China Cabinet Makeover

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!

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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!

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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).

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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:

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Downstairs BA Before 1

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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 “Crappy 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!).

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)

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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!)

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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. 


The One that Got Away

unnamed1234 While I was cleaning out our filing cabinet, I came across our contract and inspection report from our house that “got away.”

I am sure every homeowner has one..You look at a house, love it, put in an offer, and it is under contract. Or you get out-bid. Or in our case, you get to the home inspection and realize there are lots and lots of overwhelming things to fix. Like, practically the whole inspection report was in red font, meaning: NOT GOOD. You ask the seller to fix the major problems and they say no. You debate and debate and debate about whether or not you should continue on with the contract. You counter, they counter…We walked away…and we are SO glad we did.

I know what you are thinking. You walked away from a house that had “lots of overwhelming things to fix” and then you bought YOUR HOUSE? Yes. For many reasons.

The other house was over $30,000 more and still had cosmetic things inside that we would want to change. I was obsessed with the yellow front door and the little mudroom it had as you walked in. It had a large garage/shed in the back yard and a huge magnolia tree, a screened in porch, and a fence! And a gas fireplace! It was super close to our favorite neighborhood and was within walking distance of the river and a delicious BBQ place (priorities, ya’ll). The downsides were that it only had 1 1/2 baths, it had an underground oil tank that we would have to remove eventually, it didn’t have appliances, and oh…it had major structural issues (foundation, moisture, roof, etc) that the  seller was not willing to fix.

For my friends who are going through or eventually will go through the home buying process..I have a few tips.

Try not to get discouraged. You will find the right house for you. It just might take more time than you want it to. And try not to be pissed at the seller if they can’t accommodate all of your requests, you spoiled brat (I learned that one through experience..it doesn’t help anything if you’re mad.).

Don’t rush in to something or give up one of your “must-haves” because of an emotion (I love that yellow front door!) and be REALISTIC about the amount of work you want to do or pay someone else to do. We were gung-ho about making improvements from the beginning and there are some days where we admit we bit off more than we can chew on our own.

Know that everything once you own a house is more expensive than you think it is going to be. You will walk in to Lowes/Home Depot/any store and you’ll be like…”oh cool, these screws/nails/whatever are only like $.97 each…” and then you realize that you need 40 bazillion to finish your project. Plus a new screwdriver, hammer, and, “ooooh..look! They have mirrors AND curtains here!”

Listen to your advice-giving family, even if you don’t like what they are saying. At least just listen and think about it and THEN do what you want to do. Sometimes they really DO know best, even if you don’t want to admit it.

Every seller has a “thing” they are looking for in the transaction. Maybe they don’t have a ton of cash on hand so they CAN’T pay the entire closing cost amount, but are willing to drop the price a bit or be flexible somewhere else. Maybe they are an investor and don’t really care if they sell it right away because they can afford to sit on it and wait for someone who will pay full price. Maybe they have to get out of the house ASAP and can’t wait for a later closing date. The key is to find out what they want, weigh it against what you want/can afford, and decide whether or not it will work. If you feel uncomfortable/uneasy about where the negotiations are headed, get out and go look at more houses.

You’ll find it!

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