Life with the P's

A young couple living life – remodeling, diy projects, and everything in between!

Category Archives: Before and After

Fireplace is done!

Just a quick before, after #1, and final after:

For Round One of tiling, we used a fish bone pattern. We thought we would hang the full sheets first, then cut and fill in with individual pieces on the edges. Bad idea. It sat like this for a couple of months:

Deep down, we really just didn’t like it at all. So, during Aaron’s parent’s most recent visit, we all got tired of looking at it and decided to re-do it yet again.

glas mosaic tile fireplace

And the grouted, painted after:


The Upper Deck

This past weekend, we decided to tackle the deck overhaul. Before we moved in, our inspector warned us that the railing on the deck was so unsafe, it needed to be fixed asap. We decided that it was better to remove the railing before it gave someone a false sense of security. The railing was removed in December 2010. We just finally put a new railing on this weekend. Here are some before pictures:

Don’t laugh – yes, it actually sat like that for almost a year. The spiral staircase definitely looked odd without any handrail. In our defense, there were soooo many things wrong with the original deck. The deck was installed after the house was built and wasn’t planned well. The original baluster posts were screwed the the house and attached to the deck improperly. There wasn’t any flashing between the deck and the house, which caused water to run into the office on the first floor (we fixed that quickly as it was causing some problems with the drywall). I can’t even remember the rest, but it was a fairly long list of problems.

In total, we spent about $450 on this project. We had to replace 4 of the planks across the deck, 8 baluster posts, handrail, spindles, and stain. We chose solid color stain and couldn’t be happier. We have never had a deck (we hate them) but we kinda have to keep this one because of where it is. We stained the bottoms side of the deck also, since you can see it when you sit in the hot tub. We actually love the deck now, but it is pretty much all because of that solid color stain. Here is the after:

The hot tub came with house. It was obviously barely used, but the hot tub cover is absolutely destroyed and needs to be replaced, like, yesterday. We have been holding off because we figured staining the deck above it would make a mess. Since is it now “fall” in Texas, we are prepping ourselves for hot tub season. Since the deck is finished, we can now buy a hot tub cover and fire that bad boy up! Also, we want to buy some nice screens to hang from the deck to surround the hot tub for privacy and shade. We are also debating painting the hot tub sides. The color just doesn’t blend well with the house, especially after looking at the pictures. Maybe we can do that when we run out of major projects and are bored (haha… like that will ever happen!). As with the entire house, this area isn’t completely finished yet, but at least the deck is done!!

Guest Bath #2 Remodel

We are now officially finished [remodeling] the entire second floor of our house! This includes 3 bedrooms, the theater/media room, pool table room, and 2 guest bathrooms. FINALLY! Now if we could just stumble on a nice pile of money to start and finish our master, we would be set! The layout of this bathroom is as follows (not to scale AT ALL):

You can thank Homestyler for that! I now know what I will be using to design my sweet pool and backyard!!!! Anyway, enough of being excited about this AWESOME new design tool I googled-upon!

The bathroom is accessible from 2 of the 3 bedrooms upstairs. However, it only has one sink that is 55″ long. We debated changing it to a double bowl vanity, but it would be fairly difficult and not really worth the hassle.

Moving on to the before bathroom shots (I couldn’t even get a picture before Aaron already started demo and the mirror was gone.

guest bath before and after, guest bath linoleum

guest bath wallpaper

Yes, we had that wallpaper in the bathroom before. And the shower tile is UGLY but, we figured we would work with it since it looks like this bathtub was never ever used. So our plan was to do a marble/grey theme in this bathroom. In short – WE NAILED IT! This is my favorite bathroom. I can’t wait to re-do our master in hopes that it turns out as awesome as this one.

the vanity

First thing we did was demo everything. We carefully removed the counter top and donated to Habitat for Humanity Re-store. The linoleum was super easy to remove (still baffled by the fact that this house had linoleum but I guess we should be grateful since it is insanely easy to remove). Next up was painting the vanity. We chose the color Black Fox by Sherwin Williams. It blends perfectly with the tile. I was shooting for a black/grey with a nice brown tint. It didn’t really turn out the way I had planned. Instead, I think I like it more than if it had turned out how I originally intended. We also added some in-stock and inexpensive cabinet hardware from Lowe’s.

diy painted bathroom vanity

lighting changes

We decided to change the lighting in the room from a single bar light above the mirror to two sconce lights on each side of the mirror and also added a can light. Since this bathroom is on the second floor, it was easy (but very HOT) to access the ceiling through the attic. Adding the can light made it a lot brighter in the bathroom and was definitely a much needed improvement. For the sconce lights, we chose Hampton Bay’s Sadie Wall Sconce (on sale at our Home Depot for $19.99 when we bought them). In the shower and toilet part of the bathroom, we updated the light from a $5 acorn shaped light to a nice looking pendant light. The light has grey and white swirls and really looks great.

hampton bay sadie 1-light wall sconce

Here is what your wall looks like during this type of construction:

the mirror

The mirror that was in this bathroom before took up the entire wall above the vanity and can’t be reused in this space because of the lighting changes. We re-purposed the mirror from our other guest bath remodel since it is a lot smaller. We re-purposed the mirror from this bathroom and turned it into a main accent piece for our living room. I discussed that mirror transformation here. We used mirror mastic to hang the mirror and some mirror hanging clips to keep it in place until the mastic dried. Next, we decided to trim out the mirror and paint the trim the same color as the painted vanity. Here is a picture of the frame “dry fitting.”


First of all, real marble is EXPENSIVE so we cheated and used some ceramic tile that somewhat resembled marble. We bought some mosaic marble tile and marble tile borders for accents. Below is a progress picture of our accent sections when we installed them. We couldn’t tile the rest of the wall until the counter arrived, so it was a good idea to get this out of the way. We used finishing nails to hold the tile in place until it the mortar was set.

The tile in the rest of the bathroom (on the floor and surrounding the sink and marble accents) is a ceramic tile that was brick shaped. The dimensions of each tile are something like 14″ x 8″. We staggered the tile to give it that brick look. As mentioned earlier, the white tile in the shower stayed put (for now) and it really blend well with everything. Here is an after picture of the floor:

brick pattern tile

vanity top

There is an excellent granite place that I found that isn’t too far away from our house. I called and the guy said they had a piece of marble and that he would do a 55″ vanity with a vessel bowl cut out (read about our vessel bowl drama here) for $450 (and deliver it for that price!). This was a steal compared to everywhere else we looked/called. Most granite places required that we buy the ENTIRE slab of marble/granite and Lowe’s cheapest vanity top that was a comparable color was in the $900 range.

By this point, we were into this grey marble stuff waaaaay too deep to not get the vanity top that was just perfect. Aaron and I both had a vision of what we wanted and we lucked out with this counter top guy because he had a perfect piece! And he didn’t care that we wanted to install it ourselves to save some $$$. We will definitely be returning to him for the master bathroom remodel! Anyway, the vanity top took about 10 days and it was delivered. It is more than perfect. I am so in love with that large veined marble!!!!!!!!

finally… the finished bathroom!

There are a couple of additional items that were purchased/added that weren’t mentioned above. We bought a new toilet for this bathroom after failed attempts to clean the old one. The house sat for 12-18 months before we bought it and as a result, all of the toilets have had rings in them where the water sat (ew). Also, we purchased a curved shower curtain rod and an extra long (84″) shower curtain. Advice: if you are going to have an extra long shower curtain, buy the curtain and plan the bathroom around it. It is almost impossible to find the shower curtain you like in extra long. We almost sewed our own- that is how much trouble we had finding one. Instead, we bought a plain white waffle weave shower curtain from Bed Bath & Beyond that you can find here.

And that’s it for this bathroom… I LOVE IT! I already warned Aaron that if the master bathroom remodel doesn’t impress me more than this bathroom, I will be moving upstairs and taking over this bathroom. haha!

Half Bath Remodel and a big “Whoopsie”

A third bathroom in our house is now complete! I got a wild hair and wanted to re-do this bathroom a couple of weekends ago. I was pretty proud of myself for removing the toilet and vanity all by myself. I even had to take the door off the hinges in order to fit the vanity through it. But Aaron was busy on the car and I handled it all!

This is the primary bathroom that everyone uses when they visit and it is downright embarrassing. Or, at least it was. Lucky for us that the previous owners upgraded to this lovely granite vanity. I know that they upgraded because I could see the outline of where the old pedestal sink used to be after I had removed the current sink for painting. The “new” vanity is the only thing, and I mean only thing this bathroom had going for it.

My sincere apologies for the horrendous picture quality. That will soon change because I am getting a new camera for my birthday (YAY!). Anyway, the wallpaper border at the top of the room was added prior to the hunter green paint. I discovered this when removed the wallpaper using warm water and a scraper:

It took me 4-5 hours just to prep for painting. The wax ring on the toilet was bad, so the area around the toilet was nasty (thankfully we are on a slab foundation, so no harm done by the bad wax ring). I also scrubbed the trim, especially where it meets the walls so that paint could better adhere to it. Next, I removed the exhaust fan cover and the vent and scrubbed both of those (yuck). I also removed the light fixture and wired a temp light. Finally I was ready to paint the ceiling.

I have had a vision of what I wanted the bathroom to look like: I wanted chunky, horizontal stripes. Mission Accomplished yet again. I used this bathroom to write some helpful painting tips and tricks that I have learned along the way. Here’s the finished bathroom:

Not including the whoopsie moment, this bathroom cost around $250 to makeover. Here is the breakdown:

  • New chair height toilet $100
  • Paint $50 for the two colors
  • Ceiling and trim paint – already owned
  • Light fixture $5 from Lowe’s sale section – spray painted oil rubbed bronze
  • Mirror – free hand-me-down from Aaron’s parents (also spray painted oil rubbed bronze)
  • Glass light shades for light fixture $42 (3 at$14 each)
  • Towel bar and glass shelf – already owned
  • Faucet – to be replaced at a later date for under $50 (thanks EBAY!), or maybe spray painted for less… jury is still out on this one.
  • TOTAL COST = $250

NOT.TO.SHABBY. Here are the faucet options that we have picked out, but haven’t purchased yet:

  And now for the big WHOOPSIE moment that sounded more like “SH#()$)ale*&^(#!@” when it happened…

I had finished painting everything except for the trim, peeled all of the tape off from the stripes, admired my perfect paint lines, and got ready to install the bathroom accessories when something horrible happened. While trying to install a towel bar, we punctured a 3/4″ copper water line. GREAT. On Labor Day. EVEN BETTER! (On a side note, we have excellent water pressure)

After 4 hours, lots (I mean LOTS) of swearing, 2 Home Depot trips, and me on fire watch, Aaron was finally able to fix it and my wall looked like this:

The reason for the second hole higher up on the wall is that the solder didn’t take on the first attempt and the water had so much pressure that it looked like it could be leaking higher up in the wall. We didn’t want to take any chances because it was feasible that we had created a leak somewhere else after all the stress we put on the pipe trying to cut out the screwed (haha) section.

Needless to say, I was very depressed and disappointed. And I despise drywall, so that just made the sinking feeling even worse. Oh well, I sucked it up and patched and re-painted the wall. This project took about 6 days total from start to finish (although, 4 days were spent waiting for the coats of drywall compound to dry). And lets just say lesson learned… on the master bathroom, we will determine where the towel bars go before paint/tiling the walls.

Pantry Facelift

Over the past weekend, I tackled one of the constantly-bugging-me projects: our pantry. When we remodeled the kitchen here (progress of the remodel, anyways), I didn’t finish the pantry. It didn’t need a lot of work, just paint. The door handle to the pantry has been off since we first started with the kitchen and I finally got tired of seeing it sitting in my catch-all kitchen drawer.

I have a lot of leftover paint from the dining room because I was originally going to paint the walls the darker color and the inside of the boxes the lighter color. Convenient that I didn’t have to buy anything to do this project (except a little more primer, always comes in handy though).

No, I did not do any awesome stencil job like House of Smiths but I am still happy with my work. The before picture doesn’t look that bad. But what you can’t see is the splashes of what-I-am-assuming-is-food-to-avoid-being-grossed-out on the trim. The shelves and door were an awful off-white/yellowish tinted color that I absolutely can’t stand. The door was gross around the handle from sticky fingers, and the shelves were all marked up from sliding stuff on them. Oh, and the closet didn’t have a light before. Aaron installed that when we remodeled the kitchen. So it was a dungeon before.

This is what happens to your kitchen when your pantry is under construction… there was not a single square foot of usable counter space all weekend (which = NO COOKING! oh wait, I don’t cook anyway).

I painted one coat of primer, two coats of color, and two coats of white. And now the beautiful (ok, so I might be slightly more excited at how it turned out since I spent 2+ days working on it) after:

To avoid scuffing up my amazing shelf paint job, I bought bright white rubber matting (fairly thin stuff) from Lowe’s. About $14 (one BIG roll) was enough for all of my shelves.

Martha would be proud (maybe). I feel so organized. I am ready to begin crazy couponing!

The Story of the Viper and its Recent Upgrades

Anyone who knows us, knows that we aren’t just about DIY home stuff, we do almost all of our own car work (repair, upgrades, etc. too). As with the house, we mostly do this because we are cheap. Another reason is that we have trust issues letting other people work on our stuff. And no, we are not going to work on that.

I don’t think that many people believe that I work on the cars too, but that is definitely not the case. I am always helping, and often have to do the work in cramped spaces because my hands and arms are a little smaller. And if I am not actually doing the work, I am the assistant who gets yelled at for grabbing the wrong tools and taking too long to find stuff. A lot of car stuff Aaron talks about (he talks about cars and car parts about 70% of the time that he is awake, maybe more) goes in one ear and out the other. However, I do retain a decent amount of information, just enough to be dangerous. Moving on… 

The Story of the Viper

The Viper is our wedding and honeymoon. After I received my long-awaited engagement ring, I didn’t really want a big wedding. We had a very small wedding ceremony in our house on Thursday, May 20th, 2010, officiated by one of our favorite neighbors and friend in Illinois (check Angie Morgan out at We each had a best friend there and it was all around very peaceful and just perfect for us. And no, I am not sharing pictures because I was about 25 pounds heavier and I don’t like the way I looked. Ew. Just looked at those pictures again, and man did I look F_A_T! How about a picture of the delicious food I made instead? (hmmm, wonder why I was a chunkster?!?!)

About a month after we got married, we bought the Viper from a private person (not a dealer) in Oklahoma City. I guess you could consider our turn around drive to pick it up our honeymoon???

Recent Upgrades

The Viper has recently (meaning last 6 months) received some upgrades and a small under-cover face lift.  Overall, the process took an entire Saturday, mostly thanks to the lower radiator hose clamp that was being a complete $*%&@(#. So here is the list of what the viper Aaron got for his birthday:

  • Solid upper and lower radiator hoses (matches the intake)
  • Powder coated intake manifold
  • New spark plugs and wires
  • New throttle body

It isn’t like the car needed repaired or even upgraded, it’s a stunning beast on its own. Mostly because of its Paxton friend that resides under the hood.

This is what the Viper’s engine bay looked like before:

And now for some in progress pictures:

And finally, the cleaned up after shots:

Houston has some amazing car clubs. This picture was taken by someone (soooooo sorry, I don’t know who took this or I would give credit) at Houston’s Coffee and Cars ( January 2011 event. I want this guy’s camera! That is Aaron driving and his best friend Rob in the passenger seat.

2003 silver dodge viper

One word for this picture: cooooooool

How to make a builder grade mirror look good!

All of our bathrooms have those crappy builder grade mirrors that do not have frames and are just plain boring. After a recent furniture shopping trip, we got the idea to frame out one of the mirrors to make something worth hanging on our wall. The mirror we spotted in a furniture store was around $550 which is way more money than I wanted to spend. Plus, it was kind of ugly. Neat, but not our taste. So off we went to trusty Home Depot for some buy-by-the-foot stain grade trim. A few 45* cuts later and we had our frame:

contractor grade mirror framed with stain grade wood

And if you look closely, you can see that there are two pieces of trim. The larger floor trim butts up next to the mirror and the extra piece overlaps both the mirror and the floor trim.

2 pieces of trim around mirror

After dry fitting everything, we hot glued and stapled each of the frames and then screwed and hot glued the overlapping frame to the large floor trim frame from the back. Next, we flipped the frame contraption over (face side to the floor) and added some mirror mastic (available in a caulk tube in the mirror section of Home Depot/Lowes) to the outer edge and set the mirror in place. We also added some “just in case” supports on the back corners. We attached these to the frame with screws from the back.

Next, we cut the center pieces. These are just smaller pieces of trim. The hexagon-type shape was very easy. The angles are 22.5* (1/2 of a 45* angle). Also, the pieces can be any size, as long as the piece opposite is the exact same (not sure if that makes sense or not). Here is the shape we were going for. The boards and tiles are to hold everything flat while the mastic/glue dries.

The mirror itself was 55″ by 42″. Add some trim to that and it became very heavy, and even bigger. We used the hooks above (circled), but realized they didn’t quite hold it like they should. We bought the picture hanging wire (heaviest available) and wrapped it through the hooks and the support boards. To hang it on the wall, we used a very large leg bolt (not sure if that is the correct terminology or not) and some washers.  And here is the final product!

diy contractor grade mirror frame

And no, I can not take a non-blurry picture. I will work on that. And no, I will not pick up the room to take a picture. I was just too excited that the mirror was up! The internet can see our house in all of its functional/messy glory! Here is a reminder of the before and after of the room. The before picture is the picture from the real estate listing. We are getting there at least…

living room before and after, vaulted living room, diy mirror frame

In total, this project cost about $100 because of the stain grade wood. It can definitely be done on a smaller budget. We have 4 more mirrors left… let’s see what we can do with those!

Spare Bathroom – Reveal!

Check out our main guest bathroom before here. Well, we have some good news! That bathroom looks A-M-A-Z-I-N-G now! If you wanna talk budget, the total re-do cost about $1,500. Pretty steep price tag, I know. That is counting everything, though. The only thing that stayed in the bathroom was the tub (just the tub, not the surround) and the drywall. That total includes: all of the tile and tile supplies (including new Hardie backer board), vanity and vanity top, tub and sink faucets, shower curtain and rod, all towel holders, mirror, toilet, and light fixture. Phew, I think that is all. ANYWAY… time for some pictures!

Here is a pictures that provided some inspiration for us. We wanted to tile half way up the wall all the way around the bathroom and have a nice border on top of that. I am not sure where this picture came from, so I apologize for stealing it!

Here is the master plan, and yes, that picture was taken halfway through the project. The mosaic-type tile was from Lowe’s and came in a 12″x12″ sheet for just $2.50 FOR THE WHOLE SHEET! We cut each sheet into 3 pieces of 4 rows tall (not sure that makes sense). The bull nose piece was $5 for a 12″ piece from Floor & Decor Outlet here in Houston. The wall and floor tile came from Lowe’s also. Wall tile was $0.67/piece and floor tile was $2.13/piece. The floor is a rather small area, so we went with the 18″ tile that was a little more expensive.

Not that anyone cares, but this is how we cut/lay tile floors (and walls). We start by figuring out the center tile in the room, then lay all of the full size tiles that require no cutting. Using mortar, we put all of the no-cut-needed tiles in place and then wait about a day to do anything else. The next day (or a week later, whatever!) we mark all of the tiles that need to be cut and number them with their location on the floor. Sorry for the blurry picture, but hopefully you get the idea:

If you have a mixer you don’t like, here is what you can do with it: MIX YOUR GROUT WITH IT! That isn’t cake mix in that bowl! We have decided that we prefer unsanded grout and the smallest grout lines possible (typically 1/8″). And that mixer did a great job on the grout!

Here are some more in progress pictures:

We have had our share of issues with this bathroom:

  1. The plumbing was all copper and Aaron had a hell of a time getting it soldered with no leaks.
  2. The door that was on the bathroom didn’t close after we put the tile backer board and the tile on the floor. It was installed with the linoleum, so we had to cut about 1/4″ off the bottom of it in order for it to close properly at all.
  3. Our last major complication was that we are dumb didn’t think the vanity through all the way. We thought we would be genius and save some green by buying a kitchen sink base. Two kitchen re-models/construction later and we still didn’t think this one through. If you haven’t figured it out yet, the kitchen sink bases are deeper (about 2″ to be exact) than the normal bathroom vanity. After about 24 hours of consideration, we busted out the table saw and cut the vanity down ourselves, saving about $140. And if you ask me, you couldn’t even tell. I think we might use the in-stock kitchen cabinets for our master bathroom also, only we shouldn’t need to cut those down because we will be getting a custom counter anyway. Not sure about that one yet, though. Here’s proof of the door rigging, but I don’t have proof of the vanity re-sizing because it took both of us to unsafely maneuver a 36″ vanity on a table saw.

OHHH! And another lesson learned – if you are doing a border all the way around the room, put the border up first using nails or boards to hold it in place. We should have done this to ensure a perfectly level border and then tiled from the border down to the floor since we had to cut the tile along the floor anyway. Our border is a little off, but overall, we can’t complain. Just one of those things that you live and learn.

Here are some detail pictures of the “after” bathroom:

And here is what the bathroom looks like now:


I am always a sucker for “before and afters”, so here ya go!

Can I add… what a difference GE Reveal blue lights make! Look at those yellow tinted before shots! Luckily and with a lot of hard work, we finished before Aaron’s parents arrived for their visit in early May. All that we have left is to paint the door (bleck!).

Finally, I Have some tips for tiling. These are just some tidbits that we have learned along the way that you don’t always hear/read about when you look into the how-to’s.

Tips for Tiling:

  • Install any decorative border first using nails or boards to hold it level and in place.
  • Use small grout lines. You want to show off the tile, not the grout.
  • When tiling floors, find your center tile and stick (for lack of a better word) down all tiles that don’t require cutting from the center to the outer edges of the room. Let this part dry for 24 hours or so before coming back to finish the cut pieces.
  • When tiling vertical surfaces (walls), your mortar should be the consistency of peanut butter (Dave’s analogy!). This definitely makes a huge difference. Mud that is too thin will cause your tile to slide down the wall.
  • When tiling vertical surfaces, only tile a couple of feet up at a time. We wanted to ensure that the tile stayed in place, and putting up too much to quickly could have resulted in more shifting.
  • More mortar is always better. It may be messy, but 100% of the back of the tile should be sticking to the floor/wall with mortar to prevent any future cracking.
  • Use tape to hold bull nose pieces in place until the mortar dries
  • ALWAYS wipe excess mortar up before you finish for the day. It is such a pain if you wait.
  • Use patterns such as a staggered brick-like pattern or diagonal (diamond) pattern <–those are my terms, not real terms.
  • Clean out your mortar bucket or it will be junk. We have thrown away numerous buckets because of this. You would think we would learn!

Theater room, pool table room, & DIY entertainment center

We had built-ins and a fixed projector screen in the basement of our last house, but that didn’t seem like the best option in this house. Here are a couple of pictures of our last basement that I totally loved (except for the basement part – high water table+finished basement=lots of worrying). The basement was finished entirely based on the projector screen and a theater room. Loved our bar, too, even though we hardly used it. It sure was pretty!

The media room is a loft type room and can be seen from the living room, kitchen, entry – pretty much the entire first floor. Because of this, we wanted the media room to be functional, yet not completely obvious. We went on the search for a media center that fit our needs. No such luck. We couldn’t find a hutch/TV console that could support our numerous systems (weight, size, etc.), especially in our price range. And who buys a media center hutch that doesn’t need a place for a TV???? We really liked this one and it was made by Thomasville, but it was around $2,700 on sale (supposedly) and the received was too deep to fit in/on it. (WARNING: A lot of these pictures are crappy phone pictures!)

In the picture of our old theater room, the two shelf units on the right are fixed and supported the weight of our 90 pound receiver. The shelves on the left had pegs so that they could be adjusted. Since we built those shelves, we figured why not? Let’s build an entertainment center that is Texas sized the right size, height, and able to support the weight of the receiver and speakers.

I showed Aaron some ideas from Ana White’s site (she has awesome plans for DIY furniture at But he mostly came up with the building plan. We took a page from that Thomasville piece and made part of ours stick out (not sure what the technical term is for that, but I am sure there is one). Anyway… here are some of the build pictures:

We stained it the same way we did the handrail on the staircase (only this came first – which is where we got the idea on how to stain the handrail). So this bad boy is 8 feet tall and super heavy. And I have no idea how we will move it if we ever move. But that’s ok, its perfect for what we need! We have plans to build a matching sofa table to hold the bookshelf speakers behind the couch, as well as 2 tall DVD/CD/VHS (yes, we have VHS tapes still) book cases to go on each side of the entertainment center.

And now for some talk about the projector screen, projector, and the rest of the theater room. To kick it off, here is the picture from the real estate listing:  

Because you can see this room from the first floor, we wanted to have a more concealed theater room. Aaron bought the screen on Ebay, and it was quite the chore to put it in. Luckily, our ceiling beams were going the right direction. The screen had to go in through the attic. It is powered by remote. We basically just cut an opening in the drywall, set the screen in the attic, mounted it to the beams, and trimmed it out like a picture frame. It is hardly noticeable when up and it comes down with the touch of a button:

The screen is a 200″ diagonal and is about 14′ across. It comes down quietly and quickly and looks like this:

Now, some talk about the projector and speakers. The wires for it are ran in the attic and it is mounted in the pool table room. Due to the Texas-sized screen and projector distance, we had to do something about the lighting situation in the room. The ceiling fan was in the way of the picture, and was waaaaayyyy too small for the room and definitely didn’t provide enough light. Instead, we replaced the ceiling fan with a can light and installed 4 additional can lights. You can see them in some of the “after” pictures.

For the speakers, we pulled up the base trim around the floor and ran most of the speaker wires behind it. Then we re-installed it, re-caulked it, and painted the whole room, including the ceiling and trim. All of the wires come out of the wall behind the receiver. We used black zip ties (circled) and zip tie holders that attach with double-sided sticky stuff (<– technically speaking, of course).

Max helped with the wiring. He loves speaker wires and he didn’t know what to do when the room looked like this:

Here is the finished picture of the entertainment center – LQQK –> NO WIRES!!!!!!!!!!!

Next up are some pictures of the room as a whole. I want to add some large (like, HUGE) pillows for additional seating/laying on the floor during movies. The couches only fit 4 people comfortably, so we need something for additional “seating”.

I am pretty sure the previous owners thought they were interior decorators. Man, were they wrong. I don’t claim to be good at it, by any means, but seriously… their taste left something to be desired. For the windows in this room, they had the ugliest color in real 2″ wood blinds with some sort of home-made valance. The valance was a piece of cut leather, hot glued over the cheapie (yes, that is a word) white curtain rods that you aren’t supposed to be able to see, with some beads hot glued on the bottom. Oh mah gawd they were ugly. And with the old carpet, whoa is all I can say. We replaced the blinds with the least expensive, cut-to-size 2″ faux wood white blinds from Home Depot. I would like to see a continuous curtain rod across all of these windows with another DIY curtain, but we aren’t quite there yet.

The pool table room is another work in progress. Probably mostly because it is missing the pool table (minor detail). We chose the color “Brandy Wine” by Sherwin Williams. I wanted a burnt-orange color. This color was definitely a bold choice, and we questioned it when the original carpet was still there. It has, however, grown on us, and I think it is a fun color for the pool table room.

I picture a dark wood pool table with tan felt in this space. We have been checking Craigslist for a nice pool table, but have not mustered up enough energy to follow through with the research/purchase yet. We replaced the ceiling fan and hung the theater room posters we had from our last house. We still need some more cool signs – check out that Highland Beer sign… yeah… that’s a Highland, Illinois beer sign! Oh, and a SAWEEEET Jagermeister mirror. [Note: You can see the before pictures of this room above. It was rather boring, so I didn’t put any more pictures here.]

Please excuse the ceiling fan on the floor. It will be re-purposed around the house. Our pictures are not staged at all (I know you can’t tell, hahahaha).

Staircase is Done!

This is the before and after post for the staircase. We stripped and re-stained all of the oak handrail and baluster posts. Then, we painted every.single.spindle by hand with primer and semi-gloss white. Then we painted all of the spindle bases and trim. I think we have clocked at least 40 hours on the staircase between the both of us. At least 4o, probably more. The stain we used was a combination of Minnwax’s Aged Oak and Bombay Mahogany. We put one coat of Aged Oak on first, then 2 coats of Bombay Mahogany and sealed it with varnish. Not sure if the Aged Oak actually had any part in the final color, but it is what we used. We also repainted everything – ceiling and all walls. The beige-y color everywhere is Sherwin William’s Beach House.

We painted the living room and entry before blog days, but here are a couple of  pictures of the scaffolding we rented from Home Depot. So much fun. NOT!

We wanted metal spindles because they are awesome. Hands down. But the cost of them is not awesome and we are trying to spend money wisely on this house. Some things we buy are for personal preference, yes, but we couldn’t justify spending over $1k for new spindles when the ones that are there are just fine. Also, we can always upgrade this later if we change our minds. Without any more rambling, here are the pictures…

Here are some progress pictures…

And here are the finished pictures…

It looks so much better! Much more up-to-date. We are really happy with how it turned out!

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