Listy McListerson (Updated)

We thought it was high time we updated our to-do list (which you first saw here) now that we’ve lived here five months and crossed off a few things (and added about a million more, which just seems to be how it goes).

As for how we keep things straight, we just write everything out in one big list, circle the small things that we want to tackle right away, cross things off as we go, and underline the long term things that that we want to save for and tackle when we finally have the funds (and are feeling more sure about our approach so there’s no shoulda-woulda-coulda going on later). Looking at those underlined things from time to time keeps us excited to squirrel away as much loot as we can to make them a reality down the road. And seeing all the crossed off smaller items reminds us that bite-sized undertakings can really keep you motivated and excited to tweak your house one day at a time until you look around and realize you’re home.

So it doesn’t sound like rocket science, but our method is to basically just write everything down and take on things that are doable and not too intimidating (or expensive) while we save up for the bigger projects/stuff. And as for priorities, we generally just do whatever we’re in the mood for (barring anything that needs to be moved to the top of the list for safety or other extreme-urgency reasons). Anyway, here’s the ol’ list now that it’s full of updates (marked in red) and recently added projects (also in red):

To Do (But Not All At Once…):

  • Find fun saturated/patterned fabric and DIY some no-sew curtains (using this method) for the living room, future dining room, office, playroom, bedroom, hall sliders, guest room, etc. <– maybe I’ll even sew some now…
  • Paint the living room, the dining room, the office, the big hallway, the small hallway, the kitchen, the bedroom, the guest bedroom, the playroom, the nursery, the sunroom, the hall bathroom, the guest bathroom, and the master bathroom (this is one of those slowly over time tasks- we’re thinking about tones seen here in this whole-house color scheme post of yore)
  • Paint all the dark wood trim (beams, baseboard, crown) in the living room (in a moment of oh-why-not we gray-washed the beams and love how they balance out the big gray sectional and avoid white overload since we hung a ton of white frames on the wall above the sofa).
  • Remove unnecessary bi-fold doors
  • Frost the side door that looks in on the kitchen
  • Remove the shelves next to the fireplace in the living room
  • Prime and paint the paneling in the kitchen using this method (not sure what color we’ll go for…)
  • Redo the kitchen backsplash (check out for tile along with clearance stuff from local vendors)
  • Get all new kitchen hardware (check out local places, online stuff, and big box stores for a deal)
  • Prime and paint the oak cabinets in the kitchen using this method (again, not sure what color)
  • Finally refinish and reupholster the craigslist rocker that we got a while back
  • Hang mirror(s) in the office for dry erase message board(s) to keep posts & projects straight
  • Replace a ton of light fixtures (too many to list) <– we replaced the one in the master bedroom and the nursery and removed the wonky corner light in the living room along with two awkwardly placed ceiling fans
  • Remove all the door handles, hinges, and doorknobs in the house and refinish them in oil-rubbed bronze
  • Frame out the mirror in the hall bathroom
  • Paint the vanity in the hall bathroom
  • Hang a thick drapey curtain in front of our walk-in closet
  • Organize our closet and dresser (and stop piling pjs and underwear on the floor of the closet) <– this took us waay too long to do
  • Wallpaper or stencil the sink nook in the master bedroom <–we painted it the same color as the bedroom to help it blend in for now
  • Frost or add curtains to the window in the master bathroom (and possibly the other two bathroom windows) <– so far we’ve added a big ol’ mirror in the window above the bedroom sink to block the view
  • Turn the area between the addition and the old house with the sliders leading out onto it into a sweet outdoor cutting garden slash alfresco dining room (it’s near the kitchen, and it seems to get enough light for potted herbs)
  • Make built-ins around the washer and dryer to create mini mudroom function and replace cabinet doors up top with pull out baskets or drop down blinds
  • Paint the front door
  • Remove the most awkward mirror in the history of the world (the one on the back of the guest bathroom door that reflects the full body of the person on the toilet)
  • Spray paint or stain the legs of the sectional so they’re not so pale and dorky<– we used oil-rubbed bronze spray paint for a subtle metallic effect
  • Frame out the porch columns so they’re chunky and square instead of ornate and curvy
  • Plant evergreen trees around the perimeter of the property for more privacy from the side, back, and even part of the front (waiting for them to “fill in” will be the hardest part, but getting smaller plants will save us money so we’ll hopefully have patience)
  • Pump up the curb appeal with more landscaping upgrades
  • Limb up the magnolia in the front that blocks the entire house
  • “Wallpaper” the big hallway (off of the kitchen, living room, and entryway) with mixed and matched white frames
  • Accidentally kill our beloved ceramic dog by dropping a frame on his head <–Every list needs some comic relief, and John got ‘er done
  • Paint the back of the future dining room built-ins something fun and bright
  • Add new hardware to the bottom cabinets of the built-ins
  • Replace the medicine cabinet in the guest bathroom with a charming mirror
  • Remove the annoying off-centered towel bar below the window in the hall bathroom and frame out the base of the window to hide the damage
  • Hang a giant grid of ribba frames above the sectional in the living room and figure out a cheap art solution
  • Hang a ceiling medallion in Clara’s nursery to cover the cracks
  • Update and paint the vanity in the master bathroom <– oops, we still haven’t updated and painted the base, but we removed the chunky granite lip around the backsplash and hung our quatrefoil mirror and painted the walls, so that’s a start
  • Paint the dark brick fireplace in the kitchen using this method
  • Add crown molding to the guest room, the playroom, and the nursery
  • Stencil or wallpaper something (we’re down with some fun tone on tone pattern – maybe in the office or the hall bathroom or the playroom)
  • Chalkboard paint something. It’s too much fun to deny the bean.
  • Stencil the inside of Clara’s closet and her ceiling- just for some subtle fun
  • DIY a sandbox/baby pool for Clara
  • Add some fun organizational stuff to the laundry room wall near the door (a hook for dog leashes, storage for shoes, a calendar painted on the wall?)
  • Make or buy or refurbish a long bench for the foot of the bed (ours is too small and a bit darker than we’d like)
  • Get a vintage hanging chair (from a thrift store or craigslist?) for the sunroom
  • Hang a ton of lanterns or paper pendants from the sunroom ceiling
  • Build a more formal looking compost bin (right now we use the same large tupperware method we used in the last house)
  • Spray paint our rain barrel to help it blend in (and plant stuff in front of it)
  • Create some raised beds for an edible herb, veggie, and fruit garden
  • Make a beanbag for Clara’s room (her closet’s big enough for a little reading nook)
  • Frame out our mirrored bathroom door for a more polished look
  • Get some string lights outside on the patio and over the future deck
  • Hang a swing from a tree out back
  • Retrofit our daybed in the playroom so that a trundle can be pulled out beneath it (so it can sleep two people instead of one in a pinch- good for kid sleepovers I think)
  • Build a play kitchen for Clara
  • Paint a giant canvas or two to add color to the walls of some of our undone rooms (the dining room, the office, the playroom, etc)
  • Hunt down some thrift store or craigslist bedside tables and refinish them for the master (drawers for some hidden storage please!)
  • Recover the leather parsons chair in the corner of our living room (at the white desk) with a bright fun fabric slipcover
  • Add patio lighting (large clear glass bulb lights and maybe even path lights too?)
  • Add a clothesline somewhere (nothing beats that fresh smell)

These are more long-term (so they’re underlined):

  • Create a 300 square foot paver patio on the side of the house <— Woo to the hoo. It’s dizone.
  • Refinish the various wood floors throughout the house (the same shade for a nice cohesive look- mocha? dark brown? ebony? charcoal?)
  • Turn the fireplace in the kitchen into a double-sided fireplace that also opens up into the living room (call the mason who helped open the doorway in our old house just to make sure it’s possible and get an estimate)
  • Create a huge doorway between the kitchen and the future dining room that lines up with the large picture window in the future dining room
  • Build/adapt a custom island for the eat-in area of the kitchen near the fireplace
  • Convert the carport into a garage (and pick out a killer garage door to add some dimension and architecture to our flat little rancher)
  • Add french doors between the future dining room and the office (for privacy and tons of charm)
  • Replace the flooring in the kitchen and mudroom/laundry room (with cork?)
  • Add a trellis arch around the new garage door so it’s all lush and pretty
  • Build a deck, hopefully with the help of John’s dad
  • Build Clara a swingset
  • Change the roofline out front (add some peaks for dimension and to make it more cohesive with the house’s shape from the back)
  • DIY a pool someday (John thinks this idea is insane, mind you)
  • Build a sunken trampoline that’s flush to the ground (far away from our future pool, haha)

Furnishings To Slowly Save Up For:

  • A queen sized bed for the master (so we don’t have to sleep on our mattress on the floor anymore)
  • A big charcoal gray u-shaped sectional for the living room (I’ve dreamed about having a big enough living space for a sectional for at least the past three years)
  • His and hers dressers for the master bedroom that we can refinish (preferably super cheap on craigslist or from the thrift store) <–we decided we only needed one dresser since the walk-in closet has a bunch of shelves and cubbies, and happily inherited John’s parents’ old one
  • A loooong console to go between the back wall and the sectional <– we built our giant 12′ console table when we couldn’t find something that worked in stores or on craigslist
  • A larger TV stand/media center for the living room (ours is laughably dinky, but we’ll craigslist it and put the money toward something that’ll fit the space better- hopefully something thrifted or even something we can build ourselves)
  • A giant rug to define the new seating area in the living room (8 x 10? 9 x 11?)
  • A giant rug for the master bedroom (8 x 10? 9 x 11?)
  • Some kick-arse stools for the new island in the kitchen once it’s there (find something cheap and reupholster it?)
  • A giant round wooden pedestal table for the future dining room
  • Comfy chairs for the future dining table (preferably upholstered parsons chairs so they look library-ish and casual as opposed to hard and wood-heavy) <– got ’em on Craigslist for $25 a pop, but we still have to upholster or slipcover them
  • New shower curtains and bathroom towels and accessories for the hall bath and guest bathroom
  • New energy efficient appliances for the kitchen and the laundry room (we’re waiting for some killer deals and plan to check out craigslist and scratch & dent stuff).
  • A full sized bed frame, mattress, and box spring for the guest room
  • A big cabinet or console table for the hallway off of the kitchen (thrifted/craigslisted and refinished?) <– we just used the one we used to have in the entryway
  • A new console table for the entryway <– since ours is now in the hallway off of the kitchen
  • Two statement making chairs (preferably matching) for the office <– got those for $35 a chair at an antique shop, but still have to repaint and reupholster them
  • Patio furniture and planters, pillows, etc
  • A large leggy armoire or some sort of tall cabinet for the weird nook to the left of our bed (as you face it)
  • That darn West Elm capiz chandelier that I’m obsessed with for over the future island in the kitchen
  • A large wooden (Restoration Hardware-esque) table for the future deck (maybe we’ll build it?)

Of course we’ll do a lot of this stuff over the course of the next few years (our first house took us 4.5 years to finish) so there’s no need to cry for us or anything. Haha. We’ve learned to enjoy the journey and just take things one day/project/victory at a time. And seriously, is there anything more fun than crossing things off? Well, making type red is pretty fun too. As for the method to our “project order,” we don’t really think there is one. We definitely jump around from room to room just to stay excited and not feel too regimented and “forced” into doing something that we might not want to deal with yet (or be in the mood for). After a big project (or a string of big projects) sometimes we’re happy to take a breather and tackle the little stuff for a while. And other times we’re psyched to keep our momentum up and start planning the next big project right away (like when we built our giant console table and then switched right over to our big patio build). Who knows what’s next. Should be interesting. Or boring. Or comical. Or baaaaad. You know we share it all.

Psst- Check out this floor plan post which might make some of the major layout changes & renovations that we’ve listed above a bit more clear. And check out our Current House page to see a lot of the crossed off projects mentioned above.

Psssst- Adorable “I heart lists” stationery found here on Etsy.


  1. says

    “Paint a giant canvas or two” I’m with you girl! My husband got me 18′ of rolled canvas for mother’s day! 18 feet!!! It’s 6 feet wide and I am already planning a huge 9’x6′ painting for my dining room….once I get it stretched. He ordered it from and I think it was pretty reasonable. I’m was actually inspired by this paper I found on Pinterest:

    Wouldn’t it make a lovely painting!?

    Chris Loves Julia

    • Margaret says

      I love Pintrest but I’m so confused about how it works. I signed up for an invite months ago and I am still not able to sign up. Does anyone want to shed some light on how I can get an invite?

      PS: Julie I love your pinned stuff :)


    • says

      Pop by our Facebook page and ask someone to send you an instant invite! It seems like lots of folks are sharing them so it’s a quick way to get on. Good luck!


    • says

      haha amanda we can’t wait to see your updated list either…but since i teach during the day, i was working on a project last night with my roommate (as a surprise for the hubs) and she had to keep saying, “it’s ok. it will look beautiful. it’s taking longer because your life is not a blog.” haha sometimes i get so wrapped up in the AMAZING things that happen (on places like YHL) that i forget that trying to keep that pace at my house would be crazy! :)

  2. Rachel says

    I love all the projects you have planned for Clara! I guess you would use Ana White’s plans to build the play kitchen? And just think – now you can sew an adorable little curtain for below the play sink.

    It would be totally insane if you guys DIY’d a pool. Is that even possible??

    • says

      Well one of us thinks it is. Haha. We’d have to rent some equipment and do a ton of research, but where there’s a will there’s (usually) a way.


    • says

      My parents were crazy enough to DIY a pool, but they did hire subcontractors for certain parts (and my dad grew up working for my grandfather’s construction company), BUT it can be done! John, Sherry… you guys should totally DO IT!

    • Amanda says

      I’m sort of with John on this one. While having a pool would be tons of fun, DIYing a pool sounds really hard, pools cost a ton of money to maintain (full disclosure: I am the cheapest person on the planet so my a ton of money is probably not a lot to someone else), and involve some pretty strong chemicals to clean (I would think they do anyway). I vote that you become friends with someone with a pool. You could even become friends with people who DIYed their pool :-)

    • says

      To add to the it’s-complicated aspect, I want a salt water pool. No chemicals like chlorine! Wahoooo. But still hard to whip up. Although you know I love a challenge. We’ll see where we end up! It’ll be years from now anyway because we want Clara and her potential sibling(s) to be older so the pool’s not a worry when they’re little. If I can get John on board someday. Haha.


  3. laura says

    ugh…you guys make me feel lazy! you guys have only lived there a few months and look at all the stuff you’ve done!! As far as kitchen hardware goes…check out Ebay shops….I got all the hardware I needed for my kitchen and hallway cupboards and then some (ordered quite a few extra) for only $84!! and it is nice heavy duty antiqued bronze, modern hardware…the same ones were $8 a piece at Menards!!!! I was pretty pleased with that deal! :)

  4. Laura says

    One thing that occurs to me whenever you guys start exploring floor options – leave samples in a corner somewhere for a week or two. See if/how much dust they collect. I love our black bedroom furniture but wow does it collect dust fast!

    I love the sunken trampoline idea.

    • Sara says

      I had to laugh at the stock tank pool because when I was younger we lived on a dairy farm and we had an old stock tank that wasn’t being used anymore for cattle that we used as a swimming pool. It was much smaller, but perfect for young kids.

  5. says

    Congratulations on all your list progress! And no, there’s not much more fun than crossing off list items :) I *finally* crossed off a big one by finishing some thrifted storage cabinets for our dining room. Whew! One list item down, only 8 bajillion to go, hahaha.

    I just noticed “DIY a pool” on your list! I’m with John but would die if you pulled it off…die, then come back to life and steal the idea!

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