What I’ve Been Busy With… #Adulting

So aside from being busy with jtooned.co and other regular life things, the past 10.5 months, our lives have really just revolved around our new place. If you scroll back enough, you might remember that we sold our first house back in August on 2020. Since then, we’ve gone to multiple design appointments to put the house together – which is really the most exciting part of it all other than physically moving into it afterwards.

Our original possession date was supposed to be April 30th but due to COVID, many of the restrictions pushed our date to July 7th. Many of the trades had to take turns going into the house rather than just all going in at once to get things done. A bit frustrating to say the least, but it is what it is. Fast forward, and we’ve been busy just trying to get the house put together. You’d think that there isn’t much to do when moving into a new place but you would be very mistaken. Things like getting new furniture, decorations, creating appointments for things like getting internet installed, air conditioning, security, etc. Other things like having to put up TV’s and building old furniture… It’s just a lot of little things piled up that take up a lot of time.

Outside of those things, I’ve really been itching to get the garage done. I really can’t stand an unfinished garage and hate the look of drywall and mudding all over the place. Over the last week, I’ve been working here and there trying to get the mudding and sanding all done prior to this weekend for paint. Mudding and sanding is probably the worst part of getting a garage ready to go – it’s messy, tiring, and there’s very little gratification that comes from it, so it can be hard to stay motivated LOL.

Here’s a shot of me about 90% done the mudding and sanding. I had a few more spots on the ceiling but that was it. Part of me was hating myself for not just paying the builder to finish it off completely but the cost was roughly $7000 to do a full two-coat mud/sand and finish with paint. Even now when I think about it, that’s way too much money (for me) and I’d rather spend the time to do it myself and spend a little under $1000 in materials and supplies, despite how much I end up swearing and hating myself for it.

One of the things I did with the garage was slope the ceilings upward to get to 13ft ceilings. I really wanted to get high ceilings to give me more room to play with. Unfortunately, reaching those 13ft ceilings was not so fun. Diana’s brother, Victor, has been a huge help in getting the garage done. Luckily he has access to a scaffold which is really the only way to reach the ceiling because my dinky ladders were not tall enough.

Victor is also pretty handy on the electrical side of things – something I don’t really dip my feet in – I’m just not comfortable with electrical stuff so thankfully he knows the ins and outs. Some of the other changes we’ve had to do is relocate two of the lights to fit the new overhead LED panels properly.

Here, he cut out the original light box and relocated it about 6″ so that we can fit the full lighting fixture after paint is done. The overhead lights are 1’x4′ and if we hadn’t moved it, the garage door frame would’ve blocked it.

Tomorrow, my Dad is coming and we’re gonna tackle the paint (finally) and hope to get it done this weekend. I’m excited to see it finally come together on that front.

After paint, the next thing that will be done is the Polyaspartic floor coating. Unfortunately, they’re extremely booked up so my appointment isn’t until September 17th – right in time for winter. That should be the finishing touch on the garage until I start getting to work on furnishing it afterwards. Stay tuned for update pics after the paint!

One other thing that I’ve been super excited about was getting solar panels installed on the house. I’m not going to rave about it here but I will say that it’s probably my favourite mod on the whole house – yes, even more than the garage. We were able to max out the roof with 31 panels. Above, you can see the size of the panel for comparison if you’ve never actually seen how big they are.

A few shots of them installed on the roof…

Last one!

Next update from me will hopefully be a paint-finished garage!

Final Farewell, House!

Our final farewell to the house happened last week and it was kind of sad and kind of exciting. Diana had been pretty bummed about it for the last few weeks while I was kind of “meh” about it all up until the final moments of handing the keys to Albert and locking up for the last time. I was so busy with getting the house all ready and cleaned that I guess I had no time to really feel sad about it.

On that last day prior to the new buyers moving in, I went and cleaned up one last time and made sure everything was finally done. Albert came and did one final check and as we were standing there in the living room with no other tasks to finish off, it was then that I finally had time to stop and just take it all in. All the furniture was gone, the house looked the same as the day we moved into it and I couldn’t help but have these flashbacks to moments of the last 6 years of our lives there. The couches in the living room, the kids running around, the smell of breakfast being made, the tantrums and the slips and falls, the movie nights and the late nights, the early mornings and the lazy Sundays… All of it and more in just a few seconds.

It’s kind of lame but I’m sure most people probably have that same feeling when moving out of their place. It’s a very mild, yet overwhelming feeling to have to say goodbye to a thing or a place that can’t say goodbye back. It’s on to bigger and better things though and although I said I wouldn’t miss this place, I think I will…

I know there are a lot of questions from people about the new place and pictures, so I thought I’d just clear it up here… Our new place isn’t built yet and probably won’t be done until May 2021. Until then, we’re squatting in my parents basement (thankfully) and I’ll update as the build starts to take shape. While we’re still somewhat sad about our old place, we’re soooo stoked on the new place because we’re finally getting (mostly) what we want and we’re re-writing the mistakes/misses we had with the first house. We can’t wait to share it 🙂

Just a few snaps of the girls in the empty house before leaving… They wanted to say goodbye one last time – although I don’t think they really understood that we’re never going to see the place again lol

Aria’s room all empty

Rin’s room all empty…

And finally, the last time the car parks out on this driveway. Farewell!

Sold! Onto the Next One…

No – not my car LOL – our house! Adulting at its finest…

As with all things on lifewithjson, I’m totally stoked to say that we’ve officially sold our house and now it’s story time. That’s mainly why I’ve been MIA these last few weeks – lots of prepping and getting things cleaned and moved and set up for showings – it’s been a lot more work than I would’ve imagined. A lot of my gear is packed away – including my personal computer, so I haven’t been able to do any editing or take any photos… Hopefully I’ll be back up and running again soon.

This is a huge change for us because this was our first home that we built from scratch and where a lot of our other life-firsts have happened… I proposed to Diana in front of the lot here before they even started digging. Both Aria and Rin grew up in this house and we’ve really just learned a lot of adulting skills here – from landscaping and building a Pergola in the back with friends, house maintenance and everything in between. I don’t particularly get too attached to things so I’m not too sad about it but I know Diana has started getting the feels now that we’re starting to pack up and make our way out of here. Our plan when we built the house was to stay here for 5 years and move on. It’s been 6 years and while we’re a year overdue from our original plans, I’m glad we’ve finally bit the bullet. While we weren’t in any particular rush, I’m hoping we move onto better things. We’ve had our fair share of some really awkward and unfortunate situations with some amigos in the last little while and while most have been really great, sometimes one is all you need to finally say “f*** it, we’re outta here”, so maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. My dream is to have neighbours that are seniors that just wake up early and have a nice quiet coffee, go to bed early, and say hi when we happen to encounter each other and have no idea what coal rolling is because they drive a Corolla. In case you missed the message: please be a courteous neighbour.

I wanted to give a shout out to our Realtor and friend – Albert Mah. I really think he just deserves a little praise in all of this because it obviously wouldn’t have happened and I don’t think we would’ve got things done this quick without him. Albert has been a longtime “social media” friend in the sense that, we knew each other over Instagram and Facebook but we never really met until this whole situation. We exchanged words and likes but that was about the extent of our interaction together – like most of us in today’s world – so for all intents and purposes, I don’t (or didn’t) know Albert as a Realtor or him as a person – but I’m all for supporting friends if it means asking them to help us out with personal affairs if they pass my litmus test LOL!

If you know me personally or have been following me here for a while, you’ll know that I’m a pretty anal, OCD, impatient and particular person. It’s basically a bad combination of characteristics because it just means that I want everything to be done perfectly and immediately LOL – so sometimes dealing with situations that involve me having to rely on other people to juggle multiple tasks leaves me super anxious. That’s just me… So you can imagine that stepping into this frontier of selling our house (which we’ve never been through before) was super foggy to me (us) and I had a million questions.

That’s where Albert comes in. Two things… 1) Albert proved to me very quickly and early on in the process that he also had a million answers. Checked off my first box. And 2) Albert was also surprisingly an anal, OCD, impatient and particular person. Checked off my second box – and at this point, none of my other boxes needed to be checked because I knew that if he was anything like me, then this was going to go well – and as per the title of my post – you know it did.

Diana and I had been at this crossroad (of selling our house) a few times now over the last few years but we just never went through with it. We were always 49% ready and that 1% that we needed was never there and no one inspired the confidence in us to get it. Even after simply messaging Albert, we were still at 49%. He came pretty quickly after we chatted to check out the house, ask about upgrades, took a careful look around and then we sat down and he presented his findings and homework. I trust that all Realtors do this, but if they don’t – they should. Careful findings about other homes around us, days on market, average price, a calculation of where ours stands… Blah blah blah. At the end of it all, we agreed on a selling price and signed some papers and he was off. We were still at 49%. It wasn’t real yet.

In a few short days, he brought us up to speed on the process – get the house ready, take pictures of the home, do some showings, get an offer, sell the house (in a nutshell). Easy enough right? Not really. Not for Jason. Two kids also comes with a fair amount of abuse in the home – little dents, fingerprints on the paint, things that need to be patched up… So over the course of a weekend, I spent most of my time patching walls, sanding, repainting them, fixing things and making the house look like it was brand new again. I started going down a rabbit hole of things to do because I’d find something to fix, but then I’d find something else near it. You know how you probably have a little corner somewhere in your house you forgot about? Think about it – there’s probably dust/dirt there – I went into every one of those corners and cleaned them and while it doesn’t sound like a whole lot – corners add up. By the end of it all – the house literally looked brand new. Like we had no kids at all and we moved in yesterday. We’ve now gone from 49% to 100%… Things are getting real.

Picture day. We got the house back into show home condition – I left for a few hours while the photographer and Albert took pics. Probably nothing crazy worth noting but it’s the little things that gain brownie points in my books. When the photographer was done, Albert messaged me to head on back – he was just cleaning up and putting things back. When I arrived, he was rearranging our laundry room back to the way it was based on a picture he took before he moved everything. I mean, I wouldn’t have remembered the bleach went in front of the glass cleaner, but he made sure he was covering all the bases… Refer back to “OCD”. Everything was put back in the exact same spot as it had never left – again, not a big deal – but every little thing counts. Details matter.

Listing day. The listing goes up, he sends us a link and a 3D tour of it all – looks great. I had no doubts that it wouldn’t. All that was left was to wait – like fishing – you cast your line and you just hope something bites sooner rather than later. Long story short – we had showings pretty much everyday – in total we got through 4 before we had an offer from 2 of them the same day. Albert was pretty conscious about the timing of showings because he knew the girls had a specific bed time – but we made it work. The night of the last showing, Albert called me at 10:30PM and said two offers are in and are due in 30 minutes. After a million questions from me, we agreed on a bunch of things and everything was put in place and we were done before midnight. Wait what? This guy is still working? My bed time was like an hour ago but you do what needs to be done…

In 6 days, the house had an offer and we firmed up in 15 days. Bank appraisal, home inspection, conditions, waiving – all of this – so foreign but made so plainly clear by Albert. Considering houses around us have been up for 40 to 260 days, I would say 6 days is quite the achievement. That really brings us to the end of it all… It was maybe 3 weeks in total but it felt like an eternity going through the motions of cleaning the house every showing and making vacuum lines in the carpet every damn time and storing everything in boxes and tucking them away and taking them out again at night. It’s a tiring and repetitive process.

Through all of it, Albert was there for us for literally every second of it. Whenever I messaged him, I received a reply within 30 seconds or less – no matter the time of day. When I asked if he had an update on anything only because I was being impatient – he would call and get an update. If he said he’d let me know in an hour, he would message me in 59 minutes. If I asked the same question a hundred times, he answered it a hundred times with no hesitation. I’ll tell you this much – at first, the thought of using a Realtor to sell your house might seem expensive because their commission is not a secret – you know how much they’re going to be getting from the sale of the house and it’s a tough pill to swallow because you know that money could be used for so many other things. Albert literally shouldered every single thing of this transaction and went through so many hoops and hurdles that I couldn’t even mention here without making it more of a novel than it already is that I don’t even care how much money he takes. In fact, I wish we could afford to give more because it’s a stressful f***ing thing to take on. I work my 7.5 hours a day and I turn off. He’s on 24/7. It’s their job, I know – but certain people are better at a job than others and I think Albert is truly a needle in a haystack. So, in the same sense that we got every corner of this house cleaned and ready to sell, he covered every corner of his job to follow it through.

It may just be a pairing of two very anal, OCD, impatient and particular people – and I think that made it as smooth as it could’ve been – but even if you aren’t like me, as long as you have Albert in your corner, you’ll at least have one person ensuring all the bases are covered and supporting you. He’s not there to take your money (although he is), he really feels like he’s on your team and I think that’s important in such a big transaction. He didn’t pay me to say all this – we technically paid him – but because we can’t afford to give him more than he’s taking, this is all that I have left to give. If you need a Realtor in the future – I’m not begging you, I’m telling you – get Albert on your team. You won’t regret it… Or else I’ll shut this blog down forever (and I know it won’t happen :))

Thanks for reading the wall of words! Onto the next one!

DIY: IKEA Billy Built-In Bookcase

Happy New Year everyone!!! I’m going to be writing about something a little different than the usual cars this time…


To start the New Year off, I decided to tackle a long-awaited project for Diana. A little back story on this project – years ago (I don’t even remember how long), Diana and I agreed that when we got our own house, we would have a room dedicated to her and a library that she has always wanted. She’s an avid reader and now a teacher so she has more reason to have a place for all her books and stuff. Fast forward a few years and when we were finally ready to buy our own house, one of the “must-haves” on our list was to have that room for Diana. Well we found the perfect room in the house and I had already envisioned what it was going to look like.

Last week I decided that I was going to get it done and was determined to finish it this week because I had 4 days off with New Years. On Wednesday after work, Diana and I made the trip to Ikea and got our first haul. I’ll go over all the pieces and prices at the end… I know most usual readers of my blog are either going to not care about this post altogether or give a stranger some inspiration to do it themselves. So if you don’t care, wait until my next post; if you do care, then read on and I’ll be as descriptive as I can – be prepared as there are a lot of pictures.

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The day before, I got all the measurements of the room, the shelves, and exactly how much spacing was going to be in-between each shelf, the wall, the ceiling. Everything. You can see my rough sketch and calculations of what pieces and how much of it I needed.

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Here’s a shot of the room. It’s been like this since the day we’ve moved in… It’s mainly been a room for our clutter. My car parts, other peoples’ car parts, Diana’s school stuff… blah blah blah.

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Here’s a head on shot of the room. Two sliding doors, nice and square – it was exactly what we envisioned for the future library.

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Here was our haul from Ikea. Thankfully Diana’s dad is also a handy man and had a bunch of tools and supplies that we used to help us get the job done.

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It was 7PM on New Year’s Eve and since we’re old geezers that don’t party, we got cracking on this project instead to countdown to midnight. Turned on Songza, blasted it throughout the house and got to work. I unpacked each of the bookcases one by one and started assembling. In retrospect, we should have moved all that stuff on the right out of the room but we actually did all the work with it all there. LOL

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This was the color that Diana had chosen for the backboards of the shelves. Sassy Violet for her sassy attitude. Fitting.

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Diana set up her workstation outside and got ready to work.

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It was a nice shade, indeed.

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Using a mini roller, she started painting all the backs.

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One piece done and ready to dry. Don’t mind our dishes…

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Meanwhile, I finished one shelf.

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Diana picked up the camera and got some candid shots as well. It’s not everyday you see me on the other side of the camera lol

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I’m just positioning them to see what arrangement looked best. (To Diana’s discretion of course).

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You can see by this point – a few hours into the night, the whole kitchen was being occupied by painted boards.

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We also had to resort to McDonald’s for a late night snack because it was quick and easy – something we wish this project was – but it helped fuel the fire to keep going!

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Diana still working away at it!

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Since I finished all the shelves, I decided to get started to finally move forward. I removed the baseboard on the back to have the bookshelves sit as close as possible to the wall and to re-use it on the front of the book cases to really create the “built in” look. To remove them, just take a knife and slice the caulking on the top, gently hammer a small crowbar in and gently pry away. They are only held in by a few nails so it’s not terribly difficult and they’re pretty flexible. Just don’t let it bend too far or it’ll crack.

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We started fitting the backings onto the shelves as they were drying…

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And this was the final combination that Diana had decided on. My plan was originally to get four of the standard Billy bookshelves but we were a few inches too short so we got the half Billy instead and that fit perfectly on the left there.

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Once we decided on the shelf placement, I took some spackling and filled all of the holes in the cases that we weren’t going to use.

This is optional but I wanted to do it to keep it looking clean and again – “built in”. This makes the shelves seamless and your eyes aren’t looking at a bunch of black holes all over the place. It’s tedious but it’s worth it.

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The spackling is similar to drywall mudding – when you apply it, it’s kind of a creamy color but once it’s dried, it dries to a brilliant white.

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We ended up missing midnight by about 6 minutes (LOL) but once 12AM hit, we had our New Year’s kiss, high-fived, and decided to call it a night. 5 hours non-stop so far!

The next day, Diana had to meet up with her highschool buddy and I was up early to go make a trip to Home Depot for the last big haul. Most of it was for trim and moulding to clean everything up.

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To start, I used the “L” brackets that was supplied with the bookcases and secured every case to the wall using the stud finder and a drill.

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The next thing I had to do was build a frame for the top of the shelf. The reason is because the bookcase itself is about 6.6 ft, and adding the extension adds only another 1.2 ft. Our ceiling is 9ft so that means there was another 1.2 ft extra space left from the top of the shelf to the ceiling. To keep with the built in look, I wanted to extend the top of the shelves all the way to the ceiling. There wasn’t enough space for another shelf, so I decided to just make it a nice extension up top instead.

I built the frame in kind of a weird way. I took two 2×4’s 10ft in length – one laid down and one on its side. The one on its side was the one I wanted to be on the front of the bookcase. I put them together with two other blocks wedges on each side. You can see it clearly in the picture above.

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Here’s a shot of what it looked like from below. I was lucky because the length of the room was exactly 10ft so I didn’t have to do anything extra…

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Next, I cut two extra blocks and screwed those in vertically and spaced apart. The reason for those two blocks and the one 2×4 faced on its side is so that it could act as support for the board I was about to put up. It essentially mimics the studs behind the drywall for support and a backing.

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This picture should explain why I did that – I used a nail gun to nail the board along the bottom as well as on those two vertical boards to keep it steady. I was lucky again and found a board that was the exact height but unfortunately could not find one that was 10ft long. So I had to add a piece on the end there. You can see the disconnect.

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In this picture you can see the rest of the trim has been added. I calculated enough to have 3.5″ spacing in between each of the shelves as well as the wall. I also installed the existing baseboard on the bottom and added a 3.5″ trim up top between the cases and the top board. It already looks 10x better!

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Here’s a better shot of the 3.5″ trim installed in-between the shelves. NAILED IT. Both literally and figuratively.

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Another shot of it all together. The spackling was pretty much dry at this point and was ready to sand.

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One of the most annoying things was the spacing in-between the trim and the casing. I don’t think there was any other way around it though. So what I did was I found 1/4″ shims to wedge in at the bottom.

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That same issue existed on the top too but I found 3/4″ shims to wedge in there as well. The top part was probably the most difficult to do because it needed to line up with the bottom of the trim. The amount of cuss words were increasing at this point.

Also – I nailed the top crown piece to the board as well as you can see in the pic. That was easy 🙂

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The next step was to take white caulking and apply in all areas where there was a “connection”. This filled the gaps, made it look all pretty and basically brings everything all together. I also taped up all the edges as well to begin painting all the shelves. You can also see that I applied spackling to the top board to bring the two pieces together.

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Here’s a shot of everything all caulked together, the spackling sanded, and the first coat of paint on.

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At this point, I was pretty much done. It needed a few more touch ups but Diana was itching to start putting stuff on the shelves.

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Diana brought all her books home from her parents and went to town.

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I took a few shots cause it looked cool

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And VOILA! Approximately 23 hours later, our first DIY home project was completed. I am super stoked and happy with how it turned out. Diana has a lot of books but all these shelves makes it look insignificant lol… But there’s still plenty of things we need to get to put on the shelves to really make it look nice. But for now, she put up what she had.

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Just a few detail shots now to showcase it all.

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Some souvenirs from all over Mexico.

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A sign we bought for the library before we even moved into the house!

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A shot of the crown and trim.

And that’s pretty much it! Let me give you guys a break down of everything I got and used to do this…


– Three IKEA Billy Bookcases (Full Size)

– One IKEA Billy Bookcase Extension Unit (Full Size)

– One IKEA Billy Bookcase (Half Size)

– One IKEA Billy Bookcase Extension Unit (Half Size)

– Two 2″x4″x10′

– One 2″x4″x8′

– Two 13.5″x8′ white shelves (for the top board)

– 50′ of 3.5″ trim

– 10′ of crown moulding

– 10′ of 1/4″ shims

– 10′ of 3/4″ shims

– Spackling

– Two tubes of brilliant white caulking

– 1 quart of Valspar Sassy Violet interior paint

– 1 quart of Valspar Glossy White interior paint


– Hammer

– Drill

– Mini Crowbar

– Dremel

– Saw

– Nail gun

– Screwdriver

– Utility Knife

– Paint brush and roller

Total Cost: $530 ($400 for IKEA shelves. $130 for moulding/trim/shims)

Total Time: 23 hours

Difficulty: 2/5. Measure twice, cut once!


Hope that this helps someone! Feel free to leave comments or questions or even email me and I’ll answer you ASAP! Happy DIY-ing!