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Master Makeover: Ikea Pax Door Hack

Our Pax wardrobe is rockin’ some fancy doors right now…

I cannot tell you how relieved I am that this project is complete. I’ve spent ~20 hours over the past 3 days on this after running into a couple road blocks, so I’m extra excited that I’m finally able to relax and enjoy them.

Yesterday I posted a little peek on instagram while the doors were drying…

But let’s rewind to Monday.

If you remember in my Pax wardrobe part 1 post, I mentioned that I had hoped to get the Bergsbo style paneled doors we have on our pantry, but Ikea didn’t have enough in stock so I settled for the  plain Ballstad doors instead, knowing I could transform them somehow.

Excuse the poor garage lighting…

At first I was going to recreate the same paneled look (I love the way it turned out on our foyer door) but then I decided since I’m going through all this trouble, I should switch it up a bit.

I settled on a criss cross barn door style pattern, similar to this but without the horizontal bar in the center:

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It has a rustic farmhouse meets German cottage style vibe—perfect. Let’s get started.

For the panels, I picked up a cheap 1/4″ 4×8′ plywood sheet at Lowe’s (the pinkish wood that’s $15) and ripped it down into 3″ strips.

Warning: this stuff is not easy to cut into skinny strips using a table saw. At all. There were two of us trying to keep it even the whole time but half of them ended up a little crooked.

It’s because they’re so flimsy. I probably should have splurged for the $30 cabinet grade 1/4″ plywood because it’s sturdier and easier to cut.

Once they were all cut, I selected the straightest strips to use for the edges and started cutting them to the correct length:

Then I chopped up some of the leftovers for the top and bottom horizontal pieces.

For the cross pieces,  I measured to find center and lined it up across the door, then used a straight edge to draw my cut line.

Then… I realized I didn’t have a saw that would cut that angle (it was way past 45°, more like 75°) so I searched through my arsenal of tools to find an acceptable alternative.

At first I tried my skilsaw, but that was a disaster, so my only option was a jigsaw. Yikes.

If there’s ever a project to perfect your jigsaw skills, this one is it. Things started out pretty rough, but by the end I had it down…

All I can say is… thank goodness for caulk. And spackle. And sandpaper.

Anyway, after spending half a day making a million cuts and using up every last board I had, my pieces were arranged and ready to attach…

Then I realized my 1″ finish nails were too long, so I ran to Lowe’s and picked up some 5/8″ brads for my nail gun.

That worked.

I spent the rest of the evening spackling all the nail holes and caulking every point where the wood met the door…

Finally, I sanded everything and thoroughly vacuumed & wiped them down with deglosser. They were ready to prime:

I used two coats of Zinsser’s shellac-based BIN primer (in the red can)—the shellac based is designed to work with the plastic-y surface of the Ikea doors:

After making sure to sand (using 220 grit) and wipe down the doors between each coat, I applied two coa
ts of Valspar’s Signature paint in satin (color matched to Kelly Moore’s Swiss Coffee):

While the doors were drying, I painted the edges of some strips of wood I picked up to go between the wall and the side of the wardrobe. I decided these were necessary so the doors could open up all the way (they were really close the wall).

After everything was dry, it was time for installation.

We attempted to secure our strip of wood to the drywall using inserts, which worked at first, but as soon as we secured the back of the wardrobe to the back wall, the inserts all ripped out. Oh, the joys of crooked walls.

In the end, we decided to just attach the painted wood piece to the wardrobe (instead of the wall) and secure everything in place through 1×3″ boards we added in the back corners (which are hidden of course). These things aren’t going anywhere.

Then we put the doors on.

And added hardware.

I picked these Fintorp handles up from Ikea. Love them.

And then it was time to celebrate because these wardrobes are IN!

I like them.

I like them a lot.

It only cost $15 so even though it took 3 days out of my life, I can’t really complain.

And of course I’ve already started organizing in here. I have a project or two lined up for the inside so there will be more to come.

Brad’s side is still empty. I’ll work on him.

We still need to add crown molding and baseboard and trim along the back wall, but at least they’re fully functional. And fun to stare at cause they’re just so pretty, I think.

I’ve got a packed weekend ahead (birthday party, graduation party, Father’s Day) but I’m going to try to squeeze in a planked wall between the wardrobes. Hopefully it will be picture-ready by Monday for you guys (which means I need to start this afternoon!). I’ll make sure to post real time updates on instagram if you can’t wait until then 😉

Have a happy & productive weekend!


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Master Makeover: Paint & Pax Wardrobes

Now that we have a plan for the master bedroom, I didn’t want to waste any time so this weekend we got right to it.

Step #1: Paint.

Well, paint the two walls that won’t have any wood treatment, which left the window wall and the door wall.

There’s going to be a lot going on in this room, so I wanted to keep it simple and light with a barely-there gray (Valspar’s Montpelier Madison White—the same shade we used in the living room, studio, and hallway—pretty much the base color for this house).

Brad used the roller while I cut in the edges and corners with a short handled brush and we knocked it out in under 30 minutes… so much easier than using tape!

I didn’t bother to paint up to the back wall since that’s where our built in wardrobes would go. And we’re adding crown so we didn’t go up to the ceiling.

I also didn’t paint inside the window sill because we’ll be adding trim (just like we did in the kitchen & studio)

After that was done, we removed the trim to begin preparation for the wardrobes.

Then came the wardrobe assembly!

I purchased two Pax wardrobes that were just the right size for the room…

I had planned to purchase the Bergsbo style doors like the ones we used for our kitchen pantry

But sadly, they were out of stock. So I chose the plain flat doors. Don’t worry, I have a plan to pretty them up starting tonight—hopefully they’ll be done and ready to share with you guys in a few days!

I did have something fun in mind for the inside though—fabric covered backs. I considered wallpaper at first but fabric is so much more readily available and cheaper, so I picked up 6 yards at Joann’s for $20 along with some modge podge:

I love the feminine touch the damask brings without being too girly.

There’s no photos of the application process because we both had our hands full, but we found the most efficient way to do it was coat one small section at a time with the modge podge, then pull the fabric and smooth it out, working your way down the panel. It was a lot easier to have two people so one could keep the fabric pulled back while the other smoothed it down.

The fabric was 43″ wide and the panels were 40″ so it was perfect! I just had to cut the length off at the bottom. It didn’t matter if it hung over the sides since it would all be hidden.

After the back panels were covered, it was assembly time. Pretty straightforward, easy stuff.

Here’s our fabric panels, nailed right in to the back:

Once the first wardrobe was assembled we proceeded to stand it up and…. crash…. it hit the ceiling!

For whatever reason, the ceiling height in our bedroom is shorter than it is in our kitchen (95″ instead of 96″ like they’re supposed to be), so we had to disassemble the wardrobe and reassemble it while standing up. Bummer. Always check first!

Brad was not enthused about this part.

All was well in the end…

Ignore the bed, yesterday was laundry day.

Then came my favorite part, setting up the pieces inside!

I don’t need any more clothes storage so I decided mine would be a vanity area with all of my jewelry/accessories, so I picked up a couple shelves and some wire basket drawers.

Because the wardrobe is up against a wall, I had to be careful about
how far the door could open so this wouldn’t happen…

The door opens up just enough so the basket can slide out, but after I add my treatment to them tonight I’m afraid it will be cutting it too close. This means I’ll have to add some 1×8 boards between the wall and the wardrobe to push it out slightly (I’ll do the same with the other wardrobe as well).

Here’s the setup I decided on:

Brad’s side will be mostly used for clothing:

Looking forward to stocking these things up!

The wardrobes aren’t attached to anything right now—we still have to secure them to the wall, add crown molding, and then get those walls planked behind the bed for the finishing touch.

And that’s it for now, folks. I have a lot to do over the next few days but I don’t want to rush it (paint takes time to dry!) but I’ll try my best to have the doors done by Thursday.

See you back here at the end of the week!


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The Master Bedroom Plan

I had hoped to get started on building a fireplace mantel this week, but that project turned into trying to figure out how to relocate the TV to redoing all the wiring to replacing the entire fireplace surround to rearranging the whole living room and getting new furniture… and I got overwhelmed. So I’m going to ignore it for a while until we can come up with a good solution (I’m hoping the answer will magically reveal itself to me but no luck so far…)

In the meantime, let’s focus on our master bedroom! I’ve drawn up this handy plan as a guide…

Now, most of what you see above aren’t the exact pieces/colors I plan to use, they’re just representations of similar pieces I hope to find.

Here’s what the room looks like right this second:

I’ve only posted pics of this room once or twice–since then we’ve (temporarily) hung the headboard and added bedside lamps.

Excuse the sloppiness, I clearly didn’t style it for you guys (sorry).

The only thing we did to the space was add flooring and furniture. That’s it. Even the old owner’s green high-water curtains are still up.

I’ve given a lot of thought to this space and I can’t wait to get started. I think it will be a contender with the kitchen as my favorite room in the house (or ever).

Ready for the breakdown?

First let me show you my favorite inspiration photo from The Nester. I can’t stop staring at it.

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The cozy feeling you get from this photo and rich muted tones—that’s what I’m hoping to recreate.

Let’s start with the back wall:

I bought two Pax wardrobes from Ikea which will flank the bed:

They’ll reach the ceiling and I’ll make them look built in with trim/molding. I also plan to do some sort of treatment to the doors (mirrors, panels, paintable wallpaper? haven’t fully decided).

I’m ditching the nightstands and going with wood crates mounted to the insides of the wardrobe (there’s just enough room, and it will be perfect to stash our stuff without taking up floor space). I may DIY these, or just stain the Joann’s crates like I did in the studio

Or who knows, maybe I’ll even use woven baskets.

Also mounted to the inside of the wardrobes above the crates will be these fun accordion lights I bought a few months ago:

On the back wall in between the wardrobes I’ll be using up the last of my tongue and groove planks and painting them dark gray (the same color as I used in the studio):

Now let’s move to the window wall:

Of course I plan to swap the curtains, and also add bamboo blinds. Not sure about the color/pattern yet—we’ll have to see how it unfolds. Below the window I’m picturing a comfy little chaise or settee…

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Except all the ones I like are either really expensive or too deep (I only have a couple feet to work with). There’s still upholstery foam leftover from our kitchen bench seats so I may just end up making something. Or just buy two chairs and call it a day.

I’ll probably end up painting that wall a barely-there light gray.

Next to the sitting area I’ll add a small side table and this lamp (which currently stands in the living room):

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And if there’s room on the right side of the curtains I’ll hang some framed art.

Now for the next wall…

I plan to try out a new molding treatment—square panels painted in a deep gray:

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I think I’ll make them actual squares though, like this (but on a larger scale):

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I also plan to replace the white Hemnes dresser with something wood and more vintage…

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I’m having a hard time finding anything remotely similar on local thrift sites and stores, so I may be waiting for a while (or end up spending quite a bit). It will be worth it though.

I’m also thinking about refacing my Ikea mirror with a wood treatment (maybe stained plywood strips?)

And moving it to another wall, because in that corner I’d love a fireplace…

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So romantic. It wouldn’t be an actual built in fireplace though of course… just one of these electric guys:

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The TV will stay, so I plan to frame and hang a few pieces of art on the wall surrounding it.

And now for the last wall…

From left to right, we’ve got a linen closet, the bathroom, and the main closet. When we do our big bathroom remodel I plan to get rid of the linen closet and bathroom doors (we’re gutting/rearranging the whole space), but for now they will stay as is and I have some artwork in mind to hang in the empty space between the two doors (or the mirror will go there once we get the fireplace in, whichever comes first).

But eventually, I’d love to add a sliding barn door over where the current closet is…

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That might have to wait until the bathroom remodel though, not sure yet.

And for the floors—I plan to get a large natural woven rug (at least 9×12″). I’m waiting for a good sale at Rugs USA before I pull the trigger… I might just go with my old favorite, the Maui Chunky Loop

Layered on top, there will be a plush sheepskin rug on either side of the bed:

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And as for the ceiling… a sparkly chandelier is definitely in order.

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I’d also love to try a ceiling treatment. I’m leaning towards the DIY wood beams we made for the kitchen (probably without the planks):

Or maybe I’ll do some sort of wallpaper? Or just paint it a solid color? I think it just needs something. Any good ideas?

Here’s some final bits of bedroom Pinspiration I’ve been drooling over…

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(there’s a lot more where of where that came from on my Pinterest!)


Keep in mind these plans are more of a guideline… things may change a bit once we really get into it (that’s usually inevitable with any transformation). But either way, as long as we end up with a cozy space, I’ll be happy.

If we don’t come up with a game plan for our fireplace in the next few days, I think we’ll go ahead and get started on the bedroom. First up is installing the wardrobes—so that’s what you have to look forward to next week!


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Foyer Update: DIY Salvaged Door

About five weekends ago I did a little foyer makeover but there were a couple things missing. This past weekend I was finally able to tackle them and I’m so happy with the results…

I couldn’t help but share a little preview on my instagram while staining it on Saturday…

But first let’s stop and rewind.

Here’s the best before photo I found…

Sadly I forgot to take a pic of the old light. It was just a very non-descript, round white plastic flush mount box. Nothing special at all.

I wanted to bring a little “oomph” to the space so I found this cool pendant lantern at World Market

For $99, I was sold.

It included a long chain which we couldn’t use since we have standard 8′ ceilings and were worried about tall people bumping into it, so we removed the links to hang it as high as possible.

I love it so much.

That was easy enough…. next up came the real challenge: making this door look like an old salvaged wood door. There’s not a lot of sources for real vintage doors around here, and the ones I do find are either not the right size or style, or would need too many mods to fit, or they’re just too expensive.

The existing door was one of those cheap-o hollow core synthetic wood deals… and it was pretty beat up.

You can really see the fake wood grain texture here…

If you have one of those old school plain wood doors it would be ideal for this project, assuming you could sand down the stain a bit. Because mine wasn’t real wood, unfortunately I couldn’t strip & sand the paint off. That meant I had to face my worst nightmare again… wood veneer.

If you saw my post about my first attempt at this, you’ll understand why I hate it so much. Although to be fair, it’s the contact cement I hate—not the veneer.

But I was determined to make it work this time. I bought the same 2×8′ sheets as I did last time (from Amazon) for a total of $70 (this project isn’t exactly cheap if you don’t have wood doors to start with).

Fortunately, I only needed veneer in the centers of the door so there was minimal cutting involved. I just trimmed the length with a sharp utility knife (it didn’t have to be exact at all since the edges would be covered by wood).

This time I used a LOT of contact cement. Two solid coats.

And I waited 20 minutes before applying the veneer.

And it worked.

I thought I was going to have to veneer the inside edge, but I started sanding and realized this piece was actually real wood (score!) So I just stripped & sanded the paint off.

After veneering both sides, I brought the door inside of the house to adjust to the climate. On my last attempt, my table had sat in the garage for 2 days and after I brought it inside it was ruined, so the temperature shift definitely had something to do with it. I thought if I brought it inside right away, it would have a chance.

That evening around midnight, I checked on it and was horrified to see that it had started bubbling! Not as bad as my console table, but still… I was so bummed. I smoothed it down as best as I could and called it a night, expecting to see the bubbles come back by morning. But surprisingly… I woke up and it was completely smooth.

Not sure what happened there, but I didn’t want to take any more chances so I decided to finish this project inside…

Back in the garage, I had plywood strips cut to 4″. I bought a sheet of cabinet grade plywood at Lowe’s ($30) and had them cut it for me. I would have done it myself, but the sheet was too big to fit in my car so I let them do it.

Let me tell you… those workers don’t care about your project as much as you do, so they’re just going to run your board through the cutter as fast as they can and you’re going to end up with a lot of crooked pieces.

I only needed about 7-8 boards, so I set aside the straightest ones to use for this project.

I started with one of the vertical pieces that ran along the outside edge where the door handle would be. After cutting the length to size, I traced inside the door hole and used an arbor around the same size to cut it out:

Then I lined it back up on the door and used 1″ finishing nails every several inches to attach my piece:

And the first piece was on!

Up went the next one…

Then I measured and cut my horizontal strips. I went with 6 which appears to be standard for old doors.

Then I flipped it over and repeated the process:

And finally, it was time for stain.

I used a blend of Minwax’s Dark Walnut combined with touches of Rustoleum’s Driftwood and Weathered Gray. There was no real method to this… I just dipped my sponge in and spread it around however I thought looked best. I intended for it to look weathered so I wasn’t aiming for perfection.

Then I took some 60 grit sandpaper and roughed it up until I was happy with the results.

Before rehanging it, we had to deal with this door casing. Because I made the door wider, these inside pieces of trim had to be pushed back so the door would latch properly.

We removed the strips…

It was pretty rough looking under there, so I sanded everything down while Brad removed the old nails.

Before putting them back on, the door went back on the hinges…

Then I stepped inside the closet with my air compressor and flashlight, shut the door, lined the casing strips back up and nailed them in.

A bit of caulk & paint later, and this project is done!

And here’s the new light in action:

I didn’t have time to make new wreaths so they’re looking a little sad, but can you believe these have been up for a month? They’re champs…

I love the way it warms up the space.

One day I’ll give the inside of this closet a makeover…

Here’s the view from the entrance to the kitchen:

And reflecting in from the mirror…

Here’s an older shot just for fun…

And now the foyer is officially done! I would love to do this to all of the doors in our house… but sadly they are mismatched, and I’d also have to decide if it’s worth $100 per door. Or maybe I can look for someone getting rid of their hollow core wood doors that are the right size and transform them for just $30.

Next up on the to do list? I’m trying to decide between a DIY fireplace mantel or getting started on our master bedroom. Or being lazy and taking the week off 🙂 We’ll see what happens…


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The Jenna Sue Design Co. Studio Reveal!

Another space has been marked off the to-do list…

This was one of the first rooms we started on after buying the house because it needed to be fully functional before we moved in a few months ago.

I ignored it for a while to focus on the kitchen, but now that that’s out of the way it was time to add the finishing touches.

Let’s take it way back to the beginning with the first photo we ever took in the house…

The room greets you right when you walk through the front door, and it was used as a library/sitting area (I assume?) with built in bookshelves…

The built ins were nice but they took up about 15″ of space that I desperately needed if I was going to convert this into my work area…

It also had a closet which was the perfect place for my shipping supplies.

Here’s a view looking back at the front door.

We ripped out the built ins, carpeting and gutted the closet…

Added some much needed lighting and window trim…

Built a half wall over the open stair railing and began planking…

And more planking…

Added trim, paint and lighting…

Set up the desks and equipment…

Maximized the storage space inside the closet…

Added shelves & artwork…

Finished off the desk with fabric for hidden storage, and built a large crate for bulky shipping supplies…

And finally, built this storage crate wall for smaller organization.

And now she’s ready for her big debut! Welcome to the Jenna Sue Design Co. studio…

You’ll have to make it past our kitty guard first.

I was inspired by these and made my own a couple days ago to replace the junky cardboard boxes that were there:

I love the softness the fabric brings to the space—it really helps to balance out all the hard lines and surfaces of the electronics.

But my absolute most favorite part about this space is what’s outside the window…

It’s such a nice space to spend the day in (and sometimes nights).

And that’s my studio!

So, what do you think? It was definitely a challenge to go from my last studio—a larger area where I could spread out—to a room about half the size. I was worried I wouldn’t be able to make it work, but it just forced me to get creative with the layout and storage solutions. So far it’s working out just fine!

If you missed any of the progress, here’s a project roundup:

Adding window trim
Planking, adding trim & lighting, painting
Setting up the workspace & adding ledges
New art & DIY floating shelves
DIY wood crate & hidden desk storage
Rustic crate storage wall
File organization

And there you have it, our second “finished” space. By Monday I hope to cross a third off our list—the foyer. You thought it was done already, didn’t you? Turns out I have two more projects planned for this weekend, one is something I’ve never attempted before and I’m nervous/excited about it—you’ll have to check in next week to see what it is!


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Studio Update: Crate Wall File Organization

Happy Memorial Day! Hopefully you’re all getting to enjoy the outdoors today with family and friends. We spent the weekend in Tahoe celebrating our 5 year anniversary…

 

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The weather (and scenery, as usual) was perfect.

We even got a chance to get together with family we haven’t seen in years and meet new relatives…

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Love that place. If you’re ever in Nor Cal, it’s a beautiful drive there and a must-see!

Before we left for the weekend I took some time to sort through all of our files and reorganize studio storage wall.

Way back at the beginning of this blog, I did a complete organization overhaul and ditched our old file cabinet in favor of a binder filing system:

I even made these printable binder templates so you could use them too:

This system has been working great for 3+ years. We always know exactly where everything is and it’s super easy to file papers/receipts away as they accumulate.

Now that we’ve moved across the country, bought a new home and undergone some renovations, it was time to update the filing system.

I started by laying everything out and determining what I could purge/combine/reallocate:

Several of the magazine boxes contained filler or things I no longer use, so those were the first to go.

I corralled all of the receipts I’d saved from our current house into these convenient expandable folders:

On our last trip to Ikea, I picked up a few of these wardrobe boxes which I thought would be perfect for storing bulkier papers and items:

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I used one for manuals/warranties, one for business supplies, and another for all of our important house documents.

I didn’t change up the actual binders much as they were doing a good job already… here’s a peek at the inside of our Florida house binder to get an idea of how it works:

I use these page tabs to divide the sleeves into different categories:

Once I had everything organized, it was time to make new binder labels. I wanted to tone down the colors and keep it more neutral/sophisticated, so I opted for a simple striped background with a classic serif font (Bodoni):

Once everything was printed and trimmed, I just slipped the labels into the binder sleeve:

For my magazine files, I picked up these bookplates at Office Max:

They’re adhesive so I could easily apply them directly to the surface:

Then I printed out labels, cut them to size and slipped them into the bookplates.

And now this storage wall is good to go!

The top serves as a shelf to store my smaller packaging supplies.

Narrow ledges on the wall above it display charts and prints waiting to be packaged.

The lower profile design works great in this small space—it visually opens up the room and allows for a wider passageway around the desk.

Simple, clean and clutter free… just the way I like it!

Are your files in need of spring cleaning? If you haven’t tried the binder filing system yet, now is the time! I’m even offering up my printable templates to help you get started.

You can download the blank templates in both binder sizes:

Click to download BLANK TEMPLATES
Or download these pre filled templates here… use as many or as little as you wish:
Click to download PREFILLED TEMPLATES
Or if you like the old colorful templates, you can still get those here.
The templates are designed to print on 13×19″ paper (the label height is 11.375″, a little too large for standard 8.5×11″ paper)—but if you don’t mind them being slightly shorter, you can print them full size on 8.5×11″ (you’ll have to break up the labels on the pre filled template sheet to print full size—use borderless printing if possible). I recommend either card stock or heavyweight paper for best results.
Hopefully this will keep you busy & productive this week! It’s a big time consuming undertaking at first, but once you get a system down and everything filed away into its place, it’s such a relief. I promise.
I’m wrapping up with the finishing touches over the next few days, and I hope to have my final Studio Reveal Tour by the end of the week—make sure to come back and check it out!

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Studio Updates: Rustic Crate Storage Wall (& my failed veneer attempt)

Today I’m sharing the dark side of DIY. It’s not often that a project completely fails to the point that it can’t be salvaged, so when it does it’s pretty upsetting.

As you can tell by now, I’m eliminating all of the turquoise in this house. I had this console table in the studio because it was the perfect size and just deep enough to hold my supplies but not take up too much room in the small space:

My dad built this piece for us years ago—here’s a glimpse of it in our first home (on the right):

A couple years ago I painted it blue for our Florida house…

And now I wanted it a natural wood color. Problem is, the surface was veneered, and once stained and painted there’s no way it can return to its natural wood color.

I really wanted to keep the table, so the only way to get what I wanted was to cover the surface with wood.

Enter veneer. Veneer isn’t cheap. The best deal I found was this on Amazon. And I had to buy two sheets so it ended up costing $70.

The material itself is like a really thick, sturdy paper. Seemed easy enough to install.

You can buy stick and peel veneer but it’s quite a bit more expensive, so I decided to just use contact cement.

After lightly sanding the table, I opened my can of contact cement and read the instructions…

It said to apply it to both surfaces and let it dry for 15-20 minutes, which seemed long to me.

My first mistake was not applying enough (you can see the thicker areas above where it’s yellowish and shinier—the entire surface should have looked like that).

The veneer just soaked it right up so it dried up real fast.

I figured that just meant I didn’t need to let it dry any longer, so I applied the veneer way too soon.

I didn’t notice there was a problem at first—it seemed to hold okay. The most challenging part of it all was trying to cut my piece to exactly the right size and apply it perfectly straight so it lined up evenly everywhere. That was my third mistake—you’re supposed to cut the veneer larger, apply it, and then trim the edges off. I didn’t have the proper tools to do this, just a dull utility knife.

I tried setting the table on top of the veneer after both sides had the glue applied, and then cutting the excess off on the ground, but the table is very heavy so it was near impossible for me to lift it up and set it down while lining it up perfectly. This is definitely a two person job.

Still, I managed to make it work as best as I could and I thought it was coming along pretty well.

It was a lot of work and very time consuming, though. I worked on it over the course of 3 afternoons.

Once all my flat surfaces were veneered, it was time to address the front edges. I picked up these lattice strips which were the exact width of my boards (1 5/8″) and also a light colored wood.
This was the easiest part of the project—I simply cut the pieces to size and nailed them on.
Then I patched all of the holes and seams where the veneer met, and sanded it all down.
For my stain, I used a random mixture to achieve a weathered brown-gray wood effect: Rustoleum’s weathered gray, driftwood, and dark walnut.
I was pretty happy with the results…
And I was relieved it was over.
Until the next morning, when I woke up and found this:
Every DIY’ers worst nightmare. The entire table was covered in big air bubbles. I figured it had something to do with the temperature change caused by bringing it inside (and also improper contact cement techniques, of course).
In a desperate attempt to salvage it, I peeled off the top layer and applied a ton of contact cement to both surfaces. I let it dry for the recommended amount of time (20 minutes) and began to reapply it.
Unfortunately, it worked a little too well this time because when I tried to peel it off to reposition it, it wouldn’t budge. I pulled as hard as I could and it ripped to pieces. And that’s when I made this sad instagram post:
The table is covered in dry contact cement and is now ruined, so I lost over $100 worth of veneer, trim and stain, as well as a nice table my dad hand built for me. It was a sad day.
I sulked for half a day and pulled myself together to come up with a Plan B.
Pinterest to the rescue… I spotted this crate bookcase and that was my answer.
via Pinterest
The cheapest and most easily accessible crates I know of are these for $13 at Joann:
The size was just right, too. Just slightly narrower than my console table which might even be better because now there’s a little more room to walk by.
With the 40% off coupon Joann always has, they come to $8.40 each. I already had two crates so I just had to pick up 4 more. You can only use one coupon per item/visit and I didn’t feel like making 4 separate trips so I paid full price for 3 of them. Still, a great deal though.
For the stain I decided to use a combination of Minwax in dark walnut with just a touch of Rustoleum’s weathered gray (basically the same combination I used for my large storage box).
It takes a little while to get into every little nook & cranny (~15 min for each box) but it was easy and I loved the way they turned out.
To secure them to the wall, I located the stud and drilled two screws in each crate (at the top & bottom)
They are dark enough to blend in but will be hidden by binders anyway.
Then I got to a road block… the outlet.
I took the cover plate off and the outlet ended up fitting perfectly between two slats, so I simply cut out a small section in the center with my jigsaw.
I left the cover plate off because it would have been even more noticeable—my scale will be plugged in 24/7 and there will be objects in front to hide everything.
To minimize gaps between the crates and make it one single solid unit, I also screwed them to each other.
Susie wanted to break them in…
They’re quite sturdy and they should hold up just fine to my binders and files.
I started to add a few things already, but tonight and tomorrow we’ll be going through all of our files and purging/reorganizing. I haven’t done that since I first set up my binder filing system over 3 years and two moves ago!
I’ll be rearranging some things and updating all the labels to fit in with the new house. 
That was a pretty popular topic with you guys last time, so if you love organizing like I do, you’ll definitely want to stay tuned for next week’s post. 
Can’t wait to fill these babies up! Better get started now…

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Studio Updates: DIY Industrial wood crate & hidden desk storage

Sorry for being MIA last week… I had a project ready to share with you guys on Thursday morning when disaster struck…

via Instagram

I’ve since regrouped and developed a Plan B which I’m actually more excited about, so I’ll be spilling all the details soon.

In the meantime, I decided to work on something else in the studio by addressing this desk storage situation…


This is the first thing you see when you walk into the house, and it was a mess. My last studio was big enough that I didn’t need to utilize the floor for storage, but this room is about half the size and I have a lot of large bulky supplies that need to be stored underneath.

I knew right away that I wanted the space to be hidden. I thought about adding a panel either with more wood planks, MDF or beadboard, but there’s already so much wood work and hard surfaces in that room so I wanted to soften it up.

I love the look of this fabric from my girl Roeshel at DIY Showoff

That was definitely the way to go.

The goal is to keep the space simple, neutral and calming as to not compete with the artwork, so I went with a natural linen fabric found at JoAnn’s.

After laying it out, measuring and cutting to size, I grabbed a scrap piece of wood from the garage that was cut to 1×1″ and used it as my base. Then I simply folded the fabric over every 4-5″ or so and used a staple gun to secure it in place.

Then I nailed it to the desk from underneath:

Instant hidden storage! I later added trim around the top but forgot to snap pics so you’ll just have to wait for the final reveal…

I didn’t wrap it around the sides because I need to access my shipping tubes all the time…

Which brings me to my next project—building a storage box.

I needed something much larger. Two of those cardboard boxes wouldn’t fit under the desk, and I’m constantly running out so I desperately needed a bigger storage container so I can have a larger supply on hand.

I still have lots of tongue and groove pine leftover from all of our planking projects, so it was a no brainer to use those.

Building a box is a pretty straightforward deal—four sides secured together and a bottom.

My pine planks were 8′ long, so to minimize the amount of waste I cut them into thirds so they were all 32″ long (which worked out nicely for the width of the desk).

Because the edges have a tongue and a groove, I had to rip the top and bottom boards down so they were flat. You can see the original board on top and a ripped one on the bottom:

I also decided to use the flat side instead of the grooved side for the exterior of the box. Just a personal preference.

Because the boards lock together, I didn’t need to join them with nails or screws (just wood glue), so I just had to decide how to connect each side to each other.

I thought I’d give the Kreg Jig a try, so I made pocket holes along the ends of two of the sides:

I began by assembling them one board at a time, using a square to make sure they were level and wood glue along the tongue as I went.

And here’s two of the sides joined:

I noticed that some of the screws were coming out of the other side of the wood, so after the first pieces were together I decided to scrap the pocket holes and use screws on the outside instead:

I also decided that assembling the sides first and then securing them to each other was easier and faster.

Here’s my lovely assistant helping me attach the last side:

Everything was nice and square and solid in the end—success!

I had a piece of 1/4″ cabinet grade plywood leftover from another project that was somehow miraculously the exact same length as the box, so I just ripped the width down and we had our base.

We shot a some nails through the bottom to secure it…

And our box was ready for stain.

I wanted it to be somewhat rustic looking and let the grain show through, so I used a dark walnut stain with just a touch of weathered gray to neutralize the brown.

We used a paint brush to get into all the crevices. Love the way the color turned out.

For a cheap and easy handle, I grabbed some rope, drilled a couple holes into the top, fed it through and knotted it.

To add that extra special touch (and to hide all the screws) I found this metal L-trim piece at Lowe’s:

I bought 4 of them (@ $4.90/ea) and used a hacksaw to cut them to size (the metal is thin so it cuts easily). We used a metal file to smooth down the sharp edges.

To attach it to the box I drilled pilot holes on the top and bottom to insert screws.

Before attaching it, I gave them a coat of satin black (I thought the dark trim would give it more of an aged look).

It came out a little too shiny for me, so I used some steel wool to lightly buff and weather it:

Much better…

Finally, I used black screws to secure them on:

And the box was ready for action! And a cat photobomb…

I have so much storage space now… never running out of tubes again!

The box is fairly light so it slides in and out easily and fits neatly out of the way when I’m not using it.

Here’s a shot from the other side of the desk. It’s still completely hidden from view when you wa
lk in the front door—you have to actually walk inside the room and turn the corner to see it.

And that’s the latest from the studio! I’m almost ready to give the final tour… just need to revamp my file organization/storage wall which I’m starting on tonight. I have that lined up for Thursday (along with the details my failed veneering attempt… sigh).


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Our Home Theater Room: The Reveal

I had some studio projects lined up for this week but had to order something at the last minute, so those will come next week!

Some of you have been wondering about our theater room since my Phase 2 update back in January. We’ve added furniture and have been getting some good use out of it—I’ve just been so busy with the kitchen that I’ve neglected to take photos—until now!

This is one of those rooms you really have to experience to appreciate. Looking pretty isn’t the goal here (although I tried, but in the end it still designed to be a dark cave). The main goal was to create an escape where you can enjoy a real theater experience without leaving the comfort of home. And I’d say we accomplished that.

I have to give the credit to Brad—this one is all him. Of course I gave him my input on a few design choices, helped pick out the furniture, and spent days hemming and hanging curtains…

Before I explain any more, let’s take another look back to how it all started.

The downstairs was one large and odd shaped room when we purchased the house. This is standing from the back—you can see it’s divided into two areas.

Here’s the area to the right, which is now the theater room.

No one knows what those platforms were there for, so we decided to embrace it and use it as elevated level seating.

In order to block all of the light out and make the downstairs a multi-functional space, Brad decided to separate the two areas and build a wall to enclose the theater room:

The door was later moved to the left

There was a closet adjacent to the theater which made the perfect equipment room.

Brad painted the walls black and wired a bunch of speakers…

Added carpeting…

I ironed, hemmed and hung a bazillion curtains around the perimeter…

We used special paint on the back wall to serve as our screen, finished it off with trim…

And installed fancy lighting…

Finally, we added furniture and cushions for a cozy viewing atmosphere. So I’m calling this project Done.

This room is a little tricky to photograph—because it’s so dark, I have to set longer exposures so the lighting is a little wacky. Tucked inside the crown molding is a color changing LED strip with a bunch of different settings controlled by a remote. The two lights in the center also change colors via remote, so we can control the mood at any time.

We picked up a couple of these black faux leather recliners along with this couch that folds out into a sofa bed if we ever need extra room for guests. They didn’t break the bank and so far we are really happy with them.

The entrance is behind those taller curtains, in case you were wondering:

There’s seating for 5-6 people up here…

But there’s also a good amount of floor space, so I brought in a bunch of large cushions for more casual seating.

The projector is seriously impressive. It’s an Epson PowerLite Home Cinema 3020 and it does 3D (which is awesome!)

To create the screen, we sanded down the back wall with a super fine grit and used a special white paint color designed to optimize the picture. It was much cheaper than buying a separate screen and we have no complaints so far.

The most impressive thing in the whole room has to be the sound. Brad installed this set of angled speakers up in the front (left, center and right channels)…

Two of these surround speakers on either side of the room..

This 12″ Cerwin Vega powered subwoofer (which shakes the whole room…)

And two of these on the back wall:

In the equipment closet next door, we have our Comcast Xfinity receiver, Xbox 360, amplifier, and Home Theater PC. All of these are connected to the room so we can do everything from watching cable TV to playing video games to browsing the internet and it will be projected on the screen.

If you care to know the technical details, here’s a summary from Brad (he’s also happy to answer any specific questions you have in the comments):

The Onkyo HT-RC270 7.2 Channel Receiver is powering the 7.1 Surround Sound system in the theater room. All the wiring is run inside the ceiling and walls via wall plates behind the receiver (visible in the picture of the equipment room.) There is an HDMI cable running from the receiver, to the wall plate, then up through the ceiling to provide video to the projector. The whole system is supplied network from the main switch in the upstairs closet via Cat 5 ethernet cable, which connects to a wireless router and 5 port switch in the equipment room. There is a Home Theater PC on the shelf which can play any content and stream from the internet. The Comcast Xfinity Remote Control is RF so it works though the walls. We are using an RF Extender on the Onkyo receiver (looks like a UFO on top of it) to be able to use the remote control in the next room. The Home Theater PC uses an RF wireless keyboard and track ball to operate from the next room.

And of course, there’s color changing lights in here too.

I wish I could invite you all over for a movie night, but you’ll just have to trust me that it really feels like you’re inside a theater (but better because it’s not 50° and you don’t have to sneak alcohol in your purse…)

I took a quick video last night which doesn’t do it justice of course, but it’s still fun to see it in action!

As much time, money and work we put into the kitchen, the home theater room is still the favorite of nearly everyone who comes over. I’m not much of a movie person myself, but I have to admit it is pretty cool to have something like this in your home (American Idol finale party, anyone?). If only I could figure out how to operate it when Brad isn’t here…
Over the next few days I’ll be finishing up our foyer, then wrapping up this week with projects in the studio. Excited for these ones…

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Living Room Updates

Stopping in today with some way overdue living room progress!

Last time you saw it, we had just painted it & finished the new railing and it looked a little something like this…

A big bright empty shell, basically. It had a view going for it but that’s about it.

Step 1: Window treatments. When I ordered the woven shades for our kitchen, I picked up the same ones for the living room (the two rooms open to each other so I liked the consistency). They’re the Singapore Oak color from justblinds.com.

Definitely helps to combat the starkness.

To add even more texture and soften things up, I picked up these 118″ long Ritva panels from Ikea, which I am loving (huge shout out to a sweet reader named Erin who saved the day & sent me an extra Ikea curtain rod bracket at the last minute!).

They’re a nice thicker linen weight, much more substantial than the Vivan panels I’ve used in the past.

Step 2: Art. Remember this 20×20″ framed photo gallery wall I put together for $50 in our old bedroom?

I thought they’d be perfect for the tall narrow walls on either side of the windows, so I switched up the arrangement and hung them up the other night…

…ignore the awkward TV placement, that’s unfortunately where the cable jack is and we’re working on relocating it soon!

The next addition was a piece of furniture. I spotted this antique sideboard on our local Facebook buy/sell page and knew its was the one.

I think I talked them down to $220, but it was the perfect size and I had been looking for months (hard to find anything good up here), so it was worth the splurge.

This was actually a month ago… remember the instagram photo I took of Susie modeling it the day I brought it home?

Here it is filled with treasures.

The top row houses artifacts from our travels, and I’m still working on the bottom row. I just threw a few items in there for now, but it will be fun to switch up with the different seasons/holidays.

I also grabbed a few items out of storage for the top—this date wood block I made a couple years ago and a little birdie for spring, along with one of my newer chalkboard prints.

I love the hand carved detail on this cabinet.

To finish it off, I framed one of my prints in an old Ikea Virserum frame I painted black.

It’s a 20×28″ cityscape of San Francisco (my favorite city, and so far my favorite piece of art in the house) you can get your own (of any city) here 🙂

Not sure how I feel about the glass doors yet—I’m leaning towards replacing them with chicken wire for something a bit more rustic. As for refinishing, the wood is in great condition and I like the natural color, so I plan to leave it as is for now. I may do a light sanding and restraining in the future to something slightly darker.

And see that pop of greenery on the right? I found this ficus tree on the same local Facebook group and picked it up last Friday.

I haven’t had a lot of luck with indoor plants in the past, but I’m determined to make it work in this house. So I have high hopes for Fitzgerald the Ficus (I figured if I named him I’d be more inclined to try and keep him alive).

Now that the room has some personal touches, I feel like it’s finally starting to come together.

Starting being the operative word—we still have a long way to go.

But we’re getting there!

And Susie has become quite the gymnast since we put up the new stair railing. She’s been practicing her balance beam skills—running across the top level and jumping onto the couch below—and she’ll sit on this post for hours.

Biscuit, on the other hand, thinks it’s a scratching post. Bad kitty.

This weekend I’m turning my attention back to the studio for a few more updates, and by the end next week I hope to have it 100% done and ready for the official “After” tour. Time to get organized!