I mentioned in previous posts that behind the weird fiberboard was “shiplap“.  I’ve read a lot about shiplap and I wanted to clarify.  What’s on our walls is tongue and groove siding.  It’s very similar to shiplap but it’s not official shiplap…installed, it’s very hard to tell the difference.  Tongue and groove interlocks a bit more which helps keeps the elements at bay.  Shiplap is cheaper however so if you’re just going for the look then that’s what you’ll want to go with of course.

I had a few people ask me “If Joanna hadn’t made that popular would you have felt like you had to drywall over it?”


I’ve thought pretty hard about that question and I think the answer is that I hope not?  I hope I would know my own likes and dislikes enough to know I would have liked it enough to leave it.  Honestly I probably would have wanted to keep it from a budget perspective alone!  I sure am glad she made it popular though so we wouldn’t have to make a choice on whether or not to drywall!


Due to the age of ours the gaps can really vary in places which I think makes the house look older and more primitive and it really doesn’t bother me.  I think once all the art and modern furniture is added in it’s going to be a nice juxtaposition.

Our siding wasn’t in perfect condition and we knew there was no insulation in the walls so we feared it would be a VERY cold winter or hot hot summer for a renter.  We had insulation blown in the walls by popping off the top board on all exterior walls.  If you were building a house this wouldn’t the best bet because vapor is going to cause the insulation to get damp and sink eventually but we had to do what we had to do to be cost effective at this point.

The ceiling in the master was actually in such poor condition that we decided to just redo the whole thing in new tongue and groove and we’re leaving it natural!

One of the most difficult parts of this house was that everything was covered in soot from what we guess was an old stove and fireplaces.  For a couple months every time we left the house we were covered in soot too.  I never realized what it takes to cover that stuff up! Let me save you the trouble of ever making the wrong choice….the only option is a shellac based primer.  It smells like Burnetts vodka and you absolutely have to wear a mask to be around it (seriously it makes your eyes burn)…but it covers in one coat which is just what you want!

The final paint color I picked out was China White by Benjamin Moore.  I had seen the below suggested white colors list and researched about each one, bought 3 test pots of my favorite three and ended up at the creamy, gray undertoned China White!

Can you BELIEVE some paint took things from this:

to this?!?

I’ll see you Wednesday friends with a fun little fireplace makeover anyone can do! 🙂

Got Chip and Jo on your brain now? Here’s a buzzfeed quiz to see which one you’re most like!


Demo Day…Days..Weeks….Monthsss

For weeks before this day I had closed my eyes each night anticipating ripping this house apart.  As per usual, things were more simple in my mind.  We closed on the house, picked up fast food (I don’t know WHY we thought we could eat there).  Anyways, I walked straight into the house and took a hammer straight to the “drywall”.  SURPRISE…it wasn’t drywall…it was basically cardboard.  A thin fiber board that was barely nailed to the wall.

The good news was it wasn’t crumbling plaster behind it (worst case scenario) but it was “shiplap” …it wasn’t HGTV pretty (and it’s actually tongue and groove…more on that some other time) but it would do and the price tag on creating that character from scratch would have been out of our budget.  We were thrilled to have found it on every.single.wall and ceiling.  The bad news was that it a) had some intense gaps in places and b) was covered in soot from the old stoves/fireplaces.

Probably the most rewarding part of demo was to look above the drop ceiling in the bedroom!

We took out nearly every wall covering, carpet, layers of linoleum flooring…it just kept going and going and going and going!

This is essentially what was left in the 4 rooms when we finished demo.

We severely underestimated the size of dumpster we would need.  If you ever reno a house, just get the biggest dumpster they will bring you…trust me, you’ll fill it.  We also found some issues that the inspector failed to identify in the inspection which was very frustrating…was it things that would have kept us from buying the house?  Probably not.  Was it stuff that would have been great to know on the front end? Obviously.  A foundation issue (isn’t there always one??) put us about 3 weeks behind schedule as we just stared at a giant hole in the floor wondering who we would pay to fix it.  Below is a picture after we took out all flooring…a rotten floor joist was here where the washing machine used to sit.

This hole really did sit here like this for at least two weeks….

We can’t say enough positive things about Cantey Foundation Specialists!!! Reasonably priced and they treated us like we were their #1 customer even though it’s likely we were their smallest.

The demo honestly seemed to go on forever as we took out walls, parts of walls, and kept deciding to expose more and more tongue and groove siding.  On the exterior we were paying a neighborhood guy $15/hour to clear the brush…that alone about put me in the grave as we started straight out the gate REALLY over budget on weed clearing (if you’ll remember, I personally didn’t think it was an eyesore….which is laughable).

During that first week we had to get a roof put on (we of course knew and planned for this) and they suggested taking out the chimney all together because the fire places had been cemented in and would never be used. We also have great things to say about Consumer First Roofing Company…we got several quotes and they were by far the NICEST and also most reasonable.

This demo hit everything….truly nothing was safe.  Next post I’ll show you a couple of ways we rearranged the layout to be more functional!

Like I mentioned in the last post our sweet Finley died 3 days into this project and things just felt so dark for a while…   He wasn’t new to the demo and renovation world, often keeping us company through various projects.   I resented this project for having me so distracted during the month leading up to his death that I felt like I didn’t play with him or talk to him enough.   I know in my heart that dogs don’t keep score like that but Blake and I both felt an enormous guilt for the way Fin had taken a back seat often to our kids and our projects…

This before and after of these same walls feels like a pretty accurate depiction of the transformation the house and our hearts went through together! 🙂

Demo is messy for sure and it’s easy to get carried away! When it comes time to actually pull out tiny little carpet staples and nails you realize just how big 850 sq feet is! Besides the obvious of gloves, glasses, and hammers, our favorite tools for demo are:

3M respirators






This saw






This nail puller

The BEFORE before…

As you know if you read our last post or follow us on Instagram we have been renovating a little house to use as a rental.  The original game plan is to do very short term rental like AirBNB but we’ll have to see how it plays out and shift to long term if we need to.  We’re actually about to round 3rd on the whole project so this is quite overdue but I’ve got to start somewhere, and sometime 🙂

The MORNING this house went on the market I called our agent and asked if we could schedule a showing.  We went to see it during lunch time and were quite surprised to find what was a revolving door of potential buyers already at the property when we pulled up.  I (Katie) look at a house with my heart….I could probably do it blindfolded.  Blake looks at a house with his brain only.  My Dad also joined us as my parents are investing with us and I like to think he falls in between head and heart when it comes to assessing real estate.

There were no pictures associated with the listing so we were prepared for the worst.  When we pulled up to the house this is what we saw.

The house sat between two other houses (one of which is abandoned) and the other which is occupied by a very sweet lady.  Across the street is a new Catholic school.  The abandoned house on the left was torn down the day we went under contract and is now a nice grassy lot.

Upon entering the house we walked straight into this:

All my heart could see was the height of the ceilings!! At the time we thought that was just wallpaper on drywall we would steam off.  It turned out NOT to be drywall but more on that later…

So to me, the living room was doable.  Walking around the house you would go into the kitchen.  At the time of the showing we didn’t know there was a window that had been boarded up behind the massive china cabinet.

My initial thought for the kitchen was that we would just have to put an IKEA kitchen in (that’s not what we did).  The ceilings are low in the back of the house but it’s just the way the roof line goes and I was ok with that.  We definitely HAD to replace the back door to let more light in!

At the time the washing machine was also in the kitchen and we ended up moving it to the laundry room.  From the kitchen you walked into a small back bedroom and on the left there was a bathroom.  I’m going to do a post on the initial floor plan and what we reworked…because previously a renter would have had to walk into the second bedroom to get to the only bathroom.

The bathroom needed A LOT of work.  It’s tiny but the wallpaper and black curtains weren’t helping anything!

The laundry is off the second bedroom and this room was already small but we actually made it SMALLER.

From that bedroom, if you’re walking around in a circle in the house you would enter the first bedroom.  It had a fireplace (which was covered up) so we’ve deemed it the “master”.

The drop ceiling intrigued us because we knew these ceilings should be just as tall as the living room ceilings.  We peeked above them during the showing and saw MORE tiled ceiling above but that’s all we looked at during the tour. Also, all the floor except for the kitchen and bath were carpeted.

I think we were all overwhelmed for different reasons.

  • Me-I was overwhelmed at the other potential buyers swarming the place trying to buy MY house.
  • Blake-He was overwhelmed at the amount of work this old house would need.
  • Dad-Probably overwhelmed at what the heck we were thinking.

The outside was terribly overgrown:

It’s funny…because I saw a lush green garden and my Dad and Blake saw a JUNGLE that would need to be tamed.

I obviously tour houses with rose colored glasses and blinders on.

So the story goes, we closed on the house and started work on September 22nd.  It was a day of the highest highs (we found great bones in the house!) and the lowest lows (that same day we discovered our sweet Finley boy had cancer…he died 3 days later).  We spent a week demoing the project and shedding tears into the mess over our dog.  We’re coming up on 3 months and I’m happy to say the house looks NOTHING like these pictures and our spirits are higher for sure.

Next post I’ll share about demo and finding our new footprint!

New roof line

If you’ve been around here for long you know we’ve been chasing a water leak for the better part of two years.  Two leaks actually (but the same kind), one in the kitchen and one in the guest room.  The one in the kitchen seemed to have tapered off but the one in the guest room only got worse.  As we’re turning the guest room into a room for one of our girls (and eventually both) we had to officially repair the ceiling and pray we had stopped the leak.  We gave plaster repair the old college try (Lord have mercy).  After one afternoon attempt we threw in the towel for a while which ended up being a blessing.  It allowed it to rain enough for us to see water damage happening to the brand new plaster.  Leak not fixed.  Such a bummer.  We called more people out to look things over and everyone had the same reaction….”we have no idea”.

Well, we had SOME idea.  We knew it had something to do with these two reverse dormers on the back of the house.


Each water damage spot was right below the reverse dormers.  We decided to have the roofing on those redone (we had repaired the window trim as much as we thought was physically possible so didn’t see how any water was seeping in around them).  Blake agreed to do the demo of the project for a little break on the cost of labor.

Upon ripping things apart he quickly realized all the rotten wood underneath the windows.

We had a carpenter friend make a late night house call (angels walk among us) and he told us what he would do if it was his house.  The plan was the same plan Blake and I had tossed around several times but tried not to commit to because it was the most extensive and expensive plan.  We needed to get rid of the reverse dormers and do one solid roof line across the back of the house.

new roof line

This would require taking out perfectly good windows and replacing them with windows that were a bit shorter…like the one on our bathroom (back middle of the house). We still have double full size windows on the sides of the rooms so I don’t feel like we are losing that valuable of window real estate.  This just means we can have more flexibility about furniture on that wall in those rooms!

This project now is going to include a little more demo, redoing siding, resetting windows, taking out and putting back in drywall on the inside, and roofing the newly framed out joists.  It’s just pretty much NOT what my very nesty self wants to be getting into at 33 weeks pregnant.  And I talk like I’M getting into it.  It’s really the husband who is taking the brunt of this redo… But hey, we had central air installed the week before Everly was born so I won’t act like it’s out of the norm for us:)

On the eve of project-stop-the-leaks-2016 here is where we are:


Can’t wait to share the rest of this process once we get it all put back together! For some peeks along the way be sure to follow us on instagram and facebook! Oh and I’ve dropped this tip before here but it’s worth mentioning again, if you’re local, Ken’s Inc. on Wade Hampton is a supply haven! We got the exact windows we were needing for about $100 less than what the big box store was going to charge us (a piece!!).


Dear Renovation, SIT DOWN.

I mean…..this is taking forever. And twelve days.

Just when we think we have like two more things to do probably 50 more things appear. Really. It’s a problem. But we are in the “final stages”. I consider the final stages to bit a pit of hell. You’re tired of working on the same project mentally, physically, emotionally….but yet you are so close and you can see the tunnel that every day you just crawl back to it on your hands and knees begging for mercy that your one last door frame will fit and that this last square inch of skin on your hands will not blister over.

The good news is that I can just imagine the room around me. I am totally like those blindfolded people you see on febreze commercials who are sitting in a room full of garbage saying “mmmmmmm it smells like fresh flowers and laundy…a little bit of lilac…whispy white curtains”.


Yes. That is exactly me during a renovation.

Blake on the other hand. No. not even in the slightest is he capable of imagining himself out of the sawdust nightmare. So I do hope, mostly for his sake, that this comes to a close sooner rather than later.

Things are looking good though. We have successfully connected three rooms together to make a master suite. We have one sliding barn type door, one wall mounted tv, one electric fireplace, and spent 3 hours staining wood for the room. Sounds like a magical palace doesn’t it? I know….these things hardly seem like they belong together but BEHOLD this sneak peak!


Yeah those sconces….$4 at Habitat baby.

For perspective…the wall which you see there is the wall torn down to studs in this picture:


Now that I have given you that sneak peak I will return to the pits of hell and continue wiping 4 inches of dust off of everything, caulking and painting 75 pieces of door frame, crown, dusting, baseboard, thresholds, hanging curtains, dusting, boiling more door knobs, attaching random hardware, dusting.

Folks, we are almost ready to move in!

Upstairs Bathroom Renovation/Addition Part 2:

Electrical problem from yesterday has been resolved thank goodness! Our Christmas guests would have been getting the candle light experience if not.

We wanted to share the rest of our bathroom renovation story (condensed version). There are so many things that will probably end up getting their own post eventually but here is the quick and dirty.

We put the flooring down as soon as the drywall was complete because we wanted the toilet and vanity to sit on top of tile as opposed to putting the tile down around it. I also chose to lay these on a diagonal. I don’t know if that’s a thing or not but for some reason I had it in my head that oversized tile laid on a diagonal can make a small space look bigger? Sometimes I make rules up. We chose to use stick on linoleum tiles. That might make a few of you cringe but trust me when I say every person who has walked in the bathroom has actually bent over to touch them when we tell them. The reasons for us were a) it’s cost effective b)they are warmer c) super easy install We purchased the oversized version for about $2 a tile. All you do is prime the floor and stick them down and they can be cut easily with a utility knife.

Note: For the best results go through your pack and make piles of the different patterns. Not all tiles are the same. We used about 45 tiles so I had probably 5 stacks of the different patterns. We put all of these down without the sticking backing off so we could make sure the “grain” flowed across the floor. We also chose to put spacers in between the tiles and use white grout to give it a better look. Once we finished and let the grout dry for a solid couple of days we put carpenter paper over everything for the remainder of the project just to protect.

Next up was paint. I’ll eventually do a post on all the times I’ve messed up a paint color. It happens and it’s not fun but I believe it’s better to just get it right than to live with something that grates your nerves. I blame this screw up on the end of daylight savings time. I hadn’t seen the inside of my house in daylight in weeks due to work so I had no choice but to paint at night. Painting at night in a bathroom that is not yet wired for lighting (so I’m relying on the hallway light) equals me painting a room baby pink while thinking it’s this nice neutral tan color. Yikes. I redid everything the next day and we settled on a color called “secret passage” by Valspar. We LOVE it. If you are looking for a gray with blue undertones this comes highly recommended by us.


The final step in our process was trim. We invited the carpenter back over for a lesson in trim work. This guy is amazing when it comes to figuring out what to do with awkward spots. The trim really made everything feel real. This was the first night that Blake and I really just stared in awe at this bathroom we had essentially put together with our bare hands. I was a proud mama.

Here is our shower–this thing made me NERVOUS before it went in. This bathroom was on the second floor and had to come through a small door frame to even get up the stairs so we had no choice but to go with the 5 piece tub surround. We weren’t about to break out a window and hire a crane to drop in a 1 piece and I’m saving my tile work for the master bath!

This pocket door was actually an original door from the house that Blake hung and added hardware too. We will post about how he filled the old door knob hole and added new hardware when we do the post on pocket doors.

I had to do a little convincing to get this light fixture in. It’s the first thing you see when you come up the stairs and see the bathroom so obviously we need to put our best foot forward right? right. And obviously that means we are going to use a vintage thomas edison i’m not sure the real name cool lightbulb right? right. aka the most inefficient lightbulb around. sigh. At $8 a bulb Blake was not sold on the practicality of this. I reminded him how cost effective I had been picking out all other items. ladies and gentlemen I know when to pick a battle and when it comes to lighting I choose beauty over practicality always. fact of life=LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO WALK AROUND IN BAD LIGHTING. other fact of life= life is DEFINITELY too short to walk around NAKED (this is a bathroom!) in bad lighting. can I get an amen from all the ladies? AMEN.

This is a view from the vanity looking through the pocket door into the shower/toilet area.

Note about myself: I will merchandise a brick wall. Seriously it’s an addiction. I’ll post more later about how I organize/set up everything I own like it’s in a store.

Another personal touch is the quilt rack we use to hold guest towels. This was my grandmothers and I love that it’s being used in our home.
Adding artwork to a bathroom is a must for me. It always seems to be the forgotten room when it comes to art. We chose to hang this print from our wedding that’s done in sepia tones because it tied in nicely with some of the brown.

It’s hard to believe looking back but the vanity mirrors are the first thing that was purchased for the bathroom. It’s hard to tell from this photo but they are sort of like that old barn wood you see? They have this gray brown tint wooden frame. They really directed the entire design scheme. We picked those up at Marshall’s home goods for about $18 a pop! Then we found the sconces on the lowes website for a whopping $11 each. They are seriously my favorite thing about the room.

And don’t mind that shaky looking ground in this panoramic shot below…that’s just us trying to figure out how to use that feature on the iphone. We promise our floor isn’t THAT uneven.


Seeing the design and the visions in our minds come together has been extremely rewarding. It definitely gives momentum to keep going!

Upstairs Bathroom Renovation/Addition Part 1:

When we moved into our new house the upstairs was actually missing a bathroom. (yes, it is okay to judge our sanity after that first sentence…we did) Walls were there from what used to be but someone had started the demolition and never finished. We set in right away trying to put this part of the house back together. In addition to tearing out everything that was there the previous owners had started building what looked like a spot for a stall shower or a closet…we will never know.

Here are some before pictures of what we moved into:


Blake and a carpenter spent a day just tearing the floor up and finishing the demo. Lots of hardwood and linoleum came up and some of the old drywall came down. We also made the decision to add a pocket door between the sink area and the toilet/tub area. We will probably end up doing a post just on how to hang a pocket door because pocket doors seriously come with the worst set of instructions I’ve ever seen in my life. It’s like a picture book for a 3 year old. No words…only drawings by someone who, if I had to bet my house on it, probably isn’t an artist.


After adding rolls of insulation between the studs we started putting up drywall. Neither of us had ever put up drywall before. Want to test your marriage? Hang drywall after working all day.



Next came the mudding which Blake tackled on his own. (Note to ourselves if we do this again: lay it on THICK. It’s better to sand off extra then to wipe 3+ times.)



Then we sanded. We pretty much prepared for a zombie apocalypse before doing this. We LOVE our 3M respirator masks and are so glad we invested in them! We hung plastic all around the outside of the bathroom so dust would stay as contained as possible. Next we rigged up our shop vac to blow out the window. MAJOR NOTE: unless you have a fine particle filter for your shop vac (they don’t come ready with those) it will not catch drywall dust. You will turn around and see a giant white cloud which if it gets into your air system let’s just say you will get a white Christmas early. So…. This is how we prepared for drywall dust battle 2012.


The feeling of seeing actual walls is the best feeling in the world after all you’ve seen for what feels like eternity is studs. The shape of the bathroom really starts to come together. Blake says this is that turning point in renovation for him. Not I…my turning point is paint. Next we primed the walls in “new wall primer”. That stuff is about $12 a gallon and spreads reallyyy well so that’s all we needed and we even had probably a third of the can leftover. Super. We can add that to the paint store I seriously could run out of the basement.

Capture before and after

We’ll be back later with Part 2 which covers the floor, paint, trim, and the final product!