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 🙂




Priming Party: Success!

Hey strangers! Long time, no talk (type? read? I’m not really sure?). I hope you had a nice weekend. I spent mine in Auburn, Alabama celebrating my childhood friend’s wedding. It was strange to not work on the house for three days straight!

You may remember my priming party announcement from two weeks ago. I can tell you that our priming party on Saturday was a success! We were able to put a coat of primer on over 90% of the dry wall. We owe a big THANK YOU to our family, friends, and neighbors for pitching in. I wasn’t lying when I said my grandpa was coming!


My cousin Tyler also came and pitched in. Tall people are so handy!


Now, award goes to my cousin Liz for longest distance traveled to come help. She came over from the Atlanta area to pitch in!


Poor woman got put on cleaned duty. WARNING – if you offer to help I will accept it, and I cannot promise it will be fun!!!!!

My Mom and Dad also came and pitched in because they are awesome!



Mom is going to love that one! 🙂 Here is a quick tour of the fabulous first floor all primed and pretty. Here we are looking into the living room (future mantle, built-ins, and door into downstairs bedroom).


Here we are looking from the living room towards the front door (future study nook/desk area)


Here we are looking from the living room into the dining room. Primer_diining-room

I know. You’re jealous. My primed drywall is soooo preeeettttttyyyy. I just stare at it. I almost dusted it the other day, but I controlled myself.

Ryan and I spent part of last week starting to patch in bead board around the stairs and the dining room ceiling. That also means I had to break out the steamer and scrape wallpaper again. *Sigh*


I can tell you that scraping wallpaper is MUCH easier on the ground that above your head. Everything is more difficult when you have to do it on a ladder and above your head. Here is a reminder about what our dining room ceiling looks like as of last week.


After a few evenings of working on it, the dining room now has an entire ceiling and kind of looks like a rainbow.



We were even talented enough to put the board back in the correct order, based on the patch of missing paint. I wish I could say we planned that, but it was a happy accident. Now I just have to clean, sand, and prime that sucker. Fun…

Ryan and I are working on prepping and priming bead board and tongue and grove walls for paint this week. I will have more details on that later. That’s one the big things to do before the electricians can come. What are you guys up to this week? Anyone have paint tips for bead board or wood planks? Drywall? Do you have a favorite type of paint?



Home in Progress Updates

Happy Friday guys!

I just wanted to drop a quick note and let you know I have updated our Home in Progress page this week. Most of the “during” photos were taken 3 weeks ago so it has even changed a lot since then! Feel free to check out that page (see link at the top).

Also, here I is a sneak peek of what has been going on this week with drywall!

Ryan and I also spent a little time with wallpaper again. After three months of ignoring the final corner, it is time to finally tackle it!

Hope you all have a great weekend! Peace.






31 Days: Break for progress

Since we are about halfway through the series, I decided to continue with Friday’s theme and take a break (rest) from the series to give you some updates. Guess what? I have more than wallpaper to update you on. Woot woot!!!

Mom and Dad came out last weekend to give us a hand. Ryan put Dad on electrical duty, which consisted of pulling all of the old knob and tube wiring.

Dad even agreed to go under the house and pull the wiring there. Ryan was very excited Dad was willing to go under the house! Some spots of the crawl space are pretty spacious and easy to move around; however, some spots are pretty tiny, like “I am in no way shape or form going under the house unless someone is chasing me with a knife” kind of tiny.  Dad hopped through the hole in the porch creating A LOT of confusion for Bella and Tori.

Bella kept running back and forth between the living room (right above Dad) and the hole in porch. Dad caught on  and decided to ag it on. It was pretty hilarious! Poor confused puppy!

A little while later Dad reappeared from underneath the house looking a little dirty…

Ok, a lot dirty 🙂 Isn’t my Dad awesome?

With Dad on electrical duty, Ryan started working on sistering all of the joists in the kitchen. One joist had a good bit of water damage and the others were, well, OLD. Instead of being stiff and solid, they were more like trampolines.

Can you guess what I was doing?

Yea. Wallpaper. Only this is not like the other wallpaper on the ceiling. The dining room wallpaper came down pretty easy thanks to the steamer. This wallpaper you ask? Um. No. This wallpaper was made by the Devil himself to torment me. My guess is they painted one the of layers of wallpaper so the steam can’t penetrate the bottom two layers. In the time we scraped almost the entire dining room, we had only done an eight of the living room. *Womp womp*

Now, let’s fast forward to this weekend. Operation New Fence began!!

Step 1: Take down the chain-link fencing.

Step 2: Dig up posts.

Ryan and our friend John were able to take down all of the chain link fencing in about three hours. After lunch they started working on the posts. Ryan and John were able to muscle several of them out with just a few tugs. Some, however, required digging, muscle and even a tractor.

By 4 o’clock Saturday, all that was left was a few more posts.

In case you were wondering, the dogs were tied to their dog house and will be staying there during the fence project (except for at night when we take them home with us to the condo).

Please pray we and the dogs can survive without a fence for two weeks!!

While the boys were working on removing the fence, I started working on taking up some of the hardwood flooring in the back living room. We are hoping to re-install this flooring upstairs in one of the small bedrooms and refinish the hardwood underneath.

Well, what I hadn’t planned on doing was removing the small concrete pad in front of the fireplace….

I quickly realized the concrete was actually laying on a small portion of the wood, so when the wood came up, the concrete came up.

I tried to take up a few large pieces by myself, but quickly saw I was only butchering the wood while trying to pull it up by myself. It would have to wait until I had another set of hands…err…crowbar.

Ryan did get wood moved around for me so I could finish scraping the wallpaper in the back living room.

Scraping this was almost blissful after that demon wallpaper!! I was able to finish in about an hour.

I forgot to take a picture of the room COMPLETELY FREE OF WALLPAPER! Oops!

Last update – We got our building permit!

What did you guys do this weekend? Any takers on helping peel demon wallpaper??

Thanks for reading! Regular 31 day series will start back tomorrow! If you have advice to share for the series, I would love to hear it 🙂


Adventures in Wallpaper Removal: The Steamer Method

While hammering out the final things with the bank (PRAISE THE LORD), we have been trucking right along with removing wallpaper. I mentioned using a paint scraper and wallpaper removal spray here,  here and here. It has worked GREAT for areas with just glue and residue left, but it doesn’t even touch the layers upon layers of wallpaper on the ceiling.

Gross. I am sick of looking at the nasty wallpaper on my beloved bead board ceilings. I am pretty passionate about my bead board ceilings. Just ask Ryan. I just love them, and I am SO excited we are able to keep them! Back to scrapping wallpaper…

Like I said, the paint scraper and spray just aren’t cut out to handle multiple layers of wallpaper.

You read that right. FOUR layers of wallpaper ON THE CEILING and those were under ceiling tiles! People are crazy.

I did a little research and decided to take a stab at using a steamer (thanks Wes for the suggestion, too!). My mom was nice enough to let me borrow hers. She did ask that I keep it clean, ha! I just chuckled and said I would try my best to not destroy it 🙂

In order to actually reach the ceiling, I have to put the steamer on top of a ladder. I was really nervous at first the steamer would just topple over gushing bowling water and steam everywhere, but thankfully it held steady. The first thirty minutes it went pretty well. I would run the steamer over a 2 to 3 foot area several times (about 3 or 4), put the steamer on pause, and scrape the wallpaper with a 1″ blade. It definitely helped, but it wasn’t as magical as I had hoped for. I was really hoping the wallpaper would just fall off on its own. A lot of what I read led to me to believe it would just come right off, but I found myself still have to use a lot of force to scrape. It was progress, but not magic.

Then, the steamer started POURING out water from the sides. Picture me on a step stool yelling for Ryan while attempting to turn off and remove a VERY HOT steamer off a ladder to the floor without getting burned by bowling water. Yea. Thankfully Ryan ran in and rescued me from the demon possessed steamer. It was probably pretty funny to watch. You should have been there. We then quickly cleaned up our lovely puddle of hot water.

Not cool steamer. Not cool. I am still not sure what exactly went wrong, but I decided to give the steamer another shot, only this time, Ryan joined in on the fun.

He looks excited, huh?? It turns out that this method of removing wallpaper works a lot better with two people instead of one. Ryan would run the steamer over a two foot(ish) area until it was soaked, and I would come right behind him and scrape it off. It would just peel right off! HALLELUJAH!!

We moved out way around the entire dining room ceiling.

It was our experience that the wallpaper came of a lot easier with two people working (one steamer and one scraper), by HEAVILY soaking a small area, and just being patient. I also encourage wearing gloves because 1) wallpaper is gross and 2) steam is hot. I probably didn’t need to tell you that, but just in case, now you know.

After about four hours of scrapping wallpaper on Saturday, we removed about two-thirds of the wallpaper in the dining room. Can I get a *Woot Woot* for that?

We scrapped until my shoulders cramped. No joke.

Yuck! It is a messy job. Are you in love with my bead board ceilings yet? Ignore the fact they are Army green. They WILL be pretty, I promise! Now we just have the living room left….

Awesome. *Sigh* Hurray for progress though! We got a lot done on Saturday. Ryan even said it was worth scrapping all the wallpaper. Yea!

What did you guys do this weekend? Any work around the house or just enjoying the beautiful fall weather? I love your comments!

Thanks for reading!

Small Victories

There hasn’t been a lot going on at the house this week. With our carpenter being away due to an injury and our work/church/life schedule this week, progress has been pretty minor. We are still chipping away at the smaller, more tedious, but more time-consuming projects like scraping wall paper for example. Oh, the wall paper. Are you ready to start throwing tomatoes at me when I mention wall paper? Can you throw tomatoes in blog land? Hopefully I won’t be finding out anytime soon 🙂

Small victories in wallpaper removal

This picture was actually taken a few weeks ago before the half ton of lumber and new decking was plopped down in the living room.  While I am THRILLED to have two entire walls free of wallpaper, Bella was not as impressed. You cannot impress that girl dog.

I am continuing to use the same wallpaper removal spray I mentioned previously here.

I have even moved on to scrapping the ceilings!! If you think scrapping wall paper on the walls is fun, you should try scrapping it above your head. Whole new level of fun!!! Advice: wear goggles because it sucks to dig it out of your eye….not that I would know about that…totally all Ryan…cough cough….

Look at that beautiful bead board!! Now imagine it clean and painted a crisp white. Sigh. One day it will look like this….

House of Smiths blog

Ten June blog

One day. Until then, I will just keep scraping wallpaper gunk.

Right now, I have about 65% of the living room ceiling done. I have been having to make my way around the giant pile of wood and decking in the middle of the floor. Remember when I posted this picture?

While the pile of stuff has gotten smaller, it is still pretty darn large and this girl is not moving all that decking just to scrape wall paper. I have plenty of other stuff to do until the decking is where it should be: on our porches!

My life has not only revolved around scrapping wall paper. We just keep-on-keepin’ on with scraping vinyl as well. All of the living room vinyl is up, and we have made our way into the dining room. Can I get a woop woop?!

Just like the living room, there is a large pile of wood laying in the floor. Vinyl scraping is officially “DONE” for now. Or until that pile of wood moves. Mentally, it is a small victory for the Saffells.

Saffells:1 Vinyl: 0

If you ever find yourself in a vinyl scraping situation (I pray you don’t, but it happens), I find cutting the vinyl into strips about 10-12″ wide and 16-18″ deep with a box cutter or all-purpose knife helpful. It gives you an edge to work to, and I think it speeds up the process. I am able to pull up much larger sections when I cut into smaller portions. I have been using a 2″ and 6″ putty knife. For vinyl that is really ornery – if you can call vinyl ornery – I use the 2″, but for sections where the vinyl is more forgiving and a little looser, I use the 6″.

We have also made small progress with the bank. We have another appraiser coming out next week. HOPEFULLY this is the last step to getting our greedy little hands on the construction loan. Hopefully is key! I am almost to the point where I am going to introduce myself as, “Hi, my name is Brittney, and I hate banks.” We did find out that the first appraisal was much lower than what we want and need, like make me cry for days kind of low. Fingers crossed the next will be better!

Do you guys have any plans for the long weekend? I see some wall paper scraping and Alabama football in my future! 🙂 Have a great weekend!

Adventures in wall paper removal: take 2

The other day I mentioned my new wallpaper assistant, the paint scraper. Well, I decided that while it did the job of actually scrapping of the left over wallpaper residue (all that grey stuff left on the walls), it could use a little help to speed up the process. Do I need to remind you how much wallpaper I have left to scrape?

Um, yea. Consider yourself reminded. Now, let’s meet my new BFF.

Wallpaper removal spray

I picked this up at Lowe’s, just to see if it would actually work. I have read about using warm water & fabric softener, as well as using a steamer to speed up the wallpaper removal process, but I decided to give this product a go. It was only about $6, so if it didn’t work it wasn’t the end of the world. Also, it has a picture of a piranha on it. I mean, it has to be serious business about wallpaper removing, right? Piranha’s are fierce!

I followed the product directions (I am that person who reads AND follows directions) and sprayed it heavily on the area I planned to scrape. Then, I waited 15 minutes to let the spray work its magic. I set my timer and moved on to something more fun, like peeling up vinyl flooring and carrying stuff to the dumpster. That’s how I roll.

Once the fifteen minutes were up, I went back to the soaked wallpaper area and started scrapping. You guy. It came off like BUTTER! It just melted off the walls. IT. WAS. AWESOME!! I actually got REALLY excited about scrapping wallpaper. I was so excited I made Ryan come watch me scrape gunk off.  He was even impressed.

I am going to go scrape wallpaper now because I love watching it just fall off the walls. Ok, I am not going right this second, because I am watching the Olympics, but I will continue working on it this week. I will be sure to post progress. I will also be back with progress from last Saturday. We were already in the running for worst yard of the month, but we sealed the deal on Saturday.

I do plan on trying a different attack method for the wallpaper on the ceilings next week. I am going to try using a steamer on the ceiling, since there is still multiple layers of wallpaper on the ceiling, and not just bits of residue. Thank you Wes for recommending that the other day! Has anyone tried the steamer method? How did it work for you? Any other tips? I would love to hear!

On another note, who is glued to the TV watching the Olympics? Dude. These athletes are CRAZY strong. All of them amaze me, just like they do every year. It never gets old! I think some of them are secretly aliens because they are way too athletic. It’s just not natural. Anyways, have a good rest of the week and enjoy the olympics!! GO USA!