Posts Tagged ‘renovations’


I love renovating and reviving parts of our house!

As summer break approaches, I begin to envision what project I might be able to work on this year. I start searching websites for instructions and hints. I scour for free furnishings or materials. I ask more knowledgeable and experienced people for their recommendations.

Recently I shared with you about the renovation of a bedroom and bathroom, that I worked on last summer. Today I will share how the bathroom renovation turned out.



As you can see, in the above ‘before’ pictures, the bathroom was pretty standard. What the pictures do not show is that the vanity was originally painted a creamy white … hum, or it was painted bright white, that faded over the thirty plus years it sat in this bathroom. There was no many in the reno.  budget for a new vanity, so I primed, then painted it a black-brown (similar to the Ikea color), inside and out. I removed all four doors, and only re-installed two of them (in the middle), so as to add more openness and to create a more interesting look.

The counter top stayed, as it would fit the new look, and the sink, although not replaced in the ‘after’ picture, will be replaced with a new (white) one this summer (as will the toilet).


The walls were all painted a creamy white color, that brightened the small room immediately.

Then there was the mirror.

Have I mentioned that I was on a VERY tight budget?

The original mirror was a typical, builder grade mirror. I contemplated a ‘cheap’ but pretty one from Ikea, but that was not in my budget. I also contemplated finding an old mirror at a thrift store, and having the mirror cut to fit … again, not always the thrifty alternative that one would hope. So, I went to the pile of moldings in my garage, and started measuring and imagining. What I settled on was to create a frame for the current mirror, that would add some pizazz to the room.


I also found a cute wall cabinet at a thrift store for about five dollars. It too got primed and painted the wall color, then hung over the toilet for more storage.

Once the constructing and painting were done, my daughter added her creativity to make the room her own.


All in all (toilet not included) the bathroom renovation only cost me the expense of new nails, carpenters glue, a fifteen dollar sink (from Craigslist) and the five dollar cabinet. I had the primer and paints from previous projects. I would estimate that the cost of renovating the room (pre-toilet), from my pocket, was less than twenty-five dollars!





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A few days back I introduced you to my renovation project from last summer.

Today I will introduce my personal favorite part of the bedroom and bathroom (part of our basement suite) that I renovated for our university-aged daughter.

Instead of starting with ‘before’ pics, I thought I’d start with the ‘after’ pic.

20140529-064231-24151920.jpgI had been dreaming of creating this built-in bookcase for over a year, and I am thrilled with how it turned out.

Unfortunately my ‘before’ picture disappeared from my phone, so do your best to imagine that, originally, there was a poorly-painted bi-fold door covering this space. Behind the door was a crawl space that is under our U-shaped staircase.

The upper part backed onto the drywall of the staircase, and was about seven inches deep. I framed up three shelves and installed them (from an old wooden shelf that was falling apart … aka. it was free).

20140529-064233-24153309.jpgThe lower part took a bit more … prayer.

I knew what I wanted to do, but my funds were limited, and my skill level that of a beginner.

Thankfully, it was garbage day while taxiing my son somewhere. Thank goodness for people who put usable items out with their trash (with a ‘free’ sign on them). There, on the side of the road, was a small white bookcase. I slowed, and as soon as I started to turn, my son (who knows me SO well) said, “do you want me to put it in the back for you?” Gotta love a young man who can read your mind!

Once home I was delighted to discover that it was the PERFECT size for my space! I then went to a Habitat for Humanity Re-Store (a great place to find usable building materials for cheap) and purchased four wheels (for about $4, total) to attach to the bottom of the shelf.

20140529-064230-24150199.jpgThe only thing I had to scratch my head about was how to cover the unsightly bottom. That was easily fixed by cutting the baseboard to perfectly fit the opening, then add a backing that would cover the space between the baseboard and the shelf, so that it looks like it is part of the shelf (see below and to the right of the shelf).

And that is my pièce de résistance of this renovation.



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About a year ago I was consulting with DIY websites, videos, Pinterest and my daughter’s tastes, all in preparation for her big move … from a room on our upper floor to the suite in the basement.

Although the renovation took far more time than I had ever dreamed that it would (and isn’t that how it often goes), it did get (mostly) completed by the end of the summer.

Our daughter is a university student and, well …

(how do I say this so that those of you who have not reached this ‘era’ of parenting?)

it was time for she (and we) to have more …

independence 😉

She had definite ideas about how she saw her room developing.

I had even more definite ideas about my budget!

We made a deal …

She would modify her dream of board and batten paneled walls, and she would purchase her own ‘dream’ wallpaper (I grew up in the wall paper era, and I am not ready to pay for something that may just claim my salvation as well as my money).

So, the first week of July, I descended to the basement to take pics, and get started on the process of de-construction.

Despite two windows, the room was dark!20140507-061725.jpg

The brown carpet, brown furnishings and ugly wall color were not helping to lighten the room.

The bathroom was equally ugly (though a bit brighter due to half the room having white tile on it’s walls) with everything original to when the house was built. The bathroom vanity was sturdy, but ugly (in the pictures, above, the vanity has already been painted a brown-black, inside and out) and the mirror was that typical builders grade flat mirror attached to the wall with no frame.

The bedroom was to get a fresh, brighter coat of paint, woodwork around the room and windows, wallpaper, laminate flooring and a cool bookcase built in to the entrance to the storage under the stairs (no pics here of that area) … all on a budget of … not much money! In the next post (next Thursday) I will share the renovation, along with pictures to prove it really did occur.




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“Time to take chances, make mistakes, get messy,” said Ms. Frizzle every day in our house, when the kids were younger.

I wonder who learned Ms. Frizzle’s motto better, the kids, or me?

For the past week and a half I have been living her motto, although not in the area of Science, but the area of home renovations. This is always a perfect way for me to start my summer break. I have the opportunity to get creative, and to get projects that have been taking up head space done and filed away.

This year I started with the room our ‘faux daughter’ (International student) occupied for the past two years. She is off to a different school, in a different city in the fall, so all of her belongings were moved out … then the work began. Furniture moved out and sold (thank-you craigslist), walls needed to be washed, sticky ‘stuff’ scrubbed away, nails removed, paint touched up, ceiling re-oiled, and edges of the carpet cleaned. Once it was all clean and fresh, hubby moved his office furniture in, so as to have a private place to work, as he often works from home.

Then the pièce de résistance, the remodel of the basement bedroom into a new, more private (for she and we …) space for our almost twenty-one year old (is that really possible?).

I started with the very outdated bathroom. The cabinet (as old as our thirty’ish year old home) got a fresh coat of paint, as did the walls and door. Still to come is a new sink and toilet, then a really good floor scrubbing!

Next was the bedroom. The carpet was rolled up (to be moved into the room our daughter will be vacating), as was the under-pad. The walls cleaned, cracks filled, floor swept. Then the primer and paint were applied to the walls, and now the floor is littered with baseboards and moldings that will be installed after the laminate.

Each day ends, and I am dirtier, more messy than the day before. I haul my tired butt up the stairs, scrub all of my 2000 body parts, then fall into bed, where I drift off to an exhausted, dreamless sleep-land. Then I awake the next morning, feeling the presence of more muscles than I ever thought I had before, and do it all over again.

And I love it!

I get to create.

I get to redeem the old, the broken, the ugly.

I get to bring life to the dull, the faded, the hidden.

I get to spend my hours listening to music and speakers whose messages speak into my tired heart, mind and soul.

I get to feel real, well-earned, physical fatigue.

I get to get messy … then see the difference that a good cleaning will do (after-all cleanliness IS next to godliness, right?).

As I awoke the other day, I realized how very rested, how very revived and refreshed I felt from this process. Perhaps more of us should try ‘getting messy’ when the stuff of life takes over our thoughts and sleep.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might”
Ecclesiastes 9:10


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“I really do think my hubby is brave. In a world where men still seem to feel the need to control much of life around them, my hubby is confident in who he is … confident enough that he lets me also be who I am, and for that I am immensely thankful.”

I wrote the above this past summer in a post called Brave Husband where I wanted to give credit to my hubby for allowing, and accepting my creative side in our home and garden. And this post is the second and final post about the closet reno. that is (finally) complete.

It began with a vision in my head, and an itching in my soul to tear down, and build up. I ripped everything out of the closet, and put on my construction hat.

I had a plan, measured, cut, changed the plan, sweated, built, changed the plan yet again … I am a natural at adapting and modifying!

After the frame was built, the bench and lower shelves installed, much of what was left was the beautifying. And it doesn’t take much time in the beautifying to discover that it is there that things can get costly.

For example, I wanted to install a shelf, above the coat hook area (to place my very cool -cheap- older suitcases, for storage). I was thinking that rustic, wooden corbels would do the trick (much like the ones to the right). Well, apparently the law of supply and demand would indicate that there is great demand for them (try broken ones for $100 each!!!) thus, I needed a new plan.

So, off to the orange home store, where I scored four cast iron looking plant hooks, which cost less than $4 each. Then to the dollar store where I found real cast iron hooks for just $2 each (and since I had two from another project, I only had to purchase four).

My goal for this project was to not spend more than $100 from beginning to end, utilizing as many materials as I could from around our home, and purchased from thrift stores and yard sales. I was sure that I might just blow the budget completely when I started to seek out estimates for foam for the bench. The price range was $56 and up! After I picked my weakened self off the floor, I started considering other ways to get foam. My final purchase was a foam mattress topper, which I cut myself, and it cost $15.

The fabric for the pad was a bit of a concern too, but I said my prayers before walking into a thrift store one day, and low and behold, there was a roll of fabric for $10, that I really loved, and was only $10.

I was able to use moldings that I had laying around from previous projects, as well as paint, and many nails, screws, caulking (a little DAP will cover a multitude of sins poor cuts), and decor.

The following are the things I had to purchase:

$27.24 for drill bits and plywood
$48.29 for bead board and nails
$7.00 for the ‘TV cabinet’ that became my lower shelves
$10.55 for paint for trim (my old can had not been closed tightly 😦
$15.98 for the brackets to hold up the top shelf
$9.00 for hooks
$9.99 for the fabric
$15.49 for the foam
$7.oo for the two suitcases
$12.49 for the extra moldings

So, I was over my $100 budget, but still it was not a terrible cost, with the grand total coming in at $163.03, and NONE of that cost was labor, because I did it all myself (with a little help from my guy when I would get a screw stuck … I think we need a new, cordless, drill).

This project, with all it’s challenges, dust, mess, sweat and head scratching really fed my creative being. I felt refreshed for having the opportunity to demolish, plan, build and create.

Through the process hubby encouraged me, assisted with the challenges I have as the physically ‘weaker’ sex, and told me it looks so much better when it was all done. He knows that I tend to get a bit OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) when it comes to my creative projects, resulting in him BBQ’ing more meals than normal, driving kids more often than normal, and more mess around the house. Yet, he continues to encourage me to be … me.

I think I will keep him!

(… because I have a bigger project planned for next summer 😉 )


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Well, I am finally doing a follow-up post about my Brave Husband that I started way back in July. As I stated in that post “what makes my hubby brave is his willingness to let me ‘experiment’ with our house and garden.”

My patient man came home one day, early in the summer to find that I had removed everything in our hallway closet except for the drywall. His only response was, “I am guessing you have decided on your first (summer) project.”

I had set to work just that morning, after spending many weeks considering what I might do to create a door-less, closet storage area with a cozy place to sit and read, write or simply escape from one of our, now only three, teenagers in the house. I had filled a bucket with tools that I might need was wearing the grubbiest of my grubby clothes, and was thrilled to be taking something apart, with the visions of how it could look when I was finished.

Once it was naked of all that it had previously contained, from shelving to carpet, and everything in between, I set to work on the part that made me sweat the most … constructing a wood frame for the bench. I had never built a frame before, and this one would need to be secure enough to hold … me! I was very nervous, and the previous visions of the finished project were replaced by day/night mare of someone (me) sitting down and having the entire bench come crashing to the floor. I had the outer supports screwed into the studs of the walls, then added cross pieces every 8-10 inches (I cannot remember exactly). Thankfully I had 2X4’s in my garage, so I only had to purchase the screws!

The frame seemed to hold … even me standing on it!

The next step was to go and purchase plywood … Oh my goodness! Seriously, with the amount of trees in the area of the country that I live, I did not see the rational for having to take out a mortgage to purchase a piece of plywood! Yikes! So, when it came time to cut it, I did not measure twice and cut once, I cut eight times, and measured 2-4 times before each cut. When all was measured and cut, it fit on top like a glove. And the security of it … it was so well constructed that when I sat my happy … behind on it, not a creak, not even a whisper of a noise. Look out Mike Holmes (of Holmes on Homes).

As you can see from the photo directly above and left, there are shelves below the bench. I purchased this ‘TV stand’ at a thrift store, primed it with ‘bonding’ primer, then painted it with semigloss white paint. I was in awe at how perfectly it fit (with a bit of cutting from the back right corner, to fit the shape of the closet). I screwed it to the opening of the closet on both sides, to ensure it would not migrate.

The next step was to purchase bead board (kind of difficult to see in this picture, above to the left and right) … mortgage number two! I had to purchase three sheets of it, but was able to use all but one small piece (about 10″x 14″), so the lack of waste made the price not so depressing.

I will continue my closet reno. story in the near future … I still need to finish one two a few more details before I am ready for the final reveal.

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What makes a husband brave?

Is it his imposing stature? His choosing to step into a situation that could get ugly to protect his love, or others? His willingness to be the head spider killer of the house?

In my house, and in my marriage, what makes my hubby brave is his willingness to let me ‘experiment’ with our house and garden. And when I say experiment, there are no guarantees that my attempts will turn out as I expect them to.

I love the acronym D.I.Y. (Do It Yourself), and I truly believe that I can. I love home decorating magazines, and buy many (now I buy them at thrift shops), home maintenance books, home renovation TV shows, and Pinterest (oh, how I love Pinterest). I love hardware stores that do not ask me what I am picking up for my husband (and yes, I have had that … three times in one store in one day, by the same guy, who I corrected the first two times … and no, I have not returned there).

Working, extra kids, and extracurricular activities of the kids, have put the kibosh to much of my experimental processes in recent years. I find I do not even have time to ‘dream’ about what I could do, let alone do it! But, this summer was to be different.

I started dreaming the last day before summer break, and have enough ideas to keep me busy until the New Year. The picture at the right was my fist inspiration. I loved how it could provide a place for me to hide to sit and read, or write, or for any of us to tie our shoes.

So, a week and a half into the summer break, I went where no wife should go so without their husband’s agreement … I took our hallway closet totally and completely apart. I’m talking all of the built-in shelves and rod, and the carpet too. By the time poor hubby came home from work, the closet that once housed our coats, shoes, school snacks, water bottles, insulated coffee cups, dog food, boxes of tissues, and poo bags, was as naked as a jay bird (what a weird simile … is a jay bird naked?).

My hubby did not faint, he did not frown, he did not even walk away trying to pretend that what he saw, he didn’t. My hubby said, “I am guessing you have decided on your first project.” To which I smiled, and he smiled, both of us knowing that I was a happy as a pig in … (another simile, but this one I get, because I have seen a pig in mud).

I then shared with him the picture, and reminded him of my five dollar fund that would be paying for this newest of experiments (I always feel self-conscious about the costs of my little experiments, not that hubby has ever made me feel that way, it’s just me). He smiled and said, “looks good.”

Once the project is completed (completed is NOT my specialty, but I am trying to overcome that weak point in my life) I will write a post about it, complete with pictures. So far I am amazed by how wonderfully it is going.

I really do think my hubby is brave. In a world where men still seem to feel the need to control much of life around them, my hubby is confident in who he is … confident enough that he lets me also be who I am, and for that I am immensely thankful.

Note: To see the ‘continuing story’ check out The Closet Reno Part 1

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