There should totally be an “S” on the end of that.  It’s not a project.  It’s projects.  A lot of them that add up to one, huge, pull out the big girl swear words PROJECT.

The “S” at the end of words almost always stands for swearing as I’m sure you know.  Often when you add an “S” to the end of something the result is swearing because it intensifies and compounds whatever gross word is in front of it. Something that you can calmly deal with  in its singular version becomes much worse when there’s more than one of them.  Case(s) in point: Electrical Shocks.  Mosquito bites. Monsters.  Lima Beans.  3 and a Half Mens.  All worse than the singular version.

So I have a lot of projects that once completed will result in one big project with many swear words uttered along the way.

One of the very first posts I wrote when I started this blog was about how I literally sold/gave away/donated almost every piece of furniture that I owned and started from scratch.

I got rid of the red velvet couch, the side tables I found in the garbage, the lamps I found in the garbage, the red walls, the yellow walls, the stripes, the clutter, the weird-ass massive dining room “set”.  Gone.  One month later, I’d painted my whole house white, bought new furniture, and given up garbage furniture forever.  I’m just kidding. That’s ridiculous.  I’ll never give up garbage furniture.  In fact this chair is garbage furniture.

What does this have to do with My Big Spring Project this year?

I’m doing it all over again.

It was almost 10 years ago that I overhauled my house so it’s been almost 10 years since I’ve painted it.  The whole house needs to be freshened up, especially since I have a fireplace that I use every winter.  Plus there are these marks on the foyer ceiling from hauling a too tall Christmas tree into the room.

And then doing it again and again until the tree was in the right place.




So that’s the #1 project.  Paint the whole house white again.  Including the ceilings.

Once that’s done I can get to part #2, which again, is made up of many different parts and projects.

I have a dining room which I use to dine in about 6 times a year.  Tops.  The other 359 days of the year it’s a room that I walk through to get to the kitchen.  A very fancy hallway basically.  All of that ends this spring.

This spring I’m reconfiguring things to make the dining room a Library/Dining Room combo complete with built in bookcases around the room, a big jigsaw puzzle, gardening research books and whatever else I want on the table.  Ready and waiting for action, not just a breezing through while I go to the kitchen for a paper towel to wipe up centipede guts.  There will be a bench to make sitting down and getting up easier.  Yes.  I am that lazy and that busy.  I do not have the time or energy to sit in an actual chair. I want to be able to slide in and slide out of my seat without using my hands at all.

This will be particularly useful when I want to sit down while juggling oranges, as I often do.

The best part?  If I want to eat in the dining room, I can eat in the dining room. I’ll still have my great, big, harvest table with seating all around it.

The bookcases.  So they’re going to be a bit of a thing.

Since I already had bookcases in my foyer, I dragged them into my dining room to live with them for a few weeks to make sure I was going to like them.

I do.


It’s amazing how they transform this area into a room.  An actual room that feels like a room.

I still have to figure out how to configure the bookcases.  I have 3 ideas in my head as of now so I’ll have to play around with some online programs to see which one I’m likely to like the most.

Once the bookcases are in there permanently (along with however many more I need to fill the room) I’m going to have to find another purpose for my foyer because I’m stealing the bookcases from in there.


Photo by Donna Griffith


I loved the bookcases in my foyer, but it never felt like an actual library to me.  With the dining room I have higher ceilings so I can add more height to the bookcases through extenders which means I MIGHT even be able to have a library ladder.

I’ll possibly be dragging the buffet from my dining room into the foyer to put where the bookcases were, but I’d also like some sort of seating.  But I always wanted a marble tulip table instead of the silver table and that would look weird right beside a buffet.  But I’ve always wanted it.  But there won’t be room.  But, but, but.



photo by Donna Griffith

Clearly I don’t have this all worked out yet.

But (yes another but) sometimes you can’t wait to do something until you have it all figured out because it may never happen.  And sometimes the only way you can figure something out is by just starting.

Then there’s the living room.  I can’t afford to get all new furniture in there, although I’d love to but if I can swing it I’d like to at least get a real chair (God rest the garbage chair).  I’ve been talking about getting either an iconic or non-iconic Midcentury Modern chair for in there but I just haven’t done it.   I also think I’d maybe like a vintage leather club chair.  So again, I don’t have this all worked out yet.

Even though everything is going to look completely different it shouldn’t be too huge of an expense because I’m mainly repurposing stuff I already own.  It’s amazing how easily fooled we are.  I can convince myself I’ve completely redecorated my house just by moving things from here to there.  I do it all the time.

I wish I could say this is all I have to do this spring, but there’s some work on the chicken coop to do, a waterfall that needs to be fixed, a new garden plot to dig up (along with the old one), some eavestroughs to be painted and some gates to be built.  Which were supposed to be built last summer.

Wish me good luck and happy swearing.


  1. Auntiepatch says:

    Oh. My. Glad it’s not me! Good Luck!

  2. Mark says:

    Is your house made with lathe and plaster? Your ceiling looks pretty solid. Most older lathe and plaster ceilings I have seen need repairs at some time or other. Hope all of yours are free from that pain in the butt.

  3. Michelle says:

    Oh Karen, if you need to talk through all the mental trauma from ceiling painting please feel free to contact me. I know exactly what you are about to embark upon. 2200 sq ft of ceiling painted by me. I will never ever paint another ceiling. Ick yuck cuss. Lots of cussing. Walls are fine ceiling just suck. You get a long term crick in the neck, paint in eyes hair everywhere. Ok I am sure you’ve painted many ceilings but in case you have amnesia? Anyway I love your dining room conversion. It is exactly what caused our drama. We removed a wall and closet in a bedroom to convert it into a dining room. That led to the infestation discovery. Which led to lots of painting. Our dining area also has book cases and a huge antique Spanish door I made into a table. So good luck and I’m here for you! Excited to see the transformation because your house is lovely. Btw I’ve got the MCM Danish chair that needs a home. figure out a way to get it to you and it is yours. Gorgeous but my home is Spanish colonial.

  4. Brenda says:

    Don’t you wish if you just said it – it would mean it’s done … That old garbage chair and the silver table are still pretty darn swear word amazing (and that wonderfully big tall gold framed lady painting) … Yay more bookcases and a library and a slide on and off stool

  5. Ken, yeah that guy. says:

    Another one. Would you ease up on the projects I should have done a years ago, but really never want to?
    I have procrastinating to do.
    When I get around to it.
    Previous tenants painted.
    Or puked, not really sure even now.
    The smell and colour were close enough to fool my friend the “decorator”.(Even though I can cut in and paint a room as fast as he does.)
    Ideas on paint that costs less than good whiskey per gallon?
    I’ll be possibly, someday, covering curry vomit orange and 3 week old corpse grey.
    Maybe I’ll just live in my tree stand.

  6. Karen says:

    Some of the house is plaster and lathe and some is regular drywall. The foyer (with the christmas tree marks) is plaster, the dining room is drywall. ~ karen!

  7. Karen says:

    Hmm. Send me a pic. 🙂 ~ karen!

  8. erin hall says:

    do you know what white you are going to use? i am repainting half my house white and the other half charcoal and navys. have all the paint just not the motivation. my kids and husband have made the walls so gross they need a really good scrubbing which i dont feel like doing.

  9. Bobbles says:

    As I have said, I’m new to your blog (4 days old) and love it! I love reading the old pieces and links! What I HATE is when I click a link and it forwards in the same page that I’m reading now. It doesn’t open in a new page. I don’t think it’s my error, other blogs open links on a new page. But it often means that, as I follow links, I end up somewhere in Kansas and can’t find my way home! Thanks!

  10. Karen says:

    You could do that. Or you could just go to Home Depot, get some Behr paint (cheaper than Benjamin Moore and really good) and get it over with. Then you can convert the tree stand into a dining room/library. ~ karen!

  11. Karen says:

    Cloud White Erin. 🙂 ~ karen!

  12. Karen says:

    Yup. Some people hate that. Other people love it because to get back to where they were they just have to press the back button. Basically there’s a 50/50 chance one is going to hate the way the link is. ~ karen!

  13. nancy says:

    You just SCREWED YOURSELF. #1 rule. Never say never. You will paint ceilings again. And that stupid pink paint that turns white is helpful but awful looking after a while.

  14. Valerie says:

    Painted ceilings improve any room. A few suggestions:

    use a thick roller on a stick
    take a paper plate with a hole in the centre and thread this onto your stick behind the roller – tape in place; this will prevent many drips from hitting you on the head or the floor
    wear a shower cap
    cover the floor with plastic, completely – take out the furniture if feasible
    select the whitest paint you can find particularly for the ceiling even if you choose a different white for the walls
    Best of British luck

  15. Bobbles says:

    Thank you so much! I feel better about it, knowing I have a 50% chance. I love your blog!

  16. Grammy says:

    No matter how many ceilings you’ve painted in your life, there will come a day when you realize you have just painted the last *&%#@$%! ceiling you will ever paint. Because the older you get, the more it hurts and it gets to where you think the pain in your neck and shoulders will never stop and then it gets to where you KNOW it will never stop. You’re still young enough to maybe have one major ceiling painting left in you, so make the most of it and maybe you won’t need to do it again ever. Right. I’m just kidding. You’ll need it done again sometime. But make it last this time so you actually feel justified hiring a ceiling painter next time around (what with you being elderly and all by then).

    Your project(s) are wonderful. Of course you’ll keep us informed about the progress, and then we’ll have to wait awhile to see the finished results till your remodeling appears in a national magazine, but I’m good with that. Carry on.

  17. MissChris SA says:

    You are going to be very busy!!

    Enjoy and just think of the end result while you are swearing away!!

  18. Kathleen says:

    Well then, all that is left to do is whish you good luck! And I am exhausted after reading this, and it’s only 06:57 in South Africa!
    PS Idris Elba was here in SA and he performed at a Jazz Festival in Cape Town. Pity I missed it! 🙁

  19. TucsonPatty says:

    I’ve been a slug-a-bed today, and you helped it feel even sluggier(!). I am always tired after reading your to-do list, and now Ken and Grammy are making me realize just how old I am!! Ha! Such a great plan, and you will love the floor to ceiling shelves!
    I have a 15 ft wall of floor to ceiling bookshelves in my living room, and at one time there were several (many) shelves two deep. I had a major clean out nd th Friends of the Library had a hayday. I’ve tried really hard to not do that again – the public library is your friend. Make it a great wonderful chair to snuggle down into, so you can sit and read and read and read…

  20. Marna says:

    Wow you always have a lot of projects, and you actually do them! Don’t make me think of how I need to finish painting inside my house, been doing it slowly, too old now, have a bad neck and back so I do hate those ceilings. Can’t wait to follow along as you work on your projectS! 🙂

  21. Denise Leavens says:

    You made me so happy by showing your Christmas-tree-marked ceiling! I knew there HAD to me more of us out there! Yippee, we’re not the only ones!

  22. Stephanie Hobson says:

    You can right click and select “Open Link in New Tab”. Then you can have a million tabs open at the same time!

  23. Margaret K. says:

    Please test sit your new chair before you buy it. Some of those “modern” chairs are horrible to sit in for any length of time. I still love my 43-year-old armchair which has been professionally recovered once so far. My husband asks me every so often if I wouldn’t rather have a new one. And I reply that it’s still the most comfortable that I have ever sat in and I am NOT giving it up.

    I appreciate your readers’ tips on painting ceilings and look forward to yours. We will finally be getting around to giving our rooms a fresh coat of paint later this year.

  24. Tina Jeffrey says:

    OMG, you’re brilliant! (and I’m old…I wasn’t raised with computers) 😀

  25. Penny says:

    Yep, the gods (I’m guessing Norse gods, they seemed to have a sick-puppy streak) just luurrve to stick it to people who say ‘never’!
    Michelle will indeed paint ceilings again, forgetting to put on the backwards baseball cap until the first dollop of stupid pink paint lands in her hair.

  26. Amy Ping says:

    Happy swearing!! Can’t wait to see how it goes. Pls let me know if you need suggestions on swear words. I happen to know quite a few and my 3 yr old repeats them. I know! I’m so proud of her! Haha

  27. Penny says:

    Wishing you all the luck you’ll need for your projects, Karen. I’ve never read one of your posts before that threw so many ideas out in such a few paragraphs. You must be inspired – either that or you’ve had too much coffee!
    Your ‘dining room as pointless hallway’ comment really gave me pause. My own dining room is used as such only ONCE a year, on Christmas day. The rest of the time it’s just the way out to the garden, through the patio doors, or the space where I set up the clothes airer on wet washing days.
    Dagnabbit, woman, now I’VE got a project! WhatchewgodoDATfor???

  28. Jacquie says:

    The bookshelves look great next to Margaret. Good luck Karen. PS, I’ve always found getting up high on a ladder with a normal roller is easier on the body than trying to use a long pole from the floor. Don’t forget a shower cap and I have an old pair of glasses I use for painting too instead of my daily ones.

  29. Jody says:

    Well that sounds like crazy fun?! I have a paint roller with the reservoir for the paint. Kinda like a big paint syringe. It did make painting go a lot faster. You can borrow it if you want.

  30. Ei Con says:

    Such ambition for such a tiny girl! I know our ceilings have not been painted in the 21 years we’ve been in our house and most probably never been repainted since the house was built in 1986. Popcorn finish plus cathedral heights ensured that. I’ll be officially elderly in a couple years so then I can justify hiring a painter to do it. But oh the expense! It burns! it burns!!

  31. Monique says:

    Painting the ceiling..does “suck” however nothing was worse than my wallpapering my ceilings..yes I did that..many many years a few houses ago:)
    It’s all going to look great karen..everything you do turns out so well.

  32. Mel Robicheau says:

    I have popcorn ceilings in most of my house and haven’t painted in the 9 years we’ve lived here. They are so yucky. How do you paint them without them crumbling? Or wait… maybe you are the wrong one to ask since you haven’t painted yours.

  33. Ann Brookens says:

    Penny, you’ll LOVE your new library/art studio/craft room/office/play area! AND you’ll get so much more use out of it!

  34. Amber says:

    Beware the leather club chair. It looks so good in the magazine, then you realize it’s way too big and clunky and dark for any place outside of a small smoky club room. Get some amazing fabric and reupholster, much more classy. If you’re not sure, steal a cow hide from someone, drape it over a chair and see what the cats do to it in a week. You’ll thank me 😉

  35. Susan says:

    That sideboard would make a great base for one of your bookshelves. Kind of like a secretary. And all the dining room stuff that’s in your sideboard would still be in your dining room.
    You’re lucky to have furniture you can change occasionally. My sideboard lives in the livingroom of this house, which could and probably will be my last. It’s solid mahogany, huge, and always the elephant in the room when I try to decorate. But my great grandparents bought it at an estate sale of one of the big brewing families, can’t remember which at the moment. I’m a senior, so you can imagine how old it is and of course, I can’t part with it and my only son doesn’t want it at the moment. So it sits there and demands that every room be buillt around it.

  36. Ann Brookens says:

    Love, love, LOVE the idea of floor to ceiling bookshelves wall to wall in the dining room. EXCELLENT use of a room so seldom used! And buy the marble tulip table. Figure out how to configure the foyer after you have the piece of furniture that you most want to put in it.
    I, personally, could easily furnish a house in wall to wall bookshelves. It never seems to be a problem filling them up, what with my childhood knick knack collection, interesting rocks/branches/pinecones/sea shells, things my kids give me– like an official Star Trek tribble or Marvin the Martian figure, and the twenty million books I continually add to.

  37. danni says:

    Ohhhhh I love what paint can do, and a clean white ceiling is the best. I use Kilz and call it a day. Seals any stains, leave a perfect matte finish. Two coats of that and it’s good to go.
    I just painted a room for the second time in a month. Color I put up wasn’t quite right, and set my teeth on edge every time I passed through. Had to re-do once I put new paint samples on the walls! Can’t back out of it then!

  38. Ann Brookens says:

    Did anyone see the animated movie Zootopia? (Maybe it is called Zootropolis in Canada, like it was in England.) Idris Elba voiced the chief of police. I watched it, thinking, “Who was the sexy voice of the Cape Buffalo?” It was Idris.

  39. Karin Sorensen says:

    paperplate….holy cow, that’s GENIUS !!!!! i’ve never thought of that.

    thank you, dear kind British stranger from the bottom of my German heart.


  40. Ann Brookens says:

    Paint sprayer?

  41. jainegayer says:

    I can’t wait to see the “after” photos!
    Had our very inexpensive painter (swore I would never paint again) paint the ceilings and walls the same Beni Moore “chantilly lace” creamy white. It’s been over a year and I still love it. And I LOVE your bench! Where did you find wood that wide?

  42. Ann Brookens says:

    Our cats clawed the heck out of our leather office chair while climbing up to sit on the back. Might want to rethink that one, Karen.

  43. Jan in Waterdown says:

    I think there are big fluffy rollers meant for use on popcorn ceilings. Not that I know for sure since my 33 yr old ones have never been painted and likely never will. I would much rather remove said popcorn but I think that would be a hugely messy and possibly divorce causing event.

  44. Ann Brookens says:

    How old is that sideboard, Susan? Early to mid-1800’s?

    And Karen using hers as a bookshelf base is brilliant!

  45. Lucy Loper says:

    I’m so excited you’re going with a library/dining room hybrid. I looked online last year for ideas and ended up copying an IKEA hack that looks like it was built with this 1907 four square. You are going to LOVE it.

  46. Michelle McKay says:

    I have re-read & had your original “starting from scratch” post open for a bit now, wanting to do the same!!!!
    Can’t wait to see your dining/entry/living room transformation. Happy swearing (I’m sure most of it will be when you’re painting the ceiling) 😉

  47. Linda in Illinois says:

    Karen you are amazing. I love your ambition. I want it. Good luck, can’t wait to see results.

  48. Carswell says:

    I just did my living room ceiling over Christmas – and I’m hiring someone to do the other rooms. My living room is only 8 feet and smallish (12×14) so I thought it wouldn’t be too bad.

    I was wrong. I hurt all over – like you say there comes a point when it just ain’t worth it. It made doing the walls and trim so onerous – because I did the ceiling first.

    At any rate – the ceilings in the kitchen/dining area are well over 9 feet and then there’s the stairwell going up into a skylight. Nope, not gonna do it.

  49. Kristin D. says:

    This was a real roller coaster of a post for me! When I started reading, I thought, “Holy bleep, she’s gonna get rid of all her stuff! I want it!” But then I read on to see you meant you’re painting again, not getting rid of all your stuff again. And then, you mentioned taking the silver table out of the foyer, and I was all excited again, thinking, “Will she sell it? Has anyone else called dibs on it already? Squee!” And then, down again, thinking, “She’s not gonna sell it, and if she does, it won’t be to me, or it’ll be super expensive.”
    On a random side note, how do you pronounce foyer when you say it out loud or in your head? Do you say, “FOY-er” like “lawyer” or “FOY-yay” like some other word with a snooty French accent I can’t think of right now?

  50. Diane R. says:

    Hi Karen,
    Is that big white fluffy throw new? I remember the little one and I’d love to know where you
    purchased the large one? Looking forward to the day we can see your completed projects.
    Snowing here in Mass….UGH!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)

  • About Karen

  • About Karen

  • My Latest Videos

The Art of Doing Stuff