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.

All the Fixings

Now that we’ve sold our house, we’re working on it again.  Nothing major, just small projects we want to finish up.  Adding fascia to the exterior.

Installing and staining window trim.

As you can see, Ben had a little help(er) for this project.  I went into the house to get a paint brush for Ben, came back out, but didn’t see V.  Ben asked if he went in with me.  Then V popped up from the window well.  Scared the crap out of me!

One of the things we promised to finish was the fence on the ends of the house.  Ben didn’t finish the south end when he worked on the rest of the fence because the old posts were cemented in.  Finally, he had a reason to tackle this.  Simple enough, and I stained it to match.

Here’s what the north side looked like last summer.  The fence is done, but we lacked a real gate.

That’s done now.

So much better.  Jack approves, too.

For the past two years the French doors in my office have been without door handles.  We recently replaced a few handles for locking levers in the basement, so Ben retrofitted the old handles to work for the office.  He just removed the plungers and we’re good to go.

See the gaping hole below?

Here it is today, complete with closet doors.

Ben still has to cut a trim piece to hide the track, but we’re getting there.

We’ve done all this, but I have yet to pack a single box to actually move.  I’m afraid it will jinx the closing (our situation is slightly different than usual).  So, keep your fingers crossed everything goes smoothly and we’ll update you as soon as we can!

The Change Up

Despite finishing the basement nearly a year and a half ago, most of the rooms are filled with left over and unwanted furniture from the main level.  We don’t have a definite plan for decorating and we’re on a tight budget because we’re saving up money for our kitchen remodel.  Don’t get excited, we’ve made very little progress on that front, but we do have a mini change we’ll share later this week.

With guests coming tonight, I thought it was time to fix up the basement bedrooms.  The smaller of the two wasn’t so bad.

You know, if you think an industrial sewing machine isn’t so bad.  Or lack of closet doors.  The other bedroom wasn’t as great.

It’s a warehouse for chairs, exercise equipment, and flooring.

Fortunately for our guests, we’ve made some changes, but I have teased you long enough.  It all started when I got a bug up my butt to sell the massively dark queen bed from the larger bedroom.  Craig and his infamous list to the rescue.  I listed the bed for $500 or best offer, including a mattress.  A few days and phone calls later, a couple stopped by to look at the bed.  They said they’d take it, so Ben hauled the bed to their house the next day.  Finally, I could put my plan into action.

You see, I have always disliked the king mattress being in the smaller room while the queen bed was in the larger room.  Why didn’t we just put the queen bed in the smaller room?  Because the bed with headboard was too long to fit in the small room while leaving room to walk around the bed with the sewing machine.  Yes, I did just say sewing machine.

So, on Wednesday while Everett was napping, Vincent and I set to work to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.  First, I hauled the king mattress into the large bedroom and the queen box spring and mattress in the small bedroom.

We still have to get a bed frame and make a head board, but the size of the bed is much better for this room.  It allows for a larger side table.  I bought this table for only 25 bucks from Home Goods on our recent Minnesota trip.

It’s super lightweight, but the design is versatile.  The faux crocodile top adds interest, too.

With the king bed in the large bedroom, the mattress sat right next to the La Z Boy, so I had to think of an alternative layout.  Knowing we can’t get rid of furniture just yet, I worked with what I had.

I moved the chair over to allow for the bed to be centered on the back wall with a nightstand on either side.  Makeshift art that I hung above the bed and two small ottomans at the foot, just to give them a place.  We still have a pile of hardwood flooring stacked along the wall, but it’s the only place we can store it, so it stays.

The rocking chair now sits closer to the door, taking the place of the dresser.  To make the chair placement seem more intentional, I created a little reading nook, complete with a small side table and floor lamp.

Now, you see this from the doorway.

To the right of the entrance, we have a bookshelf Ben built, which originally lived in Vincent’s bedroom.  You know, before Everett was born and we needed to make space for the crib.  Really, we don’t need this bookshelf any longer, so it may find a new home via Craigslist.  Until then, I wanted to make it seem useful.

Ben’s weights had to stay, but by adding a blanket and towels, it can serve as guest storage.  A few random books, candles, vases, a mirror, and art add a little more visual interest, but still a far cry from finished or pretty.

While we’re on the subject of guest storage, where did the dresser go?

In the smaller bedroom, across from the bed.  Still, not perfect, but our guests now have a place to unpack and set junk.  Hopefully, some day, we’ll find a better place to house the manly sewing machine.  Overall, I think the rooms look better, and, we gained $400 by selling the too huge bed frame.  So, that’s how we updated the basement bedrooms without spending a cent.  Of course, we plan to add art, furniture we actually like, and accessories to make the rooms feel more complete.

What do you think of the changes?  Any free suggestions for improvements?  What changes have you made without spending any money?

Just Hangin’ Around

Last weekend we hung around, literally.  We finally hung the mirror in the basement bathroom.

I don’t know what took us so long, it wasn’t a difficult task.  But now, I want to paint the mirror.  Of course, I could paint it black, white or grey, but a color would be a fun pop.  Maybe a blue to tie in with the theater room just outside?  We’d love to hear your suggestions.  While Ben was working in the bathroom, I asked him to cut down the bolts that hold the toilet down because the cover caps couldn’t snap on.  Now, the little caps are tightly in place, not resting on bolts 1/4 inch above the base.  After he took care of business in the basement, he went to the master bathroom and did the same thing.  That took two and a half years.  Riveting, I know.  Can you say, ‘Slackers’? cause that’s what we are.

After hanging the mirror, we hung two candle sconces in the theater room, flanking the fireplace.

As you can see, we still haven’t touched up the areas we taped off around the rock wall when spraying the basement a year ago.  (Slackers!)

Though, in my defense, I plan to touch up the white areas when we paint the laundry room cabinetry.  But, who knows when that will be done.  We haven’t worked on it for a few weeks.  (Total Slackers!)

Then, I (well, I started, but my bother-in-law saw that I was using a screwdriver and finished the job for me) hung two  curtain rods in the small basement bedroom.  One behind the bed, by my newly finished $10 lamp.

And the other above the other window.

Now, let me address a few issues.

One, I bought the panels from Target on clearance for five bucks each (wahoo!); I couldn’t even make curtains for that price.  The issue here?  I could only get two because that’s all she wrote.  So, ideally, we would have been able to balance the off centered walls with more curtain panels, but it wasn’t in the cards.  That and the fact the window trim goes right to the ceiling with crown molding butting up to the casement.  Mounting the brackets would have been a nightmare.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

Two, because the windows are so close to the ceiling, the panels look like they’re waiting for a flood.  I do have a plan to remedy this, though, just haven’t done it yet.  I know, surprise, surprise.

Three, the curtain rods were cheap, like $3 a piece cheap, so features on more expensive rods are missing.  Namely, the small screws that keep the rod from sliding around every time the curtains are opened or closed.  I did fix this with a few small chunks of sticky tack (you know, the stuff teachers use to hang posters and other temporary items) on each bracket, under the rod.  Works like a charm.

In summary, it takes us a year to finally finish something that is super simple.  It also takes us a week to post about the weekend progress, making it last weekend’s progress.  The good news?  Ben cut down trees all weekend at the apartment complex, so we didn’t get any work done around our house.  Actually, that’s not completely true, but stay tuned for that tomorrow.  (Hint: it involves nice weather)  All in all, we’re slackers.

Anyone else a slacker?  Do you have simple projects on your to do list for a year (or longer)?  Maybe you’re the opposite, the overachiever?  I bet you got some work done this weekend.  Please share, with links, if possible.  We love to see what you do!

P.S.  Have you voted yet?

Cool in the Shade

Have you found a great lamp base with an ugly shade at a thrift store?  I did, for ten bucks.  The base is great, but the shade has seen better days.

One support was broken, leaving the shade lopsided.  The bright teal, stained pleated fabric shade wasn’t doing it for me either.

So, I took the shade, er, matters into my own hands.  We had a small scrap of canvas left over from sewing a drop cloth curtain for our laundry room.  It was perfect.  Neutral and free!  I set to work on transforming the lampshade.  While my iron was heating up, I ripped all the teal fabric off.

I measured the circumference and height of my shade and cut a piece of canvas slighty larger, keeping one finished edge of the dropcloth.  Using iron on tape, I hemmed the edges to fit.

I clipped the extra fabric from the corners to cut bulk.

Now I was ready to start on the shade.  To cover the shade, first I taped my unfinished edge in place.

Wrap the fabric around the shade, smoothing out along the way.  Tape the finished end in place and in a few other places, just to prevent movement.  Hot glue the unfinished edge to the shade. 

Run a thin bead of hot glue between the edge of the lampshade and the fabric.  Press down to secure.

When you reach the finished edge, hot glue in place.  I was almost finished with my shade.  I still had to fix the broken support.  I dug a bamboo skewer out of the drawer and cut it to fit in the shade.  Then, I added a dollop of hot glue to the shade to secure the skewer.  Worked like a charm!

I popped the shade on the base and it looked like a million bucks.  And we finally have a lamp for the basement bedroom.

Of course, there are tons of options to update a lampshade, like dye, ribbon or coffee filters, to name a few.  Have you updated an old shade?  Maybe you’ve transformed a thrift store lamp or two?  We’d love to see your ideas, so share a link, too.

P.S.  I turn a quarter of a century old today, maybe I’ll have some b-day goodies to share with you…