The Pergola

I really wanted some sort of structure on my deck. Actually, I really want a 4-season-porch, but that’s not happening this year. I thought about buying another metal canopy like the one I have down by the pool, but the wind makes me nervous. I’m pretty sure the frame would get twisted and trashed in just one season.

I pinned ideas. I watched YouTube videos. I drew my plan.


I wasn’t sure about the roof part on my first trip to the hardware store. I was really intrigued by the clear roofing material that would provide protection from the rain, but didn’t quite understand how to build my pergola with a slant to have the rain flow off of that kind of a roof. For my first trip, I ended up just getting the frame. I would decide on the type of roof later. Building a pergola isn’t really a 1-person job, but I did it and it only took me 1.5 days (with rain delays)!

Day 1 – Trip #1 to Home Depot: braces, legs and the perimeter of the roof.

Day 1 – Trip #2 to Home Depot: roof boards, and string lights.



Day 1 – Trip 3 to Home Depot: We had a storm come through. I hadn’t bolted anything prior to the storm. The pergola was still held together with just screws. It started to lean and I started to freak out. We had straight winds and rain and I scurried to get scrap boards to screw the pergola to the deck posts. I needed more braces and bolts! On this last trip to Home Depot, I’m positive that I showed up looking like a crazy person. I got what I needed and was on the deck adding bolts and braces to the pergola until 10pm!


Day 2: Finish adding all bolts and additional supports, including a bench that ties the pergola to a deck footer. Add curtains using pvc for the rod. The PVC and curtains are from my Pinterest fail project last year.


I’ll stain it later on, but the wood needs to weather a bit first…


I’m Addicted to Temporary Wallpaper

I was hesitant to go as bold as this gold and white chevron in my entry. After I had put it up I wondered if it was a little bit too much. I decided to give it some time to grow on me. It’s fun, under $50, very easily replaceable, and takes just an hour or two.

I also used temporary wallpaper as an accent to my south-facing walls. This paper makes me feel so fancy and is so much more interesting than paint.

The brick wallpaper was my first experience putting wallpaper up vs. spending a million years tearing it off of walls either in my own prior homes or helping friends. I guess you can say it was addicting. I put it inside the cupboards as well to make it look as if the brick goes to the ceiling. 😀

The last wallpaper that I’ve used was in my bathroom renovation. I was originally going to buy a busier print from a store on etsy, but found this pattern/color on sale at Target and couldn’t pass up the deal.

You never have to worry about the commitment or your resale value. Just put it up, enjoy it and take it down when you need a change!

Bathroom Renovation: DIY Vessel Sinks

I don’t know a lot about vessel sinks, or at least I didn’t when I started looking at them. I do know that they come in a variety of shapes and materials. They’re also pretty expensive and local hardware stores like Lowe’s and Home Depot don’t really carry much of a selection.

The vessel sinks that I really liked were stone or concrete like this one.

concrete sink

When I was out shopping for storage containers for the vanity, I found wooden bowls that were a perfect size for a vessel sink. And, because the bowls were wooden, I would be able to drill a drain hole without worrying about cracking them.

The bowls were $19.99 each and the concrete is something that I already had at home.


I drilled the hole before applying the first layer of concrete skim. I had to do a Google search to see what size the hole needed to be. There were too many experts saying not to drill a hole until you have your drain, so I was stuck. Once again I couldn’t move on with the project I wanted to do because something else needed to be done first.

I headed to drop kiddo #2 off at baseball and found a faucet and drain set (they are not always sold together) that I liked at Home Depot. I went up to customer service and had them open the faucet box for me so that I could put the drill bit up to the drain. I wasn’t going to risk having to go back. I wanted this bathroom done! The drill bit was also going to need to be drilling pretty deep through the bowl and the countertop. It needed to be steady, unlike what a paddle bit would have ended up doing. I think this is called a core bit.

core bit.jpg

Okay, the bowls had their drain holes drilled out and I was ready to concrete. I used a spatula to smear it around. It took about 30 minutes to dry enough for me to sand it down a bit before applying a second coat.


You can see that a bit of the wood showed through after sanding the first coat down.


The concrete that I was using is fast drying skim coat or what some call feather finish. So far, I used it on my kitchen island, my old bathrooom sink, my bathroom floor and now on my vessel sinks. If you’re looking for tips and tricks, you can check those out!

I was ready to set the bowls on the vanity, insert the drill bit to go through the bowl and through the countertop. After that, I also drilled a hole for the faucet and was finally closer to finally getting the plumbing hooked up! It had been quite a few weeks since I first started this bathroom demolition and although I had power, I was still brushing my teeth in the kitchen. 😀




Bathroom Renovation: Custom Built Vanity

I always have resale value on my mind when I’m making updates to my home. Double sinks in a bathroom is a no brainer.

I was overwhelmed by a few things when looking at vanities:

  • Some vanities come with countertops and some do not
  • Some countertops come with sinks and some do not
  • Some sinks come with faucets and some do not
  • Some faucets come with drains and some do not

Just when I thought that I’d found what I wanted, I would find something that added too much to the price. Also, I really liked vanities that looked like dressers, but they were too deep. I wanted something that left my small bathroom feeling as spacious as possible. I was also constrained by length.

After visiting the spa…KIDDING… After having seen spas on TV, I decided that I could keep with my DIY theme and build my own vanity. I found a super kitchen island DIY post that I thought would work perfectly.

island vanity.jpg

The only thing that I had to do differently was to make it the width and height that I wanted for my bathroom. Building custom was perfect because like I mentioned before, I wanted my vanity to be a bit less deep than a traditional vanity. I also wanted to make it a bit taller than a custom vanity (which I ended up shortening the legs a bit after realizing that the vessel sinks added overall height).


Vanity Legs

Once the legs were even and I was sure there wasn’t going to be any wobbling, like when you’re at a restaurant and have to put sugar packets under a table leg, I moved them into the bathroom to get a visual of where I wanted them before cutting the shelf boards.

This step was so smart! I’m so glad I did it because this is when I realized that adding vessel sinks was going to add too much height. I took it back out of the bathroom and cut the legs down a few inches.


Once I had my height, width and depth correct, I had stained it with gel stain. I planned on painting the shelves white, but was so excited to start seeing how storage containers and other bathroom essentials would fit that I didn’t get the painting done before I had moved my remaining gear in. Remember, I removed a closet in this bathroom! I threw away lotions, perfumes and a bunch of 1/2 empty bottles that I had hoarded for far too long. I was so curious to see how my remaining things were going to fit with just a few shelves for storage.


The countertop on this custom vanity is from an old barn. It’s a 19 inch wide piece of wood! Can you imagine what that tree was like!? I brought it home, sanded the dirt off and pounded a few of the old nails in a bit further so it was a smoother surface. If you’re not fascinated by old wood, I’m sure the picture below won’t leave you oooh’ing or awww’ing. BUT, if you’re like me, I was (and still am) completely in love with how beautiful this is!


Before I drilled any holes, I made sure that everything matched up. Can you imagine having your countertop holes drilled for your vessel sinks and then later learning that they didn’t line up under the light fixtures?! Once I drilled the holes, there was no running to the store for another piece of wood like this. This was it, so I had to be extra careful to get it right. Scary! I placed my bowls, that were going to be my vessel sinks, on the countertop. Hmmm… I realized I needed to drill the holes in the wooden bowls before I could drill the holes in the countertop.

I prefer to finish one job before hopping to the next, but it seems that with every project I do, there are other projects that I have to do before finishing the one that I was originally working on.

Stay tuned for the final vanity! I must move on to the DIY vessel sinks before I can finish this.


Bathroom Renovation: Painted Concrete Flooring

The electrical was up and running and I haven’t mentioned this yet, but I couldn’t bring myself to also demolish the tile floor. When I was finished tearing down the tile walls, I didn’t have it in me to even attempt to jack hammer the tile floor out.

The fact that I was so pooped out from removing the walls wasn’t the *only* reason that I didn’t remove the tile floor. I had an idea!

The flooring where the vanity and closet were wasn’t level with the tile. Before I could do anything, I had to raise that part of the floor to be even with the tile. I knew about self-leveling concrete and decided to give it a try.

You can see the area that I had to fill in. I followed the directions on the back of the bag and used my kool-aid spoon in my drill to mix it up with.

It didn’t take long to dry at all. Once it was dry, I sanded it and had my blank slate for the plan that I had.

Layer #1 of concrete skim. Note: look at all of that tile in the air vent! 😮


Layer #2 of concrete skim. You can see that getting the grout lines to disappear was not as easy as I thought it was going to be…


I didn’t want to try and concrete around the base of the toilet, so I had to lift that off of the toilet hole thing and get under it. I’d never removed a toilet before. I knew it was possible, but I was definitely out of my comfort zone and horribly surprised by a big blob of yellow stuff under there. Nas-tay!


Very patiently, I would apply another layer of concrete skim coat, let it dry, sand it, vacuum, and then apply another layer. It only took about 30-60 minutes for each layer to dry. The sanding made my arms feel like noodles. I got the power sander out after a few rounds of hand sanding, but because the coats were so thin, the power sander made me feel too nervous to keep using it.

You can see the two different concrete colors here. The lighter color is the self-leveling concrete. The darker is the concrete skim coat. At this point the floor was ready for the final step!


I’d thought about stamping the concrete to look like wood planks, but I couldn’t find a stamp. Professionals have amazing stamps, and they cost a few hundred bucks… I had a tiny tool that is used for faux paint treatments that I tried to use in the wet concrete, but it was definitely not the right tool for the job and wasn’t going to do what I wanted it to. You can see in the picture below where I’d tried to use my little tool to do the job.


There are a few things that I’m really good at. I don’t know how or why I’m really great at painting and staining. Somehow, I understand how to mix paints and stains on and use them on surfaces that are out of the ordinary. I’m not always pleased with the outcome, but I imagine any artist isn’t always pleased with their work.

I got started at about 7pm and by 9pm I was done!


I used nearly every kind of paint including: oil, water, chalk, gloss, matte… It was all remnants from prior projects that I’d completed. Once I painted a plank, I would run this tool through the paint to create a wood look.

Wood Grain Tool

Finally, I added the concrete sealer and called it a night!





Bathroom Renovation: Electrical

Forget about the fact that I had to brush my teeth in the kitchen sink. This post is about not having any power for lights, blow dryers, or straightening irons. Once I was done with demolition, I needed to think about power. Since it was a fairly small job, or so I thought, I called an electrician to give me a quote. I needed a few wires re-rerouted and was happy to pay somewhere in the range of $200-$300.

The quote was $2000! This was it. The wires that are surrounded by boards needed to be re-routed to run down the wall next to the doorway. Bonus if they could throw in adding a second vanity light box because I was putting in double sinks. I thought that if their quote for the second light box was going to be over budget that I would do that part myself.


I decided to do this myself. There is NO way that this job would take very long. I knew it would take me longer than a professional, but I’m a budget backwards kind of gal. If it’s going to take longer and cost less, that’s the direction I will take almost every time. I unhooked the wires, grabbed my ladder and climbed into the attic.

I labeled each of the wires as I unhooked them because I wanted to be sure to get them fished through in the correct order. I didn’t have a lot of length to spare with the wires and didn’t want to end up with the light fixture being too far up on the wall.


I got the wires reassembled and tested them out. I had light! I had a fan! I had everything working just as it should… kind of. The fan was on a timer, which is supposed to be for the heat lamp that’s on the ceiling. I must have crossed some wires. Easy fix…

I got the heat light and the fan switched so that they worked correctly and went to get a snack. The kitchen light fixture didn’t work…

This was starting to get really fricking frustrating *and* I was supposed to be baking for a fundraiser for my son’s baseball steak fry the next day.

I was up and down the ladder into the attic, swimming through nasty insulation throughout the entire day. Just when I fixed something, I ended up breaking something else. I’m familiar with software development and this was *exactly* like fixing software bugs. You fix one bug and you end up creating 2 more somewhere else.

By the end of the day, I had all of the mysteries solved, but it did take me over 8 hours from start to finish, including adding a second junction box for a double vanity.




Bathroom Renovation: Demo Day

It was winter in MN and I’d had a full pot of coffee to keep warm on that January morning. I had no intentions of doing anything that day other than surfing Pinterest and having a Netflix marathon. That’s a perfect recipe for what was about to happen…


I had given my bathroom an updo last summer, but it wasn’t really me and still felt dated. If I were going to flip my home, which I’m always thinking about, this bathroom would not pass as having been truly updated. The floor to ceiling tile had to go. I didn’t have a plan, other than getting rid of everything so that I had a fresh canvas to work with. I had to get down to the studs.


I had to get the closet, the vanity, and the mirror all out of there…

I swung my hammer over and over. I unhooked the plumbing and was left sitting on the toilet (as a chair) staring at a huge mess. I was also staring into my bedroom through the 2nd doorway. By the end of the day, I was wondering what the hell I had just done. I was so exhausted, but not too exhausted to have a brilliant idea! I had to move that doorway.

Top 3 reasons to move a doorway:

  1. You are visible from the street (through the bedroom window) when you’re sitting on the toilet.
  2. You are visible from the street (through the bedroom window) when you’re stepping out of the shower.
  3. The door swings open, into the bathroom space, leaving just 1 inch between the door and the toilet.


This is what the pass-through door from my bedroom into the bathroom looked like from inside my bedroom. The brown door was where the doorway was. Note: that door was a curbside find. I tried to make it a sliding barn door with plumbers pipe. It was fine, but made an awful screeching noise when you would slide it open or closed. The new doorway is going to be over to the other side of my bathroom and will make so much more sense!


Remember the part about me not having a plan when I all of a sudden demolished my bathroom? I was beginning to realize that I needed one, and electrical was going to be where I needed to start.



Orange Wood-Cave Goes Polar Bear White

I could see the potential for this space when I was first looking at the house. It was obvious that the prior owners made updates, once upon a time. The woodwork was extensive and included the entire perimeter of the basement. You can see there is also crown molding and built-ins. The TV built-in has been redone, but the mini-fridge built-in is something that is still on my to-do list.

You can see, it was like an orange wood 80’s showroom down there. Easy fix, that I knew was going to take a long time. I wasn’t going to be able to use a roller for most of it because of all of the grooves, trim work and cutting in.

I used liquid sand paper to wipe it all down with before painting. I’d used it before on my banisters, railings and kitchen cabinets and it works really well. It’s the consistency of water. I use a wash cloth to apply it and then wipe back over the areas with mild soapy water to remove the white film that it leaves after it dries. Wear gloves. I’m not sure, but I think this would eat your skin off.


Once the glossyness was removed from the woodwork, I used Behr paint with primer. Even with that, I needed to go back and do 3 full coats of paint to cover up all of the wood.


Around the same time that I was painting the basement, I also found out that my Amazon Prime membership has music that I can listen to! I found an 80’s station, cranked the Billy Joel and Michael Jackson and got to work. Time was flying until it was 9 hours later and I still wasn’t done. I knew this was going to be a big job, but I’d estimated 1 day and it was definitely going to take longer than that.

I don’t know if the fumes started to get to me or what, but I decided to try a faux finish to make it look like grey barn wood. Holy crap. That was a big NOPE! You can see in this picture that I was also dealing with how to paint the bottom trim without getting paint on the carpet. I ended up pulling the carpet up and then tacking it back down when I was done painting.


Similar to when I was painting my kitchen, I started to wonder if I should also be painting the window trim. I didn’t want to add another day to this project, but decided that I had to do the window trim, too…


I spent a total of 400 years painting the basement. It included the panels, the windows, the crown molding and all of those wooden light fixture plates. Thank goodness I learned about the 80’s station on Amazon to help get me through it!


Bifold Closet Door Updo

Bifold doors hate me…and the feeling is mutual. They never glide nicely and they take up a lot of space when they’re open. I’ve also had my fair share of struggles getting them jammed and having to try to get them back on their rails.

I lived without my closet doors on for nearly a year, but the task of putting them on was something that I knew was going to test my patience. I had to take them off when I replaced my flooring. The hardware that holds the bottom of the bifold door on had to be removed for me to lay the wood planks.

It took me several weekends to get the doors rehung. I had to keep walking away because my patience was exhausted. Just when I’d think that they were hung correctly, I would hop down off of the chair, test the opening and closing of the door and it would pop back off. So many f-words.

Finally, the shitty, hollow core bifold doors were hung – and secure. They added absolutely nothing good to the room other than the fact that there were doors on my closet.

I headed to Pinterest for ideas of what to do. I bought inexpensive full length mirrors, screwed them to the doors and painted it all white.


The doors took layer after layer after layer of paint, I had to come back to it at least 4 different times. When it was done, the white and the mirrors really made the room feel bigger.


I was standing back looking at it and started thinking about dressing rooms in stores. They always have hooks that you can hang clothes on outside of the doors. I went to Hobby Lobby to look at hardware and found some hooks that I added to the space above the mirrors.


This project was really not a big deal as far as DIY goes and cost less than $50. Anybody can do it!

The best thing is that I hate my bifold doors a lot less now and like that when the doors are opened, I’m able to see the back of myself – like when you’re in a dressing room.


Before and After Bifold Doors