March After Party!

Hi friends!  Welcome to the third month of Before and After Parties, where you can link up an idea for a project on the first Friday of each month, and then post how you've progressed on the last Friday.

Even if you didn't link up a "before" at the beginning of the month, you're more than welcome to share any before and after - a home improvement project, health plan, attempt to learn a new skill - whatever goes here at Shine Your Light!  (Speaking of which, a shout out to one of my fave peeps on the planet, Suzanne, who is training for a half marathon - and per her training plan is running 6 miles this very morn!  You rock, Sue!)

I am so looking forward to seeing how projects you've been working on have progressed!!  Link on up at the end of this post, or if you don't have a blog, send me photos or email me about your before & after and I'll share on Before & After Fridays!

My project for the month of March was to help my mom get her house ready to put on the market.  As I have mentioned, most of the house has been renovated with the exception of the lower level, which consists of a family room, bedroom/office, laundry room, bathroom and unfinished space.  The whole kit and kaboodle was covered in sa-weeeeet carpet installed in 1973 and the obligatory 70s wood paneling.  Mom moved here 8 years ago, and while we had plans to renovate it, it's just been used for storage.  Mementos from raising 4 kids - trophies and school papers and baby outfits - filled boxes down here.

But oh - the potential!

It's a beauty, isn't it??
One day when I couldn't get over to the "worksite" until later in the day, my awesome niece Angela came to my mom's on her day off from her job as a dental hygienist (hence the pink mask!) and singlehandedly tore out all the carpet.    The underlayment for the carpet was a kind of rubberized cement that Ang scraped by herself.  It was hideously dusty, messy and gross and she got the whole thing done - the best surprise ever when I arrived on the scene!

**Thanks Ang!  You're the best!!**
Mom bought this house at the height of the market and has already poured a lot of money into renovating the upstairs, so we decided to NOT spend a lot of money down here.  That being said, I wanted this makeover to be something that I would live in with my family - a well-finished, bright space that would appeal to a young family or empty nesters.

With the budget in mind (and also the popularity of planked walls right now!) we primed and painted the existing wood paneling and trim.

What a difference with the gross carpet gone!  It doesn't hurt that these rooms are street-level and get tons of light.  Some of the dropped ceiling tiles still need to be replaced, but here we are so far.

Keep in mind the carpet has yet to be installed - and after that - the fun part of staging the space will begin!!

This little stove is going to get pulled out.  We decided to keep the mantle's wood tone for a little contrast and I'm so glad we did.  There is a similar fireplace upstairs with the mantle painted all white so I really wanted to do something different down here.

Wouldn't this family room look great with a big white slipcovered sectional, a flatscreen tv and a gallery wall of photos??

This little alcove would make a great play space.  I can't wait to stage it for resale - I already have my kids' play table waiting in the garage!

On to the bedroom/office.  It's technically not a bedroom because there is no closet in this room, but it's the perfect guest room or home office.  

...and after - bright and cheerful.

See - wood paneling doesn't have to be the end of the world when you are looking to buy a house!  I really think it adds some architectural detail to a space.  Did you happen to see where Shaunna at Perfectly Imperfect actually bought wood paneling and painted it for one wall in her beautiful dining room???  You must check it out!! - paneling is BACK, baby!!

In the unfinished space - the laundry room before (this reminds me of so many older houses Mark & I looked at when we were house hunting.  GAAAH - gross - depressing - cobwebby!!!)
Those crutches??  They are - I kid you not - something like 25 years old.  My mom brought them from her last house "just in case".  Buh-bye.

The cement floor in the garage, laundry room and unfinished space had been painted many moons ago by the previous owners.  I gave the interior floors all a fresh coat of springy green flooring paint.  WHAT a difference this made!!!

Laundry room after - so far!!  

This is the little bathroom in the unfinished space.  The wallpaper was actually kind of cute, but falling off the walls.  This space is in the midst of getting refreshed too.

So that's where I'm at with Mom's Extreme Makeover!  Can you believe what a difference a little paint and a whole lot of elbow grease can make???

After the carpet is installed, we're going to stage the family room and bedroom, which will be so much fun - I'll be sure to share with you!

Thank you for all your kind comments on the progression of this space, and the treasures I shared with you yesterday!  This has been one of the most gratifying makeovers I have worked on and I hope it can encourage others who have similar outdated homes to breathe new life into a space with a little paint and creativity.

Okay, you!  Time to link up!  Let's see your before and afters, my friends!!
And while you're at it, head on over to Evolutions of Style to link up how one of your spaces has evolved!


Treasures From Mom's

As I have mentioned, my mom's house is a split level where you walk in the front door and go up to the kitchen, living room and bedrooms (which has been completely renovated)......

or go down to a scary, dark, musty space consisting of a family room, small office/bedroom, laundry room and unfinished storage space.

The lower level was stuck in 1973, and was filled with not only my mom's stored items but some of her grown children's furniture and belongings.  Before we could rip up the carpet, paint and beautify the space, we had to sort through and reduce the content down there.

The time had come to divide and conquer.  I marked boxes for each member of our family, along with huge bins for recycling and donating, and purged, purged, purged.

I was relentless.  I'd say I recycled about 90% of the school papers Mom had saved for each of us.  This experience really made me rethink what I save of my kid's schoolwork - the topic of a post for another day!

Betwixt and between all the purging, there were absolute gems to be found.  Next thing you know, the recycling would come to a screeching halt and Mom and I would spend an hour looking through a forgotten pile of photos or old letters.  However, it was clear that the term "treasure" is oh-so subjective.
For example --- what might this be, that Mom has saved for decades?????
This I can see saving:
...but the weird clay ashtray/bud vase/pencil holder???  See - totally subjective!!

Here are a few of my "treasures" from Mom's this month:

Mom's bank book when she first came to Boston from Ireland.  Notice the first entry:  $10 - all she brought with her from home besides her little suitcase of clothes!

A wedding shower gift from my aunts to my mom -
silver-plated flatware.  
This might not be worth a lot but it's priceless to me.  I'm going to give that box a makeover, and use these pieces for special occasions.
Since my mom has two granddaughters, I thought they could share this set and hopefully will enjoy using it once in a while.

My parents' wedding invitation.  I have never seen it before and am overjoyed with this discovery!!

Wedding cards and telegrams from Ireland, and ten months later, congratulations on the arrival of the first baby!

Tons of my dad's possessions.  Ordinary to him, cherished by me.  
My brothers and I were 10, 7, 6 and 4 when he died so anything that belonged to him is coveted.

I came across a whole box of his business cards (that I'll be handing out to everyone who knew him!)....

 his shoes and belt...

and his missal with his handwriting inside (apparently back in the day all the good Catholics carried their own missals to church.  Dad had given one to Mom for a birthday present too.)

Then I hit the motherload and found a stack of letters from Dad to Mom when she went home to Ireland for a couple of months when they were dating.  I spent hours, hours, pouring over them!   While I didn't steal the letters, I may or may not have taken home a few (dozen) photos.  How could I resist???  They were so stinkin cute, my Mom & Dad.  I love my dad's wavy hair, light blue eyes and crooked smile.  I love my mom's Jackie O hairstyle, lovely figure and huge, pretty smile lighting up her face in every picture with Dad.

Despite the paint in my hair and all over my hands, the cobwebs and the grime and the sore back, I have so enjoyed this past month with my mom, working on her house together and uncovering these treasures.

Tomorrow I'll share how the lower level has progressed so far at the March After Party!  I hope you'll join me in sharing before and afters of any kind.  I'm  looking forward to seeing what you've been working on!

Do you have any special "treasures" from your family?  Tell me about them - I'd love to hear!!


Day At The Cape

Mom and I took the day off from working on her house to drive down to the Cape (Cape Cod for you out-of-towners) to visit my niece Angela for her 26th birthday.  I was a freshman in high school the night we got the call that a little 4 lb. baby girl had been born 8 weeks early.  She was so little that when my brother held her sweet little head in the palm of his hand, her feet barely touched the crook of his elbow.  Tiny little girl earned the nickname Bubba, which was contradictory to the little blond wisp of a girl she grew into, and yet perfect for her at the same time.

Now she's all grown up, and the object of my kids' adoration.  (And that 3 year old boy is almost ten - can someone explain to me why time goes by so fast?)

Angela grew up in coastal towns and can't imagine living away from the ocean.  I don't blame her - look how pretty the Cape is in the off-season.  This is Angela's view on her way to and from work - the water was such a pretty shade of blue-green yesterday.
Ang can walk her dog Sky down to the beach every day after work.....isn't this a lovely place to live?

We met my brother John for lunch in Falmouth Center at La Cucina, a great restaurant he and his wife frequent.   Falmouth Center has tons of cute shops and is nice place to walk around.  If you're visiting the Cape anytime soon make sure to stop here and also visit La Cucina.

John, Angela & Mom all went with John's favorite, Chicken Marsala.....

and I had scrod with an Italian twist of pesto, a tomato sauce, fresh tomatoes with mozzarella on top and a balsamic glaze - it was DElish!  (I'm sorry, John, Ang and Mom but my meal was even yummier than yours!)

Of course no family get-together would be complete without me insisting on putting my camera on self-timer mode, which was met with moaning and groaning all around.  Little sisters are supposed to be annoying, right?

Happy birthday to my Bubs!  You are one of the most kind-hearted and special people I know! xox

Tomorrow I have some unearthed treasures from Mom's to share with you, and Friday is the big March After Party!  Are you joining it?  You are welcome to link up any before and after project, even if you didn't link up to the "before" party at the beginning of the month - just come on by and share what you've been up to!

I can't wait to show you how my mom's makeover has progressed so far and see how your projects went!!