house buying…not for the faint of heart

Two years ago, my fiancé and I bought a house and completely gutted and remodeled it.  It seemed like such a good idea at the time, as all terrible decisions initially do.

After being told it would take six weeks to complete, 6-8 months later they were finally ‘finished’.  And by finished, I mean it looked like absolute shit.  The painter, after initially painting all the rooms the incorrect colors, had stopped showing up.  He honestly painted half the kitchen and never returned (but did manage to steal my sunglasses on his way out).  Our hardwoods all started buckling and coming up so bad, we even took a nail gun to them one fateful evening.   Our General Contractor (who ended up not actually being a contractor) had moved to Idaho and stopped returning phone calls.

Then we learned while hard, it’s not impossible to sue someone in Idaho while in Louisiana.

And while I learned a great many things about myself during this period, be it the fact I can easily now paint, tile or stain anything, another interesting thing I learned was apparently if you take my money and run, I’ll follow you to the ends of the earth.  Idaho included.

So after sinking another round of ungodly money into the house to actually finish it, we finally sold it.  Literally, a lot of blood, sweat and tears went into that house.  And since we had a lot of trouble selling it, we decided to take a break from house buying for a bit.  We needed time to lick our wounds and have lots of drinks to dull the memories.  And just have some drinks in general.

Apparently, forget we did, because we just bought another house.  And it needs so much work, it’s getting completely taken down the studs.

I barely survived House War I, lets see if we survive HWII.

I’m already skeptical.

The Land of Bridal Magazines…

Working in the wedding industry, when speaking with brides-to-be, I find myself frequently saying, “I know, it can all be very overwhelming, but…”

But apparently I didn’t truly understand the complex nature of that sentence.  Or how truly overwhelming it actually is.

We got engaged on Christmas morning and it was wonderfully low key.  We’ve been dating 8 years, and at some point along the way ‘high key’ went out the window.  So I posted the obligatory #ringselfie, because if we don’t put it on the internet, it’s like the silent tree in the woods.  And immediately after, people started asking when the date was and where it was going to happen. And immediately after that, I started to panic.

I honestly believed that since all I do, about 50-70 hours a week, is work on weddings, that this would be simple.  But I find myself thinking when I’m overwhelmed (buzz word), I’ll think about this later.

I’m really good at that mentality, I’m still ‘back-burnering’ things from college.

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So I did what any bride-to-be in over their head does, I went and bought a magazine.  I guess this is exactly why I pay for business advertising, so that’s money well spent.  I only bought one bridal magazine because my magazine budget would only cover that, Travel & Leisure, and four interior design magazines.

I guess I got sidetracked.  That’s ok, I’ll just think about it later.

a table here, a table there…

sidetable

This gem was ‘given’ to me by the florist shop where I have been learning floral design.  They were using it to store tissue paper on and had been using two ply wood boards to prop up the table panels.  At least once or twice a day, I accidentally kick over the board and the ensuing thunderous near-deafening noise was driving me to the brink of insanity.

I guess at some point I had mentioned I like to refinish antiques (which sounds ridiculous coming from me, but trust me, is more ridiculous to watch) and I guess saw me as a dumping grounds for this table that’s seen better days.

By the looks of it those days were roughly 70 years ago.

refinished side table

But I sometimes appreciate a challenge (key word in that sentence is sometimes).

So I gave my newly acquired table a little attention.  Attention in the form of me sweating and swearing in the blazing Louisiana heat.

Someone once told me, ‘in Louisiana, if you’re not sweating, you’re dead.’  And I find that sentiment to be extremely accurate.

refinished sidetable 2So I removed the panels (I’m not a miracle worker) then sanded and stained.

On another note though, staining sucks.

brass and crystal
And on another note, I hope my mother isn’t reading this because I stole these pieces from her house when I was in-town two weeks ago.  She had stored them in the bathroom cabinet because my little nieces had visited and I guess children can’t be around nice things.

So their loss is my gain because my new side table looks great.

I need to go visit again.  See what else I can sneak out of there with.

Free shopping!

 

 

 

 

a girl needs her privacy…

On my days off, from slinging flowers and designing jewelry (such a multi-faceted life I lead…), I find myself relaxing around the house.

And by relaxing, I mean not-relaxing and stressing myself out over self inflicted home improvement projects.

Our house is really open.  Lots of windows, open floor plan and tons of natural light.  Sounds great until you groggily stumble your way to the kitchen in the morning for coffee in your underpants.  And there are middle aged golfers 15 yards away waving at you.

I needed some privacy.

ferns1

{breakfast nook [I don’t know how to spell ‘nook’] before}

But unfortunately I live on a corner lot on the 18th green so privacy isn’t really on the radar.  Plus, I’m not trying to keep out the apocalypse, I just want my coffee in peace.

So after going back and forth with ideas, we decided on ferns.  I’m going to pump them so full of Miracle Grow, it will be like a fern wall protecting my coffee drinking, underpants wearing self from the golfing public.

ferns2

To begin my ‘Project: Privacy’ I bought ferns, flowers (unrelated to my project but I just can’t leave without buying more flowers), chain, s-hooks and heavy duty overhead hooks.  I didn’t like the plastic hook crap on each fern so I replaced with chain, combined on an s-hook.  Then, I had to screw overhead hooks into the drywall (honestly, I’m proud of the fact I knew how to do this yet also incredibly weirded out) and hung my ferns.

Three hours after I begin, The Boyfriend called.  “You’re still doing that?!”  Although I may know how to do it, apparently I don’t know how to do it in a timely fashion.  Whatever.  He’s sitting at a desk in front of a computer while I’m making our entire house pants optional.

fern3

This picture is ridiculous.  It looks like I live in the amazon, not New Orleans.

I mean, don’t get me wrong, I can people watch with the best of them.  I’d just rather see you in your underwear than vice-versa.

design…of the floral nature

I’ve recently taken up floral design.

Now what I want to do with it, well that remains to be discovered.  But unfortunately the great-ish state of Louisiana is the only one in the United States where one needs a floral design license to stick flowers in a vase.

flower book

So I paid the Louisiana Horticulture Commission $55 for my text book (which was last updated in 1986 and originally written in 1954) and have set about being a flower student.

Wish me luck because I like studying about as much as I like doing laundry.  Which I don’t.  At all.    
camellias

{camellias from the backyard}

In the last couple months I’ve been asked to do two of three small weddings in New Orleans (apparently illegally since I didn’t know you needed a license- oops) and it has made me want to delve further into design.

Now I have The Boyfriend (an attorney) yelling in the background “don’t admit to doing something illegal in print!”

Hopefully the Horticulture Commission isn’t on their way to come arrest me.

follow @filledefleurnola for pics

mondays…

monthly plannerMy Monday mornings involve a strategic planning meeting with my cup of coffee and my planner.  Usually this consists of me drinking about five cups of coffee and looking at instagram on my phone.

All I have on the books this week is scouring antique stores for a vanity table (I haven’t discussed this with The Boyfriend yet but I’m sure he’ll agree this is a sensible buy) and designing bride and bridesmaids jewelry for a wedding in Canada.

But first, just one last peek on instagram.

 

 

c is for courtyard. c is also for cocktails…

When we moved in, the gated courtyard was not my favorite.  It had white stones instead of grass and where there weren’t stones there were overgrown azalea bushes.

The stones seemed a little out of place to me.  If this was Arizona or Nevada, I could understand but Louisiana is like a sunnier and way less hipster version of Seattle for the amount it rains here.  I wanted green.

Of course I asked our contractor (mistake number one of hundreds) if he could remove them.  He quoted me something astronomical, which I started to notice he did often when it was apparently something he didn’t want to, or couldn’t, undertake.  So the stones stayed.

It’s not like I was going to remove them.

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 {courtyard before}

Here’s The Puppy wandering around trying to find a spot to go the bathroom.  He’s scared to walk on the stones and he would be lost eternally to the azaleas.  He had no options.

courtyard grass

So I ripped up all the bushes, planted sod and decorated with giant pots of flowers.  Yes, I planted sod. I’m amazing even myself these days.

bistro set

For the rocky-part of the courtyard, since clearly they were there to stay, I thought about how I could at least make it slightly more attractive.  I found this amazing little bistro set on amazon (prime!) but was concerned when the box arrived flat.  Not sure what I was expecting but I thinking  maybe a more table and chair sized box.  Apparently someone had to put them together.

lightingAfter I put the set together (as The Boyfriend and The Puppy watch from the window) I started looking for other easy touches to improve our little courtyard.

When I was at a lighting showroom picking out exterior light fixtures, I found this little matching pendant light perfect for above my table.

pansies

My last stop was the gardening store.  Final touch, pots of pansies everywhere.  Then I was done.

table top

Now I see all the amazing things you can do outside.  Read outside.  Have morning coffee outside.  Drink cocktails outside.  Write this blog outside.

Honestly, the possibilities are endless.  I don’t know if I mentioned this but you can drink cocktails outside.  It’s amazing.

every house needs a bathroom…

The house was a renovation (more painting, etc) until we decided to remodel (more like destruction) the master bathroom.

Master Bath/Spa.{this is the old listing pic for the house}

It was a interesting set up.  The sliding door in this pic actually doesn’t lead to the shower/toilet/sink area for the master bathroom.  This is a doorway into the bathroom for the office.   Essentially it was two bathrooms in one (two toilets, two sets of sinks, two showers), which meant the house was listed as only having three bathrooms.

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 We had work to do.  Again with the pink carpet, two prints of wallpaper, pale pink corain and the sinks only came up to about one inch above my knee cap.  Also the bathtub had a greek feel to it, like you walk up a staircase to your bath (only to slip to your death on wet feet when you climb out of it- I guess the carpet was to give you traction).

reno

So we decided to rip it apart; they knocked out some walls, opened casings to expand on the closets and added a wall between the office bath and master bath.  Now we have a four bathroom house.

And as you can see in the pic, no one informed me to move my make up.  Soon after this picture, they tore out cabinetry, smashed those mirrors (I was proudly told by one of the crew guys that he got the mirrors down by throwing a hammer at them) and ripped out the floors.  Bye bye bathroom and bye bye makeup.

master bathAnd here’s the end result.  I can’t help it, I love subway tile.  It’s cheap, clean looking and goes with everything.  I just love it.

I went with a gray/blue color scheme; dark gray tiles with white grout, white tiles with dark gray grout, cararra marble (I never want to see cararra for the rest of my life) and a pale dove gray for the walls.

master showerThe shower was my favorite though.  I want to recreate in it my own bathroom one day, using white tile, dark grout, calacatta gold, herringbone tile floors and brass fixtures.  Everytime I say brass, which was what we spent hours removing from this house (and I kept for future use!), The Boyfriend gets nervous.

Brass everything!

office bath

After we sealed up the wall in the master to the office bath, we finally had a fourth bathroom.  In here we only replaced the pink carpet with travertine-esque porcelain tile and replaced the pale pink corian with a travertine looking marble.

I told countless people via email and by words coming out of my mouth, “cararra is white and blue so the walls need to be painted blue.  Travertine is tan, so the walls need to be painted cream.”  Here I was thinking that was pretty straight forward, but alas, this bathroom was painted blue.  The lazy part of me contemplated saying “screw it” but it looked terrible so in the end I repainted the walls and the trim.

guest side by side When I was told how much the contractor wanted to update this bathroom I almost had a heart attack.  So I told him I would handle the walls and he could do the rest.

So, had we not bought this house to renovate and sell, I would have taken a quick second to think about keeping the wallpaper.  The border was hideous but I can’t help it, I love wallpapered bathrooms.

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This picture made me nervous.  Actually, every time they demoed they would come and get me to show me.  I don’t know if he was antagonizing me (we had a difficult relationship) or thought I should see he was actually doing something.  I found out, after we hired him, he doesn’t work Mondays or Fridays.  And I figured this out because he never showed on Mondays and Fridays.

guest updated side by side

Removing wallpaper is a real pain.  And a smelly pain at that.  But it all came off, the walls were skim coated and I textured and painted.  Blue.

Because blue goes with cararra.

upstairs side by side

The jack and jill bathroom upstairs was interesting.  We had the pink carpet, double print wallpapered walls with floral border (didn’t contemplate keeping those though) and pink corian.  When you walked into the shower room, there was mauve bathtubs, tub surround and toilet.

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But, the amazing thing about this bathroom was the gems I found inside.  They had decorated the house in the 80s and all the bathroom fixtures were lucite.  A diamond in the rough!  I kept them all, much to the dismay of everyone around me.  I believe “tacky” was the word of choice.

I don’t care because now I am the proud owner of lucite towel racks, robe hook things, toilet paper holder, shelves, etc.  It’s going to look amazing with all the brass in my new home.

upstairs after side by sideHere we did the same color scheme as the office bath.  To avoid the color confusion again, I painted the walls and ceiling.  I also painted the trim and the cabinetry because over the years they had turned an unfortunate yellow color.  I had to have The Boyfriend rehang all the cabinet doors for me.  When I try it looks like we paid President Kitty to do it.

DSC_0178And after attending the “How to Install your own Tile” class at our local Home Depot, The Boyfriend spent five days retiled the tub.  We were both a little apprehensive as to what the result was going to be but it’s amazing.

upstairs tile

Not to mention it saved us $1,000.  I told him he can tile our houses for the rest of our live.  His answer was colorful but you get the gist.

But the bathrooms are now complete.

And now you know a little something about me; I love brass, wallpaper and subway tile. Oh, and I don’t care much for cararra.

The general contractor informed me “people now a days are putting cararra in their kitchens. It’s inexpensive and everyone loves it.”

“No.”

sundays…

mardi grasMy Sunday took a turn for the lazier when I decided to bring The Boyfriend with me to the grocery store.  This is when I find things like $20 bison jerky or a family sized box of Fruity Pebbles in my cart.  He discreetly puts them in, I less discreetly toss them out.

But here we are, 9am on Sunday, with King Cake and Mardi Gras beer (which tastes like cheap beads mixed in with poor choices).

travel…staycation

Sometimes it’s nice to stay home and take your vacation there.  And it’s even nicer when you get to stay and call the Monteleone your home for the weekend.

My mom came in for a short visit; she might have stayed back in Texas had she known all the non-stop fun we were going to have.

monteleone

As soon as she landed, I took her to see the house we just finished remodeling.  She “oohhhed” and “aahhed” and that was the only productive thing we did all weekend.  After that we checked in and the weekend became a blur of cocktails and restaurants.

monteleone christmas

{Monteleone lobby}

We twirled around the Carousel Bar, had Gin Fizzes at the Sazerac (I actually had two because my mom did not care for hers), oysters at Cafe Amelie and Pimms at The Columns.

french quarter

We wandered the French Quarter, stopped in Lafitte’s (the oldest bar in America, not to mention where someone is now the proud new owner of my credit card), went to the open air French Market along with more general touristy shenanigans.

And in the end as much as I hated to see her go, my liver needed a much deserved break and I was ready to get out of the French Quarter.

A little bit of that place goes a looong way.