clean and airy living room nook

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This past weekend was one of those “I’m going to stay in town and recover from all of this weekend traveling I’ve been doing” types of deals… only that didn’t happen at all.

clean and airy living room nook
couch sleeve / affiliate sources: planter (similar) / black and white pillow (similar) / fur pillow

My intentions were initially for relaxing, finding some time to get caught up, clean the house, maybe take a nap (Charlie could sure use some cuddle time!), and just feel like I’m no longer being pulled left and right (to find time to write more posts was also on that list). And yet, I managed to pack it so full of things to talk about, I feel even more behind with getting you guys all caught up on Casa UDH!

Kitchen updates:


First of all, I finally got the pantry doors properly hung back up in the kitchen. Remember how I created a tutorial ages ago about not taking your doors off in order to paint them? Well, I didn’t listen to my own advice when I remodeled the kitchen.

Due to settling, the doors were no longer properly closing after I tried to hang them back up. Thus, a little bit of wrestling was necessary to get them to fit squarely enough back into the door frame to close them both. Plus, I lost the screws to the second door (d’oh!). I enjoy hitting things with a hammer as much as the next DIY enthusiast, but I’d be lying if I said this door and the lack of closure hadn’t caused me a lot of frustration. But woosah — the doors are back in place, so I can continue with the pantry area makeover without having to move them around.

With things a little tidier, I did a quick first floor house tour on Facebook Live on Friday (catch that here if you missed it). It’s been so long since I last did live video that I spaced and held the camera vertically (oops). You would think that my confidence came from the fact that my house was actually clean enough for live video (I also talk upcoming projects and rooms I’m working on!):

facebook live house tour

To be honest though? My motivation was really that I was having a good hair day. Most of the time, I look like a hot mess while I work on projects (my blog friends can look so polished in their DIY videos, but I wind up sweaty and dirty with sawdust across my forehead and bleeding from one shin). My hair’s natural style pattern is “beach” hair — that sort of naturally-wavy-but-also-straight style that looks amazing when there’s just enough salt in the air to make it cooperate. But under normal Atlanta circumstances, it tends to fall more limply while still frizzing out of control (aka, least flattering combo ever). I struggled for years to find the right thing that would make it work away from the beach, and I think I may have finally found it! I’ve been using some new products from the Kristin Ess line at Target (affiliate link) and I REALLY like how it isn’t weighing down my natural wavy hair and I can skip a few shampoos in between without it getting all gross or crunchy (the beach wave spray is something you use just a little bit of on dry hair). I have to laugh at myself for looking a little too serious in the photos below, but here’s what I mean:

Later that night, I had my sister and her boyfriend over for dinner (they were meeting a guy I’ve been dating for a while). You guys: I actually COOKED. I know – that’s rare enough to be its own April Fools’. Granted, it was mostly a slow cooker recipe (mushroom risotto! my favorite!) and really could’ve used more salt (the steak we served on top helped that), but I had actual plates with food on it that weren’t prepackaged and I adulted so hard. I even made a fancy cheese board to make all of the pre-dinner wine drinking socially acceptable. Considering that this house has spent years with half-finished walls and drywall dust everywhere, suddenly being the “wine and cheese” house is a pretty nice upgrade.

wine and cheese plate
Tip: Trader Joe’s is a pretty great place to pick up enough cheese for two sisters from a Wisconsin family.

Backyard updates:

On Saturday, I had a failed experiment with trying to repair the back fence and gate. The damage originally happened last summer during the big sinkhole-filling grading project. In case you missed that info, Dad knocked over one of the sides of the gate when he took his turn on the backhoe (so for those keeping score, it was the more experienced DIYer who wrecked something and not me!). I tried out a new epoxy foam product that was supposed to work for post holes, but it simply didn’t live up to its advertised promises, so I’ll have to go with the tried and true concrete method next weekend. I will cover this in a separate post since seeing this reminded me of other times I’ve tried out products just because they seemed like fun, and it’s always good to share real experiences to remind us that hiccups are part of the home remodeling experience.

The grass isn’t quite growing in yet the way I hoped, so I had to come up with a new plan and also planted 14 new shrubs along the back of the yard. It will take a while before it all grows in, but the hope is that I’ll have a natural hedge to hide the mismatched fencing of my neighbors. The sun was already set by the time I finished and it poured today, so I’ll have new pics of that for you soon.

Also, a HUGE tree just fell over in my neighbor’s yard, so getting things rooted into mine is really important to make sure all of that work I did last summer isn’t undone with spring rain). Even though it takes longer, a natural hedge can be a pretty good budget option, and I may have found a way to stretch the dollar a little further (hint: the idea is in the photo above); time will tell and I’ll report back if it worked!

I then started on upgrading this small corner to the left of the yard. I put this leftover fencing in a few years ago (yay free projects!), but it’s time to make a few more decorative changes. I want a cute little flowering tree here and a few hydrangeas, plus maybe a little DIY woodworking project… perhaps a bench? And the rest of that chain link fencing is going to disappear as well. I’ve only just gotten started, so you’ll have to see how it shapes up over the next few months.

Seven Years!

Finally: April 1st marked SEVEN years since I first started this blog! As you may have read in the Instagram post I wrote about it, I find that April Fools’ Day has always been the perfect holiday to celebrate the start of this site. In past years, it was because working on this house has always been so full of laughs and embarrassing moments. But after this much time and this many stories, I like that I can look back and say that it’s the fitting anniversary for celebrating the unexpected.

Crazy how time flies, right? Thank you guys SO MUCH for reading along! <3 <3 <3 This blog wouldn’t be where it is without you awesome folks, so I really hope you guys know how much I appreciate that you’ve supported my little corner of the internet. Cheers to another year!

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  1. I like how you snuck in that “guy I’ve been dating for a while”. Hope it went well!!!

    1. Ha, well, writing a post about my boyfriend as a grown woman in my 30s seems WAY too high school for my taste. Changes to that part of my personal life is always a little awkward (granted, during the life of this blog, I have had very few romantic entanglements to mention, so I don’t have a lot of practice at sharing that kind of info). He’s super handy though, so his involvement could be VERY good for progress on this house. Just wait ’til you see the shed plans!

  2. Would you have more detail other than Woosah or wrestling that got your doors back in place? I made that same mistake and now you can’t close the powder room door without taking a giant gouge out of the floor. Nothing we’ve tried has straightened that out…

    And congrats on the blog-iversary! I’ve been following along for most of those. :)

    1. Your fix probably won’t be the same as mine, because it’s not a floor vs door issue, just that the door would get hung up on the frame. But I found that the frame had kind of narrowed when I tried to close the door, so I had to whack at the frame and molding with a hammer to get it to square up again. Use a wood block/cardboard so you don’t scratch up your paint job as much. In my upstairs primary bedroom a few years ago (like WAY before, when I first bought the house), I had to plane down part of the door. Both might be options for what you’re describing.

  3. This is hopefully more of a compliment than it is creepy, but I had an epiphany today, about why you look so familiar. I usually put it down to the fact that I’ve been following (lurking) for years. But I recently watched The Girl on the Train, and holy crap, you’re Emily Blunt’s doppelganger!! I may have done a side by side comparison :P

    And a note on your entry: We still have FEET of snow in East Coast Canada, so I’m super jealous of your outdoor activities.

    1. Aw, thank you!!! Back when I had bangs, I got Alexis Bledel a lot. I wonder if Emily Blunt’s got an iconic enough look/costume that I could do for Halloween? That would be fun!

      1. If you went to a Halloween party you could play Rachel from Girl on the Train, and even if you got wasted you’d still be in character :P

  4. I haven’t read your entire blog, but when I first found UDH I did go back and read a bunch of your first posts. It is insane how much better your house looks! You’ve done such a good job! We do one (usually small) project a month on our house and I hope it’ll look as nice as yours one day. :)

    1. Thank you! What a wonderful compliment! I’d love to see your before & after photos when you finish! Also, I briefly went to your Blogger site and the line, “we’re feeding a total of 9 people in a house that owns 10 forks,” I could totally relate. Ha! <3

  5. Sarah, I’m tired just reading this blog entry. What a weekend! And I love, love the couch sleeve. It’s always such a delight to see something new and unique. Might have to get one.

    1. Haha, I have another similar weekend coming up! Living in Atlanta, there’s a narrow span of just a few weeks before the weather gets SO unbearably hot that doing outdoor projects becomes a real beast.

  6. How do your new plants go up against the dreaded dog pee? I know you have a girl dog but what plants around her favourite pee palace survive?

    1. I’m still trying to grow grass in the yard, but I do know that mondo grass is pretty well-known for being tough enough to handle dog urine on a regular basis.

  7. Oh! Your hair looks awesome! Do you recommend any Kristin Ess products in particular? I’m curios about the Beach Wave spray, but haven’t tried it yet…

    1. Yep, the beach wave spray (I linked it above, but here it is again!). It’s not like the usual salt spray, but more like an after-styling product that helps define once it’s dry. I have been using the shampoo, conditioner, and dry shampoo as well. The smell is kind of polarizing (some reviews say it smells like old lady, but I like it). I’ve been styling my boyfriend’s hair with the pomade because it kind of keeps it in check (he has wavy hair as well) but is still pretty touchable (not greasy like some). I basically plan to try out the entire line, ha!