One Year Later: The Kitchen

All this week I’m going to be posting before and after photos of the house, so keep tuning in to see what a completely different place we live in now!

The kitchen is probably my favorite room in the house, and definitely the one we have done the most work to. I love how open it is, how the counter wraps around, and it’s new happy yellow color. But man oh man did it not start off that way. Let’s start from some close ups and work our way out:

When I toured the house there was wallpaper, a ceramic sink (sitting on top of the pipe, not actually attached to it), and general clutter everywhere.

Now we’ve got a stainless steel sink, a lighter curtain, and a wonderful lack of cat/vegetable wallpaper.

The top of the fridge was loaded with stuff, the broom lived out in the open, and I felt generally overwhelmed.

We still use this area as a bit of a drop spot, but there’s definitely a lot less going on.

This was the view as soon as I turned my head the first time I toured the house- no cellar door, a dog crate next to the fridge, so much stuff everywhere…

Ah, much better!

Sorry for the blur, this was long before blogdom :)

It’s not even the same place- and we didn’t even have to put in new cabinets!

What we did:

Still to do:

  • Paint picture frame and wooden wall outlets white
  • Sand and paint cellar door
  • Finish sanding and painting ceiling (to hide where the old lighting was)
  • Paint remaining window sill white (it’s the only one downstairs still original wood)

On the whole, I wish the cabinets were white or cream and not wood tone so they’d fit my personal style better but they’re in great shape and really sometimes if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Also, just because it’s not my style doesn’t mean it won’t be the next owner’s style so I’d rather just leave it be.

And while I’m at it, here’s two more after shots that didn’t match up with before’s but just give you another closer peek:

So what do you think? Have you done any kitchen work yet? How about DIY art? I’d love to see it!



One Year Later: The Sunroom

All this week I’m going to be posting before and after photos of the house, so keep tuning in to see what a completely different place we live in now!

We use the side door to enter the house, which leads right into what we call the sunroom. This room was an addition to the house and was added when the previous owners redid the kitchen (maybe 5-7 years ago). It has three walls and then completely opens into the kitchen on the fourth side.

The previous owners used it as their living room because they ran a day care out of the actual living room, but we just use it as extra seating for dinners and parties.

This is what the room looked like on the day I first toured it.


And this is what it looks like now!


And here’s just one more angle:



What we did:

  • Took down all the wallpaper, primed, and painted (including the ceiling)
  • Took down bay window shade
  • Added homemade by Nonna yellow curtains to windows and thermal curtains to sliding door
  • Added bench, chair, garden stand, bar, and accessories


Still to do:

  • Possibly repaint so it matches the rest of the house better (it’s the only room with green)
  • Possibly redo the floor so it matches the rest of the house better (again with the green)
  • Paint the door and hang a matching yellow curtain (which we already have)
  • Repair holes in sliding door screen


Whew! What a huge difference a coat of paint makes. This is the first room we worked on when we moved in and I’m so glad it came out so well. It’s nice to walk into a nice, bright, open room every time I come home :)


Want to know where something came from? Or how something was done? Got any suggestions? Leave it in the comments!


One Year Later

Yesterday was my one year blog-iversary! A whole year of sandpapering haphazardly and secretly gluing together my mistakes! I’ve actually had way more fun with this blog then I expected,  it’s been a really nice creative outlet for me.  I love working on my house, but I like designing graphics and backgrounds and editing pictures just as much. And I love hearing from anyone who stops by… thank you for stopping by my little neck of the interwebs, and I hope you continue to do so. Please offer feedback, opinions, and suggestions. :)

Next week I plan to do a room a day series of one year later pictures that include what we started off with, where we’re at now, and what’s still to do.

To start though, I want to share a few overall goals I’ve set for myself:

  • Take more time to sit back and enjoy my house: It doesn’t all need to change tomorrow, and a lot has changed so far, there’s plenty of time ahead of me.
  • Try more projects that intimidate me: I really want to master stenciling, I think if I put my mind to it I could switch out a light fixture all on my own, redo more furniture and try to sell it
  • Begin to make one extra mortgage payment a year: We’re not going to be here for our full 30 year mortgage, and when we sell I want to have as much equity as possible. Hopefully when Matt officially wraps up school in January we can shine a larger light on our finances

Shopping around the house

Lately I’ve been “shopping around the house” to stop me from going out and actually shopping, and to try and weave our rooms together a little better. Gray and yellow are colors I want throughout the house, so now that we’re in and settled I need to start pulling things together a bit better.

Here’s what I’ve got so far:

My previous kitchen table centerpiece was just meh, standard and lazy. Now it’s got a little more me in it.

Thanks to the DIY curtain I made for the bathroom, I was able to blend gray in with the brown. To pull it together a little more, I painted our old q-tip holder to match (and I’m on the lookout for new soap and tooth brush holders).

While I was at it, I rearranged our living room built in shelves as well. They were a little ho-hum with too many tea cups and too much overcrowding.

When I was done with all that I thought why stop here and I uploaded one of the digital graphics I bought from Moo & Puppy as my Twitter background. Originally I bought the graphics to fill my living room shutters, one of which is pictured below, but why on earth not use it elsewhere around the house and on the web. Head to my Twitter to check it out, and heck why don’t you go ahead and follow me while you’re there. ;)



So tell me, how many rooms in your house have year round Halloween decorations? I’m up to 4. Have you done any re-purposing lately?

Attack of the Stink Stairs

Our basement stairs, if you couldn’t guess by the post title, stink. From what we understand the room, which is finished, originally had wall to wall carpet and then at some point the sump pump broke and overflowed so the carpet had to be ripped up. For some reason the stairs carpet was not removed. It always had a weird odor to it and with the high temperatures of the past week it really came out, and after our  foster dog threw up all over it within hours of arriving at our house (poor little guy) it really got pungent.

Long story short, the stink stairs have got to GO.  I was able to peek under a tiny corner section at the bottom to see that there were wood stairs (not cement, like the floor) so I knew that whatever the looked like I would be able to fix them.

They were carpeted all the way to the bottom, and after about two and a half hours of serious heavy labor in 94* weather they look as follows:

Try not to be too jealous.

To start I just gathered some tools I thought would be helpful and went to town. No googling or research here, just angry stink induced demolition. I am woman! Hear me roar!



The hammer helped to pull up the death sticks on the front and back of each stair (which I will share a picture of in a later post), the crowbar assisted in death stick removal as well. The utility knife cut the carpet and padding, and the screwdriver and pliers removed the staples. So many staples. Overall it wasn’t necessary a hard to figure out job, just a frustrating and energy consuming one. Staple removal is what made for such a slow going process, there were about fifteen in each step and many were tricky to get out.

Throughout the week I plan to remove the rest of the carpet, then over the weekend get them at least spackled and primed. I have leftover grey paint from the living room that will be the final color, as well as plans to stencil the front of each stair.


So tell me, any tips for carpet removal? Do you have a stink stair problem as well?


In the Navy: The Tale of a 30 Year Old Dresser

About two months ago in my Fearlessly Finding Awesome Challenge #3 post I expressed that while my bedroom isn’t awful, it isn’t exactly special either. It’s just average. So I’ve been going back and forth in my head about what to do and I came up with a few ideas. The first on the list: give my hand-me-down dresser a facelift!

The dresser belonged to Matt’s mom when she was a teenager and has since been moved around quite a bit. It’s HEAVY and it’s sturdy, but at this point in time it has (had!) a lot of dings and scratches and marks on it from being so well used.

I absolutely do not hate it, it was just plain jane and in need of some loving. Further, the wood tone does not match the wood tone of our bed and tv stand.

I don’t know why, but I am so so hesitant to paint over original wood and I sat on this project for a while. To be honest, since we’ve moved in I’ve wanted to paint it, but a year ago I didn’t know how and I didn’t know where to start. My, I’ve come far!

First things first once I decided to commit:

  • Remove all hardware and put it in a safe place
  • Lay a gigantic tarp out in my yard
  • Move the whole thing out onto the tarp
  • Sand down any necessary areas that had nicks, stains, oddities

Once it was all laid out I spaced things to account for overspray, and also so that I could weave in and out of each section as I painted.

With my handy dandy Home Depot gift card I picked up RustOleum spray primer and spray paint in Navy (gloss finish). I used Kilz primer on my last project and RustOleum spraypaint, and I liked the spray of Rustoleum better so that’s why I decided to give the primer a chance. It worked great and the coverage was awesome.

Everything got 2 coats of primer spray, it wasn’t perfectly even but it was good enough for a piece that was going to be painted a very dark color.

An hour later, everything got several coats of navy. I found spray painting such a dark color to be much more challenging then the silver on my last project, because it didn’t have the sheen of being metallic flaws showed up much more easily.

I gave all the hardware a little facelift with some metallic RustOleum, not to change the color but just to even it out and shine it up a bit.

Then, Matt checked the weather and wouldn’t you know scattered thunderstorms were expected for about an hour after I finished? The whole thing, which couldn’t be pieced together yet, had to be moved into the house to dry and cure up. GAH.

The boys were uninterested in the physical labor portion of this project.

At least I got to paint the whole thing before it had to be moved inside. I can’t imagine lifting that thing any more then twice. But if I did, oh boy would it have been worth it.


It’s hard for me to capture on camera exactly how awesome this piece looks, but trust me, it looks awesome. I will be adding other navy accents to the room, and new curtains as well, but for now it plays off the lighter blue in the comforter and the teal and mustard colors of the accent chair.

Something needs to go on the other side of the dresser too of course, to balance things out, but I don’t know what yet so that spot is staying empty.

I love how it looks in the room, how it takes things from average to unique. It’s not for everyone, but it’s definitely for me!

There are definitely spots that need touching up and a few areas that are slightly uneven, and I’ll fix of that what I can but honestly I’m not stressed about it. I’m proud of how this big mumma jumma turned out and so glad I finally went ahead and painted it.

So what do you think? Love it or hate it? Any advice? What have you painted lately?

{This post is linked up with Liz Marie Blog and the Shabby Creek Cottage}

A very wild baby shower

Saturday we threw a jungle themed baby shower for my brother and sister-in-law and I had a blast setting up for it… and also, I absolutely can not wait for my nephew to be born. Hurry up September!!

I love theme parties- everything looks so united and together and on purpose. Also, they do not at all have to be expensive. I’m a huge fan of working with what you’ve got:

My mom and my sister in law’s mom picked up green and yellow table cloths and these little palm trees, then we used beanie babies to hold the trees down and roar it up a bit ::heh heh::

You can get the table cloths and trees at the dollar store, and the beanie babies we already had on hand because I was obsessed with them while I was younger. We also had some jungle stickers that we put on either side of these centerpieces just to break up the solid color a little bit and to act like a runner.

I wrapped the gift from me and the gift from my parents in brown packing paper, then I used construction paper to create a tree and a lion head. I sort of just winged it and didn’t use a template, just kept cutting until it looked right.
You can also see here that in the windows we strung up green yarn and used little clothespins to hang hang jungle themed baby socks, which they got to keep after the shower.

We used the community room of a condo complex for the party, so around the room we put the extra beanie babies along with a few other animals I picked up along the way, like this giant tiger from my friend’s son.

The favor table had little blue diapers, which I think were made from folded napkins. Each one had a mint in it that said “It’s a boy!” On this table I put my extra tiny beanie babies- gathered from McDonald’s happy meals about 15 years ago.

We’re not huge on shower games, but we did want to do at least one so I made up zebra striped bingo cards and personalized them for my sister-in-law.
Before the parents-to-be open their gifts everyone fills in the slots with what they think she’ll be getting (clothes, stroller, diapers, etc.) then as she opens them they check it off. The first one to get a straight line wins!

Ok, I have saved the best for last— the food!! I made some super cute monkey cupcakes:

Seriously, I can’t even handle it. I used snack size nutter butters for the ears, chocolate chips for eyes, a vanilla wafer for the muzzle, and frosting for the nostrils and mouth.

Because monkeys love bananas, they were of course banana flavored cupcakes. This Martha Stuart recipe was a breeze to follow, I doubled it and got about 30 cupcakes.

Our friend Lauren from The Pink Petal Cakery also created this amazing piece of work for us:


A few others things we did included using some leopard print scarves to drape over the gift tables, setting out small vases of flowers, and getting green and yellow jungle themed plates/cups/napkins.

High 5 For Friday

Photobucket Hello Hello! I’m linking up with From My Grey Desk again to share my top 5 for the week:

Luigi and I are equally enthused.

1. I am officially on V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N! No work for me until July 23rd! Last summer we took a trip to New Mexico that ended up being accidentally extended because of a hurricane and cancelled flights, but other than that I don’t believe I have ever had this much time off from work in my life. And I started working when I was 14. That’s 12 years without a full on-purpose week off .I have absolutely nowhere to go and I am super excited about it.







2. Tomorrow we are getting a temporary foster dog! It’s going to be an insane amount of work to manage 2 puppies and 3 cats, but it’s just for a week and I can’t wait. This week I have been busy setting up the crate (I promised Matt that this dog would sleep in a crate, unlike our dog who sleeps in between us all night long) and puppy-proofing the house. That means nothing is to be left out if you don’t want it chewed, we don’t know much about this fella other then he’s been living in a kennel and he’s a super stud muffin.

He’s coming to us from Lucky Lab Rescue and Adoption. They are based in Indiana and they run a transport to New England once a month; the adopters of this dog didn’t know the date of the transport and they had a vacation scheduled so this bugger needs a place to crash until next Saturday.

3. I have been busy crafting and organizing and baking for the super awesome baby shower that will be tomorrow. Normally I don’t get really into these things but um… I’m going to be an aunt! So this is a bit of a big deal. I’ll share some pictures next week because I don’t know who reads this and I don’t want to give anything away.

Rubs my belly!

4. For the past few months my cat, Zsa Zsa, has been super sick and on different foods and medicines. It’s been a real bummer, she’s my first pet as a grown up and I got her in 2008 from the MSPCA so I’m pretty attached. Yesterday I submitted a sample for her third round of testing and at 8pm last night the vet called and said she’s all clear! We still have to watch her and she’ll most likely have issues with her diet permanently, but no more medicine and testing! Woot woo! And also, how awesome is it that my vet was still working at 8pm last night? That’s dedication right there, and why we drive an extra 20 minutes to go to their office instead of to one of the vets in our own town.

5. I ordered TWO $50 each Home Depot gift cards this week, so soon we will own a weed wacker! The first gift certificate I got using my credit card rewards, which is how we got our movie room tv stand as well. Then I remembered that in my last job I travelled like a mad woman and I had a ton of Holiday Inn reward points that have been sitting around for a year and a half, so I traded those in for a second! HOLLER.

Now tell me, what’s awesome for you this week? What are you looking forward to? Is your life as crazy filled with animals as mine?

Subtle Changes

I know, I know- I haven’t posted an awesome craft on here in a while. But I promise next week there will be plenty because I am off from work! It’ll be a vacation filled with spraypaint and pets. I’ve got plans to redo the dresser in my bedroom, to paint a bit in the downstairs half bath, to show you some awesome baby shower decorations, and oh yeah- to foster a dog. So we’ll have 3 cats and 2 dogs next week. Then at the end of it all, my big brother and sister-in-law move into their sweet house and join me in the ranks of first time home ownership. HOLY MOLY.

But anyways, on to the subtle things for now.

We have de-slipcovered the living room couch and I am loving how it looks:

It’s like a breath of fresh air swooped down in here.

With the couch such a light color I fell back in love with the yellow accent wall, I think the room seriously needed to lighten up and that cream couch really takes care of it. It makes me almost, almost  glad that the dog chewed the seem of the slipcover and that I was too lazy to resew it so I took it off…

I was worried that in  our zoo (3 cats, 1 dog on a normal day) a cream colored couch would never survive, but it’s been a few weeks as long as I vacuum regularly it’s perfectly fine. Also, it’s been so hot out lately that they prefer lazying around on the cool kitchen floor instead of the hot sunspot couch.

The cream of the couch plays off the cream zebra stripes and in person really links things together- it’s hard to capture that in a photo.

I wish I had known what this room would look like with furniture and design because I don’t think I ever would have bought the slipcover in the first place. At least I’ve got it as a back up in case this does somehow get stained or destroyed.

Also, yes,  currently two frames are missing from the gallery wall. Sadly one fell to it’s death 2 weeks ago (the hole in the bottom left) and the other just needs a new hook to hang on (the hole in the top right).

The second subtle change I have to show you is in the office, and honestly it has been changed for over a month now so I apologize for not sharing sooner:

Let’s pretend this room is not an insanely cluttered hot mess.

We took the blinds off the windows because in the past ten months not once have we changed their position. Also, we hung up some black toppers my Nonna sewed up for us. I made three, THREE, attempts to purchase black toppers and stores were continuously sold out. There must be a new black topper fad I don’t know about.

So anyway, a little bit goes a long way around here. The office gets way more sun without the blinds, and the living room is like a whole new room without the gray slipcover.

What do you think? Have you done anything on the cheap lately that rocked your world?