home love

I was sitting down the other morning to write a post that addresses where we stand so far on our Before Baby List, and was contemplating all the recent and undergoing home projects we’ve got on our plate, when it dawned on me it has been almost a year since we decided to tackle our biggest DIY project ever: replacing our flooring downstairs.

And then it dawned on me that I never posted any of the photos of the process! In a year.

Whose winning at blogging? This girl. 😉

So, a good eleven months later, here is the photo-heavy tutorial on how we replaced our carpeting, installed a chair rail, and replaced a whole buttload of baseboard on quite the lazy person’s budget and skill level. I wish I would have taken these with the DSLR, but once we moved around the entire house, I could not for the life of me find it – so iPhone photo quality it is!

Step One: Prep Work

Prep work is probably the step that took, believe it or not, the most time and effort. First things first, since we were leaving the tile in our entryway and nook/kitchen, we decided to move as much of the entire downstairs into those very small areas. Literally. And because we tended to work mostly in the evenings after work when we weren’t tired, the process took a touch longer than one might normally take.

Then came the start of demo. Oh, demo. I hated you. Like they say – it wasn’t difficult work, just time-consuming. For someone easily distracted by anything shiny, this was Tough Tough Work. 😉 We started in the study, which closes off, just in case we completely ruined the house. You know, thinkin’ ahead and all. Even though replacing the floors was my idea, the very “no turning back”-ness of ripping the first piece of carpet? Gave me a small heart attack.

To avoid spending cash on a large dumpster for a week or longer, we actually went the completely cheap person’s route. Don’t laugh – but we cut the carpet and padding into manageable sizes that we could actually toss in our regular trash can over the course of a few pick-ups. If there is a penny to be saved, I will save it. Holla!

The best part of ripping up the carpet and seeing the padding? We were suddenly able to see every previously unknown stain and spill from the previous homeowners. Exciting (or not).

Then we really lucked out – and our neighbors came by to lend tools and man power! They are our neighbors and our friends, and I couldn’t decide how to address that a year ago when I actually labeled all these photos, so I kept calling them “neighbor friends.” I realize now it sounds borderline retarded, but let it go.

We eventually rolled up the carpet/padding to tear down later just to get a move on, and our friends came over nightly (this neighborhood, it slays me) to help pry up baseboard. They lent us more tools than you could imagine – a miter saw, pry bars, a nail gun, a giant level. It became very apparent how few tools we actually owned and that our genius plan of a handsaw and hammer was not going to cut it. 😉

You really do need to seriously clean your floor. I spent a few hours hand-scraping up padding glue while the men used brute strength to tackle trim. Then we swept, vacuumed, swept, vacuumed. You need a smoooooth floor. That’s our shop-vac by the way. One of the few manly things we owned.

Because we couldn’t quite fit everything into the nook, we shuffled items around as we worked. Some folks have asked me where the dogs where during this – they were at home. They are really good at keeping out of the way, for the most part, and happily found their beloved loveseat no matter where it was continuously relocated. 🙂

One part of the prep work is making sure you have a level floor. I wanted to use a giant level for this, but a “pro” at a store told us to just take a string and check the floor in six foot spaces. If the string leveled out, you’d be fine. WRONG. We learned this the hard way mid-floor-laying in our dining room when two boards just wouldn’t fit right. First off, if you have to force a board, you’re not connecting it correctly. Outside of that, if they seem to “pop” apart, your floor isn’t level. After a mini mental crisis, we called my dad (who does this stuff for a living), who sent us to Home Depot at 2am for some quick-set concrete spread. Two hours later, I’d leveled the wonky patch. Easy peasy. Too bad I forgot to take a photo of it.

Step Two: The Process

Opt for the best moisture barrier/under-layment layer you can. Especially if you live in Texas, as it’s far more forgiving on our awful foundations. I believe our “splurge” was a $0.20 difference per square foot, nothing too crazy, and worth it.

Follow your box directions, but we actually chose pieces from six boxes as we went. Laminate flooring only has so many patterns to mimic real wood, so randomly selecting from several boxes at once helps you avoid getting a repeated look that screams I HAVE FAKE FLOORS once installed. Also, vary your cut lengths. We also opted for a wider board – and I love that it doesn’t look too dark or too “orange” like many laminates do. I went to tons of stores, nabbed all the samples, then came home and did my best to destroy them. Once I’d found my favorite colors, I hacked at them with scissors and a screwdriver (thinking of doggy nails) and then soaked them overnight in water. The color I liked best actually tested best – WOOT!

Be sure to run the longest length of your room to keep from truncating your house’s look. We have a very open floor plan, and running the longest points meant we began in the entry and ended in the living room – then worked outwards to finish the formal dining and living room as we went.

Why do I think my husband is so handsome in  safety goggles and knee pads? I’m an odd bird.

I’m posting these small details because when I went digging for as many visual tutorials on installing your own laminate flooring, I couldn’t find many on how to do things like undercut door jams, cut around fireplaces, and so forth.

We selected a floor and under-layment that would give us a height very close to our tile flooring. This way, we could just use a regular transition strip versus a reduction (change in flooring height). Don’t mind that dog hair.  That red chunk on one side is actually our surround sound wire.

Because once the flooring was all pulled up, our friends asked why we didn’t take the time to properly install our surround sound by punching holes into the walls to hang speakers and then run the wiring under the floor like a pro would. I’m glad we did this – but it did add about two days extra to our schedule as we found the right wiring, cut holes into the wall and fed things through, etc. So bear in mind your time frame when you decide to add on projects!

Just random photos of Emmie helping and Sean using a hand-saw to undercut the door jam.

 Step Three: Finishes

Once the floor was in, we were able to add all the trim. We were sheer genius and decided to tackle this process when it was in the mid-40’s outside – and hadn’t taken into consideration the weather when we needed to suddenly paint 140+ feet of chair rail and baseboard trim. Why does it matter? Because trim usually does best with oil-based paint, which takes a much longer time to dry than a latex paint. And an even longer time when it is less than 60 degrees. So my one day trim paint project? Took a three day dry period. Sigh. Live and learn, no? 😉

To get the most uniform and flush look, trim needs to connect with 45 degree cuts. For a math geek like Sean, this was probably the most exciting part of the entire project – finding and perfecting his angles. For me? I twirled around to Christmas music, ate chips, and provided general “moral support.”

We also had troubles finding decent visuals on how to “end” chair rail when you weren’t meeting a corner or wanting to use a large, decorative cap. You’ll actually cut back at a 45 degree cut and then cut a matching triangle of the trim shape to fit, like a puzzle. This way you keep the trim detail on both edges.

 So, what’s on our list for this Fall? Thank goodness nothing as extensive! 🙂 Just oodles of painting projects, building two tables, and revamping a few pieces of furniture. Wish us luck!

**05/11/2014 UPDATE: I’ve had endless emails asking me what our exact flooring was – which is GREAT, it means you folks don’t find it hideous, LOL! So if you’re curious – This is Style Selection’s Weathered Hickory Laminate Flooring from Lowes (found right here). It was $1.99/square foot. We installed it in November 2011 – so it’s been a few years and I still LOVE it. We’ve had a couple of pet puke and dog pee accidents with zero issues – though one that went undiscovered for about 36-ish hours caused a tiny ripple that no one but us notices. We’ve drug furniture across them, worn high heels, had crazy pet nails – it’s holding up fantastically!**


Though we do live in a somewhat large home, there are two spaces the builders decided to make painfully small: our master bathroom and our laundry room.

Since we purchased our home on 2008, we’ve painted and revamped most spaces, but the laundry room has been neglected. After all, why put much effort into the room that houses dirty clothes and the trash can? 😉

Yet, as part of my year to organize my life, I decided I wanted to get more use of our little laundry room.

I browsed Pinterest and found some fabulous inspiration (here, here, and here).

Gorgeous, no? Far better looking than our current laundry room:

So I valiantly declared we, too, would be owners of the World’s Prettiest Laundry Room – and made plans for us to paint the white walls, adorn a gorgeous light fixture, build a second shelf, and organize our dusting rags in only the highest quality of woven baskets. I even threw down $197.82 on eighteen gorgeous sea-grass baskets.

Then I got to the car and envisioned Dave Ramsey shaking his finger at me the entire drive home. I didn’t even get the baskets out of the car, you guys. I took them back the next day, and decided that this was a laundry room – a space no one ever enters except to wash dirty under-roos or a blanket that someone furry probably up-chucked on. Instead, we would do this overhaul for as few pennies as possible and call it a success.

First, we painted the entire room Valspar Oatmeal Taupe (it’s a gorgeous gray taupe – except my iPhone didn’t show the color whatsoever – I’m winning at blogging photos, no?). In true “us” fashion, we didn’t unhook any machines and just pulled them out a bit and crawled behind them. We also don’t tape or tarp when we paint. We used to, until my mother-in-law painted a room without taping, and I realized it’s far easier if you’re just careful.

Then, rather than exert energy and money on a second wooden shelf, Sean suggested we re-purpose some metal shelves that the previous owners had left behind. If you’re curious, they used to sell these at IKEA for $11.99 but have been discontinued. We spray-painted them with a white enamel so they would hold up to any spilled detergents, etc, and hung them side by side above the washing machine/dryer. Disregard the dark iPhone photo – as usual, Sean and I do all our best home remodels between the hours of 10pm and 2am (sigh):

We put them in odd spots – but they are spots that work best for someone who is 4’10” and wants to be able to reach things she puts away! 😉 Though hardly the best looking shelves, I do appreciate that their bar-design gets less dusty and allows us to use “S” hooks to hang smaller items from them. It gives me a great spot to hang random cleaning tools, lint rollers, dust pans, and… apparently a mirror? I’m not sure where that came from…

We also nabbed a Magic Holder to contain my never-ending supply of tidying tools, and a fold-down hanger for air-drying the dedicates. 😉 Yes, I plan to patch the holes left by the previous shelf. Stop judging me.

Then we purchased three more Closet-maid stack-able cube systems from Target – they were on sale for $12.99 but typically run $14.49. I couldn’t love those things more. They wipe off easily, assemble quickly, and hold tons of stuff.

From there, I let go of the dream of my beautiful and hideously overpriced baskets and purchased 18 plastic baskets from the Dollar Store. Much, much cheaper – holds all the same stuff. I printed labels on regular paper, backed them on some leftover chocolate card stock I had from our wedding (paper goods hoarder, anyone?), and tied them to each basket so that we would know what goes where.

So there you have it. Not shockingly gorgeous but shockingly efficient – it is insane how much more room we got from these little changes! And it only cost us $69.78! However, I hate when people say that, but neglect the fact they already owned most of the stuff (like the shelves, three of the six cubes, yada mcyada) – so it would probably run about $150-$165 if you had to buy it all from scratch. STILL. None too shabby, ya’ll! 😉 Happy organizing!



I have said before that I have Pottery Barn dreams on a Walmart budget.

I have also said I can be a touch lazy.

I kept both factoids in mind when desiring three chalkboard frames for our breakfast nook wall last October (yes, I am just now getting around to unloading photos of those projects, did you not read the second factoid?)

I had fallen in love with these over-sized, dark-framed chalkboards from PB and needed three – all for the low, low price of $99.00 a piece. PARDON!?

pottery barn chalkboard frame

I also needed slightly smaller sizes, and everywhere I looked, they were a good $40+ for each frame. A wee bit steep for a small project to eat up some wall space, thankyouverymuch. I had seen plenty of DIY frame projects here and there in the blogosphere, and decided I would tackle this one myself – if I could do it with as little cash and clean-up as possible! Here were my results:

Total cost for this project, with tax? $15.13. Suh-weet.


First, to bypass dealing with a paintbrush (and cleaning up said paintbrush), I spent $4.98 at Lowe’s for a can of Rust-Oleum Chalkboard spray paint. Spray paint. The very idea made me excited. Then I swung by Walmart for some 11×14 frames – you can use any size that suits your fancy – and found three $5.00 frames on sale for $3.00 because the glass was a little scratched. This was fine because we’re actually going to scratch the glass up a bit for this project anyway. Having your cat crawl underneath them several times is a vital step – don’t skip it to save time.

Then prepare your painting area outside. If you don’t have a good space and you’re fearful painting on the ground will result in your dogs trampling the glass while they dry, cover your breakfast table in an old plastic tablecloth, taped like crazy to the legs because Texas is shockingly windy and you don’t want the tablecloth to flap up onto your wet paint, and then drag it outside to your patio. Just throwin’ ideas out there.

To help the paint have staying power, you’ll take some light-grain sandpaper and run it over the glass face you’ll be painting. You don’t need giant guages, as you don’t want them to show up when you’re done, but do a solid, general scratching of the surface. Be smart – wear a dust mask to avoid breathing in glass dust – and then brush off the mess once finished so you have a clean surface. Spray paint the glass in short, even strokes. I let mine dry about 45 minutes in between, and did three coats, just to ensure they didn’t wear off too soon (don’t worry if everything doesn’t look super even while wet, you won’t notice once it’s all done). The giant blue lines you see in these is the reflection of the sky above our roof line, in case you’re confused. 😉

Once all your desired coats are dry, have a blast writing cheesy quotes all over them in chalk! 🙂 We decided to use a chalk pen for the final results to prevent the quotes from being accidentally smudged somehow. If you do use a chalkboard pen, here’s a tip: You need to use a Mr. Clean Magic Eraser to remove it from the chalkboard. That tidbit will save you from frantically Googling after you try to remove your quote for the first time and think you permanantly painted your new chalkboard with so-called “washes off with water” pens.


Though I like to humor myself with the delusion idea that I am not a Type A personality, the truth is I’m at least a Type L personality – for List Maker. I’m sure that’s a thing, right?

This plays really well into the fact that I also rest easier when the house is clean and everything is in it’s place – Someone once asked me how we have white couches and rugs with seven pets who climb all over them and the real answer is: Because we wisely bought washable couches that can be bleached. But let’s pretend it’s because I’m immaculate.

And now in a totally normal transition, each spring we make a list of all the nitty-gritty tasks to dive into as they relate to our home and cleaning (aka this isn’t the list that contains things like checking smoke/carbon monoxide detectors, checking the water heater and adjusting it’s holding temperature, inspecting the a/c unit for debris and clogs, replacing interior a/c filters, etc). I thought this may be a great list for folks who don’t know where to start with these things, and it’s super easy to add or subtract from it as it suites your home! Just save it, delete/edit whatever you need since it’s a word doc, and print!

Grab the Crazy Cleaning Lady List by clicking here!

Next week I’ll try to post my weekly cleaning spreadsheet, which sits on my fridge and helps me break down regular cleaning into daily 15-30 minute tasks. *Dork alert* I know – but it also helps me get into the swing of maintaining a clean/organized home in less time, which I assume I’ll appreciate even more when we become parents and I can’t dedicate an entire Saturday to organizing the pantry, LOL! 😉



white kitchen cabinets