Tag Archives: house

Our Yard

For this post, I’ll introduce you to our new yard. Nik and I love gardening, and a yard that had some nice trees but also some good sun was important to us. Admittedly, the yard at our new house was not one of the best selling features, but I think it’ll work for us to build a garden that is hopefully pretty and fruitful eventually. With all the work we’ve done cutting back overgrown trees, I also think we’ve gained a fair bit of area which is always good.

I’ll start off with the front yard, which is grassy with two large crepe myrtle bushes on either side of the house. These bushes were way overgrown, so trimming them into an actual tree shape was one of the big tasks out front. Our parents made huge progress on the left bush, here’s the dramatic before and after:

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Then the right bush had some actual trees growing up out of the middle of it, so we invited our friends Lindsey and Dave over with their handy chainsaw and we did a number on this bush as well:

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And here’s the after picture of that bush:


Next, my dad used his edger to trim back the awful crabgrass encroaching on our sidewalk, curb, and driveway. Here’s a before picture and my dad in action:

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And here’s some after pictures…I think we gained a few inches on every edge!

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In our backyard, the woods were also encroaching and there were tons of big vines hanging down. My parents and Nik’s mom and I worked for hours back there, and these pictures don’t do our work justice because we took down A LOT of brush. You can see the huge brush piles we’ve made, and what a difference it made – we can actually see our woods now and they’re very pretty from the back deck.

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Our playset is still up, and eventually it’ll be taken down. We’re brainstorming some creative projects we can do to use the weathered wood. But Nik had to play in it first, of course.


Unfortunately, disturbing the trees in the back has unearthed some monsters that need to be dealt with, but also some cute tree frogs:

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Our front shrubs were in need of a trim, which I tackled with a donated hedge trimmer from my parents

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And our grass grows crazy fast – this is only one week after mowing, which I do every weekend:

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We did some upgrades to our deck, some of which I have pictures of. Nik’s dad put our new grill together, and powerwashed the deck – you can literally see the line of dirt that has come off, and it’s looking pretty good now. Nik and his dad also attached a new top railing since the old one was pretty splintery. Unfortunately I didn’t take a picture of that so you’ll have to imagine it.

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Whew. So much work has been done outside, and it’s looking great! We still need to figure out where to put those huge brush piles, but we just signed up for yard waste bins and they’ll do a big haul away once a year so we’re hoping that’ll take care of most of it.

As for the inside, our floors are coming along decently. We ran into a bit of an issue this last week, which I’ll write about when I do my floor post. The opened-up wall is also coming along great – one more dose of drywall mud and some wet sanding and it should be ready for primer and paint. Here’s measuring to make cuts and putting them in:

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And here’s the (mostly) installed drywall:

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And here’s Nik doing the mudding:

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Now we’re down to the wire. We’re moving in on Monday (5 days!!!) and our to do list is not exactly short. I painted the master bedroom last night, so that might be the last of the painting before we move even though there’s still 2 unfinished bedrooms. The floors are the major thing to get done, but we have an uneven area that needs to be dealt with before we can lay the last 6 or so feet of rows. That’ll be the big task this weekend, that and, oh, just packing up our entire apartment. I always judge TV home improvement shows for always rushing their projects, and I’d rather take my time and do it right, but here we are scrambling to get finished so we can move in!

So next post will be the floors (that will hopefully be finished and even by the end of this weekend!). And then I’d like to nap for a week after we move!

Demolition and Painting!

Initially, our priorities for projects before moving (which will happen in about 2 and a half weeks!!) were painting and new floors. We bought all our paint, got our floors ordered, and obtained a bunch of extra stuff that would be needed for projects from Lowes:


Then Nik’s curiosity got the better of him and he HAD to find out what was inside this little shelf that sits right in our front door entryway, butted up against the stairwell wall:

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Was it empty space? Were there pipes under it? He used the dremel tool to cut a small hole in the top so we could peer in, figuring we could just patch it if something important was under there.

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But it was empty (this pic is inside the hole)!

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Thus began the whole “When you give a mouse a cookie, he asks for milk…” process. Now that we knew it was useless space, and we had dreamed about opening up the stairwell wall behind it, a simple trip over to the house to begin painting resulted in a wall being ripped down to the studs:

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We didn’t just do this project unadvised, we did get an engineer consultation in which he explained how to safely construct a load bearing header since this is a support wall, even though we were just opening up a few feet. Nik and I graduated last week with our Ph.D.s (finally living up to our blog name, which is spelled rePHurbisheD for a reason =)  ), so both of our parents were in town ready to help on the house. Nik finished ripping out the frame for the shelf, and Nik and his dad, Mike, spent most of Saturday building the temporary support to hold up the ceiling while the studs were removed.

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They also built the header beam out of 2 2×8’s.

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Then most of Sunday they worked on installing the header and support column. My dad, Greg, also chipped in for the header installation, but for the most part just offered sage advice from his lawn chair stationed in the living room sipping a beer. They finally got it in and it looks great!

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My mom and dad worked on many other projects around the house that I’ll write about once we get to the yard post (hint: we gained about 15 feet of usable yard after all the work they did on some unruly shrubbery!). On Monday and Tuesday, Nik and his dad worked on building a stud frame for the new drywall that will be hung:

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I can’t believe how much more open the space feels – before it was crowded, especially with that space-consuming built in shelf, and now you can see through to the dining room from all parts of the living room. It looks amazing! And it will look even better once we figure out how we want to design our small section of stairs, and how to decorate the column at the end of the stairs. But that will be for a later post!


So you’ve probably gotten a glimpse at the colors we chose for downstairs walls. The living room is a light gray-blue color called Rising Tide and we’re thinking this color will extend up the stairs and be used in the upstairs hallway eventually.

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For the dining room we selected a dark blue-green color called Prussian Cadet. The bottom half of the dining room will be painted in our white trim color (Ultra White), and we’ll be adding a chair rail and decorative wainscoting panels (design to be decided). The kitchen will be a later project for this house, so we haven’t selected a color for in there yet.

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We also repainted ALL the ceilings in both floors of this house (except for the upstairs hallway since parts of that are unreachable, and we might need to hire help to get to all parts of that). What a difference a fresh coat of white ceiling paint looks…I thought we’d have trouble seeing where we’d painted, but it was always very obvious! We went through 5 gallons of ceiling paint, and I have to say my back and I are very glad that project is behind us.


As for upstairs, we picked a muted yellow color for our master bedroom, and a second bedroom if we have enough left over. It’s called Lemon Sorbet. And then we picked a blue-lavender color for 2 other bedrooms called Cool Mist or something like that. It’s a little bluer than I had wanted but it works for bedrooms. Besides the ceilings, only 1 bedroom upstairs has gotten paint so far which Nik’s mom Karen worked on tirelessly…so this is still in progress!

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The rest of the weekend Nik’s parents helped with other projects around the house, and we got the carpets ripped up downstairs in preparation for our floors which finally came in.

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The floors are sitting in the living room acclimating to the air as we speak, so once we get all our baseboards painted with a fresh coat we can get started on those. I love the wood, and I can’t wait to walk on the new floors! I’ll write about them in a later post.

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Ok…I’ve written about enough for today! Next time I’ll write about all the yard/garage/deck work that our parents did while they were in town. I don’t think any hired contractor would work as hard as the 4 of them did while they were here!

Meet Our House

We’re finally ready for another post! We closed on our house on August 3, so I think it’s time for a before-renovations house tour. Our first few projects include painting ceilings and walls, ripping out the carpet downstairs and replacing with engineered hardwood, and removing part of the stairwell wall to open up the stairwell to the front entryway. I’ll have posts for each of these as our projects move along!

Here’s some pics of the outside of the house, I’ll do a more detailed post about the yard later.

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For inside, I’ll start off with a rough sketch of the house layout, since everyone likes sketches. The house is about 1700 square feet, a little more upstairs than downstairs since we have a bonus room/4th bedroom over the garage. We liked this house so much because of the circular floor plan, and every room leads to another room.


Here’s some pics of the front door leading into the small foyer. To the right is the living room, and apparently that’s the only before pic I took of that space…you’ll see more what it looks like when I get to the painting post.

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And to the left of the door is the dining room, with 2 windows:

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And here’s the kitchen…pretty old, so I’m excited to see what we can do to update it without breaking the bank. I tried taking some panoramic shots.

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And here’s some more normal pics:

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And we have a small powder room off the hallway between the kitchen and dining room, and across the hall is a closet with washer/dryer.

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So that’s the whole downstairs, here’s the stairs going up. One of our first projects will be to knock down some of the left wall, to open that space up to the front door and make this stairwell seem less claustrophobic.

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This is the upstairs layout, with the 4th bonus room/bedroom off to the left over where the one-car garage is. Then there’s a guest bathroom and 2 small bedrooms (they aren’t as big as they look on this not-to-scale sketch!), and then the master at the end of the hall. These pictures are pretty terrible, it’s hard to really show a plain room on camera!



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Guest bathroom:

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Bonus bedroom:

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First bedroom:

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Second bedroom:

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Master bedroom with ugly curtains:

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Walk in closet:

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Master bath, with Nik washing his hands after messing with the toilet that needs some new parts inside the tank:

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So that’s it! As you can see, this house is about as boring as it gets now, but I think this is one of the things we love about it – it’s a blank slate. When we started painting inside (coming in another post!) we soon realized this house has never had any other color than what I call “landlord off-white.” It makes me happy that we’re the first people to live here who will love this house and make it pretty.

Of course, we had to start our first night off with some champagne. We camped out in the home the night after we closed, and on top of all the excitement of buying our first house, Nik and I also got engaged that evening! Now we’re in it together for the long haul to make this house our home.

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The next few posts will detail our destruction of that stairway wall, then our painting of the downstairs, then maybe a post on the yard which I’ve had the pleasure of mowing twice now (no sarcasm intended, I actually love mowing and it is even more satisfying when it’s your first lawn!), thanks to a donated lawnmower by Nik’s awesome boss.

My first mowing:


Oh, and we also have our engineered hardwood floors ordered that will cover the entire downstairs and here’s the wood we picked with a teaser for some of our painting ideas:


And we bought a new vanity for the downstairs powder room. So many projects! With all this house stuff, it may be a while before we work on any furniture, although we do have a few projects in progress (hint – that wooden structure in the dining room was found in the dumpster for free, and will become our modern dining table!).

I promise we’ll try to post more regularly now so we can keep everyone caught up with all the changes we’re making in the house!