Hot tub on a budget (plus how to install a paver patio)

Hello friends! I wanted to pop in today to let you know what’s going on around this pad. Since the flip house sold last month, we’ve been going crazy knocking out projects around our own house.

I painted the living room and kitchen and also painted about half of our front porch railing. We also installed a new kitchen floor and organized the garage. But my favorite project right now is the hot tub and paver patio we’re putting in!

A sweet friend from church mentioned she knew someone who wanted to get rid of a hot tub, and she asked if we were interested in it. We’ve always discussed how much we’d like to have a hot tub, but we didn’t want to spend a fortune on one. Well … long story short, we checked out the hot tub and bought it for $600!

Here’s a picture of it when we went to check it out before we bought it. Our little guy calls it the “hot pool.” 🙂


It’s a 6-person California Cooperage®. After we agreed to buy it, we had to figure out where in the world we were going to put it! Matt really wanted to create a paver patio for it, which I was reluctant to try because it seemed like a very labor-intensive project. I was leaning toward a poured concrete pad. We agreed to go with Matt’s idea and began preparing the backyard.

How to install a paver patio

We leveled about a 13’x13′ section with a rototiller, shovels and rakes. I say “we,” but mostly Matt tackled this part (praise God).


After Matt had everything fairly level and framed out, we added about an inch of sand, and Matt and Eva “dragged” it to ensure a completely level spot that would be ready for the paver base panels.


We chose these paver base panels instead of a stone base, simply for ease of installation. Matt said the price of the panels was comparable to using the crushed paver stone.


After laying out the panels in the framed area, the base was ready for the pavers. We chose Newlineâ„¢ English Cobbleâ„¢ stones. We mixed and matched the Riverbed Beige and Fieldstone colors, and set them in a random pattern. We were able to get the entire patio laid in one evening with me, Matt and the kids all helping.

english-cobble-riverbed english-cobble-fieldstone

After laying the stones, we filled in the cracks with polymeric sand from Lowe’s. We brushed that out, then wet the patio with a hose to set the sand.

Here’s the hot tub on its new patio base.


Whew. After that, it was on to the beautification process. As you can see, the hot tub was a bit faded, so I decided to stain the exterior cabinet. After much research, I decided on a ZAR® wood stain in Moorish Teak. For some very helpful information on how to stain fiberglass, plastic or other non-wood surfaces, click here.



You can see the dramatic transformation in progress. I stained the whole tub, and now I’m letting it “cure” for about a week. After that, I’ll go over it with a exterior-rated polyurethane with UV protectant built in.

While the stain dries, I’m landscaping around the new patio.


I’ve chosen all evergreen bushes and plants because I want the hot tub area to feel like a woodland oasis. I’m using 2B river stone around the plants.

I can’t wait to show you the “after” pictures when everything is done! Total, we’ll probably have about $2,500 invested in the hot tub, patio and landscaping. This is a chunk of change for sure, but nowhere near what we would have paid for a new hot tub, or for someone else to install the patio.

What do you think of our progress so far? Stay tuned for the final reveal coming soon.

Flip house kitchen pics (plus a buyer!)

Hello friends! I realize it has been quite awhile since I’ve posted. I began this summer trying to juggle several balls in the air, then quickly became buried in what I’d compare to a McDonald’s Playland ball pit. I’m sure you can relate.

I believe ridiculously busy times in our lives like these are actually blessings in disguise, because they force us to prioritize what is really important. Am I right?

Anyway, dare I say that life is calming down a bit for me right now, and I can return to blogging more regularly again. Yay!

Today I am pumped to share the final reveal of the flip house kitchen with you. Later this week, I’ll be posting a complete recap of the flip house with all the befores and afters, so you can really grasp the magnitude of the transformation.

The best part of this whole endeavor was that, within five days of putting the house on the market, we had a buyer! We’re set to close this week. I won’t make much money on this project (to stick with a McDonald’s analogy, I could have made more flipping burgers). But the experience was priceless and will hopefully serve me well as I go on to tackle the next great project.

Now back to that kitchen … below is what we started with:

Kitchen before

Kitchen-before-3-LR Kitchen-before-7 Kitchen-before-8Kitchen-before-6


And here’s the part where it gets worse before it gets better:

Kitchen during

Kitchen-peninsula Kitchen-middle-low-res

I am so proud of my “brilliant” idea to drop the upper cabinet and turn it into a peninsula. My husband and dad got to execute that “brilliance,” which I’m sure they were thrilled about. 😉 It was heavy! After the drop, we had to carefully patch the ceiling tiles where the upper cabinets were removed and add a toe kick to the “new” peninsula, raising it off the floor to proper height. What was supposed to be an easy project was maybe not so easy. But in the end it was perfection.

Check out the kitchen now!

Kitchen after

Kitchen-1 Kitchen-2 Kitchen-peninsula


I’ll try to give you the CliffsNotes version of what went on here. I kept the original cabinets, doors and drawers, because they were in great shape. I refinished them using the Rust-Oleum® Cabinet Transformations® light kit in the Pure White (unglazed) color. I also kept the original sink, but I added a new faucet.

I started by scrubbing the doors and drawers with the deglosser that comes in the transformations kit. Then I added some lattice molding to the edge of the doors (not the drawers) to give the doors more of an upscale, modern feel. The lattice was attached with Liquid Nails® adhesive, then clamped until the glue dried. I used caulk around the edges of the lattice to fill any holes and cracks. After that dried, it was time to add paint.


I applied several coats of white paint in the kit using my HomeRight® Finish Max sprayer. I switched to the Finish Max Pro halfway through the job because it was such a large project and the pro seemed to handle the volume a little better.

After several coats of white paint, I sprayed on the protective topcoat that came in the kit. Done! Although this project turned out great, I will admit it was way more work than I anticipated, particularly the lattice part. #proceedwithcaution

I also replaced the cabinet hardware with shiny new chrome pieces I got at Lowe’s and online.

My dad installed new Formica brand laminate from Lowe’s to the countertops. I chose the Ouro Romano color.

I demoed the old backsplash and replaced it with affordable (yet gorgeous!) subway tile, grouted with a light gray grout.


I purchased new stainless steel appliances (the white fridge came with the house) and added new, modern track lighting and a pendant light above the sink.


I installed groutable, luxury vinyl tile from Lowe’s in the Chateau color. I love this floor!

Of course, the whole room got fresh paint, including the ceiling. I added one accent wall in a chalkboard finish, which was a bit of a risk. But that chalkboard wall has been a huge hit with visitors and one of the first things they say they like about the house. So I guess it was a good choice. 🙂


Overall, I spent about $1,300 updating this kitchen (including appliances). What do you think of the transformation? I’d love to hear your feedback!





Finished living room at the flip plus an OPEN HOUSE INVITATION!

Hello friends. I am happy to report that the flip house is officially done. Woot! This Saturday, July 16, from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m., we are hosting an open house and I hope any of you who are local will stop by to see this beautiful home and enjoy some light refreshments while you’re here. The address is 15467 Sportsman Club Road, Calvin, Pa. The house is being listed by Colonial Real Estate at $99,700.

This project has definitely been a long and difficult labor of love, but I am thrilled with the results. I am also beyond grateful for everyone who helped make this project possible. A very special thanks to Dad, Matt, Daryl, Daryl’s dad, 😉 Ted, Bob, Denny, Dale, Carl and Patti, Harry, Cheryl, and Amy. I couldn’t have done this without you! And there were so many others who helped and encouraged me along the way … too many to mention.

Today I wanted to share with you the living room pictures.

Here’s what we started with:

Living-Room-before Living-room-before-2

The nasty green carpeting and wood paneling are gone. Yay! I painted the ceiling and I patched, textured and painted the walls. I sanded and refinished the hardwood floors (underneath the carpet). All that along with the new windows and front door have completely transformed this space. Here’s what it looks like now:

Living-Room-1 Living-Room-2

To help stage the space, I had Rent-A-Center bring in the brand new sofa and loveseat.



I refinished this dumpster-rescued coffee table using the Amy Howard At Home® One Step Paint™ in Linen.


The overstuffed side chair came from our house. 🙂


I picked up this vintage dresser from a local thrift store. I wiped it down with some scratch cover furniture polish and it looks as good as new. All the other accessories I brought in from my own home.

What do you think of the living room transformation?

Stay tuned for the kitchen pictures, coming very soon … once I can get a free moment to take them. 😉