A little more than a year ago, Brett and I reached a point where we were ready for a change. We loved so much about our home, but had a few specific upgrades that we were hoping to make. We didn’t necessarily need a bigger home, but wanted it to feel brighter and more spacious. When we have guests over, which is often, our common spaces feel a little cramped and congested. We wanted to have more room to include all of the important people in our lives. We spent a lot of time searching for a home that met our needs. But, after over 12 long months of diligently searching with our very patient realtor, my brother Andrew, we just weren’t finding the right fit. We were already pretty reluctant to leave our amazing neighbors, so we decided that rather than relocate, we would make some simple changes to our existing home to create the open feeling that we were looking for. I began making a list of ways that we could create more space, or at least the illusion of more space, in specific rooms in our home. After getting the signature of approval from the head of the financial department (the hubby), I started getting our projects under way. I decided that it made the most sense for us to begin our projects at the front of the house and work our way back toward the main living area. If you believe in making a good first impression when welcoming guests into your home, your entry way is a great place to start. So, transforming our entryway became our first task in making our little house feel more like home.
Before I could get started on the walls, I needed to empty out the space. All of the furniture and decor that filled our entryway at that point, were things that I had quite the sentimental attachment to. They came with me from my previous home before Brett and I got married. I had put a lot of time into curating each item, as well as refinishing the furniture pieces in that space. The majority of those belongings were custom and one of a kind. Because of the attachment I had, it took me a minute to wrap my head around no longer using those pieces in my home. I wasn’t quite ready to say goodbye to my treasures, but I posted them for sale anyway and before I could think much about it, they were on their way to new homes. I used the money that I made from selling my old stuff, to purchase new decorations. As soon as I began shopping, I was having way too much fun to miss the items that I had let go of.
The smaller A frame entry table replaced the large heavy cupboard which created more open space. Adding an area rug and replacing the flush mount light with a fun wood bead chandelier really helped make the space feel like a room, rather than just a hallway. Instead of a gallery of framed photos like I had previously had on the wall, I opted to keep it minimal with just one large simple black circle mirror. There are still a few more things to hang up and a fiddle leaf fig tree in transit that will really bring it all together. Can’t wait to show you what it looks like with those final touches.
With everything cleared out and new things on the way, we were ready to get started on brightening things up. The initial step in our game plan was to cover up the tan paint color on the walls. I have always hated it and we knew when we first bought the house that it was something we would change. I don’t know why it took us over 3 years to get around to it, but I couldn’t be more excited that it’s finally happening. I also wanted to give the space a little more personality. So, before any new paint could go up, we had to make some decisions about the finish carpentry that we wanted. I know that a lot of people are of the opinion that shiplap is just a passing trend, but I think that its a very classic finishing statement. Their are so many different varieties of planks that you can use to create completely different styles. If you want a rustic look, go with stained barn wood planks. If you want more of a crisp clean look, go with smooth white planks. Because they come in so many different sizes, colors, and textures, they are so versatile for any style of home. I chose to do a wide 8 inch plank because I thought that it would help with making the room look more substantial. I feel like the style I chose goes so well with any design style from coastal to farmhouse to modern boho or traditional. Like I said, I feel like its just such a classic look. What do you think. Are planked walls a classic look or just the hot trend right now?
When we started this project, I had absolutely no intention of doing it on my own. I made every effort to hire a competent contractor that I could pay to do the job for me. After weeks of no shows, repeated rescheduling appointments, and poor follow through from 3 separate contractors, just to come give me an estimate. I grew impatient waiting and decided to take matters into my own hands. After measuring my walls, I loaded up my sidekick into his carseat, and we made our way to Home Depot with our list of supplies in hand.
There are several different materials that you can buy for this kind of project. We decided to go with the most budget friendly option and purchased these 4X8 Plywood sheets and had the employee at Home Depot strip them down for me into the 8″ planks that I needed for 50 cents per cut. If you have a way to cut them down yourself, do it. Our cuts ended up being very inconsistent which resulted in a lot of frustration during installation. Next time I do this kind of project, I will save myself the trouble and spend the extra money to get these Primed MDF Shiplap boards. They are worth every penny for the time and frustration that you will save yourself. I also think they result in a smoother end product. The biggest problem is that they didn’t come in the wider 8 inch boards that I was wanting.
You will also want to make sure that you have finish nails, quarter round edges for inner corners, outside finish corner pieces for outer corners, liquid nails, caulk, spackle, and supplies to sand with. We used a couple different power saws, a finish nail gun, and an electric sander. Other small tools you will need include: measuring tape, caulk gun, putty knife, leveler, stud finder, and a ladder.
With all of our supplies and tools in hand, I got to work:
Wipe down walls, remove all switch plates and outlet covers. We also had to remove motion detectors for our security system.
Find and mark all of the studs on the wall. This is where you will nail your boards in place.
Sand down each board. This helps ensure that you have a smooth finished product and that you don’t get splinters along the way.
Measure and cut your boards to the length that you need. Our boards were 8 feet long, but we had one wall that was 14 feet long and some that were only 1 or 2 feet.
Lay down a drop cloth or something to protect your floors while your work.
Decide if you are going to start at the top or bottom. Before installing your first board, make sure that it is level. This may mean that space between the ceiling (if you start at the top) is uneven, but its more important that your board is level, or you will have a crooked wall all the way down.
After you have ensured that it is level. Nail the board in place with your finish nail gun on each end and on each stud. We used 1 1/4 inch 18 gauge finish nails. (You can also use liquid nails to make it extra secure, but it isn’t necessary and it would be much more difficult to remove if you make a mistake or change your mind in 10 years and want to take it down.)
Once you have the first board installed, place a spacer between that and the next board so that your spaces are consistent. We used craft sticks, but you can use nickels or tile spacers as well.
Repeat until the wall is complete. You will need to make special cuts for outlets, light switches, etc.
Once your planks are securely installed, use your spackle to fill in the nail holes. I also spackled the seams where 2 boards butt up against each other on the long wall. Let it dry completely and then sand them down so that they are smooth and ready for paint.
You will use liquid nails to attach the corner finish pieces to cover up the edges of the boards. I like to get the indoor/outdoor kind because its stronger and dries faster.
At this point you want to do a thorough cleaning job. I used my broom to sweep as much saw dust as I could off the wall first, then vacuumed out the spaces between each board, and finally used a wet rag to wipe down the whole wall.
Caulk the ceiling edges and anywhere else that needs it.
Finish with a couple fresh coats of paint. We chose to use Behr Ultra Pure White
Don’t let a project like this intimidate you. You are 100% capable of doing this all by yourself too. It’s a lot of work, but every single time i see the end result, a smile beams across my face. I love the way it looks almost as much as i love the way it feels. This entryway is definitely ready to make a lasting first impression.
Are their areas in your home that you would like to update? What kind of projects do you want to do in your home, but just aren’t sure where to start? Tell me about it in the comments below.