Monthly Archives: June 2011

Legal Guide to Home Renovation: 1 Book, 1 Idea

As we’re thinking about renovation, design and decor, we’re perusing a lot of books. ABA Legal Guide to Home RenovationWe don’t have time for full reports on all of them, but we’re trying to share at least one stand-out idea per book. This week, we’re looking at the Legal Guide to Home Renovation: Everything you need to know about the law, insurance, permits and contracts.

This American Bar Association publication is chock full gems for newbie renovators like us. I thought it would be all legalese boring, yada yada yada, but no, it’s really great. Chapters cover planning, finding a contractor, acting as your own contractor, securing permits, writing contracts and resolving disputes.

This book is a recommended read for those are are planning to go where they’ve never gone before, renovation-wise.

Reluctant Renovator’s First Shout-out

It’s been years since I started a blog from scratch, so I’m paying attention to where Reluctant Renovator’s traffic is coming from- my personal blog, Twitter, Facebook, and even a couple of hits via Google search. I was surprised to see traffic coming from a website that was unfamiliar to me (oh, the joy!), so I clicked over to The Design File and poked around a bit.

Turns out The Design File author, Lesley, and I have a common friend in Laura from Chambana Moms. I appreciate Laura connecting us, because goodness knows I can need all the design inspiration I can get. I love the mission of The Design File:

The Design File is the online representation of the shoebox I’ve long kept in a closet, stuffed full of paint chips, fabric swatches and magazine photos of rooms, furnishings and ideas I love.

But here, I try not only to feature the unattainable (although there is a little of that) but also the affordable, the inspirational and the fun.

And I aim to provide readers with the kind of advice I’m always seeking: How do you choose the right wall color? How do you mix modern and traditional styles of furniture? How much color is too much?

Lesley might just be my new bloggy BFF or my home homey because I have no idea how to choose the right wall color. Or how to mix my 1910 steamer trunk, 1920s hulking player piano, the 1950s console record player/radio and whatever we have worth representing the 1990s. Also, perhaps she can help me convince my husband that said items are actually kinda cool.

Our First Video and Serta iComfort Sleep System Giveaway

At least five of you were fans of my not-ready-for-HGTV house-hunting series with the cheeky, but not very SEO-savvy name. Turns out every time I sent my husband a video link, it couldn’t get past his company’s firewall due to its name. Also, duh, we bought a house. So series has taken a turn. Now that we’re attempting to make our outdated house into a dream home the vlog series is to be know as the Reluctant Renovator. Take a peek at our first episode and read below for details about the Serta iComfort Sleep System giveaway

In May, I had the opportunity to visit Serta headquarters and get a behind-the-scenes glimpse of what goes into a quality mattress. I also got the chance to try out a dreamy iComfort Sleep System. It’s cool and comfortable. And even though it’s a foam system, it comes with a variety of firmness levels.  So Serta has basically taken all the reasons I avoided foam mattress systems (the heat, the overwhelming squishiness) and thrown them out the door.

As I said in the video above, I have literally been dreaming of the day I receive mine. Sadly, that day is weeks months away.

With their just-in-time production methods, they don’t have one simply sitting around with my name on it, but they’ll make and send my sleep system when I’m my bedroom is ready. (I’m am partial to the Genius model, queen size, FWIW).

Even better, they are offering you one, too!

One lucky reader is going to win the icomfort Sleep System of her (his?) choice, as well. The Serta folks are sparing no expense, so if you want a king system with motion perfect adjustable base, it’s yours for the asking. And to be clear, the adjustable base is not just for the senior set, it’s pure awesome if you like to rest with your feet up, or recline and read without having to stuff a dozen pillows around to support you.

I am excited to be able to pass along such a great prize and it’s not difficult to enter.

I’m going to keep in simple:

1. (required) Comment once on this blog by 11:50 PM CST on Thursday July 7, 2011 for a basic entry. Let me know why you’d like a new mattress. Make sure I have a way to contact you!

You can also have up to five optional extra entries; I need a separate comment for each of these items, so I can count each one as an extra entry:

2. Tweet about the entry and come back to let me know you did.

3. Share the deets on Facebook and come back to let me know.

4. “Like” Reluctant Renovator on Facebook and come back to let me know.

5. Subscribe to our newsletter, Progress Notes. Starting later this summer, we’ll be sending 1-2 updates a month featuring our progress and advising you on our fabulous home product finds and giveaways. Come back to let me know.

6. Post about this on your blog with a link to this post. As always, stop back to let me know.

Fine print: Winner will be chosen by a random draw.  Winner will be notified by 11:50 PM on July 9. If winner does not respond to me by 11:50 PM CST  on July 11, the prize will be forfeited and a new winner will be chosen. The winner will be responsible for paying taxes and delivery fees on this product. Sorry, this is only open to readers in the US (including Alaska and Hawaii). Want to try one out yourself? Pop into an American Mattress store.

Disclosure: I was invited to Serta HQ and will be receiving a mattress of my own when I’m ready. I am pleased to offer one of my readers a chance to win one.

Independent from this blog giveaway, you can also enter to win an iComfort Serta System by “liking” Serta Mattress on Facebook and entering their Cooler. Better. Summer Photo Contest. It runs through through July 8th.  After liking Serta on Facebook, submit your favorite summer photo with a brief description of why the photo represents a “smarter, cooler, better” summer. Serta will choose 4 winners at the end of the contest.

Good luck!

Garage Sale Haul: Baker’s Delight and More the Weekend of June 18

Granted, I’m months away from my new kitchen and I’m not quite sure what I have packed away in Garage sale haulterms of kitchen supplies, but I could not resist this bit of baker’s delight. I bought four gently used mini-muffin pans, four round cake pans, paper liners for cupcake tins (two sets regular and two sets mini),  a cast iron corn muffin pan, and because apparently good things come in fours, four packs of number 2 pencils, which always come in handy with school-age kids around.

Total: $5.00

I later found a small wooden chest of drawers, which I’m eager and put to use in my office as an alternative to the many plastic storage containers I currently have scattered about.old set of drawers Though it does look rather Smurfy in its current form, I plan to sand and paint it.  $3

I also found a pair of tap shoes, which I bought for $1. Seriously, I’ve wanted tap shoes all my life. They sound fabulous on the hard cement (concrete?) floor of our empty basement, even if I don’t *really* know how to tap dance. One measly dollar to fulfill a lifelong dream. It doesn’t get any better than that.

Except for the “weed wacker” I got for $5. It works well enough for the price. We will get our money’s worth and likely buy something new later in the season.

I purchased a few other odds and ends, but when I bought this, I knew I had jumped the shark and had to cut myself off from further sales for the duration of the weekend. I mean, it’s pretty when the mid-day light shines in through the window, but we are months away from decorating.

blue vase

Yes, glass block in the living room. Guess how much I paid for the vase?



The Home Office: Our first before and after shots!

Though the office is far from complete, we did accomplish one major task- refinishing the floor. And when I say we, I mean me and the floor guy I found on Angie’s List. I did phone interviews with two companies that had great ratings. I chose the less expensive one. It worked out very well; I’m going to have them quote us on the other floors.

I thought I’d simply wind up with a shinier, more even finished version of what was already there, but the end product was so much better.

Office floor with sanding equipment

I’m like a deer in the headlights when it comes to decorating, so when they asked me to choose a stain, I wimped out and went with a natural finish, which I love, but might be too bland for the other remaining rooms (which is to say all of them- wood floors throughout the house).


sanded and polished wood floor

It seems that darker stains are making a comeback (yes?), but I like the lighter colors, especially in rooms that don’t get great natural light.

I’m glad this went well. It’s given us hope for the beauty we will uncover in the rest of our home. Honestly, in recent weeks I’ve largely been focused on the safety code violations we are going to uncover. Oy.


Shiny office floor


The pictures above were taken with my cell phone. I’ll try to use my real camera in the future.

Oh, and here’s a glimpse of my office way before.

Decorating Fail, The First of Many

Earlier this week I mentioned that I’d hung a few records on the wall to get the placemessy room looking homey, but due to the random detritus we keep bringing over, (i.e. lawn chairs instead of real furniture), it’s looking more like a crack den!

Please note, I cleaned up and re-arranged after taking this shot.

When it comes to the real thing, do you think we should work with a professional decorator interior designer? Did you?