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Bathroom Dreams Come True

My Bathroom Nightmares have come to an end!

Since we last visited this room, we’ve added a fresh medicine cabinet and vanity from Ikea, as well as all of the necessary trimmings.

At the end of the day, we created a bold new bathroom for about $600-$700 – including: new toilet, new vanity and sink, new medicine cabinet, paint and décor (this did not include the electrical work of moving/rewiring the outlet, since we had a LOT of electrical upgrades done besides just this one room).

Ooooh...brushed nickel fixtures!

Ooooh…brushed nickel fixtures!

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Finally, we added in the other bathroom necessities (shower curtain, towels, etc).

All done! (Sorry the shower curtain one is a little fuzzy... hard to tell on a phone camera! :)

All done! (Sorry the shower curtain one is a little fuzzy… hard to tell on a phone camera! 🙂

All done! (Sorry the shower curtain one is a little fuzzy...but, you get the gist!) :)

I don’t believe a room is ever truly finished, because a home is a dynamic place filled with constant change. But I can safely say that we can shift our focus to other rooms and projects… for now. Overall, it just feels great to say that we are satisfied with another room! All of our hard work is starting to pay off.

So, what do you think? Would you have saved the pink?


Kitchen Capers

The kitchen has been an interesting space from the very beginning of this journey.

I just wasn’t sure how I would like a kitchen that is part of the dining area and not it’s own separate room, but that’s what I got, and so we had to do some quick thinking about how to make it work for us.

Here’s what we started out with:

The original kitchen (Notice the three different shades of cabinets...)

The original kitchen (Notice the three different shades of cabinets…)

We pretty much knew from the start that these cabinets had to go. They were sticky with years of cooking grease, cigarette smoke residue and storing not-totally-clean dishes.

Since we inherited allllllll of the contents of this kitchen (and the whole house… a story for another time) when we bought it, I did find a few useful items – including a nice set of Corningware and a few pieces of Pyrex that are in great shape! Definite win.

As we dismantled the kitchen, we uncovered some interesting drawings and layers of  wallpaper that I am sure was the bees knees at the time it was applied.


Anyway, here is what our naked kitchen looked like:

All of the dark spots are dried blobs of glue that the former owners used to make *extra* sure that the cabinets wouldn't fall off the wall...

All of the dark spots are dried blobs of glue that the former owners used to make *extra* sure that the cabinets wouldn’t fall off the wall…

We also took down the weird box-like alcove made of paneling that housed the refrigerator and turned the fridge to face the back door. The aim here was to create a flow from back-to-front and minimize walls and obstacles. When you have a small house (like ours at 15′ x 30′) you’ve got to try to keep things light and open!

See the floating light switch? You better believe I've already walked into it...more than once... time for that hazard to GO!

See the floating light switch? You better believe I’ve already walked into it…more than once… time for that hazard to GO!

Because the walls of our house are actually poured concrete, moving outlets around is no easy task… Thankfully, my dad is very handy and knew just what to do. He installed thin studs along the concrete wall which would allow the electrician to run new wires for outlets, which we could then cover with drywall and hang the cabinets.

So smooth! Like a real wall!

So smooth! Like a real wall!

This had the added benefit of giving us a smooth surface to work with (as opposed to having to smooth out the glue that had held the tile (plastic tile! why?!?) in place and fill in any large screw and nail holes from the previous cabinets).

As for the cabinets, we chose white cabinets and doors in LIDINGO White – from our favorite Swedish megastore. 🙂

In the beginning I made a hard push for grey cabinets (They just looked so sexy in the Ikea display! Can cabinets be sexy? I say yes.) but Pete made a good argument, citing that the white would help bring more light into the room – a BIG priority for us since the wood paneling had made everything so dark and claustrophobic before.

The nice thing about getting a kitchen from Ikea is that they have a free online kitchen design program that you can use to create a 3D template of your kitchen and then place their cabinets in different formats to see what works best for your space. I came up with three or four different combinations before I came up with one that we both liked (and even that changed slightly when we went to the store to place the order… sometimes you just need to see things in person).

Ikea has an awesome 3D kitchen design program - and it's Free!

Ikea has an awesome 3D kitchen design program – and it’s Free!

Finally, it was time to paint and install the cabinets. We hung the top cabinets first, and then we laid the floor tile. We got laminate tile from Home Depot that was super easy to install because it sticks together… only took about an hour!

Helloooo 39" cabinets!

Helloooo 39″ cabinets!

Peel-and-stick laminate floor tiles... you'd never know!

Peel-and-stick laminate floor tiles… you’d never know!

Finally, it was time for the bottom cabinets.

Bottom's up!

Bottom’s up!

And then… the countertop.



Sidebar: You know you’re a grown up when the anticipation over getting a counter installed in your kitchen is the highlight of your month. Despite the cost, it was a very gratifying experience to see this project come to fruition. And now I get to use it!

Just one week later, with some help from my dad, we had the stove back in place, handles on the cabinets and drawers, and a working faucet!

Behold, a kitchen masterpiece:

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And to think it all started with this…


So, what do you think? Yay or Nay on the white cabinets?

Have you ever designed/installed an Ikea kitchen?

Bathroom Nightmares

The bathroom in this house was my biggest nemesis when choosing whether to save or demo.

Here’s what it looked like when we bought it:
(and yes, all of the toiletries were still in there, too)

Notice the blue rugs and red, white and green drop ceiling. Um...What?!?!

Notice the blue rugs and red, white and green drop ceiling. Um…What?!?!


Opposite wall view…sooo many towel bars!

Plenty of ideas were thrown around, from complete demolition to just getting the tiles re-glazed in another color or just plain white. Since the tiles were in good shape, it seemed a shame to tear them out (not to mention the huge cost to replace them). Plus, something about that pink tile got me thinking…

After some creative Googling, I stumbled across several pink bathroom renovation ideas that were actually really great. I also found a website called Save The Pink Bathrooms ( which pays homage to the nostalgia that these rosy wonders hold – There is even a corresponding Flickr account with reader-contributed images of pink & vintage bathrooms from around the country – fun!

I was fascinated, and declared (to my boyfriend’s dismay) that the peachy-pink tile was going to stay.

So, here’s what we’ve done so far:

First, we removed all of the ugly rugs, storage containers, shelves and the drop ceiling (which was covering a wonderful vaulted ceiling and skylight with a damper for ventilation, since there is no built-in fan).

Then, we removed the yellowy marbled paneling that covered the walls above the tile. Some may argue that this marbled paneling was part of the original character of the bathroom (1950s chic), but it simply couldn’t be saved. The former owner had drilled/nailed/glued too many things into it, and when we removed all of the shelves and hooks the leftovers were not pretty. (Read: It-used-to-be-white marbled paneling. Gross!)

We let my dad remove the medicine cabinet since it was hooked up to wiring (we don’t mess with anything electrical – safety first!).

Bathroom with primed walls (looking better already)!

Bathroom with primed walls (looking better already)!


There used to be two towel bars on the door. One day, I tore one off in a fit of rage!
Just kidding…the door sticks and I grabbed it for leverage. Almost as good…

Once the bathroom was stripped down to just the bare walls, tiles and floor, we installed a new toilet and got the walls primed.

The paint color was a tough choice, but we ultimately decided on grey. Why? Because we wanted to neutralize the bold tile color a little bit and give the room a cooler, more modern feel.

Ooooh. So smooth looking!

IMG_9767IMG_6951 Ooooh. So smooth looking!

So that’s where we stand with the (formerly) nightmare bathroom. It’s almost there! I’ll keep you posted on the finishing touches.

Next Up: We’ll add a fresh medicine cabinet, a smaller vanity and some bathroom essentials. (Shower curtain, anyone?)

In the meantime, what do you think?

Have you ever had to find a way around a built-in feature (like pink tile) that you weren’t sure about? What was the result?

Want to keep reading? Part II: Bathroom Dreams Come True

#GetGutsy – How 2013 Changed My Life

To say 2013 was a big year for me would be a little understatement, I think.

2013 was a Life-changing year. (Yep… that sounds about right!)

See our pretty house? We'll get to that later....

So, here I am – a 24-year-old homeowner.

Buying a house was by far my biggest accomplishment this year, and definitely one to be proud of! My boyfriend and I looked at over 30 houses, had to switch realtors at one point, and have continued to overcome challenges from the day we placed the offer, through settlement and even now with the renovations we are undertaking… but every day we’re one step closer to being in our home sweet home!

In 2013, I also accomplished running my first 5k (thanks to the Couch-to-5k running app). I never thought I could do it, but I did! Now, I can run up to about 5 miles at a time and I’m not done yet… One of my 2014 goals is to run Broad Street (10mi) in May!

My friend Meg and I after the Phillies 5k - fun!

My friend Megen and me after the Phillies 5k – fun!

Also, I lost over 30lbs this year (thanks to WeightWatchers and my new found love for running…and fresh veggies!) Pretty crazy, right? Sure feels like it!

November 2012 (left), November 2013 (right)...coincidentally wearing the same shirt!

November 2012 (left), November 2013 (right)…coincidentally wearing the same shirt!

If it was not for my good friend Jessica and her constant blogging about getting gutsy, setting goals and sharing all of the details, I may have never quantified just how much I accomplished this year. Now it’s here for you to read (and hopefully get inspired by).

For me, “Getting Gutsy” is about more than stepping outside of your comfort zone. It’s about making a tough decision and sticking to it, despite all of the challenges and frustrations that might come your way. (Let me tell you about the actual process of buying a house sometime… think it’s pretty simple? Think again.) Personally, it’s more meaningful to me when I stick to my guns on a project – even if it fails – than trying something and then giving up halfway in because it doesn’t seem like it’s going to work out.

Don’t get me wrong – trying new things is gutsy – but trying, failing, and then trying again is even more so.

Of course, it’s also about embracing fear and living to tell about it (I mean, me? A runner!? Who was I kidding?). Sometimes the biggest thing that I fear is just how other people will react to what I’m thinking of doing, which can be so discouraging that I end up not even trying.

Well, no more of that!

In 2014, I’m going to be even more daring with my attempts at DIY home renovations and decorating, which will be the main focus of this blog. I’ve been taking tons of photos of everything we’ve done so far and I can’t wait to share it all with you and hear your feedback and ideas!

Here’s wishing you a happy, healthy and gutsy 2014!

Getting gutsy is all about stepping outside your comfort zone to reach your goals. I’m participating in Jessica Lawlor’s #GetGutsy Essay Contest. To get involved and share your own gutsy story, check out this post for contest details.