Listy VonListerson: Updated

These posts came about when people asked how we organize all the stuff that we have on our to-do list and we explained that we basically have one long run-on document that we update as we go. Back in May when we first shared this list, we didn’t get to cross anything off. But now that it has been a few months, some requests for an updated version rolled in and I was all “No, please dont make me cross things off!” Just kidding. I was all “Lemme at it! Ohmanohman I love crossing things off!” Picture the dog’s reaction in those Beggin’ strips commercials. And guess how many lines I got to make?  43. Which happens to by my favorite number from the days of beepers (anyone else still use 143?). Basically this post is a mythical unicorn and lists are my catnip.

– The Front Yard (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • Dig up all the quickly spreading ground cover
  • Remove the trees that are dead/decaying/diseased beyond repair (our house inspector helped confirm which ones had to go)
  • Aerate, level, and seed the yard
  • Make planting beds up front and mulch and plant them
  •  Get all exterior siding and trim repainted (there’s peeling paint, some rot, etc)
  • Redo old cracked concrete walkway from the driveway to the front door (add curves and pretty planting beds on both sides)
  • Add some pretty hard-scaping around the front (we’re still inspired by this house’s awesome landscaping – so we’d love to add something raised stone beds)
  • Plant a few green dwarf maples (it’s our favorite thing that we planted one at our current house – you can see it in this post under the window on the right)
  • Add some subtle exterior up-lighting (some of the neighbors have it and it’s crazy charming at night)
  • 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 (25% Complete) –

To Do:

  • Repaint the portico and sidelights (peeling paint = everywhere)
  • Arch the portico ceiling (it’s low and one house up the street has an arched ceiling with a gorgeous hanging lantern)
  • Add a few planters, a new door mat, new porch lighting, etc
  • Paint the front door

– The Garage (0% Complete)

To Do:

  • Repaint garage doors and add some nice hardware to beef them up
  • Add pergola over 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 if we can’t salvage them after the kitchen makeover (they’re dinged up and splintered in a bunch of spots, but would be great for the garage)
  • Redo four steps that lead from garage to 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 (35% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove the old carpet from the wood stairs
  • Paint blue trim in foyer
  • Paint the blue stair balusters
  • Remove wallpaper and repaint the walls
  • Remove the doors that block the flow into the kitchen (and the pretty view out the back windows that will someday be french doors)
  • Depending on how things go as we move in/live there, we might add a stair runner (seagrass? a colorful Dash & Albert runner?)
  • Replace the old foyer light eventually? (but paint the existing one in the meantime)
  • Replace tile? (only if it’s un-salvageable – there are a few areas where it’s pretty beat up but we’re hoping to work with it)
  • Since there are two closets in the foyer and we only need one for coats, so we want to build a craft and toy closet in the deeper foyer closet with a bunch of shelves to store Claraphernalia

– The Half Bathroom (30% Complete) –

To Do:

  • 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)
  • Replace tile floor? (only if it’s un-salvageable – which still remains to be seen) (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 could be fun. (Phase 2)

– The Dining Room (5% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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
  • Add furniture, a rug (?) and art

– The Living Room (5% Complete)

To Do:

  • Clean and re-seal the wood floors
  • Prime and paint the bright pink walls
  • Take down the old curtains
  • 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)
  • Whitewash the brick fireplace wall for a cozy vibe
  • Get gas logs as phase two after we save up our bucks
  • Add more can lights to evenly light the room (there are just three near the fireplace)
  • Turn the overhead beams into a coffered ceiling (like these)
  • Build/find a nice big built-in-looking cabinet that holds the TV?

– The Office (7% Complete)

To Do:

  • Take down the old curtains
  • Clean and re-seal the wood floors
  • Paint walls and trim and ceiling
  • Add double desk work area somewhere – perhaps coming out from the middle of the left wall (or the right wall between the windows)?
  • Bring in storage (bookcase, file cabinet, etc) – possibly cool build-ins around the bay window
  • Add curtains/window treatments
  • Hang art & create a brainstorm-zone on the walls (bulletin board? chalkboard?)
  • Add two large potted plants (lemon trees? fiddle leaf figs?) in front of the two front-facing windows

– The Kitchen (3% Complete)

To Do:

  • Take down the old curtains
  • Remove the wallpaper and paint the walls
  • Convert giant triple window into french doors leading onto deck
  • Open wall between kitchen & living room then add built-ins on either side (sort of like the dining room built-ins in our current house)
  • Prime and paint the woodwork that wraps around the bottom half of the room’s walls
  • Full kitchen reno (replace the faux brick linoleum, damaged cabinets, laminate counters, bad lighting, old broken appliances, etc)
  • Perhaps try our hand at heated floors under some fresh tile (that might spill into the foyer and hall bath if we can’t salvage that tile)
  • Organize the pantry with pull out drawers and bins and containers (and paint the door a fun color or replace it 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?)
  • Get water filter for under the sink
  • Add window treatment and pendant over the sink & a larger new light fixture over the eat-in area
  • Figure out how to create a drop zone for coats, shoes, etc (maybe in the garage if not in here?)

– The Sunroom (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • Rip up old carpet and padding
  • Permanently remove the broken base heater
  • Eventually retile the floor with outdoor-safe stone to upgrade the old concrete floors (down the line for Phase 2)
  • 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) – we’re envisioning something like this
  • Build a brick outdoor fireplace off of the sunroom after we open it up? Kind of like this, but different…
  • Add beadboard to the ceiling and paint it soft blue?

– The Master Bedroom (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Repaint all of the cream trim and doors
  • Add wood blinds to all windows
  • Repaint the off-white ceilings and walls
  • Add built-ins along the entire window wall (with integrated window seats, hidden storage, and display shelves with thick molding)?
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (there’s nothing in there)
  • Maybe add some textured wallpaper like this to the ceiling, just to spice things up…
  • Bring in art, curtains, etc.

– The Master Bathroom (5% Complete)

To Do:

  • Take down glass shower door
  • Bring privacy to the window in there (frost it? blinds? window treatment?)
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Paint walls and trim and ceiling
  • Replace the bathroom mirror & upgrade the light in the sink nook and the bathroom
  • Rip up the carpet in sink area (we didn’t put hardwoods there because we eventually want to tile it)
  • 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 (0% Complete) –

To Do:

  • Repaint all of the cream trim
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • New light fixture
  • Rip up the carpet (we didn’t put hardwoods in there because we eventually want to tile it so the whole bathroom/closet “wing” that’s off of the bedroom has cohesive flooring)
  • Organize/build out/pimp the entire space (we’re envisioning cabinetry with drawers, shelves, rods at different heights, etc)

-Upstairs Hallway (60% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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)
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Replace the old hallway lights (or paint existing ones? not sure)
  • Convert hallway linen closet into built-in open shelves or cabinets with shelves over them (sort of like this?)
  • Add crown molding
  • Add thick wood wainscoting (like we have in the kitchen and living room) to the upstairs hallway to break up the long space?

– Clara’s Room (20% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Repaint all of the blue trim and doors
  • Add window blinds, curtains, art, etc.
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Make entire wall of built-ins somewhere? Maybe bookcases surrounding the windows?
  • Build a bench seat in Clara’s deep sloped ceiling-ed closet nook with beadboard on the ceiling and wallpaper on the back wall
  • Add crown molding
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)

– Spare Room/Possible Someday Nursery (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Repaint all of the mauve trim and doors
  • Add wood blinds (for light blocking) and curtains
  • We’re going to hold off on major decorating decisions until this room actually has a use (if/when baby #2 is on the way, we’d love for this to become a nursery)
  • Repaint the walls and ceiling
  • Add crown molding
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)

– The Guest Bedroom / Craft Room (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Repaint all of the cream trim and doors
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Bring in a bed and a dresser/desk that can accommodate my sewing machine/crafting so this room can multi-task (it has the prettiest view/light – I’d love to creep in there and sew/paint on Sunday afternoons)
  • Organize and build out some craft/gift wrap shelving in closet (lots of shelves and bins, etc)
  • Add crown molding
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (nope, there’s nothing in there either!)

– The Hall Bathroom (5% Complete)

To Do:

  • Paint the door and trim
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Replace the faucets and mirrors and 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 (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Lay more washer-proof flooring under the appliances (we ended the hardwoods right in front of them so we could use something more leak-safe in there)
  • Completely redo the nook (new doors for noise control, updated energy star appliances, new counter, new cabinets – or more cabs 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) –

To Do:

  • 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
    • 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 (0% Complete) –

To Do:

  • 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 (there are about ten million of those to tend to)
  • 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 (20% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove the giant oak tree that’s practically growing into the house (the inspection indicated that the roots could severely damage the house’s foundation if we don’t get ‘er down – which is pretty sad since it’s cute but just way too close)
  • Patch the deck hole after the tree is removed
  • Strip and stain/seal deck
  • Replace rotten/ warped boards
  • Add wide stairs off the back of the deck that line up with the new french doors we’ll add to the kitchen
  • 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 (0% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove random slate pieces from the backyard and aerate and seed
  • Transplant a few things for a better layout, like the pretty peony bushes in the middle of nowhere (not pictured)
  • Plant holly bushes for privacy from the other houses that our wooded lot backs up to (Phase 1)
  • Build a fun wooden playhouse tucked back into the woods for Clara
  • Plant an edible garden
  • Build a swing set
  • Redo old cracked concrete walkway between garage and deck (not pictured)
  • Add more privacy plantings – tiered trees, bushes, and flowers (Phase 2)
  • Build some raised planters and hardscaping
  • 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 up around it to make a cool little hideaway (like this)
  • Build air conditioner cover with wood boards like this

But don’t look at this crazytown list and cry for me Argentina. By some strange evolutionary glitch, we’re hopelessly in love with the act of upgrading a house (we did this stuff for fun far before we did this as an actual job). So the journey is actually a lot more exciting than the destination is for us (more on that here). We’ve also learned that taking things one day/project/victory at a time keeps us from getting too overwhelmed. And have I mentioned how much I like to cross things off?

As for the method to our “project order,” we 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). And we jump around a lot. At this very moment, we’re thinking that we’d love to tackle these things next:

  • repaint the salmon walls in the living room
  • whitewash the living room fireplace
  • strip and re-stain/seal the deck
  • ORB the light in the foyer

So those are on deck for ya. How do you guys manage your house to-do lists? Apps? One run-on handwritten list? A multi-colored spreadsheet? (Don’t laugh, that would be John’s idea of a good time.)


  1. says

    seems like a gnarly mountain of work, but it’s pretty cool that you get to work from such a blank canvas *and* that you plan on being in the home for the long haul. that combo’s life and blog paydirt. lookin forward to seeing that progress!

  2. Jamie says

    the accountant in me forces me to point out the “o” instead of a “0”: Unfinished Storage Room (o% Complete).

  3. janice says

    WOW !! So much done and yet . . . so much to do!! :) It’s looking great though and you both continue to be SUCH an inspiation and so much fun to read!

  4. Katherine says

    I know it hasn’t been long… but how is the “new” finish on the downstairs hardwoods holding up? I need to do something to bring mine back to life and I wondered how the product you used holds up.

    And btw, I’m totally in love with the front door color!


  5. says

    It’s awesome how much you have done!!!

    Since I read your posts every day and you update every day, it seems like you are slowly chipping away, but in reality, I’d say you are speeding right along!

    I love it so far!


  6. Annie says

    Not only do I have a color-coded spreadsheet for house projects to keep track of tasks and costs, there is a companion color-coded timeline for said projects! Excel dorks, unite! :)

  7. says

    I totally need to put mine all in one list like this, but right now I’ve got a million lists all over the place: OneNote, Excel, white board, Wunderlist app on my iPhone, and in every notebook I get my hands on. I love to make the lists… Sounds like I need a list of all my lists so I can start consolidating, huh? :)

  8. says

    I don’t know when Listy got married and changed from McListerson to VonListerson, but congrats to her.

    You guys do such great work. It is amazing to see what you have done in such a small amount of time. You present it in such manageable chunks that I am always astonished to see a bajillion things crossed off!

  9. Melanie says

    Love the changes you’ve done so far! Can’t wait to see the living room walls and fireplace/brick painted! I don’t have a home yet (apartment living still) so swooning over your re-do’s makes me happy. However, I am a master excel list maker. My current wedding planning is organized in an 8 spreadsheet excel doc complete with color-coding, timelines and who’s doing it. I imagine i’ll do the same with a home someday!

  10. says

    I saw it on the original list, but “Claraphernalia” still made me giggle.

    The hubs and I are house-shopping right now and I’m so glad I have your blog to help me see all the potential in houses that need a little TLC. It’s much easier for me to envision changes since I’ve seen so many of your before-and-afters!

  11. says


    Sometimes I write things on my to do list after they are done so I can cross them off and feel more accomplished.


    Have you ever shared a pic of inside the garage? I read all your posts and I don’t remember seeing one. But I wouldn’t put it past me to forget.

    Great progress guys!

    • says

      That’s a good question! I don’t know if we have other than to show a pile of carpet a while ago. We’ll need to take some updated photos!


  12. Celia says

    Go ahead and call me a hippie, but I would love, love, love to see you two reconsider paving your driveway and/or limiting the amount of lawn you have. Impervious driveway materials (like asphalt) aren’t as kind to the environment as pervious materials (like gravel or cobblestone). And having lots of grass limits biodiversity — it’s a mono-crop kept in a perpetual state of sexual immaturity, i.e. no flowers for pollinators.

    I know you do make efforts to be “green” and I know a paved driveway and a lush lawn are lovely to have. Sorry to be such a hippie!

    • says

      It is totally possible to get swank, awesome permeable pavers and make a driveway that seems “paved” (ie solid) while still being enviro-friendly. My parents got a permeable paver driveway, and they really loved it. S&J, I’d recommend looking into options. I think you have plenty, since you don’t have a heavy freeze/thaw cycle like some parts of the country.

    • says

      I didn’t know much about the green/eco part of paving a drive way but as far as the other green (money) be prepared for the cost of concrete. We just extended our patio (10x10ft) I was shocked at the price. We were quoted 1500 and above but luckily the guy from Lowes that was contracted to build our fence did it for us at $1000. Just fyi if you haven’t had concrete poured before. It’s pricey

    • a says

      I just wanted to mention two things, granted I live in New England so it might not be the same in Richmond. I grew up with a gravel/stone driveway, it was miserable to maintain. In the winter we ended up shoveling stones as well as snow, in the spring when the snow melted, it rutted and was muddy and we had to pick out the stones from the surrounding yard where they ended up and regrading the driveway. So I can totally understand wanting to pave. But I did want mention, that in places that get lots of snow, permeable pavers also run the risk of becoming clogged due to a build of sand and fine sediments. I don’t know how you treat your driveway in winter, but sanding a permeable paver isn’t recommended. Something to be aware of for people considering permeable pavers in areas that get significant snowfall/ice.

  13. says

    You guys and your lists!! So inspired. We are moving soon and I’m planning a big ol’ list for our new place. Can’t wait to start crossing off items :)

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