Deck Reno

So, it’s painfully obvious that I don’t really have time to write this blog anymore, right? Yeahhhhh…apparently when you have a full-time job, blogging gets a little more difficult.   Doesn’t mean I’ll stop…just might be awhile in between posts.  I appreciate those of you who still check in every once in a while!

Just because we’re busy working doesn’t mean we’ve stopped all our projects.  This summer, our main focus has been improving the outside of our house…particularly our backyard.

Actually, I call it a backyard, but it is really a big deck and a postage-stamp sized patch of grass.  For purposes of this post, the grass is unimportant.  Let’s focus on that deck…

Hmm. Yeah.

Actually, you might remember that one of my Houseolutions this year was to give the deck a little makeover.  We’ve had our eyes on a product at Lowes called “Restore” for a while.  It promised to resurface the deck and seemed pretty easy to apply.  So, one day we just bit the bullet and picked up the supplies.

We read a bunch of info online before deciding on this product.  Based on reviews and the Restore website, we figured we’d need 2 of the big buckets to cover the deck (we ended up having leftovers, but 1 wouldn’t have done it).  We also picked up the stain so we could make sure the rails matched (the resurfacer is not recommended for vertical surfaces).  As far as color, we ended up going with one called “Timberline” (below).  Once you pick the color, the paint dudes at Lowe’s mix it into the product and stain, just like you were buying paint.

We started by prepping the surface.  The product recommends power washing but we went ahead and skipped that part out of laziness/lack of power washer/not wanting to wait for it to dry.  Instead, we used a leaf blower and broom to get as much dirt off as we could, and used a small sander to even out any rough spots.

Here’s some evidence of why we needed such a heavy duty product…nail holes, cracks, and huge spaces between some of the boards…

We used some caulk to fill in some of the bigger spaces, just to give the stuff something to stick to:

Pretty sure this counts as cheating in the deck restoration world, but I don’t care.

So once things were all prepped, we got to work on applying the first coat.  The general consensus with online reviews is that it goes on like sandy paint.  Some reviews recommended watering down the stuff to make it easier to apply.  Almost all reviews recommended against buying the Restore-brand special roller.  In the end, we skipped the pricey roller (instead using a couple of roller covers made for painting stucco, so they were nice and thick) but also didn’t water anything down.  I don’t know about the recommended roller, but if you use regular ones you will definitely need a fresh one for each coat.  This stuff destroys rollers.

Anways, we started rolling on the first coat…

And of course had the same reaction that you’re having right now….something like, “wow that’s super orange…”  Yep.  Sure was.  Don’t worry – it mellowed and darkened with a couple of coats.

The consistency was also just what we expected…thick, sandy paint.  Here’s a close up of a thin first coat we put on the top rail:

And after a couple of coats:

The instructions recommend 2-3 coats, so we painted ourselves off the deck* and took a break.

(*when we painted ourselves off the deck, we also painted ourselves away from the only unlocked door to our house. Typical.)

Speaking of the above picture, you can see the rails and other places where we ended up using the stain instead.  We just applied it with a small roller and it basically covered the old deck color in one coat.

Anyways, by the end of the afternoon we had a couple of coats on and most of the hard work was done (this stuff was not the easiest to roll on…maybe watering it down would’ve helped a little?). I’m happy to report that it really did a good job of a covering splinters, nail holes, etc.  After going back and touching up with the stain, our deck looked totally different.

We still want to paint the fence, but that might have to wait til next summer.

That’s it for this one! Enjoy the weekend :)

About these ads

Leave a comment

Filed under DIY

Quick Ledge Shelves

Here’s a quick afternoon project we did one day to dress up the back wall of our eat-in kitchen area.  You might remember that this is what it looked like after we finished our kitchen makeover (in case you missed it, read  about it in part 1, part 2, and part 3):

Vastly improved (in my opinion), but still lacking some decor.  Before the makeover, that back wall had been home to a bunch of random canvas paintings I picked up at thrift stores (here’s one that looks so sad and awkward…also, a lovely reminder of how the kitchen looked pre-makeover):

For a change, I asked Bryan to make me a couple of narrow ledge shelves to display random stuff on the back wall.  He had some scraps laying around, so he whipped up two 4 foot long shelves from using 1x3s (for the back and bottom), and a 1×2 (for the front facing piece, creating the ledge).  A few minutes later, we were leveling them and screwing them into the wall.

We didn’t worry about filling the nail holes, since it would be so easy to cover them with the frames I was planning to display.  Once they were attached to the wall, I taped them off and gave them a couple quick coats of the same semi-gloss white paint I used on our cabinets and trim:

I swear these are level, despite how they look in the picture below.  It’s impossible to get a straight-on shot of this room for whatever reason…

And here’s a little dressed up shot, nail holes and awkward middle-of-the-wall outlet nowhere to be seen.

Nice improvement, eh?


1 Comment

Filed under Build It, DIY

Washer Woes

You know when you’re doing laundry and you leave the house…and four hours later you come back and the washer is full of water your dryer is still running?

Yeah. That’s totally not supposed to happen. Welcome to living in an older home.

A short background story:  our current house is not actually the first house we bought.  We were originally under contract for another house in the same area, but the inspection came back that the entire house had knob and tube wiring.

We felt like we knew plenty about the perils of K&T…I mean, we watch Holmes on Holmes, after all…and Holmes don’t like no knob and tube.

Long story short, they refused to fix it and we refused to buy a scary fire trap house with outdated wiring.  Our current home seemed to check out in that area, and we’ve really never had any issues with it besides the occasional  flicker of the lights when we have all our appliances running (if you’re going to comment and tell me that’s not normal, I already know and am open to suggestions on how to fix it for little to no $).

Anyways, back to this situation.  I, being a dutiful housewife, was doing laundry one afternoon. I normally don’t like to leave the house with major appliances running, but it had literally been 2 hours since I started the two cycles and I just assumed it had finished.  I came back from running errands and heard the dryer….odd.  Came down to the basement to find the dryer still running (clothes dry but relatively cool), and this in the washer:

Awesome.  I was able to turn off the dryer by opening the door and stopping the cycle, but the washer was unresponsive and I couldn’t drain it.

The next day we called our home warranty folks, and they sent out a washer/dryer technician.  That’s when the gentleman pointed this out to me:

Umm…..ok. I’m no expert, but I’m just gonna go ahead and assume that the prong isn’t supposed to be charred.

Yeah…same goes for the outlet.   I guess I shouldn’t be totally surprised…I mean, our dryer doesn’t even vent to the outside…just to this blocked opening in the wall (we did NOT do this, by the way):

Can anyone with knowledge on this tell me if this is really a hazard, or is it ok for it to vent into the house? I can’t tell if it’s a major problem or not.

Another warning sign probably should have been this interesting contraption, which is what all the electrical components feed into right above the washer/dryer:

I did a little research and Wadsworth has been around since 1904…and this box was probably one of the first things they produced. As it turns out, the washer/dryer tech couldn’t do anything for me because it was an electrical problem.  Guess I should have been clued into that when the washer AND dryer stopped working at the same time.  And here I was thinking the appliance fairy had smiled down on me and I would be getting a brand new washer and dryer.  Silly Katie.

An electrician came out the next day and calmed some of my fears, saying that the outlet was probably just loose and causing friction, creating the burn marks (and not horrible deteriorated wiring just waiting to burn us to death in our sleep).  He quickly replaced the outlet, plug, and a couple circuits in the scary box, and we were back in business.

So, sadly, I’m still stuck with these beauties til we win the lottery or they break down.

And while we’re on the topic of appliance maintenance, apparently letting your filter get to this shade of gray is not recommended.

Lovely blog stalkers – any appliance horror stories out there? I know we aren’t the only ones..


1 Comment

Filed under Life

Triumphant Return!

Well, I bet you all thought we abandoned this thing, huh?  WRONG! Joke’s on you, suckers. We’re back, yo (not unlike IU basketball…94 days til Hoosier Hysteria!)

Alright so we’ve definitely been neglectful to our little blog here.  I blame it on a couple of things: first, I started a real big girl lawyer job which has been taking up some of my free time (thankfully!), and secondly it has been FREAKING HOT and not at all conducive to house projects.  Lastly, we’ve had an adorable new addition to our family in the form of our new Godson – Foster Jacob!

But don’t worry, we’ve been getting plenty done around here too, and I just uploaded a bajillion pictures as evidence.

I’m not sure where to start, since the next several posts will not be in any type of chronological order.  I think I’ll dedicate this post to a little table makeover I did one afternoon.  My mom picked up this table on clearance at Kohl’s a couple of years ago when I got my first apartment:

It didn’t have those marks when she bought it…those, unfortunately, were incurred during multiple moves in a short time period.  Plus, the cherry colored wood didn’t really go with our new decor.  So, on a day when I was feeling like going on a painting spree (pay no attention to that orange frame…that’s a post for another day. UNSEE IT!!), I unscrewed the wood top from the legs…
And took our random orbital sander to it, to rough it up and remove some of the glossy finish..notice the shine before:
…and after:
Probably unnecessary, and nothing a coat of primer couldn’t have fixed, but oh well.  I was in a power tools-type mood I guess. I had some gray paint on hand (leftover from painting our dining room), so I gave the table a couple of coats:
I debated painting the legs, but they were in good shape and I didn’t want to deal with the paint chipping off in a couple of years.  For now, we have it down in our newly remodeled basement as a little side table (ignore the messy blankets and pillows…this was clearly taken around 10:30am while I was watching the Nate Berkus Show during my unemployed phase):
I hope you appreciate the little vignette we set up for this picture.  It remains relatively unchanged today, even though it’s been a good couple months.  I never claimed to be a master photo stager.
Ok, so hopefully you’ll take this as a good faith effort that I’m gonna try to revive this blog.  Keep checking back, because – I’m not gonna lie – I totally thrive on number of hits and comments. At least I’m honest, right?


Filed under DIY

Basement Built-Ins

Hi and happy Tuesday!

I really want to wrap up this basement project, but I feel like the projects just.keep.coming.  Luckily, in “real life” it is finally all finished, but in blog land there’s still a couple little things we haven’t shared yet.  Hopefully I can get them knocked out in the next few days so we can finally move on with our lives. Sound good? Ok, here we go…

So this post is basically a photographic progression of the built-ins that we added to the back wall of our basement…remember this lovely area, complete with a random “what is this??” block in the corner (for more about the beginning of this project, check out this post):

Never content to just paint a wall, we decided to add some built-in storage across that wall to add some architecture to an otherwise pretty plain space. Since I’m not really up on all the details of cabinet making, this will mostly just be pictures with my ingenious descriptions.  Let’s be honest – you probably just scan the pictures most days anyways. If nothing else, pay attention to how much progress we make in the basement while making relatively no progress on the cabinets.  There’s a reason this post took so long!

Here’s the base that we built after painting, starting the ceiling, and installing the beadboard/trim, but pre-floors:

Oooooo look! Progress! Floors, furniture, and some cabinet carcasses (FYI: Bryan told me that the “bones” of the cabinet are called “carcasses” and I straight up told him he was lying.  Turns out he’s right…I only believe it cause I heard it on the Nate Berkus Show, and if Nate says it, you know its true).

Fine Strawbridge craftsmanship (no, seriously….it’s legit):

Here’s a close up of in interior:

I gave them a couple of coats of the same white semi-gloss paint that we used on the beadboard…you can see it in the background.  This is how we were living with the room for a good couple weeks.  Notice the little decorative boxes and candle we set up to try to disguise the weird corner block. Fancy.

Here’s the last bit of the lower cabinets installed and waiting for paint…and check out the wine fridge in the far right cabinet! And yes, that’s beer inside that we were trying to cool down.  Classy (and, as it turns out, ineffective).

It was finally time to paint over the black tile-esque top on the corner block, since it would be visible when we opened that cabinet:

So after giving the final cabinet a coat of paint, our built-ins needed a top.  You may remember our precarious trip home from IKEA, resulting in this situation for the 2 hour drive…

Notice the cardboard mass taking over the upper half of the photo?  That’s the countertop we brought home, and here she is partially unwrapped. Yeah, somehow we fit that in the Tahoe…but just barely.

Here’s the info packet if you’re interested in the type we purchased, and here’s the link to the IKEA page about the countertop.  This is one of those things where IKEA is an amazing resource…the 96 inch countertop only set us back $69 and we think it looks pretty amazing!

It was a little longer than we needed, so we had to cut it somehow.  The instructions suggested using a hand saw, so that’s where we started after measuring the cut line and covering both sides of the countertop with painters tape to prevent chipping.

The handsaw method flat-out sucked.  It would have taken all day. Enter, jigsaw.

We popped the countertop on with a little glue and some screws on the underside to hold everything in place.  We had also added some more beadboard going up the wall to create a back for the next project…bookcases!

I’ll spare you the details (since I don’t have any pictures), but here are the bookcases up and painted, along with some crown molding across the top to finish off the look.  These still needed some caulk and paint touch-ups, so ignore the messiness.


Alright…home stretch! We touched up the paint/caulk around the bookcases and decorated them with empty picture frames (anyone else do this? I just haven’t found the right picture yet…oops):

…added some cabinet doors (also made by Bryan…he’s so handy to have around):

And FINALLY this project is finished! (Ignore the glare on the wall…It’s not a crazy painting mistake, I promise)

Eventually we’ll find some baskets or other chotchkies to fill the open shelving, but for now this is it.

Don’t worry – there’s only 1 basement post left and then we can all finally move on with our lives. Til then…





1 Comment

Filed under Build It, DIY

Quick DIY Shades from a Drop Cloth

Alright, so I’ve been failing at this blog recently…I’ll admit it.  I seriously think the basement renovation just took it out of me, and I didn’t want to look at/think about/blog about anything DIY for a good few weeks.  No worries though – things have still been happening around the house, and we have a few projects in the works now that the weather has finally decided to get warm again!

This is just a quick post about a project that got overlooked during the whole basement reno.  If you remember, we have 3 little windows in the basement…here are two of them, on the day we decided to start randomly ripping up baseboards:

Midway through the project, we decided to add 1″x3″ boards to the windows as trim to bulk them up a bit:

Then we painted the boards in the same white as the beadboard for a nice finished look:

(Wrigley was checking out the sweet windows)

So, the windows looked great, but something was still missing.  If you scroll back up to the first couple pictures in this post, you’ll notice how much sunlight comes through those tiny windows during the day.  Considering we planned to use the basement as a TV room, the extra light posed a problem.  But, being that it is a basement, the last thing I wanted to do was add thick draperies that would block out all of the natural light. Hmm….

I had seen several tutorials online about making draperies out of drop cloths (yep, the canvas style ones you can buy at Lowe’s, Home Depot, etc.)  At first I was skeptical, but after seeing results like this…

And this…

…I was ready to give it a shot. Of course, I wasn’t going to add full length curtains to those tiny windows, so I decided to loosely follow this tutorial for no-sew roman shades using tension rods.  The result I was going for looks something like this:

First, I picked up a drop cloth at Lowe’s…I think this package was about $13 (and I have TONS leftover):

Next, I measured the width of each window, adding an inch to each side for a seam allowance.  Next, I measured the height of each window and added an extra ~8 inches (can you tell I’m not an expert at this…?) to allow some extra fabric for the “folds” of the roman shade.

Next, I fired up my iron (which I only use for projects…last time it was for these DIY Superhero Capes) and ironed folds around the sides to act as finished seams:

I didn’t want to mess with trying to sew these seams, so I picked up a cheap roll of iron-on seam tape from Target…

…and followed the package directions.  It worked wonderfully and left me with finished edges all around the shade and a pocket at the top for the tension rod.

I threaded the tension rod (the cheap-o ones from Lowe’s…I’m sure you can also find them at Target, etc) through the top pocket and adjusted the rod so it fit in the window opening. This picture shows how much fabric I was working with:

Then I used another tension rod and placed it a few inches below the top of the window, in front of the curtain:

Then pick up the fabric behind the lower tension rod and pull it over the rod to create a little flap:

You could continue this process as many times as you want (or for as long as your window will allow).  I realized at this point that I only needed one extra rod per window (besides the top rod holding the whole thing in place), so I clearly used too much fabric at the beginning.  Instead of taking it all down, removing the excess fabric, creating a new bottom seam and putting it all back in place, I just folded it under and tucked it in the open space of window.

I didn’t hate the way this looked, but I didn’t love it either.  It kind of bothered me that you could so easily see the seams and folds due to the amount of light that passed (or didn’t pass) through certain areas.  But I didn’t want heavier fabric because I liked that some light was still passing through into the room.  So, in the end, I ditched the middle tension rod and opted for just a plain shade with the extra fabric tucked back.  Eventually I might cut off all the extra and finish the bottom edge, but for now they are working out just fine.

What do you think?  Do you prefer the “roman style” shade or just the plain shade shown above? After this project, I’m definitely planning on trying to use drop cloths in the future for full length curtains throughout our house.  Til then, we have a bunch of new projects coming to the blog soon so keep checking back!  “Like” us on Facebook to get even more updates!



Leave a comment

Filed under DIY

Stairway to Heaven

If our basement=heaven, then the title of this post is totally accurate.  If not, it’s a little sacrilegious, especially considering yesterday was Easter. My bad.

So, I know we’ve stretched this basement project over way too many posts, but here’s another one (and it’s not even the last one…by far…get excited). This time, we’re tackling the basement staircase.

One of my first memories of this house is the overwhelming smell of dog on this staircase.  As I may have mentioned before, our entire home is hardwood floors with the exception of two areas: the guest room closet, and the staircase to the basement. Totally random, right?  Although carpet is comfy-cozy, it also holds onto odors and dog smell was no exception here.

(Disclaimer: Despite our current pet situation, I am totally a “dog person”…grew up with them, love them. Believe me when I say that I’m not over-dramatizing the whole dog smell thing.)

Could we have tried a carpet steamer or deodorizer? Sure.  Are we that practical? Absolutely not.  Besides the smell, it was also kinda dirty looking and run down.  Here’s a shot of the staircase before we touched it (and a lovely reminder of the original red paint color):

Also, notice the bannister and how unnecessarily bulky it is. Easy fix right? We figured we’d just remove it and replace it with something more our style. Here’s how it went to down (complete with inner monologue):

“Hmm…no visible screws. That’s ok, we’ll just gently pry it off the wall using this nice chisel…”

“Just a littttttttle pressure and surely it’ll pop right off…”



Oh hey wall innards!”

Ok, so that bannister didn’t go down without a fight…and some serious damage to the drywall. But hey, no big deal.  Lucky for us, we had a guy coming to install drywall on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs (a topic for another post), so he patched up those little blemishes while he was here.

So, moving on to the dog carpet.  I had the bright idea that there must be really nice hardwood stairs under the carpet, and wouldn’t that look lovely?  I decided that I’d just rip the carpet and pad off (super easy, right?), sand them down a tad, and viola! New hardwood stairs. Great – let’s get started!

I WAS RIGHT! Hardwood! This will be a piece of cake…except for those pesky staples with the carpet fibers attached, but those will pop right out according to every other blogger I’ve ever seen do this to their stairs.  I WIN!!!”

Oh wait…there are a LOT of staples. Are there gonna be that many on every step? And they aren’t exactly popping right out…actually, they seem kind of stuck.  WHY ARE THERE SO MANY STAPLES?!?!?!?!”

Yes…I discovered that there were that many staples on every step, and then some.  When I could actually muster enough strength to rip up the carpet and access the wood (remember….millions and millions of staples), I discovered a war zone underneath; rusty staples that would break in half with slight pressure, nails everywhere, and a tack strip which splintered into a million pieces (each having to be individually pried off) when any force was applied.  A few hours and only a couple of steps later, I began to rethink my brilliant idea.

Luckily I have a roommate who has more upper body strength and patience for this crap, and a couple of days later we had this:

(I also painted the formerly red staircase walls white, to make the staircase appear less cave-like. Yes, I was messy with the paint on the steps…I don’t care.)

By this point, we had long since given up on the idea of keeping the stairs as hardwood.  Besides the fact that they were riddled with nail and staple holes (and some nails that we just flattened into the staircase because we couldn’t get them out), the color was all wrong and there were gaps between the stairs and the wall (almost all were much bigger than what you can see in the above picture…think 4-5 inches).  Carpet it is.

We’re not so bold as to think we could install our own carpet, so we gathered three in-home estimates from both local and national companies.  We ended up going with Lowe’s…they were the least expensive, plus we just like them and basically live in their store.

(Begin Rant) One guy who came from Empire Today patronized me for saying that I wanted to discuss their estimate with my husband before agreeing to schedule the installation (aka hedging because we still had two more people coming to give estimates).  He said something along the lines of how I must not be “allowed” to spend that much since I had to check with my husband first, then tried to give me grief because I didn’t end up buying the carpet and he doesn’t get reimbursed for mileage for driving all the way to my house, located squarely in their service area.  Shock of all shocks, we didn’t go with them. Poor form, Empire Today. (End Rant).

Within a few days, we had lovely new carpet, sans doggie smell and stains:

The carpet and installation ended up costing around $375, which was way more than we were expecting to spend on this little project, so be forewarned if you want to try this yourself.  Maybe give the carpet steamer a chance? I’m also wondering how much more it would have cost to have them remove the old carpet…I definitely would have paid it looking back on that hellish experience. But, that being said, we’re very happy with the way it looks and feels.  We’re still on the hunt for a bannister, so we’ll give a little update when the staircase is finally finished.

So, the big question to my ladies…ever been in a situation like I had with the carpet dude? How did you handle it? Do share!





Filed under DIY