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?

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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?

Bathroom Makeover Adventures

You probably can’t really tell a huge difference from the before/after photo above, but yesterday I spent literally all day painting it white. After three coats of primer and three coats of white paint on the ceiling and walls, the room is finally looking a bit more clean. That being said, we still need to address the lack of hardware (we tossed the previous owner’s towel racks and toilet paper holder), vinyl floors, depressing mirror and the overdose of blue toiletries. The hardware is something we can do within the week, but everything else will have to be pushed until a proper bathroom revamp is within our budget. As a side note, don’t judge Betty White for the face she’s making above…it’s not very flattering (I think I caught her mid lip-lick).

The worst part of the bathroom was the ceiling—I snapped a photo just as I started priming so you could see the difference between the white primer and the yellow stains. All of the ceilings in the house looked like that because the previous homeowner was a smoker and everything just yellowed overtime I suppose. Note to self: scrape the paint off the light fixture and stop being so messy!

Pete’s mom came over and primed four of our downstairs doors (our bedroom door, the hallway closet door, our bathroom door and the critter/computer room door), which smelled of tar when she sanded them. I still have to paint them white, which I’m hoping to finish up this week. We’d like to eventually revamp the hollow, soon-to-be white doors by doing something like this, which will be a fun DIY project and give our doors a fresh face without breaking the bank. They are also in need of new hardware, which you can tell by the photo below (one side is gold, one side is silver…both are pretty darn hideous).

Betty White was not a happy camper today when we had our very first earthquake experience together. I was in the upstairs bathroom, standing on a ladder with a wallpaper steamer in my hand while trying to remove the butterfly wallpaper when I felt a little tremble. I hopped off the ladder and convinced myself that one of the following had happened:

A.) We live across from a train station, so I thought perhaps that was how much the house shook upstairs when the train went by since I could hear it passing. I rarely go upstairs (thus the absence of upstairs photos on my blog), so I thought the house might just shake upstairs when the trains pass.

B.) The previous homeowner’s dead husband’s ghost came back to haunt my ass and tell me how much he loved the pink, butterfly wallpaper and that I was making a huge mistake by ripping it down.

C.) That the construction crew outside of my window had jackhammered so hard that the house was going to crumble apart with me in it.

Once the rumbling grew to the point of the shower doors clattering back and forth and falling off their tracks, I realized none of the above were realistic options. All of the neighborhood dogs started howling and Betty White ran to the bathroom and barked at me until I scooped her up. I immediately went back into elementary school, emergency practice mode and remembered that I should probably be standing under a doorway, which is where I clutched the walls and Betty White until the shaking stopped.

I was too scared to look outside because I was worried that there would be pint-sized demons fleeing from a hole in our backyard (someone tell me I’m not the only person who loves the movie The Gate), so instead I reacted like the rest of the East Coast dwellers and freaked out via Twitter and Facebook.

Where were you during the earthquake and how long did it take before you realized the rest of your friends were already Tweeting about it?

Making our House a Home

Remember Admiral Ackbar!? He’s back to show you what we’ve been up to with our most recent home renovations. I tackled the last of the wallpaper removal on the bottom floor (apart from the wallpaper in the closets…don’t get me started), which means no more smoke-stained, ivy wallpaper to greet us outside of the bedroom, bathroom and critter room. Hopefully next time you see this space, the wood doors will be painted white, which I think will really help make the tiny hallway look more open.

I chose the blue-grey color we painted our living room to bring into the small hallway to try to carry the color throughout the house. Painting the teensy space between the two doors was not a good time—I prefer to paint an entire bedroom of walls over trim any day. We’re not sure what to do about the light between the two doors…seems very random and pointless, but for now it will stay I suppose.

Another project I can now check off my to-do list is painting a chalkboard door in our kitchen. This project was incredibly easy and brings a lot of personality to the kitchen. I primed the door with some of the previous homeowner’s leftover blue paint in the basement and then gave it three coats of chalkboard paint with a roller. Once it dries, you have to rub chalk on its side on the surface of the door to sort of seal it.

I figured we could use the door to jot down our weekly menu or grocery lists (or to just write nerdy notes to each other). This way we can avoid the inevitable “What do you want to have for dinner? I don’t know, what do you want for dinner?” ten minute, back-and-forth conversation.

I painted the back of the door so we have more room for doodling and staying organized, but I managed to rip part of the paint off by pressing too hard with the chalk (thus the “uh oh”). So for anyone else who wants to try this at home, I suggest being pretty delicate when writing on the chalkboard surface instead of attacking it with the sharpest end of the chalk. Lesson learned!

Hopefully next time I write a home renovation post, it will be about removing the wallpaper in the upstairs portion of our home (I need to get motivated, stat)!