The End of an Era

After living in and perfecting our first house for eight years, we found a new fixer upper that stole our hearts.  Our first house will always be our first house love, but we’re officially back to owning one house.  It’s a little sad,  but we’re so happy in the mountain house.  Even more so, we’re happy the buyers are happy in our old home.  Let’s take a walk down memory lane with a reverse before and after picture tour.

Living room before, recently opened to the kitchen:

After our move out:

Dining room before:

An empty after:

Kitchen, just after finishing a complete gut and remodel:

And after the after:

Guest bedroom before:

Now ready to house a cute little girl:

Main bathroom before:

After, emptied out:

Boys’ bedroom before:

And now, ready for the new owner’s stuff:

Master bedroom before:

And after, complete with the custom-made bed built (our buyer bought it from us):

Master bedroom before:


When Ben bought this house, the basement was completely unfinished.  Here it is after finishing it while I was pregnant with Everett:

And two years later:

My office, stocked and ready for work:

Now sad and empty, but ready to work for someone else:

The basement bathroom before:

We never did finish the steam shower under the stairs, but that can be a project for the new owner:

Laundry room and Ben’s reloading office before:

And after we moved everything out, including the washer and dryer:

The small basement bedroom as we had it just before moving:

And after moving:

The large basement bedroom pulled double duty, acting as both a bedroom and a storage room before:

When emptied, it feels even bigger:

Seeing the house empty is especially strange to me because I’ve never seen it this way.  Ben bought the house a couple years before we met, so he had already moved in.  If we’re in this house again, we’ll be visitors.  We’ve become friendly with our buyer, and we’d love to see how the house evolves over time.

Have you been a house after selling it?  Was it odd, or cool?  Did the new owner make any changes?

P.S.  To see true before and afters, check our Our First House page.

Favorite Painting Supplies

I’ve been painting again, this time in the dining room.  Are you ready for the biggest before and after of the year?!?  Here’s the before:


And after:

Such a big difference, right?  Not.  I knew when we started the kitchen we’d carry the color from the dining room through the kitchen.  I also knew we didn’t have enough of the blue paint on hand to cover everything.  So I bought another gallon to paint the kitchen and dining room.  If paint doesn’t come from the same can, there’s a chance the color will be off.  This was the case for the new kitchen paint and the old dining paint.

Before I started with the blue, I repainted the white to give it a nice, fresh coat.  Then I painted the walls.  While painting, I thought, “Hmm, I don’t think I’ve ever rounded up our favorite painting supplies.”  Today, I’ve wrangled our favorite painting supplies including

Purdy paint brushes:  A good brush can make all the difference.  I like an angled brush to get in corners and crannies by trim.  Remember to clean the brush well to prolong the life of your brush.

Foam roller covers:  For a smooth, professional looking paint job.  These high density foam roller covers don’t shed and the low nap leaves the surface as smooth as possible.

Frog tape:  I think the old phrase, “The coolest thing since sliced bread” should be updated to “The coolest thing since Frog Tape.”  Yes, it’s more expensive than regular masking or painters tape, but the results speak for themselves.  Little to no bleed through, just crisp lines.

Tweezers:  I don’t know about you, but after almost every paint job, small pieces of tape stay put.  I keep an old tweezer in my painting supplies to easily get those buggers off.

Disposable paint trays or aluminum foil:  Painting is enough of a pain, but clean up is even worse in my book.  I’ve started using aluminum foil to cover my paint tray.  When I’m done painting, just peel and toss.

Glidden paint:  Remember, your time spent painting isn’t worth it if your paint is junk.  In our humble opinions, Glidden is the best value paint.  Easy to apply, durable, and affordable.  Sure, Ben Moore is nice, but it also costs more.

What are your can’t live without paint supplies, tips, or tricks?

Please note:  We were not compensated for this post, we simply love these items and want to share with you.

A Boatload of Thanks

With Thanksgiving three days away, we thought it was time to share a simple table setting.  Several weeks ago, while at a thrift store, I found a beautiful gold ringed glass and pitcher set.  My sister and I both wanted it, so she took four of the six glasses and the pitcher.  Those two glasses I got sparked this place setting.  Not one to like warm colors like red, I decided on a color scheme of blue and gold.

While at HoLo (Hobby Lobby), I spied bandannas for 99 cents each.  I bought one in an aqua color to see if it washed well.  If it did, I thought it would make a perfect napkin.  Luckily, after one wash cycle, it softened enough.

Then I started thinking about seating cards.  I didn’t want to do the same turkey idea we did last year and I wanted something multi purpose.  Something sparked.  A vessel to hold bread.  Like a boat!  Yes, that’s just what I needed.  Only I didn’t want it to scream, “I’m a boat!”  Incorporating leaves seemed like a perfect sail.  That’s what I did.  See, a little bread boat.

To make each boat, I cut each sheet of 25 cent felt in half, then folded that half in half.

I pinned the short ends to keep things in place and folded it in half width wise.  With sharp scissors, I cut an angle through all four layers, wider part at the top.

Blanket stitch (or whatever hand stitch you prefer) the short ends.  Now it’s time to make the mast and sail.  Start by printing this template on colored card stock.

I found the easiest way to make the leaves even was to print half of the design, fold it over, then cut each leaf.  Don’t worry about being too precise with cutting on the line.  When you’re done cutting, flip the leaf so the printed part is on the inside.  Repeat until you’ve finished cutting two leaves per place card.  Then, cut a bamboo skewer to about 5 or six inches long and wire each guest’s name on a leaf.

Spread a little glue stick over the inside of each leaf, including a little in the middle.

Fold the leaf over and press firmly.

Repeat with the named leaf.

Poke the stick into a roll.  Pop the roll in the felt boat and you’re done.

Here’s another cheap and festive idea.  Pour dried beans or peas in a small juice glass, toss in a tea light and you’ve got a cute candle holder.

If you’re hosting Thanksgiving, you’re probably stressed enough worrying about the food.  Keep the centerpiece simple by corralling various candles.  Keep it cohesive with similar colors.  I even added a small brass owl for fun.

If you’re anything like I am, you’re unreasonably attracted to miniature dishes.  Put these to good use when hosting a large dinner group.  Fill with butter or even salt and pepper to cut waiting and passing.

Usually we don’t use table cloths.  Two crazy boys + table-cloth + tons of dishes = pile of food and broken plates on the floor.  No, it’s never actually happened, but I can see it.  This year, we’re having more people than we have in the past and our table doesn’t expand.  Which means we’ll have to use a folding table for extra seating.  Therefore, we’ll need a table-cloth to cover the ugly table.  I found this shower curtain on clearance for $3.74 at Target and thought it would be a perfect table-cloth.

How about a budget breakdown?

Tablecloth: $3.74

Bandanna napkins: $.99 each

Felt boat place cards: $.15 each

We already had the gold charger, white plates, glasses, salt and pepper shakers, leaf dishes for butter, and candle holders.    Oh, here’s a thrifty tip.  If you’re looking for cheap chargers, check out the dollar store.  I saw some there a month or so ago.

There it is.  Our Thanksgiving table setting.  It’s nothing too fancy, but it glitters and sparkles, which makes me happy.

What’s your favorite turkey day color scheme?  Do you prefer something more traditional or do you like to mix it up?

Top Projects of 2010

Even though we’ve only been blogging since May, we’re here to share our top projects of the year. 

By far, our most viewed posts, thanks to Young House Love, are about building and the completion of our DIY welded steel and marble dining table. 

I have to say, it’s one of our proudest DIY projects, too. 

Another fan favorite is the coffee filter pendant that is in our guest room. 

A simple, affordable art from magazines is another favorite.

Our painted rug was an affordable solution to join the chevron craze. 

Rounding out our top five is how to update brass using Blue Magic cream. 

Did any of your favorite projects crack the top five?  What is your proudest DIY?  If you have an idea you’d like us to tackle, please send an e-mail to for consideration.

The Stockings Were Hung…

By the plate rack with care.  Unfortunately, our fireplace is a stand alone wood burning stove, so nothing combustible can be within three feet of it.  Which also means, no stockings hung on a mantle.  So, the best option was the plate rack in the dining room.

To hang, I screwed eye hooks behind the quarter round and it works perfectly!  I snagged all the stockings last year on clearance.  The silver ones are from Wal-Mart and the white is from Target.  I also bought monogram pins on clearance.

Of course they didn’t have a V.  Rarely can I find a V monogram.  Oh, I also whipped up a quick centerpiece using evergreen clippings, an IKEA planter and origami. 

Remember how much I loved these porcelain reindeer

Well, I’m cheap and can’t justify the price, so I attempted to make my own using polymer clay.  That ended in complete and utter failure.  Then, I decided to make traditional paper origami reindeer.

I think they’re still cute, though not as modern.  Oh well.

Also, RedEnvelope recently added baby items, including really cute baby blankets.  And guess what?  RedEnvelope is offering our readers a discount!  Yay for savings!  Right now, you can get 10% off sitewide, 15% off a purchase of $80 or more, and 20% off a purchase of $125 or more.  Just use PRESENTS10 Promotion code at checkout.

Don’t have a mantle?  What clever places do you hang your stockings?  Do you have an initial you can’t seem to find a monogram of?  Are there any ornaments you’re coveting this year?  Just want to see more Christmas ideas?  Here are a few ideas to get you started.