1. Hanging a new light fixture
The old light fixture was crystal with those candle-looking lights, and after liberating the room from its Victorian past, it just looked way too formal. We bought a new fixture last year, but there were a couple of obstacles to hanging it - the ceiling rose (that it would hang from) was off-center in the room, there was no joist to hang the light from (the old one was hanging from the plaster - yikes!), and the electrical box was making scary noises. So we put it off month after month as we tried to come up with a reasonably elegant solution to the off-center problem. In the end, we decided to try the simplest thing first - just hanging it off-center and seeing if our persnickety selves could live with it (we also added some ceiling reinforcements and fixed the buzzing electrical box, of course). And you know what? It's fine. Who walks into someone else's house and notices an ever-so-slightly off-center ceiling light anyway?
2. Painting the mantel mirror
The fireplace surround, mantel, and mirror used to be a monstrosity of mismatched wood tones with trim upon piece of trim mishmashed together. A couple of years ago, we disassembled the whole thing, sanded it down and re-stained it one color, removed all the excess trim, added a tile surround, and rehung the mirror. But we never got around the finishing the mirror. Should we stain it? Paint it to match the trim? Bring an accent color in? Rather than make the wrong decision, we just let it sit unfinished (which actually was the even wrong-er decision). A few weeks ago, we decided to bite the bullet and paint it with a slightly metallic gunmetally-bronze-ish color. And we love it. It picks up the metal in the new light fixture, the color of the tiles in the fireplace surround, and the lead in the leaded glass window above the french doors. Maybe not the most daring solution, but it works for us.
3. Securing and painting the french doors
Speaking of the french doors, these have taken a lot of work, which I won't get into. Suffice it to say, they needed to be secured (so they didn't swing open), they needed doorknobs, they needed a new threshold, and most of all, they needed to be painted. We'd lived with brown doors and white trim for so long that we didn't even notice it. But now that they're painted - wow! They brighten up that whole corner of the room and make it look so much more polished. Of course, now that you look through them rather than at them, you notice the piles of lumber and the old disassembled toilet sitting in the alley. Hmmm... time to do something about that.
4. Incorporating a music playing area and bar
We have a bunch of instruments that almost never get played because they're tucked away somewhere. One of Ryan's New Year's resolutions is to play more music, so we decided to bring our instruments out into the light of day and make them easier to pick up and play. And thus, our music nook was born. We hung the guitar on a hook on the wall, bought a new (supposedly impossible to knock over and hopefully cat-proof) wooden banjo stand (that has yet to arrive), and hung the bodhran (an Irish drum) from a second hook. We're still thinking about the violin (sometimes fiddle!), didgeridoo, and other drums. We'd also like to find a more attractive music stand, a table light, and maybe a little art to jazz up (ha!) the area.
Along with the music nook, we wanted to add a bar. It must be the Mad Men craze, but every time I look at a magazine or design blog, I see bars, booze carts, trays laden with bottles... people seem to be into displaying their alcohol. I thought this was a great idea for our dining room because it would empty out a HUGE area of our kitchen (Kidding! We don't have that many bottles!). Okay, it would give us a little more space in the kitchen, make it easier to offer guests a drink, and let's face it, a lot of bottles are really nice looking and deserve to be showed off! We found some shelving wood in the garage left over from another project, wood stain, and a couple of brackets, and we built ourselves a bar shelf above the new music nook. It really balances out the bulk of the radiator on the other side of the fireplace, and it makes the room feel cozy. We love it.
All in all, a lot of changes over a few weeks!