Front Door Makeover

Our front door has been waiting on a makeover since we moved in; I bought the paint for it back in January and then never got around to actually painting the door. We put up new lights and got rid of the overgrown bushes but never quite got to the door. Since it was one of the last small projects on The List, I decided to tackle it so it could be pretty for Christmas. Here it is before – such a sad brown color with bright brass hardware.

So I started by taking off the brass kick-plate to spray paint it along with the rest of the door hardware.   Surprise!  Rot!  Uh oh!  This stopped me in my tracks for 10 minutes until I could get Kevin to take a look.  The bottom of the door is rotted almost all the way through on one side and not doing much better on the other.  We will need a new door sooner than later, but since those are expensive we decided to go ahead and put some lipstick on this pig until we get a replacement.

Taking off the hardware was pretty easy – just unscrew the dead bolt & knob from the inside & pop off the bottom cover of the handle & unscrew it as well.

I set all the door hardware out on some cardboard in the front yard so I could spray paint using the Krylon Dual Metallic Finish with the paint & primer in one.  The closest color that Home Depot had to coordinate with the black light fixtures was called Carbonite.

In order to make sure that the screw heads matched the rest of the kick-plate once it was re-installed, I set the screws in the original holes and pushed them into the cardboard.

For the deadbolt, I put a spare key in the key hole so that the spray paint wouldn’t mess up the lock and stood it up by pushing the back bar through the cardboard.

Same for the main handle.  With the handle, it’s also important to move the lever for at least a coat so that all the surfaces are painted.  I learned it probably would have been best to push the lever down for the first coat instead of the 2nd/3rd so that you don’t mess up the finish on the tip of the lever (like I did).  It’s not very noticeable but a good lesson for later.

Here it is after 1 coat.  It took about 4-5 very thin coats to get an even finish.

I alternated spray painting the hardware with coats on the front door.  Here is what the paint looks like in the can…definitely a little pinker than it turned out in the end.

Supplies needed for painting were pretty minimal – just a plastic roller pan, 4″ roller, 2″ paint brush, drop cloth & some rags.

After one coat it was looking pretty good but looking back I probably should have primed it first to cut down on a top coat or two.

I didn’t wait long enough (according to the can) between the first few coats because I was afraid I wasn’t going to finish before it got dark.  I would definitely recommend starting early in the morning so that you have plenty of drying time between coats.

A trick that I like to use to keep the paint & brushes from drying out between the coats is to cover the roller pan with Glad Press’n Seal.  This cuts down on the clean up and is easy to remove & replace each time between coats.  During clean-up if I’m not going to keep the roller, I wrap it in press’n seal & pull it off the handle & drop it in the trash.   If I’m using one of the cheap plastic roller trays, I just drop it in a trash bag & seal it up.  That may not be “green” but it does save a lot of clean up time.

I think the door took about 4 coats of paint plus some touch up in the panels.

Here’s the finished product.  SOO much prettier than the sad brown door.

The hardware turned out really nicely as well.  I had to get it back on before it was fully cured because it got dark, but luckily it didn’t get scratched up.  Hopefully the finish will hold up but this was definitely a cheaper alternative than paying $200+ for new hardware.

It’s pretty from the inside too!

I think the front of the house looks so much nicer with the red door & without brass hardware.  We also added the garage hardware recently to make them look like the newer carriage doors that several neighbors have.

One last before:

& after:

Playroom Wall Art Projects

The playroom walls have been empty since it was painted nearly 5 months ago.  At first I had trouble figuring out what to do with the big wall over the futon.  I bought a couple of 16×20 canvas prints but they were MUCH too small for the wall so they are now hanging on either side of the door.  I stole an idea from a friend for the wall opposite the windows & just had not gotten around to hanging it again after the paint job (since the process was so much fun the first time around) so due to The List I finally got this room looking more …well…playful.

First let’s look at the idea to display kid’s art that I stole from a friend.  Liam brings home art regularly from school and in order to keep the fridge from being overloaded with baby footprints or collages; I decided to display them in the playroom.  A college friend has the same thing in her kitchen so I can’t take credit for this idea but I really love how it turned out.

Here is my little “helper” showing me that a measuring tape is a great toy.

For this project you just need the DIGNITET curtain wire  & a pack of RIKTIG curtain hooks with clips from Ikea.  The curtain wire is not the easiest thing to put up (that’s why it took me 5 months to get it back on the wall).   I learned a couple lessons the first time and this time I knew to use a GOOD pair of wire clippers for cutting the wire to the right length & solid drywall anchors.  I still had one of the ends pull the anchors out of the wall slightly when I was tightened the wire.

The display ended up being around 7′ long & it looks great with a selection of Liam’s art from the past few months.  It’s really easy to change out what’s on display and only cost around $16.

The next wall to tackle was the one over the futon which can be seen from the entry & dining room.  I didn’t want anything that screamed baby and I thought about some of the larger wall decals but never found anything that was right.  As I was searching on, I found a set of 4×6 Printable ABC Flashcards.  The graphics were cute and colors worked well with the playroom so I decided to use them to create a picture grid wall.   I printed them on card stock on a nice laser printer (I’m sure you can guess where….shhh!)  I tried to save paper/ink the first time by printing 4 per page, but ended up getting the scale wrong so I highly recommend a test print & measure of 1 sheet before printing them all.

I found frames at IKEA that were 2 for $2.99 and very lightweight.  I cut out each flashcard using a straight-edge paper trimmer like this one and then framed the set.  I used 1 small size Command Strips at the top of each frame for hanging – velcro the front and back of the strip together before applying to the frame & leave the backing on the wall side until ready to hang.

Now for the fun part – hanging 26 frames in a even, level grid on the wall.   I decided to use 1″ painters tape to layout my grid with a top row of 6 frames, two middle rows of 7 and the bottom row of 6.

First I measured to find the center of the wall horizontally & then the vertical center of the collection.  I hang art so that the center of the piece is at 64″-65″ off the floor – this is a higher than some recommendations but since Kevin and I are on the taller side of average this works out to be about eye level for us.   I put up the  horizontal tape lines first & aligned the top of the middle piece of tape at 64″ high (measure up from the floor at each end & then use a level & adjust the tape until it is level).  Next use a frame on top of the tape line and bottom & mark the wall with a pencil to indicate where to put the next 2 horizontal tape lines (remember to level!).

Next up – vertical tape lines – for the middle 2 rows there are an odd number of frames so one will be centered on the wall.  Measure to the center of the wall & mark it on the horizontal tape line.   Measure to find the center of a frame then align the center of the frame (or measuring tape) with the center of the wall & mark the tape on each side with a pencil.  Apply the vertical tape lines to make 2 rows and continue using frames to measure & apply tape.  For the top & bottom rows – center the first piece of tape in the center of the wall and then use a frame to measure out from there.  Here is what my final grid of tape looked like.

Now it’s time to start hanging some frames I started with Z and worked backwards.  Take the wall side paper backing off the command strips and align the frame with the bottom right tape strips.  Even though the tape was supposed to be level, I still used a level to double check each frame prior to pressing the Command strip to the wall.

The great thing about the command strips is that you can fix goofs like this when you see that the pictures are not in the correct order.  I also used the level on top of each pair of pictures to make sure the frames stayed level all the way across.

The rest of the project was pretty quick since hard part was measuring it all out.

After all the frames are hung, just remove the painters tape from between the frames.  The other advantage to command strips for a picture frame grid is that you don’t have to worry about the frames shifting off level & looking wonky.

Overall this ended up being 33″ tall & 44.5″ wide.  The project cost $ $60 ($18 for the ABC flash cards & $42 for the frames). The grid fills up that big wall nicely and Liam was very excited about it and started pointing as soon as he saw it.

Here’s my favorite little munchkin enjoying reading a book under his new ABC art.

The List – UPDATED 3/23/14

UPDATE #3: March 23, 2014 – Finally completed a few more items on the list – down to just a couple things left and have (of course) already started more projects.

UPDATE #2: We made more progress on the list on this rainy weekend.  Updates are below in bold italics.

UPDATE: Apparently, public shaming works as motivation for us. We got a lot done this weekend (despite a trip to the pediatric ER – he’s fine). I’ve updated the list to show what we accomplished – the weekend items are in bold.

We have a lot of projects that are on the mental (who am I kidding – it’s in Excel) list for this house, but sometimes we get started on a project, buy the stuff & then let it sit for weeks or even months.  A lot of these things are just tying up the loose ends on a project or boring maintenance stuff, but a few will actually make a big difference. For this reason, Kevin and I agreed that we could not start any new projects until we finish The List.  So here it is the forgotten projects that we just need to make a little time for and maybe if I make it public we will actually knock these things out.

Powder room:

  • Hang new blind – Nov ’13

Dining Room:

  • Hang blinds Post here – Nov ’13
  • Hang new Mumford & Sons print – Nov ’13


  • Hang blinds Post here  – Nov ’13
  • Hang art over futon Post Here – Nov ’13
  • Hang art gallery wires(these were up before we had the room painted and have been sitting in a drawer since)  – Nov ’13

Laundry Room:

  • Fix SINK leak
  • Organize shelves by adding liners & baskets  – Nov ’13


  • Caulk bay window – Nov ’13
  • Caulk backsplash edge (now why did this not happen when I installed the backsplash in Jan? This probably took me longer to type that it would take to finish this.) – Nov ’13
  • Install oven/microwave Post Here – Nov ’13
  • Fix bottom oven trim
  • Install new cooktop burner elements  This did not actually fix our issue with the burner so it’s back to to see if we can find another way to fix – Nov ’13
  • Fix cooktop – more parts from finally fixed the issues – Jan ’14
Master Bedroom:

  • Iron & hem curtains – March ’14
  • Hang candle sconces over fireplace – Nov ’13

Liam’s room:

  • Print pictures for 12 month frame (it has been hanging on the wall empty for quite a while) – Nov ’13

Guest Bath:

  • Hang TP holder – Dec ’13
  • Hang new hand towel holders & move towel hook next to shower – Dec ’13


  • Move guitars downstairs – Nov ’13
  • Fix baby gate (our rather creative solution to the gate didn’t last very long & we need another creative solution) – Dec ’13
  • Hang blinds – Nov ’13
  • Hang TP holder in bathroom – Nov ’13
  • Install baby gate at bottom of stairs – Nov ’13
  • Install & grout backsplash Post Here – Nov ’13
  • Install light in gym  – Nov ’13
  • Hang art in gym – Nov ’13
  • Storage room – build 2nd shelving unit – Dec ’13
  • Storage room – roll out carpet & organize – Feb ’14
  • Storage room -move tools down from garage
Front of house:

  • Paint front door & hardware Post Here –  Nov ’13
  • Install garage hardware – Nov ’13


  • Plant bulbs Post Here – Dec ’13
  • Fix AC drain
  • Install new screen porch door


  • Paint Pegboard – March ’13

How to Build Basement Storage Shelves

We are lucky to have a large unfinished storage area in our basement.  The area is approximately 13′ wide & 36′ long.  That’s 468 SF!  Our first condo was only 200 SF bigger than this storage area.  There is a window out to the backyard so I suppose we could finish part of this if we ever feel the need for more finished space but right now that isn’t necessary.  The picture below is how it looked before we moved in.

Pretty exciting eh?!  The previous owners did us the “favor” of leaving a bunch of their crap down there after moving out so we had the pleasure of trashing a lot of it and then figuring out a way to get rid of 10 rolls of miscellaneous carpet.  Hello Craigslist!  We rolled out, measured & took pictures of each piece on Sunday and then listed it on CL as free to anyone that would take it all AND  haul it off.   It was gone in under 3 hours.  I love Craigslist.

One of the closets in the basement was filled with plastic storage bins holding our Christmas and other seasonal decorations/stuff.  There is also a cedar closet that has even more plastic storage bins filled with baby clothes & toys.  These were good areas for storage but difficult to access individual bins so after looking around Pinterest I found a couple ideas that I really liked for our unfinished space like this one & this one.  I enlisted my dad for help and we knocked out one of these shelving units in about 6 hours including the trip to Home Depot for supplies.

Tools Needed:

  • Power Drill
  • Circular Saw
  • Table Saw
  • Tape Measure
  • Square
  • Pencil
  • Chalk Line
  • 2 people w/ safety glasses

Material for 1 shelf:

  • 15 – 8ft long 2x4s
  • 2 – 10 ft long 2x4s (for the front posts to tie into the floor beams at top)
  • 2 – 4ft x 8ft sheets of plywood
  • 1 – Box of 2.5” wood screws
  • 1 – Box of 1” wood screws

Total Cost for 2 (including $20 to rent the HD truck to get the wood home) – $180

We used a slightly different construction method than the 2 blog posts above and it seemed to work out well.   The first unit is sturdy & there is no risk of toppling especially once it is loaded.

After hauling all the wood down to the basement clearing the area of stuff, we laid out the wood for the back of shelving.  We didn’t cut any of the 2x4s since I wanted the shelves to be 8′ wide.   This picture shows what will be the back of the frame.  We made sure that it was square by measuring each diagonal from corner to corner and adjusting until they were equal measurements.  We secured the corners with the 2.5″ wood screws first and then moved on to measuring, nudging, squaring & screwing in the horizontal shelf supports.  We determined the height of each shelf by measuring the average height of the storage containers (18″) and adding a couple inches for clearance.  Don’t forget to account for the height of the plywood when measuring where to put each shelf supports.  The top shelf is approximately 6′ high.  Lastly we squared & secured the middle back support.

We lifted this one up and leaned it against the back wall & followed the same steps for the front frame minus the center 2×4 support.

We used the table saw to cut all the middle supports to 22.5″ long so the finished shelves will be 2′ deep.  I didn’t get any pictures of the next part because it took both of us to hold the 2 frames together while we screwed in the middle supports.  We put 4 supports on each level & used 2 screws for each side.  The initial row was the most difficult because we had to keep it square & hold everything up.  The end pieces in the corner were also a pain because we didn’t have much clearance for the drill since we couldn’t move the unit too much due to the duct.  Here’s what we ended up with before adding the plywood for shelves.

Next we used measured the depth of each shelf to see how wide to cut the plywood.  They ended up being slightly off the 2′ measurement due to screws not pulling the wood flush at each support.  We measured the plywood at each end  and used a chalk line to mark the straight line for our circular saw & then made the cut.  We ended up cutting all 4 sheets of plywood so we would already have that step done for the next unit.  The plywood fit the shelves easily & we secured it with the 1″ wood screws.

We realized that we would only have time to build one unit that day so here is the finished product with a few things loaded.  The extra wood to the side is the material for the 2nd unit that we haven’t had the time to build yet.

I couldn’t load the unit that evening because it was late and I was tired & sore from carrying heavy wood and building the thing.  Here it a couple nights later after I labeled the boxes with my new label maker & loaded them in.  Doesn’t that just look great!  I’ve used it a few times since we built it and it is so nice to be able to just pull out the one box that I need without unloading the entire contents of a closet.

We’re planning to store Kevin’s guitars in the closet that we cleaned the holiday stuff out of so I’ll be back with an update on how that works out.

I’m excited to build the next one so we can move all the baby stuff out of the other closet & on a shelf so that is easier to manage.  I have a feeling that our Christmas decorations are going to multiply substantially this year so we may be using that 2nd unit for Christmas instead of baby….

*One little note – I’m far from an expert on how to build stuff so this method worked for me but I cannot be held responsible for your personal safety or the outcome of your own projects.

A Little Privacy Please!

I removed the 27 year old cellular shades in the front of our house when we had the trim painted in the spring.  They looked dirty and I was covered in dirt by the time I got them down.  Gross.  I didn’t really rush to get new window coverings because I really liked the clean look of the open windows.  It didn’t bother me too much that neighbors walking by on Sunday mornings would wave at us as we were playing in Liam’s playroom because it was a pretty limited view.  But then Fall rolled around and as it started to get dark earlier I noticed how clear a view existed from the street straight through the dining room to the kitchen.  Now I’m as much a fan of checking out people’s houses as the next girl but not so sure I wanted to be the ogled instead of the oglee.  Time to get some blinds.   I have ordered from in the past and they have good service so I carefully followed the measuring instructions on their site and placed my order.  The blinds sat in the box for a week or two after arriving but I finally took the time to get the project done once I realized that daylight savings time was rapidly approaching.

The windows have a very shallow frame all over the house but there are a few that already had 2″ wood blinds so I ordered a few more sets even though I didn’t have the “Minimum Depth Req. for Inside Mount” of 1 & 1/s inch.

Tools required:

  • Power drill/screwdriver
  • Manual Socket screwdriver
  • Beer

I used the bracket as a guide and drilled a couple pilot holes.  I highly recommend taking the extra 30 seconds per bracket for the pilot holes because it did make things easier down the line.

Since my windows only had about a half inch of depth, I had to use the side mounting holes on the bracket and let the bracket hang outside the window a bit.  I used the power drill to get the screws as far in as possible & then switched to the manual socket screw driver to tighten as much as possible.

After getting brackets up on both sides, it’s really easy (as long as you measured right in the beginning) to just slide the blind in.  Just make sure that the cords are on the side facing you before closing the clasps.

Installing the valance was easy once I figured out how the clasps worked.  I tried for several minutes to slide the clip into the groove on the back of the valance until I figured out that it fits in the groove sideways and then secures by turning 90 degrees.

I was pleased with the look when I got one up and happy that it functioned well and seemed very secure despite the lack of mounting depth.  Only 3 more to go (plus a new white one in the powder room to replace the ivory one that clashed with the white trim).  I finished the 2nd one in the dining room in about 20 minutes and it looks great and adds the privacy that we need.

Mac was not too happy about losing his prime barking location so we’ve been keeping the dining room blinds pulled up halfway so we don’t have to see this face too often.

The playroom looks better now too – here’s a little before..

And after:

Installing all 5 blinds from opening the packages to cleaning up probably took me around 2 hours.  Not so bad for a little privacy.