Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer and mom of two little ones. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals.
I believe you can love your home just the way it is, AND have the power to design and make big changes to make it better.
I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!


Wallpaper, tile, beadboard, and a door: Major bathroom progress

One Room Challenge Week 7! We have finally picked up the pace and are now getting so close to being done.

Big Bathroom Progress

We've spent the past couple weekends working a ton on the bathroom and my parents helped me get the tile done (my mom and I tiled, my dad watched the kids) the other Friday, and Jason grouted Sunday. I spent a couple of evenings listening to Taylor Swift and hanging wallpaper instead of relaxing on the couch like I wanted... but it's done!

The wallpaper is this pretty one from A Street Prints (sponsored). It was my first time using pasted wallpaper (versus peel and stick). Easier in some ways (like on the corners).

We've been spraying the trim and laundry room beadboard walls the past few weekends too, and man, am I glad to be done using the paint sprayer. But we did spray these beadboard panels flat on the ground which was 1000x faster than the brush-and-roll method for beadboard. We'll touch them up once they're installed. I picked out art today too so wanted to visualize it and brought the beadboard in and leaned them up against the walls. I can almost picture it!

Then, right after I took these pictures this evening, I got excited to hang some doors and I installed the new antique brass hinges and doorknob. I think the antique brass (almost matches the original ones upstairs) will give the basement some character and less of a brand-new build feel.

Later this week I'll do the pleated shade DIY on the sconce shades, and this weekend, we'll install the beadboard and baseboards. The plumber will install the toilet and sink next week! Almost done!

Follow along on my Instagram for regular updates on this exciting basement project, and the bathroom!

And you can follow along with hundreds of other 8-week room makeovers this One Room Challenge!
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My 1-year-old's favorite books

Been a little quiet on this blog the past week or two and I'm giving myself a pass on One Room Challenges every week... still planning to finish the bathroom on time but not much has been happening lately! But I've been wanting to write this fun post for a while so here it is.

Lucy's room after we added these shelves

Best books for 1-year-olds

Lucy didn't get as many baby books read to her as Otto did, but when she was 14-18 months or so I noticed she really had some strong preferences for some of our classic baby/toddler books. (Some of these I mentioned in my baby shower/new baby gift post!)

Some of these are the Montessori-recommended kind: realistic/not too cartoon-ey pictures of real people and babies, relatable, concepts they can easily understand. But some are just silly, with animals wearing clothes or cutesy faces on the cartoon babies. Some are very repetitive. Some are so short!! We read most of these multiple times every time. (Baby sign language for "more"!) Otto loved a lot of these, too.

I got sentimental just writing this list. It is so special to see such a little person, even before she can talk much, clearly having preferences and favorites. The Very Busy Spider has to be her #1. She gets it down from the shelf so often! We have two copies, one in Otto's room and one in hers. Sometimes she reads it by herself. So special to see a love of reading and learning in such a little person. 

Hope you've enjoyed reading this! Happy book time. :)
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It looks like a bathroom! Week 4 ORC

One Room Challenge Week 4! I didn’t have much of an update last week so I’ll catch you up on the past two weeks of progress. The bathtub is now installed and we have drywall up, though not finished, in the bathroom.

Bathroom Progress

The drywall and the rest of the basement is completely done (and the very light/smooth texture is beautiful)! We had to wait for the initial plumbing and electrical inspections before drywalling the bathroom itself, but we’ve passed those now. I am taking today off work to get as far as I can painting the basement and getting ready to install some beadboard, and then once that’s done and the drywall is done over the weekend I’m hoping to paint and install beadboard in the bathroom!

Here’s the current status!

I’m also still making design decisions… leaning toward this look and colors. I have some wallpaper samples for the upper half of the walls; nothing is looking perfect but I think I can make one of them work… I am going for sort of a bold look with a dark keyboard on the bottom and a lighter wallpaper, that doesn’t necessarily have a lot of color the same as the beadboard. Like this inspiration.
Image source

Follow along on my Instagram for regular updates on this exciting basement project, and the bathroom!

And you can follow along with hundreds of other 8-week room makeovers this One Room Challenge!
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Choosing electrical locations for our new bathroom! ORC Week 2

Things are moving along in the basement bathroom (part of the 8-week One Room Challenge), and I got to do something I’ve never done before: decide on the placement of the electrical work! 

Bathroom Sconce Placement

Lighting, switches, and outlets, but the lighting was particularly exciting because in every other bathroom I've had I've had vanity lighting over the mirror, and now I get to put the lights on the sides of the mirror. Part of that is necessity because the ceiling is very low! But it’s really the best place for flattering, helpful lighting when using the mirror.

I had to do some math, diagramming, Google research, and actually laying it out to determine how high the sconces should go and how far away from the mirror. Thankfully I already had the sconces, mirror, and sink on site and was able to get pretty close with my research and then lay the sconces out next to the mirror on the floor to see that I needed to account for some room for the shades!

60" is pretty low for sconces, but we have a low ceiling. We decided on 62" up from the floor and 5" out from the mirror. That will put the sconces 28" apart, which is closer than what you see above a big vanity with a big mirror, but will actually be great lighting. I looked through my Pinterest bathroom pins for examples of sconces above pedestal sinks and quickly realized I don't need to worry about the relationship of the sconces to the sink width. It doesn't matter that they don't line up to the center or edge of the sconces or sink.

The electrician talked to me about where the switches, etc. would go and we decided on lighting locations, and then he got to wiring everything. You can see in this photo of the boxes are set, and there are wires to where the sconces will go (above the sink plumbing).

There will be an outlet to the right of the sink, and as you can see the switch is handy by the door frame. The door swings in and will open up toward the wall to the left.

Drywall goes up soon, and the tub will be installed soon, so it will start to look like a bathroom any day now.

Even though this phase is not all that beautiful, I am particularly enjoying it because I don’t have to do any of the work! I might not be as cheerful in a few weeks when I’ve been painting and installing bead board and tile. Ha!

You can follow along with hundreds of other 8-week room makeovers this One Room Challenge!

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Breakfast nook paint reveal! And the importance of proper prep

I did it! I painted our breakfast nook, which involved not only a lot of edging (so many windows!) but also sanding and priming to fix some texture issues on the walls. Our house is from the 1930's and the plaster is in pretty good shape most places (that is, where it wasn't wallpapered then painted over that so who knows), but there were a ton of paint drips in this breakfast nook, and some all-directions brush strokes that bugged me. 

I sanded, primed, and added one even coat of a beautiful, rich paint color and... it's a new space!

Thanks to KILZ® for sponsoring this post!

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Beautiful basement bathroom from scratch! ORC Week 1

We are in the middle of our biggest house project yet, and it’s stressful and hard and expensive BUT! I get to design some really pretty rooms from scratch! We are renovating our 1,200 SF basement including adding a full bathroom. It’s also our first project not doing almost everything ourselves, so thankfully I have a contractor, drywaller, electrician, and plumber doing the heavy lifting and I’ll be doing DIYs like tiling the floor and painting. (And decor!) I’m still figuring it out but I’m excited to share these design ideas with you. And the before photos and floorplan of the space!

I'll be sharing this bathroom as part of the 8-week One Room Challenge!

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Gazebo update! Comfy outdoor furniture with Cambridge Casual

We have spent a couple of afternoons recently after work playing in the backyard! I love it and the kids love exploring and looking for bugs and pouring water on things. But, there’s nowhere comfortable for me to sit! We’ve have our patio furniture packed away because it’s still the rainy season, and we do have a great covered gazebo but it’s just been full of junk from the basement and garage, and an old Christmas tree! The furniture was all piled up and not usable. And even the furniture that we did have in there was really not that comfortable. But we’ve recently really upgraded! With this beautiful outdoor/patio couch daybed from Cambridge Casual!

This post is sponsored by Cambridge Casual.

The patio furniture we had out here before was pretty cheap and did the job but small, only sat 3-4 people, had thin cushions that got really uncomfortable after not too long of sitting, and probably won’t hold up that long. We are lucky to have this covered gazebo area that allows us to put furniture out that maybe we wouldn’t put out under the elements/otherwise, but it’s a large space and it looks silly with just a few small pieces of furniture!

Comfortable outdoor couch

Enter, the Mosko Teak Wood Outdoor Daybed. I was not very familiar with this brand before but they have some incredible high quality pieces and I love the traditional, fun style of this couch! It's classic teak and goes with our previous furniture, but I love the curved arms and cute round detail on the front.

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Earthquake retrofitting our historic home

Our basement renovation is moving along nicely! The first week was demo and getting started with the seismic staples/bolting the foundation to the house. This is something we have to do in Oregon because we get earthquakes occasionally, and in fact are expecting a large one sometime relatively soon (as earthquakes go).

Nowadays the building code requires you to attach a houses frame to the foundation, but in the 1930s when our house was built (and for many years after that too), that was not the case. The wood framing is just resting on the foundation or basement walls. The solution is to install special brackets every few feet around the entire foundation.

Seismic Strengthening in our Basement

It’s difficult and loud and expensive, but we actually have the best situation for doing it here. It is obviously much easier to do before you have drywall or any kind of finished walls installed in a basement, and it is much easier to do in a basement than in a crawlspace! Three of the four walls of our basement our exterior walls so it was very easy to get to them, and we had this step done first before any framing.

We got a couple of quotes back when we first bought the house and decided not to do it at that time ($5,500-10,000 I think), but knew that we really should before we added drywall! Also the quotes I got before were from places who specialize in this type of thing, including one who had a lot of very fancy marketing materials and a whole video he walked me through and everything, took more than an hour… the kind of place that you get the feeling is better at sales than being an expert in their industry. 

Fast forward to now, our contractor is doing a lot of work on this project and has experience with seismic retrofits but just charges his hourly rate, materials, etc., no marketing overhead. So we got a much better price working with our general contractor on this item ($2,815). It only took him about two days of labor to go all the way around our large basement

My dad has actually installed these himself in his basement! And I have heard about some courses teaching homeowners to do this themselves, because even before this crazy construction industry we are in now there aren't enough contractors doing this kind of thing to reinforce all the houses in the Portland area that need it! I just looked up some resources, here's one from City of Portland. It’s definitely more than we were able to take on right now though!

These photos are before our contractor had completed the seismic staples but give you a good idea. Since then he has also done a lot of framing on his walls and we’ve had the underslab plumbing dug out and installed. It feels right now like things are moving fast and I just can’t wait to start seeing walls in here so I can get to work on painting/pretty stuff! I’m sharing it all in real time on my Instagram stories if you want to see!
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Basement renovation begins! Plans, budget, and demo

So excited about the massive project we are doing! As I shared in our 2022 project goals list, we have decided to tackle redoing our basement this year. It’s currently 1,100+ SF of basically unfinished space, with a mishmash of old wood built-ins, a washer and dryer, utility sink, furnace, and hot water heater. We’ve been storing stuff down there, so it’s been functional in that way, but it’s dark and gross and smells like cat pee and it’s not a place where we could ever go with the kids to play with overflow toys or anything, or have guests stay overnight. But that’s where we’re headed!

The other big thing we’re doing is adding a full bathroom down here. We only have 1.5 bathrooms in the house since our upstairs bathroom is just a half bath, so this will add a lot of value to the house for future resale too.

Basement before

Here it is after we cleared everything out this weekend!

Down the stairs and to your right: laundry room and old canning room. (There used to be a sketchy 80's shower stall kit behind that sink next to the dryer, we removed it a while ago!)
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