Everything but the kitchen sink!

Before n’ After

So remember how I mentioned that I LOVE galley kitchens!? When I said I was determined to somehow recreate all my favorite things about the other house, I seriously meant it. The more and more I thought about how much I HATED the layout of this 60’s kitchen, the more liberal I became with the, “this stays, this goes” orders. In the end, pretty much everything’s gettin’ #booted out but the kitchen sink! Granted, the sink would be gone by now too if we had the money to replace it, but that’s a necessity worth keeping around in the meantime! Some would say we have bitten off more than we can chew, but I say, I’d rather choke on trying to swallow too much at once than sit and pick at my overflowing plate of to-do’s for the next however-many years! My husband, on the other hand, is most likely having second thoughts about our overly ambitious approach by this point!!!  He’s the one doing all the work after all. I’m more like a project manager of sorts (I have a lot of SAY in the goings-on around here, but much less DO). However, being someone who really enjoys manual labor and fixer-upper projects, it’s actually been very hard for me to not contribute more in this area. I spend most of my time feeding, changing, and carrying the baby around, for fear that he might find a rusty tack or get splintered from the thick sawdust blanket that now covers our floor! Sigh. It’s both overwhelming and exhausting. The very minute I start in with the paint brush, like clockwork, the crying begins! (How does he know!?) Half these projects aren’t even safe for him to be present, and the others……. one can only leave their child in a playpen for so long before it’s considered neglectful or just plain cruel! So, whenever I start to feel inconvenienced with this reality, also known as motherhood, I remember what my wise mother recently told me: “the most crucial part of this entire process is making sure Ezekiel still gets #1 priority in our lives; all else is futile!”  I wholeheartedly agree, Mom! Thanks for the encouraging reminder 🙂

Welcome to stage 2!

Task 1: Remove Desk!

First thing that had to go was the desk (below intercom). 1. The office is literally on the other side of the wall… no need to have yet another place to collect clutter! 2. It was shorter than the rest of the cabinets so it couldn’t have really doubled as extra counter space. 3. If you look closely you’ll notice it juts out into the walkway as you first enter the kitchen from the main entry. This made the kitchen seem very cramped, plus it was way too easy to clip your leg on the corner as you walked in. God knows this bruise-prone klutz doesn’t need any more obstacles in her path! Bammm!

See view from main entry below

Judging by the chipped laminate, I’m not the only one who has bumped into the corner of this thing!

Task 2: Remove Hanging Cabinet Above

Once we ripped out the desk, the overhanging cabinet looked out of place. So it had to go too!!! #booted!

the damage…

One thing leads to another of course! Removal reveals: old patches of wallpaper, holes in the wall, gaps in the floor, plus a random piece of mismatched Linoleum. Good thing we’re taking up this flooring!

Another little design tangent: If I was going to break up the floors in my house by using different materials, I would have chosen a color and pattern that does not clash with the surrounding rooms! This beige-y selection by itself isn’t bad, but this PAIRED with the b/w marble from the entryway is doing nothing but making both floors look misplaced! Not to mention that on your left is the dining room with oak floors, so now we have 3 different colors and patterns meeting up at the same doorway. FLUIDITY and CONTINUITY are everything in my book!

Normally I love anything with hearts, but this is the exception  ❤

How-to: If you have really old wallpaper that needs taken down, I found the recommended go-to’s didn’t quite cut it…

DIF Stripper = FAIL 😦      The Paper Tiger = FAIL 😦

QEP Razor Scraper  = LIKE A CHARM 🙂

Another patch to add to our collection of 200+

Rather than sanding all these countless patches by hand, we’ve been using an electric sander and it’s been making things go a whole lot faster (and smoother hehe)! I am soooooo glad we have smooth walls so we don’t have to worry about texturing afterwards either! Not only are smooth walls my fave of all textures, but I find it to be almost impossible to ever produce an exact-exact match with those “texture-in-a-can” products! Kinda like Easy Cheese… It’s nothing like good ol’ Tillamooooook!


For the record…. I’ve NEVER tried it.

Task 3: Remove Hanging “L” Cabinet

The next thing to go was the hanging cabinet obstructing the view of the french doors to patio. 1. It makes the kitchen and family room seem too broken up. (Hey, I wanna be able to watch TV while doing the dishes y’all!) 2. It’s eliminating SO much natural light. I hate the gloomy feeling that comes over me when my house is dark and dingy! I’m one of those people who’s mood is totally affected by light… to the point where I refuse to keep the shades drawn even if it’s 100 degrees outside. I’d rather be hot n’ happy than cool and depressed haha! 3. This by no means goes in a galley kitchen. #booted!

Of all the rooms in the house, the kitchen is the darkest and I’m about to do something about it…..


……..After! #booted

Task 4

Removing the oven and fixing the drawers in dire need of some TLC

(My brother came to help on his only day off from workin’ the farm! Love him and his servant’s heart!)

Before the boys’ “experiment”

My FUTURE plan for above the cooktop was to cut a small window looking into the dining room, again, to recreate one of my favorite features from the other house. Of course, you can’t just pick a spot and start “going for it”! Uhhhhh, tell that to my eager husband and helpful father-in-law! I arrived later in the day to find a GIANT hole in my wall and two pairs of sheepish eyes looking over at me. “Houston, we have a problem!” I was a little upset at first, but that emotion was quickly canceled out by the flattering realization of what they were trying to do for me! The guys discovered two issues (and created a third) when removing the wall: 1. There was plumbing from the upstairs bathroom running directly down the center of the wall! Major downer for me 😦  2. The plumbing didn’t have a proper filler around the opening to the crawlspace, thus providing easy access for rodents to get inside our walls!  I apologize for not having pictures of this slightly humorous yet disappointing event… to avoid providing an open invitation to the unwelcome pests, they had a new piece of drywall back up in no time3.  The hole was at least 2x the size it should’ve been. They took out the surrounding cabinets as per my request (notice cupboards above and to the left of cooktop), but when they decided to go ahead and attempt the “window” project, they forgot about leaving room for the chimney hood! You can’t cook without a vent! So even if there hadn’t been a plumbing issue behind here, they still would’ve had to patch this hole and start over with a much smaller hole 🙂

Problem Solved?

(spot the old piece of punched out drywall sitting in the counter!?)

Although the likelihood of having a window peering into my dining room someday is starting to look bleak, I haven’t given up yet! We are going to have a pro come out and look at it before we patch things up, just to see if we can’t put an elbow or something in to redirected the piping over about two-three feet. It’s a long shot for such a ridiculous non-necessity, but to me it’s worth it!

A hole in the wall to fill the hole in my heart

Baby Boredom

Task 5: Remove the LAYERS of Linoleum

The long-term plan is to have the entire lower level be continuous hardwood floors (minus the marble entry), but we don’t have the $ cha-change $ needed to cover the kitchen and family room quite yet, so until then I would rather live on the subfloor than on this clashing Linoleum. “IT GOES!!!!”


First layer came out in 2 giant pieces the size of this one… and I did it ALL ON MY OWN in about 30 minutes!

The last layer however was a different story………

I was happy if I was able to get a small 10″ piece off at once… most of it was coming up in little bite-size crumbles! Grrrrrrrrr

Random Plywood?

More gaps to fill in the subfloor

QEP Scrapper comes to the rescue again!

My oh my! Without the QEP scraper, this would’ve been a 3 day job at the least! After pulling, peeling and chipping away the old formica, there was still glue and paper-backing stuck to the subfloor. Normally this mess would just get covered up with the new flooring material… NBD! But since we aren’t installing the hardwood quite yet, we can’t get away with leaving the surface looking like this! DIY TIP: This scraper was only like $6 bucks. If you plan to live on your subfloors, I would recommend scraping the glue and paper off with this tool rather than buying the expensive subfloor stripper and all the components needed for applying it! This was super easy, plus there was no requirement to evacuate the house due to toxic chemicals! Thanks for finding this tool for me, Dad! Muuaaah!

Old dog hair… yummmmy

Once I reached the first threshold I discovered a nail, which led to another nail, and another, and another… this job called for a babysitter!

The hard formica-like Linoleum wasn’t coming up till the nails were removed… but these suckers weren’t coming out without the hammer and “crowbar”! Lots of loud metal-on-metal clanging going on here! :0

Ten down, a million to go…

In all seriousness, no exaggeration, there had to have been around 200+ nails.

Same problem in the laundry room off the kitchen! Someone was a little “hammer-happy” when laying this floor! Sheesh!

Swing Set – On a Sunny Day – Sound Asleep

Thank God for Kenzi! What would we all do without her!? Best babysitter ❤

by the wee hours of the night

With all these accomplishments under our belt, I think it’s time to head back to the condo and call it a hard day’s work, don’t you?



First Things First!

Thanks to all my new followers, it’s official, I’m no longer writing to myself anymore and the pressure is on!  Thanks for the support guys, I am thrilled! Now I just need to get you all caught up on our progress!

So first things first!!! I CANNOT stand the idea of living in someone else’s past. Call me high maintenance, prissy, OCD… You don’t know WHAT they did while they were there: how often they cleaned or didn’t clean, animals they may have owned, habits they may have had (nose pickin’ n’ flickin’) … the list goes on! Worst of all, it’s the thought of bodily fluids and human dander that gets me. I’m sorry, it just had to be said. So with that in mind, gag, I am on a mission to rid any trace of the previous occupants and start afresh. Clean slate. {Those two words alone cause me to take a deep breath of rejuvenating air!}

The first 3 things that made it on my to-do’s list

1) Remove the Carpets: A. It’s pink. Guessing they added this lovely mauve addition to the house in the 80’s, maybe early 90’s? B. It’s filthy-trashed. I don’t know what the big black stains are from, but I don’t find them very becoming. C. I don’t like carpet! To think that at the time, carpet coverings were considered more luxurious than hardwood flooring!? I know, such is the ebb and flow of fashion. Things come and go, and what was once hideous is suddenly stylish – BUT – I feel that one of the worst trends to hit the world of home decor was wall-to-wall carpeting. I can understand the desire to decrease noise levels, and I totally see the need for comfort especially now that I have a little one toppling about. I cannot, however, understand choosing to cover beautiful SOLID wood floors with tack strips, staples, nails and glue, rather than just purchasing an oversized nearly-wall-to-wall AREA RUG! This is just my opinion; everything has its pros and cons. I’m not saying that I dislike every house with carpet, that’s not what I’m saying at all! I’m simply comparing carpet to hard floors and stating, if I had a choice, I would choose hardwood over comfy carpet any day. I’m sure there are many who would disagree, and please give your feedback (especially if you are someone who lives on hard floors and wishes you could have some soft cushy carpet under your cold, tired toes!)

First clue that there might be hardwood throughout the house was the runner on the stairs

Water stains… Can’t wait to refinish these!

Love watching my man work ❤

My poor hubby! The hardest part was removing EVERY SINGLE tack strip & staple, then scrapping off gunk n’ glue


This was much heavier than you would think!

There was hardwood throughout the entire 2nd level, but sadly,  just ol’ Linoleum in the bathrooms

Wonder what year this is? I’m thinking it’s original since it has the metallic gold flecks? I was so grossed out by the hairs!

Most confusing part of the day… the family room hardwood had been ripped out and there was nothing but subfloor under this carpet 😦

2) Remove all Moulding: I know this project “technically speaking” should’ve come first since removing the carpet is somewhat contingent upon the baseboards being out, and we would be idiots to do it in this reverse order! But in my head… the unlivable carpet begged to sit at the TOP of this priority list! (Don’t worry, we took the baseboards out PRE-carpet removal!) Anyway… reasons for removing the moulding: A. I was told by my son’s pediatrician that most people are aware of the lead paint used in houses built before 1980, but that many are unaware of its presence in varnish. So apparently, the moulding in this 1960’s house is likely poisoned with lead. I’m not ok with KNOWINGLY exposing my child or anyone else’s child to that!  B. It’s pretty beat up. It would take forever to fill all the gouges, cracks and dings, and painting it would be like putting a giant band-aid over a broken leg!  C. With each turn of the decadebaseboards seem to grow higher and higher, reverting back to their historical roots. But this house is from the 60’s, so we’re talkin’ even shorter than the 90’s stuff! I would actually be fine living with the beat up condition and dark walnut stain for a period of time, in fact I would even prefer it over natural oak. What bothers me the most about the moulding is how thin the baseboards are.  It’s crazy to me that the typical baseboard during the Colonial period was 1″x 12″, and that the shortest was during the Federal era at 6″. What happened!? How did we get down to this cheap  1/4″ x 2″ stuff!? I read on Woodcrafter’s.com that “base moulding should be the most massive in the room to emphasize the strength of the wall…”. So basically these short little strips of wood that claim to be my baseboards are really saying that my house is light and wimpy! I don’t know about you, but I’d like my home to appear sturdy and stately! This is a very well-built home, with finishing touches that cause its quality to be diminished. Finishing touches are KEY! It’s like choosing that perfect filter for your photo before you make it public on Instagram. It will either make it or break it, whether or not the picture was even worthy of posting in the first place!

Short History lesson: Moulding originates clear back to Greek carpentry, and if you look back at almost every major period of American architecture you can see its classical form could be likened to the temple colonnades. Crown Moulding, Picture Rail, Chair Rail, Paneling, Casings, and Baseboards each represent a different piece of the column! Read  The Decoration of Houses by Edith Wharton 1897

Goodbye short stack!

Found evidence of possible fire or smoke damage!!!

Really hoping we’re not sending any harmful lead particles air born : /

3) Knock Out Add-On Wall in Upstairs Bonus Room:  A. It has a window that looks into the adjoining room using one way glass, and the door locks from the outside… it really makes you wonder, “what happened in this room?” Interrogations? Experiments? Observations? My sister-in-law thinks it could have been used for a child with autism. This would be a relief to find out as my mind has wandered to some pretty obscene things!  B. The wall is separating from the surrounding walls, so if we don’t take it out, one of our kids just might accidentally knock it over someday! (Well, that’s probably a bit of a dramatization.)  C. Eventually this room is going to be my music studio, and although it seems like it would have made more sense to keep this wall for separating the recording booth from the control room, I really only need about half this space and my husband has a grand plan that will be much better than this paper-thin wall!

Now it’s time for a cleanup!

Phase 1: Done! And this was just the first day!

Happy afternoon Everyone!