MAKEOVER: livingroom edition (aka: faking an entryway!)

We recently welcomed a brand new bouncing baby…. couch into our home! And Baby Girl Couch told Big Ugly Brother Couch, “You gotta go. Mom and Dad don’t have enough love for the both of us.”And she’s right.

Here’s our little bundle of joy:
Cute Lil Couch

Not being enough love around for the both of them- that is true. I hate the old couch and my husband hates the new one. Long story slightly shorter, my mom and I have these three hour long marathon phone calls in which we talk about everything under the sun. I mentioned how I’m trying to scrape together enough bones for this couch and she starts “mmmcmmm”-ing along with me.

“What’s it called?”
“Something city related. Like, the Soho, or something.”
“What’s it look like?”
“Clean lines, with arms that slightly angle out at the top.”
“Any buttons or tufting?”
“Mom! Never.”
I had one of those Charlie Brown moments. “THAT’S IT!”


When she asked me for my address, that’s when it dawned on me that she was buying the couch! I. Flipped. Out. Turns out it’s my late birthday present. Thank you so much, mom! I LURRRRRRRRVE it. Good things are in store for her, too: her home is French Country, and after a new upholstery job with some blue velvet or burgundy red, or even just a nice smooth chocolate, that couch is going to go perfectly in her home. But, we live two hours apart and her schedule is a little wonky, so there’s no telling when we’ll be able to transport Big Brother Couch to my mom’s place.

So, that brings us to, how in the heck am I going to have these  two couches -one of which is a mac daddy – in my prius-sized living room? I debated moving furniture around in the bedrooms to accommodate it, even  mulling over the idea of temporarily turning our master bedroom into a game room with the couch and TV and the storage room stuff and putting our bedroom stuff in the tiny room, but A. That’s a ton of work and B. I wasn’t even sure it could happen – the couch was too wide and too long to  make the turn in the hallway. It’s even too “tall” when flipped on it’s end to fit through the doorway, so the living room was the only option.

What. To. Do.

I just assembled without considering. I wanted my new couch!
couch helper

And then a little re-arrangeroo came to mind… that totally transformed the place and I absolutely love the results. By turning the orientation of the room and moving Big Ugly Brother Couch to the wall with the window and placing Cute Little Sister Loveseat kind of in the middle of the room, we create a seating area more intended for grownups and their conversations as well as a real live entryway.


Oh, Hey Lunar! I had to move Colossal Cousin Deskington to the little room – no pictures, I have just the tiniest bit of dignity left – and that meant moving the computer to….

Our room.

I am one of those “No TV in the Bedroom!” kinda gals. This hurts my heart. But THIS MAKES MY HOME IMPROVEMENT LOVING HEART SWELL:
A real, live, entryway. A real, live, fake-it-till-ya-make-it, entryway!

How did we do it? To recap:

The desk was moved into our storage room soon to be office and swapped places with the little bookshelves. The couches did a 90 degree turn, and the tree trunk “coffee table/bench” got turned into a  low side table with my peace lily I received as a gift for the birth of my Handsome Son, two years ago. What, you didn’t notice the mad scientist in coverall PJs in the earlier picture? He’s the insane one, with the crazy red hair. <3.


I moved the lamps around so the cords would be hidden behind the furniture, and so far we do not mind continuing to live without a coffee table. Unless we got one of those acrylic ones, I think most anything would be too heavy visually.

One final set of befores and afters:




The function is so much better. And I seem to take better pictures nowadays. The form is obviously a major improvement. And Cute Little Sister Couch is a nice modern foil to Big Ugly Brother Couch, making him not-so-ugly in the process. And all I needed to do was move some furniture around. Duh!!!!

One more time so you don’t have to scroll: 🙂

What are you up to? Any furniture re-arranging? Did you notice I simplified my grid of prints? Sneaky, I know. 😉


A/C units and making our Curb… Appealing

Our asymmetrical windows are unbalanced no more! I swapped the AC unit from the front, street-facing window to the side facing the driveway and am really pleased with the result. It was not as simple as I thought it would be! Still, I was able to do it by myself and within only about an hour.

Here’s the house mostly as we bought it, with humongous bushes concealing the front.img_0849

Here’s after Handsome Husband cut the bushes down. Look! A house! img_1124

And here she is – with symmetry fora  front face!


I started by taking stock of what had to be done- it turns out the unit is not only sitting in the sill but wedged in on both sides by extending flaps that screw in tight as well as blocks wedged between the top of the window and the pane that sits on top of the unit. That may be elementary to AC window unit installers but I never knew!

I unscrewed the extending flaps and moved the wooden blocks the unit sat on to their final destination : the window that faces the driveway.

I was nervous not knowing how heavy the unit was so I gently pulled it back from the window once it was unscrewed and I had all the wooden blocks dislodged. A ton of water came pouring out of the back. What does that mean? Is that supposed to happen? Unlike a different window unit we own, this one has no visible holes or rust marks, so I’m not sure why… oh well! Google it later! Onward!

I heaved that thing out and onto my chest and carefully walked (read: staggered) the 15 feet over to the other window. I placed it on the sill and then lifted and shoved and leaned and heaved and hoed and huffed and puffed and begged the gods of every religion – WHY WASN’T IT GOING IN?!?!?

In the meanwhile in the inside of the house in her room. the front plastic plate fell off and hit my captivated kid in the noggin, so there was a little mini crisis that distracted may attention. I set it down and ran inside, first for the kid, then to take a closer look at why my unit wouldn’t just slide in. It had just slid out of what I assumed was the same kind of window – they look the same, they’re even in the same room for goodness’ sake!

There was a 1/2 inch metal ridge on the bottom of the second window! The first one had no ridge.  What the !@#$$!@! That made the space between window panes, when  it was opened, too short to accommodate the unit. Holy mother of DIY, my husband was going to kill me. “You smacked our kid in the head with an AC unit plate and then didn’t even end up moving the unit?!” I had to figure it out fast – before he came home. Full confession: I do nearly all of my DIYscapades while Handsome Hubby is away because he despises my methods. And my ideas. And my scatterbrained-ness that  leads to me endlessly starting new projects without fully finishing the last one. Squirrel!

If the mystery ridge was not enough, I took an even closer look and realized something else was different. The small metal pane affixing the vertical lift piece (on a car it’s a “strut” I think…) was longer on the second window than the first. Hmm, maybe I could swap them out? Wait a minute, we don’t need the struts at all –  the window is going to be held up by the unit! It can’t come crashing down! I gleefully unscrewed the little fixture holding up the strut and boom, the window was able to open another few inches, and the AC unit fit in, after lots of swearing, because now there was nothing to hold the window up and I had to pick the unit up off the ground instead of just off of my chest. Where’s my third arm? ! I used a piece of wood that wedged the unit in on the sides to prop the window up temporarily while I slid it in. I re-did everything I had undone and alakazam. No more window unit facing the street!


Now all want to do is fine a nice cheap couple of hanging baskets to mask the units and I will consider that eyesore as remedied as possible! (We’re thinking of having AC installed in the house but that’s a $6500 project that is at the bottom our priority list. The window units stay. Another dream that’s not even on the totem pole, it’s lying on the ground sleeping next to the totem pole, is to have new windows  installed. These suckers are no longer weatherproof, are single paned, and look janky. Oh well! Debt freedom is more important than windows!)

What did you do this weekend? Any Curb Appeal upgrades? Let me know!

Making an “eh”‘ door “THE” door

Knock, knock.

Who’s there?

This boring door, that’s who.

Oh, hey, I didn’t even notice you.

This was my front door when we bought our house: (we painted the address numbers on recently). You can tell it wasn’t my favorite thing on the house.

A solid door with nothing fancy the same color as the siding. Nothing wrong with that, but nothing that makes you want to do the shimmy, either. 🙂 This part of the wall that juts out to the right is our utility closet, so there is no window on this side of the house, making this corner of my living room really dark. I was hoping for a door that allowed light in somehow.

Well one of my close amigas commissioned a special, unique door, and she was getting rid of one with window panes (!), so I was glad to recycle it for her. 🙂
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Poor boys  worked late into the night trying to get the door to fit!img_0958

And here she is on my nice, real life front porch (notice the carport junk that needs to be put away!)

My only thought was that the door wasn’t really me. Was I going to be trading out a door that was made for this doorway and house but let no light through for a door that had windows, (for free) and I wasn’t even going to like it because of the style? If you’ve seen my house, it’s  a pretty simple 1960s midcentury tract home. It has no extra fluff, there’s no scroll work, there’s no chunky crown or country french details or farmyard chic going on here – it’s all about clean lines and simple detailing.

I thought to myself, “don’t get the door – it’s going to look odd on the house and you’ll want the door that goes with it once it’s gone. Better to get a window kit and cut out places for the windows to go on the old door, instead.”

I wasn’t sure how to do that and I wasn’t sure I wanted to risk ruining my front door due to my limited skill set! So I thought a little more about the type and shape of doors that really do speak to me. I like these a lot:


But there was no way I was going to pay nearly $400 at Home Depot for this one or $450 for this one! Holy moly, that’s a third of what I have left on one of my (28) student loans. No. Way.

So I thought about my friend’s offer a little harder and I realized I could improve the door. A coat of paint, maybe some plywood paneling?

I hauled the kids to Home Depot (there’s one on the way home from church – it’s not even out of my way!!!) to pick up paint and wood paneling. (And have them cut everything to size there – Hollah!) img_1200

I measured the space under my window panes because that was going to be the width of my sheet of plywood paneling. It had to be thin – just a quarter inch – to look more a part of the door. One sheet of plywood was enough for two 28 x 48 panels plus the leftover for who knows what project :-). I had them cut to size the sheet of plywood, and I grabbed five paint swatches and their samples that I thought I’d like. Then I went to town with a staple gun, a level, and wood glue to attach the panels and cheap foam brushes and my paint samples.


Sample number three won out(Parakeet colormatched by Behr I believe) but number two was a close second. It was crazy how samples in the store that were so green came out sunny yellow on the door. A lesson for me when I’m trying to be cheap cheap cheap: get the samples anyway!!! They’re only $3.48 each!

The first layer got me excited. But also nervous. Did I just paint my door baby poop green?

And yes that is my bathrobe and an old toothbrush on the bench. I wanted to get a coat on the door before going to work with only a half hour to spare but I didn’t want to  change clothes, so I just put my bathrobe on backwards (wearing it like a hospital gown) to keep any flying paint off of my clothes. The toothbrush was to clean the corners and little edges of the panes. (I thoroughly cleaned and liquid deglosser first.)

The second layer looked even better and then a third did the trick. Bye bye baby poop. I might do just one more because it can’t hurt! img_1261

Oh I LOVE IT SO MUCH. Here’s our little transformation.

doorsThat happy color makes me do a happy dance. So what was my budget breakdown?

5 paint samples @ $3.48 each $17.40
5 Foam brushes @ $0.79 each $3.95
1 Panel of plywood @ $11.97
1 Quart of Behr exterior semigloss @ $12.98
Door: Free!
(Deglosser, staple gun, staples, and wood glue already had)

= $46.30

Less than $50 bones! Not bad for a door update- especially considering I still have a huge plywood panel left (I’m thinking functional bedroom art… more on that later) and tons of paint. And oh boy do I have plans for that paint! I’d still love to swap out the handle for something more streamlined, I need to weatherstrip it, and I need to finish cleaning the panes – then this project will be done!


What are you up to lately? Any affordable updates?



W & D: Together at last!

This is a love story about two lovers who never met, but knew, somewhere, out there, their soulmate was waiting for them… Alright, alright it’s really about a post of me moving my dryer into the kitchen. But may I say: the heavens aligned and I for one, am infatuated.

Here’s the lovely before:

And here’s the still-inn-progress, but oh-so-exciting after:

To the left of my washer is the hallway to the bedrooms. I measured once, twice, a million times and I knew that the little green-topped cabinet, if carefully removed, would fit between my fridge and that hallway – so we wouldn’t lose any of that storage. That’s important because my 1015 square foot house is not gifted with closets.

Before I show you how we did it and what it cost, let’s go over the thought process:

Plan A:Why didn’t you move the washer out of the kitchen and into the utility closet?
That was my original hope, so I talked to a contractor friend, who quickly squashed my dreams. It would really be so nice to have countertops that spread the entire span of those upper cabinets – whoo boy that would be some gorgeous prep space! He told me getting the plumbing done not only would cost mucho dinero but would require us to re-tile and re-drywall – or hireout to get those project done to the tune of… wellletsjustcallitalot.

I do not happen to have a lot as you remember, our number one goal is paying off all our debt! Putting the least amount into the house and trying to sell it in two or three years is going to help us do that. But if we get sidetracked with projects instead of extra payments – we’re just hurting our own future.

So it was too expensive to move the dryer to join the washer.

Plan B: Why didn’t you make a new laundry space in the dining room, off of the kitchen?
Now I really liked this idea: having a dedicated laundry space away from the kitchen but still inside – but again was going to require more money than we had. There was a 220 volt receiver for a dryer just to the right of the stove, so theoretically we could have paid for just the cost of moving the washer, and that wouldn’t have cost us as much in plumbing, since that’s much closer to our sink and we wouldn’t have had to re-tile, but still it was so, so much more expensive, for a few reasons: 1, we saw the dryer plug and though “Eureka! We can bring the dryer in and technically it won’t be “with” the washer but it will be close! And sooooooo much better than separate in the utility closet!” Well we tried that – it would have been THE CHEAPEST option (as in, cost us nothing!!!) although it would hae been crazy ugly I mean a little awkward. But it turns out, that wall plug was a dud! So we would have had to pay an electrician for new wiring anyway. Womp, womp.

Plan C: Why didn’t you leave the cabinet where it was, rip out half of the uppers, and install a stackable washer and dryer?
A. Confidence. We are just getting our feet wet with this whole homeowning thing and we do not have the confidence to remove only part of some upper cabinets. They seem like they’d need a saw and some extra arms and magic to get only half of them down. And perhaps more importantly, B, cost. We have a perfectly good washer and dryer set and it is just not a priority to upgrade to the stackable kind – even used.

So that leaves us with the plan we did execute: hiring electricians to install the wiring needed to power the dryer, moving the cabinet, and altering the appliance to make it work. My birthday was last week and we each get $300 for our birthdays, so I spent mine on house stuff and the electricians! Huzzah! Didn’t even get in the way of paying off Sallie Mae this month. SHE GONE FOREVER. But that’s another post.

So here’s what I did while Handsome was at work: removed all the stuff, drawers and doors from the cabinet and set them aside.img_0993 fullsizerender

Then, kneeling to where I was mostly inside the cabinet, I used just a plain old screwdriver to unscrew the top, then I pried it off with a crowbar I borrowed from the neighbor (another money saving tip: try to borrow tools, otherwise your DIYs will get expensive, quick!) so thanks neighbor!

I moved the countertop out of the kitchen and went to work removing any visible nails and screws that I could see. Sometimes the nails were so flush with the board they were holding that my hammer couldn’t catch them. This is probably #ghettoDIY but I used my flathead screwdriver to punch down the wood around the nail, so that my hammer could snag it and wrench it out. After about an hour of that, I realized I’d have to knock the grout off of the bottom to get it loose enough to pull out. Then I had this:


Pulling that cabinet free without damaging it felt AMAZING. Almost as good as delivering a baby: an-I-can-do-anything-type amazing. There was one invisible nail that I finally got rid of and then shimmied the cabinet over next to the fridge, where -guess what – IT FITS!!! I’m going to have to move some baseboards to get it flush and I’ll have an update for ya when I do that.img_0996

The electricians came the next day and installed the wiring, so we were ready! I insisted we move the dryer in right away since we were having visitors come the next day and there was no way the tile and grout was going to be done by the time they arrived. We decided to just move the dryer, do minimal loads, and finish the floor this weekend. I’m not concerned about the ugly exposed wall because shortly it will be covered by a cabinet and tile – so I’m just going to Kilz it in the meantime.img_1013 img_1016
And see that! The light’s on!  It works! Buuuuuut that door was not the most ergonomic. Sweet Girl was excited to help decorate so here she was being Vannah White. Most large appliances that have a side to side door have some kind of way to let you re-attach the door and open it the other way – our dryer was no different.

We unscrewed the door and then started taking it apart, being careful to collect all the screws and hinges in a kid-spill-free cup. The door is actually two parts: the door with its locking mechanisms and the white shell that you view from the front. Four screws later and the shell and the door were separated and we could flip it around and re-attach it to get it to open and close to the right. The hinges on the other hand…. I almost lost it on the hinges. I put them on the wrong way the first time, I put half of them on wrong the second time, the third time I got it almost all the way on until I popped a screw out and had to start again and finally, FINALLY, the fourth time proved to be the charm.
img_1023 img_1017

So now…. we have a washer and dryer together- long lost lovers reunited at last! And I tell you what, I have not been behind in laundry since. Take that, dirty socks.Oh look, there’s one on the floor now.


Hubba. Hubba.

Left to do in the kitchen in Phase One: Lay the tile, paint the back wall, install the L-hose for the hot air exhaust, punch out a hole in the wall (not sure how – it’s brick on the outside!) & install a critter guard, build out a cabinet (to hold tall skinny trash cans?), paint the wooden side of the moved cabinet, remove the baseboard and permanently install the cabinet, and re-do the counter tops (we already have the concrete- bought it on amazon with a giftcard from work!!!). It’s going to be fun. Let’s see how cheaply we can make it happen!

What have you been doing? Any kitchen updates in these last few days before fall?