Listy VonListerstein

I’m not going to lie. These days this is pretty much all I want to do (add Burger, Clara, and John in there and I’m even more mooney-eyed and kissy-faced). But to everyone who requested an updated Listy post, I finally got ‘er done. We last shared our to-do list in November, so this check-in is well overdue – and I figured it could make us feel somewhat accomplished just to look at all the stuff we’ve crossed off since then. Picture me making Zoro-esque slicing sound effects with every slash (Teddy thought it was hilarious).

These posts were born when people asked how we organize all the stuff on our to-do list and I explained that we basically have one long run-on document that we update as we go. They said “share it!” and I said “done” and now we post it three or four times a year, just to see where we’re going and to take a second to soak up what we’ve accomplished. The bonus side effect is that looking at all of those not-crossed-off-yet bullets helps to get our brains going so we can plan the next few projects we want to tackle. Plus we get to snap some updated photos. Like a few spring-y outdoor shots like this.

– The Front Yard (20% Complete)

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 (30% 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)
  • Paint and panel the front triangle thing once we arch it (or before? the gray triangle just feels flat lately)
  • Add a few planters, a new double-wide door mat, new porch lighting, etc

– The Garage (3% Complete)

To Do:

  • Change out the tiny/rusty light over the garage doors (we attempted this, hence the 3% ranking, but we’re not sold, so we might replace them)
  • Repaint garage doors and add some nice hardware to beef them up
  • Add a pergola over the double garage doors with vines creeping over it
  • Finish the interior of the garage with drywall to create a workshop on one side and storage around the perimeter (add pegboards, shelving for paint and tools, etc)
  • Reuse kitchen cabinets in the garage (they’re dinged up in a bunch of spots around the doors and frames, but would be great for the garage)
  • Redo the four steps that lead from the garage to the kitchen (remove old carpeting and paint them? rebuild them completely?)
  • Build a box on casters for scrap wood storage in the garage (we need a system to keep it from being all over the place)
  • Maybe we should get old lockers and paint them fun colors and remove some of the doors for storage? (love these!)
  • Possibly add plumbing for a utility sink out there (we’ve always wanted one in our “workshop”)

– The Foyer (80% Complete)

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
  • Deal with the grout that haunted my dreams
  • Replace tile? (only if it’s unsalvageable – there are a few areas where it’s pretty beat up)
  • Turn the other foyer closet into a shoe/coat closet with some functional built-ins

– The Stairs (90% Complete) –

  • Remove the old carpet from the wood stairs
  • Paint blue railing spindles and trim
  • Stain the top rails dark to match the runner
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Paint the stair risers
  • Install new striped runner with a rug pad under it
  • Hang some art
  • Possibly hang a big chandelier overhead since the ceiling is so lofted above the top of the stairs

– The Half Bathroom (35% Complete) –

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… (Phase 2)

– The Dining Room (10% 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 (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 (20% Complete)

To Do:

  • Take down the old curtains
  • Clean and re-seal the wood floors
  • Paint all the blue trim, baseboard, crown, etc (66 window mullions = yikes)
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Add a double desk that J & and I can share somewhere (we’re about halfway through this one, hence half the cross out)
  • Bring in more storage (bookcase, file cabinet, craft/photography zone, etc)
  • Get good desk chairs
  • Add curtains/window treatments
  • Hang art & create a brainstorm-zone on the walls (bulletin board? chalkboard?)
  • Make sure there’s a kid zone for Clara and Teddy (we have a table for them, but we want to update that area)
  • Get a big cozy rug
  • Add two large potted plants (lemon trees? fiddle leaf figs?)

– The Kitchen (35% Complete)

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 (although we’re still on the fence about the pendant near the stove, so that might end up in our bedroom)
  • Paint the pantry door and the door to the garage
  • Prime and paint the woodwork and trim
  • Paint/stain the cabinets (they’re too beat up to keep forever, but they’ll eventually end up in the garage when we do a full kitchen reno)
  • Remove almond microwave over stove and add an inexpensive vent (put microwave in pantry)
  • Update the old almond fridge and dishwasher with affordable fixes (appliance paint and a panel change-out)
  • Organize the pantry (prime & paint it, add shelves & baskets, etc)
  • Update the old counters with concrete & seal them
  • Update the old floors with peel & stick tile like our first kitchen (this would be the end of Phase 1)
  • Full kitchen reno for Phase 2 (new heated tile floors, new cabinets, new counters, new appliances, backsplash tile, etc)
  • Convert giant triple window behind table into french doors leading onto the deck
  • Open the wall between the kitchen & living room and add built-ins on either side (sort of like the dining room built-ins in our last house)
  • Further pimp the pantry with pull out drawers (and replace the door with frosted glass?)
  • Amp up the “command center” area across from the triple windows
  • Paint the new kitchen french doors and door to the sunroom (black? charcoal? soft turquoise? white?)

– The Sunroom-Turned-Veranda (80% Complete)

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?)
  • Possibly add built-ins along the entire bed wall so there’s a nook for the bed to tuck into? Or some sort of window seats? More built-in storage would be great.
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (there’s nothing in there)
  • Bring in art, curtains, etc.
  • Add a fireplace (this is a Candice Olson inspired pipe dream)

– The Master Bedroom Sink Nook (50% Complete)

  • Rip up the carpet in sink area (we didn’t put hardwoods there because we eventually want to tile it)
  • Replace the mirror over the sink for something bigger
  • Paint the walls and the trim and the ceiling
  • Stencil and seal the subfloor (to tide us over until Phase 2)
  • Add some simple shelves to the empty side of the vanity for balance
  • Stain/paint the vanity and add new hardware
  • Phase 2 (a full reno where we knock down a wall and combine the master bathroom with this sink nook area)

– The Master Bathroom (30% Complete) –

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 (75% 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
  • Convert hallway linen closet into built-in open shelves or cabinets with shelves over them (sort of like this?)
  • Add crown molding
  • Maybe add thick wood wainscoting (like we have in the kitchen and living room) to the upstairs hallway to break up the long space?
  • Hang art

– Clara’s Room (90% Complete)

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 her deep sloped ceiling-ed closet into a little playhouse within her room
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)

– Nursery (90% Complete)

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 (rug, bring in crib, changing area, toy zone, chair for nursing, etc)
  • Make built-ins on either side of the crib (to accommodate a future twin bed lengthwise or full/queen widthwise)
  • Add crown molding
  • Repaint the walls and ceiling
  • Make a crib skirt and a mobile, hang art, etc
  • Paint the door a fun color like Clara’s (green?) and organize the closet
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (boo! there’s nothing in there!)
  • Finishing touches (line the curtains with blackout fabric, get a changing pad cover, add something on the crib wall, etc)

– The Guest Bedroom (12% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Repaint all of the cream trim and doors
  • Organize the closet that’s overflowing with gift wrapping supplies, fabric & sewing stuff, crafts, etc.
  • Clear out all the junk in this room since it sort of exploded when we tackled the nursery (we got this done 48 hours before Teddy was born, just in time for Nonna’s arrival)
  • Paint the walls and ceiling
  • Add crown molding
  • Add a ceiling light fixture (nope, there’s nothing in there either!)
  • Bring in a bed and a dresser/desk that can accommodate my sewing machine so this room can multi-task (it has the prettiest view/light – I’d love to creep in there and sew on Sunday afternoons)

– The Hall Bathroom (8% Complete)

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 (20% Complete)

To Do:

  • Remove old carpeting and install hardwoods
  • Replace the washer & dryer with something more energy efficient down the line (the washer died on this, so we tackled this faster than we thought)
  • Lay something under the washer and dryer (we used wood planks that we stained and sealed like we did at our last house to add stability and blend in with the hardwoods)
  • Completely redo the nook (new doors for noise control, new cabinets/shelving – or more cabs/shelves if we re-use the existing ones)
  • Add a swanky tile backsplash and some great art/lighting (I want to make it a fun little surprise jewel box at the end of the hallway)

– Unfinished Storage Room (0% Complete) –

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 50% of them so far)
  • Upgrade to nicer frames, drapes, sheets, and curtain rods over time (they’re not cheap, but we’d love to be “grown ups” someday – even if it takes us 10 years or so to get there!)

– The Back Deck (50% Complete)

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 swing set
  • Plant an edible garden (not sure what the deer won’t eat, so I’ll have to do some research)
  • Redo the old cracked concrete walkway between the garage and the deck
  • Add more privacy plantings around the rest of the yard – tiered trees, bushes, and flowers (we plan to save up for these and add more each year)
  • Build some raised planters and hardscaping
  • Possibly add a patio area somewhere around the deck?
  • Make a wooden teepee in the corner of the backyard with Clara and then plant some vines to grow around it to make a cool little hideaway (like this)
  • Build an air conditioner cover with wood boards like this

Whenever we share this list people wonder how we choose what to do next or know what order to tackle stuff in. We just do whatever sounds fun and whatever works with our current budget (barring anything that needs to be moved to the top of the list for safety or other extreme-urgency reasons). We jump around a lot, which seems to keep our momentum up, so instead of being so sick of doing small updates to the kitchen for ten weeks in a row we painted/stained the cabinets over the holidays and recently dove back in to update the counters with Ardex. As for what’s next on the list, we’re hoping to:

    • continue adding storage/function in the freshly painted office
    • finish up the nursery
    • organize and paint the guest room
    • nix the blue trim in the dining room
    • get back outside and do some privacy planting as soon as it’s a tiny bit warmer

What does your to-do list look like these days? Is it super long and detailed? All in your head? Just a few “on deck tasks” to keep you from getting overwhelmed? For some weird reason I feel more in control when I write it all down (just to get it out of my head I think) and then John and I can zero in on a few “next projects” and push the rest into the backs of our minds.


  1. says

    I have to say, you guys are unreal. I cannot believe what you’ve taken on and how much you’ve accomplished all while settling in and expecting #2!

    You are my inspiration.. as a mother of 3 who stays at home, if you guys can do all this, SO CAN I!

    The place looks amazing and you should be super proud.
    MB @

    • Pam the Goatherd says

      Mary Beth, I sigh with pleasure at that entryway/foyer/front hall, too. It’s so airy and fresh and welcoming…

  2. says

    thanks for the update. looking forward to the journey of seeing it all play out.

    can you please share where the two wall mirrors in the hall bathroom are from?


  3. Megan says

    Just gotta say, if you guys wanted to go ahead and leave out anything home related for the next oh, couple months or so, and just post family pictures, I wouldn’t have any complaints. :) (Although your list is quite impressive already! You two are my inspiration!)

  4. says

    The two rooms with the most progress are for Clara and Teddy, and that says so much about the focus in your life overall! Awesome progress so far! :)

  5. Melanie says

    Ahhh Sherry thanks so much for sharing. I personally love the giant Listy Von Listerstein. When my fiancee and I started tackling our new home – his Grandparents old 1951 house – the first thing I did was start to make our own Listy Von List (for short) and it’s been amazing not to only keep track of what to do next (and we’ve had a LOT to do) but also becuase it feels so darn satisfying to watch things get crossed off! And Teddy is as precious as can be, congratulations :)

  6. Alyson says

    Yay! I love that this list is so long and some things are still so incomplete! I look forward to all the DIY you have in the future. :)

  7. Mary says

    Thanks for the updates! I have a random question….the changing pad in Teddy’s room…is that attached to the furniture in any way? Trying to figure out a way to affix ours without damaging th dresser. Thanks! And congrats on your new addition!

    • says

      That came with a snapping system to secure it to the back of the desk (here’s an old post with those details in it). Very convenient! It was from Buy Buy Baby, although you might be able to sew some strong tabs on and make your own.


    • says

      We bought one from WalMart that has some kind of no slip bottom and it just sits on the dresser. With any weight on the pad, it won’t really move. I’m not sure how this would work if the child was rolling while strapped in, but I’d imagine you’re within a step of your child whenever you change them so it shouldn’t really be a problem.

    • says

      Mary, We use a rug pad cut down to size underneath our changing pad (it’s on a dresser) without any issues. Doesn’t slip or slide. It of course isn’t bolted down, but I don’t walk away during diaper changes anyway so I just needed it to not slip and slide all over. We did this thru our first (so 2 years) and never had a problem with it and it always held up!

    • Kate says

      Do you really need to affix the changing pad to the dresser? I never did for any of my kids – you do not leave them there unattended anyway. If it is sliding around you could just get the rug liner as mentioned or there are those rubber cabinet liners that will give it enough grip.

  8. says

    Man. I’ve been in my home a year and a half now and most rooms still look like we’ve just moved in. You guys are so inspiring. Keep up the amazing work, and congrats on your newest little family member!! <3

  9. J.E. says

    Your home is lovely and congrats on new baby! He is adorable!

    I have a thing for foyers (my favorite room in a house) and what you see right when you walk into someones home. It sets the first feelings I think. Is your office right off the foyer and is so will you put doors up? You have a nice office and not bad to look at!! I live in a traditional older home with living/dining room off foyer…maybe i am biased! I know most people think living rooms are not functional anymore:) I just tend to be messy with my office!:) Just curious!

    Thanks! Love your blog and sweet family!

    • Kathy says

      Wait. That sounds backwards. When you walk in through the front door, the the office is on the right and the dining room is on the left. Correct?

    • rachael says

      I thought the office was on your right when you enteresd the front door? :) baby braaaain!

    • Amber says

      I think that’s reversed- office on right and dining room on left? I think it’s time for a nap with Teddy :)
      I agree with the comment above that you could just skip DIY posts for a while and just show pics of the family. Y’all are so precious!

  10. says

    Just an FYI, the deer will eat everything. Don’t even bother trying to figure out what they will/won’t eat or the “tips and tricks” that some places will tell you about (cayenne pepper, wind chimes, fabric softener, or sprays) won’t work for long. You’ll need a fence if you want to be eating your own veggies instead of feeding them. Sad but true!

    • says

      Growing up in MN our garden was in a planter box which had a frame around it and the entire thing was enclosed (sides and top) with chicken wire. It worked pretty well. Maybe something to consider?

    • Katie says

      I cannot confirm if this is true, but I just heard on this morning’s radio program that dog fur can be used to deter pests (squirrels, chippies, deer).

      Apparently fur solely from your own dog will not work; the pests are used to smelling your dog. The lady who was on the radio has been a dog groomer for 40+ years and figured out through trial-and-error that a mix of dog furs from multiple dogs will deter pests.

      Here’s a link to the blog with more information. I don’t think they’re a huge operation yet; they are working with area groomers to get enough fur.

      P.S. – nope, don’t have any affiliation with this operation; just thought it was interesting to share given your deer challenges.


  11. Lindsay says

    Looking great! We are currently finishing the unfinished 2nd floor in our cape with a looming deadline of August 16… when our first baby is due. Yikes! Hoping to see walls go up next week. It has been fun watching your pregnancy and I love that Teddy was born on my birthday :)

    Also, the OCD in me cannot wait for the phase 1 sticky tile floor in the kitchen. It will be amazing!

  12. Theresa says

    I’d like to suggest a map wallpaper in the half bath. We did one of New York City and we get compliments on it all the time and there is always “reading” material in there for our guests and us. I’ve had ours up for five years and I still love looking at it; just one wall with a complimentary paint on the other walls. Happy baby snuggling.

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