Monthly Archives: January 2017

Guest Bedroom Makeover

I finally got around to taking some pictures of the guest bedroom we’ve been working on. We love the way it turned out – it looks so bright and inviting now and I think our guests will appreciate it. We just need to recruit some visitors to stay with us!

For the past year this room has been a storage area for extra flooring scraps and random boxes, and in anticipation of painting, the electrical plates were all removed and there were some smears of potential paint colors up on one wall. There was also an old dingy comforter and some mismatched blankets, which looked even more dingy in the awful CFL light from the old ceiling fan.

I never took a great before picture, but here’s a super-before picture, from our first night in the house:

New house Aug 2015 049

And here’s the old ceiling fan – which we managed to sell for $20 to a weirdly-eager buyer on craigslist:


So for this makeover, we painted the walls a light blue-purple color (Cool Mist by Valspar – leftover paint from our office room), gave the floor and door trim and window sill a fresh coat of white, got a new bed spread and pillows, and updated the ceiling fan. I don’t consider clearing out clutter to really be part of a ‘makeover’, but we did that as well and after all our hard work this was probably what made the biggest difference in this room. We also moved a desk in here for sitting at or putting a suitcase on. Here’s the finished room:




And a closeup of the new fan ($69 at Home Depot). This fan was a smaller width than the old fan (42″ vs 52″) and it fits this tiny room much better:


We’re still waiting to get our final shipment of blinds to update the window blind, and I’ve been stalking craigslist for a pair of little side tables that need redoing for either side of the bed.

This past weekend we installed 5 other blinds that the store had sizes for in stock and laid out a design for our backyard flower garden and started trenching the ground to put a wood border in. We also put new toilet seats on our upstairs toilets (I don’t ever want to see/smell 18 years of crusted pee from removing an old toilet seat again!). You know what happened the last time we replaced a toilet seat for the downstairs bathroom – the entire room was demo-ed down to the subfloor that very afternoon. We restrained ourselves this time, but I’m itching to start our master bathroom renovation this summer!

Molding, Blinds, and Birds

This weekend we got the majority of our cabinet molding trim installed, and it looks really nice. All that’s left is to fill nail holes and give it one more coat,  but I can still show pictures today.

The cabinets were a little plain to begin with, and trim has the ability to really dress things up and make them look professionally done. We choose just to do top trim to maintain good clearance under our cabinets, although there is also trim that you can put on the bottoms of the cabinets as well. This is how they started:


We picked out small crown molding trim and did a quick coat of paint before mounting.


We used a series of boards behind each piece of trim to tack the trim to, and then attached the boards to the cabinets – there wasn’t quite enough room above the cabinet doors to tack the crown molding straight into the cabinet, unfortunately.

Nik learned how to cut crown molding on the miter saw…and after thinking about it, he realized they’re really just 45 degree cuts, but you have to hold the trim in a certain way when you make the cut. We also realized that when you make these types of miter cuts, you inevitably lose a few inches on each cut that we didn’t account for, which sent Nik back to Lowe’s on Sunday to buy another 8′ of the trim to finish the job. Then it was time for the nail gun:


And here is the (almost) finished job, before:


And after:



$18 of trim makes a big difference!

I also spent a lot of time this weekend painting the guest room upstairs – walls and floor trim. We had extra paint from a bedroom we painted when we moved into the house, and it was high time to use that paint up before it got too old. We’re also replacing the ceiling fan in that room to something that isn’t from 1999, but without daylight to work on it until next weekend that project will be on hold.

On Saturday we started installing new wider-slat blinds since our old metal ones are dated, some are missing slats, and many of them have broken mechanisms so they don’t actually open or stay up. After a long argument with Home Depot about a store credit we had, and them not allowing us to spend it on the blind sizes we needed online even though it says we can use the store credit at their online store, etc., we only ended up buying 3 blinds so far that happened to be in sizes we needed that were in stock at the store. Hopefully we can get the rest purchased or ordered this week, but we like how the first few look mounted. To give every window in the house these new blinds (these are the least expensive faux-wood option the store carries), the cost  is about $430. For the upgraded feel they give every room I think the investment is totally worth it.

Before and after:

On another note, Nik got me some binoculars and a bird book for Christmas to watch the many birds that visit our backyard feeder. We’ve seen juncos (these look just like Angry Birds), flickers, a variety of woodpeckers, chickadees of course, bluebirds, cardinals, robins, and a bunch more. Here’s some of our visitors to leave you with:








2016 Year In Review

2016 has come to a close, so I wanted to look back at the progress we made. This was a busy year, with both of us still adjusting to our new careers and planning our October wedding. But I think we made enormous progress on the house, and reflecting on all that we accomplished will hopefully be motivation to keep up the hard work this year.

In early 2016, we finally wrapped up the trim and painting on the stair column – at this point, we still need to add some base and top trim, but we’re planning to install the crown molding downstairs sometime this spring, so that will be the final step of this job. Apparently I haven’t taken a picture of the column after it was painted, so this is the best one I’ve got:


The next big project of 2016 was our downstairs powder room. What began with a new toilet seat resulted in a gutted room and complete renovation. We painted, tiled and grouted the floor and backsplash, installed a new vanity with a new faucet, new mirror, new towel/toilet paper holder fixtures, and a new threshold.

We installed all the chair molding trim in the dining room, completed refinishing the china cabinet, and got our dining room furniture all set up to finish this room.


We built 2 raised bed gardens which did pretty well last year. I just bought seeds for 2017, which I’ll start inside next month. I’ll be planting cucumbers (pickling size and regular), bush string beans, snow peas, eggplant, jalapeno pepper, bush zucchini, roma and grape-sized tomatoes, spaghetti squash, mescalin, leeks, garlic, and various herbs. If anyone wants extra seedlings, let me know!

Our furniture work this year was pretty pitiful, and I hope we have more time to do furniture projects in 2017. The two big pieces we did this year were building a front porch bench, and redoing  a small set of shelves for our master bathroom:

Our biggest renovation of the year was the kitchen. In this room we replaced the flooring with our engineered hardwood, sanded, primed, and painted all of our cabinets and installed one more new cabinet on the far wall, added new cabinet hardware, got granite countertops and a new sink and faucet installed, tiled/grouted/applied sealant to the backsplash, got all new appliances and mounted the microwave over the stove, created open shelving on 2 walls, and painted the walls.

In this room the final projects for this spring are installing cabinet crown molding at the tops of the cabinets, finding and installing new light fixtures, and building our island, which will have matching granite.

We also bought a new HVAC system (gas package with AC and furnace) and just updated our laundry room with a new washer and dryer last month, but these don’t make for fun pictures, just not-so-fun expenses. But they are upgrades nonetheless.

So what’s on the list for 2017? First we want to finish up the final tasks downstairs: cabinet crown molding in the kitchen, ceiling crown molding in the entryway, living room, dining room, and possibly powder room, building a functional kitchen island, getting a stupid banister installed on our stairs (still hasn’t been done!), and adding new light fixtures for the kitchen and dining room. I also want to get my gardens going in March, and finish creating a bordered backyard flower garden out of the extra jungle gym wood. We also are ordering new blinds for almost all the windows on the house that will be the thicker wood-look blinds, so we’ll have to install those when they come in. We also need to have the house washed and gutters cleaned (which we’ll hire out for lack of good ladders) as well as have the lawn aerated before we seed it.

The big project of 2017 will take place in the summer months when Nik doesn’t have a 2 hour commute twice a week for his teaching responsibility at UNC Pembroke: our master bath renovation. For this, we’re planning to tile the floor, refinish and raise up our vanity and add undermount sinks with a nicer (possibly granite) countertop, paint the walls, rip out the old shower, replace the shower pan and tile the walls, add a new glass shower door, and add new faucet hardware for the sinks, shower, and tub. After vaguely tallying up what we’ve spent on this house so far, we’re around the $15K mark, so we’re going to attempt to keep the budget pretty tight for the bathroom – ideally in the $2000 range. Cheers to 2017!