September 1, 2015

There is a lot to do on the exterior. I really love it, and it was one of the house’s selling points, but there are still several tweaks (well, some more than tweaks) we would like to make.

EXTERIOR BEFORE from Rachel Schultz

The biggest project is building a portico, which is probably on a next summer or the summer after timeline. There are lots of easier and inexpensive projects to work on until then.

  1. Weed flowerbeds
  2. Remove bushes
  3. Plant new, smaller bushes
  4. Spruce up mailbox
  5. Paint shutters and garage trim
  6. Paint front door
  7. Build portico
  8. Replace house numbers
  9. Replace light fixtures
  10. Re-key locks
  11. Trim trees back from roof
  12. Improve grading around house
  13. Repaint basketball court
  14. Fix basketball hoop
  15. Build window boxes
  16. Replace paths with brick
  17. Fix dormer pane
  18. Add fence (maybe!)

EXTERIOR BEFORE from Rachel Schultz-2 EXTERIOR BEFORE from Rachel Schultz-4

The other day when I was on a walk with baby I had to double take at our house. The weeds have become so bad, far worse than the above pictures (and they were already rough then.) With winter coming, I do not have much emphasis on exterior tasks, but I am starting to feel like we are being cruel to our neighbors with how out of hand our landscaping is. We are not dead beats! We are busy working on the inside!

It can be hard to prioritize the outside of the home when the interior has much more impact on daily life. And yet, I plan to do a red on the front door and have half a mind to paint it before Christmas. It is a totally an indulgent, cosmetic project, but I cannot really help myself. For people with red front doors, Christmas is one of the best times of the year to appreciate it. (Summer and Fourth of July are fun too. Really, red doors are just lovely year-round.)


August 31, 2015

A common temptation for brand new home owners is to be so thrilled about nesting in their new house (and maybe leaving behind the restrictions of rentals) that they just want to paint, paint, paint every room in a bold color. I think this can be a mistake – a mistake I have made it before!

Choosing to not have the kitchen yellow! The living room green! The hallway blue! etc. will do a lot for a house’s sense of continuity and calm. As boring as it sounds, some good design advice I have learned is to choose mostly muted down neutrals. Then, if there is one room you really want to pop with a saturated or daring color you can go for it.


I am not very good at “editing” while shopping. In the aisle of a store, I can be so emotionally swayed that I lose much ability to critically assess a purchase. Colors of things is the worst! Is this a good teal or bad teal? I never trust my gut and overthink it.

Creating a home color palette has been really helpful. It is handy when shopping and allows me to focus on the colors and materials of the large elements in a space. A house can have different vibes from room to room while still keeping an underlying cohesion with the color scheme.

The palette for our house (in rough order of prominence): is white, medium wood, black, antique brass, emerald, olive, tan leather, mustard, red, and navy. I have to note I hate sage green and it is making an appearance in the photo above. It is a place holder for Martha Stewart’s similar yet, oh so different “Pup Tent” which I could not locate in Home Depot. Do they not sell her paints anymore? Who does?

I am writing a whole separate post about choosing whites. On our first floor, every room will be white except for the family room (black!, as I shared here) and the powder room will probably be a graphic wallpaper.

Lastly, I reserve the right to change everything.


August 27, 2015

The hardwoods have arrived! The hardwoods have arrived! They got here about a week ago, but we were going through “the acclimating phase.” It will be the easiest step of the process as it is where you just let the flooring sit in the room it will be installed in for 7-10 days to acclimate to the heat and moisture of your house.


A rental truck was needed to transport the goods. We had to get a massive 26 footer, not for volume, but weight capacity. Having the floors delivered to just the garage was going to be $250, but renting the truck and moving it ourselves was somewhere around $75.

The flooring for the whole house weighed 6,500 pounds. That is over three tons. Looking back, I am impressed David, his brother, and brother’s fiance moved over three tons from the truck to the house in one evening. (Half of which was to the second floor). I bought them all slushies, if it helps make up for it. As the pregnant girl, I had the important job of standing around and talking to them.

David took the time during the acclimation process to research and prepare for the great DIY task at hand. There are lots of tools needed to get this big job done.



  1. Wood putty ($5)
  2. Wood glue ($8)
  3. Pry bar ($10)
  4. Spacers ($6)
  5. Dead blow hammer ($17)
  6. Nylon tapping block ($14)
  7. Finishing nails ($3)
  8. Safety glasses ($6)
  9. Work gloves ($15)
  10. Face mask ($2)
  11. Knee pads: a must! ($15)
  12. Push broom ($20)
  13. Jamb saw ($20)
  14. Staple gun ($16)
  15. Chalk reel kit ($6)
  16. Shop vac: our house’s former owners left one, but it was very old and rusty so we went ahead and bought this one new ($50)
  17. Painter’s tool: we like this one ($6)



There is great variance in how much you can spend on underlayment (the material laid between the subfloor and hardwoods). After some research, we chose to do the least expensive option, silicone paper. This material would cost only $120 for the entire house, while the next cheapest one would be $900 and the fancy stuff is up to $1,580.

Our friend Jon the Professional told us this: “I’ve installed both types, and haven’t noticed a big difference in how it feels to walk on, although I do think the expensive stuff helps with noise for the level below. Also, the cheaper stuff is easier to work with.” When I asked him about using silicone paper in some rooms and the nicer underlayment in certain ones (like kitchen for more moisture or temperature protection), he said a transition in underlayment would be noticeable in the finished floor. Cheap stuff all the way it is then, especially on first floor when noise protection for below is not important. 



  1. Pneumatic flooring nailer: you can rent these
  2. Nail gun: We opted for the Porter Cable 16 Gauge Nail Gun. It comes with an air compressor and Porter Cable is a good brand ($179)
  3. Miter saw: David chose the Ryobi 10 inch Miter saw for its strong customer reviews and considerably low price ($120)
  4. Drill: This Ridgid Cordless drill was covered under a service warranty and is a nice middle ground on the quality and price spectrum. David has loved the two batteries it comes with to allow you to work continually ($200)

It was fun to begin our power tool collection. The other two I currently have my eye on are a paint sprayer and sander. Of course I will do copious (and perhaps excessive) amounts of research before buying a specific one. All we have before us now is a little bit (a lot?) of tile demo and ripping up carpet before we can prepare the subfloor and get to laying some planks.

Copyright © Rachel Schultz 2015

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