Home Renovation Story – December 2017 Update

Hello and welcome back! December has flown by and brought about many new projects. It’s hard to believe it’s already 2018! Louisa, our daughter, is now 6 months old and crawls, is starting to sit up on her own, makes screeching noises a lot, and refuses to nap longer than 40 minutes if we are lucky. My days are filled with caring for her, as I work from home, and my short amounts of free time are usually spent cleaning and organizing, so I apologize I haven’t been posting regularly. However, I finally put together pictures our recent projects that will bring you up to date on our home renovations.

We hung new curtain rods on each side of the fireplace. I sewed 1 1/2 curtain panels together so they would be the right length – almost 12 ft!

Our entryway also got new curtains. This time, I found one curtain panel I liked, and cut it in half the long way, creating 2 panels – it saves money and is the perfect amount of curtain for long, skinny windows.

Our new dining chairs were ordered and arrived! We ended up getting 6 matching metal chairs and 2 complimentary upholstered chairs for the ends of the table. We also got rugs for the dining room, library, and living room.

We also replaced our outdated light fixtures. Here was before – a white ceiling fan…

Now we have this…

And we also hung curtains in the sun room/dining room.

One night, we were hanging out in the kitchen and started talking about how weird it was that the microwave was positioned so low, covering the view of the back of the stove when you stood next to it. Wouldn’t it look better if it was level with the cabinets? The stove would function much better if you could actually use the back burners and SEE them, right? So, next thing you know, we were breaking out the power tools and setting things right.

Here is our kitchen the day we bought the house.

Here it was recently, before we adjusted the microwave height.

We began by removing the upper cabinet doors, since those would no longer be useful – we planned on making an open shelf above the microwave.

Then we removed the microwave.

Next, we prepared to cut the bottom of the above cabinet out, to the measurements of the new microwave height. We covered the stove with plastic to minimize the mess.

After rebuilding the shelf bottom, we rehung the microwave and here are the results. Much more functional than before! We plan on painting out the now open shelf to match the rest of the cabinets.

We finally got around to starting the kitchen back-splash. I’d been set on a simple subway tile for forever – white with a dark grey grout. Firstly, because it’s classic in color and shape and secondly because it’s about the cheapest you can go with tile. We shopped around a bit for the right tile – everywhere has it, but it has it’s slight differences. We found a range of prices from $0.50 a tile to $0.18 and slight color variations – warm to cool whites. We ended up going with the cheapest option (from Home Depot, not pictured) because it was a neutral white that matched our cabinets and trim.

The kitchen came with a small, black back-splash that matched the counters, so we started by ripping that out. This made the space between the counters and upper cabinets look much bigger.

We couldn’t find any bull nose tiles that ran horizontally, so we used a metal tile edging instead on the ends and outer corners.

We started with a small section, Brian measured and cut the tiles while I laid them.

We decided to tile around the kitchen window as well.

Behind the stove, we used metal edging to neatly contain the tiles above. Moving the stove was funny because you could see the original cabinet finish hiding!

We worked on the tiling a few separate days and once we were done, we started grouting. This was my least favorite project by far. Grouting is frustrating. We found a colored grout that was premixed and contained sealer, so it would be a one step process at least. We also ended up piping in the grout, like piping frosting on a cake, which made it less messy and was less wasteful than spreading it on top of everything first before sponging off. It’s now completely grouted, but we still need to caulk, so I’ll post finished photos in the next update.

Next, we figured out the fireplace mantle. We brought back a leftover beam from a recent family cabin rebuild, but it wasn’t the length we were looking for:

So, we decided to make a faux beam.

We stained it to match our dining table. It was hung with essentially a large french cleat.

I think it turned out awesome. I love the large knots and character it has.

After taking down Christmas decor, I decorated the mantle with a mirror I bought forever ago and a couple vases. It made a huge difference – it draws the eye up and adds visual height to the room instead of skipping over the boring cement-looking backdrop that the fireplace was.

We also picked out stone! It should arrive within the next week, so watch out for that whole process on the blog soon.

We still need to order a hearth, but have this bluestone picked out with a polished finish and chipped edges.

I’ve also rearranged the furniture and I’m the most satisfied with this layout. I can’t wait to see what transformation the stone will give this room!

(day we bought the house)


We also bought and hung 2 more chandeliers.  One for the entryway…




And one for the library..




I’m currently in the process of rearranging the shelves, but I’m afraid we’ll need hundreds more books to achieve the look I’d prefer.

A few other projects we did:

Our entry closet got new hooks.

Planning began for new can lights and pendants above the kitchen.

Random home decor was purchased and placed throughout our home. I plan on posting a complete before and after of each room once the main floor is complete.

So, what is left on the main floor?

– stone on fireplace

-hang a gallery wall by library

-recover library chair

-kitchen ceiling lighting

-stair banister – paint or replace

-paint shelf above microwave / under cabinets

-I’m sure I’m forgetting a few more things…

Anyway, thank you for following along. I will continue to update this blog as we finish more projects! If you have any questions, please ask! You can always email me at birdskeptnorth@gmail.com.

Hope you’re having a happy new year!