So We Don’t Go Blind…

Remember way (way, way) back last year when we got some new windows?

Well, when we did that, we took down all of the blinds on the windows we were replacing (obviously) and have been (very) slowly replacing them. The windows in our dining room have been on the “to update” list for a long time, but since they’re so large, they’ve been pushed back over and over. Only one of the windows has been replaced so far, so as of right now, it’s looking a little crazy in there.

It looks crazier in person, I promise.

The plan all along has been to get new blinds for both of the windows in here (because we aren’t big fans of the faux wood blinds), replace the curtain rods with the same ones we have in the living room, and change out the curtains for something a little more colorful. All of those things add up to be pretty pricey, though, so we just kept putting it off. We actually bought the curtain rods a couple of months back when they were on sale, but they’re just hanging out in the garage waiting for the curtains. So, all that to say…we’ve done nothing in here.

But! We finally reached a point where we couldn’t handle it anymore. Every evening when the sun sets, it sets right in our backyard – meaning it shines nice and bright right through this window. Guess what time it starts happening? Right around dinner.

It’s fun. You’re just sitting there, enjoying your meal, when all of the sudden you are hit by a ray of light so bright you are momentarily blinded. And it doesn’t go away until the sun goes behind the house on the other side of our backyard, which means you’re often dealing with it for a while.

It also shines into the living room and hits the couch, which means that even if we eat dinner early we’re usually having to deal with it while we try to watch television.

So, yeah. We had to do something about it.

And I’m so glad we did. We decided to go with bamboo blinds in here – which is what we’ve slowly been adding all throughout the house (we currently have them in the kitchen, our room, and Jack’s room). We went with the same color we did in Jackson’s room because we love how they work with the flooring in there, which is the same flooring that will eventually be everywhere.

We’re able to adjust them to just the right height so that they block out the sun until it goes behind the other house, so it works out perfectly. I think they look great, and they bring us one step closer to having the window treatments in here finished – we just need to buy some new curtains (we keep changing our minds about what we want, so it may be a while).

It feels good to do another house update. It’s been quite a while since we’ve actually done anything, so I’m pretty thrilled with this little change. And I’m very excited to be able to eat my dinner without worrying about blinding myself.

Have you made any house updates lately?

The New Windows!

I can’t believe we’ve had these new windows in for two whole week and I’m just now talking about them.

They’re pretty.

I want to kiss them.

(I do. Sometimes. Shh. Don’t tell anyone.)

I explained a while back that we were getting new windows in about half of the house because our old ones were horrible, failing, and just generally making our lives miserable (you think I’m exaggerating, but YOU try cooking dinner when it’s 100+ degrees outside and your kitchen is basically a greenhouse).

It has made a huge difference in the comfort level of our house to have these beauties. The back half of my house no longer feels like a sauna in the afternoon, and we have a much prettier view of our backyard, thanks to the new setup.

I thought it might be fun (for me, at least – I don’t know how much fun you’ll have) (at least I’m honest) to go through all the windows we replaced and see what they looked like before and after. Before we started this whole process, I had NO idea that there were so many different options for window configurations, and it felt super overwhelming when we were starting out.

Let’s start with my favorite one – the dining room. Here’s what it looked like before (all before photos except the kitchen sink window were taken after we took down the blinds):

And here it is now:

Much better, right? We have two giant sliders that both open up (an important note, since not all of the windows opened before. And not because they weren’t supposed to) and an unobstructed view of our backyard.

I have to say, I am NOT missing the three sets of disgusting, chewed-up blinds that we used to have on here, but the windows are looking a bit naked. We have plans to update all of the window treatments throughout the house, but if I’m being honest this one is probably on the back burner for now. We still have pretty good privacy here thanks to our fence and the row of trees in our yard, and the most scandalous thing we might be doing in the dining room is eating dessert before dinner, so I don’t mind if someone wants to peek in.

Next up is the kitchen.

The window above our sink looked like this before:

And looks like this now:

It just looks cleaner, right? Our plan in here for window treatments is to ditch the curtains (I love them in theory, but they just don’t work for us in real life) and put up a bamboo blind for some texture and call it a day. It will probably stay up most of the time because I love having a view into the yard when I’m doing dishes, but I still want something there because as much as I love naked windows in photos, it feels weird in my own home.

The bay window area in the breakfast nook looked like this before:

And is much prettier now:

I am SO glad we decided to go with a big picture window in the middle instead of a window that opens. We rarely open windows in our house, anyways (because we live in Texas and there are maybe two weeks out of the year where it’s even feasible to do so), and when we do we never really open this one.

Once again, we’ll end up with some sort of window treatment in here eventually, but we aren’t sure where we’re going to land yet. It’s such a big area that I feel like we need something neutral-ish, but I also don’t want to be too boring. We’ll see where we end up!

Now let’s head upstairs to see the two windows we replaced up there. First up is the reading room window – we originally hadn’t planned on doing this one yet, but when we were working on it a few months ago we noticed that the window didn’t actually close all the way…which is kind of a problem. We thought about going ahead and knocking out both of the extra room windows, but it saved us about $500 to just go with this one, so we did. Having all of our windows actually close is kind of a priority, you know?

That’s the before, and here’s the after: 

Once again, much better! Now that this is in, we can finally finish up the trim on this part of the room (we were waiting for the new window) and trim out the window/add a window treatment. We have no idea yet what route we’ll go in here for a window treatment – all I know is I’m dying to get that trim finished up!

And finally, our master bedroom. Before:


So pretty! This is one that I’d actually love to leave naked because I think the view of our giant tree is just fabulous, but unfortunately having it open also gives all of our neighbors and anyone passing by the house a nice view into our bedroom. Which we don’t want. Right now we’re still rocking the too-small white curtains that we’ve had forever, but they’re going to get upgraded, stat. I think we’re going to go with curtains only in this room (no blinds or shade), so that we can leave ‘em open during the day and close them at night – best of both worlds! We’ll, of course, make sure the curtains are actually the right size this time.

And with that, you’ve seen all of our new windows! It’ll be awhile before we get around to the next set of windows, because we want to spend some time paying off these guys (and our new garage renovation, which is still chugging along!), but I think with our next round we’ll finish the upstairs, and then down the road we’ll replace the last few downstairs.

Have you ever had windows replaced? It makes a huge difference!

I Swore I’d Never Do This…

You know how there are those things in your house that are in no way pretty or fun to look at, but they’re functional and kind of necessary so you deal with them? You know – things like toilets, trash cans, and televisions. Well, this is one of those things. I swore up and down for years that I’d never have one of these in my house. But I caved…

Yup, we got a doggy door.

If you’ll remember, our back door used to look like this after we replaced our original door (which is the one that’s BACK on now) with a door Corey’s parents gave us.

I loved all of the natural light, and it looked fabulous, but there was a small issue…

Our dogs had completely and totally destroyed the outside of it with their scratching. Honestly, it was my fault because I rushed through the job originally and didn’t prepare the door properly, but in the end I just couldn’t handle the scratches. I’d been dying to either fix the door or go back to the original one…and then we got Hadley.

You see, this dog loves to be outside. She’s obsessed – which is weird for us, because neither of our other dogs are huge on hanging out in the backyard (especially Cullen, who would never go outside if he could help it). We weren’t used to getting up and letting the dogs out as often as she was wanting to go outside and, lest you think we’re just lazy, she was so bad that she would frequently ask to go outside less than a minute after coming in.

It was annoying, to say the least.

So, we finally broke down and decided to get a doggy door so that she can go in and out as she pleases. I hated the idea of ugly-ing up our dining room, but in the end, functionality won out.

I’ll admit, I was surprised at how easy it was to install the door – I’d imagined it would be some huge ordeal, but all it took was an afternoon and we had a brand new (or, not at all new, but different-looking) door!

First – we tested out the size of the door to figure out how big of a hole we needed to cut, then Corey traced the door with a pencil and got to cutting.

And soon? There was a giant hole in our door.

Not gonna lie – at this point, I was a little freaked out. There’s something slightly disconcerting about having a hole in the door you’re planning on hanging in the back of your house. But, I powered on and got ready to paint the door. We decided not to paint the outside of the door yet (though I’m sure we will in the future!), and we wanted the inside to be black again, since we loved the look on the other door.

This time, though, I took a few precautions and prepared the door a bit more than I had the last time.

I used liquid deglosser to wipe the door down before I did anything – I didn’t see much of a difference after doing this step, but I’ve heard it’s what you’re supposed to do, so I did it. The idea is that it cleans the door off really well, and it’s supposed to cut down on some of the grime that can build up and help the paint stick better. I also primed it with Zinsser Bull’s Eye primer, which is the only primer I will ever use.

A coat of primer and two coats of paint later, and we were good to go. Corey installed the doggy door (all there was to do was put both pieces in and add some screws – no problem!) and then installed the actual door.

And just like that we had a new(ish) door with a doggy door that would hopefully make our lives a lot easier.

The dogs weren’t so sure about the doggy door at first…

But with a little coaxing and a ton of treats, they got the hang of it!

We’ve had the door in for a few weeks now, and the dogs absolutely love it. Cullen (of course) won’t use it unless forced, but that surprised no one. Hadley and Ranger, though? They use it all the time, and Corey and I no longer have to argue over who has to go let the dogs out.

And, really? In the end, it doesn’t look nearly as ugly as I thought it would.

We still have a little work to do to the door – there’s a weird glass enclosure over the window that has blinds built into it, and I hate the look of it – but I’m pleasantly surprised by how it turned out. And, really, even if it was super ugly, the added functionality is enough to make me completely and totally love it.

Have you ever done something in your home you swore you wouldn’t? Anyone else have a doggy door and love it?



A Reindeer Canvas + A Christmas Table

Remember how I told you that I bought two canvases and I was working up the courage to actually do something to the second one?

Well, I did it! That’s right, I finally got around to finishing up the second canvas, and I’m a bit embarrassed about how bit of a deal I made about it…it was so easy! You ready for the how-to? Here goes…

I borrowed a projector from my brother-in-law and set it up in the dining room. Then I found a silhouette of a deer that I liked online and got it as big as I could on my computer screen. I hooked my laptop up to the projector and, voila!

Instant art (well, almost). I traced the outline of the reindeer with a small brush and some red craft paint, then I was able to turn the projector off and get to filling in.

It took me about an hour to get the whole thing painted, and that was all there was to this project! So! Easy! And it makes a pretty big statement in the room too – and matches the rest of our Christmas decor much better than the regular floral print.

I also wanted to share our table setting for Christmas – Corey and I are hosting Christmas day at our house this year, so we spent a lot of time focusing on making an elegant table. We wanted to keep it relatively cheap, so we did our best to add in a few small pieces to accent our standard white dishes – we just grabbed some cute faux bois gold chargers at Target, and some graphic appetizer plates from Crate & Barrel, and we had a place setting that was Christmas-y and cheap to boot!

We also got some faux bois placemats and some red napkins from Target. I like how it ended up being a good mix of woodsy and glam – my favorite combination for Christmas!

Of course, a Christmas table isn’t complete without a centerpiece, so we grabbed some burlap for less than $5 a yard and cut a table runner (I didn’t even sew it – just cut it down to size and plopped it on!) and some mini trees and gold papier mache reindeer to fill up the table. I love how it looks, and it really makes me want to find a nice simple centerpiece to keep on the table year-round!

We had a pretty hard time deciding on what we wanted to do for our Christmas place settings, but I’m thrilled with how it turned out. We ended up with a simple display that will hopefully be timeless and last us for a very long time! I’m excited to get to use it all when everyone comes over for Christmas dinner!

Do you have Christmas plates? I’ll admit – I got a bit obsessive about tracking ours down this year!

A Back Door Upgrade

This is one of those projects that was definitely not on our list of things to complete anytime soon. Our back door wasn’t anything special, but it certainly wasn’t bad enough to actively bother us, and we really had no plans to change anything about it anytime soon. Why would we, when we have so many other problem areas that need fixing first?

Well, all that changed with Corey’s parents decided to buy a new back door and offered us their old one. Theirs has a much larger window (which is exactly what we eventually wanted), so we figured why the hell not?

We got the door from them quite a while ago and it’s just been sitting in our garage – like I said, it wasn’t high on the priority list. But this weekend we finally decided it was time to get it done, so we ran to Lowe’s, grabbed some paint, and got to work.

We decided to go with black for the inside and yellow for the outside. We already had some yellow paint from doing our front door last year, so it was a pretty easy (and cheap) decision to make. We were originally going to go with white for the interior, but at the last minute Corey decided that he wanted to try something new and go for black. I’d been trying to talk him into a black door for a while so I of course jumped at the chance to get my way!

Of course, we ran into a small problem with the yellow side of the door. It’s impossible to tell in the photo, but the coverage was awful. We used up the last bit of yellow paint that we had and we still needed at least one (possibly two) more coats before it looked anywhere near okay.

So, at the last minute we decided to scrap our plans for a yellow back door and go with black on both sides. It was cheaper (we already had the black paint and wouldn’t need to buy any more yellow) and had the added benefit of being MUCH better at hiding dirt. Our dogs are constantly jumping and scratching at the back door, so we knew yellow was going to look pretty grimy all of the time. Hopefully the black will hide the dirt a bit better!

I painted the door on Saturday, and once it was dry it was time to hang it and apply the window film. Our old door had an attachment with blinds in the window, but we hoped for something a little prettier this time around, and we’d really like a full view of the backyard from the dining room. Since the new glass is double-paned, we’re hoping that with some solar-blocking window film it will be enough to keep our dining room from heating up. But you know we’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out!

To install the window film, we just followed the directions in the package. It sounds simple because it was! It was a two-person job for sure, but it wasn’t nearly the nightmare that I’ve heard window film can be. Just clean, spray, attach, and squeegee out the bubbles!

Installing the door was very easy and quick. All we did was pull out the pins from the hinges and pull the old door off…

…then we paused for a minute to watch the dogs play as they dashed outside to wrestle. Ranger is just now starting to get comfortable enough with Hadley to actually play with her (he’s either been exerting his dominance or ignoring her since she got here a month ago), so it was a bit heart-warming to watch them all play together. Or, at least, to watch Ranger and Hadley play while Cullen ran in circles around them and barked.

Once we got back to work, all there was left to do was transfer the old hinges to the new door (Corey measured and had to make new holes for the hinges since the doors didn’t have hardware in the exact same spots)…

…then we just lined up the hinges and replaced the pins and we were good to go!

And just like that, we’ve got a shiny new door in our dining room! This door makes a much bigger impact to the room as a whole and I feel like it actually adds to the room rather than just being a boring old door. I’m always a fan of a pop of black, and that larger window makes me swoon!

The view from the outside is a bit better too!

It still looks a little silly since the color of our house and trim is not at all something that we would have ever chosen (and it doesn’t exactly go well with the black!) but this is a major improvement from the previous color, which was exactly the same as the rest of the house.

(Why hello there! This new window film is very reflective in the evenings!)

So that’s our quick and easy back door upgrade that we weren’t planning on, but we’re so glad we did it!

Have you ever done a project you weren’t planning on, only to totally love it? Anyone else do some door replacing this weekend?