Archive | Home Improvement

Hole-y Patchwork Batman!

Hey y’all. You remember our double the leaks, double the fun post from the other week? Welp, I’m back to continue the story of how we fixed our leaks but managed to destroy a good chunk of our ceiling in the process. I mean look at that poor thing.

IMG_7189 But we decided hey, we’ve never drywall patched anything larger than a few inches across, this will be a great learning experience! So we did some Googling to figure out what we needed: a panel of drywall, drywall tape, drywall mud, a mud pan, and a taping knife. When we got to the store, we had the option of either buying a 2ft x 2ft drywall piece or a full size 4ft x 8ft panel. We opted for the smaller one. 

So before I get into a how-to, I’ll preface it by saying we didn’t totally do things correctly. Even though our hole could be covered by the 2 foot drywall square, we probably should have cut even more of the ceiling out because it was visibly bowing down in the middle. See that 2×4 nailed to our ceiling? We had hoped that if we nailed a straight board through our curved ceiling and into a ceiling joist, it would help straighten out the bow.

Long story short, that technique didn’t work. The bowing part of our ceiling reached all the way past two light fixtures, and we really didn’t want to have to cut around both of them. But turns out, trying to make a flat panel of drywall match a slightly bowed ceiling was probably more difficult than just dealing with the lights.


Even though the patch and the ceiling didn’t quite match up due to the bowing, we figured we could make up the difference with drywall mud. At least that’s what we kept telling ourselves. Especially once we were too far in to turn back haha.

But anyways, back to how we did what we did. First we held the drywall square up to the ceiling and traced around it. Evan cut along the line we traced with his sawzaw so we had a clean edge that the drywall square could fit right up into.


That square did overlap one of our recessed lights, so we traced the light hole onto a sheet of paper and then used that paper to trace a circle where the light would be on our drywall piece.


We held the square up to the ceiling and screwed it into a couple ceiling joists. Then we added another sliver of drywall because our hole was just a hair too wide.

IMG_7205 Next we added our drywall tape. We did a few runs of tape over each seam to make sure it was nice and secure.

IMG_7209 IMG_7208 You can see pretty well in the photo above how bad the gap was.

IMG_7212 Then came the fun part: mudding. Evan did the first layer. He could just slop the mud up on there messily because we didn’t need to get it perfectly smooth (our ceiling is textured).

IMG_7213 We let that dry and then I swooped in to add some texturing. Matching it ended up being easier than expected too. After I spread on a nice thick layer, I loosely wrapped a plastic grocery bag around my hand and patted it into the mud. This created a texture super close to the one our ceiling had and we didn’t have to buy any extra tools!

IMG_7227 IMG_7221 Unfortunately, texturing couldn’t cover that gap. Although we had taped and mudded over the gap, and structurally it was fine, there was still a noticeable bump at either side of the patch. So we had to add another coat of mud and cover up my beautiful texturing hard work.

IMG_7224 IMG_7223 After letting this next layer of mud dry, I went back and added more mud just near the gaps/bumps to smooth out the transition, texturing it again as I went. I repeated this process a few times: mud, texture, dry, mud, texture, dry.

IMG_7238 I’d like to say I got it to a point where the patch wasn’t noticeable. I’d also like to say that I workout every morning, always take my vitamins, and fully understand how to work our printer. But none of those things are true.

IMG_7240 But by this point, we’d been at it all day (lots of drying time!) and we called good enough good enough. I primed and painted it using one of those handy ceiling spray paint cans and that definitely improved the look.

Oddly enough, these days we don’t even really notice it. So either our ceiling’s patch is really not that terrible, or we’re just becoming blind to it. Win win? Haha.

IMG_7606 I think what we learned on this one is sometimes it’s more work to attempt a shortcut than it would have been to do it the right way. Thanks DIY universe for teaching us this valuable lesson *bows*.


Leak Week

Welp. Not all home-blog posts can full of pretty progress pics and well-lit “afters”. Ha, who am I kidding most of our posts don’t even have that stuff! But what we DO have are two leaks in one week, a brave husband sticking his head in crazy places, and a wife that is patting herself on the back for simply not freaking out. And that’s gotta count for something.

Anyways, you might remember that we have galvanized pipes up our attic. Thank you 1978! 

20130323_222055-copy When we first moved in, we had a couple slow leaks the inspector found; one we fixed with a simple clamp, and one required that we replace an entire run of pipe with PEX. After that, we vowed to regularly go check the pipes up in the attic to make sure we catch leaks before they happen. Hahahaha. We did that maybe once. Then one day I came home from work, turned down our hallway, and stepped in a puddle.

Y’all, old Katelyn would have panicked at this point. Old Katelyn would have been sure the floors were ruined, the attic was a sea of wet insulation, and the whole house was basically falling apart. But not new Katelyn. New Katelyn said “this is not the first time I’ve dealt with plumbing issues, grabbed a towel and a bucket, and even had the foresight to take a photo of our sad ceiling for the blog.

IMG_7119 Evan came home shortly after I finished cleaning up the puddle (somehow no floor damage, yay!) and that’s when we started poking around for the cause of the leak. And I mean that quite literally. Evan grabbed a screwdriver and began making tiny holes in the ceiling.

Water trickled out a little, but we felt like it was also moving around up there. So we kept poking more holes. And more holes. ‘Til finally we said screw it and cut a chunk out with our saw zaw.

IMG_7122 We still couldn’t really tell what was going on, and to make it worse the leak was under our AC unit so we couldn’t get to anything from up in the attic. Meaning the only way to see what was happening was for my very brave husband to stick his head into places unknown…

2016-04-06 (2) Once Evan got up in there, he identified the leaky culprit, which was actually a piece of pipe not under our AC unit. But it was under some nailed down plywood in the attic that the AC was on top of. So up in the attic we went to cut through the plywood (we couldn’t just remove it since the AC was on top of the same plank of wood).

IMG_7129 From downstairs we had measured out where it seemed the leaky pipe was, so we measured again up in the attic and cut where we thought it was. Found it!

IMG_7131 double copy But it was a bad enough leak that we couldn’t just clamp it- it would need to be replaced with PEX. We knew we wouldn’t have a chance to do that ourselves til the weekend, and we weren’t comfortable letting the thing leak for several days, so we bit the bullet and called our plumber. In the meantime, we went ahead and clamped it, put a foil tray under it to catch any drips, and cleaned up our mess.

IMG_7140 The next morning, our plumber showed up and we had a nice new piece-o-PEX up there and a slightly bigger hole above our heads. Yay!

IMG_7189 But what’s that piece of wood on our ceiling you ask? Well as much as I’d like to say the story ends here, it does not. So we will get to why we attached a 2×4 to our ceiling later. We patched the hole (again, more on that later) and primed/painted over the water stain left behind. While I was up there priming, I figured I’d also cover an old, tiny water stain that has been in our entry since we bought the house (it’s amazing what you can become blind to over time). So I primed them both, let them dry, and when I came back to repaint I noticed that the stain in the entryway had somehow spread past the area I had painted… strange

IMG_7279 I touched it and it felt cooler than the surrounding area. Bad news. Luckily, there were no obstructions in the attic over this spot so I hopped up and sure enough, another dang leak!!! In a completely different run of pipe I might add, so it’s not like we had a particularly bad pipe giving us trouble- just our house laughing at us.

IMG_7282 Luckily it was pretty minor and we had a couple extra pipe clamps leftover from our last pipe-clamping project, so this one was a quick fix, especially compared to the last leak. If you’ve never used these clamps they are SUPER easy. Just unscrew them wide enough to pop over your leak and then screw them tightly until they are snug around the pipe. We have a video of it in this post that we linked to earlier. They’re not forever solutions, but the clamp above our kitchen/office area has held up fine for three years! 

Two leaks in a week is enough to make you weak! Ok I’ll stop that was lame. But two leaks in one post is enough to make you tired about reading about leaks, so we will end it here for now. In the next post we’ll go over how we actually patched the gaping 2ft x 2ft hole in our ceiling and why there’s a 2×4 attached to the ceiling – it was a tale of denial, bargaining, and finally acceptance.



Gut(ter) Reaction

Welp. Today’s post was supposed to be about how we’ve continued to update our patio. About how we bought some more furniture and lights on our path to turn it from just functional to functional AND pretty. Then we woke up to find it NOT functional and definitely NOT pretty.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - Yep. Not something you want to see as you’re headed out the door for work. A big storm blew through last night and knocked off over 20 feet of our gutter, bending it at a weak point and taking our fascia (the wood trim that caps off the ends of your rafters) with it. And it broke a strand of my lights darn it!

So yeah, not exactly the patio update we were planning on sharing with you guys… BUT the good news is we are earning +10 home exterior DIY skill points and we get to share what we’ve learned with you. Lesson #1: clean your gutters.

The other good news is I’m going to write this post as we go, so as of now as I’m typing, we are still in progress. Dunno how it’s gonna turn out yet. Kinda scary, kinda exciting, but we are all in this together!

Day 1:

So before we could leave for work, we had to address the 6 inch tall, 20+ foot long hole leading into our attic. You can see it in the photo above right under our roof line. We didn’t want rain getting it wet or squirrels letting themselves in, so we set to cover it up with plastic tarp til we could fully deal with it.

As we climbed up to take a closer look at the hole, we realized that the still-attached part of the gutter was starting to pull away too so we decided to cut off the detached piece (in retrospect we maybe shouldn’t have cut it since it may have been salvageable, we’re not sure though). We couldn’t find our flashing clippers so Evan grabbed his saw zaw. Then that died so we grabbed our jigsaw. Lesson #2: owning the right tools is great, but if you can’t find em or they’re not charged, they aren’t any good.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - By the time Evan got it cut he was covered in gutter juice.

2016-03-24 (1) But at least we didn’t have this hanging from our house anymore:

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - Next we put up a strip of plastic tarp with a few quick tacks from our staple gun, called it a morning, and headed to work, leaving our patio looking like a war zone.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - After work Evan swung by Home Depot to get supplies and then pulled off the remaining few feet of gutter that was still attached to the house. Now that we had a clean slate, we could replace our fascia. Having a big hole running into our attic was no bueno, so our goal was to install new fascia by the end of the night. Since at this point we didn’t even know what fascia was (we’d just been calling it “siding under our roof”), we weren’t too hopeful haha.

2016-03-25 (2) But before we could add anything new, we needed to figure out what was going on with the hot mess we left behind.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - We just decided that anything that didn’t seem structurally sound we would cut off. Seems logical right? And here’s Evan using hedge clippers to trim the flashing above the wood. Still couldn’t find those metal clippers so we used what we had haha.

IMG_7498 Once we had all the bad stuff off we could start adding the new stuff. Time for power tools!

IMG_7503 IMG_7510 We saw that the existing boards were cut at 45 degrees so we did the same with our new boards. One at a time, we lined them up along the roof line and screwed in at every rafter tail. In the photo below you can see the hole into our attic and the rafter tails peeking out. And oh hi there soffit vent chutes, we remember installing you and almost stabbing our heads with roofing nails.

IMG_7504 So I held up the board on one end while Evan screwed it in on the other. Once we got a couple screws in I could let go and get the next piece ready.

When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - We noticed that under the old gutters there was a 1 inch thick piece of trim acting as a spacer between the top of the fascia and the gutter, so Evan had also picked up some trim on his Home Depot trip. It was getting dark at this point but you can sorta see the trim along the top of the board in the photo below after we screwed it in.

2016-03-24 (4) We were luckily able to finish our goal of replacing the fascia by the end of the night! It’s hard to see much in the photo, but it sure looks good to us :)


Day 2:

With the hole to our attic officially closed off, we could sleep easy. The next day we hit our fascia with primer, caulk, and paint to really seal the deal. We read somewhere online that sometimes primer can help caulk stick to wood so we decided to do the primer first. We used Zinnser Cover Stain primer, which felt nice and solid.

IMG_7514 As the primer dried, I was on caulk duty. We used the same Dap Alex latex caulk from when we patched our siding out front and it worked just fine.

IMG_7518 After letting it dry for a couple hours, it was time to paint! I took first paint shift and thought it would be cool to take painting selfies. #shouldbeholdingontothatladder

2016-03-25 (4) When our gutter was ripped off, how we fixed our fascia boards - Then Evan got out there for shift 2 of painting. All in all this was the easy part so we don’t have too many photos. But we are super excited because now we are DONE with replacing the fascia, woooo!

IMG_7521 Just need to power wash the patio. And put up our lights. Oh yeah and add gutters! Well we can at least do one of those three things tonight.

IMG_7524 IMG_7528 We still need to do more research to see if we want to tackle installing gutters ourselves or hire it out. Looks like it’s not terribly complicated to DIY, but the downside of DIY-ing it is that you have to buy gutters in smaller sections (which is weaker) instead of getting a seamless run from a professional. So we will keep you guys posted! For now, it feels good to just not having a gaping hole leading to our attic. Have a great weekend guys!


Patio! Finally!

Do you guys remember wayyyyyy back when we first bought the house and wrote a couple big lists of all the projects we still wanted to tackle? Let’s take a moment to throw our heads back and laugh at those lists. Ha! Hahahaha! Most of that stuff never happened.

IMG_0812 copy BUT there is one thing that did happen. One BIG thing. We upgraded our patio y’all!

20151108_103834 You may remember our teeny patio of yore. It was about 10ft x 10ft and had sunk several inches into the ground over its 38 year lifespan (we’re prettttttty sure it’s original to the house. It was in that bad of shape). It was barely enough space for a grill and a couple fold out chairs.

IMG_0813 We naively thought that we would someday bust it up ourselves and lay a new patio like true DIY-ers. We even bought a sledgehammer for that very purpose and went as far as taking a practice swing. We should have listened to Evan’s mom in the clip below.

Thinking we had done enough work for that day, we hung up the sledgehammer. And the patio stayed as is for almost 3 years.

Along the way, my parents gave us their old fire pit and we squeezed that onto the small space. Then we scored 6 free curbside patio chairs a neighbor was getting rid of and things got really crowded. Like can’t-even-walk-back-there-without-banging-a-shin crowded. So-bad-we-never-took-a-photo crowded.

20150913_175341 We held off on upgrading the patio for years because we weren’t sure how much we would actually use it (Houston weather is humid 60% of the time, all the time). But for some reason, getting these free chairs spurred us into action. Probably because with their addition, it was really pretty impossible to get around, and our options were either get rid of them or finally commit to something we’ve kinda been wanting to do anyway for years. Commitment it is!

First we had to figure out what we wanted. We knew we wanted concrete instead of pavers since it’s quicker and cheaper, and we didn’t mind the clean look of it. But having concrete means you can’t pour over any important lines buried under your yard. (Pavers are different because they can be pulled up individually if necessary). So we called the utility companies to come out and mark where our lines were. They spray painted but it was hard to see so I photoshopped the lines in.

IMG_1361 copy We decided to expand away from the house as far as we could (up to the edge of the gas line), go almost the neighbors fence back there, and almost to where our gutter drains (didn’t want to deal with drainage issues) . This gave us a pretty solid working area.

We called a guy we found on Angie’s list, he met us the next morning to give us a quote, and by that afternoon we pulled the trigger and he and his team got started ripping the old patio up. Can you believe there was about 6 inches of concrete buried into the ground? That’s how much it had sunk over the years!

IMG_7873 He texted me pics throughout the day of the progress they were making. I don’t think I’ve ever stared at my phone so much waiting for a text (except maybe when Evan and I first started text-flirting back in the day).

New patio! Usually I have little pangs of doubt when we decide to hire out a job instead of DIY it ourselves. But look at all this stuff that was hauled out of our yard. No more doubt here.

IMG_7879 By the next day we had a finished patio!

New patio! Crazy to think that such a big change can happen in just a couple days!! We basically tripled our patio square footage!


20151108_103834 We’ve since taken a few steps to pretty it up, but this post is already getting long so we’ll save those updates for another day! For now, please excuse us while we dance around our patio simply because we ACTUALLY HAVE THE SPACE TO DO SO! :D

New patio! Oh and what’s that ladder doing out there you ask? That’s news for another post! :)


How to Patch Siding

Some DIY fixes work like a charm. Some don’t work at all and you end up making things worse than they started. Others work just long enough for you to get comfortable and forget about them. I’m looking at you old siding patch.

You may remember a post from about a year ago when we noticed some holes in our siding and patched ’em up using this badass goopy stuff. If you don’t remember, click the link above :) Basically, our T1-11 siding (which is pretty much cardboard) had some weak spots at the bottom where rain had splashed up over the years. We patched it with Ready Patch (the aforementioned badass goop), let it dry, slapped on some paint, and called it good enough! It was pretty awesome for a year… and then the floodgates opened (literally, it flooded like crazy here in Houston) and our patches decided they had taken enough wear and tear.



We decided ok… time to suck it up and pay to get this siding replaced. But while talking to the siding guy, he said if we didn’t want to replace the whole face of the siding, we could just patch the bottom of it with a protective board. He pointed to the board you see along the bottom of the siding in the photo above. See that? He said that was actually a patch that the previous owner had probably done. Basically, as long as there’s no moisture currently trapped, you can just patch over the bad stuff with a new board to protect it!

Since we didn’t want to pay $1000 for the whole face of siding to be replaced (after all, the rest of it was in good shape), we decided to try our hand at this new type of patch.

First things first, we had to rip off the old board patching the bottom. Evan used a utility knife to score the paint/caulk where the board met the siding. Then he used a tiny crowbar to pry it off. See below!


Yep we are incorporating gifs now. But only sometimes. When we remember to :)

When Evan pulled off the board, it took off a good chunk of the old siding with it. Lots of damage, but all dry at least!

Update - how to patch siding -

Then it was time to put up the new boards. We needed about 10-1/2 feet of wood, so we picked up two 6-foot pieces of 1″x10″ because we couldn’t fit a 12-footer in either of our cars. We grabbed some bricks from our garage to support the boards and used a level to make sure everything was aligned correctly.

Update - how to patch siding -

Evan nailed it in and grabbed the second board. Halfway through nailing it in, we started noticing that at least one of these boards was not flat. Or maybe the side of our house was not flat. Either way, it was not good.


It may not look like much in the photo, but every time we tried to hammer in whatever part of whatever board was gaping, it would pop out a different corner. With daylight fading, we decided not to waste any more time on dumb non-flat boards. We went back to Home Depot looking for other options. And what we found was even better than our original plan!

First off we found this roll of waterproofing tape called Protecto Wrap that’s typically used to seal off windows and doors. We decided since our wall isn’t totally flat/straight we might end up with gaps even if we buy new boards… so we should seal it with the wrap as extra protection.

Update - how to patch siding -

We scraped off all the loose bits from the old siding before rolling out the wrap. It was definitely easier doing this with two people. Evan held the roll while I pressed it against the house. This stuff was SERIOUS. The adhesive was sorta tar-like and it molded to all the grooves in our siding.

The second thing we found at Home Depot was some hardiplank siding we could use instead of regular wood. This was awesome for three reasons- one: it’s waterproof, two: it’s flexible, and three: it’s cheaper!

It wouldn’t fit in our car so we had to borrow Evan’s dad’s truck. Worth it though! You can see how flexible it is in the photo below.


We cut it down to size with a jigsaw. It was a little tricky to cut because the blade wanted to do its own thing, so Evan used our right angle (and some elbow grease) to keep it in line.

Update - how to patch siding -

It did WAY better than the original wood boards. We did have some trouble finding places nails would stick on the left side (hence the bajillion nails you see in the photo below) but in the end we got it pretty secure. And to be honest, we weren’t tooooo worried about it because the real protection was coming from that wrap we used.

Update - how to patch siding -

After securing it, I took over with my handy caulk gun to caulk over the gaps. We went up the sides of the window frames a bit as well where the paint was cracking.

Update - how to patch siding -



That was sarcasm. It was pretty messy. But once we painted over it everything looked great!


And now I know gifs make you looks like a crazy person. JUST PAINTING HERE I LOVE PAINT WANT SOME PAINT?!

Update - how to patch siding -

We are pretty confident about this fix! Guess we’ll check in again in a year and let you know how it’s holding up!


Fan vs Evan

Replacing the fan in the master bedroom seemed like a pretty dang easy project. After all, we had already removed a couple fans, so installing one couldn’t be that different right? Ha. Hahaha. We’ll take a moment of silence for Evan’s fingers and then we’ll get started on the post.


So here’s how the old fan looked in our bedroom. Not absolutely terrible- but we did feel that it really dated the room.


It especially revealed it’s age when you took a closer look. Mmmm, dat glass…


So Evan, with his height and all, got to work disassembling the fan. He started with the blades and light covers.

IMG_6117 copy

After he removed the base and snipped the wires (don’t worry, the power was off!) we were pretty confident it was going to be smooth sailing. But then we saw these.

IMG_6120 copy

A bunch of nails- NAILS- holding our fan into a ceiling joist. No mounting kit, no screws. This meant it was going to be WAY harder to remove this thing.

Evan finally managed to pry them out, but those five nails cost him about half an hour and the use of his index finger (it’s hard to simultaneously use a hammer and pliers above your head while on a ladder. Would not recommend).


You can see by the multiple gouge marks on the nails (oh and the one that BROKE IN HALF) that this was quite a battle.

The good news is that after this, installing the new fan was a breeze (Ha! A breeze! I’ll see myself out…)

Evan installed the base and the down rod (so that it would hang lower than the ceiling, like our old one). Then I hopped up and spackled/painted around the edges of the base, where we had kinda beat up the ceiling trying to get the old fan out.

IMG_6142 copy

Then it was on with the blades and the lights! :D

IMG_6145 copy

Somehow after that we never took an after picture… so I went and took one today! (Psst, you can check out the details of how our room has evolved over the past year here).

IMG_7103 copy

We feel like the new fan suits the room MUCH better. The brushed silver ties in with the lamps and bed frame, and overall the look is way more sleek and modern. Woohoo!


Prettier Pantry

We never really expected to upgrade our pantry in this house, but when I was hit with the sudden urge to clean it out and get rid of old stuff it was the perfect opportunity to beautify the pantry a bit. Mid-clean you can see that our pantry is nothing fancy but nothing terrible either.


It’s not the biggest, but it’s plenty of room for our little family of two. The main problem we had with it was that the shelves were not so pretty. And not so functional. They look alright from far away, but when you get up close…


You’ll notice that each shelf is made of two pieces. These two pieces were uneven and bowing, so when you tried to slide something to the back or pull something out it would catch. Also, these shelf-pieces were covered in layers of painted-over contact paper which tended to get beat up on the edges (and it’s kinda gross too).

So we thought it would be pretty easy to say goodbye to the old shelves and say hello to some pretty new ones. Hello pretty new ones.


We went to home depot and picked up some nice plywood and trim pieces, and cut the plywood to the size we needed our shelves to be. Then Evan nailed the trim pieces to one edge of each shelf (the edge that would be facing out). You can sorta see the trim piece that is attached to the top of the shelf below. But I know, it’s hard to notice things like trim when you’re distracted by that dazzling smile.


Here, now you can see the trim :P


He also sunk the nails so that we could add wood filler and stain right over them (so that in the end it would look pretty seamless and you wouldn’t be able to tell there were nails).


Evan then sanded the edges that we had cut when cutting the shelves to size. The cuts were a little rough but they sanded right out.


While we were in the garage, Mochi was having a pantry party.

mochi pantry

Then Evan started the longer-than-expected staining and sealing process.

Maknig new pantry shelves -

The reason it took so long was because of the required wait time between multiple coats of sealant. We wanted to make sure our shelves had a nice solid seal to make them spill-proof and easily wipe-able (since they’d be around food) so we had to do a few coats of the stuff. And after each coat you had to let it completely dry, give it a light sand, and then reapply.

But its ok, we used the wait time to buy a few organizing baskets from Target so we could ditch the cardboard boxes that had been serving that purpose for way too long (scroll back up to earlier photos to see that sadness).

After much patient waiting, I was so excited to load everything back into the pantry with our new and improved shelves! The wood is so pretty and shiny and smooth. It looks great AND is super easy to clean.

Maknig new pantry shelves -

Maknig new pantry shelves -

Never thought I’d be so proud of our little pantry! It’s come a long way *tear*


OMG You Can Paint Grout

Y’all may know that I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with our master bathroom. On one hand, we have an AMAZING big-ass shower (read that as “big ass-shower” and it’s extra funny). But on the other hand, our bathroom came without a door (weird right?), the pedestal sinks feel awkward, and the tile we inherited would not have been our first choice. Not to mention it was not the neatest tile job. After struggling with loose tiles and cracking caulk I was getting ready to give up on this tile ever looking nice.

But then the clouds parted and I discovered the $12 miracle that is Polyblend Grout Renew.

So let me back up a bit and explain why discovering this was so awesome. See, one of the reasons I think our tile looks sloppy is because the grout lines are super uneven. And before this project, the white grout lines against the dark tile made that unevenness very noticeable.


It’s not absolutely terrible from far away. But when you get closer, you start noticing things like this:

bad tile

Hot mess am I right? So anyway, my theory was that if I painted the grout a darker color, the variation in grout lines would be way less noticeable. The recommended method is to clean your tile/grout really well and then apply the paint with either a toothbrush, paintbrush, or Q-tip. I chose to use 2 different size paint brushes, one for the itty bitty lines and one for the thick chunky lines.

We opted for the charcoal/black looking paint since it was closes to what we wanted. I just squirted a bit into the cap and kept that nearby as I meticulously painted each and every line in that dang bathroom.

OMG you can paint grout -

I started in the corner near the toilet (glamorous, I know) because if it turned out looking terrible, I wanted it to be in a more hidden spot.

OMG you can paint grout -

This is a good photo though because you can see the before and the after together in one shot. Already, the darker grout looks less jarring. It just kinda meshes with the darkness of the tile and makes any unevenness less noticeable.

It took several weeks to complete this project, mainly because I could only do it a couple hours at a time here or there. It was easy but boring and not super duper comfortable being on the bathroom floor.

We decided to do the shower surround, but we left the inside of the shower as is. It’s not as noticeable in there because of how the glass obscures things. Also, I was pretty tired of painting grout at this point. We also left the larger caulk seams around our tub as is (though we might paint over those too in the future, would be pretty quick! You’ll see the lines I’m talking about at the base of our tub later.)

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In the end it was worth the tedious work! To save you some scrolling here’s the “before” again…


And after! (bonus new rugs and shelf items too!)

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And here’s another before shot of the other side of the room…


And the after!

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It may not look like much, but that’s the point. Now you don’t notice the grout lines on the counter, backsplash, floor, bath surround, shower surround, baseboards… they just blend in with the tile, which is exactly what we wanted. Win!


Kitchen Updates are in Order

Hey guys! We have all these little changes we do to the house that we don’t really deem “blog-worthy” (picture the clouds parting and light shining down upon those words), especially these days when we are super busy and only seem to have time to post about the bigger stuff. But hey, these little updates deserve love too! Maybe not clouds-parting-light-shining-upon-them love, but a little love at least. Here is a compilation of a few kitchen-related updates that we realized we never shared.

First off, writing this has made me realize that we do not have ANY recent photos of our kitchen. What the heck. Here it is from wayyyyy back when we were first moving in. Notice the boxes in the background?! Seriously, I need to photograph our kitchen more often…

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The first update to share is the AMAZING new faucet we got. Yeah, until I owned a house I never thought I’d get this excited about a faucet. BUT IT IS SO AWESOME!!! Why you ask? Because it’s touch-controlled! Yeahhhhh living in future, yeah technology, yeah yeah yeah awesome home stuff! It’s the Delta Addison faucet and I love it.

The old faucet leaked a little and only worked on spray mode, not stream mode, which resulted in the whole area inevitably getting spray misted every time we cleaned something. “Y U ALWAYS SPRAY TINGS OLD FAUCET?!?!”

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So yeah, got rid of him. With a little instruction-following and a husband up for the job, we got the new one installed right away. Was pretty straight forward, though we did have to call and get a new o-ring because the one it came with wasn’t creating a strong seal.

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And now look! Pretty touch-sensitive faucet!


Oh what’s that you see hanging out above our new faucet? It’s our new pendant light! Before, we had a sad-looking recessed light. Not even a nice one, but literally a black hole with a regular light bulb screwed into it. So sad.


But we got this pendant light for our wedding that literally screws right into the recessed light fixture so it was a super easy switch! You can’t tell in photos but we have an Edison bulb in it, which looks super cool :)


Looks good with our new faucet. You know what else looks good? That little bit of fridge peeking into the photo from the right side.

Heck yeah we got a new fridge!!! It was our Christmas present to ourselves last year. Family was in town so we recruited Dad to help move the old one out.


There was nothing functionally wrong with the old one, but it was the only bisque colored appliance in a sea of beautiful stainless steel so we decided to designate it as our secondary laundry room fridge and replace it with a pretty one. Now the old one houses the tons of beer leftover from the wedding. Come drink our beer people. No seriously, please… come drink our beer.


It does jut out, but because of the doorway into the dining room to the right, a cabinet-depth fridge would  not be able to be opened fully, which would mean more difficult access to food, which would be very sad. Maybe one day we will build a nice built-in looking fridge casing for it. For now, we will just be very very thankful that it’s not bisque.

And there you have it, some much-overdue kitchen updates! I know all this sounds like extravagance upon extravagance, but trust me, we are not made of money. These updates span over the past year+ so we had time to save our pennies. Writing this reminds me of many more “little updates along the way” posts I want to write, so keep your eyes peeled! :)


Fireplace Facelift

Our fireplace is kind of a butterface. As in everything looks really good… but her face. (On a side note, I have never once before this post referred to our fireplace as a she. But now I feel like I have to run with it.) We love that she’s a floating fireplace. We love that her bricks go allll the way up to our ceiling. We love that she’s a sizable hefty focal point for the room. But we never really loved her face.

I guess old school brass with intricate cutouts is just not our biggest turn on.


We weren’t sure we wanted to deal with (or spend money on) replacing the brass cover, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure if we could find the right size out there. But I had seen a few tutorials online that suggested painting the face for a quick and easy update. I was intrigued!


I came across several different methods reading through the tutorials. Some people took the whole brass face off first and painted it outside. Some people built a big bubble/tent out of plastic sheeting to keep the spray paint in. Some people just brushed the paint on by hand. We didn’t really feel like doing any of the hard parts (building a bubble, taking the face off, or painting by hand) so we decided to leave it in place, mask off the edges, go to town on it with some spray paint, and hope we didn’t inhale too many fumes.

First we masked off the glass with frog tape and printer paper.

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Then I remembered oh yeah, maybe I should sand this a bit. For the record, I’m not sure if sanding made too much difference. I sanded the outside lightly with 220 grit, but I forgot to sand the inside of the doors and I can’t really tell a difference.


Then we protected the brick with more tape, more paper, and some plastic. (Our fireplace stayed this way for a few weeks because we were traveling and got super busy and took a while to finally paint it. It was super not attactive).

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We picked up some Rustoleum high-heat matte black spray paint meant for painting the inside of your grill. Gotta play it safe if you plan on actually using your fireplace. If you never light it up, I guess you could paint with whatever you wanted though.

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We went with matte black instead of gloss back in the hopes that it would make the intricate cut outs less noticeable by reflecting less light. You can see in the photo below that the cut outs almost disappear when painted.

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When we were done with the outside, it was already looking way better. Mochi approved because it was black and had fuzzy edges just like her.

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At this point we got super excited because it was looking way better, and we thought we were done. Then we realize dang… it looks great with the doors closed, but as soon as we open them, more brass reveals itself!

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We still needed to spray the hinges and top and bottom sliding track as you can see in the photo above- but we also still had to paint the inside of the door frames. Which meant trying to tape off the glass from the inside. It was kind of a pain and required getting our arms tangled at some weird angles but we got her done!


Again, after this point a couple weeks went by. Looking back, this project took way longer than expected because it just kept getting put on the back burner. Eventually the plastic around the fireplace came untaped, but we didn’t bother putting it back up since we were done painting the outside.

Painting the inside required some even more awkward angles than taping did. It helps to have a husband who is willing to stick his head into a fireplace to reach those tricky spots. As Evan spray painted, I held a couple sheets of paper on the outside of the door to block over-spray.

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Almost time for the big reveal…

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Taking off those last pieces of tape and paper was so satisfying!

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Ta-da! No more brassy scrolls! No more scrolly brass! No more brassy brassy scrolly scroll brass! We love it!

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We like that it no longer automatically dates the room like it used to. It kinda balances out some of the other black objects in the room. Can’t wait to see how it looks with a fire going this winter!

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