Before & After: All Fenced In

Last time I blogged, I rambled about the mundane tasks that go along with homeownership, but our list of to-do’s didn’t stop there. We had been ignoring our weed-filled brick path for months, so we finally set aside a Saturday to deal with it.

This meant lifting all of the bricks, putting down weed killer, chiseling bricks that didn’t fit the edges, and filling the gaps with sand.

When Pete took charge chiseling, I weeded, trimmed the bushes, and spray painted the lattice he built for the front of our house.

Then after that, around 6 p.m., we realized we had one last fence to remove in preparation for our new fence install. This bad boy:

About 5 hours later, this happened (doesn’t he look thrilled?):

Except it was still dark out, so we had to take an “after” shot of the concrete post in the morning. Our neighbors, who were having a birthday party in their backyard at the time, cheered us on as we finally pulled the fence post out in a state of exhausted hysteria. We thought that was the worst of it, since the other two posts we dug up weren’t so bad, but there was another post just like this one. So that’s what we ended up doing with our weeknights.

I think it was all worth it, since now we can take Betty White outside with the utmost laziness. Plus it just looks prettier.

Here are a ton of “after” shots of the yard with the fence. Harold, our lawn gnome, quickly got used to his new digs.

I felt the need to document Betty White’s first fenced-in bathroom break, but left out the photos of her going #2 (you’re welcome).

We’re pretty smitten with how good our backyard smells right now with all of the fresh cedar. It’s kind of crazy that we’ll be getting hitched back there in a little over a month.

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Homeownershit: Before & After

Part of being a homeowner means when your friends ask what you did last weekend, you begin to cringe at how ordinary your life sounds when you say it out loud. “I spent the entire weekend sweating outside while trying to improve our home instead of going to the shore.” Despite how that might be interpreted by peers, I am surprised at how much fun I have working with Pete on our home in less than ideal conditions (100+ degree weather).

One of the tasks on our to-do list was getting an affordable rain barrel (thank you, Craigslist) and putting our wasted water to work. This project isn’t quite over since the barrel still needs another coat of spray paint, but at least it’s functional. I need to take a break from spray painting for a while though, or at least until forest green nose hairs come into fashion.

Every time I take Betty White outside, I am reminded that our bilco doors are a rusty, hot mess. It has been driving. me. crazy. since we moved in a year ago. It was a simple fix, but one I just never seemed to get around to — spraying the doors with metal primer and then painting the doors with exterior Rust-Oleum.

Our shed. Dear god, our shed. This might be the ugliest eyesore on the planet, but we are stuck with it until we can afford a new one. Between the peeling door and cracked paint on the window frames, the opportunities for lead poisoning were boundless. Not to mention the green gunk that is still begging to be pressure washed.

There’s really no way to fix this thing without renting a bulldozer, but we made an attempt. Pete secured the door with a new latch and we sanded and painted the door and window frames. If you’re curious, our grass is recovering from weed killer, thus the sad brown spots.

We’re getting a fence installed in a few weeks, but we wanted to keep these trees for added privacy:

The contractor asked that we trim the trees back for up to six feet so they wouldn’t be putting any weight on the fence. Most of those branches were low-hanging and half-dead, so it was an excuse to get some more yardwork out of the way. Probably not the best activity to perform in sweltering weather, but we entertained ourselves by putting lawn bags over our heads and chasing each other with branch lassos. Pretty sure our neighbors think we’re cray cray now, if they didn’t already.

Are any of you working on DIY projects or home repairs that are consuming your free time and making you feel like a total grown-up?

Then + Now: Our Houseaversary

One year ago today, Pete and I signed the papers at a very stressful house settlement—one which we nearly walked away from. Despite some oversights by our realtor that made our first few months as homeowners pretty anxiety-ridden, it was all worth it in the end. We couldn’t be happier to have spent the past year removing rooms and rooms full of wallpaper, filling as many brown yard bags as humanly possible, and making the most of spray paint.

In less than four months, we’ll be exchanging vows in our own backyard, the only place that seemed appropriate to formalize our commitment to each other. Every time I shuffle in the kitchen to stuff my face, I am taken back to the evening when Pete got down on one knee in our home. The house isn’t perfect by any means—the ceiling cracks after a coat of fresh paint, the basement floods, and the grass is filled with weeds—but neither are we. I’m really excited for what the next year will bring and I hope to have just as many before & after photos to share this time next year.

For now, here’s a glance at the original real estate photos vs some semi-recent shots of our latest improvements.

The sunroom hasn’t changed much, but we just made it a bit more cozy for now.
The living room is probably the most dramatic change after we painted the fireplace, wood paneling, wood trim, and door (not to mention the previously yellowed, smoke-stained ceiling).
Removing the curtains and wallpaper in the dining room did a lot to open up the space and make it more airy.
The bunny wallpaper and linoleum floors in the kitchen killed. me. We made a quick fix with some spackling, coats of paint, peel and stick b&w tiles, and painted cabinets.
We’ve hung curtains since the photo (right) was taken, but it’s still less of an eyesore than before when it was covered with even more stained bunny wallpaper.
The photo (right) is a poor representation of our pet room from when we first moved in, but it can give you an idea of the lack of Thomas Kinkade wallpaper.
The upstairs guest bedroom still has a long way to go—those hollow wood closet doors need some love, the antiquated a/c unit needs to be removed, the furniture needs to be spray painted—but it’s still better than before.
The upstairs bathroom is a tough one to photograph without falling off the toilet, but we removed the stained butterfly wallpaper and replaced it with coats of grey paint to keep things simple.
Our old friend, the concrete death pool, now houses a fire pit until we can afford to update our patio.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed the mini-tour! Happy 1st houseaversary, Pete. I look forward to celebrating Cinco de Mayo-style tonight by making tacos on our grill.

Revisiting the Guest Room: Before & After

Our upstairs has been seriously neglected since we moved in this past summer, so Pete and I decided to give the guest room some much-needed attention this past month. We’ve tackled a ton of house revamping, but we have barely touched the second floor, so we set a goal for ourselves to remove the wallpaper and paint the walls by the time my parents visited (last weekend).

Here’s a peek of what we were dealing with before, and below is a glimpse of what the bedroom looks now, with Artesian Well by Martha Stewart and a shit ton of paisley. We aren’t really paisley people (in this photo, Pete is obviously the ginger and I’m Cameron from Modern Family), but perhaps our future guests will be. I spray painted the previous owner’s headboard bright yellow and we’ll be adding other bright yellow accents to tie the room together. Right now it’s way too matchy-matchy, but I’m hoping we can tone it down if we bring in some more neutrals and nix the ginormous lamp for something more metallic (I wish we could find the darn receipt from Home Goods so we could return it!).

Betty White approves of the changes we made, but we still have a lot of work to do to make it homey (like artwork on the walls and thrifty decor).

Here’s a photo of the room when we moved in, complete with the previous owner’s canopy, curtains, VCR, and stained mattress.

We have to figure out what to do with the antiquated air conditioning unit, which has a nice family of very opinionated birds living in it. We’re thinking we’ll have to turn it into a small window…not sure what other choice we’ll have. The furniture we inherited from the previous owner is a frightening shade of yellowed white, so we have a lot of spray painting in our future once the weather warms up. The closet could also use some white paint since the sad, hollow wood doors seriously bum us out.

For those of you who have a good eye for detail, you’ll notice we haven’t touched the wood paneling in the hallway since it was half-primed when we moved in. I guess that’s next on our list. I’m not sure what to do about the ceiling tiles (how difficult is it to replace ceiling tiles?), but I did appreciate the break from having to paint the ceiling with several coats of white.

Betty White was being very contemplative when I shot this in the bedroom mirror like a total sneak. She thinks we overdid it with the matching and the paisley, but she has faith that we can make it look better with a little love.

Tackling our last wallpapered room was tiresome, but it’s satisfying to know we can pack away the wallpaper steamer—unless we get incredibly ambitious and remove the wallpaper in our closets (yes, our closets).

Is anyone else guilty of making a room too match-y?

Happy Birthday, Pete: Our 2011 Year in Review!

Happy birthday, poops. Hope your 25th is just as good, if not better than your 24th. I still feel like a cougar, irregardless.

I know how much you love those “year in review” posts, so I thought it might be nice to highlight some of my favorite “before and after” projects we tackled together around the house in 2011. Can’t wait to see what we’ll be saying this time next year about our DIY accomplishments. Also can’t wait to be your Mrs. (Just sayin’.)

Let’s start with the outside, where two huge trees and endless hedges were blocking the view of our house, making us drive past it nearly every time (not that I don’t still do that). I think it looks a lot prettier now that you can actually see our front yard, where we hope to have raised beds once Spring rolls around.

Then there’s this situation, which I still have to resolve by laying my bricks straighter since I was rushing (Pete did a good job with his).

Tada! The brick paths looking a lot less sad

Our sunroom was looking a little unfortunate when we first moved in, since we used it mostly to store lawn equipment and trash bags. I think it’s looking a lot cozier these days:

The Rocking chair revamp might be one of my favorite furniture makeovers from this past year…I love seeing it so bright and cheerful on our sunroom porch.

Here’s a look at our living room when had our first walk-through of the house. I instantly wanted to paint the fireplace white, and although most of my family thought I was crazy for it, I think it turned out pretty nice:

I still can’t believe how much painting we tackled the month before moving in, I wish I still had that kind of energy now.

The dining room used to be a bit of a downer, but with a little love from the wallpaper steamer and a fresh coat of paint, it’s looking better already:

Mmm, yellow.

Remember how smoke-stained our kitchen looked when we had our first walk-through? It looks so much better now without that bunny wallpaper, the new checkered floors we installed, and the white painted cabinets, all of which we did on our own within the first few months of moving in.

This one is lacking a “before” photo, but here’s a glimpse at the chalkboard door in our kitchen, which we try to always update with a weekly menu to avoid endless “what do YOU want for dinner?” ramblings.

This is what our office/critter room looked like when we first moved in. Eek. It’s still a work in progress, and I keep forgetting to take a photo since we’ve added a desk and organized things, but here’s a look at the lack of wallpaper and avocado paint job:

That’s Willie Nelson, our pet bunny. You can’t tell from this photo, but there’s also two other bunnies (Applesauce and Cadbury) and a chinchilla (Maude) nearby.

Here’s our bedroom when we first moved in…we even inherited these curtains from the previous owner. We haven’t taken a recent photo of our bedroom with our new curtains and artwork, but here’s a look at the freshly-painted walls:

Yay, mustard and grey accents galore!

The upstairs bathroom before & after is a pretty simple one as of right now, but it still makes me happy not to see those butterflies when I shower.

These are just some of my favorite before & after photos from the past six months of living in our first house together. I can’t wait to spruce up the yard to make it nice for our wedding and to see how we change the upstairs, since we’ve barely touched it. Anyway, I hope you have an amazing 25th birthday and consider myself the luckiest for being able to share it with you.

Upstairs Bathroom Makeover: Before & After

As you may recall, one of the goals I recently set for myself was to finally get around to painting the upstairs bathroom now that the wallpaper has been down for a few months. The pink butterfly wallpaper was painfully thick (not to mention hideous) and the hardest to remove so far. I spent many sweat-induced summer afternoons with a wallpaper steamer, cursing at the butterflies for being so impossible. Thankfully, there are no signs of butterflies in our upstairs bathroom anymore.

Here’s a look at a before and after of the progress made so far in the bathroom as of today. Eventually we’d like to install black and white honeycomb tiling, but for now we are starting off with budget-friendly baby steps. I’m excited to be able to finally hang our bathroom hardware so our toilet paper will have a home (I realize this is very geeky). This is the bathroom we use every day because the shower is much preferred, so it’ll be nice to see something other than primed walls.

This is a before and after of the bathroom when we first moved in and a shot of it from today. We’ll need to get a new toilet seat and a curtain to snazz it up a bit, but for now, I’m just happy to have fresh paint on the walls.

I definitely love the chinchilla gray by Martha Stewart—I’ve been struggling to find a gray I’m 100% happy with (since the other grays we’ve used so far have turned out more blue and mauve), so I’m really happy with the “true”-ness of it. Just as a side note, these photos were taken at sunset, so the gray is much brighter and lighter during the day.

Has anyone else been tackling home renovations projects now that the weather outside is getting frightful (aka cold enough to make me mumble obscenities like a crazy person whenever I have to walk the dogs)? Also, has anyone installed honeycomb tiling before? Should we leave it to the professionals, or is it something we can DIY on our own?

Wood Paneling, Wallpaper and Other Woes

When most people visit our house, they don’t quite realize that we have a second floor, which can be accessed through the kitchen (right in the corner nook by the oven of all places). I haven’t really shared a great deal of photos from our upstairs, mostly because it remains untouched, apart from using the closets as storage. I’ve been taking a long break from home renovations, mostly because the upstairs overwhelms me. Pete and I dove headfirst into removing wallpaper, patching, priming, painting, and decorating the downstairs for the most part, but the wood paneling upstairs is still looming. Now that the winter months are quickly approaching, I fully intend on hibernating as much as possible while attacking the upstairs with whatever free time I have.

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Granted I’m a bit of a 70s girl at heart, the concept of wood paneling has been growing me now that I’ve been seeing such successful painted makeovers. Since we don’t currently have the funds to strip the paneling and replace it with drywall, we have to do the next best thing and paint it. I can hear some of the readers out there gasping at the idea of painting the wood paneling already (I may or may not be talking to my brother here).

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For some reason, when we tell people our plans to paint the wood paneling they react one of two ways—they either instruct us to rip it down and put drywall up ASAP or they tell us to keep it as is. You’d be surprised by how many people say things like “you should never paint good wood.” Chiiiiild, if this were “good wood” or even real wood, I would think twice, but our paneling resembles wood as much as Cheetos resemble cheese. I’ll admit, I really like the texture the painted paneling lends to our living room walls, but I prefer wood on the floors over the walls any day. That being said, paneling can give a home a more farmhouse feel if it’s decorated tastefully.

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My favorite is when people say “You can never go back once you paint it!” as if I would like to travel back to 1971 to the happier days when people had fake wood paneling installed in their dens. Le sigh. With a little style and personality, wood paneling can go a long way (right), but definitely not in its current state. See our above hallway for example (left), which was photographed when we first moved in. We have since removed the hallway carpet runner, but you get the idea. It is like a neverending hallway of wooden misfortunes. I’m sure if Stanley Kubrick had known horror like this existed, he would’ve definitely made a few set revisions to the 1980s classic, The Shining.

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I may or may not have to start making poorly Photoshopped gifs to illustrate my points from now on. Also, I am really sad that Photoshop no longer offers “Chiller” as a font option.

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Our upstairs bathroom (seen on the left, as photographed when we moved in, complete with a half-used Kleenex box from the mid 90s) is now wallpaper-less, primed and ready for some paint. I’m quite drawn to the shade of “Chinchilla” by Martha Stewart (right), both because of the pretty grey shade and the fabulous furry critter name. We get a lot of natural light in that bathroom, so I think it would look quite nice.

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We removed the carpet pieces on the stairs (left), but for the most part, our staircase still looks the same. I’m thinking we will prime the walls white and if it looks good as is, we can just give it a few coats of paint and call it a day (like in the photo on the right).

The wood room will have to stay as is per my brother’s request until their Thanksgiving visit comes to a close, but I’ve been ooh-ing and aah-ing over the bright painted paneling in the photos below. The slanted ceilings and insides of the closets are even paneled, which are all distracting from the real wood on the floors. Too. Much. Wood. And don’t worry, these photos were taken when we moved in and hadn’t thrown out the previous owner’s curtains..I promise those aren’t ours.

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Here’s another photo from when we moved in and had yet to remove the old rugs, curtains, etc. I was really psyched to keep these vintage horse curtains, but when I put them in the washer on low, they totally disintegrated. Sad face. They were really smoke-stained and I knew washing them by hand wouldn’t do the trick, but I’m very sad to see them go. That depressing rug, on the other hand, couldn’t have gotten out the door faster.

Here’s the upstairs guest bedroom from when we moved in. We cleared out everything except the furniture, which I intend on spray painting white. We are going to keep the bed as a four poster, minus the canopy, with more modern bedding (not that there’s anything wrong with shabby chic florals…).

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Here are some inspiration pictures I gathered for the upstairs guest bedroom–I like the idea of painting the bed a pop of color, but I will likely stick with white and accessorize with patterned pillows and bedding. Pete seems to be on board with these ideas, so I’m hoping he’ll like the final product. If not, we’ll just have to buy more paint, I suppose.

Did any of you have to conquer endless wood paneling and wallpaper renovations?