Monday, December 30, 2013

our first splash of paint

We did it, we picked a color, made the commitment and painted the whole dining room. WOOT!

Before I begin with the painting process, I wanted you to see where we started. Stage one included simply putting things in the room where they belong and making it look as homey as possible. You can see my attempt to look settled by setting the table and hanging one measly curtain in the far right window; my attempts were in vain. Stage two included adding some more furniture, hanging art and adding some substantial curtains. Definitely a step in the right direction but still unfinished and lacking in depth. The gold curtains and the mustard rug with all the wooden furniture left the room looking like a golden cave, a bit "dull" for our taste even with the white walls.

Before this dining room, the only rooms I had ever painted in full had been those in our previous two apartments. If I'm being completely honest, I didn't care much about straight lines because we only had to deal with my paint job for less than a year! I'm not saying that I did a terrible job painting in our apartments, it was still home for us after all, but trying to get a perfectly straight wall/ceiling line was virtually impossible.

This time I did my research, found out the best ways to edge in and paint and got the proper equipment. My favorite home renovation blog is Young House Love. They are full of such great ideas as they are working on their third house in about five years! They have tips and tricks for us first timers and they make us laugh in the process. Thankfully we were starting with white walls and while some people would still use primer, we decided to simply wipe down the walls and let the paint do the covering.

After I gathered everything I needed, I began edging in with my new brush and used my trim cup to make it easier to keep my paint close while laying on the floor for the baseboards and on a ladder for the molding! One thing that I learned from my "research" is to keep paint only on the edge of the brush that is facing the molding - that way there is a clean line and no worries about pulling paint and leaving some wall uncovered.


Let me just tell you that if you have small hands like I do this brush is PERFECT. I'm sure anyone can wield it well but with that small flexible silicone handle as well as the nice stiff bristles, it was made for small handed people like me - I was hard pressed to go "out of the lines!"

It took me about 7 hours to edge in and go back over all the borders of the room. It only took me about 2.5 more hours the next day to paint the full walls with a roller! Two coats was all it took for a nice clean finished look!

We are so happy with the paint and color that we chose: Benjamin Moore "White Water", Super Spec in Eggshell Finish. Not only is it a beautiful color that looks great in the room but we snagged it for a mere $10/gallon at our local paint shop due to a mis-order! The price might look prettier on the walls than the paint does, ha! 

After only about 10 hours of painting we are so satisfied with the final product... Drum roll please! 

We love it, it makes all the golds and browns in the room really pop and completely negates the gold cave feeling we were having before. What a welcome change!

We accomplished some big projects this past weekend and are looking forward to starting some more soon! If you want to keep up with what we are crossing off the list you can see all that we want to do and have already done here!

As always, thanks for reading and following along with us!

Until next time, Lindsey

Sunday, December 29, 2013

adding a kitchen shelf

When we retiled the kitchen to make way for the hood, we were left with a big open space between the counter and the newly installed hood. It looked much nicer than it had before we took the giant microwave out, but it was still missing a little character (and storage space). Lindsey keeps the oils, salt and pepper, etc. in a wooden box behind the cooktop but it has to be moved every time we cook so it doesn't burn... not a great situation. So she came up with a solution: since the inside of the cupboards had to be painted white anyway, she wanted to make a little addition of a shelf between the cupboards. Now, when she first suggested this to me I was worried about a full shelf over the cooktop, thinking that the heat wouldn't be a good idea under the shelf... understandable right!? (Lindsey says: "He often acts as my common sense, ha!") Once she made it clear that it was only to be about 4 inches deep I was on board!

It's fun to make something out of nothing even if it's a really simple project like this one. We felt somewhat more proud of this project than others because it was an idea that started in our minds and came out exactly as we wanted!

I started by measuring and using my awesome miter saw to cut the pieces that the shelf would rest on. Because it isn't a very wide space and the wood we were using was good quality we didn't need to anchor the middle of the shelf. The shelf is 3 3/8 inches deep (quite a random number but it was half of an existing scrap of wood) and about 34 inches long. 


I used a drill bit to make pilot holes in the wood blocks as well as the adjoining cupboards in order to make screwing in the screw a bit easier. My first block install went fine until I put the screw in - the wood split, proof that even "easy" projects can be a bit frustrating. I was thankful that this happened on my first go-round because I could start fresh! 


After I got the blocks flush to the bottom of the cabinets and attached with no splitting, it was smooth sailing. We had planned to just attach the shelf with liquid nails (our favorite adhesive so far) and start painting. The plan would have worked brilliantly had we not run into a slight leveling problem. It wasn't any measuring or installing on our part, the cabinets are actually about 1/4 inch off from one another and when you are looking at a long "straight" shelf that isn't straight - it's quite noticeable.

All we had to do was add a scrap of wood with the liquid nails, wait for that to dry and then putty in the gaps! Not really a whole lot of extra work, just some unexpected problem solving! 


Far left: liquid nails to hold left side of shelf, Middle left: liquid nails with added piece of scrap,
Middle right: caulking the gaps, Far right: the side with the added scrap has been filled and caulked

Once everything dried and the shelf was set into place, it was time for the first layer of paint. As you can see, Lindsey does all the "make it pretty" work as she is a bit better at it than I! We used Glidden eggshell white paint which matched the kitchen cabinets. After one layer of paint, it was very clear that more than one layer of paint was required and the "unfinished" edge of the shelf needed to be sealed between the first and second coats of paint. 

Once the putty sealed fully we were able to finish off the painting and "set up shop" with our new shelf; so far so good! 

We have had a busy weekend - just wait and see what we have coming up next. 

Thanks, as always, for reading and following along with Lindsey and I as we refinish and set up our home! 

Until next time, Rob

I just had to add on this picture that Lindsey took while I was cleaning some duct tape off our front window. Our dogs are so fun!

It's hard to see, but that is Oswin's silhouette and Harlee is down in the darkened left corner. 

Thursday, December 26, 2013

ding dong

Well here's the truth, we have a door bell that doesn't work at all. I don't know when this happened or if the people before us disconnected for a reason unknown (crazy dog, annoying noise, etc) or if one day the door bell just stopped working... all I know is that it surely doesn't work now.

This isn't a post to tell you how we got the doorbell to start working - hopefully one day we will be able to figure that out - but instead how we made the inside pieces a little more bearable to look at day in and day out!

When we moved in, the door bell was exposed in the hallway with no cover. After looking through all the closets and basement shelves, we did find the cover but it was discolored just like the thermostat we just replaced.

We figured that it was a silly thing to have missing but also silly to re-buy since the one we found in the house was perfectly useful, but unfortunately suffered from being the wrong color.

Nothing a little paint can't fix!

In retrospect, we should have taken a picture against something white because the cover doesn't look that bad here, but you'll have to believe us that it was ugly! Lindsey just used white acrylic paint and a sponge brush to paint over the plastic cover. It took about three coats for it to be smooth, without streaks.

Here you can see the difference between the top that Lindsey already painted and the original color on the sides.  She was using some old mail for her drop cloth since sometimes she says her actual drop cloth creates more of a mess than it's worth.

After three coats it was looking mighty fine and dried very quickly because she used acrylic paint; we always suggest going with acrylic for quick and easy projects - cuts drying time in half!

Once the cover was dry, all we had to do was hang it back on the wall. It simply hangs on the black chime box (as seen in the first picture) so it was no trouble at all to hang. Boy, what a nice change for the chime to be "hidden" on the wall instead of an eye-sore.

So simple and free, our favorite type of project!!!

Just a simple task that changes a wall.

Until next time, Rob and Lindsey

simple changes that make a big difference

WARNING: you're in for a long post today!

Sunday was a day filled with projects for Rob and I. We tackled some of the shorter, simpler projects that we had been delaying on because we never wanted to open the can of worms on these projects (which was silly because the proverbial cans were all so tiny). Well, now they are finished very nearly finished and what a difference some simple changes can make! Let me just tell you - things are feeling fresh at the Rebhan house - woot!

We completed three tasks:

1. filling nail holes from previous owners curtains, etc and our decor changes
2. taking the inner molding out of the old bedroom doorway (that is now the secondary entrance to the dining room)
3. repainting the inside of the front door and all of the door's trim

We started the day with projects one and two, three was added on as we started patching and painting and oh my, what a difference that painted door makes!

Project 1: 

There were lots and lots of holes around the house from temporary decor solutions and "mis-hung" pictures/frames, as well as from all the old curtain rods the previous owner had installed.

Now when I say "curtain rods", I use the term loosely because they were more the bracket and telescoping rod variety that end up being covered in six layers of paint before they are ever taken down or replaced. Needless to say, it was not easy to get the 10 brackets (whose screws were completely stripped) down off the wall.

Once we managed to get everything removed, we used putty to fill all the holes. I prefer the kind that goes on pink, that way I can and make sure that I filled everything properly. I also use my hands to apply it to the wall for nail holes, but a putty knife does come in handy when you are really trying to smooth out a divot!
After we spackled everything, we waited for all the pink to turn white and then we sanded away. It doesn't take much power to sand these little areas so we just used a couple scraps of sandpaper and hand-sanded. I always like to hold a damp paper towel under my spot sanding so I don't have to clean up after! After the sanding, I just painted over the holes and "waaaalaa!" clear white walls again. It really is the simple things.

Project 2:

When we took down the wall to create the walkway (you can see that project here) between the dining room and the living room, we also took down the old bedroom door. We figured that eventually we would refinish the doorway so it no longer looked like a doorframe, but a walk-through; no one would ever know what we had done (hee hee). Well we have been done with the walkway for about two months now and well, we just got around to refinishing the trim. Thankfully the way door frames are put together, it's not hard to take them apart!

Rob only needed a hammer, a crow bar and some sand paper to get this job done! Now that we have done some projects around the house, we always appreciate those that don't require many tools and tricks!

As you can see from the "action shot" above, a few swift hits with the hammer and that molding was popping right off. Sometimes it amazes me how easy it is to take apart a house, ha! It took Rob about five minutes to get the molding off the sides and top of the door frame. Once the big pieces were off he had to go back and get the little splinter leftovers that were being held on by the layers and layers of paint that doorway had seen over the years. As you can see in the picture below, there was a lot of paint scrap left behind!

Once Rob took all the scraps off, all that was left to do was sand! Again, it wasn't a job for the power sander; he was able to take the remaining paint bumps and smooth them out to be level with the frame just by hand sanding.

After that, all there was left to do was paint the frame white! For now, we have sanded down the hardware "holes" and have painted them white. We are eventually going to fill them with wood, putty and paint over them again but we didn't have time this go round. Honestly though, even though we have one more step in this project, we are happy that we got what we did out of the way - it already makes a big difference! We will take a picture of the finished project when all the paint has dried and the holes have been filled!

Project 3: 

Project three snuck up on me while I was doing project #1. I was painting over a hole next to the front door and it hit me how ugly and tan/brown/yellow the front door was - yuck! So without thinking twice I just ran my paint brush over the door and now, the rest is history as they say.

The lighting in these pictures isn't great but it doesn't take great lighting to see how ugly and dirty our front door looked from the inside... not only was the door an ugly tan color, the molding around the windows (which is plastic, ew) was completely yellowed from years of sun and wear. I had never painted a door before so I wasn't about to try and paint around all the knobs and locks. After removing the lock and door handle, I also removed the plastic frame from the inside.

Here is an up close view of the window molding... can we all say it together now? EW! So yellow and so dated looking because of it. To be completely honest, I hadn't really looked twice at the front door before because there were other things to be done - but boy am I glad I looked a little closer on Sunday. After removing all the molding, I painted the door with a paintbrush for two coats and then rollered on the third coat to make it nice and smooth! I used an eggshell white that I had laying around the house - same as the walls - so it just blends right in!

I didn't want to hand paint the molding, figuring the plastic would get all streaky and that would frustrate me to no end. So I chose to spray paint... I love spray paint! Let me re-phrase, I LOVE spray paint, but I hate the spray paint that I chose for this project. It had a terrible sprayer and my table in the basement as well as my arm got covered in paint. boo!

Even though it was messy, it was worth it because the frames look 100x better than before! So crisp and clean, with a little sheen to boot!

After letting the spray paint and the door dry for about two hours while we went out and celebrated with some friends on their engagement (shout out to Jordan and Danielle, congrats you guys!!), we were ready to put the door back together
The window glass is actually just held between the two plastic panes (one on the outside and one on the inside) with a bunch of screws, so the process to take it apart and put it back together is not a hard one! 

After everything was put back together, it was an amazing difference! What was once blah and brown is now crisp and clean! Thank goodness for a little white paint :)

We hope that you all had a wonderful Christmas with your family and loved ones and we wish you a prosperous new year! As always, thank you for following along with us! 

Until next time, Lindsey and Rob

Friday, December 20, 2013

out with the old

For a while now, every time we would walk by the "Nest" display at any store Rob would express his intense interest in having this new thermostat for our home. I mean, yeah the thing looks a LOT better than the old yellowing one that we have on our crisp white wall in the hallway but who needs a thermostat that learns your patterns? Well we did I guess.

After receiving a generous gift to the Home Depot from one of my (Lindsey's) aunts as a housewarming gift, we went to the HD to buy some salt and a new snow shovel (without-a-huge-crack) to deal with the recently fallen snow. Well we weren't the only ones who thought to do the same thing that day; when we got there this past Sunday evening, there were no shovels left. So on our way out with only some puppy friendly ice melter, we passed by the Nest display once again. It didn't take long to weigh out that since we had the gift card (that would take care of practically half the cost), the updated look would give the hallway a quick pick-me-up, and not to mention the Nest would save us money on our energy bills - it was a good time to finally get the Nest. The nerd inside of Rob was pleased.
Sometimes when I look at something that is small but can do so many things, I get overwhelmed thinking that the task is going to be hard. Thankfully, I was totally wrong this time. Everything you need is in the well-designed package and it installs with no problem. You even check the compatibility with your system before you break the plastic seal on the package so there will be no problem returning the unit, very thoughtful Nest team, thanks!!
As you can see here the lovely unit that we had before was sparkly and shiny dull as can be. It may have been cool back in it's day but those days are long gone. The dingey color didn't help the poor thermostat one bit; honestly, it just didn't stand a chance of lasting too long in the house.
After shutting off the power to the hallway and the HVAC unit, Rob detached the wires. Ours were color coded which made life really easy. Once the old unit was down, it was just a jumble of curly wires sticking out of the wall. To attach the nest, you use two screws (provided) and the level that is built into the unit's base (we thought this was so clever!!). Once attached to the wall you insert the wires into the correct latches and away you go.
I wanted to give you a visual of how the wires pinched into the appropriate places. Obviously, the wires were bent to fit into the rectangular area, but we didn't take a picture of that step so here is just a representation. Forgive the quick edit!

Unfortunately for me and my paintbrush, the nest is much smaller than the thermostats of days gone by. When the old unit came down and the Nest went up we were left with paint drippings and holes and just a mish-mash of ugly wall (see the photo above). It would have been a short little project with some sanding and white paint etc. but just wasn't something that I had thought of prior to this install. Well, the Nest team must have known people like me wouldn't think ahead because as I was dipping my paintbrush to paint, Rob offered up a wall plate that comes with the Nest. PERFECT! A crisp white wall plate that actually made me like the Nest more than before.
All in all, I just have to say that I am most impressed with the quality of the unit itself as it has already started to learn our habits only five days after install and the thought that went into the packaging (seriously, a built in level, people!) It was also fun to finally have something that Rob had wanted since we were in the home buying process!

It's only been about a week but I would definitely recommend this product to anyone. It's so simple to set up and it feels a tad bit futuristic, making anyone feel cool! ha!

As always, we had our little helpers who just like to remind us that they are there and require mid-project "pet-me-please" breaks! ;)

Thanks for keeping up with us! Until next time, Lindsey and Rob (Oswin and Harlee too!!)

Monday, December 9, 2013

it's the most wonderful time of the year

Christmas is one of the most charming times of the year. It was so fun decorating our new home to make it reflect the holiday cheer that we love being a part of. We put the tree up the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the earliest we've ever decorated, but we were so eager we just couldn't wait! It was fun to find a full sized tree this year, we've never had one before - it was cold and we weren't prepared for the wait outside but we had fun while we waited!

We picked a Frasier Fur, a type of tree we have grown up with, and while they were trimming our tree to fit into the stand I was able to get some extra branches for our front porch pot. If your Christmas tree spot lets you take the extras it's a great way to save about 30$ on front porch decorations! 

After we rearranged the furniture a bit to make room for the tree, we were able to light her up and decorate with our eclectic bunch of ornaments that remind us of very fun memories of the past! For fillers on the tree I always shop the after Christmas sales, that way we can have a fully decorated tree without paying an exorbitant amount of money for the ornaments, garlands and lights (Target is usually my go-to for Christmas sales!)

I found a nice looking fake wreath for only 8$ and was able to decorate it for "nothing" with purchases I had made in the past (woo hoo sales!) I didn't have to use anything to secure the garland (it is just tucked between pieces of the wreath) and the two "love birds" are just sitting atop with their toes for balance. 

We don't have any type of a mantel so we hang our stockings with care on the buffet we use as a tv stand! The stockings are cute pottery barn stockings that we received as a christmas present the year we were engaged - thank you New Jersey Brands! 

I was able to change the table scape just by adjusting the arrangement and adding a filler to some of the vases. Everything was either purchased at salvation army or was at a huge discount (I think I got the two candle sticks for $12 each from Anthropologie!) I always just try and move things around with my dining room table so that I don't have to find storage for the pieces I'm not using and so I don't have to buy more decorations! The pheasant feathers are actually from pheasants when we went out hunting a while back! 

The dogs don't mind the tree one bit and haven't tried to eat any of the ornaments - thank goodness! They even have their own stockings that hang over their food bowls! Maybe they will wake up on Christmas morning to find a special treat! 

The littlest things can add to the holiday cheer around a home. We don't have the ability or space in our pocketbooks to change our whole home decor when Christmas comes around, so I make little additions and changes that can easily be manipulated into the scheme of our home! The little Santa was a housewarming present (thank you Aunt Mary!), the bells were $2 last year at Target's after Christmas sale, and the metal trees were a hand me down from Rob's mom (thank you Kristin!) Decorating for the Holidays doesn't have to break the bank, you just have to think ahead in order to save some green!! 

Well that's all for now! Merry Christmas everyone! 

Until next time, Lindsey