Summer Happenings

Well hello friends! It’s been a while, and I had a few minutes – for the first time in what seems like ages – so I figured I’d give you a quick update on what we’ve been up to this summer!

If my lack of presence on the blog doesn’t give it away, we’ve been rather busy this summer! Here’s a sneak peak at some of the highlights!

At the beginning of June, we took a trip back to Minnesota, and what a wonderful trip it was! In a matter of ten days I got to watch my brother get married… jason_wedding

We hung out with the Sendelbach family at Jellystone…


And I got to stand by one of my college roommates as she married the man of her dreams.


After we got back, we had just a few short weeks to get the house put together enough for visitors. That’s right, Steve’s brothers Ryan and Nathan decided to drive out to visit us and spend fourth of July weekend with us!


And what better way to spend the fourth of July then by watching fireworks at our Nation’s Capitol!



We also took the boys to Steven F. Udvay-Hazy Center, a hangar associated with the Air and Space Museum. The hangar included tons of planes and space items. We got to see an SR-71 Blackbird, the Enola Gay, and an actual space shuttle!


Ryan and Nathan weren’t our only visitors this summer; Steve’s other brother, Phil, and his wife Emily came to visit just a few weeks ago.


And somehow in the midst of all the trips, visitors, and adventures, we managed to get some home improvement projects done! Like our guest bedroom… spare_room

As summer winds down, we’ve been hitting the home renovations hard. We’re currently in the process of finishing our stairs, and we’re hoping to have most of our current projects finished by October. Stay tuned for updates!

Until our next adventure,



Kitchen cabinets and a weekend with dad {renovation update #8}

We’re finally starting to get back in the swing of home renovations. After all the moving and unpacking, we needed a little bit of a break. Not to mention that the weather here has been gorgeous lately making it hard to focus on renovations inside.

Our goal at move-in was to have a fully functioning kitchen, and I am glad to report that we achieved exactly that. The kitchen may not be 100% finished yet, but it is definitely usable!

When we last left off in the home renovation saga, we had just finished installing the hardwood floors, and we were finally ready for kitchen cabinets! As with some of the other projects that we’ve tackled in the house, Steve and I had no idea how to install cabinets. Usually we resort to YouTube and the internet, but we got lucky this time; we had an expert carpenter who was going to come help us! That’s right, my dad, who used to be a full-time carpenter, flew out for the weekend to help us set all of the cabinets!

We actually began the kitchen design process back in November before we even closed on the house. When we were doing our home inspection, we took measurements of the kitchen and started talking to a few kitchen design centers to see what options we had. We knew we were going to put in a brand new kitchen and we had a pretty good handle on a logical design for the space, but we definitely wanted some expert opinions. A new kitchen is a pretty big investment!

After talking with our buddy Jim over at Cabinet Discounters, here’s what we came up with.


We had decided on maple cabinets that were a toffee color with a more traditional door style. We ended up purchasing cabinets that were pretty middle of the road price-wise. We weren’t willing to shell out a lot of money for total custom cabinets, but we weren’t really impressed with the options available with the cheapest cabinets.

Even though we did our designing in November, we didn’t actually order the cabinets until February. We wanted to make sure that our load bearing wall could be taken down and our water lines could be relocated before placing the final order. After placing our order, it didn’t take more than a few weeks, and they were sitting taking over our living room!


Luckily, my dad came only a few days after the cabinets were delivered. Even though we weren’t living in the house at the time, they took up an awful lot of space that we were ready to reclaim. So with everything in place, the cabinet fun began! Step number one, take the cabinets out of the box.

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We hang the upper cabinets first. After locating and marking all the studs and determining the height at which we wanted the cabinets to be, it was time to hang the first one in place.

We started in the corner and worked from left to right. We had snapped a chalk line at the appropriate height, so we just lined it up and attached it to both the wall and to the cabinet next to it.

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Attaching cabinets to each other

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Measuring and then measuring some more

The uppers were smooth sailing until we got to the very last cabinet, and even then, nothing went wrong, it just got a bit more complicated. Due to the length of the wall and the bulkhead, we had to do a little bit of detail work. First, we had to use what they call filler strips to properly space the cabinets.

We also had to notch a corner out of the cabinet for the bulkhead. Of course this bulkhead wasn’t a 90 degree corner so the cut we had to make wasn’t a right angle, but luckily for us, it was no match for our master carpenter.

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With the uppers in place, it was time to tackle the lower cabinets.

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The first thing we did was get all of the cabinets out of boxes and set up in the correct order.

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This was after one day of work…not too shabby considering we had installed the floors in the morning and only spent the afternoon on the cabinets!

Despite what you may think, the lower cabinets were actually much harder than the upper cabinets to get started. With the uppers, we simply placed the cabinet in the corner and attached it to the wall. However, with the lower cabinets the corner cabinets were lazy susans, which were round and didn’t fit snugly against the wall. Let’s just say there was lots of measuring and leveling involved.

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We learned that the most important tool when installing cabinets is a level!

Similarly to the upper cabinets, once level and in position, the lower cabinets were screwed to the wall, if possible, and to each other. We also screwed the cabinets in the peninsula to the floor to ensure they didn’t move around before the granite was delivered.

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After all the uppers and lowers were in place, we had one last cabinet to install. There was a cabinet and a wooden panel to install over the refrigerator.

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It makes me so happy to see my two favorite boys working together!

With the cabinets all in place, it was time to start putting on the finishing touches. First up, crown molding! It didn’t take my dad long to admit that he wasn’t exactly thrilled that we had crown molding, mainly because he had never worked with it before. However, after putting all our heads together and a few many, many tries we were able to get the angles correct and the molding nailed in place.

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It was fun to get a chance to work with my dad again!

The next finishing detail was the toe kick, which was really pretty simple. When the cabinets arrive, they do not have the toe kick finished, and after you put all the cabinets in place it looks a little something like this.

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To cover all the gaps in between the cabinets then sent us a thin strip of wood that matched the color of the cabinets. All we had to do was measure the appropriate length, cut it, and attach it with the brad nailer.

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The final task we had left was to fill in all of the holes we had just made. With the cabinets we got a wax stick that was the same color as the cabinets. Then it was time to pull out the rusty crayon coloring skills from Kindergarten. That’s right, you literally just colored the holes until they disappeared. It was a lot of fun!

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And with that we had a kitchen!

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Don’t get me wrong, we still had some work to do, like getting counter tops and tiling a back splash, but it was starting to look like a kitchen! We had a great time with my dad, and we are incredibly grateful and thankful for all of his help! Next time he comes to visit I’ll be able to cook him some tasty food!

Until our next renovation update,


Hershey Park {round 2}

Spring is finally here!


The view off our deck

And springtime means our annual trip to Hershey Park! If you recall, every year Steve’s company rents out the entire amusement park. We still have to pay for our tickets, but they are at a discounted price, and the best part is that because tickets are limited to Northrop Grumman friends and family, the lines for all the rides are really short!


Welcome to Hershey Park!

We carpooled with our friends Andrew and Felicia, and we met up with some of Steve’s co-workers for lunch and a few roller coasters.



Steve and Felicia don’t really like roller coasters, so they found their way to the arcade while Andrew and I (and others) were out riding the coasters.




Steve and Felicia showing off their winnings from the arcade!

I was able to get Steve on one roller coaster called the Trail Blazer.


I’ll take any chance I can get to ride a roller coaster with this guy!


We also made sure to go on some rides that weren’t roller coasters. First up, the Kissing Tower!



A view of the park from the top of the Kissing Tower!


We also hit up the ferris wheel.


What this picture doesn’t show is the cold rain pelting us!

And what is a trip to an amusement park without some junk food!


Bacon Ranch Cheesy Fries…DELICIOUS!!!


This picture pretty much sums us up.


Felicia searched far and wide for a funnel cake…and she finally found one!

We had great weather until about 4:00, when it started to rain. We had been there since it opened at 10:00, so we decided to hit up Chocolate World and then head home.


The infamous singing animatronic cows!

We had a great time with some great friends, and we can’t wait to go again next year!

Until our next adventure,


Flooring fun {renovation update #7}

Well, this happened a few weeks ago. FLOOR12

That’s right, we finally moved in!

I’ve grown to hate moving, not because I’ve had a particularly bad moving experience, but because I’ve done it almost every year for the last eight years. However, I am happy to report that this was by far the easiest move I have ever done, not to mention hopefully the last for a while. I’m guessing most of it has to do with the fact that we have amazing friends who volunteered their time, strength, and large vehicles to help us. We had 11 people, 3 trucks, a suburban, and a large car, and we moved everything in three hours!

However, enough about the move. Let’s rewind about six weeks, when we had just finished the drywall and painting.

The next project on our list was one that both Steve and I were pretty excited and nervous about…installing hardwood floors! We were excited because it was really going to start pulling things together, but nervous because neither of us had ever actually installed hardwood floors before. After watching countless hours of HGTV and a few YouTube videos, we figured it couldn’t be too hard, and we jumped right in.

The first thing we had to do was make sure the floors were really clean and level. You don’t want dust or other debris under the floor because they will cause your floors to squeak in the future, and the same is true for uneven floors.


The belt sander was a BEAST!


Rookie mistake…letting the wife know you can vacuum!


Ready for floors!

Before we could start putting the floors down, we had to put down a vapor barrier to protect the floors from moisture. It reminded me a lot of putting tar paper on a roof. You simply roll it out and staple it down to the floor.


A big concern when installing hardwood floors is making sure that your boards run straight. It was an even bigger concern for us given that we were going to lay almost thirty feet of flooring. If we started going crooked in the beginning, you can only imagine how much the crookedness would be magnified by the end.

To ensure a straight start, we measured a board’s width (plus a little bit for an expansion gap) away from the wall at both corners of the room and snapped a chalk line. This was going to be our starting line.

However, it wasn’t just as simple as lining up our first board on the line and nailing it in. We had to do a little bit of back tracking because we had to put floors down in the doorway near our new sliding door. We lined up boards on our chalk line and worked backwards, measuring and cutting the boards that would fit in the doorway. After we did a dry fit to guarantee everything fit the way we wanted it to, it was time to nail them down.


Steve was looking forward to the nailing part of the floors because it involved playing with a bunch of different air nailers. You know what they say about boys and their toys! The primary nail gun we were going to use looked like this:


It is specially designed for nailing hardwood floors. It fits right in the tongue of the floorboard so the nail shoots diagonally into the floor in just the right place. It also has a handle that allows you to stand while nailing, instead of getting up and down off the floor a million times. To activate the gun, you simply hit the designated button with a mallet and BOOM, you have a nail.

This nail gun was an absolute miracle. I’m not sure how they used to install hardwood floors before they were invented! Unfortunately, we weren’t able to use it near the walls. Instead, we had to use a smaller nail gun and put a nail through the top of the floors, commonly known as face nailing. After we finish all of the floors, (Spoiler alert: We haven’t actually finished all of the floors in the house…but we have finished most of them) we are going to go back and fill all these little holes in with wood filler and stain them the same color as the floor.

The first few rows were the most tedious, both because we wanted to ensure we started straight and we were still learning how to do it.



Yet another superstar friend, Felicia, helping us out!

However, once we figured out our rhythm, there was no stopping us.


Step 1: Take wood out of box


Step 2: Lay out floors


Step 3: Nail down floors



Not bad for one day!

By the end of the weekend, we had about two-thirds of the main floor finished. It wasn’t quite as far as we’d hoped to get, seeings as my dad was coming the following weekend to help us install the kitchen cabinets, but it was far enough that we could finish the floors and have enough time to install the cabinets while my dad was in town.


Unfortunately the last picture I have of the floors…

All in all, our first flooring adventure was a success. It is definitely a very physically demanding job; when I woke up on Monday morning, my legs were very sore from getting up and down off the floor so many times.

Steve and I have a pretty good system down, and the few floors we have left will be a breeze.

Until our next renovation update,


Mud, sand, repeat {renovation update #6}

Any time you mention mudding and taping to anyone who has done it before, you typically get the same response – one of hatred. When it came time to mud and tape all the drywall we had just hung, Steve and I were confident that it couldn’t be that bad.

For those of you unfamiliar with mudding and taping, it is the process in which you smooth out all of the seams and screw holes in the drywall using a plaster-like substance called mud. This is what gives the walls the flat look that you see after you paint them.

The first step in the process is to tape all of the seams where two pieces of drywall meet, including the corners. The reason you have to tape the seams before filling them with mud is to prevent cracking in the future.

There are two different types of tape – paper and fiberglass. We used the fiberglass tape, mainly because it was easier to apply. Simply put, it was a roll of self-adhesive mesh. It looked a little something like this.


All we had to do run the tape over the seam. Since it’s self-adhering, it easily stuck to the drywall.


After the tape was up, it was time to break out the mud.


When it came to mudding, we learned that it definitely sounds a lot easier than it actually is. The mudding process ultimately goes like this – take some mud on a putty knife, spread it on the wall, and let it dry. Sounds easy, right?


Just keep mudding…mudding…mudding…

When we first started, it was definitely not that easy. It took us some time to figure out the appropriate amount of mud to apply, what tools worked best, and what techniques worked best in the different areas. The perks of having to apply multiple coats of mud is that it gives you lots of practice! By the end we were getting pretty good!


After each layer of mud had dried, we had to sand the surface. If you’re thinking that this sounds like an absolute mess, you’re right. The dust produced from sanding the mud was really fine and got EVERYWHERE! Whenever we were sanding, we usually left the house looking like we had gray hair and white skin. (Huge shout out to our friends Amanda and Kevin who not only helped us hang all the drywall, but were around for multiple sandings!)


This fancy sanding block made sanding interior corners much easier!


And when you’ve finished sanding all the seams, you start over. You are supposed to apply three coats of mud, and in some places I’m pretty sure we applied more than that because it didn’t look quite right yet.

Knowing when to stop was definitely one of the hardest parts of mudding. As soon as you think you’re done and you look somewhere else, you see something you want to fix.

After two weeks of mudding, we called it good enough. There are definitely a few places that aren’t as perfect as we hoped to get them, but nobody has said anything about it yet. 🙂



With the mudding officially complete, we went ahead and painted the entire main floor of the house…in a weekend!

We stuck with pretty neutral wall colors because I’m really not sure how I’m going to decorate yet. I figured it was easier to change pillows and curtains than it was to change entire wall colors. Also, with the space being so open concept, I wasn’t really sure how to transition colors from one space to another. I have an idea for an accent wall in the dining room, but we aren’t going to worry about that until later.


Our renovation superstar friend, Amanda, painting the ceiling

The biggest change we made was getting rid of the sun mural that was on our living room wall. It was a little too 70’s for us…


Here’s what it looks like now. Sooo much better!


The kitchen got painted a little funny because we didn’t see the point of painting walls we were just going to cover with cabinets. We painted the area around the window that I knew you would see, as well as the area between the base and wall cabinets. We are planning on putting up a backsplash in the future, but until then I figured beige walls looked better than drywall.



If you’ve been following our progress on Facebook, you know that we’re actually much further than this. In fact, the entire kitchen is already installed and functioning. 🙂 However, to get to that point has required many long hours, meaning I haven’t had much time to blog. I have pictures and will eventually get around to getting all of our renovation adventures up here. We move into the new house in two weeks, so you probably won’t here from me until after we’re settled. So if you don’t hear from me for a while, don’t worry – I’ll be back…I promise!

Until our next renovation update,


Duct work and drywall {renovation update #5}

I hope everyone had a wonderful Valentines Day! Steve and I spent a romantic evening working on the house while sharing a bottle of wine. It was a pretty perfect evening!


We’ve been hit by both sickness (again…) and bad weather these past few weeks, but we’re still managing to make progress on the house. We have officially hit the point in the renovation where we are starting to close things up and put the house back together, starting with the big hole we tore in the dining room ceiling. However, before we could officially close it up, we had to do one last thing…

Back when we tore the wall down in our kitchen, we discovered that the cold air return from the upstairs was being routed through this wall. This meant that we had to get creative and figure out some alternative way to get the air back to the furnace to be recirculated. We had an HVAC professional come out and give us a quote on his solution. He talked about connecting up to some existing ducts in the basement, running up the wall of the main floor, and hooking onto the duct in the ceiling. It sounded complicated, not to mention expensive.

Steve had done some thinking about the problem already and had a solution he wanted to throw out to the HVAC guy. There was already a duct routed to the basement underneath the stairs. It was a straight shot (well, relatively straight) to this duct from the existing one, so Steve was thinking we could just hook the two up and the air would be directed downstairs, right where it needed to go. After hearing this, the HVAC guy seemed to think that was a much better idea. He also informed us that there were no permits required for the alterations we wanted to do, meaning we could do the work ourselves, and that’s exactly what we did.

As with everything in our house, the duct that we needed was a custom size, meaning we couldn’t just walk into Lowe’s and buy what we needed. We had the piece made by the local HVAC company that had come out to give us a quote, and this is what they gave us.


Doesn’t exactly look like a duct, does it…

The first step of this process was to remove the end cap that was on the duct we wanted to extend. This sounds trivial but was far from it. The piece of metal on the end of the cap had been notched and crimped, but with a few tools and a little hard work, it didn’t stand a chance against Steve.

After the end of was off, we were ready to hook up our new ducts. Because we had to direct the duct over by about 12 inches, we used a combination of straight and angled ducts. The angled ducts were already constructed. However, since the HVAC company was unsure of exactly how long the straight pieces needed to be, we were given an 8 foot duct that we needed to cut to size and assemble.


The straight ducts were pretty easy to assemble. We simply cut each half of the duct to the desired length, slid them together, and made sure they were tight. Then it was up into the ceiling where they was connected to the existing duct.


After everything was in place, it was time to seal the joints using a nasty smelling putty.



Oh, and duct tape!


Who woulda thought to use duct tape on actual ducts!?!?!

It didn’t take more than a few hours and we had the new duct in the ceiling. After we were sure it wasn’t going anywhere, it was time to close up the ceiling. That’s right, it was finally time for drywall!



We started our drywall adventure in the dining room, where we had just finished installing the new duct. There was no way Steve and I were going to lift a full piece of drywall up to the ceiling and hold it in place while one of us screwed it in, so we called in the troops. We were fortunate to have our friends Kevin and Amanda come over and give us a hand. Unfortunately, all hands were on deck for this project, so I don’t have any pictures of us putting these pieces up, but here’s what it looked like afterwards:


The actual process of hanging drywall is pretty simple. Take measurements, cut the piece to size (and cut holes for electrical boxes), and screw it on the wall. I was expecting that we would be able to hang all of our drywall in a weekend, but it ended up taking us a whole week.



Cutting out a hole for an electrical box



Part of the reason it took so long was due to the fact that we had a ton of little pieces to hang due to the odd shape of the area we were covering. This is a big no no in the world of dry-walling, but we had no choice; believe me, we paid for it when it came time to mud and tape!

The other reason it took us so long was because of an incident we had with our thermostat. The thermostat was located on a wall that needed a piece of drywall, which seemed pretty simple to us – unhook the thermostat, pull the wires through a hole in the drywall, and reattach the thermostat. After we got everything hooked back up, we noticed that the heat wasn’t turning back on. It turns out we forgot one crucial step…turning the breaker for the thermostat off. Luckily we just blew a fuse on the furnace and we were able to have it repaired the next morning.


This is what the thermostat looked like when I got to the house the morning they came to fix the furnace. Brrrrr…

Oh, and during the week we were hanging drywall, we had this beauty installed! Soooo much better than the ugly brown door that was there before. Not to mention that it keeps the cold out!


We’re just about done with the mudding and taping, but I’ll save that for another post. 🙂

Until our next adventure,


House juices are flowing {renovation update #4}

I’m happy to report that the flu has almost left the Sendelbach house! Steve still has a little bit of a residual cough, but we’re back at it again, and the house juices are officially flowing!

First off, the electricians came two weeks ago. It took them two entire days of work, but we have electricity flowing through the house! They reconfigured all of the outlets in the kitchen, ran wire for pendant lights over the peninsula, added overhead lighting in the living room, dining room, and all three bedrooms, and they brought the house up to code by installing smoke detectors in all the required places – no wonder it took them two days!

We don’t have any actual outlets in the kitchen yet (the electrical is only roughed-in…), so I guess we will just keep supplying power to the main level via extension cord from the upstairs bathroom. I can’t wait until we have functional outlets down there!


All those blue boxes are future outlets

There have also been a lot of creative juices flowing lately, as we have started painting in the upstairs bedrooms! I’m really excited because painting means that we’re finally done tearing things apart (for the most part!) and we are starting putting the house back together!

We chose to start in the master bedroom because that is the one room we really want complete before we move in. We could live in a room that is completely torn apart, but we’re all for avoiding that if possible!

If you recall, the master bedroom looked a little something like this:


That’s right…pink walls, pink ceiling, pink trim, pink doors, and heck, even pick outlets! That’s right, even the actual outlets were painted pink! I’m not really sure who thought it was a good idea to stick a paint brush in an outlet, but it’s definitely not something I would do!

If an entire pink room wasn’t enough, the room had been painted poorly (drips running down the wall, obnoxious streaking where a paint brush was used, etc.) in a glossy paint…which added another level of complexity to the process.

The first thing we had to do to prepare the walls for painting was to patch all of the holes in the wall using spackling. And believe me, there were a lot of holes to patch! There were random pin holes all over the room, plant hooks that had been gouged into the ceiling, multiple sets of window coverings that had been hung haphazardly, cracks over the doorways, and the closet had a hole large enough that it could have been from somebody’s fist!

Luckily, spackling itself is pretty easy. You simply put some spackle on a putty knife,



And spread it in the hole and let it dry.


You don’t need to worry about getting it perfectly smooth because after it dries it gets a nice sanding.


Nice big crack above the door that Steve did a great job patching

Speaking of sanding, that was our next step in the bedroom. If you recall, the paint on the walls had a glossy finish, meaning that there would be nothing for the new paint to adhere to. We had to create a rough surface for the paint to stick to, and we did that by sanding the entire room…by hand!


That has definitely been my least favorite part of the renovation. It was really dusty and you saw no progress being made. However, it was a great arm workout!

After everything had been sanded, including the ceiling, it was time for a quick wash and then we were ready to paint!


All prepped for painting!

The first part of the room we painted was the ceiling, which was much more difficult than both Steve and I had imagined. It was hard for a few reasons. First of all, the tools we had for the job weren’t exactly the best. We had purchased a roller that had a splatter shield to prevent us from getting more paint on ourselves than on the ceiling, but I swear the roller wasn’t actually circular. When you ran it across the ceiling it felt somewhat like I imagine it would feel driving a car with square tires. Plus, the fact that the ceiling was glossy made it really easy for our uneven roller to just slide across the ceiling instead of rolling.


After two coats of ceiling paint, it was time for the walls! Our bedroom has a rustic Americana theme, so we decided to go with a neutral tan room (Nomadic Desert from Sherwin-Williams to be exact). I had toyed with the idea of a deep blue accent wall that matches the blue in our quilt, but I don’t want the room to get too dark, so we’re going to hold off for now.


It looks soooooo much better!

We used Sherwin-Williams’ Emerald paint, and let me tell you, that stuff is AMAZING!! It is self-priming (so there was no need to prime the wall) and was incredibly thick, meaning it only took one coat. I had originally gotten two gallons of paint tinted that color, but we didn’t even go through a half gallon! I guess some other places in our house are going to be that color too!

We still have a little bit of painting to do in this room, like the closet and the window, but I’m just thankful it is no longer pink!


I couldn’t resist! Love my hubby!

Besides painting, there have been a few other creative juices flowing as well. My company had free tickets to the Remodeling Expo being held in Baltimore. Since the tickets were free, we thought we would go check it out, perhaps find some inspiration.


However, when we got there, it looked like this.


That’s right, there was no one there! We went to the show on Friday night, which happened to be the first day of the expo. I expected it to be slow, but not dead. Because there was no one there, we were swarmed by just about everybody that had a booth. After getting suckered into making two appointments for free window estimates, we got much better at telling people we weren’t interested. In the end the expo wasn’t what we had hoped, but you never know until you check it out!

On a happier note, we officially ordered our kitchen cabinets! Feast your eyes on a sneak peak of the kitchen that will soon be! It is going to be AWESOME!


Design by Cabinet Discounters

Next up, drywall!

Until our next renovation update,