Featured in Home Magazine

We’ve been sitting on a little secret for a couple months now! Square House was featured in Home Magazine this month! We submitted Square House into their call for DIY home renovations and they picked our house as their top pick of renovations!!! When we got the word we were shocked. The other finalist had some amazing projects and I was sure they would love those over our projects. Apparently the light fixture in the living room won them over. The light is by far my favorite project we have done and I love looking at it every day. It was a risk considering I had never worked with conduit and the angles I wanted took several bends on individual pieces…

Working on this house has been a love hate relationship lately. We are down to the really tedious projects and by the time we finish work (as photographers) we are whipped and have no desire to sit and paint or plant grass. But hearing the news that our house was loved by others made our year!

Home Magazine  Spring 2014

home Magazine spring 2014

They also loved the master bath renovation and it was featured in the front of the magazine as the title page for the DIY project section. That silly bathroom almost killed me so it was soooo nice to see it in a magazine! I picked up the magazine at the grocery store and kind of squealed when I opened it up and saw our house! If you know me, you know I am not a squealer, so needless to say I was super happy! πŸ™‚

Photo Apr 02, 5 16 49 PM

If you notice I painted the bathroom since the last time I showed it here on the blog. I loved the all white look but the more we lived with the room it just didn’t look finished… and apparently even after four coats of white paint the previous color can still start to come through after a couple months. After painting the bath the darker gray I was much happier and wished I had done it originally.

I still have a whole bunch of projects to show here on the blog and hopefully I’ll get them up soon. This past year has been crazy with work and finishing up big projects around Square House and when it comes to blogging, well I’ve been lazy πŸ™‚


The Living Room: Redesigned!

So remember when the living room looked like this:

Then it looked like this:

Well now it looks like this:

And another view of before:

Stage 2 where we were using our older furniture and had the tv downstairs:

And how it looks like this!

For Christmas this year we bought each other new living room furniture. We have agreed that we have officially become old because we got super excited about new furniture. The lounge, couch, and loveseat were all part of our Christmas to one another. We knew when we moved in that we wanted to update our furniture and get pieces that reflected our personality better. We also wanted lighter pieces. the leather couches were super comfy but with our dark floors the couches were overbearing. We absolutely love the new pieces and the style! Even though our house was built in the 80s it still has a feeling of a Mid Century home. Since moving in we have done a tone of research in architecture and design and we really want our home to reflect the Mid Century Modern style. If you haven’t noticed we are minimalist and that fits right in with the Mid Century feel. We’ve also come to love the Scandinavian Modern approach to decorating and we are trying to implement it consistently throughout the house.



This little area is now my new favorite spot in the whole house! I’ve wanted this chair for as long as I can remember and the day we finally purchased it I was a very happy lady! It is a replica of the original Eames Lounge Chair and it can be found here.

I built the light art piece a couple weeks ago and I can’t be happier with it! We really wanted to make the living room a place that was slightly more formal. To use that meant taking the tv and gaming system out of the room and moving it upstairs. When we did that we ended up with a large wall that was completely bare. For the living room we really wanted it to be a room that was about conversations and community.Β  Some of our best time with friends have been when we sit around and talk about life and the arts. The Crane brothers (yes Niles and Frasier πŸ™‚ ) are two of our favorite tv characters and we love the diversity of their knowledge of the arts. Ok the Crane brothers are a little higher class ( and snootier) than we are but we do love the desire to be immersed in the arts… We also spend a lot of time just playing games with our friends and talking about nothing… yada yada yada… all those aspects were what we were thinking about when we were planning on how to use the bare wall. We over think things just a little πŸ™‚ We knew we wanted a functional art piece and this is what we ended up with.

I originally found an art piece that was similar to this in an architecture magazine and I customized it to our wall space. I’ll be posting later on the process of building the art piece.


I’m so glad that we took out the third large piece of furniture and now have an open entry into the living room from the front door. It opens the room up so much more and allows a better flow through the room. Also we took out the ceiling fan and I’m so glad we took it down! We had no clue how much it would open up the height of the room by just taking out a fan (plus it was a hideous fan that was made of leather and deer antlers… yep antlers. Ha not our style one bit!). Now we just have lamps to light the room and the sky light. We greatly enjoy havingΒ  more ambient light and not over powering overheads.

I also love our lampskin rug. Yes I’ve named it, Eleanor Rigby, and it is the softest rug I’ve ever stepped on. I’ve been known to move the coffee table at times and take naps on Eleanor with Amydog πŸ™‚



So with the new furniture and art piece we finally are starting to feel like we have a room that we are finished with and can full enjoy! We’ve already had several gatherings in the newly designed room and we both feel like we have achieved our goal of having a Scandinavian Modern/ Mid Century Modern room that lends itself to conversations. πŸ™‚

What do you think of our newly designed living room? What type of conversation would you have in a living room like this?


Interior before and afters

So we closed on this house exactly 95 days ago… It feels like much longer than that, especially when I look back over pictures from when we first purchased the house. We have done so much in the past three months and it feels so good to finally be getting close to the end of our initial to-do list. We have a couple small projects still to do but for now the main interior projects are just about done! So today I have a flood of before and after pictures for you.

Above you have the stair case at the front entry way.

Projects Completed:

– Staircase stripped, sanded, and repainted.

– New carpet on stairs and hardwood in the hallway

– Hall and staircase painted

I’ve already shown most of the kitchen but we recently did some more work to the breakfast nook.

Projects Completed:

– Walls painted

– Bi-fold doors added

– Vertical blinds removed and curtains added

– Light fixture changed

Projects left:

– Hem curtains

– put door knobs on doors.

– Eventually we want to take the sliding doors out and put a window in its place

Dining room

Projects Completed:

– Flooring replaced

– Walls painted

– Light fixture changed

Projects to do:

– Add crown molding to match living room

– Window treatments

– Eventually add in windows on the front walls (where the London painting is hanging)

Living Room

Projects Completed:

– Half wall knocked down

– Columns refinished

– Flooring replaced

– Walls and trim painted

– Closet door replaced

Projects to do:

– Change out light fixture

– Finish decorating

Side note, I love the light in our living room during the day. We have a huge sky light that fills the room with a gorgeous even light for most of the day and it is so peaceful! Also the wall color in the living room, dining room, hallway, bathroom, staircase, and landing are all the same color but each room looks completely different depending on what time of day it is.

Amydog and Troubadour McLaren approve of all the changes πŸ™‚

Downstairs bathroom

Projects Complete:

– Walls patched

– All doors replaced

– Walls painted

– Cabinets painted

– Mirror hung

– Shelves hung over toilet area

Downstairs guest room

Projects complete:
– Doors replaced

– Carpet replaced (praise Jesus!)

Projects to do:

– Paint walls and trim

– Add closet doors

– Replace windows (they have lost their seal)

Master Bedroom
Projects Completed:

– Walls painted

– Vertical blinds replaced

– Carpet replaced

Projects to do:

– Add crown molding

– Replace doors

– get new bed frame πŸ™‚



Projects Completed:

– Walls painted

– Vertical blinds replaced

– Carpet replaced (oh dear it was so nasty. Y’all it gave me nightmares)

– We have no clue what we are doing with this area. It is the only room we can’t agree on. I want to move the tv up here and have a sitting area but Philip wants to bring in a pool table… we will see what happens.

PS Troubadour has managed to fall off the side of the landing twice. How that cat keeps falling I don’t know. She gets up there multiple times a day and can’t seem to stay up 100% of the time… I hope she doesn’t kill herself!

Philip’s Office

Projects Completed:

– Lady Bugs killed and painted over πŸ™‚

– Trim painted

– Blinds replaced

– Guitars hung

Projects to do:

– Hang new doors

Probably my favorite corner of our house. For the first time since we’ve been married Philip has a room that is 100% dedicated to his music. As a professional musician he is always playing outside of the house but never played at home because he didn’t have a place to set up his gear. Now he plays all the time and I am thrilled!

So that is what we have been up to the past 3 months πŸ™‚


The Staircase Project

OH MY WORD!!! Yep that is how I feel right now! We’ve been working on one house project for 3 weeks now. I have officially called it the project from Hell but a few hours ago we finished it!

What might this project be? Oh you know, just repainting the stairs. It started out as simple… and then it got retardedly difficult. Well not so much difficult as just time consuming.

When we purchased the home we knew the stairs case needed a fresh coat of paint but it looked to be in decent shape as seen here:

Not to bad. There we a few nicks in the paint but nothing terrible. Amydog and Troubadour showcase a few of the nicked parts:

Well I started lightly rubbing said nicks to see what would happen to them and the results were not good. Huge chunks of paint started falling off the railing revealing he bare wood… Yep not what you want to happen. So I too a scraper to the railing and found that about 50% of the paint was coming off with the lightest touch of the scraper. A little scraping gave us a lot of information; the railings had once been stained and sealed then painted, without sanding. Who does that? Oh yeah the previous owners of this house apparently did it to all the wood in this house. Load of paint on sealed wood means that in a couple years it is all going to peal off… especially if you put 4 or 5 coats of paint on without sanding. Exhibit A:

Exhibit B showcases that the stairs were once a lovely shade of black. All this paint came off with just a scraper and a little pressure.Β  Yep fun stuff. At this point we had to break out the heat guns to get the rest off so that the wood would be even and PROPERLY ready for paint.

Heat guns put out 1000 degrees of heat in a nice little focused stream. The heat gun is great for pretty much melting the paint off the wood and making it easy for scraping off. It can get a little slow though and it made a HUGE mess! Well the whole process made a massive mess. I could only work for about 2-3 hours at a time at night before i got tired and couldn’t stand the heat anymore. With temperatures outside averaging about 95 degrees having two heat guns going in the house at 1000 degrees each was not fun… Hence the project from hell. Philip was a great sport and started helping me about half way through the process. Originally I told him I would do it since the idea of completely stripping the railings was my idea (he wanted to just sand it) and I am the OCD on who cares about it being perfect. He saw how long it was taking me and stepped up to help. Boy am I glad he did! Even with both of us working on it it still took about 3 weeks to completely strip the wood.

And a freshly stripped staircase. The heat guns are great for helping the paint separate from the wood but because the paint is pretty much melting with the heat some of the paint smears onto the wood and needed to be sanded off. The insure that we didn’t have to strip the wood anytime soon we went ahead and completely sanded the wood. We made sure to go all the way down to bare wood. That meant several hours with a power sander getting the sealer and stain off the wood.

Here is a look at the post after striping and on the right is the sanded wood. I forgot to take pictures of the whole staircase after sanding. Guess I was in a hurry to paint πŸ™‚

And here is the freshly painted staircase! We actually painted it the original color since all the trim, crown molding, and baseboards are all this color. Thankfully the crown molding paint is extremely fresh and we do not need to paint it again! That is great because it is sawtooth crown molding and that stuff is a pain in the rear to paint! So all the living room, dining room, and hallway trim, crown molding, and baseboards are staying their original color (which was thankfully just plain white and went with our color palette).

And a before and after. The after shows what a difference painting the walls made! Also the wood flooring changed the feel so much. I forgot how dated the house felt with the previous wall color and nasty carpet. We’ve been replacing all the doors and the closet door downstairs has been update (from a flat panel to a raised panel) but has yet to receive a door handle and fresh paint… That story is coming up.

We are so glad that this project is over! I believe we worked on it at least once a day for three weeks straight! It is so great to have a staircase the is freshly painted and the paint doesn’t fall off into your hand when you walk up it πŸ™‚ In person the difference is huge! Since the wood had so many coats of paint on it. it just looked nasty and gross. Now it looks elegant and properly finished.

When we were working on this we would spend just as much time cleaning up as we did working; there was paint chips everywhere! We’ve been waiting to replace the upstairs carpet until this project was finished and now that it is finished we can get new carpet! We’ve gone back and forth on what to do with the carpet on the stairs. Right now we will most likely replace with carpet to match the upstairs. Eventually we would like to put wood treads in to match the flooring but we don’t want to tackle wood flooring again for a while. Regardless of what we do, we cannot wait to get this carpet out of the house. We pretty refuse to sit or walk barefoot on the carpet right now; it is pretty gross but we didn’t want to put in new carpet while we were still painting. πŸ™‚


Living and Dining Room: The demo and refinishing of the floors

Oh the living room and dining room. These two rooms were definitely on the must fix before we move in list. We knew immediately that we would be taking out this half wall and opening up the entry way. In order to take out that wall we would also have to do a lot more just to get the rooms ready to be lived in. The carpet had to come out, the wall had to come down, the columns and wall would need to be patched, and the new flooring would have to go in. Not to mention painting to cover over the marker (which was all over the walls) and the patched holes where the previous owner had a tv mounted to the wall and multiple holes for speakers.

The above image is the area pretty much has we got it at purchase.

Evidence of the wall patching (side note, previous owner had the entire house and studio area wired for speakers. There were holes EVERYWHERE from either wires or speakers being pulled out. Lots of drywall patching had to be done. That was all done by the contractor we hired before closing). Everyone who has visited the house has pretty much been put to work… Even our little nephews πŸ™‚ They had a blast helping rip up the carpet. Please note how gross the underside of the carpet is. As soon as we got the carpet out the disgusting musty smell started to quickly leave the house.

Taking the carpet out in sections so that we would be able to carry it to the truck for disposal. Thankfully my dad has a large dumpster at his work that he let us use and boy have we used it! I think total we have made at least a dozen trips to the dumpster so far while working.

Yes I was sporting a great head wrap. The great amounts of dust we were creating was settling in my hair and hats give me headaches after a couple hours. So a 1950s head wrap it was. Actually at this point I did not care what I looked like. We were working 15 hour days at the house and looking great wasn’t high priority πŸ™‚

Carpet out of the living room and prepping the half wall for demo. My dad is an electrical engineer so we had him come out and cut out the electrical lines that were running to the outlets. The wall had three outlets and we wanted to make sure we secured the electrical line properly before sealing it up in the wall that was staying. We cut power to that area of the house, cut the line off at the wall, sealed the wire with electrical tape and wire nuts, and shoved it back in the wall. Originally we thought we would go ahead and put another outlet in the full wall where the half wall was coming off but that would put two outlets within two feet of each other so we decided to just close the wire up in the wall.

And demo time on the half wall. After pulling off the dry wall we expected to see studs and a simple framing. Ha this house said nope I’ve got another surprise. The half wall had cedar siding covering the studs. Normally you would just use a reciprocating saw to cut the stud framing out and take the unit out in one piece… Since there was cedar siding covering the studs, we couldn’t do that. We had to pull the siding off both sides of the wall in order to get to the framing, basically doubling how long it would take. Oh well. We also discovered that behind the drywall on the main walls is, can you guess, yes cedar siding. Not really sure why you would want cedar siding inside your house but we have it. Thankfully it is covered in drywall and we don’t have to acknowledge its presence πŸ™‚

Finally down to the studs and ready for cut out. We created a huge mess! So glad this was done before move in!

Taking out the wall left an exposed spot on the main wall and the columns were down to studs where the wall had been. Joy of the wall patch… the wall by the door framing was about 2 inches further back than the right side. So we would have to build up the left side to match the right so the finishing board would be flush.

So you might ask, what is the gray gunk. Well that is concrete patching. For the flooring in the living and dining room we originally thought we would do stained concrete. We loved the look of it, the price, and the easy of actually staining the concrete. We also loved hardwood and thought about doing that for flooring as well. Actually truth be told, the entire month between signing our contract and closing we debated on what to do with the floors. We loved both stained concrete and hardwood and really couldn’t pick which we wanted to do. Eventually stained concrete won and mainly for budget reasons.

Then the half wall came out and with it chunks of concrete from the screws holding the studs in place… We knew we would have some patching to do from the carpet tack strips but we didn’t expect the larger chunks from the wall. Much research told us to use the concrete patch that comes in caulk form. Well it wouldn’t set. As in days went by and it was still liquid. So that meant we couldn’t do stained concrete. Secretly Philip and I both were glad that our hand was forced and we had to do hardwood. We both were nervous about staining the concrete and it turning out terrible and having to live with it for a while. So we turned toward the hardwood route. We have both put down different types of wood flooring but never glue down hardwood like we would pick. Boy was that an adventure…

Philip prepping the edge of the brick for the wood.

Both rooms prepped for hardwood. We must have swept and Shop Vaced the areas at least half a dozen times. There was so much dust and junk on the floors from the carpet pads.

And our wood nicely boxed up. We actually had a little bit of an ordeal getting the wood. Since we decided last minute to go the hardwood route we literally left the house mid project and went looking for wood that was in stock and ready for pick up that day. We had a really tight schedule for getting the floors done before move in and we didn’t want to wait till after move in to get the wood and install it. So ended up at Lumber Liquidators. Thankfully Memphis as one of their stores and they had what we were looking for in stock. We knew we wanted real, solid wood, hardwood and we wanted it really dark. They had that and it was in our budget. Well, it became in our budget when I told the guy I wanted a specific one he had in stock but it was a little out of my budget and we would probably had to order a different one. Apparently since it was the end of the month and they need to get in store inventory out of the store he worked with me and got the flooring to fit into our budget. I’m not really one to negotiate on prices (since I own my own business and I know that prices are set for a reason with overhead and taxes and all that fun business stuff) and when I mentioned that it was out of the budget I was doing so to just move on to the next step of getting something in budget… That said, if they were willing to come down that easily I was going to jump on it. Moral of the story, if you are looking for hardwood flooring go at the end of the month and look for what they have in stock; they will be wanting to move the product.

Also I must give a warning, make sure you double and triple check the boxes when getting them. We were picking up the wood ourselves and taking it away in our Jeep so we should have paid really close attention as we put it in. We check that the wood was right but we didn’t check the width of the boards. The flooring we got came in two widths and we purchased the narrower width. The employee brought out the pallet of boxes after a quick check we started loading it up. We were more worried about getting it all in out Jeep that we didn’t look at the width size. Come to find out they gave us the wrong size. They didn’t realize their error until we had gotten the wood back home and completely unloaded from the Jeep. So we had to load the wood back up, take it to the store, unload, reload the right stuff, and unload at the house again. It was a total of 23 boxes and the total load weighed 1300 pounds… so we moved 1300 pounds 6 times within 4 hours. We were aching so bad the next day! Check your boxes before loading!!

Philip and my brother-in-law David worked on getting the columns fitted for dry wall while my Aunt Kristi and sister Hillary and I started laying flooring in the dining room. The columns were a bugger! When installed they shimmed each side differently and used multiple widths of drywall on each side. No to sides were the same width out from the studs. It took the guys all day to jut get the spacing right on all sides so that the columns would be squared off, or as close to square as possible.

Closer look at dining room before flooring.

The evil columns…

P sporting my late Grandfather’s tool belt. Recently my grandmother sold her house and we inherited all her tools. She had been fixing her house up for the past 12 years and had just about every tool we would need. I can’t even begin to tell you how much money we saved not having to purchase tools. And we got a pretty awesome tool collection out of it. πŸ™‚

The dining room and hallway freshly floored! We used tongue and groove flooring that required gluing down to the actual concrete. The glue we used also acts as a moisture barrier so you have to lay it on really thick and trowel it just right. The glue is kind of a beast. Ok, no holding back, it was a demon. It was really hard to spread the glue since it was so thick and it got everywhere! We wore gloves and we were still covered in the glue by the end of the night. It also got residue all on the top of the wood from it being on our gloves. We were using latex gloves and I think we went through 100 pair just in this area. Even with throwing away a pair when you got glue on them we still managed to get the glue everywhere. As we worked we wiped the glue off, as told by the people at the flooring store.

Little did we know that by wiping the glue off with towels and water we were actually leaving behind a fine residue that would not make itself known till later. It would take over 18 hours of scrubbing the floors on our hands and knees to get the residue completely off.

Helpful hints for putting in hardwood flooring that you glue down:

1. If you get glue on the wood, leave it. Let it dry and then come back the very next day and use industrial adhesive remover and a credit card to get it off. By letting the glue dry on you will be able to get all the glue off and you won’t have to worry about residue.

2. If you do have residue streaks on the wood nothing will get it off except Magic Erasers. We tried literally everything the stores had for getting residue off and nothing worked but the Magic Erasers. Since the flooring had been sealed with an acrylic finish the Erasers were safe to use on them. We tested a left over piece of wood and let it sit for a couple hours before we used the M.E. on the whole floor. We had been scrubbing for days with all the other chemicals and were getting terrible headaches from the fumes. Magic Erasers got the residue off with minimal scrubbing and had no fumes! We made sure to wipe the area with a damp rag and then go over it with a dry rag right after we use the M.E. on the wood. We wanted to make sure no chemical was left on the surface of the wood.Β  For days I thought we had ruined our floors with the residue and when they finally came clean I cried tears of joy. No really, I cried.

We picked a hand scraped birch in 3 3/8 inch planks. I really love the texture of the wood! Side note, birch is a pretty soft wood and can easily be scratched. I’ve already put a good scratch in the flooring from scooting a box across it and it having a little rock under it… if you have young kids, probably not the best wood for you.

Philip trimming out the coulmns with baseboard. For thresholds we decided to purchase bare t-molding and stain it ourselves to match the wood. Two reasons for doing this. 1. They did not have the t-molding we needed in stock and it was going to take about 2 weeks to get in. 2. T-molding that is prestained to match your wood cost double that of unfinished wood. We saved several hundred dollars staining it ourselves. We were able to match it perfectly and you would never know we stained and sealed it ourselves.

Finished dining room!

Finished living room! Look closely and you can see the residue streaks… This was before our hours of scrubbing…


Amydog approves!

Huge warning! I got the flooring glue all over me when putting down the floors. In order to get it off your skin you have to use Mineral Spirits. I let the Mineral Spirits rest on my skin for to long and got 2nd degree chemical burns on both my legs. Chemical burns are not fun!!! Please take caution and wear long pants, gloves, and long sleeve shirts when working with this glue. It is a monster and gets everywhere. Three weeks later and we are STILL finding it on our skin. The second day we worked on the floors I suited up in a full jumpsuit to prevent glue exposure. I’m not kidding, it is ridiculous!

A before and after of the dining room.

And a before and after of the living room. Amazing how much more space we got with taking out that half wall!