An Ikea Hack for Vittsjo Shelves

On Monday I shared Justin’s work office reveal and without question the star of the show was his shelving unit! Today I’m sharing all the details about the hack that took these three Ikea shelves and kicked them up several notches.

We bought three of these Vittsjo shelves from Ikea. Initially I had hoped to use this double Vittsjo, which is a bit more cost-effective, but it was out of stock in my store. This ended up being a blessing because I actually love the look and scale of three even better! The units came with glass inserts to create the shelves, but I was inspired by the chunkier look that Kim and Scott from Yellow Brick Home gave their Vittsjo and we decided to create a similar look. (Note: If you’re interested in doing this hack for yourself, I’ve included a full list of all the materials we used at the bottom of this post!)

Once all three units were assembled, we lined them up against the wall and Justin took measurements of the total length and width of one shelf spanning all three units and sketched out an outline, making sure to include all the places we would need to make notches to accommodate the vertical posts.

Each shelf would have a length of 60″ and a width of 14″. We bought a sheet of 1/2″ plywood, which was enough to make three long shelves and three small pieces for the bottom shelf . The sheet was 4′ x 8′, so our first step was to cut it down to the correct length. It was a gorgeous day, so Justin wheeled his work table outside!

Justin planned to use his circular saw for cutting the plywood to length so after measuring and marking the 60″ length, he also measured and marked out exactly where the edge of the circular saw’s guide would be when it cut the length. We clamped down a piece of scrap wood with a straight edge right where the circular saw guide would run so that Justin would have a solid wall to keep the saw’s guide flush against. This ensured a super straight cut! He also tossed a couple of larger blocks of scrap wood on top to keep the guide wood firmly in place.

After taking this picture, I was in charge of holding the side of the plywood hanging off the work table (since the saw couldn’t be directly over the table or it would have cut into it) and catching the part getting cut off. We saved that excess piece to make the bottom shelf pieces later!

Once the sheet was cut to length, the next step was cutting the width of each shelf. We repeated the same process as before – measuring and marking the width (14″) and also making a mark where the edge of the circular saw guide would be.

Here’s a close-up of the two marks he made. Can you see the little mark right on the edge where the guide wood is placed? That is exactly where the edge of the circular saw will be when Justin cuts the shelf to length. The other pencil mark along the edge is marking where the saw blade will cut the shelf to the correct width.

We repeated this process two more times to create three shelves with a 14″ width.

Next up was marking and cutting out all the notches. Using the outline he had drawn with all the shelf measurements, Justin used his combination square to mark where each notch should go.

This step took the longest, but creating a precise outline of the notch was necessary so he would know exactly where to cut. We highly recommend double checking measurements! Justin initially measured to the wrong spot and the notch would have been off but I noticed it in time and we were able to correct it before cutting. Measure twice (or three times!), cut once!

To cut out the notches, Justin used his jigsaw. He first cut the two parallel lines coming in from the edge.

Before cutting the top line, he drilled a small hole near the top of the notch.

This hole served as a place to start the jigsaw for a more precise cut on the final line at the top of the notch.

Justin repeated this process for all the notches and then lightly sanded all the edges and corners with 120-grit sandpaper. We tested this shelf to make sure it fit on our Vittsjo units (it did!) and then this one served as a template to trace notches on the remaining two shelves.

Once all the shelves were cut and we made sure they all fit, I started applying this 1/2″ edge banding on all the exposed edges. This step is definitely optional if you like the look of the layers of plywood, but we used it for our DIY play kitchen and I liked the cleaner look that edge banding provided.

The edge banding has dried glue on the back that is activated by heat. I turned my iron on to the cotton setting (a pretty high heat – around 400 degrees), placed the banding glue-side down on the side of the plywood, and ran the iron over the banding.

I kept the iron moving the whole time, rubbing back and forth over the same small area for 4-5 seconds, working my way slowly down to the end.

When I got near the end, I used a scissors to snip the band right at the edge of the plywood, and continued ironing to seal the end.

The nice thing about edge banding is if you get a little off and your band is crooked or slipped a bit, you just run the iron over it again to heat up the glue and then you can slide it to adjust positioning or even totally take it off and re-apply. I think it’s a very beginner-friendly DIY trick to elevate the look of plywood!

The edge banding was slightly wider than the plywood so we got this edge banding trimmer to shave off the excess. We had to adjust the blades so it didn’t shave too much off and the tool itself required quite a bit of forearm strength to use so Justin handled this task. πŸ˜‰

Once all the edge banding was trimmed, Justin did a quick round of sanding with 220-grit sandpaper on his orbital sander to give the shelves a nice smooth finish. I wiped them down with a tack cloth . . .

. . . and proceeded to stain them. We used stain and polyurethane we already had on hand and I used foam brushes to apply one coat of stain and two coats of polyurethane to the shelves.

After letting them dry, I very lightly buffed by hand using 400-grit sandpaper. Then it was time to assemble them in their new home in Justin’s office and style them!

You’ll notice we also cut three individual pieces to fit the lowest shelf. These were much more straightforward than the other shelves because the Vittsjo units came with a piece of rectangular wood to fit in each bottom shelf and we decided to keep that recessed look rather than cut another shelf like the other three. Justin just traced the wood three times onto the excess plywood we had after cutting the other three shelves to length, cut out each rectangle, and I stained them. No funky cuts or edge banding required!

We are thrilled with the way the edge banding looks. It creates the look of a solid piece of wood instead of plywood and looks so streamlined!

One of the shelves holds Justin’s coffee maker and some drink options, so we’re glad we put two coats of polyurethane on top to help with durability in case of a spill.

The wood look also brings in a lot of warmth and contrast to a room that otherwise was pretty bland and sterile-looking. It also provides a great base for displaying a variety of pieces that reflect Justin’s personality and profession.

We’re so happy with the results of this Ikea hack! It gave the simple black shelves an elevated look full of character and was just what this space needed!

Materials Used (for a complete list of sources on the shelves, check out this post!)

-1/2 inch sheet of 4′ x 8′ plywood

-circular saw

-jigsaw

-drill

-measuring tape

-combination square

-sandpaper (we used 120 grit, 220 grit, and 400 grit)

1/2 inch edge banding

-steam iron

-scissors

-stain

-polyurethane

foam brushes

optional materials:

-clamps

-scrap wood with a straight edge

-orbital sander

edge band trimmers

Updating a Bedroom with a Geometric Accent Wall!

A friend of a friend reached out to me a couple weeks ago to ask if she could hire us to install a geometric accent wall in her main bedroom. They had already painted the walls in Sherwin Williams Peppercorn (a gorgeous moody gray!) but felt like the room needed a little something extra. She sent me an inspiration picture and after talking it over with Justin, we decided this sounded like a fun project to tackle together and agreed to do it.

This project took less than 24 hours, cost about $70 in materials, and was pretty easy to do. In other words, a quick, low-cost, relatively easy DIY project that was perfect for a Saturday!

Materials

1 1/2″ primed pine (we used 10 8′ boards)

painters tape

-miter saw

-nail gun + nails (we used 1 1/2″ nails)

spackling

combination square

-220 grit and 440 grit sandpaper

-six inch foam roller

-sawhorses

-paint

-optional: square layout tool; stud finder

On Friday afternoon, Justin and I went over to map out the pattern using painters tape (I chose tape with a width of 1.41″ so it would closely mimic the size of the 1.5″ trim). This served two purposes: it gave the homeowners a chance to make sure they liked the pattern and also helped us know exactly how much trim we need to complete the project.

We chose to use this 1 1/2″ primed pine, which comes in 8 foot lengths, so we created the pattern in a way that ensured no section was longer than 8 feet. We wanted to keep things as simple as possible by sticking to 90, 60, and 30 degree angles and we used this square layout tool to help place the first few pieces. While this tool was helpful in giving us a starting point for placing trim at the correct angle, once the first few pieces were taped down we saved some time and effort and eyeballed the rest of the trim placement. If you want to make your pattern super precise you can absolutely measure the angles for each taped piece but since this was just a guideline for us, we weren’t worried about precision.

We used an 8 foot piece as a guide for figuring out where we wanted each piece of trim to go, then placed the tape right along the side of the board for a nice straight line.

We started on the far right side of the room and created a triangle using the top right corner of the wall as the 90 degree angle, then built out the pattern from there.

Once the whole pattern was up on the wall, we got the homeowners’ approval and made a couple changes at their request. I wanted them to sit with it overnight so they had a chance to make sure they were totally happy with the pattern before we started since tape is way easier to change than installed trim.

At home that night, I used a six inch foam roller to paint two coats of Sherwin Williams Peppercorn in eggshell finish on the trim pieces and let them cure overnight.

On Saturday morning we loaded everything up and headed over to their house to install. We began with the long piece of trim stretching from the right corner of the wall to the baseboards. We knew this piece of trim would create a right triangle with the right wall and baseboard which made figuring out the angles pretty easy. I made a lovely diagram to help you visualize what I’m talking about πŸ˜‰

We knew the length of this trim was just shy of 8 feet, so Justin used his miter saw to trim what would be the “top” end at a 30 degree angle and the “bottom” end to a 60 degree angle, making sure the angles were pointed in the correct directions to line up with the wall and baseboard.

The tape was just a guideline so we were not stressed about lining things up exactly. Once both ends of the trim were cut to the correct angle, we just placed the trim flush against both the corner of the walls and the baseboard and Justin used his nail gun to attach it to the wall. It didn’t end up exactly where our taped line was, but it was pretty close!

We wanted as few nail holes as possible, so I used a stud finder to locate all the studs in the wall and placed a small piece of tape over each one so Justin could nail directly into studs for a secure hold with minimal nails.

We decided to install all the longest boards first and then go back and fill in with the shorter pieces of trim. We worked our way across the wall from right to left, building off of each board we installed. The picture below gives you a good idea of the “in progress” part – we removed the corresponding piece of tape prior to installing each piece of trim and rolled back the intersecting pieces so that they wouldn’t get in the way of install.

Installation wasn’t hard once you understood the general math we were working with. I’ll walk you through our process as we installed trim where the far right green tape is marking in the picture below.

We had already installed the longer trim it would intersect with, and that installed trim made a triangle with the wall and taped line as shown in my lovely drawing below.

We knew we had cut the top angle of the long trim at 30 degrees. We wanted the short trim piece to intersect with the long trim piece at a 90 degree angle. That left one angle, “x”, to figure out. The sum of the angles of a triangle is 180 degrees. 90+30=120, meaning the last angle would be 60 degrees. (It’s worth noting that we didn’t actually do calculations every time – we used 30, 60, and 90 degree angles for the entire wall so determining angles was easy!)

Justin used his miter saw to cut one end of a piece of trim to 60 degrees, intentionally keeping it longer than we needed.

He brought the trim back inside, placed the angled cut flush against the wall, and then used the combination square to ensure the new trim was intersecting the installed trim at a perfect 90 degree angle.

Once the trim was at the correct angle, he marked it right where it intersected the installed trim and cut it right on that line.

Once the length was cut at a straight angle, it fit perfectly in the intended space and Justin nailed it into the wall. That’s the general process we used with each piece of trim, although sometimes instead of a wall being one side of the ‘triangle,’ it was the ceiling or baseboard or another piece of trim.

While Justin focused on cutting down and installing the trim pieces, I visually checked each piece prior to install to make sure the pattern continued to look uniform.

I also followed behind him to fill in all the nail holes using this spackling.

I like using this product because it goes on pink and turns white as it dries. Usually I’ll just lightly sand it with my finger, but this time I put the spackling on a little thicker than normal. I waited until it was completely dry, then lightly sanded it smooth, first with a 220 grit sandpaper and then with a 440 grit sandpaper. I used a little piece of painters tape to create a shelf underneath each patched hole prior to sanding so the tape would catch a good amount of the dust from sanding.

I had thought we’d need to caulk each piece, but we ended up really liking the crisp lines that the trim created on the wall. Plus, the fact that Justin was nailing into studs as often as possible meant there was a nice tight fit with almost no gaps. I did caulk a couple places between the trim and the far walls where there was a little bit more of a gap. After all the holes were sanded and the caulk dried, I used my foam roller to do a quick once over on the whole thing.

And with that – we were done!

The new bed the homeowners chose was really heavy, so we offered to help them put it together before we left. It looks so awesome up against the wall!

We started taping out the pattern around 5:00 pm on Friday, and we were totally finished with the wall by 2:30 pm on Saturday. Quick, easy, low-cost, but big impact – I’m so glad we decided to take on this project!

Sources:

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Peppercorn

Ceiling Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Bed: Restoration Hardware

Creating a DIY Cookie Space!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that Justin and I have been helping our friend Amber with a very unique project: a cookie decorating space! We finally wrapped up the project yesterday and we are all thrilled with how it turned out!

Amber has a cookie business that she runs out of her house and as her business has grown, she has outgrown the ability to comfortably bake and decorate in her kitchen. She reached out to me a couple months ago for some help coming up with a layout in the little nook next to her kitchen that housed a table and chairs. Our goal was to create a large workspace for decorating cookies and also provide ample storage for all her decorating supplies.

She knew she wanted to use Ikea cabinets and after talking through potential layouts, we settled on using the back wall for storage and with a perpendicular counter to maximize workspace for decorating. I drew up three different options for storage layout and while we ended up having to veer a little from the plan because some cabinets weren’t in stock, here’s what we settled on:

I suggested using Ikea Sektion because that’s what I was familiar with from using them in our office renovation. The process of cabinet assembly and installation was very similar to our office cabinets. One extra challenge with this project was the carpet, which is softer and has more give than a solid floor and had to factor into things like where to install the cabinet suspension rail.

Another challenge was the fact that we planned to put a table in the middle of the cabinets – it made it a little trickier to ensure the cabinets were level with one another all the way across the wall, but Justin nailed it!

Once the rail was up and the cabinets were secured and level, Justin drove longer screws into the sides of the cabinets to attach them super securely to one another.

For the cabinet counter tops, we used an edge glued panel and Amber applied a couple coats of this black stain + polyurethane with a natural bristle brush.

We wanted the snuggest fit possible, so we chose to do the left countertop, then the table, then the right countertop. While I worked on installing all the cabinet doors, Justin took the panel, flipped it over, and cut it to length with a circular saw. He clamped down a 1×4 to create a guide for a nice straight cut, then installed the panel by screwing it to the cabinet from the bottom up.

The table was pretty straightforward. We used the same butcherblock countertop that we used for our basement kitchen renovation last summer. Amber purchased four turned table legs and Justin cut them down to the correct length so that the table would end up being flush with the countertop.

He used a kreg jig to create two pocket holes on each leg.

I marked where we wanted each leg (1.5″ from each edge of the butcherblock) and Amber’s husband helped hold the legs in place while Justin screwed each one into the butcherblock.

Since we didn’t want to the table to move from the countertop, Justin used two L brackets to attach the table directly to the wall.

Once the table was securely installed, he cut down the countertop for the cabinets on the right side (with a little help from Amber’s son). I ran a bead of clear silicone caulk along the edge of the cabinets to seal the slight crack between the counter and the wall.

Amber also wanted three floating shelves on the wall to provide storage for sprinkles. To easily mark where we needed to place the screws to hang the shelves, Amber used leftover frosting to place a dot right above the hole on the back of the shelf.

I placed painters tape approximately where each screw would go, then pressed each shelf into place on the wall, using a level to ensure it was just right.

This left a perfect little dot right where we needed to drill a hole for the anchor and screw. Very fitting to use frosting as a tool for a cookie space, huh? πŸ˜‰

The far left cabinet was purposely deeper because Amber wanted a space to store her printer. To save money by not having to move the nearby outlet, I suggested using this extension cord (which we have and love) and Justin used a circular drill bit to drill a hole in the back corner of the cabinet. We then ran the extension cord along the baseboard, under the cabinet, and up through the hole so she could easily plug in her printer. We also drilled a hole in the next shelf up so she could run her dehydrator’s cord down and plug it in as well.

While Justin worked on cutting down the toekick, I started installing the handles. We purchased this little hardware template tool for this project and it was a game changer! Amber wanted the lower cabinet handles to be horizontal, so once I determined the width between the holes on the handles, I could use the template to quickly determine exact placement, then just mark the holes using a sharpie and drill each hole.

No tedious measuring required, and all the handles look uniform. This template was WELL worth the money!

Amber stained the table with this leftover stain we had from a previous project and I applied a matte polyurethane on top with a foam brush while Justin filled in the pocket holes on each table using wood glue and kreg pocket hole plugs (which Amber later stained).

The last thing was the Ikea toekick, which Justin cut and installed after a few headaches with figuring out how to properly install the exposed sides under the table (and Vi’s supervision).

Overall, this space now does exactly what she needs it to: provides tons of functional and attractive storage (how cute are the sprinkle shelves!?) and creates a nice large workspace for decorating cookies.

Amber has already used the space multiple times and reports that it has been working out so well! We are so glad we got to help create a space that works better for her business and are excited to try some cookies that get decorated in the new space. πŸ˜‰

Sources:

Cabinets: Ikea Sektion

Toekick: Ikea

Handles

Butcherblock

Floating Shelves

Sleek Socket Extension Cord

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

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. πŸ˜‰

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? πŸ˜‰ 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. πŸ˜‰

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

One Room Challenge Week Three: Slow and Steady Progress

We’re another week in to the Fall One Room Challenge and since last week’s update a LOT has happened! And yet, nothing has been finished.

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We are very much in the messy middle of this project and if I’m being honest, it feels a little frustrating to not be able to check anything off our list. Our cabinet doors arrived and they are so pretty! But they’re still not painted or attached to the cabinet. We took our ugly fluorescent light down and our new fixture arrived! But it’s not installed yet so we just have wires hanging from the ceiling. We’ve started the window and door trim and I’m loving the new look! But we still need a couple final pieces of trim to complete each one. So many things are in progress and nothing is fully complete, but it feels like we’re nearly to the top of a steep hill and once we get there, we can roll down and everything will pick up speed.

The thing we really need to do in order to reach that hill top is finish all the planking. So much is waiting on that: installing the ceiling fixture, crown molding, window and door trim, baseboards, painting, etc. The planking needs to be done first before we can tackle anything else.

The reason this step is taking so long is because we’re covering all the walls and the ceiling and there’s a lot of measuring and troubleshooting involved. None of our walls are square, we have a bay window, and there are so many tricky little cuts involved.

Just look at the photo below. Between the three windows + trim and the bay window + all the angles on the wall and ceiling, you can see its a lot of precise measuring and cutting with each board used. We’re cutting out notches, figuring out angles, finagling wonky corners – it’s a time-consuming, meticulous process.

It’s also not really a one-person process. The walls are one thing, but the ceiling is absolutely a two person job. We’re using 12 foot planks and there’s just no way for one person to be able to hold the plank in place and nail everything at the same time. So I not only need Justin to be home to keep making progress, but we need our kids to be napping or have someone else watch them in order to work. Needless to say, we’re working with small, inconsistent windows of time to get things done.

This weekend, LJ is going to visit my parents so we’ll have some extra time when Vi’s napping to hopefully finish out the rest of this planking. From there, progress is really going to pick up so I have a feeling that next week’s check-in is going to be full of finished updates! I can’t wait!

Make sure to stop by the One Room Challenge blog to check out all the other projects in progress!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One Room Challenge Home Office Renovation

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

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

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

The Plans

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

-remove all existing beadboard

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

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

-replace window and door trim

-replace baseboards

-add crown molding

-PAINT!

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

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

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

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

Tackling DIY with Little Ones at home

If you’ve been following my blog for really any length of time, you know that I love a good DIY project. I often get asked how I have time to do these projects with small children around, and while I frequently use evenings after my kids are asleep, I also do quite a bit during the days. Today I thought I’d just talk about some of the ways I make this happen. I’m not going to pretend that these are the best ways or the only ways, but these are the things that work best for me personally in tackling DIY projects as a stay-at-home mama to two children under the age of three.

Dual Nap = Naptime Hustle!

Probably my biggest strategy is the “naptime hustle,” which just means that the moment my children are sleeping, I jump into project mode.

This has obviously varied a bit with the ages of my children (newborn sleep is a whole different ballgame!) but I have worked really hard to keep our daily routine as consistent as possible so both kids are used to napping at the same time each day. There’s a lot that I’m pretty relaxed about in motherhood but sleep is not one of them. We’re consistent with our routines, we’re consistent with the time, we’re consistent with being home in the afternoon (no afternoon playdates!) – I try everything I can to provide a solid foundation for my kids to nap well. If there is one day we are out of the routine, it’s not a big deal; however, that does mean that I make sure the next day is right back on track. For the most part, this has worked really well and my kids are both great nappers. Right now, they both go down around 1:00. Vi will sleep about 1.5-2 hours and LJ usually sleeps about 3-3.5 hours.

Screen Time is not the Enemy

I think sometimes screen time gets a bad rap and society makes us feel guilty for allowing any TV time, but there is no shame in my mama game to say TV has been a wonderful tool for us to use in moderation. When Vi goes down for her morning nap (usually about 9-10:30 or 11), I have no problem letting LJ watch a couple shows so I can have some time to work on a project. Justin and I both credit TV for actually helping him with language and learning – so many shows have value with teaching new words, showing how something works, teaching simple problem solving, or introducing concepts like letter sounds, counting, etc.

Do projects in small chunks

It’s almost never safe to just leave things out when I’m not working on them because my kids will inevitability get into the tools, paint, wood, screws, etc. Whenever possible, I try to break up a project in small chunks so that it’s easier to get the task completely done in my small work window and then quick clean up when I’m finished. It makes for smaller bursts of work at a time, but that adds up to help get a project finished.

Set up nearby activities

Before Vi was walking, I would often set her up in the pack n play next to wherever I was working on anything, DIY or otherwise. Sometimes LJ would want to join her in there and they’d play together -contained but nearby.

Now that she’s bigger, I’ll try to set up an activity in the next room that I can monitor. As I worked on putting together our Ikea cabinets for the office, I broke apart the box and gave LJ markers to draw on it right outside the room (the doors have glass so I could see) while Vi watched and played with the box. When I worked on the basement kitchen, I blocked off the couch area using boxes and end tables so the kids could play there while I painted cabinet doors on the other side. Neither child is old enough for unsupervised independent play longer than about two minutes so finding ways to partition them from the project while still keeping them nearby has been a big strategy for working while they’re awake.

Let them help!

In each project, I try to find at least one small thing that LJ can help with. This often means letting him help me paint a wall or use something simple like a screwdriver.

In my current project of working on the office, he was thrilled to get a small hammer and helped pound in a few tiny nails into the back of the cabinets. He may only be two but it’s teaching him responsibility, it’s encouraging him to have a sense of pride and ownership, and often, it helps satisfy his urge to meddle in the project, haha! When a project is forbidden, it just increases his curiosity to get involved. When he’s allowed to have a part in it, he’s happy and then will move on and go play with something else and leave my project alone. It’s a win for both of us!

And speaking of help . . .

Childcare is a huge help to me when I’m in the midst of a project. As a stay-at-home mama, every little bit of outside help makes a huge difference for me. LJ recently started preschool and is now gone for three hours two times a week. Since Vi usually naps during this time, it gives me a bonus naptime hustle. My parents live about an hour away and they have also been incredibly helpful to me with childcare. They like to take the kids for a day or two every once in a while and they’ve also come here to watch them so I can get things done. This is especially helpful when I’m in the middle of a large scale project like painting tile floors or kitchen cabinets and need blocks of time beyond what a naptime provides. Pre-pandemic I also hired a babysitter twice a month to come watch the kids for a few hours so I could get a little work done without interruptions.

Recognize other areas will slip

The reality is, when I’m in full-on project mode, other areas of my life often slip a bit. I don’t try to do everything, and my time gets prioritized differently. Our house isn’t as clean. I have bigger piles of laundry because I’m not doing it as frequently. I don’t have the free time to read. I can’t do it all, so I’ve had to just recognize that sometimes these seasons of projects mean other areas are a little more lax and that’s okay.

***

Of course there are seasons where DIY projects aren’t as feasible (looking at you again, newborn stage) but I truly believe that just because you have small children at home doesn’t mean you can’t tackle a project if you want to. Start with a simple job like spray painting some frames or swapping out hardware. When you start small, you learn to roll with the punches, find out what works best for you, your family, your daily schedules, and then you can work your way up to larger scale projects. DIY with small children around is not without its challenges, but it can be done and I’m cheering for you!

If you have finished a DIY project with small children around, what tips and tricks did you use to accomplish it?

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 orientedΒ andΒ 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