We bought another house!

Well, sort of. Let us explain…

Last week I was browsing Zillow and stumbled upon a house for sale down the street from where our new home is being built. We had driven past this home before but never gave it a second glance because it’s on a busy road and not exactly eye catching.

However, the price was hard to ignore, and as soon as I pulled up the photos I had to call Lucas into the room…

Well hello there beautiful archway. If you know me well, you know my obsession for arches runs deep. Especially fancy ones like this. But of course, I’m not about to buy a house solely because of an archway, so we continued to do some digging. And we liked what we saw: a brand new roof and A/C, a large backyard, new paint, beautiful original windows, and tons of potential…

We ran the numbers and did a property evaluation, and it wasn’t a home run, but the home had been sitting on the market for months so we knew there was room for negotiation. At very the least, it was worth taking a look!

We called up the agent, who happened to be the owner of the property (a great thing) and met her there that afternoon. She and her husband purchased the property many years ago and own it outright. They are in the process of getting rid of all of their rentals, and they weren’t doing much to try and sell this place… it had just been sitting there vacant for months, as if it were an afterthought amongst their massive portfolio.

After leaving the house, Lucas and I both knew we had something here. There was just one small problem: WE HAVE NO MONEY TO BUY IT. Every dollar we’ve saved is allocated towards building our new home. So… how can we possibly get this place? Time to get creative.

This is where months of reading, listening, and studying real estate pay off. As soon as our new house is built, we’ll be able to refinance and pull out a ton of equity (a lot more than we put into it)—but that won’t happen until maybe January or February 2019. So we’re out of luck until then, right?

Enter the lease option agreement. We sign a contract up front agreeing to lease (rent) the property for a period of time, and then we’ll have the option to purchase it at a pre-negotiated price. A lease purchase works the same way, except you are committing to purchase rather than simply having the option. We initially proposed a lease purchase agreement, but that leaves the seller at risk of foreclosure so they opted for the lease option instead.

Either way, we are 100% committing to the purchase at the end of our lease since we plan to renovate the property while we’re living in it. This is the most exciting part of the whole deal… we’ll finally be able to start working on projects again! We can take our time and slowly renovate over the next 6-8 months while our new home is being built, and the current owners are cool with it.

Since our budget is so limited, this means a ton of DIY. I’ll admit, last year I was burned out after years of constant DIY and didn’t think I’d ever want to jump back into it. But this new house has reignited the flame and I am so ready to get my hands dirty. It also helps to have a partner who is even more excited and on board with all of my crazy ideas.

The plan is to renovate the home while we’re living in it and turn it into an AirBnb as soon as we move into our new house. This requires a different strategy than renovating it to flip or to use as a long term rental—we get to be creative and over the top, which is music to my ears after this long design drought!

This came at the perfect time, because our apartment lease is up next month (no more termites!) and we would have had to sign another year lease (no thank you). Now we get to move in and start tackling projects right away. Perhaps the biggest benefit is the homes location—we can walk to our new house and check on the build progress! After spending several months commuting 3.5 hours each way (twice a week) to the Cottage House Flip, I learned that location is the most important factor. It’ll also make managing it as an AirBnb rental so much easier. Convenience is everything, and time is money! And speaking of money—even with all the inherent benefits of this house, the numbers still had to work as an investment property. We were able to talk them down 22% off their asking price, which is pretty rare in this market.

Finding this house feels like the missing piece to our puzzle. We’ve been struggling these past couple months—stuck in limbo with no control over the stalled progress of our two properties, facing another year in this cramped apartment, and no glimmer of light at the end of our tunnel. Now it feels like we’re entering a new chapter, one where we finally have some control and can put in the work.

On that subject—we’ve been in Tampa for five months now, which has given us enough time to settle in, learn the market, and get a sense of the time commitment and daily operations DreamStone Homes. We’ve decided that now is the right time for Lucas to get back into his sales career, while I help with project management and focus on my interior design business (which has been growing!) Real estate will always be a priority and we’re doing everything we can to make it grow, but with our situation, it just isn’t a full time commitment (especially with two of us).

There’s much less uncertainty in our lives now, and we finally have a game plan we feel good about. Of course, we’re no strangers to the fact that we can only control so much, and life has a way of shaking things up every now and then. We’re just along for the ride 🙂

I have so many ideas to transform this house, and I can’t wait to document them here! We’ll be moving in mid July, but I’ll be sharing a full “Before Tour” + video with all the details shortly. There’s so many decisions that need to be made with this place, and we’ll need your help!

Can we start with this situation in the backyard? We can’t figure out the intended purpose. It’s too small for a seating area (and there’s already a large seating area to the right). We’re thinking maybe filling it with sand and setting up horseshoes? A big slip ‘n slide? Mini putt course? Bowling? We want it to serve some sort of game/entertainment purpose. Let’s hear your (budget-friendly) ideas!

PS: As of today, there’s finally been major progress on the other two properties! Updates on those soon…


DreamStone Update

I feel like it has been way too long since we’ve had a good heart to heart.

Two weeks ago, we gave a vlog update if you missed it:

But in our unpredictable world, a lot changes in two weeks!

We’ve been living here for five months, and life sure doesn’t look the way we thought it would by now. There have been many difficult moments. A lot of sleepless nights. But we’ve been learning to take it all in stride and roll with the punches, focusing on our goals and pushing forward.

Let’s get right to the latest news…

The Heights House:

Nearly three months ago it caught on fire, and it has been sitting vacant ever since. We spent the first month or so working with insurance, which (surprise!) was an easier process than we expected. We came to a fair agreement and they’ve already given us a portion of the settlement. We’re waiting on the rest (they definitely take their time) but it seems like the rest should go smoothly (famous last words, right?).

After insurance was worked out, we had a big decision to make: repair or build new? We ran through each scenario and crunched the numbers, and ultimately decided that it makes more sense to demolish the existing home and build new.

I can’t explain the level of excitement around this new house—I never thought I’d be sitting down with an architect, designing my own home—I’ve dreamed about this for years and it’s actually coming true. Well, sort of. Insurance won’t cover a brand new house, of course, so we’ve had to curb our expectations and make some sacrifices. We’re pinching pennies and saving every dollar to make this happen (all while saving for our wedding in September!)

Beyond just wanting to build our dream home, it’s a strategic investment because the neighborhood will more than support the new value (this is why it’s a good idea to buy the worst house in the best neighborhood). We should end up getting a 200-250% return on our money after it’s all said and done. I’ll talk more details about how this all works in a future post.

Our drawings are supposed to be finalized with the architect in the next week, and I can’t WAIT to show you as soon as we get them back. For now, visualize with me for a moment—it all started with this charming Tudor inspiration:

Which we ended up merging with this classic French country style:

 

You guys, it’s going to be amazing. Stay tuned.

The 5 Unit Bungalow:

Talk about testing our patience… we found this house back in December, before we moved to Florida. Right after landing, we put in an offer and went under contract. It has now been five months, and we just found out last week that the contract has been pushed back another 30 days!

This deal has been a headache from the start. It took weeks for the listing agent to even show us the units after we already had a signed contract, which pushed back the original 45 day escrow. We had a bank lined up and were assured that everything would be approved and cleared in time. Several more weeks went by as the seller found more reasons to delay the closing, and in April we were finally ready to close! The week before we planned to sign the papers, we received an email from the bank stating our loan was denied. Panicked and confused, we spent the next week trying to figure out a solution and even lining up a hard money lender as a last resort. Long story short, we will never trust or work with a large national bank on investment deals again.

Just when we thought the deal was going to fall apart and we had wasted months and thousands of dollars, the title company informed us that they couldn’t clear the title because there was a lien against the seller (on another property he owned). They asked for another 30 day extension, which we gladly accepted, because it meant we had time to find another bank!

This time we looked for the smallest local bank we could find, and found one with just one branch. A couple days later we sat down with the president, showed him the numbers and told him our story, and two days later we were approved—just like that. It was our proudest moment yet.

With three weeks left until closing, we made all the preparations to begin our new role of becoming landlords, and couldn’t wait to finally get started.

But of course, another setback. A couple weeks ago we found out that the lien still hasn’t been taken care of, and they needed to extend the contract another 30 days. Apparently there are several parties involved (including the court system and the city office) and they aren’t sure how long it’s going to take.

So here we are, five months later, still patiently waiting. Our original plan was to renovate some of the units right away but that is no longer in the cards—at least not for this year, as we need to save our money for the new build. We’re just hoping we’ll actually close on this place in 2018.

So that’s what we’ve been dealing with lately. On one hand it’s incredibly exciting and liberating knowing that we’re in control and building this business while designing the life we want to live. But it’s also scary because our future is riding on every decision, and the responsibility falls entirely on us. If we fail, there’s no hiding and there’s no backup plan. We must pick up the pieces and move forward—and that’s what we’ve been trying to do over these past couple months.

We took a leap of faith by moving across the country, and there hasn’t been a day that’s gone by without uncertainty. Real estate investing is not for the fainthearted, and you can’t be afraid to take risks—especially to be successful in today’s ultra competitive market. Fortunately, Lucas and I love a good challenge and don’t like to play it safe. Screw comfort zones.

We’ve learned how quickly things can change in an instant. One moment you’re drifting off to sleep, and the next you’re standing in front of your house engulfed in flames. One week you are preparing to close on your first investment property, the next you’re denied by the bank with no backup plan. One month you spend rethinking your entire investment and life strategy, and suddenly a house comes on the market that changes everything.

^Yep, another major turn of events yesterday. We found an opportunity that may be a game changer, and would completely turn this next year around for us. You may have caught some of it on my instagram stories, but we’re less than 24 hours into it now and things are happening rapidly. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop—follow me on Insta for the latest updates!

This rollercoaster of ups and downs is just getting started, and we have no plans to get off. We appreciate your patience through the bumpy start, and we’re incredibly thankful to have you on this ride with us!


The Best Affordable Mirrors Online

Lately I’ve had this obsession with mirrors, as evidenced in my latest DIY antique mirror tutorial and recent mirror makeovers in my Instagram Stories. It all started at the beginning of the One Room Challenge. I had chosen these gorgeous vintage style mirrors to hang on either side of the bed…

And a couple weeks later, I was so bummed to find out that they weren’t available until September (if you’re not in a hurry, you should grab one!)

That left me scrambling to find a suitable alternative, so I combed the internet looking for new options. This is where the ‘Mirror Madness’ began. You guys, there are so many great affordable options out there! I hadn’t shopped online in over a year, but wow, times have changed.

I got sucked into Bellacor and spent hours going through all 3,642 mirrors (yes, every single one) and soon enough, I had narrowed it down to a small library of favorites. From those I chose a suitable replacement, which I then antiqued, and they turned out pretty nice!

And now that I’ve scoured the web to find the best and most affordable mirror options, let me save you hours of time with this guide, grouped by price range. Note that all of these were found on Bellacor for simplicity’s sake (this post is not sponsored by them), but many of the same ones are offered elsewhere online as well (I’ve found that they’re usually around the same price, but let me know if you find a better deal and I’ll update the post!)

One // I used this same mirror (in a lighter finish) a few years ago inside a custom wardrobe vanity. I’ve always loved this mirror, and it comes in a few different finishes.

Two // This one is nearly 40″ tall and a great bang for your buck. I love the lantern look and can also see it working well with a coastal/lake style.

Three // I’m a huge fan of these ornate stone frames. Take me back to Europe!

Four // I love the unique shape of this one along with the carved detailing.

Five // Another gorgeous antiqued mirror. And only $39!

Six // Love how the frame is only on the top and bottom, very French (there’s a lot more like these on Bellacor).

Seven // A classic gilded oval vintage mirror with sweet bow detailing. You can’t go wrong!

Eight // These are perfect for a rustic or nautical/coastal theme without overdoing it. They work great above a bathroom vanity.

Nine // Similar to #8 but with a more modern twist. Another great one for the bathroom or above night stands.

One // I can’t get enough arches, and this mirror is no exception. It’s super versatile and will look great anywhere (so affordable too!)

Two // Such a pretty feminine shape, geometric but still soft. Looks great displayed in a group as a ‘statement wall’.

Three // Simple and elegant with the thin frame. These would be great in a bathroom (also available in other finishes).

Four // Gorgeous coloring and pretty detailing. It feels very royal without being too fancy.

Five // Gorgeous shape! These would be quite glamorous and romantic above night stands.

Six // Loving the long, slender profile and Moroccan vibe here.

Seven // One of my favorite mirror shapes. A European classic.

Eight // This one has a sweet, playful look and I can see it in a childs’ room or bathroom.

Nine // A unique mix of rustic farmhouse and gothic European styles. It would look great anywhere!

One // Similar to #7 from the Under $200 list, but this one has a rustic chalky white antique finish.

Two // One of the best deals on floor mirrors you’ll find, with a built-in antique mirror finish. I was so close to getting these for our bedroom instead!

Three // This beautiful French style mirror was another close runner up. I can’t get enough of that elegant shape!

Four // That basilica arch design gets me every time. Made from wood too and 4′ tall. Just gorgeous.

Five // These were the ones I chose for our bedroom! Beautiful shape and can be used anywhere.

Six // I’ve never met an arch I didn’t like, and this one has a unique twist!

Seven // The scale and simplicity of this one is gorgeous! Reminds me of an Indian palace.

Eight // The detailing on this is so fun and cute. I love the shield shape, the curls—there’s nothing out there like it.

Nine // A modern, classy and sophisticated option. These would be lovely in a bathroom.

 

Tell me, did any of these catch your eye? What are your favorites? Keep in mind that these are just the most affordable mirrors—there are some seriously swoon-worthy mirrors once you go over $300—definitely worth a look if you’re in the market for a show stopper. I tried to choose mirrors that you don’t see every day on Pinterest/instagram—unique styles or shapes that are classic and haven’t been overdone. Hopefully you’ve found a few new favorites in this list!

Speaking of new mirrors… I snagged these babies for $20 each on OfferUp this past weekend…

And after a little DIY mirror magic, here they are!

I used Maison Blanche’s Oil Rubbed Bronze and Antique Gold Organza wax for the frames. This has become my new favorite hobby—now can you see why I have the “mirror madness”? 😉

Catch me on Instagram and Facebook for more updates and my latest DIY projects. Hopefully I’ll be back next time with some long overdue house updates!


How to Antique a Mirror Tutorial

A lot of you have been asking for a tutorial on this technique, dating back to last year at the Cottage House Flip when I first tried it out on this ReStore mirror…

Now that I’ve done a few more and have a good process down, I’m finally ready to share it step by step! Watch below to see how it’s done:

And just because I love you guys so much, I’m breaking it down via written tutorial as well 🙂

You may remember seeing these lovelies in the One Room Challenge reveal

And here’s the latest addition!

If you Google how to antique a mirror, you’ll find a variety of methods, many of which have you use muriatic acid which is a harsh chemical. Save yourself the trouble—regular bleach and water work just fine!

It’s important to note that every time you do this your results will be a little different…  it’s just as much of an art as it is a science, and you have to let go of trying to make it ‘perfect’. Practice will certainly help though!

I took photos off this process for the last three mirrors you saw above, so I’ll share parts from each so you can see how they all turned out (spoiler alert: they were all a bit different).

Along with your mirror, here are the supplies you’ll need:

  1. Bleach
  2. Spray bottle
  3. Paper towels
  4. Paint stripper (CitriStrip orange gel is safe for indoor use and it’s the only one I recommend!)
  5. Black or dark gray paint (spray paint is best)
  6. Optional gold/bronze paint
  7. Putty knife
  8. Paint brush
  9. Sponge

I highly recommend trying this out on a spare mirror first. It takes some practice to get the technique down!

For the One Room Challenge, I ordered two of these mirrors from Bellacor with the intention to antique them:

 

And here’s my latest mirror I picked up for $30 off Craigslist:

I removed my mirrors from their frames, but you don’t necessarily have to do that if it makes more sense to leave them in. You do need access to the entire back of the mirror though, which is where you’ll be doing all the work.

On the back of the mirror you’ll see a painted layer, which is usually gray in color. Underneath that is the reflective surface, and finally your glass. You’ll need to remove the back layer of paint to get to the reflective surface, and gel stripper is the way to go:

Brush it on as thick and evenly as possible—you want the paint to come up nice and smoothly.

I left my CitriStrip on for nearly an hour, but all mirrors are different. These ones had a super thick painted layer that needed extra time.

Next comes the trickiest and most important part of the entire process—removing that first layer. You want to scrape it off completely without breaking through the thin reflective surface below. It’s a very delicate balance.

On my first mirror, I didn’t press too hard with the putty knife in fear of leaving scratch marks. I ended up having to apply a second coat of Citristrip which is dangerous, because it can start to eat away at the reflective surface.

On my latest mirror, I got it all up on the first attempt but scraped too hard, leaving scratch marks:

I’ll be honest, this part is not fun and it’s quite messy. But if you get it right, it’s smooth sailing from here.

Fine steel wool can help remove some of the stubborn paint, but again be careful not to rub too hard. Here you can see the back of the first mirror with some of the gray paint still there. The bleach water won’t penetrate through this surface, so if you want yours very lightly aged then you can leave some of the gray paint. I like having a blank canvas to work with though so I can control where all of the age spots are. There’s a lot of different ways to do it!

After my first mirror was all cleaned up, I mixed 1/4 parts bleach with 3/4 parts water in a spray bottle, and began misting the back of the mirror.

I like to focus more on the edges which is where mirrors will naturally age. Use a finer mist for an even appearance, and throw in some larger droplets for random spots of heavier aging.

This is the fun part, where you get to watch it magically transform before your eyes! Within minutes the spots will begin to darken (this is still the back of the mirror).

Use a sponge to blot some of the areas for a more natural look. You can experiment here to find the technique you like.

The longer you leave the bleach water on, the more it will eat away at the reflective coating and the darker your age spots will be. Do a little bit at a time, flipping the mirror over frequently to monitor your progress. Keep in mind that you can always add more, but you can never bring the reflective part back!

Hold your mirror up to a light source to get a closer look:

You can see where the bleach has dissolved the mirror down to the clear glass, and those are where the aged areas will be. Important: Make sure to pat down the back before flipping it over so the bleach doesn’t drip and create run lines —not a good look! That happened to the mirror above and I had to remove larger sections of mirror to get rid of it. It ended up being more distressed than I wanted. Here’s how that same mirror looked against a background (the dark spots are the clear glass):

If you remove too much mirror by accident, you can minimize the damage by applying a “mirror effect” spray paint to the back. There is no paint out there that can mimic the reflective qualities of a real mirror, but you can at least get to a nickel color. That’s what I did on my first attempt after removing almost all of the mirror finish by accident:

I still think it turned out pretty nice—and FYI, that spray paint is what you would use for doing this technique on a piece of glass instead of a mirror. It’s just a different look!

After realizing I had removed a bit too much from the first Bellacor mirror, I took my time with the second and focused on the edges, using a lighter mist towards the center:

The gold surface on the back of the mirror is so pretty, you could even just use this as the front side if you wanted!

Here’s how it looked after a few minutes. Try spraying the bleach water and leaving some areas as alone while dabbing other parts up with a sponge right away for different effects.

Once you are happy with the level of distressing, it’s time to turn it back over for paint.

You can use gray or black paint here, but I love the way gold tones look. I covered the back in Maison Blanche’s Organza in Old Penny, which is a shimmery wax coat that gives it a realistic rusty look.

If you aren’t using spray paint, you want to make sure to avoid brush strokes so I dabbed on the paint:

You can apply lighter coverage in some areas and come back with a second coat of black or another color for added dimension and depth. Or even just leave it as is and let some of the clear glass show through—it all depends on the look you’re going for!

I was really pleased with the results of the second mirror:

And here it is back in the frame:

The Old Penny organza ended up being a perfect match to the rusty colored frame. If you have a mirror frame with metal in it, try to match the finish if you can.

On the Craigslist mirror, I liked the gold frame but wanted to tone it down a bit. I applied a mix of Oil Rubbed Bronze and Antique Gold Organza (both from Maison Blanche) and gave it a light distressing.

I also applied some of the Oil Rubbed Bronze organza to the backside of the mirror. And here’s how it turned out…

Love that arch.

I originally bought this mirror for the entryway of our Heights House, and now that we’ve redesigned the home I’m not sure where to put it.

I’m considering selling it… but it’s just so gorgeous!

Although, used mirrors are cheap and plentiful online so I can easily recreate this. Maybe I can start selling them… they’re more fun to DIY than painting furniture!

Have you ever antiqued a mirror? If you have any tips, please do share in the comments! There’s always room for improvement, and hopefully with practice the results will become a little more consistent.

Last week on YouTube we posted an update on what’s been going on with our single family and 5-unit properties, so if you missed that, make sure to watch it here. I’ll be sharing more in an upcoming blog post along with the latest news on plans for our new home.

Enjoy your Memorial Day Weekend, and I’ll see you back here next week!


Beautiful Before & Afters from the One Room Challenge

Now that the chaos of the One Room Challenge is over, we can all breathe a collective sigh of relief and enjoy the best part—seeing everyone else’s transformations!

I’ve been keeping up with the other designers each week, but did you know there were also 240+ guest participants sharing their progress every Thursday? I recently had a chance to look through all of the final reveals and wanted to share a handful that caught my eye.

There’s so much inspiration floating around the blogosphere/Instagram/Pinterest these days and we only see a fraction of it, so let’s show these folks some well deserved love for what they’ve accomplished over the past six weeks!

Life on Hill Street

Before:

After:

What I love:

That cedar shingle wall treatment is perfection! I love how they decided on something outside of the box and just went for it. The chair swing is also a nice unexpected touch, and I’m in love with that rustic wood chest. I love that the room has a woodland theme but it’s very subtle and not overdone. So many gorgeous elements in one room. Bravo, Amy!

Room for Tuesday

Before:

After:

What I love:

Where do I start? The amount of thought and attention to detail that went into this is beyond impressive. It’s just as functional as it is beautiful—from that floor tile to the custom cabinet doors, the dramatic black accents and the fun oil paintings of their sweet pups (she painted those herself!) Sarah, you’re a rockstar.

Unexpected Elegance

Before:

After:

What I love:

The soft, muted color palette is a breath of fresh air! I love how Angela mixed patterns and balanced light with dark colors. Perhaps my favorite part of the room are those nightstand dressers—they were two completely different pieces that she stripped & sanded down to that gorgeous natural wood color, and now they coordinate so well! Proof that you don’t have to spend a ton of money on new furniture to get great results.

Vestige Home

Before:

After:

What I love:

This room epitomizes why I’m obsessed with sage green right now. Nicole has masterfully mixed cool greens with warm ivory and wood tones and textures in a way that feels light and effortless. It has a minimalist style yet it’s still rich with layers and interest. The custom built-in daybed makes me want to crawl in and spend the day reading, and I love how that rug ties it all together.

Daly Digs

Before:

After:

What I love:

Here’s the same sage green/ivory/wood tones color palette in a completely different setting. I love how Becky did something different than your typical black/white/gray patio and pulled colors from nature. The stained wood ceiling makes all the difference, and she did a good job of keeping it simple and not too overdone. The separate sections for dining and lounging create a nice flow and make it perfect for entertaining!

The Grit & Polish

Before:

After:

What I love:

Cathy’s designs always stop me in my tracks. She’s a wizard at effortlessly pulling together rooms bursting with vintage character and charm, and this nursery is no exception. I’m crushing on everything from the pastel color palette to the antique cane bed, the DIY night stands and family heirlooms sprinkled throughout. Oh, and that surprise crib nook! You know I love those unexpected details that make a room memorable. Cathy, you did it again!

Home Glow Design

Before:

After:

What I love:

This is just downright awesome—who wouldn’t want a ‘She Shed’?! Workspaces are often tricky to make both functional and beautiful, but Amy nailed it. I love the history behind this old building, the thoughtfully designed layout, and how she managed to organize it all in a way that looks bright and clean. I don’t know about you, but I could get a lot of creative work done in here!

Stevie Storck Design Co.

Before:

After:

What I love:

This one caught my eye because it’s so different than anything else out there, especially for a nursery. Of course that gorgeous mural immediately grabs your attention, but the vintage style wrought iron crib is pretty spectacular too. I wouldn’t have thought to pair those with a rich burgundy rug and mint velvet settee, but Stevie absolutely nailed it! Rooms like these are the most inspiring to me because they challenge you to think of designing in new ways.

 

Did you follow or participate in the One Room Challenge this round? Any room reveals that really stood out to you? I love that there’s such a wide variety of styles, and that we all have an opportunity to come together and share our own unique ideas—and hopefully gain inspiration from others!

Now that the challenge is over, I can get back to focusing on the other projects we’re juggling right now—our single family home, and the 5-unit we’re STILL under contract on. There have been a few developments with both, and Lucas and I are working on a vlog episode with those updates that should be posted on my YouTube channel later this week. Make sure to subscribe so you’ll be notified when that comes out, and I’ll do a follow up post here on the blog next week. In the meantime, stop by and say hello on instagram or facebook!


One Room Challenge: The Reveal

Six weeks of design and DIY have come down to this moment!

Now is the time to get caught up before you scroll down: Week 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

Watch the Reveal Video below!

It’s a little crazy to think back to the beginning of this challenge when I was dreaming up a design for the great room of our new home, and had to suddenly abandon those dreams when it caught on fire.

At the time I was crushed—our lives had been dedicated to this renovation, and what were we going to do now? Do I back out of the One Room Challenge at the last minute without a Plan B? Those questions were quickly replaced with determination to continue on and make lemons out of lemonade. We were living out of boxes in a cramped, temporary apartment that had suddenly become not-so-temporary since we lost our home. So I decided we needed a sanctuary to get us through these next several months—a space that would make us feel like we were home.

Enter our bedroom:

It’s your typical apartment bedroom.

Vinyl floors, gray paint, a single small window.

Being an apartment, I couldn’t make any permanent changes like paint or trim (bummer).

We had no furniture when we moved to Florida in January, and ended up finding all of the pieces shown here second hand online.

Ahh… feels like just yesterday I was waking up to this cold, gray abyss.

Here’s the game plan I put together:

 

And now I present to you, our romantic, restful oasis…

It really is a completely different room.

These nightstands underwent quite the makeover, too! You can find more details about them in Week 4.

I was saving these mirrors for the reveal—what do you think? The original mirrors I had selected went out of stock, so I found these beauties from Bellacor and gave them a DIY aged finish (I’ll post a complete tutorial on that soon!)

I love the patina look, and the shape of the mirrors even mimic the curves on the door. Speaking of this door...

Be still my heart. It’s from Metrie’s “French Curves” line and is a match made in heaven for the antique door knob made by Nostalgic Warehouse (sold here). You can find out more details on both in Week 4.

And how about that perfect shade of blush pink? It’s called ‘Setting Plaster’ by Farrow & Ball. It’s always a little nerve-wracking selecting paint colors online, but the shade is exactly what I was hoping for. Don’t you worry, I’ll be taking these doors with me to our new home!

I spotted this very old antique desk on OfferUp a couple weeks ago, and it was mine for $50!

I love all of the history told through its imperfections. And how about that sweet striped linen chair from HomePop?

It fits right in with the style of the room, but I can picture these around our future dining table!

One of my favorite items in this room is this canvas map from Bellacor.

It’s a French antique reproduction and the level of quality + detail was better than expected—especially for the price!

Another special piece in the room is this old wardrobe I made over back in Week 2

Ivory and gold, what a classic combination.

I found these handmade ceramic jugs on Lamps Plus of all places, and love the organic touch they bring to the room (large vases are a necessity to hold those branch clippings!)

Another great Lamps Plus find are these fun wood-like textured lamps

It’s all in the details. Bringing in a little sparkle with this hand painted pink & gold tray from Jill Rosenwald:

But the focal point of this room is this grand tufted bed from Overstock…

And the floral sheets from Roostery? Obsessed. In the running for my favorite thing in the entire room.

Last week I shared my tips for styling a bed like a pro and all of the elements I used to bring this bed situation to life. Like the necessary things you don’t see—the low profile foundation, the memory foam topper, the extra fluffy comforter, and then the mix of linens like these quilted euro shams from Pom Pom at Home.

I love adding unexpected touches, like this lace bed scarf

Linen has to be the most versatile and luxurious bedding fabric. I chose a classic white linen duvet cover, also from Pom Pom at Home. Susie can’t get enough either.

The pink throw was from 4 or 5 years ago at Kohl’s, and the green quilt was a thrift store score.

One addition that immediately changed the feel of the room is this 8×10′braided jute rug from eSalerugs:

Rugs should be a requirement in every bedroom—it’s the easiest way to make a space feel cozier!

Another huge impact with a small change came from the window treatments. The small window got a facelift with bamboo roman shades (hung high on the wall), and plush velvet white drapes hung up to the ceiling on a pretty gold curtain rod:

It’s amazing what this trick will do to any window! And did you notice the beaded chandelier? Another unique Bellacor find that I love waking up to every morning.

These abstract art prints from Minted also greet us each morning…

They’re aerial landscape shots (my favorite) and I love the soothing color palette.

Well folks, that about wraps up the tour. It’s a small space, but when you fill it with things that inspire you and bring you joy… it’s really all you need.

This is the first apartment I’ve ever decorated, and while I did put some effort into making changes that I’ll have to switch back & take with me when we move… it was all worth it. Having a home you love is so important, no matter where you live, and it’s always worth the effort to make it your own.

As always, I hope you found something of inspiration to take away from this makeover. Tell me, what is your favorite part? Mine has to be those doorknobs, followed closely by the floral sheets. Lucas’ favorite is the bed and the map. But ask us again in a week and we might have a different answer 😉

The reveals don’t end here—there’s 19 other designers who are ready to show off what they’ve done!

Apartment 34 | Beginning in the Middle | Coco & Jack | The English Room | The Gold Hive

Gray Malin | Jenna Sue Design | Jojotastic | Kelly Rogers Int. | Linda Holt | Marcus Design

Michelle Gage | Natasha Habermann | The Painted House | Rambling Renovators

Sacramento Street | Shannon Claire | Sketch 42 | Stephanie Kraus | Bisou Style

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by ORC

 

I’ve been pretty consumed with this project for the past few weeks, but I owe you guys an update as to what else has been going on with our houses, and life changes in general. It has been a rollercoaster over here and many things still hang in the balance, but I promise I’ll share some news soon 🙂


One Room Challenge: Week 5

It’s the second to last week of the One Room Challenge!

If you’ve missed anything so far, get caught up with Week 1Week 2, Week 3 and Week 4 first!

As the elements of this bedroom makeover continue to fall into place, we’ve reached my favorite part where it’s all about the finishing touches and styling. With the biggest hurdles like new doors and furniture makeovers out of the way, the last and most important piece remained—the bed!

Today’s post and video is a Bed Layering Guide, and I’ll be sharing the formula I use and my best tips when it comes to putting together your dream bed. Watch the vlog to get the full scoop!

The older I get, the more important having a really good, comfortable bed becomes. This 33 year old body of mine gets achy after just a few hours of DIY now (which I’ve been doing constantly lately) and the best feeling in the world is crawling into bed at the end of a long day. Your bed should be your sanctuary, so it’s worth spending some time on to get it right!

Before we can even think about the bed, let’s start with what’s underneath. I always recommend a rug, even if your room has carpeting. It will help define the space and make it feel more finished (and inviting!)

I can’t get enough natural fiber rugs in my life, so I picked out this 8×10″ jute braided rug from eSalerugs:

I use this type of rug in bedrooms all the time because they’re inexpensive, low maintenance and neutral enough to go with any style.

Now the big decision: the bed!

My motto on this is to go with one that includes side rails and a footboard—regardless of the size and style. It doesn’t have to be anything large or fancy, but I think a bed with four sides always feels the most complete and polished. I also like a headboard with some height which will help make it the focal point of the room.

I found this beautiful tufted bed on Overstock and couldn’t resist. I love it because it’s neutral enough to use with any style decor or bedding.

Upholstered beds like this are like the Mercedes and BMW’s of the bed world, in my mind—luxurious and sophisticated. It also feels very ‘grown up’, as if I’ve finally earned the right to sleep in one after years of a cheap metal bed frame.

If a four sided bed isn’t an option, at the very least you’ll want a nice headboard, and then you can use any metal frame and box spring and cover them with a bedskirt, like I did here in my California home (I feel like I’ve come a long way…)

After you’ve selected your bed, you’ll need to find the right size box spring. Did you know these come in many sizes? With the bed I chose, the side rail height is only around 4” from the slats where the box spring sits, so I had to find a low profile foundation that wouldn’t be exposed.

I found this 4″ platform (also on Overstock) which was easy to assemble and fit right into our newly assembled bed.

Now it’s time to add your mattress. We bought a used one a few months ago off Craigslist (it came with our old bed), and it was tolerable, but not exactly sleeping on a cloud.

If your bed doesn’t feel like pure heaven: do yourself a favor and get a good mattress topper! Luckily you don’t need to go out and buy an expensive memory foam mattress, because with a good mattress pad, you won’t be able to tell the difference. I promise they’re worth every penny (and they aren’t even expensive).

I chose this 4” Comforpedic gel foam topper on Overstock, and it’s honestly the softest bed I’ve ever been on.

There’s all different kinds out there with different firmness levels, so choose one that works for you (this one is on the soft side, which I like).

It includes a waterproof cover so there’s no sliding around:

Okay, now comes the fun part… bedding! There are so many ways to layer a beautiful bed, but there’s one basic formula I like to stick to.

First, you’ve got your rows of pillows. Up against the headboard, there’s the shams, then your standard pillows, then your accent pillow(s) in the front.

On top of the mattress you have your fitted sheet, then your flat sheet, followed by a duvet and finally a quilt or blanket.

When choosing each of these components, you want to focus on three things: material, pattern and color. There should be a variety of each so the bedding doesn’t fall flat visually, and the key is to layer these different elements together.

I like to use at least a few different materials—for example a cotton, linen, lace and something thicker and woven like I’m using on this bed.

Generally I’ll spot a pattern I love first, and that will become the inspiration for the rest of the bed (or entire room). I found this floral sheet set on Roostery and was drawn to the whimsical handpainted pattern. Isn’t it gorgeous?

Here’s a tip: with sheet sets, you normally get two sheets and two pillowcases, so don’t be afraid to break up the set! Especially if it has a pattern—try using just one of the sheets OR the pillowcases and you’ll end up with a variety of different looks.

After choosing your pattern, you’ll need a mix of a few different colors, and these should be pulled from your pattern. My sheet set has several shades including dusty pink and sage green, which I chose to use as accents throughout the rest of the room to tie everything together.

After choosing your pattern, you’ll want to break it up with a heavy dose of solid colors. White or ivory acts like a blank canvas and gives your eyes a place to rest, and it’s a very light and calming color, so I always make sure there’s plenty of it in bedrooms. These quilted euro shams from Pom Pom at Home were perfect for both layering color and introducing a new material.

I also found a sage green quilt at a thrift store and pulled in a blush accent throw pillow I had from storage. I like to limit my color palette to 2-3 shades, so I stopped there!

Now, every bed needs a big fluffy duvet so it has that nice and full look. I try to find the thickest duvet possible with the highest ratings online, and this down comforter from Overstock did not disappoint:

I placed the comforter inside this white linen duvet cover from Pom Pom at Home. Linen is one of my favorite textures for a bed because it feels so rich and luxurious, but still casual at the same time. Plus, I love the little ties!

That pretty lace fabric peeking out is a bed scarf, also from Pom Pom at Home.

Another tip—go up a size on your duvet, especially if you have a taller mattress! Most duvets will only reach to the bottom of the mattress. Or you can fake it and just pull everything to one side if you’re taking photos… 😉

Once you have your mix of materials, color and pattern, you can have fun layering them together in different ways. I spent all day switching things around, trying to find my favorite look. There is no right or wrong here, as long as you stick to the basic formula, you can experiment and see what your favorite arrangement is.

Do you have a favorite? I think I’ll be changing a few more things around before the reveal next week!

Loving this angle right now… I’ll never get tired of waking up to that pink door!

Or this lovely beaded chandy

Oh, and you can’t miss this last step! One of my styling must-haves is a good fabric steamer. I bought this one on Amazon based on the reviews, and it’s an absolute life saver. Wrinkles are your beddings biggest enemy (and they really stand out in photos) so make sure your fabrics are nice and smooth.

A few quick updates before I sign off… I listed the old bed for sale and it sold for full price ($330) right away! We’re 3 for 3 now.

(I took these photos before I had the steamer, see the difference?!)

I loved this bed and think it looked nice in the space, but the new bed feels more substantial and we’re much happier with our decision.

Oh, and I finally found my desk! $50 on OfferUp:

It’s very old and you can see the years of wear (the seller said it was appraised for $350) so I’ve decided not to touch the finish as originally planned.

And while we’re still on the furniture train, here’s one more makeover for you. I bought these cuties last month for $21 (one had a broken door):

All they needed were a bit of TLC, Maison Blanche ivory furniture paint and a coat of white lime wax!

Aren’t they the cutest? I can’t pull the trigger on listing them for sale. We’re never going to make any money flipping furniture if I continue keeping them all to myself 😉

And that’s it until the big reveal! You’ll have to excuse all the iPhone photos in this post—I’m hoping it’ll make the reveal that much more dramatic (my sister is letting me borrow her good camera & lens so I’ll be able to get much better angles!) This is about as good as I can get with my camera… honestly the bed is so much fuller and cozier in person. I wish I could invite you all over to test it out for yourself. You’ll just have to get past the termites 😆

If you want more updates before the reveal, make sure you’re following my instagram account where I post daily photo/video of the progress. The last week is a sprint to the finish line, but it’s my favorite part! I wonder if the other designers feel the same way…

Apartment 34 | Beginning in the Middle | Coco & Jack | The English Room | The Gold Hive

Gray Malin | Jenna Sue Design | Jojotastic | Kelly Rogers Int. | Linda Holt | Marcus Design

Michelle Gage | Natasha Habermann | The Painted House | Rambling Renovators

Sacramento Street | Shannon Claire | Sketch 42 | Stephanie Kraus | Bisou Style

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by ORC


One Room Challenge: Week 4

Today I turn 33, and I’m celebrating by sharing a One Room Challenge update and picking up the perfect desk I found used online! You know you’re in your 30’s when making progress on your bedroom makeover is your idea of a good time 😀

Be sure to catch up with Week 1, Week 2 and Week 3 before reading on!

I mentioned last week that we were in a tough spot with our 5-unit bungalow, and unfortunately this was another rough week. I really want to share what’s going on but that will have to wait until there’s a resolution, which will probably take several more weeks. Yesterday was especially difficult, but today I plan to make the most of this day, practice gratitude celebrate another precious year on earth.

Easily the best part of last week was the progress I made in our bedroom makeover. Watch it all go down in this weeks vlog!

Not gonna lie, I was pretty nervous about installing these gorgeous solid wood Metrie doors that arrived the week before:

I’ve never installed slab doors from scratch like this, and after taking a year off of DIY, I feared my skills were gone. Determined not to ruin them, Lucas and I studied up on YouTube, bought a few tools, and set aside a couple days to take our time and do it right.

Now, you may remember, we are currently living in an apartment. We’re not allowed to make any permanent changes, but fortunately, doors are interchangeable so we can take these with us when we move out (you think I could leave these beauties behind?!) I get that this requires more effort than what it’s worth for many folks living in an apartment, but you have to understand that these doors were the one thing I was most looking forward to when I found out I was participating in the ORC. I had my heart set on them and couldn’t come to terms with giving them up when our house burned down. And after installing them, I have zero regrets! They make me so happy every time I walk into the room.

Moving along—Step 1 was to remove the old door. Good riddance.

The screws were in bad shape—painted over multiple times and stripped out. Luckily we were eventually able to pry them out (and replace them with functioning screws).

The easiest way to make sure everything on the new door lined up was to lie the old one on top and trace the hinge and door knob placement.

Then we lined up the hinge and traced the exact placement onto the new door.

This chisel was the most important tool in this project. We could not have done it without it!

Lucas was excited to relive his old wood shop days, so he took the lead. It didn’t look pretty, but it did the job.

A little bit at a time until it was a perfect fit.

After both mortises were notched on the door, we reattached it to the frame… and it didn’t close. Thinking it was a problem with our hinge placement, we made several attempts to move them around and even tried to bend the hinges (not happening) before accepting that the door frame just wasn’t square and the door was not going to fit. Sigh.

I was posting our saga in real-time on my Instagram stories and many of you chimed in to commiserate, saying that hanging doors is a science—and it’s absolutely true! Unless everything in your world is perfectly square, it’s not as easy as it looks.

We weren’t prepared for this problem. The proper solution would be to cut the door down with a table saw or plane the edge, but we had no table saw and I just knew I’d butcher the door if I took a planer to it. So we tried the only other thing that would work…

Chisel to the rescue! Luckily the door was only hitting in one spot and it wasn’t too major, so we were able to smooth down a section until it fit perfectly. We still need to sand it down, putty over to smooth it and repaint and no one will ever notice (trust me, there’s tile attached with duct tape in the bathroom in this termite-infested apartment and they plan to renovate the unit summer—a chiseled door jamb is the last thing this apartment cares about).

After the most complicated part was over, we turned our attention to the door handles. Cue the choir of angels…

I shared these gorgeous knobs in Week 3, but it’s worth mentioning again. I chose this combination from Nostalgic Warehouse, which you can’t buy directly from their website, but I did find it here on Amazon. Not cheap, but if you can swing the cost (even just on one special accent door) they’re one of those details that make all the difference.

The handles come with drilling templates, so we were able to easily mark our center points for the holes (I know they don’t line up in the center here, we had to try it a few times).

Luckily there’s a little room for error, which we needed because ours weren’t perfectly centered. The larger bore was made with a 2 1/8″ hole saw, and the small bore was with a 1″ paddle (watch the tutorial linked above to see this part in action):

The latch plate also had to be chiseled out, but by this time, Lucas was pretty much a pro at it.

I could hardly contain my excitement as it all came together…

Before we attached them, it was time to paint the door! I chose Farrow & Ball’s Setting Plaster in their Estate Eggshell finish:

I went back and forth on which color to choose (it’s so hard to tell online!) and got lucky—this was the exact color I wash hoping for!

It’s a soft putty peachy-pink and it’s perfect.

This door + handle + paint combo made all that chiseling worth it.

The painting party didn’t stop there—next it was time to tackle these night stands I found on OfferUp a couple months ago for $80:

From the beginning I had the idea to give them a vintage apothecary cabinet look, and chose Maison Blanche’s lime paint in Printemps:

It’s a pale sage green with a very unique powdery texture—almost like a clay that you can layer onto a surface and sand down to your desired texture. It’s nothing like regular latex paint, and quite different from chalk paint too. The texture takes a bit of getting used to, but it’s fun to experiment with and you can do some really interesting techniques once you get the hang of it.

It took between 1-2 coats to cover, and I gently sanded the surface to my desired level of texture (it sands off super fine like baby powder).

To protect the surface and give it a rich patina effect, I applied one coat of Maison Blanche’s chalk white lime wax.

This wax is also unlike any other I’ve tried, settling into every little groove and giving it an authentic worn look. Here you can see the wax applied to the drawer on the left, and before wax on the right:

There’s no buffing or reapplying involved—just wipe it on, let it sit for a bit and you’re good to go! This is the quickest furniture makeover yet, and I plan on experimenting a lot more with this wax.

Next, it was time to replace the hardware! I found these brass cabinet pulls for just 40 cents each on eBay!

I was wanting a gold finish though, so Maison Blanche to the rescue again. I used their Organza in Antique Gold, which is a thick metallic gel that can be applied to any surface (metal included).

I only used a tiny bit of what was stuck to the lid (I swear this jar will last forever!) and screwed the pulls onto the drawers.

How killer is this combo? I can’t get enough sage & gold right now.

Be still my heart…

I’m loving the way this room is coming together, but we still have a ways to go!

Our new bed has arrived and is waiting to be put together, along with new bedding, mirrors above the night stands, a rug, a new desk and accessories. It’s about 75% of the way there though! Here’s a little sneak preview of the bedding that has arrived…

I searched forever for the perfect floral pattern, and found it at Roostery. I can’t wait to start layering this bed!

Next week I’ll be experimenting with different layering combinations, and sharing some of my secrets to building the perfect bed. This is one of my favorite things to decorate, so I hope you’ll check back in and get some new ideas!

Signing off with one last “Before” and “In Progress” shot…

Oh, the power of paint! Off to see what the others are up to…

Apartment 34 | Beginning in the Middle | Coco & Jack | The English Room | The Gold Hive

Gray Malin | Jenna Sue Design | Jojotastic | Kelly Rogers Int. | Linda Holt | Marcus Design

Michelle Gage | Natasha Habermann | The Painted House | Rambling Renovators

Sacramento Street | Shannon Claire | Sketch 42 | Stephanie Kraus | Bisou Style

Media Partner House Beautiful | TM by ORC


2018 Spring Home Tour!

You know, the seasons are my favorite excuse to decorate. Especially come Spring time, when the frost begins to melt and you have a renewed sense of energy and enthusiasm to start with a clean slate.

I’ve always looked forward to coming up with new ideas for the different seasons (like this fun Spring shoot I did a few years ago) and sharing them with you guys here on the blog. I also get so much inspiration from other bloggers & designers who do the same, and I realized how selfish I’ve been lately by holding my designs back from the world. There are people out there struggling who need those fresh Spring 2018 ideas, and what kind of a person would I be if I kept them all to myself?

This past weekend I finally took the time to shoot a video tour of our apartment, filled with new inspiration from our travels and a design style you’ve never seen before (I promise). I was worried it was too early to share it and that the world wouldn’t be ready for this, but I think you guys can handle it:

So… did you gain some inspiration? Or at least feel a little better about your own home? One day, we’re going to remember this termite infested apartment, the nights sleeping on the living room floor with a cat that has pooped and puked and stained our furniture, the amazon boxes piled to the ceiling because we thought we’d only be here six months but now we’re stuck here because our house burned down and it feels like we’re NEVER going to have our own home… and we’ll look back and say… look how far we’ve come. We think about this day all the time, and although it feels so far away, this time will be gone in the blink of an eye. We are grateful for every second of it—messes and all. I don’t know about you, but that’s all the inspiration I need 🙂

Have a beautiful Spring, friends.

 


One Room Challenge: Week 3

It’s Week 3, aka halftime at the One Room Challenge!

Make sure to get caught up with Week 1 and Week 2 before reading on! Not gonna lie, last week was a rough one. Not so much with the One Room Challenge, but our 5-unit bungalow (that we’ve been under contract on since January, ugh!) threw us a major curveball that has left us scrambling to save this deal. We’re still in the thick of it and hoping to have a resolution within the next week… but we’re not holding our breath.

On the topic of house updates—also still waiting to hear back from our insurance company with their estimate after the Heights House fire. This will determine our plans to repair vs rebuild the house, and basically our entire future rests on the news we receive about both of these properties. These first two deals as investors have been anything but a walk in the park. I’ll say it again—real estate is not for the faint of heart!

Fortunately, the One Room Challenge has become a fun escape from the stress. I get to bypass all the intensive DIY and focus on my favorite things like decor, furniture, and accessories. There’s one perk of living in an apartment!

Last week, we had completed a wardrobe and bed makeover. Here’s how it looked as of yesterday morning:

It’s crazy how something as simple as painting dark wood makes the room feel so much lighter visually.

This also reaffirms my decision to swap out the bed with upholstered linen—there’s just too many hard surfaces (plus, not feeling the matching bed and wardrobe!)

I can’t wait to roll out my woven rug from eSalerugs which will instantly warm up the space. Inside those two giant boxes against the wall are my framed Minted photographs which will add some much needed personality.

This week has been like Christmas, with boxes at our doorstep every day. Starting with these gorgeous solid wood doors from Metrie:

There are three of them in total—two closet doors and the entry door. They’ll be painted in Farrow & Ball Setting Plaster:

And… perhaps my most exciting unboxing experience yet (I may or may not have teared up in utter amazement)… these vintage reproduction handlesets:

Just imagine that door painted a pale dusty pink, with these vintage knobs… I CAN’T EVEN HANDLE IT (haha… see what I did there?)

They come in several styles & colors (fancy crystal knobs too!) and they don’t sell directly on their website, but I did find this combination on Amazon. Honestly I’ve never loved a piece of metal more and I don’t know how I’ve ever lived without them. I feel like I could just mic drop and end this post here, give you some time to recover and regain your composure perhaps… but the boxes keep coming.

Beaded chandelier!

We never used our fan anyway. Can’t wait to get this beauty installed!

How about this box of lovelies from Pom Pom at Home?

Inside we have two extra large quilted shams, a lace bed scarf, and a linen duvet cover. The bedding in this room will be so much fun to layer!

Next up… how great are these lamps?

Choosing the lamps was a bit of a struggle—I went back and forth on several different options, but in the end I’m thrilled with my choice.

The night stand will be painted a light sage green and I felt like there needed to be a wood tone somewhere, so this one struck the perfect balance of look, size and price point. Highly recommended!

Oh, and that map trying to photobomb the lamp…

I thought it looked nice online but it’s even better in person! It’s a vintage French reproduction, with pretty, muted colors on thick, quality canvas. It’s huge, too! I plan to hang it on a wall over a desk just to the left of this photo (still trying to hunt for a perfect used desk on Craigslist!)

And you may have noticed in the first photos, but ladies and gentlemen—we have window treatments! Behold the standard apartment blinds:

For the window treatments, I turned to Overstock. Since I can’t remove the blinds (well I could, I’d just have to put them back…) I decided to add a nicer looking bamboo shade mounted on the outside. And while I’m at it, I may as well go up a size to give the illusion of a larger window.

Hey, it worked! And no one will ever know…

Bonus: now it’ll be extra dark so we can sleep in on the weekends! (if sleeping in until 8am counts?) These bamboo shades have been my go-to window treatment for years. I especially like the coloring in this model, and at $44 (I got them in 39″w) you can’t go wrong.

But wait—there’s more! This bedroom desperately needed curtains to soften the space and help with that boho-french-romantic vibe I’m trying to achieve. Normally I just go for the inexpensive cotton curtains, but this time I decided to take the sophistication and luxury up a notch. Hello, white velvet drapes

These pictures do it no justice. I wish you could reach through the screen and feel how soft and thick this fabric is (it’s also blackout and fully lined—this room will be a cave!)

Lucas and I joked that between the lamps and window treatments, we finally feel like we have a grown up room again after over a year—can you believe it’s been more than a year since we left on our big trip? And almost exactly a year since we got engaged 😀

Here’s how it looks at night with the new ambient lighting thanks to the lamp. I chose this decorative gold curtain rod to hang them:

The room is looking a little too stark right now… don’t worry, this is temporary.

I was staring at that empty section of wall wondering if it needed something. Then I remembered I had this narrow mirror (it would be hung on the wall and repainted)…

Too much? I can’t decide yet. We don’t have a full length mirror so it would certainly be functional. I think it’ll be a last minute judgment call after some of the other pieces are in place.

Alright—enough unboxing for one post! Let’s move onto our latest furniture flip. I had something pretty specific in mind for this coffee table set:

This was a $30 Craigslist score, and I figured that with a little sanding and elbow grease, I could transform the natural wood finish into beautiful weathered oak (Restoration Hardware style). I’d done it before with excellent results—I even published a step by step tutorial on the process! This should be easy, right?

Lucas was tasked with the job of sanding the protective finish off of the pieces. Poor guy was out there for the better part of a day and was 2/3 complete before our Mouse sander finally gave out (it was the old version from years ago, so we were lucky it lasted this long with all the abuse I’ve put it through!)

The next day I went to Lowe’s and forked over $40 for a new Mouse, determined to finish the job. 

We finally finished sanding and I prepared my supplies—neutral colored lime paint and lime waxes.

It’s not the exact color used in my tutorial, but close enough. The wood didn’t have any pesky red tones so I figured it’d be much easier this time around. For those of you suggesting to just use a stain—that does not remove the original tone of the wood, it just adds to it. Paint is the way to go to neutralize your wood tones!

I mixed 50% water with 50% paint and began to brush. It got rid of the orange… just not evenly. You can see my test piece on the bottom compared to the original sanded top.

We figured the problem had to do with uneven sanding, even though we sanded for hours. Whatever finish they used on the wood appeared to be a mix of some sort of lime wax and a clear coat that seeped deep into the grain, and made it really difficult to sand away—not only that, but you can’t even tell which parts were fully sanded until you applied the paint wash.

I tried to remedy the situation with more paint and a mix of liming waxes, but it just turned into a blotchy mess.

It’s fine if you want a rustic whitewash effect I suppose, but that’s not the look I was after. I could have continued sanding and experimenting, however, the table legs were in a much worse situation:

It was difficult enough to evenly sand a flat surface—but these curvy legs? Forget it! You can see the dark areas that were sanded more than the others after the paint wash was applied, and there’s no way to get into those narrow grooves to take off the layers of whatever finish they used. Time to throw in the paint stained towel on Plan A!

I was still determined to keep some of the wood grain, so ultimately I decided to stain the top and paint the bottom. Oh if I would have just thought to do this from the beginning. Another lesson learned!

After a few more hours of sanding and resanding to make sure the tops were all nice and even, I ran back to Lowe’s and picked up stain and poly:

The color of the oak was so light and neutral that I knew it would take the stain well and look similar to the can. And I like to use a (water based) poly or varnish to protect heavily used furniture that’s exposed to moisture.

I brushed it on and held my breath…

And they turned out as expected. Finally!

Then came the paint (Maison Blanche in ivory):

And finally, poly! This is how they look now as I type this post:

Just need to swap out the drawer hardware, have a little photoshoot and list these babies on Facebook marketplace. Fingers crossed for another quick sale. I’ll be sure to update you next week with the results—or you can catch them in real time over on my Instagram stories.

Oh, and there’s no vlog today (thanks to the failed DIY attempt) but I have something even better for you coming tomorrow. Just you wait… you’re not even gonna know what hit you.

Now let’s go see what everyone else is up to for Week 3!

Apartment 34 | Beginning in the Middle | Coco & Jack | The English Room | The Gold Hive

Gray Malin | Jenna Sue Design | Jojotastic | Kelly Rogers Int. | Linda Holt | Marcus Design

Michelle Gage | Natasha Habermann | The Painted House | Rambling Renovators

Sacramento Street | Shannon Claire | Sketch 42 | Stephanie Kraus | Bisou Style

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