home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation Update


Well here we are on October 19th and guess who’s kitchen reno is still in progress? Yep, my goal of keeping to a tight schedule and end date of October 16th didn’t happen. Why? Well mostly my fault. In my excitement for beautiful granite countertops to be measured and installed, I screwed up the appointment information and didn’t have the cabinets ready to be measured. This resulted in rescheduling and pushing the measurement appointment out two more weeks.

If you’ve ever done something like this you may have spent several days beating yourself up-like I did. Resulting in feeling a little deflated, for a few days anyway!

After regrouping, ceiling and walls were painted, Jeff and I got the cabinets installed and trimmed with birch side panels, vinyl flooring laid down and lighting installed. Oh, and then I decided that I wanted to transition the same flooring into the adjacent powder room, so we added that project, too!

Here are a few shots of what we’ve accomplished:

Starting with newly spackled walls and ceiling:  



After paint, cabinets, lights and flooring:








A quick powder room flooring switcheroo:

      dsc04578              14632879_1298420446842906_3690451387445092450_n

There is still lots of finishing details to attend to such as, trimming out windows and doors, installing baseboards, installing DIY toe kicks because my floor is so crooked the IKEA toe kicks aren’t thick enough!

And of course the countertops and sink will be installed this week so we can resume cooking/cleaning up in the kitchen again! Who would have thought that is something to be excited about?

I’ll have details on how I crafted my utensil container into a pendant light in an upcoming post. We’re getting close to buttoning this remodel up and moving back into a working kitchen! Hopefully I’ll have the room finished by end of next week!

sig2 (3)

home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation-Spackling, Shopping & Sticking to the Timeline


Last week’s post left off with the kitchen drywall being transformed from old, yellowed and uneven to baby’s bottom smooth walls and ceiling! My drywaller has kept to his promise of making the kitchen look like it was redone with all new drywall. All his hard work saved me time (tearing down old drywall) and money (not having to pay for new/installed drywall everywhere)!

Now onto the really fun part-shopping! Jeff experienced his first (and probably last) trip to IKEA to pick up our Bjorket (birch wood) cabinets. I recommend hitting the store early with your digital kitchen plan saved on their website. Tweak the plans with the kitchen associate, place order, pay right there (KEY) and then give the warehouse time to pick everything on your list. Our small kitchen cabinets still came in 80 boxes! Worth a decent truck rental to haul the stuff home, if you  drive a car/suv, unless you take multiple vehicles.While we waited for our order we picked up our cabinet hardware, ceiling lighting, wall clock, supplies for my DIY over the sink pendant light, unvented exhaust hood, a tiny orchid and some wood shelf brackets for over the coffee bar (that I have yet to make).
The flooring I decided to go with, TrafficMaster Allure White Maple vinyl planks, was a change from the peel and stick vinyl with grout that I initially planned on. While at HD comparing tile samples a guy walked up to me and asked about my project. He gave rave review about the Allure floating vinyl flooring he had installed, remarked that for about a dollar more per square foot it was an additional cost but that “you can’t go wrong.” I looked through the on premise offering and didn’t really find one I loved. Stone look in gray tones was what I was shooting for. I went home, checked product reviews, ease of installation and online selections and found that I really liked the look of the White Maple. Sight unseen, I placed an order that should be delivered in a few days. I can always return it and choose another style, as the flooring will be going in after the cabinets anyway.
The sink faucet is Miseno. Simple brushed nickel with a pull down sprayer.
Wall paint is a yet to be decided choice between Behr Bit-O-Sugar and Nano White. Plus, I want to paint the only wall that doesn’t have cabinets or appliance an accent color, maybe a blue-gray color. But before that, the walls will need to be sealed and primed, especially to cover any old, yellowed drywall.
As mentioned in previous post, the countertops will be Himalayan White  granite with a stainless undermount sink. I would have loved a stainless apron front sink but it wasn’t part of this budget.

So far, we’ve been right on our timeline. Fingers crossed, we’ll keep on track. If you’re interested, here’s my to-do list:
Finish removing old vinyl flooring, patch and sand smooth
Clean and prime drywall
Paint ceiling and walls
Install cabinets
Pro’s installing countertops/sink
Install faucet/hook up plumbing
Hook up DW
Install flooring
Paint and install baseboard, casing
Move appliances back to kitchen (range yet to be purchased)
Repaint radiator and reinstall
Hang lighting


Still hoping to be a functional kitchen again by October 16th!
Lots to do in a little time, but I’m optimistic!

sig2 (3)

home renovation, life

Kitchen Renovation – Sweat Equity

Last week we kicked off our kitchen renovation. Cabinets were removed and given away, old panelling removed and plaster walls knocked down, and wiring and electrical fixtures were updated. I’ve never been more exhausted! But coffee and knowing how awesome our kitchen will be keeps me running and motivated!









I’m fortunate enough to have this renovation be my full-time job. We couldn’t keep a four week timeline and DIY the bulk of the work otherwise. Who has that kind of energy?

What I’ve learned thus far is: much can be done on a small budget, swinging a hammer to bust apart walls or remove a countertop is therapeutic and gratifying and if able, getting some input from professionals helps ensure the work you’re doing is good quality.


As I’m writing this my drywaller is working miracles installing new drywall where the old couldn’t be saved and taping/mudding ALL the many joints together.  The progress is so exciting!


We are officially operating with a pseudo kitchen setup. All sinks in the house are up for grabs until we’ve got a functional kitchen sink, which should be by October 6th! Controlled chaos will reign for the next three weeks. My goal is to manage this project and the tight timeline as best I can. I’ve never been a super organized person but I end each day with a list of all the things I need to accomplish the next day. So far I’ve been able to cross off my daily tasks and drawing a line through the completed item is so gratifying!

I’ve got lots of shopping to do in anticipation of the next steps. We’re using IKEA cabinets, I’ve decided to use vinyl for the floor and need to find a tile I like (I’ll be grouting it), drywall sealer and paint color choices are yet to be determined. Granite countertops in Himalayan white will be measured for fabrication next week! I’m also in the market for a new electric range-so I’m doing some research for something that will work in our budget. But if a girl could dream, it would be this:


This 5K range is about half my renovation budget, it’s so not happening! Dreaming is free, thank heavens!

Oh, in addition, thanks to prowling Craigslist I found a sweet metal cabinet that I plan to make into our coffee bar! So rough plans are needed to build a wood base with casters. Just add that to the list!

More renovation details to come, stay tuned!

sig2 (3)






home renovation

Kitchen Renovation


It’s time to move our renovating efforts to the kitchen area. Our 1970’s kitchen has post Hurricane Agnes (1972) panelled walls and drop ceiling chic.


The original plan was just to update the cabinets/counters/floors. Painting a fresh white over the buttery white semi-gloss paneling. But the ugly drop ceiling kept nagging at me. So, without a proper plan I began pushing up some of the ceiling tiles to see what’s underneath. I found unfinished sheetrock cobbled together like a patchwork quilt. From there I couldn’t help myself, I needed to see what was behind that paneling. And just like watching a horror movie where you yell “STOP! Don’t go in there!” I went there.


With pry bar in hand, the moulding was removed, along with some of the paneling. YUCK! More old, unfinished sheetrock with some sizeable gaps between the pieces. But it didn’t stop with just one or two panels. All the ceiling tiles were removed as well as, several pieces of paneling.


Enough self-inflicted renovation damage was done in the process that now a new plan was required. A call was made to a drywall contractor. He showed up and you could tell he wanted nothing to do with patching up this mess! He recommended a general contractor come in and make recommendations for the most economical course of action. Hmm.

dsc04526At this point there was nowhere to go but forward. SOME action needs to be taken, it’s just a matter of time and money. Will it be :  A) a full gutting of the kitchen, B) a cost saving more modern drop ceiling with beadboard walls to replace the removed paneling or C) really?! – there is no C!

Decisions, decisions!

In honesty, I wasted the whole day fretting what to do. But by late afternoon I realized choosing to take it down to the studs was the way to go.


Why you ask? In truth we’d like to sell our old home in the near future and a newer kitchen would help that along. There really isn’t enough of a inexpensive phase 1 renovation that would be a worthwhile investment. New cabinets/countertops/flooring would look nice but what the room really needs is a better “foundation” to really shine.


Now it’s down to organizing a work timeline and getting specifics on countertops and flooring. Let the games begin!

sig2 (3)

DIY art, home renovation

Updating an Autumn Wreath


It’s officially fall in my book. School’s back in session, Labor Day has come and gone, hazy, hot and humid days are behind us and pumpkin spiced everything is back!


To welcome the change of season, I’ve pulled out my autumn front door wreath. It’s several years old and is losing some of it’s berries. I love the orange against my navy painted door and decided that rather than trade it out for a new wreath, why not update it!


Purple and orange look great together, so I went shopping for silk flowers to change things up and found these.


A few snips to separate the flower stems and it was easy to tuck them into the grapevine that makes up the base of the wreath. A bit of floral tape holds the heavier faux heather in place.


Give the floral wires a little bend to position and you’ve got an nicely updated autumn wreath!


If you use coupons on your mobile phone while shopping you can always save at least 25% off at places like Michael’s or Joann Fabrics. Adding a bit of ribbon, some faux flowers or metallic painted fruit can give just that extra something to tired door decor.



Here’s the before and after:

DSC04482         DSC04505

I’m a fan of this “new” fall wreath! For the record, being crafty isn’t usually my thing, so if I’m able to rework an old wreath, anyone can!

What’s on your door this autumn? Something old or something new?

sig2 (3)

home renovation

Making Digital Renovation Plans


When you’re planning a room renovation or simply changing the layout, where to you begin with your design?

I’ve been an unabashed pen and paper kind of gal. Even in 2016 with an overload of digital tools, it was always just easier to sketch out a quick design. But while online shopping for a super small bathroom sink, I came across IKEA’s home planner tool and made my first 3D digital plan! I’m hooked on playing around with this planner. You may have read my post of the plans to remodel the bathroom, here. At the time, this was the extent of my digital design:


Here’s a shot of my bathroom in 3D using the digital planner:

bathroom ins

It’s so much fun to redesign a room and is very user friendly! With this tool, you can rotate your plan, zoom in/out and change views from the side to top. Even if you’re not planning on using IKEA products it’s great for visualizing general room layout and flow and it’s free to use!

Here’s my kitchen plan:




I’m still noodling around with my preferred kitchen design and whether or not I’m going to replace the cabinets and countertops. If we go that full kitchen reno route, it’ll be with these birch wood cabinets.

DSC04464      DSC04463


Planning out a design change with a digital planner is not only a great way to easily change up a room but is helpful when you’re trying to convey your ideas to your significant other, who may need to see it, to get it.

What’s your go to way of planning out a design project? I’d love to hear about your user friendly design technology.

If you’re still a pen and paper fan, I urge you to give digital a try.

sig2 (3)


Easy Closet Organization

DSC04433 (2)

Closet Organization

Who hasn’t thumbed through a magazine and paused to marvel at closets like these:




They’re all gorgeous! I don’t know anyone who wouldn’t love this kind of closet! How organized we could be!

These walk-in closets have a place for everything and are so large they could double as another bedroom! You’d only have to walk across the room to pull out winter clothes. All your shoes, purses and jewelry on shelves or in velvet lined drawers! If you’re feeling generous, this space could be his and hers.

Sadly, these dream closets are not in the budget for most of us. In older homes, like mine, closets are a fraction of the size. Here’s a peek at mine (unorganized).


You’re probably thinking how small it is and you’d be right!  At 2.5′ x 10′, it’s a tight squeeze! If there was a larger opening with bi-fold or sliding doors, the accessibility and functionality would be improved. There is no extra room for storing winter clothes in here, for sure!


I have a very old Closet Maid wire system for organizing things. No velvet lined drawers here!

So, why am I sharing my tiny closet space? Well, one, I recently was compelled to do some clothing purging, hence the emptying out of the closet contents. Two, to discuss a few simple ideas to better organize your clothing closet regardless of the size or layout – no $$$ needed!

My Easy Closet Organization

  • Use it or lose it – for everyday work/play clothes, if your don’t wear it or it doesn’t look/feel good on you, time to say goodbye.


  • Special Occasion clothes – keep if it’s a sentimental favorite (store it), otherwise, let go of those items that you KNOW you’ll never wear again. Just because fashion comes in cycles doesn’t mean you should wear it again. I’m talking to you circa 1980’s Dynasty shoulder padded anything! *Good rule of thumb: if you wore it as a teenager, it may not be your most attractive adult look.


  • Organize by color – I like all my pants to be hung in groups so all the jeans, all dark dress slacks, all khakis are together, etc. Same for tops with the exception of long and short sleeve.


  •         All hangers facing the same direction and all clothing facing either right or left – easier to find                 what you need and no wrangling with tangled hangers!


  • Keep seasonal items within easy reach – all my sandals are in plain sight, boots are tucked in back until fall. Same with jackets/purses/scarves. Keep the items front and center season appropriate.


  • Don’t keep anything hung in your closet that doesn’t fit or needs repair – use this logic:  if you needed your husband to rush home and pull out a pair of pants and a top for an emergency change of clothes, you don’t want him showing up with the one pair of pants that you haven’t fit into for seven years or the blouse that’s missing a strategically placed button!

 Here’s my tiny closet now:DSC04450

Still tiny, but I removed lots of clothes that I was keeping but not wearing. These were donated.

As you can see from the photos below, I moved pants and dresses to the the right and short and long sleeve tops to the left. Sweaters and sweatshirts are on lower shelves to keep the piles tidy when I remove one. Things that I didn’t need in my closet like a bolt of fabric or a bin of miscellaneous keepsakes, found new homes, leaving room for my purses in their dust bags.

      Untitled                       DSC04454

DSC04436                       DSC04453

I realize that even after organizing my closet, no one will look at it with envy but, if it helps me to see what I have and brings a bit of order to the chaos of life then, mission accomplished!

Love to organize? What’re your favorite tips? Share in the comments.

  sig2 (3)


Beyond the Basics – College Must Haves


DSC02099 (2)


If you’re a parent who’s counting down the days until the car is packed and your freshman is headed off to college, you’ve probably already hit the stores with a long list of Must Haves for the college.dorm-feature1

My dining room is quickly filling up with boxes bound for college, so I thought I’d pick the brain of my favorite college sophomore for her recommended Must Haves, beyond the bedding, laptop and office supplies.


After they’ve lofted their beds, it’s time to get down to some serious unpacking, organizing and decorating!  The following items can help make their freshman dorm-life experience more comfortable. As a parent when your kid’s life is good, so is yours!

Beyond the Basics – Must Haves


After you loft your bed, use storage bins to stash towels and toiletries or clothes for cooler weather. Dorm storage is limited, so make the most of the space you’ve got!


A few inches of memory foam can improve the comfort of the typical dorm mattress.


A small fan for less than $25, keeps a dorm cool and doesn’t require much space. In the northeast part of the country it can feel like summer up til October!



 TJMaxx and Homegoods carry area rugs to make your room cozy and add bit of color. A rug will protect your bare feet from the cold tile flooring!



Don’t risk damaging walls, use Command Strips to hang everything from posters & bulletin boards to fairy lights.



Headphones are a must in shared dorm space!



Prevent back and neck strain by using a laptop stand.

A mini fridge and a place to store snacks for when the dining hall is closed!

  The goal for parents and students is to make the transition as stress-free as possible! Good luck Class of 2020! Don’t forget to bring some Kleenex.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         sig2 (3)

blogging, DIY art

Oldies & Newbies Blogging Network

Blogging, whatever your niche, is so much more than charting a journey or creating interesting content. In two decades the blogging universe has become well established.  Most readers have a higher expectation of not only content but the overall quality of a website. Our visual communication standards are that of magazine worthy photos. That means, honing some serious photography skills, not to mention taking on the whole technical side of running a blog.

Many blogging superstars have built a business around their blog. Whether through good timing and luck or hard work and crazy talent, they’ve moved the bar of achievability from sharing with a large audience to creating a brand and a company.

Still, there are even more blogs and bloggers you’ve never heard about or stumbled upon. This is my group. New(ish) and relatively unknown.

In an attempt to run a better blog and improve my social media reach, I’ve signed up for a group called Oldies and Newbie Blogging Network. It’s a mentorship/partnership/networking opportunity. A chance to learn about blogging from someone who’s established.

I’m pairing up with a seasoned blogger, Robin from Redo It Yourself Inspiration. I had liked and followed Robin on IG even before I joined the O & N group because her work is eyecatching!

As you can tell by her blog title, Robin is a DIY blogger. Redo It Yourself Inspiration is filled with so much eye candy!  She has a modern/farmhouse aesthetic and a true appreciation for wood furniture. Here are a few examples of her amazing talent.

before and after carriage bench

before and after wicker rattan chair collage

70s table before and after collage

secretary desk repair and makeover by redoit

before and after new

Before and After Country Bench RD

Robin’s been blogging for three years. She comes from a family of makers and crafters, so it’s no surprise that she’s talented and has tackled projects most people would pass on. In addition, she’s a Mom and a new Grandma – Congratulations! A rescuer of dogs and birds. Check out the dog sofa she made for her Husky, Danny, here. One lucky rescue pup!

Robin has already given me several suggestions for improving my blog, as well as a lovely compliment on my content! I appreciate both!

There is so much to learn when blogging, be it coding, SEO, social media, monetizing. I’ve just begun scratching the surface. My hope is to get to know Robin and work with her to fine tune things, continue building content and growing my social media. I’d love to give making DIY videos a try.

I am so looking forward to this opportunity and all that can be learned!

sig2 (3)          27875974280_1221c9683f_h

DIY art, Thrifting

Teak Bowls for the College Girl


Last month I participated in the Thrift Store Challenge with an awesome group of DIY bloggers. You can read more about the challenge here.

I received a box of thrifted items to use for the makeover challenge. Of the four items, I used three during the challenge: the pear, tiles and napkin rings.

DSC03931    DSC03934

DSC03928    DSC03924

My daughter who will be headed back to college in two weeks was eyeballing a trinket bowl I bought from Wayfair. She thought that I made it for Jeff and wanted one for her room. She’s so sweet to overestimate my skills!


Well, Wayfair doesn’t stock these anymore but I did have some teak bowls just waiting to be used!


We decided to add to black and white paint to the outside to match her minimalist decor.

DSC04402    DSC04406

To add another layer of interest without adding color, I used the bubble technique for a fun way to add white over the black paint.

Mix a teaspoon of dish soap with some water and paint. Using a straw, blow bubbles like kids do when they drink chocolate milk, until it overflows the cup. I held the bowl up to the bubbles turning it while the bubbles made a pattern on the side.


Prepare for paint to splatter your face/glasses, or use a longer straw! You can apply more white to change the pattern or even layer on colors. But my instructions were black and white only, please!

I did used the same technique with the white, but snuck some grey in with the black.

DSC04410      DSC04425

They’re a nice contrast of teak wood and glossy paint!

DSC04430      DSC04420

They’ll be such a cute catch-all for her dorm!


I love making things that are functional! Even better when you can make something for those you love! #madewithlove


sig2 (3)