Posts tagged home improvements

Hall Closet Makeover

We have a good sized closet in our main hallway.  It’s pretty much been unused since we moved in, mostly because we moved in during nicer weather and didn’t have big coats, hats, gloves, boots, etc to put in there.  Instead, it has become home to some very random things like mops, Pledge, light bulbs, grocery bags and our fire extinguisher.

(click to enlarge)

With the colder weather creeping up on us, I know that we are going to need to use this closet for it’s intended purpose rather than as a catch-all.  So, I decided to tackle it.  It was a very spur-of-the-moment decision.  I took some quick measurements, grabbed the girls, and drove to Lowe’s to buy some supplies.  There were a few things that I definitely wanted to accomplish with the project and the rest just fell into place.  First, since the closet is over a stairway, the floor is slanted upward which means you can’t really put much on the floor of the closet (but somehow that didn’t really seem to stop the clutter from gathering there!).  Then there was the abundance of grocery bags (aka toxic waste-smelling diaper disposal bags).  Even though we use reusable shopping bags 90% of the time, we still seem to end up with tons of these plastic bags.  So, I was determined to find an answer to this problem.  And finally, how do I make the closet not look so cluttered?  I know, I know, it IS a closet after all, but I just hated looking at all of the crap!

Here is how it turned out:

I am completely thrilled with it.  I installed a shelf near the bottom of the closet.  It can be used for shoes or whatever.  I put a small bin on it so the kids can put things away at their own level (ie hats, gloves, scarves).  I put two larger bins on the top shelf.  One of them has the light bulbs and other miscellaneous stuff in it.  The other is empty for now, but will hold Scott’s and my hats, gloves and scarves this winter.  I was able to eliminate two of the mops from the closet.  One was the Swiffer Wet Jet, which we no longer use (we replaced it with a Shark Steam Mop seen in the picture).  The other one was an old school sponge mop that somehow made it’s way to the new house even though we never used it at the condo.

But, I know the biggest question on everyone’s mind right now is “What did she do with all of those grocery bags?!?”  Pretty sweet, huh?!  I’ve seen these type of bag holder/dispenser things before but for some reason never bought one.  Of course today when I was on the hunt for one, it took me forever to find it.  It’s stuck on the right hand wall inside the closet with some adhesive backing (or you could have used screws).  The box says it holds 30 bags but I was able to get at least 45 in there (yes, I was counting!).  I’m very happy about it.

So, I ended up spending about $40 at Lowe’s on the shelf, hardware, bins and the grocery bag holder.  I know it probably seems silly that I’m so excited about a closet makeover, but I know it’s going to make our lives so much easier once we’re wearing heavy coats and winter accessories.

Evolution of a home – living room.

One of the benefits of buying a home that is For Sale By Owner (FSBO) is that you get to know the owner/seller.  I realize that some people may not view this as a benefit, but it our case it was a huge plus.  They were extremely helpful and very informative through the entire process.  They answered every single question that we had to the best of their knowledge.  As the new owners of the home it’s great to be able to get in touch with them if we have any questions (and we have).  They moved out of state but they’re the type of people where if they’re ever back to visit, we’d love to have them over for dinner!

Anyway, another added bonus of “knowing” them is that they were gracious enough to share with us pictures of how the home looked when they purchased it.  This was very neat to us.  It has also allowed us to see how the home has evolved over the years.  It’s quite awesome.  As I mentioned before, our house was built in the late 1960′s so even though it’s new to us, it’s not really new.  The previous owners had the glorious job of removing all of the old wallpaper and painting all of the wood trim white.  Both of which I am extremely grateful for!  When we moved in, most of what we did was cosmetic.

I’m going to share with you bits and pieces of the house as it has evolved through the years.  First we’ll visit the living room.  I call this room the conversation room.  It’s attached to the dining room and off of the kitchen.  We don’t have a TV in this room and it’s used more for sitting and talking or reading.  Our computer nook is also here though our laptop floats around the house with us most of the time.  Anyway, here is what the room looked like, sans furniture, when the previous owners first purchased it a little over five years ago:

It was carpeted, had dingy walls and the window casing appears to be beige.  What you can see is that the bay (or is it bow) window is a huge focal point.  What you can’t see is that there is a beautiful fireplace on the wall to the right of the window.  Otherwise, pretty basic and boring.

Here are the pictures of the same room from when the previous owners lived here:

Here you can see the work that the previous owners put into the room.  They put a fresh coat of paint on the walls, painted the trim and window casing white, removed the carpet and refinished the hardwood floors.  They did an amazing job!  You can also see that fireplace that I was talking about.  And notice how the window lets in a TON of natural light?!  I love it!

When we moved in, we originally had our sectional in this room.  It didn’t fit and was too overbearing here.  We intended for it to go in the family room, but that room was a work in progress and we needed a couch somewhere!  Once the family room was finished, we moved the sectional down there and were left with an empty space.  The girls loved it because it meant more room for them to run around in and create a mess, but we knew it was temporary.  Eventually we purchased furniture for the room and I’m happy with how it’s coming along.  Here are pictures of how the room currently looks:

I took these pictures at night so there’s no sun coming in through the window but you get the idea.  We’re planning to paint the wall behind the love seat and the wall where the fireplace is a lighter shade of green.  We are also currently looking for a new, larger area rug.  I’m sure I’ll put some pictures or something on the mantle eventually and I have to do some decorating in the desk area (pictures/cork board/etc).  Oh and we need to get a more beefy looking curtain rod.  The one that is there looks a bit too wimpy for the window.  Other than that, I’m pretty happy with how it’s coming along!  What do you think?

Our new Family Room!

Our new house was built in 1969.  So even though it’s new to us, it’s not actually new.  Many of the rooms need updating but overall, our house is perfect and exactly what we wanted.  We have an awesome neighborhood.  In a given day I probably see 3 cars pass by my house, and they belong to people who live on our street.  Our yard is private and very shaded with natural boundaries, no fences.  There is plenty of room inside for all of us and all of our stuff but not too much space that it’s a nuisance to keep clean.  I’ve already showed you some of our yard (we own a half acre) which is probably my favorite part of owning a house but I’m excited to show off some of the inside as well.

When we bought the house, it appeared that the family room had not been updated, remodeled, renovated since the house was built. It had dark paneling, a tile drop ceiling, very poor lighting and a dingy indoor/outdoor type carpet.  Here is what it looked like:

click image to enlarge

We knew that this would be a room that we would spend a lot of time in as a family, especially during the cold winter months when we wouldn’t be spending as much time outside.  So, this was one of the very first projects that we decided to tackle.  We had big visions for the space and knew that we wanted to maximize the square footage as much as possible.  We found a contractor on and got started right away.  Here is what the project entailed:

  • remove paneling, ceiling, carpet
  • install new windows in front of room, close in rear windows
  • rip out built in cabinets and move wall back to gain square footage
  • install drywall for the walls and ceiling
  • install 8 recessed lights on dimmers
  • install new trim, baseboards and doors
  • install new carpet
  • paint!!  We did this ourselves to save on costs.

I am beyond thrilled with the finished product.  The contractor was here for full days (usually 8am til around 6 or 7pm) and it took him about two and a half weeks to do all of the work.  He was a one man show and did a phenomenal job!  We’re in the process of furnishing the space which will be our family room/TV room/playroom.  The entertainment area is set up and the couch and main furniture is in.  Now it’s time to get some pictures on the walls and dress the windows (this could take a while).  So, without further ado, here are the after, unfurnished, undecorated pictures of the room:

I promise to share more pictures once we get the  finishing touches in.  We’re already enjoying the space and loving every minute of it.  I can’t believe how big it is.  The girls have so much room to play and we have a little home theater set up on one side.  Scott is thrilled to have his surround sound system set up and our TV and couch look perfect here.  I know we’re going to spend a lot of time in our new family room.  Couldn’t be happier!

Keeping up is hard to do.

I guess it’s my own fault for setting myself up.  When I started to get into blogging seriously, I was posting daily.  I set aside time each morning or each night and blogged.  That was at a time when things were pretty uneventful in our lives.  We were grounded, the girls were both sleeping through the night, the chores were under control, things were easy peasy (ha!).  Well then we went ahead and moved.

Fast forward to now.  The days fill up so quickly.  The chores have increased (bigger house + yard = more chores).  We’re in the middle (well more near the end) of a renovation project.  Nora is cutting her one year molars and has an awful diaper rash which means she’s not sleeping as soundly these days.  So between contractors arriving at the house bright an early at 8am and Scott and I doing some of the remodel (read: painting) ourselves at night, time for blogging has dwindled severely.

But you know what?  It’s ok.  I blog because I enjoy it.  So if I make myself feel like it’s a chore, then what’s the point?  If I don’t get to it one day (or week), no biggie.  I have bigger fish to fry at times.  It doesn’t mean that I don’t want you checking in to see what’s new, but I do apologize if things get stale.  I’m happy to have acquired the readership that I have and I hope you don’t all leave me but keeping up is hard to do!

So I’ll be around when I can.  Hopefully not sporadically.. (name that movie!)

It shouldn’t be sew hard.

Why is it so hard to find decent curtains and valances? We have a lot more windows in our new house than we did in our townhouse. And it’s just different here so I don’t want to just put up some of the old ones we had. We found so great sheers for pretty cheap for Brinley’s room and I love the way they look.

Nora only has one window in her room so I decided to try my hand at sewing, and made her valance out of her crib skirt. With the style of the crib that she has, the skirt barely showed through anyway. Since her bedding set came with it, I figured I could cut it up and try to sew a valance. If it came out horrible, then the only thing I’d really have lost was the time it took me to make it. So, I called up my mom to see if she still had her sewing machine kicking around (she used to make lots of stuff back in the day, including dresses for my sister and I). I was in luck, she still had it.

Last week I busted it out and went to work. I haven’t touched a sewing machine since 8th grade Home Economics class. However, by some miracle, it all came back to me. I even remembered how to refill and empty bobbin! This was a pretty easy project though because most of the hems were already sewn since it was a crib skirt. I just cut off the longest sides of the skirt and sort of overlapped them and made a rod pocket. A few pins and stitches later and ta-dah! I had made a valance! It’s nothing fancy or special but it does the job and cost me nothing. It doesn’t bunch up as much as I would have liked since the window is really big and the length of fabric wasn’t very long, but I like it and I’m happy with how it turned out. (I will put up some pictures once things are finalized in the room.)

So now I’m left with a double window in the dining room, a bathroom window, a kitchen window and a door that are still left bare. I know I’m putting too much pressure on myself since we just moved in a little over two weeks ago, but I just can’t stand the sight of it looking so unfinished. I reused the scarf valance thing we had over our living room window in the townhouse in our bay window in our new living room and I hate the way it looks, it’s not long enough. So that will be replaced too at some point. It works for now.

For some reason though, I am just having terrible luck finding anything that I like. I’ve looked at Target, WalMart, JC Penny, Bed Bath & Beyond,, Sears and just about everywhere that I can think of that sells curtains and valances. I don’t want to spend an arm and a leg, but they don’t have to be super cheap either. It just seems like all I can find for kitchens is stuff with fat chefs, wine bottles, or fruit on them. If I had more time (and patience – since I totally sucked at making a straight line) I’d sew some more myself but it would be easier for me to just buy them (and I’ know they’d look nicer).

So, help me out here. Where can I find some decent window treatments without breaking the bank?

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