Mulberry House Exterior Reveal

The exterior of the Mulberry House had a few things that absolutely NEEDED to be done so we focused on getting those done before our tenants moved in. Curb appeal updates will have to wait until phase two of the renovation.


Today, I’d love to show you some of the fixes and little updates we made to the exterior of the Mulberry House.

Here’s what the house looked like when we first bought it:

Exterior Before Renovation

At this point, the front porch was safe, but definitely rotting pretty heavily, especially around the edges. The railing mostly needed cleaning and painting, but also a few nails here and there since some of the vertical rails were just hanging from the top rail.

Front Door Before Painting

For some reason I don’t have pictures of the front door from outside, but this is what it looks like from in the living room. Mostly just dirty with a weird lock that is not actually a deadbolt and doesn’t like to close properly.

The back door situation is a little different. The back door opened to a drop off. I’m unclear as to why there was no landing or steps or anything here, but there wasn’t. The front door had the benefit of being covered by the porch roof so it was pretty well protected from the elements but the back door not so much. It was in pretty rough shape, paint wise. The picture on the right above is from after I was procrastinating one day and just scraped off a bunch of loose paint with basically no effort.

So anyway, that was our starting point.

From the start, the exterior renovation plan was to:

As with the kitchen, I was under a bit of a time crunch to get the house habitable so not everything got done as planned. But here’s what we did get done:

Back Entry After Construction of Steps

I ended up hiring someone to build the back steps. It seemed like it should have been simple enough, but every time I sat down to try to calculate how much lumber I needed, I ended up giving myself a headache. Getting these steps built was definitely a need versus a want for this renovation.

We had also originally intended to fix the porch ourselves. But at some point, we noticed that half of the porch boards were screwed down, obviously with rusted screws. So just the demolition portion of the porch would have taken us forever with our limited tool and skill set. So I hired out the porch board replacement job. The guys removed the railing and ripped out all but the central section of porch boards within a few hours.

Porch Joists Barely Holding On

Upon removing the old porch boards, we also discovered that the joists supporting the porch were lightly rotting, but also barely being held in place with loose nails. So we had the guys replace those too.

While the guys took only a few hours to remove the old porch boards and joists, I spent the better part of three days priming all of the porch boards. There were just over a hundred of them. Painting the tops (seen here) was easy, But the tongue and groove sides required me to get into all sorts of tight corners. And unfortunately this is super essential because the primer seals the boards to prevent moisture intrusion so the boards don’t expand and cause the porch floor to buckle. As you can see, this absolutely should not be done during autumn. Honestly, only a masochist would choose to take on this particular job.

If you see the hubcap sitting on the driveway, it’s there because this is also the day I blew out one of my tires which Andrew was kind enough to get replaced for me while I primed the boards. Shout out to Andrew’s dad who also came over and helped me paint for a couple hours.

Porch During Painting

After the new porch joists and boards were installed and the railing put back into place, I put another coat of primer on top of the porch boards. Since I had a little primer left in my paint pan and bucket, I used it to start priming the right side of the railing. You can see it made quite a difference! It took me a few more days to get around to priming the rest of the railing and then actually painting the boards and railing. I have to say that this part of the process was SOOOOO much less tedious than priming the individual boards.

Exterior Door During Painting

We took the exterior doors off their hinges in order to sand, prime, and paint them on the driveway. Between coats, I was able to provide the same loving treatment to the door frames. This picture was taken after just one coat of paint which is why it looks a little streaky. When mounted back in the door frame, the colour is lot less intense. Which is actually a mistake. We accidently bought the wrong paint colour … we bought the colour that was the closest match we could find to the current colour. Since I didn’t get around to painting the shutters, the door matches them pretty well with it’s fresh coat of paint so I guess that’s good. Phase two will definitely involve a brighter shade of blue on the exterior doors and shutters.

Front Door After Painting

Just like with the “before” pictures, I don’t have a good picture of the front door from the outside, but here it is from the inside. What a difference a few coats of paint and some new hardware make! The icky looking stuff in the door frame is actually some stick-on weather stripping that I had added (after painstakingly scraping off the old stuff), only to discover that it prevented the door from fully closing. So I tried to remove it, but it wasn’t interested in being easily removed, and I wasn’t interested in putting in any more effort removing it.

I also don’t have any good “after” pictures of the back door, probably because after I fixed the screen door so that it now closes, the freshly painted back door just looks like a door hidden behind a screen door.

Exterior After Renovation

So what does that leave us with? We still have a boat taking up half of the driveway. The walkway is still a tripping hazard. The drainage is substantially better, but definitely still needs work. And I’d like to paint the doors and shutters a brighter shade of blue. So that’s all for phase two, or possibly some things will get done during weekend visits over the course of this year. Oh, and that bush needs trimming. I hadn’t trimmed as much of it as I would have liked because I was waiting for the million flower buds on it to bloom and they were just starting when this picture was taken. Oh, and Andrew really wants new house numbers.

Here are all the exterior paint details:

Porch floor: Behr Premium Porch and Patio Floor Low-Lustre Enamel in Slat Gray

Porch railing and door frames: Behr Premium Plus Exterior Flat Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Doors: Behr Premium Plus Exterior Satin Enamel in Tidal

That’s it, I’ll talk to you next week!

Mulberry House Kitchen Reveal

I hope you’ve slept well because you’re in for a long kitchen reveal post.

Hello and happy National Carrot Cake Day!

You’ve seen the main bedroom, the main bathroom, and the living room of the Mulberry House, which leaves us with just one other room. So without further ado, here’s the kitchen!

Let’s start with some before pictures to refresh your memory:

Kitchen Before Renovation

This is what you would see when you first walk into the kitchen from the living room. The floor is a beautiful vinyl sheet with a yellow tile look, and a giant seam down the middle. The laundry area to the left has a ceiling that’s a couple feet lower than the ceiling in the rest of the kitchen.

Kitchen Before Renovation

And this is what you’d see turning slightly to the right. Above the upper cabinets is the only wallpaper in the house (thankfully). The countertops and backsplash are covered in matching, sun-bleached yellow Formica.

Kitchen Before Renovation

This gives you a better view of the laundry area. In theory, the dryer should actually sit fairly flush with the cabinets, but the dryer vent pipe prevents that from happening. The falling ceiling is definitely also a problem.

Kitchen Before Renovation

This is the view standing by the sink and looking towards the laundry area (notice the lower ceiling). Yes, that is paint literally falling off the walls and onto the floor above the door to the living room.

Kitchen Before Renovation

Behind the fridge is the pantry door. It’s unclear why the fridge is in front of the pantry, but I suspect that the fridge and a stove once sat against the wall where the broom and fridge door are. The opening behind the fridge leads to the bathroom (straight ahead), and back entry (to the right).

Kitchen Before Renovation

And as you may remember, directly across from the kitchen cabinets, was the 1319 pound gun safe. This picture really gives you an idea of how badly the paint was peeling.

So anyway, that was our starting point.

After figuring out our layout, the kitchen renovation plan was to:

  • remove the safe
  • clean, sand, and patch the walls; caulk gaps in the trim
  • prime the walls with triple thick primer to prevent further peeling
  • paint walls, trim, and cabinets
  • add new electrical outlets for the fridge and stove along the wall where the safe was, replace all electrical devices and covers
  • paint the ceiling fan
  • replace the flooring
  • replace the countertops and backsplash
  • add cut off valves for the dishwasher and kitchen sink
  • replace the sink and faucet
  • get a new stove and dishwasher
  • refinish the fridge, washer, and dryer

Patching the ceiling was definitely one of the first things I needed to tackle in the kitchen because it was crumbling more and more. I ended up hiring a handyman to do it and he struggled to find anything solid enough to anchor the new drywall to. I did have to do a couple smaller and/or more hidden ceiling patches myself, but none that required new drywall.

There were a number of gaps between pieces of trim and also between the trim and wall / ceiling / floor. Not caulking these would have left the space still looking unfinished but also hopefully helped keep unwanted cold air and hot air and bugs outside.

Peeling wallpaper and paint, and then trying to make the walls look remotely even was definitely the most time consuming part of this room. After peeling off any paint that was remotely interested in being peeled off, I had to wipe down the walls with TSP to control remaining lead paint dust as well as clean, degloss, and degrease the walls thus ensuring better adhesion of the new paint. I read a lot about the best way to do this and ultimately decided to use TSP with proper protective equipment, but there are multiple sources that suggest avoiding the use of TSP for health and environmental reasons which I’m not going to get into.

Then I had to patch holes and try to smooth out edges as best I could with a combination of joint compound and spackle and light sanding. At that point, I was able to start priming the walls. I think I used three coats of triple thick primer and then at least two coats of regular white primer to try to keep the paint from further peeling and even out the walls as much as humanly possible.

And then if you guessed that I painted the ceiling, walls, and trim white, you’d be correct.

The cabinets had all sorts of latching hardware much of which didn’t work and all of which I removed. Of course once I got the cabinets all put back together, I realized that latches of some sort were quite necessary. We ended up causing a fair bit of damage to the hinges while removing them to paint the cabinets because the hinges had been painted over and the screws stripped. So I ended up buying all new hinges. We had just enough of the original cabinet pulls for the whole kitchen and they were in perfect shape so after cleaning them, we were able to reuse them.

Cabinet Painting

I just thought I should share some evidence of why the cabinets needed to be painted.

We decided to keep the perfectly good stainless steel sink but replace the leaky faucet. This picture might be the only evidence I have of how wonky the wall is behind the backsplash.

Pulling up the old sheet vinyl flooring was surprisingly easy. It probably took me 20 minutes to do while Andrew was finishing up his work day. But then scraping up all of the glue and mildew-filled underlayer took another week. Laying the underlayment and luxury vinyl tiles was also pretty quick once we got the hang of it. It took two days to get all of the tile laid, with most of the time spent making weird cuts.

Once all of the tile was down, I had to nail the quarter round back down, as well as cut a couple extra pieces where it had been missing. Then we had to find some trim to use to cover transitions between rooms where the tiles ended. And then it was just more caulk, baby!

There was a fair bit of rust on the fridge, washer, and dryer. It turns out that lightly sanding them and then painting them with appliance paint is a really quick, easy, and effective way of making them look brand new.

I was under a bit of a time crunch to get the house habitable so not everything got done as planned. But here’s what the kitchen is looking like now:

Kitchen After Renovation

Here’s what you see when you first walk into the kitchen from the living room. Everything is white and there is no more peeling paint. There is no dishwasher in the pictures because it didn’t get delivered until about a week after the tenants moved in.

I can’t say I love the pendant above the sink, but it’s certainly better than the old fluorescent tube it replaced.

Kitchen After Renovation

Here’s a slightly different angle. I had purchased everything I needed to replace the countertops way back in August, but didn’t want to do it until after painting which ultimately meant I didn’t have time to do it before the tenants moved in. I was planning to keep the vintage vibe of the Formica but with a fresh, un-faded salt and pepper design. However, I actually really like the pop of colour the the old yellow countertop brings, so I might try to replicate that when I get to updating the countertop in phase two.

Kitchen After Renovation

The dryer still sticks out way beyond the cabinets so for phase two, I could try to move the vent, but I’m leaning towards just building a small section of wall between the cabinets and the dryer, that sticks out maybe a foot beyond the dryer to partially separate the kitchen and laundry areas.

Kitchen After Renovation

This is the wall that was previously occupied by the safe. On the left is a portable dehumidifier because I was never able to fully manage the ridiculous humidity levels that this house experiences in the summer. Beside that is obviously the fridge. On either side of the range, I had intended to add additional storage and work surfaces but that will have to wait until phase two.

My sister-in-law replaced all of her kitchen appliances and offered us her old range. It turns out that it was exactly the kind of stove I wanted for this house and the price was right. Perfect. It is not hooked up in this picture because it needed a new power cord, which the electrician father of the tenant offered to hook up for me. Long story short: when they attempted to plug it in, it fried the motherboard. So I had to order a new range which was successfully delivered and installed about a week later.

Kitchen After Renovation

I obviously did not get around to updating the ceiling fan. So this is how the entire kitchen side of the kitchen turned out. The tenants ended up picking out an old wood dresser or something that they found in the shed, and they put it under the window to use as a coffee station. I wish I had a picture because it did a great job of warming up the space and making it look more like home.

Kitchen After Renovation

You might remember from the living room reveal that I painted the inside of the built-in cabinet yellow but failed to take a picture. Well here is one picture of the inside of the kitchen cabinets which I also painted bright, happy, yellow.

Although I had wanted to properly tile it, I used a peel and stick tile for the backsplash because the wall was so messed up, uneven, and unlevel. Up close, you can definitely tell that the wall is not flat, but with a little extra adhesive, the tiles stay in place and do a good job of making the space look finished.

As you can also see, some of the windows were very much in need of replacing. I ordered new windows in August, but they didn’t actually arrive and get installed until after the tenants moved in in December.

So there are definitely some projects left for phase two which will hopefully not be for a while.

Here are all the details and sources:

Walls: Behr Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Ceiling: Behr Premium Plus Ceiling Flat Paint in Ultra Pure White

Doors and trim: Behr Premium Semi Gloss Interior Cabinet and Trim Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Cabinet interior paint: Behr Ultra Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel in Unmellow Yellow

Appliance paint: Rust-Oleum Appliance Epoxy in Gloss White

Cabinet knobs: vintage, similar

Cabinet hinges: Liberty Chrome 3/8 in. Inset Cabinet Hinge Without Spring

Cabinet latches: Everbilt Double Roller Catch with Spear

Backsplash: Smart Tiles Muretto Brina Peel and Stick Decorative Mosaic Wall Tile

Faucet set: Delta Foundations 2-Handle Standard Kitchen Faucet with Side Sprayer in Chrome

Floor tile: DuraLux Performance Volakas Marble Rigid Core Luxury Vinyl Plank

That’s it, I’ll talk to you next week!

Mulberry House Living Room Reveal

The living room at the Mulberry House is just a big ol’ rectangular room with one built-in shelving unit in the corner. It pretty much just needed some drywall repair, a ton of cleaning, caulking, painting, and a few replacement fixtures. But here’s how it turned out, along with sources.

Hello and happy inauguration day!

Let’s get back to the Mulberry House room reveals, shall we?

This week I’m giving you the grand tour of the living room.

So here are some before pictures to refresh your memory:

Living Room Before

This was essentially the view from the front door.

Living Room Before

And here’s a view back toward the front door. Notice the missing light switch cover beside the door? It’s because the switches were installed in such a way that a cover wouldn’t fit. Which is unfortunate, because the wires also didn’t really fit so they were kinda just sitting beside the switches. Totally safe, I’m sure.

Also notice the sweet surround sound system on the walls. Pulling it out only caused minor damage – I guess I should have left it in – I mean how often do you find a rental house that comes with a built-in surround sound system?

Living Room Before

If you look towards the ceiling in this view, there are all sorts of dark spots. Don’t worry, they’re not mold or anything, just huge gaps between the trim and walls that needed to be caulked. There were similar ones along the baseboards.

Built-in Before

I love this cute little built-in shelving unit.

Damaged Walls

Some parts of the walls were in pretty rough condition but with a little joint compound and creativity, they were able to be adequately repaired.

Damaged Walls

Yes, there were multiple different shades of beautiful beige on the wall. And yes, the walls (and trim and ceiling) were incredibly dirty.

So anyway, that was our starting point.

The living room refresh plan was to:

  • clean
  • caulk gaps
  • paint
  • replace the thermostat, electrical devices and covers, and air intake cover
  • paint the ceiling fan
  • refinish the floors

Despite the innumerable hours I spent cleaning, caulking, and paining the entire house, I seem to have failed to take a single picture of this.

So here’s what the living room looks like now:

Living Room After

That is the view from the front door after the refresh was complete. Sorry the lighting sucks. Just imagine that the walls, trim, and ceiling are all perfectly white. Except inside the cabinet of the built in is bright yellow! Which I obviously didn’t take a picture of! And I also didn’t take a close up shot, but I put sparkly new knobs on the cabinet because I had another use for the two vintage knobs that were previously there.

Living Room After

And here’s the view back towards the front door.

Living Room After

Look at that beautiful new air intake filter, the electrical covers that basically disappear into the trim and wall, and the fancy Nest thermostat.

Living Room After

Ultimately, I didn’t have time to refinish the floors so that will have to happen with phase two. Phase two will also involve an update to the lighting – whether that’s just painting the fan, or replacing it.

You may also notice the beige mini blinds in the photos. They are not pretty but they were free so I decided to leave them up for the tenants so they would have some level of privacy. Because I’m considerate that way.

Here are all the details and sources:

Walls: Behr Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Ceiling: Behr Premium Plus Ceiling Flat Paint in Ultra Pure White

Doors and trim: Behr Premium Semi Gloss Interior Cabinet and Trim Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Cabinet interior paint: Behr Ultra Interior Semi-Gloss Enamel in Unmellow Yellow

Cabinet knobs: Chrome and Clear Faceted Glass Cabinet Knobs by Liberty

Thermostat: Nest Thermostat E (no longer available), similar

That’s it, I’ll talk to you next week!

Mulberry House Main Bathroom Reveal

The main bathroom of the Mulberry House was supposed to be a quick and easy makeover but ended up involving some plumbing and drywalling. But here’s how it turned out, along with sources.


Because you are important and I care about you, I wanted to provide you with some distraction this week so you don’t just spend all of your time eating cheese. So follow along as I tell you the story of the Mulberry House Main Bathroom.

In reality, this modest mill house only has one bathroom and one bedroom for that matter, but it sounds so much more grand referring to it as the main bathroom.

So here are some before pictures to refresh your memory:

Main Bathroom Before

This first picture is a good one to help you orient yourself. We are standing in an open doorway looking into the bathroom from the kitchen. To our immediate left, you can see there is a closed door that leads to the bedroom. These doors are both 24″ wide, which I’ve recently learned is wide enough to get a stroller into, but not out of, the bathroom. Immediately to our right is the vanity with the toilet next to it, and then straight ahead is the bathtub shower combo. All neatly organized into 45 square feet.

Main Bathroom Before

It had been somewhat recently been updated – fake tile was installed over old wallpaper on the bottom half of the room, robin’s egg blue bead board was installed over old wallpaper on the top half of the room, some fixtures were updated, tile was installed on the floor, and the trim got a fresh coat of white paint. Based on the floating bathroom sink I found in the crawlspace, I’m guessing the whole vanity was new, as was the low flow toilet. And because I’m a big fan of not fixing things that ain’t broke, I wanted to keep most of it, even if it wasn’t to my taste.

Main Bathroom Before

However, the bathtub surround was uncleanable, beige, loose, and would have had giant holes in it after I removed the sexy grab bars (scroll up to the first picture if you don’t remember them). The surround needed to come off before I could let anyone shower in there. After using many cleaning products, I was able to get the old cast iron tub clean, but the enamel had worn through in a few places, leaving exposed rust.

Main Bathtub Before

Additional attempts at “cleaning” it just made it worse.

Main Bathroom Before

I included these last two pictures just to show how incomplete the somewhat recent renovation was.

So anyway, that was our starting point.

The quick and easy bathroom refresh plan was to:

  • remove the grab bars and replace the bath surround
  • replace the tub faucet set
  • reglaze the tub
  • caulk gaps above beadboard or add a thicker crown molding
  • add trim between beadboard and tile
  • paint the beadboard
Bathtub Surround Replacement

Removing the grab bars and bath fixtures and then ripping out the old surround was reasonably quick and easy.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

But the drywall behind the tub faucet was a little funky / quite water damaged. And the supply pipe was slightly leaking.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

Andrew cut out some of the damaged drywall at the bottom so we could replace it.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

We went to Home Depot to buy some moisture resistant Purple drywall, a Charlotte, NC local product. And it turns out that full sheets of drywall exceed my Prius’ cargo limits. I never thought I’d see the day. So we had to cut the drywall in the Home Depot parking lot to fit it in the car.

So I just noticed I like to use the word “so” to start sentences.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

We got the new drywall cut to fit where the old stuff had been removed but we couldn’t actually put it in until the leaky pipe was fixed.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

So I built this paper wall to keep the raccoons from crawling into the bathtub from the crawlspace while I slept until we fixed the leak. And the flip flop cleverly carries the drippy water to the tub so it didn’t soak the wood frame.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

The drywall that we didn’t replace still needed a lot of fixing because it seems to have previously been painted a few times and then when the old tub surround was removed, some of the glue pulled off some of the drywall paper. So I had to scrape off as much of the remaining glue and loose paint, then use an oil-based primer to seal the exposed drywall, then patch all of the million holes and gouges. This would all be hidden by the new surround but I wanted a reasonably flat and solid surface to attach the new surround to so that it wouldn’t be as weird and loose as the old one.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

This is the tub access panel in the bedroom. You can see the back of my fancy paper wall. We tried our darndest to get the faucet to stop leaking but just could not figure it out. And since we had to call in help and already had the wall wide open, it seemed like a good time to get some of the plumbing updated. I’m finding it hard to believe that I don’t have a picture of the completed shiny new pipes, but I don’t. Just use your imagination.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

Oh wait, here it is from the tub side. Isn’t it pretty? This is me pulling out nails so we can put the new purple drywall in now that we have new pipes that don’t even leak.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

And if you look closely, you’ll see that there is a new tub surround in this picture. It’s just being held in place with painters tape while we check and double check the measurements before cutting holes for the faucet and valves.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

Once we had all the surround pieces trimmed and ready to go, I just had to beautifully spread an absurd amount of adhesive onto the wall and then stick the pieces into place.

Now if you’re wondering why on earth I didn’t use tile, I can tell you that I definitely considered it. Three things led me to choose a big ‘ol surround instead. First, I wanted to respect the modest roots of this simple mill house. I could have done a basic white subway tile and I think that would have been okay. But it would probably clash with the fake square tiles in the rest of the room. Second, this house was going to be a rental, I wanted cleaning and maintenance to be as foolproof as possible. Third, there is nothing remotely square, level, or plumb about these walls so I didn’t think it would be a great scenario for my very first tiling project. So we chose this 5-piece surround and I’m pretty happy with how it turned out.

Bathtub Surround Replacement

We left the tape up for a day or so while all of the adhesive dried. You can also see at the top, that this new surround is slightly shorter than the old one so I’ll have to find a way to disguise that gap, which is fine, because the pieces aren’t all level with one another because nothing was level to start with in this house.

Drain Replacement

Once the surround was all good, I removed the old drain and trip lever, which I wish I had taken a video of, but luckily this random youtube dude is better at the internet than me. But I took a really gross looking picture at least. And then seemingly failed to take a picture of the new drain but it’s definitely as lovely as you’d imagine so long as you’re imagining something with vintage chrome vibes.

Tub Reglazing

I found a local company to re-glaze the tub leaving it shiny and new within a couple of hours. They did a great job and apparently refinish all sorts of surfaces such as tile, countertops, and sinks and tubs of various materials. But I think if I have a tub that needs refinishing in the future, I’ll be brave enough to have a crack at it myself.

Reglazed tub

See! It really shines like new, and that’s pretty much where the giant rusty area was.

Main Bathroom After

After the tub was done, all that was left to do was finish up the trim, caulk, and paint. I ended up using vinyl lattice molding to cover all of the transitions. You can see it here between the fake tile and the beadboard and on the edge of the tub surround. I chose it because it would be adequately moisture resistant, is already white, and is relatively flexible and therefore easy to install on my uneven walls. Plus this bathroom clearly needed more plastic components.

Main Bathroom After

I painted the ceiling white. And painted the doors and trim white. And painted the beadboard white. But after I did the first coat on the beadboard, you could see a little bit of the old blue paint still and I decided I really liked that so I made sure that the second coat didn’t get into the grooves. It was a design choice, not laziness, really. The blueness also somehow helped make the off-white of the fake tile stand out less against the bright white everywhere else in the room.

Main Bathroom After

Whenever phase two happens, I might try painting the fake tile on the wall – I’m currently leaning towards a soft shade of yellow or blue. And I might try painting the tile floor, and I might try refinishing the vanity top. Oh, and replacing the weird vintage mirror/medicine cabinet/vanity light thing. But it all works for now. What would you change?

Here are all the details and sources:

Walls: Behr Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Ceiling: Behr Premium Plus Ceiling Flat Paint in Ultra Pure White

Doors and trim: Behr Premium Semi Gloss Interior Cabinet and Trim Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Bathtub surround: Delta Sturdifit 5-piece Easy Up Adhesive Tub Wall in White

Faucet set: Aragon 2-Handle 1-Spray Tub and Shower Faucet in Chrome

Drain stopper and overflow: SimpliQuick Push Pull Bathtub Stopper, Grid Strainer, Innovator Overlflow in Chrome

I’ll be back with more next week!

Mulberry House Main Bedroom Reveal

The Mulberry House phase one renovation is complete so here’s your opportunity to see how the main bedroom looks, along with sources.


I promised you some Mulberry House updates without realizing that it’s the end of the year and nobody actually works these last couple of weeks (even if they go to work and get paid, unless they’re service / hospitality people). So in order to keep my promise while being as lazy as possible, I’m going to share the bedroom updates even though that was the very last room I started on and finished!

So here are some before pictures to refresh your memory:

Pre-renovation bedroom

It’s quite a pretty blue color, really. But I was envisioning something a little more boring.

Pre-renovation bedroom

Getting rid of that chair and curtains made the house smell a million times better.

Pre-renovation bedroom ceiling

Don’t you just love the rolling ceiling painted in several shades of white (and yes, half of that door frame is a different colour).

And here are the after pictures. Basically all I did in the bedroom was clean, prep to paint, and paint. Which is not nothing. I’m currently being treated for trigger finger, presumably because of the amount of caulk I went through in this room alone.

Bedroom after renovation

The coloring in this first picture is actually pretty true to life. The next one not so much because I took these pictures at the worst possible time of day, so use your imagination and envision all of the walls, trim, and ceiling being covered with different sheens of Behr’s Ultra Pure White paint.

Bedroom after renovation

I had wanted to do something interesting with the ceiling to hide some of the bulges and seams, but that was something that didn’t fit into the timeline. Maybe I’ll add some planks to the ceiling whenever phase two happens.

Bedroom ceiling after renovation

I’m going to be honest, the paint made a huge difference, especially on the ceiling, which still looks a little iffy, but somehow so much better.

Oh, and I added a new light fixture. Isn’t it cute? Andrew picked it out because he thinks it looks like a donut.

So that’s it. If you feel so incredibly inspired by my brave paint choices, here are all the details and sources:

Walls: Behr Ultra Interior Eggshell Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Ceiling: Behr Premium Plus Ceiling Flat Paint in Ultra Pure White

Doors and trim: Behr Premium Semi Gloss Interior Cabinet and Trim Enamel in Ultra Pure White

Light fixture: IKEA RISBYN

If you have a few days off, enjoy them and I’ll see you soon!

Electrical Updates for the Mulberry House

Some electricians came over this week to update and prettify our electrical system, as well as wire new dedicated circuits for the range and fridge.

We’re making progress bit by bit on the Mulberry House renovations. After the safe was moved, I was able to finalize a kitchen layout, and then this week I had some electricians come to wire new dedicated range and fridge circuits as well as some other electrical work around the house.

Beige light switch and face plate
Two-pronged receptacle with brass face plate

We replaced all of the electrical devices to be white, and all of the receptacles to support three pronged electronics. This obviously makes everything prettier and more functional.

New three-pronged white receptacle

Isn’t that prettier? Even without a face plate?

We also updated our breakers to be GFCI, rather than installing individual GFCI outlets. From what the electricians told me, the parts for this are more expensive, but the savings and labor costs more than make up for it. This update was very necessary for safety purposes because most of the electrical devices in the Mulberry House were not grounded and only the ones in the bathroom were GFCI protected.

Weird receptacle

I also had them remove any random devices that would no longer be in use such as this one that we think used to power some sort of fan or window air conditioning unit.

As I mentioned, they added a dedicated circuit for the range (the middle box above). That was quite simple as they were able to just drill a hole down through the floor into the crawlspace, run the wires, and install the device. They also added a new circuit for the fridge plus an additional outlet for countertop appliances between the fridge and stove. These were both placed in the wall just above countertop level. This proved to be more of a challenge and probably took a couple hours largely because that wall is a plaster and lathe wall with a brick chimney right behind it, and seemingly no clear spaces to run wires so the electricians just kept getting stuck. But they eventually got the job done.

Now I just need to figure out what I need to do to get a plumber to come out. It seems that no one can recommend a plumber they like, and none of the plumbers I’ve randomly contacted have returned my calls.

Deciding on a Mill House Kitchen Plan

Now that the gun safe is gone, I’m finally able to play around with how to layout the kitchen. I had a plan that worked great on paper, but in the actual space, I’m not so sure.

I’ll admit that I’ve been frustrated with how little I’ve been able to accomplish in the Mulberry House kitchen, but it’s honestly come a long way.

This is what it looked like a few days after we bought the house.

The cabinets are all in decent shape and I’d like to keep a good bit of the 1940s mill house vibe so I decided to just give them a good cleaning and painting. The desk and gun safe needed to go and that door obviously didn’t need to be randomly hanging out in the kitchen.

This is how I had always envisioned laying out the rest of the kitchen. The center box represents a range, with the other two boxes being additional cabinets. The fridge somehow works perfectly so it will continue to be a fridge.

But I’m concerned that it’d be awkward to get into the old cabinet nearest the stove. The cabinet door would fully open but I think it would be hard to get things in and our of it. And the space in the corner between the fridge and stove walls would be completely useless. Also, there’s a floor register directly under the stove that I’d have to get moved.

So I considered this second option where the oven and new cabinets get moved to the fridge wall. It feels much more spacious and wouldn’t require me to move the floor register. There’s a little room to the left of the fridge so there is plenty of room to get in and out of it or the door could be switched to open the other way. And the space beside the fridge could be a good place to hide a broom or a couple folding chairs.

The biggest downside to this layout is that the window ends up looking weirdly off-center. But I’m sure it’ll survive.

So what do you think? Is there anything I’m not considering? The electrician is coming on Friday so I need to decide by then.

The Safe is Gone!

It took nearly 4 hours of work and 2 months of preparation (aka persistently pestering the previous owner/seller) but the 1319 gun safe is finally out of the Mulberry House.


We’ve made a little more progress on the Mulberry House renovation, but by far the biggest step was getting the 1319 pound safe moved.

Removing the Door

First they removed the door.

Moving the Door

Then they tried using a hand truck but then decided that wasn’t going to work.

Trying to use a hand truck

So they used the dolly along with lots of lifting to get it over the door thresholds and down steps.

Lifting the safe through the first door

They put blankets on the floors that seem to have protected them from any new damage.

Rolling the dolly through the front door

And they moved the safe out of the house.

Trying to figure out how to get the safe down the porch step
The safe moved off the property

And the house still stands.

The safe loaded onto the trailer

So I guess paint is really the only thing left holding it together.

The gun safe is gone

Slow and Steady Progress

The last couple of weeks have been filled with lots of cleaning and preparing and random small tasks that they don’t show on HGTV.


So I only managed to get one general contractor out to the Mulberry House to give me an estimate on adding an extra bedroom and bathroom, and he never actually got back to me with numbers. But we were approached by a couple who lives down the street with roommates and next door to his parents, that is hoping to rent from us and they don’t mind that the house has only one bedroom. So the plan for now is just to clean and fix everything up without making any layout changes.

And it turns out that cleaning and fixing is a big job. HGTV always makes a point of showing demo but then never show cleaning.

Crime scene

I didn’t take an after picture, but this wall looks a lot less with a murder scene now.

Wallpaper removal

And all the wallpaper has been removed from this wall above the kitchen cabinets.

Pressure washing front walk

Andrew pressure washed the front walk, which we’re still going to have to fix because it’s quite uneven in parts, but at least now it looks prettier.

Kitchen sink shut off valves

In the above picture you can see Andrew working on installing shut off valves under the kitchen sink. I mentioned a while back that after fixing the major plumbing problems, a drippy sink faucet was the only remaining plumbing problem. I managed to replace an o-ring on the cold water valve, which hugely slowed the leak but did not completely resolve it. But in order to fix even that much, I had to run back and forth the the main water shut off to turn it on and off to test my repairs. So I decided a slow drip was good enough until I decided what kind of replacement faucet I wanted, but either way, we needed to install shut off valves under the kitchen sink.

But after installing the shut off valves, Andrew thought they were leaking just a tiny bit so we shut off the main water when we left the house for a couple days.

Rusty pipes

When I turned the water back on a few days later, I could not detect any moisture at all, so my best theory is that the the leak never existed or the rust sealed the leak? Either way, no more leaking!

Chimney sweep

Meanwhile, we did decide to do the crawlspace vapor barrier ourselves so step one is the removal of debris, which included a bathroom sink, a fertilizer spreader (I think), and a shocking number of styrofoam cups but is mostly comprised of random bricks as well as debris from the old fireplace. So there’s a big pile of bricks and trim and plaster and soot that I’ve been working on cleaning out. So above is a picture of me after removing a few loads of fireplace debris, and after removing my safety glasses and face mask, which were also covered in soot.

After I get all the debris cleared, the next step is going to be scrubbing everything with bleach before laying the vapor barrier.

Old crawlspace door

There are also a bunch of little projects that needed accomplishing, such as putting a lock on the crawlspace door, and painting it in hopes that it lasts a little while longer.

Gold crawlspace door

When I was getting ready to paint it, I realized that the only outdoor paint I had was gold spray paint. Why not? The hardware and the bottom trim layer cam out looking kinda gold, but the rest of the wood just looks newer than the unpainted version.

Panel box ready for painting

Before painting the crawlspace door, I actually cleaned the rust off of and painted the electrical panel box.

Painted panel box

I love how shiny and new it came out looking!

Most of these seemingly random tasks are to correct items that were specifically called out on the home inspection report. Obviously adding some siding to where there is none to the right of black electrical panel box is another to-do item. Replacing broken crawlspace vents and possibly the dryer vent are other to-dos. Lots of little things.

In addition to cleaning, we also took some things apart, mostly to prepare for eventual painting. This was the first door knob I removed. About half of the doors in the house no longer latch, and I’m guessing the twenty million pieces that came out and the condition of the remaining wood might be an indication as to why. I’m hoping I can reuse these doors, but accepting that if I do, I’m also going to have to have a huge backplate to cover up the mess they’ve been hiding. And that’s likely going to have to be these backplates unless I can find some cheap salvage ones because new ones are a wee bit too pricey for my blood.

Chiseling paint

Also in the category of taking things apart to prepare for eventual painting, is the removal of cabinet hardware and outlet and light switch covers. Because these items and their screws had been painted over multiple times, we (mostly Andrew) spent the better part of a day chiseling paint off of them so that we could then use a screwdriver to remove the screws then pry the hardware and covers off.

We finally got rid of the giant pieces of furniture left in the house (the City of Kannapolis actually picks up large items at the curb along with the trash every second week!) The safe is obviously still very much in the way but supposedly there are finally plans to move it.

Giant dumpster

And this unreasonably large dumpster showed up to help with the removal of most of the contents of the shed, which is apparently happening this week by family hoping to find a few sentimental or otherwise valuable items.

What did you clean this week?