Alex's Big Boy Room Reveal!

And finally, we're done with Alex's room...at least for now!  There are still some things I want to do and furniture I want to paint but the room is done and totally functional. I love it.

It's such a sunny and pleasant room for my sweet little guy to grow up in.  I find myself intentionally walking by the room to peek in and see how nice it looks. It's even better than I ever imagined. He absolutely loves playing in there which he rarely ever did before in his nursery.  I attribute most of this to the sunshine and just general pleasantness of this room.

The good news is that we spent only a minimal amount of money on furniture for him, so most of the investment in this room was the closet.  First, the bed was a hand-me-down from my grandparents via my parents. It was used as a guest room bed in both of their houses so it was pretty rarely ever used. It has a twin which is currently residing in my attic but we could use it down the road if Alex wants a second bed for sleepovers, etc.  Right now he enjoys the floor space for playing!

The dresser was the same one from his nursery. It still needs some work which will happen eventually but I'm not in a rush. I purchased it on Craigslist for $75 a few years ago. The top was unfinished when we bought so we finished that to match the rest but handles really need an update!  The nightstand was purchased from Goodwill for $15. That also needs work which might happen before the dresser!

The white cabinet at the foot of his bed was from my grandparents as well. It had legs at one point but they are long gone (and ugly according to my mom!).  It might get a coat of paint at some point. The bookshelf was also from my grandparents' house. It's really narrow and not very deep so fit perfectly in that space.

The red leather chair was my grandfather's favorite chair.  Whenever I sit in it, I think about him and how much he would have loved being with our kids.

Finally, the rug is from Land of Nod, and I absolutely love it.

It was the only major purchase but I was able to get free shipping so it was about $279 for the 5x8. Not cheap but it's a great quality rug. I almost purchased this rug from Pottery Barn Kids but in the end decided I wanted something more fun and that didn't shed like the PBK rug supposedly does (thank goodness for reviews).  This was without a doubt the right choice. The Land of Nod rug has a great pale gray-blue edge and background which coordinates really nicely with the wall color.  I never expected that one of my favorite parts of the room would be the rug! Of course it was the final piece of the puzzle.

Of course I think the board and batten molding is one of my favorite parts.  Handy Hubby did a great job implementing my vision as always!

Let's look at another before and after because I cannot resist...

As our guest room in 2011...

Our guest room in 2007...

Previous owner's guest room in 2002...

And now today...

You've come a long way, little room!

I'll be back tomorrow with a source list for the smaller stuff.  Let me know if there's anything you would like to know more about!

Linking to Evolution of Style, Funky Junk Interiors, Remodelaholic, At The Picket Fence, Tatertots & Jello, Thrifty Decor Chick, Shabby Nest, A Bowl Full of Lemons, My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia, Evolution of Style


Alex's Room: Closet

The first step in getting Alex's new room ready was getting the closet organized. I plan to keep some clothes in there as well as all of the other stuff that comes with kids. Fortunately his closet is huge compared with our original closets pre-renovation. Unfortunately it looked like this when I started the organization process.

Starting a project like this makes me giddy. I love organizing disaster zones. Must be a genetic thing because my dad also really enjoys organizing things.

I started by clearing out the closet.  Fortunately the basics are there - an Elfa closet system which we have used in every closet in our house. I adore these systems and the Container Store people who are there to help me with it. This is not a paid promotion - I just love them.

I knew I wanted to try the Elfa drawers. They are expensive but worth it. Fortunately I hit the semi-annual Elfa sale so everything was 30% off (it's still going on I think). Still expensive but hopefully this closet will work for him for many many years to come. We also keep a stash of leftover Elfa stuff in our attic which we used in our pre-renovation closets. Some of the stuff I have already reused but other stuff is still hanging out up there. Fortunately I found a shorter hanging bar and some hooks, but the shelves weren't the right size (although the Container Store will cut them if you ask really nicely). I have other things in mind for the extra shelves though.

I forgot to take a picture of the closet empty but it was so pretty.

I filled it up with Alex's stuff (which was in his room). Most of the stuff in the closet pictured above was moved to the guest room although the furniture was used in Alex's room.  That one doesn't look so hot now so that will certainly be the next project!

Here's the new and improved closet.

The Elfa drawers are awesome - they slide so easily and hold a ton - 2 are practically empty!  I decided to reuse his dresser but it only has 3 drawers so the extra space will come in handy as he grows. Right now we keep socks, pajamas and sweatshirts in there. This summer I'm sure we'll add bathing suits and hopefully UNDERWEAR!

Are you doing any closet organizing this week?!


Alex's Room: New Light

The light in Alex's new room was completely fine and I actually really still like it but it wasn't going to work in his room. It was slightly feminine, and I found a new home for it (of course). More on that later.

Handy Hubby worked some electrical magic and took down the old one and put in the new one.

Here's the after. The light is actually an exterior light from Seagull Lighting. It's a great fixture but I wish it was a tiny bit larger. I can definitely live with it though because I love the style. 

I still cannot believe this was our dowdy underused guest room!  More to come!!


Alex's Room: Paint!

Next up in Alex's big boy room makeover was paint. We finished the board and batten molding (I can hear Handy Hubby as he reads this... "We?"... yeah, yeah, yeah). Ok. Handy Hubby finished the molding and then it was time to paint.  From the get go, I wanted the top to be a dark gray with a slight blue tone. I'm going with classic blue and red but wanted something a little more sophisticated on the walls.  I literally walked into our local Sherwin Williams store, grabbed a couple of paint samples and chose one in about 10 minutes. This is a tactic I use often and it works out for me about 80% of the time. Since I knew we only need a gallon of paint this time, I wasn't worried about making a bad investment.  The final choice was Serious Gray by Sherwin Williams mixed in HGTV paint which has no VOCs (sold at Sherwin Williams stores).

After some calking thanks to 80 year old wanky walls, we dug in first with the lower half - Tocque White by Duron mixed in Sherwin Williams Harmony paint (barely grayish white which we have used on all of our trim throughout the house).  Once that was done, it cured while we went away for Christmas week, then we taped off the top rail and painted the top half Serious Gray. Here's the result...

Honestly, I adore the whole room and can't wait to show you the final!  Here's a close-up of the molding under the window casing. Handy Hubby just made a slightly rounded edge so that it blended a bit more with the casing.

We considered replacing the casing but did not want to open a huge can of worms. We also installed new cordless cellular shades from Lowes on the windows. Additional window covers to come (yet to be determined what form they'll take!) but these are a great base especially for kids because they are easy to operate and filter the light nicely.

In case you needed a reminder, here's where we started...

Kind of hard to believe it's the same room!


Old To Do Lists

I found this old list in the back of a drawer in our family room. We made this list when we moved back into the house, or just before we moved in, after renovating in 2008.


You can see how we prioritized a few things (those with numbers on the left side), and we even finished a few things before putting the list in the drawer. 2 years later, there are only 2 unfinished projects - the rain barrel and the enclosures around the A/C units. I have good reasons for both. I have not found the perfect spot for a rain barrel yet. I have some ideas but nothing has jumped out as the perfect option. We haven't enclosed the A/C units because I am not happy with the newer unit we have. It's really loud and I have debated replacing it so that we aren't interrupted eating dinner on the porch. I wish I had paid closer attention to the HVAC decisions I made during the renovation but I think this fell through the cracks around the time I gave birth to Alex which took me out of the work zone for four or five days.  It can be fixed but it's going to cost some $$$. I'm going to decide this spring whether I can live with it or not and then finish the enclosure project. 

Still, I think Handy Hubby did a fantastic job knocking off all of these projects. Most were completed within a year which I think is great!!

I love finding notes like this which really take me back in time and remind me what we were thinking about at that point and what our priorities were.

Happy Monday (not).


Our DIY Stove Hood

I've received a lot of questions about our stove hood in the past few years so I thought I should recap how we came to have this beauty.  It's completely awesome.  And it's also a DIY project.  Unfortunately, we did this before I started writing the blog so I didn't take very many step by step pictures (or really any), so you'll get a brief explanation and no pictures. 

When we were planning our kitchen, every kitchen I loved had a built-in stove hood. I love the stainless look but I have never loved big stainless stove hoods in modestly sized kitchens. I really prefer the wood look which coordinates with the cabinets although I don't think matching exactly is necessarily. Of course when I priced out the built-in options they were generally well over $1000 (not including the venting insert) and none of them fit our needs exactly, so we decided to build it. Well, Handy Hubby would build it and I would occasionally hold pieces and provide moral support!

We started with a Fujioh stove hood insert (around $250). We chose it because of it's good ratings, strong air pull, and it is relatively quiet on the low setting.  The hood came with some specs on how far it should be from the stove (at least 24") and some other specs for installation. 

I drew a quick sketch of the design I wanted and Handy Hubby went to work. The base part where the fan inserts, was relatively easy - basic a high grade plywood box.  The same thing for the top piece below the ceiling. The challenge came with the angles on the top. There was a lot of trial and error and maybe a little cursing until the angles were just right.

Our contractor who built our addition came and helped out with the installation including punching the hole through the outside wall for the vent. It was painted using color-matched semi-gloss paint from Benjamin Moore.  The final result is pretty fantastic we think! 


Guest Bath: Framing a Bathroom Mirror

We did a little project in the midst of working on Alex's new room. The mirror in our basement guest bathroom has bugged me since we did it. Because of the sconces, my only choice was to do a standard plain mirror with cut-outs.

The plain mirror really did not fit the cottage/beach flavor we had going on in here. I had always planned to frame the mirror out but we only just got around to it 2 years later.

We got the trim molding from our neighbors, Meg and Jeff, who didn't have a place to store it so they gave it to us. I think they saw this as a challenge to see how we'll use it!  Anyway, this hand-me-down molding, made this a no cost project for us so I am very thankful to them! 

We did not have a good method of installing the molding other than glue since there was not enough wall to nail it to. We held up the molding and were disappointed that you could see the back of the wood which was unfinished. We quickly decided to spray paint the back of the molding which made the reflection less obvious when it was attached.  We put the construction adhesive on the outermost edge of the mirror so it would not be visible in the mirror. 

We then held the mirror in place for a minute or two, then used painters' tape to hold it for a day or two thereafter. Fortunately the molding was lightweight so it didn't take much to hold it in place.

A little wood filler and paint to match the trim, and voila!

It's now hard to remember what it looked like without the frame.  You can also see a little of my DIY art in this picture. I'll give a little how to in a future post, if I can find the pictures I took of the process!


Alex's Room Progress

Happy New Year!  I feel like I am finally getting a handle on the various messes in our house. The combination of multiple projects and Christmas chaos was almost more than I could handle.

We've made a lot of progress in Alex's room over the past few weeks. I am so happy with how it's coming out! (For more about why we're making this change, read this post.)

Project #1 was installing the board and batten molding on the bottom half of the room.

Here's the blank slate we're working with. It's our former guest room and I never loved the color. Very blah.

Paint: SW Grassland
First Handy Hubby installed 1x4 pre-primed pine as the top rail.

Next Handy Hubby ripped out the top piece of our baseboard. Our baseboard is made of 2 separate pieces - a piece of flat stock and then a piece of curved molding on the top. Handy Hubby removed the top piece so we were left with the simple flat bottom piece. We chose to do this so the upright rails would not butt into the bottom piece oddly.

Of course ripping out a piece of 70 year old molding created a bit of a mess which required several coats of mud and patching. The large hole above was patched using a short piece of molding which squared off the corner.  Handy Hubby did a couple of coats of spackle and sanding which delayed things for a few days.

Next he planned out the rails by centering a rail in the only uninterrupted wall (the other 3 walls have windows and the door and closet).  He then measured 12" between each piece all the way around the room.

Next Handy Hubby started installing the vertical pieces. Of course, nothing in our 70 year old house is level or even so each piece had to be separately cut to size.

Here they are "dry-fitted" before nailing them (and before patching the walls below). He highly recommends this method in case you have to tweak the placement.

Next up, lots and lots of caulking!


Super Easy Holiday Cookie Bags

I had to share this insanely easy holiday cookie bag which I originally found on Pinterest.  I was looking for a new way to share homemade treats with our neighbors and friends.

I ran paper lunch bags through my printer. That sounds easier than it looks because my printer was not happy about feeding the paper bags and some of them got smudged. I hope to perfect the technique by next Christmas!  I won't show you my "baked goods" since they are nothing to really write home about and although they qualify as homemade they do not really qualify as baking despite some use of the oven!  I made pretzels with melted Rolos and M&Ms on top, magic bars, and white trash Chex mix.

Merry Christmas from our family to yours!

I'll be back in the new year!


Holiday House Tour

With Christmas only a few days away, I thought I should share a few more bits of our Christmas decor before everyone runs off to be merry and bright this weekend!  I finally got everything cleaned up and put away before hosting a small holiday brunch for a few friends on Sunday morning.  It's so nice to fuel up on wonderful friend power before the holidays!

The front of the house is still sporting the same tired greenery we've used for the past 8 years. Honestly, I'm pretty tired of it and really need to change things up next year. Hoping to score some good stuff on the post Christmas sales if I get a few minutes to run out and shop with my mom on Monday or Tuesday next week. Not sure exactly what I need but something would be good.

Inside, the living room has some pretty basic decor including our second mantel decorated in more monochromatic tones than the family room mantel

I decorated the console table with our kids' advent calendar and a couple of stained glass lanterns purchased at an outlet store about 10 years ago.  Next year I'm going to decorate the mirror somehow.

Next up the dining room which is sporting red and gold everywhere. The balls hanging from the chandelier are plastic from the dollar store last year.

I like the addition of the wreath on the mirror over the buffet. I had the great vine wreath, floral picks, and ribbon in the attic and ready to go. Zero dollars.

Finally, I added one of my fake amaryllis to the liquor cabinet. My 5 year old added the baubles on top of the lidded glass container and I didn't realize it until I just saw this picture!

In the eating area in the kitchen, I used the same reindeer ornaments (dollar store) and greenery on the chandelier. The "BELIEVE" sign over the doors was from HomeGoods after Christmas 2 years ago. The fabric placemats are from April Cornell (I think) and the round placemats were a really cute Target find - they count down the days until Christmas.

Back to the family room the tree and mantel are still my favorite parts of the house.

4 more days until Christmas! Are you panicked?!  I am 99% ready as far as shopping, packing, etc. Don't hate me because this almost never happens!


Gingerbread House Building Tutorial

Yesterday, I posted all about my neighbor Meghan's gingerbread party for 4 and 5 year old kids. (Read that post here). A great time was had by all in part because of Meghan's hard work in advance of the party. They key to making this party work for younger kids is to let them get to the decorating as quickly as possible. For kids who are 7 or 8 (and very patient), building might not be a problem if you have everything cut and ready to go.  So, here's how it goes...

Make the dough using the recipe in the Joy of Cooking. Roll out the dough and cut out the front, back, roof, and sides.  

Next, bake the pieces according to the recipe directions.

Next cover a pint container with foil.

Next, mix up a batch or two (depending on how many houses you're making) of Royal Icing (recipe here) and spread on each piece.

Then attach each to the sides of the pint container.

Finally fill in the crevices with Royal Icing.

Gather your candy and get ready to decorate!!

Aren't they adorable?!! Great job to Meghan (and Jeff) on all of your hard work!! And thanks for taking these awesome pictures of the process!

Happy Holidays!!