We have Basement Floors!

Overall Memorial Day weekend we finally installed the floor in our basement.  If you’ve been around for a while, you know that this basement remodel took a bit more time than we initially attended. We finally have the walls done with planking we painted white (I owe you an update), molding around all the doors and windows, a painted ceiling AND crown molding (thanks Jim-the-contractor!), so the floors were really the last thing we had to do.


We used the TrafficMaster Allure Hickory Resilient Vinyl Plank Flooring (describe on the box as “The Easiest Floor Ever!”). They have no idea who we are – we did some research about what floor we could install over the glue we couldn’t get off the cement, and found this. We special ordered it from Home Depot about a year ago and we have to agree that this floor was pretty darn easy! And affordable, which really counted in it’s favor for us. Look at us NOT overcapitalizing our house. 🙂

Overall, it took about 8 hours total to install our about 350 square feet of flooring.  The longest part was figuring out how to start (since NONE of our walls are square) and cutting the final little pieces around the doorways. Once we got into a rhythm the floor was definitely ridiculously easy to install!New Floor - Beginnings

Here we were about 30 minutes in (once we started laying the floors).

New Floor - 30 minutes in

And after about 60 minutes of putting planks down.

New Floor - 60 minutes in

This is where we found our rythm, so another 30 minutes allowed us to do pretty much the rest of the main room.

New Floor - 90 minutes inAt this point we took a break to have a late lunch with friends (this was about 4 hours in).  We found that working really hard in the morning and then doing something fun in the afternoon makes us happier and more likely to be productive on Sunday. This night, we came back from lunch, lounged around for a few hours, and then worked from 7 to 11 pm.

The final long stretch along our back wall took a while as each plank had to be cut in a different width, and one even had to be cut at an angle! Getting halfway down the hallway took about 2 more hours.  Here we are! The end is in sight.

New Floor - Finish Line Is In Sight

We made the turn and got most of the planks into the landing area. We realized we were going to have to make some complex cuts to finish the floor. Luckily we had to presence of mind to realize we were too tired to make these accurately, so we went to bed and saved the finishing touches for Sunday.

New Floor - Done for the night

It took a lot of patience (and a little bit of cussing) to finalize the last 2 rows of planks, but it was worth it! The floor looks awesome.


We are so excited about the basement! And so is Penelope, even though the whole thing is like a giant slip and slide for her! We obviously still need baseboards, but the furniture is down there & it’s a functional space. I’m hoping we’ll get some art on the walls this weekend. I also need to order blinds ASAP so we can use the space as a guest room later this month.

Have you gotten any major projects checked off your “Get it done in 2015” list?

PS. Sharing at Show and Tell and Tutorials & Tips


A Usable Backyard (Finally!)

Bet you didn’t expect to hear anything from me any time soon! It’s been so quiet here at This Sarah Loves.  Luckily, that doesn’t mean that we haven’t been doing anything around the house – in fact I’m really far behind in updating you on all the happenings around here. Today I want to show off how great our backyard looks.  After 18 months of barely using our backyard, we have a gorgeous, fenced in, yard!

Backyard - BeforeBackyard After

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Little Update: Leash Hooks

We (like most of you) make regular little updates around the house. Sometimes I feel like we’re not making enough progress on the big things, so every few weeks I plan on sharing some of the little updates that make our lives easier. Hopefully it will both serve to inspire you to get the little things done AND serve as a record of what we did manage to get do around the house.


Last weekend I added these hooks be hind the front door. We had some command hooks in the coat closet for Penny’s leashes / harnesses / jackets, but it was a pain to always shove our heads in there to get them out.

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Hairpin Leg Coffee Table

Finally, a post that’s NOT about sewing! Aren’t you excited?! Ever since we assembled the Karlstad, we knew we needed a new coffee table. A couple of weeks ago we sold the coffee table on Craigslist to give us the kick in the pants we needed to figure it out. And here she is!

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Living Room Cushions Get a Facelift

It took me a while, okay, FOREVER, to get around to sewing these cushion covers. I got the fabric in September, told you about them in December, and finally sewed the pillow covers in March.  Good thing I still liked the fabric by then!

Here they are all lined up (including the world’s most adorable little photo bomber) so you can see the colors together.  I love the toned down shades with the grey couch.SONY DSC


Part of what took so long is that I wanted to replace the actual pillow inserts as well. When I last updated our scatter cushions, I bought  the down inserts from Ikea – at around $5 each they were a great price. However, I got to a stage where I felt that if I found one more feather in my hair after a nap on the couch, I was going to lose it.  The pillow forms also did not hold their shape well and looked a little lost on the bigger Karlstad.


I found some high quality down alternative pillows from JoAnns but they are expensive without a coupon, and our JoAnns is far away.  So I did a little more research and found that the ones from Crate and Barrel are comparable in price (even without a coupon) and rated well. I also had a 15% off coupon, so I headed to the store and grabbed 5 down alternative inserts.  So far I LOVE the quality.

I also upgraded to the 23″ square size (up from the 20″ size we had from Ikea before). These pillows behave like down-filled ones, but without the allergens (or feathers in your hair!). I think the bigger size matches the scale of the couch better and looks a little more luxurious!


Oh and a little poodle named Penelope approve too. Good thing these covers are removable and washable!



Did you check off any projects on your to-do list this weekend? I also hemmed the living room curtains (finally) and sold our coffee table on Craigslist.

Sarah Signature

Office Progress: Closet Make-over Details

The teeny-tiny closet in our home office got a big make-over! We switched to a curtain instead of the hideous 1980s metal bifold doors. We also built in some shelves to storage our luggage, and a hanging bar for guest coats / closet overflow.


The bi-fold doors in this room are the worst we have in this house. They even came with stickers! So we ripped them & the top track out. At least that part was easy!

Office Closet - Closet Doors Before SONY DSC

Let’s pause to appreciate the hideousness that was this closet. Go ahead – I’ll wait for you to pin this beauty…


No, you are not imaging things. There is pink AND yellow in the closet. Oh and nice black marks from the closet doors too. Nobody ever painted the baseboards in there after the first coat of paint, so they’re a lovely shade of beige. When I tried to vacuum the carpet in there, I realized the whole thing was loose, so we yanked it out & plan to replace it with some inexpensive peel and stick tiles.


After we painted the closet, we installed an extendable closet rod. We first installed one in our guest room rental back in our apartment, and this is the third one in this house. We love how easy it is to install & it holds a ton of stuff. We also installed a pine shelf (1×2 for supports (screwed into the studs) and 1×8 for the shelves). We installed this at a lower-than-normal height to ensure that we could put our luggage away in this closet. Don’t worry! We made sure that even knee-length dresses still fit.

We used exactly the same closet rod to hang the curtain at the top of the closet. It works really well with the tab-top curtain.


Look how much it holds! All of our luggage, some extra guest jackets, plus extra blankets, bedding, air mattress, and some overflow clothes!The curtain is an old Ikea curtain. We may change this out for something else at some point, but for now it works well and cost $0.


And one last look at the new closet:


Sarah Signature

Get it done in 2015!

With the new year comes new resolutions. This year, I have a few things on my “get it done!” list. I tried to keep the list reasonable. I work a lot of hours every week, and I need to spend some time on weekends to recharge as well. We did well in 2014 when we took on one reasonable task per month. We hit a bit of a wall when it came to updating the basement  – first with the wallpaper and then with the sheet vinyl on the floors. So the plan is to take on 10 projects this year – each of which can be reasonably completed within 1 month, with 2 months of flexibility for surprise projects and/or unforeseen circumstances that cause projects to run over.

So here’s our list for 2015

To Do in 2015


The list isn’t in any particular order! Here’s the details:

  1. Finish the Basement
    • We need to finish painting the walls and the trim we’ve already installed. Then lay the floors, add some baseboards, and paint those baseboards. Once all of that is done, we can move in the furniture and start using the space. We’ll need to add some window coverings, art, and look into storage options.Basement Progress - Support Post Bumpout - #thissarahloves
  2. Install a Basement Desk
    • One of the biggest storage needs in the basement is having a work space. We plan on installing a desk using kitchen cabinets, counter-top material (probably butcher block), and adding open storage shelves overhead. We’ll need some cute storage solutions and some counter-height bar stools to finish it up.
  3. Paint and Organize the Study
    • Our third bedroom is an embarrassing mess. We plan on moving a fair amount of things into the basement when that’s done, but we want the room to be functional and not just a storage space. So we plan on painting the walls and trim, hanging some curtains, upgrading the closet, adding a closet curtain instead of closet door, and hanging some art. Oh and then watching a few episodes of Hoarders to convince us to purge and shred.
  4. Finish updating the Master Bath
    • We removed our nasty 1980s shower doors and replace them with a cute curtain. But stopped there. We want to replace the toilet, light, and mirror and paint the vanity. Although we’d eventually like the replace the shower and vanity, we think these smaller upgrades will allow us to get another couple of years out of the bathroom.DSC04886
  5. Master Bedroom
    • Our master bedroom still has paint swatches on the wall & our curtains are hanging from the rods that were there when we moved in. So the goal is to get the walls painted, replacing the too-small dresser with a bigger one, upgrading the window treatments, and adding some art. In the long run our closet needs a serious make-0ver, but that will take a visit from an electrician and a drywall guy, so maybe in 2016?Dresser Top - Progress - #thissarahloves
  6. Basement Storage
    • Once we have the basement family room ready to go, we need to address the storage down there. There’s tons of space, but we’re not using it well.  So the goal will be to create smarter storage systems for the utility room and the under-the-stairs closet.
  7. Backyard
    • In 2014 we got rid of the approximately 75 over-grown shrubs filling up our back yard. We also had the rotting shed demolished and removed. This year we need to fence the backyard (definitely something we’ll be hiring out), figure out how to deal with the hole left by the world’s largest shed, and plant a few things. I also want to add some white river-rocks to the drainage bed outside the house.Backyard - New Bed from Back Door
  8. Re-finish the Basement Stairs
    • We got rid of the last of the blue carpet months ago, but now we have raw pine stairs leading into the basement. The plan is to sand and patch the wood & then paint them in the same color scheme as the stairs leading to the upper level.Closed Stairs
  9. Living Room
    • Our living room has been half-done for far too long. I want to sew cushion covers to go on the new couch, update the window treatments, and add a console table behind the couch. We also need another lamp or two. Once the extra couch gets moved into the basement, this will be a lot easier to accomplish.SONY DSC
  10. Kitchen
    • Other than wrapping up the basement remodel, this is the biggest project on the list. Or rather, potentially, the biggest project. The MUST dos are removing the last of the wallpaper border and painting the walls. All of our appliances need updating, the dishwasher and microwave are at the top of the list, and the fridge is not far behind. The counters absolutely MUST go and we need at least new cabinet doors, but probably entirely new cabinets. Basically, we need to figure out how much it’s all going to cost, and what the timeline is on that. Once we have the timeline, we can figure out what we want to do to in 2015.Kitchen - Drawer Cabinet Hardware Upgrade

What do you have on your “Get it Done!” list for 2015?

Sarah Signature