Category Archives: The House

In Search of: How to Update an Old Medicine Cabinet

I have a pet peeve when it comes to medicine cabinets. They’re often useful for storing things in hiding, but they also often have no style whatsoever. Especially the standard builders-grade medicine cabinets that so many homes come with (mostly from the 80’s and 90’s). My house was no different. The medicine cabinets were functional — they had mirrors and some handy storage behind those mirrors. But they were also pretty ugly, and there was no way of getting rid of them without a gaping hole left in the wall. I wasn’t in the mood to fill gaping holes. So I got on to finding a way to hide their hideousness. And find it, I did.

Here’s what I realized: a custom frame would fix those babies right up! In the master bathroom, I wanted to retain the usefulness of the mirror. So I simply framed the mirror, and left the mirror as-is. In the hall bathroom, I got a little more creative. Before framing the mirror, I sanded it down and painted it over with chalkboard paint (3 coats, to be exact). I love the outcome in both rooms. The cabinets look so much more polished. The frames really give them a finished look. And the chalkboard in my hall bath is a super-fun place for messages.

Here’s what you’ll need to do this yourself:

  1. Tape measure
  2. Miter box and hand saw
  3. Paint
  4. Wood (you can find great pieces at Lowe’s or your local home improvement store. I used leftover base board pieces to frame my mirrors. But you could also use trim wood, crown molding — or simply any other piece that fits your budget and style).
  5. Silicone (if your frames aren’t going to be white, be sure to buy the kind that can be painted)
  6. Premium construction adhesive

So you’ve got all your stuff together. Go measure your mirrors, and determine how long each piece should be. After you’ve measured twice (trust me, you would rather spend the extra time measuring again than having to re-cut the wood), cut your wood.

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Once the wood is cut, slap a couple coats of paint on them. I used spray paint, but you can use any type you like. I would, however, recommend you use a semi-gloss finish. You want to be able to wipe down the frames when needed, and seeing as how they’re in the bathroom, you know it’s going to be needed on occasion. You only need to paint one side thoroughly, but be sure to paint about a 1/2 inch or so on the back side where the frame will meet the mirror. The mirror will reflect a small part of that back portion, and you don’t want it to reflect unfinished wood.

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Once the paint has dried, you can get to securing the frames to the mirror. Run a bead of the construction adhesive along the back of your frame in a wave-like pattern. I started with the bottom piece first.

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Now press it against the mirror where you would like it placed, and hold for about 30 seconds. The glue will start to set, but not totally. This stuff takes a good hour or so to actually dry (read the directions on your particular adhesive). So grab some painter’s tape and secure the frame to the mirror/medicine cabinet. Once you’ve done the first piece of frame, give it about 30 minutes to dry, then move to the next piece. This slow process is a bit more time consuming, but it does ensure your frames will stay in place as they dry. The last thing you want is a piece of the frame sliding down the mirror without your noticing. ‘Cause that construction adhesive is SUPER stuck once it’s dry. I left the painter’s tape on the mirrors until the next morning just to be safe.

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In the morning, I peeled off the painter’s tape. You may find there are some small gaps between your frame pieces. Fill any gaps with silicone. And voila — custom-framed medicine cabinets!

Here’s what the cabinets looked like BEFORE:

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And here’s what they look like AFTER:

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Sometimes I leave the chalkboard cabinet almost blank (to let guests write messages on it), and sometimes I write favorite quotes on it. Super cute if you ask me!

I hope you found this helpful and got some inspiration for your own home! Enjoy.

 

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In Search of: The BIG House Reveal!!

It’s officially the last week of summer vacation. And you know what that means — it’s time to show you the house! I don’t think I’ve ever worked so hard in my life. This house pretty much consumed the entire summer and made me want to throw everything out the window and run off to some exotic locale forever. But even though the work made me want to cry about 80 times, I’m super happy with the results. This house looks SO different from when I first moved in. It officially looks like mine, and I love it. And even though it took me away from a summer full of Australian beaches, Hawaiian hiking trails and diving the Great Barrier Reef (which, by the way, I’m already making plans to make up for), I think it’ll be worth it in the end.

The house is about 90% done. There are finishing touches required to complete the decorating (things like hanging paintings and artwork, end tables, etc.) and a big project involving the kitchen cabinets. I decided to hold off on the cabinets for the moment because I keep changing my mind about the technique I’m going to use to refinish them, but I went ahead and put the new hardware on them for the time being. Other than that, the inside of the house is DONE. Woohooooo! I think this is cause for celebration!

And now I’ll stop talking. Because I know what you want — PICTURES!! (Hold on to your hats, this is a long one!)

At the Curb:

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Kitchen:

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Dining Area:

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Living Room:

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Den/Art Room:

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Hall Bathroom:

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Guest Bedroom: (in which you may notice the obvious lack of a bed. Details…)

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Master Bathroom:

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Master Closet: (Look — the only room in the house I didn’t change! Woot!)

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Master Bedroom:

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And there it is! I have so many projects I still want to tell you about (complete with lots of pictures). But I simply couldn’t hold off on showing you the finished product (I’m too dammed excited!).

Being someone that travels a lot, I find it so important to have something beautiful to return to after an amazing (and perhaps tiring) trip — a place that makes me want to run from the airport right back to my super comfy, super awesome HOME. And now I have just that. And that fact in itself makes me very happy.

Feel free to pin and share pictures! I hope I’ve given you some inspiration for a few homey projects of your own!

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In Search of: The House — BEFORE…

I just realized I never posted a full set of “before” photos of the house. I posted them on Facebook and sort of forgot I never actually put them on the blog. And I think it’s time you saw what the whole thing looked like before I got to work, especially seeing as how I’m going to reveal the “after” pictures on Wednesday! Yes, yes, yes — I am soooooo happy to be done with the majority of the work!

It’s funny, when I first got the house, I didn’t take a ton of pictures. I took some — because I knew I would want to show before and after photos. But at the same time, there were SO many things I didn’t like and wanted to change, I really didn’t want pictures reminding me of all the work I had to do. Well, that and I was super exhausted from the serious amount of cleaning that had to be done before I could even start on the revamp. Ah well, lesson learned: take lots and lots of before pictures!!

Anyhow, without further ado, here’s what it looked like. (A few of these before photos are from the MLS listing of a few years ago when the house was on the market to be rented, as evidenced by the “GLVAR 2011” stamp.)

Kitchen: (Ah, the caked on grease that comprised the kitchen. Priceless…)

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Dining Area: (Things were so much cleaner before it was rented. Too bad I got it after the 2 years of renting…)

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Living Room:

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Den:

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Hall Bathroom:

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Guest Bedroom:

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Master Bathroom: (Look at that close-up of the shower doors. Could those things have been any dirtier? Eww! Oh, and did you see the butt sprayer? Also, priceless.)

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In this photo, several things had already been done to the master bathroom, but it shows you the lovely black tile on the floor. Oh baby…

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Master Closet:

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Master Bedroom:

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And on Wednesday, you get to see what the house looks like now!! Yippeeee!!

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In Search of: A Fireplace Makeover

This weekend, I did a quick fireplace makeover. I have big plans for the fireplace in the future, including a custom mantle. But my budget is running short at the moment, so I decided a band-aid makeover was in order. What’s a band-aid makeover? It allows you to change the look of something you don’t like without spending a fortune. And you know what? My fireplace makeover was a success! I love it, actually. One day I’ll get around to the custom mantle build-out, but until that day, I’m perfectly happy with how this turned out!

Here’s what the fireplace looked like when I first bought the house. It had two things I despise: black tile and brass accents.

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Then I painted the living room, and cleaned out the fireplace (lots of icky stuff inside there!), which brought it to looking like this:

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Once the living room painting was done, it was time to dress up the fireplace. I painted the tiles white. I chose white because my trim and ceilings are white, and I thought this would be a more cohesive look. The guys at Lowe’s suggested I use a bonding primer that is made to go over slick surfaces like ceramic tiles. I used it, and it worked great. Though I have to warn you — if you’re covering dark tile, be prepared to put on several coats of primer and paint. I did two coats of primer and three coats of latex paint. (The three coats may have been overkill, but my eyes were playing tricks on me, and I couldn’t tell if the black was still showing through!)

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I then cleaned up the fireplace doors, taped them off and spray painted the brass bits silver. The handles needed desperately to be replaced rather than spray painted (in part due to stickers wrapped around those handles from the prior occupant — super awesome!). I replaced the handles with some silver button knobs.

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To complete the look, I reattached the doors, filled the fireplace with candles and hung the TV.

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All done! I’m super excited that in the next few weeks I’ll be done with most of the house projects, which means one thing: the big house reveal is coming soon! I can’t wait to show it to you fully decorated. In the mean time, I’ll keep posting to show my progress. Have a great day!

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In Search of: Brand New Base Boards for the House

When I moved into my house my base boards looked like hell. Well, not the entire house. The main living areas were great. But the bedrooms? The bedrooms were quite scary. I would mention this to people, and they thought this was an odd thing to be concerned with. Until they saw them. And then they totally agreed. The person that owned my house prior put floating wood floors in the bedrooms. Nice touch. Except the part where he didn’t properly remove the original base boards prior to putting the floor in, which caused a lovely mess. Not to mention a few areas with water damage. I thought I could live with the funky base boards for a while. But dam. They started to bug me like no other, and I knew I had to get rid of them on the quick!

Enter Dad. Another project for us! Woohoo! Except neither of us really knew much about base boards. Nonetheless, we figured we could do it. And no matter what, we knew whatever we did couldn’t possibly look worse than what was done prior.

Enter uncle. My uncle is a carpenter, and I knew he would likely have some of the tools we needed to do the base boards, so we went over to my aunt and uncle’s house to pick things up. While there, my uncle mentioned, “I don’t do base boards. I don’t paint. And I don’t do plumbing.” Hmm. I chided him about whether this was a coincidence, seeing as how those were precisely the three things that needed the most work in my house. Then I started asking base board questions, and it was likely when I asked how exactly to use the power saw I’d just borrowed that he probably decided he’d do base boards…but just this once.

So my super-awesome-now-favorite uncle came over to instruct us on base board installation. Instruction turned into actually doing the base boards. My aunt and dad became the apprentices. I watched. I occasionally made a sandwich or got someone a drink. I think I had the better job.

My base boards are now installed. Yipeee! Woohoo!!!! Yay!!! (I’d say this is the perfect time for a tiny party.)

Here are a few pictures to give you an idea of what those original base boards looked like (the first gives you a good idea of what most of the boards looked like; the second is a particularly bad spot with water damage):

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So my dad and I went to work pulling base boards. (And when I say, “my dad and I,” I really mean, “My dad did most of it, and I helped.”) You would think tearing the old boards out would be easy. You would also be wrong. Yet again, because of how the floor was installed, taking out those original boards was a bit of a nightmare. No. A lot of a nightmare.

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After pulling all the boards, we set a few pieces on the floor to see how the new setup would look:

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The new look was approved, and we got to work:

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And here’s a peak at the “finished” product:

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I put “finished” in quotes because it’s not actually done. Now that everyone’s done with the installation, my job is to do the finishing (cover nail holes, fill corners and seal those suckers to the wall). But after a week of demo and installation, I couldn’t bear to work on base boards any longer. Also, I needed my house to be clean before I had a nervous breakdown. So I focused on cleaning and a bit of decorating first. Once I do the finishing, I’ll be sure to post updated pictures. But I’ve got to tell you, I love my new base boards so much, it doesn’t even bother me that they’re not finished yet! (Oh, and if you want to know the trick to installing new base boards, here it is: get someone else to do it.)

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