10 years ago today we moved into this house – a house that Steve could not see my vision on and yet he trusted me. (We were getting slightly desperate as we’d put offers on so many houses before this)
In ways I see how far we’ve come and then there’s other aspects that I’m wondering how in the world we made it 10 years without fixing or addressing. The nice thing about living in a long-term house is you know you have time and we really have taken our time. We have had some major projects over the years and never failing, we would burn out afterwards. Renovations are not for the faint of heart and the older we get and the older our kids get, the harder remodeling has been. Just ask my kids about their bathroom that has been under construction since it flooded earlier this year! 🙂 We’re taking baby steps.
This is where we started – a short sale property in the 2011 low point in real estate.
We quickly removed all the gingerbread which made a big difference, but we still had 7 orange trees in our front yard.
This is the most recent photo I have of the outside and even it’s a little outdated because it was two years ago and our trees have grown significantly. But this is where we’re at.
When we first walked in, I immediately knew what I wanted with this space in opening the wall to the kitchen – perhaps create a half wall with a counter top. But we couldn’t tackle anything major right away and it was actually good for us to live in it for a while before making any major changes. There were things I would have done right away that I would have later regretted. Years after living in the space I realized I didn’t want a half wall in that space – I wanted the wall gone all together to give us more living space. It’s funny to see how my ideas have changed over the years.
We replaced the mauve carpet within a year and a half of moving and then we just hung tight for several years.
Almost seven years after we moved in, we started our largest remodel to date and we took a section of our house down to the studs and then decided to move walls while we were at it. 🙂 It doesn’t even feel like the house from 10 years ago.
Here’s move-in day. A great shot of the orange oak staircase and mauve carpet.
This is what it looked like the day before we started our kitchen remodel
The original owners loved tan and gold. Years from now someone will look at my pictures and say wow she really liked gray!
Eventually I’ll make it through the whole house with before and after photos – today it’s just our main living area and kitchen, the heart of our home. One of my favorite things about remodels is seeing just how much a space has changed and this house has some serious stories to tell.
It was a house for the first three years and it’s been a home to us ever since. Here’s to another 10!
I usually don’t start my projects by saying, “Wow, I would really love to build an end table!” No, instead, I usually buy three or four end tables and realize nothing quite fits the space like I was hoping. Then I put it off for another 6 months convincing myself that I’ll find something the right size. In the end, I break down and build it myself to the exact specifications that I was convinced I would find somewhere else.
I often build out of necessity. Things are too expensive, items are made poorly from cheap materials, the lead time is too long, it’s not the right color and or not the right size. So I build. I waited for almost two years to build this table and I shouldn’t have put it off for so long.
I purchased 4/2 white oak, so it’s nice and thick and heavy. I glued pieces together for the width I wanted my tabletop to be and traced a large circle. I originally thought I was going to cut this with a jig saw, but I thought better of it and used a router with a circular jig. This proved to be problematic as the wood was so thick and I had to make multiple passes around the circle. The bit kept having issues and getting stuck and then falling out of the router all together, gouging the wood in the process. I think I needed to take smaller passes each time I went around the circle.
It wasn’t a pretty process, but I eventually had a decent circle!
I spent a lot of time on the computer figuring out the angles I needed for my legs so my table would be a certain height (one of the major reasons for building my own table). I wasn’t overly confident I had figured it out when I started cutting but I had spent far too long drawing it out, I just needed to move forward and see if it worked. By some miracle, all the measurements and angles were accurate. Essentially I built an X and then built two 1/2 X’s to join to the X.
Stain is always tricky for me – I love some of the finishes you see in commercial pieces and I find it hard to replicate those. I loved the grain of the white oak, and I wanted to accentuate it, so I used Verathane White wash on a freshly sanded surface. Once it was dry, I sanded all the surfaces again and wiped clean. This left the wood ready for stain (a mix of weathered oak and classic gray), with white embedded in the grain.
I attached the 1/2 X’s to the solid X. This is one of those steps that I wasn’t sure how to do and so I just jumped in and quickly realized I hadn’t thought it all the way through. I ended up using glue and a screw through the 1/2 X and into the large X. I then attached the tabletop with screws (through the legs into the top) and I just about did a happy dance when I realized the table was solid and wasn’t rocking! 🙂
I used wipe on poly to finish it off. I love Rustoleum wipe on poly in satin. Home depot used to sell it, but now I can only find it at Lowes. Unlike brush poly, wipe on is forgivable. It’s doesn’t leave strokes and it dries even. It has a short re-coat time, but you do have to put a lot more coats on. Every couple coats you’re supposed to sand in-between coats. And I typically do my final coats using a wet sand paper. Its as if you’re using the wet sand paper as your rag to apply. It leaves a smooth flawless finish.
And there she sits. She is heavy, solid oak…and beautiful.
I’ve been working on the bathroom and laundry room (the project that never ends) and it often becomes the topic of conversation with people I know personally, as they’re asking for updates and what I’m working on next. I was recently talking with someone and they said the phrase that I’ve heard SO. MANY. TIMES.
“You’re so talented, I just wish I could do that.”
I chuckle because talent often gets confused with hard work and drive. It’s not as if I was a wood working prodigy that was destined for greatness.
In fact, I was just going through a box that my mom had given me and inside was a little wall hanging I made when I was 14 years and had given to my grandma for Christmas. It hung on her kitchen wall for 20 years until her passing.
I present one of my first wood projects.
My grandma obviously loved my mad skills and kept this on display long after it’s expiration date. She was never able to witness any of my projects first hand but if she had, I’m sure she would have seen an improvement from my early gift giving years.
Not to mention my fantastic bubble-end handwriting! I nailed it. It does not go unnoticed that my 14-year-old handwriting and my daughter’s 14-year-old handwriting are vastly different!
Hard work and determination got me from a fantastic wall hanging to laundry and bathroom cabinets. I tell most people, anyone can do this if they really want to. They just need a dash of crazy to get them started.
Luckily this picture is older and I’m a little further along. At this rate, I’ll be done by fall.
I just sent my dad back on a plane to go home after a long week of helping me out with the laundry room and bathroom that were flooded back at the beginning of January.
Project week was a smashing success and I’m pretty sure I wore my dad out! We had some long days and late nights and we both just kept going. I’m wondering if any neighbors noticed a saw in the garage that was running at midnight last night!
The only problem with project week (aside from utter exhaustion) is the projects are never contained in the spaces we’re working on. No – they bleed to every inch of the house. It was not unusual this week so see something like this in the kitchen:
Cabinet boxes, cabinet doors, drawer boxes, paint, screws, tools, leftover breakfast – you name a tool in my garage and chances are at one point it was in the kitchen this week. Not to mention the thick layer of dust covering everything in the house. When I’m working on a major project, you can guarantee the rest of the house is in shambles – I don’t know how to do it any other way!
I maximize the time when my dad is here helping and I figure and I can clean and put the house back together after he’s gone. So now you know what I’m doing for the rest of the week!
I saw quote this week that I couldn’t relate with more right now. “A big project is just a lot of little projects.”
I needed to hear that this week.
We waited for almost 6 weeks for insurance to help us out on our bathroom/laundry flood and we’re now moving into the rebuilding phase. The problem is, once everything was ripped out I had a hard time buying into the idea of putting our 30 year-old cabinets back in the space. We were getting new floors. New drywall and paint. New shower. I couldn’t put a bandaid on the room and put the old cabinets back in when we were eventually going to replace them anyway.
Anyone remodeling right now knows the costs are high and the timelines are extensive. So I came up with what I thought was a reasonable solution at the time: I would build all the cabinet boxes myself. It seemed like a good idea and now that I’m actually knee deep in the project I’m second guessing that idea!! 🙂
I have 17 cabinet boxes I need to build. (Some of them are heavy enough I can’t even carry them by myself.) The project quickly became overwhelming. So I’m breaking it down to a lot of little projects. Drill the pocket holes on 5 boxes. Attach edge banding on three boxes. Assemble one box. The project that has taken over the garage is a lot to handle. But I’m slowly tackling little tasks – I suppose it seems less overwhelming when it’s viewed as a million small projects!
Right before summer I finally got the ceiling back on the patio – after we had ripped it off for water damage a year and a half prior. I got as far as priming it before the heat was unbearable and I put the project on hold.
After rolling a single coat of primer on the ceiling, (and my shoulders aching) I realized this job would be easier if I sprayed it. If I’m being honest – spraying is one of my least favorite activities – so I put if off for as long as possible. But as much as I hate spraying, I also hate projects looming over me. It was time to get it behind me
Last weekend I taped everything off and got to work. I thought spraying would be easier on my shoulders, but holding it above my head was equally as taxing, but it did go much faster.
I chose the perfect overcast day to work on this project but I couldn’t finish fast enough. I sent Steve on an errand to grab another gallon of paint (I always underestimate how much paint is used when spraying) and by the time he returned, a large wind storm was moving in and my plastic was starting to fall down. I worked quickly and skipped the area where the plastic was falling down and within 5 minutes I had all the plastic torn down (which is discouraging when it took 3 hours to tape it off originally).
Is it finished. Nope. But I am one step closer and that is a little victory!