China Cabinet Makeover

Well, well, well…Yes, I’m still alive and we’ve been doing projects without telling you. Stop nagging me, geez.

In June, I was doing my normal craigslist stalking, which usually starts once I see a post over at Emily Henderson. She does these Craigslist posts in random cities every now and again and she (well, probably her team of interns/assistants) finds the most amazing furniture pieces! Our local craigslist has pretty slim pickin’s most of the time, but sometimes you can find hidden gems if you stalk hard enough.

One day, I saw a posting of a “Small Antique China Cabinet” and I was pretty much sold before I even saw the picture of it. Our dining room isn’t exactly massive, so size did matter & a lot of the china cabinets I saw on CL before were humongous! It was $50, so I reached out right away to try to schedule a time to see it. The seller was available the next day, so off Josh and I went to see it on the way to a friend’s birthday party. Of course, I was trying not to get my hopes up, but it’s been five years since our wedding and we’ve used our China a grand total of ONE TIME, so having it on display got me all excited (it’s so preeeettttyyy!).

The cabinet was covered in cobwebs in the seller’s garage, but overall, it was in pretty good shape, so we paid full price. I so wish I was a better haggler, but whatever. Since we were already half way to the party, we decided we’d keep the cabinet in the back of the truck while we were at the party and then unload it when we got home, rather than take the extra time to just drive it home. MISTAKE.

A freak thunderstorm came through the area and even though Josh went back to the truck to cover it with a tarp, the front of the cabinet already had some marks from where water started puddling. Woops. Anyway, here is the before picture after we had removed the front doors/drawers and cleaned it about a hundred times!


We pretty much went full-on pinterest for this project.

White Chalk paint (using a DIY recipe)

+ China Cabinet

+ Different Color on the inside of the cabinet

= success!


We used the original hardware mostly because we were too lazy to try to find new hardware, but we cleaned them up by soaking them in Dawn for awhile. We did manage to buy new hinges because the old ones were pretty rusty.

For those that are curious, we used this DIY Chalk Paint Recipe – There are a ton of different recipes, but Plaster of Paris is cheap, so I went with this one. Overall, it was pretty easy to use and stuck to the cabinet without having to prime! I have never used Annie Sloan Chalk Paint before, but I doubt I ever will because making it myself was easy enough and I don’t have any complaints about the finish.

For paint colors, we used 1 and a half qts. of Behr Ultra Premium Plus in Painter’s White (Matte) and for the backing we used 2 of the small sample sized containers of Behr Ultra Premium Plus in Fresh Day (Matte).

One thing we did to differently than most of the Pinterest projects we saw was we added LED lights to illuminate the display area of the cabinet. We used these Sylvania Mosaic LED lights which you can find at Lowe’s! They even have a remote control & the lights can change colors (more on that later in the post).


Not sure if you can see it in the pictures above but where each of the shelves were had a glaringly obvious beam of light, so we used Black electrical tape to cover it up so it would look less harsh.

So..remember how I said the lights change color? Now, we have our very own dinner entertainment for our guests to enjoy😉

Second oopsy of this project was when we were reinstalling the painted trim around the glass door for the middle-top section of the cabinet. We broke the glass, so we are looking in to getting it replaced and then we’ll be 100% done with it.🙂 I won’t hold my breath because we still haven’t 100% finished the kitchen we started on two years ago.

Once we get the glass replaced, I’ll have the final final total for this, but I’m pretty sure it will fall below the $150 mark! Holla.

I promise I’ll be back with some more updates. Pinky swear.

Downstairs Bathroom Round 1: DONE!

Hey pals..the last in-house update was when we were starting the downstairs bathroom around Christmas time! Here are a few before photos for your viewing pleasure:

Downstairs BA Before 3

Downstairs BA Before 1

Downstairs BA Before 4

You know you’re jealous of that bathroom. Just admit it.

So, we painted the room, mirror, and cabinets, installed the new light fixture, a new countertop, and a new sink/faucet! Voila!

Downstairs BA After 1
Yes, we need to paint and install the baseboard heater cover! Thanks for mentioning it.

Downstairs BA after 3

We ended up breaking the backsplash off of the countertop when we were cutting the countertop down to size, so we installed a row of white subway tile backsplash for now. Eventually we are going to do a full renovation on this bathroom (re-work the layout, add a shower/bath, full gut job), so we didn’t want to spend too much on anything that would be a temporary placeholder.

Downstairs BA After 5

The finishing touch was the installation of my beautiful “Paint Nite/Wine & Design” paintings, too, which I am now calling my “Shitty Art Gallery.”🙂 Speaking of which, I want to add to my gallery, so anyone who wants to go drink and paint with me..holla at me!

Even though it took me 5 months to actually blog about this bad boy-it only took us a few days (and about $400) to complete, which was refreshing after months and months of working on the living room/sunroom (and still not being finished. joy!).

We got a puppy…


Lots of changes here at the Whole Damn House…that’s Jimmy Dean!  He’s our new pup and the reason we expedited our fence building project.





We used our huge stack of wood to mask the fact that one of those posts was installed out of line to avoid a tree root. Holla!

We have only fully completed and stained the run pictured and have about 3x that amount to go. After installing the wood and staining, we are also attaching weld wire so that the dogs can’t get out. YAY! I can’t wait for the day I can let them out without worrying that they will run after a squirrel into neighbor’s yards/the street/etc. More details soon!

Starting the Downstairs Bathroom

I must be honest with you all. My sweet husband has turned me into a crazy person. Sometimes we hit points in our renovations where I feel like I can’t help. Whether it is a project I don’t feel comfortable doing or one that Josh has a specific vision/plan for, sometimes I find myself doing the other things that need to be done around the house like laundry, dishes, etc. This is all fine and dandy except when I get bored doing those things. That is when I start to get boo-hooey/lazy/bratty and make Josh take a brainstorming trip to Lowe’s/Home Depot with me.

When we take a brainstorming trip, I create new projects for myself to do while Josh works on “his” projects. This is how our bathroom renovation started. I mentioned wanting to look at paint colors for the bathroom cabinets and walls. It then turned in to us looking at light fixtures, countertops, and sinks. We got paint swatches and left, but after brainstorming store trips, I always come back in to the house renewed and ready to work. Measurements were taken, colors were decided, and we got to work.

Here are some before pictures for you to feast your eyes on!

Downstairs BA Before 1  Downstairs BA Before 3 Downstairs BA Before 4

For the walls, we chose Behr Ultra Premium Plus in Snowy Pine:

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Snowy Pine
Photo from

and for the cabinets, we chose Behr Marquee Silent Film:

Behr Marquee Silent Film
Photo from

All of the trim is painted with the same Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Ultra Pure White that we’ve been using through the rest of the house.

First, we took down the upper cabinets and lights to open up the space a bit. Doing this also removed the two outlets that were housed on the bottom of the cabinets. The power was run from the light box down the inside of the cabinets. They were a bit awkward from the beginning, but we didn’t want to completely lose outlets in the room. After a bit of research, we installed a new fan switch that also had an outlet below, so that I am still able to use a blow dryer/straightener in the bathroom. This made it so that we wouldn’t have to completely run new power. Shortcuts that work for the win!

Downstairs BR Mid-Way 3

We’ll be painting the mirror the same color as the cabinets!

Downstairs BA Hardware

We ordered a gorgeous sink from Wayfair

Yessss. Merry Christmas to us! #kohler #wayfair #cantinstallituntilafterchristmas

A photo posted by Alison McPherson (@ali.mcp) on

and bought a countertop from Lowe’s that we will be cutting down to size (cross your fingers we don’t mess it up! We definitely have a chance of messing up the backsplash since all of the modern countertops are too deep for our bathroom. We will be cutting the back end off and trying to reuse the backsplash. If we mess it up, we will likely do a tile backsplash, but..just cross your fingers we don’t mess up the countertop.🙂

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who I am; and why I am here

Photo by Chelsea Diane Photography
Photo by Chelsea Diane Photography

As a wedding professional, I’ve heard a lot of best man/ maid of honor speeches start out with, “For those of you who don’t know me…” It is almost a joke among wedding vendors because approximately 98.74% of the speeches begin with that statement. I’m pretty sure I started my speech at my best friend’s wedding with it (photo above)..and I almost started this blog post with it.

It is because introductions are awkward. When you are standing in the middle of a dance floor in front of 150 of your BFF’s favorite people staring back at you it is almost as awkward as writing something on a blog that hypothetically 3 billion people in the world could read. You put yourself out there in both situations. And in both situations people could think what you are saying is stupid. So you start it off with, “For those of you who don’t know me…”

Well, I’m not starting this blog post with it because I figure if someone thinks what I am saying is stupid, you can click the X up at the top of your internet-browser-of-choice window. HA. This is our corner of the internet, suckers. And mostly, this blog is for us (me).

The Whole Damn House is a home blog that is here to document our journey improving our first home. Mostly, it is so that we can see our progress and remind ourselves that living through a construction zone is worth it. Seeing before photos after progress is made is a seriously powerful motivator. This blog also gives us the opportunity to keep our families and friends updated without having to monopolize phone conversations, connect with other fixer upper or non-fixer upper homeowners, and hopefully make a few folks laugh at our expense.🙂 We like having people laugh with us. Maybe one day we will get to the point where you might learn something about home improvement, but..we’ll see. I’d need to convince Josh to write things here if you want to learn anything.🙂

So. Hey! I’m Alison and I am the one who writes things here. Josh is my husband and he is the bossy one (haha, just kidding! That’s me, too!). He’s the one that has actual home improvement talent and is teaching me things everyday. In 2014, I used a nail gun for the first time and it was FUN. Our dog Tucker is along for the ride whether he likes it or not because we continue to feed him.

This is us when we were young(er) and in love. (Yes, this is from High School)


Why did we name it The Whole Damn House? Two reasons.

1. We have to re-do the whole damn house, and

2. Josh graduated from Virginia Military Institute. At VMI, one of the cheers they do during sporting events ends in “Whole Damn Team.” When discussing buying this house, Josh was wearing one of his VMI shirts that had the phrase on it, and I giggled about how we were about to buy a house where we needed to renovate the whole damn thing. So…I started the blog. I hope VMI doesn’t come after me with a cease and desist letter because then..See #1. (We’ve donated!! Love ya!)


One of my goals for 2015 is to blog more often. I signed up for Blogging101 through WordPress to learn more about this fabulous platform, get on a more frequent posting schedule and explore blogging in a new and different way. You’ll be seeing you’ll more posts coming through over here in our little weird corner of the internet.🙂 Some may be random, some may be funny..I have no idea since WP is taking me (and a few thousand other bloggers) on the journey and assigning things day by day. 

New Year, New Couches

On the Wednesday before Christmas, I went to Target to go shopping on my lunch break. My phone rang and it was a number I did not recognize, but I remembered the folks over at North Carolina Furniture and Mattress were going to call mid-way through our couch wait to give us a status update. I answered and they let me know the couches were in early! And they could deliver tonight, if we were available! Uh, twist my arm, whydontyou. When they arrived, we hovered over the delivery guys like nobody’s business. We were SO excited and a little bit nervous to see everything since the sample couch we sat on was a turquoise patterned couch and we almost had forgotten what we ordered. Wee! New Couches New Couch

There are still some more changes to come in this room including reupholstering the red chair in the corner and getting a new chair where the rocking chair is. We’d also like to get a new rug and some curtains.🙂 No matter what, I am so happy it no longer looks like this: livingroom

Or this:


It feels great to have “almost finished” a room just prior to the New Year-at least to the point where we are comfortable snuggling up to watch a movie! Happy 2015, ya’ll! Thanks for following along in 2014❤

Couch Potatoes

If you don’t follow me on instagram, you probably think we have passed the blogging responsibilities down to Tucker, who unfortunately cannot type, or completely given up on this little old house of ours, OR that we are being lazy couch potatoes. If you do follow me on instagram, you’ve seen this:

Truth is, our living room is 97% done. We have to do the trim around the beams and a few paint touch ups, but I’ve been holding out on all update photos because..we bought a sofa and a loveseat! And it will be 6 to 8 weeks until we have them. And we’ve been working on and blogging about this project since March so I feel like I can drag it out longer. But we are so close to having real-life adult furniture! YAY!

For local people, we went to North Carolina Furniture and Mattress and it was glorious. The brands they work with have great reputations for quality, the sales people are polite and don’t hound you like the other bigger stores do, and everything is custom ordered based on your specifications. We first went in on Black Friday (in the evening-I’m not THAT crazy) wanting to walk around and see what they had. They had a sweet sale going on that ended on Sunday, but we hadn’t seen what we were looking for ANYWHERE and weren’t ready to commit to anything. We sat our butts in every couch they had (because literally all of them are beautiful and comfortable) and once we left, we had two major contenders in our search! We got there about 40 minutes before closing time, so we told Susan (their in-house designer) that we would likely be back on Saturday to look a bit more. She told us to measure our room so that she could put together a floor plan with our two sofa contenders and talk about traffic flow, rug sizes that would work in the room, etc. We went in on Saturday afternoon, sat in our two contenders again, discussed the floor plans Susan drew up, and took home about five fabric samples. On Sunday afternoon, we went in and ordered them! I can’t speak highly enough about our experience. They made it so easy and fun and we can’t wait to see our gorgeous sofa and love seat in person soon!

Since I know it is killing you not knowing what we got, we ordered the Flexsteel Westside Sofa and Loveseat in a Charcoal Gray color that has a beautiful texture that unfortunately my monitor doesn’t pick up. We chose the Florentine leg color and even got to choose fabrics for pillows (the stripes and floral below)! Simple & Classic🙂

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Now we are hard at work finishing up our sunroom floor, windows, and trim so that dust is no longer flying once the couches get here. :) Oh, and I seem to have started the downstairs bathroom, too. More on that soon!


This post has been a LONG.TIME.COMING. but I think it is a better post because of it, so there’s that. This is a story about our first really big fail on this house. We were failures with a capital F.

Early this spring, we decided it was time to try to grow grass in our front yard. There is something to be said about a lush, thick, beautiful yard of grass. It is fun to walk barefoot in. Tucker likes eating it. It gives Josh a chance to use our lawn mower since he is usually sooooooooo so sooo bored on weekends (haha!). And…it looks better than this:











Needless to say, we wanted to give growing grass a shot, even though our lot is heavily wooded and there is a short period of real sunlight throughout the day. After testing our soil to test it’s PH levels and that sort of thing, we determined our game plan. We started out with a truckload of compost from our city dump mixed with Vigoro Super Green Lawn Fertilizer and pelletized Limestone. By the way, Josh and I also know the best time to plant grass is in the fall, not the spring. We knew this when we planted grass in the spring, but we were feeling invincible after finishing our kitchen. Shut up and stop rolling your eyes.











We then spread the seed over that mixture and waited.


A few days later, we got hit with a huge thunderstorm where the rain created a stream through the middle of the yard. A few weeks later, we started seeing a bit of growth in some areas and a LOT of growth in the lower parts of the yard where the seeds all ended up at the bottom of the stream. It was a bit patchy.




So, we went and got some more seed and spread it again. This time, we covered the seeds (and the new grass) with another layer of compost to help it stay in the same place in case we got hit with another storm. We were worried it would kill the new grass, but a few days later it started popping up through the compost, so YAY! Soon, the second layer of seed started growing and it looked like this:




We put up this temporary fence so that Tucker wouldn’t get in to the new grass or dig holes. And our azaleas! They are so pretty when they bloom!

With even more waiting, the grass kept growing and it was very exciting!








Then, the summer came and it turns out… our front lawn gets more sun than we thought. And we got busy and forgot to water it. The grass totally withered away and was fried. It was really brown and sad. I didn’t take a picture because I was crying about it and couldn’t see through the view finder.

So…we started over. This time in the fall, with a better mix of seeds that aren’t Shade Blend, and making sure that we water it every single day it isn’t raining.

Grass x 2

Grass Re-do 3


Here’s to hoping the second time is the charm! We’ll keep you updated.