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?

Going for BOLD in the Kids’ Bathroom

The kids’ bathroom got a little makeover recently and I am loving its new bold, fun look!

A Moody Bathroom Renovation

When we first moved in, there were glass shower doors on the tub, which we quickly removed and replaced with a shower curtain so we’d have an easier time bathing the kids. Other than that very small update, we hadn’t put any time and attention into this space since we moved in. Here’s what it looked like before:

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This project came on a whim. When I did my $0 bathroom makeover, I shopped my house and took the mirror from the kids’ bathroom. My intention was to just swap in another mirror, but when I took the original one down, I discovered a huge hole behind it! The new mirror I planned to put up was not the right size and shape to cover it so I asked Justin to just patch the hole and we’d just live with the patch job for a while.

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Justin came in with patching plaster and started to look around at all the walls in the bathroom. He commented they were all in rough shape – lots and lots of nicks, dings, holes, etc. His parents were visiting so we decided he should just patch all the walls and we’d quick paint the room since we had help with the kids. Well, one thing led to another and before we knew it, we decided to just update the entire room!

The kids’ bathroom is windowless and small, so I thought it would be the perfect opportunity to try out a bold paint color. We already had the botanical shower curtain from years ago so I used that as a starting point for finding the right color. I chose Sherwin Williams Cordial in Eggshell and painted the walls, ceilings, trim, and door. Justin was pretty skeptical about my painting the ceiling but it was a fun step away from convention and I love how it turned out! The color is moody and deep and just so dreamy.

A Moody Bathroom for Kids

The previous owners had left the black over-the-toilet storage shelf. While we’ve appreciated having the extra storage since the vanity is only 20 inches, the shelf was not very stable and could easily be knocked over by one of our kids. We decided to remove it and come up with a different storage solution.

Remember way back when we remodeled our guest bathroom? There was a half wall with a long board on top that we had to replace when we added trim to the wall. The original board has been in our garage ever since and we decided to use it here to make a couple new shelves. Justin planed the board down to size, sanded off all the previous stain, and put a few layers of clear polyurethane on top to seal it. We got these brackets and attached the boards to them and voila – two gorgeous shelves!

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I love that they are simple and modern and the light wood contrasts nicely with the dark paint color. I wanted the shelves to be both beautiful and functional so I shopped my home for picture frames and decor and found a few pretty storage solutions for keeping the practical items we reach for often.

We also swapped out the light fixture for this modern brass sconce and it made a huge difference! The mirror was a last minute decision – I planned to use an oval mirror to break up all the lines of the sconce and shelves. Once the oval mirror was up though it just did not feel right at all. This rectangular mirror with rounded edges provided the perfect balance of lines and curves!

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There used to be a very small towel bar to the right of the shower, but it felt much more practical to install a few hooks to hang multiple towels instead of just one. I chose three gold bath hooks – both because three felt right for the space and also because I’m subtly hinting to Justin that we should have another baby šŸ˜‰ šŸ˜‰ šŸ˜‰

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LJ saw me scrolling through options for artwork above the hooks and he got really excited about this butterfly, so it felt like the perfect print to choose. I love online print shops – you buy your print, the file gets emailed to you, then you can print it off wherever you want! It allows me to have a nice variety of quality prints without spending a ton of money.

I’m so happy with how this bathroom turned out! I wanted something that felt appropriate for a children’s bathroom without screaming “I AM A CHILD’S BATHROOM” if that makes sense. Now it feels fun and unique and just right for kids while still fitting the style of the rest of our house. I love it!

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Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Cordial in Eggshell

Wall Sconce

Mirror

Black Shelf Brackets

Gold Bath Towel Hooks

Black Frame

Black and White Butterfly Print

Hand Towel

Black Wire Storage Basket

 

 

Shopping My Home

It feels like with all my little room renovations lately, I’ve been shopping my home a lot. It’s one of my favorite ways to finish off a space and today I thought it’d be fun to talk about some of the ways I’ve shopped my home over the past year.

Shopping Your Home for Decor

When I shop my home, I mean just that: instead of going to a store to buy something new, I walk around my house and look at what I already have. It’s more than rearranging; it’s intentionally trying to see the items I own in a fresh new way.

For example, when we lived at our last house, I bought a pineapple picture (for several reasons, pineapples are special to me) to go above a small cabinet in our living room. It hung here for a few years and I loved both items styled this way – you can see it in the right corner of this picture from our previous listing.

When we moved to our new house, we placed this cabinet at the top of our stairs and I just did the same thing I had always done and kept the same picture above it. It started to feel like a bit of a rut. When you get so used to seeing things, it kind of makes them disappear. This pineapple picture used to make me smile butĀ  now I barely noticed it because it was always there. Does that make sense?

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When it came to finishing the basement kitchen, I wanted to created an sort of gallery-wall looking stacked art ledge. There was a lot of blank space to work with, and I knew I needed at least one large piece for the scale to feel right. I looked around my house and grabbed the pineapple print just to check the size and low and behold – IĀ lovedĀ it there! Although I’ve had it for years, it feels totally fresh and new seeing it in a different spot. It works so perfectly in this space and I would have never known if I hadn’t shopped my house. Once again, it makes me happy every time I see it!

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

And speaking of the basement kitchen, when it came time to decorate, instead of buying all new things, I shopped my house for some functional decor items. One of my favorite little areas is where I now keep this wooden cutting board that Justin and I bought on our trip to Italy. I also pulled out a marble rolling pin that I got several years ago and use to make pie crust (you can stick it in the freezer so it gets really cold and helps the crust stay cool). It had just been stored in a cabinet but when I saw it while shopping my house, it felt like a great opportunity to put it on display. Both were practical things I had already and they feel extra special now.

$1500 Kitchen Renovation!

Shopping your house not only works for decor but can also work for furniture. In our last house, we had a small foyer area by our stairs. I bought a narrow table to use in that space and it worked really well as a little entryway console.

When we renovated our guest room, the layout of the room provided some challenges. We could not fit a dresser but I at least wanted a small vanity area for guests to sit and get ready.Ā  I looked into buying a narrow vanity but decided to shop my own house first and see if there was anything I could possibly use in the meantime. I saw this console table and thought…hmmm. Maybe? I took it down to the guest room and oh my gosh – it is JUST what I needed for the space! No need to buy a thing.

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I would never have thought to use an entryway console table as a vanity, but it works!

When it came to my $0 bathroom makeover, I shopped my home to find hardware AND a mirror to swap from one bathroom to another. I spray painted the mirror gold and the handles matte black and all of the sudden they feel new and lux in this space.

A $0 Bathroom Makeover
Vanity hardware from our half bathroom, mirror from our kids’ bathroom.

Another area where I’m constantly shopping my house is with artwork. A unique postcard that a friend sent me on her trip to Switzerland years ago is now on display in our guest room.

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A precious recipe written by my great-great grandmother (and namesake!) that was previously in storage is now a very meaningful piece of artwork in my basement kitchen.

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A little fox that my sister drew as a handmade card with her baby shower gift when I was pregnant with LJ is now a fun little part of our playroom’s gallery wall.

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Random scribbles that LJ drew one day became an “abstract” piece of art in Vi’s bedroom when I couldn’t find the right piece to finish her gallery wall.

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Shopping your home saves money (free decor!) and can give new life to old items, whether they’re repurposed for a totally new use, given a minor face lift to modernize, or simply brought out of storage and put on display. The next time you’re looking for a piece to go somewhere in your house, before you head to the store, try walking around your house first. Open cabinets, look through drawers, analyze existing decor in other rooms. Take a critical look at what you already have – you might just find that you already have the perfect something!

Our “New” Dining Table + Chairs!

Justin and I have always envisioned our basement as a space for guests and entertaining. We’ve been slowly addressing various areas of the basement (like our guest bedroom and bathroom, living area, kitchen, and entryway) but the space in between the living space and the kitchen has been neglected . . . until now! We’ve both been putting in work to create a dining area for food + game nights and it’s finally finished!

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As a refresher, up until a few weeks ago, it looked like this:

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I still cringe looking at this combination workout + collection area for things to sell/donate right in the middle of the basement. It was time for a change!

Justin actually made the table entirely out of old scrap wood that the previous owners of our home left behind when they moved out. He worked so hard on it and I’m so impressed – not only is it gorgeous and full of character but it perfectly fits our needs. I was able to give him the exact dimensions I wanted: large enough for 6-8 people to sit comfortably and linger over good food or a game night.Ā  It’s perfect!

Budget Dining Room Transformation-5

The chairs were an absolute steal. I had been scouring websites for inexpensive dining chairs but I just couldn’t find anything under $60 per chair that fit our needs (not a barstool or folding chair) and I was not about to spend $300-400 on six chairs for a free table. I started browsing Facebook marketplace and one day I came across these chairs being sold for $2 a chair and I jumped on them! They obviously needed some TLC but I loved their size and shape and knew with a little work they could shine.

Chairs

My preference would have been to reupholster them, and we could have reupholstered the seats no problem, but the backs were attached in a more complicated way that would have been really difficult to reupholster well. So I started looking at other options and discovered a fabric and vinyl spray paint that I decided to give a try. The nice thing about $2 chairs is that it makes you willing to try a few things that you maybe wouldn’t risk on a more expensive piece.

Chairs w Painted Upholstery

The fabric and vinyl spray paint worked…okay. It took 3 light coats to cover the fabric, and while it’s not perfect, it does look a lot better. I actually think the black over the old striped and floral print makes it look like a cool Victorian-y fabric now. But the spray paint did cause the fabric to have a scratchier feel, which is not ideal. I think I will eventually get some thin black seat covers to help improve the feel of the seat (even if the fabric wasn’t scratchy, I would want to do this because there is very little cushion in the seat’s upholstery and they’re not super comfortable to sit in for a long time).

Chairs with Table

After spray painting the seats, I decided I needed to also paint the wood black. I actually really liked the look of dark upholstery and lighter stain, but I did not like it for this particular space. It just didn’t work with all the other wood tones of the table, half wall ledge, and other wood tones throughout the open concept basement. I tried out two different methods for changing the wood look: spray paint and Polyshades. Polyshades is a product I hadn’t heard of before, but it’s essentially a stain that you can apply over another stain to achieve a different look without having to sand off all the previous stain. I tested both on an inconspicuous part of the chair and found that spray paint’s coverage was much better. Polyshades would be an excellent candidate over raw wood or stained wood that isn’t glossy, but these chairs were glossy and it just didn’t look that great. I could have sanded the chairs down to remove all the gloss, but since every surface of the chairs was rounded, it just felt like a lot of work ha. I’m all about keeping things simple!

I lightly sanded each chair with a piece of sandpaper, taped off the fabric seats, and then applied black spray paint in a satin finish using repetitive light strokes. It took just about 3 full cans of spray paint to cover all six chairs.Ā  Then all I needed to do was wait for them to dry and bring them inside!

Budget Dining Room Transformation-2

The chairs are definitely not perfect, but I think they work really well in this space and I love their look. And the total cost for this project was under $50, meaning this set of 6 chairs cost less than just oneĀ brand new chair in all the places I was looking beforehand. Win win!

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I finished out this little dining area by shopping my home for decor, although I did buy one new thing for it: that gorgeous arched mirror in the corner. It was another Facebook marketplace find – a brand new (still in the original packaging!) Project 62 arched black mirror for $30?? Definite score.

Overall I’m so happy with this space and how it makes the room flow from the lounge area to the dining space to the kitchen. It feels just right!

Sources

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray

Chairs: $2 x 6 = $12

Fabric and Vinyl Spray Paint: $18.60 (total for 3 cans)

Black Spray Paint: $19.20 (total for 3 cans)

Total cost of chair project: $49.80

One Room Challenge Week Three: The Great Cabinet Color Debate

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

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

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

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

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

ORC Week3-3

Rock Bottom from HGTV by Sherwin Williams.

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

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

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

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

Now on to the great counter top debate…stay tuned. šŸ˜‰

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

One Room Challenge Week 2: Updating Tile Floors with Paint

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

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Here’s a reminder of where this kitchen started:

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And here is what it looks like right now:

Kitchen

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

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

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

Kitchen-3

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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.

Secret Nook 2

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 orientedĀ andĀ 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

 

 

A Scalloped Accent Wall for the Nursery

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Welcome to your new room, sweet Vi!

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 šŸ™‚

Easy DIY Basement Updates

With all this extra time at home, I’ve been itching for a home project to focus on. I didn’t want a huge renovation project right now, just something to stay busy and distract myself from all the stress and anxiety going on. After talking with Justin about a few smaller project options, I settled on sprucing up the basement, particularly the TV/den area.

Here’s where we started:

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Pretty lackluster, huh?

Our basement was one of the big selling points of the house when we first bought it: I think it was built with the idea of being an in-law living area because in addition to having the guest bedroom and bathroom, it also has a large multipurpose space with a full kitchen. It has great potential and we see this as a perfect space for entertaining and a great recreation space for our family as our kids get older, but it was painted brown and just seemed a bit dingy and dated. Since moving in, we haven’t really focused on it very much other than to put in some furniture and other random things that didn’t go anywhere else (like our treadmill ha!) or to store piles of things I’m decluttering.Ā  Now that the guest suite renovation is finished, I wanted to focus on freshening up the rest of the level.

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We didn’t have the budget to do much and social distancing prevented me from going out and getting a ton of things anyways, but I knew that a fresh coat of paint could work wonders. I settled on Sherwin Williams Repose Gray because I painted the guest bedroom trim this color (tinted at 75%) so I knew it would tie the two spaces together and it’s a nice versatile greige (gray+beige) that works really well in an open-concept space. Justin tucked up all the surround sound speakers into the ceiling for now (we aren’t currently using them but might someday) and I got to work!

All I planned to do for now was paint; however, once I started priming the walls and reached the half-wall where our foundation lies, I knew I wanted to also do a small update here too. I actually don’t mind the wall itself and actually like having a ledge to put plants, artwork, etc. What I minded was the dated trim on either side of the ledge – I wanted a simple, clean look and decided to try to remove the trim.

I recruited Justin’s help, and he used a small crowbar to pry off the old trim.

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The wall behind the trim wasn’t in great shape. In many places, there were large gaps between the walls and the board on top of the ledge. We didn’t want to replace the ledge board (because, $$$!) but I believed we could get creative and work with what we had.

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First up, Justin took plasting patcher we already had and patched as much of the wall as he could. He used a putty knife to smooth down the plaster and let it dry overnight. There were a few areas where the wall was so bad that he needed to patch a few layers. Once everything was dry the following day, he took a sanding block and sanded all the areas smooth.

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The pictures above are just one small portion of the wall, but we did this for the whole length of the wall.

There were still gaps between the wall and the board. I knew I could caulk them, but some of the gaps were really big and I didn’t want to waste a ton of caulk. I bought this caulk backer rope and it was the perfect solution! It filled in the gaps and allowed me to just caulk over top. I just squished the rope in there and cut it to the correct length with scissors. In some areas, I had to use 2-3 layers of rope because the gap was so deep – imagine how much caulk that would take! This was a really great way to save a ton of time and money.

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I used the filler in all the gaps on both edges of the board and then caulked over it with a paintable silicone caulk. We already had the caulk gun and one tube of caulk, but I did end up needing to buy one more tube of caulk because the other one was already halfway used up. I gently smoothed over the caulk with a wet paper towel to ensure it had a nice, even finish.

Look at that difference! From freshly ripped off trim, to a patched and sanded wall with caulk filler, to a caulked gap, ready to be painted!

I needed to wait overnight to let the caulk dry because I had to use so much of it in some areas. The next day, I was able to finally paint primer + 2 coats of repose gray to finish the project!

It’s certainly not perfect, but I think it looks 100x better. I love the clean lines and simple look of the ledge now!

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I didn’t want to spend any money on decor, so I decided to shop my house for frames, plants, and other decor to put some finishing touches on the space. (Psst – if you’re one of my very few OG blog readers, you might recognize that “W” as our wedding guest book!)

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I follow a few other DIY bloggers and home designers and sometimes it seems like many people wait until a room is 100% DONE to post the “final” picture. But I don’t want to wait to celebrate this progress. This room is far from done and I still have plans for this space. Eventually we want to replace baseboards and window trim and get new carpet throughout. I’d love to update the side table and lamp and find a new place for the treadmill still hanging out behind the couch. Our TV is still on a slightly bent folding table and we plan to mount it and have a nicer console underneath. But for now, I’m practicing contentment and celebrating the progress that has been made.

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The cost of this project was pretty minimal. I spent around $100 on paint + primer and about $13 on the extra tube of caulk + caulk filler . Other than that, I already had all the supplies needed and I shopped my own house for decor. It just took some time and work . . . and strategically placed decor like picture frames hiding unused wires and internet jacks and a plant in a basket hiding the lamp cord. The space is definitely improved and I love the simple but significant transformation!

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SourcesĀ 

Primer: Kilz 2

Paint: Sherwin Williams Repose Gray in Eggshell

Patching Plaster

Putty Knife (similar)

Caulk Backer

Caulk

Sanding Block (similar)