LANAI-PLAYROOM: Light and Air Solutions!

*Get Real Renovations

04.04.19 – Dealt with the ventilation, heat, and intense sunlight issues in this room at last!

I broke down and got blinds for the lanai-playroom! I shared the sneak peek here, and now I’m backing up a bit as to why I opted for blinds in the end. In this post, I shared my (then) happy discovery about our existing curtain rods having double rod provisions. I looked for a thin aluminum 2nd rod, and AGAIN tried to hunt down 96″ length white or cream-colored ready made curtains. Went to SM twice – the 2nd time after they said they were restocking. No 96″ long white or cream draperies. I wasn’t even looking for block out anymore – any thick neutral-colored curtain would do. Not only was I not able to find the ready made curtains I wanted and needed, but it also meant having to install not only the 2nd rod, but also support brackets so that the whole thing can bear the weight of two rods (and 2 layers of curtains).

Well, I got exhausted. Too much work to get everything and put it all together ourselves. I also didn’t have the energy anymore check other ready made options in other malls nearby.

So last Friday, after my unsuccessful trip to SM, I went straight to Showcase down the road from our village. Plopped down, gave my patio door measurements, picked out my blinds, paid – and done! They scheduled installment for Tuesday the following week – they even apologized for that supposed delay, but for me, compared to others, Showcase is already fast. Plus, they waived delivery and installation costs for being a return customer – hurray! (Showcase really waives installation costs if you’re getting blinds for at least 3 windows. The ones I ordered for the patio doors counted for 2 windows only – so yay for their awesome customer service and generosity).

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03.26.19 – My younger boys, right after the new blinds were installed. I’m so happy to report that the 2 blinds fit perfectly.

Admittedly, custom blinds cost way more than what I would’ve spent on ready made curtains and double rods. I also again nixed having custom black out drapes made, because that still required getting (and installing) a 2nd curtain rod ourselves, plus the support brackets, and Larry’s where I want to get the custom drapes made is FAR from my house. Even with custom drapes I would need to put everything together on my own, Frankenstein style.  Again – I just didn’t want to deal with all that anymore since I am getting bigger and bigger every week!

The blinds I got from Showcase are roller blinds, dim-out (not block out), in a light beige/cream color. Dim-out blinds block out light – not entirely like black out blinds, but enough so as to give you privacy. Essentially, with dim-out blinds, you still get a bit of light seeping through – the fabric “glows” when the sun hits it, but the light doesn’t stream into the rest of the room. I read about that in this really useful article about “The Difference Between Voile, Dim-out and Blackout blinds” which explains things to noobs like me. Oh, and in case I get these patio doors trimmed in the future? Showcase can resize the blinds for me.  YAY!

Managing the sunlight that streams into this lanai-playroom is part of my objective to make this space COOLER for the kids, literally. I’ve mentioned countless times how hot this room gets – for a lanai! And recall, because of the dusty dirt garden outside, we haven’t been able to open the patio doors (also useless in the dead heat of our tropical summers when we don’t get a breeze whatsoever). Since my kids actually hang out and play in the lanai, I’ve been racking my brains trying to find ways to cool down the room without resorting to installing an A/C unit in there. Why the resistance to an aircon? Well, like I said in this post, I am not quite sure how we will end up using this room down the road, should we end up staying in this house beyond 3 years, or for another decade or so. Installing an A/C unit means I may have to redo electrical, installation and masonry work down the line – especially if we end up converting this space to our dining room.

Aside from the blinds, I got a ceiling fan from Wilcon, in addition to new pin lights, because I didn’t want to get a fan with built-in light. Mang Benjo, my dad’s electrician, came in yesterday to install the ceiling fan and 2 Philips pin lights, also from Wilcon. Since I got rid of the main overhead light to make way for the ceiling fan in the middle of the room, I had a small round pin light installed in one corner, and Mang Benjo suggested placing the slightly bigger one in front of the TV console/toy cabinet. I initially thought I’d need pin lights PLUS a table lamp so I’d have different light sources in this room (based on this post in DIY Playbook and this post by dyosa Emily Henderson), but with the new light right in front of the toy cabinet, it just seemed like overkill to put a table lamp on top of the console too. It’s such a small room after all. So deadma to all those “rules”, heh.

04.04.19 – See what I mean about those interior lanai doors being too dark?  Will be covering those with the same type of cream curtains eventually.  And we still need to retouch the paint for the electrical casing we removed in the corner – see that white line?  At least my light and ceiling fan look so clean!  Very happy about that.

The pin light by the console has built-in dimmers in 3 settings. For the corner pin light, the Philips lady in Wilcon helped me out (since I wanted something smaller), and I bought a neat (as in malinis) little round white pinlight and a separate dimmer bulb with 2 settings.

04.01.19 – It was important for me to have dimmers from a smaller light source for privacy. Since this room is all windows, with our old overhead light, you could see EVERYTHING inside at night.

04.04.19 – Daytime shot of the pin light – very unobtrusive in that corner, but so practical when we use it at night. Just the way I like it!

04.01.19 – The light by the console at dusk

For the fan, I went inexpensive and just got a white 3D model because it got the most consistently good reviews. It’s modern-looking, and has 36 cm long blades which are just right for this teeny space.  I’m very happy so far about the performance too.  We’ve had it for about a week now and, together with the blinds, that modest ceiling fan has really helped to cool down this room.

04.04.19 – I’m sorry, but I’m really just so happy about how clean it looks.  (Now, how to cover/disguise the light and fan switches?  I don’t need to hide them completely, but maybe hang something there to distract from those little boxes?)

Then I moved our dumb Dowell floor fan because it’s the Most Useless Fan in the World. Eventually, I plan to replace it with my favorite air circulator, Vornado, so the kids can have a cooling system they can manipulate without assistance. (The switch for the ceiling fan is above the toy cabinet – the younger boys can’t get to it). I’m still all about helping to promote independence for my sons.  Right now they’re using the stand fan and I do intend to keep it there, but I know an air circulator like Vornado will be more powerful.

04.01.19 – Hanging out at the lanai at dusk – and even early mornings! – is now very pleasant.  Praise God for the provisions!

That’s it! Light filter and cooling systems for the lanai – CHECK! I’m 90% done with my “Get Real Renovations” essentials for this space. Save for the new floor fan (which I’ll get next month because I like to space out our home renovation expenses), and the children’s stools I ordered from MetroFurne (they’re still doing it), we are essentially DONE. I feel confident now about moving on to the fun part – decorating it (and organizing and reorganizing to my heart’s content). When I say “decorate”, I of course mean DIYing what I can, and restyling or shopping my own home, because like I kept saying, I want to keep costs for these renovations as conservative as possible.

Literally all the light and air solutions I put into this lanai for our Get Real Renovations in one picture!

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SNEAK PEEK: Installing Blinds in the Lanai-Playroom

*Get Real Renovations

The guys from Showcase came bright and early to deliver and install our custom dim-out blinds in the lanai-playroom today:

Wait, what?  Blinds?! Wasn’t I yakking about curtains and double rods last time?  I’ll write about this in a subsequent post (with other updates to this space!), but right now I am just hugging myself with glee because we FINALLY filtered the intense light in here, and I am so so glad we went with blinds after all.

Prepping to install – see that morning glare?!  No more of that now!!!

My nth Post about Curtains

*Get Real Renovations

It’s another post about curtains, hah! I know this may seem like the most mundane concern to the rest of the world, but it is important to me as I strive to be intentional about each and every little decision (and purchase!) at home.

This is an item to check off my Lanai-Playroom list – added 2 sheer white (96″ long!) curtains panels at last. Here’s how both lanai doors look now:

You can see in this old post how weird our lanai doors looked with just 3 curtain panels. 4 glass panels for the lanai doors, and only 3 curtain panels, eek. And the rods were still hung too low – the puddling was very unflattering, and so impractical for a play area. Again, something I lived with for way too long. And to think the curtains I always get for the lanai are inexpensive ones from SM (as opposed to the ones I use for my dining and living room). Procrastination at its finest.   These additional lanai sheer curtains are from a brand called Interior Choice by Jelary Curtains, available at SM Marikina department store for Php 399.75 per panel. Cheap!!! I actually got the same brand for the older sheers in this lanai, but they were no longer carrying the exact same ones and I had to find the most similar set.

Oh, and I did check off the items in my weekly to-do list in the sidebar – canvas for black out curtains and compare costs for ready made blinds in Wilcon. The blinds in Wilcon were too short for the lanai doors! I’d have to go custom, and if I really wanted to, I’d prefer to go with my suki Showcase. No WHITE black out drapes in SM. I called Larry’s for custom black out curtains. Too expensive. I’d spend for those for bedrooms, but not for this lanai. So cheaper draperies instead!

I have to admit you can really tell the difference between inexpensive curtains and “investment” ones though. The sheers I have in our living/dining room, the hems lie flat because the stitching is neater, and the quality is just overall better. These ones from SM, the hems and stitching are rougher, and crinkle. I’m happy with them though, and don’t intend to spend anything beyond these for the lanai – especially since I’ve now finally made up my mind that we will be cutting down these exterior lanai doors (width wise)!

Happily, cheaper doesn’t always mean bad quality, apparently. I also picked up these brocade curtains from SM dept. store – at Php 500 for a pair of two (2) panels by this brand called Simply Curtains, thick and well made, in the loveliest cream color, to cover our interior lanai doors:

Here’s the before:

I hung a 1″ inch steel curtain rod – inside mount – across the top frame of the (newly repaired, yay) sliding doors. Then I used rod supports right outside the fixed glass portion of the sliding doors, to act as stoppers. The objective is to cover the brown glass. Too dark for me. And I’ve already decided (here) that I wasn’t going to remove, replace, or repaint those sliding doors, so I needed a quick fix.

Here are the interior lanai doors now:

I know and expected the middle top part of the frame (and the inside mount rod!) to be exposed, and I am still mulling over how to cover that part. I’ve got some ideas in mind and just need to figure out execution. I also need to put some decor above that doorway because it looks a bit squat beside the windows on the left, where the curtains are mounted much higher. Since this was a doorway, I opted for an inside mount. I still want to balance out the height discrepancy at one point because it feels a bit jarring.

Right now though, I am really enjoying how they lightened up our dining area. Those dark sliding doors have been a thorn on my side since I moved to this house 3 years ago! And now I’m inspired to update our dining area too, haha.

Lastly, I just discovered our curtain brackets can accommodate double rods! Yay! The lady in Wilcon showed me when I was checking out support brackets. I can put a skinnier steel rod behind the chunky wooden one. Completely solved my dilemma about getting blinds or not! I’ll get a 2nd rod, transfer the sheers there, and find thicker or black out drapes in front (even non-white ones, since ready made options for colored 96″ curtains are easier to come across than white plain thick white ones). We really need them. The sun that streams in there is getting more intense by the day, now that it’s officially summer in the tropics.

I also have updates about ventilation (i.e. electric fans bwahahaha) for this steaming hot lanai but I’ll save that other blah topic for yet another post, hahahaha.

MASTER BEDROOM: Things We Need To Tackle

*Get Real Renovations

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The offending AC Window on the left, and the window (with the gaps of light!) by the TV Wall on the right | master bedroom photo taken in October 2018

Keeping in mind that our renovation objective right now is to keep everything real, I know we need to tackle some issues in our master bedroom before the rainy season arrives.

Recall, we went through a months-long major renovation of our room last year but our contractor unfortunately still left some parts unfinished. Specifically – there’s still a big hole in one of my casement windows from where a window-type A/C unit used to be. We’ve covered it up with plywood and our lovely black out blinds, but when the winds and rains are strong, man, everything flops around and rattles like crazy. One time the wind did blow off the flimsy piece of wood we used to cover the hole. I haven’t had actual water come pouring in from the rain, but I’m not about to wait for that day. I so cannot deal with any water damage on our hardwood floors.

I also feel like the blinds we installed for these windows are being wasted, because we never raise the blinds. They look right into our next door neighbor’s windows! I called Showcase, and thankfully they can retrofit the existing blinds when I transfer them to another set of windows with different measurements. (Was seriously so happy about this because we invested on those blinds, I’m really happy about the quality, and I’d hate to see them go to waste). I plan to move those blinds to the study room, and have plantation shutters installed. I found a supplier who can service our area, yay! We’ll keep the plantation shutters mostly shut, I know, but at least they’re visually prettier than blinds, and even when opened, will offer more privacy than roller blinds.

We are also still using our Ikea bathroom bench as a makeshift TV console. It’s been a year! And it does make for pretty uncomfortable TV viewing because it’s low. Plus, there are gaps of light from the sides of the blinds, because I opted for inside mount. I was aware this was going to be a problem, but see, I don’t have architecturally pretty windows. No frames, no trim. Ideally, I should’ve picked outside mounts for the blinds, but the windows are big, and outside mounts would make everything too office-y. I knew I still wanted to get drapes to soften up the windows when I ordered the blinds. But again, it’s been a year and I still don’t have curtains. And the gaps of light can be glaring, especially since the TV is right in front of the windows. So I need curtain hardware, drapes, and a TV console. I’m forever looking at TV consoles, actually, but I realized the ones I’ve been lemming on are too wide – so I’ve decided to go custom with this one. Happily, I have by now my awesome suppliers, and there’s a favorite woodworker I’m going to be tapping for this.

I’m still waiting for the metal and glass store to provide my quotes for the window. They gave me an estimate for 2 windows (we have the same problem with one of the windows in the bedroom we converted to a walk-in), but I asked for estimates for repair, replacement, and complete removal. They still need to get back to me. (It’s the same company that repaired our internal lanai doors).

Aaaand, since I’m not only a long-winded rambler but also an incurable list-maker, here’s my to-do list for our Master Bedroom:

A/C Window

  1. repair by EM Manila
  2. masonry work, and retouch paint after window repair, by Mang Michael’s mason
  3. installation of plantation shutters by McWood

Obviously, I’ve already called all these people, and am still just waiting for EM Manila to get back to me on costs so I can get the ball rolling.

TV Wall

  1. get slim black curtain rods
  2. get white black out drapes (2 panels first)
  3. custom TV console

I know this is my “Get Real Renovations” list, but if we do stay on here after 3 or 5 years, I’d like to tackle these other things for this TV Wall, too (and I’m writing it here so I won’t forget!):

  • remove that useless empty electric socket crevice
  • move electrical outlet higher and behind the TV console
  • install white wooden french door (smaller than this balcony door we have now)
  • move pin light above the french door
  • install wall sconce for that blank wall
  • masilya and retouch everything after all that electrical work (I dread the dust already from the grinder, when they bury wiring)
  • custom family art for that blank wall, below the scone
  • an easy chair, maybe a side table, and more and more plants!
  • and if I’m staying here until I’m 60 – I’d love to add wall trimmings!

Doesn’t sound so daunting, right? It is when you consider how it’s attached to possibly expanding the balcony to build a new bathroom and closet space out there, hahaha. Again, I don’t intend to pursue especially all the rewiring work unless we plan to stay in this house for at least a decade and more. (But maybe after I get the urgent matters out of the way, I can get away with that custom family art and easy chair? Hehe).

Sleeping Area

  1. get a bigger bed
  2. bedside tables
  3. extension cords for both our sides

And down the road, if we do stay on, here are the little things I’d like to fix about our sleeping area:

  • wall sconces for each side of the bed
  • remove this damn ledge (I hate it even though we designed it and had it built especially – it’s a clutter magnet) and the electrical outlet there
  • install an electrical outlet at the H’s side
  • build new doorway to old bath/walk-in and install barn door
  • move light switches to make way for new barn door

Not to mention, close off that other balcony window and move the entrance to the master bedroom (again!), this time to the ante-room if we do end up settling down here for good.

Taken with the TV Wall improvements down the road, now it seems like a pile of work, and I’m beginning to hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s bitter sweet, seeing all these flaws and design mistakes (mostly ours!) still after major renovations, but hay, I did hear it will always be a learning process.

Getting Real with our Renovation Goals

I read this great post by The Catholic Table the other day.  It’s not a pure home interiors blog, but the writer made some really good points about being realistic about your renovation goals – her discussions really resonated with me because I’ve been feeling a bit lost lately about our home.   While I mentioned in this post that my objective was to love the home we’re in right now, I also couldn’t deny I was still getting confused about the extent of work I should be doing.   It all boils down on waiting on God – that much I am 100% sure of.  We are waiting on God to guide us along the plan he has for our family – do we move or do we stay put and renovate extensively?  And like any obedient Christian, while we wait, I resolved to make our home as neat and as pleasant as I could make it for my family.  Hence, the “love the home you’re in” drive.

But then I realized, the making do bit does involve renovations still.  And as I likewise said before, I found myself getting confused about the extent of the renovations I should be undertaking – all the while taking in mind, and balancing, the possibilities of a) selling and moving out; or b) making sure the quick fixes now will blend in seamlessly with any long-term major renovations we might end up making, so as not to waste any money we shell out now.

This is where the points raised by The Catholic Table in her post really helped me.  She said if you intend to stay in your home for at least a decade or beyond, then it makes sense to invest in your renovations – materials, quality, etc.  But if you intend to pack up and leave in the next few years, in less than 5 years, then you’re renovating to sell.  So no need to go overboard on your renovation expenses and choices right now.

Huh.  That makes sense.  I made the H sit down to discuss all this because I was feeling anxious about it all.  I also found myself praying repeatedly, because I do feel the anxiety is also a form on impatience, and I really do want to wait on God, and I do trust His perfect timing.   I suppose it’s the overwhelming nesting instinct that really kicks in when I find myself pregnant.   But the H indulged me and we made a rough plan.   We are waiting for some news this year, you see, and if nothing comes of it, then that means we aren’t selling and moving this or next year.  The H gave us 3 years in this house.  If the project doesn’t kick off by that time, we then seriously sit down and start renovating and truly expanding this home to fit 4 (yes, FOUR) growing boys.  But before then, our mindset is “renovate to sell”.  Hence, we need to get real with our renovations.   Love our home, make it work for our expanding family (easier while the boys are all still little), but worry about today, not tomorrow, just yet.

This means I don’t have to worry about replacing the staircase to a more kid-friendly version in the next 3 years!  This means setting aside the nights researching on whether I should cut down the windows in the study room just yet!   This means having to live with ONE bathroom on the 2nd floor for now.  (This is actually not so bad, because the kids have a bathroom downstairs.  But ideally, I’d like to have the 2 younger boys upstairs, with their own bathroom, while the 2 older boys can share downstairs).  It means being realistic, and not Pinning like crazy, and getting my goals all mixed up.  Hopefully, this will translate to more patience and focus.  It’s never recommended to sit idly while you wait on God – we are all expected to do our parts while trusting Him – but in my case, I felt I was all over the place, and this shows LACK OF TRUST!

So there you have it.  We’re now embarking on our “Get Real Renovations“, and I’ve made a sub-category in this blog so I can keep track.  Wish us luck, and pray for us, please!