Archive for the ‘fab DIY ideas’ Category

Any housing market that has a quickly growing buyer pool without available home inventory makes “flippers” take notice. The decision to buy your own “fixer upper” property rather than purchasing a newly renovated home may not be an easy one.

Recently, my husband and I purchased a circa 1980’s home with many original features (including the kitchen.) We dug right into demolition the first week with only two months left on our current rental property to make the new place somewhat habitable.

The original thought was, do all the messy demo, especially removing popcorn ceilings, odor filled carpet and jack hammering floor tiles before moving in. We felt at least 2-3 rooms would have to have all painting done and flooring in so we had a place to put our furniture while we finished up.

Fortunately, no kids or pets live with us currently, so we thought “we can rough it” and considered ourselves weekend reno warriors! My only stipulation as we tore up ALL the rooms, was to keep one un-touched bathroom. Hot shower everyday, etc was a must!

So now, 10 months in, we are about 80% done and still loving our decision. (More “after” pics in coming posts.)

Here are a few pics so you can get a slight feel of the process we went through in the two months prior to moving into our Austin Fixer Upper (wear a dust mask…)


The “before” kitchen had no island and the walk in pantry door was too narrow for my husband’s shoulders to pass through! Black mold was in the back and under several cabinets.

This pile of rubble was the existing kitchen just 7 days after purchase. As you can see, no cooking blog segments filmed here!

We removed a wall adjacent to the master, so the new kitchen would be larger. Took out all the soffit and put in can lights ourselves. Twelve feet(YES 12) of the back of the house was taken out for a new glass slider. We hired two “handy guys” to help us get the header up and shore up the small door we took out. The frame with two center sliding panels went in easily and then later we had a glass company do the glazing on the two stationery panes.

Moving the front door into a better location and taking out the odd chimney, meant demolition of the fire place as well. The oversized stone really swallowed up the 20×14 livingroom, and we had a more contemporary plan in mind. Demo went smooth with a light weight jack hammer and point tool rented at the local big box.


With structural changes done, we hired a sheet rock pro to put in the sheet rock patches and float and texture our new space except for the living room.

Before moving in, we managed to get the concrete floor ground down ourselves. The folks at Deco Prep in Austin, TX, actually delivered a huge floor grinder to our door as well as a high powered vac to suck up the cement dust. After a day and a half of grinding, our living room and kitchen were ready for a micro layer of new colored cement and a bled out white stain in places.

During this timeframe, the four bedrooms had all popcorn removed (myself and a few friends took on this task.) Our sheetrock pro textured those rooms as well and we painted them with friends. A few days before move in, we hired a flooring pro to float our engineered hardwood (hickory) in the bedrooms and hallway.

We opted to add the trim boards ourselves later as we took out all the dated 80’s trim throughout.

We took on one additional huge project to get the dust out before move in – all parallel in timing to the kitchen and bedroom work. Jack hammering the slab to put pipes in the house for the washer and dryer (originally in the garage) had to be done while the dust was flying.

I was glad I had planned out the space virtually first to get a new master bath layout, closet and laundry within the existing space. The 1980’s 84″ repainted cabinet and shell sinks had to go. They didn’t look bad, but open up the cabinet and smell the musty dampness underneath – ugh – and we needed to reconfigure the master to make the laundry room fit in the house.

Both of these mock plans show places to move the laundry room. But the location in the black and white image would have cost almost double since there was currently no water lines in that corner of the house.

Even with jacking the slab ourselves, the plumbing to move the shower and add washer and dryer was over $3500. Important to keep it close to existing water lines! The master sink and cabinetry was taken out and we built all the framing for a new shower area and toilet area. When plumbers had finished we poured sand and patch concrete on top and finally floated a leveler over the repaired floor areas in the master and laundry.

Fortunately we finished all this in conjunction with doing the livingroom/kitchen cement floor, so we kept going in the laundry area so that floor would be done prior to move in day. I would have a washer and dryer hooked up in the first week we lived in the house!

So with a marginally cleanable floor, and fresh paint in the bedrooms, laundry and kitchen we moved into our Austin fixer upper.

Here is the front of the house as we saw it on moving day….and the plan we had for conversion.

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Love the look of reclaimed wood tables? Try your hand at building your own. Select rough planks from a salvage yard or possibly a nearby old farmstead (check with the owner first!)
Sand off the planks and lay them on a flat surface (like a concrete floor) to see where they join together nicely.

If you own woodworking tools, use a table saw to rip off rough edges on chosen boards. Then run the fresh cut thin edges on a planer. The larger faces of each board can be run through a planer, or left rough for creative interest.

With all boards prepped, mark a line at the 1/3, 1/2 and 2/3 dimension on the top of the reclaimed wood boards. Where these marks hit on each board, use a biscuit joiner to make slits for biscuits to join the boards.
Buscuit joiner

When you are satisfied with the dry fit of the biscuits between the planks, glue up all the seams to make one flat table top. Clamp and let dry over night.

Add hairpin legs underneath and enjoy! (Shopping for hairpin legs? Go to http://hairpinlegs.com)

Enjoy your unique table design!

recailmed wood coffee table

Image source: http://www.etsy.com/listing/104636169/coffee-table-reclaimed-wood-salvaged


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Searching this week on great ways to incorporate an interesting over-the-range tile backsplash idea with stacked stone tile, I came across this interesting article in Houzz.com. A creative DIY project included wine corks in a backsplash.

In my humble opinion, the corks will eventually reduce in size in a dry climate or possibly expand with kitchen steam or humidity. I think the color variation is great though, so may try to recreate with colored tiles instead.

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Interior designers and architects have always considered lighting one of the most important choices in the overall design plan of a home.

Now, with the increasing popularity of makeover and home decor design programing on TV networks, homeowners are considering quite a few lighting options beyond simple ceiling domes or fans. Everything from glass chandeliers to iron chandeliers to more modern chandelier designs are being incorporated into living spaces to provide functional lighting and add style to a room.

Check out how the iron chandelier helps transform this room in the video below.

Considering adding a chandelier to your home? Chandelier showrooms are often pressed for space as they try to display a large selection of these large art-lighting pieces. So online sales of chandeliers have increased dramatically. Mill & Leaf features a nice selection of chandeliers. We particularly loved this display of glass chandeliers by Cyan Design, including the La Scala design.

Things to consider when adding a chandelier to your living space:
  • Placement: Chandeliers are not just for dining areas anymore!
    Try adding them to an entryway, bedroom, sitting area, even a bathroom.
  • Installation: Chandeliers sold online (including this Bella Vetro Purple Chandelier by Cyan Design) are normally disassembled with clear directions as to how to slide in the pieces. If you like DIY projects, you will enjoy the sense of accomplishment that comes from putting it together. If that’s not for you, consider hiring a lighting contractor.

  • Ceiling height: Remember to measure! Unless it’s over a table, you should always have at least 7 feet under the chandelier. If you’ve been eying a chandelier that’s an impressive 4 ft tall, it cannot be hung on an 8 ft ceiling! Tall ceiling areas will need larger pieces or more chain or connecting bars to hang at the correct height. Mini chandeliers work great in the bath or bedroom areas that only have 8 ft ceilings.
We hope you enjoy adding some romance back to your decorating with these tips for how to incorporate chandeliers into your home decor.

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Vintage Typewriter

Retro Typewriter
Image source KasbahMod.com

Feeling overwhelmed by the electronic age?
Want to bring some uniqueness and flair to your home decor?
Mix it up by adding items with a vintage look to your collection!

Vintage-inspired items add a rich history element to your look that is a great balance to newer pieces. Similar to contrasting textures, the old vs. new elements in a room add the designer look of mixing uncommon pieces. Including accents from decades past helps to soften uber-modern decor and pull together furniture of different styles. It also guarantees that your home will be completely unique.

Vintage napkins

Vintage napkins
Image Source: http://www.etsy.com/shop/SimplySuzula

Another great reason to include vintage is that they just don’t make ’em like they used to! Here at Mill and Leaf we’re all about finding the highest quality products. If you’re short on budget, but passionate about the well-made items here’s the secret to a fabulous room: invest in a few key pieces.

Many top designers are creating new furniture designs with distressed finishes that capture the look of a well-loved classic. Here are a few of our favorites from the recent High Point, North Carolina Furniture Market.

Distressed Chest

Gable Distressed Chest

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