DIY Painted Kitchen Cabinets

We’re currently in the process of giving our kitchen a budget-friendly facelift. While we’re still working on a few more projects for the space, we’ve finished one step that has already made a huge difference: painting the kitchen cabinets!

New cabinets were not an option, and the floor and countertops are also staying. With so many things staying, painting the cabinets was an easy and cost-effective way to still make a major impact! Today I’m sharing the process I used for this transformation – it took me about three days of actively working on it (while my parents watched our kids) to get the whole kitchen finished so it’s a good project to tackle over a long weekend.

Materials

deglosser

-lint-free cloth

primer

-paint

-foam roller

-angled brush

-painters tape

The first step was to remove all the cabinet doors. We have a little electric screwdriver that makes quick work of this step, but a regular screwdriver would work too.

Ideally, we would have removed the drawer fronts as well; however, when I started trying to unscrew one, I realized that the previous owners had used screws and a nail gun to attach the fronts. I have no idea why they did both, but we would have had to pry all the fronts off – a laborious process that possibly would’ve caused some damage to the drawers. We chose to leave them attached to the drawers and just painted the fronts and sides and left the backs as is since they’re rarely visible. Assuming your drawer fronts aren’t nailed on, I would absolutely recommend removing them as well and following the same process as with the door fronts.

After unscrewing the door from the cabinet, I removed all hardware (hinges and knob). While wearing a latex glove, I poured some liquid deglosser onto a clean cloth and rubbed it all over the surface of the front and back of the doors. This process is a substitute for sanding and prepares the previously stained wood so that paint will adhere better to it. It saves so much time compared to sanding!

Once the deglosser is dry, the doors were ready to be primed. I buy Kilz 2 primer in bulk because I use it so often and it worked well for this project. I recommend starting with the back of the cabinet doors so that once you flip them over, the front will be finished last. The painted wood has the potential to get a nick or scuff when it’s flipped over and I much prefer that if that happens, it happens to the back side

After the primer has dried, it’s time to paint! After a lot of deliberation, I landed on Sherwin Williams Link Gray – a nice warm grayish-green that coordinates well with all the brown and gold tones in our kitchen countertop. I recommend getting a higher-quality paint for the cabinets because they’ll get a lot of use. I chose the HGTV Showcase line from Lowe’s (in a satin finish). There are brands out there that specifically have paint for cabinets but I used this brand when I painted our basement kitchen cabinets last year and they still look perfect!

I used an angled brush to paint the inset edge first . . .

. . . then I used a six inch foam roller to cover the rest of the door.

This paint boasts “one coat coverage” and that may be true for walls, but I found that the first coat didn’t quite get everything and a second coat was needed. That being said, I chose not to do a second coat on the backs of the doors since the coverage was really pretty good and the backs aren’t often visible. This allowed me to also do the entire kitchen with just one gallon of paint!

I waited about four hours and then flipped the doors over to repeat the same process of primer + paint on the fronts. Again, I used a brush to paint the inset first and then used the foam roller for everything else.

When painting the fronts, I like to set them on top of paint cans or other small items where they can be lifted off the ground so I can roll the edges as well.

After letting the fronts dry for at least two hours, I applied a second coat.

For painting the cabinet boxes, I followed the same process of deglosser + primer + two coats of paint. I used painter’s tape to protect the floors and underside of the countertop. Personally, I like a smoother finish on cabinets so I used the foam roller for as many surfaces as I could and saved the brush for edges and corners that the roller couldn’t reach.

I recommend letting the cabinets and fronts cure for at least 24 hours before reattaching the fronts. I have two little kids around and couldn’t leave my fronts off that long, so I reattached them sooner but after the kids went to bed, I opened up all the doors and drawers so they could continue to cure without touching (if the paint isn’t fully cured and a door front rests on the cabinet, it could lead to the paint sticking).

I wish I had a better “before” picture of this angle, but all I have is this crummy screenshot so it will have to do.

And now here’s that same stretch of cabinets:

I honestly can’t believe what a big difference paint made. Same floors, same knobs, same countertop, same backsplash (for now), yet the kitchen looks completely different! And since I could do the whole cabinet with one gallon of paint, this transformation cost me around $50. Well worth it!

I wish I had more “after” pictures to show you, but we’re already well underway with the next step of updating all the backsplash. So stay tuned for more of this kitchen transformation soon!

A Round-Up of Our Recent Projects

Since finishing up the dining room renovation, we haven’t had a big project going on in our house. It’s been refreshing to not have paint cans and tools cluttering up my countertops or an in-progress room that I spend my days trying to keep kids out of. While we’ve been in-between big projects in our home, we’ve been working on helping my friend Amber create a cookie decorating space in her home, as well as tackling several smaller projects that have been on our to-do list for a while.

Big, huge room renovations are fun, but the little details that make up a home can have huge impact. Today I thought I’d share the four projects we completed over the past few weeks – they were all easy to do, relatively inexpensive, and took anywhere from a couple hours to a couple days to finish. They may be smaller scale projects, but they went a long way in upgrading a few spaces in our home!

Paint the Front Door

The previous owners had painted the front door the same color as the wall. This was never my favorite design choice to begin with, but once we painted the walls, the door definitely stuck out like a sore thumb! Justin and I plan to eventually replace this with a double door, but for now I just gave it a couple coats of Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black. A small and simple change that made a big difference!

Upgrade our Dog Bowls

We had the same dog bowl setup for years and to say it left something to be desired is an understatement. I bought the mat way back when we only had Macie, so it was only big enough to place one water bowl and one food dish on top. I’m honestly not sure why we never upgraded the mat to a bigger size once Scout joined our family! Scout did have a matching ceramic food bowl but it broke and we replaced it with a metal one, and LJ dropped a heavy toy on the water bowl and took a big chip out of the rim. Suffice to say, the whole thing was a hot mess. Using this $159 raised dog bowl as inspiration, Justin used scrap wood and simple stainless steel pet bowls to create a new setup. I love how clean and streamlined it looks!

Create Gallery Walls

Once the main floor walls were freshly painted, there were a few areas that really needed some personality. Using a mix of frames I’ve collected from various thrift stores, I created two gallery walls: one in between our kitchen and living room and one on the two walls next to our spiral staircase. You can read more about the process for how I curated each wall in this blog post.

Update Playroom Window Trim

The playroom (formerly a dining room) was the first room we updated after moving in to this house. At that time, I wasn’t sure what my plan was going to be for the trim in the house, so we left the baseboards and window casing alone. I haven’t loved the wood trim look so I was excited to finally update the window trim here! Justin followed the same process he used when updating the office and dining room window trim, and I painted the windows Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black and the trim Benjamin Moore Greyhound (the same color as the walls). I love the new look!

I’m still debating on whether or not to paint the baseboards as well. We plan to replace the baseboards, but we also plan to update the carpet once we’re out of the toddler stage (they’re too messy right now to justify new flooring, ha!) So should I wait to replace the baseboards and just paint them for now? Or should I go ahead and replace them? I can’t decide!

Now that these little projects are wrapped up, I’m very excited for what’s coming up next! We have a small project we’re doing for someone else this weekend, and we also have plans to finally show some love to a *very* neglected room. I can’t wait to share more soon!

Easy, Collected Gallery Walls

I’ve been working on some smaller projects around the house lately, one of which was finally getting some art up on the main floor walls. Once everything had a fresh coat of paint (Sherwin Williams Alabaster), it was time to add some personality back in! There were two areas that I wanted to include artwork in the form of gallery walls. One was a wall in between the living room and kitchen, and the other was actually two walls that frame our spiral staircase into the basement.

Sometimes when I group frames together, I want them to be the same size, color, or material; however, for both of these spaces I wanted a more collected look since I would be using a mixture of new and old photos. I picked up large frames, small frames, frames in non-standard sizes, gold frames, silver frames, wooden frames – anything that was in good condition and a size and shape I liked. I chose to thrift instead of buy new because it would not only give me more of the unique, collected look I was going for, but also cost a fraction of the price of new frames. Most of the frames I bought fell somewhere between 50 cents to three dollars a piece. Here’s one thrift store haul where I got all these frames for $16 total.

To give you context, the one single frame I had to buy brand new (for the unusually sized caricature picture) was $25! Thrifting is the way to go!

Once I had collected around 30 frames, I laid them all out on my dining room table to get a feel for how everything looked together. This also gave me a good idea of which ones I wanted to change the color of, either because the metal was rusting and dingy, or on the opposite end, was really shiny and cheap-looking, or because the frame was wooden and didn’t fit the vibe I was going for. (Check out the frame that came complete with a hand-drawn cow, haha!)

Some frames got a couple light coats of spray paint (either this black one or this gold one). Tip: I like to save used paint trays from previous projects because they make perfect little backdrops for spray painting small items!

I also used Rub n Buff in antique gold to update a few frames. For these, I placed the frame on a cardboard cereal box I pulled from my recycling bin to protect the counter. Then I squeezed a small mount of rub n buff onto a cheap makeup brush (I got one for like $2 at Target) and dabbed it onto the frame, buffing softly over and over until I achieved the look I wanted. In the picture below, the left and bottom side of the frame have been finished and the top and right side haven’t been done yet. See the difference? It took away the cheap-looking shine and gave it a more antique gold look.

Once the frames were all ready, it was time to choose what to hang!

The wall in between the kitchen and living room houses used to be such an eyesore. It had our thermostat, an unused humidifier control, and lots of toddler scribbles on the wall.

A fresh coat of paint and removing the old humidifier control helped significantly, but I was eager to get some other things up on the wall to distract from that device sticking out like a sore thumb!

For this particular gallery wall, I wanted to gather mementos and photographs that are extra special for our family. I chose a few items from travels, a wallpaper label that was discovered in a renovation of my grandparent’s farmhouse, two recipes, one in my grandma’s handwriting and one in Justin’s grandma’s, a picture of my dad, brother, and me from childhood at a place special to our family history, and a photo of my maternal grandfather with his parents at their home in Puerto Rico.

I’ll often map out where I want everything to go before hanging anything, but for this wall, I just went one frame at a time and went based on what placement felt right.

Before hanging, I removed any of the little collapsible stands behind the frames. These aren’t necessary to have when the picture is being hung, and will often prevent the frame from lying flush against the wall. I used a pair of vice grip pliers to pull them off. Sometimes on older frames, I could just use my hand to pull the stand and the whole thing would come off, other times, I had to use the pliers to pull off the metal hinge as well.

To hang the pictures, I used picture hanging command strips. I like these because it’s a way to hang lots of pictures without adding lots of nail holes. I’m happy with how this wall turned out and I love that it helps camouflage the thermostat!

For the walls around the staircase, I wanted a mixed metal look and chose gold, silver, and black frames. To keep a cohesive look, I went with all black and white photos and specifically chose a mix of professional family photos and more casual candid shots from our life.

I also included pictures of our grandparents, special handwritten notes, and a caricature of Justin and me from a work holiday party a couple years ago.

I love the mix of old and new, traditional and modern, formal and casual. It really feels so representative of our family and each one is special to us! I decided to have the frames loosely follow the curve of the staircase and I plan to add to it over the years so it continues to reflect our family.

I’m really happy with the way both gallery walls have not only added interest to our plain white walls, but they have added so much personality. Our family is so well represented – our history, our ancestors, and the ordinary, and everyday moments that make up our lives. It is a small change that made a huge difference in making this home really feel like ours.

A Modern Traditional Light for the Dining Room

Earlier this week I wrote a blog post with all the progress we had made so far in our dining room renovation. Even though I was so pleased with the progress, there was still one thing that to me, stuck out like a sore thumb: the overheard light!

One of the items on my 21 for 2021 goal list is to replace the “boob lights” in our house (any rounded flush mount lights with a center knob to keep the fixture attached). To me these flush mounts feel pretty basic and dated and I was more than ready to see this one go. I think good lighting can make such a great statement in a room, and in this stage of life with two toddlers, it’s also a way to have some design impact in a room without putting something breakable within my kids’ reach. Win win!

Aesthetics aside, the previous flush mount was also problematic because even with new lightbulbs and the dimmer switch turned on full power, the room always felt too dim. Our dining room is large and our table seats up to 10-12 people, so we wanted a light fixture that could pull some weight and provide a lot of light.

Our new fixture arrived yesterday and Justin and I spent last night installing this brass beauty!

We’ve tripled the amount of brightness and it is definitely noticeable! Justin even commented that we’ll probably rarely have the dimmer switch on full power now because with all these bulbs it is almost too much light. I will say, this light did not come with well-written instructions and the included screws were not the right size to attach to the box in the ceiling, so it is probably not a good choice to DIY if you’ve never installed a light by yourself before. I was very thankful that Justin had experience installing several different lights previously because we had to mostly figure this one out ourselves (and even so it took him a while to figure this one out). Just wanted to be upfront in case you want this light in your own home; it might be a good one to hire out installation to a licensed electrician!

I spent so many evenings searching for the perfect light fixture for the space. I had to consider several factors: I wanted something substantial so the light wouldn’t feel dwarfed by a long table, but the light couldn’t be too wide or taller guests might hit their head on it when standing up (this eliminated a lot of larger chandeliers). We needed multiple bulbs, which eliminated most pendant options. The dining room is open to the kitchen so I needed to consider the fact that I’m most likely going to use globe lights above the kitchen island – I wanted the lights in the two spaces to coordinate without matching. I also wanted something that felt traditional, but not too formal, and also updated, but not too modern. Haha! Overall, it was a tough list of criteria to meet. After countless hours of searching, I finally came across this light and it felt like the Goldilocks choice – finally just right!

One of my favorite things about this light is how its looks change depending on the angle you’re looking at it. From the view from the kitchen (see above), it looks like three even rows of lights but from the view in the room (see below), it looks like a staggered chandelier. I also love the rounded edges that soften all the rectangular features. The candle-style chandelier feels somewhat traditional, but the offset lights and clean lines keep it modern at the same time. To me it feels like the perfect blend!

Last night after we finished installing, Justin made the comment that he couldn’t wait for game nights now. That comment made me so happy because my goal with these renovations is always to make our house feel like a home – one that is cozy, warm, and inviting. I want to have people over for dinner and linger around the table. I want to gather with friends, plenty of snacks and a stack of fun board games. I want this space to be somewhere we want to be, and I love that he is excited to spend time here now!

HouseTour2020-28

The light was the last thing we needed to finish this phase of the dining room renovation. I’m on the hunt for a credenza to place along the windowless wall, but I know that the search for the right one might take a while and I’m in no rush. For now, I’m really happy with the transformation this room has had!

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Trim Color: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

Window Color: Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black

Curtains (color: wild rose)

Curtain Rod

Hinged Curtain Rod Connectors

Chandelier

Light Bulbs

One Year Later: What We Love, Regret, and Still Plan to Do in our Guest Suite

When we first moved in to this house, one of our top priorities was to update the guest suite in our basement. We love to host and frequently have overnight guests so we wanted to have a nice, comfortable space for them to stay. This coming Sunday will mark one year since I revealed our completed guest bathroom renovation (you can find that reveal post, along with all the sources, here), and two weeks after that I revealed the adjoining guest bedroom renovation (reveal post with sources here).

This was the first major renovation we’ve ever done, and it was the first, and still only, time we’ve worked with a contractor. We learned so much through this project and while we haven’t had nearly as many guests as we thought we would (definitely did not predict a global pandemic coming less than one month after we finished the room!), I thought it would be fun to look back on that project and talk about what we still love, what we wish we had done differently, and what we want to do!

As a reminder, here’s what both rooms looked like pre-renovation!

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What We Love

Honestly, I love 98% of the decisions we made with these two rooms! The biggest change we made was adding a window to make a legal bedroom and that was a no-brainer that we are so happy with. The addition of natural light makes a huge difference!

The updated baseboards, chunky door trim, and board and batten on the foundation walls in both rooms all bring some much needed interest and character and I still adore all those added details.

I’m thrilled that we turned the built-in TV nook into a linen cabinet with doors (see more of that process here). It added so much functional storage and I love that the accent color (Sherwin Williams Oyster Bay) makes it a special feature.

The choice to forgo a dresser and instead use a narrow console table as a vanity was also the right decision – guests don’t need all the storage in a dresser and this provides a functional use for what was otherwise a pretty awkward slanted wall.

We also added heaters to both the bathroom and bedroom (there was previously no heat source in either!) My mother-in-law suggested just adding radiant cove heaters to a few of the walls and this was a good choice. They provide a nice heat for our guests and are tucked up near the ceiling and blend in fairly discreetly.

In the bathroom, I love almost everything we did. I love all the fixtures, the color choices, the different tiles, and the mixing of matte black and nickel finishes. I’m glad we saved money by reusing the same vanity with additional trim on the bottom and sides to make it fit the space perfectly.

I especially love the custom vanity top and undermount sink!

We have absolutely no regrets over the decision to expand the shower into the dead space we found behind the wall – it is so much more spacious now! And the double niche is so handy for our guests to keep their toiletries!

What I Wish I Had Done Differently

My biggest regret with this whole project is the top of the bench in the shower. I’ve talked about this before, but I didn’t plan all our materials in advance so when our tile guy presented an option that he thought would work for the top of the bench, I felt pressured to agree to it even though I didn’t love it. I’ve regretted this decision ever since. The tile he presented wasn’t even big enough to go wall to wall, so there is a grout line right down the middle. Not only do I not love the tile itself, but I really hate that grout line.

I was afraid to speak up and say no to that tile for a variety of reasons. I didn’t know where to go to source other tile options, I didn’t know how long it would take to order something else, I was afraid of going even more over budget, I didn’t want to be a problem client who delayed a project or was being difficult, I still hadn’t decided on a vanity top so I didn’t know what would match that . . . the list goes on. I wish I had just spoken up and said “thank you, but that’s not what I had envisioned. How can I go about finding other options?”

On that note, I wish we had relied less on our contractor and done more of the work ourselves. In the end, our contractor did a great job, but this was his side job that he fit in during evenings and some weekends and there were many moments I was itching to just jump in and do things myself so the project could keep moving. There’s also a LOT of communication that has to happen with a contractor and there were a few things that had to be re-done because they weren’t quite what we wanted the first time. That being said, working with a contractor made Justin and I realize that while we need someone else for major things like changing plumbing, moving electrical, knocking out and moving walls, etc., there are many things we can do ourselves. Our experience here actually propelled us into all our future DIY projects, which have saved us lots of money and ensured things happened just like we wanted. So maybe it’s a good thing we had this experience first to show us all the ways we could do things differently in the future!

What We Still Want to Do

I still want to replace the overhead boob light (if you know, you know) in the bedroom. I didn’t do this the first time around because we were already way over budget. Plus, the light box is off-centered in the room and the current light blends in well enough with the ceiling that it’s not very obvious. It will take the right kind of light to work and not make things look weird and off-kilter but I’m up for the challenge!

The carpet in here and throughout the rest of the basement is old, bubbling up in places, and has lots of discolorations and signs of wear so it definitely needs to be replaced. I also want to re-address the walls. I didn’t include the paint color as something I technically regret, because the white is honestly fine. At the time it felt fresh and clean; however, now it’s feeling boring and pretty uninspiring. I still love the contrast trim but I want to add wallpaper to all the walls (something a bit more understated than the previous wallpaper haha!) I’ve ordered a few samples and I’ve been having fun dreaming of different options for this room.

Lastly, down the road I’d love to have someone else come and re-do the shower bench top to something I actually like. I don’t know what that will involve or how difficult it would be, but I want to at least look into it and see what my options are (which I should’ve done in the first place!) It stinks to want to replace something that we spent money on to install, but I think it would be worth it.

Overall, we’re still really really happy with this space and we’re hopeful that we’ll be able to have a lot more guests come visit in 2021!

How We DIYed our Dining Room Window Trim

A few weeks ago, I shared the plans for some updates to our dining room and ever since then we’ve been slowly making progress. One of the things I was most excited to do was highlight the gorgeous view outside by updating the windows! I love the look of a nice chunky trim so we decided to take off the previous window casing and replace with thicker trim that would really draw your eyes to the outside. We finished this project last week and today I’m sharing all the details of exactly how we changed the window trim from this:

to this!

I mean, can you even!? In addition to new window trim, we also painted all the baseboards and finished painting the ceiling. All that contributes to this feeling like a brand new room and we’re not even finished yet!

DIY WINDOW TRIM

Materials

-pre-primed pine trim in the following sizes (we got ours at Menards):

  • 3 1/4″ wide x 1/2″ thick
  • 1 1/4″ wide x 1/2″ thick
  • 7/8″ wide x 3/8″ thick

-nail gun and nails (we used 1.5″ nails)

-level

-measuring tape

-crowbar

-miter saw

-Drydex

-stud finder

-silicone caulk

This project is an example of a lot of prep work making the job itself go easier. Justin and I first measured all the windows and determined what type of board and lengths of each board we would need for all the sides. Then we calculated how we could buy lumber in the most effective way. For example, if we needed two pieces of the same width but different lengths, say 58″ and 62″, we could buy one piece of trim in a 10′ length and cut it in two rather than buy two smaller pieces. This prep work took some time but helped us get exactly what we needed in the quickest, most cost-effective (and least wasteful) way.

Once we got home with all our supplies, Justin used a small crowbar to carefully rip off all the previous casing from around the windows. We saved the casing as scrap wood in our barn – you never know when we’ll want it for a future project!

With the casing off, I took the time to first paint the edges of the window itself. Since the trim was going to be a different color than the window, it was easier to paint the window first without needing to tape anything off. I used one coat of my favorite primer and then two coats of Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black in Satin.

I also painted all the wood for the trim beforehand (again, easier to paint separately and avoid having to tape). I used a foam roller to apply two coats of Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray to all the trim pieces and let them dry overnight.

We started with the 3 1/4″ wide trim to make the sides of each window. Justin measured from top corner to bottom corner of the window and used the miter saw to cut each board to length. (And yes, he definitely should have been wearing safety goggles!)

He then used a level to make sure each piece was framing the window straight and nailed it into place using a nail gun and 1.5″ nails.

He then repeated the same process for the trim on the other side of the window.

Next, he measured the distance from the left outside edge of the new trim to the right outside edge of the other side of the window and cut another piece of 3 1/4″ wide trim to length. He checked levelness again, then used his nail gun to install this piece on top of the window.

Next he measured from outside corner to outside corner on the bottom, added two inches for overhang (one extra inch to each side), and used his miter saw to cut a piece of the 1 1/4″ trim to length.

We used this piece to create a small windowsill ledge by installing the narrow side flush to the wall so it would stick out past the width of the other boards. We checked with a measuring tape to make sure it had the same amount of overhang on each side.

Justin positioned his nail gun on the bottom of the board to nail this piece up into the window side trim.

Next, we took the 7/8″ wide piece of trim and cut it to length for each side and the top. Justin repeated the same method he used for installing the wider pieces of trim: measuring top edge to bottom edge and cutting and installing each side piece, then measuring from outside edge to outside edge of the newest side trim and cutting and installing the top piece. As he did with the windowsill trim, these thin pieces were installed with the narrow side against the wall so the wider side would stick out perpendicular from the wall and create a little lip around the trim. He used his nail gun to nail each one from the outside edge into the already installed trim.

Here’s what everything looked after installation:

The last piece was another 3 1/4″ wide piece going underneath the windowsill. Justin measured the length of the windowsill trim, subtracted one inch (so it would be wider than the side trim pieces but shorter than the windowsill – just our preference for looks!) and cut it to length.

We have kids and dogs who hold and/or push down on the windowsill when looking out the window, so we wanted to make sure the bottom pieces were as secure as possible. Justin used a stud finder to locate studs in the wall so he could nail into them whenever possible.

Once the bottom board was installed, Justin also put a few nails from the top of the thinner windowsill piece down into the bottom board.

At this point, it was time to fill in all the nail holes. I applied a small amount of Drydex nail hole filler to each hole with my finger.

This product turns from pink to white as it dries. See how around the edges it’s already starting to change colors?

Once the edges had dried, but before the entire amount had dried, I gently took my finger and lightly sanded off the excess product. Then once it dried fully, I painted over it with the trim color.

There were a few places where the wall wasn’t quite flush and the trim had a gap between wall and trim. I ran a thin bead of caulk along those edges and smoothed it out with my finger. I then went over all the trim and touched up paint over all the dried Drydex and any other area that needed it. Then we were done!

I’m absolutely thrilled with how the trim turned out. The windows look totally different than before and really do make the view the star of the show. It helps that right now outside we have a snowy winter wonderland!

After all the touch up paint had time to dry, we hung curtain rods and used hinged connectors to give the look of a bay window curtain rod, then hung these curtains in wild rose to finish them off. I just love the new look so much!

I was finally able to decide on a new light fixture and it should arrive later this week. Eventually I plan to have a credenza and some artwork on the windowless wall but for now, I’m so pleased with the transformation of this room!

Sources:

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster (satin finish)

Ceiling: Sherwin Williams Alabaster (flat finish)

Contrast Trim: Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray

Windows: Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black

Curtains (wild rose color)

Curtain Rod

Curtain Rod Hinged Connector

Everything else is either old, thrifted, or sold out!

A Simple DIY Shelf for the Playroom Kitchen

Today I’m sharing a quick, easy, and cute DIY project Justin and I completed over the weekend: a little shelf for our kids’ play kitchen!

Way back at the start of this pandemic, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night where we spent an evening creating simple book ledges for the little play space under our stairs. We had a lot of fun working together and the shelves turned out great! I’ve been wanting to find another quick and simple project for another date night and after finishing up the play kitchen project, I realized a little kitchen shelf to complete the space would be the perfect idea. Justin and I work together on lots of larger DIY projects, but sometimes it’s nice to just have a small project we can do in a day. This project was just right for a DIY date!

Materials

-two boards approximately 2-3 inches in width; cut to desired length (+ save approximately 4 inches of excess)

-1/2 inch dowel rod

-S hooks

-wood glue

-DryDex nail hole filler

-drill or drill press with 1/2 inch drill bit

-nail gun

-clamps

-paint or stain if desired (I used Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot) and paint brush

-spray paint or Rub n Buff if desired

-we used a miter saw for our cuts, but there are other saws that would work too

Process

I was hoping to find a couple 1x3s but a quick search in Justin’s scrap wood collection led us to find these pieces. I have no idea what they were originally from, but the rounded side on each of them made them the perfect choice for shelves! One is approximately 2 3/4″ wide and one is approximately 2 1/4″ wide. We used the wider one for the top shelf and the narrower one for the back.

I had decided on a length of 22″ so we measured and marked each one and I cut them to length with a miter saw.

Next, we used some of the excess wood that was just cut off the ends to cut down two small squares to fit in the 90 degree corner the shelves made.

I used a straight edge to draw a line from corner to corner and Justin used that guideline to carefully cut each block into a triangle.

We decided to use a 1/2″ dowel rod to run between the two triangles. Justin marked the center of each triangle (making sure they were symmetrical) and set up his drill press with a 1/2″ bit.

This is a picture of him setting up the drill press – to actually create the holes we had to tag team because the triangles were so small. He held the triangle in place while I actually operated the drill press. We worked very slowly and carefully to make sure his fingers were all out of the way of the drill bit. Teamwork!

Now that everything was cut to size, it was time to paint! I chose to use the same paint we used for the play kitchen (Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot) because we already had it and it would match well. Before that, everything got a layer of primer since the wood had a shiny finish and the paint needed something to stick to.

I wanted to use gold S hooks but couldn’t find any in the store so we bought these silver ones to start. I first tried to change the finish to gold using Rub n Buff in antique gold. This product is described as a wax metallic paste and it changes the finish of an object when you rub it on. It worked like a charm on the dowel rod! Unfortunately, even after allowing dry time, it rubbed right off these metal hooks.

I did a little googling and found that other DIYers had success with first spray painting and then rubbing it on, so I tried that next. I spray painted the hooks gold (using my favorite Rustoleum spray paint in Satin Bronze) and let them dry.

Then I tried the Rub n Buff again and this time, it worked! I rubbed it on with my fingers and used a paper towel to very lightly buff it until smooth. The one on the top right was just Rub n Buff, the other three were spray paint then Rub n Buff. Can you see the difference?

Once everything dried, it was time to assemble. Justin used a nail gun to attach the two shelf boards together at a 90 degree angle.

We eyeballed about how long we wanted the dowel rod to be – since the triangles weren’t going to sit flush with the end, we had some flexibility with length. Then we used a bit of wood glue to secure one end of the dowel rod into the hole we drilled in the triangle.

The S hooks had the right size curve to slide onto the dowel rod, but did not have a wide enough gap to “hook” on and off. In other words, once they slid on, there was no coming off! This is actually a bonus for us because it means our kids can’t unhook them when playing. We slid three hooks on first and then used wood glue to secure the other end of the dowel rod into the second triangle.

Once both triangles were on, we applied wood glue to the two sides that would sit against the shelf.

We measured placement to make sure everything was centered, then clamped the triangles down and allowed it to dry like that overnight. The next morning, Justin added a small nail from the top of the shelf into the back of each triangle for an extra secure hold.

The next morning I used a small amount of DryDex to fill all the nail holes. This product is super easy to use – I squeeze a bit onto my finger, smooth it over the nail hole, and once it dries a bit (it starts to turn white as it dries!) I gently sand off the excess with my finger. So simple! Once the patched areas were dry I touched up everything with paint.

We located a stud in the wall and Justin used his nail gun to nail the shelf directly into the stud. He also added extra nails on either end so the shelf is secure. I used a bit more Drydex to patch these nail holes, painted over then, and the shelf was done!

I’m really pleased with how the shelf turned out! The top shelf holds a few play food items, some artwork made by my sister (check our her studio here!) and an old baking powder can with the label removed as a utensil crock.

I hung a couple items from this pot and pan set as well as a little fruit and veggie drawstring bag (PlanToys has theeee cutest play food sets!)

This was such a fun little date for Justin and I and our kids already love the addition to their kitchen area. I’m thankful for the memories made while creating this shelf and I forsee more DIY date nights in our future!

Sources

DIY Play Kitchen

Plan Toys Food and Beverage Set

Plan Toys Veggie Set

Pots and Pans Set

Artwork: JBeck Studio

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Greyhound

Shelf Color: Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot

Plans for a Long-Overdue Dining Room Update!

One of my goals for 2021 was to paint the main areas of our house (kitchen, dining room, entryway/foyer, hallway, and living room) and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve already started tackling this project! I decided to start with our dining room, which has remained virtually untouched renovation-wise since the day we moved in. As soon as paint started to transform the look of the room, my wheels started turning for a phase one renovation of the space! I thought it would be fun to take some time today and share what I’m thinking and some of the plans for the space.

Here’s what the dining room looked like to begin with:

HouseTour2020-28

Pretty uninspiring, huh? The first step was patching over the many holes, dings, nicks, and scuffs along the walls, then covering them with a coat of my favorite primer and two coats of Sherwin Williams Alabaster in an eggshell finish. Here’s what it looks like now:

The soft, slightly creamy white feels like a breath of fresh air after almost two years of dingy brown walls and already the room feels so different. I’m excited to give this neglected room some additional, and much needed, TLC!

I love the the idea of mood boards and I think they can be so helpful in visualizing a space, but this busy mama just never has the time to sit down and create one! For me, Pinterest boards quickly and easily give me direction and corral all my ideas and vision into one space. Here’s what my dining room “mood board” currently looks like:

While Justin and I both agree that we would LOVE to update the flooring, we’re holding off for now. The kitchen, pantry, dining room, entryway, powder room, and laundry room all have the same flooring, and they’re connected in a way that isn’t conducive to changing the flooring unless you are going to do it for everything. We know that in a few years we’re planning to change the layout of our kitchen, so it makes sense to hold off on flooring until then. That means the baseboards also stay for now (I’m slowly swapping out the narrow baseboards in our house for a chunky 5 inch version) so I’m just going to paint them in a contrast color. I’m leaning towards using a soft greige like Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. I am going to also update the window trim, probably giving it the same look as our home office windows, and paint it the same contrast color as the baseboards.

Once all that is completed, the fun will really start! The star of the room is actually not in the room at all: it’s the outdoors! The windows are the biggest statement in the room and they draw your eye outside to all the woods surrounding our house. It’s a fabulous view no matter the season and I’m going to add some window treatments to complement and highlight it.

Just look at the beautiful snow-covered trees that were outside in December!

The windows are large so I need pretty substantial, long curtain rods. I like the simplicity of these matte black ones! The walls come together at unusual angles so I’m also ordering two of these hinged curtain rod connectors to create one continuous curtain rod. As for curtains, I want to use them as a way to create a little drama and add some much needed color to the room – I’ve been debating between this soft rose color and this deep merlot color. I ordered a panel of each so I can see them in person before making my final decision but either way I’m excited for the texture that the velvet will bring to the space!

Since the windows are going to be the focal point, I’m keeping the rest of the room fairly simple. We’ll update the light fixture – I’m currently debating the simple elegance of this brass chandelier vs. the casual vibe of this modern bamboo pendant. I also want to add some artwork and center a large credenza along the window-less wall.

I’m loving the look of credenzas with reeded details but they are $$$$$ so I’m kicking around a few ideas for a possible DIY version…stay tuned for that!

The table and chairs are a big TBD. They are hand-me-downs and while they’ve served us well for the past 7.5 years of marriage, we’re not crazy about the look of them and we’re definitely ready for a change. That being said, this table extends to fit 14 people (!!) which is amazing for our large dining room, and as you can imagine, finding a replacement that is equally as expansive is incredibly expensive. I’m so afraid of dropping a ton of money on a new dining table only to find it clashes with our flooring when we finally update that. Yikes! So, we might keep what we’ve got for now, or we might find an inexpensive secondhand option that is more our style. We’ll see!

All in all, I think this will be a fairly budget-friendly makeover and will definitely tide us over until we’re able to do bigger changes like the flooring and table. Now that I’ve got a pretty clear vision moving forward, I’m excited to start ordering things and pulling this room together. I’ll definitely be sharing more of the day-by-day progress on my Instagram account (@simplifythechaos) so be sure to follow along there if you want more frequent updates!

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you purchase something through an Amazon link I provided, I may earn a small commission. None of my recommendations or decisions are based on any commission I might receive from your purchases, but are all things I’ve either bought myself or am planning to buy. The decision to buy something is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy one through the link I provide is completely up to you. Thank you!

Our DIY Play Kitchen!

Tomorrow is Christmas and we finished up kids’ gift just in time: a play kitchen built from scratch!

Originally I hoped to re-purpose an old TV entertainment center, but after spending hours scouring Facebook marketplace and multiple thrift stores around town, I came up empty. With only two weeks left before Christmas, I was too crunched for time to keep searching. So instead, we decided to build one!

My brainstorming session started with a Pinterest search, where I found this play kitchen from West Elm. I fell in love with the look, but definitely not with the price. I knew Justin and I could come up with something similar for a lot less than $600.

So with that as a starting block, here’s where we ended up!

I’m so incredibly pleased with how this turned out and I can’t wait for our kids to see it tomorrow morning!

If you’re interested in how we created this play kitchen from scratch in just under two weeks, buckle up, because I’ve got all the details below. šŸ˜‰

How We Created Our DIY Play Kitchen

Materials

-5/8″ width plywood

-1/2″ width plywood

-2″ dowel rod

-3 door handles

-1×3″ board

-6 small door hinges

-5/8″ edge banding

-wood stain

-3 wooden knobs

-3/4″ drain pipe

-8×8 nonstick cake pan

-plastic/plexiglass

-1 small knob

-wood glue

-gorilla glue

-wood stain

-white paint

-black spray paint

Tools we used included: miter saw, nail gun, circular saw, drill press, jig saw, and kreg jig. We also used a few pieces of scrap wood throughout the project.

We started out with a simple outline I drew up. The nice thing about building from scratch is that I could choose exactly the dimensions that would work for our space. I decided on 36″ high and 48″ wide (divided equally to make the fridge, stove, and sink each 16″ wide).

I highly highly recommend sketching up as much as you can beforehand; it helps you visualize what steps you need to take to make everything and also what materials you’re going to need. Below you can see how I sketched out the frame and all the shelves and marked where all the kreg jigs (KJ) would go. On the right you can see where I calculated how many pieces of each length of board I would need. This didn’t take long to sketch up, but was really helpful in calculating materials and forming a plan of attack.

We started with a sheet of plywood in a 5/8″ width. The sheets are 4’x 8′ and because of my sketches and planning, I knew that we could make the entire frame out of one sheet. Justin set up a guide using a long piece of oak to make a super straight cut and piled a few pieces of old laminate and scrap wood to add weight to make sure the plywood didn’t bow at all.

He used a circular saw to the sheet of plywood into three equal strips – because the width of the saw blade takes away a fraction with each pass, these strips ended up being just under 16″ wide. Then he used his miter saw to cut each strip into the lengths we needed.

Justin started out by building the frame of each section, using kreg jigs to connect each of the pieces together. He also used wood glue and clamps in a few places to make the frame extra secure. (Also, I always feel like I need to preface pictures in our garage by saying we’re not really Nascar fans haha. That sign is leftover from the previous owners and we just never took it down).

After the frame was finished, Justin cut down an old piece of 1/4″ thick plywood to create the backing.

He attached this plywood to the back of the frame with a nail gun. (Can we take a moment to appreciate the outfit? šŸ˜‰ It was COLD in that barn!)

Justin also cut down a scrap 1×3 and attached it underneath the “countertop” in the sink and oven sections using another kreg jig. I needed this piece so I had a space to attach oven knobs, and it just visually made sense to also have one in the sink section as well.

Next up was the shelves! Originally we thought we’d atttach these with more kreg jigs, but instead Justin just cut each shelf down to size and attached them with a nail gun.

Notice that he specifically cut the shelves so that they stopped short of the front edge – this is to accommodate the width of the door so the doors could be inset (flush with the sides).

After all the shelves were in place, we moved on to the legs. Justin bought a 2″ diameter dowel rod and cut it down into four 4″ long pieces. He measured out the center of each dowel rod and used a drill press to predrill a hole in the center of each one.

We marked out where each leg was going to go and Justin predrilled a hole in where each one was going to go.

It’s possibly overkill, but we used 3″ screws to attach the legs. We wanted them to be very secure and this definitely did the trick!

For the doors, Justin used a 1/2″ sheet of plywood to cut each size we needed. Because that width is hard to attach hinges to, he cut down a piece of scrap wood and screwed a small block to the door so he had a place to attach the hinge. If you want to avoid this extra step, you can just use a wider board to make the door.

With the frame, shelves, legs, and doors in place, it was my turn! I used my favorite Kilz primer on the doors and then painted two coats of Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot in Satin. I had this paint leftover from a previous project and it worked perfectly!

Next up was to put edge banding on all the front-facing plywood boards. I appreciate the lightweight nature and inexpensive cost of plywood, but not the look haha! I bought this 5/8″ edge banding to create the look of a solid piece of wood. It comes with a dried adhesive on the back that is heat activated. I heated up an iron to the “cotton” setting (a fairly high heat), held my edge banding in place against the side of the plywood, and ran the iron over it to activate the glue. I worked in roughly 4-6 inch sections and ran the iron back and forth over each section for about 20 seconds or so. It was a slower process, but look at the difference it made on the left vs. right!

The best part of this edge banding is it is paintable and stainable, so I could give it the same look as the rest of the plywood. I tested out some stains that we already had and quickly settled on this one.

On a trip to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I hit the jackpot with some inexpensive finds to complete the kitchen. I found some simple rounded silver handles for 50 cents each that were perfect for the doors, some wooden knobs that I thought would make cute oven knobs (pack of 5 knobs for $2!), and a drain hose ($6) and knob (50 cents) for the faucet. For less than $10, it was such a great score!

I spray painted the wooden knobs and settled on three for the front of the oven. I measured out and drilled three holes in the front and LOVE how they turned out.

To create the look of an oven, I made a 10″ x 7.5″ rounded template on piece of paper and traced it on the back of the oven door. Justin then used a jigsaw to cut out a hole and sanded down the edges.

I then took the plastic inserts from from a large Ikea frame I had (I don’t like the shine it creates on my pictures!) and cut down two pieces to 12″ x 9.5″ to have some overlap. These cut easily with scissors, but I would recommend trying out a small test piece first because there’s a learning curve to how you need to hold the plastic and cut in order to not have a chipped edge.

I spray painted one piece black and left the other clear. I used gorilla glue to glue the black one down first (keeping the spray painted side facing away from the hole of the oven door). Then I glued the clear piece on top of the spray painted side to keep the paint from getting scratched during playtime.

Next up was the burners! I took a long piece of scrap shiplap that we trimmed off when working on our office project and cut it down into 16 pieces just short of 3 inches each. I spray painted each strip black and after they dried, I squeezed a very thin line of wood glue onto the back of each one.

I created a little asterisk pattern with these strips to create two little burners. I think they turned out so cute!

Last up was the sink area! Originally, I bought a small plastic tub that I was going to create a sink but I didn’t realize it had a small lip that would prevent it from laying flush. So we quick did a curbside pickup for a little 8×8 cake pan from Target to use instead. We traced an outline right on the countertop (the smaller one is from the first plastic tub we didn’t use, the larger one is from the cake pan we did use).

Justin used his jigsaw to cut out this hole and the cake pan fit in perfectly!

To create the faucet, we used this 3/4″ drain pipe tube that I found at the ReStore. Can you see how one end is already perfectly formed like a faucet?

I used painters tape to mark where to cut the hose at and used a utility knife to create a clean cut.

We marked where we wanted the faucet and Justin used a 1″ drill bit to create a hole.

This next part felt very MacGyver-y. We cut the tube to length so about 2 inches would stick out in the bottom sink cabinet. We then spliced the part that would be under the counter into four pieces.

Justin screwed each spliced section up into the bottom part of the cabinet so that the faucet couldn’t be pulled out the top. We also stuck a small piece of scrap wood in the tube to help keep its upright shape.

Then he screwed a scrap piece of wood under all the spliced sections – the purpose of this was to keep the faucet from being pushed down into the hole.

It might not look pretty, but will keep the faucet in place securely now. It can’t be pushed down or pulled up!

Lastly, I spray painted the little gold knob that I bought for 50 cents black and we drilled through the tube (and wood inside) to screw it in place and create a little faucet handle.

All in all, I’m VERY pleased with how this project turned out! And because we thrifted a ton of materials and already had lots of things like the stain, paint, screws, scrap wood, etc, the project ended up costing us around $80.

The kitchen has already been tested out and if Justin is any indication, the kids will have fun with this tomorrow morning. šŸ˜‰

Sources

(Note: Most of what I used was thrifted or scrap material, but here’s what I used that I have sources for!)

-Paint: Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot in Satin

Black Spray Paint

Cake Pan (for sink)

edge banding (affiliate link)

wood stain

-the plastic inserts came from these Ikea frames

Holiday Home Tour 2020

We’re officially ONE WEEK away from Christmas! I’ve been feeling extra festive all week, so today I’m going to give a little tour of my home decorated for the holidays.

But first, a disclaimer: we have a three-year-old and a one-year-old running around, so all decorations within their reach (and I’m constantly surprised by what all they can reach haha!) need to be toddler friendly. On top of that, we’re not hosting any Christmas parties or having any people over right now, so no one outside our family is even seeing our house. All that to say, my decorating this year was more minimal than normal. I kept things simple by focusing on a few areas throughout the house that we use the most frequently.

It’s easy to feel discouraged by my efforts when I see all the gorgeously decorated homes circulating social media these days. It seems like every holiday tour features a showstopper house! But the reality is, our family life is not conducive to a picture-perfect home at this point in time. And someday when I’m able to go all out and decorate my house the way I want to, I know I’ll miss the simple little Christmases when my kids were little. The sticky fingers baking Christmas cookies, the sweet little holiday crafts, the wonder in their eyes as they look at the lights on the tree or delight in an ornament with their picture on it, their little bodies curled up next to mine as we watch a Christmas movie together. These little people years are magical too, so I am going to proudly document our home as it looks for this stage in our family’s life.

I snapped this photo the other day when I was working in the office and they were drawing. I love how it looks like they’re both writing letters to Santa ha! I love my sweet little Christmas-pajama wearing elves.

Ok – on to the tour! Our living room is the main area we hang out in as a family, and with the large bay window, it makes for an obvious choice for our Christmas tree. My favorite is at night when the lights from the tree reflect on all the windows – it feels truly magical!

I’ve said it before, but every year my favorite ornaments are the ones that show our “first” years. First year married, and then first year for both our kids. Since LJ was born around Thanksgiving, his got to be extra festive šŸ˜‰

Since our house does not have a fireplace, we use our stair railing instead. I string garland down the railing and then hang all six of our stockings (two adults, two kids, two dogs!) on the living room side of the railing. I love using monogram ornaments to mark everyone’s stocking.

We learned pretty quickly with toddlers that we can’t keep anything on our end tables without getting knocked off, so this kid-friendly wooden nativity set is a perfect option! The barn was made from an older man at my church who became a kind of surrogate grandfather for me over the years and it is very special to me. His granddaughter made all the people out of dowel rods, scrap cloth, and pipe cleaner – this could easily be a family craft project if you want an inexpensive nativity for kids to play with! My kids love it!

Christmas pillows are another easy, kid-friendly way to add a festive feel.

Macie approves of my Christmas blanket. šŸ˜‰

I used the large cased opening from the living room to the playroom to hang our mistletoe. I love that this view also shows the reindeer sign and nativity on the shelf – just a few little sprinkles of Christmas in a room that needs to stay functional for playtime.

I also keep a little basket on the shelf for all our holiday books!

Once the office was completed, I moved all my things out of the little desk area in our kitchen and that space became a little craft zone for LJ. It’s where we store all his stickers, crayons, coloring books, etc and right now it holds a few toddler-friendly Christmas items too.

LJ also made a little Christmas tree decoration that he chose to hang on the door to his secret nook which I think is just about the most precious thing ever!

Our dining room was kept very minimal this year with just a simple runner and centerpiece. We let the winter wonderland outside be the star!

My office is the one area that I decorated just for me. The rest of the house is minimal and toddler-friendly, but this is the one room I decorated the way I wish I could decorate the entire house. Needless to say, I love it!

Even if toddler-reach wasn’t a concern, right now we don’t really have a lot of surfaces throughout the house where I can put Christmas decor. The new built-in shelves basically quadrupled (or more!) the amount of surface space I had to put decorations. Truthfully, I still don’t have a ton to fill the shelves but it’s more in here than in any other room and I love how the little decor swaps make it seem so festive!

I wish I could include this scent over the blog – it’s just the perfect subtle Christmas-y blend!

It might sound silly, but my absolute favorite part of my holiday house is this little ornament. It makes me so happy! I love my little Charlie Brown olive tree.

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Not Christmas-y, but I am loving the contrasts between holiday red and vintage gold, and I feel like this gorgeous book cover just brings them together beautifully.

That wraps up this year’s decorations! I like to layer in new things over the years, so it really is fun to document what our house Christmas looks like right now since it’s probably the only year it will exactly like this.

Thanks for joining the tour!