So I’m finally getting around to sharing some photos of our new home and our remodel projects with you. I’ve been meaning to do this for a month, but life has been so hectic and crazy lately that I haven’t found time to do it.
If you don’t already know, we recently purchased our “forever home,” and we’re undertaking the massive task of making this new house our new home. We had the entire month of October to stay in a friend’s home while she was out of the country. This gave us a good bit of time to tackle some of the larger remodeling projects on our list, such as moving a wall, painting everything (except the bathrooms and closets) including the kitchen cabinets, and replacing the whole house carpet with hardwood.
Now, before I share photos, can I just say that all this DIY remodeling business isn’t as easy as it looks on HGTV. Holy cow! Every single step of this process has been harder and taken longer than we originally thought! We have run into trouble with each project, but after a month and a half, we are almost finished—with the big projects, at least!
Carpet & Laminate Removal
Okay, so our first project was to pull all the carpet and laminate flooring out of the house. Those things have been there since the house was built in 1998, and they were old and nasty! The boys helped Dean remove all the trim and pull the carpet and padding out, and then we all pulled carpet staples and strips for days!
Moving A Wall
After the carpets were removed, Dean decided to move a wall further back to make our dining room larger while making the laundry room smaller. With six people in the house, I’d rather have more room to sit and eat comfortably in a beautiful space than have lots of room for laundry.
I hate laundry anyway, and I try to do the least amount possible. This means that each kid washes, drys, and puts away their own laundry (except for the littlest guy as I help him with his laundry) so I don’t have to do it. All this means we don’t need a huge laundry room. Not only that, but I’m not planning on folding or sorting laundry in there, nor do I need to store a lot of things in that space.
Below you’ll see a before and after of the wall that was removed and replaced further back.
During this wall project, Dean also tore out the laminate flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms because I wanted all the new hardwood floors to be smooth with no thresholds or raises. Now, my husband sure must love me because this project was a beast, but he did it anyway. The laminate was glued onto a thin sheet of some type of wood which was also glued and nailed down to the subfloor. It took forever to get it out and get the glue ground off the floor in preparation for the new floors! You can see the new floors in the photo above, but I’ll also share a bit more about them below and tell you why they have all those black marks on them.
Painting The Whole House
The first of my remodel projects was to choose paint colors and start painting the walls. Now let me tell you, I was dreading this part. I’m a very neutral person, at least when it comes to my taste in home and car colors—not so much with my clothes though, but that’s a whole other topic. Our house on the mountain had white walls and dark trim which fit its rustic mountain cottage vibe, and I’ve always owned cars that are either black or white. I’m not sure why that is. I think those just feel like safe colors to me and since painting a whole house and buying a car are such big things, I guess I just tend to go the safest route. I don’t really know. Psychoanalyze me if you wish. Just tell me what you find out. I do enjoy getting to know myself better, quirks and all.
Anyway, I wanted this house to have an old-world European cottage vibe, and while some of those houses are neutral in color, many of them have a lot of color inside. Someone once told me that in old-world Europe, having color on your walls (or wallpaper) was a sign of wealth. I’m not sure how true that is, but I did know I wanted this house to feel a bit warmer, color-wise, than our last house, so we were going to put some color on our walls.
I chose to go with Valspar paint from Lowe’s. Valspar now has a super low to no-VOC paint, but because I needed something that had some stain resistance (hello, four boys and animals!), I went with the low-VOC option. The paint smell was not that bad, and it only lasted for the three hours or so that it took the paint to dry.
I first decided to paint the majority of the walls a cream color and to paint all the doors, trim, and wainscoting white. This was a huge mistake, the wainscoting, that is. It looked awful! So, I decided to be a bit more daring and went back to Lowe’s to purchase some actual color. Some rooms would have blue-colored wainscoting and other rooms would have green-colored. The idea was to go with an analogous color scheme with blues, greens, and yellows throughout the house. So I found a blue and green color online that paired well nicely with each other and sent Dean to purchase it. I then proceeded to paint it in all the appropriate places throughout the house. Again, it was awful. Our old-world European style cottage looked more like a beach cottage!
As you can see, this was no good. This time, I enlisted the help of a friend who found an English country cottage color palette with blues and greens online. I then took that to Lowe’s myself and matched paint colors up to that. Finally, the wainscotting looked like a European cottage! I also decided to paint the kitchen and dining room with this golden yellow color so the white cabinets would stand out a bit more. You can see this color on the walls in some of the photos throughout this post.
Installing Hardwood Floors
After the walls and ceilings were painted and the new wall was in place, Dean started putting flooring down with his dad. We bought some engineered hardwood flooring that hadn’t been finished on the cheap from a flooring company that went out of business in South Carolina for .23 cents a square foot! It was such a good deal we couldn’t pass it up. I mean, we have a lot of floor space to cover in this house and a lot of projects on our list, so we were all about saving money where we could. We ended up buying 5 palettes of it. This will give us quite a bit of leftover wood, which I’ll use when we convert the garage into my new office space and when we build my she-shed. Well, not really a she-shed. It’s more of a tiny house/she-shed combo. LOL!
Because the wood isn’t fully finished, it has these black paint stains on them. This paint is used to seal cracks and knots in the wood to keep them from cracking worse or the knot falling out. It also keeps any resins from leaking through as well. It looks a bit scary, but it easily sands off. In fact, you’d never know it was there to begin with after finishing the wood! We tested it before flooring the whole house just to make sure!
Anyway, we thought putting the flooring down would be quick and easy, but like most of the other projects we’ve undertaken during this remodel, it wasn’t that easy. There were so many cuts to make and doorways to navigate around that it slowed the process way down. Once the floors are finally down (we are finishing them tonight!), we will sand them, stain them a dark-colored walnut stain, and seal them.
We’re not sure what type of sealer we’re going to use. A standard polyurethane will last the longest and be the most water-resistant, but it also takes longer to dry. Not to mention, it stinks to high heaven! We’re looking into some low-VOC water-based sealers. They’re considerably more expensive, but they dry quicker and are supposed to be more scratch resistant. We’ve found some good options. We just have to make a decision as we get closer to that step.
Once I finally had the wall color where I wanted it, I moved on to the cabinets. As the chief decorator on this home remodel project, I decided to take our custom maple cabinets and paint them white. Again, my husband thought I was crazy to paint over these beautiful cabinets that had nothing wrong with them, but alas, I like white cabinets so that’s what we went with.
To save time not having to sand the old finish off, we decided to use Rustoleum’s Cabinet Transformations. Basically, you do a simple deglossing of the cabinets with some liquid chemical, although this isn’t as toxic as the hard-core stripping chemicals that are sometimes needed to remove the finish off of wood. This deglossing preps the cabinets for painting, glazing if you choose, and sealing with a protective coating. We read a lot of blog posts from DIY bloggers who raved about the ease of this product and how great it worked. So we went for it.
While using Cabinet Transformation was probably easier than sanding or stripping and then painting and sealing, this project took FOREVER! In fact, I’m still finishing up the last of the cabinets. Maybe it was due to the fact that we had a lot of cabinets to do. Maybe it was because we ended up having to do more than the suggested two coats of paint (it took almost four complete coats to thoroughly cover the wood!) on all the cabinets. Maybe it was because of the wait times between each step. Who knows. All I know is that after 5 kits of this stuff, I sure hope it holds up as far as stain and scratch resistance! We’ve already got some scratches on it, but it hasn’t fully cured yet. Plus, I have enough leftover paint and protective topcoat to do little touch-ups here and there, so that’s a relief.
At this point, we are 6 weeks into our remodel, and we’re almost finished. I have a handful of cabinet shelves to paint, and we have the flooring to finish. We also have our new appliances to order, light switch and light socket covers to replace, and a few more lights to install in rooms, but we’re getting there. And yes, we have had some “disagreements” along the way, but Dean and I still love each other. LOL!
We had to move out of our October Home at the beginning of November, so we’re sleeping here in the new house until we’re ready to finish the floors. At that point, we’ll move out and into a friend’s Airbnb rental for a week, finish the floors, and then move into the house for real. As in, unpack the boxes, bring in the furniture, and hang the photos on the walls, move in. I’m so ready!
Yes, we definitely have some big projects planned like bathroom remodels, installing a wood stove in the living room, and creating an entertaining area on the outdoor patio, but those things will come after these initial projects are complete. Wish us luck!
Love and light,