{ where I paint every day } The Living Room

There is a good chance if you stand still in my house for too long, I will paint you.

LR (1)

It's no secret that paint is the easiest and cheapest way to transform a room. But I also happen to LOVE painting interiors. Trimwork, especially. I don't tape; I delight in my steady hand and precision. There is surely some kind of obsessiveness that goes with this. I don't mind. I'm happy with my angled Wooster 2" and a cup of coffee in hand. 

I love that this house needs more cosmetic work than real reno work because that means Mr. Wooster and I get lots of time together while the girls are in school. 

Continue reading "{ where I paint every day } The Living Room" »

the biggest little makeover

People who have been to my house in the past 10 years are quite familiar with our laundry room.  

Everyone uses it. It's pretty much the anti-foyer. We do have a lovely proper front door and entry. However, if people we know are coming over, we open the garage door.  It's a side entry, so we often open the garage so our friends don't have to walk all the way around the house in snow or ice or rain or 180% humidity. 

If you have made it to our dirty laundry passageway, you know we hold you in the highest regard.

Mudroom 040

Nothing says, 'Make yourself at home!' like a pair of Tinkerbell panties, laundry baskets, family sized jugs of laundry supplies and damp dishrags.  We know how to party.  Grab a basket! Want to help fold? Sorry about that smell.  I've run that load twice already and keep forgetting about it.

To make things even better in there, at some point (8 years ago?) I decided to paint this tiny space a cozy baby poop brown. The original paint had been put on thickly and there were drip streaks everywhere. I'm serious. There is also a linoleum floor.  We never had the energy to move the washers out to replace that flooring, so it's still there in all of its glory. {fyi:Scrubbing Bubbles makes linoleum new again. trust me.}

Mudroom 041


And I almost forgot about the ceiling fixture.  At some point, the builder-grade glass dome fell and broke while I was changing the lightbulb.  And we didn't replace it.  So we had a bare bulb on the ceiling. 

This was how we greeted and goodbye'd our loved ones for the last 10 years.  

Mudroom 043

Needless so say, I knew this space needed a makeover before we could even consider selling.

  1. Scrub the walls
  2. Sand the walls
  3. Patch the walls
  4. Sand the walls.
  5. Paint the walls. (with leftover paint from upstairs bedroom.)  

Mudroom 042


The walls.  They needed something. They were in such bad shape from dings and scrapes and nail holes.  I decided beadboard wallpaper was the solution.  Got some pre-pasted stuff and Lowes and installed it myself. (2 rolls = $25/each) Easy peasy.  Painted it the same color as my trim. (with paint I already had) Repainted all the trim. Added a simple railing.  ($18 for three 8' pieces.)

Climbed over and around and behind and between the washer and the walls for days.


Replaced the ceiling fixture.  WITH THE ONE I HAD BOUGHT 8 YEARS AGO.  Geez.

Hung generic feel-good wall art that I had in storage.


Stuck a little black chair in the corner and gussied up the top of my dryer. 


Friends, she looks so good now, my little mudroom made it into the video home tour in our real estate listing!  I laughed out loud.



(and I wear my teal scarfshop scarf all winter.  Martha, she hangs here for months for easy access.)


{ changes. }

In December 2012, my husband accepted a new position with his company. With it came the agreement to move to Columbus, Ohio.  With our oldest still in high school, the company graciously allowed us to remain in Kansas City until graduation.  


(Lottie wants a valentine.)

What this means is that for over a year now, we have been in a holding pattern. For a person like me, who likes to upgrade and change things around in her home, it has been tricky. It hasn't stopped me, of course, but my focus has been on Resale. Neutral. General Appeal. Cleaning out. Paring down. Organizing. 

See why I haven't blogged about it? Want to get excited about my cleaned out linen closet? Yup. It's been riveting, I tell you. The photos are compelling, award-winning stuff. 

I still have a long way to go.

My pemberlie project was a lot of fun, but it also meant that for a year I could greenlight any project. My garage is still full of potential items. Random things. It was a workshop of misfit old lamps, extra chairs, homemade chalk paints, wooden frames, I accumulated some extra used furniture that I just kind of liked. I had put boring house maintenance projects on hold.


(there has been work in the mud/laundry room -- amazing!)

Shoot, I put fun personal upholstery projects on hold.  I've had a glorious floral wingback in my kitchen for years now. She needs some attention.  Especially because she is positioned right next to my floral curtains. And now the dog has claimed it as her chair and I have no idea what to do with either of them.


(snow day fairy fort)

We have an agent coming by for the first time tomorrow to look at our house and give us her straight shooter opinions. Staging, updates, timing, the whole she-bang. 

Are you ready for a bunch of before and afters? Because I think I am. 

People, when this house goes on the market, I want it to sell Quickly. With three kids and a puppy, keeping this place showable will be by best trick of all.

Stay warm, friends!

{ the kitchen } this morning.

I've been getting pestered for kitchen photos.  When I look at things, it hasn't changed that much in the last couple weeks, but here goes.  We're at that last 5% of the project that is taking 95% of the time. 

We are waiting for what seems like a hundred tiny little details. Like outlet switches. 


And the remaining tile so we can finish the backsplash.  (And move the stove back 12")


And grout.  And the exhaust vent.  And shelf pegs in the new uppers so I can put my dishes away on the shelves that have been painted for weeks.


I am still loving the results this far. 

new bar

And we are so close.

getting there

In fact, as I'm writing this, the tilework is done above the stove and it looks great. 

The guys have just left for Home Depot to look for outlet covers and get some stuff related to the new exhaust vent.  The cabinet guy is going to fix the doors above the stove that were attached incorrectly (like, without hinges) in the next couple of days.  The granite people have been notified that one of their pieces doesn't look right... the painter is scheduled to come back on Monday for touch-ups. 

It's getting there.  It really is.  And believe me, I cannot WAIT to have it done to share with you. 

Also, if you were wondering, I'm now 23.5 weeks along. And it looks like I'll be doing pink loads of laundry for the rest of my forseeable future. I guess that also means I have a nursery to start. :)


{ the kitchen } days... um. Not sure where we are


Hidden microwave

We're still hanging about around here.  We ran into a bit of a snag the other day and are a few tiles short of finishing a part of the backsplash, so the boys are tackling some of the less exciting finishing work while we wait for those to come in. 

One thing we did yesterday was implement Mission: Peekaboo Micro.  The layout of our kitchen won't accommodate a wall unit and I was pretty hell-bent on my mantle-ish cabinetry over the stove in lieu of hanging a microwave there. My word, was that big black box ever so garish sitting on my new counter.  After a little head-scratching and measuring and accepting the loss of one shelf, we decided to have the guys install an outlet in the pantry so we could slide that puppy in and store it out of sight for good. 

It's making me very happy.  It's the little things, you know. And if pantry storage ends up really being a giant pain in the derriere, we can always take it back out.  For now, I like shutting the doors on that thing.

Photo note: I've been terrible about using my real camera these days.  With our house in total upheaval, it seems like I've lost my shooting and downloading mojo and can't make real photos happen. I have been enjoying some photo apps on my iphone, thank goodness. (As much as I love my Hipstamatic app, the Instagram app is even faster and easier, I think.  And then I can upload directly to flickr as well... who needs a computer?? )  xo

{ the kitchen } days 8-11 & 14 (and a vacay)

No worries.  The project is still underway.  For a few days we were painting extra coats and top coats and letting that dry.  And that just doesn't show up well in photographs.

And then I went on quick vacation! 

AZ vacation, 2011.  The Boulders PoolMy sweet husband takes me to Arizona every year for a nice long Mother's Day weekend before he stays on for a week to play golf with his friends. Works out fine by me, because after 4 days, I miss the girls a ton and need to get back in action.  The break sure is nice, though.

One of the things I love best about Scottsdale is the food.  We eat so well there.  My friend Sarah introduced me to Postino on my last trip and I had to go back this time after dreaming about their bruschetta board for a year:

Um, yes. 

I think Arizona is gorgeous in May.  It might get a bad rap for being all brown and tan and pink the rest of the year, but in May everything is wild with color.  We were surrounded by blooms.

And I discovered that an NA beer + lemonade cocktail at the pool tastes almost as good as the real thing.

Let's fast forward to Monday night, when I got home.  Late night photos...

day 11 - doors on!

Cabinet Doors!

day 11 - secretary done

A painted secretary!

day 11 - doors on!

I love that Carl the Painter talked me into going black with the secretary.  He did a rub-back on the edges.  And the pulls!  And knobs!  Ack!  I was freaking out.  I can't believe how far this has come in two weeks.

day 11 - doors on!

And, since there is no rest for the weary...

we hit the ground running yesterday (Tuesday) morning with granite installation...! 

day 14 - granite

Today we have a plumber coming to hook up the kitchen sink, which will be nice.  Here's praying that goes off without a hitch.  The whole rinsing-plates-in-the-powder-room-gig sounds more fun than it really is.   And I'm honestly worried that I any minute I'm going to pour out a sippy cup of old milk down the drainless sink by mistake.  Yikes. 

We're on the home stretch.  It feels good.  And I'm thrilled that, so far, it is coming together just as I saw it in my little noggin.  Whew.  Big sigh of relief.


{ the kitchen } days 5 -7: paint and shelves

By Friday afternoon, the first coat of paint was on our cabinets.  I love it.  Love it. 

day 5: first coat of paint


weekend project: tiling shelves

Something that I've wanted to do since we moved in (besides paint the cabinets) is tile the base cabinets. 

I can't take credit for this idea.  Around 1997, when I lived in California, a friend of mine moved into her new house and decided to put vinyl tile in her base cabinets instead of contact paper.  She just didn't want to wrestle with contact paper.  Who does?  I thought it was brilliant.  Durable.  Easy to clean.  Sold.

I stored this little idea away for future use.  And even when I moved into this house seven years ago, I thought about it, and then said something like, "Heck, I don't really care.  Let's just throw the stuff in there and call it good.  I'm tired."

But last week we emptied the cabinets.  And it all came back.

weekend project: tiling shelves

On Friday I picked up 40 tiles for .88 a piece.  We cleaned the shelves and without too much planning, started peeling and sticking tiles last night.

weekend project: tiling shelves

Within a couple hours I had most of my kitchen done.  I ran out of the tile before I got to the sink cabinet (which needs it BADLY), but I can already tell it's going to work just fine. 

If you decide to do this, consider whether or not you want the faux grout look.  I didn't realize my tiles had beveled edges when I bought it, but I was too lazy to take it back.  Now that it's in, I like it ok.  However, I do hope that when it comes to cleaning out under the sink, I don't have issues with coffee grinds stuck in the grooves.  (Whatever.  It will still be way better than before.)

Also, you'll need a nice sharp utility knife.  I was a little concerned about cutting some notches for the bottom pieces, but I was able to cut and snap the pieces off with little effort.  And I was using an old rusty dollar store box cutter. I imagine a proper utility knife would cut like buttah.

weekend project: tiling shelves

So it was 14 years in the making, but I finally tiled my cabinets.  How's that for procrastination?  :)

(New pics tomorrow.  The painter started on the secretary unit in the corner, so she's got a fresh coat of black now and looks all schmancy.)

{ the kitchen } day 4: more trimwork

Okay... so... day four!  Not as dramatic a transformation as yesterday, but they can't all be.  Today saw the addition of crown molding and additional trim around the bar.

day 4: more trimwork


I have to say I feel like I've been blessed with contractors.  They've been prompt and courteous and work hard. My folks had a few projects done on their house when I was in high school and I remember it dragging on forever.  This feels like hyper-speed!  Which is 100% okay, really.  Having a kitchen displaced while little ones are running about and needing several meals a day isn't the easiest thing to manage.  It's like we are ripping off a bandaid around here, and we are mid-rip... but we are almost there and it's going to be fantastic.  :)


Tomorrow the painter is coming back and we will see the first coat of paint go on the cabinet boxes. As excited as I was about the primer, watching the creamy real stuff go up there will be even better.  It's killing me not to see the doors and drawers at this point... I'm sure they are already painted and awaiting another step of the process... but it will be next week before they make it back over here. 

For now, I'm going to tidy up the kitchen for the last time today, restack my pantry items on the dining room table.  I'm tired.  No naps for mama this week!  And no chance it slowing down any time soon!


{ the kitchen } day 3: new uppers!

Day 3 of the whirlwind kitchen reno! 

day 3: new uppers, trim and priming

This morning, the cabinets arrived and were installed.  I think they are going to work out nicely, indeed. 

day 3: new uppers, trim and primer

The painter wasted no time and primed everything... the existing cabinet boxes, too, so I am starting to see how it's all going to come together.  Removing the dark stain from my kitchen lightened it up ten-fold.  Even though it's only primer, I'm still digging it.

day 3: new uppers, trim and priming

The outside of the bar is getting some special treatment.  My builder is eager to cover up as much of the plywood as possible (I can't imagine why), so tomorrow he is going to add some additional pieces that will give this a raised panel look.  He'll also be installing crown molding and baseboards. 

The countertop lady came by today, so at some point I'll be going to a granite yard to pick out My Slab.  Word on the street is one vendor is liquidating some seriously high end stuff, so maybe I'll end up with something super cool.  Who knows? 

It's all terribly exciting and fast.  Did I mention how fast this is going?  Three days ago we looked like this:

kitchen before: west wall

Yes, I am officially freaking out.  In the very best way.

Thanks for joining me on this thrill ride!  xo

{ the kitchen } day 2: demo!

I've never been to excited about a mess before.

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

Our builder showed up this morning to remove the upper cabinets above the range and demo the tile from the backsplash. 

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

It was very exciting.  And loud.  And messy.

But now we are ready for new cabinets tomorrow and day three of painting prep and I cannot wait! 

day 2: tile and upper cabinet removal

One of the other things we are doing is beefing up the outside of this bar...

outside of sink bar: getting beefed up

It looks into the living room and is quite a massive element to have just left kind of naked. (Add this to the rather long list of head-scratching choices made by the previous owners.)  We are replacing those brackets with some basic corbels and extra trim as well as adding molding around the bottom to match what will be installed to the left around the dining nook.  I have hopes that this will turn our blase stained plywood to something a little more interesting.  It's even put the dog to sleep.

Also, these are the paint samples from yesterday. My camera battery died before I could download them.  Of course.

door paint samples

It's hard to get the creaminess of the white and not lose the grain detail of the espresso stain in one photo... so you'll just have to trust me on the color part. At any rate, it's way better than the high gloss shellac we had going on before. (One of my friends and I were laughing about how they were so shiny you could have probably checked your lipstick in them.)

I was floored that the painter had just done these the day before and the tackiness that I have come to expect from paint projects wasn't there.  Neither was the smell.  He said the sealant product he uses takes a full 30 days to cure, and when it does it will be a floor grade protectant that I can spray with whatever products I want.  Durability is one of the concerns I have had from the beginning.  I didn't want to go through the hassle and cost of having them painted only to have to baby them!  Because, let's face it, they are not going to get babied in a house with kids running amok. 

It's nice knowing that the majority of the painting is being done off-site and that when it comes time to paint here, we're using low VOC products and can take advantage of warmer weather by opening all of our windows.

Tomorrow we have the new section of cabinets going up above the range, trimwork going up, and the painter coming back to clean the cabinet boxes and prep them for priming.  And I will be freaking out and pinching myself while I start to see progress.  Demo is fun... but progress?  Ack!  I love it.

Thanks for playing along and humoring me, too.   xo