Category Archives: Blog

DIY Picture Ledges

Is it just me, or does anyone else like to update a room every few years or so?  Jer thinks I am crazy, especially when I talk about redoing things that he thinks of as ‘done,’  Every time I look through old photos or blog posts and realize how long a picture has been hanging in the same place or the walls have been a certain color, I get the urge to start changing things.  I just tell Jer that is what he gets for marrying an interior designer!

Lately I have been feeling the need to give our living room a bit of an update.  It was one of the first rooms that I painted when we moved into our home almost five years ago.

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One of the main walls has a gallery wall full of photos and art that are fun and meaningful to our family.  I have added to the wall over the years, but it is getting too full to add much more.  I started thinking about some options that would allow me to rearrange the wall and change out items a lot more easily, and with fewer nails pounded into the wall.

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Hanging picture ledges was an obvious solution.  Picture ledges are screwed into the wall and then you can just lean your photos and art on it without the more ‘permanent’ nails.  This means you can layer items, and you can also switch them out a lot more easily.  I have looked at hundreds of images for inspiration, but this one is what finally motivated me:

one kings lane_rebecca minkoff_FAMILY PORTRAIT IN FRONT OF GALLERY WALL

I have looked into purchasing picture ledges, but most were either too small, too expensive or not good quality.  This week, I decided to tackle building my own ledges.  After researching several tutorials and plans on the internet, I found Ana White’s Ten Dollar Ledge tutorials.  She has both written instructions and a video.  Both are very helpful if you are relatively new to woodworking.  I ended up purchasing four 8-foot 1×4 boards and two 8-foot 1×2 boards.

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My ledges would be called Twelve Dollar Ledges (inflation since 2010), but that is still a great price.  I also purchased a Kreg jig to make pocket holes, so I could hide the screws on the underside of the shelf.

jig set up

It was incredibly cool and rewarding to end up with such a sturdy and professional-looking product when it was finished.

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I built two 6-foot ledges for our living room wall, and plan to use the remaining 2-foot pieces to make bookshelves for our kids.  Many people paint their picture ledges black or white, but I decided a light pine stain would give me the desired look.  

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I can always paint later if we get tired of the wood.  Once the ledges were aired-out enough to bring into the house, I marked their placement on the wall and located the studs.  

Underneath view

(The above picture reminds me; make sure the boards you purchase are straight.  I laid all mine on the floor on all sides, and still one of the 1×2 pieces ended up a little wonky on the end).  

Since the ledges are 6 feet long and will be holding quite a number of pictures, I wanted them to be as secure as possible on the wall.  To make sure they were in the right place and level, I first used painter’s tape as a guide.  I screwed in the center screw first, and then rechecked to make sure it was level before putting in more.

pic ledge measure and level

Once the ledges were hung safely on the wall, it was time to arrange the pictures.  My ledges are about 4 inches deep, which means there is room to layer frames, and I can also add in smaller objects for display.  

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I started by placing the larger frames in the background, and then began adding in the medium and small frames.  I am sure things will be rearranged often, but to me that makes it the perfect solution.  I quickly realized that the round frames were not going to work on the ledge, so I ended up hanging them on the wall instead.

Final ledge

We can have the gallery of photos and art we love, but I can change things up whenever things start to look stale.  I finally got around to updating some of the photos and filling in some blank spots.  I still want to repaint soon, but this little project helped give me a needed change in only a few hours.

 

Bright and Breezy Office Update

Pretty much everyone has some sort of ‘office’ in their home these days, whether it be at the dining room table or in a room by itself.  It is where you sit to pay your bills, organize your finances, search the internet and maybe even do some paid work.  I am currently working on a home office remodel for a local couple, and want to share some of the thoughts and ideas in the early stages.

Bunker Office Ideas Numbered

1. Color Palette: BHG 2016  2.  3. Ceiling Light  4. Orange Mirror 5. Gray Bookcase  6. Corner Desk with Hutch  7. A Little Window Photo: Minted.com 8. Ranunculus Photo 9. Tape Dispenser and Stapler  10. Desk Lamp  11. Blue Monday Photo: Minted.com  12. Storage Basket  13. Desk (similar to client’s)  14. Succulents: Image  15. Blue Box Planter and Mint Planter  16. Orange File Cabinet

The first thing I like to do is to make a list where I break down the requirements and challenges of the space.  

-The office needs to accommodate two people and their furniture.  

-The room is small (~10’x10’), with three desks currently in it.  Two of the desks will be staying, because one is a family heirloom and the other is a corner desk that does help maximize the space.  The heirloom desk is nice looking, but the corner desk isn’t beautiful.  The corner desk is also the home of a desktop computer.  

-The office now has a tall almond colored filing cabinet and two shorter ones, which are topped with a printer/copier.  The closet is filled with books and other miscellaneous supplies.  There is florescent lighting and tan carpet, both of which need updating.

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My clients are a fun couple who will be retiring in the next few years.  They like bright and unfussy spaces, so there will be no dark ‘den’ or ‘man-cave’ designs here!  We both fell in love with Better Homes and Gardens 2016 color palette, which includes a light gray, dusty blue, bright orange, mint green and blush pink.  In the right combination, it is both masculine and feminine, which is ideal for this couple’s shared office.  Adding in black or a dark stain on the desks also keeps the look from being too soft.

 A few DIY projects using some of the existing furniture will help keep the budget down.  Their current filing system will likely be downsized, but we plan to paint the filing cabinets that remain, since they are high quality.  We will be working on the two desks to help them blend more cohesively.  My clients are happy with the comfort of their current office chairs, so we will be recovering at least one of them with new upholstery.  Fresh paint on the walls and ceiling will brighten up everything, as will the addition of a new ceiling fixture and a desk lamp or two.

The closet space will be reconfigured to store books and office supplies more efficiently.  Quality shelving might have a combination of open and closed storage, possibly with some baskets or closed doors.  They are considering a small chair for a reading nook, so we will see how the space goes together once we get the space plan worked out.  For now, check out the idea board I created for a bright and breezy office space. 

 

 

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Loving Our Homes

Since Valentine’s Day is right around the corner, I thought it would be nice to take a moment to stop and appreciate our homes for all of the warmth and security they give us.  As a designer who is always looking at images and plans for beautiful spaces, sometimes I get caught up in everything I want to do to change our home.

I have all these ideas to make it better and often focus more on the problems our home has than on all of its great attributes.  So, at least for today, I want to think about what makes our home special.

I like the idea of taking a minute to write down three things about your house that you are thankful for.  It could be that you are thankful for a kitchen that supports you in making food for your family.  A refrigerator that keeps your food cold and fresh, or a table where your family can all sit down and have a meal together.  I am grateful for the sliding doors leading out to our backyard and garage.  They allow me to see the kids playing outside, and they let in beautiful sunlight to warm the kitchen.

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It might also help to focus on all of the areas you have already improved your home.  Instead of stressing about the horribly desolate laundry room, I can focus on the beautiful bathroom we just carefully remodeled.  The kitchen floors might still be ugly, but the cabinets and shelves are a huge improvement from when we moved in.  Taking before and after photos can help remind you of all the love and hard work you may have been pouring into your home.

Think about the connections you make with family and friends in your home. The games you play around the coffee table, the forts you build with sheets and sofa cushions, and the conversations with your friends and family around the dinner table.  If we appreciate and focus on the small joys, it helps us to see the beauty in all of our home’s imperfections.

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As I look around my home, I see a lot of messes.  But if I look at the meaning behind the messes, I can be thankful for many things.  The legos strewn all over the kid’s room means that my five-year-old daughter is building and creating, using fine-motor skills and her incredible imagination.    IMG_5548

The fort in the corner of the living room was a labor of love between my three-year-old son and his daddy.  

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The stack of bills on my desk means that we have heat and water, and a roof over our heads.  We are living life, and that is why there are a few messes.

If you like to take pictures, one way to appreciate our homes more is to carry your camera around and take photos of the little things that really matter.

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What makes you smile?  It could be the dog napping in the sun, your kids playing together, a good book waiting to be read or the chairs you lovingly painted to bring color into your home.  I think we would all be surprised at how many positive and wonderful things are happening in our imperfect homes!

 

Creating a Reading Nook

Have you ever wondered what to do with that extra corner space on a stair landing, or an odd shaped bump-out in a bedroom?

My friend Stephanie had this great extra space at the top of her stairs that she wanted to make into a reading nook for her girls.  Stephanie had a few key pieces picked out, but she enlisted my help to put it all together.  After the back-and-forth texting, pinning and emailing of many images and ideas, I put together an idea board of our favorites.  Idea boards are great, because they help you envision all of the elements on one page.  

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1. Gold Paper Garland, etsy.

2. Watercolor Fox, etsy.

3. Adventurers print, etsy.  Stephanie ended up ordering Stay Clever, Little Fox, etsy, which is so sweet!

4. Rustic Arrows, etsy.  Stephanie ended up getting these arrows instead, from the same artist.

5. Executive Nod Chair, Land of Nod.

6. Blue Clamp Light, IKEA.  We eventually chose this copper one.

7. Spice Racks, IKEA. Painted Gold with Martha Stewart craft paint.

8. Squirrel Pillow, The Company Store.

9. Blue throw. We ended up using one of the girl’s blankets, made by her grandma. 🙂

We had a few key things in mind when we were gathering our ideas for the kid’s reading space:

  1. Provide a comfortable place to sit.  Whether it is a pile of pillows, a bean bag or a kid-sized chair, a cozy spot to read will encourage kids to settle in.  Stephanie chose a soft child’s chair from landofnod.com.  I have also seen little tents or teepees made into reading spots.  Think about your child’s interests and current reading habits when choosing a seating type.  Here is Miss Reese in the chair, before we worked our magic:

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2. Place books at their level.  You want to have the books very accessible so they can easily grab the one they want.  We also chose to place the books with the fronts facing out, using spice racks from IKEA.  When kids can see the covers, they are more likely to pick up the book and start reading it.  Just pay attention to what the kids are reading/looking at and rotate the selection when they get tired of the ones that are out.

We installed four shelves, using self-drilling drywall anchors and screws.

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3. Provide adequate light.  The corner at the top of the stairs was a little dark, so we attached a small led clip-on light to one of the shelves.  It can be angled easily to spotlight on the book.  Some other options are pendants or fairy lights, depending on the location and the amount of light needed.

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Those three things are really the only necessities for a reading spot, but we added some color and decorations in a self-titled ‘woodland animals and mixed metals’ theme.  The watercolor print of a fox with flowers on her hat tied right in with the tiny flowers on the chair.  We also wanted an uplifting quote, which was found in another fox print from etsy.  

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A gold paper garland, copper lamp, and gold painted shelves added a bit of metallic glam for two fun little girls.  We are still waiting on some wooden arrows, but they will compliment the wood frames and add another ‘wood’land touch.

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The girls love their special reading corner and it adds a sweet welcoming scene from several viewpoints in their home.  Thanks Stephanie and Tyson!

Guest Room Accent Wall

Wooden accent wall

A few months back, I told you I was giving our guest room an update.

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Yikes! A scary catch-all room.

I scoured Pinterest for some inspiration on an accent wall that would be unique, warm and fun.  My attention was caught by the wide array of wood clad walls, and especially by the ones using reclaimed wood or recycled pallets.  After sifting through many images that were too dark and rustic for our personal taste and the style of our home, I came across this image that felt much more modern and industrial.  The photo showed a wall in a studio office where pallets were used and there were occasional swatches of color remaining from the edges of the pallets.

 As I began to search for wood pallets, I soon learned that they are neither easy to come by or inexpensive/free anymore!  After pricing pallets and deciding how many it would take, along with the excessive time it would take to disassemble them all, Jer talked me into a ‘browsing’ trip at Home Depot.

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I ended up being so glad I hadn’t pulled the trigger on the wood pallets.  We found a product called Tri-PLY, which is advertised as a Multipurpose Project Panel.  Tri-PLY is a 3/16in thick  panel that comes in 4 x 4 ft sheets, with a very thin wood grain veneer.  It is moisture resistant, which is an added bonus since we used it on a basement wall.  We loaded up our car with five panels and an idea. IMG_3022

Using our table saw, Jer and I ripped the panels into 4 inch widths.  After that, I took the more manageable pieces and cut them into ⅔ and ⅓ sections (32 inches and 16 inches).

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Following that somewhat tedious process, I hauled the newly fashioned ‘boards’ inside and began to nail them to the wall.  Since there is a window on the wall with a bed centered under it, I started attaching the boards under the window sill.  I used brown paneling nails to make them just slightly visible on the boards.  I attempted to alternate sizes and wood grain patterns and colors for interest.  I pounded nails for several hours while Jer took our kids to a movie.

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As you get to the edge of the wall, you most likely will not end up having a piece that fits exactly.  So, the saw skills get to come in handy again!  I held up each piece and marked it top and bottom with a pencil.  Then I numbered the piece and the wall so I remembered where it went.  I usually only took five or six at a time to cut, so things wouldn’t get too crazy.  I had to cut one or two of them twice, but I was overall very happy with the fit.

IMG_3030 Since the swatches of color on the wall was one of the major attractions of my inspiration photo, I decided to add some color to our wall also.  I used a combination of acrylic craft paint and some leftover wall paint.  I wanted a somewhat ‘worn’ look, so I watered down the paint before loosely brushing it on.  I sanded some areas where I thought it was too dark, and dry brushed others.  I tried to stop before it got too crazy looking, since my goal was modern cozy, not circus.

IMG_3028Overall, I am very pleased with the results.  The thin panels were very easy to work with, and the thin nails won’t leave huge marks when the wood is eventually removed.

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I would recommend this product for a light-use room, such as a guest room or office.  It might not hold up well in a kid’s room.  One thing I didn’t like about the panels was a sticker right on the front that was impossible to remove.  I ended up having plenty leftover, but I also used those sticker pieces for the edges and just cut off the sticker.

wood panel accent wall with eyeball sconces and colorful throw.

wood panel accent wall with eyeball sconces and colorful throw.

There you have it! An accent wall inspired by wood pallets, but created for about a third of the price.  We reused some narrow IKEA shelves from the kitchen for floating nightstands and I purchased these fantastic eyeball sconces from Urban Outfitters.  The throw is from Lulu & Georgia, but it is temporarily out of stock, and quite a bit more expensive than when I bought it.

We are loving the look, and it feels so much more comfortable and welcoming.  Updates on the rest of the room coming soon!

My “Must-Do-Before-Winter” List

There is something so satisfying about writing out a To Do list and being able to cross off items as they are complete.  Before fall completely turns to winter here in Southeast Idaho, I have a few things on my list:

1.Deep Clean.  

scrubbing the dining chairs

I know spring is usually when we think about deep cleaning everything, but our house definitely needs it again after the sand, garden soil and popsicles of summer.  I decided to tackle the garbage cans and windows first, since a warmer day is nice for both of those.  The kids and I gathered all the garbage cans in the house and took them out to the lawn for a good spray with the garden hose.  We scrubbed the dining chairs with warm soapy water, and left everything out in the sun to dry.  The kids washed some of their outdoor toys before we store them away or bring them indoors.

Toys all get a good scrub before they are put away, too

Next, I will be washing the sofa cushions (ours are thankfully removable and machine-washable!) and pillow covers.  The kitchen and pantry will follow, and they are due for a decluttering at the same time.  I like to remove every item from the cupboards and shelves and wipe them down before putting back only what we really use or need.  I am trying out some homemade cleaners using recipes and labels I found on curbly.com.  They sure smell good, so I am excited to see how they work!

trying homemade cleaners via curbly.com

homemade cleaners via curbly.com

2. Finish Outdoor Painting/Spray Painting.  We have been trying to finish painting our house trim.  Nothing like leaving things to the last minute.  The biggest obstacle is that all the trim needed scraped and sanded prior to priming and painting.  The painting is usually my job, and it requires a very tall ladder.  Ours is ancient and wobbly, so I require an assistant to stand below and catch me if I fall.  Jer has also been working on this when he can, so I think we are down to just touch-ups!! yay!  Check.

 I have also been gathering all the things I want to spray paint before the cold weather causes a forced hiatus.

3. Get Out Winter Clothes and Organize Them.  Our kids have grown a lot since last winter.  I will need to take out all the winter coats, boots, hats and mittens for them to try on.  We have an entry closet that is slated for an overhaul very soon, so I will come up with a system to organize the winter outdoor clothes there.  It is finally time to exchange the tank tops for the sweaters!

4. Put Away the Lawn Furniture and Outdoor Toys.  We have been squeezing in some last-minute barbeques and outdoor birthday parties around the fire pit, but it is about time to store the table and chairs in the garage for the winter.  Before storing the outdoor toys, I will discard any that are broken and donate those that the kids have outgrown.

5.Prepare our Home and Vehicle.  Today I purchased and installed new furnace filters and checked all the fire and carbon monoxide detectors.

I also replaced burned out lightbulbs, because winter’s shorter days make for some long, dark evenings.  We had a dark corner in the living room, so I brought in another lamp to cheer things up a bit.

 Finally, I will give my car a good cleaning, inside and out.  I love it when the car is clean.  I need to schedule an oil change and get the tires checked.  I will put a warm blanket, extra hat and gloves and a winter emergency kit in the trunk.

Whew! That should keep us busy for awhile.  Let’s hope for a few more sunny, warm days to help keep us motivated to check everything off the list.

Front Porch Update for Fall

With Halloween and Christmas being the two holidays most decorated for, we have been seeing black cats and bats popping up all over town.  Ironically, I am not one to do a lot of decorating for the seasons or holidays.  If I do, they tend to stay there for awhile past their celebratory time.  This year, for some reason Fall has me digging out a wreath for the front door and painting a doormat.  

A few years ago, I made my favorite Fall/Halloween wreath ever.  I spray painted a grapevine wreath bright orange, and bought several little rubber snakes to weave through the branches.  It still makes me smile, which means I still get to use it on the front door.  To update it a bit this year, I added some orange and black feathers from our craft closet.

Front door update: snake wreath, spider web door mat, magnetic letters

The snakes could be replaced with branches of leaves, mini pumpkins or even little turkeys for Thanksgiving. I love to decorate with grapevine wreaths.  They are so simple and inexpensive, and look great in their natural brown or spraypainted any color of the rainbow.

After seeing some fun painted doormats on Pinterest, I decided to make one of my own.  Since it seems we are going with a Halloween theme, I cut the mat into a half-circle shape and painted a spider’s web on the doormat with white craft paint.

Spider web rug

Since it felt a little small for our porch area, I moved the flower planters and pumpkins closer to the door for a more cozy feel.  After Halloween is over, I plan to repaint the larger doormat that was at the front door.  It is very faded and could use a spicy new paint job.  Even if it only lasts the season, it could be painted again in the spring, or exchanged for a new one at that time.

Our yellow door is metal, so I had the idea to use my kid’s magnetic alphabet pieces to spell out BOO. In the future, I will probably paint all of the magnets the same color so they stand out better against the door.  It is a fun and easy way to update a little message for your visitors.  For example, ‘Be Thankful’ for Thanksgiving, or even a simple ‘Hello’ for an everyday greeting.  The kids have been having fun rearranging them and adding some of the other letters from our fridge!

Arranging pumpkins, gourds, fall mums and other flowers around your front door also adds to the festive fall mood.  The succulents I planted in the spring are still looking really healthy, so I decided they were just perfect for fall, too!  We had a few pumpkins from the garden and some large rocks that fill in the space.

Indoors, we are taking advantage of the last flowers growing in our yard and gardens and filling up vases all over the house.

Cosmos

We have a tree that has flowing branches with berries and they are also pretty in a small vase or jar.  Add a pumpkin spice candle or a simmering pot of homemade citrus and cinnamon potpourri and there is no question that fall is in the air.

 

Renovation Diary, Part 3: Getting to Work

One day you are making a plan and tearing out your bathroom floor, and the next day you realize you have to put it all back together again.  Let me give you a heads up–it is a lot quicker and easier to tear old junk out of a bathroom than it is to put the new stuff in.

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Our first weekend started off very productively with demolition and putting in a new subfloor.  

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At the beginning of the week, I proactively added a waterproofing goop to the floor under the tub and we moved the tub back in from the yard.  On Tuesday evening, Jer was putting up cement board in the shower while I put the kids to bed.  All of the sudden, there was an extremely loud crash and a yell from the bathroom.  In the middle of a balancing act involving a drill, screws and heavy backerboard, the drill fell into the tub and chipped the finish.  Argh!

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After a night spend researching the pros and mostly cons of fixing a chip on the bottom of a bathtub, we decided to replace it while we still could.  Thankfully, there was one in stock and Jer picked it up on his lunch break.  He fortunately realized while still in the parking lot that the drain hole was on the wrong side!  After another painstaking tub wrangling, we had the chipped tub out and the new one in that evening.  Time gets sort of blurry after that.

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Even knowing how much prep work was involved, it still took way longer than I wanted it to.  Perhaps it was because I mostly worked on it after the kids were in bed or when my wonderful mom had a day off to help watch them.  When I got things to the point where I needed Jer’s help again, I worked on the detail things.  I painted the ceiling black.

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I got pretty good at mixing up small batches of thinset, but the cleanup was less than enjoyable.  After the shower walls were mostly tiled, I  had a day or two where I contemplated not tiling the lower walls in the rest of the bathroom.  I took a break and painted the ceiling again.  This time I used two coats of primer on it before painting it a light mint color.  I really think the black ceiling would have worked if the ceilings were taller, but it just didn’t feel right in this space.  Also, my mom got claustrophobic every time I even talked about it, so there was that. 😉

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After the shower and walls were tiled, I moved on to the floors.  Tiling the floors was incredibly rewarding and much easier than the walls.  Something to say for gravity working for you instead of against you.  

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After that came the grouting.  I wanted a very dark grout, but I worried because I knew my tile setting job wasn’t perfect and dark grout would accentuate the flaws. I was also overwhelmed at the thought of having to mix up yet another powder and water.  Thankfully, my dad talked me into exchanging the powder for a premixed grout that never has to be sealed.  It was considerably more expensive, but it likely saved my sanity.  Since it came in a little container with a lid, I could grab a half hour here and there to work when I had the time.  We are happy with the final result, and the contrast between the white tiles and the dark grout makes the whole space look more modern.

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Several weeks More than a month and a half after the fateful start, we are nearing the finish line.  True to form, even those little details at the end take way more time than you think they should.  You will notice that we are still missing a window in these photos.  It’s a very good thing it was summertime!

Next up…Renovation Diary, Part 4: Bathroom Reveal!!

 

Renovation Diary, Part 2: Inspiration and Research

When you are thinking about remodeling a bathroom or any other room in your home, one of the first things you should do is start gathering ideas.  My favorite way to gather ideas is to look in magazines or online for images that I love.  I tear magazine pages out and keep them in a binder, sometimes writing or circling what interested me about the image.  For online images, I use Pinterest to organize by topic or by room.  As an interior designer, I am constantly looking at and saving images, so when it was time to redo our bathroom I had a ton of ideas all ready to go.

After you gather a fair amount of images, it is important to look at them all together and see if any common theme becomes apparent.  With my images, it was obvious that high-contrast black and white was what I was drawn to.  One thing about bathrooms is that you can have a great neutral base and add a lot of personality with colorful accent pieces, towels and shower curtains.  My husband and I both enjoy a modern aesthetic with some color, texture and natural wood added to warm up the room.  Another bit of information we learned from the inspiration images was that I was going to have to learn how to tile!  I have always loved the look of subway tiles in a shower, and we decided to use them part way up the rest of the walls as well.

Once you have decided on your design direction, it is a good idea to put together an idea board (or have a designer help you with this step).  This is where you gather all of the different elements in the room and arrange them together to make sure they will compliment each other and support your vision.  I use Photoshop for this purpose, but there are several other programs that will allow you to arrange and resize images.  A large bulletin board or piece of posterboard will allow you to easily arrange magazine images. To help visualize what the finished outcome will be, consider hiring a designer to draw up the space with your selected furnishings, finishes and materials.

Bathroom Inspiration

1. Shower curtain, anthropologie.com.  This one is no longer made, so I will likely be making my own.  I also want it to be extra long, so that limits the options of remade shower curtains.

2. Vanity light, home depot.com.

3. Lockable cabinet, ikea.com.  We will likely get one for each family member, leaving the kid’s unlocked.  We have a little girl who loves to get into things.

4. Round mirror, cb2.com.  We are mixing in some warm wood tones to warm up all the black and white a bit.

5. Colorful towels.  I am contemplating different colors for each family member.   Does anyone else get bothered by sharing towels?  I really don’t like reaching for my towel to find it all wet already!

6. White subway tile with charcoal grout.  I am also placing the tiles vertically in a stacked pattern.  I figure since it is my first tiling job, I might as well make it as difficult as possible. ha.

7. Vanity, ikea.com.  We are actually using the Godmorgon vanity with the Rattviken sink.  We are using the Dalskar faucet.

8. Floor tile, home depot.com.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this tile.  Home Depot has really got it going on in the tile department.  This particular tile has 3 or 4 different patterns you can make.

9. Hand painted knobs, etsy.com.  I will be painting my own.  We are choosing these rather than towel bars.  Our bathroom is pretty small and hooks just make more sense for us.  I might sew a loop on each of our towels to make them easier to put on hooks.

10. Asparagus fern.  They like damp environments with a fair amount of light.  I already have one, and think it might like living in the bathroom next.

11. Wood and metal shelf, westelm.com.  I will DIY a version of this also. I want a mix  of wood and black metal to tie in the vanity light and mirror.

When you are satisfied with your material choices, it is time to get them ordered.  Keep in mind that some things may not be in stock in the stores, and you will have to special order them.  This process can take awhile, especially if they happen to be broken when they arrive, like my floor tiles and glass block window were.  To speed up the whole process considerably just choose items that are already in stock.  Of course I didn’t do that, so we have spent a bit of time playing the waiting game.  Since my husband and I have been doing all of the work ourselves and aren’t trying to schedule contractors, it has all worked out (except for that crazy window!).

Here are some things we have learned in the ‘Inspiration and Research’ process:

1. Researching tools and materials can help you save a lot of money.  Instead of expensive artisan cement tiles, I was able to find a beautiful ceramic replica for a fraction of the price.

2. YouTube videos and tutorials can help a lot.  They can either show you how to do something, or help you decide when to hire a professional.

3. Think about using basic materials in new ways.  Even simple and timeless subway tiles can take on a unique look with a different arrangement or contrasting grout.

Next Up, Renovation Diary: Putting it All Back Together.

 

Renovation Diary, Part 1: Bathroom Demolition

Some projects start out so innocently.  Just a short while ago, our main bathroom started presenting an occasional smell of mildew.  

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Thinking some water from the kid’s baths might have leaked under the stick-on vinyl tiles, I decided to peel one or two up and take a peek.  My husband told me to go right ahead, hoping that peeling up vinyl would keep me occupied for awhile and I wouldn’t have time to get any more crazy projects going.  That’s exactly how it all began.

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The vinyl tiles broke and tore as they peeled up, which didn’t break my heart any.  Directly underneath were some tiles that had been laid on top of a second layer of vinyl.

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Unfortunately, vinyl is not a solid base for tile, and at least 15 of the tiles were broken.

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Most of the broken pieces were around the toilet and beside the tub, which soon became the obvious location for the mildew smell.

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 Six layers of flooring later, we finally reached the subfloor, which consisted of diagonal planks across the joists.  Jer jumped in to help at the third or fourth layer of flooring, resigning himself to the fact that this was going to be a joint effort.

Six layers of flooring on top of the subfloor.

Six layers of flooring on top of the subfloor.

After digging through layers of vinyl, tile, vinyl, plywood, linoleum and plywood, we finally reached the subfloor. Most of the damage was actually removed, but we decided to put a good solid base of ¾ inch plywood over the entire floor to give us a fresh start.  The tub had to be removed at this point and we decided to do a complete bathroom renovation.

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Aspen was excited to get out her eye protection and hammer to help with the demolition.

Aspen was excited to get out her eye protection and hammer to help with the demolition.

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As you might have gathered from the flooring situation, there have been several DIY attempts throughout the years toward updating this bathroom.  The last rendition before we moved in involved the vinyl floor tiles, lots of paint, faux beadboard paneling, and about 8 tubes of caulk.  

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The vanity drawers were not usable, and the faucet had an annoying squeak that I never could get rid of.  It was high-time for a renovation anyway.  Thank goodness for an over-sensitive nose and an understanding husband.

Demolition involved the removal of the tub, vanity, glued on shower walls, and original aluminum window.  The toilet was moved to the garage, and we also intended to reuse the tub.  We decided to tile the shower/tub area, so we also removed the drywall in that area to make room for cement board.  The lower part of the drywall was removed along the toilet and vanity wall because of some mold issues, and we opted to expose the cinder block chimney to gain 4 inches of space for a new vanity.

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Here are some things we learned in the demolition process:

  1. Demolition is messy. We rented a large dumpster from the City of Pocatello for one day and quickly cleared out the majority of the mess.  What I didn’t count on was the thick layer of dust that look up residence on every flat surface (and some vertical surfaces, too!) in the house.
  2. Gloves, face masks and eye protection are a must.  Bathroom, mold, rusty nails, enough said.
  3. You might get more than you bargained for.  Renovations are never what you expect, especially on an older home.

Next up, Renovation Diary: Inspiration and Research.

The Uncluttered Life: Office Revival

Whether your office consists of an entire room or a little desk tucked in somewhere, chances are it is a major clutter magnet.  Seeing your desk full of clutter can make the often stressful tasks of work and bill paying even more difficult.  Since I work from home and my office space is located in our living room, it was next on our agenda for decluttering and simplifying.  I was eager to get started, because I know I am a hundred times more productive and happy in a clean space.  Here are a few things I did to create some calm in the office:

1. Photograph the Before!  This is so important so you can see your amazing progress.  Every time I get discouraged, I look at the Before photo and see how much progress I have made.  Photos are also a more objective way to view your ‘stuff’ and can help you identify problem areas.

2.  Make a list of areas to work on: Mine are paper piles, shelf clutter, too many unused books, stacks of magazines and an inefficient desktop filing system.

3.  Tackle the most visible problems first.  I took care of the pile of papers and other miscellania to the right of my computer.  This also happened to involve my desktop filing system, which was taking up more valuable space to the left of my computer.  In the interest of simple living, I decided that I only want my computer on the desktop.  As I looked at photos of my desk area, I realized I could be using the side walls of my desk area much more efficiently.  I decided to hang a single file bin and a simple organizing system I found at Staples.  I used Command Strip picture hangers so I wouldn’t have to drill or pound a nail into my shelves.

4. What do we do with the paper!?  The main reason you could even see the top of my desk at all was because we go paperless whenever possible.  I set up automatic bill paying if it is available, and keep track of things on my desk calendar.  When I sorted my paper pile, I put it into categories and made a list.  Then, I made sure I had those files set up correctly in my file cabinet.

5.  Donate books that are outdated, no longer relevant or that you don’t plan to reread.  Be ruthless and realistic.  I also went through my magazines with a much colder eye than I usually do, and was able to part with a large number of them.  The extra room on my bookshelves allows me to see and use my remaining books more easily.

6.  Remember how refreshing it is to work at an uncluttered desk.  Even the process of clearing out has caused me to feel more energized.  Cheers to productivity!

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What are some things you do to keep your office space tidy?

Summertime Picnic Table

Last spring, there was a wholehearted attempt to create a beautiful outdoor oasis on the concrete slab in our back yard.  You know, a budget-friendly replication of those those gorgeous outdoor spaces with a barbecue grill and dining set for cozy alfresco dining, modern cozy sofa and chairs for intimate conversation and a fire pit made for marshmallows.  And lights! Lots of beautiful twinkling lights.

Working with a non existent budget, I purchased a faded green plastic Rubbermaid table from Idaho Youth Ranch for $8.  I decided I would spray paint it a neutral gray color and it would be perfect with some brightly colored chairs.

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Except it wasn’t.  Six cans of gray spray paint later and I still had a table that looked like a splotchy mess.  Some parts were glossy and some were matte, and bright sunlight only emphasized each flaw.  Luckily, the legs and edges turned out okay, so when the top had plates of food on it, you couldn’t really tell how bad it was.  I was disappointed though.  My inexpensive ‘fix’ wasn’t amazingly beautiful and it was turning out to cost more than I planned.

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I have since discovered that an initial coat or two of spray primer probably would have made all the difference in my finished product.  The table top had weathered enough that it was just absorbing all of the paint, and a primer would have sealed the surface first.  In spite of its imperfections, the table was well-used last summer before being stored in the garage for winter.

Most people would probably call it quits on the old table and say ‘lesson learned.’  On the other hand, I was determined to keep a perfectly good and sturdy table from the landfill.  I brought out the gray table this week and decided to see what I could do with it once more.

I don’t know how well this will hold up, but I primed the whole table with indoor/outdoor primer, then painted it with two coats of leftover gray exterior house paint.  I will keep you updated on how well it holds up, but I am happy with how smooth and even the coverage is.

I love gathering ideas on Pinterest and noticed some cheerful stenciled and geometric patterns on table tops.  I decided to use painter’s tape and some leftover paint to make my own design on the top of our patio table.  I sketched up an idea on paper first.

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Then I measured it out and drew it on the table with a pencil.

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To make things a bit easier, I traced the design onto the front and back of parchment paper (like a ‘carbon-copy’) and then transferred it to the table.

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Then I taped it off with painter’s tape.  I sealed the edges of the tape with a quick coat of gray paint, to keep the colored paint from seeping under the tape.  worked like a charm!

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Next, I painted several coats of acrylic craft paint on the taped-off shapes.  For the circles, I had just traced around a cup, so I did my best to paint inside the lines.

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When I took off the tape, I had nice crisp lines!

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I could have left it like this, but it felt a little ‘flat’ to me, so I added a few hand-painted details.  My husband laughed at me, because I had taken so much effort to make crisp lines, and then I painted over them.  I just ignored him. ha.

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When all of the paint was dry, I coated the entire table with a water-based outdoor urethane to protect it.

IMG_3002As far as thrift store furniture makeovers go, this particular project cost more than I anticipated.  Still, it came in under $50, and when you consider the cost of a brand-new table, this one doesn’t seem so bad.

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Paired with an outdoor rug and brightly painted chairs, I think we are well on our way to a fun outdoor dining space.

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Bring on the sunshine, cheeseburgers and icy lemonade!