Preserving baseboards at saving etta house

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It’s becoming almost a tradition now… whenever I visit a DIY pal at their home, I seem to want to get my hands dirty by helping them with a project. In this case… very dirty with Saving Etta!

Brittany and Sarah working on Etta

If you haven’t been following along with Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl and her Saving Etta project, you’ll see lots more info on that below. But first, I’m going to start from the beginning on what prompted my trip to visit her and the other (non-old-house-filth-covered) fun we had with Sandra from Sawdust Girl too! Consider this post a play-by-play on what it would be like to tag along with the three of us for the weekend. ?

Sandra Sarah and Brittany in Raleigh

Being a DIY or remodeling blogger is… a weird job, to say the least. Between photography (which takes a little getting used to — trying to remember to stop, take off your safety gloves for a photo while there’s enough light, get back to work — it really takes time to “train” yourself to do it!), planning your schedules, getting things just right on social media so it reaches people, the actual writing, time for labor/the work itself, maintaining a website, finding appropriate sponsors (and saying no to all of the bad ones), negotiating contracts and conference calls with brands, editing photos, improving your skills on all of the above through training classes, styling interiors, making sure you aren’t a total moron with building codes and remodeling skills, etc….

…basically, it’s a lot to get. If you’re lucky, you can hire out some of these things, but many of us (like me) do a little bit of everything by ourselves. And no one really gets that quite like another remodeling blogger, especially the mentorship aspect of it. That catching up and camaraderie and sense that they go through similar obstacles is very comforting. But we also don’t live near each other and we stay immersed in our own to-do lists 24/7, which is why Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl and Sandra from Sawdust Girl and I (and others) have begun to make more effort to see each other in person at least once a year. Unlike the go-go-go agenda of attending a conference (like Haven and early next year I’ll be going to a woodworking one), this kind of get-together is more relaxed. We still work (I even brought a project of mine so I could use one of Brittany’s tools to meet a deadline this past week), but it’s also full of great memories with some close friends.These two ladies not only do the blogging juggling act like I do, they also raise families and are beginning their own restoration/flip houses, and I’m soooo excited to see them advancing to bigger and more amazing things. Being friends with people you consider your mentors is a really incredible thing, and I feel very blessed I get to call these ladies my friends.

sandra myself brittany raleigh visit

As I said, I was in the middle of a project (or eight) but we’d been planning this trip for a few months, so I simply packed up the most urgent project with my luggage on Friday afternoon and hit the 5 1/2 hour road trip to visit Brittany at her home. I’d never actually been to her house before (our group trip last year was actually to a beach with Leen from Sand Dollar Lane and Karah from The Space Between who couldn’t make it this time, unfortunately). So, it was quite a treat when you feel like you’ve visited someone else’s home many times via the web and then actually step foot inside. Her house is much bigger than I thought, and her craft space is no joke one of the most organized places I’ve ever seen that also happens to have glitter inside of it (trust me, that’s no easy feat). Still, despite her fantastic hospitality, the real star for me was her pup, Bandit. Just… he’s so damn sweet and I adored him from the moment we met.

All of the hearts for this sweet pup. <3 <3 <3 (photo: Brittany)

Sandra arrived first, so once I got to Brittany’s, we immediately sat down on Friday night to just talk blog, life, projects, etc. before hitting the hay.

Saturday: Just for Fun

The next morning, I got up uncharacteristically early to knock out a few emails and photo edits until the house started stirring. We then tuned in to another online pal of ours (Youtuber and seasoned DIY pro, April Wilkerson) to see her pilot (House Hacks) on HGTV. After sending her some quick goofy videos letting her know we were watching, we then made a late breakfast, talked projects, and came up with our game plan for the day.

The first place we stopped was Brittany’s house project, which she has nicknamed “Saving Etta” — an old home that is in such disrepair, you really should go watch her Facebook live video of mine and Sandra’s reactions as we walked around for the first time! She also shared with us the future plans, the layout, and what the upper floor will look like once added (so cool!). If anyone can bring back this home’s former glory, it’s definitely Brittany. It looks incredibly scary at this stage, but I was incredibly excited at the entire idea of eventually taking on an old home myself. I’d need to get a contractor’s license (probably) for such a thing, but for now I’ll live vicariously through her updates (btw, Sandra also has her own project house she’s working on, which you can see right here).

front left room of saving etta

kitchen of saving etta

Saving Etta gut job

Saving Etta other bedroom

Next, we were all in need of a caffeine boost and stopped by Sola Coffee… a local place that also gave me a lot of DIY ideas to ponder over (I’ve been brainstorming a way to make my own curtain rods throughout the house but wanted a unique twist, and I think I’ve found it!).

Sola Coffee Raleigh

Sandra at Sola Coffee in Raleigh

DIY inspiration in raleigh

After visiting a small pop-up market (where we ran into Liz from My Grandmother’s Old Singer — hi!!) and lunch at Relish, we then spent the late afternoon shopping around for holiday decorations and hugging giant apes at Homegoods.

Hugging giant stuffed ape at Homegoods

Back at Brittany’s for the rest of the evening, we chose to take it easy with some pizza and painting, but we needed to do a little DIY first. Brittany found a gift at Homegoods she wanted to hack (it came on really cheap wood and she wanted to beef it up with some of her own scrap), while I took the opportunity to work on the woodworking project I’d brought with me. Thank goodness for friends with band saws!

Working with a band saw - ugly duckling house - diy
If you think I’m shallow enough to quick-edit my double chin from this photo, you’re absolutely right. ;)

Sunday: Getting to Work

It’s no surprise that a weekend like this one was going to go by quick, so I finished up a few more steps on my project after breakfast while Sandra got packed up to head back home. Originally I’d planned to stay an entire extra day, but I’d gotten some news about a delivery I would need to be back at home for, so Brittany and I tried to make the most out of the rest of the afternoon by working on Etta:

Working on Saving Etta with Brittany from Pretty Handy Girl

I’ve never worked on a house with this much demo, and despite my experience in repairing drywall, the whole lath-and-plaster thing was a big change, too. And HEAVY!

Preserving baseboards at saving etta house

But we managed to knock out the rest of the job in one of the first rooms to take out the lath and plaster, preserve as many of the original baseboards as possible, and clean up the debris — giving me a deeper appreciation for what Brittany has in store with the rest of the house. Phew!

after gutting the first front room

As soon as I got back to Brittany’s, my project had finished drying and it was time to head home. I did a quick change and hopped in the car, spending the next 5 1/2 hours singing to a road trip playlist and being grateful I actually remembered to take a few photos of the trip.

I needed the whole next day to recover, and I doubt that was just because of the time change! Maybe next year, we’ll actually sit down a little more (but then again, that wouldn’t really be what we enjoy). ?

DIY remodeling is hardly glamorous
DIY remodeling is hardly glamorous.

How was your weekend? Work on anything special? P.S., I’ve got a NEW ROOM I’m getting started on that I need to show you a “before” tour of soon and the reveal of that project I mentioned is going live on the 11th, so check back in soon!

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  1. Great recap! Glad someone took notes ;-D. It was such a whirlwind weekend, but I’m so glad I got to see you. Thanks for helping me on Etta. It’s definitely not glamorous!

    1. It was so much fun though! My offer still stands to come out when you’re ready to tackle the bathrooms or kitchen. You know a good painter available when you need it. ;)

  2. You guys are too cute! So thankful for all the stopping, photo taking, editing, writing, etc you do! ? Can’t wait to see what’s next!

    1. Haha there is SO MUCH more next! I have actually been stunted at figuring out what’s going up when because I have a huge pile of photos to edit and update you guys about! I’ll have a new post up tonight and tomorrow as well! Busy busy!

  3. Travel, shopping – and DEMO! You girls rock! You are an inspiration (and an excuse to knock down walls!) Thank you for sharing your travel adventures with us. Now I have more reading on my todo list ;)

  4. So glad you were able to visit “The Old North State”…I’m about an hour from Raleigh. Looks like you girls had a great time! Enjoying your blog, and all of your DIY adventures. And yes, I know from experience, when one is into DIY, each one seems to be an adventure!!