New Windows and Trim

In addition to doing the baseboard trim throughout the house since the beginning of the year, I’ve started working on the windows.

After years of considering the options I purchased 3 new windows from Home Depot to fit the opening. Each window is 48″ tall, 60″ wide and were $168/each (listing here).

There was a bit of drama getting them home but thanks to Jan and a borrowed truck I got them in the garage:

I hired a guy to help demo the old windows and screw in the new ones. I took us about 4 hours total.

Here’s the original window and frame in the living room (adjacent to the front door). The lovely green trim was in good shape but I wanted a different style.

After demoing the window frame, pulling out the panes and pulling out the metal frame:

You can see in the picture above that there’s a bunch of gunk at the top (under the trim) where the bugs and debris burrowed down the panel gaps. Here’s another look at the panels surrounding the guest room window:

Speaking of paneling, the old gutters on the side yard had long ago rusted through and damaged the siding here:

This is under the office window and you can see the AT&T line goes into the room here. So we also took off the siding and replaced it.

The drywall and framing was in good shape so it was pretty simple to nail in the replacement T1-11 in two pieces and then caulk all the edging.

All done:

The frames were simple, each includes four 2×4 lengths with mitered corners. Here’s how the living room window looks after adding the trim, caulk and outdoor paint:

After priming the new piece of paneling on the side yard I found a few other places where the wood was unpainted so I’ve been touching it up here and there as I go. There were some older cords still nailed up around the house that were disconnected so I’ve been pulling them down and dealing with random nails, hooks, screws and such on the siding.

Next up are the 3 windows in the kitchen! Only about $400 to purchase plus the cost of caulk, wood trim and nails.


Trim it out

The trim project is well underway and I thought I’d give an update on how it’s going since it’s taking up the whole month. So far the quarter round has been installed in the living room, dining area, hallway, hall closet, office and master bedroom.

I started painting in the master bedroom and then worked my way back down the hallway to the living room before moving on to the office.

Since I’m working around the edges painting takes a bit of planning and time since I have to move a lot of stuff out of the way.

The order is typically to go along the baseboards with a nail setter and hammer to push in any of the nails that were still sticking out, then gather paper towels, a caulking gun and water to fill in the gaps. This is the most messy step but a bit of water cleans up any misplaced caulk.


While the caulk is drying (a couple hours), I try to get the blue painter’s tape down on the floor to protect it. This allows me to go much faster when I’m painting.

Then I brush on the first coat of paint and yes, I usually need two. Since I don’t want the paint to pool along the floor or stick the tape to the baseboards I’ll load up the brush and put most of the paint at the junction of the quarter round and baseboard – then brush it down to the blue painter’s tape at floor level.


I’ve found that the baseboards are pretty beat up after being pulled and reinstalled when I did the floors so I’m usually filling nail holes in the baseboards and painting them. The hallway baseboards were especially dingy, not just dirty but with a lot of marks and dings.


Working in the office I found damage to the drywall in one corner due to a leak we repaired a few years ago. The final room that needs quarter round is the guest room but first comes finishing the office and getting that furniture back in. Once I’m 100% done with all this trim I am really looking forward to rolling out those new rugs!

Tools I’m using (click on photo to see sources):

Nail set kit


Ryobi Airstrike Nail gun and 18 gauge nails


White latex paintable caulk


quarter round trim such as this type (though I buy it by the foot).


A Productive Fortnight – 12 good things

It’s always really amusing to me how much we think we’re “so busy” and then, when it comes to writing it all down, it just sounds pathetic. I’m pretty sure this is because we ignore all the sub-tasks for a project. For example, if I told you I added quarter round trim in my master bedroom closet it sounds a little woopie-de-doo. But if I talked about moving out the dog kennels, 16 boxes in the corner, going through all my hanging clothes and pulling out things for donation/consignment, vacuuming the floor, nailing in the baseboards again (they were too high), measuring 7 lengths of quarter round (16 cuts total), nailing it all in, crawling around on my hands and knees with the caulking gun, taping off the floor and painting it all white THEN it sounds a little bit more productive.

Often we ignore all the little tasks and then don’t do the big ones because it feels too massive to start. Here are 12 things I’ve accomplished since Jan 1st.

1. The gutters I took down in summer 2015 have been in the side yard leaning against the fence right outside my office window. Not hurting anything but I see them every day I’m working and wow they are ugly! So on Friday I moved them to the front yard. I just dumped them, unceremoniously on the grass and went about my afternoon.

Today, Saturday, I used the metal shears to cut the longest piece into 2 smaller pieces, wrapped the end in a blanket so I wouldn’t get shanked in the eye, loaded them in my car and took them to the dump. Free to drop off at the scrap metal area. Something that’s been hanging around for 18 months is gone and it only took 30 minutes but I had to do that first step of moving them out.

While we’re not quite halfway into January, I am really happy about how much I’ve been able to accomplish personally and around the house. I updated my 2017 personal goals here and I’m already making progress.

2. I set a goal to read a book a week, 2 are already done.

3. I set the goal to workout 3x a week (minimum) with my trainer, 6 sessions are complete.

4. After a fender bender in December the Yaris is going into the shop for bodywork. I’ve cleaned most everything out and will be restocking the trunk with my emergency supplies when it returns. As soon as I get it back it goes to the dealer for a recall on the airbags. I’ve also got a new air filter to replace and 4 new hubcaps since mine are cracked and falling apart.

5. I started the quarter round trim the first week of January, adding 5 pieces of baseboard to the living room, replacing 1 piece in the hall closet + 1 more so far in the guest room. As of today the hallway, hall closet, living room, dining room and master bedroom are complete and I’ve started caulk and tape in the master bedroom closet. By my count that’s 41 lengths of quarter round so far done and another 13 in the guest room and 13 in the office.

6. The final in-house light was added this week with a can light above the guest bathtub. It’s pretty small but makes a big difference in lighting in this darker corner of the bathroom. There are drawbacks to having no windows in these rooms!


7. Outside – With a break in the rain I’ve caught up on a few of the outdoor chores, namely dumping buckets of water so I don’t end up living in mosquito heaven this spring. I mowed the front lawn which is coming back with a vengeance with all this rain and already mentioned taking in the gutters to the dump. Since it’s January I’m now cutting back the rose bushes and want to pull out most of the bougainvillea which has grown too wild in the side yard and is a constant mess. The dirt from the front yard where we took out a tree still needs to be evened out, when it’s dry enough I’ll keep shoveling that into the backyard and flower beds.

8. Christmas decor is all packed up again and I found a number of items I could donate. Additionally, I put all the ornaments in smaller bankers boxes so they fit easily at the top of my master bedroom closet. This freed up a lot of room in the garage.

9. I’d picked up a bottle of wine for a friend from college who got married last year and got that sent off in the mail last week.

10. Another little win is replacing the light bulbs in the fixture in the living room. They don’t screw in and are tricky to yank out so I got that done since 2 of the 4 had burnt out. It makes a big difference in the light situation, especially during storms, and it’s hard to believe there was no overhead light here when I bought the place.

11. I found amazing deals on 2 new rugs and they were delivered last week. Until the trim is done I’m keeping them in plastic but once I finish painting trim I’ll be rolling them out in the living room and office.

12. Finally, I’ve started working with a charity that I support here in town to sew burp rags (shared some of them here) throughout the year. That required pulling out the stash of fabric I already had, matching it up, purchasing new fabric to match and then 18 new yards of fabric to get the number that I agreed to create. All the fabric is in a big bin in the living room and once I get started on trim in the guest room I’ll pull the sewing machine out. While I would love to get started, this really is a perfect rainy day project so I’m focusing on the outdoor stuff while the weather is nice and then will switch back to sewing when the rain comes back.


First home project of 2017

While I’m still finalizing a master 2017 plan, I knew what my first project of the new year would be and began to work on it right after new years. Since it’s been raining non-stop I had to improvise my workspace and moved the miter saw into the guest bathroom in an effort to control the dust.

I started in the hallway:


As you can see it’s lined with the Lynas runners from Ikea which are ideal because they are low to the ground and don’t cause you to trip, are cheap and clean up easily.

After picking up a ton of quarter round at Home Depot it was time to start fitting, even around that odd corner where the entryway curves in.

Note: when you’re on your hands and knees with trim and a pencil you will notice how dirty the walls are (thanks dogs!) and you will be tempted to stop everything and clean every vertical surface of your house. Resist. Install trim first, then commence with the scrub down.


I wanted to wait to finish the baseboards and then trim until I finished the built-in so the baseboards could wrap around the whole unit.


After installing the laminate floors throughout the house in 2015, I knew I would need to work on the trim more. After leaving gaps for the floors to expand/contract due to weather I kept having dirt and dog hair fall in the gaps and it was driving me nuts.

The process is pretty simple, just line up the trim, mark the end where it should be cut, VACUUM THE SHIT OUT OF THE FLOOR, cut the trim, install with a nail trimmer. The most time consuming part is cleaning at the baseboard, I swear.

Once it’s all installed you can return with caulk for the nail holes and joint and then paint to match the baseboard. I’ve already finished in the hallway, living room, dining room and started on the master bedroom.

8 hours starting… NOW

I was up early this first Saturday in 2017 to take Wilson to the vet. It’s raining pretty steadily so not the most fun way to spend my 7:30am but he’s good for the next year and was able to warm up in the car thanks to a nest of blankets.


I take the car in for repairs in 9 days + the house is a bit of a mess so I decided to make this an 8 hour get-shit-done, finally clean the house, finish trim, be productive and go to bed exhausted work day.

It’s almost 10am (don’t ask what I did from 8am-now, I think I was in a stupor) which means I can work through to 8pm, factoring in 2 breaks for lunch and dinner.

Once an hour or so I’ll pop back in and share what I’ve been up to. For reference, during the week I managed to get the quarter round trim installed down the hall and in 2 sections in the living room, leaving me with 8 more sections to finish the living room. Currently Jackson is sitting on his bed in the middle of the living room while the dachshunds are making a big nest on my bed to stay warm.

First up: some basic cleaning because before I add more chaos I better start with a clean slate.

10:35am – I’ve mostly focused on the kitchen for this first little burst, filling the sink with water to soak the dishes and filling up the dishwasher. I cleaned up the spice cabinet, put some food in new containers, took canned goods and extra jars out to the garage, hung up the dog leash, put away food, put out the recycling, moved the toilet paper in from the garage, put away new pillows, cleaned out and put away my purses, cleared off the kitchen table and started washing the bigger pots and pans.



and after:


Not too bad for 30 minutes!

The other side of the living room is still pretty bad:


Yes, I am watching Star Wars while I work.

11:30am – I stopped for a bit of lunch before continuing to work and found a sticky stain on my table so I cleaned that up as well. Started putting away the toilet paper in 2 bathrooms, installed 1 piece of baseboard (which is gonna need a lot of caulk!), washed a couple more pans and started a pot of water, apples, orange rinds, cinnamon sticks and cloves on the stove to make the house smell good. That’s on a simmer now and I also need to roast some veggies in the oven. Thankfully all of these things will also keep the house warm and toasty while it’s raining outside.

2:15pm – well it’s been a little slow as I catch up on emails but I also installed the trim around the living room. I just need one more bigger piece of baseboard to finish up!

(Okay, while I was working here I also had to rest for awhile after feeling like crap. Just about ready to finish the quarter round in the living room and ran out of baseboards! After a quick trip to Home Depot I’m back in business and finishing up)

By 8pm Saturday a lot was done! The living room baseboards and trim were installed and furniture all moved back into place and I set up the saw in here for future cuts. The table has been mostly cleared off and I started sorting through papers from the office I need to organize and file.

It’s challenging to keep the floors clean with the dogs in and out and constant rain but the runners are catching a lot of it. Next week it’s the trim in the bedrooms!

2016 Master Plan – Final Update

This post has been in draft mode for months now because I knew I would want to post an update on what’s been done around the house in 2016. While I hoped to get it out in December it’s a few days late.

In the kitchen most things are done with the exception of those counter tops.

  • Fix the faucet or replace it with one that has more clearance
  • Get the counter tops re-sealed
  • Add trim around the cabinet base
  • Line the curtains with a solid white fabric NEW
  • Fix the curtain hangers so they don’t fall off the wire

Dream goal:

  • Replace the stove/oven

FullSizeRender 7

The dining room saw the most changes this year with help of an electrician. I’m tackling the bookshelf in January

  • frame out the door to the garage and paint
  • reconfigure the garage light switch
  • Install new outlet and move existing outlet
  • Install built in dinette and bookshelf
    • build a built in bench 6′ long
    • create a countertop along the back
    • build a bookshelf 8′ tall across 6′
    • add lighting
    • trim and paint the entire contraption
  • Reinstall baseboards
  • Paint base of bench and add cross supports

In the living room  there wasn’t much on the goal list. I really wanted to buy a big leather stuffed chair and as soon as I went to order it the item was discontinued. Womp-womp.

  • Add 2 new feet to the couch (in the middle) stained to match the others
  • Re-finish the dresser (possibly paint)
  • Replace green arm chairs

The guest bath had a lot of progress early in the year and I’ve scheduled the electrician for January for the light.

  • Skim coat the walls
  • Paint the walls blue
  • Install a can light in the shower
  • Trim out the door
  • Sand and re-paint the tall cabinet
  • finish replacing floor tiles
  • remove the baseboards
  • install new baseboards, bead board & chair rail
  • paint the trim



Dream goal:

  • take down the shower surround and re-tile it with subway tile
  • upgrade the faucet in the bathtub

In the office the paperwork is mostly organized and now I just need to finish scanning and shredding things I don’t need to keep. Looking to do the windows this spring as well.

  • finish trimming out the door and paint the frame
  • trim out the window with a new frame and sill
  • replace the window
  • organize all of the papers, boxes and binders 

The guest room has been moving along slowly and I’ve had a good amount of fabric used up in projects this year.

  • finish trimming out the door
  • find a runner/small rug for the guest room
  • recover the desk bench with a new fabric
  • paint the foot chest in the guest room NEW
  • create a pad and cover for the foot chest
  • add feet to the window bench to raise it up (used a different bench in here)
  • work on fabric projects to use up material – HALFWAY DONE

My master bedroom received a whole new bed set up and mattress but I’m still eyeing that sliding glass door.

  • finish the trim on the door (hallway side) and paint
  • find a solution for the bed frame to raise it up 12-24″ higher
  • make a headboard
  • buy a new frame for picture above dresser NEW

Dream goal:

  • replace the sliding glass door with a single french door to the backyard

The master bathroom still has the dream goal:

  • re-do the shower
    • take out the shower surround
    • replace the floor pan
    • tile the walls with subway tile
  • recycle the door and install a shower curtain

The backyard stalled after the guy I hired to help stopped showing up and I got tired of people on Craigslist being less than responsive. It’s definitely on the new list for 2017.

  • take out the corner patio and save the bricks
  • take out the raised garden bed under the guest room window
  • take out the back door patio and walkway to the side yard
  • build a new patio outside the back door with access to the side yard
  • install a water barrel on the gutter downspout
  • take out 2 dead rose bushes
  • make minor fence repairs
  • reseed the lawn

The side yard doesn’t have much to do but those gutters really need to be recycled!

  • build a trellis around the bougainvillea to support it growing up and over the raised garden beds
  • keep the lantana from taking over
  • make space for the lawn mower and garden tools (protect from the elements)
  • Take the old gutters in for recycling NEW

The front yard got a lot of work done in the Fall which made me happy

  • haul away the rest of the wood from the maple tree
  • grind down the 2 tree stumps and take out prominent roots
  • remove the palm tree 
  • take out 2 orange rose bushes
  • get rid of the bricks around the old tree and level that flower bed
    • replant the lily growing in that box
  • build a fence out to the front of the property
    • add a gate to the end of the fence
  • fix the walkway up to the house
  • take down the patio cover over the front door
  • replace the gutters along the side and front of the house
  • install new downspouts to divert water
    • add water barrels
  • plant a tree in the front yard

And I made a lot of progress in the garage

  • install new can lights throughout the garage
  • paint the floor when the temps are within range
  • finish trimming the window, caulk and paint it
  • reconfigure the wood cabinets
  • get the holiday storage bins up on the walls – reduced them instead
  • build a new box for the water heater

Dream goal:

  • add a water softener for the house

Then I have a couple of whole house changes:

  • Add quarter round to all baseboards, re-caulk and paint all trim
  • Install and secure floor transitions for laminate flooring 
  • Choose color and paint the exterior of the house

Dream goal:

  • install crown molding in every room
  • replace ALL windows with new, more efficient models and trim them out


My newest project

It’s been well over a year of planning but finally, finally I got out the power tools and got to work on my most ambitious goal yet!

I started by having the electrician come and move an outlet + add another one high up on the wall. He also took the switch for the garage light and moved it to the garage wall. Here we are cutting holes in the wall:



And all done:


I picked up 2x4s at Home Depot and began cutting them to form the base:


As you can see it’s not just a box, there’s a cross support that’s 12″ from the wall (intentionally).

Then I created an identical box and measured vertical supports.


Here it is all screwed together using kreg jig holes:


If I were just building a bench this is where I would finish but my bench/banquette will also have a back and top. Here it is with the top attached:


With the frame done I’ll need something to cover it up – I decided on 1/2″ MDF for the sides, front and back, 1/2″ plywood for the seat and a 1″x12′ board for the top. With the exception of the top everything would get painted white.

I took the board outside and first hit it with a wood conditioner, then 2 coats of Jacobean, and finally 2 coats of Poly.


Now it was time to cut the MDF which came in a sheet 4’x8′ and was a BEAR to maneuver and cut. I mean, cutting it with my jigsaw was easy enough but stabilizing it was a pain.

I started by adding the front:


Then the side:


And then sidetracked to work on the bench seat. I wanted the bench to lift up for storage so I cut the Plywood to fit around the supports:


Then a cut where the bench seat would hinge – making sure I had enough clearance for the MDF for the back.



Before attaching the bench I attached a piece of trim on 3 edges to make it easier to paint. The trim was a little bigger than the plywood so once it was ironed on I trimmed off the excess with an exacto knife. Gave everything a quick sand and then it was ready to install.

I primed the bench seat on both sides and then attached a 30″ long piano hinge on both seats:


With the top in place I was able to trim the pieces for the back and the final piece on the side. It got nailed in and then caulked around the edges before a coat of primer.

Finally, I needed to cover the gap in the back pieces – due to a messed up cut on the first piece of MDF I intended for this to be one piece but hey, it’s 2! This 1″ piece of white trim got a layer of liquid nails on the back and then was taped and clamped into place.


Finally, the top piece was attached with a couple of 1-1/2″ nails.

So… all done, right?

Not yet, to finish it off and look seamless throughout the living room I added baseboards around the bottom and the everything got a nice coat of white glossy paint. Here you can see the primer coat on the left, first coat of white on the right.


It was still pretty streaky so the last coat went on with a foam roller to smooth things out. Here we are with the table and freestanding bench:


and after the final touch ups:


It’s hard to tell but there’s actually a 3″ foam piece on the bench right now which I’ll be trimming down and covering in fabric. But even that’s not “done” since I have big plans for the TOP of this bench/banquette built in to execute, just as soon as I’m ready to emotionally survive a living room full of sawdust again.