Friday, July 22

Cedar Linen Closet

On to yet another afternoon project... Creating a linen closet out of a cedar wardrobe.  This beautiful piece has been in our master bedroom for 2 years with very little actually stored in it (because we hung all of our clothes in our walk-in closet), so in order to get more use out of the piece, we decided to make a slight (non-permanent) change to the inside.

Here's the inside before:

What you can't see in the picture is the rod at the top for hanging clothing and the stack of blankets on the floor of the wardrobe.

This house does not have a linen closet, so we have been stacking linens on shelves in both guest bedroom closets and on the floor of this piece (ie. all over the house!).  So to unify everything and bring it all to one place, my hubby added shelves for all of our extra sheet sets, pillowcases, heavier blankets, beach towels, etc.  The great thing is that if we ever decide to put it in a guest bedroom in the future (and actually use the rod at the top), it is as easy as taking the shelves back out.  Love it.

So here's the after with all of our linens neatly folded and organized (so much easier to find something when we need it now!):

So what quick projects have you been up to? Have you converted a piece of furniture recently?

Wednesday, July 13

Light Changes

     So we're still working on Phase Two of the Guest Bedroom Remodel (I really hate painting door trim because you have to be really careful when painting the place where it meets the wall so it's a veeerryy slow process), but in the meantime we have made a few more changes in other places around the house.  I haven't posted any pics of our foyer to this blog just yet, but it's one of the rooms my hubby worked on today (along with the hall). 

     The foyer was the same orange-y/gold-ish color as the living room (seen here), so when we repainted the living room Harvest Brown by Behr, we also painted the foyer the same color.  We also updated the foyer light fixture after finding a great oil-rubbed bronze light fixture in excellent condition at a garage sale (I believe we purchased it for $10! I love garage sales for that kind of thing!).

This is how our foyer looked this morning before we changed the light

     Unfortunately, what we found out when we updated the light fixture was that the light was off-center big time!  We just couldn't tell that it was off-center when it had the little bitty original light fixture up there (plus we rarely come into our house through the front door).  The light stayed this way for a long while because we weren't quite sure how to move the light over without leaving a gaping hole in the ceiling from the original placement (You can't really patch popcorn ceilings without having to re-popcorn the patch).  We've figured it out now, and here's what we did:

1.) First, my hubby removed the current light fixture (after turning off the electricity to this light fixture, of course).
2.) Then he cut a new hole (that was actually centered!) for the light fixture.
3.) To hide the old hole from the original off-center placement, he purchased a white medallion that can be used with pretty much any light fixture (it can also be painted, if needed).  He had to measure the hole to make sure that we purchased one that was large enough in diameter to cover/hide the old hole. 
4.) To make sure the medallion sat flush to the ceiling, my hubby traced the medallion on the ceiling, sprayed a bit of water inside the traced circle, and then proceeded to scrape off the popcorn ceiling with a putty knife.
5.) He then installed the medallion as well as a new (never-been-used) oil-rubbed bronze light fixture (we also purchased this one from a garage sale.  This one was $30 at the sale, but it still had the price tag on it from when it was on sale for $69 and I found it online for $129 here and $88 here! Wohoo! Great Deal!)

TaDa! New, centered light fixture in the foyer:

Seen from the front door entrance
(The original installation had the light near the left edge of the medallion! Waaayyy off-center!) 

Here's the same view as the "before" pictures

And here's a closeup

And another closeup

     Don't worry, we didn't waste the other oil-rubbed bronze light fixture we had previously hung in the foyer.  We just felt that it was a better fit for the hallway since it was shorter (which needed a light fixture update of its own - just not as complicated).  Here's the before (this is before we painted the walls Harvest Brown by Behr, painted the trim & doors Polar Bear by Behr, and updated the doorbell chime and actually put a cover on it!):


and the after:

Closeup of the Hall Light

Here's the short version of the before's and after's:

Foyer Before
Foyer After
Hall Before

Hall After
     Much better!  Isn't it amazing how much changing a light fixture can update a space? What do you think?  Have you found a great deal at a garage/estate sale lately?

Friday, July 8

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Wednesday, July 6

Guest Bedroom Phase One

As you can tell by the title of a few of my posts, most of our projects are done in phases.  Why?  Because of time and budget constraints.  We do not do renovations on loan!  We make sure to save up for the cost of whatever project it is we are planning before we begin any phases of it.  This requires sometimes breaking a project into parts.  We have completed the first phase of our guest bedroom remodel, which was to:

1.) Remove old carpet (looks like it was original to the house)
2.) Spackle, prime, and paint walls
3.) Lay new wood flooring (laminate in this case - but I will explain why later on in another post)

Check all three things off of the to-do list of phase one!  They are complete! :)

So here's a before picture from the day we closed on the house:

And this is how the room was being used recently (not really as much of a guest room -- more like a pet room/storage room):

Day One:

The very first thing I did was to re-vacuum the carpets to get as much dirt/dust as I could up from the carpet itself.  Then we removed the carpets, which was easier than I thought it would be.  Starting at a corner, I simply pulled up on the carpet until it unfastened from the strips of wood underneath (Be careful - these strips have lots of tiny nails on them!).  I cut the carpet into smaller, more manageable pieces with a box cutter and removed the pieces from the room through the window after removing the screen, of course (I didn't want to track the dust through my house).  Underneath the carpet was a layer of foam which I also cut up into smaller pieces before tossing them through the window.  Unfortunately, underneath the layer of foam was a layer of dirt, (eww... I think I'll pick hardwood floor over carpeting any day now!) so I swept and vacuumed again to remove all the dust.  To remove the strips of wood the carpet was attached to, I used a hammer and a prybar to pull up all the nails holding each strip down.  I think this step took longer than removing the carpet and foam combined.  Then my hubby removed all the baseboards using the hammer and prybar also.  At that point, out came my trusty shop vac to get any remaining dirst dust/dirt left behind (Yes, even in the crevices between the wall and the concrete foundation usually hidden by the baseboards!)

Days Two & Three:

At this point, I didn't want to install the floors until I had painted the walls so as to avoid paint splatters on the brand-new floor (no plastic visquine required!).  The room had already been primed, so all I had to do was put up two coats of paint.  We decided to use the same paint color as we did in our guest bathroom which is right next door to this room.  The color is Restful by Behr.  Perfect name for a guest bedroom if I say so myself!  This process took two days because of drying time (we had lots of spackling to do as well as two coats of painting and cutting-in). 

While I painted the room, my hubby sanded down the baseboards, primed them, and repainted them Polar Bear by Behr (the color of our trim in every room of the house).  This reminds me that painting the trim of the doors needs to be added to Phase Two's To-Do List (should've done that before the floors were put down) . . .

Days Four & Five:
This is the tool my hubby used to cut the door trim so that the wood flooring would fit underneath.

We finally put in the flooring. Similar to carpet, laminate flooring requires a layer between the floor and the concrete foundation.  Some brands of wood flooring already have this attached to all strips of flooring, but ours did not, so we purchased two rolls (which was almost the perfect amount for the room and the closet - we had very little leftover).  The kind we purchased already had an adhesive (like double-sided tape) on it, so all you had to do to connect the pieces was to pull off the plastic layer on the outside to expose the adhesive.  It was very easy to cut with scissors or a box cutter, so either tool would work fine.  We made sure to read all instructions on this layer and the flooring before even beginning to make sure we were doing things correctly.  My husband put in the flooring itself (which were made to connect so there was no gluing required).  It was much less of a mess than the tiling project we tackled in the den (seen here) and took less time.  I would say the part that took the most time was measuring and cutting the pieces when needed.  If you need help installing wood flooring, there are some great videos from Lowe's and Home Depot (do a search on their sites or on YouTube to find them) as well as directions on the packaging itself (this may differ from brand to brand, but the kind we had had easy-to-understand directions with pictures).
There's the first few rows going in!

Here's a close-up of where the new floors meet the old floors (in the hallway) at the door.  The grains look similar, but the new floors are a little redder in color (but not by much - I don't think most people will notice it). 

To get the best match, we brought home samples of the flooring that we thought would match our current flooring the best (some samples are free, some stores charge a little under a dollar per sample but it's worth the money to check on color, grain, and size).

Then my hubby nailed in the previously sanded and painted baseboards and changed out the off-white outlets and light switches to white outlets, switches and covers for this wondefully updated look:

(This is a pic of the inside of the closet.)

And just because we love a good before-and-after comparison, here's the before again:

. . . and the after!

Our "To-Do" list for the room is still quite long, but at least now we can throw in a bed, desk, etc. and actually have people over if needed! Yay for progress! :)
Next to come for this room (this should happen within the next two weeks):

Phase Two
1.) Installing new blinds (already purchased)
2.) Painting trim around the doors (Polar Bear by Behr)
3.) Painting doors (Polar Bear again)
4.) Moving furniture back into the room (for now we will put in a queen bed from the college apartment days and some furniture from my youth, as well as possibly a desk . . . this hasn't been decided for sure just yet).  This furniture & bedding will be "for now" while we build back up the savings account and decide on the decor plan for the room.
5.) Buy & Install new light fixture (This step will possibly end up in phase three)

Phase Three
1.) Curtains
2.) Pictures/Artwork
3.) New furniture (or possibly update/paint the furniture we have already)
4.) New bedding
5.) Maybe a large rug?
6.) Decide on a closet layout & install
7.) Any other projects that I may not have thought about here

So what do you think?  Any suggestions for curtains/artwork/bedding?  I'll definitely be searching through TJ Maxx, Marshall's, Stein Mart, Target, etc. and maybe even a few online sites (and possibly taking another drive out to Ikea like we did here).  We're pretty happy that this room has been brought from the 80's into the present.  Keep checking in for updates . . . Phase Two is right around the corner!

I've linked this post up to beforeAndAfterButton

Tuesday, June 28

5 Easy Steps to a Great Garage Sale!

Thought about hosting a garage sale?  More and more people are as budgets tighten and closets burst at the seams with all of the "stuff" we accumulate over the years.  When the hubby and I moved in to our first home, we still had plenty of college furniture and supplies.  We've slowly replaced, upgraded, or decided we just didn't need some things anymore.  In the past, we've simply donated EVERYTHING we didn't want to our local Goodwill (except for our sofas, which we found a buyer for).  However, during my most recent purge of our house (and I still have another room and closet to go through!) the hubby and I decided that we would try our hand at having a garage sale of our own.  Since we live in a pretty quiet neighborhood, we paired up with another couple (who just moved into their first home) who lived on a very highly traveled road (yay customers!) to co-host the garage sale.  Besides, they had lots to get rid of after moving to the new home also and it helps to have more than just one or two people working the garage sale.

So here's what we did, as well as what we wished we did, in order to have a successful garage sale:

1.) Advertise - This may seem to be a given, but it really does help.  Not only did we put an ad in a local advertising circular, but we also made lots of signs to put on the closest major roads.  Another nice thing about co-hosting our garage sale? We got to split the price of the ad and the signs!  I made our signs from very brightly colored posters from the Dollar Tree (50 cents each), which I cut in half.  I listed only the most important details (Garage sale, address, date, time, and an arrow in the direction needed to travel to the home).  I wrote this information as clearly as possible and as BIG as possible so that it could be seen from the road without having to pull over.  Make sure to list your larger items in your ad so that they will hopefully catch the attention of customers who are shopping for a few particular items (we had plenty of people who showed up specifically for one of the listed items in our ad who probably wouldn't have come to our sale otherwise).

2.) Price/Label - Since we were co-hosting the sale with another couple, we needed to be able to keep track of how much of each sale went to each couple.  Our fix: color coding!  Instead of purchasing the garage sale tags most people use, I purchased a few large packs of colored labels which we cut to size, as needed (it ended up being much cheaper this way too!).  While I couldn't find any boxes with just two label colors, I did find a few boxes with four colors, so each couple had two colors that they could use to price their items.  This way, when someone checked out, they didn't have to seperate the items and check out twice.  When someone was ready to purchase items, we simply wrote down the two subtotals (subtotal one: couple one's items and subtotal two: couple two's items) under the correct heading on the notebook we had ready and then gave the customer a final total.  In order to more easily remember which couple had which color, we put some labels by each name at the top of the notebook page, which made for easy checking. And, of course, label your items with prices ahead of time, if at all possible.  If you end up pricing an item too high (people keep looking at it, but no one buys it), you can always re-label it as the day goes by.  We went down on a few of our prices towards the end of the day just so that we didn't have to take them back home or take them to the local Goodwill.  Sidenote: When you are pricing your items, picking increments of 25 cents (if it's under a dollar) and then dollars from then on, helps when you check out items.  By doing so, you also only have to get quarters, 5's and 1's when you get change ahead of time from the bank instead of pennies, nickels, and dimes too.  Make sure to write down the amount you started with so that it can be removed from your total before you figure out your profit for each couple. 

Ready-made (but more expensive) Garage Sale Stickers
We used Avery Color Coding Labels (76 count 1 1/2 x 2 3/4, Sorry! I couldn't find them anywhere online!) and simply wrote on them with a permanent marker and cut them into smaller price tag size pieces.

3.) Organize - We planned ahead by scrounging up tables to use to display our items (borrowed from family and friends as well as few we already had) and had them at the house the day before the sale.  You should also box like items together (all clothing together, all knick knacks together, another box of books, another box of pictures, etc. etc.) so that when you unpack in the morning all like items are together on the tables.  By putting like things together, you have made it easier for shoppers who are looking for something specific - which they usually are - to find lots of the same item (It will be on my to-do list next time).  We also talked about how things would be laid out beforehand (although we didn't set up until the morning of because we didn't want to worry about anything being stolen).  Along with the tables, we created an area to hang clothes by putting up straps between columns under the carport.  When clothes are hung, people are more likely to look through them unlike when it's simply stacked on a table or in a box.  If you do this, make sure to have plenty of hangers you are okay with letting go of as customers usually want to keep them also.  Put all of your larger (advertised!) items near the front so that they are easy to see (and mark them with a "SOLD" sign once they are sold if the customer will pick it up later).  Give yourself plenty of time to unpack (if you said your sale would start at 6AM, be ready for the early-birds to show up as early as an hour beforehand - 5AM! so you should start unpacking around that time or before it).  Oh, and have some plastic bags (from grocery or clothes shopping) or boxes available to help customers take home their finds.

4.) Negotiate - Most likely, the reason you are having a garage sale is to not only make a little money but to also get rid of lots of "stuff" that has accumulated over the years.  Therefore, if someone offers you a lower price (within reason) for items, you should consider taking it.  If you are set on a price, write "firm" on the price tag so that people will be less likely to offer you lower.  Otherwise, be ready to make some deals in order to sell your items.  If you aren't open to many deals, be ready to schlep the stuff back home or to your local donation center (it is a garage sale - people are looking for a price break and you are looking for more room in your home).

5.) Prepare the Items - If your wine glass collection has been sitting on a shelf in a closet for years untouched, when you take the glasses out to sell they'll most likely be dusty.  Taking the time to rinse and wipe dry the glasses so that they shine (with no watermarks) is a step towards making them more likely to sell.  If you are selling a clock that runs on a battery, make sure it has a working battery inside.  Customers do not want to buy an item if they aren't sure whether it works or not.  If you are selling a game console, have a TV plugged in nearby that you can connect it to to show that it works.  Same idea for lamps or any other items that require electricity.  Usually plugging it in and turning the switch to show that it works will finalize the sale and put you one step closer to your goal.

In the end, remember that any money you make is more money than you would have made just throwing the items away.  If you have items leftover (I haven't had a garage sale where this did not happen), consider donating them to your local non-profit so that they don't end up in your home again and you've helped out a good cause.  If you have leftover building materials (doors, tile, windows, etc.) or furniture, consider donating the items to your local Habitat for Humanity Restore.  They sell the items and the profits go towards Habitat for Humanity projects.  (We shop our local Restore often when remodeling)

So are you having a garage sale soon?  Had one recently? What worked or didn't work? Any additional tips or tricks you'd like to share?

Thursday, June 23

Bad Bad Blogger

So like the title says, I've been a bad blogger. :(  It's been over a month since I've posted anything on the blog.  Now that I'm off of work for the summer and back from vacation . . . let the blogging begin!  The hubby and I have big plans for our annual summer remodeling project and I have a few other types of posts in the works as we speak, so to help you whet your appetite, here's what's to come:

*Updates on the closet project we began here
*Plans, shopping details, and how-to instructions for our summer project, discussed here (we've decided to go with the guest bedroom makeover)
*Before and after pics of our friends' new home (their first also)
*Garden updates and recipes I've learned that use the produce we've grown
*Organizing tips and tricks (it's the time of the year that I really get into the organizing and purging projects around here)
*Tips for having your very own garage sale (ours was Saturday and I'll tell you what we did to prepare, and what worked as well as what didn't work)
*Before and after pics of our biggest remodeling project yet - our guest bathroom remodel (last summer's big project)

So how's that for making up for lost time?  What posts are you looking forward to? What would you like to see more of?

Sunday, May 15

Closet Redo Phase One

So we actually worked on this project towards the end of the Easter break, but I simply haven't had time to post pictures yet (plus blogger has been down).  Please remember that this is only phase one (we still have lots to do in here!).  This closet is the smaller of the two guest bedroom closets.  The hubby and I are trying to slowly consolidate our belongings into the closet and get rid of the excess as we go along.  Trying to fit my dresses and coats along with his coats, suits and some of his hunting gear into this small closet was a feat in itself. 

Here is the orginal setup:

The shelves were this height on both sides originally, but when we first moved in, my hubby raised the shelf on the right so that I could fit a few formals, bridesmaid dresses, and my wedding dress:

This arrangement worked for a while with my dresses on the right side and a stack of linens on the other, but once we tried to hang clothes on both sides, there wasn't much room left to walk into the closet nonetheless take something off of the bar and remove it from the closet without taking down a few other hanging items with it (oops!), so a design change was essential.  We began by removing all the shelving and rods from the wall, which left us needing lots of putty for all the dents/scuffs/holes etc. left in the wall:

I even made a few dents myself when I first tried to remove a few nails (they were in the stud that was in the corner, so when I used the pry bar, I was actually putting the pressure against the drywall - hence the dents).  Here was my solution to the problem:

Paintbrush with a wooden handle!  Fair warning: after using it to remove all the nails (some were quite stubborn!), the handle did eventually crack and break in two, but it was okay because it was an old paintbrush.

I even had some extra sanding to do because apparently the previous homeowners did some painting once the shelves were installed, leading to this being left behind when the shelves were removed:

The lighting in this picture isn't great, but you can see the bubble of dried paint that outlined the metal piece that the shelf and the rod sat on/in. 

Another future project is to run this cable line correctly through the wall instead of having it come through a rough hole in the ceiling....

... and ending up going through the wall into the bedroom (along with a mess of too much slack line):

For now it has been pushed back up to the ceiling, so during the summer we will fix the problem (we don't have a TV set up in that room right now anyways, so it's no rush).

We also removed the baseboards, sanded them and primed them before re-installing them. When I gave the carpet a good cleaning, I realized that the room's carpet was originally pink, not beige (since the less-used closet carpet was still pink).  I guess it is older than we thought after all.  Good thing we plan to replace it!

Once all the prep work was done, it was on to the design.  In order to add more room, we removed the two shelves and racks from the wall, my hubby cut one in half and then we put them back up in this arrangement on the center wall instead:

We always re-use what we have when we can.  All we had to do with the pieces was to sand them and prime them.  Instant facelift that makes them just like new!

What do you think of the change in the shelves and rods?  Phase two includes adding more storage, which my husband is currently making as we speak ...

Phase Two pictures coming soon!