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. šŸ˜‰ 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. šŸ™‚

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.

Bringing Vintage Brass Back to Life in Three Easy Steps

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

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

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


Brasso metal polish

-newspaper (or something to protect your work surface)

-latex gloves

-two clean cloths

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Open Shelf Storage Unit

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

Scalloped Accent Wall

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

Floating Bookshelves

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

Paint Your Cabinets

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

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

Faux Marble Counters

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

Geometric Accent Wall

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

Ikea Vittsjo Shelving Unit Hack

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

Open Shelves with Brackets

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

Create a Frame for a Frameless Mirror

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

A Dramatic Ceiling for the Living Room

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

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

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

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

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

Plans to Level Up the Living Room

One of my goals for 2022 was to update the flooring throughout the house. Ever since we moved in, we’ve planned to rip up the carpet in the living room and playroom and put down a hardwood throughout the main floor. We were thinking this was the year to finally do it, but Justin and I have been talking lately about different financial goals and decided we need to switch gears and prioritize some other things at this time. So for now, the flooring stays!

I had been holding off on updating the living room until we did the flooring, but now that that is a further project, I want to at least do a phase one update to the space. First on the list: carpet cleaning! The carpet is in such bad shape with lots of stains, but since it’s here for a while longer, I want to get it looking as good as possible. We have carpet cleaners coming on Friday and then I’m going to start in on some other updates to this space!

Living Room

The living room has remained mostly untouched since we moved in 3 years ago. We plopped down furniture from our last house and have left it as is. It has been super functional for this stage in our life with young children at home, but it’s not exactly cute. In fact, this room is arguably the one we spend the most time in and yet it shows the least amount of personality (minus the child and dog, ha!)

Updating the flooring would make a huge impact here and eventually I want to get a different couch, but for now, I’m working with what we’ve got: carpet and a six-year-old sectional from Costco. I don’t want to add anything too precious because we still have several years of sticky toddler fingers and rambunctious couch jumping ahead of us, but I still think I can make the room functional AND beautiful for our family.

The two biggest things this room needs (besides flooring) are paint and lighting. I’ve gone back and forth on paint color – I really don’t want to do white but the room has such large openings and is very connected to the foyer and kitchen so continuing with white in here makes the most sense. I’m toying with the idea of a fun color on the ceiling though (and maybe planking?) so we’ll see. There is currently NO permanent lighting. The ceiling has a fan only and while we use two floor lamps, they are not sufficient for the scale of the room. I plan to have hardwired sconces above the couch and a large chandelier to match the scale of our high ceiling. These changes alone will make such a huge difference!

In addition to the carpet cleaning, I’m going to add a rug to the space to cozy it up. My throw pillows are showing a lot of wear and tear so I want to swap out the covers – I’m thinking a variety of earthy tones and subtle patterns. There is currently no artwork in the room but there are five large windows looking outside. I’m going to paint the windows black and update the window trim as I’ve been slowly doing in other rooms as we go. I feel like a gallery wall might add too much visual chaos and take away from the view so I’m planning to just hang curtains and add one large piece of artwork above the couch.

Because of the large cased openings leading into other rooms, I don’t have many different layout options and we pretty much have to have the TV on this small wall. It’s sitting on a buffet that was handed down to me from my grandparents; I painted it this bright green in our last house but it’s time for a new color. I would love to someday add a fireplace here (just a little gas insert with a pretty mantle) and mount the TV but for now I just plan to revamp what I’ve got.

Eventually I also want to exchange the smaller couch with two large comfy chairs and update the exterior door leading to the porch but I’m not sure if any of that will happen in this phase or not. I’m going to take my time finding just the right things so we’ll see when that happens. This room is not going to be a super fast turnaround but I’m excited for slow and intentional changes!


The playroom is adjacent to the living room and has been a slow and steady process that is mostly updated.

I have been holding off on painting the wooden trim until the flooring was done, but since that’ll be a while now I’m going to go ahead and paint the trim. I also want to add a fun rug and then I’ll probably consider this room good for a while.

I’m excited to get started!

Baby Boy Nursery Reveal!

We’re still waiting on baby boy’s arrival but as of yesterday, his nursery is finished and ready!

This was the first time I’ve really been able to go for it with decorating a nursery space. With my previous pregnancies, we chose to be surprised with the baby’s sex at birth so this is the first time we’ve ever known in advance. We also feel confident that this is our final baby so there’s no need to try to keep things somewhat neutral for the future. It was really fun for me to get to plan and design a nursery with a specific little boy in mind and I’m so happy with how it turned out. My goal was to create a soothing place for lots of baby snuggles, late-night feeding sessions, and (hopefully!) restful nights for our sweet boy. I wanted a blend of graphic prints and organic elements in earth tones that mimic the gorgeous woods you can see right outside his window. [And speaking of window – this room only has one window, never gets in the direct path of the sun, and is always a little moody and dim. I love it in person, but it does make it challenging to photograph well – the room isn’t quite as dark as these photos make it seem!]

Obviously, the main focus of a nursery is the crib. I’ve had the same Ikea crib for all my babies and it has served us so well. I’ve also used this little cloud mobile in all three nurseries (although not always above the crib) and I love how sweet and whimsical it is! The dinosaur sheet was a clearance find from back when LJ was still using the crib, but I never actually used it for LJ. It wasn’t exactly what I was envisioning for this nursery, but it’s hard to argue for buying new when you have a nice option on hand already and I’m satisfied with this choice.

I decided to forgo one large print above the crib and instead create a gallery wall, specifically choosing to center it on the wall instead of over the crib. I wanted a collected look so I pulled together some digital download prints, a maternity photo, the baby’s sonogram, and a simple dried fern in a variety of frames, some new and some thrifted.

The chair we had in here previously was a handmedown La-z-boy from Justin’s grandma with a slipcover over it. It is comfortable and worked just fine, but when I spotted this dark mustard colored recliner with a grid pattern in a local thrift store, I just couldn’t resist! I knew it would be perfect in this room and I was right. The only downfall is that it doesn’t rock, but we are currently brainstorming solutions for finding a way to make it rock.

I asked Justin to create a few little book ledges for baby’s book collection and he made three for me following the same process as the ones we made in our secret nook. They turned out great and all of baby’s books fit!

I kept the same dresser from Vi’s nursery, but decided to re-paint it in Sherwin Williams Iron Ore and swap out the gold drawer pulls for matte black ones. I did a little mirror switcheroo and moved the round gold one that used to hang here into the kids’ room and brought in the black oval one from the kids’ room.

I had the giraffe-patterned changing pad cover from LJ’s nursery and I think its colors and whimsical pattern translated well to this nursery. A little basket full of diapers, wipes, and ointments and we have ourselves a changing station!

I enjoyed spending time on some of the little details throughout the room as well – repainting the little side table we thrifted a decade ago, hanging plaid blackout curtains high and wide, finding vintage brass wall planters on Etsy for a unique touch, filling a basket full of soft baby blankets. Throughout this room renovation, we’ve painted the window and updated trim, replaced the thin baseboards with a chunkier version, upgraded the old worn carpet with this soft greige, and installed a new matte black ceiling fan. I painted the doors and Justin re-installed them with new matte black hinges and handles. I painted the ceiling Sherwin Williams Shoji White and painted wooden outlet covers – it’s the little things that really finish off a room!

Now the only thing we need is one sweet baby boy to enjoy this room!


Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Evergreen Fog in Eggshell

Ceiling Color: Sherwin Williams Shoji White in Flat

Crib – no longer sold (similar here)

Crib Sheet

Cloud Mobile

Curtain Rod

Plaid Blackout Curtains

Faux String of Pearls

Diaper Pail

Changing Pad

Sound Machine

Black Oval Mirror

Ceiling Fan

Prints: Rainbow, Black and White Rabbits, Oak Tree

Gold Frame with Mat

Black Frame with Mat


Door Hinges

Door Handles

Everything else is either vintage, thrifted, old, or was a DIY project!

How we made a DIY Umbrella Stand (with built-in storage!)

When we first looked at this house as potential buyers, we weren’t quite sure what to think of the pond. We never specifically looked for a property with water and had no experience with maintaining a pond; however, one step out onto the patio looking out onto the water and we were hooked. We knew this could be a very special place for our family and now three years later, we absolutely love it and are out there all the time. The previous owners created a small beach area along the edge of the water and installed a little wooden deck beside it. This has become my favorite spot to lounge and read a book while watching the kids play in the sand and swim. The one thing it was missing was an option for shade and this year I decided it was high time to come up with a solution – and we did!

We looked at weighted umbrella stands, but most options would’ve cost around $500 and we weren’t even confident what we chose wouldn’t tip over since the deck is not near anything to block a strong wind. Instead, we came up with a DIY version that not only looks much cuter (in my humble opinion haha) but is sturdier and MUCH less expensive. Granted, we used a lot of scrap wood and supplies we already had, but this version cost us right around $200. Today I’m sharing all the details with how we did it step-by-step. Here we go!


Umbrella Stand

16″ x 16″ outdoor planter

-umbrella – I used this one

-4×4 wood for filler (optional)


concrete mix + water

-5 gallon bucket

-large stirring stick (we used an old broom handle)


-large piece of cardboard (we used the box the planter came in)

-box cutter


-3/4 inch plywood

-1 x 1/2 inch slats of wood (I used pine)

-black spray paint

-wood stain

-wood glue

-nail gun + 1 inch nails

spar urethane spray paint

-other tools used: table saw, miter saw, jigsaw

Umbrella Stand Directions

I wanted something that felt streamlined and modern so I bought this planter off of Amazon for the base of the stand. Justin took an old wooden 4×4 post we had in our scrap wood pile and cut it down to create a filler border around the inside edge. This is not a necessary step, but he did it to reduce the amount of concrete used and the overall weight of the finished product.

We plugged the hole at the bottom with the plastic gasket that came with the planter and moved the whole thing around outside until we found level ground.

Justin poured the concrete mix into a bucket and added water according to the directions, using an old broom handle to stir the mix.

Once the concrete mix had reached the desired consistency, he poured it into the planter and used a small spade to smooth the top flat.

Justin ended up using about 1 1/3 bags of concrete. I think one bag would have been sufficient if your umbrella is going to be near a house or other structure that would help to block wind, but since ours is out on a deck with no windbreak around it, we wanted a little extra stability.

Then it was time for the most meticulous part – getting the umbrella stand perfectly in place. This can be done solo but was easier with two people, as one of us used a tape measure from side to side in each direction to find the exact center while the other carefully set the pole in place, then we used the level to make sure it wasn’t crooked. We also stepped back and visually confirmed with one another from all angles that the pole looked straight up and down. We really took our time with this step and it was well worth it!

Once we were fully satisfied that the pole was not crooked, I took a piece of cardboard from the box the planter arrived in and used a box cutter to cut an “x” in the center. I slid the hole made by the x down over the pole and it created a kind of holder to keep the pole from moving in the wind. We weighted it down with some scrap wood and shovels and left it to dry and set for about 36 hours.

Our original plan was to stop here and fill the top half of the planter with soil and flowers, which I think would’ve been lovely! But before we could do it, we actually used the umbrella over the weekend when friends came to visit and we quickly realized that the base made an awesome catch-all spot for sunscreen, books, phones, etc. I was immediately inspired and came up with a vision for a removable tabletop that allowed us to access the storage underneath.

Tabletop Directions

Once I explained my vision to Justin, he was excited to jump right in. He used his table saw and miter saw to cut down a piece of 3/4 inch plywood to size (in two pieces) to fit inside the planter.

He then used a jigsaw to cut a small notch on the edge of each piece of plywood for the umbrella pole to fit through.

Tip: Justin spent a lot of time on these first two steps measuring and re-measuring to make sure the pieces would fit as flush to the inside edges of the planter as possible. We’re not including dimensions, because every planter and umbrella will be slightly different and it’s important to measure your own to make sure it fits well!

Once the pieces were cut to size I spray painted each one black.

I wanted slats for the tabletop, but rather than buy new wood, we had leftover pine 1×5’s from the DIY clothing rack I made last year and Justin took one and ripped it down into one inch wide strips. He cut them to length so that they would hang over the edge of the plywood by a half inch and I tested a few stains from my stash before landing on Varathane’s Golden Oak.

Justin applied a small bead of wood glue to the back of each piece, then used a nail gun and one inch nails to secure each slat in place (he used a thin piece of scrap plywood in between each one to evenly space them out). This is one step where I didn’t communicate my vision with Justin well and I wish we would’ve spaced the nail holes differently, but honestly, it’s fine and doesn’t bother me too much!

He used the jigsaw again to cut a notch in the top slats that matched the one in the plywood underneath and I stained that little notch as well.

Since this is going to be outside, I sprayed several light coats of clear spar urethane over everything to give it a good protective coat. We let it dry overnight and then we installed it in the planter.

I am in LOVE with how this turned out – it honestly looks like it was always meant to be this way! I love that Justin took the extra time to make sure the slats were cut and spaced in a way that created an equal amount of space around the edge all the way around. It looks so good!

The top lifts off easily to provide plenty of storage underneath – it’s so nice to have a shaded place to store things out of the way!

Here’s a close-up of how the top looks in place. The plywood goes all the way to the edge inside and the slats keep it in place with a half inch overhang.

I have to give a huge shoutout to Justin here. This umbrella stand was my vision, as was the design of the tabletop, and he worked to execute my vision perfectly! I am so thrilled with how it turned out.

Ultimately, there is still a lot of work to do here. The deck actually needs completely replaced (boards are warping and breaking off) and we have plans to expand it to accommodate more people. For now though, this is such a nice little spot to hang out and enjoy and I’m thrilled that we now have the option for shade. In fact, it’s calling to my eight-month-pregnant self and I think I’ll spend some time out there today!