We are a young couple remodeling our first house...one outdated / ugly thing at a time. This blog documents our remodel projects and ideas.


You Are Mine...

I have a confession...I am a copy-cat. Not the bad cheat-off-your-neighbor's-test type of copy-cat. I'm more like a knockoff-copy-cat. In other words, I try to make it before buying. Now this doesn't apply to everything, but if there is even a chance that I could whip up something like the item of my affection for a fraction of the cost, then consider me a bonafide copy-cat.

So while drooling over the Z Gallerie online catalog, I spied this $80 (on sale) little gem of a vase just begging to be copy-catted:
Click here to view larger image

And I am always up to the challenge. Especially when the gem is from a store that I can't visit in the flesh - I'm a touchy-feely buyer and want to get my hands on it before committing. Anyways, I can easily get something similar without having to travel out-of-state to visit the store.

To make your own eucalyptus vase, you will need eucalyptus, a vase, hot glue sticks and gun, and spray paint.

First you need to pluck the leave off the eucalyptus. Just grab a branch between your index and middle finger and pull up, stripping the branch of the leaves. Next, glue the leaves to the vase. I started at the bottom of the vase and worked my way to the top. Do one side at a time. Don't glue the leaves completely flat to the vase, try to just glue a piece down so the vase will have some texture to it. And don't be perfect with the leaves, just glue and go.
After you have all four sides leaved (just made that word up), inspect the vase to see if there are any bare spots. If you want, add a extra leaf to the bare spot.

Final step in this knock-off is to spray paint, aka my addiction.

Project cost breakdown:
Vase             $1
Eucalyptus    $3
Hot Glue       $0, already owned
Spray Paint   $2.49 on sale
Total            $6.49

Cha-ching! Just saved me $73.50 by copy-catting this vase. Granted, mine is a lot smaller than the 24" inspiration and more fish-scale like instead of suction cup like. But it is mine. The eucalyptus vase also comes in a bowl...might have to make one of those next.  I am starting to become the queen of knockoffs.


The Homies

Y'all are so sweet...really! I was looking on Apartment Therapy and saw that I was nominated in the Homies. That is awesome and amazing all at the same time that you think I even deserve to be nominated. I am just a little girl in a heavy hitter blogging world. And to come in around the 70th place out of 100's of nominations has made my month, maybe even year. You see, this baby blog of mine is only a few months old so to even be nominated with names like Young House Love, Bower Power, Centsational Girl, and The Lettered Cottage is super duper! So this is a big ol' thank you and you are my hero wrapped into one.


And head on over and cast your vote for the winner.

I'm Dreaming of a...

... colorful house. If you have looked at the pictures of the house, then you might have noticed one thing - most of the rooms are the same color. Why? Because we haven't changed the color of a single room in the house. This is not by my choosing. I LOVE color and would have multiple colors of paint in my house. I grew up in a house with a different color in every room. It is fun and a cheap/easy way to express your personality and change a room.

But alas, changing paint colors is the one thing the hubby said no about.

Before we moved in, the house was repainted to its current color scheme - the whopping two colors, plus a trim color. I am thankful for this pre-us repainting because it used to have floral wallpaper, school bus yellow bathrooms, and a navy blue kitchen. There are tell-tale signs of it everywhere, none of which are visible to you. These signs are found when moving kitchen cabinets over 3", or behind a bathroom mirror or toilet that is no more, or removing mini-blind brackets.
See the navy blue the kitchen used to be? It is where we removed the back splash.
And the old teal/aqua color of the dining room was discovered when we removed the chair rail.
Where am I going with this? I miss color. I need color. If I had my choice, I would go to town painting the house. But since that won't happen, I find myself dreaming of color. Here are some of my favorite paint swatches at the moment:

This swatch is so calming and serene, even the names make me smile. I could see these colors in multiple spaces around my house. And although the Man Cave isn't painted, one of the primary accent colors is a blue-ish gray like Polar Ice. Also, pair these colors with some dark wood and comfy towels and your bathroom becomes and instant spa.

Hello...margaritas and snow cones, sold! However, I would never paint any walls in my house Margarita or Snow Cone Green. They are a little too out there even for me. But Fresh Cut Grass is calling my name. It is the perfect tint of green without being margarita-ish. And Apple Green, you are the cutest color for a little girl's room - trust me on this one, my niece's room is this color and it is amazingly great!

This one might surprise you a little. Although I like all the colors on this swatch, it is the darkest Vintage Vogue that really caught my eye. Wouldn't this color be great for an office, or a moody bedroom with pops of white accents?!

And one more. Gotta get the girly colors in here too. Once again, it it the darkest El Cajon Clay that had me at hello. I have always loved a dark eggplant color and this one suits me just fine. This would look great in my sun room with all the natural light and white trim.

Well, I won't be painting any time soon. My darling scrooge husband likes the mono-tone, every room the same color so it flows look. All I can think of is - boring! I do understand that this is not our forever-home and we need to keep resell in mind, but I want to throw caution to the wind and have some fun and put some color on the walls. Might just have to do this one weekend while he is out hunting. I am infamous around here for starting projects while he isn't home. And before I forget, all the colors are from Benjamin Moore.

So are you stuck with the same paint colors throught the house like me? Do you dream of a colorful house? Or have you taken the plunge and painted without the blessing of your significant other?


Mantel Building

When it came time to finish the fireplace remodel, I didn't even think about purchasing a mantel. I knew that I wanted to build it, with the enlisted help of my parentals. And when my dad asked me what plans we were going to use, I hand him this:
Yes, the official mantel building plans are just doodling on a paper towel. Nice, huh? I want to keep the mantel simple and chunky. No fancy detailing or bulls eye corners allowed here. And the size will be kept to a minimum because of the wall space and no more hearth. The old mantel, if you can call it that, was a board that stuck out of the wall with two skinny pieces of trim and bulls eye corner pieces. Basically, I want the complete opposite of what we used to have:
Armed with the official plans and a few measurements, we were ready to build the mantel. Well, I was ready to assist in the mantel building. I have never built a mantel before, so I was the apprentice in this endeavor. We headed off to Lowe's to purchase the lumber for the project. Basically the mantel is built out of 1x4's, a piece of ornate crown molding (or moulding, I still don't know which one it is) and two different types of trim. But before I get ahead of myself, the old fireplace was demoed and I tiled a new surround:
And this is not a "how-to build a mantel" post. I'm just showing you how I saved some money and boosted my DIY confidence by building a mantel instead of buying one. The first step in building the mantel was installing the side/upright pieces. These are simply two 1x4's stacked on top of each other for depth - it was cheaper to stack them than to buy a chunkier piece of lumber. And the feet are 1x6's stacked for depth. Simple. Next came the top of the mantel. This is simply a piece of crown molding with stacked 1x4's on top of it to make the shelf. And then we added some decorative trim around the top of the feet. Ta da, instant mantel. Now you see why I said this wasn't a how-to build a mantel post.

Anyways, let's get on to the pictures. This is my dad nailing in the crown molding. You can see the 1x4's that we used for the sides.

And here, the final touches are being made. The trim is installed around the top of the feet and the 1x4's are stacked on top of the crown molding. This mantel is ready to be caulked and painted.

Fast forward through the caulking and painting because it isn't interesting and here is the finished mantel:

Oh happy day. We built a mantel! We actually built a mantel. And I love it. The total costs for this project was way under $100, like in the $80 range. Compare that to one that I would have bought and we are talking a savings of about $400. Cha-ching!


Paint It Black

This project makes me think of the car insurance commercial - I just saved a ton of money by.... Well, I did save a ton of money, but not by switching my car insurance. I painted my fireplace doors black instead of buying new ones. Nothing earth shattering, but it was super easy to do and worth a blog post to share about because of the money savings.

But let me back up for a second and remind you of what the fireplace doors were looking like before I painted them black:
They are in great shape; however, with the no-gold/brass mission going on around the house these doors aren't floating my boat anymore. There are two options to fixing the problem at hand - replace or paint. And in keeping with my cheap-o mentality, I pick paint. Besides, if they turn out to look like dog doo-doo I can always save my pennies and buy some new doors later. (But you already know that they turned out great!)

O-tay, there are only four things you need to paint the fireplace doors: painters tape, a paint brush, high-temp paint, and something to protect the floor - I used newspaper.
And there are only two steps to this project - tape and paint. Yep, it is that easy. Just use the painters tape to mask off the edges and the glass. Then paint everything black. I did three light coats of black paint to make sure that all the brass was covered. And I'm sure you know this if you have a fireplace, but the doors can come off the hinge and fold out so they are easier to paint. Like this:
That's all folks. This is probably the fastest, easiest and cheapest project with the biggest bang for the buck to date. New fireplace doors cost hundreds of dollars and all I had to buy was a little can of paint. I couldn't be happier with the "new" doors.

Have you painted your fireplace doors, or anything else lately to save a ton of money? Are you on a de-gold/brass mission too?

Psss - Wanna read about the entire fireplace makeover? Learn how to tile the surround here and see what the original fireplace looked like here.


The Thrift Gift

We might not have a lot of decorating stores in Arkansas, but we do have a ton of thrift stores and flea markets...which is a major plus especially for a cheapo like me. I have already talked about my love of thrift store trolling and I want to pass this love of thrifting onto everyone. However, when I suggest checking the thrift store for the lamp or item they're looking for, I am returned with either blank stares or a grimace. Why is that? I'm told that thrift stores only have left overs. Excuse me...you just plain don't know how to shop at a thrift store. Well lucky you, I'm going to tell how I shop thrift stores so maybe it will be easier for you to find a treasure.

Break it down - At first glance, a thrift store might seem a little overwhelming. But it doesn't have to be. Take the store aisle-by-aisle and then row-by-row. You want to look at everything. Most of the good items won't be on eye-level at the front of the shelf shining in a take-me-home glow...they will be hidden away in the back or on the bottom shelf. Like this amazing red vase, only $2:

Think outside the box - You see bar stools, I see a desk. You see a filing cabinet, I see a Kcup drawer holder. You see kitchen cabinet doors, I see a panel headboard. The key is to repurpose and reuse.

Spray paint - The most ugly, worn-out, pitiful piece of furniture can instantly be transformed into a show stopper with a coat of spray paint. Just make sure that it has "good bones" first, and then the cosmetic stuff can easily be fixed.

Game Plan - Get to know your local thrift stores because they are not all alike. One might have a great selection of books and glassware and another have better baskets and trinkets. Make a game plan and visit multiple thrift stores to find the best treasures.

So, how do you thrift? What are your pointers? Have you found any great bargains? Or repurposed an item into something that suits you?


Open 'Er Up

My kitchen is great! Open floor plan, large window above the sink, lots of work space and cabinets....maybe a few too many cabinets. We have some that hang from the ceiling and separates the dining room from the kitchen and puts a serious damper on the open floor plan:
It is not a good thing having cabinets separating the dining room and kitchen. You have to practically bend over and touch your toes to see into the other room. And I can't forget to mention how many times we have hit our heads on the corner of the cabinets...ouch! Yes, the storage was nice, but not nice enough to keep the cabinets around. These no-good cabinets need to come out, pronto.
After some quick demo work, the cabinets and vent-a-hood are no more. We had hoped to remove the header that the cabinets were on so there would be no break between the dining room and kitchen. However, when we got up in the attic to pull the vent-a-hood wire, there was a huge hole in the ceiling! Once again the builders took the cheap way and punched a hole in the ceiling to get the wire down instead of a nice little hole. And since I don't know how to match our ceiling texture or feel like patching a massive hole, the header must stay. Here is what the space is looking like without the hanging cabinets:
Much more open. (Ignore the shirtless hubby) And after I paint the header, the plan is to add three pendant lights over the bar and a matching pendant over the sink. I'm loving how much more open and inviting the kitchen is now.

Have you demoed cabinets to open up a space? Are you remodeling your kitchen on a non-existent budget?


DIY Panel Headboard

I recently talked about our new memory foam mattress for the master bedroom and moving the "old" mattress into the guest room. However, what I didn't show or tell was that there was no headboard for the guest bed...just a queen sized mattress pushed against a blank wall. This stand-alone mattress did not create the most welcoming guest bedroom, so a new headboard was pushed to the top of my "must-buy" list. I have been on the look out for a headboard ever since and there is one particular style that I keep going back to - a panel headboard with clean lines and routered detail. And after much searching, I found one that I love, but I am not willing to fork over the $420 for: 
That is the look I want, but I am a total cheap-o and sometimes that means making it. This headboard is no exception. Yes, I am going to make my own panel headboard. My original DIY plan was to take a raised panel door, ladder style, and turn it on its side for the start of a headboard. That plan failed when my local Habitat ReStore was out of the needed door style. Back to square one. But while leaving the store, I walk past a pile of kitchen cabinet doors...with routered detail, and clean lines. Perfect!

And just so you know, I am not a builder and probably shouldn't be allowed to use power tools without supervision - I get a little too confident and everything gets a good dose of power-tool even if it doesn't need it. Also, this was a trial-and-error build and if I had asked for help, it probably would have been built totally different. (I did this DIY one afternoon before the hubby got home from work. I'm crazy like that.) This is not a step-by-step tutorial...remember, this was trial-and-error.

Step 1 - Measure. Determine how wide the headboard should be. Since I am building this one for a queen mattress, and am going to have the outer posts go all the way to the floor for extra support, my inside (between the posts) measurement is 65". The height measurement is personal preference - how high do you want the headboard to be?

Step 2 - Frame. This frame is the base for the headboard. I built the frame according to the measurements taken in step 1. Lay the frame out square on the ground and screw together. (If you have a nail gun, use it.)

Step 3 - Legs. 4x4 posts make up the legs. Cut them to the wanted height, making sure to measure extra for the top where the caps will go. Secure these to the sides of the frame.

Step 4 - Doors. My cabinet doors had to be cut down to the same length since they were not all the same. Pre-drill holes into the doors so the screws will be counter-sunk. Secure these doors to the frame with screws. 

Step 5 - Trim. Put the top header trim  in place - I used wood glue. Next put the down trim in place to cover up the space between the cabinet doors and the posts. Finally put the lower trim in place. Next, add the decorative post caps to the top of the posts.

Step 6 - Top Shelf. Final step is to install the top shelf. Cut a 1x4 and place it horizontally on top of the cabinet doors and header trim. Secure. 

Step 7 - Caulk and Paint. Here is the headboard with the primer coat. And Paris modeling like a Price Is Right babe. I added two coats of paint to finish it.

I installed my headboard the cheap and easy way. And I wasn't going to wait for help to install it any other way. I screwed some hook-rings to the back of the 4x4 posts and then installed heavy-duty gorilla hooks into the wall. Place the hook-rings onto the gorilla hooks and it is installed. Easy.
There it is. I love the headboard even though it is far from perfect. But for my first DIY alone build, I don't think it is too shabby at all. I think I might cut some from the bottom of the posts so the headboard will go behind the mattress instead of hitting flush with the top of the mattress. Live and learn.

Have you ever built what you wanted to save some money? Or do you bite the bullet and pay for it?


My Honey-Do List

Yes, you read that right...my honey-do list. I thought that if I posted my DIY remodel list on the blog for everyone to see, I would be more likely to actually follow through and do them. So, without further ado, here are the things I want to finish in 2011:
  • Garage - it is an unorganized death trap for anything not welcome in the house. My car and the motorcycle are parked in there, but so is a lot of other stuff. It has become so bad that there is a path to the door. The garage needs to be emptied and whipped into shape.
  • Curb Appeal - we have hardly touched the outside of the house. The flower beds are full of weeds and monkey grass, both of which need to go. I also think a new paint color for the shutters and front door would look better than hunter green. And a slew of other improvements need to be made.
  • Laundry Room - more of a hallway than a room. The laundry room is a tight space and I need to improve the functionality of it.
  • Master Suite - the most relaxing room in the house is actually the catch-all. Our master has a nice sitting area that is not used for sitting, it is a make-shift laundry folding/sorting area. Not anymore, I plan to make the master a relaxing, stress-free zone.
  • Guest Bath - a total overhaul. The plan is a new floor, new vanity and sink, and new light fixtures - all on a cheap budget.
  • Guest Bedroom - this room is far from guest welcoming. But with a little thrifty DIY-love, it will be a 5 star guest bedroom in no time.
  • Back Yard - just like the front yard, this space has hardly been touched. The back patio is a cracked concrete slab with minimal landscaping. With a little work, it could easliy become a cute gathering place.
Well, that is just a sampling of the things on my honey-do list. Now I just need to stay motivated to finish.



Knock Off Decor is featuring my Mercury Glass project today. Oh snap! Seriously, you should head on over and spread the love. All the projects on the site are drool-worthy knock offs and inspiring.

And it is a double-whammy feature for me today! Well, not me...but the Mercury Glass. People aren't interested in me, just the knock off Mercury Glass. Curbly featured me too! Seriously, this is almost too much! I am wearing my perma-smile all day.

Thanks for the warm welcome to the blogging world!


Master-ly Texture-ly Art

We've got snow!! And lots of it too. I took full-advantage of the snowy roads and tackled some DIY projects around the house. Go me! However, snow and cold temps equal no spray painting so the projects aren't 100% finished. I will just have to wait for a heat wave. But I am getting ahead of myself. Let me back-up and show you what I did first.

The master bedroom has zero artwork in it. None, zilch, nada. And the reason for this is that the bedding is temporary. I don't want to make some art just to have it clash with any potential future bedding. But the walls look mighty bare and sad without anything on them. Here is the dresser wall:
Yep, bare and sad - which really aren't my two favorite words. I had to spice up the wall with some texture since color is a no-go without new bedding. For the past month, I have been collecting round textural things for this art project. And I slowly amassed a good collection:
One wicker charger, one large clock, two ceiling medallions, a round wood picture frame, and the big-bertha wicker basket. I randomly placed the round things on the wall, hoping for an eye-pleasing asymmetrical layout. There was no rhyme or reason for the pattern. I just hoped for the best and went with my gut and nailed away.
And after a few minutes of trial and error, I settled on a layout.
When the weather warms up a little, I will take the round things off the wall and give them a coat of gloss-white spray paint. And remove the clearance sticker from the wicker charger. Or maybe I will have new bedding by then and I'll paint the round things some funky fun color. 

So how much did this quick texture-adding project cost me? Only $25! I luckily found the two ceiling medallions (brand new in the package) at the Restore which saved a lot of money. The picture frame and wicker charger were both $1. The splurge was the large clock for $12 at Big Lots.

Have you added any cheap texture-ly art to your casa? What DIY projects do you tackle when snowed in? Or do you prefer to snuggle on the couch and drink hot cocoa?


RTH Tool School - Air Compressor and Nail Gun

Hello and welcome to the very first Remodel This House Tool School! I'm super excited about this and hopefully it will be very informative. Heck, I'll probably learn something new myself. I am not going to get all technical. I believe in the KISS principle so this will be an introduction to the tools and simple instructions ...nothing more. And I'm going to use the tools that I have on hand so yours might be different. Let's get started! The first tool in this school is a nail gun and air compressor, since it is my newest addition to my tool chest.  Here she is in the box:
How Air Compressors Work  (well, how mine works) - Pistons compress air in a cylinder and then store it in a high-pressure storage tank. Anytime I use the air, the pressure inside the tank slowly decreases. Once the pressure drops to a certain level, the compressor automatically turns on to build the pressure back up. A smaller tank will hold less air so the compressor will have to work more often. Whereas a larger tank will hold more air, but will take longer to fill back up when used.

CFM - My compressor has a CFM rating of .39.  And I know I said I wasn't going to get technical, but CFM (amount of air flow) is an important number to look at when shopping for an air compressor. Every air tool requires a certain amount of CFM, or amount of air flow, to operate. The greater the CFM, the more air the tool uses. So you need an air compressor that will produce more CFM than your most powerful tool requires. And I have a handy chart to show tools and CFM:

                   Brad Nailer: 0.3 CFM                      Ratchet: 2-5CFM
                   Sander: 11-13 CFM                        Spray Gun: 2-4 CFM
                   Impact Wrench: 4-5 CFM                Die Grinder: 4-6 CFM

My .39 is enough to use my nailer; however, it wouldn't be enough for a sander. I would need a larger compressor for the higher CFM tools. Also, some people look at the PSI rating only. Well, most air tools require 90 PSI to operate and the majority of air compressors produce at least 90 PSI. So you should be good here. Just make sure that the compressor has a high enough CFM.

Pressure Regulator Knob - Adjust this knob to regulate the amount of air going to the tool. Turn to the right for more, and to the left for less. When turning on the air compressor, make sure this knob is all the way to the left (closed) so the tank can fill up. You can see what the pressure is on the outlet psi gauge.
Outlet PSI Gauge - This gauge shows the amount of air going to the tool. For nailing and stapling, pressure should be between 90 psi and 100 psi. You can increase or decrease the psi with the pressure regulator knob.
Tool Holder - This handy hook is for storing the nailer.
Regulator Outlet - This is where the air hose is connected to the compressor.
Release Valve - Pull on the release valve to drain the air from the tank.
On/Off - The power switch.

Tire Chuck - Connect this to the end of the air hose to inflate tires. The tire chuck is actually just the end piece and it is on a male adapter.
Male Plug with Adapter - This is required if you want to attach any inflation devices to the air hose. The air hose is a female end, and the male plug with adapter will enable you to attach the tire chuck or inflation needle/nozzle.
Inflation Needle - Attach this to the adapter end of the male plug. Use the inflation needle to air up balls - basket balls, soccer balls, volley balls, etc.
Inflation Nozzle - Attach this to the adapter end of the male plug. Use the inflation nozzle to air up pool floats, or anything with the plastic things you have to bite to air up.

That sums up the compressor introduction, now let's move on to the nailer/stapler.

Gauge - Nail guns vary in the length and gauge (thickness) of nails they can drive. I have a finish nailer that can only do small nails and staples. The smallest size of fasteners are normally 24 to 22 gauge and generally have no head. They are used for attaching beadings, mouldings, etc. The next size up is the 18 gauge, often referred to as a "brad nail". These fastenings are used in the same way as the smaller fastenings; however, they usually have a head which leads to some hole filling. The next sizes are 16 and 15 gauge, or "finish nails". They are used in nailing softwood and MDF trim (such as baseboards) where the holes are filled and painted. The big brother to my finish nailer is a framing nailer which uses the heavy-duty big nails.
Exhaust - After you nail, excess air comes out of the exhaust, kind of like a blow-off valve. You can turn the exhaust cap to direct the air another way.
Quick Plug - This is where the air hose goes. It connects the nailer to the compressor. Also, when using the nailer, place 4-5 drops of nailer oil in here.
Trigger - All the magic is right here. Pull the trigger to fire the nailer. One trigger pull equals one nail.
Latch - Pressing the latch button will release the magazine.
Magazine - This is where the nails or staples are stored. Nails and staples come in a long line attached to each other so you can store quite a lot in the magazine and not have to constantly reload. The yellow line  shows the amount of nails or staples currently held in the magazine.
Work Contact Element - It is basically a safety feature. The work contact element has to be fully depressed onto what you are nailing in order for it to nail. If you notice that the nailer is not working, try  pushing on the nailer and depressing the work contact element better.

I had planned to record a video with the compressor and nailer. However, a snow storm is happening in AR right now and my real job requires me to work it so I didn't get the video. I will get the video shot and posted ASAP.

I hope this was a good first topic in RTH Tool School. You can read about the beginings of RTH Tool School here.


RTH Answers - Tool School

"I can't do that because I don't know a thing about tools" or "Tools scare me." I hear these phrases all the time. Tools should not keep you from doing a project...they are supposed to make the project easier to complete. So why are they scary or can stop a project before it even starts?

Recently, a friend asked me to school her on tools. Her goal was to get the basic tool knowledge from a straight-talker (me) so she could start on her project list. And after a few quick talks and pointers, she was able to tackle a project DIY-style. She affectionately called it "Tool School" and said that it gave her the confidence she needed.

And that's my goal - I want to inspire people and instill confidence to try a project DIY style. And if tools are what is holding you back, I am going to school you so you can complete that project and not bat an eyelash at the tools involved. That is why I am super excited to announce the Remodel This House Tool School!

Each school class will focus on a specific tool. I will describe the tool and its parts, show you how it works, and tell about the tool in not-too-technical terms. The first class is Monday morning. Hope you can make it!