May 212013

I hate repainting rooms I’ve already painted. The extra time, the extra paint, all of it. But sometimes it’s just necessary. In the upstairs nursery we both knew the first color wasn’t working. We liked it, don’t get me wrong, but it just wasn’t what we were looking for (a true gray) and the warm tones in the color clashed with the new floors. Strike out on Pigeon Gray this time around.

painting nursery 1

Second try? Bay Waves.

repainting nursery 1

The cooler tone is just what we were looking for! It looks so much better with the floor, too.

repainting nursery 2

Also, take a look at the nice new light fixture my father-in-law installed while we were working on the floors.

nursery light fixture 1

Like it? We needed a flush-mounted fixture since the ceilings aren’t very high up here and happened to come across two of these at Lowes last fall for $20. I like the pattern and the variation in the metal tones.

nursery light fixture 2

So next up is the reveal of her nursery all put together! I’ll skip the heart-stopping exciting bit where I sand, prime, paint, install and caulk all of the baseboards and shoe moulding. If only I could have skipped past it in real life too. 🙂

May 202013

After our crazy weekend of installing new oak hardwood floors (I talked about why we chose hardwood here), it was time to paint the nursery. I would have loved to paint both rooms before putting in the floor so that we didn’t have to worry about drips, but we didn’t have enough time before the installation weekend was upon us. Dylan helped me paint, and after a few hours we had a coat of paint on the walls.

painting nursery 1

We went with Pigeon Gray by Better Homes & Gardens, which is the same paint we used in our living and dining rooms. Downstairs it seems the perfect warm gray. Not too tan, but not too cool, either.

painting nursery 2

But upstairs, with these medium toned, reddish wood floors? It wasn’t working. We didn’t bother touching up the few spots that weren’t fully covered, because we both knew we needed a new color.

While we put off a second coat of paint, I got busy painting the closets. I spent a few long evenings priming and then painting these closets. The nursery has two closets, both decent sized. No space was wasted when this house was built, so each closet followed the eaves all of the way.

Here’s the first closet, before any paint. It was already drywalled and mudded.

painting nursery 3And here it is after a coat of primer. So much brighter already!

painting nursery 4

After that I hit it up with a coat of white ceiling paint, but I didn’t get a picture of that. I’m sure you can imagine what it would look like. 🙂

The second closet in the nursery is huge. Really deep, really wide. It’s kind of separated into two parts. The first part is full ceiling height, and I decided to paint the bottom portion the same dark teal as our downstairs bathroom (since I had extra paint, why not?).

painting nursery 7

The second part of this closet is short and awkward, but perfect for storing our stash of extra diapers and wipes, as well as baby items Jules has grown out of (like her bouncer and exersaucer).

painting nursery 6

That’s where I’ll stop for today…making progress!

May 152013

We installed hardwood flooring in the upstairs of our house a couple of months ago, about 500 square feet. This was our second time installing hardwood (we did it in our first house’s kitchen and hallway), so we felt like we knew what to expect.

kitchen 1 after

Kitchen in our first house

hallway before and after

Hallway in our first house

Why Hardwood Flooring?

We knew when we bought the house that the upstairs bedrooms and landing would need new flooring. A peek under the carpet told us that all that was under it was lineoleum tiles. We went back and forth on engineered flooring versus hardwood. The nice thing about engineered is it can be cheaper and it usually isn’t as thick as hardwood floor. With low ceilings upstairs, space is at a premium. Engineered is durable, easy to install, and doesn’t take as many tools as laying hardwood flooring.

However, hardwood flooring has a lot of positive aspects as well. Solid hardwood flooring looks really nice and offers longevity and durability. It isn’t difficult to install and we already have all of the tools needed. We’ve installed hardwood before, so we know what to expect. Lastly, the hardwood isn’t so much thicker than engineered flooring that it would make a noticeable difference in the room. Hardwood, it is!

The nicest thing about hardwood is you can buy it pre-finished. The protective coating is way more durable than if you refinish flooring and put it on yourself. So even if you have fewer options on stain color, the floors we installed won’t need to be touched for probably at least 15 years (in fact, we’ve been living with them for a few months and haven’t noticed any dings or scratches). We got our hardwood at Lowes and got them to throw in free delivery. When making a large purchase like that, you can usually get them to deliver it for free if you’re willing to ask (and take a cute kid or two with you). It wasn’t on sale, but we used a 10% off coupon which helped a ton. We got this kind of hardwood, but let me tell you that it looks way different in person. It also got great reviews online.

upstairs hardwood floor 17

How to Install Hardwood Flooring
Since we had to get Jules out of the house while we worked we just planned on working our rears off and getting it done FAST. We had our hardwood acclimating in the bedrooms upstairs for almost two weeks before we actually installed it. We laid the first piece Friday at 5pm and the last piece on Saturday at 8pm, breaking for 8-9 hours for sleep and meals. We used a flooring nailer (which uses huge 2-inch staples) we borrowed from Dylan’s dad, no glue involved. We thought the air compressor would freak Jules out, which is why we got her out of the house, but it actually didn’t. We definitely worked faster with her gone, though.

Prep the Floors
1. Remove any existing flooring. We ripped up carpet, but left the square linoleum tiles. We researched online a good bit before deciding to do this. First, linoleum tiles of that size and the age of our house mean that there was a good chance they contained asbestos. Asbestos is harmful when it is airborne. Removing it would be more harmful than putting our new flooring over it. Not to mention, it may not have been easy to remove, which could have meant we’d have to replace the subfloor. No thank you!
2. Remove baseboards. If they’ve been caulked to the wall, run a utility knife between the baseboard and wall before removing. Pry away from the wall using a 3-inch putty knife or pry bar. Set aside if you plan on re-using them (and remove the nails!).
3. Shorten door casing. Use a multitool to shorten all door casing, including closet doors. You want to slide the hardwood under these, so make sure it’s at the right height. Use a scrap piece of your hardwood to measure a good cut.
4. Screw the heck out of your subfloor. Now is the time to remove any creaks in your floor. Use 2 1/2″ wood screws and  a stud finder (to find your joists) and make all of those squeaky spots disappear.

With hardwood flooring, the prep work is the most complicated part. Laying the flooring takes time, but once you get in a system that works for you, it goes pretty quickly.

Tips for Laying the Flooring
Before nailing down your flooring, there’s one last thing you need to do. Roll out roofing paper on your floor. Unless your whole area to be re-floored (is that a word?) is cleared off, you’ll have to do this as you go, which is why it is down here, instead of with the “prep work.”

upstairs hardwood floor 7

When installing flooring, try to have two or three people around…any more and it would just get overcrowded. Dylan and I moved pretty quickly with just the two of us, I thought, with me picking out the pieces of wood (making sure joints were staggered and that the few ugly pieces of wood were set in a pile we used for closets) and cutting at the end. Dylan manned the flooring nailer, which was a big job in and of itself. The second day we had his dad helping too and it went even faster. His dad laid out the wood, staggering joints, while I made all of the cuts and did the closets when I was caught up on the main room.

upstairs hardwood floor 11

Leave about 1/4″ gap on all sides of the room for the wood to expand when temperatures change. It’s easiest to have a piece of scrap wood or cardboard (folded over a couple of times) a couple of feet long so you don’t have to move it often. It will be covered up with your baseboard and shoe moulding.

Be sure you have any new thresholds or stair treads you need before beginning or your progress will be stopped when you have to make a mid-project run to Lowes. Other than that, just go to town and push through. Laying hardwood flooring is such a fun project because it gives you instant gratification. In one day our two upstairs bedrooms went from gross to beautiful.

See? The gross before…

upstairs hardwood floor 1

and the beautiful after!

upstairs hardwood floor 17

Okay, removing the window treatment, new paint and a new light fixture helped that before and after a bit, but we’ll get to those soon. 🙂

May 082013

Sometimes I put off even the simplest of sewing projects, because my sewing area is a mess! I’ve been on a quest to get more organized and settled in our house, and coming up with a new thread storage solution was a must. Here’s what I ended up with.

thread holder 9

Last year I made a simple thread holder using a wood plank I picked up at Salvation Army and long nails. It helped for a little while, but had a few flaws.

thread holder 1

First and most importantly, it wasn’t big enough to hold all of my thread, which means the rest of it was scattered around my sewing machine, finding a home wherever there was space. Not only was it messy and disorganized, but I could never seem to find the color I needed for a given project, so I’d go buy more. Second, it wasn’t very pretty from the front, because only the top of each spool was visible, instead of the pretty thread colors. Third, it didn’t help me keep track of my bobbins. Which always seemed to end up like this, tangled in the bottom of a drawer.

thread holder 8

So to the internet I went, seeking a solution, which is when I stumbled upon this awesome DIY thread holder. Not only does it showcase the beautiful colors of thread, but it keeps the bobbins right there with the appropriate color!

From The Creative Homemaker via Ashley on pinterest

So I pinned it, then did nothing. For months. Finally, it was time to get with the program and build it.

It’s funny that I put it off for so long, because it really didn’t take very long to put together and it was very inexpensive. I used 1×2 furring strips from Home Depot ($1.12 for an 8 foot length) and scrap beadboard for the back. Basically I just cut the pieces to the length I wanted (I did 2 feet wide, so I could get 4 pieces from one furring strip), glued and nailed them together using my brad nailer. Glue is the key for longevity for anything you build. Nails or screws hold things in place for awhile, but wood glue is what keeps them in place practically forever. I mitered the corners to give it a nice and polished look.

Sorry, but the only in progress shot I have is from my phone. But you can get the idea.

thread holder 14

I left 2 1/2 inches between each horizontal rail, which gives me plenty of space for the taller spools without the shelves looking too far apart. When I had glued and nailed every piece together it was time to attach the beadboard backing. The backing gives the shelf additional support, keeps it square, and makes it pretty.

After spray priming and painting, it was time to attach the nails for the bobbins. I put in spools of thread to figure out how many would fit on each shelf and settled on 16. Then I used my trick to easily achieve evenly spaced nails. I marked a line every inch on some elastic, for a total of 16 lines. Then I stretch the elastic so that each end was where I wanted them, nailed the ends in place.

thread holder 4

Next I added a nail at each marking.

thread holder 5

After that, I just repeated for all of the other shelves.

Time to hang it on the wall and fill it with my thread. The fun part!

thread holder 7

I didn’t add my bobbins yet, because I had to run to the hardware store before I could deal with them. Call me crazy, but the thread that always unwinds drives me nuts. I’ve seen people use clear tubing to keep the thread from unraveling.

I bought 2 feet of 1/2″ clear vinyl tubing for less than $1.50. Just a warning, I couldn’t find it by the foot at Lowes or Home Depot, so got this at our local Ace Hardware. Cut it to the height of the bobbin and put a slit in the side, and it perfectly wraps around the bobbin.

thread holder 13

Voila! Done! Not only did this project organize my sewing thread but it looks beautiful with all of that colorful thread. Most of that thread I inherited with the sewing machine, which was my grandma’s, so I love seeing it.

thread holder 11

Ain’t it purty?

thread holder 6

Linking up with Bower Power, Young House Love, RedBird BlueSparkle Meets Pop, and House of Hepworths.


May 062013

Remember a few months ago when I hauled in the hardwood flooring to save it from the nasty weather? Well, for a couple of weeks it sat in the upstairs bedroom to acclimate to the temperature and humidity of our house. This is a very necessary step…if you skip it your hard work installing the floor could all be ruined by buckling as the wood expands and contracts.

While the flooring was acclimating, we had plenty to do in the bedrooms. Dylan tore out all of the old carpet and padding. We left the linoleum tiles for a few reasons. It would have taken a lot of time to remove the tiles, given us a lot more waste, and most importantly, could have exposed us to asbestos. By leaving them undisturbed, we avoided letting asbestos get airborne, which is when it becomes a hazard.

Dylan took a Friday off work and spent the day finishing preparing the rooms for installation. He removed all of the baseboard and used our multitool to cut all of the door casings so we could slide the flooring underneath them. We could have done even more before installing if we had time, just to make it a bit easier later (like filling and sanding holes, painting the ceiling and walls, etc.), but the installation weekend was upon us before we knew it.

Here’s a shot of the future master bedroom from the door, all prepped and ready to go.

upstairs hardwood floor 1

Don’t you just love the floral curtains in the above picture? We decided to keep them. Kidding!

Here’s a view looking back toward the door, where you can see all the way into the other bedroom.

upstairs hardwood floor 2

As was recommended on multiple websites, we opened up our boxes of wood and stacked them as pictured below. Some people said just to open the end of each box to let air in, but others said that opening the boxes and stacking them ensured that they would fully acclimate. After spending big bucks on this floor and installing it ourselves, we weren’t taking any chances that the floor would buckle!

upstairs hardwood floor 3

Finally after all of this prep work, we nailed in the first piece at 5 pm on a Friday. It’s really important that the first row be perfect, since everything else builds off of that row. The first two or three rows took the longest, but before long we were moving along at a good pace.

upstairs hardwood floor 4

The first true test was when we got to the dormer window…we were nervous to see if our rows were perfectly parallel to the dormer wall. And they were! Phew.

upstairs hardwood floor 5

See our miter saw on the sawhorse table? Totally worth it. Last time we installed hardwood flooring we just left it on the ground. Trust me when I say that after all of the crouching and kneeling you’ll do, you definitely don’t want to do that when you’re cutting your flooring too. Also? A nice quality miter saw is a major plus, especially one with a laser. We got this miter saw last fall, and a nice miter saw is on my top three tools list (along with our circular saw and assortment of drills).

By 10:30 that night, we were most of the way across the room.

upstairs hardwood floor 7

The next morning we started bright (or something) and early, hoping to finish the rest of the flooring that day, since the baby was spending the day at Grandma’s house. It wasn’t going very quickly, because we had a lot of cuts, a closet, a doorway, then the hall.

upstairs hardwood floor 16

Then we ran into this part. We hadn’t really thought about what we would do with the top of the stairs, which took a couple of hours and a quick trip to Lowes to pick up a new oak stair tread.

upstairs hardwood floor 8

Because the new flooring was higher than the old carpeting, we needed to raise the top tread a bit. Fortunately, a piece of 1/4″ plywood was perfect.

upstairs hardwood floor 9

After carefully cutting the tread to size (and using the multitool to hack up the baseboard at the top of the steps so we could slide the tread in place), we were finally ready to go! We secured it with some liquid nails underneath and a few nails from above. Later we’ll use some sawdust from the tread mixed with a bit of wood glue as wood filler, sand it, and stain it to match the flooring.

upstairs hardwood floor 10

Once we got through the tiny landing area and into the next bedroom, we were really moving. Dylan’s parents came that day and between Dylan’s dad, Dylan, and I, we cranked out the second bedroom. We did the second bedroom in only about four hours, with Jules’ bedtime looming over our heads.

upstairs hardwood floor 11

I can’t believe we actually got it all done! From start to finish, it took 27 hours, working for about 19 of those.

upstairs hardwood floor 12

Totally worth it though. The floor feels so solid and looks great! Well, it looks great when it’s clean anyway. 🙂

upstairs hardwood floor 13

Here’s a look into the future just so you can see how pretty the floor looks when it’s clean.

upstairs hardwood floor 17

Seriously, I love these floors. This post is getting a bit lengthy, so I think I’ll save the “whys” and “hows” of our hardwood flooring adventure for another post. Stay tuned!


May 012013

You know how it is when you skip a day at the gym? Then it becomes two days? And before long you can’t remember the last time you went? Yeah, well, that’s how I feel about this blog right now. But I’m back (for real) and ready to share what we’ve been up to for the past couple of months.

We have a four bedroom, two bath home, but since moving in we’ve been living in a 2 bed 2 bath home. Why? Well, the two bedrooms upstairs needed new flooring before doing anything else. So when we moved in we didn’t move anything upstairs, because we’d just need to move it to replace the flooring. This meant the dining room not only had a table and chairs, but also my sewing machine, desk and chair, and printer table. Yikes! Our living room and bedrooms were equally cramped until we could expand and use all of our house.

As soon as I finished the gut job on the main floor bath, we jumped head first into working on the upstairs bedrooms. We bought hardwood floor from Lowes and it was delivered and acclimating upstairs. Before we installed it, however, it was important that we prime one of the bedrooms, the future nursery.

nursery before 1

I actually really like solid wood paneling (the guest room in our first house had solid wood paneling) because it makes hanging stuff on the wall really easy. No searching for studs or weird anchors that don’t work right. However. I HATE painting this stuff. It takes three or four times longer than normal walls because you have to brush every single vertical joint.

nursery before 2

Since this wood paneling was stained dark it made the room feel cramped and small, especially when paired with short ceilings. To make sure the stain didn’t bleed through, we used oil-based primer. My sister came up one morning and helped me prime (while Jules was out of the house) which was a life saver. This is not a room I’m willing to paint by myself. After a long morning priming, the room already felt so much lighter.

primed nursery 1

Oil-based primer does the job, but it is nasty stuff. It stinks (even the odorless stuff isn’t completely odor free), is super sticky, and seems thicker than normal paint, which makes it harder to push in gaps (like the tongue and groove portion of these walls). For these reasons I knew we had to get this part done with before laying beautiful new hardwood floors.

primed nursery 2

Ta-da! Ready for some flooring!

Mar 122013

The bathroom is done! Hallelujah! It’s actually been done for a month or so, but we dove right into the next project and I got pretty behind on blogging about it. This is the glorious sight I see when I walk down the hall.

main floor bath reveal 4

Remember how bad it was when we got the house?

main bath 2

Let’s take a quick look at how we got from that “before” to the current state of the bathroom.

Checked off our “to do” list:

Things left to do:

  • build a drawer for the vanity
  • figure out what to do with the wall space between the mirror and shower (art? a floating shelf? leave it blank?)

Now for a view looking toward the vanity and built-in shelves. I’m not gonna lie…it wasn’t easy getting pictures of this bathroom. It’s so tiny! Functional, but small. After taking into account the tub, toilet and vanity, this bathroom only has about 3 feet by 4 feet of floor space.

main floor bath reveal 2

Oh, I still love this vanity and concrete countertop. Now that I know where the plumbing is, I just need to build that second drawer to really have it finished. I found the oil-rubbed bronze faucet on clearance at Home Depot for $40 (marked down from $160!).

main floor bath reveal 8

The light fixture, towel ring, towel bar, and toilet paper holder were all clearance items from the Better Homes & Gardens line at Walmart. The mirror was a clearance find at Lowes from the Allen and Roth line.

main floor bath reveal 3

Turning just a bit you can see the universal Delta brand shower kit we bought on You can also catch a glimpse of the artwork I made for the bathroom.

main floor bath reveal 6

I’ll be doing a post on that artwork, but I had fun making it. Thanks to materials I had on hand, I only spent about $4 making it!

main floor bath reveal 5

I can’t forget a shot of the beadboard ceiling we put in! I found the shower curtain at TJ Maxx and the oil-rubbed bronze metal tension rod at Walmart.

main floor bath reveal 1

Most of the time we have a bath mat to keep our toes from freezing on the tile floor. I got this dark gray diamond mat at TJ Maxx.

main floor bath reveal 10

I’m so glad to be done working on this bathroom. I’m really happy with how it turned out and it’s always exciting to learn a new skill. I now know that I love tiling!d

main floor bath reveal