Site Reorganization

By Jeff | Oct. 27, 2015

You might notice things are a bit different. This is due to us migrating away from wordpress, which we felt was a bit bulky for our needs over to a new system called grav. Really what this means for you is that you should see smaller page sizes and faster load times.

We've also simplified the site a lot by separating the "Soft Puppy" and "Warm House" aspects into two different subsites as well as adding a new "Life" tab. That way if all you're interested in is puppy articles, house articles, or things about our life, you can hide what isn't relevant to you. Of course, you can always choose to view all posts if you want and searching and tags at the right will search through all posts by default.

Happy New Year, 2015!

By Jeff | Jan. 05, 2015

I hope everybody had a good 2014. Ours was filled with new adventures, projects, and of course, puppies. Here are the highlights from what we did this past year.

New Windows!

By Jeff | Oct. 11, 2014

We’ve had two windows in our house that weren’t under warranty and so we began looking into getting a new kitchen window and a new guest bathroom window. I’m not sure how well it came out in the photos, but the seal on these windows was broken which meant they were constantly fogging up and leaking air.

Replacing Rotting Boards

By Jeff | Aug. 16, 2014

When the patio guys took out our old deck, they found among other things a board directly beneath the sliding door that had started rotting away. We were fine contracting out the gas line but figured we could take care of this project ourselves.

New Flooring!

By Jeff | Jul. 27, 2014

About time! Our “2–3 day” flooring install job is finally finished only 4 weeks later! It was a long and very frustrating process, but it’s a huge improvement. New hardwood flooring is now installed where there was once brick tile, old vinyl, old parquet, and some not-so-bad carpet. It ties the whole first floor together. If you all the details on why we won’t be using Lumber Liquidators nor Apple Renovation Services again. If not, here’s the before and after photos.

New Media Center!

By Jeff | Jun. 10, 2014

When we bought our first media center, we were focused on finding something that fit in the corner. It looked great, hid the mess of wires connecting our home theater equipment, and was out of the way. Unfortunately, we didn’t actually take any pictures of it when it was nice and neat. This is the first picture we have and you can already begin to see the problem.

Kitchen Cabinet Reface: Day 3

Kitchen Cabinet Reface

By Jeff | May. 27, 2014

Things are slowing down now with are kitchen cabinet reface. We got part of a first coat of paint on the cabinet faces and sprayed the first coat on the back of the doors and drawers. We go back to work tomorrow, and there’s isn’t much to write about since it’s just waiting for paint to dry. We’ll post again once things pick up again.

Kitchen Cabinet Reface: Day 1

Kitchen Cabinet Reface

By Jeff | May. 25, 2014

It's been a while since we posted anything on the "warm house" side of our blog, but we've got several big projects in the works. We started one of them, refacing our kitchen cabinets, yesterday. Well, technically we started Friday, but that was just emptying out everything into the other room. We started with research that us to some of our favorite places (Young House Love, This Old House, and Family Handyman) and decided on the following options:

New Theme!

By Jeff | May. 18, 2014

You may have noticed things look a little different here at Soft Puppy Warm House. We’ve decided to update our theme to help improve responsive design and improve content visibility. The major changes are listed after the break.

New Layout!

By Jeff | Jul. 16, 2013

I’ve been working hard over the last several weeks on some big changes here Soft Puppy Warm House. We’ve got an entirely new responsive layout that should not only give you a better experience on the desktop, but especially on mobile devices! All of the images on the page have also been updated to support retina graphics. I’ve still got a little work to do upgrading the graphics on the site to the higher quality versions, but they should be finished in the next few days. If you see anything odd, let me know in the comments or over on the github page.

We Have a Workshop!

By Jeff | Jun. 09, 2013

One of the reasons why there hasn’t been much going on in terms of home-related projects was because we didn’t really have any good space to work. Above you can see what was the “workshop” area of our basement.


By Jeff | Apr. 12, 2013

Since we’re just getting started in this whole DIY and home improvement thing, there are times when we go to the hardware store with a simple task, but when we get there are completely overwhelmed by the options available to us. The paint department is probably what comes to mind first. But today, we’re talking about the screw aisle. Between all the marketing, metric and imperial measurements, finding the right fastener can be complicated.

A Note Regarding LED Lighting and Dimmers

By Jeff | Mar. 29, 2013

So you just installed your fancy new LED lighting (or perhaps just CFL) and you made sure to get a dimmer like this one and you go to to dim the lights and it doesn't work! I meant to mention this part last time, but I forgot. If you notice, our new kitchen lighting (which I'm glad was SO much easier than the family room as those lights actually had proper tension clips) looks quite bright even at the lowest setting.

Adding the Crown

Fireplace Reface

By Jeff | Feb. 25, 2013

While our last post on crown showed how to work with 90 degree angles, we knew that it was highly doubtful that our room was actually square. We were surprised that almost nobody online mentioned this especially because a quick check revealed that the walls were indeed very much not square. Fortunately, This Old House had instructions on how to cut inside corners in a real house.

Fireplace Crown

Fireplace Reface

By Jeff | Feb. 20, 2013

With all the shelves finally installed, it was time add the final touches to our fireplace. That left the front piece to cover up the rest of the brick, the crown molding, and the front trim decorations. For the front piece, we used some more of the MDF and secured it in place with some masonry scr…


By Jeff | Feb. 18, 2013

The other day while we were at Home Depot, we decided to look at some ceiling fans. It was a good break from just getting more things for the fireplace and as you can see below, the our current kitchen fan is rather dated.

Dust Everywhere!

Fireplace Reface

By Jeff | Jan. 24, 2013

Good idea: restarting the mantel to make sure that it’s square and plumb. Bad idea: cutting MDF inside the house without a proper exhaust system. But considering the weather is 5 F as I’m writing this, there was no way I was going to be working outside. The extra time cleaning up the dining room / workshop is worth not freezing.

Mantel Reboot

By Jeff | Jan. 20, 2013

I know our last post didn’t have any pictures. That was because I had already dismantled the mantel before I realized I didn’t have any pictures of what they looked like. Sorry about that. The problem was that the boards simply weren’t square nor were they very plumb (vertically level) or flat. I’m sure we’ll find a use for the wood in some other project.

I Thought We Were Done With the Hard Part

Fireplace Reface

By Jeff | Jan. 18, 2013

Apparently not. The issue we're having is that while the mantel is square, the wall and especially the fireplace are not. So we have gaps. Some of them are small and some are larger than we'd like to admit. We had planned to fill these with some caulk like This Old House recommends but apparently it isn't very heat resistant so I'm not quite sure what kind to get. Any input would be appreciated.

We Have Tile!

Fireplace Reface

By Jeff | Jan. 12, 2013

We cannot be more excited to be done with this fireplace renovation. Unfortunately, it’s still got a ways to go, but at least the (hopefully) hard part is done! When we last shared our updates, we had just finished laying the hearth tile. After a short break, we got back to tackling the vertical por…

The End Table is Finished!

End Table

By Jeff | Dec. 18, 2012

I bet you thought it would never get done, right? As will all projects, it took way longer than expected, but that was partly due to the lengthy drying time. If you recall from last time, I had major issues getting the table square due to not having the right tools available to me. The following Mon…

Miter Saw Table Part 2

Miter Saw Table

By Jeff | Dec. 07, 2012

Last time, we had most everything cut and the bottom and left side nailed together. If you remember, I was off on the height by 3/16" and had created small pieces to raise up the table top. I used 3 nails to join them together. Since they were also nailed together further with the table top. Here's a close up of the improved support pieces.

Miter Saw Table Stand Part 1

Miter Saw Table

By Jeff | Dec. 05, 2012

I’m holding off on showing you the table, but I was able to get the proper tools and it’s coming along very nicely. What I wanted to talk about today though, was a miter saw table I’ve been building based off of these plans. Stands for miter saws can cost between $90 and $200 on Amazon and while they offer great portability, I wanted to build one mainly to save money and of course because I thought it would be a fun project. For about $40 worth of materials, this easy stand also has four compartments to store smaller work tools.

Garage Workshop

By Jeff | Dec. 03, 2012

Christmas is coming up and we have so much to do! We felt like we got so much started and almost nothing done over the weekend. Saturday was a perfect day to work outside, so we started work on our Christmas lights only to find out we didn’t have quite enough of them. And when we went back to Lowe’s, they were all sold out. By the time we found some elsewhere and made it home, it was too dark to do anything with them. I guess that will have to wait for another day.

Theme Upgrade

By Jeff | Dec. 01, 2012

You might have noticed a slight difference in our page lately. This is our new version 2.0 blog theme. There aren’t too many big differences; most of the changes are to increase compatibility with older browsers and to get a more consistent look across all platforms. You can check out the full changelog after the break.

Last Day of NaBloPoMo!

By Jeff | Nov. 30, 2012

Whew! It's been a whirlwind month of posts here, but we won! 30 consecutive days of original content was a big goal for us, and there were definitely some days that we didn't really want to post anything (or felt like we had anything to post), but I thought it forced us to get things done on time more.

At Least We Have a Wreath

By Jeff | Nov. 29, 2012

Today was going to be Christmas decorating day, but as usual, things didn’t go quite as planned. Hanging lights outside is always difficult on a work day due to the sun going down, so we probably won’t get to those until the weekend.

Tables Should be Square

End Table

By Jeff | Nov. 27, 2012

Day two of the end table project (plans, part 1) went better in some things, but was ultimately unsuccessful. The goal for today was to have a completed base and top that could be joined, sanded, and stained. The good news is that the base is finished! Unfortunately, I ran into issues getting the top square, which is an obvious problem. I plan on taking it back to the shop on Monday to fix it up.

End Table Construction

End Table

By Jeff | Nov. 26, 2012

Remember the plans I showed you a couple weeks ago? Now that we're back home, it was time to get to work. The first thing I did was measure the crate that we got to get the actual measurements. This modified the plans slightly, but they were still doable. The main difference was that I decided to use 2 x 2 legs instead of 3 x 3 and not taper them. I picked up the supplies at a Lowe's nearby to the Techshop and got to work.

Project Week

By Jeff | Nov. 24, 2012

The past few days have been super crazy, so we’re sorry that the posts haven’t had as much real content as usual. We’ll fill you in a bit more tomorrow, but we have some exciting projects planned for this upcoming week.

Yard Work with Nova

By Hillary | Nov. 21, 2012

Jeff spent some time this afternoon cleaning up leaves in our backyard and, just like a little kid, Nova was having lots of fun running and jumping through the piles of leaves. Here she is fetching a ball in one of the piles.

It's a Two-Car Garage

By Jeff | Nov. 18, 2012

When we were looking for a house, one of the requirements was that it had a two-car garage. Ever since we moved in to our house though, we’ve had at most, a one-car garage. Between using the garage as a storage space for things not moved in yet to a temporary work area for our family room project, the garage has always been way too full to hold both cars. This past weekend when we weren’t cheering on the Wildcats in enemy territory, we were cleaning up the garage.

Master Bath Design Inspiration

By Hillary | Nov. 17, 2012

We are planning to paint our master bathroom a neutral “greige” color so we are looking to bring in some color to that room through towels and accessories. Browsing through Macy’s this evening, we found this combination that we think work well with the neutral backdrop and coordinate well with the linens and paint colors in the master bedroom.

Painting the Guest Bedroom

By Hillary | Nov. 15, 2012

Yesterday we showed you a sneak peek of our guest room when we revealed our headboard project, but that’s not the only progress we have made on that room so far. When we moved in, the room looked like this:

Projects: Headboard Upgrade

By Jeff | Nov. 14, 2012

In our apartment, we had a rather unusual headboard. We had found some fluffy batting and a nice fabric and taped it to our TV box and set it behind our bed. Since the box our TV came in was so large, it actually turned out just right. And not only do we think it looked good, but it solved the problem of us having to find a spot to put the giant box.

Mystery Project Planning

By Jeff | Nov. 13, 2012

After winning a 3-month membership to the local workshop, TechShop, I've been trying to come up with a good project to take advantage of the resources. I was also given a free class, so I took the basic wood shop class, which granted me access to several of the main tools in the wood shop area, and have finally come up with an idea.

Projects: Towel Hook

By Jeff | Nov. 11, 2012

Sometimes even a small, simple project can make a big difference. This weekend, Hillary’s parents were in town and we tackled several projects, including bagging leaves, patching a hole in the deck, selecting baseboards and crown molding for the family room (and eventually the rest of the house), and one more project that we will reveal tomorrow. On top of that, we also made a minor improvement to our master bathroom that fixed a major inconvenience: we installed a towel hook outside our shower.

About Us

Nov. 02, 2012

It all started back in 2006 when a cute Northwestern freshman girl threw her frisbee into a thistle bush and an awkward guy went in to fetch it.

Welcome to Our New Blog!

By Jeff | Nov. 01, 2012

Welcome everyone to our new blog, Soft Puppy. Warm House. We're still in the process of getting everything all set up, so stay tuned for big updates in the next few weeks. We'll also be participating in NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month) so we'll be posting a new article daily throughout the month of November.

Fencing Complete

By Jeff | Oct. 13, 2012

We finally have a fence! It even came earlier than expected, although due to unfortunate placement of lines, it did take 2 days to install instead of one. Now Nova has a nice big yard she can run around in safely. We are a bit worried, that she’ll eventually be able to find a way out, but we have a…

Projects: Office Paint

By Jeff | Oct. 01, 2012

A few weekends ago, Home Depot had a sale where if you buy 5 gallons of paint, you could get $20 off. So naturally, we had to make a trip to get some of the paint we’re planning on using the most: Big Chill.

Projects: Family Room Renovation Part 1

By Jeff | Sep. 27, 2012

Pretty soon after we moved in to our house, we decided that the wood paneling in our family room had to go. Even though it didn’t look that bad painted white, we knew that once we painted it our own color (blue), it would be a lot more visible. Also, with the strange 8 ft panels and 8.5 ft ceilings, it was just going to look weird. Yes, there was actually 1/2 ft of drywall showing above the panelling.

Attic Wiring

By Jeff | Sep. 22, 2012

This is my third attempt at trying to figure out how to get cables from the corner of the family room to the attic. I could hire someone to do it, but is it worth a few hundred dollars when it’s free if I do it?

Projects: Fence Update

By Jeff | Sep. 03, 2012

We put down our deposit on our fence! We decided to go with Defence Enterprises because the owner, Matt, was very friendly and liked dogs. He also didn’t try to sell us on a more expensive product that he didn’t think we really needed. We’ll keep you guys updated throughout the process, so look for another post in the next 2 to 4 weeks when the materials come in!

Projects: Pot Rack

By Jeff | Sep. 02, 2012

When I’m cooking, I like to have everything close by where I can reach it more quickly. It just helps things more more quickly and saves stress, which, if you’ve ever been around me cooking, you know how important this is. Traditionally, pots and pans are stored under the oven. I think this takes too long. So what ends up happening is the stove has my 2 or 3 most used pots and pans on it all the time and the kitchen looks more cluttered than it needs to be.

Projects: Fencing 1

By Jeff | Aug. 22, 2012

One of the things our house didn’t have that we really wanted was a fence. Fortunately, we found that they were allowed and so we’ve set off to get one set up. Last Friday, we had three different companies come out and give us feedback and estimates. With those in hand, we’ve applied for approval from our homeowner’s association. Hopefully, we’ll have a fence all set up for Nova to run around as fast as she wants!

Installing CableCARD

By Jeff | Aug. 08, 2012

CableCARD is required by the FCC to be offered by your cable provider to allow users more freedom in how they view their media. You won’t hear it advertised because the cable companies have no reason to make information about them known. In fact, most techs and customer service representatives may not have heard of them or know ho to install one. The most common uses for these are in a TiVO, but you can also use them when making your own DVR such as with Windows Media Center. This last example is exactly what we planned to do.

Unexpected Projects: Air Conditioning

Unexpected Projects

By Jeff | Aug. 06, 2012

When our air conditioning stopped working, we were once again very glad we had our home warranty. But in addition, the sellers had also purchased a “worry-free service plan” from Robin Aire, who has installed all of the heating and cooling systems in the house. It entitles us to two annual tune-ups so we called them up and set up an appointment for them to come out the next day.

Picking Paint Colors

By Hillary | Aug. 01, 2012

One of the more fun tasks in settling into the new house is dreaming about all of the ways that we can make changes to it to reflect our personalities and lifestyle. We are fortunate enough to be beginning with a pretty neutral color palette on the walls, so repainting every room isn’t an immediate priority, but we do want to repaint everything eventually, and I have been having a lot of fun picking out colors.

Switching to Cable

By Jeff | Jul. 25, 2012

For those of you that know us personally, you know we originally received our video content from three main sources: OTA, Hulu, and Netflix. OTA provided us with all the local stations (NBC, CBS, ABC, etc.) in full HD with 5.1 surround sound. Hulu provided us with low quality cable shows. Netflix provided us with movies and blu-rays.

Home Network Planning

By Jeff | Jul. 23, 2012

Once we finally figure out what to do with the family room, we’ll be able to install the in-wall portion of our network. In the meantime, I thought it would be nice to give you guys a sneak peak of what the final network is going to look like.

Unexpected Projects: Plumbing

Unexpected Projects

By Jeff | Jul. 21, 2012

When we purchased the house, we knew that there would be maintenance and repairs to take care of, especially since the house isn’t exactly new. However, we were thinking they’d be spread out over more than 1 month. We are calling it our trial by fire, and four weeks into being homeowners, we are starting to feel like pros at getting things fixed.

Our First Project: Dining Room Dimmer Switch

By Jeff | Jul. 09, 2012

We’ve only just moved into our new place, but we wanted to start on some projects right away. Neither of us have much experience in either the DIY or home owning world, so we thought it would be good to start small. Since the dining room wasn’t a high priority, it wouldn’t be that big of a deal if we messed things up, but the dimmer switch that controls the lights in that room was really old and practically falling apart. Plus, swapping out a light switch should be easy, right? Well, armed with our new drill and new dimmer switch / wall plate, we began work.

House Tour

By Jeff | Jul. 08, 2012

We’ve been asked by just about everybody to post pictures of what the house looks like, and we’re finally ready to do that. No, it doesn’t mean that we’re even remotely unpacked or ready to have guests, but we’ve got all the pictures set up from when the house was devoid of boxes. We’ll walk you all through the house and mention some of the different things we want to change or upgrade.

Goodbye, Apartment. Hello, House!

By Jeff | Jul. 02, 2012

Our little apartment that lasted Jeff three years and the two of us two years.

We’re finally moved out of apartment! It’s been great for the last three years, but we were really starting to outgrow it and we’re so excited to be able to focus on unpacking all of the boxes in our new house. Check out a snapshot of our new place after the break.

CableCARD Rights

By Jeff | Jun. 28, 2012

We recently upgraded to CableCARD and wanted to share this with anybody who was having issues getting theirs set up. If you don’t know what it is or how it can benefit you, stay tuned. We’ll be posting a complete write up later next month.

House Update

By Jeff | May. 22, 2012

Only two more days until we close on our first house! Tomorrow is our final walk-through to make sure everything is in shape. Stay tuned for many more house updates in the future.