Finale Tour! Finally….the remodel (rebuild!) is complete!

We have everything just how we want it — so I snapped some pics and took a video of the final house presentation –> basically this is as good as it gets…WE ARE DONE!! We told our realtor slash friend “It’s been three years of blood, sweat and arguments, but we’re done.” Truly, we didn’t fight about it THAT MUCH. It was mostly the following points of contention:

I didn’t want to try concrete counters…because it was pretty experimental…we weren’t sure what it would look like at the end of the day, but they look amazing! I admit it, I was wrong for not wanting to do concrete counters.

Also, I didn’t want Ross to paint the leaded glass door for the upstairs bath. It was a beautiful solid wood door, and in my head I pictured a polished wood door with leaded glass warming up all that cold, sterile white tile. However, now that it is in and it’s painted white, the leaded glass is really the main focal point, and mimics the black and white patterns all over the tile, and the natural wood might have detracted from the leaded glass. In all honesty, either wood or white, it doesn’t really matter, the door itself is just killer cool. It’s stupid shit like that that we fought about that doesn’t even impact the house.

Ross wasn’t a big fan of my “hello” decal idea on the door — which I think adds huge curb appeal and gives the house personality. Now that it’s done, he admits it looks great — maybe he thought it was going to look like a small sticker on the door or something, but I actually painted it, so it doesn’t look cheap.

Ross wanted to build some sort of shelving or storage built-ins under the stairs, until I nixed the idea. Now that it’s nice and open under there, with hooks and a bench, he likes it and is glad we didn’t do all the additional work on that area.

Still on my list — I want to do side by side comparisons of areas that were overhauled in a big way, like the bathrooms, the staircase, the kitchen cabinets, the pantry corner, the grossly-carpeted living room…and the master with new walk-in closet of course!

I also have a concrete countertop post sitting in my drafts. I kind of feel like Ross should write it, but he refuses, so that’s why it’s been pending so long…I’m hoping he fires up the laptop and writes it himself. I’m going to sound like an idiot because I didn’t touch those counters, haha.

Here are the pictures of our fourth baby…and a walk-through video of course. It’s really satisfying to see it finished!! #alloureggs

Notice my “hello” decal on the door!

Shutters + window boxes added a lot!

We added some patio furniture to the back patio and our fire pit

The living room looks a lot bigger with furniture in it

The rugs and table fit perfectly, and it was just lucky because I bought them a long time ago

The downstairs bedroom is right off the dining room

The downstairs bathroom is now off the back hallway; we moved the original door which led into the kitchen

This built-in we put together from an antique buffet; it could function as a pantry to store baking goods or could store dishware.

We added a farmhouse table instead of an island – we definitely needed more “workspace” in the kitchen but didn’t want to close it in any more with more wall cabinets

I was nervous about breaking the “kitchen work triangle” design concept but it totally works!

I love the space under the stairs – the possibilities are endless!

We used Edison bulbs on the staircase fixture to [hopefully] add a little industrial look

That leaded glass door is a surprise gem at the end of the hallway!

We debated adding more storage to the right of the sink, but I liked how spacious it was and figured someone could always add a stand/shelf if they want later on

The opposite side of the upstairs bath has a clawfoot tub

I staged the second upstairs bedroom as a nursery

The shiplap makes the master super cozy and cottage-like

The walk-in closet space was the extra corner left over after the bathroom expansion

We expanded the chimney in the master in order to cover up the ductwork/chaseway that we didn’t just want to block out with drywall


Staircase refinishing

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:

This is what the staircase looked like after pulling off carpet and a million staples

The staircase when we started

Painting the riser and spindles

First coat of primer on

The finished staircase

Progress update!

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).

All that’s left is window flower boxes and shutters (I have some big flower pots full of annuals for the stairs)


Understair storage

First coat of primer on the stairs

Upstairs hallway (bathroom door at the end of the hall)

Upstairs bathroom

Upstairs bath with clawfoot tub

Master bedroom upstairs

Second upstairs bedroom

Third bedroom downstairs

Dining room

Living room

View of the kitchen from the dining area

View of the kitchen from the rear of the home

View of the kitchen from the entryway hallway

Downstairs bath (this is on your right when you come in the back door)

Landscaping plan for the entire yard (thanks Lowe’s!)

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.

The exterior just needs shutters and we may do window boxes for flowers too

We did a square flower bed in the front yard with some pink iris from our house and some yellow flowers in front

I planted some of the ‘rosey glow’ barberry at our house, next to my hasta, but it’s hard to see for the weeds :/

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.

George was promoted to lead landscaper 😉

George was really trying to dig but needed our help to loosen the dirt first

George and Julius helped water the plants, aka played in the water 😉

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.

We transplanted lily from our house into an “L” shape along the garage and neighbor’s property line

Julius loves to find rocks lately and kept throwing mulch pieces into a bucket of water –kept him busy though!

Look at that guy! I just love my baby boy. <3

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!

We followed the Lowe’s design pretty closely

The yellow smoke bush I substituted for the cypress because it was so tall already

The boys were so proud of their hard work!

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.

The sedum ground cover we took from one of our flower beds at home and used it over at the project house

George put on his work gloves and helped momma split the lilys up. Yes, my trunk is now filthy.

We piled up sedum in the boys’ Sears wagon

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!

We transplanted daylilys for the opposite side of the patio

It’s a mix of orange and red daylilys and there may even be a random pink iris in there (per Ross)

Amazing built-in from Bauer Brothers (pantry project)

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.

See that dark sliver of pantry?

Where’s this pantry that you speak of…

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.

Cut in half (eeek!) and painted

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’s the perfect size for this smaller kitchen

Bottom piece and countertop installed

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.

Getting the top installed was a bitch! I burst a blood vessel in my eye holding it up!

We’re using the original hardware

Corbel cut and installed

Finished built-in!

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!

Refinished antique dresser

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!

Finished dresser in the trailer

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.

The pink paint (underneath) and cinnamon roll handles

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.

As I brushed the first coat on

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.

Antique-ing with acrylic paint on cardboard

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.

Close up of my paint job

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!

Finished dresser sans handles

Finished dresser!!

Chimney expansion (to cover chaseway)

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:

  1. the kitchen chimney that had horrible yellow cabinetry next to it hiding duct work
  2. the duct work in the dining room we wanted to cover
  3. the plumbing (toilet) pipe on the opposite side of the dining room we wanted to cover
  4. 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….

Taking out the corner pieces of the kitchen chimney so we could make it longer/wider

Longer/wider brick to cover the chaseway

Slow-going piecing one brick in at a time

Almost finished – just the top brick remaining, to reconcile with the ceiling

The finished kitchen chimney – looks like it was meant to be!

Before and after! I would never cook anything in the kitchen on the left…gross


Progress Update #5!

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!

Ross installing our fire detectors in the dining room

Walking into the downstairs bedroom which is right off the dining room

View from the downstairs bedroom into the dining room

Entry staircase we need to refinish and under-stair storage -we are storing brick there temporarily!

Kitchen – we have appliances and that’s about it!

The downstairs bathroom – can’t believe it is the same room as before…INCREDIBLE!

Downstairs living room (those are brand-new toilets in the boxes, ha!)

The upstairs bathroom is such a gem! I LOVE how it turned out…even better than in my head.

The sink-side of the upstairs bathroom with new frosted window

The upstairs hallway with refinished floors and new staircase window to let light in


The upstairs master is both my and Ross’ favorite room…it’s super cozy and we love the chimney

We stole some space from the bedroom for a large walk-in closet (not original to these old homes!)

We haven’t painted the second upstairs bedroom but I’m going to stage it like a nursery

This closet is original! And small! Perfect for a nursery.

Onto the outside work.

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!


Our new front driveway spans all the way to the back patio so you can park on the side of the house and go in the back door

New garage driveway

New garage driveway

Future walking path from the house to the garage

Future walking path from the house to the garage

Making the pattern on the concrete walkway with a stencil

Making the pattern on the concrete walkway with a stencil

Patio by the back door

Patio by the back door

Rustoleum concrete stain

Rustoleum concrete stain

Backyard patio

Backyard patio

Backyard walkway completed

Backyard walkway completed

Putting subway tile and hex tile in each bathroom

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.

Using the tile cutter

Using the tile cutter

We cut a sheet at a time

We cut a sheet at a time

1/4 x 3/16 V-Notch Pro Trowel and tile adhesive

1/4 x 3/16 V-Notch Pro Trowel and tile adhesive

We installed 1/4 in. Georgia Pacific DensShield on the floor and 1/2 in. on the wall

We installed 1/4 in. Georgia Pacific DensShield on the floor and 1/2 in. on the wall

Hex tile being installed in the downstairs bath

Hex tile being installed in the downstairs bath

Downstairs bath hex tile finished

Downstairs bath hex tile finished

View of the bath from the downstairs hallway

View of the bath from the downstairs hallway

Subway tile being installed on the walls and shower!

Subway tile being installed on the walls and shower!