Millie’s Remodel: Framing, Electrical, & Plumbing – Oh My!

Come take a peek into the Millie’s Remodel project house and see the progression as I start to build back after demolition. Did I say demolition is finished? I thought it was, but looks like there might be a tad more. Let’s take the tour.

It’s been a busy few weeks since the demolition. But I want to give you a little tour and show you what’s happened at the Millie’s Remodel project. There’s a lot of change and the new plumbing and electrical is going in.

view into living room and kitchen walls down to studs and framing

While the electrician and plumber were running the new lines, I spent my time framing the pocket doorway opening and adding blocking to weak areas under the floor. And although I thought demolition was done, I was only dreaming.

Want to see the video tour and updates? Watch my video filled with behind the scenes footage and a tip below:

You can see my plumber has been busy running the new plumbing in the shared powder room and laundry room. I still need to frame the header for the sliding door, but first let me take you on the rest of the tour.

open framed wall looking into new powder room and laundry room

I probably spent the better part of the day adding blocking under this section of flooring and other areas where the subfloor was weakened by water damage or where an air duct was added (without additional support for the flooring that was cut.)

pretty handy girl in crawlspace with framing nailer extended over head

My plumber has already tied into the old cast iron vent stack. We decided to leave it instead of having to patch the roof where the stack exits the house. My plumber and electrician did work together to remove the insanely heavy old cast iron tub. I don’t know what I’d do without these guys.

framing opening and plumbing run between kitchen bathroom

My siding contractors, Stephanie, and I worked together to install the new bathroom window. The old one was wooden with see-through glass. This new window has obscure glass and is made mostly of PVC.

view of framing and new subfloor in bathroom

In the kitchen, after patching the subfloor, I framed up the half wall for bar seating on the other side of the kitchen. I’m definitely excited to see this new layout come together.

view from kitchen into living room showing new open concept

I worked with Elizabeth Burns, a local designer, to help me with kitchen floor plan ideas.

kitchen layout of Millie's Remodel project

She designed a galley style kitchen and I’m thrilled with the plans. I can’t wait to see it in reality!

Pencil sketch of Millie's Remodel Kitchen

It’s going to be a beautiful light-filled kitchen!

new pony wall installed in kitchen

Out front, you can see the old vinyl siding has been removed and my siding contractors are adding new fascia board and soffits. Remarkably the original wood siding (that was under the vinyl) is still solid. I’m planning on cleaning off some of the flaking paint and repainting it.

front brick ranch with original siding exposed

Off the back porch, you can see where my brick mason closed up the old doorway into the laundry room. We installed the transom window at the top of the old doorway and I’m excited to have a little bit of natural light coming into the powder room/laundry room.

back door bricked up with transom window installed

Because the old subpanel was in the room that is becoming the new powder room and laundry room, we had to move it to meet building codes. I framed up this little wall, so we could install the subpanel. The other wall had all the studs turned sideways so we didn’t have the depth we needed. But now we do. And we have a new subpanel and wiring installed. Isn’t it beautiful?

new subpanel wired in new framed opening

For now I’ve been using the back bedrooms to store the salvaged materials and tiles. Thank goodness I have a roof and walls in this house as opposed to the Saving Etta house. To store materials at Etta, I had to buy a storage trailer.

tile and storage in bedroom

I hope you’re enjoying the Millie’s Remodel updates. Getting the framing, electrical, and plumbing finished is a big step forward. After we pass the rough-in inspection, I should be able to get my drywall contractor in to start putting the walls back up! Hooray!

Stay tuned for more updates soon.

A special thank you to the Millie’s Remodel Sponsors:

The Millie’s Remodel project sponsors have donated materials for the Millie’s Remodel project. As you know I am very particular about the brands I work with and recommend. As a general contractor, I choose the products used on my projects wisely to make sure they last a lifetime. Therefore, I have no reservations putting my name behind each and every one of these sponsors.

millies remodel sponsors logos

How to Protect Your House From Termites or Why I’m Canceling My Termite Treatment

You may have seen my update at the Millie’s Remodel and how I found termite damage under the laundry room floor. I was just completing demolition and discovered the two exterior rim joists crumbled in my fingers. I quickly called my framing contractor and begged him to come out as soon as possible to repair the damage. Then I quietly cursed the former owners of the house for not properly knowing how to protect the house from termites.

Unfortunately, work on the house had come to a screeching halt until this fix could be completed. Luckily, my framers came at the end of the week and replaced the destroyed joists and subfloor. But, all this could have been avoided if the owners knew more about termites. So, today I’m here to beg you to educate yourself on termites and the costly damage they can do to your home. Learn how to protect your house from termites! If you live in the United States (with the exception of Alaska), you have termites! All you Northerners, stop shaking your head at me. I know you’ve been told termites aren’t an issue for you. Keep reading and I’ll tell you why you do need to be concerned!

As a general contractor, a real estate investor, and all around handy girl, I’ve seen my fair share of termite damaged homes (including my personal home.) Therefore, when I hear from people that they don’t believe in termite treatments, I give them a dumbfounded look.

Termites can damage your home, causing costly repairs—or worst yet—an unsafe home. Did you know there is a termite species that can cause major structural damage to a house within six months! And these termites (Formosan Termites) love warm and humid environments. If that describes your area, you are playing with fire (or little wood eating insects) if you don’t have a termite prevention plan.

Top Myths Why People Don’t Have a Termite Treatment Plan:

  • Termites Aren’t Common in Our Area
    Currently termites have been reported in all of the United States with the exception of Alaska. Warmer temperatures have created a friendlier atmosphere for termites, even in northern states.
  • My House is Made of Brick
    You may think because your home’s exterior is brick, you aren’t at risk of a termite infestation. But, what’s inside your walls? If your home’s framing (interior walls, floor and ceiling system) have any wood, you are at risk. Not to mention those beautiful wood floors you cherish. The only exception would be if you live in a concrete bunker (or concrete block house) with vinyl or tile floors. And even still, if you have any wood in your house, it can be at risk.
  • I Get an Annual Termite Inspection
    Some people think they can have their home inspected on a regular basis, and if termites are discovered they can treat the infestation. Remember what I said about the aggressive termite colony that can do major structural damage in as little as six months. This is a new strategy I just heard about, but frankly I believe in prevention vs. repairs.
  • I’ve Never Seen Any Termites Near My Home
    Most termites are subterranean, meaning they live underground. It’s not likely you would see them or notice an infestation until your home has sustained major damage. Termite tunnels can be detected inside a crawlspace or on the foundation walls. If your home’s foundation is close to ground level, you may not see anything at all until it’s too late. Also, if you have an enclosed crawlspace or encapsulated crawlspace, you may not see the tunnels behind a vapor barrier.

Types of Termites in the Colony:

  • Termites workers (the ones that do the actual damage) are small white insects approximately 1cm in size. They are actually very fragile and need moisture to live. Therefore they will bring moisture with them, which helps break down the wood fibers faster. The workers feed the colony.
  • Soldiers: Like their name suggests, the termite soldiers have armored heads and powerful jaws eager to defend the colony from enemies such as ants.
  • Swarmers: In the spring and early summer, termites will swarm. This is when they grow wings and mate. Sometimes swarming termites are mistaken for flying ants. Although similar, upon closer inspection termites do not have three distinct body segments that ants have. Termites also have four wings the same shape and size. If you see swarmers (or a collection of wings) anywhere around your home, you should contact a professional pest control company immediately!
  • The Queen: This Mother can reach up to four inches in length and is responsible for increasing her colony size. Her sole purpose is to mate and lay eggs. At a pace of one egg per second, she can lay up to a million eggs in her lifespan. Lest you think the colony is dead when she dies, another queen is merely waiting in the wings (so to speak.)

How Can You Tell if You Have Termites?

  • Swarming termites or termite wings around or inside your home.
  • Cracked, bubbled paint, or pin holes can be a sign of termites trying to get out of the walls to swarm.)
  • Wood that sounds hollow when tapped.
  • Mud tubes or tunnels on your home’s foundation, walls or crawlspace.

Top Ways to Protect Your Home from Termites:

  • Eliminate water from around your home:
    • Fix leaky faucets and pipes, repair or replace defective gutters or downspouts, get rid of standing water, and trim excessive vegetation from around your home.
  • Eliminate food sources for termites on and around your home:
    • Keep firewood, paper, and untreated lumber away from the exterior of your home.
  • Make sure your home’s siding is not touching or below the ground level. Only concrete, cinder block or brick should be in direct contact with the earth.
  • Keep up with all home maintenance and inspections.
  • Siding should be in good condition. Replace rotted siding as soon as possible.
  • Keep mulch and organic bed coverings at least a foot or more away from foundation walls.
  • Inspect your foundation and crawlspace walls for mud tunnels.
  • Have an annual termite inspection and termite contract with a reputable company

What to Do If You Find Termite Damage in Your Home?

Dealing with termite damage can be as easy as adding a sister board to a damaged joist or stud in your crawlspace or attic where the framing members are accessible. Worse damage may require replacing the framing member. Some damage requires removing interior finishes and drywall to replace damaged studs and wall members inside the wall. Severe damage may require a structural engineer consultation to determine how to repair, support, or replace load bearing framing, beams, or girders.

Types of Termite Treatments:

  • Soil-Applied Barrier Treatment – a trench is dug around the home and chemicals containing termiticides are poured into the trench.
  • Bait Stations – Cellulose and insect growth regulator housed in bait stations are installed in the ground around the perimeter of the structure to be protected.


Why I am Canceling My Termite Treatment:

Here’s where I want to let you know this is a sponsored post for Corteva, the manufacturers of Sentricon. I think you know by now that I don’t write sponsored posts unless I thoroughly believe in a product. Yes, I was compensated for my time, but I care more about getting the best information and advice into your hands than I do about collecting money in my account.

Now, let me tell you why I’m canceling my traditional termite treatment plan and how I’ve decided to switch to the Sentricon bait system.

Several months before I found the termite damage at Millie’s Remodel, I renewed our termite contract on our personal residence. The scheduler told me I was due for an inspection and the booster treatment. I knew this meant they had to dig a trench and create a liquid barrier around our home. But, I had no idea how much liquid (aka chemicals) had to be poured in the trench. I was shocked as I watched the technician pour a small river around the entire house. Secretly I thought to myself, “There has to be a better solution.” At the time I wasn’t convinced there was a better termite treatment available. And I certainly wasn’t going to gamble the safety of my house with termites.

A few days later I couldn’t get the images of all those chemicals being poured into the soil out of my head. As an environmentalist, I don’t like using any chemicals around my home, so why would I want massive chemicals dumped into the soil at the base of my house? I ended up doing a lot of research and came across an excellent source of information about termites and EPA approved treatment plans. One of the things I saw on the website furthered my concern about using the traditional soil-applied barrier method to protect our home from termites.

A quote from the EPA website regarding Liquid Soil-Applied Termiticides (aka trench and liquid pour):

If conducted improperly, these treatments can cause contamination of the home and surrounding drinking water wells and will not protect against termites. For that reason, it is important to hire a pest management professional who is licensed and trained to take proper precautions.

I still wasn’t ready to forgo a termite treatment plan. I had seen first hand the damage termites did to our kitchen walls. The problem was our house was not treated before and after a garage addition was built. (Always talk to a termite contractor before building a home or addition. A treatment has to be applied before framing while the crawlspace or slab is open.)

Therefore when Sentricon approached me about their termite system, I was all ears. You should know I was skeptical about bait systems. I mistakenly thought they would attract more termites to a property. After asking a lot of questions, I agreed to try the Sentricon system. But, I talked to several experts at Corteva (the manufacturers of Sentricon), and after thirty minutes of me peppering them with questions, I felt at ease about trusting my investment property with their termite system.

Want to do your own research about the Sentricon System? You’ll want to read more about home treatment on the Sentricon website. Plus, you’ll find the FAQ page extremely helpful for answering a lot of your questions.

How the Sentricon Termite Bait System is Installed:

I scheduled my local Sentricon specialists to first inspect the property to see if it was a good candidate for the system. The tech came out and looked in the crawlspace and around the property. Then he drew a map with a plan for where to install the Sentricon bait stations.

Next we scheduled an installation day. Dave from Arrow Exterminators arrived promptly on install day and was polite enough to answer another list of questions I had. Instead of making you read them, you can watch my video from the Sentricon installation date.

Let me tell you, it was definitely a lot less shocking watching Dave from Arrow Exterminators installing the Sentricon system versus watching chemicals being liberally poured against the foundation.

After numbering the stations, the tech removes the cap on the bait station and scans both the cap…

…and the bait.

The information is stored and makes their job easy when they come back out to check the stations.

Small holes are drilled into the earth around the perimeter of the house.

Then the bait station is inserted into the hole.

The tech may kick dirt over the station to make it invisible to humans! But, it’s not invisible to termites. Although they are blind, they will find it.

When the termite company returns next year to check on the stations, they can use a special wand detector (like a metal detector) to locate the bait stations (after checking the map saved in the file.)

Want to learn more about termites? The Sentricon blog is full of amazing facts and good information about termites and treatment plans. If you want to find out more about the Sentricon system, you’ll find their FAQ page helpful!

Hopefully I’ve helped educate you on termite treatments. I leave you with these questions: How confident are you with your termite treatment plan? Is it worth risking your home’s health? From past experience I can tell you I’d rather have a prevention plan than a wait and see plan. How about you?

Disclosure: This is a sponsored post for Corteva, the makers of Sentricon. I was provided complimentary termite protection for a year and was compensated for my time and efforts to promote Sentricon. I was not told what to write. All opinions are my own. I am particular about the brands I represent and will always let you know when you are reading a sponsored post.

Millie’s Remodel: HAZMAT Demolition Progress
and Precautions

It took me two weeks, but the HAZMAT demolition process is finally finished. Truth be told, I never wanted demolition to be completed more than on this house. It seemed like every wall I opened and every piece of subfloor I removed lead me down a black hole of more mold, rotted floor joists, and termite damage. I was so anxious to start building back. But, what I wanted more was to turn the air conditioning back on in the house and start a day working in my clothing and not the unbearably hot Tyvek suit and respirator!

Let me back up and explain why the need for full protective gear. I know the house, I affectionately refer to as Millie, was built in 1957. For that reason, I took lots of samples from the ceilings, walls, and floor and had them sent to our local EMSL laboratories. The results from the front exterior came back positive for lead paint. And I knew there was some suspicious mold on the drywall in the laundry room and the kitchen wall. But, little did I know how much mold was hiding in the wall. And therefore, I’m really glad I took the proper precautions during the HAZMAT demolition process.

black mold on drywall

Boy am I thankful I had on all the protective gear. Especially when I discovered hundreds of rusty razor blades in the wall behind the bathroom. I can’t imagine how dangerous it would have been to cut my hand and have mold get into the wound. (Shuttering.)

Removing Lead Paint and Black Mold

Some friends have asked how I safely remove the lead paint and black mold. A month ago I got certified in Lead Safe Renovation, Repair and Painting. It was a full day class, and we learned the protocol for dealing with lead paint dust. The precautions are almost identical for dealing with mold or other hazardous materials in a home. As a licensed general contractor and certified lead paint contractor, I can complete this type of demolition myself (while following the protocol for safe abatement.)

I won’t go into details because dealing with hazardous materials in your home is not a DIY project. The consequences of exposure or poor abatement practices can be hazardous to your health or your family members’ health. I highly recommend hiring a professional who is certified in abatement for mold, asbestos, lead paint or other environmental hazards. If you have a house built in 1980 or earlier, insist on having samples sent to a lab looking for lead or asbestos. You can learn more about asbestos and why it is important to know if your home is at risk here.

Safety Equipment & Demo Tools:

These are the tools I used and the personal protective gear I wore for the demolition.

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

Demo Hammer
Pry Bar
Medium Disposable Tyvek Suit
Anti-Fog Goggles
HEPA Vacuum
Garden Sprayer
Cleaning Wipes

HAZMAT Demolition Time Lapse Video:

Want to watch my time lapse video of the demolition? Enjoy the efforts of three days compressed into just a few minutes.

I wish it felt this short in real life. In actuality it was so hot and the demolition went on for two weeks. A bra and underwear were all I wore underneath the TYVEK suit because it was so incredibly hot in the suit. To protect the house outside the demo area, I had plastic on the floor and the air conditioner turned off to contain any demolition dust and debris. A garden sprayer filled with water was used to carefully spray down each area to keep dust at a minimum.

I found a flat end shovel was one of the best demolition tools (thanks for the idea Melbourne Chippy Chick!) The thin blade slips between the drywall and studs. Then I could press against the opposite drywall for leverage and pop the drywall off the side I worked on (while keeping the back side drywall in tact.)

After the drywall was removed and carefully disposed of in trash bags, I removed all the drywall nails. Then I cleaned and sprayed the wall studs that had mold on them.

Two Chemicals Used for Eliminating Mold:

Mold Cleaner

Mold Killer

Because of all the mold, I had to remove all the drywall between the kitchen and the bathroom and the tile around the tub. I’m so glad I did because I uncovered the source of the rodent access between the crawlspace and the attic. I can only speculate there was an opossum or a raccoon gaining access because of the size of the poop in the attic. Gross!

I also couldn’t believe the toilet didn’t fall into the crawlspace after I removed the tile and found the subfloor crumbled in my fingers.

rotted floor around toilet

Speaking of falling, I also discovered termite damage along the outside band joists of the laundry room. It’s amazing the house wasn’t sagging there.

laundry room floor termite and mold damage

Be sure to watch my video to see the demolition process and the reveal after demolition was finished! You can also find out why I had to add some framing to this small hallway wall.

new subpanel framing

Thank you to the sponsors of Milllie’s Remodel for helping me give this old gal a makeover!

millies remodel sponsors logos

Until the next Millie’s Remodel update! In the meantime, you can follow the real life progress on Instagram and weekly updates on Facebook!

Make sure you are subscribed to my YouTube channel to keep up with the Millie’s Remodel project!

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Millie's Remodel Mini Demo UpdateMillie’s Remodel: Mini Demolition Update

I know it’s been a few weeks since you had an update on the Millie’s Remodel project. If you’re wondering who is Millie and what am I doing to her, you can read more here. Otherwise, let me give you the latest update on mini demolition and share the state of Millie’s Remodel.

With a few family vacations and several weeks of meeting with subcontractors, progress has been slow on the house. However, as you’ll see in my video, there has definitely been progress, but I still have more to do.

Anyone who has been involved in demolition knows a few things about demolition are for certain:

  • It’s fun and great for getting out bottled up aggression.
  • It’s hard work and can give you a better workout than a CrossFit workout.
  • It can be unpredictable and you risk opening a can of worms (or a wall full of razor blades. True story!)
  • Sometimes you discover more damage than you anticipated and have to do more demo.
  • Demolition feels like you are moving backwards instead of making progress.
  • Once you finish demolition, hopefully it’s all progress and building back from that point.

Since purchasing the house, I sold the carport immediately! After the carport was hauled away, the only thing left were several anchor rebar stakes sticking out of the driveway. I must have tripped on them a dozen times until I finally took care of them. It was a quick task cutting them off with my grinder. (Frankly I always like the opportunity to make sparks fly, so I’m not sure why I waited almost two weeks to remove them.)

grind rebar from driveway

The old refrigerator was also easy to sell and the man who picked it up was more interested in poking around the house and giving me his opinion about everything (insert my eye roll here.) He had no idea I’m a general contractor and didn’t need his mansplaining.

Unfortunately, I’m still trying to sell the brand new range. It’s black and has never been used, but I’m replacing all the appliances with stainless steel appliances.

My plumber showed up a few weeks in and helped get the water heater and dishwasher disconnected. He scared the bejeezus out of me by cutting the live electrical wire to the dishwasher because the circuit for it wasn’t labeled. Talk about flying sparks! Luckily we’ll be wiring and plumbing the entire house to bring everything up to code (and you know I’ll label those circuits clearly).

Are you ready for another tour of the Millie’s Remodel project after mini demolition? I can’t wait to give you the plans for the future layout and show you one last look before the major changes happen. Also, I’m giddy about my haul from our local Habitat ReStore! It’s going to really help with my renovation budget!

Watch this video for the mini demolition video and tour of the house:

What did you think? Would you reglaze the tub or replace it? What do you think about my ReStore treasures?

Keep in mind you can always follow the day-to-day snapshots of the project on my Instagram account. And I try to give a weekly Facebook Live update on Fridays (although this week it was on Saturday.) Of course, you definitely want to subscribe to my YouTube channel to see my videos before the blog posts go live:

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Get ready for the next update, it’s gonna be big. I’m all dressed up and ready to bring it to you!

But, I may have shed several pounds after sweating in this get up for two weeks.

Thank you to the sponsors of Milllie’s Remodel for helping me give this old gal a makeover!

millies remodel sponsors logos

Screen Porch Makeover with Invisible Mosquito Screens

I’m incredibly excited about our screen porch makeover with invisible mosquito screens. But, I also can’t wait to share with you the almost invisible insect window screen material I found to replace our old screen porch screens. It’s honestly a night and day difference! Read on and you’ll see! And if you like anything you see, scroll to the end of the article for my source links.

But, before we get to the screens, let me fill you in on the screen porch decorating progression. It has been an ongoing work in progress for twelve years!)

Budget Makeover:

The screen porch is definitely the place we love to hang out. If the weather is nice, one (or all of us) are enjoying sitting outside.

Our porch was one of the things that sold us on this house (in addition to the fact that we used to live across the street and always loved this house before we owned it.) We had longed for a screen porch because anyone who lives in the south knows the mosquitoes, flies, and bugs are no joke. It’s a real nuisance when all you want to do is sit outside but instead you become a mosquito cocktail within minutes.

When we first moved in, we didn’t the cash to furnish the porch because we scraped together all our funds to purchase the house.

Screen Porch Makeover with Invisible Mosquito Screens

But, after a few years I was able to decorate the screen porch using a lot of cheap and found objects. I built the bench using an old headboard and painted a thrift store bamboo rug.

Screen Porch Makeover with Invisible Mosquito Screens

I also turned an old ladder into leaning display shelves and created pendant lights with old minnow traps.

As luck would have it, I stumbled upon a dumpster destined coffee table and (after giving it a new top and paint) it worked beautifully on the porch.

Screen Porch Makeover with Invisible Mosquito Screens

I was proud of my frugal porch furnishings, but after many years of use, I was cravings something new. I also wanted to update the furniture to accommodate more people comfortably.

Screen Porch Makeover 2019:

In the beginning of the summer, I sold all my DIY upcycled furniture except for one piece. I kept this plant stand that was an antique dry sink I scored at a yard sale for $3!

(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

With the cash I made selling my old furniture,  I shopped online until I found the perfect outdoor sofa set from Wayfair. The price was great, but the reviews said it took a long time to assemble. In actuality, it took me less than two hours (with a few breaks in there.)

The sofa is sold with throw pillows that are plain and bright green. I threw them outside onto the deck furniture and went on a quick trip to my local AtHome store to purchase boho inspired pillows.

I also found a little side table from AtHome.

To round out (and maximize) the seating, I bought two stackable modern chairs and cushions from AtHome.

Although my painted bamboo rug was still in good shape, I wanted something more modern and less attention seeking. This rug is an outdoor rug that can be easily cleaned if it gets dirty and it doesn’t mind not being the show stopper.

The other side of the sofa has a garden stool topped with a glass round to make another side table. This might be unconventional, but I wanted a taller plant on the porch. On a whim, I set this cast iron plant on the side table and instantly loved it there. Have no fear, there is still enough room for beverages on the glass round.

With the new furniture set up, the screen porch has become my new favorite spot to work.

But, as I sat on the new furniture working, I looked up and thought, “There is one project I have always wanted to tackle on our screen porch…”

“…the ceiling.”

The wood ceiling has called for a fresh coat of light blue paint since we bought the house (about twelve years ago.) But, I never got around to it. I decided the new furniture would look so much better with a painted ceiling. Am I right?

Light Blue Painted Porch Ceiling:

Unfortunately, I was too busy working on the Millie’s Remodel project to do it myself, so I contacted my painter. He gave me a price I couldn’t turn down and I gladly turned over the task to him.

Luckily our Hunter fan still looks amazing with the light blue ceiling.

I also had him paint the rest of the porch rails and trim white because it was in need of a fresh coat. He and his partner had to remove all the screens to paint the railings. When I saw how amazing the view was without screens, I decided to look for some of the nearly invisible mosquito screens I have seen on house tours.

Nearly Invisible Mosquito Screens:

After installing the first panel I was speechless. The difference was almost day and night! The old screens are on the left and the new on the right.

But, here’s where you can really see the difference:

The screen door still has the old screens. See how much darker and fuzzier the view is? I purchased the BetterVue Nearly Invisible Insect Screens from Amazon and could not be happier!

Need more proof? Here’s the scene through the old screens:

And now through the new screens:

There is no photoshop or trickery there, you can clearly see the difference the new screens make.

The Finishing Touches:

For decor, I kept it simple. A few magazines and a piece of driftwood in a tray.

Fresh cut hydrangeas fill a big vase.

Unfortunately the ones still outside are turning brown in the hot summer sun.

Our rope hammock gets lots of use. It’s definitely a favorite for the kids and the adults.

Especially when you can nap and listen to the low tones of the wind chime my family gave me for Mother’s Day one year.

Do you love my screen porch makeover? Look at how much light comes through those new insect screens!

When the weather isn’t insanely hot and humid, you will likely find me here:

I hope you enjoyed my Screen Porch Makeover with Invisible Mosquito Screens.

Here’s a fun video I made showing you how quiet and beautiful it is on the porch.

Screen Porch Makeover with Invisible Mosquito Screens Sources:

And if you liked anything you saw, here is a list of my sources for the screen porch furniture, decor, and of course the nearly invisible screens!

Nearly Invisible Insect & Mosquito Screen Replacement Roll

Sources to Achieve My Boho Screen Porch Look:

5 Piece Outdoor Rattan Sectional
Gray Modern Stackable Chairs (similar)
Navy Seat Cushions
Mullen Gray/Navy Indoor Outdoor Herringbone Rug
White Ceramic Lattice Garden Stool
18″ Round Glass Table Top

Square Planter Pot (similar)
Deep Tone Wind Chimes
Pawley’s Island Rope Hammock
Aqua Stripe Turkish Towel (similar)
Hobnail Planter Pot (similar look)
Hunter Caneel Bay Outdoor Ceiling Fan
Copper Tray

Similar Outdoor Pillows:
Fringed Pillow
Macrame Pillow
Tribal Diamond Pillow
Navy Tribal Ikat Pillow

Hope you got some great ideas and hope you are enjoying some outside time where you are!

We recently completed Habitat for Humanity Bathroom Renovations in a Weekend.

I don’t usually work for others, but when the executives at my local Habitat for Humanity office asked me to come in and take a look at their dated bathrooms, I said I could. But, I quickly stated I don’t traditionally offer my general contractor services to anyone. Most of you know that Habitat for Humanity is one of my top charities. And for good reason! Our local Habitat for Humanity has built over 600 homes to help address the affordable housing crisis in our area. I would do anything for this organization, but renovating two bathrooms wasn’t a job I’d usually tackle unless it was for one of my own properties.

However, when I saw their sad and dated twin bathrooms, I changed my mind about offering my services. I knew I could improve the bathrooms as a way of thanking the employees for the work they do for our community. I also knew it would be a great way to keep busy before closing on Millie’s Remodel. Between Habitat for Humanity’s calendar and mine, we finally settled on the last weekend before I signed the contract on Millie.

In my head, I thought it would be a quick two day renovation easily accomplished over a weekend. Instead, it turned into a four day marathon working into the evening on two of those days. In an effort to explain my faulty time estimation skills, I submit two facts:

  1. I’m an overly optimistic person. I will always see the glass half full.
  2. I’m not the sharpest math person and forgot to multiply my time by two for two bathrooms.

Oops! Luckily, I got some help from two local friends: Sophie from @TheHipperFam and Stephanie from @UncommonOutpost. Without their help, I might still be working on these bathrooms.

The Before:

Although the pictures look dark, what you can’t see in these photos is the horrible flickering fluorescent light fixtures. The lighting was so dismal, I knew I had to change out the fixtures. Because no matter what updates were made, the lighting would always act as a wet blanket on the new look.

The old vanities were both built for handicap accessibility which left no room for storage under the sinks. Therefore, each bathroom had a ReStore salvaged kitchen cart to make up for the lack of storage. But, the carts were dirty and looked out of place in the bathrooms. I knew I had to come up with a plan to get rid of them.

Speaking of dirty, the walls definitely needed a new coat of paint. The grime and scuffs were everywhere.

The Design:

For the design plans, I challenged myself to work within a small budget and use as many items as possible from the Habitat ReStore. With this in mind, I created a plan in Photoshop and submitted it to Habitat for Humanity for approval.

Luckily they loved the design idea and gave me the go ahead to renovate the bathrooms. But, I kept a few things secret from them. After all, what fun is a makeover project without a little surprise, right?!

The Renovation Plan:

  • Electrician to replace CFL tube lights with LED Recessed Can Lights
  • Pretty Handy Girl build storage cabinet and one handicap sink frame
  • Plumber to Remove Sinks and Toilets
  • Remove all Fixtures from Bathroom
  • Remove Flexible Vinyl Baseboards
  • Clean and Patch Walls
  • Clean floor with TSP Cleaner
  • Paint Walls
  • Lay Waterproof LVT Flooring
  • Sand and Prep Reclaimed Lumber
  • Install Reclaimed Wood Wall
  • Install Vanities
  • Add Wood Baseboards and Paint
  • Plumber Replaces Toilets and Installs Faucets
  • Add Mirrors, Art, and Replace Fixtures
  • Stand back and admire the renovation results (and snap a few pictures)

Let the Habitat for Humanity Bathroom Renovations Begin:

A few days before I started the renovation, my electrician stopped by the offices to swap out the old fluorescent lights with brighter (and less flickery) recessed LED lights. Immediately the room felt brighter, but it wasn’t as bright as I had hoped. To help lighten the space more, I chose light paint shades for the walls. The colors I selected are from Magnolia Home Paint Line because I loved working with the paint in the Saving Etta house.

The handicap accessible bathroom was painted Carter Creme. I knew this color would look beautiful with the reclaimed wood wall and add a little warmth to the room.

Carter Creme paint color by Magnolia Home Paint

I would have liked to use the same color in the other bathroom, but the vanity color  was already a cream color and I didn’t want to draw attention to the slightly dated vanity color (or accidentally match it). Using Cloudy Gray, a paint color with cool tones, helped tone down the warmth of the vanity and provided some contrast.

Cloudy Gray paint color walls by Magnolia Home Paint

Both paint colors were light enough to do wonders for improving the light in the windowless bathrooms.

After painting, Sophie and I worked the afternoon to lay LVT waterproof flooring (also from the ReStore) in one bathroom. The flooring went in very easily, but we did have to slow down to cut around the toilet flange and the doorway.

After Sophie left, I tackled the second bathroom floor, working late into the night. It’s amazing what a difference the new waterproof LVT flooring made in these bathrooms.

On Sunday, Stephanie helped sand and prep reclaimed lumber from the ReStore for installation. We ran out of weathered boards, so had to improvise with a vinegar and steel wool concoction I whipped up the night before. My friend, DIY Pete, has a great tutorial for making this solution here. After the boards were dry, she and I clad the back walls of the bathrooms with the reclaimed lumber.

To achieve the striped look, we alternated the weathered side with the protected side of the wood. These boards were originally subflooring in an old house, so they have lots of character, nail holes, and a beautiful warm color. To protect the boards from water and to keep them from flaking, we coated them with a clear varnish.

Finally on the afternoon of Day 4, I gave my plumber the go ahead to come back to install the new toilets (courtesy of Wilkinson Supply Co.) and the sink faucets. Stephanie and I worked feverishly ahead of him trying to hang the mirrors and art.

We replaced the dated oak mirrors with pretty gold framed ones. I found the first mirror super cheap at a thrift store.

The other one was a gold art frame from the ReStore. I replaced the picture with mirrored glass and it looks like it was always a mirror!

This is a little message area was created by screwing two drawers (salvaged from the ReStore) together and adding cork and a clip board.

The handicap bathroom needed additional storage since it didn’t have a sink cabinet. To solve the issue, I built this little wall cabinet using an old window from the ReStore.

Then I added a little reclaimed door latch to keep the door closed. Hooks on the side are for hanging up a purse or light jacket.

Two Bathrooms in One Weekend – The Reveal:

Are you ready to see the final results? First here’s a reminder of what the bathroom looked like four days earlier. (The new LED light was already installed by my electrician in this photo.)

Habitat for Humanity Bathroom Renovations

And here’s what the same bathroom looks like now!

Originally I thought we could secure the sink base to the studs. But, after discovering the studs were all metal, we decided to add one leg to the front corner of the sink apron for more support.

The art quotes were created by reusing ReStore art frames. I simply created some watercolor art and added the quote in Photoshop.

Habitat for Humanity Bathroom Renovations

The twin bathroom looked like this before:

And now!

The sink vanity was from the ReStore. We were lucky the Raleigh ReStore has a huge selection of donated cabinets.

Habitat for Humanity Bathroom Renovations

I documented the entire renovation on video, hopefully, you’ll enjoy watching the whole Habitat for Humanity Bathroom Renovations process.

Want to Help Habitat for Humanity and Work Along Side Me?

Have you ever wished you could work next to me? Learn some tricks and tips of the trade? Well, now you can! I’ve signed up to volunteer for this year’s Women Build, She Nailed It Campaign with our local Habitat. This is a one day opportunity to help build a house with ALL WOMEN! Don’t be intimidated, you won’t be asked to do anything you aren’t comfortable with. But, you may gain a little empowerment and learn a new skill or two!

Habitat for Humanity Women Build Charlotte, NC | Pretty Handy Girl

The date is Saturday, September 28th in Wake Forest and I’d love to meet you there and share a day of swinging hammers. What do you say? Want to join me? If you can’t, but still want to contribute, please make a donation to the Women Build Campaign. Even the smallest donation will help us accomplish our goal.

Again, I have to give a huge shout out to Sophie from @TheHipperFam and Stephanie from @UncommonOutpost who came to help me on this project and gave up their weekend. Also, a big thank you to ALM Plumbing and Wilkinson Supply Co. for donating the toilets.

I hope you liked the video. If you aren’t subscribed to my YouTube channel, definitely do so now to stay up to date on all my tutorials and renovation projects!

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See you all soon.

Be sure to pin this image to share how to accomplish a bathroom renovation in one weekend!


Millie’s Remodel: A 1950’s Ranch Renovation

This is my latest home renovation project and another opportunity to use my general contracting skills to turn a dated and neglected house into a beautiful new home. Follow along with Millie’s Remodel: A 1950’s Ranch Renovation.

It’s been about six months since I picked up a hammer and worked on a house project. After the Saving Etta project finished, I took some much needed time off from house building and enjoyed the holidays with my family. But, after a month or so, I found myself getting antsy. If I’m going to be honest, I was actually feeling a little melancholy without something to do. While planning on some major upgrades to my own house, I kept my eye out for another house to flip. There were several contenders, but my offers were not accepted. Unfortunately the investors’ real estate market in Raleigh is HOT. Meaning there are lots of investors and houses for sale, but the prices have been pushed too high for me to make a profit on a flip house.

After several months, I began to think about changing my profit equation and began looking for a rental property. This would allow me to adjust my budget and look for houses in up and coming neighborhoods that could be renovated and rented while waiting for the value to go up.

About a month ago, a little brick ranch popped up in my real estate search. Actually there were two brick ranches, but after touring both, this quaint 1950’s brick ranch appealed to me more.

The carport isn’t exactly adding much charm, so I plan to sell it as soon as I can.

The living room/dining room is separated by carpeting and laminate flooring. The goal will be to integrate the two and make it feel more like one open room.

Millie's Remodel: Living Room Before

I peeked underneath the carpet and laminate to discover wood floors under both! Unfortunately, the laminate was covering glue down linoleum and the wood flooring is underneath that. Before I can start demolition I’ll need to test for asbestos.

The kitchen is small and cramped with two doorways leading into it.

I’m hoping we can remove the corner wall behind the refrigerator and open it up to the living area. This should provide a nice open concept kitchen and bring more light into the kitchen. But, first I’ll consult with my structural engineer.

All three bedrooms are approximately the same. This is the smallest bedroom with only one window. As I did in the living room, I pulled back the carpeting to reveal wood floors underneath. Hooray! They look like they are in rough shape, but can probably be refinished.

The second bedroom is slightly larger and has two windows providing lots of light.

Bedroom number three is at the back of the house and could have a nice view of the backyard, if we move the shed (you’ll see a picture soon.)

The only bathroom in the house really needs to be brought into this century.

Although the tile floor looks structurally sound, the tile is cracking and sinking under the toilet, so we’ll need to address that. Also, the vanity is one of the shortest vanities I’ve ever stood in front of. I have big plans for this bathroom, including trying to save the old cast iron tub.

One of the plans I have is to add a small powder room in the current laundry room. Be sure to watch this video to see where this will happen.

Here’s a view of the backyard. You can see the ugly eyesore of a shed behind the house. It’s definitely ugly and in need of some TLC or just a complete demolition.

The deck on the back of the house was built off the back landing. It’s not beautiful but it seems to be structurally sound (or will be after I add some extra structural screws to the posts), so I’ll leave it as is.

The biggest issue with the house is the very old HVAC unit. My inspector advised me not to run the heat because the combustion fan doesn’t work and this is a big safety issue.

That completes the photo tour. If you’d like to see inside the house and hear my ideas for the renovation, watch this video:

I can’t wait to hear your feedback about this project. What do you think of the house? Any ideas for me?

Thank you to the sponsors of Milllie’s Remodel for helping me give this old gal a makeover!

millies remodel sponsors logos

See ya later with more updates soon.

How to Stretch Tight ShoesHow to Stretch Tight Shoes

Have you ever bought a pair of shoes because they were super cute, but they were a tad too tight. If you’re like me, you probably bought them and thought, “They’ll stretch out if I wear them enough.” Then a year or two later you put them on and remember why you don’t wear those shoes. They are just too tight. Frankly life is too short to wear uncomfortable shoes!  I’m sure you are thinking, “Are you telling me to get rid of my uncomfortable shoes?” On the contrary, most too tight shoes can be stretched. Today I’ll show you how to Stretch those Tight Shoes and start wearing them comfortably!


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

shoe stretcher materials


I created this short video for you to see how easy it is to stretch your own shoes. Let me know if you have any questions after watching the video.

Step 1: Determine Tight Areas

Determine where the tight areas on your shoe are. If your shoe stretchers have plugs, you can add them to the stretchers for maximum stretching in those areas.

Step 2: Use Stretcher

To loosen leather shoes, you may want to use a Shoe Stretching spray. Spray inside the shoe. Turn the knob on the stretcher to adjust the heel stretcher. Insert the shoe stretchers into your shoe. Tighten the heel knob. Then turn the metal rod until the stretchers are as wide as they can get in your shoes.

Step 3: Set in Warm Area and Wait

Set the shoes in the sun or leave them in a warm area for 24 – 48 hours. It’s a good idea to check your shoes after 24 hours. After 24 hours my shoes were still a little big snug. I left the stretches in for another 24 hours and set them in the sun because the heat helps stretch leather.

Step 4: Try Them On Again

Time to try your shoes on. If they are still too tight. Spray the stretching spray and turn the shoe stretchers to stretch more. Wait another 24 hours.

silver clogs on table

I’m so happy I can wear these clogs comfortably! And now I can stretch any future cute shoes I buy (within reason.)

Do you have a pair of tight shoes you want to try this on? Get to it, those shoes want to be worn.

3 Ways to Shorten Light Fixtures for Low Ceilings

Hey all, do you have eight foot ceilings or lower? Have you lamented the fact that the light fixtures you love will be too tall for your height-challenged ceilings? Well put that light fixture back in your cart because I’m here today to show you how to make light fixtures work for your low ceilings with 3 Ways to Shorten Light Fixtures for Low Ceilings.

I may only be 5’6″ tall, but my brother-in-law is 6’4″ and my own brothers are both well above six feet tall. Recently my brother-in-law was visiting and he hit his head on our foyer light. He told me it’s an annual occurrence. I was mortified he never told me he hits his head every time he visits! Immediately I got to work shortening the light fixture.

I measured the light and then raised it an inch taller than his height.

Ways to Shorten Light Fixtures

At the same time, I had been contemplating changing our mudroom light fixtures. I was growing tired of them and wanted something that would cast more light in the room. I found the perfect pendant lights, but knew I’d have to alter them to make them shorter for our low ceilings.

To shorten light fixtures, you’ll need a few supplies.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)


Solution 1: Contact the Manufacturer

To shorten a light fixture, you can contact the manufacturer and ask if they can provide you with a shorter down rod or parts to assist you with reducing the height of the fixture. For the Kichler Pendant light I purchased, the customer service rep was able to locate a shorter down rod,  a threaded loop, and a chain which allowed me options for shortening the fixture.

down rod lengths

Solution 2: Use Chain instead of a Down Rod

Your second option for shortening a light fixture is to use a chain and remove links until you achieve the desired height.

If your light fixture doesn’t come with a chain, you can purchase some in a variety of finishes at your home improvement store.

Did you know removing links can be done easily by using two screwdrivers or pliers and a screwdriver to push in opposite directions against the inside of a link to open it up.

To close the links, use the pliers to squeeze the link ends back together. After your chain is the appropriate length, feed the wires through the links and the threaded loop in your light fixture.

Solution 3: Make Your Own Connector

Occasionally a light fixture may still be too tall (or your ceilings too low) and you may need to remove the chain or down rod all together and make your own connector.

First measure the finished height you want your fixture to be. Remove the chain and/or down rod. Feed the excess wire through the threaded loop. Attach the light fixture directly to the threaded loop with a quick link, or you can use heavy gauge wire to create your own link. (Watch the video below to see how.)

Hopefully one of those 3 Ways to Shorten Light Fixtures for Low Ceilings will work for you. Let me know if you found this tutorial helpful!

If you want more details on how to install a pendant light, I have several tutorials in my Electrical category.

Or you might find one of these tutorials helpful:

3 Ways to Shorten Light Fixtures

How to Install a Wired Pendant Light


Convert a Recessed Light to Accept a Hardwire Fixture | Pretty Handy Girl

How to Install a Hard-Wired Pendant in a Recessed Can Light

How to Install Privacy Film on WindowsHow to Install Privacy Film on Windows

Do you have a window in your house that puts you on full display? Or maybe your neighbor’s house is very close to your’s and you feel like they can see in your window (especially a bathroom or bedroom window.) Sure you can add curtains or blinds, but then you won’t get the natural light you want from your windows. Today I have the solution to your privacy needs without blocking the light. Let me show you how easy it is to install privacy film to your windows with professional looking results.


(I’ve included affiliate links for your convenience. I earn a small percentage from a purchase using these links. There is no additional cost to you. You can read more about affiliate links here.)

About the Privacy Film:

Before we begin, I have to tell you when Stick Pretty approached me about using their product I was thrilled to find they have some very attractive options for privacy film! Those of us that shop at the big home improvement stores know the options for privacy film are fairly limited. Feast your eyes on just a few of the beautiful adhesive film patterns Stick Pretty has to offer:

And there is a semi-transparent option for blurred viewing (less opaque.)

That’s not all. You can also order any of the patterns in a sheer adhesive film to dress up your windows. All the adhesive window films are customizable with white, fog, mushroom, or black designs.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Stick Pretty also sells tile decals (to brighten your tiles or cover up ugly tiles.)

And they offer decorative adhesive panels for use on walls, furniture, or anywhere your imagination can think of.

If you find yourself falling in love with any of the products on the Stick Pretty website, don’t forget to get 20% OFF your order if you use the code: “PrettyHandyGirl” at checkout.

Now, on to the tutorial for installing privacy film on  your windows.


Watch this quick video to see how easy it is to install privacy film to any window.

Step 1. Clean

Use glass cleaner and a lint free rag to clean the window really well. Make sure there’s nothing on the glass that will stick under the adhesive film (which would stick there forever until you take it off).

Step 2. Measure & Cut

Measure each pane of glass on your window. Add 1/8 of an inch, because it’s better to cut the film too big. We will cut off the excess at the end.

Transfer your measurements onto the privacy film. Use a sharp x-acto blade and a metal ruler to guide your cuts. Apply gentle pressure as you cut the film.

3. Installing the Privacy Film

Carefully peel up your privacy film and take it to the window immediately. If you wait, dust can settle onto your film.

The key to a really good adherence of the film to the window (with no bubbles or wrinkles) is to use a mixture of water and a few drops of dish soap in a spray bottle.

It also helps to use a good squeegee.

Spray a liberal amount of the water and soap mixture onto the glass. If you find the film sticking too much to the glass, spray more of the mixture onto the glass.

Line up the film at the top. Using your hands, push from the center, down and out to set the privacy film. If needed, lift the film and reposition.

Use the squeegee to push out any water and air bubbles. Again, working from the center out and top down.

Use a clean rag and run it along the edges to clean up any water that has squirted out.

Step 4. Trimming Excess

If your film is too large and overlaps off the glass, take a sharp x-acto knife and cut off the excess. Peel off the trimmed excess.

Then squeegee the film again and clean it up any water from the edges.

You can see the difference between the regular window glass and the glass with privacy film on it below.

Half installed window privacy film see the difference

After installing your privacy film, you may see some ghosting between the film and the window. As long as you have pushed all the air bubbles out of the film, the ghosting should go away after a few days. (Can you spot the ghost spots in the picture below? Within 48 hours they had disappeared.)

Hopefully this tutorial will help someone reclaim some privacy in their home without giving up natural light! Pin this image to share with a friend:

How to Install Privacy Film on Windows

Friends, I have a question for you:

I decided to let the video tutorial guide you through the process on this tutorial instead of the usual step-by-step photos. Let me know what you think and if you miss the photos when there is a video tutorial. Thanks for your feedback.

Disclosure: Stick Pretty sent me the privacy film at no cost to try out on the Saving Etta project. I was not told what to say. All opinions are my own. If you use the coupon code: “PrettyHandyGirl” on the website, you will receive a discount and I will receive a small percentage of the sale. As always, I am very particular about the brands I represent on this website and will always let you know if you are reading a sponsored post or if I received free materials.

If you liked this tutorial and want to add a layer of security to your glass doors or windows, you’ll appreciate my tutorial for adding security film to your home.

How to Add Security Film to Glass Doors & Windows | Pretty Handy Girl