And The Walls Came A Tumblin’ Down

Cuddling can lead to a few things– falling asleep on the couch, more romantical moments, or thinking about putting a hole in the wall. Cuddling in our case definitely led to the latter.

Our family room shares a wall with our kitchen so one night we were cuddling on the couch and I started looking at the big expanse of wall. Of course, this being us, I broached the idea of a pass through window on the wall. A few hmmms and huhs later, the idea started to grow.

Neither one of us loves open floor plan because we like the designated spaces but liked the idea of a pass through window. The window would open up the family room more to the house while making it feel less like an addition to the original house plan.

We then spend two months randomly bringing the idea up while sitting on the couch. So after awhile, we taped up the window dimension on both walls and knew we needed it. One quick mock up later, it was love.

kitchenkitchen-2Then we started the process of finding a contractor because I knew we could not handle a project such as this with our marriage remaining intact. The longer the taped remained on the wall, the more confident Greg because in his wall cutting prowess.

kitchen-4Well, an episode of something on HGTV where they dealt with some homeowner who improperly installed a pass through window stopped all discussion of DIYing it.

$550 and one Saturday later, our lives completely changed.

The new pass through window completely changes the flow between the kitchen and family room for the better. More light reaches the family room and kitchen nook, nor does the nook feel as claustrophobic.

kitchen-5Plus it highlights the table we made over Labor Day (post coming sooner or later). Now we’re just questioning why it took us almost four years to think of it.






Made to Order

Over the summer, Greg, my dad, & I spent many hours working on revitalizing our backyard. Out went the old garden box, in went lovely shrubs, and more sod than I want to think about.

IMG_5515This post is not about that.

Somewhere along the way, we stopped at Lowes and Home Depot which began our solar light obsession. We went from zero solar lights to sixteen solar lights. Yes, sixteen! Three color changing orbs in the front, nine little ones in the ground out back, and four on the deck rail.

Side note: They make taking Hazel out so much better because we’re not totally dependent on the flashlight to see her.

Today we’re going to talk about the deck rail lights. You see, the house came with busted up lights wired to something or other. We don’t know how they worked nor did we want to invest the money in figure out if they could. Solar lights seemed like the perfect solution.

deck lightsOne trip to Home Depot later, we had four fancy pants post lights.

deck lights-3Side note: Lowe’s had a non-existent offering of post lights whereas Home Depot offered about four different options.

We spent (and by we, I mean Greg) about an hour removing the old light fixture while I put together the new lights.

deck lights-8Fine– they came premade but I did remove the sticker over the battery.

They looked amazing and provided great light in the backyard until a friend whacked one with a chair at a BBQ causing the internal piece holding it to the base to break.

deck lights-7Ugh.

We had little urge to spend another $50 to replace the light.

Every time Greg walked past the busted light, he would launch into his 3D printer cause. If he had a 3D printer he could print the piece blah blah blah. Then I’d tune him out because he’s not getting one.

Side note: At $2000 a piece, he’s only getting one if we win the lottery or if he get a job that pays him double his current salary.

Now it’s time to eat crow (he’s still not getting one) but for $13, he had the piece printed. After drawing the part in SolidWorks, he sent it out to bid on and a local person with a MakerBot at home printed and shipped the part.

IMG_6285How did it compare to the original piece?

deck lights-11Pretty well, don’t you think and it fits too.

deck lights-12Five minutes later, our light was back in it’s home.

deck lights-18And Greg glowed over his 3D printed part.

deck lights-16



State of the Union

Ok, it should be more like State of the House Project List but State of the Union sounded much more dignified. This year is a year of firsts for us– first year setting a house project budget, first year filing taxes together, and first year not taking a few days off around a holiday weekend to complete a project from start to finish like we have in the past with:

The last reason is why we haven’t been posting projects too much.  We’ve been slowly working on my office but to complete one stage 90% means we need to be working on the next stage which piggybacks on another stage and I’d hate to share a project stage uncompleted (other than the remaining two percent).  I’ve been attempting to find fun craft projects to enhance your home to provide you with something.

Side note 1: Ok, fine. I’ve also been focused on reading because I put a few books on my nook and got sucked in.  Have you read The Heist by Janet Evanovich?  If not, read it.

Side note 2: According to my stats, the Make It a Meal features are among my most viewed.  If you have any requests (gluten free, dessert, appetizers) put them in the comments section.

Now back to the State of the Union– this past weekend we took massive steps in the office project by installing our hardwood floor but I don’t want to post the project because we did not install the trim.  You see, we are building a custom desk and want the trim to go around the cabinets.

State of the union

See my dilemma.

We started converting my chest of drawers into the faux card catalog and bookshelf but need the weather to warm up since we’re working on the enclosed porch.  The remaining action items on the card catalog involves  installing a new base for the bookcase/adding a trim piece and painting the entire piece.

state of the union

Now why didn’t we take time off to do this?  Simple, this project is too involved. For example, the cabinet paint requires a minimum of 16 hours between coats.  Our goal is to create a check list and start putting checking off those boxes.  I promise this project will be worth the wait.


Diane & Greg

Dealing With a No Percenter

January always begins with good intentions and a list of resolutions– go to the gym, lose ten pounds, become a world class ninja star thrower, finish 98 percent complete home projects.

Everyone creates a list, don’t even try to deny it.

Well, we’ve been kicking our resolutions buttocks.  Sure, it’s been because our weekends are full of snow and we are trapped in the house, but I don’t care.  Projects that have been sitting 98 percent finished are reaching 100 percent completion.

Take for instance these beautiful outdoor lights . . . purchased in July (at Home Depot for $35 each) for our enclosed porch.  We can’t even classify this project as a two percenter, it’s more like a no percenter.  We bought them with grand intentions of installation and then they just sat in our garage taking up valuable floor space . . . next to another light we had grand plans to install.

installing patio lights

Side note: As you can tell, we get lazy.  It’s mostly me rubbing off on Greg.  Maybe it’s Hazel rubbing off on him too because she’s pretty lazy.  Just look at her, we haven’t even started and she’s sleeping on the job.

installing patio lights

We loved them because they mimicked the look of our ceiling fan light and were reasonably priced.  Although anything would be better than the original lights.

patio lights-5

We bundled ourselves up and headed into the refrigerator this is our enclosed porch.  Now on to changing a light fixture-

1. Remove the old light fixture, carefully noting which wires went where.

installing patio lights

2. Pray they installed an electrical box.

3. Cheer when you see they did.

4. Read the installation instructions.

install patio lights

5. Have wife mock you for reading them since this is about your sixth light installation.

6. Install the bracket.

7. IMPORTANT STEP– Level the bracket.  Unlike ceiling lights, a wall light is noticeable if it is not level.

installing patio lights

8.  Make wife hold light fixture while you match ground wire (the copper ones), then twist black wires together and cap, repeat with the white wires.

9. Wrap electrical tape around the wires and caps.

10. Bolt the light fixture on.

11. Behold the greatness of the new light.

installing patio lights

The similar cage shape and seeded globe tie all three light fixtures together wonderfully.  The small upgrade refreshes the room and makes it feel a bit more upscale.  For about $75 and an hour of our time, we gave our enclosed porch’s light a new life while kicking our resolution’s butt.  Now we just need to scrub the walls.

installing patio lights


Home ownership, the project list never ends.

Bathroom, the Beautiful Part One

Last week I revealed the big bathroom makeover and today’s I’m going into the nitty gritty of this project.  It felt like one of those HGTV surprise renovation shows except we didn’t get to have a six hour dinner while some studly host worked on my bathroom.

bathroom makeover

This project did cement the fact that reality shows  really can’t update a room in six hours.  I don’t care if they have the most incredible team ever, doing a kitchen in six hours is not possible.

Nope, not at all. 

Here’s one main reason—soft walls.  If you paint the walls and try to attach something like a freaking cabinet, you’re going to encounter soft walls.  Sure it feels dry to the touch but just like freshly painted nails, smears will happen.

Ok, I’m going to get off my renovation tangent and focus on the project at hand, our master bathroom.  Greg and I set reasonable prices for each other’s Christmas present and most years Greg ignores me.  This year I decided to treat him the same way.  First it started with seeing a pretty light fixture and it didn’t seem like a wonderful Christmas present.

“Here, Greg—something for you to do.  I love you too.”

Instead, it went—“here Dad, I have something for you to do.  I love you too.”

A light fixture led to a medicine cabinet which then led to a shower curtain.  Within three days, I had all the big aspects of the room selected/ordered.  I’ve been sitting her for hours writing and rewriting the guts of this project.  You don’t need another post about how we dealt with wallpapered wall.  We’ve done it.  The most striking part of this makeover is the vanity which is what I am going to write about . . . and maybe the accessories (part two) since they contribute to the overall feel of the room.



My grand plan had me building two shelves between the vanity and the wall.  I planned to have each shelf supported by 2×1 running along the three sides (side wall, back wall, and vanity).  Sounds easy, right?  I even mapped it out, sort of.

The two lines marked 1 ½” make up the original plan.

The two lines marked 1 ½” make up the original plan.

Then I started thinking.

And staring.

For some reason, I tend to stare/zone out when planning things in my head. . . or thinking really hard.

What if I built the shelf off the ground to make it look more custom?  I can’t do three shelves because it would make them too short.  Ok, one shelf it is!  I started modifying my original drawing and could barely make it out anymore, as you can see from above.  Here’s my second, more understandable plan.

bathroom makeover

Boom!  Then I investigated the wood situation in our garage—we had trim and baseboard wood but nothing else.

I started completing the math on shelf height and I realized three shelves would make them too short.  Ok, two shelves it is!

Now to be all super stealthy, I worked on the shelf the week before Thanksgiving due to a half day.  I needed to get 90 percent of the shelving cut and nailed but not nailed into the space.   So let’s get started.

Step One

To achieve this look, I needed to build a base for the bottom shelf, matching the height of the current vanity.     

Once I had that, I needed a few lifts to bring it to the correct height.

bathroom makeover

I added a 1″ x 2″ to the front of the shelf base, to have it jut out like the cabinet did.  Plus I already had my plywood shelves cut to size . .  based up on the vanity size, not the recessed kickboard piece.  After I cut my baseboard, I placed to see how it looked.

bathroom makeover

bathroom makeover

And I even checked the levelness of everything.

bathroom makeover

Step Two

At this point I failed you because I stopped taking pictures due to time constraints on project day.  Once Greg left, I fired up the nail gun and started shooting.  I handled the base and then I started on the shelf.  I leveled the back 2″x1″and nailed it in.  Then I leveled the sides but check it against the middle nailed piece and prayed for the best.

With fingers crossed, I placed the shelf top on the supports and checked the levelness.  Perfect.


But the front middle sagged due to lack of support.  After freaking out a bit, I cut an extra 2″x1″ to act as a divider/support on the bottom shelf.

bathroom makeover

Step Three

The decorative trim was nailed to shelf supports but I needed to add blocks of wood to the top sides as a support (and something to nail it too),

Step Four

Next up came the strip on the left side.  We used this trim (cove moulding) in our living room built ins and we had enough left to create a frame for the vanity.  I lined it up against the trim and leveled it before nailing it in place.

Side note: Mind you this is all being done in an hour (not all the cutting) and I needed to stop because my dad arrived to help with everything else.

Step Five

For a few weeks, our bathroom vanity looked unfinished.  I needed Greg’s help sinking some of the nails but due to his cast, we needed to wait.  A few weeks later, we sunk them, wood filled the holes, and painted it.

Side note: While I had him captive in the bathroom, I made him assist me in installing knobs to the cabinet doors.

I attempted to be cost conscious and use a quart of paint we had from refinishing the dresser but ran out before my second coat.

Step Six

After the painted dried, we applied a polyacryclic to help with the durability of the vanity.  Althought we used a high gloss paint, the polyacrylic makes the vanity even shinnier.

Now for the all important price breakdown:

  • Wood/hardware- $54
  • Room Paint- $30
  • Vanity Paint- $18
  • Polyacrylic- $20
  • Shower Curtain- $36
  • Medicine Cabinet- $131
  • Light fixture- $149
  • Toilet- $268 *being installed this weekend
  • Custom Artwork (etsy)- $44
  • Plant pot- $12
  • Bins- $50

Grand Total- $812

In the end, it’s more than I expected to pay but the room has been transformed to something we aren’t ashamed of.

bathroom makeover

The Online Dating Presumption

Ever notice how picking a wall color is like online dating?

Before you start questioning my sanity hear me out.

Walking into Home Depot a giant wall of options calls out to you just like logging into  You sprint over and start identifying your favorites like online dating.  You can wink at some of the colors by bring them home but really go on a date with them when you bring home the test pot.

You might have a great test pot but when you put it in a different area, it rears its ugly head and you realize he’s not for you.  Much like testing out your date with your friends. If he passes their tests, then he’s a keeper.

Or you might venture into a paint spree with four testers over a short amount of time to realize none of them work. And unlike dating, none of them will ask you to join forces on the check.

With this house, we’ve had luck with our painting colors on the first try although I’m still questioning our choice in the man cave.  I have been wavering on posting about our hallway experience because I didn’t want to share another “this is how we painted our hallway” post.  Painting the hallway issued a new challenge to us due to the varying light in the hallway.  Our hallway covers two floors with great light in spots and horrible light in others and the experience reminded me of my online dating experience.

We started off thinking we knew what we wanted and brought home two paint colors/dates but only as the paint chips.  We positioned the two paint chips in four different areas of the hallway to see how we felt about them.

After living them with, we hated them.  The whites which looked warm in the store looked blue and cold in our house.  Off we went to the giant wall to select a few more studs, I mean paint colors.

Once we identified what we disliked about the two colors (the cool tones) we decided to search out warmer colors which would blend nicely with the cooler tone of the living room.  At Home Depot we purchased five test jars of color after debating colors hour what seemed like hours. Greg valiantly fought for a color because it was named Hazelnut Creme and I humored him since it was going on his credit card.

We painted squares of color in five areas of our hallway– by the front door, the kitchen, across from the man cave, in the stairwell, and across from the office. If you are painting a hallway, I recommend painting in several areas to see how the colors look in different lights. Don’t forget to check the paint at different times too.


Side note: you can also paint white cardboard and place it on the wall. My parents prefer this method.

After living with the five colors and evaluating at them at various times of day, we chose our winner– Hazelnut Creme . . . . the color Greg wanted due to the name. We debated between two colors but Hazelnut Creme looked better in the dark/dusk than the other color.

Before we started painting, we hung our new artwork– prints from a calendar of various cities. I picked the calendar because I loved the prints but mainly because we had been to five of the cities.

Frames from Ikea

Frames from Ikea

Side note: Young House Love hung the same calendar in their hallway but I purchased first. Great minds must think alike.

Why am I hanging our pictures before painting? This way we can mark up the wall and not have to worry about touching up freshly painted walls. To hang the pictures, I used the frame insert to eyeball my placement and then moved them around using actual measurements.


Then Greg came home and got very technical with his measurements.


Off they came once we had the nails in and placement correct. We taped the walls before applying our wall color and got started. The hallway took about two hours to paint with Greg rolling and me cutting. We did a second coat after lunch and followed it the next day with painting all the trim.


Doesn’t it look great?


In the end, we purchased two gallons of paint ($55), six picture frames ($72), and one calendar ($12). We barely touched the second gallon of paint and already had the trim paint from our living room project. The color warms the hallway and the art provides a great visual traveling up the stairs.