Our next HUGE project!

In 2015, we finished up many projects we’d started but hadn’t finished. Like painting the windows in the sunroom! And throwing together a home office for me! And painting the window and ceiling in the kitchen! And finishing the fence! And doing a mini makeover in the upstairs bathroom! And hanging up pictures! Oh, and spending about $4,500 on brickwork on our fireplace so that it would stop leaking when a big rainstorm came. And I realize I stunk at updating the blog about all of that, but it’s my blog and I won’t update unless I want to.

Telling ourselves that we couldn’t start another project until we finished everything that we had already started motivated us to get moving on the not-so-fun little projects so that we can get to planning the next big one!

So..What is the next big project, you ask?? Our garage + laundry/mud room & attached bathroom. We haven’t talked about this room much in the past because, well…it is SO awful. On Josh’s first tour of the house, he couldn’t even find the “third bathroom” because..it is in here. And it is pretty well hidden. And the shower doesn’t work. We jokingly call the bathroom in here the killer bathroom..you’ll see why.

Here..let me take you on a tour so you see what I’m saying. PARDON THE MESS, YA’LL! It’s a garage..don’t judge us!

So, it is completely non-functional. We don’t use the space to its’ fullest potential. It’s awkward. It’s blue. AND WE ARE GOING TO CHANGE ALL OF THAT!

Here are the original list of to-do’s for this space when we bought the house:


Add Peg boards/Organization

Laundry Room:

Create folding area or Island with built in storage for baskets

Paint and organize cabinets

Paint floor with a fun design or stripes

Renovate bathroom space

Aw, look how cute I was. This is what we will (likely) be doing now:


Build or Buy and Install a new garage door (since we broke the track for our current one and would like to have a different style out front): Getting quotes now!

Peg Board Organization for Tools

Add boards to beams above for extra storage

Build Shelves for tools, paint, & crap that shouldn’t be in the mudroom/laundry room space

Build a Fold up Work Bench

Perhaps some new lighting?

Move some junk out into our shed

Laundry Room/Mud Room/Bathroom:

Gut entire space down to studs (wall boards down, ceiling down, cabinets down-some have already been taken down over our washer because of a washer malfunction we had a few months back, shelving down)

New flooring (Ceramic Tile? Peel & Stick? We’re not sure yet but we know it won’t be wood)

Re-wire & Re-Plumb everything to get up to current code

Insulate everything (Getting out of the shower in the middle of winter in an uninsulated space sounds…delightful!)

Install new windows (three total)

Drywall and/or Beadboard Walls

Figure out ceiling-Drywall?

Install new functional lighting

Bathroom Specifics:

New Walk-in Shower along back wall

Add Second Shower Head for Dog Washing (prettttyyy please?! This is definitely a “wish list” item, but would be SO nice since Jimmy Dean hates water and runs away from us every time we try to bathe him.)

New Toilet

New Sink/Vanity

New Mirror

Curtain/covering for the window

Laundry & Mudroom Area Specifics: This is hopefully the area that we will use as our normal day to day entryway.

Refurbish/reglaze the vintage sink (if possible)

Build New Cabinets/Shelves: Wall o’ Cabinets to store our linens, towels, Emergency Kit, All of the stuff we buy in bulk like toilet paper and paper towels, etc!

Drying Line of some sort for Laundry

Large Countertop for folding with Laundry Basket Storage

Possible new water heater and boiler if budget allows (we would need natural gas to be run from the street to the house, plus re-running our baseboard heater piping to work with a boiler in this space. The current boiler is under our stairs which isn’t to current code and is oil-based, so we do not currently use it.)

Storage for Shoes & Bench for putting on shoes, Umbrellas, etc.

It should be an adventure!! We are looking forward to getting started once we know spring is here and our pipes won’t burst!! 🙂


Starting the Downstairs Bathroom

I must be honest with you all. My sweet husband has turned me into a crazy person. Sometimes we hit points in our renovations where I feel like I can’t help. Whether it is a project I don’t feel comfortable doing or one that Josh has a specific vision/plan for, sometimes I find myself doing the other things that need to be done around the house like laundry, dishes, etc. This is all fine and dandy except when I get bored doing those things. That is when I start to get boo-hooey/lazy/bratty and make Josh take a brainstorming trip to Lowe’s/Home Depot with me.

When we take a brainstorming trip, I create new projects for myself to do while Josh works on “his” projects. This is how our bathroom renovation started. I mentioned wanting to look at paint colors for the bathroom cabinets and walls. It then turned in to us looking at light fixtures, countertops, and sinks. We got paint swatches and left, but after brainstorming store trips, I always come back in to the house renewed and ready to work. Measurements were taken, colors were decided, and we got to work.

Here are some before pictures for you to feast your eyes on!

Downstairs BA Before 1  Downstairs BA Before 3 Downstairs BA Before 4

For the walls, we chose Behr Ultra Premium Plus in Snowy Pine:

Behr Premium Plus Ultra Snowy Pine
Photo from www.HomeDepot.com

and for the cabinets, we chose Behr Marquee Silent Film:

Behr Marquee Silent Film
Photo from www.HomeDepot.com

All of the trim is painted with the same Behr Premium Plus Ultra in Ultra Pure White that we’ve been using through the rest of the house.

First, we took down the upper cabinets and lights to open up the space a bit. Doing this also removed the two outlets that were housed on the bottom of the cabinets. The power was run from the light box down the inside of the cabinets. They were a bit awkward from the beginning, but we didn’t want to completely lose outlets in the room. After a bit of research, we installed a new fan switch that also had an outlet below, so that I am still able to use a blow dryer/straightener in the bathroom. This made it so that we wouldn’t have to completely run new power. Shortcuts that work for the win!

Downstairs BR Mid-Way 3

We’ll be painting the mirror the same color as the cabinets!

Downstairs BA Hardware

We ordered a gorgeous sink from Wayfair

and bought a countertop from Lowe’s that we will be cutting down to size (cross your fingers we don’t mess it up! We definitely have a chance of messing up the backsplash since all of the modern countertops are too deep for our bathroom. We will be cutting the back end off and trying to reuse the backsplash. If we mess it up, we will likely do a tile backsplash, but..just cross your fingers we don’t mess up the countertop. 🙂

Photo from www.Lowes.com
Photo from http://www.Lowes.com

who I am; and why I am here

Photo by Chelsea Diane Photography
Photo by Chelsea Diane Photography

As a wedding professional, I’ve heard a lot of best man/ maid of honor speeches start out with, “For those of you who don’t know me…” It is almost a joke among wedding vendors because approximately 98.74% of the speeches begin with that statement. I’m pretty sure I started my speech at my best friend’s wedding with it (photo above)..and I almost started this blog post with it.

It is because introductions are awkward. When you are standing in the middle of a dance floor in front of 150 of your BFF’s favorite people staring back at you it is almost as awkward as writing something on a blog that hypothetically 3 billion people in the world could read. You put yourself out there in both situations. And in both situations people could think what you are saying is stupid. So you start it off with, “For those of you who don’t know me…”

Well, I’m not starting this blog post with it because I figure if someone thinks what I am saying is stupid, you can click the X up at the top of your internet-browser-of-choice window. HA. This is our corner of the internet, suckers. And mostly, this blog is for us (me).

The Whole Damn House is a home blog that is here to document our journey improving our first home. Mostly, it is so that we can see our progress and remind ourselves that living through a construction zone is worth it. Seeing before photos after progress is made is a seriously powerful motivator. This blog also gives us the opportunity to keep our families and friends updated without having to monopolize phone conversations, connect with other fixer upper or non-fixer upper homeowners, and hopefully make a few folks laugh at our expense. 🙂 We like having people laugh with us. Maybe one day we will get to the point where you might learn something about home improvement, but..we’ll see. I’d need to convince Josh to write things here if you want to learn anything. 🙂

So. Hey! I’m Alison and I am the one who writes things here. Josh is my husband and he is the bossy one (haha, just kidding! That’s me, too!). He’s the one that has actual home improvement talent and is teaching me things everyday. In 2014, I used a nail gun for the first time and it was FUN. Our dog Tucker is along for the ride whether he likes it or not because we continue to feed him.

This is us when we were young(er) and in love. (Yes, this is from High School)


Why did we name it The Whole Damn House? Two reasons.

1. We have to re-do the whole damn house, and

2. Josh graduated from Virginia Military Institute. At VMI, one of the cheers they do during sporting events ends in “Whole Damn Team.” When discussing buying this house, Josh was wearing one of his VMI shirts that had the phrase on it, and I giggled about how we were about to buy a house where we needed to renovate the whole damn thing. So…I started the blog. I hope VMI doesn’t come after me with a cease and desist letter because then..See #1. (We’ve donated!! Love ya!)


One of my goals for 2015 is to blog more often. I signed up for Blogging101 through WordPress to learn more about this fabulous platform, get on a more frequent posting schedule and explore blogging in a new and different way. You’ll be seeing you’ll more posts coming through over here in our little weird corner of the internet. 🙂 Some may be random, some may be funny..I have no idea since WP is taking me (and a few thousand other bloggers) on the journey and assigning things day by day. 

New Year, New Couches

On the Wednesday before Christmas, I went to Target to go shopping on my lunch break. My phone rang and it was a number I did not recognize, but I remembered the folks over at North Carolina Furniture and Mattress were going to call mid-way through our couch wait to give us a status update. I answered and they let me know the couches were in early! And they could deliver tonight, if we were available! Uh, twist my arm, whydontyou. When they arrived, we hovered over the delivery guys like nobody’s business. We were SO excited and a little bit nervous to see everything since the sample couch we sat on was a turquoise patterned couch and we almost had forgotten what we ordered. Wee! New Couches New Couch

There are still some more changes to come in this room including reupholstering the red chair in the corner and getting a new chair where the rocking chair is. We’d also like to get a new rug and some curtains. 🙂 No matter what, I am so happy it no longer looks like this: livingroom

Or this:


It feels great to have “almost finished” a room just prior to the New Year-at least to the point where we are comfortable snuggling up to watch a movie! Happy 2015, ya’ll! Thanks for following along in 2014 ❤


This post has been a LONG.TIME.COMING. but I think it is a better post because of it, so there’s that. This is a story about our first really big fail on this house. We were failures with a capital F.

Early this spring, we decided it was time to try to grow grass in our front yard. There is something to be said about a lush, thick, beautiful yard of grass. It is fun to walk barefoot in. Tucker likes eating it. It gives Josh a chance to use our lawn mower since he is usually sooooooooo so sooo bored on weekends (haha!). And…it looks better than this:











Needless to say, we wanted to give growing grass a shot, even though our lot is heavily wooded and there is a short period of real sunlight throughout the day. After testing our soil to test it’s PH levels and that sort of thing, we determined our game plan. We started out with a truckload of compost from our city dump mixed with Vigoro Super Green Lawn Fertilizer and pelletized Limestone. By the way, Josh and I also know the best time to plant grass is in the fall, not the spring. We knew this when we planted grass in the spring, but we were feeling invincible after finishing our kitchen. Shut up and stop rolling your eyes.











We then spread the seed over that mixture and waited.


A few days later, we got hit with a huge thunderstorm where the rain created a stream through the middle of the yard. A few weeks later, we started seeing a bit of growth in some areas and a LOT of growth in the lower parts of the yard where the seeds all ended up at the bottom of the stream. It was a bit patchy.




So, we went and got some more seed and spread it again. This time, we covered the seeds (and the new grass) with another layer of compost to help it stay in the same place in case we got hit with another storm. We were worried it would kill the new grass, but a few days later it started popping up through the compost, so YAY! Soon, the second layer of seed started growing and it looked like this:




We put up this temporary fence so that Tucker wouldn’t get in to the new grass or dig holes. And our azaleas! They are so pretty when they bloom!

With even more waiting, the grass kept growing and it was very exciting!








Then, the summer came and it turns out… our front lawn gets more sun than we thought. And we got busy and forgot to water it. The grass totally withered away and was fried. It was really brown and sad. I didn’t take a picture because I was crying about it and couldn’t see through the view finder.

So…we started over. This time in the fall, with a better mix of seeds that aren’t Shade Blend, and making sure that we water it every single day it isn’t raining.

Grass x 2

Grass Re-do 3


Here’s to hoping the second time is the charm! We’ll keep you updated.


Ready, faucet, go!

Faucet Before

File this under the “Projects we should have done a million years ago because it makes us love our house WAY more” archives. The above faucet is probably the original faucet from when the house was built. As some of you may know, we do not have a dishwasher in our kitchen. We handwash everything and..we are tall. That faucet is low. Washing dishes for over a year with this faucet probably caused our spines to have all sorts of damage. As we age, we will probably become hunchbacks.

My mom gave us money at our housewarming party for a new faucet since we complained about ours so much. Our housewarming party was on October 1, 2013 just to refresh your memory. 🙂

Installing a Faucet

Tucker and Josh got to work under the sink while I unwrapped the new faucet and read the instructions. It was super simple to install and now our kitchen faucet looks like this.

New Faucet

!!!!!!! Our backs are thanking us already and that window is still nagging us for some trim to be installed. Baby steps, baby steps…We’ll get to it next year, I’m sure of it. 🙂

I’m Board

We have made quite a bit of progress on our quest for a white washed wood plank ceiling in our living room. Holy moly, it has been a lot of work. The prep work these recycled boards needed was UNREAL and very time consuming. We did all of the prep work over a month and..we kinda still aren’t done. We have bills to pay, ya’ll.

Here is a brief rundown on what we’ve been up to:

1. Rip cut the boards using a table saw to remove any damage that was done to the tongues and grooves while removing them from the room.

Rip Cut Boards

2. Wash the boards down with TSP and water mixture then let dry.


3. Sand. Sand. Sand.

4. Wipe down boards with clean water and let dry.


5. Whitewash the boards using Minwax Whitewash Pickling Stain. Let sit for 1-2 minutes, then wipe with a clean lint-free cloth. Let dry for three hours or more.

White Washing Wood

  • Side note: Many people (including the instructions on the stain) suggest using a wood conditioner in order to allow the stain to soak in more evenly, prevent blotchiness, etc. We tried using it on these boards and we did not see a difference with this type of stain on this wood, other than it added more drying/sanding/wiping time. I think on newer wood that hasn’t been hanging in a house for over 50 years it DOES make a difference, but in this case, we skipped that step.


6. Finish boards with Paste Finishing Wax. Wax on, wax off. Literally.

  • We debated about using a Polycrylic, but decided against it since we wanted a matte finish. (And again, it added more drying/sanding/wiping time since the instructions suggest putting three coats on. Plus, it is on a ceiling so it doesn’t need as much protection as a piece of furniture or a floor..)

Minwax Finishing Paste Wax

7. Place boards in designated staging position based on width. We have 4″, 6″, 8″, and 10″ boards that we will mix in throughout the ceiling.


8. Measure the center of the room and start hanging boards! (YA’LL-I MADE A GIF! Next time I’ll try to take them all at the same angle and in more similar lighting so you don’t get motion sickness…sorry ’bout that.)

Ceiling Installation GIF


YAY for progress! We are still working on this and hope to finish eventually. We’ve found that our house is built unevenly (surprise, surprise!) so that has thrown us a little curveball in the planning/installation process..I’ll check back in soon!

Oh, and just for reassurance that all of this work was worth it…The first photo is the board that was visible previously and the second is the whitewashed version..



Not for the FAN-t of Heart

The previous fan in our guest bedroom failed in any of the three tasks one would expect from a ceiling fan with a light.

1. That it provides enough light for the space.

2. That it moves air.

3. That it not be hideous.


Last Sunday, Josh and I took a delightful trip to Lowe’s to get a few things for finishing up the back bedroom (trim, ceiling fan or light, etc). We’ve painted the room, but I’ll post pictures of that later, I promise. While we were looking at fans, we decided on a 44″ Hunter fan called the “Ridgefield,” which was priced at $84.96.  This fan markets itself as a “5-Minute Install,” meaning it is about 85% assembled when you take it out of the box. AKA, your only job is to wire it, attach it to the electrical box in the ceiling, and add the blades. I wasn’t totally sold on it because of the rounded blade attachment things, but it was for a room we don’t really frequent, so I was good with it!


Then, we turned the corner and found a 42″ Harbor Breeze fan called the Lansing, which was on sale for $69.94. The picture shows the lighter of the two finish choices, the other is a darker finish like the one above). Since it was cheaper, we didn’t really think much about the added value of the “5-minute Install.” We should have. This fan made us hate each other for a good hour or so.


Don’t get me wrong. I love the fan. The installation was torture.

Josh, of course, started by turning off the breaker for that room (this was around the time the sun was setting so we were on a bit of a time crunch to finish it while there was still daylight), while I took inventory of all of the pieces from the box and read the instructions. THE INSTRUCTIONS. UGH. The MOST FRUSTRATING thing in the world was that they started out with “Remove the screws on the underside of the motor.” Ohhh, so we are disassembling then re-assembling. That’s efficient with a freaking capital E.

Later on in the installation process, you had to remove screws AGAIN after the fan was wired and then push the motor assembly back up toward the ceiling and then re-screw the screw back in to its’ place. At this point, Josh dropped the screw into the bowl of the fan and had to undo a lot of the work that had already been done. When he finally got the screw out of the fan, it fell onto the floor. Meanwhile, Tucker was OBSESSED with me and kept trying to sit on my lap and it was hot and I was sweaty and I was yelling at him to get out of the room and he wasn’t listening so I didn’t see where the screw fell. Reminder, the sun is setting and there are no lights in this room.

We couldn’t find the screw. I went to go find a flashlight and found three, all of which needed new batteries. I huffed and puffed and said something snarky like, “Good thing I found this out prior to hurricane season, geez.” Josh huffed and puffed and stomped off to find his phone to use the flash light. I kept suggesting for him to look under the baseboard heaters. Josh said he knew it fell on the other side of the room. I said okay. (Imagine this with each of us being snippy and not very nice..it wasn’t a good look, ya’ll.)

We looked for another 10 minutes through the rest of the screws provided for the fan installation and they all look the same in the dim light. Josh finally agreed to look under the baseboard heaters and looky there, sparky! WE FOUND IT. Under the heater.

At this point, we are both sweating our butts off (because we are cheap and refuse to turn on the A/C) and just ready for it to be over. Josh got the screw where it needed to be and then we started the blade installation. That went super smoothly and then all was well in the world.

Bottom line is..Buy the mostly pre-assembled fans, don’t install a fan when the sun is setting, and don’t install a fan with your spouse.

Ya’ll didn’t know you’d be tuning in to the blog for marriage advice, now didya? You’re welcome.

But look, we have a fan! How fancy!