One Room Challenge Week Three: The Great Cabinet Color Debate

Another week has gone by, and it’s time for another update on my basement kitchen renovation for the One Room Challenge!

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This week was finally the week to decide on a cabinet paint color. I wanted something moody and dark and I had several paint samples leftover from when we painted our guest bathroom, so I started with those. After painting swatches on the cabinets, I narrowed seven color choices down to two: Dark Pewter and Quarry Rock (both Benjamin Moore colors that I had color-matched at Lowe’s). I really liked both colors, but could not decide between the two. I threw up a poll on Instagram to see if that would help me decide, and 2/3 of voters chose Dark Pewter.

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I loved how rich and deep Dark Pewter was, but it felt too blue to me. I loved the green tones in Quarry Rock, but it wasn’t quite dark enough for me. After spending all day Friday looking at them both in different light, from different angles, Justin finally said “don’t rush this!” and encouraged me to sleep on the decision.

The next morning, I still couldn’t decide. I came to the conclusion that this either meant that I couldn’t go wrong and either color would work OR it meant neither color was The One and I should keep looking. Ultimately, I realized that I had hesitations with each color and was trying to force a decision just so I could get started painting sooner. I planned to paint as much as I could over the weekend, and while all the time spent choosing a color was delaying my plans, I also didn’t want to spend a ton of time painting only to realize the color just wasn’t right. The color samples I had were all originally chosen for a different room, so of course nothing was feeling quite right in the kitchen. I needed to look for a color based specifically on the room I was in, not just from whatever was leftover in another room.

I went back to the drawing board, except I had a fairly clear direction that I wanted: a dark, moody color that had green tones (basically, the perfect blend of Dark Pewter and Quarry Rock). I got three more samples to try out and one immediately stuck out to me – I could just feel that this was it. This was The One! I had no reservations, no hesitations, and was so glad I didn’t settle because I wholeheartedly loved…

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Rock Bottom from HGTV by Sherwin Williams.

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Top to Bottom: Dark Pewter, Quarry Rock, Rock Bottom shown with the lights on and next to the window – I tested the colors in every possible lighting situation!

Rock Bottom is the perfect blend of Dark Pewter and Quarry Rock and is just what I envisioned for the space!

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It’s dark and moody with green undertones but it doesn’t feel too green. It plays well off the existing colors in the kitchen and gives just the right amount of drama. I’m in LOVE.

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The base cabinets are all finished and I’m working my way through painting all the drawers and drawer fronts. Honestly, I hoped that by this point I would be done painting everything, but I’m so glad I didn’t let the pressure of a self-imposed timeline force me into a rushed decision. I know that I would have always been a little disappointed with either of my first two options so the extra time for deliberation and searching was totally worth finding a color I love!

Now on to the great counter top debate…stay tuned. 😉

If you want to check out other rooms that bloggers are renovating for the One Room Challenge , you can find them all here.

House Tour 2020

May 18 is an anniversary of sorts in our family: it’s been one full year since we’ve lived in our house!

I thought it would be fun to do a complete “house tour” and document what every room in our house currently looks like one year into living here. Some rooms have been completely remodeled, some have only had minor updates, and others have yet to be touched (one hasn’t even been unpacked yet).

A small disclaimer: I wanted to show what our house really looks like and how we’re using it in each stage of life, but I obviously did clean up before taking pictures. I didn’t want to make it look like a picture perfect model home because that’s not our reality, but just as I like to clean up before guests come over, I also cleaned up before virtual guests come over. 😉 That being said, I decided not to stage rooms (for example, I chose not to do things like add pillows to Vi’s crib just for the picture) since that’s not really how we live right now, so it still feels very authentic and true to our life.

My plan is to do this every year as a way to see how our home changes over time. I love seeing the evolution of a space and how the rooms in our home adjust to our growing family. Here’s what our home looks like in May 2020, one year after moving in.

Basement

Guest Room

The guest bedroom in the basement was one of my top priorities to address when we moved in. When not in a pandemic, we have overnight guests frequently (1-2x each month) and I wanted a comfortable space for them to stay. The room did not have a window and felt very dingy and dark, so we set out to add a window and make it feel light, bright, and cozy all at the same time. I would still love to swap out the overhead light and replace the carpet eventually, but I’m thrilled with this room’s transformation! Read more about this room’s renovation here.

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Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was the first room that we completely gutted and remodeled. New flooring, expanded tile shower, new lighting and fixtures – even though the layout didn’t change, it feels like a totally new space! You can check out more details in this blog post.

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Entertaining Space

Most of the basement is one huge open-concept living space. We bought this house with the hopes to do a lot of entertaining down here, so I’ve been putting in some effort to freshen it up. I am by no means done with this space, but a little bit of paint and removing some decorate trim has made it come a long way (blog post on our simple basement update here).

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And in the interest of full disclosure, here’s what our “entertainment center” situation currently is. I’m brainstorming alternatives to the bent folding table, but for now, it works. I know I’ll be glad to look back on this in the future when we have something different there to see how far we’ve come. 😉

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The space behind the couch will eventually have a table and chairs for hosting meals and game nights. Justin is actually in the process of making a table for this space, but until it gets finished, we keep our treadmill and the donation piles from my de-cluttering spree here (I know I said I would show our reality but I’m still cringing over showing spaces like this ha)!

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The basement kitchen is my current project for the One Room Challenge, and even though it’s in a major state of disarray, I’m very excited for the progress happening here (see my most recent update post here) – it’s going to look so good when it’s finished!

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Rounding out the open-concept space is this area to the right of the kitchen. Someday we plan to put a ping pong table here but for now, it’s a workspace for painting and storing furniture that we plan to sell.

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Mudroom

The last part of our basement is the mudroom in between the garage and the living area. As you can see, it needs work. I envision a combination workout space + some cubbies for storage eventually but for now…it’s just a bit of a catch-all (cringing again!)

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Main Floor

Laundry Room

The laundry room is really more like a laundry hallway. The washer and dryer are squeezed into a small space between the garage and a bathroom. Eventually, I would love to take out the bathroom and expand the laundry room but those plans are far down the road. Other than moving in our washer and dryer (which barely fit!) this space hasn’t been updated at all.

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Full Bathroom

Directly to the right of the laundry room is a full bathroom that we haven’t made any changes to yet. Normally, this bathroom doesn’t get used – the only exceptions are when we have many guests stay with us or in the middle of a pandemic. Since Justin works in healthcare, he uses this bathroom to shower when he comes home from work. It’s super convenient since it’s right off the garage and only used by him. As you can see, LJ and I wrote a few little notes to encourage him when he gets home. 🙂

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Powder Room

The powder room on the main floor is the only room that wasn’t painted brown when we moved in. We haven’t done anything to it yet, but it’s nice to at least have a little pop of color!

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Office

One of the rooms that got me the most excited about this house is our office, although right now it’s a disaster zone. I joke that it is our Room of Requirement because if you’re looking for something random, it’s probably in there. All of our unpacked boxes of books and decor are stored here and it’s kind of a makeshift office/extra guest room for an air mattress if needed. It doesn’t look like much right now, but I have plans to make it into a dreamy office + library – imagine those French doors opening up into floor to ceiling bookshelves and a cozy reading chair tucked in by the bay windows! I’m hoping we can start that renovation in the fall.

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The dining area off the kitchen also had a ton of potential (those windows!!), but we haven’t put any work into it yet. It currently just has a simple hand-me-down table and chairs and a few faux plants, but someday, this room is going to shine!

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The kitchen next to the dining room is another room that we haven’t put any work into. We’ve brainstormed a few ways that we’d like to change the layout a bit and update the appliances, but since that is a project that we’re several years out from, we’ll likely do a “phase one” renovation and at least update the wall color and maybe paint the cabinets.

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The previous owners used the room connected to the kitchen and living room as a dining room, but when we looked at the house I knew it would be the perfect playroom. It was the first room we updated (see that renovation post here) and I’m so glad we did because it gets used every. single. day. We still plan to update the trim and baseboards, but we’ll wait until we’re ready to do it throughout the whole first floor.

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The living room is yet another room that we have put zero effort into. We plopped down the furniture from our last house and called it good for now. Again, so much potential (more dreamy windows!) but in our life with two little ones, this casual arrangement works best for right now.

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Rounding out the main floor is the staircase off the living room (again, so much potential there!)…

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…and my favorite seven square foot space underneath! See all the details of this little nook’s transformation here.

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Top Floor

LJ’s Room

While no extensive work has been done upstairs, when I was 8 months pregnant and in full on nesting mode, we did get the bedrooms painted (they were all previously brown like the rest of the house). LJ’s room got some color-blocked walls and simple decor that feels just right for a little boy’s room.

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Vi’s Room

Vi’s room was painted white and recently got a little scalloped accent wall to make it feel more girly and fun. I also finally got some art up on the wall (notice I’m still waiting on one picture) and the room is much cozier.

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Kid’s Bathroom

The kids’ bathroom has had a very minimal amount of work – all we’ve done is take down the sliding glass shower door and replace it with a shower curtain. Other than that, we haven’t touched this room.

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Master Bedroom

All we’ve done in here so far is paint the walls, and the room is definitely lackluster. Again, so much potential here (more bay windows!) but right now it’s just simple and functional.

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Master Bathroom

The en suite bathroom has gone through a phase one renovation. We eventually want to gut it and rework the layout, but for the time being we just updated the flooring, painted the walls and vanities, and switched out some fixtures. You can read about that renovation here.

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Outdoors

The property is one of the biggest reasons we bought the house, so we’re thankful for a few outdoor lounge areas. The previous owners left a porch swing on the main level porch, which is perfect for enjoying a peaceful evening looking out over the pond. I’d love to add a few plants to this space too!

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Our walkout patio on the basement level has room for a table and chairs and I also created a little lounge space in the corner of the patio. This year I’m hoping to add a few end tables string lights, and potted plants to the space.

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That’s our home. It’s a work in progress, and we love the process of transforming it into the home of our dreams, but we’re not waiting to enjoy it until it’s “done” (I mean, is a house ever even done?) We are enjoying it every step of the way and choosing to love where we live at each stage. ❤

One Room Challenge Week 2: Updating Tile Floors with Paint

We’re on to Week Two of the One Room Challenge and I am so excited with how things are shaping up so far in our basement kitchen!

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Here’s a reminder of where this kitchen started:

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And here is what it looks like right now:

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I joked to a friend that I’m in the “getting worse before it gets better” phase. The kitchen definitely looks a bit chaotic, but I’m really excited about the progress so far.

After ripping off some decorative trim from that half wall ledge (where our foundation is), I got primer on the walls. I’m still deciding between two potential colors as the wall paint color, but I felt like that orange was sucking away my brain’s ability to be creative and visualize a new space. Just making the walls white for now made a huge difference and makes me feel like I can breathe!

Justin and I also worked together to take down the single cabinet that was on the wall in between the sink and the window. Removing that made the space feel so much more open and I know we won’t miss the slight decrease in storage.

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As you can see, I’m currently in the middle of painting the cabinets. All the drawer and door fronts are off and everything has a layer of primer. I have some color samples to test out for cabinet colors and hopefully will be able to decide on a color and get them painted this weekend.

Now that the floors are fully cured and have had time to get used a bit, I wanted to share the process of how I went about updating them and how they’re holding up so far. I’ll share what I specifically did, but it was pretty much following the tutorials mapped out by Angela Rose Home and Making Pretty Spaces. Check out their blog posts for more information!

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I first swept all the floors and then went over them with Krud Kutter and an old dish cloth (I used a textured one to help scrub away debris).

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After I was sure the floors were as clean as I could get them, I taped out the border of the floor and started painting the floor with base coat. I used Rustoleum’s RockSolid 2-step interior floor coating system for this project and chose Steam Gray as my base coat. I got this paint system at Home Depot because I wanted to order a second can with a tint and they mixed it up for me.

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I used a small angled brush to outline each tile and make sure to really get in the grout lines.

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Then I went back over the tile with a roller (I used a 3/8 inch nap). The instructions say only one coat is necessary, but after letting the first one dry overnight, I ended up rolling a second coat for extra coverage and durability. I then let the entire floor dry for 2 hours before going back to map out my pattern using delicate surface Frog Tape. I had found this inspiration image from Whitney Parkinson‘s instagram and wanted to recreate something similar with tape.

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I tried out two different ways to achieve the look I wanted and ultimately went with the one on the left (more on this later).

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On the advice of Angela, I wore white socks for this entire process because the paint stays tacky until the top coat is rolled and I didn’t want little toe marks. I marked out everything with tape (it took a lot more tape than I expected and I had to do a curbside pickup for five, yes five, additional rolls to finish everything). I got a second can of base coat and had it tinted to Haven Gray for my second color and applied it with a 2.5 inch angled brush.

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Since I could reapply the second coat in two hours, I worked in sections. I’d tape off one section and paint, then go to another section and tape and paint. Then by the time that was done, I could go back to the previous section and do the second coat. I worked in small enough sections and in a route that meant I could get two coats of paint on without stepping on the wet paint. This allowed me to get both coats of paint on within one day, working in the early morning, at nap time, and in the evening after my kids’ bedtime.

As I applied the second coat, I peeled off the tape right away. I like to do this when the paint is still wet because I think it helps keep the tape from peeling paint or getting dried and stuck.

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Once the pattern was finished, I let the second coat dry for 2 hours. I then went back through and touched up a few little places before letting it dry another 4 hours before applying the top coat (step 2 in Rustoleum’s system).

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The top coat goes on clear and comes in semi-gloss or matte finishes. I chose matte since I didn’t want a shiny surface. It is supposed to be very quick and simple and should have taken me no more than 15 minutes to apply with a 3/8 inch nap roller. Unfortunately, some small bits of dog hair got in the paint when I trimmed out the edges of the floor (learned my lesson: do NOT dip your paintbrush directly in the paint can! Pour it into a small container and use that!) so I had to spend a lot of extra time going over the coat with a baby wipe to pick up the stray hairs. All in all this step probably took an hour.

Once the top coat was applied, I was done! You can walk on it after 24 hours and replace furniture after 72, but a full cure is 7 days. Part of the reason I did this early was to give it the full week. And now, it looks like this!

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I’m really pleased with how easy this whole process was. It took time to tape out the pattern and apply the second color, but in general this is a super easy, very beginner friendly project and a great way to update outdated tile.

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The pattern isn’t quite perfect. There are slight variations in angles and triangle sizes due to tape placement varying a bit throughout, but Justin and I both agree that it’s perfectly imperfect in a way that makes it seem intentional.

In terms of holding up, I am really pleased! When we went to take the doors off the cabinets, one slipped from Justin’s hand and crashed to the floor and not one speck of paint chipped off. Definitely passed the durability test!

I’m thrilled with the product and happy with the end result…although one thing keeps nagging at me.

Remember when I was choosing between two different taped out patterns? I chose the one with the smaller tiles because I wanted the pattern to feel subtle. I didn’t want to overwhelm the tiles or have the pattern scream TRIANGLES (if that makes any sense?) plus my inspiration image used smaller triangles (although I also recognize that the tiles themselves were smaller too).

The more I look at the tile, the more I don’t like how much white space there is. It seems to dominate, and while it does look nice, it pulls apart the pattern between tiles and doesn’t quite pull off the look I was going for. I decided to go back over a few tiles and make the triangles slightly bigger to see how it would look and I chose the few tiles by the door that I know will always be covered by a mat in the future.

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See how the three tiles in front of the door, and the first line in the second row of tiles have slightly bigger triangles? This is the size they would have been if I went with the other taped out pattern I was considering. Truthfully, I like this better! The size seems better for the tile and I think it would have made the overall pattern look more like I had envisioned. Having larger triangles doesn’t overwhelm the tile like I worried it would. I would absolutely be willing to go back over everything and just make the triangles slightly bigger throughout the flooring but, I also noticed that the variations in triangle sizes and angles are more obvious with the bigger triangles. With less white space as a  buffer, the imperfections are more evident and I don’t think I like that.

So all that to say, for now, I am choosing to stick with the pattern I already have on the floor. If I could go back in time, I would have gone with the other taped pattern to make bigger triangles to fit proportionally with the size of tile and just been very precise with taping out. As things stand, I’m choosing to be happy with the way the pattern looks now. I still really like it and am happy with the improvement!

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I’m a long ways from done with this room, but I’m so excited for the progress so far!

 

 

One Room Challenge Week One: The Plan for the Basement Kitchen

The One Room Challenge (ORC) is a bi-annual challenge where twenty featured designers choose a room in their house to focus on renovating and finishing in a six week timeline. Because of the pandemic, this year’s challenge got postponed to May and the timeline is extended to eight weeks. The ORC always encourages guest participants to join in and I have decided to participate this time around!

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I love that this is not a competition, but a way for everyone from top interior designers to little amateur DIYers like myself to inspire and encourage one another as they work to transform a space in a focused amount of time. I’m excited to join in and work on renovating . . .

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. . . our basement kitchen!

The Space

We love to entertain and host events, so this basement space was a huge selling point for Justin and I when we bought the house last year. The basement level is mostly comprised of a large, open-concept living space and this kitchen, although it does also have our guest bedroom + bathroom. There is potential for this level to be its own living quarters as an in-law suite or space for an adult child living at home, but for the foreseeable future we will use it as a gathering space for hosting friends and family. To the right of the kitchen is a door leading directly to our patio and pond, so it is definitely going to get a lot of use, especially in the summertime.

Truthfully, there are a lot of things I would love to change about this kitchen. The half wall + ledge along the refrigerator side of the kitchen isn’t ideal but it has to be there because it is part of the house foundation (that side of the house is built into a hill, while the other sides are not). I have a several ideas for larger projects that would make this space more functional and visually appealing and would love to completely re-work the layout, replace the tile, upgrade the appliances, the whole shebang. Since this not our primary kitchen though, I just cannot justify allocating a substantial budget to remodeling the space. It doesn’t make sense to pour a ton of money into a full remodel when there are many other rooms in the house that I want to address that we’ll use more often.

That being said, since this will be a major entertaining space, I don’t want it to feel dated. I want it to feel cozy and welcoming for our guests. I want it to feel like a reflection of us and fit in with the rest of our home. I want to freshen it up and make it shine, I just don’t want to spend a fortune doing that.

So I’m putting my own little spin on the ORC and issuing myself this challenge: incorporate budget-friendly cosmetic upgrades and DIY changes that are high impact but low cost.

The Plan

Flooring: I actually have already worked on the flooring and upgraded our boring tan tiles using the power of paint! I used a Rustoleum system that required 7 days to fully cure, and I wanted to get that out of the way before I started working in the kitchen so I completed this last week and the floors finished curing yesterday. I plan to write up a blog post on the process I used so look for that next week, but in the meantime, here’s a peek at the new floors:

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Cabinets: The cabinets are in good shape, but I don’t love the wood tones. My plan is to give them a dramatic face lift by painting them a dark, moody color and upgrading the hardware on them.

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I also want to make the space feel larger by removing the awkward single upper cabinet to the left of the sink and replacing it with artwork or possibly a small floating shelf.

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Walls: That burnt orange needs to go!

Countertops: This is the item that is the most up in the air. I really dislike the counter tops, but my options for upgrading are limited with my budget. I may try a simple upgrade like painting them, or I may go for a DIY counter top option using butcherblock or even concrete. Or perhaps I’ll just learn to deal with them as is. I need to wait and see how the rest of the kitchen comes together before making a decision about them, but I would really like to do something.

Remove trim around the half wall: The half wall + ledge extends through the whole length of the side of the basement, and while there’s nothing I can do about its existence, I can make it look a little more modern by ripping off the decorative trim on either side of the ledge and creating a cleaner, more streamlined overall look.  I’ve already removed it from the living area ( wrote a blog post here about the process) and I plan to follow the same steps in the kitchen.

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Replace window trim: I want to change the look of the windows with a chunkier trim to match what we did in the guest bedroom and plan to enlist Justin’s help with this. 😉

Finishing touches: Different barstools, some artwork, maybe a patterned runner . . . just a few little touches that finish off the space and make it feel complete and not like an afterthought kitchen.

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The Challenges

Two big challenges with this project: the budget and the fact that I’m a stay at home mom to a 2.5 year old and an 8 month old. My goal is to spend $1500 or less on this entire project. That feels like a lot but is actually not much $ for a kitchen renovation. I really believe I can make a big impact on this space without blowing a ton of money! I think this will also challenge me to learn to love the space we have – it’s not going to be a brand new, shiny kitchen that was gutted to the studs and replaced with the best of the best, but that doesn’t mean it won’t be a great space when I’m done!

The fact that I’m going to attempt to do this as a stay-at-home mama to two very small children is no small thing. My kids are both in pretty needy stages of life, and they are definitely not at a stage where I can leave them unattended for more than a few minutes. The current pandemic means I don’t have the option to have my babysitter come over or swap childcare with a friend. This makes it tricky to get things done, but not impossible. I have built up confidence over the last few small projects I’ve tackled (our DIY date night, our basement updates, the height wall in the garage, this dresser makeover, the secret nook under the stairs, the scalloped accent wall in Vi’s room, the painted tile floors in this very kitchen) to feel like I’m ready to take on a bigger scale project with my kids at home. I know that I can get things accomplished in the small windows of time throughout the day, particularly if I utilize time well during nap time and after bedtime. I just need to stay flexible and keep my expectations managed: there will be days I can’t make a dual nap happen or someone wakes up early or is feeling sick and needs extra snuggles, etc. so I will just need to roll with the punches and know there will be days where I don’t accomplish much in the kitchen.

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I’m really excited for this project and hope you’ll follow along with the transformation over the next eight weeks! And you can also see the other participants and their rooms by checking out the One Room Challenge blog. I think this will be fun!

The Completed Secret Nook!

The tiniest room in our house just got a dramatic makeover! Welcome to our little secret nook under the staircase.

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My goal was to make a big impact with a tiny budget, and I am absolutely thrilled with how it turned out.

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As a refresher, here is where this room started. Seven square feet of potential!

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Since it’s so small, it just made sense to go through paint that I already had to find something that would work rather than buy more. After trying out a few colors on the wall, I settled on the leftover paint from our guest bathroom renovation: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched at Lowe’s). I painted both the walls and the trim the same color and I love the effect that had.

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About a month ago, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night and built these cute little book ledges using scrap wood from our garage and stain we already had. This project was so fun (and free!) and I think they look great in this space!

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I really wanted to trick out this space as best I could and have some little secret surprises that you can only see if you’re inside. I’ve always pictured it as a Harry-Potter-style cupboard under the stairs, so I wanted to make it seem a little magical without actually being Harry Potter themed. One thing that kept coming back to me was stars on the ceiling – when I found these metallic gold constellation decals on Etsy, they really stood out to me as the perfect option!

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The set I bought came with nine constellations and then a bunch of extra stars. I may have gone full nerd and actually looked up online to see how each constellation should be oriented and where they appear in general relation to one another if you look outside in our specific geographic location…is my type-A showing? Once I figured out where I wanted everything, these decals were super quick and easy to apply!

Another thing I’ve always wanted to do in here is make a chalkboard wall – the triangular wall above the door was the perfect space for it. A friend of mine had some chalkboard paint she was willing to let me use so I didn’t have to buy another jar and I picked it up off her porch. I primed and painted 2 coats and voila!

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Justin used a scrap piece of wood and a router to create a ledge for chalk to sit above the door frame and it worked perfectly. We initially thought we’d have to glue it to the frame but he made the wall-to-wall size so precise that we were able to just push it in and it’s very securely wedged.

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The last thing this space really needed was a light source. There is no plug and we didn’t want to spend the money to hardwire lighting, so I came up with a plan for a DIY sconce using a 79 cent plastic bowl, scrap wood, black spray paint, and a puck light. Justin and I (ok, mostly Justin haha) created this in another DIY Date Night – it turned out so well and works perfectly for providing a little light to read or play.

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Such a big difference just having a light source!

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I wanted the space to feel cozy and comfortable, so I finished it off with a microfiber floor mat that had a little extra squishy padding and a cute textured pillow that was 30% off at Target.

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Because of all the DIY projects using leftover materials from other rooms and projects, the total cost of this entire room makeover was right at $75. I’m so pleased with what a huge difference it makes and imagine our kids will spend many hours entertained in this space!

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Sources

Wall Color: Benjamin Moore Smoky Mountain (color matched at Lowe’s)

Chalkboard Paint: Benjamin Moore Chalkboard Latex Paint

DIY Bookshelves: Tutorial here

Constellation Decals

Pillow

Floor Mat

 

 

Plans for our “Secret” Nook

I’ve been itching for a project.

We’re in the sixth week of quarantine, and I’m starting to get really antsy. Not to mention, all this extra time spent at home translates to having lots of extra time to look around and dream up things I’d like to do to our house. I’ve decided to join up with the One Room Challenge starting May 7 and tackle a more involved, yet still fairly low-budget room renovation (stay tuned for more details soon!) but in the meantime, I found myself in need of a smaller project.

I’ve already finished a few other projects in this time of quarantine: first with a simple basement refresh, then with a freshly painted garage landing with a really special purpose, and finally with a sweet scalloped accent wall in the nursery. It feels so satisfying to get a quick project done and see how a little work can make a big difference in improving a space!

I’m really motivated to finish one more project before the One Room Challenge so for the next 12 days, I’m focusing my efforts on the tiniest room of our house – a little Harry Potter-style cupboard under the stairs.

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Since the first time we looked at this house, I knew I wanted to use this unique little closet as a fun nook for our kids to play in. Even though the door is by no means hidden under the stairs, it feels like one of our home’s little secrets and I want to make it a really special hideout/play space.

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A few weeks ago, Justin and I had a DIY Date Night and made the two small floating bookshelves as the first little update. I’ve had some ideas for this nook swirling in my mind for a while, but seeing the shelf project complete got me excited to do more and I started dedicating serious time to forming a plan. The “room” is just over 7 square feet but I want it to pack a serious punch. I initially thought I’d do a fun wallpaper, but I kept coming back to really wanting this room to feel like a secret. I want it to be full of unexpected surprises. I spent some time just sitting in there, imaging ways to add extra character and fun into such a small space. After thinking through different plans and letting them stew in my mind for a while, a couple ideas kept resounding loudly in my mind.

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I’ll be sharing the progress on this project over on my Instagram account, but I’ll leave you with a few hints for now:

  • One of the surprises involves this piece that I asked Justin to make for the space:

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  • The room itself may not be hidden, but there are some aspects of it you can’t see without going inside…

I’m excited to share this journey with you and hopefully have a fun reveal coming soon!

 

 

 

A Scalloped Accent Wall for the Nursery

Today I have a fun project reveal to share! It was kind of a spur-of-the-moment project and got completed about 24 hours after I decided to do it – an accent wall in Vi’s nursery!

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I’ve been struggling with what to do in this room for a while now. Since we didn’t find out Vi’s gender during my pregnancy, we decided to keep the nursery simple by painting it white. We knew we could always add color later. Well, it’s later. She’s almost 8 months old and still has white walls, a white crib, white artwork, white sheets…it’s boring and sterile and doesn’t give off cozy feelings. I’ve been itching to update it for a while and would love to add wallpaper or a fun wall treatment, but there are just too many uncertainties with the room’s future to do a big project. We don’t know if we’ll have a third baby someday. If we do, and it’s a girl, the girls will move to LJ’s room since it’s bigger and he will move in here. So why put a ton of money into a room that could potentially need to be re-done in 2-3 years? But also…why keep a room white and boring for 2-3 years just because I don’t know the future?

After I took this picture of Vi in her nursery on Wednesday afternoon I realized something: I don’t know the future, but I know what’s happening right now. And right now, this is my baby girl’s room. I don’t want to invest in more permanent changes, but I could still make a big impact with a small cosmetic change that didn’t take much time or money. I’ve was inspired by the walls Bre painted in her daughter’s room, so I decided right then and there to just go for it and paint a cute scalloped accent wall!

Indiana’s current stay-at-orders call for people to only leave their homes for essential travel, so I was determined to complete this project using only the materials that I already had. I had about 2/3 quart of paint leftover from the dresser changing table I recently re-purposed for my sister in law, so I decided to use that (Sherwin Williams Fading Rose in Satin) for the accent wall. Truthfully, it’s not the shade or sheen I would have chosen had I been able to go to the store and pick something out. However, I liked it well enough and knowing it would just be something to tide the room over for a couple years (if it stays Vi’s room, I’d love to wallpaper!) made it an easy decision to say yes to.

Here’s one last look at where the room started:

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I wanted the painted section to cover roughly 2/3 of the wall. Since the room has 8 foot ceilings, I kept things nice and simple by marking 5 feet up the wall. Once I had marked it in a few places, I used a level to draw a thin, straight pencil line the length of the wall.

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I placed painter’s tape just above the marked line so that paint would cover it, and I used the level again to verify that the taped line was straight across. I also taped out the side walls and baseboard.

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We just painted the room 9 months ago, so the walls were in pretty good shape, but there were a few small dents that needed to be repaired. I used patching plaster and a joint knife to fill in the dents and let it dry overnight.

In the morning, I lightly ran a sanding block over the places I patched to make sure everything was smooth and ran a damp microfiber cloth over the wall to make sure it was clean and dust-free.

I had our pack n play and Slumperpod set up in our bedroom so Vi had a place to sleep during the day. As soon as I put her down for her morning nap, I turned on LJ’s favorite show (currently, Blippi on Amazon Prime) and got to work. I trimmed out the wall with a 2 inch angled paintbrush and then filled in with a roller. I rolled out a quick second coat after Vi’s nap and just let her play with a few toys in the nursery crib next to me for that <10 minute task.

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As you can see from the various shades of drying paint above, I pulled off the painter’s tape as soon as I finished the second coat. I find this is key to the tape coming off easily and not sticking extra hard to the wall under dried paint.

While both my kids were up and playing nearby, I worked on deciding what to use to trace my scallops. Get ready for some super technical instructions…

I used a ruler to draw two straight lines on the back of the large paper that came in an Ikea frame, and tested out two different plastic lids from our recycling bin to see what size scallop I liked best. Ha!

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I decided I liked the slightly bigger look, so the sour cream lid was the winner! I used a mini level and painter’s tape to mark where I wanted to line up the lid with the painted line on the wall.

I managed to get both my kids down for a dual nap after lunch and started tracing out the scallops, being careful to make sure to line up the tape marks with the painted line.

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It almost worked out perfectly, but the last one was just a little bit too big for the remaining space. I went back to my Ikea frame paper and cut out one of the scallops so I could bend it at the edge – I barely had to bend it but I’m glad I took the extra step to make sure the pattern was consistent.

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Ideally, I would have used a small stiff paint brush to paint over the outlines (something like this) but I didn’t have one so I improvised and used a sponge makeup applicator!

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This worked pretty well for tracing the scallops, but it was a very tedious process.

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Once the outlines were done, I went back to my 2 inch paint brush to fill in the rest. After getting two coats on, the wall was done!

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Even though it’s not the exact color I would’ve chosen on my own, it did coordinate well with the things I already had for the room, and I definitely think it made it much cozier.

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This also inspired me to finally have Justin hang a shelf that has just been propped against the wall for months. He made this triangle shelf several years ago and I think it brings warmth to the space.

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All in all, including the time it took me to gather materials, prep the wall, and paint, I would say this project took about 4 hours of active, hands-on work time. And the best part is – it cost me $0 since I exclusively used items I already had on hand.  Not bad for a spur-of-the-moment project!

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If there is one thing this project reminds me of, it’s don’t wait. Don’t wait years to know for sure exactly how a room might be used – rooms will always be evolving! Don’t wait until you have the exact perfect tools on hand – what you already have might do the job just fine! Don’t wait until you have a room perfect before you deem it worthy of sharing – celebrate the progress! There are still things I want to do here. We’ll eventually need to replace the carpet and trim. I’m waiting on a fun piece of artwork from my sister’s studio to put up a gallery wall next to the closet. The room will keep changing as Vi grows (or as our family changes) so I’m going to continue to just celebrate each step we take in making our house a home. I fall more and more in love with it in each change we make!

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Welcome to your new room, sweet Vi!

My Favorite Wall in our Home

A couple months ago, I shared the initial progress on painting the staircase landing from our garage into our house, and as of today it is finally finished!

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This may sound like a weird project to focus on when the list of things I want to do in our house is so long, but I had special plans for the wall along the landing. I wanted to make it a place where we mark the heights of our kids as they grow up. I have always wanted to do this once we got to our “forever” home and as soon as we moved here I started looking for walls that might work for this. I decided that this wall is perfect: it’s out of the way, so it won’t contribute to the overall aesthetic of the house and I’m not worried someday I’ll want to change the paint color, but the garage entrance is the one we use everyday (or do when we’re not staying at home all day every day ha!) so it’s a wall we will see every time we come home. I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on the space since it is our garage, but I did want to spruce it up at least a little from where we started here:

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Dingy walls with tons of dings and nicks – I wanted a clean slate to start our measurements. What was supposed to be a very simple job of patching + painting walls turned into a little bit more of a project because once I painted the walls, I decided I also wanted to paint a fun color on the little door leading into our attic…

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…which led to me thinking “well with the walls and the door painted, now the stairs are looking pretty shabby” so I painted them as well. If you give a mouse a cookie, right?

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I also did a quick coat of gold spray paint to freshen up that little door handle. All of this was done with paint I already had leftover from other projects, which meant this project cost a grand total of $0. It took a lot longer than I anticipated, because I had to wait for warm enough weather to paint (tricky in March in Indiana). Eventually, I will finish the rest of the staircase leading down into the garage but I didn’t have enough paint and this project had already expanded enough at this point.

The walls were actually painted two months ago, so we were able to measure LJ in February. Honestly, the hardest part of this entire project was getting him to stand still enough against the wall to get an accurate measurement, ha!

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He loves pointing to his little mark and now that the date is also marked there, he loves to talk about the numbers he sees there too.

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I think we’ll measure Vi for the first time when she’s able to stand on her own. Eventually Justin and I will mark ourselves and I think it’d be fun to mark the heights of our dogs too. I don’t really have plans to measure ourselves on a rigid schedule, just maybe 2 or 3 times a year or when our kids hit growth spurts. I think this will be such a special way of documenting the life of our family in this home!

Someday, I may even expand it beyond family. My best friend growing up had a wall in her garage where her family marked their growing heights and they even had other friends mark their heights when they visited, which I think it a pretty awesome idea. Our wall is certainly big enough to have a section for other people, and I love the idea of possibly using it as a guest book of sorts. Can you imagine this wall someday with our kids growing up and all the people we’ve loved who’ve come through here and been part of our lives? For now, we’re keeping it just our family but that’s definitely something we may do in the future. We want our home to be well loved and I think this is just such a cool way of really making it “ours.”

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It may not look like much right now, but this wall is already my favorite in our entire house and I can’t wait to watch it change over the years. ❤

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Mindful Gray

Door Color: Sherwin Williams HGTV Oceanus

Stair/Railing Color: Sherwin Williams Urbane Bronze

 

Love for our 20 Year Old House

All this time at home over the past few weeks has me thinking a lot about our house.

I always thought I would live in an old house. I wanted the character, the charm, and the history that comes with old homes. I grew up in a farmhouse built in the mid 1800’s. My grandparents lived on a nearby farm (where Justin and I were married!) in a house that has now been in our family for over 100 years. My love for old homes runs deep!

But when Justin and I found our dream property, the house that came with it was not what I pictured for our forever home. 

Our house is 20 years old. Old enough to be dated, not old enough to be vintage. 😉 When we bought it, we had to look beyond the surface to envision our family here. It seemed like everywhere I looked were things that I wanted to change and it was a little overwhelming. But we could tell that the house had been well loved by the previous owners and I had a feeling that we could make this home our dream home.

I feel like homes built 20-30 years ago get a bad rap. The dated styles that scream “NINETIES” aren’t necessarily appealing and can be hard to look past. There’s lighting to update (just in the rooms pictured above, we have fluorescent kitchen lighting, boob lights [if you know, you know], and dated chandeliers), walls that I would love to freshen with paint, and an abundance of orange-y wood trim everywhere I look.

But if you can look beyond all that, homes built 20 years ago have so much potential and can be absolute gems. We have enjoyed slowly unlocking the potential of our home project by project since moving in last May.

Truthfully, even if we’re never able to change a single thing, I’m extremely grateful to have a home. Especially in the midst of this pandemic, having a safe space to socially distance is a blessing and privilege and I do not take that for granted. That being said, all this time at home does have me dreaming about a few of the updates I would love to make to the home, and makes me thankful for all the changes we’ve been able to complete so far.

Sometimes unlocking potential is is just a matter of re-imagining a room by removing window treatements, swapping out furniture and light fixtures, and changing up the walls like we did in our playroom.

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Sometimes it’s a full-blown gut job renovation to completely update a space like we did in our guest bathroom.

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And sometimes, it’s as simple as a little work, a fresh coat of paint, and shopping your own house to find extra decor to spruce up a dated space like I just did in our basement.

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I think it’s really important to love where you live. It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be brand new, it doesn’t have to be fancy . . . it should just be a place where you enjoy being. A haven from the outside world. When I think about our home, I want our house to be a beautiful, cozy place where my family feels safe and others feel welcome (when this social distance time is finally over!)

Our home will be the backdrop to my kid’s childhoods. It will be the setting for many of the sweetest times in our lives. Even though there is still a lot of work we want to do, we’re not waiting to make memories here. We are choosing to love where we live every single day while we enjoy the journey of uncovering its potential.

DIY Dare-a-thon Date Night

These days, finding ideas for an at-home date night are running a little thin. Justin and I love games and puzzles and have no shortage of them, but every once in a while it’s nice to do something else.

As I was scrolling Instagram yesterday, I noticed Angela Rose Home and Vintage Revivals are hosting a little DIY Dare-a-thon to help inspire people to get creative while social distancing. Their first challenge was to build something with scraps in your garage. I immediately thought this would be a fun date night for Justin and I, and the DIY Dare-a-thon Date Night (say that 5x fast ha!) was born.

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Deciding on a project was easy. We have a little nook under our stairs that we lovingly refer to as our Harry Potter closet. LJ loves to “hide” in there and now that we’re home so much, we’re spending a lot of time playing there. I eventually want to transform it into a magical little play space for our kids. One thing I’ve always envisioned doing is creating little ledges to store some books for our kids to read, and this seemed like the perfect little project for the dare-a-thon.

We put the kids down for bed, grabbed the baby monitor, and headed out to our garage/workshop. Since we couldn’t go anywhere to get supplies, we had to use what we had. Justin rounded up some scrap wood from past projects and we had two 1×3’s, a long 1×2, and a few 1×4’s.

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We decided to make two shelves: each shelf would be 21 inches long and would be made of a 1×2, 1×3, and 1×4. The 1×3 would form the base, with the 1×2 as the front lip and the 1×4 as the back. Since we were working with scraps, it wasn’t all the same kind of wood, but I figured the only thing that would really be visible was the very front, and the 1×2 was long enough to be used for both shelves so they would end up looking the same.

Justin got to work measuring each board and cutting them to 21 inches long with his miter saw.

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While he did that, I got to work sanding each piece with 80 grit sandpaper.

Once everything was cut to size and sanded, Justin used his kreg jig to create drill holes in each 1×4 and 1×3. Kreg jigs are easy to use and it kept us from visible nail/screw holes on the front of the finished project.

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We used square clamps to line up the boards perfectly, and then attached them with pocket hole screws.

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We first attached the 1×3 to the 1×2, then we attached the 1×4 to the 1×3.

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Here’s a glimpse at how everything attached.

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Once both shelves were assembled, Justin took some 120 grit sandpaper and a wood block to smooth over all the edges.

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It only took us about 90 minutes to go from a few pieces of scrap wood to two book ledges!

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Justin has a box of leftover stain from previous woodworking projects and after scrounging around, we found this lighter shade that was pretty close to my original vision.

We used a sponge brush to apply the stain and let it dry overnight.

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We talked about multiple ways to hang the shelves. We could have attached hooks, but I wanted the shelves to lay flush with the wall. We talked about notches on the back, but we wanted them to be sturdily attached to the wall so kids didn’t pull them off. We ultimately decided to just screw the 1×4 directly into the wall, knowing that books would cover the screws up. Before leaving for work this morning, Justin attached the shelves to the wall.

I put some of our favorite books on the shelves, and the project was complete!

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I am still dreaming of ways to transform this tiny space, but this was a great first step. I picture lots of cozy reading happening in here!

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Overall, this was a great experience! Justin and I had a fun time planning what to do and working together to complete the shelves. It was nice quality time and we both feel really good about the finished project. The project itself was relatively easy, quick to execute, and didn’t cost us any money. Plus we took our first step towards improving this little nook and I’m really happy with it! I can definitely see more DIY Date Nights in our future 🙂