May 1, 2014

Our 1970's House Makeover Part 6: The Hardwood Stairs and Entryway Makeover

Hey ya'll! It's update day!
We've made a lot of progress on the stairs and entryway in the past couple weeks, and although I really wanted it to be finished before I showed you, it just isn't.

I know you guys still want to know what's going on though, so consider today a progress report.

I'm contemplating changing the name of my blog to LiveLoveSnail.










So, let's get started.
I'm the first to admit that our house was a total armpit when we first moved in.
The entryway was one of the worst offenders. It had dark orange parquet floors that were damaged and discolored, and I basically counted the days until I could rip it up. 



The stair rail wasn't much better. It wrapped around the entire entryway and into the dining room, and was visible from every angle.




But I knew from day one that this house had a lot of potential.

A few months after moving in, I painted the stair rail white. It made things a bit more tolerable, but at the end of the day, we still had an entryway with parquet floors and two sets of stairs covered in carpet. 
Sidenote: See that dark pit down there? That's the lower level of my split level house. It's currently destroyed by cats and renovation debris, but one of these days we are going to venture down there and talk all about it. It's nearly half of the house, and it's above ground (not like a typical basement), so there's a lot to talk about. 
I'll probably take a few months to relax...to move all my furniture back in...to teach myself how to be normal again...to eat potato chips. But after that, it's on. 


Anyways, so when we last spoke (after the floor stain debacle) the dining room was being used as a hoarding space for all of the entryway flooring.


And the stairs were finally being installed. 
Unfortunately I forgot to paint the stair risers before they were installed, so I got to spend a few fun hours post-installation taping off the stairs, testing my balancing skills, and painting them with the greatest of precision. 
Add that to my renovation list of 'lessons learned in hindsight'.


And now, since then, the new stair rail has finally been built.
It's still just raw wood, and I still have to paint it, but oh glorious day, it's installed and ready for its debut. 



I worked with our contractor to come up with a design, and then he basically built it in a day. I was totally mesmerized by the entire process and learned so much just by creeping around the corner and staring at him. 
#sorrysir


I'm obviously no woodworker, but in the simplest of terms, I chose simple rectangular balusters with chunky newel posts at each corner and at the end.
It took quite a while to decide on a design (Who knew how many options there were for balusters?! Illegal.), but ultimately I went with something simple that I knew I would be happy with for the long haul.



As for the paint situation, next week, I'll be using a paint sprayer for the first time and painting the entire thing white. Since we have an entire stair rail to paint and and since we are installing all new trim (that also needs to be painted), Jesse and I decided this would be a good time to go ahead and make things easier on ourselves by buying a paint sprayer.
So basically, I've wanted a paint sprayer my entire adult life and all my dreams are coming true. And when I close my eyes at night, I dream of myself dancing with a paint sprayer in hand.

Or something like that.

 I'm also thinking about painting just the top handrail black. Kinda like this, but I would keep the newel posts white.


Source: House Beautiful 

And then possibly painting the inside of the front door black.
But maybe not.
I'm sitting right on top of the fence, unsure about anything and everything. 
I've become totally convinced that ripping your house apart simultaneously rips your brain apart.

My plan is to paint everything white first and see what it looks like, and then go from there. If it just feels like white overload, we'll experiment.
And if my experiment sucks, we'll just paint it back. 




As for the rock wall, you guys have been super curious about my plans. And I'm so glad. I told you about it because I secretly really wanted to know what you thought. Your feedback is always really great, and sometimes it helps me see things from a perspective I haven't yet seen.



Basically, something weird happened after the light floors were installed, and the walls were given a fresh coat of my favorite new white paint. I no longer hate the rock wall. That being said, I'm still on the fence about it, so I might still do something. However, until I know for sure what I want, I'm holding off on any changes. 
Sidenote: This entire space was painted this week with Benjamin Moore Simply White (mixed in Behr paint because I'm cheap like that). I've basically spent the past two weeks of my life painting the house, and I have so much to share about that, so we're going to talk about all the new paint colors and look at the rest of the rooms next week.




Here's how the new stair rail looks from the other angle, looking into the dining room and kitchen.
Pardon my Swiffer.
And Jesse's Bass magnet.



We still have to do all of the trimwork (that's all we're working on for the next couple weeks), but it makes me pretty happy to see how far we've come since we first moved in.



It's just one of those moments where I kinda crumple into a happy lump on the ground.
There were so many times during the past 10 weeks where I legitimately thought everything would just be a disaster. So, it's a really nice feeling to be able to look around and love what I see.


Meanwhile, Tootie and Cheese seem to be totally confused by their new environment. They've been allowed to roam free for about a week now, and it seems to go one of two ways. 
#1: Total bliss and freedom, chasing each other around like miniature buffaloes, high on life. A lot to see, a lot to do. 
Not a moment to lose.
#2. Total befuddlement, nervous about every piece of fuzz that blows across the new/weird floor. Don't touch me. 
Prefers to sit atop fridge and prepare for attack.
It could also have something to do with the Bass magnet.



There was also a new, unexpected character thrown into the mix last week. My mom had to travel to Nashville for work and left my little sister Ellie with me.




Ellie is the sweetest little rat dog you will ever meet, and I love her like she is my human sister. I literally have conversations with her and gaze into her eyes.
You probably have dogs, so...you understand.

She's really old, super cuddly (except for the pointy chicken legs), and she's irrationally terrified of everything.
For example, let me set the stage: It's 8pm, I'm in elastic-waistbanded-pants, the cats are downstairs, Jesse is out with some guy friends, Ellie and I are cuddling and watching movies, and I open a bottle of Sprite. 


She's my favorite house guest.


And we'll end on that note.
I'll be back soon to share the new paint colors, the painted stair rail and door, and the living room
Love ya'll.


Our 1970s House Makeover: Part 6. The Hardwood Stairs and Entryway Makeover.

P.S. The other posts in the House Makeover series can be found here:




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61 comments:

  1. My jaw literally dropped open--you know I've been waiting for this one! :) Your railing turned out fabulous Virginia! (Like Ellie, but less chicken-leggy and cuddly--haha!) So happy for you guys!

    --snow, commenting in elastic waisted pants. :D

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    1. Ha! Love this comment, Snow! Thank you!

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    2. Hi, I love seeing the transformation... Can't wait for the finished product. So exciting... But on a side note of my own.. What about using Mosaic Tiling on the backsplash of the steps. I know how much you love white, but that would just add such a pop of color and character when you first walk in the house. One of the first things someone will see. Just a crazy thought. VIctoria

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  2. Yay! It's coming along. What a fantastic transformation. I admire your vision and hard work! :) -Bev

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  3. Love this!!! Check your blog daily for updates!

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  4. I'm obsessed with your blog - it is SO helpful & I have total DIY fever thanks to you! (No, but really, THANKS!!) I became a first-time homeowner almost 3 years ago & I used to HATE Home Depot until I got my own house - now it's my playground. I purchased an awesome antique wood dresser from the thrift shop & I want to paint it. I've been reading all of your posts outlining the supplies needed & steps to take when painting. I haven't ever painted furniture before & after reading & re-reading all of your painting posts I have a few questions.

    >> Wax vs Polycrylic -- I couldn't find the Minwax finishing paste in clear (they only had it available in natural wood finish) -- I was planning on using Behr Sea Salt (light grey color) in Flat finish to paint the furniture (and I'll be using a darker grey for the insides of the drawers like you did) -- when you mentioned the Sherwin Williams paint that is your all-time fav, if you use that exact paint do you have to use a wax or polycrylic to seal the work?

    >> How do you set the paint for the inner parts of the drawers? I tried buying the right Kilz but got confused between oil based & then water based but latex (eek) & I figured I can just use the Vlasser 1-2-3 primer for the inside of the drawers too - is this ok?

    >> How do you seal the inside of the drawers once they are painted?

    Sorry for the multitude of questions - your blogs have been endlessly helpful & inspiring & I want to soak up as much of your wisdom as I can! Your help would be soooo greatly appreciated! I'm just hoping I can get it right the first time.

    Thank you!!
    -Sabrina

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    1. Hey Sabrina! You are such a sweetie! Thank you. #1. That SW paint is pretty durable on its own. Lately I've just been using that paint in a semi gloss finish. No topcoat needed. Just prime and paint! #2. If you use primer, I would just get the water based primer and then use normal water based latex paint (which are the majority of paints you would buy at say, Home Depot). Any of the primers work pretty well, but lately Kilz is my favorite. #3. You can then seal the drawers with polycrylic (also water based) if you want. Honestly, I never sealed mine. I just painted them and they've held up fine for a couple years. I just skipped sealing them bc it was SO much work! :) Hope that helps!

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    2. The DIY Gods must have been shining down on me today because I saw your reply as I was in Home Depot hunting for DIY supplies & instantly put your tips to work!! I will definitely be making a stop by SW to grab that paint you recommended - I'm super excited at the prospect of not having to worry about the sealing part & just skipping that altogether (shortcuts without sacrificing quality -- that's my kind of girl!) THANK YOU again so so much for taking the time to answer my questions - truly appreciate it!! & Thanks again for making DIY projects so fun - you have been a big inspiration to me.
      -Sabrina

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  5. OOOoooo….pretty!! Personally, I like the way the natural wood of the stair rail looks with your floors. And the light floors look great.

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  6. Hi Virginia, greeting from Germany. I really like to read ... yes read... your blog not only looking pictures. Its good for my English... and you have a very understandable funny and informing textes!!!! I feel with you by this big makeover... every post again...
    A little idea... after your pain(t)ful floors... take picture 7 and 10 from this post and "paint" it with a graphic programm or take real photos and paint the rail and the door black with a waterproof pen ;-) and than make your decision
    see forward to your next post
    Saphira from Germany

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    1. Thanks Saphira! I was actually thinking of asking Jesse to photoshop a few images of the stair rail for me (because I lack even basic photoshop skills). But, I totally forgot about it until you mentioned it! Thanks for the reminder!!

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  7. That railing is awesome! I'd go for white. And the rock wall, well, I'd keep it as is! (And I'm not a big "rock wall" kind of person, but gosh darn it just looks good!) xoKathleen

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    1. Thanks Kathleen! That's probably where I'll end up! :)

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  8. This looks so amazing!! See... it's people like you who make people like me think I could totally do this kind of thing someday (when in reality, I really should not ever do this kind of thing someday.) So I'll just live vicariously through you!

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    1. Thanks girl! And you can absolutely do it....it just takes a looooooong time. :)

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  9. I think that a white stair stair rail would look much better with the light stained floors. I just love how your house is coming along!

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    1. Thanks Maricela! The stair rail will probably end up white the more I think about it! :)

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  10. You know, I'm kind of digging the rock wall now. Before it looked rather doom-and-gloomy, but with the new paint and light floors it brings a little warmth in. Does that make sense? Short story: it all looks fabulous and I want to be friends with Ellie.

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    1. Thanks Kim! I totally agree. That was kinda my thought, too. Oh, and Ellie welcomes any and all new friends. Well, she'll probably act terrified for awhile, but deep down she'll love you. Ha!

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  11. I LOVE the black paint idea, and if you pain the inside of the front door black, that could really bring it all together! So exciting! And I am a huge fan of the rock wall and think you should leave it as is. ;) Not that it's my house or anything. Ha!

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    1. Thanks April! I'm so on the fence about the black paint. But the good news is that if I do it and hate it, I just have to suffer through a couple hours of painting it back to white. Been there, done that before! :) And yes, I'm really leaning towards leaving the rock wall alone. I have no idea how it grew on me, but it did.

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  12. It looks awesome!! and very much like your inspiration photo.

    Happy Friday!

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  13. Wow--everything feels so bright and airy with the new stair rail! I'm not going to lie: I love the natural wood--it looks so beautiful as is! Have you thought about sealing it instead of painting?

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    1. Thanks so much Kara! It does look pretty cool with the raw wood. The wood color isn't all that uniform when you get up close though (because we knew it was going to get painted and didn't worry about it), so it's definitely getting painted white. When I post about painting it, I'll share a few up close pics so you guys can see what I'm talking about. You'll prob agree with the paint when you see it. (I mean, I could have just put that in this post, but why on earth would I do anything that makes sense? Ha!)

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    2. I was just about to say the same thing as Kara Dawn. I like the look of the natural wood against the white of the stairs but, if its not in good enough shape to keep it as it is, then painting it white would be my second choice. And I'd keep the rock wall, all the neutral around it has made it look much lighter and more contemporary.

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  14. Love what you are doing.... I have a huge rock fireplace similar to yours. I did a creative paint number on it years ago. I was able to keep the natural rock look....but lighten it from brown and orange. I used a "dry" brush, a sponge, a rag, and about 3 colors of paint. Contact me if you want more info...

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    1. I'd love to see what you did, Jennifer! Sounds cool. Right now, I'm leaning towards leaving the rock wall alone, but I'm always curious. :)

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  15. I love how your house is turning out. We recently bought a 1969 tri-level house, it was dark and gloomy but I saw what she could be. You give me inspiration! I also love the rock wall.

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    1. Thanks Melvina!! It's all about the potential! Sometimes it just takes a while to unearth it! :)

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  16. Love, love, LOVE the new stair rail!! One question though, have you considered a dark stain on the hand rail vs. paint. Just wondering because I absolutly love that dark look, but once you paint it, its hard to go back. But if you start with stain you could always paint later... Anyway I am sure you will totally beautify it! Also I am loving the stone wall too!

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    1. Thank you! And I love dark stains, but after trying it out on the floors and seeing how much it instantly aged the house (straight back to the 70's), I've decided this house is meant to be light and bright! But I know what you mean...dark stains can sometimes be really beautiful! :)

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  17. Everything looks great! BM Simply White is my favorite white in my home too. I am having trouble imagining the black railings but it is only paint and can be fixed if you don't love it.
    My old rat boy Dilly would say hello to Ellie but he is napping right now. Old dogs have it made!

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    1. Isn't it such a great paint color?! I'm using it all over the place...love love love it. Also, Dilly is such a great name for a rat dog. They're such amazing little pups! :)

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  18. I just want to say, I love reading your blog. I love the way you write; it makes me feel like we're old friends (not trying to be creepy here). So anyway... thanks for sharing all your home remodeling experiences! I was in charge of some home renovations last year while my husband was living and working in another state. Let me tell you... I'm just glad I came through it with my sanity (semi-) intact. Good luck to you with all the decisions you have left to make!

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    1. Thanks so much, Mackenzie! It's nice to know my writing is kinda relatable...rather than straight up weird. (Okay, well I guess it's totally weird, but you know what I mean.)

      And yes, the sanity/renovation impact...it's intense. Fun, but intense. Glad you survived! xo

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  19. Hi Virginia,
    Your house is "amazeballs" love what u have done!! Also, we don't have any properties like "fixer uppers" here in UK (Liverpool) so I would love to see what is down those stairs. I am a new livelovediy addict. I think you and Jesse are, also, amazeballs (totally amazing)
    Also, re the stair rail, why don't you try it all white except for the actual top hand rail, the bit that was black in the picture, leave as natural wood. Whatever you decide will be great and I can't wait to see it xxx

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    1. Aw, I love it! That cracks me up. xo

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  20. Greetings from Knoxville! (I always hoped I'd run into you at Goodwill, KARM, or Panera.) I love what you've done so far and the stone adds great texture. Can't wait to see what comes next!

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  21. The 1970s seemed like a truly horrible time for design! Love your vision of your home and everything you've done so far. :)

    Angela @ Number Fifty-Three

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  22. Hey Virginia! Have you thought about leaving the balusters and the newel posts raw to match the floors, and just painting the handrail white? :)

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  23. the light wood is so pretty. i think it would look great if you left just the rungs natural wood and painted the rail light grey or white. also what about that pretty light aqua color you have going in the house already for the back of the front door?! it think it goes nicely with the light wood too... before trying black... i love the vibe you are getting with the transformation of the dark wood 70's. now its more like light and airy french shabby chic i also think the stone wall looks right at home now b/c there is a lighter balance of earthy elements with light wood, metallics, stone and airy white. your on a roll!

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  24. You are probably one of the most hilarious blog authors out there! Your writing style always gives me a good laugh.
    I'm liking the current look of the rock wall. bring some of the grays and tapes from the stone wall into your dining room furnishings and it will look tied in. I'm also contemplating the same idea about stair railings with a black rail, white newels, white spindles and black door. Waiting to see how yours goes. Our oak railings are totally white with white walls and white front door and it's a bit too much.

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  25. Hey Virginia - what with the time difference and everything...I always seem to be the "last reply" to your inspirational and hilarious blogs! But just to let you know I'm doing the upside down Kiwi hammer dance for you to see and read about the transformation you have made and the progress on your home. I so agree with the other folk who say you have the BEST blog - I've looked at so many. But yours in the only one to make it to my "favourites" list....you go girl. Big ups from the bottom of the world!

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  26. It's looking soooo good! Love the black and white idea :)

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  27. I just found your blog today and I've been reading it for most of the day now - it's 4:30 in the afternoon? OMG! (No, I don't get sidetracked easily, why do you ask? Oh look - squirrel!)

    I am super thrilled to find someone just as undecided and inexperienced at decorating as I am and was delighted to be able to tell my husband that there is at least one person out there who has repainted their rooms as much as I have. (His reply: Does she have 23 foot walls? -He always was a spoil-sport.) But I digress. Now that I have found you, I will be following along faithfully - but not in a stalker-ish way. Probably.

    As for the stairs: I think you might want to think about a dark brown/beige rather than a black on the handrail. Black, I think, would be a too stark a contrast and make it look like you have this one dark stripe floating across your house. Just my 2 cents.

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  28. First and most importantly...I too once had a little Rat (Terrier) sister. She was 11 lbs. of lioness named Suzy-Q and she was the best!

    Secondly - I like the rock wall now, too.... but I am anti-black door and anti- painting the stairwell...sure you don't want to just stain it to match the floor?

    Seriously, though, whatever you decide - I am sure it will be interesting...and ultimately all of your creations look great together so it will be fun seeing how it all plays out.

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  29. This looks so good already! You crack me up at every post, love reading your blog! :)

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  30. This is the first time I've read your blog....I am hooked! I love your 70's home and the rock wall is amazing! Your cats are cutie-pies and act similar to mine! Love your sense of humor! Thanks for the inspiration and keeping it real with the good and the not so good!

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  31. Hi Virginia, I love reading your fantastic blog here at home in Paris. You sound so sweet, genuine, down to earth and, of course, talented! I love the way things turn out in your house, you've got wonderful ideas to share and you're such an inspiration. First comment ever here, I had to tell you all this haha!! Keep up the good work, you are a real sunshine ;-)

    I too love to design, decorate, refurbish, recycle, create, love to make mistakes and obviously...to learn from them;-) If you decide to paint the top handrail black (love the idea vs painting everything black as it keeps the whole thing lighter, almost aerial, I would totally go for black for the interior front door; it would sort of balance everything with the white. I would also personally keep that rock wall, it gives soooo much character to the house ;-)) Well, anyway, love you girl, great job!! Big hugs from my 2 cats, Pirate and Snow, from Paris ;-) Take Care!

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  32. I think the black handrail and black front door would look great! But I have a thing with black front door haha! I can't wait to see the finish product!!!

    -Riva

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  33. Ellie is adorable!
    I have never experienced white overload ;) I think I just love it too much!

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  34. we had a rock wall growing up and we whitewashed it and ended up hating it!!!! we cleaned it really good with a shop-vac and a wipe down and considered stopping there but somehow the white sounded like a good idea...not!!!!

    i'm glad you are thinking of leaving it as is..but i'd definitely clean it up after all the other big, messy projects are done!

    love your writing and thanks for sharing so much of yourself with us! it brightens my day!

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  35. Hardwoods are looking beautiful! My house is begging to have the hardwoods refinished. Its such a scary project. I'm most scared of having to move out all the furniture, lol!
    -Monica
    Shimmering Image

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  36. Such gorgeousness! I'm so excited to see the next stage of progress! Don't take that awesome rock wall for granted. I'm in the process of picking out stone for our fireplace project, and I'm soooo not looking forward to DIYing the masonry of it. I would kill for your wall. Okay, that might be a little over the top, but I'm crazy jealous.

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  37. The space is so much brighter and happier! I personally like the rock wall as is. With everything else bright and modern it adds a bit of mid-century charm to the place. Keep it!

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  38. Is it bad that the entire time I was reading this post I had "National Lampoon's: Christmas Vacation" flashes in my head? "Fixed the newel post!" If you don't know...Clark says this after flipping out and loosing his mind once the tree is destroyed. He has the chainsaw in his hand and just lops off the top of the newel post. So even though I am so happy for your changes and loving this post, I can only laugh out loud with movie scene visions in my head.

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  39. I just found your blog a few days ago....I feel like I just made it to heaven! I love it!!! Your writing is so refreshing!! My husband is working from home today. He's sitting here next to me on his laptop and I keep interrupting his work to show him a picture or read him parts of your blog. I'm sure he's so glad he stayed home today! Ha ha! We both laughed out loud about your comment about starring around the corner at the contractor! So funny! We just bought a 1970's home. We should be moving into the house in a week or two. I was excited before I found your blog. But, now I'm SUPER excited!! Your before and afters are amazing!! I can't wait to see it transform. I fixed up the house we are currently living in (over the past 6 months or so). I've done lots of things that you have blogged about. I have the same paint addiction that you do!! Don't feel bad!! People keep telling me that I need to put the paint down. I just laugh and keep painting. I think we would be great friends. LOL. My husband just bought me a paint sprayer. BEST PRESENT EVER....I almost cried when he came home with it. The next day I went outside and painted my whole outside fence of my yard. It was amazing. It's changed my life. We put our house up for sale and it sold in one day. It made me feel good. I guess all the updates I have done paid off. We are making lots of money off the house so I get to go put lots of updates into our new house. I get to have my much sought after hardwood floors installed. I want the dark color. I hope I don't regret it like you did. Now I'm all nervous!! Anyway, I love all your blog posts. Your house is just beautiful!! I can't wait to start a bajillion projects on mine. Your blog is going to come in handy. Can't wait to read more!!! You rock!!

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  40. Hi Virgina,

    So enjoy your writing style! Never mind how amazing your makeovers are. You have really inspired me!

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Thanks so much for leaving a comment!! I do the hammer dance every time I read one.

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