Finished flat Roman shade
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Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shade Reveal

Showing off my new flat Roman shades is what I hoped to post last week, but due to other priorities, that was not possible. I’m happy to report one of my two Roman shades is finished! Underestimating the time needed to complete any DIY project is definitely a problem for me. Even when I’m trying to be very realistic, I tend to be way off. I thought I could get two shades finished in one week. Well, it looks like I can only get one done in that period of time!

As mentioned in this post, these shades are for function and beauty. The dining room window faces west, and the sun in the spring and summer is brutal for the lucky people seated facing the window. The sunshine is downright blinding. For that reason, oh and privacy and needing window treatments in general, I decided to make a flat Roman shade for this window and the corresponding window in the living room.

flat roman shade

Dining Room Window Before

The dining room is not a room I’ve shared on the blog yet, mostly because so much of it is incomplete. Maybe this summer I’ll finish it? Here is a look at my naked window. This poor window has looked like this for five whole years. Five! I’ve never put any curtains, shade, or blinds on it; I guess you get used to things and they seem normal after a while. Right?

window without shade

Dining Room Window After

And now looking much more finished! The folds have not been trained yet, so those will be flatter and more even in time, but I’m so happy with how it turned out! Window treatments add so much to a window and room! As I’m typing this, I keep peaking over at the dining room window to check out the view, and it looks good!

Finished flat Roman shade

Even though the shade is fully operational, it will be open most of the day and likely night. It will only be closed to hide that blasting evening sun during dinner time.

Although perhaps we will start shutting the shade at night. We’ve lived with bare, open windows for so long, I don’t know that I’ll remember to shut them at night! Do you shut your curtains/shades every night? I leave everything wide open on our main floor. Am I the odd ball here?

functional roman shade

To optimize the light from this large window and to match the height of the curtains over the sliding door also in this room, I opted for an outside mount and hung it about 6 inches above the window trim. Hanging window treatments higher and wider than your windows is always a good idea though. It helps the windows look larger and blocks less light when the shades are open, and it tricks the eye into seeing uniformity between all the windows and doors in a room, even if they are all different heights.

For the most part, these flat Roman shades are straightforward to make. It’s just a rectangle with rings attached, no pleats or anything fancy to factor in. However, it challenged my ability to draw a straight line. Who knew it could be so difficult? I drew the rectangle for the face fabric at least 3 times, and I don’t mean a tweak here or there 3 times, erasing-the-whole-thing-and-starting-all-over 3 times. Dan finally helped me see the pattern was printed on the fabric crooked. Ah! Sanity restored! I’m planning to share a tutorial once I get the other shade done, and I think a bit on how to draw a straight line might be helpful. Anyone else struggle with this? Am I alone in this struggle?

One more house project, done! One step closer to a more finished, functional, and beautiful home. Flat Roman shades are a relatively easy DIY project to add color and interest to your room. They block the sun, provide privacy, and add a structured splash of color to liven up your home.


What beauty and function have you added to your home lately, DIY or not? Do you have any Roman shades in your home? Love them or leave them?

flat roman shade

roman shade books
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Roman Shades | Planning and Inspiration

Welcome to Flawed yet Functional! I like to get my hands dirty making my home beautiful, and my next area to tackle is window treatments for my living room and dining room windows. Roman shades are my latest obsession for window coverings. Full length curtains are my first love, but sometimes curtains are just not right for the window or space. Roman shades are great for blocking light and adding privacy while adding a splash of color to a room. Form and function, that’s really what I’m all about!

Planning a Roman ShadeMy living room and dining room have been sporting naked windows since we moved into the house 5 years ago! I think it’s time to make some window coverings!

Roman shades beforeI would prefer full-length drapes on all the windows on my main floor, but the location of the fireplace prevents that. The fireplace was installed by the previous owners after the house was built. They did not leave enough space between the window and the fireplace mantle for drapes to fit without covering part of the window. Roman shades will provide the privacy and light protection needed without encroaching on the fireplace (“Need”, if life has gone on 5 years without it, is it a need? Ha!).

Even though these windows are in separate rooms, they are almost always visible together. My plan is to make matching Roman shades for these windows, and eventually, make coordinating full length drapes for the front window and back sliding door.

Full disclosure: I’m totally second guessing this decision of matching Roman shades. Just so you know, I’m ok with making decor mistakes in my house. If you read this and think, “What are you doing, Emily? That is all wrong!”, feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! I’m ok with learning through my mistakes and other’s wisdom. I hope to inspire you to take risks too!

Style of Roman Shade

Since the options are limited as far as style of drapery for these two windows, the only options I needed to consider were style of Roman shade and inside or outside mount. Before we explore the styles of Roman shades, let’s talk briefly about inside or outside mount.

The two classic Roman shades I’ve made so far were both inside mount. An inside mount shade is mounted inside of the window casing, so the shade is the same size as the glass part of the window. An inside mount still gives plenty of privacy, but there is a sliver of light that shines through on the sides between the shade and the window casing/trim.

In the dining room, the shade is desperately needed because the evening sun is blinding during dinner. I would hate to go through all the effort to make a beautiful shade only to have that sliver of light still land in someone’s eye still resulting in shifting back and forth throughout dinner. For that reason, I will be hanging these shades outside and above the window casing, even with the drapery rod over the front window and slider door.  I’m hoping having all the window treatments hung the same height in these two rooms will make them look more cohesive and intentional.

Flat Roman Shade

The flat Roman shade is just that, flat from the top of the mounting hardware to the bottom of the shade. It raises in neat folds but does not use dowel rods to help create the folds. Since no dowel rod is used, this eliminates the horizontal sew lines. The flat Roman shade has the cleanest, simplest lines of all the Roman shades.

simple roman shade, love the fabric

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Relaxed Roman Shades

Relaxed Roman shades have a dramatic droop in the middle. It is made with one dowel rod at the bottom of the shade to control the swoop, making it look intentional not sloppy. This shade does not have a dowel rod at each fold or drapery rings in the middle of the shade. Leaving these two pieces out allows the shade to droop gracefully. Relaxed Roman shades are lovely and more elegant, in my opinion.

{Inspired By} Fabric Roman Shades

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Classic Roman Shades

The classic Roman shade has a sewn seam to make the rod pocket for the boning/dowel rod at even intervals up the shade. The look is crisp and clean with evenly spaced horizontal seams the entire length of the shade.This is the one type of roman shade I have made personally. I have a classic roman shade in the basement bathroom (second picture below) and the laundry room.

how to make Roman shades -44 - finished Roman shade

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Classic Roman Shade with Pattern

Source: Basement Bathroom

For the living room and dining room windows, I’ve decided to make a flat Roman shade with an outside mount. I love the clean lines. It’s simple and sophisticated, and in a space that is often messy, loud, with lots of activity, I think simple shades would be best. Not having sew lines through the fabric is also a plus. It kind of irked me that the floral pattern in my basement bathroom no longer lined up once the pockets were sewn in.

Fabric for Roman Shade

There are so many fabric options for curtains! It’s hard to choose! I like using sturdy decorator fabric, usually made of cotton. It is thick and doesn’t move around too much, making sewing much easier!

Field’s Fabric is a local fabric store chain in West Michigan, and while their regular selection is good and fairly priced, the clearance section is awesome. Everything in the clearance section is $3.97 per yard. That is a killer price for decorator fabric!

I went into the store just to scope out the new fabrics, and I happened on a fairly large piece of this fabric in the clearance section. Crossing my fingers, I took it to the counter to have it measured. I needed 2, 3-yard sections for my curtain, 6 yards total. It was 4.5 yards. Bummer!

The lovely saleslady said she would send out a request to the other stores to see if they had any remnants. About a week later, one more section was found, but it was only 1.5 yards. Rats! They reassured me to hold out because the request had not made it through all the stores yet.

A few days later, another 3.5 yards was found!

I ended up buying two lengths of 3 yards each plus the 1.5 yard piece for a grand total of $30. Yes, I got 7.5 yards of decorator fabric for $4/yard. Isn’t that incredible? At the time, the cheapest I could find online was $26.99/yard. These windows would have cost over $200! (Now it looks like the price has come down to $10/yard online, but it’s still a significant savings!)

Fabric for Roman Shades

So I’ve got my lovely fabric, and I know the style of Roman shade. Now how to make it best.

Method for Sewing the Roman Shade

Since Pinterest was giving me too many hacks, I wasn’t trusting the information I found. I want to make a flat Roman shade the RIGHT way: no hacks, mini blinds, fabric glue, or iron-on hem tape! I want to use an actual sewing machine to make them legit.

Where do you turn when you don’t know how to do something??? Old school, folks, the library. Say what??

Roman Shades Books

I know this is such a crazy suggestion given our technological age, but let me give a plug for the library. It is a WEALTH of information. The books are free (unless you don’t return on time!). The information is (likely) more sound. I say that with some hesitation, but I believe fewer people publish untruth in a book than a blog. A book is so much more difficult to accomplish. The library is a great resource. Use yours!

There were four shelves dedicated entire to sewing curtains and pillows for the home. So. Many. Books. I narrowed down my selection to three books that specifically talked about flat Roman shades. They each have detailed instructions and pictures which should prove very helpful. Each has a slightly different method, so I plan to compile what I read into a method that works for me and my windows.

If you are curious about my research, below is a list of resources that I plan to use to figure out how to best make my Roman shades.

  1. The Complete Photo Guide to Window Treatments by Linda Neubauer
  2. Waverly at Home: Windows by Waverly and Vicki L. Ingham
  3. Curtains, Draperies, & Shades by Editors of Sunset Books
  4. Addicted 2 Decorating – Blogger Kristi who rocks at many home decor things but especially window treatments

I think I’m ready to start cutting my fabric! I feel confident that an outside mount, flat Roman shade is the best for my windows. The Kelly Ripa Flying Colors Pool fabric is so pretty, not too loud, and most importantly, I’ve learned the best method for sewing my shades. Here we go!


When’s the last time you ventured into your library? Are you a book lover too? What project are you inspired by that you want to tackle the right way?

Roman Shade Planning

Rose Spring Wreath
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Lamb’s Ear and Rose Asymmetrical Spring Wreath | DIY Faux Floral Wreath

Spring is in the air. The lilies in my yard are popping up, and there are buds on our trees! The longest Michigan winter I can recall is coming to an end! Spring home decor has been catching my eye lately, particularly pink and green spring wreaths! Many years ago (12?!?) I took a class on making wedding flowers, so I decided to see how well that translated into wreath making! It really wasn’t difficult, just took some time and patience!


First up, inspiration. These lovely wreaths have been popping up on my Pinterest feed for a couple weeks now. Aren’t they lovely?? Source

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The soft, romantic pinks of the peonies and the minty green of the lambs ear is just so beautiful together! My front door is deep blue, which would look great with those colors! I was also struck by the minimalist hoop design too. That is a fresh, new idea which I love. A modern look to the front door wreath! In the end, I blended the looks of the above wreaths and also working within a budget. While I loved the peonies, roses were far more cost effective!

The method of assembly is the same no matter the greenery or flowers you choose. I gave the number of stems I used for reference, but the sky’s the limit on this one! Use the colors, flowers, greenery, and amount of each that inspires you!


Asymmetrical Spring Wreath_2

Materials

  • 19″ metal floral ring
  • Floral wire (26 gauge)
  • Tin snips
  • Hot glue gun & glue
  • Kitchen twine
  • 4 stems of lambs ear
  • 1 rose stem (with 3 rose blooms)
  • 2 ranunculus stems
  • 1 filler bouquet (similar)

wreath supplies

Wrap Floral Ring

Using the kitchen twine, or any twine you’d prefer, wrap tightly around the floral ring. Top begin, I secured the end of the twine with a dot of hot glue so the twine wouldn’t unravel as I wrapped. It is easier to wrap while keeping the twine rolled around the spool, don’t cut off a long length. It will get tangled and make a mess.

Every couple inches, put a dot of glue on the ring and press the twine into it. This will keep the twine from slipping as you wrap.

wrapped wreath ring

wreath ring wrappedSnip Greenery into Small Sections

From making boutonnieres and corsages in the past, I know it is easiest to build a full floral piece with small sections of greenery, filler flowers, and focal flowers. So the first step to building this wreath is to snip the leaves from the lambs ear stem into smaller segments. Only cut a few sections off at a time until you have a feel for how many leaves you like grouped together. I found that number changed as I worked around the wreath.

lambs ear

Make sure to leave some stem on each segment. You will need this to wrap the floral wire around and possibly to bend and shape the leaves on the wreath to create depth and fullness.

Wrap Floral Wire Around Greenery

Cut a section of floral wire about 8-10″ long and wrap securely around the base of the leaves and stems.

Floral Wire Wrap

Wrap and Twist Wire Around Floral Ring

While holding the greenery in place on the floral ring, wrap the trailing ends of the wire around the ring in opposite directions. spring wreath greenThen secure the wire by twisting the ends together (Like trash bag twisties from the olden days! Do they make those anymore???). Snip the excess wire as needed with the tin snips. I left about an inch of wire and bent it up and around the ring back into the flower arrangement to hide the sharp ends.

Twist Floral Wire

Hot Glue Piece in Place

The wire will hold the greenery in place while you tweak the position. Gently bend the main stem or stems of the leaves to position the leaves. For the best looking wreath, position the leaves to point in every direction: left, right, and up. Once you are satisfied with how it looks, add a couple drops of hot glue where the wire is holding the stem to the floral ring.

This photo was taken after the wreath was completed, but if you look closely, you can see the twisted wired and clear/white blobs of glue holding everything in place.

spring wreath hot glue and wireRepeat, Repeat, Repeat!

Repeat these steps for attaching each piece of greenery, filler flowers, and eventually the lager focal flowers.

Greenery and Filler

wreath faux greenery wreath faux greenery wreath faux greeneryFocal Flowers

Add the focal flowers in the middle of the span of greenery. I added 3 pink rose blossoms and 2 white blossoms (I ended up adding 1 more white bud at the end to fill in a gap.). Make sure to surround the flowers with greenery too.

Spring Wreath Focal FlowersAdd Remaining Greenery from Opposite Direction

After attaching the focal flowers and their surrounding greenery, finish the other half of the wreath by attaching greens and filler flowers but from the opposite direction. Start at the right where the greenery will end then attach with stems pointing towards the focal flowers.

There will be a tight space where the two halves of the greenery/flowers meet up that is really tricky to get new pieces in. See the gap by the arrow in the photo below.

Spring WreathSnip off individual leaves and hot glue them one by one to fill in that gap.

Spring Wreath

Mine still looked gap-y so I added one more small white bud next to the pink bud. Experiment with what looks good at this stage. Insert different options (buds, leaves, filler flowers) to see which completes the look. Pick it up off the table too. Holding it up as it will hang will allow you to see any areas that need to be filled in more.

Finished Spring WreathHang it on Front Door

Step back and admire your handiwork! Isn’t it fun to create something beautiful for your home? I find it so fulfilling to create things that make my home beautiful for me.

Hanging this asymmetrical wreath on the door was tricky. I wrapped more kitchen twine around the ring and door hanger to keep the ring from tilting too much to one side. It’s still a little lopsided, but perfection is not what we’re going for, is it??

Faux Rose Spring Wreath Faux Rose Spring WreathThe soft pink of the roses and fuzzy green of the lambs ear is exactly what I was looking for. It gives my front door a fresh new look as the rest of the yard springs to life.

Rose Spring WreathWhat touches of new life have you added to your home lately? Do you change your decor out with each season or do you keep things more “evergreen?”


Asymmetrical Spring Wreath

Olive Wood Nativity
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Holiday Home Tour 2017

Christmas spirit fell early in our house this year. Early November I just couldn’t hold back and started playing Christmas music all day long. The boys were overjoyed with me, singing all day long, but my wonderful hubby just rolled his eyes. It was too early in his opinion!

I did hold out for the Christmas decorations until Thanksgiving weekend. It is our tradition to go cut down our Christmas tree at Peterson Riverview Nursery in Allegan, MI the Saturday after Thanksgiving. The weather was so great Thanksgiving weekend! We did bundle up, but I think it was in the 40’s so not too bad to take a wagon ride out to the tree field to pick and cut down a tree. We also buy one of their handmade wreaths.

Want to see what we bought and how we set it up? Come on in!

Christmas Wreath Front Door

I don’t have a plan when picking out a wreath for our front door. This one with the burlap ribbon, pine cones, and white accents struck me this year. Although I don’t have a theme, I tend to shy away from traditional red bows and such. Isn’t this one lovely? They last forever too. I usually keep ours up until March or until I’m REALLY embarrassed that our front door is still decked out for Christmas.

It’s not even brown when I take it down! If I remember, I’ll take a picture and show you.

Burlap Christmas Wreath

We set up two trees in our house: the kids tree and mommy’s tree. The kids use our old artificial tree, sort of a Charlie Brown tree (ok, really truly a Charlie Brown tree!), and decorate it with colored lights and their own ornaments. It lives in their toy room, and yes, things get broken ever year. They love having their own tree to decorate and turn on each day.

I show you their tree in the name of keeping it real. It’s such a scraggly tree, but it bring endless joy to my boys.

Charlie Brown Tree

Then there’s mommy’s tree:

Silver Gold Christmas TreeIt is a family affair to decorate “mommy’s tree,” but the instructions are clear that mommy may move ornaments or veto decorations at any time. 🙂

I did move some ornaments, but kept the “house” that my oldest made on one of the interior branches. The branch is holding maybe 8 ball ornaments as close together as you could possibly hang them. Adorable.

I’ve had these ornaments for years. I’m very thrifty when it come to holiday decor, so these were all purchased a day or two after Christmas at 75% off. While I love all of the ornaments, I do like them to be not too precious. They might get broken with the little hands putting them on the tree or the dog’s wagging tail as he looks out the window. For those reasons, I want to love my tree but not put it up on an untouchable pedestal.

Not all of the ornaments are a matched set which makes it a little less perfect and all the more meaningful. This one is from my Bible study leader a few years back.

Gold Crystal OrnamentThis one is just from Target years ago, but I love the white, gold, and glitter.

Gold White Ball OrnamentAnother one from Target, I really like gold glittery ornaments! I just took pictures of my favorites, but ha, they all look the same!

Gold Glitter StarNext up, the mantle! We have a corner fireplace in our living room, and it is a challenge to decorate. The shelf on top is huge. There is so much space to fill. Now I know with decorating that not all space needs to be filled, but this is an awkwardly large space that looks funny very easily.

Corner Christmas Fireplace

I posted some of these photos on Instagram and Facebook recently and received some great suggestions on how to decorate a corner fireplace. Take a look at this one. It looks so much like my fireplace it’s scary! I wish I had done some research before decorating mine. I just get an idea in my head and start running with it. Next year, I will incorporate some of Kristi’s ideas.

The massive quote “O Come Let Us Adore Him” is my solution to shorten the depth of the mantle. I have a large canvas that I covered in white wrapping paper. Then I made a template in Photoshop and used that to draw the quote in pencil first on the paper. I went over the pencil with black permanent marker. Finally, I painted the star on with craft paint and called it a day! Easy to make, and easy to take off after Christmas!

Huge Christmas Quote

My new stockings are looking smashing, if I do say so myself. One small issue though, they are kind of heavy. As in, those weights barely hold the empty stocking on the mantle. They will surely fall down when loaded with goodies. I didn’t really like the magnetized decals that go on top of these weighted hangers (I liked the low profile!), but I think we need to add them to make the hanger heavier.

The nativity is my favorite one so far (I own three…I might be starting a collection!). It is hand-carved from olive wood, and my in-laws brought them back for us from Jerusalem. It is so beautiful and meaningful to me.

Olive Wood Nativity

 

Olive Wood Mary

Olive Wood Shepherd

Olive Wood WisemenI have another nativity that I was planning to put on the buffet in our dining room along with other pretty thing. Well, I did put it on the buffet, and the kids helped me put it up.

NativityOne wise man lost his hat and hand, and it looks like a sheep may have passed away. This is one area I don’t fix to be perfect. I like seeing how my kids put things up. It makes me chuckle every time I walk by.

As for the other pretty things that would make a lovely Christmas buffet-scape…well…I need to back up a bit and show you some real life. I wasn’t able to get our dining room all deck out because…WINE!

Holiday BuffetThe red blanket is covering and keeping two carboys of wine (one shiraz, one pinot noir) warm while they ferment. The random stuff next to it is all the tools to make the wine: acidity tester, CO2 something-er-other, and I don’t know what else. This is real life. It can’t all be perfect. Sometimes you just need to make wine. 🙂 Come on over in 2 years to have a glass!

The last kid friendly area is how we display our friend’s and family’s Christmas cards and our advent wreath. I made a couple bows (following this tutorial), and we tape the Christmas cards we receive to the tail each day.

Xmas Card Advent Wreath

I made this felt advent wreath at Bloom, a mom of young children group at my church, and it is perfect for pointing my kids to Jesus. My kids put up a berry every day, and we “light” the candles on Sunday as we read the Bible passage that applies to each candle.

This is my first time doing an advent wreath. I did not grow up in a liturgical church so this was not a part of our church tradition. I really like it so far. Jesus is the reason we celebrate. Dan and I work hard to make sure our children know that.

The best part? It’s felt. It doesn’t break! Christmas win!

Kid Friendly Advent WreathSo there you have it, a not-too-perfect, mostly kid-friendly, real-life Christmas Home Tour! My goal is to have our home look Christmas-y but not halt real life. We play hard in this house all year, Christmas included.


Do you have a favorite Christmas piece? Mine is the nativities!

Do you decorate early, late, slow, all in one night, wait until Christmas Eve?

Do you recycle your holiday decor or buy new things each year?

Main Bathroom Vanity Refresh
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Main Bathroom Refresh | A Low Budget (less than $700!) Face-lift

I’m working to update my Home Tour page, and I realized there are so many rooms I never shared the “finished” update. Today I’ll cover our main full bathroom. We have one full bathroom with all the bedrooms upstairs (sniff…no master bath!), and we made giving it a refresh our project last winter. Wait…2 winters ago! Wow, time flies!

Here is the bathroom when we bought the house: pinkie-beige laminate counter tops, oak vanity, and vinyl floor that I’m pretty sure was in my parent’s house growing up. The green on the walls was not a terrible color, but the finish was looking very flat and dull. It needed freshening up.

Full Bathroom Before

Full Bathroom Before

We set a budget of $500. The bathroom was fully functional. Our main complaint was it wasn’t our style. For that reason, we only planned a face-lift rather than an extensive renovation. The plan was to paint the walls, frame out the mirror, paint the light fixture, tile above the shower, add a backslash to the sink, and re-stain the vanity.

Paint the walls

I tackled the walls during nap times (naptime with a 6 month and 2 year old…how I miss you!). I painted it using Valspar Reserve. I cannot find the paint color anymore. It’s not listed on the mixer tag the store put on it. Bummer.

Frame the mirror

To frame the mirror, we bought trim from Home Depot, mitered the corners then glued it right to the mirror with mirror adhesive. We roughly followed this tutorial. We did have to notch the trim for the clips that hold the mirror, but our were much lower profile than Young House Love’s. Just a few chips with the chisel was enough to hide our clips.

We did not fully connect the frame prior to gluing it to the mirror though. We glued it one piece at a time to the mirror. This was a mistake because we weren’t able to do a good dry fit since we had four separate pieces. We were off quite a bit on the corners. I spent some time filling, sanding, filling, sanding, then more filling and sanding to make those corners look decent. Don’t do it like we did! Put the whole frame together first!

Framed Mirror Backsplash

Paint the light fixture

The light fixture was fully functioning, and although I didn’t love the style, I didn’t want to spend precious budget dollars on a new light fixture. So I spray painted it using Rustoleum’s Universal Metalic Spray Paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze. I happened to have this on hand, so all this update took was a few hours of prep and spraying then a couple days to dry. Voila, a whole new feel!

Tile Above The Shower

Here is where our super quick, super cheap update starts to fall apart. We have never laid our own tile. I always get ambitious and say I will, but then time gets tight, and we hire our friend to lay the tile for us. He’s so good, so precise, so we don’t have a hard time rationalizing hiring him! This project ended up being the absolute perfect one to hire someone to help us.

Tile above the shower seemed like such a cool idea, right? At that time, I was seeing it everywhere as an easy update without the cost and hassle of installing a whole new shower.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The cement board above a fiberglass shower unit is not straight. Not anywhere. Not by a long shot. The corners are not square, which rarely are in any corner of any house, but the bowed walls exacerbated this issue. This “easy” tiling project quickly turned into a nightmare, took two days with the help of a professional.

Look at that curve! The curve goes all the way around the shower where the fiberglass insert slips under the cement board.

Tile Above Shower Pitfall

Dan and our friend had to cut every side of every piece of tile. I specifically picked these tiles in this arrangement to minimize cuts, and it turned out not mattering a bit. Those poor guys had to make SO many cuts.

We did do all the grout and sealing of the tile ourselves after much thanks, blessings, and beers to our friend. 🙂 That process went as planned. It was lots of rinsing and wiping, but all went as it should.

The finished shower:

Tile Above Shower FinishedBackslash Around Sink Area

Thankfully, the vanity was level and the walls were not bowed. Tiling this section was a breeze. Whew!

new faucet

Re-Stain the Vanity

Last bit of bad news on this project: the re-staining of the vanity took FOREVER! It’s really all my fault. I should’ve used a new can of stain from the get go, but I just didn’t know what would happen with old stain. Now I do: it doesn’t soak into wood. Don’t use old, improperly stored stain like I did. Buy new!

For my first attempt to stain, I used the aforementioned leftover stain from my dining room table project (years before with improper storing in between, I’m sure). It did not soak into the wood. I, of course, thought it just needed more time. So I left it on overnight. What a mistake! The next morning, I was met with a sticky, gooey mess! I had to strip the entire vanity to get it off. Since I had little kids in the house, I used a more eco-friendly stripper, and it took several coats with many days of work. This was such a morale buster. I spent so much time on this vanity. I’m happy with the result now, but I was quite demoralized during the transformation of this beast.

The second time around, I bought a fresh quart of stain, and it worked beautifully! Even though I wanted to rip this sucker out and heave him to the trash, I’m glad I stayed in budget and persevered. It is a super sturdy, fully functional vanity. Truly nothing wrong with it! Now it looks better with its fresh new clothes on!

Re-Stained Oak Vanity

But wait! That’s not the end!

Bonus Features!

That completes our original plan, but while we were in the midst of the tiling debacle, our tiling friend got a hold of some close-out vinyl wood planks. He said it would be cheap, did we want to re-do the floor?

Hmmm, well, we really wanted to keep this refresh reasonably priced, but new floors would be nice…how much?

You’ll never guess, so I’ll just tell you: $30. Thirty dollars! What?! Score of the century.

Our friend also works in flooring; hence, his access to super reasonable, close-out vinyl wood planks. He installed it for us while we were gone for the weekend, and we came home to this:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksThe floor was a game changer! The room still looked tired and old until the new vinyl wood planks were installed. Now it feels like a fresh new room!

The other score of the century was the laminate to apply to the existing counter top. We bought it in a sheet and glued it to the old laminate. The sheet of laminate was $40. Now if we hadn’t had the expertise of our friend (who also owned the right tools!), we couldn’t have installed this so cheap. (Full disclaimer: I don’t think I cleaned the edge of the counter well enough before gluing, so we chipped off those two corner pieces within a week of re-doing the counters. Sigh. Clean well before gluing anything! We still need to glue the pieces back on…another project for another day!)

One more bonus: a new faucet! We somehow landed a gift card to Amazon, and I can’t for the life of me remember how we got it. We used it though to purchase this faucet as we thought the old one was just glaringly off in light of all the newness around it.

With those three bonuses, here’s the finished look on the right side of the room:

Main Bathroom Vanity RefreshJust look where we started!

Full Bathroom BeforeAnd the left side of the room:

Main Bath Vinyl Wood PlanksFull Bathroom BeforeSo much lighter and fresher…it has new life!

 


Since I waited 2 years to share this update, I don’t have all the specs and costs for this project. We did go over the budget of $500, but not by much! I believe the total was about $660.

This project made our bathroom so much more enjoyable. I still love walking into this room two years later. The floor, the tile, the mirror frame, everything makes me smile every day!


Have you scored any awesome decor or renovation deals that just MADE the room? The faux wood planks did it for me!

Any plans to plan a low-cost refresh of a room? Do share! I love hearing other people’s plans to maximize the impact within their budget!

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Micah’s Office, Part 2 | A Use-What-You-Have Home Office Transformation

See the first part of the story here. The problem, thought process, and rational behind the decisions.


Quick reminder: here is where we started:

Desk/Work Area

Following the floor plan mentioned before, the L desk arrangement was rotated to have the coffee table along the left wall and Micah’s desk jutting out into the middle of the room. This puts Micah’s work space directly under the overhead light. Light issue resolved! Yes! Well, partially, the coffee table is still somewhat shadowed (because the light is still behind Micah once he turns to work at the coffee table) so we kept the desk lamp on the desk but switched the side it’s on so that it illuminates the coffee table area.

The tall thinner bookshelf was purged (Betsey and I were on a mission to get this room functional, so we used this time to also get rid of anything they didn’t need anymore.) then relocated to their guest bedroom.  Yay for more breathing room!

The tall and wide, cube bookshelf was moved to the center of the back wall. It is no longer looming on the left when you enter the room. It gives more balance in this location. (Pardon the blurry composite photo…I did not spend enough time getting the right shots of this room!)

The short cube bookshelf was moved to go in front of Micah’s desk. The purpose here was threefold (1) to hid the cords and other disarray from the computer, printer, and label maker; (2) to provide a landing zone for the books Betsey and Micah are currently reading (and will need to grab to make use of their reading spot); and (3) to provide an area to display the decor items they love and have special meaning.

In the back right corner of the room is the first spot that was free to use the decor items Betsey had collected and loved but couldn’t figure out how to make work in a room. Notice the two baskets in the bottom left corner of this before picture.

Betsey had two lovely baskets, but they didn’t have a good home. They had wandered around the room, more out of being in the way than adding to the visual pleasure, if you will, of the room. I love the blue in the wicker vase. Whatever faux plants these are, they play well off the lavender walls.

Their home is now the right front corner with a bird print above it. The colors play nicely with each other and the wall, and we’ve put to use some pretties that have been homeless for years!

The Reading Nook

Betsey has a love of papasan chairs. She has two double papasan chairs in her home. I wanted this chair to look homey and intentional in this room.

When I think of a reading nook, I think it needs three things:

  • Comfy, cozy place to sit or lay
  • A light source
  • Meaningful decor
  • A place to set a drink or book

We accomplished almost all those things in this space:

  • Comfy, cozy place to sit or lay – double papasan chair
  • A light source – I moved the unused, not even plugged in, floor lamp from the back left corner to sit in the space behind the chair. Since this is an upward facing light, it also helps to illuminate the whole room. Micah could even turn it on for more light while working. Double win!
  • Meaningful decor – Betsey had a motivational collage she’d created that we hung above the chair. This is very personal, but I think your home should speak to you and give you pleasure when you see it. This picture gives her pleasure and reminds her of things she strives for. This is perfect and lovely for this spot.
  • A place to set a drink or book – We didn’t get this in place yet. The office was quite crowded with books (remember, Micah had just brought home 300!), and I didn’t want to over crowd the space. I may revisit this later with them, but for now, there’s no where to set your cup of hot cocoa while you read. 🙂

After the furniture was all moved into its new home, I had Betsey lay out on the floor all the art work and decor items she’d collected over the years. We set to work hanging things on the walls. I think hanging pictures/artwork and curtains do wonders to make a room feel like home.

We hung the motivation poster above the papasan chair.

We hung the bird print above the baskets in the corner.

We created a collage with a bunch of different pieces above Micah’s work space. This is my favorite part. We laid the arrangement out on the floor first and moved pieces in and out, and tweaked and tweaked until we had an arrangement we liked. The best part of this? Using beautiful pieces they received for their wedding (8 years ago!) but had never had a home. All of these pieces hold meaning to Micah and Betsey in some way.

Well, except the clock. I made them put the clock in. It was left in the house by the previous owners. It doesn’t even work, and Betsey hates the noise of a ticking clock so she wouldn’t let me put new batteries in. Ha! So I guess not everything has meaning. 🙂

Micah’s had a couple weeks to work in the new space, and I’m happy to report it is working out well! We are still finding a solution for his scale.

The best part of this project? It cost $0 and only 3 hours of elbow grease. The elbow grease would’ve been significantly less if we didn’t have 300+ books to move out and then back into the room. We moved all the furniture, purged, and organized during naptime on a Saturday (about two hours) then decorated for about an hour the next morning.

All of this was great fun for me, the planning, thinking, mock-up of the design, but the best part is this:

I️ just love that everything is in a place with purpose.

I like purpose, function, AND beauty in a space.

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Micah’s Office, Part 1 | Rekindling an old flame: Organization, Flow, and Home Decor

Not THAT kind of old flame, folks! Get your minds out of the gutter!


I had an opportunity this month to work with my sister and brother-in-law (Betsey and Micah) to reorganize and decorate their home office. I have to tell you; it was so much fun. I haven’t done a home project for anyone else before, and it was invigorating, therapeutic, and just tons of fun.

How it all began: during some discussion with my sister, she mentions her husband’s, Micah, office set-up is less than ideal. She rattles off a couple issues quickly: lighting, surface space, and a room that looks like everything just landed in the room.

The bells immediately start ringing in my head: I could help her reorganize. I could probably help troubleshoot the layout and space issues. This is something I’ve always wanted to do – would she let me help?!

I offer my assistance, and she says yes! Woot! I’m so geeked! I love organizing and decorating my own home, and it has been a dream of mine to help others make their homes beautiful and comfortable too. Here’s my first chance!

So let’s walk through what happened!

Setting the stage: Micah works from home selling books online. So when he brings a bunch of books home, the room is littered with books. Quite literally, stacks of books everywhere. When we scheduled the weekend to do the reorganization, he had just brought home 300 books. 300. It’s quite the mess until he gets them processed and shipped out. The great thing about this is I got to see the office in action. I saw the version Micah has to work with everyday, not the cleaned up version. So it turns out, it was perfect time to re-do the office that weekend.

Before

Disclaimer: These are a photos Betsey sent me as we were working through the design process. This is not post-300 book invasion. This is a more “normal” amount of books.

Problem Areas
  1. Lighting – There is only one overhead light, centered in the room. Micah’s desk is currently along the back wall putting the light behind him and casting a shadow over the desk when he’s working. To compensate for this, he has the tall desk lamp on the desk to illuminate his work area. Never mind the floor lamp in the corner. It’s not even plugged in!
  2. Scale – Micah weighs each box of books before they are shipped, and he does not have a spot to put his scale. He currently puts it in another room so he’s walking the books back and forth as he works.
  3. Dog Stuff – The precious pooch’s accessories need a home. Currently it’s an overflowing basket that sits on the floor.
  4. Intentional Design – They would like the office and reading space to look intentional. It has a “it just landed here” look about it.
Design Process (aka Mulling it Over)
  1. Lighting – Personally, I dislike furniture pushed against the wall. It makes the most room for walking in the middle of the room but makes for poor aesthetics. If we move his desk under the light, then we don’t need to buy new lights, rearrange outlets, or ceiling lights.
  2. Micah clearly needs an L-shaped desk for his work. He does data entry on each book then uses the coffee table to sort, package, and mark boxes for shipping. So the desk/coffee table arrangement needs to stay.
  3. Scale – I completely forgot to work in the scale. Sorry, Micah! Working that out with him now, I’ll update when that is worked in to the room. **Update – We’ve found an unused end table to hold the scale. Now the desk area is roughly “U” shaped. See after photos in the next post.**
  4. Dog Stuff – Betsey actually worked this out before I arrived. She found an open shelf in the closet by the front door so she popped the dog basket up there. Problem solved!
  5. Intentional Design – I rolled this issue around in my mind for at least a week before coming up with a new, intentional room arrangement. Our budget was $0 so I had to work with the pieces either in this room or shop their house for other options.
Floor Plan

All the bookshelves were on the left wall. They were both tall, which is fine, but they were too heavy, visually. The room was heavier on the left than the right. The design plan needed to keep the cube bookshelf as is very functional when Micah brings in 300 books to sort and ship. The other bookshelf held their personal books (but not books that were read often, just ones they didn’t want to part with) and was not necessary to keep in that location. Done, that piece is out of this room!

I suggested to move the large cube bookshelf to the center of the back wall. (1) It does not need to be well-lit as Micah is usually slowly loading or unloading it throughout his work day. It is simply there to hold books until Micah can work with them at his desk. (2) It is a large piece of furniture that could balance the room if in the middle rather than to one side without anything opposite to balance it.

Betsey has a double papasan chair that she wants to stay in the room and create a reading nook. I like it’s placement in the front right corner of the room, but any good reading nook needs a light and some decor.

Moving the L desk arrangement to the middle/left side of the room leaves the back of Micah’s desk exposed, and the back of any desk that holds a computer is rarely pretty. Cords galore! To solve this unsightly issue, I suggest moving the small cube bookshelf to back up to Micah’s desk. This will give Betsey a place to decorate and still hold personal books to grab when she’s reading in the papasan chair. Also moving the small bookshelf creates some empty space on the right side of the room, allowing for an area to decorate and let the room breathe.

Extra shipping boxes – For the most part, Micah buys new boxes to ship out the books, so he needed a place to keep the flat boxes. I suggest at the end of the coffee table, in the back left corner of the room. This way they are close to the coffee table where he loads up the boxes, but they are purposefully placed in the nook created in that corner.

Betsey and Micah had collected many pictures and artwork through the years but never took the time to put it up on the walls.

Tary no longer! Those lovelies are being hung! Tune in soon to see the afters!

Kitchen Reveal

While every room in our house is continually a work-in-progress (or so it seems), the bulk of the kitchen has been completed for some time…oh you know, about a year or so. Life gets the better of me most days, so here are the pictures of our kitchen (finally!).

A reference point, here is our kitchen when we walked through the house.

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It was your typical builder’s grade 1990’s kitchen: oak cabinets, basic two basin sink, gooseneck faucet that didn’t quite reach into both sides of the sink, and beige counter tops.

Here’s what you can’t see in the picture:

  • the faucet is broken and leaking
  • the garbage disposal doesn’t work
  • beyond disgusting, rusted out dishwasher in peninsula
  • dirty, sticky, pealing floor (rolled laminate covered by peal n’ stick laminate tiles which weren’t applied properly)
  • sandpaper like walls
  • no appliances (oh wait, you can see that!)

Here’s what we loved about the kitchen:

  • biggest floor print of any house/apartment we’d lived in. Oh the cupboard and counter space!
  • even more space potential if the peninsula was moved out to the corner and extended toward the fridge area
  • sturdy oak cabinets (while out-dated, they were in good shape)
  • crown moulding on cabinets (I just love the look, and now we didn’t have to add it!)

To us, it screamed “I have potential!”

Our renovation maximized the potential we saw in the room and our budget so we did most of the work ourselves and kept as many things as possible. (We even tried to salvage the floor, but that failed.)

  1. We painted the cabinets ourselves. What a labor of love! It’s a lot of work!
  2. We hired out new countertops. We replaced with laminate, Wilson Art’s Carrara Santorini. This is a laminate version of Carrara Marble. So it is white with grey veining through it.
  3. We hired a friend to lay the subway tile, but we grouted and sealed it ourselves.
  4. We hired out laying of new vinyl flooring (done at the same time as the rest of the flooring in the house).
  5. We hired out skim coating the walls in the dining room and kitchen to cover the texture, but we did all the painting ourselves.
  6. Bought new appliances.
  7. Hired a friend to build a new peninsula.
  8. Installed new knobs and pulls ourselves (by ourselves, I mean Dan!).
  9. Installed appliances, sink, disposal, and faucet ourselves (again, I mean Dan).

I think that’s all we’ve done. It sure doesn’t sound like much when I type it out. It took us eight months or so though, maybe a year…we aren’t the fastest DIYers!

Ok, enough words, on to the pictures! Here she is today in all her glory!

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Sink Area

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Stove Area

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Refrigerator Area

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IMG_9051_smallIt doesn’t seem like the same room, does it?

The part I’ve been enjoying most about decorating my kitchen is making little spaces decorated and yet functional:

1. Next to the refrigerator:

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2. Our “coffee station:” This is a new one. I want to add cute, matching mugs along with cream and sugar containers, but this is what I had on hand so far. I do like the functionality. It saves cupboard space and makes finding the coffee items easy in the morning.

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3. Ok, so this isn’t a decorated space, but does everyone have an overflowing utensil holder? Is it just us? We use them all too…they are often all dirty…maybe we just need to wash our dishes more often…

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4. Cute hand soap:

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So there you have it! We are loving our new kitchen. We love to cook, so this space gets tons of use everyday!

Home Office

I finally have a home office area! We have a long skinny living room, and the front door opens into this large room. To make the room cozier and more conversation-friendly, the living room furniture is arranged around the fireplace on one side of the room. This leaves a rather large entry area and a VERY undefined space. We decided to take up the area behind the living room furniture with our new and improved home office!

Here she is now!

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Oh happy day! The desk gets daily use by Dan and I, and  I am loving the devoted space to blog, work on the budget, or waste perfectly good naptime on Pinterest. 🙂

Here are two of my favorite things about this area so far (besides the desk…that takes the cake, of course!).

1. Brass Lamp – Who knew brass/gold would come back in fashion? I love this HomeGoods find! The light it casts is great too…not too bright and large enough to illuminate the whole desk.

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2. My First Word/Scripture Art – I made this all by myself folks! This verse from Psalm 90 struck me in my bible study through Moses this year (Bible Study Fellowship, I highly recommend it!). I thought it would be so appropriate above a work space, asking the Lord’s blessing on your work…whatever that may be!

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I’m still working on styling the shelf above the desk. It is functional (always my goal), but it comes off a bit cluttered right now. The shelf is also a different style than the desk, and I’m not sure if I’m bothered by it or not. I already had the shelf, so I wanted to use it. Hmmm…ideas? I love having note cards and pens in plain sight. I’m way more likely to write that thank you note with these items close at hand!

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I tried to use things that I already owned to decorate this space. The only new things are the gold frame (Ikea), the desk lamp (HomeGoods), and the ceramic box on the desk top (Target). Everything else I already owned. I love shopping my home for decorations! It feels good to move things around or put things to use that have been sitting in a closet/furnace room for 2 years. Anyone else slow on the decorating wagon? I actually forgot I had the gerber daisy print…it was under the basement stairs, covered in dust. Oops.

Future plans for the space:

  • reupholster the desk chair – So exciting but a little intimidating…I’ve never tried upholstery before!
  • add a rug – not sure about this one. The large area will have me contemplating how to pull this off without competing with the living room or front door.
  • tweak the decor – again, not sure I have the best selections on the shelf/desk. It will be a work-in-progress for a while!

I love my office space! What good function have you added to your home lately?

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Newest Member of our Household

Not a human by the way!

Although maybe baby Taz has made his arrival by now as I’m scheduling these posts ahead of time!

We inherited some beautiful wood furniture for Jackson’s big boy room! We’ve got two dressers and twin beds coming our way. They are MASSIVE pieces of furniture, so we’ve only managed to get one dresser to our house so far.

Isn’t she a beauty?

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I’m so inspired to mix the old with the new and various wood types in this big boy room. I’ve found a new appreciation for old pieces of furniture, so I have no intention of re-doing this one. I plan to make the room flow with the furniture. Really, this is a super sturdy, well-made dresser (besides a few paint spots and scratches…which I hope to fix…google here I come!), and it is in perfect condition.

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I have also renewed my love for my 50mm lense…but it’s super hard to do room shots because you can back up enough. It takes beautiful pictures though. Doesn’t it?

Hence, I don’t have a great picture of the whole dresser…I needed to be 10 feet outside my house to do so…and one story up…not happening. 🙂

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I’ll share more as we get the room more put together and decorated. I’m so excited about our new furniture!