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Saturday, January 7, 2017

Powder room progress

Powder Room Venice, Ryan Homes Venice Powder Room, Vessel Sink, Waterfall Sink

I'm Mike's wife, Colleen, and am so excited to get to add to this blog about our house!  I feel solely responsible for the customization of this room, because I really wanted this waterfall-esque faucet.  Mike and I found this vessel sink and waterfall faucet (that's the real name for it!!) through Wayfair.  That started our journey...

Powder Room After
Powder Room Before
This was our starting point...I thought it would be fun with our color scheme to do the dark blue throughout the room with the white pedestal sink.  Unfortunately, every time I went in there, I feel like I was in a dark blue cave of monotony.   We painted the bottom half of the bathroom the dark brown that we'd already used in the house to add some flair.  I purchased the art from Kirklands, and just love how it all tied together, yet was able to remain a very unique room in our house.

I will say that these peel-and-stick tiles from Home Depot have definitely fooled quite a few people, especially placed within the chair rail.  Now that Mike has gotten his feet wet with tile, we are thinking of doing the real deal!  

The lighting also need to tie into our design, so we went with a Dale Tiffany light fixture from Wayfair.com.  I love how it looks like the tile that is around the bathroom... I will admit, now that Mike is also getting more comfortable with electrical I'm hoping to some day do some kind of funky pendant or two sconce lights on either side of the mirror (Ha!  Don't tell him!!) !

Over-John Cabinetry Matching Kitchen cabinets
This powder room is still a work in progress, and we (and by we I mean I'll be telling him the proper height) will be installing a new cabinet (an over john) for extra storage.  It's a pretty substantial unit, but I'm thinking it's just what that bathroom needs-- that's a tall wall behind the toilet!  

Friday, January 6, 2017

Ryan Homes Venice Wine Bar!

Wine Bar, Butler Pantry, Wine Hutch, Ryan Homes Venice, Great Room, Ryan Homes Venice Great Room
Ryan Homes Venice Wine Bar
OK, so I am a little excited to share my progress with the wine bar.  This is one of my bigger projects, and done very recently.  Everything is complete, other than I ran out of grout, so more is on the way!  The Venice model has a little nook that is 25" deep in the great room, which happens to be exactly the  depth of a counter!  We had a Wine bar piece of furniture, however; it did not quite fill the space (picture below)

Before Picture
There were a couple of "firsts" for me on this project.  I have never installed cabinets, a countertop, or tile before, so I was a bit nervous!  What started as a "dream" quickly became a reality when a few things happened to line up perfectly to make it happen...

First, we had our Formica countertops replaced with granite prior to do the project.  Shortly after, I started thinking about doing the wine bar, and called the granite company.  I knew the rough dimensions I was considering, and the granite installer had just enough scrap left to make a countertop for the area!  The second challenge was to ensure that I could match our kitchen cabinets exactly.  I found a supplier for Timberlake cabinetry, but the store was geared towards builders and not very helpful when it comes to homeowners.  While at Home Depot, flipping through the catalog, I found cabinets that looked incredibly similar to ours, with the same color scheme.  It turns out, American Woodmark Cabinetry (Ashland style, Cherry Bordeaux color) is the same exact company and make as Timberlake.  Ashland style is the same style as Timberlake's Tahoe series.

Once I started designing the cabinets with the Kitchen Design lady at Home Depot, I was hooked.  After many iterations and emails back and forth (while trying to stay within a certain budget), we landed on a design.  I had to make some tradeoffs, including not doing the glass panel inserts for the upper cabinets, as the glass door cabinetry got fairly pricey.  Below is the design we landed on -

As far as the tile backsplash, fortunately Ryan Homes left quite a bit of tile from our kitchen backsplash.  I found the model number, and ordered the bullnose pieces as well as the mosaic tile that matched the accent border in our kitchen.  With another trip to Home Depot, we found a border from Daltile that matched the 6" tile and mosaic nicely.  After a few hours of laying the tiles out, cutting, and snipping, my wife and I finally agreed on a design for the middle section.

I was able to install the cabinetry and countertop in one day by myself, and took almost the whole next day to do the tile backsplash.  As I had never done tile before (and had to purchase a tile saw), I went extremely slowly with measuring and marking cuts.  I had almost no extra tile, so had to be very careful!  I started to install the Crown Moulding, but ended up messing up the cut.  Fortunately, I have a great relationship with a very skilled contractor who was able to come over for a few hours and install the crown, and do a few other things around the house.

The last step was to install the under cabinet lighting!  Another first for this project was doing any type of electrical work.  Prior to installing the cabinets, I opened up the wall and installed an outlet where the backsplash was going, and also an outlet where the right upper cabinet was going.  This allowed me to use the Philips Hue light strip (changes colors and brightness from my phone!)  The under cabinet lighting was absolutely essential as that part of the room doesn't get a lot of light, and the lighting accents the backsplash.

So, the million dollar question... how much did this whole thing cost?!  The cabinetry and trim came to almost exactly $2,000 with delivery, and the wine fridge was $350 on sale at Home Depot.  The granite slab was $550 finished, and I spent another $180 on the backsplash, supplies, and materials that I needed.  I also paid my contractor about $100 do do the Crown moulding and to cope some of the quarter round moulding into the existing trim.  Approximately $3,200 all-in.  An expensive endeavor, but we absolutely love it!  I am sure we could have saved on the cabinetry by going direct through Timberlake, but the services of the Home Depot Kitchen Designer was well worth it!

Thursday, January 5, 2017

Driveway Projector Screen!

Ryan Homes Venice, Outdoor Movie Theater, Driveway Movie Theater, Projector Ideas
Outdoor Movie Theater
Well here you go, a fun summertime idea!  For about $365 for a projector, screen, and some hooks to mount the screen, I have an outdoor movie theater!  My wife "makes" me watch the bachelor, and something about lighting the tiki torches, a few glasses of wine, and the summertime sunset gets me into it!  I'm from Upstate NY, and reminiscing about warmer times...

Anyway, we originally got the setup to have outdoor movie parties with the neighborhood kids, but found that we use it quite a bit!  This winter, we bought a ceiling mount, and mounted the projector in the basement.  New Year's was a blast with the neighborhood kids, and they really get into the movie with the big screen.  The projector mount was $25 on Amazon, and included a 15' HDMI cable that I needed.  I use an Amazon FireTV stick to stream movies and shows.

Ryan Homes Venice, Driveway Movie Theater

As far as the setup, I purchased a ViewSonic PJD5155 3300 Lumens SVGA HDMI Projector from Amazon.com .   At $300, and not an HD projector, I was a little worried about the picture quality.  I am a little bit of a stickler about video quality, and I must say I am truly impressed.  When streaming in HD from the FireTV, there is slight pixelation, but barely noticeable at all.  For the screen, I purchased a Vivo 100" screen on Amazon for $60.  Below is a shot of the projector mounted, as well as some of the decor in the basement play area!

Projector, Basement play area

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Nerf Gun Wall!

Nerf Storage, Kids bedroom ideas, Nerf Gun, Nerf Gun Pegboard

We did some re-arranging of my son's room, and part of the project left us with a large empty wall, and limited storage.  We decided to do a Nerf Gun peg board wall!  I had installed a peg board in the garage for tool storage, so I had a little experience.  Unfortunately, I didn't take progress pictures, but I should be able to walk you through.  The cost was approximately $40, depending on what materials and scrap you have lying around.  Once the room is complete, I will show off the entire room!

Materials needed:
Wood screws
2" washer head (cabinet) screws
furring strips (1/2" thick by 1.5" or 2" wide) to mount the pegboard to
2 sheets of 2' x 4' pegboard
13' or so of primed quarter round
1x3 (or so) piece of trim lumber for shelf (about 52" long)
2 cans of spray paint (semi-gloss)
pegboard hooks

Tools Needed
Miter saw (powered or manual box saw)
Brad nailer, or pin nailer (cheap accessory to install trim with a hammer)
Stud finder


  1. Spraypaint the furring strips, pegboard, quarter round, and shelf your desired color.  I used black semi-gloss spray paint from home depot.  I used 2 coats of spraypaint to fill in areas that I missed the first time.
  2. Find the studs in the wall you will be mounting to using your stud finder, and use a level to mark a line along the stud.  This is where your "furring strips" will be mounted to.  I placed 3 strips 16" apart, that were each approximately 36" high.  This will allow you to mount the pegboard to the wall, and will allow the pegboard to sit out from the wall so the hooks will be able to attach.  Once your "furring strips" have dried from the spraypaint, place the strips at the desired height on the wall, pre-drill, then put 3 wood screws in each strip into the studs.  You should have 3 vertical strips that are 16" apart.  For added support, I attached an 8 inch strip horizontally above and below the middle vertical strip.
  3. You are now ready to mount the two spray-painted pegboard pieces to the wall.  After ensuring the top peg board is level and centered on the strips, you can begin using the washer head screws to mount the pegboard to the wall.  Repeat with the bottom peg board, ensuring the edges are tight together.  The next steps (quart round and shelf) are optional, but they definitely add to the finished look!
  4. This is where I messed up! Install the shelf first, slightly wider than the 4' of pegboard.  This will allow the quarter round pieces to rest on the trim.  You will notice in the picture below that I made the shelf exactly 4', so that the quarter round has nothing to rest on.  The easiest way to mount the shelf is to "toenail" the shelf into the studs.  You can google "toenailing basics" for a quick tutorial on this if you need help.  center the shelf to the peg board, and toe nail using wood screws into the studs.
  5. The quarter round might be the trickiest part of the project if you have never done a miter cut cut before.  You are basically building a picture frame around the peg board.  I basically measured and cut the trim, then mounted the quarter round trim using a brad nailer.  The easiest way to learn to do this is to google "installing quarter round."  To me it was well worth the finished look!
  6. I had some black acrylic paint lying around, so I filled some of the nail holes with that paint for the finishing touches.
  7. Mount your peg board hooks, and start arranging those nerf guns!

Boy's bedroom, nerf wall, peg board nerf gun

Venice Mudroom Bench!

DIY Mudroom Bench, Mudroom, Ryan Homes Venice, Mudroom Bench

One of the first projects I did in the house was a mudroom bench for shoe storage, coats, and storing hats and gloves above.  This was really my first time installing any type of trim or building any type of furniture.  I must say, the bench was much, much easier than I had anticipated.  With a few trips to home depot to purchase a miter saw, some wood, caulk, and fabric from the fabric store, I had a bench built in no time!

I started by googling mudroom bench tutorials, and stumbled across one that was submitted in a blog called "being home."  I found some cross-links to the blog, but it appears the original blog is no longer active.


For the trim, I used a product from Home Depot called "Finished Elegance," which was basically a finished 1x4 piece of MDF board.  Finished Elegance is very nice because you don't have to paint it.  I did also purchase a brad nailer to nail the trim to the wall, which had to be filled in with the matching Finished Elegance caulk.

During a trip to the fabric store, I realized how incredibly expensive foam is for building cushions!  I believe the foam that I wanted was going to come to about $65, which seemed overpriced for me.  I ended up buying a $15 foam mattress topper from Wal Mart, and cutting and stacking the pieces together to form the cushion.

For the shoe racks, I purchased 2 $10 shoe racks from target, and mounted them to the center floor support.  Some how, it ended up being a perfect fit, and they actually look like they go along with the hand-made bench.

The total cost of the mudroom bench ended up being a little bit less than I would pay for a mudroom bench hall tree, ~$250 (including paint, etc.), however; I did have to invest in some tools that I didn't have.  The two major purchases (miter saw and brad nailer) that I had to make have been incredibly useful.  The Ridgid battery powered brad nailer has been the most used tool, and now I am wondering how I could have lived without one.

Mudroom Bench Progress

The hardest part of building the mudroom bench was the bench itself, which took me several cuts to get the top MDF board to the correct size so it fit in the space.  Once the bench was installed, the rest of the trim was so easy!  The trim is just installed "board and batten" style, directly on top of the drywall which was painted white.

Below is the finished product in use!  Coming from someone who had absolutely NO building or handyman skills, I can honestly say this project is very feasible for someone who is willing to invest the time, and will use a saw.  Overall the project took me about 12 hours including all of the finishing (painting and caulk).  Let me know if you have any questions in the comments section!

Monday, January 2, 2017

Master Bedroom

Our Master Bedroom is now complete!! (For now...)  We spent quite a bit of time picking out decorations and designing the layout.  When building with Ryan homes, we opted for the tray ceiling and ceiling fan.  The tray ceiling was absolutely worth it, as it seems to add a lot to the room and makes it feel even larger.

Ryan Homes Venice Master Bedroom with fireplace
Master Bedroom without furniture
Master Bedroom with Carpet

Our major step was to add the Pergo flooring.  We chose Pergo XP Coffee Handscraped Hickory  (12mm) from Home depot.  The difference it made in the room is astounding.  The texture of the flooring looks like real hardwood, but it stands up to the dog and children!

We decided to center the bed between the windows and add an electric fireplace, and 2 papasan chairs from Pier One for the seating area.

Ryan Homes Venice Master Bedroom with fireplace
Master Bedroom with Pergo flooring
The fireplace we chose was a Real Flame "Slim Crawford" model from Wayfair.com .   The fireplace comes with a  remote, and adds some extra heat and great ambiance to the room.  In order to make the fireplace look more like part of the room, I installed a recessed outlet and cut the baseboard moulding so the fireplace sat more flush against the wall.  I also used caulk in some areas to make it look more seamless. The 2 papasan chairs in the room are from Pier One, with "Fuzzy Sand" cushions.  This is a really great place to relax and read a book!  The artwork and clock in the picture are from Kirkland's.

I know I did not supply all of the details, but please ask any questions in the comments section!  Looking forward to sharing some of our (much) larger house projects in our Ryan Homes Venice Model!


Hello! My name is Michael, and I have built a Venice model with Ryan homes (Cottage elevation K) at the end of 2015 with my amazing wife Colleen.  We have spent the last year  doing various improvements, customizations, and projects on the house.  Now that we have slowed down and have some time, we wanted to share our progress, tips, ideas, etc.  We will be posting various rooms and projects that were completed throughout 2016.  We are looking forward to sharing!