House Tour

Home Office Remodeled

Posted by John on November 12th, 2014

**UPDATE:  The free woodworking plans for these office cabinets are now available to download.  Check them out by clicking here.***

Well, the time has finally arrived.  We’ve crossed the finish line and are now ready to give you a tour of our home office.  It’s been nearly a year since we first started and boy has this room changed.  Even though we’re saying it’s done, the room still needs to be dressed up with some decor, but we’ll get to that later.  For now, here’s our home office remodeled.

We’ll start our tour with a quick flashback to what the room looked like LAST November.


After ripping out the carpet, we installed some new hardwood flooring and tied it into the hardwood in the foyer without a transition.  It looks like it was installed when the house was built.

With the new floor down, I shifted gears and started on the coffered ceiling.  The ceiling ended up being the most time consuming part of the job, but it was totally worth it.

After the ceiling was done and the crown molding installed, I started building the cabinets.  There are three cabinets in total: two built-ins and a single filing cabinet.  The center desk section is just a large piece of stained oak plywood.  It’s large enough for two people to work side by side, but for now we only have the one chair.

Let’s get to the finished photos…

Here’s a picture of the room from the very same angle as the Before photo.

home office remodel

The ceiling:

office coffered ceiling 2

The filing cabinet:

office filing cabinet

The left built-in:

office built in

The center desk:

office desk

The right side built-in:

office built in 3

Here’s a closer look at the molding on the wall and ceiling…

office coffered ceiling

We also added some recessed lights.  There are three overhead and a single light over the work desk.

office with lights

I’ll be sharing some of the more minor upgrades we still have planned for this room.  I think you’ll like our ideas.

Since no room overhaul would be complete without a project list, here’s the complete run down of all the steps/posts we shared in completion this project from start to finish.  If you’re interested in renovating a room in your own home and would like results similar to what you are seeing here, then this list of posts will walk you through exactly how I remodeled this room.  You may also find my Custom TV Stand Recap post helpful if you are interested in designing cabinets for yourself.

1. The Before
2. Brainstorming Home Office Ideas
3. Hardwood Floor Installation
4. The Home Remodeling Process
5. Layout Options
6. Coffered Ceiling Concept Design
7. Home Office Detail Design
8. Coffered Ceiling Framing
9. Wiring for the Office Lights
10. Tips for Hanging Drywall
11. How to Finish Drywall (Video)
12. How to Install Recessed Lights
13. 5 Tips for Better Crown Molding Installation
14. 6 Cabinet Building Challenges
15. Cabinet Painting 101
16. How to Scribe a Cabinet
17. My Countertop Approach
18. How to Build Your Own Shaker Doors (Video)
19. Making Built-in Cabinets (Video)
20. How to Install Cabinet Hardware without a Jig
21. Hinges and Drawer Slides (Video)

Thanks for reading and if you think this office came out awesome, please share it on Facebook, Twitter and pin the living crap out of it for me.  That would really help!  Thanks!

Posted in DIY Projects,House Tour. Tagged in ,, ,

The Next Project: Our Home Office

Posted by John on December 5th, 2013

Even though we’re still wrapping up some work in our sitting room (paint and some decor still to-do), we wanted to let everyone know what project we’d be starting after we finish.  We’re psyched to be switching gears soon and finally getting to work on our home office.

If you took our home tour, you may have noticed that the office is not shown.  There’s a good reason for its absence.  It’s one of our catch-all spaces.  Whenever we get packages delivered, they get opened in the office and the boxes usually get left there for a few weeks.  What else is in there?  Grad school books and binders, craft supplies, the rest of the books we own, an old computer… you get the idea.

What I’m getting at here is we don’t really use this space appropriately.  We spend very little time in there and when we do it’s very task oriented.  I go in to fax or scan something and leave.

We’d like to change that with this room refresh.  That’s my main goal for this space.



You know what, the space doesn’t look too bad in these photos. We’ve since shifted the office desk to the wall and threw a bunch of crap in there. Consider these photos the high water mark.

So what are we planning to do with the office?  Good question.  We’re still kicking around some ideas in terms of layout and looks.  You can follow our Home Office Ideas Pinterest Board to see what direction we’re heading.

We know we’re replacing the carpet and adding hardwood floor.  That’ll probably be the first thing we do with the space.  Of course, we’re going to be designing and building our own office cabinets and built-ins as well.  The debate at the moment is whether I build the cabinets first, then do the floors and install everything or just do the floors first.

You can expect us to cover the entire remodeling process from design ideas to completion.

Should be fun.

Posted in DIY Projects,House Tour. Tagged in ,,

Building Face Frames

Posted by John on February 19th, 2013

Very happy to be building face frames back in the workshop, aka my basement!  To bring you up to speed, so far we picked an overall look of the design we want.  We then dimensioned the design based on where we’d like it and discussed the whole build process.  Next we designed the face frames and now, we’re set to build them.

Quick update first:  We made a small design change.  The built-in was going to be too wide so we shrank the width down by a foot.  The height stays the same.  No big deal.  I’ll explain why when we’re all done.  Hopefully it will be obvious in the end.  If you were following along, the only changes were to the horizontal boards.  Instead of being 55″, now they’re 43″, a foot shorter.

From the face frame design drawings, I made a shopping and cut list (all thicknesses below are 3/4″).

Bottom face frame:
1.5″ wide x 34.25″ long -2 of them
2″ wide x 43″ long -1 of them
2.5″ wide x 43″ long -1 of them

Top Face Frame:
1.5″ wide x 57 3/8″ long -2 of them
2.5″ wide x 43″ long -1 of them

I bought all the lumber at Lowes.  Poplar is very common and you should be able to get it just about anywhere.  I tried to be economical here and bought the lowest price boards I could.  The longer and wider, the more expensive.  Also, to eliminate the need to use the table saw, I chose and bought boards that are already at the necessary widths (1.5″ and 2.5″).  The 2″ wide board needed to be trimmed down from 2.5″, which is one quick pass on the table saw.

poplar boards

Now onto the real cutting!

First thing.  You’ll need at least a basic miter saw.  Can you do this sort of thing with a hand held circular saw?  Maybe.  But it’d be really hard.  The saw blade is also important.  You want a saw blade with at least 40 teeth.  The higher the tooth count, the better.  Don’t use a saw blade with 24 teeth.  They’re great for cutting 2x4s for framing walls, but they cause major tear outs in hardwood.  Higher teeth count blades give you cleaner, crisper cuts.  They’re not much more $$ than the basic blades either, maybe $20-$30.  Worth the investment.

60 tooth saw blade

So, in both our top face frame and our bottom face frame, we have two vertical pieces that are exactly the same length.  To make sure we cut them to the same length, we’re going to cut them together.  How do I do that?  I clamp them together.  And I tape them.

miter saw

The first cut is to clean up one of the ends.  I like to take just a hair off one side because the ends of the pieces are a bit tattered and split from transit and hanging out in the store for months or weeks at a time.  The next photo is a picture of what they look like before the clean up cut so you can see what I mean.  They don’t look too bad in the photo, but they look waaaayyy better after that first trim.

board ends

Now that one end is clamped up, clean up and cut together, I can measure, mark and make the second cut.  I use a regular tape measure and make a small pencil mark on the length I need (ignore the fact that 35″ isn’t an actual required cut).

marking boards

With the pencil marks down, I use a speed square, flush it up to the edge of the board and line up the other edge of the square with the pencil marks.  Then I use a box cutter to go over the pencil marks, essentially making a super thin line.

marking the cut

I prefer this sharp line for this type of work because it’s thin and well defined.  A fat pen or pencil mark can be deceiving.  This one is dead on.

Now I line up the edge of the saw blade with the cut mark I just made.  You don’t want to cut through the middle of the mark, you want to cut just next to it.  You want that box cutter mark to be whisker thin after you make your miter cut.

cutting boards

Lining up the box cutter line with the edge of the saw blade can take a few seconds and requires some patience to get it right, but it’s worth it.  Your cut will be dead accurate.  Now I just repeat this process for the remaining cuts.  Again, keep boards clamped together that have the same length and you’ll get a perfect match.

boards ready

With all the boards cut to length, I pick out the boards for the bottom face frame and lay them out on the work table how they’ll be assembled.

bottom face frame

I inspect each board superficially for defects.  I want the better side to be facing forward when this piece is done.  The better side gets turned over and I drill my pocket screw holes in the back of the two horizontal rail pieces.

pocket holes

After both boards are drilled, I add a little wood glue on the end of the horizontal rails and screw the rails to the stiles.  I placed a board underneath the two I’m joining just to make sure the table is flat while clamped.  My table top tends to move a little (oops).

pocket screws

I repeat this joint in three other locations and the bottom face frame is assembled.

bottom built-in

The top went together fairly easy as well.

top face frame

Not too bad.  It took me about an hour to throw these together.

Next up will be the doors.  I’ll need to add a center divider in the bottom face frame too.  Definitely going to try to make a video for the doors.  Any questions?


Posted in Carpentry,DIY Projects,House Tour. Tagged in ,, ,

Our Hemnes Toddler Bedroom

Posted by John on February 4th, 2013

Hey there cats and kittens (bonus points if you know who says that phrase every week)!!  Hope everyone got enough sleep after that thrilling Super Bowl.  Wow.  We had a pretty busy weekend, but still managed to knock off a few minor projects off our to-do list.  Saturday we had a family party for our daughter’s 2nd birthday.  We’ll be sharing some pictures later this week.  More importantly though, I thought we should bring you up to speed on the whole we’re having a second baby thing.

So, we’ve known since August that we were growing our family but we put off making an announcement on the blog.  We talked about taking a picture with Sherry and John from the signing, which of course we’d post, and we knew Lisa would be visibly pregnant.  So, we thought that would be a fun opportunity.  Since Christmas, the biggest home related decision we’ve had to make regarding the new baby is what we’re doing about the bedrooms.  Do we re-use the nursery and move our daughter into a new bedroom or do we make a new nursery?  You obviously know the answer to this one by now, but it took us a while to finally make that decision.  It’s not easy moving your first child out of their nursery.  They grow up so fast.

Anyway, that’s some background on our whole bedroom deal.  Our daughter helped by jumping out of her crib fairly early thus necessitating some action.

Since we already owned a couple white Hemnes pieces, we thought it might be easier to just pickup a matching twin bed and go from there.  We looked at toddler sized beds as well, but it seems like a better investment to just stick with the twin bed.

Here’s what her bedroom looks like now..

Keep in mind we still have to do a good deal more decorating.  Lisa has a laundry list of ideas that we’ll work through over the next few weeks.

hemnes toddler bedroomLisa’s parents picked up the comforter and cupcake sheets at Home Goods.  Thanks Mom and Dad!

hemnes toddler bedroom 3Lisa and her mom are also big Scotty fans.  They also grabbed this Scotty bookend at Home Goods.

scottish terrier bookendThe wall opposite the bed is completely blank.  We have a few ideas for the room as I mentioned, but nothing nailed down yet.  It’s a big wall.  We’ll see.

hemnes toddler bedroomAnyone else wish they had President’s Day celebrated today?


Posted in Home Decor,House Tour. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Our Master Bedroom and Sitting Room

Posted by John on January 2nd, 2013

Two posts in a row!  Talk about a New Years resolution.  It’s like going to the gym everyday for a week… that’s what two posts in a row is like… at least in my head.  I haven’t been to the gym since around 2005.  It’s been 7 years.  I was 26.  Wow.  Anywho, about our master bedroom and sitting room.

As I mentioned in our 2013 To-Do list, we’re planning on making use of this sitting room that’s attached to our master bedroom.  I don’t think it would be proper to just show you the sitting room, so we’ll show you both.

***Remember, we haven’t done ANYTHING to these rooms other than throw in some furniture.  They need paint, decorating, the works.  Also, I hate decorating.***

Here’s the first thing you see when you come up our stairs…

master bedroom 2

Is it normally that cleaned and freshly vacuumed?  Um… yes (no).   I picked a crappy day to take these photos.  It was heavily overcast even during the normally bright hours, so I had to use the overhead and room lights, which washes the room over in a warm amber glow.  If you’ve tried to take interior photos at night, you know what I’m talking about.  Oh well.  It is what it is.

Moving into the room…

master bedroom

We have our bed.. it’s king sized.  I would make a crack about being a king or something, but if you’re married and have a schnauzer you need all the room you can get.

This entire furniture set came from Mealey’s.  It’s held up well.  Nice stuff.  The carpet, not so much.

Lisa’s dresser…

woman's dresser

My “gentleman’s chest” … thankfully they didn’t make me provide references or otherwise prove I’m a gentleman in order to purchase it.

gentlemen's chest

If I’m not careful, several t-shirts will roll out onto the floor when I open the side door.  It’s like a spring loaded peanut butter brittle can.  Stuff pops out.  I need to add a system to this thing.  Not high on our list, but on the list nonetheless.

Moving onto the sitting room…

sitting room 2

It’s actually a decent sized room.  We’ve yet to do any actual “sitting” in said room, but we are planning on it.

There’s a nice sized long wall where we’ll put a couch…

sitting room 3

sitting room

We’ve actually already bought a couch for this space from Ikea and we’re using an older flat screen we have from our first home.  I’ll be doing a couple posts on hiding the TV’s cables using a slightly different method than the Powerbridge we used at our neighbor’s house as well.  Beyond that we need a TV console which we haven’t picked out, lighting and ideally some built-in shelving.  Hopefully painting this space will carry over into the rest of the master.

Remind me never to take pictures in this room with those lights on again please.  It’s giving me a headache.

What’s your first project of 2013?

Posted in Home Decor,House Tour. Tagged in ,, , ,

Our Hall Bathroom Painted

Posted by John on November 25th, 2012

Hey everybody! Hope all of our American friends safely and joyfully slept off their turkey induced comas. Lisa and I had a great holiday with our family. Thursday we drove up to Northeast PA and had dinner at my mom’s house. Driving for two hours back home after eating turkey can be dangerous, but luckily we made it back safe and sound. Friday was shopping and turkey round two with Lisa’s family.

A couple weeks ago, we finally got around to painting our upstairs hall bathroom. It’s been plain builder grade white since we moved in over two years ago. Since its our hall bath upstairs, it’s reserved for our daughter and the occasional overnight guests.

Here’s a shot of the bathroom before we moved in.

hall bath

Actually, a while ago, we showed the bathroom as a sneak peak in our 5 Tips for New Home Builders. When we built, we opted to skip the large builder grade mirror and instead asked the builder not to install anything at all. They were totally fine with that idea. After all, it was less work for them. We installed a couple Ikea Kolja mirrors instead for a more personalized look.

hall bathroom before

You can see that greenish shower curtain we added after we moved in. In keeping with that scheme, we picked Sherwin Williams Tidewater for the wall color. Lisa originally wanted a neutral bathroom, but once she found that shower curtain a few years ago she changed her mind.

hall bathroom being painted 2

hall bathroom being painted

The light bulbs in these shots distort the look of the room a little bit. We had CFLs in the vanity light, but switched to a clear filament bulbs for most of the after pictures. It’s a much whiter light.

hall bathroom after

painted bathroom tidewater sherwin williams

painted bathroom tidewater

We’re very happy with the color! Even though the room is still builder grade, the paint plays well with the white vanity and tile. If we never do another upgrade in this room, I’ll be fine with it. I’ve been asking Lisa to think of some crafts or artwork to dress the room up (100% her department). We do need to add a little more character me thinks.

How was your Thanksgiving break? Get any projects done?

Posted in Home Decor,House Tour,Staining and Painting. Tagged in ,, , ,

Ceiling Fan Installation

Posted by John on June 22nd, 2012

We hope everyone is managing to stay cool during this little East Coast heat wave we’ve been having.  It was supposed to go up to 100 F yesterday!  I love the summer, but I’d rather be a little cool, than a little hot, ya know.  We have a blow-up pool we’ll be setting up for the baby, which I’m really looking forward to.

With this hot weather in mind, Lisa finally was able to talk me into installing a couple ceiling fans in our spare bedroom and the baby’s playroom.  The playroom isn’t quite where Lisa wants it yet, so a post on that room will be forthcoming, but not quite yet.  However, we can show you our guest room.

The bed is a queen sized MALM from Ikea.  I bought it for myself right after college.  It was a huge improvement after sleeping on a twin sized mattress on the floor of my fraternity house! After we got married, we kept this bed for a couple years, until we moved into our current house and bought a new one.  That’s also our bedspread we had when we first got married.  Actually the whole set it the from when we were first married.  I only had the bed, then we picked up the other two pieces.  I don’t believe they are from the same set, but, it’s white lacquer from Ikea, so it’s close.

I believe the dressers are from the same set, although I couldn’t name it off the top of my head.  Since they are only a few years old, they’ve held up fairly well.  You can probably tell that when we don’t have company over, this room is sort of a catch all.  We’re working on that a little at a time though.  That large carpet roll in the corner is the other half of the wall to wall carpet we had made into an area rug.  We haven’t decided on a paint color yet and since we haven’t even painted the master bedroom, the master bathroom, the powder room, etc… we aren’t planning on painting the guest room anytime soon!

The ceiling fan we’re installing is a Bellevue made by Harbor Breeze.  It’s a very simple five blade, white ceiling fan.  It’s the same fan that’s in the nursery.  We like it because it’s simple… it doesn’t require a lot of thinking or coordinating, it just works well with the rooms.

Installing these fans is a real breeze… (ba da ching).  Terrible pun, I know.  Sorry.  Actually, what makes this a lot easier, is when we built our house, we opted to put in a lighting box in each bedroom ceiling.  We had to pay a little extra for that option, but it means that we won’t have to fish wire through the ceiling or any of that nonsense.  If you’ve ever done that, you know it’s a PIA.  A little planning on our part saved us me a ton of time.

To install this fan, I used a basic set of tools that most homeowners should own (if you don’t own them yet, plan on getting them, trust me).  They are, from left to right: a pair of wire strippers, wire cutters, needle nose pliers, a current detector, electrical tape, a flat head and a phillip’s head screw driver.

I’m going to refer you to the directions included in the fan box for specifics on how to install a ceiling fan as I’m avoiding specific electrical instructions.  For ceiling fans, the gist of it is the number of conductors.  Ideally, you should have a black, a red, a white and a bare copper ground wire in your ceiling box.  If you don’t have the red wire, you’re probably going to have to relinquish control of the fan/lighting to the pull cords on the fan itself as you’ll only have use of one wall switch at that point.  If you have the additional red wire, then you can have  two wall switches; one for the fan and one for the light.

The body of the fan can be pretty awkward to hold up in the air while you try to wire it together.  For the guest room, I had Lisa hold it up, while I made the connections.  For the second fan, I just used some zip ties to hold the fan up.  It made it much, much easier.

The only part of this installation I truly hate is fastening the light to the ceiling.  The holes tend to not line up well for some reason.

It’s definitely worth any aggravation though!  This ceiling fan installation really helps keep the air moving upstairs even with central air conditioning.

So how are you beating the heat? 

Posted in Electrical,Home Decor,House Tour. Tagged in ,, , , ,

Closet Organization Weekend Part Two

Posted by Lisa on May 3rd, 2012

Hey kids!  Time for more closet organization.

As promised I will share what organization I did in my closet. Check out John’s closet redo here. Nothing groundbreaking or newsworthy, but I was pretty excited about it.

So after going through all of our junk, I started to reorganize my closet.  I moved a few clothes and shoes around to allow for John’s clothes and shoes to move in. Sharing my closet with John is major proof of just how much I love that guy.  I love my closet because it’s mine and I can organize it and reorganize it as I please with no comments from the peanut gallery.  But alas, I have opened my space up to my husband, and you’re welcome, John!

Here is the view from the door. I think it looks pretty awesome now!

I was soo excited to show John the final project!  I think he was proud of me as well.

Here are my shoes.  They’re in clear storage bins so I can see them.

There’s a little cubby where I keep some sweaters.

I keep my bags underneath it.

My clothes are organized by color if you can’t tell.  Gonna try to keep John on that system too!

The entire closet reorganization was great, especially because it was free!

What are you’re thoughts? Should I kick John out of my closet if he doesn’t keep his clothes organized?

Posted in House Tour. Tagged in ,,

Closet Organization Weekend

Posted by Lisa on April 30th, 2012

Hi friends!  We hope you had a great weekend. We sure did – we got a lot of items crossed off our to-do list, while adding a few more.  I know John will want to share his projects later this week so I thought I would share what I did this weekend first.

Are you like me and have multiple to-do lists always going and getting updated? I can bet I have at least three in progress at all times. Usually I have one huge list then break it down by day on a separate piece of paper.  I know with all the great technology out there I could streamline this process, but I REALLY enjoy a handmade list.

For Easter, my cousin gave me this cute mini notepad and refills! You might have thought she bought me gold because I was so excited!  I don’t leave home without this guy anymore.

So back to my list.  Friday night John and I discussed our plans for the weekend and we each made a list.  His list was much longer, but included in my agenda was taking care of the baby (which is the best!!).  While the little one was napping Saturday, I tackled a huge project I had been thinking about for years.  Let’s make that 2 years to be exact.  Ever since we moved into our current home, John’s closet has been a catch all for storage, decorations, old electronics, personal items from childhood, ice skates, shoes, clothes, and a practice bagpipe (my favorite!).  Now, usually I would include a before picture but I was too embarrassed to even take one.  I really love organizing and I cannot believe I left his closet in that shape for as long as I did.  So during her nap I began the project.  I pulled out everything and organized it as “keep,” “trash,” “filing,” “John’s junk,” and “I have no clue.” Buried in all of the junk was the last moving box from two years ago.  I thought I had gotten rid of them all but it seems one had decided to linger.  That box was placed in the “John’s junk” pile since it was filled with his previous dresser’s junk drawer clutter (did u follow that double negative junk adjective?).

After that, I started to put all of the Christmas decorations and trees together in the closet. Before this I had the trees in his closet and my decoration totes in a spare bedroom closet. So now all Christmas decorations are together – weee!  I also moved all of my decorations for other holidays in there too.  They were all organized in totes, but were in different places in the house.  Lastly, I moved my baby storage in there also.  Right now I have three totes of baby gear and clothes I am saving.  I have a tote in progress in my closet for the clothes she fits into now.

Here is the view from the door.

Not bad, right!?  The best part was this project was FREE!  I took a break after completing the project once the baby got up from her nap. John came in from working outside and we tackled the whole “I have no clue” pile.  Most of this stuff was John’s personal items from high school and college and a lot of pictures.  I am sure we could have gotten through all of this stuff quicker, but it was fun looking through old photos and reading old cards from one another.  We also found a few gems of John’s including a bag pipe practice flute, ice skates, a poker chips set that’s never been opened, a fabric map of the family names of Ireland (John’s only about half Irish) and various political yard signs.  These aren’t my favorite items to keep in the house, but John was being so helpful I decided to let him keep it all!  Well, with the exception of the poker chips, those were donated along with clothes and shoes we no longer wear.

We also went through old paperwork and filed what was appropriate – but that’s pretty boring.

I will share my closet redo in a later post!  All in all we tackled a lot of projects and crossed off some more items on our never ending to-do list!

What did you do this weekend?  Do you have a constant to-do list like us?

Posted in House Tour. Tagged in ,,

Our Kitchen

Posted by John on January 23rd, 2012

Believe it or not, Lisa and I are just getting over our brutal weekend a couple weeks ago where we installed hardwood floors in our family room!  I think my last splinter just came out.  I had about a dozen of them AND I was wearing gloves!  It was ridiculous.  I had three bandaids on my hands for a couple days.  Anyway, while we were resting up for the last two weeks, we’ve been taking our time and doing some painting and picking up some furniture.  The whole reason we’re doing all of this work over about a month’s time frame is because we’re preparing for our daughter’s first birthday party.  Lisa will be blogging all about that soon enough so stop by early and often! 

We finished up the painting in our Family Room and Kitchen a few days ago.  We still have to paint our Dining Room and finish up some trim in the living room… Oh and Lisa just added painting our powder room to the “Honey Do” list before the party… among other things.

We thought this would be a good opportunity to post about our kitchen, since we’ve never formally posted about it yet.  Lisa did a couple posts about her plate walls here and here.  I also just assembled our daughter’s rocking moose in our last post in our kitchen, but we never actually discussed it yet.  We DID feature a couple pictures of it on our Home Build Page, but that was taken before we moved in.

So, here it is… all painted and ready for prime time.


Couple things I’ll mention. We opted for an upgrade package with the builder that included the Bordeaux stained cherry cabinets with the double wall mounted range. The double oven is sweeetttt and I barely use it.  Lisa, however, frequently uses both.  She roasts in one while simultaneously bakes dessert in the other.  It makes holiday get together’s more efficient from her stand point.  And if she’s happy, I’m happy.

Our countertop is a laminate.  I know what you’re probably thinking… you don’t have granite?  Well… we decided to invest our purchase dollars into some items we KNEW we wanted but didn’t want to go through the hassle of adding later.  For example, we got some surround sound speakers installed into the family room ceiling.  WELL worth it.  We thought about maybe skipping it, but I dreaded the idea of running that speaker wire after the fact… what a PIA.  Plus, we weren’t thrilled with the price that our builder wanted for granite.  We had just put in granite in our first home so we know what the going rate is…. and we thought the builder’s price was a bit much.  We’ve seen a few of our neighbor’s granite counters and they are definitely gorgeous, but we just decided to wait on this one.

We have a growing list of improvements we want to make to our kitchen, but we’re in no hurry.  We’d like to eventually add that solid surface counter.  The microwave isn’t vented to the outside, so it just recircs into the kitchen.  We have visions of a stainless steel or brushed nickel range hood, not to mention a backsplash.  If we get a range hood, the microwave will need to be relocated.  I do want to be clear about something because I don’t want this post to come across as whiny or picky or something…. Lisa and I feel extremely grateful for all the we have.  We’ve been very blessed.  At the end of the day, our house… this is just stuff… what’s really important to us is our loved ones, our friends and families and our relationships with them.  We’d be happy in a teepee (as long as I can get the Flyers on CSN anyway!).

Check out these photos:  Can you even tell the room is painted now?  This is what I like and don’t like about this paint: at times it’s very subtle.  Other times it’s noticeable; nice and cozy.  But you can barely tell it’s painted in these photos.  To see it, you really need to show something bright white for the contrast.



In our home, on a day to day basis, the kitchen island is a catch-all.  If you can’t find something, first place you check is the island.  Before company comes over, I take a shovel and clean it off so it looks like a nice place to have a glass of wine and read a magazine.  Just kidding about the shovel…


Lisa has all of our wine and champagne glasses in there.  We generally only use two at a time and even then we rarely drink.

My favorite part is near the end of the island…


This is where we keep the cookbooks. Surprisingly, these are mostly MY cookbooks. Back in the day, I used to cook quite a bit. Then I bought my first house and I only had time to DIY… cooking got back burnered (pun). I’ve got a few Jamie Oliver books, a Bobby Flay. My current favorite is the Anthony Bourdain Les Halles Cookbook. It’s a good read, even if you’re not into actual cooking. If you’re a fan of “No Reservations,” this book is filled with his edgy and comedic personality and you’ll definitely enjoy it.  It’s like “Kitchen Confidential” with recipes.

Lisa mostly cooks her family staples from memory. Anything new that she tries, she mainly gets from the food network or allrecipes.com.

So that’s our kitchen.  Any changes in your kitchen that you’re planning?  Do you have a solid surface that’s not granite?  What are your recommendations?

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