Using Fabric Scraps to Wrap Presents

With three weeks to go until Christmas, I’m about 90% done with my shopping and ready for the next phase: wrapping. I love a beautifully wrapped present and truly enjoy wrapping gifts for friends and loved ones. The biggest downfall for me is it always feels pretty wasteful to see the beautiful paper get ripped up and thrown in the trash. This year I decided to try something new – it’s inexpensive, sustainable, and pretty which is a win win win in my book!

A few months ago, I was wandered down the fabric aisle of my local thrift store. A large piece of fabric caught my eye – a plaid pattern with greens, reds, and golds that felt so festive without being obvious. I immediately was inspired and thought what if I used this for wrapping presents? Sure it’s not actually wrapping paper, but it could work, right? I bought the fabric for a couple bucks and started to look through the fabric sections every time I went thrifting, picking up a 1/2 yard here, a yard there, etc. Fabric scraps can be found in all sizes for just a dollar or two and soon I had a little collection of fabric for wrapping.

None of the patterns are actually Christmas-y. There’s no reindeer or Santa or holly or candy canes or anything like that, but I chose a variety of textures and patterns that together have an overall festive feel. I also got out my collection of ribbons – a couple rolls were new but I’ve also saved bits of twine and ribbons from gifts I’ve received over the years and thrifted some rolls as well (I thrifted that red and green plaid ribbon over 10 years ago!)

When it came to wrapping, it was basically the same process as with paper. I measured how much I needed for each present and cut the fabric to size.

I tested a few tapes and found that duct tape actually worked the best for fabric. I taped the initial edges directly to the box like I would with traditional wrapping paper and Scotch tape.

To hide the tape, I rolled it to tuck behind the final fold on each side.

I tied each package up with a ribbon, making sure to have the ribbon hold down the sides where I folded the fabric to keep everything securely wrapped.

That’s it! It’s super easy and basically the same process as with traditional paper. I love how all of the presents turned out! The collection of gifts looks unique and fun and I can’t wait to give them out this Christmas. It also makes me so happy to know this is very low waste – all of this wrapping material will be saved and used again for years to come.

Christmas Home Tour 2022

I’ve enjoyed taking a slow and steady approach to decorating for Christmas this year and have added bits and pieces to our home over the last week and a half. As of last night, I think I’m pretty much done (at least with all the major decorations), so today I thought I’d give you a little tour of our home decked out for Christmas!

I want my kids’ memories of Christmas in our home to feel magical so I definitely upped my game this year and concentrated on a few areas where I felt we’d get the most bang for our buck. I didn’t add things to every room. I didn’t add a single Christmas item in our basement. I specifically focused on the areas our family, particularly the kids, use the most. One of the biggest things I did was add ribbons and ornaments to existing decor – it was such a fun way to make things feel extra special without actually swapping out everything and since it’s higher than they can reach, it’s very kid-friendly.

This year my kids wanted to contribute a lot, especially with decorating the tree and dining room – it’s not perfect, but this house is our home and it feels festive and magical to us, which is the entire point. πŸ™‚ I didn’t take a picture of every single Christmas item in my house, but this will give you a very good glimpse at our home this season. Enjoy!

Kids’ Bedroom

I really wanted LJ and Vi’s shared bedroom to have some Christmas magic and one of the top things I wanted was a small tree with twinkle lights. I was pretty particular about size/looks (and I wanted to try to find one secondhand rather than buy new) so I started my search early and scoured thrift stores for a couple weeks. I eventually scored this cute little tabletop tree at a local vintage shop and is so perfect! I had fun thrifting cute kid-friendly ornaments and also bought a few new ones at a local small business.

LJ and Vi came with me to a local vintage sale and one of them spotted this little set of bottlebrush trees. They both insisted we get them and honestly, it was not hard to convince me! I think they look so cute on the dresser and the kids really love them.

We also have several Christmas-themed books that I always pull out in December and this year I’m keeping them all in the kids’ room for bedtime stories.

Main Floor

This year’s tree is very bottom-heavy with ornaments, but the kids had a blast hanging up as much as they could! Our big tree is always filled with sentimental ornaments and I love it.

I’ve never had a real tree or real garland before but I spotted some fresh cut cedar garland for sale at Costco and decided to give it a try. We made a dried orange garland as a family (well kind of – the kids did help for a few minutes ha!) and I hung it up around the cased opening between the living room and playroom. I LOVE it! Safe to say this will not be the last time I do this.

Normally I display the Christmas cards we receive but this year I’m keeping it simple with a vintage basket on our kitchen counter to collect cards and flip through them at our leisure.

On the first night of December we spent time as a family making paper snowflakes. It was so fun! I thought we’d hang them up on the windows but LJ was adamant that they should hang down from the ceiling and eventually he won me over. I’ll admit, there is something magical about the overall effect in person! I also love how perfectly imperfect the snowflakes are. The kids were so proud of their work and every snowflake, regardless of how it turned out, got hung up. It might not look picture-perfect but it makes us all feel warm and fuzzy so it’s just right for us.

I put together an advent activity calendar for our family thanks to some free printables I found and it’s hanging in our office. It’s been so fun to do!

And of course, Macie enjoys snuggling up with our Christmas-y blankets and pillows.

Now I’m off to sneak upstairs and try to start wrapping presents without getting caught!

Bringing Vintage Brass Back to Life in Three Easy Steps

I recently went to a local vintage sale and scored two different sets of three bells as well as a larger, wall-mounted dinner bell. Typically with vintage pieces, I like to keep the patina (the green or brown tarnished look that happens over time), as I think it adds character and charm. For some of the bells, however, the thing I loved most was the intricate etching and I felt like the high level of patina actually hid a lot of the beautiful detail. Much as I loved the warmth of age, I made the decision to polish them so they could (literally and figuratively) shine again.

I first learned about Brasso last year when I installed raw brass sconces in our primary bedroom. It’s a polish that can clean stainless steel, chrome, aluminum, pewter, bronze, copper, and of course, brass. A quick side note: I have been slowly switching my cleaning products over to nontoxic options when possible, and there are ways to clean brass more naturally (this article has a variety of ideas). That being said, in the past, I have attempted to clean thrifted metal items like brass and copper with things like lemon or ketchup – with mixed results. Since my bedroom sconces were new, raw, and not exactly inexpensive, I chose to forgo a homemade paste and follow the manufacturer’s recommendation to use Brasso instead. I was pleased with the result and am personally fine keeping it in my cleaning product stash, particularly given its infrequent use, so that’s what I chose to stick with here.

The process of polishing is actually very easy, so today I thought I’d share what I did in case anyone else has a piece they want to try shining up!

Materials

Brasso metal polish

-newspaper (or something to protect your work surface)

-latex gloves

-two clean cloths

First up, make sure your workspace is prepped with a few layers of newspaper or something else to protect the surface. You’ll want to be in a well-ventilated area and make sure to wear gloves!

Shake the Brasso and squeeze a dollop out onto a clean cloth.

Using a circular motion, rub the Brasso all over the surface of the item, applying more as needed.

I suggest starting with a light pressure until you see how the metal is shining up, and then adjust as needed depending on how much patina you want to keep. For these bells, I didn’t want them to end up too shiny and new-looking, so I kept a light pressure the entire time.

Once you have applied cleaner all over your item, use a clean, soft cloth to buff the surface.

That’s it! Easy Peasy. It only took me about five minutes to polish each bell and reveal the unique, beautiful details.

I’m sure there are people who would argue that all vintage pieces should be left alone and might feel I made the wrong decision here. As I said earlier, I’m usually on Team Patina = Character! But I do think there’s a time and a place to work on a piece and I honestly have no regrets about polishing these. I’m all about cultivating a home that feels collected, cozy, and comfortable, with items that make me and my family happy. The details on these bells are now so vivid and eye-catching in person and I know I will appreciate them for years to come. And as the years go by, I’ll get to enjoy watching the slow process of the patina coming back πŸ™‚

Now I’m curious – are you team polish or team leave as-is?

November 2022 Book Reviews

We’re officially in my favorite book-reading season, folks! It’s cold outside and my Christmas tree is up – what better place to curl up with a cozy blanket and read a good book by the twinkly lights? This past month, I read two books. One felt like a warm hug from a friend and one filled me with the waters of rage. So…bit of a mixed bag. Ha! Let’s discuss.

Iona Iverson’s Rules for Commuting by Clare Pooley

“Every day Iona, a larger-than-life magazine advice columnist, travels the ten stops from Hampton Court to Waterloo Station by train, accompanied by her dog, Lulu.  Every day she sees the same people, whom she knows only by nickname: Impossibly-Pretty-Bookworm and Terribly-Lonely-Teenager. Of course, they never speak. Seasoned commuters never do. Then one morning, the man she calls Smart-But-Sexist-Manspreader chokes on a grape right in front of her. He’d have died were it not for the timely intervention of Sanjay, a nurse, who gives him the Heimlich maneuver. This single event starts a chain reaction, and an eclectic group of people with almost nothing in common except their commute discover that a chance encounter can blossom into much more. It turns out that talking to strangers can teach you about the world around you–and even more about yourself.”

I read Pooley’s The Authenticity Project back in April 2020 and loved it. This book followed the same “diverse cast of characters with seemingly little in common unite around a common person/event and are forever changed” playbook, but I’m not complaining! I thought this book was delightful. The cast of characters are realistic, flawed yet likeable, and entertaining. I thoroughly enjoyed the way each of their stories wove together as the plot unfolded through their varied perspectives. Iona is just the right person for this bunch to gather around and I found myself vividly picturing their interactions on this commuter train. I kept smiling and even chuckling to myself as the story developed, which is always a sign that the characters have taken a life of their own and seem like real people with real personalities. There were just the right amount of individual and combined plots (and the right amount of side characters that made occasional – and generally humorous – appearances) to make an interesting, uplifting read. It’s fun, it’s sweet, it’s satisfying – highly recommend this one!

Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty by Patrick Radden Keefe

For decades, the Sackler name has been known in elite circles – the family’s extraordinary wealth and philanthropy have meant their names were on everything from college buildings to art museums. It was no secret that they had given away millions, but where exactly the millions came from was less clear . . . until the high-profile lawsuits began. The truth is, for generations the family was heavily involved in the pharmaceutical business, producing everything from laxatives to Valium, but their biggest “contribution” to society was the making (and aggressive marketing) of OxyContin – a powerful opioid that helped launch the United States into a devastating opioid epidemic.

This book was eye-opening to say the least. Prior to reading, I had vague recollections of hearing about Purdue Pharma a while ago but didn’t really remember any specific details. The author spent years researching for this deep-dive book and it is an incredibly thorough look at four generations of Sacklers: from their humble immigrant beginnings to the building of a multibillion dollar empire. Though it’s nonfiction, it reads like a story and was so compelling that even as a longer read (440 pages of the actual narrative, then roughly 100 pages of notes!), I found it hard to put down. It’s well written, thoroughly researched, fact-checked, fascinating, and honestly? FRUSRATING. This family has profited for decades off of shady-at-best, illegal-at-worst practices in their pharmaceutical company (and multiple other businesses that created conflicts of interest yet somehow they got away with it). They have made BILLIONS of dollars pushing the sale of more prescriptions and higher doses of a highly addictive opioid, all the while claiming that it’s not at all addictive when followed as prescribed. I do believe the author tried to be factual and fair in his reporting, but the truth is this family is tremendously dislikable and the book was hard to read at times due to my outrage. It’s difficult to recommend, because I promise that it will make you angry too, but it’s also an absorbing read that leaves an impression you won’t forget.

What have you been reading lately?

A look back on our Fall 2022 Family Activities

Happy Monday! We had a wonderful Thanksgiving with our family last week and getting back into the swing of things today feels sort of like coming back after a vacation. I’m so grateful for having so much quality time with family and just taking a step back to relax a bit, but I’m also ready to jump back into our regular routine.

Even though it’s still November for a few more days, we’ve officially transitioned to Christmas season around here. The tree is up, I’m 90% done with present shopping, and Christmas music and activities are beginning. I love this time of the year and am so excited to dive in but first, I just wanted to take a minute to look back on our fall. It was our first one as a family of five and honestly, it was so great. We didn’t pack it full of things since we were still adjusting to life with another baby, but the things we did do really made it a special season of life. Maybe it’s not interesting to anyone but me and that’s okay, but I wanted a place to document everything in one place and that’s what today’s post is all about. Here’s a look back at our fall 2022 highlights:

Preschool Started

LJ and Vi have had a GREAT year so far in preschool. They both look forward to going and excitedly recap their days as soon as they hop in the car at pick up. Vi is still young enough that she parallel plays with her classmates and will occasionally talk about what a friend did at school but mostly just recaps what she did herself. LJ on the other hand has made a few buddies in his class and he enjoys talking about what his friends did or what they did together. I’m so glad they’re both enjoying school so much!

We joined gymnastics!

I decided that I could handle taking on ONE regularly-scheduled activity this fall with the kids and chose to try gymnastics. For privacy reasons, I’m not going to share pictures of my kids at gymnastics but they were both instantly hooked. They love their classes and have so much fun and it’s a great activity for them to improve their coordination, balance, and gross motor skills. (I also love this sweet leotard I purchased from a small business – it’s a bit of an investment but it washes super well and Vi wears it often!)

Family Fun at a Fall Festival

Is it even fall if you don’t find yourself surrounded by pumpkins at some point? We headed to a new-to-us local fall festival on a Saturday in October – it was warm and sunny and so much fun. It was one of those places that had a ton going on: playgrounds and mazes and hayrides and a jump pad and caramel apples and pumpkin picking and apple cider donuts and a dance party and pig races (lol) and so much more. We had an absolute blast and I know this will become an annual family tradition!

We forgot to take a family picture there so this is the best I have. Ha! I often think that forgetting to take pictures is a sign that you were having too much fun to think about it and that was definitely true here. We had the best day!

Harvest Time

My dad is a farmer and for years now, LJ has loved being his little sidekick on the farm. He has helped my dad at all stages of managing the crops this year so he was very excited for the most fun part: harvesting! It’s hard to see, but LJ is up there in the combine with my dad having the time of his life. It’s very sweet for me to see them bond over a shared love of farming and it’s been so good for LJ to see and appreciate the hard work and dedication that goes into it.

Pumpkin Picking

Speaking of time at my parents’ farm, after a long day of harvesting, the kids and I stopped in their pumpkin patch to select some pumpkins for our house. (Notice Vi’s chosen outfit: a “princess dress and princess shoes” ha!) We picked a bunch of pumpkins and since we weren’t wanting to attempt pumpkin carving with the kids just yet, they had fun inviting a friend over one morning to have a pumpkin painting playdate.

Apple Picking

Justin has Wednesdays off work, so we took advantage of a gorgeous fall Wednesday to head to a new-to-us local orchard. It was really nice to not have all the crowds that a weekend normally brings and just stroll through the orchard picking out different apples to try. LJ loved running ahead of us to “read” the signs at the end of the rows (he would spell out all the letters so we knew what apples were in the row) and we all got our fill of apples and apple cider. It was maybe not the best idea I’ve ever had to push a stroller through the bumpy ground of an orchard but nonetheless, we all had a great day together.

Campfires

Towards the end of September, Justin made a campfire for our family to enjoy s’mores after dinner. We all had so much fun that we decided to make this a weekly tradition until the weather got too cold. We had so many campfires this fall – some in warm, gorgeous weather and some in cold and windy weather – and have made some great memories. LJ loved learning how to help build and stoke a campfire and we all enjoyed eating s’mores and just hanging out together. We even had my grandparents join us for one campfire which was extra special.

We’re still hanging on to our campfires but now that it’s getting colder and darker each day, we may not have many more until we have to push pause until spring. Still, this has been such a fun tradition to incorporate into our family!

Zoo Day

Our zoo stays open until the end of October and they go ALL out in the month of October to decorate for fall. I picked a warm Friday for one final visit of the year and the kids and I had so much fun seeing not only all the animals, but also all the decorations. The kids especially enjoyed the hanging witch hats everywhere and would try to find ones at the right height that they could wear. We took our time and did all the things they wanted and it was actually a super fun me+three day together.

I have one specific memory of LJ turning around on the train ride to show me a leaf – the sun was behind him and made him all glowy with a gorgeous autumnal light. He was so excited about the leaf and wanted to tell me about it and it was just a picture perfect moment of childhood innocence. This is my last year with him at home like this. Next year is kindergarten and things will change. This moment on the train took my breath away and gave me such gratitude and appreciation for this stage of life. It’s not always easy but I truly do love it. I don’t have a picture of that memory but I LIVED it. I was so aware of it and soaked it up in the moment and I’m very grateful for it.

Halloween

I know my years of convincing everyone to do a family costume are likely numbered, so each year I enjoy it while I can! This year we were Frozen due to Vi’s love of all things Elsa. Vi and I had store-bought costumes but I DIY’ed a Sven, Olaf, and Kristoff (although LJ insisted he was NOT Kristoff, we convinced him to participate by telling him he could be an “ice farmer” with a wooden ice pick Justin made for him). The kids had an absolute BLAST running around to houses with their friends and we were thankful for good friends who let us “adopt” their neighborhood and walk around with them.

Lingering Patio Dates

My favorite kind of date is one where we are eating outside. I don’t even care what kind of food it is, but if there’s patio seating, my enjoyment factor ups significantly. There was a random, unseasonably warm day in November and Justin and I happened to have a date night planned. We requested outdoor seating and it made me ridiculously happy to have the gift of one more outdoor date before the cold sets in for the next several months. I was so thankful for a fun night with my main man + the cutest tagalong.

Early Voting as a Family!

For the last several years Justin and I have voted early, but this year was the first year we decided to try taking the kids. This actually ended up being SO much fun. We went mid-morning on the Saturday before election day. There were only 2-3 people in front of us in line so the wait was super short. The kids had lots of questions and it was so fun to show them how everything works and explain what voting is and why it’s important. They got little “future voter” stickers from the poll workers (who were so kind and excited to have kids join!) and we each took a big kid into the booth with us and let them push the final red button to submit once we were finished. Justin and I both agreed it was way smoother taking children along than we anticipated. Afterwards we had lunch at a local diner and it was an unexpectedly fun day as a family.

LJ’s birthday party!

We had a great time celebrating LJ’s fifth birthday with family on the Saturday before his birthday. His actual birthday fell on a Tuesday this year. He had no school due to Thanksgiving break and Justin worked all day, so in an effort to make it special and fun, I invited a few of his friends over for a birthday playdate and lunch. We haven’t done friend birthday parties yet, but this was a good start. I specified no gifts, but did ask the kids to just draw a birthday card if they wanted. The cards were so sweet and LJ was so surprised to see his friends show up to play with him!

Family Time + Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving this year was so much fun. We spent it with my extended family – not everyone could make it due to sickness but we had a great time catching up with those who could attend. And of course, the food was delicious! On the way to Thanksgiving dinner we went around the car saying things we were thankful for and I had to jot down the kids’ lists which were both precious and funny. We also had a special mid-November visit from Justin’s brother and his family, followed by a visit from Justin’s parents so we made lots and lots of sweet family memories in November!

What a sweet, sweet fall we had. I am truly thankful beyond words for this family of mine and all the moments we shared together. I’m so excited to make more memories and enjoy more fun as we gear up for Christmas now!

LJ is FIVE!

I cannot believe I am typing these words, but my firstborn baby boy is now a five-year-old.

Over the past year, I have remarked over and over again “I just LOVE four!” LJ at four years old was so awesome and I intentionally soaked it all up. It was such a fun, sweet, silly, innocent, enjoyable year of his life and it is definitely bittersweet for me to see it go, but I’m also incredibly excited to see what five will bring.

LJ is an incredibly inquisitive child. He has 87234 questions a day – he wants to know how things work and can you teach him how to do this and why this or that happens and what are we going to do next and “what’s today for?” and on and on. About a month ago, he asked us if he could have his own calendar because we kept talking about Halloween and his birthday (and other family members’ birthdays) and Thanksgiving and Christmas and he wanted to see it all laid out to make sense of when things were happening. We printed some pages off for him and mapped everything out – holidays, school days, his party, etc. He now checks off the days each morning to keep track and it’s just the cutest thing.

He also has a very sharp memory for details so we’ve learned that we have to answer his 87234 questions in the most truthful, age-appropriate way because he WILL remember what we said! It’s been exciting to see his critical thinking skills develop over the past year; as we give him answers he’ll think about them and process and then have either more questions or an “oooooh, so …” and explain it in his own words or come to a conclusion that makes sense.

LJ is still very into all things tractors and farming. He helps my dad on the farm and enjoys it so much. He has already told me that when he’s 10, he’ll be done living with us and will move to grandma and grandpa’s farm, ha! This love of all things farming has been going strong for years and doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time soon.

His other love right now is Legos. Justin was also very into Legos as a kid so he has started passing his collection on to LJ – I love seeing them work on building things together! No surprise here, but LJ loves to build tractors, combines, wagons, etc and he has multiple Lego farms set up around the playroom at any given time. This has been a great way for him to use his imagination and makes us so happy to see him have such joy in creating with Legos.

LJ has always been a great big brother to Vi, but I was still surprised to see just how wonderful he is with Ollie. There are only 21 months between LJ and Vi, so while there is still the big-brother-little-sister dynamic, they are also peers with shared play, a shared room, similar activities, etc.

With Ollie though, there is a big gap and LJ has very much embraced the caretaker role. He enjoys helping with Ollie – bringing burp cloths and pacifiers, giving him hugs and kisses, holding him, feeding him a bottle, etc. He is sweet and nurturing and his tender heart really shines in his big big brother role.

Last week Justin and I went to LJ’s Thanksgiving program at preschool and several moms introduced themselves to me, saying they hear all about LJ from their child (in a good way it seems, haha!) Seeing LJ wave and say hi to everyone and watching other kids interact with him – it just makes me SO proud as a mom to see him be kind to everyone.

Of course, there are stubborn moments in our life. There are times when LJ doesn’t listen or throws a fit or gets in trouble for doing something sneaky, but honestly, that’s infrequent. Overall, he is sweet, loving, cautious, affectionate, curious, kind, smart, honest, energetic, playful, and just so much fun. The other night, Justin and I were talking about how much we just really enjoy LJ at this stage – he is fun be around and talk to and do activities with!

This morning when he woke up, I gave him a big birthday hug and talked about how he is older and bigger today. He grinned and jumped up and then asked if we could check to see if I can still hold him – my mama heart MELTED and I immediately scooped him up. That’s LJ in a nutshell – excited to be big but still wants to know he can cuddle too.

Happy 5th birthday sweet boy!

10 High-Impact DIYs {that you can do in a weekend!}

Last weekend, Justin and I rented a scaffold for 24 hours and painted our living room ceiling Urbane Bronze. It was such a dramatic way to make a high-impact change in our living room in just one weekend – it got me thinking about other weekend projects we’ve done over the years that have had a high impact on our home.

I started digging through my DIY archives and it turns out, in addition to painting our living room ceiling a bold color, many of the projects we’ve done in the past few years are true weekend projects. They’re not elaborate, time consuming projects like our DIY home office, but they’re a step above smaller changes like hanging artwork or swapping out a light fixture. I decided to round them up and put them in a post together in case anyone out there is looking to make a change in their house in a short amount of time – all these projects can get done in the timespan of Friday evening to Sunday afternoon (or less!)

I included a little blurb about each project but to read more about each of these DIYs, including the tutorials and sources, you can click on the project title hyperlink text to go to the original blog posts.

Open Shelf Storage Unit

The very first DIY we did in this house was creating a shelving system for the playroom. We essentially screwed four inexpensive, ready-to-assemble bookcases together, added trim to the front to cover the seams, attached a long oak board to the top, and used stained 1x2s along the edges to make the wood look chunkier. It required some paint touch ups at first but I got smart and covered the shelves with clear contact paper which helped a TON and it has held up so well over 3.5 years of play!

Scalloped Accent Wall

We opted to be surprised in my first two pregnancies and did not find out the sex in advance. After Vi was born, her all-white nursery felt super plain, boring, and sterile. I wanted to do something but didn’t want to go too big in case we had a third child (good thing, huh?) so I chose to do a pink scalloped wall. It made such a big impact and while it only lasted two years before Ollie came along, it was 100% worth it.

Floating Bookshelves

Justin and I first made these shelves on a DIY date night using scraps from our garage – it was a fun, simple project to do together and we installed them in the little nook under the stairs. I loved them so much that I asked him to make a couple more for Ollie’s nursery. I think it’s such a cute and functional way to display books and make them double as artwork in your room.

Paint Your Cabinets

I have now painted three kitchens (this one, this one, and this one!) and I will say it absolutely can be done in a weekend, but it will take the full weekend! In terms of cost-to-impact ratio though, it just doesn’t get much higher than painted cabinets. You can totally transform the look of your kitchen for about $150 or less in paint + supplies.

A smaller scale project is to paint a bathroom cabinet – this makes a big impact in a fraction of the cost and time!

Faux Marble Counters

One of my favorite projects in our basement kitchen renovation was painting the laminate counters to look like marble. It turned out so well and thanks to this kit that had everything I needed, it was pretty easy to create! This could also easily be done in a bathroom to change the look of the counters.

Geometric Accent Wall

This wasn’t a project from our house, but we created this geometric accent wall for a friend-of-a-friend’s bedroom using inexpensive 1×2’s. It took under 24 hours and cost less than $70 in supplies – a quick and easy way to create visual interest on their large bedroom wall.

Ikea Vittsjo Shelving Unit Hack

When it came time to update Justin’s office, we used large pieces of plywood to create the look of one giant shelving unit from three individual Ikea Vittsjo shelves. I’d say plan for a full weekend for this project, as it did require some tedious measuring and cutting, but for us, each shelf went a little quicker than the last as we got our process down and we love the end result.

Open Shelves with Brackets

It doesn’t get much simpler than this shelving option: cut a 1×8 board to size, stain + polyurethane, install a few brackets into the wall, and place the board on top. Granted, we had previously taken down the cabinet that hung there and painted + stenciled the wall, but cabinet removal + a simple patch and paint job + DIY shelves could definitely be done in one weekend.

Create a Frame for a Frameless Mirror

You know those plain builder-grade mirrors that have no frames and bring no personality to a space? Turns out, it’s pretty easy to upgrade them with a frame! We did one for my nephew’s nursery one weekend and it made the mirror look so much more elevated! For what it’s worth, that dresser is also one of many that I’ve upgraded – painting a piece of furniture can definitely be another great weekend project!

A Dramatic Ceiling for the Living Room

Last week I shared that I painted our living room and while I loved the warm, inviting white, the vastness of the room made it feel a little empty. The cathedral ceiling reaches a height of nearly 15 feet at its peak and it just felt too open and boring up there. I decided to make the ceiling a dramatic feature by painting it a rich, dark color and I have to say, I LOVE how it turned out!

I chose a color I have used several times in the past: Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze. I’ve seen this color described as a warm gray, a deep taupe, and a greige, among other things. It’s a bit of a chameleon color that can change drastically depending on the lighting. It somehow feels dramatic and bold, yet is neutral enough to go with anything. When I started thinking about what color to paint the ceiling, I knew I wanted something show-stopping that would continue to look good over the years as I tweak things in the living room. Urbane Bronze was the perfect choice – I know it will continue to work in the space no matter what updates I make to the lower portion of the room.

In addition to using the 6-foot scaffold we own, we had to rent a scaffold to paint the highest points of the ceiling. There is a large oak beam in the center of the ceiling that I did not want to paint, so Justin and I split the work of cutting in around it. Since we had the scaffold for 24 hours, we also had the chance to take down the light-less ceiling fan and install a new fixture. I chose this round chandelier with globes and I absolutely love it! The dark iron + white globes + warm bronze paint + stained oak combo is just the dramatic vibe I was going for and Justin and I love that we finally have overhead lighting in this room!

Renting a scaffold ended up being a super cost-effective solution. Instead of hiring a painter for the ceiling and an electrician for the light fixture, we were able to rent a scaffold from Home Depot (a 24-hour rental was about $70) and take care of painting and hanging the new light fixture ourselves. I want to add: this is definitely not a beginner DIY. Being on a scaffold is unnerving no matter what you’re doing; you want to be really confident in the task so you can focus more on balance. At this point in our marriage, Justin has swapped out approximately 10 different light fixtures. We would never have attempted this project if he wasn’t experienced and confident with switching things out – even with his skill and experience, the scale of this one still made it a challenging DIY for us. Similarly, the painting was obviously more challenging than painting a room with an 8 to 10 foot ceiling, but I’ve done countless rooms over the years and that helped me feel confident enough to attempt painting a large room using a scaffold. I think with DIY it’s good to push yourself to try new things but it’s also very important to know your limits. Even with the experience we just gained, we will be hiring out the painting of our foyer – scaffolding + stairs is not something we feel confident enough in so hiring out the work to professionals is 100% worth it!

While paint has made a huge impact already, there are many things left to address in this room. I have sconces to replace the floor lamps as soon as we can get an electrician out here to hardwire them, art to hang on the wall, I need to paint the windows and replace the window trim, and I need to figure out the situation with the TV + stand. Oh! And did you see that fun round green chair? We’re going to get a second one – and I need to figure out a side table as well. It’s slow and steady but we’ll get there!

Art & Paying Attention to Details

Back in September, I went on a home and garden tour in my favorite neighborhood in our city. I loved getting to see so many beautiful historic homes and had many takeaways from the experience. Two things that stood out to me on the tour were artwork and attention to details. These homeowners were all appreciators of art and it showed! I loved seeing how their choices reflected their unique personalities and especially enjoyed seeing original art on the walls. I also found myself drawn to the small things that were clearly so intentional -art placed in a thoughtful or surprising location, a little nook made into a special moment, etc. These little details made the homes feel so consciously cared for and it left me feeling inspired to make our home feel this way too.

I’ve been making small strides around here to curate more art that speaks to me and reflects our family well, all while trying to be intentional with the details too. If you follow me on Instagram, you may have seen my recent changes to the far left side of Vi’s gallery wall:

Previously, I had a little print on the top left that I received as a free gift with purchase of one of her dolls. It was fine, but I used it because I had it and not because I chose it. When I saw this girl in a mask print, I immediately felt drawn to it. If you know Vi, you know this print fits her personality so well! I placed it in a thrifted frame and it immediately made the wall feel more like her. I also had the idea to take a thrifted frame of an unusual size, remove the print that came in it, and use it to create a double-framed look around the picture of her and LJ. It’s a simple little detail but I love that it brings some fun and whimsy to the wall!

I loved the idea of a double frame so much that I used that again in my office! My sister is an artist and I loved this moody little flower on canvas she created. I decided to place it in an unique spot to showcase it and used command strips to place it on the trim work of the office built ins. That alone was a fun look, but adding a square frame that Justin made from scraps of trim from our house bumped it up several notches in my mind! I also added a vintage print I snagged at a sale recently to the top shelf – this might move somewhere else eventually but for now I love the peek of landscape up there.

I’m trying to reframe my ideas about what “art” is – anything can be displayed as a special thing. I’ve propped up meaningful books, added one-of-a-kind pottery from a local artisan, and even displayed the cute little card that came with a plant-related purchase. I love the collected, unique look this brings together.

When I purchased the masked girl print for Vi’s room, this unique print caught my eye. It’s not my usual style, but I instantly loved it and decided to roll with that feeling and purchase it in a large size. I love it just propped up against the shelves – it feels both casual and thoughtful at the same time.

Choosing to add these new items in front of the shelves, rather than on the shelves where everything else it, brought a new dimension to the built ins that I’m very into. The layers feel fresh and interesting, and maybe it’s not noticeable to anyone but me, but these shelves reflect our family and our history in so many ways. It makes our home feel like a cozy little haven – a home that gets used and loved and is lived in – and that’s a feeling I have always wanted for this house.

I’ve always been a fan of slow, intentional decorating and these small changes have strengthened my passion for it. I know I will continue to add and tweak and pay attention to the details for years to come!

White Walls in the Living Room

After two weekends of work (and some terrifying time up on a scaffold), the living room walls are finished being painted. This room is still FAR from done but just getting fresh paint on the walls makes it feel so different!

Golden Hour (5 pm):

Morning Light (9 am):

Before:

As much as I love color, I couldn’t figure out a good way to put color on the walls in here. This room is connected to the kitchen and entryway/foyer in a semi-open-concept way; it just didn’t feel like there was enough separation to make this room a different color so I chose to continue the same warm white (Sherwin Williams Alabaster) with greige trim (Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray) look in here. Now that it’s finished, I have to say, I’m way more excited about a white living room than I thought I would be. It actually makes the room seem even bigger than it was before and the white serves as a soft visual resting place in between colors from the other rooms.

Golden Hour (5 pm)

Morning Light (9 am):

I decided to up my paint game to tackle this large room so I used an 18″ paint roller for the first time and WOW. Even for smaller rooms, I don’t think I’ll ever go back. It covers so much more space with each pass and significantly cut down on my work time. I highly recommend!

This was also my first time painting up on a scaffold and that was . . . an experience. I don’t love heights as it is, and even when locked the scaffold was pretty shaky. I knew it was stable but my heart was still racing with the wobbles! Now looking around the room with its huge walls, it really is empowering knowing I did 99.95% of it ALL BY MYSELF. I’m giving myself a gold star.

About that 0.05%. The ceilings in here are mostly 11.5 feet, with one wall going to a peak at 14.5 feet. Justin actually had to paint that apex by raising the scaffold to its highest height and put a stepladder on top. Yikes! My 18″ roller with extender could do the entire wall except for cutting in at the ceiling and I’m thankful he’s not scared of heights like I am or that last little bit would never be finished.

I also decided to paint the door leading out to the porch while I had all my paint supplies out. I considered black, but ultimately decided I don’t want this door to be much of a focal point so I painted it SW Agreeable Gray to match the trim. I love that it looks fresh but doesn’t stand out too much. It’s going to look even better once the lamp is gone and our sconces are installed!

There’s much more to do with the room, but this feels like a really great first step. Next up: windows and ceiling!