7th House on the Left


posted by Greg & Ashley  /  14 Comments

In the spirit of April Fools Day, rather than trying to trick all of our readers into believing something that’s untrue, we thought we’d turn our usual “Favorite Things” post on its ear and talk about some of our pet peeves and love/hate relationships.

1. Junk Mail. Let’s face it–virtually nothing good comes in the mail. Unless you receive an above-average number of letters, magazines, cards or paychecks, snail mail is quite a downer.  Why is it that every company on the face of the planet sees fit to make my job of sorting the mail even more of a chore?  I’d rather just pick out the good stuff and assume the rest is bills.
2. Power Outages. Just like most negative coincidences (car won’t start, computer crashes, etc.), power outages tend to happen at the most inopportune times. On Wednesday, I had a ton of work to get done, and the power went out. Of course, leave it to me to try to make the best of the situation by taking a few minutes to play my guitar.  The only problem was I had unplugged everything a lot of stuff around the house (because of the lightning) that would have given me a clue as to whether the power was back on or not.  About 30 minutes after the power came back on, Ashley asked me to tweak a few things on the blog. Only then did I realize everything was back on and working, and had been for some time.  Yeah. I hate power outages. 
3. Organizations without websites. In this day in age, if you don’t have a website, you don’t exist.  Every company and organization worth its salt should have at least a “business card website” with current contact information.  
4. “Free to Play” iPhone/Android Games. Also known as “freemium” games. Maybe I’m a little too “old school” when it comes to this sort of thing, but I’d much rather pay for a game (or an app) one time and be done with it. That being said, some of these games are an absolutely terrific waste of time (in a good way), and I can’t put them down.  They make you want to buy all the cool little perks that other people have spent real money on. The next thing you know, you’ve spent $20 on an iPhone/Android game that was “free” when you first downloaded it.
5. PetSmart’s Martha Stewart Pets Line. As much as our little puppy is like a son to us, he’s also a dog. I seriously doubt he knows the difference between a regular dog toy and one from the Martha Stewart Pets Line at PetSmart. But the thing is… Ashley does. Now, Martha Stewart is A-Okay in my book and her pet products are pretty awesome. But it’s the abundance of them around the Brown household these days that brings them to my list. Bentley really doesn’t need a crocheted squirrel toy when he already has the pig and elephant, a “Martha Stewart Blue” tennis ball when he has regular Wilson-brand ones already or a THIRD dog bed… just because Martha Stewart designed it. Just sayin’. But Ashley is certain it makes Bentley happy. ; )
6. Monster Energy Drinks. I know they’re not good for me, but they’re an absolutely terrific solution to a constant problem – working late nights. Sometimes a cup of coffee (oh, how I love coffee) just isn’t what you want, and these absolutely fill the need for just another hour or two of clarity before it’s time to hang it up for the night.

Here’s Ash to share her not-so favorite things…

1. Spam. No, not the “Substance Posing As Meat” as Greg calls it. Spam e-mail and (to a greater extent) spam comments are the bane of my existence. We can filter as much as we want, but those pesky spam comments still make their way into our queue. Since Greg is at work during the day, I’m the one on “comment approval duty”. With hundreds of spam comments each day, it gets just plain annoying. The alternative is making you guys type out the little squiggly letters every time you post but we don’t want to annoy our readers. We love you guys too much!
2. Dirty Laundry. It never seems to end! And there are only two of us! So, what’s the deal?! Even though I loathe dirty laundry, I ADORE the feeling when it’s all washed, dried, folded and put away. It’s the best feeling ever… though it doesn’t last long enough. 
3. Nestlé’s Nips. We don’t have candy around the house all that often — except for the occasional box of Nips. You can get them at the drug store for only $1 a box. It’s like a piece of carmel heaven that’s hard but chewy at the same time. They have to be terrible for your teeth. My favorite flavor? It’s a tie between Dulce de Leche and Chocolate Parfait. I absolutely have a love/hate relationship with Nips.
4. Wrapping Paper. Another thing I have a love/hate relationship with is wrapping paper. I love it so much and tend to buy it way too often. In return, I’m running out of room. Hence the “hate” part of our relationship because I like a place for everything and everything in its place. I eventually want to have a “wrapping station” somewhere in the house. That would be heavenly.
5. Not having a kitchen. Simply put, I’ve moved past the I-miss-having-a-fully-sized-fridge stage and on to the I-just-want-to-cook-a-good-dinner stage. We know we’ll be super happy in the long run, but I really miss our Rachael Ray cookware.
6. Tiny Wings. Let me preface this by saying I’m not very coordinated when it comes to video games. I’ve never been much of a “gamer”, except for a minor obsession with Mario Kart Wii. As my little brother says, I’m a Mario Kart beast. Greg’s always been good at video games, and I give him a run for his money from time to time. I downloaded Tiny Wings on my iPhone a few weeks ago because it was the top paid app, only $0.99, and I thought I would give it a try. Well, I gave it one try, then another… and another. I actually ended up playing this game quite a bit, but I CANNOT get past Island 6!  Which is why it made its way onto my list of not-so favorite things.

And that’s it for our topsy-turvy April Fools’ day “Favorite Things”! Do you have any not-so favorite things to add to the list?

As promised, we’re back to give you the low-down on our meeting with the Lowe’s kitchen designer. Armed with an iPhone, a notebook of jotted down ideas, paper, and pens, we set out to meet our designer and see what he had come up with for us.

The general layout was really similar to that of the IKEA Kitchen Planner design we “sketched” up. However, the kitchen designer from Lowe’s did a much better job at implementing our plan and making it completely functional rather than just pieced together. This definitely has something to do with the fact that Lowe’s has some unique sizes and shapes of cabinets that IKEA doesn’t have.

Note: When we left, he gave us print outs of the plans from different angles. When we got home, we scanned in the images (there’s an ap for that) to be able to show you guys. So please excuse the low-quality.

The first image we saw was a “birds eye” view of the kitchen — love seat, couch and all! Having all of that included was a pleasant surprise and it showed the designer’s attention to detail. In my book, that’s very cool.

1. The designer moved the stove toward the door to Ashley’s office to allow more countertop work space to the right of the stove. This makes complete sense and makes the kitchen much more functional.
2. If you recall, the IKEA kitchen design had two different sized cabinets here. It looked kind of off-kilter. Now that the stove has been moved down, we have a single good-sized cabinet as well as equal sized doors on the right side (unlike the IKEA design).
3. The designer said he gathered that Ashley is an “artsy” person so he wanted to throw in a few “curves” here and there — like these two top-hinge cabinets. These would be cool for glasses and mugs, but we’re wondering if they would get old after a while and be a tad too “faddish” as Ashley says. Personally, I’m leaning toward including them in the final design (wherever, whenever and however that may be). And just in case we decide to go the IKEA route, they also have top hinged cabinets similar to these, though a different size.
4. The range hood in the plans isn’t exactly what we want but it still gives us an idea of what it’s going to look like. We would really like a chimney-style hood, but where is the microwave going to go? We’ll get to that in a second.

1. The kitchen designer threw in some glass front cabinetry to the right of the fridge (per Ashley’s request). Read more about our thought process on that subject here.
2. There’s room for bar stools! We originally thought there wouldn’t be much room for seating in the kitchen but Gaylord (the kitchen designer) proved us wrong with his design. So we’ve officially added this to our “must have” list.
3. Like the original plan in our heads, we’ve got a counter-depth fridge with panels on each side and the cabinets above are the same depth as the fridge to give it a more built-in look.
4. In the laundry room is some extra storage to replace our existing temporary solution. Let’s take a closer look…

This is something we are thinking about doing after get the kitchen done. So while it’s not “number 1″ on our to-do list, we want to go ahead and start planning it out so we’ll end up with something that’s function for our everyday. Here’s the breakdown…

1. Open shelving for cookbooks and nick-knacks. Seeing as how this plan has glass cabinetry rather than open shelving near the fridge, this little nook may appease Ashley’s need for open shelving and give her the best of both worlds.
2. Another top-hinge cabinet for dog treats or phones, chargers, etc. Ash’s dad is a certified electrician and said he can add a receptacle to the inside of the cabinet for cell phone and camera charges to make our own “charging station”.
3. The base of the top hinge cabinet is actually a countertop ledge. This would be handy to throw down keys and mail when we come in the door. Right under the ledge are two drawers. We’re thinking this would be a good place for flashlights, batteries, etc.
4. We aren’t big microwave people, so we don’t need it taking up space in the kitchen. Therefore, we decided to put it here in the utility room. Also, when is the last time you cooked something in the microwave and it didn’t smell up the entire house? That’s a pet peeve of mine.  This way, we can close the utility room door and mitigate the smell a bit.
5. On the bottom, we have a cabinet perfect for keeping Bentley’s cans of dog food, backup treats, and so on — his own little “station” if you will.

After we covered the layout and functionality details, we moved on to cabinetry style. We’ve heard great things about KraftMaid and they seemed to have a lot of options that mirrored our style while not breaking the bank. So KraftMaid it was.

Once we took a few minutes (actually, it was more like seconds) looking over the options, we decided that the Dove White finish and the square recessed panel door style (aka shaker door) was our cup of tea. The cabinet style is actually identical to what’s in our hall bathroom (though the bathroom cabinet is by Thomasville). Ashley and I think this would be a good way to “subconsciously” tie in the kitchen and baths without being too “matchy matchy,” (Ash’s most frequently used term these days).

As far as the hardware goes, it comes with the cabinets at no extra cost. Say “yay” for free!

They have a TON of options to choose from in all kinds of finishes. Though, we kind of have our heart set on the hardware we picked out when we first started the kitchen planning process. If we decided to use hardware from a different source (like Restoration Hardware) it will not change the cabinet price due to the fact it’s a standard addition. Therefore, if we decided to go with Lowe’s for our kitchen cabinets, we will pick out hardware that we think will be okay, then put it on Craigslist if we decide to replace it with something a little more unique. Another standard with KraftMaid is the soft closing drawers and doors. This isn’t a necessity for us, but it is really nice to have.

Here are some not-so-standard features that are included in our plans…

We’ve got lazy susans in each corner cabinet (upper and lower). Also, in each lower cabinet (though they aren’t as tall as the one pictured above) the shelves are pull-out for optimum storage.

Let’s talk dollars and cents. The total of the Lowe’s cabinet estimate is almost double the IKEA estimate. However, the Lowe’s estimate includes delivery, installation and of course, a kitchen designer (with 22+ years experience!) to answer any and all questions. It also includes the nifty features we mentioned. Another perk: Lowe’s is local whereas IKEA is 2 hours away.

The budget breakdown for this design… $90. If we decide to go with this plan and purchase the cabinets from Lowe’s, the fee will be waived and go towards the cabinets. Even if we don’t decide to go with Lowe’s when it’s all written in stone, we feel the $90 was well spent because we’ve gained a lot of new ideas that we may not have thought of until down the road.

For some more KraftMaid “eye candy”, check out this video of KraftMaid at the 2009 House Beautiful Kitchen of the Year:

Do you have any kitchen planning stories or tips? We’d love to hear them! Tell us about them in the comment section...


posted by Ashley  /  303 Comments

First of all, a BIG thank you to everyone who entered our second (ever) giveaway and also a super-sized thank you to 31 Bits! With the help of random.org, we have a winner! The lucky lady is… drumroll please… ALLISON! Congrats Allison!

Time for another giveaway! Today’s giveaway is brought to you by one of our newest advertisers, 31Bits! Their jewelry is absolutely fresh and chic, but that’s only half the story. 31 Bits uses “fashion and design to empower women to rise above poverty”. Each piece is handmade by a group of 63 women in Gulu, Uganda. This provides them with consistent income as well as valuable development programs such as English lessons, finance training, community groups, AIDS & health education, and vocational training. Their story is so inspirational and makes you want to go out and “do” rather than “be”. Read more about the story behind 31 Bits here!

This week, they will be giving away one of their best sellers, and my personal favorite (hint, hint Greg), the PB Necklace! Like all of their pieces, the PB Necklace is made from 100% recycled paper by the uniquely artistic women of Northern Uganda.

Here are the details…

PRIZE: One (1) PB Necklace (their best seller + it goes with everything!), pictured above.
2 WAYS TO ENTER: 1) Leave a comment on this post. 2)“Like” 31 Bits on Facebook and come back here and leave a second comment letting us know. 
GIVEAWAY WRAPS UP: Friday, April 1st @ Midnight EST. To keep things fair and square, up to two entries per email address. The winner will be selected using Random.org and will be announced right here on Saturday, April 2nd. Good luck!

Be sure to check out the rest of the pieces over at 31 Bits here. I can’t get enough of them! Great style, great buy, and a great cause!

BTW: All images courtesy of 31 Bits. We were not paid for hosting this giveaway.