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!





Bedroom before and after at the flip house

Hello friends! Over the past week and a half, I have been working overtime at the flip house, which means the poor blog has taken a back seat. But today I’m here to share with you a bedroom before and after. This room at the flip house – especially the carpet – used to be a total nightmare. Now it makes me smile every time I look at it.

I chose to stage the space as an office because it is the gateway to the upstairs master suite. And I also took the after pictures before I rehung the doors in the room, so keep that in mind. 😉

Let’s take a peek at the before, shall we?


Below is a snapshot of this desperate DIYer on the night I hauled out all the 60s-style carpeting in this room by myself. I admit, it was an endeavor I would be happy to never repeat again. The dust alone nearly killed me because, well, how much dust can a carpet accumulate since 1960? A lot, people. A whole lot.


The main work I did to renovate this room – besides replacing the flooring – involved texturing the walls and ceiling; rebuilding the interior of the closet; painting the walls, ceiling and trim; and decorating.

I chose this smooth, roll-on texture* for the walls and ceiling to even out any imperfections in the plaster. I love this product! There are different types of roll-on texture you can buy. I prefer the smooth finish because I’m not a fan of heavy texture, just a subtle effect.


For the wall color, I chose Sherwin Williams Comfort Gray. I had the color mixed up in the Valspar Signature paint (eggshell finish) line from Lowe’s. It’s more affordable at $32 a gallon, yet I find it gives a really professional-grade finish.

I painted the ceiling white and added an inexpensive 50s-style fixture to match the period of the home.


After texturing, painting, cleaning, replacing the light, outlets and switches, and having new carpet installed, I was ready to add the finishing touches to this room.



My budget – as always – was extremely tight, so I stuck with no and low-cost furniture and decor options.

I found a cherry table for under $10 at a thrift store awhile back. When I bought it, I wasn’t ready to refinish it yet, so it went to the basement.


This table looks so good now in the flip house I’m relunctant to let it go with the house. The coolest part about this project is that it was super easy – and quick. All told, it took about two hours of work total. Seriously.

Step 1: I used a scrub pad and some Rust-Oleum® deglosser to “rough up” the surface. The deglosser I used was left over from a Rust-Oleum Cabinet Transformations kit I had on hand after my bathroom vanity makeover. I’ll be using the rest of this kit to transform the cabinets at the flip house. Stay tuned for that project coming soon.


Step 2: I thinned with water (by about 15 percent) a bit of Rust-Oleum Chalked Paint in Aged Gray and loaded it into my paint sprayer. I sprayed on a coat of paint and let it dry. This process took about 15 minutes total. A paint sprayer certainly makes light work of furniture and cabinet painting. (I use the HomeRight® Finish Max.) After about an hour, I applied a second coat of Aged Gray with the sprayer.


Step 3: I applied a coat of wax to the piece to seal the paint.

Step 4: I used some elbow grease and a soft cloth to rub off some paint in select areas, giving the piece a custom, aged patina.


Chalked-paint-closeup Rust-Oleum-Chalked-paint-closeup

I am so pleased with how this desk – and the room – has come along. As far as the rest of the decor in the space, I stole from my house and the basement to complete the look. No money spent there.

I also used leftover door casing from the front door we replaced and some leftover spindles from the front porch build to build a fun ladder for storing blankets.


I love repurposing pieces of the old house into the projects I do. It preserves the history – and memory – of the home.

What do you think of the transformation?


If you would give this makeover a thumbs up, I would love it if you would hop over to the Rust-Oleum Creator’s Studio and vote for my desk to win the Thrift Store Challenge. Thanks in advance for your vote! 🙂 You can vote HERE.

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