Our Virginia House: One Year Later

I can not believe it’s been a year. Well, it’s kind of been a year. Today marks one year since we first walked into this house with our realtor, Gwen. This was the first house we looked at that day, and we were both ready to write an offer before we even got back to the car. We had about 6 more that she had made appointments for, so we dutifully checked those out, but none even came close to this one. So, the next day we went to her office to make our offer, and the next day she called me to let us know that it was accepted. Yay!

We closed on the house in early December, and literally started tearing down the things we didn’t like on day two. I remember standing in the living room, talking about what we wanted to do with the space. Graham started taking down the chair railing, I started pulling off wallpaper, and before we knew it, the room looked like this:2015-12-20-11-24-39-1

We’ve done SO much over the past year. Everything from small projects (like painting the bedrooms), to HUGE projects (like brand new siding), and I honestly think we both love this house more and more every day.

So, let’s me bombard you with a ton of before and after photos.

The House: 2016-06-05 11.42.31grey-house-pink-front-doorgrey-house-pink-front-door-32016-06-16-20-52-24You can read more about our siding & the pink front door here. The only thing left on our exterior to do list is to update the landscaping. A very hot, dry summer killed nearly all the plants out front. Luckily most of them were planted in galvanized buckets, so they’ll be easy to get rid of. We’re going to keep it simple (and low maintenance): boxwoods & hostas in the front beds, aerate and plant more grass, and in the bed on the side, I think I’m going to plant something bee friendly.

The living room:living room 2016-06-17 00.11.292016-06-17 00.12.002016-06-17 00.09.46This space is so close to finished. All we have left to do in here is to hang pictures over the couch, and for Graham to build doors for the two bottom shelves of the built-ins. We’ve also updated the ottoman from the disgusting grey and white one pictured to a solid grey one. Considering it’s sitting on a grey rug, the room needs a pop of color. So, I’m on the hunt for a bright rug, but I’m not in any hurry. If you want to see more before and after pictures, you can read more here.

The Dining Room:Dining room2016-06-17-01-18-492016-06-17-01-20-322016-06-17-00-45-46The dining room used to be a second living area, which we don’t need. It would literally have ended up as another storage space. What we DID need though was a bigger kitchen. So, we decided to turn the second living area into a dining room, and expand the kitchen into the old dining room (we now refer to that space as the kitchen annex). This room was the easiest room of the house to update. There was no wallpaper, no paneling, no chair railing (the only room on the first floor with none of those things). All it needed was fresh paint (Benjamin Moore’s Black Pepper). It does still need a light fixture, but that’ll come next year when G gets home.

Half Bathroom:half-bath2016-09-02-03-52-022016-09-02-17-33-48This room is 100% finished, and I love it more than it’s probably normal to love a bathroom. You can read more about the remodel here. I’m so glad that I let Graham do the wainscoting, I’m so glad we splurged on the tile and the sink. I just love this space so much.

Master Bedroom:master bedroom 2 Master bedroom 2016-03-11 04.42.57 2016-03-11 04.45.052016-03-11 04.40.45Excluding the hallway, which has wallpaper, the rooms upstairs are only in need of new paint. However, our bedroom is the only room that has actually been painted. It’s not the largest room in the world, but it’s a good size. I can’t get over how tiny it looks in the before photos.

Kitchen Nook:12226966_10102221202589367_3226349745380194267_n2016-06-23-16-48-392016-07-05-23-34-172016-07-05-23-35-02
Taking down wallpaper only to put wallpaper back up felt pretty ridiculous, but it was necessary. It was after we started ripping down wallpaper that Graham mentioned how lucky we were that the wallpaper wasn’t covering really bad walls. That thought never occurred to me. Then I get to the nook, and the walls were REALLY, really bad. The walls were so bad, it made me wonder if the nook was an addition. They just looked and felt different. So, we decided to put up wallpaper, to save ourselves about 4 years of spackling and sanding. We also decided to put trim up on the opening. Corners are the worst part, and they’re so delicate. So, this substantial trim not only makes the opening look more finished, but it also will help protect the walls over the years when people inevitably bump into the corners with pieces of furniture.

And for the rooms that still have a looooooong way to go (and for the most part look SO MUCH WORSE than they did on that first day)… no pictures of those since they’re depressing to look at. Maybe next time I do an update the after pictures will be blog worthy 🙂


The Most Beautiful Half Bathroom Ever.

When we moved into this house, the half bathroom was completely fine. It was way too brown, but not bad at all. Our biggest issue was the size of the vanity. It was WAY too large for the space.half-bathSo, we bought a pretty pedastel sink and planned an “easy” bathroom makeover. But, of course home improvement never goes according to plan. When we sold the vanity in February, we learned that the floor underneath was unfinished. Deja vu, right?2016-02-20-11-34-10-1 Graham had a utility sink that we stuck in the bathroom until we were ready to renovate. Such a pretty bathroom to live with for 6 months, right? 2016-03-11-05-01-19 Anyways, before Graham left for Honduras we finally finished the bathroom. And it’s more beautiful than I ever thought a teeny tiny half bathroom could be. Everything was replaced, even things that were technically fine and in good shape (like the light fixture). We spent more money than we planned (of course), but we both think it was all worth it.
2016-09-02-17-05-16Buddy’s a big fan of the new space…2016-09-10-14-58-08(If anyone knows why there is a painting of George Washington in my bathroom, I’ll send you some cookies 🙂 2016-09-10-14-59-32 2016-09-02-17-33-34 It’s actually not what I had originally planned, but I love it so much more than I loved my initial ideas. This is the same paint color that we have in the dining room, and I’m still obsessed with it. Since the color is so dark, and it’s such a small space, Graham really wanted to do wainscoting in the room. I was against it at first, since I love this color SO much, but I’m glad I let him do it. It looks AMAZING. 2016-09-02-17-33-38One of the things I love most about this room though is the GORGEOUS tile we picked for the floor. Once it was down, we decided to use the same tile when we eventually do the laundry room & kitchen… Making the trip to Canada pointless but still so much fun.
2016-08-30-12-18-42 2016-09-02-17-33-42 2016-09-02-17-33-48 Didn’t G do an amazing job on the wainscoting? 2016-09-02-17-33-54So there you have it. The last home improvement you’ll see for a while. But seriously, seeing how amazing the bathroom turned out has me SO excited for the other house projects we have planned. Like the kitchen. ESPECIALLY the kitchen.

Sources: Sink, Mirror, Light Fixture, Floor Tile

Our Living Room Transformation

We’ve been living in our house for about 5 months. Other than the massive photo dump of exterior photos yesterday, I really haven’t shared much about the house since this post back from March. But last week, our homes exterior wasn’t the only area that saw some big changes. Our built-ins & fireplace are mostly finished (they still need doors to cover the bottom two shelves).
2016-06-17 00.13.49Honestly, I love this more than the new siding & pink door. Why? Because Graham did this. He did ALL of this.

But let’s start at the beginning. The first time we walked into the house on October 24, 2015, it was very, very brown. And while it was done better & looked better than the house in Arkansas, I still loathe brown trim. And that paneling. Eek. The brown crown pulls your eye to it, and makes the space look smaller. The mantle was wimpy. I hated the brass fireplace doors. Basically, we hated everything (cosmetic) about this room. But, we saw potential. living roomWithin days of closing, we started ripping things down, starting with the paneling and the chair railing, so that we could paint. It was around this time that I suggested built-ins on each side of the fire place, and Graham started thinking about redoing the fireplace. One of his favorite projects in the Arkansas house was the beautiful mantle he built, and he was excited to build one for this house. 2015-12-20 11.24.39-1 So, everything ended up coming down. I don’t think we intended to destroy the existing mantle, but it just sort of fell apart when he started pulling it off. Oops. One of the other things that HAD to go was the ceiling fan. It didn’t have a light kit, so Graham ghetto rigged a desk lamp over the fan blades, so that we could work at night. 2016-01-05 20.38.27-1As with most home projects, everything takes longer than planned. We quickly upgraded the light fixture, and started painting EVERYTHING. The trim took forever (2 coats of primer, 3 coats of paint). Graham also went above and beyond and did some re-wiring so that he could build a channel to hide all of our electronic cords. He also tiled over the brick with beautiful marble tile. 2016-01-25 17.51.352016-01-25 17.49.34 - CopyWhen we moved into the house, it was painted, but the built-in wall continued to look pretty bad. It was all being covered, so there was no point in hiding all of our test swatches.

In March, the built-ins were FINALLY finished. Graham did every bit of this himself. Hundreds of dollars of wood, hours of sanding & painting… And it was worth it. These things are MASSIVE. And heavy. And so, so beautiful. He used his paint sprayer to get the perfect finish, and while they seemed like they took forever (and were so much more expensive than my idea of just running to Ikea), they were SO worth it.
2016-03-07 01.40.25Not long after the built-ins were installed, Graham dry-walled over the fireplace. He built the wall out a little, to accommodate his cord-hiding channel. The cords go into the built in (the shelf with the constantly falling #5), and down another little channel to the surge protector on the bottom shelf. 2016-03-11 04.59.542016-03-13 16.05.38The, finally, we he starts on the fireplace.2016-05-12 17.52.52-2 2016-05-14 10.07.24-1

And now… here we are today. Everything (except the two doors), is complete. 2016-06-17 00.10.31This mantle turned out more beautiful than I could have imagined. Those are the same fireplace doors from the first photo, just painted (because holy crap, fireplace doors are expensive!). They do have new hardware though. And the beautiful tile work, which is actually what he’s most proud of, since it was his first time working with tile.
2016-06-17 00.12.002016-06-17 00.09.46This trim here. OMG. I’m obsessed with it. He couldn’t find anything beefy enough, and we wanted something similar to what we had at the apartment, so he bought the wood and using router bits, he shaped it to how he wanted it. 2016-06-17 00.08.05 I can’t wait to have doors covering the bottom two shelves, all of those wires and rolls of vinyl are not very attractive, but I’m so happy and excited with how beautiful this space is. I’m so thankful he wouldn’t let me rush him, or take short cuts. 2016-06-17 00.11.292016-06-17 00.14.18

My Epic Pinterest Fail.

A few months ago I saw this decal on Pinterest, and I was obsessed with it.

c5541722850e1a2e33ca1848b57f1dc3But, that was a whole lot of money to spend on colorful triangles… So, I decided to try to paint my own triangles on my wall.

It was an EPIC FAIL.

Being honest, I knew when the first few shapes were painted.
2016-02-26 20.08.04But since it had taken G and I several hours to tape off this wall, I persevered. I kept painting, and while I liked it a little bit more, I knew it wasn’t me. Bake. Create. Love | Triangle Accent WallOnce I took the tape off, I liked it a little bit more. It still wasn’t my style, but I thought it looked kind of cool. I was ready to sand it down and paint over it then, but G & some friends thought we should get the room put together first before I decided. So, I did. I hung my Boston Terrier painting, bought a bar cart, styled my china cabinet, and hung my floating shelves…Bake. Create. Love | Triangle Accent WallThe shelves going up were the nail in the coffin. The triangles had grown on me a bit, and I didn’t hate them AS much. But once my shelves were up, I knew they had to go. The design was SO busy, and once those shelves were styled with books and knick knacks, it would be a 1,000 times worse. So, I decided to paint over them.
Bake. Create. Love | Triangle Accent WallFast forward to almost two month later.

This past weekend I cleaned the house, while  G did yard work. And I finally decided I couldn’t stand these triangles for one more minute. So, I sanded them down a little, bought some paint, and finally painted over them.

And now? I’m OBSESSED with this color. Seriously. I want to paint every wall in my house with it.
Bake. Create. Love. | Dining RoomI mean, it’s PERFECT. It looks great with the white trim & moulding, and it looks AMAZING with my dark shelves and vintage furniture. Bake. Create. Love. | Dining RoomI keep finding myself just standing at the door way, taking it all in. The only problem? I’m not kidding when I say I want to paint everything in the house this color. We need new bedding, so I’m thinking of doing an accent wall in our bedroom this color. And I’m definitely going to paint the rest of the dining room… Since G has to work the Air Show this weekend, maybe I’ll do it then. 2016-04-17 17.38.39-2So. Here is what I learned:

  1. Not all bold, patterned accent walls turn out as well as the epic blue wall2014-07-23-09-15-42
  2. Even if something was time consuming, don’t be afraid to get rid of it. Especially if it makes you hate going into a room of your house.
  3. Do a little more planning before doing a bold accent wall. I got lucky with that blue quatrefoil wall. It took 25 hours to do, and I would have been crushed if I had hated it. But I loved it. I may have liked this more if I had chosen my colors more carefully, instead of randomly selecting sample pots of paint from Lowes. I also may have liked it more if my triangles were a different size. I still don’t think I would have liked it enough to keep it, but I may not have hated it.

And of course, Buddy agrees. 🙂2016-04-17 17.40.41-1

Weekend wrap up…

Weekends go by WAY too quickly! Especially when they’re full of fun & projects!

My high density foam pads arrived last week, so on Friday I FINALLY started reupholstering our vintage dining room chairs. I LOVE the fabric I picked out from Mary Jo’s back home. It’s so cheerful! (It’s also outdoor fabric, so hopefully it’ll be durable… My upholstering isn’t perfect, but so far the chairs look pretty good (I have three finished). I’m planning on doing an serious house update next week, so fingers crossed that these chairs, and the rest of the dining room, come together by then. As you could see in my margarita post from last night, the dining room is currently a hot mess. I spent about 7 hours painting trim yesterday. NOT FUN. The wood trim & crown molding took 2 coats of primer, and three coats of paint…2016-02-19 15.59.27Saturday, we went for a walk with Hermione, which was cut short when G got a call from someone who wanted to buy the vanity in our half bath. I was pretty pleased, that he paid exactly what we were asking, and now it’s gone. I’m less pleased that the floor is unfinished underneath. It’s not the worst thing ever, because we were already planning on replacing that ugly linoleum with a pretty gray tile, but who knows when we’ll get around to that. So, this bathroom will be a hot mess for a while.
2016-02-20 11.34.10-1As soon as the vanity was carried away, and on it’s way across the bridge, we headed to a friend’s house to get my car detailed. It desperately needed it. We had originally planned to keep my car an animal free zone. But, G’s broke down while he was deployed, so I ended up having to put Hermione in mine. It cost us $100, but they did an AMAZING job. It is immaculate inside (the only stains that remain are the stains on the floor mats that were there when I bought the car), and thanks to the hand wax, it’s SO shiny.
2016-02-21 14.48.24Almost as soon as we got home from picking up my car, my friend Sarah stopped by to pick me up for the Carrie Underwood concert!!! I have been a fan of her since DAY ONE. Seriously. When they showed her during the audition process, I said right then that I wanted her to win. I was thrilled that she did, I have every single one of her albums, and I adore her.

We stopped at Bar Louie for dinner & drinks before the concert…
2016-02-20 17.12.30-1…where the COOLEST thing happened. We were headed up to our nosebleed seats, and an older lady stopped us and asked if we wanted to trade tickets. They had floor “seats”, and her elderly mother wouldn’t be able to stand the whole time. We happily traded tickets, and headed to the floor!  We were SO close! I could see the definition in her legs from where we were standing (which made me want to go home and get on my treadmill).2016-02-20 22.31.12-1 2016-02-23 10.00.39We sang along to all the songs, people watched, and had a great time!

While I was at the concert, G had a relaxing night in. He finished my built-ins(!!!), had dinner, a few beers, and watched a movie he’s been wanting to watch (that I had no interest in seeing). My built-ins are gorgeous. He’s now got the first coat of primer on them, so they’re white-ish, and I can picture how amazing they’re going to look in our living room. Hopefully they’ll be in the living room when I do that house update next week 🙂2016-02-21 10.06.19-1

Weekend Highlights.


Saturday was one of those days where I just wanted to be back in Arkansas. The weekend was all about running & Beverly. For the past few years, Beverly & her son ran the Little Rock Marathon-5K together. This year, loads of friends, family and complete strangers ran in her memory.  Even thought I was stuck in Virginia, I ordered a “Beverly” shirt and did a 5K on my own. I haven’t worked out in… well, a while (and even that is being generous), so it wasn’t pretty, but I did it.
10389234_10101812382962177_1194357480786446951_n2015-02-28 10.07.00-1

Graham has been on a really crappy schedule this week, because of the snow. He’s been working 6:00pm-6:00am, and it sucks. Considering he’s deploying VERY soon, the time we have together is precious. And to lose a week of that time just pisses me off. So, He’s been getting home about 7:00, sleeping till 1:00, and then I wake him up and we try to spend a little time together. Saturday I woke him up, and he had barely gotten to the couch when this happened. Aren’t they adorable?

2015-02-28 16.03.07-1

Luckily, he got a call at about 4:00 and was told he didn’t have to go to work that night. YAY! So, we hung out on the couch for a little bit longer, and then went on a date. We’ve been trying to get back to Conch & Bucket for a while, but they haven’t made it easy on us. Their hours are different based on which website you’re checking out. For example, today’s hours. According to Yelp, it’s 4:00-7:00 (which are their happy hour hours). According to Google, it’s 4:00-10:00. Their facebook page has no hours listed, and they don’t have a website. Honestly, the lack of information they provide is enough to make me not want to eat there. Besides the lack of hours (or inconsistent information about their hours), they also don’t have a menu posted, which is one of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to restaurants.

Anyways. We ended up at Conch & Bucket for dinner. We got a table instantly, but they were out of menus and silverware (seriously?). So, we waited for a while for someone to find us some menus. I wanted a cocktail, but they didn’t have a menu for those at all. Our server told me that the bartender could make anything, but frustrating for me since I’m not a big drinker. I told her I liked pineapple, so she suggested a pineapple upside down cake martini. It was really delicious. It tasted like pineapple upside down cake, but with the slight burn of vodka. Since it wasn’t on a menu, I have no idea what was in it, but it was tasty.
2015-02-28 18.59.26-1

For an appetizer, we shared the shrimp and “andouille” flat bread. And I say andouille like that because we found two very small pieces of sausage on the whole thing. And, it didn’t taste like andouille. Honestly it tasted like regular ham. It was good, but it wasn’t what we were expecting. 2015-02-28 19.18.04

We both ordered from the specials board for our entrees. Graham had the tuna with a blueberry-balsamic gastrique, blistered green beans and a root vegetable hash (which was really just a mix of roasted sweet potatoes & white potatoes), and this dish was very disappointing. The tuna had zero flavor. The sauce was good, but there wasn’t enough of it. He requested more salt from the server, and that helped some, but it was just really disappointing. The potatoes were good, though, and he said the green beans were the best he’d ever had.

2015-02-28 19.50.26-1

I had the New York Strip with sherried oyster mushrooms, garlic mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus. While G’s dinner was a total disappointment, mine was perfect. The steak was perfectly cooked, the mushrooms were delicious, as were the mashed potatoes. This was a huge plate of food, and I shared a ton of with Graham. I probably ended up giving him about 1/3 of my potatoes and steak. 2015-02-28 19.50.44-1

So, yeah. Good dinner, but not great. Annoying quirks and really slow service. If you try this place, don’t go if you’ve got someplace you need to be. Go on a night where you’ve got plenty of time.

After dinner we went back to the apartment. Even more important than a date with each other, we had a very important date with the president & first lady. I AM SO EXCITED THAT HOUSE OF CARDS IS BACK. GAH!!! So, we spent about 4 hours watching House of Cards before we finally crashed.

The next day was fairly average. We worked on the stupid dresser that is turning out to be way more trouble than a $50 Craigslist dresser is worth. But once we were finished with that, we headed downstairs to help some friends work on some projects for their restaurant. Their grand opening is March 22, and they’re having their launch party on Saturday night, and there is so much to do. Luckily, the dog park at our apartment complex has made us all into good friends, and we were all more than happy to help out.

One of the projects we were working on was making drinking glasses out of wine bottles. They had a contraption to break the bottles, and then three of us were sanded the edges. It took a while, but the glasses turned out pretty good. And thanks to everyone giving them all of their wine bottles for the last couple of months, all of the bottles were different, so of course the glasses are different as well. 2015-03-01 17.41.11 2015-03-01 17.42.37-1

A few other projects were going on, including cutting menus & corks, as well as creating a sign in board for the party. 2015-03-01 19.56.38-1I can’t wait to post next week about their launch party, and to give you guys some more details about their opening. If you’re in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, get excited. The food scene here is about to become way more interesting.