Category Archives: Details

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.

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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.

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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.

 

Focal Point Range Tile

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Ok, so clear back in August when we were starting to tear apart out bathroom, I found a small box of shiny gray square tiles at the Habitat for Humanity ReStore in Pocatello.  My idea was to ‘practice’ hanging tiles by putting those behind my stove as a focal point backsplash.

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Yeah. So in the middle of my bathroom renovation, I mixed up a batch of thinset and attempted to put tiles up behind the stove in my kitchen.  They slid down the wall.  I had a momentary breakdown/panic session as I thought I would have to call in someone to tile my whole bathroom, since I was obviously failing.  My mom wisely told me I was taking on too much, and to just focus on the bathroom.

Obviously, she was right.  I eventually figured out the right consistency for my thinset, and the bathroom tiling went pretty smoothly.  I did learn that it was much easier to lay tile on the floor than on the wall, but I made it through to a pretty decent finish.

Fast forward 8 months (!), and the area behind my stove was still splattered with old thinset.  I had to avoid photographing that area, because it was obviously not finished.  But, all of the tile materials were finally put away, and it was hard to think about getting that mess started again.

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Lately I have been trying to finish projects that I already have materials for, so I got out the little box of gray tiles and started playing around with the layout.   Then, I added in a few tiles I had remaining from the bathroom floor.  And I eventually decided (after taking lots of pictures) to use just the prettier tiles. 🙂  They are from the Merola line at Home Depot.

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Of course, then I had to decide on a pattern for those tiles that would best fit the small space behind the stove.

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We decided on the last one, so then I had to get out all the messy tile stuff and get to work.

Unfortunately, even with all my bathroom tiling, I didn’t really learn the concept of tiling UP the wall, instead of down.  I started at the most obvious place to me: in the center, right under the range vent.

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Which meant I spent a LOT of time doing this:

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Which was very tedious, especially since the kids were hollering for something every two minutes (they were sick all spring break).  But Landry did step in and help.

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So, what I should have done is to measure out where my bottom row would be and nail up a ledger board.  Then, start the tile at the bottom and build up.  Yep, much easier and much less time-consuming.

Many, many hours later, I finally made it to the end.

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I framed in the tile with some 3/4 inch wood slats I had from another project.  I painted them a dark charcoal (the same as our table) and it really tied everything together with the charcoal grout left over from the bathroom remodel.

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I ended up tiling a whole row below what is seen behind the range.  I figured this way, if we ever get a lower profile range, the backsplash will still work really well!  I know I sure wouldn’t mind seeing a little more of that awesome tile!

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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!

 

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.

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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!!

 

Things that take longer than you expect…

A LOT longer.

I have been wanting to strip the paint of the doors and drawers on our hallway ‘linen’ closet since we moved in.  They had a least 5 layers of paint, and it was really drippy and goopy, especially around the edges and the handles.  It was also starting to chip off, and I was mildly worried that some of the original coats might have been lead-based paint (I did test this, but couldn’t really get a clear reading–I just made sure the paint was gone before sanding).

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Since we have been having some nice sunny days, my little helpers and I took the project outside!  (I really don’t know what they were doing in this picture. Probably watching bugs).

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I have fond memories of stripping paint from an old piano with my mom when I was a teenager (eleven layers of paint!), I decided to give it a try on the doors and drawer fronts.  Instead of the highly toxic stuff we used 20 years ago, I used Citristrip, which is safer, biodegradable, has no harsh fumes and instead smells like an orange creamsicle.  It says it is safe to use indoors, but I am sort of really messy, so I went outside.  I laid all the pieces on a drop cloth and proceeded to paint on the orange gel.

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After waiting over an hour for the gel to work, I eagerly ran my putty knife through the goo, getting a satisfying layer of old paint on my knife.  That first run through is always the most fun.  IMG_3647

Then I just used my putty knife and scraped off all the rest of the paint!  Just kidding.  I scraped off the top layer of paint, leaving the next layer exposed.

You can see that the first layer didn’t bubble up like my future layers did.  I don’t know why…it did peel off in big sheets though.  I wonder if that top layer was just too thick? Or maybe I needed an even thicker coating of Citristrip?

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Then I repeated the process–three or four more times.  Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it, but it was a long and tedious journey over the course of several days.

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I tried to use a generous amount of gel, getting a nice thick layer on the paint.  I varied the waiting time from 30 minutes to 20 hours.  Even though they claim the gel will remain wet for 24 hours, it was super hot outside, so the gel was drying within an hour on one of the days I was working.  I am pretty sure it was much hotter than the recommended temperature on the bottle.  I did try misting it with water, which helped a little.  The closer I got to the wood, the easier the paint seemed to peel up, so that was a big plus in the project motivation category.

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After a nice sanding, the drawers looked good, so I decided to seal them with a natural stain.  I liked the look of the light wood, but it turns out that the doors were a different kind of wood, much more ‘red’ and grained.

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See the difference?  It became even more obvious after I applied the wood conditioner and natural stain.  So I tried to blend them a bit by adding some gray stain…

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…which made them look blotchy and dirty.  I am not a fan of the ‘already dirty’ look, and they still didn’t go well together so it was back to the drawing board.

Because I still was convinced I wanted to see some of the natural wood grain, I decided to try a paint ‘wash’ next.  I picked out a fun color because the hallway is a bit boring.  I put some water in a cup and mixed a bit of paint into it.

IMG_3731 I didn’t have a particular ratio, I just watered it down quite a bit.  I planned to do several coats, knowing the color would build up a bit with each layer.  This is after the first coat:

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And after the third coat:

 

 

 

 

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I loved how it built up without becoming thick, and you can still see the wood grain through it.

I chose to reuse the original large square pulls, since they reference the time period of the house and I liked the size.  Removing the paint from them was another test of my patience, but the gel actually took most of it off on the first try.

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After settling on the color for the doors, I sprayed the pulls gold, to give it a more modern look.

Painted Hall Doors

And we officially love it!!  The color brightens up the hall without being too crazy–for us, anyway! 😉  Now everything closes so much better, and actually stays closed.

If I haven’t completely dissuaded you by this point, I will tell you that I would do it all again in a heartbeat.  Just start with a small project, use a thick layer of the gel and don’t expect it to be completely finished in an hour.  Garage sales and thrift stores have a ton of furniture pieces just begging for a good ‘safer’ chemical peel.

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?

Hand Painted Statement Wall

Many of my favorite home projects are the quick ones, where adding a simple detail makes a big impact.  It is fun to shake things up a bit and get a fresh perspective on different spaces in your home occasionally. For example, I still love the bright orange wall behind my office desk and shelves, even after living with them for over 3 years.  But, I was in the mood for a simple change that would update the space and add some personality.

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The rope mirror is still one of my favorite projects, but it takes up so much  space on the wall behind the desk.  It has a new home in the guest room (pictures coming soon on that recent makeover).

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The somewhat unlikely pairing of orange and gold has stood out to me lately.  I suppose if gold were on the color wheel, it would be closest to orange and yellow, making it a stand-in analogous color.  For those of you who haven’t studied the color wheel for awhile, analogous colors are the ones next to each other on the color wheel.  Pairing analagous colors typically leads to a more harmonious color palette.

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After looking at some examples of orange and gold wallpaper online, I decided I wanted a hand-drawn look.  I opted to paint the gold onto the wall freehand instead of using a stencil.  Since my wall space was only 2.5’ x 3’, I loosely drew the vertical lines with a pencil and angle ruler.  I didn’t measure the spacing because I wanted it varied, some wide and some narrow.

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Next, I used a jar of Martha Stewart Living Metallic Paint in Golden Pearl that I already had.  It is a really soft, frosty champagne gold color.  I took a medium art brush and painted the vertical lines.

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Then, I semi-randomly added circles to the lines, stepping back occasionally to make sure they were spaced okay.  After the paint was dry, I went back and touched up some areas where the orange was showing through.  All total, it probably took a little over an hour to complete the project.

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Rebecca Hermance Desk Accent Wall

A little post on the desk/office filing accessories coming soon!  I am trying to simplify, simplify, simplify!

There are many options if you are looking to add some color or personality to a small wall space.  Simply adding a splash of color is an easy place to start, but you don’t have to stop there!  Stencils, stamps, chalkboard paint, dry erase paint, murals, vinyl decals and paint markers are all relatively inexpensive solutions to a plain wall.  A small space is also a great place to showcase a bit of fun wallpaper.

Don’t be afraid to try something you love in your space.  If you end up not liking it, a bit of paint will easily change it right back the way it was.  Starting with a small accent wall is just the jumpstart you need to refresh and personalize your home

Bold, Colorful and Modern: Guest Room

*The idea for this post was suggested by the fun folks at Chairish.com.  Their unique site lets you shop for and sell furniture easily.  I personally love the Mid-Century Modern section because the style is simple, timeless and so easy to pair with other pieces you might have.*

With less than 30 days until my fabulous sister comes to visit for a month, I have guest room updates high on my priority list.  In its current state, our guest room is sleep-able, but I wouldn’t call it highly comfortable or well designed by any stretch of the imagination.  I put together an idea board to show you what I have been thinking:

Chairish Post_Guest Room


1. Wood paneled wall with floating shelves via remodelista.com
2. BRIMNES storage bed via ikea.com
3. Mexican serape blanket via luluandgeorgia.com
4. Pantone’s Radiant Orchid
5. Mid-Century George Kovacs “Caterpillar” lamps from chairish.com
6. Mid-Century Modern Splash Oil Painting via chairish.com
7. Modern Thonet Bentwood Chair via chairish.com
8. Similar Midcentury Modern Sideboard via chairish.com

Our guest room also doubles as my sewing/craft/art room, so we have turned the closet into a work space with a desk, shelves and pegboard for organizing supplies.  We used an old closet door for a desk running the full length of the closet.  I painted it (4) Pantone’s radiant orchid for a splash of color.  My resourceful hubby made me some shelves out of some old deck wood.  The closet is a complete juxtaposition of rustic industrial and modern, which is quickly becoming the style of the room.

We recently purchased the (2) BRIMNES storage bed from Ikea because I needed large drawers to stash my art supplies and paper.  I like how sturdy the drawers are, and the simple design of the bed means it will work nicely with any style.  In order to easily pull out the drawers without having to move a lot of furniture, I would like to have floating shelves on each side of the bed to serve as nightstands. (1) Tying them in with a wood paneled wall or headboard would add some midcentury architecture to our little 1950’s home.

I love the look of simple white bedding topped with a (3) Mexican serape blanket, and it would compliment the bright orchid work desk.  A pair of neutral mirrored (5) lamps and splashy abstract (6) art highlight similar colors and tie the room together.

A comfortable, low profile (7) chair gives guests a place to sit and read or put up their feet.  A dresser or (8) sideboard for clothes or miscellaneous storage takes the place of a closet.  I purchased over-the-door hooks for clothes that require hanging.

There you have it! A fun combination of bold colors, vintage and reclaimed woods and furniture with simple, clean lines.  It all adds up to a comfortable and unique space anyone would feel welcome in.

* I have not been compensated in any way for this post, but it was so fun to put together. I can’t wait to get started on the room!

 

 

Curtains, Drapes and Blinds, Oh My!

*For those of you around Pocatello, I am teaching “The Organized Home: Clean Sweep” on Monday, February 9, from 6-8:30 pm!  Sign up through ISU Workforce Training!

I know I am not the only one who finds this time of year a little depressing.  One way I try to combat the short days and cold weather is to open up the shades and let the daylight in for as many hours as possible.  I am much more likely to open the window treatments if they are quick and easy to operate.  Here are a few suggestions that will help you let the sun shine in during those precious daylight hours:

1. Hang your curtains or drapes high and wide.  Hanging the fabric almost entirely outside of the window frame allows much more of the window (and daylight) to be open and visible.  Hanging the panels 6-9 inches above the window makes your room appear taller.  While I have always tried to do this, the curtains in our living room were too short to hang much above the window. IMG_6351We lived for a short time with the left curtains still lower and the right ones raised up! This photo really shows how much difference it made to raise the curtains higher.IMG_6630I recently purchased longer curtain panels, so we raised both rods to the 8-foot ceiling.  We were amazed how much taller and bigger our living room appeared!

2. Make the window treatment easy to open.  If it is tedious to pull back the drapes, it is less likely to get done.  Our living room curtain panels have grommets at the top so they slide easily on the rod, and I open them every day.  Ring clips also work well for simple fabric panels.  If you invest in heavier drapes, make sure you also get quality, smooth running pulls.  IMG_6613

3. Consider layering window treatments.  For our bedroom, we have inexpensive bamboo stick blinds layered under floor-to-ceiling curtain panels.  The curtains usually stay open all the time, and we just open and close the blinds.  IMG_6615The blinds are also hung to the ceiling, concealing the bit of wall between the ceiling and the top of the window.  Hanging blinds high allows more of the actual window to be free, making it appear larger.

4. Research your options.  Although I love the look and added softness (and color) of fabric window treatments, we chose a different route for the kids’ room.  Floor to ceiling curtain panels took up too much wall space in the already small room.  I also worried about them being pulled down accidentally.  I don’t particularly like the look of shorter curtains, so instead I purchased white blackout roller shades at IKEA. IMG_6637 They are very easy to open and close, and the wall below the window is now open for play.

IMG_6644To keep afternoon light from overpowering the kitchen, I shortened a bamboo blind originally designed for a french door.

5. Window treatments should compliment your lifestyle and the style of your home.  Proper drapes with heavier fabrics will make a room feel more formal.  A boxy valance is also formal, but can give a bedroom a luxe hotel vibe.  For a playful look, try a bold pattern or use unique accessories as a tieback (think leather belts, chains, men’s ties).  For us, washable curtain fabrics help keep living with kids a little more carefree.

How about you? Do you open your curtains first thing in the morning, or is it something that doesn’t even cross your mind?

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Creatively Displaying Collections

Collections are often a tricky design dilemma. While we really don’t want to be known as the ‘beanie baby lady’ or the ‘fast food toy hoarder’ most people have at least a little assortment of something that they value or find meaningful.  Whether your passion is rocks or crocks, stamps or lamps, if you have a collection of something you have probably wondered how to show it off in an aesthetically pleasing way.  The way I see it, at least if it is out of storage and on display, there is a chance it will gather compliments along with the dust!

The best piece of advice I have regarding collections is to gather items into one area so they become a focal point.

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A dedicated accent wall, cabinet or row of shelves is more appealing than items scattered randomly around the house.

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A high shelf mounted above a doorway is a simple way to group like items, such as baskets or vintage tins.  Use trays to gather similar objects for display on a countertop or coffee table.

Design*Sponge | Leah Verwey Photo

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If you collect really small items, consider displaying some of them in a divided wooden box.  This separates them out a bit and causes the eye to see them as one cohesive piece rather than fifty tiny things.

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The box can be hung on the wall, and items can be rotated occasionally so that each piece gets its day in the spotlight.  If you have an extensive collection, you might just pick just a few of your favorites to show off at a time.  This ensures that you and others will be more likely to notice and enjoy them.  Canned air is useful for the frequent and detailed dusting that small items require.

matchbox car arrangement

Image source: http://ultimatedisplaycase.com

A collection of various sized pieces look nice staggered along a shelf or mantle (much like a city’s horizon line).  Size variations are good in a collection because it makes it more dynamic and interesting to look at.  Find balance by grouping a taller object with several smaller ones.  If the collection has a variety of colors, consider grouping items by color, or create a pattern of sorts.  The trick is to be willing to tweak things a few times until you like how it looks.

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I don’t collect objects for hobby, but I do enjoy displaying our white serving dishes and platters.  My favorite way to show them off is to use a contrasting background to make them stand out.  We recently installed a cabinet above our refrigerator as a home for my ‘white’ collection.  I removed the doors, sprayed the insides berry pink, and used retro floral duct tape on the back of the cabinet.  The white dishes really stand out and the bright colors add an element of the unconventional.

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Bring your collections out of hiding and make them a part of your decor.  And for the love of simplicity, only collect objects you enjoy and that tell a story about you.  You do have to dust them, you know.

Details: Amazing Tile Refresh

Could your tile floors use some attention? Maybe the grout is too light, too dark, or an outdated color.  If your tile is still in good shape, you have a few options that can make a big difference in the look of your tile floors.

One of my clients had tile installed in their kitchen and dining area about 15 years ago, and chose a terra cotta grout.  Over the years, their tastes have changed and they were wanting a lighter color without so much contrast between the tile and the grout.

One option is to remove the existing grout entirely and replace it with new grout.  If your grout is in good condition though, a much easier option is to clean and paint it.  Since their grout was not cracking or chipping, my clients decided to try out the relatively new grout paint and sealer.

To prep the grout for painting, it was first scrubbed with a mixture of lemon juice, vinegar and baking soda.  They used 7 cups water, 1/3 cup lemon juice, 1/4 cup vinegar, and 1/2 cup of baking soda. Apply it liberally to the tile and grout and let it  sit for 15 minutes, then scrub with a brush.  If you just want to clean your floors, you can stop at this step, because it is amazing!

The directions on the grout paint say to use an acid cleaner before applying the paint, so you might decide you want to do that.  My clients decided the acid from the vinegar and lemon juice was good enough for them, and less toxic.

To apply the paint we used flat craft brushes.  We found the size 6 brushes to work the best for us, but it would depend on the width of your grout.  We just poured a bit of paint onto a plastic lid and applied it to the grout lines with the brush and let it dry.

 

The whole process was a bit time consuming, but not as much as chipping the grout from between the tile would have been.  And the results were amazing.  We chose a medium gray color, and it brightened up the look of the entire kitchen and dining area.  Instead of pulling out the orange colors from the tile, like the terra cotta colored grout did, the gray grout picks up on the subtle gray colors in the tile.

 

Now that my client’s floors are now more neutral, they are working on reupholstering their dining room chairs in a cheery bright red.  One small change in the flooring has allowed them to make some much-desired updates in the rest of the kitchen and dining area.

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After

If you have some tile with grout that could use a fresh look, give some grout paint a try!  It is an inexpensive update that brings a significant change to your flooring.