Category Archives: DIY Projects

Redo! Another Kitchen Challenge

When I was an elementary school teacher, I often gave my older students an opportunity to redo an essay or project if they wanted to improve their work.  By rereading or redesigning their previous attempt, they often learned much more about the topic (which was the ultimate goal) and hopefully even discovered a bit about their own thinking process.  It seems like a valuable skill to have, because let’s face it, many of us spend a lot of time at our jobs redoing or updating things.  Unfortunately, when it comes to our homes, we often get stuck in a mindset where we think things need to stay exactly how they were when we moved in, or when they were built or when we first arranged them.

IMG_0865 IMG_0866Kitchen: When we bought our house in 2010.

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IMG_6519Refrigerator wall: a few weeks ago…

It is a good thing my husband and I are both used to working and reworking projects until we are happy with them.  A few weeks ago, we bought a new refrigerator, which ended up changing a few (very recently completed) key arrangements in our kitchen.

Our new fridge lured us in with the promise of much more interior space along with ice and water on demand.  Plus it was on a fantastic sale at Home Depot.  Unfortunately, the larger size meant we had to take down the recently added cabinet above the fridge, which meant things on that wall were looking unbalanced and a little crazy.  Also, the new fridge is stainless so it doesn’t match the stove and dishwasher anymore.  It was classic chain reaction where one thing leads to another.

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Instead of bemoaning the loss of a storage/display cabinet, we decided to take the opportunity to rework things and try something new.  We took down the remaining cabinet on the fridge wall and put it over the stove, filling out that space a bit better.

Then, my handy hubby began building a wall of shelves using ½ inch galvanized steel pipe and 2 x 12 boards.  The mix of steel and wood fits really well in our kitchen, and the industrial modern look of the shelves works well with our simple 1950s home.  It also makes it so the mix of stainless and white appliances isn’t so obvious.

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Since we used pipes that screw together, we were able add to it as time and budget allowed.  IMG_6662

IMG_6655After considering a natural wood look via a clear coat, we decided to stain the wood gray.  I am happy we did, because it really makes the whole system work with the concrete countertops and the stainless refrigerator.

While I wouldn’t have spent all the time painting and caulking cabinets last month if I had known we were going to change things this month, I don’t regret it at all.  We gained a lot in the process, and I feel like we are really learning how to make our home more functional and beautiful within the space we have.  Our end result will greatly exceed what we started with, both in usability and appearance.

The lesson: Don’t be afraid to take a redo.

Check back Monday morning for completed shelf pictures!

 

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?

The Uncluttered Life: Pantry Overhaul

This pantry project has been a long time coming. It has been a jumbled disaster for several months, but I didn’t bother to reorganize it because I wanted to do a complete overhaul on the pantry closet while I was at it.

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Horrifying.

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The problem with ‘overhauls’ at our house is that the rest of the house then becomes a complete disaster. Also, I usually have a lot of help.  This week, we finally tackled the pantry, and I am excited about the results.

To begin, I brought in a garbage bag and a donation box. I got rid of a toaster oven that burned everything, a Salad Shooter, a manual food processor and the Magic Bullet. I recently bought one nice food processor that does everything except burn toast. It was such a relief to finally send those appliances to the donation box! I tossed opened bags that were stale or that no one was going to eat. I took every item out of the pantry and washed the entire thing. IMG_6572

Then, I found some ceiling paint and a half gallon of paint left over from our bedroom closet makeover and painted walls, floors and ceiling. I decided to stain the shelves instead of painting them. I used a water-based Minwax stain in Pecan. I chose to use water-based stain because I was working in an enclosed space and it is less toxic and smelly.

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Dark phone photo, but it feels fresh!

One thing about our pantry is that it is the closet over the stairs to the basement. In the 1950s, they often made these closets with deep steps all the way to the back. I have been researching solutions for making our closet more user-friendly, but haven’t found any help. So, Jer and I decided to put horizontally adjustable shelves across the shelves we put in a few years ago. They can be pushed back if needed, but we pulled them forward so everything is reachable from the first step. I found that things would just get lost and piled in the deep cave, so the shallower adjustable shelves are nicer for us. (We can access the back, so I put a few very infrequently used items back there, like the dehydrator and angel food cake pan).

A pantry works best with multiple shallow shelves. When Jer and I added shelves to our closet, we made the ones on the sides 6 inches deep and the ones on the back 11 inches deep. This keeps items from getting lost in the black hole that often happens when shelves are too deep. If you happen to have deep shelves, consider installing pull-out bins or drawers.

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I also wanted to add a little fun to the steps, but I didn’t want to spend a ton of time on it. Jer suggested using half a grapefruit. The ones we had were pretty large, but I spotted some Cuties and decided they would be perfect! I found some orange and yellow craft paint and two paper plates. After practicing on a piece of paper, I started randomly stamping the Cuties on the steps. The final look is not for everyone, but I like the 70s retro look and think it will be fun for awhile. When I get tired of it, it will take 10 minutes to paint it again.

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After the pantry is clean (and the paint is dry!) it is time to put things back. I arrange items according to use and size. Most frequently used things go at eye level. For us, that means canned goods and cereals are readily available for easy grabbing. Multiple cans of the same food are stacked together.

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I prefer to take things out of larger packages so I know when it needs to be restocked.  At lower levels are individually wrapped snacks and things that are ok for our kids to grab. The highest shelves are reserved for empty glass bottles, extra spices and lesser used appliances.

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As far as other organization tools, I use plastic half gallon and gallon containers with labels for things like rice and granola. I also decant extra flour and sugar, etc into labeled containers to keep random bags from leaking everywhere.  I wish they were clear, but they are recycled (aka.free) so I like them. Clear containers of any kind are nice because you can see the contents inside and know when it needs replacing. There are many container options for sale, but make sure it fits the food and fits into your space before you buy. I am using baskets to corral picnic supplies, extra Kurig cups and bags of chips. I tried a few different baskets before I remembered this orange one that goes better with the ‘citrus’ theme.

We mounted a broom holder on the inside door of our pantry to keep them from falling out every time we open the door. I also have a grocery bag holder mounted to the inside of the door. Other options for the inside of doors are over the door racks, spice shelves and shoe holders. Painting the inside of the door is an upcoming project.

Now that the pantry is stocked and organized, the food will just cook itself, right?

The Rise of the Kitchen Cabinet

 

What happens when you try something new and don’t totally love it?  At our house, we try, try again!  Over the past year, I painted our kitchen cabinets white, and the walls a light gray.  I still am really happy with both of those choices.  Because our kitchen is pretty small, I wanted to make use of the space above the cabinets, and also try to conceal the lumps on the ceiling from someone else’s soffit removal job.  I tried using labeled bins and some other containers above the cabinets, and it actually worked very well for storage. IMG_6162The only thing I didn’t love was that it felt a bit crowded or dark for the high space.  I left it for awhile, because I really liked the increased functionality.

Then, I saw this image, and I knew exactly what I wanted to do:

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IMG_6476 I am not sure why I hadn’t thought of it before, but raising the cabinets to the ceiling and putting a shelf underneath was a brilliant solution!  It would work perfectly for a space like ours, and would also camouflage the wonky ceiling.

Right after I finished the concrete overlay on the countertops, we decided to moved the cabinets up.

It was a two person job a lot of the time, and the car jack was even involved at one point (ahem, rednecks).

Behind the cabinets was a bit of a mess, so I scraped off the big chunks and then primed and painted everything gray to match the walls.

IMG_6473I really like the open feeling of no upper cabinets, but since our space is smaller, we need the additional storage.IMG_6479After the cabinets were reinstalled, there were noticeable gaps along the upper edge by the ceiling.

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I ended up just using a paintable caulk to fill in the spaces.  It made a huge different in how finished and clean the final result looked.

IMG_6489The ceiling needs a bit of paint touch up when you get up close, but it looks so much better than it did.

IMG_6488We decided to leave the space above the microwave open for now.  I like the idea of building an open box around the space also, but for now it is perfect for large platters and a spiky plant.

IMG_6508We added an open shelf underneath the cabinets at typical cabinet height (18 inches).  We used the same shelving from IKEA that we used for the open shelves above the dishwasher.  We made a few modifications in the corner, and Jer reinforced underneath with some wood pieces.

I store most often used items on the open shelf, like spices and flours.  IMG_6528We opted to hang mugs from underneath the cabinet by the coffee prep area instead of adding a shelf.  We love the convenience and the added color from the mugs.

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The cost of the shelves and a few brackets was our only expense for this project (so about $75).  It feels so much more open to us, and having the lower open shelf has been really handy for cooking and baking.  What do you think?

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After

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Kitchen Concrete Countertop Overlay

 

We have slowly been making updates in our kitchen to make it a more fun and functional space.  The latest project wasn’t really a ‘functional’ issue, but it has definitely made it more ‘fun’!IMG_6162Kitchen countertops: BEFORE

Our kitchen countertops were a neutral beige swirly patterned laminate to start with, so it is not like we were dealing with an offensive color or even lots of scratches.  But, they really didn’t add anything style wise to our kitchen, and I was looking for something a little more interesting.

About a year ago, one of my favorite bloggers posted about covering her laundry room countertops with concrete.  After reading more about it and looking into the product a bit, I decided to order some for our kitchen.

And then, I put it off until last month.  We use the kitchen extensively every day, and I knew I would have to do without countertops for about a week while everything dried and cured.  Finally, I just decided it was now or never and started sanding down the countertops! I have learned that one way to get myself doing a project is to take a step that is irreversible!

IMG_6424Sanding with a 60 grit paper to rough up the surface.

That very afternoon, I mixed up the Ardex Feather finish and slathered on the first coat.

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I mixed up the concrete mix in a plastic cup using a fork.  That way I could just throw it away and not have to worry about how to clean it up without clogging the drain.  We just replaced plumbing from the kitchen sink into the basement, and as much fun as it was, I didn’t really want to be doing it again while attempting to renovate countertops.

I can’t really tell you the ratio of water to powder that I used, because I am a dumper, friends!  I tried several different consistencies, and I really think you have to experiment a bit to find what works best for you.  Here is a good tutorial from karapaslaydesigns.com in addition to the link at the top.

I used my fork and sometimes the putty knife to do the top backsplash and edges.  I blobbed on the goop, and then smoothed it out with the putty knife.  I didn’t worry too hard about it all being to perfect, because the sanding step is where you smooth everything out again.

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I ended up doing four coats of the concrete mix, with overnight drying time in between each. I also scraped off ridges with the putty knife and sanded with 60 grit then 100 grit between each layer.

IMG_6459It is extremely dusty, so I also vacuumed and wiped things up many, many times.

I attempted to use the electric sander for the final coat, but dust started flying EVERYWHERE.  And I was afraid I would sand right through to the laminate again and that would make me cry.  So, I just sanded by hand until it was smooth to the touch.  In retrospect, I wish I would have added two more coats just to get it a little thicker, but I feel like that can still be done after we have lived with it for awhile.

I didn’t remove the sink for this application.  Maybe I should have, but I chose to just work to the edges and I think it looks just fine.  If any concrete got on the sink part, I just scraped it off.  If your sink is easily removable or your husband is willing to do it, that would probably be the recommended step.

I went back and forth on what to seal the countertops with.  Many people recommend a product called Cheng Concrete Countertop Sealer, but it can’t be frozen, so shipping it in November didn’t seem like a great idea.  I ended up going down to Lowes and went with a recommendation from a super nice lady who works there and also has concrete countertops.  FullSizeRenderI did worry for a bit about it not saying “food safe” on the label.  But I typically use a cutting board, so I hope it is not too harmful.  Depending on how this product holds up, I might try the Cheng product in a year or so.  The Lowes clerk did say that you have to sand it down lightly and reapply every so often.  She recommended a mohair roller, which I tried. I ended up liking the ease and smoothness of my trusty 2in brush much better than the roller.  I put on two coats of sealer.  If water is left on the counter, it does eventually soak in and get dark.  It dries within an hour or two and doesn’t leave a mark.  The only think that has left a little ‘permanent’  spot is maybe a bit of oil?  I think it just adds character!

IMG_6541Kitchen Countertops: AFTER

For now, I am loving the inexpensive update in the kitchen, and they have been easy to care for.

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What do you think? I have a few more ideas and places I would like to try using this Ardex stuff.  I am so glad I finally took the time to get the countertops done.  It is much more fun to be in a kitchen that makes you happy!

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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.

Get This Party Started!

You Guys. Let’s start by taking a moment of silence in support of my amazingly patient and supportive husband.

You see, I am one of those people who has like 1,000 ideas in my head all at once, and I am constantly switching from one thing to another.  I call it Design ADD.  Jer is great about listening to my ramblings and occasionally adding his own crazy ideas to the mix.  He is also a fantastic accomplice when I am trying to actually materialize some of these ideas into projects.

This week for the Idaho State Journal, I wrote about Getting Started with Projects.  Oftentimes that is the hardest part of the job.  Just getting started.  I evidently took my advice to heart this week, so that is why I have a deconstructed headboard on the floor in the center of my living room, an upturned piano bench waiting for a leg repair, and I have been prying old base moldings off in the hallway.

My little helpers make each project even more interesting to complete!

I have about 50 more projects started (I wish I was joking), but those are the ones I am focusing on today. ha.

Speaking of base moldings, the reason I am excited about removing them is because we took the carpet out of our hall and living room two weekends ago!

The wood floors underneath are completely passable by our standards, and we are loving the cleaner feel.  Unfortunately, there is about an inch gap between the base moldings and the floor now.

Removing and replacing them all wasn’t really on my priority list, but we were donated a few pieces of molding from our friends after their basement remodel, and I decided to see if I liked the look and fit of the taller molding in our house.  I do.

Anyway, I hope to finish our headboard after the kids are in bed tonight, and we will likely be working on baseboard or sticky tile removal this weekend.  We also went to IKEA last weekend, so I have some shelves to install in the kitchen.  And I would like to start my countertop refinishing project.  And…and…and.   But at least I’ve got a few things started.

 

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Details: Global Update

**FYI  For those of you who live in Pocatello or the surrounding area, I am teaching some classes this fall through ISU’s Workforce Training/Continuing Education.  This Monday night (9/15/14) is DIY Interior Updates from 6:00-8:30.  Check out http://cetrain.isu.edu/enrollment/home-improvement/ for a list of classes or for enrollment information!**

I picked up this old globe for a few dollars at a thrift store a few months ago.  It had seen better days, but was still in relatively good shape.

It sat for awhile above my desk while I decided what to do with it.  The other day we had perfect weather for spray painting.

Among other things, I took the plastic base and arm off the globe and sprayed it orange!  Then I cut a piece of washi tape and put it around the equator to cover the split in the globe.

We love the fun update and are thinking about adding colorful pins to the places we have visited.  Does your family have a fun way to record your travels?  Any creative global updates?

Details: Mirror, Mirror

Do you remember the mirror I had behind my desk?

I bought it at a garage sale for a dollar and loved the round shape, but not really the scrolls all around.  For a long time, I had visions of collecting driftwood and making something similar to this one that west elm used to sell:

But I just didn’t get around to it.  Then, while browsing at Home Depot one day I saw a pile of awesome colored rope and decided that I would put rope round the mirror instead!  I chose a pinky orange color that was flecked with yellow and black because I didn’t want it to stand out too much.

I started by spray painting the edge of the mirror, since I wanted to start wrapping the rope where the scrolls started.  The overspray scraped easily off the mirror.

Next, I just started hot glueing the rope tightly around the mirror until I covered all of the scroll.

I love the result, but I learned that it probably would have been easier with a thinner rope, because ‘hiding’ the start and finish were a little tricky with such thick rope.  The whole mirror also feels a lot bigger, but I like the modern and industrial feel of it.

Anyone else been amazed at the cool colors ropes come in? Any fun projects going on?  I am about to try my hand at macrame, since I am truly a child of the 70s.

Bookshelf Revival!

Are your bookshelves looking a little tired and untidy lately?  Mine sure are!  After completely reorganizing my ‘office’ desk/bookshelves in January, I was so excited with how they looked and felt.  But Life goes on, and Clutter happens.

Our biggest clutter magnets are the shelves just out of reach of the kids.  That is where all the little things get put that need to be just out of reach of the kids.  And the kids’ books get reorganized (pulled out and scattered on the floor) at least once daily.  Anyway, it is time to clear out the shelves again and have a fresh start.  If you are thinking about a bookshelf update, here are some ways you can go about it:

1. Fresh paint.  This is a great option for wood bookshelves.  You can paint laminate, but in order for it to adhere properly you will need a smelly oil-based paint and primer and a well-ventilated space to work.  I have tried latex paint and even spray paint on laminate, both with less than stellar results.  But, if you are up to the task, a unique look is to paint the outside of the bookshelf white, and the back and inside a color that compliments your decor.  Chalkboard paint on a kid’s shelf would add another element of creativity (and it would be ok to draw on your furniture!).

These bookshelves don’t have backs, so I painted the wall a bright orange for a fun accent.

2. Wallpaper.  If you have a remnant of a wallpaper you love, put it in the back of the bookcase!  You can even mix and match with smaller samples of wallpaper.  Another inexpensive trick is to use gift wrap (I love a good black and white stripe) or craft paper.  If the shelf has smaller cubbies, scrapbook paper can easily be cut to fit.

This bookshelf from the blog HiSugarplum, has a wallpaper back, a mix of books and decorations, and art hanging on the front of the shelves.

3. Fabric.  For our basement wall of books, I decided to display some of the pieces of fabric my husband brought back from his time in Japan as an exchange student.  Because I don’t want to ruin the fabric, I cut pieces of foam core (found in the craft or school section) to fit the shelf opening.  Then I wrapped the fabric around the back and secured it with a small tack before placing the entire piece onto the back of the shelf.  I placed the fabric pieces behind the most visually open shelves, since I didn’t have enough to cover all of the bookshelf backs.

4. Add wood trim for a custom look.  This is also a good way to reinforce laminate shelves that might be sagging from the weight of heavy books!  Glue trim pieces on the front and outer edges and clamp until dried.  You can add crown molding at the top to make the shelf even more customized.  If the original paperboard back of the bookshelf is in poor condition, think about using a different material, such as a backing of wood pallets, white board paneling or beadboard.

The reclaimed wood in the back of this built-in bookshelf ties in with the desk area.

5. Intermix books with baskets, photos, art, and other treasures. Placing some of the not-so-pretty books in baskets will visually lighten the shelf.  Vary the direction of your books, some in horizontal piles and some vertical. Tchotchkes placed on top or in front of books also makes for an interesting display, but don’t go overboard.  Art can be placed behind or in front of books, or even hung from the frame of the shelf.  For my shelves, I like to color coordinate books, but for my husband’s books, that is not very practical.  Be creative and think about ways to personalize your own bookshelves and give them a fresh new look for fall.

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Mission: Closet Organization

Well, as hard as I tried, I couldn’t transform our shared reach-in closet into a dreamy walk-in dressing room.  Maybe I need some new magic words?

This closet makeover has been in progress for quite awhile now, but it is finally nearing completion!  Since I recently turned our guest room closets into a sewing space and kid art/learning storage, we really needed our closet to function to its fullest potential.

 The first thing I recommend when cleaning and organizing any closet is to take everything out and get rid of anything that doesn’t fit and doesn’t make you feel good.  I did this when my sister was visiting, so I had a trustworthy critic to help me be ruthless.  I donated two garbage bags full to the thrift store!  And that was after I had already gone through things on my own.  While I was at it, I switched from plastic to slim and sturdy velvet covered hangers to gain more space.  (fyi, our Costco has them on sale right now, and they are not flimsy like some others I have bought).

For our closet, we decided to go vertical and raised the existing shelf and hanging bar to make room for a partial second hanging bar.  Jer built a box of sorts out of plywood and we attached a hanging bar to it and the wall.  About one-third of the closet is reserved for longer items (my dresses and skirts) and the other two-thirds is divided with two bars.  The high upper shelf is now the perfect size for labeled baskets containing infrequently used or off-season items.   Jer didn’t really want baskets for his things, so I will likely add a few shelf dividers to keep stacks neat.  We each have a row of hooks on ‘our’ sides of the closet to hold belts and scarves or ties.  There is currently room for some shelves for sweaters, jeans, etc. but we are going to live with the closet as-is for awhile to see what would work best for our needs.

Shoes are always a challenge in a closet.  Since our closet is small, I opted to use a hanging shoe rack over the door.  I bought a metal one, but it kept falling apart, so I twisted wire around each of the joints.  It works m.u.c.h. better now.  I might spray paint it a fun color one of these days, but right now I am okay with the white.  Boots and other shoes that don’t fit on the rack have their own spots on the floor of the closet.  We might build custom cubbies for these (I will share the details if we do).  If you do have the space, clear shoe drawers and boot boxes with a photo of the shoe on the front are a fun option.  Jer has fewer shoes, so his are on three shoe shelves that fit sideways on the bottom of the closet.  Another option for everyday shoes is a sturdy basket on the floor of the closet to toss the shoes into.  We do that in our entry with our summer shoes.

When all of your stuff is out of the closet, it is a great time to paint and freshen up the space.  I painted the closet the same color as the rest of our room, but if you are feeling adventurous, closets are a fun place to add bold color, a stencil or some wallpaper.  Since our room is small and the door opens right in front of the closet, we removed the closet doors right away.  I made curtains that I will hang eventually, but I really love not having to wrestle with doors coming off their hinges.

I always color-coordinate my clothes when I put them back into the closet.  This looks fun and enables you to find a particular item more quickly.  It also tells you a lot about your color preferences!  I labeled my baskets with scrapbook paper, ribbon scraps, and a few feathers from my kid’s craft closet.

I am looking for a fun divided tray to set on top of the shelf created by the second tier.  My husband likes to toss random objects on any flat surface, so this would be a way to corral some of the clutter. We also hope to add a light to the closet at some point.

Ahh, I really love a freshly organized space!

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Fun Fireplace Makeover

Are you living with a fireplace that doesn’t fit your personal style?  You will be amazed at how a few simple changes can take your fireplace from an eyesore to a beautiful focal point in the room.

This spring, I worked with a young couple in Pocatello to turn their outdated fireplace into one that fit the couple’s more rustic modern aesthetic.  While the fireplace looked okay with the original wallpaper, as soon as it was removed and the wall repainted, it just didn’t fit with the colors and mood of the living room.

 The first thing we did was to find images of fireplaces that we liked, and then we worked on budget-friendly methods to get their fireplace headed in that direction.

Many people don’t realize that decorative moulding and filigrees are usually just glued or tacked on to the exterior.  Unless you live in an historical home, a lot of the frilly fretwork just makes for more difficult dusting, especially if it doesn’t tie in architecturally with the rest of the home.  We removed the extra detailing from my client’s fireplace to give it a more clean and modern look.  Be aware that the outlines will probably show, so you will need to fill a few small holes and sand it down for re-staining or painting.

We chose to paint the wood parts of the fireplace in this home.  The base-moulding and window benches on both sides of the room are all painted white, so the honey colored wood really didn’t fit in with the rest of the room.  Another option we discussed was to stain or paint the fireplace a darker color.  I photoshoped an image of the fireplace to give the couple an idea of what it would look like with several options, and we all agreed on a soft white.  My clients used heat-safe appliance spray paint to turn the gold vents on the fireplace black.

To add a bit of rustic charm to the fireplace, I designed a custom mantle cover using reclaimed barnwood.  We had the very talented Joe Borgeman, owner of Fall River Cabinets in Ashton, build the mantle according to our specifications, and then we just slid it over the top of the existing mantle and secured it.  The weathered gray of the barnwood complemented the existing gray-flecked tile and tied together the other elements in the room.  The added height and thickness of the mantle also gave more prominence to the fireplace and enhanced its place as the natural focal point of the room.

I styled the mantle for summer with some cool, beachy blues that really compliment the gray-green walls.  The painting, picture frames, blue bowl, basket and blanket were all purchased at TJ Maxx.

To make it more kid-friendly, I would remove the tall vase and flowers.  Here are a few more detail shots and some different angles.

If you are thinking about updating your own fireplace, consider staining it a different color, painting it, building a facade, adding tile or replacing tile.  To start your very own fireplace transformation, find some images of fireplaces or mantles you like.  With a little elbow grease you will soon have one that is more current and applicable to your personal style.  If you would like some help with your fireplace makeover or styling your mantle, fill out the Contact page we will schedule a time!