The Before Tour, Part Deux

Wow, guys.  It’s been an insanely crazy weekend with more than a few hiccups.  I’ll eventually cover them here for all to read, but dang, ya’ll.   I’m exhausted.  And the stress-meter is through the roof.  I’ll just say that I never expected one piddly little weekend to involve an unfortunate sales price reduction, mold, lead, and flooding all at one time.   Seriously.   I.Need.Wine.  In any case, we’re trudging through and trying to keep our chins up as much as possible.  And being the dork that I am, nothing helps me keep my chin up like a good ole’ fashioned house tour.  So, onward with the fun stuff…

Last we left off with the tour of our new 1970’s house, I’d just finished showing you the foyer, kitchen, laundry room, half bath and living/dining spaces.   So, let’s continue, shall we?

Off of the foyer we have the hallway to the bedrooms…

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The hallway contains not one, but TWO linen closets, which are like a total dream for me.  Iloveclosets.  On the left hand side, we have two bedrooms.   Both have built-in desk areas (which I can’t wait to get my hands on).  Here’s the first…

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It’s the smallest of the bedrooms, and we aren’t really sure what purpose it’ll have at this point…  But rest assured, we’ll figure it out. ;)  Possibly guestroom/office?  Yeah, that sounds good.

The next bedroom is the largest of the secondary bedrooms.  This will be Lucas’s room….

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I’d like to switch it up a little this time around.  I’ll still probably use a lot of decor from his current room, just in a different way.  And I’ll also be choosing a new wall color with little man’s help.

Across from Lucas’s room is the guest bath, which you saw in my first post about the new house…

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The pedestal sink will be gone at some point in place of a vanity with storage.   I’m not a super big fan of the black tile bath surround either, so that may eventually make a disappearance.  And this room will be repainted, though I’m not sure what color yet.  As neutral as the current paint color is, it’s just a bit too yellow for my taste in person.

Once you walk out of the guest bath and turn right, the hallway takes a 90 degree turn.  I forgot to take a picture of this view but here’s the reverse view from the master bedroom…

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That doorway past the sconce on the right is the third secondary bedroom, which we’re planning to use as another hang-out space.  Our Friheten sofa that’s chillin’ in the front room of our current house will likely go in here…

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My favorite feature of this room (of course) is the closet…

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You beautiful, beautiful beast.

Then, at the end of the hallway, we have our master bedroom….

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The bed will go on the wall on the left-hand side of the above picture.  Standing from that spot, here’s the view…

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That little atrium area leads to both the walk-in closet (left) and our epic master bath (right) …

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From the other side of the room….

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There are no words for this room.   But then there are many as it’s quite the conversation piece.   I mean, it’s purple marble with swirls of mauve!!  How could it not be the topic of conversation??  This’ll likely be a full gut down the line.  I’d love to replace the gargantuan purple tub with a nice (smaller) claw-foot version, enlarge the shower, add a solar tube for natural light, and just basically replace everything.   Including the stained 1980’s floor tile.  In the meantime though, I’ll be repainting the walls and doing whatever I can to make the space more visually appealing to tide us over.

As you exit the master bath, and are facing out of the atrium, you see this wall, which is where our bed will go…

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This space will likely be repainted as well, since the purplish undertone clashes with our bedding.   Actually, come to think of it, I suspect most of the rooms in this house will be repainted eventually.  I actually love the color of the living/dining space, hallway, kitchen, etc., but unfortunately, it was painted in flat paint, which makes it impossible to clean.  And from what I’ve been able to tell, they didn’t leave us any touch-up paint for that color.   I plan to have it color-matched for the time being, but that’s really just a band-aid.  The walls really need an eggshell finish down the line for more durability.   I may very well use the same color, just up the sheen.  But, I guess we’ll see!

In any case, we’ve got our work cut out for us.  We’re really excited about it, though.  We’ve been getting estimates, making smaller improvements and working on getting some of the floors replaced, so I’ll update ya’ll on those things soon.  Plus, I owe you guys an outdoor “before” tour, as well.   So, anyways, ya’ll have a great week and I’ll be back soon!

 

The Before Tour (Part 1)!!

Oh, the PLANS!!!! Every room…Plans. I have so many plans and ideas in my head right now. Just swirling around in there. Just marinating. Blossoming. Reconfiguring. It’s.so.dang.FUN!!!!

We finally got possession of the new house Wednesday, and are now in the process of getting a few things done before we move in (more on that in another post).   In the meantime, I thought I’d begin our tour of “before” pics of our new pad. I’m gonna break down the tour into smaller segments because… Well… I have a lot to say (feel free to feign surprise).

I thought I’d start at the beginning… with the foyer.  This is the view when you walk in (ignore the unpainted door jamb… it’s on the list)…

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When you walk in, you’re faced with a small foyer area. To the left are both the hallway to the bedrooms and entrance to the living room….

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From the other direction…

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And towards the right there is a sizable coat closet and an entrance to the kitchen…

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And from the other direction…

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Walking into the kitchen you see this…

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This kitchen features original cabinetry, chipped laminate countertops, a dented sink and mismatched appliances.  It’s not nearly as offensive as it could be, though. Seriously, some of the kitchens we saw when we were house-hunting were epic. This kitchen is livable and is actually starting to grow on me a bit. It just needs a little face-lift.  We definitely have a good deal of storage space in the cabinetry. Though, for some reason, whenever I walk in I get the distinct feeling that I’m being watched….

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Heehee!  Not sure when the whole hardware-in-the-center-of-the-cabinets-thing was a good idea. It seems inefficient and awfully schnoz-like, but what-evs. The 70’s were a crazy time (or so I’ve been told. #eightiesbaby).  The kitchen is the space where you’ll likely see the least amount of major changes at first.  Of course, I totally plan to decorate and tweak the space.  It’s just that we plan on a giving this room a total overhaul down the road.  I’m talking opening walls, new cabinetry, new layout, new countertops.  The whole chebang.  Except for the floors… I really like the slate.  We want to live with the space for a while before we decide what we want to do with it reno-wise to be sure that we account for how we truly use the space.  We’re lucky that it’s a large room, with a nice eat-in space…

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The French doors lead out to the pool, and the closed doorway to the left leads to the laundry room and half bath. We’ve already tossed the idea around of opening the wall that separates the kitchen from the larger dining space (that huge bank of upper-nose-cabinets shown two pics above) and then using this eat-in area of the kitchen to house more cabinetry to make up for the loss of upper cabinets. We’ll see though. Much can change between now and then.

If you go through the door to the laundry room, you see this….

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This beautiful blank slate of a laundry room. We’re definitely gonna add shelves or cabinetry for storage and possibly a little mudroom area for pool stuff. That door straight ahead leads to the covered patio out back. I’d love to replace it with a door that has a window in it. Maybe something to match the French doors in the kitchen. This room needs some natural light and that would be an easy way to do it. To the right, is a nice-sized pantry, and the so-called half bath. I say “so-called” because it’s literally a teeny room with a toilet…

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You have to use the sink in the laundry room to wash your hands, I guess. We think they put this in to be convenient to the pool, which is pretty genius in that sense. It was just kind of weird seeing it for the first time during our showing. It was like… Oh, hey, a random toilet… (Pause) Mmm’kay, cool.

Now, coming back into the kitchen and facing the opposite direction, you see this view of the kitchen….

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That open doorway to the right leads to the dining space….

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And just for fun, here’s a better shot of the view out of the window…

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The dining area is open to the living space…..

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Now, I’m standing where the sliders are in that last pic and looking into the living room….

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It’s darker in this part of the room since there’s no overhead lighting or skylights. We plan to add some recessed lighting to the vaulted ceilings and possibly a solar tube to brighten up the space with more natural light. That open doorway back there leads back out to the foyer and hallway.

As for projects in this room:  The built-ins will definitely be getting makeovers…

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This one next to the fireplace will likely be painted white to allow the fireplace to shine. The two compete visually right now since they’re such similar colors. Then, we have the wet bar….

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Joey thinks this is the coolest thing ever. I personally don’t get it. I mean, why a sink??? Wouldn’t an ice-maker make more sense?? Or better yet… a wine fridge??? Just sayin’. I guess I’m more of a dry-bar person. No sense in wasting perfectly good plumbing. In any case, at this point, the sink stays and this little area will look completely different when I’m done with it. I’m thinking: remove mirrors, add a pendant light, paint cabinets white, remove side/backsplashes, apply a concrete overlay treatment to the countertop, add some art. Oh. Yeah. Come to mama.

Here’s the view of the living room when you walk in from the foyer….

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I just love it. That fireplace!!! You had me at that fireplace. The fireplace will remain original. We’re planning on changing out the carpet in this room for wood floors before we move in, so stay tuned for that.  And the view of the porch through the windows will also change, once we’ve gotten our hands on it.  Joey’s already busting at the seams with eagerness to get started on that project.  I’ll go over the plan once I get to the outdoor tour, though.

So, my friends, this is where I end today’s tour. I’ll pick up next time and cover the rest of the house. Until then, we’ll be tirelessly working on some of the maintenance issues that were picked up in the inspection (post about that later) and getting estimates for various items.   So, wish us luck!  :)

12 Tips for staging and showing a house

Hello all!   This is me.  Typing on my computer.  Eagerly awaiting the getting-of-the-keys for our new house.  The sellers will be out on Wednesday… they negotiated a 7 day lease-back after closing to allow them time to move.   It’s so weird to know that the house is ours, but we can’t visit it yet.  A deal is a deal, though… but, dang, is this torture (forme).  So, in the meantime, we wait.  And as I wait, I’ve thought about our lives over the past 6 weeks.  A large part of which was spent was prepping and staging our home to be sold.   After having our home on the market (and having seen many homes on the market), I definitely have a fresh appreciation for staging. We’ve gone through the process of listing a house twice at this point, and I’ve learned a ton each time. So, I thought I’d share my favorite tips. You may have heard a few of these before, but I can’t emphasize their importance enough.  Seriously, they’re worth the time and effort.  So, with that said, here we go…

1. Organize!!  You saw this process first-hand when I organized No Man’s Land, the craft closet, mud room and Lucas’s closet. I also organized our master closet, hall closets and drawers/cabinets as time allowed. I just didn’t write posts about them. I started this process WAY ahead of time. I knew that we were house-hunting, but I had no idea when we would actually find something. So, better safe than sorry. And I can’t even tell you how glad I was that all of that was done when we found our new house. It made staging our home so much quicker.  Plus, because our secondary closets are small, I’m especially glad that I staged both Lucas’s closest and the craft closet in different ways to demonstrate their usability.

2. Purge!! Get rid of anything that’s taking up precious space.  If your rooms are cluttered with extra furniture or tchotchkes, clear them out. You want your home to look put together and cozy, but not cluttered. With our first home, we actually rented a storage unit and moved any excess furniture, boxes, and extraneous stuff there.. It helped a lot. Especially with the closets. We only kept items in the closets that we used frequently to allow them to appear spacious and organized. All lesser-used items went into the storage unit.

3. Plants. Although you want an uncluttered space, you don’t want it to appear cold. Keep out some nicer accessories as well as house plants. Plants warm up spaces and make them appear loved. So, include them. Also, our first realtor told us to leave a bowl of green and red apples on the kitchen counter or table. She said it evokes a feeling of health and well-being, so I did that both times.  Whether or not it had an effect is beyond me, but I figured it was worth a shot.

4. Personal pictures. I know that most experts say to remove all personal pictures/accessories. I’m personally on the fence about this as I think it depends on how the pictures are displayed. Huge poster-sized wedding pic above the fireplace?? Yeah, I’d probably change that out. Something like our asymmetrical frame wall??

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I left it. Why?? Because I felt like the overall style and placement of the gallery wall was the star of the show here. Not the personal photos so much. Since the larger frames contained more neutral art, and only some of the smaller photos were of us (and theses pictures were artsier candid shots for the most part), I felt like the frame collage only enhanced the space and showed how this wall could be used. Now, I will clarify that this is the only place in the house that we have family pictures. If they were displayed in every room, I’d definitely consider changing some of them out so as not to overwhelm the buyers with our smiling faces.

5. Clean EVERYTHING. And keep it clean. I started this process several weeks prior to listing our home.  Begin with the less frequent tasks like cleaning your oven, windows, fridge, etc. Clean your fridge even if you’re taking it with you. Buyers look at everything and you don’t want anything to turn them off. Plus, it’s less for you to do later. Knock a few chores off your list each day until you’re left with your more frequent tasks. Then keep those up. Not much of a cleaner? Hire someone to do a deep-cleaning once, then simply maintain it.

6. Fix anything that’s partially done or needs maintenance. We had a water spigot and some drywall that needed repair in the exterior/garage. We knew that an inspector would flag that during the home inspection and that if the buyers requested for us to fix it, we would have to hire a licensed plumber to stay in compliance with our contract. This equals increased expense. It was a simple fix that Joey was more than capable of doing himself, so he knocked it out before the house was listed. Now, don’t get me wrong… A licensed plumber/electrician/HVAC person, etc., should be hired for more technical fixes, so I’m definitely not recommending attempting something beyond your skill set… But this was an easy item that Joey had done a number of times. So, he did it himself to save a buck.

7. Come up with a toy system if you have kids. Pack up any toys your kids don’t play with regularly to reduce clutter. Lucas sort of did this himself this time around when he decided to donate most of his toys, but with our first home, I simply put most of his seldom-used toys in storage.  And seriously, y’all… he didn’t miss them.  Since the living room was/is his most common play-spot and his toys usually end up here….

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I grabbed an extra basket that I had on hand and had him put his toys in there when he wasn’t playing with them. Having the basket available was super handy if we needed to get out of the house fast for a showing. I just scooped them all in there and placed it under his white table. I also emphasized that he was to only play with one thing at a time. That he needed to put away toys when he was done before pulling out something new. This took a good deal of reinforcement (AGOODDEAL), but worked out in the end and made last-minute showing prep so much less stressful.

8. On that note, keep things available for an easy escape. We kept all purses, shoes, wallets etc. right by the garage door so that we could just grab ‘em and go if we got the call. No more, “Lucas, where did you put your shoes??!” “Mom, they’re not shoes, they’re sandals!” (Arg! Beside the point, man!). We’d asked for one hours notice for showings beforehand, but that time goes awfully quick in a pinch.

9. Remove any attached item that you don’t want to sell. If you have a certain lighting or plumbing fixture that you want to take with you, replace it before you list your house. Otherwise, you’ll likely have to leave it. Also, in many states, if you don’t specify otherwise, all window treatments are included with the sale of the house as well as any shelves attached to the walls. This came as a total surprise to me the first time we sold our house. I thought only the window blinds conveyed, so I removed all curtains and curtain rods and packed them. Imagine my annoyance when I found out that those stayed. I had to unpack and rehang them, which was the last thing I wanted to take time to do in the midst of packing. This time around, I made sure to specify in the listing that the blinds conveyed, but curtains, curtain rods, and the shelves in both the living room and Lucas’s room were not included in the sale of our home. I don’t get why the buyers would even want your curtains, especially if they don’t go with their stuff.

10. Tout any improvements from the rooftops. Bring the buyers attention to these things… It helps them equate these improvements to the amount of work they DON’T have to do upon buying your house. Create lists, frame them, and display them prominently in your home…

I did this with the sale of both of our houses and it worked great.  In fact, after 3 weeks of having our first house on the market, I finally displayed a list of improvements, and our house sold to the very next showing. Success in my book (even if it wasn’t the list that entirely did it)!  This time around, since we had our house built, I created two lists… One was a list of upgrades included during construction, the second was improvements added since construction. I didn’t include dates this time around since we’ve only lived in the house for a year and a half, but the first time I included the months/years that the improvements were made.

11. Make your house smell good. Bake cookies, heat up cinnamon on foil in the oven, use a Scentsy, whatever. Be sure your home smells welcoming. Nothing is a bigger turnoff than a musty, stinky house.  So, don’t go nose-blind.  Take action!

12. Don’t underestimate lighting. Put on fresh eyes. Pretend the house isn’t yours and walk through with the eyes of a buyer. Add lighting to any area that seems dark or unwelcoming. Move a lamp, or simply make sure the lights are on when you leave the house for a showing. It really makes a huge difference. You want the home to feel light and bright from the second a buyer walks in.  I literally turned on every light/lamp in the house for every showing this time around.  The one exception was the overhead light in the master bedroom.  I wanted the master to seem cozy and serene and the overhead light just seemed glaring (plus, the wall of windows allowed in plenty of natural light anyways).  I simply turned on our bedside lamps in that space and called it a day.

So, that’s pretty much what I’ve got.  I’m not gonna lie… keeping a house show-ready (especially with kids) is no joke.  But it can be done.  Hopefully getting a jump on a few things will help keep the process easier to manage.

And with that said, I must return to my original obsession:  I’m positively antsy to get access to the new place so that I can take some house tour pics to share with ya’ll.   Hopefully, if I play my cards right (ahem! If I can tear myself away from our new, currently-internetless house for long enough), I’ll have something up later this week.   So, with that, I say adieu for today.  I hope ya’ll have a great week!  Catch ya on the flip side! :)

So, um, we bought a new house!

Yeeeeaaahhhh. Ive got a confession… I’ve totally been holding out on you.

Ya see, there’s a reason why I’ve been focusing on all the organization in our house lately…. We’ve been house-hunting. And I’ve been trying to get our home show-ready in case we found something.  Sorry I wasn’t more forthcoming.   I’m a highly superstitious person who must knock-on-wood and cross my fingers at everything, and I had this idea in my head that if I spilled the beans, I’d jinx the deal.   Some may be with me on this, and some may shake their heads at this notion, but it’s just me. It’s how I am.

Although we’ve loved our home, we’ve been wanting a more central location for some time now. And we’ve been on a casual lookout for The One.   We currently live towards the northwestern edge of the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, but have wanted to move somewhere between Dallas and Fort Worth for a while.   This area is just so much more accessible.  Not only to family and friends, but to both cities and the other areas in between (plus, it’ll cut our commutes to work in half). Obviously, the main reason for making a move was being closer to family, though.  After we lost my brother, this became especially important to us.

Joey and I started searching for a house a while ago (VERY casually in December, and then more seriously towards the beginning of the summer), but just never found anything that suited our needs.

In searching for a new home, our must-have list looked a little something like this:

1. Character (from the 1950s to 70s preferably) – Fixer uppers welcome
2. 4 bedrooms
3. Around 2500 sq feet
4. A private backyard (at least a quarter acre lot)
5. With TREES (I may have lived another life in a forest)
6. In an established, well-kept neighborhood with minimal thru-traffic

We looked and looked… But nothing.

Then, out of nowhere, a few weeks ago our realtor contacted us about a new listing that had popped up in our all-time favorite neighborhood. It’s a sweet area of 1970’s homes with curvy streets, lots of trees, and where every home looks different (which is kind of a novelty in this area). We’d discovered the neighborhood months before and from the second we drove into it, we knew. It was perfect for us. And the location couldn’t have been better. It was ten minutes from both my parents’ house and my aunt and uncle’s house, a straight shot to Joey’s parents’, and an easy drive to work.

So, we let our realtor know our preference for the area and began stalking the neighborhood. Every time a listing popped up within our budget, we were on it. Over the course of several months, we looked at several homes in the neighborhood, all of which were TRUE fixer-uppers with original 70’s everything. Paneling, popcorn ceilings, original appliances, shag carpet in the bathrooms (WhyWHY???!), etc. This seemed par for the course as far as the homes within our budget in this particular neighborhood. Anything updated was way out of our price range. And that was fine. We were okay with that. It was all about the bones of the house and the neighborhood to us. So, imagine our surprise when we walked into this new listing and saw this…

(Please note: I hurriedly snapped a few pics during our final walk-through, so the sellers were in the midst of packing.  I’ll take proper “before” pics once we gain possession and’ll give ya’ll a more thorough tour then.)

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Beautiful slate floors, new baseboards, freshly painted walls in gorgeous colors, NO POPCORN CEILINGS.  Score!   But even with all of those updates, the home still possessed the character that we were looking for… Vaulted ceilings with center beam, built-ins in most of the rooms, the original 1970’s fireplace, etc.   I was almost disappointed when we first walked in because it was so lovely… Where was my project??  As we walked though the house we checked off all of our must-haves (4 bedroom, 2500 sq feet, private yard with over a quarter acre, good layout) plus it had tons of natural light.

AAAAAAAANNND…

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BAM! POOL.

We weren’t even looking for that. Total bonus! My favorite, though, was the covered patio that felt like it was an extension of the living room. See how you can see it through the windows?  I wish this was a better picture so you could really appreciate it, but at least you get the gist…

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And here it is outside….

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I instantly pictured Christmas parties with twinkle lights strung overhead beneath the covered patio. (Not to mention New Years parties, pool parties, and birthday parties. Oh my.). It felt like HOME.

And I found my projects.  There are definitely some areas needing updating, most notably the kitchen…

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And master bath….

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It’s hard to tell from the picture, but that marble is actually a 1970’s purple tone in person… which apparently goes with the brown shower tiles?   Oh well, at least the space is carpetless.   Fortunately, both rooms are clean and usable, so we can live with them for a while as we decide what exactly we want to do reno-wise. Plus, there are other things that we’d like to tweak.  We’d love to change out the beige carpet in the living and dining spaces for deeper-toned wood or wood tile.  The built-ins in the living room will get a coat of paint, etc.  Then, there are some energy-efficiency things we’d like to address like changing out the original single-paned bedroom windows for energy-efficient versions, adding an attic fan to help with the bills, adding insulation in the attic, etc.

We’d also like to make some changes to the exterior. Of course, you know my passion for character, so the goal is to basically update the home while maintaining the integrity of its 1970’s roots. Ill be outlining the details in another post, but I’ll just say that a paint job and new roof (maybe in a richer brown color?) are definitely in this guy’s future at some point…

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And this courtyard leading to the front door is gonna be all kinds of fun to jazz up!  I’m picturing a nice, streamlined mid-century style door and sidelights sometime down the road.  And definitely lots of fun small tweaks in the meantime..

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As far as sealing the deal went, we were the very first showing and had an offer in later that day. The way houses were selling, you really didn’t have time to sit on them.   If you liked, you offered.  A few hours later, we heard from our realtor and were totally bummed to discover that they’d received a second offer. And they wanted everybody to turn in their best offers by noon the following day.  Joey and I just looked at each other and sighed.  We figured it wasn’t meant to be since we’d pretty much given our best offer the first time around.   In the end, we decided to tweak our offer ever so slightly (like small) and send that along with a sad plea that “We love your house and will treat it like a member of our family if you pick us!”.  Then, we crossed our fingers and waited.   So, imagine our surprise when they accepted.  We were CRAZY excited.

The inspection on the home went pretty well.  Mainly, a bunch of smaller issues that you’d expect from a 40 year old home, but nothing terrible. No structural issues, thankfully.  We’ve definitely got a long to-do list in store, but it’s nothing that we aren’t willing to take on.  It was funny, because being in the home for the inspection was such a confirmation to me that we were making the right choice. I seriously didn’t want to leave. If I’d been given the option, I would’ve curled up on the seller’s couch with a book and called it a day. That feeling that this was “home” was so ridiculously strong.

And, today… we closed.  We signed the paperwork and got ‘er done. Woo-hoo!

Needless to say… We’re totally stoked!!  This house is a completely new challenge for us because 1. We’ve never owned a stucco home (we’ve always had brick which is almost no maintenance). 2. We’ve never owned a pool. 3. We’ve never owned an older home. But, hey, that’s okay!  We’re quick learners.  And we’re motivated.  I was cracking up because after we signed the contract, after nine years of knowing Joey, I’ve walked into the living room on several occasions only to discover HGTV on the tube… AND I WASNT THE ONE WHO TURNED IT ON!!! Heehee! He said he wanted to learn stuff. Gotta love it.

Gosh, I just can’t wait to get started!  Decorating is going to be so FUN in this place! I feel like our current furnishings are going to go swimmingly in this 1970’s gem. (Excitement!).  My little blog here is gonna have a BOATLOAD of new material in the months/years to come as we make this beaut our own.

So, if you’re wondering why I’ve been a less frequent blogger as of late, this is why. We’ve been buying and selling houses, which is so stinkin’ exhausting. I’m just glad that we’re in the home stretch (sortof). Ill have a separate post about the sale of our current house once everything (Fingerscrossed! Knockonwood!) is finalized.  We’re currently under contract, so keep your fingers (and toes, and arms, and legs) crossed that everything goes well and the sale of our house goes through (pleasepleaseplease).  We’re in the throes of packing currently and will be moving over the next few weeks, so things may be a little slow up in here for a bit longer.   But, I’ll be back.  And I’ll keep y’all updated as best as I can!  Send speedy packing and happy closing thoughts our way!!

P.S.  If you’re looking for a realtor in the DFW area, we highly recommend Rob Wright with the Amy Wright Group for Remax Heritage III.  He’s been fantastic!

From No Man’s Land to Craft room

Hey Ya’ll!  So, last we left off with No Man’s Land (our spare room), I had just stripped and painted the new craft table.  And now, I’m happy to announce that the space has a functional new lay-out.  Woo-hoo!

Let’s recap our journey thus far…   The room began as a veritable Monica Geller Closet, which I then lovingly dubbed “No Man’s Land”.  Because, I mean really.  Just LOOK at it….

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Didn’t it scream “Enter and never return!!”??   It was wrong.  Just so very wrong.   Then, one day, I couldn’t take it anymore, so I cleared it out and organized the dickens out of it.  Which basically transformed it from the Pit of Dispair to a glorified waiting room due to the hodge-podge of leftover furnishings….

And now, it looks a little something like this….

I replaced the generic, ugly light diffuser-thing on the ceiling fixture with a simple white shade for a more streamlined, custom look.   It was an easy switch that involved unscrewing the diffuser and screwing in the shade.   Ignore the table beneath the table.  My little mid-century gem is there temporarily until I can move it into the garage (some crazy stuff is going down in there right now, so I didn’t want to risk this little guy getting scratched up).  I probably should’ve removed him for these shots, but honestly, I’m just now thinking about it.

The table now lends a nice work space for projects…  Aaaaahh, function.  Such a beautiful, beautiful word.  The way the table is situated also allows it to extend easily to accommodate the extra leaves as needed for even more surface space.

To the top of the table, I added a lamp that I already had (would love to change out that shade, though), along with a tray containing books and thrift store sundae glasses filled with sharpies and colored pencils.

In the adjacent corner, I decided to leave the little sitting area that was there before…

I would love to recover that wing-back chair someday.  Mac did an amazing job covering it in the brown microsuede fabric when we moved into our first house, but alas, my love affair with brown has ended.  I’m craving some color and subtle pattern. Something a little more fresh.  The small end table actually came with our coffee table in the living room when we purchased it off Craigslist.  I can’t help but think that it would look super awesome painted a bold color.  One day I’ll get to it, I’m sure.

And just in case any of ya’ll were wondering what ever happened to my chicken-wire-hacked cabinet (don’t lie, I know this question has haunted your dreams), here she blows…

I simply topped it with a “To Do” board that I made by framing some fabric.  I just used dry erase markers on the glass.   I added lamp, a few books, a faux plant… and called it a day.  I also traded out the previous high-water brown curtains for a white grommeted pair that I already owned.   They really add some much needed softness to the room while keeping the space feeling light and bright.

Across the room, I moved my shelf for additional storage…

I would love to paint the walls, switch out the art for something more colorful and inspiring, and make the aforementioned changes to the chair and end table, but honestly, I’m just happy that the room is now a usable space that we aren’t embarrassed to show people.   Total plus in our book.

So, as of now, I officially remove the moniker “No Man’s Land” from this space and replace it with “Craft Room”.  (sniff!)  I thought this day would never come. :)

 

 

 

 

 

Pinterest Wins and Fails

If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you know that I love and use Pinterest frequently. I’m not an every day pinner (for time reasons only), but the pins that I do pin are pinned for a reason (“pin” 4 times in one sentence. Yeah!). Over the years, I’ve tried many things I’ve seen on there, so I thought I’d review some of the wins and fails I’ve encountered. I’ve linked up the related pins in case you want to check them out yourselves.   Just know that these are the pins that I decided to try, that happened to work for me (or not).  I’m in no way an expert on these topics.  These were just my personal experiences, so I thought I’d share.  With that said, in no particular order….

Wins:

1. Cleaning the microwave by cooking diluted vinegar. I LOVE this. It makes cleaning the microwave almost a pleasure. Almost.

2. Keeping the shower clean with dawn dish soap + vinegar in a dish scrubber. This works so well. It keeps our glass shower door streak-free and gorgeous with minimal time spent.   I literally just keep the scrubber in the shower and wipe down the glass and rinse before I get out of the shower each day.  It takes one minute, tops!  The same mixture makes my sinks sparkle, as well.

3. Vinegar to kill weeds. Kills ‘em dead. Just don’t get it close to any vegetation you want to keep. I mainly use it for the weeds that come up in the cracks in our driveway or walkway.

4. Cleaning glass with hydrogen peroxide. I just screw a spray nozzle right into the bottle of peroxide (it loses it’s effectiveness when exposed to light, so keeping it in its original container is best). You’ll never see a more streak-free mirror… Just let it dry thoroughly before you judge. At first it looks streaky, then it fades.

5. Using chalk to remove grease stains from clothing. Check out this post for more details on that experience (which may or may not have involved a seductive butter container and weird, completely random doodles).

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6. Recipes!!! Holy RECIPES!!! I have my “Food Glorious Food To Try” board which are the recipes I’ve got on reserve for a rainy day. Then, once I’ve tried a recipe, I move it to my “Recipe Box: Tried and True” board along with commentary for how it turned out and any recipe modifications made. This way, I can always go back and have all the details I need, right there at my fingertips.

7. Using tape to more easily determine placement of wall hangings. I demonstrated this technique in this post, but have used it many times since. It totally removes the guesswork and measuring needed to hang tricky objects.

8. Using upside-down command hooks to hang door wreaths from inside.  This idea was carried out when I hung our frame wreath.   The wreath was up for a good 10 months before I removed it and this hanging system worked perfectly the entire time.

9. Hemming jeans easily and undetectably.  This is one of my favorites!!  It’s a simple process and you seriously CANT TELL.  It looks like the jeans were born that way.  I just do this by hand… No machine needed.

10. ….

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(Why, yes. I totally censored this cake with a sweet feathered hat. This blog is nothing if not random.)

I made a similar version of this cake for Joey. If you’re having a not-so-stellar “attitude week”, cake + apology makes everything better. He thought this was hilarious. (P.S. This link contains the uncensored cake.  You’ve been warned)

 

Fails:

1: Using a pumice stone to remove fabric pilling off clothes. It really just made my shirt look worse.

2. Layering glitter nail polish between red for a neat iridescent color. Mine turned out looking like a lumpy red mess. I wish I would’ve taken a picture. It would’ve made a great “Nailed It!”. Maybe I just used the wrong stuff.

3. ANY of the hair style tutorials I’ve tried… Apparently, I possess ZERO hair coordination.

4. Using baking soda on my face for microdermabrasion. It left a gritty film that seemed to take a while to go away. I’ve since deleted the pin from my board, but here’s a link to the pin if you wanna check it out.

So, definitely more wins than losses (unless I’m blocking them from my memory. Which I might be. I’m sneaky like that.).  Aside from this list, I’ve acquired infinite amounts of inspiration by scrolling through the eye-candy world of Pinterest.  In home decor, fashion, organizing techniques… you name it.  Plus, if I’m working on a DIY project and get stumped, it’s my go-to reference for tutorials and advice.     In any case, I’ve definitely picked up some good tips by utilizing Pinterest and will continue to share my experiences as I have them.

So, have you guys tried anything that you’d like to share?   What wins and fails have you experienced?

Oh, the difference a year makes…

So, this week marks the one-year anniversary of Operation Home! Crazy, right??!  In this time span, I’ve published 127 posts including this one. That’s 127 posts mostly containing craft/DIY projects that I/we’ve attempted, along with several decor posts and a few personal posts mixed in.  This past year has been so rewarding thanks to this little blog.  It’s been an outlet that I’ve been lucky and grateful to have, and it’s allowed me to meet some really cool people whom I would’ve never met otherwise.  Plus, I’ve learned a ton!!  Not only about blogging in general, but about DIY… I’ve taken on projects in the last year that I’d never tried before and might not have had the courage to do if it weren’t for Operation Home.  So, thanks little blog and all of you lovely readers who support it!  :)

Over the past few weeks, I’ve been working on updating Our House page in the bar above.  It contains updated photos with links to the most pertinent projects within each space.   So, check that out if you’re bored (or just, ya know, if ya just like me.  Nopressure).  ;)

I haven’t really posted a ton about our backyard since the inception of this blog.  A few random posts here and there but not the full-monty, if you will.   So, I thought an updated tour could be fun since the foliage has changed quite a bit.  I mean, what could be more fun than watching plants grow? ;)

On that note, I’d like to take a moment to marvel upon the magic that is the Southern Wax Myrtle.   The most amazing shrub I’ve ever come into contact with.   Seriously, I’m about to justify this statement with pictures.   Just wait.  Wait for it.  Okaaaay.  Onward…

See, when we planted these guys in February of 2013, they looked something like this….

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By September of 2013, they looked like this…

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And now, one measly, piddly year later….

I know.  SHUTTHEFRONTDOOR.   They’ve flippin’ exploded!!!!   It only took a year and a half for them to begin providing privacy above the fence line.    That is, unless you count this from last September...

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I was so excited about “all that privacy” provided by those two little branches.   Heehee!!!   I was such a kid.  Now, I’ll admit…. there is one little runt bush that hasn’t quite caught up with the others, but he’ll get there.  No doubt.

The wax myrtles were a generous housewarming gift from Mac and Pop when we moved into the house.   (Need a housewarming gift idea? Buy a shrub.  You won’t regret it.)  And they seriously MAKE the yard.   In these pictures, they almost look a little messy because it was so incredibly windy when I took these shots, but in person they’re lush and warm and bring such a cozy dynamic to the backyard.   Our goal was to allow them to grow larger and then trim them into a privacy hedge.   The plant beds that Joey created with moss boulders are still going strong and look amazing.

Unfortunately, I can’t say the same for this sad, sad live oak tree (seen in the back of this shot)…

It’s alive.  Just not looking great.  The brutal winter really took a toll on him.   Maybe one day he’ll come back and be happy again (Ihope).

The other side of the yard looked like this last year after we’d planted a few crepe myrtles along the fence as well as another live oak tree (…who did remarkably well in the frigid winter. Way to take one for the team, tree!)…

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And now that side of the yard looks like this…

So, not a ton different, but definitely more filled in.  Sorry for the blurry pic.   It was far too windy for my lack-luster photography skills.

The rosemary beds looked like this before…

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And now…

And that’s AFTER Joey gave them a significant haircut.   As for the porch…

We got a new umbrella, which makes the space so much more livable in the hot Texas heat.  It’s from World Market in case anybody’s wondering.  We need to get a better umbrella stand, since the umbrella is leaning quite a bit.  It’s much heavier than our last umbrella since the rod is made of wood.  It’s an aspect that I neglected to think about when deciding to re-use our old umbrella stand to save some cash.   Sometimes, ya just gotta spend the money, I guess.   I love the colors and simple pattern the umbrella adds to the yard.  Plus, it helps tie in all of the colors from the conversation area nicely and provides much-needed shade over our newly waterproofed table.  As an added bonus, it blocks out some of the surrounding roof lines from inside the house.  Score!

Speaking of the conversation area, the space looks much the same from when I added the herbs and flowers.  Shockingly, they’re still alive.  Although there’s a chance that a few of them loathe me for adopting them (*coughcough*parsley!).  They aren’t exactly thriving if ya know what I mean.

See???  You can see the one little runt shrub in the background of this shot.  That’s really just a living metaphor for me standing next to my friends and family.  I can totally relate.  Just keep swimming, my little vertically-challenged friend!  You actually have the option to keep growing, so run with it!

I apologize for the lighting in some of these shots.  Our schedules as of late basically forced me to take these pics around dinner time… Not only was it insanely windy, it was pretty harsh lighting.  I totally know better, but sometimes ya just gotta do what ya gotta do.  Here’s a shot from earlier in the summer to demonstrate the actual colors on our porch…

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It blows my mind just how much the shrubs have grown even since then!

Functionality-wise…

… the beverage fridge is the bomb. When we have people over we stock it with water, soda, beer, etc. it keeps guests from having to go in and out so much.  Of course, it doesn’t look like anything special as of now.   It *may* even be on the slightly fugly side.  Especially with the *meh* concrete.  But a few shelves above, maybe a little appliance paint? Or perhaps, a little wood facade… It could be a really cool little area.

In any case, I think we’ve (and by “we” I’m referring to Joey) done a pretty good job with the space so far, especially being that it started off here…

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Joey’s really outdone himself with the landscaping, in my opinion.   And despite me and my olive thumb, the majority of the plantings have taken off beautifully.  I think it’ll be a really charming (and private) backyard once everything matures and blocks out the view of the surrounding neighbors.

Anyways, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.  Thanks for stopping by my humble little blog!  I totally love ya’ll for it and hope you continue to visit for ANOTHER year of blogging! :)

 

The Great Crate Challenge

Howdy, Folks!   I love blogging.  I have to say.  It’s fun, rewarding, therapeutic and a great way to meet some awesome people whom I would have never met otherwise.   A while back I agreed to team up with some amazing bloggers for a project challenge.   Basically, we all had to go buy crates from Michael’s and do something with them.  Thus, The Great Crate Challenge was born….

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I thought about it for a while, and after some deliberation, decided to take my crates and make a bench for either our foyer or much-neglected front porch.

Before I began, I developed a highly technical plan…

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Impressed? ;)

Then, I purchased my materials…

- 3 crates from Michael’s

- 1″ x 12″ x 12′ whitewood board (cut down to (2) 1″ x 10 1/4″ x 55″)

- Bolts, nuts, and washers to bolt the crates together

Other materials, which I already had…

- Wood screws

- Stain/paint

- Wood legs (which I found at Goodwill for practically pennies)…

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I was cracking up as I left Goodwill that day because the cashier made such a stink that I’d found the legs before her.   Heehee!  Sorry, lady.  Finders keepers.   Anyhoo, I’d done some research prior to making my plan, and found that 17-18″ is a good height for a bench, thus these legs were too long.  So, Joey cut them down with the miter saw to 4 inch lengths.

Once I had all of my materials together, I did a dry run in the foyer so that I could figure out how I wanted to paint/stain the bench (Lucas helped).

We placed various stained items nearby and tried to visualize which finish would look best.  Lucas was no help in deciding.  He liked everything.   But somehow, I managed to convince my lovely cousin, Kristyn, to babysit AND brainstorm with me all in one day.   It was super helpful to bounce ideas off her and I came out deciding to stain the top, bottom and legs and red-wash the crates to give the bench kind of an industrial-old-schoolhouse feel.

I sanded all of my pieces to take off any splinters or harsh edges.  Then, I used Varathane’s Early American stain, applying 2 coats with dry time between to my whitewood pieces and legs.  Then, I treated the stained elements with several coats of Formby’s Tung Oil as discussed in this post.

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For the crates, I decided to red-wash them so that the woodgrain would still show through.  I poured some of this paint…

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…into a cup and diluted it with about equal parts water.  I simply painted it on and let it dry.  I experimented with wiping off the excess, but that caused the crates to take on a pinkish hue.  Not good.  Plus, the wood was so absorbent that simply painting it on didn’t leave any drips anyways, so I just applied the paint and called it a day.

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Once the components had dried, it was assembly time.  Joey did most of it with some direction from me per my plan.   We started by attaching the legs to the bottom.  This was a bit of a different process for us because of the random Goodwill legs I’d found.  The screws on top were much too long for the standard brackets sold at home improvement stores.   Luckily, Joey figured out that the metal threading that held the feet in place on the bottoms of the legs (the part that he’d cut off) fit the screws perfectly.  So, he removed them…

He drilled holes in the bottom board where the legs would go and played around with the components to determine the most secure way to attach them.  Ultimately, he found that inserting the metal screw-catch thing (technical term) to the opposite side of the board allowed the legs to be attached more securely.   (Note: If you simply purchase legs from Lowe’s or Home Depot or whatever, you can purchase metal brackets right along with them to secure the legs, easy-peasy.)

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You can see here how the metal threads are on the top side.  The screw catches the thread from the opposite direction holding the legs snugly to the board…

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Next, he bolted the crates together using a clamp to keep everything flush and lined up…

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Once the crates were bolted together, he screwed the crates to the bottom using wood screws….

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…and repeated the process with the top…

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Once we’d completed our new baby bench, I tried it in the foyer and then on the porch.  And the porch won out.  Big time. (HEADLINE: Porch Engages in Victory Dance While Foyer Weeps Rocking In Fetal Position)…

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I absolutely love it!  It turned out better than I imagined.  I feel like the industrial schoolhouse vibe was totally achieved and it adds a nice punch of color to our porch.   Plus, crates + bricks are sexy.  Forhousestuff.  Just sayin’.  I still need to treat the bench with something more inclement-weather friendly now that it’s final placement is determined.  Honestly, I really thought this guy’d end up in the foyer so I wasn’t too worried about that in the painting/treating stages.  I’ll get that done soon to keep him looking healthy.  In the meantime, I will spend my free time sitting and staring at him with a goofy smile on my face.   Crate. Mission. Accomplished.

So, that’s my contribution to The Great Crate Challenge!   Now, check out the other awesome projects created by my fabulous bloggy friends….

Linked up at: I Heart Organizing

TDC Before and After

Sisterhood of the traveling plant

I’m definitely not a pack-rat.

I don’t easily form attachments to things.  Thus, I prefer to donate or Craigslist stuff I no longer need to simply get it out of the way. It’s cleansing to have a free and empty space (which is why No Man’s Land bothered me for so long).  But, that being said, I’m SO huge on keeping stuff that I love even if I don’t think I have a place for it.   You just never know when an idea will hit.  So, my rule is: If I absolutely love it, I keep it.   Nomatterwhat.

When we first moved into our house, I hung up this leaf print in our laundry/mudroom….

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I’d purchased it for our last house from TJ Maxx about 5 years ago.  I remember seeing it in the store and it just grabbed me.  I’m not really sure why.  I think it was the boldness and simplicity of it.   It adorned our last home’s mudroom, so it only made sense for me to start if off there.   Don’t get me wrong… I liked it in the space, but decided to take it down when I made my DIY pear art.   The pear art just suited the space so much better in both style and size.   For a while my little print sat ignored in No Man’s Land, then when I redid our guest bath, I decided to give it another go…

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Again, it’s not that I hated it here… I just realized after living with my new bathroom for a bit that I wanted to adapt a more monochromatic color scheme.  So, out went the leaf.   Next, I tried it in my craft closet

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Again, I liked it, but was not completely married to it.  Then, the other day as I was passing through our foyer, I spotted this wall and had a Mighty Eureka! Moment….

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I grabbed my leaf print and had it hung in a jiffy…

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And I danced.   It was perfect here.  It’s funny how you can live somewhere for a year and a half and see the same wall every day, and then one day that light bulb moment hits out of nowhere.  I love it.  I feel like the print plays off the other natural elements in the space (the hemp rug and bamboo light fixture more specifically).  It warms up the space and makes it feel way more finished. THIS is what my little print deserves.   To enhance the space and be enhanced.

Here’s the view from a little farther back so you can get a feel for how the casual gallery wall plays into the feeling of the foyer…

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and a little closer up…

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 Finally my little friend has a home.  :)

So, do any of ya’ll have any traveling accessories?

TDC Before and After

Craft Table… Check!

I have to say… things have been pretty busy in the homestead as of late.   Stuff has been happening that I cant WAIT to tell you guys about… when it’s time.  But it’s not time yet.  All I can ask in the meantime is that you all do me a solid and send positive, happy thoughts our way.  Every little bit helps.  And we can definitely use it!

Project-wise, this last weekend was one of those weekends where I got a lot done, but nothing was completely finished/prettily staged in the end.   That being said, the mission to turn No Man’s Land into a room of function inches along.   I’d mentioned a while back that I had an old table in the garage that I’d wanted to paint for my craft space in our spare room.  I started working on it two weekends ago and finally finished stripping and painting it this weekend.

Here she is before I started…

This is a solid oak table that was sporting many, many coats of paint.  Observe….

So rather than just prime and paint, I knew this puppy needed to be stripped.   After recently learning how to use chemical stripper, I was totally up for the challenge.   I have to say, stripping paint was different for me than stripping varnish.   For one… although it was messy, it was less gloopy.   Also, I quickly learned that the process needs to be repeated multiple times depending on how many layers of paint are on there. I did nearly FOUR rounds with the stripper. FOUR.

My top layer of white came off with my first try to reveal another layer of white paint and a wee bit o’ black…

My second go around resulted int he remaining white being removed with a bit of black…

And just when I thought I was done, I peeled up all the black to reveal…

More black.

So, four rounds of stripper + scraping later, I had it as good as it was gonna get.  Picture this, but with only small patches of black left on top (This was before my 4th coat of stripper)…

Next, I had to sand to make the surface smooth.   Although I’d gotten most of the paint off with the stripper, the remaining paint was left in a pretty thick coat which would’ve shown through my paint job.   It didn’t need it to be completely perfect since I’d be painting the surface anyways, just smooth and seamless.  So, I hand-sanded the legs with 220 grit sandpaper and used my electric sander for the top and any flat planes. Once the table was sanded, I moved it inside.  And I’m kind of peeved at myself, because I SWEAR I took a picture of the final stripped product, but it’s nowhere to be found.  After 8 hours spent stripping this thing, I think I at least deserve to feast my eyes on an “after” shot. Sheesh. #littlestviolin

Anyhoo, after cleaning the table thoroughly with tack cloth, I painted it with three light and even coats of Valspar Signature Paint + Primer in Ebony Field, which is the same paint that I used on our back door.  I used a brush on the base and foam roller on top.   I sanded between coats…

(See that nice smooooooth surface with the pretty woodgrain showing through???   THAT’S a fully stripped table, people!  Way to blow my skirt up, table.  This picture makes me giddy.)

…Anyways, I cleaned the dust off with tack cloth to ensure the smoothest finish possible and was sure to allow adequate dry time between coats.   And here’s the final result…

Sorry about the crummy shot and lack of “after” pics, guys.   I’m telling ya, this weekend was so busy that I’m just lucky that I remembered to take one at all.  I still need to rearrange the room to accommodate the table and accessorize the space as a craft room, so I’ll post about that when it happens (with PLENTY of after shots ;) ).  But painting this table is definitely one small step forward that equates to one giant leap for me in terms of this space.   Now that the table is done, many other things can be done as well. Yay!

TDC Before and After