Starting With the Standard

When we moved into this house a year ago, it only took me a few days to break something. That something was the top of the commode (where the up-top water tank is). There was a toddler training seat affixed to the regular seat and it got caught and lifted the lid up, and bash it went and cracked into two pieces.


Situations like this haunt me. It’s driven me mad that my guest bathroom had a crack in an obvious place and all I could think about was replacing it but never had the time to hunt down the perfect replacement. Enter: Best. Solution. Ever.

making a house a home I guest bathroom I


As you can see, this mood board is a tad different than the previous bathroom post we did, and for good reason. We recently learned about the VorMax by American Standard which is a toilet that basically cleans itself. Ya heard me. Best excuse to replace the whole thing, don’t you think?

making a house a home I toilet line up I

We chose the elongated Estate option (VorMax has three options) in white which led to changing a few other decisions on the bathroom overall. We need to do some serious real-world measurements once we install the toilet before committing to a new sink. That makes a mirror and lighting choice a bit hard before we know what the sink will be.

The plan from the original post was this:

Keep: Floor, tub, toilet

Replace: sink, faucet, lights, switches, toilet flush, towel bars, trash bin, toilet paper holder, shower curtain

Add: wallpaper, small table, shower shelf above towel bar

Remove: Stained glass

Edit: The feet of the tub will go black instead of silver.

Now it looks more like this:

Keep: Floor, tub

Replace: sink, faucet, lights, switches, toilet flush, towel bars, trash bin, toilet paper holder, shower curtain, toilet

Add: wallpaper, small table, shower shelf above towel bar

Remove: Stained glass

Edit: The feet of the tub will go black instead of silver.

making a house a home I guest bath before I

And here is where we are at now. The wallpaper is up… and that’s kinda it. It’s a huge improvement, (in our humble opinion) but it’s time to take this bathroom to the next level. And when it’s done I think we’ll call it a water closet. It just sounds classier.

making a house a home I guest bathroom I

From all the review reading and research we did, it looks like this new toilet is going to be a game changer. Less need to clean the bowl is a very very very good thing in my book, because let’s be honest, it’s everyone’s least favorite chore. It’s a simple but meaningful edit to a room that gets a lot of attention.

Installing our new bathroom centerpiece is the next step in revamping the room, and we’ll be going through that step-by-step and some of the other changes in the very near future. Should be a snap, especially since we can work right through the bathroom breaks.



making a house a home I american standard I

We are ditching our TV…. (major giveaway!)

…not because we went all “I now exclusively read for entertainment”,  but because I finally had enough of working our massive black-box of a TV into our current and future design of our living room. Also, I have nightmares of the TV falling on Atlas. I must have pinned a thousand different ways to “hide” your TV. Place art around it. DIY a wood box around it. Place art over it. You name it, I pinned it and cringed. Don’t get me wrong, we will still be watching Disney movie marathons, snuggling up to Downton Abbey when the babe falls asleep, and dancing along to the Creature Report from Octonauts…..and we will be doing it in the living room.

Since our old house in New York, we have been chatting about a projector, but chickened out ever single time it came to actually committing to a make and model. We had a few things to consider:

  • What projector works for our needs? Wait, what are our needs?
  • Speakers.
  • A screen.
  • Where do you put it?

So when Acer contacted us about trying out one of their projectors, we were very excited to say the least. The timing is perfect because we have been meeting with contractors about busting through the front of our house and adding a few hundred square feet to make the living room, well, more livable.


making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

We decided before buying a screen and speakers and a mount, we would live with the projector for a little bit in our current living room to see how we adapted to this very-new-to-us way of watching “TV”.

We were sold on the first night. 

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

We have begun doing movie nights when Atlas is behaving extra good. We take out his VW bus tent he loves so much, and a ton of pillows and blankets and make a bit of a mess as we “camp” in the living room to watch a movie. The projector put it over the top, and has also been way easier to manage for every day use than we thought.

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

making a house a home I living room theater renovation I

The Acer H6510 3D Projector we have fallen for is around $600 depending where you buy it. We have been projecting on the (white) wall, and it’s been great, but certainly not a long term solution. We decided to invest in an in-ceiling/ceiling recessed projector screen so it’s completely hidden when it’s not in use, and also easily accessible by remote when we are ready to relax and snuggle. The screens seem to be ranging anywhere from $100-ish for a nothing fancy screen to $700+ for a 120″ fully loaded model.

making a house a home I in ceiling projector screen  I

The speaker situation we haven’t quite nailed down yet because we are still developing the room and furniture layout, but here is a little before and after reno so you don’t have to close your eyes real tight and envision it.

making a house a home I living room renovation I



This phase of our renovation will include expanding Atlas’ room and turning it into a work/play room for him, moving him to our room, and moving us upstairs. We will get into all of that after we finish painting, do this renovation, finish our AirBNB tour, decide if unit “B” will actually be an AirBNB, and put a stinkin’ light in our room. A little ways, I know, but I figure we would spill some of the plan because it looks like we are losing a bedroom (which we are, kind of), but in reality we will have three awesome bedrooms instead of two tiny one’s and a master suite. The wall of the expanded bedroom is where the projector screen will go, and the projector will get mounted on the ceiling head-on, across the room.

What we are focusing on at the moment is expanding the living room into the porch and Atlas’ current work/play room. This cottage we live in now took some time to figure out. Like our old home (which was three times the size), the actual layout didn’t work for us daily. It was too spread out, too segmented, too much to clean and maintain. This home is was less intimidating and reasonable to edit. We had originally planned on building (which we still may do some day) and think making larger and more dramatic edits to this house will be great training if we decide to build one day in the future.

We are so excited about this project and can’t wait to finish all the design details and get this genius contraption installed and running. We will do some follow up posts to share what speakers and screen we landed on, and progress of the renovation along the way. In the mean time, why don’t you go enter to win yourself one of these Acer H6510 3D Projector AND AN Aspire Switch 11 AND AN Aspire AZ3 Touch All-in-One! Pretty amazing, right?!


Huge thanks to Acer for sponsoring this post and letting us test out the projector! Huge thanks to you for following along as we gut and paint and decorate and support our very amazing sponsors. 


Welcome to The Rich Hippies House

We have chatted about the MAHAH Project House / The Rich Hippies House a little here and there, but have yet to dig in because, well, it’s been chaotic. We have been on a tight budget with not a lot of time to spare (tick-tock goes the mortgage payment requirements), so today is like a part 1 visual party of before and after and what/how much.

The tiny peek we shared before was on this post, which may be why you remember this less-than- memorable looking house. It’s a duplex from 1960 and is having identity issues. We will do a whole big post about exterior dreams soon enough, but for now we want to show you the soul of the beast. I rich hippies house I

This is our first AirBNB and we are no stranger to making a mistake or two, but hope we were methodical and mindful enough to dive into the hospitality industry head first and without flaws. We wanted a bright and cherry spot for people visiting Nashville to call home, and feel at home. We arranged the bedrooms to accommodate lets say, a family visiting, as well as spring breakers – diversity friends, it was a tad tricky. It’s how we landed on the Queen bedroom, and the two twins bedroom with an “emergency couch” option. The unit as we lovingly refer to as “Unit A” (we will be more creative eventually” is 900 sqft. That’s way bigger than the adverse local hotel room, and is also way cheaper. We are hoping this is a no brainer for those visiting.

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I I rich hippies house I I rich hippies house I I rich hippies house I

The Queen room is tucked in the back of the unit and most private and we wanted it to be romantic, but not too girly. I imagine while hosting guests we will get enough feedback to make edits to make it perfect, but we went with our gut on the decor. Simple, non fussy, and fresh.

Queen Room Sources:

Stool from Target $64.99

Plant stand, vintage $5

Bedframe $75

Rug on Sale at Rugs USA $177 + free ship

End tables craigslist  $80/pair

Paint Delicate White from Olympic One / Black Magic for the “space” detail in matte, and Harbor Light and Little Lilac for the stars, also from Olympic One.

Curtains from Target $19/Pair

Chandelier I have had for over a decade.

This room needed floor refinishing (outsourced) painting (a la Joey), new windows (the whole upper lever of the house got them and it was about $3,800 and made such a HUGE difference) and an electrician came in to make sure things were safe and moved things around. This was the easiest room by far.

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

All the before images look waaaay better than it actually was. The yellow walls with all the brown, the windows with decades of dead plants and birds nests and track lighting was so depressing. The new windows, lights and paint did so much to make this drab pad into a happy and cheerful place to visit.

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

After we thumbs upped the white paint, things started to look and feel as they should.

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

The kitchen needed a new countertop, paint, and a good cleaning. We have some ideas brewing for future edits, like replacing that tile and adding some shelves under those high cabinets

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

We added a row of Ikea bookshelves along the whole length of the living area and will be talking about what and how much in part 2 of the tour, so for now, ignore them.

Living Area Sources:

The hyde rug was from ABC Carpet and home on sale for $200, the easily expandable dining table  was from Ikea, and the 1900’s cane chairs are temporary as we reupholster the $20 find’s from Craigslist.

The slat bench was a local find at $150, the huge brass lamp we got at the Nashville flea market for $40. The small brass table was a $40 steal from a neighbor.

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

the rich hippies house I east nashville airbnb I

We were lucky enough to snag a bunch of rugs at Rugs USA on sale 60%-70% off with free shipping, so that saved a ton. That floor lamp was another local neighbor find at $60 and the couch was $125, and we plan to reupholster it.

In part 2 of the tour we will share the other bedroom, hallway, and how we did the built-in look really affordably. Do you have an airBNB? Any tips you would like to share? I would love to see your listing!

xo,lana katsaros I




Feast your eyes on our brand new (to us!) beauty!

project house

She even came with this charming scene in the basement.

creepy doll on toilet

No joke. We had to make a special request for the removal of this doll. If you know us by now, you know the weirder and more beat up the better. We watched them put the For Sale sign up from our living room, called, and offered all in the same day. With some minor (major!) bumps in the road, we finally closed last week and were able to share the news. Actual view from our house to the project house below, for your viewing pleasure.

project house

So this house is kind of funky, not only in looks, but in function. It has two 900 sqft apartments on the main level, and then a completely open 1800 sqft basement. The basement has it’s own entrance, and it’s under that random awning. It’s where the creepy doll currently lives, but we have big ‘ol dreams to make it amazing.

raw basement

Before I start making moodboards and picking out rugs, the basics needs to get done. This house needs a lot of TLC. We have mold to remove, appliances to get, paint, paint, paint, crazy landscaping, and before winter gets here, windows. Lots and lots of windows.

Window Weriedness

Some are cracked, some are confused, all need to be replaced. We have never replaced the windows in any of our homes before. Our New York home was a 1930 tudor, and had awesome diamond shaped pattern leaded windows, which were pretty on the eyes and awful on the heating bill. Silly us, we never found a solution to keep the pretty and make the bills less than $1,000 a month each winter.


But they were pretty. So very pretty. Our goal now is to replace the windows, make sure they are efficient, and add some pretty to the crazy happening. Being we are new to this whole window game, we spent a lot of time doing research. We even went to a home trade show here in Nashville to get a crash course on what’s out there. What we landed on is pretty special.

pell a window example

pella example

These pretty windows are from a company called Pella. They make all sorts of useful pretty things for the home. These windows are a winner not only because they look good, but because of this….

blinds between glass

Yes! You can pick any color that works with your home and sandwich blinds between the glass simply and easily. As a new mom, this is a game changer and I wish I knew about this before Atlas met up with toddlerhood. Look how happy that lady is. She knows days of dusting blinds are over, and she is stoked. So our brilliant idea is to replace all the ancient windows with these awesome energy efficient, pretty, functional windows.

pella window


pella grill

We are thinking the Designer Series (double hung with that chichi grill) in white would be a great pick because we plan to add shutters and lime wash the house. Think window boxes over filled and ice tea on the nonexistent porch mixed up with this gorgeous inspiration photo below.

pella inspiration


pella inspiration 2


We are so excited about our project house and can’t wait to take you on the journey. It’s crazy that when we first decided to move we honestly thought we were building a house, not buying two homes across the street from each other!


lana katsaros I








Who do I look like, Prince Leopold!? We don’t need no stinkin’ chair rails! Now put on your best 18th Century garb and lets tear up some wall. Or, ideally, not tear it up.

making a house a home I east nashville dining room I

Princess Lana decreed that chair rails shall be banished from within our domicile walls and the little boy in me said, “Huzzah! To the shed!” or something like that. All outdated language aside, here is the quick and easy way to remove a chair rail without destroying your walls.

making  a house a home I how to remove chair rail I

making  a house a home I how to remove chair rail I

You are going to need: A box cutter. A flathead screwdriver or other prying tool (Preferably a spackling tool. The more surface area the tool has on the wall the less likely you are to punch a hole in said wall). And a hammer. What could be more fun? High tea? I think not.

On the top side of your chair rail is going to be a strip of caulk. That’s where your box cutter comes in. You are going to cut through it for the whole length of the chair rail. BOOM, DONE. (with that)

making a house a home I remove chair rail I

Second you are going to take your prying device of choice and place it under the chair rail where it meets the wall. Give it a few little taps with your hammer and it should gain entry to the secrets beneath. Using the knowledge you gained in grade school about levers, you will pull the prying device towards you in a fashion that creates enough force for the chair rail to release it’s clutches from your wall. As you create new space between the rail and the wall just keep moving your prying tool to the point where the rail is closest to the wall and continue prying until the rail not longer resides on your wall. I probably didn’t need that last sentence, but I can’t help myself. Sorry.

making a house a home I remove chair rail I

Well guys and gals. That is pretty much it. Now the tedious part.

If you used a spackling tool to pry the rail from the wall, guess what? One less trip to the tool shed for you. Bust out some quick drying spackle and start making the wall flush again. No doubt your newly vacated chair rail has left some unevenness. If you are a real go getter, you should lightly sand the wall first to remove any blatant mountains of caulk left over from the removal. You can run your spackling tool along the caulk to quickly remove the majority of it, but sanding will make your life easier in the long run.

making a house a home I how to remove chair rail I

Let the caulk dry and then sand again. Then you may want to spackle one more time to get it perfect if you like. THEN SAND AGAIN!

making a house a home I east nashville dining room I

making  a house a home I how to remove chair rail I

Unless you are going for the “Giant uneven line” look you are going to want to paint the entire room. I’m not even gonna get into that. Painting is my Austro-Prussian War. Different Prince Leopold I think, but how much 18th Century european research did you think I was going to do for an article on chair rails? Leave your complaints in the comment section.

Gettin’ Touchy

There are a few things in life that have become so ubiquitous we never give them a second thought. Gas on the right, brake on the left. QWERTY keyboards. Horribly ugly and outdated light switches. My name is Joey, and I’m here to break the cycle.

making a house a home I adorn light switch I

Pretty, ain’t she? These are from a company called LeGrand. Specifically, these are from the Adorne line. Continuing with our tradition of “If it’s brass, we won’t pass” (terrible line I know, but I’m not a poet) and pairing that with their slick touch sensors and dimmers we are floored how such a quick and easy change to a room can make such a huge difference.


adorn lightswitch

Whaddup, ugly? You can play dress up with these, but there is only so much lipstick you can slap on a pig. Lemme show you how 5 minutes turns a pig into… the opposite of a pig when referencing design. I’m not a poet, remember.

adorn light switch

TURN YOUR POWER OFF. If you aren’t sure if you have turned the power off to the switch, just go ahead and tell everyone in your house they can catch the Scooby Doo marathon in a few minutes and turn the power off to the whole house. If you are not sure how to do any of this, call an electrician. Ok… now that that’s out of the way, do the obvious. Take the screws out of the faceplate from the old switches and then take the screws that hold in the switch itself off as well. Give it a little (gentle) tug and you should end up like the pic above.


Remove the wires from the old switch. Some of the newer switches have a small release button you can depress to let the wires out. I decided I didn’t have time for that and just cut mine. You’ll be left with something that looks like this. There are 3 wires here because it was a 3 way switch. If you only have 2, good for you! Even simpler.

adorn light switch

Here are the components for installing Adorne’s dimmer switch. The switch itself up top, the backing plate in the middle, and the beautiful faceplate on bottom.

adorn light switch

Alright. Admittedly I got ahead of myself before I took this picture. I installed the backing plate and then, in my excitement I wired the switch and then snapped the pic. Let me just say this. The backing plate just screws into the box in your wall just as the old switch did. There is no need for modification or tears. The only thing to note here is that the backing plate has the ground wire attached to it. So you’ll want to properly attach your ground wire before screwing the plate in. Especially for the touch sensors which may not work if they aren’t properly grounded. Anyway, connect the “HOT” wire to the hole marked “HOT” (Imagine that!) And then, and I’m not an electrician, but it says in the instructions to “Connect one of the other wires to 1-Pole.” and then “Connect remaining wire to 3-Way”. So I guess that is pretty hard to screw up. It’s all labeled on the back of the switch unlike the switches I removed which made some of my wires hard to figure out. Once again, TURN YOUR POWER OFF.

adorn light switch

Push the wires back into the hole in the wall and then ease the new switch into the backing plate. It fits snuggly and has a reassuring feel to it. It will never miss a soccer game.

making a house a home I adorn light switch I

The faceplate just pops on. Snaps into place and if you need to remove it there is a little tab on the top or bottom that you can easily pop it right back off. Ain’t it LeGrand? Ugh… I’ll sign up for poetry class this week, I promise.

making a house a home I adorn light switch I


PS. If you like home improvement projects, we got a bunch to share here. Happy Hump Day!


Flip the light fantastic

If there is one thing that you could have in a room above all else, what would it be?

Did you say light? Cause if you didn’t, you may want to rethink your answer. No one is going to care how stunning that life sized statue of Casey Affleck is when they have just broken their nose walking into the clenched fist of your 2-1 scale Mike Tyson statue that towers in the middle of the room ’cause it’s pitch black in there.

Alright… Extreme example, yes. And now that we have established the importance of lighting, we can move on to this mega-cool light Lana snagged from the internets.

how to replace ceiling light

No not that one.

vintage ceiling light

This one with the rad cowboy and laid back beach ladies. And just in case Atlas gets lost in his room (I know, unlikely given his name) there is a handy dandy compass printed on there which I pointed, generally, in the correct direction for him.

Since this was an internet buy and is vintage you can’t expect it to come with all the hardware needed to install it. Thankfully this was just a simple case of picking up a modern version of the same light and using the hardware from that. They still make lights just like this with the mounting brackets needed at basically any of the bigger home improvement stores. It ended up being cheaper to just buy the whole light instead of trying to track down the bracket itself. Here’s what we bought for less than $12.

how to replace ceiling light

And here is all the stuff laid out for a picture. This step is not required.

how to install ceiling light

Installation is a snap. Actually more of a laborious meander through your own mind, trying to stay focused. It is that simple. Please make sure your power is off before you go messing with wires in your house.

install ceiling light

Remove the old light. Then replace the mounting bracket that was with the old light with the new one.  Then two screws should find their way into the box in the ceiling to hold the bracket in place. The wires you will need to run to your new light should go through the middle hole of the new bracket. Wire up that snazzy new illuminator (black to black, white to white please) and then use the screws to mount the light flush to the ceiling. You may need to adjust distance you let the light mounting screws (or the screws that secure the bracket to the box) protrude from the mounting bracket in order to get the light to fit snugly flush.

Oh JOY! now you can attach the colorful, happy, outdoor themed light diffuser to the ceiling as well. Then you notice something…

vintage ceiling light

Snap! The ceiling is discolored from the old light because, of course it is! So expect a follow up post once we decide if we are painting the ceiling, or finding a medallion we like. 

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