Tuesday, April 23, 2013

House reno and DIY updates

So I'm not sure how I've squeezed in any crafts, but I guess if a mom of six can, so can I!

We've been putting our tax return to good use around here. Having a baby and buying and updating a house all in one year is pretty good in Uncle Sam's eyes :)

Something we've been wanting to do since we moved in was update the kitchen appliances. But we thought that was something that might have to wait a few years. I'd been browsing craigslist for a great bargain on a stove, because ours was starting to be very sensitive. And of course there was that annoying bottom drawer that's half broken. And then our microwave got even worse. It was already slow, but it was getting even slower. And it didn't have a turntable.

So, we started looking at microwaves. At least $100 new (we had to have an over the range one). And I put out search alerts on craigslist. I really wanted stainless, but after weeks of waiting, I could see that nothing was going to come up on my limited budget. So I decided to switch to white. Easier to find and easier on the pocketbook. And probably more in keeping with the home values in our neighborhood.

Well the deal of the century popped up. A white smooth top GE stove, for $200. We decided to crunch the numbers, put off some other things and get it. Then a few days later, John saw a microwave at a thrift store for $18. With the mounting hardware. No lie. Then a friend of ours remodeled their kitchen, and we got their old dishwasher, for $40. It took several weeks to find the fridge. I really wanted a side-by-side. Ice and water in the door, heaven! However, this must be the holy grail on craigslist. They don't come up often, and several times, they were gone within hours, before I could call. Then, there was the width of our opening. Many were just an inch or two too wide. We thought we might have to get a top and bottom style. But then those would usually be like 5 inches narrower than our current top and bottom. And I didn't want to lose that much space.

Finally, one came along. I didn't even negotiate. I bought it just from one photo, and John picked it up the next day. I wish I would have negotiated. The ad said like new. Like, not! But, given all the factors I had (color, width, price), we are keeping it. And I like it. It's just got more scratches and dings than I ever thought a "like new" fridge would have. That part was a total lie on their part. They were also smokers. Thankfully a good cleaning and baking soda took care of that. It's also an off-white. Not almond, not cream, just an off white. Unusual color for a fridge really. But- it still blends in just fine.

So, by the time we bought everything and sold our old appliances, we were able to replace everything for $250. I'd say that is pretty reasonable. Of course it would have cost us more in labor and installation, except we have great friends who are always willing to lend a hand. Even if that means fighting with a microwave at 9pm. Why is everything always twice as hard as you think it will be? The only thing that was an easy switch was the fridge. Everything else required modifying. Thankfully my father-in-law eletrician fixed our stove plug. For some reason the height of the old one and the new one didn't match up, so it sat 2 inches out from the wall until he fixed it.

And speaking of dads who fix things- he also installed a vent fan in our bathroom. I am so glad! I really don't like the constant moist smell our bathroom had. He also fixed our laundry room light (no more fumbling with laundry in the dark!) which turned out to be only loose wires in the switch. And our front door deadbolt now slides easily since he widened the opening with his router.  It's the little (big) things in life! All that labor would have been a couple hundred bucks with a handyman.

So once the laundry room was complete, I had to add a new rug, and get something up on that blank wall. I wanted to get away from the all green theme. So I added in bold colors. Rug purchased at Ross and mirror gifted to me by mom from Hobby Lobby.

The way it was when we bought it. It makes me queasy to see this photo. (From the MLS listing)

The kitchen after paint but before new appliances. Notice the blank wall to the right of the fridge



The $18 microwave. There are hairline cracks in the plastic. For $18 I don't care!
$40 dishwasher. That's really a half inch too big. I thought they were all the same size! Oops.

The $250 "Like new" fridge. I do love the ice and water in the door!

The $200 stove. No complaints here. We love it!

This isn't new, but I took a photo just because it was one of the best things we changed in the kitchen. The prior non-gooseneck chrome faucet made the sink depth like 8 inches. Awful!

I had to brag on our orchid. I got this as a gift when I left my old job last April. A year later John has kept it very happy and healthy. It made it through its dormant winter season and sprouted 12!!! new blooms this year! He uses worm tea (worm pee) to fertilize it. It's so healthy it had to have a new bigger pot! I love looking at it above our sink.
So that's the kitchen update. I like buying "new to us" things. It's both eco-friendly and budget-friendly!

Then I've also been tweaking a few things outside. John has been working on the grass. Right now it's mostly brown and dead (on purpose). But the new grass seed is down, and just barely showing growth in some areas. I can't wait to take a photo once it's green again. Right now I'm jealous of our neighbor's mowed (but green) weeds!

But if you remember in this post I talked about our mailbox. That we hated. That other people loved. People who don't live here. People who didn't know that it is small, and leaks, and looks antique which is certainly not my thing. I started off white, with a gold top. Then we sprayed it black to make do.
Then John finally dominated it. It required renting a jack hammer, a lot of sweat, and then a grinder to cut down the pole that held up the address sign. But it is gone!

Gone. Nothing but a big hole in the ground now. The green grass/weeds gone. The juniper against the house, gone.
The new mailbox. Package sized for John's business.
So the new mailbox was great for John. Functional. But to me it was a big black utilitarian thing. And I wanted some flair! So I decided to be really trendy and go with chevron stripes. I found a stencil on Pinterest, modified it to my needs and cut it out on cardstock. Then I bought a paint sample from Lowes and used white and turquoise that we already owned (the blue hue is Sophie's wall color). I want to paint the post the taupe color also. And the shutters and porch rails on the house. But that's down the road. Hopefully by the end of May, especially since my sweet husband offered to do the painting, after I asked if we could hire it out :)

Ok so don't look closely at the stripes. From 2 feet away they look fine. If you're driving by the look perfect. Up close, they look hand done. Which they are. But I did have a stencil. Let me tell you- painting a stencil is tough. I definitely would recommend using spray adhesive to make the stencil stick in place. I had a lot of bleed through and had to go back with a tiny brush and redo all the edges. I also hope this lasts a bit because I used latex interior paint on a shiny metal mailbox that has a ridged texture to it. This also made stenciling tough.

But for now, I like it. I even painted out house numbers the teal and re-hung them vertically. I'll show that once the yard and shutters are done.

Oh, I also tried my hand at mesh ribbon wreaths.
Excuse my wilted raffia. And that's the mailbox before the monogram, from a more flattering distance :)

I'll be very excited to show you the outside of the house! I love getting it personalized. I'm trying to kick the 80's old-man-owned monochromatic scheme it had when we bought it. The corrugated metal awnings make it tough to give it a modern look, but since they get us a homeowners discount I just pretend they're not there :)


  1. Y'all have done a great job! Can't believe you've gotten it all done with a newborn!

  2. The project looks like a handful, but you were able to finish it on time. And it turned out great! The whole looks more fashionably chic and comfy, thanks to the color combination that you chose. Good job!

    Lynn Williamson @ DAL Builders


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