Basement Kitchen Office

Brief Random Updates

A few updates on some things that you may or may not have been waiting for me to resolve. (Probably not, but here we go.)

My Office! The Kitchen!

I returned the floral curtains I tried in my office. I thought about using the fabric in the kitchen, but wasn’t in love, and so back to the store they went.

Speckled Bloom Curtains in the Kitchen

hr 644

The Kitchen! Again!

The electrician I called out for an estimate on recessed lighting in the kitchen got back to us, finally. $2300 to provide and install six 4″ can lights in the kitchen, plus a dimmer switch. That sounds high, right? Or is that what it costs to Swiss cheese the ceiling in a house that 100+ years old?

Oh, pretty lights. I don’t think we can have you if we don’t add some additional lighting elsewhere in the room.

hr 644

The Bathroom!

I swapped out the white toilet seat for a black one. I like it! I did that last month but it didn’t really feel worthy of a full post and Instagramming your toilet is weird, so I hadn’t written about it until now.

hr 644

The Basement!

Brandon and I are going to try to clean up the basement. We’re planning a party for Eleanor’s birthday at the end of April, and we thought it might be good to have some wide open space downstairs for her and her preschool friends. (Do kids even have their parties at home anymore? None of her friends have.)

Basement Storage Plans

There’s a whole lot of stuff down there still from when I styled a photo shoot for a brand’s Pinterest campaign, and a lot of stuff in general. We need to get some shelving in the storage area before we can make sense of the rest of the space. We have so much that I’d be happy to get rid of, but I don’t know how to best go about it. Garage sale, Craigslist, eBay, or just donate everything?

That is all.

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  • Lizzy
    March 26, 2013 at 10:30 am

    We recently had my son’s two-year birthday at home, and it felt just right. There were toys in his room, and in the living area, we hadpaper with crayons and stickers on the little table and books by the sofa. Then we all went out to the patio and did chalk and ran around. We had five friends and their parents over for muffins, orange juice, and coffee between 10 a.m. and noon – before naptime.
    Also, I always think that it is easier just to donate all of the stuff I no longer need because the prospect of doing Craig’s List or a garage sale stops me from getting rid of it… But maybe I’m just lazy.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 8:53 pm

      I love the brunch slot for parties. We do this for Christmas Eve every year when we have my dad’s side of the family over, but now that you mention the nap issue, it’s brilliant for a kid’s party.

  • Kelly @ Studio DIY
    March 26, 2013 at 10:33 am

    I always had my birthday parties at home as a kid and they were the best! I agree that a lot of people don’t do that anymore (it was rare even when I was a kid!), but at-home birthdays are by far my fave!

  • Jaime
    March 26, 2013 at 10:40 am

    We’re having my son’s 4th birthday party at home. In the past we’ve just had family parties. This time we invited his entire preschool class. I’m slightly disappointed that out of 20 invites, only 9 parents actually RSVPed (the party is Saturday). I’m actually ok with less than 20 kids at my house, but it’d be nice to know if they aren’t coming! I’ve been to parties at our city hall gym and found them to be very impersonal. The kids tended to play alone or with their parents and not with each other. Parents only talked with people they already knew. It was kind of like being in high school again.

  • jane
    March 26, 2013 at 10:58 am

    Maybe you should let us all know what you want to get rid of before you donate it? I feel like you might have some nice things that your followers might be interested in buying.

  • wendy
    March 26, 2013 at 11:00 am

    I’m all about the at home birthday party. So easy and cheap! We usually planned a game that everyone could play (eg., pin the nose on the snowman for my december girl) and i figured out an easy craft project that everyone to complete and take home with them (no goody bags!). And, of course, time for cake & ice cream and time to just free play.

    the most talked about party was when our power was out (the neighborhood was out for 4 days) and we had the party anyway (sunny day and fireplace kept us warm enough). had all the girls wear an extra layer, served hot chocolate (burner on the grill) and did smores in our fireplace.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:09 pm

      I love that you still had the party, even with the power being out.

  • Kristin
    March 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

    Yes, that price is high for the lights. I’d get a few more bids.

  • Barb Langlois
    March 26, 2013 at 11:31 am

    Yes, price is really high for lighting.

    A. garage sale too much work.
    B. ebay….hassle to ship
    C. Craigslist is easy and I have had good luck.
    D. Donate an option but why not try and get a few $$$$ o. Good stuff.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:10 pm

      A, B, C, D: Exactly. But I think Craigslist can be a hassle too sometimes.

      • Phyllis
        March 27, 2013 at 9:49 am

        That quote from the electrician seems excessively high. I’ve heard quotes that average around $100/per can plus whatever it will cost to drop a line to add the dimmer. Can’t imagine that would cost an additional $1700!

        I donated a bunch of stuff in 2012 that netted me a $1500 write off on this year’s taxes, resulting in a nice refund. Otherwise, we generally keep it close to the cuff on our withholding, which normally means a near zero refund.

        A home party sounds fun! Takes me back to my childhood. :-)

  • Crystal
    March 26, 2013 at 11:34 am

    $2300 sounds high. Have you checked out

    You can use their job calculator to put in your zip and the number of lights and it will give you a few estimates to give you an idea of what to expect. For my zip the estimate for 6 lights was between $800-$1,300.

  • kasey @ girl in the gray house
    March 26, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I rarely comment, although I love your blog! I just had to chime in to say, that I am a big fan of home birthday parties! I try to let my girls decide what type of party they want to have, so this April we’ll be having a circus party for my 4 yr old (turning 5). Last year, she had an ‘art’ party – we hung banner paper on the fence outside and let the kid’s go to town painting. I heard from lots of parents that their kids loved it. The only downside is having to clean the house beforehand. We have grandparents in town who always pitch in with food & drinks, so that’s nice. I’ve shared some of our past parties on my blog, if you want to check it out. :)

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:23 pm

      I went to look. Cute! I love the art banner idea. I wish April/May was reliably nice and we could plan on being outside. I love the painting idea and I let my own kids have at it on the easel, but not a huge group of preschoolers!

  • Giulia
    March 26, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Home parties all the way. I’ve hosted all the kids birthday parties at home, although my daughter is easier because it’s in summer. My son’s birthday is in February and I have to say that 15 4 year olds in our house was quite crazy! but I”m not willing to spend a fortune on some cheesy party at some even cheesier and loud kids place.

  • Lisa
    March 26, 2013 at 11:58 am

    Unless you are familiar with contracting prices, it’s best to get 3 estimates. I also highly recommend asking around for referrals. My husband is in construction, with 90% of his business coming from referrals, and he even recommends to his own potential customers that they get additional bids. Don’t feel bad getting multiple bids. A good contractor wants his client to know he is getting a fair price. Always use a licensed contractor and don’t forget to check with your states Registrar of Contractors to make sure their license is legit and that they don’t have a history of reported complaints.

    My son is 6, and all of his parties have been at home. His 7th is coming up. We offered to rent out the bmx track or have it at the aquatic center, but he wants his party in our backyard. We’ve always had good turnouts; However, I’m a little worried this year. we are nearing the end of the school year, and he has only had 1 birthday party invite so far. He what’s the only child from his class to show up at that party! It was an at-home part. I’ve noticed a lack of parental involvement at the school he now attends. Anyway, we’ll invite the whole class and see what happens. Even if 3 school friends show up, I know he’ll have fun. He asked me to rent a big popcorn machine. We did that once before for a carnival themed party, and all the kids loved it. at home parties can get expensive, but I really think kids enjoy them.

    As for getting rid of stuff, I like to offer things to friends first. Otherwise, I donate it.

  • priscilla
    March 26, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    My contractor thought I was nuts for rejecting the white plastic toilet seat that Kohler supplied. I also went with black with chrome hinges. Looks great with my Art Deco era bathroom.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:28 pm

      Black seats look really good in older bathrooms.

  • Alison
    March 26, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    I’ve tried and tried but have never had any luck with recessed lights on a dimmer switch. They always hum, even with good quality switches and bulbs. The humming gets worse as the lights go down. I’ve given up on ever really being able to dim a recessed light. : (

    • Adrienne B
      March 26, 2013 at 1:11 pm

      Alison- are you using compact fluorescents? You may also have an older dimmer switch. Might be worth getting a new one and checking out the manufacturer website for a list of bulbs that are compatible.

      Here is an article from This Old House that explains what is happening:,,568178,00.html

      • Alison
        March 26, 2013 at 2:06 pm

        No, not using CFLs. This has happened to me multiple times (in multiple locations) with brand new, expensive switches. And yes I’ve tried many different bulbs — although this has worked for me with other types of lighting, it never does for recessed lights specifically.

  • Meg
    March 26, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Home parties are the bomb, I can’t believe they’re not the norm anymore! My 4 year old’s birthday falls right before Christmas, so she never gets an outside party, but this year we did swimming (with a parent) for an hour, then everyone mosied back over to our place and we had loot bags to decorate, food to eat, random groupings of toys to play with (they are 3 & 4 after all) and then we decorated gingerbread men (seasonally appropriate, right?). Plus, I made the Number 4 Pinata from Oh Happy Day (but tweaked to be pulled open because I couldn’t feel good about giving a bunch of sugar-hyped pre-schoolers a stick to swing around blindly) which was full of party favours…and I learned that boxes of raisins are not considered favourable by pre-schoolers.

    And, hey, why don’t you have an e-garage sale?

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:30 pm

      The boxes of raisins weren’t a big hit, eh? Go figure!

      If I’m going to sell everything online, I’d probably just throw it all over on eBay. But I’m too picky about getting good photos of everything, and that will eat up a lot of time and blah blah blah. I should just do it.

  • Adrienne B
    March 26, 2013 at 1:07 pm

    Yeah… $2300 sounds high. But let’s do some math…

    Lights: $100/each (that is a more than fair price for a quality fixture plus the mark-up)= $600
    Wiring: 100 ft of Romex is $50. Lets say they need 200 feet, so $100
    Dimmer Switch: A nice Lutron dimmer is about $20

    So that leaves $1580 for labor. Assuming it takes 2 guys (which is likely if you are pulling wires) and their hourly rate is $100/hour (and that sounds very high to me) that would mean it took them a full 8-hour day to install 6 can lights. It’s more likely you have a fully licensed electrician charging at least $70/hour (and maybe more for Chicago metro area) and an apprentice who would be more like $45/hour. At those rates it would be almost 14 hours of labor (which seems like too much time).

    I’m leaving out permits (not sure if you need one for something this small) and smaller items like the electrical box for the dimmer, staples, etc…

    I would definitely get some more quotes and get details on the exact recessed lights they will install and the exact dimmer so you are comparing apples to apples.

    Good luck and don’t give up on those lights yet!!!

    • Leslie
      March 26, 2013 at 2:22 pm

      I would assume that’s without the lights. Regardless, I would never want anyone choosing my lights for me (unless I was lucky enough to have a designer).

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:32 pm

      The quote does include 4″ lights, and the labor is billed at $90/hour. I have no idea how many hours they’re estimating for though — the estimate has no details.

  • Kelly
    March 26, 2013 at 1:16 pm

    You could just post the things you want to get rid of on your blog, and then those of us that are local can take full advantage of snatching it all up and taking it off your hands! ;)

    Also – the hubby and I have had great luck with finding resources on Angie’s List in the OP area. We haven’t done electrical work in several years, but may be worth giving it a look!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      I’m tempted to just take a photo of it all piled together in the basement and caption it “HAVE AT IT!”

  • Megan @ Monroe Makeshift
    March 26, 2013 at 1:29 pm

    Whoa! I didn’t even finish reading this post and had to comment on the electrical pricing. I’m a sales rep for a remodeling company and our electricians would charge less than $1,000 for that, labor and materials included. Shop around girl! Back to reading…

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:33 pm

      Thanks. I’ll get a few more quotes.

  • Jessica
    March 26, 2013 at 1:30 pm

    That does seem like a high quote. I’m with others — you should definitely get multiple quotes. :)

    As for home parties, we do most of them at home, but we do some outside, too. Now that our eldest is 7, he likes them home because they can last longer. But we also had a video game truck come to the house last year and that was a hit and now, we’re being told that he wants it this year, too. LOL!

    • Lisa
      March 26, 2013 at 3:35 pm

      A video game truck, oh my goodness, my son would love that! I wish someone in our town offered that. What a great idea!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      A video game truck sounds cool. I never realized that such a thing existed.

  • Chelan
    March 26, 2013 at 1:33 pm

    Have you tried the Yardsale app?
    Simple, low hassle (as far as I can tell from my few experiences) and free.

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:38 pm

      Oh, I forgot about that app. I’ll look into it.

  • Amanda Z.
    March 26, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    I recently also tried a black (ebony wood) toilet seat, and it looked AMAZING in our original 1937 peachy pink bathroom. But the kid’s potty seat did not fit in it!! The new seat was too small for the potty seat to sit inside it, so we returned it. I wasn’t in the mood to trace the opening of a new seat to shop around (also) for a new potty seat that would fit.

    And I think home parties are awesome for small ones. Think of how much fun you can have planning games and making favors/hats/bags/decorations etc.!

  • Jen @ RamblingRenovators
    March 26, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    We’ve only ever had Chloe’s parties at home. I keep asking her if she wants at a play place or where she takes gymnastics but, nope, she wants it at home and mommy to decorate and bake her cake (and, really, only one of those things I’m good at!) I always think of Eleanor when Chloe’s birthday rolls around. Can’t believe these girls will be 4!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:43 pm

      I know! Four years already — that’s crazy.

  • Heather
    March 26, 2013 at 2:08 pm

    I love parties that are at home. It’s best if some of the party can be spent outdoors though. My son’s birthday is at the beginning of March, and we had a great outdoor super hero party for him. I think you’d do a great job!

  • Kelly @ Corner of Main
    March 26, 2013 at 2:29 pm

    Sounds like our house! We just took a trip to Ikea to start organizing the basement. It’s so overwhelming for us. Good luck!

  • Lynn
    March 26, 2013 at 2:36 pm

    I knew I got a deal when I paid $400-500 but I don’t think it was down from $2300!!!! i had 4 recessed lights (very simple ones) with low heat producing fluorescent light bulbs. Who wants to stand in a kitchen in the middle of the summer in HOUSTON being ‘cooked’ by your lighting?

    Yep. Get another bid or two.

  • Mercedes
    March 26, 2013 at 2:40 pm

    I would get at least two or three more quotes, $2300 sounds very high. Of course I’m not in the Chicago area, I live in Portlandia in a house from 1908, so I feel you on the added expenses and issues that come with an older home. We are having our bathroom electrical done- moving fixtures, outlets and switches, adding a couple lights and an exhaust fan for $1300. This was not the lowest quote we got either or the highest, but its the company we feel most comfortable and confident with. Definitely ask around for a referral. Good luck!

  • marlo
    March 26, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    It seems as if everyone else has already said this, but $2300?! It took my dad (with a bad hip), about 4 hours to install five 4″ recessed LED lights in remodel cans in my mom’s kitchen (The 4″ ones are more directed lighting as opposed to all around like 6″, so make sure four of those are really enough). He pulled the electricity from the existing center flushmount and we used the switch that was already wired for that. He hooked a dimmer up to that (which hums a tiny bit, but you can really only hear it if you’re trying).

    The cost for the materials was a little over $400 at Home Depot (and I second the comment not trusting a contractor to pick them out for you; our electrician picked some ugly ones). He didn’t have to go into the attic at all, just punched some holes in the ceiling and got lucky about placement around ceiling joists. Maybe the installation is different because you live in a two story house?

    PS: My dad is not an electrician, but has worked for one enough times to figure out how to do some basic electrical. You’re so handy- I bet you could do it!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 26, 2013 at 10:46 pm

      I am handy, and I’m fine with swapping out one lighting fixture for another, but I don’t trust myself to wire new lights in an old house. It’s a safety issue that I feel better leaving to professionals.

  • casacaudill
    March 26, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Back in 2006 (or was it 2007?) we had five lights installed in our 1910 craftsman, rewiring done in the basement, and a brand new electric panel installed for about $5000 with permits. I don’t know what it would have been to just have the lights done, but based on all of the work we’ve had done professionally, $2300 sounds like a steal to me.

  • Jane
    March 26, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    I also agree that sounds high. Of course, you get what you pay for. I am in Nashville, TN and just got a quote for 4 recessed in my nearly 100 year old house and it was $800. This is from a guy we use for our clients homes and his work is very good. First and foremost make sure you trust their work.

  • Alyssa
    March 27, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Just wondering about one more pending project: have you found the right black and white striped rug for August’s room? Did you keep the DwellStudio one? I am looking for just the right black and white rug, too, for a new baby’s room, and had gotten the Dwell version, but found it far too rough to be cozy in a bedroom. I still have the rug, though, and wonder if I should keep it for another potential area, or just send it back. In the meantime, last weekend I picked up a new Ikea model (black with large white/ivory dots, which doesn’t appear online) to give that a try. What a project to find just the right rug!

    • Making it Lovely
      March 27, 2013 at 1:08 am

      I’ve switched out the striped rug for the white one that was in his room before. I’m going to try to make the rug work in the basement, assuming my cats will leave it alone. (They only pee on rugs in the basement. Jerks.)

  • jenn
    March 27, 2013 at 9:34 am

    you can get multiple bids, no one will feel slighted. and you can ask for an exact breakdown of costs, people will just think you are being diligent. but if you want a licensed, bonded electrician that will provide retribution if god forbid you need it (my brother had a garage burn down that as a layman he wired himself. his insurance co wasnt impressed), then youre going to have to pay for it. electrical work, just like all general contracting can be like opening pandoras box. you never know what youre gonna find until you get in there. not everything can be done on the cheap and you are paying for their expertise as well. i say this having employed dozens of electricians over the year. sometimes you do get what you pay for, but its best to consult angies list or go off of referrals.

  • Stephanie
    March 27, 2013 at 9:39 am

    Yikes – $2300 does sound high! We’re outside of DC and had a quote for $1200 for 6 recessed lights not including the cost of patching and painting the ceiling afterwards. That’s still more than we want to pay, so for now we’ll have to do without them. Apparently it’s half the cost just 1.5 hours away in Richmond, sigh.

  • Bethany
    March 27, 2013 at 10:21 am

    On the lights – since you have a two-story home, it is a lot more labor intensive to add recessed lights. My dad is an electrician and I’ve asked him about adding them to my house (also a 2-story), but it would involve ripping up a lot of the ceiling or the flooring in the room above.

    But maybe you can ask for a more detailed quote? Maybe they have included ceiling repair as well? Or perhaps the company just doesn’t really want to do the job, so they quoted high. Definitely get some other bids.

  • Holly
    March 27, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Hurrah for home parties! My kids have had most of their bday parties at home. It is so unusual vis a vis other bday parties that it gives a unique flair, honestly. And in late April you will have nice enough weather than you can send the kids out to play for a bit during the party.


  • Nicoletta
    March 27, 2013 at 2:42 pm

    I pretty much always do home parties. It’s more fun for me! Ha! I love all the details and planning involved in a fun theme party, I don’t want to let somebody else to do it. Also.. it’s so expensive to take the party somewhere else!

  • Holly
    March 28, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Big fan of parties at home – they just seem more casual and easy-going. And there are so many possibilities and ideas. We did a party at a gym last summer for my daughter’s birthday and it was a big hit, but I’m more in favor of staying home. And yes that sounds high for a recessed lighting install.

  • nell
    March 29, 2013 at 3:59 pm

    the price for the can lighting is outrageous. if your electrical is modern, there is nothing to throwing in a handful of can lights. you could take an electrical class locally for a couple hundred bucks and do it all yourself in an afternoon, including the trip to home depot.

  • Robin
    March 29, 2013 at 6:49 pm

    Hey Nicole,

    Just chiming in here as an interior designer with an idea for your pretty lighting wish. Have you considered integrated lighting in your kitchen? It may sound intimidating, but you could get under-cabinet lights for lighting the countertops and lights mounted to the tops of the cabinets for seeing what’s inside. It’s pretty incredible what you can do with just that, even if you don’t have a place to hardwire a light in the ceiling. Then you can have your lovely ceiling light. The added benefit is that you can also choose how much/little lighting you want to have on at a time. Just the under cabinet lighting would be great for mood lighting, but if you’re doing some intensive cooking you could have all the lights ablaze.

    I have researched all the options, and IKEA has some affordable options. They even have LED under-cabinet lights. They are a tad tricky to install, but they are dim-able and use very little power (pennies on your power bill.) You could probably go with IKEA under-cabinet lighting and over cabinet lighting and get your lovely pendant, have it all installed and come in much less than that recessed lighting quote you received. (if you hire an electrician for the job, make sure they do good cord management, those cords hanging about always drive me crazy!)

    I hope you get your wish! I can’t wait to see what you do.


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  • deneise bucko
    April 6, 2013 at 9:57 am

    I love home parties. I know there a lot of work but I enjoy the planning, My parties have become the ones that everyone can’t wait to come and they always are asking what is the theme for the next one.

    I love to decorate and style my parties. Everyone must come dressed up for the theme. Here are some of the ones I have had…

    Alice in Wonderland – I had a big tea party in the back yard with tons of cool cupcakes and treats. We played simple games like musical chairs, etc…

    For a summer birthday we had a Christmas theme party- Everyone wore ugly sweaters with shorts ( a little warm but as night fell it was o.k.) We played dodge ball with small styrofoam balls with two teams. Had a white elephant gift exchange, broke off in teams gave each team toilet paper and had to see who could decorate the person as a tree the fastest.

    A Peter pan party was fun. Everyone came as a character and we went on a scavenger hunt in the neighborhood. Fun to see characters going down the street door to door.

    A super hero party, pirate party and I could go on and on (blah, blah, blah)…. people tend to love home parties and all the great pictures I have taken, it’s worth it!