Moving On Up!

Okay y’all! We sold the house! Our new house is just like this house! Except +1,200 sq ft, +1 bedroom, +1.5 baths, +1 office, +1 dining room, -50 years in age, -1 shop, +3 car garage, and -1 black racer snake named Myran living in the crawl space. We’re excited to have space, closets, things that work, closets, level floors, CLOSETS, etc.

But before we close this chapter and hand over the keys, I thought I’d take a moment to wrap things up here. For the past two years there has been a little voice in the back of my mind. It’s been yelling at me for being a blog quitter! As I walk around the house turning off lights for what will probably be the last time, I’m feeling a bit nostalgic and figure the LEAST I could do is make a quick final walk-through video.

It may take me a while but I always make sure I finish what I start. So if for nothing else than to mollify my own neurosis, this video will be my period on this well-meaning yet ultimately, desultory, blog :).

If you missed the “intro” video I posted three years ago from closing day, or you just want a good laugh, you can find the original video by clicking on “Tour” on the menu.

New blog coming soon(-ish)…. probably… stay tuned folks!



Much Better!

So I figured out what it was about the cabinets that was bothering me (as least, one of the things). I felt like the shelves still looked like cabinets without doors, rather than shelves. So we went to Lowes and picked up some thin strips of wood (2×1’s maybe?), and Mike–being the most awesome woodworker that he is–cut and installed a piece of wood in front of each shelf. 016_USED

The tricky part was though, the wood wasn’t exactly as wide as the existing posts of the cabinets. I didn’t want to leave a gap for a few reasons, dust, spiders, etc. But also, there wouldn’t really be a way to attach the wood to the shelves and still keep each piece flush with the front of the cabinet. So Mike cut super thin strips of wood to install behind each piece, to fit the gaps.003_USED

I then went in and sanded and filled the nail holes and seams with wood putty. I also caulked the cracks in the corners and shelves. I still need to finish this though, I should have done all of it then because now it’s months later and every day it get’s pushed lower and lower down the list 🙂 It needs to be done, its just very time-consuming! But I really don’t want spiders laying eggs in cracks in my cabinets (we have brown recluses by the way– I’m sure I’ll discuss this in a later post), plus cracks anywhere in the kitchen are just begging for dust and crumbs! So I must do it soon. 021_USED023_USED

We also had a wonky shelf–the bottom shelf on the far left. We actually did this before Mom and I even painted the inside, but I think I forgot to post about it. Evan removed the shelf and moved the brackets so they were actually level with the other shelf. This is where we solved another issue. As someone who thoroughly appreciates symmetry and balance, the back wall of cabinets were my worst nightmare. Since the actual bank of cabinets was symmetrical but they were installed with the right side of the cabinet attached to the left wall of the kitchen, they became A-symmetrical.  While there wasn’t anything we could do to make them actually symmetrical again, I decided the next best thing would be to make it look at least a little more intentional. So I had Evan cut the shelf so it only went into one opening, rather than across the two.

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And then right away I primed and painted! In other words, I didn’t get back to it for about a month. 🙂 I don’t seem to have a picture of them painted without stuff in it though, not sure why I didn’t take one.

I had to wait at least 30 days to start putting stuff away (this was a painfully long time). Apparently this is how long it takes for latex pain to cure. You know it’s ready by sticking your fingernail in the paint, and if it doesn’t leave a mark it’s ready. It’s really not worth putting stuff away too soon just to ding up the paint and have your stuff stick to it (which I have since done in the laundry room and I’m still kicking myself for it!). So here’s a picture when I first started putting stuff away. I have since moved pretty much everything you see so I’m really just posting this to see the shelves done.

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I’m Here! I’m Here!


I have neglected my simple blog for long enough! Also, I have neglected my little house. I have come to the realization that I am a WWW. That’s a Warm-Weather-Worker for those of y’all that aren’t familiar. And yes, I made that up. What I mean is, winter makes me lazy. Can you blame laziness on cold air? I think so. I read it on the internet once.

Now I’m not saying I haven’t been working, I’ve done a lot since I last updated the blog, more than I probably realize myself. But between trips, the holidays, and sadly the loss of loved ones, real life has slowed progress tremendously. And there is something decidedly difficult about motivating yourself when it’s dark outside before you even leave work, and when windows can’t be opened to air out paint, and when you’re snowed in and can’t get to lowes! …okay, so maybe that only happened that one time for about two hours before the sun came out and melted everything…this is Alabama after all. But I think I’ve made my point. Now, it’s back in gear! I can finally open the windows again (er, have to, since the HVAC is broken..more on that later). Time for some spring cleaning, the final big painting projects, and ESPECIALLY some outdoor projects; I can hear a collective sign of resignation from all the neighbours as we pass the one-year mark of moving in and we STILL have not done anything to spruce up the yard.

Stick with me America, we’re going back to work!

The Great Wall of Cabinets, Part I

I was not intimidated by painting the kitchen cabinets. I was intimidated by picking a color! The main reason I wanted to paint the cabinets was because when you walk in the kitchen it’s an overwhelming amount of wood, I wasn’t trying to turn that into an overwhelming amount of blue instead. So needless to say, it took a while to pick a color. And now that it’s painted, I have to be completely honest, I’m not totally in love with the color. But I am definitely happy it’s not the wall of yellow oak it once was! We got to the point we’re at now over a 2 month time period, doing it right takes a long time. Also, there’s a lot of waiting involved in painting cabinet so you’ve gotta pack your patience. It helps to set up a good system to store kitchen stuff so you can still cook (or, make sure you have an arsenal of friends and family close by to feed you while you’re kitchen-less). While the cabinet boxes and insides are done, we are not completely finished because we have decided to make our own doors. So this post is strictly painting information. Now without further ado…

Step 1: Cabinet Door Removal

This process went pretty slow at first because Evan hid the power tools from me (just kidding, they were in the shop and I do NOT go into that shop when the weather is warm–bees, spiders, and snakes! oh my), so I was unscrewing the hinges by hand. Not difficult, just time-consuming.


When Evan got home and got me the drill, it took about an hour to get the rest of the the doors off. Here are some of them (yes, just some).


Yes, that is an ironing board in the kitchen. I may or may not be using it as a table. Remodeling demands comprise!

Step 2: Cleaning

I was dreading cleaning these cabinets because number 1, it sounded tedious and boring, and number 2, it sounded tedious and boring. But in reality it wasn’t that bad and since it’s pretty much a requirement of painting cabinets, we got to work. My trusty assistant (Mom!) came to help me. We used TSP (which seems to be the standard in pre-painting cabinet cleaner) and as much as I wanted the cabinets to look miraculously cleaner and brand new and maybe come out looking like completely different cabinets…no such luck. They did look a little bit cleaner, but I’m pretty sure that unless you were the one who did the cleaning, you probably wouldn’t notice.


I like this picture because the light reflecting off the cabinet makes them really shine!

So anyway. Cabinets clean. Wait about a month.


“Seriously?” -Nova

Yeah seriously. So a month later I get my act together and move on to Step 3.

Step 3: Wood Filler & Sanding

Wood filler smells funny. Which kinda explains why when I woke up the next day and the hot water heater had exploded, I thought the smell was just the wood putty drying. But more on that later. All the screw holes from the hinges needed to be filled because I’m replacing the exterior hinges with the kind that are inside the cabinet.


Those ceilings though.

Mom and I then got to work sanding. I read a lot of information about painting cabinets and the required prep work and found two basic school’s of thought. The first being what I’ll call “The This Old House Kind of Technical” School, which, if you’ve ever seen an episode of This Old House, you can imagine what this is like–probably overkill for cabinets that in reality should really just be replaced. The other school of thought is more of a “Fake if Till you Make It.” Obviously, I am a fan of the latter. So we lightly sanded with a 120 grit sandpaper to rough up the surface. We then vacuumed up the dust and used a spray cleaner and tacky cloth to get the rest of the dust.


When that was done, off we went to Lowes to get the paint!

Step 4: Prime

Ta-da! Doesn’t that look better already?!


I can’t exactly remember our logic on painting the outside first, I would recommend to others painting the inside first because, while you want it all to be perfect, it’s not as big a deal getting a little bit of blue paint on the inside as it is to get a little bit of white paint on the outside! But anyway, priming was easy but ugly. Most paints today are paint + primer, so when you put on that first coat, it looks pretty much painted. Primer is ugly. It doesn’t cover consistently, and it smells. But it’s going to work a lot better than paint + primer on never before painted surfaces, especially unsealed wood. The inside of the cabinets are wide planks of untreated wood which would just suck up the paint. And 2 in 1 paint won’t stick to the glossy surface of the cabinet fronts as well as primer will. Plus, it’s cheaper than paint (yay!). On word!

Step 5: Paint (Outside of Cabinets)

Mom’s really good at pushing me to get stuff done when I start to get lazy. I think her strategy is to just not give me time to think about it, just gotta keep moving! So everything from Step 3 through Step 5 happened in one day! She’s a very good assistant and I’m lucky to have her help!

Just a quick side note, if you’re wondering where Evan is. He’s not the painting type. He does a lot of projects around the house that I hate doing or can’t do (plumbing, gutter cleaning, repairs, electrical, wall removal(!), etc), while I do these kinds of projects (painting, popcorn removal, unpacking (still), decorating (not yet), etc). And we are very lucky in that our parents live close by and help us out, we appreciate the help more than you know! We’ve got a great team 🙂

I’m still working on getting Evan to write some posts for the blog about his projects, once I get caught up I’ll be sure to get some on here. For instance, Evan and Mike are planning some things for the shop as soon as the weather warms up (no heat out there yet!), we’re all very excited for that!

But back to the painting! The color I ended up choose is a Mona Lisa. Every place I have painted a sample of this color it has looked completely different! From purple to gray to dark blue to light blue. It’s the most variable color I have ever seen. I user Valspar Ulta Semi-Gloss, Autumn Fog 4007-1B. I’m not sure if I had a good reason for using Valspar Ultra over Reserve (top tier Valspar paint), or ever Signature (middle tier), besides the fact that Ulta (which is the bottom tier of Valspar but still very good paint), is about half the price. It looks great, I just wonder if the Reserve would have looked better. But oh well!

Valspar Autumn Fog 4007-1B

I do really like it, but it’s definitely a brighter blue than I thought it was going to be. Sometimes it’s hard to add color to a large amount of space so I think a good way to do that is to do it on accident!

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Step 6: Paint (Inside of Cabinets)

The next weekend we worked on the inside of the cabinets. Obviously, this took a lot longer than the outside because there’s a lot more surface area and cutting in to do. Plus, the corners of the cabinets are pretty tight to get into –you practically have to army crawl halfway into the cabinet to get it painted. If you’ve ever painted, or even gotten wet, old unfinished wood, then you know what I’m talking about when I say that it smells really bad! It’s like a musty, old basement kind of smell. Not very pleasant to climb into. But we prevailed!

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The inside of the cabinets got two coats of Valspar Ulta Semi-Gloss, Ultra White. Then, something unexpected happened…

I decided that I’m going to leave off the doors on the back wall of cabinets. The very top row will get new glass doors, but the bottom will remain open shelves. So I painted the back of those cabinets in Valspar Ulta Semi-Gloss in Almost Charcoal 4008-2B.

Almost Charcoal_Back of Kitchen Cabinets

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I think it turned out pretty good. But I still felt like something wasn’t quite right with these, that they still looked like cabinets with the doors taken off, rather than shelves. So off to Lowes again!

More coming soon!

Painting the Kitchen

Picking the paint color for the kitchen has been the 2nd hardest color to pick under the kitchen cabinets. I decided the at the walls of the kitchen needed to be painted before the cabinets. I figured if I got cabinet paint on the walls, no biggie, if I got wall paint on the cabinets, then I would probably be a little more ticked at myself. At the end of the day, it didn’t matter because (spoiler alert, I’ve already painted the cabinets–remember I’m updating this from the future), I’ve decided I don’t like the kitchen color with the kitchen cabinet color. Since the walls need a second coat anyway, I’m going to change the color slightly. BUT, I decided to post these pictures anyway because I don’t know when I’m going to get around to re-painting the kitchen.

Of course the first thing we did was prep. We got as much of the dust off the ceiling and walls as we could. Then we cleaned all that dust of the counter and floor. I didn’t waste any time with tape because I have learned the ways of creating a straight edge with my short handled, stiff, angled brush. Really with enough practice anyone can do this, it’s not always going to be perfect but it’s gonna look just as good, if not better, than it is with tape as long as you take your time and pay attention.

From iPhone 011_USED

First, of course, the ceiling needed to be painted. The kitchen is almost as big as the living room but it wasn’t as bad to paint because there was a lot more cutting in (when I cut in I paint about 4 inches out from the wall so it reduces the square footage to be painted by a good bit by the end), but also because Evan came home from work while I was painting and did about half of ceiling for me! Yay Evan!

It’s pretty amazing what paint can do, the ceiling got really discolored from taking down the popcorn, it looked like 12 heavy smokers were sitting in the kitchen for a month smoking away to achieve this look.

We had a lot of the same problems with the paint coming off the ceiling where it was too dusty, but not as bad as the living room was. And, like the rest of the house, it will need another coat. But for now it’s a vast improvement.

From iPhone 012_USED

Next, we (my wonderful Mother and I) were ready to paint the walls! Mom had been painting the baseboards and trim as I had been working on the ceiling. So they already had the primer and first coat of paint on them. So at this point I do the caulking. I liked waiting till this point because it’s a lot easier to see where the caulk needs to go after the white paint is on, the cracks stand out more. Caulk is amazing. Don’t believe me? Check out THIS before and after:

From iPhone 002_USEDFrom iPhone 006_USED

So anyway, after all that was done, we put another coat of white paint on the baseboards and were off to Lowes to pick up the paint. I still wasn’t 100% sure on the color at this point. I had two samples of basically WHITE paint on the wall, but as I’ve learned in the past, you can never trust a paint sample. I wanted white because of the amount of color I was going to add to the room on the cabinets. But I didn’t want the Ulta white that was on the ceiling and baseboards. When we first started I liked it. And I still like it. But to me, it’s green, and when you’re looking for white but end up with green…it’s conflicting 🙂 . And with the cabinets painted it looks even more green. But we went ahead and finished because we figured it could be a primer coat if we didn’t like it when it was finished and dry.

From iPhone 014_USEDFrom iPhone 017_USED

From iPhone 002_USEDIt looks different all the time of course, in the above picture it really looks white to me! But as a mentioned above, it needs another coat. The wall to the left, which sustained the most damage at my hand, is dry–it looks shiny because of the amount of mud I put on it! Another coat of paint should resolve that issue though.

So we’ll see what color this ends up being! Stay tuned!

Window Replacement Number 1

The shop has one window. This is Evan’s space, so perhaps it should have no windows ( 🙂 ). I went out of town for the weekend and came back to find that Evan attempted to get a little airflow into the shop. It’s not a real window, it’s just a storm window, and needed to be replaced anyway because of a crack in the lower pane of glass (and also, it’s hideous). So off to Lowes we went.

From iPhone 207_USED

We first went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore to try and find a quick replacement but nothing came close to what we needed. We could have gotten a custom size  from Lowes but decided to save a few bucks and get a standard size instead. It was just a couple inches off and Evan was able to shim the frame to install it properly. Of course, they can’t stock every size window in the store, so we had to wait a few weeks for it to come in. Evan got a little excited and started taking out the glass before the window came in, so we left for California with a trash bag over the opening. Here’s what we came back to:

From iPhone 025

Know why they call trashy people, trashy?

The rest of the windows in the house are black, the new window, is white. The house windows all need to be replaced, they are not true double pane, some of them are compromised, and they are too small. Unless you go really high end (read: expensive), the color goes all the way though, so to have white windows inside, we must have white windows outside.

The window finally came in and Evan installed in by himself in just a few hours!

From iPhone 002_USED

Why am I always taking pictures in the dark?! 

Lowes carries Pella windows, which is what we will use for the house, but for the shop window we went with Pella’s “value” windows, ThermaStar. The quality difference is noticeable but perfectly suitable for a shop window! And this one opens, no air holes required… 🙂

Painting the Patchwork Room, Part II

After testing many paint colors for the living too, I finally settled on one that I kind of like. I suppose I spoiled the surprise by posting about the hallway, but the color looks a good bit different in the living anyway. The hallways pictures don’t really capture the true color of the walls.

So here’s the before shot (the ceiling is actually dry in this picture too),

From iPhone 022_USED And after! I did the cutting in while Mom rolled the walls. This is really the best way to paint because you can get the walls painted before the edges dry.

From iPhone 023_USED

So why do I only kind of like this color? Because it’s warm, traditional, and neutral. I actually really do like the color, it’s just the only warm color I’ve picked out so far. And considering it’s now covering 50% of our house, it was really a hard call for me to make. But the reasoning here is that too much cool and the house would feel, well, cold. So I knew I wanted a warm, I just had to also make sure it went with cool, and that’s what made it such a challenge. I also needed it to be neutral because it is covering so much of the house from front to back, and I didn’t want the other rooms to clash.

If the warm/cool color thing totally goes over your head, it’s exactly what it sounds like. Think of how fall/winter looks outside: blue, gray, pale, icy. Versus how fall/winter looks (and how you want it to feel) inside: reds, browns, orange, fire, rich. 

Here is my Valspar ad :). Also, this picture is truer to the real color. I think it really brightens things up!

From iPhone 024_USED

Painting the Patchwork Room

Painting the ceiling in the Living Room resulted in my shoulder going numb and not being able to turn my head left for three days. But it was so worth it! The living room is the first room we started taking down the acoustic spray in so we were definitely still cautions of the amount of water we used. As a result, there was a lot more dust left on the ceiling. You can brush, vacuum, and tacky cloth that ceiling till your arms fall off, there’s no way to get all the dust off without replacing the drywall. Since that wasn’t happening, I started painting.

Paint is essentially pigmented glue. The better quality (read: more expensive) your paint is, the more “glue-like” the paint will be. It is for this exact reason I bought the best paint I could afford for the ceilings. A professional painted would probably shudder at the thought, but I basically painted the dust. But, considering this dust is actually plaster dust, my hope is that the paint saturated the dust and glued it to the ceiling. Honestly, I don’t think it’s going to last long without peeling, but you have to work with what you’ve got, right?

I’m not sure why I keep taking pictures of wet paint because it looks terrible, but here’s what I’ve got:

From iPhone 002_USED

I love that my walls look like an artist pallet, makes the before and after that much better.

It’s going to need a second coat, but that’s going to have to wait till my arms don’t feel like jello anymore.

From iPhone 009_USED

I would like  to point out that Bob got up on a ladder and cut in the ceiling paint for me, I hate cutting in the ceiling so that was awesome.

As the ceiling paint got rolled out, Mom went to work on the new doorway trim! I had previously caulked the joints and filled in the nail holes and Mom gave it a light sanding. It looks amazing!
From iPhone 008_USED

There was one part of the ceiling that had a little bit of acoustic spray left on it and I remember hastily scrapping it down. Evidently I never wiped off any of the dust because when I went over it with my paint roller I evened up with little sheets of paint covered dust on the roller. I started to peel back the little layers hoping to get to a sport where it stopped peeling, it didn’t. So I left it to dry and get back to later with a light sanding and another coat of paint.

From iPhone 014_USED

Ack! Worst nightmare.

Next on the agenda, cutting in along the ceiling, corners, baseboard, and trim. Because of the dust + tape fiesco of Aug 14′, I do all cutting in by hand now. This is not as difficult as you might think and I actually came in with a cleaner line. The corners where the ceiling and walls meet in the living room are a lot smoother than in the hallway so it looks much better in here, plus I have gotten a lot more practice since then. I may go back and do the hallway later (my crown molding dreams are probably a ways off).

From iPhone 013_USED

And we’re ready to paint the walls!

Painting Exterior Door

Eventually the standard steel doors will be replaced. For now, they will be painted. I haven’t painted the back door yet, just the front, but I don’t have a “before” picture of the front door. It pretty much looked like this one but not quite as dirty.Whats left in hall_USED Jun9

We took the door down, you really can’t paint a door on it’s hinges and expect it to look good. In my humble opinion 🙂 I then used a 120 grit sandpaper to rough it up as well as loosen the dirt and grim that has built up over the years. I also tried to get most of the rust off with the sandpaper because even though I was using a good quality paint + primer, the amount of rust would eventually bleed through the paint. I used the vacuum cleaner and tacky cloth to get the dust up, then cleaned it with an all purpose spray.

Yes I am painting the door directly on our carpet. I’m a rebel. We don’t plan on keeping this carpet for too long but I was still very careful to not spill. It’s also one of the more awesome points of owning your own house, if you want to paint a door on the carpet then you can totally paint a door on your carpet! Anyway, I did a bit of research about painting doors because I didn’t want any brush marks. What I found essentially is that you want to paint in very thin coats, starting with the boxes. That way, you can feather out any drips or pools of paint without worrying about touching drying paint with the brush. After that I used a foam roller to paint the rest of the door. I did three thin coats.

From iPhone 004_USED

I painted the door handle and hinges earlier that morning. So all I had to do was wait for the door to dry and hang it back up! This was about the time Evan dropped the Little Giant ladder on his toe. For those of you not familiar with the Little Giant, it looks like this:

Little Giant Ladder

It’s actually pretty smart, the middle part extents up to make a tall A-frame ladder. Problem is, when you’re taking it down there’s no safety that keeps the ladder from coming all the way to the ground in one toe-guillotine motion. So off to the hospital we go to save Evan’s little toe. They managed to save most of it. I’d like to take this moment for a very important PSA: The disassembling of the Little Giant ladder is a two person operation :).

His toe was pretty smashed up so I’ll spare you, but here’s a picture of the picture of his toe, it’s broken in six (!) places. That thing that looks like it could be a toe nail is a toe nail. He doesn’t have that anymore…

From iPhone 016_USED

So Mom and Bob came to our rescue and put the front door back up for us! They did a great job. Just a few finishing touches left, like painting the other side of the hinges (duh), and putting the hardware back on the storm door. Otherwise, a grand improvement:

From iPhone 016

I only have this one picture that I took at dusk…I will take another one soon.

And for my Next Trick…

I call this one, “Sticking to the Budget!”

The stainless steel sink in the kitchen may have come from a little kid’s playhouse. it’s a double sink but approximately 10″’s a joke. We went to the Habitat for Humanity ReStore–which is an awesome place if you’ve never been to one–in search for a window to replace the broken one in the shop. That’s when we came across this,

From iPhone 010_USED

That’s right, $25!! So proud of us! There are many reasons this sink is awesome, one, it’s extra deep, two, its the same size as our current sink so no cutting of the current counters required.

It’s made by American Standard, which I think most of us know and love. After doing a bit of research I have found the manual for it, it’s Ameriacast, which has been around for about 25 years. It’s meant to be a replacement for heavy and expensive cast iron (I can lift this thing myself!). Although they say that Ameriacast has the same thickness and durability as cast iron (but with much better sound absorption), the porcelain coating scratches very easily, exposing the black underneath. But for 25 bucks I can seriously live with some scratches. Plus, our water leaves spots on the stainless-steel sink so this will look cleaner even with scratches.

I was able to find the product that American Standard sends out to repair their other Ameriacast products (namely bathtubs and bathroom sinks), called Porca-fix on Amazon. So I think it will clean up nicely. This was a HUGE find in my opinion, because I knew we needed a new sink and it would likely be the largest purchase we made for the kitchen. Now we can use those savings for a new oven! yay