Hello! I'm Suzannah, a serious DIYer. Follow along with my DIY fixer upper house renovations, sewing and crafty projects, real food recipes, and de-stressing goals. I'm a recovering former vegan and vegetarian, now healing with a nutrient-dense mostly Paleo diet, and love at-home CrossFit and yoga workouts. I'm also the author of DIY Wardrobe Makeovers!

New mom to baby Otto born April 2018!


Two very different kinds of bathroom inspiration

We have not one but TWO bathroom renos planned for next month. That's the plan, anyway. I'm having friends over at the end of April and we figured, nothing like a deadline! Why not try to get the bathrooms friends might use at least functioning with new toilets, vanities, flooring, and paint?!

So we are making a LOT of design decisions right now and I'm seriously torn on the style we want to go with.

One thing I've realized in this whole process (we have three bathrooms to redo) is that bathroom vanities are expensive. And the ones at the big box stores are not usually that attractive. For our master we want a 70" wide one so will probably do something custom, but for the guest bath and powder room which we'll be doing in April, we need 36-40" and 24" vanities and budget, timing, appearance, and storage are all key priorities.

The biggest design challenge so far is the guest bathroom. A while ago I came across this beautiful bathroom with a vintage tiger oak dresser transformed into a vanity and was totally moved. It's so lovely! Clean and fresh but with that incredible old piece giving so much character.

I recently found this one in a similar vein. It was in this fabulous modern home makeover.

I even found this antique dresser on Craiglist that already had a black granite top! I bought it for $40 and bought a brushed brass faucet and drain stop, and planned to buy a smallish vessel sink to sit on top like in the first image.

However... a couple things stand in my way.

  1. We will have to drill through granite. Just two holes, and I know it can be done, but still.
  2. We will have to re-build the drawers around the plumbing. I've seen tutorials, but it's definitely a bit of work.
  3. There is a crack in the granite. It has been mended well but I'd like to reinforce it when putting a sink and holes in the center of it, and am not sure how.
  4. Design. I like the antique look, but the rest of our house is pretty modern and basic, and this kind of piece might stand out. 

So I'm reconsidering. I thought back to other favorite bathrooms I've seen lately.

Jason and I both LOVE the look of this modern bathroom with homemade vanity, but we know we'll need want more storage for future users of the guest bathroom.

Here are two other very cool bathrooms with dark tile floors and wood (floating) vanities. That second one looks like a vintage dresser but is actually custom cabinetry. Yum.

I really like the vintage dresser-as-vanity look, but Jason doesn't as much, and it will present some of the same problems as the antique one we already own!

Another thing a lot of those bathrooms have in common? Marble or marble look patterned tile floors. Lots of hexagons. We are definitely considering that at the least!

Okay, but back to reality... those wood vanities are not off-the-rack and I seriously doubt I'll find something similar secondhand! So maybe we'll end up with a basic IKEA Hemnes vanity in white or grey, or something white like this.

Then I think the struggle will be how to give the room character and complexity despite the more common, standard white-on-white. Antique rugs help, I guess, but how practical are those in a bathroom? ;) We also have pretty much decided not to do wall tile in the guest bath.

So what do you think? Is our house too modern/plain for an antique vanity, and is it too much trouble to retrofit a dresser? Should we go the IKEA or Home Depot route, and if so how do we add personality?

See all of my bathroom design inspirations on this pinboard!

By the way--here is the bathroom in question in the listing photo! Ugh!

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A fully functional kitchen for the first time since October!! #stanley90sreno week 24

What a good feeling!! This was a big one!!

We had one (big) goal for the weekend, broken into several pieces:

  1. Finish tiling the kitchen walls and backsplash
  2. Finish grouting same
  3. Finalize/wipe down grout on main kitchen wall
  4. Install vent hood
  5. Install shelves

And we did it!! I did another 10-hour day tiling (though this time I also fit in some grouting) on Saturday... I had been grouting in 1-hour bits during the week but got a lot done at once Friday and Saturday. Grouting takes a while cause so much of the grout falls down right after you put it up... more about that later; I invented a couple methods... and then SO. MUCH. SCRUBBING. to make it look even. I destroyed my hands with the scrubber I was using. I will wear gloves next time.

I had to finish the main wall first so Jason and my dad could put up the vent hood. I finished the side wall (and not-pictured) wall next.

The side wall and this wall are still streaky with grout. I need to go through with a textured rag or scrubber and clean those up later this week.

But the back wall is done (except ceiling paint touch-ups) and we installed our brackets!! We drilled through tile! Success!!

I also cut, sanded, and oiled our shelves. We still need to screw the shelves onto the brackets but had to get the right screws first and only just bought those. I put a few dishes on cause I was so excited, though. Cannot wait to have that space ready for plates and commonly used things!! Unloading our dishwasher is seriously inefficient right now!

And, I already used the vent hood while cooking dinner!! It will be so nice to have that to keep from getting grease splatter on my pretty pendant light and smoking up the house!

We finished late at night so here it is in the dark.

Oh, I also played around with the living room--sneak peek! Our green ComfortWorks cover and figuring out what to put with it...

Gotta finish up the kitchen this week with little things like switch plates (and finishing wiping down the grout) and then the kitchen will be DONE. WOW. So grateful. Remember what we started with?? This is the LISTING photo. As in, most flattering photo ever taken of this sad space.

Sorry to affront your eyes with all that oak. 

Now that the kitchen is almost done we will be moving on to a couple other big projects for April--hint: not just one bathroom... (!!!!) I can't wait.

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Our favorite budget buys of the #stanley90sreno thus far

When we first started looking at fixer uppers I made spreadsheets for each of the houses we seriously considered looking at what they all needed. Paint, flooring, cabinets, etc. Some needed more work than others. All of them needed thousands and thousands put into just the construction part!

I didn't make budgets for furniture, decor pieces, etc. and we did not have a big chunk of money dedicated to that purpose. So I've been very creative with spending and decorating and I've found a few incredible deals online that I wanted to share with you!

1. These white Eames-style dining chairs
I debated and debated about our dining chairs (see the ones I seriously considered here) even after I ordered these white ones and they arrived. Even as we assembled them I had second thoughts. But Jason liked them, I agreed they looked better than our old rattan ones (against the bamboo blind) and we kept them. And then I fell in love.

Not only are they super comfortable and easy to clean, they are adorable! I love the bright white against the dark rug and table. They feel fresh and fun! And it was less than $100 for the set of 4. That's pretty much impossible to beat. 5 stars for these!!

2. "Vintage distressed" rugs from Target. 
We have TWO of these 7'x10' rugs and they are the best I've been able to find other than antique or high quality wool rugs as a budget option. The texture has some variation so it's not just a flat polypropylene tufted rug and it really adds a nicer quality look.

In the photos above and below is this rug in blue. We actually found these at Goodwill on two separate occasions, brand new, since the Target stores here donate returns and excess merchandise to the Goodwills. Score. But even new the 7'x10' is only $160 right now. I am betting they'll sell out of these sometime soon, so check them out now if you're interested!

Here it is in tan, so elegant!

3. Target round mirrors.
I have alllll the heart eyes for round mirrors right now but they can be so expensive! I found this one, 28" wide, for less than $50 at Target. I have yet to find the perfect spot (maybe in the powder room, maybe in the dining room if I switch things up... maybe in the living room? It could go anywhere) but I looooove it. Here's an inspiration image and the one I found!

I also bought this wood-framed one which is currently above the fireplace, but it might move, too. So versatile!

4. This beautiful pendant light in the kitchen!
I shared our $20 lighting updates in the hall but the fixture I'm most excited about is this pendant. It's so fun in our sort of modern, now sort of industrial-look kitchen! We don't have the tile, shelving, and range hood up yet so I may update this post once that wall is finished but for now here is is above the window. (See how I installed it in our recessed light opening in this tutorial.) This fixture was less than $50 and looks like one of the designer ones that can be much, much more!

5. $170 range hood.
So many of my inspiration kitchens had cool range hoods--stainless steel, tile covered, wood-framed to match or complement the cabinets, shiplap... We removed our upper cabinets that had a small range hood attached so we were able to install whatever new one we wanted! At first I was only seeing them in the $400-500 price range, even for plain stainless steel ones, but then I found this one for only $170 and was sold. We have it about 50% installed and I cannot wait to get it all the way in and use it--especially when I burn things on the stove!!

Inspiration, and the real thing.

6. A big checkered pillow cover.
I feel a little guilty about this one. I am a DIYer. I make my own pillow covers and have for many years (thankyouverymuch). I love being able to make my own out of my favorite fabrics and create a totally unique space!, but I am limited by the fabrics available to me. I wanted a big black and white checkered pillow in our living room and couldn't find a check big enough at the fabric store or online, but did find this $6 pillow cover ready-made. Here's another inspiration/product for you.

7. Modern (finial-less) curtain rods. 
A simple modern curtain rod is hard to find. These are marketed as "room-darkening" rather than super trendy, so they are way affordable!! I also shared about them here, along with our clips. Bonus is these rods are SO easy to install plus a fraction of the cost of some of the designer modern ones. We have them on almost every window!

Hope you enjoyed this round-up and hope you can learn from our budget shopping for this massive fixer upper project we're in!

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DIY baseboard installation: 4 things I've learned

I was dreading installing our baseboards even more than installing 1,600+ SF of laminate flooring ourselves. I had this fear that we would somehow never get to it and would live in an unfinished house for years. They make SUCH a difference! But luckily we got into a groove and I figured out a few tips for making the baseboard project go smoother!

The first day we spent on baseboards was a little slow as we got the hang of things. But it definitely got easier, and one day we did a whole room and hall in only about 2 hours! (Not including caulking or paint touch-ups.)

DIY Baseboard Installation Tips

1. Measure a few pieces at once, not all of them.
It can get confusing remembering which pieces you're cutting, particularly if you're splitting up tasks with a helper. It's helpful if you can picture the wall section you're cutting for, and whether the corners point in or out, or just to take really good, easy-to-read notes. Still, we found we lost track and felt more comfortable re-measuring some walls anyway when we tried to be efficient and measure a whole room or area at once. I recommend noting 3-4 pieces, cutting them, placing them (you can wait to nail gun them up if you like), then measuring more.

2. Nail in an up-down, fairly regular pattern.
I found that this pattern gave me good coverage but also won't look too shabby if a few nail holes show after we paint. You may need extra nails in some places or if you're not hitting a stud, but start with this regular spacing and pattern and it will still look more uniform.

3. Caulk as you go.
When you have all of the furniture in the middle of the room anyway is the best time! Plus, you might forget where you haven't caulked if you wait too long. We definitely had a few places that needed touch-ups when we remembered we hadn't caulked there yet. Bit of a pain.

4. Check the air compressor and gun often.
A couple times I realized I was shooting blanks or not shooting because I was out of nails or once, after lunch when we'd turned the compressor off, it didn't have pressure (oops!). Check both regularly.

There you go! It's really not as bad as I thought. Hope these tips help you!

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Very pretty things have started happening. #stanley90sreno week 23!

We still have more baseboards and flooring to do, but I convinced myself it was okay to switch to more exciting projects for a while and boy, was it fun!! And hard work.

I was really looking forward to doing our kitchen tile backsplash after choosing a pattern (thank you!), and, once we do that we can install our range hood and shelving which will seriously add functionality to our kitchen! On Saturday morning my parents came over to help out. My mom and I worked on tile while Jason and my dad drilled a hole in the house to install the range hood.

The tile pattern (straight herringbone) looks awesome!!! Cutting around the window definitely added some complexity and it took us a while to get into a groove so unfortunately it took my mom and me 10.5 hours of work and we only got one of the three walls up. The other two are much smaller, but still, it was a little discouraging. 

I was sort of in a daze after working all day Saturday (time files but also I was tired!) and when I woke up Sunday the bottoms of my feet felt a little bruised from standing and balancing on the ladder all day! But every time I walk into the kitchen I jump for joy a little cause the wall looks SO. COOL.!!!

More pretty things... we got our sofa cover from ComfortWorks (I will blog all about it later but here's a sneak peek for you!!) and put it on. WOW. WOWOWOWOW it's amazing.

I had a hard time choosing the color and fabric but I am really happy with the emerald velvet! Still need art, pillows, coffee table, maybe accent chair changes, but it's looking great with the new arc lamp and I think I'll be able to pull it off with the jute rug! Beyond that I am still scratching my head a little so ideas are welcome. Here's the before and after (just the new cover and legs) of our IKEA Karlstad.

We also got out for a hike on Sunday in the rare bit of blue skies and talked about our next more exciting projects--looks like we may have not one but TWO bathroom makeovers planned next month!

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Our perfect easy-install bamboo blinds

I've been getting questions about the bamboo blinds we've installed in most of our windows downstairs. I can't wait to show you how they look when all of our rooms are finished, but in the meantime...

I had very little experience with blinds growing up, but since then have lived in many apartments with venetian and other blinds and I am generally not impressed. When I think "blinds" I think dusty, few pieces broken, cords a little messed up. But there are so many more options now! The other crazy thing to me about blinds is you generally need to custom order them or they're too long or not quite wide enough or the pull is on the wrong side or whatever. It can be overwhelming.

When we bought our townhouse we had the option to pay lots extra for blinds in every window but it was so expensive, and I didn't want blinds everywhere. I wasn't sure we would be able to afford them... but we did need a blind in the kitchen window which faced our neighbors, and in the bathroom window. I ordered them both from Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper and I was so overwhelmed by all the options that I ended up calling and having someone walk me through all of the choices and settings, and it was so easy. We got a wide white faux wood blind for the kitchen and a cellular shade for the bathroom. They were so perfect and I think our entire order was less than $80?? SO affordable.

So I remembered Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper when we needed blinds for our fixer upper. One big pro of the house is the huge windows on the ground floor, but they mean we need some extra privacy and light control. I was really anxious to get blinds up when we moved in! And I wanted them to be attractive. Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper sent me some of their bamboo mix blinds and they were perfect!

We got the bamboo mix blinds for all of our big windows downstairs plus the kitchen. We have white curtains (and the curtain rods I shared about here) over most of them, too, for extra privacy on the front window, and for looks--I'm a curtain person.

They were so, so easy to install--mount three brackets per blind:

Put the blind through the brackets (wood slots a couple inches long) and tighten wing nuts. I installed most of them by myself, was able to hold them up and tighten just fine!

I love them in the dining room...

And kitchen...

And of course in the family room:

And in the living room, where we have a huge, strange window separated by a big band of trim. We have a blind on the lower 3/4 of the window. I'll share a photo once the living room is a little more organized. :P

I think I mentioned... Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper also has amazing prices and discounts and is super affordable!! If you need to outfit a whole house or just a window, you can get completely custom blinds for probably way less than you would expect. And they have great customer service so you can call if you get confused like I did those years ago. Just measure length and width, and pick out one of the tons of options! I highly recommend!

Again the exact one we got is the Steve's Exclusive Collection - Good Bamboo Woven Shades in the color Bamboo Mix.

Thanks to Steve's Blinds and Wallpaper for sending me these bamboo blinds!
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