Master Makeover: DIY Plain to Paneled Door

Updates: Watch a time lapse tutorial of the process here and see the full room reveal here!

Checking another project off the to-do list today…

So, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what to do about our doors.

Here’s an old shot from the hallway:

After I painted the walls an almost white/super light gray shade, it just turned into the hallway of no color. I knew I needed to do something with the cheap hollow core doors but didn’t want to break the bank. In a perfect world, they would all be beautifully constructed and detailed solid wood, but there’s no way I’m spending that much on all of the doors in the house.

Then I gave our foyer closet door a makeover...

And I loved the results. It was simple enough to do to the rest of the doors in the house.

I briefly considered making them all stained wood, but that requires veneer (which is quite costly), so I decided to go with paint instead. I ran through a few gray options but decided they would compete with the gray in the floors, and then I saw this from Dear Lillie and was absolutely sold on black:


There’s just something about black doors that brings character, richness and sophistication to a space. It’s the perfect way to break up all the white and gray in our home. Plus, our kitchen and front doors were already painted black so it was an easy answer for me.

Fortunately, our bedroom door was completely smooth so I didn’t need to apply veneer over it (our foyer door had that faux wood grain texture which I covered with veneer). That meant that all I’d need for this project is a $12 piece of 1/4″ (actual thickness = 0.2″) plywood from Lowe’s. For the foyer I used the $30 cabinet-grade 1/4″ plywood because I wanted to stain it. The $12 plywood is in the molding/paneling section (next to the beadboard) and it is pink toned on one side, which is perfect for painting.

I’ve already covered the basic method for installing the strips which you can read about in my foyer door post.

It’s so easy though… just measure and cut, spacing your horizontal pieces out evenly, and secure with a nail gun.

Flip it over and repeat for the other side. You’ll need an arbor to drill out a hole for the door handle.

Once all my pieces were attached, I sanded down the rough edges with my Mouse.

Then I spackled the nail holes and caulked where the boards met the door for a seamless look.

After drying overnight, I gave everything a nice thorough sanding with finer grit sandpaper (including the actual door panel).

Since I added almost 1/2″ of depth onto the door, I had to remove the door stop casing or else it wouldn’t close properly.

To do that, you must first cut a line with a sharp edge on all sides…

Then pry the pieces off. Luckily these ones came off really easily (you can see the three pieces in the hallway).

Some of the nails will stay in the door casing which you can just hammer back in, and break off the ones stuck in the molding.

Then clear the built up caulk from the door casing and the trim pieces so it’s nice and clean for reinstallation:

I decided to hang the door back up first before painting it because 1) it was 100° in the garage, and 2) I could turn on the TV in our room to make it more enjoyable. It really doesn’t matter either way, you just have to be slightly more careful to not paint the casing.

I used the same black that’s on the kitchen and front doors, except in a satin finish—Valspar’s Dark Kettle Black.

I haven’t tried their new Reserve line yet, but I can’t imagine needing anything better than their Signature. The coverage is amazing… here’s after just one coat:

Of course the plywood took to it better than the painted white door—it almost covered in just one coat!

All it needed was two coats and a few touchups. Easy, fast paint job (excuse the poor lighting).

Black kitty approved.

Once the handle was back on, I shut the door and nailed the casing pieces back in place so the new door would shut properly.

Then I filled the nail holes and caulked it back in. (I still have to sand and touch up paint… that will be done tonight).

Ahhh… so rich.

It’s a little difficult to see the detail through photos (I have to bump up the exposure a bit, hence the grainy-ish pics) but it’s really lovely in person. Black doors are my new most favorite thing ever.

I love the way it ties into the wall paneling.

I’ll be converting all of the doors eventually. This hallway needs some loving, I know. One step at a time.

Alright folks…. 3 more master bedroom posts until the big reveal! I’m trying to decided which task to tackle next. Either way, it’s pretty much smooth sailing from here on out so I can relax for a couple weeks before moving onto the next big project.

Check back in a few days to see what happens!


Master Makeover: DIY Floor Mirror—from Ikea to Vintage

I’ve got a fun project for you today…

We’ve had this Ikea Mongstad mirror for as long as I can remember. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just a little too plain and modern for my ever-evolving taste. I’m trying to incorporate more vintage/farmhouse style pieces into our home, and only keep things I really love. This mirror wasn’t special—it was just taking up space.

I’ve been drooling over these beautiful mirrors everywhere on Pinterest…


Such lovely detail…


So the other day as I was browsing the trim aisle at Lowe’s (my second home), an idea popped into my head when I spotted this fancy molding…

I could simply attach it to the mirror by framing it out and I’d have my own vintage-esque shabby chic mirror. Easy.

Originally I had planned on going all out and adding detail around the outside and inside edges, but when I started adding up the costs, I decided to scale back a bit. The pieces range anywhere from $15-$20+ for 8 feet, and I needed three pieces to make a single rectangle around the perimeter. (Note: this is not a cheap DIY project).

I ended up selecting three pieces of the expensive molding (at $19/peice) and cut costs using primed MDF baseboard for the second row (I already had some at home so I only needed two pieces), and then two pieces of skinny detailed molding which were just $5 each. The total came to around $75.

After laying out my pattern, it was time to start cutting.

The fancy molding was actually crown, which meant the edges were angled and not straight. I wanted the trim to line up flush with the edge of the mirror, so I ripped it down with my table saw.

Here you can see the uncut molding on the top, and the ripped piece below it.

Once those pieces were all ripped, it was time to make my cuts. Simple stuff—45° the whole time.

The mirror already had a seam on each angle so it was easy to see where the molding should line up.

I worked my way around the mirror, piece by piece, and used my nail gun to secure them in place.
Then it was time for the next row—the baseboards.
In order to get the third row to fit without overlapping, the baseboards also had to be ripped down 3/8″ or so. After trimming those to size, I attached them to the mirror, the same way I attached the first section.
Finally, I finished off with the inside pieces.
After everything was secure, it was time to spackle the nail holes and caulk all the seams.
Once dry, I used my new BFF to get everything nice and smooth:
After vacuuming up all the dust, it was time to paint!
I applied a couple coats of Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee in satin using my angled brush and let it dry:
To give the mirror more of an authentic vintage look, I had to distress it. I wanted little peeks of black showing through (like my detail inspiration photo earlier) but the wood underneath wasn’t black, so sanding it wouldn’t give me that result. So I grabbed a q-tip, a can of Minwax’s ebony stain, and dabbed it on randomly:
It didn’t matter that it was on top of paint, it still stuck surprisingly well.
Once dry, I went back over it with my brush, letting hints of the stain show through in certain areas.
I wanted the distressing to be subtle and this method worked quite well.
And here’s my special new “vintage” mirror in the room…
I don’t think $75 is a bad investment to get this type of detail… big floor mirrors in a similar style are sold for a whole lot more.
And it makes me happy. So that’s definitely worth it.
Next in line for a facelift—this plain jane door:
That’s what I’ll be doing this weekend. Hope yours is just as exciting!
One quick matter of business… if you’ve been thinking about picking up one of my Cityscape posters, now is the time! I’ve teamed up with Touch of Modern to offer my most popular Cityscapes at 25% off for the nex
t five days only:
Join here now to take advantage of this flash sale and get an instant $10 credit towards your order!
Have a happy weekend, friends…


Master Makeover: Trim, Rug, Dresser & More…

We’ve been quite busy in here the past few days! On Thursday I showed you our panel wall, and here’s how it looks after mounting the TV and bringing the dresser in…

I ended up swapping out the original hardware with some $2 pulls from Lowe’s. I like the simplicity much better.

Saturday morning I scored some cheap finds at the local flea market…

This antique chair was just $5 and fits perfect in the empty space beside the dresser. It doesn’t have a seat, but that’s an easy fix which I’ll get on ASAP.

I also found the perfect side table next to the bench—an old wine barrel for $5.

Speaking of benches… I ended up choosing #3.

It was between that and number 2, and I’m really happy with my choice. In the end it just came down to color and fabric—I had my heart set on linen.

You may also notice the addition of a rug…

Rugs.com had their big summer sale so I snagged this big 8’6 x 11’6 jute rug for just $233 shipped—insanity. Yes, it’s the same one I have in the studio, dining room, and living room…. but it’s amazing and I can’t help myself.

It seriously helps warm up the space.

And now the major game changer… adding trim!

I bought almost $200 worth of crown, baseboard and quarter round to take care of all these unfinished edges that have been driving me crazy for weeks. We bought the easy crown with the built in corners so all you had to do was straight miter cuts—no confusing compound angles involved.

They were given a couple coats of the white used everywhere else in the room (Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee in semi gloss).

We made sure to miter the edges where they came together to help minimize the seams.

Some parts were tricky…

Over the wardrobes, the gap was too large for the crown so we added an extra piece as a base using scrap wood:

If you recall, here’s what we were working with before:

And now… ahhhhh.

The chunkier baseboards also made a difference. Before:


And the quarter round in the corners really finished things off nicely.

Now, if anyone remembers the
original plan for this room, you may be wondering why we haven’t added a fireplace where this mirror is.

It’s something I’d still love in the future, but at this point I decided to hold off and focus on other areas (like our living room fireplace which is in desperate need of a facelift). Not sure when it will happen, but I’m enjoying the mirror here for now.

Someone asked to see the panel wall and plank wall together in the same shot—well, it’s a little tricky since they are on opposite sides of the room, so here’s the best I can do:

I’ll post a video for the reveal so you can see how everything works together.

I think they play quite well together.

This room is looking almost finished, right? Not so fast. Here’s what’s left on the to-do list:

1. New bedding. We’ve had this quilt and comforter for-ever and they don’t fit our king bed properly. 
2. Curtains. I’m having them custom made on Etsy and patiently awaiting their delivery. I plan to bring in some color & pattern here and soften the hard lines going on.

3. This empty wall. I’m still making some decisions, but it will be brought to life soon.

4. This panel wall. I’m not going to clutter it up, but there is one project I want to hang on the right side of the TV. And of course the chair needs a seat.

5. The entry wall. I plan on hanging a couple hooks and, well, you’ll see…

6. The door. This is probably the biggest project left. I’ll be adding the same paneling as our foyer closet door, but it will be painted black.

7. Organizing inside of my wardrobe/creating a vanity area. It’s going to be jewelry heaven up in there.

8. This mirror. It’s a little plain… I’m going to fix that starting today.

I also have a couple small decor surprises I’ll throw in before the big reveal (gotta save something for the end, right?) So as you can see, we still have a ways to go. Hopefully I can knock it all out within the next few weeks. Better get started on that mirror now—back to Lowe’s I go!


Master Makeover: DIY Paneled Wall

On Monday I mentioned we fell behind a day and I’d have to split this project into two posts. Well, I kicked it into high gear over these past few days and I’m happy to report that this project was finished last night, right on schedule!

Those of you who saw the updates on instagram know this already…

Let’s get to the details.

Here was the wall before.

When you walk into the room it’s on your right (across from the bed wall).

There’s a little entryway that I included in this project…

Here’s the view from our bed.

Alright, so when I spotted this online, I fell in love:


So rich and interesting and sophisticated. And seemed easy enough to pull off.

In order to achieve this look, I needed a completely smooth base so our highly textured walls had to go. The easiest and most inexpensive way I’ve found to do this to cover them with these thin sheets (0.11″ thick) of this hardboard at Lowe’s. They’re only $9 for a 4×8′ sheet… so cheap!

I picked up four of those of that plus two 4×8′ 1/2″ thick MDF panels to rip down for the strips.

The most important part of this project is planning. Seriously—you have to be thorough and meticulous.

Before I bought anything, I laid it all out on my computer to scale and this is what I came up with.

The second section on the top right is the smaller/entry wall. The two rectangles at the bottom are how I’d cut my MDF sheets, and they are color coded to make sure there was enough to cover both walls. Everything fit nicely onto two sheets and I even had some leftover.

I made the top piece 1.75″ thicker, because that’s the height of the crown molding I’ll be running along the top—that way all the visible strips will be the same thickness.

The vertical gaps were consistent all the way around, but since the entry wall is narrower, the horizontal gap was shorter—not a big deal at all.

I also planned out the particleboard sheets to make sure I had enough:

I already had narrow section leftover from our window trim project, so I just needed four more to fill the rest. Perfect.

The total came to just under $95 (after my 5% Lowe’s credit card discount) which I think is pretty amazing. The only other items needed are caulk, spackle, and paint (and of course nails and a nail gun) which I had so this project is a huge bang for your buck.

Time to get started. After clearing everything out, we had to address our TV situation. A few weeks back we had an electrician relocate the cable, hence the holes in the wall (it was coming out of the window wall on the left from outside and ran across the floor… no bueno).

We had debated on keeping the TV on our dresser or wall mounting it, and decided to go ahead and wall mount it to get all the wires and cables out of sight, free up dresser space, and for an all around cleaner look. I could take it or leave it, honestly, but it makes Brad excited so it was worth it.

We trimmed the first panel (after measuring and cutting a hole for the outlet with my jigsaw) and nailed it into place with our brad nailer and 18ga nails (no liquid nails!)

At some point I double checked my measurements and realized I made a critical error which left me with a large gap that wouldn’t be covered by the vertical board (this is the setback I talked about Monday).

So, I had to scrap the board and run to Lowe’s the next day for a replacement piece. But we forged on with the rest of the installation…

This paneling part was actually the biggest challenge in this entire project. Working with
4×8′ sheets of anything is not fun (as learned in our ceiling beadboard attempt… aka the worst DIY project in history)

It’s a challenge because you have to make sure it’s completely flat up against the wall, and you secure it to the wall in a specific pattern so no air bubbles can get trapped… all while holding it steady up next to the other piece.

And because walls and floors aren’t straight, your panels won’t line up exactly in some places but that didn’t matter at all since the seams would be hidden by the MDF boards.

We also had to cut around the beams which got a little tricky at times, since they aren’t perfectly straight. But I got it close enough to where you can’t really tell.

Before putting up the last board, Brad installed these outlet housings for behind the TV.

Then the fun part, trying to cut the panel so it lines up perfectly with both holes and the beam and other panels.

To make life easier, we cut that panel down into a narrower strip (which would be covered on both ends by MDF boards).

And finally, after 2 days, Phase 1 was complete.

Fortunately it only got easier from there. After ripping down our boards into 4″ strips (and two into 5.75″ for along the ceiling), it was onto Phase 2.

Before installation, I lightly sanded the edges to make sure everything was nice and smooth. Then I just nailed it up… super easy!

I measured and marked where my next board would go, and used a level to ensure it was straight.

A couple of them ran into beams, which I notched out using a combination of a miter saw and jigsaw.

It went by fast… nice and easy.

After the vertical pieces were in, I started with the horizontals, making sure to measure for each gap as they all varied slightly.

This part was simple too. You just have to take your time and measure carefully.

This is the fun part, when you start to see your vision come to life.

There was only one roadblock here… cutting around an outlet. I used my jigsaw—it would be completely hidden behind the TV so it didn’t really matter.

Brad later added a couple blocks over the studs where the TV mount would secure to (this will all be hidden, don’t worry).

About 4 hours later it was done (this was just me, so with two people it could go a lot faster).

Time for Phase 3… spackle, caulk and paint. This wasn’t so bad either. Not nearly as time consuming as I thought.

I added a 90° edge piece around the corner to hide the seam.

I used fast drying caulk so I could paint the same day, and used my Mouse hand sander with 240 grit sandpaper to smooth out the dried spackle.

After thoroughly wiping everything down with damp rags, it was time to paint! I recruited Brad for this one—he rolled on the smooth edges (with a cabinet grade foam roller) while I cut in.

By the way, I’m getting much better at not having to use tape. I cut in the entire thing (around the beams, walls and floor by hand. Having an awesome short handled angled brush is so important!

I used the same paint from the plank wall behind the bed (and in the studio)—Valspar’s Ocean Storm in an eggshell finish. It dries so fast and it’s amazing.

A couple hours later, our wall was complete.

Now, all that’s left to do is swap out that old outlet, add quarter round in the corner, and crown molding. This weekend I actually plan to trim out the entire room (finally), including baseboard, quarter round in a few places and crown molding. It’s going to look so nice and finished… I can’t wait.

We’ve already mounted the TV and tonight we’ll bring in our new dresser and start setting up that wall. Our rug is also here so that will be set up this weekend as well. Lots to look forward to on Monday!


DIY Book Nook Contest (& a quick bedroom update…)

Stopping in today for a rare Tuesday post to share some exciting news! Readers.com recently contacted me about using our Florida Sunroom in their upcoming favorite reading nook contest and I happily obliged:

I’m up against some pretty awesome bloggers so I’ll need everyone’s help for this one! It takes just a second to enter, and if I win, one of you will win three awesome prizes too…

How to Enter

Visit Readers.com’s blog (here) to select the reading nook you want to win! Remember, you can enter up to one time per day.


The blogger whose reading nook design receives the most votes will be selected as the winner of the contest. An individual who voted for the winning design will also be selected, at random as a winner. Both individuals will receive the following (amazing!) prizes:
  • $100 Home Improvement Gift Card
  • $50 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • Kindle Paperwhite

Official Rules

  • You may vote for your favorite reading nook once per day beginning 7/15/2014 through 7/29/2014. You must provide your email address each time you vote.
  • The blogger whose design earns the highest number of votes will win.
  • Anyone who voted for the winning blogger will be entered into a pool for a chance to win the voter prize package.
  • The winner of the voter prize package will be selected at random and will be contacted by the email address they provide.
  • Contest is open to residents of the United States and Canada.

Those are some great prizes and would go a long way in helping us finish off this master bedroom. Speaking of which, last night we completed Phase 1 and I snapped a photo on instagram

It’s a little confusing right now, but hopefully tonight I’ll make some good progress to share with you in a couple days.

Have a wonderful Tuesday—be back soon!

How to Enter

Input your email address in the quiz form above and select the reading nook you want to win! Remember, you can enter up to once a day.


The blogger whose reading nook design receives the most votes will be selected as the winner of the contest. An individual who voted for the winning design will also be selected at random as a winner. Both individuals will receive the following (amazing!) prizes:

  • $100 Home Improvement Gift Card
  • $50 Amazon.com Gift Card
  • Kindle Paperwhite

Official Rules

  • You may vote for your favorite reading nook once per day beginning 7/15/2014 through 7/29/2014. You must provide your email address each time you vote. 
  • The blogger whose design earns the highest number of votes will win. 
  • Anyone who voted for the winning blogger will be entered into a pool for a chance to win the voter prize package. 
  • The winner of the voter prize package will be selected at random. 
  • This is a contest. Odds of winning depend on eligible entries received.
  • Contest is only open to residents of the United States and Canada.
  • No purchase necessary to enter.
  • Winners will be notified via email.

– See more at: http://www.readers.com/blog/diy-re


Master Makeover: A rustic vintage dresser redo

It finally happened. I’d been stalking every local thrift/antique/furniture store and local online sale sites looking for the perfectly sized and shaped unpainted wood vintage dresser to replace this Ikea one in our bedroom…

I’ve been looking pretty much daily this whole year and had zero luck. I was desperate and willing to pay more than I planned on. And then, last week, it came out of nowhere.

It was just what I had envisioned. And it was only $90! I hit the jackpot. An hour after I spotted it online it was in my garage and disassembly had begun.

While the style/shape/size were perfect, I wasn’t a fan of the finish. I don’t mind warm wood tones, but this thing was a very outdated shiny reddish-yellow hue that would never work for our style.

So I started gathering inspiration…




As you can see, rustic was the goal. Painting would have been so much easier, but I definitely wanted to keep the wood tones. Our room really needs a more distressed/farmhouse style piece to break up all of the clean, painted woodwork.

FYI—this project was very time consuming + labor intensive, and was completed over the course of a week as I couldn’t handle more than a few hours at a time.

The dresser was in pretty decent shape, but there were lots of very obvious scratches:

I had planned on sanding it down to the bare wood so this didn’t matter at all.

There was a thick layer of varnish so that had to go first. Instead of sanding it away (which would quickly clog up the sandpaper), I grabbed a hand scraper and got to work.

So very tedious.

I finally decided I had enough and busted out the paint stripper. I picked up a new can of liquid stripper (on the right) to try out, and it was worthless. Stick to the paste/gel!

Here’s the gel, doin’ it’s thing…

It makes scraping much easier, but it also doesn’t take up as much so I was still left with the reddish stain (whereas the scraper alone could get down to the bare wood).

And the drawers…

Oh yeah, stripper is probably the messiest stuff you’ll ever work with.

Here’s all of the drawers, de-varnished.

The sides were a huge pain. The wood
was different than everywhere else and it did not want to let go of the varnish, even after two coats of stripper.

Mid-progress… bear in mind it was also 100° in this garage every afternoon. I had old sticky paint stripper and sawdust stuck all over me the whole time (so glad this project is over).

After several days, I had finally all of the varnish removed and it was time to start sanding.

But first I used my scraper to roughen things up a bit and give it that weathered look.

As soon as the sandpaper hit the wood, I started to see the light at the end of the tunnel. It really diminished the old red stain.

Ahh… bare wood!

Looking much better. The legs and trim pieces were different types of wood than the sides, top and drawer fronts so they sanded down to a nice colorless wood, while the rest retained most of its natural red tone, which was a little frustrating.

This one jumped up mid-sanding and rolled around on it for 30 minutes. She’s in love.

After I deemed it sufficiently sanded, it was time to stain. I used a concoction of dark walnut, driftwood, and weathered gray and began to apply….

And I was not a fan.

I thought the gray would combat the red tones, but instead it intensified them and made everything pinkish looking. Huge fail.

All I could do was sand all the stain off and try again. I was a few hours into it, and then tragedy struck…

He was working overtime for this project and just couldn’t handle the pressure any longer.

So I ran to Lowe’s, and my life was forever changed…

Seriously, I’m kicking myself for not getting one of these earlier. It’s night and day from the old hand sander—I was blown away at how well it worked, especially for this project where there are so many small crevices and detailed areas where the other sander just couldn’t cut it.

Finally things were starting to look up, and I was able to finish sanding all that stain off in no time.

Knowing that any stain I add would bring out the red again, I decided to go au natural and embrace the mostly-bare wood tones.

But I still wanted to seal it somehow… so I picked up this wax, hoping for a coating that wouldn’t be visible so I could retain the old weathered look.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case.

You see the little orange spot on the corner? That’s after buffing out a bit of wax, and it turned it red again. It doesn’t look so bad in this photo, but trust me, it was right back to where I started and I didn’t want to go down that road again.

So I’m leaving it natural. Any dings and scratches will just add to the character. Amen to farmhouse style.

I reused the original handles as I don’t mind them, but I’m open to swapping them out. It might be a little tricky since the drawers are curved though.

er all the ups and downs of this project, I’m happy with the end result and can’t wait to move it in the room to see how it looks! For now it has to stay in the garage, because we’re currently in the middle of transforming the wall. Here’s a little idea…

Ignore the colors, obvs.

We’ve already ran into an issue which set us back a day, so I don’t think it can be completed by Thursday. That means it will be broken up into two parts, and I have a couple more room updates along the way. If you can’t wait until then, be sure to check my instagram for real-time progress!

Alright, better get to work…


Master Makeover: A DIY Chandelier Transformation

How’s this for a Transformation Thursday?

Best $45 ever spent… I can’t stop staring at it!
This fixture was originally hanging in my current studio when we bought the house (it’s probably the one thing we were actually able to salvage from the home, woohoo!)
I neglected to take an installed Before photo but you can see it at the top of this one when we first stepped inside this house:
After removing the glass shades I saw some potential.
It sat in storage until a couple weeks ago when I started to formulate my plan. If ever there was a place to add some romance and sparkle, a master bedroom is it. We’ve added a lot of architecture and hard surfaces to the space so far—now it’s time to balance that with some softness and set the mood.
The recessed lighting has completely transformed the feel of this room (I could go on forever about on how important lighting is), so this is yet another way to control the atmosphere, and why not also make it a focal point in the room?
Once the plan was set in motion, I headed to Pinterest to find tutorials as I had no idea where to began. Pinterest fell pretty short here… I only found a few and they weren’t that detailed, leaving me to mostly try and figure it out on my own.
I did find a great online source for inexpensive crystals—Cristalier.com.
After sketching out a rough idea and using string to lay out my strands, I placed my order:
15 feet of glass beads and 5 crystal pendants (and I found a Facebook code online) for under $40 shipped, not too shabby.

Before I could think about hanging them, I decided to spray paint the metal in a satin black. Just wasn’t feeling the hammered silver.

I hung it from the garage door for easy paint application…

After painting & letting it dry for a day, I disassembled it and removed the chain and rod so we could mount it directly to the beam.
Now, how to attach these crystals to it? With these little clasps called jewelry bails:
I can’t find a closeup of the ones I used but they were the only ones Joann’s carried. And they were kind of a pain.
At first I tried attaching them with hot glue, which was a total joke. It didn’t bond at all. Then I used Epoxy and it worked.
Each bulb housing had to have two (one on the inside and one on the bottom).
I also added five on the top plate.
The key is to use a big ‘ol blob of glue to cover it completely so it stays secure.
After letting it cure for a few hours (just to be safe) I added some weight and they stayed on!
To make them blend in, I sprayed a couple more coats of paint so there was no visible silver.
Because we had removed the chain and modified the top, there had to be a way to secure the chandelier to the wood beam, so we drilled some holes into the top plate and drove long screws into the beam.
Then came the fun part… dressing it up! I started by adding the hanging crystals.
Then I split my 15 feet of chain into one foot sections to connect between each post (luckily the wire loops connecting the beads bend pretty easily to take them apart.

< div>I draped five sections up to the top piece (ignore the bulbs, they were temps.)

Then five sections from the bottom of each post to the bottom center.
Then I used the last five sections to go between each post.
I grabbed up another small hanging crystal at Joann’s for the bottom center (I just thought it needed one more there).
Lastly, I picked up some Candelabra bulbs from Lowe’s (around $1/ea):
And boom, instant romance.
It emits such a gorgeous glow.
Especially at night.
Just what this room needed.
Sorry, I couldn’t stop taking pictures (ignore the unfinished parts, please!)
One more…
The room is starting to feel less like a construction zone and more like a Master Bedroom. Except there’s still dust and screws and nails everywhere, and it will be like that until we’re done (next month!)
Just for fun, can we look back to what this room looked like not too long ago?
So glad we’re over that phase! But there’s still a long way to go, and I’m happy to report that I scored my greatest find ever this week… my vintage dream dresser. It’s currently in the garage getting a makeover so it should be ready to show off on Monday. Check back then for the results, or if you can’t wait, follow my instagram for real-time updates 🙂


Master Makeover: DIY Wood Beams

Alright, let’s try this beam reveal thing again! Shortly after last week’s post, my dad came by and we were able to finish the job. Here’s how it all started…

Most of you remember our DIY kitchen ceiling beams, right?

We loved the way those turned out so we just repeated the process here—which means I won’t go into extreme detail (you can check out the post above for more info).

With the layout of the master bedroom the way it is, I decided three beams would make most sense. One in the center and the other two up against each wardrobe. There was no wood long enough to make it across the whole room (~15 feet) so each beam had to have two parts, just like in the kitchen.

I ended up buying 24 pieces of wood—12 1x6x8’s and 12 1x4x8’s (enough for six beam sections, each one with 4 pieces of wood).

I used regular whitewood pine to save money and just picked the straightest ones I could (this part is crucial). I also grabbed a few thin strips of metal to make into straps, and the total came to around $140 (we only ended up using one metal strip so I’ll get $20 of that back once I return the extra two).

Once all the boards were here, I cut them all to half the length of the room (78″) and set aside six of the 1×4’s to use as the ceiling strips (they will be completely hidden).

For the visible boards, I used a hammer to distress them.

Pine is soft and distresses nice and easy.

Then I stained them using a dark walnut stain.

After letting them dry overnight, it was time to begin installation. I recruited my dad for this one.

First, we marked where the left beam would go against the wardrobe…

After making sure it was nice and straight all the way across, we screwed the ceiling board into the studs (luckily they run perpendicular to the beams!)
Then we added the second 1×4.
We repeated the process for the other two beams, leaving a gap in the center for the light box.
Ok, easy part out of the way.
Then it was time to assemble our beams. This is definitely a two person job. We took our 1×4 and applied wood glue to the side, then grabbed the 1×6 and lined it up at one end, securing it with a nail gun (finish nails work surprisingly well to hold them together).
Since the boards aren’t perfectly straight, you have to constantly adjust the two boards as you work your way down to make sure they stay lined up the whole way.
Then you flip it over and add the other 1×6, and your beam is done.
The most challenging part is getting these beams around the ceiling piece. Usually you have to pry the sides a bit so they’ll slip over the 1×4, and it sometimes requires a third person to assist.
We had some real difficulties with that when we did the kitchen, so this time I shaved 1/8″ off all of the ceiling 1×4’s and it seemed to help.
Once the beam was up, we drove some finish nails into the side along the 1×4 and they were in there good (we used 16 gauge nails this time, and 18 gauge in the kitchen—either one is fine).
The first beams went up without issue, but then we got to the last beam and ran into a big problem…
The ceiling was curved up which left a large, very visible gap above the end of the beam. There’s no way to bend the 1×6 upwards to cover the gap—it would just make the opposite end too low where it met the other beam.
Not only that but the wood was really twisted.
After trying to think of every possible remedy, I realized there was just no way it would ever look right… so down it went 🙁
The next day I was back at Lowe’s, trying to find two 1×6’s that were bowed upwards at the end to match the shape of the ceiling. I got lucky and found them. No more gap.
Looks a little funky here but it’s really not something you notice in person.
We also had to deal with it bowing from side to side…
To make sure it lined up with the other beam, my dad used a clamp and drove a few screws through both beams to keep them together.
It worked!
For the center beam, Brad extended the wire and drilled a hole through the bottom so that we could hook up our chandelier (that’s coming up in the next post).
To conceal the seams, we used the same process as our other beams by making these DIY metal straps:
I decided not to add any on the ends because there’s going to be a wall of paneling on one side and a lot going on on the other side, so they would probably be in the way. I may change my mind once those walls are finished but for now it’s best to leave them off.
This part was easy… just secure them with a small black screw at the top on each side.
We drilled a hole in the center beam for the wires to pass through.
And there you have it… three finished beams.
It increases the cozy factor by at least 200%.
So glad we took the time to add these. They’re now a major player in this room.
In a few days I’m adding a little romance & bling to this room in the form of a DIY crystal chandelier. Check back in a few days for that transformation… I’m excited to see the results myself!


My 5 best tips for buying wood at Lowe’s

I was so pumped to share our new ceiling beams with you guys, but we had a critical malfunction during installation and they aren’t quite finished. Ah, the perils of real-time blogging.

But to tide you over until Monday, here’s an instagram shot I posted Tuesday admist the action:

They completely change the room. More on that in a few days…

While I was at Lowe’s picking up replacement lumber after our incident, I learned a couple interesting things that were too good not to share, and decided to spill my secrets and advice.

These are things I wish I would have known years ago—they would have saved me so much time, money, and headaches! Now you can learn from my mistakes.

I’m at Lowe’s more than any other place (besides my own home). No joke. So after years of marching up and down the aisles and who knows how many thousands of $$ spent, I’ve collected some important pieces of information that I think everyone should be armed with before they go for a lumber run.

Keep in mind that a couple of these may not be applicable to all stores—make sure to double check locally first!

1. The board basics

This may be common knowledge for many of you, but walking into the board aisle can be overwhelming at first. So many boards, so many sizes, so many kinds of wood! Here’s the deal: the “whitewood” boards are the cheapest, and what I use for probably 80% of my projects. They take up one entire side of an aisle in all different sizes, from 2″ wide in the front up to 12″ wide in the back, in varying lengths up to 12 feet.

On the other side of the aisle you have the higher quality (i.e. oak and poplar) boards. They come in the same sizes as the whitewood, but most do not have knots/ragged edges, and most importantly—they are reasonably straight. 9 times out of 10, the pine (whitewood) will have some bowing and/or curving in it. I always set my piece on the ground and hold it up to a flat surface to gauge the straightness. Sometimes it takes a lot of sorting to find a good one. For some smaller projects this won’t matter, but for important things like building furniture, unless you want it to be rustic looking, buy the more expensive wood.

Here’s Board Buying 101—the listed measurements are not accurate. For instance, a 1″x4″x8′ board will actually be 0.75″x3.5″x8′. All of the boards in this aisle are 0.75″ thick. In fact, any board sold anywhere that says it’s 1″ is really 0.75″. If the number is 2″ or larger, you can subtract 0.5″ from that measurement. The length will generally be accurate. Make sure you account for this when planning out your project so you don’t end up short.

2. Your wood is probably green.

No, I’m not talking about the color. “Green” wood means it has been freshly cut from the tree and it hasn’t fully dried yet. Why does this matter? Warping.

All those warped whitewood boards you see? They were much straighter when they were unloaded off the pallet. But because they’re green and dry out naturally over time, they will warp however they want to (shorter width boards tend to bend the most).

This is a problem because if you build something while the wood is still green, it may end up shifting. With “1-by’s”(1” thick boards) it doesn’t make a huge difference (a screw will usually hold it in place pretty well), but with 2-by’s, it can be a big deal.

Remember this bar we built in our kitchen?

Before I knew anything about green wood, I bought these 2-by’s that were very green (actually damp to the touch) and sadly, one board has bowed so badly that we have to rip it out and replace it. Our kitchen tabletop (made from 2×10’s) has also separated a bit (even after strapping the boards together and driving four screws into each one).

It’s really a crapshoot—some will dry straight, some will dry extremely bowed, but you won’t know until 2-3 months later when it’s fully dry.

This is not exclusive to Lowe’s—it’s everywhere that sells lumber. You can buy pre-dried wood at some places (not even sure if Lowe’s offers this) but it’s mega expensive.

Update: Reader Jonathan added this piece of advice: “The best way to dry pine evenly without warping is to lay it on it’s thin side (for a 2×4, lay it on the 2 inch side), leave a space between all the boards for ventilation, and minimize contact with floors and walls by resting them on wood scraps spaced out every foot or so.”

3. Save money by buying bowed boards

I just found this out yesterday, but oh man, I would have saved a ton of I’d had known this all along. I’m often unable to find perfectly straight whitewood boards in the size I need, and if perfection isn’t crucial to the project I’ll settle for something bowed/cracked/chipped instead of paying more for the poplar/oak wood.

Well, guess what? If the board is bent, you can get a discount! I always feel bad asking for discounts so I’ve kept my mouth shut, but yesterday while I was loading some replacement boards onto my cart, the sweet lumber guy informed me that because they were bent, he’d be happy to give me a discount. So I got both boards for 50% off:

Honestly, the boards weren’t even that bad. Probably no worse than half of them on the shelf. If I would have known that two days ago when I purchased 24 boards for our beams… I could have saved some major cash.

The associate said that any time I’m there, if I see a board that has a defect, bring it to him and he’ll mark it down for me. The cashiers up front can also take discounts, but only 10%. Go directly to the lumber guy.

This is great news if you ever find a board that is damaged at one end and you won’t be using the full length of it anyway… changes the game plan a bit, right? I’m not advocating we should all go out and abuse the system (I’ll still feel some remorse asking for dis
counts even if they’re warranted) but it’s nice to know that policy is in place if you need it.

On that note, if you aren’t picky about your wood, I also learned there’s an area outside in the front of the store where they sell discounted defective lumber. It’s worth looking through!

4. Free project wood cutting—a thing of the past?

Most of you already know that Lowe’s offers free wood cutting. I have taken advantage of this many times, having them cut my boards and sheets of wood into various shapes and sizes because I didn’t own the proper tools and/or vehicle to transport them home.

Last month when I asked them to cut a 4×8′ plywood sheet into 4″ strips for my DIY salvaged door project, they said “Sorry, we don’t do that anymore”. My heart sank. Apparently it takes up too much of employee’s time to make all these small cuts (project cutting, as they put it), so now the policy is to only cut wood to fit into cars. I had driven there in a small car so it had to be cut down anyway, and I asked super nicely if he could do it just this once so I could fit them in my car. After some hesitation, he finally agreed.

We bought a truck a week later.

I’m not sure if this is a company-wide thing, but it’s something you should definitely look into if you have smaller cuts that need to be made!

*On a semi-related note, make sure to account for the blade width when having sheets cut down. It will eat up about 1/8″, so if you have a 48″ wide board and want to cut it into 4″ strips, you’ll get 11 4″ strips and the 12th one will be closer to 3″. Also, you won’t often get really straight pieces when they rip down sheets because they are so thin and the boards flex. It’s hard enough to get them straight at home on a table saw when you’re going slowly, but these guys work fast and accuracy isn’t their concern.

Update: Reader Autumn’s husband works at Lowe’s and says his store still does project cuts, so hopefully it won’t take effect everywhere!

5. I found secret weathered-gray wood!

And it’s insanely cheap!

I’m not sure if this is a new and/or temporary addition, but I just noticed these 1x4x8″ whitewood boards underneath the 1x6x8 section and fell in love. They have this beautiful natural gray weathering to them (some more than others), and they’re smooth, straighter and half the cost of regular 1x4x8 whitewood boards!

When we lived in Florida there was something similar at my Lowe’s, but I believe they were 2×4’s (maybe even 2×6’s as well?). Sadly they don’t carry those here, but at least they have these. It might be a regional thing, but I hope they stay forever and I can’t wait to use them in some projects.

I also have a special shop update—this has been requested so many times over the years, and I’m thrilled to announce it’s finally here!

The quality of these prints are amazing. I’m working closely with a great company here in California, and after months of sorting out all of the details, I’m so happy with our partnership and can’t wait to start sending them off to you guys! You can learn more about the canvas prints here.

I’ve also updated my discount structure if you’re looking to stock up on a few items for your home (or are in need of gifts for others!)

The codes are available on every product page and you can simply enter them at checkout for the discount.


Alright, back to home stuff.

Now that I’ve divulged my best wood-buying tips, I need you to help me choose a bench!

Originally I had planned on adding a chaise underneath this window in our bedroom:

Old photo, I know…

But after measuring, I realized it would be a little too cramped (my max size allowance is 60″ wide by 28″ deep)

So, I started looking into benches. And I can’t decide!

Here are the contenders….


Pros: It’s only $175 shipped. The color is perfect and it has side arms which I really wanted. Perfect size.
Cons: It’s a little simple (I was hoping for tufting) and I’m slightly concerned with the quality at that price.


Pros: Lovely tufting, love the shape and the legs, perfect size.
Cons: It’s $360, which is a bit more than I wanted to spend. Also I’m afraid of keeping all that white clean.


Pros: Love the fabric/color, love the shape (minus the legs, I could try to switch them out). Perfect size.
Cons: $350 shipped and it doesn’t have tufting. Although it has enough detail to probably make up for it.


Pros: This one is definitely a different type than the others, but it’s just so pretty I couldn’t resist. Love the shape, tufting, style, everything.
Cons: It’s $380, and the size isn’t ideal (slightly taller and deeper than I wanted), and no side arms.

5.  (added by reader suggestion)

Pros: It has tufting and side arms. It’s $309 shipped which isn’t awesome but better than the others.
Cons: I’m not sure about the color/material, looks a little cheap and darker than I wanted, and the description says beige but the reviews say gray. Not a fan of the legs but I could switch those out.

So, what would you choose? It’s surprisingly difficult to find seating that meets my criteria (and isn’t insanely expensive). If you know of something similar, please show me! Or just tell me your favorite bench so I can make a decision already 🙂

And if you have any additional questions or advice for Lowe’s lumber shoppers, I’ll do my best to answer and contribute more tips to spread the word.

Now it’s time to finish these beams so I can have some progress to show you on Monday. Have a fun & safe holiday weekend everyone!


Master Makeover: Bedside Baskets & Accordion Lamps

After a relaxing week-long break from house projects while my sister was in town, we’re back and ready to jump right in to this bedroom makeover.

Those of you who follow me on instagram got a little peek of the action on Saturday…

This is a somewhat photo-heavy post (to make up for being MIA for a while!)

So, last time we left off with the most challenging project we’d ever tackled. And it wasn’t over yet… we were left with a ton of nails that needed to be dealt with and holes that needed to be patched. Our Friday evening looked like this:

Brad hammered all the misfired nails in while I came behind him with spackle. We had to use a hand sander on many spots because the surface was protruding where some of the nails went in (beadboard is a strange soft and fibrous material, unlike wood).

After everything was sanded smooth and patched, I ran caulk along the seams and we let everything dry overnight. The next morning we came back and sanded over the dried spackle and we were ready to paint.

A few hours later, this project was finally OVER.

And now we have a pretty new ceiling, ready for some beams.

After that was out of the way, it was onto the next project—floating basket shelves.

The gap between our bed and the wardrobes is too small for a side table, so I opted for something with a smaller footprint, and also used the opportunity to bring in some warmth through texture.

I picked up these water hyacinth bin at The Container Store for $10/ea:

To make them more functional, I decided to add a shelf inside each one using a scrap piece of wood I had in the garage:

After measuring the basket depth and width, I ripped them down to size on the table saw and stained them with one coat of Dark Walnut so they blended in nicely:

Now—how to install them? We threw a few ideas around, and ultimately decided to try drilling a couple long screws from the inside of the wardrobe to the back of the shelf, which would also hold the basket in place.

It totally worked. Here’s the inside of the wardrobe:

We also placed a screw on the side of the basket to hold the shelf level which is completely hidden by the basket weave.

The process was repeated on Brad’s side:

A couple small screws were placed at the very bottom (from inside of the basket) just to be safe, and after pulling and pushing on them, it’s safe to say they are very secure.

We don’t keep a lot of stuff near our beds (our old nightstands just had a tiny drawer), but we do like to charge our electronics so Brad decided to make the shelf extra functional and run wiring through the back for our chargers.

First, we drilled a hole at the very bottom of the wardrobe and ran an extension cord through it (this will be hidden in a second….)

I plugged the charger into the extension cord and Brad drilled a small hole in the wardrobe, just large enough to fit the end of the charger through:

And now we both have built in/hidden charging stations:

The handle opening at the bottom was bothering me, so I cut a piece of scrap plywood to size, stained it and placed it at the bottom (it’s a tight fit inside the basket so it won’t go anywhere), and now we have a flat place to set our drinks (or whatever):

Then came the lamp

I picked up two of these beauties on Amazon for $147 shipped back in January:

It looks like the price has gone up a little since then, but I still think they’re by far the best deal around for that style.

Here they are in the flesh:

They were a lot more rustic than depicted in the photo (rust being the key word). I can’t tell if it was intentional or if someone just left them sitting outside for a few decades, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it. Brad wanted to keep them as is, but I worried it was a little too shabby so I gave them a couple light coats of black satin spray paint just to give it a slightly cleaner look.

When they were dried and ready, it was time to hang them. There were a couple hole notches in the back so we measured, marked and drilled in a couple screws, then Brad made a hole near the bottom for the wire.

Earlier we had picked up a touch pad dimmer, so instead of flipping a switch (which this lamp did not come with) it would remain plugged in full time, and we’d use the touch pad to control it.

We decided to mount the dimmer on the wardrobe behind the basket so it wouldn’t be easily visible—which also meant we had to unscrew the basket to drill another hole behind it:

The hole had to be large enough for the end plug to pass through. Here’s a shot of it from the inside of the wardrobe:

So that just plugs into the extension cord we ran earlier for the phone charger. Brad still has to organize the cables, but everything is hidden behind the wire baskets so you can’t see it when you open up the wardrobe.

I used velcro to mount the dimmer and it works like a charm:

After the wiring was taken care of and we were ready to mount the light, we realized that it had no extension control. Unless you tilted it backwards, it would be fully extended, so I used a small zip tie (painted black) to hold it in:

I can still move the zip tie down and let it extend whenever I want to, but it’s honestly not at all necessary so it will probably just stay like this.

I love the way they turned out! Ignore the distracting unfinished plank wall, we can’t finish it off with quarter round for a while.

The final element to our bedside storage are these wire and canvas baskets I picked up from Walmart (for just $13/ea!)

I love the added touch of the chalkboard. I’m a little obsessed with these baskets.

They are perfect for storing/charging my laptop and iPad, which I frequently use in bed at night:

How about some shots with everything all put together?

Don’t mind the weak basket storage styling… I just threw a few practical things in here for now so you get an idea of all the possibilities, maybe I’ll get more creative for the reveal…

Here’s the lights in action:

My absolute favorite part is the improved atmosphere set by all of the new light sources. There’s just a completely different feeling in the room since they’ve been installed.

The cozy factor is slowly steppin’ up and it’s slowly becoming my favorite space in the house.

And the kitties’, too…

Any time of day you can almost always find either Susie or Biscuit in that spot (sometimes both if everyone’s getting along).

At this point I’d say we’re just about halfway done now that a few big projects have been marked off the list (wardrobe installation, plank wall, and ceiling). The next two major hurdles are the ceiling beams and paneled wall—I think both will make a huge impact in the room.

Time to start planning our next project… I’ll check back in soon!