Hicks House

From Builder Basic to Beautiful


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Walk on Up

If you drove by the Hicks House a couple of months ago you wouldn’t really be able to tell anyone lived there.  Blah boring white door, no landscaping, no real pizzazz.  But that was before “Project Curb Appeal” started with the painting of the front door. And then the walkway went in, complete with glorious raised flower beds on either side of the front porch. Now it looks like this:

Walk on Up | Hicks House

A little hard to see from there, not to worry I have some close ups. As this was a large and pretty permanent addition, we decided to hire this out and leave it to the professionals. (The fact that they could do this in three days and it would have taken us all Summer helped sway that decision as well.)

One thing that occurs when hiring out professionals unfortunately is a lack of communication or misunderstanding. It seems to happen without fail and we experienced it with this project as well. When we originally met with the contractor who would be doing the work it was November, we went over our wishes for a light gray curved walkway leading up to the stairs with a 90° herringbone pattern, a charcoal border and raised flower beds.

Luckily halfway through day 1 while Ken and I were both at work the contractor blew a fuse requiring him to call Ken who wisely asked for photos of the progress and was sent this:

Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House

Now if you’re not in the process of installing a walkway you wouldn’t know this because you wouldn’t have done hours of annoying research on stone patterns like we did BUT that is a 45° herringbone. Normally that wouldn’t be a huge deal except for the fact that in my mind the pattern gives the feeling of walking you past the porch rather than leading you up to it.

You may also notice that its straight. (Cue minor meltdown during my lunch break at work). After Ken played bad cop with the guy (i.e. “My wife hates this you need to fix it”) the contractor explained that the walkway wasn’t curved due to the fact that we didn’t want a gap between the flower beds and the walk so with the width of the walkway it was near impossible to make a curve. He did however agree to fix the herringbone pattern as well as the icky corners that we hadn’t even thought of. (If you look at the second picture there is a half block at the end of the walk and then the blocks turn the other direction)

When I came home from work that day I was met with this:

Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House

Look at those beautiful corners now!

Walk on Up | Hicks House

Another day and a half of building the flower beds and finishing the flare out at the driveway and we are one step closer to curb appeal!

Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House
Walk on Up | Hicks House

Next step flowers! I’d love to hear what you think, are you tackling any curb appeal projects this summer?

Hicks House


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Arctic Gray Kitchen … Olé!

It’s been a LONG time since I posted our house color pallet… a year and a half to be exact.

Here is the pallet if you’d like a refresher:

Hicks House Color Scheme

Hicks House Color Scheme

We’re making slow but steady progress actually getting our color choices onto the walls. In retrospect the color decision was way easier than the actual execution. The kitchen/living room presented the same challenges we encountered in the dining room, hallways, half bath, full bath, guest room and family room with all of the screws popping through the drywall. (Perhaps why we took a year long break between painting the family room and the kitchen?)

On top of that, this combined room takes up half of the first floor making it easily the largest and most daunting room in the house. Here are some before pictures:

painting-3

The new sofa

The new sofa

Marble Backsplash | Hicks House

And here we are with the new Arctic Gray paint. It’s a light gray with a blue undertone that definitely appears more blue in the living room area where we have the teal accents than in the kitchen where it’s a lot of black granite, and white marble.

Hicks House | Arctic Gray Olé
Hicks House | Arctic Gray Olé
Hicks House | Arctic Gray Olé
Hicks House | Arctic Gray Olé
Hicks House | Arctic Gray Olé

Next on the interior list… LIGHTING. It’s long overdue that we get rid of the bare bulbs and builder grade boob lights.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new color! We’re loving the fact that the entire first floor is now painted. Still outstanding: The Master Bedroom and Bathroom and the Craft Room.

Hicks House


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Turn Up the Curb Appeal

Why builders continue to use brass furnishings when building a house is beyond me.  Every time I look at door knobs, hinges and lamps in the hardware store the brass is the same price as the nickel and oil rubbed bronze fixtures so it’s not a budget decision.  It will forever remain a head scratcher to those of us destined to replace ALL THAT BRASS.

Anywhoo, last summer our outdoor projects included staining the deck, un-staining the house (oops), and attempting to tackle the lawn.

This year we are going to be making some more noticeable improvements to the curb appeal. The first step was painting the door blue, and you guessed it next we had to change out that lovely brass hardware.

Hicks House | Blue Door

This project was a bit more involved than when we replaced the knobs and hinges throughout the interior of the house. Because the door knob we selected had a deadbolt and the more sturdy handle holes had to be drilled. If you like the look here is the set we used: Schlage F62PLY619 Plymouth Handleset Keyed 2-Sides with Plymouth Knob, Satin Nickel (affiliate link).

Hicks House | Turn Up

Now for the step by step of how it was done. First remove the old door knob. The Schlage kits are great because they come with handy templates to let you know where to drill. Ken first drilled the hole for the bottom of the handle.

Hicks House | Turn Up

Then the bottom part of the handle was installed and Ken moved on to drilling out the hole for the deadbolt.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

Once the deadbolt hole was drilled through front to back, a hole needed to be made from the inside of the door to the hole.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

Then it then needed to be rotered using a door knob jig to create the cut out for the plate around the deadbolt.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

A corresponding hole was also drilled and routered into the door frame to accept the deadbolt.

Hicks House | Turn Up
Hicks House | Turn Up

The plates were screwed in …Hicks House | Turn Up

and Ta Da!!!!

Hicks House | Turn Up

Doesn’t it look fantastic?!

Next on the list for project curb appeal is a paver walkway and raised planter beds to line the front of the house. What do you think of this small update that makes a big difference?

Hicks House


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Light it Up

Since we are in the process of making improvements and finishing off the kitchen (see the new back splash here) we thought it was time to tackle another project we’ve wanted to do since the first night we cooked in this kitchen. Install under cabinet lighting. The kitchen is low on the lighting to begin with (one lone light above the island and one over the sink), and although we are planning on upgrading from the ugly builder grade ceiling lights supplied, adding new wiring isn’t really in the plan.

Unless your prepping on the island itself, it can be pretty dark under the cabinets so we purchased some LED puck lights – these ones (affiliate link): Lightkiwi® C9203 3.5 inch Cool White LED Puck Lights Premium Kit (3 Pack).

We liked them because they were a much lower profile than a lot of the other LED lights we found and were extremely bright and the wires were nice and long. We did a dry fit to figure out where we wanted the lights to go and ensured the wires would reach up above the microwave where the spare plug was.

Then came the scary part… in order to successfully run the wires up to the plug in the cabinet above the microwave without them being seen, we needed to drill through the cabinets. Eeeek!

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

We drilled through the side of the single cabinet to the left of the stove as well as in between the two adjoining cabinets to the left of the stove.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

This left some big scary holes.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

We then fed the wires through the holes and up between the cabinets.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

This left an intimidating jumble of wires hanging down.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

We purchased some wire clips like these to attach the wires up under the cabinet out of sight.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

Then attached the lights with some Command Strips.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lights

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

Drilled a hole through the top of the over-microwave cabinet and plugged them in.

Hicks House | Under Cabinet Lighting

Ta-Da! No more dark corners!

I highly recommend tackling this project if you could use some more lighting in your prep space. It went pretty quickly, Ken tackled it in a few hours after work one night. Now we have lights at the flip of a switch and no visible wiring for a nice clean professional look.

Hicks House


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Make it Blue

I’m back!  I know it’s been a long time since I’ve posted (4 month’s!), a lot was going on in outside of home improvements.  I was searching for a new job – which any of you who have done this can attest to – is like a full time job in and of itself.  So the majority of my free time outside of work was spent looking for new work.  Plus it was a frozen tundra in Connecticut pretty much through March which makes me just want to stay inside and hibernate – which we did with the free time we had.

I’m pleased to say we’ve thawed out (it was 80 out this past Saturday!), and I’ve started at a new job. I’m hoping I can get back to posting at a somewhat regular schedule.

Anywhoo, how did you spend your first warm weekend of Spring? I painted our front door… again… Remember when it looked like this:
Hicks House | Yellow Door

Yeah… that was a learning experience in choosing paint colors. The yellow lasted through the entire winter of 2013/2014 as I had painted it the last warm weekend of the year. Come Spring 2014 the builder replaced the door and we were back to basic primer white. Well we finally picked out a new color over the winter and it was warm enough to get it done I used the same technique I highlighted here, so here we go…

Hicks House | Blue Door

Still a bright fun color. Here’s a close-up of the completed door:

Hicks House | Blue Door

And a view of the whole house:

Hicks House | Blue Door

So what do you think? Do you like it, is it better than the yellow? I’d love to hear your opinion – love it or hate it! Currently we’re liking it and are looking forward to seeing how it looks once we have some plantings out front.

On the agenda for this spring is having a paver walkway and flower beds installed out front which should bring some additional color and life the yard.

Until next time,
Hicks House


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Christmas at the Hicks

I’ve been MIA for a few weeks.  Ken and I both had two weeks off over the holidays and rather than tackle a bunch of home projects like we did last year, we spent 2 weeks lounging on the couch watching movies.  It.was.AWESOME.  I owe everyone that reads this blog an apology for not posting our Christmas decorations before Christmas, however I’m doing it now which is a step above last year where we never decorated at all.

So here is our little Christmas decoration tour, of our silver and blue tree and mantle.

Hicks House | Christmas 2014

Hicks House | Christmas 2014

Hicks House | Christmas 2014

Along with decorating the tree exclusively in silver and blue ornaments we also purchased some light blue stockings as well as some silvery Christmas mantle decor. Who says Christmas has to be red and green?

Hicks House | Christmas 2014
Hicks House | Christmas 2014
Hicks House | Christmas 2014

The room was topped off with a Frosty painting I did at Paint Night.

Hicks House | Christmas 2014

I hope you had a wonderful Christmas!

Hicks House


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About Face

If you dropped in last week for the most amazing backsplash ever, then you are well aware that we are in the midst of a love affair with white marble. It was difficult to refrain myself from covering every surface with the gorgeousness that is cararra marble. But before we held ourselves back we committed to refacing the fireplace. I mean why not, the tile guy was going to be at the house… it was now or never…

Before I break out the step by step, how about a little before and after comparison:
Fireplace old | Hicks HouseFireplace Re-Do | Hicks House

We were never huge fans of the “poop brown” tile. It just wasn’t our style and it didn’t fit our decor. But before we could put up the new… we had to take down the old. This was accomplished with the use of a mini jackhammer. Luckily it only took a few (of the most terrifying for Chloe) minutes.

Fireplace Re-Do | Hicks House

Unfortunately in the process, the drywall on the sides was damaged. Apparently it was secured very well (a rare thing to find around this house)

Fireplace Re-Do | Hicks House

However, this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, for when we removed the damaged drywall we found this:

Fireplace Re-Do | Hicks House

Yes, that’s a HOLE. A HOLE!!! ON BOTH SIDES!!! We had brought up to builder on several occasions that is was overly drafty over by the fireplace only to be told repeatedly that that was how fireplaces were because they are vented through the back outside. This explanation never jived well wih us, because it just didn’t seem to explain why there were cold spots.

So before we replaced the drywall we took advantage of this moment to fill the holes with some insulation, then used some leftover pieces of drywall we had in the basement to patch up the holes. It didn’t need to be perfect, it was getting tiled over anyway.

Fireplace Re-Do | Hicks House
Fireplace Re-do | Hicks House

Then the magical moment of tiling began…

Fireplace Re-Do | Hicks House
Fireplace Re-Do | Hicks House

The top tiles were extremely heavy and had to be held in place with some painters tape overnight. After everything dried it was grouted with the same grout we used in the kitchen and the room was put back together.

Marble Fireplace Surround | Hicks House

We LOVE LOVE LOVE it! It’s so classy and elegant and the gray veining in the tiles is so interesting. It’s such a dramatic difference I don’t know how we ever even considered keeping the old tile. It is probably our favorite update so far.

So what do you think? Do you love it as much as we do?

Hicks House