This reveal has been a long time coming… back in January 2021, with a three week old newborn, we discovered the base of our washing machine had rusted out and water was leaking behind the machine. Realllly fun stuff, especially when you have to resort to handwashing newborn clothes because you’re in the middle of a pandemic. Anyway, instead of just repairing the subfloor and replacing the washing machine, we took the opportunity to update the whole space, including the hall that connects to the laundry room and our outdoor patio. Let’s get into those updates, which took us nearly two years to complete, but was so worth it.
Our go-to spray guns and tips for how to spray like a pro
The spray gun has quickly become one of our most-used tools, as we’ve taken on more and more cabinetry, trim, and furniture refinishing projects. As a result, we have constantly been on the hunt for the best spray gun that will give us the most professional end-product. There’s nothing worse than killing yourself to install the most flawless quality trimwork and then being disappointed in the end finish because of your spray gun. Here’s our current assortment of spray guns and when we use them:
Our Multi-Purpose Spray Gun: The Wagner Flexio 5000
This spray gun is affordable and is a good choice for most bigger projects. It comes with a few different nozzles and canisters, so you can use it for broad coverage (e.g. painting a wall or fence) and smaller detail projects (e.g. painting a chair). It’s easy to use and covers a lot of ground quickly. Our only con about this spray gun is that if you’re looking for an extra smooth, perfect factory finish, you may find yourself frustrated with this spray gun. We have managed to get it pretty close, but just not quite flawless.
Our Detail Spray Gun: The Earlex Sprayport 6003
When we’re looking for that perfectly smooth factory finish, we use this gun. It’s perfect for cabinetry, furniture pieces, and other detail-oriented projects. We recently used this spray gun to paint cabinet doors and the finish is absolutely flawless. This spray gun offers you a ton of control, and when you couple that with the right sized nozzle (there are options), you can really achieve a high-quality professional look. We did use this spray gun to paint the paneled walls in our living room and dining room, even though it’s not a recommended use case, and found that it was much slower going than using the Wagner Flexio, but we did get exactly the perfect finish we were looking to achieve. One other note, since the room was so large, this spray gun needed to be on for several hours in a row, which definitely made the built-in compressor get pretty warm – I would say that project pushed this spray gun to the limit, though! We have found ourselves reaching for this spray gun the most since getting it. I will also caveat, that since this is a professional-grade sprayer, it comes with a higher price tag.
Continue reading ➞ Our go-to spray guns and tips for how to spray like a pro
The Main Floor Bathroom Renovation: Layout
Those of you who have been long-time followers are probably aware that this is the second time we’re refreshing our main floor bathroom. Let me take you through the journey of this bathroom.
When we moved in, this bathroom was a buttery yellow and white scheme with black and white tile.
One of our very first projects in this house three years ago was giving this bathroom a cosmetic makeover. We gave the beadboard, walls, vanity and radiator a fresh coat of paint. We replaced the medicine cabinet, sconce, faucet (a Craigslist score!) overhead light fixture and vanity hardware. And we brought in some new accessories, shower rod and shower curtain to pull it all together. To say that this bathroom made the rounds on the internet would be an understatement, and we were so happy with how it turned out.
Continue reading ➞ The Main Floor Bathroom Renovation: Layout
One Room Challenge – Fall 2019 – Week 4
If you’re new around here, three years ago my husband and I purchased our first house: a 1940’s Colonial located in a very cute coastal Connecticut town. We’ve been tackling remodeling the house room by room, where we’re always looking for ways to add equal parts function and character into our house.
Don’t forget to check out Week One, Week Two, and Week Three.
I can’t believe how fast time has been going by, nor that we’re already at Week Four. This is the week where we always start to panic, and this season is no exception.
We made a ton of progress this week, but we’re still trying to get a few big items scheduled, delivered, and installed. Our biggest hold-ups right now include waiting for our countertops to be installed, waiting for our tile to be delivered, and waiting on a missing custom cabinet unit to arrive. All these items mean we can’t install our crown moulding, our upper cabinets (including the vent hood), lighting, or plumbing. I have a feeling I’m going to be begging all my friends to help us out next weekend with getting through this outstanding list of items in order to hit the Week Six reveal deadline.
But on to the good news:
This was a big week for progress!
Do we regret using marble tile in our shower?
A year and a half ago, when we set off to remodel our bathroom, I shared we were going to use marble tile throughout our shower. On the walls, on the floors, and on the bench. And immediately I started hearing from people that I shouldn’t use marble because it’s too high maintenance. It stains! It etches! It needs to be babied!
Everyone shared their horror stories with me and it didn’t deter me from wanting to install the luxe marble shower of my dreams. I mean, I challenge you to find me a material that’s more beautiful than marble.
My internal argument was that marble has been used for centuries for this purpose throughout Europe and still looks fantastic. Sure, it looks well loved, but it stands the test of time and ages beautifully over time, unlike some other man-made materials that need to be replaced more frequently because they fall out of fashion, look dated quickly, and sometimes wear unevenly. Marble does not.
So, fast forward eighteen months of daily use, how do we feel about our marble shower today?
In short, we love it.
Continue reading ➞ Do we regret using marble tile in our shower?
How to build a radiator window bench
Our vintage Colonial home features a lot of radiators… and not the beautiful Victorian kind. These radiators require covers to look even halfway decent, so my go-to move has been to turn an awkwardly placed radiator into a window bench at every chance.
The first time we did this, we created a massive window bench in our sunroom that is the perfect napping spot.
The next time, we opted to add a window bench to our walk in closet, that is the perfect spot for reading, folded laundry, and seating for seasonal closet purges. Today, I’m going to walk you through how we built this bench.
When you don’t have the space for a window bench, here are more chic ideas for radiators.
Let’s get started.
How to install a removable wallpaper mural
A few weeks ago, I revealed the transformation of my home office, which featured a Chinoiserie-style wallpaper mural from Tempaper Designs. Since then, I’ve received two questions countless times: (1) wait, that’s removable wallpaper?? and (2) how did you install it without hiring a professional?
Yes, the wallpaper is removable and it also looks incredible. Today I’m going to detail how we hung the temporary Tempaper wallpaper. I was anxious leading up to installing the paper, where I was convinced that we would somehow ruin this gorgeous wallpaper mural, but I had absolutely nothing to worry about. We remarked after the hour and half we spent installing the paper that we wished every DIY project we tackled was this straightforward, simple, and high-impact.
Continue reading ➞ How to install a removable wallpaper mural
Budgeting for Renovations & Big Projects
This is a question I receive a lot. I’m going to preface this by saying: budgeting is hard, and it’s an imprecise science, but after some experience you start to get closer to the mark on what a project costs.
I’m a big spreadsheet geek. Like for instance, for my very first Manhattan apartment I input all the IKEA products I needed for my bedroom into a spreadsheet and then cross-referenced the tax rates at each of the closest IKEAs to NYC – Long Island, New Jersey, and Brooklyn – to determine the lowest price factoring in the cost to distance and product availability at each location. Yeah, so, now that we’ve all come to the same conclusion that I’m a huge dork, let’s dig in.
Step 1: Break down a project into its components
I start by listing off all the items that go into the to-be-renovated space in separate lines in a Google sheet and classify them by category. So, for instance, I’d say in the fixture category we need a faucet, a shower head, a tub-fill, a toilet, sink, tub, and a tub drain. And then I’d go down the room by category listing off everything I need to complete the space, for instance, all the flooring materials (including grout, thinset, Hardiboard).
Step 2: Assign everything a ball-park price
At this stage, I’m doing a quick Google search for roughly how much each component costs at the size I need and then I input it into the spreadsheet. I’m also ensuring I know approximately how much square footage I need of every material, and I’m throwing in ballpark placeholder numbers for any labour that I need to hire out. If there is something specific that I already know needs to be in the space, then I include that exact item (e.g. a specific brand and style of tub).
Step 3: Add it all up
This point is where you sum up all the approximations in your spreadsheet, and if the number plus 20% feels doable, it’s time to move forward and start sourcing the actual items for the space. If the number is terrifying and way exceeds your expectations, then I go back over the figures and see if there are any big unknowns that need to be defined better (e.g. plumbing costs), if not, I think about areas I can cut back. If no such areas exist, then I put the project on hold and start saving pennies.
A lot of the projects that are more intensive (e.g. a bathroom or kitchen), can’t be done piecemeal, so you really need to have all the funds up front for the project. But, if you’re dealing with a living room or more furnished space, you have some leeway to set a plan upfront and buy as your budget permits.
Step 4: Evaluate the budget at a high level
Once I’ve narrowed down the budget to a target, then I’m taking that amount and evaluating it in the context of our house. If I spend that much, do I expect to at least break even on it when we sell it? Is the level of finishes that I want to use consistent with what houses in my area, when renovated, include? If you don’t care about overinvesting in your home, or the renovation serves to improve the quality of your life and you’re committing to the house long-term, then don’t worry about this. But, I always like to do a gut check to ensure I’m not putting too much (or too little!) into the project financially.
If I feel like I might be overspending for the return, I might take one more look at the budget and see if anything could be cut back. Personally, I love financial restraints because I think they yield a more interesting and creative finished product, but I know you can only do so much cutting down of the budget before the finished product is sacrificed. For instance, to offset the cost of the marble in our master bathroom, we bought our vanity used off Craigslist and with some wood-fill, primer, a gallon of high-quality paint and a spray gun it was completely reinvented for about half the price we were quoted for a custom vanity. However, if it got to the point where we were using lower grade finishes across the board because that’s all we could afford at the time, I would have paused on starting the project and waited until I could afford the items that I thought were important in my master bathroom and in-line with what future buyers might expect.
What are your best tricks for budgeting?
Hacking the IKEA Pax into a Fully Custom Closet
When I first started imagining how I wanted my closet to look, I became stuck on this image of Jenny Wolf’s closet. I absolutely adored the blue, custom cabinetry and decided I was going to figure out a way to get a similar look in my own house with a non-custom budget.
I initially assumed that we would make all the cabinetry from scratch, but Cory brought me back to reality with the truths that 1) we’d never built a cabinet in our lives, let alone lots of drawers, shelves and boxes, and 2) the cabinetry would take forever, and would make this room impossible to accomplish for the One Room Challenge.
So, I sought out a closet system that I could customize and paint to match my vision. And in this search, the IKEA Pax kept coming up as the most common, highest-rated, and budget-friendly closet system. I’m no stranger to the concept of hacking IKEA products, though we actually had never done it ourselves. In my research, I discovered that lots of people have hacked the IKEA Pax or IKEA Billy systems to create a built-in look. But there were some upgrades that I wasn’t able to find any examples of in the wild, including recessing in-cabinet lighting and adding drawer fronts for an inset, full custom cabinetry look. The drawer fronts were critical to my vision: the IKEA Pax drawers look very modular and modern to me, making them stick out like a sore thumb in our 1940’s home. Most people hid the drawers by adding doors on the wardrobe units, but we didn’t have the space, or the desire to add so many unnecessary cabinet doors to our space.
So, let’s get started on how we transformed our closet from this:
Continue reading ➞ Hacking the IKEA Pax into a Fully Custom Closet
How to refinish your hardwood floors with natural hardwax oil
After years of dreaming about having beautiful hardwood floors, we’ve finally made it happen and I’m so thrilled with how they turned out. But seriously, ever since the floors have been refinished in our Master Bedroom, I’ve made a habit of walking past the room just to ogle them every morning (and evening, if I’m being honest). Let’s dive into the details.
We opted to use Rubio Monocoat, a natural penetrating hardwax oil for a lot of reasons, which I laid out in detail here. But in a nutshell: it’s VOC-free, all-natural, and is applied in a single coat. Oh, and the finish is absolutely gorgeous.
Depending on your square footage, this is at least a two day process. I’m going to break what you need by day one (prep and sanding) and day two (stain application), but recognize that you may need more days to complete your own space.
Here’s what you’re going to need:
- A Shop Vac
- A nail punch
- A hammer
- A drum floor sander rental
- An edge sander rental
- A hand sanding block
- Lots of sandpaper for the drum sander and edge sander (24, 36, 60, 80, 100 grits)
- Sandpaper for the sanding block (120 grit)
- Rubio Monocoat RMC Cleaner
- Terry cloth towels (these are so handy to have on hand)
- Rubio Monocoat Oil Plus 2C A with Accelerant B
- Stain applicators
- A floor buffer rental
- Several white buffing pads
Continue reading ➞ How to refinish your hardwood floors with natural hardwax oil