Time for some more painting.

After we finished up the big kitchen facelift, we dove right into another project.  Because we are insane people who can’t stop renovating their house.  This time we decided to stay on the main level of the house and paint the dining room.  After all, we’ve got our fabulous new table in there, it deserves a nice place to live.  Additionally, we thought adding paint would show off the fabulous crown molding as well.  I know I might not have mentioned the crown molding before…well, that’s because it took  me seven months of living in the house to notice it.  Yup, one morning in May I happened to look up at the right angle and realize there was crown molding in there.  Fabulous surprise!

As far as the color goes, I’ve been dying to paint a room gray since before we even moved into this house.  I know it’s been one of the trendy colors in design the last few years, but I figure I don’t mind being trendy if I like the way it looks.  So I taped up some swatches as soon as we moved in and promptly ignored them for eight months.  Once we finally took some time to look at them we agreed pretty easily which one we liked (Cobblestone by Martha Stewart) and picked up a sample pot to be sure.  I’m kind of afraid to paint without picking up a sample pot after the great yellow debacle at our old house, but occasionally we live on the edge.

This time the sample pot just reinforced that we were on the right track color wise, so we got to work painting.  As always, I cut in while Rich rolled.  Our gallon of paint barely stretched to the end of the room, but luckily we made it.  Want to see how everything turned out?

I realize it looks a little strange to have the chairs all lined up like that, but we have plans to build a bench for the other side of the table.

The paint makes the ivory tone of the shutter stand out, so we are going to try and spray paint it white to match the rest of the trim.  Originally I wanted to get rid of it, but I’ve gotten oddly attached!

The secret crown molding!  I wish it was in every room.

Curtains are an IKEA find, sheer with a gray print.  I love the little bit of feminine print in there.

This antique dry sink serves as our liquor cabinet.  I’d love to refinish it, along with the sideboard on the opposite wall.  We still have to build the bench I mentioned earlier, as well as update the light fixture a bit.  All in good time, I suppose.  For now, the dining room is well on its way to being a place we might actually eat!  Someday.

Posted in Dining Room | 2 Comments

The Kitchen Floor

Sorry about that extended absence, I found myself locked out of the blog for a while!  Luckily Rich was able to get everything back up and running so I can finally share the conclusion of our kitchen makeover – the new floor!

The floor was probably the part about the old kitchen I hated the most (and I hated that entire kitchen!)  It was a blonde wood-look laminate that was so dinged up it always looked dirty no matter how often I swept or mopped it.  I’ve been dying to rip this floor out since we moved in, but the fact that we weren’t ready to start a complete renovation in the kitchen for many years deterred me.  I didn’t want to add another layer of thick floor on top of the existing floor or spend a ton of money on wood or tile that would have to be ripped out when we started our eventual gut job renovation.  Luckily my mom had a great suggestion based on her own recent kitchen spruce up:  Allure flooring.  This is a vinyl floating floor that looks like either wood or tile.  It was perfect for us because it’s very thin, so we wouldn’t be adding a ton of height, it could be installed directly over the existing floor, and didnt’ require any special tools to install other than a razor blade and ruler.

This product is exclusive to Home Depot, so we grabbed some samples there in different tile colors and brought them home to compare to the existing counter-tops.  We ended up choosing Patina, a brown and dark grey combo, which we then ordered online due to a slightly better price.

The floor sat around until we finished up all of the painting we had to do in the kitchen, but the final weekend of June we had one thing on our to-do list – install floor.  I was so excited about finally getting the floor done that I made a huge DIY error – I convinced myself this was a quick enough project that we could finish it after work on Friday.  Stop laughing.  I got home at 7 pm and told myself we would be done in no time.  Rich was stuck very late at work but that didn’t stop me – I started putting down the strips of flooring.  I was super impressed with how easy this product was to install.  Each piece was 3′ x 1′, and the edges with their “grip strip” fit together very quickly, but could still be re-stuck a couple times if the seams didn’t look right.  The most challenging part was measuring everything to fit perfectly around all the edges, but once it was measured the product was very easy to cut.  But as easy as I say it was, this was still slow going, very precise and tedious work.  Rich arrived home around 9 with dinner, and after a quick break to inhale some burritos, the two of us worked together until just after midnight to finish up everything, including figuring out how exactly to deal with the fact we were about 1 or 2 square feet short on flooring.  (The answer is patching together some scraps under the refrigerator – it might not be the best looking, but who is going to look under our fridge?  Better than having to purchase an entire new box of 24 sq. ft. of flooring.)  After we finished we sprawled out on our new floor with a glass of wine, admiring all our hard work.  We were very sore the next morning, but it helped to be able to go into the kitchen and admire the floor to be reminded of how we earned that soreness.

Simon admires it too!

A month into living with the floor, we are still loving it.  The dark color makes the kitchen look so much better, and I don’t feel like I’m walking around on a nasty dirty floor anymore.  It feels really great underfoot as well.  But I’ll never start another project like this after work on a Friday night!

Posted in Kitchen | 3 Comments

How does your garden grow?

We interrupt the ongoing kitchen makeover to bring you this update on my gardening skillz.  It’s now been over a month and a half since my mom came to visit and helped pick out some plants for the garden, and I wanted to provide photographic proof that most of them are still alive and thriving.  Plus, by photographing these and writing down the names of them, I can cut off the tags identifying them that have remained since we put them in the ground six weeks ago.

You may remember we had ripped out most of the plants in the garden, leaving only a few shrubs.  Before, we were on boxwood overload, so one of our goals in picking out some new plants was to add a little variety.

To the right of the front door, we took out the leaning holly tree, and replaced it with a Mountain Fire Pieris.

This will eventually grow to 4-6 feet high, and 4-6 feet wide, filling in this space nicely.  I like the bright red color of the new leaves, and supposedly it gets white flowers in the spring.  It’s also an evergreen, which we were looking for, because we don’t want a dead looking garden all winter.

The red growth is proof I haven’t killed it yet!

To the left of the front door we put in a group of three shrubs.

The one in the front is a Boxleaf Euonymus.  It’s another evergreen, which will grow to about 2 feet high and 2 feet wide.  We love the bright yellow edges to the leaves.

Behind it is a Heavenly Bamboo Nandina plant.  My mom has Nandina all over her garden and raved about their hardiness (always a good thing when dealing with my gardening abilities).  This guy will get 3-4 feet high, and about 2 feet wide.

To the left is a Golden Mop Goldthread Cypress.  It will spread 3-4 feet wide and get about 2 feet high, so it won’t block out the window behind it.  This is another one with an awesome yellow-green color, adding a little variety to the garden.

We added some potted flowers to the front porch as well.  We found these amazing deep red pots at Homegoods.  I love how they pick up the red foliage of the Nandina and Pieris.  They are planted with Impatiens and…other plants?  Yeah, without tags, I’m lost.

Lest you get too impressed with the fact that all these plants are still alive (although to be honest, some of the plants in the pots have bit the dust, but I think they still look ok) I’ll leave you with one sad looking gardening fail.  When I was visiting my parents a few weeks ago, I dug up a Patio Peach volunteer from her garden.  I’m not sure whether this poor plant fell victim to the hot 3.5 hour car ride, or my sub-par gardening abilities, but right now it is not looking so great.

Until all the leaves fall off I am holding out hope though!  In the meantime I’m going to upgrade my thumb from black to brown – I’m certainly not about to market my gardening skills to the general public, but I’m no longer afraid that everything I plant is going to instantly die.  Of course, let’s not discuss my herb garden…

Posted in Yard | 1 Comment

The Kitchen Makeover Continues!

After getting rid of the wallpaper and getting a coat of paint on the walls and ceiling, the next project in our kitchen makeover was painting the cabinets!  After all, we couldn’t leave them this pinky-peach color forever.  They are in decent shape structurally and replacing them entirely just isn’t in our budget right now, so a coat of paint was the most economical solution.

I got lucky that my mom had just painted the cabinets down at her beach house, so she was able to give me some tips on the process.  I started by taking down all the top cabinets and setting them up on makeshift sawhorses out in the garage.  There were so many of them that I didn’t even worry about the bottom cabinets at this point, and decided I would just get all the top cabinets painted first.  While they were out there we got used to being able to see the contents of all our upper cabinets.

To cover the wood grain on the cabinets, we started with a coat of oil based primer.  This stuff is nasty and stinky and a pain in the behind to clean up, but necessary if you are trying to cover up anything wood with paint..  After the primer dried we did two coats of semi-gloss paint (Martha Stewart’s Fossil, color matched into Behr).  We finished up the top cabinet doors and let them dry for a few days, then stacked them up.  I was a little disappointed with the way the brush strokes showed on these doors, so I decided to try a little something different for the lower cabinet doors and drawers as well as the cabinet frames.  We used a foam roller for both priming and painting, and it definitely resulted in a much smoother finish.

After we finished up all the painting a let things dry, it was time to put it all back together.  We numbered all the doors and hinges to make it easier to put things back together.  We also switched out the veggie shaped knobs for some more basic brushed nickel ones.

I LOVE the look of the new cabinet color against the counters and wall color.  It’s amazing what a change coat of paint can make!

Posted in Kitchen | 1 Comment

Kitchen Makeover!

My mother’s visit a few weeks ago led to us pulling down the wallpaper in the kitchen, as I mentioned in my previous post.  This set off a whole kitchen makeover that we’ve slowly been chipping away at during our limited free time.

One factor in the renovation that we were debating was one of the most unique features in the house – the “stained glass” sliding doors.

These sliders, which are actually more textured plastic than stained glass, are one of the first things people notice when we give them a tour of the house.  We’ve become oddly attached to them over the last seven months, but once we starting thinking about doing a kitchen makeover, we had to decide if they were going or staying before we could paint the walls or ceiling.  We can tell the previous owners got a little tired of them at some point – originally the kitchen was decorated in the bright primary colors of these doors, but at some point it was redecorated and the doors were covered with curtains.  We like the quirkiness of them, but ultimately we decided the colors are a lot to try to decorate around, and they are making the whole room look smaller.

So one Saturday morning we began the process of demolishing the doors.  They definitely resisted us, but after a few hours of hard labor, we had a kitchen free of faux stained glass.  We decided to try listing it on Craigslist for free so that we wouldn’t have to figure out what to do with it.  We put it out by the curb Saturday night, and the next morning it was gone!  Love Craig and his list.

We went right from there into prepping the walls and ceilings to paint.  We had a ton of sanding and spackling to do from the damage we made taking the doors down, but after a couple rounds of wall prep we were able to start painting.  We painted the ceiling standard white and the walls Martha Stewart’s Natural Twine, in an eggshell finish.  We still need to put up some trim around the door, but here’s how it looks sans stained glass.

We picked the color to look good with the existing countertops, which we don’t want to replace as part of this makeover.

We also decided to pick up a kitchen cart from Ikea to put in the corner where the pop up table used to be.  We stacked the microwave an toaster on top of it, giving us a ton more counter space around the rest of the kitchen.

The cabinet door free look is starting to grow on me actually, now that we’ve lived with it for nearly a month.  Here’s a sneak peek of how things will look once we eventually get the frames painted and the doors back up.

That’s actually the next project on the list.  The upper doors are all finished, but the lower doors and drawers need to come off and be painted, as does the frame.  Hopefully soon…

Posted in Kitchen | 1 Comment

Good Bones Home vs. the Wallpaper (Round 2)

Even though our first wallpaper battle was an easily won victory, we weren’t exactly jumping at the thought of taking on more of it.  For one thing, in other rooms it was on more than one wall.  And on the ceilings.

This past weekend my mom came up for a visit, the first time she’s been able to see the place since the day we moved in!  We had fun showing off all the projects we’d done so far and telling her about some of the plans we had.  I was planning on using her crazy green thumb to help me work on the garden all weekend, but Friday afternoon was icky and rainy, and we found ourselves in the kitchen, discussing how we could make it look better (to sum up, a lot of work).  Step one in that project, we decided, would be giving the wallpaper the axe.

So we pulled the steamer and scrapers out of the garage and got to work.  I failed in my blogging duties and didn’t take a single photo while we were hard at work.  We found the paper came off pretty easily once it was wet, either from using the steamer (on vertical surfaces) or with a sponge (on the horizontal ones).  It came off in two separate layers, but as long as we took our time and saturated the paper, it came off in pretty full sheets, and after about three hours of work, Rich came home to a kitchen that was almost free of wallpaper, along with two exhausted and paste covered women.

I can’t believe what a difference it makes just to get down the peachy-pink wallpaper!  It was really reflecting that color all over the entire room, and now it seems so much brighter.   I’m so grateful my mom was willing to put in the hard labor and help get our kitchen face lift started.  Now that we’ve gotten started we are forging ahead.  Eagle-eyed readers might notice we’ve already got swatches taped up on both the cabinets and the walls.  In fact, as I type this, the first round of paint is drying on the cabinet fronts out in the garage.  I can’t wait to get everything fixed up and show you all!

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

New Dining Room Table

Most of our home improvement efforts have been focused on the exterior lately, but we haven’t forgotten about the interior of the house.  We had been debating which room we wanted to take on next, since there is no shortage of projects.  Luckily, sometimes the internet gives you some inspiration to take on a project you’ve been talking about for months.

When this post on *Remodelaholic* came across my feed reader, I was so impressed with what Shelby and her husband had built!


I have been dreaming of replacing our somewhat fussy dining room table with a more rustic farmhouse table for months and months.  The dining room is our only eating space in the house (if you don’t count the couch and coffee table) and we want it to be an inviting comfortable place, where we can just as easily help our future kids with homework as we can host a ton of family for holiday dinners.

After reading Shelby’s post, I decided there was no reason we couldn’t build our own table, and why not do it that very weekend?  The table is built from this plan from Ana White.

Friday night we treked over to Home Depot and purchased all the wood we needed for the project.  I had to ride in the backseat along with the wood to get it all home.

Once we got home we piled it all up in the garage.  I really liked that we got all the supplies the night before, it made it a lot easier to dive in and get started in the morning.

Saturday morning we got up and got to work.  I handled the miter saw to cut all the wood to the correct size.

Rich set up a makeshift sawhorse and then got to work notching out several of the 2x4s we were using for the table legs, using a circular saw.

The process of notching out the boards definitely took the most time – close to 3 hours.  During that time I cut all the boards to size – something like 40 or 50 cuts overall.  Then we started assembling everything.

That slightly crazed look in my eyes in the picture above is the result of about 7 hours of total work to get the table built to this point.

After getting everything built, we filled in all the screw holes with wood filler and let things dry.  Then we sanded the heck out of the table!  We started with 80 grit and went down to 220.

After finishing up with the sanding, we put on a coat of stain (Minwax Dark Walnut) and three coats of polyurethane.  Then we almost died trying to carry it into the house by ourselves (it must weigh 150 lbs)!

But here it is in its new home, with the old dining room chairs.  We’ve got plans to replace them but for now we are just going to sit back and and enjoy the new table.  Maybe we will even eat a meal there instead of in front of the TV!

Posted in Dining Room | 6 Comments

Exterior Update

About a month ago, I showed you the sad state of things in our yard.  Since then, Spring has sprung, and we’ve spent many evenings after work and weekends slaving away in the yard as we attempt to undo the damage from two years of neglect.  There’s still a lot to be done, but I thought it was time to show off the progress we’ve made.  In addition to the long hours we’ve put in ourselves, we shelled out a little cash in order to get some of the bushes, leaves, and ferns taken out far more quickly than we could on our own.

Here’s how the front of the house has changed.

Although we can’t take credit for Mother Nature greening everything up, how much better does it look now that you can actually see the lower level versus having it hidden behind those bushes?

Here’s a close-up of that cute little staircase in front of the picture windows.

You can really see it without those leaves and all the excessive bushes!

The front walkway hasn’t been totally redone, but we’ve got an idea brewing.

This won’t be the last you hear about that walkway, but as a teaser, we are re-purposing some slate stepping stones from the back yard to create this new, more polished looking walkway.

There are big changes along the driveway where Ferngully used to live.

The majority of the ferns were ripped out, although at the top of the hill you can see the enormous ones we couldn’t get to before they grew…I think they may get another year.  We dug out the slate walkway in the middle of the yard and plan on digging the walkway in the foreground out as well.  I don’t think we will end up replanting this bed, we will probably just throw down some grass seed in the fall.

It’s hard to see the difference here, but major changes were made around the deck as well.

Other than the obvious addition of some leaves, we pruned back the beech tree overhead as well as all the rhodedendron bushes (if you can call something taller than you a bush) along the side.

There’s still a lot to be done…there are several areas of the yard we haven’t dealt with at all, and we want to start putting in some replacement landscaping of our own at some point.  For now though, it feels great to sit out on the deck and take in the beauty around us.  Here’s just a few of the blooms that have surprised us this year.

Anyone else have the gardening bug now that Spring is truly here?

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Farewell, Flower Lights.

One of the most unique features in our house when we purchased it was the bedside pendants lamps in the master bedroom.  Shaped like flowers, painted orange with pink polka-dots, they certainly are an item that one either loves or hates.

We came down on the hate side of that decision.  They didn’t fit our aesthetic, and as you can see, stuck out like a sore thumb when compared to our furniture and bedding.

We’ve been talking about swapping them out for something else since the day we moved in, but kept getting deterred by the price tag on replacement lamps.  This changed when Rich happened upon a President’s Day sale on Home Depot’s website, where we managed to score four pendants lights for a total of $80.  The color and style of these replacements is a little more muted than their predecessors.

They arrived during the week, but we had to wait until the weekend to install them so we could still have some light to work with once we flipped off the power.  We are far from master electricians, but we’ve installed plenty of replacement light fixtures with no issues.  We just make sure to turn off the power first, make sure there are no frayed wires, and take our time.

We laid out all our tools and the lights on the bed.  We were lucky enough to have our assistant, Simon, there to supervise.

We decided to stick with the staggered look the previous owners had for the pendant lights, and measured them to be exactly the same height.  We adjusted the length of the cord and trimmed it, then stripped the cable to reveal the wires.  Then we got so busy installing the light we didn’t take any progress pictures!  Here’s how things looked about halfway through.

And here’s everything all finished off.  Definitely a vast improvement!

The bedroom is coming along pretty well!  Next up in there is putting together a little reading nook, if we can ever find the right chair.

Posted in Bedroom, Out with the old, Projects | 1 Comment

House Tour – the exterior

I gave you a tour of the interior of our house in the month after we moved in, but by then winter had arrived in full force and I never got around to taking some good photos of the exterior.  And even though there is snow in the forecast here for Friday (seriously weather, I hate you) I decided tonight was time to finally get out there and take some photos of things as they are right now.

Our house is placed pretty oddly on the lot, as you come down the driveway this is what you see.

The strange thing is that it’s the back of the house that faces the street.  Not sure what the thought process was here, but we have so many guests show up at those sliding doors, which sadly open into the mudroom.

All along the side of the driveway is what I like to call Ferngully.

It was unattractive when the ferns were blooming in summer, and its even worse now that they are dead.

Moving down to the bottom of the driveway you can see the garage, which sorely needs to be power washed.

Bonus, on the left hand side there you can see the shelves we demolished on Christmas day.  Yeah, any day now we will take care of that.

Moving toward the “front” yard (because it’s at the front of the house, not because it’s on the street), you can see the beautiful pathway laid out to take you to the front door.

Also, more ferns, and the first glimpses of the boxwood invasion, as also evidenced here.

And here.  How cute is this little stone staircase though?

Here’s the view of the whole front of the house.  Love those big windows!

If you turn around from this spot you can see our adorable little stream.  Definite advantage to living in the low spot in the neighborhood.

Moving around to the backyard there is even more to see.  Outside of the kitchen sliding doors is a huge deck.  It’s not in the best of shape, but we are looking forward to rebuilding it and enjoying meals outside this summer.

Off to the side of the deck is this little area which it seems was once a vegetable garden.  With my black thumb it probably won’t be used for that, but maybe I’ll give it a try.

And up on the hill, leading up to our street, are several tiers that have mostly been let run wild.  There’s a few daffodils and tulips coming in there though.

There’s definitely a lot of potential outside our home, but there’s a lot of work to be done too.  The house was vacant for two years before we moved in, so to try and catch up we are having the yard “spring cleaned” this week.  I’ll have some more photos to share after that process and as we try and figure out what to plant that I can’t kill, and where exactly we can fence for the dog to run around.

Anyone else getting the urge to get into the yard now that spring is here (allegedly)?

Posted in House Tour, Yard | 2 Comments