Listy McListerson (Updated)

Psst- For everyone asking what we did for Easter and what Clara found in her basket – check out those details here on Young House Life.

Brace yourself. This post is full of a whole lotta words. So feel free to skim. Or read this in one sentence intervals over the next two years. Haha. This actually came about when people asked how we organize all the stuff we have on our to-do list. We explained that we basically just have one long run-on document, and when folks kept asking us to share it (and update it as we went along), it sounded like our idea of a good time. So it’s high time that we actually updated it (you first saw it here and it has somehow been ten whole months since we revisited it to cross things off). And of course, because you wanted more words (right???) we added a little percentage thing at the end to evaluate how finished each room/space is (we have a few 70%+ guys and a few 0% ones too, haha). So pardon the kind of insane length, this really is just the doc that we use to remember what’s on the agenda and choose what to tackle next!

Oh and as for how we keep things straight, we just circle the small things that we want to tackle right away, cross things off as we go, and make a separate section for long-term projects and bigger furnishings 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 long term 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. So 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.

That explains why it took us nearly a year to start the kitchen redo. 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 our most recently completed updates (crossed off in red) and newly added projects (also in red):

To Do (But Not All At Once…):

  • Find fun saturated/patterned fabric and DIY some curtains (using this no-sew method and this sewing method) for the living room, future dining room, office, playroom, bedroom, hall sliders, guest room, etc.
  • Paint the living room, the dining room, the office, the big hallway, the small hallway, the master bathroom, the guest bedroom, the playroom, the nursery, the sunroom, the hall bathroom, the guest bathroom, and the master bedroom (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)
  • Stencil the office walls
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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, the nursery, redid the chandelier in the office and added a shade, and added recessed lights & pendants to the kitchen.
  • Remove all the door handles, hinges, and doorknobs in the house and refinish them in oil-rubbed bronze <— completed the exterior sliders and front door but no interior doors yet
  • 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)
  • 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
  • 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 with a nice big deck (it’s near the kitchen, and it seems to get enough light for potted herbs) <– we’re chomping at the bit to start this – just have to do some research, draw plans, and get a permit
  • Make built-ins around the washer and dryer to create mini mudroom function
  • 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
  • Paint the porch/rest of house’s siding a moody gray color (and the cream trim a nice crisp white)
  • Stain the concrete porch floor to gussy it up
  • 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 (curved garden beds, plantings along the bare spots of the house, more hydrangeas around the patio, etc)
  • 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
  • Add crown molding to the guest room, the playroom, and the nursery
  • Wallpaper something (we’re down with some fun tone on tone pattern – maybe in 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 place for the ironing board, a calendar 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
  • Build a dollhouse 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 for the master (drawers for some hidden storage please!)
  • Recover or replace the leather parsons chair in the corner of our living room (at the white desk)
  • 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 Projects:

  • 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 a peninsula to create an eat-in area of the kitchen and add more storage
  • 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 <— this is on the agenda for spring!
  • 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)
  • Eventually transition Clara into the playroom as her big girl room so the nursery can remain the nursery (a second kiddo is still a ways off for us though)

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) <– gotta get on this!
  • 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 peninsula in the kitchen once it’s there <–we got fun industrial stools from a school supply store
  • 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
  • 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 outdoor 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)
  • A large wooden (Restoration Hardware-esque) table for the future deck (maybe we’ll build it?)
  • A giant showstopping chandelier (hopefully something we can DIY) for over the dining table

General Room/Space Rundown And How Complete Each Area Is:

  • Front Yard: 15% complete (we painted the front door, limbed up the magnolia, removed the bushes that hid the house, and are working on garden beds and other areas, but we still have a lot of things to transplant/plant/trim/figure out)
  • Carport: 0% complete (we can’t wait to convert it into a garage once we’re more sure what we want with regard to windows/door/etc)
  • Living Room: 70% complete (we have most big things covered like painting, the sofa, a rug, the console we built, etc – but we have a lot of bare walls and still want to DIY/upcycle a bigger media cabinet and refinish the floors down the line)
  • Office: 75% complete (thanks to our built in desk, green chairs, stenciled walls, and the chair and file cabinet we have going on it’s really functional in there, but some of the walls are bare and we definitely need a rug and some window treatments – and we’d love to refinish the floors eventually)
  • Hall Bathroom: 5% complete (we hung the shower curtain higher and added some window trim for more balance (and to hide a demo hole) but that’s it. We definitely have a lot to do when it comes to painting, framing out the mirror, hanging art, etc)
  • Big Hallway: 90% complete (we’re so happy with our frame collage and the console table that lives in there, so we’re not planning anything major- although laying a fun patterned runner down on the floors that we hope to someday refinish would be fun)
  • Small Hallway: 0% complete (we want to add wainscoting, hang art, paint the walls, add crown molding, switch out the light, refinish the floors, etc)
  • Dining Room: 50% complete (we have the table and the built-ins pretty much worked out, but things like the entryway area that we want to add and a nice big light fixture for over the table are completely undone along with refinishing the floors)
  • Laundry Room: 90% complete (woot! this baby is the furthest along, maybe because it was only 3.5′ wide? haha)
  • Kitchen: 85% complete (we got a ton of big stuff checked off like a new floor and painted cabinets, but we still need to add some floor transitions, add trim to the back of the peninsula, add a message board or chalk board to the side of the pantry, and get two 4 x 6 area rugs that we love to soften things up – maybe from Dash & Albert?)
  • Playroom: 0% complete (it’s probably more like -50% complete since we have a ton of work just to get it back to 0% complete since it’s full of junk to be dealt with)
  • Clara’s Room: 80% complete (there are some walls we never hung stuff on, we want to add crown molding and refinish the floors, and we’re sure things will evolve more – and may completely change if we have a boy down the road and it becomes his nursery…)
  • Sunroom: 0% complete (like the playroom it should probably say -50% complete since there is so much stuff in there we need to clear out and then we can start doing things like painting, arranging furniture, hanging art, etc)
  • Master Bedroom: 35% complete (this room is still looking rough and we’re not sure about a lot of things- just waiting for inspiration to strike – which might involve repainting and rearranging furniture along with refinishing the floors)
  • Master Bathroom: 80% complete for now (oh happy day, we’re getting closer to completing our little update, but still have plans for a Phase 2 project when we want to do things like retile the floor)
  • Guest Bedroom: 60% complete (we painted, added some furniture – mostly leftover stuff that didn’t work in other rooms – but haven’t hung anything on the walls and we’d love to add crown molding and replace a few old furnishings over time, like our scratched old 6 year old malm dresser along with refinishing the floors)
  • Guest Bathroom: 5% complete (we switched out the mirror, put up a shower curtain and plopped down a bath mat – lots more to do!)
  • Basement Workshop: 0% complete (not only have we not touched it, it’s a total disaster with scrap wood and leftover stuff from the previous owners, so it needs some serious paring down and organization)
  • Side Lot: 2% complete (we want to naturalize it and make it sort of an orchard – now it’s just a weed-and-leaf-fest)
  • Deck: 2% complete (still working on research, then we have to draw plans and get a permit before we can start)
  • Patio: 60% complete (the patio itself is finished but the planting beds have a long way to go and we have big plans for a few undone corners)
  • Backyard: 0% complete (ack, we haven’t touched it – and it needs more than a little help)

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.

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

    Looking at your list make me feel better about our’s! We don’t list out all of our projects, just the larger things we’ like to do to the house and then smaller things happen as we go. But I love that you put everything out there! Maybe our list needs an update… :)

  2. Katie says

    You can cross of some of this one now, based on yesterday’s post! 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

  3. gia says

    I am happy that you still have so much more to accomplish on your list. It gives me hope that I’ll be reading your blog for a couple more years, at least. I have to admit, I was getting nervous that you were tackling so many big projects and that you guys would stop blogging. haha

    • says

      Nevahh! Hahah. We actually chat with our families about going in on a rental house or beach house with us when we run out of stuff to do on this house in a few years. It’s a good deal for them since we’ll do all the labor! Haha.


  4. says

    I make lists for everything ALL the time! I have one huge master list I dump things into and cross off on a regular basis, but I also keep post-it notes and my mini-moleskin notebook handy for lists on the go! Thanks for sharing yours!

  5. says

    Gah…I feel really lazy after reading this. You’ve done so much already in this new house! (The lights over the peninsula are still my favorite.)

    My to-do list is more like
    Get Tide-To-Go-Pen
    Use Tide-To-Go-Pen on coffee stain on shirt
    Learn to drink coffee without spilling on shirt.
    Also, stop wearing hair in ponytail to work every day.

    Oh, and Clara’s Easter was adorable. I LOVE the bunny.

    My husband made me an Easter basket this year. It was a disaster. He thinks he’s HILARIOUS.

    You can see it here if you’re interested

    • says

      Hahahah, I love/hate that terrible gift (love it for the way it made me laugh though). And I love your to-do list. My stain-removal to-do list is as follows: wear a sweater or purse or jacket over stained shirt to hide stain – or turn said stained item into pajamas. Done.


    • Stephanie says

      I definitely just cracked up (out loud at work…) at the whole stained shirt thing too. I’m wearing a white shirt today and super paranoid as I drink my venti coffee so I feel your pain.

    • says

      Love it! And so glad to hear they hold up so well. In the kitchen would you go with the indoor/outdoor ones or just the cotton weave ones? Can’t decide.


    • Heather W says

      Love Dash and Albert and have been wondering the same thing. I suppose you could wash the cotton ones if food or something gets on them but a shop owner here told me the indoor/outdoor really hold up and you can scrub or hose them off if something gets on them. So still not sure either. Would love to hear from anyone who has them in their kitchen too.

    • says

      I’m not sure if I’m replying correctly but I have a D&A cotton weave in my kitchen it is just fine. Better than fine, actually! I like the extra cushy-ness underfoot for when I’m at the stink or stove. You know, for all the cooking (read: pouring cereal) I do.

  6. Victoria R says

    I think I have another one you can cross off… Didn’t you make a composting bin out of palettes like last summer? I thought I remembered John making one, because we were going to try and copy it!

    About 15 from the bottom of the first section: •Build a more formal looking compost bin (right now we use the same large tupperware method we used in the last house)

    • karla says

      What if you just did a rug in front of the sink? Maybe 2×3 and one in front of the stove to match if you want something soft to stand on? I just love your cork floors so much and hate to see them so covered up! Of course it’s totally your choice! :)

    • says

      Haha, no worries! We can easily do that too- Clara just usually plays in there and while the cork is soft, it’s nice for her to flop down (or trip, which she does all the time) and land on a rug. Haha.


  7. Renee says

    Just curious – your house, from pictures of the outside, doesn’t look that big, yet your list suggests you’ve got a very nice “grow-able” home! I understand some was added on. How many square feet total?

    • says

      The house was originally about the size of our first house (1200 square feet) and then they added almost a 1000 square foot addition, so it’s around 2200 square feet. At first we thought it was too big, but since our family will grow and both John and I work from home, it’s working out really well. Especially since rooms like the sunroom and playroom are pretty much untouched (so there’s less to clean until they’re organized and in use, haha).


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