The Master: Progress so far

Hello? Hello? Anyone still there? Blogging has been sporadic at best the past few months as we prepared for the arrival of Miss Reagan.  She is closing in on 2 months old (CRAZY?!?!?!) and I am *hoping* to get back into somewhat of a blogging rhythm in the next few weeks. Thanks for hanging in there while we adjust and love on our new addition. She is precious! 

We shared here that we made the big move to upstairs right before Reagan was born. Seeing that was a couple months ago, I thought it was about time I gave ya the tour! There is nothing on the walls yet and curtains aren’t hung, but we are still happy that all three of us sleep upstairs. Oh, but we did buy new windows and blinds. Blinds are kind of important 🙂 Let’s start with the bedroom. When you walk in, you see the bed and accent wall (still need to walk you through that, I know). Reagan is still sleeping in our room currently, obviously. Still working on that whole sleeping through the night thing.


 Sorry these photos turned out a little dark! Pretty sure it was cloudy and raining out that day. That has happened a good bit this summer! Ryan’s dresser and a club chair are opposite of the bed (that is the door into the bedroom) I am so happy to have that chair out of the foyer! It just kind of hung out awkwardly for…oh….a year or so…..seen here….

house-tour_entryYup. It hung out there. For a year. BUT now the chair has found its rightful hope upstairs! Yay! 

Master-bedroom-door Master-bedroom-dresser


 My dresser hangs out in front of the brick chimney adjacent to the bed. You can see Reagan’s bassinet in the photo. How Ryan ended up with the larger dresser when I moved in almost three years ago is still a puzzle. 


 The door without trim leads into the master bath. We will trim out that door. One day. One day, friends. 

What surprised me and Ryan so much was how LARGE the bedroom was when we moved our furniture in (thanks for the help Dad!). I mean, we knew it was a large bedroom – roughly 15 x 16 I believe. We just didn’t realize HOW large! Feel free to roll your eyes with our “Oh, our bedroom is just so big!” complaints! Life is rough, y’all. Big rugs are expensive. I don’t know what I was to do with all the wall space. Do I want a bench by the door? Sooo Haaarrrrddddd.*sigh* First world problems. 

Onto the bathroom! Here is the view from the door. 

master-bath-entry master-bath-sinks

Obviously tile is in progress. Other than that, the first thing you see is the beautiful vintage, claw foot tub (thanks Southern Accents!) that is not yet installed. Ryan and I are currently tag teaming the tile around the tub area, so we can get the tub installed. Installing the tub is currently our top house priority. Install the tub = get to REFINANCE! That will be a happy, happy day. Hello 15 year term! 

Anyways, back to the bathroom. We have two pedestal sinks (purchased from Lowe’s for under $100 each) with a Ikea Rast dresser in between for storage. For additional storage, we also have two very large, salvaged medicine cabinets (thanks Mom for stripping and sanding those!) from Southern Accents. They were shown in the plans for the master bath and just got a little clean up job and make over. 

 We also have a little bit of shelving by the door as well. We actually have more storage than we need right now. I think we are both kind of minimalist when it comes to our beauty products. Minimalist could also be seen as cheap. 🙂 


 The shower is done, and it is glorious! I finished grouting that shower at 38 weeks pregnant (with Ryan’s help). Boom! The shower is roughly 48″ x 48″ so it fit my very pregnant belly well! 


 The toilet and closet are tucked into the far corner. Door for the commode to come! The closet is the far door with a window. Window in the tiny room with a toilet might be awkward for the neighbors…


We did create a decorative wall behind the toilet. Ryan and I are TERRIBLE at patching sheet rock. I mean TERRIBLE! We had a large spot behind the toilet to patch, and as always, our patch job was awful so we opted to just cover it with something decorative. 

master bath toilet

 We used Jenny’s tutorial for DIY Planked Walls and it turned out great! Entire wall behind the toilet for less than $10, and it was SO easy! Don’t you love those projects? 

Reagan approves of our progress so far! 

Reagan Saffell

Next tour – Reagan’s room! 






Updates from Upstairs

Hey there blog land. Sorry for the radio silence lately. Ryan and I have been working on LOTS of things upstairs over the past two or three months. There was a celebratory NO MORE WALLPAPER dance we did a while back, and we shared our plans for the nursery and our master bathroom. I am very happy to report we have made lots of progress in all three rooms! In fact, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably already know we MOVED UPSTAIRS! *You may need to pinch me*

Master bedroom painted

If you had told me last year when we moved in that we would be moving upstairs within the year, I would have chuckled and rolled my eyes. If you had told me we had even started the master bathroom upstairs I would have slapped you. If you had told me we would be welcoming a baby in the Spring AND actually have the nursery finished, I would have probably passed out on the floor. Okay, so truth be told the nursery is like 95% finished but close enough! Seriously, we have gotten way more done than I anticipated in the past year. I will admit that a baby coming was a pretty darn good motivator 🙂

Baby shower bump

Quick pregnancy update – I am 39 weeks tomorrow and the entire pregnancy has gone very smoothly, dare I even say it has been easy? *knock on wood* Little Saffell and myself have been healthy the entire time, and I have been able to remain active during my entire pregnancy. Last week I even helped Ryan grout the master shower. Pregnant woman for the win! I’ve had a lot of people ask how I am doing all this stuff (laying flooring, tiling a bathroom and shower, grouting, etc.) during my third trimester. Honestly, I feel a lot better being active and moving than sitting at a desk for 9 hours. I actually stopped working three weeks ago (about a month before our due date) and have been working on stuff around the house, and I feel SO MUCH BETTER doing a little, light manual labor than sitting at a desk all day. When I was working, by 10 AM my back and shoulders would be killing me, but my back and shoulder pain is pretty much non existent when I am up and moving most of the day. I also think my height helps make the third trimester more comfortable in general. Being 5’9 has all kinds of perks! I never thought about a more comfortable pregnancy being one of them. With that said, short ladies out there, I am so SO sorry.Being 5’2 and pregnant sounds terrible. You have my sympathies.

Anyways, back to updates on upstairs. So the master bedroom is now clean and painted from top to bottom! The accent wall turned out really cool and all of our furniture fit as planned, with even some room to spare.

Master bedroom accent wall

We also ordered replacement windows for 4 windows upstairs, including the one to the right of the bed. By the end of May, we should have those windows installed and we will have only 4 windows left in the whole house left. Yay! So far, those windows have not given us any issues what so ever. Fingers crossed that continues!

Master bedroom painted_window

The master bathroom is still a work in progress. We currently have both sinks installed, as well as the toilet and we are SOOO close to having the shower done.

master bath sink wall tile

master bath sink wall master bath tile progress

Proof you can tile when 8 months pregnant! 🙂

master bath toilet

Ryan is actually planning on finishing the shower up today. Ahh!!! WORKING BATHROOM! Pure luxury I tell you.

master bath shower progress

The nursery is by far the most complete room in the house! We even took the time to caulk and putty nail holes – unlike *ahem* the rest of the house. Even though little Miss Saffell won’t be really using her room for a few months, it feels good to have it done for when the day comes. I have a few small things to wrap up (hopefully this week) then I will share pictures!

Ryan and I were both hoping Miss Saffell would decide to come out before her due date (between May 6 and May 13th), but it is not looking that way at the moment. I told Ryan over the weekend that she is just being considerate and letting us finish the master shower 🙂 She is already considerate of others! How nice is that. One less thing for us to try and teach her, ha! It is nice to dream, right?

What have you guys been up to lately? Have you taken advantage of the Spring weather lately? We have tried to take full advantage of the flexibility we have now just to go and do things on a whim like a movie, last minute dinner with friends, late night ice cream runs (totally Ryan’s idea!). Have a good week!



Master Bath Plans

Hey there strangers! Ryan and I have been making some steady progress around the house here lately. I mentioned here that we thoroughly enjoyed a few snow days and knocked out most of our to-do list for the nursery. I have a few more things to hang on the wall and then I will share more pictures. Promise!

We have been focusing most of our time and energy (and money) lately on the master bathroom. The master bedroom is currently a holding room for all the fixtures for the bathroom, as well as tools and everything else that comes with a renovation. It is quite lovely!

Master bedroom

Not exactly a relaxing master bedroom yet 🙂

Here is a peak at what we are planning on using in the bathroom as far as finishes go.

master bath design borad copy

Lots of white subway tile with our vintage tub and new pedestal sinks. As far as flooring choices, my beloved marble hexagon tile or marble basket weave was not in the budget. At all. Nor would it realistically EVER be in our bathroom budget. Twelve to twenty dollars a square foot is a LARGE chunk of change when you are looking at 200+ square feet. Darn you large bathroom! *first world problems* When it comes to bathrooms, I tend to be drawn to three main flooring types: Marble, white hexagon tile, and wood flooring. You may remember that we used the white hexagon tile in the other upstairs bathroom – you can see that here. While I love the look in that bathroom, even the hexagon tile was stretching the budget. Laying a mosaic tile is also pretty time consuming, so we pretty much scratched that option. That leaves us with hardwood. You probably already know, but hardwood + lots of water = not friends.

After doing a little research, we decided that vinyl plank that looked like hardwood would actually be the best option as far as durability and water was concerned. I will be honest and say I was skeptical of the vinyl tile in regards to looks. I will openly admit that I am a design snob. No same here. We also ordered the flooring online, so I didn’t get to see it in person before taking the plunge. That always makes me nervous! So, when the flooring came in I was pleasantly surprised by the color and “grain” variation. It is a lot prettier than I thought it would be!

Ryan and I were able to get the flooring installed over the course of a week and weekend. You may have seen this photo on Instagram or Facebook a few weeks ago.

Starting master bath vinyl flooring

Feet are gone Why yes, I can help lay vinyl flooring at 30 weeks pregnant! We opted for glue down vinyl over the floating since we were using it in a wet area. The glue down was also cheaper, so that didn’t hurt either! Ryan did the actually gluing part of the process and his words are “Easy, but not fun.” By not fun, he means he at one point said, “I will never do this again,” and “This is stupid. I would rather lay tile.” I kindly reminded him that he has never actually laid tile 🙂 We had a pretty good little system worked out. I would select and layout the flooring in the bedroom (kind of like dry fitting for tile) and then bring the pieces to Ryan. If anything needed to be cut or trimmed, I would do that while Ryan applied more glue to the subfloor. Yay teamwork!

Finished flooring in bathroom

Finished flooring

The flooring is complete and next up on the agenda….

Master bath shower

Shower!!! Tile!!! Toilet!!! Sinks!!!! Ya know, all that stuff that actually makes a bathroom a bathroom. No biggie 🙂

Since we came in under budget with the vinyl flooring, we were able to splurge a little on the tile for the shower floor. Meet my precious marble flooring!


Happy girl right here! Ryan will be installing all of the fixtures himself and I am taking care of most of the tile work. I am a self declared tile ninja remember? 😉

What have you guys been up to lately? Any experience with installed your own plumbing fixtures? Fingers crossed things go well this week! We could have a working toilet by the end of the week. Who knew that would be so exciting?!?!?! Have a good week!

New Year, New Happenings

If you are here from the article, welcome! Hope you will stay a while! You can see what the house first looked like when we bought it on the Home Tour page at the top. Enjoy!

Happy New Year copy

Happy New Year y’all! In honor of the new year, I decided to give the blog a little freshen up. What do you think? I am hoping to make a few other changes in the coming weeks to make browsing around easier. *Fingers crossed*

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and Happy New Year. Ryan and I announced some pretty exciting news to our friends and family Christmas Day. Maybe you can guess based on what we are wearing?

Christmas 2013

In case the pink doesn’t give it away, we will be welcoming a little girl into our family this Spring! Bring on the dresses and hair bows! And sewing machine. It is time for this lady to master some sewing skills because cute dresses are EXPENSIVE!

Baby Prep_girl

We have made a few small purchases, even a few things for the nursery, but nothing too crazy yet. We have also had a few friends graciously give us a few things. Free maternity clothes = awesome. My friends rock! I did pick up some sample chips for the nursery this week, so that was pretty exciting! You could probably guess,  we won’t be doing the traditional pastel pink or blue nursery décor. Right now I thinking of a turquoise and coral color scheme, with black, white, and apple green accents. I am hoping to narrow the colors down this weekend and purchase a few samples!

Nursery paint colors

I will share more nursery plans soon!

Another new happening today – we were chosen by The Huntsville Times for their series Cool Spaces. It was also kind of a “where are they now?” article. You can find the first article here. Can you believe it has been 8  since the first article?!?! Crazy town. The article went live today and the photos are amazing! We even managed to not look completely stupid in our video interview! Yay! You can check out the article, photos, and video here.


So what is new with you guys this year? Anything exciting going on in your world? House projects? Baby News? Know any local news celebrities?? 😉



Baby Prepping

Hey there strangers! I am back from my pregnant-must-go-to-bed-at-8pm-blogging-break 🙂 I can now successfully go to bed at 9:30 or 10 pm without wanting to kill anyone the following day. Victory! It is nice to feel normal again!

While the blogging break was much needed, I have missed getting to document and share our house progress. Blogging about our progress is a really easy way to stay motivated and see that we HAVE made progress. When working on a long term renovation, it is really easy to get a in rut and feel like you aren’t making progress. Being able to look back at just a few months ago and actually SEE what you accomplished is much needed, at least for us!

Anyways, Ryan and I have been working on getting ready for little Saffell as far as the house and our finances. Our first focus was actually on getting our finances in order for life on one income. I will be leaving the work force in April (woot woot!), and my new job will be Lead Domestic & Childcare Coordinator at the Saffell residence (aka stay at home wife and mom). We are very thankful that we have the option to do make one income work! It is something that we have planned for since before we even got married. It was a big reason we decided to buy a fixer-upper. We wanted a house big enough for a family of 5 or 6, still be able to afford it on Ryan’s income alone, AND pay it off in 20 years instead of 30.  Some might say we had lofty goals!!

Even though we have been planning for life on one income, we still had a few changes to make. One was ditching one of our car payments, so we sold Ryan’s beloved truck.


We were able to sell the truck, pay off the small remaining balance and purchase a new-to-us SUV with cash. Hurray!!! The SUV has the same amount of miles on it as the truck did, so we made a pretty equal trade as far as longevity is concerned (so we hope). We have a few more changes to make to the budget like cellphone plans and probably ditching cable, but getting rid of the truck was a big one!

Now, onto the house baby prep. Our two biggest goals are getting the nursery and the master bedroom done. Any progress we can make to the master bath is just a bonus!

Our nursery still pretty much looks like this, with the exception of a crib (yard-sale purchase) and small changing table (Goodwill).


The master bedroom is definitely the bigger task. Do you remember what it looked like? Let’s freshen your memory.


Yikes. Salvaged goods stashed in every corner. Wallpaper on the walls and ceiling. Massive amounts of saw dust. Tools everywhere. 27 paint cans. Dirt. Lots and lots of dirt.

Well, we have made some progress and the room now looks like this.

IMG_3668 IMG_3667 IMG_3666 IMG_3665 IMG_3664

EMPTY! This room has not been empty since we bought the house!! It’s like there is another half a house upstairs 🙂

We have even started tackling the wallpaper. By we I mean my brother. Isn’t he a trooper?


I believe removing wallpaper is mine and Ryan’s main agenda for today. Fun!! Hopefully I will have some progress to share in that department after the Holidays!

Another update we will be sharing next week is the GENDER OF LITTLE SAFFELL! We go to the doctor Monday, and will make the big announcement Christmas day! Merry Christmas to us 🙂



Quick Festive Fun

When I saw Layla’s quick little Halloween craft (you can see it here) a few weeks ago, I got inspired to whip up this little mason jar craft!



Quick + Easy + Almost Free = CRAFT GOLD!

Here are the supplies you need: Mason jar (or a clean empty can would work, too), gauze, hot glue, googly eyes, and a candle of some sort.


So, all you do is wrap the gauze around the jar to your desire, tuck the ends of the gauze in and add a dab of hot glue if need be. Next, create a spot for eyes and attach with hot glue. TA-DA! You are done! One not-really-spooky-mummy-or-ghost-Halloween-decor.




There is another new addition to our porch as well. Meet Cat.




I think she just likes sleeping on a pretty porch. And my mom feeds her. It is probably the latter.

October 024

Has anyone else whipped up some quick Halloween crafts lately? You can see A TON over on The Lettered Cottage’s fall craft link up from a few weeks ago. Anyone working on a really sweet Halloween Costume? I would love to hear!







Quick thank you!

Hey strangers! Forgive me for not getting to my computer much this week. I was a little under the weather for the first part of the week (thank you stomach bug) and spent the second half catching up on life stuff. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who came by last Saturday to our Open House party! We had such a nice time seeing everyone.


We spent the weekend with my family and friends in Tuscaloosa cheering on the Crimson Tide. It was Homecoming, so that is always fun.


I will confess that I would have appreciated cooler weather. Eight-five degrees in October, really Alabama? REALLY? I am so ready to pullout my boots and sweaters, but the weather won’t let me! I have decided to break out the fall decorations this week even if the weather still feels like summer! At least the leaves are starting to fall in Merrimack, so it LOOKS like fall even if it doesn’t feel like it.


Have a good week! Peace. Brittney

Open House Party: THIS SATURDAY!

Hey there! Just a friendly reminder that our open house party is THIS Saturday from 2 pm to 6 pm. We are really looking forward to seeing you there!



You can find our address here on the Facebook event page. This will be coinciding with our neighborhood fall get together and Chili cook off (also at our house, just to clarify). You do not have to bring anything other than yourself, but you are welcome to enter the Chili cook off if you wish! Not required though 🙂

For parking, you are welcome to park on the street or at the church parking lot right off of Triana. Street parking probably won’t take long to fill up, so if you don’t mind walking two blocks, parking at the church would be great!

Some people have asked about gifts. Please know we do NOT except gifts. I will have a jar set up to take donations for the Merrimack Mill Village Organization and a spot to contribute to what I fondly call “The Saffell Second Floor Fund.” Again, we do not except gifts, but if you are just feeling really generous you have two options.

I am off for today! Have a great rest of the week. Hope to see you Saturday!

Oh, and for anyone worried, we will have football on inside the house!! Bama game is at 5:30!


Labor Day Laboring

Howdy! I hope you all had a nice Labor Day weekend, whether it was spent leisurely soaking in the last days of summer or if you were “laboring” like we were. I am also glad you enjoyed the shutter story so much. 

Our Labor Day Weekend agenda = Staining the front and back porch. Here’s how it went down.


Step 1. Clean off the Porch. Dump all things into the yard or foyer. Try not to trip or call over the massive amount of stuff. Yes, that is a hunk of oak hanging out in my foyer.

porch_clear-off-foyer Porch_clear-off porch_clearing-off

Step 2. Clean Decks. Try not to spray the supervisors (Tori and Bella) with the power-washer. They don’t like water in any way, shape or form. It stirs terrible memories of…gasp…BATHS. According to Bella baths are evil and should be avoided at all costs.



*You may even need to clean and scrub the decks with a deck cleaner*

Step 3. Let the decks dry. No pictures because it was very boring. We decided that watching football was much more fun than watching decks dry. Roll Tide.

Step 4. Select and test out your stain color. He opted for something that would match the color of dirt – the color was called Chocolate. Gather other staining supplies as well.



1. Paint pan 2. Roller with correct nap size (read instructions on your paint or stain) 3. Deck brush 4. Stir sticks 5. Rags to clean up rogue stain.

Step 5. Sweep one more time, unless you like the look of hair and leaves on your porch. Personal preference.

Step 6. Start the fun. Staining. I rolled on stain while Ryan brushed close to the house. I also went back with a brush to try and push the stain between the boards.




Step 7. Let it dry for one hour (or whatever your directions tell you) and start coat 2.

Step 8. Apply coat 2. Don’t stain yourself in to a corner like I did. I blame the heat, lack of water, and snack deprivation.

Step 9. Don’t walk on the deck. Tell your friends and neighbors to not walk on the deck.

Step 10. Wait for deck to cure according to instructions. Our was 72 hours. Then, admire your handy work!


I have a couple projects up my sleeve this week to help “pretty-up” the porch before the Open House Party in a few weeks! What are you guys up to this weekend? Do you have any plans to treat your deck or porch before the weather changes? We heard this was a good time to do it. We are helping so friends move today and can hopefully tackle a few little things around the house. Have a good weekend!



FAQ: So what made you choose to live there?

Second Most FAQ: What made you choose Merrimack?

This can also be asked as, “Why did you choose to buy a 100 year old house in need of lots of repair?” “Why did you choose to live three blocks form the ghetto?” “Why do you live on THAT side of the town?” “Why did you buy a dump?”

All excellent questions!

I mentioned how we found Merrimack Mill Village over a year ago when we first bought the house. It all started with an article in The Huntsville Times and This Old House. You can read more in detail about that here. Remember this first picture I posted?

Merrimack Village circa 1900

We immediately loved it here. We loved the people who warmly welcomed us and calmed some of our fears. We loved the potential of a house that we could make entirely ours. We loved being right in the middle of town. Obviously, I love old houses!

But there are some draw backs. If you are familiar with the Huntsville area, you probably know that West Huntsville is not seen as desirable. We are in the worst school zone. We are in the area with the highest crime rate. We probably have the highest crime rate (just a guess). Our zip code has the lowest family income in all of Huntsville. Sounds glamorous, right? 😉 You totally want to move now, right?

Despite all of those “lovely” things, we know this is the area we want to live in and raise a family in. This whole house adventure has been crazy from the start, but we have always been at peace that this is where we needed to be. Here. In Merrimack. In West Huntsville.

When I think about what we REALLY want to teach our children (not ABCs or math or a well rounded taste in music), but important life lessons I can narrow it down to two things.

1) Love God. All the time.

2) Love People. All People. Rich. Poor. Straight. Gay. Black. White. Purple. Educated. Drop Outs. Hookers. Preachers. Engineers. Bus Drivers. Young People. Old People. PEOPLE.

Love all people

I need to paste that on the front door, so I can read it every day.

Well, Ryan and I decided the best way to teach our children to love all kinds of people was to live in an area with ALL kinds of people. I don’t want them to grow in an area with only people just like them. I want them to be around a wide range of people. Merrimack has that. It is a combination of people living in poverty, people in the working class, and a few middle class people sprinkled in (that would be us). I think there are also a few folks that would rather sit on their porch doing nothing and live off the government instead of actually working for a living. I try not to give them dirty looks, but I am not always successful.

Another reason I love Merrimack is that it forces me to count my blessings daily. I seriously cannot drive down my street without realizing I am abundantly blessed. Healthy husband. Family. Jobs. Income. Education. Fur babies. Common sense. Food. My life is good. Really really good. I have done nothing to deserve God’s grace and blessings.

We want to be a part of a positive change in West Huntsville. We aren’t sure exactly how or what that is yet, but there are plenty of needs here.

Poverty. Drugs. Prostitutes. Children with crappy parents. Terrible Schools.  NEEDS! So many needs.

Living in West Huntsville is our calling, and we are here for the long haul.