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Wall Gone

Last weekend, that there half-wallIMG_7717

was goingIMG_2931



It took Anthony a little over an hour to demo it and now we’ve got wide open spaces in the kids’ bathroom and it is glorious.  After he demoed, he took the very front piece of drywall of that used-to-be-half-wall and patched the wall with it…so smart, my man.  The wall itself wasn’t bad and maybe some people would prefer the sort of privacy it added between the vanity and the throne but we aren’t those people.  Taking it out gives the illusion that the room is a tad bigger and also puts those 80’s spindles back where they belong…well, kind of.  We’ve got super cool plans for those that we can’t wait to share!  Until then, we’re going to keep plugging away at this bathroom over the next month – we’ve got tile floors to lay, a wall to repair and patch, the mirror to replace (an unexpected bullet on the list after someone *ahemAnthonyahem* broke it while taking off the backsplash), and a concrete countertop to make.  It’s all exciting and we can’t wait to get it all done. 

Stay tuned.

Going Deeper

Updating the hardware on cabinetry makes the biggest difference in the world.  It’s kind of amazing how something so seemingly small can make such a big impact but the truth is, it does.  We learned that when we recently swapped out the drawer pulls in our kitchen for some more modern ones and we learned it again with those in our bathroom a couple of weeks ago.   
The existing drawer pulls had 1973 stamped on the back of them so, vintage.  Good vintage?  I don’t think so.  Back when we painted our vanity, I gave them and the door hinges a coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint to hide the dirty bronze they were. 

Here’s an  old picture with a better view of the vintage things:
sep242011 001
We weren’t in a rush to swap them out because we had bigger fish to fry and, dare I mention it?  Anthony didn’t mind them, he said.  What I bet he was really thinking when he said that was that it would probably cost too much to replace them…pulls are expensive these days!  I’ve always kept an eye out for some replacements but with no luck.  Then, while I was browsing the web and found the pulls we added to the kitchen, I stumbled upon these brass pulls on eBay!  I filed them away and then pulled the trigger right after Christmas, swiping just under $16 from our bank account for them.  But get this, while I was trying to find some comparable pulls to list on this post, I found these pulls on Amazon that are only a couple of dollars more for a pack of 10 than the ones I bought off eBay.  They’re stainless steel with the brass finish too so I’m guessing they’re the same thing.  But, they’re available with prime shipping so they’re worth mentioning (mine came from China in about a week).  Both of those are much, much cheaper than actual brass pulls.  Solid brass pulls, like these from Lowe’s, would cost twice, if not three times as much.  I know that really, it’s not that much to pay a little more for pulls that you hope will adorn your cabinets for years to come but I feel like if we thought that way, we’d shell out more for everything which would obviously add up to amounts we just couldn’t do right now.  #budgetprobz

Anyway, I’m here to introduce you to the pulls and tell you about the little conundrum I had installing them.

Installing cabinet hardware has to be the easiest DIY home project there ever was.  Grab yourself a screw driver (or a drill if you’re always in a hurry like me) and go to town.  I started by swapping out the pulls on the cabinet doors.  Easy.  Took me one minute.  But then I moved to the drawers and realized that our drawer fronts were thicker than the hardware screws were long.  Blast.  The longer screws in the old hardware didn’t work in our new pulls so off I went to Lowe’s with all four kids one day.  But four kids + Lowe’s + concentration to figure out which screws I needed?  Nope.  I ended up grabbing four different types of screws to look through at home.  The kicker?  None of them worked.  Not one.  You know when you exert an enormous amount of energy to do something like going out into public with kids and then you realize that it was all a worthless tub of effort and you just want to go lean into a corner all by yourself somewhere?  Yes.  That.

So, I’m sure you can imagine the bittersweetness of the realization I had after all of this that I didn’t even need to go to Lowe’s in the first place.  I had everything I needed right at home.  Great.  She comes up with a great idea after she wastes her time.  The two cancel eachother out with a hefty sigh.

You can see how short the screw was here:
FullSizeRender (10)
My plan was to drill a hole into the drawer until I hit the actual drawer front, a hole that was large/wide enough that the head of the screw would fit down into it.  You picking up what I’m laying down?  If not, there’s more explaining coming.  (Side note:  I really, really wanted to title this post “Brass Holes” for obvious reasons but I refrained.  I’m not too good to mention the pun though…I thought it was pretty kick brass.)

The first thing I did was measure the thickness of the backside of the drawer to figure out how far in I’d have to drill before hitting that front piece.
Then I grabbed our drill and wrapped a piece of tape onto the bit (I used a bit that was a tad wider than the screw head), measuring down from the tip the exact measurement I got above.  The tape would serve to let me know when I’d drilled far enough and to STOP (in the naaaame of love) when it met the drawer front.
Places everyone:

And a’drilling I went…but only until the untaped part of the tip of the drill bit was down in the hole.
Next all I had to do was install the drawer pulls by sinking the screws down into the new holes and out into the pulls.  Here’s what those holes look like from the inside of the drawer:

After I had all of the pulls in, I replaced all of the painted, oil-rubbed bronze hinges with the same type of hinges in white (I linked to the hinges on Amazon but they’re cheaper at Lowe’s).  I was a little nervous that the white hinges would be too stark white in comparison to our creamy white cabinets but they are, coincidentally, a perfect match.  I’d of course rather have hidden hinges but that would also cost more money and extra time placing and drilling new hinges so they were out of the question.  I also could have repainted the existing hinges gold to match the brass but I liked the idea of having them blend in with the cabinets.  Painting the existing ones white wasn’t an option because, on the actual hinge part of these hinges, paint rubs off pretty easily as you open and close.  Now the hinges take a supporting role to the stars of the show, the pulls.  It’s a great relationship.  :)
IMG_8566Now I want to replace all of the brushed nickel hinges in our kitchen with white… 

As far as the pulls themselves go, they’re not quite as heavy as the ones we ordered for the kitchen but they seem really durable.  One of them came scratched/smudged though.  I tried scratching it more to see how easily the brass came off and it didn’t so, phew.
I have yet to contact the seller to see about a replacement.  It’s on my to-do list along with 500 other things.  You probably know how it goes.  Life these days, right? 

Speaking of life, bedtime is rolling in so I’m going to go grab a couple of hours of shut eye before the littlest throws her midnight party so I’m out.  Have a great weekend!

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*affiliate links included in post

The Budgetiest Bathroom

There are a couple of rooms in this casa over here that I haven’t visited via the blog in many moons.  One of those rooms is the master bathroom.  I’ve tweaked a few things here and there since the last you heard about it and I guess none of them seemed newsworthy (not like anything on this blog is though) until last week.  I added a few little somethings that made a world of a difference and it only cost me $16.  I’ll get to that in a minute.  First, let’s get up to speed by starting at the very beginning.

Here’s what the room looked like when we were touring as potential buyers:
Random 470Too much plain and too much brown, if you ask me.

Then we bit the purchase agreement, moved in, painted all the doors and trim bright white (doors were all wood-toned and trim was off-white), trashed the old mini-blinds for some faux two-inchers, and added faux flora:master bath b42Still too plain and still too brown.

Things started looking up when we scored some really cheap (but quality) ceramic tile at Dirt Cheap to replace the rubbery-smelling peel-and-stick tiles with, painted the vanity and countertops, added a faux shade, and stenciled that wall:
And then the last you heard about it was 2012.  Since then, it’s changed even more:
One little thing that’s changed that I feel like has made huge difference are the drawer pulls!  That update strikes again!  And for only $16!  I mentioned back in this kitchen post that I was eyeing some brass bar pulls for the bathroom and I finally grabbed them a few weeks ago and installed them last week.  I’ll have all the details on those in a separate post but for now, what a difference, right?  It’s the little things, I tell ya.

And speaking of little, the $$ we’ve sunk into this room is just that.  So far, our grand total is lingering at around $120 (including the buying and selling of the mirrors).  That’s with paint, flooring, the whole shebang.  I know it’s nothing extraordinary or magazine-worthy but I’d like to think it’s a pretty good ‘after’ or ‘so far’ considering the money we haven’t spent on it.  And maybe I’m just delusional which is likely but either way… 

I snagged those cool geometric mirrors on super clearance at Old Time Pottery for 75% off making them $17 each and sold our old mirrors for $50, coming up $15 on top. 
Their only downfall is their color.  Yes, they will get painted eventually.  The big mirror in between them is the mirror that belongs to the thrifted dresser we semi-recently found for the girls’ room.  The dresser doesn’t need it so I had an idea to set it on top of our counter and loved it at first sight.  Our countertop is crazy long and we needed something to break up that big expanse of wall and this does the trick.

Speaking of the countertop, because it’s so freakishly long, it’s so hard to style.  I think what I need is to make a big, long but shallow tray maybe?  And fill it with some knick-knacks…candles?  Apothecary jars?  Someday I’ll get on that.  For now, the big geometric vase actually belongs to a thrifted light fixture ($15) I took apart.
FullSizeRender (8)
I stuck a candle in it and called it a win a few weeks ago.  It’s crazy how small it look in the bathroom pictures though because it’s actually pretty big…that’s how long our countertop is.  It dwarfs everything!

Moving over, I’ve got this vase that a friend handed down to us filled with black beans at the bottom (though I’m thinking I need to swap those out for coffee beans, yes?) that I set all of my quick grabs in.
There’s also this magazine basket that I grabbed from a local resale site for $5, in which we store paper de toilet:IMG_8559 It’s bamboo with a woven panel around the outside.  I had to remove an inner panel so that the tp rolls would fit.  Here’s what it looked like before:
IMG_3306Removing that panel was super easy to do; it just involved removing a couple of small nails.  I love the natural texture the basket adds to the space – something I’ve been trying to incorporate more of into our house with wood tones and air purifying plants.

If we were staying in this house for the long haul, I’d put a skylight in this bathroom to add more light.  The window to this room opens to the screened-in porch so it’s fairly dark in here throughout the day.  I’ve thought about combatting that by painting the walls white but just haven’t gotten around to actually doing that yet.  If and when I do, I really want to add a light or medium gray stencil to the walls, reconfigure the sconces (wait until you see my plans for those!), swap out the boob light for a hanging pendant, and we really want to make a concrete countertop to replace the painted laminate that hasn’t held up as well as we would have liked.  So. Much. To. Do.  But so much fun.  I swear, this is like therapy to me.  Some of you probably think I’m crazy.  ;)
Anyway, the whole point of writing a whole post on decorating a bathroom is for my usual reason – to prove that decorating doesn’t have to be expensive.  Pretty is possible on a budget.  :)

I’ll be back next week with all the details on those drawer pulls!  Until then, have a great rest of the weekend! 

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120 dollar bathroom remodel

DIY Plywood Countertop

The laundry room.  The phrase doesn’t exactly bring up feelings of love and longing, does it?  No, for most it hearkens feelings of being buried in mountains of cotton and polyester and lost in seas of unmatched socks.  Or maybe it’s the monotony of it all that comes up – wash this, fold it, put it away, and two days later, there it is again.  Times that by a hundred and repeat it by a thousand and four and you’ve piled a nice slice of semi-despair onto your plate.  And maybe you’re one of those people who doesn’t mind doing laundry (which also means you probably don’t have kids) so I guess maybe you can’t relate and that’s ok.  Personally, I’d rather do laundry than dishes so I guess I’ll keep my cup half full with that.  But, there’s hope.  We have recently discovered that a pretty laundry space makes doing laundry a little, a little less of a chore.  You don’t even have to spend a lot to spruce up your space.  Last weekend we crossed off something that’s been our our to-do list for years – crafting a new wood countertop to be placed over the washer and dryer.  We love how it turned out and we’ve been shaking our heads at how long we waited to do it because of how easy it was.  Of course I typed up all the details for ya in case you want to make one of your very own.

Before we pull up to the new top though, let’s do a little refresher.  Here’s the laundry corner of our laundry room, sans any sort of countertop:

And here is a glimpse (because it’s the best picture I could find) of our temporary countertop – the middle of a door we cut out last year which just happened to be as wide as our side-by-side washer and drying but six inches short of their depth.
IMG_8072 Up until last weekend, it didn’t seem like a bad arrangement.  Sure it was ugly…I was hoping to cover it with some marble contact paper one of these days.  But, it gave us a surface on which to treat stains and set stuff so I was all for it.  (I vaguely remember Anthony giving me a stink-eye when I told him to “lay that there piece of wood you just cut out of that there door on top of the washer and dryer.”)  Now that we have our new and improved version in place though, the old door slab is laughable.

IMG_8508We have successfully upped the functional and aesthetic anty all for just under $40.  Read that as WIN and WIN.

I am so very excited to share it with you because it really was so simple to do!  Your front-loaders will be begging for a top after you read this and you will too.

Let’s dive in, shall we?

First, get the measurements of the area you want to cover.  Maybe it’s just your washer and dryer or maybe you want to go all the way to the wall, like we did.  The bigger, the better in this case.

Now, write those measurements down and take them to your favorite hardware store.  We went to Lowe’s because it’s closest to our house.  Stroll over to all of the plywoods and grab yourself a nice sheet of premium birch, 1/2 inch thick.  Of course, you can go up in expense and grab a different premium plywood depending on which has the look you want.  I wanted the lightest plywood we could find so birch it was but there’s oak and pine too.  I don’t know much about different types of wood besides the fact that they’re different colors, but the oak was $15 more expensive than the birch…maybe it’s stronger?  Takes stain better?  I don’t know.  All I know is that $35 is lower than $50 and the $35 birch looked fantastic, was the lighter color we wanted, and was perfect for what we needed it to do.

Take the plywood over to the wood-cutting area, hand over your measurements to the wood-cutter dude (or lady!), and have him/her cut it to the size you need.  You could check out here and go home to start the install or you could do what we did to make the countertop look thicker.  Like I noted above, the plywood we grabbed was birch, 1/2 inch thick.  Great, but we wanted our countertop to look a little thicker than 1/2 inch.  It’s all personal preference though.  Of course we could’ve just grabbed two pieces of plywood but then we’d have had to shell out another $35 and would’ve had a ton of wasted pieces post-cutting.  Instead, we had the wood-cutter slice the long piece that was left after cutting into two equal long pieces.  This would allow us to beef up the thickness of our countertop with some strategic placement. 

Did I lose you?  Yeah, I’m losing myself.  Sometimes pictures just explain better.

Here’s the underside of our countertop:
IMG_2416You can see the full piece on the bottom (which is actually the top) and then the two pieces on top of that full piece (that are actually the bottom pieces) are the extra length of the plywood that was cut off and cut in half again length-wise.  We glued one piece along the front of our countertop, giving the thicker look from the front, and one piece towards the back to balance everything out.  Does that make sense?  I hope so.

To attach the two strips of plywood to the underside of the countertop, we used Elmer’s wood glue:
Anthony ran several beads of glue along the two narrow pieces of plywood, stuck them on, and then made sure they stayed put by placing a bunch of his weights on top.
IMG_2393We left the weights on overnight and by morning, we were ready for the next step.

Because the left side of the plywood was going to extend to the wall, Anthony grabbed a scrap piece of 1 x 2 and screwed it into the studs along the left wall so that that side of the counter would sit on it.
Also, so that the countertop didn’t sit directly on top of our washer and dryer, I cut up a foam kitchen mat I found at Dirt Cheap ($1) several years ago for it to rest on (the old countertop sat on top of the mat too).  You can find foam kitchen mats like the one I used at Walmart and Target for fairly cheap or the multi-purpose foam sold at fabric and craft stores would work too.
IMG_2418We just made sure the foam mat pieces aligned with the strips of plywood on the underside of the countertop.

Later, we realized we didn’t like how that 1 x 2 support looked so we cut it back so that it couldn’t be seen from the front and then painted it the color of the wall for added camoflage.  Now it looks like the countertop is floating which is uber cool!
Originally, I just wanted to slap some poly on top of the plywood to keep the color light but Anthony liked the idea of staining it darker more.  So, I tested both ideas on the scrap piece.
IMG_2434Without stain, it did match the color of our tiles a little too much making a little contrast sound better so I swayed to Anthony’s side.  Out came the small can of ‘Special Walnut’ stain I used on this table and this table.  I like the ‘Special Walnut’ because it’s not too red or orange and almost leans toward having a gray hue.

I’ve never stained anything this big before…actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever stained anything wood before so I was a little nervous.  Apply and wipe off.  That’s what I’ve seen other people do and that’s what the directions said.  How hard could it be, right?  Well, here’s what I learned about staining a big ‘ole piece of wood – you’ve got to stain in sections.  Brush on the stain in the direction of the wood grain, let it soak in (I only let it soak in for about a minute because I wanted a lighter look), and wipe off.  Then do the same thing with the next section.  After I was done with that, the section I started with was lighter than everthing else so I made a second pass on it and then it was darker than everything else.  *sigh*  Grade?  D+  I think I’ll stick with my paint and paint brush.
IMG_2420It wasn’t exactly what I had pictured in my head.  It was too dark (however, Anthony loved it) and too streaky.  To lighten some of the darker parts, I took our sander with fine sandpaper to it and, while it didn’t lighten them much, it did make things A LOT less streaky.  (Just a note, some of the wood glue we used to attach the two pieces of plywood came oozing out the front.  We wiped it as it oozed but there was still residue leftover that dried and did not take stain so the front edge of the countertop is really splotchy.  Right now I’m not too concerned but later down the road, I might grab some matching brown paint and dab it on to hide the glue a little better.) 

After sanding, I brushed on two coats of polyurethane with a satin finish, letting the first coat dry competely before adding the second.  I had a hard time deciding whether to use polyurethane or polycrylic.  Polyurethane yellows over time a lot more than polycrylic and I wanted to stay far away from that.  But, I think polyurethane is a little more durable and, for a countertop that will probably see it’s fair share of detergent spills and damp clothes, I wanted good protection.  So, I hoped and prayed the yellowing wouldn’t be noticeable and went ahead with the polyurethane.

So far, there’s no yellowing to be seen.


I also sanded the only exposed corner down so that it was rounded vs. the pointed edge waiting for a toddler head to come crashing into it.

Here’s what the countertop looks like from the side:
You can definitely tell it’s not one, solid, 1” thick piece of wood BUT in our case, that’s a-ok because this side isn’t visible unless you’re getting cozy with the waterheater (behind the bifold) or playing hide-and-go-seek, so we don’t care.  Anthony offered to cut a small piece of the scrap plywood to stick in that spot on the side to make it look one inch thick all around but I figured it was pointless. 

Next on the list for this room – getting rid of that blah, crooked light fixture and adding some wallpaper to the wall above the countertop.
I found this little chandelier at Goodwill a few years ago that will be going up in this room but I’m having a really hard time deciding what color to make it.
IMG_2387                                                                          (Special thanks to the model.)
My heart wants to sand it down to a brushed, more modern brass but my head is telling me to paint it silver to match the chandelier in the dining nook, one room away, so that everything flows.  What say you?  (Keep in mind that our plan is to sell this house in the next year or two so I have potential buyers to please.)

And, wallpaper.  I’m having a really hard time deciding that too.  Right now I’m leaning toward #1, maybe so I can get my gold in someway or another if it’s not in the light fixture.
wallpaperThese are all from Spoonflower – I’ve got a gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket.  Opinions please!  If I didn’t have the gift certificate, I’d probably grab a stencil or free hand some dots or something but I’m really dying to try my hand at wallpaper.  Stay tuned.

We’ve only had the countertop in place for a couple of days and it’s been so amazing.  I love the extra space!  If you don’t have a top atop your washer and dryer, you’ve gotta get one!  

If you take on this project, let me know!  I’d love to see!  And seriously, I’d love your input on the light fixture and the wallpaper.  I can’t do this on my own! Confused smile

Have a great weekend!

*affiliate link included in post

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Check out our other laundry room projects:
Anthropologie-inspired knobs
painted and stamped storage cabinet
toothpicked mirror
hanging ironing board
welcome home art

diy floating countertop

Friday Smorgasboard

It’s been awhile since I’ve just sat down without a tutorial mission to accomplish so let’s just go with the TGIF flow and shoot the breeze today, yes?  I mean, maybe we are basking in unfinished projects territory over here so the only finished thing I have for you are snippets?  Yep, yep, and yep. 

First and foremost, have you been following the miracle of little Joy?  Oh the glory of God!

We spent the week after Christmas trying to nurse the kids back to health from the land of RSV and ear infections…so fun.  ‘Tis the season, I guess.  Easy isn’t a word that comes to mind when I think back on that week but I can tell you that a few things that made it easier are a humidifier and our NoseFrida.  My best friend got the girls this humidifier last year and, oh my gosh, can you love something like that?  Apparently you can because I’ve fallen hard.  I’ve used my fair share of humidifiers and this is by far the easiest to operate.  By far people.  You fill it up (and drop in some essential oils if that’s your jam), set the lid on, and let it go.  When you’re done, you dump it, wipe it out, and you’re golden.  And bonus, it lights up with all these mesmerizing colors.  I highly recommend.  (On the other hand, we bought this humidifier a few years ago and, while it does what it’s supposed to do, clean up is a pain in the rear.  Thumbs down.)  And the NoseFrida…I’ve told you about this before and how great it is.  Looks gross.  Works amazingly.  It’s a must-have.

I know we are way past fall but I’ve had Lauren’s leaf art idea on my list of thing to share with you for months now.  Grab an old book, a read newspaper, or a magazine article and leaf it hanging.  ;)  Put it on your to-make list for next fall!

In the market for a rug?  I was checking out options on Amazon a few weeks ago and stumbled across these colorful beauties.  $130 for an 8 x 10?  Not too shabby!  (A few of the colors have an additional $20 shipping charge but still, that’s not bad!)  They’re pretty bold so they’d be the star in a room.  I’m eyeing the pink for the girls room.  Usually I’d be skeptical on the quality at that price but the ratings are great!

I felt super proud of myself (and even impressed chef Anthony) when I figured out an easy way to toast buns for our grilled chicken and pineapple sandwiches this week.
IMG_2373IMG_2374See them atop the toaster, turn on the toaster, and let the heat do what it does.  Easy peasy.  #hotAcrossbuns

Last but not least, you’ve read our rave review about eMeals.  Anthony calls it life-changing and I have to agree.  To add to the life-changing status, possibly elevating it to mind-blown status – Walmart grocery pick-up.  I’ve used it twice now and I am hooked.  Basically I have someone else planning my meals for me (for which we pay $5 a month) and someone else doing my grocery shopping (for free).  Before Walmart grocery, I’d either have to spend the hour or so of coveted alone time I get during the week in the grocery store…not really the best use of alone-time I can think of and quite possibly, the worst.  It was either that or running through with the kids and the limo cart and you just never know what’ll happen then because lots of little kids + one mom + public places usually = chaos.  But now, I grab the grocery list eMeals sends, plug everything into Walmart grocery (we usually use six of the seven meals, swapping out one for a staple meal) plus stuff we need for breakfast, lunch, and snacks, and drive ten minutes to have all of it brought out to my car.  Fuss-free.  So, if you’re anything like me and loathe meal planning or hate spending me-time in a grocery store when a thrift store would be so much more gratifying, you should try both of these things.  You can try eMeals free for two weeks through our referral link here and check to see if Walmart grocery pick-up is an option in your area through our refferal link here.  You won’t regret it.  Pinky swear.  (Also, I could write for sentences and sentences but I should mention that we just went over our monthly budget from last year and we spent, on average, $450 a month in groceries last year.  Maybe that’s high to you and maybe that’s low but to us, that’s pretty dang good.  Every meal we make from eMeals costs us about $10, not per person, for the entire family.  AND, 75% of the time we have leftovers to convert to the next day’s lunch.  Ok, I’ll shut up now.)

Any fun weekend plans?  It’s going to be in the 70’s and sunny here so we are going to bask in that and dig into some projects.  Anthony has Monday off so right now I’m staring down a great weekend and I kinda love it!

Peace out! Hot smile

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*There are affiliate links included in this post  I hope you don’t mind!  I don’t write sponsored posts or review products I’ve never bought first anymore in the name of total transparency, so including links to items I’ve purchased or am thinking about purchasing is the only way I generate a commission.  Thank you for your support!
*If you use our eMeals referral link, we’ll get a month free so thank you in advance if you do!  If you use our Walmart grocery pick-up referral link, we’ll get $10 off our next order and SO WILL YOU!  Happy notgrocery shopping!