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:

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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! ūüôā 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.

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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 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

 

 

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 ūüôā

One week and $50 goes a long way

Before I start today’s blog post, I want to acknowledge the strange days that we are currently living in. In the span of a week, it seems like COVID-19 has taken over our thoughts, actions, lives in a way that none of us saw coming. On the one hand, it feels strange to post lighthearted, normal posts. On the other hand, I think normalcy is very much needed in whatever ways we can have it right now. I have made the decision to continue blogging and posting about our life, what I’m reading, our family, our home projects, etc. because it provides something for me to do and a much needed mental distraction while we socially distance ourselves at home.

I really enjoy uncovering potential in things. I like to find something that the world overlooks and re-purpose it into something beautiful and unique. It’s not only a great way to save some resources and give new life to an item but it’s also typically less expensive than buying something brand new.

For each of my children, I have taken an old, inexpensive dresser and fixed it up to use as a changing table/dresser combo for their nurseries (Vi’s is on the left and LJ’s is on the right).

When my brother and sister-in-law announced that they were expecting a baby, I offered to fix up a dresser for her nursery as my gift to them. They accepted and I began the hunt for a good dresser to fix up.

It took longer than I expected to find a dresser for the project. I searched Craiglist, Marketplace, thrift stores, and kept coming up empty. Many dressers weren’t the right size (too narrow to fit a changing pad, or too high to be able to change a baby) and many that were the right size were too expensive (LJ’s dresser was found for $30 and Vi’s for $10, so I knew it was possible and didn’t want to shell out $70-100 for a dresser I was going to fix up anyways).

Finally, I found this gem on Facebook marketplace and negotiated the price down to $15.

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Justin thought I was absolutely crazy for bringing this thing home, and honestly, I don’t blame him. The veneer was pretty ugly and there were scratches and chips all over the place. One side had pretty significant damage and pieces came off when we were loading and unloading it from the vehicle. But I just¬†knew¬†I could make it shine!

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By the time I got this piece and had time to work on it, there was only one week until the shower. I love a good challenge, so I got to work with lots of enthusiasm. First things first, I removed the hardware, pulled out all the drawers, and sanded the veneer to smooth out as many scratches and chips as I could.

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It quickly became obvious that the super damaged side was beyond repair, so Justin ripped it off entirely and I just sanded down the frame to prepare it for a new piece of plywood.

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The other side of the dresser only had minor damage, and I decided to try a few methods to repair the damage instead of replace the entire side. I took a utility knife and cut out the damaged pieces to make a clean line, and then my plan was to take a strip of veneer from the damaged side we ripped off to use as a patch. The problem was, the veneer was glued down to the other side in such a way that it didn’t peel easily. I could only peel off small pieces at a time and it took a long time to haphazardly patch. I started with just once section and waited to see how it all dried and sanded.

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Unfortunately, I wasn’t satisfied with it when it was sanded and dried so I decided to take out the patched veneer and try something else. After looking at a few various options, I decided to try Kwik Wood.

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This stuff worked like a dream! You knead a small amount of putty and then fit it to the space. It dries super hard and is sandable and paintable!

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I know I know, this still looks super ugly. But it FELT super smooth and I knew it would look so much better painted anyways.

The next step was to prime everything and let it dry. We are fortunate to have a room in our garage devoted to painting (the previous owners fixed up cars and had a room built specifically to paint them).

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Justin had plywood leftover from a previous project and he cut down a piece to replace the damaged side of the dresser.

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We used wood glue to attach the plywood to the dresser frame and Justin also put a small nail in each corner for extra durability.

Once the side was dry, I sanded the edges and primed the plywood as well. Then the whole dresser got two coats of paint (my sister-in-law chose “Fading Rose” by Sherwin Williams).

I originally thought I would replace the hardware, but decided instead to spray paint the existing hardware in a metallic gold to give it a fresh, like-new look. The hardware was so unique and I thought it really gave a cool look to the dresser!

I’m SO happy with how the dresser turned out!

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Justin and I worried that maybe the side with plywood would obviously look different, but it didn’t AT. ALL. In fact, it turned out so well, that I wish I would have just done that to both sides. The patched side turned out well, but you could slightly tell where the patched areas were. Cutting the plywood and attaching it took a fraction of the time as patching and repairing the other side and actually looked better in the end.

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I’m so glad I kept the original hardware – it gives such a unique look to the dresser!

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The dresser is on wheels and if I had a little more time¬† to put into the project, I think it would have been cool to replace the wheels with turned sofa legs. Maybe something like this? Still, overall I’m so happy with the end result and I hope they enjoy using it once my little niece arrives!

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Sources

Dresser: Facebook Marketplace ($15)

Kwik Wood ($6.18)

Paint: Sherwin Williams Fading Rose in Satin ($20.92)

Spray Paint: Rustoleum Metallic Warm Gold ($6.40)

Sandpaper, paint brushes, plywood, primer: Already owned

Total Project Cost: $48.50

New and Improved Playroom

As many of you know, we moved to a new house in May. The house originally had two eating areas: a large but casual space off the kitchen and a formal dining room. I knew from the get-go that I wanted to convert the formal dining room into a playroom. It’s a great size and there is a large cased opening into the living room so it’s easy to keep an eye on what’s going on in there. It was the first room we decided to put some time and energy into updating since it gets used every single day and all the changes we wanted to make were cosmetic and pretty straightforward and budget-friendly. Today I’m going to share a bit about what we did to update the space for use in our daily lives.

Here’s what the space looked like when we first moved in:

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It didn’t exactly scream “fun room for kids to hang out” huh? I was itching to brighten the room up with paint, but it unfortunately wasn’t as easy as grabbing a brush. The previous homeowners had painted the walls with a textured paint (we think they may have mixed sand in with the paint to create a texture because it was very uneven on the walls). This made the walls look dingy even after they had been cleaned. Before we could paint, we needed to remove the texture. There were a few ways to go about this but we ended up just taking an oscillating sander and buffing the wall smooth.

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Justin testing out whether the sander would work for this project.

This process was very time-consuming and created a lot of dust. We had a bag attached to the sander to catch dust, windows open and box fans going to encourage the dust to go outside, and we blocked off the room as best we could but dust still ended up traveling into adjacent rooms. The process of sanding took a few days because we did it in short spurts to avoid inhaling lots of dust (we did wear masks to help) and to give our arms a break, as this was a workout for them! We also had to spend quite a bit of time on each section to get things as smooth as we wanted. It felt like forever but when we finally finished the walls looked so much better!

We washed down the walls to remove lingering dust, patched little dings and holes and then it was time to paint! Because the previous paint was so dark we first went over the walls with a layer of primer and then two coats of Benjamin Moore paint in Greyhound. We only painted three walls because my plan for the remaining wall was to use a fun accent wallpaper. We did put a fresh coat of paint on the ceiling because it also looked a little dingy, and this made the room feel much brighter.

For the wallpaper, I wanted something fun, a little whimsical, yet not too crazy bold. I bought three rolls of Magnolia Home wallpaper in Pick-Up Sticks in blue. It was the perfect choice, although hanging was a bit of a challenge. The wallpaper is prepasted and (theoretically) easy enough to hang – you just spray it with water, let the water absorb for a few minutes, and then press it to the wall. It doesn’t dry immediately so you have a chance to slide it around a bit and make sure it’s lined up the way you want. The problem for us was, even after all that sanding, our wall still wasn’t perfectly smooth. This created some wrinkling and made things stressful and incredibly frustrating for Justin and I. There were also a few places where we couldn’t get the seams to line up perfectly because it would have made the pattern crooked and created really noticeable wrinkling so we had small gaps. Our solution to this was to fill in the seam gaps with a white paint marker after the wall was dry, which did help to mask the gap. It’s not a flawless wall, but thankfully the pattern is subtle enough that it’s hardly noticeable at all, especially now with furniture and art on it.

The final thing we did was remove the old light fixture. We had replaced the flush mount that was in our master bedroom with a ceiling fan, so I just updated the flush mount with some black spray paint and we moved it down to the playroom. I would have loved a new light but we were trying to keep the room budget-friendly so for now this was a good solution.

The room was finally finished and it was time to move in furniture! Justin made a bookcase for toy storage loosely following these plans¬†from Bless’er House. We bought inexpensive ready-to-assemble bookcases from a local company which he screwed together and used thin lattice board on the side fronts to create the look of a custom piece. I painted the shelves in Sherwin Williams Oceanus¬†(the previous owners fixed up cars and they had a perfect paint room already set up in the garage) and Justin topped the whole thing off with a long plank of stained oak. He finished by nailing thin strips around the plank to give it the look of a chunky butcher block-style top which I LOVE.

I adore how the piece turned out, but there were many snags along the way. The shelves didn’t hold paint well and required many coats (and will need subsequent touch-ups). One shelf was slightly bigger than the other three (even though they were the same style from the same company) which created measurement nightmares. The top plank was initially cut a few centimeters too short so it required Justin to cut notches in the trim pieces he used on the side to make it look flush. There were just a lot of little logistical things and the project had more headaches than we anticipated. We’d probably never do it again, but I’m glad we did it this once because it works perfectly in the space!

We got a super inexpensive futon from Aldi (anyone else love Aldi??) and finished off the room with a few plants, a colorful gallery wall using frames and mirrors I already had, and an oversized alphabet print from a local company. And with that, the room is done!

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I’m absolutely thrilled with it!

I love that the room has gone from dingy to bright and airy. LJ plays in it everyday and I can testify that while it’s cute (in my opinion ha!) and decorated, it’s also very kid-friendly and functional in our daily lives. It was the perfect first room to tackle in making this house into our home and I’m so happy with how it turned out!

Playroom 14Finished playroom 1

I can’t wait to continue to transform rooms throughout the house!

 

Final Baby Prep

10 days.

I can officially count down the days until baby comes on my fingers. Ahh!!

The nice thing about having to schedule a repeat c-section is that even if baby does decide to come early, there is a definite eviction date. Baby will no longer be in my belly after August 23 – I am just so excited to meet this little one!

I’ve shared before that it took quite a while for my nesting urges to kick in this time, but once they did, they¬†really¬†did. In the last two weeks, Justin and I have worked to transform an old dresser, paint the walls, set up a crib, and get some semblance of a nursery together. Whew! Now that we have the hospital bags ready¬†and a little nursery, I feel as prepared as I can be for baby to arrive!

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I kept the nursery preparations very simple for baby #2 for three big reasons. First, we kept LJ in a bassinet in our room for the first 8 weeks and plan to do the same with this baby. Because of this, the nursery really isn’t going to get used for the first two months of baby’s life. Second, since we did not find out the gender, I didn’t want to do too much decorating in advance. Once baby comes, I’ll be able to customize it a little better and actually hang things on the wall. And third, all baby NEEDS right away is a source of food and a place to sleep. Once we had that covered, I decided not to stress too much about anything else.

Today I thought I’d just share a little glimpse into what we did for the simplified nursery.

Enjoy!

Baby #2’s Simplified Nursery

So up until about two weeks ago, the nursery still looked like this:

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Brown walls, random furniture, and an air mattress because we had been using it as an extra guest bedroom. It doesn’t exactly scream “welcome, baby!” does it? I had at least started to sort some of our newborn clothes though ūüėČ

My #1 goal was to lighten up the room. I wanted something bright and airy, so after we primed the walls, for the first time in my life chose to paint walls white. Normally I’m not a fan of white walls, but since we didn’t know the gender, I decided to go this route this time. Eventually, I plan to make the wall behind the crib an accent wall of some kind. For now, simple, crisp, clean white will do.

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Next, I wanted to create a cute little dresser for the wall on the opposite side of the room to give a little color to the room. I found this fairly ugly dresser for $10 on Craigslist and knew I could transform it to just what I wanted. I enlisted Justin’s help (I was more of the visionary, he was more of the laborer ha!) and I’m so happy with how it turned out! We sanded it down, primed, two coats of paint (Sherwin Williams Green Tartan), and added some new hardware. Then Justin used dowel rods to create legs and give it a bit more height. I also had him add a stained board to the front because the piece of plywood that was there was very flimsy and cheap. Plus, I thought it gave a little more character. I love it now!

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Dresser: $10

New hardware: $18 total (including tax and shipping)

Paint: $13

Wood + dowel: $7

We had the primer, stain, and brushes already. So the total cost of this dresser was right under $50 total. Win!

A friend had an extra crib but it did not have the ability to adjust mattress height for a baby, so we put that crib in LJ’s room and moved his crib to the baby’s room. Another friend is done having babies and was ready to part with her glider. I added a simple piece of artwork that was previously in LJ’s nursery, hung blackout curtains in a shade of minty green that will complement pink or blue, and brought in our trusty sound machine and salt lamp for once baby is ready to sleep in the nursery. And done!

It’s definitely very simple, but I’m so happy we decided to freshen up the room and I cannot wait to see our little one in it so soon!

My Mom Uniform

Good morning!

Today I’m once again joining¬†Erika & Shay‘s monthly Let’s Look link-up (which will actually be tomorrow, I’m just posting a day early) and this month’s topic is your favorite “outfit of the day” or OOTD.¬†

If you’ve been around for a¬†long¬†time, like 5 years ago before my blog’s hiatus, you know that this space started out as a place to share lots of teacher outfits. My Instagram used to be exclusively dedicated to sharing my teacher ootd and I would share simple, everyday looks that were professional, comfortable, and affordable. The outfits are all still saved under my¬†closet archives¬†but here’s a little sampling of what my professional wardrobe used to be:

 

I loved mix-and-matching basic pieces in different ways – I loved little details like a fun ruffle, statement jewelry, or unique shoes and I enjoyed finding fun ways to layer. I still enjoy dressing up like this if I have the occasion to!

Now that I am no longer teaching and stay at home with LJ all day, it would be super easy to live in sweatpants, but I still try to get dressed every day. I don’t mean get dressed¬†up,¬†I mean just get dressed in anything other than the same old sweats.¬† It is literally JUST as easy to throw on a basic striped shirt as it is to throw on a sweatshirt, and it may seem silly but it affects my overall confidence and happiness. I’m way happier bumping into a friend in the grocery store if I’m wearing a “real” shirt. I’m way more confident kissing my husband when he comes home if I’m not in the same sweatpants I was wearing when he left for work in the morning. When I feel like I look even just a little bit put together, I feel better about myself and a happier, more confident Sarah is honestly a happier, more confident wife and mom.

All that being said, I don’t have the same about of time to piece together a daily outfit like I did when I was teaching and even if I did, there’s no real reason to go to that level of thought and effort. My days usually include pushing a stroller on a walk or running around my backyard or reading books on the floor so the heels have taken a leave of absence. Plus, many days I end up with yogurt on my pants or have a strawberry thrown at my shirt (thanks LJ) so I stick with basic, easy to clean clothes. I have a “mom uniform” of sorts that goes something like this: easy top in a classic pattern (stripes, plaid, etc), one piece of simple or statement jewelry, skinny jeans, and flats. It¬†maybe¬†takes an extra two minutes to pull these items from my closet instead of reaching for sweats, but the minimal amount of extra effort makes a huge difference.

All of those outfits were super easy to thrown on, and I felt so much happier and more confident heading out the door. And they are all still comfortable and easy to “mom” in!

Now do I also take the time to do full-on hair and make-up everyday? Heck no. I’m often in a messy bun with maybe a few swipes of bronzer and mascara. And of course there are days where LJ and I are in jammies and sweats all day long. But I really do try to put at least a little effort into getting dressed more often than not.

I also want to address that now that I’m pregnant, my wardrobe is reduced and comfort is the name of the game, but I still try to look put together. I’m rocking a comfy, simple top, skinny jeans, and my Converse most days.

Also, since it’s approaching summer, we’re outside playing a lot now so I’m often wearing some form of athleisure.

My favorite OOTD is one that is comfy, cute, and requires minimal thought and effort while still staying a step or two above my ratty college sweatshirt. By keeping a simple “mom uniform” in mind, it’s easy for me to feel put together every day.

What’s your standby, go-to outfit that makes you feel put together and confident?