Tag Archives: home improvement

My First Home DIY Project

21 Feb

Good morning! 

When Zach and I bought our home last summer, it was pretty much move-in ready. We liked the paint colors and general decor of the house, so we just moved our stuff and started living there. Despite having a lot of ideas of things we wanted to do eventually, we agreed with could live with the house as is — with one major exception: The downstairs/guest bathroom. 

downstairs bath 1

This is actually the only photo I have of the bathroom in (some of) it’s former glory. The previous owners were kind (?) enough to also leave the fishing-themed shower curtain and garbage can, which you can see from this photo I replaced promptly. Also, that cabinet above the toilet was just — odd. I’m pretty sure that the previous owners re-did the kitchen and this cabinet was left over. It was very awkward in the small space. 

The above picture was taken as I was prepping to remove the wallpaper. I used a steamer (as you can see above) to remove it. It was very slow going. I swear, they used some sort of industrial bathroom-strength wallpaper glue on that wallpaper. It took me a whole day to remove one wall, and then an entire day to do the other wall. Next, I removed and painted the baseboards and chair rail, and painted the trim around the door. Then, the bathroom stayed like that for about…5 months. 

Finally, about a week or so ago, we bought the paint and started painting the walls: 

 

Painting progress

Painting progress

When I painted the trim, I used white Valspar paint + primer that we had in the basement. When we decided on the main colors for above and below the chair rail, I decided to use a light grey above and a darker grey below. Well, lesson learned: Always go a shade or two darker than what you think you will need to use. The “grey” color above the chair rail looks identical to the white trim and white ceiling (I think it comes through a little more grey here. In person, there is no difference). Here’s how it looked in progress after I painted below the chair rail: 

bathroom edit 2

 

I’ve never painted a whole room myself before, so I was really worried about the splotchy-ness of the paint, but I was told to relax, it would look better when it was dry and it did! Before I painted, Zach took down the eyesore of a cabinet, and then last night he hung some beautiful white floating shelves. Here is the finished product: 

bathroom done 2 edit

 

I bought a few accent pieces at Target last night — that cute yellow bowl (holding cotton balls) and that yellow candle (smells SO good). Despite sticking to the yellow/grey theme, I love the pop of green with the towel. I’ll probably add a blue one too. I also hung a couple prints from our wedding. This one reads “This will be the best day ever”. 

bathroom done 3 edit

This print reads: “We are so glad you are here” –  Zach said, “We are so glad you’re in the bathroom!?” — he’s a joker. But I wanted the guest bath to feel warm and welcoming to guests! Hopefully nobody else takes it that way 🙂 

bathroom done 4 edit

 

..and a shot of the shower curtain, which was a wedding gift and I love. 

I’m so happy with how it turned out! The floating shelves are functional, but so much better looking than that bulky cabinet. The only thing I’m regretting right now is not buying a hand towel/bath towel in this design last night at Target: 

target towel

 

…but Zach agrees it would fit perfectly so we’re planning to go back and get it this weekend. I’m so, so pleased with how this little project turned out. I have always wanted to be a person who does her own home projects. I realize this is just a small one, but hopefully we’ll branch out to larger projects soon. I’d love to do a backsplash in the kitchen! 

Question of the Day: 
Do you like doing home repairs? 

 

A Spring-Like Weekend

13 Jan

We had amazing weather this weekend, and I really took advantage of it.

Yes, we take walks in the cemetery.

Yes, we take walks in the cemetery.

I think I mentioned here before that the one problem with our new house was the lack of sidewalks around the neighborhood. Lucky for Frank, we’ve figured out a solution. It turns out that there is an entrance to the Spring Hill cemetery only half a mile from our house, so we’ve been taking advantage of it every time we get the chance. The cemetery is huge and has lots of hills, so it’s perfect for long walks. It may seem kind of weird to walk in a cemetery, but it’s actually very peaceful and seems to be a popular route for walkers (there are lots of garbage cans for Frank’s waste bags). Don’t worry, we’re very respectful and stick to the walking paths.

Frank certainly enjoyed it. When he yawns, it means he's having a good time.

Frank certainly enjoyed it. When he yawns, it means he’s having a good time.

After our walk, I got to work on this weekend’s January Cure challenge: Tackling the kitchen. As it turns out, the kitchen was the part of the house that I picked for my ‘big’ goal for the challenge, so I was excited to get to work. I started by moving everything from the counter-tops to the dining room table:

photo 1 (4)

 

Then I got to work scrubbing the counter-tops, cleaning out the fridge and wiping down the cabinet fronts. Once the initial scrub was done, I re-organized everything on the counter-tops and re-organized the inside of the cabinets. Ok, you know how to clean a kitchen so I won’t go into too many details. Here’s the finished product:

photo 2 (4)photo 4 (1)

The funny thing is, I know how to clean a kitchen too, but it’s incredible how dirty a kitchen can get when you only “surface” clean it. I definitely will keep this in mind next time I do my daily kitchen cleaning. The worst part was the refrigerator — wow. After this challenge is over, I’m going to make a list of things that need to be done daily, weekly, monthly and annually — that refrigerator is going on the monthly list. I guess you just don’t notice  how icky it gets until you take everything out and start scrubbing. After all was said and done, I got a smile on my face every time I walked into the kitchen. I love having a clean home!

Now that the kitchen has been tackled, I need to get another “big” project for the remainder of the challenge, so I’ve decided to tackle our storage spaces. We have a pantry located directly outside of the kitchen that has become a dumping ground, and despite having shelves in our basement, everything is just tossed down there. So my goal is to get those spaces under control. I think once all is said and done, this challenge is going to make such an improvement on our home.

The other task for this weekend was to shop for ingredients and make a nice meal. I put that off to do sometime this week, because Zach wanted to get out of the house for dinner last night.

The weather this weekend was top notch in Huntington. I mentioned our Saturday walk (I wore capris and a light jacket!) and then on Sunday, I had a training run planned with a few friends. I wore a running skirt and a light jacket and felt great the whole time. Yay for nice weather in the middle of winter! Frank went with me on the run:

photo 2 (3)

 

He’s not the best training run partner, but I know he appreciated the exercise. So far, half marathon training is going super well, so I’m grateful for that. After the training run, my healthy and productive weekend gave way to a dinner out (hot wings – yum) and some couch time with the husband and The Golden Globes.

Question of the Day:
How was your weekend? 

 

Homebody: My January Cure

6 Jan

In an effort to branch out more with blogging, I’d like to include more home content here. As a new homeowner, I’m interested in and participating in more home improvement projects. Zach and I would would like to improve our home while we’re there — maybe we will live there forever, but if we don’t, we want to be able to sell it for more than we bought it for. Our first big project is on the horizon: We are getting new windows installed any day now (the company is just waiting for a good weather day to do it)! I can’t tell you how excited I am for that, as we have two huge picture windows on the front of our house that are old and needing replaced.

You can see one of said windows in this photo, the other is behind us. (photo by Courtney Bell Photography)

You can see one of said windows in this photo, the other is behind us. (photo by Courtney Bell Photography)

In the meantime, I’m trying to keep the inside of our home as nice as possible, but it’s tough to keep the clutter under control. When we lived in our apartment, I feel like it was easier to keep it nice because it was so small I was kind of forced to. Now I have lots of storage where I can stash things which is a recipe for disaster!

I decided to participate in Apartment Therapy’s January Cure this year which will kick start a year of keeping our home clean and organized. The first task was to complete a list of projects, room by room which was pretty easy for me. This weekend’s tasks were to buy flowers:

photo 1 photo 2

I ended up getting two bunches of flowers at the grocery store for $1/each (they were on Manager’s Special), which instantly brightened up our main living space. I’m always so glad when I buy fresh flowers for the house, even if it doesn’t seem like a worthwhile expense when I’m at the store.

The next task I tackled for the weekend was to stock up on ‘green’ cleaners. I ended up just stocking up on vinegar and baking soda, to make my own. I followed this recipe and put it into an old Mr. Clean spray bottle:

Basically, I just combined the vinegar, baking soda, dishsoap and lemon essential oil and let it foam up for a while:

photo 2 (1) photo 3

..then filled the bottle with water. I used this cleaner to clean up everything this weekend, and it worked very well and smelled great! I’m a big fan of using vinegar and baking soda as cleanser, if only for the reason that it’s so much cheaper than buying the pre-made stuff (even the green cleansers). In fact, I cleaned my oven last month and because I despise those stinky chemical cleansers so I sprayed my oven down with a vinegar/water/lemon juice mixture and sprinkled the whole thing with baking soda. Then I just sat down with a bucket of warm water and scrubbed away. You wouldn’t believe how sparkling clean my oven got! I will never go back to those stinky oven cleaners again.

The final task for this weekend was to thoroughly clean all the floors in the house. Basically, we were to pretend that a floor inspector would be checking our work when we were done. We have a 3 bedroom Cape Cod house, in which the entire upstairs is our bedroom. We have a full bath, walk in closet, bedroom and sitting room up there. The rest of the bedrooms/bathrooms are downstairs. It was definitely a huge selling point for me, it’s so nice having that space up there just for us, and I think that will be the case as our family grows. It’s all carpeted up there and the floors do not see the care that the downstairs hardwood does. So, I started up there first thing Sunday morning. I quickly noticed that the tricky part about this task was that I was going to have to do some other cleaning/organizing before I was able to clean the floors as thoroughly as I would like. Example: Our closet

I love our closet

I love our closet

I really love this closet. Again, it was a huge selling point when we decided on our house. It’s a full walk in, one side for Zach and one for me. We even have a cute little window in there to brighten things up. Lots of shelves above, tons of space. But my side basically looked like a bomb had gone off. Poor Zach was being overrun by my mess. Especially now that I’m having a little trouble fitting into my clothes, I would throw things around in there. Well, I knew I’d have to get everything off the floor to properly vacuum in there so I figured, why not go ahead and re-organize? I’ll spare you the details (although they are pretty fascinating to me), but I’m so glad I did it. It was so easy to get dressed this morning.

Doesn't it look nice? Now to keep it that way...

Doesn’t it look nice? Now to keep it that way…

After I finished vacuuming upstairs, cleaning the baseboards and mopping the bathroom, I vacuumed the stairs and it was all downhill from there. I’m no Martha Stewart, but I do clean my hardwood floors once a week (ish), so downstairs wasn’t too hard. I did keep in mind the very thorough nature of the cleaning project, so I broke the house into sections. I would sweep with the broom to get the big stuff, then run the vacuum on the bare floor setting, then use a paper towel and my green cleaner to get the corners, then mop. I seriously could not stop looking at my clean floors when all was said and done:

photo 3 (1)

Ignore that bare corner where the Christmas tree used to reside. I need to do something with that space…

The first week of the January Cure was a success! I’m definitely inspired to keep going and hopefully by the end of the month we’ll see a serious improvement in the cleanliness/organization of our house!

Question of the Day:
Has the new year inspired you to clean up your house?