The Sunroom

20 Dec

Hello? Anyone still out there?

I’m crawling back out from my long blogging hiatus to write about our most exciting reno to date! For as long as we’ve lived in this house we’ve wanted to turn our never used screened in porch into a sunroom that was open to the rest of the house. We finally saved up enough money to make it happen, and with construction just having come to an end, I thought it was high time I catalogued the progress here.

Construction began in October and took about two weeks. We hired out the majority of the dirty work, but Steve and I took on the paneled ceiling (never again!), the floors, and all the painting. I faithfully took pictures throughout the process, so I’ll let those do the talking.

Shall we start with the befores?






The odd non functional window you see above and below used to be a set of sliding glass doors. They were taken out in favor of more room for kitchen cabinets at some point, leaving a hole in the exterior brick that was filled with siding and the window. We opted to take this all out and drywall over it.


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While we were at it, we decided to enclose the back of our garage as well. It started its life as a carport, and somewhere along the way someone added a garage door but left the back open. Here’s the back of the garage from the screened porch door:


Once demo was finished, construction moved very quickly.






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Strips of wood were attached the ceiling so we later had something to attach the paneling to.


A ductless mini split system was added to heat and cool the space.

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Coming home the day the old sliding glass doors were removed was a very exciting day!

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That’s pretty much where the contractor’s work ended at the end of October/early November. Shortly thereafter Steve and I left for a much anticipated two week trip to Europe. We came back home from a truly wonderful vacation the Friday night before Thanksgiving. Saturday morning we found ourselves wide awake at 5 am, and ventured out for breakfast and somehow ended up at Home Depot buying panels for the ceiling before 7 am.

Over the course of two weekends, we installed the tongue and groove panels.




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The actual installation wasn’t too terrible thanks to some rubber mallets and my dad’s nail gun. It was filling the over 600 (!) holes and knots overhead that was truly miserable. Then sanding them all down. Then, after one coat of primer, discovering all the nail holes and knots I missed. So it required another round of filling and sanding and priming before we were able to put up two coats of paint. Torture. I’m done complaining now. Really, we’re thrilled with the result.


Especially after installing crown molding.

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Within the last couple of weeks, I painted the walls and trim.



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And last weekend, we installed the floors.


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We’re pretty pleased with how well the new floors blend with the old. It will never be perfect since the new floors are engineered, but visually the difference isn’t too jarring.


It’s our new Christmas tree room 🙂


Two days ago the chairs I ordered for the room in November arrived. They’re the Pottery Barn Maxton slipcovered chairs, and I love them. I pulled out the table that’s between them that we bought at an estate sale for $100 a couple years ago. It’s been floating around without a real home for awhile, and I love it here. The green vase is one of a set that I purchased at Target on clearance ages ago. The plan is to turn them into lamps!

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Across from the chairs, I’ve been trying to decide what size sofa to order.

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I finally pulled the trigger on the Pottery Barn Comfort Square sofa in cream. It will be a two month wait for it to arrive, but I’m very excited about it!


Onto the other side of the room:


When the Christmas tree isn’t hogging this space, we’re hoping for a small (very small it seems) dining space. Something that will be enough for the two of us everyday, but can be extended to accommodate more for casual dining. Since we’re dealing with a very tight space, I’ve started researching gate leg dining tables. I came across this option from Thomasville (though it’s marketed as a sofa table, I think it would fit our needs very well).

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We would keep it closed with two chairs flanking it most of the time, then open one leaf for our use. With a little bit of rearranging, we could open it all the way to accommodate up to 6. I plan on searching antique stores for more viable options as well.

Phew. I think we’re all caught up now. I’m hoping to continue documenting progress as we go! Worth noting, the bookshelves we started building over a year ago are still not complete. They are substantially closer, but we haven’t quite crossed the finish line yet. Steve thinks he’ll knock em out during his “Christmas vacation”. More on that to come! Also, we’re about to kick start a master bath reno. In the Spring, we’re hoping to do something about our tragic backyard which you’ve seem glimpses of above. A patio and terracing are in order, I believe. Also, painting the exterior of the sunroom and back of the garage.

Thanks to all who are checking in, and many wishes for a very Merry Christmas and Happy New year!

Around Here

27 Jan

Remember a few months ago when I talked about renovating our linen closet? Really, how silly is it that we renovated a linen closet? But we did. We enclosed a weird vent, covered the existing washer/dryer hookups with a removable cover, and finally added shelves.








There’s a bit of trim that needs to be added, which you can see in the bottom left in the photo above. We’ll get that added eventually, but for now it’s done. And more importantly, it’s functional!

I also got around to adding some curtains to the guest room.


They are Ikea Ritva curtains. I purchased 2 panels, cut them in half, added a seam to the cut edge, and hemmed them. A lot of work, but I wasn’t interested in paying $100 for 4 full panels. They do close completely and cover the window should guests want to close them.

A while ago, I shared a picture of this cute little black table we received from family.


It was in really rough shape. I used wood filler on the top to smooth out the gouges. After a good sanding, I primed and painted, and here it is now.


Pretty cute, right? I used Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze. I was going for more charcoal/black (which is what the swatch appears to be in the store and in my google image research), but I’m pleased with the green tone. Given the rest of my house, this isn’t a big surprise! It will live in this corner of the new office. Perfect fit!

Speaking of the office, my updates on the bookshelf progress stopped mostly because the actual progress did too. We got them to a decent place in time for Christmas and then life  got in the way. Here is how they stand now.



Since my last update, we added the trim and backing to the shelves. We planned on leaving the backs open to the wall, but because the walls aren’t plum, there were huge gaps between the back of the shelves and the wall. Adding the backing helps disguise the issue. Obviously, it would have been far better to add these from the get go. Adding them so late in the game resulted in a lot of extra work and a lot of extra curse words.

Steve has started working on constructing the doors for the bottom of the bookcases, I’d guess he’s about halfway done with them. Between his work schedule and other commitments though, it will probably be months before they are completely finished.

This weekend I got started on recovering the chair for the office. I purchased it for $20 from Goodwill 3 years ago.



And now:





I got an itch to get this started, so I started stripping the fabric on Saturday. Doing this in the guest bedroom was probably not the best decision, but the chair won’t fit down the basement stairs (they are only 30 inches wide), and hauling it outside to the rear basement entry didn’t sound like any fun at all.  I still haven’t picked a new fabric, so I need to get on that!

Happy Monday, and thanks for checking in!

The New Dining Room

21 Jan

Happy New Year to you all!

I’m back with more details and pictures of our formal living room turned dining room. We got the room pulled together just in time to host a really fun Christmas dinner at our house.

It was lovely all dressed up for the holiday.


And a far cry from where it stood only a few days prior.


And here’s a few more pictures of what it looks like now.

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The two bookcases will be emptied once the office bookcases are complete. I’m toying with the idea of having Steve add doors to the bottom and top of them to turn them into china cabinets. I have no idea if that’s even doable, but I would like 2 matching cabinets opposite each other in here. The one we have now is an old Ikea one I painted and has several chips (despite sanding and priming, the paint didn’t adhere very well to the laminate).

Also, it wasn’t until I looked at these pictures that I realized how off center the rug is. Looks like it can be moved a good foot toward the back wall. Amazing what you see in pictures that isn’t obvious in person!

Anyway, I am thrilled with the end result and so pleased to have this room put together.

Some details:

Wall color: Benjamin Moore Coastal Fog

Light fixture: Hampton Bay Barcelona Chandelier

Rug: Seagrass from Natural Home Rugs

Upholstered dining chairs: Ikea Hendriksdal (I don’t think the armchair version is available anymore)

Sconces: Ikea Rodd Wall Lamp (spray painted gold and cord painted to match the walls)

Curtain fabric: Essential Stripe in Hickory

Chair Pillow Fabric: Braemore Fern Fabric

Bookcases and china cabinet are all old Ikea pieces purchased for our first apartment 7 years ago.

The rest was either passed down to us or purchased at an estate sale, antique market, or thrift store.

Not too shabby for such a hodge podge!

Merry Christmas

24 Dec

From our home to yours!




























Bookcase Progress

17 Dec

The bookcase bases are in!


Originally we were planning on priming and painting each individual piece before the installation but at the last minute we decided against it. Since this is just the shell of the bookcases, only the insides and the counter need to be painted at this point, and that’s a fairly simple process in this state.

There are 4 individual cases along the wall. Each case is made up of 2 side pieces and 6 supports.


You can see that Steve added the supports in the front and back of the case in key spots. Each case is held together by a series of dowels, wood screws, and glue. I wish I had a picture of the assembly process, but it required 2 sets of  hands. Putting them all together was relatively simple but made somewhat complicated by walls that are not square.










Steve will anchor all 4 cases to the back wall and then to each other. This weekend he plans on adding trim to make them look like one unit. The trim will be added between each case above and below the counter, along the top, and along the bottom. Crown molding and base boards will be reinstalled on top of the trim leaving some reveal which I think will be a nice touch. We’ll be using preprimed boards for the trim so a final coat (or 2) of paint will be added once everything is in.

Painting is my job this week. I’m planning on 2 coats of primer and 2-3 coats of paint depending on coverage. I will leave the last coat for after the trim is installed. I got the first coat of primer on this evening 


The final steps will be to make doors for the space below the counter and to add shelves above.

In other news, we got the new light fixture installed in the dining room which I love! More pics soon when it (hopefully) isn’t such a wreck!


11 Dec

Steve and I are currently in the midst of our annual end of year push to complete projects in time for Christmas. Last year, it was the wainscoting and crown molding in the hallway. I’m crossing my fingers that next year it will be putting the finishing touches on our screened porch to sunroom conversion. This year however, it’s turning our dining room into an office and our formal living room into a dining room.

I mentioned it before, but we’re making the switch for several reasons. We need an office, a larger dining room would be nice, and we don’t have a need for a formal living room (the family room and eventual sunroon will make for plenty of seating areas). Steve has been drawing (and re-drawing) plans for his office for months. There are a ton of books in our house and not nearly enough storage, so building bookshelves in the office is a big priority. We looked into using the Ikea Billy bookcases and making them look built-in, but in the end Steve decided to build his own from scratch. Here’s a look at the plans he made in google sketch up. The bookcases will run against the entire back wall of the office.


And here’s a reminder of the dining room looked like pre-office conversion:



Before Steve got started building the bookshelves, we cleared out the old dining room and took out the base boards and crown molding on the back wall.


While Steve got started building the first of 4 shelves with his father last weekend, I painted the room. We went with Sherwin Williams Intellectual Gray.

Last night Steve dry fit the first shelf against the wall.



I am so impressed! This one will eventually be moved up against the left wall and the shelves will run wall to wall. He still needs to build cabinet doors for the bottom, a counter top above the base cabinet, and the actual shelves. Rinse and repeat 3 more times. I think we’ll get started priming and painting this week, and he’s hopeful to get the other 3 built this weekend. The cabinet doors and shelves may wait until after Christmas.

The existing seagrass rug that was in this room will stay. Steve will likely build a new desk. We picked up this cute little table from his grandmother’s house when she recently moved which will live here by the window. It needs a few repairs then I think we’ll give it a fresh coat of black paint.


I picked up this leather chair at goodwill years ago. I had no idea what I would do with it, but it was so cute and so cheap (maybe $20) that I couldn’t say no.


It’s in super rough shape and in desperate need of a new upholstery job. In the new year, I’m going to try to re-upholster it on my own. It will require taking it down to the frame and building it back up. Sounds scary, but I’ve been doing a lot of research and reading a lot of books, so I’m hoping it will work out. It will go in a corner of the office, and I think it will make the perfect reading chair.

We will use the office as an opportunity to finally frame and hang our diplomas, and we’ve got some other ideas for wall art. For now, the lantern light fixture will stay here as it’s too small for the new dining room. Steve would ultimately like something else in here. I think it looks great in the office and should stay, but if he finds something else I’ll probably move it to our bedroom.

Finally, I’m going to keep the brown and cream striped curtains in here. I actually already made another set and moved the existing set into the new dining room since there are two windows in there. For consistency sake, I decided I will make yet another set to hang back up in the office.

Moving into the new dining room, converting this room is taking much less work. Here’s where it stood a few months ago.


We had an electrician add an over head light since one didn’t exist before. We purchased this light last weekend at Home Depot to hang over the table (still need to actually hang it):


I also painted in here a couple of weeks ago using Benjamin Moore’s Coastal Fog.


I rolled out the herringbone seagrass rug that used to be in our family room and moved in our pedestal side table and head dining chairs. The lamp was another goodwill find years ago. It originally was filled with seashells. I emptied those out, rewired the lamp, and used rub and buff on the base to freshen it up. The mirror is from the guest room. This room will be wood heavy and I felt like the texture on this mirror would make the room feel a bit more casual.

These shots are from last weekend before I hung the curtains.


Once the curtains were hung the next morning, we emptied the old dining room into here which turned this room into pure chaos.





You may notice 2 dining tables in here. One is our existing table, and the other we got from Steve’s grandmother. The table was her mothers and is from the sixties. We love it. It has 2 leaves and can go from a 4-8 seater. This is exactly what I was looking for in a table to use in the eventual sunroom, so we’re saving it for in there (the idea of eating our casual meals at a table with some much family history makes me very happy). For now, it will probably be used as Steve’s desk until he builds one, and it will be use for extra seating at Christmas which is why it’s here.

Here’s my new Christmas Tree skirt basket! How optimistic to take it out amongst the mess! I got it on Cyber Monday from Terrain (now that I have it, I think it’s overpriced but I love it and I got free shipping so what can you do?).


On the back wall where the chairs are lined up, we will put yet another piece of furniture we received from Steve’s grandmother. Really, she gave us some great pieces, and there’s several more I haven’t shown yet. The caveat is that it needs a bit of work, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get most of that taken care of this weekend. Here’s a truly awful shot of it in the basement, but hopefully you can get an idea of what it looks like.


I’m going to re-hang my arrangement of silver platters that I had in the old dining room above it, and I’ll add my milk glass and green plates to the mix.

As well as some sconces! I purchased these from Ikea last week and spray painted them gold to tie into the ginger jar lamp on the other wall.


Those are the plans and progress as of now! Fortunately, I think we can knock out a lot of the remaining work this weekend (leaving just painting and installing the bookshelves left to do). Plus, we took the week of Christmas off so there will be time for finishing touches then.

This may be delusional, but I’m also hoping to decorate the inside of the house for Christmas this weekend. At the very least, I’d like to get a tree up! I’ll report back next week!

Catching Up

22 Sep

There’s quite a bit going on around the house I’d like to document and catch you up on. Here we go!

First of all, I think 95% of the people who find themselves on this site did so by researching how to bind their own rugs and carpet remnants. You can see my tutorial on how I did it for my hallway rug here.


So here’s an update on how it’s holding up. In a word: beautifully! I kind of cut corners by using pressure sensitive seaming tape to seam the rug instead of heat activated tape. In the 8 months we’ve had the rug down in a very high traffic area of our home, it hasn’t presented any issues.  I also added a rubber backing beneath the carpet to protect the floors. I think this helps the seam by keeping it all in place. A few times a little strand of carpet has worked its way loose from where the binding is, but I snip it with scissors and all is well so far.

We recently had to roll the rug up to cut the linen closet door down so it could clear the rug. When I rolled it back out, the seam was really noticeable and very messy looking. I smoothed it out with my hand and it looks good as new again.

Speaking of the linen closet, it’s been basically unusable for as long as we’ve lived here, but that’s quickly changing. A previous owner outfitted this tiny space with the necessary connections to add a stackable washer/dryer unit here. It’s an impractical use of space for us (no room for storage, would only accommodate small units, we have an actual need for a linen closet, etc), so we do laundry in the basement using the existing hook ups there.




So we’ve been stuck with the space hogging laundry hook ups and no shelving. We don’t want to remove the hook ups because we feel like it could appeal to someone wanting to buy the house in the future. So we’re working around them. Additional eyesore to the space includes this vent on the left:



We’re not sure why it was left in the open in the first place. Maybe because the builder didn’t think it was worth the effort to drywall it in for a storage space? Clearly they didn’t realize that in 50+ years a homeowner would come along with a weird obsession with pretty closets and this stupid vent would inhibit her ability to paint around it. Inconsiderate.

So I had Steve frame it out and dry wall it.


And I spackled and sanded.


And painted! Stripes!




Still need to add some base boards around the new drywall, build a cover for the hook ups on the right, add supports for more shelving, and actually add shelves.

Moving outside, I’m happy to report that the plants that we planted during Plantapalooza 2012 are thriving! I diligently watered them all last year and have been adding a few scopes of worm castings to the base of all the plants twice a year in addition to mulching.

Here’s a look at the bed on the right of the house in May, 2012:


And September, 2013:


The arborvitaes are close to 6 feet now!

This Spring I added a row of dwarf butterfly bushes in front of the boxwoods.


Aren’t they lovely? They’ve put on a show all summer, and true to their name, butterflies (and bumble bees!) are always paying them a visit.

And here’s an update on this bed that got super weedy and sad last year. Before:


In April:


And now:


I’m thinking about adding a few more of the asiatic jasmine plants so it will fill in faster, but I’m really pleased with the progress regardless.

Here’s a full shot of the front today:


We’d like to remove large portions of the lawn (weeds) this fall and reseed. We’ll see if it happens. We’re having sewer issues in the back that the county is working on now. We don’t want to do anything until they’re no longer driving their trucks through the yard. And who knows how long that will be or even when they’ll show up again.

I’m also making slow but steady progress on the ivy removal front. I removed almost all of the ivy from the side yard over the last few weeks, and I’m having some success with chemical weed killers on the stuff in the back. Much more to do. I’d also like to note that my poison ivy incident count has increased from 2 to 5. I can’t even complain about it at this point. It’s my fault. But I’m persevering.

Moving back inside, we discovered a popped nail in the roof that led to a pretty serious leak in out master bathroom. The paint was starting to bubble which tipped us off. So I started peeling it:


Which led to some exploratory holes:


And now this:


The good news is the leak was fixed as soon as we realized it existed. The bad news is I think more of the bathroom walls need to go in order for it to all dry out. More to come, I guess. For some reason fixing all of this just doesn’t seem like a priority right now. Maybe we need to readjust our priorities?

Moving on to the master bedroom, I’m very pleased to report it’s almost done! Unsurprisingly, it looks nothing like the plans I laid out a few months ago. Here’s a few peeks:




The plan morphing started when I scored a truly ridiculous deal on the chair in the corner. Then I re-upholstered the headboard. Yes, the one I had just finished. Really, Steve wanted to kill me. Then I added the pillow out of the fabric I thought I would use in the guest room but didn’t. More on this space when it’s really done. Still to finish is a rug and new night stands. Both are in progress. I happened upon another carpet remnant for the rug in here.


And we’re using this tutorial from Take the Side Street to turn cheap-o Ikea Rast night stands into something a little more special and pretty. We’re just about done putting one of them together:


Then I’ll paint them Sherwin Williams Link Gray (which is a pretty close match to the lamps on the dresser):


Lastly, we recently had an electrician in for a few updates. One update was adding an outlet to the entry hall for my lamp:


The other was to add an overhead light to our formal living room. Which we’ve never really used. Since it’s the last remaining untouched room in the house, we’ve been putting a bit more thought into what to do with it. We still plan on enclosing our screened in porch and adding a small dining and sitting area there. Since three separate living spaces (the family room, sunroom, and a formal living room) is a bit overkill for a 2,000 square foot house, we decided not to use this front room as a formal living room.


Instead, we decided the space would better serve as our dining room since the current space for the dining room is teeny tiny. We’re about to inherit a few pieces of furniture from Steve’s grandmother, including a beautiful old chest that would be perfect for dining storage. It would swallow our current dining room whole, so making the move makes a lot of sense for us.

So what to do about the old dining room? Well, Steve has used our third bedroom as an office since we moved in, but we feel like creating a study for him in the old dining room is the way to go. He plans to build built-in bookshelves along the back wall. All of the bookshelves we currently have in the house are bursting so we truly need the storage space. He’ll also build a nice new desk that will hopefully be a huge step up from his beat up Ikea one now.

And when we are using the dining room, I think we use the study as a staging area for food and such (since the kitchen is on the small side anyway) which will also gap the awkwardness of not having the dining room right off the kitchen. Once we finish up some of the projects mentioned above, our focus will turn to these 2 spaces. More to come!

Whew. I think we’re all caught up for now, guys!