C is for Closet

Not sure what the deal was, but I’m pretty sure that people in the 1940’s were either small humans with miniature clothes or they had a quarter of the stuff we had. Probably the latter…. One thing for sure though, ever since we moved into our house last year, we’ve immediately determined that we’d each need our own closet and since there is only one closet per bedroom, Jay got bumped to the guest room and now he actually keeps all his stuff in the basement since it’s closest to the shower he uses to get ready. So if you’re picking up what I’m putting down, it’s not the best system.

Here’s my current closet. It works … but it’s small.

Organized storage closet, Painted closet

So one of the things that makes us feel like doing cartwheels about the attic conversion is that we will have MEGA closets. Not a walk in, mind you, put super spacious compared to our current configuration. Plus, they will both be in the same room so no one has to truck it down a flight of stairs, which is an added bonus.

When configuring out the attic space, we figured the most organic spot for the closets would be in the knee wall along the front right side of the room.

Adding Closets to Knee Wall

Since this space already has a nice, open hall there, we thought it would make sense to have this be the main clothing storage location.

Our first order of business was to sketch out some quick measurements to make sure everything would be more or less centered along the wall. We knew we wanted (2) closets, and that each closet would be 60″ in length.

How to Frame a Closet

With the space we had left over, we have about 12″ between the wall and the closet and another 12″ in the space between the two closets. In all honesty, that spacing felt a wee tight – but if we went to the next size closet down, we’d be looking at a 48″ opening vs. 60″ – so it was a trade-off we were willing to make.

The great thing about using the attic as living space is that all of the knee walls offer prime time space for storage. The closets will actually be able to go FOUR FEET back, which means we are going to be able to schlep some serious junk in this trunk. My closet is currently like a foot and a half by 3 feet, so color me PUMPED to have this big of a storage chest for all my clothing goodies.

Insulating an Attic Closet

In addition to all the insulation we put between the rafters we opted to add an extra layer of foam insulation (R-5) around the closets and behind the walls to get us a bit toastier up in our b-room. Since all we had to do was grab these sheets and screw them in with drywall screws, this insulation step was vastly easier than the cutting we had to do for every single piece to fit it in between each rafter, a la the picture below. That was a hairy beast, my friend.

How to use foam board to insulate attic

For the actual framing, we just used some 2×4’s ($2.50 each) to create a basic structure for the closet. Since we won’t be having any monkey’s jumping on this bed closet, we were not overly worried about it being super structural, so we just popped a few in to give the drywall something to adhere to.

How to Frame a Closet

Our main concern when we were installing the framing was to make sure everything was square, to prevent any issues with the doors fitting, etc as we go along.

How to Build a Closet

Another tricky little detail with this whole get up was that we had to install a side access door so that we could get to an area in the back of our attic where the ceiling height is a bit lower. Good for storage, not good for beds and bathrooms and built-ins.

Before, we had an access panel that was just chilling in the middle of the room. See the wooden door on the left, below. Yeah … that’s where you got the the storage area in the attic before. That just wasn’t meshing with my whole chic attic vision.

Attic Conversion

So … the closet space seemed like the best place to pop a door in as discreetly as possible. It’s a bit of a small door, like on your hands and knees kind of door, but in all honesty, the space it opens up to is not much better. Really, we just wanted to be able to get into the room in case we had a roof leak, or a mouse scratching, one of those wonderful scenarios. 😀

You can see the access cut out below, and the door (which has not been attached yet) is off the the right. Once this area is drywalled, you’ll just see a little door there, and not a big hole. 🙂

Side Access Door in Attic

Now that we’ve got the spaces all insulated and framed, they are looking like this.

Adding Closets to Attic Knee Wall

A his and hers if I ever saw it. 20 square feet of closet space = much, much better than 5 square feet. Actually make that 20 square feet times two, since we will each of our own little closet that could. Woot.



La Grande House Tour

Since the house is looking mighty different these days, post kitchen reno and post floor refinishing, I thought it was high time to give y’all an update of the house and a new lay of the land.

The main floor has definitely seen the most change since we moved in almost a year ago, in October 2012. Notably, we refinished the floors and gutted the kitchen, along with the bathroom reno and lots of other fun things. On this level, I don’t think we will have any huge changes going forward other than some additional decorating and sprucing. Biggest change of them all, no wall between the dining room and living room. Use your imagination to magically remove that from the floor plan below 😉

First Floor Layout


Got to leave a good first impression, right 😉 The foyer had baby blue walls and a mural on the ceiling when we moved in. We painted over the mural like the first week. I actually feel moderately bad about that, since I think it was a pride a joy type of thing for the previous owner, but Lordy, there was just no way I was going to keep it around. Different strokes for different folks.

  Entry Before and After

These days, we’ve got our dark walnut floors greeting you and some fun artwork on the wall. I think it would be awesome to find a gorgeous vintage rug for this space, but since I’m a cheapo, that’ll have to wait until the stars align and I find one for a steal of a deal. For now, the entry is looking like this.

Minwax Dark Walnut

Living Room

Other than painting and refinishing the floors, the room has not seen a ton of dramatic changes. The previous owner had kind of an odd furniture configuration, so that was a quick fix! 😉 Here is the before:

Living Room Before and After

And here it is now! One thing I’ve learned about myself decorating this house is that I LOVE big rugs. I feel a song coming on … I like big rugs and I cannot lie, you other home DIY decorators can’t deny, that a big rug just fills up that space and makes you want to cel-e-brate. Ok – had to … 😉 Here it is now, with the BIG Pottery Barn Owen Jute rug.

Large Jute Rug in Living Room

Downstairs Bath 

Our first true full renovation in this house was the downstairs bathroom. Here is how this bathroom looked before we moved in. Kinda like the water closet for kermit, ode to green. More than anything, this bathroom lacked any storage space. No vanity, no spot to put your toothbrush, just a little rinky dink shelf that led to lots of clutter up in here.

Bathroom Before and After Now we’ve got ample storage, mainly due to the built-in we decided to install between the studs in the tub surround. It’s turned out to be the perfect location to store all of our toiletry goodies, we even had some extra room for some bathroom beautification. Holla.

Traditional Marble Bathroom

Master Bedroom

 This one has come a long way since the days of our oreo cookie walls. Very chic, very not our style. We decided to go with something a bit more understated in this space.

Master Bedroom Before and After

Here is a recent snapshot of how the bedroom is looking these days. We painted, refinished the floors, bought these curtains and did some general sprucing.

Emmie Spets Sheets IKEA

Dining Room 

Wall, schmall – who needs it. Not us! It’s gone off to wall heaven while we enjoy our nice open and airy dining/kitchen space. Here is how the dining room looked the day we moved in, with the kitchen over to the left.

Dining Room Before and After

W’ere pretty ga ga over the new space. Every few days we look at each other and say – I can’t believe we almost didn’t take out the wall. I can’t even conjure up an image of what the renovated space would have looked like without the wall removal and I’m pretty glad we go the random charge of energy and guts to just go for it. It wasn’t easy, it was mega dirty and at times made us want to go in a corner in cry, but ya know what, it was so worth it.

Refinished Antique Table


Oh the kitchen. The land of faux finishes and wall murals. After 8-months of owning the house, we knew big changes had to happen in this space to make it the kitchen of our dreams. This is what the space looked in the beginning.

Kitchen Before and After

A wall removal and a total gut job later, the abode is looking like this. You could say I’m in love. We still need to add a few deets before the space is totally done (crown, etc), but we are on our way.

White Shaker Kitchen Cabinets

Conquer the Closet

So I think every home has at least one spot where crap just gravitates toward. Our house, has multiple crap magnets, but we are officially down one cause I tackled the closet! Since we moved in, I’ve just been stuffing things in there. Things that totally don’t belong there. Like paystubs, old prescriptions, toilet bowl cleaner. Yeah – let’s just say it was a catch all. Here is a lovely image to help you understand how much this closet was just not functioning.

Cluttered Closet – Before

Inspired by the William Morris project over at Pancakes and French Fries, I decided that today was the day. To Conquer – that – Closet. So I started by grabbing a selection of baskets from our stash in the basement (another area in dire need of being conquered, alas, not today). And I set to work purging this baby of all it’s unnecessary items. Funny, I thought for sure we would have to take a trip to HomeGoods or Ikea to get some new storage for the closet, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a solid stash hanging out in the basement. I found that the one great thing about moving, is that you can go shopping in your house, cause ya land up hoarding random things all over the place and finding them later. It’s awesome.

Closet organization
Baskets | Closet Organziation

I started by just emptying the whole kit and caboodle out so that I could systematically tackle it. When we were packing to move to this house, I actually found that I really like organizing items into a defined space. I was the master of packing boxes. I swear, it’s like another being zapped into my body (I’m talking Quantum Leap, here – do you remember that show!?) Just like that, like vrooom – and a jolt – and this new identity takes over. I would just look at the box, and all the stuff around me I’d have to pack and it just all magically fit. The closet felt like the same type of challenge. Defined amount of space, lots of random crap to fit in. I was up to the task. My alter ego that is, was up to the task. Of course, the Orange Tabby was there for moral support.

The orange tabby helping
Malcolm Helping

I started up at the top, and just worked my way on down. Here are some close-ups of the finished closet. Found some pillows just laying around, figured the linen closet was a good place to put em’ 🙂 We have mostly linens and medicine stocked away in this cabinet, so I started compartmentalizing everything into separate totes to organize.

Closet Organization

Here is the long and lean shot of the space. Much improved! Feels good to check that beast off the list!  Only took 3-months. Let’s see how long it lasts.

Linen Closet Organization
Linen Closet Organization

Going Cordless

One of the jankiest things about our basement built-in has been the cords that are all over the counter top. I hated those things. They were like weeds coming out of the cabinet and making the whole area look totally unkept and ugg. With a capital U. Here is a before picture to refresh your memory.

Computer with Cords

So when I brought up hiding the cords and organizing the space and Jay said it would be no problem to tackle – that made me happy. I didn’t believe him though. I thought he was pulling the whole happy wife, happy life routine. So I said great! … and anticipated not so great. To my complete and utter amazement this was SO EASY. Granted I stood beside him and snapped pictures, but he seemed to know what he was doing. Leave it to the pros, ya know?

The key was in a specific drill bit that he was able to borrow from his co-worker (thanks Ron!). It’s got a diamond blade – fancy, eh? So this beast of a blade cut right through our tile and made the most perfect little circle! I was totally envisioning tile shards flying everywhere and a totally messed up looking counter, but I guess I shouldn’t have doubted the man. So here’s the play by play. First, and most importantly go get a diamond edge hole saw, this is the one we used. You really need this if you are trying to create a hole in tile or stone. If you are just drilling through wood, you can use a normal hole saw, which is what we used after getting through the first layer of tile.

Drilling into Tile

First thing Jay did was get the area just a little wet. Probably a few tablespoons of water – just to helped with the friction. It decreases the heat and you do notice a funky smell if you don’t have a sufficient amount of water on the tile. You can see that a mud like substance starts to result as the tile and grout mix, and the hole begins to form. After this step, ya have a nice little perfectly rounded hole.

Hole in Tile

Next, after you get your layer of tile out, you need to come back through and get the chunk of wood underneath. This only took a second, and Jay just switched out the bit on his drill to a 1″ spade bit, which is just a normal circular wood bit.

Drilling into the Wood

Pretty much done at this point, just need to chisel out any extra wood pieces that are left on the outside perimeter. Look how intensely he is chiseling out that wood! Focused on his work, totally ignoring the paparazzi.

Chiseling Out Wood

After we cleaned up, we were left with this! Totally loving this FREE and super easy upgrade. The counter is feeling a lot more airy and open now – definitely a move in the right direction.

Computer Monitor

And a view from the back – look at how nice those cords look!

Deck the Halls

Actually, we undecked the halls, if you will. The previous owner installed a very functional, albeit very not our taste, bookshelf along the top row of the hall. I had that shelf listed (and sold!) on craigslist before we even moved in – he he! 🙂 Things are looking a bit different down the hall these days…

Hall: Progress

Here is a before shot – so ya have a good idea where we were coming from with the hall. The track lighting had to get the heave hoe. Even though I think this thing is ugly as sin, the one advantage {I do have to admit}, was that beast could really light up your hallway. 🙂 Unfortunately, the brackets not only screwed into the wall, but they had a decent amount of glue plastered on the back of them, making it pretty tricky to pry them off.

Hall – Before

Spackle and a putty knife solved most of those issues, and luckily, the previous owner had left behind some wall paint, which we used to match the color already painted in the living room {Benjamin Moore, Carrington Beige}.

I was looking for a slightly more substantial light for this space – and stumbled across this one while surfing pinterest. My favorite thing about this light was the unique top mounting component. I love a drum light, but something they start to all look the same to me, and can get a wee bit boring. This one has a bit of unexpected pizzazz, which I think is super groovy 🙂 You can find the light here. Lampsplus has sales all the time, and they also send out coupons for $20 off, so it’s worthwhile to wait for one of those to pop into your inbox before taking the plunge.

Hall Light

Here are some more photos of how the hall is looking these days. Still in pretty desperate need of some art on the walls {perhaps a gallery wall, mmm, wheels start turning}. For now – it’s an improvement over the hallway of yester-year. 🙂

Hallway Progress: Side Shot

A poster of our favorite artist, Mason Jennings. His song Lemon Grove Avenue is the inspiration behind the blog! 🙂

Mason Jennings Poster

And here is a picture looking down the other way. The wall to the left of the bathroom door really is in need of some art work! I’ll have to hunt on etsy for some winners 🙂

Hall Photo: Progress


Wainscoting (What, What!): Pinterest Challenge!

Other than painting around the house, this basement entry redo is the first “real” project we have tackled since moving into our house in October. We’ve been using the finished basement a lot since we moved in, so every time I tromped down the steps I cringed hardcore at the faux finished green paint on the walls. In addition to green paint on the baseboard area, the ceiling and walls were painted a light blue color. Not my up o’ tea.

I had visions of a clean and simple basement entry – and the previous look just wasn’t fitting the bill. I started scouring pinterest for ideas and came across the look below and I figured – heck – we could do that! Sans the bookcase – even though I totally LOVE the look, a bit more than we were looking to bite off at the moment.

Basement Inspiration

Par for the course, the first stop was hitting up Home Depot for some lumber and supplies. We settled on the 4th one over, which was $1.26 per linear foot. After looking around the aisle, we found this one to be the closest to our desired dimensions, and the hubby thought it would be pretty easy to work with.

Lumber for Wainscoting Stairs

Here is the before shot, for your reference, ugly – I’m telling ya!

Basement Entry: Before

Initially I wanted to have the molding follow the line of the stairs, but after realizing that there was actually two different walls, with a seam where the trim was – we realized that there would be a really visible bump on the wall, so we opted to maintain the current division.

Here is how the finished product looks close up, pretty swanky, right?!

Wainscoting Trim Stairway

I got to say, I’m pretty pleased with how the project came out, and overall, I found it to be a pretty manageable process. It took us about 3-days, of work, mainly because we estimated wrong on wood quantities (hence additional trips to the Depot), and the white took a few coats before the faux finish green stopped peaking through. This is how the stairway looks from the bottom of the steps. The carpet is in dire need of some attention. Someday I would love to put in a runner like the inspiration picture above from pinterest.

Wainscoting Stairs

The project cost $122.60, which included a gallon of paint and lots of 2 1/2 by quarter inch wood 🙂 Our supplies list can be referenced below:

  • Paint Color Benjamin Moore, Simply White (Colored matched in Behr Premium Plus)
  • 60 square feet of wood @ $1.46 per sq ft. (this will vary, depending on your staircase dimensions)
  • Wood glue
  • Caulk
  • Nails

As far as tools, a miter saw is a definite must for this project (we have this one), to cut all the angles. Other than that – just grab your hammer and your ready to go! Hammer time – da na na na.

We started out by laying the bottom piece of wood, closest to the existing base trim that was already there. Some of the wood got a bit messed up when we were taking out the trim from before – so this piece helped cover some of those imperfections, and provided more detail along the edge. Then after playing around with different dimensions, we decided to arrange the grid with 18″ spacing across, which created about (5) vertical rows and (4) horizontal rows. From there, we just got to cutting! Our vertical pieces are one long piece, and the horizontal pieces were fit in.

Stair Wainscoting Trim

A few notes on how to get the best results:

  • In addition to nailing your piece down on the wall – you may want to glue it somehow onto the wall as well. Since there were not beams the entire way across, we noticed some buckling, which was fixed with some wood glue.
  • Caulk after your done – makes a world of difference! You may want to paint over the caulk as well – as sometimes it has a yellowish hue to it
  • We decided to roll the square part – since it gave a more even coat
  • Oh – and cut once – measure twice 😉 It may help you avoid said extra trips to the home improvement store 🙂

While we were at it, we also painted the side doors to the bathroom and laundry area and add some oil rubbed bronze hardware to update the corner.

Side Basement Doors

Man – I seriously wish I had some before pictures of this area. The doors were green, with gold hardware, you can kind of see them peaking through on the before picture of the basement below.

Basement – Before

Now we just need a nice runner for the steps, updated lighting and some art work to get this space done!

Let’s Talk Doors

There were many lovely things about our home that we were head over heals about when we bought it. There were also – shall we say – some taste specific items that really didn’t jive with our abode vision. Case #1: The Doors. The doors were rather odd. They were original to the house (Score!!) so they are solid wood, and have great detail to them. However, they were all painted off-white (or pink), with a really, really odd, wooden insert in the middle. Not my cup o’ tea.

Door: Before

So, we (and by we, I mean Jay…) schlepped them off to the garage and sanded those suckers down. Once we had them out there, we did notice that they had more blemishes then we originally thought, but we will just chalk that up to character. 🙂 I took a few coats, 2-3 at least per door, but we now have a much more modern version of our doors, which I love!

Detail Shot – White Door Painted Doors

We purchased all new Kwikset hardware for them as well, which really finishes off the look if I do say so myself. At about $14 a pop, this update made a HUGE difference in the way the house looked, with only a bit of cash. Plus we were able to sell the old hardware on craigslist, bringing the total cost per door down to around $5. Woo-to-the-hoo. That’s my kind of home improvement 🙂