Picking out Flooring

I feel pretty guilty writing this post about picking wood floors, because both rooms already have wood floors. However, I have a few problems with the current Hardwoods:

  • Board Width
  • Color
  • Inconsistency

Now, I understand this is very definition of first world problems, but with all of the time, money and effort we are putting in to this house I want the floors to be right.

To start, I prefer a wider floor board than the current 2.5″ oak hardwoods. Just personal preference.

Next, the color of the floors is too light and peachy. We considered sanding and re-staining the floors, but 1) We tried to DIY that upstairs in the bedroom and it didn’t turn out great. We had to redo it again in this post 2) The cost of getting it professionally done was more than putting in new floors ourselves 3) It doesn’t solve the Board Width or Inconsistency problem (More on that to come). We wanted it to flow with the dark upstairs flooring, but it didn’t need to be exact since the staircase can marry the two at a later time.


Finally, the most important part: Inconsistency. Our house is long and narrow and the rooms are already small. Having different floors in each room makes the house feel more choppy than it actually is.

The front living room has very old, original hardwoods. They have been patched over time, and have seen better days. They are not the same color, width or even height as the new Kitchen and Den’s current floors (you can slightly see the little lip at the opening to the new kitchen):


(They look nice and shiny in this picture, but that was the day we polished them. They have since dulled and need to be re-polished every 6 months – I don’t have time for that. Also, the border looks great, but since it was there before the rest of the room, it doesn’t border around things, like the fireplace and the closet – just cuts right through them)

So the decision was made to install all new wood floors throughout the first floor. We are going to level out the Living Room floors with plywood to bring it up to the height of the kitchen and install a floating, engineered hardwood right on top of both floors. No Nails, no glue, so if anyone down the road ever wanted to rip them up, there are pretty peach floors underneath!

We thought about doing the same floors as upstairs, but since we are installing on top of hardwoods, we wouldn’t be able to nail them down. To install hardwoods over hardwoods it is recommended you run them in the opposite direction. In this instance, that would not look right sine the current hardwoods are already running in the right direction. And honestly, we don’t have the time, money or patience to rip up all of the current floors. The next best option was a floating engineered hardwood.

Once we decided on that, everything went smoothly! We did a few runs to some flooring stores as well as Home Depot and picked up some samples to bring home. We stayed in the same color family as upstairs so the house feels open and consistent.

We decided on these Bamboo HandScraped Hardwoods. They look way more expensive than the others we selected, the color matches upstairs perfectly and we’re hoping since they are click and lock, they will be easy to install.


We also purchased this underlayment. It is more expensive than others, but the additional thickness will a help with keeping the floors feeling warm under foot and additional sound dampening.

I picked up 17 boxes of flooring on Monday and Tuesday afternoon since my little car can only hold so much product at once. These floors require 24 Hours of acclimation, so they have just been sitting and hanging out for a few days until we are ready to install.

Yesterday, I got a call from the Cabinet people that they will be delivering cabinets on Monday (yikes!), so the heat is on to complete all of the sanding, painting and flooring this weekend. And did I mention Collin has work on Saturday!?! Wish us luck!

The Kitchen Ceilings Are In!

Sunday was a big day – Drywall and Farmer’s Market Opening Day! Collin and I loveee the Farmer’s Market we have here in Baltimore. It’s huge and we spend almost every Sunday morning strolling around grabbing coffee, breakfast, produce and flowers for the week. It finally re-opened this weekend (after being closed for the winter months), so it was our first stop Sunday morning.

After eating our way through the Farmer’s Market, we headed to Home Depot to pick up the Drywall Lift (as seen in this post) and a few other materials.

Once we got home, we got right to work on getting those Kitchen ceilings up! Anastasia came over to help. We started working our way around the room, cutting out the holes for the lighting as we went. Collin is meticulous about getting the measurements correct. It drives me crazy because I have zero patience, but it makes for a P-E-R-F-E-C-T ceiling.




The two holes in the center are where the Pendant lights will hang. You can even see the peninsula taped out on the floors!

Last week we had decided to rip down the division between the two rooms completely. I’m so glad we did, because the flat, uninterrupted ceiling makes a world of difference! It makes both rooms feel so big and open!


During the time Collin was working on the drywall, I did have a chance to sneak out and grab some groceries for the week and some ingredients for dinner. I spent the later part of the afternoon cooking, meal prepping and cleaning around the house, while Collin got the ceiling spackled. We ended the night with some board games outside, a BBQ and some well deserved beers.

The next few days should be filled with Sanding, spackling all additional coats and *hopefully* painting. I picked up all of the Hardwoods last night, so I’ll be back tomorrow with a full post on how we came to that final decision!



Shiplap in the Den

I’m planning for this week to be a little Post heavy, since we are racing through this kitchen renovation and I don’t want to miss a thing! This week is Jam Packed all in preparation for the floor install this weekend. As I have said before, we are planning on having everything dry-walled, sanded, primed and painted by Friday!

So to keep on track, let’s go back to Saturday. Collin had work all day, so I was on my own. My goal was to focus on the back wall of the den.

This wall had wallpaper. In the past, I had attempted to remove it, but since there is some type of cement behind it, when I would remove the wallpaper it would take huge patches of wall down with it (see above the door as proof). It was refusing to budge, so we had to come up with a Plan B.



We thought about wallpapering right over it, but I wasn’t thrilled about the price, and how it would be such a feature wall. I was having a hard time committing to a pattern and it was overwhelming. I wanted something neutral and within a tight budget!

We decided on Shiplap. I love how cheap it is to install, and how it brings the element from the front living room back to the back of the house.

*Remember the front living room Shiplap:


So Saturday morning, I headed to Home Depot and bought 3 pieces of 1/4″ Underlayment. Each board was $16. I had Home Depot cut it down to 24″ pieces so that it would fit in my car, and I trekked it home.

First, I had to take some time to remove the wallpaper on the bump out to the right that houses our HVAC. I removed the wall paper, sanded and patched that area before installing the Ship Lap.

Now on to the Ship Lap boards. I used my circular saw to cut the 24″ pieces down to three 8″ boards. I went with 8″ boards because that matched the width of the boards in the front living room. I started with the board above the door.


After making sure the board was level, I used Liquid Nails on the back of the board and my nail gun to hold them in place. I also used a nickle as the spacer in between boards.

I was able to finish the project in about 2 hours. It still needs to be caulked and sanded, and obviously primed and painted, but for under $50, I think it will look great!


I’ll be back tomorrow with the Sunday work and the some big update pictures, so stay tuned!

Subs and Shopping

Stopping by for a quick re-cap from last week. We were in New York for Easter, so no work over the weekend, which was a welcome break. But now we are back full force to knock a bunch of items off the old to-do list!

This past week was all about Sub-Contractors and Shopping! I love Sub-Contractors because all I have to do is sit around at home and major and expensive Items get done without any of my involvement. It’s glorious.

As we discussed last week, we had chosen an electrician and plumber. The Plumber was here last Tuesday and Roughed-in the sink and gas lines for the stove. When he comes back after the appliances are delivered, he will add water for the fridge and Dishwasher.

The electrician came last Thursday and Friday and wired for the oh-so-needed lights. In total he added:

  • 4 Recessed Lights around the room
  • 1 Recessed Light above the sink
  • 2 Pendant Light boxes above the peninsula
  • Outlets for:
    • Dishwasher
    • Garbage Disposal
    • Fridge
    • Oven
    • Sweep-O-Vac (most exciting purchase)
    • Microwave
  • 7 Additional Outlets for around the kitchen


We had our inspector in yesterday and we passed! So now it’s time to drywall those walls closed!

Now for the fun part: Shopping! I spent the better part of last week finalizing decisions on some items that needed to be ordered. I was able to purchase:

  • Chandelier for the Den – Went with this one. It came in and is gorg – and the price couldn’t be beat! Can’t wait to get it hung!
  • Vent Hood (ordered from Amazon) – Self-Venting
  • APPLIANCES! The Refrigerator, Oven and Dishwasher were ordered from Sears during the 35% off sale. They are scheduled for Delivery in 2 weeks, so the timer is ticking on getting the floors installed!
  • Pendants <– Ordered, but I’m pretty sure they got stolen off my stoop. Ahh City Living at its finest! I am arguing with Amazon about it, but they were only $25 for 2 of them, so I won’t lose sleep over it if I have to re-order.

I will be ordering the Cabinets next week. I had to wait on placing the order because I do not want them getting delivered before the floors are installed. We will run out of places to store the boxes!

This week/weekend is Drywall! That should make these rooms feel less like a construction zone and more like actual rooms. The goal is to have the drywall up, sanded and painted before we put the floors down, just to keep the new floors as clean as possible. Hopefully I’ll be back with a BIG post next week with lots of beautiful pictures of finished walls and cleaned up rooms <– Possibly a bit optimistic, but a girl can dream.

Slowest 2 Weeks Ever!

Sorry I have been MIA, but there have not been any major updates in the last 2 weeks! Luckily we are moving the kitchen to another room, so we are not without a kitchen, or I would have lost my mind already!

Last we left off, the exterior on the window had been completed. I never showed a picture of what it looked like from the inside:

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We used spray foam insulation to get in to the tiny cracks and then insulated with the regular old pink stuff (no idea what that is called). Honestly, I am pretty sure this makes this area the most insulated part of the house!

Also in the last post, I hinted that Collin had installed the drywall in the Den. That got completed and patched up – ready for sanding and painting. I also ordered the chandelier that will hang where that dinky little light bulb is now:

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Now for less exciting updates that have been going on the last 2 Weeks. Normally we use the same Electrician, for everything. I call him up, his team comes out and does the work. So when we finished framing the new kitchen, I gave him a call as always to wire the electrical. His quoter came out and quoted us more than double what I had budgeted for the space. BUMMER! So we had then spend the next 10 days getting quotes from multiple electricians. I know I should have done this earlier, but I was really OK with spending the money for the Electrician I trusted. But honestly, when a quote from a similar electrician comes back at HALF the price, I don’t have a choice (and yes, we went with another reputable company that’s licensed and insured and has great reviews, blah blah blah).

So basically it saved us $2500, but put us behind on the renovation about 2 weeks. But we were still able to make a few little updates.

Since the last post, we had the plumber in to set up the rough in plumbing (Sink and Gas Stove). Also, we demo’d the little side wall. I forgot to take a before picture, but you can see it below behind Collin:

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The wall came out about 16″. The initial plan was keep it and run an old beam across to add some more character in the space, but once I finalized the kitchen cabinets, I felt like the walkway became too tight, especially since there are going to be bar stools right there. For reference, you can kind of see the blue tape on the floor in the picture below. That will be our peninsula. So I asked Collin to demo the little wall. Again, I think the beam would have been great, but this will help with keeping the open feeling and making the rooms seem bigger.


Now for what’s next! The electricians are here today! I seriously can not wait to have lighting in this room! They are adding 5 (!) recessed lights.  We have not had lights in this room, aside from a standing lamp, since we moved in.

Another are that’s getting some attention is new Master Bedroom window treatments and nightstands. I’ll put a post together once we get the window treatments installed, but it’s already a major improvement. That Master Bedroom is almost 100% complete. All we need is a new Chandelier, and we can call that room D-O-N-E!

This weekend we are in New York for Easter, so no planned work, but next week we are back full force! We have drywall to put up, patch and sand along with painting. I’m really trying to get all of the messy things completed before we put the new floors down!

The goal is to be done before Memorial Day, so we can take a break and enjoy the summer! It might be taking longer than planned, but I think any and all frustration will melt away when I am washing the dishes in a dishwasher!


The Window from Hell

Since the goal of this blog is to be somewhat of a journal, and not just full of roses and unicorns and pretty pictures, we must write about a window that took 4 days of headaches and blood and tears.

Lets start with the before’s. A really nice floor to ceiling window (with an ugly view of the alley that houses ours and our neighbors AC units).

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With the new kitchen going in we needed to replace this window with a smaller one so that we could utilize the space underneath for cabinets and counter tops. So the plan was to remove the window, re-frame the window, install the new window and patch it up. Easy, Right?


To start, we went to Home Depot to purchase a new window. We found a replacement window that was the size we liked and took it home.

Problem #1 (of many): Even though we technically are replacing a window, we needed a new construction window, since we are re-framing. Apparently, replacement windows are for when you are replacing an old window with a new one of the exact same size. 

The real headaches started on Thursday. Collin was off, so I tasked him with removing the old window and re-framing for the new one.

Problem #2: You should not do this project when you are expecting 2+ Inches of rain the next day. 

So, Collin proceed with removing the old window and retro fitting a new frame for the new window. He did a bad-ass job and looked really promising! I got home from work to this perfection:

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We spent the next hour closing up the wall with cement board before installing the window.

Next up was to install the window. After screwing it in all I kept saying was “This doesn’t look like it does on YouTube.” It was 6 PM, and after googling for 30 minutes, I realized our Replacement Window mistake. At this point we have an entirely open wall of our house for robbers, animals and rain to just just waltz right in.

So I booked it to Home Depot to figure it out. While I was wandering the Home Depot NEW CONSTRUCTION windows, I found out that they don’t stock the size window we already framed for.

Problem #3: Make sure you have the right window before you frame!

I got a window that was a few inches smaller, called Collin at home with the new dimensions and had him start re-framing. He was really really excited about this, obviously.

By the time I got home, Collin had fixed the opening and we installed the window.

With the window being at least semi-secure, we covered it with a tarp and headed straight to the bar for dinner and drinks.

The next day it rained for about 12 Hours straight, so the window just sat, in its freezing cold room. Luckily, because of the tarp, no water was able to get in to the house.

On Saturday, Collin had work, so I was going to finish this project for good (such confidence early in the morning). I headed to Home Depot nice and early to pick up Stucco supplies.

When I got home, I spent time adding this waterproof barrier around the corners and the window. Then I applied the first coat of Stucco. I was done by 11 AM, and I was feeling like I could conquer the world.


I came back around 1 PM to see if it was drying OK, and it was not. Instead it was literally sliding off the wall. I believe the waterproofing I used was not meant for Stucco to be applied over it.

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I cried, for like a second, got back in the car and headed to Lowe’s to pick up Vinyl Siding.

After reading a few articles, I picked up the pieces I thought I needed. I got home, installed the 2 side J-Strip pieces around the window and down the sides of the area. Of course I was one strip short, but I could at least start the work. (FYI: I followed this tutorial)

By the end of day 3, I was left with this:


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Sunday morning, Collin was off. After a nice walk and some breakfast, I headed back to Lowe’s to get the last strip of vinyl I needed. When I got home, I kept on cutting and installing the vinyl around the window.

That was where the blood came in. I should have purchased the $30 vinyl cutting tool, but I was too cheap. So I cut it with a scissor. It worked, but my hands were literally bleeding it took so much effort. I will surely skip a manicure this week as I do not need my judgey manicurist telling me that my hands don’t look like a lady, for the 3rd week in a row.

The actual install process was surprisingly easy. I will definitely try vinyl siding again in the future, with the correct tool. While I was working on the window, Collin was cutting and installing drywall inside. Spoiler Alert: It looks great! But we’ll get back to that later this week

By the end of the day Sunday, here’s what we had:


Isn’t she a beaut!?!

I Clear Caulked all around the window and edges. This baby is waterproof and gorg. Too bad no one will ever see it, like ever.