DIY – Chalkboard

I’ve been dreaming of a functional chalkboard for quite sometime. I think they are charming. And super fun for kiddos. The hubs… well, let’s just say he wasn’t on the same page as me. I was dreaming of walls covered in chalkboard paint – cute little doodles everywhere. He. Was. Terrified. I could see it on his face. And he tended to put his foot down on this one whenever I would bring it up. So, my compromise was a DIY chalkboard. About 2 ft by 4 ft of awesomeness. And now, I am satisfied.

It was actually really easy, just consisted of some wood staining, screwing it all together, adding mounting hardware, and then hanging it up!  Thinking that I missed a step? I didn’t have to do ANY painting for this project because Home Depot carries chalkboard covered MDF boards for $10 bucks! And in that section of the store, I picked up six 2 foot long, thin boards to frame it out. I only had to cut down two of the boards, and for me the less cutting the better.

I wanted to go for a rustic look, so aging and staining were the first step. I beat the boards for a bit with a hammer (both sides). And then I hammered the ends of a screw in various places. And then did some more distressing with whatever I found around the garage. I do this technique a lot when making DIY stuff because rustic pieces tend to give more leeway to the imperfections.

For the next step, I took the chalkboard and put it face down on a blanket. I simply stuck the framing boards under it and lined them up flush with the edge of the chalkboard. Screwed them together, and we were golden! You just need to make sure your screws are shorter, so they don’t poke through the front.

Last step was to attach some mounting hardware. The chalkboard is moderately heavy, so I decided to go with a wire system to hang it up. I used these babies and an old wire clothes hanger.

I actually took these off of a mirror that we had hanging in our master bathroom. Tip: Most rectangular/square mirrors have two sets of mounting hardware, one to hang it vertically and one to hang it horizontally. And since you aren’t ever going to use them both at the same time, why not borrow the unused set? I screwed them into the sides and then used hanger wire to connect the two to hang the whole thing up.

I took this picture midway through, so it wasn’t exactly finished. You get the idea though. Here is what it kind of looks like now:

I love the contrast of the stained wood against the black. It works well in our home because of our acacia wood floors. And soon we will show you where it lives in our house! To be continued…

Kitchen Reveal: Blinded by the Light

This was what our kitchen looked like in the beginning. Isn’t she lovely?

The kitchen and I have had a bit of a love/hate relationship. Mostly because I’m not a fan of doing the dishes. Least favorite chore ever. Even with a dishwasher. Also, I eat to live these days. Definitely don’t live to eat. I’m breastfeeding my little guy, and he reacts to dairy in my diet. Ugh, it’s no fun. I haven’t had cheesy goodness or milk or icecream for 3 MONTHS! That being said, I’m not really “into” cooking lately. BUT none of that really has to do with the design or function of the space, now does it? Well, a year and a half later we have this:

And the design, I love. The clean lines of the cabinetry (No, they are not from IKEA. We get asked that sometimes), the frosted panel inserts, granite counters, stainless steel, the cute saying above the stove, the pops of color… Mmm, mmm, mmmm! Really, the only problem we had with the kitchen was the amount of sunlight that blinded us a significant part of the morning. Don’t get me wrong, we love natural light but…  I actually considered wearing my sunglasses to stand at the kitchen sink.

And we have lived like that since we moved in. Until now… I finally decided to spend $27 dollars on a shade/blind from Wal-Mart and fell head-over-heals in love with my kitchen again! PS – I hung that baby myself!

It still looks crazy bright in the pictures, but you have no idea how much it has helped tone it down some. Plus the space feels finished. And of course functional. Crazy what one little shade can do.

Spending AND Saving!

I think my new favorite store is Goodwill. That place is incredible. I’ve recently come to the conclusion that resell it shops are where it’s at… Especially for the following categories: children’s clothing, home decor, & furniture. I recently needed some dress clothes for my little men, and got everything I needed for under $20 at a local store. Two dress shirts, one pair of pants, and a kids tie – and all in perfect shape! I find home decor items mostly at flea markets. Search those booths up and down! Hidden treasures are sure to be there. I’m always having to tell myself “NO!” because I find so many fun & unique decor pieces. Same goes for furniture – flea markets OR Salvation Army/DAV stores and sometimes Goodwill.

But hands down, the cheapest and most fun place that I have experienced is definitely Goodwill! I go every Thursday. My oldest son is at school, and my littlest is at his Grandma’s house. Yay for free time!

Here is what I scored last Thursday:

Cool, huh? The pillow was a mere $2.99. originally around $20 from Target. AND I love that it has texture, added bonus! The book ($1) has fun illustrations, a good coffee-table book if you will. And that pillow case… swoon!

LOVE the trendy pattern and for only $2 it seemed like a deal to me.

The hubs and I are the kind of people that like the house to seem “full” because it tends to feel more cozy that way. Well, when you have a somewhat large house… it takes a while and $$$ to fill it up! So, I feel less guilty when I find awesome deals on house stuff. I think my bank account agrees!

Here’s to saving moola, but getting awesome stuff! A win-win in my book.

Repurpose BIG Containers!

Just think: What is outside of the box that could go inside the box? Seems like a little bit of backwards advice right since you are usually told to think OUTSIDE of the box… and well, I guess that works here too. The point? You can use your product containers for other purposes in your home. Especially the economy size food containers that you get at places like SAMs.

Like these:

Here are two that I had. I got really excited to use the Animal Crackers one as storage for my son’s blocks. The colors look really cute inside the clear container, and the red lid matches his room nicely! Plus, it’s easier for him to help clean up when he can just toss his blocks in, rather than trying to make them fit nicely back into their original box. Actually it’s easier for the both of us!

Colors look good, huh? So, really all I did for this was remove the label. BUT I imagine you could get all kinds of creative with it. Chalkboard labels, spray paint the lid a different color, decals, etc. And maybe we will give it some more love in the future, but for now I just feel good about not spending any extra money on storage! Maybe I will buy some more blocks to fill it up instead, looks like it could even hold another set! Pssh, my lucky kids!🙂

DIY – Canned it!

I feel like I’m starting over, in more ways than one. I started writing this blog not too long ago to document the things we were doing to improve our home life. And then life got a little interupted. The kind of interuption where you go a little M.I.A in blog world. But, I’m getting back at it… slowly but surely.

Here is my simple DIY… or you could say problem solving idea. I saved some flowers from a bouqet that we had at our house. Half of the bouqet was wilted, but the other half was going strong. So, I gathered up the good ones and put them in a smaller vase that we had on hand.

Only then to realize that the tops still looked nice, but the stems- eh, not so much. The solution? Just a simple ol’ spray painted tomoto juice can. Hides the yucky stems, plus adds a bit of color to the kitchen. A bit of extra color I should say (along with the flowers themselves).

See, you can sort of see the yucky stems here:


And now you don’t! 

Just a simple idea, but I like it!

I constantly save my cans. I try to spray paint them whenever I am doing another spray paint project. Then, I just keep them on hand for whatever I come up with! Thinking about doing a few red ones next time… perhaps a Christmas project? Hmm… the wheels are turning!

House Tour: K1’s Bedroom

Meet my biggest little man. Koah.

He is an awesome kiddo. But his bedroom… well, it’s getting there. I like several things about it, but it hasn’t really received that loving touch yet. I moved him from his nursery as soon as I found out I was pregnant again because I wanted him to have plenty of time to adjust and take ownership of his new space. I think this was a very good thing, and since the baby is here he has shown no signs of jealousy over his old bedroom. That being said, I probably rushed it just a little bit and that is why the design is lacking.

A few things about the space…

1. It has a vaulted ceiling, meaning lots of wall space. Also meaning that his old artwork / pictures now look a lot smaller than they did in his nursery.

2. It could use some paint love on one wall. There are currently two cream walls, and two light brown walls. *Note: You can’t have an accent wall if the paint is equally distributed throughout the room. 

3. He currently sleeps in twin bed w/ bed rails. These bed rails… not so pleasing on the eye. I need to address that.

4. His bed is also lacking a headboard. Future DIY?

I’m looking forward to tackling the project little by little. Should be a good time. Here is a glimpse of it. These pictures are as is. Exactly how it looks in the morning after he wakes up, and we rush around getting ready for his class on Thursdays. About the only thing I do in there is open up the curtains. Trying to keep it real for ya!🙂

And there you have it… your first room reveal. Hope you aren’t disappointed. Ha! It will get better, promise. Here is to the functional adventures in K1’s bedroom!

DIY: Bathtub Love

DIY of this week: a bathtub tray… super functional and FREE (since I had everything I needed here already)! I did a double whammy on this one. I found some way to repurpose the left over building wood that we have had lying around forever, and made an awesome tray all for yours truly.

While browsing pinterest one day, I stumbled upon a blog that made a similar tray/shelf. Here is a link to that inspiration:

http://snippetsofdesign.com/build-your-own-bathtub-shelf-yes-really/

It didn’t look that hard, so I took the plunge.

I used:

  • 1 piece of scrap board that we had 11″x 35″
  • 2 smaller boards each 2″x11″
  • 4 screws
  • stain
  • polyurethane

I only needed the hubs to do one thing for me. This part…

What a manly man! :) He cut the boards to size for me. And on my way back up to the garage, I did a quick check to make sure we measured and cut right. Yep. We did.

I also marked where the smaller boards would go underneath by placing them up against the edges of the tub. 

Then on to the garage I went. Set everything up on the saw horses and went to work! 

I used two screws on each of the support boards to secure it to the tray. Easy peasy. After that I used a hand sander to smooth out all of the surfaces & edges. I made sure to round off all of the corners and harsh edges. 

I wanted to achieve the rustic look, so I banged it up using both sides of my hammer, screws, and other random things that I found around the garage. Next comes the stain. I just used what we had around the house which was Minwax English Chestnut. 

I liked how it looked after one coat, so I stuck with that.

Once the stain was dry it was time for some poly. This was probably the worst step for me… mostly because I don’t have a lot of patience, and you gotta wait at least 3-4 hours for the stuff to dry. I kept running out to the garage to check on it. I tell ya, it was like watching water boil. I prevailed though, a gave the tray about 3 good coats. And that… was it!

Now I just gotta wait until the kiddos go to sleep tonight, so I can have some time to enjoy it! I might even leave it styled up. That is if my 2 1/2 year old won’t disturb it. Doubtful.

Thoughts? I’m not kidding when I say this was pretty easy. Besides the poly step, it maybe took me a half hour tops. So, what do you say… are you going to make one?

Inspired Focal Point(s)

Think about this, you go to a restaurant… how do you tell that it’s an upscale dining establishment? Usually, at first, it’s the swanky decor. Then you probably notice the lighting features, music, menus, staff uniforms, etc. Something about the way the restaurant is decorated makes you feel like you are going to be eating well! Same goes for really any place you tend to visit. There are usually things that you like (or dislike) about a space because of the way it makes you “feel”.

When I am in a setting outside of my home that I am enjoying, I try to really look into the space to see why it is that I feel that way. Sometimes, it’s just because the space appears clean. Sometimes it’s because they are burning the most incredible smelling autumn candle. And other times it is because of the way it is decorated or painted. Next time you are out at some place you really enjoy, whether it’s your parents home, a friend’s house, church, a restaurant, a store, etc., take a moment to notice why you really enjoy the space. Once you pinpoint this… try adding it to your home. Create a space you love to come back to.

Before we built our house, my husband and I went on a homes tour that is held each year in our city. It showcases custom designed homes built by established builders in the area. We were basically snooping around for inspiration. And we found some, yay!

Behold, the corner fireplace.

We happened upon a house that had one of these babies, and I instantly knew that this would be a functional component in our future home. Why? Well, many reasons. One reason being that it produces heat when cold, duh. Another reason, it is pretty to look at. Haha… But for real? The main functional feature that I saw was that I could have two non-competing focal points in the room (the fireplace and tv) without having to mount the tv above the mantel (the hubs did not want to do that).

The pictures above gave us a lot of inspiration not only about the layout of our living room, but also some decor ideas as well. Now, the style in the picture is WAY to traditional for my liking. Don’t get me wrong, it is absolutely, positively so gorgeous. Just not my taste for my own home. My taste, while a little rustic is a bit more on the contemporary side. The things that I was inspired by were the corner fireplace (already mentioned), the big black entertainment cabinet, and the couch / chair setup. And here is how I made that happen at our house shortly after we moved in (definitely lacking some items, I’d say):

And here is what is looks like now:

Now, I know not everyone is building their own home and some will have to have a fireplace where they might not necessarily love it. BUT the point I am making is look for inspiration, it doesn’t have to be structural like my example was. Figure out why the inspiration makes you feel good, and implement it!

A Proper Introduction

Well, it all has to start somewhere. For us it was in the Spring of 2011. April 26, 2011 actually. That was not only the day we passed inspection, but moving day. Our first home. And we were lucky enough to build it custom, in fact I drew up most of the layout on a napkin at a local coffee shop one day. Who does that?  Anyway, we had a blank canvas on our hands and nothing really to fill it with. Our new house was more than twice the size of our last, so the few pieces of furniture we had needed a lot of new furniture friends to join them. We spent the next year buying furniture, buying decor, buying dishes, buying… buying… buying! And finishing our basement. And living life in the mean time.

Here is a  proper, official pre-furniture (and cleaning) house tour. In all actuality, I was surprised to find the pictures, and very excited to share. I hasn’t even been 2 years in the house yet, but looking at these pictures really makes it feel ages ago. It also reminds me to take a chill pill because we have managed to do a lot in the short time we have lived here. Keep in mind that when we moved in we only had the main floor finished. It wasn’t until about 6 months later that we finished our basement level. And here they are:

Entry

Living Area

Kitchen

Dining Area

Master Bedroom Complete with folding lawn chairs. What? Like that’s not normal…

Master Bath

Bedrooms

Office

Deck

It’s definitely odd to look back at these pictures and see how bare everything was. Almost bittersweet. Bitter because I miss having that blank canvas of a home to work with. And to be honest, the less stuff the less to clean. Sweet because of how cozy and purposeful our home has become.  That is the trade-off I suppose! Stay tuned for more interior pics and details on our functional transformations!

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