Monthly Archives: January 2012

Kitchen Overhaul Day 1: Sanding/Prep Work

Get ready – This post is a doozy of photos…

As revealed Monday, we have finally (and I mean F-I-N-A-L-L-Y) started our long-awaited kitchen overhaul. Goodbye peachy white-washed cabinets that clash so so soooo badly against the tan walls. Goodbye blah hardware. Helloooo to a countertop that finally has some character against newly painted, dark espresso wood cabinets. We finally had all our water damage problems taken care of thanks to Blackmon Mooring Houston. This problem set our renovation of the kitchen back at least a week.

(Oh, please try to ignore that one drawer without his “front” – We detached it and took it with us to Lowe’s so that their paint experts could look at it and recommend primer and paint, etc. He has since been redressed, if you will.)

A year has quickly come and gone and upon realizing that our anniversary is in two weeks, John and I decided to knock this mega project out. Armed with an incredibly detailed plan laid out by day (put together by John, which I will definitely share on Friday because it’s just too precious) and motivated by plans to make a fancy meal in our brand new kitchen for our anniversary, we got down to business.

Be prepared though. I wasn’t lying when I said this post was going to be picture-laden. I think to the tune of about 24 or so. But I’m a visual learner, and for all of you out there like me I wanted to be nothing if not thorough in my use of visuals as we journey through this project.

First step: Remove the doors. A few turns of my screwdriver, and we had one door at a time laid out and ready for prepping. As I took each door down, I marked two tiny pieces of masking tape with a number and then stuck one to the door’s hinge and the other just inside the frame. This is my way of telling where the doors go when it’s time to rehang them.

You can see the pile of detached doors I made in the middle of the kitchen in the photo above (to the right of the island). Once done, John carried them down to the garage where we planned to sand, prep, prime and paint them over the next week and a half.

Next, it was time for sanding. This step ended up being a bit of a doozy and the part where John almost threw his hands up in the air and gave up (I don’t blame him).

The cunundrum? Sanding involves particles and debris. Lots of it. It’s a big ole’ mess. And when you are working in a kitchen on a frame that is not removable, things get even trickier because no one wants sanding dust in their crackers, cereal, water glass or dinner plate. So we had two choices: Remove everything from the cabinets or do our best to cover everything with a sheet or towel to mask it from the dust. In the end, we decided upon the former option and took everything out of the cabinets.

It wasn’t a walk in the park since we were essentially moving entirely out of our kitchen, but it did make things simpler in the long run – I did not relish the idea of wrestling with sheets and drop cloths which may still douse our food and dishes with debris when removed. Plus, I had the perfect opportunity to lay down nice cabinet paper on the shelves and purge the expired stuff lurking in the back of cabinets going unnoticed.

So where did it all go? We packed it on top of and underneath the kitchen table (covering that with a big sheet), in the laundry room, down the hallway to the living room and also into the living room itself.

Once we got to the final two cabinets, both on ground level, we sort of ran out of juice…We didn’t have any more boxes to cart stuff into other rooms and who really cares about dusty cleaning products anyway?? So we did end up covering those two with drop cloths. But after cleaning up, all is well and mostly dust free.

So close to being ready to sand…But not yet.

Before we got to that point, we needed to remove all of the hardware from the doors and drawer fronts and then putty the holes in the drawer fronts with wood filler. We decided not to fill the holes in the cabinet doors because we can use the existing holes for the new hardware. We’ll just drill an extra hole for the new pulls since they have two “arms” whereas the old pulls only had one. But the old pulls on the drawer fronts were centered – Not good. The best way I can think of to explain this is to say that the old hole situation was more like a cyclops with one centered eye, but we needed two eyes. Thus, we filled the holes in the drawers and will drill two fresh holes later on after painting.

To do the wood filling, I squeezed a bit of wood filler int0 the vacant hole and then troweled it on a few times with a…well a trowel. I left a bit of access over the hole to be sanded down once it was dried (recommended drying time was about twenty minutes but I think we waited more like an hour to make sure it was good and dry).

We picked up a tube of tinted wood filler (“golden oak” if you’re curious), but we didn’t really need it to be tinted since it was going to be painted over. There was no difference in cost between the tinted vs. non-tinted, so we just grabbed the first one we saw.

NOW we were finally ready for sanding. John did the bulk of the work here. Well, he really did all of it. But in my defense, we only had one Mouse hand sander and this is more of a man’s job anyway. Don’t worry, I got my payback because most of the painting phase has fallen to me. Look at that boy go to town on the cabinets!!! In his hillbilly camo hat and $2 t-shirt from Wal Mart…Just have to smile.

After a couple hours of listening to the blare of the sander go on and off, the damage was finally done. Time for clean up! As you can see, we had quite a mess to deal with on the counters.

It was as good a time as any for a deep clean of the kitchen anyway, so we vaccummed, scrubbed, disinfected and swept until all was sparkly again.

The very last thing we needed to do that day was get rid of the grit on the wood left behind from the sander. We don’t want all of the sanding debris getting mixed up in our paint. So we picked up four packages of tack cloths at Lowe’s and I simply followed the directions on the packet (unfold cloth entirely and then bunch up) and proceeded to wipe down every nook and cranny on the frame/casing and doors.

Like I said, I initially bought four packs of the tack cloths (each came with two cloths), but only used one of the packs. I had no clue how much I’d use so I over-bought, thinking I would later save myself the trip back out when I needed more. I actually did that with the primer too, picking up two gallons of it. I’m sure I’ll have a lot to return, which is good news! I plan on giving a full budget/cost breakdown sometime next week.

I have to say that, despite all the tedious priming I did Sunday (to be shared in detail on Friday) the tack cloth is so far my least favorite part of this project. The cloth is so sticky and yucky, it was hard to even muster the will to finish that phase. Thank goodness it’s all done and I can happily return those extra tack cloths with a big smile on my face.

I could show you a full-room view of the space post-sand-down, but honestly…You wouldn’t see a difference. Since the cabinets were already light colored, the sanding didn’t really do anything to the look of the cabinets besides take down the sheen. But it did what it needed to in order to prep the surface for paint. Everything was rough and matte to the touch – Perfect for paint to “grab” onto.

So there you have it! An entire day’s labor to prep the space. Unfortunately, I can’t tell you that this project has been easy, but having already put two coats of the final dark brown color on the island, I KNOW that the payoff and hard work will be worth it in the end. I have no doubt that one day soon John will come in from walking the dog and find me sitting on the kitchen floor just gazing at our rich, dark cabinets in happiness…

Come back on Friday for a rundown on the priming process! We’ll be painting the second coat of brown on the cabinet doors tonight after work…Wish us luck and strength to get through it!

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Pinspiration Monday: Open shelving

If you had a chance to check out my blog post last week for Breathe Magazine, then you know that I have kitchens on my mind…One big kitchen trend I’ve been wanting to try out is open shelving. Although it can sometimes read a bit country and traditional for our tastes, I’ve seen designers bring it into the modern age based on what they display. Clean white dishes, stainless steel appliances, wicker baskets, stacks of cookbooks with brightly colored spines and white ceramic animals all equal perfection in my book.

Source: Young House Love

Source: decor8

Source: cupcakes for breakfast

The only problem is that I really don’t relish the idea of removing an entire cabinet from the wall, mostly because our cabinets have a crown molding detail at the top and removing a cabinet would necessitate a trip to my dad’s house to saw it down. That’s more of a headache then I care to deal with at the moment.

But Pinterest to the rescue again when, while searching “kitchen open shelving,” I noticed that people were achieving a similar look just by removing a cabinet door – I’m sold.

Source: SAS Interiors

Source: Apartment Therapy

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

So the first thing I did was choose my cabinet. I decided on one of the outliers so that, if I ever do get the gumption to remove the cabinet entirely, it would make the most sense to take one down that’s away from the others. (Oh and you can see that crown molding detail I was talking about earlier in the photo below)

This particular cabinet is used to hold our cups and mugs, but all were easily moved into the cabinet next to the fridge – It’s actually more convenient that way anyway. By taking the door down, we did inevitably lose our corkboard message center, but that’s okay. We can always redo that project on another door – No harm, no foul.

I won’t bore you with the process of removing a cabinet door as it’s pretty self-explanatory (unscrew the screws holding the hinge to the cabinet frame). We were lucky that our cabinet hinges were just screwed right into the frame without any kind of chiseled groove to nestle into – This would have meant a lot of puttying and wood filler. No need to do so for our newly-opened cabinet! Phew.

Like my inspiration images, I liked the idea of incorporating some baskets to store things in. I picked up these two from Wal Mart for around $2 each. They were perfect to store all of our coffee materials.

Next up? The pretty stuff…I went through our dishes and the bookshelf I keep in the kitchen and picked out some of the more colorful and attractive pieces to display. We ended up with a good collection of cookbooks, my recipe box, a white cow cream dispenser, and my set of vintage etched champagne glasses.

And here’s the (semi) finished product!

I say “semi” because I’d like to wallpaper the inside of the cabinet to make the open shelves look intentional. For the past few days since I opened it up, John and I are constantly walking over to close the door only to realize that it’s not there. I think some patterned paper will make the space seem more like a display then a cheap alternative to open shelving. I tried to paint the inside, but the walls are actually fake wood on which paint just beads up. I think some pretty paper will do the trick.

Oh and I have a surprise for you! We have finally started our complete kitchen overhaul. Get ready for lots of posts on sanding, priming, painting and more painting to come. Over the past two days, John and I have prepped the entire space for paint by sanding and then priming the cabinet frame and doors. I put two coats of the top color (dark espresso brown) on the island last night and we are super giddy about knocking this project OUT. We are hoping to be finished with the painting by Sunday, ready for that reveal next week. Then comes the fun finishing pieces – hardware, new kitchen window curtains and lighting, (possibly a backsplash) etc.

Hope everyone had a fun weekend and that you enjoy your Monday! At least try to make the most of it 🙂

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Mean, clean, clutter-fighting machine

Yup. I’ve officially joined the bandwagon of a society rushing to get organized in the name of the new year.

Instead of “Spring cleaning,” I jumped ahead and took care of a little “winter cleaning.” In fact, I don’t usually have a “spring cleaning” session in the closets and storage areas of my home. I am a clean-and-organize-as-I-go type-a gal.  If I see a corner that looks chaotic and overrun with stuff, I immediately get to work on some piles (“donate,” “trash” and “goes somewhere else”).

And that’s exactly what happened in our studio. I’ve done my best to make the most of the big closet, which is used for home decor, crafting stuff, tools, and boxes and boxes of art supplies. You can step back in time and check out what happened when we added two huge shelving units to store things vertically – They have been a big help over the past six months, but I am plagued by a tendency to fill space if I have it so my storage has gotten more and more packed.

Time for heavy-duty purging.

My first step when I take on a big closet organization project is to get it all out and in plain view. I tend to make better decisions if I can sit on the floor somewhere and take my time looking through pieces. So I just grabbed the first thing I saw and started making one big pile to go through and sort. The only problem was that the closet was able to hold a lot more than I had imagined. So much so that I had to pull things out and sort in shifts!

Here’s my first big pile:

And here’s the very small (almost unnoticeable) dent it made in the closet:

I could not believe that all of the stuff was somehow packed onto those two shelves. It truly blew my mind. And as I slowly pivoted back and forth between the little space I had managed the clear in the closet and my HUMONGOUS pile of crap to go through, I almost reached a breaking point – We are talking hands thrown up in the air, tears welling in my eyes, and a whimpery call to John for help.

But I somehow sucked it up and just took things one piece at a time. I focused on what I had pulled out of the closet and started sorting into the piles I mentioned before – A pile for trash (things I will never use again, mostly papers and receipts I was holding on to), things that need to go elsewhere (why is there a cookbook in my art studio closet?) and things to donate to charity.

In the end, I was left with a lovely clean closet and two medium-sized piles – One to disperse throughout the house (to the left in the photo below) and one to box up for Goodwill (to the right).

Oh and here’s a shot of the trash pile – It quickly overtook the little trash can I keep beside my desk.

This, my reader friends, is the moment we reveal the finished closet – Clean, organized and ready to hold more things but ONLY if I need to store something. Although unofficial, I am resolving this year to not bring anything unnecessary into the house unless we really NEED it, not just because we happen to have room for it. Honestly, the sweat and almost-tears from this particular closet organization will probably hold me to that statement with little effort.

Notice that there are two COMPLETELY empty storage boxes on the upper shelf in the “After” picture above. This brings me great joy…In fact, I also emptied one of the big green Tupperwares stacked on the floor, but I later designated it for “Your Thrift Store SCORE!” inventory.

Now for a few more “After” shots of the shelves:

We can’t forget about my desktop-file-box-turned-gift-bag-storage on the door! I also hung an inexpensive 3M hook with removable adhesive for a place to store a gift bag full of tissue paper (read up on that in detail here).

And since everyone likes a good “Before and After,” my closet went from this…

…to this:

No, my closet is not painted on the inside with a gorgeous chandelier painted in a bright color and shelves lined with vintage paper (ALL of which I would absolutely love to do), but it’s functional and I guess that’s all I can ask for…Maybe the “designy” part of the redo will come later on when I start to run out of big projects to focus on.

Oh and that big pile of stuff I started out with on the floor was eventually cleared and we had carpet to enjoy once more…(Luna’s enjoying it too – those big green eyes are silently screaming “Mom!!! Come play with me on the clean floor!”)

What are your New Year’s resolutions? My official goals for the year are to give up three foodies that I partake in far too often – Hot dogs, bagels and boxes of Kraft mac & cheese. I’m pretty devastated about the whole thing, but ya gotta do whatcha gotta do, I guess…Have to fit into that white dress in April, right?

Good luck with holding strong to your resolutions in 2012 – For what it’s worth, I believe in you!

P.S. Want more closet clutter fighting tips? Check out my friend Beth’s post over on – She shares a bunch of helpful hints that can get you on your way to better organization (click here for that). Oh and if you missed my own post on the blog all about kitchen renovations, check that out here!

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New blog post on Breathe!

Hey hey! Happy Thursday to you!

Just wanted to let you know that I’m talking about kitchen renovations on a budget over on – Get the scoop by clicking here!

Source: Mint

For my other posts, check them out here, here and here.

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Looking back and musings for the future

Whoops! I guess I was so excited about my new battery organizer that I completely forgot to wish all of you the best of happy new years – I hope that all of you had a great start to 2012. I don’t know about you, but 2011 was a C-R-A-Z-Y year. That sounds so American of me but being a young adult in this world is recipe for a hectic life, and I have a feeling it’s going to get even more so as years go by.

In terms of milestones though, this past one was big. I met and fell in love with my best friend, John, (read up on that here), started this little ole blog (embarrassing first post found here), got engaged (story found here), got a new job, moved in with John (progress updates on that found here, here and here) and spent our first holiday season together making new traditions between our respective families. After our wedding this coming April, I am hoping that 2012 will be a much calmer year, with time to relax and enjoy our new marriage.

Among all of those big happenings, this blog is not the least of them. I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that I decided to take the leap into blogging and our visitors and repeat readers have made that journey all the more rewarding. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would have accomplished so much in my first year.

Like other WordPress bloggers, I got an email from the powers that be laying out all of my blog’s stats from 2011 – The results were encouraging and I thought I’d share them with you since the email would have been blank if it weren’t for your daily traffic to DreamGreenDIY.

First, we have a breakdown of the overall numbers:

I love that they compared my blog’s stats to one of the most incredible (so I’ve heard – haven’t been there yet) art museums in the world – the Louvre. Apparently, if DGDIY was an art exhibit there, it would take four days for my 85,000 visitors to see it in person. Incredible… I’m not surprised to see that my busiest day for views in 2011 was on November 5th, with 2,049 views. This was the week that our blog made it onto WordPress’s Freshly Pressed list – SUCH an amazing honor!

Next up, we have my top five referral sites that got people a-scrolling through DGDIY:

In the top spot is Craft Gawker – I L-O-V-E looking through the pages and pages of craft ideas on that site. Craft Gawker is a little like Pinterest – In fact, most of my original pins (that is, those I don’t just repin from someone else) are from Craft Gawker. When I realized that crafties like me could submit their own material to make it on the list, I hastily clicked “Submit” and posted a few of my favorite projects over the last year.

Second on the list of referral sites was – Holla! I love wasting time using the Stumble button on my browser…I’m honored that people decided to waste time on our blog. Next up was – That must have been during my “Freshly Pressed” days again. The last two referrals went to Facebook (like us here if you haven’t already!) and Pinterest. In the last couple of days, I have seen Pinterest referrals skyrocket. I won’t hesitate to admit that, if in need of a pick-me-up, I click over to Pinterest to be astounded at the number of pins people have created from this blog. It is SO humbling and I am just thrilled to pieces that I could inspire others. That was the main purpose for this blog in the first place, so seeing that dream become a reality is A-W-E-S-O-M-E and the best motivation I could ever have.

Continuing our merry way through WordPress’s handy site stats email, we move on to demographics.

Seems like the majority of you are from either the U.S., Canada or the U.K. I’m excited to see a medium-sized icon over Australia, and the rest of the icons blow my mind a little too – I had no idea DGDIY reached that far!

Speaking of readers…Here are my top commenters:

Ainhoa of “A Little Bite of Everything” was my top commenter this past year. She probably has no idea, but I am so thankful for her. She was the very first non-family member to comment on DGDIY when we first started up last March and I have gotten so used to seeing her pop up with something encouraging to say. She has become a little like family (at least a virtual one) and I am just so happy that she found us and that she decided to stick it out with us from the beginning. Again, she probably has NO idea what her consistent commenting has meant to me! If you haven’t checked out her blog before, you must do so – She too got engaged this year!

Not to be ignored, a HUGE “Thank you!” goes to Sosha of “Nice and New”, Maggie of “maggsworld” and mybrightlife – PLEASE click on those links to check out their sites. Thanks to Lourdes Lopez too (who doesn’t have a site to link to)!

And finally, we take a look at the most-viewed posts from 2011:

To check out these popular posts click on the links below:

  1. “Thrift Store SCORE!” {11/4/11}
  2. Master Bedroom Revamp {Part Two}
  3. Hang ’em High: Framed Earring Organizer
  4. Attempted Cover-Up
  5. Class is now in session! DIY Framed Necklace Organizer

Before I wrap up this year in review, I wanted to gush for a moment over the big wigs in the blogging world that have so kindly featured DGDIY…

My first foray into guest blogging was with Kami of “NoBiggie”, who featured my take on easy Fourth of July decorating over the summer (see that post here). I will always remember this post since it was my first to be featured on a blog other than my own, and will be eternally grateful to Kami for sharing our blog with her readers.

And also featuring my Fourth of July tips, Ashley and Greg of “7th House on the Left” (fellow Virginians!!) made my little heart burst with joy – See their shoutout here.

Ahhh!!! I still can’t believe that happened.

And the most recent shoutout for DGDIY was by Amanda of “Bullfrogs and Bulldogs” who named us as one of her “Top 10 Most Inspiring Blogs of 2011” – Wow!!! See that post here. “Thank you!” just doesn’t seem enough…

The last exciting news in 2011 was when I was invited by my friend and editor of Breathe Magazine (based out of Charlottesville, VA), Marissa, to join the ranks of their monthly bloggers. My topic: “Tricks and Trends” in the home design world. So far I have published two posts and another is to go live tomorrow morning (see the first here and the second here). I am incredibly thankful for this awesome opportunity to gab about what design trends are influencing me and the rest of us nesters. If you’re on the east coast, the latest issue was just released and I have an in-print article to peruse for more on my home DIY projects. So exciting!!

I am so thankful for what came to pass in 2011, but I think I’m even more excited about 2012! John and I are going to be pretty busy the first part of the new year with wedding-related details, but we had a big talk about the future last night over dinner (in terms of our home) and decided on a couple of bigger projects to save for and tackle in the next 365 days (some of which involve FINALLY getting our kitchen done). We can’t wait to share our big projects with you as well as the smaller craft projects I think we are starting to be known for.

Keep commenting, keep pinning and PLEASE email me if you ever have a suggestion or question about our home or the blog – We absolutely adore hearing from you guys and I learn quite a bit from the things you are talking about and sharing. As always, you can reach us via email at

Thanks for a great 2011 and here’s to an even better 2012…


(Photo credit for engagement picture: Here)

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Pinspiration Monday: Battery storage

I don’t know about ya’ll, but until recently I was in the midst of a huge battle with my batteries. Whenever I needed a fresh one, it seemed that every one I grabbed was dead or dying. I couldn’t understand why this was happening until I took a good, long, hard look at my then-current manner of storing these little tubes of metal.

While I had, at the very least, found a way to keep them TOGETHER in one place stored in a gallon-sized ziplock bag, the jumbled pile of batteries meant that ends were touching and inevitably charging each other out.

As usual, Pinterest came to the rescue with this idea of storing batteries upright in a craft storage box:

Source: Better Homes and Gardens

The multiple compartments meant that my OCD mind could be settled with organized batteries by type/size, and the ends would no longer be a-bumpin’.

So off to Wal Mart we went, after which I came home with this little $4 beauty:

My favorite part is the customization feature – See those extra “Z”s of plastic in the big compartment to the right? Those can be cut down to a pile of extra plastic “walls” to slide in as partitions, allowing you to make special boxed areas based on the size of your materials to be stored.

The little tabs holding the “Z”s together could easily be twisted and snapped off, although they sometimes left little jagged edges. But that was nothing a snip or two with a pair of scissors couldn’t fix.

In my batteries went! I know that you other obsessed-with-organization people can understand the feeling of sheer joy and euphoria that comes with compartmentalized objects in their own cubbies…It was (and is) a-w-e-s-o-m-e.

Although my particular box wasn’t tall enough to house the batteries upright like the one in my Pinspiration image, they store just fine horizontally. To state the obvious, big batteries got their own larger room on the right side of the box, whereas the little dudes got progressively smaller rooms to the left.

As you can see, I had a few extra partitions left over so I’ll be able to section things even further once my dwindling battery collection is replenished.

I love my new battery storage and think that I can finally call myself victorious in this battle. Never thought I’d EVER say this, but now I can’t wait until I see a blinking light telling me I need a new battery.

How do you guys store your batteries? Got any other witty “new uses for old things” tricks up your sleeve? Gotta love Pinterest…

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