If you live in Hidden Springs, or you’ve ever driven around the neighborhood, you know there are a variety of housing styles here, but most of our homes look very similar.  My Hidden Springs home is no different.

The office

For example, I’ve seen a lot of this type of trim above the door in downstairs offices:

Hidden Springs home
While the doorway is very decorative, it does not make the office very soundproof.

My husband works as a programmer from home (SO many Hidden Springs residents work from home!), and is often on conference calls with the rest of his team.  As parents of a toddler who isn’t exactly quiet (HA), we saw this room and thought 1) double doors let in noise; 2) these double doors in particular are glass and let in LOTS of noise; 3) the transom window is completely open and let in LOTS and LOTS of noise.  We got by for the first few weeks, but the lack of soundproofing became very apparent when my in-laws came to visit; my husband and I were making fun of them in the office (with the doors closed) when we heard their footsteps going up the stairs.  I’m not sure they heard our conversation, but since we heard their FOOTSTEPS on the CARPET they likely heard our snickering!

I was not willing to get rid of the beautiful doors, so I found a couple very straight 1x12s, sanded the heck out of them, bought (and then returned) a router from Home Depot, and covered up that transom.  I get really excited with my projects and thus am not patient enough to take “process” or “step-by-step” pictures, but here is the end result:

Hidden Springs, ID
We feathered in hardwood floors, too.

The Kitchen

The next project we tackled in our Hidden Springs house was the functionality of the kitchen.  The builders of Hidden Springs were prolific with those stainless steel 50/50-split sinks.  I’m not knocking stainless steel, but unfortunately a 70/30-split or farm sink wasn’t available as an upgrade from the spec builders of Hidden Springs.  I hate these split sinks because they make my lack of cooking skill even more obvious.  Since I married nearly eight years ago, I have become a much better cook, but I still have stuck-on and burned food.  We received wonderful All-Clad Copper Core and Staub cookware as wedding gifts, so I know the problem is not my cookware!  And it’s even worse when I have a sink that I cannot soak my pans in.  Who wants their dirty cookware soaking on their countertop?  Our sink needed to go.

50/50 split sink
I’m not always that great at “before” pictures (“Rip the thing out already!”). This was the picture I put on Craigslist!

We started with calling three different granite companies to see if it would be possible to pop out the sink without damaging or having to replace the countertops.  Rocky at Artistic Tile & Granite was great; he pointed us in the right direction for a sink replacement (we got his one from Ferguson), got the old sink out with no problem, and modified the corners so the new sink looked like a perfect fit.  A white, farm sink really brightened up the kitchen, and I love the composite material.  I really think every builder these days should offer composite sinks as an upgrade.

white farm sink
Artistic Tile also drilled a hole for a soap dispenser, a must have for people like me who don’t like cluttered countertops.

I also had a slight “decorator” problem with our kitchen.  Too often, white and cream clash, and this was the case with our kitchen cabinets, backsplash tile, backsplash grout, and backsplash outlets.  We had four different whites.  From far away enough, the kitchen looked bright and beautiful, but up-close, it bothered me enough to want to create more work for myself.

Hidden Springs, ID
Too many whites going on for my taste… I am a woman of contrast. : )

Again, I’m really bad at “before” pictures, but here is a picture of my juicing station after we slapped on some Grout Renew and changed the outlets to bronze.

Hidden Springs, ID
By darkening up the grout, the subway tile really pops, and I think the new outlets give the kitchen an up-scale look; those plastic beige switchplates make even a pretty backsplash look ugly.

The other problem I had with our kitchen was there was no trash pull-out cabinet.  The last time we had a kitchen without one was ten years ago in our rinky-dink condo, valued about a quarter of what our current house is.  Our first renovation, we made one fit in the cabinets we had.  In our 2nd renovation, we got brand new cabinets and made sure a trash pull-out was included.  I think a lot of builders now make a trash cabinet standard, but that wasn’t the case with most Hidden Springs, ID homes.  If you have a stand alone trash can, there is a better way!  And in most cases, these can be retrofitted into your existing base cabinets.  I really think it impresses buyers, and it makes life soooo much easier if you have little ones who put their hands and mouths everywhere.

For us, it wasn’t hard to determine where to put ours.  We had a couple base drawers we could do without, and promptly removed them to get our measurements right.  Fortunately this “base space” was right next to the sink.

Hidden Springs, ID
For a couple weeks, our then 2-year old had a nice play nook.

We ordered this unit from Rev-A-Shelf along with an alder cabinet door from Barker and got to work painting & attaching.  A trash & recycling pull-out (get the double) makes life so much easier and your kitchen will look so much better with that trash put away!

Hidden Springs, ID
I couldn’t live without it!

The Stairs & Master Closet: Simple Painting Projects

With the kitchen issues resolved, I turned my focus to smaller projects.  I thought the non-painted rails on our stairs (this is typical in Hidden Springs, ID homes) dated the entry.  You can see how they looked in the background of the office picture (here it is again):

Hidden Springs, ID
Not horrible, but a bit dated.

This took a LOT more time that I had planned mostly because I thought the oil-based primer would be more self-leveling than it was.  I didn’t want the brush strokes to be noticeable, so I ended up sanding them out, which took three passes with three different grits of sanding sponge.  Then tacking before I could even paint.

Hidden Springs, ID
We’ll do something about that carpet another time, but the new look really brightened up the space.

Here’s another design faux-pas I’ve seen in a lot of Hidden Springs, ID master closets.  How is this functional?

Hidden Springs, ID
What are those cubbies for, shoes? I’ve seen pictures on the MLS of sellers stuffing their t-shirts in there, and honestly, I can’t blame them.

I have a thing against fake wood.  Not only is this closet system fake wood, but nowhere else in the entire house is there this color (or fake wood).  The cubbies definitely had to go, but I could live with the fake wood if it were painted to match the rest of the trim…

Hidden Springs Idaho
It looks so much brighter and is much more functional with the dresser in the closet.

Lastly we decided to pull the plug on replacing the downstairs carpet with hardwoods and refinishing the entire downstairs.  Because I was pregnant at the time, my husband wouldn’t let me install the floors this time, so we had to save up for this one.  Also because of the pregnancy, the dog smell from the previous owners’ labs coming from said carpet was really irritating for me.  After getting three bids, we decided to use A-Max out of Boise, ID, and OMG, they really are 99% dust-free!

Where to Put a TV?

But before we could do the floors, we had to do something about the living room built-ins.  I have seen this all over living rooms in Hidden Springs, ID: dated TV cabinets set at an angle.  A friend up on Town Ridge was complaining the other day that there are no homes in Hidden Springs that comfortably and aesthetically allow one to watch TV in their living room.  Fortunately for us, we have somewhat of a theatre room upstairs, so it made so much sense to turn that living room TV cabinet into something else.

Hidden Springs, ID
BEFORE: Yeah, it’s technically a “rec room” and can even pass for a bedroom, but why not go theatre with all those built-in speakers?
Hidden Springs ID
AFTER: It’s not as pretty as a theatre, but it works well for its purpose. We were able to get away with a bigger screen than the cabinet allowed by making a frame out of 2x4s and covering up the apparatus with curtains.  With a telescoping mount, we can still access the cabinets.

The living room: here’s what those cabinets and the carpet looked like:

Hidden Springs ID
Get that TV out of that cabinet!

The goal we had for these built-ins was to have the right side flush with the back wall, mimicking the left side. When we measured the TV cabinet, we found that it was too deep to remove and reattach to the back wall, and too narrow to fill the gap that would be left behind.  I tried to convince my husband we could reuse the TV cabinet and make it work, but he thought it would look like a DIY job gone bad.  Greylock Custom Cabinets did most of the cabinetry in Hidden Springs, ID homes built in the mid-2000s, and I knew they could easily match our cabinets because this shaker style is so prolific in Hidden Springs.  All we needed was a set of base cabinets with some bookshelves.  We got a quote from Greylock for nearly $2,000!  These cabinets have real alder doors, but other than that, they aren’t anything special.  Since we had to pay for the floors, my husband finally agreed that we could reuse the cabinet and we came up with a plan that involved a rip fence for our Skilsaw.  I have to say, that is my new favorite accessory!  It avoided us from having to rent or borrow a table saw, and honestly, table saws scare me anyway.

Hidden Springs, ID
You can see where we ripped the cabinet with the back end on the ground. Then we removed the back piece of MDF and reattached it to the new, shallower piece and affixed it back on to the wall.

Once the built-ins are flush, they looked “stunted.”  We laid hardwood floors in the new footprint and hired a contractor to build the cabinets to the ceiling.  Finally: an “in progress” picture:

Hidden Springs, ID

At this point you may have recognized my “decorator problem” in the picture above.  Yes, that beautiful tile is white and the cabinets are cream.  So we painted everything with just a little color to make the tile pop!

fireplace built-ins
It dark accent wall makes the room feel cozy and den-like.

The Outside

With the inside mostly finished and summer on the way, we turned our attention to the outside.  Most homes in Hidden Springs, ID have simple concrete slabs for patios.  They’re okay… but I don’t think ours had ever been cleaned, and besides a couple cracks and broken corners, there were strips of dog hair in the seams from the previous owner’s dogs.  I pressure-washed, patched, stained, and sealed it, and now we can comfortably go barefoot on it.

Hidden Springs, ID
My husband took a break to get a shot of me slaving away.  At least the tot was a good sport!

We also put up some solar shades to keep us from getting laser-beamed during breakfast on those hot, summer days, as the east side of our house has lots of windows, and the concrete patio reflected all that sun into our dining and living room.


Hidden Springs, ID
Before and after patio – we got that beautiful tree trimmed up, too.

We also completed a small retaining wall and created a flagstone path where the grass wasn’t growing anyway:

Hidden Springs, ID
This is our “trash walk,” taking the garbage from kitchen to can. : )

For now, we’re at a stopping point until fall when I can finish staining the fence and re-start my transplanting efforts.  In the meantime, if you live in Hidden Springs, Idaho and have similar outdated or dysfunctional features, I’d love to hear if you’re doing something with them – send pics! : )

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