Whole Table

Quick Breakfast Room Update

I wasn’t planning on replacing the chairs anytime soon in the breakfast area but when I saw these at Home Goods, I had to have them!

Back Side

The old chairs were more or less the same color as the breakfast table and that made for a boring breakfast area since there was no color anywhere in the space.


The old chairs were not very comfy and also we had five of them that fit awkwardly around the table.

These new chairs (which just happen to be in one of my very favorite colors!) give the area a punch of color.  I love the modern lines and how well it relates to the light fixture.  And they may not seem like it, but they are super comfortable.  They have a groove for your butt that makes them heaven to sit in!  I also like the juxtaposition of our Craigslist barn wood table and the chairs.

Front Side


What I told myself to get over the guilt of purchasing chairs when we already had perfectly good ones was that the old chairs dinged the window molding (which they did) and also the ledge on the half wall behind the chairs (which they did).  Because the new dining chair profiles are so low and because they are upholstered, there will be no more dinging.  I just have to paint the old dings which I will get around to…

Whole TableI bought five of these chairs but only put four around the table since adding the fifth would be too tight.  The fifth one will be switched in and out as we need it.

We are buying another property soon and the old chairs will go in the new house so they won’t just be relegated to the basement to die a dusty death.   We’re actively looking and it’s so exciting!  At least I think so.  It will be our second investment property.  More on #2 as we find something!

Top Closet

Changed my Mind! Closet Rehab

In my last post, I thought it would be a good idea to remove our closet that blocks the flow of one of our main thoroughfares.  However, after thinking about the fact that the flooring might look choppy since we’d have new flooring right next to the old, we decided to keep the closet for now.  We’ll remove it when we renovate the entire kitchen since we plan on expanding the kitchen into the space where the closet currently resides.

Because the kitchen renovation is a ways away, I thought I’d at least try to make the closet more functional for now.  The closet had one high shelf with a coat rack.  We have a coat closet at the front of the house already so another one didn’t really make sense especially since we needed more practical storage.  Also, the shelf was so high that for us shorties (that would include my entire family), we’d have to get the step stool to reach the shelf or risk things falling on our heads.  The closet also had the last vestiges of the ugly mustard color that poisoned the entire first floor when we moved in.

Here’s the nasty flashback:Full Living RoomTry not to cringe at all the ugliness!

I have a lot of wood in my shed left over from the treehouse we built a couple years ago, so the only thing I needed to buy for the shelves was caulk and a few smooth trim pieces for the front of the shelves.

Here’s the before:

Old Closet


And the after:

Finished Dresser

To make the shelves, I found this video particularly useful.

I’ll just touch on the basics since the video does a good job of explaining how to install the shelves.

1.  First I painted the closet the same blue color as I used in the kids’ bathroom (Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore).

2.  Measure and cut your ledgers.  The ledgers are what hold up the shelves and should be the same length from the back to the front of the closet as your shelves.


That’s me measuring.  :)  I try to put any pic I can of me in these posts since I rarely have any!

LedgersThese are the ledgers.  I marked the studs first to make sure I drilled into them.  I also made sure to use a level so that the ledgers wouldn’t be all wonky.  I sunk the screws below the surface of the wood so that I could dab wood putty on the holes later and paint over them.  I also put one coat of paint on the ledgers before they were installed so I wouldn’t have to paint as much when they were on the wall.  Also, don’t worry about any gaps in the corners because they will be covered with caulk.

3.  Cut the plywood to fit on the ledgers using a circular or table saw (I used a circular).  I made sure that the plywood was as long as the ledgers so that I could nail trim pieces along the entire front of the shelves.  I cut the shelves a little shorter than the width of the closet so that they could easily slide in but still sit comfortably on the ledgers (the video explains this pretty well).

4.  I cut trim pieces for the front of the shelves to make the finished product more polished and nailed them in place.  I also caulked all the ledgers and plywood pieces to the wall to make them look more “built in.”

Ledger Caulk

caulk v. no caulk

5.  Get some baskets and organize because you’re done!

Top ClosetAll baskets are from Tar-jay.  All our dog paraphernalia, reusable grocery bags, and cleaning supplies are now neatly corralled.

This was a fairly easy project that was definitely budget friendly since I had most of the materials already.  Now, things are at a good height and instead of just one high shelf, we have three shelves for more of our crapola.

Next on the list is tackling the master bedroom.  Painting is first!  I LOVE painting!  Not really.

New Knob1

Door Knob Switch-a-roo

We are slowly purging all things ’80s in our house and the interior door knobs have died a Milli Vanilli death.  It may not seem like a big change to update door knobs, but it really is- especially when the ones you originally had were outdated and in some cases, broken.  These are the old ones:

Old Knobs

And now for the new ones:

New KnobThe knobs are Weslock – Elegance Collection, Impresa knobs

Much better, right?

I liked the fact that these have a backplate because of the way they look (fanciness) and also because they cover any “mistakes” in taking out the old knobs.  All nicks, scratches, and scrapes in yanking out the old knobs are covered by the back plate.

Installation was easy and it took about 10 minutes per knob.  The only tool that I needed to buy was a one inch hole drill bit  to enlarge the hole that the latch slid into.  The other tools I needed was a Philips screwdriver,  a flathead screwdriver, and a drill.

The steps were simple:

1.  Take out the old latch and knob by unscrewing the latch and pulling it out and unscrewing the knob and pulling both sides of the knob out.

Taking Off Latch


Taking off knob1

Taking Off Knob

2.  Remove the old strike plate by unscrewing.

Unscrewing Latch

3.  Enlarge the hole where the latch slides into (if needed) with a one inch hole drill bit.

Hole Bit

Drilling Hole

4.  Slide the new latch into the hole but don’t screw in yet.  Remember that the curved part of the latch faces the strike plate.

Putting Plates Together

5.  With my knobs, I had to take off the interior knob to access the screws on that side but you may not have to.

Taking Knob Off

6.  Insert exterior knob first (normally the one without the screw holes on the backplate or knob base).  If it’s a bathroom/bedroom type knob, it will have a lock on it and obviously the lock goes on the inside of the room. Closet/hallway knobs do not have a lock.  Stationary knobs are ones that don’t turn and that can be used on pantry doors, linen closets, etc.

Putting Plates Together

7.  Align the parts of the interior and exterior knob with the latch and screw together.  Make sure that the backplates are straight before screwing.

Back Plate

8.  Screw in the latch.


9.  Install the new strike plate.  You might have to notch out a bit of wood if the hole is uneven or not deep enough.

Notching Hole

Latch1Note: Some knobs come with multiple strike plates and you just have to match up the old one with one of the new ones.

Different Latches10.  Test the knob to make sure that the latch fully lodges into the strike plate hole when you close the door.  If not, then you need to adjust the strike plate either forward or back to catch the latch.

New Knob

And that’s it.  Easy peasy.  I had the kids each do one knob installation from beginning to end to teach them some basic DIY.  I try to have them do at least one piece of every project I do because I don’t want them to be DIY-helpless as adults.  Anyway, if they can install doorknobs, anyone can.

My next project won’t be so easy…  I plan on removing a closet near the garage door.  Another not so endearing trait of our 80s house is that there is no open floor plan.  We have boxed off, distinct rooms so removing the closet is a first step to making the flow a little better and opening things up a bit.  I have an electrician coming on Monday so I need to at least remove the drywall from the closet before he/she gets here.  More on that soon!



Insulation Hair

Look back at 2014

Our house has changed a lot in a year and although the “big” project didn’t get done (the kitchen), most of the other rooms have been renovated or at least updated this year.

In January, I updated Trajan’s room and he now has a big kid football themed bedroom:

Trajan's Room Final


Egg Chair Whole Room

In March, with the addition of a mid-century dresser for a TV stand and a gray chair in the corner, the family room remodel was finally completed:

Room Wide AngleIn the spring, I started painting our new deck (we had someone build it):

DeckIn May, Tuscan got a big boy soccer themed room:

Lit Up Marquee


Wall Book ShelfIn July, the dining room remodel was finally done:

Wide Angle

In August, with impending guests coming to visit, I carved out an area in the basement for a guest room:

Whole RoomPillowsWe took an awesome vacation to the Bahamas for almost two weeks in late August:

IMG_2246And after a small break, we insulated the attic in December:

Insulation Hair


I’m looking forward to 2015 and lots and lots of projects!  Our bedroom (the master) is finally on the list and that’s what we’re tackling next.  Also, we are planning on buying another investment property in the spring, and I can’t wait to dive into more projects at that house.  Happy 2015 everyone!



Blown-in Insulation in the Attic *Messiest Project EVER*

A couple years ago we had our home energy audited.  For those of you who don’t know what that is, it’s where a company comes in and assesses how much energy your home consumes and they also evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient.  One of the things that they noticed is that we had almost no insulation in the attic.

No insulationYou can see the bare spot we had in the corner and those spots were all over the attic

Even without the energy audit, I knew that we were lacking insulation because the top floor was always freezing in the winter and blazing hot in the summer.  It got so bad in the summer, that we thought of moving our room to the basement to escape the heat.

I had seen videos of people blowing in insulation and thought that it was do-able especially since the energy audit company quoted us a hefty price for them to blow in the insulation.  The labor was a little over a thousand since our attic is so big.

I won’t go into all the details of how to blow in the insulation especially since there are such good tutorials online.  The one I found most helpful was this one.

The short of it is that it is a super messy job that requires two people.  One person blows in the insulation and the other feeds the hopper.  Walkie talkies are must for communication.


This is the hopper

I chose to work with recycled insulation because it’s more environmentally friendly (super important) and also because I hate working with fiberglass. Even if I cover myself from head to toe, those annoying fibers get everywhere and make me feel like a cactus.  They also lodge in my throat and I end up coughing for hours afterward.  I’d rather pay a little more money to not feel like I was poisoning myself with fiberglass.

The insulation comes in packages that are easy to transport and aren’t heavy to lift in and out which was important to me since I mostly did that part myself.  The hopper is really heavy and it takes two people to lift it into and out of a vehicle, but it was free to use from Home Depot if you buy 10 or more packages of insulation.  I think I bought about 200 packages so they let me have it for a few days to finish my project.

InsulationThis is just a small sampling of the packages of insulation I used.  All these fit in my van (that’s right, I’m a master van packer!).

The insulation needs to be fed into the hopper and it goes through a long tube up to the place where you want it blown.  The kids, my husband, and a friend (thanks Donna!) helped with this while I blew.  The process of blowing was LONG because I wanted an R60 rating up there and that means I had to blow in 20 inches of insulation all over the attic.  Home Depot gives you measuring guides that you attach to the ceiling, but I found that a measuring tape worked much better.  I just measured every few minutes to make sure I was at 20 inches.  A thin stick with a mark at 20 inches would have actually worked even better.

Prep work was fairly straightforward.  The only thing that I had to do was to replace the cardboard rafter covers with styrofoam ones so that the insulation didn’t creep into the vents under the eaves.

Before and After Covers

The styrofoam covers were easy to install with my electric stapler.  I just had to remember not to put down the stapler pointing toward me since it has a sensitive trigger.  I almost got a staple to the arm that way.

I was also super grateful for the tetanus shot I had to get a couple years ago after a little incident involving a razor blade when building our treehouse because I got stabbed and scraped in the head numerous times by rusty nails poking out of the ceiling.  Wearing a hard hat is not a bad idea.

Gloves are also a must for splinters as well as a respirator so that you don’t breathe in the insulation.  The insulation dust goes EVERYWHERE and you don’t want it in your lungs!

Also, this might be a no-brainer, but don’t drink a lot before you head up to the “job site” since it’s a pain in the rear to stop and dust off to use the bathroom.  I learned that lesson the hard way and had to vacuum the path from the attic to the bathroom a few times.

By the time I was done with day 1 of the project, I looked like this:

Insulation HairI look like a snow princess… at least that’s what I told myself.  The kids said I looked like an old lady…  They’re mean.

My last piece of advice is that you have to be very clear communicating with your hopper loader.  At the very end of the job, I lowered the tube into my closet from the attic, and I told my hopper loader that we were done. He thought I said to turn on the hopper and this happened:

Closet DisasterDOH!  I spent an hour vacuuming all our clothes and shoes.  The insulation was everywhere!

Overall, despite the huge mess and cost (about $1,500), this project was a winner.  The first night we noticed the difference in how much warmer the top floor was than before the insulation.  We have a programmable thermostat and by the second night, I programmed it to be 4 degrees cooler at night because the first night we were sweltering.  It’s almost stuffy on the top floor whereas before it was drafty.

We now have to find a way to make the basement and main floor as comfortable as the top floor because there’s a 5 degree difference between the floors.  New windows on the main level are part of the solution, but that’s down the road.

By the way, there’s no “after” pic in this post because I couldn’t take it right after I was done since there were dust particles everywhere and you couldn’t see ANYTHING.  I sealed up the door with insulation on the sides and on top and trying to get up in the attic again would mean getting insulation all over my now clean clothes in the closet, so no pic!

Just imagine an endless sea of gray, puffy, warm cloudiness…

New Foyer Lights

I guess my last post (and looking at inspirational blogs) got my butt in gear because the next day after posting, I replaced the two lights in the foyer that were staring at me screaming, “Replace me!  I’m ugly!” and then took three weeks to post…  Sorry!   The holidays were hectic is my excuse :) .

Here is what the lights looked like before:

Ugly Light!Typical builder grade ’80s light.  Ugly right?

Here’s the replacement:Middle Light

I had a hard time finding a style that I liked that complimented but didn’t outshine (see what I did there :), the crystal foyer light that I love.  I finally found one that I liked at Home Depot that was not too pricey, as lights can get super expensive.  These were $140 a piece (I ordered two) which is not too bad.

The installation was as expected- an hour for the first one and 20 minutes for the second since I had practice with the first.  By the time I was done, I felt like I had gotten a good arm workout and because of that, I didn’t go to the gym.  HA, I crack myself up!  I wasn’t going to go anyway…

Anyhoo, here’s how they look now:

Two Lights


And another angle, at the front of the foyer:

Front LightThe silver matches the crystal light and the shapes are also the same, so I thought they complimented each other nicely.

Next up is to find a new rug for the foyer as well as some nice artwork and to move the coral chair out of the room… sorry chair, it was nice while it lasted…


Getting Back into the Groove…

I’m in a decorating slump…  I don’t know if it’s because the house is finally starting to look like us and I’m getting lazy, or if I’ve just lost my groove, but the best way I know how to get that spark (or “obsession” as my husband calls it) is to list what still needs to be done in the house and ATTACK!, so here goes:

Family Room:

Paint ceiling (We had a contractor check out if we could install another skylight since we only have one and it looks odd, but there’s no room because of the beam placement.  The contractor had to punch a hole in the ceiling that he patched but now the ceiling is splotched so we have to paint.)

Paint window casing

Find new window treatment for our lone window in the room

Install recessed lighting


Total Remodel:  I wanted to paint the cabinets but the condition of the cabinets are so poor that saving up for new cabinets is a better way to go. Painting is a pain in the rear and the time it takes to paint beat up cabinets is not worth it.  This project might include expanding the kitchen into the laundry room and moving the laundry room to the basement or upstairs off of the master bedroom.

Reconfigure coat closet near the garage since every time we try to take stuff out of the closet, things fall on our heads!

Dining Room:

I am still on a curtain hunt.  The ones that I have up now I just don’t like.  I tried to let them grow on me and they just don’t work.

Install wainscoting

Living Room:

It’s looking a little tired in here, but I don’t want to mess with it for now although…

Recessed lighting would be nice down the road


Recessed lighting eventually


Ugh… so much!

New rug, artwork, replace the coral chair that I loved but I now find ill-suited for the space.

The kids’ rooms:


Master bedroom:

So much!  I’ll post a mood board for this soon because there’s so much that needs to be done in here that I really can’t list it all.


Build compost bins

Finish painting the deck (yes, that’s still not done…)

Put down more seed so that there’s more grass and less flower beds/woods

Get rid of current garden space and make a garden space in a more desirable location

Repair cracks in driveway

Install or move one more rain barrel near the garden site


Gut and remodel basement bathroom

Whole House:

Insulate/weatherproof (We had a home auditor come to our house a couple years ago who said that our house could be a lot more energy efficient.  He left me with a long list of things we could do to be more energy efficient and I need to knock off a few things on the list to include insulate the garage attic and house attic better.)

So there it is… My inspiring post to get me motivated again.  I’ve already ordered a couple lights for the foyer to replace the brass beauties we currently have.  I also have some supplies necessary to start the insulation project (which is going to be a bear but will save us so much money doing it ourselves!).  Updates soon… I hope!