Category Archives: home renovation

The fireplace surround



If I’m going to catch up on my projects, I’m going to have to go back to where I left off, before the holidays. So here we go! I shared previously about my project to lighten and brighten my family room. The centerpiece of this room refresh was a new fireplace surround built by my brother Cameron, of Howard Homescapes. I wanted to keep my limestone fireplace but I wanted it prettied up a bit, and for the mantle to be more than a simple slab stuck up on top. I started a Pinterest board to visualize what I wanted in a new mantle. My brother and I sat down and he did sketches of the new design.


He did the carpentry work over a few days and then I put on the paint. I’m so pleased with the result. The fireplace now looks like furniture that goes with the rest of our room, but I didn’t lose the traditional stone that came with the 1960ish addition on the back of my 1940 house.

fireplace-beforeHere are a couple “before” photos for comparison. The room was cozy and beloved before, but it’s so much brighter and cleaner-looking now. I’m really pleased with my fireplace!

Rainbow shades on a chandelier


My husband (a good guy, let me state for the record) finally got to the point on his honey-do list that he put up our new dining room light fixture and I got to see my new painted shades in action.

I couldn’t get just the right representative photo of them so I snapped them from all angles.

The matte black of the fixture matches my painted hutch.

When I read in magazines about the “soothing” effect of neutral colors I always get confused. Neutral colors make me itch! I love color, and I love my new rainbow shades too.

Here is the view from the kitchen, a big change from where we started. It is fun to watch our house become more and more ours as we continue to live in it and make little tweaks to make us happy.

Painting again


Watch out! My mom and I are wielding paintbrushes again. The guest room here has been acting as a great big closet and dumping ground since move-in and now I’m finally getting it into shape. Rob took down the wallpaper; I dragged boxes to their proper locations and put stuff away that was collecting in piles. Mom came to help and we puttied holes, sanded, and got the whole room primed.  Hooray!  Next up: buttery yellow walls. Watching the transformation from the old, unpainted walls to the fresh clean look of primer is amazing. Now I’m excited for the paint!

I feel like my son has been getting the short end of this blog lately. He’s always the little person in the way, and to be honest, that is often is role in blog-making projects. But in the rest of life he’s dear, and today’s remaining photos today are in celebration of his cute little ways.


…sometimes sleeps with his bottom up in the air.

…likes to play in mud but not the taste of it.

…uses nonverbal communication to make demands, looking ridiculously like a Baroque cherub painting. And

…cleans up pretty well.

New life for old towels


I debated whether or not I should do this project.  Having to keep track of specific hand towels for a specific bathroom seemed like a bit of a hassle.  But after living here for a few months and establishing a routine I realized that the downstairs bathroom towels already get thrown in with the kitchen laundry and returned to the same bathroom so there was no reason not to spruce them up a bit if I wished. I took three basic hand towels and bleached them to freshen them up and remove stains. Sorry, I know bleach is not the most environmentally friendly thing but neither is buying all new towels, and using a bit of bleach now and then seems way better than resorting to something like those horrifying new Kleenex hand towels, the existence of which makes me wonder how it is that some people have a) money to burn, b) no concern for the amount of resources they are using and waste they are producing, and c) never apparently heard of their washing machine, which is generally an excellent tool for keeping hand towels clean.  Anyway….sorry for the rant.

Back to my bleached towels.  I ironed scraps of coordinating fabric from my bathroom curtain project (same bathroom) to make long, turned-under strips, then sewed them over the decorative strip on the towel.  The ironing and sewing took only minutes but the towels now seem to make my bathroom look really pulled-together. The towels themselves don’t match each other but since I only use one at a time it doesn’t matter. I’ll definitely do this for my other bathroom too once I get around to painting it.

Yesterday’s other project was not nearly as satisfying.  I started painting the living room ceiling and it’s falling apart!  Eek!  The textured finish on the ceiling is crumbling down on my head as I try to roll on paint. I would just scrape down the whole textured layer, but it seems to be stuck on quite tight in other parts of the room, and my bad elbow doesn’t really like doing lots of work like that over my head. My current plan is use glue and wallboard compound to try to rebuild some of the textured ceiling in this part of the room, but I know I can’t get the swirly pattern to match the rest of the room, and again about the bum elbow. Oy. The wallpaper was at least a known problem–this one was an unpleasant surprise.

The dining room


Except for my continued procrastination on painting the baseboard, the dining room is pretty much done.  Here’s the before (after we moved in, before stripping wallpaper)…

and after.  I posted an in-progress picture back in January when we were picking paint.  We didn’t end up using that exact shade, but went with one that didn’t have as much turquoise.  It’s Glidden’s Pool Party, and it’s a little brighter in the daylight.  It’s so happy!  The old thrift store tablecloths made easy and bright drapes, and I really love the way the fun prints on the chair seats turned out.  Rob and his Dad hung a light fixture here that we removed from another room; it was way too dark in there before.  The biggest pain in this project was puttying over a crack in the ceiling and some cracks that had formed between the upper molding and the ceiling, but of course those tasks also made a very big difference in the look of the outcome.  I’m gearing up to tackle the living room next but I think I may have to switch gears first and clean the basement, which is turning out to be a bit wetter than we’d though.  (Since we, um, didn’t think it was supposed to be wet at all.  Oy.)