• ORC Week 4… and… We’re Moving!

    The blog is moving, that is. I’ve mentioned a couple of times that I’ve been working on my new domain, and while it is still not all pretty and together and complete, I’ve decided to go with it anyway! In the middle of changing jobs and building a bathroom and trying to enjoy life, it just may not always be perfect. So, please visit me at FromWyomingWithLove.com, and see what we are up to!

    Also as a quick note to my subscribers: First of all, THANK YOU!! For following along, and reading one or all of my posts. I plan to transfer my email list over to the new site as well (just as a heads-up that you will start to see emails from the new domain rather than lifeasweloveitblog.) If you have any issues with this or no longer want to receive emails, feel free to unsubscribe (although of course I’d love for you to stick around!). I hope you will enjoy the new blog, all about living the good life, by design. I plan to talk more about home, money, travel/lifestyle, and all things that I find lovely and fun. See you there!

    Published by:
  • ORC: Basement Bathroom Week 3

    It’s a good thing we went into full-on weekend warrior mode this past weekend, because this One Room Challenge is half way over! Holy crap. We made some serious progress on our bathroom, so let’s get right to it.

    If you read last week’s post, you know that we did quite a bit of work a couple of months ago to turn one end of our basement living room into a bare and dirty, but framed-in and roughed-in bathroom space. This past week as we were getting ready to actually close up the walls, we had a last minute change of heart over the walk-in shower that we had planned. Continue reading

    Published by:
  • ORC: Basement Bathroom Week 2

    If you read last week’s post, you know that we are taking on a huge project for this Spring’s One Room Challenge, hosted by Linda at Calling it Home. Welcome to Week 2 of the ORC, already 1/3 of the way through this design challenge to complete a room makeover (or build, in our case) in just 6 weeks! If you missed it, we actually tore up the corner of our basement in January to put in the second bathroom that we’ve been dreaming of for 3 1/2 years. Now we are hoping to kick it into re-build gear to get the bathroom as close to done as possible by the ORC final week, May 12th! Catch up on the initial plans and before photos, here.

    As a quick reminder, this is what we started with:

    Living Room Before bathroom remodel

    I figured this week I would fill you in on what we have done to get the bathroom to the state it’s in today.


    After we had our layout and dimensions figured out, we were ready to start demo. Now, this is definitely the largest home DIY project that I have ever taken on, and Jesse and I really had no idea where to start. Luckily, talent runs in my family (if I do say so myself), and my step-dad Kerry is an extremely skilled carpenter slash general handy-man. The one thing that we were instructed to get done before he showed up was to pull up the carpet and hang a plastic drop cloth to mask off the rest of the living room. Naturally, my next question was, “How do we pull up the carpet?” (Like I said… no idea where or how to start).

    Turns out, all you have to do is use a pair of pliers, start in the corner, and pull. up. the carpet.

    Jesse pulling up carpet

    Kelly rolling up carpet pad

    We also pulled back the carpet pad, which was glued to the slab so it didn’t come up super clean. The tack strip and the glued remnants of carpet pad were difficult to pry from the slab, until Kerry showed up with his tool trailer.

    Kerry tool trailer

    He and Jesse made quick work of removing these from the floor with some flat bars and hammers, and also carefully cut and removed the base board from the walls around the bathroom area.

    Basement walls with baseboard removed

    We already had our overall room measurements, which we marked out on the ceiling and walls with a chalk line. It’s a good thing Kerry was not shy about making the first cuts for demo, because if it were up to me I might still be standing there, worried that we weren’t going to get it right. He used a fancy oscillating cutter like this.

    Kerry cutting into ceiling

    I did enjoy swinging the first hammer, and the ceiling and walls came down pretty quickly after that. You can do all of this with a couple of hammers and pry bars.

    Kelly punching holes into ceiling demo

    Jesse tearing down ceiling

    We then hauled all of the drywall out to the trash, and cleaned up.

    Demoed walls, Jesse picking up drywall scraps

    Drywall demo, exposed crawlspace

    Next, we removed all of the screws and nails that had been used to attach the drywall to the framing and were now exposed.

    Kelly removing nails and screws from exposed framing

    Once we had everything pretty well demoed and cleaned up, Kerry took some quick measurements, made a list, and we were off to the lumber yard.

    Jesse, Kerry picking out framing lumber


    Again, I would have been lost without my step-dad’s expertise, so I’m not going to go into detail on how to frame walls. However, I will share a couple of tips that I learned and could be helpful for any DIY wall framing project.

    1. Redwood lumber is a great material for the sill plate (base) of your walls if you are building on slab-on-grade. This is because of its natural resistance to rot due to moisture (it is also resistant to insects like termites).

    Laying out and nailing redwood

    2. If you want to create a better sound barrier with your walls, use a 2×6 sill plate rather than a 2×4. Then, stagger your 2×4 wall studs back and forth along the two faces of the wall, so that you will be able to weave batt insulation in between the studs. This will give you a thicker wall overall, with much better sound insulation (to muffle farts and stuff) since your studs only touch one side of the drywall. For framing doors, you will want to use 2×6 studs. Like so:

    Staggered wall stud diagram

    Staggered wall studs for sound insulation

    3. If you are framing a door, you will create what is called a king stud (2 2x4s nailed together at each side of the door frame). If you are putting a door right next to a corner, you may want to increase your king studs to include (3) 2x4s, so that you have enough room (4 1/2″ actual width) between the door opening and the adjacent corner for your finishing door trim.

    Bathroom walls framed and new doorway 2

    Sidenote: does anyone else think it’s ridiculous that “2x4s” are 1 1/2″ x 3 1/2″? Remember that when you are figuring framing dimensions.

    Kerry and Jesse got the new bathroom wall and shower wall framed, cut the old door header out from the laundry room wall, and framed the new door location since it needed to move over.


    Anyone that has been through a renovation project knows that there are almost always some surprises when you get into demo. We were fortunate to uncover an enormous crack in our basement wall when we tore out the drywall along the exterior wall of the new bathroom.

    Crack in concrete foundation wall under window

    We were aware that something might be going on here, since we had water seeping into the basement under the carpet during a particularly heavy rainstorm a year or two ago. Luckily, our reno project exposed the problem, so we could fix it prior to covering it up again.

    With a little research, we came across this Crack-Pac Injection Epoxy for repairing cracks in concrete. It is a bit pricey, but seems pretty legit. If it prevents future flood damage in our basement, it is well worth the investment. Also, when you mix this stuff up, it smells just like someone is getting a perm, taking you back to the glory that was the early 90s.

    Crack-pac injection fix foundation wall crack

    Here’s a handy how-to video that we followed for our concrete foundation crack repair. It’s fairly simple, and seems to have worked.


    While we are trying to DIY most of this project, we did not want to mess with the underground plumbing, or the major electrical work. Our plumbing cost came out to nearly half of what our total bathroom (should) cost. Here was a breakdown of the estimate that we got:

    • Materials and labor to rough in the drains and underground for the basement bath: $1815.00
    • Materials and labor to install a lift station in the basement: $1190.00
    • Materials and labor to water pipe the basement bath: $1133.00
    • Materials and labor to set and trim out fixtures: $395.00
    • Materials and labor to move the laundry out from the wall: $365.00
    • Materials and labor to move the ductwork for one register: $165.00

    If we had hired all of this work out, it totals up to $5,063 – more than we had initially saved for the entire bathroom!!

    Since we Jesse and Kerry are pretty handy, we decided that we would figure out all of the water supply piping on our own. So we only hired the plumbers for the first two items above, totaling $3,005.

    The underground work cost included demo of the concrete slab and repair after the plumbing was in. So we let the professionals deal with this while we were at work:

    Underground plumbing backfill

    The lift station is a big tank that gets installed (mostly) flush with the floor, and basically pumps wastewater up into our plumbing stack to ensure that it is able to drain properly out away from the house to the sewer. We could have possibly done without a lift station, but it would have depended on the elevation of the existing sewer run that leaves the house in comparison to the location of our new toilet and shower drain. Because there is a minimum slope required for proper drainage, it probably would have been difficult to make the layout and piping work on a gravity-drain basis. Also, we want to avoid the potential for a shit backup in our basement at all costs. So, the lift station was a no-brainer.

    Lift station for basement bathroom

    The plumbers that we hired made probably 3 trips out total over about 2 weeks. They pulled their own permit for the work, and had to get an inspector out to look at the underground work before they filled the dirt back in and patched the concrete slab.


    Speaking of permits, we did decide to be responsible and pull a permit for the bathroom work (it probably would have been a bit fishy if we hadn’t and the plumbers did). We should have completed the application and had the permit in hand before we started the work, according to the “rules”. We did not turn in the application until after we had the demo done, and plumbing and framing well under-way. Luckily, the inspectors have been very friendly and we have not had any issues.


    As I mentioned earlier, after seeing the plumbing estimate of $1133 to run supply water lines to our bathroom fixtures, we decided that we would take this on ourselves. I won’t try to take much credit for this portion of the work.

    What I will tell you is that neither Jesse nor Kerry had ever installed water piping before. We knew that we wanted to use PEX, the red and blue HDPE piping that is often used instead of copper. It is quite a bit easier (and cheaper) to work with than copper pipe because it’s flexible and requires fewer fittings.

    Choosing PEX fittings Jesse and Kerry

    They spent an hour or so staring at all of the fittings at Home Depot, and a single afternoon figuring out and installing all of the supply lines from our furnace room to the bathroom, as well as modifying our existing lines to add several shut-off valves.

    Jesse and Kerry installing PEX water piping

    My mom and I did have to run back to HD 2 or 3 times to grab a few more fittings, but we were happy to do that while the men worked. We spent a whopping total of $205 on all of our PEX materials, and had functioning water supply to the entire bathroom in less than a day.

    That’s right. We would have spent nearly $1000 more to hire this out. If you’re considering plumbing your supply piping yourself, do it. You’ll be a pexpert (get it??) in no time. This clamping tool is the key. Jesse loved it.

    Jesse crimping PEX


    I work in the construction industry (pushing papers, as they say), so I was able to call in a professional courtesy and get a couple of electricians to make a trip on a Saturday morning to knock out all of our wiring. They pulled copper mains from the electrical panel in our garage up into the attic, down through the walls and into the basement.

    John pulling wiring to bathroom

    They then wired up several outlets (inside the bathroom, in the laundry room for the lift station, and several new convenience outlets in the furnace and laundry rooms that Jesse suggested on a whim while they were here). They powered up a recessed light fixture inside the shower, a main overhead light in the bathroom, a vanity light, and an exhaust fan that we had bought, along with switches for all of the above. All of this took them about 3 hours. I tried to offer them beer for their services, but ended up getting out of the deal instead for the bargain price of $300. Seriously though. They did us a huge favor.


    The last two items that we needed to complete in order to get our rough-in inspection were to cut a hole in the wall for the exhaust fan, and modify some ductwork.

    First, to cut a hole. We bought a simple exhaust fan at Menard’s for $14, along with an exhaust ducting kit. After measuring the distance from the window to where the duct would need to punch through the rim joist and then through our exterior brick, Jesse cut a hole through the wall from the outside in, using a hammer drill.

    Hammer drill to cut hole in brick

    He first traced out the circle for the duct, then drilled small holes all the way around the circle. From there, he switched to a flat bit that he used to chisel between the smaller holes to cut through the brick (relatively) cleanly. Then, he cut through the interior layers of the wall and rim joist, until we had a hole.

    We ended up going back to Home Depot to get some mortar and a few tools to repair the space around the hole that had crumbled a bit more than we had hoped.

    Brick mortar repair

    We figured if we are going to do this, we better not half-ass it. After we let our repair setup, we were able to complete the exhaust duct and install the cap.

    Install Exhaust fan wall duct kit

    And FINALLY, the ductwork issue. As you can see, we had an two odd supply ducts running down through our laundry room and our living room that were in the way of our new doorway.

    Demoed walls into laundry room

    We found a guy that works for a local HVAC contractor to fix this problem for us. He was able to re-route the duct up through the floor joist above our new door header, and built a custom box to run it in between the floor joists so that we don’t have to build a soffit around it below the ceiling. It came out great, and cost us $150.

    Ductwork rerouted into ceiling joists

    We called the inspector out just before we made this last modification, to make sure he had no issues with us cutting through a floor joist to run this new ductwork. Because the wall that the joist runs above is not load-bearing, and because we added some strength with a new header, the inspector said it was fine to do this. He gave us the go-ahead and signed off on all of our rough-in work.

    PHEW. So that is where we are at. Ready to start a shower pan and drywall this weekend, and then get to the really fun stuff!

    Hope you are having a great week, and don’t forget to check out the other ORC projects going on over at Calling it Home!

    Published by:
  • My 1/3rd Life Crisis: What to Do When Your Job Isn’t Working for You

    I’m not even sure if a third-life crisis is a thing, but I think I’m a little late to call it “quarter-life” since I turned 30 last week. I, for one, do not plan to be around to see my 120th birthday. If you’ve followed this blog for any amount of time you’ve probably noticed my absence for the past, oh… way too many months. If you’re new here, Hi. I’m Kelly. Yes, there is in fact someone behind the blog, and thanks for stopping by!

    The blog is not the only thing that I’ve been neglecting over the past six months. My work life had completely taken the place of my free time, my gym time, my early mornings and most of the evenings I should have been able to spend with my husband. I was commuting 45 minutes each way, 4 to 5 days a week to bust my ass 10 to 12 hours a day working on a thankless project that was making me miserable. Continue reading

    Published by:
  • ORC: Basement Guest Bathroom

    I am both a little bit shocked that the Spring ORC is here already, and embarrassed that I have only managed to get ONE stinkin’ blog post up since we completed the Fall ORC. I have had a lot of life going on in the past 5 months in addition to trying to completely move the blog to a new domain (not yet ready to launch), so I will leave it at that and spare you the excuses. However, I was not about to miss out on participating in this ORC.

    If you have no idea what I’m talking about, let me introduce you to the One Room Challenge, a semi-annual home decor event hosted by Linda at Calling it Home. There is a professional design challenge, featuring 20 designers that will completely makeover a room in 6 weeks, and post updates each Wednesday. Linda is also gracious enough to host an ORC Guest Challenge that allows bloggers to participate and link up their own room re-dos each Thursday throughout the process. I had so much fun updating our master bedroom last fall, that I had to come back for another round!

    ORC Guest Gold

    So ready or not, here we go.

    One of the first things Jesse and I talked about when we bought our house in 2012 Continue reading

    Published by:
  • Oh HEY 2016!

    Well happy freaking new year. I’ve been MIA from the blog for awhile, and figured it’s about time I let you all know that I’M STILL ALIVE. And kickin’. I have been busier than ever with my day job (whomp whomp), but I feel like 2016 has some good things in store.

    Here’s a quick run-down of what you can expect this year from me and my little blog!

    New Domain(!): Yes, after just over a year of blogging, I’ve finally figured out what my blog name SHOULD have been. I’ll be moving all of my content over to the new site, and hope it goes smoothly – and that you’ll continue to follow along!

    Home Projects: Namely, a NEW BATHROOM. Continue reading

    Published by:
  • ORC: Cozy Neutral Bedroom Reveal!

    You guys. It’s the final week of my first ever One Room Challenge. Hard to believe that I started this little project six weeks ago. Almost harder to believe that I managed to put up a blog post for 6 consecutive weeks (plus one bonus post, it may be a record!)

    If you missed it, Week 1 | Week 2 | Week 3 | Week 4 | Week 5

    I am so excited to share this with you, I could pee my pants! It turned out even dreamier than I was hoping. But first…

    Huge thanks to Linda at Calling it Home, for hosting such an awesome event and letting Joe Schmos like me get in on the action. Between the weekly deadlines, the encouragement from other participants, and the inspiration from all of the other transformations going on, this was just the kick in the ass that I needed to make some serious changes to our overly dark and slightly drab master bedroom.

    I started here with this mood board, and a sort of to-do list. Meaning, some to-dos, and some possibly/maybe to-dos. Continue reading

    Published by:
  • ORC: Cozy Neutral Bedroom Week 5

    I don’t know about you guys, but I think winter has officially arrived in Wyoming. It’s always kind of sad when the time changes and we say goodbye to daylight after work for approximately the next 4 or so months. It also started raining this afternoon, and the rain is supposed to turn to snow overnight. So yeah. I think our long beautiful fall days (which we were spoiled with this year) are over.

    On the bright side, it’s getting to be perfect weather for cuddling up! And our bedroom is looking super cozy these days, since we’re now 5 weeks in to our One Room Challenge bedroom makeover. Spoiler alert: Reagan likes it too. Continue reading

    Published by:
  • ORC: Cozy Neutral Bedroom Week 4

    Ok folks, it’s week 4 of the One Room Challenge, and we are hanging in there! If you’re not up to speed, I’ve got 6 weeks to completely re-do one room (I chose our “master” bedroom), and am joining a bunch of other crazy and talented bloggers over at Calling it Home by sharing my progress each week.  You can catch up on my progress with week 1 here, week 2 here, and week 3 here.

    So, you know I am all about neutrals with this project. I’ve been going for this white/gray/cream palette, but I’m also obsessing over Continue reading

    Published by: