Countertop Transformation

Counters Before and AfterThe concrete countertops in our kitchen were starting to erode after being in daily use for almost 20 years. They were a high priority on our list of things to fix in the house, so we started looking into countertop options.

Some of our favorite options were upwards of $50 per square foot, and with approximately 30 square feet of countertop space, we were looking at a minimum investment of $1500.

Only one problem: we didn’t have $1500 to spend on new countertops. I started doing some research and came across this Rust-Oleum Countertop Transformation kit for $250. That’s more like it.

After reading all the rave reviews for this product, we decided to go for it. I was a bit skeptical, but I figured, even if the kit doesn’t work, we have to replace our countertops anyway so we might as well try.

Here’s a complete breakdown of how we took our kitchen counters from this:

Counters After

to this:

Counters After

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Living Room Makeover

Since we moved upstate, we’ve done a lot of work around the house, but most of our efforts have been focused on the living room. It’s where we spend most of our time, and it’s the room all our guests see whenever we have people over.

In the fall, we splurged and bought a new TV, a TV stand, and a new couch. This is what our living room currently looks like:

Living Room

But this is only half the room. To the left of what you see above, there’s a wood stove and a big open area that, up until recently, we didn’t know what to do with. For the longest time, we were using it as storage. Anything that didn’t have a designated place in our house went into this part of the living room:

Living Room - Before

As you can, it was a mess. A few weeks ago, we finally got tired of living with this disaster, and took action. We bought seven 9 cube organizers from ClosetMaid, a 6 cube organizer, and a few fabric drawers in order to build this:

Dan's Shelf

That’s a total of 69 cubes! As you can see, we still haven’t filled all of them.

While this whole project cost more than I would have liked, we now have a whole room dedicated to our comic books, DVDs, Blu-rays, action figures, and collectibles. What’s cooler than that? We’re really proud of this little corner in our house.

So what are those black bars in the lower-right corner of the above photo? Our new firewood rack.

Woodstove

Like the shelves, we haven’t filled it yet, but we’re working on it.

To tie everything together, here’s what you’d see while sitting on the couch:

Living Room

And yes, that’s It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia on the TV.

Have you put a lot of work into a particular room in your house recently? What do you think of our cubed bookcase? Tell me all about it in the comments.

Goals and Resolutions

This year, I hope to...

1. Be better organized with bills, paperwork, and planning.

I have always been a meticulously organized person. I write everything down. I am a compulsive list maker. I have a notebook for everything. However, since we moved 5 months ago, I’ve found myself becoming very disorganized. I’m neglecting my notebooks. My lists are outdated. Chaos is starting to take over my life. I need to get back on track, reorganize my life, and create a new organization system that fits our new home, our new lifestyle, and our new obligations.

2. Organize my digital assets (bookmarks, files, rss feeds, etc.).

In addition to organizing my physical paperwork, I also need to organize my digital assets.

3. Budget.

Dan and I have never followed a budget. When we lived in the city, we were young and had disposable income; we didn’t pay attention to how we spent our money. As long as we could pay our bills every month, we were happy. Now, things have changed. We’re homeowners planning to have a family one day soon, so money is going to be tight. This year, we need to set a strict budget for ourselves, and stick to it.

4. Start planning for things early.

I hate when things like Christmas and tax season sneak up on me, and I’m completely unprepared. This year, I want to start planning ahead.

5. Continue work on our house. 

Have you seen the massive list of renovation projects we’re planning for our house? This year, I’d like to knock as many things as possible off that list.

6. Be a better friend.

I really suck at maintaining friendships. As much as I love my friends, I hate talking on the phone, I hate leaving my house if it’s not to go to work or run errands, and I make a lot of promises I don’t keep. This year, I want to make more of an effort to keep the friends I have in my life, to rekindle old friendships, and to form new friendships with people I meet throughout the year.

7. Be a better blogger.

I just bought Kaelah Bee’s e-book PR + Marketing for Bloggers. I’m only half way through it, but so far, it’s great. Lots of good insight into how Kaelah works, what made her blog so successful, and how she got to where she is today. I’m hoping to incorporate some of her tips into my blogging routine this year, and update my blog on a much more regular basis.

8. Establish a better morning routine.

I consider myself a morning person because I like waking up early and getting right to work, but I’ve never been able to establish a good morning routine. After my alarm goes off every morning, I just kind of flail around for an hour until I rush out the door, and I always end up forgetting something. Not anymore.

9. Continue learning. 

Ever since I graduated from college with my bachelor’s degree in 2009, I’ve wanted to continue my education. At one point, I started a graduate program, but dropped out because it wasn’t the right fit for me. Now, I’m on the lookout for programs that suit my needs and my lifestyle. There are a lot of great programs out there – from mini-MBA courses to online certificate programs – that I’m starting to get very interested in.

10. Use my time wisely. Take on side projects. Do more work around the house. Contribute to society. Stop being lazy.

When I come home from work at the end of the day, there’s nothing I love more than putting on my pajamas, sinking into the couch, putting my feet up, and zoning out in front of the television for a few hours before going to bed. But when I actually stop and think about what I could be accomplishing in a few hours a day, I wish I was more productive. This year, I hope to be.

What are your goals and resolutions for 2012? Tell me about them in the comments.