Our Andover House Project // The Makeshift Kitchen

Well hello and a happy and warm Thursday to YOU! 

37 degrees is the high today. I am in heaven.


Remember how I said we've been taking things easy and enjoying our bedroom? The enjoying our bedroom part is true, but two weeks ago Darin and I decided to open the walkway between our living room and kitchen just to see what we had to work with, which resulted in us breaking ground on our massive Kitchen project. Let me back up by giving you an idea of what our kitchen has looked like for the past 6 months: 

This my friends, is what it looks like to live in a house that you are working on. The images above were taken over the course of a few months, like the top left -- that was the day we moved in. The dehumidifier didn't stay in the sink for more than a day. And the bottom right, that would be my desk, the one I worked at all summer long on weddings. It was a huge adjustment going from a finished house to this, but we had a vision and were totally up for living uncomfortably for what we want. 

Anyways, here is what the kitchen looks like now: 

We ripped out EVERYTHING.

Including the entire subfloor -- if we didn't take that out, we would have spent an entire day pulling staples. Yeah NO. 


It looks so much easier when just showing image progress. Believe me, it was a LOT of cleaning up, hauling stuff out to our burn pile in -25 degree weather, ripping up nails, flooring, you name it. But, we did it!

You might be wondering ... how do you live without a kitchen? 

Makeshift kitchen to the rescue!! We curated our own cooking and eating space to hold us over while the kitchen is being put back together. The bedroom below is where we were sleeping before we finished our bedroom, aren't you in love with the paint color the previous owners chose? Jeesh, they did a terrible job painting! They really loved their purple too. Anyways, we moved everything kitchen related into this bedroom, along with the wall cabinets we tore down, our fridge (which didn't fit through the doorway so we had to remove the doors to get it inside), table and all of our other misc. things. 

All of our office items conveniently fit inside the closet too, so that was really nice. When needed, we use the table as a desk, or sit in bed on our laptops. This is how we are living right now! 

It's not bothering us as much as I thought it would. We use the crockpot, microwave and a griddle for making meals, and we are keeping our dish washing to it's minimum using all plastic and paper plates and utensils. When I do wash the dishes it's in the bathroom sink and sometimes tub -- not super fun, but it works for now. 


As if that's not exciting enough, a week ago Darin and I ventured out to look at appliances, cabinets and countertops. To our surprise we ended up finding EVERYTHING on our list! Our go-to for appliances is and always will be A1 Appliance -- they are AMAZING. We bought our fridge, microwave, stove and cooktop from them with a 1 year warranty on all of it (10% off or free delivery if you tell them you love Jesus!). Then came the dreaded search for cabinets and a countertop ... it ended up being way more fun and less expensive than we thought. We designed and purchased those from Home Depot. Last but not least we picked up flooring for the rest of the upper floor at Lowes. It was an expensive day, but we saved much more than we thought we would. 


That's all I have to share today, but stay tuned for more updates and photo progress :-) I appreciate all of you readers out there! 






Our Andover House Project // Master Bedroom

Things have been a bit quiet on the blog, you can thank good ol' Minnesota winter for that. I have decided to take the winter months to focus all of my efforts on our house. Although photography is one of my big loves, our big blue construction zone trumps updating my blog and Facebook constantly. 

Since weeknights are mostly spent on working on our home, spending time together relaxing like normal people, family or friend gatherings, actually sitting down for a legit dinner... etc. I haven't had time to keep updated throughout our whole process. So this post will be much like my last. A long (hopefully not too long...) rambling of the process of the bedroom. And again, to keep this post from going on forever I will skim over our progress, skipping the in depth-ness.


Well, was. This WAS what it looked like:

TOTAL POTENTIAL! After we finished the long drawn out bathroom project, we were a tad drained (okay we were completely exhausted) but I was excited knowing that the bedroom would hopefully go much much faster. A room that doesn't require water is FAR easier in our opinion. 

We began by removing the: stinky carpet, trim, wall trim, closet door, the VERY uneven beams that weren't even on studs... whyyy!? we popped some square holes in the sheetrock to plan for future  windows, and removed everything except the sheetrock I guess. I scraped all of the popcorn off the ceiling to prep for the our old-school idea for paneling on the ceiling. 

We had looked around for different types of paneling to do for the ceiling; 4x8 wainscoting sheets, multiple types of tongue and groove, possibly 1x4's??? It was all a little more expensive than we want to spend on the ceiling. I mean, it's the ceiling. After much discussion and internet/Pinterest research we decided on purchasing 1/4 inch underlayment (cheap!), table sawing it into 5 inch strips and finish nailing it up. It's a Pinterest fad right now if you didn't realize. Knowing we were going to replace the beams (and actually CENTER them) we put up 3 rows of plywood so the breaks in plywood would be where the beams would lay. Here's our start: 

The paneling went up WAY faster than we thought it would, which was nice. The cutting and sanding was the longer portion of it. We spaced each piece with a nickels worth of thickness -- that's right, we used nickels in between each one! After we finished nailed them to the ceiling, I went back and wood puttied EVERY SINGLE NAIL. Not to mention, there was about 12-15 nails in EACH board. My neck was pretty sore the next day. When that was finished I went back and hand sanded everything and Darin put the first coat of paint up.

Then came the beams -- woo hoo! We decided that we wanted the ceiling to be all white, so there was no sense in spending a ton of money on expensive beams that we were going to lather with paint. So we made our own. Totally simple too: 2, 1x4's for the sides, and 1, 1x6 for the bottom. Basically hollow beams that don't look hollow after wood-putty, some sanding and paint. We secured the beams to the ceiling using chunks of 2x4's screwed into the ceiling studs. We spent a lot of time finish nailing the beams up as perfectly and seamlessly as possible bending the boards to sit flush with each other. If you look closely you can see where the 1x6 and 1x4 meet, and also the markings on the wall of how terribly off-center the old beams were placed.

Next step: wood putty, and paint! 

In the meantime I had a few side projects started: our rad closet design, the sliding barn door for the closet, and we even picked out a color for the walls of the bedroom. We love the industrial look that's going around right now, and we are both suckers for old home style things as well. So I designed an industrial sanded plywood closet complete with metal rods (conduit!), I found a tutorial on making a 4 panel barn door on Pinterest, all while Darin scraped, patched and painted the inside of the closet. I wanted to make sure we both had enough room for all of our things.

So this was the beginning of the closet transformation. Once the walls and ceiling were finished we put up a nifty track light we found at Menards. 

Then came all my plywood. Sensing a theme? Plywood is amazing. I did promise my lovely husband that I could do the entire thing on my own. But being TERRIBLE with a drill and screws, I needed help. I did attach most of the plywood together with the finish nailer, but trying to get a screw into plywood is my worst enemy.

Here is our extra professional method of cutting through conduit for the rods & extra pieces:

Below shows: my cubby (left), the closet door I trimmed out myself (!!!) and we painted the room!

In the midst of all that (don't forget we were both working at least 4 days per week on top of all of this) I began working on the sliding barn door for our closet. Here is the amazing tutorial I found. This woman just made the whole thing out of plywood! Again, a trend - YES! I love it. It's not perfect by any means and definitely has it's flaws up close. At one point I considered making another one (we didn't use the table saw for the entire thing so the cuts aren't 100% straight) but I decided to leave it as a proud accomplishment of something that I built on my own, and embrace it's imperfections. We did think about ordering a door to save time, but after finding out it would come to over $275.00 including shipping... yeah no.

While we patiently awaited for the barn door hardware to arrive in the mail, we began prepping for the windows, the fan light fixture and the floor. (( Shoutout to Darin who is a MASTER at patching )) 

Installing everything wasn't as easy as this looks ... but they sure turned out pretty! ps. everything looks so wobbly and crooked --  but it's totally not. My cell phone doesn't like making things look straight apparently.

The hardware arrived for the door so we hung it along with the entry door we found at Menards on Black Friday. We bought a brown industrial looking ceiling fan and I quickly realized it wouldn't match anything when I brought it in the room (especially the chrome hardware for the closet door). We liked the fan a LOT and didn't want to return it, but I didn't want to install it with it being the wrong color ... so I convinced Darin to let me spray paint it. He was NOT on board with the idea since the fan was pretty spendy ... but, I bought some metallic spray paint and it turned out totally awesome after a few coats. 


Then came the floor. A once touchy subject and a long process. 

Siiigh. Well, here's what happened. We prepped for the floor ( I'd say at least 8 hours of sanding, cutting, cleaning, prepping, etc. ) then we carefully laid the floor (about 3-4 hours), then we did tremendous amounts of work on it covering nail holes with putty, sanding and whatnot ( like, over 13 hours worth ), then we applied the conditioner which you do before stain, then we finally put the first coat of stain down and then realized we'd made a mistake ... we put the putty in and sanded it on the wood before the conditioner and stain. We were supposed to wait to putty until AFTER the first coat of stain. So ... we had to rip it up and do it over. That's right, all of that hard work we did, we ripped it up, cut up the boards and they are sitting in our basement waiting to be burned in our fireplace. 

God was definitely teaching us a lesson in patience. After realizing what a huge mistake we'd made I asked Darin if we could just leave it in for a few days. I was so proud to have laid almost the entire floor on my own, and then to find out we had to rip up all of our hard work and do it again? It was a punch in the gut. 

A few days later, when reality sunk in and we needed to move on, we ripped it out and started over. I just kept saying, "at least we didn't do the entire upper floor and screw up, this was only one room". 

To give you an idea, the next image shows the ugly spots where the stain didn't take (left), and the billions of nail holes from the nails we had to pull up one by one (right). All in all it was a valuable and sucky lesson, but we are SO happy with how floor #2 turned out. 

So, here's Darin staining floor #2! 

Small tip: if you're staining in the dead of winter, BUY A MASK and crack your windows. The fumes got to us the first time and we were loopy for a few hours. For floor #2 we cracked the windows (it was luckily around 25 degrees), taped some cardboard over the intake vent, and put masks on. I let Darin finish the floor both times as the stain was bothering my eyes. One more benefit of wearing contacts I guess? 

After the floor was stained, poly'd and dry, laying down looking up at the finished ceiling and walls was gratifying. We found ourselves trying to perch ourselves where the bed would be so we could imagine what it felt like to actually be sitting in bed. We knew we were getting really really close to being finished! 

Lastly came the trim. We were planning on doing a 1x4 with a corner round on the front, but it morphed it's way into a 1x6, and two parting stops. I liked the idea of having everything a little more geometrical instead of rounded -- nothing in the bedroom was really rounded at all. So the corner rounds just looked funny. And tall trim is what all of the old homes have. So we were on board with it in a heartbeat. It is a fraction of the cost of what normal trim costs -- but it did take a little extra time to do. Worth it!

After we finished filling holes and painting the trim -- we realized we had finished. Whoa. A total weird feeling.


Here's our Bedroom!

I photographed the closet before we put clothes in it, so in order for you to actually see everything, I am posting those empty closet shots instead of the full ones. I used 3/4 inch plywood, 1x12 boards for the cubby shelves, and some underlayment scraps for the backs of the cubbies. If you hadn't guessed, I have the left side, and Darin has the right ;) I decided I didn't want to stain the plywood, or even put a poly on it -- I sanded the heck out of everything and really dig the bare wood look. We'll see how it all holds up. So far so good. 

And that's it! We're FINISHED! Well, 98%. We need to get a handle for the closet door, and finish constructing our bed (which we have centered below the 4 windows). THEN I will be able to pull out the decorations and get things looking real pretty for more photos.

To sum it all up, it was a MUCH faster process than the bathroom, and we are overjoyed with how things have turned out. Working on the house has also helped Darin and I figure out problem solving together to the max, and realize how to come to agreements on design and style wether it be one way, the other way, or totally compromised. It's been truly great so far for the both of us and I couldn't imagine doing this with anyone else. 

What we have been enjoying the most so far is: 

1. Being able to get dressed on a CLEAN floor (no dust on the bottoms of our pant legs!!)

2. Actually having a fully functional closet and being able to SEE our clothes.

And 3. when we lay down to go to bed at night and all the lights have been turned off, we can see the outline of the pine trees right outside the patio door. It's magical <3



Well, you made it to the end! Thank you so much for reading, or just skimming through our photo progress. I can't wait to share our future plans for the kitchen, and other little tid bit projects we run into. 


Until next time! 



Our Andover House Project // Bathroom Before + After


I thought it was about time I finally released our "before", "in progress" and "after" photos of our bathroom. Before I begin let me just say that in order to keep this post from going on forever and EVER I'm not going to explain every little detail. For future posts I think I will break our room to room projects into multiple posts to go more in depth, but since we're already finished with the bathroom I'm just going to skim over what we did. 

That being said, the bathroom took us about 3 months to complete. We could have done it in a shorter time span but . . . Darin and I both work full time jobs, I was photographing weddings, editing and going to meetings at least 2 times per week and almost every Saturday, we had to keep up with the routine summer yard work, the dishes & cleaning, spending time together and with family, and just normal day to day life stuff. It felt like we would never finish . . . but really, we just started out with one of the most complicated and time consuming rooms in the house. 

It was tough, physically, mentally and was a huge learning curve for us in our marriage. But! Now Darin and I both enjoy being able to brush our teeth side by side, actually being able to see ourselves in the mirrors hanging on the wall instead of using a little 6 inch circle mirror for my hair, and for Darin put his contacts in... oooftah, and the best part is that we have learned how to work together in just about every circumstance. Woop woop! 

Here we go! 

So, this is what the bathroom looked like when we bought the place (minus the toilet, we replaced the old one right away because it was super gross!):

Totally adorable I know. Especially that black tile! I mean, who wouldn't want that? Anyways, there was a big ugly cabinet behind the shower that we ripped out prior to these pictures so imagine a huge dark wooden cabinet taking up all that space behind the shower. Deep enough that I could crawl inside and shut the door. Ehm, no. So, we started the demo and ripped just about everything out; the tub, toilet, tiles, cabinet . . .  

After getting the HEAVY porcelain tub out we saw that there was a lot of water damage and mold, so we ripped out chunks of sheetrock here and there and eventually replaced the insulation where it needed it. I gave the heavy box of black tiles to my momma after they ended up coming out in perfect condition. I know she'd come up with something cool to do with them maybe for the boutique. 

After removing all of the moldy sheetrock and replacing the gross  insulation, we started prepping for our first round of knockdown for the ceiling. We leveled out the ceiling removing the drop down section behind the shower which helped open the room up a bit more. Our original plan was to cut the front of the shower wall and have it come down a foot from the ceiling opening the room up even more, but we realized there was a PVC vent for the waterdrain pipe -- having to reroute that required another trip to Menards for supplies and more time. We were already short on time and anxious to get stuff going so we decided to keep the wall and move forward. We both took turns scraping the popcorn off the ceiling (my arms were SO weak when we started on the house!), then Darin patched the sheetrock on and around the ceiling (which he ROCKS at). We also relocated the vent from the middle of the room to above the shower. That took what seemed like FOREVER, but we finally got it. Darin replaced the big holes in the ceiling with sheetrock, then patched again and then finally we got to apply the knockdown! 

Darin did a really nice job for his first time applying knockdown! We love how it turned out. 

Then... we started prepping for the new tub which awaited patiently in it's box in the living room. There was some creaking noises when walking on some of the flooring near the tub so to prevent that in the future we opened up the floor, added some 2x6's to reinforce it, replaced the old subfloor with plywood and installed the tub.

Then came more patching and then the installation of the concrete board for the tiling around the shower. We decided we wanted to do inset box/shelves instead of porcelain shelving sticking out and in our way for our shower supplies. We ended up buying the red and yellow plastic box insets from the Tile Shop so we didn't have to make our own. They were a little spendy, but it saved us a LOT of time by being able to just screw them right in and not have to worry about water leakage later. After getting the boards and the boxes in place Darin patched everything in, and I decided we needed to see the tub in action by turning the water on! It was a proud moment for us!

Then . . . came the LONGEST JOB IN THE WORLD. The subway tile. We had to install EVERY single tile on it's own, placing spacers in between each and every one on every side. It was the most tedious thing in the world. Poor Darin did most of the tile install as I was in the midst of my busy photo season. If I remember correctly the tile from start to finish took us almost a month or a little over. It was probably the most frustrating and time consuming project so far. But now that it's finished we are completely in love with it and wouldn't change what we did. But . . . for the basement bathroom I'm pretty sure we're going to go with 12x24 inch tiles for the shower so it doesn't take as long!! Haha 

Then came the grout which had to be squished in between all of the tiles. That also took a great deal of time and precision!  

But boy, it turned out beautifully. 

Then we started prepping for the pocket door by knocking the whole front bathroom wall out and framing that up, Darin finished sheet rocking behind the cabinet so we could be ready when it arrived, and we cleaned the floor to get ready to install the beautiful white/grey tiles we picked out! 

We carefully laid out the concrete board for the floor, and the tile went in! This was SO exciting for us, we really felt like we were getting somewhere at this point. After realizing that cutting tiles inside was a HUGE mess, we put the tile cutter out on the deck on top of a garbage can. We really need some sawhorses lol. But, it worked super great. We are going to replace the deck boards anyways so it didn't matter how big of a mess we made out there.

Somewhere in there we painted the walls grey and Darin hooked up our shower light/vent too! I'm not going to lie, some evenings we'd stand in the bathroom together and stare at the pretty shower tile and imagined the day we'd be able to use the shower. Before this bathroom was finished, we both used the downstairs toilet and shower, and brushed our teeth in the kitchen sink every morning and night. Yes it was definitely an inconvenience at times, but we were prepared to live a little inconveniently when we bought the place. 

Grouting the floor tile was a breeze compared to the shower -- hello beautiful floor!! 

All sorts of progress started happening after the floor was finished. We put up the new vanity lights, installed all of the shower fixtures, installed the pocket door, and unwrapped our custom vanity cabinets and counter top we ordered from Lowes. 

We got busy securing the cabinets and vanity, hooked up the faucets, I bought a shower curtain and we finally started using the upstairs shower (what a DREAM!), Darin put his final touches on the countertop by caulking the back edge, we screwed the handles into place and then we were able to start using the vanity! 

Then came the trim. 

And our super cool toilet! 

The bathroom was 95% finished for a few weeks while I bought and returned multiple mirrors -- I couldn't find any that fit just right and looked right. I was so frustrated! We were both still using a little 6 inch mirror in the bathroom to get ready with. I finally made up my mind and decided to pull the trigger on an idea I had awhile back: to make them myself. I pulled some trim out of one of the basement bedrooms (conveniently already stained perfectly) and cut them so they would fit above the sinks. I white washed them with white paint and secured them together. Then I took the old bathroom mirror into Ace Hardware off Bunker & Round Lake Blvd and had a guy custom cut them for me. Long story short, they turned out pretty darn amazing.



Which brings me to the finished product! 


I decided my pro camera was in dire need of capturing all of our hard work. After all, I dooo shoot Real Estate 3 to 4 days per week. I don't edit the images I shoot however so it's been a bit of a learning curve for me. Hopefully the photos do justice for how amazing our bathroom is. Enjoy!

ps. don't you love my towel rack!? 

You made it to the end! 

Thank you so much for reading my post! It means the world to Darin and I. I hope you enjoyed it. Since I didn't have the chance to go in depth about everything, feel free to post any questions you have below. I would be more than happy to reply :) 


We started working on our master bedroom about 2 weeks ago and as of right now we are about 2/3 done already! The bathroom was definitely a long and difficult room to complete. But because of that, the bedroom feels like a breeze. More updates to come very soon, I promise! 


Until next time!