Before and After: Living Room

To continue the before and after series, here are the realtor walk through pictures from almost 10 years ago, what it looked like for several years, then when the floors were refinished about 2 years ago. Enjoy!


















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Done!? Are we really?!

I hate to even make an announcement that we are finally finished, after 8 plus years of work (and lots of breaks in between :-D), because as our luck would have it, something big would break…perhaps a geyser in the yard? Or, a random safe falling from the sky making an obscene hole in the roof (hey, I’ve watched the road runner, it happens!). I also realize (cue shaking the head and wiping tears) that you are never *really* done when it comes to old house upkeep. So, maybe I can say that we are done…for now. Will that suffice?

I’ve had a lot of requests for updated pictures and more in depth before/after. In preparation for our appraisal tomorrow, I have cleaned the house and fixed quite a few cosmetic bo-bo’s (I am sure you will find quite a few more I didn’t fix), so I thought it a perfect time to take some 360 videos. Are you game? I will do some before/after photo blogs when I get around to it later this summer.

I only videoed the master bedroom, hall, living areas and kitchen. I’m not brave enough to show the kids’ rooms and who wants to see bathrooms? Coming up tomorrow will be porch and exterior tours. I thought it was fun (and a whole lot easier than taking pictures!) and I can also use it for insurance purposes should that Acme safe ever fall out the sky.

If you are new and would like to see some before pictures, you can search for “realtor walk through”, click on the name of the particular room you want to view in the cloud tag, or click on “before and after”. That should get you some really old photos to look at and compare how far we have come. Here is a post I did right after we updated our major systems (roof, plumbing, paint, mostly exterior projects).

I ordered the videos so that if you watch them in the order I posted them, you will feel that you are walking with me, or at least can make sense of the floor plan. Here you are! Tell me what you think!

PS: Note to all the perfectionists: ignore those cosmetic blemishes.

Note to old house purists: yes, I know I don’t have velvet curtains and Victorian tchotchkes. “Museum style” has never really been my thing.

Note to people who want paint colors: I will publish all paint colors in a future blog post when I do the final before/after pairings.

Did I cover it all? Leave a comment if not ūüôā

Master Bedroom:

Small weird hall and the back of the Great Hall:

Front of the Great Hall, study, living room and dining room:


Living Room/Dining Room Floors=Done!

I just put the last coat of poly on the dining room floor. Both rooms are finished! It took longer than I anticipated because I didn’t plan my time very well. But it is finished now!

What we did:

Cleaned the floor and sanded with 80 grit working up to 120 grit. Cleaned the floors with a dust mop, then damp mop, then tack cloth. Stained (Minwax Red Chestnut). Waited. Put on first coat of poly (Minwax fast drying poly for floors). The next weekend we sanded the first coat of poly, applied second coat of poly. Ta-da! I am very happy with it. I really didn’t want to sand in between coats, but it was definitely worth it! The first coat was really rough. It would have been ok as is, but I wanted it to have a furniture quality finish and it last for ten years or more. I sanded and put on the next coat and WOW! I can’t explain how smooth and flawless it looks. I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves.


I am doing finishing work in the kitchen….still…haha. One day I will be finished! I painted the lower cabinets Artisan by Behr, with a top coat of Martha Stewart metallic paint in Cast Bronze. After it dries I will put a top coat of polycrylic and paint the trim dark brown. In two weeks, we will frame up and install the upper cabinets. Steven installed the counters, trim and sink this weekend. What’s left: cabinet installation, hood installation, (hopefully) new dishwasher, finishing paint, handle on laundry room door. When it is done, I will post a 360 video tour. I’m excited! Until then, the in progress pictures are below (after floor pics)












On a side note: I ordered some dark brown RIT dye to see if I can dye my red tie up shades. The red doesn’t match anymore. We shall see what happens! $2.50 for a 25 pack of dry dye versus $60 for three very cheap looking tie up brown shades or $120 for some better quality ones….hmmm…I will try the $2.50 first. If that doesn’t work….off to the store I go! It’s worth a try! Will post the results here soon whether they be good, bad or really ugly.

In Process: refinishing dining and living room floors

I spent all day running the floor sander….hopefully tomorrow stain and poly. The last pic is from Viv. It’s kind of a joke that she always takes pics of me working.








***Update 1: I did stain the floors on Sunday and just added them here. Sometime this week I will get to the poly.
***Update 2: first coat of poly. Wow! It’s purty! Sand and a couple more coats and it’s done!




PS: I used Minwax Red Chestnut stain and Minwax Fast Drying Polyurethane for Floors. This poly dries a whole lot faster than the Cabot poly I used in the study. It also didn’t have as much air bubbles when i brushed it on like the Cabot did.

What I do when I am bored

My husband does not care for the times when boredom clutches me in its nasty grasp.  Usually, when I can find nothing else to do, I go hunting for power tools.  If you have read any of my previous posts about me, power tools and ladders.  Those two, plus me, is not always the best combination.  It seems that men have a natural instinct and ability ingrained in them that allows them to operate power tools with virtually little effort.  Me, on the other hand, I pick up, plug it in and expect to work magic.  I do have to say, that after four years of house remodeling, I have learned that, for different applications, you have to have your tools on the correct settings.  Coming this understanding has made my life a whole lot easier!  I might write Power Tools for Blondes some day.

Anyway, back to the subject at hand.¬† Yesterday, I dropped Steven off at a friend’s house at 4:50 a.m. because the ‘boys’ were going white water rafting.¬† I was home by 5:15, absolutely awake and decided to take advantage of the somewhat cool morning.¬† Out came the belt sander, rotary sander, drill, chain, boards, brackets and columns.¬† I wanted to make a shelf to go behind my sofa so I could store magazines, decorating books, Bibles, scrapbooks all within easy reach, but out of sight.¬† I looked high and low for one already made, but most of them were particle board and very expensive.¬† Besides, I could not find a short shelf that was five feet wide.¬† So, I made a plan in my head, got the materials and yesterday put it all together.¬† It was fun picking stuff out at Home Depot.¬† My husband was following me around while I puttered.¬† He could not see the design I had in my head, so he just followed and did the heavy lifting.¬† A clerk in Home Depot asked him if he could use some help, from the other end of the aisle I heard him mumbling something about his wife and her projects…lol.

Steven had already cut the boards in half for me before he left.¬† I sanded the boards down, sanded the edges and rounded the ends of the boards.¬† I then beat them up with a chain (to make the boards look older) and stained them.¬† Once they were dry and wiped them down, I used brackets to hold two boards together.¬† I could not find a board wide enough, so Steven suggested I buy a smaller board and strap the two together…GENIUS!¬† I kinda like the rustic mixed with industrial look.¬† So, I may leave the brackets up and showing.¬† I found columns at Hobby Lobby for $5.99 each.¬† I put the first finished board down, put non slip grip dots on the two columns, then placed the columns¬†on each end, stacked the next board and repeated.¬† Hobby Lobby has their displays set up the same way, except they use glass shelves.¬† It is very sturdy and I like that it is stackable.¬† That means I can break it down and move it around easily in my house.¬† I am always rearranging and moving things.¬† I may make a couple more for other places in my house.¬† I was very proud of it.¬† I did it all by myself and no one got hurt!¬† ūüôā

The boards

The boards

Brackets and non-slip grip dots

Brackets and non-slip grip dots

First set of boards down

First set of boards down

Ta-da! The shelf

Ta-da! The shelf

Looks like a lot of work for nothing, huh?

Looks like a lot of work for nothing, huh?

I think I like this picture on the shelf better

I think I like this picture on the shelf better

The total cost:

Boards  $16.97
Brackets and non slip dots  $8.00
Columns  $47.92
Total:  $72.89

Not bad considering the least expensive shelf I found that I like cost $250.00.

Hope everyone is having a happy Saturday!


Living Room Curtains

Well guys, after living here for 2 1/2 years, I have finally put some curtains up in the Living Room.  Yay for me!  I brought some fabric home from my missions trip to Manila, Philippines last year and finally got around to turning it into curtain panels.  It was quite humorous trying to convince the sales people that I really wanted 35-40 yards of fabric.  When I told the lady who was going to take me shopping what I wanted, she showed me scarves.  I told her that I wanted to make curtains out of the fabric so then she brought me to the mall and showed me ready made curtains.  The ready made curtains were very small.  It was hard to explain to her and for her to understand that I had 13 foot ceilings and needed a LOT of fabric.  So, I ended up calling off the shopping trip and my husband and I found out that in the basement of the mega mall, they have several fabric stores.  So, off we go and here is the result:

Living room bay before

Living room bay, no curtains

Living room with curtains

I hope you all have a great evening!


Projects – 2008 in Review

I was sitting around trying to think about what we did all year.  It seems like 2008 was a slow year for us as far as the DIY scene was concerned.  In the early part of the year, around March, we spent a lot of time getting construction bids and filling out mountains of paperwork for our construction loan, only for the subprime mortgage crisis to hit and, in the end, we ended up scratching the whole deal.  I had to go back through my pictures to see what exactly we DID accomplish this year.  I was glad to find proof that our year was not wasted.  Here is a pictorial review of our year:


Finished the rent house (Hallelujah!) and took our three year old employee to Chuck-E-Cheese.  Hey, we had to pay her somehow for all that painting she did!

chuck e cheese

employee viv


We celebrated our five year anniversary

anniversary flowers


My birthday!¬† Ahem….anyway.¬† In 8 hours, I cleaned, primed and put two coats of paint on the living room walls.¬† It wouldn’t have taken me 8 hours normally except that I: 1) painted alone; 2) pushed a very heavy 10 foot ladder around the room 8 times while I painted the middle and top of the room …twice! I have 13 feet ceilings.¬† [is it 13 foot, or 13 feet?]

living room bay

fireplace living room

lr bay

lr fireplace


In April, I redid an ugly 80’s dresser for Vivian’s room and, for storage,¬†we revamped an old shelf my brother made many years ago by adding crown moulding to it and painting it.

Vivian's dresser

old shelf

shelf finished


We took down the ugly drop ceiling in the attic.   We also painted the Master Bedroom.

drop ceiling

master bedroom before

master bedroom in progress


I¬†sanded, repainted and recovered¬†an old chair I bought for $5.00 at a junk store.¬† I also managed to tick off the entire Ratcliff family and get called a potstirrer.¬†¬† Hahaha….that’s definitely a new one for me!

old chair

chair finished


I started this blog. Yay!  I pulled a metal tray on wheels out of the garbage and remade it into a plant stand for my porch.  Click here for the details and pictures.  Even my husband could not believe I wanted something this ugly.  But it turned out well.

My new plant stand

My new plant stand


We went to the Philippines.  What a life changing experience!  Click here to see more photos of the trip.  In case you cannot figure out who I am, I am the very white girl in the middle!




Vivian’s Birthday.¬†¬† Hurricane Gustav hit Cenla.¬† That was very interesting.¬† It took us about a month to recover and get all of the debris cleared and everything back to normal.¬† I can’t complain though, we did not endure anything like New Orleans did.¬† Click the link above to see pictures of that fun.


Was definitely not a project month.¬† I was caught up watching the media and reading the news regarding¬† local and national politics.¬† I did get a call from the Louisiana Historic Preservation Office in Baton Rouge telling me that they want to put my street on the National Register.¬† Which reminds me…..I need to give her a call.¬† That nomination is supposed to be sent to Washington in April.¬† I am definitely going to help make sure that happens!




I repainted and reappointed the guest room and stripped a fireplace mantel.

Spare room before

Spare room - almost done


We worked on the attic/loft area so we can add another bathroom upstairs.¬† Steven put up two porch lights in the back.¬† Steven stripped a door and a transom down to the bare wood.¬† We also stripped some paint in the hall that was caked on to the wainscoting.¬† Click here for December’s project pictures.

I guess all in all it was not a bad year.¬† We did not get as much as we wanted accomplished.¬† We didn’t nearly come close to the amount of work we did in 2007.¬† Oh well, put it on the list!¬† It will get done eventually!


Christmas Decorating

Ok, so I know I am behind the game this year.¬† Everyone (besides me that is) has had enough forethought to dig out the Christmas decorations and get them up in enough time to enjoy them.¬† Maybe one day, in a perfect world, that will happen in my house.¬† We put up our tree Monday night and last night we (or maybe I should say, I) decorated it.¬† I did not worry about having to get lights or decorations.¬† I remembered that I had tons of stuff from previous years.¬† However, this seemed to be the year that all of the lights wanted to die.¬† I plugged the first strand in, BINGO, it worked.¬† I plugged the second strand in, same thing.¬† I wound them on the tree.¬† When I was pulling out the third strand of lights, all of a sudden¬†half of a strand of lights went out.¬† No amount of shaking, wiggling or jiggling made them come back on.¬† So, I unplugged it, and went for the third strand.¬† I had the third strand out of the box (this is the one that has the 10 different light flash functions) and noticed that the wiring was exposed like something chewed through it (which brings up another¬†possible problem…mice in the attic?).¬† So….I guess my husband noticed the look of frustration on my face¬†as I stood on top of the ladder with three strands of lights that were not working, because he grabbed his jacket, keys and our four year old daughter and headed out the door to buy more lights.¬† That gave me enough time to sit on the sofa and reflect on the REAL meaning of Christmas and why we do all of this anyway.¬† Jesus is the reason for the season.

Here are some pictures of my Christmas decorating efforts.¬†¬†¬† Maybe next year I will have curtains up…maybe….

Tis the Season!  Make it a memorable one! 


Black Friday Shopping List

When most people are putting things like: “New set of pots and pans, Christmas gift for Susie” on their shopping list for this Friday, I am listing things like: “New set of light sconces for the Living Room, faucet for the kitchen sink, and scaffolding”. Hahaha….sounds like more work!¬† Our local hardware store has a great sale on Black Friday and you get 20% off your entire purchase.

So, I need to figure out what kind of light sconces will look good in the living room.¬† Here is a picture of the current sconces (For some reason, they are just not talking to me.¬† I think they are ok, but they just don’t seem to blend in).¬† What kind of sconce do I need?¬† I was leaning towards something a little darker.¬† Like oil rubbed bronze, or even black.¬† I also need to find some piece of art to go on top the mantel to.¬† I put a empty frame up there a while back to see how it looks and it just got stuck there.¬† I have not gotten around to climbing back up there and taking it down.

So, what are your suggestions?

I was thinking about something like this:

sconce suggestion

While I’m at it, I am going to post pics of the shelves my brother helped make while he was here waiting out Hurricane Gustav.¬† He cut the boards for me.¬† I sanded them and rounded the edges and corners, beat them up a little with a chain and some other things to make it¬†look like it was old and had been walked on for a hundred years,¬†stained them and voila!¬† Then he put up the brackets and hung the shelves.¬† Thanks Jonathan!¬†

LR Shelves