One Year In The Tipsy Old House

Exactly one year ago we closed on the Tipsy Old House.


While I knew this house was going to be a project, I never realized that the house would truly feel like a needy fourth child (the irony is also not lost on me that this is also the fourth home we have owned!).

In just one year we have:

  • Had two bathrooms fully renovated
  • Replaced the siding, roof, and gutters
  • Removed the rooftop deck on top of the garage (and had a lot of rotting wood replaced)
  • Had the entire interior painted
  • Painted the kitchen cabinets
  • Replaced all of the interior light fixtures except for two fixtures and a few ceiling fans
  • Had all of the window screens replaced (there were holes in every. single. screen.)
  • Purchased a new oven and dishwasher
  • Purchased a new washer and dryer

Those are all of the big ticket projects. I’ve done so many little projects over time, including covering the main floor bathroom’s floor with vinyl tiles, installing faux built-ins, building and installing a faux fireplace, painting interior doors, caulking endless baseboards, and rearranging the living room about 7 times before (hopefully) settling on a layout.

I’m so thrilled to see what this next year brings, because this house is a never ending project with a rich history and so much untapped potential!

Happy house-a-versary, Tipsy Old House!


Easy Faux Built-Ins with IKEA BILLY Bookcases


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I am a tiny bit obsessed with built-ins. I think they add a nice combination of charm and storage, which is a win-win in my book. Unfortunately because my tipsy old house is just so old (seriously, 150+ years old), it has avoided both charm and storage, a problem I’ve been tackling with each and every project I complete.

On our main floor, there really isn’t a great place for true built ins. But I knew that I needed to do something to bring a little more visual interest to our living room, which looked like this just a few months ago. It was just…sad.


I loved the West Elm Modern Buffet that we had brought from our previous home, but it made much more sense in our former 1960s home than in our current 1840s home. And, quite honestly, we needed more storage and we needed a set up with a smaller footprint to help maximize a small room.

Here’s a view from the other angle so you can see the size of room we’re working with. This is our main living space so we have to be really careful about how we’re using the space (and please excuse the poor quality pictures – little did I know I would end up sharing these with the blogging world).


While I usually enjoy the challenges of building furniture, I decided to go the ready-made route because I was anxious to pull this room together and I did not have access to my garage to build anything for about three months this spring/summer because we were getting a new roof and new siding.

I read tutorial after tutorial on using IKEA’s BILLY bookcases for faux built-ins. One of my favorite tutorials, which I used as a bit of a guide, was from Bless’er House.

So, I mapped out a plan based on the size of my wall:

And then I went shopping!

I also picked up a couple of 16″ x 42″ Billy Bookcases and two extra Oxberg doors to use for another project. The Billy bookcases are surprisingly solid – those suckers are heavy! Once everything was loaded in, my car started screaming at me about low tire pressure as soon as I pulled out of the IKEA parking lot!


I got to work on installing the bookcases early one morning when I didn’t have to work and the kids were all at daycare. As far as IKEA furniture goes, assembly was incredibly easy once I got everything unpacked. Within a few hours I had everything assembled, but it was installation that took the majority of the time.

In case you couldn’t tell earlier, the name “tipsy old house” is not a stretch. Nothing in this house is square, walls slope in different directions, and the floors on the main floor are very warped. So not only is the corner where I was putting the built-ins incredibly off kilter, the floor was warped, which made it challenging to install anything. Especially cabinets.


To deal with the “tipsy old house” issues, I had to do a few modifications.

The bookcases are not flush with the wall along the righthand side. I had anticipated putting something into place similar to what Bless’er House did, attaching a board to the wall and then placing trim in front, giving off a built-in illusion and masking the slanted wall. Unfortunately the wall was just too challenging to work with, so I just moved the cabinets as close to the wall as I could.


To then deal with the warped floor, I attached a long board to the bottom of the cabinets to create a more even footing. Because I was working on this project solo, I cut the board into two pieces and attached one board to half of the cabinets, attached with screws,Β Β  raised the cabinets up to standing, and then repeated with the other half.

Everything still wobbled precariously, so I used shims underneath the footing to help the unit to sit evenly. Once everything was set, I used screws to secure the individual bookcases to one another (using the pre-drilled holes for the shelves), and anchored everything to the wall.

To cover up the mounted board and endless amount of shims, I attached trim to the base of the unit.


And with that, they are done! Not bad for a day’s worth of work.


And of course, I found the perfect spot for sharing my mantra-of-the-moment, which may or may not often revolve around caffeinated beverages.


These are not exactly the built-ins of my dreams, as that would require the perfect little nook in which I would nestle in some hand-crafted cabinets and shelves. But I am thrilled with the end result. These cabinets fit perfectly in our space, give us some great open and hidden storage, and really pulls the room together.

Have you found any fantastic uses for BILLY bookcases?


Budget-Friendly Farmhouse Twin Bed Inspiration…for Twins!

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Modern Farmhouse style Beds For Kids

My twins are about to turn three (I either sniffle at that thought or shout “hooray!” in my head depending on the day…no…minute), and it’s due time they get “big kid beds” of their very own. They are beyond excited.

This, of course, has resulted in weeks and endless hours of creative Google searches seeking out the bed that was just right while also budget friendly. Below are my favorites, in no particular order (ok, there is an order: leading off with my all-time favorite!).

1. Jenny Lind from Land of Nod: I have drooled over this bed for years! I love the classic, vintage look of a Jenny Lind bed. There is something so sweet about it! If budget weren’t an option (remember with twins, I have to buy double!), I would have looked no further and bought two of these immediately.

Land of Nod: Jenny Lind Bed ($499)

2. Little Seeds Monarch Hill Little Wren Bed: This bed by Little Seeds has much of the charm of the Jenny Lind bed, but at a more reasonable price tag (Target and other sites definitely have this bed on sale from time to time, which helps even more). I also love that I can buy it from Target, which means easy returns if there are issues.

Target: Little Seeds Monarch Hill Little Wren Bed ($300)

3. Bed, Bath & Beyond: Verona Home Lavera Industrial Metal Frame: This bed has a lovely, classic feel to it. I think it definitely delivers on a vintage/farmhouse vibe but doesn’t have the spindles that I, for whatever reason, simply love!

Bed, Bath & Beyond: Verona Home Lavera Industrial Metal Frame ($300)

4. Target: Inspire Q Caledonia Metal Bed Twin: Another solid choice from Target (and again, awesome option to purchase online but return in store if needed). My biggest concern with this bed is the circular features of the design and what body parts my children might get stuck in those circles! (I wish I were joking)

Target: Inspire Q Caledonia Metal Bed Twin ($349)

After triple checking that the Jenny Lind was definitely out of budget (yep, still to expensive!), I landed on the second option, the Little Seeds bed!

I love the vintage feel of the Little Seeds bed, giving the elements I love of the Jenny Lind style without the Jenny Lind price tag. The bed was actually just on sale at Target, so I was able to snag two of these at a pretty good price!

I’m anxious awaiting the arrival of these bed frames, and as soon as I pull the trigger on mattresses and box springs, we’ll be good to go. It’s going to be super adorable getting these beds set up for the twins!

And to continue pulling the room together (which had been a bit sad since we moved into our house – not a lot of decor and a random assortment of furniture!), bedding and other details will definitely pull the space together. While I love farmhouse styles, I love making our space a little more “modern farmhouse” with some bright pops of color, especially for the kids!


Pottery Barn Teen W wall decoration | Land of Nod Bar Rug | World Market Aged Zinc Ethan Wall Sconce | Land of Nod Stitched Green Blanket | Pottery Barn Teen O wall decoration | Land of Nod Stitched Pink Blanket

Pulling together all of the details is so much fun! Since we already own the Bar Rug from Land of Nod, I thought it would be fun to draw out some of those colors with the pink and green quilts. We can add in some pattern details with fun sheets that fit their different personalities!

And I love the idea of hanging their first initials above their beds. I would eventually want to swap the letters out for a light, like the World Market Ethan wall sconce (we actually have two sconces in our master bedroom and one above our 5-year-old’s bed) – I love the look and they’re super affordable – but I think the twins need to be a little bit older than three before having lights above their beds. We can’t introduce too many new things at once!

A modern farmhouse style room for my twins is going to be so much fun to design and I can’t wait to share updates as things continue to come together!

Easy Cabinet Refresh with Beadboard Wallpaper

Cabinet refresh with beadboard wallpaper

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I’ve previously shared the chalk painting refresh I did on our kitchen cabinets. It was the best option for low-quality cabinets. And while I’ve been happy with the cabinets, there has been one part I haven’t been able to get past: the ends of the cabinets.


The wood was so old and in bad shape that it didn’t take the paint as well as I would have liked. Between that and the fact that there were no baseboards, the cabinets just felt incredibly unfinished (despite being, well, really old).

Enter: Graham & Brown beadboard wallpaper!

I’ve never wallpapered a thing in my life, and because I was intimidated I thought this would be the perfect first project – there are only two cabinet ends and it’s such a small area that I figured I couldn’t do too much damage.

So, while my kiddos were hanging out in front of a movie, I decided to get to work.

I was a little perplexed when I read some tutorials on working with pre-pasted wallpaper. I wasn’t sure about how to work with it without getting everything in the house wet and covered with glue. At first I thought I would utilize a nearby bathroom to soak the sheets in the bathtub, but that seemed like it would still be messy.

So, I set up a station with a towel and a bucket. After I measured and cut a sheet of wallpaper, I rolled it up and soaked the sheet for 30 seconds, flipped it, and soaked for another 30 seconds, and then spread it out onto the towel. Using a foam roller, I added extra water to any areas that didn’t get wet in the bucket and to spread the glue around. Then I let the sheet sit for 5 minutes.


Once I had a sheet ready, I applied it to the wall and used a sponge to smooth out any air bubbles (helpful hint: I didn’t have any sponges in the house, so I used a Magic Eraser instead!).

I let the wallpaper dry for a day before trimming it at the bottom (the plan was to put a baseboard along the bottom anyway, so I didn’t have to worry how nicely I trimmed it).


Letting the paper dry for at least 1-2 days before painting it is about the right amount of time (or, you know, the 2-3 weeks I waited…). Even if leaving it white, I think a coat of paint is important to protect the wallpaper and to make it easier to clean all of the smudges my kids are inevitably going to leave behind.

I then added baseboards, which I would have waited to do after painting the wallpaper, but I was working on another baseboard project (which I can’t wait to share!), so I added the baseboard ahead of schedule.

I used a foam roller for painting and a foam brush for the edges. I found that two coats of paint plus touch ups was enough, although I definitely needed to wait a full 30-40 minutes in between coats of paint, otherwise it felt like the paint wasn’t adhering well.


Oh, and what paint did I use? Rust-Oleum Chalked of course! In Serenity Blue to match the rest of the cabinets.

I am just thrilled with the final result! This is definitely not a project that others will comment on – there will likely be no “Hey! Great beadboard on the cabinets!” comments from friends and family. Which is fine by me because now the cabinets look finished and easily blend into the background rather than feeling like an eyesore (now the counter tops are a whole other story in the eyesore department…).


It only took about an hour to get the wallpaper up on the two ends of my kitchen cabinets, and it definitely turned out to be a perfect first wallpapering project. Some things I learned in the process:

  • After hanging the wallpaper and smoothly out the air bubbles with a sponge, a lot of glue oozes out the top and bottom – be prepared to clean it up/protect your floor.
  • Make any special cuts that you can before getting the wallpaper wet. It seems like it would be easier to cut around obstacles while in the process of hanging the wallpaper, but the key word here is paper. It can – and will – rip.
  • Unlike actual beadboard, this is wallpaper and it is soft. It’s really easy to scuff and tear, which is why I think painting it is really important to help minimize these problems.
  • Because this is paintable wallpaper, seams and edges can be caulked before painting.
  • Wallpaper is addictive! I now want to wallpaper all. the. things.

60 Minute & $30 Door Makeover


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I never realized how much I cared about interior doors, until I moved into our current house and realized that we were getting just about the worst doors possible – hollow core, full of dents, gouges, and holes, and stained a terrible medium brown that just screams ’80s. Completing the look are brass level handles with “fancy” swirls at the end (a handle, I should add, that I was obsessed with as a child in the ’90s!).

Getting new doors isn’t an option for us right now because we are at some point going to need to some work leveling out the floors upstairs, which means we would need to adjust the doors. And in general nothing is square in our house (as is clearly evidenced by the picture above) so replacing doors would involve a lot of adjustments. I’d like to learn how to hang a door, but I’m not sure this house is the ideal place for learning.

So, to brighten up the space and be able to fill and patch the various holes and dents in the doors, I decided that a few coats of paint were the next best thing to actually replacing all of the interior doors (and it’s a much faster and more cost effective option).

To lead off, I grabbed my trusty Rustoleum Chalked paint in Linen White.



Because I’m using chalk paint, I didn’t need to do a lot of prep at all. I removed the hardware.


Using a foam roller, I started painting! After one coat, everything was decently covered considering it was a base coat.


After about 15 minutes, I put on another coat. You may want to give extra time in between coats depending on how thickly you put the paint on. After the second coat, things were starting to look pretty good, although there were still some spots that weren’t covering well.


After the third coat, things were looking good! I opted to stop after three coats, but you could easily go for a fourth coat, especially if you’re covering a dark door. If I was doing one more coat, I would have let the door dry for 1-2 hours before putting on a final coat, just to make sure everything was really dry.


The next day, I put on a new door handle in an oil rubbed bronze, much more in vogue than the brass.

And then, the door was done!


Would I prefer new doors? Yep! But do I love that there is a quick and economical alternative until we’re in a position to do a major door overall? Absolutely!

I currently have five interior doors done with eight to go. It’s not a project I find incredibly exciting, but it’s definitely rewarding when I see how much the white doors brighten up the rooms and hallways in our house.

Some helpful hints to get you started:

  • You may want to clean your door with a degreaser before you get started. I like Krud Kutter.
  • I find it’s helpful to do at least two doors at a time. It works out well to paint a coat on one door, go paint a coat on the other door, and just keep flip flopping between doors.
  • Keep a wet cloth or paper towel on hand for wiping drips off of the floor and wiping off the hinges.
  • If it’s a closet door, consider saving yourself the time and only paint one side.
  • Plan to use up to half a quart of paint per door.

The cost breakdown for this project is pretty simple – the new door handle cost around $18 and the paint is around $18 for a quart, and I used a half of a quart or a little less for one door, so this project came in at just under $30!

I think I’ve found about 527 uses for chalk paint in my house. What are your favorite chalk paint projects?

New Roof, New Siding, New (old) House

When we purchased our home last year, it had a rather drab brown and off-white color scheme going on. It didn’t appear that a lot of thought or love went into the external look of the home, and it all just felt a little bit…sad.


On top of everything else, the roof and the siding were not in good shape, something we knew when we purchased the home. However, we thought we’d get a few more years out of both.

And then we had a wind storm.

After losing some siding and some shingles, we had a company come out to take a look. They highly recommended a new roof as ours was far past its prime, and also suggested new gutters as it’s helpful to do the roof and the gutters at the same time. Since we also had a rotting deck on top of our garage, we opted to have the roofing company remove the deck and put a new roof on the garage in its place.

The siding we decided could certainly wait another year or two, and so the work commenced on the rest of the projects.

The only big surprises (and I use that word lightly) were with the removal of the deck. The garage was very structurally unsound with a lot of rotting wood. So much, in fact, that the garage door had to be removed in order to replace a central beam.


As the work continued we started to throw around the idea of getting a quote for siding. May as well, right?! Well, as it turned out, if we wanted to get siding it was best to make that decision before they started putting the new gutters into place, because if we replaced the siding the gutters would then have to be removed and that process could damage the new roof.

So, after having the siding project quoted, we had about 24 hours to decide! At that point, it was a “may as well” scenario and we went for it.

As this was project wasn’t exactly in our short term plans, we only had the budget to go with standard vinyl siding. The line of vinyl siding our renovation company worked with was Royal Building Products.

There were a lot of different gray options, which is usually my go-to for everything. But I’m a sucker for blue houses. They always feel more friendly and inviting. Blue houses give off that “You definitely want to live here” vibe in a confident way, just bold enough without being too bold.

So, without any hesitation I knew that it had to be Heritage Blue (and fortunately, my husband kindly agreed with my immediate decision, even though blue may not have been his first choice).


With that, it was quickly, out with the old…


…and in with the new.


As soon as the Heritage Blue started going up, I knew without a doubt that this was the color our home was meant to be! No more sad and drab off-white siding. And the blue does such a nice job complimenting the new gray roof.


And, of course, what’s a post about the exterior of the tipsy old house, without a lovely tipsy view of the house.


In addition to the aesthetic updates with a new roof and siding, the primary reason we wanted to make these updates was to ensure our home was better protected against the elements:

  • Replacing rotted areas in the roof and installing a new roof helps ensure the home is protected against future leaks.
  • Insulation placed beneath the siding helps keep the home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter.
  • Removing damaged and improperly installed siding creates another barrier against the elements.

We are so thrilled with how this project came out, and the 3-4 weeks it took to complete went by rather quickly. Heritage Blue definitely suits our home’s personality!


Beginner’s Guide to Power Tools: Start Building for Under $500

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I may have shared a really embarrassing picture of myself using a power tool for the very first time (a band saw, to be exact). I had literally never used anything, from saw to drill to everything in between.

However, I’d seen so many plans and tutorials for DIY furniture and I was bound and determined to join the ranks of all of the bad ass builders out there. Despite, you know, complete and utter lack of experience.

So I took the most logical step: I signed up for a local park district woodworking class suggested by a friend, and after two classes declared power tools were my jam and promptly set up a beginner’s woodworking shop in my garage. It may not have been the most logical move, but it’s definitely been a lot of fun, and awesome having some tools on hand to work on projects at home!

I referenced Ana White’s get started guide to begin figuring out what I might need, and then did an intense amount of online searching and comparing until I landed on the following lineup.

Hitachi C10FCH2 15-Amp 10-inch Single Bevel Compound Miter Saw with Laser: This is my hard-working, go-to saw for 99% of the projects I work on. It’s so user friendly for a beginner, and makes you feel “safe” even if you have minimal experience. This was my biggest investment and completely worth it! I love that I can do mitered corners, and the laser is an added bonus for lining up cuts.

Black & Decker BDEJS300C Jig Saw, 4.5-Amp: I opted for a very simple jigsaw; I only use it on occasion but it’s great when I need to cut a curved edge.

Kreg Jig K4 Pocket Hole System: If you’ve looked at any build plans for furniture in the past few years, you’ve probably noticed that the Kreg Jig has become indispensable for DIY builders. I had no clue what it was all about, but I bought one and can now concur: super simple and awesome tool. Great when you need a quick and easy way to join boards together.

Black & Decker BDERO100 Random Orbit Sander, 5-Inch: An orbital sander isn’t terribly exciting, but for a basic sander it’s a minimal investment and a necessity for finishing up projects.

Stanley 46-071 Premium Quick Square Layout Tool, 7″: Every builder needs a speed square to measure off cuts and check for square.

IRWIN Tools QUICK-GRIP One Hand Mini Bar Clamp, 6-inch (546ZR): Quick-Grips are pretty much magic in my book, and a must have for any project. I started with two 6″ Quick-Grips and later added in some larger Quick-Grips for bigger projects.

Gorilla Wood Glue: My woodworking teacher said at one point that while nails and screws help keep things in place, it’s the wood glue that is really doing most of the work. Moral of the story, don’t skimp on the glue!

Windsor Design Workbench with 4 Drawers: You’ll see many plans out there for simple work benches. But if you’re like me and are starting from square one (including almost zero knowledge of how to use any of tools that you’re purchasing!), buying instead of building a workbench is probably a good idea.

For around $420 I was set up with all of the basics for building some simple furniture pieces at home. I already owned a basic power drill, a hammer, and a measuring tape, so you know, two things checked off the list right from the start.

With the tools above, I was able to make my first ever solo project, a dress up center for my daughter’s dress up clothes (thanks to the plans from Ana White for Craftiness Is Not Optional’s dress up storage). A simple beginner project!

Since my initial $420 investment in tools, I’ve added the following to my line up, which encompass my favorite and most terrifying tools.

Ryobi P854 ONE Plus 18V Cordless Lithium-Ion 2 in. Brad Nailer Kit: This is hands down my favorite tool! It makes everything go so much faster, and I love that I didn’t have to buy an air compressor for it.

SKIL 5280-01 15-Amp 7-1/4-Inch Circular Saw with Single Beam Laser Guide: This saw basically terrifies me. There, I said it! I bought it to cut down some plywood, and I think I’ve decided that I’d like to leave that work for the nice people at my local hardware store to take care of! As a newer builder, I am nervous using a saw where the risk of dismemberment is so much more of a reality.

While $400-$500 is not exactly “cheap,” I was pretty happy to get my initial building set up for that amount, with a few additions along the way. But that initial investment has taken me far, from larger furniture projects to little updates around the house.

Please read all instructions that come with your power tools and use everything safely and as they are intended to be used.