Friday, 30 September 2011

Our First Furniture DIY - IKEA Entertainment Unit Hack

Hey Guys!  Forgive me for not posting yesterday, our internet was down :(  But, as promised, here are the details of our very first little DIY project on the house.  When we moved in (and actually, still today for the most part) we were fortunate enough to have just about everything we needed to furnish a home donated to us by friends and family.  After a couple of months living in our house I started to feel that nothing in it was truly ours.  I am so so greatful for all of the donations we got, and yet when I would look at the furniture I would associate it with the person who gave it to us.  It was over March Break 2010, so call it the Winter Blues or something but I just felt the itch to make something feel like mine.  Inspired by the many design shows I was often glued to I asked darryl what he would think of doing a little work on the entertainment unit that was given to us by his cousin.  He was all for the idea and after gathering our supplies we got to work! 

Here's what we started off with...

It was fully functional, no dings, absolutely nothing wrong with it.  It just wasn't so much our style sooo...

We decided on a paint colour (who knew there were so many confusing shades of white!)  They all look the same in the above picture, but some were a bit too pinky and the others were either too bluish or too yellowy.  Eventually we settled on the perfect white for us, then we got to lightly sanding the furniture so that the paint would stick to it.

We started with primer and then gave it its first coat of the white paint.  Sorry about the pictures, these were taken a year and a half ago, long before I realized they'd have an audience.  I'll have to take more care in future photo shoots!

Next Darryl went down to the dungeon basement and started making cuts for the trim we wanted to add on the doors and along the base...

Here he is adding the trim (I swear I did more than just take the pictures haha)

So we added baseboards along the bottom of each piece, to make it feel a little more custom and fancy.  I opted out of painting the inside, mainly because I thought the inside would get beat up and scratched too easily (this was before I discovered urethane to protect the paint...duh)

See there I am, hard at work lol.  There's paint on my hands as evidence! 

Hahaha, Darryl got a little too close to the paint.  We added littler trim to the doors to add some depth...

After we'd given the furniture a couple coats of paint we had to decide on a couple of knobs we had picked out, and their placement on the doors.  Here were the main contenders...


Originally I liked the glass knobs in the centre, but Darryl said it made the doors look too juvenile and symmetrical and now I totally agree, so before I give you the full "after" shot, here's a reminder of what we started with...

And after (don't pay attention to the mess around it, just the unit itself lol)...

Another before...

And how it ended up...

We're pretty happy with the transformation and love how it looks.  It all went so smoothly and easily that I found myself searching the house for other things I could get my hands on.  When Darryl's cousins who gave us this furniture came over, they asked if we got new furniture, not noticing that it was what they had given us!  It was so exciting being able to tell them what we did with it. 

Our smaller DIYs have been put on hold since we decided to DIY our main floor (I'll start sharing that with you next week!) but I am just itching to get another creative project in, I have so much inspiration flooding my mind!

How was your first furniture DIY experience?  Do you have any projects lined up that you're itching to start?

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Getting Ready to Move In!

Before we moved in, it was crucial (for reasons mentioned here and here) that we do a major clean up.  With a  generous care package from my sister and brother-in-law, and some lollipops to keep us going, we set to work.

Scrubbing every last inch of floor with a vegetable and vinegar mix (oil to restore some sheen to the dried out wood and vinegar to disinfect) that was ridden with unwanted animal smell and an impossible grime to get off (I'm guessing because the finish had worn off of the hardwood??)

We dusted every nook and cranny.  The house was so dusty it was nast. 

And then it was time to...


Alright, just a wee post for today, but come back tomorrow to see the first little DIY project we tackled.

Blogger isn't allowing me to comment on my own blog right now, but I can read yours, so please continue to comment if you like and I hope to have this fixed soon!

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lots to Love too...

I was reading over my last few posts and I thought that after fully sharing my initial impressions of the house, I didn't leave much of an impression of liking anything in my house and that is so not the case.  I love love love that our house was built in 1920.  I have always loved history and I never get sick of trying to imagine all of the lives lived in this house, what kind of family celebrations must have gone on, all the different holidays celebrated, what their jobs were, where they came from...I could spend hours daydreaming about what has gone on in this house over the last 91 years. 

I love that because of its age, our house has a lot of unique features, like an original clawfoot tub

and its nice chunky original baseboards and trim (and that every original window and the front door have that section of 3 smaller windows at the top).

I love that it has its original hardwood floors

I love that it has a nice sized backyard.  So does Darryl.

And I love that it has a 3rd story loft and a great big porch, I'll have to get a better picture of the porch because this doesn't really do it justice.  Another thing I need to get a picture of is the house's milk box.  It always makes me think of simpler, more personal days, when people knew the names of their milk and mail delivery people.  Sometimes I get caught up in the nostalgia of living in an older house.  I just love it.  

These are a few of my favourite things! ....about my house. 

What are some of the things that you love about your house?

Monday, 26 September 2011

What's In a Name?

When I decided to start recording our renovating adventures on this blog, I was stumped for a while on what name I should give it.  I thought about our house, and what it means to me.  I thought about how, once I was on board with this venture, I couldn't help but see this poor house as an unloved, mistreated, abondoned little orphan.  I truly felt that, if we were going to take this on, it was going to be my personal mission to care for, love, and repair this house back together.  I know it sounds dramatic, but this situation was dire!  And with it being the largest purchase of our lives, I think the passion we felt was necessary.

And as if that wasn't enough, we were told that before we moved in, they cleared out bags of used needles out of the loft...bags!  And after we moved in we uncovered a handmade crack pipe with a rock still in it!  I know, I know, where the heck are we living right?  Darryl assures me the neighbourhood is "up and coming".  I really hoped so at the time.  Having been here for nearly 2 years now, we've definitely met some nice neighbours and seen new investments being made in the area, so that's a good thing! 

After giving it all some thought, it was pretty easy to name this blog, especially with our street name so similar to "Annie"!  It made perfect sense.  Little Orphan Aggie it was!

Before we moved in, the owner painted the walls up for us so that by the time we moved in, we no longer had walls that looked like this:

but rather walls that looked like this:

Yay!  It's amazing what just a coat of paint can do to a place.

So now it's time to turn this crack house's frown upside down and breathe new life into it.  Stick around cause things are about to get good!

Friday, 23 September 2011

In the Beginning (continued)

Thanks for coming back!  Yesterday I showed you the majority of the pictures from the first time we toured our house.  Let's see the rest and hope that we don't have the same caption issues as yesterday. 

These are pictures of the 3rd story loft of our house as it was before we bought it:

A reminder that before us, this duplex was full of *colourful* tenants

The walls were several shades of beige and nicotine.  There was graffiti covering every wall with every imaginable curse word, some hex-like verses, and sketches of pot plants along the ceiling.  This house was begging for some TLC.

In the front bedroom of the 3rd floor loft, someone thought it would be a great idea to paint one side of the room (and every panel of the window, except one??) in bright blue, while leaving the other half a dusty rose colour.  I am determined to turn this into a wonderful crafting/painting room for myself!  Darryl wants the other room for his poker room/man cave.

Then there was sketchy wiring like this:

and this:

A look out the window to the backyard, it's a nice size with some mature trees.  That's the shared garage that straddles our backyard and our neighbours

We went out to have a look and...

That's me shaking my fist at the bird that pooped on my arm!!  Our Romanian friend assured me that this was good luck.  Maybe it was an omen??

As you can imagine we had quite a lot to talk about as we left.  I was terrified at the prospect of all the work that would be involved in a house like this.  Darryl on the other hand saw the potential in investing in a house where we wouldn’t be paying for someone else’s hard work and upgrades.  So he twisted my arm and a few very short months later we got our keys and moved in!

Are you guys more like Darryl, can you look past the atrociousness when house hunting?  Or are you more like me, terrified and overwhelmed by what you see?

In the Beginning...

I guess before delving into the projects we’ve tackled so far, I should start at the beginning and give you the low-down on how we got our house…

After months of drive-by house hunting, we (my boyfriend, Darryl, and I) drove past a house with a young guy sweeping the front porch.  Being the outgoing, personable guy that he is, Darryl asked if we could have a look inside the house they were selling.  We took a tour through the appallingly grungy house and instantly both had completely different opinions of it.  While Darryl could see past the grunge and deterioration, I had a hard time getting past the stench of cigarettes and cat pee that hit me like a brick wall.  The house had been set up for years as a duplex that was rented out to – how can I say this politely – careless tenants??  On the spot Darryl negotiated a fairly good tentative deal with the owner and we were left with lots of food for thought.  Here’s a look at some pictures of that very first day.  Brace yourselves...

The main floor wasn't as terrifying as the rest of the house, it was just the grimy feeling the floor had. And that SMELL! (this was me needing some major convincing)

The kitchen was a cute 50s throw back, but needed an overhaul with drawers with no bottoms, missing drawers, and other drawers that fell out when you opened them. The laminate flooring was poorly installed and would slide across the floor under your feet if you stepped a little too quickly on it.

This shower stall pretty much sums up the condition of the unfinished - yet lived in - basement.

Aside from the dire need of paint, I couldn't help but fall a little bit in love with the old wooden staircase, with it's original trim and lots of character.

One of the bedrooms had been turned into a kitchen (which came in quite handy for our future main floor overhaul...more on that to come soon!) the marks on the walls are from the cabinets, there's some plumbing, and the floor is in pretty rough shape, I'm assuming from water damage.

Another bedroom had some of its ceiling missing.

Another little piece that kinda made my heart beat was this tub in the teeny tiny upstairs bathroom. I love a clawfoot tub.

Main floor bathroom (with no sink, had to walk out to the kitchen to wash your hands!) You can't make it out in this pic, but the wall portion of the tub insert was taped to the wall. oy.

This is getting a little long and I don't want to lose your attention before I've even begun, so come back tomorrow for the rest of the first day house tour!

I'm experiencing a few formatting issues with the captions under the pictures, so hopefully tomorrow's post will be a little easier on the eyes!

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, 22 September 2011


Little Orphan Aggie is a blog that has been inspired by reading so many other wonderful blogs about home ownership, renovations and other things DIY.  Although we’ve been in our house for nearly two years, and we’ve been under major construction for the last year, I thought that starting this blog would serve wonderfully as motivation, inspiration and a way to document our hard work. 

I look forward to sharing with you the work that we have done so far, and the work that we will continue to do in the coming years!

New to blogging, I'm trying to work my way around designing the look of this blog, any tips on how to get a decent template other than the basic ones on blogger?