What A Disaster

On August 29, I nearly had my entire house flooded because of a leak in my bathroom. The aftermath has been one of the most traumatic times I’ve experienced since becoming a homeowner. From juggling insurance paperwork, contractors, the adjuster, constantly changing timelines, oh and the mortgage company too- I’ve nearly lost it a few times. Somehow here I am nearly 3 months later still holding on (and finally ready to blog about it!). Here’s my account of what happened and what I’ve learned from this situation.

This can’t be real. That was my first thought and biggest wish when I walked into my bathroom and saw water shooting out from the toilet supply line like an open fire hydrant. This was not a drill. I initially tried to cover the pipe with my hands (made total sense in the moment), but quickly realized I was losing time and now soaking wet. This ain’t looking good. As I was in total panic, what stands out the most is my frantic attempt to remember where the home inspector pointed out the emergency water shut off valve nearly 6 years ago. Is it in the garage? No, what about the underground cover in front of the house? Yes, it’s in the garage. Trying to recall something that you thought you would never need in the middle of a crisis is a real eye opener.

Eventually, I was able to shut off the water, but not before serious damage had been done. My master bathroom, bedroom, closet, hallway, kitchen ceiling and the entire downstairs floor was flooded. There’s not enough towels for this job. So I called a local plumber, paid the $125 per hour after-hours fee, and waited about an hour for them to show up so they could give me a blank stare and advise me to call my insurance. Wait, that’s it? After running around and saving my house from Hurricane Katrina all I get is barely 10 minutes of work!? Note to self: If you can shut off the water by yourself, you have already completed 98% of the plumber’s job. In all seriousness, its best to call them nevertheless just to be safe, but I absolutely want my money back.

I called my insurance provider the following morning and, unbeknownst to me, boarded the proverbial crazy train. Or maybe I jumped on the night before when I tried to become a human water plug. At any rate, a company (who will remain unnamed) showed up later that day to begin removing the water and setting up an outlandish number of fans to dry out the house. It was apparent that there was an increasing bulge on my kitchen ceiling that was becoming larger by the minute. The company casually explained this was water from the upstairs leak, which was now pooling above my downstairs kitchen, which could and would fall if the water was not released. Great. The next part of this story is synonymous with the part of a prescription drug commercial where the announcer starts speaking at 235 mph. Don’t worry, I’ll slow it down for you and skip to the good part. According to the unnamed company, they don’t do any type of construction and suggested I hire another company. Apparently setting up giant fans were the extent of their services. The crazy train is leaving the station. Please stand clear of the closing doors.

So here I was back at square one, minus a few baseboards and with a whole bunch of added confusion. After conducting a thorough Google search on “my house flooded now what,” I made the decision to call water restoration services. The second company got to work immediately, cutting the hole in my kitchen ceiling to prevent it from collapsing, removing my kitchen floors, and assessing the extent of the damage. I wish I had more to say about all the fun I had renovating my house, but bear in mind that we are on a crazy train that doesn’t stop for anyone. After nearly 3 months the condition of my home is still the same (ripped up floors and a giant hole in the ceiling). I am finally nearing the finish line after much back and forth and three different inspections (the mortgage lender also needs to do their own walk through). The contractor has promised I will have a set appointment for the last phase soon (early November).

What do we want? Renovation! When do we want it? Now! In a couple of weeks I will be picking out new flooring, having the carpet replaced, walls painted and basically designing a new master bath. The contractor estimates 2-3 weeks of work and with the Thanksgiving holiday approaching I can only pray that my house will be complete in time. This ordeal has pushed me in so many ways, but ultimately I know that I am stronger bc of it. I also know that I really, really, really love my home and can’t wait to see her back and better than ever. My home is a reflection of who I am and who I want to be. I’ve worked so hard to create a warm, enjoyable, and unique space. When your house aches, you hurt too, much like a parent would when their child does. Having spent so many days living in the house and staring at the damage on a daily, I can’t wait for things to return to normal.

Here’s a video recap of the leak and aftermath.

Bwoom Masks

Knowledge is FREE!

Thrifting is more than a discount price, it’s the LEARNING and DISCOVERY for me! This mask grabbed my attention not only bc the bids were reaching $500 but just how beautifully crafted and unique it is! Did quick research and landed on the Brooklyn Museum site, among others. Bwoom Masks are royal masks from the DR of the Congo made by the Kuba people. Used in ceremonies, the masks represent different characters or masqueraders, hence its bearded human face. They are made of wood, copper alloy, skin, fur, plant fiber, textile, glass beads, cowrie shell, seedpods, pigments. I did not purchase this particular one but enjoyed researching and getting to know the rich history and beautiful artistry from Mama Africa.

(Almost) Teen Room Makeover

It’s hard to believe I will soon have a teenager. My son, however, is counting down the days with an entire list of the things he plans to do once he hits the big 1-3.

A new teen bed was at the top of his list right next to extending his bedtime nearly two hours. Yeah, that ain’t about to happen. A new bed ehh now that’s a bit more reasonable. We definitely maximized the use of his bunk bed over the years. I can vividly remember him begging me for a bunk bed in the 2nd grade. I finally broke down and got one. By 4th grade, we removed the bottom bunk and added a futon underneath. We then swapped out the futon for an IKEA desk and chair to create a loft-style. By the end of his 5th-grade year, we added risers so he could work at his desk more comfortably. As middle school approached, my son started to become desperate. It had reached ‘give me a bed or give me death’ levels. I admit all I could think about was the cost of a brand new bedroom set. I tried my best to convince him that all college students had lofts. My favorite thing to say was “This is preparing you for college!” Mom-manipulation. It almost worked.

I guess bunk beds in middle school really aren’t that cool. All of his friends had already gotten rid of theirs. Never the one to keep up with the Jones’ or jump off a bridge because everyone did, I began to create a budget to give my son the room he deserved as he transitioned into young adulthood.

I promised my son we would go shopping for his new bed before the end of his three week Spring Break. I was down to the very last weekend, a hair away from the dreadful Mom-shame of breaking a promise. While checking the mail one evening, I noticed a bed sitting out by the curb for pickup. I carefully looked to make sure everything was there and in good condition- headboard (check), footboard (check), 2 railings (check), 4 bed slats (bonus check). In the middle of my deep inspection, a neighbor started walking towards me. Two words for what happened next – I ran! I don’t know if I was too embarrassed or too prideful, either way I did not want my neighbors seeing me dragging each piece back to my house. I immediately told my son I found a bed someone got rid of, I think we can use it, but we’ve got to wait until it gets dark to go get it!

Now normally my son doesn’t want anything to do with picking up stuff from the side of the road. Trust me, I know because I do it all the time. I was shocked when he agreed to help!

Once it was in the garage, my son took full control in making it his own. I made sure he had plenty of spray paint and rags to wipe it clean. He handled the rest.

A gazillion coats of black paint later, the bed was transformed. Altogether he used Project Source Flat Black Spray Paint and Krylon Chalkboard Paint in Black for the final coat.

Here’s a look at his room before…

Teen version now loading….

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DIY Kitchen Table & Rug

A kitchen island has been at the top of my Gotta-Wanna-Needa list since hosting Thanksgiving for the first time. With three cooks in the kitchen, you can imagine the chaos and lack of counter space. My host daughter literally sat on the floor to prep her Moroccan cookies. Although it made for fun memories, more space was needed pronto. When it comes to kitchen carts/tables/islands, there are many possibilities. I felt like Goldilocks while searching for the perfect piece. This one is too bulky. This one is too short. That one is too expensive. While watching two of my favs, Chip and Joanna Gaines, I spotted the perfect kitchen island cart. This one is just right.

Finally, I knew what I wanted existed but the price tag was a big no no. Determined to save $300 and create the desired look on a budget, my son and I set off on a new DIY project. Not sure where to start, I originally attempted to find a counter top from local home improvement stores but many were way too heavy and needed to be supported by cabinets-too bulky. I then thought to use a pub table in place of the island-too short. In the meantime, I searched high and low online for kitchen carts with a wood or granite top-too expensive.

While shopping in Ikea one day, my son (yes, he gets all the credit) noticed a table top that was a perfect size for our kitchen. Turns out to be a Linnmon desk table top for only $4 on clearance. We grabbed it! The table top was originally for a desk, so the IKEA legs available in-store weren’t tall enough to match counter height. A quick trip back to our local home improvement store resulted in us combining the table top with pine table legs ($19 each). We opted not to paint the legs and show it’s natural beauty!

After a fun afternoon of trials and errors, the table leg plate didn’t work as planned and had to use gorilla wood glue, our kitchen table was done!

No need to add wheels (not sure how it would’ve worked anyway) because the table is very lightweight and so easy to move around, yet sturdy enough to stand up to daily use. After nearly a year, it has held up against spilled coffee, spaghetti sauce and everything you can think of! It wipes off clean time after time. I couldn’t be happier with this mother and son Do-It-Ourselves.

I loved the kitchen table so much I decided to do a quick and easy DIY rug to go with it! Using an old roman shade from a local thrift store, shelf liner and a hot glue gun-voila! Can’t take full credit for idea-stole it from Pinterest but it works. Certified Do Try This At Home!

Bathroom Makeover

Swipe to see the transition from blah to glam in my master bathroom. This budget friendly makeover required only a few DIY projects, which included painting the cabinets and matching window cornice turned plant shelf a vivacious Hunter Green using Krylon COLORmaxx spray paint. The kilim rug was originally for my kitchen, but noticed it would match better in this space. A gold shower curtain ($13.99 from Amazon) and colorful geometric curtains ($23.99 from Amazon) pulled everything together, giving my master bath Afro-bohemian vibes.

Nobody’s Gonna Know

For years I stared at my bland staircase and dreamed of it looking…well anyway other than the way it did. If only I could knock out the wall and expose the staircase, but that takes money and finding someone that knows what they are doing. I didn’t have the funds or patience for either. Right when I thought my options were nonexistent, hope appeared.

One quick, budget friendly way to update a staircase is to paint the handrail. I scrounged up two cans of paint from the garage and somehow a masterpiece was done. Because I literally had this paint for over 5 years, it’s safe to say this was a zero dollar project! Here’s a look at the before.

I originally wanted to paint the entire handrail (split level) black, but the can was mostly empty. I did have, however, an unopened Behr paint and primer in Rich Mahogany that was going to have to do!

Here’s what it looked like after one coat. I was starting to get nervous, but knew I had to trust the process.

After a few coats of Rich Mahogany, I then applied a thin layer of black paint. The results were a beautiful stained wood effect. Nobody’s gonna know that this was a DIY! How would they know?

One Room Challenge

One day you’re in your 20s and excited about a new outfit…the next you’re pushing 40 and excited about new appliances! Maybe it’s a crisis or just maybe my new champagne-colored Samsung washer and dryer set is just that damn delighful! I’ll go with the latter.

I wouldn’t say my old laundry room was terrible, the word “outdated” is more accurate. The set that came with the house served me well for nearly 3 years. The dryer was no longer operating after the motor went bad. Even the appliance repairman advised me to forego repairing and buy a new one. I had no idea dryers cost so much! I also learned that I had a gas line, which meant add an additional $50-$100 to the low prices advertised. Figured since I had to spend real money, I might as well get what I want and makeover the laundry room while I was at it.

I spent so many months looking for a washer and dryer set that was cute and affordable. I nearly stalked Lowe’s for a sidewalk sale that seemed to be nearly every weekend when I wasn’t looking for a set. Now that I was in desperate need, there seemed to be no slashed prices available. After over a year I finally found my dream washer and dryer set! A Samsung Front Load Washer and Dryer in Champagne (similiar to rose gold).

Now that I scored the perfect set, it was time to work on transforming the laundry room. Hiring professionals to reconstruct the laundry room was out of the budget. I had to find something quick, easy and cheap, yet chic and high-end looking. With an almost nonexistent budget, I scoured every clearance section looking for affordable, removable wall paper. I found one brand new roll of Opalhouse Eulalia White/Black wallpaper for sale on Facebook marketplace for $10. Sure one wouldn’t be enough, but it was perfect to test it out and see if it was worth buying more. I immediately fell in love with the print and ordered two more rolls at $34.99 each from Target.

This wallpaper was overall easy, but boy did it stick to my hair, face and to itself a few times while trying to put it up. I finally mastered the smooth with one hand and pull down the backing with the other technique which prevented the wallpaper from sticking to itself. Also, I quickly gave up on trying to line up the print images, it required wasting nearly half of each roll just to attempt to have it mirrored correctly.

The only other major changes were spray painting the shelf black to zhuzh it up a bit and swapping out my son’s old Mario and Luigi (hence blue and green) fabric bins for black IKEA bins. The black and white geometric bins are Dollar Tree! The smaller size is perfect for holding washcloths, laundry pins and knickknacks.

I am totally in love with my new laundry room! My son, Art Effect Kid, made his own mask and sunglasses art to give our new washer and dryer a bit more character. After a few weeks of bending over to load and unload clothes, I noticed that I didn’t get the stacker. Not only will it cover the water line/washer hookups but will the set more height. Overall, I think I came out a winner in this one room challenge!

DIY Kid Furniture Makeover

My son, Art Effect Kid, decided to take matters into his own hands and update his favorite bookcase he’s had since first grade. That typically would spell disaster… but even I was impressed with the final reveal.

Check out Art Effect Kid’s DIY LED bookcase using supplies around the house!

Furniture: Cube Storage Bookcase (found around 5 years ago at a local thrift store for $10)

Supplies: Black Spray Paint (already on hand from previous projects) and White Motion Activated LED Strip Light ($12.99) from Hobby Lobby

The original bookcase was a natural, light wood color. It took approximately 6 spray cans to cover the entire bookcase. Not sure if that sounds excessive, but some spray cans weren’t full because they were previously used in other projects. He didn’t do any sanding or other prep work other than wiping away any obvious dust.

After a few hours, the bookcase was dry and ready to move inside. I recommend leaving the furniture outdoors overnight to make sure the spray paint smell is gone. The Kid was a bit impatient and didn’t want to wait til morning!

The led strips were placed around the top edge on the back of the bookcase. This allowed the light to reflect off the back of the wall. Took 5 minutes top-the back was self adhesive so it was quick and easy to apply!

One pack of LED lights was an exact fit!

One proud tween and his dog! I give this makeover 5 stars!

Things That Make A Crazy Plant Lady Happy

Its the glow up for me! I first met this Dieffenbachia plant baby at an estate sale in 2017. It was potted in an Easter basket and just a puny lil thing. I paid no more than $5 for it. Then I created a whole fictional back story that the sweet old lady who used to live in that house chose me to raise her plant child. Totally legit and not at all weird.

I just wanna make my fairy plant mother proud! I shed real tears after a large chunk of the main stem/stalk snapped off. I placed it in some water and waited for it to either die or grow new roots. I am so glad this plant didn’t give up. Three years later and it is flourishing!! Her leaves are huge. I’m sure that sweet old lady would be happy.