Painting Stairs…So Romantic!

Eric can’t stand painting…He’ll gladly clean all the windows, spend hours working in the yard, and disinfect toilets before you see a paint brush in his hand.

Which is why I nearly fell over when he offered to paint this:

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And these:

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How about those faux brick steps eh? Stylish right? (Let’s Pinterest those babies!) There were about 6 different colors painted on our granny suite stairs from the previous owner…Blue, black, white, brown, gray, and of course faux brick red.

I was ready to tackle this ugliness, (hubby gone on a guys trip), my paint matched up and ready to go when disaster struck…Sidelined by a stomach bug.

That’s when hubs came home and went to work.

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He even managed to snap a few pics with my phone along the way (I welcomed him to the “official blogging club” and asked him when he’ll write his first post) ;-) For now he’s holding out. Naturally a shy guy, he likes to think of himself as the Little Houses Big Dogs “support staff”

Two coats of custom match Exterior Glidden paint, one afternoon and we have these beautiful new stairs!

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It is amazing what paint can do! We hope in the future to extend the stair landing out and build a mini deck for (ahem… Best snobby voice) “ our guest house” but honestly we’re not fancy enough to ever call it that ;-) What kind of painting do you or your “anti-painting” spouse have this weekend? Happy Sunday everyone!

Ikea Hack: Hallo Cushions To Foldable Dog Bed

“Hey mom! The blog is Little Houses BIG DOGS…Where’s the dog projects!

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We took a break from home projects this weekend to reconnect, spring clean, and play with the pups. Luckily we did have a doggy inspired project up our sleeves.

During spring cleaning we found four Ikea Hallo outdoor seat cushions. (Originally they were meant for an outdoor dining set we never bought a year ago, and now just stored as miscellaneous cushions) Hubby was ready to take them to the Goodwill as a donation when I realized they could serve a “puppy” purpose.

The dogs aren’t allowed on our couch, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be comfortable when we all hang out in the living room. However we have two big dogs and lack space so a standard dog bed was not going to work. Hence out came the sewing “Tupperware” (I do not sew). Then over a (much needed) glass of wine attempted to hand stitch cushions together.

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I basically squished the cushions together and thread the needle thorough one then back through the other (sorry I’m sure there is some technical sewing lingo, but I don’t know it) Once I had two separate sets of two cushions I stitched the two sets together lengthwise.

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The stitch lengthwise actually acts like a hinge and allows the cushions to be folded in half.

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But the best part is that when the cushions lay flat, the dog bed slides right under the couch when not in use.

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Overall the dogs seem to love their new bed and not bad for a project that just cost me a few hours and $0. We hope this inspires you to create for your small space. Happy Sunday everyone!

20140405-222635.jpg (The dogs are already looking sleepy on their new bed)

Mini Make-over: Kitchen Light Box

Our kitchen is in the process of some big changes…But right now it’s still in a very awkward phase. Like “prom was a month too early before the braces came off” kind of phase.

20140329-205103.jpg The 80s light box fixture does not help. In the future, we intend to have the kitchen/dining room ceilings professionally textured like the rest of the house. (We may even consider a skylight.) However because of our previous ceiling experience we know this may come at a high price tag. Which means the light box is here to stay…At least for now…

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Therefore it needed a mini (very low cost) make over. Like the kind that cost only $12 plus tax. First we decided to add some detail around the top edge of the fixture in order to pseudo-match the trim of the cabinets.

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20140329-212716.jpg A few finishing nails, foam trim and some caulk and we had faux crown moulding.
Next step was to soften the lighting to match the original 1948 fixtures. Instead of buying all new plastic inserts for $9 per sheet, (for a project we plan to rip out at some point) we opted for using glass etching spray.

20140329-213137.jpg We sprayed about three coats on the smooth side of each piece to reduce the harsh “ice” texture.

Lastly we painted the wood with white primer to give the light a better surface to reflect off of.

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Overall quite a lighting difference for a few dollars and very little diy. We of course plan to paint the box the same color as the ceiling once the final colors are decided, but for now the kitchen is less cave-like. Thanks everyone for hanging in there, through all our awkward stages of diy renovation. Us and the dogs promise our little 1948 ugly duckling will be a beautiful swan someday soon. Happy Sunday everyone!

Spring Has Sprung…Let’s Set Them Free!

We actually had a question come our way…“Did your technique for protecting those tropical plants from frost work?”

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We decided this would be a great time to put the paint brushes down, celebrate spring, and also our plants survived the winter!

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In case you weren’t here for our how-to, we tried a technique that used burlap and wooden stakes. We then stapled the burlap to the stakes, essentially creating a burlap wrap for each potted plant. Then we dumped dried, fallen leaves around the base of each plant. The technique was budget friendly, super easy and honestly…We thought it would never work. (It was a cold and very dry winter; not the best conditions for tropical plants)

Now we’re hooked! The plants made it through! Overall there were a few frost bitten leaves that were exposed to the elements (outer leaves not fully protected)

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Yet the plants are already recovering and new growth replacing the old. We’re not sure how well this technique would work in colder climates, but we dipped into the low 30s-high 20s at times. The only downside was having to sweep and dump leaves away in the spring, but worth it for saving our tropical plants from frost.

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We hope you are enjoying the first days of spring, and are so excited to unveil some projects in the coming weeks! Happy Sunday everyone!

Mustard Yellow Walls…And the Best Dog Toy EVER!

Oh yes, I said mustard yellow walls! Combine those with red brick, lime green/orange accents, popcorn ceilings, tye dyed yellow brown countertops…Nice visual right? Luckily we saw through the ugliness and bought this little gem of a house. Now we’re going through the slow and tedious process of bringing it back to a neutral color scheme.

Back to mustard yellow walls…Here…

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Up above here…

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Oh and also in the laundry/mud room…But since it’s laundry weekend no pics today (I think hubby draws the line at the world seeing his boxer briefs) ;-)
Now we’re in the process of priming and ousting the yellow…(I like mustard on my veggie burger, not on my walls!) Also check out this wall texture…

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It took us three coats of primer just to cover up our “French’s” yellow and spray on texture, but entirely worth it in the end…

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We haven’t chosen the final paint colors yet, because we still need to make over our box light. Learning from our fireplace experience, lighting is crucial in selecting the right paint color for your space. Yet for now we’re just happy so see the yellow gone. (Sooo happy!)
In the meantime the dogs have been amazingly well behaved despite our marathon painting weekends. The reason? We have these toys to thank for it…

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Nature’s Champions training treats and treat ball combo pack. (We found this at our local Costco) This is not a sponsored post, we just L-O-V-E these toys! Why? Because they’re:
1. Budget friendly (meaning you can replace the training treats with regular dog kibble)
2. Keeps the pups occupado, (especially when you have many walls to paint)
3. Mentally challenges our dogs (which is important if you have super smart dobermans) .
4. Lastly these balls are pretty tough (And with these two bruisers we need tough toys)

Basically you fill the balls up with the training treats or kibble, and the dogs have to roll them around to release the treats. Us and our pups are smitten…Sierra even sleeps with her “busy ball” and Sutter carries it around in his mouth like a pacifier.

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For $13 each these are the best, budget friendly dog toy for us year to date. We hope this little review helps a few desperate pup parents out there. Happy Sunday everyone!

“Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post, but a personalized experience. Dogs and their owners are different, therefore all results and experiences using the Natures Champions Omega training ball will vary. Always follow the manufacturers instructions, cautions and disclaimers.”

Ceiling Fan Re-deux

Here’s to the easiest DIY improvement year to date! Any homeowner or renter has encountered ugly ceiling fans at some point. Many replace them, others paint them, and then a few of us disguise them. Hands down disguising is the easiest and cheapest technique. Here’s a shot of the infamous 1980s, “mosquito fan” in the kitchen/dining room:

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It also doesn’t help with the ugliness, that this is the only room in the house with remnants of popcorn ceiling (albeit shaved off and painted). We also have a love-hate relationship with the original midcentury, tweed half- drapes (behind the fan) but that’s another story for another time.

However the fan is a high quality, Casablanca. Quiet, multiple speeds and fabulous light. Not bad for an 80′s throwback? Yet the fan needed an update. During our two weekends of marathon painting I finally grew tired of looking at it. Grabbing a drum shade from another light in the house and extra extenders I gave it the ol’ college try.

We used the same technique as our last, except we were able to use a smaller extender.

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Yet altered our technique by adding a large washer between the shade and connectors in order to stabilize the shade. We also did not add extra chain and threaded the main chain through the middle of the shade. This allowed for a cleaner look.

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Lights on!

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Such an improvement! It’s almost pretty!
We actually are warming up to the cream colored fan blades and hint of gold brass. Originally we had the notion to paint the whole thing oil rubbed bronze, but the dark color would’ve drawn the eye towards ugly ceilings.
Also brass is starting to make a come back, and the fan ties in well to our mid century gold knobs in our built ins.

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Now the light is complementary and blends well with the room.

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Slow and steady seems to be our slogan these days. I’m sure you’ve all been in that frustrating place, torn between a budget and beautification? I think the muddy paw prints all over newly painted floors did me in. I am seriously close to entering us into one of those home make over contests! Ahmed of Yard Crashers may have a DIYer stalking him soon(just kidding Ahmed, nothing but love)

Who would’ve thought bringing a kitchen back to a neutral color pallet has been more work than expected. At least this was one easy and cheap update.

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Back to painting…Happy Sunday everyone!

Here’s to the crazy ones…

The home decor rebels, the DIY pioneers, the homeowners on a budget…And when we see a paintbrush we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can paint their floors, are the ones who do…

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Oh yes we finally got crazy and said goodbye to red, brown, orange, yellow, and lime green glass tile inserts.

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Some may argue the glass tiles don’t look too bad, some may say they’ve seen uglier…How about a close up then?

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After we painted the fireplace gray and started priming away the mustard yellow walls, the tile was now the last piece of the ugly puzzle.
WARNING: Painting tile by hand is not for the faint of heart. You WILL be sore and curse yourself an hour into it. Imagine painting at least a hundred finger nails and you’ll get the idea.
However if you have a tiny budget (and are half way desperate) then this project is for you.
We already planned to patch the kitchen grout and even lighten it up with grout renew. While out shopping we discovered that grout renew in antique white was nearly the exact shade as Glidden’s natural linen paint. (The guys at Home Depot let me test it) It was a sign, so we asked them to match Glidden’s gripper primer to the color.

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We also picked up a can of clear high gloss paint, since the primer would need a protective coat.

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Once home, and still asking ourselves should we really do it, we cleaned and sanded each of the tiles.

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The painting required two coats of primer and two coats of clear enamel. I worked in rotation and strategically blocked areas off from the dogs who wanted to help.

20140301-204328.jpg The hardest part of painting tiles was the tiny black dog hairs. Despite a pre painting vacuum and mopping, I was still picking and brushing them away from wet paint. It was tedious at times but a vast improvement from lime green and burgundy.

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20140301-204849.jpg Our little eat-in kitchen is slowly coming together. Are painted floors going to stay? Maybe, or maybe not, but for now they are a low cost and even easier alternative to chipping out and tile replacement. We’ll be sure to post updates on how our floors stand up to high traffic, dogs and parties in the weeks to come. In the meantime, to all our fellow crazies, have a Happy Sunday everyone!

A Fireplace of a Thousand Shades of Gray

This is a tale of everything you shouldn’t do, and everything you should do when painting/staining a fireplace gray. Especially a mid-century, burgandy stained, brick fireplace that takes up half your kitchen/dining space…Oh yeah baby bring on the ugly pics…

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Take it all in…Yes, that is mustard yellow walls. Yes, those are pecan/orange built-ins with gold hardware. And yes, that is my half-attempt of making it all work together with a hand me down piece of art.

Now here is the instigator…The Valentines gift from hubby that threw us into action, and made us get off our duff after a year of living with ugly…

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Back in October when the basement flooded, we found this relic from the hubby’s bachelor days. During the clean out I had made an off-hand comment, “how great would it be to have a TV in the kitchen so I can watch the news or Food Network while cooking…” And guess what…MY HUSBAND REMEMBERED!!!!!!!

I swear our spouses surprise us sometimes! You wonder how they can forget to buy the milk at the store one day. Then suddenly they remember an inconsequential comment from four months ago. (Who knew?! I totally love this man!)

However hubs had one caveat, a TV would have to wait till our savings caught up to it, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be installed? And a fireplace could be painted?

Now that is love! He hates, painting, I mean H-A-T-E-S… In fact as a rabid UCLA fan he’d rather watch USC kill his bruins in football than paint…

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I FEEL SO LOVED! First he prepped and cleaned the fireplace. We had researched a couple of diy brick staining projects and decided to give it a go. We settled on Waterstone semi transparent masonry stain by Behr. It was the lightest gray available, since charcoal would’ve been too dark for our room.

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As for the dogs, they had to hang with us because of the weather…They were great supervisors.

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At first we were pretty satisfied, yet as the day wore on and lighting changed we noticed the gray turn bluer and bluer…You’d never guess based on the pic below that this was a robin egg blue to the naked eye.

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Poor hubs, he dealt with me as I went through all the stages of grief that Sunday. The Moms were called, and became our color counselors, (the pics and texts were flying furiously that day!)
Finally in a moment of exasperation I just had to leave the room. Then for the first time noticed our olive wood accent wall in the living room, in the afternoon light was gray! I mean the perfect shade of mossy light gray! Immediately I splashed some paint on the fireplace…Voila! Gray!

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It wasn’t the stain or paint at all, our backslider lighting was the culprit! See our house is a cute blue exterior and the light from the backslider reflects off the garage and patio creating blue light in our little house! So here it is…

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Yay! Color crisis adverted, a light mossy gray that seriously brightens the room..Some before and after pics shall we?

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Of course hubs still has some more work to do, (including setting up the TV wall unit) but we are finally tackling this room. We have several big updates in the coming weeks and so excited to share! Happy Sunday everyone!

The never ending Valentines Day…

I had a few more surprises up my sleeve for hubby’s v-day. Again, the rule was to not spend any money…Well I sorta cheated…First I used a leftover target gift card for $8 worth of hooks for organizing his tool cabinet. The second time I cheated was for these…

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I bought these lights nearly a year ago for about $15 each at Home Depot with the intention of installing them in the garage. However they somehow got packed away in an old card board box and forgotten. Only after I started organizing the garage I was able to find them. BONUS GIFTS ROCK!
Here’s the before cool industrial lights…

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And now the after…

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Yes I know not the most exciting post, but hubby is in the middle of my Valentines day presents…We can’t wait to show you all next weekend! (Super excited! He’s doing such a great job!) Happy Sunday everyone!

The “Beast” is gone! Hello new garage door!

I’ve been woefully neglecting to post “before and afters” and “house tour” photos…(For good reason.) We don’t really have any photos to be proud of. Between replacing water heaters, a new roof, new fences, asbestos abatement, etc these are all high cost projects but none are really Pinterest- worthy. Yeah cause I’m sure you all want to see close ups of a water heater right? (Ooh a Rheem 2000, I’m going to pin that!) We’ve been responsible homeowners and savers. We’ve paid cash, (instead of taking the easy route of plastic) and sticking to a strict renovation budget. Putting aside our “wants”, we’ve focused on the “needs”. B-O-R-I-N-G!

But today we finally get to cross a project that was a “want” and sort-of a “need”. Our 1948 solid metal garage door is gone! Or rather what we called the Beast! All metal, no insulation, original springs about to snap, it seriously needed to go! 200-300 lbs of scariness! Our garage guy even had to saw through the rusted metal springs. (It was nail biter today) .

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Here is the hubby and installer straining under the weight of it…(looks like some rainy day fun). These guys were troopers!

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One of the trickier aspects of the new garage door was to install the modern day springs/pully system. They had to cut into the ceiling to account for our low garage overhead.

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Yet I will trade holes in the ceiling for this beauty any day!

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Yay to our first true “before & after” shot!

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Happy Sunday everyone!