So last we left off, our kitchen was looking a little like this.

Not completely tragic, but still a long way to go. This picture captures what we lived with until the next weekend. Once the work week resurfaces, Wes and I are pretty much useless. The last thing we want to do when we get home is start a project. This may differ a lot from other DIY couples out there. Call us busy, call us lazy, call us whatever you want. DIY is for the weekend around here. Any hoo, the following weekend, we picked back up where we left off which included installing the countertop and putting our sink back in! Yep, we managed to make it through the week with only our bathroom sink. Not really that difficult honestly. We ordered in a lot, used paper plates, pretty much the same thing we’ve been doing since we moved in and had no dishwasher. But that was all about to change.

Saturday, December 4

We have our game face on and to-do list in front of us. Plumbing was the name of the game for us. We started with the sink. Wes cut a lovely hole in our beutiful butcher block and slid our sink right in. We decided to keep our existing sink because (a) we have loved it since we bought it and (b) to save money. Why buy a new sink when we already had a perfectly good one! After the sink was in place we went to work on the dishwasher. Now everyone seems to be pretty amazed that we installed it ourselves. It actually was one of the easiest projects so I’m not sure why the shock. Maybe because it requires an electrical connection or maybe because you have to hook it up to water? If you or your significant other is comfortable with electricity and water then this is certainly something someone can do at home. After about half an hour and a trial run to make sure we didn’t have any leaks, we were officially a dishwasher-runnin’ family!

Now that was one of the worst pictures ever taken but it’s all I have so deal. :)

After the dishwasher install we decided to relax since we felt so accomplished. We just loaded up the dishwasher and literally washed every thing in the house which at the moment was still covered with dust from the demolition the week before. *hangs head in shame* Then we settled in for a Twilight Saga marthon. Yep, thats who we are.  Best Saturday ever.

Sunday, December 5

Rest.

Week of December 6

Wes decided to be proactive after work one day this week and installed the upper cabinets. Love him! He also took the opportunity to start putting things away after running them through the dishwasher. Love him even more! And if that wasn’t enough, he even installed the base and casing.

It almost looks like a kitchen again! Oh, and I almost forgot one thing…look what Santa brought us!

Best Christmas present ever!

So with some of my favorite bloggers (Young House Love and Bower Power) are moving out and moving on up into their possible forever homes, it’s got me thinking…if I were house shopping, what would I we be looking for?

Like most house obsessed couples, Wes and I dream about our next house just about as much as we talk about the next renovation at our current house. Randomly spouting out, “I can’t wait til we have a dining room” or “In the next house, we definitely need a storage shed.” Thats just a part of our everyday conversation but I decided to take that a little bit further. I’m making a wist list. (A) because I love lists and (B) because I love pretend house shopping.

Here’s our wishlist for now:

  • 3 or more bedrooms
  • 2 or more bathrooms
  • 9′ ceilings or higher
  • garage
  • storage shed/workshop
  • formal dining room
  • kitchen large enough to accomodate an island

Now these are just a few things that we would want but don’t have now. There are certainly things we would want that we already have like wood floors and things that we want but aren’t deal breakers like a fireplace. In addition to the characteristics of a future home, we’ve also determined that we won’t be staying in the city for Phase 2 of our home ownership. We are looking more towards the outskirts of Charlotte where there are better schools, cheaper prices, and more land. Apparently I’m a country girl at heart despite how many years I’ve spent trying to convince myself otherwise.

With all these tidbits in mind, I did a little virtual window shopping and look what I came up with!

 This is a beautiful farmhouse built in 1915 in Mt. Holly, NC. Um, yes, please. This bad boy not only meets all the requirements above with 11′ ceilings and original hardwood floors, it also has a 2 car detached garage with an apartment above AND another attached single garage.

And did you see that front porch? Just stick me in a rocking chair and I will be happy to grow old in this house!

Now here’s another Mt. Holly beauty.

This house has FOUR bedrooms and a screened in porch on the side and entire back of the home. It also has a brick exterior which the husband loves! The clincher for me…an unfinished basement with fireplace just waiting for a facelift!

As I’m sure you figured out by now, we are all about a fixer upper but not a house that can’t be lived in. These houses just need a little TLC from a home improvement obsessed family and are all under $200,000. Now don’t read too much into this post, we aren’t moving anytime soon. I just love a little window shopping to help pass the afternoon on a rainy day.

Shortly after our wedding day (during my weekly Saturday chat with my mother), I realized that all the important milestones in my life have occurred during odd numbered years. I had always thought even numbers were my cup of tea until I actually broke it down.

2001: Graduated from high school

2003: Moved into my first apartment

2005: Graduated from college, started dating Wes, started my job as a real interior designer (Big Year!)

2007: Married Wes

2009: Started renovating our home

2011: Here’s hoping this year is as lucky as the others.  

Happy New Year from our home to yours!

So I left you with a little bit of a teaser last time.

Saturday, November  27

Saturday on our home improvement holiday weekend, was spent finishing up the hardwood floor install. I have to say that this was way easier than I thought. Well, granted Wes did a lot of the work but I was certainly the trusty sidekick. To start with, we brought as much of our planks into the kitchen so they were within reach and started laying out row after row. This was a great tip from the hubby’s shop manager who suggested you lay it out and cut your ends all at once. That way you don’t have a lot of pausing at the end of each row. You can get a rhythm going which is really important to getting a project done! So we laid it out and then went to town installing each row. Our flooring was tongue and groove with a staple installation which meant that we needed a rubber mallet and a pneumatic stapler. We certainly didn’t buy one but rented one for a day and a half from Home Depot. Because of the tongue and groove construction, we had to make sure the planks were locked in place. Thats where the rubber mallet came into play. It helps whack those guys together whichout damaging the sides of your flooring. Once you have a tight fit, you just go down the row and whack the pneumatic stapler which attaches the planks to the subfloor and helps get the planks even tighter together. Thats it. Way easier than tiling in my opinion. No thinset, no grout. Definitely not as messy. Love it!

So the floor was done. We certainly felt like we could do a little happy dance after this because finally a major milestone had been accomplished. We had a floor. But the fun doesn’t stop there, we still had to finish them. So we headed to Home Depot (Trip #382…ok, I lost count) to rent a floor sander.

We get back home with the giant floor sander and Wes went to town. (It has just been pointed out to me that I did a horrible job of taking any action shots of our project. Um, I’m sorry. I was kind of busy helping remodel the entire kitchen :)).

<insert picture of Wes sanding if I had one, but I don’t because I’m lame.>

After sanding the floor, we started to vacuum all the dust so that we had a perfectly debris-free floor for staining. Thats when the vacuum died. Awesome. Off to Home Depot I go (Trip #1,082) to purchase a shop vac. I guess we needed one anyway. At least thats what I tell myself while shelling out $50 for a stupid vacuum that we don’t have room to store.

Back home with the shop vac and it has way more sucking power than I thought. Sweet! This thing is actually pretty handy. The floor is now debris free and Wes starts to stain and I’m in charge of wiping. So we start in the top right corner and do small sections at a time making sure to move quickly so we don’t have sections that dry before we can wipe and blend the edges together. Again, mucho importante. This helps avoid lapping marks and gives you nice even coats. It also leaves a thin coat of stain that the wood actually absorbs instead of thick puddles that will wear over time.

BAM! Stained floors. Now I have to make another statement here which I’m sure you have heard before. You get what you pay for. We did not purchase our stain or polyurethane at our local home improvement store. We chose to purchase our supplies at a local paint store that provides more professional use products. We tried a few sample pieces with Minwax stain and a poly found at Home Depot and did not get the results we wanted so we decided to shell out the extra cash to get a better product. The moment we completed the sample, we knew we made the right choice. The finish was beautiful. Is the color the exact same as our existing? No but it is pretty darn close if you ask me. Something that we weren’t going to achieve with the cheaper stuff. Just a little friendly advice from me to you.

Anyway, after applying the stain with a rag and wiping off with a rag, we let it dry the appropriate amount of time (just read the label) and then added our first coat of polyurethane. We chose a water based polyurethane since we would be in the house while it dried (oil based poly is super smelley) and it dries faster. Pretty critical when you are trying to have a functioning kitchen as soon as possible.

I finally took an action shot. Go Me!

Before polying, make sure to put on your protective booties (refer to photo above. Cute, huh?). This keeps your shoes from scuffing up the floor and messing up you finish. Then lightly sand so that the floor will absorb the poly. You apply the poly with a sponge applicator that can be purchased at Home Depot/Lowes. You want to make sure and get even coats. No puddles. Important! We chose to apply (3) coats of polyurethane for a super hard finish that filled the grain and left us with a smooth top coat. Make sure to let the floor dry the appropriate amount of time between coats and sand each time.

This step carried into Sunday a bit beacuse of the drying time. Patience, my friend. Patience.

We just had to stare at the beautiful floor until it dried and keep the dogs away from it. Not too difficult actually when you have lazy dogs like ours that just sleep all the time.

We spent the afternoon painting the base cabinets since we aren’t very good at sitting still. By Sunday night the floors finally were dry. I went grocery shopping for anything that could be prepared in a microwave and Wes started a little project of his own. Installing the base cabinets. What?! Yep, we are pretty impatient around here. I came back from grocery shopping to this.

Oh, did I forget to mention that we painted the walls too. Yep, early Sunday morning before the last coat of poly, I carfully painted the walls. Most stressful painting of my life. If I had gotten paint on the new floors, I’m pretty sure Wes would have been filing for divorce. We chose very neutral Benjamin Moore Ashwood which is kind of a cream with a hint of green. I really like it. More neutral than I’m used to which is why I’m looking forward to adding some art and splashes of color in there.

But back to the cabinets. Don’t they look amazing? I love white cabinets. They make me happy and the butcher block counter?! Awesome!!

So what do you think? An improvement or worse than when we started? We still had a ways to go but we were finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Friday, November 26

6:30 AM – Get the coffee brewin’ because Home Depot is calling our name! You don’t realize how much you need a home improvement store until it’s not actually open. Naturally Home Depot is our first stop of the morning to get our plumbing supplies for the retrofit. You see, this is what our washer connection looked like before.

 

Tragic, isn’t it? Yep, our water supply and drain were actually located outside of the wall. Most new construction has the nice recessed box in the wall with all those handy dandy connections that you may be used to seeing. Well, we were determined to hide this sucker. We specifically wanted to tackle this project since our floor was going to be completely removed and we could access the crawlspace with no problem-o. With our handy plumber Wade in tow, we hopped on over to Home Depot on Black Friday. AHHH! It actually wasn’t that bad. I guess tools and appliances aren’t on everyone’s Christmas lists this year. (In case you are interested, they are definitely on mine…hint, hint.) Anyway, we didn’t have to tackle any crowds and managed to scoop up all the pvc plumbing components we could get our hands on.

With all the supplies ready to go, Wes and Wade tackled this.

With absolutely no help from me, they ended up with this.

Awesome! All nice and neat and tucked away out of sight. While we were messing around with the water in the house, we went ahead and added a waterline for our future refrigerator’s icemaker.

Isn’t that fancy? It makes me feel fancy. LIke by having waterlines tucked away in your wall actually makes you more of an adult. Thats the way it felt to me. We were on our way to a grown up kitchen.

Lunch Time: Wade’s plumbing contribution is complete and he hits the road. We are forever indebted to him. We scarf down a quick bite and clean up the work area. There is noting that Wes and I hate more than a messy and disorganized workspace. We are perfect for each other, aren’t we? So we straighten and get our final piece of subfloor secured. We are almost ready for the…wait for it…new flooring.

We do have one last step before the beautiful red oak planks can be slapped into place. A bit ole roll of black felt paper. This is really to keep moisture away from the wood so they don’t warp. Mucho importante. This was probably the easiest step so far. You just roll it on the floor and staple it. Done! Oh, but don’t forget to use your trusty chalk line again. You don’t want to forget where those joists are.

If you aren’t thinking this looks better than the before, then you should stop reading now and get your eyes checked because this is one beautiful site compared to the torn vinyl we have endured for 4 years.

Ok, so technically this isn’t the end of our work on Saturday but I’m tired so you’ll just have to hang around for the next installment. Goodnight!

Thursday, November 25: Thanksgiving (aka The Day Home Depot is Not Open)

This time Wes and I start the day together. After a very rushed cup of coffee together and a quick shower, we decide to get right to work. The challenge: removing the original flooring.

 

After realizing that there was no way for us to pull the (10)layers of flooring up manually, we resort to the circular saw. We had already decided to put down a new subfloor since we knew there were some soft spots in the floor around the sink but even if the subfloor was the remain, we could just set the depth of the circular saw so not to cut anything we didn’t want to. Let ‘er rip!

There’s no going back now. We have officially removed a portion of the flooring and it became very clear that this was the method to continue with. Thank goodness I’ve got Wes around or otherwise I would still be sitting indian style on the floor with my hammer and crowbar trying to pry up each layer. I dare you to guess who’s the brains of the operation around here. Anyway, after removing the first piece, we realize that we are up against much more than we thought. The flooring was a whopping 1 1/2″+ thick!

No wonder we had to step up into the kitchen! At least now with the original flooring out of the way, we can see that when we put down the new 3/4″ subfloor and 3/4″ thick red oak flooring, everything will be nice and level. I can breathe a little easier now. With one success already, Wes continues cutting up the floor and I continue taking it outside to the trash pile…in the rain…lame. In the midst of the cutting and the trash hauling, we uncover a little set back.

A big giant hole that resides right under the cabinetry/sink location. We always thought that spot felt a little soft while we were doing the dishes. Turns out the flooring had rotted away (probably some sort of water damage) and the previous owners had just added a piece of 2×4 to help support the cabinet. No fixing the subfloor or any other structural item. Nope, just wanted to focus on the cabinetry. We would really hate for that to sink cabinet to be wobbly. Please tell me you sense my sarcasm or we can’t be friends any more. Previous owners = morons. Luckily Wes had anticipated something like this so we had already purchased the materials to repair it. House – 0, Us – 1. Score!

Company Arrives: Some how we rope Wes’s Dad (Mike) into helping us with the project on Thanksgiving. All we had to do was buy him lunch. We definitely owe him big time. In addition to that, Wes’s Mom’s husband (Wade) shows up with all his plumbing tools in tow (he’s a plumber…yes, we love him). Mike and I move forward with prying up the original subfloor while Wes & Wade get a game plan in place for the new plumbing.

You see, our plumbing for the washer looked like this.

Ohmygosh, that picture is embarrassing. The plumbing was in front of the wall. Yep, just what you want your visitors to see as you entertain them in the kitchen. Luckily with our trusty plumber sidekick, we can move the plumbing into the wall and while we are at it, add a waterline for a future refrigerator ice maker (You’re welcome, Dad!). But as I mentioned earlier, Thanksgiving is one of the two days that all home improvement stores are closed. Trust me…we checked…3 of them.  Plumbing must wait until Friday. *Sigh*

 Back to the floor! Mike & I (with the help of Wes too) get the entire subfloor removed. And yes, I was a big part of that. I have the sore muscles, scraped knuckles, and bruises to prove it. I’m awesome. After completely freaking out the dogs with the no-floor-in-the-kitchen thing, we decide to get the new subfloor down before bed. You know, so the pups don’t drop straight into the crawl space when they want to get a drink of water. Mike & Wes handle the subfloor like pros. We chose a 3/4″ tongue and groove subfloor to give us the right height for our new hardwoods. After a little research, we determine that the best way to install a subfloor is to use a subfloor construction adhesive to glue the floor to the joists of your house as well as screw it. The adhesive keeps the floor from squeaking. We used Liquid Nails Subfloor Adhesive in case you are curious. So we glue, lay, and then chalk line. Yes,  we had an excuse to buy a chalk line. Super fun! We used the chalk line to mark where the joists were running so that the subfloor actually get screws to something instead of thin air.

 We install the floor running from the cased opening to the back door and leave the rest for Friday. We figure leaving access to the crawl space will be helpful with the plumbing install/modification. It will at least keep any one from having to actually crawl in the crawl space. Um…gross.

Oh, and one last thing before bed. We did experience one casualty from the day’s events.

My beloved schoolhouse globe met its match. It didn’t put up much of a fight against the 4×8 piece of subfloor. It’s alright though, I think it was actually a blessing in disguise. More on that later!

We have officially started the kitchen renovation and have added a slew of new DIY skills to our toolbox. Just a little reminder of where we started.

Here’s how Weekend 1 went down.

Wednesday, November 24

I’m on my own today. Wes isn’t lucky enough to have the day off so I give him my best Girl Scout’s Promise to get this show on the road. Wes believes me. I was very tempted to sit in my pajamas and watch Gilmore Girls all day but the excitement of a beautiful new kitchen kicked my bootie into overdrive and got me showered and dressed before 7:00 AM. I packed up all the items in the kitchen cabinets which was a little more difficult than I imagined since I we don’t have extra storage containers just lying around. So I unpacked containers in the attic so that I could pack them back up with kitchen stuff. The beauty of the packing exercise is that you realize how much junk you have and never use. I easily came across 20 things that I haven’t used in over a year. I see a yard sale in my future.

After emptying all the kitchen cabinets, I grabbed our trusty crowbar and started pulling out all the moulding in the kitchen. Then I remembered that I needed to find our utility knife (unsuccessful) so I can slice through the caulk first before pulling the little boogers out. Home Dept Trip #1. Return with a brand new utility knife and get started. Let me tell you, pulling out casing and moulding is no joke. Especially when the previous owner uses framing nails to attach the moulding. They also used roofing nails to attach the drywall to the studs. I can’t quite understand this. Doesn’t the box of nails/screws/fasteners tell you what they are best used for? Even I know this.

Distraction: After pulling out the casing and threshold around the doorway to the kitchen, I caught a glimpse of this…

 

I just had to find out what was under there. The idea that we may have hard wood floors underneath all that vinyl was eating away at me so I popped a squat and started ripping away. Well maybe not ripping away but making small tiny tears in an effort to eventually start ripping away. I just had to get it started, right?! Wrong. I was tearing and chipping away for what seemed like hours (probably more like 20 minutes). My tiny tears did reveal that we were dealing with MULTIPLE layers of vinyl. At this point, I had a total count of (4) sheet vinyls and (2) subfloors. Apparently demolition is highly over rated. The previous owners over the last 60 years decided to just put new flooring on top of the old, over and over and over again. So at this point I start mumbling rude comments about the previous owners and then I find…wait for it…hardwood floors underneath the vinyl. Shut Up!

Call from the husband/lunch time: I admit to getting distracted and that I haven’t quite finished removing all the moulding but I do share my latest discovery. Hardwoods! He is a little less excited since this means he may have to do all the plumbing and electrical work in the crawl space instead of taking advantage of the floor being removed and not having to endure the dreaded crawl space full of insects and nastiness. I can’t say I blame him.

Back to work: I ignore the flooring for now so that I can finish the moulding removal and feel like a task is complete and officially marked off the list. Bam! Done!

Now that I have officially completed my first construction task, I go back to the floor. This is eating away at me! Can we really return the wood flooring we purchased and keep the original hardwoods to the house! It’s got to be too good to be true!

And it was. Wes gets home from work and we really get down and dirty with the floor. We finally peel away a larger section and see what we are really working with. Our grand total comes to (5) sheet vinyls, (3) subfloors, (1) vinyl/linoleum tile, and antique heart pine hardwoods. Yes, I just said that. Antique heart pine hardwood planks. They are amazing or at least would have been amazing if one of the previous owners hadn’t stuck linoleum tile right on top of the beauties.

Ruined. My wood loving husband had a little bit of heartburn over this. We finally admit to ourselves that we can’t salvage the original hardwoods and that the circular saw is coming out. Yep, the only way to get through these (10) layers of flooring is to cut them out in chunks. And that is what we resolve to do…first thing in the morning. So we say good night to this.

We begin our shopping for kitchen renovation materials today. Wish us luck!

I’ve had fabric on the brain recently. Fabric for sofas, fabric for chairs, fabric for dog beds. All sorts of fabric dreams swirling around in my head. Everytime I start brainstorming, I end up thinking about natural fabrics. More specifically, burlap. I’m sure you have started seeing it pop up all over.

From pillows to chairs to tote bags. All burlap and even more specifically, burlap sacks turned home decor. I love it! Not only does it have this nubby natural texture but it also incorporates a graphic print. Love it! 

I’m actually thinking about DIY-ing the coffee sack look myself. Turns out when you google coffee sack, you find out that they cost a minimum of $50 for a sack, an empty sack no less. I don’t even get coffee beans out of the deal! So needless to say, the authentic coffee sack was off the list. Then I googled burlap, burlap is so dirt cheap its ridiculous. It must be the red headed step child of the fabric world. So my goal is to purchase some burlap and go to town with some stencils and paint to create the great graphic pattern that the expensive coffeee sacks bring to the table. If I go the DIY route, I will even be able to customize the graphic so it’s personal. Love it!

Here is my chair now:

I bought this bad boy about a million years ago at a local antique shop for $15. It has unfortunately remained in it’s original state since I purchased it but its time is coming soon. I’m going to steal a little inspiration from these guys…

 

 And revamp this neglected chair. Can’t wait to share my DIY burlap chair chair makeover!

With the cold temperatures finally arriving, our yard/exterior has been looking pretty pitiful. Well, even more pitiful than usual. We aren’t much for landscaping around here.

Evidence of that are our hanging baskets that have been empty all year.

So when I spotted (2) hanging baskets of pansies on clearance at Wal-mart for $5, I just couldn’t pass them up. Sure they won’t last long since I’m sure full fledge winter is right around the corner but heck, they were $5! So a quick and cheap little makeover for the weekend brought a little life to the front of our house.

Doesn’t it just brighten your mood to see a little color during the bleaker months of the year?

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