Friday, September 30, 2011


Before Zach started school, he decided he wanted me to learn how to cut his hair, as a way to save money. When I mentioned I could cut it with a Flowbee, he got a little scared.

If you don't know what a Flowbee is, you obviously didn't watch a lot of infomercials in the 80s, or have one growing up, like I did. Fortunately, being a girl with very long hair, it was never used on me. My two brothers, on the other hand, had their hair cut with this thing for years. Somewhere along the way the original Flowbee was lost, but both my brother and dad bought new ones. Yes, my family has owned not one, but three Flowbees.

So I borrowed one of these Flowbees for Zach's first home haircut...

I think it turned out pretty well...although I need to work on my fade.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Guest Bathroom

Our guest bathroom has gone from bright lime sherbet to Gentle Tide (left over from painting the living room). The before pictures are a little dark, but I assure you there was nothing dark about the paint color.



No major changes in here, just paint and a few already owned accessories. We did add another towel bar next to the tub (which we took from the master bath) and remounted the one that was already there lower on the wall.

You may have noticed one other tiny's like playing a spot-the-difference game. Do you give up? I removed the drawer handle from the middle drawer, which is really not a drawer at all, but a false drawer front. I have a thing about putting hardware on false seems wrong, although it's totally a personal preference thing. Someone always ends up pulling on it, only to be disappointed by the lack of drawer action. So I removed the handle and filled the holes in with wood putty before giving the cabinets a fresh coat of white paint. I also patched a small hole in the pocket door, which separates the toilet and tub from the sink area. A hole that lined up just right with the towel ring. (whoever installed the towel ring drilled through the pocket door).

Fortunately, the vanity top and cabinets are in decent shape, since it's not in our budget to replace them. However, the vanity top was splattered with green paint from the walls and what looked like red nail polish and yellow craft paint. Luckily, I was able to completely remove all the marks with a window scraper. If you don't have one of these things you should get one, they're super handy to have around.

We hung a cabinet above the toilet (the same one we've had since living in our first apartment), and hope to get some wall art up soon.

Eventually we're going to move the faucet from the master bath into the guest bath, but that will have to wait until we're ready to work on the master bathroom.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wheat Bread for the Walls

The kitchen walls are about half way painted in a lovely shade of greige called Wheat Bread, by Behr. (Or as Zach likes to call it, Wheat Brew.)

But before we could paint, we had to first remove the built-in intercom/radio from the wall, rewire a light fixture, then patch, re-texture, and prime the drywall. Whew.


After removing the radio and running wire for light

Patched and primed and ready for paint


We plan to carry this color into the dining room/office and front entryway, and are playing around with the idea of going one shade lighter for the bedrooms.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Whitewash and a bit of the Blues

I've been doing a lot of painting lately. (Zach has been providing moral support, taking time during his study breaks to tell me how good the paint job looks). If you remember from some of the before pictures, there was a lot of brown going on in the kitchen and living room. The doors and trim in the rest of the house are white, but the doors and trim in the living room and paneling in the kitchen were unpainted.  It took two coats of primer and two coats of white semi-gloss to brighten up the trim and doors (I used Bleached Linen by Behr). There's something very discouraging about brushing on that first coat of paint and knowing you will have to repeat the process three more times. But it was worth it and made a huge difference in the space.



We painted the living room the same color as our last, since we had nearly a gallon of paint left over, and still really liked the color. The color is Gentle Tide by Glidden (which has been discontinued, but we've hung on to the paint swatch and they'll still mix it for you at the store). Thankfully the paneling in the living room had been painted, so no priming was needed, but it was still a huge pain to make sure the paint got into all the grooves.

More paint progress to come, all in my predictable color palette of "greige", blue, and green.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Master bedroom progress

If you remember from the bedroom inspiration board I shared, I wanted an upholstered headboard with wooden trim. I wasn't set on the color of the wood, but knew I wanted something with curvy, simple lines that I could upholster myself.


And so began the search. Naively, I thought it would be pretty easy to find what I was looking for. After all, there's a ton of secondhand French provincial furniture out there. We checked craigslist, Goodwill, two antique malls and a flea market, all without success. I did spot a few headboards that had the right shape, but none were queen size. I kept checking craigslist, convinced something would turn up. And I finally found something that would work....except for the $400 price tag. Why the high price? It was the Charlotte headboard from Pottery Barn, which retails for $500 (plus $75 shipping), and according to the seller had never been used.


Although it wasn't a terrible price, we figured it would probably cost about the same to buy a new already-upholstered headboard. So I decided to take a chance and offered the seller $200 for it, an offer which they politely declined. By now you're probably wondering why I'm giving you so many details about a headboard I didn't buy, but there's a happy ending to this story. Three weeks later the headboard was reposted on craigslist with a lower price of $325. I made an offer a bit higher than my last, and ended up getting the headboard and a metal frame for $285!

We still need to get nightstands and choose a paint color for the walls...oh and patch the hole left from the intercom speaker.

We had to make a few changes to the frame and headboard; we replaced the regular casters with adjustable ones, to raise the height a little, and drilled new holes in the headboard to attach the frame. I also hemmed our bed skirt a few inches. I'd eventually like to add an upholstered panel, but haven't quite decided how I want it to look.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Friendly Bathroom Remodel

Over the summer Zach had the opportunity to do a little home renovation for our friends Kristin and Brian. Kristin and Brian have a lovely home, but wanted to add a little more style to the vanity in their master bath. Zach took a couple before and after photos of the project with his iPhone.



Kristin chose all of the materials and Zach got to work tiling the wall, trimming out the mirrors, and building two custom shelves. I helped by staining the wood for the mirrors and shelves and grouting the tile. We hope they enjoy their new master bath as much as we enjoyed working on it for them!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Garage door openers

Part of the reason for cleaning out the garage, along with making the space more usable for the rest of our home improvement projects, was so we could park our cars in it. Unfortunately, neither of the doors had a garage door opener. A standard garage door opener runs about $150, so we were looking at spending at least $300. During a trip to Habitat for Humanity Restore, Zach spotted one for just $50! I found a second one on Amazon Warehouse Deals for just over $100, getting us two garage door openers for the price of one.

Since we're in the middle of the kitchen remodel and Zach has started school, we decided to hire out most of the installation (we used Sears). And since we saved so much money on the openers, we were still within our budget.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Baby gifts

My dear friend Bethany and her charming husband Sam are having a baby girl! Bethany lives in England but made a trip back home to Texas for a baby shower. I broke in my new craft space and made her a nursing cover, burp cloth, bib, and blanket. (Thanks to Jenn for sharing all these patterns). I used cotton prints in gray and yellow as well as a polka-dot flannel.

The bib and blanket both have flower shaped cut-outs, playing off the flower shapes in the gray fabric.

A cute and easy gift wrap idea: string a spool of thread on a ribbon for a fun and reusable embellishment.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Climate change

We have a digital thermostat that controls our air conditioner, which until recently was on the wall in our living room. Although we don't have a definitive floor plan for the living room yet, we decided the thermostat would be better off  in the hallway, which would open up the wall in the living room for taller pieces of furniture, which would otherwise block the thermostat.

I wasn't sure what I'd find when I removed the thermostat from the wall, but was relieved to see that there was only a small hole in the paneling for the wires to pass through. I loosened the wires from the thermostat then drilled a new hole in the hallway wall.

Getting the wires from the living room through the small hole in the hallway would have been a challenge if it weren't for the convenient placement of the AC return. I opened up the return cover and (after thoroughly checking for bugs with a flashlight) squeezed myself inside the wall, where I pulled the wires out of the living room wall and fed them through the new hole in the hallway.

I rewired and mounted the thermostat in the hallway and patched the hole in the living room with a little wood putty.

Although our primary motivations for moving the thermostat were for looks/furniture placement, there's also a practical benefit of the new location. The best placement for a thermostat is often near an AC return. This is because the air at the return will be more representative of the air in the home, as the air is pulled in from around the home, and should result in a more consistent temperature. It also makes sense in our house since we only have one AC return, and it's in the center of the house.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Kitchen progress

As promised, here are some pictures of the progress we've made in the kitchen. The photo below was taken after installing two of the counters and before removing the bar.

After removing the bar...

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Kitchen prep

Before we could install the counter tops, we had a few problems to tackle, including wiring, drywall repair, and nest removal. We weren't surprised about the wiring and drywall, but were not expecting to find what looked like a bird nest behind the wall. After a little investigating, we found an abandoned nest in the eaves of the attic, right above this spot, and think pieces from the nest must have fallen down into the wall. It was pretty easy to clean out; I just used our shop vac and vacuumed it up.

The second problem was the light above the kitchen sink. When we moved in there was no light fixture above the sink, just a hole and a couple of wires capped with wire nuts.  But the repair involved more than just installing a new light fixture, because the light above the sink was on the same switch as the track lighting on the ceiling. In other words, if you wanted the light above the sink to be on, you had to turn on all the lights in the kitchen.

The hole in the photo below was actually made a few weeks ago when Zach removed the main control box for the radio/intercom system in our house. Although it still worked, the sound quality was pretty terrible, not to mention how unnecessary an intercom system is in a 1900 sq ft home, where you can easily hear someone talking from the other end of the house. And that tangle of wires to the right is where the switch for the kitchen lights was (this is the wall in our breakfast nook that separates the kitchen from the laundry room).

Zach got up in the attic, no small feat during a Texas summer, and ran new cable. Now the light above the sink has it's own switch, just to the left of the sink.

Once all the wiring was done, we repaired the drywall, since it was in pretty bad shape when we pulled off the laminate backsplash. (you can see where we patched it with the purple drywall). I take full credit for the slightly wonky drywall work, but since we'll be tiling over it, it didn't need to be perfect.

The sink we bought is designed to sit on top of the counters, but we decided to undermount it, which meant it had to be installed before the counters went in. Zach cut out part of the base cabinet to accommodate the sink apron, and reinforced the cabinet sides to hold the weight of the sink.  The faucet is a pull-down model by Price Pfister, bought on Amazon.  We've primed the drywall and installed the counters on either side of the sink. We'll post some pictures soon.

So what's left on the kitchen to-do list?

  • Remove the remaining laminate countertops
  • Install the rest of the the butcher block
  • Tile the backsplash
  • Install light fixture above sink
  • Trim out cabinet fronts
  • Prime and paint cabinets
  • Replace cabinet hardware
  • Paint walls
  • Make homemade pasta, my promise to Zach once the kitchen is finished