Deuce Cities Henhouse

Tidy It Up : The Garage


Hey Guys! Thanks for all the sweet and honest feedback on my tidying post last week. I would’ve done it either way but hearing that so many of you felt similarly about your houses, apartments, and spaces, encouraged me to jump right into the deep end!

Ace was also super generous encouraging all us Ace bloggers to really get into a big project this summer. For me that was the garage. Last month I shared with you the exterior transformation and the big update on alley appeal. What’s that old saying? Oh yeah, “you can’t judge a book by its cover” or in this case “you can’t assume I would give any craps about the interior of my garage just cause I threw up a few windows, and added a-couple-a flower boxes on the exterior of it”. See below.


I started with what is most likely the biggest mess in town, our garage. Since the spring it has become a dumping place and what was to be a temporary home for all our displaced basement items. When we began moving our basement into the garage earlier this spring we attempted to be organized in our process. Eventually as it became more crowded we would just open the smaller garage door and toss stuff in. Needless to say it was a complete and total chaotic mess, and everything needed to be taken out, gone through, and organized.

I started by removing everything from the garage. I choose a time when I knew weather would be in my favor, the days were cool and the chance of rain was minimal. All the contents of my garage where moved into the backyard. I immediately began making piles for kids stuff, gardening supplies, tools & construction materials, garbage, and items to be donated. It was tedious but I felt encouraged the more and more I emptied the garage.

After the garage was totally cleared out, I began thinking about the best way to use the space. I had quite a few shelves and tables from the basement that I was able to repurpose and I began thinking of storage in terms of zones. The biggest new additions to the garage was my tool collection. Prior to this spring all this handy stuff was making its home in what is now our laundry room. It was always the plan that in order for the basement to be realized, the tools would have to move to the garage. I needed to make myself new workspaces that were organized and very useful. The pegboard was removed from our basement in the spring and I quickly hung it up in the corner of the garage so that I could use it again to make my favorite go-to tools easily accessible. Sitting below the pegboard is a table reused from the basement that for the time being has been appointed the title of ‘my miter-saw-table’. Under the table is a new upright tool box which will make me feel much more secure in storing my bigger more expensive tools in the garage since it locks up. Next to that is my wet dry vac which will be easily accessed for miter saw clean up. What a workflow!

Next to the miter saw/tool situation is shelving (which came up from the basement) that now is a home to all of my other gear; tiling supplies, lighting odds-and-endds, wallpapering crap, sanding stuff, and lots of paint. I have plans of bringing a big chunk of that paint to the hazardous waste drop off tomorrow and then I’ll store the rest of it on shelving in the laundry room over the winter.


I used some scrap wood to make an elevated scrap wood pile. I’ve been watching a lot of Naked and Afraid (which I highly reco) those survivalists are always elevating their shelters so I thought it would be best to elevate the wood pile so it wasn’t wicking up water and getting infested with creepy crawlies and stuff. I might be most excited about this garage addition.


The other majorly sweet new zone is my gardening station. Not only do I have all of my gardening stuff organized on shelving (see below) but I also decided to use this table to make myself a work bench. Above the table are the drawers saved from the original 105-year old workbench that was in the basement. I think it’s pretty cool, and if Nicole Curtis and I were bros, I’m pretty sure she’d be patting me on the back, although she’d probably be pissed that I threw away the rest of the work bench, womp.


Guys! Don’t let them make you feel like you need to get fancy storage bins from the container store, especially in a garage. Reuse containers and if you feel inspired, write what’s inside of them in some sort of overly eager and quirky hand lettering.


I mentioned it last week, but my goals for this house don’t end at just tidying, I also want to repair all the little stuff that’s been driving me nuts. In the garage that was the weather proofing on the big garage door as well as the threshold and weather stripping around the smaller entry door.

This always seems to happen: so many of the projects that I try and constantly avoid turn out to be the easiest quickest and least expensive fixes. Replacing the weather stripping on the big door was as easy as sliding one piece of garage door vinyl out and sliding a new one back in. The smaller entry door was a little more tricky as I needed to chop down this metal threshold with a jig saw and then drill into concrete flooring, but still, it took minutes. Replacing the weather stripping was a breeze and I’m confident that snow, ice and dirt will not be as abundant in our garage this winter as they were last. I was able to update the entry door and the big garage door in less than half an hour and the difference it makes to the space is huger than you’d expect. It takes the garage from appearing forgotten and uncared for to seeming well loved of and happily maintained.

Stay on top of your home-owner-to-do-lists people! It feels good.


I was able to order a few sections of this metal tool organizer from Ace. It was such a game changer for me. Now I was able to get all of my gardening tools, shovels, bike, saws and pruners, up off the floor and hanging vertically and nearly flush on the far wall of the garage! This will all be easy to access and leave lots of room for car parking which I’m pretty sure is what I hear garages are intended for.


We actually got our bikes up off the ground! Can you believe it? I used a pair of these shelf brackets from Ace and was able to mount the bikes on our wall. I grabbed a piece of wood from my scrap wood pile to use as a shelf above and now all of our bike gear, helmets and pumps are all organized, together, in one amazing place!


I didn’t feel like a real home blogger until last weekend when I made my first trip to the city dump. Before then we’d use those bagster things in lieu of a trip to the junkyard. This time we had lots of concrete to get rid of and we didn’t feel like coughing up the $100 plus bucks it costs for the bagster. We had to take a family trip to the dump, and to our surprise throwing chunks of stuff at a big pile of garbage turned out to be really fun and slightly dangerous!

It took over a week to get this garage to where it is now, but the satisfaction and organization that it is bringing to my life is totally worth it. I’m actually a little excited to tackle the next part of my punch list.

Tips for Organizing

Remove all Items from the Space
Organize by Category
Set Goals
Any container can be a storage container
Attack the things that you’ve been avoiding first

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I’m excited to be collaborating with Ace Hardware as a part of their Ace Blogger Panel! Ace has provided me with compensation and some of the materials necessary to complete this project! All opinions are my own. Thanks a biznillion, Ace!
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in Around the House, House Keeping

All I want is Tidiness!

Dark Blue Living Room | Deuce Cities Henhouse
Hmm, I don’t know what it is, maybe that two-and-a-half-month remodeling of the basement or could it be that my kids were making huge messes all summer long, but somehow my house is chaotic! I just want one of those houses that looks pretty, put together, and organized all the time, is that too much to ask? When the kids were younger I was so good at tidying up daily and staying on top of the ins and outs of the house, but right now I feel like it’s just gotten so away from me. How do I get it back?

Lack of motivation aside (which honestly has been plaguing me lately), I need to just make a list and stick to it. Not just some puny to-do list, but like a full on punch list that includes all the minutia that drives me crazy and is just begging to be addressed. For example, messy cupboards in the kitchen, chipped paint on the cabinets, the dust between radiators and paint drips on molding that need to be sanded and repaired.

I want this house to feel like the house we have worked so hard for and not the through-it-in-a-pile-and-don’t-think-about-it space that it is now.

I’m starting with my garage and my living room. The garage was stacked and packed with a bunch of stuff that we had been storing from the basement. Earlier this week I pulled all that stuff out from the garage and placed it in the middle of my backyard and have been slowly picking my way through it.

I also attacked the living room as seen in these pics. I pulled out all the furniture and rearranged it, cleaned everything including the radiators, woodwork, and upholstery on the furniture. It feels so good to start this process and gives me encouragement to soldier on.

If you guys are cool with it, I might just share with you some of these minor victories over the next few weeks. Maybe you guys are feeling the itch too, and maybe we can all get in and really clean up our houses together?? Tell me what you think? Feel free to post or send pics too. I’d love to see what you guys are getting into.

Dark Blue Living Room | Deuce Cities Henhouse

Dark Blue Living Room | Deuce Cities Henhouse

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in Around the House, housekeeping, Living Room

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Hi Guys! Woah, what a crazy summer this has been. I am so happy that the basement is finally done. It’s been overwhelming to say the least. I thought I was totally prepared for a remodeling project and didn’t think that it would affect our typical day-to-day lifestyle too much – I was so totally wrong.

Yes, it wasn’t as bad as I’m sure a kitchen remodel would be, and I’m so thankful we have this awesome basement now, but – holy hell – it still was bad. We didn’t have access to laundry for 7 weeks, the time spent away from the house trying avoid the construction was hard on the kids (especially Gus), and the three weeks I spent doing painting, wallpapering and cabinet installation took a toll on our family life.

The basement as it sits is about 90% finished. There is still a handful of things that need to be done, but I had to call it quits for my own sanity. Last Friday was the deadline I gave myself and I feel pretty good about where things ended up at that line in the sand. Now I’m going to spend some time with the kids before school starts next week. After they head back and I have a few more free hours in the day, I need to focus on the rest of the house that’s not the basement – doing some major purging, organizing, cleaning, and fixing up – before I can even begin to think about getting back to the basement and the remaining bathroom work down there.

So now that I got all that doom and gloom stuff out of the way, let me show you around our new lifestyle-transforming basement.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

The “Before” shot looks nothing like the “After”, and I’m sorry if that’s a bit disorienting. The tiled mirrored glass wall no longer exists. It was the wall of our old storage space that we demo’d to create more space.

I can’t say enough about our contractor and his team. They were really great to work with, collaborative and respectful. Feel free to send an e-mail my way if you live in the western twin cities area and have more questions about our experience with them.

Early on in the whole process Jeff and I met up with our old buddy J-Tapp (aka Archi-Tapp, aka John), who happens to be an Architect, to help us brainstorm what might be possible for the space. He gave us the great idea of using the pre-existing angled nook as a TV area with built-in seating.

He also told me I had to learn Sketchup, which became an invaluable tool. I can’t recommend it enough. It was a little intimidating and took a bit to get used to, but after watching a few YouTube vids I was good to go and able to use it as an effective way to communicate what I envisioned for the basement to prospective contractors.

Having a clear idea of what we wanted the basement to look like going into the whole contractor interviewing process was probably a little off-putting for some of the folks we talked with, but most of them embraced the design and the clear idea. We saw a wide spectrum of contractors from high-end Design-Build types to super affordable handy-man dudes.

After meeting with a few contractors we quickly realized that our original budget wasn’t going to hold up if we wanted the bathroom roughed in with plumbing and a shower pan. We weighed our options and decided that we only needed to have the bathroom completed enough for me to come in at a later date and finish tiling, sink install and basic plumbing stuffs. Our dream was also to have a gas fireplace as well, but we nixed that early on in favor of the bathroom rough-in, an egress window and some very realistic faux-wood vinyl flooring. Trying to fit within the budget comes with a few compromises. A few small things pushed our costs up a little beyond where we’d hoped – the new concrete slab we had to have poured in, plumbing for the future sink, and some extra lighting add-ons.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
This is the media area, notice that there is shelving missing for record storage? It’s just one of those things that still needs to be done and will happen later on. The extra add-ons to the Budg left us without the funds needed for extras such as a new turntable and stereo receiver for the media area, and extra furniture pieces. We’ll get to all that stuff in time and for now we’re just borrowing from other parts of the house.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
One of those funny dream things that we always wanted for the basement was a beverage cooler for kid and adult beverages alike. It’s been kind of dreamy being within arm’s reach of nicely chilled beers the last few hot summer days.

Notice the condensation on the ‘fridge. It’s been comfortable in the basement if you aren’t constructing cabinets and installing TV’s. This last week of 90º temps and super humidity almost killed me. A dehumidifier will definitely have to be one of those things we purchase before next summer, and it will be so easy to set up with the new drain we had installed back in the utility/laundry room.

Oh, and look! That’s the new larger “egress” window we had put in. It’s not a true egress; it only opens two feet as opposed to the three required for an egress window in Minneapolis. We don’t have a bedroom down here, so code doesn’t require a true egress and I didn’t want the window well jutting into my veggie garden on the exterior side of the house. The new window lets in so much light that I wish we could have windows this size all over da place. Also, we had all the glass block windows replaced with brand new windows, which has been transformative to say the least! I love being able to actually see outside.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Let’s talk about old stuff, k? You guys know I love that this house is old and I’m always wanting to take care of it and restore it and love it up and so on. Of course, in this basement there was nothing original about it, or at least so I thought. There was the original radiator and sewage pipes, but that was nothing I really wanted to keep around. We spent a big chunk of our budget to remove the lion’s share of the plumbing (most of it located under the concrete) and radiator pipes that hung low and practically hit old Jeff-y in the head. That stuff was so worth updating, and I’m so glad we did.

Jeff and I reveled in the fact that we (hopefully) won’t be experiencing any more gross plumbing back-ups due to all the rust that had built up in our original cast iron pipes. It feels so good to know that stuff behind the scenes is actually brand new!

In our utility area there had been an old work bench that had been scrapped together with wood pieces. I was quite enamored by it, but it had been built into a wall that needed to be removed and I just wasn’t going to kill myself trying to save it. I did save the three drawers just in case I could use them for something (and I just may in our garage). When Dan, our main carpenter was doing the demo on the bench he found these three sign pieces that had been used to build the bench. They appeared to be part of an old hand-lettered sign and when I saw it I was so happy that I knew I could actually keep part of the old bench and use it as sentimental decor in the basement, and here it is. The quote isn’t that amazing (“Business goes where the innovation is the least attractive and stays where it is best treated”), but the silver lettering is so good.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
The workbench from the utility room.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
I also grabbed the hardware off of the old storage/coal room before saying goodbye to the old basement. I stripped the hardware the week demo began and ended up finding the most beautiful porcelain door knob. Duh, of course I would use it again on the door in the basement and ordered an exact reproduction from Rejuvenation. Also, the door: it’s still not been painted. This is just the primer coat, but I am very much considering painting it black because I think it could look so totally amazing. That’s one of those project that will come later, after I finish cleaning the layers of dust off of the rest of my home.

Choosing reproduction trim and baseboard was an easy way for us to give a nod to the historic elements of the house. The trim and baseboard closely resembled the trim on upper levels of the house, and I think giving a thoughtful homage to the age of the home makes the basement fit in.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
It’s no secret that us Allens love us some TV. However, we’ve always restricted the depth of our screen-love by limiting ourselves to only having the smallest crappiest TV’s in existence. Just ask our friends and fam, it’s very true. So this was a big deal for us to get a 55″ TV, set it up with some HD cable options and vid games. It’s new, so of course we’ve watched a lot of it, but I’m hopeful we will regain some of our tormented-TV-watching-ways soon enough. That TV is only meant to save us from the winter blues and that stuff.

Let me tell you a few things I learned about media cables. They are the most amazingly huge pain-in-the-butt thing to get right. We have this 2″ tube that runs from behind the TV to the cabinets next to the TV where we store the cable box, Wii, and all that cool stuff. We have to shuttle all of the HDMI cables and whatnots over on this little nylon cord, and something always goes wrong. I just ordered up our third set of cables. The first snapped at the HDMI connector, the second set were just too short and the third will hopefully be long enough. If we can manage to get all of those cords through I will be chugging champagne in jubilant celebration. I had no idea that such a simple system was so terribly inconvenient and stress inducing.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Patti & Bruce might be one of my favorite additions to the basement. Don’t touch ‘em though or you will discover that they were framed with the most lightweight material ever used in framing. Oh well, that’s what you get from ordering from allposters.com. Patti does a nice job of covering up our breaker box, and they both look so nice on the Cole & Son Woods wallpaper. Oh yeah, I did get paper happy and decided to do this wall too at the last minute.

Most of the pillows were from H&M home and if you haven’t discovered their Home section yet, you oughta’. Most of the cases were five bucks a piece. Pair that with a six dollar insert from Ikea and you will be living in pillow heaven, my friends. The light and the sofa were the only other new items added to the basement. The sofa is the Karlstad (RIP) from Ikea. I pieced this together before demo even started – it was already being discontinued from stores and the sofa and covers were all hard to find. We will never live without another Ikea sofa in this basement as long as we both shall live as the flat-pack-sofa is the only thing that will fit down the narrow stairs and doorway to our basement. It’s amazing that those genius Ikea designers allow me to fit a large sectional sofa into down my dinky little stair way. FYI we didn’t have the stairway heightened because it would’ve affected our main staircase upstairs, which was non-negotiable.

The rug, Bertoia wire chair, and plants are all from our bedroom. When in doubt, shop your house. We have an orange upholstered chair that we plan on some day having reupholstered and using down here in the basement. The Docksta table in the hang out area is from the porch and the chairs are from the kitchen and spare bedroom. We will have to purchase new furniture down the road, but this all works for now.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
On the far corner of the basement, I firmly installed some more Ikea cabinets to create bench seating with storage below. This will come in handy when we have large groups here for parties. The floor space that it wraps around is a perfect spot for the kids to play too. Gus especially likes to play trains here and we can hide all his train parts away in the shelving. Also, those yardsticks are from Grandpa’s ruler collection.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
So this is what we’ve dubbed the “hallway” of the basement. It is the point at which you enter the basement and are “greeted” by a long wall of cabinets. These cabinets are key to the basement. It was the only way we could part with our storage space from before. We’ll be using the first set of cabinets as overflow pantry items from the kitchen. The rest will all be storage, games and kids stuff. We are so excited to have this extra space!

 
Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

I still have to do something about these stairs. I have big dreams of making ‘em pretty with some paint stripper and new stain and paint, but we’ll have to see if that’s even possible. After removing the carpet I discovered they were in pretty rough shape.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Lighting! It’s a thing that is necessary, especially in basements. Our basement is light and airy on sunny days but during overcast afternoons and evenings it needs light. Part of the plan was to add this 4″ high soffit around the entire perimeter of the room. Its purpose is to provide us with this nice downward lighting and we love it. We also have recessed lights on the ceiling, but those are only used when the kids need lots of light to play. Besides that, the recessed main lighting hasn’t been the most attractive or moody lighting, but is totally necessary in a basement.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel
Here’s your peak at the basement bathroom. It’s all roughed in, we have a huge shower stall ready for tile and all the plumbing is in place and ready for this incredible sink. We’ll get to all of that this winter.

Scandinavian inspired basement remodel

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in Around the House, Basement

It’s Cocktail Time : Watermelon Margarita

Watermelon Margaritas | Deuce Cities Henhouse
Here’s a recipe for the-old-bar-cart-cookbook. I needed a lot of these last weekend when I discovered that Ikea gave me 12 wrong cabinets. There is nothing like realizing the 3 hours you spent playing musical chairs with vehicles, bribing someone to watch your kids, and then waiting hours at an Ikea fulfillment area (which just so happens to be located next to the world’s squeakiest (like loose your god damn mind squeaky) automatic sliding door) was all done in vane. A watermelon cocktail was the only thing I needed after making this gut wrenching discovery.

Make this when Ikea does you wrong!

Watermelon Margaritas | Deuce Cities Henhouse

   
 

Watermelon Margarita

For the Watermelon Mixer:
▼ 1/2 a medium sized watermelon
▼ 3 tsps sugar

For the Cocktail:
▼ 1 lime squeezed
▼ 2 oz Tequila
▼ 1oz Triple Sec
▼ 2oz Watermelon Mixer

To make the Watermelon mixer: Take the rind off the watermelon, cut the watermelon into small slice and then puree in food processor. Use a strainer to sepearte the watermelon juice from the pulp. Add sugar to the juice and refigerate.

For the cocktail: Salt or sugar the rim of a 8oz cocktail glass. Take the juice of one lime, the tequila and triple sec and stir in the bottom of a glass. Add ice, and top off with watermelon juice. Garnish with mint, lime or watermelon. Enjoy!

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in Eats

My July Garden

Veggies

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse
Hello, Friendz! As I mentioned earlier this summer, my garden has had a rough go of it this season. The side garden was torn up and trampled by worker dudes, the veggie garden couldn’t be accessed for maintenance due to piles of dirt next to them, and I lost my Japanese maple. Yes, I am sad to announce that the maple is officially a goner. Happily, I did replace it with a new Empire I Japanese maple and I planted it in a different location. I have my fingers and toes crossed for this one – so far it’s thriving. All of the ups and downs are all part of the gardening adventure, so I try not to feel too bummed out.

I’m on the hunt for late summer flowering zone 4 perennials for shade and sun. I’m realizing (and you can tell by the pics) that I don’t have a lot flowering right now. I need to fix that and make a plan for next year. So all you green thumbs out there, let me know what I should be considering for next year’s late-summer-bloomers.

A few weeks the hus-bo was out of town for the weekend and I was left to my own devices, I decided to go hard on the veggie garden. I spent the entire day out in the sun, pulling weeds, edging the borders, and replanting peas and leaf lettuce that had become over grown. It all looks kind of pretty now, and spending a full day in the garden made me so happy. The pole beans are growing out of control, we have cucumbers and kale. The carrots are almost ready for harvesting and the potatoes (aka french fries) look like they must be growing well under the soil.

 

Zinnia

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse
Zinnias have always been a go to annual plant for me. I always plant them from seed and I love to see them in my sun-loving garden. The Zinnias are not coming in this year like they have in the past. I think that my sun garden perennials are becoming so large that they are shading the seedlings and causing them not to grow as mightily as they have in years past. I’m thinking this will be the last year that I seed them in the sun garden and instead will start seeding them in the small gardens next to the garage where they will be sure to get lots of sun. They make the best cut flower and I would hate to give up on them.

 

Dahlias

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse
My Dahlias are having the same problem the Zinnias are. This normally sunny location is starting to get too shaded by large full grown hostas and the shade of the new fence. I think next year I will try to plant the tubers on the side of the house near the veggie gardens where sun is plentiful.

 

Hydrangea Bush

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse

 

Weeping Crab Apple

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse
The weeping crab apple tree on the corner of our yard is getting big! It was supposed to reach a maximum height and width of 10 feet, and in only 4 short years it has already achieved that. I hope that this is it for the outward growth of this tree, otherwise I don’t know what I’m gonna do!

 

Lily

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse
I planted some new lily bulbs at the beginning of the spring, and they just bloomed. I love them! They sit right next to the copper bird bath and they are absolutely spectacular!

 

Cone Flower

My July Garden | Deuce Cities Henhouse
I just added some new Coneflowers (aka Echinacea) and Liatris around the new egress window well. This is an especially sunny spot, and I wanted to add some flowers that the bees and butterflies could enjoy.

Happy gardening people, and don’t forget to throw your summer bloomer suggestions my way!

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in gardening