30 December, 2009

Let's Go Swimming

The POOL is open. Dan the pool (table) man showed up today to refurbish our awesome vintage Brunswick Century. $350 to fully assemble everything, replace the hardware, laser level, repair and broken or work parts, and (the best part) lay down a new super sexy charcoal grey felt.

2 things to notice here: the total and utter squalor we're living in, and the fact that we care more about getting the pool table assembled than the rest of our home.

Furry. Grey. Sexy.

28 December, 2009

Bathroom Vapor Lights

You may have noticed some new lighting in the finished bathroom post. Thanks to The Expert, Peter has recently become quite proficient in wiring lighting. If you're really up for a challenge, which we are, the best time to wire lighting is after dark.  Once you turn the off the power source.

I was supposed to be aiming the flashlight at the light fixture, but this is what I was really doing while I was "helping" with the wiring:

Spray bottle spookiness. I'm so awesome.

22 December, 2009

Bathroom Bonanza pt.3

Trying to fit the modern bath style we wanted into our teeny tiny budget presented us with a giant sized conundrum. So after much creative thinking and scouring Chicagoland for a viable bathroom vanity option, we settled on another IKEA hack project. The Expert (Peter's Dad) is back to help us with the bathroom cabinet installation.

Our IKEA shopping trip consisted of ping-ponging between the kitchen and bath departments picking up a little of this, and a little of that. If you are an IKEA junkie like we are, these names will sound familiar, if not, you can head down to the imagery to get an idea of the process.

We knew we liked the LILLANGEN Single Basin Sink for its compact size and deep basin, but the cabinet which is normally paired with it didn't come in a size that would suit our space.  The other available cabinets were great, but either wouldn't fit the sink or the space. So we hopped over to the kitchen department to see what we could find.

The cabinets in the kitchen department are all one standard size. Read: too big for a bathroom vanity. Luckily, my lovely boyfriend was willing to put some sweat equity into getting this thing done right.  More on that later. Finish choice was a no-brainer. We're both suckers for gray and wanted the vanity to look nice and contemporary. The AKURUM two door base cabinet in Abstrakt High Gloss Gray was an easy pick. The fact that we found the perfect wall cabinet to match the vanity certainly sealed the deal. The counter tops are NUMERAR. Again, from the kitchen department.

Peter and The Expert in their makeshift wood-shop amid the rugged terrain of our apartment. 

The base cabinet was too tall for comfortable sink height and too deep for the minuscule space we have in our bathroom, so the boys got out their power tools and hacked away at that sucker.  I just stood out of the way and giggled while the pair cussed like sailors. I'm so helpful.

And the (semi) final product! Eventually we'll have to add some art and such to make it a bit less sterile. We're so relieved to finally be able to brush our teeth in the bathroom, not to mention doing makeup, hair, etc.

14 December, 2009

Bathroom Bonanza, pt. 2.

We've been without a bathroom vanity since moving in and brushing our teeth in the kitchen is starting to wear on us.  Not to mention putting on makeup, drying hair, etc.  It's time to look for a vanity.

I did a little Google Image Search to drum up some ideas:

Love the floating vanity style.  I wish our bathroom was this big.  Dammit.

Seeing two sinks makes me want to cry.  I can only wish.

Slick!  Ground control to Major Tom.

Although we dislike this bathroom as a whole, there's a quality we admire in the slick style and glossy panels. It feels a bit futuristic and we could do just one section, but again, we need more storage!

Really nice, simple, minimal - but no storage or counter space.

Awesome.  It has everything: counter space, storage below, and the raised feet are a nice touch.

So with these images in mind, we're feverishly searching through bathroom stores and online to find a vanity that fits our style and minuscule budget; a task we are finding to be next to impossible.  How can a simple vanity cost as much as a bank of kitchen cabinets??.

Home Depot's only budget option.  Meh.

Our management office suggested we first look to Home Depot as it is where they get all their furniture, fixtures and building materials at a discount.  In order to fit the budget we need to get a pre-assembled floor model. Which means not being able to choose finishes, hardware or faucet style.  Being the aesthetically discerning and design-oriented couple that we are, this doesn't seem like it's going to work out.  No offense Home Depot.  We love you otherwise.

Community Home Supply's option.  Ugh, no storage or counter space?  How do people deal with this?

We then explored the showroom at Community Home Supply.  A business that is well known and loved by Chicago designers and residents. Located in Chicago's North Center neighborhood, this place offers a great selection at a reasonable price.  They even offer design services to help you out with your entire kitchen or bath makeover.  Unfortunately, even these unbeatable prices cannot fit our microscopic bathroom budget.

So moving on. . . We looked around the internet to see if there were options that would work, and there are, within budget... until you add shipping.  What a maroon.  NEXT!

Since IKEA has recently become our second home, we also shopped the options there.  The GODMORGON series is beautiful and well thought out, but expensive and nothing smaller than 40".  Our maximum allowable vanity size is 30".  Damn.

IKEA GODMORGON.  Awesome, but 10" too long.

Yep.  We are very fond of this basin.  Its super shallow with nice counter space to one side. Unfortunately, IKEA does not make one short enough to fit the space in our bathroom.

IKEA LILLANGEN.  Cool sink, useless cabinet.
This cabinet and sink would fit really well into our space, but neither of us is thrilled with the idea of displaying items under it.  Also, we're trying to maximize the space we have available and want room on the counter top for setting things down. At this point, everything we like is way over our limit.  Even the sinks we don't like seem to be out of price range.  The sink basin alone can break our budget.  We're going to have to get really creative.  Stay tuned. . .

13 December, 2009

Kitchen Madness, pt. 3.

The kitchen is finished!  We had to wait a week for IKEA to restock some of the wall cabinet doors.  They called this morning, I picked them up, installed them and we can finally cross the first project off the list.

The original:

New and improved:

All in all, I don't think I'll ever go anywhere else except IKEA for a kitchen.  For the price, you can't even come close to the vast amount of styles, options, accessories, or customization available there.  The quality is truly top notch, it may not be solid wood, but it's tough as nails.  We loaded the cabinets up with plates, glasses, pots, pans, etc. and the shelves don't even try to bow.  The counter tops are solid beech wood butcher block.  Best of all, the whole kitchen has a 25 year warranty, which we will probably never have to utilize, but future tenants may find useful.

The biggest downside I see in getting a kitchen from IKEA is that all the work has to be done by you, the customer.  When I purchased the kitchen, quite a few pieces were out of stock, so I spent a lot of time driving multiple trips to both Chicagoland IKEA stores over the course of 2 weeks to pick up various parts as they were restocked.  In typical IKEA fashion, every part comes flat packed and needs to be completely assembled which is extremely time consuming.  Then, because the kitchen is modular, certain parts have to be custom cut and fit to your specific space.  I would never attempt to install an IKEA kitchen without at least 2 experienced people and a bevy of power tools.  (Table saw, drills, nail gun, and reciprocating saw at the very least.)

You have to weigh your options, but when it comes to that bottom line, IKEA takes the cake by a long shot.

12 December, 2009

Bedroom Closet Doors.

Remember those big green glass sliding doors from IKEA?  We sure do, they've been laying on the floor all week.  Pretty scary for a couple of double-left-footed klutzes.  The closet wall opening is custom fitted for these doors, but there is a problem: the rails that came with them are custom fitted for a standing cabinet.  Shit.  Four hours and three trips to Home Depot later, the decision's been made:  we're going to IKEA hack those bitches.  We called in an expert, Peter's dad came over and I watched them saw and drill through the irreplaceable rails.

Measure twice, cut once, don't screw it up.
This is what happens when I insist the doors are flush with the wall.  Start over boys.
Those doors are TALL.
Happy customers.  OK, now how bad is that wood trim?

Working into the night, after a few close calls, the doors are up.  Not too happy about the wood trim contrasting with the green doors, but there are bigger things to worry about now.

08 December, 2009


Well, we originally thought of putting a pool table in the loft, but those things are expensive, so we put it off for a while.

Until today.  Peter's good friend Keith just hooked us up with a vintage Brunswick table for $300!  It's a "fixer-upper", but I know that table and I get the feeling it'll work out somehow.  We lost the camera in the move, so no photos until we find it.  Here is our new table in it's original condition:
Ours has a much darker walnut finish.  Yum.
We brought it home.  It's strewn across our floor in pieces with piles of other stuff.  I don't know how we're living in this.

07 December, 2009


Mr. Gas Man showed up first thing this morning and THE HEAT IS ON!

03 December, 2009


Move-in day.

Brrrrrr....  It's -6 degrees outside.  NEGATIVE SIX.  The best part being we just discovered that our gas is shut off, leaving us with no heat or hot water.  People's Gas says they won't be able to turn it on until Monday.  That's 6 days (5 nights) in a meat locker loft.

The management brought us a propane space heater that literally spews fire in our timber loft.  "FOR OUTDOOR USE ONLY" it reads, but don't fret, it came with a carbon monoxide detector.  Uncle Tom's advice: "Shut that thing off and get the f-bomb outta there!"  Sage advice from a construction manager.  Hmmm... freeze outside or suffocate inside?  We'll take our chances where the fire is.

No pictures because I will NOT remove my gloves.

02 December, 2009

Um. Yeah.

If I were to say "Mission Accomplished", I would feel a little like like this guy.  The major construction is over and we're moving in tomorrow, but the loft is far from finished.  We'll be living in what is technically a construction site for a while.  Updates (AND PHOTOS!) to follow.

30 November, 2009


We were supposed to move in tomorrow but the construction is behind schedule.  At this point, the kitchen is holding everything up.  The plumbing has been redone three times now, the stove location is slightly different than the original plan, which means the gas line was installed wrong, and somehow an electrical outlet ended up directly over the kitchen sink.  Yikes.  Hopefully we'll be moving in on the 2nd or 3rd, but honestly, seeing the place like this, I'm starting to regret ever undertaking this project.  There is construction waste piled from the floor all the way up to the 12 foot ceiling in some places, everything is covered in dust, and the wall still has holes big enough for me to climb into in some places.

29 November, 2009


It's really late so I'll be brief.  Craigslist brought us a new friend today.

Yes, they're stackable.
Abt price:  $1322.00, new.

Craigslist price:  $550, only used for 2 months, like new, under warranty.

Do you accept cash?  Cha-ching.

27 November, 2009


Sorry for not having photos to post.  Peter is down at the loft everyday working with the contractors on the kitchen.  I dipped in for visit today and I'm happy to report that the bedroom "L" wall is up.  So is the HUGE gaping opening for a closet.  The entry closet is split up to make room for a washer/dryer that we still don't have, and the kitchen cabinet frames are assembled and waiting for the plumbing, gas, and electric to be finished.  The walls are actually white!  It's starting to look like a home... in a dusty warehouse.

26 November, 2009

Sweating Like A Turkey.

Happy Thanksgiving folks.

24 November, 2009

Bathroom Bonanza.

The bathroom vanity just got ripped out along with the electrical and ventilation.  Aside from a fresh coat of paint, the bathroom is a bust.  No idea what to do with it.  We'll spend some time digging for ideas.  We may have to deal without a vanity for a while.  Joan is pissed.  But no vanity is still better than the abomination removed today:

Urine yellow walls, waterlogged laminate, and a fluorescent light that is at my neck height.
I wish we had a bathtub, but at least this shower's ugly!

22 November, 2009

ABT! Lightining Bolt!

We bought appliances today and we are VERY HAPPY.  For those of you that don't know about Abt.com, you need to get acquainted stat.  Unlike the rest of our projects which we designed and were funded by the building management, they insisted on selecting and buying the appliances themselves.  Unacceptable.

I made them a deal.  If I could find a set we liked at Abt for less than they had budgeted from their supplier, we could go with our choice.

Long story short, I made out like a mob boss at Abt.  Tim, our sales associate initially laughed at the situation, but then started working his magic.  After viewing a few choices, Tim bent a few rules, and knocked the prices of a Whirlpool fridge, stove, and dishwasher down to a ridiculously good deal.  What can I say, we're a cute couple and people want to give us stuff.

Turns out, the number was so good, that I managed to finagle a Microwave Hood in the deal from the management office.  At that point, I peed a little.

 Yep, more black.  Everyone's nervous for us, but we know black is sexy.

Kitchen Madness, pt. 2.

The last few days have been spent losing our minds over the kitchen.  We visited Home Depot, Community Home Supply, a couple independent design centers, and IKEA.  I'll save you the suspense, we're going with IKEA.  Everyone else laughed at the combination of our budget and ambitions.  Whatever, our kitchen is gonna rock.

For the record: No one, NOT A SINGLE KITCHEN SUPPLIER, can offer what IKEA does for the price.  We got an upgraded kitchen from IKEA for less than the cheapest fiberboard with staples junker at Home Depot.

The only beef with IKEA - listen up IKEA! - It's almost 2010!  Get with the times and make your kitchen design program compatible with a Mac.  Driving across town to use my cousin's Windows machine sucks.  WTF IKEA?

Here is the preliminary plan.  Don't judge it too much, it's only a rough draft.

Yep, it's black.  Everyone warned us not to do it, but we pulled the trigger anyway.

The plan shows stainless steel counter tops, which just happened to be discontinued that very day (yay IKEA!), so they upgraded us for FREE!  What did we get instead?  You'll just have to wait and see.

20 November, 2009

Kitchen Madness.

The contractors are already ripping down the old walls and building new ones.  We've spent waaaay too much time scouring the internet for kitchen ideas.  We need to decide NOW. Below are some inspirational photos that we both like a lot.  As usual, our aspirations far outweigh our budget.  If we owned the place, we'd go with an island based kitchen, but since we have to stay within the approved budget, we'll have to stay close to the original layout.  The only thing we're doing is adding a second "wall" of cabinets to make a "L" shaped kitchen versus the "flat" style in place now.

Wood counter tops, symmetrical cabinet pattern, stainless steel, lots of storage, Bertoia gooeyness.
Modern and minimal lines, great color combination (stainless, wood, black), is it functional?
Beautiful wood, functional design, modern design with a traditional feel, does it have enough storage?
Ultra-modern design, super bright, lots of counter space, low on storage.

So much to choose from!  We're trying for an industrial stainless steel kitchen with a modern/natural twist.  It seems that many kitchens are either functional and hideous or "just for looks" modern and pretty much useless for cooking.  There must be a balance!

The best part?  We only have one day to source it.  Busy day tomorrow.