Listy McListerface: Updated

So sorry to everyone who requested an update on this sooner! We first shared our new house to-do list back in May and later updated it at the end of July, so this check-in is well overdue. But one fun thing about going longer than you meant to before updating a list is getting to cross things off like crazy. Picture me grinning maniacally for a far too extended period like the people in this video who think they’re getting their photos taken while the camera’s really on video mode.

These posts came about when people asked us 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. They said “share it!” and I said “aight, boo” and now we update it every few months, just to see where we’re going and to take a moment to appreciate what we’ve accomplished. I love lists like this because even when it feels like we’re all over the place and some projects are taking forever, seeing nearly 90 things crossed off after five and a half months of living here is pretty dang exciting. And addicting. Just looking at this list makes us want to dive into about five more projects simultaneously.

– The Front Yard (20% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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 (25% Complete) –

To Do:

  • 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)
  • Add a few planters, a new double-wide door mat, new porch lighting, etc

– The Garage (3% Complete)

To Do:

  • Change out the tiny/rusty light over the garage doors (we attempted this, hence the 3% ranking, but we’re not sold on it, so we might return/replace it)
  • 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 (70% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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
  • 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) –

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) 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 could be fun. (Phase 2)

– The Dining Room (7% 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 (I’m about halfway done, hence the half-crossed off line)
  • Repaint the walls
  • Upgrade lighting and curtains
  • Add furniture, a rug (?) and art

– The Living Room (10% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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 (7% Complete)

To Do:

  • Take down the old curtains
  • Clean and re-seal the wood floors
  • Paint walls and trim and ceiling (don’t mind that little white table in the middle of everything, we were using that to shoot something)
  • Add a double desk work area somewhere – perhaps coming out from the middle of the left wall like a peninsula (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 (7% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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
  • Paint the pantry door and the door to the garage
  • Prime and paint the woodwork and trim
  • Paint 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?)
  • 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)
  • Full kitchen reno for Phase 2 (replace the faux brick vinyl floors, damaged cabinets, laminate counters, 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 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)

To Do:

  • 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)

To Do:

  • 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?)
  • Add built-ins along the entire bed wall (with an integrated window seat, hidden storage, and a nook for the bed to tuck into)
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (there’s nothing in there)
  • Bring in art, curtains, etc.

– 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 (15% Complete) –

To Do:

  • 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) –

To Do:

  • 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 (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)
  • Stain/paint the bannister and posts 
  • 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 (50% Complete)

To Do:

  • 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 entire wall of built-ins somewhere?
  • Build a bench seat in Clara’s deep sloped ceiling-ed closet nook with beadboard or shaker shingles on the ceiling and wallpaper on the back wall (we want it to feel like a little playhouse within her room)
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)

– Future 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 hang curtains
  • Furnish the room (we’re going to hold off on major decorating decisions until we find out what this bun of ours is in early December)
  • 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 stuff 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 the 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 a more washer-proof flooring under the appliances like tile (we ended the hardwoods right in front of them so we could use something more water-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
    • 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) –

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 (we’ve replaced around 15% 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)

To Do:

  • 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)

To Do:

  • 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 fun wooden playhouse for Clara
  • Plant an edible garden (not sure what the deer won’t eat, so I’ll have to do some research)
  • Build a swing set
  • 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

Thankfully the journey is a lot more exciting than the destination is for us (more on that here), so if our list makes your brain fog up: 1) sorry about that, and 2) we’re a weird breed of human who actually loves stuff like this (we upgraded our house for fun for years well before this ever became a job of ours). We’ve also learned that taking things one day/project/victory at a time keeps us from getting too overwhelmed, so if you’re wondering how we choose what to do next or how we avoid getting overwhelmed, 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 also jump around a lot, which seems to keep our momentum up. For example, right now we’re:

  • halfway done peeling wallpaper in the dining room
  • just getting our Phase 1 kitchen makeover rolling
  • contemplating wall colors for the hall bathroom upstairs and the guest room
  • beginning to brainstorm what we want in our office to make it functional for two people (and to add a lot more storage/work space)

So that’s what’s next on the agenda. How do you organize your house-related to-do lists? Do you use your smart phone? A good old fashioned notepad? Is it all up here (points to head)?


    • says

      Those are heat registers. Many homes with second floors have those in our area, and I HATE them! I have been on the hunt for something more decorative (like a pretty round metal vent from a place like Rejuvenation) but so far I haven’t found any that would fit. Never giving up though!


    • CohoesMom5 says

      What about making a cover with a metal grate (like the one you used to stencil the pillow) and a round frame?

    • Jan says

      Would those be the cold-air returns for the furnace? We have them in our house too–on both floors–they’re either painted the same color of the wall or covered with the matching wallpaper. I honestly don’t even notice them. The heat registers are at the baseboards and those drive me a bit nuts because they often are in the way of furniture.

      That said, I do get a chuckle at how ceiling light fixtures are in again …we have them in our early-’60s colonial, but they went out of style in the ’70s, if I recall, to be replaced with ceiling fans in the ’80s. The more things change, the more they stay the same, as they say ;-)

  1. Heather D says

    Wow! You have made alot of progress. We have our laundry “closet” on our second floor as well and we love it. Definitely measure the space before you buy a new washer or dryer. When our dryer went, I didn’t thing anything of it and just ordered a new dryer. Most of the dryers look the same size in the showroom. When Home Depot came to deliver it, they couldn’t fit it in the closet due to the dryer vent hookup. The closet was not deep enough. I had to exchange it for a different model. Our house is 15 years old and the closet was definitely not sized for the newer larger models. I think there is a way to cut into the wall to fit it but we didn’t want to get into a large project.

  2. says

    Our yard remains our number 1 priority. It’s 3 lots and was left unattended for 18 months before we moved in. Our “to do” list is created a little by the weather (rain and winds vs. sun), by how much we’ve done and how tired we are, and our evolving vision for the land.

    The hub and I often walk around the yard saying, “Let’s talk short term vs. long term…what stays? what goes? what’s done where?”

    Then when it’s sunny, we do bit by bit. It’s random but it works for us, as there’s only so many sunny days right now. It also keeps motivation high, as there’s so much to do which means we can pick/choose areas easily.

  3. says

    I’m a huge list fan too…they have been essential in keeping our remodel on track, and between crossing things off my list, and looking at before and after photos, I feel less discouraged. Do you all ever feel daunted looking at what is left? We have been remodeling (and living) in our house for 17 months now and there is still sooo much to do. You can check out our before and after photos here if you are curious!

    • says

      I’m not going to lie. Sometimes seeing all of the untouched corners of this house and all of the uncrossed bullets make me a little antsy. Like I want to clone myself and work on twenty spots at once. But it really was a great learning experience when it took us 4.5 years to finish our first house. It taught us both that nothing happens overnight and the best changes are made sort of in layers and phases over time. If you have unlimited funds and a team of helpful elves you could finish your house in a month, but I bet you wouldn’t love it as much as working on it over the years, just slowly letting it evolve and learning what you LOVE! I think that journey aspect of it makes the rooms so much more functional (and meaningful) to you as you go!


    • Lisa in Seattle says

      If you have unlimited funds and a team of helpful elves you could finish your house in a month, but I bet you wouldn’t love it as much as working on it over the years… Challenge accepted. I hereby volunteer to test this theory. Please send the elves and a semi-trailer full of cash ASAP!

  4. says

    Y’all have made so much progress in the short time you’ve been there! (I love these list updates) :)

    By the way – so jealous of the potential with that storage room. I’ve always wanted a legit bunkroom (I blame pinterest…) :D

  5. says

    Hey guys, sorry to be commenting with such a petty little thing, but– you’re spelling veranda wrong. Boo. But on the plus side, you guys really have come a long way in… how many months? Amazing. And the vanity upgrades you posted yesterday are awesome!

  6. Amanda says

    Re: the brainstorming area in your office. We bought an enormous (10 ft X 5 ft) white board. (We got it from Schalow Manufacturing in Powhatan Co.) It is pretty much our brain. I keep project lists and to do lists and calendars on it. We brainstorm everything from new designs to gift ideas for our Christmas list. We even reserve the last couple inches for our son who is using it to practice his letters. I highly recommend it. Plus it is just fun to write and draw on a giant whiteboard.

  7. BrookeJ says

    Love the list! Wish I had my list for my house written out instead of in my head. I do have a quick question–is it your plan to complete phase 1 of the entire house before starting phase 2 areas or eventually work on both at the same time (does that make sense???).

    • says

      Good question! And I think the answer is: everything will happen on it’s own timeline, so we won’t do all Phase 1s before moving onto any Phase 2s if that doesn’t make the most sense to us (and it probably won’t). You’ll notice only the kitchen and bathrooms have phases (most other rooms don’t need full gut-jobs so we just work on them and slowly evolve them over time without gutting anything in the middle of that) so I think it could more likely be that we’ll tackle Phase 2 of the half bath (an easier one) quite possibly when we do Phase 2 of the kitchen (since they’ll both be getting the same new flooring I think) but that might be before we even finish Phase 1 on the hall bathroom upstairs.


  8. Em says

    I know putting a bench and shaker shingles in Clara’s closet sounds like a cool idea, but before you know it she is going need that closet space! Tweens and teens like a lot of clothes and shoes…you don’t want to eliminate any storage space. And when she’s a little older she might not want her closet to look like a little girl’s playhouse (singles might not be easy to remove). Just something to think about (I’m sure it’s not easy to think that she won’t be a little girl forever!)

    • says

      Thanks for the thoughts Em! Thankfully doing something to the sloped roof in there won’t inhibit storage space, and knowing myself, I’d actually enjoy a Clara closet redo in 4 years or so (I’m weird like that – and I picture her helping me redo it, which would be fun). In other words, I’d never add something for little Clara that I’m not up for the challenge of redoing for big girl Clara! I’ve also been debating a painted treatment to look like little roof scales or something (which would be super easy to paint right over) so I’ll keep you posted!


  9. Lauren (in PA) says

    Ah, love the Listy McListerson updates!

    Put’s me to shame, but inspires me greatly!

    Now…to go buy paint for my master bath…

    • Amy Shaffer says

      The trim in our house is an off-white color, and I would love to repaint it crisp white, but I can’t seem to pull the trigger. Seeing these pics with all the blue trim in your house helps me realize I can paint it slowly. I almost wish it was blue though so I would have more motivation!

    • says

      Haha! Oh yes, take it one day at a time. I still have some downstairs to tackle, but I keep telling myself “before this baby comes I’m determined to get it done.”


  10. says

    I love these lists! You guys are rockstar how renovators! I love your pace and how you think about things along the way. I think that is so smart. I’ve been in our house about 3.5 years and it is slow going. Now I’m starting to change the things that I did in the first place. It seriously is like a grownup dollhouse – and I love it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *