chalk paint is magical

We have a table! The dining set that formerly lived in Kyle and Jenna’s house now lives in ours. There was just one catch: Jenna had begin the process of re-painting it, and I would have to finish the job. Thankfully she still had all her supplies, and I was pleased to discover that my very first furniture DIY would be made much easier with chalk paint.

Jenna’s plan: the table top and chair seats would be stained dark, the chair legs/backs and table base would be painted with yellow chalk paint. Distressing optional. She had stripped and sanded the seats of 4 of the 6 chairs, and two chairs were at various stages of being painted. Upon take-over, I immediately painted the table’s base and followed up with clear wax. Eventually I moved on to the chairs.


The magic of chalk paint is not having to sand off all the old finish, you can just paint right over it. Such a time saver. I’ll have four of the six chairs fully painted and waxed before the party tomorrow night, probably. Progress! Although I doubt I’ll have time to get the seats stained. Meanwhile, I haven’t even started on the table top, and two chairs plus the table’s leaf are sitting in the basement with Citristrip residue that still needs to be removed. Oh well! It’ll all get finished eventually, but at least we’ll have somewhere for people to sit tomorrow.

I already have chalk-painting plans for our dinged up old rocking chair, as well as the $13 TV stand I found at Goodwill last weekend. All in due time.

progress report

It’s starting to feel like home in here. The hard part is not draining our entire bank account to immediately purchase all the things we need. More rugs (we do have a second rug on the way though, for the office)! Miscellaneous furniture! Random little decorative things that can 100% wait!

I took a jaunt to IKEA on Sunday though, because I decided some things actually couldn’t wait. I had been planning on purchasing a KALLAX unit for the dining room, and when my attempt to hang our large LACK shelves in the living room took a horrible turn* I figured well, there’ll be plenty of room for books on the KALLAX instead. Which is not to say we won’t still hang the shelves somewhere, probably. Anyway, I sprung for the high-gloss white KALLAX, a FULLEN mirror for the downstairs bathroom, and some curtains for the side windows on the front porch (from IKEA’s Vinter 2016 line, which is amazing by the way). I’m going to have to go back though, because they also have 8 foot curtain rods which I need for the back porch, and they’re only like six bucks.

A few other things we accomplished over the weekend: I replaced the screen in the back door, we grabbed another carload of stuff from the apartment, picked up half of a dining set from Kyle and Jenna (our car isn’t big enough for the whole thing; we’ll pick up the rest soon), and I sewed a curtain for the window above our kitchen sink. Darren and I actually picked out the fabric together, which is pretty rare!

Picture time.

porch curtains

porch curtains

maybe we'll add a rug in the entry someday?

maybe we’ll add a rug in the entry someday?

view from the entry. we need a longer coffee table.

view from the entry. we need a longer coffee table.

soon there will be a table blocking this view. sparse shelves!

soon there will be a table blocking this view. sparse shelves!


we have a wizard in our bathroom.

we have a wizard in our bathroom.


There is still a handful of stuff sitting in our old apartment though. Gaaaah. We’ll pick it up this weekend. I hope we can figure out how to fit a vacuum cleaner, a full-length mirror, a large Rubbermaid container, a floor lamp, and a friggin’ car exhaust system in the back of the Forester. Good lord.

*no matter where I tried to drill into the wall for an anchor, I was hitting something before I got deep enough for the anchor to fit. I guess I wouldn’t be surprised if there was plaster and lath behind the drywall, but dang. Whatever it is I broke a drill bit on it!

almost unpacked

The move happened and it was actually pretty painless! Darren’s dad brought his trailer up and we had several friends (including Baxter favorites Kate and Mat) come help load. It ended up taking about two hours, excluding travel time between places. Not too shabby! We still have some stuff to grab from the apartment, which we’ll pick up soon.

Unpacking is, naturally, taking longer. We had a pretty insane mountain to start with.

Welcome to our beautiful home! …ugh.

A photo posted by Katrina Baxter (@trinalobax) on

How two people can fit so much stuff into a one bedroom apartment, I’ll never know. It’s been over a week and we still have two boxes sitting in the entryway (foyer? Do we have a foyer?). Plus two in the living room that can’t really be unpacked until we have an TV stand – the old one is serving as Darren’s battle station/command center up in the office.

I got a good portion of our art and photos hung, and I bought a rug at World Market this weekend (20% off rugs + 30% Friends & Family sale = awesome deal). It’s coming together slowly but surely. The housewarming party is on the 29th so I’m sure it’ll be reasonably presentable by then.

the move! it’s happening!

All the big paint jobs in the house are done, and we have decided that this Saturday is moving day. We’ve reserved a U-Haul, and our internet service is scheduled to switch. Some stuff has already been moved, but boy do we still have a lot to pack.

This past Saturday, Darren and his dad fixed the garage door (again, but probably for real this time?) while I painted the living room. Darren’s friend Justin came over and helped clean up some of the paint dribbles from when Darren was heavy-handed with the paint sprayer during the ceiling-priming process. Dan and Rich came over later, and they painted around the baseboards and trim while I took the roller to the walls. In the end, the ceiling got two coats of white (on top of two coats of primer! Yikes), and the walls got two coats of Tower Bridge.

By the time we finished it was too dark for photos, so all I have is this blurry sneak peek that Darren took yesterday when he was there dropping off a car load of boxes:


I am obsessed. Proper photos to come.

Our post-move-in to-do list is still pretty long.

  • Paint closets
  • Buy or make curtains in lieu of closet doors
  • Most of the windows will need new curtains too
  • Touch-up paint in entryway and kitchen
  • Caulk baseboards & trim
  • Paint a fresh coat of white on baseboards and trim
  • Install ceiling fan in dining space (eventually we’ll put one in the kitchen, too)
  • Clean out random basement junk
  • Repair screens
  • Murder all the weeds
  • Paint the back porch
  • Replace back steps (lol, maybe next year)
  • Buy some damn rugs
  • ….and so much more!

Tree Trust + a prettier yard

Shortly after we bought our house, one of our neighbors told us about the Tree Trust. They were founded in 1976 in an effort to address the Twin Cities’ deforestation and unemployment problems. They’ve expanded over the past 40 years to offer employment training and environmental education, among other opportunities. Pretty rad, you guys.

North Minneapolis was hit by a devastating tornado in 2011, and the Tree Trust launched a program to re-tree the area that was affected (they have since expanded the program to all of NoMi). The city also planted new trees along the boulevards. Our block was in the tornado’s path, so aside from our boulevard trees, our yard is naked. It’s pretty nuts, actually. The blocks directly to the south and east still have plenty of mature trees, including a couple lining the alley in one of our neighbor’s yards.

Side note: MPR posted a story last year showing the still-visible “tornado scar.”

Several of our neighbors have trees from the Tree Trust now, and soon we will too! They do a free tree distribution program in the fall for NoMi residents (as well as opportunities for Minneapolis and St. Louis Park in the spring where you can purchase a tree).  Luckily we heard about it in time to register, and last night we attended a workshop to learn about the program, and about tree maintenance. Obviously the trees will be immature, so we need to be sure to take extra special care of ours over the next few seasons. All we have to do until then is stick a flag in our yard where we want our tree, and the Tree Trust crew will call 811 on our behalf, then they’ll come out and plant the sucker.

Tree recipients were offered a choice from four tree options, and we decided on a Redmond Linden. It’s going in our front yard, which faces west so the tree will get plenty of sun and eventually shade our house. Plus it’s good for pollinators! When the tree is a bit bigger the garden out front will have to be re-tooled and filled with shade loving plants, but it’s basically a weed bed right now anyway which is another topic for later.

I’m so excited for our new baby tree!

gettin’ our paint on

Yas, more stuff is getting done and I’m so happy.

Darren and I didn’t make it up to the house until like 3:30 yesterday afternoon. Not ideal, but we still had time to get some stuff accomplished. While Darren mowed the lawn, I hung new bathroom hardware (a TP holder and a towel ring). Then I finished painting the bedroom. Finally, since he had run out of primer earlier this week, Darren and I finished the second coat of primer on the living/dining room ceiling.

Today we did some primer touch-ups because Darren decided that would be a thing. He still wants to do another coat, so he and Dan can do that tomorrow if they want. We also painted a first coat on half of the office. We probably could’ve done the whole thing, but sometimes ya need a break.

I finally took some pictures and remembered to grab the color names. Ready for a couple before and afters?

Here’s the half bath back when it was orange:

And here it is in Behr’s “Pencil Sketch.” I’m on the hunt for a new mirror.


The master bedroom was previously yellowy tan:

house 11

Now it is Behr “Valley of Glaciers” (which is way lighter on their website for some reason).


The office was blue-ish, or so it seemed:

house 08

But the old color looks a lot more grey next to Behr “Big Surf.”

office-paint-01 office-paint-02

Whew! We’re getting closer. The living room is going to be painted in “Tower Bridge,” which also looks way different online than it does in person (at least on some computers, whatever), with more green tones but not quite teal. With any luck, Darren and Dan will finish the ceiling so we can get started on the walls in that giant space. The office I could knock out myself if I need to (I did the bedroom solo and clearly killed it). Every other room needs touching up, but that’s all little stuff that we can do once we’re actually living there. Soooooon.

gettin’ a move on

Our mission has changed from “we have plenty of time to get stuff ready for move-in” to “let’s get the goddamn paint on the walls and we’ll deal with everything else later.” Basically. We’ll see how well that goes.

Saturday I finished painting the half-bath, and got one coat up in the bedroom (excluding the closet. Gotta do that still). That was rough on my neck, but hooray for accomplishment! Yesterday, Darren used his dad’s paint sprayer to prime the living room ceiling. It already looks so much better. Getting that sucker painted a nice solid white will make a huge difference I think. I’m probably most excited for the color that we’re going with for the living/dining room. Of course I left the color cards at the house so I can’t tell you the exact name of the color we’re using, but it’s a Behr paint in the teal family. Ha. I’ll do a whole post about our colors later. With pictures! That’ll be fun.

Also, our garage door broke again. Or, the temporary fix that Darren and Lee used was even more temporary that we anticipated, I guess? We had a guy out yesterday to take a look. Darren is taking charge on that, too… It’ll get fixed, that’s all I care about. At least it closes in the meantime, and the little bit of stuff in there isn’t exposed to the world.

Anyway, we’re hoping to get our stuff all moved over by the end of the month, but we’re out of town for part of this weekend which is just awful timing. Meanwhile, at the same time Darren ad I are moving homes, my office is also moving to a slightly new location. At least the office move is within the same building, and we’re hiring professionals to do the bulk of the work. Still have to pack though. Packing is the worst.