Category Archives: DIY Projects

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.

ledge wood

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.

 

DIY Worry Beads

Many times when I am looking through a magazine or retail catalog I find items that I like, but I know I could make it myself for much less.  Thankfully, most of the time I don’t actually do it, because I would have a house full of things that I don’t really need.  But, sometimes the idea sticks and I find myself trying to replicate an item for a much lower price.

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The ‘worry beads’ I made this week are actually for a friend.  I thought of her immediately when I saw them in a cb2 catalog, but the $190 price tag seemed a little over the top (they were a limited edition and are now sold out).  Worry beads, or komboloi, originate in Greece and Cyprus as a way to pass the time and relieve stress.  They are typically a small string of beads that can easily be held in both hands.  The act of moving the beads along the string and hearing them click against each other is relaxing, though some people even learn a few tricks to practice with their beads.  Traditionally, worry beads are made from coral or amber, with a tassel on the end, and a ‘shield’ to separate the two sides and allow the beads to move easily.

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The string of worry beads I replicated were much longer (more like necklace length) than traditional beads, and were made out of wood.  The ‘shield’ consisted of three beads and there was a black tassel on the end.  I chose to make the string of beads pretty long, because we plan to hang them on the wall as a decorative piece.  

I found all of my materials at JoAnne’s Fabric:

1) wooden beads (two packages of 20 mm natural beads, and one package of colored beads). You could always paint or stain the natural beads, I just already had colored ones at home.

2) Leather craft lace (about 2 yds)

3) Drapery tie back (for the tassel)

Tassles

4) Sturdy wire.

5) Embroidery thread in your choice of color(s).

After a ‘practice’ session or two, I figured out the best way to keep things connected together.  The first step is to connect the tassel to the decorative hoop above it.  I made a hoop out of several loops of wire. (Pay no attention to the already-strung beads.  I had to take them all off…)

Worry Bead Hoop

 

Then I wrapped the cord from the tassel around it.  While holding it all together, I began wrapping the wire and the cord with embroidery thread.  

Wrapping hoop

I kept wrapping until the whole hoop was covered in embroidery thread.  

Embroidery thread

Next, I took the leather lace and tied the center to the hoop.  It was finally time to thread the beads.  I put three beads on with both laces together, then tied it off.  

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Then, separate the strands and thread the beads on each side until it is the desired length.  I tied the leather cord together at the top and it was finished!

Beads on Hook

For around $20 (with coupons) we have a fun string of worry beads that coordinates with my friend’s decor.  It is great way to add some color and natural wood accents to a wall, without taking up a lot of space.  

 

Repainting a Doormat

April is the month when our homes and yards come out from hibernation and are begging for some freshening up.  There are several quick and easy tricks to help make the most of your home’s curb appeal.  

Doormat AFTER

This week, I focused on the doormat.  A doormat is a fun way to add color and personality without a big commitment.  A few years ago, I found an extra large doormat at Costco, and I really like how the size fits our porch.  Of course, after a year or two, doormats start to fade significantly. 

Doormat BEFORE

I decided to start painting our old doormat, because I really hate to throw things away that are still in good condition and have a useable life.  I read online how people have used spray paint or craft paint to make designs on doormats, so I decided to give it a try.

Doormat some color

Because my mat had deep cutouts, I worked with the raised shapes and painted on lots of bright color.   Where the rug wasn’t completely faded, I used the pattern and lines that remained as a guide.  I used leftover acrylic craft paint from my stash, and a medium-sized paintbrush.

Doormat progress

Since I used several different colors, I tried to balance their placement across the rug.  I also tried to use each color at least three times.

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It took quite a few hours to paint everything, so I am hoping it lasts for a year or two, but we’ll see.

Doormat AFTER

Is your home calling out for a refresh this spring?  Have you ever tried painting a doormat?  If you have, let me know how long it was until the paint faded again!

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. 

 

 

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!

A bit of art

The beautiful warm days have inspired me to do some freshening up around the house.  There is nothing like bright sunshine lighting up the walls to make me realize just how long it has been since the art has been updated.  I was also going through photos for one of my classes and felt the need to change things up.  I decided it was time to take a look at some of the art I have been pinning and magazine pictures I have torn out and actually create something new for our walls.

I recently saw a painting in DIY Magazine that really stuck with me. It was a colorful abstract of sound waves done by the fun lady behind Cuckoo4Design.  I loved the idea of using colors that I liked to make my own version.  I decided to use watercolor paper and paints, since I had both on hand and I haven’t had the opportunity to use them for awhile.  The kids and I set up a painting station on the kitchen table, and I drew some light guidelines on my 22×30 paper while they happily painted their own masterpieces.

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To start the painting, I used a ruler to draw lines both horizontally and vertically through the center.  Then, I measured ¾ inch from the vertical line, and drew another vertical line.  I marked every ¾ inch and drew vertical lines across the entire piece of paper.  I made sure to make the lines lightly with pencil, since I was using watercolor paint.  Some marks can be erased, but I like to make them light enough that I don’t have to worry about it.

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After making my lines, I started around the center with my colors.  In the center, where the sound wave is focused, I used full-strength color, or less water.  As the line goes toward the edges, I gradually added water to make the color lighter.  I also left some white squares to accent the colors and give it sort of a pixelated look.  I randomly chose the order of the colors to give it a looser and non-repetitive feel.

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 Because watercolors tend to bleed into each other, I quickly learned to leave a space in between lines so the fresh paint had a chance to dry.  Then, I went back and carefully filled in the spaces with a little less bleeding into each other.  Blotting excess water and color with a paper towel also worked pretty well.

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Painting this abstract watercolor took longer than anticipated, but I am pleased with the finished product.  Using acrylic paints and a brush that is the width of your vertical lines would speed up the process considerably.  The fun thing about creating your own art is that you can mix and match colors to work with your decor and create an absolutely unique piece.

I am still looking for a frame that will work with this large of a painting.  Until then, it makes a great backdrop for some recently repotted plants!

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Have you seen something that inspired you lately?  Now is a good time to break out the paints and make your own wall art for spring.

 

Chair before and after

Colorful Chair Makeover

Finished Chair

According to my patient husband, I am a hoarder of chairs.  Admittedly, we might have a few extras hanging around, but they all have so much potential!  In an effort to update a hand-me-down and create comfortable seating for our little guest room, I finally refinished one last week.  

When they replaced their conference chairs at my husband’s work, he brought home two of the old ones for me.  Even though he fusses a bit, he is actually an accomplice to my hoarding. I have been eyeing them for awhile, and finally the opportunity arose to use one in the guest room.

FullSizeRender (5)The chair before.

I had a yard of indoor/outdoor upholstery fabric I had purchased for some outdoor seat cushions, but hadn’t used yet.  Sorry outdoor cushions, you aren’t a priority right now.  It turned out to be the perfect amount for one chair, and it had all the colors I have been using in the room.  I also have an embarrassing number of sample paint pots.  I found a great blue in my stash, so I was all set.  I did purchase some quilt batting on sale over the holidays so I could plump up the softness in the chairs a bit.  There is plenty of batting left for several more chairs. Using materials I already had meant this chair refresh cost less than $5, but even if I would have had to buy it all again it would have been less than $20. I have a hundred projects (not kidding) in my head all the time, so I almost always wait for sales.  Waiting takes patience but it allows me to do some pretty fun things.

After gathering all the materials, the next step was to take the chair apart.  The seat was easy with just two screws holding it into the frame.  I had a harder time getting the back off, so I ended up starting to remove staples to see if I could figure it out.

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The back eventually required chipping out the wood plugs in the side of the chair to get to the screws, which were all stripped and mangled by whoever assembled the chair originally.  We had to break out a hacksaw for a couple of them, but finally got it all apart.  Then came the most time consuming part of it all: removing the remaining hundreds of staples holding the original upholstery on the chair.  I used a flat screwdriver and needle-nosed pliers for this job.  

Once the cushions were off the chair, I washed the chair with soapy water and then sanded it lightly.  I used two very thin coats of paint, allowing it to dry thoroughly each time.

Painted chair frame

While paint was drying, I removed more staples.  When the staples are all out, you can take the fabric off and use it for a pattern.  I made sure to label the back of the fabric and the back of the seat so I could put it back together correctly.  Pin the the old fabric to the new and cut out the shape.  My fabric had a direction to the print, so I made sure the pattern was facing the right direction before cutting.

I wrapped the seat and back cushion with a piece of batting and then it was time to staple on the fabric.  I started in the center of each side and then worked toward the edges.  When you get to the corners, fold the fabric like a present and staple away! Screw the seat and back onto the frame again and you have a unique and comfortable chair that works perfectly with your decor.  Here’s a side-by-side!  What do you think?

Chair before and after

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.  

Martinez Reading Corner Idea Board_edited-4

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!

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 4: The Bathroom Reveal

Fifty-two days after the fateful peeling up of ‘just one’ vinyl tile on our bathroom floor, the bathroom renovation is complete.  Instead of feeling dated, grungy and pieced together, our bathroom now feels happy, spacious and clean.  Natural daylight floods the space and the bright colors are refreshing and uplifting.

Bright and Peaceful Bathroom Remodel, Black and White, Merona Tile, Ikea vanity, cb2 mirror

Details, details!  Who knew it would take over a month and a half to get a window in the bathroom and to finish caulking everything?  The most important parts of the bathroom–aka the toilet, sink and bathtub, were useable by the first week or two of September, but the missing window prevented the use of the shower for several more weeks.

Installing glass block in a shower

 Thankfully, the warm fall weather in Pocatello held out and my crazy plan to combine a regular window with glass blocks worked fantastically.  

Glass blocks and an awning window

Exposed cinder block, round mirror, Ikea vanity

Many aspects of our Do-It-Yourself bathroom renovation have been incredible learning experiences.  One of the more stressful lessons is that when you order tile shipped to your house, half of it may arrive smashed to pieces.  Luckily, I could take it right down to Home Depot for a refund and I quickly reordered the amount I needed.  It’s a good thing it was a pretty painless process, because next the glass block window I ordered arrived with about 12 chips in it.  I ended up just ordering loose glass blocks on the second go-round and Jer and I put them together ourselves.  We are much happier with the finished appearance and we were able to fill the window space perfectly with an awning window above the glass blocks.  I was pretty stubborn about wanting glass blocks in the bathroom, but with a large window on top that would open and vent.  Our awning window ended up being 32in x 16in, and the glass blocks were 32in x 24in below it.  I am really glad I stayed true to my vision, even when it seemed like such a hassle.

IMG_6820

Another eye-opener for us is that tub and shower fixtures are not all made the same.  Of course, we didn’t find this out until the end, when all of the tile was completely done.  We ended up coming in from the back side and cutting a large hole in our kitchen/dining room wall to replace the pressure balance valve.  What would have taken less than an hour while everything was out in the open ended up taking all day.  And now there is that little issue of the hole in the kitchen wall…

One of our favorite things about the bathroom is the statement tile on the floor.

Merola Tile Twenties Diamond

It completely fits our family’s style, but it will also work very well with other styles.  Simply changing the art and the color of the towels gives the bathroom a different vibe.

Bathroom Remodel: Black and White with a bit of color

 We also love the modern look of the vertically stacked white subway tile with the charcoal grout.  The tile fits well with the style and era of our home, but also has a fresh twist.  At the last minute, I decided to add black tile around the window, and I am so glad I did.

Target clock, DIY shelf

We no longer have to fear that the tub or toilet may fall through the floor unexpectedly.  Gone is the plexiglass nailed to the old shower window to prevent leaks into the wall.

Back of door hooks

 We know the amount of hard work and attention to detail that was put into every inch of the room.  There are a few details remaining, such as knobs for hanging towels and maybe a small cabinet for storage, but that’s all part of the fun.  

Wash cloths in a basket

Towel basket by tub

Can I just tell you how awesome it was to take that first shower in the new bathroom?!?

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.