Dugouts and Diapers

Jessica Starr Nichols

Goodbye 1978

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Renovation is a rewarding yet daunting task. I love the entire process, and I enjoy seeing the immediate results of my labor. We moved into my grandparent’s home two and a half years ago, and yesterday, we completed the final indoor project. The home was built in 1978, and hosted 4 layers of linoleum in the kitchen, 2 layers in each bathroom, wood paneling, disgusting carpet, original wallpaper, a harvest gold toilet and shower, and more doors than any home needs. There was a door to the hallway, a door to the kitchen, 2 doors in one bathroom, etc…. We have chosen our projects out of necessity as well as affordability. Before we moved in, we tackled replacing the wood paneling with dry wall, removing all of the wallpaper, painting every wall, changing out every light fixture, replacing each outlet cover as well as light switch covers, and replacing bathroom fixtures and faucets. These simple changes brought the home into the 21st century and gave us a home that we were proud to come home to. These were extremely inexpensive changes, but the large, expensive tasks of flooring and countertops still awaited us. This year, we have finally tackled these projects, and the results are overwhelmingly beautiful.

tile beforeIdeally, we would have replaced the flooring before we moved into our home two and a half years ago, but due to time and budget constraints, this wasn’t an option. At the beginning of June, Adam, our dear friend Chuck, and myself spent a couple of hours ripping up all the carpet in the house, and Adam and I spent another week scraping up linoleum in the kitchen and bathrooms. This was the worst part! I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you! There is no magic tool or easy way to remove linoleum. The first 3 layers in the kitchen were extremely easy to pull up, but once you get down to that last layer that was original to the house, you are convinced that it was attached with some sort of glue that a scientist from NASA invented! We tried all the “tricks of the trade:” a heat gun….useless, pouring boiling water over the paper backing…..HA, purchasing the big, heavy-duty scraper from our home improvement store…..we took it back after one attempt! The only thing that worked was getting on our hands and knees and using a handheld scraper and tapping the back of it with a mallet. Adam would take a turn, and I would take a turn until finally, we got it! We weighed all of our options when picking out flooring. Laminate was cheap, but it looked cheap and low quality. I have a house full of boys and a dog. I needed something timeless that would stand up to baseball cleats, running, jumping, tackling, reenactments during football games, and all things moms of boys look for when picking out flooring. We had a budget of $4,000.00 for the entire house, so hardwood was out of the question, and carpet wasn’t even an option. I love stained concrete, but after all of the different layers of flooring, old pet stains from previous owners, and 36 years of wear and tear, we knew we wouldn’t get the results we were hoping to achieve. A friend had recently built a home and installed porcelain tile that resembled the look of hardwood, and it was beautiful! After visiting many different suppliers of this product, we found that Home Depot offered the most bang for our buck! We ordered 63 cases of tile, 20 bags of mortar, and 5 bags of grout from our local Home Depot, and we came in right on budget. The flooring specialist at our local store, Jeff, was invaluable. He knew a multitude of information about not only the products he sold us, but he also made himself available during the process for any questions that we had. This is not a weekend project. We lived room to room in our house for two weeks, and it’s messy, which isn’t conducive with being a neat freak, but I made it, and I certainly did my share of the work. I vacuumed 3, sometimes 4 times daily to keep the dust to a minimum. I changed the air conditioning filter weekly, because it was just saturated with dust following the carpet removal as well as all the dust that accumulated from the entire process. Laying the tile wasn’t something that we had ever done on our own, but we couldn’t afford to contract out the labor, so I proposed that we ask Adam’s father to help us. He came down, and I assisted him with laying two and a half bedrooms of tile before he chose to go back home. We are thankful for the work he helped to complete, and we are also thankful that he allowed us to borrow his wet saw and other tools to complete the job. Our precious friend, Chuck helped us everyday for two weeks. When Adam was at work, I would lay tile by myself, and when he got home, I would assist him, then when Chuck got off of work, he would come to our house and all 3 of us would sling tile until midnight some nights. This may not be everyone’s preference for a workday, but when you are living in the chaos and are trying to maintain some sense of normalcy and are working around work schedules and such, you have to be willing to give 150% to the task at hand. The bathrooms were by far the slowest rooms, due to all of the cuts that had to be made, but once we got into the living room and kitchen, boy were we flying!!! We have quite a large living room, and Adam, Chuck, and I laid the entire room in about 4 hours, and it looks phenomenal!

living room 1living room 2These are photos of the living room from two different angles. Originally, there was a wall separating the living and dining room, and we removed it prior to beginning our flooring project. Overall, we laid this wood-grain tile in all 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, the hallway, living room, and kitchen…1350 sq ft. to be exact. We were emotionally and physically drained at the end of the project, but every morning, I still wake up and walk down my hallway and whisper to myself, “Our home is so beautiful.”

bath 1 bath 2Following the completion of our new floors, the only indoor project left was new bathroom and kitchen countertops. We had already refaced the cabinets and updated hardware when we moved into our home. My precious granny approached Adam and I and offered to bless us with new countertops and a kitchen backsplash because she was so proud of us for all of the hard work and time we had put into our home, and basically, she just wanted to be a blessing, and she was, immensely! The kitchen and both bathrooms had….you guessed it….laminate countertops that were original to the house. After doing some research, granite was definitely the best option, and after shopping around, our friends Gigi, Lamar, Carole, and the entire team at G & L Granite were the vendor of our choice. They were the only vendors that explained the pricing of the granite, differences between granite and marble, how to care for the granite, and their entire team was phenomenal. I always thought granite was just outrageous and completely out of budget for anyone other than the wealthy, but nothing could be further from the truth. When you consider the quality of the product as well as it’s sustainability, the price was actually quite affordable! We chose a Builder’s Grade (the cheapest, not because of quality, but because of rarity). It was called Classico Azul. We chose a standard edge to tie into the clean lines and modernity of the home. We also chose under-mount sinks for the bathrooms, but we reused our faucets since we had just replaced those when we moved. In the kitchen, we chose a single-basin, under-mount, stainless steel sink. I don’t understand the need for a double-basin sink, unless you have a drain board in one side. I absolutely love being able to lay an entire sheet pan flat in my sink. We had purchased a faucet on clearance from overstock.com prior to moving for only $75, but it was made for solid surface countertops so we had saved it in hopes that we would one day have the kitchen of our dreams, and now we do. Adam and I took the old countertops and sinks out ourselves, but obviously, we left installing the 500 lb. pieces of granite to the professionals. Due to choosing the under-mount sinks, we had to reconfigure the plumbing under all 3 sinks. The plumbing was original to the house, and every time Adam would touch one of the old pipes, it would crack. So, as any old home renovation goes, we now have all new plumbing under all of our sinks. Have I mentioned that my husband is amazingly talented?????????? Seriously, he’s brilliant, and I have loved assisting him with all of our projects.

kitchen1kitchen 2As with every other aspect of our renovation, we searched high and low for the right backsplash. I didn’t want something trendy. I wanted something that would withstand time, and I wanted to make sure it would enhance the beauty of the countertops as well as tie into our paint choices. A tip is to take your paint swatches with you to pick out your countertops and wait until your countertops are installed before choosing a backsplash. What draws your eye in the store may not translate on your walls, and once it’s up there, it’s there to stay. We found our backsplash at Lowe’s, and it is an oblong ceramic tile that looks ivory in certain places but also looks barely blue from another angle. It’s breathtaking! Laying this backsplash was a great weekend project! Adam and I covered the countertops with newspaper, and we began by drawing a center line under the hood of our stove and worked over and up in one direction and then went back to the center line and worked over and up in the opposite direction. The tile came in 12×12 sheets, which made laying it a cinch. We didn’t have a wet saw, but we thought with as few cuts as we would have to make, we could just buy a tile cutter from Lowe’s for $20 rather than paying $55/day plus a $100 deposit to rent a wet saw. The tile cutter worked beautifully! We now wish we would have had it when laying the floor tiles! It was far less time consuming or as messy as a wet saw. So for those of you thinking of tackling a backsplash, do it!!!!! It’s super easy, and completely changes the look of your kitchen. I knew I didn’t want white grout. It’s so gross, and impossible to keep clean, despite how often you clean and seal it! I chose “Silverado,” which is basically, light grey, and it’s so lovely! Our kitchen and bathrooms look drastically different from their original façade, and they are just a dream come true!

kitchen 3 kitchen 4My photos don’t even do our floors, bathrooms, or kitchen justice. We just feel so immensely blessed, and we are so thankful that the inside of the home renovation is complete. We still need new windows and a new front door, but due to the expense of those projects, we will just enjoy one another’s company and enjoy entertaining our friends and family inside our lovely home. Adam and I can never express our gratitude to my amazing parents, my sweet granny, our dear brother Chuck, and Adam’s father for the assistance they gave on one or more of these projects. I don’t think you know how strong your marriage really is until you renovate a home together. I’m so thankful for how much we’ve grown as a couple during this process. There have been times that we’ve both cried, gotten frustrated, and even disagreed….yes, healthy marriages have disagreements…but we’ve talked about things, worked through things, turned together toward God for that extra dose of strength, and most importantly, we’ve been a team. Overall the experience has been wonderful, and there’s nothing I love more than snuggling up on the couch with my man clan and enjoying this beautiful home that we’ve created. Through these projects, we haven’t only increased the value of our home by over $20,000.00, we’ve also increased the way in which we value each other. Thanks so much to those of you that have followed our journey! Come back next week for a topic in which God has been speaking to me about for a couple of years now……our words…..warning, it’s deep. Have a great week!!!


Author: jstarrnichols

I'm a wife, mother, daughter, and friend. I love Jesus, my family, my friends, and my life. I enjoy writing, yoga, laughing, and spending time with my manclan. I’m merely striving to be the best version of myself.

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