Thinking Outside the Box

Lately, I made time in my just got married schedule to OBSESS about the kitchen remodel we are planning. We have a split level house and the plan is to dedicate one of the floors to a large kitchen and potentially create a small great room. We will have the wall that currently separates the kitchen from the dining room/seating area removed to make an open floor plan. The biggest challenge we face is finding a layout that meets all our needs without breaking the bank. I’m sure this is the challenge that every DIY’er faces during a kitchen remodel.

Step 1 for us in designing the kitchen was deciding what do we need from this new space. We have learned the following valuable lessons from our current design:

  • Storage space in a kitchen is priceless! No one wants to run between two floors over and over and over during dinner.
  • The dishwasher and the kitchen sink should NEVER EVER be on perpendicular planes.
  • Not all ovens are created equal ours for example doesn’t fit most cookie sheets and barely fits a turkey. Oh, and our stove top, it only works on high.
  • White vinyl flooring shows every dirt spot, food speckle, and Elsie drool drip (boxer anyone?).
  • Open lay out kitchens are popular because when entertaining you are not slaving away all alone in the kitchen while everyone else is in another room.
  • Counter top space is valuable real estate in the kitchen and it determines how much actual work space the kitchen provides. We’ve learned that cutting on top of the stove or cabinets is dangerous!

In the first house I remodeled, I regretted having a remove and replace in the same spot mentality.  This time I worked really hard to think outside of the box, so I have came up with twenty or more different lay out options. We have a door on the side of our house that is located in the kitchen which offered a unique challenge.  After ALL that work, we decided on putting the kitchen in its current location. Following that decision, I was indecisive about placing the sink in the island or putting it back in its current location.  This decision came down to the wire, and we literally decided days before ordering cabinets. After a short moment of regret after ordering the cabinets, I’m happy with our decision. The island would have been too long and overpowered the room if we had the sink installed in the island. Here is the final layout choice:


The work has already begun so stay close by for pictures of demo and current progress!

Impromptu Redo II

No, it did not take us an entire year to finish the bathroom remodeling project. Yes, it did take me an entire year to blog about it. Could I be a better blogger? Sure, go ahead judge me, but who cares our bathroom looks AWESOME! After the demolition was complete, it took us almost two weeks to get our bathroom put back together.

Bathroom After 1

We installed new paneling and new molding. We used the same window and base molding which matches the remainder of the molding we upgraded here. Caulked all of the seams using paintable molding caulk. There was so much of this to do that it took me almost one entire day. Then we painted on a fresh coat of gloss white paint. We opted for gloss paint in this room to make the surface of the paneling easier to wipe down.

Bathroom After 4

I researched different flooring options for a bathroom application, and based on our choice to leave in the existing flooring(not necessarily the best way but this worked for our budget), we opted for cork patterned floating vinyl plank flooring. I loved the look of the cork but needed the durability and installation perks of vinyl. The color turned out great it was warm, and it doesn’t show every single speck of dirt and hair. We had some tough corners to get the flooring around where two door frames met and inside of the linen closet. I created paper templates which helped reduce the number of mistakes on actual material. We found it easiest to cut the flooring with a pair of snips. We used a carpet installation razor blade in some instances, but the planks of floor were two layers thick which made it difficult. The floor installation took us a day and overall the installation was fairly easy especially once we got to the straight pieces. The thing to note when installing this floor is to make sure that all of the planks and adhering strips align correctly. Once these babies are stuck together, they are tough to get apart and the adhesive comes off making the piece nearly useless.

We also removed the doors and sanded them in preparation for a new coat of paint. While they were removed, we cut them down using a table saw to fit over the new layer of flooring.

As part of our remodel, we selected a new pedestal sink, a new medicine cabinet, and light fixture for above the sink. Everything looked so new and we were really excited once these items were installed. Max ran into the issues with the sink installation and we had to install some wood behind the wall to brace the sink.

Bathroom After 2

Bathroom After 3

For the paint color, we followed along with the inspiration picture with white paneling on white walls. We picked almost an ivory shade to keep the bright fresh warm feel. We used our favorite paint, Valspar Paint/Primer mix. Since the walls were in such bad condition, we applied two coats of paint. Once the paint was on the walls it really started to bring the room together.

Finally, we got to accessories. It took us a while to finally hang pictures on the wall and hang the shelves.

Bathroom After 5

These items put the finishing touch on the remodeling project. There are still a few more improvements we would like to complete in the room, but as I seem to be reminded in all aspects of my life lately, my work is never done!

Impromptu Redo I

When we went to buy this house, stylish was not on our list of “must haves”. If you are reader of this blog, you are already well  aware how much we appreciate the retro styling of our bathroom. Well, I believe we successfully looked past the yellow’d bottom of a trophy marble paneling with pine tree and sea shell wall paper for as long as we possibly could. I’m sure everyone remembers these photos from our before pictures post:

After over a year of living here, our patience has run out, so we rather impulsively decided to execute our back-burnered bathroom remodeling plan leftover from December. For those of you who know me, I know you are all surprised when I made the responsible decision not to over do it in December, and that you’re amazed I  managed to make it this long without just ripping the paneling off the wall. (Don’t worry!  – I am just as shocked, and I’ll take those gold stars now!) After finding this inspiration photograph, we made a few changes to our initial plan in hopes of cutting some cost.

We started out slow. One night after work we took down the wall paper. Luckily, BOTH layers of  wall paper came off in sheets with no water/vinegar mix.

Since we were trying to stay in budget, the next task was shopping around to find prices for all the items necessary to complete the renovation. We opted not to purchase a full vanity with top and instead chose to install a pedestal sink. While we’re on the topic of making purchases, I have to say it never seems to escape me that making all of the purchase for a DIY renovation can take nearly an entire day. This whole day event doesn’t even include the pre-shopping trips to make the decisions and determine  the cost of items.  This shopping excursion ALWAYS makes our first day of work the longest (for every project).

Getting back to the demo, once we removed the paneling we found a mess. Again, there were layers of “enhancements” to be removed as the previous owners choose not to remove the plastic tile and tile glue stuck to the wall before slapping up their paneling.

Bathroom Demo

The bead board paneling we planned to install was much thinner than what we removed, so it was not a question that we would spend our first afternoon scraping glue and tiles off the wall.

Bathroom Demo

All in all it wasn’t so bad. By the end of the first day, we successfully completed the demolition phase and were ready to start the transformation.

Back to Blogging

Now that school is finally O-V-E-R – we’re back!  In an effort to fully recoup after three years of being stretched thin, we’re starting out slow. Our first project involved sprucing up some great furniture that was given to us by a close friend (THANKS- WE LOVE IT!). The furniture is a great color and in awesome condition, so to add our own style to it we decided to update the hardware. The original hardware is shown below.

Old Hardware

The first step was just removing the hardware, which was the easy part! Then we visited both of the local hardware stores to find suitable replacements! After drilling a few new holes (yes Meghan, that’s what she said) into the drawers and cabinet doors we installed the new hardware. All of the updated drawers took up nearly in the entire spare bedroom.

After replacing the hardware, next on the agenda was moving the old furniture out and the new furniture in. Major progress has been made in the master bedroom since we bought our house just over a year ago.

Original Before:

Looking at these pictures makes me really proud of our progress so far! When we first moved in, I couldn’t wait to get started making changes.The work we did in December made pretty big strides from our original state.

In Between:

Now, the new bedroom furniture gives our room a whole new feel, and we couldn’t be happier.


Master Bedroom with New Furniture

Master Bedroom with New Furniture

We’ve made some progress, but as usual there is always still more work that needs to be done:

  • Figure something out about the TV situation (anyone notice the books under the TV?)
  • Bed improvements
  • Curtains and wall hangings
  • Lamp situation
  • Painting molding
Total time to improve – approximately 6  hours (including moving all of the furniture to our house, shopping for hardware, and cleaning out old furniture/restocking new furniture – Thanks for the help Dad!)

Total cost for new bedroom furniture  – $84  Not to shabby!

Recent Reno – Post 6 of 6

Who’s ready for some before and after pictures? I know, I know, I’m super mean for making you read five whole blog posts and wait three weeks before showing you the before and afters (or well progress pics). Max and I had to work for it, so I thought it was only fair that you did too!

Remember when the LR and DR looked like this:

and this:

Well not anymore! Shazam! Now it looks like this:

and this:

Next up – the nook/landing. Remember back to this picture?

You should see it now!

We know the condition of the hardwoods could be better, but we love it!

Oh, and I can hardly remember when Elsie’s room looked like this:

and this:

Not anymore!

The other spare room has shown major improvements over its previous condition too! Shown here:

Buh-bye paneling and wallpaper – hello awesome paint and new molding!

Then there’s our room, which I hated when it looked like this:

and this:

and this:

Now I LOVE IT!!!!

My favorite part is that all of the colors go so nicely together. You can see how well they coordinate where the master and Elsie’s room meet at the end of our hallway.

We love the progress our big little renovation made to our house. All of the space feels so different, and it is actually looking like us and our style. We’re super happy with the way everything turned out. There are still many items on the “to-do” list which I’d consider as is par for the course for most DIY projects. Here are a few things that were left undone:

1- Filling in the holes in the molding from brad nails

2- Caulking the molding

3- Painting the molding

4- Actually hanging things on the walls (curtains, pictures, etc…)

5- Painting Elsie’s Room’s Ceiling

6 – Desperately need to pull out the SLR to take better pictures (Whoa!)

The first three items  encompass easily another whole weekend of work, and since we needed rest before getting back to the grind we just let it slide until later. Number four is already in work. I have purchased a lot of items that just need hanging and ordered some photo prints before Christmas.  So again, all these remaining items will just have to be sidelined to wait for some free time. I just have to remember that  life is about the journey and not the destination.

Recent Reno – Post 5 of 6

WOOO! FIVE! We’re almost to the end! This day was a mismatch of solving problems, returning unused items to home stores, working on the finishing touches, and wrapping up cutting the molding. Again, my parents came out to support the efforts!

My Dad and Max kept plugging away on the molding. My mom and I painted some of the old molding in the family room (not replaced), ran errands, and painted the previously yellow spare room’s closet. It was a pretty full day and I was happy to reach the end of a few tasks. Nothing too major to show from my mom and my efforts. The window sill in the family room and the closet door appeared a bit yellowed which we repaired with a fresh coat of white gloss.

The major issue we were working on this day was that the HVAC register we removed needed to be replaced, but the slot for the register was very skinny as shown below.

The issue is that when we install the register grate over the hole, the molding has to sit on top of it. This is not a big deal and would probably never be noticed by the average home visitor (see below).

The problem is that once we nail down the molding there is no getting that register out of there, and when we go to replace the floor we need to be able to remove the register. In many cases, we’re going to do our best to follow recommended/best practice procedures, but sometimes snafoo’s like this one pop up. Then you’re faced with the dilemma or doing everything the “right way” just the way the works for us within our budget. We decided to temporarily install this molding by drilling pilot holes and partially hammering in some finish nails (not the threshold kind). This way  they could be pried out to remove piece of molding and the register when we go to install new flooring. Here was our solution:

We left  the nail sticking out about 1/4 inch, and only used a few nails to hold the molding to the wall until new flooring is installed at a later date.

As for the remainder of the changes on this day no progress was apparent in pictures, but it was important to call this day out for a very important safety lesson learned. When using  power tools,  exercise proper safety precautions and remember they are dangerous. This day came to a close with a visit to the ER, and Max getting a tetanus shot (he shot his thumb with the nailer – oops! We’re just glad it wasn’t the saw!). We were in and out pretty quick and Max was good to go in the morning. The next day’s plans were exciting- clean up and get the house back to normal!

Recent Reno – Post 4 of 6

From my previous experience, the first several days were smooth sailing as far as old house renovations go. Day four was the beginning of experiencing set backs. We started out first thing in the morning by tearing up the carpet in the upstairs. At this point we discovered two fun things. First, we found our closet floor was covered by contact paper (OMG- who does that?). Second, we found out that the carpet installers GLUED down the carpet padding to the hardwood (seriously what were these people thinking?). We didn’t have time to care at that point, so we just kept moving by taking all the old carpet to the Gucci Dump

Next, we stopped by Home Depot to pick up all of the molding. We had already pre-shopped, and we knew we were purchasing contractor packs of 5 and 1/4 inch base molding for just about $1.10  a linear foot. We hadn’t concretely decided on a casing molding for all of the doorways and windows, but we landed 3 and 1/4 in width of  a fairly traditional style which was again about a $1.12 a linear foot.

This quickly added up to most of our budget, so we were careful to only re-do the molding on walls we knew we were keeping (there are some major wall moves and removals in the planning phases). We made the decision to remove and replace all of the base and casing molding for several reasons: the molding had been painted poorly many, many times; the molding was not coordinating throughout the house; the molding was not capable of hiding many of the imperfections in the drywall around the floor left from removing old school HVAC registers and paneling. The list could go on, but I won’t bore you. The first snafoo with the molding we ran into was getting the 16 ft long pieces/packs of molding to our house. We own a pick up truck, but Max was rightfully nervous about the extreme weather conditions (very windy) and crazy drivers in our area with us scooting along with 6-8 ft of molding sticking out behind our truck. We rented a 12 ft bed Home Depot truck for an hour to get the molding home, and we made it home with no damage to our load.

When we arrived at the house, my parents were already there hard at work removing the carpeting tack strips and staples. (SWEET!) I took on the task of returning the Home Depot truck and picking up our truck, leaving Max and my parents back at the house to work.  When I got home, all of the tack strips and staples were removed except for in the master bedroom. The master bedroom was double tack stripped, which at first didn’t seem too bad, but it definitely took double the time. Also, the installers used finishing nails ( the kind made for thresholds) made it that much more difficult to remove the tack strips. After finishing up with the removals, I tackled the contact paper in the closet, which luckily came up with no problems. This was not so much the case for the glue and double sided tape.

My mom and I spent more than a few hours with a bucket of warm water and soap just wetting and slowly scraping the glue and tape off the floor. It came up but there was still some damage to the floor. All in all, I’m happy because we did the best we could and we eventually plan on doing something to the floor down the line. Plus any angle I think about it from, the hardwood is still way better than carpet.

I’m sure you’re wondering where were my Dad and Max all afternoon while my mom and I were on glue duty? My Dad was showing Max how to measure and cut the base and casing molding. All I know is they were in and out a whole lot, every once in a while I’d hear, “it’s 38 1/4 and a line – what do you think?”, and someone would reply, “oh yea 38 1/4 and a line” then they would scamper around back to the saw set up. They got pretty  far before we decided to call it a night, but there was still plenty to be finished up the next day. Here are a few shots of the hallway and bedrooms with the base molding placed, but not installed. Also, some/most of the case molding is adhered to the walls, and the carpet has been removed.

Here’s the master bedroom:

Here is the spare room that I call Elsie’s room. There has been no molding around these doors and windows for months. Also, this is  the room I plan to paint stripes in at some time. As you can tell from this blog post, in order to make progress for the molding we had to remove a lot of the items we were storing in here.

This is the upstairs hallway, and it is apparent that the doorway at the end of the hallway was left incomplete at the end of this day.

And lastly, here is the stairway and nook.

Recent Reno – Post 3 of 6

On the third day, “monkey paw” as well as many other aches and pains started setting in. I’m sure the first thing that’s coming to your mind is… what is “monkey paw”? Well, monkey paw is the term we use for the hand cramping that occurs for those of us who are more or less desk jockey’s at work and then spend 24 of the previous 48 hours doing home improvements. I’m no doctor but logic would suggest it comes from using muscles that are not regularly used to grip items such as hammers, crow bars, sanders, and paint brushes  to an extreme. Unfortunately until you work to the point of numbness, it can be quite painful (oh yes, this is how we roll). This was our physical condition when we started off day three.  Not to mention this was the day that the mess started really getting to me. There was debris all over the floor despite constant cleaning and everything was everywhere and there was nowhere to put anything (I’m an everything in its place kind of gal so, this really bugs me). Here you can see in this picture of Elsie all of the little wall pieces and random things placed all over the floor. Please keep in mind this was only a snap shot of a 5 ft by 5 ft area, and the whole house was in this condition.

When considering all the aches, pains, anxiety, and an analysis of progress made in comparison to time remaining to work/recoup, we decided it was best to nix the bathroom remodel. The good news is that we did some major shopping and learned a lot about what’s available and in style for bathrooms these days, so we did make some progress just not anything physical. Oh well, we’ll just wait until after the spring semester (guess I’m stuck with Christmas trees a little longer than I planned).

Day three began with a trip to the “Gucci Dump”, which is an awesome landfill because you drive up to a cement barrier and throw things over the side. There are no seagulls, no stepping in garbage, and there is minimal mud.  This was followed by stops at Home Depot and Lowes to get all of the paint (did I mention that we live 10 minutes away from everything? – Awesome!). We bought 5 gallons of Valspar Signature Paint Foggy Mirror, 2 Gallons of Behr Premium Plus Basketry, and lastly one gallon of Olympic Premium Paint Sand-dollar. Also,  re-enforcements (my Mom and Dad) arrived to help for the day shortly after we got home from shopping – WOOO!

We decided not to remove the carpet until after painting, and it served wonderfully as a drop cloth. The rooms really started to transform on this day.  Applying the color to the walls made a huge difference. My Dad and I took on trimming the foggy mirror gray.

My mom was assigned to the basketry tan color for the two bedrooms.

And last but not least, Max spent the first 8 hours of the day replacing electrical sockets and light switches because they were either a) painted over and unusable or b) a hodge podge of various colors. He also installed a ceiling fan in the previously yellow spare bedroom.

During this day of painting, I managed to paint every color and all three brands (Olympic, Valspar, and Behr) of premium paints on the wall. The first lesson I learned is that when your walls are in as crappy a condition as ours were, it is WAY worth it to spring the extra dough for the premium paint as it shows better coverage than non-premium (which was the ceiling paint from the previous day). Also in my unprofessional opinion, the Valspar Signature color had better coverage .  The Behr and Olympic were comparable, but not as good as the Valspar (sorry Behr and Olympic!). Next, we all discovered the accuracy of trim lines when using Frogs Painting tape over the standard blue paint tape or hand painting.  In most cases, I went back and touched up after removal of the Frog’s tape, but it helped expedite the process tremendously. Lastly, my Dad taught me a little trick to keep my trimming brush fresh. I learned that if I rinse out the brush periodically and dry it off with a towel after rinsing that it made little to no effect on the paint and it was easier to clean the paint brush when I finished.

Here was the progress at the end of day three:

Spare Bedroom – Behr Basketry (don’t mind the bed and check out the new ceiling fan!)

LR/DR – Valspar Foggy Mirror

Tricky Part of the Hallway shown only with the trim painted here (this was where I displayed my amazing balancing act!) – Valspar Foggy Mirror

Family Room – Valspar Foggy Mirror

Family Room (painted paneling) – Olympic Sand dollar

Oh, and did I mention I spent a lot of time in the sink last week? Yikes, here I am again!

We painted ALL day, and we finished all of the color painting – BOOM! I’m still learning to remember to get pictures of every room, so only the rooms I remembered to photograph were shown here (Oops!). It was awesome and celebrated by some serious sleep to prepare for the day’s next carpet removal and molding efforts.

Recent Reno – Post 2 of 6

As soon as we got home on Christmas night, we started packing away Christmas – kind of sad I know. We were keeping in mind the bigger picture and it meant we had to pack and stack away as much stuff away as possible to maximize construction space and items to be cleaned post reno. Preparing the house took easily a half a day of our timeline and here is what the house looks like in construction mode. First, there was stuff piled up wherever we weren’t doing any painting. Such as here:

and here:

Then we piled all of the items that were too large to move in the center of the rooms and covered them with drop cloths.

After finishing up more prep work, I ran around touching up on all of the spackling either by sanding or adding extra layers as necessary while Max started tearing down the paneling. Here is Max now working it!

Once we removed all of the paneling and molding in the master bedroom, it was not looking too pretty.

Next, came the spackling of the master bedroom. Then we began trimming and rolling paint onto the ceiling all throughout the upstairs, living room, dining room, and family room. By the end of the night, the ceiling had a fresh coat of paint. Since we decided to just repaint the ceiling white again, there wasn’t much to photograph but here’s the condition of the master bedroom at the end of day 2.

We also painted samples on the wall to select bedroom color for the master bedroom and the unpainted spare bedroom (the one with yellow walls) as shown by my lovely assistant Max.

I know that none of them are too different then the color that was revealed after the paneling was removed, but that was just chance as we had no idea what color was underneath of the paneling. We took a night to mull over the new color which wrapped up day two of the renovations.

Recent Reno – Post 1 of 6

After spending plenty of time contemplating (while painting, scrubbing, cleaning, sanding, etc) the best way to blog about all of our recent improvement, I’ve decided the best way to cover the whole process is just to go chronically. Six days of renovations makes for six blog posts. We started out with demo on Christmas Eve morning. The first day had a few items on the agenda.

First, we began by taking the paneling down in the spare room that was untouched. Here is the before picture of the room:

Once we starting taking off the paneling we found yellow walls underneath, fun!

Then we spent the rest of the morning spackeling  to prepare for painting as shown in a few pictures below (in the spare room and other rooms). I even got to sand one layer of spackle.

Honestly, everything was pretty tolerable this day.  We only worked for a few hours and we spent as much time working as we did cleaning up after ourselves ( shown below). I spent a lot of time in this laundry sink the last few days.

We tried to plan appropriately, so we could have plenty of time to rest for the Christmas Eve activities. Understandably, the progress wasn’t super exciting as we were still in the tear things down phase of the project.