Refinishing the staircase took a looooong time but it is sooooo worth it! I assumed we would refinish the wood and stain it, but Ross actually suggested we paint the riser white along with the spindles. It does look very crisp and clean; it looks great! Ross ended up stripping the entire staircase to get rid of the pukey pink paint color, and all the carpet staples came out one by one. Take a look:
We’re getting so close! The minute the trim went on, I started getting excited. I mean, it’s not like I wasn’t excited about the studs and garage floor and roof (pssst: I wasn’t) but the finishing touches are so much more impactful! My mother-in-law stopped over and she nearly walked into a wall upstairs because she was so distracted by the bathroom finishings, haha. That’s what we’re going for…we want everyone to walk into walls because they’re so busy swiveling their head around! Here’s some photos of the current progress and a shnazzy video tour (don’t worry, the music is just the intro, not through the whole video).
Ross and I hesitated for a hot second on how much landscaping we should actually do. I mean, our yard at home desperately needs new mulch and we need to move and split a bunch of flowers and plants, so it’s hard to just ignore all of that and spend a few days landscaping at our “other house.” But in the end, it was really important to show off the nice new patio and walkway and front steps and make it seem more like a home than just a rental that no one cares about.
In fact, I just had coffee with my girlfriend from high school and found out they sold their home in Richfield and bought a house about three blocks away. I asked her why…if it was just a bigger home or nicer home…and she said it was a little bit bigger but the kitchen was actually the same size or smaller…so I asked her what really stood out to them about the new house. Guess what she said? THE LANDSCAPING! Her exact words as I recall were “You could just tell someone put a lot of thought into the landscaping; it was laid out so nice.” She said there is always something in bloom and she really enjoys their outside spaces. What are the chances I hear that from her, just as we are debating going to town on the landscaping at our property?? Crazy.
I found a great sale on plants at a greenhouse in the Twin Cities and was able to stock up for under $200, which I think it kind of a steal for the bigger bushes and junipers! Let’s just say I called for a quote from a different greenhouse/nursery and it was twice that price for the same stuff. So prices must vary pretty wildly depending on where you order from or what is “in stock” price versus special order.
I actually found the general design I wanted from this great guide from Lowe’s on Pinterest! When full-grown, it should lend a huge amount of privacy to the patio area that is missing today. What I ended up buying was 3 Junipers (they’re supposed to get as tall as 8 feet!), 3 yellow smoke bushes (these can get up to 10 feet tall!), 5 ‘rosey glow’ red barberry bushes, and purple ajuga ground cover, which I want to plant at our house too because it looks fabulous when it spreads out. I’ve already found more ajuga from a local on craigslist!
Currently, we have a ton of yellow sedum ground cover at our own house, and I actually had the boys dig some of it up to plant at our project house. We just bought them cute little mini shovels and they are not the best at digging, but the ground cover was shallow enough that they were able to help transplant it! With minimal assistance, haha.
I know it was 90 degrees and sunny, and we would have rather have been out on the boat or playing on the beach, but truthfully, days we spend working hard like this are what our boys will remember, hopefully forever. I want them to know how to dig, I want them to know how to play and have fun while working hard. It’s important for me to see them running around and making up games instead of sitting inside playing on their Leapfrogs, or being entertained by mom and dad at the cabin. It’s very satisfying to me to see them make up games to keep themselves busy with just some water in a bucket. I hear them laugh and run and I know they will remember working at our project house all together as a family!
About a year and a half ago, in the dead of winter, (I still remember the snow blowing across the ice on the road) we chugged over to Bauer Brothers to pick out a built-in for our pantry nook in the kitchen. When we bought the house, the pantry was under the stairs and while practical, I guess, it was dark, dingy, and kind of spooky. We decided in the corner of the kitchen, on the wall we closed up leading to the bathroom, we would do a square pantry with a door, or we would do a built-in style piece of furniture that could function as additional counter space but also pantry storage (big drawers and whatnot).
I know it’s hard to see the logic behind the decision so here is an illustration of what we changed in the space. Essentially we had more wall, given we moved the bathroom entrance out of the kitchen. It created a perfect little corner, for the pantry, so we could get it out from under the stairs and make it more accessible. More accessible, less creepy.
We are SO GLAD we decided on the built-in. We painted it Dutch Boy Manatee to contrast against the walls and cabinets. I wanted to make sure it looked like a piece of furniture and stood out against everything else. We chose butcher block counters because they stood out from the concrete counters on the other side of the kitchen.
Ross actually had to cut the hutch in half in order to add a countertop. Originally it was all one hutch/built-in, so this part scared me, and I wasn’t sure it would look good after we split it in half. Needless to say, he knew what he was doing and it looks great!
It was my idea to use two corbels on the sides instead of a plain piece of trim. We bought the corbels (green and pretty beat up) from Bauer Brothers Salvage as well as the hutch/pantry. I’m beyond thrilled with how it turned out.
I would love one of these in my kitchen – big drawers for canned goods or flour and sugar, glass doors to display all of your pretty dishes…it’s perfect!
I posted a picture of us hauling furniture to our other house on Instagram and received a few comments about my refinished dresser. I just finished it in the last week, with Ross’s help, because everything takes longer with a newborn!
A few months ago Ross came home with a hideous dresser he found on the side of the road. He thought I could refinish it and switch out the drawer pulls and it would be a great little dresser for our baby girl. I was dubious. It was painted a horrific pukey-pink and the wood was super chipped and the handles were in the shape of a cinnamon roll. My primary concern was that someone peed in it, or an animal was living in it or something, because it was on the side of the road.
From what I can tell though, there’s really nothing wrong with the dresser itself. The drawers are clean inside! It was just the outside that was turning me off. We looked at the stamp on the inside and it was stamped Lea Line Leads. Lea Line Leads furniture was trademarked in 1949 but that’s about all I could find out about it.
I used wall paint that was left over from George’s nursery (a very light cream color) and wiped it on with a brush then rolled it on for the last few coats of paint. To give it the antique look I knew I needed to scuff it up, but there was no way I was going to run a sander and risk waking the baby, so I grabbed my acrylic craft paints and folded up some cardboard for a straight edge. I dipped the folded edge in brown and black paint and just willy-nilly scraped the cardboard across some edges. It is easy to overdo it though, so resist the urge to cover every corner. Stand back and wipe some paint off with a wet cloth if needed.
Every time I attempted to work on it, baby Jonna gave me about 10-15 minutes before she started crying, so Ross finally took pity on me (it sat half finished for weeks) and finished it for me, adding the drawer pulls. We bought these super cheap drawer pulls on Amazon ($1 each!!!) but beware, we’ve had to re-glue the diamond part of two of them with Loctite – no biggie though.
I almost forgot to take a before pic so I’m glad I snapped one before I took the handles off. Without before pictures it is hard to understand the level of ugly. Now it looks like a totally different dresser.We love the end result!
Once upon a time, we bought a house and loved the brick chimney, but didn’t love the duct work and chaseway that ran alongside. We ran through our options, and decided on the most difficult (of course)! We sourced old yellow (Chicago-style) brick for about two years off Craigslist at cheap or free prices. Then came the hard part – the cutting out of the old brick and tooth-ing in the salvaged brick to expand the chimney. Not for only one chimney – but for four different areas in the house! We had four areas to add brick:
- the kitchen chimney that had horrible yellow cabinetry next to it hiding duct work
- the duct work in the dining room we wanted to cover
- the plumbing (toilet) pipe on the opposite side of the dining room we wanted to cover
- the chimney in the upstairs master that ran alongside a heating supply run duct
It turned out amazing and we are really happy with the results. The salvaged brick and new mortar isn’t a one-to-one match with the old stuff, but there is no way it would ever be…that chimney is over 100 years old! The expanded chimneys are such a unique architectural feature and really make the room unique, versus just cutting up some drywall to cover whatever pipes and duct work need covering. It makes the house look like there are more chimneys and although they’re not functional, they add texture, age and color to the rooms. I LOVE THEM! In the next house we fix up, it would be awesome to somehow include some old brick in every room. I wonder how Ross feels about that idea….
The weather has been so weird….umm climate change anyone? We had like 50 mph wind gusts the other night. I kept thinking of the deer hiding out in the woods for some reason! Also praying there were no humans out in that wind, of course.
I did a video tour back in November, which was very warm with temps almost to 70 degrees! Everyone was all “Yay, it’s summer again!” but I was just plain freaked out. Still am…how does it go from 70 to below freezing that quickly? Anyway, the video tour is bright and sunny (balmy) so that explains that. I’ve been meaning to post it for awhile!
I hardly ever question anything Ross is doing over at the house, but I did poke a few inquiries his way about his plans for outside. It was pretty innocent questioning because one time I tried to talk to him about when we should lay grass seed and his answer was pretty much “Don’t ask me about GRASS SEED right now.” So I just asked him…”Now that the inside is so nice…have you thought about the outside of the house at all?” And we honestly didn’t discuss it much, outside of the obvious fact that the garage needed a floor, and Ross insisted the front steps needed to be straighter and the front driveway should be redone due to bad cracking.
Of course, being a chick, I pinned a bunch of cool walkways and outdoor patios that I liked on Pinterest, and when we were in bed he would glance over at the iPad and ask if that was the look that I liked. It worked out great, because that is exactly the look we achieved with the walkways at the house and I didn’t even have to stick my nose in it! The driveways are kind of boring to me personally but those are worth a post too. Have a look!
We had a date night recently and as per usual, we used it to work on the house. At first, I held back and did some work on my laptop while Ross worked on the hex tile. However, I got bored pretty quickly and asked Ross how I could help. He said the best thing I could do is pre-cut tile to the specs he provided. When he didn’t need a half piece of the hex tile, he would draw on the tile with a permanent marker and I would cut it.
I learned a lot about cutting tile. Incorrectly, I assumed you had to slam the handle down on the tile and it would actually scratch the tile a tiny bit. Ross didn’t really notice, but eventually he came over and told me I didn’t need to slam it down but just very gently tap the tile, after it is cut. Low and behold, tapping the tile after cutting it was really slick! We were a great team and the tile looks great. I kind of appreciate chipping in and rolling up my sleeves alongside my man.
This was so much work. I can’t even count the hours Ross put in ripping up old carpet, fighting with carpet glue, sanding and coating. But I fervently believe this was the single most valuable feature we pulled out of this house, for the least amount of money. I mean, the sander was $200. It’s just the work involved – the elbow grease – that sucks so bad. Plus we had to patch areas because “somebody” had to have wider doorways that let in more light…I always further complicate things. But it was all worth it…and I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves…!