Browsing Category "Home Renovation"
23 Apr
2012
Posted in: Home Renovation
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Fireplace Plans

Last week I shared my flower bed plans. I’m happy to say that all of the planned plants are in the ground. We still have a planter to build and one corner to add some height in with plants but those are long-term plans. The only other short-term plan we have going on in the flower bed is hooking up our rain barrel. We wanted to create a nice base for it but first we had to drain out our 65 gallons of rain collected inside it so we took some time doing that and then it rained on us again. Such is life.

We’re making progress on the base this week but within a 6 hour period we usually go from a 0% chance of rain to it actually raining (no love STL weather forecasters). That’s why my husband and I have decided to split our projects into indoor and outdoor projects. A few months back I mentioned we were starting our living room makeover but then the nice weather came and we had to do yardwork. All that got done in the living room was a nice paint job, some new trim, putting up blinds, and some furniture rearranging. If we split our energy doing indoor work on rainy days and outdoor work on nicer days, we won’t waste time yelling at weather forecasters for ruining our lives so often. Maybe.

oversized fireplace

Here’s the current eyesore of the living room. (Click to enlarge) You can see our paint updates and window updates but with all the decorations removed you can see all the flaws too. The fireplace is very oversized in the room. The mantel is undersized in comparison.

fireplace before

The tiles clash, the brickwork is done in a strange pattern, and there’s a random letter H on the front for the last name of the original owners. Let’s not even get into the inside of the fireplace. Right now it’s non-functional with a board propping up some sort of method the original owners used to close off the chimney. We’ve been too terrified to pull it out and we fully expect some animals may be living in there. Either that or we really do have a ghost. More cleaning will have to be done inside as well.

fireplace

Here’s a closer look at some of the problems. The old toekick around the fireplace stopped the floors from being finished underneath it so we’ll need to address that. Our tiles are not even close to our taste and don’t look good in the house. The groutline is 3/4″ minimum and almost an inch thick between the tile and the brick of the fireplace. We have our work cut out for us.

tile ideas
(1/2/3/4)

For tile we’d love to go with a slab but pricing will probably lead us to use tiles again. We’re favoring some white shades but after we get up our new trim we might end up wanting contrast. If you do know of a (very) affordable place to buy fireplace hearth slabs or remnants in the St. Louis area, please let me know. I’d love to go that route but the $25/sqft pricing I’ve seen does not make me think I’ll be going that route.

As far as trim goes, I find myself drawn to the looks of Sarah of Thrifty Decor Chick’s fireplace

and the fireplace by Julia of Pawleys Island Plush

I’m not sure which route we’ll end up going at our house but we do want to cover up plenty of that brick so our fireplace has a better sense of scale in the living room. I hope you’ll have patience with me as I bounce indoors and outdoors. My husband and I plan to be working in overdrive from now until the first of September when we’ll shift gears to start on another idea. You’ll see when we get there. In the meantime, I’m going to try to update as often as I can (3-4 times a week) and I’ll keep taking photos so I’ll get around to showing off every project eventually.

If you have any tips for working on a fireplace, I’d love to hear them because I’m planning on attacking with my chisel the next day the weather forecasters are wrong about the odds of rain and that’s looking like tomorrow.

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6 Mar
2012
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Working on Window Trim

One of the biggest projects in our house has been redoing the windows. Our original windows were from the original 1940s build. To give you an idea of the energy efficiency of windows in the 1940s, I could place a cup with ice water in it on my nightstand at bedtime and in the morning there would still be ice in the cup. Yup, the breeze from my window was that bad. Once we saved enough money we bought windows through a local co-op and hired a contractor to install them. It was up to us to do the window trim as part of our money-saving scheme.

Tools Needed

Supplies Needed

  • Trim (we get ours from Lowes)
  • Level
  • Finishing Nails
  • Caulk
  • Wood Filler
  • Paint
  • Spackling Paste

How We Do It

While I would hardly call us experts on window trim, this is how we’ve done the process. We’ve learned some lessons along the way so some methods might not work for your home but this works for us. By us, I mostly mean my awesome husband Daniel who is the brains behind the renovation. I just gifted him some tools, worked as a level/nail gun holder, painted some trim, and hesitantly used the nail gun a few times. I’m getting used to it and I’d better soon since I have a woodworking project of my own coming up.

Here’s some photos showing the process. Click any to enlarge it.

First, trim a piece of trim to length. We used a straight cut on the base and a mitered corner at the top.

After trimming one piece of trim to length, use your level and make sure you have the trim hanging straight. Then use your nail gun to nail it into the wall. Always wear goggles and safety gear for this step. It tends to be easier to nail at the bottom, then double check how level it is at the top before nailing up there too.

You’ll want to measure some trim along the top next. Both corners will be miter cuts so make sure to keep your angles even. Nail this piece as even and level as you can.

Repeat these steps with the piece of trim on the right side. Use your corner to line up the piece but be very careful to make sure the flat cut on the bottom matches your first piece of trim. You can always use filler to fill a tiny gap at the top.

We then attached a piece of flat trim to the bottom. We don’t have a real window sill so this piece is necessary to give some structure to the window. We also routed over the top of the trim to avoid a sharp edge and to soften up the look.

You can see a large gap at the bottom here. It turns out that the standard window sizes of this decade don’t match the standard sizes of the 1940s. We used the closest match and chose to patch the extra space ourselves. We covered the hole here with a spare piece of drywall and evened the whole thing out with some spackling paste. The paste needed to dry overnight before finishing the window trim.

Once the paste is dry, you can attach your bottom piece of trim. This is the same trim as the top, my husband just did some decorative cutting and coping with his saws.

Next up- filling in all those holes.

Most people will use caulk to fill in all the gaps. We soon discovered caulk wasn’t enough for us. Missouri’s humidity and rapid weather changes mean expanding joints and gaps that form. Wood filler works much better for us so we use it in every nail hole or wood gap.

After that all dries you’ll want to sand, sand, sand. Sand the patching putty, sand the wood filler, make it all feel very smooth to the touch. Afterwards you’ll want to paint the trim and try dressing your window. Here’s an after of one of our windows. Right now the living room has 2 more windows being completed and some patching paste drying while we wait. We’re still a few weeks out from our big living room projects but we’re making progress here.

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31 Jan
2012
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Blinds Installation

For me, one of the hardest parts of finishing a room is the windows. I have a hard time deciding on what curtains (nevermind whether I should even have curtains or not), what blinds, or even what hardware I should be putting up. Once I’ve finally made that decision I have an impossible time with the installation of one or more parts of that because I have some serious issues following directions without words. It’s a total first world problem and yet I keep having it. With our new windows we needed new window dressings so I finally decided towels and sheets weren’t working when I saw some neighbors walking way too close to my house after I had just showered. It was time.

skuggig from ikea

The easy part actually came on my November trip to Ikea. My husband and I had found some curtain rods called Skuggig that were really easy to install and had the clean simple lines we were looking for. (update: I hear they’ve since been discontinued. Anyone know of a similar product?) We also found some simple curtains that were both sturdy and sheer, all at the same time. Ikea’s Vivan was our new curtain of choice. They came with an iron-on hem tape so we could change the length easily.

Ikea vivan

For shade we decided we wanted a more natural look so we instantly knew we wanted bamboo roman blinds of some kind. After pricing out our options we found Overstock had the best rates. Even better, they almost always have a coupon code so all our blinds came in at less than $30 each. We went with the Tuscan Bamboo Roman Shade. The great thing about Overstock’s selection is that they have so many widths and heights that you likely won’t have to cut them down at all. It’s like having custom-made blinds for your house.

tuscan bamboo roman shades from overstock

¬†You may have spied the shades during the kitchen makeover. They were really easy to install. The key was to just space the base far enough outside the window and make them horizontally level. The easy-install brackets allow you just to slide the blinds back and forth until they’re evenly spaced around your window. Seriously, drill & screw, level, install, and slide- it’s that easy. Watch as my husband demonstrates. I swear he doesn’t usually coordinate his shirts to the room he is in.

how to install blinds

Here’s the complete look, curtains, shades, and hardware, in the dining room.

dining room with ikea curtains and overstock roman shades

I haven’t hemmed up the curtains because as you can see we’re still rearranging furniture. Despite how sheer the roman shades look when you stand outside you cannot see in. Even closed they let so much light into the house which is nice considering January has a tendency to be a very dark and cloudy month at times. If you checked out the dining room reveal you may have noticed we cheated a little. Still not sure how?

Source: curbly.com via Julie on Pinterest

We hung the curtains a little outside the window trim and also hung the blinds above the trim to give the illusion of having larger windows than we actually do. I’ve noticed our barely-8-foot ceilings seem taller now than they ever did before thanks to that tip.

We finally addressed the trouble of windows and it turned out to be a lot easier than we planned. I’m not sure why I was convinced it would be so impossible (well, except we had a lot of past failures) but everything we did here was foolproof. Do you have a habit of building up projects to be impossible tasks?

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19 Jan
2012
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Kitchen Tour

So remember that scary kitchen? Or maybe the blue one we lived with? Here’s the end result of all the work my husband and I did:

Walking into the kitchen you now see the new door leading up to the attic and the chalkboard my husband built from scratch.

Here’s the way you just came from leading back into the dining room. That ladder bookshelf is one of my favorite things.

Here’s another shot of it along with the pantry and my little baker’s nook. Can you believe all of this used to be in the bathroom of the house?

Here’s another shot of the nook with a glimpse at the full row of cabinets. I use those tiny little stacked drawers to hold all my spices and they fit amazingly well.

Here’s a shot into the corner where we have a few more glass front cabinets.

This shot shows off the schoolhouse light we bought a few months ago from Lowe’s and the tile. Here’s a detailed tile shot.

It’s from Home Depot and so incredibly amazing looking.

Remember how we built a nook where a door once was? This shows off the new layout pretty well.

We still have some very minor things to touch-up in this room but we’ve hit the 95% mark so I think that my husband and I did amazingly well so far. Here’s some before and after shots. Check them out while listening to Sarah McLachlan’s “I Will Remember You” for an authentic experience.

It’s been a few years, a ton of work, a chunk of change, lots of yelling, lots of love, but it all came together. You can’t believe how wonderful it is to cook a meal in such a beautiful and organized space and knowing how much I did and my husband did with our two hands (along with those of family and friends). I just feel so proud of this space. The rest of our home has quite a ways to go but I really believe we’re on the right path and some day all the rooms will look this good.

Linking up to Thrifty Decor Chick’s Show Us Your Kitchens! link party.

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18 Jan
2012
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Beginning to Take Shape

You saw the kitchen before and the demolition, now here’s the process we went through to turn it into a useful room.

When it came time to order cabinets, one look stuck in our minds. We had seen it while collecting brochures and this one in particular came from Home Depot.

It was everything our first kitchen wasn’t: bright, airy, and open. Obviously we weren’t going to be able to replicate the entire look but we knew that those were the cabinets we wanted. We loved the simple modern lines but the classic Shaker style of the cabinets. The name of the cabinets were Del Ray in Maple Spice from Woodmark Cabinetry, available at Home Depot. Another shot:

Virtually the same kitchen, just with different tile. Check out the detailing on the doors:

When you get cabinets installed, you might be surprised how long it takes for the actual installation to begin. First you have a consult where you schedule the measurement and discuss your basic budget and plans. Then a contractor comes to your home to measure the space from walls to windows, outlets to doors. Then you meet with your consultant again and plan out your space. We started by discussing our preferred cabinet design, placing the appliances and sink, and building cabinets around those needs. From there we talked countertops, sinks, faucets, and the ordering process. We sat on it for a few days, then placed our order. That was about a 10-day process in itself.

After that we had the long process of waiting. When the cabinets arrived they had to be inspected for defects before they could be installed. The installation took only about 3 days but we ran into an issue where one cabinet was the wrong size (but not defective so it was missed in the inspection) so they had to reorder it. While we waited we bought handles but the downside was that our counters would be delayed until the new cabinet arrived and could be installed. Finally the new cabinet arrived and we could schedule our countertop measure. Another 10 days from the measure and we got our counters in. It took over 2 months from start to finish while we lived with just a laundry sink, a stove, a fridge, and a card table as a counter. Be prepared to rough it folks. But here was the result of all the wait:

The kitchen view from the old doorway.

Look at that huge open workspace!

Here’s that former bathroom area (and my dog’s behind). On the left is the pantry and on the right we installed what was actually a bathroom vanity as a baker’s nook to fit below the kitchen window.

Here’s that nook we built by building a false wall where the door once stood. Now it holds a stove, a fridge, a microwave, and cabinets.

The countertop we ended up choosing was a Corian sold surface counter in Silt. We wanted the look of a slab without the high price of granite and it’s held up pretty well over the last 4 years.

But our kitchen wasn’t complete yet. My husband and I had failed to agree on a wall color before the cabinets went up so we just decided we’d paint it later. (Huge mistake by the way) We also had the cheapest lights on the market installed and we had held off on putting up window trim till the counters were installed. Plus, we wanted to add some decorations.

Here’s a sneak peek at the look we ended up with. You can see the actual room tomorrow in its final form.

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17 Jan
2012
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Kitchen Demolition

Welcome to renovation time! It’s about Spring 2006 in this timeline and the wall between the kitchen and bathroom is coming down along with a lot of other walls.

Here we are with the inner walls torn out, the outer walls torn out, and working on tearing out the soffits too. My husband is on the step ladder working on demolishing everything. Can you believe we didn’t find a speck of insulation between the inner and outer walls? Suddenly the chill in the house made sense.

Here’s a shot that gives you a better look at the layout of the house. On the left are the stairs leading down to the basement (with yet another brilliant shade of aqua) and on the right are the stairs leading up to the attic.

The bathroom wasn’t safe from destruction either. No insulation here either, though we did find some nice old razor blades in the wall.

Meanwhile my brother-in-law rests after helping haul out the cast iron tub. I’m very thankful no one asked me to help haul that thing.

Next, we installed new windows and had an electrician come out to install new lights and upgrade the existing electrical to work with modern appliances. I have two brother-in-laws and one worked as a plumber and the other worked in HVAC so both were able to help us out with the necessary plumbing and ductwork changes. After that we were ready to drywall.

You can see here that we built onto an old wall on the right of the screen. This is actually where the original kitchen door stood. In that nook we built we planned to fit in a full sized range, fridge, and even cabinetry.

This is the same wall where that awful sink and toilet once stood. Is drywall better than pink tile?

Find out how we decided to fill the space in tomorrow’s post.

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16 Jan
2012
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The Kitchen Before

To show you my kitchen I have to show you it in stages. When we first saw the house, the kitchen wasn’t in very good shape. Don’t believe me?

This was the view from the old doorway. There was a soffit wasting valuable space, and very few cabinets.

Even this side wasted space. And the color, ugh!

Over here we had an old stove, no counter, and a space so small that a specially-sized fridge used to be here.

The sink wasn’t bad but the counters could use some work.

The cabinets left something to be desired both inside and out.

We started thinking about how to manage the kitchen and what to do with it. The room was closed off and down a little hallway, it wasn’t big enough to hold a fridge, and it needed a makeover. When we thought about it, there was an obvious solution.

The bathroom next door also had a problem. It was tiny. So tiny I could reach from my place in the bathtub in the photo above and touch the mirror without even leaning forward.

So tiny that the linen cabinet inside of it had a notch cut out of the door so it could open without hitting the bathtub or entrance door.

Not to mention that the bathtub could use some work

The tile wasn’t exactly my #1 choice

And don’t even get me started on the toilet or sink.

When it came down to it, it was a fairly easy choice to make. The kitchen was opening up. Unfortunately, that was the last time anything about the kitchen was easy. Tomorrow I’ll show you what a home renovation looks like.

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6 Jan
2012
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Dining Room Makeover

Our dining room has been less of a dining room and more of a storage room for all of our renovation projects since we’ve started this whole crazy makeover. I can breathe a huge sigh of relief now that it’s all done, or at least mostly done. Here’s the room before so you can see where we started from.

Before

You might remember this shot from the living room post. It’s a view into the dining room from the living room on the day we first toured the house. The junk is leftover after the house was abandoned.

This is the view from the dining room into the old hallway. The door you see in the back was to the bathroom and the chimes you see are from the doorbell. On the baseboard you’ll catch a glimpse of our air vent.

This is a view from that same hallway into the dining room. The door there lead to the original homeowner’s office/business and the curtains were not my first choice. Here’s a closeup of that light though:

Cool story about this light: my mother-in-law’s grandparents gave this light to the original homeowners (my MIL’s aunt and uncle) as a wedding gift. During our renovation we decided to swap the light for another so we cleaned this one up and gave it to her for Christmas. Now she has a lovely antique that’s been in her family for years and we don’t feel guilty for going more modern.

In Between

When my husband first moved in he had a new pathway cut to allow access to our new bathroom. One day I’ll get a floor plan up here to show how drastically we changed the layout. We had the path cut with an archway to mimic the arches found in the rest of our home. He also painted the walls a deep rose color that just ended up being too much color for such a small space.

We ended up replacing the windows and doors in the house and that required some new trim and some patching. We have plaster walls so they can crack from all the shifting so we patched that too. Do you spy the new baseboards too?

Now

The view into the dining room from the living room

The old and the new archways. We’ve added some color to the doorbell, we’re testing a new air vent color, and the magnolia tree art is by my uncle.

The view from each of the archways back into the room. You can see the table makeover here. The wall color is Sharkey Gray by Martha Stewart for Home Depot. I used the Glidden paint they were already phasing in and I have to say the coverage was incredible. The light was from Lowes, the curtain rod and curtains are from Ikea and so is the hutch. Here is a closer view:

The hutch is actually the Edland linen cabinet from Ikea.

Here’s the view from the office back into the living room. You can see how many rooms lead into the dining room and why we wanted a light color to open the place up. The room is so bright that we added the tangier rug from the Martha Stewart collection at Home Decorators Collection to soften the place up. If you’ve never bought from them they offer coupons and discounts quite regularly and they’re affiliated with Home Depot. They even have a store based in St. Louis (and Atlanta) if you’re local.

To Do List

We’re mostly done but we still have a few more steps to make this room complete.

  • Finish painting the air vent since it’s supposed to warm enough to have the heat off this weekend
  • Paint the new door (it’s only primed right now)
  • Decorate above the hope chest. I’m thinking shelves, art, or maybe a mirror.
  • Refinish the hope chest. It has sustained some damage along the way so it’ll need some work and if it wants to stay in this room it needs to fit the look of the room.
  • Add some color. We just need some warmth and more accessories so it doesn’t look so stark.
  • Wash and hem curtains
  • Order blinds
  • Repaint ceiling. I’m waiting until all 3 rooms that open into each other are finished before I paint.
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9 Dec
2011

Gift Ideas: The DIY Diva

I’ve started moving up from craft projects to DIY projects. My husband is a bit of a This Old House addict so we’re never short on tools in our house. I first started “borrowing” some of his tools but recently I’ve made some purchases of my own. Here are some of my top gift ideas for that home renovation junkie or HGTV fan.

Christmas Gifts for the DIY Diva

DEWALT D26441K 1/4-Sheet Pad Sander
I used my last sander so much that it died in front of me. My new Dewalt sander hasn’t seen the same fate. I use it to sand out the uneven walls in my house, decorative projects, and even when I refinished a table. If you plan on refinishing furniture this is a must-have tool.

Martha Stewart Crafts Dual Temperature Glue Gun
How did people live before glue guns? I’m sure you can see the many fine points of a glue gun but I’ve used mine on fixing up furniture, household items, decorating for parties, or even on my wedding invitations. This one is dual-temp so you can use it on wood or metal or even something delicate like silk flowers.

Great Neck Saw 128 Pieces Tool Set
Know someone just starting out? This is the perfect kit for a new homeowner or someone who is looking to start their first home project. If you know someone looking to build up a tool supply, this kit is perfect. Among its many items are a glue gun, a staple gun, an adjustable wrench, 4 screwdrivers, clamps, and even picture hanging accessories.

9 Amp 7-1/4 in. Mitre Saw
Having a mitre saw has changed our house. If you plan on doing trim work or even designing your own frame then a mitre saw is incredibly useful. Prices have dropped in recent years and this one is on sale for the holidays so if you know someone looking to add finishing touches to their home this is a perfect gift idea.

Martha Stewart Living Tester Sampler Interior Latex Paint, 14 Pack
Know someone whose more of the painting type? I’m a recent convert to the Martha Stewart paint line at Home Depot. I’ve painted my kitchen with her cornbread shade and I’ve got 2 more of her colors selected for future projects. I think anyone looking to paint their walls or even their furniture will like these samples to give them a good starting color.

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8 Dec
2011
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House Tour: Living Room

In 2006 my husband bought a house. It used to be his great-aunt’s house and she built it with her husband in the early 1940s. Her husband died in the late 1960s and she relied on family to help her keep up with the house but eventually her health failed and she needed to move into a nursing home.

That’s where my husband comes in. The family was looking to liquidate her estate quickly and my husband got the house for a low low price, knowing it needed tons of work. I joined in on some projects and in 2007 we got married and the house became our baby.Since then we’ve done some crazy renovations (brand new kitchen), some major maintenance (refinish floors, new roof, windows, doors), and some in between projects that basically made a room livable for the moment. One of those rooms is the living room.

Before

Above are some shots of the living room on the day we were first given a chance to tour it, circa January 2006. It’s a bit trashed as the family was in the process of moving out all the valuables and they sort of decided leaving a trash-filled house was a great housewarming gift. I don’t even know. My husband was taking measurements of the wall in the first shot. In the second shot you can see into the dining room and also see some places where cracks had been repaired. I remember really liking this room for its fireplace and hardwood floors.

During

In these shots it’s Spring 2006 and my husband was now the home’s owner. We set to work painting the living room a green shade called Gold Infusion. You can see all the original trim and windows here and even the original door. The front door ended up having to be replaced due to a burglary and the fact that it had no insulation. Our new door works great though and will hopefully keep the burglars out as well as that old front door did (which it did, they had to try another door) so it wasn’t a total loss.

Currently

This is our house currently. Would you believe I took these photos during the middle of the brightest day last week? We’ve had some seriously gray days lately so I’ll be updating these photos soon.

If this room looks like a work-in-progress, that’s because it is. We plan to do some major makeovers this winter before planting season (when we’ll switch to the outdoors) so I wanted to give you a rough and dirty look at our current living room. To give you an idea of what we’re planning, here’s my pinterest page for the room.

To Do List

  • Finish baseboard trim in the entire room
  • Trim out the windows
  • Trim out the fireplace and build a new fireplace mantel
  • Paint all the trim
  • Repaint walls
  • Repaint ceiling (the whole house needs it but we’re waiting till this room is done so it all flows nicely)
  • Buy new bamboo shades and hang
  • Install our new curtains from Ikea
  • Rearrange furniture
  • Rearrange wall art
  • Put in some sort of shelving on arch wall
  • Work on entry station
  • Buy new lights
  • Replace all wall switches and outlets with new color
  • Redo vent covers in the room
  • Get an end table (depends on room rearrangement)
  • Buy accessories to complete room
  • Create a dramatic mantel display
  • Figure out what to do with random chair in room (relocate, reupholster?)

So if you’re up for a fun time, stick around and watch our room begin to transform itself. I’ll be posting some other rooms soon. You might notice in the current living room photos that we’re patching in the dining room and there’s a new interior door. The dining room makeover is already underway and the kitchen makeover is nearly done. I’ll be showing them off soon enough so stick around.

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