Category: Home Improvement

Happy Green Walls

One of Chris and my mottoes is “Everything Takes Longer Than You Think”. At least, this has seemed to be true in our remodeling adventures. We start what seems like an easy project and then that project snowballs into about a thousand other projects, and it ends up taking 3 times the time we originally thought it would. Case in point, the family room.

If you remember, it originally looked like this:


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After we moved in, we lived with it pretty much as is for a year:



But after the baby started crawling, we decided to turn this room into our baby-proof room, and we decided to freshen it up with a coat of paint. Then because the wood flooring was all water-damaged and had missing holes in it, we decided to put in carpet.

Fast forward 3 months and it looks like this:



It’s already a huge improvement, but it’s still not done! Here’s what we did:

1) Closed up two large holes in the ceiling that opened into the loft room.
2) Removed the carpeted stair treads and spray painted the spiral staircase in Rustoleum Hammered Dark Bronze.
3) Patched tons of drywall, hired in a contractor to help us smooth-coat the ceiling.
4) Painted the ceiling white.
5) Installed can lights
6) Painted the trim semi-gloss white.
7) Removed the damaged flooring.

We’re still working on:

1) Re-facing the fireplace and tiling the hearth.
2) Re-installing trim around one of the windows.
3) Choosing carpet and getting it installed.

It took us a really long time to get this far because of the water damage in the walls. Chris had to patch the roof, re-caulk the windows, and replace much of the damaged drywall. On top of this, the stairwell into the loft space was wallpapered in a hideous old wallpaper that WOULD NOT COME OFF. The drywall had not been primed prior to the installation of the said hideous wallpaper, and therefore when we soaked and tried to remove the paper, the drywall paper started disintegrating too. Chris ended up painting over the wallpaper with an oil-based primer and then we painted it to match the rest of the room downstairs.


I’m loving the fresh green walls. It makes me feel happy. It’s “Nantucket Breeze” by Benjamin Moore, color matched in a Behr paint.

We weren’t going to do the fireplace surround at first, but then the aforementioned snowballing effect let us to consider chipping out the ugly fake slate tile and installing this lovely ledgestone. More pics on that later.

Slowly but surely wins the race, right?



Before and After: Painted Stairs

Remember this hideousness?


As we work on getting the family room fixed up, one of the biggest impact projects we undertook was to remove the carpeted stair treads (they were grody, stained, and all-round nasty), and to repaint the badly scratched and stained metal staircase.


Here it is half painted and already looking much nicer minus the awful stained carpet. We used Rustoleum Hammered Dark Bronze spray paint. That stuff is seriously amazing. You spray it on (after cleaning and priming of course), and moments later, it curdles into a beautiful hammered finish. It looks much more expensive and professional than just a simple smooth finish.


Ah much better! With the dark bronze color I feel like it looks more industrial-modern rather than dated-80s. We also painted the stair treads but we intend to fill them in with stained wood treads.


It’s hard to show you in a photo what the hammered finish looks like but this gives you the general idea. It is MUCH nicer than a smooth finish…that speckling is ALL paint, folks! It helps to camouflage imperfections in the underlying metal nicely.

We’ve still got a lot to do in this family room but we’re starting to feel like we’re really getting someplace! Can’t wait to see the finished product!



Refreshing a Gilded Mirror

For our anniversary a few weeks ago, Chris and I went antiquing.  Yes, antiquing.  What, that’s not your idea of a romantic anniversary date?  For us, doing anything without the baby is a romantic date.  Gracie was with her grandparents, so we were free!  We headed over to Temecula, hit up Old Town and a few antique stores, and then spent the late afternoon wine-tasting.

We found this awesome antique gilded mirror at The Antique Barn.  The Barn is a huge antique mall with gazillions of stalls filled with treasures.  It’s pretty overwhelming unless you know what you’re looking for.  I knew we were looking for a mirror for the foyer, but I was disappointed that there were few mirrors that were interesting, in good condition, and yet also the right size for our entry.  Finally, after about an hour of poking our noses into every dusty warren, we came across this beauty.

It’s lying on my lap in this photo…so never mind those disembodied jean-clad legs sticking out.

It was perfect — the perfect size, and interesting but not too ornate.  The gilded wooden frame was in good condition, and it was just $40!  Sold.

I knew that I wanted to touch up the gilding, so after we brought it home, I ordered a Krylon Gold Leafing Pen online.  This pen was so easy to use, and the bright gold color was perfect.  It really looks like gold leaf, not paint.  And one pen was enough for me to touch up the entire mirror!

I mostly just touched up the highlights, leaving the crevices a darker, duller gold. This really helped the relief of the design to stand out more.

And there she hangs in our foyer. Obviously we still have quite a bit of work to do here. The walls and wainscoting badly need to be repainted and we need to get a sleeker, narrower console table. The one we currently have was actually a vintage sewing table that we painted and refinished. I love it but it sticks out too far into the space, creating a tripping hazard if you want to go down the hall to the right of the front door.

So there you are! An easy peasy touch-up that brings a tired-looking antique mirror back to its former glory!

This Is the Bed That Chris Made


UPDATE! Please click here for the DIY Bed Frame PLANS!

Our local IKEA has some great Saturday Shocker events, and a few weeks ago, we picked up the SULTAN king-size latex mattress for just $300, reduced from $700. I think IKEA may be discontinuing this mattress, but we were pretty happy to snatch up a king size mattress for this price.

Chris and I have found that just because a mattress is expensive, doesn’t mean it is comfortable. We tend to prefer firm foam mattresses for optimal back alignment and minimal movement transfer. Before this one, we had tried two queen memory foam mattresses. We like the memory foam, but they always tended to break down in a year or two, leaving large depressions in the foam. The latex foam mattress isn’t quite as firm at first blush, but it feels denser and you don’t sink in as far. I’m hoping it will last a little longer than the memory foam mattresses, but at $300, it’s not too bad of a risk.

Well, since we had a king-size mattress, we needed a king-size bed frame. Unfortunately, most nicer options were out of our price range, and the cheaper options (IKEA) were too cheap. So being the intrepid DIY-er that he is, Chris decided to build a bed frame for us.

The platform itself was simple — Chris just used a framing nail gun to nail a bunch of 2x4s and 2x6s together, exactly like framing a floor or wall. Then he used 2x8s to make the legs and frame. We decided to keep it simple and modern with two 2x8s butted up against each other for the legs. Chris connected them at right angles by drilling pocket screw holes using this Mini Kreg Jig Kit that we got on Amazon.

Before putting the frame together we sanded, stained and sealed the wood. We used Minwax Classic Gray for the stain, which is a beautiful weathered gray, one of Minwax’s newest colors. After it dried, we brushed polyurethane over top and let the frame off-gas in the garage for a few days. Finally, Chris brought it into the room and screwed all the wood together by using long screws (3″) drilled through the inner frame into the outer frame. He also screwed two pieces of plywood on top of the frame to form a solid base for the mattress.

If you’re planning to DIY this bed frame, remember that the structural integrity comes from the inner frame. This bed frame is probably quite a bit sturdier than it needs to be (basically it’s a floor frame) but it doesn’t creak, wiggle, or flex at all =). It will be a good thing to crouch next to in the event of an earthquake.

If you’re interested in building your own, check out the plans and dimensions!

And here it is, in all its delicious king-sized glory.

It’s not perfect. The gaps at the seams area tiny bit wider at some areas than others. But that just adds to its homemade charm, I think.

I love the weathered gray color. And we used a polyurethane with a satin finish, so it’s not too shiny.

Here’s a better look at that leg. I love how solid and rustic it feels.

It sure feels good to be up off the floor. And the clearance under the bed is just tall enough for me to fit the Dyson underneath…a nice unexpected plus…

Slowly, bit by bit, the master bedroom is starting to come together!

Pssst! If you like this, you might like the DIY Dining Table we built!

UPDATE! We built an upholstered headboard! Check it out!


Living Room Progress!

We’ve been hard at work on getting the living room livable (mostly because I’m sick of having all the junk that was IN the living room scattered about the house), and I’m pretty happy with the progress thus far:

There is definitely a lot of work to be done still, but it is starting to come together! Remember, it used to look like this:

In the last week we have:

1) Painted the ceiling, walls, and wainscoting
2) Finished installing the recessed lighting
3) Moved in a sofa, rug, two side tables, and a rocking chair

Not too bad considering we had a 6-month old in the mix and we had to do most of the work during her naps or after she went to bed! Let’s look at it again!

We found the sofa on Craigslist for $225. Not super cheap, but it’s almost new. The rug is from IKEA. It is the VALBY RUTA, and it is in our opinion one of the best deals at IKEA — it is soft, feels pretty thick, has a beautiful pattern (not too floral but still pretty) and it’s almost 6×8 all for just $79.99!

The Moroccan-esque side table was an estate sale find, and the mid century modern table in the center is one of the best things we’ve ever found thrifting! You can’t really tell from this photo, butI love how the sides of the table top swoosh up on either side. And it was just $15! The rocking chair is the one I used to have in the nursery. This is not its permanent home; it’s just staying there until we get a couple of chairs for that area.

The biggest challenge with this room is that it is super super long. To give you some perspective, here is the other end of the room:

Can you say awkward? Our eventual plan is to put two armchairs where the rocking chair is, and to put an upright piano where the armoire is right now. We definitely need more storage though (see how unsightly our recent Costco purchases are, sitting in the corner?), so we’ve been throwing around the idea of a large cabinet or buffet somewhere.

The room would lend itself well to being a combination living-dining room, but we have no need for a formal dining area, and we already have a nice breakfast nook in the kitchen. Oh, and also, we can’t put anything big against the wall to the right (not pictured) because it’s the walkway between the kitchen and the front door.

Oh well! There’s progress as well as a few challenges! That’s fine with me. I’m just happy the room doesn’t look and feel like a cave anymore!


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