One Room Challenge: Progress is Progress

Posted on October 25, 2013

Feeling sick today… So, here’s just a small peek at the bench that I’m working for our master bedroom. It’s not done yet, but here you go.

I bought the bench 30 thousand years ago at a thrift store for around $7.


Solid wood, just a little banged up and in need of some loving.

I sanded it, cleaned it, vacuumed it, cursed at the dust, primed it, sanded it again, tack cloth-ed it, and then cursed at the dust again.

Here’s a close-up of the legs, primed and sanded.

primed bench leg

I taped off and covered the top part with a paper bag. The cardboard box is to protect the other leg in the back.

primed bench leg taped off

Spray with gold spray paint. Peel tape off while paint is still wet. Repeat with the other three legs. Done.

primed bench gold legs

That whole thing took me 15 minutes, which was gratifying after a failed shopping trip to Jo-Ann. Did you know that foam is expensive? That a 2-inch foam will cost you around 16 dollars per yard… and that’s at 50% off? That means that it’s around 32 dollars for a yard of foam at regular price. LOL. I mean.. that is just LOL. What’s up with that?

But I will buy the foam. At 50% off. I just got kicked out of the store yesterday because I got there around 15 minutes before closing and was paralyzed with indecision. OH WELL…

The bench is hanging out and waiting for me to finish it.

primed bench gold legs fabric

I put the fabric on the bench just to see how the gold plays with it. I like it. I just don’t like how much the foam costs.

Seriously, I know it’s a first world problem and it’s not that bad. It’s just that the foam price puts more pressure on me not to screw up this project. The fabric, the foam, and then the batting that I’ll also need to get… and what if it looks awful?

I can’t think like that, though. I just gotta get it done and do my best. I’ll buy the foam tomorrow morning. The 50% off sale on foam ends this Saturday, I think. If you need foam, you know where to go!

primed bench gold legs fabric

Never mind the splotchy white paint. I haven’t pained it white yet. That’s just primer. I didn’t want to put the gold spray paint on top of latex paint, so I did that first and then I’ll brush around the gold.

I hope it’ll look good in the bedroom!

It’s been so hard to work on the room when Sienna (the baby) is napping and sleeping in there. She’s sleeping through the night more often than not (hoooooooray) so we are going to give her an eviction notice soon.

I forgot to tell you! WE GOT THE BED!!!!!!! It needs a LOT of work so we got the price down to $80 and now it’s chilling in our garage. Can I finish it before the challenge is up? I have no idea but I am just so happy we have the bed!

I’m going to sleep now and get up early and buy the foam with a determined smile on my face.


One Room Challenge: Thrifting Is Fun

Posted on October 18, 2013

We’re making over our master bedroom for the One Room Challenge link-up party and this is week three. If this is your first time here, check out week one and week two.

Nick’s parents are here (you know them as Mom and Dad Vita), our oldest girl’s turning 2 tomorrow, and… well, etc. It’s been hectic lately, but I’ve managed to make SOME progress in our bedroom. However, there’s nothing finished to show you all today… but just know that the bench is sanded down and ready to be primed, the bench fabric arrived today, the ribbon trim for the roller shade has been bought, and I’m experimenting with trim ideas for the tall dresser. Whew.

Earlier this week I took the baby to two thrift stores after dropping off the toddler girl at school. It was pretty awesome… I didn’t realize how much I missed browsing thrift shops! Now that the in-laws are visiting, I’m going to grab this opportunity to visit as many thrift shops as I can without a baby crying on my shoulder. Good plan!

Anyway, here’s what I saw. (The pictures are bad because our iPhone camera is bad because Janella chewed on it. Oh well. I guess I don’t feed her enough.)

I stopped by It’s New To Me first.

giant king bed thrift store

I was fascinated by that huge king bed! If I had a really big master bedroom, I would consider getting it… but it’s just BIG. Nick said that it reminded him of a medieval bed. Oh yeah, he’s right.

This thrift store always has great chairs. Nick didn’t like ANY of these, but whatever.

thrift store chair

I was looking at chairs because a friend/reader on Facebook gave me a good idea of putting two chairs on both sides of the long dresser. I didn’t find anything but I really liked the chair above. The design on the back is just so pretty.

This rocking chair!!!!

thrift store rocking chair

I’ve been looking for this kind of rocking chair for a long time and never thought I would find it. But I sat down on it and it felt… old. Like I would break it within two weeks of buying it.

I also loved these chairs but I only needed 2, not 4.

thrift store chairs

That store is pretty good with bedroom sets, dressers, side tables, coffee tables, chairs, and dining room sets. But their prices are CRAZY for mirrors and art. $50 for hotel art, pretty much. No thank you.

I prefer the art selection at Next to New, which was where I went to next.

thrift store bird art

We already have a cool bird art that we bought from this store a while ago and Nick had the idea of using all bird art around our mounted TV. I found these two prints but they were $37 each. Oh please. They weren’t even that big. I’ll come back when the price goes down and see if they’re still available. This store drops the prices on items that don’t sell. The prices drop per month, I believe.

They had a decent selection of bed frames there. I really liked this headboard/footboard combo — it’s a bit hard to see in the photos but it’s the tall ones leaning on the wall.

thrift store bed

thrift store bed

However, it’s a California King bed and the price was $350. The price will drop to $87 in November, wow. It’s an option to keep in mind.

I really loved this headboard:

thrift store bed

But it’s a full size. Boo.

Fell in LOVE with these panels (there are three). This photo sucks but the colors are really vibrant but still vintage-looking. I loved the teal in the birds and the gold on the frame. Buy me, buy me, they sang to me.

thrift store panels

The price, however, shouted at me and told me to stay away.

thrift store prices

That’s $125 per panel. Ah, I’ll come back in December and see if they’re still available. Probably not, but you never know.

If you’re in the area, here’s some good news. I hope to make good use of this sale the next time I go there… since I didn’t find anything I loved enough to buy this time.

thrift store sale

I enjoyed myself, but I was sad that I didn’t find a bed… until I checked Craig’s List again. VOILA!!

craigslist bed

craigslist bed

For $100???

Oh yes! Come to mama.

The bed is at San Antonio, which is an hour away, and I need to rent a truck. Ugh, blah, but the seller says he’ll hold it for me until Sunday (after all the birthday fun is over for Janella) and hopefully I’ll grab a truck from Home Depot (U-Haul has this stupid .59 per mile charge that will jack up the price from $20 to $90-ish).

In my mind, that bed is ours. I really hope the seller won’t sell it to someone else! Be kind, seller, be kind with my heart.

It’s a king bed, though, so we’ll need to get a new mattress. And sheets.

Ah, it’ll be worth it when all four of us are able to snuggle together during a rainy Sunday morning to watch a riveting episode of Pingu. Good plan!


One Room Challenge: Plans and More Plans

Posted on October 10, 2013

I’ve already started working on our master bedroom for the One Room Challenge link-up party (hint: spray paint is involved) but I still have a long way to go.

I was making changes here and there and realized that I didn’t like how things were going. That’s what happens when you have a vague design plan and think you can wing it. No. You can’t wing it. Actually, let me rephrase. I can’t wing it. You might be able to, but not me.

If you want to really evaluate a room, take photos of it. That’s what I did and it really helped us come up with a more detailed plan, including colors and all that fun stuff.

Let’s start with the wall with the bed.

wall 1 master bedroom

The bed has to go. Period. If you look closely between the slats of the crib, you can see the damage that our cats have done.

I’ve been seriously stalking Craig’s List for queen or king beds that come with a headboard, a footboard, and a frame. Nick would like to upgrade to a king bed, while I’m a bit iffy because we’d have to buy a new mattress. And that means less $$ for pretty things. But we’ll see.

Here’s what Austin’s Craig is looking like these days.

craig's list finds

The prices vary so much that it is possible to grab a nice bed for a low price, but you gotta act fast. I saw a really, really nice bed for only $50 last weekend and immediately texted the seller. He (or she?) said that it was available and to pick it up. I called Home Depot to see if I could rent their truck but of course they were all rented out. Could I reserve a truck? No. When should I call back? Don’t know. I texted the seller again and explained the situation.

Less than an hour later, he texted me back and said, “Sold the bed. Sorry.”

$50!!!!!!! I will forever be sad about that. I am seriously tempted to just buy a truck so that we can buy a bed for a low price. Good logic? I think so, too.

All these beds above are nice, but not perfect because either the price is too high or the shape isn’t quite right. However, I’m seriously considering the King Size bed frame and Dresser (bottom row, middle photo). $275 is a really good deal for a king size bed AND a nice dresser. And the seller says he can deliver. We could use the dresser as a TV stand in our game room. I think I’ll email them and ask for more photos and ask for delivery prices. HMM.

The Queen size bed (2nd row, left photo) is nice, too. The price isn’t bad. Cedar Park is a little far, though, and I’m not sure if I can make the trip there and back within 90 minutes, which is the duration of a truck rental from Home Depot.

If I was rich and had a huge truck, I would go for one of these beds:

craig's list finds

Can you imagine them painted a really nice shade of aqua/teal/turquoise? Wow. But both beds are so expensive (the one on the left is over $1,000) that it’s probably a furniture sin to paint them.

Whatever bed we finally buy will help us decide what to put above the bed. Right now, we’re loving the idea of an antique mirror, like this:

antique mirror above bedSource:


Moving on to the wall on the left of our bed…

wall 2 master bedroom

That dresser is wide, but the wall is so big that the dresser almost looks small.

We will mount the TV to the wall and do a gallery frame wall around the TV. We’re not sure what the gallery frame wall will look like, though. At first, we wanted something like this:

tv gallery wallSource: Burlap and Lace

But then I checked out Lonny and this is kinda wow.

gallery frame wall lonnySource: Lonny, October 2013 Issue

Just switch out the mirror in the middle for a TV. Nice.

Not sure.

I think we’ll scoot over the dresser to the left and make room for a chair in the corner. That should fill up the wall some more… I hope.

That purple iron decor thingy above the TV? I already spray painted it white and I plan to put it above the dresser on this wall, which faces our bed:

wall 3 master bedroom

So hard to take a photo of this wall with the sun shining through the window.

The iron decor thingy will go above the dresser and then I want to bring some life to the dark, black dresser. I really love this dresser…

white and gold dresserSource: Layla Grace

…that costs over $2,500. Eh, it’s not expensive. Not at all.

I love the gold detailing and I think that can be achieved with painted trim and knobs with the help of my favorite gold spray paint. I’ve already painted the knobs, but should I paint the dresser white? I’m still undecided on that but probably. Maybe. Too ambitious? Probably. Maybe.

The bench below the window will definitely be painted white. I’m going to start on that project tomorrow (if Janella and Sienna let me, that is). I’m also ordering this fabric:

fabric for benchSource:

It’s a thin fabric, not designed for upholstery, but I plan to back it with fusible backing and hopefully that will work. I just can’t find another fabric that I love as much as this one!

The photo frames on the left of the curtains. Sigh. I already painted them a color but I don’t think I like it. Hopefully I’ll come to a decision and show you the pretty, not fugly, results next week. And the frames will be lined up. How they’re hung here was a mistake, so never mind the current arrangement.

Now, this wall.

wall 4 master bedroom

I’m thinking large scale DIY art, inspired by this gorgeousness:

photographySource: Max Wanger Photography

And we have an interesting problem in this area of the room:

ipad charging station if you can call it that

That, my dear, is Nick’s iPad charging station. If you can call it that. A chair with a pile of junk on top of it to hold up the iPad to Nick’s eye level is what I call it. We need a little table for this area, maybe one on wheels or one that pops up from the wall. Something. I hate this stupid chair and the stupid stuff on it that always falls off when I move it. Shoo, you stupid thing. SHOO.

What else, what else. Ah, the paint color on the walls. I’m seriously thinking about repainting the gray. It’s just the wrong shade of gray. It leans purple and is… just… It just doesn’t look good with many colors. Nick is really not liking the idea of repainting, but I think we have no choice. I love the gray in Janella’s room, so I might try testing that color out on our wall. I want to leave the dark gray trim along the sides of the wall, though.

Lots to do. I’d better stop typing and get to painting. Bye!


One Room Challenge… Accepted!

Posted on October 3, 2013

This is the first post in the One Room Challenge series. Here’s the latest update.

Linda from Calling it Home hosts this fun one room challenge that I’ve always wanted to participate in. Six weeks, one room from start to finish, one blog post per week.

This time around, she’s also hosting a linking party so anyone can play in the challenge. Strict deadlines and peer accountability? Exactly what I need as a serious procrastinator with extreme decorating ADD.

I mentioned the challenge to Nick and said, “Too bad we don’t have a room that we haven’t started decorating yet. This challenge is from start to finish.”

He said, “What about our bedroom?”

Bingo. We DID start decorating that room (223,102 years ago) but barely and it has been abandoned ever since.

Let’s take a walk down memory lane.

In July 2009, the bedroom looked like this. We had just moved in five months prior and was still exhausted from our March wedding to do ANYTHING around the house.


july 2009

And this is my favorite photo:


The TV on two chairs. That is so LOL.

Flash forward to April 2010, almost a year later. We painted the bedroom, got a new bed, put up the chandelier that my mom gave us, and… That’s it, I guess.

april 2010

I still love the darker gray trim around the edges of our walls. That is definitely staying.

OK, start up your time machines once again. Let’s go to March 2012 this time.

march 2012

This is pretty much what our bedroom looks like these days, crib included but for Sienna this time. There are now purple curtains on that window, which you can kinda see in the next photo.


And we’ve done basically nothing to that room ever since, other than changing the arrangement of the furniture. The bed is on a different wall now, opposite the window. But that’s it.

Nick and I sat down and had a serious discussion about our bedroom. He sketched our room on a paper and scribbled down all of our plans on it. That piece of paper is going to be looked over and adjusted at least 320 times over the 6 weeks, but I made a clearer version for you.

This is our bedroom right now. Just mentally add random clothes littered all over the room (mostly on my side) and you should have a good idea of how it looks like today.

our master bedroom todaySienna still sleeps in our room, hence the crib, and will continue to do so until she sleeps through the night regularly and can go to sleep on her own. Soon, I hope. Soon-ish.

And here’s our plan for the room, as of right now.

plans for our master bedroom

Welp. That’ll be a lot of work.

There’s a lot of boring stuff there, like paint touch ups and mounting the TV, but these are things that we NEED to do anyway. But for now, let’s just chat about the fun stuff!

We have a black upholstered leather bed that we really do like, but it’s utterly destroyed by our cats and their evil claws. Boo, cats. We’re currently stalking Craig’s List for a cool wood bed that we can paint a fun color, like this:

painted wood bed
Source: Lonny

As for the color scheme for the room, we’ve always planned for purple to be one of the main colors since it was our wedding color (and the color of our master bathroom). So that’s still the goal, but we would like to also add turquoise and chartreuse in the mix. Like this:

dining room turquoise purple
Source: So Haute

We already have dark purple curtains, so we’ll be adding the other colors through various ways – with fabric, the bed painted in one of the colors, and maybe a rug.

Ah, the rug. I’m also stalking Craig’s List for rugs but I don’t have high hopes for that route. I’m doing the rounds on various websites, from Rug USA to Joss and Main, to find a great deal on a beautiful rug. So far, this is my favorite:

rug at joss and main
We’ll see. The sale just ended… Ugh. Boo. Rugs USA has a 55% off sale right now, so I’ll be checking that out as well.

I can’t wait to give this bench a makeover.


I grabbed it from a thrift store for only $7.99 and it has been on my mind ever since. It will be a very fun and gratifying project. I’ll probably paint it white and add a cushion in a happy fabric, but I could change gears and paint it something crazy. Not 100% sure yet.

So. 6 weeks, a VERY TIGHT budget, with a toddler and a baby. Can we do it? Finished or not, at least we will have made some serious progress on our neglected bedroom. I CAN’T WAIT.

Let’s goooooooo.


Wrapping Paper + Contact Paper = Drawer Liners!

Posted on October 1, 2013

Ever since we painted Janella’s dresser a pretty teal for her room, we’ve been meaning to line the drawers with some kind of paper. I didn’t find the right one until I was shopping for Janella’s first birthday party and there it was.

diy drawer liners

I found the white and gray polka dot wrapping paper last year at Hobby Lobby and grabbed a roll for Janella’s dresser and decided to also use it as a photobooth background. We covered our entryway wall with the wrapping paper, set up a camera, and asked guests to take a picture there.

 mi familia

We ended up leaving the wrapping paper on the wall for like a month because it looked so good!

(and we were lazy)

I’ve been hoarding the wrapping paper ever since. I wanted to figure out how to do it that it would be durable and long-lasting, but not permanent. The nightstands in our guest room are lined with wrapping paper and it got wrinkled over time, so I didn’t want that to happen here. And I could just see my toddler girl, with a grin plastered over her little face, ripping up all of my hard work.

Last week, I told myself, enough is enough, let’s figure out a solution. I agreed with myself and then did a google search and found this blog post about using clear contact paper on top of wrapping paper. Hmm… YES.

I bought the clear contact paper at Joann Fabrics for $10. Got home, put the crazy toddler in the crib for her nap, made sure the baby was full and happy with daddy, and got to work.

drawer liner contact paper supplies

And I basically did everything wrong.

If you’re just looking for a tutorial, you should read my sparkle’s tutorial. I just found it a few seconds ago and I really wish I had found it much sooner! It is so much easier than what I did. Sigh.

So, I’ll just show you what I did and some tips to make this much easier. First, you really need a large cutting mat. It is so worth it. It’s kind of hard to cut through the contact paper with a pair of scissors and I can’t even cut a perfectly straight line through filmsy wrapping paper with scissors, either. An x-acto knife and a large cutting mat are both essentials.

You’ll also want to have a long ruler that’s metal, not plastic, so you can use it to guide your x-acto knife. The ruler should be longer than your wrapping paper.

The wrapping paper that I used had a grid on the back, which helped so much with measuring and making straight lines.

And coffee. Coffee is important.

drawer liner contact paper

After measuring out the wrapping paper to fit all 9 drawers and cutting them out, I peeled the contact paper and put it on top and then cut it to fit. Again, the tutorial I just linked to has a much better way to do this step, but I just want to tell you that you should go over the whole thing with a plastic card (e.g. a credit card) to smooth out any air bubbles. I didn’t do that and the next day I found lots of air bubbles everywhere. Luckily, I did the card trick and most of them went away. Whew.

contact paper and wrapping paper

You can see here how the clear contact paper helped the wrapping paper become much more durable.

lined drawers dresser

At first, I was going to leave the sides uncut so they could stick to the sides of the drawer, but that didn’t work out. Because it was ugly. So I just cut off the excess and secured the liners with double stick tape.

double stick tape not permanent

A note – I used removable double sided tape because I wanted to be able to change things up later if I wanted to. You could use permanent double sided tape if you want, but remember that nothing in life is permanent. Sad but true.

lined drawers dresser

lined drawers dresser

And that’s it.

 lined drawers dresser

lined drawers dresser

 lined drawers dresser

To be honest, I did this project just to make things a little prettier. I like pretty things, who doesn’t? But lined drawers are SO MUCH BETTER than naked drawers. Clothes glide around with ease, making it a bit easier for me to search through 10 pink pants to find the ones that have the bow on the bottom. What can I say, I take fashion seriously.

(not really)

lined drawers dresser

I think I’m going to line every single drawer in this house with wrapping paper and clear contact paper. And the pantry. And the sad cabinet. And and and and.

Pretty and practical, my favorite combination.

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Our sad cabinet needs a paint job…

Posted on September 24, 2013

A long while ago, we bought this cabinet from a Goodwill store.

thrifted cabinet for entryway

This cabinet makes me feel so very full of regret. We bought it in 2011 and it was sad and lonely in our garage until just last summer. Poor little cabinet. Why did we wait so long to put it to use?

Actually, I know why. I wanted to paint it first before putting it in my home, but if there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself over the course of decorating this house, it’s that out of sight, out of mind.

No more. From now on, I’ll put the ugly in full display and shame myself into completing projects. Perfect plan.

So, this cabinet is now in our entryway.

entryway before

And it’s working. I have this bad itch to jump on that chest and PAINT it.

But what color?

entryway cabinet paint color choices

My original plan, back in 2011, was to paint it turquoise. Right now, in the year of 2013, I think turquoise is too bright of a color for this cabinet in this location. For one, the gray paint on the wall has blue undertones and a turquoise cabinet would probably look lost here. And the design on the cabinets are a little in-your-face and I’m afraid that a bright, bold color would only highlight it.

I seriously considered painting the cabinet a high gloss black for a while after looking all the paint samples (all from Home Depot) against the wall, but I still wanted something teal-ish.

Suddenly, two words popped in my head: Hague Blue.

I’ve heard about this color on blogs here and there, but I just didn’t have a reason to use it in my home. Until now…! See how great this color can be:

Elle Decor, via The English Room

via Pearle & Pierce Home

And Jenny from MFAMB painted her cabinet in the same color and it looks really great. See it here.

I think the color really shines when it’s in high gloss. So, that’s the plan right now.

We also got a nice, thick, shiny, white mirror from my favorite store, Williams & Sonoma Outlet that also sells West Elm and Pottery Barn stuff at discounted prices. We’ll switch that out with the dark mirror you see in the above pictures.

AND I want to give that lamp a makeover, but not sure what or how yet.

One thing’s for sure. I’m going to wield my favorite gold spray and spray these handles and take them from blah to bam!

The only real problem here is HOW to paint the cabinet. I recently bought a paint sprayer but I still need an air compressor to use it. I’m afraid to tackle these crazy doors with a paint brush, but I might have to if I don’t get an air compressor before the cabinet drives me insane.

Therefore… I’m currently stalking Craig’s List for an air compressor. Not as much fun as furniture, but I will feel like a real DIYer when our garage becomes the proud owner of a giant air compressor. Do you have one? Any recommendations?

I might just go ahead and attack the cabinet with a paint brush. I’ll let you know if I survive…



Posted on September 19, 2013

Let me catch you up on the happenings around here from the beginning of 2013 to today. I wasn’t posting much during this time because I generally suck as a person when I’m pregnant. But! I’m not pregnant anymore (for now), so let us begin.

We finally started the first batch of frames for our gallery wall in our stairway. So far, so good. We recently bought our second batch and hope to put it up sometime soon…

gallery wall stairsWe’ve got plenty of space here to spread out! It might take us 5 or 6 or 7 batches of frames (and long trips to IKEA) to finally fill out the wall. When we finish, it’s going to be lots of fun going up and down the stairs everyday. All of our family lives at faraway places, so it’s really nice to see their faces on a daily basis.


Our guest room has turned in a playroom when we don’t have guests. The room is just the happiest room in the house — its always so bright in there and the colors are so… well, bright and happy.

guest room slash play room

Never mind the headless lamp up there — we finally found lampshades for these cute yellow lamps. The room is far from done but it’s by far J’s favorite room in the house, even more than her room. And yes, that’s a futon mattress on the floor. Yes, it’s still there. No, you cannot ask me why. I have no idea. It just feels right in there.


I love a good DIY play kitchen, but we decided to not go the DIY route for our girl. She fell in love with the play kitchen at her “school” and I seriously considered making something for her, but we ultimately realized that J would be 16 before we finished the kitchen. I mean, it took us YEARS to finish the closet bookshelves.

play kitchen

Nick’s parents were so sweet to buy this awesome kitchen for J. We love this kitchen – it’s on the big side, so there’ll be plenty of space for baby Sienna to join in the cooking when she’s older; it looks realistic; it has lots of storage for play food; and it even has a real chalkboard on the fridge. J plays with it everyday.


Sometime during the spring, this happened.

broken fence

broken fence

It gets windy in Austin. Very windy. Our backyard is especially windy on windy days. So that fence fell down. Nick fixed it somehow, with a few nails and a hammer, and it’s upright. But it was crazy seeing that one early and bright morning while standing in the kitchen in my PJs. I thought I was seeing things.


We bought the famous and cheap LÄTT children’s table and chairs from IKEA. I mean, it was $20. I knew I would be giving it a makeover… some day. One of the chairs is already broken in the seat, but I expected that. Again, $20.

LATT children's table

I’m still not sure exactly what I’m going to do to it, but I have some ideas. In the meantime, here are some awesome LÄTT table and chair hacks for you to check out! And this one. And this one. Creative parents are creative.


We are seriously considering this chair.


In this color.


For our living room.



I love the displays at IKEA. They always give me some great ideas. I really enjoyed the wall treatment here:

herringbone wall treatment

And just looking at it today, I realized that it could be a fun backdrop to our entryway. And Nick likes it. And I’ve been wanting to try out this new product from FrogTape (my favorite painting tape) that is designed for textured walls. Yesss… a plan is a-brewing.


This photo is the perfect representation of how life is like for me these days.

life right now

A blurry toddler, a floor full of toys, and a baby.


*This post contains affiliate links. And no, FrogTape is not sponsoring me. Nor is IKEA. I just really love them.


Closet Bookshelves: The Project That Wouldn’t End

Posted on September 17, 2013

We finally FINALLY finally finally finished the built-in bookshelves in our office’s closet. We started this project before I got pregnant with Janella (first child) and finished it just a few days after Sienna’s (second child) birth. Three cheers for extreme procrastination!

Actually, it wasn’t entirely procrastination that severely delayed this project. There was a lot of roadblocks, which included mistaken measurements (me), frustrations with drilling in anchors into walls (Nick), constant changes to the plan (me), and diaper changes (Janella).

But it’s done.

And now I’ll tell you about it. First, a warning. The photos in this post aren’t the best. The closet is tiny and the lighting in there is bad. Oh, well.

We started here:

office closet before

The closet was a nice size, but it was not functional for us.

After we decided to turn the closet into a mini-library of sorts, we painted the closet the same teal as the office. In hindsight, we should have waited until after the shelves were installed to paint the closet, because I had to do LOTS and LOTS of touch-ups afterwards.

bookshelves chalk lines

You can see the chalk marks below the original shelf. At first, we thought we would work with the existing shelf but then decided to rip it out. See what I mean about constant changes to the plan?

The old shelf. Notice the sloppy paint job? Sexy.

bookshelves closet shelf

Tearing down the shelf was fun. I did it all by myself by using these tools.


And then:


Yep, we really should have at least painted it after we took down the old shelf. This project had a lot of “I should’ve done that, IDIOT!” moments. Hence why it took 1,000 2 years to finish.

We re-measured where we wanted to put the shelves and then drilled in the shelf supports.

supports for bookshelves

We used these anchors to hold up the supports. They work well but they definitely gave Nick several aneurysms. Sometimes it’s hard to get them to “open” and lock against the drywall, but now the shelves feel so sturdy that we’re glad we used them.

In the middle of this project, I took a short video of the closet to better show you how everything looked:

Here’s a rough drawing I did on iPages to show you the whole progression of how we built the closet bookshelves.

 closet bookshelves progression

1. The blank slate we started with. 2. The supports on the back and longest wall. 3. The supports on the other three walls. 4. The shelves on the back wall. 5. The shorter shelves on the right wall, along with the small supports we drilled underneath (see arrow) the shelves to support the shorter shelves.

The primed plywood shelves on the longest wall were securely held up by the supports on all three sides, but we needed extra supports for the shelves on the other wall. Dad Vita suggested that we add bottom supports in the corner to help hold up the shorter shelves, and so we did.


We held them together with clamps and then drilled them in from underneath.



Then we put in the shorter shelves and drilled the supports into them as well.

When that was done, I filled all the holes left behind when we drilled into the wall. I used wall putty for this step and sanded it down. After repainting the areas white, the holes were completely covered up.

Then I went to Home Depot to find the right trim to finish off the edges of the plywood shelves.


This was the best trim that I could find. It’s actually for door frames, but it was the perfect size for our shelves.

I borrowed a nail gun from our generous friends (Thanks, Brooke & Brian!) and got to work. It was my first time using a nail gun and I had a hard time getting a handle on it at first! I practiced on some scrap wood and did a better job from there.

Nail guns can be scary. But also cool.

See how the trim covers up the edge of the top shelf, while the second shelf still has the plywood edge exposed:


I’m really glad I went ahead and bought the primed trim. It cost me only a couple of bucks in total and saved me many hours in work. I mean, if I bought the unprimed trim, it probably would have taken me another year to finish this thing.


I used a plastic miter box and saw to make the cuts. The cuts weren’t perfect…


…but no worries. I covered them up with wall putty. I just stuffed it into the cracks and let it dry. Then I sanded it down for a seamless look. Here’s how it looked before painting.



Next, I had to address the large gaps between the shelves and the walls.


I grabbed a tube of caulk that had been hidden in our supplies closet, waiting and waiting for its chance at the spotlight. But procrastination bit me in the butt… as usual.


Did you know caulk expires even if you haven’t even opened it? Now you do.

Caulk is awesome at covering up small gaps.


After everything was caulked, I painted the shelves and trim and supports WHITE. Two coats covered everything up beautifully. Then I had to touch up the teal walls… and then I was done!






It’s really sad how my camera can’t capture all of its glory… Here’s another short video for a better view of the space.

We’re currently organizing all of our books on the bookshelves. It’s amazing just how much the bookshelves can hold! Once we’re done with organizing all the books and other stuff, I’ll share photos.

It feels SO good to finally check this one off the list. It was a lot of fun caulking up a storm while pregnant. And I’m not being sarcastic… I caulked during my first pregnancy, too! Other pregnant ladies might clean their kitchen floors or organize baby clothes when nesting, but apparently I caulk instead of cleaning. Sounds about right.

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A Decent Gold Spray Paint… And What I Did With It

Posted on September 12, 2013

I have this round little mirror that has been living in the garage, abandoned but not forgotten, for over four years now. A while ago, I decided to finally paint it and excitedly bought a gold spray paint. I love the Rust-Oleum line of spray paint and I was sure that it would come out great.

But no.

The mirror ended up a weird shade of green-gold. And it was flat, not shiny. What? Ugh.

I did some internet research and found that many DIYers used the Specialty Metallic spray paint, not the Universal Advanced Formula Metallic that I used.

gold spray paint

In simpler terms, the spray paint can with the shiny cap? Good. The one with the non-shiny cap? Bad.

I wanted to test out the new gold spray paint before adding another layer of paint on the mirror. I had a random plastic egg from Easter, so I sprayed that. Ahh, much better. Look at the next photo and you’ll see a clear difference between the golden egg and the mirror.

difference in gold spray paint

The golden egg is yellower and much more shiny. No green-gold ugliness here.

The story doesn’t end here. As I’ve mentioned before, once I go on a spray painting rampage, there’s no stopping me.

I had recently read this post by House*Tweaking and really liked the little side table makeover that she did. And then I found out that the side table only cost $20?! I grabbed J and drove to the nearest Target. There it was, that little side table, all pink and white, and on sale for around $17.

before side table pink

At first, I was really unsure whether to buy it or not. The top didn’t look very durable and the black version of the side table in the store was already worn out. But J grinned big and wide when she saw it and said, “LIKE!” How could I say no to that?

I plopped it down in the living room and immediately loved it. It’s very light, easy to move around, and at the perfect height to put drinks and laptops on while rocking the baby to sleep or hanging out on our sectional. Nick liked it so much that we bought another one. Since our glass coffee table was broken by J a while ago (still gotta tell that story), these two little side tables will do the important duties of holding our edibles and our gadgets.


So we loved them but the hot pink color obviously did not go with our home. We have a gold-bronze mirror in the room and I’ve been meaning to bring in another gold/bronze element to match the mirror.

It was an easy decision – let’s paint the side tables gold!

Disassembling the base from the top took maybe 30 seconds. And that was with a toddler hovering.

unassembled! or is it disassembled?

I don’t know why we still have this cardboard box that our baby’s mattress came in, but it came in handy here.

before spraying, still pink

And after a few minutes of spraying, I got this:

gold now!


gold now!

I wanted to wait before spraying the second table so I could show it to Nick and see how he liked it. I got a gold star from him, so I’ll tackle the second one soon! But the pink side table and the gold side table, side by side, makes for a nice before and after!

before and after

Our living room right now, baby included. And to be honest, I took this photo carefully so that you wouldn’t see all the primary colored toys lined up and ready to be played with on the far left side. Shh, don’t tell anyone.

living room with newly painted table

Guess who else loves the side table?

J playing with side table

She loves to move it from room to room and put her toys on it. It’s the perfect height for her to stand and play. These side tables would be the perfect addition to a play room or a kids’ room. They’re so compact and light and cute!

Thank you, gold spray paint.

good gold spray paint

What shall I paint gold next? Maybe a lamp? Wait, I have just the lamp for it. Yesssss.

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Another IKEA Hack: DIY Learning Tower!

Posted on September 10, 2013


I’ve been fascinated with the Montessori approach to raising kids for a while now, largely thanks to this inspiring blog. I’m not going to set up a floor bed (which I do think is awesome) for my kids any time soon, but some of their views on child-rearing and living at the home with children really affected how we raise our girls.

One of the tenets of Montessori is to make the home accessible to the little ones. Some Montessori parents buy this expensive Learning Tower so their kids can reach the kitchen counter and cook alongside them. I’m not rich, so when I saw this great DIY here and got measurements from this blog, we were able to hack an IKEA kitchen step into an awesome and useful learning tower for our toddler who always wants to be involved in everything we do.

I used to get up every morning and make breakfast with this little girl hanging on my legs, begging to be picked up:


This was when she was around 14-15 months.

It was getting tiresome having to either pick her up and cook with one hand or tell her no and watch her fake cry. Sometimes I resorted to putting her on a chair, but I was hyper-aware and always watching her to prevent her from falling off. Not fun.


One day, we finally got our act together and tackled the project. We started with this kitchen step from IKEA.


With the measurements from the blog scribbled down on a notepad, I grabbed the materials from Home Depot. Even though a worker there once told me they didn’t do project cuts, the guy who helped me on that day was very willing to cut all the wood for me. So nice! Always ask, sometimes they say no, but sometimes they say yes! Or maybe I looked especially helpless that day, but whatever works.


You can find the measurements in the second comment of Jenny’s post on her learning tower. These measurements turned out to not be exact for us, so we had to make a few cuts here and there to get everything to fit. Not sure why, but it all worked out in the end. If you want to attempt this yourself, I would suggest you to use these measurements as a guide for you to create your own. But without these measurements, it probably would have taken us a LOT more time to do all the measuring, so I’m really grateful to Jenny from mint in the middle!

First, we took the top part off the step. Knowing ourselves and our tendency to lose small tiny things, I put the bits in a ziplock bag and taped it to the step. Future headache averted.


Then Nick screwed in four posts to the top step.


That was the hardest part of the whole thing. It was a bit complicated trying to screw the posts from underneath, but we survived the ordeal. After that, it was fairly simple to screw in the sides. I don’t have photos of the whole step-by-step but honestly, the photo below will tell you everything you need to know. If we could do it, anyone can.


We weren’t finished yet — we needed to put in a dowel in the back to prevent her from falling out — but we weren’t sure how to do that and were too excited to see it in action.


Janella loved it immediately. She helped us “cook” by stirring our meals, “wash” dishes by wiping a wet sponge on dirty dishes, and put away cut vegetables into a big bowl.

When Dad Vita visited us during the summer, we grabbed the opportunity to ask him to help us finally complete the kitchen step.


He cut the dowel down to size and then notched out two holes on the sides. He and Nick had to push apart the two posts to slide in the dowel. When we build our second one (for Sienna), we’ll attach the dowel at the same time we drill in the posts. That’ll definitely be easier!

When it was finally all assembled, the next step was to paint it. After some extensive research on Google Images to find the perfect yellow spray paint, I chose Sun Yellow by Rustoleum. It’s a nice color, very yellow, but it is BRIGHT.


The paint has already worn out in some areas and the color is still a little too bright for my liking, so I’ll probably repaint in the near future. Plus, the kitchen step has too many surface areas to spray paint, resulting in a lot of wasted paint. I’ll try using exterior paint and a brush next time and report back how that holds up.

But for now, Janella loves it.


When I’m cooking, I can just let her climb up and work alongside me. Whenever I need her to keep away from what I’m doing, I give her some clay or some cut-up food to play with.


Sometimes she mixes real food with her play food. Fine by me!


After some practice, she learned how to climb up and down by herself. She can also slide the step around the kitchen floor.




Sorry about the dirty kitchen floor. Obviously, I was in the middle of cooking dinner when I snapped these photos and I’m a MESSY cook.

Having her stand on her step proudly as I cook is lots of fun. I admit, sometimes it can get crazy trying to put things away from her when she wants to TOUCH EVERYTHING, but I remind myself to give her a task. And then she focuses on that task and I cook in peace and the world is right again.


By the way, I’m done with the newborn haze and ready to refocus my energy on our home. To keep myself accountable, I’m going to stick to a strict blogging schedule of new posts on every Monday and Wednesday. Come back on these days to see what we’re up to around here!

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