Pinterest Fail: PVC Pipe Pergola

What the hell was I thinking? Summer temperatures had hit and I had ants in my pants to create a backyard oasis. I didn’t have any yard furniture, my deck was in shabby shape and desperately needed stain, and my pool was green. As always, I was on Pinterest looking for fun DIY projects that I could do on my own to spiff it all up for as little cash as possible.

I found a ton of pins with PVC used to build pergola-types of enclosures. You use plumbers pipe attachments to screw it down. It all seemed so easy and looked great in the pictures! I’d even found a way to make the PVC look like wood!

I headed to get my materials, in my tiny car. I had the PVC cut at Home Depot because my car can only fit things that are 9 feet long or less from dash to hatch. 😀


The painting and staining was really similar to what I’d already done on my garage door and front door. I literally used the same materials and it turned out okay.

So far, I was still pleased with the project. I got all of the poles up and headed to the fabric store. I sewed a top hem on each of the panels to hang them up. The fabric was WAY more expensive than I had planned at $400.00! The price for the fabric is when I started to realize that I should probably have done something different than this Pinterest PVC Pergola thing, but I was in too far with the project at this point. I got the curtains hung and added string lights.


OMG. What had I built? It wasn’t good. It looked like I was either hosting a wedding or a witch gathering. It was even worse when I’d come home from work after a rainy and windy day and found it had come apart, leaving $400 of wet fabric on the deck, mixed in mud from plants that it had knocked down.

By then I’d also gotten a glimpse of what this looked like from the street as I drove up to my house. This thing was embarrassing from every angle and I had to take it down…kind of.

I really loved the string lights on at night, so I left 3 poles up. They held the string lights up and it didn’t look *that* bad (when it was dark out).

Boy Cave: Built-In Media Unit

This house came with built-ins in the basement, the homemade kind. The entire basement must have been a wonderful man cave back when TV’s weren’t flat. The bottom half of the until was built through the wall into the space behind it. That space is a storage area under the staircase. The top shelves were were just nailed to the wall and pretty easy to pull down.


I removed the backing and slimmed the built-in down. Put a new plank back on it and painted it white.


Someday I’ll add an electric fireplace in the large open space so that it looks more like my inspiration picture below.

Bathroom Updo

I call this a bathroom updo because I didn’t really tear anything apart other than the seashell tile border. The entire bathroom is tiled from floor to ceiling, and even on the ceiling in the shower. Demolition of all of that was something that I wasn’t ready for. I hadn’t even imagined that I could do something like that without having to hire someone.

In this updo attempt of mine, the goal was to make my bathroom feel less like the Golden Girls had waved their wand in there. I removed the seashell tile border, painted the outdated cabinets white, covered up the mirror that had ‘One Day at a Time’ etched into it and replaced the shiny silver light fixture, and gold switch covers. Later on I also used granite to cover up the countertop and sink combo.

Removing the seashell border was pretty easy. I had to buy a dremel and a grout removal bit. The grout removal bits are pretty spendy and I ended up needing two of them. I think they’re $25, but without that bit the job would have taken me much longer and I would have likely ruined the surrounding tiles.

Seashell Tile Border

Updo Glass Tile Border

The old etched mirror was literally grouted up onto the wall with the tiles. Rather than create a big mess, I just covered it up. The barn wood is sold at Home Depot. The two vertical planks are screwed onto the wall. I placed screws where there were grout lines to keep from cracking the mirror and tiles behind it. See ya later, ‘One Day at a Time…’ 😀


I’d become pretty confident with concrete after having done my kitchen island. I had no idea whether it would actually bond to the slick countertop/sink material, but I didn’t think I had anything to lose by trying. I sanded the countertop before applying the concrete, but that’s the only prep I did. I applied 2 full layers and a third layer in the sink area. After doing a bunch of research on types of sealers, I ended up sealing it with the same sealer that I used on my kitchen island. It held up really well! I could use it and clean it just like any other countertop. No issues with water, heat or cleaning products.

concrete skim in progress


The new light fixture was from Menards and pretty inexpensive at $49.99. I’m using past tense. Remember, this is my Bathroom Updo. The renovation came many months later…



Bathroom Before and After the ‘Updo’


Kitchen DIY: Before and After

Now that most things are complete, I thought it would be neat to take a picture from the same position as the before pictures that were posted when the house was for sale! And yes, I did *almost* everything myself. I took a few weeks off from work and had my lists. There were really long days and nights during the demo and installing the flooring, but I am super thrilled about how it turned out!


Kitchen Before


kitchen after

kitchen after 2

  1. remove flooring
  2. remove wall
  3. paint cabinets
  4. replace light fixture
  5. new appliances: fridge, dishwasher, oven
  6. build island
  7. custom fit pantry
  8. concrete kitchen island countertop
  9. granite countertops
  10. paint window
  11. new faucet
  12. glass cupboard inserts


  1. I did need an electrician to come rewire the wires that were in the wall I took down. I would have felt comfortable doing this myself, but it was January and 1 of the wires was for the furnace. There was also a wire that I couldn’t figure out. Turned out to be my doorbell.
  2. I did need a HVAC person to come re-reroute the hot water heater exhaust that was in the wall I took down. I actually ended up needing a new hot water heater that would route out of the side of the house vs. through the roof.
  3. I did have the dudes from Craigslist fabricate and install my granite countertops.

Dining Room DIY: Before and After

There isn’t a ton that I renovated in the dining room other than the flooring and the light fixture. The removal of the wall and the curved countertop also helped open the dining room up to the kitchen.

Now that most things are complete, I thought it would be neat to take a picture from the same position as the before pictures that were posted when the house was for sale! And yes, I did *almost* everything myself. I took a few weeks off from work and had my lists. There were really long days and nights during the demo and installing the flooring, but I am super thrilled about how it turned out!


dining room light fixture


Dining Room After

  1. remove flooring
  2. remove wall
  3. replace light fixture / add dimmer

Living Room DIY: Before and After

There isn’t a ton that I renovated in the living room other than the flooring. The removal of the wall also helped open the living room up to the kitchen.

Now that most things are complete, I thought it would be neat to take a picture from the same position as the before pictures that were posted when the house was for sale! And yes, I did *almost* everything myself. I took a few weeks off from work and had my lists. There were really long days and nights during the demo and installing the flooring, but I am super thrilled about how it turned out!


Living Room Before


Living Room After

  1. remove flooring
  2. remove wall
  3. paint and stain the railing / banister


Dining Room Light Fixture

The dining room light fixture was a bitch.

dining room light fixture

The ceiling fan in the dining room didn’t turn on during the inspection. It didn’t have any pulls or switches on it. It was run by a remote control that was MIA. I wasn’t too concerned because I knew that I was going to be replacing it. I should have been concerned.

Taking the old fixture down was one of the most memorable moments I have from this entire renovation. It was a very heavy ceiling fan and I had all of the screws removed except for one. The final screw that was holding the ceiling fan up was jammed. I hopped down from my ladder to get a flat head to unjam it. As I climbed the ladder and went to grab the fan…

You can predict what’s about to happen, can’t you.

BAM! Holy shit. Holy shit. Holy shit. It literally crashed from the ceiling down onto the brand new laminate wood flooring (this pic is from the entryway where I put it to check out the dining room flooring). I stood on the ladder, looking down at the pieces and felt a kind of crazy feeling in my veins. Adrenaline. The floor was fine. Thank goodness.


FullSizeRender (17)

I purchased the new fixture at Home Depot. While I was at it, I also purchased a dimmer switch. The fixture was a little bit boring, but I had a tight budget and this was pushing it. I knew I could make it better.

It was too bad that when I put the light fixture up it didn’t work! Turns out that it wasn’t just the old fixture that didn’t work, that light switch was not working and had to be rewired. That really stunk. I was so excited to have it up, it really would have been great if it also would have worked. 😀

We had to do homework with lamps at the table for a few nights.


To spiff them up, I removed the frosted glass cylinders and replaced them with chili cans. You could use any kind of can, but I like the chili cans because they’re a bit larger than soup cans. You have to cut the top and bottom off.


I’d purchased this burlap trim at Hobby Lobby a while back. I can’t remember what I had planned on using it for, but it was perfect for the dining room fixture! I like that the burlap ties in with the kitchen window curtains and the stainless steel studs match the appliances.


I’d still like to have my step-dad shoot the cans with a bb gun so that the cans let a little bit more light out. The fixture is on a dimmer but since the cans aren’t see-through I always need to keep the dimmer on high to provide light.


Total Cost: The light fixture was $197. The burlap trim was about $20 with my 50% off coupon. I bought 3 yards and still have a TON leftover. The cans were free. I was making chili and would have thrown them away. 😀

FullSizeRender (50)




Kitchen Backsplash

Okay, okay, okay…this is not a permanent backsplash, but I don’t hate it. Eventually I would like to have white subway tiles, but the thought of tiling is very intimidating for me. I can do it, but I’m going to have to put my perfectionista pants on and I haven’t had that kind of patience in me just yet.

In the meantime, I have used a stick on wallpaper that looks like brick. Back when I moved in, I put this wallpaper inside of my cupboards. Now that some of my cupboard doors have glass, it looks like the wall is brick all of the way up.


The wood is from an old cedar fence. It’s nailed on with just a few nails and then I white-washed it. I used my jigsaw to cut around the electrical outlets.



I didn’t seal it or anything, it’s temporary, but I couldn’t live without something while I wait to muster up enough courage to do tile.

Wavy Pano Pic:


Cost: I already had the wallpaper, but when I’d originally purchased it for the inside of the cupboard doors it was $30/roll at Target. The wood was free from an uncle.



I Love Faces!

Plant Face made with scrap wood and hardware.

I love when plants look like hair!


Fridge Face. Magnetic eyes from and plant pigtails from Lowe’s:  IMG_4618

Key Holder Face. Scrap wood, beads and hardware:


Box Face: Suitcase with bun legs attached and tool box with antique dresser handles:

(I actually didn’t realize this was a face until my friend asked me about it)


Beethoven Head/Face. I thought this would be a good necklace holder, but his head was too big. 😀


Valley Fair Caricature. I love this pic from a few years ago and just framed it the other day with a $3 clearance frame from Hobby Lobby.


I haven’t done this yet, but omg, I want to!


Granite Countertop: Scary Cheap

Waaaaay back in April I was trying to decide what to do about my white laminate countertops. I tried to pull the laminate off of the wood surround by myself. You can see I was successful on the front. I was not successful on the top, though. Laminate is SHARP. If you’re lucky enough to yank a big chunk off, you’ll notice that it comes off in shards. Be careful! Pieces fly off and the edges are as sharp as a razor blade.


I gave up on trying to pull the laminate off and thought about skim coating concrete. I think that’s what I would have done, but I’d found a post on Craigslist for scrap granite in Savage and went to check it out. The pieces looked like this:

IMG_2738 IMG_2739

Most of the pieces were tiny, but I found the big slab and really like the colors. I’d brought my measurements with me and I was VERY lucky. The slab was *just* big enough to do my countertops. They actually had to use the cutout from the sink area for the countertop area on the side of my fridge! I never would have thought of that!


The granite was $5/square foot. You guys, that is UNHEARD of. I paid a guy cash and he scribbled my name on a piece of paper that they taped to my slab. Yikes. A week later I got a call that they were ready to come and measure. They told me that for installation I would need to unhook my plumbing but that I could leave my sink in place. I’d never unhooked plumbing before, but figured it out. The hardest part was the garbage disposal. A quick YouTube video and I had it all unhooked. *Take pics before you unhook anything! That way, when you go to put it back together you remember what goes where.

A few weeks after that they came to install my countertops. They asked me if I wanted a backsplash, but I had planned on subway tiles running from countertop to ceiling.

This was very Craigslist style with a guy and his kiddo helping him and they borrowed my blow dryer for something?

I love it! The countertop installation was THE ONE thing that I’ve done that made me feel like I finally have a grown up house. There were still things to do, but the countertops were the icing on the cake for helping to feel like I was in the home stretch.

Check this out…





There wasn’t enough granite for the kitchen island, but that was totally okay with me! I was going to be completing that in concrete (you can see the concrete island top pre stain and sealer in the above pic). They DID have some left over granite from the slab that I purchased, though…

…and, it was the perfect size for the top of my shelf!


Crazy / Wavy Pano Pic:


Total time from day of purchase to install complete: 3.5 weeks

Total granite and fabrication cost: $600