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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!

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!