I’m not going to lie. These days this is pretty much all I want to do (add Burger, Clara, and John in there and I’m even more mooney-eyed and kissy-faced). But to everyone who requested an updated Listy post, I finally got ‘er done. We last shared our to-do list in November, so this check-in is well overdue – and I figured it could make us feel somewhat accomplished just to look at all the stuff we’ve crossed off since then. Picture me making Zoro-esque slicing sound effects with every slash (Teddy thought it was hilarious).
These posts were born when people asked how we organize all the stuff on our to-do list and I explained that we basically have one long run-on document that we update as we go. They said “share it!” and I said “done” and now we post it three or four times a year, just to see where we’re going and to take a second to soak up what we’ve accomplished. The bonus side effect is that looking at all of those not-crossed-off-yet bullets helps to get our brains going so we can plan the next few projects we want to tackle. Plus we get to snap some updated photos. Like a few spring-y outdoor shots like this.
- The Front Yard (20% Complete) -
Remove the trees that are dead/decaying/diseased beyond repair (an arborist and a home inspector helped confirm which ones should go) Get all exterior siding and trim repainted (there’s peeling paint, some rot, etc) Dig up all the quickly spreading ground cover(we still have some mulch beds to tackle, but the parts we graded and seeded are groundcover free) Aerate, level, and seed the yard
- Make planting beds up front and mulch and plant them
- Transplant some of the crowded/overlapping boxwoods on either side of the portico (around the back or into other planting beds out front?)
- Redo old cracked concrete walkway from the driveway to the front door (add curves and pretty planting beds on both sides)
- Add some nice hard-scaping around the front (we’re so inspired by this house’s landscaping – so we’d love to add some raised stone beds)
- Plant a few green dwarf maples (it’s our favorite thing that we planted one at our previous house – you can see it in this post under the window on the right)
- Add low curved brick borders on either side of the driveway wired with lights (some of the houses nearby have ‘em and we love them)
- Get the driveway paved
- The Portico (30% Complete) -
Repaint the portico and sidelights (peeling paint = everywhere) Paint the front door
- Arch the portico ceiling (it’s low and one house up the street has an arched ceiling with a gorgeous hanging lantern)
- Paint and panel the front triangle thing once we arch it (or before? the gray triangle just feels flat lately)
- Add a few planters,
a new double-wide door mat, new porch lighting, etc
- The Garage (3% Complete) -
Change out the tiny/rusty light over the garage doors(we attempted this, hence the 3% ranking, but we’re not sold, so we might replace them)
- Repaint garage doors and add some nice hardware to beef them up
- Add a pergola over the double garage doors with vines creeping over it
- Finish the interior of the garage with drywall to create a workshop on one side and storage around the perimeter (add pegboards, shelving for paint and tools, etc)
- Reuse kitchen cabinets in the garage (they’re dinged up in a bunch of spots around the doors and frames, but would be great for the garage)
- Redo the four steps that lead from the garage to the kitchen (remove old carpeting and paint them? rebuild them completely?)
- Build a box on casters for scrap wood storage in the garage (we need a system to keep it from being all over the place)
- Maybe we should get old lockers and paint them fun colors and remove some of the doors for storage? (love these!)
- Possibly add plumbing for a utility sink out there (we’ve always wanted one in our “workshop”)
- The Foyer (80% Complete) -
Remove the doors that block the flow into the kitchen (and the pretty view out the back windows that will someday be french doors) Paint blue trim, doors, and sidelights
Remove wallpaper and repaint the walls Replace the old foyer light Turn the extra toy closet in the foyer into a craft and toy closet for Clara Repaint the foyer ceiling Deal with the grout that haunted my dreams
- Replace tile? (only if it’s unsalvageable – there are a few areas where it’s pretty beat up)
- Turn the other foyer closet into a shoe/coat closet with some functional built-ins
- The Stairs (90% Complete) -
Remove the old carpet from the wood stairs Paint blue railing spindles and trim Stain the top rails dark to match the runner Paint the walls and ceiling Paint the stair risers Install new striped runner with a rug pad under it
- Hang some art
- Possibly hang a big chandelier overhead since the ceiling is so lofted above the top of the stairs
- The Half Bathroom (35% Complete) -
Remove wallpaper Repaint all blue trim (and door) Upgrade door hardware & hinges Paint walls New mirror (something larger and higher – John can only see up to his shoulders now) Paint vanity (use odor blocking primer) Upgrade lighting Replace leaky faucet
- Replace vanity & seashell sink (Phase 2) Note: We like to live with kitchens and bathrooms (and give them smaller budget-friendly updates) for at least a year before doing any major gut-jobs or renovations (this helps us get a better feel for how we use the space, and allows us to save our pennies for something thoughtful that we won’t regret (more on that here)
- Replace unsalvageable tile floor? (Phase 2)
- Here’s a shocker since this house is covered with old wallpaper, but we’re actually flirting with adding some cool new wallpaper since there’s no tub/shower in there (grass cloth? something charming like this or this?). Could be fun! Or a tiled accent wall… (Phase 2)
- The Dining Room (10% Complete) -
Clean and reseal the wood floors
- Upgrade built-ins (remove scrolly tops? build up to ceiling? paint white?)
- Paint all of the blue trim
Remove the wallpaper
- Repaint the walls
- Upgrade lighting and curtains
furniture, a rug (?) and art
- The Living Room (10% Complete) -
Clean and re-seal the wood floors Prime and paint the bright pink walls Take down the old curtains Whitewash the brick fireplace wall
- Prime and paint the thick woodwork that wraps around the bottom half of the room’s walls (we LOVE it, and think it’ll be gorgeous in white)
- Figure out window treatments (bamboo blinds + curtains? printed roman shades?)
- Add more recessed lights to evenly light the room (there are just three near the fireplace)
- Turn the overhead beams into a coffered ceiling (like this)
- Build/find a nice big built-in-looking cabinet that holds the TV?
- Get gas logs after we save up our bucks (Phase 2)
- Add stacked stone or built-in molding around the fireplace? (Phase 2)
- The Office (20% Complete) -
Take down the old curtains Clean and re-seal the wood floors Paint all the blue trim, baseboard, crown, etc (66 window mullions = yikes) Paint the walls and ceiling Add a double deskthat J & and I can share somewhere (we’re about halfway through this one, hence half the cross out)
- Bring in more storage (bookcase, file cabinet, craft/photography zone, etc)
- Get good desk chairs
- Add curtains/window treatments
- Hang art & create a brainstorm-zone on the walls (bulletin board? chalkboard?)
- Make sure there’s a kid zone for Clara and Teddy (we have a table for them, but we want to update that area)
- Get a big cozy rug
Add two large potted plants (lemon trees? fiddle leaf figs?)
- The Kitchen (35% Complete) -
Take down the old curtains Remove the wallpaper Remove shelves thank flank the sink window and add shelves there Move the cabinet over the fridge forward so it’s accessible Get a table for the eat-in area Paint the walls Update the old kitchen lights(although we’re still on the fence about the pendant near the stove, so that might end up in our bedroom) Paint the pantry door and the door to the garage Prime and paint the woodwork and trim Paint/stain the cabinets(they’re too beat up to keep forever, but they’ll eventually end up in the garage when we do a full kitchen reno) Remove almond microwave over stove and add an inexpensive vent (put microwave in pantry) Update the old almond fridge and dishwasher with affordable fixes (appliance paint and a panel change-out) Organize the pantry (prime & paint it, add shelves & baskets, etc) Update the old counters with concrete & seal them
- Update the old floors with peel & stick tile like our first kitchen (this would be the end of Phase 1)
- Full kitchen reno for Phase 2 (new heated tile floors, new cabinets, new counters, new appliances, backsplash tile, etc)
- Convert giant triple window behind table into french doors leading onto the deck
- Open the wall between the kitchen & living room and add built-ins on either side (sort of like the dining room built-ins in our last house)
- Further pimp the pantry with pull out drawers (and replace the door with frosted glass?)
- Amp up the “command center” area across from the triple windows
- Paint the new kitchen french doors and door to the sunroom (black? charcoal? soft turquoise? white?)
- The Sunroom-Turned-Veranda (80% Complete) -
Rip up old carpet and padding Permanently remove the broken base heater Convert sunroom to an open covered porch with new columns and no more sliders (many of the sliders are bad and the posts are rotten) Loft the ceiling Add beadboard to the ceiling and paint it soft blue Redo the electrical to get two fans in there Paint all the trim, window trim, walls, and the french door into the living room Retile the floor with outdoor-safe stone to upgrade the old concrete floors so they’re less slick, more level, and less stained
- Add sconces to the posts around the room
- Build a box to hide the wires that creep down the brick wall near the french door
- Furnish the room with deck-friendly outdoor furniture
- Build a brick outdoor fireplace off of the sunroom after we open it up? Kind of like this, but different…
- The Master Bedroom (15% Complete) -
Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods Repaint all of the cream trim and doors white
Add faux wood blinds to all windows for privacy/light blocking
Repaint the walls
- Repaint the ceiling (or even plank it or wallpaper it like this for texture?)
- Possibly add built-ins along the entire bed wall so there’s a nook for the bed to tuck into? Or some sort of window seats? More built-in storage would be great.
- Add a ceiling light fixture (there’s nothing in there)
- Bring in art, curtains, etc.
- Add a fireplace (this is a Candice Olson inspired pipe dream)
- The Master Bedroom Sink Nook (50% Complete) -
Rip up the carpet in sink area (we didn’t put hardwoods there because we eventually want to tile it) Replace the mirror over the sink for something bigger Paint the walls and the trim and the ceiling Stencil and seal the subfloor (to tide us over until Phase 2) Add some simple shelves to the empty side of the vanity for balance Stain/paint the vanity and add new hardware
- Phase 2 (a full reno where we knock down a wall and combine the master bathroom with this sink nook area)
- The Master Bathroom (30% Complete) -
Remove the glass shower door Bring privacy to the window with some blinds
Remove the wallpaper Paint the walls and trim and ceiling
- Replace the bathroom mirror & upgrade the lights
- Completely redo the master bath down the line for Phase 2 (the fun blue hex floor tile is in rough shape and we want to expand the footprint into the sink nook area so it’s all one space (soaker tub? tiled shower as well? double sink? should be fun!)
- The Master Closet (40% Complete) -
Repaint all of the cream trim Paint the walls and ceiling Rip up the carpet and stencil the subfloor Phase 2 (we’ll either extend the tile from the bathroom or the hardwoods from the bedroom into here, just have to decide if we’re moving the door or not)
- New light fixture
- Organize/build out/pimp the entire space (we’re envisioning cabinetry with drawers, shelves, rods at different heights, etc)
-Upstairs Hallway (75% Complete) -
Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods Repaint all of the blue trim and doors glossy white Get all new hinges and door knobs (they’re not only bright brass, many of them are rusted/corroded so they can’t just be sprayed) Upgrade to a Nest thermostat (we hear nothing but great things about them, and John is drooling for one) Stain/paint the bannister and posts Paint the walls and ceiling Replace the old hallway lights
- Convert hallway linen closet into built-in open shelves or cabinets with shelves over them (sort of like this?)
- Add crown molding
- Maybe add thick wood wainscoting (like we have in the kitchen and living room) to the upstairs hallway to break up the long space?
- Hang art
- Clara’s Room (90% Complete) -
Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods Repaint all of the blue trim and doors Add window blinds & curtains Paint the walls and ceiling Make a canopy wall for Clara’s bed (with lights) Paint the door to her closet bright pink Add crown molding Hang art & bring in things like her play kitchen when the crib moves to the nursery
- Make her deep sloped ceiling-ed closet into a little playhouse within her room
- Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)
- Nursery (90% Complete) -
Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods Repaint all of the mauve trim and doors Add wood blinds (for light blocking) and hang curtains Furnish the room (rug, bring in crib, changing area, toy zone, chair for nursing, etc) Make built-ins on either side of the crib (to accommodate a future twin bed lengthwise or full/queen widthwise) Add crown molding Repaint the walls and ceiling Make a crib skirt and a mobile, hang art, etc Paint the door a fun color like Clara’s (green?) and organize the closet
- Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)
- Finishing touches (line the curtains with blackout fabric, get a changing pad cover, add something on the crib wall, etc)
- The Guest Bedroom (12% Complete) -
Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods Repaint all of the cream trim and doors Organize the closet that’s overflowing with gift wrapping supplies, fabric & sewing stuff, crafts, etc. Clear out all the junk in this room since it sort of exploded when we tackled the nursery(we got this done 48 hours before Teddy was born, just in time for Nonna’s arrival)
- Paint the walls and ceiling
- Add crown molding
- Add a ceiling light fixture (nope, there’s nothing in there either!)
- Bring in
a bedand a dresser/desk that can accommodate my sewing machine so this room can multi-task (it has the prettiest view/light – I’d love to creep in there and sew on Sunday afternoons)
- The Hall Bathroom (8% Complete) -
the door andtrim
- Paint the walls and ceiling
- Replace the faucets
and mirrorsand lights for a mini-update (Phase 1)
- A complete redo is in order (Phase 2) since the old tile is stained/cracked and the tub & fixtures leak. Maybe we’ll do herringbone slate? Marble? Extra long rectangles of tile like this?
- Laundry Nook (20% Complete) -
Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods Replace the washer & dryer with something more energy efficient down the line(the washer died on this, so we tackled this faster than we thought) Lay something under the washer and dryer(we used wood planks that we stained and sealed like we did at our last house to add stability and blend in with the hardwoods)
- Completely redo the nook (new doors for noise control, new cabinets/shelving – or more cabs/shelves if we re-use the existing ones)
- Add a swanky tile backsplash and some great art/lighting (I want to make it a fun little surprise jewel box at the end of the hallway)
- Unfinished Storage Room (0% Complete) -
- This will serve as an awesomely large storage room for a while (we have no current need for additional finished rooms), but down the line we’d love to finish it – maybe as a movie room / bunk room for older kiddos? This’ll be waaay down the line, but we dream of:
- Adding drywall
- Getting flooring
- Adding lighting
- Possibly enlarging the windows to let in more light
- Building out the closets (so there’s still some storage under the eaves)
- Furnishing the space with built in beds, a TV, a big sectional for lounging, etc – wahoo!
- General Whole House Ideas (7% Complete) -
- Slowly upgrade all lights in the house to LEDs to save energy
- Replace all of the gold/wallpapered/off-white switchplates and outlets in the house (we’ve replaced around 50% of them so far)
- Upgrade to nicer frames, drapes, sheets, and curtain rods over time (they’re not cheap, but we’d love to be “grown ups” someday – even if it takes us 10 years or so to get there!)
- The Back Deck (50% Complete) -
Remove the giant oak tree that’s practically growing into the house Patch the deck hole after the tree is removed Strip and stain/seal the entire deck Replace any rotten/ warped boards as we go
- Add double wide stairs off the back of the deck that line up with the new french doors that we’ll add off of the kitchen
- Possibly build a pergola for more architecture and shade off of the back of house where the future kitchen french doors will be (square to the sunroom)?
- Build outdoor furniture like a table or lounge chairs for the deck
- The Backyard (15% Complete) -
Remove random slate pieces from the backyard Aerate or level the yard
Seed the yard in the fall Plant large holly bushes for privacy from the other houses that our wooded lot backs up to
- Transplant a few things for a better layout, like the pretty peony bushes in the middle of nowhere (not pictured)
- Reseed again in the spring/fall
- Build a swing set
- Plant an edible garden (not sure what the deer won’t eat, so I’ll have to do some research)
- Redo the old cracked concrete walkway between the garage and the deck
- Add more privacy plantings around the rest of the yard – tiered trees, bushes, and flowers (we plan to save up for these and add more each year)
- Build some raised planters and hardscaping
- Possibly add a patio area somewhere around the deck?
- Make a wooden teepee in the corner of the backyard with Clara and then plant some vines to grow around it to make a cool little hideaway (like this)
- Build an air conditioner cover with wood boards like this
Whenever we share this list people wonder how we choose what to do next or know what order to tackle stuff in. We just do whatever sounds fun and whatever works with our current budget (barring anything that needs to be moved to the top of the list for safety or other extreme-urgency reasons). We jump around a lot, which seems to keep our momentum up, so instead of being so sick of doing small updates to the kitchen for ten weeks in a row we painted/stained the cabinets over the holidays and recently dove back in to update the counters with Ardex. As for what’s next on the list, we’re hoping to:
- continue adding storage/function in the freshly painted office
- finish up the nursery
- organize and paint the guest room
- nix the blue trim in the dining room
- get back outside and do some privacy planting as soon as it’s a tiny bit warmer
What does your to-do list look like these days? Is it super long and detailed? All in your head? Just a few “on deck tasks” to keep you from getting overwhelmed? For some weird reason I feel more in control when I write it all down (just to get it out of my head I think) and then John and I can zero in on a few “next projects” and push the rest into the backs of our minds.
Thanks for all the kind words on Teddy’s arrival last week. We’re home now and settling into life as parents to a newborn again (anyone have tips for getting one to sleep between the hours of 10pm and 4am?), so we’ll definitely be on a lighter schedule, but one project that we rushed to check off the to-do list around 48 hours before Teddy was born was finally sealing our kitchen’s recently Ardexed counters.
We’ve shared a few other “how to seal” tutorials (like this one about de-hazing & sealing tile, this one about sealing grout, and this one about sealing cork) so here’s what we settled on for protecting our Ardex counters.
We read a bunch of the-sealing-step-could-make-or-break-them posts when it comes to Adrex, so we resisted the urge to rush into anything, and we used some of your input on our March 24th post to help select which sealers to research a little more and eventually track down (we had to order one from Amazon). In the end, our method of choice was two coats of 511 Impregnator Sealer (found on amazon) followed by three coats of Safecoat Acrylacq (which we already hand on hand, but can be ordered online as well). The great thing about using Safecoat as a top-coat in a kitchen environment is that it’s non-toxic and 100% food-safe.
The Impregnator’s job was to seal the concrete – against staining and moisture absorption – and it was very easy to apply. The water-like consistency made it easy to spread, so I poured a bit in a bowl and then brushed it onto the clean concrete surface liberally.
The instructions say to wipe off any excess after a few minutes, but I found most of mine absorbed into the concrete pretty quickly. But as a shameless rule follower, I wiped nonetheless. It looks darker and splotchier than it did after it dried in this picture (since it was mid application) but after it all soaked in it was pretty much back to its original color.
We applied that twice (24 hours apart) and then gave that last coat 24 hours to cure before moving onto the last step, which was top-sealing with the Acrylacq. This would also seal the counter against stains and moisture (liquid would bead up on the surface instead of absorbing and making rings) as well as creating a nice polished look that’s both food safe and protective against chipping or scratching. I went rogue with this stuff and just poured a small puddle onto the surface and spread that thinly across the counters with a brush.
We use Acrylacq a lot, so we’re familiar with it (I’m no longer alarmed by the blue-ish tint that it puts on the surface while it’s still wet).
We applied a second and then a third coat of the Acrylacq, just to be safe (letting it dry about 12 hours between each one). Then we let it cure for three full days before putting anything on it, even though it was dry to the touch much sooner than that. Although the Acrylacq was just a “satin” finish, it made the surface significantly glossier than the chalky finish the original Ardex had left. I realize that sounds like I was disappointed, but it’s great.
Not only does the glossier finish make it feel more like a shiny stone countertop (and less like a chalky DIY job) it also protects the counters much more from spills/stains. No longer do drips leave longstanding discolorations on the surface (picture water soaking into a concrete walkway outside and looking dark for hours). Now spills and splatters just bead up and can be wiped away without any trace.
We also read that some sealers show a lot of scratches, but so far we haven’t had any show up, even after cooking some big family meals and sliding some heavy dishes around to serve things. So it seems as if this mix of sealers yields a nice stone-like look that’s food-safe, scratch-resistant, and makes liquids bead up instead penetrating – at least so far.
My only complaint about our sealing results is that the glossier finish makes it slightly easier to see imperfections in the counter’s surface, namely areas where I should’ve sanded things a bit smoother during the Ardex application step (just like how glossy paint will accentuate imperfections in walls, this follows the same principle). Sherry is quicker to embrace these imperfections as par for the concrete counter course (“they’re supposed to look like that”) but the perfectionist in me just sees areas that I could have smoothed out a little more before sealing. Either way we’re both ecstatic to finally have everything back on our counters and be able to use our kitchen again like normal people. And it’s definitely a huge step up from the old yellow laminate that we had before.
Note: There have been people who’ve asked if we’d like to paint those bottom cabinets now that the counters are done, which is always a possibility, but for now we’re a lot more distracted by things like that faux brick linoleum flooring – so that’s at the top of our list.
There are still some things I’d like to improve about my Ardex-ing technique (namely sanding more smoothly) but generally I’m really happy with how it all turned out. Especially how the sealing step turned it into a much more finished feeling surface.
Aside from a few the-family-is-in-town-to-meet-a-new-baby meals, we haven’t used the kitchen like crazy yet, so we’ll definitely keep you posted on how it wears. Whether stains get through and we get scratches galore, or things stay pretty darn similar to how they look now, we’ll definitely share some updated detail shots in a few months time.
Has anyone else used the same mix of sealers? Or had good (or bad) luck with another combo? Feel free to share those details here for anyone who might be tackling this soon. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a photo comparison that a bunch of you guys have requested. Here’s Teddy at four days old:
And here’s Clara’s when she was around three weeks old in the same pose. They seem to have identical (extra long) fingers and toes, the same invisible blonde eyebrows, and the same tiny little chin – but Clara had a lot less hair. This Clara picture and this Teddy picture are probably the closest comparison so far (in real life we think they look related – but not quite like twins).
Now about those tips for getting a newborn to sleep between the hours of 10pm and 4am. We’re all ears…