Thursday, April 28, 2011


Since the day I moved in, my mom has been eyeing the fake hanging plants on my front porch that the old owners didn't take with them (I wonder why?)  Quite honestly, while I did agree that they were rather ugly and also hung way too high, it didn't bother me all that much.  I mean...I've lived here almost four months and just now have gotten around to taking them down and replacing them with something a bit more aesthetically pleasing.

I scooted over to Lowe's today at lunch and picked up a couple of Boston Ferns for $9.97 a pop.  I spy a curious kitty inspecting the new greens...

I did a quick dismantle of the old baskets and chucked the fakes in the trash.  Thankfully, the hooks already installed were heavy-duty enough to hold my ferns, so that made things easy.  I did take off the S-hook and chains from the old hanging baskets to use to attach to hooks on my plants, which makes them hang at an appropriate length.  I hung them up, did a little trimming and fluffing, and I was done! 





Mom will be happy!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Walls...Came Tumbling Down

Well, not the walls, technically.  It was actually the ceilings.  But Def Leppard sang about walls tumbling down, so that's what I'm going with.  When I was house-hunting, I had only one major criteria that had to be met: NO POPCORN CEILINGS.  I hate them.  They are my nemesis.  I know they don't offend some most people, but for me, they are just u-g-l-y and icky and date a house.  But guess what.  I went and bought a house that had popcorn ceilings.  And they had. to. come. down.  Unfortunately, I don't have a great before photo.  Bad blogger, I know.  But just imagine a ceiling looking more pimply than a thirteen year old boy.

For anyone who has ever tackled popcorn ceiling removal, you know it is one of the messiest projects on the planet.  If you haven't tackled it, allow me to tell you.  It is one of the messiest projects on the planet.  Because of this, it's something that is much easier to do when there is no furniture in a room than when all of your stuff is settled.  So, being that I was moving into a new (to me) house, I had a small window of time in which I could go crazy and make a mess without having to worry about my belongings getting dirty.

If you're not familiar with how popcorn ceilings are removed, it goes a little something like this:
  • Wet the entire ceiling.  Not delicately dampen it.  Soak it.
  • Using a scraper, gently scrape the gooey wet texture off the ceiling.  It should come off in sheets as you scrape against the sheet rock.
  • Find out there are all kinds of imperfections in the ceiling sheet rock that need to be spackled smooth.
  • Spackle.  Let dry.
  • Sand.  Sand.  Sand.  Create the biggest dust storm imaginable.  In your house.  (Wear a mask!) - Note: if your house was built in the 1970s or earlier, have a sample tested for asbestos before you start bringing down the ceilings.
  • Prime.  Paint.
  • Bask in the glory of smooth ceilings.
 After forking out a lot of dough at closing, the last thing I wanted to do was spend another small fortune on getting popcorn ceilings removed.  But remember, I loathe them.  With every fiber of my being.  They absolutely had to go - there was no way I could live there with those ceilings hanging over my head.

The day after I closed, I had a couple of companies come out to give me quotes (a lot of painting companies do popcorn / textured ceiling removal).  I nearly had a heart attack at the estimates they gave me.  Then I had about an hour of insanity where I thought, I can do this!  It's not that hard!  Aaaaand then I came to my senses.  I decided if I wanted it done before I moved in, I had to pay someone to do it.  It's do-able as a DIY project, but not with my timelines.  I went with a company who had a lot of experience doing the removal (you want to make sure you work with a good company, because you really don't know what you're going to find under the popcorn and you want to make sure they will know what to do, no matter what they find hiding underneath the texture.)

Here's a poor quality shot that I snapped with my phone one night after the workers had left for the day and I was checking out the progress.  You can see that the ceilings are down and the sheet rock and joint tape are exposed.  Excuse the freaky shadows cast by the ceiling fan.

Even with a team of professionals, it still took about three and a half days to get everything done.  It was the biggest mess imaginable - it looked like a crime scene.  There was plastic covering all of the floors and walls, and I am STILL (three months later) cleaning up dust.  Being a DIY girl, I really hated to pay someone to do a project that I theoretically could do.  But in reality, it just wasn't something I could get done with my timelines.  So I paid a pretty penny.  But it was worth it.  Sooooooo worth it.  Look at these beauties (this is the tray ceiling in the master bedroom - you're looking at four separate ceiling surfaces in this picture).

I could lick them.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Stripe Inspiration

I've been contemplating what I want to do with my downstairs half-bath.  It's so drab and builder-blah right now.  I don't even have a good picture, but imagine basic white walls, boring fixtures, and a standard unframed mirror above the pedestal sink.

Lately I've been loving the stripes look:

I think if I decide to do stripes, I'll do a cream-on-cream, kind of like the Young House Love pic above.  Subtle, but gorgeous.  Maybe I'll get some paint samples this week...

Sunday, April 24, 2011

The Great Exchange

My sin. His holiness.
My sorrow. His joy.
My works. His grace.
My shame. His glory.
My wounds. His scars.
My selfishness. His kindness.
My pride. His humility.
My self-righteousness. His gift of righteousness.
My rebellion. His obedience.
My clenched fist. His open hand.
My wandering. His seeking.
My running. His pursuit.
My failed attempts. His finished work.
My brokenness. His healing.

His death.
My life.
His resurrection.
My eternity.

Borrowed from here.

He is Risen!  Happy Easter!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Earth Day!

I will be the first to say, I am not as "green" as I should be.  It's something I'd like to work on though.  Don't tell anyone, but I didn't even recycle when I lived in my apartment.  Since I've moved into my house, I have started recycling, which at least is a small step.  Having a bin in my garage makes it easy.

One product I do use, which I love because they're not only eco-friendly, but stylish too, are these cute reusable shopping bags called hotSACKS.  I sometimes get funny questions from the cashiers and baggers about the "hotSACKS" name, but everyone seems to think they're fun.  Way better than the boring ones you can buy at the grocery store!

Something I'd like to look into is a rain barrel, now that I have a house and a yard.  I'd love to start a little vegetable garden, and am wanting to do some flowers in the front yard.  A rain barrel would be great for watering!  Young House Love did a post today on rain barrels, and it has inspired me!

Happy Earth Day!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

House Tour

It's time for a little house tour!  All of these pictures were taken before I moved in, when the house was empty except for a few hideous staging pieces (we actually had to call the seller's agent on closing day when we did the walk-thru to tell them to come get their junk out of the house...they had completely forgotten about it!).  I've already made lots of changes, which I'll share piece by piece in further posts.

On with the tour!

Here's the front door and little porch.  Don't you love the fake-leaf wreath with a random ribbon hanging on it they had on the door, as well as the fake hanging and potted plants?

The front door opens into the living room.  This was somewhere that I had to make a little compromise - I wanted a true entryway / foyer, but some things you just have to let go.  I've been able to sort of section off the living room area with furniture, so there is at least a defined entry space.  Pictures to come :)  The living room runs across the front of the house.  I love how much light this room gets during the day.  Note: the walls are no longer green!

Behind the living room, along the back of the house is the kitchen and dining room.  It's not a formal dining room, but it's a little more than an eat-in kitchen.  The kitchen is a little smaller than I'd have ideally liked, but it's plenty sufficient, and it's open so doesn't feel too small.  (And again...the mustard yellow is already gone, and those "accent pieces" are all (awful) staging items.)  The whole downstairs is hardwood, which I love!

Next to the kitchen is the dining "room", which also connects to the living room.  There's a sliding glass door that leads out onto the deck.  Don't be too jealous of those gorgeous curtains I inherited.

Off behind the kitchen is the pantry, powder room and laundry room.  I'm excited to have an actual laundry room, and not just a dinky closet!  I've got big plans for updates to that space.

The laundry room opens out to the two-car garage. The previous owners put random shelves, hooks and odd posters all over the place in the garage!  So strange.

Now...up the stairs.  At the top of the stairs, there's a split.  To the right is the bonus room.  Right now, this room is the place where all of the odds and ends that haven't found their home currently live.  There's no furniture in there.  It's also where the kitties do their biz-ness, so it's out of the way.  The plan for this room is to make it a space where I can do all sorts of fun DIY projects.  I want to get a big table in there so I can have a good work space.  Maybe getting this room done will inspire me to break out the sewing machine I just had to have for Christmas two years ago, but have never used.

At the top of the stairs to the left are the bedrooms.  Out of the three bedrooms, two have gotten paint makeovers already, the one that I'm using as a guest room and the one that I'm using as an office / library.  The master bedroom is below, and it will be getting a color makeover in the very near future.  I love the tray ceiling!  It looks out over the backyard.

And the master bath with walk-in closet, double vanity, and a separate tub / shower...

The other two bedrooms (i.e. guest room / office) aren't too exciting pre move-in and look pretty much the same - although the guest room does have a lovely pastel child's fan :)

There's a bathroom for the two extra bedrooms to share, and a linen closet in the hallway.

Here's a (not so great) shot of the backyard - it's not huge, but that's fine with me, because the lawn service = ME.  Before I moved in, I'd never used a lawn mower in my life (that's was a brother chore!).  Thankfully, my sweet dad gave me his old lawn mower, which is still in great shape, since after my brother went to college, he decided it was time for a lawn service and hasn't used the lawn mower since!  I have a small deck, and one day would love to build out some sort of patio behind the house, so there's more space for entertaining.  I've already done a bit of work in the back clearing out some of the brush in the island, but it's an area where there's still a lot of work to do (again...the random furniture and accents were 'staging' pieces).

And last but not least, one more shot of the front.  You can see I'll have my hands full here too with the landscaping on the front of the house, which needs some work and pretty colors!  Ick.

That's it for the pre-move-in house tour!  I'll be doing individual posts for each room, so you can see everything I've done so far.

It's almost Friday...yay!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Home Sweet Home!

I finally finished the house search!  On December 28th, I closed on my very first house, and I moved in on January 6th!  After seven long months of looking (I started the house hunt way back in March 2010: see this post), I found a place in Raleigh in October and put in an offer.  After a long weekend of going back and forth with the sellers (who didn’t speak much English, and had already moved to California at the time they put the house on the market), the house was mine!  I love it.  I hated house hunting, but the search was so worth it.

The house was in the same neighborhood as another house that I had looked at earlier in my search.  I  really liked the neighborhood when I first saw it, but for various reasons didn't love the other house.  So, I was keeping my eyes open for other listings in the neighborhood.  I initially overlooked this house because it was listed as a 4BR.  Um,'s just me.  I don't need four bedrooms (do I even need three?)!  One day, I was talking to a co-worker about it and he said, "'re telling me there's a house you like, in a neighborhood you like, that is within your price range, and you're not going to consider it because it has TOO MANY BEDROOMS????"  With my tail between my legs, I made an appointment with my (very patient) realtor to take a look, and ended up deciding that it was the one.  At this point in the search, I honestly was so over the house hunt that it was almost a "yeah...whatever, sure, this one will do".  Not to say that I didn't love it, but I got my heart crushed over another house that I let myself fall in love with, only to have it snatched out from under me by a sneaky buyer during the negotiation process.  Ever since that incident, I told myself that I absolutely would not let myself get emotionally attached to another house until AFTER I was under contract.  So, I didn't!  (But now, I'm attached!)

For the record - when we went and looked at the house (well, really when I just took a closer look at the listing), I realized that it wasn't really a four bedroom was three bedrooms plus a bonus room, which they could technically count as a bedroom since it has a closet.  For most buyers, a fourth bedroom is a positive, but for me, it was a negative since four bedrooms is WAY more than I need.  Even though it has three bedrooms and a bonus room, it's not huge - right around 1700 sq ft., which is perfect for me.

I'll do another post this week with a pictures of the inside.  Lots of changes have already happened, so I’m excited to share those DIY projects!  Let me just say…I have been a painting FOOL.  I’ve painted the living room, dining room, kitchen, guest room and office already – all. by. myself.  And before you go thinking I have no friends or family who will help me, know that’s not the case!  I am just SUPER anal about painting and would prefer to do it myself, so any imperfections are my fault.  How snotty, I know.  But if I mess up (which…I’ve definitely had some oopsies), I know it’s all me and I can’t blame anyone but myself.  And, I actually enjoy painting.  I tell people this and they can’t believe how anyone could actually enjoy painting.  Call it an illness, I don't know.  But I love to paint!

To the very few kind souls out there who follow my blog, even though I consistently let updating it fall off my radar...thanks for hanging on.  I say it every time I come back after a reeeeeally long break, but I really do hope to keep up with posting, especially now that I have a lot of new blog topics, what with the million house projects on my to-do list!

Stay tuned for a tour of the inside!