This is a tale of a girl whose longings for a campaign dresser were fulfilled one Saturday when she got out of bed before noon. This post could also be titled “The Early Girl gets the Dresser.” Dang-it.

A few weekends ago, Montana and I decided to sell a bunch of furniture that didn’t fit and check out the Restore and some yard sales. Ever since some AWESOME friends moved into a smaller place and gifted us their treadmill (best day ever) I had been trying to use it fairly regularly. I’m pretty bad at self motivating though. What I am good at is collecting a huge selection of DVR’d shows that I have trouble finding time to watch. When we first moved in, we put a TV in the basement on a TV stand that had previously been in our condo living room. Unfortunately, I couldn’t see it over the top of the treadmill so it needed to go on the wall. The TV stand was also in too nice of condition for the basement where some weights might accidentally scratch or dent it.  Somehow I can’t find a picture of it from either our old condo or the basement. Blogger fail!

We also decided to sell a really nice desk that the previous owners left but for which we just didn’t have a need. We plan to do built-ins for our office eventually but in the meantime the office is packed with bookcases and a desk we already had in the condo.


Luckily both the desk and the TV stand sold quickly and for close to asking price giving us $275 in cash to use for furniture that we needed!

Our Saturday morning started with a quick trip to a yard sale right around the corner and we scored! This solid wood dresser and mirror set became ours for $29! Sure, it’s an ugly tone but nothing a little paint can’t fix.

The mirror immediately went above our fireplace mantel. I’m not sure it’ll stay there long-term but it works for now. Yes… that ceiling fan is hideous.

A few miles of our house, we have this magical land of forgotten treasures known as the Habitat for Humanity Restore. MAGICAL I TELL YOU! Basically, the Restore is Craigslist in a warehouse where volunteers take donations from contractors, businesses and individuals and then sell everything at a huge discount off retail. Proceeds go to Habitat for Humanity. Win-Win! Sometimes they have aisles full of gorgeous marble tile or pedestal sinks. Other days they have nothing awesome at all, which only adds to the thrill… you never know whatcha gonna get! You can usually count on them to have a few complete sets of kitchen cabinet, lots of doors, some random furniture and old sofas that need to be reupholstered. The vast majority of stuff is used but every once in a while you find things like $400 lighting fixtures with the tag still on for $50. Hoollaaahh.

This fine Saturday they had the mother-load. I could have filled a Uhaul with everything I wanted. But… I exercised self-restraint and stayed within my $275.  Here’s a sampling of what I was strong enough to walk away from that day.

Restore Loot

Ok moment of truth. I wanted that sewing table BADDDDDDD but someone scooped it. This place is competitive!

Enter the campaign dresser.

If you’re a decor blog lover or a pinterest lover, then you know that campaign furniture is BIG right now. Now, I’m the last person to be trendy (honestly, even my mom has told me that I’m frumpy) but I have been dying for a campaign dresser. Montana thought I was crazy because I wouldn’t leave it unattended in the store unless he promised to stand by it and not let anyone touch it.  In the picture it actually looks like it’s in much better shape than reality.  The drawer rails were shot. It had probably 20-year-old plastic cracked drawer liners stuck inside, pieces falling off… but IT WAS MINE! All for a cool $40 thankyouverymuch! (Random sidebar: maybe I am obsessed with them because they’re called “campaign” and deep down I feel nostalgic about past campaigns I’ve worked on? Do I need a shrink?)

Then I found this cherry buffet in great condition.

I’m going to call it a buffet, but to be honest I’m not sure how its meant to be used. I don’t usually like bare wood other than in really dark rich tones, but this is going to stay as it is. It was marked at $125 but I negotiated it down to $75 by also buying…

…this hideous chair also for $75. (It was also marked at $125 originally). A friend of mine that I showed the chair to and shared my plan to reupholster it begged me to let her buy it for $150 so she could keep the chair as it was. Please feel free to comment and tell her how hideous it is in its current state. 🙂 Now $75 seems like a lot for chair that needs to be reupholstered, but its super comfortable and even still had the original tag on it from Pier 1. I looked at their site and most chairs in this style go for around $375 so I think even with the work I’ll have to put into it that it’ll be worth it in the end. I’ve already picked out fabric which I scored on clearances during Labor Day sales.

Of course all this new loot means our house is filled back up with projects, as if we didn’t have enough to do.

What’s your favorite second-hand deal you’ve purchased? Any secret tips for finding great stuff? What’s your preference between Craiglist, Yard Sales, or Thrift Stores?

Our guest bath was one of the first painting projects we tackled in the house because we knew a little facelift could turn this bathroom from groddy to “eh that’s kind of cute!”  We decided to do all the bathrooms with the same paint, Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Swan Sea so we wouldn’t have tons of half-used gallons of semi-gloss sitting around. Also the since the tile and fixtures in our guest bath are tan/pinkish and the fixtures in the master bath are gray, the color palette is a little different anyway. In a few years (hopefully sooner than later) we’ll completely demo this bathroom and start over, but for right now the budget required us to work as much as we could with stuff on hand.

As a reminder, this is where we started. 

bathroom sink before

Whole Bathroom Before

One of the first things we did was remove the old shower doors. Think black dirty caulking holding that thing onto the shower.  I have nothing against shower doors. When they’re sparkly and new and go with the design of the bathroom they can be gorgeous, but these had to go!

Luckily removing shower doors is SUPER easy. Usually you just have to unscrew the rail from each side where it’s connected to the tile and then use a putty knife to pry up the bottom rail which is most likely caulked REALLY well to the tub.   Easy peasy! (If you’re worried about scratching the tub make sure you use a plastic putty knife!)

Montana Removing Shower Doors

Sorry ladies. That handyman is locked down.  He also did most of the painting for this project. *Swoon*

Guest Bathroom After

The shower curtain we had in the condo but was originally from Bed Bath and Beyond.  The floor mats are also leftover from the condo and from BBB. The towels are Calvin Klein from Marshalls.  The chrome hardware came as a set from Costco. I forgot to take a picture once we put the white blinds back up. Those will stay until I have time to make some curtains. I’m thinking roman blinds.

Here’s facing the sink from the shower…

All together this temporary facelift cost about $100 since all we bought new was the towel set and the hardware. We didn’t even use a half of the gallons of the white or Swan Sea.  Most importantly, while we save for a complete remodel, it feels much more serene than before. What do you think? Worth a Benjamin?


We’ve finally gotten around to starting to paint out house and its so nice to see what a huge difference some work and a few cans of paint can do for a room! Choosing the right paint color is hard. Mistakes happen even when you think you’ve really got the shade pinned down to exactly what you want. The good thing is that a can of paint is relatively cheap and so you can always start over.

choosing paint colors for your home

How do you go about picking colors for your house? Designers recommend that you choose and stick to 4-5 main colors for all the rooms in your house. That way it’s easier to make everything flow well from room to room.

Montana and I (ok, really just me) had a general idea of what colors we wanted to paint before we even moved in since I’d been thinking about it constantly for the last year. In general I wanted a soothing neutral in the hallways and bedrooms, something spa-like for the bathrooms, and something bright and cheerful in the living room, dining room and kitchen. I settled on gray, teal, green, yellow, and pure white. I’m a stickler for uber bright pure whites. There’s nothing that drives me crazy faster than a dirty looking white.

I ran across this palette from a great blog called Design Seeds and LOVE it. It’s basically exactly what I was imagining.

Rachel from Lovely Clusters also does a great job putting together palettes from pretty photos.

Maybe you already have a favorite pillow or painting that has great colors you want to use. John and Sherry from Young House Love based their color palette off a clearance napkin. Anything goes.

If you have a favorite brand of paint, most of brand websites will let you upload a photo of your inspiration and tell you what colors of their paint are found in the photo. I know a lot of professionals swear by Benjamin Moore. Honestly, I was going to give their paint a try, but the only time their local store is open and I’m not at work is for a few hours on Saturday. This girl needs to be able to shop for house stuff in the evenings, so BM lost my business. If you love the BM their tool is available here.

choosing benjamin moore paint colors for your houese or home

Glidden calls their tool “My Colortopia“.

choosing glildden paint colors for your home or house

My personal favorite brand of paint is Behr. Montana actually laughed at me when I said I wanted to try BM a few months ago. He’s very much an “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” kind of guy. Me… not so much. I’m always wanting to try different products. But anyhow, as I told you above BM didn’t fit my schedule so I’m staying forever with Behr. They have an awesome free iPad app that is great for wasting away your evenings.


Same as the other brands you can upload you’re own photo or choose from one of their stock photos…

choosing paint colors for your home

look at paints in color families…

choosing paint colors for your home

get suggestions on complementary colors and save your favorites….


and even preview your selected colors in the room type and style that you’re planning. Its fabulous!20120911-083957.jpg


Major time suck! I told you so! But it’s also nice to save your colors and come back to them. That way if you’re painting furniture and you want to have a slightly different shade of a complementary color to your palette without using the exact colors of your palette you’ve got help!

Behr has two main lines of paint. Premium Plus, the more economical line, we’ve used for our ceilings. We buy it in the two gallon cans because it’s slightly cheaper but not as heavy as the five gallon. So far in our experience it took three coats to cover over a green ceiling without any primer, and two coats for cream or white ceilings. Side note: the Premium Plus is No VOC which is exciting because you don’t feel like you’re going to pass out or kill too many brain cells while painting. 🙂

For our walls we’re using the Premium Plus Ultra which is their Paint and Primer in one. We love love love it. In our old condo rental we used it to cover over a dark orange with light tan and it covered in one coat. It was a miracle. In the house we’ve been using two coats just to ensure we haven’t missed anything since we own it (well the bank does for another 29.5 years but you know what I mean). It’s Low VOC and I don’t notice any smell. Another happy face. 🙂

I’ll back soon with photos of some newly painted rooms. Yay for pretty walls!

Who gets stuck picking out colors? Do you jump right in and commit?

***This is not a sponsored post. I just love me some Behr. I feel bad that I almost cheated on them with BM. Thank you Home Depot for being open until 10pm so I can fulfill my need for your lovely aisles of paint when I should be sleeping.***


Can you believe it’s already Labor Day Weekend!? This summer flew by!

Montana loves doing “man” stuff outside like cutting anything with a chainsaw, sleeping on the ground… you get the picture.  I’m outdoorsy in that I like to drink Mojitos on patios.

When we moved in to our house in mid April we immediately set about tearing out ivy that had taken over the fence line, digging up bricks that had been randomly half buried throughout the yard and doing general cleanup. As I’ve mentioned before we have big plans for redoing the patio area in the future when time and budget permit, but in the meantime I wanted to get some outdoor furniture that would fit our lifestyle and we could use now, but also would be nice enough to hold onto after we redo the patio.

We love to entertain at home and usually eat on the couch so decided that a lounge set was probably more practical for us than a table and chairs. We’re fans of eating outside, but unless the chairs are really comfortable, it’s not so great to hang out at a table for hours after you’ve done eating.

My search began in early May for a set that would be high quality, durable, and attractive.  Something like these would be perfect…

Pottery Barn Palmetto All-Weather Wicker

Crate & Barrel Ventura Lounge Collection

Restoration Hardware Majorca Collection

…but then I forgot to mention the last requirement. I didn’t want to spend twice our mortgage payment on some furniture that would sit outside. Seriously? Do people really spend over a grand per chair for their patios?  I must be in the wrong line of work.

So my search focused mainly on craigslist, Target, World Market and Pier 1 for a while. I found a few sets that looked like they might work such as this one from Pier 1:

It was a great price, but I didn’t like that the individual chairs didn’t have armrests. I thought they might be uncomfortable for sitting for long periods of time.

I almost pulled the trigger on this set from Target but was scared off because of the reviews saying that  it had arrive broken and returns were difficult. Love the general look though.

Well, I finally found the perfect set!  I don’t even remember what made me decide to look on Amazon, but wow am I glad I clicked over.  Introducing the new patio! It’s called the Strathwood Griffen All-Weather Wicker Set. The best part was that it’s Prime eligible! That’s right, free 2 day shipping!

Remember when we first moved in and our backyard looked like this?

It’s ok to shield your eyes. I’m so happy those days are behind us. More pretty pictures?

On the left side/corner of the deck are my last remaining veggies from this summer. We got a new addition to our family in June named Thunder and he likes to eat things.  Things = zucchini plants, green bean plants, melon plants, cucumber plants, and spinach. Apparently he doesn’t like Basil, Mint or Lettuce because that’s all he left us. Brat.

The wine barrel table was a gift from our neighbors after we helped them clean up the jungle of fallen trees in their backyard from the Derecho* that came through the Mid Atlantic the last weekend of June.  I asked them where they had purchased the barrel since I am on the lookout for them to build a rain barrel** and they gave us their extra half barrel!

The candles are citronella I found at Home Goods and the pillows are usually on our couches inside but are outdoor pillows from a few years ago at Pottery Barn.

We love it! Here’s hoping the humidty goes away for the fall sooner than later so it’s not so painful to sit outside!


*No joke…I’ve pretty much taken the derecho as a sign from God that he’s cool with us cutting down the trees that used to be in the backyard. That storm was no joke.  All our neighbors called us genius the day after.

**I’m still looking for wine barrels! If you hear of anyone in Northern Virginia selling them for under $200 each let me know! That’s the best price I’ve been able to find so far online.

I thought I’d finish up our house tour today…

Upstairs our house technically has 4 bedrooms and 2 baths. Three smaller bedrooms share a hallway bathroom and then the master bedroom has its own bath. Right now its set up as a 3 bedroom because the wall between the master bedroom and one of the smaller bedrooms was knocked out to create a sitting room. It works well for us now as we don’t plan on having kids for a few more years but eventually we might need to put that wall back in to create a fourth bedroom.

The guest bedroom was HANDS DOWN the most hideous room in the house when we moved in. First of all, the previous owners had a love affair with sponge paint as you saw in the kitchen that they decided to really explore with moss green paint all over the walls and trim. I’m still trying to figure out what the deal is with sponging over trim.

Guest Bedroom


The ceiling was sky blue (of course), but it does have a nice skylight.


The inside of the closets had this awesome wallpaper. Yes please, love that…said no one ever.


Needless to say, this bedroom is HIGH on our “to be painted” list.

The second guest bedroom thankfully didn’t have any offensive paint but it did still have some rockin wallpaper in the closet. Seriously can someone explain this to me?

The hallway bathroom. Oh geez. Hideousness. Clearly they knew the shower doors were super ugly since they had a shower curtain bar right above them. (Sorry for the blurry photo!)

Pink and tan tile and an awesome shell sink. Lets bring this style back people!

Thankfully the previous owners left behind some sweet sea shells on string to class up the place. Yesssss.

Basically this bathroom needs a total demo job done on it so we’ll only be doing a very minor facelift this year.

The sitting room! Or what I affectionately refer to as “that room that should just be a big closet.” Montana’s been holding me back. Thank goodness. Because I think it would look awesome as a giant built-in closet. The sitting room door is on the left and the door on the right is for the master. Apparently I haven’t taken pictures since we unpacked… Oops! I haven’t come up with a plan yet on how to decorate this room so it’ll probably evolve slowly with the master bedroom.

Turning around to the master bedroom. These pictures were taken after we had time to collect a few things during the first couple of weeks. Ok scratch that… the only photo I can find with the closet and master bath doors is from the first day in the house.

Notice the horrible paint job and AGAIN the sponge paint on the trim.  I generally prefer sleeping places that look dirty. What I love the most about the master is the laundry shoot. Yay!!!!! I was always jealous of my friends growing up that had them in their houses. What I hate most… the bad placement of the windows. There’s no wall big enough to center a bed without blocking a window. I’m planning to take out the window behind the bed when we replace all the windows and put a double wide window on the back wall of the house.

The master bath has had the most work done on it. I’m not a huge fan of gray tubs sinks and toilets but at least they’re not tan so this bathroom will probably last in its current state for a long time.

Hello random second sink…

The tub is jacuzzi tub which is awesome for my sweetie who likes his relaxing baths but its super noisy and we managed to crack the gel coat within a week of moving in. I’ll go over how we fixed that in a future post.

So that’s the upstairs! We’ve already started doing some work up there but I’ll go room by room with my plans while I unveil whats been happening.

Am I the only crazy that gets way too excited about laundry shoots? ‘Cause seriously that thing is amazing.

23. July 2012 · 5 comments · Categories: Backyard

Something we noticed about our property during our very first walk through with our real estate agent (love her, if you need one let me know) was that the fence while cute, was WAY past due for a replacement. According to our neighbors, a previous owner who built this fence died 15 years ago… that’s how long it’s lasted. Pretty impressive actually, especially considering we have crazy weather in Northern Virginia.

Apparently the sellers of our house were aware that the fence should be replaced too since they replaced one section… yeahhhhh. Keeping it classy.

Honestly though it’s a good thing they didn’t replace the entire fence because if we had a new 4 foot tall fence that might have been a bit of a bummer. Samson (our killer beast of a dog) can EASILY clear 4 feet when he jumps, and he’s good at “up” so naturally we needed a 6 foot fence. We’re also into having privacy in the backyard, you know, in case I want to plant a smooch on Montana, so the “neighborly” paneled fence wasn’t really the look we wanted.

Montana is going to school year round so we have to plan our big projects around his breaks. Clearly replacing the fence was a big project so I requested 3 days of leave from work. That would leave us with 5 days of work time to tear down the old fence and get up the new fence. We figured we could worry about staining it later. Totally do-able right?

Our beloved Lowes has some pretty great “How To” planning guides and videos on their website. We planned on doing a 6 foot privacy fence with 4×4 posts and use the pre-made fence panels that come in 8 foot sections. Our back fence was 64′ across, the right side fence was 61′ long, and then we had two 20′ sections and a 12′ section, which together equals…. a crap ton of fence and posts. Thankfully our neighbors on the left already have a 6′ privacy fence so that saved us a lot of time and money. By doing the pre-made panels we also wouldn’t have to worry about renting or buying an air compressor and nailer so that would save us some more money. (Unfortunately the closest Lowes or Home Depot to us that rents tools is about a half hour away, so renting is sometimes more inconvenient than its worth.)

That Tuesday night when I got home and started going over our plan one last time I had a major slight breakdown as I looked outside. For some reason it only sunk in at the 11th hour that our plan to use pre-made section was ridiculous. There are no flat parts of land in our backyard, and the fence along the back of the property is shaped like an upside down U. Technically I suppose we could have used the panels, but we would have been forced to use the stepping method which personally I think is less attractive and looks lazy, though admittedly would save boat loads of time during the install.

Thankfully there wasn’t too much involved in reworking the plan since we still were going to put the posts 8 feet apart.

Wednesday we spent all day either at Lowes picking out the supplies or waiting for the Lowes staff to load the truck. How on earth it takes 2.5 hours to load a truck I have no idea, but thankfully they only start charging you for your hour when you actually leave.

I had high hopes that once we actually started the work that things would go more smoothly. Don’t laugh! Remember we’re new to home ownership.

Thursday morning we started tearing down the fence. I used our reciprocal saw to cut the panels close to each post and then Montana came behind me and knocked/pulled the posts out of the ground. We had the whole thing down in about 2 hours. It was marvelous. Of course my hand was numb for a day afterwards from the vibrations but at least it was quick! I posted on Craigslist that we had free fence panels and people came to get all of them in 2 days. Not a bad way to get rid of stuff we’d otherwise have to pay to take to the dump!

By Thursday late day we started measuring and digging. You would think that measuring 8 feet sections would be easy enough but I think we measured each section about 3 times and still had problems. When we started digging our holes with the auger we found that it wasn’t as easy as the Lowes video makes it out to be. We’d dig about 4 inches and hit a rock.

Then dig another 2 inches and get stuck on a large root leftover from our monster trees that we’d have to go get the axe and try to break up enough to get it out of the way of our whole. It also doesn’t help that we have clay and our neighborhood was built on an old stone quarry (Hence Stoneybrooke). Needless to say getting to 24 inches deep took FOREVER and in some areas we gave up at 18 and called it good enough. We also had to stop and take out 5 stumps from trees along the fence line that had been removed by the previous owners but never dug up. Of course one of those stumps was on top of where a post needed to go.

We ran into another problem when we got up to the side of the house and started digging out the hole from the previous post and found that the cement was right up against the brick outside wall of our basement and went down about a foot. After staring at it for a while pondering and calling in a life line (Dad) we decided to just reuse their hole and put in a metal post. My dad said that it would probably be good bug wise to not have a wood post right up against the house anyway. I’m just thinking it will be nice to reuse the stainless steel post again for the next fence in 20 years. I’m optimistic like that.

Digging post holes took all day Friday and Saturday morning. Some of our besties from our old condo rental came over and helped dig the last of the holes. It’s good to have friends. Really good. The first half of the posts finally went up Saturday afternoon. Before cementing in any post we held up our 8 foot long 2 x 4 stingers to quadruple check that the posts would be in the right spot.

Unfortunately since some of our holes ended up being WAY wider than necessary because of all the rocks and roots we ended up with not enough cement. Also on Saturday night we had a rain storm so all our holes filled back up with water. I mentioned how this project was one pain in the butt after another right? I may or may not have started to shop-vac the water out of the holes before Montana pointed out that we could just mix the cement with the rainwater instead of carrying buckets around. He’s a smart one that husband of mine. Even the posts that were complete on Saturday were too wobbly because the dirt was still saturated on Sunday so we went to bed after our weekend with only our posts up. I was pretty bummed considering I had used up 3 days of my 20 yearly vacation days and we had so little to show for it but I guess that’s how things go. I told my mom on the phone that this was when I realized that house projects always seem to cost 150% of what you expect and take at least 3 times as long.

Monday I went back to work and left Montana and his brother home to start putting up the stringers. I returned home to this:

It was glorious. Simple pleasures. The three of us worked until dark that night and were thankfully able to get all the stringers up that day.

Tuesday after work we fastened our leftover stakes to the top of our posts and tied off string where we wanted the top of our pickets to sit. After a week of incredibly slow progress it felt soo soo good to see those pickets go up so quickly. I stood back to make sure the board was at the right height, Montana’s brother held the board in place and Montana screwed.

We decide just to put in 2 screws per board to place them and go back later and fill in the other 4 screws. That way we’d at least finally be able to let Samson run free again the backyard. He was not a fan of being tied up every time he went outside.

To be fair most of his days were spent like this:

There’s a free loader on every work site.

Ahhhh.. Finished at last!

Did I say finished? What I meant was ready to put on Thompson’s Waterproofer, which took no less than 3 weeks to complete between the sprayer being a total piece of worthless poop, and having to wait for the weather to give us at least 48 hours of no rain at a time (24 hours for the wood to dry out and 24 hours for the sealer to set). Harder than you would think for this area. But in the end it looks so nice and it the water beads up just like its supposed to!

Bottom Line: This was WAY harder than I thought it would be. But $1500 in materials and a bunch of work = better than $7-$10 grand!

**This is probably the longest post I will ever write… I’m pretty sure you’re not even reading this anymore. If you are… see me to collect your free drink. 🙂

(When love=mulch)

When we had our trees removed we also had the tree service grind the stumps.  They took most of the branches and trunks away, but they left us huge piles of mulch.   Awesome! We totally needed it somewhere else in the yard!

The doors that lead outside from our family room go directly onto a wood deck.  Our neighbors said it used to be a nice natural color but it was painted grey right before the house was put on the market this spring. I’m trying not to think too hard about what it was they were trying to cover up. Unfortunately the deck is square so even though we have a sliding glass door exiting from the dining room on the other side of the kitchen, it leads straight to dirt/mud.

We have BIG plans for changing up the patio area quite a bit in a year or two but in the meantime we just needed to solve the mud problem. Northern Virginia summers mean there’s never more than a day or two between thunderstorms and Samson has done a marvelous job turning our cream carpet to brown even though we’ve tried putting down rugs, towels and blankets to stop him from tracking in the outside.

Enter the roots! First we moved all of the random pavers out of the mud and used some edging bricks to create a boundary between our “patio area” and our to-be-planted lawn.

Then we filled in the area with the wood chips, and reset the pavers to create a walkway from the dining room doors to the deck.  Finally, Samson’s pool came into the wood chip area so he doesn’t get dirty on the way from bath time to the house.

We had a little leftover after doing the area outside the dining room and used the rest to fill in a muddy area between our deck and the fence gate. Ahhh… no more mud…well no more mud close to the house!

It definitely doesn’t have the “wow” factor, but it’s a huge improvement over the mud and will work for us over for a while!


We’ve been taking it easy the last week or two and trying to just “be still” but I’m still behind in writing about a few projects. I hope your summer has started off great!

Question of the day…


Does anyone have an upholstered headboard? I love them in theory, but I’m worried they’ll get dirty.  I imagine them getting nasty over time because of the oils in our hair. Is my concern legit? Please discuss.

31. May 2012 · 1 comment · Categories: Backyard

It’s been forever but I’m back! We’ve been busy bees working around the house so I have lots of stuff to post but haven’t had a break from the doing to talk about it!


Crysta from Fern Gully is after me. Well… at least I think so. If you don’t know what Fern Gully is… then somehow you missed one of the early 90’s greatest eco-propaganda movies for kids.  It was fantastic.

We took down a few trees from the yard at the beginning of May, and by a few I mean five HUMONGOUS trees.  Even though I don’t at all regret the decision, I still can’t help but feel guilty about it. I blame Fern Gully.

When we moved in, our front yard had two maple trees and an oak tree. Our house faces south so the trees in the front yard are great for blocking out the sun and heat. Unfortunately they were so overgrown that although we have a ton of windows, our house was really dark during the day.

In the back we had two large maple trees (along with a handful of smaller ones that had sprouted up over the years and been allowed to grow), an oak, a cedar, and a crepe myrtle.  Although our lot is .20 acres, it felt like one of the smaller lots we had looked at during the buying process because the trees were so large in proportion to the yard.

When we moved in, I thought I just wanted to remove the maple tree closest to the house in back (about 15 feet away) because I was concerned about the massive root structure and that it would damage the basement walls eventually if allowed to keep growing.  Then we found out from our neighbors that when they removed the maple tree from the back corner of their property a few weeks before we moved in, its roots had already reached their house.  That convinced me that we should take out the second maple. The oak in the back was hollow so we knew it would have to be taken out eventually though it could probably have stayed a few more years.   The cedar was growing right up against the fence and didn’t make much sense where it was planted.

The first week we were in the house we received an estimate from the tree service that had done our neighbors yard.  Their proposal included removing the four trees from the back and pruning the front three trees.  It was higher than we anticipated but didn’t seem completely unreasonable.

The second company, Absolute Tree Service, pointed out that the oak tree in front was not only hollow but infested and considered a hazard.  They suggested we take that tree down because they thought it was likely to fall in a storm.   Luckily even including taking down an extra tree, the second service was able to save us a few thousand dollars off the first estimate.  They did a great job and we definitely understand why they were rated so high on Angie’s List.  I would highly recommend them for anyone in Fairfax County needing some tree work done.

Now that the trees are gone our yard looks huge! I can’t even believe how much room we have now that we don’t have to work around the trees.

Of course even when you’re paying someone else to help out, one project always leads to another. The roots from the backyard have been redistributed since they were bug free (unlike the infested tree in front), and we saved a piece of stump to eventually use in the house as soon as I settle on a location.   I’ll admit the yard looks pretty rough in these pictures but we’ve been working hard every weekend since to clean things up  and I’ll have posts up detailing those projects soon. Soon-ish? Ok, eventually!

How do you decide which projects to contract out and which to do yourself?

Does anyone else have guilt over removing plants and trees from their yard or am I just crazy!?

Won’t you come in?

Montana and I looked at houses online for about a year before we finally bought our house. About a month out we drove around neighborhoods a couple of weekends in a row and scoped out around 30 homes before finally picking a handful we wanted to tour with our agent. When we walked in our stoneybrooke house we immediately felt at home. The layout on the main level was a huge part of that as it has such a great natural flow.

When you walk through the front door, the kitchen is directly ahead.

I love the kitchen because its spacious, open to the family room (living room? seriously who can tell the difference between those two!) and has enough cupboards for all my dishes.

Things I’m not so much a fan of about the kitchen are that the cabinets are mostly laminate other than the doors,

the sink is ridiculously shallow so water gets everywhere when you wash larger dishes,

…and the counters are tile which are very hard to clean.  Also, the kitchen is painted this loooooveelyy rag rolled salmon. Ahh. Unfortunately the previous owners were quite the fans of rag rolling. It’s all over the upstairs too.

Directly right of the kitchen is the family room. I’m so so so excited that we don’t have to tear down a wall to have an open kitchen!!!! The kitchen always seems like the place where people gather at parties so it’s nice to have the living room as a kind of overfill spot. The living room will be Ben’s (the bun buns) area since he LOVES the carpet and it’s something we could tell he missed when we lived in the condo. At the condo he didn’t run around and play so much because he HATED the hardwood floors. Ben’s been exploring the main floor a lot since we moved in.

The family room has a door leading to the car port which got some immediate love when we moved in. Introducing our new Schlage locks!

Connected to the family room and to the right of the front door is the office! How cool is that! Did I mention how this house is SO much more than we hoped for?! Right now Montana’s desk is in there but the sellers left us two desks. One of the desks David is using in his room and the other we have in our room upstairs. Montana’s been dragging his chair up and down the stairs so he can study in quiet and not keep me up. We really need to get another office chair but one thing at a time!

Between the front door and the office is a powder room and Samson’s eating area. We had Samson’s food and water a few places for the first couple weeks we were here but settled on this hallway.  This nook is a just big enough space, it’s on the tile, and its out-of-the-way of where we’ll usually be walking. We had to get him an oversized place mat because Samson could beat any toddler in a messiest eater contest. Guaranteed.

Got to love those hollywood lights. Haha. Oh well…

To the left of the front door is our living room. We’re using all the furniture we had before for now until we get more settled on colors.

The only thing “new” in that room is the TV stand which I found on craiglist last week for $75! So exciting! Our old TV stand was only 46” long which was fine for our 40” TV, but we got a second TV earlier this year that is 60” and is WAY too big for our old TV stand. The “new” TV stand had doors in front of where we have the verizon box and the PS3 and 3 drawers but we removed them to make shelves. We’ll have to clean it up a little more still and I’m considering painting it eventually or maybe just staining it darker.   It’s in pretty good shape though for now so it’s not something that needs to get done right away.

Our dining room is still pretty bare but has our AWESOMEST (yes that is a word) Craigslist find ever. Someone posted this Ethan Allen China Hutch for only $150!!!!! AMAZING considering that similar sets go for $4-$6 thousand there! Yes, it’s from the 80’s but I think it’s gorgeous. This also might get painted but I haven’t decided yet. Part of me feels too bad because it’s in such good condition.


Well that’s it! There’s been lots going on around here so I haven’t been able to post as often as I hoped but maybe things will calm down soon? Yeah, probably not.

Who’s found something awesome on Craigslist lately?

****I looked up the difference between family and living room on Wikipedia and had to switch them around in my post. I had them backwards!