Changed my Mind! Closet Rehab

In my last post, I thought it would be a good idea to remove our closet that blocks the flow of one of our main thoroughfares.  However, after thinking about the fact that the flooring might look choppy since we’d have new flooring right next to the old, we decided to keep the closet for now.  We’ll remove it when we renovate the entire kitchen since we plan on expanding the kitchen into the space where the closet currently resides.

Because the kitchen renovation is a ways away, I thought I’d at least try to make the closet more functional for now.  The closet had one high shelf with a coat rack.  We have a coat closet at the front of the house already so another one didn’t really make sense especially since we needed more practical storage.  Also, the shelf was so high that for us shorties (that would include my entire family), we’d have to get the step stool to reach the shelf or risk things falling on our heads.  The closet also had the last vestiges of the ugly mustard color that poisoned the entire first floor when we moved in.

Here’s the nasty flashback:Full Living RoomTry not to cringe at all the ugliness!

I have a lot of wood in my shed left over from the treehouse we built a couple years ago, so the only thing I needed to buy for the shelves was caulk and a few smooth trim pieces for the front of the shelves.

Here’s the before:

Old Closet


And the after:

Finished Dresser

To make the shelves, I found this video particularly useful.

I’ll just touch on the basics since the video does a good job of explaining how to install the shelves.

1.  First I painted the closet the same blue color as I used in the kids’ bathroom (Palladian Blue by Benjamin Moore).

2.  Measure and cut your ledgers.  The ledgers are what hold up the shelves and should be the same length from the back to the front of the closet as your shelves.


That’s me measuring.  🙂  I try to put any pic I can of me in these posts since I rarely have any!

LedgersThese are the ledgers.  I marked the studs first to make sure I drilled into them.  I also made sure to use a level so that the ledgers wouldn’t be all wonky.  I sunk the screws below the surface of the wood so that I could dab wood putty on the holes later and paint over them.  I also put one coat of paint on the ledgers before they were installed so I wouldn’t have to paint as much when they were on the wall.  Also, don’t worry about any gaps in the corners because they will be covered with caulk.

3.  Cut the plywood to fit on the ledgers using a circular or table saw (I used a circular).  I made sure that the plywood was as long as the ledgers so that I could nail trim pieces along the entire front of the shelves.  I cut the shelves a little shorter than the width of the closet so that they could easily slide in but still sit comfortably on the ledgers (the video explains this pretty well).

4.  I cut trim pieces for the front of the shelves to make the finished product more polished and nailed them in place.  I also caulked all the ledgers and plywood pieces to the wall to make them look more “built in.”

Ledger Caulk

caulk v. no caulk

5.  Get some baskets and organize because you’re done!

Top ClosetAll baskets are from Tar-jay.  All our dog paraphernalia, reusable grocery bags, and cleaning supplies are now neatly corralled.

This was a fairly easy project that was definitely budget friendly since I had most of the materials already.  Now, things are at a good height and instead of just one high shelf, we have three shelves for more of our crapola.

Next on the list is tackling the master bedroom.  Painting is first!  I LOVE painting!  Not really.

Tutorial on How to Display Kids’ Medals

Tuscan has racked up a lot of medals with swimming, running, and soccer and he wanted them displayed in his room somehow.  Previously, they just kind of hung from random spots… off door knobs, off trophies, off his bedposts, but I wanted to show them off in a way that he didn’t have to hunt all over his room for them.  So, while rummaging through Home Goods a few weeks ago, I picked up a couple of display boxes that I’ve seen at lots of places (Michaels, Hobby Lobby, thrift stores to name a few) thinking at the time that I could some SOMETHING with them, but I didn’t know what exactly.

Display Box

So they sat in my basement storage for a few months then as I was thinking about re-doing Tuscan’s room, it hit me that the cubbies were the perfect size to display medals.  So, out of storage they came and after thinking of the best way to rig the medals for maximum viewage (that’s now a word 🙂 ), here’s what I came up with:

You need:

  • Wooden dowels
  • A glue gun
  • Command Strips
  • A display box
  • Scissors
  • Medals!
  • Something to cut the dowel into pieces (I used my miter saw)

Medal Project Supplies Collage

First, I measured about how long I would need my dowel pieces to be by just placing a medal in one of the cubbies and measuring where I wanted the medal to eventually lie. I recycled an old drying rack by using the dowels from the rack which is why my dowels look a little rough but they’ll be hidden from view so ugly doesn’t matter.  If you don’t have an old drying rack just lying around waiting to be upcycled, Home Depot or Lowe’s has dowels and if don’t have a miter saw, they can cut the dowel into pieces for you if you have the measurements beforehand.

After cutting all the dowel pieces, I cut a velcro Command Strip into little squares, then put them together, velcro side together, and stuck one side to the medal and one side to the dowel.  I used Command Strips because I didn’t want to damage the medals with glue and the Command Strips just peel right off if and when I take the medals out of the cubbies.  I also thought that if Tuscan wanted to change out the medals, he could just pull apart the velcro from the dowel and medal, stick another velcro square on the new medal, and stick it back onto the dowel.

Dowel with Command Strip

Then I hot glued the other side of the dowel to the back of the cubby and positioned the medal where I needed it to be before the hot glue dried.  If the dowel is not long enough, you can remedy that problem by sticking on a Command Strip square or two (in my case three sometimes) then glue the command strip to the back of the box.  That actually worked better since there was more area on the square to glue to the box than there was area on the dowel (hope that made sense!).

I then tucked in all the ribbons so that they could provide an interesting background:

Before and After Collage

Repeat for all the medals and that’s it, you’re done!

I bought two of these cubby boxes so that I can add more medals to the count.

Medals and Dresser

It was a super easy project and I love the way it turned out!  It’s just one more thing to add to Tuscan’s room to make it more “Tuscan.” 🙂

FYI:  I know it seems like I was compensated by Command Strips since that was the main ingredient to putting this puppy together, and I used that phrase, “COMMAND STRIP” about 50 times in this post, but I wasn’t.  I just really like them and use them all the time.  I also like typing “COMMAND STRIP” and asking my husband to pick up “COMMAND STRIPS” from the store.  “PICK UP SOME COMMAND STRIPS NOW!”  End FYI.


Model Home Furniture Steal!

I have been looking for a while for dining room furniture.  I’ve looked online, at Craigslist, in stores, in consignment shops, and at thrift stores only to find NOTHING that I liked and that was reasonably priced.  A friend of mine told me about a warehouse in my area that sells model home furniture at rock bottom prices, but you have to stand in line for an hour or more starting at around 7:00 in the morning.  They don’t sell any other time during the week except for on Fridays from 8:00 to noon and if you’re not standing near the front of the line when the store opens, forget it, you’ll end up with nothing.  You have to be in the front of the mad dash.

Clearance Center Outside(It’s in a totally nondescript, easy to overlook building that I’ve passed dozens of times)

So, I stood in line for an hour and talked to a couple who’ve been coming every Friday for the last 3-4 months because they’re “addicted” to this place.  They told me the ins and outs of how to get what you want and where to run to in the warehouse to find the dining room sets.  In short, I got a primer on how to score at this place.

When the doors finally opened, I did what they said and made a mad dash to the dining room sets only to find that I didn’t like any of them enough… womp, womp.  BUT, they were right, the prices were insane.  I found one set that I liked (not loved) that had 6 chairs and a table with a leaf.  The wood was SOLID and the set was priced at $750.  I couldn’t find that type of deal even on Craigslist.  And the brands that they had for the dining room sets were Broyhill, Hooker, Thomasville… good brands!

So, after the adrenaline subsided, I casually strolled the warehouse not looking for anything in particular and SCORE, I found Tuscan’s bedroom furniture which I wasn’t actively looking for… Not the bed, but I found two end tables, a chest, and two lockers for $300.  Five pieces of heavy metal furniture for $300!  Tuscan and I were just pinning some bedroom ideas onto his board last night, so I guess that was a sign.  And with that, Tuscan’s room renovation just moved to the top of the list.

4 Drawer Locker Chest Red Lockers

You can’t tell from the pic., but these are full-sized lockersBlue Metal Locker Night Stand Red Metal Locker Night Stand

The tops of these nightstands have laminate wood which is perfect for kids

I also found a beautifully upholstered chenille headboard in gray that would’ve been perfect for my bedroom except that it was queen sized and I need a king.  But man, I almost snagged it anyway thinking that it would look great in our basement guest room but I’m not even close to starting that project so I passed with great regret…

I also got a picture frame and vase that I really liked for $7.50 each that will go in the foyer for now.




As I was checking out with my goodies, the same couple that I met in line high-fived me on my first buying experience and I even got a “You go girl!” Ahhhhhh….the camaraderie of getting a good deal…  So, I am now officially addicted and will be back next Friday!  Their furniture turns over weekly, so hopefully I’ll find the “one” dining room set I’ve been searching for and our dining room will be empty no longer.  In the meantime, I’m working on Tuscan’s new sports themed room which means that I have to purge the snot out of his toys and clothes first, so it may be a while before I get to the fun stuff like painting and decorating.

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.


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. 🙂