Closing In On Ten Years (The Challenge & How I’m Handling It)

Yesterday’s post really struck a chord with many people, not because of the awesome home improvement tips that I provided 😀 , but because I mentioned that Matt and I are closing in on ten years in this house. TEN YEARS!

We bought the house in August 2013, and even though we didn’t move in right away, I did get started pretty quickly on some big projects, like removing all of the carpet, removing the hallway closet, and refinishing the floors.

Entryway and dining room with old carpet removed and original hardwood floors refinished, from

I know that many of you have been with me from the beginning, which just blows my mind. Y’all have stuck with me through all of my indecision, all of my mind changing and flip flopping, all of my trials and errors, all of my redoing projects, but also all of my DIY victories. You’ve stuck with me as I’ve worked my way, slowly but surely, from one room to the next, tearing rooms down to the studs, ceiling joists, and sometimes the floor joists, and rebuilding them (with help at times, obviously).

It’s been a long, sometimes challenging, sometimes exhausting, but very rewarding process for me. But seeing that 10-year mark coming closer and closer into view really has me taking on a somewhat different mindset. When we bought the house, I was certain I wanted to DIY all the things, and do everything as inexpensively as possible. Well, I’m at the point now that I just want it done.

The bottom line: I want to be finished with all of the interior rooms of the house as it currently stands (i.e., obviously not including the addition) by our ten year anniversary in our home. That’s almost exactly six months from today.

So my plan is to keep that goal at the forefront of my mind until I reach that finish line. And with that goal in mind, here are a few recent decisions and purchases…

Home Gym Flooring

I’ve had several people ask me why I’m not just refinishing the hardwood floor in the home gym. The reason is time, money, and effort. I want our home gym finished ASAP, and spending time on the floor just isn’t in my time budget right now.

If you’ll remember, the hardwood floor in that room has issues. There was the one floor board that looked like it was being eaten by some sort of fungus. (I never saw any evidence of bugs.)

So I took that board up and filled it with dense foam. The floor also has a big stain, and I’m pretty sure there are two different kinds of flooring in that room. This is the one room where the flooring has only been refinished once, and it was refinished the first time I sanded and finished the floors before we moved in in 2013. The hardwood floors in the rest of the house turned out great. But this room was the exception because it looked like part of the flooring had been replaced with a different species of wood, and they didn’t match.

All that to say that it wouldn’t be a matter of simply refinishing the existing floor. I would want this floor completely replaced. And if the flooring is coming up, I would want the subfloor replaced, too. This house was built before plywood subfloors were a thing. So the subfloor under the original flooring in this house is 1″ x 10″ lumber, and some of it has big knot holes, and even pieces that are broken out completely. This is the subfloor in the closet area of the home gym…

home gym floor - 4

So if the floor is replaced, the subfloor will also be replaced. And that’s just not something I want to take on right now. I’m not concerned at all about the strength of the floor in this room. It’s been holding up fine for over 70 years, and I’m sure it could continue on for many more decades. But I’m not the least bit interested right now in spending time, effort, or money in trying to make it pretty.

I’d much rather just cover it with carpet tiles, and I think that’s an appropriate solution for a home gym floor. And I’ve already purchased what I’ll be using. I decided on Flor carpet tiles in the pattern called Rush Street in black.

It has a very subtle stripe (similar to the subtle pattern of the foam floor tiles that are currently in the room), which gives some nice variation so that it’s not just a solid black. I think it’ll look great with the walls. It’s supposed to be delivered Thursday, so I’m hoping to make good headway on the installation on Friday and Saturday.

The Swedish Ladder

I had been planning on building a Swedish ladder for the home gym. That’s the whole purpose of this wide stripe between the two windows. That spot is specifically designated for the Swedish ladder that I had planned to build.

Well, I didn’t change my mind on wanting a Swedish ladder, but I did change my mind on building it myself. I’m on a roll, and I want this room finished ASAP (not only just to be done so I can check it off of my “to do” list, but also so that we can start using it fully), and I didn’t want to drag it out while trying to figure out exactly how to build this thing.

Plus, I just wasn’t so sure about how durable a DIY version would be. So I decided to buy one. I also decided to go with a very strong, heavy duty one that I know will be safe.

I bought this 78″ x 26″ commercial grade stall bars from The Beam Store.

The additional cost was worth the peace of mind knowing that this thing is very well built and incredibly strong. And they ship very quickly! It’ll be here tomorrow. I won’t be able to install it until after the flooring goes in, but at least it’ll be here and ready.

Studio Cabinets

I feel like I’ve weighed every possibility out there, and with my new goal of having everything finished by mid-August, I’m about 95% sure that I’m going to make IKEA cabinets work.

Ikea Pax wardrobes for builtins in studio - desk wall

I had convinced myself previous that IKEA cabinets just wouldn’t work for this room. But that was also when I was in the dreaming and planning stage, and I wanted everything to be perfectly customized to my every need and want. But now that the project is looming, as is that August goal, my thought process is a little different.

After going through the designing process with Shelf Help, and seeing how much just the plywood for the cabinet carcasses would cost, and estimating how much it would cost me to finish out those carcasses with trim, doors, etc., I decided to go back and give IKEA another look. Well, in comparison, the IKEA prices look pretty good. And they do have some really great options for customizing the look and function of the various cabinets.

The only issue is going to be sizing. But if I can get past the sizing hurdle (i.e., if I can find the correct widths to work around my windows), then I think I can be happy with IKEA cabinets in the studio. I just need to decide on the exact configuration and get them ordered ASAP because it looks l like some of them are out of stock for a few weeks.

So the main goal is to be finished by August! If that means DIYing fewer things, and ordering more ready-made things, I’m okay with that. There will still be plenty of DIYing along the way.

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  1. Kristi, just remember, “Home” wasn’t built in a day. Our 10-year anniversary with our restoring an old farmhouse and farm whizzed by almost 2 years ago and we still have a ton of things to do…you always will. Keep on trucking, you are one amazing woman, and what you are doing cannot, and should not be rushed.

  2. You and your projects are just amazing! You should really give thought to writing a book showing us single ladies how to do these things! I would love to be able to remodel but don’t have a clue about things like this!

  3. You are awesome! I have been reading your posts for a couple of years with great admiration. Your courage on taking on this huge project is to be admired. You lady, are quite the roll model!

    Keep up the good work!

  4. Congrats on 10 years of really inspiring content. I haven’t been here for 10 years, but you always amaze me and make me feel like I can do stuff too.

  5. Hi Kristi, I think you are on the right track with buying the Swedish ladder, sturdy and quick could be more important than the satisfaction of diy in this case. But I’m a little worried about your cabinets. Its so easy to get impatient at the semi-end of a huge long term project. You just want it Done. I’m just not sure you will be happy with Ikea “almost right ” cabinets. What’s that saying, “if you don’t have the time/money to do it right the first time, how will you get it redone”? Have you tried to find a local lumberyard or even hiring a carpenter to cut your plywood to size and delivering it? That might be lots more affordable than Shelf Help and you do the build. I feel like you will be much happier in the end if your cabinets are up to your usual high standards. Even if you come in a little over deadline, this is still a big win for you. Very few people have the drive, abilities, and desire to learn and do all you have accomplished. You are my idol, mentor, and inspiration, not to mention friend I’ve never met. I’m so glad I found your blog. It gives me hope! Happy Valentine’s day to you and Matt!

    1. I agree Jill. I worry that Kristi will use the Ikea cabinets just to hit the deadline and then not be happy with them. And we all know that Kristi has no issues redoing something until it is right (that is a compliment by the way). I’ve been following a little over 10 years and have enjoyed Kristi brining this home back to life with her vision for it.

    2. I have a combination of IKEA cabinetry and some custom infill pieces in my kitchen.

      IKEA cabinetry has changed considerably since I installed mine and the main change has been an increase in the numerous configurations of sizes, drawer options and shelving.

      The cabinetry now is amazingly flexible for varying layouts and needs – and not necessarily confined to kitchens – and I think Kristi will have no issue at all with it even if she needs to incorporate some custom work to accommodate her dimensions and needs.

      There are also several companies that make door/drawer fronts to fit IKEA cabinetry and hardware that expand the range of looks for the faces – although Kristi is perfectly capable of doing her own or adding custom details to the IKEA offerings if she desires.

  6. I used those carpet tiles in my office and they have worked out great. So easy to put down, low pile so easy to vacuum and I can replace one if something should happen to it, like my rolling chair in the same spot. I love the idea of using IKea cabinets. They look so nice and will have you so much work and time. Good luck. It will look stunning as always.

  7. Hi Kristi!

    We built and installed IKEA cabinets in our kitchen last summer and we couldn’t be happier. They don’t fit perfectly but we have used small transition strips and I don’t even see them. Overall, getting the transition strips to fit was the hardest part of finishing the kitchen. The cabinets are so wonderfully customized. I used drawers for all my bottom cabinets and have a wall of units that are also filled with drawers. They are super easy to clean and we consider them one of the best decisions we have made during our renovation. They also have a 25 year warranty and the fronts and side panels can be switched out should we get bored with our current design. I think you will love them.

    1. I also have some IKEA bookcases – at least 10 years old and still in great shape. This week I’m going to the nearest IKEA (2-1/2 hours away) to pick up some additional pieces that match what I used to build a work table for my craft room. They are a very pretty gray-turquoise, and while they still have that color, I want to add a few cabinets, and replace my desk as it is all in my craft room. The pieces will work together well, and I will love having them match. Sometimes they are a bear for me to put together…but my husband does great. He can also make them work with our space. Looking forward! AND, looking forward to what Kristi picks to work in her studio. I have LOVED their kitchens for a long time…such incredible choices for the storage areas. To go through one of their kitchens, and open every area is amazing…better storage than anything I have even thought of!

  8. I am relatively new following you and I love your work from planning to changes to completion. Some things are a process and you work through them. I had suggested LVP flooring but after reading about FLOR tiles and seeing what you selected, I think you will be very happy with them and they will look stunning with the subtle stripes. I can’t wait to see the room finished. As for the IKEA cabinets, there is zero doubt in mind that they will look custom when you are done with them. And if you go with something else, no doubt it will look fantastic. You truly are an inspiration to someone like me with very little talent but have small projects that need to be completed.

  9. I started following you at the condo, and over time, have learned a ton from you, and borrowed a bunch of your ideas for my houses. (I have a gypsy soul and tend to move every 5-6 years). I like the ikea cabinets, particularly the kitchen ones. I’ve had my eye on a specific kitchen plan at our nearest store for ages. I think you will like them, especially knowing you’re saving money and will get the near instant gratification when you install them.

  10. Excellent call on the flooring, Swedish ladder, and IKEA shelving! I have bought many iterations of Billy bookcases for several homes over the years and they have held up remarkably well, even loaded with lots of books, and they always looked nice! I’m glad you’ve decided to spend the money to make your life ease and finish your projects sooner! 💕

  11. I started following you when you were still in the condo! It has been a fun, amazing, educational and interesting ride.
    Thank you for being you!

  12. Glad to hear you checked out the IKEA cabinets again and you can make them work! Let me tell you a few things about them from my experience (I built my kitchen using them), but please keep in mind I’m in Europe (though it shouldn’t make any real difference since it’s IKEA – you will have to convert units if you want to, though you can just see them on your own website).

    First of all, the cabinets are all standard sizes (at least for Europe), and as such, you can put other companies’ mechanisms inside just fine. I didn’t like IKEA’s wire drawers at all, so I just bought a French company’s stuff (Leroy Merlin) – the width matches perfectly. I also bought their aluminum pans that can be placed at the bottom of sink cabinets – also a perfect match width-wise. Had also checked some expensive brand of mechanisms before buying, and again, standard widths, perfect match.

    What is different is that IKEA’s benches are a bit deeper (in part because of the way the cabinets are hung onto the walls, even the bottom cabinets – though this is optional), so I couldn’t use just any countertop from other brands; the difference was only 3 cm though, so I bought the countertops that are meant for islands and are finished on both edges and used those (because again, I didn’t want IKEA’s countertops; I didn’t like how you join them to make corners). I also made sure to screw the bottom shelves with extra screws of my own, to make sure they are very sturdy. And lastly, I bought privacy films for the glass doors, and ofc my own handles. All in all, you can customize them quite easily. The sizes rise in 20cm increments, so again, you can fit most spaces (especially in your case, when you don’t have an exact length you are trying to fill with cabinets).

    The last thing to know is that they show you lots of complete cabinets in their webpages, but in reality, they are all separate parts. The boxes that make up the cabinet itself are the Metod series (some mechanisms get the same name, but when you see something like “Metod-Bodbyn” metod is the cabinet, Bodbyn is the door design). It is MUCH easier to use their designer tool, where you will see the cabinet and can switch the doors on it, rather than browse their catalogue. But basically you have the boxes starting from 20cm and going up towards either 100 or 120, don’t remember, in 20cm increments. Once I understood that, I was able to work out my own plans quite easily (I also found some older catalogue that had this diagram in it: ).

    There are also lots of companies that sell customization kits for IKEA furniture, so I’m sure you could find something like that if you wanted. Pretty sure you could even add your own doors, do whatever, they are pretty plain boxes, either the black or the white ones – everything else you see in the photos is just a combo of separate parts. And they also have little buttons to close the holes you are not using for your shelves, so if you have open cabinets they look good.

    But the best part about IKEA, and the reason I chose them, is that you can make modifications and repairs easily. Their previous line of kitchens was out for 20 years or something, so along the road, if I want to change a door, or a cabinet (like removing the washing machine and replacing it with a cabinet), I can just drop by the shop and get an exact replacement in a matter of a couple of hours. My mom had a custom-built kitchen, and when their hood died, they couldn’t replace it because their cabinets sizes were non-standard. I’ll take my cheap, standard-sized, kitchen, thank you! And if I get bored with it (unlikely) I could still drop by the shop, buy new doors, and have everything replaced in a couple of hours – new kitchen look in zero time, essentially. I THOUGHT it would be nice to have drawer inserts that are made specifically for my kitchen, but in the end I didn’t even use that.

    Hope this helps! Can’t wait to see what you come up with!

      1. I mentioned this upthread – I have a combination of IKEA cabinets and some custom infill pieces and I have nothing but praise for the IKEA lines. My ex and I did our own door and drawer fronts because none of the offerings at the time appealed to us.

        My carcasses are 22 years old and they have since changed the line slightly – but – I was able to replace my sink cabinet when I put new counters in a couple of years ago (I had some water damage) and my old doors fit perfectly with the addition of a couple of new screw holes for the hinges (which are also IKEA hardware).

  13. I’m glad you found flooring that will work for you. I look forward to seeing it installed. I think your decision on the the pre-made Swedish ladder is a good one and will definitely help you reach the Finished line on your gym. I have no experience with Ikea anything but no doubt you will get what you need for the studio. Happy Valentine’s Day and happy doing!

  14. Kristi I have been with you from maybe almost the beginning…if not close after. I am now 78 years old. I can no longer do any DIY large projects. But following you has not always been just that anyway. You are a good and strong person and I enjoy watching and following you for that very reason. It is like watching a daughter do her thing. I care about you and Matt as people and feel as though I know you as such. I have a craft room which recently ….within the last 2 years have been using Ikea and other such products of furniture. From the ones I have they are very sturdy and will certainly outlive my use of them. I think you have a very good plan in which maybe you will actually get to use the rooms earlier….you and Matt deserve that. And we know you…there will still be DIY on this blog. You amaze me with your tenacity. So just keep doing “your thing”. And I will be along for the ride!

  15. I got my office cabinets custom built by a man from Temple. He doesn’t finish them, but you could soon paint them or stain them. He will use lumber according to what the finish will be. I wish I could send you a picture, because I had my bottom part built, then narrower drawers {or shorter} {front to back} on top.

  16. What did you decide to do about the half bath off your studio? I thought you were going to makes some changes to that?

  17. We had to DIY nothing when we bought our house 7-1/2 years ago, yet I still have boxes in the basement that I haven’t unpacked. You have so much to be proud of, and I think incorporating some easier solutions into your plan is the best idea yet.

  18. So for investigating Ikea cabinets. Its not as easy now but get you’re measurements in cm and it’ll be easier math…

    We have a hack in our living room it’s long and narrow. I found their kiddo furniture, STUVA fit the Besta doors. STUVA has changed some, so beware. I used Stuva to be low boxes. It has big deep drawers, and doors for the few entertainment and game systems we have. I added short legs and it matches the footprint of the MICKE desk. That I have at the end that doesn’t block airflow for the air intake along the wall.

  19. I think I started watching you right after you bought this house. Right about the time you were tearing out carpet and the big closet in the hall. It amazes me that it’s been that long. I only saw pictures afterwards of the condo, I believe. I do remember you cleaning and painting something in it .
    You blow my mind with all the work you’ve done. Congrats on being so close to the anniversary finish line.

  20. So after you finish your studio you will do your master bedroom, closet and laundry room… And after you finished your house, then what? Besides a vacation (you deserve one!) what will you do? We have been with you 10 years and you just can’t pull the plug! Lol

    1. If people are still interested in my creative endeavors at that point, I won’t pull the plug. 😀 I have so many ideas rumbling around in my head that I will have no problem staying busy, trying out new creative ideas, and sharing them with anyone who’s interested!

      1. Well for sure, you have plans for landscaping, and other outdoor projects. THEN maybe we can see some creative projects that we could all learn about too. STILL love the resin projects you made and the items you sold on Etsy. We can all look forward to that as well!

      2. Those of us obsessed with our homes get bored after a while and rooms that were finished a while ago suddenly need changing. LOL. I’m eyeing my living room right now and gearing up for some major cosmetic changes – and maybe some new upholstery.

  21. Good for you! It’s ok to buy some of the time and not make everything..
    You have already proved that you can do all the things.

  22. Me! Me! I’ve been with you from the beginning! Found you from Pinterest. Now I visit every night! LOL Love your work. You inspire me always!

  23. I think using Ikea cabinets is a great idea. People do all kinds of things to them to make them look custom.
    It’s so weird to think I’ve been following you for over 10 years. Pretty sure I found you through Pinterest & it was a few years before you found the new house. So maybe 12 years?? Wild.

  24. I’m relieved and happy about these decisions. I too, have come to care about you and Matt and don’t view you as just a source of entertainment. This world is so unstable that it only makes sense to get these house projects done as soon as feasibly possible so that you can continue to care for your family in the way that you want. This will allow you to focus on your hopes and dreams.
    This is just a house, folks. Kristi has a life and is not a machine that can forever churn out building projects. Kristi, I applaud this decision to get these projects done!