Build a tire swing!

(I was one of the bloggers selected by True Value to work on the DIY Squad. I have been compensated for my time commitment to the program as well as writing about my experience. I have also been compensated for the materials needed for my DIY project. However, my opinions are entirely my own and I have not been paid to publish positive comments.)

I’ve teamed up with True Value today to show you how to make a fun and easy project that your kids (and you!) will enjoy all summer long… a tire swing!

We’ve had this old tire laying around the yard so instead of tossing it we decided it would be fun to turn it into a tire swing.

I’ve never made a tire swing before and the task seemed daunting. Believe it or not I whipped this tire swing up in less than an hour! I started with this very helpful tire swing guide:

Once I had a plan in place I headed to True Value to pick up all my supplies. Here are most of the supplies I purchased, but I did have to run back for a few more things (not pictured).

For the first step I flipped the tire over and made several small holes around the base so any water can drain out (after it rains). I don’t want a mosquito habitat hanging around (pun intended!).

After that I flipped it over and drilled three holes for the eye bolts. I used a standard drill bit and it easily cut through the rubber. Once the holes were drilled I prepped the bolts with the washer, lock washer, and nut.

Once the bolt was inserted into the tire hole I finished off the under side with another large flat washer, a locking washer, and a nut.

Here are the eye bolts after I installed them.

To hang the swing I wrapped a 4′ long chain around the tree branch, attached a locking swivel hook, attached three more chains to that, and then attached the chains to the tire swing. For each attachment I used a simple connector link.

You can buy all the pieces in many different sizes. I made sure each connector link, swivel hook, and chain were rated for multiple hundred pounds. If you make a swing make sure you buy pieces that can support your weight and won’t snap.

Our son jumped on and tried it out as soon as I was done hanging it. It worked perfectly. The swivel hook allows the tire swing to continue to spin around and around guaranteeing a nauseating experience only a child can appreciate. To say the kids are in love with this new swing is an understatement. It’s now the hit of the yard!

For even more fun summer activities and projects, visit True Value‘s project website or facebook page. They are always posting new projects.


New floors!

The new floors are finally in! I cannot even contain my excitement about this. When we bought this house the common areas had two different types of flooring – tile and wood. Not only was the tile in really bad condition, the combination of the two types of floors really broke up the spaces and made them feel small and choppy.


Our goal was to get rid of all the tile and have wood throughout the main areas of the house.


It’s been a long road to get here. First we had to gut everything, then the cabinets and counters had to go in. One of the last steps in the renovation process was installing the floors, so we basically lived on a cement slab for more than two months. I’m pretty sure I now have plantar fasciitis from walking around on the cement for so long.

But. It was worth it because we now have brand new engineered hardwood floors and I am in lurve love LOVE.

I’ll just give you a quick rundown about the laying process and then cut to the chase with a boatload of “after” pictures. The builder we hired to oversee this entire remodel used his flooring company, Mill Direct Carpet and Tile to do all the work. We picked it out and they ordered, delivered, and installed it. It is such a big space and we are limited on time, so this was the best option for us this go-round.

They started by pouring self-leveling cement everywhere to make sure the slab was perfectly level. This took half a day and then they let it dry overnight.

The next day they came back and started gluing the floor down. The last wood floor in here (it was in the dining and living room only) was also an engineered hardwood but the previous owners had it floated on top of a pad. We opted to glue ours down instead because the last floor just sounded hollow when you walked on it. We wanted this one to feel more substantial.

The crew spent two and a half days installing the floor. They did a fabulous job. I have looked high and low to find any imperfections or flaws in their work but I can’t find any.

Here’s the almost finished dining room. Ignore the cardboard under the table legs. The installers did that as an extra precaution to not scratch the floor while they worked around our furniture.

We weren’t planning on using this room as a dining room when we bought the house a year ago but plans changed. After living here for a year we realized it made the most sense to use it the way it was intended (we replaced the breakfast table in the kitchen with an eat-at island, so this is now our only table). If I had known I wouldn’t have sold our previous dining table and chairs to the new owner of our last house. Sigh. Hindsight is 20/20. So now we are in the market for a new dining table that is longer than this one. Eventually.

The new cabinets and floor color really make our front door look way too red, so refinishing it is now at the top of my priority list (after finishing up all the renovation details at least).

Here’s a good before and after of the door that leads from the living room to the backyard:



We obviously aren’t finished because there are no baseboards yet.

Here’s a before and after of the hallway that leads to the rest of the house:



The flooring looks red in the hall because of the terrible lighting. I really want to put a skylight or something in this dungeon of a hall.

Another shot of the floor. I love how cohesive it is now. The rooms aren’t broken up by a tile walkway.

We also opted to take the wood into the kitchen. People seem very opinionated about wood in a kitchen. I love the look of it and am glad we kept the flooring uniform throughout the house.

I picked up this long runner at Costco, in case you are curious.

The view from the front door. Sure beats a choppy tile and wood combo!

Before the flooring went in I used my dad’s tile saw and cut two marble thresholds for either bathroom, then I glued them down. I purchased the thresholds at Home Depot for about $15 each. When we lived in New Jersey for a year in 2008 our apartment had marble thresholds leading into each bathroom. I was smitten with them and jumped at the opportunity to install them in this house.

We are now in the final stretch of renovation. What’s left:

*baseboards, door casing, doors, shelves, basic finishing stuff
*appliances (went in a couple days ago. I just need to write a post about it)
*Cabinet finishing: shoe moulding, floating shelves, and a few touch-ups
*pendant lighting above island (on temporary hold due to budget)
*under cabinet lighting (already wired, but on temporary hold due to budget)
*tile backsplash (on temporary hold due to budget)
*finish painting all the walls
*paint all trim once it’s installed
*deep clean everything (about 60% complete)

I *think* that’s it for the to-do list. Of course, we also have lots of additional stuff like purchasing new barstools for the island, upgrading our dining table, etc, but that will all come together over time.

Make sure to check back tomorrow because I am taking a detour from the renovation to share a really fun outdoor project for kids!


Selecting the right countertop material for our family

Last time I posted was to show you the new granite counters we just had installed.

As promised, I’m back to take you through the process of picking out the countertops. There are lots of countertop choices out there to pick from. We narrowed down our choices quickly because we wanted a countertop that didn’t require much maintenance. That immediately knocked laminate and marble off the list. We wanted a light color so we nixed soapstone pretty quickly too. We were left with four main viable options to choose from: granite, solid surface, quartz, and concrete.

Concrete was nixed right away because I just don’t want concrete counters. No other reasoning. It’s a good choice for a countertop, I just didn’t want it.

Solid surface was nixed pretty quickly as well because the reviews online said it wasn’t quite as durable as quartz or granite.

This left us with quartz and granite as our two main choices. I’ll be honest, granite was my last option. I was pretty set on not having granite actually. I feel like everyone has granite, and I just didn’t want what everyone else has. Except, in the end, there is a reason everyone has granite – IMO it’s pretty much the best of all options out there. It looks good, it’s in the lesser expensive category, and it’s virtually indestructible – you can cut on it, put hot stuff on it, pretty much abuse it and it keeps on keepin’ on.

So, back to our quartz and granite options…

The counters in the old kitchen were quartz:

Our previous house also had quartz counters:

We really liked our quartz counters in our last house. They were a nice color and had a nice pattern. We did not like the quartz in our current house. It was a bluish color and chipped easily. However, I knew from some online research that quartz came in many brands, colors, and patterns. For months I assumed we’d settle on a quartz product when it came time to select the counters.

We headed to the stone yard with a somewhat open mind and looked through all the granite first. It was nice, but nothing jumped out at me.

But then I found it. I found THE ONE.

Once I laid eyes on this marble-knock-off quartz product I was sold. I didn’t even look at any other slabs. We just left dead-set on putting this in our kitchen. I LOVE marble but marble is not indestructible and I would never put it in my kitchen, but a fake marble? Yes!

Well, the quote came back for the marble-looking quartz and it was almost double the granite quote (our guy gave us quotes for both for comparison). The quartz would have cost us almost $11k to purchase and install. The granite came in just shy of $6k. Most homes are not quite this expensive, but in addition to our kitchen, we also had a huge island, a built-in desk, and a long expanse of counters in the dining room.

Our dreams were crushed. But then I remembered that IKEA sold quartz! Score!

Because of a promotion they were running their prices were much more reasonable (around the same price as the granite). I just didn’t LOVE any of their options. They didn’t have the marble-looking option and also their counters weren’t as thick. Plus there was a 3+ week wait on installation. I tried to get on board but just had a sick feeling about the entire deal. So we went back to square 1 again.

We headed back to the granite yard again to check out granite. I was determined to find a granite option that I liked enough and just go with it.

This time though I took a door sample with me. This is why my counters match my cabinets so well — I took an actual door with me to the stone yard. If you ever go to a stone yard, take a cabinet door with you!

We went around and took pictures with every slab of granite I liked.

Some were too light, some were too dark. Some were too busy.

Finally, we found American Ornamental and knew it was the one. Well, I take that back. I hemmed and hawed over it for a long time. It was the lightest granite in the yard that matched the cabinet door and also wasn’t super-busy with wild patterns.

Looking at a full slab on it’s side is very different than seeing it flat on top of a cabinet. The way they are stored upright at the granite yard makes them really in-your-face so it’s hard to get a good idea of what it will look like installed. But we just went with our gut and selected it.

Here’s the label that was on our granite in case you want any more specific details about it:

The funny thing is, the faux-marble quartz looked TERRIBLE with our cabinet color. I wanted it SO BADLY but when I took a door sample, I hated them together! In fact, it was so terrible together that I didn’t even take a picture of it.

I did however take lots of pictures of really awesome crazy slabs of stone that were too wild for me or my kitchen but would have been really fun in the right setting.

It was a fun experience to see all the crazy options and to think that they just formed over millions of years in the earth like this.

Here’s a sample of what the edges of the stone look like when shopping in a stone yard.

That is the long story of how we chose granite over all other options. It was the most durable and affordable option to choose from. I was pretty indifferent about it after choosing it, but once the first piece went in I absolutely knew it was the perfect choice for our house. I am so glad we chose this counter and not the quartz one. We love it.

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