The cliff

I’ve neglected to mention something rather big on Fawn Log, which is that Tony and I are expecting a baby in early September! I’m pretty sure that all twelve readers of this blog know this, since you also know me in real life and/or are my friend on Facebook. But just in case some fabulous literary agent is secretly following along with my life on Fawn Log, just waiting for the opportunity to offer me a contract to further detail my DIY, relationship, and lifestyle insights in book form, I thought I should formally announce here. Good news, mysterious literary agent who almost certainly does not exist– I’m sure I’ll soon be qualified to write a parenting book as well!

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Here’s a fun project we did. Over the past year we (okay, it was Tony) saved scraps of the many wallpaper layers we removed from all the different rooms. We finally got around to hanging the prettiest ones by our front door. I think it’s a really great tribute to the history of our house and all the work we’ve put into it. And I also just love how it looks.

If someone– literary agent, is that you again?– asked me to sum up my pregnancy in two words, those words would be frantic and joyful. If I could expand my list to three words, those words would be frantic, joyful, and terrifying. It’s been frantic because, as you all know, we bought a technically uninhabitable house a year ago on May 15th (house anniversary! We can’t believe it!). Living in a work-in-progress construction zone as an adult can be difficult, but it’s doable. It’s less doable, it seems, for infants and young children. Tony and I have been frantically working to finish our house and have also–  perhaps stupidly– taken on a big project to add an addition to replace the wonky, not-original back porch. The addition will get the washer/dryer out of what will be the nursery and add a much-needed second closet to our house.  The last 6 months (6 months today! How?!) of pregnancy have been pointed at an almost singular goal: finish the house. The DIY parts have still been fun, but it’s a fun that’s been infused, at times, with no small amount of anxiety.

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The time everyone helped us yank the back porch off our house. This part was actually not anxiety-producing, but it was totally thrilling. I’d highly recommend yanking unsightly rooms off your home!

Luckily, pregnancy thus far has also been joyful. It’s fun expecting a baby, and thinking about what he/she/it will be like. We found out a couple weeks ago that the baby is a girl, and it’s more real now that we can start thinking of her as a she. Tony got me this onesie and I really love it:

Pregnancy has been terrifying for reasons that are probably universal. Nothing in my life has ever felt so much like I’m running as fast as I can towards a cliff. I am hopeful that the free-fall at the end is towards something amazing, and beautiful, and life-affirming, like so many people describe parenthood. Even if it is all those things, I’m sure it will also be extremely difficult (like so many of those same people also describe parenthood). The scariest part for me is not that it will be difficult, but that I just can’t imagine what the difficulties, or the joys, will be like. It’s the unknown that gets me.

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I stupidly didn’t take a before picture, but here’s an old entertainment center we bought off craigslist for $50. We painted it, changed out the handles, and added a clothes bar in the spot where the box TV used to go.

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Here’s the inside– it’s the perfect size for hanging baby clothes! Don’t worry, this was what it looked like last month, before we knew the sex of the baby. We now have at LEAST 5 times this many clothes, and a shocking number of them are pink. Thank you, thank you to the family members who have given us so many amazing hand-me-down baby clothes. I am so happy that our baby will be able to wear mostly used clothes for our bank account’s sake and the sake of the earf.

Getting married scared the crap out of me, not because I didn’t love Tony and want to spend the rest of my life with him, but because I worried that something fundamental would change between us. What if I didn’t like that change? It turns out that some things did change, and in so far exclusively excellent ways. I feel closer to Tony, we’re better about planning for a long-term future, and when I introduce him to people as my husband they acknowledge and understand the importance of my relationship in way they maybe wouldn’t have if Tony was still “just” my boyfriend. Mostly, though, we’re still the same people with the same traits and issues. I’m grateful for that.

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My mom thinks this is disturbing, but I think our FaceSwap is adorable. Look how cute Tony is! And I make a very handsome dude!

Maybe having a baby is the same way. Maybe the cliff is less terrifying than I imagine. Or maybe it’s more terrifying, but I ought to embrace it anyway. Either way it’s coming for me, or I’m coming for it, or maybe I should stop writing about just myself here and acknowledge that Tony and I and our daughter are all running towards this thing and will find out together what happens when we jump off. That part, at least, is comforting.

 

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The Tub Lady

The other day I got a text from my brother which contained a screenshot of a text he had recently received from a friend of his, asking him to ask me to write a Fawn Log post. Never before has a text screenshot so delighted me!

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This post is for Charlie’s friend Anna. (Sorry it’s about our bathroom, Anna).

Back in the heady months after we bought the house but had still not moved in, I wrote several posts about our bathroom progress. You can refresh your memory here, here, and here.

To recap, this room was a disaster. The wallpaper was water damaged and falling off the walls, the wood floor was rotting through in several places, and the entire room just felt super dirty and disgusting. Oh, and also the entire plumbing system for the house was in terrible shape and turning on the water main caused the bathroom sink to leak copious amounts of water into a handy bucket that the former owner had left behind.

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note red bucket in lower right

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Our first step was getting all the plumbing for the entire house replaced. This seems like a really big deal, doesn’t it? Fortunately this is one of those home renovation things that sounds scarier than it was. If I’m remembering right, it took the plumber just a day, maybe two. I don’t remember the exact cost but I know it was less than $1,000. (Tony wants me to say that he thinks it was closer to $1,500.) Now our plumbing works great! And if we ever sell this place, we’ll put on the listing, “ALL NEW PLUMBING” and buyers will be lining up around the block, right?

While he was here, we also had the plumber run a line for the shower up the wall of the bathroom, so that we wouldn’t need to use a rickety free-standing shower attachment with our clawfoot tub. I talked about how we repaired the wall after that plumbing job here.

Because the wood floor was in such crummy shape here in the bathroom, we decided to tile over it. We chose hexagonal tile because it could have been used at the time period when this house was built. Also we love how it looks.  We priced a bunch of hex tile and found American Olean at Lowe’s to be the cheapest. It was still a splurge at roughly $300 for the room, but as a permanent fixture in the bathroom, it seemed like a worthwhile expense. (One note: we had to special order this tile, and Lowe’s didn’t have any samples for us to look at. The tile color is called “Ice White” which scared us. Ice White sounds like it would be a very cool blue-ish white, right? When I think of hex tile at old drugstores, I don’t think of blue-ish white at all. We eventually ended up ordering it anyway despite our misgivings about the name. It was totally perfect when it arrived, exactly how I picture old hex tile: true white with just a hint of warmth. If you’re reading this, American Olean, I would highly recommend changing your tile name to Drugstore White or Classic White or any name that does not evoke the icy tundra.)

The wall mount sink was pretty amazing, and there’s a part of me that still regrets not trying to save it. The porcelain had chipped in many areas and it leaked profusely. Also, it was an old style sink with hot and cold handles, which seemed like something that would be fun and whimsical in a bathroom we didn’t plan to use every day, but a real pain in the ass otherwise. Furthermore, since it was a wall-mount, there was no storage underneath. For a small bathroom, in a small house, this seemed almost criminal. We decided to donate it to Home Restore, and I sincerely hope that someone with a little-used but impeccably decorated half bathroom is now its proud owner

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To replace it, we got this sink and cabinet from Ikea:

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I liked the bead board look on the cabinet door a lot, because I think it has a slight vintage feel. We enhanced that by replacing the original cabinet knob with a bigger wooden knob that we took off an old dresser. I really like this cabinet.

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I’m also super proud of the fact that I assembled it and mounted it to the wall by myself. That was actually the first time I ever found a wall stud. What business did I have buying an inhabitable house, having never once found a wall stud on my own? None at all, I tell you!

We didn’t use the feet because they’re not necessary and we didn’t like how they looked. Also, there’s something about a floating cabinet with vintage elements that seems especially cool to me.

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The tub is Tony’s masterpiece. It was his idea to paint the outside black, which I thought was crazy at first. But he was so right. Look at it! Look at it! It is probably my favorite part of the whole house, and maybe also my life. I love baths and fancy bath salts now!

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The bathtub was in great shape for being over 100 years old. It’s made of cast iron and is incredibly heavy (Tony and I moved it into the bathroom together after we tiled and I have no idea how we both avoided hernias). It did have a chip in the porcelain that was probably 2.5″ in diameter. We could have used it with the chip, but it wouldn’t have been good for the cast iron over the long term. We found a guy here in town who makes tub repairs and he patched the spot for us for around $100. It’s not a permanent fix– it will likely need to be repaired again in 5-10 years– but we’re happy to have extended the life of this amazing tub.

The strangest part of the whole deal was that the name of the repair guy’s business is Tub Lady. After booking an appointment with Tub Lady, we were surprised when a middle-aged man dressed according to expected gender norms arrived at our door. I guess he started the business with his wife and she answers the phones, but he does all of the repair work and is the public face of the business. If Tony and I ever start a home renovation business, I will make sure that we name it Home Renovation Lady. I never would have realized that was an option until our encounter with Tub Lady!

We got our shower head and arm off Amazon. Again, I like that they have a more modern feel that I hope mixes in an interesting way with the historical elements of the bathroom.

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When we take a shower, we pull the curtain all the way around so that our tub looks like this:

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Moving on to the shelves above the toilet.

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Kate gave us one of those cute bathroom baskets for our wedding (thanks Kate!) and we ended up liking it so much we bought a second one. They’re from Target, but I don’t see them on the website anymore, bummer. They’ve been a super useful way to add a bit more storage to the bathroom.

I’ll admit that we went a little crazy on the towel rack and toilet paper holder. We used these curtain rods from Ikea throughout the house, and we thought they would be cool to tweak for towel and toilet paper use:

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The crazy part came when someone (Tony) got a little obsessive (Tony) and decided that the little strip of white plastic that holds the short part of the rod to the wall was unsightly (Tony). We fixed this by actually removing part of the plaster wall, affixing the plastic piece to the lath behind the plaster, and then repairing the wall around it. This makes it look like the towel rack and toilet paper holder are just coming straight out of the wall. I can admit now that this is cool and looks great (it may or may not have have taken me several months of patient reflection to reach this level of maturity about this issue).

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Grace and Phil gave us that photograph of the now-demolished Cat & Fiddle a long time ago. Thanks Grace and Phil!

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Look ma, no plastic!

For the window, Tony got this pebbled glass cut to the right size and then we installed it. We don’t need curtains for the top of the window (it’s too tall for anyone outside to see anything exciting through there) but sometimes I think we should install some. What do you think?

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As I’ve bragged about on this blog before, this amazing ceiling light fixture came with the house.

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Before

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After

I don’t think it’s original to the house, but it is very old. Based on my google image searching of other light fixture with crystal like that, I would guess that it’s from the 1920’s.

We got this cool light fixture above the mirror at a creepy junk shop in town. I think it matches really well with the other fixture.

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It was $5! It’s from the 1930’s. We want to get Edison bulbs for it someday, but we haven’t yet.

In other things still left to do: the mirror is just a cheap generic one from Ikea. We want to find a cool vintage one, but vintage mirrors are expensive and hard to come by. We’re keeping our eye out.

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We also need to install the last bit of trim around the perimeter of the room. Here’s what our trim looks like in other finished rooms:

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Note that teeny piece around the bottom.

Adding this in the bathroom will hide some of our sloppy tile work around the edges of the room.

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We also need to finish stripping our bathroom door.

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Before

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In the middle

This door is so cool and old, and we’d love to be able to strip it down to the original wood and then stain and polyurethane it. You can see how amazing the original wood looks on the bottom half. Can you imagine how cool that would look if stained a medium dark tone? The problem is twofold: one, stripping paint is incredibly tedious and two, guests expect a bathroom door when they come over to our house (so high maintenance!). We’ve taken this door off and put it back on so many times. We’re either going to finish stripping it soon or we’re going to give up and repaint the whole thing.

I’m impressed that I’ve kept this post to just over 1,800 words, because I really could talk about our bathroom forever. I never thought I’d get to live in a house with a bathroom this cool, and it’s still amazing to me that we basically made it into what it is by ourselves.

I’ll leave you with one last before and after. Love you, bathroom! Love you, Anna!

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Before

 

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After

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The Redwood Forest

One home renovation truism you often hear is that it takes longer than you expect. This has been true for Tony and I in very concrete ways. For example, we planned to be able to be able to move into our house in July and didn’t actually move in until October. But it’s also been true in a way that I didn’t anticipate, which has more to do with emotion than the well-meaning Lowe’s people will ever admit.

Something happens when you spend a lot of late nights in a room peeling wallpaper, or patching old plaster walls, or installing trim. Invest that much time and energy in a place, and a room becomes an old but fickle friend.  It’s not annoyance you feel when you find mold beneath the window, it’s empathy. When the top layer of plaster crumbles away from the wall with the wallpaper, it’s hard not to take it personally. You catch yourself thinking: “Why is the foyer acting this way?”

When you get that close to a room, you understand that there isn’t an end point. You and the room may achieve some sort of evolution together, but you’ll know that the effect is transitory. The ten layers of wallpaper you’ve removed speak to that: this room was here long before you and it will be here after you. You bear only temporary witness to these four walls. The room is the Redwood Forest, and you are the awe-struck tourist coming to terms with your own insignificance.

This is a lovely realization. When you come to it, you understand that you will never “finish” a room.

Having found myself in that place recently, I didn’t know what to do with Fawn Log. I wanted to show before and afters, but how could I when I’d decided  that “after” is a false narrative? My temporary solution was just to not write anything, but I’m starting to miss showing off our beautiful house to the internet. My new solution is to screw the after, and instead aim to show you some things in between as I feel like it.

Without further ado, here are some pictures of my Redwood Forest, the foyer.

The foyer on the day we closed on the house, May 15, 2015:

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The foyer on the day we found the brick wallpaper under the floral wallpaper on the west wall (a few days before our wedding on June 6, 2015):

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The foyer on the day after we found the actual brick under the brick wallpaper, September 6, 2015:

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The foyer on the first of several days we spent sanding all the wood floors, September 13th, 2015:

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The foyer with finished floor, October 11, 2015:

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The foyer on the day we sanded all the walls because of the aforementioned top-layer-of-plaster-crumbling-off-with-wallpaper problem, the day before my 28th birthday, December 5th, 2015:

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Screen Shot 2016-01-20 at 9.08.12 PMThe foyer on the day I wrote this blog post, January 20, 2016:

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It’s not finished by a long shot, but we like where it’s going.

 

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