Basement Renovation: The Bathroom!



We started renovating our basement suite at the beginning of 2016 and finished halfway through June. What an undertaking! The long and short of it…we learned a lot! My husband does this for a living, but never before on his own house, with his wife as the client(!!). Regardless of the stresses and craziness of the project (plus scope and budget creep lunge), we are thrilled with how it all turned out! We now have wonderful tenants and full confidence that our basement will look and function well for a long time to come. It feels good to know my entire house is clean and safe, whereas before it felt a little like we had a dungeon :D

I decided to share this thing room by room so that it’s not completely overwhelming. We’ll begin with the bathroom, because the kitchen is a harder post to put together ha!

The bathroom, it turns out, had been renovated a few times—we found a tiled shower floor under the bathtub and leftover carpet padding under the Lino. Yup, it was at one point a carpeted bathroom! But even though it is hard to imagine, those were its better days…now we had rotting corners, peeling paint, yellow tub…all of it.





EW, am I right?

We completely stripped the whole room, including the strange drop ceilings and pointless valance, and angled a wall to give it a tiny bit more space. Then we put in allll new stuff, thankfully scoring some fabulous deals in the process! The only thing we bought at full price was the vanity, as a last-minute purchase when we realized the craigslist vanity we had picked up was just too big for the space (oops). The light I found at the ReStore, the beautiful floor tiles at a discount tile place, the mirror at our local outlet Sears, the tub enclosure was a tiny bit damaged which made it 90% off…and ok fine, I also paid full price for the bathroom accessories :D.

We hired out plumbing, electrical, and mudding/taping, but did the rest ourselves. If you’ve never renovated extensively, that might sound like we hired out most of the work…but TRUST ME, we did a LOT. My dad did the tiling in the bathroom, Dwayne did all the drywalling (and in this small but still creatively shaped room that was a lot of work), and my mom and I did the painting & trim. I had never realized how much of our time would be spent cleaning up either – multiple days and evenings were simply spent carting out junk (wood, lino, nails, drywall, wrappers, tenant trash, etc…) and dumping it in the bin. Oh, did I mention that the day we agreed to expedite this whole renovation so that our friends could move in a month and a half later was the day before I found out I was pregnant? So the bulk of this work on my part was done out of breath and slightly nauseous! But my husband is my hero, he did SO MUCH WORK, and we had priceless help from our parents getting this thing finished up.

Here is the bathroom AFTER, almost complete except that one vent cover in the ceiling :D. (Since our tenants moved in before we were 100% done the whole suite, some of my “after” pictures are not actually completely done).





Thrifty Christmas! Festive DIY Pillow Cases

I know its late. But in the rush of Christmas I couldn’t get around to sharing, and lets be honest – we were all too busy to be crafting anyways. So think of this as being REALLY EARLY for next year. With the holidays fresh in our minds!

One of the ways I decorated for my thrifty Christmas this year was by not getting a tree – but that was motivated by laziness more than thriftyness, and the fact that we wouldn’t be home for a week over the holidays. My favourite way I decorated for my thrifty Christmas this year was with my holiday pillow cases!

I’ve had these 16×16 pillows for a while now, I picked them up (unused! what a find!) once at a garage sale. I made the cream cases shortly after we got married, and was thrilled with how cute they turned out and how easy it was to clean them. This year I took advantage of another benefit – swapping them for seasonal goodness!

I picked up my christmassy fleece for about $10, along with some more cute wooden buttons. In retrospect, I think the pattern is too small for the size of the pillow, but they still made our couches ooh so cozy and festive.

If you’re up for the challenge…here are some quick directions, without words! If you can follow them, you’ll prove just how easy it is to make some swappable pillow cases. Don’t forget to work with your pattern if you have one!

Dresser Refinishing!

I won’t deny it, refinishing furniture is therapeutic for me. You take something dingy and dumpy and give it a new lease on life. AND if you keep it, you add a little bit more of yourself into your home. I resent my big brand store-bought pieces some times, because they’re so lacking in personality! Cheap, sure, but I can’t wait until they break and I can replace them with something OLD. Crazy.

I picked up this one for $25 at Value Villiage a while back. I haven’t quite found the right place for it in my house, but it looks cute none-the-less.

I gave it a light sanding, then painted it with white Behr paint/primer interior. Even though it was white on cream, it took 5 or 6 coats to get a solid cover. I picked up some sweet old pulls from the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for .50 each, and gave them a coat of black spray paint (they were a bronze/gold). Since both paints I used were left over from other projects, I didn’t have to spend anything else, so that totals this project at $27! Including a few hours of painting fun :D.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure if the paint without a clear coat would stand up to much abuse. I’ve never used a clear coat because I don’t abuse my pieces much, but I think the risk of painting is chipping, and a clear coat might be necessary if you’ve got kids around. (EDIT: because I was thinking about it, I looked it up. Here is a great set of answers for these clear coating questions:

Little Blue Table – furniture makeover

a few weeks a go I joined a friend in her search for the perfect dresser project. She snagged a winner, and while the salesmen helped her finalize the purchase I wandered by this little side table. At $9 and small enough to carry by myself, I just couldn’t pass it up! Those horizontal lines had that bit of interest without being dated or overly intricate.

I put in another $20 for paint (lots left-anyone need blue?) and $4.50 for a new bit of hardware, and I’m so happy with my colour gamble! I haven’t tried coloured paint on a piece of furniture before, but I love how it fits into my house. I asked for input when I was trying to decide what to do with it, and I got a lot of suggestions for an antiqued or worn in look. But I decided that while that would look amazing, it wouldn’t fit what we’ve got going on in our home. I love how it came out – cute, with some attitude! love it. What do you think?

 I used Behr Paint & Primer for this piece. I’ve used it before on a white dresser, and I love how easy it makes everything! Since it primes, it sticks really well, so its awesome for really cheap pieces with thin veneer. I did a very light sanding (probably didn’t actually do anything…) and then put on 3 coats. To get in the grooves on the drawer I had to use one of my tiny acrylic fine-art brushes, but it wasn’t too much work (especially compared to my first project). I learned something new this time: I put the first coat on outside on my porch, my usual work space, but it was so wet outside that the moisture in the air made it impossible to dry! I brought it inside into the spare room, and did the subsequent coats inside, with the windows open. The paint doesn’t smell too bad so it worked well.

Re-Tree (my easy refurbishing project!)

Yesterday I underwent my easiest (and quickest) refurbishing project yet. This little christmas tree! I’ve had this little guy since elementary school, when I made it as a craft at a birthday party (sup Shena!). We glued buttons on and tied little bits of fabric around the branches. The result was cute and endearing, but rather country-crafty, a look I’m not super fond of anymore. So last night I decided to pull it all of and see where I ended up! I originally intended to re-decorate the tree, but honestly…once it was relieved of its tattered decor it just … worked. I added the star ornament on top, and LOVE my new holiday decoration!

The lesson here? Don’t write off those old decorations completely… maybe there’s something left there after all!

Refurbishing adventure number 2! Little white dresser.

A few months ago I was given an old dresser by my coworker. It was an honour to take it, in sad circumstances, and get to refinish something with a long history. The back panel of the dresser says “Dec 72” and the wear and tear showed its age! The first challenge, once we got it home, was realizing that it was suuuper cheap. No solid wood here! It had a thin cheap venir that was bubbling in places, and handles that weren’t solid metal and were bent and dented. But I wasn’t ready to give up. It still had good bones! After realizing that sanding wasn’t going to be a good idea, since we’d be down to the particle board in seconds, I decided that our only option was to paint it. We hit up home depot and picked up an interior oil based “paint and primer in one” for $25 bucks, along with a little foam roller that we can use for future projects.

Then, it was a simple matter of painting. I made sure to wipe it down first, since I did some sanding on the top to try and get rid of the bubbling (didn’t really work). It took about 4 coats, and I just kept going until It was really solidly covered. The nice thing about using the oil based paint was it really built up the surface of the dresser, and I think it will extend its lifetime. (SO much easier than the last dresser project: sanding the entire thing and then staining…yikes!)

Since I’d decided at the beginning that this dresser was NOT going to be a money pit, we decided to check out the Habitat for Humanity Re-Store for handles. We had looked at Home Depot and decided that $6 bucks a handle was just more than we wanted to spend. Lucky for us, they had some awesome options at exactly the right size! I decided on these brushed chrome and light wood handles that have an almost beachy feel. We discussed painting or staining the wood, but decided the light look was more versatile and softer. Plus, the only cost $2 bucks each.

The last piece of the puzzle was legs for the dresser! It used to have some, but they had been discarded somewhere along the way. If we left it straight on the floor, we wouldn’t be able to open the bottom drawer. This is where family connections prove their value again: I jokingly said “hey Dad! got any dresser legs sitting around in the garage?” and he said “yeah, why?” Turns out, they were perfect. They’re cute and chunky and stained the same as the handles! Dwayne had to trim them down and then we screwed them on.

I think it looks awesome. And the best part? Dwayne filled it with his clothes, and now I get the whole closet shelf. WIN!!

So here’s the final product! (notice Basil the cat got herself in there again?)