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Building Our Home On a Solid Foundation

4 Jan

“As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”
Jeremiah 24:15

These words greet all of our guests as they walk through the front door. They are words that we strive to live by, and while we don’t always succeed, the words are a constant reminder of how we want to run our household.

We had this verse in mind back in March when we first purchased our home. The house was in need of some foundation repair, and as a result, we had holes drilled into the two front rooms of our house so that beams could be placed beneath the foundation. Although it created quite a mess, we used the opportunity to live out the words in our entryway.

We found verses that had to do with building a home and a foundation and wrote them on stationery. Then, we wrote prayers on the back of the paper asking the LORD to help us live out the words we had written. We threw the prayers into the holes before they were filled so that the scripture could literally be the “foundation” of our house. It think it was one of the best improvements we made to the house!

Husband and I have plans to plant more verses around the house in the future, but we want to hear your ideas. What creative ways do you use scripture in your home?

12 Home Improvement Projects for 2012

2 Jan

Happy New Year! Here’s hoping that 2012 is a wonderful year for you and your family. Here at House to Home, we’ve made a few personal resolutions, but I’m more excited to share the 12 home improvement projects we’re determined to complete in 2012:

  1. Get curtains for the living room. This was actually my Christmas present from Husband, so the ball’s in my court. I’m going to work with my mom (an amazing seamstress) to get them made in the next few months.
  2. Add insulation to the attic. We recently added attic access (say that 3 times fast)  in our media room and discovered that the builders decided to skip the tiny detail of adding insulation to that section of the house. And now we know why the media room has such extreme temperature swings.
  3. Clean out the flower beds. Our flower beds are an absolute disaster. In addition to being overgrown with grass, when we had the foundation repaired, many of the bushes died. It would be nice to do a complete landscape makeover, but that is not going to happen this year.
  4. Install a new ceiling fan in our extra bedroom. The ceiling fan in our extra bedroom (aka the one we haven’t decorated) has seen better days. We’ve already bought the replacement, so I’m predicting this will be the first project we complete.
  5. Clean all the window sills and baseboards. I’m ashamed to admit that we haven’t done this for the majority of the house.
  6. Organize our guest bedroom closets. Both closets in our two upstairs bedrooms are filled to the brim with miscellaneous items that we either couldn’t find a place for or didn’t want to part with. With our newly discovered attic space, now’s the perfect time to clean them out.
  7. Hang the TV above our fireplace. Husband got a new toy for the media room (more on this later), so we’re moving our TV down to the living room.
  8. Donate our patio furniture. The one thing we downsized when moving into our house was the size of our patio. We barely have one, and it’s certainly not enough room to house our patio furniture from the apartment. Husband is tired of moving it around every time he has to mow, so he’s especially looking forward to accomplishing this one!
  9. Hang shutters on the front of the house. The second-story window on the front of our house has 2 quaint shutters that are badly in need of a stain. We also want to add identical shutters to the first-floor windows to give our house an inexpensive face lift.
  10. Build an ottoman for our bedroom seating area. More on this later, but I’m going to create a DIY ottoman. This will be my biggest project to date!
  11. Finish the flower beds around our trees. Husband got a great start on this in the fall, but we need to put the final touches on it once it warms up.
  12. Organize the garage. Husband has a master plan for his “man area,” which I’m more than happy to let him handle. I’ve heard him mention plastic drawers, a work bench, and ladder hooks. I’ll keep you updated on the progress.

What’s on your honey-do list for 2012?

The Blind Leading the Blind

13 Oct

As you know by now, there wasn’t much left to our house when we purchased it back in March. When the house was foreclosed the previous owners took all of the blinds and window treatments. Husband and I thought replacing the blinds would be one of our easiest projects, considering the renovations we were planning, but we were wrong.

As newbie homeowners, we thought windows (and thus blinds) came in standard sizes, so we took some generic measurements and went merrily on our way to Home Depot. Little did we know that this would be one of many trips because blinds are cut down do the exact measurement of the windows – leaving a 1/4 inch gap on each side for the brackets.

But, we finally got it right, and the managers at Home Depot were even kind enough to recognize a cry for help when they saw one and allowed us to return the misfit blinds – even though it was our fault. We went with white 2″ faux wood blinds for all the windows, except for our kitchen window where we went with real wood to compliment our cabinets.

So, learn from our mistake and be sure to take exact measurements if it’s ever time to replace your blinds!

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The Cobweb Conundrum

8 Sep

Every Saturday, I roll out of bed and my weekly cleaning of the house commences. Sweeping, mopping, dusting, vacuuming – it varies depending on which rooms we destroyed throughout the course of the week. But there is one thing that is always on my list. Cleaning the cobwebs.

I don’t know where they come from. These little spiders manage to spin hundreds of miniature webs in every nook and cranny of the house in only a week’s time. Sometimes it feels like we live in a haunted house. I’m at my wit’s end trying to find a solution, so I’m wondering if any you have had the same problem and found an answer.

Any tips/tricks are welcome (Are spider’s afraid of guns? We’re fond of those in our house.). But, I am a glass-is-half-full kind of person, so I could look at it this way: Halloween is right around the corner and I won’t have to decorate!

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Water Bill Woes

23 Aug

If there’s one piece of advice we heard from experienced home owners more than any other, it was to be prepared for higher utility bills once we moved into our house. It’s simple math really. More square footage = more space to cool. A yard to take care of = more water usage.

So, we timidly peeked into the mailbox that first month with our fingers crossed and were pleasantly surprised. Both our electric and water bills were not much higher than they had been at our apartment – a fact we attributed to our new A/C system and Husband’s Hitler-like monitoring of the thermostat (I swear he can hear me touch it from 2 rooms away).

Throughout the spring and early summer, we were lulled into comfortable expectations of what the bill would read each month. We were even looking forward to a lower water bill in July once the watering restrictions were being enforced. We had to cut our lawn-watering from 3 times a week to 2, and even though our neighbors’ yards seem to yellow a little, ours stayed fiercely green.

That fertilizer really worked, we thought.

Then came the July water bill. Let’s just say if the picture above represents our water bills from the previous months, the one below perfectly describes July.

Husband’s jaw dropped when he opened the envelope, and he immediately marched into the yard determined to find the leak – the only possible explanation for this atrocity. I offered to help by calling the city and requesting that someone come check our water line for a leak, and they agreed to send someone out the next day. One thing was for sure – we were not paying that water bill.

Then, the next morning I received a hushed call from Husband.

“Hey, um, yeah…call the city back and tell them not to come out,” he said shyly.

“What? Why?” I responded.

“Well, um, I know why our water bill was so high.”

I could tell by his tone that he was choking on the words I was wrong, and they just wouldn’t come out. Finally, he admitted he figured out why our yard was so green. He had cut the sprinklers back from 3 days to 2, but in the process, he had increased the length of time they stayed on and it was enough to make a swimming pool out of a bird bath of a water bill.

Oh, well. Maybe we’ll get Yard of the Month as a consolation.

Style Files: Tips for Picking the Perfect Paint Color

20 Aug

If someone had warned me before I would have rolled my eyes, but after experiencing it, I can now say with certainty: If your marriage can survive picking paint colors, it can survive anything. 

Of all the renovations we made to the house, we both agree that the painting was the most painful. From coming to a consensus on color, to getting it on the wall, to taking it off when we changed our mind, to attempting faux finishes, to learning that a red wall will need at least 4 coats, the process was – well, let’s just say we won’t be painting again anytime soon. (If you’d like to read more about our painting projects, click here and here and  here).

But we survived and we want to share our tips for choosing paint colors so that you don’t have to learn as we did – the hard way.

Tips for Choosing Paint Colors

  1. Samples are your friend. Home Depot has a carousel of sample-size paint that can be tinted to any color. You absolutely must get every color you are considering in a sample size first, paint a section of the wall, then go back for a larger amount once you’ve decided. Yes, this adds an extra step, but it will save you so much headache in the end. Plus, they have these cute little rollers made just for samples – load up on these!
  2. Get several shades. If you think you’ve found the perfect color, get samples in the same family that are both lighter and darker. Inevitably, the color you thought was perfect will either be a little too dark or too light, and you’ll want your other samples for comparison. HINT: You can also ask them to make samples that are a certain percentage lighter or darker than the original – this works just as well.
  3. Paint to a corner. If you paint the center section of a wall, the color that is already on the wall may interfere when you’re trying to decide. Paint all the way to a corner, or as we did, paint a small section in it’s entirety. We chose the end of the island in our kitchen.
  4. View paint during a.m and p.m. Be sure to pay attention to how the paint appears during every light of the day – colors react differently to sunlight, lamp light, etc. We found ourselves staring at the wall, tilting our heads back and forth, thinking “I don’t remember it looking this green last night.”
  5. Larger means lighter. If you have an open floor plan, as many more recently-built homes do, you’ll most likely have a large space that will require the same paint color. For larger spaces, use lighter, more neutral colors. Even if it’s you’re favorite color, it won’t be when every square inch of your house is covered in it!
  6. Don’t be afraid to paint the ceiling. Like tip #6, open floor plans often look great with a painted ceiling – it gives continuity to the space and can even make a room look larger.
  7. Beware of color matching. We made the mistake of tinting a gallon of Behr paint with a  Glidden shade of maroon. When we went back for more, we realized even the computer can’t have a 100% match across different brands, and we were disappointed to find that our second gallon of maroon paint was slightly darker. 😦
We hope these tips keep you from being on a first-name basis with the paint folks at your local home improvement store (as we did). Best of luck with your next painting project!

Before & After: Fireplace

18 Aug

One of the things I was most looking forward to about owning a house was having a fireplace. There are few things I enjoy more during the winter than the smell of cinnamon, the taste of foamy hot chocolate, and the sound of logs crackling on the fire. I’d had the first two in our apartment, but now was my chance to have the third!

So, since I first saw the fireplace in our new home, I’ve been anxiously awaiting colder weather to arrive. Husband, however, was less concerned about lighting a fire and more concerned that the fireplace was quite an eyesore. While the design was nice, the builders had left the stone unfinished, giving it – as Husband called it – a “Styrofoam” look. Husband quickly placed it at the top of his honey-do list, and I didn’t argue.

We decided painting it was outside of our skill set, so we hired a professional faux finish painter and we were thrilled with the results: