additionally, we decided to add central air to the house, which was a pretty exciting bonus.  The house already has forced hot air heat, so the necessary duct work was in place.  Because we decided to install a MassSave-approved air conditioner unit, we were able to lump it into the loan, which made the decision even easier.

So, without further ado, let’s take a look at some before and after pictures!

Heating system before:

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Heating system after!:

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Here is the central air conditioning system (or lack there of) before:

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…and the air conditioning system after!:

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We could not be more thrilled with our decision to update our heating and cooling systems and convert our house to natural gas.  It wasn’t a fast process (two months later…) and it certainly wasn’t fun getting through a freezing October with no heat, but I think it was completely worth it.

We still have this monster to get rid of… :

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But luckily, that will be our last and final step!  We just have to make a call to a licensed removal company and they’ll take it apart and get it out for us.

The process certainly wasn’t cheap, but we determined that based on the heating system alone, the conversion would pay for itself in about three years.  The air conditioning unit is somewhat of an added expense, however the new system will be far more efficient than the window units we used this past summer.  All in all, we couldn’t be happier with our decision!

You, too, can spray paint your door knobs.

When I last posted about our downstairs hallway update, I told you that we spray painted our mismatched brass doorknobs with oil-rubbed bronze spray paint.  Although I’m sure it’s not rocket science, I figured I’d show my process in case anyone is looking for a cheap, easy way of updating hardware.

First, you need to remove your door knobs:

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It’s not hard, just unscrew the two screws at the base of the knob.  Then, you’re left with these 4 pieces:

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I left that part in there.  No need to over-complicate things.

Once all of your door knobs are off the doors, stick them in a piece of Styrofoam.  Also, this part is very important.  LABEL the door knobs and all of the screws.  Do NOT assume you will remember which knob goes where, because you probably won’t (you’ve been warned).

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I used a piece of painter’s tape to cover up my labels, just in case there was a lot of over spray from the spray paint:

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Then, it’s a good idea to go over each door knob with some fine sand paper to give the paint something to stick to.  I focused mainly on the parts where your hand would touch when using the knob:

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Then finally comes the fun part – spray painting!  I used Rustoleum Universal Metallic in Oil Rubbed Bronze.  It was about $7 for the can (a little pricy for spray paint), but it went on very smoothly.  I’d recommend it.

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And then, after many many very light coats…

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I was a little concerned about the knobs sticking, but they still turn just like before.  And I haven’t had any problems with chipping or scratching with normal use.  I did let them cure for a few days before reinstalling them in the doors, and I think that helped a lot.

So finally, here is the before our our upstairs hallway:

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And how it looks now!

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That rug REALLY needs to go, and we need some art on the walls, but I’m pretty pleased with how it’s coming along.  I know it’s just a hallway, but I’m happy that it’s looking cleaner and more finished.  Again, the walls are Benjamin Moore’s Ashley Gray and the trim and doors are Clark and Kensington’s Silent White.

Adventures in Tiling

I’ve been meaning to post these pictures of our kitchen back splash update for way too long now.  A few weeks back, we spent the weekend teaching ourselves how to tile and attacking a new project.  I’ve always loved the clean look of white subway tile, and (bonus!) we found out it’s insanely cheap.  Like $17.40/10 square feet cheap, and we only needed about 15 square feet for our small area.  The supplies we needed to complete the project (mortar, grout, sealant, etc.) were actually a much larger part of the cost.  I’m not exactly sure how much the whole project cost us, but I know it was well under $100 (probably closer to $60) and only took a weekend of our time.  Awesome!

First, here are some before shots:

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We organized our supplies and got started:

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There was a bit of a learning curve, but once we figured out our system things moved along pretty quickly.  I did most of the mortaring (is that a word?) and tile-placing, and the husband cut tiles for the small spaces where full tiles wouldn’t fit.

After a Saturday and Sunday of tiling, we were left with this!

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We still have a ways to go before I’d consider this kitchen done.  When we bought the house it was missing the cabinet doors above the stove and to the left of the stove (no idea why…) so we need to figure out a solution to that which might mean calling a cabinet-maker.  We aren’t really sure what to do at the moment, but it’s absolutely on our list.  I’d love to get a stainless dishwasher and a stainless gas stove as well, but that’s not going to happen while these two are still in fine working order!

I guess it’s easy to always see the things we’d still like to accomplish.  However, the back splash was a big step in the right direction and I really love how much more finished it looks now.  What do you think?

Hope you had a lovely weekend!

Miscellany

I have a few very random updates and photos for you, so I thought I’d just put them all in one post.

First, this is why when my husband asks “Erika, do we REALLY need to repaint the ceilings?”, the answer is YES.  Yes we do.  Gross (worse in person).DSC_0146

Second, our dining room was needing a new fall centerpiece, so here it is!  I love the silk flowers at Jo Ann’s.

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What else?  Oh, I switched up the window box flowers outside.

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And I put a fall wreath on the door…

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And finally, I happened upon some farm animals when I was driving around.  Here are a few of the pictures I took…

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I haven’t forgotten that I owe you pictures of our tiled kitchen back splash and our living room…if I can get my act together I’ll take some pictures tomorrow and get them up here!

Have a great weekend!

The Evolution of a Hallway

We’ve lived in this house for just over 2 months now, and I’m already on to my second coat of paint on our downstairs hallway.  The color we painted it (Behr – Heavy Cream) was reading way too yellow in the space and it bugged me constantly.  Then, after we painted the doors and trim from their original dark wood stain to bright white, the hallway looked too washed out.  It was making me crazy.  So, here we have it as it looks now (first with the light on, then with it off):

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We went with a MUCH darker shade that coordinated with the living room color (updates on that to come!).  The new color is called Ashley Gray and it’s a Benjamin Moore color.  Can we PLEASE talk about what a misnomer that is?  I don’t think anyone would look at that color and say “Wow, that is one gray wall.”  Ashley Brown, maybe, but definitely not gray.  But I digress.  Back to the hall way progress.  Here’s a little trip down downstairs-hallway-memory-lane:

Here it is, the day we moved in:

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Then, the walls went Heavy Cream:

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Next, the doors got a paint job:

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And finally, here we are today:

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OH – If you’re particularly observant, you might have noticed that the door knobs went from mismatched pewter/shiny brass/old brass to a nice oil rubbed bronze.  I removed the door knobs, brought them outside, and hit them all with a bunch of coats of oil rubbed bronze spray paint.  I wasn’t sure how well they would turn out, but I hated them enough to give it a shot.  Turns out, spray paint works AWESOME on door knobs!  No chipping or scuffing or anything.  When I do the upstairs I’ll be sure to document the process a little better.

Ok, sorry for the LONGEST HALLWAY POST ever.  If you’ve made it this far, thank you.  If you nodded off earlier, my apologies.

Weeds can be pretty, too!

The other day I took my camera for a walk down to the pond by our house.  At first glance, it doesn’t seem like there are any flowers around, but when you look close there are lots of pretty flowering weeds.  Here are a few of my shots:

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Enjoy!