Archive of ‘Before’ category

Beam me up Scotty!

Yeah. That title should put me in a few nerdy Google searches.  😉


Anyway…. We’ve been gone much of this week because we have an awesome boss who also happens to be even better friends.  They took the whole company and all their families to Great Wolf Lodge in Kansas City and we had an awesome time!


Hanging at Great Wolf Lodge!

We are quite certain this munchkin adores the water.

Hanging at Great Wolf Lodge!

Cutest thing ever!

Hanging at Great Wolf Lodge!

She’s also addicted to water slides of all sorts!  She would tootle to the top all by herself and the look of sheer joy on her face every time she slid down was priceless!

Hanging at Great Wolf Lodge!

After all… Daddy (AKA: Handsome Man) was always at the bottom to catch her and that’s just pretty cool! 😉

Hanging at Great Wolf Lodge!

She did these over.  and over. and over.

She was soon exhausted!  Yay for wearing out the kiddos!  We basically had to pry her away from the slides when it was time to leave.  lol!

Anyway…. The day before we left for Great Wolf Lodge, we actually got the BEAM installed and our wall GONE!!! Whoop whoop! (Ahhhh…. Now the title makes more sense….)

Beam installation at the new house at

Finally after all the rigamarole that getting the correct sized beams entailed, we went with Menards to get the laminated beam.

(They were the ones who gave us the smallest number for necessary beams. lol!  And it still seemed like overkill.  I mean really? We aren’t talking another floor above or anything… Just the roof.  But I suppose overkill is better than a saggy roof, right? 🙂  )

Beam installation at the new house at

First… Handsome Man built a temporary wall directly next to the first one.  (It pretty much looks like the old one.  lol!)

Beam installation at the new house at www.diyinreallife.com1 of 4 beams installed! Whoop whoop!

Beam installation at the new house at

More of the black poodle hair insulation.  So ready to be done with that stuff! Ick!

Beam installation at the new house at

After all 4 beams were up, we installed the cross beams on the other wall.  (It supports one end of the massive beams on the load bearing wall)

Beam installation at the new house at

Then we REMOVED the wall!!!  Have you ever seen anything so amazing??!  The place is huge now!!!!!

Beam installation at the new house at

After that, it’s on to finishing the wood floors… Getting closer!!!!

Planking – And no I’m not referring to exercising.

Yeah… I’m 3rd trimester.  I don’t plank.  Not the exercising version anyway!


The building-a-new-wall-and-planking-it-type? That I can do! 🙂



New house at

So when we bought the house the railing by the stairs was obviously original… You know, back before they had regulations as to how close together the spindles had to be and stuff.  So as it was, Emma was having a hay day shimmying through the spindles and I was envisioning an 8 month-old new mister innocently scooting across the living room floor and falling.  Besides that the railing was rather wobbly anyway.  We decided to just go ahead and rip it out and start fresh.



New house at

First Handsome Man built the 2×4 wall.  Rather quickly too!  I was impressed with how fast it all went together!  (We did opt for a taller wall this time as Emma is a climber and the worried momma in me felt better about a taller wall.  lol!)

New house at

Then we started planking the wall with car siding from Menards.

New house at

I think I’m really going to love it when it’s done! Yay!

I think I'm really going to love it when it's done! Yay!And in addition to the partially finished wall, we’ve started installing the wood flooring in the living room!  There’s just something AWESOME about putting stuff IN instead of only ripping things OUT! 🙂

New house at

Because installing wood flooring in your superhero pajamas tucked into your tall socks while wearing crocs is totally the best way to do it! 😉

Sorry ladies… This sexy man is taken!

New house at

Such a beautiful sight!  Those first couple rows take the longest… Getting all set and ready to roll.  After that, it’s a breeze!

New house at www.diyinreallife.comThe first evening we got it all started and set and laid 3 feet of flooring.

New house at

Then we went over tonight for a few hours and knocked out another 6 feet.  So we’ve done a total of 9 feet of flooring!! Whoop whoop!

We can do another 3 feet before we need to stop and wait to get the beam in the load bearing wall.   Handsome Man and our construction guy are working on it and *hopefully* they can get down to the city to have it approved and the beam ordered this week yet!

*Crossing fingers!*

I’ll keep you posted on all our PROGRESS!!!!

Secret Office Remodel…

So my last good week before I dropped into the pit we call first trimester, we worked on pretty much my favorite project ever.

And I fully acknowledge I say that phrase often declaring this or that project my favorite project ever… But this time it really was!  And I’m fairly certain it will stay my favorite project for quite some time!


Sam’s boss (also our awesome friend) went on vacation and since he was gone, we (and when I say we, I mostly mean his wife Emily) brainstormed on how to do a week-long remodel of their office they had recently rented.

So for weeks, together we talked… compiled inspiration pictures… drew up plans… All in secret.


We had 5 rooms to complete in about 5 days. Thank goodness we had lots of help!  A couple of the guys that also work for the same company in Manhattan put in a ton of work on it and we even recruited some other friends and family to paint, etc…

It was awesome!

And totally felt like we were doing a HGTV show! Ha!  Time crunch… Lots of help… Total overhaul on a space… 🙂


Anyway… On to the pictures!  I’ll give more details later! 🙂


Office Remodel Before/After at

Reception Room

Office Remodel Before/After at

Allyn’s Office

Office Remodel Before/After at www.DIYinRealLife.comConference Room

Office Remodel Before/After at

Brandon’s Office

Office Remodel Before/After at

Group Office

See what I mean??!




Trunk Overhaul!

So I had this trunk… This cool, old, ratty looking trunk.  It was awesome.

Trunk Overhaul at

Yes this trunk.

And in true Nicole fashion… I forgot to take a good before picture.  This was the only rather old picture I had of it.

Anyway… It was a little dark colored, but I really loved the natural patina. (Anyone else feel extra sophisticated saying those last two words together? No? Just me?)
I was happy to leave the trunk exactly as-is.

That is until the munchkin came along.  When they say, “kids change everything” they aren’t joking.  Even little things like trunks.

So when Emma first started scooting, she decided that for whatever reason, she liked the taste of the slightly deteriorated burlap type fabric on the outside of the trunk.

That awesome patina I once thought the trunk had became nasty-gross-stuff-I-was-constantly-fishing-out-of-my-child’s-mouth.

The trunk was no longer a source of delight.

My slightly mobile child was drawn to it like a moth to a bug zapper.

Like a flea to a hound dog.

Like a cockroach to a…. I’m just gonna stop.

We’ve been cleaning out two of the rentals where we had some bad tenants.  I obviously have bugs on the brain. Ew.

Anyway, I digress.

I decided I needed to do SOMETHING about the trunk in order to save my daughter from herself.

Trunk Overhaul at

First I ran some vaseline along the edges of the wood strips with the tips of my fingers.  Then I painted all of it (burlap material and all) with a light turquoise color I had.

Trunk Overhaul at

Then I glazed it with the same stuff I used on this table.  Which was awesome because it showed off all the texture and gave made that turquoise a tad less bright.  It deepened it to an awesome color!

Trunk Overhaul at

After adding industrial looking casters on the bottom, it makes a PERFECT side table in the living room that I keep chock full of games!

I love it SOOO much now!

Isn’t it awesome how sometimes circumstances force you to change something you loved only to find out you LOVE it even MORE afterwards??

SCORE!!!! 🙂

New Year Goals: Free Printables

Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year!  How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!

So this morning I worked on a list of goals for the house this year.  We have most of the “big” projects done here on our little previously-forclosured home, but sometimes it’s a little too easy to skip the little odds and ends.

You know…. The little trim here… The caulking there… Things that really don’t take that long, but over the weekend we could take an hour or two to complete.

Here’s what I came up with:




Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year!  How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!

Obviously there are things I’ll want to add to this list as the year progresses, but this was the list I came up with for now.

Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year!  How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!

Then I split those projects up by month.

I put the more important things in earlier months…

Outdoor things in the Spring/Summer…

And left the later months open as I add more things to the list.

I made it super attainable and didn’t go overboard.  You’ll notice the winter months have more projects… That’s because we have a wee bit more time in January than July since Handsome Man is a roofer! 🙂

I also color coded the to-do list.

RED=Handsome Man



Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year!  How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!

I thought I was exceptionally witty due to the fact that together red and blue make purple…

But maybe that’s just because the munchkin has decided to forgo sleeping at night lately and I’m merely sleep deprived.

That’s quite possible.

ANYWAY! Handsome Man and I really do best with lists and deadlines so I think this will be super helpful!!

If you are a deadline operator like us, I made a couple free printables just for you!

Go crazy and get some goals organized!!

Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year!  How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!

 {Click here to get this House To-Do PRINTABLE!}

Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year!  How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!

{Click here to get this House To-Do PRINTABLE!}



Good luck with projects in the upcoming year!!   Let me know if you try this and how it goes!!


Tips on creating a Home Improvement to-do list for the new year! How plans on keeping motivation on track to finish the odds and ends!




Linking up at:


Twig Studios

Redhead Can Decorate

DIY Home Sweet Home

Tip Junkie

Home Stories A to Z

Ginger Snap Crafts

Domestically Speaking

Mad in Crafts

The Blackberry Vine


Finally!!!!  THE FINAL REVEAL!


Bathroom Remodel by






What started as THIS….








Ended up like THIS:

Bathroom Remodel by



Bathroom Remodel by



Bathroom Remodel by



Bathroom Remodel by



Bathroom Remodel by



Bathroom Remodel by



Bathroom Remodel by




So here’s the run-down of my to-do list.

*Tear out all old lathe & plaster

*Tear out wall between closet and bathroom making them one larger room

*Re-install new plumbing

*Re-install new electric

*Tile the floor

*Install new shower/tub

*Install drywall

*Have drywall guy finish the mudding

*Paint walls

*Find vanity & paint it

*Build shelves on sides

*Tile backsplash with gorgeous square glass tiles

*Paint side shelves

*Install hardware (towel holder, toothbrush & toothpaste holder, etc…)

*Install industrial shelving in nook between exposed brick chimney and wall

*Install “wonderwall” like Lettered Cottage’s behind toilet

*Install a towel hanger/crate shelving on wall opposite the shower

*Hang bamboo shades

*Sew curtains that play nicely with shades

*Install floorboards

*Paint all trim

*Install threshold between wood floors in hallway and tile in bathroom


Yes… You’ll notice those last three aren’t crossed off yet….   Those are still on my to-to list. 😉

They joys of doing most everything by oneself.  (And by oneself, I mostly mean Handsome Man.  Because cutting floorboards does take a fair amount of exactness.  And while I can do it, we know that caulking becomes my best friend.  And I just prefer Handsome Man do it! 😉 )




Regardless….   I loooooove my bathroom!!! 🙂






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Bathroom: Tub Install

After getting all the tile installed, I put in most of the insulation.

Nasty. Nasty stuff.

It’s a wretched job.  But it doesn’t take a lot of skill.  So I did that while Sam did things that took brains.  Like plumbing.

Again, no pictures of the insulation.  Because I did that part.  And pictures of me working rarely surface. 🙂



Next came the tub install.

It would be another 2 months before we also had water in the house for the aforementioned tub.  But still.  🙂



Bathroom Remodel by

I love this picture because Handsome Man looks confused, our boxer, Kaydee looks extremely bored. and I’m giggling behind the camera. 😉

It was at this point that things appeared to be coming together! Sloooooooowly!

Bathroom: Tiling

After gutting the lathe and plaster… ripping out the appropriate walls… building new walls… and all things filthy… (I highly suggest you do things like this BEFORE you move into a reno.  You won’t believe the places the dust will end up!  Thankfully we did this all pre-wedding and prior to moving in.)  It was FINALLY  time to start putting things back together!



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First off, prep the floors for tile.

Cement board first!


Look!  It’s a picture of me working!  I’m always behind the camera so friends are always asking why I’m never working.  Handsome Man appears to do all the work!  But honest!  I work too!

Sam took this picture from upstairs through the bathroom drain hole.  Hence the aerial view of me cutting tile! 😉

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Next the tile!

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And more tile…


And more tile…  (This is just before Handsome Man had to do quite the acrobatic stunt to get himself out of the corner he tiled himself into! 😉  )

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And this is when we were just about finished!

At 1:00 a.m.

Cause that’s how we roll.

And probably why I like coffee so much.



Bathroom: Where it all began

So, long ago… before marriage… and a baby… and all things that those entail…


We bought this house.  Almost 3 years ago to be exact!

Happy anniversary House!


We as you know, it was a foreclosure. A fantastic deal that made this house a perfect investment.  We knew it wouldn’t be our “forever home” but it was a great “for now investment home.”


Part of the reason we got it for such a great deal was that all of the pipes in the entire house had frozen and burst.


That little thing happened to be an AWESOME turn of events for us!  Because not only were we able to get a great deal on the house, but it forced us to totally gut the bathroom and kitchen to replace the plumbing.


Because we had to completely start from scratch, we could totally re-think how our bathroom layout was going to be.



Previous Bathroom Layout by

This is what it looked like originally.  It was a tiiiiiiiiny bathroom and a very small closet next door. It had too many big windows for a bathroom. And it had a very weird layout.  And that’s not even getting into the lavender walls and royal blue drop ceiling!  Nice, huh??


I wish I had pics of it before!  I can’t seem to find them!



Here’s one of the storage closet mid-demolation.  We were cussing out the lathe and plaster walls saying goodbye to the turquoise lathe and plaster walls at this point!  YAY!




Gutting these rooms was not an easy task.  Especially the ceilings.  I hate the ceilings.  It’s that whole gravity thing.  Even while wearing safety glasses, I got junk in my eyes.  Blech!


And here’s Handsome Man ripping out walls, moving drain pipes, and just generally looking handsome! Rawr!

Actually, the whole idea of ripping out the walls and the new layout was all him!!!  My brain didn’t really work that way previous to this house.  I did lots of renovations, but they never entailed moving things like WALLS!

New Bathroom Layout by

This is what the new and improved layout looked like.

It feels SOOOO much bigger now!  The layout makes a lot of sense now that we have 3 very separate “areas” for the sink, the shower, and the toilet.  Having the door on a diagonal made a whole vanity attainable instead of just the pedestal sink.  The windows were replaced for smaller ones that weren’t as revealing.

In the next posts, I’ll take a trip down our proverbial memory lane to see just how we got from here to there!

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