Category Archives: DIY

What Not to Do


This is what not to do when cutting drywall…

This might be a little shocking but, cutting with a razor can be dangerous-especially when you aren’t following your teaching.  As you can see my one finger is bandaged pretty well and the other with a band-aid.  What you can’t see is a tiiiiny cut on my palm as well.


Dad: “You must have liked it so much you kept doin’ it.  Jeez girl.”

Mom: “Oh, John, she’s a bleeder.  She’s a bleeder.”

Dad: “If it doesn’t stop we have to go to urgent care…”

Mom: “She doesn’t like doctors… They won’t stitch it, they won’t stitch it…”


After fifteen minutes they stopped the bleeding, threw triple antibiotic cream on it and a band-aid.

So here are some truly helpful tips for putting up drywall:

1. Don’t push too hard with the razor blade.  On the edges it can loose control.
2. You never need to cut all the way through the drywall, it snaps when cut halfway through.
3. Always measure your piece on and try to patch it together, make fits as close as you can but have some patching putty nearby.

Hopefully this will follow by a real drywall post.  Unfortunately I was out of the DIY business this weekend!


PS: the new nickname from the family is Slice… Oh Lord.


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Holy Cow, a Bathroom!

Hello everyone!

It has been a very busy week.  I am steamrolling through some lesson plans, cleaning the house, spending time with loved ones, and really catching up on my photography.  I feel the crunch as the end of summer is coming so I am soaking up all that I can.

However, that hasn’t stopped me from finishing the bathroom.  You heard it, the bathroom is finished with only a few very minor aches and pains to finish up.  Check it out!

Check out the major difference!

The original picture is not the original bathroom.  The tile was not there, it was a blue carpet dingy mess.  It was caked with dog urine and years of dust.  The board around the tub wasn’t there either.  It was a white outdated seashell print.  The window was a rolled out window, large and boxed that made the space seem much smaller.

We added the tile, put up a new curtain, finished the trim and added….

Drum roll please…

A brand new mirror, a brand new sink with cabinetry, and a brand new light fixture.

The fixture was purchased at a discounted price of $35 dollars.  Always check at Lowe’s or your local hardware store at the clearance and marked down items.  I will take a picture with the lights off so that you can see the fixture better.  It is a beautiful and nice touch to the room.

The mirror was also purchased at a discount price and adds some real country and beach charm to the small bathroom.

The red colors of the bathroom really bring out the youth the house can have.  Some of you might notice that these come from Wal-Mart.  You’d be correct. I don’t believe in buying designer furnishings when a perfectly amazing look can come from discounted items.  If you have the money to spend, go for it.  I don’t! Ha!

With the trim complete, and the bathroom finished we can move onto our other agendas!  However, here is some advice on finishing up a room with caulk and trim.

When working with caulk to finishing corners and edgings use a caulk scraper.  We got ours at Lowe’s for around $2.  It is a rubber cornered shape tool that fits into any groove and removes excess caulk from the walls and trim.  Use it directly after you caulk a piece so that the caulk doesn’t dry.  If that happens you’ll have some serious fixing on your end.

As always, look at the Flickr to the left there for more pictures and stories.  Dad finally uses directions, I change a door handle, and mom cleans up some drywall while cursing over spilled beer!

See you next time!

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Where Have You Been?

So we all know that things get a little crazy around the holidays.  The Fay house is of no exception.  This Independence Day weekend we accomplished little but preparing for a party.  Sometimes, that is all you need.  The last few weeks have been great with the project.  The family loves the idea of the blog and we all look forward to snapping some candid photos during our projects.

I hope that you took time out of this weekend to put down the tool belt and hang out with your family, friends,  neighbor, whatever! This weekend taught me that sometimes you have to kick back and have a little fun.  You can work and play.

This weekend expect a blog on how to strip a door for an all new look, and some boating pictures because who has two thumbs and got their family boat most likely, hopefully, maybe, working? This girl!

So enjoy some family time now and again.  Have fun and get DIYing!

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Somebody Call Jim Morrison back…

We’re fixing a door frame, getting a new door, and trying to recover an old door.

The back door, if you recall from previous pictures, needs a little help.  The door is still good but the frame has shifted and the door likes to stick when it closes.  This weekend was a quick fix dampened by rain and obstacles.

We removed the door from the frame and found a mess waiting for us beneath the door and the linoleum tile.  The floorboard wasn’t protected correctly by the metal frame that is supposed to support proper drainage.  Years of allowing this to go free has caused a ton of molding and rotten wood. Yikes!

To the right in this picture you can see where we cut the frame to remove the molded damage and the floor in front of my legs is completely rotten.  This project wasn’t looking to promising or helpful.

Venting aggression we began ripping out floorboards and tearing through the messy pieces that refused to come up.

Here I am using a Dremel to cut out the rotten wood.  If you haven’t heard of a “Dremel” I would check outthe “Dremel” website. It is a handheld rotary tool that serves many purposes; cutting through metal, small pieces of wood, rotten boards, sanding, drywall, etc.  This tool has saved our life in this project and many others.  Whether you’re doing a complete restoration or you need a handy cutting tool for crafting, this is the tool for you! The website is stocked with plenty of project ideas such as: decorative, practical, wood working, lawn and garden, etc.  Definitely check it out! (I LOVE this tool!)

When we cut out the rotten wood we all noticed that the condition of the frame wasn’t as bad as we thought.  With thunder rumbling overhead we need to hurry and wrap up our project.

The floor is uneven and without a baseboard.  To make our job easier we need to make the floor level.  We measured our gap width and height and cut a board to fit the gap between the deck and the mudroom.  We had to shim the left and right side where we cut out the rot and then nailed it down.

Shims are useful for any project and it is always great to have them around.  When putting in windows, doors, or leveling any project you need shims to bring your project to perfect level.  When putting in a door or a window you also want to make sure that the frame you are working with is level (horizontal evenness) and plum (vertical evenness).  If it isn’t level you’re going to run into a nightmare!

With the floor level and the sides plum we packed up for the day and avoided the rain!

Check back later this week on how learn how to strip a door and bring a whole new look to your room!

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Windows, Bee Stings, Rickety Roofs, Oh My!

Saturday was a busy day!  There was a lot accomplished all thanks to last week’s tip: prepare!

Dad started early on the window in the library and busted it out completely.  Demolition removed the old board that was used to seal it up.  Dad and I then squared up the window opening, measuring the height and the width so that it was an inch or so wider than the window itself.  The reason for this is to make a seal with caulk and trim later.

The windows we purchased need to be installed from the outside in and therefore the screws need to go on the outside.  There are a few problems with accessing this part of the house:

*junk takes up room for a ladder
*there is a huge gap from the deck to the top of the storage unit below the window
*we aren’t exactly sure how old the storage unit is so it might collapse

Before heading out of doors to screw in this window dad gathers everything he needs.  He uses an electric drill so he needs a power cord.  We get it set up on the roof as well as the drill.  We also set out our screws so that he has easy access to as many as he needs.  You don’t want to be fumbling around for screws and be short if you drop a few.

With no other options we find an extendable ladder and dad climbs it.

Mom and I are freaking out but dad is confident.

Safety Tips by Dad:

*Don’t wear work boots on the roof.  You want a shoe that has grip on the bottom such     as a tennis shoe.  This allows the shoe to grip the roofing.
*When stepping on a roof you aren’t sure of, check to see what is beneath it.  Like working in old attics you want to find where the support beams are and step on them
*If you can sit down- do it.  You can be sturdier on your hind-end.

If you have to work on a roof then check other ideas online.   Some places suggest wearing a harness if you are going to be on a roof.  We are lucky to have only a few feet between us and the ground so a harness isn’t necessary. (Thank God!)

With dad safely back inside we can marvel at our work.  Nice job!

The rest of the day went smoothly and without any death defying acts on the roof.  Dad finished up the plumbing.   Unfortunately I can’t tell you much about plumbing because, “plumbing’s a bitch” as my dad says.

I do know that if you are doing plumbing it is important to know what type of pipe you are working with.  Plumbing cements are specified for specific types of pipe.  There is PVC and CPVC and not to mention the different metal piping.  Always check your cement and read carefully what pipe it supports.

Always prime the pip with purple primer before you glue them together.  Why is it purple?  You always prime a hefty amount so that you can see the primer before you attach the pipe.  This way you always know which joints you have primed.  Priming removes the gloss coating on pipes allowing the cement to adhere to other pipes.

With the plumbing all wrapped up we were able to put in the kitchen windows.  Ready for a step by step window replacement guide?  The way we inserted our windows is a little different than other guides tell you.  We Fay’s tend to throw away the instruction manual rather than read it.  This way we gain memories and curse words in the end.  A good guide I found is here at “Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls”

In all actuality this is how we insert our windows, just with some necessary variations!  Replacing a window is not a difficult process and it can definitely save some money when trying to redo an older house.  The insulation alone is worth it in the end!

The whole family pitched in for this project and replacing four windows in a small kitchen you’ll need a hand!  Unlucky enough Jay gets a bee sting, the dogs beg to be let in the crowded home, and we finish the day with hot water and three brand new windows!

Check out the change!

















We finally figured out a helpful solution to missing tools.  If you leave  your tools around and spend 70% of your project looking for them, grab a tool belt!  It was such a success that the whole family ran

around shouting “TOOBELT!” (Yes, the ‘L’ is missing because that is how we pronounced it) when we needed something from the toolbelt.  I absolutely love the tool belt and will continue to wear it throughout all my projects.

Toolbelt necessities:

Hammer, flat-head screwdriver, philips head screwdriver, small level, tape measure, channel lock pliers, and a pencil.

As always, head over to the Flickr account on the left to see more of what we did that day! Get extra tips and stories from the Fay house!

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Plans, Planning, Planned

The going has been a bit slow on the renovations.  Have you ever made plans, and I mean really good plans?  These are the kind of plans that seem fool proof and so full of hope that they can’ help but come true?  Well, my family and I made those plans and life gets in the way! My parents took a business trip out to the coast to see family friends and retrieve our boat from the shop.  The poor thing hasn’t seen water action, without a break, in a year or so.  It hasn’t been in the lake in over four…  Well, the boat comes back without being fixed and a tire blows.

On the freeway, cars buzzing all around and just trying to get to Raleigh, North Carolina they have to shovel out surprise money to get it.

After a small rumble from my emotionally charged life my mother and boyfriend, Stephen, have helped me to get back on track!

So, in a fit of being productive we worked on the one thing I will make the theme of this blog. Whether it’s renovation, life, or a job always, always, always

Prep Your Space and Plans

My dad spends a lot of his time asking for tools and fumbling for the right wrench to get the job done.  Twenty five percent of our time spent “renovating” is digging to find the right tool.  Give yourself a break and organize.

Mom and I spent our time cleaning out the old dining room that will be a library. Take a look:

This is the library before.  As you can see there is a ton of furniture, a bed, windows, a microwave a lot of junk.  The house is in the shape of a circle and this is the next space to tackle and get the window in.  The carpet has been “abused” by the dogs, if you know what I mean, so there is a dingy smell all about it. I wasn’t sure how much space and how much hope could be pumped into the room.





Check out the difference! With the help of my brother, John, and my sister-in-law,  Chrissy, we moved the china cabinet on the right.

Mom and I moved the rest of the furniture out, gave plenty of boxes to our local Care Net and then removed the dingy carpet.  The floor beneath is rough and in need of some patching.  However, the smell was removed by pouring a healthy amount of bleach on the floor and using the easily accessed door for ventilation.

Now we all have room to move around in the house and tackle this room.

If you’re removing old carpet it may leave behind some residue.  Many carpets come with foam padding and any exposure to a wet climate, spills, and pet messes can cause a problem over time.  The padding can eventually stick to the floor.  If you’re pulling out carpet to give your home a new look and run into this problem, do yourself a favor and get this tool:

   This is a basic floor scraper.  You can pick this up at your local hardware store for about $10-$15.  The blade allows you to pull up the foam that is stuck to the floor without  harming any flooring that is beneath.

So, be excited to find the hardwood that might be lurking beneath your sixties shag rug!




Today’s lesson is: prepare your space.  If you are going to be renovating for a long time and are able to “set up shop” then do so with organization.  Know where your tools are and have them easily accessible.  We used an old shelf to organize all our tools and we cleaned up the rooms we will be working in tomorrow.

As always, thanks for reading.  Look for results of tomorrow’s project as well as how to strip a door with very little hassle.

Do you have any DIY questions, concerns?  What about ideas?  Do you have an idea for our renovation project?


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Inspiration Piece

The struggle of nearly every college age student is finding a place to live after they leave their comfortable dorm with their pockets full of IOU slips for their university.  They need a place that is somewhat safe, very affordable, and with a good location.  Some are lucky to leave college and stand on their own two feet immediately.  Some are lucky to have family to rely on for a place to stay.

I am lucky in a different way.  I have my family for the stability but they’ve given me much more than a dingy basement to inhabit and dress over as a swingin’ college pad.  I am moving into my semester of student teaching.  This means that I still belong to my University and I pay to go to school- however, I am not learning from other teachers anymore.  I am doing the teaching and for no pay.  I get a diploma, a pat on the back, and a teaching certificate if all goes well.

With this future ahead of my I need a place that is comfortable, functional, and roomy.  I need a place that screams my potential but allows me to be close to home.  This is where our story begins.

Late last year my grandmother passed away.  She lived in the oldest part of  the house ever since I was little.  However, the unique thing about Nana is the house did not define her.  What is in there isn’t who she was and even though I still feel her when I go over there, it isn’t as “creepy” as some of you might think.  It is comforting to know that this is what she would want.  She’d never let dad, mom, or anyone else over there to mess with the house or do any remodeling.  Now she would want to give back.  So, thank you Nana for this opportunity.

In honor of her, I have kept a few trinkets that trigger some fond memories and I will be showcasing them in the house.


The house I have taken on is, as I said, the oldest part of the house.  80 years old.  Four rooms that make a circle, a bathroom, and a mud room make up this very small part.  It is the original part of our large house.  I’ll take pictures to put it into perspective.


My goal is to completely renovate the house and give it a fresh and new look that is functional, safe, and affordable.  I cannot do this without the help of my loving parents and anyone else who breaks a sweat cutting boards, landscaping some lawn, and tiling some floors.


What should you expect reading this blog? Expect to get some fun and affordable do it yourself tips, hints, and tricks.  Expect to be entertained, upset, and bored.  I am going to document every step of the way.


Wish me luck!

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