New House Goals: One Year Update

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Okay, so it’s been about 13 months since we moved into our new Georgia home. Yeah yeah, I know, it’s not technically “new” anymore, but it still feels new to me! Back in May 2020, I wrote a post outlining our short-term goals for the house. That list has kept me busier than a one-legged man at an ass-kicking contest, and I’m still working to complete it. Feel free to read all about it, and then follow up with my post from December about our goals for 2021 – because why have one list of goals, when you can have two lists of goals, right?

Of course a long and unfinished to-do list (or lists) never stopped my babes from finding even more projects, so now I have a third project list.

Soon I’ll need a glass display case to hold all my project lists!

Today, let’s dive a little deeper into the December list, and then I’ll talk about the newest projects.

And I’m sure that by the time I’m done writing this post, Handan will have dreamed up another one to tag onto my latest list.

As long as it’s not an entire fourth list, I can handle another project…or two.

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So here’s the list from January:

Goals for 2021

  • Stain the staircase posts and handrails (completed April 2021)
  • Paint foyer walls and trim (completed April 2021)
  • Paint living room walls and trim (completed April 2021)
  • Paint living room built-ins
  • Change living room fan
  • Change foyer chandelier
  • Baris’s room-related projects (in progress)
  • Laundry room remodel (completed February 2021)
  • Build small raised vegetable garden beds in the back yard
  • Build a TV stand for living room (we ended up buying one instead)
  • Build a coffee table for living room
  • Build a bookcase for living room
  • Garage organization – now changed to a makeover
  • Replace old hose bibs (completed)
  • Finish front yard landscaping
  • Build stairs down side yard slope (in progress)
  • Guest bedroom makeover – postponed to next year
  • Master closet makeover (in progress)
  • Tame and organize the basement
  • Properly set up and organize basement workshop
  • Get the house ready for Christmas!

Stain the staircase posts and handrails (completed April 2021)

First on the list (and the biggest thorn in my side) was the staircase makeover.

Staircase Makeover -

I’ve disliked many many projects over the years, but this one ranks up near the top in terms of displeasure and procrastination. My procrastination on and dislike for a project is directly proportional to the amount of bending, kneeling, squatting and butt-shuffling required to complete the task.

And this staircase makeover was a bending, squatting, butt-shuffling nightmare from beginning to end!

But as I think I mentioned in the post, the smile on Handan’s face each time she walks by makes all the joint-popping agony worthwhile!

Paint foyer walls and trim & Paint living room walls and trim (completed April 2021)

The next two items on the list – painting the foyer and living room walls and trim – were part and parcel of the staircase makeover. I couldn’t very well finish one without the other two or the pictures would have looked horrendous with those icky green/gray walls and the white patches of repaired drywall!

By the way, how do you pronounce “foyer?”

How do you pronounce "foyer?"

Paint living room built-ins

I haven’t yet finished painting the living room built-in shelves. It was one the first projects I started after moving in, but I just haven’t gotten around to finishing it.

In the December post, I bravely declared that I’d be finishing the task in January. *Ahem* that statement didn’t age well!

Change living room fan & foyer chandelier

Next on the list are changing the living room ceiling fan and the foyer chandelier.

I’m totally ready and up for doing both of those – we even have the fan sitting in a box in the basement – but Handan needs to order a super-long downrod before I can begin. Those two projects will require assembling our scaffolding – no small feat – which is why I want all my ducks in a row before I climb up 20 feet to the ceiling.

We never showed you much of Baris’s room this past year, but we did do a ton of work in there. Our most recent improvement in The Boy’s room (and what kicked us into gear for our master closet makeover) was his bedroom closet mini-makeover.

small closet

Laundry room remodel (completed February 2021)

If you haven’t done so already, you can read about that adventure here.

Laundry Room Remodel Reveal -

Build small raised vegetable garden beds in the back yard

You know, I really thought that by now, I’d be in my back yard watering some tomatoes and peppers in my new raised garden beds. I even bought the materials! Alas, that particular project had to be put on hold because another bigger one needs to happen first. You’ll read about that in the new goals for 2021 section.

Build a TV stand for living room

When it comes to our bigger projects, sometimes I get lucky – and by that I mean, sometimes I get out of having to do them at all! Such was the case with the TV console I was planning to build in the living room. Here’s how it all went down.

Back in 2013, we bought a sofa and two chairs from Macy’s for our old house. In addition to the towering cost of the furniture, we forked over an additional $438 for some ridiculously comprehensive care and insurance plan. Something along the lines of if we ever stained it, they’d send over a squad of cleaning men in tuxedos to gently remove the stain while soothing the family with violin concertos and operatic arias.

Normally I’d balk at such squandering, but this plan had an appealing kicker: if after seven years, we never made a claim, we’d get the full $438 back in the form of a Macy’s gift certificate (only valid in the mattress and furniture departments).

Now, I’m not what you’d call an organized guy. Not by a country mile. But somehow, through two moves, I managed to hang onto all the relevant paperwork and wait out those seven years with nary a claim. I had the date marked in Google calendar for years, and this past November, I finally claimed my certificate.

With that $438, Handan decided to let me off the hook of building a TV stand and instead, she found one on Macy’s website. It wasn’t the greatest thing on earth, but, hey, it was nearly free (we had to kick in a little more). Now, as I mentioned before, the gift certificate only worked with Macy’s, thus the limited selection and the little bit of “settling” we did. But we were happy enough with our choice, so we sat back and waited for our new TV console. Because of Covid, things were a little backordered at Macy’s. Though we ordered the unit in late February, our delivery date wasn’t expected until late March.

Whatever. We could wait.

Since they couldn’t charge us until they had delivered the unit, and since my certificate was expiring two days from our order date, the woman we spoke with on the phone decided to post the $438 as a credit on our Visa! When our piece was delivered, Macy’s would then deduct the full price from the same card.

But it never came. Instead, I got email after email pushing back our delivery date until finally, we said enough!

I was able to cancel the order. Our card was never charged. But it was credited with $438!

We took my hard-earned money and spent it at Wayfair on a TV  console we both absolutely love.

Build a coffee table for living room

To go with our new TV console, I’m planning to build a coffee table one of these days. I already have 4 beautiful turned legs – I just need to clear up some time to build the rest. Hopefully by the time I start, wood prices will have started to fall!

Build a bookcase for living room

As for the bookshelf Handan wanted me to build next to the TV stand, I again lucked out. Instead of building a new one, we repurposed an old one.

DIY Indian Bone Inlay Living Room Cabinet -

I really really love it when that happens! 🙂

Garage organization

This one got a big upgrade. More on that in a bit.

Replace hose bibs

Did that and wrote a tutorial about it here!

how to replace a hose bib -

Finish front yard landscaping

This will be done this summer. We’ve got a bunch of stuff to stick in the ground…we’re just scrambling for time to do it. We’ll have a front yard reveal for you sometime this summer!

Build stairs down side yard slope

Let’s call this one a “work-in-progress.” More on it in a bit.

Guest bedroom makeover

We have to postpone this one to next year due to one of the projects added to the new list!

Master closet makeover

In progress and almost finished! You’ll be reading about this one real soon!

Tame and organize the basement


Properly set up and organize basement workshop

I’ll be gettin’ right on that…just after I tame and organize the basement.

Get the house ready for Christmas!

Jeezum Crow, it’s only June! I’ll need a little time for this one!


Okay, now let’s a have a little yap about the new projects on the list.

New Goals for 2021

  • Build a retaining wall in the back yard
  • Side yard stairs stonework
  • Side yard stairs landscaping
  • Garage makeover

Build a retaining wall in the back yard

This is the project that has delayed my veggie beds and postponed our guest room makeover. But it’s also the project that is going to give us more usable back yard and allow some really big improvements in the coming years! I’ll be posting about this one soon, so stay tuned!

Side yard stairs stonework and landscaping

Okay, so technically the stairs are done. We hired our landscaper to build them…and build them, he did. I’d give the retaining wall and stairs a barely passing grade. They’re crooked and he left too much dirt next to the house, but yeah, they’re built.

Handan and I are currently in the process of landscaping the area next to the stairs that has been retained. We had to do a little more retaining wall work ourselves, as the landscaper didn’t do an adequate job.

Now, as for the stonework….ugh. We paid an extra chunk of money to have him lay some simple square stepping stones, and boy did he botch the job! It became apparent far too late in the game that he was not up for the job. At first glance, you may not see the problem.

But look closer (or see them in person) and you’ll notice that the stairs are all wavy-gravy. And for some bizarre reason he laid the stones from left to right, with no space between the blocks! So not only is there an ugly gap on the right edge of the stairs (when looking up as in the picture above), but there’s no room between the blocks to put polymeric sand. All this results in an ugly, uneven staircase with wobbly blocks. Here’s a better view:

He got his money, but unfortunately he got his pink slip too. He had done a few projects for us, and until then, we were able to overlook the flaws in his work. But the stairs were the last straw.

There was no point trying to get him back to fix the job. As usual, there’s only one sure-fire way to make them right: me.

I’ve already started the job, but it’ll likely take me all summer, as each stair box takes me about a day to fix, and I have to shoehorn this repair project into all my other regularly-scheduled work.

I’ll have a couple of posts dedicated to these stairs and the landscaping around them, but here’s a little preview of how to properly lay stair stones.

I’ve proven the old adage time and time again: if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself! Oh, and this stonework requires a whole lotta crawling around on my knees, so you can imagine how much I’m enjoying it!

Garage makeover

Yep, what started as an organization project has ballooned into a full-blown makeover as Handan just keeps coming up with more and more really cool ideas. We never got around to making over our old garage, so my babes has been champing at the bit to get started on this one! We’ll have the plan for you next week – I think you’re going to love it! Here’s the “before.”

Stay tuned for more! There are great things to come!

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  1. You are in Georgia now. Planting time and yard work are done in spring and fall when it’s a “little” cooler

  2. I am looking forward to your new goals and projects. I have been meaning to post a comment about your adventures page. I read through your families’ adventures and can’t tell you how much I enjoyed it. It was fun getting to know you all a bit better even if it is through an electronic device. Wishing you all the very best.

  3. Welcome to my world of “I don’t care, where’s my check?” when it comes to contractors. My husband & I have had more than our share of shoddy workmanship from “professionals”. Although we are retired and struggle with some projects, we have learned to save money and just do it ourselves from the start rather than pay someone and then tear it out and do it over. I too, would have trouble accepting those stairs. Every time I looked at them, I would try to straighten them in my mind. Good luck and can’t wait to see them after you are finished.

  4. We’ve been in “that boa,” too….ugh…drowning… The landscaping fiasco…. We are finally just getting everything pulled out, redone…ourselves…and we are pleased…with ourselves. Evidently, lots of others appreciate the improvement as we get a lot of attention from boatloads of boats going by and s l o w i n g way down to lookieloo. You CAN DO it…again, steps at our daughter’s…lots of late nights with lights… It’s what we do…hah! YOU CAN DO THIS!! franki

  5. Good luck. Cannot wait to see the results. Finally getting around to reading some of your posts, and I love every minute of it.