The Brellis House


Category Archives: Home Improvement

Home repair, improvement, remodeling, decorations.

Refinishing the Staircase

Posted on October 4th, 2014 by Susanna

Refinishing our staircase has been on our to-do list for years and we finally got to it! Particularly after we refinished our wood floors, the orangey wood with paint splatters was really bothering us (probably really just me). Plus I had been lusting over the painted riser-dark wood stained tread look on pinterest. So one weekend we tackled it and wonder why it took us so long to get to it. Here’s what it looked like before, although we didn’t really get very good photos of how bad the wood really looked up close.

stairbase before

All we had to do was sand down the treads (sounds easy but it took HOURS), vacuum, and spread on two coats of stain and two coats of a clear coat.staining staircase

Then I painted the risers with one coat of primer and two coats of white paint and voilà! They are so beautiful.staircase after

Kitchen Updates

Posted on August 23rd, 2014 by Susanna

One thing that has been on our kitchen to-do list for years is to build a pull out trash can to replace the empty space where a dish washer should be. Dan finally finished it and it makes our kitchen renovation one giant step closer to actually being finished!



To keep the cabinet consistent, we decided to reuse the original cabinet that held the sink. We took inspiration and some guidance from tutorials from Makely and Young House Love. First, Dan had to cut a section out of it and then splice it back together to get it to be the right size.


After that, we puttied the seams and painted the front. Since the cabinet is pretty old, we reinforced the side walls with 1/4″ plywood and installed sliding arms on either side. To utilize the cabinet’s height, we removed the center front plate.


We bought the trash cans from simplehuman and made a box the width of the sliding arms that would fit them snugly.


Just like the cabinet, Dan took the doors and decorative top plate and cut them to size. He used metal brackets to secure them together and a 1/8″ board of  plywood to replicate the center block that we removed from the cabinet.


All that was left for building it was to screw the trash can box to the sliding arms and secure the door to the box.


Although the whole building of the cabinet took extremely long of on-and-off work, the hardest part was wedging it into place- under a concrete counter top and on slightly uneven tiles.


After two coats of primer, I put on a final coat of paint and added the door knob. Fairly seamless one first blush! A simple kick plate across the cabinets and sink helps tie everything together.


Kitchen pull out trash can. The Brellis House

Kitchen pull out trash can. The Brellis House

Staining a Deck in July

Posted on August 7th, 2013 by Susanna

Staining a deck in July was probably not the greatest idea we’ve had. Although the look of the weathered wood appealed to me, it was getting to be quite dangerous, after rain it would be so slick that you could easily break your neck walking on it, plus one of the boards was almost totally rotted through (and had some beautiful moss growing on it).  Here are some pictures of it before:

deck before

rotted mossy deck board

deck before

The power washing part wasn’t too bad on a hot day.

pressure washing deck

pressure washed deck

replacing deck board

pressure washed deck

But the drying part took weeks since we’ve been getting afternoon thunderstorms just about every day. Finally after 3 straight 100 degree days it dried out and we waited for the temperatures to get below 90 to stain. It took weeks to find days in between rain to finally get it all stained. We were staining with headlamps until 10PM one night. staining deckWe really should have waited for a less rainy, more predictable weathered month, but oh well here it is! We really had no idea that deck stain was more like paint than wood stain, so the gray is going to take some getting used to. If we were going to do it again we might go with a transparent weather-proofer rather than a colored stain.Here’s how it turned out, plus some photos we snapped after putting up some string lights and eating a delicious pizza dinner outside.

decknighttime deck pizza dinner

Next, we’ve got to clean and stain our new deck furniture.

Celebrating birthday with MULCH!

Posted on May 19th, 2013 by Susanna

Every year I get a load of mulch for my birthday- this year I got 4 cubic yards of mulched delivered. The morning it was delivered was like Christmas morning. I LOVE mulching. 4 cubic yards mulch

I really hadn’t prepped the beds enough so it took me a few days to get through the whole pile- but it was gone in less than a week! Didn’t even kill the grass under the pile!

Here’s some before and after pictures- mulch makes such a big difference!

front yard gardenbackyard weeds fern garden backyard weeds backyard garden man garden

mulch backyard front yard garden fern garden mulch backyard garden beds mulch backyard mulch garden beds

Still SO much to do- I’ve got room for more plants now, I want to get a delivery of wood chips for the path and sitting area.


Kitchen photos

Posted on March 25th, 2013 by Susanna

The Our House section of our blog has had only before pictures- so in an attempt to update with some current photos I took some quick photos of our kitchen this morning.  It was a good excuse to give it a good ol’ clean.


kitchen open shelves kitchenkitchen kitchenopen shelves kitchen

We’d call it 95% done. There are still some minor things I’d like to get done:

-make a window curtain
-paint/replace kickboards under cabinets
-make a pull-out trash/recycling compartment
-make a small shelf to the right of the fridge for cereal and bags
– finish up some trim around the island and cabinets


Second floor updates

Posted on March 10th, 2013 by Susanna

We’ve made lots of progress since our last post about our upstairs improvements.  After finishing the drywall, installing recessed lights, and putting in some extra insulation, we hung some bead board on the knee walls, painted everything (took FOREVER) and finally layed the new floor. Laying the floor was way too much fun, I seriously could lay floors all day long.


DSC_7927DSC_7943 The new floors made such a huge difference, especially once we put all the trim back up. We especially love our upstairs now because it’s like a giant dance floor- we’ve hosted a few dance parties, including a break dancing party:


So then we got started on our closet.  We decided to try and build it ourselves.

closet building

closet buildingcloset buildingcloset building

It worked out really well and is ridiculously more functional than our old single rod closet. Next post we’ll have some final photos and a budget breakdown!

Second Floor Improvements

Posted on January 21st, 2013 by Susanna

After a long and lazy hiatus from anything home-improvement related we finally dove into fixing up our upstairs.  Here it is after we took out a lot of stuff and started to work on the drywall seams.     upstairsupstairs

And here is my very disorganized “craft corner”:

disorganized "craft corner"

And the worst closet in the world:

gross closet

So far we’ve finished the drywall seams which were just raw seams since we bought the house, installed recessed lights, and added some insulation where it was lacking (no wonder its so cold up there!).  Here’s a picture of Dan doing some insulation/ electrical work. Thank goodness he’s so skinny!upstairs

Although anything we do up there will be an improvement, we’ve got big plans!  Here’s some of my inspiration:

Minor Updates

Posted on June 26th, 2012 by Susanna

Our home improvement lately has consisted of lots of minor things that you’d never notice unless we pointed them out. So I’ll point our latest project out for ya.  For some reason, when we bought our house, nearly every screen was ripped. Not just one little tear, but each one was like completely torn apart. For example:ripped screen

So we finally borrowed my parents screen tool (thank goodness for them- they seriously have everything), got some new screen and replaced the screens in just about every window. It was a fairly simple task, just a little time consuming, but it makes such a huge difference! One step further to being not the trashiest house on the street! Plus maybe this will cut back on my indoor mosquito bites…

Closet Desk

Posted on April 16th, 2012 by Susanna

We had a lot of wallpaper to tackle when we first moved in. It was in the whole basement and all the closets. It was a disaster. We tried every single method possible, and they all failed, until my co-worker let us borrow her steamer and boy was it a miracle. It was still hard work, but we knocked it out in just a few days, where as it would have taken years at the rate we were going with all those other methods (fabric softener, store bought sprays, perforators, etc).  And thanks to all of you family and friends that helped with the removal process!

closet beforecloset wallpaper

After we took the door off of the closet I was inspired to make a desk in this huge space. Since we have no plans of using the room as a bedroom and Dan is basically constantly using his desk, I figured it would be a nice place to store craft stuff and have a place for schoolwork (which usually gets done on the floor).  After making a whole Pinterest Board dedicated to closet desks we set to work.


We decided to use the go-to walnut wood that my parents have. Same wood that I used to make Dan’s bread board, and many other projects… We pieced a few planks together and sanded it nice and smooth.

desk top

And then we made the bases/shelves from some discounted reject wood from home depot.

closet desk shelfcloset desk

There is much left to do, we plan on adding some shelves at the bottom left, so I can organize my piles of fabric scraps and various craft stuff, and create some storage above the desk. I’d also like to find both of us proper desk chairs since we’ve been using our dining room chairs. Lots left to do.

Kitchen Improvements

Posted on April 7th, 2012 by Susanna

cat in fish tankAs much as we wanted to make a terrarium in our huge empty fishtank, we decided we didn’t want to give up valuable window space for it.  Since it was a real eyesore in the kitchen, we finally put it in the basement (for now). This left a big, empty wall that I had plans for. In less than 2 hours, we whipped up this bulletin board to fill up the space and give us a place to have photos, wedding invitations and other pretty things to look at.  Here’s how we did it: First I found the biggest cardboard box from my collection in the basement (I’m a hoarder) and cut out one of the sides. Then we made a wooden frame from a hunk of wood we had in the basement (hoarder). We stapled the frame to the cardboard with a staple gun and then wrapped it with some white batting-like felt that I had bought as a remnant a while ago just because I knew I’d need it some day (hoarder), and then a piece of burlapy fabric that I did go to the store and buy real quick. The yard of fabric was the only purchased item for this project. It pays to be a hoarder. With two nails in the wall, we hung it up and started pinning things.

bulletin board


The second improvement to the clutter corner in our kitchen was covering the faux wood pattern on the end of the cabinet with beadboard like we had planned to do years ago, and painted it. FINALLY!

kitchen cabinets

We still have to add some trim across the bottom and minor things that like.