Upgrading Our Spiral Staircase Wall with Thrifted Frames

Back in 2021 I created a little gallery wall in the corner wall above our spiral staircase. It felt like the perfect place to do something a little unique so I curated a collection of mixed metal frames showcasing casual family memories. I always had the plan to update and add to the gallery as time went on and our family grew and this week I finally made the time to do it!

I love seeing different phases of our life reflected in this wall – we’ve got special mementos mixed with black and white photos of newborns and great-grandparents and every stage of life in between! I love seeing of a baby picture of LJ near another picture of him riding his bike as a 4 year old, and glimpsing special moments like the kids meeting Ollie for the first time or Vi exploring the beach with her cousin always has me reliving those sweet memories as I walk up and down these stairs.

My favorite part of this update (aside from seeing more memories on our walls) is that every single frame I used in this update was thrifted – it gives such an eclectic, collected vibe to the wall!

It’s no secret around here that I love thrifting and finding secondhand items to use in my home. Thrifting is good for my wallet and good for the planet, plus it helps me find unique items for my home. Win, win, win!

Of all the things I enjoy hunting for, thrifted frames are up there at the top of the list. I have thrifted dozens of frames over the years and love using them throughout my home. The other day, I thrifted 22 new frames in one shopping trip – the cashier was definitely curious at checkout, ha! But 22 frames for $28 total was an absolute no-brainer in my mind. As I sifted through options at the thrift store, I was elated to find so many unique small frames. I knew they’d be perfect for this project!

I love mixing metals so I’m always on the hunt for good metal frames that I can use as is, but in many cases, the frames are the size or shape I want, but not a color that works for the space. As long as the frame is solid quality, I still buy it knowing I have some options for making it work.

Today I thought I’d share the techniques I use for upgrading thrift store frames, both for this gallery wall project and other spaces in my home. When I shop with these ideas in mind, it really opens up the amount of possibilities for frames that might otherwise get passed over in the thrift store.

Spray Paint

My tried and true option is spray paint. A couple coats can completely change the look! The key is to keep the coats light so the paint doesn’t run or bubble up – a nice smooth finish will really elevate the frame. My go-to spray paints are this black one and this gold one.

Latex Paint

Occasionally I want a colorful frame and for that I turn to latex paint. I could buy colorful spray paint, but I have so many little sample jars of paint from various projects in the past that I like to use what I already have on hand. I recently snagged a couple jars from my stash to paint two wooden frames for our playroom wall and painted them Chatroom and Homberg Gray, both Sherwin Williams. I have found that it’s easiest to stick to simple frames (no ornate designs) and use a small angled brush to paint multiple thin coats.

Rub n Buff

I’ve struggled with Rub n Buff in the past and was on the verge of giving up on it, but I recently received some advice on how to apply it better. Now that I’m getting the hang of it, I’m liking it more and more! Rub n Buff can be used on a variety of surfaces but I think it works best on wood and metal. To apply, make sure you’re wearing gloves and dab just a tiny amount onto your finger. Lightly rub it all over the surface of your object, then use a clean soft cloth and buff the surface in small circular motions.

Sand + Stain

This option is the most labor-intensive of my options, but sometimes I want a wooden frame to retain the wood look. So many wood frames in thrift stores have an orangey colored stain that feels very 90s, but if the frame is a fairly simple design, an option is to sand it down and re-stain it a desirable color. For this frame in the kids room, I sanded off the old stain and just gave it a coat of polyurethane to keep a lighter wood look. If I wanted a darker look, I could have used a dark colored stain or even a gel stain. I only recently used gel stain for the first time (on my kids’ bedroom dresser) but I was instantly a fan so I might try that out on a frame in the future.

Next time you see an, ehem, ugly frame for sale at a yard sale or secondhand store, I hope this inspires you to not just pass over it but to think if there’s a way to make it work for your space! It might just be a perfect option 🙂

Easy, Functional Lego Storage

About six weeks or so ago, Justin and I completed a DIY Lego table for our kids. It has been a big hit with our children, particularly LJ, and has already gotten a ton of use. I knew when we completed the table that I needed to also address the storage for all the excess Legos and the past six weeks have made that even more evident. I finally took some time yesterday afternoon to organize our stash and I can’t believe the huge difference it made!

We had been working with a hodgepodge of storage bins: bright blue divided bins from when Justin was a kid, random clear bins from around our house, and white narrow bins I originally bought for the Legos. I totally blanked on taking a before picture, but I took a video of my organizing process and grabbed this screenshot from the beginning to give you an idea of the chaotic storage situation.

It took me a long time to find bins that would work for my purposes. I wanted lidded, stackable bins that were somewhat cute since they will always be out and visible. Size-wise, I didn’t want them to be too tall, since we don’t want a deep pile of Legos inside, but they needed to be tall enough to fit some type of divider. I also did NOT want them to be clear, which ended up being the hardest requirement! A lot of bins fit all my other parameters but were clear; I specifically did not want clear because when the Legos are put away, I want them to be somewhat discreet. The whole purpose of the Lego table was to corral Lego creations and keep tiny pieces up off the floor, away from little ones. By having opaque bins, I figured they’d be less enticing for curious little hands. Whenever babies or toddlers are in the basement, there is always adult supervision but I figured any extra help to keep them uninterested in the Lego space is going to be beneficial.

I thought I had hit the jackpot with these cute white bins, but I didn’t factor in the inset lids and bottoms – these plastic dividers fit inside but were slightly too tall to allow the bins to stack with the inset. I kept searching and finally landed on these Ikea bins – they were a little taller than I would have liked but they fit all other requirements so I decided to go for it. I chose the Kuggis in 10.25″ x 13.75″ x 6″ size.

I wanted adjustable dividers to customize sections based on the amount of Legos in that category. These plastic dividers were perfect! The length fit perfectly inside the Ikea bin; to adjust the size to fit the width of the bin, I just bent the divider back and forth at whatever length I needed. Sometimes it broke just with bending, other times the bend helped weaken the plastic and I could cut it with a scissors easily. I also used the scissors to trim off any sharp edge of plastic to keep edges smooth and safe for the kids.

I have no grand illusions of this staying perfectly organized, so I didn’t stress out too much over categories. I just tried to divide things in a general way that would make pieces easier to find. LJ’s exact words were “Mom, this looks so much better!”

My kids can’t read yet so I kept bin labels simple. I used cardstock, markers, and a few cutouts from an old Lego instruction book to remind them what was in each bin.

LJ could tell right away what each picture meant, so mission accomplished! Justin and I did decide on two catch-all bins of all the “weird” pieces that don’t really fit any category and we divided them into a big piece bin and a small piece bin; the former teacher in me loves the chance for them to start to recognize those simple words as they play!

I’m super happy with the result of this quick organization. It was such an easy way to *ahem* . . . simplify the chaos. 😉 And honestly, even if the divided categories don’t end up lasting and all the Legos end up in piles in the bins, I’m satisfied knowing the storage bins will continue to hold up and keep things discreetly contained for years to come.

Next Up: Changes Coming to the Guest Suite!

This mid-afternoon blog post is brought to you by Daylight Savings Time, which I am blaming for being sleep-deprived this morning and not hitting “publish” like I thought I had. So Happy Monday afternoon!

The longer we have lived in this house, the more I feel like I’ve honed in on a specific vision for it. I’m so glad we didn’t do major renovations when we first moved in; living here has shown me how we actually need certain spaces to function and that has completely changed my mind on some ideas I had when we first bought the home. As I’ve spent nearly four years tackling smaller renovations room by room, I’ve cultivated spaces that feel right for our family and it’s been really gratifying to see those spaces now work together throughout the house like pieces to puzzle.

That being said, I have been feeling like some of my earliest projects don’t quite fit that puzzle very well. These renovations happened so early on that I didn’t necessarily have the “whole house vision” in mind and now that I do, I’m wanting to go back in and re-address some things. There’s one space in particular I’ve been thinking about a lot lately and feel ready to tackle: our guest suite!

When we first moved into our house, the guest suite immediately rose to the top of the project list. Technically, it couldn’t be considered a bedroom at the time because there was no window, but I immediately saw the potential. We hired a contractor to put in a window, strip the wallpaper, and demo the en suite bathroom – you can catch up on the initial renovation in previous posts (click here for the bedroom and here for the bathroom).

We initially finished the guest suite in early 2020 – just in time for a global pandemic and a very long pause on hosting guests. Ha! Eventually, I decided I wanted to add a bit of interest to the plain white walls and started a botanical wallpaper look using paint and a stencil. It was fairly labor intensive and I wasn’t sure I wanted to go all the way around the room so I paused after two walls. Along the way I also updated the bed and bedding and swapped out the nightstands for the ones from Justin and my bedroom (I still love all those changes!)

I recently had some inspiration for the guest suite that I think is going to make it make so much more sense with the rest of the house – it gave me that excited, adrenaline feeling in my gut that made me know this is the right direction to take the room! Here’s what I am going to be addressing:

1. Finishing the Faux Wallpaper. I do want to complete the wallpaper look all the way around the room and I’m going for it. I know that it will be time consuming, but I truly believe it will be worth it!

2. Paint the trim + doors + built-ins dark. Initially, I chose white walls and a light greige contrast trim because I thought it would help brighten the fairly dark room (the window is partially shaded by our back deck and with that + the angle of the house compared to the path of the sun, it never receives direct, bright sunlight). Now I have more confidence in leaning into the natural shadowiness of the bedroom and I want to go dark green on the trim. The goal is a cozy, moody retreat!

3. Finally update the ceiling light! The last remining boob light (if you know, you know) in our home has numbered days and I cannot wait to see it go.

4. Repaint the en suite bathroom. With the wallpaper going on every wall in the bedroom and the trim going dark green, I think I’ll need to change the guest bathroom color. I am currently leaning towards a pink and again, it’s giving me that adrenaline feeling of being nervous for a dramatic change but also excited because I think it’s the right call.

5. Replace the carpet. We are finally ready to get new carpet in the works throughout the whole basement. The current carpet is very worn, stained, pulling up in places, and just very much in need of being replaced. I do want to replace with another carpet because a) our basement gets very cold and carpet is such an easy way to keep it warm and cozy and b) this is a big rec space/entertaining space for kids and carpet makes more sense to me for kids to play on.

I’m starting this week on the wallpaper stencil – you can follow along on Instagram for the play-by-play!

Restoring a Thrifted Dresser (+ the finished Kids Room!)

Over the past week, I’ve been working to remove the paint from the kids’ shared dresser and restore it to a natural wood finish. It all came together yesterday and to say I’m in love is putting it mildly!



Somewhere between 7-8 years ago, Justin and I bought this vintage midcentury dresser on Facebook Marketplace for $30. It had signs of wear and tear and the easiest solution at the time was to paint it, so I chose a mid-tone blue and gave it a little upgrade. It has lived happily as a kid dresser for the past 5.5 years (even serving as a changing table when LJ was younger) and is still one of my favorite thrifted finds to date.

I recently completed the mountain mural accent wall in the kids’ shared bedroom, and when I got everything back in place, things didn’t feel quite right. It seemed like a lot of painted surfaces: painted walls, painted trim, painted door, painted dresser. It also felt really heavily blue! I knew I needed to bring in some natural elements and decided to try to strip the paint off of the dresser. I had never attempted this before but figured worst case scenario would be I could just repaint it in a different color if stripping didn’t work.

After doing a bit of research online, I bought a product called Citristrip to try. First things first, I removed the drawers and hardware and placed the drawers face up on a drop cloth (I save old bedsheets for this purpose!) I wore a double layer of latex-free gloves and assembled things in my basement where there is a big open space and plenty of circulating air – Citristrip is safe to use indoors but I still wanted lots of ventilation.

I poured it out directly onto the dresser and used an old paintbrush to roughly apply it everywhere. After some trial and error I learned that thicker is better – you want a pretty thick layer on top of the paint!

I stashed the brush in a ziploc baggie and let the Citristrip soak in, quickly learning that leaving it on longer produces better results. You don’t want it to dry out, but you do want to give it time to work. And when it works, it looks wild!

My mind was blown! I kept thinking the paint looked like really elaborate frosting and couldn’t believe how much it bubbled up. The first round, where I did a light layer and only left it on 30 minutes, left a lot of residue but the second round, where I poured it on thick and left it on 2 hours, took nearly everything off!

I used a plastic scraper to remove the paint; sometimes I needed to do a bit of extra scraping to get it all off but it did not require a lot of muscle or effort to do the vast majority!

The main frame of the dresser took an extra round of Citristrip because the paint layer was thicker, but once I got everything stripped it was time to clean off the reside. I used mineral spirits (again, you want ventilation and gloves!) and a clean cloth to wipe down the surfaces; it works best to give the mineral spirits plenty of time to fully dry before sanding.

The dresser had a very thin layer of wood veneer on almost everything (more on that in a bit) and sanded well for me. I used an orbital sander, first with 80-grit sandpaper, then 120-grit, then 220-grit to get the surfaces down to raw wood. At this point, I started to feel optimistic that this was actually going to turn out well, because things were looking so much better!

I wiped everything down with a tack cloth and then it was time for gel stain – I chose this dark walnut color.

I have never used a gel stain before but it’s super easy to apply: I painted the stain on using a brush, first going in the direction against the grain, then immediately going over it with the brush again (without adding more stain), this time with the grain.

I let it set 2-3 minutes and then wiped it off with an old pillowcase (I’m telling you, save your old bedding for projects!) Here’s a look at two drawers in the process, one with the stain wiped off and one with it still soaking:

One unusual thing I hadn’t remembered about the dresser was that the top is actually laminate. Hmmm. The paint stripped off it fine and I used 220-grit sandpaper to get the remaining residue off, but it’s hard to tell how much of the gel stain it took. The walnut color I chose pretty closely matched the original color and I was afraid of blotchiness so I did the whole top at one time; it looks great with the rest of the dresser and definitely did darken, so it at least took some of the gel stain. It worked out and I’m happy with the result!

The legs did not take the stain well, although that’s probably because I didn’t want to sand them, so I decided to pivot and use Rub n Buff. My goal was to try to match the patina of the original brass drawer pulls. I removed the legs and used just a tiny bit of product, rubbing it in with an old cloth. I was pleasantly surprised to see the legs really did look similar to the drawer pulls!

After everything had a chance to dry, I put it all back together in my kids room and WOWZA, this was exactly what the space needed!

I LOVE the richness of the warm walnut color. It is seriously stunning, and the patina on the brass hardware + faux patina on the legs brings so much character!

This is still a $30 thrifted dresser, so it’s far from perfect, but I just think she’s a showstopper now. I am so so happy with how this dresser now ties in with the other wood tones throughout and completes the room . . . even though I don’t really ever think a room is totally finished. Our needs and tastes are constantly evolving and I like to make little tweaks to our rooms here and there along the way. Plus this room will likely need an overhaul of sorts down the room when there are two teenage boys sharing it (!!!) That being said, the kids’ room feels like it’s in a really good place for their current stage of life so for now…it’s done. 🙂


Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Eider White and Nordic Bleu

Bedframes: Vintage

Dresser: Vintage

Windowpane Curtains

Blackout Blinds

Curtain Rods


Vi’s Sheet Set

LJ’s Sheet Set

Yellow Quilts

Striped Throw Blanket

Round Mirror

How We Made our DIY Lego Table

I just love a good DIY date. Last week, I shared plans and inspiration for making a Lego table for our kids and over the weekend Justin and I worked together to create our own. It was so fun to work on this together and I love how it turned out!

We decided to keep things simple with a basic table that could corral tons of Legos and provide a big workspace for creations. I also wanted it to have a top that would not only act as a lid for keeping all the Legos stored away but would create a regular table for other activities when needed. Today I’m sharing exactly what we did, including a few mistakes we made along the way, in case you’re interested in making one too.


-large piece of pine plywood for the table base (we got pre-sanded)

-large piece of oak plywood for the table top (we got pre-sanded)

-pine 1×6 (we needed two)

-oak board (we ripped down a scrap piece, similar in size to a 1×2)

-wood glue

-1 3/4″ wood screws

-wood stain (we used this one)

-black stain (we used this one)


-foam brushes, latex gloves, and fabric rags for stain application

-220-grit sandpaper

-tools used: tape measure, clamps, miter saw, drill, impact driver, circular saw, nail gun, orbital sander, table saw (only used to rip down our repurposed wood)

The first thing we did was determine the size of the table. I wanted the table to comfortably fit Lego baseplates so we chose dimensions based on how many baseplates we wanted to be in use. (Note: I made two mistakes here. I measured the baseplates quickly and said “oh, they’re 10x10s!” and went off that, when they are in fact 10 1/32″. I was close, but learned the hard way that being a tiny bit off can cause issues. Also, I did not realize that when you actually click Legos in across baseplates, it separates the plates a teeny bit. Nothing too significant, but again, enough to make a difference in measurement. Make sure to take this into account when determining size! More on these mistakes later.)

We measured and marked the desired length and width onto the pine plywood. We accounted for 1/8″ wiggle room and Justin used clamps and a long piece of scrap pine to serve as a guide to keep the cut straight. He used his circular saw to cut both sides; the saw will cause a bit of splinting on whatever side is facing up, so have the nicer side facing down! I lightly sanded the edges with a piece of 220-grit sandpaper to remove the splints.

We determined the height we wanted based on a combination of factors – we wanted it a little higher than our train table but a little lower than our play kitchen. We determined 19 1/4″ for the legs (so with the 3/4″ plywood on top, we’d be at a 20″ table height) and I used the miter saw to cut them all to size.

We installed the legs using two 1 3/4″ inch wood screws from the plywood down into each leg. We highly recommend drilling pilot holes first!

Also, make sure you’re thinking about how you’re going to be installing the table sides and place the screws going down away from where you’re going to need to screw in from the side.

To create sides, we used pine 1x6s. I started with the short ends first and measured the precise lengths of the plywood (measure each side individually in case they’re not perfectly the same). I cut the 1×6 down to size using the miter saw. We played around a bit with the placement to determine how high of a “fence” we wanted around the table. We wanted something tall enough to corral all Legos and allow for creations to remain in place once the lid was on, but something short enough for little arms to reach over and access the middle of the table easily.

We settled on a placement that created a 3 1/4″ fence around the table. Justin came up with the idea to clamp a level to use as a guide to rest the 1×6 on to make sure the wood was installed straight (we did not use the level itself to determine “levelness” since the floor might not be level, but instead measured from the plywood down on both sides to make sure placement was consistent).

We ran a bead of wood glue across the edge of the plywood and used a wood screw on each end to drill into the legs (this is where it was important before to make sure to space out the screws going down into the legs!) We also ran a wood screw into the plywood in between the two legs for extra security.

The hardest side to install was the second short side – it needed to be exactly the same placement on the table as the opposite side but wasn’t being installed flush against an existing side, so we had to measure very carefully to ensure we placed it at the correct height. Double and triple check this before installing!

We followed the same process for the long sides, making sure to line up placement with the short sides. On these sides, we used four wood screws per side – one in each leg and two spaced out in between. We also used a nail gun to attach the long side edges into the short side ends.

At this point, the base was complete! I filled the nail holes with wood putty and gave all surfaces a light sand with 220-grit sandpaper before staining. (Note: We specifically chose pre-sanded wood to give ourselves a break on sanding, but I still recommend going over everything at least once to ensure no splinters!) I chose this black stain color and gave the table two coats of coverage. I chose to leave the inside base of the table natural since it would be covered by baseplates.

For the top, we measured the dimensions of the installed table sides and cut down the oak plywood to size using the circular saw and guide again, adding on a half each each way for some wiggle room. I went ahead and stained the bottom side of the table in this stain color.

For the lip of the table, we repurposed an oak board we had removed from our guest room during that renovation. Justin planed it down to remove the old stain and ripped it into strips of 2″ width. I used a miter saw to cut the sides to length, once again starting on the short sides, and I stained the “inner” side before installing.

We installed the tabletop sides similarly to how we installed the table base sides: we ran a bead of wood glue along the plywood edge and then used a nail gun to add a few nails along the side for extra stability. We did the short sides first, long sides second. We let everything dry, I filled in the nail holes with wood filler, and then Justin used his orbital sander with 220-grit paper to smooth all the sides and edges.

I gave the top a layer of the same stain and let everything dry, then added a coat of polyurethane to the tabletop.

This *should* have been it, but remember how I warned you to make sure your Lego baseplate measurements are exact? Well…mine weren’t and we ran into this issue when installing them. We had left enough wiggle room for the baseplates to fit across the shorter side, but for the longer side, the 1/32″ addition compounded over 6 baseplates meant that despite the built in wiggle room, the last piece didn’t fit!

Our solution was to take a scrap piece of pine (it was an odd size scrap piece – I think like 1/2″ x 2 3/4″ dimensions) and create a fence inside the table. We cut the board to fit side to side in the table, traced both sides of the board, and drilled pilot holes in the exact center between those lines.

Then we held the board back in place, and used wood screws to drill up into the pilot holes from the bottom up.

This created the perfect size surface for baseplates to fit and gave us a little area for loose Legos to be kept in. It wasn’t what we planned but it was a good solution for our dilemma! We chose not to attach the baseplates directly to the tabletop so they can be swapped out for whatever the kids are making.

The Lego table was complete and let me tell you, it has been a HIT with both of my big kids!

I love the option of having the tabletop on to cover all the Legos – I’m imagining this will get used many times over the years for crafts, activities, birthday parties, and overflow seating when we entertain. We already put it to use during our Super Bowl party on Sunday and it worked perfectly as a table for kids to eat at!

I also like that we can cover up the Legos if we have younger children over for a playdate. That being said, most of the time, the table will be uncovered. When that happens, the kids can actually use the lid upside down for additional Lego creation space!

Seeing this table in use at the Super Bowl party got me to thinking . . . we might want to make some small benches to fit under the table, right? They would be perfect for sitting around the table to eat, craft, or, of course, play with Legos! I’m guilty of “if you give a mouse a cookie…” syndrome and well, that just might be another project to add to the list. 🙂

Inspiration for a DIY Lego Table

After a bit of a project hiatus, I’m ready to jump back into some DIY. First up is a time-sensitive project for my kids that is going to stretch my creative muscles a bit and be pretty FUN at the same time because it all revolves around: play time!

Our playroom has gone through many changes over the years and has evolved as our kids have grown. LJ and Vi are only 21 months apart in age, so their toys have always been pretty interchangeable and have leveled-up at roughly the same time.

As they have both grown, we have slowly added more developmentally-appropriate toys.

I never worried about Vi choking on a small piece of LJ’s toy, because it simply didn’t exist in our home. What was safe for Vi was also safe for LJ and vice-versa and we were very intentional about that.

We’re in a different stage of life now. They are 5 and 3 and each have toys with small parts and tiny pieces that are fine for them, but definitely not for Ollie. Since Ollie is (quickly!) approaching the stage of crawling and will likely also be putting things he encounters into his mouth, it’s time to adjust the playroom setup once again and move all the toys with tiny pieces out.

The most urgent thing we needed to address was the LEGOS. Oh my word, Legos have completely invaded our lives. LJ is obsessed with building little farms and houses created all these little setups around the playroom. It was adorable and chaotic and also, no longer safe around Ollie. Last week we finally moved all the Legos into the basement, but they’re currently just everywhere down there and don’t really have any central workspace or storage anymore.

We had previously been using the train table for Lego storage in the playroom and it worked really well at first – it provided a nice flat tabletop to work and Legos could be stored underneath. Plus, LJ’s growing love of Legos coincided with his fading interest in trains so it was nice to use this table for multiple phases of life. Now, the Lego collection has outgrown what can fit on and in the table (plus, I imagine that Ollie might have an interest in trains in a year or two, so I’d like the train table to be available for the train/truck/car stage if he wants) so it’s time to come up with a different solution.

I’ve been scouring Pinterest for inspiration and am starting to hone in on a vision for our Lego storage. I’m leaning towards a freestanding table to allow multiple kids to work and move around the space. I love the idea of including shelves for storage, like this Ikea hack from If Only April:

Image Source: If Only April

I also love the idea of something totally custom and built to a size that exactly fits the flat baseplates with a rim around the edge to keep tiny pieces from falling off. Maybe something like a larger version of this DIY Lego Table from Love Create Celebrate?

Image Source: Love Create Celebrate

This table will be in our basement, which is an easy way to keep things separate from Ollie in our daily life; however, the basement is still our main area for entertaining. We often have other families over and so Ollie will still occasionally be down there (not to mention other little ones) and even though that will always be supervised, I still want to make sure whatever solution we come up with has the option to tuck away all the Legos safely.

The reason this project is time-sensitive is because the Legos are already in the basement and we’re hosting a big Super Bowl party on Sunday. Yes, this Sunday. Six days from now Sunday. Can we get this finished in time? I sure hope so! I’ll be posting real-time progress this week on Instagram so if you want to see how we’re doing on this goal, you can follow along there!

Reveal: A Mountain Mural for the Kids’ Bedroom!

The first project of 2023 is complete! When my parents asked to take the big two kids for the weekend, I knew it would be the perfect opportunity to tackle a lingering project in their bedroom: the blank wall behind their dresser. I spent Saturday and Sunday afternoons working on a mountain mural and love how it turned out!

The other three walls in the room have a 2/3 colorblocked look and I’ve been wanting to make the wall behind the dresser an accent wall. I tried wallpaper but ran into some issues and lost motivation for a while. I got the idea to do a mountain mural and after seeing a few other pictures online, my inspiration was renewed! Mountains are important to both Justin and me. He grew up in a beautiful valley in Virginia surrounded by mountains, and I went to college there and fell in love with the views. I also did a study abroad in India and spent some time in the foothills of the Himalayas – it was an awe-inspiring experience I’ll never forget. Additionally, we lived in West Virginia for the first three years of our marriage and loved spending our free time hiking and exploring. Mountains signify both home and adventure to us and I want our kids to feel the same way, so it felt like the perfect choice for their bedroom.

I wanted this to be a quick, $0 project so I went through my entire stash of paint and collected colors that felt like they would go together and work with the other colors in the room. I had a general idea of what I wanted the mural to look like, but I didn’t trace or map out anything and instead decided to just freehand and see what happened.

The beauty of a no-plan plan is that mountain ridges are jagged and unique, so really anything goes. Even if I made a “mistake” it ended up looking intentional and worked! As I went I would add and take away based on what was looking right to me; in some cases, I ended up painting over part of a mountain or changing a ridgeline by cutting in other paint. I even ended up altering the top gray ridge by painting back over some of it with the white wall color.

I expected to do two coats of all the paint, but I ended up liking the swirly, more abstract look of one coat of paint on some of the ridges, so I left those alone after one coat.

I painted the light switch and outlet cover the same color as the mountain ridge behind each one. The picture below also shows the one thing I did plan out – I kept the line from the connecting walls as a start for that same blue color. It lines up on both sides as a kind of continuation of the straight line into the mountain ridge. I also used that color as the bottom paint color along the baseboard so it matched the baseboards.

This was a pretty quick, easy, and inexpensive project and I’m really happy with how it turned out. It’s not perfect, but then again, neither are real-life mountains. 😉 My kids love it!

I thought this wall would be the last project of the room but…now that I see things in place, there’s a lot of blue happening. There’s also a lot of painted surfaces, so I want to see if I can strip the paint off the dresser (a Marketplace find from 7 years ago) to see about staining it a dark wood color. Just like the mural itself – we’ll just see what happens!

For anyone wondering, here are the paint colors I used:

1 – SW Silver Strand

2 – Custom Color

3 – SW Blonde

4 – SW Nordic Bleu

5 – SW Quaint Peche

6 – BM Steep Cliff Gray

7 – SW Alpaca

8 – SW Foggy Day

9 – SW Mannered Gold

10 – SW Nordic Bleu

White wall color: SW Iconic White

My 2023 Project Goal List

Good morning and Happy New Year!

I love the new year – fresh starts and goal-setting are so inspiring to me. It’s the perfect time to set some intentions for what I want to accomplish in both my personal life and in our home. I’ve typically shared all my goals on the blog each year but this year I’m sticking to just the goals I have for our home – looking at the list, there is definitely a recurring theme of storage! It might not be the flashiest or most exciting thing to add, but I am a big believer that if you can edit your things to only what you need in your home AND store them in a way that works for your family, your home will run so much more smoothly. Now that we’ve lived in this home nearly four years, I have a clear idea of how we actually use the space and what solutions we need to put in place to make it more streamlined.

Here’s a look at the things I’m hoping to accomplish in 2023 – whether they’re storage-related or not, I’m very excited for all these upcoming projects!

Finish the Accent Wall in the Kids’ Shared Bedroom

Last year, we moved LJ and Vi into a shared room and it is sooooo close to being finished. I originally planned a wallpaper accent wall that didn’t pan out and I was stuck in an uninspired rut for a long time afterward. I have renewed energy to paint a fun mural instead, so this wall is first up on my list of projects to accomplish this year. (Step One: Take down all the Christmas decor!)

Get the Foyer Painted

This is a carryover from last year’s project list. I painted the bottom level of the foyer back in March 2021 but due to the height of the walls and configuration of the stairs, I can’t handle painting the rest myself. Honestly, I can’t believe I’ve lived with a half-painted foyer for this long but it’s reached the point where I’m so used to it that it doesn’t even register in my brain anymore. It’s WAY PAST time to wrap up this project and I’m really hoping to hire it out and have it painted by March.

Finish Up the Living Room

I started working on a Phase One upgrade of the living room in the fall but there are some lingering projects to work on. I need to paint the windows and replace the window trim, as well as figure out a new buffet/TV stand situation. We also have some sconces to install and I hope to get on our electrician’s schedule soon to get them hardwired. Progress will likely continue to be slow and steady over the first part of the year as this phase takes shape.

Replace the Basement Carpet

The majority of our basement is carpeted, and that carpet is past its prime. It’s a high-pile shag, which is hard to keep clean when dirt and sand gets tracked in from outside. It has multiple stains throughout the rooms and is pulling up in random places, creating the look of ripples. I’ve wanted to replace it pretty much since Day One of moving in and this is the year we are budgeting to finally do it! Our deadline is May, because we will need to move all the Legos and tiny toys out of the playroom and down to the basement as Ollie gets to the crawling (and putting things in his mouth!) stage. I’m very much looking forward to checking this off the list!

Finish the Guest Room Stencil

Another carryover from last year’s list, I’m determined to finally wrap up this project! Summer tends to be when we have the most guests come to stay with us so I’m making it a goal to finish by Memorial Day.

Create a Workout Room

Our basement has always been (and will always be!) multipurpose. It’s a space for our overnight guests, it’s a space for entertaining, it’s a space to hang out. We moved here in 2019, so due to the pandemic we really haven’t hosted as much as we expected to, but we’re getting to the point now where we’re entertaining more and more down here. Add in the fact that we’re moving more of the kids small toys (Legos, marbles, etc) down there and the uses of the space are shifting once again. For the past two years Justin and I have worked out in the large main space, but it’s time to move our stationary bike, mats, and free weights to their own dedicated space. We don’t have an obvious room for a home gym, but after living here for a few years and thinking through options, I’m ready to transform our basement storage room to meet this need. This storage room has been a hot haphazard mess since the day we’ve moved in – it’s like our Room of Requirement + Monica’s closet (if you know, you know!) and I cringe every time I walk in. It’s going to involve a lot of organizing and re-structuring our storage solutions, which brings me to . . .

Clean Out + Update Storage in Our Garage

Our garage is huge but doesn’t really have any great storage solutions. We’ve been working with what we’ve had for the past few years but it’s time to make it functional for how we actually use it, not how the previous owners did. We’re going to clean it out and add some DIY shelving so we can make this a really functional space for storing all the things! I never would have thought I’d be so excited to renovate a garage but here we are. 🙂

Update the Patio

We have big dreams for our outdoor space. It’s our #1 hangout in the summer and whether we’re hosting someone or just hanging out there as a family, we use it every nice day in the summer. We eventually want to expand the patio area, add a mini outdoor kitchen, and expand the deck area down by the pond. While this likely isn’t going to be the year to actually do all that, we’re going to start getting some quotes to at least start planning it out. This year I want to start with a few smaller changes to the patio by adding string lights and planter boxes to define the space and make it feel nice and cozy. We also need some (yep, here it is again!) storage solutions out there for all our grilling tools, fishing equipment, swimming floats, and sand toys.

Cheers to all that is to come in 2023!!

A {semi} DIY Dollhouse for Christmas

This weekend I checked a big item off my Christmas to-do list: a semi-DIY dollhouse for LJ and Vi to share!

Last year for Christmas, Justin and I built a play kitchen for our kids. For Vi’s second birthday, I built her a wooden clothing rack to store her dress-up clothes (still proud of myself for doing that on my own!) For a while now, I have wanted the next big toy/gift to be a dollhouse and I thought it would be another thing we would make from scratch. Alas, when I started talking about my plans to Justin, he literally begged me not to tackle an entire dollhouse.

Justin is normally pretty supportive of my wild ideas (I mean, the guy did climb up on a 12-foot scaffold to help paint our living room ceiling) but he reeled me back in on this one by having me talk through all the logistics. His point was that our time is so limited these days with three kids, plus all the other Christmas activities we wanted to do as a family, attempting a dollhouse would make for a stressful, time-crunched project that would likely be way more involved than I initially thought (as most of my projects tend to be haha). It made me realize that yes, I could make a dollhouse from scratch, but would that outweigh the time and effort that it took from me in this particular season of our life? The answer is no, it wouldn’t be worth it. I decided to pivot and find a ready-made dollhouse.

I searched for gender-neutral options and found this dollhouse from Hape. It was the perfect solution – I loved the clean, minimal design and felt like it would be a great launching pad for lots of open-ended play for my kids. I also liked that I could immediately envision some ways to put my own little spin it. Truthfully, the house would have been just fine in its original, multicolored state, but the thought of still getting a little DIY in and making it my own felt like the best of both worlds! I ordered it a few weeks ago and then over this past weekend, I unboxed it and got to work.

I dug through my paint cabinet and pulled out various cans of extra paint I’ve used over the years. I taped out all the walls on the back and gave them one coat of primer and two coats paint. The trim is wood but the walls are a very glossy particleboard – think of an Ikea cabinet – and I wasn’t sure how well they would hold paint, but it ended up working great! I kept things simple on the back of the house and painted everything SW Urbane Bronze (the color from our living room ceiling).

On the front side, I taped out the three walls with windows in them and painted them three of my favorite colors from our house: SW Blonde (from our laundry room), SW Foggy Day (from our bedroom), and Farrow & Ball Treron (from my office). For the two walls with no windows, I decided to try to apply some extra peel-and-stick wallpaper I had on hand; one was leftover from our playroom, the other was a sample I never ended up using in our house. I applied the wallpaper the same way I would to a real wall – sprayed it down, folded it in half until the paste was activated, then unfolded and pressed it into place using a damp cloth. It worked like a charm!

Once the walls were done, I turned my attention to the smaller details. I painted the balcony railing and light fixture SW Tricorn Black, the front door Urbane Bronze with a Tricorn Black knob, and the little wall by the door SW Agreeable Gray (from our main floor trim). I also painted over the baby blue and white checkered floor to create an Urbane Bronze and Shoji White (from Ollie’s nursery ceiling) diamond pattern.

It’s not as vibrant as it was before, but with patterned floors and wallpapered walls, there is still a fun, whimsical combination of color going on.

I actually really loved the original roof for the dollhouse. It had solar panels and was reversible for the seasons – so charming! Once everything else was done though, the lime green just stood out like a sore thumb and made the whole house seem off. It pained me a little, but I painted the roof with the black spray paint I always have on hand. It was the right decision and the whole house feels cohesive now.

When I finally put everything together – I squealed. It looked even better than I imagined and seeing all the parts transform slowly paled in comparison to seeing the entire thing finally assembled.

I guess it makes sense, since I basically made a mini version of my own house, but I am so thrilled with how this turned out. It only took one weekend and some supplies I already had on hand, so it was definitely cheaper and less time-consuming than a completely-from-scratch version. I know my kids are going to love playing with it!

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.