Baldwin Bedroom Remodel: Part 1

It’s been a long time coming, but the Baldwin’s are finally doing some home updating!

When we moved into this 1950’s ranch 4 years ago, it was literally in pristine condition. Well- 1950’s pristine condition. Nothing had been updated at all. There was no dishwasher, microwave or WASHER AND DRYER! The former owners were the original owners and they did a beautiful job maintaining their home. We were honestly ecstatic to find a home in such great original condition.

Since we were new homeowners on the verge of starting a family, we didn’t do much at all. We painted and…. actually, I think that’s all we did. Painted. And for the time being it really was enough.

But now, we have 3 kids and a (very) small amount of cash so we decided it was time to update. The first intention we had was to completely redo our kitchen. I’m not talking about new cabinet faces. I’m talking about tearing down walls and moving the where the sink is-type renovate.


But since, like I said, we only have a small amount of cash, that went by the wayside and we decided to tackle a smaller, but equally important project: the bedrooms.

Before we get into this new bedroom stuff, you must know four important things:

1. We are on a budget. Budget means- not a lot of cash and only cash, no loans of any kind are used during this process. 2. I am not a professional anything, let alone decorator or designer. I just do what I like and hope it works. Oh and I usually ask Amanda what she thinks and that’s about the extent of the professional help I am getting. 3. We are DIYing this whole shebang. If we get a professional in here at any time, I assure you it will be some kind of therapist and not a contractor. 4. Nothing is perfect and I think it will be a while until all this is done, so hang in there if this kind of stuff is your jam.


Here is what renovating the bedrooms in a 1950’s house looks like:

  • New wiring – including adding new outlets and making everything 3 phase wire (this basically means that the outlets have 3 holes instead of 2. Think about that time you tried to plug in your Mac somewhere and you couldn’t without an adapter. That’s the difference.)
  • New texture on all walls and ceilings
  • New paint
  • New trim
  • New windows
  • Adding lighting in closets and showers
  • New light fixtures
  • New interior doors
  • New door hardware

This is what I mean by boring. These are all actual images that Andy took during the electrical-update phase of this project.


This is how we lived for weeks. These extension cords ran from our kitchen to the bedrooms so the kids could have lamps on. Talk about living on the edge…and I know you see that mess. It was the real deal!


This is about what we saw of Andy for quite some time-his feet while he did electrical work in the attic. Behind him are two babies huddled up after a bath.

Unfortunately, the renovating part of this project is rather totally and completely boring and quite dusty. It was a lot of days of hours (and hours) of work (for Andy mostly) and seeing no progress. I mean switching over to 3 phase wiring is not an exciting thing at all. It means hours in the attic and pushing wires through various places and having Andy yell from the attic to the basement, “DO YOU SEE IT YET?” about the yellow wire. The most exciting part of this is new outlets; a 1950’s house has approximately 1/2 as many outlets as a modern home should have.

As unexciting as this whole first part was, it was actually kind of fun for us. I managed to keep my cool around all the dust and mess and we lived without electricity in the bedrooms and bathroom for a while. We made the most of it and basically all slept wherever we could and lived in partial darkness for so long that once we did have lighting we forgot to use it!

Our house was a total mess. New texture meant bedrooms had to be emptied of all their stuff and so almost everything was moved to the living room. This was actually great because it gave me a chance to do what I like to call Kon-Mari 2.0 : basically, get rid of more shit- and keep the shit I love and I loved it!


Now, for the actual real exciting part of this- here are a few photos of our new doors, windows and hardware. Remember what I said earlier, though, nothing is complete yet. It’s all still in progress, so don’t ask why the trim isn’t up in the hallway. This is a sneak peek.

We opted for Craftsman Style when it came to door handles, trim and fixtures. We’re going to be adding in lots of Mid-Century touches and clean white pieces as we decorate. It’s actually a bit tough for a couple reasons: 1. money, 2. we actually have people (and children) who live here and 3. our house is not large. It’s 1200 finished square feet upstairs, so we’re having to make adjustments to our wish list. But stick with me because I think you will enjoy our before, during and after!

All of our original interior doors were hollow wood with gold handles and hardware. Now we’ve got clean, white, craftsman style, solid wood doors and handles with bronzed hardware. The difference is amazing!


Craftsman style trim and new windows! Hello lower heating bill!!

If you want to follow me on Pinterest, I’ve got tons of inspiration boards made as we work through this project!

Stay tuned because next time I’ll share some redecorating!



An invitation to create your own big magic

So, I recently read the book Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert and it is for sure going to top the list of favorites this year. 51YIrJrPxXLThis book reminded me that just living is a creative endeavor and failure is only what you let it be. The creative process is about creating because it’s something you love or enjoy or just want to try; it’s not about becoming a star or an author or a famous painter. Creativity, writing and art are all about: creativity, writing and art. I loved it. I loved seeing that all that I am doing in my life is great just because I am doing it. It relieves the pressure of my business and my writing. I’m doing Shabby Alpaca and this blog because I like it! The book has some new-agey concepts that may disturb more sensitive readers, but like everything- take what you can and move on.

Here’s a summary of the book in someone else’s words:

Readers of all ages and walks of life have drawn inspiration and empowerment from Elizabeth Gilbert’s books for years. Now this beloved author digs deep into her own generative process to share her wisdom and unique perspective about creativity. With profound empathy and radiant generosity, she offers potent insights into the mysterious nature of inspiration. She asks us to embrace our curiosity and let go of needless suffering. She shows us how to tackle what we most love, and how to face down what we most fear. She discusses the attitudes, approaches, and habits we need in order to live our most creative lives. Balancing between soulful spirituality and cheerful pragmatism, Gilbert encourages us to uncover the “strange jewels” that are hidden within each of us. Whether we are looking to write a book, make art, find new ways to address challenges in our work,  embark on a dream long deferred, or simply infuse our everyday lives with more mindfulness and passion, Big Magic cracks open a world of wonder and joy.

Along with reading the inspirational Big Magic, I’ve recently become friends with an artist. (Thank you Amanda Purvis for sharing another amazing friend with me). Jeanne Oliver is….awesome. She is so awesome that I want to live in her backyard just to get glimpses of her walking by. Ok, not really, but she really is a great person to spend time with. She is honest, kind, funny, smart, generous and super easy to talk to. TFDec2014-0391e3WEB-500x750

Jeanne is an amazing artist; she paints and designs and lives a creative life to the fullest. The best part about Jeanne’s art is that she shares it. I don’t mean you can look at her paintings, I mean she shares all of it. She shares her skills by teaching others and her home by hosting workshops and her favorite supplies by telling you what they are. She knows that sharing her skills doesn’t decrease what she has- there is no pettiness or jealousy in Jeanne- and I love that about her. She knows that if anything, sharing increases what she has.  She hosts online courses for all kinds of art, she hosts trips to beautiful places so people can create art and be taught all while hanging out in Paris or some other exotic location, and she hosts workshops at her amazing newly created studio. She’s pretty awesome and I’m so glad I know her.

I’m writing all of this not to brag on my mad reading skills or boast about my new friend (well I am writing for those reasons), but also to tell you about her courses and invite you to take one. There is a new course called Letting Go: An exploration of Abstract Painting that she is hosting along with Wendy Brightbill and bonus with that course, there’s a chance to win $250 worth of free art supplies. If you are interested in trying to win some art supplies, just click this link for a chance and use the above link to sign up for this class or any of Jeanne’s classes. I highly recommend it.

I’ll leave you with this: we’re all creative. Don’t be afraid if you’ve never picked up a paint brush (I haven’t!) just do something you love for the sake of doing it because you are curious or interested- even if it’s out of your comfort zone and even if what you produce doesn’t change the world. It may just change yours!



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