Category Archives: home improvements

House Progress: The Mother Lode, Part 2

As promised, here are the pictures from our addition. We turned our 2 bedroom, 1.5 bathroom into a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom house with this addition. The addition is not terribly large (less than 500 square feet) but it consists of two bedrooms: the master and an office, a small laundry room, a master bathroom, and a hallway that includes a small amount of mudroom space. We aimed to make efficient use of space and not build something that feels totally different from the small spaces of our 1940s house. We also had building challenges with our weird property lines and set backs, but that’s another story for another time. Once we got into some real planning for this endeavor, we realized it was important to tackle everything that would make us consider moving in the foreseeable future. We feel like we accomplished that.

There is so much I want to explain about this whole process, but I’ll have to think more on what exactly to include (I feel like we could write a book!).

So, without further ado…


This is a progression of the master bedroom end of the addition looking into the house.




The office






The Laundry room. Almost not worth showing and the room looks crooked, but we still haven’t done much in there…yet.

The Master bedroom.




Our heavenly master bath.





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House Progress: The Mother Lode, Part 1

Last year we tackled an ambitious project. A very ambitious project. We pretty much re-invented our house. Much of the existing house was renovated. And then we added a sizable addition. All the while life continued on. We knew it would be a tough and draining endeavor, but we underestimated just how tough and draining. One year later, though, we can say it was totally worth it. And we never want to do it again!

One day I’ll get around to posting about the process. For now, pictures. Lots and lots of pictures. In fact, this post will come in two parts. Part 1: the existing house. Part 2: the addition.




Spring 2016                              Summer 2017

Spring 2016                            Summer 2017



Spring 2016                                Summer 2017




Spring 2016                               Summer 2017

Spring 2016                                Summer 2017



Spring 2016                                Summer 2017



Spring 2016                                    Summer 2017

Spring 2016                                Summer 2017




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Door Drama: Part Three

It’s been a long time since I wrote about any progress to our front door, and any of you who’ve kept up with this blog for a while may have thought we’d forgotten to finish our  “plan”. (I assure you, I had not!)

But…the time has finally come!

I’m really excited about this post because, not only was it a heck-of-a-lot more work than anything we’ve tackled before, it has also really helped to update the exterior of our home.

Okay, so if you’ll remember, here’s how our front entry looked June of 2012:


We painted the doorway white some time shortly after that and then attached shutters in July of 2013:

Fast forward another year, and here we are!IMG_0753


The process began months (or, really a year or two) earlier with plans for our roofed pergola. I cannot stress this step in the process enough. Sometimes it felt like we were beating a dead horse, but since we were (are) amateurs, it was critical in minimizing our stress once we entered the building phase. We talked about what each of us was envisioning. We researched ideas and sketched out our plans. We tried to anticipate what problems we could face. We priced lumber and supplies online. We talked with people in our lives who knew how to build. We made an exhaustive list for our Lowe’s trip.IMG_0967

Then, we set a date to build and recruited some help. This came in the form of my brother-in-law who helped with the manual labor (my dad threw out his back days earlier but still graciously managed to come and help out for a while), my in-laws who brought lunch and helped with just about anything else we needed, and my mom who kept the chilluns so we could actually focus and get stuff done. The hubs and I were talking about how DIYers get all the glory for rolling up their sleeves and getting dirty, but (in our experience) it takes a village to get the job done. We’re so grateful to everyone who helped us out!

The first step was to tear out the old awning, see what was left underneath, and power wash the area before we built over it again.IMG_0696

As in true DIY form, we did experience a few hiccups in our plan. The biggest one was the way we attached our posts to the concrete slab. We unsuccessfully tried a couple of frustrating methods before using L brackets and bits designed to drill into concrete.IMG_0721

The second most frustrating step was the way our corrugated steel bowed. IMG_0730

Even when we drilled it to the pergola while pulling it taut, the front bowed. We remedying it by attaching 1×2 pieces in between each rafter. In the end, we like the look better than without it.IMG_0755



One of the hardest parts about the project both in planning and in execution was building around that little corner. It was a pain because that affected the 3 inch slope on the last rafter. Let me tell you, math is an important skill in building!IMG_0751

Because we used pressure treated wood, we have to wait a while until we can stain it. But the plan is to stain it the same color as the shutters and then paint the concrete gray.

August 2011:DSCN0512


July 2014:


We had many moments of frustration, but we knew that we’d feel pride once we were finished. And we do. One of the areas where I feel most accomplished is in anticipating the cost and sticking to our budget. We built this puppy (including the painting and staining that have yet to be completed) for right around $250. IMG_0755



One thing is for sure: it was a learning experience. And it doesn’t hurt that it’s still standing! 🙂


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DIY Twin Duvet Cover

Our three -year-old is now an old pro at sleeping in a “big bed”. When we first transitioned him out of the crib, I realized that he was used to only sleeping with his blankie. Even the pillow at the head of the bed was new for him. So, I slapped a fitted sheet on his bed and called it good.

Lately, though, I’ve been feeling like he might be ready for covers. The blankie barely covers his legs and he is *better* about staying covered while he actually sleeps. I have a twin down comforter that I saved from when the twin bed was mine in college, so the only real question was how to cover it. (Notice the pun reference?)

I headed to Goodwill with my mom one day in search of some inspiration. We decided against blue and gray (that I was thinking of doing) since it could clash with armoire if it wasn’t just the right shade. There wasn’t a great selection, but my mom found this cute patterned sheet at the last minute:

IMG_0676We paired those subtle green circles interspersed in the pattern with a vibrant solid green sheet. We liked it because it was fun, coordinated well with the colors in the room, and wasn’t too babyish. (since he is three afterall!)

After throwing them in the wash, I simply put the “right” sides together and sewed across one side and the bottom. As it turned out, the sheets weren’t exactly the same size, so I laid it out and pinned the opposite side with both sheets flattened out:


After sewing that side, I cut off the excess and sewed it once more (in case the green sheet frayed at all).

Then, I flipped the whole thing inside out and stuffed it with the duvet. I really wanted this thing to stay put (as sometimes the comforter can move around inside the cover), so I opted to tie a few knots with embroidery thread to secure the whole thing.

IMG_0670As for the top, I folded the green side over and did a wide hand stitch with embroidery thread. I’ll have to take all that apart whenever I wash it, but it made for a nice temporary fix, anyway.


For a simple afternoon project, I’m pleased!



Unfortunately for me (since I make bed), Liam informed me that he’s not ready to get rid of his side rail just yet. 🙂


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Making Room for More (and Other Secrets for Living in Small Spaces)

Our den has morphed yet again!

I know it seems like we’re changing things in there every other week–and trust me, that is not my personality–but we had an amazing offer come our way, and we just couldn’t pass it up!

A few weeks ago, some friends of ours mentioned that they were getting rid of their couch and matching love seat since they were getting an upgrade. They are really nice and neutral and in great shape, even after years of use.  The best part? They were offering to give them for FREE!

We knew we wanted them (partially as a longer-term investment in seating space) but had to figure out a way to make it work.

Adding furniture to our house means something’s gotta go. So, the desk moved to the dining room and the bookshelf/console in front of the dining room window went to the attic, ready to sell.

DSCN0592Now, the dining room window looks like this:

photo 4

photo 5The desk feels a little casual for the space (good thing we have a casual house!), but I really think it was the best option.

Then, we just played furniture Tetris, and here is where everything landed:

photo 1

photo 2

photo 3

Our house is SMALL (1,200 sq feet), and with two children, it is feeling increasingly so. Just as I described our space challenge in the kids’ room, the same goes for every room in our house.

And that got me thinking that I would share a few tips that I’ve picked up from living in a home with limited space:

1. EVERYTHING must have a place

I think this is one of the most important things for organizing any space. That folding chair, the mug on the counter, the craft supplies…where do they live? The kids get a new toy at Christmas? Make it fit into the room’s plan. Having a place–on purpose–for each thing in your home makes clean up a ton easier (and quicker!), especially if everyone in your house knows where that place is.

2. Purge

Keep the mentality of “spring cleaning” year round. If you live in a small house, this is a necessity. We have small (and few) closets in this old ranch, so we have to make them count. It’s not helpful to have those full of things that I don’t really need.

3. Rethink the current set up often, especially when something new is introduced

Rearrange. Keep things fluid in your set up. This is a newer concept for me. We got a new couch and love seat. So, what was gonna go? Technically, we may have been able to cram an extra sofa in without losing anything in the room, but we like that we still feel like it breathes a little bit.

4. Scale furniture to the size of the room

The longer we live in this house, the harder this is. But, it’s helpful to not have too much or too big of furniture pieces in a small room. A huge armoire overwhelms the space and dwarfs the room. Keep things to scale.

A few examples of space-saving techniques in our house:

store wrapping paper above the door frame in a       closet

store wrapping paper above the door frame in a closet

use a kitchen magnetic knife strip to store bobby pins, safety pins, etc.

use a kitchen magnetic knife strip to store bobby pins, safety pins, etc.

hang command hooks inside closets for bag storage

hang command hooks inside closets for bag storage

add shelves to small bathroom closets to maximize storage

add shelves to small bathroom closets to maximize storage

add dresser to children's bedroom closet when there's no space in the room

add dresser to children’s bedroom closet when there’s no space in the room

Does anyone have contributing ideas? Please share! And happy spring cleaning! 🙂


Filed under home improvements, personal thoughts

Mud Room Space

As promised, I’m back with the improvements we’ve made to our den by the back door! For Christmas, we received a hat rack and shoe bench we’d been eyeing at IKEA from Jonathan’s parents.

If you’ll remember, here’s how sad our entryway was before:


Needless to say, it didn’t take long before we were assembling those babies! And here’s how she looks:


*Note the increasingly permanent set up for our modem and router on Jonathan’s box drum


DSCN0884I’m so pleased with how it has matured the space. We really thought about making our own coat rack from a pallet, and I’m glad we didn’t. This will be something that will last us (maybe even go with us to our next house).


One thing is  for sure, this room has come a long way since we moved in 2.5 years ago!

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DIY Bookcase Makeover


See that little black bookcase? It’s been with me since my college days. Someone painted it before I inherited it, and even though you can’t tell in these pictures, it was quite chipped and worn. It also didn’t match the room’s color palate in the slightest.

DSCN0743However, it is solid wood and a great size for storing toys, so rather than replacing it with something new, it remained on my DIY To-Do list.

Like I said, I knew for a while that I wanted to update this little puppy but wasn’t totally sure what direction I wanted to go in. After perusing Pinterest one day, I pieced some ideas together and was inspired. Once that hit me, I couldn’t wait to get started! In fact, because it warmed up a bit last week,  I decided to seize the opportunity. Forget the fact that it was the week before Christmas and already a little nuts around here!

Here she is, sittin’ pretty today!


The run-down:
Step 1: Sand the paint and rough edges until smooth.

Step 2: Paint one coat of primer.

Step 3: Apply four thin, even coats of paint (This happened to be a quart of paint I got at the Habitat ReStore for a buck when we first moved into this house. Little did I know it would go so well with all the furniture we now have in the room. SCORE!)

Step 4: Allow to cure for a few days.

Step 5: Stamp with orange and turquoise paint using a toilet paper roll. Isn’t it cute?!

I’m really pleased with how it turned out. I chose orange to tie the color from the pillows to the other side of the room. The splash of turquoise is the same paint used on the little side table.

DSCN0879I decided to fill in the turquoise circles because they didn’t make quite as bold a statement as I was envisioning.

DSCN0877I love how the circle pattern is repeated in the curtains and the throw pillows. (Anybody else wondering when I started thinking in designer terms?!)

Anyway, the whole project cost me just $3–for the sample container of orange pain (Behr’s Citrus Blast) since I already owned the off-white and turquoise paints and the primer.

DSCN0876There are still some finishing touches I’d like to do (for example, I’m scouting out more/different baskets for storage), but I’m really happy with where it’s at. Much improved, I’d say!

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