Archive for June, 2011

June 26, 2011

The Birthday Dog

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Let me first say – this post is not exactly house-related. But Ethan took some great pictures yesterday, and I just felt the need to share. Be warned though, they’re all of the dog…

Yesterday was Abby’s birthday. Maybe it’s a little crazy that we know the dog’s birthday  (it’s on her AKC paperwork…it’s not rocket science) or crazier that we actually remembered it. Or even crazier that we did something special for her. But it’s not like we threw a party, made a cake, invited her friends and put on party hats, so I’m thinking this ranks pretty low on the crazy scale.

Abby loves rawhide bones. So we bought her the biggest bone Petsmart sells…

She was not very patient as I tried to remove the shrink-wrap. Scratch that. She went absolutely nuts – uncontrolled barking and jumping around in circles. But rightfully so. That bone is huge!

Oh, and I was still covered in paint from some weekend projects. Lookie there – this post IS house-related! (Yeah…it’s a stretch.)

The only thing Abby loves more than rawhide bones, is trips to the park. So we took care of that too. After dark of course, so we have the place all to ourselves – she’s a rather social dog and not all park-goers are appreciative when she runs over for a “visit.”

When we get to the park, we always hit up the slides. Yes, slides. On the playground. Come on – how cool is it that our dog does slides?!? It makes me laugh. Every time.

{Trip One – Running}

{Trip Two – Belly Slide}

{Trip Three – Flying with Frog Legs}

{And her best Marmaduke impression}

So there you have it – a super exciting Saturday night. I promise the next post will be much more house related. Thanks for indulging me!

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June 24, 2011

Getting Back into the Swing of Things

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

If you haven’t noticed, Ethan and I have been taking a much-needed break from home improvement projects. Painting just wasn’t high on the list of things I’ve been wanting to do in my spare time. And since this DIY adventure is a marathon, not a sprint, we decided that was a-okay. Then last weekend, we started looking around at all our half-finished projects. Since almost every room is rocking that “under-construction” look, we decided it was time to get moving again. And what better place to start than the half bathroom?

Since the drywall guys FINALLY finished their work (it only took 4 separate visits), I was able to prime the walls & ceiling. Then I slapped a fresh coat of paint on each – Benjamin Moore Decorator White on the ceiling and Sherwin Williams Light French Gray on the walls. (There’s nothing like a self-inflicted deadline to make this indecisive designer finally choose a shade of grey.) After painting, our next step in the half bath was tile. One day for laying it with thinset mortar, and another day to grout (the thinset has to dry completely before you can grout). When I got home this evening, the tile crew was hard at work. And they were a rather mouthy bunch…

“I will never lay tile in this house again unless it’s 24″ or bigger. These little tiles are a pain!”

“You should be hog-tied, hanged, drawn, quartered and burned at the stake.”

Did I mention the “crew” consisted of my dad & Ethan? One teaching the other to tile. I’ll let you guess which comment is from which guy. Gotta love ’em.

So here’s where the bathroom stands now.

Isn’t it looking great? I’m so excited to get it finished out this weekend. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll do a little more painting!

June 9, 2011

Dirty House? Clean It Up!

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Summer is officially here. And the heat is downright oppressive. Temperatures actually reached 105 in Houston this week (can you believe it?) So what home improvement project did we decide to tackle? An outside one of course!

Ethan’s work week has been a very atypical one, and he’s had a few very useful things on loan. First is the biggest truck I’ve ever seen. Crew cab, extended bed, rubber floors…just riding in this thing made me feel like a real Texan. And it made me want to start a contracting business (you need the truck first, right?) Plus it made us feel like big dogs on the road. Would you believe this truck sits high enough to almost be eye-level with big rig drivers? Ca-razy. Ethan had to return the beloved loaner today, so we’re still mourning the loss. I think we need one for ourselves….don’t you?

Big truck aside, the most important piece equipment on loan this week was an industrial-strength power washer (insert Tim-the-tool-man-Taylor grunt here).

{in case you’re real perceptive, this is our neighbor’s driveway…and house}

We’ve really needed to clean the brick, and some places were definitely dirtier than others. For example, our chimney. We’ve yet to use the fireplace since we’ve moved in, for fear of burning the entire place down. So this is all previous owner muck, and I’m very happy to see it go!

In addition to the brick, Ethan discovered that our pathetic looking fence was power-washable too! (Is that even a word? If not, I’m claiming it to be one as of right now.)

I’m not gonna lie. This probably isn’t the best solution for a 25ish year old fence – the power-washer beat it up pretty badly (not that it was a jewel to begin with). But for the time being, a clean beat-up fence is much nicer than a dirty, mildewy beat-up fence.

Oh…our poor house. But it’s starting to look much better than the day we bought it!

So the power-washing is done – another thing we can mark off that master list! I’ll claim this a successful week in our world of home renovation!

June 8, 2011

The Master Bedroom Breakdown

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

Since I alluded to it in my last post, I thought you guys would love to know the whole story of our master bedroom renovation. We did this one in the days before the blog, and I kind of explained things in this post, but you deserve a start-to-finish story. One with before & after pictures and all the nitty-gritty details!

Let’s start with the basics. This is what the master bedroom looked like on HAR (our local MLS service). Somehow, this made us want to check out the place in person (well, probably not this room in particular).

And here’s what we found on our first walkthrough – the famous “person-sized hole” picture. Those sneaky realtors & their deceptive camera angles!

Before we moved in, I wasn’t so sure about this room. To me it seemed dark, dingy, and slightly scary. (I don’t know why, but our house kind of creeped me out in the beginning.) The reason for the hole (or the story we’ve fabricated) was this – there was a broken PVC pipe in the attic and there’s ample access because the attic space above our bedroom is full-height, with enough room to stand up straight. We figure someone tried to fix the broken pipe, but fell through the ceiling in the process. Hence, “person-sized hole.”

Later we found the pipe was the condensation line from our air-conditioning unit. When the AC was on, water poured from the broken pipe, through the master bedroom ceiling, and onto the carpet (why did we buy this house??) So that was one of the first fixes Ethan & my dad made before moving day. Once the pipe was fixed, there was the ceiling to deal with. After evaluating the time & money it would take to repair the ceiling ourselves, in addition to our lack of expertise in the land of drywall, we decided to hire it out. And thank goodness, because we might still be sleeping upstairs if we hadn’t!

Before the drywall crew came in, there were some changes I wanted to make to the ceiling layout (enter the interior designer with a plan). Here’s what we were dealing with.


Yes, you’re seeing that right – only two can lights to illuminate the entire room. It was incredibly dark and that just wasn’t going to cut it. I really wanted 4 can lights, essentially in the 4 corners of the room, so the entire space would be lit evenly. There was just one problem. My ideal can light location was the exact spot of the air vents in the room. So what did my dear husband do? He moved them for me! (It’s a lot more complicated than it sounds. He actually had to buy new duct work & run it in the attic…not the most pleasant job in the middle of July). Here you can see the old & new air vent locations.

After we removed the one can light you see above, our drywall crew patched up the “person-sized hole” (covered by plywood in this picture) and the far air vent holes (closest to the window), along with various large holes in walls throughout the house.

And since Ethan & I like to tackle everything at the same time, we were painting as well. My brother & his girlfriend were a HUGE help (thanks again guys!) and tackled the ceiling & walls. But Ethan & I were left to do trim work in the evenings. Did I mention we had no lights at this point? We were painting by candlelight strategically positioned lamps.

And did you know that painting trim takes forever? First there’s all the prep work (tape, sand, putty holes), which is a complete pain in and of itself. Then we needed at least two coats of paint because the new trim color was so much lighter than the existing paint. No wonder we’re dragging our feet with all the trim & door painting upstairs!!

But back to the master bedroom. Here’s an awful iPhone picture as we finished up the trim work on a Saturday morning (note the existing yellow door…it’s still yellow today). In case you’re wondering, all the paint is Benjamin Moore (Walls – Grey Owl, Trim – Super White, Ceiling – Decorator White).

At this point, we’d just brought Abby, the (very little) puppy, home with us & were desperate to move into our master bedroom. Reason being, she woke up 2 to 3 times each night to go out, wasn’t allowed upstairs (and still isn’t) and neither Ethan nor I could hear her itty bitty bark from our upstairs bedroom. So we took turns sleeping on the sofa with her for a few weeks until the master bedroom was habitable. We were both completely sleep deprived, but how could you be mad at this adorable face??

Or this one?

How about this one?

Oh my goodness – I forget how cute she was! (Probably because I was so sleep deprived.) Don’t you just love looking through old pictures?

Well, we eventually moved into the master bedroom. It took a few more months to install the new can lights (with a ridiculous amount of help from Ethan’s dad), but that seemed like a bonus after all the other work we did! Here’s the current after/progress picture. You may notice that we installed wood blinds as well. Not just in this room, but throughout the house.

I’m not calling this “after” or “finished” because we still have some work to do – new carpet, furniture & draperies, just to name a few. But for the time being, I’m pretty proud of everything we’ve done!

June 5, 2011

Grand Plans

by Melissa {The Dominion Project}

The other day a friend asked if we had a list of projects for the house. And the answer? Of course there’s a list! I’m a planner, a carefully-calculated decision maker, and above all, a listmaker. But I’m not just any listmaker. I’m the list-making daughter of a list-making mother. (Did you follow that?) I’ve actually been known to put an already-completed task on a list, just so I can scratch it out. Yeah, I’m one of those people.

Since we’ve been in the house nearly a year (can you believe it?) AND I keep losing the notepad our list is written on, the blog seems like the perfect place to document it. Just don’t hold me to anything. It’s an ever-changing collection of projects and I reserve the right to change my mind.

{Finch & Hawk Paper Goods via Hello!Self}

Before we moved in, I promised Ethan that I wouldn’t get all designer-y on this place. Just because I had an amazing idea, or saw something cool in a magazine, didn’t mean I had to use it on my own home. Not to mention we could spend an absolute fortune and never see a return on the invested time, money & hard work. So we decided to look at things very logically. If we were flipping this house, what are the bear-minimum upgrades we would make? So here it is…


1. Make the master bedroom livable.

  • Repair ceiling {check!}
  • Paint walls, ceiling, & trim {check!}
  • Reconfigure air vents  {check!}
  • Install new downlights  {and check!}

Sleeping in the master bedroom was Priority Numero Uno when we moved in, so relatively speaking, we knocked this room out pretty fast. Plus we were on that “I just bought my first house & can’t wait to do something to it” adrenaline high. From there, well…we strayed. You might note that this was our intended order of accomplishment…

2. Lose the awful paint colors (check them out here)

  • Paint upstairs walls & ceiling  {check!}
  • Paint dining room & entry…walls, wainscot/trim, ceiling {it’s a work in progress…}
  • Paint kitchen (just the walls & ceiling) & mudroom {not even close}
  • Half bath renovation/upgrades {we’re working on it}
  • Paint upstairs trim & doors {we’re in the middle of that too}
  • Replace carpet {haven’t even thought about it…we’re still painting!}

And somewhere in there, we were supposed to repair/rebuild our back fence. That was before we got a dog. It still (desperately) needs to be done, but I think Abby has become rather fond of her personal peep-hole. This is where she keeps tabs on the neighborhood kids.

3. Tackle the exterior (This was planned for the cooler months – as in last Fall/Winter. So until next year…)

  • Exterior wood repair (siding, sills, garage)
  • Paint exterior
  • Treat roof & replace flashing {check? we replaced the roof after some hail damage last August}
  • Powerwash brick {in progress…stay tuned!}
  • Garage shelving

4. Start working on BIG renovations!

  • Master bath overhaul (essentially, it needs to be gutted…fun, fun)
  • Upstairs bathroom renovation
  • Living area & kitchen decisions (to paint or not to paint the paneling, replace floors, etc.)
  • Full kitchen renovation (counters, backsplash, paint cabinets, new appliances, etc.)

So there you have it – a list. We fully intended to be working on the master bath by now, but it’s all about the journey, right? If we could only finish the painting projects!

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