Plans for a Long-Overdue Dining Room Update!

One of my goals for 2021 was to paint the main areas of our house (kitchen, dining room, entryway/foyer, hallway, and living room) and if you follow me on Instagram, you know I’ve already started tackling this project! I decided to start with our dining room, which has remained virtually untouched renovation-wise since the day we moved in. As soon as paint started to transform the look of the room, my wheels started turning for a phase one renovation of the space! I thought it would be fun to take some time today and share what I’m thinking and some of the plans for the space.

Here’s what the dining room looked like to begin with:

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Pretty uninspiring, huh? The first step was patching over the many holes, dings, nicks, and scuffs along the walls, then covering them with a coat of my favorite primer and two coats of Sherwin Williams Alabaster in an eggshell finish. Here’s what it looks like now:

The soft, slightly creamy white feels like a breath of fresh air after almost two years of dingy brown walls and already the room feels so different. I’m excited to give this neglected room some additional, and much needed, TLC!

I love the the idea of mood boards and I think they can be so helpful in visualizing a space, but this busy mama just never has the time to sit down and create one! For me, Pinterest boards quickly and easily give me direction and corral all my ideas and vision into one space. Here’s what my dining room “mood board” currently looks like:

While Justin and I both agree that we would LOVE to update the flooring, we’re holding off for now. The kitchen, pantry, dining room, entryway, powder room, and laundry room all have the same flooring, and they’re connected in a way that isn’t conducive to changing the flooring unless you are going to do it for everything. We know that in a few years we’re planning to change the layout of our kitchen, so it makes sense to hold off on flooring until then. That means the baseboards also stay for now (I’m slowly swapping out the narrow baseboards in our house for a chunky 5 inch version) so I’m just going to paint them in a contrast color. I’m leaning towards using a soft greige like Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. I am going to also update the window trim, probably giving it the same look as our home office windows, and paint it the same contrast color as the baseboards.

Once all that is completed, the fun will really start! The star of the room is actually not in the room at all: it’s the outdoors! The windows are the biggest statement in the room and they draw your eye outside to all the woods surrounding our house. It’s a fabulous view no matter the season and I’m going to add some window treatments to complement and highlight it.

Just look at the beautiful snow-covered trees that were outside in December!

The windows are large so I need pretty substantial, long curtain rods. I like the simplicity of these matte black ones! The walls come together at unusual angles so I’m also ordering two of these hinged curtain rod connectors to create one continuous curtain rod. As for curtains, I want to use them as a way to create a little drama and add some much needed color to the room – I’ve been debating between this soft rose color and this deep merlot color. I ordered a panel of each so I can see them in person before making my final decision but either way I’m excited for the texture that the velvet will bring to the space!

Since the windows are going to be the focal point, I’m keeping the rest of the room fairly simple. We’ll update the light fixture – I’m currently debating the simple elegance of this brass chandelier vs. the casual vibe of this modern bamboo pendant. I also want to add some artwork and center a large credenza along the window-less wall.

I’m loving the look of credenzas with reeded details but they are $$$$$ so I’m kicking around a few ideas for a possible DIY version…stay tuned for that!

The table and chairs are a big TBD. They are hand-me-downs and while they’ve served us well for the past 7.5 years of marriage, we’re not crazy about the look of them and we’re definitely ready for a change. That being said, this table extends to fit 14 people (!!) which is amazing for our large dining room, and as you can imagine, finding a replacement that is equally as expansive is incredibly expensive. I’m so afraid of dropping a ton of money on a new dining table only to find it clashes with our flooring when we finally update that. Yikes! So, we might keep what we’ve got for now, or we might find an inexpensive secondhand option that is more our style. We’ll see!

All in all, I think this will be a fairly budget-friendly makeover and will definitely tide us over until we’re able to do bigger changes like the flooring and table. Now that I’ve got a pretty clear vision moving forward, I’m excited to start ordering things and pulling this room together. I’ll definitely be sharing more of the day-by-day progress on my Instagram account (@simplifythechaos) so be sure to follow along there if you want more frequent updates!

Affiliate Disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. This means if you purchase something through an Amazon link I provided, I may earn a small commission. None of my recommendations or decisions are based on any commission I might receive from your purchases, but are all things I’ve either bought myself or am planning to buy. The decision to buy something is yours, and whether or not you decide to buy one through the link I provide is completely up to you. Thank you!

Our DIY Play Kitchen!

Tomorrow is Christmas and we finished up kids’ gift just in time: a play kitchen built from scratch!

Originally I hoped to re-purpose an old TV entertainment center, but after spending hours scouring Facebook marketplace and multiple thrift stores around town, I came up empty. With only two weeks left before Christmas, I was too crunched for time to keep searching. So instead, we decided to build one!

My brainstorming session started with a Pinterest search, where I found this play kitchen from West Elm. I fell in love with the look, but definitely not with the price. I knew Justin and I could come up with something similar for a lot less than $600.

So with that as a starting block, here’s where we ended up!

I’m so incredibly pleased with how this turned out and I can’t wait for our kids to see it tomorrow morning!

If you’re interested in how we created this play kitchen from scratch in just under two weeks, buckle up, because I’ve got all the details below. 😉

How We Created Our DIY Play Kitchen

Materials

-5/8″ width plywood

-1/2″ width plywood

-2″ dowel rod

-3 door handles

-1×3″ board

-6 small door hinges

-5/8″ edge banding

-wood stain

-3 wooden knobs

-3/4″ drain pipe

-8×8 nonstick cake pan

-plastic/plexiglass

-1 small knob

-wood glue

-gorilla glue

-wood stain

-white paint

-black spray paint

Tools we used included: miter saw, nail gun, circular saw, drill press, jig saw, and kreg jig. We also used a few pieces of scrap wood throughout the project.

We started out with a simple outline I drew up. The nice thing about building from scratch is that I could choose exactly the dimensions that would work for our space. I decided on 36″ high and 48″ wide (divided equally to make the fridge, stove, and sink each 16″ wide).

I highly highly recommend sketching up as much as you can beforehand; it helps you visualize what steps you need to take to make everything and also what materials you’re going to need. Below you can see how I sketched out the frame and all the shelves and marked where all the kreg jigs (KJ) would go. On the right you can see where I calculated how many pieces of each length of board I would need. This didn’t take long to sketch up, but was really helpful in calculating materials and forming a plan of attack.

We started with a sheet of plywood in a 5/8″ width. The sheets are 4’x 8′ and because of my sketches and planning, I knew that we could make the entire frame out of one sheet. Justin set up a guide using a long piece of oak to make a super straight cut and piled a few pieces of old laminate and scrap wood to add weight to make sure the plywood didn’t bow at all.

He used a circular saw to the sheet of plywood into three equal strips – because the width of the saw blade takes away a fraction with each pass, these strips ended up being just under 16″ wide. Then he used his miter saw to cut each strip into the lengths we needed.

Justin started out by building the frame of each section, using kreg jigs to connect each of the pieces together. He also used wood glue and clamps in a few places to make the frame extra secure. (Also, I always feel like I need to preface pictures in our garage by saying we’re not really Nascar fans haha. That sign is leftover from the previous owners and we just never took it down).

After the frame was finished, Justin cut down an old piece of 1/4″ thick plywood to create the backing.

He attached this plywood to the back of the frame with a nail gun. (Can we take a moment to appreciate the outfit? 😉 It was COLD in that barn!)

Justin also cut down a scrap 1×3 and attached it underneath the “countertop” in the sink and oven sections using another kreg jig. I needed this piece so I had a space to attach oven knobs, and it just visually made sense to also have one in the sink section as well.

Next up was the shelves! Originally we thought we’d atttach these with more kreg jigs, but instead Justin just cut each shelf down to size and attached them with a nail gun.

Notice that he specifically cut the shelves so that they stopped short of the front edge – this is to accommodate the width of the door so the doors could be inset (flush with the sides).

After all the shelves were in place, we moved on to the legs. Justin bought a 2″ diameter dowel rod and cut it down into four 4″ long pieces. He measured out the center of each dowel rod and used a drill press to predrill a hole in the center of each one.

We marked out where each leg was going to go and Justin predrilled a hole in where each one was going to go.

It’s possibly overkill, but we used 3″ screws to attach the legs. We wanted them to be very secure and this definitely did the trick!

For the doors, Justin used a 1/2″ sheet of plywood to cut each size we needed. Because that width is hard to attach hinges to, he cut down a piece of scrap wood and screwed a small block to the door so he had a place to attach the hinge. If you want to avoid this extra step, you can just use a wider board to make the door.

With the frame, shelves, legs, and doors in place, it was my turn! I used my favorite Kilz primer on the doors and then painted two coats of Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot in Satin. I had this paint leftover from a previous project and it worked perfectly!

Next up was to put edge banding on all the front-facing plywood boards. I appreciate the lightweight nature and inexpensive cost of plywood, but not the look haha! I bought this 5/8″ edge banding to create the look of a solid piece of wood. It comes with a dried adhesive on the back that is heat activated. I heated up an iron to the “cotton” setting (a fairly high heat), held my edge banding in place against the side of the plywood, and ran the iron over it to activate the glue. I worked in roughly 4-6 inch sections and ran the iron back and forth over each section for about 20 seconds or so. It was a slower process, but look at the difference it made on the left vs. right!

The best part of this edge banding is it is paintable and stainable, so I could give it the same look as the rest of the plywood. I tested out some stains that we already had and quickly settled on this one.

On a trip to my local Habitat for Humanity ReStore, I hit the jackpot with some inexpensive finds to complete the kitchen. I found some simple rounded silver handles for 50 cents each that were perfect for the doors, some wooden knobs that I thought would make cute oven knobs (pack of 5 knobs for $2!), and a drain hose ($6) and knob (50 cents) for the faucet. For less than $10, it was such a great score!

I spray painted the wooden knobs and settled on three for the front of the oven. I measured out and drilled three holes in the front and LOVE how they turned out.

To create the look of an oven, I made a 10″ x 7.5″ rounded template on piece of paper and traced it on the back of the oven door. Justin then used a jigsaw to cut out a hole and sanded down the edges.

I then took the plastic inserts from from a large Ikea frame I had (I don’t like the shine it creates on my pictures!) and cut down two pieces to 12″ x 9.5″ to have some overlap. These cut easily with scissors, but I would recommend trying out a small test piece first because there’s a learning curve to how you need to hold the plastic and cut in order to not have a chipped edge.

I spray painted one piece black and left the other clear. I used gorilla glue to glue the black one down first (keeping the spray painted side facing away from the hole of the oven door). Then I glued the clear piece on top of the spray painted side to keep the paint from getting scratched during playtime.

Next up was the burners! I took a long piece of scrap shiplap that we trimmed off when working on our office project and cut it down into 16 pieces just short of 3 inches each. I spray painted each strip black and after they dried, I squeezed a very thin line of wood glue onto the back of each one.

I created a little asterisk pattern with these strips to create two little burners. I think they turned out so cute!

Last up was the sink area! Originally, I bought a small plastic tub that I was going to create a sink but I didn’t realize it had a small lip that would prevent it from laying flush. So we quick did a curbside pickup for a little 8×8 cake pan from Target to use instead. We traced an outline right on the countertop (the smaller one is from the first plastic tub we didn’t use, the larger one is from the cake pan we did use).

Justin used his jigsaw to cut out this hole and the cake pan fit in perfectly!

To create the faucet, we used this 3/4″ drain pipe tube that I found at the ReStore. Can you see how one end is already perfectly formed like a faucet?

I used painters tape to mark where to cut the hose at and used a utility knife to create a clean cut.

We marked where we wanted the faucet and Justin used a 1″ drill bit to create a hole.

This next part felt very MacGyver-y. We cut the tube to length so about 2 inches would stick out in the bottom sink cabinet. We then spliced the part that would be under the counter into four pieces.

Justin screwed each spliced section up into the bottom part of the cabinet so that the faucet couldn’t be pulled out the top. We also stuck a small piece of scrap wood in the tube to help keep its upright shape.

Then he screwed a scrap piece of wood under all the spliced sections – the purpose of this was to keep the faucet from being pushed down into the hole.

It might not look pretty, but will keep the faucet in place securely now. It can’t be pushed down or pulled up!

Lastly, I spray painted the little gold knob that I bought for 50 cents black and we drilled through the tube (and wood inside) to screw it in place and create a little faucet handle.

All in all, I’m VERY pleased with how this project turned out! And because we thrifted a ton of materials and already had lots of things like the stain, paint, screws, scrap wood, etc, the project ended up costing us around $80.

The kitchen has already been tested out and if Justin is any indication, the kids will have fun with this tomorrow morning. 😉

Sources

(Note: Most of what I used was thrifted or scrap material, but here’s what I used that I have sources for!)

-Paint: Sherwin Williams Dot to Dot in Satin

Black Spray Paint

Cake Pan (for sink)

edge banding (affiliate link)

wood stain

-the plastic inserts came from these Ikea frames

One Room Challenge Week Five: Cabinet Doors are on!

It’s the second-to-last week of the One Room Challenge and now that all the shiplap is finished, things have really picked up!

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One thing that got checked off the list this past week was the completion of the window trim. We had trimmed out each window with a 1×4 and Justin then ripped a board into 1/2 inch strips and nailed it around the edges. This helped hide any gaps left in between the shiplap and the 1×4 and gave everything a nice, finished look.

Other than that, the biggest change that has happened this week has been the addition of our cabinet doors!

When we first started planning out the built-ins, we contemplated DIYing cabinet doors. I’m so glad that we ultimately decided to outsource that project because these Semihandmade door and drawer fronts are perfect and were a breeze to paint and install!

Semihandmade is a company that makes different styles of door and drawer fronts that are fit to the same specifications as an Ikea cabinet door. This means you can purchase the Ikea base cabinet, which is a very inexpensive, and then add different doors to create a more custom look. I’m really impressed with how it elevates the look of the cabinets without breaking the bank!

You can order doors in various colors but I went for the unpainted DIY version so I could paint them the exact same color as the rest of the built-in: Treron by Farrow and Ball that I color-matched at Lowe’s. Before painting, I did rub a fresh tack cloth over the fronts and backs of all the doors, because they shipped from the factory covered in a fine layer of sawdust.

I placed each door face down on top of paint cans (so they would be elevated off the ground) and started painting all the backs. I highly, highly recommend painting the backs first so that when you flip them to paint the other side, the back is the painted side that touches the paint cans – if one side is going to get nicked or scratched or stuck after painting, you definitely want it to be the side that rarely gets seen!

(Apologies for the quality and angles of these pictures – I didn’t take photos of this process so these are just screen grabs from the timelapse videos I posted on Instagram).

I used a paint + primer so I did not do a separate layer of primer. I used an angled brush to trim out the edges of each inset . . .

. . . and then I used this six inch foam roller on the rest of the doors to create a really smooth finish.

I painted all the backs of the doors, waited about 3 hours, and then painted a second coat. I let them dry overnight and then flipped them over to paint the fronts. I did the exact same process of two coats, this time also rolling the door sides, and let them dry again overnight. The next morning (probably about 18 hours later), we attached them to the cabinets using the hardware we bought from Ikea. They were very simple to install!

Yesterday, I spent time in the afternoon playing around with arranging the shelves. I’m definitely not done with them, but it was fun to get started with different placements. As you can see, we still need to finish assembling the drawers in the middle, but so far, I’m really pleased with the look!

Other things we need to accomplish this week:

-add the final trim pieces around the door frame

-add thin piece of trim between cabinets and the wall

-paint + install crown molding

-paint + install baseboards

-install cabinet hardware

-paint countertop (while I like the natural wood look, up close it looks silly because we had to use two boards to achieve the length and it’s just too obvious to leave natural)

-paint outlet covers and duct vent to match wall color

-paint the inside of the window frames

-install curtain rod + hang curtains

-move in the rugs, desk, chair, and finishing touches!

Can we get all this done in one week? We’ll see! In the meantime, you can check out all the other guest participants in the One Room Challenge here.

One Room Challenge Week Four: All About Shiplap!

We are four weeks into the One Room Challenge and have finally met a big milestone: all of the shiplap is finished!!

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This has been a huge project and the shiplap needed to get finished before we could move on to other things like baseboards, crown molding, and final window trim so it was an important thing to check off our list!

Today I’m going to share about the process we used to install shiplap on all the walls and ceilings – it’s the first time we did something like this and we’re really happy with how it turned out!

Items Needed:

Liquid Nails

Caulk gun

Shiplap (we used 8 foot pieces for the walls and 12 foot pieces for the ceiling)

-Nail Gun (we used 1 1/2″ nails for walls and 2″ nails for the ceiling)

-Level

DryDex Spackling and Nail Hole Filler

Receptacle Spacers

Justin also used his miter saw (to cut boards to length), jigsaw (to cut notches for outlets and window trim), and table saw (to rip boards to smaller widths when needed).

Installation:

It made the most sense for us to start in the middle of the wall rather than in a corner because every wall in this room is wonky. Our walls are a touch over 8 feet high, which was nice because there was no need to cut the shiplap for just a plain stretch of wall. We used our liquid nails and caulk gun to run adhesive along the back of the shiplap.

For shiplap on the walls, we used this liquid nails but for the ceiling, we used the heavy duty one since the ceiling boards would be pulled down more by gravity.

This shiplap is super easy to work with because it interlocks and automatically creates the perfect gap between boards.

We also didn’t need to repair any of the walls first (old nail holes, glue from the beadboard we ripped out, etc). All we needed to do was slide in each piece! Since we have those wonky walls, we used a level to ensure each board was running straight up and down.

Then we used a nail gun to attach each board solidly in place.

When we got to outlets, Justin just measured and cut out a notch to fit around the box. We then used receptacle spacers to bring the outlet out from the wall to be flush with the shiplap.

I’d love to say the process was “easy as that” and truly, it is easy to work with this shiplap. If your room is a square, it would be fairly simple to just click each board into place and move around the wall pretty quickly. Our room is not at all that straightforward since we had a bay window and a slanted entry wall to contend with. We also decided to put the window and door trim up first to avoid gaps from the window/door frame and the trim. This meant having to be very meticulous with measuring. We dealt with a lot of funky angles and crazy cuts like this:

It took many hours and a lot of double and triple-checking all our measurements, but I’m incredibly proud of how Justin managed to work with all the crazy angles to make everything fit so perfectly!

When it came to the ceiling, it was a true team effort. We had to use 12 foot boards and each stand on a ladder to get the board in place. Justin used a stud finder to locate all the ceiling joists which was helpful because we could nail directly into the joists for an extra secure hold.

One of us held the board in place while the other nailed and this kept it from sagging before the liquid nails started to dry.

The ceiling was a little more straightforward than the walls. We did have to deal with the angled walls again but knowing that crown molding would cover the gaps between the shiplap and the wall allowed us to have some flexibility with our cuts. The only cut we had to make was for the light in the center of the room, which was much easier than cutting around multiple outlets.

Once the walls were done, it was time to fill the hundreds of nail holes. I tried a different process and I’m really happy with how it worked!

I started out with this spackling and nail hole filler:

I squeezed just a small dab of spackling on my finger

and pressed it into the nail hole.

After making sure the hole was filled, I just swiped it a bit to cover the area.

I waited just a few minutes until it had started to dry a bit, the gently sanded off the excess with my fingers until it was smooth.

The spackling dries white within a few hours and then it’s ready to paint!

I chose the color Treron from Farrow and Ball and got it color matched at Lowe’s. It’s just the perfect olive color: not too deep, not too green, not too brown, and it brings a touch of moodiness and character to the room. If you look really closely, you can see a few of the nail holes but for the most part, it looks great!

Now that the shiplap is done, the project is going to start moving quick! We have two weeks left of the One Room Challenge and lots to do! Stay tuned for more updates!

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 😉 😉 😉

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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 but  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 – I loved 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.  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.  It’s perfect!

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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.  Then all I needed to do was wait for them to dry and bring them inside!

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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 one 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 feel that this was it. This was The One! I had no reservations, no hesitations, and was so glad I didn’t settle because I wholeheartedly loved…

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Rock Bottom from HGTV by Sherwin Williams.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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 a lot more tape than I expected and I had to do a curbside pickup for five, yes five, additional rolls to finish everything). I got a second can of base coat and had it tinted to Haven Gray for my second color and applied it with a 2.5 inch angled brush.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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