A lot to be Thankful for: Vlog Episode 28

It feels like ages since my last vlog back in September! They’ve been replaced with DIY’s and video tutorials, but capturing and preserving the memory of life’s little moments and special occasions with family is something I’ll always make time for.

This Thanksgiving was a special one, with Lucas’ parents in town along with Aunts and Uncles I don’t see nearly enough. It was a reunion filled with music, stories, too much food, rainstorms and snowstorms, and of course, a healthy dose of DIY.

One of the best Thanksgivings on record… looking forward to many more to come with these people I love so much:

Happy December and happy holidays my friends! One month left of this monumental year, with big things to look forward to in 2017 😉



Custom Bathroom Vanity + Cottage House Flip Episode 6

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving weekend and are feeling refreshed and ready for the holiday season! Mine was spent with some of my favorite people—Lucas and both of our families—and we enjoyed every minute of this rare and precious time that we can all be together.

I also took advantage of the extra set of hands and came up with a group project for my dad, Lucas and I—a custom bathroom vanity:


And put together a video documenting the experience:

Just so we’re all on the same page, this is the vanity for the upstairs bathroom, which I revealed plans for last week:


The last brick tile was set as we first arrived to the house on Friday—can we just take a moment to stare at these beauties?


As of Monday the tile was supposed to have been grouted—I haven’t seen a photo but it will be something to look forward to when I come back on Friday!

We’re still waiting on the wall mounted faucet before the wall planks can be reinstalled and painted, but that should all be taken care of over the next few days.

Back to the vanity. Here was the original:


A bit cramped, so I decided to forgo the L shape to open the space up a little. I didn’t want anything too small though, so I thought it would be best to keep the same length. After no luck in my search for anything that would fit the bill, I knew that something custom built would be my best option.

My light bulb moment was this old desk that came with the house, had been disassembled and just sitting around in the kitchen…


It was too deep, but nothing a little saw blade couldn’t fix. The chest of drawers would sit in the corner, then I’d place two table legs on the other end and use some reclaimed wood for the top. Inexpensive and efficient!

With a plan in place, we headed to Lowe’s to grab our supplies (and shared it on instagram, of course)


I ended up with these two table legs, top plates and hanger bolts:


I also grabbed a 1×4″, a handful of lattice trim and small decorative molding to finish it off.

Then we were on our way to the lumber mill to pick out the perfect reclaimed wood top… until finding out they had closed early and wouldn’t open until after Thanksgiving. So much for that plan!

Without any other source for that type of wood, I decided to stop by the Restore as a last resort on our way to the house, knowing I had to find something and make it work. The DIY Gods were watching over me that day when I spotted this coffee table—and it was half off for Black Friday, making my total just $18:


My dad recognized this table as one he had in his home growing up, so clearly it was fate 🙂 The carved top is a different style than rustic reclaimed wood boards, but I actually came to prefer this look instead. I love these happy DIY accidents.

Now that we had all our supplies, it was time to get started!

After measuring the space, I decided the vanity should be 52″w x 20″d, so we removed the top piece from the coffee table, measured and cut it with a skil saw:




Next it was time to chop down the dresser. After removing the drawers, we had to add a brace to the top and bottom for stability:


Around 13″ needed to be cut off the back, another job for the skil saw:



Same process for the drawers:

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The back piece of each drawer was then nailed into place:


Now for the legs. The smaller ones had hanger bolts already preinstalled, but these didn’t (not exactly sure why) so my dad drilled a hole in the center of each, then threaded the bolt in with a wrench.


The legs were 29″ but the dresser is 30″, so we had to fill the gap. The top plates are 1/4″ tall, so a couple of 3/4″ scrap wood pieces below it would do the trick:


After marking our leg locations on the underside of the table, the scrap pieces of wood were screwed into place, followed by the top plates which the legs would then be threaded into:


And the legs twisted right into place:


Then it was time to flip the dresser onto the other end and secure it in place:


To hide the gap and connect the legs to the dresser, making the vanity look more finished, we placed the 1×4″ on the outside of the legs and mitered the edge where they met for a smooth joint:


The 1×4’s were glued and attached to the legs with finishing nails:


And attached to the dresser using pocket screws:


Then it was time to flip it over and admire our hard work and ingenuity! Hey there, Frankenvanity:


I attached two more 1×2’s to the exposed side of the dresser so it looked even:


I could have left the dresser as is, but I wanted it to be a bit more polished, and trim is always my favorite way to do that.

The lattice strips were the perfect size to frame the face of the drawers:


It’s as simple as measuring and cutting each piece:


They’re attached with a bit of wood glue and a finish nail on each end.


All done:


I could have stopped there, but I decided to take it one step further with trim around the outside edge too. I started with the same lattice trim:


And put Lucas on putty duty:


Then I added another layer of my small decorative trim on top of the lattice. Just because.


After spackling all the seams and nail holes, Day 1 was over! Whew.


The next day we returned to the house with sandpaper and paintbrushes in hand. It was time to make this thing pretty.

I put Lucas to work sanding the top. Ideally I wanted to have an unpainted wood vanity, but with the mix matched wood, that was never going to happen. So I decided that having a wood top and painted bottom would be the next best option. But first, the lacquer needed to be removed.


I dislike working with paint stripper so we used an electric sander instead:


There’s definitely some elbow grease and time involved (it probably took around an hour) but fortunately, Lucas didn’t mind:


While he was focused on that, I began on the drawers, starting with sanding the wood filler and corners until everything was nice and smooth:


Shortly after I was ready for paint. I grabbed my can of Maison Blanche in Cobblestone—which you may remember is the same color I painted the clawfoot tub a few weeks ago:


I was actually planning to paint the vanity black, but changed my mind at the last minute. I’m slightly obsessed with this color.

It’s such a rewarding feeling, watching that first coat of paint go on and your vision come to life:


Raw wood always soaks the paint right up, while the lacquered parts take a few coats:


But I could paint for hours. It’s easily my favorite part of these projects.


While I was in my painting zone, Lucas had finished sanding the top:


Much better, but still a bit too orange hued for my tastes. I decided to experiment and mix a bit of my Cobblestone paint with water to see if that would tone it down:


I used around a 50/50 ratio and lightly brushed it onto the wood, immediately wiping it off with a rag:


You can use as much or as little as you’d like, and multiple layers to achieve your desired results. Here it is with one light coat:


I was surprised at how much it toned down the red—that coloring is normally super difficult/impossible to get out of wood.


But I ended up with a really nice subtle weathered finish that I love.


The top was sealed with Maison Blanche’s varnish in satin, which I’ve used on both of the vanities in my last house with great results. It dries invisible and creates a water repellant barrier so it can be used in wet areas.


Now that the top was protected, I looked through my stash of waxes to find something for the vanity base. I had used dark brown wax on the tub and didn’t want the finishes to match exactly, so I opted for the white lime wax:


The was was buffed on with a soft cloth over the smooth areas,


And I used a brush to get into the nooks and crevices:


You can use more or less and layer it on to control the effect. I liked being able to see the whiter coloring so I gave it a bit of a thicker application. A bit difficult to see in photos, but here’s a waxed drawer on the left compared to just paint on the right:


It’s more noticeable up close in person, and it’s nice to just have a hint of aged texture.

The was was applied to the rest of the paint…


And then it was time to bring it upstairs for a test fit!

You’ll have to excuse the poor lighting/photos for this one… don’t worry, good pictures are in the future:


Just imagine white planked walls, grouted tile, a vessel sink and big gold mirror and all the pretty decor… sigh…


This is actually going to be the first room completed. And my favorite one, I’m predicting it now.


Although I haven’t decided if I’m going to swap out the handles or not. Thoughts?


While we were finishing up the vanity it started snowing at the house… the first snow of the year! And in a matter of about two hours it became this:


A magical ending to a wonderfully awesome Thanksgiving weekend. I’m thankful for an amazing boyfriend & dad… couldn’t do this without you, boys <3

Now that I have another big project out of the way, I’m ready to focus on something a little lighter—wall stenciling, anyone?

I’ve picked these two patterns out, and have my eyes on a bedroom and a laundry room wall…

Follow my instagram and snapchat (@jennasuedesign) as I share my attempts at this process starting on Friday, and then head back here next Wednesday for another video & blog tutorial!

So much to do, so little time… hoping your December is slightly less chaotic than mine!


Bathroom Plans & Cottage House Flip Update

Today I’m headed back home for Thanksgiving where I’ll be dividing my time between feasting & flipping. What better way to work off that pumpkin pie than with some DIY? And this weekend I’ll have family around to help so I’m hopeful we can make some nice progress.

I haven’t been to the house in 10 days (which feels like a month) but my contractor has been sending me daily updates, and things are coming along!

In the last update, the siding had been removed in preparation for a new foundation:


A few days later, the foundation was done:


And the front of the house reframed and wrapped, along with a now centered and symmetrical front door and window placement:


The siding went up and the covered porch railing down:


Then a new porch was built!


That’s the most recent photo update I’ve received, but other major updates include:

  1. Rebuilding the back porch (a lot of dry rot was discovered, resulting in more $$ to the budget)
  2. Patching and replacing the ceiling & wall boards in the living room & kitchen
  3. Removing the kitchen door & preparing the walls for cabinets
  4. Finishing the recessed lighting downstairs & rewiring the lighting upstairs
  5. Prepping/painting the walls upstairs
  6. Setting up the new plumbing and starting floor tile in the upstairs bathroom

The kitchen cabinets were also delivered yesterday and are scheduled for installation December 10th. The counters and tile backsplash should go in right after that, so we can build the range hood over Christmas. So much for finishing this flip by January like I’d originally hoped, ha…

The plan for this weekend is to build a vanity for the upstairs bathroom, but before we get into that let’s discuss bathroom plans! I’ve been pinning up a storm lately and have finally settled on two different bathroom plans.

Here’s how the upstairs bathroom looked when I bought the house:



And as of 10 days ago…


And here’s my vision…


I’m calling this the Old World Cottage bathroom, with its’ blend of European style elements and rustic cottage charm.

It’s quite a small room, so first I’ll have all of the wood painted white to brighten the space.

Then comes the part I’m most excited about… this brick flooring from Lowes:

brick floors from lowes

They’re individual pieces of flat brick veneer which I had set in a herringbone pattern:


And of course, my newly refinished clawfoot tub with aged brass hardware:


I’ll drape some romantic gauze or lace curtains around the tub, and on the wall behind it will be this vintage cathedral mirror I picked up at the local Restore for $25:


I’m still in the refinishing process, but I plan to leave it wood. I’m also debating on adding a rustic wood shelf ledge across the back wall below the mirror.

On the opposite wall will be the new vanity, and our DIY project for this weekend. I’m a huge fan of repurposing furniture for vanities, and this time was no exception. I wanted something with storage and as much counter space as possible, but not so heavy that it would weigh down the already cramped space. I decided that a happy medium would be a small chest of drawers on one side and an open area on the other.

I scoured thrift stores and flea markets and yard sales for the perfect sized dresser with no luck, then had a light bulb moment…


This desk came with the house, didn’t sell at the estate sale and had been taken apart and used as a table saw base:


But it was free, functional, and I could make it work. So this chest of drawers will be chopped up, trimmed out and painted within a matter of days. I’ll use two table legs on the opposite end, something along these lines:


We’ll turn it into a new custom desk, give it a coat of paint (khaki? gray? ivory?) and wax, and use some nice stained wood for the counter.

On top of that will set a white vessel sink:


A black wall mounted faucet:


This lovely round gold mirror:


And glass shade sconce:


Still working out the accessories but a woven storage basket, wood stool and turkish towels will also be involved. I have a feeling this room might be my favorite of them all.

Next up we have the downstairs bathroom:


Soon to be the…bathroom2

The jumping off point was this tile from Wayfair:


I debated between several different patterned tiles but in the end was drawn to the mix of diamond and organic shapes, and muted green & gray colors in this one.

The tile will cover the floor but also run up the wall to just above the faucet, which happens to be the same faucet as the upstairs bathroom (in brass) and the same one I used in my last guest bathroom (you really can’t beat the style and price):


The tub is staying and the shower tile will be replaced with large white tiles as not to compete with the feature tile. The shower faucet will be replaced with something oil rubbed bronze:


And I’ll add a little touch of gold & sparkle to the ceiling:


Back to the feature wall. I spotted this antique cart in the perfect size at a local thrift store, and it was mine for $60:


I haven’t decided if I’m going to leave it as is, sand it down and give it a colored wax, or paint it. Any thoughts…?

On top of it will be another vessel sink, the brass faucet shown above, and a reclaimed wood shelf across the wall to the shower, separating the tile from the plain wall above.

Rather than use a small mirror above the vanity, I hunted down a large one to reflect light from the window across from it and make the space feel larger:


This pretty french provincial mirror is another $25 Craigslist find and I’m still debating on how to finish it. Leaning towards ivory or gray with light distressing, but it will depend on what I choose for the vanity.

Above the mirror will be two vintage style wall sconces:



I’ll finish it off with a few small accessories and that’s it! What do you think? I’m just crossing my fingers I can get it all done in time, because now I’m officially on a 12 week deadline for a special photoshoot (more on that later) so there’s no room for error. Yikes.

For now it’s one day and one project at a time, and I’m planning on taking lots of photos and videos for you guys this weekend, which I’ll share next week.

I hope you get to spend the holiday eating and drinking with your favorite people this year. I’m thankful for my wonderful support system who help me get through this renovation, and all of you lovely readers for your continued support. Happy Thanksgiving! <3




Vintage Clawfoot Tub Makeover + Tutorial with Maison Blanche

If only every weekend at the cottage flip could be like last weekend… the kind where you show up with a paintbrush, get to experiment with all kinds of new vintage furniture products, and leave with the clawfoot tub of your dreams, without any way to mess it up or break something, all in one afternoon. I even got to head home a day early so I could enjoy a lazy Sunday in bed.

If flipping houses was always this easy, we’d all be doing it, right?

Nevertheless, I have Maison Blanche to thank for my favorite DIY project yet, and today I get to reveal my beautiful new tub…

DIY Clawfoot Tub Makeover with Maison Blanche Vintage Paint

Complete with a video tutorial, walking you through each step:

The video covers everything in depth, but I’ve also included a written tutorial below!

This is actually my second tub makeover—remember this one?


That tub solidified my love/obsession with painted clawfoots, so I jumped for joy when I found another plain jane in the upstairs bathroom, just begging for some personality:


After aging the brass hardware last week, it was time for the tub to get its own makeover!

I had used Maison Blanche Paint Company products on my first tub and it was unlike any paint I’d tried before, so there was no hesitation to use them again this time around.

First I had to decide on a color… 

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Last time around I used a mix of Vanille, White Pepper, and white lime wax. This time I wanted to try something new, so they sent me a bunch of goodies to experiment with…


In the end I narrowed it down to a handful of colors and waxes, and grabbed some brushes to get the party started.


I wanted a warmer look for this bathroom and was leaning towards Cobblestone based off the color chart, so I tested that shade out first. The paint is thick, almost mud-like, which is characteristic of the unique chalk-based formula:


Just to be sure, I swiped on a few more neutral shades:

Maison Blanche Cobblestone, Hurricane, Franciscan Gray, Coquille

My first instinct was right, and Cobblestone was the winner. And here’s a little behind the scenes action… you may remember seeing this go down live on my instagram stories & snapchat 🙂


Perhaps my favorite thing about this paint is that there’s no prep work involved. It’ll adhere to almost any surface without peeling off like latex tends to do on anything that’s coated or slick.

It went on nice and easy over the painted metal…


I gave it two coats for full coverage and then turned my attention to the feet.

Dipping into my sample pot of wrought iron (which I also used last time), I gave each of the feet a couple coats as well. I barely used any of it—a little bit of this stuff goes a long way.


As both paints dried, I began to prep for the next phase.


Once the paint dries, it takes on a smooth velvety finish and needs something to seal and protect it. Varnish is one option, but for this project I prefer the hand buffed look of wax, so I cracked open a few cans in varying colors:


In the video you can watch each of these waxes in action—here’s a screen shot (though they’re a bit easier to make out in person):


The dark brown wax gave it more of a dimensional look and deepened the color, so that was my winner. You can see how it settles into the grooves and brings out the texture up close:


It’s also buildable, so you can apply as much or as little as you want for a light or heavy effect. I didn’t want it to change the color too much, so I applied two thin coats.


Because it’s buffed on by hand, it gives the surface that natural variation in color that makes it look more authentically aged, which I think adds a lot of interest.

Now that the body of the tub was done, it was time for the finishing touch!

Maison Blanche has a product called Organza which is a creamy, shimmery gel that makes any surface look like metal. Real antique brass feet were my dream but of course I’m not able splurge for those, so I couldn’t wait to recreate the look instead.


Organza comes in a handful of colors depending on the type of metal look you want, and I chose Oil Rubbed Bronze which gives the appearance of a darker copper/bronze. It works best on top of black for a dimensional look.

To apply, I dabbed my brush with a very small amount and lightly skimmed the surface, allowing the black paint to still show through in some areas:


If you apply too much, you can gently buff it off with a soft cloth. It dries super fast, and I gave it a second quick touch up coat to highlight a few areas.


Applying both the wax and organza took under 30 minutes (including documenting each step). This whole project came together much faster than I thought and by mid afternoon, my mission was accomplished.


Now to get this tub back in the bathroom where it belongs…


How amazing are those faux brass feet?! They even match the doorknobs


Trying to find those small moments of pretty in a sea of construction and chaos to keep me sane…


If you don’t have a clawfoot tub lying around, this technique can be used on pretty much anything at all. I’m already eyeing other pieces of furniture I can paint and wax and turn into “metal”. There will be more where this came from!


To recap, here’s what I used for this makeover:

Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture paint in Cobblestone

Maison Blanche Antique Wax in Dark Brown

Maison Blanche Vintage Furniture paint in Wrought Iron

Maison Blanche Organza in Oil Rubbed Bronze

There’s currently all kinds of demo and mayhem happening in this bathroom, so before we get too far I want to share all of my plans and sources for both of the bathrooms along with a full house progress update. Stay tuned for that next week, and let me know if you have any questions/comments about today’s project! As always, you can reach me on instagram, facebook and snapchat @ jennasuedesign. Until then…



How to age shiny brass instantly! + Cottage House Flip Episode 5

It has been quite the eventful/stressful past few days—but I survived! And I’m not even talking about the election—more like broken shop equipment, broken laptop, flat tire, expensive tow truck rides, project plans derailed and DIY frustrations. But you’ve gotta take the bad with the good, and despite the setbacks, life is good.

You know what else is good? Magical potions that instantly transform shiny brass to aged perfection…


It’s true, and I’m not sure how this has fallen under my radar for so long—but this miracle liquid exists and it’s my new BFF.

Today I’m sharing a quick recap in this post, but to watch the process in action (and see more house flip updates) you’ll want to check out this week’s video:

Let’s back up for a second. I was fortunate enough to inherit this beautiful clawfoot tub in the upstairs bathroom:


I love the idea of gold hardware (remember the bathroom in my last house?) but this wasn’t exactly gold… it was shiny brass. So I thought about it for a while, and then I stumbled upon an old video demonstration of Martha Stewart aging some brass handles—what a trendsetter she is.

Upon further investigation, I found that a few others had discovered this potion and used it on smaller hardware, but I wasn’t sure it could be done with larger pieces. After shopping around, I decided on this brass ager for just $11 online and figured at that price, it was worth a shot:


The tub and hardware were relocated into a nearby bedroom during bathroom demolition so I had my work space all set up:


You won’t need a lot for this project—just the brass ager and some fine sandpaper/steel wool if your pieces are small, or a sponge/sponge brush for larger items.


Note that this process only works on real brass! I tried it on the cheap faux brass plated stuff (by mistake) and nothing happened, so don’t waste your time.

Real brass has a clear coating to protect it from tarnishing. This coating has to be removed so that the metal can react to the solution. You can sand it off, or you can make your life a lot more difficult and use paint stripper like I did. I didn’t realize what a pain this would be until it was too late, but that is why I’m the guinea pig for these experiments—so you can learn from my mistakes 🙂

I already had the paint stripper on hand (from the fireplace makeover):


This part’s easy, you just brush it on:


Except unlike the photo, you need to use tons of it. Coat that stuff on as thick as possible. More = better. I didn’t use enough the first time around, so after waiting around 40 minutes for it to dry, I tried to scrub it off and was left with a stubborn, globby mess:


The whole room was a mess.


I tried every form of sand paper and abrasive pads but felt like I was getting nowhere after hours. So I gave everything a good, thick recoating and called it a night.


The next day I came back to a nice bubbly coating and was much more optimistic:


When it looks like that, it comes off nice and easy. Plumbing is still a bit tricky with all the joints and tight spaces, but I did the best I could to scrub it all off:


There was definitely still some stubborn parts, so I recoated, waited and rescrubbed for the third time (see why you should just sand it?) until it was all gone—about five hours of work in total.

The brass will look exactly the same as it did with the clear coating, but it will now react to the aging solution. And now the fun part begins!

If your pieces are small enough to be submerged or dipped into a container of the solution, lucky you—you’ll be done in under a minute. If they’re larger, you’ll need to continuously coat & recoat with a sponge. It takes a bit longer but the almost instant gratification is still fun!


The higher concentration of solution, the faster the metal will darken. Even with the sponge brush it still reacts really fast. Here’s how it looks after about 30-60 seconds with a light coat on one side:


You can see it’s much darker where the liquid is pooling. I also tried submerging part of it directly into my container to see the difference. It worked so well! Much darker after about a minute:


If you were watching my instagram stories that day, you caught the first preview:


The great thing about this process is that you’re in complete control of the effect. You can darken it as much as you want, and easily remove areas where it’s too dark with a light sanding. With the sponge brush application, you’re bound to have streaks where the liquid has settled, but they’re easily buffed out:


Click on the video to see this part in action:


Real aged brass has a natural patina that varies in color, so I wasn’t necessarily looking for a uniform shade throughout. I enjoyed the process of coating, sanding and repeating to achieve my desired look.


So long, shiny brass!


I’m looking forward to getting everything reinstalled—that probably won’t happen for another month or so—but I’m not done with this tub makeover yet! Next week I’ll be testing some special paints for the exterior and feet, and of course you’ll get another step by step video tutorial!

In other news, the house is currently being ripped apart:


The new foundation should be done by Friday and then we can start rebuilding the exterior. Next week I’ll have new siding, windows and front door so things are finally moving!

On Sunday I also managed to squeeze in a quick night stand makeover:

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And get a head start on refinishing this vintage mirror, which I plan to hang over the tub:


I still feel like I’m behind schedule and there’s so much to do and coordinate (all in a very specific order, of course) and it’s a challenge living almost 4 hours away and only being there 3 weekends/month, but, I think it’ll get easier over time once the major projects are underway and I can focus on the details. I’m holding onto that light at the end of the tunnel and staying focused!

Thank you all for your continued support and encouragement. Your instagram & snapchat messages help me stay motivated while I’m working hard at the flip so keep ’em coming! Until next week…



The Cottage Flip Kitchen Plan

Are you ready for some kitchen talk? Let’s do this!

I gave a quick preview in my Before Tour video if you missed it, but now it’s time to get into the details and walk you through my thought process. Let me remind you that this is a flip house, so there’s a slightly different approach. I need to keep things relatively neutral to appeal to potential buyers, however I also want to challenge myself creatively and try new things. And there’s the whole limited budget part, which has always forced me to come up with creative solutions.

Step 1 of any new room design is to gather inspiration, so naturally I looked to Pinterest.

This was the photo that first sold me on black cabinets (by Blair Harris):


And this masterpiece from Studio McGee reaffirmed that decision:


Another angle from the above kitchen:


There’s something so inviting about this rustic and warm kitchen by Barbara Westbrook:


While the navy cabinets are a bit too niche for me, I love everything else about this space as seen on Fixer Upper:


I can’t get enough of these black windows and light fixtures:


Shanty2Chic never ceases to amaze me with their DIY plans…


These folks found a way to bring big style to a small kitchen:


So simple yet elegant:


Another clean and classic design combo by Elizabeth Lawson:


Notice a theme? It’s all about the black, white and wood. High contrast with mixed metals and lots of warmth, with some rustic touches thrown in. Now let’s rewind to what I first walked into:

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Not the most functional layout with the fridge blocking the walkway to the bathroom/stairs and very limited counter space. I realized right away that the door had to go so that the back wall could be one solid expanse of cabinets/counters, the stove could be relocated to that wall, and the fridge would move in its’ place to free up the pathway.

Then below the window on the right wall, I’ll add a built in bench with a table for an eat-in area that can double as a work surface:


Up against the bench on the right side, I’ll add another wall of lower cabinets for extra storage and counter space (which will serve as more of a buffet/bar area—excuse the poorly lit photos):


There won’t be any upper cabinets aside from a small one on top of the fridge, just two rows of open shelving between the fridge and back wall, and on the back wall above the stove I’ll build a vent hood from reclaimed wood flanked by two wall sconces.

Let’s look at a few progress shots. The sink is the only thing that will remain in its original place, underneath the window:

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Here’s how it looks today, just about ready for patching up the framing, adding a gas line and rewiring the electrical:


Fortunately, my contractor was able to locate replacement pickwick pine boards for the ceiling (they were damaged during removal) so I can have those patched rather than having to use drywall.

And here’s my design plan:


Let’s talk materials!

Lowe’s was my first choice for cabinets. I used them for my last kitchen, had a great experience and knew they’d deliver again. I briefly considered Ikea but needed something a bit more custom, and didn’t have the time or desire to deal with delivery/assembly.

The most affordable option for a true black finish in the style I wanted actually ended up being the same brand/style I used before—Kraftmaid Durham Maple Square in Onyx:


The top drawer is solid a though panel, they’ll look just like my old kitchen:


The appliances will be stainless because let’s face it, it’s easy and that’s what buyers want. For the countertops, the choice was obvious—you can’t beat the affordability of butcher block, and they just happen to look amazing next to black. I was going to use Ikea until I discovered that Lowe’s just began stocking them—here’s a shot I took in the store:


They’re a bit more expensive than Ikea, however, they come unfinished so you can easily stain them to your liking, and I’m already using Lowe’s installers so they can take care of everything at once rather than having to road trip to Ikea and pay a $250 delivery fee and separate installation. Plus they’re thicker and better quality. Sold!

The farmhouse sink and faucet, though, still goes to Ikea. You just can’t compete with the Domsjo sink and Glittran faucet combo:

screen-shot-2016-10-31-at-3-37-33-pm glittran-kitchen-faucet-black__0144722_pe304275_s4



I’ve debated on the backsplash, but always come back to simple white subway tile sheets. They’re timeless, affordable, and keep the space feeling light and open. Just like my last kitchen, I’ll run them from counter to ceiling to elevate the room (my ceilings are just under 8′). White subway tile is also the perfect backdrop for the custom range hood I plan to build…


I decided early on that this would be included in the design plan, and did a happy dance when Shanty2Chic revealed that they’ll be releasing build plans for this one soon. I’m stalking their page to make sure I don’t miss it!

Flanking the vent hood will be two wall sconces. I had a hard time deciding on the finish for these. Black is an easy and safe choice, but I wanted to add some warmth and dimension. Brass/gold hardware is having a big moment and would look stunning no doubt, but as mentioned earlier, I want to push myself to branch out and try new things.

I spotted these copper sconces on Wayfair for just $68/ea—half the cost of the closest brass option I could find (the price has gone up a bit since) and couldn’t get them out of my head:


I don’t see copper around too often so this is a great opportunity to do something different. There also isn’t a lot of copper hardware out there but I found and ordered these surprisingly affordable cabinet pulls and knobs from ATG Stores:


The built in bench seat under the window will be simple and built from wood with pillows to cozy it up, and I’m thinking something like this round table refinished in a soft gray:


Since its a casual seating area and there’s limited space, I ordered 4 of these stools which can easily be tucked in when not in use:



I recently had a change of heart when it came to the flooring. I’ve always defaulted to engineered wood due to the low cost and the fact that it’s still (partly) wood, but as I was examining my original choice at Lowe’s, I spotted something that made my heart skip a beat. Then I found out it was laminate. But it looked and felt more wood-like than the engineered wood, so I compared them side by side:


The Sterling Maple wood on the left is $5.50/ft compared to the Scottsdale Oak laminate on the right at $2.50/ft. The laminate had the 7″ wide plank I was looking for, while the wood was varying width. The laminate was also warmer in color and had a more rustic, hand scraped texture while the wood was smoother. Both are Pergo brand, are super durable and have lifetime warranties. Laminate has always been a product I’ve never considered using due to the perceived lower quality, but it has come such a long way and doesn’t deserve that stigma anymore. So I’ve decided to stand up for it, take another risk and save a bunch of money in the process. I wish I would have found these for my last home—these floors are going to look amazing!

All of the paneling on the ceilings and walls will be painted using Valspar’s Bistro White (along with the rest of the house).

On another note—after weeks of challenges with my contractor, I had to start over and I found a new contractor who has been awesome to work with so far, and I’m finally feeling much better about everything. The job is scheduled to be completed by the end of December (barring any extreme weather conditions) but I’m optimistic that the house will hit the market by February.

As the design and products are being finalized and ordered, I can already visualize the end result and the excitement and anticipation is building. I’m preemptively declaring that this will hands down be my best renovation yet (the character of this house makes it easy) and I just want to fast forward to January when I get to add all the finishing touches.

On Friday I’m heading back to the flip for a clawfoot tub makeover, more thrift shopping and meetings with contractors/vendors while the foundation work begins. As usual, I’ll be live streaming the progress via instagram stories and snapchat (@jennasuedesign) so I hope you can tune in to watch!



DIY Easy Door Upgrade Tutorial

If you didn’t get enough door makeover inspiration last week, today is your lucky day because I’ve got another tutorial for you!

Step by step guide on how to update your flat panel doors with just trim and paint—easy weekend project!

Before we get into that, how about a quick flip update?

I’m happy to report there’s been some nice progress, as the carpeting has been completely removed and we now have recessed lighting downstairs.


The kitchen is down to the studs and hopefully that door will be gone and replaced with framing next week.


It hasn’t all been smooth sailing, though. My electrician discovered the wiring isn’t to code and he’s going to have to install new breakers, and run a gas line to the kitchen for the stove.


Not only that, but when the wood paneling was removed from the ceiling & wall to run the wiring, most of them broke and I have no replacements so it’s looking like I’ll have to hire a drywall guy to redo the kitchen ceiling.

I’m also dealing with huge work estimate increases that came out of left field today, so this has not been the best week. It’s all part of the process though and what I signed up for, so let’s just head upstairs and focus on the good parts…


Like my fabulous new doors! I actually did a quick tutorial for these earlier this year, but now I have a super helpful video:

Just like the closet doors, the bedroom doors also started as flat panel wood:


Since I had 7 doors to makeover (6 bedrooms and a bathroom) and only a day or two to complete everything, I needed the fastest and easiest solution possible. This option definitely fits the bill.

Before starting, I measured my doors and laid out my plans (in Illustrator):


I know that’s a whole lot of numbers—so let’s break it down. The 1-6 represents each bedroom (they have been assigned a number from the beginning to make my life easier). WC = Water closet aka the bathroom. The numbers on the doors are the width of each door.

Above the door, I’ve listed out the cut list and number of pieces needed in total (for both sides). The 28″, 29″ and 30″ doors all had the same cut sizes to keep things simple, as did the 35″ and 36″ doors. You’ll notice there’s 8 identical horizontal pieces, 4 longer vertical pieces and 4 shorter vertical pieces for the different size rectangles. I aimed for approximately a 5″ gap around the door edges, although this varied between doors.

In total, I bought 35 pieces of 8′ trim, and at around $5 per trim piece, that brought each door total to around $25 (not including materials/paint).

Now that we’ve got our numbers down, let’s move on to the process!

I chose this wood molding from Lowe’s, because I liked that it was flat on one side:


With my cut list in hand, I proceeded to cut all 112 pieces with a miter saw (luckily my dad was there to help out for a few hours!)

I listed these tips in my last tutorial, but they’re worth repeating:

  1. Measure to the outside of the cut, triple check your mark and use a saw with a laser
  2. Cut on the outside of the laser line, not directly on it to account for blade width
  3. Make sure the saw base is locked into the angle you set it to so it doesn’t shift
  4. Make sure the trim is lying flat and flush up against the gate
  5. Pay attention to the direction the molding is facing!

Here’s what the molding looks like for one full door:


Before beginning, I marked the center of every door 5″ from the top, along with the center point of my top trim piece so I knew exactly where to line it up:


After applying a thin bead of liquid nails, press it into place. The first piece is the most critical, and once it’s straight you can tape it into place and move right along.

The easiest way to align the vertical pieces is by measuring where it falls at the top, and then marking that same distance farther down on the door.




Repeat the process for the second vertical piece, and then slide that lower piece in to complete your first rectangle:


Duplicate those steps for the lower box. I wanted a 5″ gap between them, so I simply marked 5″ from both edges and aligned my top piece:


Easy peasy!


Make sure to wipe off any excess liquid nails before it dries, and use painters tape to keep the trim from shifting. Once they’re stable enough, apply a bit of caulk in the seams before painting.

After getting my rhythm down, I was able to complete each door in under 30 minutes—so this can definitely be a weekend project (especially if you have help!)

If you follow me on instagram you may remember my real-time updates…


After returning the next day, I was ready for a full night of painting. The color I chose was Valspar’s Cracked Pepper (which I hear is their richest black) and it went up so smooooth on those wood doors.


With my favorite short handled brush for the detail around the molding, and a foam roller for the flat parts, I knocked them all out in a matter of hours (using one thick coat or two thinner coats for full coverage).


Then I found these antique brass beauties on Lowe’s and fell in love:


They are currently my favorite thing in the house.


I live for the little details.


And this concludes the story of how my doors rose to greatness from humble beginnings.


Already a vast improvement from just a few weeks ago, right?


Now to get rid of that wallpaper! Fresh white walls, coming right up.

Next week I’ll be back to share all the details of my future kitchen! I’ve got some new and exciting plans in store, and I’m anxious to see what you think.

As always, you can stay up to date via instagram, snapchat (@jennasuedesign), Facebook and my YouTube channel. Have a happy Halloween weekend!


DIY Closet Door Trim Tutorial

If you’ve been keeping up with my instagram stories, you know what a crazy, busy, DIY-filled weekend I just had (still recovering from it). 14 interior doors trimmed and painted over the course of 2.5 days—about 20 hours in total spent (literally) running around the house trying to beat the clock—that’s the drawback to living 4 hours from a flip and being on a tight schedule. I was a woman on a mission, and let me just say: MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

DIY Door trim tutorial & video

Sorry, I’m just relieved it’s over (and surprised I was able to pull it all off). There were two projects this weekend—the DIY closet door update (which I’m sharing today) and a second style DIY door trim for the bedroom doors, which I’ll be sharing next week.

Originally I planned to tackle the closet doors last weekend and the interior doors next weekend, but my sister is coming into town from Florida next weekend and I didn’t want to spend 15 hours working at the cottage instead of with her, so I pushed myself to get it all done at once. You hear that, sister? You’re welcome. Also, I had to stop every 20 minutes to take videos and pictures and snapchats and update you on instagram, so I did this for you guys, too 😉

Okay, back on topic! Here’s the latest video update from the flip including the closet door tutorial, so you can see exactly how it all came together:

Before we get to the doors, a quick update on the rest of the house: the carpeting has been removed downstairs!


Now the house is almost entirely orange wood or wood-like materials. Awesome.

The future kitchen:


The living room has been converted into a makeshift work space:


Hey there, beautiful fireplace:


Not much else happened, aside from meeting with several contractors, getting the work schedule lined up, and kitchen design finalized (I’ll share those plans in a couple weeks!)

On to the tutorial!

There are two bedrooms with flat panel sliding closet doors. I’ve never been a fan of the look but new doors are most definitely not in the budget, so molding and paint was the answer (it’s the answer to a lot of things, surprisingly).

I’ve done my fair share of flat panel door transformations in the past—you may remember this first one:


Then the Ikea wardrobe door hack:


And one of my most popular posts ever, the plain to paneled door:


And then the quickest and easiest of them all:


It was time to add another door style to the collection. These sliding doors are a bit limited as far as molding options, because a) there’s a narrow gap where they overlap, so your trim can’t generally stick out more than 0.25″, and b) there’s a track along the top and bottom so you can’t add any trim there. I actually didn’t even consider that second point until I had bought all the trim and had to change my design plan on the fly—oops.


Once you have the right size molding, you can create any design you’d like with it. I considered going with one or two rectangles to keep things nice and simple and match the bedroom doors, but ultimately was drawn to an “X” formation. Gotta keep things interesting, right?

I found this molding from Lowe’s that was the perfect size, and a great price at just 60 cents/foot:


Tip: look them over carefully and make sure to select the straightest ones, and always buy an extra or two! My design plan called for two 8 foot pieces per door (I had 7 doors total). That makes each door cost just under $10 (not including paint/supplies).

Then I grabbed the rest of my supplies (and posted it on instagram):


The caulk was for my other door project, but you will want to have some spackle or wood putty handy.

First you want to mark your door at wherever you want your pieces to end. With my design, I chose 2″ from the top and bottom to clear the tracks, so I marked all 4 points of each door. Then I held my trim piece across it and lined it up corner to corner, tracing the angle of the cut:


No fancy tools were used here, so if you’re looking for a specific science with numbers and such, spoiler alert: this isn’t the right tutorial for you. That level of craftsmanship is above my pay grade, folks.

I’ve come to find that with these types of projects, you really can’t tell if the measurements are off by a little when it’s all said and done—and I tend to be a perfectionist, so I’ll let you be the judge.

Anyway, once your molding has been marked in both places, it’s time to cut it. I used my miter saw for this, which was quite the challenge since the angle was larger than the 45 degree max—so I had to attempt to hold it in place with one hand and try to prevent it from shifting while operating the saw with the other:


Not gonna lie, this part was not fun at all. I’m sure there’s a better way to do this, so feel free to consult your local carpenter. Fortunately there’s this brilliant invention known as a grinder, which solves almost every problem in the world (see the video above for reference).

Now that your first piece is cut, apply a line of liquid nails to the back and line up each edge to your door marks, like so:


Then you’ll want to tape it in place while the glue dries, so it doesn’t shift. If your trim is warped and won’t lie flat, tape will not fix this—you’ll have to nail it in either via nail gun or a small brad nail and hammer.


Wipe off any excess glue using any combination of a sponge, putty knife or wet rag:


I did all of my long pieces first.


Now, onto the first cross piece. I wanted mine to cross at the center of the door, so I measured and marked that location:


Then I lined the second piece up to my marks, traced the angles, glued & taped it in place—same process as the first piece:


And the same thing for the final cross piece:


Now you can sit back, relax, and let the liquid nails dry overnight:


For the second bedroom I cut all my pieces at once—here’s what the trim lineup for 3 doors looks like:


And here they are, pre paint:


The next day, it was time for paint! I had tested a few soft grays (all Valspar) the week before, and made my decision pretty quickly…

valspar light gray paint

Modest Silver was the winner. It’s a soft putty gray—not too blue or yellow.

I found it best and most efficient to use a brush to paint around the molding…


And a smooth roller for all of the flat parts.


Look at those beauties.


The color reads pretty white on screen, but they’ll look more gray once the surrounding walls are painted white.


I’d do it all over again in a heartbeat.


See the black door? That tutorial is coming next week! Let me know if you have any questions below, and catch the live updates on my instagram stories & snapchat (@jennasuedesign) as I return to the cottage this weekend for more. And don’t forget to subscribe to my YouTube channel so you don’t miss any of the tours & tutorials!

See ya soon…


Mortar Wash Brick Fireplace Tutorial & Cottage Flip Update

It’s time for the very first flip update! Last week I shared the Before Tour, so now that we’re all up to speed on what we’re working with, let’s talk about everything that happened last week.

I’ve documented & recapped it all the in the Cottage House Flip Episode 2:

First, there was some demo. Remember the kitchen?


Here it is now:

img_1772 img_1771img_1769

Ahh, nice and open concept. We also have our first unexpected cost…


See that column of wood on the left protruding between the two outlets? Someone put a metal vent there before the wall went in, and instead of moving it they just built the wall around it. That means the entire wall has to be furred out and I’ll lose a couple inches in the kitchen. Not the worst news ever, but still, extra expense #1 of the renovation.

Let’s move onto the DIY portion.

I figured the fireplace would be a good place to start. Here’s what I was working with (after the left wall of brick was demo’d):


And here’s what I was envisioning for the bricks (via Atlanta Homes Mag):


Don’t you just love that weathered, old world charm? Very European looking. It’s a mortar wash technique, also known as German Smear—you may remember JoAnna Gaines using it on a Fixer Upper:


Hers had a bit of a different look than my inspiration picture, but still the same concept—using white mortar to smooth out the brick while still allowing it to peek through in places.

Just to clarify, this is very different than white washing, which is simply painting over the brick with a diluted coat of white paint. I was set on this mortar wash look from the beginning.

Before I could begin, there was some prep work involved. The creatively painted green, yellow and black bricks weren’t going to cut it:


I could have left those completely covered under the mortar, but I wanted a clean slate to work with and thought I’d give removing the paint a try.

I found a handful of options searching online, and ended up with this stripping gel:


I also brought a grinder, an electric sander and miscellaneous scraping tools.

After letting the stripper gel do it’s thing, I used a stiff brillo pad to scrub the residue and was left with this:


It kind of worked. There was still some stubborn paint that wouldn’t budge, and an underlying brick discoloration, but it loosened most of it.

The fastest method was definitely sanding and using the grinder, but that ate up the paper real quick and there were some bricks that simply wouldn’t cooperate (refer to the video to see the process in action).

After around four hours of work, I decided to throw in the towel and call it ‘good enough.’ It was time to move on to the mantel!

The first thing I knew I wanted was big chunky reclaimed wood framing the fireplace. I’m fortunate enough to have a lumber yard within 10 miles of the cottage, so I stopped in to find the perfect match. Within minutes, I had made my selection and had them cut it to size:


I went with one large horizontal mantel, flanked by two vertical pieces on either side of the brick to make it feel more finished.

I had loaded up my dads truck with all of the necessary tools to hang this mantel, and was planning on meeting my demo guy at the cottage to help me install it. After reading a tutorial online, I purchased some 5/8″ steel rods, 5 minute epoxy and a 5/8″ masonry drill bit. Turned out my helper couldn’t make it, but I had two contractors on the way to give me an estimate and asked if they had time to help with the mantel. It couldn’t have worked out better—these guys went straight to work and they were awesome.


After setting the vertical wood beams in place, they drilled four holes through the brick and inserted the steel rods.


They didn’t trust my Gorilla Glue epoxy and picked up some of this adhesive instead for securing the steel into the bricks:


Then they drilled corresponding holes into the mantel:


Before slipping the mantel piece on, they coated the back in Loctite construction adhesive for extra security:


And up it went!


While the glue was drying, they kept it propped up and level to ensure it wouldn’t shift from the weight:


Then it was finally time for mortar washing!


The first step is locating white mortar, which isn’t as easy as one might think. Home Depot is the only retail chain I know of that carries it, and it wasn’t in stock within over 100 miles of me so instead I ended up at True Value, hoping to find an alternative as I tried to explain my mission to the store associates.

The closest thing we could find was white thin-set mortar, which came in at a whopping $19 compared to $10 for the recommended white cement mortar at Home Depot:


So I sucked it up and paid the price, hoping it would work out (fortunately, it did).

Back at the cottage, I mixed the mortar with water until reaching a consistency somewhere in between yogurt and peanut butter.


To apply it, you’ll need something that’s flexible enough to get into the grooves but stiff enough to spread and not fall apart. I found that a large stiff sponge worked best, but in hindsight I think a grout float might be ideal.


The existing mortar was really quite deep, and my goal was to level out the surface so it required a lot of mortar. Thick mortar also takes longer to dry, so I found that I needed to leave it on for closer to 45 minutes to an hour before sanding it off.

This took a lot longer than expected. Even with my sister helping, it was about ten hours in all. I later learned that it’s much more time consuming if your bricks are super rough and uneven, as mine were.


Luckily I came away with a few pointers for anyone else attempting this.

Tip 1: Try to focus mostly on the mortar lines, rather than slop mortar over the entire brick. This also depends on the look you are going for, but I wanted a bit more of the brick to show through so I ended up having to do a ton of scraping and sanding afterwards. It would have been nice if half the bricks were left mostly exposed to begin with, but it’s hard to control giant globs of mortar when your hands are stiff and gloves are covered in it (use gloves, by the way!)


Tip 2: Unless you want full coverage, apply less mortar than you actually want. Even residual mortar will stain the bricks white, and it’s hard to remove completely afterwards. It’s much easier to remove it when it’s still wet (within an hour) so if you notice an area where you want more brick showing through, act fast and scrub it off with a wet sponge.


Tip 3: Wet sponges are the best way to wash the mortar off, but you’ll also want to use something abrasive (like a scraper or brillo pad) to remove it all. Once it has completely dried (several hours) you can use an electric sander (60 grit) to expose more of the brick.


I thought for sure I’d be done Sunday night, but it turns out the mortar needs several hours to dry completely. Each time I’d wipe it down with a wet sponge, it would dry with a white residue. Here you can see the freshly wiped brick on the top vs after it dries on the bottom:


That’s why it’s important to use less mortar from the beginning (and saves time!)

The bricks along the bottom were aligned nice and flat with smooth and level mortar joints, so it ended up taking about 3-4 times less. If you have smooth flat brick joints, consider yourself very lucky because this process should be a breeze!


Overall—still very worth it—especially given the cost of just $50 for the wood and $60 for materials. So glad it’s over though. Project #1, in the books!


Once the carpet is replaced with wood floors and the orange wood paneling is a fresh white, I think this fireplace will shine.


And it’s hard to see past the construction mess, I know. There won’t be any pretty pictures for a while here, guys. Humble beginnings!


In a couple days I’ll be heading back for Project 2—updating the interior doors! I’ll be using my easy flat panel door upgrade on all 7 doors upstairs, so make sure you’re following on instagram and snapchat (@jennasuedesign) for live updates as it unfolds. See you there!


Cottage House Flip: Before Tour & Video!

Last week I shared all the numbers in the Cottage House Flip Kickoff Post, and now it’s time for a detailed Before Tour & Renovation Plan!

I paid a visit to the house the day it closed and spent the weekend clearing out the house, taking photos and shooting video. One thing I regret not doing in past homes is making sure to thoroughly capture the “Before’s”, so I’ve promised to stay on top of it this time.

I thought it’d be fun to document the renovation not only in photos & blog posts, but through a video series so I can take you there with me. I present to you, video #1, the Cottage House Flip Before Tour:

Let’s break down the room by room plans. Starting with the exterior:


Plenty of charm and potential, but a closer look reveals some obvious (major) issues.


This siding has seen better days. The right side of the house is bowing where the foundation needs to be repaired (a $15k fix):


I also plan to replace both lower windows and the door, as their current placement is very random and non symmetrical.

The back side of the house isn’t much better:


There’s dry rot on the porch and the fireplace needs attention:


There’s a lovely wraparound porch, but the railing needs to be rebuilt:


The carpet will also need to be removed with the wood flooring refinished, and I plan to add a beadboard ceiling.


Paint, lighting, furniture and accessories will finish off the space.


Then there’s the other necessities like a new roof, reframing of the windows, adding a ground barrier along the entire perimeter of the house, new retaining walls in the front and new lighting installed should do the trick—but this is all expected to cost over $40k. Yikes. Let’s go inside.

The entry situation is strange. You enter through the lower exterior door which opens to an unfinished/dirt area underneath the house, then take the staircase up to the front porch, then enter through the porch door. You could enter through the back door but there aren’t any steps leading to it—just a dirt hill (there’s no driveway or garage). Things are a bit different here in the wilderness.


Once you walk inside, you’ll find the living room on your left, a staircase straight ahead and the kitchen on the right. Let’s start with the living room:


The above photo is taken from the front door. It’s a decent sized room…


Because there’s no dining room, I’ve decided to split this into two sections, creating a dining area on the left.


The table will be placed where the current coffee table is, along the large picture windows. There will also be room for a reading nook where the couch/bookshelf is along the back wall.

The second portion will be divided into two seating areas. I’ll place the sofa facing the fireplace, pretty much in the same spot they have it now:


To the left of that will be two smaller love seats facing each other.


The fireplace will get a mortar wash treatment on the bricks and a rustic wood mantel. If it fits in the budget, I’ll install a row of cabinets on the left where the bookcase currently is. Oh, and all of the wood will be painted white, leaving the door and window trim the existing wood color (unless I decide I hate the way that looks).

Here’s a view from that corner, looking back toward the front door. You can see the staircase in the center and a sliver of the downstairs bathroom on the left:


In almost every situation I’d try to find a way to knock out any walls blocking the kitchen to make it open concept, but of course we can’t do that with a staircase so the layout is staying as is.


It’s not too closed off though—here’s the view from the front door looking to the right:


Don’t be fooled by the wide angle lens—this isn’t a very big space. The existing layout makes it worse.


The fridge is awkwardly positioned in the center, obstructing the walkway to the right. So that’ll be relocated just to the left of where the stove currently sits:


Can you imagine how much that will open this up?


The side porch door will be removed entirely so the whole back wall can have cabinets & counter space, and the stove be relocated to that wall as well. (Warning: cell phone photos ahead)


Along the double windows, I’ll build a custom bench seat and add a small table for extra workspace and eat-in casual dining:


And to the right of that, I’ll run additional lower cabinets for more storage & counter space, with a floating shelf or two above it:


The downstairs bathroom will get an update (leaving the existing tub), but I can only spend around $3-4k in here to stay on budget:


That covers the downstairs—let’s head up to where the magic is!


(Yes, this is the original carpet from 1956 and it will all be replaced by wood floors).

We’ve arrived to the hallway with surprises behind every door.


There are 8 doors up here including 6 bedrooms, a laundry room and bathroom. Let’s see what’s behind Door #1…


This is the biggest room of them all (by far). And I am slightly obsessed.


All we need here is to get rid of the wallpaper (white walls), light gray closet doors, new flooring and new bedding/furniture/lighting/decor.


That’s actually the plan for every single bedroom. Upstairs should be relatively easy (famous last words…)


Ugh, all this wallpaper.

Bedroom #2 might be my favorite of them all, because of this awesome little alcove:



Bedroom #3:


I’m digging the wood paneling—can’t decide whether to leave it or paint it gray.


The laundry room is immediately to the left of the staircase.


I plan to replace the door with a barn door to free up some walking space and paint the walls/cabinet.

Bedroom #4 is the littlest of them all, just big enough for a twin bed:




Then we have bedroom #5, currently dubbed The Red Room:



Across from Bedroom #5 is the upstairs bathroom. This is what my bathroom dreams are made of:


If you can’t picture it now, just wait.


It won’t need a ton of work—tile floors, paint, new vanity & a few accessories to be the stunner I know it can be.


Lastly, bedroom #6.


I love this room too, but it’s not deep enough to fit a bed without the door hitting it, so it’ll have to swing out into the hallway.



Can’t you just picture clean white walls, wood trim and a soft gray on the closets? I’m actually excited all of the doors are cheap-o flat panel wood, because that means I get to add molding & paint for a cheap and easy but super impactful transformation. I plan to use this DIY method (it’s one of my favorite projects to do) on all of the doors. The entry doors will be painted black, and the closet doors will be painted gray (at least that’s the plan for now).

And that pretty much covers it! Can you see why I fell in love with the house? Are you able to picture the end results? It might be hard to see now but we’ll get there.

A reader had asked where I start when beginning a renovation—planning, budget, or inspiration? For me, it starts before I even purchase the house. When I walk through each room, I try to visualize the “After”. Sometimes I can see it right away, other times it takes a day or two of creative brainstorming (while looking at Pinterest for inspiration). If I can’t come up with something I love or the amount of work doesn’t make sense (labor costs), then I’ll move on.


Often it’s mostly cosmetic, and I can usually find ways to get the look I’m after in a very cost effective manner. Most of this comes from experience and trial & error over the past eight years.


So in a nutshell, I start with the inspiration/final picture in mind, then reverse engineer the best way to achieve that. Planning and budget go hand in hand, and I’ll shop around for the lowest possible price that will get me as close to my vision as possible while staying in budget.


I use the same general process for a flip vs my own home, except for a flip I have to plan everything at once in a much shorter period of time. And I’m not able to put as much thought or attention to detail into each space as if it were my own, which is tough as a perfectionist, but I have to keep the bigger picture in mind. Just like everything else in life, it’s a learning experience 🙂

Alright, time to get working on my next video & post for you guys. Progress is underway and there’s no time to waste! You can keep up with the adventures on my instagram stories, snapchat (@jennasuedesign) & facebook and make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel for video updates & tutorials! And don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions/comments, I love chatting with you guys and it helps me stay motivated during those long DIY days! See ya soon,