...because home doesn't happen overnight.

The weekend before we welcomed our new baby girl into our family I went into full nesting mode over at the Underdog. I got the master bathroom squeaky clean then moved onto the three bedrooms.

{master bedroom before}

{boys’ bedroom before}

{nursery before}

In each of the three bedrooms, we tore out shag carpeting, demo’d the exterior walls to the cinder block to insulate properly, upgraded the electrical, hung new drywall on the exterior walls, painted, installed engineered hardwood flooring and replaced the old termite-damaged baseboards with taller, beefier trim. The boys’ bedroom and nursery windows had been replaced by the previous owner. The master bedroom windows were the original aluminum kind with cracked glass panes. We replaced them with new vinyl ones.

{master bedroom after}

{boys’ bedroom after}

{nursery after}

A few thoughts on the bedrooms {i.e. there’s still work to do!}:

  • Like the master bathroom, the bedrooms are done from a renovation standpoint but not so from a design standpoint. I’ll go into more decor detail room-by-room after we move in.
  • We need register covers for all the bedrooms.
  • We’ve yet to install interior doors for the bedrooms. I’m going to implement fabric doors for all the bedroom closets. At first, we thought we’d reuse the original bedroom doors and paint them but now we’re leaning towards buying solid wood doors to increase privacy in such a small house.
  • Did you notice the thicker, meatier baseboards?

To clean up the renovation dust, I relied on my trusty cleaning favorites.

I used a mixture of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day all purpose cleaner and water to wash the windows inside and out. The Underdog’s roof has a pretty deep overhang that extends about 2-3 feet beyond the brick facade. It’s not optimal for letting in lots of natural light BUT I think it helps protect the windows from excessive dirt and runoff. The new windows in the master bedroom weren’t any cleaner than the windows in the other bedrooms. I’m hoping this means less frequent window cleaning in my future. Our previous house had no overhang and as soon as it rained, my clean windows would be grimy once again.

Before tackling the dirty engineered hardwood flooring, I did some research. I wasn’t sure how to go about cleaning them…especially since there was still glue residue on them from the installation. {We installed them onto a concrete slab and weren’t able to nail them into a subfloor. Boo.} Everything I read said to clean them the same way as solid hardwood. So after shop-vac’ing the loose debris, I used my favorite wood cleaning mixture – Murphy’s Oil Soap mixed in warm water. It worked great not only on the the renovation dust but also on the glue residue. For the first deep cleaning, I skipped the mop and worked on my hands and knees with a bucket and microfiber cloth. In true Cinderella style. Well, if Cinderella had been 38 weeks pregnant. The best part about the Murphy’s Oil Soap is that there’s no need to rinse. And I’m all about less steps when cleaning is involved.

Update: So apparently Murphy’s Oil Soap isn’t the best choice when it comes to cleaning hardwood flooring. With repeated use over time, it can leave a residue. Sheesh! I have a lot to learn!

Another important thing to remember is that each of the cleaners I used – Mrs. Meyer’s & Murphy’s – is concentrated. That means thorough cleaning requires less product…which means one bottle lasts a long time…which means more money for more important things…like pillows. I’ve had these two bottles for at least four years now. And I use them all the time.

This is where I wish virtual scratch-n-sniff pictures were possible. The mix of Mrs. Meyer’s lemon verbena and Murphy’s oil is delish. Not only is the Underdog starting to feel like a home, it’s starting to smell a little like one too.

I also got the hallway cleaned up and protected. I just cut up a bunch of cardboard boxes from our IKEA kitchen install, duct-taped them together in sidewalk fashion and laid them on the floor. It’s my version of the Yellow Brick Road. Since we still have some renovation projects going on and will need to move in furniture at some point, I’m hoping the cardboard rug will keep dirt and dings to a minimum until we’re settled in. Then all bets are off after that!

With one bathroom and three bedrooms in move-in condition, Handy Hubby has moved onto the kitchen install. The goal is to get the kitchen functional {cabinets and appliances in working order but probably not all finishes will be done when we move in…who needs countertops anyway?!} and install tile flooring in the mudroom/dining room/laundry nook so that we can hook up the washer and dryer on moving day. We’re chugging right along.

Finally, I apologize if any or all parts of this post are incoherent. I’m on newborn time. My brain is foggy and my heart is full. Per your requests, I’m working on a few posts that will discuss Mabrey’s birth story and how we came to choose her name. Coming soon!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking

47 Comments

04.April.2012

I am thoroughly convinced you are Superwoman! I love watching the details of your renovation unfold :)

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04.April.2012

I’m not sure which is more amazing – the work you did right before the baby or the existence of this (totally coherent) post right after the baby!

I’m so excited for you guys to move into the Underdog!

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04.April.2012

I just love it when everything has been a mess and, once you give it a good clean, it appears in all its glory ! Good job Millers ! Take care ! ps : I’ve ordered new tile flooring for our kitchen so it matches the living room and vĂ©randa (sunroom ?) ones. I can’t wait to get my hands on it …

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04.April.2012

Your house smells like my house. Love those two products. Also have a thing for the Method Wood for Good almond scented spray for when I don’t have time to mix some Murphey’s. It’s faintly scented and smells clean, but not like cleaner.

How much do you dilute your Mrs. Meyer’s? I thought I was doing really well to get just over a year and a half from a bottle, but have often thought I use too much. I reuse a bottle that came with her counter top spray by mixing about 2 tablespoons into the 16oz bottle. One bottle cleans the kitchen, the laundry room, 2.5 baths (one with soaker tub), the dining table, all of the non-wood surfaces throughout the rest of the house, and about 1000 sqft of finished hardwoods and ceramic tile (we spray and then mop up with a reusable swiffer like thing).

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04.April.2012

My older ranch house has those wide overhanging eaves too … I think it really does help with rain, and keeps hot summer sun out too. I’ve noticed low, winter sun still makes it in just fine. I like the wide eaves!

Yes, I love the thick moulding. Its a great update. And new doors, while not in your original plan, will feel good and solid. If it doesn’t bust your budget, go for the new doors.

Your house is almost there!

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04.April.2012

Mmm, I think I can smell it from here! :)

I’m in my second trimester and the line “My brain is foggy and my heart is full” totally made me teary. Tell HH good luck with the kitchen, and I hope your family is doing well!

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04.April.2012

I love these before and after photos. They are so inspiring and exactly what I would like to do in a few years. I’m getting sick of all the stairs in my house and a lovely open ranch sounds wonderful.

Keep the photos coming!:) Love your blog!

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04.April.2012

No need to apologize! You are pretty much Superwoman. :)

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04.April.2012

I have to say, the LAST thing I would be doing when 9 months pregnant would be cleaning the floors. When I get pregnant one day, Im gonna ask for a maid service instead of shower gifts! haha

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04.April.2012

Love the floors! There is nothing like the smell of a clean house, except fresh bread in that clean house. :D

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04.April.2012

You are super woman! The house is looking so awesome. Also, is it weird that I kinda like the old diamond polka dot curtains in the master bedroom “before”? They are so fun!

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04.April.2012

The house looks amazing! And smells wonderful too (if I could actually smell it :-)! Can’t wait to read about Miss M! Loved how you said “brain is foggy but heart is full”… so sweet! Enjoy your new blessing!

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04.April.2012

We actually did an Ikea kitchen install and used a big piece of cardboard on top of our base cabinets at the island before the quartz counters were installed!

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04.April.2012

Found your blog yesterday, and I love it! Congrats on the sweet baby! We just moved into our new digs not quite a year ago now, and our first home was a complete remodel. It’s the best feeling to see potential in a home and make it completely yours.

Also, our house now is a new home and was a spec. We have the SAME hardwood floors that you installed in our kitchen. I love them because they are rustic looking, but be careful, I think they scratch easily. To clean them I use the good ole steam mop or “Method” wood cleaner in Almond scent. I put it in a spray bottle and delute with water so it goes a long way. We’ve also used the Murphy’s. I’ll have to try the Mrs. Meyer’s cleaner too! Thanks for sharing your cute house! Can’t wait to see what you do next!

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04.April.2012

You are amazing – I can’t imagine scrubbing floors on hands & knees at all – let alone 9 months pregnant! The rooms look great – paint colors look fabulous with the dark floors. And I love the baseboards – what are the dimensions? We need new floors throughout our entire house & want to change our dinky baseboards at the same time – I may have to use yours as a model.

I’m a big fan of wide eaves – you can often leave the windows open in the rain without much, if any, coming in and YES the windows stay cleaner.

Can you get wooden register covers and stain them to match the floors? That would be my first inclination – make them blend in as much as possible. Not sure what your options might be for the one between the tub & toilet in the master bath – maybe paint a wooden one to blend in with the penny tile?

Mabrey is beautiful – enjoy her & your boys (all 3 of them) and we’ll be waiting whenever you get around to us.

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04.April.2012

You all have done an amazing job on your place. . . I am sure you are so ready to move in!!! I love your floors and choice of paint color. =) I can’t wait to see the kitchen, living room, and dining room/mudroom.

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04.April.2012

Your home is coming along nicely and look quite lovely. Re: register . . . don’t know if you follow the 4 Men & 1 Lady blog, but she discovered some decorative registers at a Lowe’s (I think). Check out her blog. The one she put in her penny-tile bathroom floor (white penny tiles with gray grout) is very nice. That might be an idea. I agree with Cheryl with wooden registers for the hardwood floor vents.

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04.April.2012

Hi, Cheryl
The baseboards were 5 1/4″ tall, 11/16″ thick. We got primed poplar because it should hold up better than pine. We got our baseboards and door casing from Wholesale Hardwood Interiors. We weren’t compensated for the plug. They were just very reasonable and delivered a great product. I would definitely use them again for any trim or millwork we need.

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04.April.2012

You rock. I’m so happy that both you and the baby are healthy! The house is going to be great, and I am going to buy that lemon verbena Mrs. Meyer’s now that you’ve described that smell! *S*

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04.April.2012

What a speedy recovery you made from delivery to take on so much hard work so soon. I am inspired and hope I have the energy you do in the days following my baby girl’s arrival. The flooring is just what I would choose and the baseboards are a huge improvement too. I’m so excited to see final underdog reveals. By then, I’m certain you’ll no longer be calling it that. You’ll be calling it home.

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replied on April 5th, 2012

Lisa – I cleaned at 38 weeks prego…not cleaning now. Still resting up and healing from the delivery.

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04.April.2012

Looking good! I know you guys are ready to move in and enjoy the “underdog’! My husband and I just moved into our own fixer upper and it is nice not to have a million construction projects going and just enjoy the fruits of our labor. I can not wait to hear all the details of the kitchen install. We are purchasing IKEA cabinets/ installing them ourselves so any pointers you may have will be great! Congrats on the new baby girl :)

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04.April.2012

I used to manage a flooring store that specialized in hardwood floors. I wouldn’t use Murphy’s oil soap on your floors. Have you ever used a product called Bona…It works really well, I would definitely recommend it. Congratulations, on your newest edition, she’s adorable and I love her name. The underdog looks amazing:)

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replied on April 5th, 2012

Misty – Haven’t heard of Bona? What is it? Why is it recommended over Murphy’s?

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04.April.2012

The floors look so beautiful, and I really love the baseboards too! They make such a difference in a finished appearance. You are a super cleaner :) When doing some research on hardwood floors I had read that you shouldn’t use Murphy’s as your regular floor cleaner, because it does leave a residue. I so love the smell though, and it is very nostalgic for me because that’s what my Mom uses (but to be honest, the hardwoods in her dining room haven’t held up well). I mostly mop floors in a 1:5 vinegar warm water solution now, but I still use Murphy’s now and then because it does have a nice shine :) But there are plenty of other people who say, never use a wet mop in the first place, or vinegar is bad too! It is hard to know what to do.

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replied on April 5th, 2012

Martha – I don’t use Murphy’s for every cleaning on hardwoods…maybe 2-4 times a year as a deep cleaning?? At least that’s what I did for the small section of hardwood that we had in our foyer at our previous house. For frequent cleaning, I’ll just sweep with a broom and wipe up little messes by hand as they occur.

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04.April.2012

Somehow I had it figured that you’d have a girl! Maybe because I just had a new granddaughter two weeks ago. Warmest best wishes to you and your entire family! A new daughter and a new home sounds like an unbeatable combination. I look forward to your updates on both.

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04.April.2012

It’s looking GREAT!!! Congratulations on the new baby!!! (=

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05.April.2012

How did you deal with the lead-based paint in the kids room? By the alligator peal, I’d assume it is lead-based anyway. Did you have a contractor come and do the demo? Was the remediation expensive?

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replied on April 5th, 2012

Rachel – We had all the paint in the house professionally tested for lead. Much to our surprise, the results came back negative for lead. We were thrilled! The peeling of the paint was due to the floor register below. No remediation was necessary.

On a side note, we found literature in the attic about a popular local paint company that was ahead of the paint game as far as the 50’s were concerned. The literature was for independent sales/stores in the 1950’s. It was an entire marketing kit. Very cool! It led me to believe that the house was probably painted with lead-free paint from this local company. Who knew that 60+ years later we’d get ahold of it and write a blog all about renovating it?! Small world.

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I can’t believe you didn’t keep those old curtains in the bedrooms!! I’m also a fan of the Murphy’s soap. Those floors look amazing with the scraped look.

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05.April.2012

Wow, it’s really coming together!! Renovations usually run so far behind and I’m amazed at how much you guys have been able to pull off so quickly! Given the amount of work you guys did yourself while your hubby was traveling and you had to take it easy – it’s amazing!! It looks like a new home! Can’t wait to see you fill it with your beautiful family and your remarkable style!

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replied on April 5th, 2012

Angela – Oh, we are waaaaay behind our originally planned renovation schedule of ~4 months. HA! Yes, we did have a few unknowns thrown our way – pregnancy, HH job promotion & traveling, bedrest – but we probably underestimated the amount of work that needed to be completed for move-in ready status. Oh well. We were prepared for a longer renovation just in case…because every renovation you read about takes longer than expected.

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05.April.2012

Congrats on your new baby girl. You do a great job on your site, happy for you and your family!

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05.April.2012

Here’s a post on using Murphy Oil Soap for wood floors – sounds like it may not be such a good idea…
http://deepthoughtsbycynthia.blogspot.com/2010/04/fix-floorsthen-leave-town.html

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replied on April 6th, 2012

Robin – Thanks for the link! I had no idea!

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06.April.2012

Whew, I don’t feel as inadequate now, LOL, but I am still impressed.

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06.April.2012

Oh those floors, they look amazing!! Your home is looking beautiful!!

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06.April.2012

Eeek! I hope you don’t end up having the same problem I had with Murphy’s oil soap on our engineered hardwood floor! It leaves a residue and eventually makes every single foot print show up on the floor. It looks like handprints on glass. Drives me insane! We have a “shoes only” rule now- because shoes don’t leave prints- only oily feet. (Socks don’t help much either) And childrens feet are the worst culprits! I’d stop using it if I were you- Use Bona instead. I found it at Home Depot. Hope you don’t have the same problem- but your floors look similar to mine & I’ve read alot of the same complaints about Murphy’s Oil & Orange Glo on floors. Congrats on the finished rooms and a new baby!

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08.April.2012

You guys are doing great! Mabrey is such a beautiful and unique name too! I love it!

My hubby and I purchased a house that hadn’t been occupied in 25 years so we completely gutted it much in the fashion you guys did. We needed to move in right away because, like you, we had a newborn baby and were in a hurry to get settled in. While we were waiting to get our granite countertops installed we just purchased the doors we were going to use throughout the house (we just got flat interior doors for now for all the downstairs and put 6 panels in upstairs with the hope of replacing the downstairs doors as soon as we have extra cash). We used several of the doors as temporary countertop b/c they were pretty close to being the right width. We just set the doors right on top of our new cabinets and covered them with a few tablecloths and it worked great as a super cheap, reusable solution. It sounds kind of silly but it worked well and we didn’t have to buy anything additional. =) Good luck with the big move! I have loved seeing the progress!

Btw, I’m running out to get some Meyer’s Cleaning Solution tomorrow! It sounds awesome!

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I’ll second (third?) the Bona recommendation. My husband and I had site-finished maple floors installed when we built a new home two years ago, and the installer (one of our favorite contractors from the whole process) recommended Bona to clean our floors, which were finished with Bona brand polyurethane. That’s the only thing we’ve used, and it has worked great. (They also said that, as an alternative, a mixture of 12 parts water to one part white vinegar works well for floors finished with polyurethane.) Last time I checked, Costco sells Bona, or you can get it (with coupons!) at Bed Bath and Beyond.

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09.April.2012

CONGRATS on the pink bundle of joy! My little girl just turned one.
As for your floors, I agree with another reader – use Bona! They make a spray mop that’s super quick and easy. The cleaning pad can be tossed in the washing machine. You can find it at HD, Lowes, or BB&B. Murphy’s oil leaves a residue and vinegar/water is too acidic and will eat your finish over time.
Your place is lookin great!

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11.April.2012

I use Method’s Good for Wood as a cleaner for my wood floors and have been loving it for years! It not only cleans well but the smell is pretty awesome too!

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11.April.2012

Bona is a Swedish company, their products are awesome! I have a 3 year old and am obsessed with clean floors and non-toxic cleaners. I got our system at our grocery store (heb in Houston),they are also sold at Costco and higher end hardware stores.

Congratulations on your gorgeous new girl, baby girls are fabulous, I swear. Best to you and your sweet family.

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16.April.2012

Holy seventies, batman! What glorious shag carpeting. You should have sold it to a hipster vintage shop. Probably would have made a fortune. Love all Mrs. Meyer’s products! The house just smells so lovely after using them. And congrats on your little girl! After having one snot coverd boy, I’m really hoping baby 2 will be a girl….whenever we get working on it.

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19.April.2012

um where did you get the nursery lighting?

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replied on April 20th, 2012

Maris – IKEA! It was on sale because it’s being discontinued…less than $20!

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