DIY baseboard installation: 4 things I've learned

3.22.2017

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!

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

3.20.2017

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!

Our perfect easy-install bamboo blinds

3.16.2017

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. (Oh, it's so perfect in the kitchen! I will update this post with a photo once we get our tile done!) 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 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!


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

Becoming baseboard pros, and obsessive Craigslist searching pays off: #stanley90sreno week 22 progress!

3.13.2017

Moooooore baseboards. We did a lot of the downstairs last week but there's still so much to do! Good news is it went much faster this weekend and we made big progress. And on some other little projects... and I finally got a piece I've been looking for on Craigslist!!!

On Saturday we got the living room and hall done (those involved some tricky pieces, angles, teeeeny floor pieces we had to recut, etc.....) and on Sunday we powered through the spare room and upstairs hall in less than 2 hours. SO glad it's getting faster!!

Oops, we didn't actually finish all of those rooms--still need to caulk them. Turns out Jason sort of enjoys caulking?? which is great since neither me nor my parents do and this has been a team effort so far. Now Jason needs to finish caulking some baseboards while I do something else!


So, my dresser search. Since around the time we moved in I've kept tabs open on my phone for Craigslist searches, so at least twice a day I refresh each of them and look for rugs, dressers, bathroom vanities, and a few others. I've been desperate for another dresser for our bedroom so I can move the fabulous midcentury low one down to the living room for the TV. I don't know what style our bedroom is going to be yet, so I wasn't too picky on dresser type, but wanted something affordable, real wood, clean, and large enough for all my folded clothes.

Friday I found one for $60 from someone who lives 10 blocks from us. SOLD!

It's missing some handles (I found replacements online) and has a few scratches, so maybe I'll clean it up, use it for a while, not sure if it'll stay in this room or not.

The BEST part is our beautiful vintage midcentury dresser looks great in the living room!

Should we put some art above it or on the side wall?? I was thinking a large plant would look good to the right but there's not quite enough room.

We also checked some lingering to-dos off the list including installing the new laundry room/garage door (with functioning handle! This is a big improvement.) and putting the last piece of the butcher block countertops in. Phew. So grateful for the weekend at home!

Homemade Coconut-ey Lara Bars with EXTRA Protein!

3.10.2017

Who doesn't like a sweet, chewy, satisfying Lara Bar?? They are pretty darn tasty but such a treat! We don't buy them often but I do appreciate their real food, whole ingredient nature and have made many, many similar bars before back in my raw vegan days--so I knew I could make an even more nourishing and satisfying homemade version!

I've shared my homemade protein bar recipes before (plain/PB flavored and cranberry vanilla almond) and those are awesome tasty, easy-to-make, balanced snack bars that I love. But, sometimes I want to go completely grain-free and sometimes I don't mind a little extra treat feeling of dried fruit and a little higher fat content. (Years ago I used to have a bit of a dried fruit and nut addiction so I try to limit them to special treats most of the time!)

DIY/homemade "Lara Bar" type bars are SO, so easy to make at home with a food processor and pretty much any nut and dried fruit ingredients, and there are millions of variations and recipes out there, but I really wanted to try one with added high quality protein powder. I experimented and came up with this recipe which adds unflavored collagen protein (the good stuff! Helps nails/hair/skin, muscles, bones/joints, and metabolism) and results in a really tasty, great texture, nutritious treat bar. (I've tried RX Bars before as well which are a similar concept, but they use egg white protein and I find they're really chewy and not quite as pleasant. I was happy that this one turned out great and easy to eat!)

Homemade Coconut-ey Lara Bars with EXTRA Protein!


Ingredients:

  • 1 c. raw cashews
  • 1 c. pitted dates
  • 1/2 c. unsweetened dried coconut
  • 4 scoops collagen protein powder (I haven't tried it with unflavored whey protein powder but it might work--this one is a budget-friendly high quality option)
  • 1/8 tsp sea salt

Makes 6 bars. Lara Bars say there's 1/4 c. of dates in each bar so this has slightly less than that and is still plenty sweet!

    Instructions:


    1. Combine all ingredients in food processor for several minutes. It will be dry and crumbly at first and you may think of adding water, but don't; just keep processing till it looks like this.

    2. Roll out onto plastic wrap and flatten with a rolling pin or between counter and a cutting board/flat surface. Refrigerate about 30 minutes. 

    3. Cut into 6 even pieces.  

    Wrap between plastic wrap or freezer paper and store in an airtight container in the freezer.

    So many options:


    You could try ANY flavor with these, as the Lara Bar brand has done, and more!
    • Substitute peanuts for the cashews for a peanut butter cookie flavor
    • Add cocoa powder
    • Substitute any dried fruit for some of the dates (dried cherries would be great, apricots, blueberries, figs...)

    What's your favorite??

    Enjoy!

    Subway tile backsplash alternatives - affordable DIY options. Vote!

    3.08.2017

    We still have a lot to do to finish up some of our big projects like flooring and baseboards, but tiling the kitchen backsplash has come to near the top of our project list and I could not be more excited. Not only does this mean I will soon have a place to put plates and coffee cups (not that the countertop space far away from the dishwasher isn't great) and we can install the vent hood and stop smoking up the kitchen... it will make the kitchen look so much better!!!

    I've been planning on doing white subway tile for most of the reno project. It's super cheap at the big box store, I can do it myself, and we can make it interesting with grey grout instead of white.

    But recently I've opened my mind to other ideas. Almost feeling bored by subway tile, dare I say? I looked through my kitchen pinboard (356 images) and I think literally about 350 of them have white subway tile backsplashes. Seriously. It's a great look, right??
    Source
    As a reminder, our kitchen currently looks about like this (except we have now replaced both light fixtures). We will be installing a stainless steel vent hood above the stove and three shelves above the diswasher. And tile backsplash all the way to the ceiling! We will also do tile between the lower and upper cabinets on the opposite wall.

    So I've seriously considered three different patterns. First, subway tile. It's everywhere, but it's great!! Right?! I imagine it will look dated sometime but for now it feels "classic," if that's possible for a trend to look.
    Source

    Second...when we stayed at the massive Fixer Upper-esque beach house I was inspired by the gorgeous tile in every bathroom and thought about doing a herringbone pattern. Like this but all the way up the wall.

    However, herringbone feels fancy to me, right? I think our kitchen may be a little small and simple for something like that.
    Source


    Third, another option. I couldn't find many kitchens with this look minus this marble one, but the bathroom below is a similar style. Sideways herringbone--don't know what it's actually called.
    Source
    Source

    That modern bathroom is so cool. I think that look would work with our modern brass handles and flat front cabinets.

    Of course there are tons of other options--grid, squares of alternating directions, maybe? It's incredible how much you can do with simple 3"x6" tiles!

    I'd love your vote! Which pattern do you think would be best in our kitchen??

    Getting ready for company! And baseboards. #stanley90sreno week 21 progress

    3.06.2017

    We took a huge step last week and installed BASEBOARDS. It's amazing what some white painted wood will do to a home!

    Looking around the family room, dining room, and front hall, I see a home now instead of just a fixer upper house. This looks like the kind of property you want to buy!! No more ragged floorboard edges and old edges and holes exposed, now a pretty finished room ready for decor!

    I have been dreading installing the baseboards but this wasn't as bad as I imagined. My generous parents came by and I took a day off work to get started. It's definitely faster than flooring and you only need one saw (chop saw) so takes less setup in the garage (though you do need the nail gun and air compressor, not great to haul around). And then there's caulking the edges--also a pain but looks SO. GOOD. when done!! Oh, we also need to touch up the nail holes--maybe when all of them are in.

    I had been waiting for the baseboards to install the pocket doors we have in several rooms, but then it turns out I can't put baseboard behind the bracket because it makes the bracket stick out too far and the doors don't close. So we'll do tiny baseboard pieces outside the brackets, and I was free to install the doors that have been leaning against walls for months! Covering all the mess inside the office closet (not yet organized) and the pantry shelves made both rooms look better and lighter, reflecting the light back! Such a good feeling to get these up.

    We also had company over on Saturday night which meant we cleaned. We haven't cleaned around here much, sad to say, because there are still tools and dust everywhere and no baseboards so it won't look good anyway. But we really got our act together Saturday and organized things, cleared off the mail on the dining table, put stuff back in the garage, even cleaned up our tool area which had been on the entry table, and then did a good dust and vacuum everywhere. It's so nice to be in a clean home.

    We also did little things like install the dishwasher finally (just the screws; has been working fine but not mounted) and open up the vent hood box to plan for install once the backsplash is done. (Thank you, Jason.)

    Stay tuned, this week I will share my kitchen backsplash thoughts and you can help me decide!

    Breakfast for a crowd! Guadalajara chilaquiles with fresh roja and verde salsas

    3.03.2017

    The other weekend when we stayed at the fabulous, huge beach house with 10 friends, we traded off making meals and snacks. One of our friends made two fresh salsas and chilaquiles for breakfast (I had never had it before!) and they were so good! She generously offered to share the recipe with you!

    Yum, right!? And picture it in this fabulous kitchen right next to the beach with a view of the waves. Just typing up this recipe takes me back to our fun weekend! We filled this incredible kitchen with friends and delicious food and this festive breakfast was a fun part of that.


    Chilaquiles


    Ingredients:


    • 2 eggs per person
    • 1-2 lbs cooked shredded chicken 
    • Several handfuls tortilla chips (use non-GMO ones to keep it clean!) 
    • Optional toppings: Green salsa, red salsa, pepper jack cheese 

    We did batches of 10 eggs and about 1.5 lbs chicken to serve 5 people.

    Instructions:


    1. Whisk eggs in a bowl. Heat butter, bacon fat, or heat-safe oil in large frying pan and add egg mixture and cooked chicken. Scramble. 
    2. Add tortilla chips and toss till warm. 
    3. Serve with toppings of choice! 

    Ingredients for the salsas below! The jack cheese is totally optional; I don't do much dairy so I left it off my plate and enjoyed it just as much, I'm sure.

    Renee's Roja Salsa


    Renee has made this for a couple other parties I've been to in the past and it has always been a huge hit! "I could swim in this," said one of my friends over the weekend. So good. And so easy!

    Ingredients:


    • 2 cans Ro-tels (canned tomato & green chilies) 
    • 1 red onion 
    • 1/2 bunch cilantro 
    • 1 head garlic 
    • Juice of one lime 

    Instructions:


    1. Add onion, cilantro, and garlic to food processor. Pulse to chop. 
    2. Add Ro-tels (with juice) and lime juice and pulse again to desired consistency. 

    Renee's Aunt's Salsa Verde


    Ingredients:


    1. Renee's aunt made her promise not to give the recipe away, but she did tell me what's in it! Tomatillos, an avocado, serrano peppers, cilantro, and lime juice!


    I almost never buy corn chips because I will probably eat them all, so putting them in a breakfast (and having them out for snacks) really made this weekend feel like a party!

    Plus this dish can obviously be made in a big batch to serve a crowd. Easy, festive, delicious weekend breakfast! Plus, putting in the effort of making the fresh salsas makes it so special! (Although optional, of course.)


    Try it next time you want to serve a group a really fun, nourishing breakfast!

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