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Woodn’t You Like to help Me?

I have spent hours poring over flooring. My eyes have turned to tired squinty slits and my brain can no longer discriminate between oak and stained hickory. My plans to install solid white oak and have it site finished have been dashed by a dastardly concrete floor… and our pocketbook. I’m starting to think wood should be traded on the NYSE.

I’m suffering from wood overload.

I need someone to tell me what to buy: white oak, red oak, stained hickory, brazilian walnut, etc etc. Dark, light, in between. Gloss, semi gloss or low sheen. Thin strip or wide plank.


I’m drowning in a sea of trees.

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Let’s Talk About Floors

Hardwood floors always give me… hard wood. I can’t think of anything sexier than light gleaming off a set of bronzed, well oiled, shapely planks. Mmm hmmm. Obviously I have my heart set on wood floors for the new house — the real stuff, please. None of that ersatz laminate or engineered and oddly beveled woodish product will do for me. But guess what? Wood is expensive. And there are waaaay too many choices. But look how pretty it is:

wood floors

Yes. This is the house I want. But maybe with less expensive flooring.

Or maybe darker?

dark wood floors

Wait — maybe lighter…

light floors

Except the grooves kinda freak me out. Dirt traps?

We will probably do strip oak like this, but is this finish too light and modern for a Tudor?

Ok, here is your homework for today:

Please tell me whether you think we should go light, dark or somewhere in between.

Prefinished or site finished?

And finally, does anyone have experience with oiled finishes — like tung oil or Waterlox? I love the idea of a matte, European style finish.

Stay tuned for an MLS tour of Old House this week… I have been a busy girl.

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As the weather starts to dip into the low 90s here in austin, I can feel myself starting to crave a hot tea and cardigan sweater.  Ahhh yes, weather below 100 degrees:  You feel like fall.  Fall:  I want to spend you here:

Yep, that will do.

Also, happy birthday to my sweety!  He is one million and twelve today.  Good thing I love him.

PS, this is Luis Barragan architecture via


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Weekend Project

If you dudes are looking for a project this weekend, might I suggest laying down new wood floors throughout your house – wait, let me finish – when laying them, be sure to select several different shades of wood so that you can arrange them in your own image:

See, you just pick a picture and do some fancy stuff with your computer.  Be sure to make the floor spread throughout your entire house.  Then just lay the wood and enjoy

If you have extra time on sunday, try photographing all the rooms to make one large photo of your floor portrait:

Happy weekend homies, I’ll be looking for your homework in my inbox on Monday.

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Erin’s Extreme Kitchen Makeover: Panic Edition

I wish I had a cyber tour bus to drive in front of my kitchen, just so I could drive it off, thereby making the big reveal dramatic! and exciting! I would jump up and down — propelled by the overwhelming spirit of joy and gratitude — screaming and crying about how amazing it is, and about how getting a new kitchen has changed the very core of my being. But that would be untrue, because (let’s face it) macaroni cooked over a bunsen burner in a dorm room is the same as macaroni cooked on a brand new stove in my pretty new kitchen.

But that don’t make it any less pretty.

Remember when I first enlisted your help with my junky kitchen a looooooooong ass time ago?

erin's kitchen

Yes, the red is very charming (unless you have to live with it), but everything else in the kitchen deserved to be burned in a pressure treated blaze of glory. Trust me, it was a LOT WORSE than it looks in my awesome picture. Well, a mere six months and 10k later — with only one week to spare before the baby is due — it looks like this:

erin's kitchen ikea

I know, I know! You miss the tile and the bank of head bonking cabinets, the chipped almond formica and the spectacularly filthy appliances, but at least the rugs are cute, right? In all seriousness, this was crazy hard to shoot because the light was not cooperating and the paint wants to read as brown instead of gray, but hopefully you get the idea.

erin's kitchen renovations

We still have a lot of trim issues to deal with and loads of accessorizing to do, but it’s 95% done! Hooray! And despite what must be universal hatred of barstools, I love that we have some extra seating near the kitchen instead of wasted space on the living room side, like we had in our old kitchen. Plus, you have to admit that my vintage Thonet stools are pretty fly.

erin's kitchen ikea

Hallelujah, you can even see into the living room without busting your head open on a fortress of low hanging cabinets! Downside: I have the sudden urge to replace those hideous ceiling fans, STAT! Any recommendations?

erin's kitchen ikea

So, what did we do in here, anyway? I detailed the floor renovations a while ago, but you can read about them here. We yanked out all the old oak cabinets and mounted them in the garage (whee! extra storage), then replaced them with Ikea Abstrakt gloss white cabinets, and Ikea Applad black cabinets mounted to form a pantry wall.

erin's kitchen ikea

So much better than the floating fridge situation we had before! Oh, and surprise! I am the kind of person who sticks stuff all over the refrigerator. Hunny Bunny hates it, but how else will I know where to find my Babies R Us coupons? What do you think of my crazy Moroccan brass tray up there? I know it’s kind of passe to stack stuff on top of your cabinets, but because our room is vaulted, it felt really naked without something…

erin's kitchen ikea

The peninsula was ripped out and HB built a new, taller wall for the bar to anchor the cabinets onto. He and Matty bear also tore out the old post and replaced it with a smaller, dry walled post. The counters are Ikea Numerar in oak, and the backsplash is soapstone, which Matt installed. Karly bought the vintage Danish pendant lights on Ebay and decided they didn’t work for her. Bonus! They are perfect in my house. I got a new stove on sale at Lowes, the Datid hood for half price at Ikea, and I am unnaturally obsessed with our new Ikea spice rack. Now I just need three more spices to fill it…

erin's kitchen ikea

On the sink wall, Matt installed a soapstone tile countertop in a very labor (and dust) intensive process so that the countertop looks like a slab. No grout, and half the price! He did a super excellent job, and if you live in Austin I highly recommend you contact him for all your handyman/renovation needs.

We bought a Kohler cast iron sink that has a very low divider, so it’s kind of the best of the single/double sink worlds. Love it! The faucet is also Kohler, and the dishwasher was on sale at Lowes. I had the vintage light fixture already and it’s ok (I like the brass), but I think I could do better. Someday. Maybe. Oh, and the reversible cotton rugs are from Ikea, of course.

erin's kitchen ikea

The window wall feels a little unfinished, so we’re planning on putting up a couple of shelves where I can display cute dishes and whatchamadoodles. What do you think: glossy white? black? or butcherblock? Who knows when we’ll get to it, since we’ve only got a week until the baby is due and still need to clean renovation dust out from under the furniture, but we can dream, right?

So, that’s it for my kitchen tour. We hatched a half baked plot in November of last year, started gutting in January, and “finished” just days ago. I think our original idea was to slap some paint on our ugly cabinets and call it a day, but I’m glad we took the advice that many of you gave us — which was to rip it out and go for it. Including the appliances (except for the fridge), the floors, counters, sink, hardware, cabinets, lights, paint, and Matt’s labor, we came in at around 10k, which was pretty close to my original estimate. It took the short side of forever to complete, but because Hunny did most of the work himself and Matt helped out a lot, we were able to spend most of our budget on materials instead of labor.

So far, we’re super happy with it, but I’ll be sure to let you know if any of the walls fall down…

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