Whitewashed Fireplace

After painting the kitchen, we moved on to the living room. I kept the same color for the living room as I did for the hall and stairway – Windham Cream (Benjamin Moore). Just like it did for the hall, this color makes the living room is so much brighter and happier. It has just enough contrast from the white trim to give the place a warm creaminess.

Here's a picture before the walls were painted.

Here’s a picture before the walls were painted.

Once the walls were painted, I decided to tackle the fireplace. It really needed an update. The brick was stained black from years of burning fires and there was a shiny brass grate on the front that just had a dated look that didn’t go in my new bright living room.

I started with the grate. After taping off the glass windows, I sprayed the grate with a couple coats of a high heat black paint (Rust-oleum High Heat Paint). Easy fix! Now on to the brick…

Rather than simply painting the brick, I decided to whitewash it. That way, some of the brick texture would still show through, but yet cover up the soot.

I read several blog tutorials to show me how to properly whitewash the brick. I really wanted to be sure I knew what I was doing.¬†Even though we aren’t applying straight paint to the fireplace, once we started we wouldn’t be able to go back. Before starting, my mom and I prepped the area. Our fireplace has a raised hearthstone with brick underneath. We taped off the carpet below the brick and wrapped a plastic sheet over the hearthstone. Then we were ready to start!IMG_1678IMG_1683

I used a simple recipe of 1 part paint to 2 parts water. I used an old can of white paint I had (Decorator’s White, Benjamin Moore) and mixed it up in a bucket. I applied the paint/water mixture with a large paint brush and allowed it to soak in for a few minutes. Then I dabbed off the excess paint. This recipe will give you a very light coverage. I saw some recipes that were a 1:1 ratio of paint to water, but our brick was light in color and I didn’t want to cover it up too much, so I used the 1:2 ratio. If you have a darker brick fireplace, I would suggest using the 1:1 ratio. I dabbed a little more whitewash on some spots to vary the texture a little bit.

The next day I painted the mantle white to match the trim in the room (White Dove, Benjamin Moore). Once all of it was dry, I put the new black grate on the fireplace and it was done! I added a few birch logs and christmas lights for decoration and the project was finished! Another cheap and easy update that has a big impact ūüôā


Painting the Kitchen

The next project to tackle was the kitchen. The walls were a mustard-gold color that just depressed me. It made the kitchen so dark even though there are plenty of windows.

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I opted for a light blue color. Can you tell that I love blue yet? Hint: there might still be more blue rooms to come!

I wanted a blue that wasn’t too blue. I don’t want to be known as the “Blue Lady”. So, after trying many samples of different blue paints on the walls, I chose one that was actually a gray with a blue tone. It’s called “Beacon Gray” (Benjamin Moore). This color has the blue that I love, but it’s not in-your-face blue.

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Up until now, we had been painting the ceiling of every room. It’s amazing how clean and bright the room looks with a fresh coat of white paint on the ceiling, but the ceiling in the kitchen already looked pretty good and I didn’t want to edge around all of the crown moulding on the cabinets. We decided not to paint the ceiling. Even without doing the ceiling, painting in the kitchen was tricky since there were so many areas to edge around. My mom is great at edging, so she did that while I used the roller. We only needed one coat of paint (thank you Benjamin Moore paints!) so the whole room only took us a few hours.

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We painted the trim white (White Dove, Benjamin Moore) and put up new white baseboards as well. I love how the new blue kitchen looks! I’ll do a before and after post on this room after we finish everything we want to do. Stay tuned!

Down With the Spindles

After finishing the hallway/stairway painting we started to work downstairs. The first thing you see when walking in our front door were two half-walls with spindles. This look was popular several decades ago, but not so much nowadays.


I really wanted to get rid of them. My dad brought over his reciprocating saw (a.k.a. “sawzall”) and we had them down in no time. I have never used a reciprocating saw, but I couldn’t help but feel like I was using a gigantic electric breadknife. One that can cut through wood…and fingers if I wasn’t careful! I let my dad and husband do most of the work while I snapped photos and took a few videos. It was really fun to watch the progress as one after another spindle fell to the ground, opening up the area.




I really like how it looks without the spindles. The area feels much more open. Ideally, we would like to remove the half-walls all together, but that would leave a huge hole in the flooring. Whenever we replace the flooring in the living room we will take down the half-walls. Then the living room would really open up! But for now, I’m pleased to say good-bye to the spindles. Cost for this project: $0, the view without the spindles: priceless! ¬† ūüėõ

Back from a long break

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!

A little sneak peek of the living room and fireplace!

A little sneak peek of the living room and fireplace!

Hello again and happy holidays! It’s been a long time since my last post but I’ve been pretty busy. Work, life, family events and home renovation have kept me from blogging regularly, but I’ve been taking pictures. I’m hoping to catch you up to speed on our progress over the next few posts. I believe we left off with painting the guest bedroom. We added white baseboards to that room and painted the window, closet and door trim white (Benjamin Moore ‘White Dove’).


From there we moved on to painting the hallway. I had to be careful choosing the hallway paint color, because it flows down the stairs, into the entryway and into the living room. I wanted a neutral color since it covers so many walls, but I also wanted a little brightness and warmth. There were several great colors that I tested on the walls, but in the end I chose a very pale buttery color called ‘Windham Cream’ (Benjamin Moore). This color looks great in the hallway and really helps to brighten up the dark stairway. Painting this whole area took a few weekends. We started in the hallway, painting the ceiling as well. I didn’t take many photos of that process, but my mom snapped a few of me painting the stairway. We set up a ladder to rest against the far wall and I climbed up there to paint the ceiling and high up on the walls. It was a little scary, but the ladder was actually quite stable and it worked really well. Windham Cream was a great choice for this area. I love how it looks!


Hallway painted and trim painted

Hallway painted and trim painted

More updates to come!

I Got the Guest Bedroom Blues

Last weekend we started work on the guest room. I wanted a restful place for guests to stay, so I chose to paint the walls a pale blue color. After trying a few samples on the wall, I ended up going with ‘Summer Shower’ by Benjamin Moore. I chose that shade because it has just the right warmth to compliment the ivory colored quilt I have for the bed. I considered BM’s color of the year, ‘Breath of Fresh Air’ but it seemed too cool of a blue. It might look nice in the kitchen, though!


Ceiling white paint


Painting the ceiling with a roller. The hat is necessary or I would have ended up with white splatters in my hair!


My mom edging the around the ceiling and moulding.

We started by painting the ceiling the generic ‘Ceiling White,’ and the next day we did the walls. My mom edged and I used the roller. While I hate painting the ceiling (stiff neck, paint spatters on your face‚Ķ) I love Benjamin Moore paint. It covers in just one coat. Even the paint samples (I tried a few other colors on the walls, too) were covered with one coat. It may be a little pricier than other paints, but if it saves time and I don’t have to buy extra paint I feel like it’s actually a better value. Luckily we have a great little True Value in town that sells Benjamin Moore paint. The $5 off coupons printed on the back of grocery store receipts that I keep finding are a great little discount too.


Forgive the terrible lighting, but the walls are now blue! I will post a better picture later on.


Don’t mind the painting clothes…

On Monday, my mom and I drove to Lowe’s to pick up a few more pieces of baseboard moulding since the master bedroom trim looks so great. We bought five pieces so we will have enough to do the hallway right away too. The third bedroom will probably be pushed off for a while. We don’t know what we want to do with that room yet. It has 70’s panelling over all four walls and I’m not sure I want to tackle that project quite yet. I would rather focus on the other rooms of the house.

I can’t wait until we get the guest room fixed up and ready for visitors!

Moving Into Our Bedroom!

This will be a quick post, but I just had to make an update. We moved into our master bedroom! Since we refinished the floor right away, we didn’t move our furniture into the bedrooms and have been sleeping in our living room. We let the finish on the floor dry for about a week and installed the white baseboards. Last Saturday, my parents came over and the guys lifted the heavy furniture upstairs into our room. I put the new duvet we received as a wedding gift on the bed. It looks like a whole new ¬†room! Of course we can still use a little more decor in the room (drapes, artwork, doors on the closet) but it’s coming together and it’s our room.


Putting together the bed frame.


The new room!

It’s amazing what a transformation it is when the queen sized mattress and two dressers are moved out of the living room. We were able to move our furniture into a better arrangement and have a little breathing room. It’s becoming painfully obvious that our mismatched apartment furniture looks a little out of place in a proper home, but one thing at a time! For now we are happy to have a separate living room and bedroom. More to updates to the living room will be coming.


We have a living room!

Putting Up White Trim

One of the things I notice the most when I look through home decor websites is that most of them feature homes with white trim. Paint colors just seem to pop against the contrast of white baseboards and moulding. I grew up in a home with beautiful oak trim that my father painstakingly stained and installed into our home, and it looks great in their home, but the trim in our house is not quite as beautiful. In fact, the trim is¬†extremely simple. It’s about 2.5 inches of plain dark wood. Not exactly¬†the gleaming white I had always imagined.¬†


We removed all of the baseboards on the second story when we refinished the hardwood floors, and were intending on painting them white and putting them back up. I took that opportunity to look for new trim that I liked, and found some that was rather inexpensive. Since we have radiators along some of the baseboards and large closets in the bedroom, we only needed about 30 feet of trim for the master bedroom. My mom and I ventured out to Lowes to purchase three 12 foot pieces of primed MDF baseboards for approximately $1 per foot. Not bad! We had to get a little creative fitting it in the minivan, but were excited to see how they looked. 


Mark nailing the baseboards in.


Dad making sure the pieces fit together.

On Sunday, we gave the trim two good coats of Benjamin Moore Dove White paint. Last night my dad came over and helped Mark install the baseboards in the master bedroom. It was a tedious task, but one that makes a huge impact. They look great! I think we might have to do this for the entire house…what do you think?


White trim, new floors, Revere Pewter walls


Refinishing the Hardwood Floors: Part 2

We finally finished the hardwood floors! Hooray! After sanding like crazy last weekend, and applying five coats of finish this weekend, we have beautiful hardwood floors. 

Just to recap, last Saturday and Sunday Mark and I, along with my mom, dad, and sister, sanded the floors of our entire second story, minus the bathroom. It took us two full days, but by the end of the second day, the floors were smoothly sanded. On Thursday, we prepped the floors by carefully vacuuming and using a tack cloth to pick up lingering dust. Then my dad and I applied a coat of sanding sealer to cause the wood fibers to stand up. On Friday, we lightly scuffed the floors, tacked again and applied the first coat of finish. It’s amazing to see how beautiful the wood is when the finish is applied! We decided not to stain the wood in favor of a more natural look. From what I hear, it’s a little more low maintenance since scratches and dust won’t stand out quite so much. We are all about low maintenance – there are enough things to maintain for us new homeowners! And, we just like the look of the lighter wood. It is going to look really nice next to the paint we are picking out and the decor we already have.¬†¬†


Mark applying finish around the edges of the room.


My dad using the finish applicator to apply finish onto the floors.

On Saturday, my dad and Mark applied four more coats of finish and the floors look great! While the guys were finishing the floors, my mom and I started on yard work. My parents are letting us borrow their lawn mower for a while until we get one of our own. Our yard is a little over a quarter of an acre so it took about an hour to cut the whole thing. My mom brought over a weed whacker to edge around the fences and bushes. We started getting some landscaping ideas…but that will be another project on the list. We also stopped at our local Lowes to pick up a few pieces of baseboard to try painting. If they look good, we are going to put them up in the master bedroom later this week.

The guys finished with the floors just in time for dinner. We grilled steaks to celebrate a job well done. The floors are dried enough that we can walk on them, but we will have to wait to move our furniture in until later in the week.


woodfloorsafter After: gorgeous new floors!


For this project we used Varathane water based polyurethane. To finish the entire second floor, which I’m estimating to be approximately 650 sq ft, only used a little over two gallons and about a half of a gallon of sanding sealer. We used countless pieces of sand paper, several pairs of ear plugs and a box of respirator masks. All in all, it was a tough job, but it’s so rewarding to see the beautiful floors! I haven’t added up all of the final receipts since we are taking back a few gallons of finish that we didn’t use, but it’s looking like the project costed us a little under $500. Remember, we were quoted at about $2,000 to have this job done professionally. Pretty great cost savings! Thankfully I have my hardworking and generous family to help us with this project, or Mark and I wouldn’t have been able to do it. ūüôā¬†

Painting the master bedroom

Hi everyone! I hope you had a great week. As we rested a little (and went back to work) after the marathon of sanding last weekend, we shifted our focus to painting. This week the master bedroom was painted. We wanted to get the master bedroom done, because we are finishing the hardwood this weekend. We will let it dry for a few days, then we can move our furniture in. Getting those walls painted was a priority. I can’t wait to stop sleeping in the living room!

I wanted to choose a restful, neutral color so that I can change my decor with the seasons. I like to add colorful accent pieces and artwork¬†to add my own flare to the room. My favorite color is blue, so I immediately thought of that, but we also have blue in our duvet, and I don’t want it to be the “blue room”. I’m not a big fan of matchy-matchy decor. So, I ended up choosing¬†¬†Benjamin Moore Revere Pewter for the walls, and Decorator’s White for the ceiling and closet. A perfect neutral canvas to work from. My saint of a mother came on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week to paint while Mark and I were at work. It was so fun to come home to see the changes!


We put one of the shams from our duvet against the wall to see how it looked with the paint. I like it!


Here’s a shot of the whole room with the ceiling. The floor isn’t finished yet, of course, but will be soon!

We are also planning on painting all of the woodwork white, so the master bedroom baseboards will be the first to be painted. Once the finish on the floor is dry, we can add the baseboards and move the furniture in and I can have a living room again!

Refinishing the Hardwood Floors: Part 1

If you have ever wondered why it is so expensive to have hardwood floors refinished let me tell you…

When we first went through our house, we knew right away that the hardwood floors were the first project we wanted to tackle. There were areas that were faded and some that were worn right down to the bare hardwood. We figured that it would be easiest to do it right away before moving anything into our second floor. I knew that refinishing hardwood floors is a beast of a job (especially for novice DIYers), so I called around for estimates from three different floor refinishing companies. The price to refinish three bedrooms was approximately $2,000, which is a little more than we wanted to spend. So, we decided to give it a try ourselves.


Closet doors removed


Trim and threshold removed


Baseboards removed

Saturday morning, bright and early, we woke up to start prepping the rooms. We removed all of the baseboards, thresholds, doors and radiator covers, vacuumed out each room and gathered all of the sanders, sandpaper, and painters tape. My parents arrived with the rented orbital sander and we got to work. Our plan was to give each of the three bedrooms and the hallway a good sanding with a 36 grit sandpaper to remove the finish, and smooth it out with a 60 and 80 grit paper. With our respirators and ear plugs in place, we started to sand the first room. Five hours later, we were still not done with the first round using the 36 grit in the first room. It was unbelievable how tough the finish was. We went through 3 sets of 36 grit paper on that first room, and then used a few smaller sanders to touch up spots that the large sander just couldn’t get. We were on our hands and knees edging and sanding out the tough spots. Luckily the 60 and 80 grit paper went a lot faster. By then, the finish was already removed, so we were just smoothing out the scratches left by the coarser 36 grit. The amount of dust is crazy. Thankfully we had a few box fans blowing dust out the windows and a shop vac hooked up to the orbital sander to suck up as much dust as possible. We had a broom to help as well.¬†At¬†the end of the first day, we had two rooms sanded with the 36 and the 60 grit. The hallway and the third bedroom needed attention on day two.


Mark and my dad checking out the sander


Mom using the big sander in the hallway


Mark edging in the third bedroom


Teresa sweeping up the endless dust


My dad edging in the master bedroom

Luckily we had tons of help. Both of my parents and my sister Teresa were sanding with us all day. My aunt and uncle were even kind enough to drop off a hot lunch for us, complete with home baked cookies, which was a welcome sight after sanding for hours. We gobbled it all up before I was even able to take a photo!

It was a back breaking weekend of sanding, but it feels good to have that part done. Next weekend, we will apply a sanding sealer, buff that out, then apply four coats of finish. We decided to skip the stain and leave the wood naturally colored. The wood is a red oak and it’s very pretty on it’s own. This week, my mother is planning on painting the ceilings in the bedrooms (very carefully not to get any paint on the bare floors!) and maybe paint our bedroom as well. We will have to wait a few days before moving into our room after the final coat of finish, so it will be a good week and half left of us sleeping in the living room, but it will be worth it in the end. Next weekend I will update you with part 2 of the floor refinishing project!


Sanding finished in the third bedroom


Sanding finished in the hallway