The Brellis House


Category Archives: Projects

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.


A Lovely Christmas

Posted on January 24th, 2012 by Dan

I wanted to title this post, A Loafly Christmas, but I thought it was too lame.

It’s a bit late, but I wanted to share a few presents from my lovely wife. First, one that she out a lot of effort into and handmade all by herself: a bread board.  She made it from walnut boards her dad had from a walnut tree that fell on their property years ago. It’s perfect for slicing bread and displaying breads at the table.

My latest ciabatta, thanks to another Christmas gift from Susanna, turned out light and porous. I had heard that you could use unglazed quarry tile instead of an expensive pizza stone and she set off on a wild goose chase to find me some. These are 6×6 inches and fairly inexpensive; I line the middle rack with 6 of them placing free-loaf breads and pizzas right on the super hot tiles.

And while we’re on the subject of Christmas, we made pumpkin butter from our Halloween pumpkins and preserved them for Christmas gifts for pretty much everyone. Susanna made some labels for the top and we put together a label with some suggestions for use.

It was a good Christmas.


Winter Crafts

Posted on January 23rd, 2012 by Susanna

I’ve been feeling pretty crafty lately… My quilt top is pinned to the batting and the backing, now all I have to do is QUILT and add the binding border. This is michi hiding in between the batting and backing as I was pinning it together.I’ve also been doing some quick less than 20 minute projects including 2 pillow covers from remnant fabric I found at Joanne’s for 70% off.

I also was in desperate need for a pincushion so I fashioned a quick one out of a little mason jar and some remnant fabric (is there any other kind of fabric?) that I love love love.

It’s been a crafty winter over here so far…



Posted on January 17th, 2012 by Susanna

I decided that making a quilt would be a good winter activity to do while I still have time before I start school at the end of the month. After collecting lots of inspirations on Pinterest I decided this one would be what I’m trying to mimic:

Via Pinterest

So off to Joanne’s I went with my coupons in hand, and $100 later (yikes! how do they sell these things for so cheap??) I came home with 10 yards of fabric and started cutting.

piecing the quilt

I laid out my squares on the floor and of course every time I had them all neat and nicely randomized, Michi decided to play tornado.

I sewed squares together for about 3 days straight and I now have the completed front (but no picture yet). I have to still get the backing fabric and some batting so I can start the actual quilting process. Hopefully I’ll have this thing done by the time school starts! I’m so excited about it! It’s so satisfying! I was hesitant to have my first quilting project be such a huge quilt but I’m glad I did it (so far).

More Wall Art (Finally)

Posted on December 10th, 2011 by Susanna

After over a year of very empty walls, we’re finally getting around to hanging some art and pictures on the walls. We finally printed some photos from our wedding and our trip to France earlier this year and framed them and hung them in the living room. Eventually more framed pictures will fill the wall a little more but this is what it looks like now.

Tonight I did a quick painting of a tree on a hunk of wood we’ve had laying around (we actually found it floating around in a river and brought it home). I hung it in the hallway along with a frame we made a long time ago that will one day get a picture in it, two pictures that my sister gave me, and a birthday card of a whale that Dan got this year that I liked so much I framed it.Again, I plan on filling it a bit more. I had a burst of Christmas spirit and added an anise star to the top of the tree. Hehe.

I’m pretty excited to get all of these things off of the ground where they were collecting major cat fuzzballs.



Winter Incoming…

Posted on December 10th, 2011 by Susanna

We were so happy to have an extra few warm weeks in November but it feels like we’re in full swing winter now that’s it’s December. With our house being 55 degrees or less its hard to be productive but I’ve been getting crafty with a few projects. One of the latest is inspired from the embroidery hoop wall art craze on pinterest right now.   My mom so nicely handed me a huge bag full of hoops after seeing my pinterest pins and I got to work. I hung the hoops first and then started collecting fabrics.

Right now I have only one more hoop to fill.  I’m looking for the perfect fabric for the largest hoop so that may take some time. I plan on doing more actual embroidery in more of the hoops so that might take some time. I’m really excited about how easy and inexpensive this project was and it really filled some blank wall space (which we seem to have a lot of).


New camera!

Posted on September 10th, 2011 by Susanna

We decided rather than taking a nice trip or doing anything for our (Year#1!) anniversary we’d splurge and buy ourselves a new SLR camera. We’re pretty excited about it. After lots of research we decided on the Nikon 3100. It was a tough choice but we didn’t want anything too too fancy since we’re just beginners. And we are definitely still just figuring it out.

Nikon 3100

Hopefully this camera will make us post more often! Michi is, of course, my favorite subject so here are some pictures taken with the new camera:

Michi in our sink

Michi cat


And this was my mini project today:

hardware organized

I organized our big box of random nails and screws, we’ll see how long this system works..


Have any photography tips for us? We need them!


We’ve been spending a lot of time in the bathroom lately…

Posted on August 15th, 2011 by Susanna

I’ve wanted to do a summary post of all the work we’ve done in the bathroom.  It all started with this:broken toilet tank

Our toilet randomly cracked in half. Thank goodness we were home, because the water would have kept flowing and flooded our whole house (and we had just refinished our hardwood floors the previous weekend!).  Our guess is that it cracked partially because the person installing it had tightened the bolts connecting the tank to the toilet too tight (which is a common offense apparently, one we very carefully did not commit when we finally installed the new toilet), and partially because the whole toilet was sinking into the floor (since a previous wax ring seal was not so good, water leaking had weakened the floor boards- also a common occurrence).  Shortly after searching for a replacement tank with no success we removed the toilet and it now adds a nice tough to our deck:

toilet on deck

After taking out the toilet we started ripping out the tile on the floors, walls, and shower surround:

bathroom duringshower tile removal


We had to rip out all of the water-logged plaster behind the shower tile (did we mention- another reason we took on this bathroom remodel was because we had to hang a shower curtain against the tiled wall because water was gushing through the crumbly grout between the tiles and through the wall into the basement). We also tore out the old cast iron tub (with lots of help from cousin Kevin- Thanks Kevin!). shower during

We then replaced all of the rotten floor boards and put down cement backerboard:

bathroom duringbathroom flooring

We then installed the tub (which was INCREDIBLY difficult- it took like 2 weeks just to install the tub) and put up cement backerboard around the tub:

tub during

One of the surprisingly easy things we did was install the ceiling exhaust fan and a recessed light over the tub (kudos to my fantastic electrician of a husband!)bathroom light and fan

Then we were onto the fun stuff!  After buying a very cheap wet saw from harbor freight (despite being warned about cutting porcelain tile) we quickly learned how to cut and lay tile- very exciting and surprisingly simple!bathroom floor tilebathroom floor during


After carefully laying the tile, I grouted (best part of the process) and it was done:floor groutNext we prepared the shower surround by painting on this awful cancer-smelling pink goo to completely waterproof the wall:


Once that dried we were able to tile. This proved to be much more difficult than the floor. We had a pretty hard time getting the mosaic sheets to not have obvious gaps between the 12×12 sheets.

shower tile


tub knobsshower niche

After installing our new toilet and sink, we’ve got a functional bathroom, but there is still much to do:

bathroom during

Our to-do list currently looks a bit like this:

  • Hang mirror
  • Install chair rail trim
  • Set all nails and putty
  • Paint all trim and door
  • Finish caulking around toilet, sink, tub
  • Recessed shelf (more about that later)

And some crafty-type things I need to make

  • Shades for bathroom light above mirror (any ideas? anyone?)
  • Make baskets for the recessed shelf (I don’t know that we will be able to find the exact dimensions we need)
  • Curtains for window? and curtain around plumbing to sink?

Still a lot of work to do! But we’re really excited about our bathroom because it will be the first room in the house that is completely finished. And after this project we’re moving on to other rooms that only got half done.


Light Revivals

Posted on August 6th, 2011 by Susanna

I found this beauty at Goodwill for $6- it was love at first site!

Lamp Before

I’ve been wanting to use oil rubbed bronze spray paint for some time now so I saw this as a perfect opportunity to give it a go. In my mind this was going to be a quick weekend project, but not surprisingly it turned into a multi-week project. Here is what we did. First we took it all apart

and I spray painted all the hideous rusting gold parts. This spray paint was unlike any I’ve ever used before- the trigger was tricky and all the gold flakes blew all around- so I’d highly recommend wearing a respirator.  So next was the lampshade. I wanted to take the accordian fabric stuff off and recover it with a burlap type fabric. Unfortunately, during my frustrating times with the spray paint, the lampshade fell off the side of the deck and completely broke. As always, mom comes to the rescue (thanks mom!) and brought over some extra lampshades she had and one was pretty similar so I was able to cover that with the fabric I wanted.

I finished off the inside with a bit of ribbon and viola! The finished product:


Glass Lamp AfterLamp AfterLamp After


Unfortunately we don’t have a finished spot in the living room for it yet, so pardon the jungle that is our back yard.