Our “New” Dining Table + Chairs!

Justin and I have always envisioned our basement as a space for guests and entertaining. We’ve been slowly addressing various areas of the basement (like our guest bedroom and bathroom, living area, kitchen, and entryway) but the space in between the living space and the kitchen has been neglected . . . until now! We’ve both been putting in work to create a dining area for food + game nights and it’s finally finished!

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As a refresher, up until a few weeks ago, it looked like this:

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I still cringe looking at this combination workout + collection area for things to sell/donate right in the middle of the basement. It was time for a change!

Justin actually made the table entirely out of old scrap wood that the previous owners of our home left behind when they moved out. He worked so hard on it and I’m so impressed – not only is it gorgeous and full of character but it perfectly fits our needs. I was able to give him the exact dimensions I wanted: large enough for 6-8 people to sit comfortably and linger over good food or a game night.  It’s perfect!

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The chairs were an absolute steal. I had been scouring websites for inexpensive dining chairs but I just couldn’t find anything under $60 per chair that fit our needs (not a barstool or folding chair) and I was not about to spend $300-400 on six chairs for a free table. I started browsing Facebook marketplace and one day I came across these chairs being sold for $2 a chair and I jumped on them! They obviously needed some TLC but I loved their size and shape and knew with a little work they could shine.

Chairs

My preference would have been to reupholster them, and we could have reupholstered the seats no problem, but the backs were attached in a more complicated way that would have been really difficult to reupholster well. So I started looking at other options and discovered a fabric and vinyl spray paint that I decided to give a try. The nice thing about $2 chairs is that it makes you willing to try a few things that you maybe wouldn’t risk on a more expensive piece.

Chairs w Painted Upholstery

The fabric and vinyl spray paint worked…okay. It took 3 light coats to cover the fabric, and while it’s not perfect, it does look a lot better. I actually think the black over the old striped and floral print makes it look like a cool Victorian-y fabric now. But the spray paint did cause the fabric to have a scratchier feel, which is not ideal. I think I will eventually get some thin black seat covers to help improve the feel of the seat (even if the fabric wasn’t scratchy, I would want to do this because there is very little cushion in the seat’s upholstery and they’re not super comfortable to sit in for a long time).

Chairs with Table

After spray painting the seats, I decided I needed to also paint the wood black. I actually really liked the look of dark upholstery and lighter stain, but I did not like it for this particular space. It just didn’t work with all the other wood tones of the table, half wall ledge, and other wood tones throughout the open concept basement. I tried out two different methods for changing the wood look: spray paint and Polyshades. Polyshades is a product I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s essentially a stain that you can apply over another stain to achieve a different look without having to sand off all the previous stain. I tested both on an inconspicuous part of the chair and found that spray paint’s coverage was much better. Polyshades would be an excellent candidate over raw wood or stained wood that isn’t glossy, but these chairs were glossy and it just didn’t look that great. I could have sanded the chairs down to remove all the gloss, but since every surface of the chairs was rounded, it just felt like a lot of work ha. I’m all about keeping things simple!

I lightly sanded each chair with a piece of sandpaper, taped off the fabric seats, and then applied black spray paint in a satin finish using repetitive light strokes. It took just about 3 full cans of spray paint to cover all six chairs.  Then all I needed to do was wait for them to dry and bring them inside!

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The chairs are definitely not perfect, but I think they work really well in this space and I love their look. And the total cost for this project was under $50, meaning this set of 6 chairs cost less than just one brand new chair in all the places I was looking beforehand. Win win!

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I finished out this little dining area by shopping my home for decor, although I did buy one new thing for it: that gorgeous arched mirror in the corner. It was another Facebook marketplace find – a brand new (still in the original packaging!) Project 62 arched black mirror for $30?? Definite score.

Overall I’m so happy with this space and how it makes the room flow from the lounge area to the dining space to the kitchen. It feels just right!

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Chairs: $2 x 6 = $12

Fabric and Vinyl Spray Paint: $18.60 (total for 3 cans)

Black Spray Paint: $19.20 (total for 3 cans)

Total cost of chair project: $49.80

Top 10 Staples for My DIY Projects

Ever since my post about our $0 bathroom makeover on Monday, I’ve been thinking about the zero dollar aspect of the project. I said again and again that I didn’t want to spend any money, and I am really proud to say I made the space shine and didn’t spend a dime. But maybe I should say, I didn’t actively spend a dime. Because when I really think about it, it’s not *truly* $0. Like, I didn’t just revamp a space using absolutely nothing. It was $0 because I didn’t actively spend money on the project – everything I used was something I already had.

I love to share my DIYs and I often share how I was able to complete them for a super low cost (like this dresser for under $50 , this special wall and surrounding area in our garage for $0, or this secret nook I revamped for $75). So many of these projects are very low cost and easy because I usually have many of the supplies on hand. And I’m not talking about just the random, junky things left in the back of the drawer from a project 8 years ago (although I don’t count those items out either haha), but quality products that I’m intentional about having in my stash.

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about the things that I find myself reaching for and using in project after project – the go-to things that I always stock up on because it’s not only more economical to use the same things for multiple projects, but it ensures I’m ready to dive in whenever the mood for a project strikes. I would venture to say that 98% of my projects involve at least one of the items listed below, and more often than not I’m using a combination of them. This is my all-star lineup!

1. Black Spray Paint

$0 Bathroom Makeover

I always always always have a can of black spray paint handy. Black is a tireless workhorse – it can make a hodgepodge of items look cohesive (like in the photo above!), it can freshen up outdated fixtures, and it can work in every space. It seems like anytime I need an inexpensive and easy update, I’m reaching for my black spray paint. I’ve used it on planters, handles, light fixtures, frames, chairs, and more! I like to have both a satin and a matte finish on hand and I’m always sure to replenish as soon as one can gets low, because I know I will use it!

2. Gold Spray Paint and/or Rub n Buff

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

Gold spray paint is another staple I always have on hand (this one is my favorite!) It gives a modern touch to dated pieces and it can add some warmth to a space. Similarly, rub n buff is a newer product to my arsenal, but I’m already obsessed and know it is here for the long haul. This little miracle worker is a great way to add some character to a piece. So far I have mostly used it on frames that I’ve thrifted, but it could work for freshening up lots of different kinds of decor.

3. Caulk

Caulk is one of those things that you don’t really notice – and that’s the point. It’s the finishing touch that makes a project look polished without actually standing out. Even if you do no other update to a space other than running fresh caulk around a sink or bathtub, it can make a big difference! I also use it to fill in gaps along trim or baseboards or do things like attach our “new” vanity sink to a cabinet. I always have a paintable white silicone caulk (and a caulk gun) on hand, but I’ve also started keeping a clear acrylic as well since this works well along sinks.

4. Electric Screwdriver

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This is my go-to tool for projects around the home. It’s perfect for taking out or installing hardware, removing cabinet doors, swapping out switch plates, etc. All the little projects that require a screw driver, this makes things super quick and easy. Justin and I are constantly reaching for it during projects! I couldn’t find our exact brand online but this one looks similar to the one we use.

5. Painter’s Tape

This obviously comes in handy to give me nice crisp lines anytime I decide to paint a wall, but I also like to use it to map out where I want a picture frame to hang or plan the size of a cabinet against the wall or a rug on the floor. It really helps me visualize a space!

6, 7, & 8. Paint Roller Covers, Brushes, and Tray Liners

Items to Always Have on Hand for DIY Projects

I buy roller covers and paint tray liners in bulk, and I try to take good care of my paint brushes so they last a long time ( I use this multi-tool for cleaning brushes and it really helps prolong the life of a brush by getting all the paint out of the bristles after a project). I re-use a lot of the same colors throughout my house, so I often already have the paint I want to use and having the other supplies on hand allows me to jump right in to a project without having to go to the store to buy a roller. Plus, I know that I will go through this items eventually and it is more economical to buy in bulk.

9. Primer

Along the same lines, I buy my favorite primer in huge 3.5 gallon buckets because it is more economical: one 3.5 gallon bucket costs about $47, wheras if I’d buy the same amount in 1 gallon quantities at a time, I’m spending about $59. It’s a lot of primer, but looking around at all the projects in my house, I know that I’ll go through it. I use primer as the first step for not only painting walls, but also cabinets and other furniture and it’s nice to be able to just start a project and have the primer ready to go.

10. Wood Filler

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This stuff comes in handy for both big and small projects. I’ve used it in everything from filling the extra holes in cabinet doors when swapping hardware from handles to knobs, to covering the holes left by a nail gun when installing wood trim and baseboards, to patching old holes in the DIY frames that Justin makes me from scrap wood. Since I am often repurposing something instead of using a brand new item, there are often dings, nicks, holes, etc to fill in and smooth out so I’m often reaching for wood filler to help me with the job.

 

What products or tools are your DIY go-tos?

One Room Challenge: The Finished Kitchen!

After two months full of renovating, I am absolutely thrilled to say that THE BASEMENT KITCHEN IS FINISHED!

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

I started this project as part of the One Room Challenge and due to unexpected delays (hello mold) and a week off for our family vacation, I got it done just as the challenge ends today. Whew!

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Before I dig deep into the finished space, let’s revisit where we started two months ago.

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We were thrilled that the house had a full kitchen in the basement for guests and entertaining, but it was definitely a little lackluster and a lotta orange. I set out to transform this kitchen while sticking to a small budget of $1500 max, and while I knew the space had potential, the final result is even better than my wildest dreams.

The first project I tackled was painting the tile floors. I used a special paint made for flooring from Rustoleum and a whole lot of painter’s tape to create a simple patterned look and I love it! To read more about the process, you can check out this blog post. So far, the paint has held up really well and only needed some small touch ups after the drywall guys were not careful moving the stove.

20200313_092504Kitchen-15Next up were the cabinets. Justin and I first chose to completely remove the single cabinet that was in between the sink and the window. We still have plenty of storage and this really helped open up the room a little bit more. It actually seems bigger without that cabinet blocking the way!

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After removing all cabinet doors, drawer fronts, and hardware, deglossing and priming every surface, and debating color choices for a few days, I finally painted them Rock Bottom by HGTV Home by Sherwin Williams. It’s the perfect moody gray/green chameleon color and I love it so much! I chose a high quality paint so I only needed one gallon (and I still have paint to spare). You can read more about the painting process in this blog post. I did place these bumpers behind each door and drawer to keep the painted surfaces from sticking to one another and pulling off the paint. So far, everything has held up well!

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As for cabinet hardware, I wanted to change things up a bit from the previous look. I wanted the door handles to be single knobs instead of handles, so I used wood filler to fill in the extra holes and then painted over them – the holes are now practically invisible unless you know where to look for them. I found these knobs for the doors and these bin pulls for the drawers and I love the combined look!

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

When it came time for counter tops, I had to make some big decisions. In order to stay within budget, replacing all the counter tops was not an option, but I knew I wanted to at least replace the top of the “island” (it’s technically not an island but just go with it). The previous owners had created extra counter space by wrapping the laminate around to the wall to create a small ledge. While I can appreciate the function of this, I wasn’t a fan of the look, and I knew we wouldn’t miss that bit of counter space. Plus, without the ledge in the way, we would have room for three stools instead of two and that was going to be way more functional for our purposes anyways. There was no way to remove just that extra ledge of laminate, so we removed the whole thing and created an accent island look with a butcher block counter top.

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We got the butcher block counter top from Menard’s and I ADORE IT. It is exactly what I hoped for and I love the look so much. We did hit some major hiccups through this process though and it became quite the saga (mold behind old paneling, wonky cabinets that needed moving, tile needing to be cut away…) If you want to read more about how this transformation took shape you can read about it in this blog post.

Since I couldn’t replace the rest of the counter tops, I decided to paint them instead. I ordered this kit to create the look of marble and while it certainly isn’t cheap, it came with absolutely everything needed to complete the project and it was still MUCH cheaper than replacing (the quote for new laminate came back at nearly $2000 including install, while this paint kit was just under $200. I’ll take that savings!)

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I plan to write an entire blog post hopefully later this week that shows the process of painting the counter tops, but for now, I will just say that it was not at all as complicated as I expected and while it is far from perfect, I am very happy with the results. It really feels like I have new counters!

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Now, no one would walk in to this kitchen and think that I got real marble installed, but I really do think it looks convincingly like I got new marble laminate. It is definitely better than the brown, pressed leaf pattern that was there previously so I am counting this as a major win. Stay tuned for a post with all the details!

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We also replaced all the baseboards and window trim in the kitchen. I wrote all about the DIY window trim we (okay, mostly Justin) installed and you can read about it here. I just wanted a simple trim that framed our gorgeous view of the outdoors without distracting from it and this was perfect.

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The sink faucets got upgraded as well. There were previously two faucets: the main one for filtered water and the little one for unfiltered well water (preference for the previous owner). The main faucet was replaced by this gorgeous matte black one, which I bought from the new and used options for a small discount, and we closed off the well water faucet hookup and installed a matte black soap pump for dishwashing soap instead.

20200313_092801Kitchen-23I tried not to buy a ton of new decor for the space and instead shopped my own house for plants, art, towels, and other decor to put the finishing touches on. With the exception of this vintage floral print from BFF Print shop, I already had all of the framed artwork. I loved taking off the extra trim and using this ledge (where the house foundation is) as a functional place to stack lots of art and plants. It feels extra special because the artwork is all personal!

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Overall, I could not be happier with how this kitchen turned out. I poured tons of hours and a lot of hard work into this and really had to stretch myself to solve some problems and come up with budget-friendly DIY solutions. I also have to give a huge shout out to Justin for all his help with many of my projects – he is so awesome! I’m so proud of how we made this kitchen come to life AND I’m extra proud that we stayed within budget. The grand total for this entire renovation was $1,494.27!! I am doing a happy dance over here!

Kitchen-25$1500 Kitchen Renovation!Kitchen-13I could go on and on about this space, but I’ll leave you with this. If there’s a change you want to make to your home, I encourage you to go for it! There were a lot of things with this project that I had never done before, and it can be intimidating to try new things, but you don’t know what you can do until you TRY. And while I stand by the fact that you can transform a room without a huge budget, even a teeny tiny budget can make a difference. Have $100? Try swapping out cabinet hardware. Have $30? Try painting the walls. Have $5? Scour your local thrift stores for a piece or two of decor to spruce up your space. It doesn’t have to be the biggest, fanciest, best renovation possible. I have been discouraged before watching people transform rooms and they gut it down to the studs and completely remodel everything. While that’s great, and I certainly hope to do that with a few rooms in our house, it’s very expensive and therefore not always a realistic option. But even if you can’t do everything, you can do SOMETHING. And each little thing you do can help you fall more and more in love with your home. ❤

Sources + Budget Breakdown

Flooring

Rustoleum Home Floor Paint (Steam Gray & Haven Gray base coats; Top Coat): $160.44

Delicate Surface Painter’s Tape (6 rolls): $57.59

Misc supplies (rollers, Krud Kutter, etc.): $31.22

Cabinets

Kilz 2 Primer (already had – I buy a 3.5 gallon bucket at a time because I use this for so many projects!)

Liquid Deglosser: $8.53

Showcase Paint (in Rock Bottom by HGTV HOME by Sherwin Williams): $41.71

Hardware (cabinet knobs, drawer pulls): $99.90

Bumpers: $6.69

Paneling for island: $22.02

Counters

Butcher Block: $212.93

Giani Marble Paint Kit: $192.55

Misc Materials

Lumber for Window Trim: $36.02

Baseboards: $32.36

Wall Paint (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Eggshell): $28.86

Window + Baseboard Trim (Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin): already had from previous project

Dish Soap Pump: $23.53

Faucet: $64.96 (bought from new/used)

Caulk: $7.89

Wood Filler: $5.33

Brushes: $12.79

Rollers: $4.98

Decoranything not listed below was either thrifted or I previously owned!

Counter stools: $284.60

Rug: $83.67

Clock: $25.48

Hand Soap Dispenser: $10.18 (used antique gold rub n buff to change silver to gold!)

Goldenrod faux plant: $20.04

Vintage floral art Print: $15 digital download + $5 printing

GRAND TOTAL: $1,494.27

*Note: we did not factor in the cost of having to hire drywallers to repair the mold because that was a repair our home needed (multiple areas of drywall needed repaired, not just in the kitchen) and that cost came out of a separate home maintenance fund. This is why it’s so important to have money set aside as a homeowner – you never know what will pop up!

 

 

One Week Challenge Week 5 & 6: DIY Window Trim

Another week of the One Room Challenge is complete!

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We were making good progress on this project until we hit a major obstacle in Week Four: mold. When we ripped off the paneling on the half wall and discovered mold, we knew we needed it to be taken care of by professionals.

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Another thing we got slightly held up on was due to an outlet. Previously, there was just a 3 inch casing around each window. I wanted to install a chunkier trim but one of the outlets was too close to the window, so we couldn’t install the window trim until this was moved to make room.

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My grandpa is extremely handy and has done electrical work in the past, so he and my dad came out one day last week to shift the outlet over a few inches.

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He also split the outlet and added another one behind the stove. Previously, the stove had to be plugged in using one of the above-the-counter outlets, which just wasn’t very visually appealing. Now it can get plugged in without the cord showing!

We were kind of at a standstill for a while waiting on these few little projects to get finished. Last week we had drywall guys come out and they tore all the mold and replaced the drywall, and we also had them patch the hole left by the outlet.

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They finished up the jobs on Monday and we were back in business. I painted the new drywall and we were finally ready to start on the window trim.

DIY Window Trim

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I wanted to go with a chunky craftsman-style trim with clean, simple lines and we decided to DIY it using some basic lumber.

Materials + Tools Needed:

  • 1 x 4 board (we used one total)
  • 1 x 2 boards (we used two)
  • 1 x 3 boards (we used three)
  • primer
  • paint
  • angled brush
  • nail gun
  • miter saw
  • wood filler
  • sandpaper
  • silicone caulk

I decided to paint all the boards first, which I did by simply laying them down on saw horses inside. I used one coat of primer and two coats of Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin.  (I did have a drop cloth underneath when I actually painted, but I moved it before I remembered to take the picture).

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Justin used his miter saw to cut each board to the correct length. We ended up choosing to install the boards from top down: we started with the top horizontal board, then the two vertical boards boards. We used 1 x 3’s for the top and sides of each window and attached them with a nail gun (I would also recommend using a level – this helped us make sure each board was perfectly straight!)

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To attach the bottom boards, we first held the 1 x 2 in place on its side. Instead of having it end flush with the vertical boards, I wanted a little overhang so Justin cut it long. It ended up sticking out 7/8″ on each side. I would worry less about an exact measurement (like wanting exactly one inch overhang) and more about making sure it sticks out the same amount on each side.

While I held the still-unattached 1 x 2 in place, Justin held up the 1 x 4 underneath and got it right where we wanted it. He nailed the 1 x 4 to the wall, then turned the nail gun 90 degrees and nailed the 1 x 2 down into the 1 x 4. We chose this method because it was easier to ensure that the nail didn’t accidentally go in the 1 x 2 slightly angled and come through the top of the board.

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Of course, nothing in this house is simple, so we did run into some technical challenges with the second window. The cabinet was too close to the window to accommodate the full width of the trim, so Justin had to cut out a notch for the trim to fit.

In addition, the trim was too thick and we couldn’t fully open the cabinet door, so Justin ran each board through the planer (he planed the unpainted sides) to take off about 1/8 inch on all the boards. The extra steps were annoying, but they paid off because the trim fits perfectly and we can fully open the cabinet door!

Once the trim was finally in place, (and once I had primed and painted the window sills, which I could have done at any point in this process) I used wood filler and a putty knife to fill in all the nail holes. I like using this filler because it dries super quickly!

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After about 15 minutes, I just lightly sanded each spot and it was ready for paint. I painted over all the wood filler and the edges where the boards had been cut, as well as over anything that got scuffed up in the installation process (the boards that had been planed needed some TLC touch ups!)

Once all the paint was dry, I used caulk to fill in the edges, reinstalled the blinds . . .ORC Window-6

… and voila!

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Look at the trim that we had to plane – it fit perfectly next to the cabinet!

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The trim color and wall color are actually the same, just different sheens. I wanted the trim to have just a little detail but keep clean, simple lines and not take too much focus, because I want the gorgeous view to be the focus.

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I’m super happy with how this trim turned out! Here’s a before and after from the original kitchen to where we are now. HUGE difference!

A few things remaining on our to-do list: reinstall the peninsula cabinet and the new counter top, replace the sink faucet, swap all the outlets for white ones, plus all the little touch-ups and caulk we’ll need for the finishing touches. It’s coming together!

If you’re interested in checking out some of the other rooms people are renovating for the One Room Challenge, you can check them out here. We’ve got two weeks left!

House Tour 2020

May 18 is an anniversary of sorts in our family: it’s been one full year since we’ve lived in our house!

I thought it would be fun to do a complete “house tour” and document what every room in our house currently looks like one year into living here. Some rooms have been completely remodeled, some have only had minor updates, and others have yet to be touched (one hasn’t even been unpacked yet).

A small disclaimer: I wanted to show what our house really looks like and how we’re using it in each stage of life, but I obviously did clean up before taking pictures. I didn’t want to make it look like a picture perfect model home because that’s not our reality, but just as I like to clean up before guests come over, I also cleaned up before virtual guests come over. 😉 That being said, I decided not to stage rooms (for example, I chose not to do things like add pillows to Vi’s crib just for the picture) since that’s not really how we live right now, so it still feels very authentic and true to our life.

My plan is to do this every year as a way to see how our home changes over time. I love seeing the evolution of a space and how the rooms in our home adjust to our growing family. Here’s what our home looks like in May 2020, one year after moving in.

Basement

Guest Room

The guest bedroom in the basement was one of my top priorities to address when we moved in. When not in a pandemic, we have overnight guests frequently (1-2x each month) and I wanted a comfortable space for them to stay. The room did not have a window and felt very dingy and dark, so we set out to add a window and make it feel light, bright, and cozy all at the same time. I would still love to swap out the overhead light and replace the carpet eventually, but I’m thrilled with this room’s transformation! Read more about this room’s renovation here.

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Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was the first room that we completely gutted and remodeled. New flooring, expanded tile shower, new lighting and fixtures – even though the layout didn’t change, it feels like a totally new space! You can check out more details in this blog post.

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Entertaining Space

Most of the basement is one huge open-concept living space. We bought this house with the hopes to do a lot of entertaining down here, so I’ve been putting in some effort to freshen it up. I am by no means done with this space, but a little bit of paint and removing some decorate trim has made it come a long way (blog post on our simple basement update here).

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And in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what our “entertainment center” situation currently is. I’m brainstorming alternatives to the bent folding table, but for now, it works. I know I’ll be glad to look back on this in the future when we have something different there to see how far we’ve come. 😉

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The space behind the couch will eventually have a table and chairs for hosting meals and game nights. Justin is actually in the process of making a table for this space, but until it gets finished, we keep our treadmill and the donation piles from my de-cluttering spree here (I know I said I would show our reality but I’m still cringing over showing spaces like this ha)!

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The basement kitchen is my current project for the One Room Challenge, and even though it’s in a major state of disarray, I’m very excited for the progress happening here (see my most recent update post here) – it’s going to look so good when it’s finished!

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Rounding out the open-concept space is this area to the right of the kitchen. Someday we plan to put a ping pong table here but for now, it’s a workspace for painting and storing furniture that we plan to sell.

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Mudroom

The last part of our basement is the mudroom in between the garage and the living area. As you can see, it needs work. I envision a combination workout space + some cubbies for storage eventually but for now…it’s just a bit of a catch-all (cringing again!)

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Main Floor

Laundry Room

The laundry room is really more like a laundry hallway. The washer and dryer are squeezed into a small space between the garage and a bathroom. Eventually, I would love to take out the bathroom and expand the laundry room but those plans are far down the road. Other than moving in our washer and dryer (which barely fit!) this space hasn’t been updated at all.

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Full Bathroom

Directly to the right of the laundry room is a full bathroom that we haven’t made any changes to yet. Normally, this bathroom doesn’t get used – the only exceptions are when we have many guests stay with us or in the middle of a pandemic. Since Justin works in healthcare, he uses this bathroom to shower when he comes home from work. It’s super convenient since it’s right off the garage and only used by him. As you can see, LJ and I wrote a few little notes to encourage him when he gets home. 🙂

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Powder Room

The powder room on the main floor is the only room that wasn’t painted brown when we moved in. We haven’t done anything to it yet, but it’s nice to at least have a little pop of color!

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Office

One of the rooms that got me the most excited about this house is our office, although right now it’s a disaster zone. I joke that it is our Room of Requirement because if you’re looking for something random, it’s probably in there. All of our unpacked boxes of books and decor are stored here and it’s kind of a makeshift office/extra guest room for an air mattress if needed. It doesn’t look like much right now, but I have plans to make it into a dreamy office + library – imagine those French doors opening up into floor to ceiling bookshelves and a cozy reading chair tucked in by the bay windows! I’m hoping we can start that renovation in the fall.

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The dining area off the kitchen also had a ton of potential (those windows!!), but we haven’t put any work into it yet. It currently just has a simple hand-me-down table and chairs and a few faux plants, but someday, this room is going to shine!

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The kitchen next to the dining room is another room that we haven’t put any work into. We’ve brainstormed a few ways that we’d like to change the layout a bit and update the appliances, but since that is a project that we’re several years out from, we’ll likely do a “phase one” renovation and at least update the wall color and maybe paint the cabinets.

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The previous owners used the room connected to the kitchen and living room as a dining room, but when we looked at the house I knew it would be the perfect playroom. It was the first room we updated (see that renovation post here) and I’m so glad we did because it gets used every. single. day. We still plan to update the trim and baseboards, but we’ll wait until we’re ready to do it throughout the whole first floor.

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The living room is yet another room that we have put zero effort into. We plopped down the furniture from our last house and called it good for now. Again, so much potential (more dreamy windows!) but in our life with two little ones, this casual arrangement works best for right now.

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Rounding out the main floor is the staircase off the living room (again, so much potential there!)…

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…and my favorite seven square foot space underneath! See all the details of this little nook’s transformation here.

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Top Floor

LJ’s Room

While no extensive work has been done upstairs, when I was 8 months pregnant and in full on nesting mode, we did get the bedrooms painted (they were all previously brown like the rest of the house). LJ’s room got some color-blocked walls and simple decor that feels just right for a little boy’s room.

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Vi’s Room

Vi’s room was painted white and recently got a little scalloped accent wall to make it feel more girly and fun. I also finally got some art up on the wall (notice I’m still waiting on one picture) and the room is much cozier.

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Kid’s Bathroom

The kids’ bathroom has had a very minimal amount of work – all we’ve done is take down the sliding glass shower door and replace it with a shower curtain. Other than that, we haven’t touched this room.

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Master Bedroom

All we’ve done in here so far is paint the walls, and the room is definitely lackluster. Again, so much potential here (more bay windows!) but right now it’s just simple and functional.

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Master Bathroom

The en suite bathroom has gone through a phase one renovation. We eventually want to gut it and rework the layout, but for the time being we just updated the flooring, painted the walls and vanities, and switched out some fixtures. You can read about that renovation here.

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Outdoors

The property is one of the biggest reasons we bought the house, so we’re thankful for a few outdoor lounge areas. The previous owners left a porch swing on the main level porch, which is perfect for enjoying a peaceful evening looking out over the pond. I’d love to add a few plants to this space too!

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Our walkout patio on the basement level has room for a table and chairs and I also created a little lounge space in the corner of the patio. This year I’m hoping to add a few end tables string lights, and potted plants to the space.

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That’s our home. It’s a work in progress, and we love the process of transforming it into the home of our dreams, but we’re not waiting to enjoy it until it’s “done” (I mean, is a house ever even done?) We are enjoying it every step of the way and choosing to love where we live at each stage. ❤

The Completed Secret Nook!

The tiniest room in our house just got a dramatic makeover! Welcome to our little secret nook under the staircase.

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My goal was to make a big impact with a tiny budget, and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

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As a refresher, here is where this room started. Seven square feet of potential!

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Since it’s so small, it just made sense to go through paint that I already had to find something that would work rather than buy more. After trying out a few colors on the wall, I settled on the leftover paint from our guest bathroom renovation: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched at Lowe’s). I painted both the walls and the trim the same color and I love the effect that had.

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About a month ago, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night and built these cute little book ledges using scrap wood from our garage and stain we already had. This project was so fun (and free!) and I think they look great in this space!

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I really wanted to trick out this space as best I could and have some little secret surprises that you can only see if you’re inside. I’ve always pictured it as a Harry-Potter-style cupboard under the stairs, so I wanted to make it seem a little magical without actually being Harry Potter themed. One thing that kept coming back to me was stars on the ceiling – when I found these metallic gold constellation decals on Etsy, they really stood out to me as the perfect option!

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The set I bought came with nine constellations and then a bunch of extra stars. I may have gone full nerd and actually looked up online to see how each constellation should be oriented and where they appear in general relation to one another if you look outside in our specific geographic location…is my type-A showing? Once I figured out where I wanted everything, these decals were super quick and easy to apply!

Another thing I’ve always wanted to do in here is make a chalkboard wall – the triangular wall above the door was the perfect space for it. A friend of mine had some chalkboard paint she was willing to let me use so I didn’t have to buy another jar and I picked it up off her porch. I primed and painted 2 coats and voila!

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Justin used a scrap piece of wood and a router to create a ledge for chalk to sit above the door frame and it worked perfectly. We initially thought we’d have to glue it to the frame but he made the wall-to-wall size so precise that we were able to just push it in and it’s very securely wedged.

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The last thing this space really needed was a light source. There is no plug and we didn’t want to spend the money to hardwire lighting, so I came up with a plan for a DIY sconce using a 79 cent plastic bowl, scrap wood, black spray paint, and a puck light. Justin and I (ok, mostly Justin haha) created this in another DIY Date Night – it turned out so well and works perfectly for providing a little light to read or play.

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Such a big difference just having a light source!

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I wanted the space to feel cozy and comfortable, so I finished it off with a microfiber floor mat that had a little extra squishy padding and a cute textured pillow that was 30% off at Target.

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Because of all the DIY projects using leftover materials from other rooms and projects, the total cost of this entire room makeover was right at $75. I’m so pleased with what a huge difference it makes and imagine our kids will spend many hours entertained in this space!

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Sources

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched at Lowe’s)

Chalkboard Paint: Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Latex Paint

DIY Bookshelves: Tutorial here

Constellation Decals

Pillow

Floor Mat