Home Improvement

No splinters for you!

My husband and dad did the un-fun task this summer of redoing our deck. After years of weather left the decking worn and splintery, we decided it was time — especially with a baby soon to be on the move. We didn’t want to have to worry about her soft skin on the rough wood.

Speaking of our little one, I was on baby duty, so I wasn’t much help on this project. OK, I wan’t any help. And I’ll admit, it was tough to just be a spectator! But I documented, and that’s something… right?

Here’s the deck (mostly) before:

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You can see some of the damage on the individual boards here. Thankfully the supports were in good shape so they only had to replace old boards and railings.

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New treads!

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New rails:

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For the decking, they took off some of the old boards before adding the new boards. It was easier and safer for them to work that way.

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The baby liked to watch.

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They discovered the most perfect egg during the renovation.

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Progress:

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Here is the final result:

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The best part? The Maryland flag and baby swing.

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It took them a week to do the project, and it turned out wonderfully.

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Home Improvement, Paint, Uncategorized

Did I mention we redid our kitchen?

My kitchen is never clean enough to photograph. It’s not that we’re gross people, or so I tell myself. But something is always on the counter that shouldn’t be, or there’s a tumbleweed of dog hair on the floor, or we went to bed without loading all of the dishes into the sink. Basically, we’re normal human beings. So it’s taken me FOREVER to make my kitchen photo worthy, even though it’s been complete for at least two months. It was only after I took these photos that I noticed the side and top of the fridge look like the normal hot mess they always are, but screw it. My house never looks perfect, and I think that is just fine for you all to see.

So, here is our finished kitchen!

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If you’re interested in the whole story, I’ll start from the beginning. Here is the grand before shot (although the wall’s been opened at this point). See, we love us a cluttered fridge!

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We did three main things: walls, floors and cabinets.

You already saw in this post that we widened the doorway in our kitchen, removing the door completely and bumping the walls to the edge of the cabinets and to the ceiling. It made our first floor feel a lot more open concept without removing all that much drywall. And the kitchen feels giant now! We are also really enjoying having our table where it was designed to be, in the middle of the dining room rather than up against the wall. It is easier to get around both sides of the table, which is really convenient if we have guests.

Before:

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After:

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We also lightened the wall color, using the same Sea Salt green paint we chose for our bedroom.

The second thing we did was the floors, and all of the kuddos go to Brian. While I was working from home, he removed all of the tile floor, which had been cracking, chipping and losing grout at an alarming pace for years.

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I HATED the kitchen floors before. They were cheap, ugly and poorly installed. Even the subfloor was a welcome change to the tile.

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So when we started talking about redoing the hardwoods throughout the rest of the house, we decided to get a quote for laying hardwoods in the kitchen and feathering them into the existing floors.

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I am so so happy we did this. It gives the first floor a cohesive look since there isn’t a glaring transition between the kitchen and dining room. And since there isn’t a threshold between the spaces, it makes cleaning the floors a breeze.

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The last thing we did, which I get to take all of the credit for, was painting the cabinets. I did a lot of research on the best paint to use for kitchen cabinets and settled on Benjamin Moore Advance paint. I’ve used Benjamin Moore Impervo paint on a dresser before, and it’s held up remarkably well. The only blemish is when Brian ran into it on a hoverboard. Womp womp.

The Benjamin Moore store was great. And no, I was not given free paint to say that.  I went in to talk to the people and they recommended I come back and bring in a door and a sample of the backsplash tile we want to eventually install. After seeing the door, they recommended a specific primer based on the type of existing finish. And after much debate and opinions from most of the staff, we ended up choosing Decorator’s White, which I would describe as a pretty pure white. It definitely doesn’t skew warm, which is good because I didn’t want that at all. Once I bought the paint, we got to work taking down and labeling all of the doors.

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Then came the “fun” part. I sanded, dusted, deglossed and primed all of the doors and the base cabinets. I also caulked gaps between the base cabinets and walls and filled holes from shoddy installation (thanks, Fannie Mae!).

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Then, I applied three coats to all of the cabinets. This took longer on the doors because of the front and back factor. I wanted to do this right, so I forced myself to take my time and not rush through the painting. It took me about the standard length of a movie to do a coat on the cabinets, so once I figured that out I started enjoying the monotony of painting a bit more.

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And then we waited. We waited for the doors to dry. We waited for the floors to cure. We waited and waited. And once we were satisfied that we wouldn’t muck up all of the hard work we’d done to prepare, we reassembled the cabinets.

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The difference was astounding.

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The whole space seems so much larger and brighter!

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And did I mention I got a fancy glass-top stove! Swoon. Buh-bye coils!

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The cabinets have held up pretty well so far. I touched up a few spots that got dinged from us putting them back up, and the Benjamin Moore paint is really great for that. Touch-ups don’t stand out as fresh paint. I suspect I’ll have to touch up every now and then, but these cabinets are really and experiment to see how white cabinets hold up in general to kitchen grime. If we ever redo a kitchen in another house down the road, I think I’d definitely choose white cabinets again.

So there you have it, folks. It was a helluva lot of work, but man it was worth it! Our first floor is a brand new space and we love it.

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One last time:

Before:

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After:

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Home Improvement

Renovation Station, part 2

When I last left you in March, my house was in complete disarray after opening the wall between be kitchen and my dining room.

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Even when the wall project was complete, our renovation was not. We decided to go for it and rip up all of the carpet in our house to refinish the hardwood flooring underneath. We had hardwoods underneath all of the carpet on the upper two levels of our house, except for in our coat closet. In two weeks, Brian and I tore up all of the carpet, tack strips and staples before we had a company come in to do the rest of the work for us.

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It was a lot of work, but we saved about $1,000 doing it ourselves. The payoff was pretty immediate.

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Look at those hardwoods!

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We got pretty lucky. For being covered up for who knows how many years the floors were in pretty good shape. We had some major scratching in our office that sanded out, much to our surprise.

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We effectively moved out of our house for a week while the floor guys came in to do their handy work.

First they sanded down a few spots to do a stain test. Our goal was to match our laminate flooring as close as possible.

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We ended up choosing the stain on the right corner of the step.

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It is Minwax’s Provincial, and it was a tough choice! We really liked the darkest color but I didn’t want to pick a color that would immediately make all dirt specs visible. Especially with a light-haired dog — it seemed like a big mistake.

Here’s our bedroom before:

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After they sanded it down:

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And from a different angle, with Minwax Provincial stain:

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OH MY GOSH SO PRETTY. Here’s the stairs after being stained:

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And here they are stained:

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The stain color we chose matched really nicely with the laminate flooring we’d laid in our basement a few years ago. It was a great pick!

Here’s our living room floors before:

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You can see here a lot of dark staining on the floors. The flooring guys actually tore out those boards to fix the problem! How cool does this look?

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And you’d never know they had to remove anything:

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We are really happy with how the floors came out. I’ll share photos of the entire renovation soon. Stay tuned!