Oh, No Christmas Tree…

November 19, 2010   //  Posted in: Holiday-Related Projects   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

In 2009, possibly the first time ever, I didn’t buy a Christmas tree. I couldn’t rationalize the cost — I wasn’t going to be in town for the holiday, I was living alone, and I only owned about 15 ornaments (probably would have looked pathetic). I still wanted to celebrate (it was my first holiday-season in my new house, after all), so I bought some lights (garage sale + leftovers from mom), and strung lights inside.

Ceremoniously, I promoted my indoor house plant to become a fill-in for a pine tree, complete with the lights and my small collection of ornaments. I strung lights around the insides of the living and dining room windows (but didn’t actually do anything to the exterior of the house). I relied on baking lots of cookies (although, I didn’t have cookie cutters yet at this point) and burning a pine candle to keep the house feeling seasonally-appropriate.

Adorned my living room with lots of white lights.

Proud to be a Christmas tree.

Sugar cookies. I didn't own cookie cutters yet at this point. Awesome saturated dye, though.

Since then, I’ve picked up a few items to slowly grow my collection of holiday decorations – I bought a small faux-tree a-la-Pottery Barn at a summertime garage sale, and scored some older electric “candles” for the windows…  photos to come after Thanksgiving!

New walk-in-closet

November 18, 2010   //  Posted in: Bedrooms, Closets, Decor   //  By: Emily   //  2 responses

The family I purchased my home from had three young children, therefore, both of the bedrooms were adorned for… very… young… children. While one room featured a rainbow ceiling fan and blue walls (see my progress with that room in the before and after section), the smallest of the bedrooms was clearly the sweet, sweet nursery, with light green walls, hand painted animals, and coordinating wallpaper. This smaller bedroom is the appropriate size for a crib, but any adult-sized bed would have been a squeeze (not impossible, just snug). The master closet is pretty small, so I had a lot of overflow happening, and that’s what fueled my decision to make this small bedroom my walk-in closet. See some befores, and keep reading to see the transformation:

Nursery, occupied by previous owners.

Nursery on the day I moved in. One animal (of 4) shown.

Like other rooms in the house, the carpeting was removed and hardwoods were refinished. In regards to the animal paintings, I decided to neutralize the walls, priming (twice) and painting (thrice) to create a fresh white space. I’ve always wanted to paint a ceiling light blue or light gray, so this was my test room for that endeavor – light blue it remains! In addition to utilizing the closet, I needed some extra storage – especially in the shoe department. I lucked out by purchased three matching IKEA shelves from a friend who was having a moving sale – and happily, they fit alongside the long wall in the room perrrfectly! The open-shelves at the top serve as storage to (most of my) shoes, and the lower storage conceal extra books, paperwork, photos, and gift wrapping supplies.

Step 1: Remove carpet. The floors had not been refinished yet in this shot, but they still look pretty good.

Entryway to the new walk-in-closet. Blue ceiling, white walls, and shiny finished hardwoods.

Matching IKEA cabinets flank one wall. Shown featuring my fall shoe collection, the sandals and other spring footwear are carefully stored in overhead baskets.

I’m still working on adding additional exposed storage, but I still rely on the door itself to display my (ever-increasing) collection of scarfs. And I started with installing hooks for my small collection of necklaces.

Still-to-be-refinished-dresser, faux-Peonies, unframed mirrors, and necklace hooks.

Simple necklace hooks.

Door to display scarves.

The dresser shown in the above photos was a free-salvage from an old apartment. I refinished it once, banged it up moving 3+ times, and am going to refinish it once more (thinking smooth, glossy white – thoughts?). I’d still love to get a nice carpet and a small cushy chair for this room, but Cody makes me not want to over-invest in area rugs, and I haven’t found a “i-love-it” chair (truthfully, I’m hoping I can find one to refinish).

But if nothing else, I have room for a growing wardrobe :)

Kitchen island revamp

November 16, 2010   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

The “kitchen island” that I found curbside lived in my house for about 15 months before I was in the right frame of mind to rehab it. I use the term “kitchen island” loosely because I’m fairly sure that the previous owners used this table as a planting surface or basement storage area. I lysol’ed the heck out of it and let it work for me as an extra surface in the kitchen, until just recently, when I decided it was time to do the envisioned fixes.

My kitchen island-to-be. Yeah, I did eat dinner on it the day I brought it home (after a good scrub).

The original table had some interesting elements that I liked – built-in shelves and dowel details on the sides, cute scalloped legs, and a generally nice frame. The height was an issue. I’m a tall 5’8″, so I couldn’t easily do much slicing and dicing on the low tabletop surface.  The vinyl tabletop was also an issue – old and eternally dirty, let alone the fact that it didn’t match anything I owned.

What’d I do? Tore off the top of the table and trashed it. I’m pretty sure I found mold in there too (insert completely horrified face). The remaining frame was carefully disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled in such a way to re-purpose the shelves on one side and dowels. New legs (1″x3″ and 1″x6″ boards) cost approx $15 from Home Depot (I even sprung for higher quality lumber) and the height of the new table matches the height of the countertop, so it’s perfectly comfortable to work at now.

Cautiously destructed the kitchen island.


Reassembled the island. New long legs make it counter-height.

Butcherblock would have been a PERFECT new top to this table, but I couldn’t afford a new piece, and decided that I wanted to paint the surface white eventually (there are too many types of wood in that kitchen already), so I headed to Home Depot to see if I could find any inspiration. I found some tongue-and-groove flooring in a clearance area that I decided to try – it seemed sturdy when I laid it together in the store, and I ended up only needing three-10′ boards ($9 total, since they were on sale). I thought some 1″x2″ boards might suffice as a trim/casing for the tabletop. We glued, and let that dry for a day, trimed the edges even, applied some underneath support (with Pete’s new nail gun!), and sanded, sanded, sanded.

Nail gun! Adding support to the underside of the tabletop.


He's a more patient power sander than me.

The final table will need to be painted (probably white) again, but I’m leaving as-is for now.

New kitchen island, assembled!


Close-up of the tabletop (made of tongue-and-groove floorboards and 1"x2" trim)