Sunday, September 20, 2015

Rustic Modern: Our House Becomes a Home

After a year of living here, we developed a little to-do list: Open up the wall between the kitchen and living room so we may avoid playing Labyrinth every time we go from house fridge. Create more counter space in the kitchen. Reuse as much material/furniture as possible. Make everything look like "our style" (we decided a mid-century modern vibe allows us to combine our love of "rustic" and "modern"). Stay on budget, and finish fast.

Well, for under $14,000, we accomplished everything. Plus, we also managed to turn our bedroom into a - ahem - master suite.

Upon entering...

In just under four weeks, we transformed a lovely home with no flow into a show-stopping charmer with more flow than a West Coast rapper. Toddler-wrangling during a reno is tricky - we spent A LOT of time outside and visiting friends and family - but the end result was SO worth it. Here are the projects we tackled:

KITCHEN - $11, 900
1. Open up wall from kitchen to living room (we opted for a walk-through to avoid the cost of engineering a beam due to the wall's load-baring job)
2. Refinish the cabinets (we saved at least $15k be reusing instead of getting new ones)
3. New countertops (quartz, which was a little more than granite but you don't ever have to re-seal quartz).
4. Backsplash (including a subway-tile showpiece to hide a bare piece of cabinet siding)
5. Took down the pony wall behind the faucet and made that counter a nice, wide flat surface for more counter space and bar seating.




1. Added a kitchen cart in the same color as our finished cabinets to house coffee maker, giving us more counter space. $150
2. Created an additional seating area near the kitchen with a rug ($50, clearance from Target) and 2 of 5 black, leather, mid-century modern chairs we got from the classifieds ($50 for all five).
3. Painted the living room and kitchen. $1125
4. Purchased some reclaimed Stikwood panels (they stick on the wall with adhesive and are really thin so it's easy to apply) for a faux beam in the living room. $280,
5. Ottoman for living room. $35, clearance from Target
Kitchen cart houses the coffee maker, opens up counter

BEDROOM (From Yoga Studio to Master Suite)
1. Created sitting area using 2 more of the 5 chairs from our classifieds score, a rug ($75 from Target) and a lamp ($59 from Target).
2. Accessorized a pre-existing bookshelf to have a more NYC-loft vibe. $20 from Target
3. Used pre-existing screens to conceal our new (HUGE!) closet (free) and found two costume racks in the classifieds for $20.
4. Converted some iPhone photos into canvases for wall art. $50, Groupon
**PS, I still teach yoga, just on-location! And I have a nice space for my own practice in this room!



Tuesday, September 8, 2015

A Marriage Proposal, Kind of

I'm laying on his lap, on the couch of our creaky, (rushed-into) first apartment together. The credits of a Charlize Theron movie scroll across a late-90s model TV screen, which we ignore, just as we had done the last half of the movie. We laugh about something dumb - one of our one-act plays, maybe - and then the words force themselves out of my lips.

"I want to get married." I sound like an 8-year-old girl asking for a pony. Which is kind of the same thing.

Unmarried, in love.
We had spent our first five or so months together commiserating the failed institution of marriage, and how divorce is expensive and how people waste their lives in bad marriages and how we were SO not doing that EVER again. We were now the cool boyfriend-girlfriend, we-don't-need-a-label lovebirds with both eyes on each other instead of the future. We spend weekends riding bikes to the closest farm-to-table restaurant, or cooking a new recipe, wine in hand. We sit on the front porch - the endless stream of cars whizzing by - making teary-eyed whiskey toasts under the stars. We talk about our childhoods and why we're broken and how we saved each other from a life lived without true love.

So, even though we're both wearing "wedding rings" that we bought together at the incense-singed new-age shop, marriage to each other had never seriously come up.

"You what?" Chris laughs, "Married?"

"Yeah, I want to be married to you." I grin shyly, realizing what a bold statement I had made.

"I thought we hated marriage?" He tests.

"I changed my mind," I decide, figuring it out as I go along.

We go to bed, or pass out, shortly after that and don't talk about it till I come home from work the next day. We finish doing something in the bedroom (oh, I can't remember what) and Chris says, "We should do it!"

Intrigued, but not totally in-the-know, I say, "Yeah? What?"

"Get married!"

"Really?" I retreat inward. Do I really want to deal with the marriage/divorce red tape again? Asking my parents to come to another wedding? PLANNING another wedding?

"Yeah, let's think about it," I say, or something equally as tepid.

The next weekend, both back on the couch, Chris confesses that I'd hurt his feelings.

"I asked you to marry me the other day, and you shut me down."

Say, WHAT? I don't know if I'm more shocked or bugged. So I say, "I had no idea! There was no proposal, no ring..." Hint, hint.

"Yeah, I was asking you for real," he says.

Hint denied. So I offer, "Well, ask me again. Not now, but sometime soon."

A few hours later, I am dying to get out of the house, so I suggest we head to Red Butte Garden with a bottle of wine to watch the sunset. We walk, hand in hand, among the exotic looking ferns, and perky flowers - the aroma of fresh-misted rose water in the air. We duck into a cove with a bench and table, and tuck into our bottle of wine. The sun starts to set, and we're nuzzled into each other.

"Will you marry me?" he lists, as he looks into my eyes.

Without taking another breath, I say, "Yes."

Caught up in the moment, I don't even notice there's still no ring. The following day, I suggest that we start looking for some. We buy a couple of $100 rings and slide them nonchalantly onto our ring fingers, replacing the "wedding rings" made of hippie stones and silver. We get our marriage license a few months after that, and dream up a buddhist temple wedding in Thailand. We hurry and make it legal before we leave by having my mom drop by our apartment with our two witnesses (2 out of my four siblings) officiate a ceremony. We're still a little gunshy about letting our friends and coworkers know about our shotgun romance (some were just finding out we were divorced), so we wait a few days...dodging the obvious glances to our ring fingers and references to our giddy glow. It becomes to much to keep in, so the following weekend, we change our Facebook statuses to "married" and post a few photos. People react the same way I did when Chris first "asked" me to marry him. They are so shocked, they're almost pissed! My family is ACTUALLY pissed, because they interpret our living room "Wedding" as the real deal that only three of my family members were invited to.

An apartment wedding.
Luckily, we are on a plane to Thailand to get married for "real" (not legally, but this is our intended ceremony) and honeymoon all in one go. After a few planes, a boat and a tuk-tuk, we're on our Thai island, hiking around for a temple. We find a lonely, ancient-looking one, overrun with vines, off the beaten path, that's littered with feral dogs. Somehow, we decide it's a good idea to wander into the temple, where we find a solo monk with a big smile, welcoming arm gestures, and some free time. We kneel on what felt like the hardest stone imaginable in what felt like the thickest, muggiest heat imaginable. But we are smiling at each other with tear-brimmed eyes at every chance we get (between full, to-the-floor bows).

We never had the "talk" about marriage, babies or picket fences. We didn't have a "normal" proposal, and definitely didn't have a normal wedding. But we've loved with our whole hearts; been vulnerable, open and at many times, stubborn. We've accepted each other's dark parts because the light ones are so damn bright. We accept each other completely, and grow more patient and kind every day. I still get butterflies when 10 pm hits and I know he'll be home soon, and he still texts me love letters when we're apart. Not much about our love story has been typical, and I hope our glorious future together sings that same, offbeat tune. Because it's so effing beautiful.

A Buddhist wedding.
Happy three-year anniversary, Baby. :)