Monthly Archives: January 2016

You Gotta Spend Some…

This week we’ve made a lot of progress with our trim. I’m happy to say everything is filled and sanded (except one side of the column that needs a bit more filler). Now it’s just doing the painting and it’ll be done! The china cabinet is also finished, with the last coat of water-based poly I put on the stained parts last night. It just needs to be put together after we give it a good 24 hours of drying time.

That doesn’t sound like too much progress for a whole weekend, but with a few huge purchases we made this week that I’ll tell you about, I’m feeling like our house is SO much closer to being put together!

Last Saturday we dragged ourselves out to Raleigh again and went to 4 furniture stores (well, more like 3 stores I guess. One of them we walked in, looked at a few sofa price tags and immediately realized we were poor, so I won’t count those 10 seconds as a full store!). We really wanted a sofa-chaise sectional since we felt like that would give us a little extra seating space in our awkwardly-shaped living room. The tiny wall we want to put the sofa on is exactly 84.5″, and we found that most couches or sofa-chaise sectionals we liked were around 90″. And many of the smaller ones that would have fit just looked like cheap dorm room furniture to me. But we finally found one that had a little style, had a sofa-chaise, fit our wall, and was in our budget at Ashley Furniture. Here’s the stock photo of it:

We liked the little buttons on the cushions, the fact that it was raised off the ground on some feet, and the curved arms, and the color was nice too – a darkish gray. With delivery and taxes and everything it came to around $900, which was under my goal of $1000.

Next, we went to this crazy home store in Durham called At Home – it’s a combination of Michael’s craft store, Ikea, and the biggest warehouse of home decor things you’ve ever seen. It’s probably bigger than Home Depot, just to give some perspective. A lot of the stuff in there isn’t the best quality, but we were able to find a nice wool rug for the dining room for $150, and some ideas for arm chairs for more seating in the living room. Here’s the rug we picked out:

rug 1

And finally, if you thought that was all the money we spent this week, I hate to disappoint you (well, you’re probably not disappointed, but my bank account might be). We also bought a kitchen suite! We’re not quite ready to redo our kitchen yet, but why wait to start enjoying new appliances? We figured out we can easily move them ourselves when it comes time to do the floor under the fridge and stove, and I don’t think we’re installing wood floor under the dishwasher, so it can stay where it is once it’s installed. We got a Kenmore suite from Sears since a lot of the Kenmore stuff was on super sale right now, then we got a 5% discount for buying 3 things over $400, AND we had a 10% coupon for Sears from when we moved that was only good till the end of January. You won’t believe how cheap we got these things…we saved over 50% off the original price for some of the items!

Here’s our fridge:

Kenmore 51123 25 cu. ft. Side-by-Side Refrigerator - Stainless Steel

We splurged an extra $50 for the one that had LED lights inside and clear door shelves. Originally $1410, and we paid $812.

Here’s the oven:

Kenmore 94193 5.4 cu. ft. Electric Range w/ Convection Oven - Stainless Steel

And it’s a convection oven (since the convection one was on super sale, and was the same price as the non-convection one)! My baking will be getting even better soon! We had a PSNC guy come out a few months ago and give us a quote for giving our stove a gas line, and it was about $900 extra…which is why we decided to stay with electric. So the original price on this was $999 and we paid $469.

And finally, our dishwasher:

Kenmore 13543 24" Built-In Dishwasher w/ PowerWave™ Spray Arm - Stainless Steel

We were deciding between this one and one that didn’t have a handle that stuck out a couple inches and instead had the control panel visible on the front. The other one wasn’t as sleek looking and was a slightly lower-quality model, so we decided to get this one. And it is all stainless steel inside so it looks fancy in there too! This one was $879 originally and we paid $494. But honestly, I probably would’ve paid the full $879 to get rid of the one we have that actually sounds like the Titanic sinking into the ocean when it runs. We should record it next time we run it, just for memories. We didn’t pay for installation of the dishwasher…the nice sales guy seemed to have enough faith that we could figure it out ourselves, but he said if we have issues they can send a guy to finish the job.

So, you really can’t blame us for biting the bullet and getting this purchase out of the way with the crazy low prices we got! It’s all getting delivered next Friday AND they’ll haul away our old appliances for an extra $10. Done and done.

I feel like it’s all coming together now. There probably aren’t too many more substantial purchases we’ll have to make in the immediate future to get our house looking nice, so I’m glad to have this behind us!

Fun With Trim

This past weekend we made a good dent in our to-do list. First, we gave our china cabinet 3 coats of paint (I’ll save pics of this until it’s done), and I built the composter my parents gave us:


But more importantly, we got a good ways into the installation of trim wood to finish our stair column and our dining room chair rail. First, I’ll write about the column. After we ripped out the stair wall, we had to put in a column since it was load bearing (here’s a picture from way back):

September 2015 016

We then needed to make it look presentable. We started this project by building the “box” that would encase the column, made out of primed/painted pine board. We glued the boards at 90 degrees, then reinforced with the nail gun:


Then we adhered the two halves around the column, assuming they’d fit like a glove. They did not. We used nails to reinforce the glue, and just accepted that there would be gaps we’d have to fill. Nik had to do some fancy miter angles to fit the board against the slanted stair wall:


It’s stupid that we pre-painted these boards because they’re a mess now and obviously need a repainting with all the filling and caulking we’ll have to do. So we learned our lesson about pre-painting trim. Then Nik built a base cap with wider pine board and some cove trim to finish it off:


And he did the same at the top too, first the cove trim then the cap pieces:



And there you have it, sorta finished! The top edge against the ceiling obviously looks raw, but we’ll be installing crown molding eventually that will cover that edge.

Next, I primed that raw drywall around the stairs so it’s ready for paint, and Nik still needs to cut that one last piece that will cover the angled wall:


Then our final big accomplishment for this weekend was getting ALL our chair rail trim installed in the dining room! Installed doesn’t mean done –  we still need to fill, caulk, sand, and paint it, but having it up on the wall feels good. When we painted our dining room, we just left a rough line dividing the white bottom half and the blue top half, and finally having that edge covered up makes me happy!

As I mentioned in a previous post, we used a DIY way of making our chair rail (using 3 cheap pieces) instead of the standard chair rail in the store (made of 2 pieces that cost a ton).

Dec 2015 023

We started by measuring up from the baseboards 30.5″ and nailing in the bottom of the 3 pieces:


Then we cut 1/2″ spacers and put the upper board over those:


We left the very end spacers in so once the chair rail was put over this, you wouldn’t be able to tell there’s a space. We had big plans to measure everything perfectly and get the chair rail just right, but you know what ended up being the best way to get the chair rail centered on the back boards and looking good in waaay less time? Eyeballing it!


Here’s a close up of what the ends looks like. After much discussion, we decided not to miter the corners of the back boards when we came to a wall end, and to do a 32.5 degree angle on the outer chair rail board.  And you can see where the spacers fill in that gap. Once things are caulked/filled/sanded/painted, hopefully you won’t be able to tell that we used multiple pieces of wood!



Here’s some shots of the dining room with the chair rail. I think it looks great…great enough that we might hold off on doing the picture frame wainscoting below the chair rail for a day far off in the future where we don’t have more pressing projects to tackle!



Next weekend we really have to stop putting off doing the finishing touches for all our trim (floor baseboards, stair column, and now the chair rail). Filling, caulking, sanding, and painting all this trim will be tedious but that’s the to-do list for next weekend!

To leave you with some fun pictures, here’s  a few gifts I crafted for Christmas this year that I never wrote about. We made Nik’s family home made apple butter that we canned (recipe here), and I added some decorative ribbon to be festive (idea courtesy of The Kitchen show).

butter 1

And I also painted a little bamboo serving tray for Nik (another idea stolen from one of my favorite blogs, Domestic Imperfection) – we just finished binge watching all seasons of Parks and Rec, so for those of you that are fans of this show, you’ll understand. For those of you who don’t get it, you should watch the show.


That’s it for this week. After this weekend, I’ll show you our to-be-finished china cabinet and whatever else we get done.

Lots to Do

The holidays are over, and nothing got done on the house since Nik and I were traveling for the two holiday weekends. I’m itching to get started on our projects again, so to tide me over till the weekend I made a to-do list for the year…or at least the first 9 months of the year. We’re getting married in October, and we’d love to invite our out-of-town family and friends over to see the house after our rehearsal dinner, so the goal is to have our downstairs mostly done for that gathering. Here’s a breakdown of what I ambitiously envision will happen month by month:


  1. Finish stairway column and trim (fill, sand, caulk, paint)
  2. Finish floor quarter-round trim (sand, caulk, paint)
  3. Install floor transition pieces
  4. Install and finish dining room chair rail (fill, sand, caulk, paint)
  5. Finish painting china cabinet
  6. Purchase kitchen appliances?


  1. Install stair banister
  2. Rip out downstairs bathroom vanity, install tile floor, paint walls
  3. Build our vegetable garden!


  1. Install downstairs bathroom vanity (need to raise the plumbing since the new sink is higher) and mirror
  2. Purchase unfinished kitchen cabinets for far wall of kitchen
  3. Purchase cabinet trim for top of cabinets
  4. Sand /paint base cabinets
  5. Plant garden


  1. Remove and sand/paint upper cabinets and new trim
  2. Paint kitchen
  3. Rehang upper cabinets a couple inches higher
  4. Rip out kitchen floors; lay new flooring
  5. Install quarter round trim, paint, fill, sand, caulk, paint


  1. Hire electrician to install microwave over stove/move outlet
  2. Paint/install crown molding downstairs (maybe just a couple rooms to start?)
  3. Refinish old fireplace mantle (we still need to find a cool one!)


  1. Catch up/continue with crown molding
  2. Build a kitchen island

July, August, and Beyond

  1. Master bath renovation: new tile floor, new vanity/mirror, rip out tub and relocate toilet?, add a linen closet where tub used to be, rip out shower and make a little larger/tile shower and install new glass door
  2. Build kitchen nook under the far wall of new cabinets, including a built-in storage bench and table.

So what do you think? It’s probably too ambitious, but there are projects we can hold off on if we get too backed up, like the crown molding. We had originally planned to replace the kitchen cabinets but we’re going to see how it goes painting the existing ones. We decided we’d like to spend more money redoing the master bathroom, plus our kitchen cabinets are actually in great condition (they’re just ugly). We’re hoping some top trim, new hardware, a new coat of paint, and new counter tops and floors will do the trick.

Happy New Year to everyone, and may you all be as productive (hopefully!) as us in 2016!