Window Treatment DIY | Flat Roman Shades Before & After

Things have been a little chaotic at my house with the big computer crash. I am still scrambling to catch up, but in the meantime, I’d like to leave you with a sweet little before and after. The shades in my living room and dining room are completely finished! The whole family is really enjoying dinner time without the baking sun in our faces! Today I’d like to showcase my new flat Roman shades before & after!

roman shade before after

Living room and dining room windows before, all naked and bare…

Roman shades before

And after!

So much more polished, don’t you think? I just love the instant face-lift that window treatments give to a space. The room goes from “we-just-moved-in” to “finished and homey.” Don’t tell anyone that we’ve actually been in the house for five years! Shhhh!

Now that the project is finished, I’ve learned a couple bits of random wisdom I’d like to pass along.

Do not thread the cord directly into the cord lock

Without a screw eye to defray the weight and friction of raising and lowering the shade, the cord will fray quickly. As in, the first or second time raising the shade will fray the cord! Don’t be like me, use screw eyes for each cord on the mounting board.

If this makes no sense to you, a tutorial is coming…


Sewing takes time

I always over-estimate the amount of work I can do on projects around the house, but I have other priorities than just making my house look pretty. Take the time to give each step the attention it needs. The finished product will be worth it!

Drawing a straight line on fabric is tough!

Going right along with sewing takes time…take the time to get the lines straight before cutting! The end result will be so much better if the edges are straight! The best way I found is to use a long level, 4′, and use the salvage as the guide. I’m working on a tutorial for flat Roman shades, and I’ll share my tips for drawing straight lines in that post.

Another project complete! Window treatments make our first floor look more finished and homey, not to mention the perk of their function: blocking the blazing sun! Have you noticed the instant bump that dressing the windows can do for a room? What is the latest thing you’ve added to your home?



Guest Bedroom | A $0 Transformation (maybe…)

These blustery, frigid winter days make me think forward to spring, warmer days, fresh air, and new life! I do love winter, and this was not always true of me. Embracing winter sports was key to me finding joy in winter. I can now say I own skis, and I can snowplow down the hill with the best of them (The best of the 3-year-olds, I mean. No, just kidding, they are better than I am!) In all seriousness, I do enjoy downhill skiing, and it makes winter so much more enjoyable.

On to my topic today, I think our guest bedroom needs a little freshening up! If you’ve looked through my home tour, you will see several rooms that have never had new pictures shared since we purchased the house. Since I’ve neglected to share the guest room, I’ll show you today what we did when we first moved in, and my plans to give it a freshening up now.

Here is the room when we moved in:

Wow, it’s so much blue-er than I remember!

We painted the walls, painted the trim, painted the ceiling, added a shelf to the closet, and laid new carpet. We set down furniture we already had and knick-knacks/books we didn’t know what to do with and…voila!

Guest Room king bed

Forgive the less wide angle shots, I don’t have the lens I took the original photos with anymore.

The walls are a sage green, white trim, and beige-speckled carpet. Even with editing, these photos are reading dark. The walls are lighter than the picture shows and definitely green. These almost look dark beige on my computer.

guest room windowThere is one, off-centered, window in the room (why are windows ALWAYS off-center??). It has a cellular shade, but nothing else pretty to dress up the window.

The wall adjacent to the door is blank, and it is here that I plan to do the most changing: DIY art, a dresser, and functional decor (blankets, wifi password, etc.)

guest room blank wallOne more shot of the whole room (almost)…

guest room

It’s a pretty blank slate. The wall color is fairly neutral. I wouldn’t mind painting the walls, but I’m trying to make this a $0 refresh, so new paint is not in the plans!

Here is my wish list that I hope to accomplish for this room:

  1. DIY Art – I’m thinking a “Be Our Guest” painting like this. I’ll be painting over the Ikea dot canvas that is resting on the ledge above the bed currently.
  2. Wifi Password Display – I’ll make my own, but something similar to this.
  3. Dresser – I’m going to move the dresser from the old nursery/current playroom down to this room. It is sitting empty up in the playroom, and I still really like that old dresser!
  4. Window Covering – I’m really up in the air on this one.
    1. The first thought I had was a cornice box. The drawbacks I see of this are (1) I’d have to buy wood to make it and (2) it wouldn’t flow with any other room in the house. Does it need to? Thoughts?
    2. The other thought is curtains, which I would sew myself. I love long curtains. However, this is a daylight basement room. It has that half-wall/ledge thing. I think long curtains would look weird, and I think short ones look odd too. I love curtains, but I’m not sure this is the right room for them.
    3. Fabric covered cornice box? I do like this one and this one. I really like the nailhead trim on the second one, but I don’t have those on hand.
    4. Barn door shutters? I’ve heard the hardware is expensive, and I think it’s a bit rustic for my tastes.
    5. I find this idea GENIUS. The long curtains plus precisely hung art perfectly trick the eye. Not the right solution for this room, but I love how that designer thought outside the box!
    6. Any other ideas I haven’t thought of? What have you use or seen in a daylight basement window?
  5. Headboard – I’d like to build a headboard for the guest bed using only scrap we have. Dan’s not 100% sure we can, so we may have to spend money on wood for this one, but I think a headboard will go a long way to making this room look welcoming and finished.
  6. Bedside Tables – The goal is to get one on either side of the bed. I’m planning to shop the house on this one and be creative! They will be small ones though because the bed in this room is king-size, and the room is not really king-sized. You do what you can with what you have, right??

If you’d like to see all my collected ideas, check out my Home | Guest Room board on Pinterest. While you’re there, follow me for more house and health inspiration!

Guest Room Mood BoardSources: 1 Paint | 2 Carpet | 3 Nailhead Cornice | 4 Book Display | 5 Be Our Guest Art | 6 Headboard | 7 Basket | 8 Dresser

I’m so excited to tackle a home project again! It feels like it’s been ages! I’ll be updating you as I go. Feel free to give your input! I could really use suggestions on the window covering, bedside tables, and even how to use or not use that half wall!


The School Room

I made a big leap of faith (to me at least!) to homeschool my boys, at least for this year. I reserve the right to re-evaluate as needed. There. It’s stated for the record.

I began doing light preschool with my oldest last school year at the dining room table. I made up the curriculum as I went focusing on letter recognition/letter sounds and numbers/counting. I bought a couple packs of flash cards off Amazon and called it good enough. (letters, numbers, shapes/colors)

The year went great. He could recognize most of the alphabet and state their sounds by the end of the year. Not too shabby for a three year old, right?

Then summer hit, and I thought I should beef up my curriculum. Make our school more official. Based on the referral of my sister-in-law, I purchased All About Reading Level 1 and Saxon 1. As I began to look through the teacher’s manuals, I realized our little dining room table set-up was not going to cut it anymore.

Slight sidebar: ANY set-up for homeschooling can work! If your funds or space are limited, your child’s education doesn’t need to be. I am a big believer in use-what-you-have, so please don’t read this and walk away thinking you need a dedicated room in order to homeschool. You don’t.

Back to the dining room table, I didn’t think the set-up would be ideal for us. I wanted our youngest to participate, and there just wasn’t room for a whiteboard and all the supplies for the lessons in our dining room.

I decided to turn our playroom in the basement into the schoolroom. Convenient that the boys are in the same room now, eh? We had a big ole switcher-oo with the bedrooms and their functions this fall. Judah’s bed went into Jackson’s room. The toys all came up from the basement and Jackson’s room to their new home in the playroom. Leaving an empty room for me to create into our schoolroom!

Here she is!


The comfy, wide slipper chair that used to be in our living room, now has a home in the corner of the schoolroom. I like to move around as we do school. I think it helps keep the kids engaged and get the wiggles out as we go through the day. We begin our school in this chair doing our Bible lesson. Then we move either to the table, the floor, or in front of the whiteboard for the other portions of our curriculum.

reading chair in schoolroomOn the wall next to the chair, I hung these sweet wood racks with each boy’s name on it. They were a gift last year to the boys, and I’m so glad I found a place to use them!

crayon organization

The hangers are very sturdy, made of solid wood. I used 3M velcro picture hanging strips to hold these on the wall. I can see in the future a little body trying to hang on these and I (1) don’t want to rip a hole in the wall and (2) don’t want the wooden dowels to get broken off. My hope is that the whole piece would come off the wall without damaging the item or the wall. Hmm, it might squish some little toes though. I didn’t think of that one! This is the best plan I’ve got so far. Suggestions?

hanging bucket school organization

I bought $1 metal buckets from Target to hold various school supplies: crayons, pencils, erasers, and post-it notes. (Target website is saying $4, but I know I didn’t pay that. Maybe I got them on sale or at the dollar spot.)

crayon organizationAbove the boy’s supplies is a clock and calendar. Did you know a big part of the curriculum of an elementary school program is learning the day of the week, date, seasons, and weather? I didn’t, but I do now! We use this calendar every day when talking about what day it is. I found this cute printable here. There are so many cute free calendars out there. It’s the pennant shape that got me. So cute!

clock calendar in schoolroom

Next, our table and chairs where we do coloring, writing, and playing games. The table is an IKEA Lack side table that a friend was getting rid of. I love free stuff! The chairs are Eames style child-size chair. I bought them in a two pack from Amazon. The chairs are a little tall for the table so Dan is in the process of building us a longer, slightly taller school table. (Spoiler: It’s built and beautiful! I’m working on the finish coat now. Hope to show it soon!)

Homeschool table

Child Size Eames Chair

There’s a little nook in the corner of the room that is just the right size for a file cabinet. It holds all of our school supplies, and our abacus. What schoolroom doesn’t need an abacus, right? I don’t know how to use it yet, but I plan to learn and teach it to my kids. We’re homeschooling and can do what we want! Nerd alert!

file cabinet in schoolroomThe primary reason I didn’t want to keep doing school at the dining room table was the use of a whiteboard. The All About Reading program uses alphabet letter magnetic tiles and a dry erase board. I really wanted to use this tool so I needed to choose a school space that had enough open wall for a 3’x2′ whiteboard.

We also have a number poster and progress chart for our reading program on that wall.

Whiteboard with alphabetThat conclude the tour of our bright, colorful school room. We do preschool three days a week, and I love having a dedicated space that has room for all the tools I use to teach.

Any homeschoolers out there? Do you use a dedicated school space or just wherever you land? Anyone know how to use an abacus? Teach me!

Playroom with chair

The Playroom | The Ending of the Nursery Era

The boys have been begging to share a room for some time now. We have plans to build them a bunk bed. Sh! Don’t tell them! Since our project list is long and generally takes forever to get through, we decided this fall to just put them in the same room with two twin beds.

That left an open bedroom. What should we do with it?

I’d love a dedicated office space, and that is still in the back of my mind, but I thought a playroom would be more immediately functional. So with just a few tears, we put the boys in the same room and attempted to make a playroom.

What looked like this:

Boy Nursery

Is now this:

Playroom with chairI wish I still had that wider angle lens I had when I first took the nursery pictures! I couldn’t back up enough to get a good shot.

This is another “Use-What-You-Have” Transformation. I just moved things around from room to room, and now the boys have a perfect play area. I did not buy anything to organize the toys. While I’m sure it would look prettier with matching bins or stacked toy towers, this way I don’t worry when something is broken and the room is functional NOW. The organizing bins are just old ice cream containers, storage tubs, or baskets we had lying around.

The play kitchen was relocated from the boys room into this room. They do have toy food, pans, and such. It is in an old ice cream bucket between the wall and the kitchen. See the black handle sticking out? That’s where all the kitchen odds and ends are.

Stuffies tend to tend to take over. I have a love/hate relationship with them. They are cute and cuddly, but they end up all over the house! I didn’t have a great solution, so I just tossed them into this green crate that I’ve been holding onto since college.

Toy Kitchen

Oh, and the trucks. Do we ever have the trucks. This isn’t even all of them. There’s another excavator and dump truck, at least, roaming around the house somewhere. These are probably the boys favorite toys now. Well, these and Legos, tough call between the two of them.

Toy Trucks

I kept the chair in the room so there’s a nice seat for an adult (aka snoozing spot for daddy!). The boys and I still read books often up here, so it’s perfect for that too. Also, I clocked so many hours in that chair nursing my boys, I couldn’t get rid of it! It still near and dear to my heart. Ha!

Reading Nook

For now, the boy’s Christmas tree is in front of the window. After Christmas, I will leave this space open. They need space to play! Space to be creative! I really believe kids play better with more space and less toys. This room will be going through a purge in January. It’s feeling too full and it’s bound to collect more on Christmas!

Playroom Christmas Tree

Next to the closet, I put an area for the smaller matchbox-style cars. The wooden parking garage is the right size for the rest of the cars they own. The “home” for the cars is the wagon. I ran out of containers, so wagon it is! Even though not pretty, it is totally functional. The boys have cleaned up this room enough now that they know which cars and trucks belong in the wagon. It doesn’t have to be pretty to be functional, and that is a beauty all of it’s own.

Toy Cars

The last little bit of nursery is the dresser, changing pad, and little boy art. I love the art (hand-me-down from the neighbors, isn’t it cute?!?). I plan to move the dresser down to the guest bedroom, move the art into the boys’ new shared room, and donate the changing pad. Another project for another day!

Dresser and Art

That’s it! The boys new playroom is finished for now. This was a $0, Use-What-You-Have transformation. I just used what we already had and a little bit of elbow grease to make a lovely new-feeling play room.

It’s so fun to move things around! It feel like a new room to me (and my kids!). I think it gives new energy to the house, and I love freshening spaces up. Sometimes all that is needed is a new furniture arrangement, swapping the functions of two rooms, change the curtains from one room to the next. Make small, easy changes like this, and I’m sure you will find a new joy in your home!

Do you have any plans to freshen anything up with the new year almost here? Do you get the itch to change things up after all the hubbub of the holidays and Christmas decor? Do you try to fit breathing room into each room? Christmas tends to take all the breathing room out of our rooms…I’ll be dying to get it back come January!

Olive Wood Nativity

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?

Plaid Faux Fur Stocking

Plush, Plaid Christmas Stockings | DIY Christmas Stockings You’ll Want to Actually Wear

My husband and I bought two Christmas stockings during Target’s after Christmas clearance eons ago…like 10 years. That’s an eon, right? We loved the faux shearling cuff, and kids were so far off, so why buy more than two?

Fast-forward 10 years and the 4 and 2 year old are using our old Christmas stockings. There’s nothing wrong with them, but we wanted a matching set for all of us.

I’m not sure I’ve mentioned before, but my husband is a go-big-or-go-home kind of guy. When we do something, we go all the way. So he requested a fully lined stocking with some heft, not the limpy ones that fold in half under their own weight. He would like it to keep its shape while hanging by the fireplace empty.

He also loves plaid, so that was a must when shopping for fabric. We decided on a quilted plaid for the outside of the stockings and a faux fur lining. The faux fur is SO soft, SO plush. It’s lovely. I want to sleep on it!

Let’s sew some stockings!

I look up a few tutorials. I ended up following this one on how to put the stockings together.

I deviated from the plan in the shape of my stocking and attaching the loop to the top for hanging by the fireplace. Ill point out those deviations as I go.

Making the Pattern

Most stocking tutorials use patterns that look a bit too small, either too thin of a stocking or too short. Remember, we want a substantial stocking?

I decided to use the shape of the Target stockings we already had. I simply laid the stocking on the fabric (with the cuff unfolded to account for that extra length) and traced it leaving a 1/2 inch seam allowance all the way around.

Xmas Stocking Pattern

For the toe and heal, I use my yard stick to measure 1/2 inch from the fabric and put a dot every inch or so. Then I just connected the dots to make the curves.

I used that pattern to cut out the rest of the plaid (outside stocking) and faux fur (stocking lining). Make sure to cut 2 outer fabrics with toes in opposite directions and 2 lining fabrics with toes in opposite directions. You need 4 stocking shapes for each stocking.

Stated another way, when you trace and cut out the additional pieces, cut one with the wrong side up and one with the right side up for both the lining and outer fabric. Turning the pattern over will ensure you get the toes in the right direction.



A note on pattern matching: the stocking will look better if you match the patterns at the seams. I tried, but I didn’t do it right. I cut it out with the plaid lined up exactly. It should’ve been shifted. Don’t be like me, look up how to match patterns correctly before you cut!

Plaid Stocking PatternSewing the Stocking

Again, I followed this tutorial, so my instructions will be very similar.

Place right sides together, toes in the same direction, and sew the lining and the outer fabric together at the top of the stocking. Do this for both side of the stocking.

Stocking InstructionsNow there should be a front and a back to the stocking, like this:

Front Back Xmas StockingHere is where I deviated from the other tutorial. I sewed my strap into the lining side of the stocking in the next step. I cut a piece of the outer fabric in a 1″x8″ long strip, over edge stitch along the sides, folded it in half, and placed it 4″ down from the top edge of the stocking.

Xmas Stocking Loop

The loop should go on the lining side (faux fur in my stocking) and on the heal side of the stocking. That way when it is hung by the fireplace, the toe hangs down. Don’t put it on the toe side because you will have to seam ripping through faux fur to move it, and that is not a walk in the park. Ask me how I know…

Before you sew the front and back of the stocking together, this is how the pieces should look.

Xmas Stocking LoopPlace front and back of stocking together with right sides together. Begin by lining up the middle seam between the lining (faux fur) and outer fabric (plaid), then work your way down each side to the toe.

Stocking Front BackPin the sides together. I put pins closer together at each curve (toe and heel) especially on the lining side (faux fur). The fur shifted very easily, and since, I’m a beginner sewer, I tend to think more is better in the pinning department.

Stocking Pin PlacementLining Side:

Stocking Pin SeqBefore beginning to sew, mark a space on the lining side of the stocking to leave an opening so the stocking can be turned right side out. The opening will be hand sewn closed later.

Then start sewing at the green dot and work your way all the way around the stocking, clockwise, ending at the other set of double pins.

Stocking Sew SeqI cut my pattern based on a 1/2 inch seam allowance, but at the recommendation of this tutorial, I sewed the lining side at 5/8 inch and the outer side closer to 1/4 inch. I say “closer” because my sewing is not that precise! Doing this will allow the lining to be slightly smaller than the outer fabric which should make it lay nicer once finished. These stockings definitely needed the extra help to lay flat. If your outer and lining fabric are closer to the same thickness, you might not need this adjustment.

My lining is thick. I mean THICK. Take a look…

Thick Stocking Lining

So I also made my stitch length longer when I sewed the lining side. This seemed to allow the fabric to move easier through my machine. See, it was kind of eating my pressure foot. 🙂

Sew Stocking LiningFinished stocking – finished with the machine sewing at least…

Xmas Stocking SewnBefore turning it right side out, trim close to the seam on the lining side and notch the curves on the outer (plaid) side.

Stocking notched

Turn the stocking right side out, carefully pulling it out of the opening left on the lining side. Voila!

Stocking Right SideHand sew the opening shut using a blind stitch. This was very difficult to do precisely on the faux fur. It was so plush, I couldn’t tell if each stitch went all the way through! The great thing about putting the opening here is no one will see it! It will be inside the stocking so none will be wiser if your hand sewing isn’t up to par, like mine!

Stocking Hand StitchCarefully work the lining into the outer fabric side. You will likely need to work the lining into the heel and toe.

Plaid Christmas StockingTurn that cuff over, and you are done!

Plaid Faux Fur StockingRevel in your handiworkXmas Stocking Finished

The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,

In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;

Fireplace with Stockings

Stocking LoopTake a look at that fur! It goes all the way to the toes! Just stick your arm down these stockings, and you’ll see why I want to wear them. They are SO plush and warm!

Faux Fur LiningOne more look…

I am so happy with how these stockings turned out. Our fireplace is now symmetrical and complete for our family, and Dan approves wholeheartedly! They are the thickest stockings I’ve ever seen. Much more substantial that anything found in the store.

The total cost of this project was $35 for 4 stockings: $8.75 per stocking. Not bad at all! I bought 1.5 yards of both the plaid fabric and the faux fur for the lining. It was just the right amount too. I have very little waste.

This really turned out to be a simple sewing project, so if you are a beginner, like me, you can handle it!

Christmas Stocking Tutorial

Are you making any Christmas decor this year? Stockings? Tree skirt? Garland? Wreath? Do share success or failure!

Main Bathroom Vanity Refresh

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!


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.


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.


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!