Sofia’s Room, Progress!

Check ya later beige!  That’s basically what I was chanting for the 20 hours it took to paint Sofia’s room.  That’s right, I said 20 hours…  “Wow, your daughter’s room must be enormous!” you ask.  No… really, really it’s not, but I decided to stencil chevron stripes on an accent wall and it took FOREVER!  But, if I had to do it all over again, I would because I love it, and more importantly, Sofia loves it!

Sofia, being the 12-year-old she is, had set ideas on some of the things she wanted in her room (GREEN AND PURPLE STRIPES and NO pink), but not so much on other things (no opinion on artwork, bedding, etc.) and she told me that I could that figure out.  Yea!  Pretty much free rein on what I could do.

Here are the before and after pics of her room:


Sofia's Room Before

Sofia After on bottom



Her room’s actually bigger than the picture conveys…  She’s got a queen sized bed in there with plenty of room to spare.


I went with green and purple as the main colors with orange accents.  The bookcase went from an oak color to purple and the walls are painted Horizon Gray by Benjamin Moore in satin sheen since Sofia is hard on her walls.   Here’s a close up of the accent wall:







I used a base coat of purple then added Martha Stewart’s purple glitter paint on top to give it some shine.  Sofia said she wanted green and purple stripes and I knew that alternating those colors would look too busy, so instead I did an ombre look with light green stripes at the top then medium green stripes in the middle and dark green stripes at the bottom with one accent purple stripe with a little glitter near the very bottom.


The bedspread is from Wake Up Frankie and I think it goes great with the wall.  I added a two orange pillows that I got from Marshall’s and want to sew a couple of puggle puppy appliqués (as soon as I find out how to do that, thank you You Tube!).  The orange ties into the rug I got from Urban Outfitters that I got for a steal for $20!   The curtains are also from Urban Outfitters and they tie into the gray walls without overwhelming.  I also installed some black-out blinds behind the curtains since my girl likes to sleep!  She’s growing :).


Here are a few more pics from different angles in her room:













And here’s Sofia enjoying her favorite activity!




I still have a few more prints to frame and hang above Sofia’s bed as well as a mirror that I need to find hopefully at a thrift store to mount above her dresser (hence the lack of pics of the other, undone side of her room).


I’m aiming to finish her room in one more week, then it’s off to the next project…  re-screening the covered porch for Thomas for Father’s Day.  It’s been wanting me to do that for a while so I just have to figure out how, but that’s the story of my DIYing 🙂




Beachy Bathroom on a Budget

In the spirit of making the house presentable without busting our budget, the kids’ bathroom is the first room to get a coin-friendly makeover.  The bathroom was not touched by the previous homeowners in 25 years so it was an outdated ’90s nightmare.  I hated going in there to occasionally clean it so, I made the kids’ clean it so I wouldn’t have to claim its existence.  Here are the befores:

DSC_0017Lowdown: Builder grade cabinet, yellowing sink and countertop, outdated hardware, cracked toilet (but it didn’t leak), beige stained walls, beige tub, beige tile, black grout, outdated fixtures, huge old mirror, dark shower curtain (I took it down so it’s not visible in pic), the list of atrocities goes on and on…

And here are the afters:


Better, right?


Another one




The vanity

It turned out so much nicer than I thought it would on a budget.  Initially, I wanted to gut the entire thing, but because I wanted to have some money for other rooms, here’s what I did instead:

Painted the walls Palladian Blue by BM            $25

Painted the vanity Stratton Blue by BM         $15

Painted the ceiling white by Behr                        Leftover so FREE

Changed the hardware on the vanity             $12

Scrubbed the crap out of the grout                  FREE

Sealed the grout using grout sealer                  $5

Put up artwork (Target and Home Goods)    $50

Shower curtain                                                               $50

Towel Hooks (Target)                                                  $23

New bath mat (Target)                                               $20

Hamper (Bed, Bath, and Beyond)                        $24

New soap dispenser                                                     $10

New outlet and light switch                                       $20

Grand Total                                                        $254

Now for the deats:  I wanted a beach theme for the bathroom but not the “hit you over the head” kind of theme; I wanted subtlety.  I also wanted the bathroom to be coral and blue/green with hints of tan but I wasn’t sure which colors would be the leads and which would play supporting roles.  Then I saw these ombre, coral curtain panels at Target and I had my color scheme: walls-blue/green; shower curtain- coral; accessories- tan.  So beachy, right?

The window curtains went from this:


to this:


with a little sewing.  I just bought two curtain panels and sewed them together the same width as the old shower curtain then I shortened the curtain again using the old shower curtain as a template and presto!: a new ombre shower curtain.  Because it’s not made from typical shower curtain material, I Scotchgarded the crap out of it so that it’s more washable.  I’m also hoping that the steam from the kids’ shower will pull out the wrinkles in the curtain, because I wasn’t about to iron it!

     I painted the walls Palladian Blue because that to me is a perfect blue/green bathroom color and because my sister recommended it and she’s got a great eye for wall color.  Thanks Nancy :).  I also painted the vanity a couple shades darker than the walls because initially I painted it white but it clashed with the countertop which is staying (for now).  The vanity is Stratton Blue and it looks great against the wall color.  I also put on new handles that I got at Lowe’s.  It really classed up the vanity.  The ceiling also went from beige to bright white.  It’s amazing how much more open and bigger a space looks with a fresh coat of bright white on the ceiling.


Now the not-so-fun part:  I spent three hours scrubbing the dingy grout with bleach gel from Clorox and by the time I was done, I ruined a pair of pants, and couldn’t smell anything but bleach for hours… but, the grout went from this:


to this:


It was a huge difference!  After all that scrubbing, I didn’t want the grout to turn grimy again in a few weeks, so I applied grout sealer.  Hopefully, the grout will stay white…

     Back to the fun part: Artwork and accessories.  I got the coral prints from Home Goods and was so happy that they were coral and tan, my accent colors (that was just luck as is most finds at Home Goods!).  The towel hooks under the artwork is from Target.  There was a traditional towel bar initially hanging, but it could only fit two towels.  The new towel hook can fit 5 towels which is so much better since three kids are sharing this bathroom.   DSC_0013

On the other side of the bathroom, I hung some shell artwork from Target which also had tan in it (the burlap mat) so it tied in perfectly.


A tan bathroom mat from Target rounded out the accessories.  BTW, the mat was so soft and plush that my son took a nap on it in the bathroom.  Should have snapped a pic of that one… darn.

     Overall, I’m so happy with how the bathroom turned out especially for the money I spent.  I think it’s definitely presentable now and phase 2 will be a while off yet but here are the to-be done additions:

  • New vanity (I LOVE how this one turned out, but there’s still not enough storage for three kids, so it eventually has to go…)
  • New floor (Even with the shiny, white grout, the floor is still outdated so I’d love to install marble tiles eventually)
  • New tub (white please!)
  • New tile in shower (marble subway tile would be perfect)
  • New toilet (even though ours is cracked, it doesn’t leak so it’s staying for now)
  • Scaled down mirror
  • Shelves over the toilet for more storage

That list is easily another $1K which is why it’s a list and not reality!  On to making the next room presentable!!!


Shiny, Happy Mirror

I love to re-purpose, especially if that re-purposing involves spray paint so when we replaced the mirror above our mantel with artwork and the mirror was homeless (poor mirror :() I busted out my spray paint and got busy.  The last we saw of the mirror, it was gold and shiny above the mantle:


But then it got the boot and was replaced with a canvas print that just looked a lot better in the space.


I loved the shape of the mirror but not so much the color so I grabbed some paint from Home Depot and got to sprayin’ that bad boy:


First I covered the mirror with scrap paper that I just shoved between the mirror and the frame.


It actually worked out really well when I sprayed because hardly any paint landed on the mirror and what little bit did, I just scraped off with a razor blade.

Then I spray painted about 10 light coats of Rustoleum Satin Paint in Summer Squash and viola, the finished product:


It makes me happy to see that mirror right when I walk into our house :).  You can see where our front door is from the reflection in the mirror, it really is right when you walk in.  Here’s another pic:


The wall color is Edgecomb Gray by Benjamin Moore (a shade lighter than Revere Pewter) and love how the yellow and gray look together.  I scored the basket on clearance from Target.  I love Target…

The little table is from Ballard Designs and was free because I bought one for the office that was a little off kilter when I put it together (the screw holes wouldn’t line up correctly), so Ballard, being the great company they are, sent me another one for free and told me I could keep the original one since it was almost all put together.  I fixed the original one by breaking out the drill and making the holes bigger then superglueing the screws in the holes- something I didn’t want to do if Ballard wanted me to return the original!

With the addition of the funky gold and coral chair and now the mirror, the foyer is coming along nicely!  Next on the list is replacing our too-low hanging chandelier that always hits people in the head when they walk into our house…  Welcome to our home!  Sorry about the concussion!  More on that later.

Gold and Coral Chair

A while ago I posted this chair that I love:


cute blue chair

I like the simple lines and especially the fact that it was bi-colored and BLUE (my favorite accent color).  It looked like an easy, quick project so I definitely wanted to DIY one for my house.  I checked out a couple donation stores and found a chair at Goodwill for $10 that I thought I could work with:


The lines weren’t as clean as I wanted, but I thought that if it didn’t look the way I wanted after I was done with it, I could always give it to the kids for their treehouse (which is where all our cast-offs go).  I wanted to paint the bottom gold and the top coral since even though I love blue, I’ve learned that I have to stay away from blue as much as I can since that is my go-to color and my house is at risk of looking like the Smurfs live here if I’m not careful!

The first step was to get all the gloss off the wood with a liquid de-glosser.  I used TSP de-glosser that I picked up at Home Depot.




I wanted the bottom of the chair to be gold because the chair was going in the foyer and right next to the foyer is my living room which has gold accents and I wanted the two spaces to relate to each other.  So, I flipped the chair upside down in the grass and started spray painting the legs using Rustoleum gold spray paint.





I sprayed about 10 very light coats and let the coats dry for about 10 minutes between coats.  I was so happy with the results after I was done because the legs were shiny, bump free, and drip free.  I high-fived myself for picking a project that was easy and awesome but then came painting the top part, and soon I was kicking myself in the rear!


I decided to use latex paint for the top of the chair because I couldn’t find the color that I wanted in spray paint; although I did find a website where you give them the paint color from any manufacturer and they make spray paint out of it but it was really expensive (like $20 a can) and I wanted this to be an inexpensive project.  So, latex paint is what I worked with and after lots of headaches and drips and sanding and time and cursing, I came up with:



It was way too light on the top and when my husband saw it and said, “I didn’t know you were going for the old lady South Beach look,” I knew I needed to reevaluate the color.  So after spending about three hours painting this atrocious color, I went back to Home Depot and picked out a brighter version and got this:



This was too dark and sadly, still ugly so I lightened it:





Still terrible.  And at this point, I had so many coats on the chair that there were bumps, brush marks, drips and general ugliness.




Even if the color was perfect, which it wasn’t, I couldn’t live with all those imperfections!  I even tried thinning out the latex paint before painting and the paint still globbed in lots of places, so I did the only rational thing and spent the next 2 days stripping all paint that wasn’t gold.  I used Citristrip which is an environmentally friendly gel stripper and had to apply 3 coats since I had so many coats of paint to strip.


After stripping the chair, and going to 5 different stores, I found a spray paint that would work called Coral Isle by Krylon and after another 10 coats I finally got it right with no bumps, drips, globs, and no cursing!








See how the gold in the chair relates to the gold mirror and accents in the living room?


I even found a cute little pillow at Target for $5 that I think goes well with the chair.

The next step is to add some art above the chair with blue accents to break up all that coral a little.  In the spirit of trying to do this with as little cash as possible, I’m going to DIY the artwork and already have some ideas that I think might work.  I’ll let you know when I come up with something that is share-able!

Notes from this project:  USE SPRAY PAINT!!!  It leaves no brush marks and if you spray light coats, no drips.  I will for evermore use spray paint to refinish furniture because I value my sanity.

Wrinkles and Ravens

As a child I loved “A Wrinkle in Time” by Madeleine L’Engle and I must have read the book 20 times.  It was my favorite book and I would read it under my covers with a flashlight until late into the night .  Reading that book is one of my fondest childhood memories because it triggered my love of books.  So, when I saw the following pin on pinterest, I knew I wanted to celebrate my favorite book by ripping out the pages (gulp), punching heart holes in those ripped pages, and slapping the whole thing into a frame to add to our collage in the family room!  So here’s my pinterest inspiration:

pinterest book project

My Pinterest Inspiration

And here’s my version (with directions):


I started by gathering my supplies: the book, a heart hole punch, double stick tape, dimensional foam tape, colored paper (I used blue), scissors, poster paper, and a frame (I used an empty one that I had hanging in the collage in the family room).

I started by cutting the poster board to the size of the frame insert.  I used the piece of paper that comes with the frame as a template.


Then I ripped a few pages out of the book which I had to admit made my stomach lurch because I’ve never defamed a book before, especially my favorite childhood book!  But, I got through it and  started punching:


I tried to punch out a few pages at once to save some time.  I punched out random phrases for some of the hearts and I punched out chapter titles and the title of the book for some of the hearts.  I wanted the hearts to be in a staggered pattern with one row of hearts upright and the next upside down so for the upside down hearts, I made sure that the words were still upright by punching the hearts out on upside down pages.  Then I started spacing out the hearts.


For the initial arrangement, I made sure to pay attention to spacing but I wasn’t super concerned about how straight each heart was.


After I got the spacing right, I used a pencil to straighten each individual heart before sticking them on with tape.  It worked great because the eraser was able to lightly grab and straighten each piece of paper.


I used double stick tape to adhere the hearts except for the titles which I used foam dimensional tape so that the piece wouldn’t look so flat.  And the grand finale is:


See how some of the hearts pop out?  I put it on the wall of our collage:


Some of the other new additions are:



DSC_0031From a local artist

DSC_0032A temporary piece.  It’s a postcard I got from Etsy.

DSC_0034Also from a local artist.  It’s of downtown Baltimore…

And speaking of Baltimore… GO RAVENS CHAMPIONS!!!  I’m not normally big into football but the rest of my family is and I couldn’t help but get swept up in their excitement yesterday as the Ravens won the Superbowl.  My kids were ecstatic!


Here they are drinking grape RAVENS juice to celebrate.  The tall kid in the middle is Sergio, a family friend.  Trajan is on the left, Sofia is on the right, and Tuscan is crouched in the middle.  GO RAVENS!

A Boring Old Post About Replacing Outlets…

This post is boring…  Seriously, replacing outlets is not exciting, but if you’ve ever wanted to save some cash by doing it yourself and not hiring an electrician then read on!


I don’t know why, but looking at cream/almond outlets in a room offends the eye.  It dates a room like nobody’s business and it’s so easy to replace them with nice, clean white outlets.


You can also make your house more energy-efficient by putting outlet insulation on the inside of the covers.  If you’ve ever taken off a cover on an outlet inside the house but on an exterior wall and put your hand over the outlet in the winter, you’ve felt the draft.  I recently got an energy audit on my house and the auditor said that installing outlet insulation is a cheap way to keep out cold air.


So here’s how to do it:


1.  Gather a few tools: a Phillips screwdriver, a normal sized flat head screwdriver, and (importantly) a little flat head screwdriver.  Go to your favorite hardware store and buy new outlets, outlet covers, and insulation for outlets (see pic below).  If possible, dismantle the outlet (see steps 3 and 4) so that you can bring it to the store to get the same exact style.





Outlet insulation

2.  Turn off the electricity to the outlet you’re working on.  What I do is plug in a hair dryer so that I can hear when the electricity is for sure turned off when I flip the breaker.  You can also use a lamp to do the same thing (that’s what I did this time).




Before flipping the breaker


After flipping the breaker

3.  Unscrew the cover to the outlet.



4.  Unscrew the two screws holding in the outlet.



5.  Pull out the outlet.




6.  Dismantle the wires going into the outlet.  They are typically found in little holes on the sides of the outlet or they are wrapped around a big screw on the side of the outlet.  If they are located in holes, then there is normally a small slit next to the hole that you need to stick a very small flat head screwdriver into to “release” the wire from the hole.  This is tricky because you need to push the screwdriver in as you are pulling the wire out.  If you have trouble with this, get someone to push the screwdriver or pull on the wire.  If the wire is wrapped around a screw, just take a flat head screw driver and loosen the screw and the wire should just pop right off.





7.  Loosen the screw at the bottom of the outlet to release the neutral wire (the copper colored wire).



8.  As you dismantle the wires be sure to bend them to where they go into the outlet.  As you can see from the below picture, I bent the wires to the same sides of where they were in the old outlet so that I know where they go in the new outlet.





In this picture, I’m working with four wires and I bend them in the same way that they were found in the old outlet:



9.  The old outlet should now be completely free of all the wires.  Take the new outlet and either shove the wires in the holes the same way they were in the old one, or, if the wires were folded around the screw, then take the wires (they should be bent into hooks) and hook them onto the screws in the same way as the old one.


In my case, the wires were too big to go into the holes of the outlets I bought, so I had to bend the wires into hooks to hook onto the screw on the sides of the outlet.



You can bend the wires by wrapping the wire around a screwdriver.  It’s a pain in the rear because the wires are thick, but I think it’s the easiest way to do it.

Then I hooked the wires onto the loosened screws on the side of the outlet then tightened the screws to that they had a good grip on the wires.  Be sure to also hook up the neutral wire on the bottom of the outlet.



10. Shove the entire receptacle back into the hole and, using the screws that came with the new outlet, screw in the outlet on the top and bottom to fit into the outlet box (the plastic box around the outlet).  Now, this is important… sometimes the new screws that came with the new outlet are not long enough so in that case, use the old screws.  You won’t see them anyway.  Make sure that the outlet is sticking out from the wall a little, otherwise when you put the cover on, the outlet will either stick out too much or be too recessed.  You can adjust this by either loosening or tightening the screws on the top and bottom of the outlet.  You can also straighten from side to side by adjusting the same screws.






11.   If the receptacle is on an outside wall (i.e. on a wall inside your house but the other side of the wall is outside) then take the insulation and push that onto the receptacle.




9.  Screw the outlet cover on then test your outlet.  It should work!!!



Notes:  When you pick out the new outlets, be sure to get outlets with big holes to push the wires into since just shoving the wires in the holes instead of around the screws is the easiest way to do it.  Sometimes outlet holes are too small for your wires so that you have to use the screw method, but bending those thick wires to fit around the screws are a pain in the rear, so be sure to really look hard for outlets with big holes.

Things I love…

Here are a few things that I love right this minute:

cute blue chair


I found this chair on Dear Lizzy and love it!  I want to paint one just like it for our little desk in the family room except that I might change that baby blue to a pale yellow.  It would be so easy to find a chair like this at a thrift store to rehab; you just have to make sure that you pick out a chair where the legs do not flow into the back of the chair.  There has to be a distinct “top” and “bottom” to the chair.


I recently got this picture of a puggle to put on our collage wall in the family room off of Etsy.  I just got it in the mail today and it is so much more realistic and colorful in real life.  It looks exactly like a cross between our two little guys that I had to get it.  I mean look at the below picture… It looks like my dog sat for the artist doesn’t it!

08.2011-04.2012 Pictures 799

Bandit in the foreground, Butter in the background

July 2011 497

Butter all dressed up (my kids love to make the dogs look ridiculously cute!)

Gilded Bowls

And these are just beautiful little bowls for a nightstand.  You can find them here.  I love anything white and gold.  The colors just look so elegant together.

So that’s it for now.  I’m still working on painting, painting, painting… and will post pictures when I’m finally done (in the year 2023, *sigh*).