Homeownership project #2: Painting

Once we got all the locks changed, we moved onto our second project - painting.  All the colors in the house were super traditional - lots of creamy whites, peaches, etc.  Not our style.  Luckily, painting is one of those things that is an easy and inexpensive change that makes a big impact.  Neither Tyler or I had actually ever painted a room, so we did some Googling and figured out exactly what we would need to get in order to get the job done.  Here's our shopping list:

Paint rollers (two of each regular size, and baby size)
The fuzzy rollers to go with them
Paint roller extenders
Paint trays and liners
Blue painters tape
Drop cloths

Our goal was to paint the family room, front living and dining room, master bedroom, and hallway leading to the master bedroom.  We figured that those rooms would be easiest to get done without furniture and before we were moved in, and decided we could tackle the other rooms at a later time.  I already knew I wanted to use Benjamin Moore paint.  It is oil-based, and goes on so nicely.  And I had stalked Houzz.com and some other websites for enough hours to figure out what colors I liked.  Here's the breakdown and some examples of what the paint looks like (all BM paints):
  • Master bedroom and front living/dining room: Coventry Gray
  • Hallway leading to master bedroom: Sesame
  • Family room: we'd paint the wood paneling and brick a BRIGHT white: Chantily lace; and then the back wall we'd paint with Sesame

Coventry Gray via
Sesame via
So here are our prep steps:
  • Tape off all of the molding.  We were planning on painting this later, but we didn't want to make a complete mess of it, so we taped it anyways
  • Spackle any holes from nails
  • Remove all electrical plates
  • Put down drop cloths
Easy enough, right?  Yup!  We decided to start with the master bedroom.  The room currently had carpet which we decided we were going to tear up and replace with wood floors.  We wanted to get this one done first and then we'd continue with the same paint color in the front room.  Here's a before and after:

So you can see, the grey makes such a big impact, I love it!  You can also see we've torn up the carpet to prepare for our wood installation (its being installed today!)  Stark white walls can make a big impression if done correctly, but as you can see, the sellers didn't really do a good job at that.

Once we finished the master, we moved on to the front room.  Here is the 'Before' picture:


Gosh, I'm so glad we were able to look past all of their furniture selections and see the house for the cuteness that it really has!  The wall color in the before pictures was a very light peachy color. And here is the after picture:

Alright people.  This is the same color that was in the master bedroom that I loved so much.  But once we got it on the walls (meaning we painted the entire front room) I just saw problems with it and didn't love it in this room.  The first problem was all I was seeing was blue!  I don't know if it was the lighting or what, but to me, the paint looked like a light blue instead of a grey.  And then secondly, there isn't a ton of lighting in this room so I felt like it was making the room too dark.  Tyler was not pleased once I started voicing my concerns, but I was determined to repaint it.  So that's what I did the next weekend.  In this picture, you can see I have 6 paint samples on the wall.  I ultimately chose the one on the top left corner, Benjamin Moore's Revere Pewter, because I felt like it didn't have the blue undertones I was seeing in the Coventry Gray, and it was also brighter, so it wouldn't make the room feel so dark.  I recruited my bff Jamie, and we knocked this room out (with two coats of paint!) in just a few hours.  Here is the revised After pic, and I really really really love the new color so much, I think I'm going to use it in the kitchen too:

Also - please note that the wretched light fixture with the black shades will be going.  I have a fabulous chandelier to replace it. :)

Next, the family room and hallway.  I don't have before pictures of the hallway, but here is a before picture of the family room to refresh your memory:

The paneling was a creamy white color, and the wall behind the media center was a goldish tan, and it wasn't pretty.  We decided to brighten it up with a real crisp, clean white, and then bring in some color with a yellowish green. We wanted to bring that same bright Sesame color into the hallway. Here are the after pictures (sorry for the quality, I even brought my camera to take pics but the battery died, so I had to resort to the iPhone.  Pffttttt.) :




So all this painting literally took up all of the weekends that we had available to us.  Last weekend Jamie and I repainted the front room while Tyler pulled up all of the carpet, and Tyler was on a duck hunting trip this weekend, and I had things to take care of here in Dallas before our big move.  Since we're literally out of time, we decided to hire a little Mexican man to paint all the trim and the doors the Chantily Lace white so they wouldn't look so dingy, and he's also going to paint our kitchen since that one will be a bit difficult with all the cabinet corners.  Since he's taking all the doors off, we figured this would be a perfect opportunity to switch out all those brass hinges too. :)

We're really happy with how the paint came out.  We feel like we're slowly bringing the house into the 21st century!  I can't wait to get furniture into it!


Tour de Texas

Happy New Year! I'm a little late on this post, but whatever, better late than never. The holidays were quite busy for us - since we didn't get to spend any time with family for Thanksgiving, we decided to make the trek across Texas to see everyone in the few short days we had for Christmas.  I had just given my big Suit School presentation at work, so I was ready for a little rest and relaxation - thank GOD that stupid thing is over.  I was feeling totally under the weather with some sort of sinus upper respiratory situation going on, so I literally got up at 4am that morning, gave my presentation at 8am, and then went home and went to bed for the rest of the day.  I just wanted to get that presentation over with.  By time the week was over, I had started feeling better, but then Tyler was getting the sickness, right before the holidays.  Nice.

We left first thing Saturday morning to go to Austin.  We arrived around 12:30pm and went straight to lunch at this cute little sandwich shop, Dough and Thyme, I think it was called.  Then we went driving around the Hill Country and went to an olive oil tasting place.  They had lots of different olive oils and balsamic vinegars to try, which was super yummy, and then also some wine.  We then went to Westcave Winery for some more wine tasting.  Ashton taught me some of her cheers, and even Tyler got in on the cheerleading (I think the wine had encouraged him.)  Then the owner came out with a bucket of cow food, and we fed a bunch of cows!  Ashton loved it.  I thought the cows kind of smelled, but it was neat, nonetheless.

The next morning, Tyler was on his death bed, so me and the rest of the ladies went to church.  When we got back to the house, finally got Tyler up and started making our big Christmas lunch of venison, mashed potatoes, salad, and rolls.  After lunch I went to meet Lisa for some cupcakes and hot chocolate - I love her so much!  She's got a little baby belly, SO cute.  We chatted for a couple of hours, then it was time for me to head back so we could go look at Christmas lights.  So good to see her. :)

That evening we drove down to Wimberly to check out this big Christmas light display - have I mentioned that I do not like Austin roads?  Holy cow - I was confined to riding shotgun for the entire trip because I felt like we were in St. Lucia with how windy and hilly the roads were.  Sheesh.  Anyways, back to the lights.  A bunch of vendors get together and put this big light display together every year.  Tyler was sick as a dog, so we didn't stay THAT long, but we got some good photo ops.

The next morning we left first thing to make the drive to my parents.  We stopped in Houston on the way over so we could finally meet little Lyla Dawn.  Oh my goodness, Lyla is such a doll.  We all know how I feel about babies, but Lyla is pretty cool.  She's super cuddley and doesn't cry or slobber (or at least she didn't when I was there!)  Love Lyla - I can't wait to see her again!  It was so nice catching up with Lauren and Wyatt too.  I miss them so much!

We finally made it to my parents house, and poor Tyler I think was probably nearing death with the amount of Kleenexes he had used, so he went straight to bed.  I hung out with my parents for a while until dinner - we had tamales which were super yummy.  We then went to candlelight service and it was super packed!  We went to 9:30pm instead of 11pm since Tyler was so sick, so I'm guessing that's why it was so crowded.

The next morning we woke up and had breakfast, and opened stocking gifts.  My mom made Tyler his very own stocking to match mine - so cute. :)  We then gathered round the tree to open gifts.  Tyler got a hand carved duck call from my parents among a bunch of other things.  I got a ZGallerie gift card that I'm real excited about, and another place setting of our wedding china, as well as some other things.  Tyler got me some sweater Uggs I'd been wanting too. Overall, a pretty successful Christmas morning.  The Braislins came over that afternoon for dinner.  It was fun having Jonathan join us this year!  We had ham, corn, rolls, macaroni and cheese, and lots of champagne with raspberry liqueor.  Then Ms. Janice made this super yummy chocolate dessert - nomnomnomnom.  And then we finished the night off with a movie.  The end.

We left first thing the next morning so Tyler could get back for work - we made a stop at Bucees and Tyler got me the biggest Dr. Pepper Icee they sell.  Score!  We rolled into Dallas just in time to see the light dusting of snow before it all melted.  All in all, a pretty successful Tour de Texas!


Homeownership project #1 - Changing the locks

So after 60 days of dealing with an inspection, roof issues, insurance, cranky sellers, appraisals, and all the other joyous things that go along with buying a house, we FINALLY closed on December 28!  This is technically my 2nd house, but its exciting because its my first official house with Tyler (and Tyler's very first house, I'm so excited for him!) So now that we have the keys in our possession, its time to start on the long list of projects we have to get done (hopefully) by January 26.  Wish us luck.

Project #1: Changing the locks
They say the very first thing you need to do once you get the keys, is get new keys.  Sounds easy enough, right? O.m.g. this was a ridiculous project.  Here's how it went.  First of all, we inspected the doors.  All of the doors in the house have brass knobs, which WILL be changed, but we figured we should start with the ones that lead outside first.  We had five locks to change - one to the front door, which is a big one, and then 4 other doors.  Well, the front door also had brass kick plate, brass mail slot, brass door knocker, so of course we have to switch those out too.  We went to Lowe's to pick out our locks. So many choices, so much $$$.  For future reference, locks are expensive!!!  Luckily we had two Lowe's gift cards cause our grand total was just under $500.  Yikes.

We decided to start with the front door.  Now - I've had my fair share of locksmithing with the lock on our front door of the townhome.  I've taken locks apart, put them together, replaced them, super easy.  We took all the screws out of this nice brass Baldwin lock, and that sucker would not come off.  We start pulling and wiggling and nothing would give.  We were convinced that it was super glued to the door.  I then had the brilliant idea to use Google to see "how to remove a Baldwin lock."  Google has all the answers.  Apparently you have to use an allen wrench, which we luckily had.  We finally got the lock off the door, only to discover it had another lock on the inside.  There was no messing around with this lock!  We finally got the entire thing off, and we were ready to put the new one on:

A few hours later, we finally got the whole thing done.  Next, we were onto the other doors.  These doors had a knob and a deadbolt, so we had two tasks to do per door so we divided and conquered.  Luckily, these weren't as difficult as the front door, but there were a lot of parts per door that we had to deal with:

Many hours later, we finally finished.  It took WAY longer than we expected, but it was an important first thing to do.  Here are a few things we learned:

1. Try to change the locks when the temperature is above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.  No, not because the temperature affects the lock, but since we had to have the doors open, our fingers were FREEZING make the whole process even that much more painful.
2. Decide whether you like the current locks/knobs that are already existing.  If you like the locks, you can just keep them and have a locksmith come out to re-key.  If you don't like your locks, be prepared to chunk over some serious change because locks are expensive.  At least try to find a coupon before you make the purchase.
3.  If you change all the locks yourself, set aside a few hours to change all of them, because it takes some time to change out every single part. And you may have to deal with some crazy serious double locks like we did.

First project - complete!


House hunters

Originally written 11/5/2012:

So to bring everyone up to speed, Tyler and I are under contract on a house!!  Its been exciting and annoying and frustrating and exciting again.  Tyler and I have been looking at houses since forever, and I'm glad we took our time to find something we really liked.  We had been looking in southwest Fort Worth because the houses were big and updated and were within what we originally wanted to spend.  But.....after looking at several 3,000+ square foot houses, they just didn't feel....right.  They all were the same.  They all had artwork nooks (I REALLY dislike artwork nooks). And the closest restaurants were Chili's, Outback, and TGIFridays.  I started doing some more research on the area, and there were a TON of foreclosures.  Now, I know the economy has been crap lately and that foreclosures have been commonplace, but this seemed to really alarm me because there were so. many. And (not that school districts matter to us at all right now) but we had heard that the school district had been AWESOME down there 5 years ago, and that now you don't want to send your kids to school there.  There were just a lot of red flags, and we didn't want a house that looked like our neighbors' and we're still young!  And want to go out and try new restaurants and bars and museums and all that fun stuff that you get by living close to downtown.  This area was definitely not "us".

So we had an epiphany...or a couple epiphanies:
1.  We don't have enough furniture to fill a house that is 3,000 square feet.
2.  We didn't LOVE the area.  We kept talking about a tollway that would be built by 2014 and how we'd be able to use that to get to the stuff that we like.  In 2014.
3. We finally realized we could spend a little more money per square foot, get a house with CHARACTER, be close to the things we like, and probably be a lot happier.

So we turned our search to the Ridglea and Arlington Heights areas.   Here's a break down of the houses that we loved:

Red Door Special
We loved this house before we even walked in.  It was the red door, white brick, and cute little porch.  Then we walked in and decided the owners must be interior decorators because we were ready to buy it furnished.  Here are some pics:


This is the MASTER bathroom 

  • Pool - o.m.g. we loved that backyard.  Great pool, lots of entertaining space, lots of privacy
  • Layout - the flow of the house was great.  Formal living room/dining room in the front, flowed into the back family room which was ajoined to the kitchen, which flowed effortlessly into the backyard
  • 3 bedrooms/2 bathrooms
  • Fits a sectional - ok, you may think this is a stupid PRO, but having a sectional in our lives will make our marriage MUCH happier! :)
  • Bathrooms - UGH.  I was already envisioning how we were going to rip down walls to make the two bathrooms utilize the space better.  That probably isn't a good sign.
  • Utility room - in the garage!  Where would I put all of Max's things?  And, that is definitely not climate controlled and I don't want my wet clothes sitting in the washer in a garage that is about 120 degrees in the middle of a Texas summer
  • No fireplace - where would Christmas stockings hang? :(
  • Price - we felt like it was overpriced for what we were getting.  The backyard was phenomonal, but there wasn't any granite anywhere in the house, the closets weren't spectacular - there wasn't a huge wow factor.

1920's Bungalow
This cute little bungalow lured me in with its cute curb appeal.  Tyler saw it first, without me.  He thought it was cute, but was worried about storage. He accurately guessed he'd be using the guest bedrooms to store his clothes.  But I loved the pictures, so I had to see it for myself:

Love the fireplace!


  • Updated - there really wasn't anything we needed to do to this house.  From the bathrooms to the paint colors, it was really move-in ready
  • Layout - it flowed really nicely. The living room flowed right into the dining room which flowed right into the kitchen which flowed nicely into a back office area
  • Location - Arlington Heights is literally across the street from Central Market, a few blocks from the up and coming W. 7th Street area, and super close to downtown
  • Curb appeal - okay, I really love the landscaping job on this house.  Those yellow and orange plants make it look super cute.
  • Utility room - this is a big plus for me.  It wasn't just a closet, it was a ROOM.
  • Character - this house has lots of character.  All the doorknobs in the house are those crystal vintage ones that you see in your Grandma's house.  And they were all different colors!
  • Wood floors - the whole house had wood floors!


  • No garage - okay, there is a structure there, but its not a functioning garage.  This is a huge issue, because I do not want to park the Lexus sitting under trees, in the rain, beating sunshine, near birds, etc. forcing me to walk outside to get into my house. And building a garage sounded like a huge undertaking.
  • Closet space - this would have been a huge compromise.  All of the closets were TINY.  I told myself I could make it work.  Looking back.....I probably would have hated it.
  • Kitchen space - the kitchen was super cute and updated, but it was SMALL.  There was literally one big cabinet to put things like pots and pans.  If you haven't seen my kitchen now, I have 4 huge cabinets that could fit pots and pans and I'm craming things into them because I have so many cooking tools.
  • Yard - was small.  Everything is small in Arlington Heights apparently.  And putting a pool in that backyard would have been a challenge.

White Lamp Post
I was unsure of this home to begin with.  I'd seen it on Realtor.com multiple times.  I couldn't figure out in my mind how the layout worked from the pictures.  The decorating style was WAY too traditional for me. But my parents found it online as well and urged us to just go take a look.  I drove to Fort Worth one Wednesday after work to meet Tyler and our realtor.  I pulled up, and I was pleasantly surprised when the house looked way better than the pictures. And the layout - so cool. So many boxes checked. A few coats of paint, and we'd be golden. Here are the pictures I was unsure about, but its way better in real life:

Green grass.  Red door. White lamp post.  Cute.

Fireplace! Formal living and dining.

Subzero fridge :)

Professional grade oven - woo woo!

Back family room

Master bedroom

Master bathroom - on the list to be updated

Guest bathroom - will be redone before we move in

Big enough to fit a pool!

Hot tub!

Oversized two-car garage and lots of driveway for friends to park


  • Layout - we LOVE the layout.  It has over 2,100 square feet, a formal living and dining area PLUS a family room.  The master bedroom is in the back of the house and is actually an addition to the home.  The kitchen is central to the house.
  • Kitchen -  Subzero fridge.  Thermador range (professional grade.) Stainless everything.  I can cook until my little heart is content.
  • Storage - there are 6 HUGE closets and a wine cellar, plus the garage is oversized and there is a ton of attic space.  The master closet is ridiculous.  It is custom and has all built ins.  And Tyler's clothes can actually share the closet with mine instead of being confined to the guest bedroom closets. :)
  • Hot tub - we were aiming for a pool, but hot tub is the next best thing.  It will be nice to get home from work and relax with a glass of wine in the evenings.
  • Back yard - is. huge.  We can definitely fit a pool in it if we decide to do that, but it is definitely large enough for us to get a dog to start with.
  • Garage - and its not just a 1 car garage.  It will fit 2 cars comfortably, plus some.
  • Neighborhood - this home is in Ridglea North and we like this area over Arlington Heights.  Its not as close to 7th Street, but everyone's yards are nicely manicured and there is a park right down the street.

  • Decorating - the sellers have really traditional taste, but luckily all the furniture goes with them. :)
  • Paint colors - we're going to have to paint.  But that is an easy and affordable fix.
  • Bathrooms - these were both updated in the 90's so they have some gold fixtures which I'm not a fan of.  We plan on remodeling the guest bathroom first before we move in, and then saving our pennies for a complete master bathroom rehaul in a year or so.

If you haven't figured it out, the White Lamp Post house was our choice.  There was A LOT of back and forth with the sellers (who suck, by the way) but we finally came to an agreement and are closing on December 28!  Merry Christmas to us!  And Happy Anniversary!  And Happy Birthday! Oh, and if you know anyone looking to rent a super great 4 story, two bedroom, two 1/2 bathroom townhome right in the heart of Dallas, let us know.  Preferably a nice gay couple that will take care of it and decorate it fabulously. :)

Update 1/3:
Whelp, we are now the proud owners of TWO homes!  We closed on 12/28 and then met the sellers on the 29th for a walkthrough.  They were totally nice and showed us how to work everything, and even showed us a secret thing about the house that we didn't know (nope, I'm not telling you what it is, its a secret!!)  Tyler and I spent the 29th, 30th, and 31st doing a bunch of projects already.  I'll post about those in the next couple of weeks.  We move in on January 26th, and we're so excited!!  Yay!  And the other great thing is that we leased the townhome in a matter of a single day.  If only buying a home was as easy as leasing a home!  Double yay! :)