The Grand Reveal: moving day

The house is not 100% complete but our apartment lease ended September 30, so it was time to move, ready or not.  Among the things still to finish:  paint & caulk main floor base & case, finish upstairs casing where we ran out, paint & install interior doors, paint & carpet the stairs, paint the entryway crown, re-install living room crown (where the wall was cut back).  It’s not a terrible amount of work and the house is definitely livable and cozy as is.  My plan going forward is to obviously finish the big things but then switch to a room-by-room approach.  Take one room each weekend and tackle all the little details that make a house a home.  Things like coat hooks, rugs, curtains, decor, etc.  Once that is finished it will probably be time to get started on the backyard … or the basement … haha.  It’s never ending 🙂  And now, a room-by-room look at the changes as they stood on moving day.



Dining Room




Half Bath



Living Room


L’s Room


2nd Bedroom


Kid’s Bath


Master Bedroom


Master Vanity

Basement Stairs


Wow!  I know we’ve been working since June but, man, all these pictures really show just how much work we’ve done.  When I first walked into this house I was not impressed.  The evening after our initial showing I told J: “Every inch needs work *sigh*” and sure enough we have worked on nearly every inch — and those inches we haven’t worked on yet are simply waiting for future time and funds.  This house went from “meh” and “ick” to “Home Sweet Home”.

Going from a 990 sq ft apartment to a 2800 sq ft home is amazing!  There is plenty of room for all our stuff — our materialistic, American, collection of stuff; plenty of room for little L — I don’t have to dodge landmines aka toys just to sit on the couch; plenty of room for friends and family — we don’t have to crowd into a tiny living room.  The one down side of expanding our living space is that we don’t have enough furniture!  We technically have the same number of seats as before but at least people aren’t sitting knee to knee anymore.  And the basement is essentially empty except for storage.  Little L’s playroom is mostly a room of toys without kid-sized furniture (here we come, Ikea!).  The rug that used to fill our entire dining room/nook in the apartment is now a sized-too-small rug for the playroom — it looks so tiny!

I could go on and on about this house.  I haven’t even touched on the exterior work yet.  And I haven’t even started on about the neighborhood or our great neighbors!  This is simply, hands down, a very good move (pun intended). Our future looks bright (not to be too cliche).

P.S. I promise we will host a housewarming once things are a little more settled and the big work is finished 🙂


Twin Peaks wallet tool

The work on the house has not slowed down much! We did make the move last weekend have been without internet so I haven’t been able to keep you all updated.  However, I wanted to take a moment to shout out for a tool that has been invaluable.

The Twin Peaks wallet tool can do so many things! And as we are getting all the little details put together in the house it’s nice to have a small, pocket-sized tool on hand so we don’t have to go searching for a new tool with every little job.

Their Kickstarter only has a little time left so get yours before they’re gone!

Twin Peaks Wallet Tool

Finishing Touches: Base & Case

You know the end is near when it’s time for baseboards and casings.

Design Choices

We removed the upstairs baseboards because it wasn’t our style.  We removed the main floor baseboards because they 1) weren’t our style and 2) weren’t installed very well.  So when looking at replacement trim you would think I would want to be overly involved to pick something that did fit our style.  Well, no.  Beyond the basics I didn’t really want to get myself dragged into a black hole of molding styles.  So I sat down with one catalog and picked out a few good trims.  J and I wanted taller baseboards and primed MDF so that narrowed down the choices quite a bit.  In the end we went with something a bit more on the intricate side but with clean lines.



When making the budget we priced out everything from Home Depot.  We knew we would bargain shop but thought it was a good starting point to establishing a budget.  Well I’ll tell you this!  We budgeted $1.50/foot for casing and $2.00/foot for baseboards.  Well, well, well.  We decided to price-check Burton Lumber and we ended up getting casing for $0.66/foot and baseboards for $0.75/foot.  So yeah, shout out to Burton Lumber!


As previously noted, we were lucky enough to borrow a paint sprayer.  We laid out all the boards in the paint room aka garage.  It took a couple days to get through it all but everything was nicely sprayed and then moved inside to cure.  Moving 16-foot boards can be a little tricky; but they’re bendy so there’s that.


Close up to really appreciate the design


J and his dad spent one long day getting most of the upstairs trim installed.  They ended up running out of casing but there should be enough baseboard — it seems to be time that is in short supply.

The following weekend all the team was over so we got to work on caulking and spackling the gaps and nail holes.  I haven’t ever caulked anything before so I started in a back closet just in case I did a horrible job.  It wasn’t too difficult.  Squirt the caulk out, squish it into the gap with your finger while simultaneously smoothing it out, wipe the excess off so it’s nice and clean.  A few areas had huge gaps requiring a couple passes.  After wiping off the extra spackle it’s time to go around with touch-up paint.  Painting the nail holes and some of the larger joints really makes everything look finished and complete.  It took one whole weekend to get the upstairs done but totally worth the extra effort.  One of the issues with the original main floor baseboards was that no one took the time to caulk or spackle — it makes a difference!

Final Results

Enjoy these gorgeous shots.  The house looks much more home-like with trim and it doesn’t hurt that everyone involved put in the extra effort and love to make it look great.


The upstairs is almost complete!! Carpet coming during the week, finish the baseboards and casing in the bathrooms, and then la fin!

Super Active Sunday

Last Sunday was crazy busy.  We had all hands on deck!  There was the usual: me, J, little L, my mother-in-law S.  Then my sister and her husband came by, S & B.  Then a family friend, R.  So we had a full house and everyone was put to work.  And yes, watching miss L counts as work/helping with the house.  Here’s a quick rundown of some of the bigger, more interesting things accomplished:

1. Mudroom/Laundry area was prepped and painted. The same blue-tinted white as the main entryway, Frost (Behr), since it is also an entryway.


2. Pantry cabinet was painted. This cabinet is not technically in the kitchen but we wanted it to tie into the kitchen rather than the mudroom/laundry area.  We decided to use paint to make that distinction – it is now the same color as the upper kitchen cabinets.


3. Entryway was drywalled.  With the electrical rerouted and tucked away, it was time to put up the drywall.  You can read more about the entryway progress over here.


4. Lower kitchen cabinet doors and drawer fronts were painted.  This was the main task for Sunday, but when everyone decided to make an appearance it became just one of the many tasks. Yay! We were able to borrow a paint sprayer from my MIL’s neighbor.  We set up a little spray booth in the garage and J went at it.  Two coats on the back, flipped over, two coats on the front.  We painted the backs first on purpose so that when they were flipped if they weren’t 100% cured any smudges would be on the back/inside the cabinet where it wouldn’t matter as much.

Getting a sprayer was hands down the best decision we’ve made throughout this whole renovation.  It cut the paint time by a quarter (or more!) and resulted in a smooth, even finish.

The spray booth
Inside the spray booth, half the fronts still drying.


All the fronts, transferred inside to finish drying & curing in a more controlled environment (e.g. fewer bugs and less dirt).

J has been hard at work all this week so the updates will just keep on rolling in!  In the next couple weeks, we should be able to post the first few final before & afters, from start to finish.  I’m excited to see the side-by-side photos once things start coming together!

Entryway Progress

The entryway is still a bit of a work-in-process.  Compared to the upstairs it is still very much in demolition mode.  But here is a bit of what has been accomplished.


We’ve removed all the old carpet from the stairs.  J ripped off the carpet and pulled up the tack strips.  I took a couple hours one morning pulling up all the staples.  It wasn’t too terrible.

The stairs themselves look in good enough condition that some patching and sanding will get them ready for paint.  The pie stairs, for some reason, don’t have bullnosed treads so we will have to get a couple retrofit treads to put there.  The plan – as it stands today and is subject to change – is to paint the risers white, the treads dark brown, then install a nice runner.  No ideas on runner colors or patterns yet.


We had an electrician come by to quote moving the outlets and light switches that were in the old walls.  It was just over $1000!  One outlet literally just needed to rotate from the dining room wall to the new entryway wall – and it was quoted at nearly $200.  So … we said, thanks but no thanks.  We did a little electrical research, called some people familiar with electrical work, and just did it ourselves.  The wider entryway looks way wider now!  It looks great, you can really get a feel for the finished look.



Sunday was a frenzied day with lots of little activities going on all over.  One of those actives was drywall.  J and my brother-in-law, B, started on the new entryway walls.  It’s starting to look a lot more finished with just a little drywall!

Finishing Touches

While some areas of the house still look like it’s demo day, other areas are nearing the finish line.  Upstairs, the bedrooms are almost set!  Carpet is coming to measure on the 13th; hopefully installing the week of the 18th.  The just leaves some finishing touches.  J has been switching out the older, yellowed outlets and switches for new, white.  At first, I was skeptical that it would be worth the effort but I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.

We also installed brand new faux wood blinds in each of the bedrooms.  They’re a small touch but really make it look more like home.

Last but not least, the master got a new ceiling fan that actually works.  The old one attempted to spin but made a god-awful noise which was kind of frightening and definitely not conducive to a good night’s sleep.  After looking at quite a few models we went with a classic look.  Initially we were both drawn to more modern styles but in the end wanted at least 2 lights.  The 3 bulb style we ended up with light up this larger room wonderfully.

The kids’ rooms were suppose to each get one of the new lights below, but they’ve been back-ordered until late October.  Wah-wah.  Moving day is fast approaching so I guess little L will just have to live in the dark for a month or so — or I suppose we could just find her a floor lamp for now.

Progress Lighting

Paint: Main Floor, part 2

I’m getting behind on posting.  I’m sorry!  All of this happened last weekend — it was such a huge transformation it’s a mystery why I forgot to post about it.  But here we go.  Paint colors for the main floor!  If you recall, the swatches were revealed a few weeks ago in Paint Samples.  We ended up not going with Sherwin Williams so we had to pick out paints again at Home Depot but since we already had the colors it was simple to just find a match.  Let our paint transformation, main floor edition, begin!


J managed to paint the entryway ceiling with only himself and a ladder.  I have no idea how he accomplished this in a 2-story entryway but it happened.  And it looks great!


Dining Room

This isn’t the best picture of the dining room but here’s a mediocre before & after.  It went from thickly textured yellow-beige to smooth brown.  I think it’s a nice mature, calming color perfect for a family dining room.  With dark walls and dark floors we’re going to have to be careful about furniture and decor so as to brighten the room, not make it even darker.

Before; After – Moleskin (Behr)

Living Room

The living room went from thickly textured white to an interesting pale green.  In some lights it looks avocado in others a light lime green.  When we first started painting it on it looked really yellow-green.  I called it “newborn poop” green.  But as it dried it turned out to be more what we were looking for.  I know it’s not for everyone but we like it.  I just hope once our existing furniture and decor moves in that it all coordinates.  I don’t have it in the budget to redo furniture and decor just yet!

After – Fennel Seed (Behr); Before


The playroom is mostly the same Fennel Seed color as the living room.  Being two connected rooms we wanted the same color to flow between them.  I wanted to add a bit of a playful, fun feature to the playroom though.  So we went with an accent wall.  At first we went with Carraway Seed (Behr) which was two colors darker.  The difference was so subtle that it basically looked like the same color wall just with a shadow.  So we went back to Home Depot for Dash of Oregano which is four colors darker than Fennel Seed.  And here you go!  A for-sure accent wall, no doubts about it.

Before; After – Dash of Oregano (Behr)

Also, we had to deal with the mess left behind from removing the chair rail (Paint: Main Floor).  As you can see in the picture above, it turned out just fine.  Close up you might be able to see somethings — if you know what to look for.  Otherwise, it’s a perfectly plain wall again.


The kitchen was mostly cutting-in with all the little sections too small for the roller and around all the cabinetry.  It was probably the most time consuming room (if you don’t count the repainting of the accent wall).  It’s a fairly bold blue but J loves it.  I think it will work out well once everything else comes together.

Before; After – Reef Blue (Behr)

All Together

And last but not least.  Here’s a shot of all the colors together.  It was important to both J and I that all our color ideas fit together well so even though the main floor is colorful it still has a cohesive feel to it.  I think we accomplished that goal.



One of the things that attracted us to this house was that the bones were good.  Visually/cosmetically things were outdated, old, and in some cases poorly installed.  But underneath it all the structure, the electrical, the plumbing, the AC, etc was good.  The inspector identified a few areas of concern like leaky faucets and slow sinks – but nothing that scared us away.  In my opinion, that’s just normal house maintenance that wasn’t given the proper attention.  But J and I are here to give it proper attention!

Last Saturday, my dear Papá volunteered to help address the leaky bath fixtures in the kids’ and master baths.  He had previously taken a look and thought it was old washers so he brought over his plumbing tools and with J’s help took things apart.

Kids’ Bath

Sure enough the washers were essentially gone – half the size of brand new washers which meant water was just leaking around the seal.  The insides of the handles were also full of hard water deposits and corroded, as was the drain trip lever and the spout.  We ended up getting a complete rebuild kit with new stems and handles (this kit from Home Depot); and a separate new drain lever.  We still have to swap out the spout and the shower head but after that the kids’ bath will be completely leak-free and brand new.  I think J and I picked up some handy tips from my dad as well.  It’s good to be new homeowners learning the tips and tricks of home maintenance.


Master Shower

The shower head in the master was constantly dripping.  I thought it was just a bad shower head but my dad and J explained that if the water was dripping from the shower head then it wasn’t properly sealed and shut off at the handles.  Duh – seems so obvious now.  So once again they pulled them off and found they needed to be replaced just like the kids’ bath.  It was cheaper to get a second rebuild kit with two handles and a diverter than it was to get everything separate so now we’ve got an extra diverter – yay!  We went with the cheaper chrome for the kids’ bath but spent the extra $5 for the brushed nickle for the master. Et voilà!


The end.  Coming up next time … Tile Install!

Revamped Storage

I know storage rooms are not very exciting or “blog-worthy” but that’s what we are talking about today.  The house has an over-sized storage room in the basement.  It’s about the size of a small bedroom but without a window it can’t technically (or safely) be a bedroom.  The previous owners had it set-up to be a storage room and we’re planning on keeping it as such as well.  For now.

Originally the whole house was getting a repaint.  Then we actually set the budget and listed out everything and decided the basement was in good enough condition that it could wait until later.  The storage at least needed some new shelves, though.  The existing wood shelves were only about 6″ deep, which isn’t really that great for storage.  Do you have storage boxes or totes that are only 6″ deep?  Doubtful.  The walls are also dirty and gross with I’m-not-sure-what so I definitely want it cleaned.

Saturday morning was spent taking down all the shelves and brackets.  It was tedious work made more tedious by the number of different screws used.  And spider-y.  Unfortunately, once all the shelves were gone I couldn’t get the walls cleaned.  Looks like we’ll be painting a storage room.  Seems kinda like a waste but it also seems worth it to start fresh before all the spiders move back in.  I’m thinking we just pick up a couple cans of returned/rejected paint in a white or off-white color.  Anyone know of a good place to get discounted, reject paint?

Sans Shelves:



Half Bath: an update

The last time we visited the half bath J and I had removed that green wallpaper.  Since then we pulled the toilet to finish removing the wallpaper.

Also, another great find (like that tile)!  We were definitely not planning on replacing the vanity.  All the cabinetry in the house is in fairly good shape just a bit worn and dated colors.  The half bath vanity though had been chewed and scratched by the dogs.  So we were planning on replacing the doors.  But then, The Home Depot special buy of the day was bath vanities.  I immediately forwarded the link to J after reading the daily email.  We ended up snagging this combo for roughly equal what we would have spent on doors plus shipping.  And in the words of the legendary Barney Stinson: “New is always better”.

bath vanity
Glacier Bay Delridge Vanity


And we get a new mirror!  The medicine cabinet in the half bath is actually attached to the mirror.  I was going to try to separate them and reframe the mirror but now we have a bonus new mirror!

Next step:  New flooring.  With the toilet and vanity out in the garage, we have direct and easy access to the flooring so they will remain in the garage until the old linoleum is replaced (probably with bargain tile).  Stay tuned!