EXTERIOR UPDATES

With the arrival of Spring, we’ve taken a little bit of time to update the exterior of our house with just a few easy and inexpensive fixes. PS…those are my favorite kind of fixes. That’s the beauty of so many DIY projects – leftover materials!

When we bought our house almost a year ago (boy, that went fast!) it looked like this…

Exterior updatesShe’ always been a cutie, and I knew there was even more potential there, but there was a bit left to be desired, to say the least. Things felt a little dark and dingy and we finally got around to paying attention to the outside with some much needed exterior updates. The planning of the Birthday Carnival, and knowing we’d have a yard full of party goers, was just motivation we needed to get to work.

Here’s how she’s looking right now…

exterior updates

So, here’s a quick rundown of what we’ve done so far…

Quickly after we moved in, we removed the storm door on the front of the house. It was old and it bad shape and I knew it wouldn’t be put to use so off it came in order to expose the existing door. Looking through my photo archives, I don’t even have a close up shot of the screen door, an indication of just how quickly it came down.

exterior updates

We replaced the old light with a spare we had from our old house (although that one will be swapped out eventually too), hit everything with the power washer, and gave the door and surround a much needed coat of paint. Those little changes had everything looking immediately better and the contrast with the black door gives the front of the house a little extra oomph that I think makes a huge difference.

The stone door surround, something I originally hated, is now one of my favorite parts of the entry. Go figure.

The front step is abnormally high (I’m always reminding guests to watch their step in fear of a broken ankle…) so we have plans to add a front stoop eventually, but for now, it’s a huge improvement.

We also started tackling the side porch. Here’s what it looked like before we moved in…

exterior updates

And here’s how it’s looking right now…

exterior updates

Better, right? So far we have trimmed back the Roses of Sharon along the side of the house, painted the formerly red railings white, added a couple of hanging ferns and a few strands of lights along the ceiling and now things are feeling much more fresh and clean.

I’d love to DIY a long, skinny picnic table and a pair of benches for some outdoor dining at  some point and also give the concrete slab a new finish once this humidity dies down. So there’s still a bit more to be done over there.

Another little change that made a HUGE difference was ripping out the old and broken walkway and replacing it with stepping stones that matched the original pathway leading to the front door.

exterior updates

In this before shot from when we replaced the old, wonky mailbox, you can see the sad shape of the front pathway leading to the side porch. We always loved the little stones leading to the front door, and when I found stones that matched almost perfectly, we knew what we had to do.

exterior updates

Now, the front of the house has double the charm and looks much more neat and tidy overall and, let me tell you, I’m diggin’ it.

The final and possibly biggest change we’ve made to the exterior so far would be giving all of the outdoor plants and trees a big ol’ haircut.

We pruned all the dead branches off of the massive pine trees, ripped out all of the old, dead bushes along the front elevation (which had clearly never been maintained), and edged a crisp line along the house to freshen things up. I’m not sure that we’ll tackle any major planting this year but hopefully by this time next year, we’ll have some updated landscaping to come home to.

exterior updates

It has been so rewarding to spruce up the exterior so far and with just a little elbow grease, things are looking a whole lot better around here.

Has the warm weather had you making any exterior updates around your house lately?

A CARNIVAL THEMED BIRTHDAY PARTY

I know things have been pretty quiet around here lately, and for that, I apologize. I’ve taken on a few more responsibilities over that last few weeks and unfortunately haven’t had the time to do a whole lot around the house let alone write about it. However, I finally have a day off to share a little bit of what has been going on around here, specifically about a carnival themed birthday party that we threw for our boy!

I threw together a quick flyer/invitation in Photoshop, slipped it in some mailboxes around the neighborhood and got this party started.

a carnival themed birthday party

I’ll be the first to admit that I tend to go a little overboard when it comes to birthday parties but sometimes I just can’t help myself. Sorry, not sorry. Remember our robot party last year?

This year, the little big man and I (is it just me or does 8 officially sound like big kid status?!) decided to capitalize on his love of running stations and organization and plan a front yard carnival for the whole neighborhood.

a carnival themed birthday party

The whole party was thrown together with dollar store purchases and crafts made with objects from around the house. Cheap, easy and fun. It was fun, relaxed, and ended up being the perfect party for a pretty perfect boy.

A carnival themed birthday party

We set up a few simple stations labeled with poster board signs for party guests to visit and “prizes” as party favors to hand out at the end of the day. I found these adorable paper popcorn bags at Sam’s club (500 for under $7…say what!?) that I used for the favor bags, a cute little play on the carnival theme.

a carnival themed birthday party

We used some plywood scraps we had leftover from old projects to build a couple simple party games like this Balloon Darts board and the Ping Pong Toss game…

a carnival themed birthday party

You may have noticed that I hinted at this one on Instagram a couple of weeks ago. I simply super glued a bunch of red solo cups on a scrap piece of plywood that I painted. Piece of cake…and it was a hit.

We peppered in a few other yard games for everyone to play and handed out tickets for each station just for fun. Our neighbor, who also happens to be a pretty accomplished juggler (who knew!?), even offered to step things up a notch with a little juggling performance.

I realized I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of the food table once it was all set up (that always seems to happen) but we set up the side porch with food and drinks serving mostly sweets and treats…it was a carnival after all ;)

a carnival themed birthday party

Complete with little tubs of cotton candy for everyone that I found at Sam’s…

a carnival themed birthday party

Overall, it was a blast and according to the birthday boy, our best party yet. We were blessed with a gorgeous day (thank goodness, because this girl didn’t have a plan B), tons of fun, and a day full of family and friends. Does it get any better than that? Best of all, we got to celebrate 8 years with the coolest, smartest, funniest kid around.

Have you thrown any fun themed parties lately?

I’ll be back tomorrow with a few exterior updates we’ve made so far.

 

$1,000 LIVING ROOM MAKEOVER: MEET THE CLIENT

Over the next few weeks, I’ll be working with one of our good friends on a $1,000 living room makeover. He’s a newly single dad of 3 awesome kiddos looking for a fresh start and new perspective in his home and a brand spankin’ new living room is just what he needs to get the ball rolling.

$1,000 can be a tight budget for an entire living room update but I plan to tackle this budget makeover with a little repurposing, a little thrifting, and a whole lot of DIY. I’ll be using existing items combined with some fresh new accessories and accent pieces to create a space that feels fresh and new and better reflects the style of our client and friend.

Here’s what we’re working with:

$1,000 Living Room Makeover

$1,000 Living room makeover

It’s a nice big room with good bones and super high ceilings and with just a little updating, it’ll be a great new space for this young family.

One of the main issues here is the wall-to-wall carpeting. He’s not ready to install new flooring just yet so my plan for this living room design is to embrace the blue while drawing the attention elsewhere. So, that being said, here are our main objectives for this living room makeover:

  1. Create a fresh new space for a fresh new start
  2. Work with, not against, the high ceilings: Create a focal point on fireplace wall
  3. Embrace the blue: keep main elements simple and neutral
  4. Bring in color and fun with art & accessories
  5. Reconfigure seating for better use of the space
  6. De-clutter & organize – additional storage for toys & games

I’m still working to piece together some additional furniture pieces and accessories but here’s a look at some possible plans to breath new life into this living room:

$1000 Living Room Makeover

These certainly aren’t final or definite plans but its a good example of how we’re going to neutralize the space, embrace the carpeting, and bring in color and life through other, smaller elements.

A fresh coat of paint will be going up on the walls and ceiling soon and I’ve been busy piecing together supplemental furniture, vibrant artwork, and fun and colorful accessories that will bring new life and a fresh perspective to this family’s living room. I plan on adding some sort of accent detail above the fireplace to really create a focal point on this wall that embraces the ceiling height and creates a better balance of scale in the room.

I couldn’t be more excited to help create a fresh new space for this awesome family! Follow along over the next few weeks to see how this space turns out.

Have a great Tuesday, folks!

 

PAINTING THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR TILES: PART II

Life has gotten in the way over the past couple of weeks, but I was finally able to finish painting the living room floor tiles for our temporary flooring fix. If you remember in my last post, I started painting the first side of the asbestos tile we uncovered beneath the old carpeting. Since then, I finished painting the floor tiles and applied a coat of water based polyurethane.

Painting the living room floor tiles

Truthfully, I’m not thrilled with how the polyurethane turned out. I decided to use a water-based polyurethane to avoid the harsh fumes of an oil-based product, but found that since most are geared towards wood flooring and other wood finishes, it didn’t work as well as I had hoped on the black paint. The finish turned out pretty cloudy and splotchy in some spots, which probably wouldn’t have been noticeable on a lighter paint color, but was definitely evident on this black floor.

Painting the living room floor tiles

There is something to be said about embracing imperfection, though. If this wasn’t just a temporary flooring fix, I would have been more anxious to resolve the issue but, even though the perfectionist in me died a little bit, I decided not to waste my time, money, and energy on re-doing the floors.

PAINTING THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR TILES

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had moments of weakness where I wanted to pull all of the furniture back out of the room and repaint, but the more rational side of me knew it wasn’t worth is. For now, I’m just embracing accidental imperfection and telling myself it looks more natural this way ;)

PAINTING THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR TILES

I collected some rugs from around the house and layered them in the living room to not only hide some of the trouble spots in the floor but also warm and cozy it up a bit. Albeit the little poly snafu, I’m really excited about how much better the floor looks already. From old carpeting to holy 50’s asbestos tiles, to freshly painted black floors, I’m digging the transition.

PAINTING THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR TILES

As always, there’s still LOTS to do in here (like finishing trim & molding, finding a large area rug & other long-term furniture and accessories, and, of course, deciding on a permanent flooring option) but it’s pretty crazy how far this room has come. I’m trying to take one step at a time and enjoy this slow yet rewarding renovation progress.

And since you know I’m a sucker for a good before and after, here’s a reminder of just how far this room has come…

PAINTING THE LIVING ROOM FLOOR TILES