What We’ve Been Up To

Wow – I was thinking it had been a while since I’d posted anything to the blog and it was probably time for an update, but I had no idea it’s been almost a year.  Crazy.  I guess time just got away from me.  Anywho, needless to say, I’m way past due in sharing what we’ve been up to, so here’s a quick look at some of the projects we’ve worked on over the last year.


1) Refinishing Hardwood Floors

This one makes the top of the list based solely on the impact it’s had to the main floor of our house.  We had the original hardwood floors refinished in the dining room and foyer (replacing some pretty worn carpet).  In hind sight, this turned out to be one of the more disruptive projects we’ve done since living in this house, but now that all of the inconvenience is behind us, I can safely say it was totally worth it!









2) Grown Up Curtains

We have curtains – real, grown up window treatments – in the dining room and living room!  This is something we’ve talked about since we started redecorating the main floor, but I was a non-believer.  Custom curtains aren’t cheap and I (apparently) am.  But, after 6 years of living with teal fabrics that no longer matched anything else on the main floor, we decided it was time to bite the bullet and update them.  We figure old ones lasted 20 years, which is a pretty good run for curtains … and the new ones have made a world of difference.  Needless to say, I’m now a believer in “the power” of curtains.

 The “before” pictures:





And, the “after” photos:






3) The Basement

We’ve started working in the basement … sealing it up, cleaning it out, and generally making it nice, bright, and less buggy.  So far, we’ve had new windows installed, sprayed foam insulation around the rim joists, and rearranged all of the stuff down there about 5 times to get better access to the couple of rooms we’re starting in.

photo 1

photo 2


4) New Porch Door!

We have a real door on the side porch now!  Since we moved in, it’s always been a screen door, which really wasn’t a great solution.  The door would get caught in the wind and blow open, it didn’t seal well at all, and generally felt like a “duct tape and chicken wire” solution.  So, we decided it was time to do something more permanent and went with a fiberglass 3/4 glass door that swings into the porch (to avoid the wind issue).  We’ve had it through the winter and have LOVED how much tighter the porch is now that we have a real door.

The old storm door:


And the new door:






5) No More Window Air Conditioners!

It might sound silly, but this was huge!  We had a couple of window air conditioners mounted in the wall – one was in our bedroom and one was in the sunroom.  They were probably a really great feature when those rooms were converted porches to living space long before the house had central air conditioning, but we’d never used them.  As far as we were concerned, they were loud (we could hear everything outside like it was happening in our bedroom), they were no where near air (or bug) tight, and they didn’t look very pretty.  Once they were gone (and the walls patched), we realized we’d lived with them entirely too long.  They are gone, but definitely not missed!

The master bedroom:

In the Master Bedroom


And the sunroom:

In the Sunroom / Family Room



6) New Liner for tbe Pool

This wasn’t exactly a planned upgrade, but we found our pool empty and the liner collapsed when we went to open it last spring, so a new liner it was.  We knew the liner was getting up there in age, so it as really just a matter of time.  Hopefully this means we’ll have some uninterrupted seasons of pool use ahead of us – these pictures make me so excited for warmer weather!  I can’t wait to go swimming with Haley this year – I think she will have so much fun with it!







Anyway, many apologies for the lengthy absence.  I think this brings the blog (roughly) up to date … more to come (hopefully without a year passing in the meantime)!

It’s been a couple of weeks since we installed the new room darkening shades in Haley’s nursery to replace her old wooden mini blinds (which required that the windows also be covered in foil to make the room acceptably dark for napping) … and I’m now realizing that we lived with the foil on the windows for entirely too long.  The new binds are awesome!

Just a reminder, here’s where we started.  Attractive, I know.

As always, installation of shades seems like such a simple task, but was more frustrating than it should be and took about twice as long as we expected.  This had a lot to do with the fact that we ordered the new shades to be inside mounted and the pretty window trim in our old house isn’t perfectly square.  Go figure.  Anyway, no pictures of that, but imagine a lot of tedious adjustments and head scratching … and the shades going up and coming down at least 3 times each before we called it good.

Once all that was worked out, though, I decided that all of (Chad’s) installation-related frustration was totally worth it.  Here are the “After” pictures with the new shades installed:


We picked the Levolor Accordia room darkening cellular shades in lavender (from the “Designer Textures” palette) and we chose the cordless option since they were being installed in a nursery.

The lavender color turned out to be fun and youthful, but more subdued than it might have been, which we think will be a good thing.  It coordinates well with the decals on her wall, her lamp, and the canvas bins on her shelves (although the color isn’t quite as saturated as any of those items), but it’s not so overpowering that the shades will scream purple if we re-do Haley’s room with a slightly different color palette when she gets older.  We’re hoping they should grow with her and be able to stay constant in the room as it evolves.

The cordless option on the shades is really good from a safety perspective and we’re getting used to it otherwise.  I’m not sure if it’s an option I would select again if we were ordering shades for a room where the presence of a cord wasn’t a problem  For one thing, the shades are loud!  It’s not really a problem, just something you don’t necessarily expect from window treatments.  Also, because our windows are so wide, it’s hard to keep the shade straight while raising and lowering it.  Again, not really a problem and it’s easy to adjust them, but it bugs me.  If I don’t pay attention to it, the shades wind up looking like this every time.

We also noticed that lowering the shades is a little more difficult when there’s furniture in front of the window.  We have an old cabinet sitting in front of one of Haley’s windows for her baby monitors (yes, we have two … but that’s another story).  Since the cabinet is a little higher than the window sill, we have to reach behind it to push the shade down every time we close it.  Again, not a major issue, but kind of annoying and something we didn’t think about before ordering the shades.  Might be time to think about a new location for the baby monitors … but, for now, we’re working with it.

Anyway, the new blinds are great overall.  They make the room almost as dark as the foil-covered and Haley doesn’t seem to mind the difference.  The even better part, though, is how bright the room is when the shades are open.  We never actually raised the old mini blinds (just twisted them open) and I never realized how much light they were blocking even when they were open.  I absolutely love how sunny and bright her room is now that we actually make a habit of raising the shades!  The only bad part is that it has become completely obvious how badly the windows need to be cleaned.  I’m ignoring that point.


So, bottom line – shades are up and we love them.  One step closer to a finished nursery for Haley!  Up next:  wall art … assuming, of course, that I can actually make a decision and commit to something …

I’m so excited – I got the shipping notification today that the room darkening shades for Haley’s nursery should be here by the end of the week … which means we should be able to say goodbye to the foil (yes, foil) that’s been gracing her windows for the past month or so.  And I can’t wait!

Her room actually does have blinds already and they’re actually pretty attractive custom wood mini-blinds.  I’m not sure if it’s what we would have picked, but they were there when we bought the house and they worked fine with the rest of her nursery.  While she was a really little baby who could sleep through anything, they worked fine for her, too.


Now that she’s a bit older, though, she’s awake a lot more (which I really enjoy), but naps are also becoming a little tricker.  She no longer sleeps when she needs to regardless of where she is or what else is going on in the room.  Now, things like a crazy dark room and lots of white noise are a big help for successful napping.  And her mini blinds (while pretty) didn’t do such a great job of blocking out the light.  In fact, the window on the west side of the room lit up so pretty in the afternoon, that even with the shade shut, she would just stare at it rather than fall asleep for her nap.  It was fine with her, but not so much with me.

So, to test out the idea that room darkening shades might help with her sleeping, I lined the windows with aluminum foil.  It looks really ghetto and I absolutely hate that there’s no sunlight in her room ever (we spend almost no time in there now), but having the room nice and dark for naps seems to be helping (at least a little – and I’ll take what I can get).


While it’s kind of sad to replace perfectly good (and probably pretty expensive) wood blinds with something different, we decided that she would probably always sleep better in a dark room (we do), so it was worth the investment to install some room darkening shades which (unlike the foil) could be opened to let some sun in when she’s not sleeping.

Since extra time isn’t something that I have a lot of these days, I decided to make things easy and order the same kind of room darkening shades (Levolor Accordia) that we have in our master bedroom – just in a more kid friendly color.  I started by picking out a few likely candidates from both the “Designer Textures” and “Designer Colors” palettes and ordering some free samples so that we could pick something that would coordinate with her room and hopefully continue to work for her as her nursery grows into a big girl room.


In the end, we decided on Lavender from the “Designer Textures” collection.  The samples turned out to be a bit difficult to photograph, but here’s a photo from the Levolor website:


We landed on this color pretty quickly.  After seeing the samples for the “Designer Colors” collection, we realized that the way they were lined to become room darkening made the shades a little shiny, which we weren’t sure we liked, so we eliminated all of those options right away.  From the “Designer Textures” collection, which looks more like fabric, we liked the “Lavender” color and also “Fresh Green”, which would have been a really close match to the curtains in her room, but we were concerned that it might be too much green.  The “Petal” color was a pretty shade of pale pink, but didn’t look right in her room since the pinks we’ve used in there are much darker and the more neutral options seemed awfully bland for a kids room.  I think the “Lavender” color will be nice also since it will add another girly element to the room (which is starting out pretty gender-neutral since we didn’t find out whether Haley was a girl or a boy before she was born).

I ordered the shades a week or so ago from  I’ve ordered some shades from them before for our previous house and it turns out they were running the best promotions (33% off plus an additional 15% off and a free cordless upgrade) again as of a week or so ago, so I placed the order with them again.  I still can’t figure out, though, how it can be that just about everyone runs huge sales on blinds all the time and they’re still so pricy!  Window treatments in general are so outrageously expensive – it just baffles me!

Anyway, I’m counting the days until I can rip that foil off her windows and replace them with some pretty, girly blinds … and then finally take (and post!) some pictures of her nursery in the daylight!

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