DIY: Kitchen Renovations – Part One

The bigger picture.

Our kitchen is finally coming together, its been a labour of love and planning, now just to add the finishing touches, we will be ready to move on to our next project.

Going back a while, when we viewed the house prior to purchasing it, this is what we walked in to.

The picture on the right shows the entrance from the garage into the kitchen. The floor tiles were having an effect on my eyesight!

The floor tiles were slate with rough grooves and totally unsuitable for a kitchen.

Wall and floor cabinets were the original units built in the 1980’s

Renovation underway. First, take up the floor tiles, then remove all the existing predated cabinets. The curtains had to go!

 

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The floor had to be leveled, popcorn ceiling re-boarded and skimmed. Temporary cabinets in place (garage shelves). Did you notice that there is no sink, dishwasher or range. We were literally camping.

Moving forward –

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We have cabinets

Thank goodness I measured the floor correctly, the pattern we designed fit perfectly

DSC00808DSC01690Slowly our kitchen renovation project is coming together. Under cabinet lighting installed. My husband tried his hand at tiling the backsplash. Tiles from Home Depot.

Floor tiles from Tile and Stone Express Douglasville

Appliances from Appliance Smart

The floor tiles we decided to take into the hallway as you enter from the garage and also into the downstairs half bath. More photographs in our next DI Y series.

Kitchen Renovations – Part One. More to come. The finale. Watch this space

 

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Spring Time – Planning – Outdoor Dining

I guess we shouldn’t complain about the weather, but, being English it seems to be a favourite pastime. It has been a bizarre winter here in Georgia. No snow – thankfully, no dangerous icy roads to contend with. Although we have had cold temperatures several days below freezing, lots of rain, dark mornings and evenings.

Today however, it is been a more spring like day, blue skies, wispy white clouds and warm.
I am itching to get out in the garden and plant some colour in tubs, in the ground and on our deck. But it is still February!

So time to plan, I took a stroll around Pikes Nursery (Garden Centre), to see what plants were already in bloom. Of course what you would expect, pansies, daffodils, hyacinths, beautiful Camellia shrubs in hues of creamy white, delicate pinks and bold reds. Next Walmart, Lowes and Home Depot for ideas.
We wanted to build on what we had achieved last year.

New seating , tables and colourful flower tubs were added last year after the new deck was built.

Time to replace the old dining set with something more modern. This Eucalyptus set really caught my eye. Stylish and reasonably priced from Home Depot! Some assembly required.

Dining Chairs assembled , with colourful seat cushions from Walmart and Home Sweet Home back cushions – great value for money.

We added string lights to the deck and an outdoor ceiling fan.

All we need now is some warm weather for Alfresco Dining.

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Redefining a Bonus Room – Office Space

I dont know about you but I can not work in clutter, no matter what room it is.

My office space is a bonus room over the garage, its quite a quirky layout. It was one of the reasons we bought this house. It reminds me of a space that may have been for a maid or a housekeepers room as its access through a small back hallway behind the attached garage and off the kitchen, kind of like “Upstairs Downstairs” era.

I do pride myself on a tidy and clean house. My nursing background coming out. When we were new trainees, the first thing we were taught was to clean! yes! patients beds, lockers, treatment areas had to be damp dusted, before our other duties began.

Our appearance also had to be tidy. No hair below the collar of your uniform, no nail varnish, jewelry 1 pair of earrings – studs only, 1 plain wedding band, dress below knee length. Very strict!

But I digress.

Initially we used the bonus room as a bedroom/office but it didn’t really work because of the shape of the room. It became my office space and to be frank a bit of a dumping ground. This time I was determined to get the best out of the room and move things round. We also want to buy a day bed so we have extra accommodation if we need it as we converted another bedroom into an office space for my husband.

Shopping now for window blinds. Then, mission accomplished.

Now if only I can persuade my husband to do the same with his office area? Seriously, this really needs some thought.

Next joint venture when the weather is a little warmer tackling The Garage.

 

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Summer Holiday Shopping

Its January and the weather here looks beautiful. Blue skies, wispy white clouds and the sun is shining. But, don’t be deceived as the overnight temperatures here fell to 20 degrees Fahrenheit! The highest it will climb to is in the 40’s range today, so its cozy up today and retrieve indoors with the heating on full blast. Call me chicken if you want but…..living most of my life in the UK I have weathered many a storm.

We are looking at organizing our summer holidays, why not cheer ourselves up. We have some special birthdays coming up so we are planning a family holiday later in the year. Destination possibly The Spanish Islands.

Warm sunny climate, relaxing by the pool or on the beach sipping cocktails.

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Once we have taken in the options, pricing, views and facilities. It is time to switch from January’s chilly weather and dream a little of Sun, Sand and Sangria.

Do I have spaces for a couple more summer outfits and accessories?

 

Beach Cover-ups – Amazon.com

 

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Bravissimo.com is my place to go for essential undergarments and beachwear.

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Sun protection with a classic sun hat and ritzy glitzy sandals.

 

And so ready for the beach. Beach accessories at Amazon.com

Anyone for cocktails?

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I am certainly getting into the holiday spirit.

Cheers everyone.

How are your holiday plans going?

 

 

 

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Our Trip to Northern Cyprus

We have been very fortunate this year to have traveled quite a  few places Las Vegas, New Jersey, New York, Anna Maria Island, Panama City Beach, New Orleans, The UK and Cyprus.

On our recent trip via the UK to Essentepe Northern Cyprus, we spent 6 nights in a lovely hilltop villa belonging to my husbands sister and brother-in-law.

 

The village of Essentepe was so quaint. I felt I had stepped back in time, unspoiled, original with a Greek influence and rustic charm. A mix of old and new.

Essentepe meaning Windy Hill is one of the many charming small villages nestling at the foot of the Kyrenia mountains.

The harbour  in Kyrenia was a surprise with a backdrop of ancient castle ruins. A vibrant and busy working harbour surrounded by a myriad of outdoor cafes and restaurants, Mediterranean style.

We toured the harbour area and had cocktails by the bay, after we toured the Bazaars and shops a short walk from the Harbour..

A little shopping, Maybe a souvenir or two.

I couldn’t resist a bargain. Seriously!

Michael Kors, Celine, Gucci and Chanel

They may be replicas but I was seriously shocked just how well made they were, very stylish, cute and functional.

I have had so many compliments since I have shown my booty off.

Something to remember our visit to Northern Cyprus.

The area has many quality restaurants, its an up and coming area with many new builds in progress.

You do need a car to get around though as some places are a little remote with limited amenities.

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Inexpensive or Luxury.

Who says looking good has to be expensive?

Are you a “Keep up with the Jones’s person”?, or maybe a bargain hunter? or somewhere in between?

Personally, I love a bargain but I also have some pieces in my closet that were expensive and that I am wearing season after season, it was worth paying that bit more for something special.

On our recent trip to the UK, I found a real bargain, too good to resist and easy on my pocket. I was browsing with friends of mine in Debenhams Department Store, not looking for anything in particular. However, you know what happens when you are not looking…….you find a bargain!

This lovely Navy Blue Lace Dress with bell sleeves. Reduced from £69 to £18!

It doesn’t look much on the hanger but it fits beautifully.

Very elegant and stylish. A dress for all occasions and one I will wear regularly, dress it up or keep it simple.

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You can see here, the detail on the sleeves.

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Dining out at our favourite Indian Restaurant in The Radisson Blue Hotel on Bath Rd in London.

Out trip this year included a visit to Essentepe Northern Cyprus, via John Lennon Airport in Liverpool, complete outside the airport with A Yellow Submarine

More to come from Northern Cyprus and what I found there among the harbour and bazaars in Kyrenia.

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An Outdoor Project – A Pergola or An Arbor?

After lots of planning, choosing materials, revising our plans over again, the groundwork was in place ready to build our outdoor space.

We chose materials from Home Depot, a few delays in supplying the materials. As I write this we are still waiting for 1 item.

The build took a total of just over 4 weeks, a couple of weather delays, material delays and 1 day delay for tree removal.

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We chose a composite decking boards in Amorguard Brazilian Walnut. No more painting!

The Pergola or Arbor. I am not sure what the correct terminology is, see below for more information.

The wood treated posts support cross beams and a lattice top for extra shade. The structure measures 12ft x 16ft. The overall deck measurements 20ft x 27ft.

This would then accommodate a seating area, storage for cushions, patio dining furniture and Ornamental pieces.

The Grill will have a new home in due course.

We also made a fire pit area opposite the deck in the back garden. There are some spare Pavers, that we can re-purpose elsewhere. Some plants are still waiting for a home too.morning garden

 

To make the composite deck stand out we chose a white rail kit with black metal balusters.

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Solar Powered Post Caps were added instead of basic caps.

There was just one set of steps instead of two sets.

Entrance

Outdoor space

You can see the pattern on the furniture with the sun shining directly overhead on the lattice top.

Seating furniture and tables from Wayfair

dusk on the deck

The Deck at Dusk with the umbrella lights over the original dining table (still waiting delivery of another dining set – out of stock)

According to an article by The Spruce The words pergola and arbor are often used interchangeably to describe two similar outdoor structures. Both are built with posts that support an open roof of beams or lattice. And both usually support vines or climbing plants..

In residential applications, an arbor, or arbour, is considered a freestanding structure that serves as an entrance to a part of a yard or garden. It can also act as a small shelter for a bench or seating area.

Often built over a patio or deck as a shade structure, a pergola is also based on a similar post-and-beam construction as an arbor. When attached to a house, a pergola will extend from the exterior side or roof, creating a shaded or semi-shaded space that links the interior of the house to the landscape. In other words, some sort of roof for a patio, deck, or outdoor room.

Arbors include two or four posts with a simple slatted roof (often arched, but not always). The sides of an arbor can be open over covered with lattice or trellis work for a more enclosed effect and to help vines better attach.

So call it what you will.

This is our new outdoor space. A beautiful deck for entertaining.

Our Garden Oasis.

An Outdoor Project – A Pergola or An Arbor?

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The Next Outdoor Project. Part 1.

So what are we up to now at the Looker household.
You may well ask!
This time we needed help as this project was definitely out of our capabilities.
We moved from the indoors to the outdoors.
Our deck area we thought we could renovate, however, after having 3 contractors look at it, we already knew there were some issues. We didn’t realize that we had a safety problem.
• The deck boards were pretty much beyond repair. We had painted them 3 times to try and make them look presentable, but to no avail, the paint peeled away. The house was built in the 80’s and the boards were the original boards.
• Both sets of stairs were not ‘to code,’ indeed 1 set although attached to the top of the deck, were basically floating at the bottom.
• The deck was not attached to the house properly so was unsafe! An accident waiting to happen.
• And more……
This was going to be expensive.
The whole structure had to be taken down.

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Bare boards with Gazebo and mosquito nets.

 

Our initial plan had to be revised. This gave us an opportunity to really think about what we wanted.

The back of the house gets really hot during the day. Shade comes from a huge tree that overhands the deck, but its roots are creeping under the house and possibly may cause foundation issues. Although, the tree as beautiful -a Water Oak, it, throws down acorns that contains seeds all over the old deck that creates such a mess, so down it has to come.

Our neighbor also is transforming their garden and is taking down 2 old pine trees near ours, so we need to find shade from somewhere.
What were the options?
• A covered deck – too expensive
• A Gazebo with roof? Still expensive
• A Pergola?

The more we thought about the design, the more we kept changing our minds. My husband and I had put up a gazebo on the deck a couple of years ago 12’ x 10’ with a tarpaulin top, when the furniture was put in it seemed crowded, we needed more space to accommodate outdoor furniture and dining table and chairs too, so we decided to extend the deck by 8ft.
Next, we wanted to look at easy maintenance, no more painting deck board and rails, that meant looking at a composite material for the deck base, wooden rails with protective sleeves and wrought iron spindles.
We chose Home Depot Veranda Composite colour, initially we were going for dark grey, but just having the sidings replaced and choosing a taupe paint colour – the grey didn’t work therefore, we chose Brazilian Walnut, a warm rich brown.
One set of stairs but double the width leading onto a concrete area that could provide extra seating and our grill, plus possibly a hot/cold tub.

Several designs later we came up with a template. Of course as we expected we had easily doubled the price of our deck extension with a Pergola.

And so the project began.

clearing the deck

Deck demolished, the struts holding up the deck were rotten and required completely replacing. It was more apparent that whoever built the original deck did not adhere to any regulations at all. Like I said an accident waiting to happen.

Prep work

Progress so far Frame

Project deck

No turning back now.

Cant wait to see our new deck .

Tune in again for part 2 to see how it all turned out.

The Next Outdoor Project. Part 1.

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Going Grey Gracefully?

Have you ever thought about going grey, but were overwhelmed about how to do it and look good in the process?

Many women are going grey as a statement of independence and confidence. They are telling the world, “this is who I am, and I’m not afraid.” Many women who have gone grey say that they get more compliments from men, because their grey hair shows greater confidence.
it can be quite empowering to ditch the dye and go gray naturally.

Why do so many of us keep hitting the bottle?

For years I have been colouring my hair.  I seem to remember finding a grey hair in my teens, that’s when panic set it. Was I going prematurely grey?

Both my Grandmothers were grey at an early age, in fact my mother and Grandmother were white into their early sixties. Was there no hope for me? Did I inherit the grey/silver/white gene? I did what most of us do… hid in a bottle.

An original brunette but those dark shiny locks were long gone!

I had started with blonde highlights in my thirties and that was it, bit by bit my brunette locks were eradicated. The downward spiral had begun.

After, a trip to a well know hairstylists whom I had been gong to for quite sometime, I posed the question about going all out – grey. Oh the horror on the stylist’s face!

Then after having a cut, highlights and low lights and the bill of almost $250. I decided I had to do something about this. Gone were the days of colouring my hair myself, I seemed to be going for root touch ups on a monthly basis.

And then, I started networking…….what has this to do with Going Grey you may well ask?

I met at least 3 ladies whose hair was a variety of grey/white/silver shimmering shades, all natural, they looked so confident and gorgeous. I began to wander what my natural hair would look like.

I made a decision that by the time I turned 60 – (that was looming), I would embrace who I was and bite the bullet, no more bottle blonde.

I changed hairstylists, I managed to find a local hairstylist who actually listened to me.

I told her my plan and that I wanted as smooth a transition as possible. To her credit she looked at my hair, the verdict “You have amazing colours in your hair, it will be so beautiful.” To keep the transition smooth we decided a few highlights to blend in initially.

I have to say that the hair journey was smooth, better that I thought it would be. No coloured helmet (half grey-brown-blonde), no tide marks. It was obviously the right time for me.

A few months later.

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Does this mean, new make-up and outfits (another post, another time)

I must say I was somewhat blown away by the result. A stylish cut and support from your hair dresser also helps.

My hair isn’t wiry, its soft and smooth with a colour combination of grey streaks and white/silver locks.

 

 

I have discovered myself, I am proud of who I am and I am embracing a confidence that I never had before.

Going Grey Expresses Your Individuality, so be bold, be adventurous, stand out from the crowd.

Society often attempts to dictate how we should look – but there also comes an age where you don’t give a flying toss what society thinks. Celebrities like Helen Mirren and Jamie Lee Curtis have happily embraced their lighter shade and look incredible. If its good enough for them, then what the hell!

Going Grey Gracefully?

 

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Home Improvements.

Home Improvements, Here we go again.

Before we can really get to grips with our back garden, we must sort out the outside of our home.

Having attracted an unwanted woodpecker, who obviously had eyes on drilling holes into our sidings, we thought we had better find a permanent deterrent. The sidings were the original ones from the 1980s when the house was built. We decided on Hardy Plank as a replacement. This is Fiber cement siding/cladding, it’s a building material used to cover the exterior of a building in both commercial and domestic applications. Fiber cement is a composite material made of sand, cement and cellulose fibers.

Out with the old, in with the new.

Sidings ripped

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sidings getting theresidings nearly done

You can see the difference with bare boards prior to painting.

We chose Behr paint colour Grey Seas.

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Of course one thing leads to another so the shutters around the front windows we changed from black to white to match the garage door. The front door we changed from Black to a Dark Green Sherwin Williams Resilience Country Squire.

 

 

So moving on to the next Project, which is …..replacing the deck.

We have a plan!

What projects are you undertaking right now?

Home Improvements. Here we go again!

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When Selling Your Home, What do you need to know?

When selling your home do you understand the needs of prospective buyers?

Who is likely to buy your house?

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Is it going to appeal to an empty-nester, who want to downsize? or a first time buyer, a professional couple ready to set down roots, a young family relocating.

We don’t always know for certain who will buy your property, but it is very important that you appeal to the right market. This is a conversation to have with your Real Estate agent who will do the research buyer demographics – it is a science and can be complex, but, could make all the difference.

Once you can narrow it down somewhat you can also the define what potential buyers are looking for in their search. Why? So you can appeal to the right category of buyer.

Look at the comparables that your Realtor can provide you with. Visit open houses for ideas. Ask your Realtor to refer you to a Home Stager too.

Hiring a Home Stager can help you with creating a vision in your home for potential buyers using home staging techniques.

A Home Stager will focus on the good points in your home and enhance them while playing down the negative factors.

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Statistics show that properly staged homes sell for as much as 17% above market value of a comparable unstaged property. A home valued at $250.000 would make an extra profit of around $42.000! That’s is huge.

It is a myth that Home Staging is expensive. A Home Stager can add value.

Hiring a Home Stager helps create that vision for the potential buyer.  Isn’t it worth finding out?

Home Staging

Did you know that home staging fees and associated expenses are also tax deductible?

When Selling Your Home, What do you need to know?

 

 

 

 

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