House

We redid our half bath.

Last year, one of our goals was to revamp our half bath downstairs.  There were a few rooms through the house that were a medium avocado green when we moved in and while I like green, I wanted to keep the theme blues and grays so slowly, I made over each room that had the green.

The last up was the bathroom.  Here was the before:

bathbefore

And it really isn’t that bad of a before, I just wanted a lighter space since there isn’t a ton of natural light in this part of our downstairs.

Goals:

  • Get rid of the pedestal sink.
  • Add some bead board/trim – these are 10 foot ceilings which look really tall in such a small space, thought it would be nice to break up so much wall.
  • Replace mirror (didn’t like the frame on it – it was basically a 4 inch wood box with a mirror in the back of it. Given where the light fixture hit it, the inside of the mirror was shaded and dark.
  • New light fixture – slowly I’m trying to replace the “builder lights” through our home.
  • Get rid of the towel bar we never used and replace the broken, wiggly hook that held our hand towel.

We had some mistakes along the way, so it took about 3 weekends of work to do it, but I think the after turned out great.  Outside of finding a fun piece of artwork to hang over the toilet, I’d say it’s complete!

Mistakes:

  • Not buying a solid wood vanity.
    The first vanity I bought was cute online, but it was a bunch of particle board and just pulling it out of the box, we could tell it wasn’t what we wanted to have in there.  For a few hundred dollars more, we took it back and got something that is solid wood and much better quality.
  • Painting 3 times!
    When we bought the first vanity, we went ahead and painted first with a gray beige color before taking it out of the box.  (It was the same color we painted our master bedroom last year and loved!)
    Unfortunately, since the vanity didn’t work out and we needed a 24″ vanity, which doesn’t have tons of options, we had to completely change our color palette.

    We went with a repaint of a (#2) light gray we had from painting our dining and sitting rooms.  When it was against the white molding, it didn’t have enough contrast, so next came paint job #3!  The final medium/light gray was a winner with just enough contrast.

And here is the final product:

bathafter

color3

It’s hard to tell with the dark lighting (phone pics) but the vanity is a gray color.  We really love it and now we have some in-bath storage for extra TP, soap, tissues, etc.

It always feels good to get a house project completed that makes you feel good each time you walk in there! One last before and after:

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2018 Goals & Resolutions

I love having goals.  And to-do lists.  It just makes me happy to have something to strive for and then to accomplish it.  I’m one of those crazy people who has about 6 to-do lists running at any time and if I do something that isn’t on my to-do list, I’ll write it on there and then cross it off. There is such a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment to strike through an items that has taken a long time to complete or was harder than expected (I’m looking at you half bath redo of 2017!).

My husbands goal is “to never have goals”.  So when we headed to the mountains last week to celebrate Brooks’ 6th birthday with some time on the tubing hills, I had him confined in a small space for about 5 hours – plenty of time to push him to set our goals for the year!

And so I have something to check throughout the year, I’m going to share them today:

FAMILY:

  • Complete 6 one-on-one dates with our kids – 6 for me and 6 for Dean.  I feel like we do a decent job of doing these now and want to continue it. I think it’s important for our kids to get special, individual time with us.
  • Start a non-sports activity for each kid.  Whether it is music, dance, theatre, martial arts, boy scouts, chess – I’d love for my kids do some individual activity that is more than be on a sports team.  Expand their interests and hobbies.
  • Take some vacations –
    • An international trip with our kiddos.  We went and got their passports ordered this month, so we’ll be ready to go somewhere fun.  And I really enjoy traveling, so this is something I want to start doing for my kids so they have tons of cool adventures in their childhood.
    • 10 year anniversary trip.  We will hit the decade mark in October and I’d love to do a bigger trip to commemorate with my favorite husband.  Hawaii is a top contender on our list right now, but we’re still very early in the planning process.
    • Vacation with Dean’s family – My family tends to do a pretty good job of trips together (we’re headed to Maine this year and we also received an amazing Christmas gift from our parents – a siblings/spouses weekend away/no kids), but this is something that my husband’s family doesn’t do as often. I’d love to make sure we see his brother and their family – maybe meet at a beach for a long weekend together. And also to make a better effort to see Dean’s dad when he comes down to his Carolinas condo.  I know the kids grow so fast and soon enough they’ll be teenagers who have no interest in family trips together, so let’s take advantage while we can!

HOUSE:

  • Get a couch for our living room. Our couches have been around for about 20 years, they were passed from my parents to me when I bought my first house about 10 years ago.  I’ve been waiting for my kids to be old enough to let me have a nicer couch 🙂 It’s time.
  • Get rid of our playset.  When we bought our house in 2013, our kids were the perfect age (1 and 3) for the big playset in the backyard.  Now, they’d rather spend their time playing sports in the front yard, not sliding and swinging.  I think it will free up a lot of space in the backyard for extra play area.
  • Furnish our living room.  First up, curtains!  Second, there is a really large blank wall in our living room and it just needs something on it.  I’ve been waiting until I bought a couch to decide how to decorate (should it have a little sitting area in front of it, or just artwork?) All that will depend on the size and layout of our couch.  Since we’re planning to do that this year (see house goal #1), I should be able to finish off this room.
  • Hang a light fixture over our kitchen table.  We have a few “builder” looking chandelier light fixtures in our house and this is one of them.  It just doesn’t go with the rest of the house and the changes we’ve made.  I’d love to find something that fits our style a little more.  (And as my husband has requested – not from World Market – I’ve bought two chandeliers from them and both times we had a heck of a time installing it.)
  • BONUS GOAL (this one is of course contingent upon having a solid year financially):  Do a large project.  A master bath upgrade (I want a bigger shower and smaller tub!) and an outdoor pergola/dining area have been on our house wish list for the past few years.  Either of these projects would cost $5,000-10,000 so we’d have to make sure it made sense in the bank account.

FINANCIAL:

  • We always like to stretch ourselves on saving, tithing, college funds and retirement contributions so we’ve earmarked some goals here.
  • Is 2018 the year of the car?  My car is 11 years old and while the mileage is good (only 85k miles!), I don’t want to get stuck with a car that starts having problems and it seems this is around the time they start to happen.
  • BONUS GOAL: Pay down mortgage principal. I’d love to be completely debt-free in the next 10 years and our mortgage is standing in the way.

PERSONAL:

  • Dean’s goals:
    • A full knee recovery.  He’s looking at another possible knee surgery (we’re at the point where he needs some “buy two, get one free” surgery coupons!) and so he’ll need to work hard to rehab and get himself walking without a peg leg.
    • His workout goal is 225×5 on the incline press. Whatever that means!
    • Plan 3 entire date nights this year (picking the activity – can’t be just dinner (that’s our default), coordinating the date and babysitting, etc.)
  • Ginger’s goals:
    • Read 25 books. I’ve been on a reading kick for about the past year, so I think this should be do-able.
    • My workout goal – do PiYo 2-3 times per week for the next 3 months so I can get more flexible and stronger. Also to be able to do 15 good push-ups.  I am upper body weak!
    • Go to counseling 3x this year. I feel this one has been on my list for several years, but I need to do it. I guess I’m just afraid of what will come up when I start.  I don’t like feeling that vulnerable and open.  Being a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend – there are so many things I worry about and that stress causes friction in my closest relationships (Dean and the boys). I want to do better about this.

Well, I can’t wait to get to work and start crossing some of these things off my list!  It will be a challenging year, but I know we can hit every single one of these.  And now that I’ve put them out there, it makes me feel a little more pressure to get them done 🙂  #accountability

What our office looks like today.

It’s been on our to-do list for some time.  To transform and update our office.  It was especially important to get on the ball with this when Dean started working from home over a year ago.  To flash back, here are some pictures from the first months we moved into our house.  Our office space was a catch all for boxes of files and tech junk.  We had a small kid size desk that was from Dean’s childhood. And it was a medium avocado green.  Which I felt was too dark for the space. We also had carpet in here which we later changed out to match the other flooring in our home. (It’s Amtico Limewashed Wood  flooring.)

At this point, we decided it was time to get going on the office. You can see we’d started to pick out some sample paint colors, cleaned out the junk and painted.  A lot of this was recorded in this 2014 post as we went through the process.

BEFORE (circa Fall 2014):

office1

We ended up with the Beach House paint color (bottom left of the colors above).

and here was our MID-AFTER (Nov 2014):

You can see the new paint color, cleaned out space and updated flooring. We also added some color to the closet and shelves for storage to get all those boxes out of the main office room:

office4

So we pick up at the beginning of 2016 – Dean went away for his annual golf weekend with his dad and brother and I had the weekend to myself.  By this point, we’d bought a new ADULT-SIZED desk that we found online and loved!

If you recall my 2015 house goals, I’d really been wanting to add some molding to the sitting room we have near the office but after thinking about it, I thought since we got a big floating desk my original plans for some shelving in the office probably weren’t as good an idea since it would probably be a lot of bumping into those when people sat in the chair. (Also, pat on the back to myself for realizing that we got all of these goals completed and even a few of the extras – not all in 2015 but it’s done!)

So back to the focal wall idea.  I saw something on a few blog posts and pinterest for doing a molding wall and that’s what I wanted to do.  But instead of the sitting room, I decided to tackle it in the office.  While Dean was on his golf trip, I had my parents come over and help me get it done.  It actually went by pretty fast once we got a system.  My dad also helped get crown molding installed. So here’s where the office is today.

BEFORE & AFTER (2016):

This is the office in early January with the new desk in there.

office mold before

And here it is almost complete – I was doing the caulking in the first pic and the last pics you can see the molding wall really well.

office 2016

TODAY:

I really love how it turned out and I think it makes the office look a little more sophisticated without taking up the space of shelving systems.

Thanks to my parents because they really helped me get this done with the husband away.

DIY: Cleaning our grout

Dean and I recently undertook a huge grout cleaning project.  We have tile in about 40% of our downstairs level.  It’s a LOT of tile.  And it looked dirty.  Brown poo colored dirty.  I’d used a couple of products in ‘test’ areas over the past year and hadn’t found anything to really clean our grout.  It was especially bad in the kitchen – no shock since that is the most trafficked area of our home and a TON of messy things spill on the floor in there.  It had been dark since we bought the house and it just always made the house look dirty, even when it was freshly mopped.

I’d looked for ideas online and came across blog posts on Young House Love and Chris Loves Julia that showed them using a grout ‘paint’ product to clean their grout.  I checked our big box hardware store and they had it in stock. I believe the brand we used was Grout Renew in Biscuit color.  A lot of the colors were dark and I wanted something lighter but not white.

So far, we’ve had it for about a month and we’re loving how it looks.  It’s made such a difference in the downstairs and how much brighter the room looks. Plus it blends with the white Amtico flooring even better.

Here are some shots of the before and after:

1/ You can see how dirty it was before – this is a close up of the tile and grout.
2/ Here you can see what the original color of the grout was when the house was first built.  It was a light gray-beige tone.  You could still see the light color in the closets and close to the walls where there wasn’t much traffic.
3/ An official before picture – the wide angle
4/ After the first couple ‘shifts’ of application – what a difference!

floor grout1

5/ Here are aerial shots looking into our foyer and then into the ‘nook’ area.  This area wasn’t as bad as the kitchen, but you can definitely see a difference in the before and after.
6/ The nook completely finished.

grout2

And here are pictures of the process. I have to give a shout out to my husband for coming up with this technique. If we were still using my technique, we’d still be working on this.  My process was to paint a thin strip, take a craft brush and paint a couple lines carefully working to stay in the lines. Then immediately wiping the wet edges with paper towels.

Dean taught me that if you just brush quickly and really fill it in and let it dry, then you can come back later with a scruffy pad and scrape off the edges. This way worked MUCH faster.  We did 3x the amount of surface his way than mine.

Below you can see the thin bead of paint – a little goes a long way with this stuff an a lot of my beads had breaks in them and I had excess paint that I scraped into other areas.  You can also see how we painted outside the lines to let it dry. Then after letting it dry for a while – maybe an hour or so – we’d come back with the green scrub pad and scrape it up.  If it was really stuck for drying too long, we’d slightly wet the pad and it would help.

grout3

Tricks for doing it this way:  Have a bunch of green pads.  Work in sections – we worked one way top to bottom and then after about an hour, let the second person start doing the scrub off while the second person continues with the painting.  Go back when you have good natural light and double check for areas you might have missed some wipe off.  Sometimes when its still wet or you wet your pad, you’ll scrape up the paint – go back and just do a very careful touch up in those areas wiping the excess immediately while it’s still wet.

It took us about 10 hours for us to do this.  Sometimes we were working separately – one doing bath duty while the other worked. But for 70%, I’d say we both worked together.  So definitely time consuming.  Of course, we had a huge chunk of s.f. to cover so we weren’t just doing one little bathroom. We did a foyer, hallway, half bath, nook into the garage and kitchen with eat-in area.

Afterwards, we bought a separate grout sealer and did a quick pass on everything. Because this was clear and had a built in brush tip, it went on very quickly.  (Even though the product has a built-in sealer, we wanted the extra layer of protection. My knees can’t handle 10 more hours of grout painting anytime soon!)

Overall, we love the results and it is still looking brand new after a few moppings!

House Goals for 2015 (aka Paint, Hammer, Spackle)

Dean and I are planning some time this week to talk about our goals for the year.  Goals for our family, our marriage, our house, our finances, our health, individual goals, etc.

I’m planning to share some of those as we define them but one set of goals that we already have in place for the year is our house.  Several of theses goals are “Ginger goals”.  Dean cares about some of the projects in our house, but I come up with a lot of the “extras”  – things that don’t necessarily need to be done but I want to get done so that our house has a certain aesthetic or style.

Here are some of the goals for 2015:

1. Find office furniture.  This is a biggie. Probably tops on both Dean and I’s list.  We need drawers, shelves and organization space.  More than the “kiddie desk” we are currently using.  We have old diaper boxes as file cabinets and constant piles of “to be filed” papers because our system sucks.  We looked a lot last year and really had a hard time finding a contemporary set we liked that we could see in person. I don’t want a junk system and all the nice furniture stores have more traditional styled desks which I don’t want.  This is a first half of the year goal for us.

2. Get a couch for our “sitting room”.  We have a room at the front of the house that is just an extra room.  There isn’t a real purpose for it. We call it the sitting room but we don’t have a need for it.  If we were organized enough I would make it the office, but it doesn’t have any doors to it so you can’t close it off – it’s directly open to our front foyer and the dining room.  If our kids were musical we’d use it for a family piano or something.  Anyways, it is a completely undecorated room except for a bright marigold rug I bought last year.  Otherwise it houses boxes of décor I haven’t hung and things that will eventually go into our office desk.  This year, we’d like to just get a couch for the space so it doesn’t look so empty.  And maybe it will become more of a usable space when we do that.  This is also a higher priority task for Dean.

3. Do a focal wall in our “sitting room”.  I feel like the sitting room should look a little more formal than the other spaces in our house, so I’d like to try a focal wall with some molding this year.  I’ve seen a few blogs who’ve done the project and I think it would look great. Dean has no care to take on this type of project, but I can’t wait to do it and I don’t think it will be too expensive to do.

4. Get rid of the excess in our garage. We have a lot of Goodwill items piled up that take up a ton of space in our garage. (One being a huge dresser!)  I’d also like to hang Dean and I’s bikes so that they don’t take so much floorspace.  I definitely want a clean space by this spring when we start playing outside more and using our extra bay more often. Dean is all about this goal.

5. New bedroom furniture for Dean and I.  This one will depend on our budget. I know this is probably the most expensive of the all things we want to buy this year so a lot will depend on our personal cash flow this year and how we allocate any bonus money that comes our way.  Dean and I are both excited for this to be crossed off the list. We’ve wanted new furniture for years but always pushed it aside for other projects or to wait until we were in our Forever Home so we’d know the layout of our room and could get the right sized pieces.

6. Update Landon’s furniture.  Landon has Dean’s childhood dresser and I’d love to redo it by sanding it and staining it a gray color. I’d also love to take our “kiddie desk” (currently in use in the office) and paint it orange and put it in Landon’s room.  He’ll also get a new bed this year.  My sister needed a place for a double bed during their home renovation and Landon didn’t have a bed yet so we gladly borrowed it for the past year.  But she’s almost done with her house reno and we are ready for a more permanent set up.  This may mean bunk beds or maybe just a regular double/queen.

Other possible projects for the year:  Hang crown molding in our office. Move our fan from the office to our man cave/playroom and hang a fun fixture in the office.  Change our kitchen sink from a 50/50 split to a single bowl. Find some outdoor furniture so we can do meals in the backyard during the warm months.  Redo our half bath – I want to change the color and am thinking about some kind of decorative touches to make it look updated.  Outdoor lighting for our house – it’s dark out there at night and many of the other houses have uplighting that looks awesome.

I’m hopeful that by summer we are at least halfway through this list and we hit some of our other “extra” projects, too.

DIY: Framed!

After a couple trips to our nearby Goodwill’s, I finally scored the perfect and inexpensive frame for the letter artwork in Landon’s room.

If you remember, it looked like this:

Naked, huh?

aftercurtain

Since this is kids room art, I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to frame it and many custom frames for a canvas of this size run $50, $100 and up.  I’m not naïve enough to think that anything in this room isn’t going to take some bumps, kicks and other thrashings, so it was important to keep it cheap.

Enter my amazing $10 Goodwill find.  Yes, this beauty finished the piece – it’s amazing what a $4 can of charcoal gray spraypaint can do.

before frame

And here is the final project:

Lfinal Lfinal3

It looks finished now, doesn’t it?!

Anyone else score amazing “junk” at Goodwill and find a great re-use for it?  “One man’s trash…”

Transforming our Office

**Warning – this post turned out way long… sorry!  This is your advance notice, feel free to just scroll through the pictures to see the transformation quickly!**

When we moved in our house last year, we knew that there wasn’t much needed to “fix up” our house.  We didn’t have to gut a kitchen or refinish floors.  But there were a few rooms that needed a coat of paint and some other small things.  I’ve posted about some of these things on the blog before.  Most of them are “little things” – a tweak here – a change there.

One of the rooms that I really wanted to change from head to toe was our office.  Candidly, this room could be so many things. It’s right there when you walk into our house – but it can be an extra room (it has a closet) or a workout room.  I really wanted to make it a workout room but the only think that held me back was that we need a dedicated office space more.  I could probably have made our “sitting room” (also a wasted space) into an office but because it’s completely open to our dining room, I didn’t want to do that.  I like the idea of being able to close off the doors to our office and keep the mess contained. Because knowing my husband, the desk will likely always be covered with tech books and disks and computer training print outs.

We started the transformation a couple weeks ago.  And the bones are just about done, but not the guts (i.e. we did the walls and floors, but still need new furniture, more storage stuff, etc).

Here are a few pics showing where we started and where we are right now:

1/ Yes, you can see the clutter and chaos we started with.
2/ Cleaned out you can see the dingy rug color, the green walls.
3/ Here is the view from our entryway.
4/ We chose the color “Beach House” – it’s the bottom left color of the two swatches.

office1

1/ This is a great “true match to how the color palette started. A medium toned green and “builders beige” closet.
2/ I wanted to do a color in the closet to give a little pop. My goal down the road is to get some good storage set up in there and I thought a pop of something bright would be a good way to do this. I decided to check the clearance rack at Lowe’s for a small can of Oops paint. I found a marigold color and tested it on the wall. It was a little to dark so I just grabbed an extra 1/3 gal of white I had in the garage, poured in some of the marigold colored paint and mixed at home for my own butter colored creation.
3/This is the after shot of the closet.  To get behind the built in shelf system, I just used a cheap “artists” paintbrush – the kind you’d use if you were Bob Ross painting some puffy clouds and happy trees 🙂

office2

1/ This is painting in process.  Because the under color was so dark we needed two coats to make sure we covered everything. One gallon just covered our room (about 125 s.f.)
2/ This is what the color looked like right after we finished – at about 10pm.
3/ And this was the final look the next morning in daylight. I love how it’s a light blue gray.  Candidly, I wish it was about a shade lighter, but I still think it looks awesome.
4/ And the comparison shot where you can see the blue wall with the yellow closet. (We also installed a few half shelves for additional storage in there. This way it can still be used for long clothing in the future, if needed, but also gives us some of the shelving we need for storage.)

office3

I mentioned that we were installing floors in the office to match the other rooms on the main level. The flooring is Amtico Lime Washed Wood – if you were wondering. We finally got the product delivered and had a handyman come install it for us.  I think it looks so much better with this flooring and I love the idea of a hard surface in the office instead of carpet.

1/Here’s where we stand now.  That is the desk that I’d like to paint and put into Landon’s room, but for now it will remain in our office to hold our computer.  Finding a desk we like has been a struggle.  Most furniture places have more traditional styled furniture which doesn’t go with the style I like. I’d like a more contemporary looking espresso colored unit with lots of storage, shelves and drawers to hold files and books.
2/ I had to start filling up some of the shelves, but this will all move around once we get our office system purchased.  I just needed to get some boxes and “non-kid-friendly items” out of the reach of two curious boys.
3/ Yep, I’m starting to love this space more and more. It’s so much airier and bright with the lighter wall color and floors.

office4

P.S. I’m open to suggestions or links if you have some reputable, quality desk furniture I should check out!