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may not seem like a big change to update door knobs, but it really is- especially when the ones you originally had were outdated and in some cases, broken.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!



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…

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!


Billy the Chewer

I love our new little dog Billy, but I HATE that he chews up everything.  I know he’s a puppy and that’s what puppies do, and when he chewed up two pairs of heels, my flip flops, my rug pad, my rug, my carpet (that now needs to be replaced, thank you Billy), and countless stuffed animals, I had patience, but when I saw that he chewed up the new upholstery job that I just did on the guest bed, I saw red!

RippedNeedless to say, Billy is now banned from the basement.

After I calmed down, I fixed the spot that was chewed to hell and since I had lots of practice it looked better than the original- I’m stretching for that silver lining!   It really does look fine now… I wish I could say the same for my heels :(.

Fixed Upholstery

Can’t even tell that it was a slobbery mess an hour ago

Also in the guest room I found that my mirror habit is alive and well and try as I could to find something for above the bed that was not a mirror, I just couldn’t.  So, mirror it is!  I like this one since it is the same wood style as the dresser so it goes well together.  It’s from World Market, btw.


I also installed one of the lights over the nightstands- only one because after waiting for MONTHS for the lights to come in, one was defective and I had to return it.

Light Fixture

(Hello, I see you!)

 I still have to find a way to hide the cords that run down the wall from the light fixture and the clock.  Because eventually an electrician will hard wire the fixtures, I just need a quick fix for now.

WiresThe rug that I found ties into the pillows on the bed:



And other than painting which is not high on my list currently (and wire hiding), this area is done for now!

Whole Room

Updates Over the Last Week

It’s been a busy week the past week with a yard sale on Saturday (that produced a whopping $37.50, let’s not talk about it), the last of the season soccer games, and getting curricula together for the kids’ summer of torture, I mean, homeschool.  I did finish Tuscan’s room finally that I’ll post about soon, but here are some other, smaller projects that I completed:

Foyer: I moved the yellow mirror that I had at the back of the foyer, painted it gold, and put it front and center so that it’s seen right when you walk in the front door.  I also got some “placeholder” stuff from Target for the entry table.  The red bowl is actually a ramekin from the kitchen section at Target and the wood box is a clearance item.  I also got a couple baskets from Target to go under the table for storage.  I’m not super excited with how the tabletop arrangement looks right now since it’s still too one-dimensional, but I’ll play around with it over the next few weeks.

Whole Table

Foyer Table

This is a sad before shot of the same table:

Foyer Little Table

and the mirror that used to be in the back of the foyer:
Foyer BackCovered porch:

Covered Porch BeforeI added some pillows and table top decorations, but there’s still a lot to do in here.

Covered Porch After

Covered Table SetI’m looking for an outdoor sectional on Craigslist to put up against the side and back of the room.  I also want to find a couple indoor trees (maybe something that produces some fruit, like lemons or figs?), and I want to put up some string lights on the ceiling for more ambiance (ooo la la!).

I’ve seen some really pretty white-washed wood covered porches that I’ve been contemplating changing my rustic covered porch into, but with the porch overlooking the woods, if I paint it white, I’ll lose the treehouse-in-the-air feel that I have going on now.  But here’s one I really like that if I had the nuts to change mine into, I would:

White Covered Porch

 (Country Living Magazine)

Flower Beds:

Garden Collage

I added a bunch more New Guinea Impatiens and also our neighbor who’s selling his house was throwing out a bunch of irises since his realtor told him that they had to go so, Thomas snatched those up right away.  Irises are his favorite garden flower.  He must have gotten at least 100 bulbs so those will look nice when they bloom next spring.

And that’s it for now!  I’m still working on the dining room and will post pictures of Tuscan’s completed room soon!

Model Home Furniture Steal!

I have been looking for a while for dining room furniture.  I’ve looked online, at Craigslist, in stores, in consignment shops, and at thrift stores only to find NOTHING that I liked and that was reasonably priced.  A friend of mine told me about a warehouse in my area that sells model home furniture at rock bottom prices, but you have to stand in line for an hour or more starting at around 7:00 in the morning.  They don’t sell any other time during the week except for on Fridays from 8:00 to noon and if you’re not standing near the front of the line when the store opens, forget it, you’ll end up with nothing.  You have to be in the front of the mad dash.

Clearance Center Outside(It’s in a totally nondescript, easy to overlook building that I’ve passed dozens of times)

So, I stood in line for an hour and talked to a couple who’ve been coming every Friday for the last 3-4 months because they’re “addicted” to this place.  They told me the ins and outs of how to get what you want and where to run to in the warehouse to find the dining room sets.  In short, I got a primer on how to score at this place.

When the doors finally opened, I did what they said and made a mad dash to the dining room sets only to find that I didn’t like any of them enough… womp, womp.  BUT, they were right, the prices were insane.  I found one set that I liked (not loved) that had 6 chairs and a table with a leaf.  The wood was SOLID and the set was priced at $750.  I couldn’t find that type of deal even on Craigslist.  And the brands that they had for the dining room sets were Broyhill, Hooker, Thomasville… good brands!

So, after the adrenaline subsided, I casually strolled the warehouse not looking for anything in particular and SCORE, I found Tuscan’s bedroom furniture which I wasn’t actively looking for… Not the bed, but I found two end tables, a chest, and two lockers for $300.  Five pieces of heavy metal furniture for $300!  Tuscan and I were just pinning some bedroom ideas onto his board last night, so I guess that was a sign.  And with that, Tuscan’s room renovation just moved to the top of the list.

4 Drawer Locker Chest Red Lockers

You can’t tell from the pic., but these are full-sized lockersBlue Metal Locker Night Stand Red Metal Locker Night Stand

The tops of these nightstands have laminate wood which is perfect for kids

I also found a beautifully upholstered chenille headboard in gray that would’ve been perfect for my bedroom except that it was queen sized and I need a king.  But man, I almost snagged it anyway thinking that it would look great in our basement guest room but I’m not even close to starting that project so I passed with great regret…

I also got a picture frame and vase that I really liked for $7.50 each that will go in the foyer for now.




As I was checking out with my goodies, the same couple that I met in line high-fived me on my first buying experience and I even got a “You go girl!” Ahhhhhh….the camaraderie of getting a good deal…  So, I am now officially addicted and will be back next Friday!  Their furniture turns over weekly, so hopefully I’ll find the “one” dining room set I’ve been searching for and our dining room will be empty no longer.  In the meantime, I’m working on Tuscan’s new sports themed room which means that I have to purge the snot out of his toys and clothes first, so it may be a while before I get to the fun stuff like painting and decorating.