Rewind: Fireplace

>> Thursday, January 20, 2011

I thought I'd just take a step back and share a little of the changes we have already made to the house. We haven't done too much but I think the projects we've tackled have really made a huge difference.

We bought our house in September 2008. It was our first time as home owners so needless to say we were a little excited! The night we got possession, we started ripping out baseboards! The other project we tackled immediately was our fireplace. It was not a pretty site! Our old fireplace was ‘nice’ pink brick with concrete slabs for a mantel and hearth. It was also huge and off center in the room. We really had no idea what we were doing but all we did know is that we wanted it gone! 100_2667

So within days of moving in, we (I use that term pretty loosely!) started sledgehammering. We actually built a sort of a tent to try and contain the dust because it was awful. After a few days of demolition, we were left with a blank slate. We knew we wanted a gas fireplace but knew nothing else. Everything else was basically ‘learn as you go.’


We decided to go with a gas insert since it was the easiest and most cost-effective. We figured we could deal with the off-centeredness of the fireplace (more on that another time). So we found an inexpensive, but nice looking insert and had it ordered.

The next step was finishing around it. We used cement board to cover up the interior brick and make it level with the existing drywall. Then I got to teach myself about mudding and taping. I’d seen it done before but never done it myself. It took a little practice but I did it and I was happy enough with the results. 100_2699100_2702100_2711

We decided to use the fireplace wall as an accent wall and painted it green so the fireplace would really pop. That’s me trying to figure out how to tile!

We were on a very tight budget for finishing this thing, so we went with a stock ceramic tile from Home Depot. It was also my first time tiling and I it was actually pretty fun. I’m quite happy with how that came out. We bought our mantle from Home Depot as well. To make it a little higher, we built bases for each of the legs and we also added a decorative scroll to the front. We painted and mounted the whole thing and we were done! 100_2713100_2718

We are really thrilled with how our new fireplace turned out. It really becomes the statement piece in the room, and not in a bad way! We also gained a lot more space by knocking our the hearth and making it level with the rest of the flooring. It was definitely a very involved first project but we are so happy we did it. Even 2 years later, it looks great!


DIY with toddlers

>> Monday, January 17, 2011

I love home improvement projects. I also have a 3 year old and a 1 year old. When we first moved into this house and completed most of our projects, my oldest was only 8 months old, meaning he slept quite a bit. That left me with lots of time to myself to break out the tools. Now my 1 year old only has one nap a day and my 3 year old only naps every few days. This has drastically cut back on my project time! Add to that the fact that I have a very busy husband who is in school full time and has a full time job. I've just accepted the fact that anything I want to get done is going to take a while!

I haven't always been ok with this fact. I few times I've tried to just go all out for a day or two. Let the boys watch movies, don't worry about meals or cleaning. And from experience, all I can say is that doesn't work! I'm left with a finished project but with two boys starving for attention and totally off schedule. Plus I have a disaster of a house. So for every day that I spent completely devoted to a project, it took me another day to get back into routine and organized. To me, it was not worth it!

Now I plan to do most of my work during nap time or after bedtime. I will occasionally put a movie on for my older son while my little one sleeps but I've learned that at this point in my life, slow and steady wins the race!

Here's to hoping I get everything done in the next month!


Sell This House: Part 1

>> Friday, January 14, 2011

We are planning on putting our house on the market in about 6 weeks! Which is very exciting but also means there are a lot of little things to finish up to make our house a little more presentable. We don’t plan on spending a lot of money right now. After all, we have done quite a few upgrades in the 2 1/2 years we have lived here. Our goal now is mostly just to make our home as clean and fresh as possible.

The first thing on our list was actually our floors. We took advantage of the time my husband had off school just after Christmas and shampooed the carpets. They came out so clean, which was really encouraging because before they were pretty bad!

The other problem with our floors was the squeaking! It was definitely not in our budget to rip up the carpets and screw down the subfloor. So we just sucked it up for a few years as it got worse and worse. Then last Christmas, I randomly walked into the living room at my parents and my Dad was watching “This Old House.” They featured this product that was supposed to stop squeaking in your floors. I was super excited and once we got home I searched and searched for it. I found it online and sent them an email but they replied that they didn’t sell the product in Canada. So I just sucked it up an paid the extra shipping.

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Yes, those are screws sticking out of my carpet. You just screw them right down through your carpet into the floor joist to a certain height. They are pre-scored so that you can snap the top off just below the top edge of the subfloor. The most difficult part is locating the joists but they send you a couple bits to help.

The best part though? It works! I’ve eliminated all of the squeaks in our living room and the upstairs is next on the agenda. The unfortunate thing is that in the squeakiest place in the house – my son’s bedroom – we discovered the squeak was coming from where the wall is attached to the floor so we may or may not cut out the drywall to fix it.

At least the rest of our house will be squeak free!


My favorite new gadget

>> Wednesday, January 12, 2011

14.4V Cordless Hand Vac

Just before Christmas we bought ourselves a little "gift." A Dustbuster! I've thought that I wanted one for years but just never took the plunge. Can I just tell you that it is the best when you have toddlers. Like instead of sweeping the floor after every meal, I can just vacuum up all of the stray Cheerios. Plus it comes in handy when you are doing renovations with kids around. It's great at vacuuming up sanding dust!

Seriously Dustbuster, where have you been all my life??


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