One Room Challenge Week Six: Our Home Office REVEAL!

It’s the final week of the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge! We’ve been pouring our heart and soul into our home office and I’m so excited to show you how it turned out!

Let’s take a quick trip down memory lane, shall we? Two months ago, the room looked like this:

Fluorescent light, barely functional window shades, mismatched storage – yikes. It was a hot mess combination of storage/overflow/office/extra guest bedroom and unfortunately due to the French doors, we saw the room every. single. day. Since the day we moved in, I’ve been dreaming of this being a cozy home office + library and it makes me so happy to see this vision come to life!

After removing all the old trim and beadboard paneling, Justin and I took primed shiplap and ran the planks vertically all around the room and on the ceiling. We put extra effort into making sure the ceiling planks lined up with the wall planks, and I think that effort was definitely worth it! I chose the color Treron by Farrow and Ball and had it color-matched at Lowe’s for all the walls, ceiling, trim, and built-ins.

The olive green color strikes just the right balance for me – not too dark, not too light, not too brown, not too green. It’s a bit of a chameleon color and changes a little depending on the lighting but it’s just a nice warm that makes the room feel so cozy.

Without a doubt, the star of the room is the gorgeous built-in. This showstopper took the room from no storage to tons of storage. The bottom portion is Ikea cabinets with Semihandmade doors and I love them so much. They look custom-made but for a fraction of the price! If you’ve been following along in my Instagram stories, you know that I had two different options for hardware but didn’t feel like either was quite right so I ordered a third set. I’m still waiting on those cabinet pulls and knobs to arrive and I think they’ll be the perfect finishing touch. Stay tuned!

Back in the planning stages, I debated on whether to do a built-in desk or keep it freestanding, then whether to do all cabinet doors or have a section of drawers as well. I’m so happy with my decision to do a freestanding desk and include a section of drawers in the middle. It provides tons of easily accessible and functional storage and with the desk in the middle, the room actually feels perfectly proportioned.

Justin and I worked together to build the bookshelves from scratch and we are both thrilled with how well they turned out. I intentionally tried to pull in other colors and textures throughout the bookshelves, especially with light colors and natural fibers to break up all the olive green throughout the room. In addition to all our books, the shelves are filled with special mementos, heirlooms, family pictures, and artwork from travels, so it very much feels like us.

I also have functional items throughout – closed storage boxes holding office supplies, decorative jars filled with pens and pencils, trays for papers, etc. The shelves strike the perfect blend of meaningful, beautiful, and functional for us.

I think of this room as a home office and library all in one. As I imagined shelves full of books, I also imagined a cozy area to read them in. The bay window area provided the ideal place to add a comfy reading chair. I had been on the hunt for a reading chair in either yellow/gold, rust, burgundy, or something along those lines but everything I found was super expensive. Then a few weeks ago, I saw someone share a post from the thrift store in my hometown. One of the items pictured was a set of vintage yellow chairs circa 1970s (sold separately for $50 each) and my heart immediately leapt. I sent my mom on a mission to the thrift store to see if the chairs were comfortable and in good shape. They were, and I convinced her to buy one for me for Christmas. Score! Here’s the chair when it first arrived – my parents thought I was crazy, but I knew it had potential.

If you follow me on Instagram, you know I performed a little cosmetic surgery on the chair to remove the flap of fabric at the bottom and this made a huge impact in making it seem more modern.

I brought down the little side table from Vi’s room, but I eventually plan to replace it with something else (I’m feeling a little round table?) and I’ll also add a floor lamp at some point. For now, I’m happy with this space!

In addition to replacing the baseboards, we also tore off the old window casing and added new trim in a style inspired by Jenni Yolo at ISpyDIY. I also painted the existing window frames and grille inserts Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams.

We had a slight fiasco with the bay window curtain rod because we didn’t realize that the side bars only extended 36″ max and we needed about 42″ but Justin came up with the brilliant idea to buy two cheap telescoping curtain rods and screw them into the angled attachment on the middle window’s curtain rod. This worked like a charm! The curtains are Ikea Ritva. I got them in 118″ length and then used hemming tape to shorten them a bit (I like a little pool at the bottom, but it was originally like 8″ too long). I hung them by attaching pleating hooks to the curtains and then hooking them through the eyelets of curtain rings. Rather than just putting the curtain rod through the loops of the curtain, this gave them a little extra oomph.

Another issue I ran into was rug size. Because of the bay window and angled doorway, the room is anything from square (don’t even get me started on how hard figuring out the crown molding was!). It left an awkward amount of floor space that I really needed a 6×9 rug for, but many of the rugs I loved only came in 5×7’6″ or 7’6″x9’6″. It was a frustrating search! Finally, I decided to try a layered rug look with a simple jute rug at the 6×9 size I needed and a patterned rug I loved in a 5×7’6″ size on top. This solution ended up working so well and I think it helps give the room a casual and cozy feel.

I am so so happy with how this room turned out! It is the room I was most excited about when we first moved in and it is now without question my favorite room in the house.

And it wouldn’t be a reveal without a few final before-and-afters, right?

I had so much fun participating in the Fall One Room Challenge! You can check out all the other fun projects that happened here.

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And if you missed any of my previous posts on this challenge, you can check them out here:

Week One: The Office Plans

Week Two: The DIY Built-ins!

Week Three: Halfway Point Progress

Week Four: All About Shiplap

Week Five: Cabinet Doors Installed

Sources

Note: Some of these product links are to Amazon. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you purchase something through the Amazon link I provided, I may earn a small commission. None of my recommendations or decisions are based on any commission I might receive from your purchases, they are all things I actually bought for this renovation. The decision to buy something is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy one through the link I provide is completely up to you. Thank you!

Paint Color: Treron by Farrow and Ball (colormatched at Lowe’s) in Eggshell finish (walls + ceiling) and Satin finish (trim + built-ins).

Window Color: Tricorn Black by Sherwin Williams in Satin

Base Cabinets: Ikea

Door and Drawer Fronts: Semihandmade DIY Shaker

Sputnik Chandelier

Chandelier Lightbulbs

Shiplap

Baseboards

Crown Molding

Curtain Rod (keep in mind, we changed out the side window rods with a longer telescoping curtain rod!)

Curtains

Pleating Hooks

Curtain Rings

Olive Tree

5’x7’6″ Patterned Rug

6’x9′ Jute Rug

Desk

Desk Chair is old – this one is similar

Black and White Butterfly Print

Letterfolk Board

Stackable Black Paper Trays

White Storage Box

Almost everything else in the room is thrifted, heirloom, or bought a long time ago.

One Room Challenge Week Five: Cabinet Doors are on!

It’s the second-to-last week of the One Room Challenge and now that all the shiplap is finished, things have really picked up!

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One thing that got checked off the list this past week was the completion of the window trim. We had trimmed out each window with a 1×4 and Justin then ripped a board into 1/2 inch strips and nailed it around the edges. This helped hide any gaps left in between the shiplap and the 1×4 and gave everything a nice, finished look.

Other than that, the biggest change that has happened this week has been the addition of our cabinet doors!

When we first started planning out the built-ins, we contemplated DIYing cabinet doors. I’m so glad that we ultimately decided to outsource that project because these Semihandmade door and drawer fronts are perfect and were a breeze to paint and install!

Semihandmade is a company that makes different styles of door and drawer fronts that are fit to the same specifications as an Ikea cabinet door. This means you can purchase the Ikea base cabinet, which is a very inexpensive, and then add different doors to create a more custom look. I’m really impressed with how it elevates the look of the cabinets without breaking the bank!

You can order doors in various colors but I went for the unpainted DIY version so I could paint them the exact same color as the rest of the built-in: Treron by Farrow and Ball that I color-matched at Lowe’s. Before painting, I did rub a fresh tack cloth over the fronts and backs of all the doors, because they shipped from the factory covered in a fine layer of sawdust.

I placed each door face down on top of paint cans (so they would be elevated off the ground) and started painting all the backs. I highly, highly recommend painting the backs first so that when you flip them to paint the other side, the back is the painted side that touches the paint cans – if one side is going to get nicked or scratched or stuck after painting, you definitely want it to be the side that rarely gets seen!

(Apologies for the quality and angles of these pictures – I didn’t take photos of this process so these are just screen grabs from the timelapse videos I posted on Instagram).

I used a paint + primer so I did not do a separate layer of primer. I used an angled brush to trim out the edges of each inset . . .

. . . and then I used this six inch foam roller on the rest of the doors to create a really smooth finish.

I painted all the backs of the doors, waited about 3 hours, and then painted a second coat. I let them dry overnight and then flipped them over to paint the fronts. I did the exact same process of two coats, this time also rolling the door sides, and let them dry again overnight. The next morning (probably about 18 hours later), we attached them to the cabinets using the hardware we bought from Ikea. They were very simple to install!

Yesterday, I spent time in the afternoon playing around with arranging the shelves. I’m definitely not done with them, but it was fun to get started with different placements. As you can see, we still need to finish assembling the drawers in the middle, but so far, I’m really pleased with the look!

Other things we need to accomplish this week:

-add the final trim pieces around the door frame

-add thin piece of trim between cabinets and the wall

-paint + install crown molding

-paint + install baseboards

-install cabinet hardware

-paint countertop (while I like the natural wood look, up close it looks silly because we had to use two boards to achieve the length and it’s just too obvious to leave natural)

-paint outlet covers and duct vent to match wall color

-paint the inside of the window frames

-install curtain rod + hang curtains

-move in the rugs, desk, chair, and finishing touches!

Can we get all this done in one week? We’ll see! In the meantime, you can check out all the other guest participants in the One Room Challenge here.

One Room Challenge Week Two: Our DIY Built-ins!

Another week has come and gone in the Fall 2020 One Room Challenge and buckle up because today is a doozy of a post: it’s all about our DIY built-ins!

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I went back and forth several times with whether to have the desk as a standalone piece of furniture or incorporate it into the built-ins. After mapping out both options with painters tape and placeholder furniture, I decided to go with a full wall of built-ins and a standalone desk to maximize storage.

We started out with base cabinets from Ikea. We went to their kitchen center and one of their employees drew out our plans using software. The software made it so easy to visualize and it was nice to play around with a few different combinations! We settled on four 30″ cabinets with doors and one 15″ cabinet with four drawers to go in the center.

The first step when we got home was ripping out all the beadboard (demo is so satisfying!) and trim. We were not concerned about the residual glue on the wall because we knew it would all be covered up eventually.

I assembled all the cabinets and arranged them in order. My grandpa also came over one day and helped us by moving the electrical outlet in the center of the back wall up a few feet so it would be accessible above the cabinets. Justin attached the cabinet legs and adjusted everything to the correct height. Our purchase from Ikea included a metal railing to attach to the wall and then hook the cabinets directly onto for extra stability. Justin put a lot of work into all those details to make sure the cabinets were level and sturdy!

He also used a jigsaw to cut out a hole in the far left cabinet so that it would be accessible to hook up our printer. Other than the outlet that my grandfather moved, this was the only outlet behind the cabinets so I’m thankful we can still use it!

Once everything was fastened in place, we attached vertical paneling along the walls around the cabinets (today’s post is long enough – I’ll cover this step in more detail in a future post!) and were ready to tackle our biggest DIY yet – the bookshelves!

Our first step was installing a countertop. Butcherblock would have been an easy choice, but it would have also been an expensive choice so we decided to use this edge-glued pine panel instead (making the countertops less than $70 instead of over $300). The option Lowe’s had in store was not quite deep enough, so Justin measured the extra depth we needed and cut a long thin board to match that size exactly. We screwed that board into place against the wall using the metal rails on the Ikea cabinet underneath.

We then used a kreg jig to create screw holes in the bottom of the large panel so we could screw the panel to the long, thin board, creating a deeper counter. We also used screws to attach the front of the panel to the Ikea cabinets, again using the cabinet’s metal rails.

After all this work, we discovered Menard’s had a similar panel that would have been deep enough and saved us all the extra trouble creating and attaching the back piece. Live and learn: always shop around!

The countertop was nearly twelve feet long and there was no way to finagle two six foot pieces so the seam would be hidden underneath a bookshelf support, so Justin used a circular saw to cut two panels to length to meet in the middle.

We used a flat bracket underneath to create stability at the seam between panels. This picture below gives you a good idea of how everything was connected: metal railings to attach counters to cabinets, kreg jig screws to attach the panel to the extra back board, and a flat bracket to attach the two panels to one another.

Since there’s going to be quite a bit of weight on the bookshelves, we also created extra support by screwing metal L brackets to the cabinets and counters.

Once the top was f.i.n.a.l.l.y. in place and as sturdy as possible, we sanded it down so the back board was as flush with the rest of the panel as possible. Then we started on the vertical supports. Justin took 1 x 12 boards and cut them to length, then we used the kreg jig to create three screw holes in the sides. We measured the placement of these holes strategically so that they would be hidden underneath the eventual shelves.

After triple checking that each board was square to the wall and as level as possible, we screwed the boards directly into the wall.

This step involved LOTS of precision and measuring, because we want each vertical support to line up with the line of the cabinet doors (which are ordered and hopefully shipping soon!)

It was finally time for the shelves! We measured and marked (and triple checked) where each shelf was going to go. Justin used scrap oak boards from our garage to cut down thin support pieces. We used premium interior wood screws to attach these pieces to the side boards and back wall where each shelf was going to go. This step was tedious because we had to make sure each and every board was level and in the correct spot so our shelves would all eventually look symmetrical!

Once all the supports were in place and we had checked to make sure everything was level, Justin took 1 x 12 boards and cut them all down to the correct shelf length.

We used a nail gun to nail each shelf into the support pieces. Because the shelves were so long (the only way we could make things look symmetrical), Justin cut extra scrap support pieces and used a kreg jig to attach them to the middle of each shelf.

Next, Justin took very thin plywood and cut it to the same size as each shelf. Using a nail gun, we attached this plywood to the bottom of each shelf so all the support pieces were hidden.

We used scrap pieces of wood to tuck in between the top board and the plywood to correct any bowing so everything looked nice and level.

Then it time to trim out the shelves. Justin took 1×2 primed boards and cut everything to the correct length. He used a nail gun to attach these trim pieces to all the vertical boards first, then went through and cut all the shelf trim pieces to length and nail to the front.

I used plastic wood to fill in all the nail holes and sand them smooth so they’re ready for painting

The end result was that each shelf looks like one nice, thick board. I’m so thrilled with how they turned out!

Justin used his table saw to rip down the scrap pieces of baseboard that we tore out of the room to create thin trim pieces to hide the gap between the vertical panel and top of the wall. Now the only thing we have left to do is install crown molding across the top and the cabinet doors when they arrive (hopefully within the next week or two) and it will be time to PAINT!

I’m so so proud of all our hard work with this project. It was the largest scale DIY we’ve ever attempted and it came with a ton of meticulous measuring, working with wonky walls, and problem solving. But we did it and I love it so much!

Check back in next Thursday to see our continued progress on this room! In the meantime, you can see all other ORC participants here.

Fall 2020 One Room Challenge Week One: My Dreamy Office Plans!

I am so excited for another round of the One Room Challenge!

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After tackling our basement kitchen renovation in the spring challenge, I was inspired to choose another space to renovate for the fall challenge. If you’ve been following me on Instagram lately, you know I’ve chosen to renovate our home office and make it the dreamy office + library of my dreams.

Here’s where we started at the beginning of this challenge:

One Room Challenge Home Office Renovation

When we first moved in, this was one of the rooms I was most excited about. From the first moment I saw it, I knew that this could be a special room. First of all, I think the French doors (which aren’t really pictured but you can see a bit of them in the first image) set the stage for a dramatic space. My heart was immediately invested in the idea of built-in storage along the far wall and I could picture this being a warm and cozy space to work on a computer or relax and curl up with a good book. Unfortunately, this room was not high on our priority list so for the first year (yes, year!) of living here it looked more or less like this:

I joked that this was our “Room of Requirement” (Harry Potter anyone?) because it had all the unpacked boxes from our move. All the extra stuff that we didn’t need yet was stored here and whenever I needed to find something random, this was usually where I found it. It was a hot mess of a room and didn’t get fully unpacked until July (14 months after moving in). Throughout that time it rarely ever got used as an office – I would typically just work in the less-cluttered kitchen – but it did sometimes double up as an overflow guest room. The picture below shows how last fall, my in-laws stayed in here because our guest room was mid-renovation AND a couch from our living room had to get moved in as well because of our Christmas tree in the living room. All our boxes were shoved either behind the couch or under the desk on the left side of the room. Suffice to say, this room has been a workhorse for us.

Now that we’ve tackled a few of the more pressing needs in our house, it felt like the right time to address this room and I can barely contain my excitement! My goal to create storage with the built-in cabinets + bookcases while still allowing plenty of room for a desk and office chair. I’m also hoping to create a cozy reading space tucked in the bay window area.

The Plans

This is the largest-scale DIY room renovation that Justin and I have ever tackled on our own. Justin was admittedly nervous that my plans would be too difficult to actually implement ourselves (in all fairness, I do tend to make things sound like they’ll be easier to do than they actually are haha) but so far we’re cautiously optimistic about completing this project! Our to-do list includes:

-remove all existing beadboard

-DIY built-in storage along the back wall with closed cabinets on the bottom and open bookshelves on top

-install vertical planks from floor to ceiling on all walls (and hopefully the ceiling too!)

-replace window and door trim

-replace baseboards

-add crown molding

-PAINT!

-replace light fixture (that fluorescent one has got to GO)

-finishing touches: curtains, cozy seating, all the fun stuff!

We’ve already ripped out all the beadboard and the built-ins are underway! If you follow me on Instagram (@simplifythechaos) you can see all the progress there. We just finished all the trimming out and plan to fill all the nail holes this week. I’ll share all the details on the DIY built-ins next Thursday! For now I’ll leave you with this little sneak peek:

I’m SO excited to transform this space into the office + library of my dreams. Check back here on Thursdays to watch the progress unfold! 🙂 In the meantime, you can check out all the other ORC participants and their chosen rooms here.

Going for BOLD in the Kids’ Bathroom

The kids’ bathroom got a little makeover recently and I am loving its new bold, fun look!

A Moody Bathroom Renovation

When we first moved in, there were glass shower doors on the tub, which we quickly removed and replaced with a shower curtain so we’d have an easier time bathing the kids. Other than that very small update, we hadn’t put any time and attention into this space since we moved in. Here’s what it looked like before:

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This project came on a whim. When I did my $0 bathroom makeover, I shopped my house and took the mirror from the kids’ bathroom. My intention was to just swap in another mirror, but when I took the original one down, I discovered a huge hole behind it! The new mirror I planned to put up was not the right size and shape to cover it so I asked Justin to just patch the hole and we’d just live with the patch job for a while.

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Justin came in with patching plaster and started to look around at all the walls in the bathroom. He commented they were all in rough shape – lots and lots of nicks, dings, holes, etc. His parents were visiting so we decided he should just patch all the walls and we’d quick paint the room since we had help with the kids. Well, one thing led to another and before we knew it, we decided to just update the entire room!

The kids’ bathroom is windowless and small, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out a bold paint color. We already had the botanical shower curtain from years ago so I used that as a starting point for finding the right color. I chose Sherwin Williams Cordial in Eggshell and painted the walls, ceilings, trim, and door. Justin was pretty skeptical about my painting the ceiling but it was a fun step away from convention and I love how it turned out! The color is moody and deep and just so dreamy.

A Moody Bathroom for Kids

The previous owners had left the black over-the-toilet storage shelf. While we’ve appreciated having the extra storage since the vanity is only 20 inches, the shelf was not very stable and could easily be knocked over by one of our kids. We decided to remove it and come up with a different storage solution.

Remember way back when we remodeled our guest bathroom? There was a half wall with a long board on top that we had to replace when we added trim to the wall. The original board has been in our garage ever since and we decided to use it here to make a couple new shelves. Justin planed the board down to size, sanded off all the previous stain, and put a few layers of clear polyurethane on top to seal it. We got these brackets and attached the boards to them and voila – two gorgeous shelves!

Kids Bathroom-11

I love that they are simple and modern and the light wood contrasts nicely with the dark paint color. I wanted the shelves to be both beautiful and functional so I shopped my home for picture frames and decor and found a few pretty storage solutions for keeping the practical items we reach for often.

We also swapped out the light fixture for this modern brass sconce and it made a huge difference! The mirror was a last minute decision – I planned to use an oval mirror to break up all the lines of the sconce and shelves. Once the oval mirror was up though it just did not feel right at all. This rectangular mirror with rounded edges provided the perfect balance of lines and curves!

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There used to be a very small towel bar to the right of the shower, but it felt much more practical to install a few hooks to hang multiple towels instead of just one. I chose three gold bath hooks – both because three felt right for the space and also because I’m subtly hinting to Justin that we should have another baby 😉 😉 😉

Kids Bathroom-5

LJ saw me scrolling through options for artwork above the hooks and he got really excited about this butterfly, so it felt like the perfect print to choose. I love online print shops – you buy your print, the file gets emailed to you, then you can print it off wherever you want! It allows me to have a nice variety of quality prints without spending a ton of money.

I’m so happy with how this bathroom turned out! I wanted something that felt appropriate for a children’s bathroom without screaming “I AM A CHILD’S BATHROOM” if that makes sense. Now it feels fun and unique and just right for kids while still fitting the style of the rest of our house. I love it!

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Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Cordial in Eggshell

Wall Sconce

Mirror

Black Shelf Brackets

Gold Bath Towel Hooks

Black Frame

Black and White Butterfly Print

Hand Towel

Black Wire Storage Basket

 

 

Shopping My Home

It feels like with all my little room renovations lately, I’ve been shopping my home a lot. It’s one of my favorite ways to finish off a space and today I thought it’d be fun to talk about some of the ways I’ve shopped my home over the past year.

Shopping Your Home for Decor

When I shop my home, I mean just that: instead of going to a store to buy something new, I walk around my house and look at what I already have. It’s more than rearranging; it’s intentionally trying to see the items I own in a fresh new way.

For example, when we lived at our last house, I bought a pineapple picture (for several reasons, pineapples are special to me) to go above a small cabinet in our living room. It hung here for a few years and I loved both items styled this way – you can see it in the right corner of this picture from our previous listing.

When we moved to our new house, we placed this cabinet at the top of our stairs and I just did the same thing I had always done and kept the same picture above it. It started to feel like a bit of a rut. When you get so used to seeing things, it kind of makes them disappear. This pineapple picture used to make me smile but  now I barely noticed it because it was always there. Does that make sense?

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When it came to finishing the basement kitchen, I wanted to created an sort of gallery-wall looking stacked art ledge. There was a lot of blank space to work with, and I knew I needed at least one large piece for the scale to feel right. I looked around my house and grabbed the pineapple print just to check the size and low and behold – I loved it there! Although I’ve had it for years, it feels totally fresh and new seeing it in a different spot. It works so perfectly in this space and I would have never known if I hadn’t shopped my house. Once again, it makes me happy every time I see it!

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

And speaking of the basement kitchen, when it came time to decorate, instead of buying all new things, I shopped my house for some functional decor items. One of my favorite little areas is where I now keep this wooden cutting board that Justin and I bought on our trip to Italy. I also pulled out a marble rolling pin that I got several years ago and use to make pie crust (you can stick it in the freezer so it gets really cold and helps the crust stay cool). It had just been stored in a cabinet but when I saw it while shopping my house, it felt like a great opportunity to put it on display. Both were practical things I had already and they feel extra special now.

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

Shopping your house not only works for decor but can also work for furniture. In our last house, we had a small foyer area by our stairs. I bought a narrow table to use in that space and it worked really well as a little entryway console.

When we renovated our guest room, the layout of the room provided some challenges. We could not fit a dresser but I at least wanted a small vanity area for guests to sit and get ready.  I looked into buying a narrow vanity but decided to shop my own house first and see if there was anything I could possibly use in the meantime. I saw this console table and thought…hmmm. Maybe? I took it down to the guest room and oh my gosh – it is JUST what I needed for the space! No need to buy a thing.

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I would never have thought to use an entryway console table as a vanity, but it works!

When it came to my $0 bathroom makeover, I shopped my home to find hardware AND a mirror to swap from one bathroom to another. I spray painted the mirror gold and the handles matte black and all of the sudden they feel new and lux in this space.

A $0 Bathroom Makeover
Vanity hardware from our half bathroom, mirror from our kids’ bathroom.

Another area where I’m constantly shopping my house is with artwork. A unique postcard that a friend sent me on her trip to Switzerland years ago is now on display in our guest room.

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A precious recipe written by my great-great grandmother (and namesake!) that was previously in storage is now a very meaningful piece of artwork in my basement kitchen.

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A little fox that my sister drew as a handmade card with her baby shower gift when I was pregnant with LJ is now a fun little part of our playroom’s gallery wall.

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Random scribbles that LJ drew one day became an “abstract” piece of art in Vi’s bedroom when I couldn’t find the right piece to finish her gallery wall.

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Shopping your home saves money (free decor!) and can give new life to old items, whether they’re repurposed for a totally new use, given a minor face lift to modernize, or simply brought out of storage and put on display. The next time you’re looking for a piece to go somewhere in your house, before you head to the store, try walking around your house first. Open cabinets, look through drawers, analyze existing decor in other rooms. Take a critical look at what you already have – you might just find that you already have the perfect something!

Our “New” Dining Table + Chairs!

Justin and I have always envisioned our basement as a space for guests and entertaining. We’ve been slowly addressing various areas of the basement (like our guest bedroom and bathroom, living area, kitchen, and entryway) but the space in between the living space and the kitchen has been neglected . . . until now! We’ve both been putting in work to create a dining area for food + game nights and it’s finally finished!

Budget Dining Room Transformation-3

As a refresher, up until a few weeks ago, it looked like this:

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I still cringe looking at this combination workout + collection area for things to sell/donate right in the middle of the basement. It was time for a change!

Justin actually made the table entirely out of old scrap wood that the previous owners of our home left behind when they moved out. He worked so hard on it and I’m so impressed – not only is it gorgeous and full of character but it perfectly fits our needs. I was able to give him the exact dimensions I wanted: large enough for 6-8 people to sit comfortably and linger over good food or a game night.  It’s perfect!

Budget Dining Room Transformation-5

The chairs were an absolute steal. I had been scouring websites for inexpensive dining chairs but I just couldn’t find anything under $60 per chair that fit our needs (not a barstool or folding chair) and I was not about to spend $300-400 on six chairs for a free table. I started browsing Facebook marketplace and one day I came across these chairs being sold for $2 a chair and I jumped on them! They obviously needed some TLC but I loved their size and shape and knew with a little work they could shine.

Chairs

My preference would have been to reupholster them, and we could have reupholstered the seats no problem, but the backs were attached in a more complicated way that would have been really difficult to reupholster well. So I started looking at other options and discovered a fabric and vinyl spray paint that I decided to give a try. The nice thing about $2 chairs is that it makes you willing to try a few things that you maybe wouldn’t risk on a more expensive piece.

Chairs w Painted Upholstery

The fabric and vinyl spray paint worked…okay. It took 3 light coats to cover the fabric, and while it’s not perfect, it does look a lot better. I actually think the black over the old striped and floral print makes it look like a cool Victorian-y fabric now. But the spray paint did cause the fabric to have a scratchier feel, which is not ideal. I think I will eventually get some thin black seat covers to help improve the feel of the seat (even if the fabric wasn’t scratchy, I would want to do this because there is very little cushion in the seat’s upholstery and they’re not super comfortable to sit in for a long time).

Chairs with Table

After spray painting the seats, I decided I needed to also paint the wood black. I actually really liked the look of dark upholstery and lighter stain, but I did not like it for this particular space. It just didn’t work with all the other wood tones of the table, half wall ledge, and other wood tones throughout the open concept basement. I tried out two different methods for changing the wood look: spray paint and Polyshades. Polyshades is a product I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s essentially a stain that you can apply over another stain to achieve a different look without having to sand off all the previous stain. I tested both on an inconspicuous part of the chair and found that spray paint’s coverage was much better. Polyshades would be an excellent candidate over raw wood or stained wood that isn’t glossy, but these chairs were glossy and it just didn’t look that great. I could have sanded the chairs down to remove all the gloss, but since every surface of the chairs was rounded, it just felt like a lot of work ha. I’m all about keeping things simple!

I lightly sanded each chair with a piece of sandpaper, taped off the fabric seats, and then applied black spray paint in a satin finish using repetitive light strokes. It took just about 3 full cans of spray paint to cover all six chairs.  Then all I needed to do was wait for them to dry and bring them inside!

Budget Dining Room Transformation-2

The chairs are definitely not perfect, but I think they work really well in this space and I love their look. And the total cost for this project was under $50, meaning this set of 6 chairs cost less than just one brand new chair in all the places I was looking beforehand. Win win!

Budget Dining Room Transformation-6

I finished out this little dining area by shopping my home for decor, although I did buy one new thing for it: that gorgeous arched mirror in the corner. It was another Facebook marketplace find – a brand new (still in the original packaging!) Project 62 arched black mirror for $30?? Definite score.

Overall I’m so happy with this space and how it makes the room flow from the lounge area to the dining space to the kitchen. It feels just right!

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Chairs: $2 x 6 = $12

Fabric and Vinyl Spray Paint: $18.60 (total for 3 cans)

Black Spray Paint: $19.20 (total for 3 cans)

Total cost of chair project: $49.80

Top 10 Staples for My DIY Projects

Ever since my post about our $0 bathroom makeover on Monday, I’ve been thinking about the zero dollar aspect of the project. I said again and again that I didn’t want to spend any money, and I am really proud to say I made the space shine and didn’t spend a dime. But maybe I should say, I didn’t actively spend a dime. Because when I really think about it, it’s not *truly* $0. Like, I didn’t just revamp a space using absolutely nothing. It was $0 because I didn’t actively spend money on the project – everything I used was something I already had.

I love to share my DIYs and I often share how I was able to complete them for a super low cost (like this dresser for under $50 , this special wall and surrounding area in our garage for $0, or this secret nook I revamped for $75). So many of these projects are very low cost and easy because I usually have many of the supplies on hand. And I’m not talking about just the random, junky things left in the back of the drawer from a project 8 years ago (although I don’t count those items out either haha), but quality products that I’m intentional about having in my stash.

Today I thought it would be fun to talk about the things that I find myself reaching for and using in project after project – the go-to things that I always stock up on because it’s not only more economical to use the same things for multiple projects, but it ensures I’m ready to dive in whenever the mood for a project strikes. I would venture to say that 98% of my projects involve at least one of the items listed below, and more often than not I’m using a combination of them. This is my all-star lineup!

1. Black Spray Paint

$0 Bathroom Makeover

I always always always have a can of black spray paint handy. Black is a tireless workhorse – it can make a hodgepodge of items look cohesive (like in the photo above!), it can freshen up outdated fixtures, and it can work in every space. It seems like anytime I need an inexpensive and easy update, I’m reaching for my black spray paint. I’ve used it on planters, handles, light fixtures, frames, chairs, and more! I like to have both a satin and a matte finish on hand and I’m always sure to replenish as soon as one can gets low, because I know I will use it!

2. Gold Spray Paint and/or Rub n Buff

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

Gold spray paint is another staple I always have on hand (this one is my favorite!) It gives a modern touch to dated pieces and it can add some warmth to a space. Similarly, rub n buff is a newer product to my arsenal, but I’m already obsessed and know it is here for the long haul. This little miracle worker is a great way to add some character to a piece. So far I have mostly used it on frames that I’ve thrifted, but it could work for freshening up lots of different kinds of decor.

3. Caulk

Caulk is one of those things that you don’t really notice – and that’s the point. It’s the finishing touch that makes a project look polished without actually standing out. Even if you do no other update to a space other than running fresh caulk around a sink or bathtub, it can make a big difference! I also use it to fill in gaps along trim or baseboards or do things like attach our “new” vanity sink to a cabinet. I always have a paintable white silicone caulk (and a caulk gun) on hand, but I’ve also started keeping a clear acrylic as well since this works well along sinks.

4. Electric Screwdriver

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This is my go-to tool for projects around the home. It’s perfect for taking out or installing hardware, removing cabinet doors, swapping out switch plates, etc. All the little projects that require a screw driver, this makes things super quick and easy. Justin and I are constantly reaching for it during projects! I couldn’t find our exact brand online but this one looks similar to the one we use.

5. Painter’s Tape

This obviously comes in handy to give me nice crisp lines anytime I decide to paint a wall, but I also like to use it to map out where I want a picture frame to hang or plan the size of a cabinet against the wall or a rug on the floor. It really helps me visualize a space!

6, 7, & 8. Paint Roller Covers, Brushes, and Tray Liners

Items to Always Have on Hand for DIY Projects

I buy roller covers and paint tray liners in bulk, and I try to take good care of my paint brushes so they last a long time ( I use this multi-tool for cleaning brushes and it really helps prolong the life of a brush by getting all the paint out of the bristles after a project). I re-use a lot of the same colors throughout my house, so I often already have the paint I want to use and having the other supplies on hand allows me to jump right in to a project without having to go to the store to buy a roller. Plus, I know that I will go through this items eventually and it is more economical to buy in bulk.

9. Primer

Along the same lines, I buy my favorite primer in huge 3.5 gallon buckets because it is more economical: one 3.5 gallon bucket costs about $47, wheras if I’d buy the same amount in 1 gallon quantities at a time, I’m spending about $59. It’s a lot of primer, but looking around at all the projects in my house, I know that I’ll go through it. I use primer as the first step for not only painting walls, but also cabinets and other furniture and it’s nice to be able to just start a project and have the primer ready to go.

10. Wood Filler

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This stuff comes in handy for both big and small projects. I’ve used it in everything from filling the extra holes in cabinet doors when swapping hardware from handles to knobs, to covering the holes left by a nail gun when installing wood trim and baseboards, to patching old holes in the DIY frames that Justin makes me from scrap wood. Since I am often repurposing something instead of using a brand new item, there are often dings, nicks, holes, etc to fill in and smooth out so I’m often reaching for wood filler to help me with the job.

 

What products or tools are your DIY go-tos?

A $0 Bathroom Makeover

Do you ever get a strong desire to just DO something? I sometimes get this restless energy and just feel the need to accomplish something. It can be big, it can be small, but I just want to see tangible progress and a finished product. Last week, I got that urge. I wanted to channel my restless energy into a project, which is all well and good but … I also felt strongly that I did not want to spend any money. Hmm.

I looked around my house and decided to challenge myself to do a $0 makeover to one of our bathrooms. Using only items that I already had around the house, I set out to transform this room and I have to say, even without spending a dime, I’m absolutely thrilled with the result!

$0 Bathroom Makeover

I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this endeavor, but I decided to just dive on in without giving it much thought (seriously, I decided to do this and then started a half hour later). Sometimes it helps to not overthink things and just get moving!

Here’s what the bathroom looked like last week:

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Located right off our laundry room, just a few steps from the garage, this full bathroom is handy to have if you get really dirty outside and don’t want to track dirt through the house, or if you happen to be in the middle of a pandemic and want to shower after work before interacting with your family (who would’ve thought?!). Otherwise, the only time it gets used is when we have multiple guests staying with us and we use the nearby office as a spare bedroom and this as its accompanying bathroom.

HouseTour2020-2
A few encouraging mirror notes from me and LJ back in May when Justin was using this bathroom after work. ❤

The bathroom itself may not be used much, but since we use the garage as our main entry to the house, we see this room every single day. I would love to gut the space and expand our laundry room, but we’re probably at least 10 years away from making that dream a reality. In the meantime, I wanted to freshen this dingy and sad bathroom, and so the $0 bathroom update challenge began!

The very first thing I did was take down the old medicine cabinet mirror. Since we don’t really use this bathroom, there was no need to for that storage anyways. And bonus – I then sold it on Facebook Marketplace for $15, making this my first (and likely, only) renovation to actually turn a profit!  Once that was down, I wiped down all the walls, filled all the old holes with plaster, sanded, and primed all the walls.

I keep all the leftover paint from past projects and I raided my stash to find a color for the walls. I decided to go with a two-toned look and measured up 5 feet from the floor and taped a line around the room. I used Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain on the bottom portion, trim, and baseboards (the same paint I used in our guest bathroom and secret nook) and Sherwin Williams Alabaster on the top and ceiling (the same paint I used in our basement kitchen).

Justin took leftover pine 1×3 boards we had in our barn and cut them to size and I painted them with stain from a previous project (Miniwax Provincial). We used a nail gun to attach them to the wall over the colorblock line and I love how this wood detail adds character and warmth to the room. We have a mudroom with all these unused hooks on the walls (the previous owners stored all their outdoor coats there) and I raided the stash to find three black hooks to add to the wood trim for towels. Perfect!

Laundry Bath-14

On to my favorite update: the vanity! After removing all hardware, I used deglosser leftover from painting the kitchen cabinets to prep the wood. I painted a layer of primer over top and went back to my stash to pick a cabinet color. This was a trickier process, because I had to find something that worked with the other colors already in the room. None of my initial colors felt quite right and I worried I didn’t have anything that would work, but then…waaaaaay in the back of my drawer full of paint samples, I found a small sample size of Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray that I bought last year as a contender for the walls in our Phase One master bathroom update. I can’t even believe how perfect it is for this space and it made the vanity look 1000x better.

$0 Bathroom Makeover

I originally planned to keep all the handles and just spray paint them, but then I noticed the handles in our main floor powder room…

HouseTour2020-4

Eventually, we will update this half bathroom, but until then, it can have ugly old gold and white handles. 😉 I took the half bathroom’s vanity handles and spray painted them with a black spray paint from my stash.

Laundry Bath-12

I didn’t originally plan to replace the counter and sink, but as the project was underway, I remembered that we had an extra vanity top out in storage. We bought it at a Habitat for Humanity ReStore over a year ago – we thought we could use it in our guest bathroom and it was too good a deal to pass up (new for $45!!) so we bought it, only to come home and realize it was not the correct size. It’s just been in our barn ever since. Turns out, it was the exact size needed for this vanity – feels like it was meant to be! I guess this could feel like cheating the $0 goal since it’s something new, but since we’ve had it for over a year and didn’t spend the money specifically for this project, I’m still counting it as just using something we already had. 🙂 We caulked the sink in place on the cabinet and then ran another line of clear caulk (leftover from the basement kitchen project) around the edge to seal it along the walls.

Laundry Bath-2

The “new” faucet and stopper came from the old sink we took out during the guest bathroom renovation – we had kept it in our barn and the faucet was still in really good shape so we swapped it in and it completes the look! I like that it brings in a mixed metal look and ties in all the silver from the shower area.

I kept the same light above the mirror and the toilet paper holder, but I gave them a few coats of the same black spray paint I used on the vanity handles to give everything a nice cohesive look.

The last thing I needed to find was a mirror. I was super committed to spending $0, but it was tricky to find a mirror in our house that worked in the space. We tried three different ones – one was unframed and too hard to attach with the wood trim. One was too big, one was too small. I went searching the house in search of the “Goldilocks” mirror – one that was just right. I found the perfect mirror in the kids’ bathroom upstairs!

I loved the size and style, but did not love the color. I tried updating it with Rub n Buff, but that was too shiny and looked cheap. Then I tried my favorite gold spray paint and that was just right! I used this same spray paint to give a little update to the fan light on the ceiling too.

A $0 Bathroom Makeover

I raided my house for decor to finish off the space. The gorgeous pottery bowl on the wall was a wedding present – I have loved displaying in our previous homes but I hadn’t found the right place for it in this home until now. I love how it plays off all the different colors in the room and the round shape brings some softness to all the straight lines and angles in the room. I pulled an old planter that wasn’t being used and transplanted a few leaves from the snake plant in our playroom. I pulled soap from my stash (and even the colors work perfectly!) and a towel from my basement kitchen. A few items I had previously thrifted without a specific purpose in mind were suddenly just right for this space: a decorative bowl to store spare toiletries and washcloths and some cute pottery vessels to hold cotton balls and q-tips. A glass vase I had and some branches from a bush in our yard. It always amazes me how things I’ve had for years can feel fresh and new when I put them in a different place!

Laundry Bath-8

I could not be more thrilled with how this space turned out. Not only does it make me so happy to now have a cute bathroom instead of an eyesore, but this challenge served as such a great reminder that creating a home you love doesn’t have to cost a lot of (or in this case, any!) money. Shopping my house for decor, using up leftover paint and supplies from other projects, giving old fixtures a fresh look with simple spray paint, repurposing items from other renovations instead of just junking them . . . instead of just buying something to fit my needs, taking things I already had and getting creative with them is so satisfying! It stretched me and challenged me and that makes me love this bathroom even more now.

Laundry Bath

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster (top), Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (bottom) both in Eggshell finish

Vanity Color: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

Gold Spray Paint

Black Spray Paint

 

A Quick Patio Entryway Refresh!

The entryway into our house from the patio got a little flash makeover this past week and I’m loving it!

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

After finishing our basement kitchen update, I realized that this entryway space next to it also needed a little TLC. It is essentially an extension of the kitchen (the tile from the kitchen wraps around and leads to the door) and since it leads directly out to our patio, it’s a natural storage space + drop zone for all the things that we need and use when we’re outside: everything from sunscreen and bug spray to towels and swimsuits. Visually, when standing in the middle of our basement, you would see our gorgeous new kitchen on one side and in the same line of sight, this hot mess of an entryway on the right side.

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Yikes.

Earlier in the year when I did a few easy projects for our basement refresh, the walls got a fresh coat of paint (Sherwin Williams Repose Gray) and then later when I did the kitchen update, the floor tiles got painted. Here’s what the space looked like a few months ago before any updates (I had moved the bookshelf so I had a space to photograph the finished dresser update I did for my niece’s nursery):

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We don’t have a closet or storage room near this door, so we definitely needed something to corral all of our outdoor things. When we first moved, the little bookshelf (that I built in eighth grade woodshop!) landed here, but after a year in the house, it became obvious that the bookshelf wasn’t cutting it. It wasn’t big enough to hold all of our things and it looked super chaotic with all the colors of items and mess of storage on open shelves.

I searched and searched for the perfect affordable storage solution and I fell in love with this cabinet (it’s actually a TV stand!) It is a super popular item on Target and kept selling out quickly every time it came back with limited stock, but I was finally able to snag one!

Entryway-9Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

It is shorter than the bookcase that was there before and at first I worried that it wouldn’t be big enough to actually hold everything we need it to. I’m so happy to report that it fits all we need – and we could even fit a little more in there if we needed!

Entryway-10

When it came to decor, I started with things I already had. The potted plant was given to us from my in-laws (it’s actually eventually going to be planted outside) and the candle was a previous purchase from a local company. I’ve had the metal and wood basket for several years and I rounded up a bunch of magazines to store inside so that they’re easily accessible if someone wants to grab something to read while lounging outside.

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

This sweet little rubber plant was my Mother’s Day gift from Justin and the kids this year and I love how it looks here. (I took the guessing out of things – which I highly recommend – and told Justin exactly what I wanted, including the local shop and exact link to this tree, but I made him be the one to actually purchase and pick it up so it still felt like a gift haha!)

Entryway-6

Since the cabinet was short and there was a lot of wall space, I wanted a huge statement piece of artwork above it but I did not want to shell out a ton of money. I found this digital download print on Etsy and had it printed for pickup at my local FedEx in a 24″ x 36″ size.

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

Justin actually took the casing from the old trim around the door and used it to make this frame! We got the idea from Cass Makes Home – she shared a tutorial on her Instagram a few months ago. Justin just cut each piece to length (corners cut at 45 degree angles with his miter saw), then he used epoxy and corner clamps to attach all the corners and gave it extra stability with two staples as well. I then filled all the old nail holes with wood filler, sanded it down, and spray painted it with this subtle gold color. The print is attached in a super sophisticated way – the back of it is taped to a piece of cardboard and the cardboard is then duct taped to the back of the frame. Ha! Justin attached two sawtooth hangers to the wooden frame and we hung it up. I think it turned out great for a giant piece of inexpensive art!

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And then there’s the door leading out to the patio. Justin and I updated the trim and baseboards to match the renovated kitchen (eventually we’ll run this all the way around the basement) and I felt like this was a perfect opportunity to go for something bold and fun with the door. I went for it with Sherwin Williams Brittlebush, a snappy golden yellow, and I love it! It just feels like sunshine and brings a little bit of the outdoors inside.

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Fun Fact: Yellow is actually my favorite color but I don’t use it a ton in the house because it can very quickly feel like too much. An accent door was the perfect way to pack a punch of personality (say that five times fast!) in this space and I’m obsessed. I found this little sign at Target and it felt just right – we love to host guests and we do want them to relax and stay awhile. 😊

Modern, Bright Entryway Makeover

I’m so thrilled with how this space turned out. It’s functional and beautiful and now feels like it complements the kitchen and the rest of the basement instead of being a chaotic eyesore. It was definitely worth spending a few days updating this space!

Entryway-12Entryway-7

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in Eggshell

Trim Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster in Satin

Door Color: Sherwin Williams Brittlebush in Satin

Cane Cabinet

Stay Awhile Sign

Landscape Print (digital download)

Doormat

Candle