Hello Half-Bath

Now I know you guys have seen glimpses of the half-bath, but I thought it was high time for a grand reveal and cost breakdown. Ready? Let’s do it.

If our attic conversion was a big old ice cream sundae, than our little half bath would most definitely be the cherry on top. And when I say little half bath, I mean little. Now on paper, the space doesn’t appear super small for a half-bath (it’s 25 square feet), but in reality the slanted ceilings in this space make it quite the petite little loo. We had a family friend come over with his 5-year old right before we listed the house, who confirmed for us that it was the smallest bathroom he’s evvveeerr seen. πŸ˜‰ #TimetoCallGuinness

But given the crazy, crazy timing we’ve been facing with our totally unexpected out of state relocation, our decision to only do a half-bath vs. the full-bath we had planned was without a doubt the right decision to make. Here is the layout we had planned initially.

Attic Bathroom Layout Someday my friends, someday. We’re moving in the right direction though, since the en suite on our first house looked like this! You could simultaneously brush your teeth and use the loo. Efficient.

Small Bathroom Design

This time we were able to achieve a space where the toilet is at least spaced out enough to not be touching the vanity. πŸ˜€ Here is a shot of the room from the bedroom. Hello, toilet! I read online that it’s bad feng shui to have your toilet facing directly at the door but ya know what, those old Chinese dudes must not live in 1940’s homes with converted attics.

Installing Toilet against knee wall

I finally found a spot for our new etsy artwork, too! (Along with a print we’d had stored away from our last move – oye)

Etsy Art

I’m cuckoo for cocoa puffs about our new floor. SWOOOONN. I’m totally replicating this bad boy in every house until I’m 97. You can quote me on that πŸ˜€


As chronicled earlier on the blog, we decided to install a pocket door in the space in order to save some room and make things a little less awkward as you transition from the bedroom to the bath.

Installing Pocket Door

Fanciest feature in my humble opinion is our porcelain potty. Dual flush people. We have arrived.

Dual Flush Toilet

I’m loving our Home Decorators vanity we snagged, too! I actually had a few people ask if it was custom made, so I’ll take that as a $500 well spent πŸ™‚ $500 is still a lot of smackaroos for a bathroom vanity, but we are so, so happy with it! Sometimes you’ve just gotta pull out the wallet to make the magic happen.

White Marble Vanity

Largely due to our major time crunch, we opted to install a generic (neutral) oval mirror. For our next house, I’d love to add some more character to our bathrooms by finding some more ornate antique mirrors for the space. We had to go the safe/inexpensive route with this house though, since getting this guy on the market was our main concern.

White Granite Vanity

Thinking along the sell this house fast as lighting vein, we also decided to stage things a bit by putting a nice big (HomeGoods, of course) basket in the corner with some fresh white towels. We found all these items on the clearance rack, so my total cost for (4) towels and the basket was only $30. Shhhaazzzaaamm.

Staging Bathroom for Sale

So, y’all ready for the cost breakdown to build a bathroom from the ground up? Here it goes:

  • Wall framing: $74
  • Pocket Door and hardware: $65
  • Door: $70
  • Vanity: $518
  • Mirror: $28
  • Faucet: $139
  • Marble Floor (including backerboard, grout and mortar): $212
  • Paint: $18
  • Board & Batten: $20
  • Toilet: $168
  • Sconces: $82
  • Art: $12
  • Basket and Towels: $30
  • Plumbing for Second Bath: $690
  • Total: $2,126

Now that’s a LOT of money in my book. Not cheap at all!! But, just on a dollars and sense appraisal of the house, this investment will pretty much provide double the value for us as we go to sell. Plus, I think that buyers really like the fact that the loo is right off the bedroom, so they won’t have to tromp down the steps if nature calls in the wee hours of the night. Overall – I think it’s a pretty solid investment.

Breaking it Down

You guys – thank you SO MUCH for all the kind words of encouragement about our move! We’ve just gotten an outpouring of support and it’s really nice to have such an amazing group of people to share with us in our excitement!

So if the last post didn’t make it pretty obvious, the last few weeks have been a cluster of activity around here, so I’ll be playing catch up on the blog with some things that have definitely already gone down. I’m super excited to show you what we did with our old bedroom and lots of other updates we scrambled to finish in the last seconds before listing our house.

As promised last week though, I wanted to start off with a cost breakdown of our attic conversion. This project, by far, is the one I get the most inquiries about, so I wanted to provide a really holistic cost breakdown for those that might be tackling a similar project at home. Y’all ready for this?

Let’s start back at the beginning. Our first significant cost was insulation.

Foam Board Insulation

To make sure the house was as efficient as possible, we decided to do a combination of foam and fiber glass. Foam had a higher r-value per inch, but it was also more expensive. Overall, I’m super pleased with the solution we found for this part of the project (read more about the install here). We’ve already seen a significant cost savings over last year (to tune of heating bills under $150), and we’ve had a beast of a winter here in Michigan. #PolarVortex

Here is the cost breakdown for this part of the project.

  1. 800 sq. feet of foam board: $375
  2. 1,000 sq. feet of fiberglass bats: $400
  3. 3 cans of spray foam: $15
  4. 3 rolls of HVAC Tape: $30
  5. Thermal foil barrier: $340

After we had the insulation in, our next big chunk of change went to drywall. Well, the drywall and the extra contractor we had to hire after the first one jumped the coop. Geeze louise, I’m telling you.

Converting Attic into Bedroom

This one was a bit more expensive than anticipated since we had to essentially double our labor costs unexpectedly. :/ (Don’t you hate that!) Overall, we spent just over $1,000 on the drywall supplies and installation. More than we had budgeted, but obviously an essential component of the remodel. We just didn’t have the expertise the do this one ourselves though, so unfortunately we had to rely on others to make the magic happen. And ya know, in the end it just wasn’t that magical.

Adding Built-in to Knee Wall

Although the built-in wasn’t done until near the end of our renovation, we actually started it before we even put in the drywall. Since we’re certainly not carpenters, we opted to cheat a bit with this part of the project and purchase pre-fab cabinets to speed things up a bit. All and all, this project wasn’t crazy expensive, but it still set us back a few hundred dolla billz.

Master Suite in Attic

Now this project was one that we landed up coming way WAY under budget on. After pricing out everything in the stores, I just kinda got sticker shock and decided to try this bad boy ourselves. If we would have opted to go with the pre-fab railing available at the home improvement store, this part of the attic would have come in just north of $700. Ouch. I’ll take $350 πŸ˜‰ Overall, I’m pretty darn happy with how it turned out, too!

We also decided to add a DIY Board and Batten accent wall for behind the bed. At $20, I’d say it’s the project that definitely had the most bang for the buck with the attic renovation!

Converting Attic to Master

BAM. I’m telling you – that’s the sweet spot. Speaking of way too much sweetness you can’t even handle it, check out our finished closet doors.

The board and batten finish was only $20 on these beauties as well. The door hardware and wood panels added to that price, but including everything, these closets costs around $200. Not sooo bad.

Board and Batten Trim on Closets

Last but certainly not least in our attic cost calculations, came our carpeting. Chalk it up to lots of odd angles leading to lots of scrap, this part of the remodel actually landed up being the most expensive. Errggghhh.

Winterthur Potters Clay

Including a few other incidentals and our skylights ($1,500), our total cost for just finishing off the attic (not the bathroom), came in at $6,590. Β Now that is so, so not cheap. It’s way more than most renovations we take on in this little house of ours BUT when we got quotes back in the day for adding a dormer out, we had (2) contractors tell us that finishing out this space would cost around $18,000 (sans dormer, mind you). Now that – that’s a lot of money.

Plus, as you all now know, with our house newly on the market, we feel pretty good about making an investment in a nice finished Master Suite. Gotta knock their socks off, people! πŸ˜€

And as a parting gift, I give you one more before shot of our lovely attic. As far as I’m concerned, this renovation was priceless!

Attic Bedroom

And … after!

Converting Attic into Bedroom

Master Suite Reveal!

I think I can safely say that we went into this little project of ours a wee over confident. Starting last OCTOBER, we kinda shrugged our shoulders and thought we’d get started on converting the attic to a Master Suite. We thought the whole shabang would take 6-weeks, maybe 8. So, so wrong my friends. πŸ™‚

If you remember, before we could even get started with adding all the new stuff, we had to rip out all the old. Cause quite frankly, I couldn’t find a way to work with the bright pink carpet adorning the floors pre-renovation. πŸ˜€

Attic Conversion

See what I’m saying? It just didn’t work with my color scheme πŸ˜€ We are so fa-reaking excited to finally be able to reveal this brand spanking beauty of a room. It had blood, lots of sweat and I’ll admit, a tear or two, but by George, it’s DONE!!

Here is an after shot from a similar angle. Bit different, right? Most notably in this shot, we took out the wall that was encasing the left side of the staircase, which in my opinion, makes the room feel so much more open and airy. The skylights on the roof help as well!

Master Suite in Attic

Our most expensive single cost in this room was our carpeting. $1,800 similions went out the door on this one. Errggg. More expensive than I thought it would be in all honesty, but it really makes the room, so I’m glad to have it. We found that since our room had a bunch of odd angles in it, that we landed up paying for 200 sq. feet of carpeting that we didn’t use, since they had so much scrap left over. Live and learn.

Here’s an action shot of the padding going down. It’s so cushy and squishy, it was pretty fun to walk on it sans soft carpet on top. Since an upgrade in padding only set us back .10 a square foot, we opted to get a nicer, mid-grade cushion that supposedly is less likely to absorb stains. Bonus.

Having Carpet Installed

The guys were super nice and extremely fast, they had everything down within an hour. I did notice that some of your trim can get pretty scuffed up during the installed, and we saw quite a few dings where actual chunks were missing, which was kinda annoying.

We went with the Martha Stewart Winterthur pattern from Home Depot in Potter’s Clay, which is a soft greige color.

Winterthur Potters Clay

At $2.53 a square foot, we found this carpet option to be a nice mix between a more affordable option, and something that looked pretty high end compared to a conventional carpet. It adds a bit of needed texture to the room, and I really love the subtle geometric pattern it’s got going on.

Here is a shot of how the carpet looks from a bit further away. Sigh. Isn’t it lovely?!

Adding Built-in to Knee Wall

I love how the little reading nook/built-in bench turned out, as well.

Built-in Knee Wall

Remember the pillows I found on clearance at Home Goods? They’ve already found a new home, I knew it wouldn’t take long πŸ™‚ (Added bonus, the pillows are made in the USA!)

The carpet installers had to take off our closet doors for installation, so it was super gratifying to get these bad boys back up so we could see how everything looked along the opposite wall. We had some touching up to do on the doors, but after we popped them back into their place, everything was looking mighty nice over there, too!

Board and Batten Trim on Closet

I love how the crisp white looks up against the more neutral tones for the carpet and wall. Since our home is older (1940’s), it’s pretty much a miracle to have more than one closet adorn any single room, so these two flanking beauties are a sight for sore eyes. My work day starts an hour later than the hubster, so having his closet in our bedroom has actually helped me get my tuckus out of bed each morning, too πŸ™‚

The best part about being completely finished with our upstairs (sans a few details) was to move our furniture up into this room!

Converting Attic to Master Suite

Looks like it was always meant to be there. Seeing everything nestled up in our new room made me do ninja kicks for 40 minutes straight. In LOVE.

I’m especially smitten with how the dark wood night stands look up against our $20 board and batten. I just want to lick it and claim it as mine. #Waytoomuchgorgeousnessithurts

Makes me so glad we took an extra day to install that beautiful white trim. Can you tell I love it πŸ˜€ On a side note, we still need to do some cord management to make things look a bit nicer, but for now, my eyeballs are so fixated on the bootifulness that I don’t even notice all our cord action.

Board and Batten Wall

From the far side of the room looking back toward the staircase, you used to have this view.

Master Suite Attic Conversion

And now, you’ve got THIS view! Taking down that wall and adding the skylights just makes the left side of the room feel so much more open. Plus, it’s so fun to wake up to the sun coming up through the windows. When I don’t see snow on my windows every morning, it will be that much more fun πŸ˜‰

Converting Attic into Bedroom

I’ll be back next week with a complete cost breakdown of how much this attic conversion set us back. Although it was definitely not the cheapest renovation we’ve taken on to date, it was SO worth it to have a more livable and enjoyable master retreat.

Psst! Want to see this project in action? I’ve bulleted some major projects up here with links, below!

Β  Β  Β Β Β  Β  Β Β 

{Affiliate Links}

Holey Moley

Our attic conversion, what can I say, it’s been an uphill climb. Ya think you’re ready to check something off the list and then BAM. There it is laughing you in the face again. Take our insulation, or our drywall, and now, our built-in. It just wasn’t quite ready to depart from it’s moment in the sun, so it decided to stick around a bit longer and become a problem child. Oye. See what I’m talking about?

Fixing Gaps with Trim

A bit too gappy don’t make Mary happy. Since we had so many otherΒ problem areas in this room, we really didn’t even notice all the jankiness on said bookcase until we started our final round of close up painting and started scratching our heads. Yes, that will not do.

Don’t believe me? How about a close up …

Adding Trim Around Bookcase

Mmmhhmmmm. Now that is a gap if I ever saw one πŸ™‚ The good news was that we had a lot (a LOT) of spare pieces of wood left over from all the other constructing we’d been doing upstairs so we were able to repurpose a few pieces to help with our little problem.

For the gap above, we found some quarter round that we used in the bathroom.

Installing Quarter round trim

Well lookey there. By George, that pretty much fixes it! We still had to slap some white paint on it, but for the most part, the quarter round and some caulk fixed our first problem area.

On to the second.

Adding Trim to Bookcase

Whomp. Whomp. We fixed this section in no time flat with some extra trim as well. It still needs a bit of caulking to smooth out the lines, but it’s well on its way. It’s pretty tricky to get back there to paint, since your arm is at such an odd angle. This area will be choke-full of books and accessories, so those back angles will be harder to see any way. Or at least that’s what I’m telling my self. πŸ˜€

Adding Trim Around Carpet

Remember our closets? Now take a close look at the photo below. Do you see how the closet on the far left has some extra space up above. Believe you me, this was a big aaaahhhh sshhheeeetttt moment in the Sell household, cause quite frankly, your closet framing is not supposed to look like that. Not at all.

Adding closets to knee wall

Here is a close up shot of all that loveliness to refresh your memory. This photo was taken during our initial construction phase, but I think you get the idea. One of these things is not like the other …

Adjusting Bi-fold door

Truth be told, when you have an old house and old walls pretty much nothing is straight. So, you roll with it and you try to improvise enough so it looks like “character” and not like “jankiness”. Our solution? Some hunka hunka crown molding. No weenie stuff, chunkcalicous stuff. Go chunky, or go home.

Putting Crown on Top of Closets

Since the crown was so large, we were able to essentially bend it up toward the ceiling in order to cover up the problem child area. We used our nail gun to get the piece installed initially, but because we were twisting the wood up so much to cover our gapalicousness, we had to also come back through and screw a few spots in for added support. Not ideal, but we made sure to “sink” the screw in so we could come back through and cover everything up with caulk after.

Adding Crown Above Closet

Here is how the crown looked after the install. So. Much. Better. Not perfect, but waaayy better.

Adding Closets to Knee Wall

And here is another shot of the front before caulking and painting the top section.

Board and Batten on Doors

Even after we’d fit the crown as tight as possible to the ceiling, there was still a decent amount of caulking that had to be done to help fill that ginormous gap. You can see in the shot below that we still had an eighth of an inch or so that had to be caulked after the crown was installed.

Caulking Top of Trim

Our last trimming detail pre-carpet install was adding a section right along where the stair banister and the wall meet. This was uber easy – one cut at the base of the steps and another for the corners and we were ready to get these bad boys installed.

Adding Trim Around Stairs

Here is how the stair trim looked the night before our carpet installation. Umm yeah. That’s right. I just said CARPET INSTALLATION!! Stay tuned for the big old reveal on Friday!

Adding Trim to Top of Steps

Polly Pocket

Pocket doors, amigos. It’s where it’s at. Especially when you have a rinky dink small little loo with barely enough space to get your tuckus in and out, let alone worry about a door swinging back at ya. Plus, I like the noise it makes as it slides on the glider. πŸ™‚ #LittleThings

Now, a pocket door really works best when you are already planning on tearing down or putting up a wall. Otherwise, the good old conventional route is probably your best option. We had the advantage of a pretty blank slate upstairs, so putting in the pocket door was really a no brainer. Remember, when we were at this point in the project.

How To Install a Pocket Door

Oh righhhtt. When we were going to install a FULL bath. Things are constantly changing round these parts. πŸ™‚

Man it feels good to not be at that point, I gotta tell ya. Hanging doors is a much better step than installing door frames. πŸ™‚ Being that we had a pocket door on our hands, there were a few extra/different steps from our previous door hanging escapades. Namely the door hardware is altered (since a door knob would prevent the door from closing) and there are rollers in place of hinges.

Let’s start with the rollers.

How to install pocket door

The mount (which gets installed on the door) is in the left side of the picture and the rollers are on the right side. You need two sets of these, so that you can have a pair of rollers mounted to the top of the door.

Here is the top bracket, installed to the door.

Pocket Door Installation

After we got the first bracket on, we installed the other one on the opposite side of the door, about an inch out from the edge.

When we had the top hardware mounted, we had to come back and create a hole in the door for the pocket hardware. A HOLE, in the door. Uggh. I hate it when we have to deface things. It just gives me the heeby jeebys thinking about everything that could go wrong. Luckily, this was a pretty straight forward fix where we just had to make a small rectangle to accommodate the pocket door hardware, below.

Pocket Door Hardware

Overall, this step was pretty easy peasy. We just measured up 34″ (which is the distance the rest of our door handles are) and measured out the correct sized hole for our new fancy pants hardware.

Installing Pocket Door Hardware

To cut the hole in the door, we used a jig saw. Jay cut, while I prayed. And grimaced. And told him to be careful not to cut too much and ruin the door.

To help matters along, we made sure to sketch everything out directly on the door so we’d know exactly when to stop jigging. πŸ˜€

Installing Hardware on Pocket Door

We purchased special hardware for the door at Home Depot. They only had one to choose from, so if you were looking for a different color, your best bet would be to spray paint it. Luckily, we decided to just roll with the color since it coordinated with our other fixtures. Lucky break. πŸ˜‰

How to install pocket door hardware

The door hardware separated into two pieces, so once we had the hole cut into the side of the door, it was just a matter of popping it on and screwing everything in.

Pretty simple. Until we went to hang it and noticed some funky action happening. You see that big old gap on the far right side of the door. Turns out we mis-estimated the amount of trim necessary to properly close up that dang door. And it also turns out that we’d already put on all the trim. Frickety frack.

How to Install Pocket Door

Since we bought everything together in a boxed set, all of the hardware we needed for installing the door came with the frame that we purchased for $50 at Home Depot. That, my friends is a very good thing, since I wouldn’t know the first place to hunt for this stuff if we had to buy it all piece meal. Other than our trim door snafu, the entire project took about an hour.

Once we came back through to fix up our trim, we had this!

Installing a pocket door

The door just slides right on into the wall. Groovy, right? Now you see it, now you don’t!

Framing for a pocket door

Since the rest of the doors were original to the home, we weren’t able to get the exact same door, but I think that since this is the only door on this level that it works to have it be a bit different. It reminds me a lot of the doors that Lindsay has at her home over on White Buffalo Styling Company. Check out her house if you haven’t, it gorgeous!

New Year, New Projects! | January Recap

You know it’s been a busy month/beginning of the year, when I don’t get around to the monthly recap until mid-February. Fail.

It’s pretty exciting to think that for the next monthly recap, I’ll be able to include a FINISHED attic. Omeergggauuud. That makes me feel like chest bumping the next stranger that walks down our street. Pumped, I am. (Yoda talk)

March Blog Sponsors

I’m also SO excited to announce that the month of February/March will be chock full of some pretty sweet giveaways thanks to some amazing new sponsors for the blog! Think personalized address stamps from Blush Paperie, Artwork from Eva Juliet, Jewelry from Junghwa Jewelry, and some sweet etsy finds from Hearts Beat Electric. I know, right?! Get excited blogosphere, it’s going to be epic.

But before we get all pumped about the future, let’s dwell in the past and see some of the projects the Sell household got done in the fine month of January.

Raise the Roof

How to property insulate attic

In the month of January, we finally bid farewall to our insulation fun fest and installed our final round of foam. Can’t say it didn’t feel good to finally have a completely insulated and air tight upstairs.

Plus, we got our DTE bill this week and it looks like all that insulating is paying off, too. For the month of January, our bill was only $158. Last year, even with our brand new high efficiency furnace, we were at $190! Anddd it’s been considerably colder this year (polar vortex, anyone?).

House Hunting with Mary

Durham Real Estate

I’ve got a Β new Thursday tradition round these parts with the start of my house hunting with Mary posts. Cause really, couldn’t we all use some real estate eye candy every once and a blue moon. For serial house hunters like me, the only way to get my fix is to pretend I’ve got a million dollars lining my pockets and go out and find that next beauty. Ahhh, to have a dream.

USA for Jesus’s Day

We set a pretty lofty goal this year and tried to have a completely China Free christmas. For those that actually check tags before you buy something, I think you can agree that this is a harder task than initially imagined. In the end, we actually did pretty good and tried to buy as many locally sourced, USA made products as possible. I definitely think this is a tradition we’ll be looking to keep!

Gifts Made in the USA

Mission Organization

Chalk it up to the new year, but we’ve beenΒ I’ve been on an organizing kick the past few weeks. Closets, drawers, my underwear. Nothing is safe. πŸ™‚

Plus, who doesn’t like having an excuse to search for cute organization bins? Count me in!

Inexpensive Basket Locations


Drinking in some Drywall

Ah, yes. I’d almost wiped the drywall saga from my memory. Two contractors and way more money than I wanted to spend later, we finally had a finished attic. Finished, in your dreams Mary!! We had an attic that had drywall kinda sorta up, that needed a decent amount of elbow grease before it’s day in the sun. Even though the drywall install did not go as planned, it was a pretty exciting moment to finally, FINALLY, have walls up in our attic!

Drywalling Attic

Picking La Paint

After we slaved for a weekend or so and fixed up all the jankiness that we fondly refer to as our drywall, we decided it was high time to paint this joint and make it actually look like a room instead of the bunker it had been for the past 3-months. I don’t know about all of y’all, but I do have to confess that painting has to be my favorite part of the room transformation. On this room in particular, the addition of paint really took it from ugg to on it’s way.

Best Greige Colors

Board and Batten

For $20, this project was without a doubt my favorite home renovation DIY to date. I just can’t get enough of this stuff, it just makes such a difference on the wall that was kinda meh before.

Here’s how everything look post install. Yummerlicous.

Twenty Dollar Board and Batten

Plumb De Dumb

What better way to close out the month of January than with the install of our lovely marble floors in the bathroom. Just like your favorite go-to little black dress, err leggings in my case πŸ˜€ I’ve gotta say that this new pattern is going to be in my back pocket for future homes. A bit trickier than a traditional subway tile pattern, but only incrementally. And by George, I’d say the look is leaps and bounds sexier. Am I right, or am I right. πŸ˜€

Marble Subway Tile Herringbone Pattern

From Bland Bi-Fold to BAM

Guilty as charged, I’m a board and batten fa-reak. Can’t get enough of this stuff. Bathrooms, bedroom walls, and now – closets πŸ™‚ I just couldn’t handle the 80’s builder grade look we had going on with the bi-fold doors so when I saw some extra scrap from our wall adventures in the side of the room I started to think about jazzing up these little dudes.

Here is how they looked after we had them installed. Definitely better than the gaping holes we had there before, but definitely kinda meh.

Adding Closets to Attic Knee Wall

So in an attempt to spice these bad boys up, we added some board and batten action into the mix. Since the doors are quite a bit more rectangular in shape than the wall and bathroom, we decided to ditch the square though and go a bit more oblong for this DIY.

We didn’t even bother to take the doors off for the install. We just grabbed our scrap pieces, cut them to size and starting nailing them in.

DIY Bi-fold Doors

Since the boxes that we were creating were quite a bit smaller than the other walls we had done, we also thought it would be prudent to trim down our wood sections a bit to make them a little skinnier. Instead of the 3″ pieces that we used for the wall, we used 2″ for the doors.

We also knew that we would want to have equal sections for each box that we created, so to determine our height on each box, we just took the total area of the door and divided it by three. Easy enough! Here we are measuring the first piece for our horizontal striping. You can see Jay pointing to the location for the first piece of trim.

How to add trim to bifold door

After measuring, we just cut a piece to size and nailed it in to create the bottom of each rectangle.

Adding Trim to Bifold door

Then we did that a few more times, and we had this! Yummy! πŸ™‚

Board and Batten on Bifold door

For those trying to recreate this look at home – it’s so darn simple it’s crazy. Now, for those without a table saw, I’d advise just grabbing 2″ pieces of trim, vs. cutting it to size. Since we only used (1) board of plywood, our total cost was $20 for this DIY. If you’re purchasing trim, it will most likely be just a tad more expensive…

The dimensions for your door will dictate your measurements, but here are the proportions we had for each of the boxes.

Trim on bifold doors

After we had a bit of primer on it, you could really see the board and batten look coming together. I knew it was going to look mighty swanky πŸ˜€

And here are some of the after shots with a coat of simply white on it! We still need to add some hardware and trim, but I can tell that these babies are going to be show stoppers already.

Adding trim to bifold doors

Another side angle shot looking out toward the board and batten wall. Love, love, love it! We’re just waiting on our carpet (it’s been ordered!) and this room will be d.o.n.e. Can I get a heeelllll yeah!

Bifold doors with trim

Now to figure out the hardware … here are some of my top contenders!

Β  Antique Brass Door Knobs

1) Knob 1

2) Knob 2

3) Knob 3

4) Knob 4

5) Knob 5

6) Knob 6


Stair Struck

Chalk it up to our little bout of confidence from our newel experience, but we got kinda ballsy around here and decided to also DIY the banister. Now, normally when I say DIY I mean that we go out and buy pre-made said thing and then install it. Like, I would consider our bathrooms DIY’ed, but ya know, we didn’t make the marble tiles – we just installed them ourselves. But ladies and gentlemen, we’re just little carpenters over here and we keep busting out our wood related projects. Can’t stop, won’t stop.

Alas, there are a few reasons for this. Like newel posts, it turns out banisters are cray cray expensive. Like $325 for the wood we’d need for our little rinky dink number. So I had to say goodbye to my dreams of a banister that looks like this …

Dark Wood Hand Railing

And say hello to an all white painted banister. Not a bad thing, especially when it’s saving you mucho dollares.

So here is the back story. For our banister, we needed approximately 17 linear feet of railing. When we went to Home Depot to price everything out, it was going to cost us just north of $300 for the railing and the spindles and really, that just felt like too much for me to handle. So once again, I gave the hubster the sly eye and said – by George – let’s build it!

Although the banister turned out a-ok, I have to confess, this little DIY project was a bit harder than our newel experience. Mainly since we had to kind of make it up as we went along vs. having an exact image of what we knew we wanted, like we did with the newel.

After we ripped out the old, we were left with this. Am I the only one that gets sweaty palms taking that view in. Eeek!!

How to build a stair rail

Next step was to pop in our newel posts so that we had a clear idea of the distance we needed to cover for each railing. Since we will be installing carpet in the next few weeks up here, we just got some l-brackets for the posts and screwed them in directly to the floor. Easy peasy. The less easier part – constructing the stair rail.

We knew that we’d need a base and a top and some slats down the middle, and with some improvising, we finally found the right combo to get the look we wanted. We purchased a 5″ piece (cut in half for the base and top) , a 3″ piece (cut in half for the edges) and a 1″ piece (for the spindles)

How to build staircase banister

After some trial and error on the sizing that we wanted, we landed up with 1.5 inches for all sides of both the base and the top. Here is Jay putting together our first piece. The top section, where he is resting his hand, is where the spindles go.

How to Build Banister

After we got the first side panel installed, we flipped it over and came back through to screw in each of the spindles. Since we knew we would need some space to get the screwdriver in there, we decided to wait until after the spindles were installed to attach the other side.

You can see Jay coming back through with the nail gun for some extra reinforcement along the top as well. To keep things simple, we just followed the exact same dimensions for both the top and bottom railing.

DIY Stair Case Banister

After we got the spindles in (they are spaced at 5.5″ apart on center, with a 4″ interior gap), we came back through and attached the second side panel so that we could pop on the top railing.

DIY Stair Railing

Since we were just figuring out the process the first evening, everything took a bit longer and we only finished the front, smaller section. By night two, we had our game faces on though and we were ready to rumble, so things went quite a bit faster.

We pre-cut everything to size and got moving! Here are all the spindles lined up and ready for their day in the sun.

How to Build Stair Case

As we started to connect the railings to the newel posts, we were very careful to make sure that everything was level and that the banister was hitting at the same height on each post.

How to Build Stair Railing

Once we got everything level and screwed into the newel posts, we popped on our top railing piece and called it a day.Β Got ready to sand, caulk, prime and paint this bad boy. One downside of our less expensive banister was that we had to come through and do a decent amount of prep work before we could grab our paint brushes.

DIY Stair Railing

Problem areas like this had to be filled in with wood putty.

Dent in stair railing

And problem areas like this had to get sanded. Umm – yeah – ya think, a bit fuzzy πŸ™‚

Sanding Stair Spindle

Here is a breakdown of all the supplies we purchased and our total cost.

  • (3) 5″ wood planks cut in half for the tops of the bases where the spindles attached – $4.48 each
  • (5) 3″ planks cut in half for the side panels for the base $3.48 each
  • (3) 3″ planks trimmed to 2.5″ for the top railing $3.48 each
  • A box of screws $6
  • Total: $47.28

Vs. $325 for the pre-fab banister options at Home Depot!! Hello money in my pocket. The picture below provides a visual graphic of the dimensions we used for each of the stair banister components.

How to build stair railing

Sans the top of one newel post (got lost in the shuffle and we still have to go back and grab one from the hardware store), we now have this for our stair case after one coat of paint!

How to build stair banister

Now when you add in the savings from our DIY newel posts, we saved around $650 by tackling this bad boy ourselves. That, makes me a very happy little lady πŸ˜€

Nifty Newel

Newel posts. I’ve always had a soft spot for these chunky chunks of goodness. On our last house, we had dinky little 80’s style posts at the end of our steps (like this) and I always wanted to demo that bad boy and put in a beefy newel post in it’s place. And then we moved. Story of my life … ya just can’t hold me down.

But when I went to the hardware store to start pricing out our stairwell, I was in utter dismay when I saw the price they wanted for one of my big bertha’s. $100 – a pop – and I needed (4). OUCH. So I stood there in the aisle for a while and started to ponder about the possibilities of slapping one of these little beauties together ourselves. For one, I could tell it was basically a glorified 4×4, more or less. So I smiled nice at my husband, told him how easy it would be (pep talk) and we were off to the races!

And ya know what? The project was actually pretty darn easy! Like I said, it’s basically a glorified 4×4. πŸ˜€

For your viewing pleasure, here is what we had in place of a newel before we started. An ugly half wall. Oh, and pink carpet πŸ˜‰

Stair Railing Wall

So I had a pretty good idea of what I wanted and with an inspiration photo in hand, we picked up the necessary goodies and got crackin. The whole shebang centered around this beauty. Ask me how much it cost πŸ˜€ $6 per newel – BAMMM! Ok, yes, there are some other things that get added to said post, but a few Georgie Washingtons is a real good place to start.

You can see in the photo below that Jay is hacking this guy right in half, since the 4×4 we purchased was 8′ total, we knew we’d be able to divide and conquer to get two newell posts from each piece of wood.

How to Build a newell post

Based on the photo’s I’ve seen of other newel posts I liked, I knew we’d have to add some extra mdf around the base to make the bottom third section a bit beefier. Jay was able to use his new table saw (worth it’s weight in gold, not sure how we ever lived without it) to cut a mitered corner, so the mdf would essentially wrap right around the base of the post.

How to use miter cut on table saw

We just used the nail gun to get each piece nice and snug to the side of the post and wrapped the mdf around the base like so.

How to Build a newell post

Another detail I knew we’d need to add was some type of trim to help smooth the transition between the new piece of mdf we cut around the base, and the 4×4 post. Lucky for us, I found some trim at Home Depot that perfectly fit the bill. Added bonus, it was under $5 for 10 feet of it, which was more than enough for each newel post. Can ya tell I’m feeling pretty good about all the moolah we saved?

I think it worked perfectly for what we needed! It’s a bit gappy around the edges, but we knew that once we caulked and painted everything, you wouldn’t be able to see these seams.

How to build Newell Post

After that first base piece is installed, the rest is really up to your imagination. I had a general idea of what I was looking for, but I think you can kind of make the newell your own by just arranging the trim on there however you like. We decided to follow a more traditional newel post pattern, with an additional chunk of trim a bit further up, and then a cap on top.

DIY Newell Post

For the cap, we improvised just a bit in order to save ourselves the extra trouble of creating something with a lip in it. We found these pieces of trim that were $3 each (no idea what they even are for!), and figured we could press two together to get the look our hearts desired. At $7 for both of them, this was the most expensive part of each newell post! Huzza!!

DIY Newell Post

Not too bad, huh? So for those trying to recreate exactly what we did at home, here is the source list and price breakdown. For each newel, we used:

  • (2) caps (above) $7
  • (1) 4×4 post, $6
  • (4) feet of trim $2 (we purchased a 10′ piece for $5)
  • MDF for base $6

If you’re counting, that’s a grand slam total of $21 per newel, vs. $100 for the pre-made option. What, what!! Both are solid wood, and this was pretty darn easy, in complete honesty. Here is a visual break down of each post.

Parts for a newell post

One learning experience for us on the newel post was that the 4×4 posts have a tendency to be a bit warped. Do yourself a favor and really look at each piece before you commit to it and bring it home. We landed up not doing that and had a few trouble spots result from the jankiness.

And – drum roll please … Here is the final newell post with a coat of paint! For $20, I’m thrilled with how they turned out!

DIY Newel Post Tutorial


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Stored Away

Closets in an old house, they’re a commodity what can I tell you. Overall, I’d give our house a B+ on storage since we actually do have a decent amount of storage with a large garage and ample space in the basement for schlepping our stuff away. What our house is missing though is enough closet space in any one bedroom for both Jay and I to put all our goods away in a neat and orderly fashion. A 10×10 bedroom only has so much wall space for said closets.

So, we took this attic expansion as a superb opportunity to add some much needed his and hers closet space. Modernize this joint. This is what we started with. See, it’s already storing all our extra goodies to the tune of a yet installed toilet. Classy.

How to Add Closets to Knee Wall

If you remember, when we were framing everything out, we took the opportunity to utilize all our extra knee wall space as prime storage opportunities. We had a similar set up in our last house, so we had a pretty good idea of what we were looking for come reno time. We’d never really built closets like this before though, so we had a few wrinkles along the way. Taking it in stride, my friends.

We knew we would need some type of mount to install the closet doors onto, so that was our first step.

Installing Spacer for Closet

Jay took a scrap piece of wood to do some investigative work in order to find the right angle for our initial piece, which landed up being right around 45 degrees. We just measured the length of the closet opening and cut it to size. Like so.

Adding Closet to Knee Wall

When we were measuring for the correct angle, we also used our handy little level to make sure everything would be consistent across the entire closet opening. If things were not level, it could lead to doors not opening correctly, etc. Things you always try to avoid. πŸ˜‰

How to Install Closets in Knee Wall

Now, speaking of levelness, as we started to move along on our closet journey’s, we noticed some trouble up ahead as we started to edge toward our final wall. So … remember how I’ve mentioned a few times now that our drywall was kinda whack? Here is another instance.

Adjusting for Uneven Ceiling

See that hella-licous gap action? Not good, my friends. In order to keep everything level and consistent across the opening, we realized that we would have to shim our wood piece, creating a big old gap where there definitely shouldn’t be one. Whomp, whomp. We’ve got some plans to get creative with the trim on these closets and we’ll just have to add something beefier there to take care of the 1″ discrepancy.

To save ourselves some time and money, we decided the best strategy for the doors themselves would be to buy a pre-fabricated option, and just cut it down to size for the dimensions that we needed (we got this one). Since the doors were hollow though, we had to actually re-install the trim pieces as we went along, so that there would not be a visible hole down the front of the door.

Working with Hollow Doors

After we got the doors reconfigured, we went ahead and started the install process. Luckily, the doors came with the hardware necessary to mount them, so we just installed the hardware along the floor boards and popped those doors right on in.

How to install bi-fold Door

Well, kinda… The first two (again) were easy. It was the second set that gave us problems. After we put in the bottom bracket, shown above, we had to pop in the door to the top glider. For some reason the very last door (go figure) would just not adjust correctly to be the same height as all the others. Even after messing with it and adjusting everything, we were left with this.

Adjusting Bi-fold door

Grumble, grumble. One of these things is not like the other. We finally got the door to settle just a bit better, but there is still a noticeable bump up on the final door that we will have to continue to work on, or disguise somehow with trim, etc.

You can see the bump from this angle, as well, where the final door jimmy’s out a bit more than the rest. In all honesty, by this point in the project we were both getting pretty tired and resolved to pick up where we left off with it on another day.

Adding Closets to Attic Knee Wall

For now, I’d say this wall is SO MUCH more functional than it was pre attic demo, a la this photo. πŸ˜€ Ok – now I feel better. Danng just look at that pink carpet, I’m telling ya! πŸ˜€

Master Suite Attic Conversion