Fixing the Embarrassing Wall

Sorry for the Radio Silence this week – I was in NY last weekend, and Collin worked all weekend, so nothing got done reno-wise. But this week we are back, full steam ahead!

Let’s back-up a little to our last house. The bedroom was so small, we couldn’t fit a dresser. So we ended up buying a bed frame from IKEA that had massive drawers underneath for all of our non-hangable clothing storage. When we were moving, we decided that bed didn’t make the cut and eventually we would get a regular dresser.

Fast forward to 3+ weeks of looking for dressers, and this is what we are left with:

IMG_0127 (1).JPG


Totally Pathetic. All of the pretty pictures of our bedroom re-do have purposefully left out this terrible wall. Time to face the music and get moving on clothing storage.

To start, I spent a ton of time researching dressers. Guys, that is impossible! They are either too small, too expensive or delivery fees are over $150! We have so much to do in this house, we really need to spend money on long term things (like hardwood flooring throughout and a new bathroom). To me, a dresser can be upgraded later down the line. So I scoured Craigslist looking for something I could potentially re-do.

When looking for furniture on Craigslist, I always look for something that is solid wood, clean lines and at a price that isn’t anywhere close to what we could pay for a new dresser.

Finally, I found a dresser that fit the bill. Great storage space, clean lines and solid wood construction. To further entice the buyer, I try to offer same day pick-up. So I emailed the buyer, and told her I would pay the full asking amount ($125 – What a Steal!) and pick up that night. It worked! She said she had about 20 emails requesting the dresser, but they all requested Saturday pick-up, so my offer won out!

Now there was no way this dresser was fitting in my little car, so I scheduled a U-Haul for pick up Tuesday night. U-Haul’s are $20, in town, so totally worth it. And we got our money’s worth on that U-Haul (more on that later).

By late Tuesday night, we were the proud owners of this beauty:



Since we had the U-Haul for 24 hours, we decided we might as well get our money’s worth. Wednesday morning we got up early and headed straight to Home Depot, before work, to pick up 16 pieces of drywall for the hallway and 2nd Guest Room. We needed it next week, but wanted to make the most of our U-Haul time. I headed to work after helping Collin unload and Collin returned the U-Haul.

Tuesday night after work, I got to work on the dresser. I wanted to paint it, and have had success in the past with my version of chalk paint on furniture. Chalk Paint allows you to paint without primer. This piece had been painted before (white) so I was able to paint over it no problem. To start, I mixed up the Chalk Paint. Add about 1/4 cup of Plaster of Paris to a mixing cup, stir in a little water to get it to a paste and add you flat paint (Any color):





(2 coats on the top 3, 1 coat on the bottom)

I stared by painting the drawers and then the base. I used a brush on the majority of the piece, but rolled the sides and top.

While the paint dried,  I started working on the drawer pulls. I was looking for leather pulls to bring a rustic modern vibe. The ones I liked were selling for $15 online for 2 – total of $75 for 11 pulls, crazy town. I wanted leather pulls, so I picked up a bag of leather scraps at Micheal’s (50% off coupon- $4.00 total) and some screws from Lowe’s.

First, you cut the leather down to 4 inch strips:


Fold in half:


And drill a pilot hole:


I added a screw + washer to add some detail. Screw that through both holes:




Then Attach to the drawer:



Final Product:



(Terrible Lighting – this was really late Wednesday night – and we don’t have any lights downstairs 🙂 ) 

I love it! I think it is masculine and will help ground the room. I can’t wait to get it upstairs, get the TV mounted and start filling it with clothes. I still need to finish the protective Wax coat, but am planning on working on that tonight. In total, the dresser cost us around $160 (Dresser, U-Haul, Paint and Leather Plus supplies), and honestly, it is better construction and way more our style then anything we saw in stores that were listed for well over $1000. I say that’s a win! Now to get it upstairs and start styling! Stay tuned!


Last year, in our house prior to this, we built a king size headboard with just some plywood, stained boards and fabric. This headboard has proven to be one of the most adaptable pieces of furniture we have. Since its initial build, we have recovered it several times to change the entire feel of the room for just a few dollars.

Here it is in the last house covered in a muted paisley fabric:



And here it is Recovered in this house:



Lets take a few steps back on how we hung this on the brick wall. To mount anything on brick, you need to use TapCon Screws (Blue screws). For this headboard we used a Cleat Hanger. A Cleat hanger is 2 pieces, one screwed on the headboard and one to the wall, that fit together. Here is what it looks like pre-mount:


To mount to the wall, hold the wall mount portion to the wall at the height you want the headboard and check for level. Then, mark the wall where the screws will go.

Once marked, use the masonry drill bit from TapCon (suggested size on the box) to pre-drill the holes. The box of screws will tell you how deep to drill. Measure that depth (example: 1″ Deep) on your drill bit and tape off, so that you don’t drill too far, or not enough. Your regular drill should work fine.



Once the holes are pre-drilled, hold the wall mount portion of the cleat up to the wall and screw in using the TapCon screws. Check for level before tightening.



Mount the headboard portion of the cleat to the back of the headboard at the desired height:



The headboard will just slide right on. Re-check level and move left or right to get it centered. That’s it!




This was such a great piece, since just a few yards of fabric can change the whole look of the room. For now, it works to add some color and pattern to the space.

To recover, we take off the 3 boards (top and sides) and re staple new fabric to the headboard. In the past, I have used shower curtains, drapes,  drop clothes (for that linen look at a discount) and actual fabric to recover this headboard, so anything will work!

Still have a few things to get done in here:

  • Headboard
  • Dresser and Nightstands (Hoping for Antiques)
  • Updating the light fixture (current boob light is a temp)
  • Real Blinds (Not paper)
  • Quarter Round molding around the baseboards
  • Seating
  • Finish Painting the closet doors (notice how we haven’t seen that angle in a while)
  • Mounting the TV to the wall

Hoping to get to the Closet Doors and TV Mount tonight!


Sunday Funday?

Sunday actually started out fun. We headed to ArtScape, a street festival with food, drinks and art (obviously). It was approximately 150 degrees outside and we had walked around for about 5 hours. When we got home at 2:30, we were dead and ended up passing out on the couch.

At this point, I was thinking all hope was lost for renovation today.

And then I totally forgot that I told Anastasia to come over around 3:00 for painting. So 30 min after falling asleep, the doorbell rang and there she was with arms filled with painting supplies ready to go!

We peeled ourselves off the couch and proceeded muster up some energy to get to work!

Anastasia and I started caulking and priming while Collin worked on the closet floor. We decided to go with Peel and Stick tiles since they are cheap, easy to cut and install, and will not be getting walked on, since the closet isn’t really a walk-in.

Install was complete in 30 minutes:






I didn’t take many pictures of painting the trim, because I hate painting trim already, I don’t need to be photographed with a frown on.

Also, we painted the walls Sunday night:



The picture quality is terrible, we were losing a lot of sunlight



Close-Up of the Trim

We finished everything around 8:30 and headed out for some quick sushi before passing out watching HBO. Exhausted was an understatement…

Monday morning Collin had off, so he took care of clean-up to prep for me to move the furniture in Monday night. He scrubbed every spec of dust off the floors and had them back to shining like the day they were finished (which was about 5 days ago 🙂 )

When I got home from work Monday night, I moved the rug in, set up the bed frame and mattress,  and made the bed. I brought up some extra furniture we had around the house for nightstands and picked up some lamps at Target. I was dead-set on being able to sleep in this room Monday night.



There is still a lot of work to do in here, including:

  • Headboard
  • Dresser and Nightstands (Hoping for Antiques)
  • Updating the light fixture (current boob light is a temp)
  • Real Blinds (Not paper)
  • Quarter Round molding around the baseboards
  • Finish Painting the closet doors (notice how we haven’t seen that angle in a while)
  • Mounting the TV to the wall

Lots to do! At this point, we really need to focus on getting the detail work done in here, otherwise that’s the stuff that never gets finished since the room is pretty livable as is.

Window Trim on Angled Walls

This weekend was filled with detail work, molding, painting and caulking. Saturday, while Collin was working, I worked on finishing the window sills and trim. The windows in the bedroom are on a curved wall with lots of angles. Below is how I created the custom sills:

To Start, I cut the 1 x 6 board down to size (Size of the window + 7 inches for the two 3.5″ trim pieces on each side). Next, I cut some cardboard pieces and fit them to match the window angle:



I hold the pieces at that angle, and lay them on the board to trace:




Then I use my jigsaw to cut the piece:





Once you cut both sides, Slide the sill in, make sure its level and nail in to place:



*Ignore the painted outlet, someone got a little excited with the primer

Next, I worked on the side trim pieces. This was pretty simple, just straight cuts, nailed in to place:



Next piece is the top and bottom boards. Because the wall is angled here, there are some difficult cuts. To start, measure the length between the angles. Then, use the angle tool to figure out the wall angles:




This example was 159 degrees. Here is the math I followed to get the cuts:

180 – 159 = 21

21/2 = 10.5 Degrees

I set the miter saw to 10.5 degrees and cut the edge of the base trim. I duplicated the process on both sides as well as for the top trim. Here is the end result:


All Caulked:


I repeated this process 2 more times to trim out all of the windows, and caulked. Originally, we wanted more trim at the top of the windows, but realized we couldn’t fit it with the crown molding coming in.

After Collin got home Saturday night, we finished the crown molding and called it a night. Here is where we left off on Saturday evening:


Sunday we pretty much killed it. I’ll post about that tomorrow.




Let There Be Light!

After a weekend off from Renovation, too much food and wayyy too much booze, Collin and I had a tough time getting back in to the swing of things this week. But a little motivation came on Tuesday morning to kick us back in to gear:


Master Bedroom Light:



Second Bedroom:



Hallway – Wired for 3 Pendants, but only 1 temp light installed for now:


This is a major task to get checked off! We have not been able to work later then 8 PM since there are no lights upstairs. Also, the walk to the bathroom with no hallway lights was a bit of an issue.

This big ticket project getting checked off was the motivation we needed to do some work after dinner Tuesday night. I worked on trimming out the second closet with the same farmhouse style trim, and Collin worked on Crown Molding.

Crown Molding is the devil (especially in an old house with not square walls). These pictures make it look easy, it is not. We have a few throw away pieces that we keep cutting to test the fit/angles. Also, caulk fixes everything and all the little gaps will not be noticeable after some caulk and paint.






We ended up getting 3 pieces installed last night. The rest of the crown molding will take a couple of days, since we are only expecting to get a few pieces up per night.

Backing up a bit, on Monday, Collin was able to seal the brick. We use the Behr brick sealer in low luster to seal the brick, mortar and give a slight shine to the wall. It works perfect and stops the wall from creating any dust or debris.

This week and weekend will be committed to caulking and painting. Also, picked up some supplies to give the closet a bit of an update!


Floor Reveal and Molding Sneak Peek

Drum Roll Please …..


I LOVE them!

They are warm and reddish, without being too red. The perfect color for a home of this period. I am ready to not put any furniture up there and just stare at the floors for the rest of my life…

But the show must go on. So last night (Thursday) I started on some door frame moldings for the closet doors. I only had about an hour of work time before I had to start making dinner and heading out for movie night, but I figured an hour is better than nothing.

Next week I will detail out the how-to for the moldings, but for now here’s the one door:


This style of molding adds so much character to the room! I can’t wait to see what it looks like on the windows!

After the moldings last night, Collin, JoJo and I headed to the American Visionary Museum for movie on the hill. They were showing Ferris Bueller, so we couldn’t miss out!

This weekend Meghan, Johnnie, Matt and Catherine come to visit, so there will be no progress to report on Monday!


Floors – Day 3

Last time we left off, we had 2 coats of Poly on the floors. I wanted to quickly detail out how we finish the floors in between Poly Coats.

After Collin put the second Coat of Poly on the bedroom floors, I had to do the final coat about 8 hours later. We used a 400 Grit hand sander.

First, you sand the floors by hand just looking to smooth out the finish even more:



This is a scary step because you new beautiful shiny hardwoods will now look like this:



When you run your hand over the floor at this point, they should feel smooth as glass.

Next, you use a tack cloth to wipe the floors clean and remove all dust particles. Anything left behind will be attached to your floors forever, so make sure you do a thorough job on this.



Finally, you can move around the room edging the floors and then rolling on the final Poly coat.

The floors need to set for 72 Hours before we can move furniture in to the room. This means 72 hours of no construction work for us! We will be making the most of the few nights off from reno and enjoying long summer walks and cooking dinner!

Be Back Friday with the final floor Reveal!





4th of July Weekend Work

Thankfully, it was a rainy 4th of July Weekend, or I would have felt guilty that we did nothing 4th of July related. At this point, 3 day weekends are the most valuable for getting things done around the house. So, we made some major changes Sunday and Monday.

Last post (Saturday, 7/2), we left off with the room sanded and ready for paint. Going out Saturday night was super fun, we were sluggish to say the least on Sunday morning, but the show must go on… Sunday Collin finally had off. We started with our usual trip to Home Depot for paint and closet doors.

1st up, Closet Doors! I wanted French Style doors, but didn’t want to pay the price for custom size. So after a bit of googling, I figured out we can make Bi-fold doors in to French Doors!

To start, take regular Bi-fold doors that are the size of your opening (in our case – 36″). Remove the Hinges in the middle that make them fold. and install using hinges on the outside:







There was one door that was a little snug, so Collin used a Planer to shave a bit of the edge off:



(I swear – he does OWN shirts)

The end Result:


Next Up: Paint!

I took exactly zero picture of us painting, but the general gist was Collin rolls the ceiling while I watch and supply drinks. Then I use the brush to cut in on the edges of the walls and corners while Collin rolls the wall paint.

We were done by 5 PM Sunday with paint, cleaned up a bit and (you guessed it), went out to dinner, again. The eating out thing is getting old, but I am too exhausted to cook and clean…

Monday Collin had work, so I decided I was perfectly capable of re-doing the floors on my own.

Before I could start the project, I needed to decide on stain color. I had bought some samples, so I sanded down an area of the floor that I knew would be under the bed, and tested some colors. I’m so glad I did, because I ended up choosing a different one then originally wanted. Here are the samples:


I ended up choosing the middle one (English Chestnut). It is almost identical to the far left (Provincial) but a little more red. I though that would go with the character and time period of this 1901 home better.

After I was set with color, I started the day with my morning trip to Home Depot for supplies and to rent an Orbital Floor Sander.

To sand the floors, you start with a really low grit paper (40 Grit) on the orbital sander. This will take off the majority of the current finish and stain:


The orbital sander is heavy and is a crazy ab workout, but once you get the hang of it you can move quickly.

Don’t forge the edges:


All Done:

IMG_0772 (1)

You need to repeat this process 2 more times, moving up in Grit of Sandpaper (60 Grit, 100 Grit).

Once finished, employ your bestie to come over and help 🙂

Next step is pre-stain. Supposedly, pre-stain opens the pours of the wood to accept stain more evenly. I have not tested this theory, but I am too scared not to use it.

One person can do the edges and the other rolls on the pre-stain.


Don’t forget the booties (no Dust or lint allowed in the room!)


Pre-Stain done!

It looks nice, but it will dry in to the wood, so don’t be fooled it will stay like this!

A half an hour later, you can start with the stain. When you apply the stain, it is going to go on darker and glossier then expected. Apply small areas at one time, start with edges and wipe on stain. Wait 10 minutes then use a clean rag to wipe off:


Apply, then wipe off:


Remember to only work at arms length, you will need to be able to reach to wipe off.

All Done:


Now, it needed time to dry before the Polyurethane Coat, so, dinner and drinks it is.

We got home around 8 PM and had to get back in to work mode to finish the first coat of Poly. The process is the same as the stain, first edge then roll, except you do not wipe off during Poly. Just apply and ensure it is not streaky or bubbly. It should have a nice smooth finish.

Collin and I were able to get this done by 9 and watch the Fort McHenry fireworks out the window of the guest room by 9:30.

Collin didn’t have work until later in the day Tuesday morning, so he got up early, returned the rented sander and applied a second coat of Poly.

The plan is for me to apply the final coat tonight after work – Sanding with a 300 grit sandpaper in between coats to get rid of air bubbles, then wiping with a tack cloth to make sure their is NO dust in the room or on the floors.

Once the final coat is on, the floor needs 3 days to cure before we put furniture on it, so the waiting game begins!




Weekly Update

Last week/this weekend was the most productive we’ve had so far in this house. I’m going start wayyyy back to last Monday (6/27). We spent Monday and Tuesday patching and sanding the window wall and ceiling.

Wednesday, we started removing wallpaper on the “TV Wall”. After removing an entire house worth of wallpaper in our Conkling St House (house #1) we are pretty much experts. We prefer to use a wallpaper steamer.



To start, remove any top wallpaper first. In this case, you could easily peel it from the seams. All that should be remaining is the under layer (looks like a brown paper bag stuck to the wall). Next, you fill the steamer with water and let it heat up. Once you apply the steamer to the wall, you just hold it there for about 30 seconds. After you remove it, you should be able to use a scraper tool to just peel the wallpaper right off.



Thursday we decided to turn our attention to the Closet Wall. Originally, the room had a 96″ x 80″ mirrored sliding door that was bit much. So we decided two sets of small French doors would do the trick, look nice, and allow full access to the closet. Here is the before:



(Image from House listing – that’s a lot of mirrors!)

To start the doors, we removed the mirrors and slider frames, measured, and framed out the closet doors to be a standard 36″ wide.





Friday, I worked to cut and mount drywall on the Closet wall. We ran out of dry wall mid-day (of course) so I had to make a Home Depot run. **We need to invest in a bigger car! It is not easy to cut drywall in the Home Depot parking lot and then load it in to your Mazda HatchBack alone…



By end of day Friday, the wall was fully drywalled and patched.



Saturday, Collin had work, so I started the day with some Hot Yoga and Breakfast with Anastasia. When I got home, I needed to prep for paint tomorrow. Since the “TV Wall” is plaster, it needed to be skim coated to allow for a smooth finish. I skimmed the TV Wall with plaster. It needed about 2 hours of dry time, so I did what anyone would do…

Hit the pool!


After a few hours pool side, I came back, sanded and gave the wall a second coat. By Saturday night, we were able to sand the whole room sanded once more and have it ready for paint in the morning.



First Coat


Final Coat – After Sanding

When Collin got home from work Saturday night, we needed to prime the whole room to be ready for paint in the morning:


We started losing daylight, but were able to get everything primed and ready.

That night we went out to dinner and drinks (too many drinks), you can hear more about that on the rest of the weekend post!

This post is getting lengthy so I’ll continue Sunday and Monday in a new post!