Category: Home Improvement

A Few Yard Updates

Sorry about the lack of house posts this week, folks. We’ve got a couple of projects on the backburner and they’re just taking a while to get to the point where they merit a post. I’m really excited about them though and think they’ll have a big impact on our space.

Here’s a quick little update on the status of the yard. We recently added these new patio chairs. They’re from Kmart, of all places, and they were only $13 each, on sale! My husband is really good at finding deals like this.

new patio chairs

The new chairs are nice and comfy. They’re obviously not the highest quality things, but they are comparable to thirty-dollar chairs at Target or Home Depot, so I’m ok with the price we paid! They replace these grody things:

old patio chairs

The whole patio set was a hand-me-down from Chris’ parents. It was awesome, still sturdy and functional, but the chairs had seen better days. There was a ton of discoloration from sitting out in the sun for years, and it didn’t improve despite my attempts to bleach them out.

I finally got Chris to agree that we should get new ones. Now that we have nice chairs out there, I actually sit out there more! I’ll watch the baby running around the yard while I have my morning coffee.

patio chairs from kmart

The paint on the table is badly chipping and we’re planning to scrape it down and spray paint it. Guess what color we’re going to go with?

hose reel

We also installed a new hose reel this week. Suddenly the hose, which was lying coiled on the patio, is gone, and we have so much more usable space! It’s the little things…

Boy, we really need to get the outside of the house repainted. Sigh. That’s what happens when you buy a fixer. You have to live with peeling paint until you get around to it…which could be months or years. Be warned!

A Purely Functional Laundry Nook Update


I know this photo doesn’t look like much and you’re probably wondering, “Is this a before picture?”, but this little laundry nook update adds a lot of function to the space, and is making my life a whole lot better, even if it doesn’t look pretty.

Whew. Now that’s out of the way, let me explain. Here is the laundry nook sans cabinet.


Our laundry nook is an unfinished little space that we created when we combined the master bedroom and one of the smaller bedrooms. It is made up of a hallway and a hall closet combined into one, which is why it looks so haphazard.

Since the baby came along, we sectioned this nook off with a baby gate so that she couldn’t get into the detergents and cleaning solutions and poison herself. But I still didn’t feel like this was secure enough.

Luckily, Chris’ brother was discarding a bunch of kitchen cabinets from his new home, which he and his wife are remodeling in a totally modern style. These cabinets were sturdy and in good condition, but not the style they wanted. So we inherited them and they sat in the garage for the better part of a year. Finally, we dusted one of them off and installed it on top of the washing machine to store toxic chemicals.


Bam! Fast and dirty, functional update.

Of course this room will look a lot better someday, but in the meantime we have so many other projects to do! And it’s working fine right now even if it’s a bit of an eyesore. Imagine it with bright and cheery paint, perhaps even some subway tile, all the seams and corners finished up, and perhaps a pretty laundry-themed piece of wall art.


So if you’re doing a remodel of your kitchen (or know someone who is), don’t throw away those old cabinets before considering where else in your home they might come in useful! Even if it’s just in the garage for storing tools!

The Fireplace is Done!


The reason we called this blog “Something Is Done” is partly an inside joke and partly because nothing ever seems done in this giant project we call our house. So when little projects get finished, we encourage ourselves by saying, “something is done”, even though the larger project isn’t finished yet. Baby steps. Slowly but surely.

I can’t tell you how good it feels to have the fireplace in the family room really DONE, done. After we refaced the fireplace with quartz ledgestone, we added base molding around the bottom and carpeted the room. For the longest time this corner fireplace felt like an afterthought and now, with the new paint, stone facing, hearth tile, and accessories, it really makes the room.

It used to look dated and depressing, like a black hole sucking the life out of the room.


And now it’s bright, cheery, and cozy!


The sunburst convex mirror is from Home Depot’s Martha Stewart collection and was a mere $35! So affordable. Gotta love Martha. I bought the huge blue vase from West Elm (on the left of the mantel) a couple months ago, hated it, and was going to return it, only I found that the large size helped to ground the empty space on top of the fireplace, so I guess I might keep it.


The rest of the accessories are from Ikea, West Elm, Marshalls and thrifted.

I really need to put a shade on the little window on the right. I love roman blinds but they’re so expensive, so I may need to get my DIY on sometime!

Update!  Budget Roman Blinds are in!

Read more about Refacing a Fireplace with Stone Tiles.

Napkin Pillow Covers


Over the weekend I stopped by World Market to check out their sales. I had a $10 off $40 coupon from the World Market Explorer program and I wanted to pick up a few things for our newly renovated family room. I found some super cute patterned cloth napkins and thought they would be just the thing to brighten up our rather drab, hand-me-down couch.

I choose these lovely patterned napkins with florals and birds (the Whippoorwill pattern). My daughter pointed at the birds and tried to bark, so I had to go for them.

There are lots of other pretty patterns though!

chevron napkin Gemma napkin vintage floral napkin

If you get a napkin with a lace trim, like the vintage floral on the right, you can just remove the trim with a seam ripper and incorporate in the place of piping on the pillow!

I love how cheap and easy it is. The napkins are perfect 20×20″ squares so you don’t have to worry about cutting. I added a zipper using this awesome tutorial from Design*sponge, but you could also create no-sew versions using this tutorial from Centsational Girl.

They go really well with the storage boxes I found on sale on the same World Market shopping trip…


…which have now found a place on the Expedit entertainment unit (now discontinued from IKEA).


And no, I haven’t really fully arranged the books and accessories yet. Chris still has to anchor the unit to the wall, and then I’ll really get my style on. In the meantime, there are a few random things (like the TV mount) sitting on the shelves.

Remember that Modern Family episode where Phil procrastinates anchoring the cabinet to the wall and then it falls during an earthquake? I feel like we might be heading for a repeat of that episode…

Fireplace Revamp


Here’s the promised post about how we took our fireplace from this:


To this:


Although we had lived with the old fireplace for a year and it had been doing just fine, we decided that since we had the flooring out and everything, we might as well reface the fireplace while we were at it.

First, Chris removed those awful builder-grade brass sconces and patched the drywall. We then painted the walls a lovely happy spring green and painted the fireplace mantel a bright white (instead of that yucky off-white color).


This already made a huge improvement in the space but after all the work we had given the rest of the room, the imitation slate tile on the fireplace was starting to look really dated and ugly. We decided to tile the fireplace surround.

So we made a quick run to Home Depot and picked up $100 worth of new tile. At first I was considering a penny or mosaic tile but Chris thought they looked too bathroom-y. We decided to go with a pretty light quartz ledgestone for the fireplace face (Desert Quartz Ledgestone, I can’t find the exact product again online but this one from Home Depot is almost an exact match) and a porcelain tile for the hearth that looks almost exactly like rough flagstone. Seriously, Chris’ Dad could hardly believe it was tile and not real stone.


Chris removed the old tile, which came off pretty easily. It had been mounted directly on the plywood and the fireplace face…which doesn’t seem very secure…that might explain why it came off so easily. Chris laid out the pattern on the floor so we were happy with the color distribution.



Chris and his dad mounted cement board onto the fireplace face and then screwed a piece of 1×4 to the cement board to act as an anchor for the top half of the tile (we didn’t want the tile sliding off before the Thinset dried!). After the top half of the fireplace was done we had to let it dry for 3 days while the Thinset cured, so Chris and his dad tiled the hearth, which was relatively simple (we’d had a bit of experience tiling the laundry room so we knew what to expect). The hearth was even easier because we didn’t have to cut any pieces to fit.


Here I am applying grout and buffing excess grout off the surface of the tile (that was kind of a chore because of the rough surface of the tile).


And then Chris finished tiling the face of the fireplace!


I love it. I think it looks so much more updated and cozy than before. Of course it will look nicer once it is styled and the surrounding carpet is in. We also need to cut some molding to cover those unsightly gaps on the bottoms of the wood pieces.

The surprising thing is that this project really didn’t take very long AT ALL. Especially compared to some of the other tedious long-term projects we’ve had going on around here. It took us two evenings, and a few days of drying time. AND it was cheap with a price point around $100. Just a little work and not a lot of money, but it makes a HUGE difference!

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