Tuesday, October 6, 2009


I came across this blog post from exactly a year ago today.

    Top 10 Signs that Renovations Aren't Complete
    10. Your lunch sack is a plastic bag from Home Depot
    9. You worry about falling through the kitchen ceiling every morning when going into the tub
    8. Contractors come to your house more often than your friends
    7. You go to the dog park and someone points out that the dog has paint on him
    6. Plastic drop cloths are considered a home decor
    5. Sundays are spent mudding & taping instead of watching football.
    4. The upstairs foyer table is actually a piece of OSB. With a mitre saw on it.
    3. Fixing the main roof truss that is 100% cut through is on the same 'to do list' along with purchasing 1/2" screws for the closet.
    2. You get certified letters for the weeds & junk in your back yard.
    1. Two words - drywall boogers

I'll never forget moving into the house when renovations were nowhere near complete in August 2008. My brother's friend helped move all my stuff, and when he first walked in you could tell he was thinking, "Kevin, this is where your sister is going to live?" Everything was torn up, tools were everywhere, and there was a hole in the bathroom floor. We ended up just piling all my boxes of things in the guest room to the ceiling until the dust settled and I could unpack. I lived out of moving boxes for months because I couldn't put things in my closet while we were frantically finishing the master bedroom. At the same time, we went to the gym every day for several weeks, not because we were diligently trying to get in shape (I think we burned enough calories working on the house every night and weekend). But because we had no shower while the bathroom was being renovated. Ahhh, the good old days!

It's still hard for me to believe that renovations are 'done'. I'm proud of all the work we did ourselves, and I never thought in my life I would learn how to install wood floors or be a mudding and taping guru. Although demolition is still my favorite renovating duty :) Luckily, we don't have to worry much about drywall boogers these days, and we no longer decorate with drop cloths. In fact, now we spend many evenings relaxing on the most comfortable sofa in the world.

Kudos to anybody in the midst of renovating right now! You deserve major props for all your hard work - keep at it!

P.S. Don't forget to vote for Baltimore Rowhouse every day until October 9th! We are in sixth place now, movin on up!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Mobbies and a Birthday Present

Yesterday we came across a contest for Maryland's outstanding blogs held by the Baltimore Sun. Some of our favorite nominees are daily food inspiration, a neighbor, a Patterson Parker, a fellow renovator, a photography favorite that we met at Patapsco Park last year, a new hilarious discovery, and a fellow dog lover.

We also discovered that Baltimore Rowhouse was nominated! Looks like we are in 7th place in the Neighborhood category right now. Voting is through October 9, and you can vote once daily in each category. We're feeling a bit competitive after coming in second on HGTV's Bang For Your Buck last month :) Vote for Baltimore Rowhouse!

On another note, Corey turned 30 on Tuesday and is now older than 42% of the population in the U.S. Last weekend, his best friend from college flew up from North Carolina with his wife to surprise Corey. We also had a big birthday bash. This weekend I am 'surprising' him with a trip to Lost River Modern. I decided to spill the beans this morning because he already was suspicious that we were going there. I have had this trip planned since April, and I'm glad the weekend is finally here.

We plan on posting about our HGTV experience soon. In the meantime, if you didn't catch us the first time around they are showing a rerun on October 13. Have a great weekend!

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fully Engaged

My apologies for the lack of posts, but we've been busy with our engagement. I finally made an honest woman out of the Queen. From this point forward we are not living in sin. At least this is what we are going to tell ourselves. :-)

If you remember way back when I posted last we were going to be on HGTV. Well, the episode aired. We didn't win, but at least we didn't lose like the guys over at project rowhouse. (Actually, I think they won seeing as they didn't really spend $50k and did an amazing job on their place, but I don't want to say anything about that) After our loss the Queen and I headed over to project rowhouse to celebrate. They had a party going on, and it was great to hang out with Jon and Craig again.

If you missed the show, check out upcoming airtimes at hgtv's website for the episode and set the DVR. The next time it's on is October 13th at 9:30, and a few hours later at 12:30 am. Make sure to tune in and watch us look like fools.

P.S. All my links got wiped out somehow. I'll have to spend some time to reset them to their rightful place. :-(

Monday, August 17, 2009

We Have an Air Date

Bang for your Buck contacted us last week and said we are scheduled to be on the air 9/18. HGTV's website says the show will air on 9/11 at 9:30. I guess we'll just have to tune in to find out. :-)

Here is the rundown of the show from the website.

    Designer Taniya Nayak compares three great rooms in Baltimore that were recently renovated with budgets of $50,000 each. Along with a realtor, they look at a modern great room with horizontal metal cabinets, a contemporary great room with a wood-burning fireplace and a spunky great room with a built-in bar.

I'm assuming we are the spunky great room with the built in bar. I'd prefer bad ass over spunky, but I suppose beggars can't be choosers.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Houseblog Schmouseblog

While I should be in the backyard slaving away at landscaping and plumbing, I felt like writing a blog entry about Turkey. Procrastination is a beautiful thing.

While in Istanbul we took a cruise along the Bosphorous.


The Blue Mosque was also pretty impressive. The intricate tile work was amazing.


There were tons of stray cats throughout Turkey. This one was escaping the days heat in front of the Blue Mosque.


I liked the look of these doors. I'm thinking about blowing it up to hang on the wall.


While the Queen was smiling here, we were less than impressed with the cave cities in Cappadocia. They are neat and all, but after we saw one we were ready to go.


The cave churces at the Goreme Open Air Museum were much better than the caves at Derinkuyu.


The town of Goreme in Cappadocia was impressive. Our hotel room was in a cave. If you look behind the Queen you can see the valley is filled with cave dwellings.


While riding ATV's around Cappadocia we stopped to pet a horse that was tied out on a hillside. Another lady was stopped by the horse reading a book and enjoying the view. The horse wasn't hers.


The highlight of Ephesus was definitely the Celsius Library.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Backyard Landscaping Update

While I may not have blogged in a while, this doesn't mean we haven't been busy. We installed crown molding in the living room, had HGTV over for filming, and have been busy on the backyard. While I'm sure you want to hear dirt about HGTV's visit, I'm going to cover our progress in the backyard. :-)

The last post of the yard show the space as being a lot better than before the concrete work, but it still looking prison-esque. It was 342% better than the untouched version, but I think the place is now approaching 514% better. Here is the space as you last saw it.


The concrete work was done, but the gate and fence wasn't in and the planter bed is sufferring from a severe lack of dirt and plants. These problems have been remedied, and the Queen is now enjoying the space much better.


The horizontal fencing and gate is in place. I am quite pleased. This Saturday was spent creating a drainage system in the planting bed, and Sunday hauling 4,000 lbs of dirt to fill the bed. The low voltage landscape lighting is showing off our walls and new tree, and looking swanky while doing so. We even managed to get our fancy new Forest Pansy Redbud over the 2' tall planting bed. I wasn't sure how to get the tree in the bed, but after building a ramp it wasn't too bad.


The tree will have small pink flowers in the spring, with new leaves showing a purple color all through the season. I originally wanted a 'Bloodgood' Japanese Maple, but the redbud was only $115 and allowed instant coverage between our seating point at the table and our neighbor's back deck. The Japanese Maples were considerably more for the same initial size. Eventually the redbud will have a 18-20' diameter spread, which will help to canopy the area.


I still need to hook up the plumbing for the spigot in the back and plant the boxwoods and other plants, but all that will come in due time. And by due time, I mean this weekend.

Keep on the lookout for a guest poster to cover the first two topics I mentioned early in the post. :-)

Thursday, June 18, 2009

HGTV, Here We Come

A while ago Summer & Matt let us know that HGTV was looking for people in the Baltimore area who had recently renovated their space. The Queen contacted the show, we filled out the application, and over the past few weeks have been communicating with the Bang for your Buck folks. We found out yesterday that we were selected. :-)

The week of July 6th a film crew will descend on the rowhouse to film our great room, and a realtor and designer will critique the space while we look on. We are excited to be on the show, and are also really happy that Jon and Craig from Project Rowhouse will also be on the same episode.

While I'd love to spend every last minute fixing up the minor things before the film crew comes, we are off to Michigan for the week before July 4th and are out of town this weekend. Hopefully this will give the designer and realtor more items to critique. :-)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Invasion of Grillasaurus Rex

We are back from Gallivanting across the pond and back at work in the backyard. The gate and garbage corral are built, and looking HAWT. We even got some inspiration from Jon & Craig's backyard and got some planters, plants and a fire pit for the backyard too. But the planters, plants and fire pit were minor additions. We also got Grillzilla.

We already have a charcoal Weber grill, but the Queen said she would cook more if we had a gas grill. We now have a gas grill. Now that I've blogged about it you are all witnesses, and as such this will allow me to guilt trip her into using it. Anyway...

We went to Home Depot hunting for a grill. I just wanted a small grill. Nothing too fancy. We didn't need anything with 43 feet of grilling surface, a 1/4 acre for a prep area, and side burners to keep my non-existent side dishes warm. But this is all Home Depot had. It was either a $100 piece of crap, or grills with saddle bags and sidecars. I liked a smaller Weber grill, but with half the heat output and double the price it was out of contention. At the end of the day we decided Grillzilla was coming home with us - the other options sucked beyond belief or required our first born child as down payment.

I got around to putting it together tonight and got about half way through it before it got too dark. I am damning it already. While it appears to be a fine machine I just wish it were half as big. I fear this grill will turn me into a meatatarian. I will try to resist it's urges. I may have to use the side burner to steam some broccoli. Oh hell, who am I kidding. I'm sure in another week I'll be using the sideburner to fry up some bacon to top my cheeseburger.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Ballooning Over Cappadocia

The day we arrived in Cappadocia there was a ballooning accident. One died, and eight to ten injured. Our flight was the next day. The Queen was worried, but I figured the day after an accident would be very safe, as people would be extra worried. The flight was beautiful. We floated over Goreme, dipping into Love Valley and touching down in a field to the west of town. We can now check hot air ballooning off of our bucket lists.







Sunday, May 31, 2009

Turkish Adventure

We have now been on our Turkish Adventure for about a week. It has been amazing. So far we've been to Istanbul and Cappdoccia, and we still have Selcuk, Fethiye and Kas to come.

Istanbul is a wonderful clean city, with excellent public transport. I wish I could say the same about Bmore. :-) Haghia Sofia and the Blue Mosque were pretty, but the Egyptian spice bazaar and all of the street food is even better. I loves me some street food. We then headed to Capadoccia and have been doing activities that would frighten our mothers. Things like hot air ballooning one day after 1 died and 8 were injured, riding an ATV around to different sites, and renting a scooter to head to a winery the next town over. It has been a blast, and we are taking lots of pictures.

And now it is time to return to drinking my beer on a comfy patio and watching the peple walk past. Life is good.

P.S. The loud group of Croatians that were on yesterdays tour just sat down behind us. *sigh*. Looks like we have to find a new spot.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Fantastic Fencing!

I found the holy grail of fence materials. Well, at least I think it's the bees knees. I went with a pvc fence material made by timbertech. I'll use this material to build the gate and the garbage corral. Monica commented to the last post with a fence style suggestion. She has great taste, as I had the same style in mind.

I've seen some other horizontal fences with varying board size, but a lot of these required applying lumber to both sides of the fence so you wouldn't see though the slats. This would have increased my fence material costs. Since I am using a PVC fence, I also wanted to avoid ripping the boards, and this design lets me just hang the boards as is. I figured I can do this design with a minimal amount of labor.

So why did I choose PVC over a composite or lumber? One reason is weight. If the back gate were double faced with trex, it would have weighed over 200 lbs. I decided to single side it, but 100 lbs would still have made it susceptible to sagging. A PVC gate will be closer to 60 lbs. Also, the composite materials (like trex) still have wood fiber in them. Wood rots over time, and can mold/mildew over time. Not good. The reason I didn't go with lumber is I didn't want to deal with warping, or the maintenance over time. And the real kicker of why I went with PVC? The local lumber yard was selling it for at about 25% off. Score! It looks sexy too.

I'm hoping to also build some custom 4' planters to hang on the walls eventually, and maybe build a bench on top of the 2' planter bed. That is if the Queen approves my plans. :-)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Courtyard Foundation Complete

oh hai

As you can tell by my elation in this pic, the concrete work in the back is done. I think the walls help to cozy up the space, and I'm glad to have some decent looking planting beds and a concrete pad that isn't buckling up. It looks 342% better.





The yard feels much larger, and despite it being gray block I like the feel of it. Some folks have suggested painting the block, but I like it the way it is. Frank Lloyd Wright was able to use concrete as a main material, and by mixing in other materials and textures was able to bring warmth to the space. This is what I'm hoping to do. I like the industrial/modern look of the material so I'm hoping to embrace it rather than attempt to hide it.


The raised beds in the back and on the side help to break up the space, and once I get some plants in it will help to add texture to the space. Wally has even gotten used to hopping in the bed to do his business, so once we fill it with dirt he is going to be one happy pup. Seeing as I used to own a landscape design company through college I'm excited to be able to have plants again. The current plan for plants is to use a Bloodgood Japanese Maple, some boxwoods, and black mondo grass. I'm not showing you the details on this yet. You'll have to be patient. :-)


The area around the A/C unit has 4 pressure treated posts set into the concrete. I'll pick up some lumber within the next couple of weeks and create a fence around this area to hide the unit, garbage cans, and any other crap that would otherwise clutter up the space. I'm still pondering over the fence and back gate design. I want it to have a modern look, but I want it to be easy to build. I'm also still debating what material to make the gate corral area out of. While I love the look of cedar and redwood, costs can be high and they require maintenance. The other end of the spectrum is pressure treated lumber, but I'd still have to stain it and deal with maintenance. I'm leaning toward material like trex, as it will have better strength properties that will resist warping and there is zero maintenance on the product.

I'm sure most folks would look at the back yard and would want more greenery and the open space that a place like the suburbs would provide, but for a yard in the city I am very pleased. I feel as if we've created an extra 450 sq ft of living space out of nothing. When you've only got 1300 sq ft to start with this feels like a big deal.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

If I Could Think Of a Clever Title It Would Go Here

It was nice to hear from other local bloggers that Apartment Therapy featured the blog. This was a pleasant surprise, seeing as AT randomly stumbled across the blog via their flickr pool and we had no idea they were writing about us.


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Manager want to write god damn login page himself

When you can't sleep why not cruise youtube for Code Monkey.

Or Blondie cover tunes.

This message brought to you by insomnia.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Queen is Amazing

After getting a few bids on the backyard, we finally signed a contract. The work starts Wednesday. The design is approaching something that resembles Design B.

backyard with garbage with AC

Design B

There were pros and cons for either keeping the trash near the alley or near the house, but with bids coming in higher than we decided to go with the cheaper option and put it closer to the house. It's easier to get to in the winter and allowed us to delete the 4' block wall near the alley. Summer said Bmore may be switching one 64 gallon trash can pick up per week, so the enclosure is sized for 2 of my garbage cans, or 1 new larger can, and my recycle bin. Other cost cuts included removing the few steps up into the planting bed, and the counter top area. It pained me to remove the counter area from the design, but in a tough economy it's tough to add design details that may not return your investment. This renovation hasn't been about making money, but we don't want to throw it away.

I'm exicted for the work to begin on Wednesday. The contractor said he thinks he can be done by the weekend. I seriously doubt he'll complete the job of laying all the masonry walls, hammering half of the back pad out and re-pouring this section of the pad. That's ok though. He may not be done by this weekend, but I'm pretty confident by next weekend the backyard will be looking much better.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Impromptu Happy Hour

I'm thinking there needs to be a happy hour tonight. Come out and meet up. Watch my twitterings for where we're headed - probably somewhere around Canton or Fells. Local housebloggers (or other intarweb locals) unite!

Friday, April 3, 2009

I'm a Twit

I started twittering. About halfway down the page you can follow my tweets, and if you've been watching that you would have known some I was up to some reno stuff. If you are a fellow renovator looking to see what I'm up to, or a local and are wondering where I am at the moment, then follow along - my name on twitter is 'bmorerowhouse'.

Courtyard Musings

Remember last year when I posted about the backyard? I decided getting the interior of the house done was a better use of time and funds. Now that Spring is here and interior is looking good we're thinking about the yard again. The design has changed a bit in a year, as we now have a dog so I modified the design to be able to accomodate him. We've even had a few contractors come by to give us bids.

Here is what the yard looks like today, as seen through my back window (I was lazy and didn't want to open the window or screen).


It is 34' deep, by 13' wide. It is mostly a concrete slab with a small dirt area. The dirt area is currently used as Wally's potty, and houses a few city kitties. I tried putting veggies and herbs back there one year but the city kitties ate most of the fruits of my labor. Not good. There is a alley behind the house, and you can see across the alley the houses I mentioned in my last post. In the front right corner of the pic is my AC unit, and beyond this are some concrete blocks the neighbors gave me. The concrete pad for the back half of the lot is pretty much shot, so it needs to be redone. So that is the tour of the place. It's not pretty. Now here is what I'm looking to do....

I'd like to enclose the space with a 6' tall cement block wall. Not the most glamarous of surfaces, but it's relatively inexpensive and it will keep the vermin out. It also provides a good mounting surface to mount lights on. I considered a wood fence, but the vermin could still get in. I'd also like to use some raised beds in the area for some plantings, create an area for a grill and a prep/serving area, and enclose the AC unit and garbage. So here is what I've come up with.

backyard with garbage at back

It has a 6' perimeter wall, a 2' planting bed, the garbage would be hidden behing a 4' concrete wall at the back of the property and the AC unit is enclosed with a wooden slate structure that I would build. The brown slats in the middle are a table and benches that I would also build. The donut looking thing near the middle is a fire pit that we'd put there when we aren't eating (the table would move up to the benches for chow time).

I also did a minor modification where I deleted the 4' concrete wall, and enclosed the garbage cans in with the AC unit. I think I like the first design a bit better, but this would be a bit cheaper.

backyard with garbage with AC

We are really trying to keep costs down, and that for now we are focusing on getting the foundation work done with the finishing details coming later. Which option do you like better? What other suggestions do you have?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Local Effects of the Housing Downturn

The continued souring of the economy leaves me with mixed feelings.


    Despite the housing slump and the unavailability of credit, my immediate area is still seeing considerable renovation. Living in the city I would like to see the rise of urban living, with a resulting increase in services, and decrease in crime. Without investment in residential housing in the area increasing services and decreasing crime become more difficult. I understand I won't see the growth of the 2000-2006, but I don’t want to see decline. I was scared that the death spiraling economy would kill nearly all investment in the area, but this doesn't seem to be the case.

    In the past year the houses on the block behind me I've seen two houses add a level, and the renovation quality on both homes looks excellent. The neighbor immediately behind me is currently renovating his home, and two other homes are also currently undergoing major renovation. In this area, a major renovation means that the house is totatally gutted and built from new. This makes at least 5 homes either going through major renovation, or having completed a major renovation during the past year. With only 15 houses on this side of the street/block, that is about 1/3. I am pleasantly surprised that with this level of development, as I thought may 1 or 2 would undergo renovation.

    Also, there is now a dumpster sitting on my street. You see, here in Baltimore parking is on street as there aren't many driveways or garages. In some communities people would hate to see a dumpster on their street, but I am more than happy to see it. I'm ecstatic. It means investment, which translates to progress.


    My neighbor's house, as well as 1346 other homes in my zip code, are being put up for sale due to back taxes. The lien against the house is for $821. The house is taxed against a $284k "taxable amount". He, along with the other owners that owe back taxes have until 5/1 in order to pay their taxes or their homes will be put up for auction with a minum bid price equal to the lien value on the house. For a list of properties that owe back taxes and will potentially go up for sale check out bidbaltimore.com.

    While I'm sure most owners will pay their back taxes, but this sale shows just how cash strapped people are. I'm really not sure what effect this has on the area's future, if any at all. Guess we'll just have to wait in see.

In the meanwhile, we are still enjoying the house being done. There is a mile long to do list that I have been happily ignoring in my post renovation bliss. Maybe I'll get to it this weekend. Or next weekend. Or maybe next month…

Thursday, March 12, 2009

I've Been Interviewed

Danny over at Urban Discoveries Living Blog graciously interviewed me. Head over and take a look. They have a great blog that follows Baltimore and urban life - I highly suggest following it.

While perusing Urban Discoveries I came across a link to Ziger/Snead Architects. A few clicks later I found myself ogling pictures of their Rappahanock River House. I'm in love. Or at the very least, lust. Make sure you check out the interactive tour, or click through the full slideshow.

Eventually this is the type of place I want. It is on the water, modern, looks like it belongs on the lot, and all that glass.... *le sigh*

Sunday, March 8, 2009


In the quest to ban clutter from the counters I picked up a magnetic knife holder. The butcher block knife holder was banished to the garbage. In the block's place the magnetic Goddess holds my knives on a lofty perch atop the glass mosaic tile backsplash.


One day I'll be able to place a Global Knife in it... Some day.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

New Transom

Ever since we ordered the transom from Steve at Wholly Terra we've been excited to have a piece of art that our neighbors and us can enjoy. Steve stopped by again tonight to install the transom.


I love it. All this for around $500 bucks, and that includes the 2.5 to 3 hours of installation. Totally worth it. I promised Steve I'd take more pictures of it in the light, but I got impatient. Expect more pictures showing it up close, during the day and some more at night. Pictures in better light will show all the different textures of glass he used, and all the various colors in the circles.

Also notice the brushed nickel numbers, new black door, and stainless steel chiasso mailbox and our new light. Our facade is looking sexy.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Turkish Delight, on a Moonlit Night

A few weeks ago I made a resolution to wander more. Making good on my word, the Queen and I are headed to Turkey at the end of May.

We chose Turkey due to low cost and having a good comination of things to do - a good mix of city, country and even some beaches thrown in the mix. That said, the tipping point for Turkey was this article from Budget Travel. Specifically, the pictures below sold us on Turkey.

We are excited to see Istanbul, sea kayak over the ruins of Kekova, and most importanly take a hot air balloon ride through the canyons of Cappadocia. We'll be there for two weeks and are also looking to spend a few days in another European city. Paris, Rome, Munich, and Vienna are all on this short list - hopefully we can find an inexpensive direct flight from Istanbul. Hopefully I'll be able to update the blog while over the pond, and of course I'll take plenty of pictures.

Saturday, February 28, 2009


With the house looking so good we thought it was a good idea to protect it. After watching HBO's, The Wire, some of you understand Baltimore. While you may think having a rottweiler is a big enough deterrent, with a face like this and his love for coach leather collars (Thanks mom!) we're not sure he'd scare an intruder.


In order to supplement our furry security system we ordered the Simplisafe system. The total cost of the sysytem was $320, $15 monthly monitoring fee, and it took about an hour to install. I am very impressed.

I first heard about Simplisafe from unplgged, and it seemed promising. I was skeptical, but after doing some research we decided on this system for the following reasons.

  • Easy installation - After all the work we've done on the house I was not about to rip open the walls to run more wire. Hell no. This meant we isolated our choices to wireless solutions. I read reviews on some wireless system there were many comments of how difficult they were to install. The review I read for this system said it was easy, and after installing it I couldn't agree more. The key fob is actually a thumb drive too, so all you do is plug it into the computer and the software contained on the drive walks you through the install. The folks who made this install software must have been trained by apple, because the process was idiot proof.

    Details like batteries and the double sided tape were included. Simplisafe even has little pull tabs that activate the sensor batteries, so no need to open the units to activate the sensors. Most other systems I found online were BYO-Batteries and even charged extra for the double sided mounting tape. This attention to detail really helped to install this system quickly and easily.

  • Doesn't require a landline - We don't have a landline and even most of the wireless systems require a landline. Not quite wireless, eh? With land lines running $25 a month, and then ~$15 a monthly monitoring fee this didn't seem like a great deal. The other option was an extra $250 up front equipment cost for a GSM chip and the monitoring would then be $26 a month. Again, hell no. This system uses the REFLEX wireless network - the same network the "I've fallen and I can't get up lady" uses. If it's good enough for g-ma, it's good enough for me.

  • Inexpensive base system - The base system with a main keypad, siren, key fob, motion sensor, two door/window sensors and a panic button runs $225. Very nice!!!

  • Inexpensive components - After paying only $225 a month and it only having 2 door/window sensors, I figured additional sensors would cost a small fortune. Not so. Each extra door/window was $10 and $15 for an extra key fob. Me likey.

  • Competitive monthly monitoring costs - Cruising around the intarweb we found deals as low as $9 a month, but this required a landline. Without a landline, things were looking more like $25 a month (plus the up front cost). Simplisafe monitoring runs $15 a month. Not the cheapest, but totally reasonable.

  • Looks cute - We spent time making the house look nice and modern and we didn't want some clunky system. You can barely see this system at all, as all the sensors are small and sleek.

This system isn't for everybody, as does not have fire monitoring. This wasn't an issue for us. My concerns going forward are that this is a relatively new system, so we'll see how easy parts are to get in the future and and if their customer serivice is any good. In another few month's I'll post a follow up review on my thoughts on the system, but so far I am very impressed. Another bonus of the system is that we can even take the system to our next house - all we'd need are a few new pieces of double sided tape.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Another Look at the Living Room

My parents have been beggingasking me to post pictures of the house. I've been feeling lazy. Not much has changed since I posted pictures a month ago, other than some base trim, paint and other miscellaneous crap.

Here is a before picture of the dining area looking into the kitchen before the renovations.


We moved the kitchen from the back right of the house to the left side, and added a half bathroom in the back right corner. In the dining room we removed the faux fireplace, changed out the light fixture, laid floors and decorated. It looks much better now.


A lot of the items we used in the dining area and living room are discussed here. A new addition is a 5x7' wool rug we score for $123 on clearance from rugsusa.com.

Backing up a few steps, you can see the redone stairs.


The stairs were very squeaky. The old stairs treads were screwed into the base thingamajig (I don't know the technical name of the main stair girder) to remove any squeaks. New treads and risers were laid over the old stairs. We used pine treads custom stained and polyurethaned by moi, and 1/4 luan plywood for the risers. The trim up the stairs was redone, and after a coat of white paint to the risers and trim the stairs look like a million bucks. Our teak and peacock blue MCM rocker we scored off ebay looks hawt too.

The TV wall and bookshelf area is also looking a lot better. Before.




I still need to shim a few shelves, run some wiring for the home entertainment center, and straighten the tv. All in due time. I must say that we love our 50" plasma tv. The Queen likes watching the Real Housewives of Orange County, while I prefer to spend time playing XBox 360 games on it.

We finally got our white leather arielle ottoman from Macy's after over six months. We keep it at the front of the house when we're not using it to avoid cluttering the space. We got around to hanging the drapes from Ikea; the pattern helps add some intrest to an otherwise boring wall.


I also changed out the old light with the Fado light from Ikea. We figure it will go well with the custom transom that is forthcoming.