Tag Archives: Low Budget Remodel

Dreams in Progress


I promised on Thursday that I would focus on some of my other dreams. So here it is. Things I dream about that aren’t related to my writing…

Renovating my kitchen! While I was recovering from my broken ankle and the 2 surgeries it required, I did a lot of day dreaming. I’d churn out my writing goal for the day and then crack open a decorating magazine. I had yet to discover blogs. I soothed myself with promises of my someday kitchen, I mapped out my dream kitchen layout, my favorite countertops and hardware color. Needless to say I irritated my husband greatly and my friends kept supplying me with magazines. Two years later, I’ve got a whole Pinterest board devoted to this topic.

Just like anything else I do, I’ve mapped out some goals for myself. After all, a dream kitchen takes money and time. I found the kitchen of my dreams when I bought my house, it just needs some updates. I’m currently working on, what I affectionately call, phase 1. I ripped down the wall paper, painted the walls, I’m ordering new light fixtures today and I’ll be replacing the cabinet hardware soon. I also plan on re-staining my dining table and benches. The goal is to have this phase completed by Thanksgiving since I will be hosting it for my extended family this year. This is a first for me, so naturally I’m panicking. Of course, I’ll be sure to put all the gory details on the blog next month.

Phase 2 is the phase that will cost the most, that’s where I finally get new counter tops. I’ve always pictured white quartz counters with dark cabinets but the other day at Lowes, I saw a white granite with black and gray speckles that made me swoon, so we’ll see. I also want to stain my cabinets a darker color, I don’t want to replace them because I actually think the kitchen was well laid out and I like the ones I have, just not the color (the wood tone is almost orange and the lower cabinets are faded). I’ll cap this phase off with a new sink and faucet. I estimate this phase will cost around $5000. The goal date for that is 1 year, around tax season. The final phase will be new flooring. We’re waiting to do this because we are planning on doing our living room, hallway and kitchen all at once in 3 years (right before we have our oldest daughter’s graduation party).

Now that I’ve spent more time then I intended on my kitchen dreams, I’ll more briefly tell you about some of my other dreams. Traveling, we haven’t been on vacation in almost 5 years. Money was tight and it just wasn’t a priority. My husband and I agree about this dream.  The Bahamas are great for some people but we’ve often discussed taking a Mediterranean cruise or traveling through England, Ireland and Scotland. I’ve also always wanted to visit Germany and the Czech Republic. Those Viking River Cruises through Europe sound nice. I also dream of having an income closer to my husband’s. I believe furthering my education and turning my passion for writing into a career will help me achieve that.

My most important dream isn’t for me. It’s for my children. I want all my children to be happy and chase their own dreams instead of just trying to fit in. I love to guess who they will grow up to be based on the talents I see immerging and there interests, but I try really hard not to push that on them.

That was kind of lot. But then, I’m a dreamer and I proud of that. If you’re new to this blog, welcome! If you checked me out from my link on the Nesting Place, I really appreciate your visit! Please comment, I would love the feedback.

Interrupting Your Regularly Scheduled Dream…


I had this great post planned for day 1. Unfortunately I had another project (and some other things) take a full day longer than planned. As it turns out it is related to another dream I have. We bought this great house and from the day we put in the offer I started day dreaming about taking down plaid wall paper. We moved in we settled into life but I didn’t forget. Everyday that wall paper haunted my dreams and challenged me. Then Mom dropped the bomb. Thanksgiving is at my new house this year. So I did it.


I day dreamed about doing a project all day while I was at work. When I got home Saturday, I pulled out the ladder and went to town. Two hours later it was all down and it dawned on me that I needed to paint. It’s a big kitchen. Three days later I’m done and now I’m relaxing. So while this isn’t exactly about dreaming I at least didn’t start the challenge by missing the first day!

So stay tuned…Tomorrow I promise you a better post. Tomorrow I’ll explain what happened in my life that made me start dabbling in my day dreams. Anyway now you know, this blog is about writing but it’s about other stuff too, because that’s life. If you stopped by from the Nesting Place, thanks for coming! I hope you comeback for more.

(P.S. I’m in Iowa, day one isn’t over. I’m on central time!)

What Goes Up


Things are happening! It’s been a VERY busy week and serious progress has been made. But we can’t talk about that yet. As soon as a few more details have been ironed out, I promise to spill the beans

Until then, I thought I’d share what the girls and I managed to get accomplished last weekend. Along with packing the dining room and filling nail holes, we finally did something about the kitchen ceiling! Let me just say BIG check mark by the list.

The previous owners put a drop ceiling in our kitchen. I didn’t love it but I’ll say it’s been convenient. When the upstairs bath tub needed some plumbing work, it was easy for the plumber to take down a couple of tiles instead of cutting a huge hole in our ceiling. Unfortunately water seemed to be attracted to that ceiling. First my son flooded the toilet and water came raining down into my kitchen(not a good day), then we had the tub drain issue. The last thing you want to hear when your taking the first bath in your newly remodeled bathroom is, “Mom there’s water pouring out of the ceiling!”

I had to do something. I wanted to go with the really nice vinyl ceiling tiles. I checked out the Ceilume web site and I have to say that I’m impressed. I needed a 24 inch by 24 inch tile. I happen to like the Stratford tile. I found them locally, for $7.95 each. The online price was $5.95 but I decided after shipping it would likely balance out. Then I ran the numbers, $254 to fix the ceiling! I got real with myself. If I was fixing this for my taste and for me to continue owning this house then that’s not bad and I would happily pay it. However, that’s not what I’m doing. To sell it, I’m just not willing to spend that much. The same home improvement store that had the vinyl tiles, also had regular tiles priced a little over $30 for a box of 16 (sorry I didn’t write down the exact price). I bought 2 boxes and called it a day.

I owe my tallest step daughter a big thank you because Sunday this was the scene at my house…

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I would not have been able to do this without her. I am so short my fingertips barely grazed the top of the ceiling, even with my ladder. As you can see from the second picture I “tried” to put some in. She has 4 inches on my easy and had no problem. We worked out a pretty good system. She took them down, I loaded them in garbage bags, handed her the new tile and she put it up. We did the whole tiles first. The she took down all the odd-shaped tiles. I took them out to the porch and used them as a template. I traced the shape onto the back of the new tile with a permanent marker. I used a serrated steak knife and sawed off the excess. I carried them back to the kitchen and she put the new tile up. This process took about 2 hours but at the end…


It’s hard to tell since I forgot to take a before picture, so you’ll have to take my word for it, but it really is a big improvement. It just looks clean and since we are hoping to not live here much longer, that’s what I need. That’s it for now but I promise I’ll be back with more soon!

Small Victories!


In the immortal words of Clueless, “not a total Betty but a vast improvement.” That’s right the girls and I have knocked a chunk off The List. While it’s only a small portion of The List, I’m far enough behind schedule, thanks to my sickness enforced weekend off, that I’m celebrating the small victories.


Let’s recap just what this section of the list looked like shall we.

Girl’s Bedroom

· Paint the trim and walls

· Take down all art

· Hang Mirrors

· Update light fixture

· Curtains

· Change up the beds/bedding

· Purge/Pack whole room

· Purge/Pack Closet

The first step in this project was the paint and let me tell you, it was the biggest impact. The girls and I attacked it as a team. While I was at work the girls prepped the space and started purging. When I got home we started with the trim. Right away we had a hiccup. The room had brown painted trim and doors which I had intended to prime before I painted white. When I opened the primer, it was the consistency of cottage cheese. No amount of stirring would save it so we moved on.

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The trim and doors took far longer than the walls did. However, I would say they had the biggest pay off. I spent hours crawling along the floor, painting. The girls helped but I soon discovered I worked faster down low, while my tallest step daughter, who stands nearly 4 inches taller than me, took the window trim and door trim. I did the doors while everyone had lunch. Three coats later, we were finally ready to start the walls.


We worked together and divided the work. I used my handy Shureline edger and made my way around the room while my younger daughter painted low and my older daughter painted high. Then while 2 of us attacked the second coat, my older and (as I mentioned) taller daughter used the edger to paint up next to the ceiling. Some how we managed to finish and put the beds back together just before midnight.

Right now you’re thinking “you let them sleep in those paint fumes!” Rest assured I thought of that. Because we had to keep living in the space and it’s still to cold to air out the room, we opted for Olympic brand No VOC paint in eggshell. I have to say I am very pleased and the girls commented that it was the least smelly paint they’ve ever sniffed. I couldn’t bring myself to do white walls with the crisp white trim. So for color the girls and I chose “Silver Feather” for our white trim and “Silver Sand” which is a nice warm grey with a slight pink undertone to it. Both colors are by Olympic which is available at Lowes.

Next came the light fixture update, much to the girls relief. They have hated this green thing forever and it just didn’t fit in with our pretty walls.



It had good bones but needed some TLC. I hit up the lighting department at Lowes and came home with a few things, including new glass globes at $4 each and a new pull chain, also for $4. So for a grand total of $16…


Isn’t it amazing how much better it is? If I had purchased a new one I would have spent $30 or $40 easy and it’s neutral to fit in with anyone’s decor.

The bedding and the curtains happened today. I did a little hunting and I found some old curtains I was no longer using. I’m not 100% sold on these curtains. I may end up at the store on grocery day buying plain white panels. You’ll see why in a minute. In the mean time, I hung them on tension rods inside the window frame. I couldn’t stand to cover up the beautiful trim work. For me it was a selling point of our home. I’m hoping buyers will agree with me.

I did a lot of scouting for this bedding. I wanted 2 matching comforters and one of the girls hates flowers.  I finally settled on a aqua, yellow and grey chevron from Target’s room essentials line. I ended up having to go to both Targets in town to get them but the girls were so happy with my choice that it’s worth it. Having the matching bedding really helps the room to look less cluttered.

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The bedding looks great with the ombre dressers that me and the girls painted several months ago but not so great with the curtains. What do you think? White curtains, black or yellow? I’m leaning towards white since it’s only until we sell.

Other than the curtains I am so pleased. It’s not a highly decorated room. I’m not putting in that kind of effort until we are in the new home. Then lookout because the girls and I have been squirreling away some great things for the “Teen Room” as I’ve started to call it.  For our purposes here we were just going for cleaned up and uncluttered kid room. I knew I achieved that when one of the girls made the comment “some one finally let in the light.”

Have you every painted a room and instantly felt lighter? Have you recently done any small updates that had a big impact? If so tell me about it!

Best Laid Plans


I had grand plans for what I could accomplish in one weekend. I really did. I was going to get the dining room list completely knocked out and start on the upstairs hallway list. Have you ever heard the saying “men plan and god laughs”? That was my house this weekend. I came down with strep throat and the baby had an ear infection. I spent the entire weekend sick on the sofa trying to take care of the baby from a safe difference.

Since I can’t show you anything new I’ve done, I thought I’d show you a project we did to improve our home a couple of years ago. I scrapbook so I photograph everything! So this is a look back at our upstairs bathroom reno.


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The upstairs bathroom was a plain white box that needed to be brought to life and I was up to the task. It’s hard to tell from the pictures but this room has the same amazing woodwork that the down stairs has but was painted white like the rest of the room. I knew this called for a little sweat equity. I suited up…

Stripping Gear

Armed with paint stripper, I used Klean-Strip KS-3 Premium Stripper (in an orange can), and a hand scraper I started on the inside of the bathroom door (after I took down the towel bar). For those who have never done it, you paint on the stripper with a cheep brush (now is not the time to use your nice paint brushes), wait 15 minutes, and start scraping.

Hard at Work

After a week of hand scrapping I was frustrated. My very wise Uncle Frank suggested I invest in an oscillating tool. So off I went to the local home improvement store. We have 3 and I shop at all of them.  He suggested and I purchased a Rockwell 2.3 amp oscillating tool and attachment kit. I don’t recall what I paid for mine but I can tell you Lowe’s currently has a 73 piece kit listed for $149. Mine came with a scraper attachment and I quickly made progress.

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At this point I took a little break to go shopping and chose new fixtures and flooring.

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Sorry no picture of the flooring sample, but I wasn’t planning a blog at the time. I will say we went with an 18 x 18 peel and stick vinyl tiles and hired my Uncle and his friend to install the flooring and our sink. I will say I was very willing and excited to do this myself but my husband did not have confidence in my mad skills and over ruled me. Once they were done my dad came over to install me new wall sconces. Again my husband decided I was not to be trusted but I couldn’t possibly leave the crazy glamour bulb fixture circa 1980. YUCK!

Then I was allowed to return to work painting and staining. I didn’t feel the need to match the woodwork down stairs or the hallway. I wanted this room to stand out. I went with Minwax “Jacobean 2750”. As you’ll see it’s a very rich, deep color. I didn’t exactly follow directions applying it. I did use a wood conditioner as directed. It was then recommended to paint the stain on, going with the grain and wipe it off. When I did this I didn’t feel that the color was dark enough. So I painted it on and then just left the room to let it dry. It turned out great!

Because this is a bathroom and some of the wood is right next to the shower, I used a water-resistant sealer. I chose Minwax Helmsman Semi-Gloss Spar Varnish because it’s water-resistant and works with temperature changes, ideal for the humidity changes in my bathroom.

After that I caulked and painted. We used Valspar paint. For the lower half of the wall I painted it “Linen”, the upper portion of the wall is an olive color that they called “Barrell”, finally the chair rail and bathroom cabinet were painted “Cloth”.


I finished up with the fun details. I hung an oil bronze towel bar on the back of the bathroom door, a hand towel ring, and new outlet cover. Instead of a curtain I chose a cordless accordion blind in off white. After putting all that work into the molding, I just couldn’t bring myself to hide it behind a curtain. With a little elbow grease, family helpers and $1000 I had a bathroom I was proud of…


We finished this upgrade in the spring of 2011. I hope you enjoyed this look into my house. The girls are home and I’ve started to feel better so tomorrow we’re back to the list. I’ll be sure to fill you in on all the madness that ensues.