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Continuation of Dining Room – Take 1.

When I last left you, we had finished painting the walls. The next step was to figure out the dimensions of the board and batten. Since I liked the way she did hers, I decided just to follow her dimensions. Way easier than trying to figure this out for myself.  We broke out the scotch tape again and put up pieces of tape where each of the vertical boards would be placed. This is important for two reasons. First, we needed to know exactly how may slats we would need. Secondly, we needed to make sure we weren’t getting too close to the outlets, light switch, or corners. We only had to shift the boards once to make amends for a corner.

Next up was the Home Depot run for the MDF and other supplies. One of the best features of Home Depot is that they will cut boards for you. So, armed with the measurements we needed, we pulled the MDF sheets and kindly asked the gentleman if he would cut the 4×8 boards into the 30 sizes we needed (no joke, I think it may have even been more than 30). This was a HUGE help and saved us a bunch of time. We also purchased paintable caulk to fill gaps, Liquid Nails, and the piece of trim that would be make the shelf look more decorative.

As a side note, we also discovered that MDF is basically thick, compressed cardboard. So, if you ever buy MDF, just make sure it’s not raining really hard when you leave Home Depot.  We did not check the weather and as a result, Matt had to back his car up to the Home Depot exit so we didn’t get our boards wet. Fortunately, stormy Sunday evenings are not a busy time for Home Depot.

Back at home, Matt got to work nailing these boards to the walls. The only problem that we had was that the drywall did not catch the nails for the vertical pieces very well at all. After it was all said and done, Matt went back and placed screws in the top and bottom of these boards to make the more secure and to make the tops and bottoms match up with the horizontal pieces. Less filling and sanding for me!

Here’s what it looked like when all the boards were up, sans shelf.

Now, to put up the shelf and the little decorative piece under the shelf, we had to get a little creative. We couldn’t get the hammer close enough to the wall to get a nail in the top, so we had to rent a nail gun. Cool tool, but super super loud, especially in a small, enclosed room.

Matt also nail gunned the top of the vertical pieces close the gap as much as possible between the vertical and horizontal pieces.

For the little piece of trim, we used liquid nails to glue it in place.

Here’s a close up:

Now, we just need lots and lots of sanding and white paint! Check us out on Monday for the finished project!


When I finally decided what I wanted to do with the dining room, I was chomping at the bit to get started. We took a break from home repairs for a few months and after staring at my unfinished living and dining rooms, I was ready to start changing stuff again. We chose the dining room because we already have the furniture and it is much smaller than the living room.

We told you about our plans for the dining room here and after a bit of planning, we dove into the project.

Step 1, remove the chair rail and base board.

Step 2, freak out when you find mold behind a section of baseboard.

Luckily, we were able to remove all of the mold and the wall did not seem damaged. Yikes!

Now, once all the baseboards and the chair rail was removed, we had to do some serious wall repair. Just like in all the other rooms of this house, the previous owners had completely destroyed the walls by hanging millions of things, and by letting their pets climb on the walls. We think that’s what was going on because there really is no other explanation for the number of gouges in odd places on the walls.

So, once the walls were repaired, we decided how high we wanted the board and batten to go. Normally, the board and batten looks better if it is higher than the normal chair rail height.  We based the height off of one of the shelves of the built in bookshelf in the dining room to give the room a more linear look. Also factoring into this equation was the fact that the board we were purchasing came in 4′ x 8′ sheets. So, by default, the vertical pieces would be 4′ high. Coincidentally, these two factors matched up perfectly.

Once the height was decided, we put up scotch tape around the room to mark the divide.

On the website where I was getting the instructions for this project, she had mentioned it is much better to paint the wall behind the board and batten before proceeding with the installation of the boards. So, we painted first.

Please don’t judge me because of the crooked lighting. I think Matt hit his head on it.

Now, I mentioned a built in shelf in the dining room. We love that we have it, but I really have no idea what to paint it. I was thinking just to paint it all white to match the bottom of the board and batten, but that seems a little blah to me. Anyone have any brilliant ideas?

You can see in the picture that I already started to paint it. The difference between the unpainted top and the painted bottom is a little disgusting. But, anywho, please tell me what I should do with this space. Thanks.

Next up, installing board and batten!

A few hours after we bought our house, we stopped by to check it out without the previous owners staring us down. This was only the second time we had seen it completely empty, the first being earlier that day for the final walk through.  To say that the house grossed us out is a huge understatement. It was absolutely disgusting. We cleaned for 2 weeks and then moved in. Even though everything was clean there were still a couple of rooms that grossed me out.  The guest bedroom was one of those rooms. Something about the combination of ugly wall colors, ugly wallpaper border, and lots and lots of hooks just gave me to heeby jeebies.

So, we set about trying to change that this past weekend. First step, take down ugly wallpaper.

The we painted and painted and painted. That dark color on the right took quite a bit of paint to cover.  Now, the room is not completely done yet, so I can’t give you the official before/after shots, but I wanted to show you our progress.  The wall color is actually lighter than it looks the photos. It was stormy out when I was taking the pictures, so I had no help from natural light. And yes, the flooring is linoleum.

We still need window treatment, wall decor, and a few other minor dress-ups, but I love the way the room is coming together! And, a huge plus, this room doesn’t gross me out anymore! It feels soo much better now.  It’s amazing what a couple of coats of paint can do!

On the downside, Matt has sworn off any more painting for the rest of his life. I’ll have to remedy that in some way because we have most of the house still to paint. Yikes!

We knew the minute we moved into the house that we needed to change something, to feel like we were making progress on this mess of a house. So, what’s the easiest, cheapest fix? Paint! The first room on our list was the kitchen/family room because it is the most used room in the house. The only problem with this room was that one of the walls was “textured.” The texture job was terrible. It looked as though they had prepped the wall for something to be adhered to it and just left it. It was plasticy and gross.

So, we decided that the only way to get rid of the texture was to sand it down. Oh contraire. The texture melted and gooped all over the sander and considering we were borrowing a friend’s sander, we didn’t want to ruin it. Plan B. Scrape it off? That didn’t work too well either. So as we were pondering our next move I started looking at what was below the little bit that had been sanded down. It seemed pinkish and…wait a second, that’s not drywall! They had, get this, textured over textured wallpaper. But, as crazy as they had been, the wallpaper actually made our job of getting rid of the texturing a little easier. We scored the walls and used our borrowed steamer to try to get some moisture behind the thick blanket of texture goop. And it worked! We were able to easily peel away the wallpaper with the gross texture all in one piece! There was only one tiinny problem. The wallpaper was ancient and left behind that thin brown adhesive paper.

No big deal, we thought. We’ll just steam that bad boy right off too! NOT! Now what? We tried plain water, that stuff you spray on wallpaper to make it loosen up, just picking it off with our fingernails (the scraper got a little aggressive and tried to take off the brown paper and some of the drywall, we had to give it a time out). Nothing was working. (We actually lived with it like you see in the picture above for about a month. We got used to it, but I’m sure everyone who came in to our house was grossed out.) My momma suggested that we use fabric softener and water. It worked like a charm. The key was to keep the brown paper really saturated with the water/fabric softener combo and then use a plastic scraper to remove the adhesive.

This break in the wallpaper code gave us the encouragement we needed to finish this project and stop the grossing out our guests. So, we gathered our tools and our stamina, finished scraping the wall and gave it a good coat of drywall mud. I immediately had to try out my paint colors, of course.

I was so proud of the work we did on this wall. But, sadly, we weren’t quite done with this room yet. We knew that there was a beautiful calla lily wallpaper border that needed to be removed (not only was it ugly, but they had put it up upside down!). So, Matt borrowed a huge ladder from a friend and got to work with the steamer (can you notice a trend with all of our tools used on this project?).

We were not surprised when we discovered that there was not one layer of border up, but three. Why take down wallpaper when you can wallpaper over it, texture over it, or paint over it? The eternal question.

We were finally ready to paint. I had a hard time choosing colors for this space because I felt limited by the pink tile. So in the end, I decided on a cream for the kitchen and green for the family room.

It’s a good thing Matt is tall!

Here are some before and after shots:







Please ignore the lack of window treatment. We removed the peach vertical blinds and hadn’t put anything else up yet!

It felt so much better to have painted one room of this crazy house! Now we can breathe a sigh of relief that we are, in fact, competent enough (or at least we have the courage to try!) to fix up this house and move on to the next project. Now…what to do next?

When we looked at and bought the house the tile on the kitchen counter was beige as seen in the image below.

We were not wild about having a tile countertop, but the color was fine. But something just didn’t seem right. The texture didn’t feel like tile should. I just couldn’t put my finger on what was wrong. Then, some wonderful friends came over to help us clean the house. They set down the pizza they brought (I said they were wonderful!) on the beige counters. A while later we picked up the box to toss it, we noticed that there was a red stain on the counters. After some investigation we came to a dreadful realization….

They had painted the counters!

And the color below was pink! (Ahem…excuse me…coral) How could we not have noticed? They had painted the tile with a latex paint that could be scratched with your fingernail. Peeling tile could now be added to the list of tasks that needed to be completed before move in (just below cleaning the hairy fan).

The result…a pink kitchen. Doesn’t it just scream “Florida”?

Here is a nice before after:

If we had known, would this have persuaded us to not buy the house? Probably not. Are we convinced that the previous owners had lost their marbles? Getting there.

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