Browsing Category: home improvement

Restoring the Entryway to its Former Glory


Today I’m excited to share the full top-to-bottom makeover of our entry way. This is a project that took about 5 months to complete and then sat in draft mode for at least another month while I tried to figure out how to distill 5 months of somewhat tedious work into a not-totally-tedious but still informative post for you guys. This is my attempt.

Let’s start off with a look back at the entry way when we moved in. It was beige.






You get the picture. As I’ve said before, the theme of our renovation is to try to make things look closer to how they looked originally. We aren’t aiming for “historical society” type precision, but where there are original elements that can be salvaged or exposed, we’d like to give it a shot.

So while the entry way was totally functional, I did want to get rid of the builder-grade tile and the carpet on the stairs. Especially because the original wood flooring was under both! I also wanted to create a space that made an impact. Naturally you want someone to walk into your house and say “WOW!”. Beige is the opposite of “WOW” in most cases. In fact, that’s why a lot of people choose beige–to blend in and be unassuming. I say, why not¬†assume. ūüėČ

Here’s what the project entailed:

  • Remove carpet and refinish stairs.
  • Paint the stair risers.
  • Remove tile and refinish floors.
  • Scrape the popcorn ceiling.
  • Paint the walls.
  • New baseboards and window trim.

As anyone who has remodeled or watched more than 30 minutes of HGTV knows, every remodel comes with a snag. Sometimes it makes you want to roll your eyes at home improvement TV shows because “the snag” is a set piece and some shows are better than others at making it seem organic and legit as opposed to “produced” and predictable. At the same time, I can’t roll my eyes too hard because the truth is that there is always a snag.


The problem with this is a couple of things: 1) You basically have to have boards from somewhere else in the house in order for it to blend seamlessly, and 2) There is no subfloor under the original wood, which means you either have to have a board long enough to span the joists OR you have to build supports between the joists that you can nail shorter boards to.

This is where I hope I’m not going to absolutely put you to sleep. What we ended up doing, in short, was that Justin took a span of boards from upstairs (where we were going to paint anyway) and patched them in in a natural pattern where the random boards had been. This is what took a while, because chiseling out floor boards by hand is pretty laborious work. You can also clearly see the “no subfloors” thing in the picture below from the fact that in one spot you can see directly in to the basement.


Justin did a really tremendous job with the floors. You can see the patch below because the boards from upstairs were not quite as dirty but now that the floors are refinished, you really cannot tell unless you know exactly what to look for. While Justin was working on the floor I took care of the stairs, which involved a heck of a lot of pulling tiny staples from various carpet applications (one of which popped me right in the vein and sent blood squirting) and then patching those 10,000 tiny staple holes. I also primed and repainted the spindles, which had been done in a high-gloss paint. High-gloss paint is extremely durable, but man is it a pain to paint over.

Entryway Cleanup

The stair treads were pretty worn, but its amazing what a little sanding and a medium tone stain can take care of. Here’s how it all turned out.






What do you think–does it have the “WOW” factor now?

I was looking for a place to do a dark paint color and I think it’s absolutely perfect here. The windows in there stairwell are both west-facing, so this space is dark for most of the day, and it feels very dramatic. Then, when the late-afternoon light comes pouring in, it’s equally dramatic, but in a different way. I considered doing the green on the lower half of the wall up the stairs, and while I think that could have looked cool, the contrast between the dark entry and the bright stairway is everything to me. I call it the Stairway to Heaven because it is SO bright in the afternoons and because I am cheesy like that.

All in all, this makeover was way more about putting the time in than spending money. I didn’t keep tabs on the costs because they were spread out over a long period and there just weren’t many of them. The main cost was renting the sander to refinish the floors. Aside from that, baseboards/trim and paint were the only real expenses. I’d estimate we spent around $200 all told. It would have been more costly for sure if we’d had to hire out the floor repair, but thankfully I have an intrepid husband, and he has access to the This Old House YouTube channel. That made all the difference.

I hadn’t seen¬†the before photos in quite a while before putting together this post, but looking at them now was definitely a nice reminder of how far we came!

EntryWay BA

New Year, New Room Refresh – Week 1

It’s week one of the New Year, New Room challenge, and I’m excited to be whipping our guest room into shape over the next month along with these¬†lovely ladies!

I think we all at some point have that room in the house where things just aren’t really working, and for whatever reason you just can’t get things to a place where you’re satisfied with them. That’s been the guest room for me basically since we moved in. It didn’t seem like it needed a lot and so I didn’t give it a lot of attention. There was a point in the spring where I had it in order for a short time. You can catch up on that here: 1)¬†Inspiration for a Bold Blue Bedroom¬†2)¬†Trial and Errors in the Guest Bedroom¬†3)¬†Guest Room Update: Paint Reveal

Then a couple of things happened. First, I fell out of the love with the “all pattern all the time” thing I had going on in there. Secondly, we finished the master bedroom and started living upstairs, whereas we’d been using the guest bedroom for our own room for 10 months. With us went a bunch of our stuff, and with the room already looking kind of empty I found myself shopping the room regularly for stuff to use elsewhere in the house.

All of that leads us to the sad state in which you find the guest room today.


As you can see, I clearly made no attempt to make this look nicer for you or for the benefit of the picture, but neither did I intentionally make it look worse. This is simply how I’ve been living–with a table lamp on the floor for no real reason and a bed adorned with pillows that have no covers.

On the upside, Jellybeans is digging it. A few days ago I couldn’t find her in any of her normal spots and eventually tracked her down right where she is in this picture. Just a dog chilling out on a wool next to one of the hottest vents in the house. The door was closed and she was effectively trapped, but why would she ever want to leave?

Onto my plans for the room. My main goal is to keep it light and bring a greater sense of calm than I had in the previous design scheme. This means using a more limited palette with fewer high energy colors (like red and bright yellow) as well as fewer patterns.

I haven’t worked out all the details yet, but here is my main inspiration, and I am using a few of these elements in the room.

Guest Bedroom inspo2

  1. Double gourd lamp – I’m loving this lamp from the Lamps Plus exclusive lighting collection Color Plus. And ps, if you like browsing paint swatches, you will be in love with the Color Plus collection, too–all the lamps are available in 190 colors based on Sherwin Williams and Pantone and paint¬†shades. I picked West Highland White, which seems a little boring on my part, maybe, but I’m thinking¬†the curvy profile and light color do well to¬†break up the large wall the bed is on.
  2. Vintage desk – I’ve had this yellow desk for a couple years (it’s pictured here in my last house), and I’m planning on bringing it in to do double-duty as a side table and hopefully make the room a little bit more functional day-to-day.
  3. Emerald throw – I fell in love with this Rose Uniacke-designed room in the Copy Cat Chic Instagram feed¬†and was able to get a green throw like the one pictured on clearance a Pottery Barn. You guys know how I love green. And clearance. I’m planning to use white bedding as well.
  4. Land of Infinity art print – I have wanted this photograph by Debra Butler for Minted for ages and ages, and I don’t want to pick favorites, but this *might* be the thing I’m most excited about for this room. My husband grew up in the middle of nowhere with cattle in his backyard, and even though it was not in the West, and he claims that has nothing to do with why he likes this picture, it has a lot to do with why I like this picture.

I’m also hoping to do some other improvements to the room, like replacing the baseboards and maybe painting the upper half of the wall white (above where that random piece of painter’s tape is in the before picture. But realistically I’m filing those in the “maybe” category, since we are still working pretty intently on the hallway right now.

That’s all for me this week, so please check out the other participants! I’m personally super excited to see what everyone has planned.

New Year, New Room Refresh Challenge Participants:

Many, many thanks to our New Year, New Room Refresh Challenge sponsors.


New Year’s Updates and Announcements

Hello and Happy New Year to all! I don’t know if it makes sense anymore to say I’ve been taking a blog break¬†when I am breaking about as often as not, but in any case, it’s been a while. I hope everyone had a healthy, happy, and safe holiday season, that you shopped in your pajamas, that you ate the requisite amount (or more!) of pumpkin and peppermint things, and that you’re jazzed and ready to go for 2016.

I’m not sure whether I’m ready for it or not. I turned 30 in 2015, and I realized recently that I only ever really thought as far as the year when I turn 30. So 2016 feels like uncharted territory. It’s a new decade, and I’m excited and nervous to see what it brings.

So what have we been up to lately? Personally, I have been eating a lot of candy. And I’m not just saying that to make you feel better about what you’ve been eating. I feel like I need to confess it to someone. For someone over the age of about 12, it’s been a really astounding amount. But as far as the house goes (which seems a little more relevant to this particular venue), we have been working several labor-intensive and frankly not very exciting projects.

Like fixing this big patched area in our upstairs hallway.


And starting work on our front entryway, tearing out the tile and beginning to refinish the stairs.


I’m so excited for the green paint in the entryway. I’ve gone with more neutral paint in most of the house, and this little bit of drama feels exactly like what I’ve needed.

I’ve also been scraping popcorn wherever I can, which you can see on the hall ceiling above. Do I love the scraping? NO. I do not. The mess is crazy, and it makes me crazy. But the more I do it the more I realize that I gotta scrape it all. It makes that big of a difference.

So now that I’ve filled you in on what’s been going on around here (scraping, patching, tile demo, painting, candy eating) and justifying the break to myself if not to you, I want to mention a couple of things that are coming up on the blog horizon.

First of all, staring NEXT WEEK, I’m participating in an exciting New Year’s room refresh with a few other awesome bloggers.


Clearly I need to get motivated in the new year, and I’m really glad to have these ladies to get me moving in a meaningful direction. It’s the perfect time to do a little somethin’ somethin’ to cheer up a neglected space. Not all-out crazy time like I tend to do during these room makeovers (hello One Room Challenge) but something smaller-scale and more doable.

Finally–and this is the big one–though Jellybeans will remain my muse forever and always, I will be retiring White Dog Vintage and migrating to a new blog at the end of this month. I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but have hesitated to put a plan in action. Part of this been uncertainty about what I wanted to the new blog to look and feel like, but another big part of it has honestly been fear of losing all you lovely people¬†who read here but–who knows?–may not make the leap with me to a new site. I’m staying with WordPress, so if you follow through WordPress or an RSS feed, you will automatically be following¬†the new site when it switches over, but if follow through Bloglovin’, Feedly, Pocket, or another platform, you will probably have to add the new site¬†with the new address, (don’t bother checking it out just yet–there’s nothing there at the moment), and I hope you will.

I’ll be posting more about the move before it takes place, so you will have other reminders. But just to give a sneak-peek, here’s a look at the in-progress interface of the new site.



Nothing is set with it yet, and it doesn’t look super realistic because there isn’t any content in it, but I think I hope this gives you some idea of the direction the site will be heading. It’s a little more sophisticated and professional than the site I’ve been using, which I hope will get me feeling enthused to post here more often. Hey, it could happen! I read that people who love their blog design actually do publish more frequently. It could be true, or it could be a ploy to sell WordPress templates. In either case, I was clearly buying.

So that’s the update! Don’t forget to come back next week for the beginning of our room refresh challenge, and stay tuned for more new blog news.

Master Makeover – ORC Week 4

orc wk 4

Welcome back to Week 4 of the One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda at Calling it Home. If you need to catch up on our makeover, check out Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3.

As for Week 4–well, in short, everything seemed to go wrong last week. By everything, I mean our hardwood floors. We were planning to refinish and re-stain the floors, which I repeatedly said were in good shape. I don’t know if I jinxed myself or was just being overly optimistic, but we found out the very hard and dirty way this week that the floors were not, in fact, in good enough shape.

Here’s how it happened. Friday night, we rented a sander to start refinishing the floors. We sanded all Friday night and most of the day on Saturday. From the beginning, there were signs that the floors weren’t going to turn out quite as planned. For one, the discolored areas where the old walls used to be were not sanding out. Also, the floors had been quite dirty, and when they started to clear, it was evident that the wood was much more blotchy, and in some areas, stained than we had realized. After about 3 hours, I was concerned. After about 6-8 hours, I was doubtful. We should have known then that it just wasn’t going to happen. But we wanted to restore these floors so badly that we forged on. It took over 12 hours to sand, condition, and stain the floors. We wrapped that up Saturday night. On Sunday morning, when I opened the bedroom door and saw the floors “finished” (minus poly) for the first time, I was crushed. Here’s a look at one corner.


I have to admit I had myself a couple pretty good cries on Sunday.

Then I had to remind myself, there’s no crying in the One Room Challenge. You have to¬†keep going. I knew by this point that the only alternative was to paint. At first I thought white would be the way to go, but after putting down primer and getting a sense of how it would look, it felt like one of those dressing room moments when you look in the mirror and say, “It’s pretty, but it’s just not me.” So the floors will be black. High gloss black, because 1) I know from our green floors that polyurethane makes painted floors much easier to clean, 2) since we are going so dark with the color, we need a reflective quality to give back some of that light, and 3) drama.

Here are a few of the rooms that inspired the black paint choice.

Hus & Hem¬†via Desire to Inspire¬†(GO look at this tour–it’s gorgeous!)

via Old Brand New

via Milk Magazine

via Paige Morse Creative

The black is super chic, right? It can look stark¬†(the pics of the room right now are still a little scary–hopefully I can share some sneek peeks next week), but with a lot of texture and natural elements, it feels cozy and inviting. With our large, colorful rug, plenty of other textiles, warm wood furniture, and a few plants, I think it will suit the room well. Had I known from the start the floors would be black, I might have gone with a straight-up white on the walls, but as it is, we are using a very light, warm gray (SW Icy Avalanche), and it looks good, too.

Possibly the worst news is that the failed stain job set us back about 5 days. Not only did we waste a bunch of time with the marathon sanding, but because we put down oil-based stain, we had to wait 2-3 days, then put down a oil-based primer before we could apply the floor paint. We will polyurethane the floors tonight, then we’ll have to wait a week before furniture can be moved in. It’s going to be down to the wire for us for sure.

Anyway, if you’re still reading this tale of woe, thanks for sticking it out. The design plan is going to stay the same generally, but in a way I feel the vibe of the room is going to be different than I had originally imagined. The wallpaper that everyone generously weighed in on last week (thank you for that!) is pretty much ruled out. I definitely think it would be over the top with the bright rug and dramatic floors.

Hoping to have happy news for next week’s (final–eeeeek!) progress post.

Now head on over to Calling it Home and check out the other participants’ progress. We’re getting close to the end, and I can’t wait to see how all these fab projects are getting on!

Master Makeover – ORC Week 3


In the ”¬†worse before it gets better” trajectory of a renovation, we have¬†so far been stuck in the¬†“worse” phase of our master bedroom. If you missed weeks one and two, you can see the project introduction and before pictures here and the first week progress and mood board here. To briefly recap, we are doing a floor-to-ceiling reno of our master bedroom that has so far included scraping the ceilings, tearing out the carpet, and laying and patching some of the original flooring (more on that in a bit). Justin has said to me a few times ¬†that “this is as bad as it will get,” and he may finally be right. After discovering plywood in both closets and several sunken or split boards in the floor, the¬†patching is done, and the makeshift carpenter’s shop that popped up will soon exit the bedroom. We plan to sand and refinish the floors this weekend, and after that, things should start to get cleaner and more orderly. Fast! That’s the hope anyway.

Here are a couple of mess/progress shots from this week.


floor before

floor after

Very glamorous over here this week, you guys.

I also promised to breakdown the mood board for you in this post–which I will–but it took only since last week for the plan¬†to change, or at least for a few question marks to crop up.

Here’s what I started out with:


  1. Pattern People for Hygge & West Forest Floor wallpaper¬†– Early in the project I was really committed to putting wallpaper on the wall behind the bed, basically to emphasize the focal point and give some added visual interest since we aren’t using curtains. As the room is getting painted, though, I’m less and less sure about the wallpaper. I still absolutely love the design, but the plain wall looks so serene (remember it from last week?). My taste usually tends to land¬†on the side of MORE¬†but I’m wondering if that’s the right call here. It’s a dense pattern with lots of movement and really packs a punch, but I’m not sure whether I want this room to punch in that particular way. I figure I can always order it later if the room starts to feel lacking, but I know Justin would politely but firmly pretend to not hear me if I ask to take it down in 6 months.¬†What’s your feeling? Wallpaper or no?
  2. Photograph of Positano – Lots of wall space for art in this room, and photos of the Italian coast have really been speaking to me as a (half) Italian girl. We also thrifted a large vintage poster over the weekend, so if I can sneak “build custom frame” onto Justin’s to-do list, it could also be an option.
  3. Glass lamp with cork shade – We’ve had these lamps and shades from Target (the smaller version of the ones linked) for a few years, and the cork works well with the “natural elements” aspect of my design plan.
  4. Broyhill Brasilia nightstands – These are our existing nightstands, and they’re so fabulous I would never really think of replacing them. We also have a mid-century dresser set that will be going in the room (you can see it in our old bedroom here).
  5. CB2 Alchemy Bed¬†– Pulling a little bait-and-switch on you with this one. This gorgeous bed is actually not the one we’re using. Instead, we got¬†the trusty Ikea Tarva¬†bed, which I’ll be painting black (matte or gloss TBD, but opinions welcome). BUT, I needed a black bed for the mood board. The Tarva’s original natural wood just did not give the right effect, while this lovely bed is truly the stuff of dreams.
  6. Red Afghan Rug – My lovely¬†red “accident” rug (see week one for more details) has grown on me a lot since it first arrived, and I can’t wait to see how it looks in the room. I bought it on eBay from this seller–just beware the coloring in the photos.
  7. H&M Cotton Pillow¬†– I love these H&M pillow covers. They’re REALLY reasonably priced and nice, too! Ikea sells 20×20 pillow forms for like $6, so I’m going to grab a couple of those and call it a day for only about¬†$30 for both.
  8. H&M Velvet Pillow
  9. CB2 Mint Lumbar Pillow¬†– I’m not at all pleased to tell you that after 10 days of waiting impatiently for this pillow to arrive, I noticed in my order that it is backordered, and CB2 reports it will not be in stock by the end of the ORC. So, I’m going to buy only the pillow form and make the cover myself.

Wallpaper thoughts, PLEASE! I feel you need to be really, really, really sold on wallpapering before you hang anything, so maybe the fact that I’m second guessing it is my answer right there.

Also don’t forget to check out the rest of the linking participants over at Calling it Home!

Living Room Update | 1


Hello again, friends. It’s been a while (again) since I posted, and to tell you the truth I had to scramble to¬†finish this post to get it out on August 31st and avoid having a calendar month that contained zero posts. But as the saying goes,¬†something is better than nothing, and the something that I have for you today is, in fact, pretty good! I left you last time with an update on the dining room, since we had just (at the time) done a switcheroo with our living/dining room spaces. I promised you then an update on the new (at the time) living room space, and I finally have that for you today!

Let’s start from the very top with this space. Here’s what it looked like when we moved in in February.


Next, we have the dining room phase. This was part one of the dining room phase, when we still had our round table.¬†There was a part two of this phase in which we had our current table in this space, but let’s just skip that, mmmkay? The dining room phase in all its parts was clearly a misguided phase.


And finally the current much-improved living room space!

IMG_7228-3 IMG_7232IMG_7238-2IMG_7231IMG_7233         IMG_7240 IMG_7241 IMG_7263

Tons better, right? I realized I never even posted a picture of the living room furniture in the other space, and that’s because it never really worked in that space enough for me to want to show it to you. Even though this space is smaller, it’s much better suited for furniture to be grouped for conversation, and of course it will be nice to use our fireplace in our actual living room during the winter.

One of the reasons we initially didn’t want to use this space for the living room was that we didn’t want the TV over the fireplace. It wasn’t even so much for design reasons that we wanted to avoid this as for a host of other logistical inconveniences, including: uneven mantle, need to potentially drill into brick, lack of ready electrical source, presence of ready heat source in close proximity several months out of the year. The solution we came up with was to house the TV on a bookcase on an adjacent wall.


I like to think this maintains the fireplace as the focal point of the room. The TV is still a little bit of an eyesore, but I hope as I get around to hanging things on the wall it will become less attention-getting. Ps, the TV console is an Ikea Billy bookcase to which we added the nifty Morliden glass doors. I love how much more custom the doors make the piece look. Right now I have them lined with fabric, but I could see doing marble paper, or a cool printed gift wrap or wall paper.

All in all, the living room is in pretty good shape, but there are still a couple projects left from the master list:

  • Refinish floors
  • Paint
  • Replace trim
  • New light fixture

Justin has been working on installing the trim (which I can’t wait to show you), but it’s definitely still going to take some time before it’s all in. We also have to add that list to replace the weights inside the windows that allow them to be raised/lowered. They were removed at some point in time and for who knows what unimaginable reason, but Justin is going to repair them when he removes the window trim. Thank goodness he is so handy because I already broke one storm window all by myself–I’d be living with Saran Wrap over all the windows in no time.

I do plan to be back with more regular updates and content as we move into fall and (say it ain’t so) winter, so hopefully there won’t be any more long periods of radio silence on my end. Hope you’ve all had a lovely summer! I bought a water color set and have been painting as gleefully as (and definitely no more skillfully¬†than) a five year old. What have you been up to lately?

Dining Room Update | 2

Living room Now

Vintage bar setup

Hello again. It’s been a little while since I’ve had anything new for you, though I honestly didn’t realize how long until I looked at the date of my last post. The summer is positively flying by, and I’m mostly just confused whenever I consult a calendar. Can it really be July already? As I have said many, many times here on the blog, I hate winter, so you can imagine that I’m really relishing the long, warm days and plentiful sunlight. I have eaten boxes upon boxes of push-pops and creamsicles and biked through my neighborhood at dusk wearing inappropriate shoes–it’s been quite wonderful. Now if only time would slow down, or summer would last forever, things would be perfect.

Amidst all the summer revelry, we have still managed to get¬†in some projects around the house. We’re trying to get the main floor in a DONE-ish sort of place this summer so that we can start working on the upstairs a bit in the fall. I’m rarely a girl to take one project at a time, but after having a prolonged mess on the first floor from February until very recently, it feels good to say “not now” to some things.

I think that part of the reason I ended up taking a break the last few weeks was that even as we were moving forward with projects on the first floor, things weren’t really¬†clicking. I felt frustrated and uninspired.¬†Thankfully–miraculously even–a couple tweaks to the floor plan was¬†all it took to get back on track.

When our house was on the market, the previous owner had flipped the floor plan and was using the living room as the dining room (and vice versa) as shown in the MLS photo below. At the time it seemed to work really well.


Beyond seeing the furniture arranged this way, we’d also just¬†we bought a massive couch (more about that here¬†and here) that fit exactly into the window nook, so it seemed logical that we would use the flipped floor plan, too.

At first was okay, but as time went on, I liked the living room¬†in this space¬†less and less. Directly in front of the couch was the walkway to the kitchen, so traffic was constantly passing right through the middle of the room, and it was hard to arrange the furniture well for conversation. At the same time, the dining room space wasn’t working either. The table blocked the fireplace, and with a full set of 6 chairs, the room felt small and strange.

For all these reasons–and also for the sake of curiosity–I wanted to try switching around the living room/dining room furniture and testing it out with the intended floor plan. As soon as we moved the furniture, both spaces¬†immediately made a lot more sense. The small dining room was cozy and inviting when arranged as the living room; the living room could be divided into a dining space and a display space with a natural walkway that didn’t disrupt the rest of the room. It just WORKED.

If you follow me on Instagram, you might have caught a sneak peak of how things are looking in the new living room at the moment.

Blue living room decor ideas

I’ll be sharing more of that space next, but for now I want to look at what’s up in the new dining room. If you missed (or just plain forgot about) previous dining room posts, you can see them here:

IMG_5710-2Eclectic vintage living roomBissman dining table Ikea kallax shelving. Bookcase styling. Ikea kallax for record storage.

There’s still a lot to do in this room (like finish baseboards and window trim) and with the decor. We are searching for a bigger rug the chairs can sit on more comfortably, and once we’ve found that, I’m going to reupholster the dining chairs and paint the bench. The bench actually came in from our deck, so I’m not sure what we might do with it in the future. I’d like to possibly change out the legs at some point, but for now, it’s really sturdy takes up a lot less visual space than chairs, so I think it’s a step¬†in the right direction.

How has your summer been so far?

Kitchen Update | ORC Reveal!

kitchen medley2

Hi everyone! I’m really excited to finally get to show you the kitchen makeover we’ve finished over the last six weeks as part of the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda of Calling it Home. I’m going to get to the pictures stat, but first, you can find updates from the last five weeks here:¬†Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5.

Now, without further ado…

IMG_5847 IMG_5848IMG_5851

White cabinets + green painted floorsGreen floors and white subway tile in bright kitchen

White cabinets with white subway tile.

Open cabinetry in small kitchenGlass front cabinets. Displaying dishes in open cabinets.Plants as decor in the kitchenSmall bright kitchen; all white kitchenStyling in the kitchenIMG_6481IMG_6464 Bohemian modern decor with rattan and plants

Finishing this project in five weeks was definitely a challenge, but seeing the room come together has been incredibly satisfying. Those of you who have followed this blog for a while¬†know that we just moved into this house three months ago, and since then we’ve spent a lot of time making and living in messes. In the few days since we wrapped up the project, we’ve SO enjoyed spending time in a complete, clean, and beautiful space that really feels like us. I love everything, but the green floors are obviously the¬†pi√®ce de r√©sistance. They’ve got to be one of the best decisions I’ve made, maybe ever.

From the beginning, I’ve really emphasized that we were doing this makeover on a budget, with the goal of staying under $400. Even though we doubled the amount of tile we installed, I’m happy to say we made it! Here’s how it all broke down.

  • Wall paint – Leftover from living room
  • Cabinet paint – $21
  • Floor paint – $35
  • Polyurethane – $50
  • Spray primer for brick – $4
  • Cabinet hardware – $5 ($85 paid – $80 made from selling our old hardware)
  • Plexiglass for cabinet doors – $21
  • Silicone for installing plexiglass – $4
  • Trim for installing plexiglass – $20
  • Subway tile – $80
  • Tile saw – $50 (split purchase with friend)
  • Tile grout – Had from previous project
  • Tile adhesive – Had from previous project
  • Over-the-sink light – $15
  • Flush mount LED lights for sunroom – $60
  • White outlet receptacles and switch plates – $15
  • Microwave – $-40 (Yes, we made money on the microwave by selling our¬†over-the-range model and buying a less expensive countertop model.)

Which comes to a grand total of $340!! Obviously I feel awesome about the investment we made in this space and the bang we got for our buck.

It’s pretty obvious, too, that this project would never have gotten off the ground without Justin’s tireless, unflagging help and support. You cannot even imagine how much I have talked out loud, hogged the computer, decided things, undecided things, bought stuff, returned stuff, left paint brushes in the sink, left power tools in the rain (they still worked though), and NOT¬†cooked suitable food over the last five weeks (while constantly adding more tasks to the project). So thanks very much to my lovely, saintly husband.

And thanks to everyone who encouraged me here! This was my first time participating in the One Room Challenge, and I had a blast! I’ve already decided on the room I’ll be making over for the fall edition of the challenge, so now I have an excuse to procrastinate on it for the next 5¬†months. ūüôā

Now get on over to Calling it Home and check out lots more amazing reveals. If you haven’t checked out any of the other projects before, today¬†is definitely the day!

Kitchen Update | One Room Challenge Week 5


All of a sudden it’s Week 5 of the One Room Challenge hosted by Linda at Calling it Home. When we started this project, Justin wished farewell to April, and I have to admit, it’s flown.

Thanks to everyone who commented and sent good vibes during our time of need last week–you propelled us over the hump, and we got SO MUCH done. I’m really excited to show you everything in the big reveal. Can Week 6 GET HERE ALREADY?!!

(PS – If you missed any of the other updates, see them here: Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 )

Here’s some of what we accomplished last week:

New sun room lighting.

Affordable flush mount LED lighting

Our original plan called for recessed lighting to replace our tragic ceiling fans, but in the spirit of less cost, less mess, and less chance of disrupting potential asbestos (we have untested popcorn up there), we ended up going with a very low profile flush mount LED light. These puppies were only $30 a piece at Home Depot, and they look about 80% like can lights anyway. The ceilings in the sun room are kind of low, so I just wanted something to blend in, and these fit the bill. They’re really bright, too. Definitely a good substitute.

Plexi-glass cabinet inserts.

Installing glass front cabinets with plexi glass

Our two remaining cabinet doors (the ones that go on either side of the sink) got plexi-glass inserts installed. There are lots of good tutorials out there, but I used the one here at Confessions of a Serial DIYer. The plexi-glass was kind of tough to cut, but all in all the project wasn’t too bad, and the cost for two fairly large doors was only about $35.

Completed back splash installation.

Sheets of small subway tile

Justin took off work last Friday and spent almost the whole day finishing the back splash tile. I think I wrote before that these subway tile can be cut with nippers, and that is technically true, but I’m told it is also very laborious and annoying to do it this way. In the end, Justin ended up buying a small tile saw with a friend. It was $50 to rent the saw for 8 hours at Home Depot and only $100 to buy it, so the two of them split the cost and now have it forever for about the same amount. Pretty savvy.

Completed FLOORS!

Painting hardwood floors; green floors

We finished the floors, and yes–they look amazing. After lots of reading, I determined that priming your floors before painting is really only necessary if you are dealing with raw wood. So after sanding and cleaning thoroughly (for me this meant vaccuming obsessively with a shop vac), we put down two coats of floor paint and two coats of polyurethane. I ended up opting to use poly for three reasons–added shine, greater durability, and ease of cleaning. After seeing/feeling the difference from adding the polyurethane, I definitely think it was the right move. The pic above was taken before the poly. Even with a satin finish, the floors looked quite matte.

**An important note to anyone who might be interested in painting your floors: You MUST use a water-based poly if you’re using a latex floor paint. I didn’t see this information in any of the articles I read, but luckily the helpful dude at Sherwin Williams clued me in me. Apparently you can use latex-based paint over oil-based, but not the other way around.**

The one thing left on the project to-do list is to grout and seal the tile. Other than that, all we really have to do is move the furniture back and get the place styled up. I’m planning to move the desk that was originally next to the cabinets to the other side of the sun room and bring in a pair of these excellent vintage rattan chairs I picked up recently.
Vintage rattan chair; Albini style chair

With all the physical labor needed in the kitchen, I haven’t totally worked out all my styling choices, but I’m looking forward wrapping up the next week with some fun stuff.

Now get on over to Calling it Home and check out the other participants! And don’t forget to check back next week for all the exciting reveals!

Kitchen Update | One Room Challenge Week 4


Week 4 is kind of the hump week of One Room Challenge, and I can definitely say I started feeling some¬†project fatigue last week. I notice myself getting¬†tired of certain project tasks (NO MORE cabinet painting please) and nervous about others (will the recessed lighting fit in our current receptacles?). I’ve also started getting restless to go places that are not my kitchen and see people who are not inside my kitchen. I’m promising myself I’ll get out more when this whole thing is over–but with only two weeks to go, we still have a lot to do.

The tiling that I projected to be finished in week 2 is still ongoing, but we also effectively doubled+ the amount of area we’re going to tile. One exciting decision we made this week was to ditch our over-the-range microwave.IMG_6116-2-2IMG_6341

As soon as it came down, my first thought was, “I never want to put it back up.” So we’re not going to. We listed it on Craigslist, and Instead, we’re going to get a smaller microwave and store it inside a cabinet, probably directly above where the old microwave was. This probably wouldn’t work for everyone, and it will mean I have to use a small step stool or ladder to access the microwave, but I already need that to get to about half my cabinetry anyway, and it’s worth it to me to have the extra head room when cooking. The space feels a LOT bigger.

My mother-in-law also sold me hard on tiling the back splash behind the cabinets in the sun room.IMG_6101fotor

Initially I was on the fence because I thought the sunroom felt like a separate space, but it also had wallpaper up before, which marked it off from the kitchen. Now that both rooms are the same color, it makes more sense to emphasize their continuity. Plus, one is unwise to ignore the wisdom of mothers-in-law. ūüôā

Beyond EVEN MORE painting and tiling, this was a week of research. I picked up a can of Sherwin Williams Porch and Floor enamel for the kitchen floors, so now I’m trying to pin down exactly what this paint job is going to entail.

Sherwin Williams Green Kale

At most, there are 5 steps to the process:

  1. Scuff sand
  2. Clean
  3. Prime
  4. Paint
  5. Poly

Everybody is in agreement about the necessity of steps 1,2, and 4. Luckily, we had the forethought to scuff sand the kitchen when we refinished the floors, so at least we saved ourselves some pain/mess there. There is some debate about the necessity of primer and polyurethane, though. Some wisdom (like that on the back of the paint can) says sanding and cleaning the floors is enough prep and the floor enamel itself is plenty durable without additional poly on top. The guy who helped at Sherwin Williams actually told me that poly would be “overkill.” I’m skeptical, though. I prefer to err on the side of overkill. There’s been a lot of interest in the floor project, so I’ll be sure to keep you updated with what steps we decide to use.

As a reminder, here’s what tasks we have left:

  • Put glass or plexiglass inserts into to the upper cabinet doors around¬†the windows (almost done)
  • Finish installing a subway tile backsplash (both closer to and farther from done)
  • Paint the floors
  • Scrape the ceilings (this has been removed from the scope of the project for a number of reasons, though we’ll¬†probably still do it eventually)
  • Replace the sunroom ceiling fan with recessed lighting.

If anyone out there has had success in floor painting–please give me tips! Also please send us luck and energy this week! Hoping to show you some big progress next time around.

For now I’m going to see what the other linking participants are up to! Check out almost 150 other awesome projects here!