Well, it's actually not that extreme, but it sure feels extreme to me! As of today, we have lived in Little Rock for three years. In those three years, we have done a lot to improve our home and increase its value. Tax return time has allowed us some extra money to work with, and each year we put some of that money toward things that need doing around the house. When we first moved in, it was new paint for the bedrooms, kitchen, and dining room, window treatments, and Pergo flooring for the kitchen and dining room. In 2007 it was some front yard landscaping. In 2008 we did some more landscaping, painted the hallway, stairwell, and bathrooms, and put in new baseboards and chair rail in the kitchen and dining room. Little by little we have been making modifications.
This year was a particularly large tax return. We were able to pay off a large chunk of debt, which was really exciting. We also decided to do a few bigger things in the house that have been screaming for attention since we moved in.
1. Kitchen cabinets. They are nice oak, but the clear finish is peeling off, leaving the cabinets looking grimy and old. Rather than fork out thousands for new cabinets, I have undertaken the daunting task of refinishing the cabinets...by myself! For you who haven't seen it, my kitchen is huge--one of the main reasons we bought this house. It has lots of cabinets and storage space, which means lots of work to refinish. I spent 6 hours yesterday and 4 hours today stripping the old finish off the cabinets, washing them, and drying them. Tomorrow I will prime them, and the rest of the week I'll work on painting them. I've decided on a nice, off white to go with the wainscoting and trim. It will brighten up the kitchen considerably, and get rid of the dated look of the old finish. Add new hardware and we'll have "new" cabinets for about $100!
2. Paint the living room. We're pretty sure the living room paint--a boring, dingy, off white--is the original paint, which makes it 13 years old. It is all scuffed and dirty. We would have painted it long before now, but have not because of the 18-foot ceiling. Matt spent his whole afternoon, and I spent much of mine, painting. The living room looks so much nicer painted a warm tan! We should be finishing off the painting in the next few days.
3. Entryway, downstairs bathroom and fireplace hearth. Scarred, chipped, cracked parquet flooring is on our tiny (4 ft. x 4 ft.) entryway. There's no place to take off shoes when you come in the door. This has resulted in badly stained carpet just a few feet inside the door. The downstairs bathroom floor is ancient linoleum that has tears in it, and is curling away at the seams. The fireplace hearth is cracked, white, faux marble. All of the above are coming out and being replaced by a very nice tile. Matt is doing the work himself, and it is coming together nicely. He's extending the entrway further into the living room so there will actually be a place to take off shoes when you come inside. A shoe rack will help solve our shoe storage problem, too.
4. Snapper's room. When we moved here, we painted Snapper's room two shades of pink. It was adorable and she loved it. When Matt's sister Debbie moved in with us last summer, we moved Snapper into the guest room (more storage space) and put Deb in Whit's old room. The guest room is white wainscoting on the bottom and a deep blue on top. It worked beautifully with a few pieces of white furniture and very little clutter. It looks horrible with Snapper's pink and brown bedding, and all the kids' toys. The room feels dark and small. Therefore, our final project for this year is to pain the upper half of Snapper's room. It will be a nice, light tan. I'm also painting her bunkbed white and getting a few organizational items to help all the more.
5. Carpet. A fantastic sale at Lowe's is allowing our dollars to stretch far enough to put new carpet in the living room and stairs. The 13-year-old, very light tan (almost white) carpet is so stained and filthy that I have a huge area rug in the middle to hide the worst spots. Steam cleaning helps it look better, but within a few weeks the stains rise again and look even worse against the clean rest of the carpet. Hooray for new carpet! It will be installed next week!!!
So really, it isn't and extreme makeover. But it will seem extreme to us. It is tough living here with the house torn apart, but I know it will be worth it. Once we're done, I'll post pictures of my "new" house!