Friday, February 17, 2017

Master Closet Layout - First Look at Plans

We're moving right along with our winter goals list and have been at work trying to figure out how to maximize the space available to us in our master closet (which used to be the spare "oom" - read more about the renovation here).

It's a good-sized room and we have been using it for six months with some make-shift temporary closet rods and our dressers. I like using a room for awhile to get to know what it needs in order to serve you well.

During our six months of using the closet we have been able to narrow down a design, as well as what we need the room to have; we want to be sure it'll be a functional space for us in many years to come. Here's the priorities we need it to include space for:

- our clothes (duh)
- shoes
- my purses
- my scarves
- hats
- hooks to hang robes
- shelving for sweaters (shelves help lengthen the life of sweaters vs. hanging)
- suitcases/duffels
- extra blankets and sleeping bags
- jewelry
- ironing board that can be tucked away
- a full length mirror
- laundry hampers for whites and colors

That's a lot of unique items! We also have to figure out how best to use the space when we have a floor radiator and two windows to build around. However, a bonus is a small existing closet that's in the room that we can modify.

Karl is a whiz at 3D renderings of rooms, and has been busy at work trying to figure out how to incorporate all these things. Here's a look at the first draft:

When you walk in from the master bedroom, my side of the closet is on the left, Karl's the right.

We're thinking of using the small existing closet for building shelving that would store our shoes and purses, and then laundry hamper baskets below.

The bench along the far left wall below the window would be a hinged top with storage underneath for extra blankets.

The drawers would be for socks, jeans, tshirts, etc., while the hanging rods would be for dress shirts, dresses, pants, and skirts. The upper cabinets above the drawers would hold shelving for sweaters, ties, and jewelry hooks. On the exposed side of the wardrobes would be large hooks for hanging our robes and/or an outfit for the next day. Suitcases would go in the cabinets above the rods.

I'm thinking we could tuck the ironing board into a place between the built-ins and have it slide out when in use, then slide back out of the way when not. We're going to be researching what's possible.

We are calling this a first draft because we still have to figure out how to lengthen the space to hang my long dresses and coats, a place for our hats and the ironing board. We also have a "dead space" between the windows that I want to put to good use. Maybe have hooks to hang hats?

It's a good start! Besides working out the storage needs and ironing board, we'll probably start designing the face of the drawers and cabinets a bit more in-depth too for the next draft so we have something to show the carpenter of our vision.

We'd LOVE your input for how to best use the space - goodness knows we're behind on closet organization technology. Feel free to comment below!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

How To Install A Switch on a Sconce Light

This past summer when Karl and I were renovating our master bedroom, one of the ideas we came up with was to install hardwired sconces on either side of the bed. Sconces in the bedroom save the limited tabletop space side tables provide and are aesthetically pleasing, so it was an easy decision for us.

I began researching sconces that were in the style and budget I wanted, as well as hardwired. For some reason once you filter out all the non-hardwired in an online search, your options become limited. Add in that we wanted switches on the scounces so we could turn them off and on from the bed and we were left with either spending $100 and up per sconce, or some lights that looked as cheaply made as their $20 price tag.


That's when I happened upon these sconces when I was taking advantage of the air conditioning at Home Depot on a very hot summer afternoon 8 months preggo (no a/c except a window unit in our bedroom meant this mama-to-be survived in stores the last month of that hot summer). I liked the look of them a LOT, and for $30 a sconce we were well within budget.

They were perfect except one minor detail: no switches.

In my excitement of finding sconces I didn't think of this until I got home with them. I'd spent more hours than should be humanely necessary trying to find THE sconces, so I was less than willing to take them back.

Thus began my self-inflicted drudgery of looking up anything I could to Macgyver those lights into switch sconces.

The scounces were fitted for candlabra size bulbs. I googled for lightbulb socket adapters that came with switches, but no such thing is made for candlabras...period. No idea why not. I looked for candlabra to regular lightbulb socket adapters, and an hour or two later found none that would fit inside the sconce shade…

I think I was a little obsessed with the idea that there HAD to be a way. We'll blame it on pregnancy hormones and the heat.

It paid off though when I had a lightbulb moment (haha get it?) several evenings later: install a switch directly on the sconce wall plate!

Turning again to searching the web, I had to find something that was thin enough to fit between the plate and the wall, and finally I found success!

Home Depot to the rescue!

They cost approximately $4 each.

All that to say that this is the way that one can Macguyver any wall sconce to have a switch.


First, make sure the toggle switch fits between the plate and wall.

Using a drill press, make the hole for the switch in each plate. You can stick painters tape or duck tape to the area before drilling to ensure it won't split the plate or cause rough edges to the hole.


To figure out which of the wires on the switch are “off” and “on”, use a multimeter that’s set to “ohms” to measure continuity.

0 ohms = “off”, anything else is = “on”

Shut off the breaker power to the room you want to install the sconces.

And since I’m not an electrician and cannot explain the process as well as Karl, here is a video that shows how to attach the rest of the wires so that you can mount the lights.

There you have it! Pretty simple and inexpensive way to modify any sconce light!

Pin for later!

Monday, January 23, 2017

Our New "Restoration Hardware" Knockoff Light Fixtures

Hi all! How's Winter treating you? Getting projects done despite the cold?

We got a head start on our Winter project goals by replacing our two ugliest light fixtures, as well as installing our bedside sconces - woohoo!

If you remember, we had a certain look in mind for both of the ugly lights we wanted to be rid of, but keeping the cost low made the search a bit of a challenge.

But I like a challenge.

Let's start with the bay window light:

It's infamously referred to as the “circus light” for its jarring multicolor arrangement. The circus also reminds me of clowns, which I also dislike. Yup, this light and I were downright enemies.

Here's what I was picturing replacing it with:

This industrial light shade with Edison bulb is from Restoration Hardware for $139. Not a price we had in mind to pay for a simple fixture that wasn't the main lighting of the room.

Enter the Andante fixture on Wayfair, almost exactly the same, and guess the price…$40!!

I snatched that baby up, and now here it is! So much better than the circus!

The quality of the light fixture is pretty good too, so I'm pleased. Also, did you know they make LED Edison bulbs?! Neither did I until I came across them at Lowes! It's supposed to last 9 years. Crazy.

Now we come to the vestibule with its bad track light. When I think “vestibule”, I'm thinking of it being an extension of the formal entryway, and hence needs a pretty light and something period-appropriate to the house.

A track light is neither of these by a long shot.

Here's what I was going for with the overall look, once again from Restoration Hardware. Price…$675! Woah.

Once again I had luck with Wayfair. By the way, this was my first time ever buying from Wayfair. Is that weird? I feel a bit behind the times saying that. Well it's proving its worth to me lately, because look what I found for $200:

It's the Winchester 3-light semi-flush mount, and has real glass crystals and not fake plastic, which makes a big difference for longevity. I was pretty happy to find glass at this price point. However, if I must complain, it would be that some of the upper “brass” circle has a painted design and not actually embossed. Nor was any of it actual brass. Buuut you can't really tell unless you're up close... and it hangs from the ceiling, passes a-ok.

And it's purty.

...And my desire to spruce up the entryway and vestibule is even bigger now because such a pretty light deserves a pretty room to match. (new paint on walls, remove paint from door and then stain...) Come on, Spring!

Now we come at last to the installed bedside sconces! Woohoo!

If you look closely at this last picture, you can see a toggle switch on the bottom center. These sconces did not originally come with the toggles. Karl and I wanted to be able to turn them off and on from our bed, so we came up with these as a solution to being able to use the sconces we chose despite them not having a switch. Thus, we were able to get the sconces and the price we wanted!

Next post I'll be showing where we found the switches and how we installed them onto the sconces. It's pretty simple and a convenient add-on!

Saturday, December 31, 2016

What We Accomplished in our First Year (& What We Learned)

As we draw closer to the end of another year, it's a time that many of us find ourselves thinking back over everything that happened. For us, it was a year of many “firsts”: our first year in our current beloved foursquare home, first time taking on a restoration of a home, as well as the pregnancy and subsequent birth of our first kiddo, a beautiful baby girl.

A lot has changed in a year, and I thought it'd be fun to look back at just how much!

Our hardwoods:

Refinishing the original wood floors of our entire 1st floor, save the kitchen and mudroom, was our first, biggest, and very dusty project. It was our largest learning curve too as we did all of the sanding ourselves. We originally planned to do the stain and finish as well, but I think we made a good call by turning that part over to some awesome professionals who got it done fast.

Later this past summer when I was 8 months preggers we also restored our upstairs hardwoods (only one more bedroom needs done at present), including our master bedroom that looked at the initial uncovering of the carpet to be beyond recovery.

However, with Karl's due diligence, he got those floors to look amazing!

Living room:

Here's some pix I took during a tour of what the room looked like with the previous owner. As you can immediately see, it was being used as the dining room. However, because of its size, we felt it was better suited as a living room and swapped the living and dining rooms when we moved in.

Our living room was a troubled mess when we started. The previous stain was worn and orange around the edges, and the middle had never been given a finish.

After sanding and staining the living room floor, we set to work painting the walls.

Originally a yellow color, we were wanting a light grey color. However, we got more than we bargained for trying to get a true grey, even after painting samples on the walls; our walls came out purple, then blue.

In retrospect I am rather glad the grey didn't work, as I love the white we ended up with that truly compliments the trim work!

What we learned: use Benjamin Moore paint, always.

Master bedroom and closet:

What started out as what we thought would take 6 weeks turned into 3 months, but the former "office" and "spare oom" are now respectfully our master bedroom and closet (and finished just 3 weeks before baby girl arrived!).


By punching out a doorway, running some new electrical, painting the walls, taking up the knarly carpet, sanding and refinishing the floors, we had the respective red and orange office, and the yellow spare room turn into fabulous spaces for our master suite. There's a few finishing touches to put in such as the master closet system that we'll be undertaking later next year (fingers crossed), but we're pretty darn pleased with how awesome the rooms turned out!

We've moved our furniture in and don't have wires hanging out of the walls anymore, but I have yet to take pix - look for them in 2017! ;)

To read all about the full renovation story with all the different phases, start here!

What we learned:

1. projects are likely to take double, sometimes even triple the time you initially planned.

2. no hardwood floor is beyond saving


We got a head-start on our winter goals by replacing our two most-ugly lights left to us from the past owner - the bay window and vestibule.

I'll be doing a more in-depth post about with before/after and where we found our lights in the new year, so keep an eye out!

What we have planned for 2017:

You can see my post about our goals for over the winter of what we'd like to achieve until warm weather comes back. We have quite a to-do list for our home, and once Spring hits we have some big ones to tackle:

Dining room - put hole in ceiling and walls for ceiling light fixture and switches, run wires, patch the plaster walls, paint walls and ceiling, hang chandelier.

Front porch - build porch skirt, replace a few floorboards, sand and repaint floorboards, strip/sand and repaint columns and railings, strip/sand front door and stain.

Baby girl's room - paint walls

Master Closet - plan closet system, build and install closet system


If we manage to miraculously get those projects entirely done, we'd also set to work on these:

Office - strip wallpaper (ugh), build shelves, organize furniture, build/buy desk

Entryway stairs and vestibule - we need to strip the stain off ALL the trim work and stairs, then re-stain. Paint the walls.

We love having you all along on this journey with us, and are excited to see what 2017 has in store! Many blessings to you all in your projects as well! Have a Happy New Year, and see y'all in 2017!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

6 House Project Goals this Winter

We've officially decided to wait until Spring to finish sprucing-up our porch so that we can do everything necessary in one big push. Didn't see that one coming, didja? (note: sarcasm). With that, we're thinking ahead to the indoor projects we'd like to turn our attention to during this coming Winter.

We're trying to keep this list small as we have a baby girl in the mix now and we don't want to do any projects that would result in major dust or fumes. Some of it also depends on whether or not we find certain items to our liking and budget, such as the pedestal sink. Here goes!

1. Replace Bay Window & Vestibule Light Fixtures

Both of these are the ugliest lights we have in the house, and we've been wanting them out since Day 1 but haven't gotten around to looking more seriously into finding replacements.

Vestibule track lighting. Ick.

Bay window. More ick.

We have ideas of what we'd like; here's something from Lamps Plus that is out of our price range, but the look we're going for in the vestibule:

And something simple and minimal for the bay window like this from Restoration Hardware:

RH pendant light 

An easy fix, but it'll take time to find both the aesthetic and something in our budget for each fixture.

2. Remove corner sink in half bath and install pedestal sink

The current corner sink has a copper basin and a spout on the faucet that are both hard to clean. In fact the counter is impossible to clean too - it's some weird raised texture that makes you feel like you're cleaning bumpy rocks.

We'd like to get a more period appropriate (rather than this weird attempt at Farmhouse style) sink in the room.

3. Install stained crown moulding in living room

Right now we still have several layers of paint showing at the top of the room where we didn't finish it out because we'd be installing the crown moulding pronto...and now it's 6 months later...Time to get this done!

4. Mount wall sconces in master bedroom

In the four months since we finished most of the renovation of our master bedroom and moved into it, we have yet to install our wall sconces on either side of the bed. We found we'd have to do one extra step before being able to install it, and since baby girl's birth we just haven't gotten around to it. Slow progress for sure, thus why it's up on the list!

P.S. - Yes, this means we've had wires sticking out (with proper wire nuts, no worries!) on either side of our bed for four months now, lol.

5. Install master closet's interior door frame

pic from this past summer; the unfinished door frame

At the moment we have the wood all stained and waiting; it's a simple matter of cutting and installing it.

6. Plan master closet's layout

Presently in our closet we have closet rods and our dressers. We'll be using Karl's prowess at 3D to map out a functional closet system for our needs. Having had four months of using the space as-is, we're accumulating ideas on ways to improve the space.

There you have it folks! Our timeline is to aim to have these all done by the end of March. As alays, we'll be keeping y'all involved as we try to tackle each one and show the before/afters!

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