Category Archives: Portfolio

Guest Room Accent Wall

Wooden accent wall

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


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.


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).


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.



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.


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!

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.


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 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.


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


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!


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.


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.


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. 😉


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.  


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.


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!!


Kitchen Shelving Reveal!

I am so excited to finally show you some pictures of our newly reconfigured refrigerator wall!  Over the last month or so, we took down all the existing cabinets on that wall to make room for a new refrigerator.  All two cabinets and some shelves, so it wasn’t a huge deal.  But we had just moved the cabinets up and caulked them a few months before, so it was sort of a big deal. ha.

Anyway, here is our current and hopefully longer-lasting rendition!


IMG_6667 IMG_6669

Moving from the original single upper cabinet over the base cabinet to this setup has increased our storage space exponentially.  It allows me to display the platters and plates that don’t fit in a normal cabinet.  I find I use them a lot more when they aren’t packed away in the back of the pantry closet.

IMG_6670 IMG_6671 IMG_6678 IMG_6681 IMG_6686 IMG_6689A few things to note if you are considering something like this for yourself:

1. You might want to consider buying a pipe threader and cutting your own pipes, depending on your own arrangement.  All of the little pieces add up and can get expensive

2. All of the threads aren’t the same, so it was hard to get things as tight as we wanted.

3. Look around for pieces without labels taped to them! After completing the entire project, we found that one store had pipe pieces in bags, so you wouldn’t have to try to take the stickers off of each piece.  As you might have noticed, we are still working on getting those stickers off!

4. Our project cost around $300.  We used 1/2 inch pipe and fittings and 2 x 12 douglas fir for the shelves.  The microwave shelf was custom joined to be 16 inches deep. We used Minwax oil based wood finish in Classic Gray 271.

If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!  Check back later this week for some tips on living with open shelving.


Bathroom Remodel: From Blah to Blissful

My clients were living with a basement guest bathroom in need of serious help.  Besides some repairs to the leaking shower basin, it had remained relatively untouched since the home was built in the early 1990s.  Like many of us, they hesitated to put too much money into renovations in case they decided to move.  But, armed with the knowledge that bathroom remodels only increase the value of a home, they decided to take the leap, since they could enjoy the space either way.

To save money, my clients opted to use the existing footprint of the bathroom and let fixtures remain in their current locations.  Instead, we worked with the space to make it more efficient and fit their lifestyle and needs.  The small corner shower was turned into a large tiled walk-in shower that runs the full width of the bathroom.

 A tiled bench was added, and is a nice amenity if space allows.  To avoid the tedious task of scrubbing glass shower doors, the client chose a heavy waffle-weave white shower curtain. Fabric also adds a sense of warmth in the windowless space.

A longer vanity with furniture-type legs was added to the bathroom, taking advantage of about 12 inches of previously wasted space between the vanity and shower.  Since it is mainly used as a guest bath, the medicine cabinet was replaced with an oval mirror that complimented the dark wood of the vanity.  Sconces were added on each side of the mirror, making the lighting much more flattering than harsh overhead fixtures.

To camouflage the existing plumbing ‘shelf’ behind the toilet, we added floating shelves and created an accent wall.  The extra shelves also make a perfect place to display extra towels and fun accessories.  A bright aqua accent wall adds a touch of the client’s personality to the room, but is also easily changed when tastes dictate.

The old linoleum flooring was also replaced with the same gray vinyl that extends throughout the rest of the basement.  The walls were given a fresh coat of light gray paint, and oil rubbed bronze hardware and switch plates completed the transformation.

My clients love the changes and tell me that now it actually feels like a special place for their guests to use.  Rumor has it that they even prefer using it over the master bath!

Bunker Basement Bathroom

Bathroom Remodel Idea Board

I can’t believe it has been about 8 months since this bathroom remodel was complete!  I will show you the ‘Before’ images and my idea board, and then post the finished photos after my Bathroom Remodel article comes out in the Idaho State Journal on Saturday.

We started with a basement bathroom in desperate need of some TLC.  Basically, nothing had been done to it since the home was built in the early 90s.  There had been a leak in the shower basin at one point, which necessitated a large hole to be cut in the drywall between the vanity and the shower.  My client had decorated nicely with the existing blue vinyl flooring, but was more than ready to be done with the gold shower and cracked vanity countertop.  Here are some Before shots:

The corner shower.

The vanity

 The toilet area, complete with basement bathroom miscellaneous. My client would like you to know that this was after all the decorations had been removed and that the spider and ant traps have found more discreet homes.

The clients wanted my complete input on the space, so here are some ideas I came up with:

Here are the sources, if you are interested:

1. Shades of Light Clear Cloche Glass Sconce  $59.00 each Oil Rubbed Bronze

2. allen + roth 29.875-in x 29.875-in Oil Rubbed Bronze Round Framed Mirror, $49.98

3. Allen + Roth 30 in Palencia Espresso Vanity, $329.00

4. Style Selections 31-in W x 22-in D White Cultured Marble Single Sink Vanity Top, $78.00

5. Delta Celice Brushed Nickel 2-Handle 4-in Centerset WaterSense Bathroom, $99.00

6. KOHLER Highline Classic White 1.28 GPF High Efficiency WaterSense toilet, $209

7. Moen Caldwell Spot resist brushed Nickel 5-spray Convertible Shower

Moen nickel tub/shower handle,  $94.18

8. 12-in x 24-in Calacatta White Glazed Porcelain Floor Tile, $2.19 sf

9. 12-in x 14-in White Gray Tones Wall Tile border, $12.08 sf

10. Swanstone 32-in L x 60-in W Veritek White Fiberglass Shower Floor (Drain left),  $280.03

11. Hardware:

DELTA Celice Venetian Bronze Surface Mount Toilet Paper Holder, $25.98

DELTA Celice Venetian Bronze Wall-Mount Towel Ring, $21.98

DELTA 24″ Celice Venetian Bronze Towel Bar, $29.98


12. 15 minute hourglass timer-green, $9.95

 13. Seam bath Accessories, white, $1.95-7.95

 14. Bamboo Rayon Channel Bath towels, White

15. Bath Rug, Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler, jcpenny $35

16. Example of vinyl flooring, slate.  I couldn’t find it online, so I put this in as an example.

17. Color swatch. Build espresso stained shelves in space over toilet.  Paint wall behind shelves with gradation of colors.

We ended up making a few changes as we went along, but we stuck with these ideas for the majority.  Check back on Saturday to see how it all turned out!

Basket After

Small Space Solutions: The Fruit Basket

Welcome to Part Two of my series on Small Space Solutions for the kitchen.  Awhile back, I wrote about our homemade DIY pot rack that helped free up some cupboard space and added to the industrial modern feeling of our home.  Today I will show you something that has helped free up some space on the countertop: the hanging fruit basket.

This hanging fruit basket has plagued me ever since my husband brought it with him to our marriage.  Just like the idea of hanging pot racks, my husband loves his hanging fruit baskets.  I on the other hand, do not.  But, since we tend to live in places with small kitchens, this crazy fruit basket has made its way into one corner or another in every home we have had.  Until this house.  For a year and a half,  I really and truly thought this fruit basket might finally be able to ‘disappear.’  Then one day a month or two ago, I looked at my kitchen counters and table full of little plastic bags of apples, lemons, bananas, onions, garlic…and I thought, “There must be a better way to organize and store all of these fruits and vegetables so that they would be out of the way!”  And I remembered that lonely little hanging fruit basket that I had tried to hide away in a box along with other random items going to Goodwill.  I was the one who dug it out this time.

Let me just tell you that there are actually several pretty cool looking hanging fruit baskets out on the market. If you are interested in this space saving trick and don’t happen to have one ‘lost’ somewhere in your basement storage, I really recommend looking online to find one that is fun and fitting with your decorating style.  Since I already had this one, and I am determined to use what I already have whenever possible, I decided that it needed a little sprucing up.  Our fruit basket started out as a three-tiered white wire mesh looking thing.  It actually doesn’t look too bad in the photo against the green wall.  But, since I have plans to paint the green wall very soon, and since the basket doesn’t look that fresh and white in real-life, I spray painted it Raspberry pink.

I realize most people would paint the wall and cabinets before they decided on the color of the fruit basket, but I have a vision, and that includes a Raspberry pink fruit basket. Ha.  And since I could easily spray paint the basket while my kids were napping, it was much easier and quicker than trying to paint the wall and cabinets first.

Since the basket needed to hang while being painted, my husband rigged up a cardboard spray station for me in the garage.  I sprayed several thin and even coats, then turned the basket and sprayed the other side.  After sufficient drying and airing out, we brought the basket inside and filled it up again (I really did miss those counter-clearing abilities).  Now I can’t wait to get those walls and cabinets painted so it can really be a fun splash of color in our kitchen.  Overall, I think the once-shunned fruit basket is pretty pleased with her new look for Spring.

Fun Classes: I Am Teaching Again!

If you live in the Pocatello area and are interested in taking some classes that can help you create interior spaces that work for the way you live, sign up today!

It is the first time these courses have been offered through ISU’s Workforce training, and I am excited to be working with them.

DIY Interior Updates
Starts: 2/19/2013
Want a change in your home, but don’t have a lot of money to spend?  Learn simple tricks you can do yourself to update your home’s interior on a budget.  We will discuss ways to replace or reuse what you already have, as well as ideas for repurposing thrifted items.


Environmentally Friendlier Products for Building or Remodeling
Starts: 3/5/2013
Environmentally responsible products can save you money, and are available for your home or building needs.  We will review a wide range of products, from lighting and countertops to paint and flooring, helping you find the perfect fit for your situation.

Choosing Colors That Are Right for Your Rooms
Starts: 4/2/2013
Color affects mood, emotion, and possibly even behavior.  While your home or office should represent you and the way you live, sometimes the colors in them don’t “feel right.”  Discover simple ways to use color to make your spaces restful retreats or energizing environments.


Tips for Arranging Your Space
Starts: 4/9/2013
Are you feeling cramped, crowded or disorganized?  Learn how to make the most of the space you have.  We will review ways to choose and arrange furniture and accessories to create a functional and aesthetically pleasing space.


Introduction to Google SketchUp
Starts: 4/16/2013
Learn to use Google’s free software, SketchUp. This Gold-rated program can be used to create basic 3D models of simple furniture and a sample room floor plan.



finished nightstand_white drawers

If at First You Don’t Succeed…

Try, try again!  Have you ever completed a project that just didn’t turn out quite like you had it pictured in your head?  I have, too many times to count.  My latest project that I just wasn’t completely happy with was the set of nightstands I bought from IKEA in January, stained, painted and wrote about for you to see.  Remember these?


I am completely satisfied with the quality and size of the nightstands.  They are a great height, and have the perfect amount of storage for us.  What I did not like was the color of the drawers, especially after I painted the wall behind them a dark blue.  I also wasn’t in love with the drawer pulls I had fashioned, and I still had not put polyurethane on the black stained exterior.  In my post about the master bedroom idea board, I mentioned I was planning to repaint the drawers and make new drawer pulls.

One day last week, I got busy and moved the nightstands to my garage, where I removed the too-small drawer pulls, sanded the drawer faces, and rolled on 5-6 thin coats of glossy white paint!  I was immediately much happier with how they looked.


Another huge improvement happened when I put 3 coats of my new favorite water-based, no-VOC polyurethane on the black-stained exteriors of the nightstands.  They became glossy, smooth and so much easier to dust!
Inspired by the amazing creativity and thriftiness of Mandi from Vintage Revivals, I used some paint I already had and bought some leather belts at the thrift store.  I painted one side of the belts with 2 coats of latex paint.  When they were dry, I cut them to 5-1/2 inch lengths, asked my sweet husband to drill holes in them, and then attached them to the nightstands with hex screws and nuts.  We used the existing hardware holes in the nightstands, but had to drill them a bit larger to accommodate the hex screws.
Are we happier with the finished product?  We love it!  The more modern look and nice contrast between the glossy white and shiny black is just perfect against the blue wall.  We are making some great progress on the master bedroom, and hopefully I will have more to share with you very soon, along with some better photos of the finished nightstand.
How about you? Any project failures that you reworked and then ended up loving?

Styled shelves 3

Arranging Beautiful Bookcases

Is anyone besides me finding it to be way too hot  to do any outdoor projects?  Well, this quite pregnant and easily sunburned mama has had to set up shop next to the swamp cooler and work on finishing up some things I have started indoors.  First up was to finally get my books and ‘things’ out of boxes and onto the shelves that my husband and I put together.

Chances are, you have at least one bookshelf somewhere in your house.  Since I happen to have a large set of empty shelves, I thought I would show you how I styled my shelves and give you a few hints that might help you with your own.  My first step was to unpack some boxes, but yours might be to remove all of the stuff from your existing shelves.  I like to start with a clean slate, and then selectively add and subtract until I like the finished result.

The first tip I have is to consider the placement of your shelves.  If they are in your living or family room, you will probably arrange them very differently than if they are more hidden away in your office or a bedroom.  My shelves are in the living room, right next to the front entry door. They are very open to public viewing and within easy access of a curious toddler.  My main goal was to create a visually pleasing work space for myself that is also clean and kid-friendly.  Fortunately for me, most interior design and art books are somewhat pretty and colorful, so I could put my reference books on display without embarrassment.  I have seen a ton of photos lately with books arranged by color, and I was very happy with how it looked when I used this method with my books.

The second thing to remember is to keep the look simple.  I often am guilty of adding too many tchotchkes and cluttering the look of my shelves.  This time, I tried to limit my accessories to some white pottery, a few black accents, and some silver sparkle.  Since my books and wall behind the shelves are so colorful, I didn’t want to have too much going on.  I only used what I already had in my house to style these shelves, so that helped me pare things down and keep accessories more meaningful.  I added a few plants because this area gets plenty of light, and well, because we love plants!

The third tip I used was to arrange my books both horizontally and vertically.  It helps to add interest and vary the heights.  Also, other objects can be placed on vertically stacked books, and can be used to hold horizontally placed books in place.  If your shelves are deep, you can also layer artwork or photographs along with your books.

To keep my shelves kid-friendly, I put breakables and other items of value out of my daughter’s reach.  I used baskets for her toys in the bottom shelves, and I plan to get more of these baskets on future trips to Ikea.  I put her books on the bottom shelves so they are easy for her to pull out and look through (I was an elementary school teacher in my previous career, so I love children’s books).  I also plan to purchase a 2-drawer insert for one of the shelves (also from Ikea-$35) for desk miscellany such as stamps, bills, etc.  This will keep me more organized and keep those items out of little fingers.

One other thing I did, which some of you may have noticed…I banished all of my husband’s books from this set of bookshelves.  The top reason is because this is my office space, so I needed to have my books readily accessible.  The other reason is that his books just aren’t as pretty, and most of them are short and just don’t fit this style of shelf very well.  I have big plans for his books (downstairs, in the family room) with a different style of Ikea shelf.  I did display some meaningful souvenirs from his four months of high-school in Japan.   He’s okay with my decision, and hardly complained a bit.

For those of you interested in a price breakdown, here it is, without tax added:
EXPEDIT shelves from Ikea–$220
KNIPSA baskets from Ikea (2)–$34
Aluminum shelf supports, nuts and bolts–$50
Turquoise roller stool from Fred Meyer–$40

The arrangements on my ‘Wall-O-Shelves’ will probably change often, as I decide I like something better somewhere else, or as an object ends up being within my child’s reach.  I have something fabulous in mind  for the wall above my desk, but for now it remains untouched.

What have you been doing to beat the heat?  Any bookshelf rearranging?  Unpacking long forgotten boxes?  Leave a comment and let me know what you think!

piano bench after copy

Musical Update

My husband’s grandpa just gave him his piano, since my husband is the only one in his family who plays (self-taught, by ear!).  I had to sell my piano when I went back to college to get my Interior Design degree, and have been piano-less ever since, so I was also happy to be given this little one.

Can I also tell you that I am very happy that it is pretty small, for a piano?  Because it is not like you can just tuck a piano in a corner and call it good.  No, a piano has quite a presence, and pretty much demands an entire wall to itself.  Preferably an interior wall, without windows and doors–so demanding!  Luckily, in our little house, we have a little (interior) wall that is just perfect for this piano.  And, it is upstairs, which made my husband and all who helped carry it in very happy indeed.

Our little piano is in pretty good shape, and for now, I intend to leave it the way it is.  But, the piano bench cover was a different story.  It was originally just a solid wood top, but evidently someone got tired of sitting on it and decided to pad it and cover it.  Since I can’t bear to leave anything entirely untouched, that upholstered piano bench was calling my name.  Really, it was more like yelling at me, every time I walked by.

I wanted something a bit more upbeat and patterned, so I started my search online for discount fabric.  I decided I liked the look of an ikat pattern (see finished bench), so I narrowed my search that way, but wasn’t in love with anything yet.  Then, my mom and I happened to run to Joann fabrics on Saturday, and I decided to take a quick look and see if they had any ikat patterns in upholstery fabric.  Low and behold, they did, in the perfect colors to blend in with the rest of the living room and also tie in with the color of the piano a bit.  It was my lucky day, because the fabric also happened to be 50% off, so I only paid $6.24.  Can’t beat that for a beautiful new bench cover!

Changing the upholstery was really pretty simple.  I unscrewed the hinges from the bench to remove the top.  Then, I removed the bazillion staples that were holding the old fabric on with a flat screwdriver and a needle-nose pliers.

I had a lot of help with this process from my little one.  Very helpful, she is.  Once the old fabric was gone, I lined up the new fabric, making sure to center the pattern so it didn’t look all funky and lopsided.  Next, I pulled it tight and put four staples in it, one in each center point.  I turned it over and made sure it was all even and tight enough before adding more staples.  That way, you don’t get all finished and notice that it is off-center and have to take out all the staples you just so carefully put in!  For the corners, I folded them sort of like wrapping a present, and stapled them neatly.

Then, I simply screwed the top back on the hinges and Voila!  I love the new pattern and think it makes our new piano feel right at home.

Room redesign for under $100

What do you all like to do when you visit your relatives?  Go shopping? Go to museums, or the zoo? Go to the beach?  Well, I like to redesign rooms for my family.  When I visited my sister and her family in Texas for two and a half weeks, we transformed four rooms in her house!  How’s that for a productive trip?

I took ‘before’ and ‘after’ photos of their guest room to show you just how easy and inexpensive it can be to make dramatic changes in a room.

This room is the guest room, and although it was quiet and peaceful, my sister felt that it was a bit boring and lacking in color.  The room has a fantastic window, the largest I have ever seen in a bedroom, and it is the focal point of the room. The walls were painted a neutral beige, and there are matching nightstands and lamps on either side of the bed.

There is a nice small desk on the right wall, with a folding chair to sit on.

We chose to paint that window wall a deep olive green to play up the window even more, and to accentuate some of the great art that my sister already had. Green is a favored color and is present throughout the house in various shades via pillows, sofas, kitchen, bathroom and laundry room walls, etc. so it flows will with the rest of the home.  Although I usually recommend choosing fabrics before paint color, we lucked out when we found a new black and white duvet with a bit of green that picked up the wall color perfectly (remember, you really don’t want a ‘match,’ you just want it to go together) .

A white and green throw pillow, a full length mirror, a new desk chair, and a few buttons were the only other purchases for the room.  I ‘shopped’ in closets and other places around the house for accessories to personalize the room and make it even more comfortable and relaxing for their guests.  A silver bed frame will be moved in from another room eventually, to help keep the pillows from scooting off toward the window.  I can personally vouch that the room is already an even cozier spot for guests to rest and relax comfortably.

Here is a breakdown of what we spent on the guestroom:

Paint $9.97 (no-VOC Olympic paint from Lowes)
Duvet $39.99 (from Home Goods)
Pillow $14.99 (from Home Goods)
Chair $19.99 (from IKEA)
Buttons $3.98 (from Hobby Lobby)
Mirror $5.00 (from Target)

Total $93.92

There are some things that really make a difference when redesigning a room on a budget:

  1. Use no-VOC paint.  You will love not having to live with the smell of paint for the next few weeks, and you won’t have to worry about your kids breathing in the toxins.
  2. Think about some of the things that make a room more comfortable to you, and add them to the room.  The mirror, towel hooks, desk chair, note pad and books or magazines are all items that we thought would make the room more homey and relaxing.
  3. Reuse objects from around the house to give them a fresh perspective and save you some money!  You might be surprised at how nice that vase in the back of your closet looks when you dust it off and pair it with a stack of books.  We found the chair cushion in a hall closet and sewed bright red buttons on it to give it a polished look.
  4. Pick up similar colors and tones throughout the room.  Our olive green wall looks great with paintings done by our mom and grandma, along with some prints from Target and some paintings my brother-in-law’s family brought over when they visited from Africa.
  5. Have fun, be adventurous, and work with what you already own as much as possible!