DIY Ikea Kitchen
1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

My DIY Ikea Kitchen 1 Year Later

It’s been a year since our “kitchenwarming” down the shore, and it’s finally starting to feel like a functional place to cook and not just a showroom. It took a while to stock it; to collect all the spices we use regularly, to amass odds and ends like cupcake liners and cutting boards. We’ve gotten used to how it functions, and started agreeing on where we keep things. I’ve had some time to think about what I’d change if I were to do it all again (I’m not).

DIY Ikea Kitchen

The custom-made cabinet doors

I didn’t like the available Ikea doors so we got custom made doors and I painted them myself. They look great, and didn’t cost much more than the Ikea doors, but it was a ton of work and honestly not worth it for a kitchen I only see on weekends and the occasional vacation week. Even with a sprayer, priming and painting the doors was a pain. I still think the custom doors are a good way to get a high end look in an otherwise budget kitchen, but I think I could have skipped it for this particular project.

The only really frustrating thing about the custom doors is that you’ve got no room to change your mind later. On our sink cabinet I had originally planned for a pull out trash drawer. Once everything was in it was very obvious that wouldn’t fit under the garbage disposal. I needed to switch from a drawer front to hinged doors, and ended up going with some that don’t quite match (and I still haven’t gotten around to painting). Granted I could have ordered more doors from the cabinetry company, but that would have taken another few weeks and I wanted to be done.

Custom doors on Ikea cabinet


The island

Our kitchen is about 10 foot square and I really didn’t think we had room for an island. I taped it out on the floor and took a while to pace around the room trying to get a feel for it. I’m really glad we put it in, the island makes it much easier for two people to work in the kitchen at once.

I think if I did it again though I’d get a freestanding island rather than a built in one. It would be nice to be able to move it out of the way for parties, and we really don’t need the massive amount of storage space it provides. Half the drawers in it are still empty.

Ikea kitchen island

The flooring

We went with luxury vinyl tile and it looks great. It’s waterproof, durable, and most people haven’t noticed it isn’t wood. To be fair, most people are also not looking because they are busy being on vacation. We’ve gotten many compliments on it. The transition molding I picked up from Lowes isn’t a perfect match, but it’s enough to make the room feel finished and put together.

Carpet to Vinyl transition

The drawers within drawers

Ikea has this feature where you can put drawers inside of doors or other drawers. We actually have this in our non-Ikea kitchen at home, and inside cabinets with doors it’s pretty great. It functions kind of like a pull out shelf for your pot lids or other doodads.

Ikea cabinets function on the idea of elements being a certain number of “units” high. Drawers can take up 1, 2, or 3 units. Our configuration has 2-high exterior drawers with a smaller 1-high drawer inside it.

Ikea drawer-within-a-drawer

It sounds great in theory but in practice the smaller drawer is practically invisible if it’s closed. We’ve started calling them the ‘secret drawers’ because guests can’t find them.

Hidden Ikea drawer

Additionally there are two small spots where the paint has worn away due to the hardware we used to mount the handles. I’m not sure if we were supposed to countersink the screw holes on the back, but we didn’t so they stick out a bit and rub against the smaller drawer.

Screws sticking out back

The lighting

For the most part I am very happy with the lighting choices we made in the kitchen, especially having the recessed lighting put in over the counter area. Having a well lit work area is essential. The only thing I don’t love is the Ikea ANSULT undercabinet lighting, which is pretty poorly made. If I were to do it again I’d get my cabinet lighting from someone else.

Overall we’re still really happy with the kitchen, and I’d use Ikea again. In fact I am using Ikea again in our rental remodel.

The glass subway tile backsplash looks amazing, but it was a huge pain to install and they were expensive. I’m not sure whether I’d do it again, I’d have to really love the project.

I still absolutely love the quartz countertops and while they were out of budget for the rental, I would use them again in a heartbeat.


Ikea lamp
1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

A Tour de Light at the Shore House

Shopping for fixtures in the 100 year old house I’m renovating got me thinking about the lighting we chose for the shore house. When we started working on the house I hadn’t put any thought into lighting. It was only when I had an electrician over to disconnect the old lighting that I realized we were going to want more than just a flushmount fixture in the middle of the room.

I mean, it's not the worst.

The first thing we did was put in recessed lighting. Retrofitting can lights into the ceiling makes a mess of the drywall, and if I was going to do it again I would just rip out all the drywall and put up fresh sheetrock. It would have saved both the electrician and the painter a ton of time and been cheaper in the long run.

Ikea kitchen with recessed lighting

For the island I went with simple mini pendant lights from Lowes.

Pendant lights for island

I also installed Ikea ANSULTA undercabinet lighting, which honestly I can’t recommend. We’ve have problems with the transformers humming very loudly, and every time the power goes out they get de-sync’d from the wireless power switch and I have to climb up on a ladder to re-sync them  (the transformers are in the cabinet above the microwave). It’s a pain in the ass and we’ve really just stopped using them.

Finished kitchen with lights on

In the living room we have 4 more recessed lights and this table lamp. This lamp is special because it has an LIFX wifi multicolor bulb in it. The bulb is set up to change colors when my in-laws next door press a button to let us know they’re awake.

Table lamp from Target

Moving on to the bathroom, the vanity has both recessed lights and side lights. I may have gone a little nuts on lighting in there. The side lights, Livex Lighting Aero 2 vanity lights, each take two bulbs.

Vanity Lighting

There are actually TWO OTHER light fixtures in the bathroom: a recessed light in the shower and this combination light and exhaust fan in the middle of the room. You could do surgery in this bathroom it’s so well lit.

Bathroom fan and light

The last light I have to show off is a fun Ikea lamp we got for my daughter’s room. The white thing next to it is a noise machine, which I consider an absolutely essential item in a house that sleeps up to 14 people.

Ikea lamp

There are still a bunch of flushmount fixtures I’d like to replace some day, but right now I’m sort of OD’d on looking at lights so it will have to wait. I’m having trouble finding anything I really like; the ceilings upstairs are only 7 feet high and most of the low profile flush mount fixtures are no less ugly than what we’ve got in there now.

If you come across any nice looking low-profile flush mount lights be sure to let me know!

DIY and Decor, Exercise, Home Improvement

Cheap Ikea cycling desk

I picked up a bicycle trainer off Craigslist, a Century Fluid trainer someone else was offloading, and have been enjoying using it for workouts post-baby. It does get boring though, so I built a table that fits over it to hold my laptop.

2016-02-16 14.01.23

The table had a few non-negotiable requirements:

  • It needed to be sturdy enough to hold my laptop (easy)
  • It needed to be adjustable vertically so I could either lower it for a real workout or raise it and type on my laptop for some pedaling-while-working
  • It needed to be easily removable
  • It needed to be cheap

I ended up finding the parts I needed in the Ikea IVAR system. I used two 20″ wide by 48″ high sides, one 20″x35″ shelf, and an X bracket to give the whole thing stability.

Bike in "typing" mode
Bike in “typing” mode

The total including tax was under $45.

I pull the table up over the handle bars if I want to type on my laptop, and push it back so it’s more over the front wheel if I want to get an actual workout in. My only complaint is that the seat I have isn’t very comfortable when sitting upright and typing. I may pick up a gel cover to give my butt a break.

2016-02-16 14.00.11



Office Tidying Status Update

I’m now about a month into the process of tidying everything. I’ve lost count of the number of car loads and trash bags full of stuff I’ve removed from my life. So far I only have 2 items I regret parting with, and neither of them are expensive or irreplaceable. So I’m doing good there. And as of this afternoon you can see the top of my desk!


Not only that but my closet has WAY MORE space. I expect that over time I’ll move a bunch of the stuff that’s out in the office into the closet.

Before, there was so much stuff on the floor that the door could only open partially. There wasn’t anywhere to store the step ladder so it just sort of hung out. Now everything is off the floor, the fabric has been moved into a new drawer set, and there’s a spot for the ladder just to the left of the drawers. My fabric cutting board, which had previously laid around in my office making it look messy, now hangs on the wall next to the fabric.

There’s still work to do in the closet, I have 3 more categories of craft stuff to go through, but it’s a vast improvement from what it was.

My desk is now clear, there’s no more piles of crap on top of my book shelf, I’ve moved my file cabinet near my desk so maybe I will actually file something someday, and the shelves themselves are slightly better organized. I actually took a lot OUT of the shelves, but then put things back in from other places. In the interest of full disclosure, that blue cart is still there you just can’t see it in the 2nd shot.

The “before” photo is a little misleading, I took it right after I cleaned my office. Which I do maybe twice a year. Here’s a more honest photo of what my office usually looked like:


I’ve managed to create a little island of clean. The rest of the room is still in progress. I can’t stress how exhausting it is to go through all this stuff, the full KonMari treatment is definitely not a weekend project. I reached a point where I need to focus on some other areas/categories, because I’ve got piles of stuff that don’t belong in this room but there isn’t room for them in the places they do belong. We have two big closets downstairs which hold stuff my husband and I will need to tackle together.

Here’s what the rest of the room is looking like these days. Piles of to-be-sorted stuff in an otherwise bare room. That’s because once Baby #2 is born the plan for this room is to move the guest bed in here. Evacuating that half of the room is a long term project of mine.

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New Construction Townhome, Organization

You Have to Clean Before You Can Tidy

My closet is now officially tidied (or KonMari’d, if you want to turn the method into a verb)! It doesn’t look drastically different, especially because the most dramatic change is in the drawers, but it  feels so much better in there. No more piles of t-shirts on the top shelf, no more collections of crap on the floor under the hanging clothes. No more pile of clothing I haven’t put away! Everything is where it belongs! Of course I’ll have to go through it again in 6 months once I’m back to my pre-pregnancy self and can wear normal clothes again, but even what I’ve done so far is a huge improvement.

Next up is the hobby category. I talked about strategies for tidying hobby supplies in my last post, and sat down to tackle a new one today. Except my office is a mess (which is what inspired this whole thing in the first place). I realized that there’s a certain catch-22: you need to have a clear space to work in order to tidy effectively, but the reason I have no clear space is that I need to tidy! I spent about 20 minutes putting things away, throwing out trash, and doing the sort of clean-up I might do before company comes over. I didn’t worry too much about exactly where stuff went, I just tried to lump like items together and get the floor to a place where I could vacuum.

This brought me to tidying step 0: a vaguely clean office.

Clean enough to vacuum but still pretty cluttered
Clean enough to vacuum but still pretty cluttered

Then I tackled my electronics, which didn’t have a ton of stuff in it but was still challenging. I relocated a lot of random cables to the basement (where we have storage bins with various computer parts) and got rid of some very old mostly broken hardware.

Next on the agenda was the linen closet. I hadn’t intended to tidy it, but when I went to put fresh sheets on the guest bed and realized I had no idea where the queen sheets were. There are queens, doubles, twins, and Twin XL in there and I can’t remember which is which.

Sooo anyone know where the queen sheets are?
Sooo anyone know where the queen sheets are?

We store linens in 3 different closets, plus the “in use” linens which occupy the beds/bathrooms. I amassed all the sheets and blankets on the guest bed. Keep in mind this is just the “spares.” The guest bed sheets/comforter were in the wash, and the other 3 beds in the house (ours, our daughter’s, and the crib) all have sheets on them.

No joke, there is an ALF sleeping bag in there.
No joke, there is an ALF sleeping bag in there.

I pulled out anything that I felt was too gross for a guest to sleep on. I pulled out the Snuggie and some polar fleece throws (I hate polar fleece). Since some of these came with my husband when we moved in together I gave him right of first refusal for anything on the chopping block. He agreed with my assessments though.

Next I went through the towels. Not including the full sets hanging in the bathrooms we had 15 bath towels, 16 washcloths, 3 beach towels, 10 hand towels, and 5 bath mats. Once again I culled anything that wasn’t in good enough shape to offer a guest. I set aside a couple towel/washcloth sets to take down the shore along with a surplus duvet.

I didn’t quite hit my goal of fitting all the linens in one closet. We have a bunch of extra waterproof covers for furniture which are bulky but we’ll definitely need them when the baby shows up. I put the crib sheets back in my daughter’s closet, but everything else fit! I rolled the towels for easy grabbing, then folded the washcloths and stuck them on end in a shoe box to keep them from getting mixed up with the hand towels and beach towels.

I put labels in front of each stack of sheets indicating what size they are
I put labels in front of each stack of sheets indicating what size they are

This whole process is so much work but I really think it’s worth it. Just being able to easily grab a set of clean sheets is a huge improvement in my domestic life.


How I Tidy Craft Supplies and Hobby Stuff

One of the most daunting tasks in my quest to KonMari my house is dealing with my incredible collection of hobby stuff / supplies. I have a lot of hobbies, and many of them have a lot of stuff that goes with them. Some of this stuff has taken a lot of time/money to acquire, so I have to be smart with how I purge and sort it if I don’t want to be filled with regret down the line.

This is what my office looks like clean. No one has ever actually seen this.
This is what my office looks like clean, or at least it did as of a couple years ago. No one has ever actually seen this since then.

The first step in the process was evaluating how likely I was to ever take up a given hobby again. Then I had to compare that to how much stuff it required, and how hard that stuff was to obtain in the first place. Here are some examples:

  • Hand knitting. I do this regularly. My yarn stash takes up a ton of space and needs pruning, but otherwise I am perfectly OK with it taking up ~15 cubic feet of shelf space.
  • Machine knitting. I haven’t done this in a while but would love to get back into it when I have more time. It takes up a bunch of space, but the machines are rare. I also have multiple, and I think it’s time to prune the collection down to my one favorite machine (my Superba).
  • Reclaiming yarn from thrift store sweaters. Nice in theory, not really worth the time. Probably not gonna do it again. Should just pitch the half-unraveled sweaters. Easy to get more if I change my mind.
  • Photography. I go through phases of this every few years. Equipment is expensive, takes up little space. Definitely going to hold onto most if not all of it.
  • Embroidery. I do this occasionally, but I have a disproportionate large stash of threads and tools, none of which are rare or expensive. Need to cull it back to something reasonable.
  • Exercise. I do this regularly, but I’ve had my dad’s rowing machine for more than a year and have used it maybe twice. Time to return it and focus on weight training.
  • Jewelrymaking. It was really hard to admit this to myself, but I’m probably never going to seriously go back to jewelrymaking / metalsmithing. It requires space, time, and equipment that I’m not likely to dedicate myself to. I have a decent collection of tools, but they’re not really doing me any good locked away in the back of the closet waiting for “someday.”
  • Camping. I do this once or twice a year and plan to continue doing so in the future. The camping equipment definitely needs pruning though, some of it I’ve had since Girl Scouts and haven’t used since then.
  • Hydroponic gardening. I haven’t done this since my daughter was born but would like to in the future. The equipment is not cheap and took a while to accumulate as it’s mostly only available through mail order. So that stuff is largely staying.
  • Painting. Nope. Not gonna do it again. Goodbye, paints.

So that’s 3 hobbies totally out the door, and two or three more that are getting some serious downsizing. For each hobby category I’ll need to go through everything and determine what to do with it. Although Kondo suggests starting with easier categories and working up to hard ones I started with the hardest just to get it over with. I hauled out all of my metalsmithing tools and laid them out on the floor. Some of them are all around handy tools to keep around. Some of them are just too specialized to be good for much else. When I got to my favorite tools I stopped for a bit. I reconsidered. Surely I might need these again? Weren’t they very expensive? Maybe I should keep them…

I know I’m never going to need them again. I went online to see what they cost new. $50 each. Not inexpensive, but not out of the realm of replacing if somewhere down the line I do suddenly really need to form silver or copper into hemispherical shapes. But when I’m totally honest with myself I know that’s not going to happen. I took a deep breath and put them on the “go” pile.

Figuring out what to do with the stuff I’m unloading is also hard. A lot of it does still have use/value, but it’s not the sort of stuff that does well at a thrift store. It needs context. For the things that are more valuable I’m trying Craigslist. Some of the jewelry equipment I plan to donate to my university’s program. I ended up throwing out a lot of odds and ends that really aren’t likely to be useful to anyone, like Plexiglas forming dies I made in college.

Here's a panorama of my office in a more natural state.
Here’s a panorama of my office in a more natural state. Except I finally threw out the dead cactus in the window.

Having cleared the hurdle of my most loved tools, I’m looking forward to a few easy categories as a pallet cleanse. In general I prefer that to Kondo’s suggested order of increasing emotional difficulty. I like to do something hard and then go do one that’s brain dead and satisfying. Leona’s closet is great for this, she’s constantly wearing out and outgrowing clothing. I can feel quite accomplished just by throwing out all her pants with holes in the knees. Or I’ll go back through one of the giant boxes of baby clothes (many of which were hand-me-downs Leona never even wore) and cull it down to a reasonable size.

The good new is that despite being emotionally exhausting it really doesn’t take that long. I went through my tools in maybe half an hour, while I was taking a break from a frustrating problem at work. So far I’ve taken 5 bags full of stuff to the local thrift store, and I’ll probably have more to go by next week. Over time I get better at being honest with myself about whether or not I’ll actually use something again. Sometimes when I revisit categories I’ve already done I find a few more items to yank. Hopefully by the end of the year I’ll be surrounded by only stuff I need or enjoy, not clutter I resent.

New Construction Townhome, Organization

The Life-Changing Cult of Tidying Up

Are you interested in my quest for a less disastrous house? Check out my whole tidying archive of posts!

If you are a person who reads the internet, you have probably heard of Marie Kondo’s book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Perhaps you have even tried to read it. Most people who succeed in reading it join her KonMari tidying cult, but in all honesty it can be a challenge to get past the first few pages if you are turned off by the huge number of self-help cliches found in the beginning. I’m told that part of this is due to the book’s translation, and perhaps also some bad advice from an editor. Or very good advice, given the book’s position on the bestseller list. Suffice to say I found the beginning of the book a little grating but I’m glad I stuck with it.

The book contents can be divided into 3 categories: super useful advice about decluttering and organizing, somewhat repetitive stories about her childhood / clients, and advice that might be useful to some people but doesn’t seem to apply to any of the American yuppies I know. One example of the third is her assertion that you should carry all your coins as “no one actually cashes in their change jar.” Do they not have Coinstar in Japan? Because cashing out a change jar is an amazing treat whereas digging through my purse for a dime sucks.

Anyway, I’m reading the book and feeling inspired to clean (ok, I read the book because I was inspired to clean and felt overwhelmed by how much stuff I have). The book suggests starting with clothing because it’s the easiest, and I agree. I did my sock drawer first:


As you can see, I got rid of about half my socks. They were not in great shape. Many were threadbare at the heel or stretched out. Others were in OK shape but I had to ask myself “how many pairs of black athletic socks does one person need?” I decided the answer was not “10” and culled all but the heartiest. A couple pairs of socks were like-new but didn’t really go with my wardrobe, or were nearly identical to other socks I never wear. I’m still trying to figure out if I should donate them somewhere or just pitch them. I mean, does anyone actually want used socks? Probably not.

At first I struggled a lot with wastefulness, a feeling that nagged me while reading the book as well. Kondo talks a lot about discarding things, and as someone who is opposed to waste this was hard to accept. I rolled it around in my head for a few days and realized first: ‘discard’ does not mean I have to throw it in the trash, there are still plenty of responsible ways to pass something on for reuse. Second: I was already being wasteful the second I purchased that 6 pack of athletic socks, knowing full well I still had some at home (they were on sale!). Holding onto something indefinitely when you’ve already replaced it isn’t being responsible, it’s hoarding. Then I had a moment of “well I wear these socks when I run out of ones I like, what will I do now when I run out?” Um, wash them? Stop playing King of the Mountain with the hamper?

One of the most often cited ideas from the book is to only keep items which “spark joy.” I can immediately tell which critics haven’t actually read the book, because they make snide remarks about how something mundane-but-necessary fails to spark joy. Except even items we don’t actively like can spark joy. Maternity underwear does not spark joy directly, it’s pretty dowdy, but not having a wedgie 100% of the time is its own indirect joy.

Organized tank tops
Organized tank tops
Undies, sports bras, and pajamas
Sports bras, pajamas, and undies

After socks I moved on to underwear and tank tops. Next is T-shirts. Nice tops, jeans, and dresses will have to wait until I’m done being pregnant and my body returns to normal. It’s hard to consider purging items when you know your body is about to do some major shape shifting. Lucky for me there is really no shortage of other things I can tidy.

A lot of people who haven’t read the book decry the idea of having to get rid of all the “nonessential” stuff in their lives. That’s not what Kondo is suggesting at all. I have a huge yarn collection, and I assure you it brings me joy (though I still plan to go through each skein and get rid of any I know I’ll never use). Ditto for my fabric collection. There’s nothing wrong with having collections of things. The problem is having collections of things that aren’t actually making you happy.

Kondo talks a lot about the emotional reasons we hold onto things. To some people it seems really cold hearted, getting rid of items that may have been a gift. But I think it’s important to acknowledge the emotional toll of stuff we hang onto just because it was a gift. If anything, keeping something we don’t really want just because we feel obligated to strains our relationship with that person. You shouldn’t be an asshole about it, but ultimately there’s a limit to how much stuff we can hang onto. Some of it has to go sometimes. It doesn’t mean we love our friends less, or don’t appreciate their gifts.

For the record, if I have given you a hand knit item, and it it no longer suits you, please do not feel obligated to hang onto it if it no longer brings you joy. The joy for me was in the knitting and the giving, and hopefully for you in knowing I liked you enough to make you something. Whether you choose to use it going forward is really up to you.

Slowly, painfully, I’m learning to let go of stuff I’m keeping because I “might” use it. I have never, ever remembered to take a travel pillow with me to the airport; I definitely don’t need three. I am never actually going to read that book on Renaissance artwork, I don’t actually like Renaissance artwork. I don’t need to own any clothing that is too gross and old to wear outside the house. I need exactly one pair of painting pants and two painting shirts (I know from experience that after two days I will be sick of painting and go do something else). I will never actually turn those old T-shirts into a cool hipster crochet rug.

I am letting go of the ghosts of people I thought I wanted to be (but don’t) in order to make room for the person I actually want to be (someone who can see the top of her desk on more than a semi-annual basis). I’ve joined the cult, and even if this experiment is a total bust and my sock drawer is back to being a warzone in a week at least I managed to get rid of some baggage in the process.

DIY and Decor, New Construction Townhome, Organization

Oh, The Container Store

The other day we stopped by The Container Store to shop for trash cans.

Yes, I have reached the point of my life where I think a trash can is something you shop for.

While there I saw they are having a 25% off Elfa sale. We’re having another baby and I totally want to Elfa up another closet. It was a little tough to acknowledge that I’m already well over my home furnishings budget for the year. This is in fact A Year No Closets Will Be Organized. In previous years I did my office closet and the toddler’s closet.

If I’m being honest with myself, it’s not the closet that’s the problem. My office closet is in desperate need of purging crap. The toddler’s closet is in better shape but it still needs some attention. No amount of objects from The Container Store will save me from the fact that I am indeed a slob.

This Liz Lemon quote from 30 Rock spoke to me:

“I went to the new flagship Compartment Store on 5th Avenue and I’m going to get my life in order. There’s a stacking thing to separate your junk mail from your humidifier catalogs, a thing you stick on your laptop that  hold your keys, a round plastic deal that holds your shoes with a pocket for a photograph of what shoes are in there. I’m going to become wonderful. It’s a new beginning, like a phoenix rising…”

While shopping for a trash can I saw a variety of Other Objects that promised to make me less of a miserable disorganized slob. I am so disorganized I lost my to-do lists. That’s right. The first item on my new to-do list is to find my old ones. It was tempting to buy into the world of color coordinated stacking boxes. But I resisted. I looked at trash cans, didn’t see any I liked, and limited my purchases to a dish rack, laundry basket, and a festive collapsible ottoman. Ok so I went in for a trash can and came out with $150 worth of totally unrelated other things, which is definitely not winning. BUT AT LEAST I DIDN’T BUY A CLOSET, RIGHT? Also did you know that SimpleHuman makes an $80 dish rack? We went with the cheap bamboo one, but the SimpleHuman dish rack has 337 reviews and 4.5 stars. I’m curious what dish rack bliss feels like, but not $80 curious.

Oh like you could resist this.
Oh like you could resist this.

Anyway, I didn’t find a trash can I liked. I wanted one that had recycling and trash together, but all the ones that looked nice took special liners I’m not willing to pay for. So we got a normal step trashcan and I’m just gonna stick a blue bin in the laundry room.

And while we’re on the topic of mundane stuff, these are hands down the best dish mats:


You can find them on Amazon in a variety of patterns, and they’re super great.

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

Downstairs Bedrooms Before and After

Now that summer is over and I have to bunker down and focus on other things, there won’t be as many dramatic progress photos of the house. When it’s all done I want to go back in with a nice wide angle lens and take good photos, but for now here are some quick before and after shots of the downstairs bedrooms so you can see how far the house has come.

The Small Bedroom aka “Playroom”

This room was being used for storage when we toured the house. We replaced the flooring, added a big rug, removed the chair rail, and painted the walls. Toys and games will be stored in here, and the daybed pulls out into a double in the event we have so many guests that our 3 year old gets demoted to an airbed.

Playroom Before
Playroom Before – Used for Storage
Playroom After
Playroom After – Sleeping and playing. Bed is from Ikea, rug is from Wayfair, curtains are from Lowes, dinosaur sheets are from Target, lamp is from Target, and the walls are SW6700 “Daybreak”


Master Bedroom

We replaced the floor, changed the curtains, and moved the bed to another wall so that the “sitting area” is now right when you walk in.

Before the bed was the first thing you ran into when you entered the room
Before the bed was the first thing you ran into when you entered the room
Now the bed is against another wall and there is a chair (not visible) in the entryway
Now the bed is against another wall and there is a chair (not visible) in the entryway. Curtains are from Ikea, rug and bed are both from Wayfair, lamp, bedbpread, sheets, and nightstand are all from Target. Walls are Sherwin Williams “Watery”

I’m really hoping that I can get the backsplash finished sometime over the next few weeks, since the kitchen has the most dramatic change, but we’ll see if that’s realistic now that our weekends are booked solid with other obligations.

1970s Shore Home, DIY and Decor

A million last-minute to-dos for Labor Day

We’re having our first guests stay at the beach house… just in time for the end of summer! This meant my husband and I spent a lot of yesterday running around desperately trying to get the house clean and ready for people to stay over.

In the morning, Chris took an entire Honda Fit’s worth of cardboard to the recycling center. Around 3pm we ran out for a Massive Emergency Trip to Target and Home Depot. This was an emergency because we desperately wanted to buy everything and get home before the Friday night shore traffic set in. We ran around like madmen getting all the last minute odds and ends we needed. Somehow despite going in with a list and a strict “get what we need and get out of there” attitude we came home with two additional chairs. My husband had been eyeing them up for about a month and they were on clearance.

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My daughter needed to give up “her” room for guests, so we let her pick out some linens so the little room she was staying in would still feel like hers. She went with dinosaurs (I was pulling for the truck sheets but got overruled).

Camping out on the floor
Camping out on the floor

The biggest task was tackling some plumbing issues in the bathrooms. The upstairs shower didn’t have enough water pressure to trigger the tankless hot water heater when it was in use, leading to unpleasant cold showers, but the sink worked fine. The culprit was a gunked up cartridge in the handle. We were too busy to take any photos of the process but this YouTube video explains it pretty well if you’re curious:

Once we got the cartridge out we brought it with us to the store and picked up a replacement for about $15. Installing the new cartridge was pretty straightforward. We went from getting ~0.4 GPM of flow through the shower head to 1.6 GPM (as reported by the hot water heater).

The downstairs bathroom was supposed to be a straightforward replacement of the shower head. Unfortunately when I pulled the old head off I found it had a ball stem instead of the threaded stem the new head attaches to. So what was supposed to be a 10 minute project ended up with another trip to the hardware store to get a new shower stem. It took a little bit of force to get the old stem out but other than that it was simple to replace.

Of course when I opened up the box to the new shower head and it was broken. Since we had just returned from the store I had absolutely no interest in going back. By some odd coincidence my in-laws next door had a spare shower head they weren’t using (???) so we grabbed that and now we have two working showers!

With all the construction a bunch of the outlet faceplate screws have gone missing (yes, I know you’re supposed to keep them with the outlet so that doesn’t happen, no I did not do that) so I got a box of those, as well as a box of longer screws for the outlets in the kitchen need now that the backsplash bumps them out another 1/4″. The kitchen isn’t done, but we do have the essentials ready now. Oven, dishwasher, fridge, and most importantly: coffee maker.

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We don’t have a TV in the living room but Chris aimed a projector at the wall and brought his Wii U down. The couch in there is one Chris has had since before we got together, but it’s still in good shape despite many years of abuse from cats. So there’s somewhere comfortable to plop down and watch It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (or kids shows, I guess).

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We hung curtains in the bedrooms, did a ridiculous amount of laundry, scrubbed both bathrooms, vacuumed the hell out of everything, and managed to get the house to a place where we don’t have to apologize for its appearance. We’re in the home stretch now. I still have one major project (finishing the backsplash) and a lot of little fit and finish things (caulking the tile to the countertop, installing toekicks in the kitchen, etc). But I’m done with contractors (!!!) and after today’s Ikea delivery we’ll have beds in every bedroom. On Sunday I’m hoping to take a bunch of pictures of the house now that it’s free of construction debris.

We’re so close! It’s finally happening! Just in time for summer to be over!