First Project of 2022: Leveling Up the Guest Room!

Almost exactly two years ago, we finished up the first renovation in our home: the guest room. Hosting friends and family is very important to us so we wanted to prioritize having a nice space for them to stay. We certainly did not anticipate that we were about to enter a global pandemic, but even though the room hasn’t gotten quite as much use over the past two years as we expected, we are still glad we decided to focus time and energy on renovating the space.

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I don’t really subscribe to the thought that a room is ever truly “finished” – our home is ever evolving and I even when a renovation is complete, I still enjoy making tweaks and leveling up a space over the years. I shared in the fall that I was wanting to do a little update to the plain white walls in the guest room by creating the look of wallpaper with a stencil; you can read all about the inspiration here and the progress here. In this post I debated between keeping it an accent wall or continuing around the whole room and for my first project of 2022 I’ve officially decided to continue it around the whole room.

I won’t lie, because I’m using so many different colors in the pattern, this is going to be a time consuming process. It’ll certainly take much longer than the laundry room stencil, which was one color and could be rolled on with a foam roller. With my work-from-home job plus my two small children keeping me pretty busy right now, I’m going to just be carving out time here and there to work on this when I can. I’m not going to put a timeline on it either – we don’t have any scheduled guests coming yet in 2022 so there’s no pressure at this point. I’m excited to see the space slowly transform!

There are a few other things I want to tweak and update in this space. For one, the boob light has got to go! This is something I didn’t change out in our original renovation and it’s definitely time for something new (one of my 2021 goals was to replace all the boob lights in the house and this is the last one remaining!) I’m also going to update the bedding (I regret choosing a comforter set with lots of decorative pillows – too impractical for guests!) and possibly add a bench at the foot of the bed. One of my 2022 goals is to update the flooring in this house, which includes the carpet here, although that likely won’t happen until later in the year.

I’ll be sharing some of the real-time progress on this project on Instagram, so be sure to follow along there if you want updates in the moment!

ORC Week Six: Laundry Room Shelving, Lighting, and More!

This week was a big week for progress in the laundry room! Shelving was built, lighting was installed, doors were finished – the room is really coming together and I am loving it.

And because it’s always fun to look back on how far we’ve come, here’s where that same view was six weeks ago:

Originally, I envisioned creating floating shelves from wall to wall, but as it came time to work on the shelves, I decided to pivot a bit.

Floating shelves are pretty time-consuming to make from scratch and I haven’t had as much time as I had hoped to work on this room lately. Plus, the more I thought about it, I realized that since this is just a phase one renovation (we still plan to fully gut and renovate this room and the adjacent bathroom to create a bigger laundry + mudroom in a few years), shelves with brackets would be easier, quicker, and less expensive. It just made more sense to keep this project simple!

Justin had a few extra 1 x 8 oak boards leftover from a previous project and they were the perfect width to create two shelves. Using our miter saw, I cut two boards down to fit wall to wall and then gave them a light sand with our orbital sander + 120 grit sandpaper.

I wiped them down with a tack cloth and stained them with a stain we already had. Once the stain dried, I used a foam brush to apply a layer of this polyurethane and boom – shelves were ready for install!

I purchased these black brackets and Justin installed them after work using his new laser level (this thing was SO handy and I know we’ll be using it many times in the future!) The whole project took maybe 3-4 hours of active work time start to finish. Simple, easy, and inexpensive – win, win, win. I am so thankful to have functional storage that looks great!

A few other things that happened this week: I finished painting all the doors and trim and Justin installed new matte black door hardware. It’s always surprising to me how small details like door hinges and levers can pack such a big punch!

We also finally updated the two boob lights. I wanted a recessed light for the ceiling above the hallway portion but the type of junction box that had been installed prevented my first two choices from working. I settled on this low profile light and we’re happy with it – it is inconspicuous enough that it sort of just fades into the ceiling and doesn’t take visual attention away from other elements of the room.

I mentioned last week that the initial light I wanted for above the washer and dryer was out of stock or backordered on several different sites, so I once again decided to pivot a bit. I really liked this light from Rejuvenation but I struggled to pick a color. It’s just so hard to know if the color you see on screen will translate to real life like you expect! At $229 . . . I wanted to be very sure I liked the light. Then yesterday evening, I was walking through Lowe’s and happened to see this light out of the corner of my eye. I was immediately inspired to do a little DIY upgrade and create the look I wanted for less.

I purchased the light and a can of this spray paint. I use painter’s tape to block off the lightbulb hole of the dome and set it down flat on a large piece of cardboard. I sprayed several light coats of the spray paint until I had even coverage and let it dry. Justin installed the mount and I screwed on the dome.

The Rejuvenation light was $229 and this one was $59. Add in tax and the cost of spray paint, and this light ended up costing me around $70. A big savings and I think it’s a pretty good dupe! This also served as a reminder that a little creativity and bravery can go a long way. Justin couldn’t believe I would spray paint a brand new light, but I knew the look I was going for and just went for it. I’m so glad I did – I’m thrilled with the light and the way it fits the space!

We’ve got two weeks left in the challenge and I’m just about finished with my to-do list. I still have some tweaking to do – for now I just shopped my house and pulled some art, a rug, and a few little decor pieces to get a feel for what works in the space. I also still need to create some hanging storage for coats above the shoe bench to finish off the little mudroom corner. The end is in sight!

Be sure to check out all the other ORC participants here!

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Fall ORC Week 2: Big Bird is (temporarily) in the house

This past week we took a few steps forward in the laundry room and one unfortunate step back.

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Justin spent time on Saturday morning patching all the dings, nicks, and imperfections on the walls…of which there were a lot.

I sanded all the patched areas down, wiped down the walls, and painted a layer of primer on the walls and trim.

I love the idea of doing a wallpaper in this space, but since it’s likely temporary (we plan to fully gut renovate this room and the adjacent bathroom in a couple years) I decided to stick with paint. I love yellow and while I probably wouldn’t choose it as a long term paint color for a room, I thought it’d be fun to have a cheery yellow laundry room for now.

On Tuesday morning, my kids were in preschool and I really wanted to get some painting done. I live about 20 minutes from the store and I didn’t want to drive in, get samples, drive home, paint the samples, wait for them to dry, select a paint color, drive back to the store, get the paint, drive home, and then start painting. That would’ve taken the entire morning! So instead, I decided to just pick a swatch that closely matched the wallpaper on my mood board and go for it.

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If this taught me anything, it’s that I cannot skip the step of samples! I have painted enough rooms to know this, but I thought I could skip it this time and boy was I wrong. I need to see the color in the space on multiple walls and with varying light to decide on a color. I thought I was getting golden, but what I really got was Big Bird!

I didn’t do the entire room because it was obvious this color was not going to work. It’s hard to adequately describe just how bright and bold this color is. It feels jarring to walk into, particularly when it’s dark outside and you have to use the overhead lights.

One thing that is a big deal to me is cohesion throughout the home. I don’t need my rooms to match perfectly, but I do want the home to feel like it makes sense as a whole and the colors all work together. This room stands out way too much!

I went back to the store with a list of eight paint samples to get and try to fix my mistake. Unfortunately, there is currently a paint shortage for Base A paint (every color I wanted uses this base) and none of the area stores have it in stock. For right now, it seems like I’m stuck with Big Bird.

I do have a few ideas for ways I can determine a paint color that will work better in this space, so I’m going to spend some time this week trying them out. I’ve also left the wall above the washer and dryer alone so far because I was in debate about whether to leave the upper cabinets or not – I’ve decided I want to remove them and do floating shelves all the way across so that’s coming up this week too. Be sure to follow along on Instagram to see all the changes as they happen!

DIY Clothing Rack for Kids

On Monday, I shared my inspiration for a DIY clothing rack to store dress up clothes, which I planned to make as a birthday gift for Vi. Thanks to Justin’s day off Wednesday and a little childcare help from my babysitter yesterday, I was able to finish it up just in time for her party tomorrow!

I shared all the progress in real time on Instagram, but I also wanted to write out a full tutorial for how I made this clothing rack to permanently be a resource on the blog. This was really a pretty simple DIY and I would estimate it only took about 5 hours of hands-on work time (mine took more time with stopping to take photos and video of everything). It’s definitely a project you could do in one day!

Materials

-2 8 foot pine 1×2’s

-2 8 foot pine 1×5’s (I used a base floor trim that was 7/16 x 4 1/4 x 8 for a thinner look)

-4 foot dowel rod, diameter 3/4″

-two wood screws, size 9 x 2 1/2

-1 inch nail gun nails

-sandpaper (80 grit, 220 grit, 400 grit)

ā€“Polycrylic

ā€“Synthetic Bristle Brush

ā€“Tack Cloth

-I used thin scrap wood for the shelf supports, but you could also use roughly 4 feet of another pine 1×2

Tools used: miter saw, power drill, nail gun, clamps, straight edge, right angle, measuring tape, level

I started out by measuring out the space where I wanted to put the clothing rack so I could get a feel for the dimensions to use.

I used the miter saw to cut down my 1×2’s into four pieces, each 48″ long.

I laid two of the pieces on the ground and fiddled with the angle of teepee shape until it looked the way I wanted it to. Then I took a straight edge and ran it from tip to tip of the bottom outside corners.

I then took a pencil and traced along the straight edge. This marked a line that I needed to cut in order for the pieces to sit flush on the ground. Once the line was marked, I was able to use that + a right angle tool to determine the angle I wanted was 15 degrees.

I set my miter saw to make a 15 degree cut and trimmed off the edges on both the bottom and top of all four pieces, making sure the top and bottom of each piece were cut in the same direction.

Next, I took the pieces and got them back in the teepee shape I wanted and then used clamps to secure the wood to my workbench to make sure it didn’t budge. I also took my pencil and lightly traced along both edges of the piece on top, so just in case the boards did slip, I could easily line them back up again.

I marked the center of the wood overlap (for me, it was 8 inches down from the top of the wood) and used a 3/32″ drill bit to drill a small pilot hole all the way through.

I then used a wood screw (size 9 x 2 1/2) and a star bit on my power drill to attach the two pieces together.

I flipped the pieces over, re-clamped them (the line I traced came in handy for making sure they were back at the right angle!), and then measured out a scrap piece of wood for the bottom shelf. I wanted the bottom of the shelf support to be five inches off the ground, so I measured and cut a piece of scrap wood to fit. I trimmed off the edges at 15 degrees so it would run flush with the side pieces and I attached the support to the side pieces using a nail gun and 1 inch nails.

I repeated those steps until I had two identical side pieces. (Side note: I now wish I had made them mirror images of each other instead of identical. It doesn’t change anything structurally, but just aesthetically I think I would have preferred that look)

Next up was the bottom shelf. I took pine boards (7/16 x 4 1/2 x 8) and cut them down to my desired shelf length: 30 inches.

I used my nail gun and 1 inch nails to nail down each shelf into the shelf support. Four boards fit perfectly across! I wanted a little extra support in the middle since the shelf was pretty long so I got a piece of sturdy scrap wood and nailed it to the center of the bottom of the shelves.

Last up was attaching the dowel rod. Remember the wood screws I used to attach the criss-crossed part at the top? These actually went all the way through the wood and stuck out the other side. I measured from screw to screw across the top and cut the dowel rod to length (because of the way the wood overlapped, it was not the same length as the bottom shelf boards!)

I used my power drill to reverse the screw out until it was no longer visible on the inner part of the teepee, then held the dowel rod tightly up against the 1×2 and drove the screw back in. I recommend using a small level to make sure that your dowel rod is going straight across!

I then took some sandpaper (first 80 grit, then 220 grit) and sanded down any rough areas. I wiped it down with tack cloth and applied two coats of a clear matte polyurethane (giving it a light sand with 400 sandpaper in between coats).

I’m really pleased with how this turned out and I know Violet is going to love it. I can’t wait to see it full of fun dress up clothes after her party tomorrow! This little clothing rack is about to get lots and lots of fun use!

Staining an Ikea Hemnes Dresser Black!

When I was searching for dresser ideas for my primary bedroom renovation, I came across this dresser and it stopped me in my tracks:

I loved so much about this dresser: the clean lines, the black stain, the subtle wood grain, the leather drawer pulls. Really the only thing about it I didn’t like was the price. Yikes! At first I considered building my own dresser to mimic this one, but thankfully I was talked out of that. Instead, I decided to take a basic Ikea Hemnes dresser and recreate this look for a tiny fraction of the cost.

The Hemnes does come in a black-brown stain but it was out of stock so I bought it in a gray stain. At first, I covered it with a coat of paint in Sherwin Williams Tricorn Black, but I did not like the way it turned out at all. It looked like, well, a cheap dresser that was painted. Luckily, the latex paint sanded off very easily and I was able to start over with a different plan. Here’s what I did:

Materials

-Ikea Hemnes Dresser

-Orbital Sander + 80 grit and 120 grit sandpaper

-Plastic Wood

latex gloves

Black Stain

-Foam Brushes

-Clean, dry cloth

Painters Tape

Brown Stain

Polycrylic

Synthetic Bristle Brush

Tack Cloth

-220 or 400-grit sandpaper

The first thing I needed to do was sand off the old gray stain. By far, this was the step that took the longest! I used an orbital sander and 80-grit sandpaper to get most of the stain off, then I went over the whole thing again with 120-grit sandpaper to smooth the coarse surface.

Before sanding down the drawer fronts, I filled in each of the drawer pull holes with plastic wood. This product only takes about 15 minutes to dry and then you can sand and stain it just like the rest of the wood.

You can see that there are still some traces of gray stain left on the dresser above. I decided to save myself the time and effort of removing every tiny bit because I knew that the black would cover it up without anyone being able to tell it was there.

After everything was sanded with both grits of sandpaper, I wiped down every surface with a tack cloth to collect all the dust. I also used painter’s tape to tape off the bottom of the legs (making the top of the tape line even with the bottom of the dresser body) because I wanted to stain that part a different color. More on that later!

I tested out a few black stains and settled on this water-based solid color stain. I used a foam brush to apply the stain in long strokes, making sure to follow the direction of the wood grain. I like to wear latex gloves when staining to protect my hands.

This stain is thick and absorbs pretty quickly so I worked in small sections and wiped the excess stain off with a clean, dry scrap cloth.

You can see above what the wood looked like after one coat of coverage. I wanted to see less of the wood grain, so after letting the surfaces dry for about 2 hours, I reapplied a second thin coat of stain on top using the same process as before, except working in smaller sections so I could wipe the stain off a little quicker (thus, keeping it from penetrating too much and getting too dark). Here’s a good comparison of what one coat vs. two looked like:

After all the black stain dried, it was time for the bottom of the legs. I tore off the painter’s tape at the bottom of the legs and put new tape that lined up with the bottom of the black stain (note: for the bottom of the legs, I made sure to sand away all of the previous gray stain). I had a bunch of random stains leftover from previous projects and after testing them out, I settled on this provincial.

I set the legs on top of scrap wood so I could get all the way to the bottom without ruining the floor. I didn’t want the stain to be too dark so I applied a light coat of stain with a foam brush and wiped it off almost immediately. Then I removed the tape – I love a nice, crisp line!

After the provincial stain dried, the dresser was ready for topcoat. I chose this Polycrylic Protective Finish in a clear matte finish. After carefully stirring, I used a new synthetic bristle brush to apply a thick layer in long strokes, again following the direction of the wood grain.

Polycrylic looks white and bubbly when first applied. It dries clear, but the bubbles do leave a slight amount of a textured feel. After letting the first coat dry, I used a 400-grit sandpaper to very lightly (seriously, hardly any pressure is needed!) sand the surface smooth again.

After sanding the dresser and drawer fronts, I wiped everything down with a clean tack cloth and then repeated another round of Polycrylic + light sand + tack cloth. Once everything completely dried, I could pop the drawer back in and admire the (almost) finished result!

Even though I’m still waiting on the new drawer pulls to come in, I am so so thrilled with how this dresser is turning out. The picture truly doesn’t do it justice. It looks so chic! It has the same clean lines look and subtle wood grain that my inspiration dresser had and I love the added character from the stained legs. It definitely looks like a higher-end product and I’m so glad I went with my gut on re-staining this one!

ORC Week Three: Fabric Sample to the Rescue!

Another week of the One Room Challenge has come and gone and if this one was a Friends episode, it would be titled The One Where Almost Nothing Happened. Ha! I say “almost” because one very small but important thing did happen yesterday afternoon, in the final hours of a week full of no other progress.

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When I first ordered my bed, the estimated delivery date was May 14. Then I got a notice that it would be May 17. Than I got another notice that it was backordered and wouldn’t arrive until May 25. I’m crossing my fingers that that will be the actual date of arrival but at this point, I’m not very confident.

Unfortunately, our bedroom has more or less been at a standstill with the delay of the bed. I had been waiting on it before making decisions with other colors, textures, and textiles to bring into the room so it’s been very frustrating to not know when it’s going to arrive. Then last Saturday, I realized that I could order a fabric sample of the upholstery! I immediately ordered a free sample, only to have it tell me the estimated delivery date was June 15. Sigh.

I ordered it anyways, thinking maybe it would still come before the bed. I’m so glad I did because it completely surprised me by arriving yesterday! Although the order on the website still says “preparing for shipping” with a delivery date of June 14 so that really doesn’t give me confidence in Wayfair’s delivery notifications. Hopefully that’s not a bad omen for the bed’s shipping…

Now that I at least have the fabric sample, I feel like I can actually proceed with making some other decisions. I’m feeling energetic and excited to get moving on this again!

Make sure to check out the other ORC participants here. They probably have made a bit more progress than I did this week. šŸ˜‰

Updating a Bedroom with a Geometric Accent Wall!

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

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

Materials

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

painters tape

-miter saw

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

spackling

combination square

-220 grit and 440 grit sandpaper

-six inch foam roller

-sawhorses

-paint

-optional: square layout tool; stud finder

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And with that – we were done!

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

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

Sources:

Wall Color: Sherwin Williams Peppercorn

Ceiling Color: Sherwin Williams Alabaster

Bed: Restoration Hardware

A Round-Up of Our Recent Projects

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

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

Paint the Front Door

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

Upgrade our Dog Bowls

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

Create Gallery Walls

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

Update Playroom Window Trim

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

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

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

Creating a DIY Cookie Space!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sources:

Cabinets: Ikea Sektion

Toekick: Ikea

Handles

Butcherblock

Floating Shelves

Sleek Socket Extension Cord

Easy, Collected Gallery Walls

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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