Refreshing Our Front Door

Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post, which you know I do pretty rarely, so I promise it’s a good one! I couldn’t pass this one up and I’m excited to share! 

I’m pretty hesitant to do sponsored posts around here. I know they can be annoying for readers (I read a ton of blogs myself, so I get it!) but I think they’re a great tool when they’re done well. I mean, who doesn’t love to learn about awesome new things? So, when I got an email about reviewing a Kwikset SmartCode 913, I was very intrigued. My sister has a similar lock on her front door (and has had it for years) and her family loves it…and I’ve always thought it was so cool.

As intrigued as I was about my sister’s lock, I never really thought we’d be interested in having one ourselves, until a couple of weeks ago. Corey and I carpool to work, which means that every day one of us ends up with the car and drops the other one off. Well, our car doesn’t require the key to be inserted in order to drive (it just has to be in the car with you) and I happen to have an extra car key in my purse. But no extra house key. So one day during the insanely hectic first week of school, I was rushing out of my classroom to pick up Corey and Jackson and I left the actual key ring (with the house key) laying on my desk at work. But, of course, I was still able to get home because I had the extra car key in my purse. So, when we got home and suddenly realized we didn’t have a key to get in the house, we weren’t pleased, to say the least. We managed to break into our house, but it was seriously inconvenient and would have been disastrous if we hadn’t been able to break in (we would have had to drive the 25 minutes back to my school, which isn’t fun with a tired, cranky, just-wants-to-be-home husband baby).

So needless to say, when I saw that email I knew we had to try it out.

I was also excited about this little project because I took it as a kick in the pants to get a few other things done to our front door that I’ve been itching to do for a while. Corey and I are pretty good about keeping the inside of our house looking clean, nice, and updated, but the outside? Not so much. We’re those neighbors with the constantly overgrown lawn and bushes, and no matter how hard we try to stay on top of it all we are constantly falling behind. So I decided that with this new lock, we were also going to upgrade a few things on the front of our house and make things look at least a little bit nicer out there. Because, really, when this is what you’re working with, it’s not that hard to make improvements:

Lovely. I absolutely love our yellow door but it was looking a bit worse for the wear (yellow is hard to keep clean!) and the porch light has driven me crazy since the day we moved in. Add to that the out-of-control bushes (not pictured, but trust me when I say you don’t want to see them) and the random crap we have laying around out there (I honestly have no idea why the gas can is there, but it’s been there at least a month!) and you’ve got the perfect formula for the ugliest front porch ever.

What I really wanted to do was re-paint the front door and trim, and completely re-do the flower bed in the front. But to be quite frank we have higher priorities in our house, like the fact that our bathroom is still in complete shambles. So I made myself keep the projects limited to things that could be completed in an afternoon, and for a minimal amount of money. On the agenda?

  • Cleaning the front door
  • Cleaning the porch
  • Putting away the gas can (why is it there??!)
  • Changing out the porch light
  • Changing out the doorbell button

There were a ton more things I would have liked to take on, but this was a good start. Corey worked on installing the new lock while I cleaned the door, and I was surprised at how quick the process was – he was done in about 20 minutes!

It was a very straightforward install, and thankfully the new lock matches our door handle pretty perfectly. The instructions were clear and easy to follow (though honestly, Corey barely even looked at them since it was all so basic) and I think the hardest part of the whole process was deciding what code we wanted to use. You can program up to 16 different codes (so you can have a master code that only you know, plus codes for different people who may need to get into your house), but we’ve only got one in for now.

We both held our breath a little when it was time to test it out, but it worked perfectly! I’m pretty excited to not have to fumble with a key every time we come home (it’s a pain when you’re holding a baby and a million other things), and locking the door is just the press of a button now. I love it! You can, of course, still use a regular key with it, but I’m looking forward to just keeping my key ring in my purse for now…between the car not needing me to insert the key and now the house not needing a key, I’m feeling pretty excited!

You can set it to automatically lock after 30 seconds, but we’ve got that function turned off for now – our door is old and clunky, and you have to press on it in order to get it to lock. So, when we eventually replace this door, we’ll probably use that…it’s an awesome function when you’ve got little ones running around!

We’ve only had the lock installed for a little over a week, but we’re big fans already. I feel pretty good about us continuing to like it long-term, since my sister is still using hers after quite a while!

As for the rest of the makeover? Well, it’s nothing drastic, but I think our entryway is looking a bit more taken care of. You saw the before, but did you notice that rusty, disgusting doorbell? I almost felt bad making people use it…

Now it’s nice and shiny and new. We need to caulk the edges still because it doesn’t fit exactly like the old one did, but it’s looking so much better now!

And, of course, we have the new lights. These probably made the biggest impact since they were replacing awful, rusted fixtures that were obviously from the ’80s. These new ones make a huge difference!

Overall I’m pretty thrilled with this little mini makeover! We obviously still have a long way to go (new paint on, um, everything, new plants in the beds out front, and a new door!) but this makes the whole thing a lot more tolerable in the meantime. And there are no words for how nice it is to not have to fight with a key when I’m getting home from work and trying to juggle carrying all of my stuff and Jackson – pressing those little buttons is so much easier!

Would you ever have a keyless entry for your house? Anyone else do any mini updates this weekend?

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?

A New Lamp

This post was written in partnership with Lamps.com. They provided me a lamp to review, but the choice of lamp was all mine and so are the opinions! 

Back when we updated the curtains in our living room last month, one of the very first things Corey and I agreed upon was that the lamp in the living room had to go.

We still love it, but with the blue curtains it just wasn’t working – too much blue in that one little area, and we wanted something that would contrast a little and wouldn’t just blend in completely with the curtains like this one seemed to. We weren’t really actively looking for anything yet, we just knew that eventually we’d be replacing that for something else.

Then, I ended up getting contacted by the awesome people at Lamps.com who wanted me to review a lamp for them. It was meant to be! They gave me a few suggestions of lamps but told me I could pretty much choose what I wanted, so Corey and I spent a while pouring over their website trying to decide which one we liked best.

Once I saw it, I knew pretty quickly that this guy would be coming to live in my home.

It’s the Clear HGTV Table Lamp and I’m smitten. This lamp is much smaller than the one we had here previously, which is not exactly what we wanted, but we are both absolutely head over heels with the look of it in this room. The pretty cork lampshade adds a really awesome texture that this room was desperately needing, and I am always a huge fan of plain ol’ glass lamp bases.

We have debated putting the lamp on a few books or something to make it look taller, but I think we’re both adjusting to the new size of it and I actually like it now. It settles into the background a little more nicely than our old lamp did while still providing a little bit of color contrast, and it just seems to layer right in the room without sticking out too much – like it was meant to be there.

I don’t know if it’s just a coincidence, but ever since we got this lamp I have found myself using the lamp light in the room much more than the overhead light. I love our fan and overhead light in the living room, but it doesn’t actually give off very much light, and it has a definite yellow cast to it (and I’m too lazy to change the bulb since the ceilings are about 7 million feet high there). But between this lamp and the floor lamp on the other side of the couch, it’s usually plenty of light for us throughout the day and into the early evening. I like the cozy feeling it creates in the room and it really makes me understand why so many designers talk about adding lamps to a room. It makes a huge difference in the entire feel of the room, and I’m obsessed.

Of course, for the past month or so the room has been very well-lit between these two guys and all of our Christmas lights…now that those have been taken down I may have to get a third lamp for the room to make up for it!

Overall I can safely say that Corey and I are both extremely pleased with our new lamp, and I kind of want to get one for every room in the house. Who knew all it took to capture my heart is a cork lampshade?

How do you use lamps in your home? Anyone else find a new lamp obsession lately?

De-Cluttering the Living Room

I know, I know. Sounds like the most boring post ever.

But it’s not what you think.

Back when we originally installed our homemade curtains in the living room, Corey and I both loved them. They were fun, bright, and made us happy.

But after almost two years of them, we’re both kind of over it. While we still love the colors and the pattern, it was definitely limiting us in what we could do in there – with that much pattern on the windows, there wasn’t much we could do elsewhere. And visually, I felt like they were just way too much – I felt like they made the room feel cluttered all the time.

We were both ready for a change.

So, we did some searching and fell in love with these Threshold brand curtains from Target. They’re much more neutral (only one color) and they still have a pattern, but it’s not too busy. While we were at it, we decided to go ahead and upgrade our curtain rods – we still loved the homemade ones but wanted something a little more substantial and “grown up”.

Mmmmm. I love this change.

The new curtains have a very calming effect on the room and make it feel much less visually cluttered. And they open us up to a whole world of new color options for things like the pillows and the accessories, because there aren’t a million colors in the curtains.

The new rods are gorgeous too – they’re these mercury glass rods from Target, and they feel so much more luxurious and expensive than the old ones (I mean, obviously they’re definitely more expensive than our DIY ones, but they’re still pretty cheap!). We had to buy two rods for the big window behind the couch and use the middle rod from one of them to extend the other rod and make it long enough for the whole window – luckily we found a broken one (the finial was broken, the rest was fine) at our local store and they sold it to us for only $10 – score!

I feel like this little change makes a huge difference in the room and gets us another step closer to where we want to eventually end up in here. We still want to replace the ugly white blinds with something prettier (probably bamboo shades, though I’d LOVE to do white roman shades if they weren’t so dang expensive) but for now, this is a good upgrade.

Anyone else changing out curtains in their home lately?

Trim, Baseboards, and Crown – Finished!

Oh my goodness, y’all.

After about 3 hours of caulking a couple of weeks ago and about 6 hours of painting and cleaning this weekend, I can finally call the basics of our nursery donezo.

FINALLY!

Can we just celebrate that for a moment? Because it’s freaking fantastic.

Let’s back up, though. The last time you saw Monster’s nursery, this is what it looked like:

We have come a long way, my friends, and I’m so excited to share today. So settle in and get yourself ready for a long post, because I have quite a bit to update you on!

Let’s get this out of the way though and show you what you’re in for (got to have a little teaser if I want you to stick around, right?) – here’s what it looks like as of today:

Vast improvement, no?

Let’s talk about how we got there, though. The first step after installing the flooring was getting the bookcases back in place – just that one little step did a lot in making the room feel a little more put together…

And, as you can see in the above photo, we also installed some baseboards. We went with some simple, chunky baseboards from Lowe’s along with some cove molding (instead of shoe, because we prefer the look).

At that point, all of the trim in the room was technically installed, but it still needed a lot of work. Most of it needed a coat of paint (the crown and most of the chair moldings were already painted, but could use some touch ups) and all of it needed to be caulked. It sounds like a simple step, but it’s one of those that makes a huge difference in how polished the room feels…especially when the trim looks like this:

It’s hard to see in photos, but there were gaps all along both sides of the trim, and lots of nail holes to be filled. Oh, and our doors and door casings looked like this…

The yellowed color is not a cute look next to the crisp white wall and trim.

So, I spent an embarrassing amount of time caulking, touching up paint all around the room, and painting every last bit of trim (plus the doors and door casings, and the windowsill). It was exhausting, boring, and incredibly frustrating. But it was oh so worth the effort…

It’s one of those things that’s really hard to capture the drastic change through photos, but Corey (who doubted me when I said all of this needed to be done) walked in the room for the first time after I finished and was completely blown away by how much more polished and complete the room looked with all of this done. It makes a gigantic difference in the entire feel of the room, and it feels so much more finished! I’m so, so happy I put in all the work to get it done…and pretty proud of myself for accomplishing it all at almost 7 months pregnant!

Now that all of the trim work was out of the way, I finally got to put all of the furniture back into place and get everything settled and ready to be decorated. You’ve obviously seen bits and pieces from the above photos, but let’s take a closer look at everything, because I’m pretty thrilled with how it’s all coming together so far!

Whew. Photo overload much? There was a lot to share this week!

As you can see, we’ve got all of the basics in there – changing table, a crib, and a chair. I’m obsessed with the crib we chose (and the mustache blanket hanging over it is just there for decoration for now, we’ll obviously move it once Monster comes along) and after we bought it I found out it’s the same style of crib that I used when I was a baby – how random!

There is still a lot to be done in here, but I feel like we’re finally at a point where the rest is just decorations – the essentials are there. I’ll do a run-down of what’s left on our to-do list next week, but for now let’s just bask in the glory of a TON of nursery progress!

Oh, but in the interest of keeping it real, I feel like I have to show you what you see when you walk out the nursery door…

Yeah. That’s our guest bathroom and it’s completely and totally unusable right now. It’s stuffed to the brim with tools we’ve been using and a ton of stuff to go back in the nursery (or find a new home) and I’m dying to tackle it next. That is definitely next on my list!

What rooms have you been making progress on lately? Any other expectant moms having some crazy nesting urges lately? I feel like I can’t sit still for more than 5 minutes because I just need to get stuff done!