Quick Way to Add Color to Sofia’s Room

Sofia needed a little more color on one side of her room, so I made her a quick colorful pennant to hang on the top of her mirror. It was super easy to do and also pretty cheap. I just got some glitter color card stock from Michael’s, a spool of thin ribbon, and my stapler. I cut the card stock into uniform triangles, folded over the top edge of the triangle to cover the ribbon that I used to hang all the triangles, then I stapled the triangles into place. You can’t even see the staples so I wasn’t going to take the time to bust out the glue gun for this project.

pennant wide angle

Pennants 2In hindsight though, because I hung the pennant on Sofia’s mirror and you can see the reflection of the back of the triangles, I would have made the pennant double sided so that there’s color on both sides… Not going to change it now though :) .


I also broke out the spray paint and painted her out owl lamp to give her a little more color on the right side of her bed. I painted the walls in her room a very neutral color so that I could infuse a lot of color with accessories.


Owl and bed


Sofia's Room Wide Angle

Patching Up Holes in the Kitchen Ceiling

So a while ago we finally hired an electrician to get rid of the school cafeteria fluorescent lights in the kitchen.  I hated them and should have booted them when we first moved in, but better late than never.  I had the electrician install recessed lights and they make the ceiling look taller which is great because we’ve got such low ceilings in this house.

So the kitchen went from this:



To this:

Kitchen Wide Angle


Kitchen Back

Before all this ceiling beautification, I patched the holes that the electrician left behind:

Hiles in Ceiling

and painted the ceiling a nice crisp white.

Painting the ceiling was a piece of cake so long as I used my extension pole, otherwise it was “fill the roller with paint, climb up the ladder, roll the paint, climb down the ladder, move the ladder to next section, and repeat.” With the extension pole, there’s no ladder involved (at least for the rolling part, you still need the ladder to cut in around the edges since I haven’t yet found a brush on a 6 foot pole that can accurately cut in, darn it).  Another value of the extension pole is that you get an awesome arm workout at the same time that you’re DIYing, but at least you are saving your neck and back.

Patching the holes in the ceiling was a little more difficult but doable with the right Youtube video.  I used this one although it was for bigger holes than what I needed so I modified the process (see below).

Basically the steps to patch a 2×3 inch hole (which would be the same size as the holes that electricians cut into your ceiling to install recessed lights) are:

Note: Make sure you are doing this on a sunny day with lots of natural sunlight coming in because you don’t want to turn on your lights next to the repair area.  You can’t see the ceiling well enough with a light source right next to your eyeballs.

1.  Get drywall the same thickness as your ceiling (1/2 inch is standard); a 12 inch trowel; a tub of patching compound powder; a ladder; 100, 300, and 600 grit sandpaper; a utility knife; vacuum with an extension wand; and drywall tape.

2.  If your hole is regularly shaped (as in it’s a square or rectangle), then cut the drywall to the same measurements as the hole.  You can cut it using a utility knife then just snapping the drywall along the cut you made.  You may have to shave your piece down a little to fit in the hole.

3.  If your hole is irregular (like a circle or blob shape) then cut a piece of drywall into a regular shape to cover the entire hole, then put the piece of drywall against the hole and cut out the hole to match your drywall piece.  It’s easier that way.

4.  Pre-measure your pieces of drywall tape on a counter or table since you don’t want to do that on a ladder.  You want the tape to go all around the piece on all sides with as little overlap as possible.

5.  Mix your compound really well and make sure there are no lumps.  I just scooped the powder into a bowl with some water and whisked it with a plastic fork.  Make sure your compound is the thickness of pudding.  Also, make sure you work fast because it dries in about 6-8 minutes.  Use only what you need because once it dries, you can’t add more water to re-use it.

6.  Stick the piece of drywall into the hole and tape the piece into place.  Using your trowel, smear compound over the hole and extend the compound 5-6 inches outside the tape.   Try to only cover the tape on all sides and don’t worry about the middle of the patch; you’ll get the middle on the second pass.  Also go thinner with the compound along the edges of the area so that they can more easily blend in with the rest of the ceiling (this is called feathering).  Throw away any unused compound.  Let the area dry for 30 minutes.

7.  Sand any areas along the outside edge that are too high and not flush with the rest of the ceiling using 100 grit sandpaper.  I use the vacuum to suck up as much dust as possible because it gets really dusty.

8.  Make another pass with the compound making sure to cover the middle of the area this time in addition to feathering it out over the edge of the area.  Let this dry.

9.  Sand any rough areas again using 300 grit sandpaper, then 600 grit sandpaper, then make one more pass of the joint compound if necessary.  Make sure to feather the edges of the area to blend seamlessly into the rest of the ceiling.  Repeat the sanding if you had to make one more pass.

10.  After the final sanding, dust off the area with a dry cloth then paint.

The whole process took me a couple days although you could finish it in a day since the compound dries really quickly.

Here is the finished product:

Kitchen Ceiling Left

You can’t even see the patch unless you’re a couple inches from the spot…  Not too bad if I say so myself :) .

More Light in the Family Room

I’ve been eyeing an arc lamp for the family room but just didn’t want to pony up the cash for a nice one (they can run upwards of $500), but when I found one on West Elm and they emailed me a coupon for 15%, I pulled the trigger.

And how did I get the coupon, you ask?  I was told that with some stores, if you add items to your cart and just let them sit, then the store will email you a coupon as an incentive to buy.  And that’s what I did.  My item sat for about a week in my cart, then I got a coupon.  Woo Hoo!

arc lamp

I’m glad I bought it because not only does it look so much nicer than the brown/black toned lamp we had before, but it provides so much more light than the old lamp.  Because there’s a covered porch attached to the house, then the only window light in the family room is blocked by the porch.  We have one measly little skylight but that doesn’t produce much light either (and to add another skylight would cost about $1,000… ouch!).

Family Room

I also bought a mirror from One Kings Lane a while ago and thought it’d look perfect behind the lamp so that’s where it went.

Mirror and Lamp

I still need to get a chair for the other side of the fireplace but I’m having such a hard time deciding on whether it should be a neutral color like a lighter gray or a crazy accent color like coral.

Need a chair!

I’ve moved on to the kitchen to patch up the holes in the ceiling from the electrician taking down the fluorescent lights and putting up recessed lights and I’ll post a little tutorial on that soon.


Trajan’s Room- Inches from GOAL!

Trajan’s room is progressing.  As much as I’d like to say, “Stick a fork in it, it’s DONE!” I can’t because I’ve still got a few more things to knock off the to-do list.  I did cross off a few items on the list though, hence the “progress.”

Fathead for wall near bed

Wire shelving for above bed

Paint door and window frame white (still need to do)

Install a hanging chair near closet (still need to do)

Of course, I’ve saved the things that are the most time consuming for the end (can we say “procrastination?”).

Trajan's Room FinalThe fathead is up and of course Trajan wanted a Ravens player and who best to be up on your wall than Ray Lewis?  Although, I personally wouldn’t want to wake up with him yelling next to my head every morning, but that’s me.

Trajan also wanted a hat rack since he’s really into hats at the moment so I came up with this:

Trajan hat rackIt’s just a football sign that I found at Hobby Lobby for like $20 or so and I got the wood rack part from Target for about $15.  Put them next to each other and, viola, we’ve got a customized football hat rack.  It’s not fancy, but Trajan really likes it and it’s functional.

Lastly, since I have a PB credit card and spent way too much money on Trajan’s room at PBTeen, I got a rewards certificate that I spent on a wire rack for above Trajan’s bed (it was freeeeeee with my certificate, but it’s normally $100).  His bed doesn’t have a headboard but I wanted something other than more pictures/artwork and although he’s got plenty of storage in here now with his storage bed, more never hurts!

Trajan Book RackThe letter “T” has been in his room since he was a toddler so that had to stay.  I got that from PB Kids a while back.

Next on the list is putting up that hanging chair near his window and I have to make sure it’s sturdy enough to hold at least two wrestling boys without falling.  I got the chair from IKEA and am thinking of dying it red or green since it’s currently a whitish color because with two boys, it won’t stay white for long.  Hopefully I can get that done this weekend!

Ikea hanging chair


Mid-Century Dresser in Living Room

Ever since re-decorating the living room, the media cabinet was always supposed to be temporary.  Thomas got his big honkin’ TV and we needed a media cabinet for under the TV and I couldn’t find ANYTHING that looked nice and was reasonably priced so we went with good old IKEA.  It actually wasn’t bad as a placeholder until I found something else, but I really didn’t like the fact that all the cubbies were open and exposed our clutter.  I want our clutter hidden, then I can pretend it doesn’t exist.  :)

Unfortunately I only have one really bad picture of the media cabinet and here it is:

Family Room Redo

This picture was taken before we replaced the carpet with hardwoods, replaced the couch, got rid of those two tables, etc. but you can see that the cabinet was just cubbies.

I wanted something mid-century to replace the cabinet and found a few on Craigslist that I liked and decided on this one for a whopping $285.

Mid Century from Left


MidCentury Dresser with couch


The dresser’s not perfect… It is 50+ years old and I might refinish it down the road.

MId Century Legs


You can see a few nicks in the above picture, but unless you’re up close, they’re not (that) noticeable.

I’ve seen some people do a two-tone dresser turn media cabinet like these:

Walnut-white mid century dresser WD 2

<The Weathered Door>

3 tone vintageground.blogspot.com<Vintageground.blogspot.com>

Two tone royaledesignstudio.com<RoyalDesignStudio.com>

Because I have so much white in my family room as it is (and I like simple), I thought I’d keep the cabinet the same color but I might retrofit the cabinet so that it looks more like a media cabinet and less like a dresser, like this one:

media cabinet savvydesignwest.com


In the meantime, I’ve ordered a mirror for the wall that’s waiting to be hung and a lamp.  Next on the list is completing Trajan’s room which is almost done.

Trajan’s Football Room

My eleven year old son, Trajan, is such a sweet kid.  If I come back from the grocery store, he immediately helps me unload the car and put away the groceries without being asked.  If I’m even starting to get grumpy, he asks me what’s wrong and tries to kick me out of my bad mood.  When Butterball was hit by a car a month ago, he saw the whole thing, but wouldn’t tell anyone in the family what he saw because he didn’t want us to feel even sadder than we already felt.  He wanted to shelter us from that because that’s the kind of person he is.

In short, if anyone deserves to have a cool room to chill in, it’s this kid, especially with what he’s been through lately.  He wanted a lot of input in the room so I told him how to put together a Pinterest board and he gathered a bunch of ideas for his board so I had a clear idea of what he wanted.

His room started like this:

Trajan old

Trajan wanted a football themed room and we found the bedspread and football mural from PBTeen.  The bedspread was the jumping off point for the wall color.  I got about 6 samples from Benjamin Moore of mostly grays but also some blues and gave Trajan the choice.

I learned with decorating Sofia’s room that it’s best for them to come up with the “theme” of the room then to give them pre-approved (by me of course!) choices based on their “vision.”  At first Trajan wanted a different color on each wall- blue, red, orange, and black- and he wanted those colors to be NEON (except for the black, although that would be a neat trick!).  After I told him that his bedroom is supposed to be a place where he goes to relax and get away from the craziness of his family (except for me who he wants to hang out with 24/7 since I’m so cool), he agreed that having a more mellow wall color was best.  So, Trajan picked a nice medium gray tone for his walls and it looks great!

Trajan room view

I scored a side table from Target clearance and paid $15 for it.  It ties in so well with the locker platform bed which is also from PBTeen.

Ttrajan lamp

The lamp is from IKEA and that was one of the things that Trajan said had to stay.  I really wanted my childhood gum ball machine to stay so it did:

Trajan candy jar

Trajan dresser

We got rid of Trajan’s short dresser since it was falling apart and because of that, we needed storage so the bed we got is perfect.  It’s a platform storage bed with bins that resemble lockers that are tucked under the bed on three sides.  It provides a crazy amount of storage.

Trajan locker 2

Trajan picked out this rug also from PBTeen that is navy, and shaggy, and so BOY!

Trajan rug

And here is the wall mural that Trajan picked out:

Trajan football mural

There’s still some things that need to be done to the room for it to really be finished:

Fathead for wall near bed

Wire shelving for above bed

Paint door and window frame white (the paint is chipped currently)

Install a hanging egg chair near closet (this should be pretty involved since I have to add a brace to the ceiling for it to be super sturdy)

Stay tuned!


Leather Desk Panel Replacement



Tackling replacing our leather desk inserts was the biggest pain in my arse, especially since there were no good (*realistic*) tutorials out there.  All the tutorials made it look so easy when really it was a project that took a lot of swearing time.  So here is what it looked like before I dove in:

Desk Before

As you can see the leather was rubbed off in places and it was tacky (i.e. sticky) so that when I put a piece of paper on the desk and left it there for more than a few minutes, pieces of the paper would stick to the desk when I tried to lift the paper off.  That nuisance alone made the desk completely unusable.  The leather was also pitted and bumpy in places so we couldn’t write on the desk without looking like we had doctor handwriting.   I really wanted to salvage the desk since we have the matching filing cabinet and both pieces are really nice.  We got them off of Craigslist for a steal but I didn’t know if I’d be able to find another desk that was as nice as this one for the price let alone a desk and cabinet combo set.

And here’s what it looks like after replacing the panels:

The panels are now shiny and pretty and black and fitting for the one of the first rooms you come to when you walk in my house.

New desktop panel

I knew it would be a big project, so the first thing I did was to call around to find out how much it would cost to get it professionally done since this one seemed over my head, but everyone I called said they didn’t do that kind of work.  So, I had no choice but to do it myself.  I found a youtube video that got me started: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQDSUQcnOv0

The video was a good jumping off point, but it was really a lot harder than the video made it look mostly because the leather was a lot thicker than I initially thought.  

You can see the thickness here:

leather thicknessI wanted to replace the panels with leather, but after researching and finding out the panels are about $300-$400, I went with imitation leather that looked like leather for about $50 total.   I love the results especially since you can’t even tell that it’s vinyl (although I put a big piece of glass over the top of the whole desk so that helps).

Okay, now to the nitty gritty of replacing the leather:

First I stripped the old leather.  To strip the leather, you’ll need a sponge, water, a scraper, and an Exacto knife or razor blade.  Let me tell you right off the bat that if you can lift or unscrew the panels from the desk, DO THAT!  I didn’t know until I was done with the first panel that they could be unscrewed from the desk and that made my life so much easier.  If the panels don’t come off, then it will be hard to impossible to strip the leather from the sides of the panels which makes it impossible to tuck the new leather/vinyl in between the panels and desk. 

The process of stripping the leather is fairly easy, just super time consuming.  Start by scoring the leather with a razor blade and go deep.  Leather is a lot thicker and tougher than it looks.  Then get the area damp so that the leather is softer to cut into strips.  By scoring the leather first, you allow the water to seek into the leather rather than just sitting on top of the leather.

When the water has soaked into the leather, cut the leather into strips and start pulling the leather off the ply board that it is attached to.  The leather should be glued and stapled to the ply board so it might take a while to pull the leather off.  Continue getting the leather damp since that helps. Also get all the staples out using a flat head screw driver.

After all the old leather is gone, and the ply board underneath is dry, sand the ply board.  You might have to use wood filler if some of the ply board came up.  Just apply and sand down the wood filler after it dries.  By the time I was done, the ply board was still rough to the touch but not bumpy.  The vinyl that I used had a spongy backing so I knew that I didn’t have to get the surface perfectly smooth.

After the ply board is not rough anymore, cut the vinyl to the same size as the boards with about an inch on all sides for stapling.  I used a liquid glue for applying laminate to countertops to glue down the vinyl.  It worked great!  After applying the glue and smoothing down the vinyl, you need to staple the vinyl all around the board with a heavy duty stapler and make sure that you either staple on the sides or the underside depending on where the last staples were.  Mine were on the underside.

Then you just pop the panels back into your desk and screw them in again and you’re done!

As I mentioned, I put a piece of glass on top of my desk because I’m not sure how vinyl will hold up to constant writing and I’m not replacing the vinyl again any time soon.

This was one of those projects that was necessary but soooooo…. boring, but by the time I was done, I was really happy with the results.  The only thing I miss is the gold leafing around the panels which I guess I could figure out how to do, but honestly, I’m so glad that the project is done and looks this great, that I don’t want to push my luck!

Here’s the beautiful after:

Whole desk

Now on a non-boring note, we got a new puppy and he’s so cute!  Meet Billy:


We got him after our sweetie dog Butterball died.  It was a really hard time for our family especially since our other dog, Bandit, missed his brother so much.  It’s always hard finding the best time to get a new dog after the death of a dog that you loved so much, but all of us really needed another little friend to help us heal.

Billy is a puggle (just like Butter and Bandit) and loves to chew any and everything including my camera strap when I’m trying to take pictures for my blog!  We’ve had him for a couple weeks and he’s so sweet and Bandit is now playing with him and grooming him.  It’s so nice to see Bandit (and the rest of the family) happy again!

I’m Back!

Ever since the school year started and the kids have gone back to school, I’ve been working. I’m lucky because I only work while the kids are at school, but when they get home, it’s snack time, homework time, soccer time, cleaning time, piano time… everything but blog time.  But, I’ve decided to start my New Year’s resolution early and start blogging consistently again. I don’t know how consistently, but more than once every 3 months!  I love documenting the progress of my house… it gives me motivation to look at the “after” pictures and think, “yeah, that room now looks like us!”

Since September, I am now so close to finishing the living room, I can taste it! The only things that needed to be done at last check in was to get an area rug (done!), get a side chair (done!), and put up a few more things on the walls (done!). Really the only thing not done is to get a pillow to put on the new side chair… that’s like nothing!

First up, the rug… I got this beauty from Joss and Main although they did have the same rug at RugsUSA.com if you’re looking for it. I wanted something light and since this room doesn’t see a lot of traffic, I don’t have to worry about getting dirt all over the rug. I also wanted some contrast with the dark floors and I wanted something classic (no large graphic prints). This rug fit the bill beautifully! It’s also super soft to walk on as a little bonus.

rug 2


white rug

Next up is the chair that I got from Home Goods. Normally I go to Home Goods and look at the furniture and think, “that’s a great piece, if only I had a place to put it.” This chair was just the perfect shade of brown to compliment the couch and print gave it some visual interest. I didn’t want something solid colored since the two blue side chairs and the couch was already solid colored. Honestly, the chair is not that comfortable to sit in, but hardly anyone sits in it anyway. Only when we have a lot of people over, does it get any use.

arm chair

Next is the mirrors next to the chair. I got these on clearance from Target and as much as I didn’t want even more mirrors in the living room (I have 4 already), I didn’t want to put up a print that competed with the kids’ portraits above the piano. Shelves also didn’t make sense since the space was so small, so mirrors it is!


Guest Bathroom: DONE!

After way too long… I finally got around to spackling and painting the bathroom.  It’s so nice to see the room done, if only to know that I can move on to the next project!

Bathroom wide view


In addition to painting, I also installed a shelf above the toilet since now that we have a pedestal sink, there’s NO storage at all in there.  It’s so hard to add personality to a guest bathroom so it’s also a nice place to style some wood birds and air freshener, not to mention extra hand towels.



From Target

Bathroom Shelf detail 1



I’d like to add some simple artwork on one wall, and I went to Home Goods hoping to find some, but walked away with an accent chair for the living room instead (more on that when I get a side table, pillow, cuddle blanket, etc. for the chair).


One thing that I didn’t want to add but saw no choice was a toilet paper holder to hold extra rolls of TP.  I don’t know why I think those are so tacky looking, but I do, and since I couldn’t find one that was a closed container kind that I liked, I went all out on the tacky factor and got one where the TP rolls are exposed, GASP!  Oh well, at least I can see when I need to re-stock.


Bathroom TP holder


We love the dramatic blue walls with the white trim of the baseboards.  It looks muy elegante (said in Spanish)!  I’d love to also add the marble subway tile that I mentioned in an earlier post, but since this room looks so good especially compared to other rooms, it’s time to move on for now.  Next on the list is to tackle the worn out and ripped leather inserts on our office desk.  I don’t have a clue on how to replace those, so this next project should be a doozie!

Fall Mantle

It’s starting to turn cool here in Maryland which means that Fall decorating can commence!  I love decorating for Fall- the pumpkins, the gourds, the wreaths….  First on my list is always to decorate the mantle.  As in previous years, I headed to the farmer’s market to get some pumpkins and gourds -white pumpkins are my favorite to decorate with and I picked up two of those, two medium-sized bright orange pumpkins, and two light orange mini pumpkins and set out to arranging.  Before I show you the Fall arrangement, let’s say “so long” to the summer time mantle:

 Summer mantle

And “hello” the Fall mantle:

Fall Mantle

Left Side:

Fall Fireplace Left

Right Side:

Fall Fireplace right

Other than mixing in some pumpkins, I also stuck some sticks in the two brass colored pumpkins that I already had sitting on the mantle and viola!, from Summer to Fall.  I know that the art that I have in the middle of the mantel is very summery… but, I’m not changing that out mostly because I love the art and also because I have nothing to take its place!  Besides, I kind of like how the blues and the oranges look together with the brassy accents.  Almost like when I bought the art, I thought, “Hey, I”ll throw in some orange and it will totally work for Fall too!”  At least that’s what I’m telling myself. :)