Saturday, September 21, 2013

Putting the 'sun' in sunroom

This is the story of how a little room that sat empty for 18 months and was never on our radar to tackle ended up becoming the place we now spend most of our time. 
The day before Logan's church dedication ceremony back in February, as if we didn't have enough to do to get ready, we decided we were finally fed up with the couches we'd been using for the past 7 years. Without doing any real research or comparison shopping (very unlike us!), we went out and just bought one - we were just at that point. But when it came time to dispose of our very used former couches, we realized we should keep them and put them in our otherwise-empty sunroom, particularly because these were the only couches we were still allowing our dog to lay on (side note: as hard as it was to resist the looks we got as we trained her to stay off the two sets of new couches we've gotten in this house, it's been the best decision ever - they stay so much cleaner and are wearing so much better as a result).

Anyway, all of a sudden we had furniture in the sunroom, and all of a sudden I found myself wanting to make the sunroom a livable space. But unlike the other projects we've taken on around here, we weren't planning on investing in any major DIY; this one was going to have to get done through a combination of the little things - painting, spiffing up those worn couches, and piecing together things from my old standbys: Target, Marshall's/HomeGoods, and IKEA (who am I kidding, most of the furniture we own is from IKEA anyway).

Because part of the goal here was to put the 'sun' in sunroom, and to eliminate the last of the dark, dingy, retro-in-a-bad-way wood paneling in the house (hurray!), I opted for a white room, which you won't find anywhere else in my house. This gets a little tricky though, because "white white" is often too stark. I ended up going with "December Starlight" from Valspar, which looks white on the wall but isn't 100% white. And, by some miracle, all of my "whites" (walls, picture frames, furniture) ended up matching perfectly, which can be even trickier. It's rare to luck out like that on home projects, so I'll take it when I can get it.

My only other comment on the painting was that it was soooo much more work than any other painting project I've done, because of all the grooves between those wood slats of paneling. I did two coats of primer on it all, then had to do three coats of paint, including one with a brush used to get in between every. one. of. those. grooves. Torture.

As you can see, there's some interesting stuff going on with "woodwork" around the windows - our conclusion is that this room was pretty much thrown together using what seems like scrap material when the addition was put on back in the 70s. There are literally wood planks randomly nailed above certain windows; Troy says we probably don't want to see what's behind them. But again, this being the little room makeover vs. another big one, we went with what we had. The good news was, painting gave me an opportunity to try and make it make a little more sense of it all, which I think I was able to do by painting some of the wood a bright, sunny yellow (Valspar's Lemon Twist).  

The part of the room I'm most excited about was the little shelf nook - again, an unexciting, neglected part of the room until it was given some interest by lining the back wall with patterned fabric (you see this all the time on Pinterest and home improvement shows, often done with wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, paint, or even wallpaper). All of a sudden, I had lots of ideas for things to put on the shelves that had never inspired me before.
Finally, the reason we now spend most of our time out here? We moved our upstairs TV from the living room out to the sunroom, which pretty much does it. Also, this room is right off the kitchen which makes it easy to hang out here, and truth be told, there's just something more comfortable about hanging out on these old couches when you spend your nights with a toddler and a yellow lab. We don't worry about the mess or things getting spilled out here, which is a nice break from the way we behave around our still-new-feeling furniture in the other living spaces.  
Source list for everything else in the room:
  • Furniture: Liatorp series media stand and side tables from IKEA
  • Picture frames: Ribba, Sondrum, and Virserum frames in assorted sizes from IKEA
  • Curtains: Sheer Curtain Panels from Carol Wright Gifts (one of the only sites I found with 54" curtains for the short windows)
  • Fabric for shelving: Waverly upholstery fabric, Joann Fabric stores
  • Wicker chair and wicker pendant light from IKEA (for the light, I removed the hardwire fixture and substituted a cord fixture from IKEA that I just plug into the wall behind the chair)
  • Mini table lamps w/glass base (in stores) and yellow lampshades from Target
  • Throw pillows from Marshall's and HomeGoods
  • Mini vases from IKEA

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Basement remodel: man-cave compromise!

We completed our basement remodel about a year ago, right after Logan was born, but I'm just getting around to taking photos and feeling ready to document the project. I've actually been keeping busy with some other house projects that I'll be blogging about soon, in addition to our baby of course, who is becoming more like a toddler every day.

Anyway, we knew we really needed to remodel the basement in our house because it would nearly double the amount of livable space available, especially as we added another person to our family. The space could also be used so much more effectively - it's a pretty small space and the fireplace was just monstrous. Everything was severely outdated and kind of dingy/dirty from the sooty, wood fireplace. Finally, the space was all chopped up with a little wall that divided one part of the room but didn't need to be there.

Like many men Troy wanted the space to be his "man cave," meaning he had full jurisdiction over how it looked and what it could be used for. Unfortunately, our house just isn't big enough to have that much space not be usable by everyone, so we tried to compromise. I agreed to keep the decorations somewhat masculine (and I ended up loving the orange!), and typically there are some of Troy's deer head/horn thingys on the fireplace but we've had to put them away recently so they don't get broken by the crawling babe.

Troy did all demolition of the existing fireplace, 70-s delight wood paneling, sheetrock, and even ceiling, as the wood fireplace had left a lot of soot on it. We hired out the fireplace conversion to gas and the tiling to ensure it was done correctly, and Troy hung the new sheetrock but hired out the taping, mudding, and sanding this time around to keep the project moving as the clock also ticked down to our due date. (I didn't take nearly as many pictures of the whole process as I should have, given all the other baby prep that was taking place.)

In the end, we needed some rework done on the fireplace so that and the carpet installation and furniture delivery all took place the first week we had Logan home from the hospital. Yes, it was crazy but so worth it to get the project done and get to start using a space we hadn't spent 5 minutes in for the first year we'd been in the house.

Quick note on the built-in shelving: this was tricky because the space on the left side of the TV is a bit wider than on the right, and because the edge of the fireplace on each side is jagged rock. Troy thought about it for about a month and ended up using some material that is made for doing wood stairs. I think it looks great - exactly the look I was going for. I found most of the gold d├ęcor and other things at Target, much of it for 70% off.

We love it! There's nothing better than curling up with the fireplace on and watching some TV. It was a significant investment compared to the other house projects I've blogged about here, but we contained costs as much as possible by doing as much of the labor as we felt we could, and we unlocked double the living space - a great trade off!

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A room for Baby T

In honor of our baby's due date today, which it appears may pass by uneventfully, I thought it was a good time to share photos from the nursery. This has been a minor effort at our house compared with the big basement remodel we have underway (photos of that soon), but is important nonetheless, and I think turned out pretty cute in the end.

My goal has been to keep it from being too theme-y, so we did a little bit of Dr. Seuss, and a little of the first letter of his name, which will be "L." Other than that, I just tried to stick with primary colors and not go too crazy with any one thing. Here are the details:

Dr. Seuss prints using clip art I found on Google Images and tweaked in Microsoft Publisher. Frames from Target.

"L" Scrabble pillow cover from Nest Home Furnishings on Etsy. There are many options out there for these pillows but I'm glad I found this one - the fabric is kind of burlap-ish which I think is fun. The pouf ottoman was a lucky score from Target's Privet House collection. It's typically sold online-only but I stumbled upon this one in one of the stores - it was a return so 50% off! I wasn't sure if I was sold on it but knew I couldn't beat the price so put it in the space for awhile and it ended up growing on me.

Credit for the stuff in this photo goes to my friend Natalie Boike - I stole the bookshelves ideas from her baby's nursery. They're just IKEA shelves with a ton of books on them but I love how they fill the wall, and in keeping with my Dr. Seuss focus most of the ones on our shelves are by him, with others books tossed in and stored in the bins below. She also helped me figure out the hanging lampshade. Given our space is really limited in this room and there's only one outlet that can be turned on from the wall near the door, we needed to figure out a way to get a light in this corner and she suggested this idea. I ended up going with this yellow shade from Target, and needed to buy one of their cheap hanging paper lanterns to get the right size cord to fit inside the shade and be able to hang it. There are other kits out there to convert a lampshade to hang, including a $5 one from IKEA that I initially tried, but it was too big to fit the shade so I recommend going with something from the same store the lampshade is from - in this case, Target. The bins I'm using for toys and extra books are from Target too.

The "L"s and our changing table.

Couldn't resist doing another fabric-lined tray with Dr. Seuss fabric found on

Here is where I found my L's:
1. I made this one based on something I saw on Etsy. The L is from Hobby Lobby online and I just cut the fabric to fit and Modge Podged over the top of it. The L was originally cardboard looking so I painted it blue before covering the front.
2. and 9. Found on Ebay, but I can't find the link to the specific vendor anymore.
3. From this Etsy shop
4. DIY Anthropologie letters from this post on
5. Alphabet trays from West Elm 
6. From Urban Outfitters
7. From Touch of Europe
8. DIY of this option from Urban Outfitters. I used a smaller version of the cardboard letters used for the Anthropologie letters, painted the sides white, printed a map to fit the front, and modge podged over it all. The fun thing about doing this myself is I was able to customize the map, so it shows our hometown.
10. From Urban Outfitters

Saturday, June 16, 2012

New and improved entryway

We recently took a departure from our do-it-yourself mantra and paid to make some upgrades to our entryway, and I must say, it was worth it. In an ongoing effort to eliminate all the 70s-era decor from our house, we had the wrought-iron railings upgraded to the light wood that we had used in our bathroom remodel and that we'll soon be replacing all our existing woodwork and doors with. We found someone in Lakeville who specializes in railings and stairways and did a great job.

At the same time, we have been in need of extra shoe storage to keep all our shoes from piling up on the entryway floor, so I knew the existing setup needed to become more functional, especially given we'll be adding baby shoes to the mix in a few months.

Here's the "old" entryway, with stuff from the townhouse that we had just used to fill the space when we first moved in:

And here are some photos of the new and improved entryway:

My initial plan had been to build a custom storage bench to perfectly fit the space, but then I found this, which is just 2 inches from filling the space and I have to think costed less than building myself, and is likely better than anything I could have done on my own. I love it! I used my tried-and-true no-sew pillow cover technique to cover some old pillows, using outdoor fabric from Jo-Ann Fabrics. I'm hoping it will hold up better than some other fabrics would given this is such a high-traffic area. Believe it or not, another great thing about this bench is you can lift the lid to dig around inside without having to take the pillows on and off! If that weren't the case, there's no way these pillows would actually get any use.

A close-up of the detail on the railings - adore them!


Friday, April 20, 2012

Bathroom remodel done!

At long last, here are pictures of our completed bathroom remodel! It's actually been done for more than a month but there have been so many other things going on that posting the pictures has continued to fall off my to-do list. Between some work and personal travel, finding out we're having a baby, and just being busier than normal in general, it's been hard to sit down and post. In any case, here are the before and after photos - we're so happy with our new bathroom, and my wonderful husband worked so hard to make it happen, along with some great help from his Dad and our friend, Todd.

Let's start with the best part - the after's:

And, our old bathroom in all its retro glory - cracked sink, bad linoleum, and all:

Sunday, March 11, 2012

No longer MIA

I never thought this would happen to me, but it's been more than a month since my last blog post! We've had a ton going on, from crazy work schedules to a quick long weekend trip to Vegas, but the main thing taking up all of our spare time has been our bathroom remodel. What we thought would be a 2-weekend project is now going into its 5th week, but we are THIS CLOSE to being done. I've been saving back all the pictures for the big reveal post once we're ready for it, which should be in just a couple days.

Troy has been working tirelessly on this project, with some amazing and much appreciated help from friends and family. What's been keeping me busy, then? Trying to do everything else around here so he can stay focused on the bathroom! I can't believe how much laundry, cooking, grocery shopping, etc. we do for just the two of us! Cleaning has been another big thing the past few weeks - I can only stare at a layer of sheetrock dust on everything for so long before I start cleaning up a storm, only to have another layer take its place a couple days later. Needless to say, I haven't been getting any crafts accomplished lately, as all my house-related energy has been going to these "less fun" things. :(

Anyway, until we're ready to share our bathroom with the world, I wanted to follow up to one of my last posts about the client for whom I refinished a dresser. She had gorgeous maternity and nursery photos taken, and they were recently featured on a great Twin Cities-based blog called Somewhere Splendid. I'm so proud my dresser makes up just one little part of this beautiful and unique nursery, and to see it professionally photographed is a thrill, too. Enjoy poking around this blog, it's truly great!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

My own clever idea

I am always in awe of the brilliant ideas I find out on Pinterest, and when I receive compliments on my work, I'm quick to point out I've simply followed someone else's instructions. That's why I'm excited that I've finally come up with my own clever idea - one I haven't seen anywhere else and that I think is easy enough and effective enough that others may really love it too: trays embellished with fabric and glass!

I got the idea after finding this tray at a thrift store on one of my routine furniture hunts - cute in its own way, but not my style and definitely not usable year-round:

So, I painted the tray red and, rather than paint the bottom as I've frequently seen, I decided to buy some coordinating fabric, cut it to fit the bottom, and get a piece of glass cut at Lowe's to sit on top to protect the fabric and recreate a hard surface. (Patterned paper would also work well in place of fabric.)

The red tray measures 14 x 14, and the fabric and glass were each cut to 13.25 x 13.25 and they fit perfectly (thanks to my dear husband for helping me get the measurements right!). The dark wood tray is from the always wonderful West Elm, and measures 12 x 12. Fabric and glass cut to 11.5 x 11.5 fit perfectly in this one.

This project is definitely affordable too - just 1/2 a yard of fabric is plenty, and I find plenty of great options in the clearance and sale racks so it usually costs very little. Each piece of glass ran around $5 at Lowe's. My thrift store tray was $4.99, and the West Elm one was $22 but worth it to me since I've wanted one for so long. Other cheap tray options are available at Jo-Ann Fabrics, which carries them in both the unfinished wood section and in the home decor section.

The sky is the limit on options for these trays, and I think they'd make a great gift too.
In the case of the red tray, it was a fun way to overhaul a thrift store find with potential, and for the dark tray, it was an easy way to customize a mass-produced item and make it coordinate with the other decorations that will go in our bathroom once remodeled.
Speaking of our bathroom, here's a sneak peak at what the wall art will be, also using the chevron fabric - demolition begins on Friday, so stay tuned for updates!