April 27, 2014
So, about 3 months ago I had written up that long post about how I made over our old dining room buffet and then it didn’t save and all was lost and I never wanted to write again. Not really. But then I decided to start on our staircase renovation, so instead of typing everything up again I started scraping off caulk hours and hours on end. A full post on that coming soon. Maybe.
So now without any patience to go into the buffet details again, let me just throw these picture at you:
I know, I know, doesn’t look too bad from far. But when you look closer it was really obvious cheap laminate, not actual wood. And said plastic foil started to peel off on one side, so it had to be done.
I used chalk paint (color “French Linen”) for the first time and while it’s not as magical as some DIY people out there make it look like (you still need to sand and multiple coats), it really creates a thick solid cover that should last for another couple of decades.
And then it was Christmas.
December 20, 2013
A few years ago, I got this sparkly advent calendar for 3 dollars at a yard sale. It was really nice and doing it’s job, the only problem was that the compartments behind the doors were so tiny, that really nothing but a piece of chocolate or other unhealthy candy would fit in them. But what I really wanted to sweeten the wait for Christmas, were some small little gifts that wouldn’t disappear in one bite. Especially now that Milo is getting into Legos, the possibilities are endless to make each day of December special.
So I went on Pinterest for the usual inspiration and found this link. It also helped that my friend Kathleen did a similar one last year. Overall this was not a cheap and quick project, but it will hopefully last through Milo’s childhood and pay off in durability and joy. I probably paid about $40 total for all 25 boxes, paint, and decoration supplies. The project took about three evenings to complete = 6 hours. And here it goes.
First I laid out the 25 boxes on a board that I had left over from a different project so that they would spread out nicely and not repeat too much. Then I marked each one for which base color it was to receive, also making sure not to have too many of the same color in the same neighborhood.
The next step was to paint all boxes with craft paints. Milo actually helped with this step. We painted one at a time and then put it right back into its place on the board to keep everything in order.
The main idea of this project was to have Milo involved in decorating the boxes, so I bought a bunch of stickers for easy decorating. But after glueing on 3 stars, he was “getting tired of stickers”. So, most of the decorating was left to me. Lincoln jumped in to create the most elaborate box (guess which one), and I just free-styled all the other ones. I used some glittery scrapbook paper, felt snowflake stickers, star stickers, white puffy paint, and a glitter marker. To keep things cohesive it probably helps sticking to 4-5 colors. And I made sure to use at least two of those colors on each box and sticking with winter motives like snowflakes, pine trees, snowmen, stars, etc.
Next, I whitewashed the wooden board. Whitewashing or any color washing is soo easy I can’t believe I ever bought wood stain. Just water down any existing paint (I do around 1:1 ratio, but you can water it down further to have it more transparent) and then brush on the wood. It gives the wood a soft tint while still showing the grain. After it all dried, I sealed the board with Polycrylic – another recent discovery of mine. Somehow I always thought that Polyurethane is the number one top coat to use. But Polycrylic is much less smelly, dries faster, smoother, and cleans up easily with water. It also won’t yellow over time.
Finally, it was time to attach the boxes to the board. Because I have had some incidents with hot glue losing its power from one Christmas season to the next from being exposed to all sorts of temperatures while stored in the attic, I wanted to be safe and not only used hot glue, but also drilled one small screw through the back of each box. I screwed a string picture hook in the back and hung the final product out of Felix’s reach on a wall.
Next year, it’s Felix’s turn to get one of these.
July 6, 2013
This year I was really determined to spend as much time outside as possible. Before I knew that it’s gonna be on of the wettest spring / summer in history. So instead of being trapped inside because of the cold, we are now banned from the outside by constant wetness. Rain, rain go away!
Nonetheless, our outdoor spaces got some nice small updates to make them family friendly should any day unexpectedly turn out rain free.
In the front yard we had that spiky ground cover bush going on that was really good for trash and leaves getting stuck in it, but not for hanging out front to watch our kids play.
One sunny day I went at it and just ripped it all out. It all originated in just 3 plants and the roots were all intertwined with the tree’s roots, so much sweat was shed. But all worth it afterwards. The home owners association sent the landscapers out to even things out and put down sod.
Just a few weeks later – thanks to the rain – everything was lush and green and all set for mini picnics. The flowers grew in almost too much, so I might transplant them to the backyard next year or extend the flowerbed a little.
In the backyard we took on a pain-in-the-butt project that was long needed. Previously the deck was all taken over by bikes, trash cans, and other stuff. Apparently it was not even picture worthy. So we decided to extend our patio by just a few square feet on each side of the deck stairs in order to tuck things away. For being such a small area, it was kind of a big project. Digging out dirt, hauling in gravel and sand and pavers, cutting wood borders, etc.
Daddy helped Milo do it and over the course of the following weeks I actually got around to cleaning up other junk that had accumulated around our deck, regraded the soil below our deck to prevent water damage in the basement, and painted the wooden border with leftover deck paint.
Now this whole area is just way more functional and neat without spending a fortune.
The bikes and trash cans have space on the new paved corners and make room on the original patio to even grow three big planters full of veggies.
And then it was time to do something about our deck. I mean, it was all nicely renovated and painted, but came out a little too neutral / brown / blah.
With the help of some paint on the herb pots and new pillows …
… as well as a red solar lantern, and rope lights that I wrapped all around our deck, it’s now a lot more cheerful and moody to spend summer evenings.
And who would have thought – by the time I finally get to finish this post, the summer actually has made an appearance and I am typing this as I am sipping a glass of wine on the deck. Happiness.
February 26, 2013
Phase 2 of the master closet makeover has officially begun: DIY-ing a bunch of accessories. Up first were the light fixtures.
How these ancient light fixtures made it into our house that was built in the 90s is completely incomprehensible. They must have been rotting at the builder’s warehouse for decades before he decided to finally get rid of them in our lovely home. Too brassy, too teardropish, and too much weird glass texture. They had to go.
So in accordance with our customized his and hers shelf solution I decided to also make a male and a female lamp shade. After finding inspiration and figuring out the best way to spice up plain lamp shades, I came up with a plan: I would literally dress up these lamp shades:
One in a men’s dress shirt, the other one in a ruffly skirt. But they still had to match, so they both had to be navy. Navy is a newbie to our house of muted midtone colors. After hubby convinced me that we needed a blue chair for our bedroom (not the neutral grey that I was voting for), I kinda got used to the thought of adding a new color to our master suite.
Well, after sourcing two different thrift stores I just couldn’t find any ruffles in blue at all. So I went with a thin navy knit sweater with a see-through hole pattern that makes it look a little lacy. Just female enough without being too frilly. This feels more like me anyway. Here are our two candidates:
First, I decided which section to use and cut off any excess fabric on top and bottom of the lamp shade. This left me with two wide strips of fabric:
Then, I broke out my hot glue gun and glued down the strip on one side. I pulled it tight around the cylinder, and glued the other end down. Now all that was left was to cut the top and bottom to a uniform overhang, fold the edges over, and attach them by applying a thin bead of glue under the bottom and top rim. Sorry, I didn’t have enough hands nor light to take progress pictures, but this tutorial explains and shows all the steps I took.
Since I was working with knit fabric, the edges turned out a little too frayed to be pretty. So I bought this half-inch wide ribbon to cover them up. Just glued it on with hot glue as well.
Looking much more finished, there.
Finally, I created a few fabric flowers out of the shirt remnants to really tie the two lamp shades together.
Here they go. Aren’t they a cute couple?
Now I just gotta spray-paint the bases of the existing light fixtures white, and find a way to attach the shades to them. I’ll keep you posted.
February 16, 2013
Before, I was just a messy and boring wire closet. Now I am much fancier, colorful, and organized. Check me out:
And some more fancy schmanzy before-and-after pictures:
This is where we left you off last time:
The first step in customizing our master closet was painting it a custom color. The reality is that I was too cheap to buy new paint, when we had three cans of leftover paint sitting in the basement. So, I threw some yellowish white, medium gray-blue, and navy blue together, and ended up with half a gallon of this muted blue (just a little lighter than the picture):
Very similar to the shade that I was gonna get at the store. The amount of paint was just enough to paint all the walls and backboards of the bookcases. Up next was assembling the shelves. Initially I was gonna go super budget and just get one bookcase on each side, plus some rods to build something like this:
But then I decided to go all out on this project. Just because I had been waiting for this closet for so long and didn’t want to regret any cheap choices that I wasn’t totally happy with. Also I realized that two of those bookcases would fit perfectly in the space. So we got a total of 4 Ikea Billy bookcases, the deeper kind so that all clothes would comfortable fit.
Lincoln’s side was pretty straight forward. For the hanging part of it I got some extendable rods at the hardware store and left all optional shelves out.
On my side we had to hack it a little bit because I needed some taller space for dresses. So we cut the middle board in half, got a laminated board for the center from Lowes (they cut it to the right size and the color and finish was already close enough to the Billy’s so that it was all set to go), and with the help of my handy dandy husband put it all together. Before assembly we had drilled a hole through the center divider so that the rod would just slide through to both sides.
In order to fit both shelves next to each other I had to take the quarter round trim out, so putting that back in will be next on the list. Along with some other detail work:
Paint the walls a grayish blue Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA Build in some racks to maximize space usage
- Install trim around the shelves
Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
- DIY some custom lamps
- DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
- DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
- Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
- Get and hang some wall art
- Maybe a rug
Do the happy dance!
As you can see we already made some progress on accessorizing and dancing as well.
Here is our new hamper ($15 Home Goods) and trash can ($15 Target).
The storage ottoman is from our foyer where we will be adding a storage cabinet instead. Now it is serving to hold my bags and as a seating bench to put on socks and stuff.
This mirror was previously residing in our bedroom, but for the purpose of fully getting ready in the closet without having to wake up the other sleeping person (Linc and I are on very different sleep schedules) it will also find a spot somewhere in the closet.
There you have it , my new most favorite room in the house.
February 1, 2013
Welcome back to LincNic’s home renovation show! After a 5 month baby break we are back in business. Not quite full force yet, but with a totally manageable project – our walk-in closet. I have been waiting to tackle this project ever since we moved in and am especially excited about it since this is not only about making a space look nicer, but also more functional. It’s no secret that I am a sucker for beautiful things, but most of you also know that functionality is even more important to me. With little time and money to spare, I like to have my life and household organized to maximum efficiency. If there is an empty corner in my house, I’ll take a storage ottoman or additional cabinet over a decorative vase any time. Form follows function, people!
And this builder grade closet just wasn’t cutting it for me. Yeah, it’s nice and big, but what good is that if I can’t use half of the space? The main conflict here is that I am not a clothes hanger, but a folder. It’s way faster for me and the sweaters don’t get stretched out. So, if you look at my side of the closet, there were only two shelves to hold my stacks of clothes – only one of them really within my reach. And a lot of empty space in between.
Lincoln’s side was dealing with other issues. He is neither a clothes hanger, nor a folder, but a putting-them-downer. Whatever has been taken off the shelves or racks, just ends up laying around somewhere.
We tried to make up for the lack of shelf space by using this big ass dresser which is taking up half of the closet.
On top of the dresser we don’t have enough organized space to hold all my earrings and the stuff that spills out of Lincoln’s pockets every evening.
The trash can is ugly black plastic and the black hamper so deep that I almost fall in head first every time I try to find those black socks in there.
So, what was the logical first step? Creating a hot mess in our bedroom.
Then it was time to rip all the stupid wire shelving out and make some swiss cheese.
Why, you ask? Because some genius decided to use threadless screws aka nails together with bolts to attach the shelves to the walls. So instead of being able to screw them out, my only option was to pull as hard as possible and try not to tear down my interior walls completely.
Two rounds of spackling ensued and left me with this blank slate.
Now this is where the real fun starts. Here’s the plan:
- Paint the walls a grayish blue
- Hack and install white Billy bookcases from IKEA
- Build in some racks to maximize space usage
- Get some nice storage bins for small things like socks
- Bring in a tall mirror and an ottoman to sit on
- Get a prettier laundry hamper and trash can
- DIY some custom lamps
- DIY a jewelry organizer for the wall
- DIY an organizer for Lincoln’s pocket stuff
- Find a solution to temporarily hold clothes that will be worn again
- Get and hang some wall art
- Maybe a rug
- Do the happy dance!
July 31, 2012
Who would have thought that my man is so susceptible to advertising? When I picked up a paint swatch for our basement accent wall that was called “Man Cave”, he was all of a sudden so set on using that color even though it was way darker and brownish than what we were looking for. He also bought dog snacks for his parent’s dogs just because they are called “Milo’s Kitchen”. Just name things something that are meaningful to him, and he will buy them.
But side notes aside – this post is about the preliminary finished status of our big basement makeover. Here is a quick reminder of what it used to look like and the plans we had for it:
And here is the for-now-final result:
This project was really more Lincoln’s than mine, since I was getting too pregnant to help with any laborious work, he spends way more time down there anyway, and wanted it to become his very own man cave. A space where he can make the manlier design choices and that is totally technically geared up. So all I had to do was motivating him to get things done before baby arrives, help to strip down some wall paper, and moderate his design just a little bit.
The wall paper removal and painting was the more tedious and painful part, but we had a pretty good system down (learned from the guest room makeover) and managed to finish it within two weeks (working on it almost every evening). For the walls we chose a light grey that was supposed to be color-matched to the guest bedroom walls, but turned out a little darker and blueish. Oh well, close enough for now. Therefore the darker accent wall also had to have a blueish grey undertone. We chose “Iron Frame” from Valspar and had it successfully color matched to Olympic No-VOC.
Before painting however, we had to add some more outlets to the room. There had been only three accessible outlets so far and they were both overloaded by numerous computer and TV components. This required Lincoln to take down the bottom half of one basement wall board, but the good news was that this extra step enabled us to inspect insulation levels and we were also relieved to find no mold or other moistures issues in the basement even though both our neighbors’ basement had been flooded recently.
Lincoln also added wiring for the future surround sound movie theater setup he has envisioned and laid the cables for that behind the baseboards around the room.
Furniture and Features
We bought all new furniture (except for the desk) from IKEA and the couch was a sale item from a local furniture store.
- This couch was a total score and is super comfy with memory foam, dual recliners, and all.
- We also concealed our messy storage shelf for all office and hobby related items. Considering the limited time and energy we had for this project we did not create a real built in closet as originally planned, but hung up a simple curtain solution from IKEA to make the mess disappear when needed.
- Lincoln bought himself this long-wanted dart board cabinet. I am still trying to convince Lincoln to paint this thing the same blue-grey color as the accent wall to make it look less country.
- This vintage red Vinyl chair was a find at Goodwill. It even has a storage compartment in the seat – just to my liking. You can never have enough storage space.
- One of the long IKEA Expedit book cases with boxes to house Milo’s toys. They are now organized by similarity and the labels I cut out of sticky felt indicate even to illiterate little toddlers which toys to find in which box and in which one they need to be put back in. Eventually I might add some cushions on top of it for additional seating.
- A smaller play table. Yes, that’s right, I finally sold that big hunk of ugly orange laminate train table. This little one provides enough space for drawing, building block houses, and driving cars on it while fitting in much nicer. Whenever I get to it I will add some table toppings for different activities. Maybe a thin chalk board, a lego base plate, a traffic pattern, or other ideas as seen on this pin board. The trains are now being set up on the floor whenever needed and we can create much larger configurations.
- Also, check out these cool baskets made out of woven recycled newspaper ads from China. They are nicely speckled and colorful to bring in some pop. And they fit perfectly into our side tables to hold magazines, remotes, etc. And yes, it totally bothers the color perfectionist in me how the purplish blue of the toy bins does not match anymore with how the grey-blue paint of the wall turned out. But I will not spend any more money right now, so suck it up, Nicola.
- Lincoln’s desk remained as the only old piece of furniture, but was upgraded with a self-made hutch and a giant contraption to hold his two monitors, before it moved to a more suitable location on the short wall by the laundry room.
For now the furniture arrangement is still focused on the TV, but it will change a little bit once the home theatre including projector and big screen will be implemented. The sofa will then move to the large light grey wall in the back, and the screen will go up above the toy bench.
The color scheme for the basement is quite different from our upstairs. Much brighter, colorful, and saturated. And there is even some red involved – my so not favorite color. But what can I say … the basement is a whole different zone. A man cave. And it is manly enough to be able to handle some red.
After deciding on a blueish grey backdrop of the walls, some more color was definitely called for and we found inspiration in these pictures painted by Milo:
The red, orange, and yellow, make for a nice contrast to the cool blue. I also used one of Milo’s paintings for this first official piece of man cave art:
Just use a kids painting (ideally let them use only three colors, otherwise everything will turn brown eventually), put it in the printer, print some outlines on it, cut them out, and glue on a wood board from the IKEA As-Is section. This board cost me only $1 and the fish were free. See, I couldn’t have painted such a completely random pattern on the fish even if I tried.
We will definitely need lots and lots more of some cool art for the huge amount of walls down there.
Maybe arranged like this photoshopped vision:
With some cool art from this website.
Still missing and on the definite list to be done:
- Improve the lighting situation. The current ceiling fixtures are still too dim and in impossible locations.
- Get some lamps for the side tables for moody lighting when no complete illumination is needed.
Phew, our biggest project yet. So glad to be done for now.