DIY Light Fixtures

I am so glad that I have these pictures saved. I look back at them for a CLUE as to WTF is going on in some areas. For example, see that back wall with the two speakers? Well all I saw when I moved in were cords dangling. #surprisesurroundsoundFTW

Something else I saw? See on the left by the dark brown peg board some, ah, exterior lighting hanging? There's some on the right as well, but those were not to be found when I moved in! So the lights on the left I always thought were decorative, because aren't they CUUUUTE?!

Kidding. They had a bulb in them but I couldn't for the life of me figure out HOW they turned on. Every switch hath been turned! So I figured the bulbs were out? Replacing them meant taking apart the entire fixture, and I knew if the bulb trick worked I would want to get rid of them anyways. So, I destroyed the fixture one day.

And brought it down to just a cord and a socket. Once I was to this point I could get to the cord and trace it, all inspector gadget style. It brought me THROUGH the pegboards and under the staircase to an outlet. Seems legit, cords are made for being plugged in. 

BUT, with a new bulb it STILL wasn't working. BEHOLD, a tiny, almost impossible to detect, switch hidden within one of the pegs. DO YOU SEE IT?!

OMG. Lights worked, Check!

SO, I noodled what to do there for awhile and finally came up with a plan! I bought one of these brackets 2 years ago to do this as a bedside lamp, but never got around to it so it sat hoarding away. I went to ikea last weekend to grab another and complete the pair. I also grabbed a little copper pipe, 2 new sockets, and some little bulbs (the big ones were much too bright for this space #moodlighting). 

To begin, I unplugged the wires at the outlet, because being electrocuted wasn't on my to-do list.

Next I unscrewed the two screws holding in the wires to detach the old socket. I COULD have re-used it, but it has an on/off switch at the top that just WASN'T in the plan. So new one FTW.

Then I threaded this cord through the top hole in the bracket (these came pre-drilled as IKEA doesn't want to ASSUME how you'll hang the brackets.)

It was tough to photograph this AND hold a million things, so here are the next few steps:
- Thread the wire through the brass screw & copper piece (the copper is purely aesthetic while the brass piece came with the socket and will screw into it).
-Take apart the socket (screws are on the inside) so you can get at the screws for the wire
-Wrap each wire around a screw and tighten, then re-assemble the socket.

Are you following? OK. Then I stapled the wire to the top of the bracket, you could let it hang, do you! Then I attached the bracket to the wall.

Woo! It works!

A little paint job later and BOOM, done.

Vinyl Plank Flooring

YOU GUYS, we're in the home stretch of this basement renovation and I am ITCHING to get this place back in order. Couches are stacked, boxes are piling up, and the single digit countdown hath begun for completion. Flooring is the only thing left on the TODO list, carpet has been order (and is on it's way!), and the Vinyl flooring has arrived! Finger snaps all around.


Allow me to back up about this Vinyl flooring deal. The bathroom floor needed some love. The concrete JUST wasn't doing it anymore. There were MANY options I noodled. Tile? HEATED Tile? Cork Flooring (works great in bathrooms!). I needed something durable, and relatively waterproof - because bathrooms ya know.

I stumbled upon Allure Vinyl flooring at HD and was like whaaaaaaaaaaat is this. Some Laminates/Vinyl LOOK fake. Like I can tell immediately that its fake (there is a ribbing across the planks that occur on some brands, ack). BUT this has gotten really good reviews, especially for bathrooms, and I knew it would bring some good warmth into that room. SO, 1 pack of Dark Walnut was ordered!

One week later it arrived, and EXACTLY one box was used to finish the bathroom #goodplanningjenn.


We REALLY liked the look of this, and how EASY it was to install, seriously, SO easy. So we noodled the idea of adding some by the bar area in the living room, ya know, to tie things together all cute with a bow.

4 more boxes arrived a week later. A few days after it came I was all "I'm just going to lay a few and see how it looks" hour later and I was here:

Then I ran into alllllll the angles with the bar which took a little more brain power, but all in all I'd say installation took 3 hours.

So, let's talk about INSTALL a bit. The bathroom was tricky and used every inch of my brain space to complete it. The tricky part is planning out HOW the planks are laid, since there is tape DOWN on one side and UP on the other - see 1st photo above. So, you just need to plan that out a bit.

OH, and make sure your space is LEVEL, very important here, as they are sitting right on the concrete. Ya dig?

To start, you cut off the over hang (face down tape) on two ends (long/short), the end that will hit the two walls you are butting it up against. Cutting just requires a utility knife and straight edge.

For this particular piece I was laying, I needed to cut off the top overhang. I scored the line, and bent the plank to snap.

It takes about 2 scores of a utility knife, then just bend the plank and it'll snap at that line.

This also works when you need to trim it on the other end.

Just measure the length you need, and use a right angle to score the line.

It's also really easy to do tricky cuts. Just cut along those lines with the blade, I used a pliers to bend the planks at tricky spots/small cuts.

Then just align the planks together, and press down HARD. It's good to walk/sit on the planks (or use weights!) to secure them down. You have about 5 seconds to smoosh them together before it starts to get tough to separate them.

Protip: I would test lay a plank over another to make sure it was super snug. To make sure they didn't stick together I would lay a piece of the paper lining that came in the box on the sticky sides.

Then I would ninja slip that out and press the plank down.

I am super happy with how this little area turned out - I think it'll be a great addition to the bar!

Full disclosure: this product is only sold through Home Depot through the manufacturer (so HD has no liability on the delivered product). When it was delivered to my house, they placed the boxes hotdog style leaning against the door - which the instructions specifically say not to do. Because of this I had a few damaged pieces. You should always order 10% more than you need for projects (due to weird cuts/bad pieces) but this error ate up my 10%. So I was short about 5 planks for my project. They gave me a 15% discount on ordering a new one (the manufacturer doesn't allow replacement pieces for this product?). I would highly recommend shipping it TO Home Depot (instead of your house) and opening the boxes there for inspection. Lesson Learned! 

Scope Creep

It's an endearing term used when you start a project and then you're all like woaaaaah that got outta hand QUICK. Something similar is going on in the basement. Project 'get the basement living room LIVABLE' turned into 'oh, also, that bathroom though'.

See corner toilet with electrical panel 
So, there's an itttybittty bathroom in the base. I had grandiose ideas, pipedreams if you will, of adding a shower to this. BUT! The electrical panel is CONVENIENTLY located here. Fact: you can't have an electrical panel in a bathroom! SO, by the grandfathering laws vested in this house, I don't have to move this if I don't take a demo hammer to this place. OKAYFINELAWS YOU WIN.

BUT! This bathroom still needed some love to not look so...unintentionally industrial. You see, for the past two years it's had a concrete floor...because SOMEONE wanted to flood that summer (looking at you air conditioning overflow pan thinggie). Peace out red crocodile carpet.

So cute and modern right??

ANYWAYS, since a paint brush has been attached to my hand these days, I slopped on a few coats of primer and noodled on a wall color. BUT, I was really digging the white (it was a gross cream color before)! The room has zero windows and is pretty cave like - so White it is! Simply white to be specific (overflow paint from the Kitchen FTW!).

Then, I needed to tackle the countertop. As you can see this was BUILT in, conveniently, UNDER the shelving unit (which strategically hides a waste pipe).

So instead of making a GIANT mess, I thought i'd try out a nice little product I was GOING to use on the kitchen counters (talk about scope creep outta control) before butcherblock won my heart over.

Spoiler alert - also used this in the living room! (photo obvi represents post-first coat) 
It was SUPER simple, just tape everything off, wear 8 million respirators (because WOAH I haven't used oil based paint in a while) and roll on a few coats. It gets sticky quick so you need to be ninja fast, but it's pretty good at leveling itself out.

Next up - faucet, flooring and a few finishing touches! Woo Progress!


I've done little recaps for the past three years (2013, 2014, 2015), and I LOVE looking back on them, fondly recalling the days of taking a demo hammer to my bathroom, or spending hours outside ripping up bushes. SO HERE WE ARE! 2016. And what a great year it's going to be :)

Before we gush at how awesome it'll be let's look back at 2015 and give it some fist pumps and confetti poppers. SO much got accomplished, more than I expected, and better than I thought. I jumped into the kitchen renovation at the beginning of the year, and JUST posted the cute little after shots #procrastination. HA.

Wanna look back at it all and stroll down memz lane? SURE YOU DO.
Painting the kitchen
Painting the dining room
Cabinet doors
Countertops round Deux
Backsplash & grout

Honestly, I LOVE how it turned out. So bright and fresh. Are there things that bug me/i'd do different next time? OF COURSE. I was talking to my pal at HD (LOL) and he said he built his house by hand (OMG) and decided to rent it out because all of the little imperfections that HE did/chose bugged him so much! I feeeeeeeel you dude. I put my heart, sole, and many broken fingernails into this, so if something is off, it's on ME. but WHATEVER. I learned SO much doing this and I can't wait to do it again (call me insane?).

I tackled 3 rooms this year. The Kitchen, Dining Room, and Spare Bedroom. Basically I painted everything in the house until I passed out. OMG think how awesome it would be to paint ALL SURFACES of a house before you move it. WHAT A GOOD IDEA. omg.

OTHERTHINGS that happened this year of note around the house....Landscaping! I really like how the yard shaped up to be.

Once winter hit I started working on the last few rooms in the house which haven't been slapped in the face by a paint brush. First up was the storage room turned craft room and I ended the year by starting the great basement paintathon of 2015. And OMG spoiler, I am seeing the light at the end of the basement tunnel. Flooring has been ordered...eee!


Guess what! I did things UNrelated to renovating my house this year! Imagine that. It was actually a pretty great year. I became a BEEKEEPER. And might still be one in the spring...fingers crossed the little guys make it! #hibernationishard

And I traveled! Shocker, I know! Renovating homes and traveling are my kryptonite, sorry i'm not sorry. The famdam and I went to Mexico and Duluth, which were both AMAZE. I really think our Mexico trip was the best family vacay yet. (Hey fam - is it too late to go this year??!) And I finally made it to South America by way of RIO and Paratay to visit a friend! SUCH a great trip.

But what tops it all, and what is going to make 2016 the best year yet is something that happened last March:

All the heart eye emojis.

I hope you all had a great 2015, cheers to 2016! And thanks for reading, I never mention that because I honestly think i'm just typing this to the internet gods. But I know a few family members are out there reading this, so SUP GUYS! Thanks for stopping by and listening to me ramble.