Category Archives: Renovations on a Dime

The Unveiling of Babygirl’s Nursery

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Brace yourselves and buckle up, because this is going to be a long one! SO much time and effort went into this nursery for my daughter, not to mention blood, sweat, and tears (I literally thought my back was going to snap in half at one point).

We found out the night before the first day of school back in early September that we were expecting. At this time, our daughter was nothing more than a faint pink line on a test!

To start at the beginning, I have to go back to July. As soon as we decided to let “whatever happens happen”, the notorious planner and prepper in me got to work right away! Children had never really been in my life’s plan, so I never allowed myself to imagine things like what our nursery would look like. I started looking online for ideas and found details I liked, but nothing that was right. I scoured thrift stores and Craigslist and my taste began to take shape. When I found what I loved, I pounced without thinking, knowing in my usual style that it would come together in the end. Boy or girl, I knew I wanted to work with a lot of what I had in the guest room, that I wanted my favorite neutrals (khaki/beige, warm white, shabby blue) to be the color scheme. As for a theme, I wanted a shabby cottage type of look with a subtle beachy vibe (that part got stronger as time went on). There are adorable nurseries full of ruffles, pink, blue, cars, and monsters…but none of those specific themes felt right. We knew we would opt to learn our baby’s gender, but we knew that neutral for me would never come in the form of yellows and greens (which frankly, I can’t stand).

As I searched and got a feel for what I gravitated towards, I came across one set of baby bedding in particular. Once I laid eyes on it, it was all I could think about. I had a visceral reaction to it and felt like it was designed for me. Knowing nothing about baby brands, I did my research….and almost passed out! I must have a good eye, because I had set my sights on Glenna Jean’s “Central Park” collection. Glenna Jean is the priciest baby bedding on the market, heirloom quality, made in the USA, designer, the whole nine. Not only were the colors exactly what I envisioned, it had the spirit of an heirloom quilt and the most wonderful textured accents. The set and accessories I wanted also came in at a steep $567. YIKES!!! Here’s my “love at first sight” set:

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See? Serene, calm, cottage-esque, neutral, vintage-inspired.

I came to terms with the fact that I would never be able to afford that. About a week later, I nearly fainted when I saw a listing pop up on Craigslist for none other than the baby bedding of my dreams, in mint condition…for $40. Yes, you read that correctly. We were in the car and picking it up that same morning. It was all the bedding, a mobile, a diaper stacker, changing pad cover, etc. Score!

Next up was finding a crib! I knew I wanted white (no dark wood for me) and that I preferred a more modern style or a vintage-inspired Jenny Lind style. I found one I adored on a yard sale site, but it lacked the shabby feel I wanted. The fix? Jeff and I had a great time taking it out back in pieces and taking the power sander to it to distress it. An added bonus is that we now have a great memory to go with it. It was a BRU brand crib by Baby Cache. Ones extremely similar to it on the site now sell for between $350-$500. We paid just $80 for a crib 2 years old!

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We snagged a Colgate brand baby mattress in great shape for $10 to go with the crib. Some say don’t buy used, I say find one in excellent shape and go for it.

A changing table? I didn’t like the new ones I was seeing. The lines were off, and nothing felt right. Then, a friend had a vintage, spindle-style (the Jenny Lind lines I love) changing table to trade me for a child’s bench I found. Cost? Free! All I did was take it from this:

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to this:

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To this:

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And now, finally, with some shabbying up and tweaks…this (its final incarnation)

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Every last accessory for it came from a thrift store, and one was gifted from a friend. The changing pad was also free!

I was adamant that I needed a storage chest in the room for things like diapers, wipes, formula, bath items, etc. I found this $20 wood chest secondhand and painted it up:

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What to do above the crib? An old, salvaged shutter solved that problem quickly. I decided that the name would be displayed on it close to her birth (since her name is a secret), and that a curtain rod and thrifted curtains would add an interesting element to the sides of the crib, framing it out. The result is a little unique, but one I am happy with:

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After the crib, I set out to find either a nice, used bassinet or a cradle. I found a gorgeous white Jenny Lind style rocking cradle on Craigslist with eyelet bumper and pad for just $10! This will go in the master bedroom for her first couple weeks home so that she can room in with us:

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Again, I adore this vintage style, and it is extremely similar to a crib in design and feel, hopefully easing the transition later on!

Next came a place to rock and feed the baby. After realizing a wooden rocker would not be comfortable enough, I decided to price out a glider and ottoman. THAT was a shock…with the least expensive coming in at close to $200 and going to up about $600. My problem was solved when a friend posted her old glider and ottoman for sale, that I was now the third owner of! It was covered in deep brown baby blanket fabric that wouldn’t show stains and had a pale wood frame that went with the room. She and her husband delivered it…cost just $35! After the addition of a $5 rose pillow (my daughter’s middle name) and a $3 turquoise geometric pillow cover, the look was complete:

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That ombre blue, numbered chest in the photo with zinc paint-job on the sides was a fun thrift-store makeover blogged in a previous entry. It fits in the nursery so well!

Next, and here was the doozy…is the furniture. My mom had graciously gifted us a set of dark pine furniture that had been in the family nearly 50 years, though it was in very rough shape. No drawers worked right, the wood was pitted and pocked in some spots, some hardware had broken, etc. But my brother used it growing up and it had sentimental value. I called around to furniture repair shops, but nobody wanted to take on such a small job (repairing all the drawer tracks). What did my husband do? Got out his tools and made them work again! The sides of the dressers and nightstand were a laminate as was a top layer, with the drawers being solid wood. Paint was the only solution. By now, we knew we were expecting a little girl, and I wanted something that could grow with her through the years, be neutral, and yet manage to be neutral and just girly enough. I decided on shabby, warm beachy white for the frames ,and a sand color for the drawers. The drawers also had a subtle crackle finish to add a nice textural detail and mimic wear/age. I kept the original pulls, painting them an aqua blue and highlighting them with white, and I found PERFECT turquoise blue mercury glass knobs for the top drawers. This total rehab was a major undertaking, one that was a lot for me to take on while pregnant and not feeling well. Still, at almost 30 weeks today, I am getting bigger and more achy/uncomfortable, so I needed to push through and get it done. Here is what I was working with before:

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Simply too dark for a nursery, and in need of serious elbow grease. By the way, you should avoid regular paint while pregnant! I used Shabby Paints by Two Peas to rehab this furniture…acrylic-based, no VOCs, safe, non-toxic. After countless hours of work and painting, here is the end result:

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Perfect for a beachy/cottage nursery! And look at those great lines along the bottom…who knew they even existed?!

I did the same for the nightstand and high dresser and loved the results for both:

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Next came a room-sized rug. I wanted a shag rug because I loved the texture, but most I saw were $150-$200. I found a 5 by 8 rug at Walmart on sale for just $68…and we love it! Photos of it are in the full-room shots at the end.

As for accessories, I re-purposed many things I already had, but added some great pieces to the wall that are special and fit the theme of the room. Here’s a taste:

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The wave painting is by me, just adding a beachy touch to her room. I shabby-painted the turquoise anchor hanging. The announcement chalkboard was a $4 thrift store frame I painted. The Dr. Seuss was made for me by an Etsy artist. The capiz shell mobile was bought over Valentine’s Day weekend in Cape May by us for just $10 (off-season). The other signs are perfect little inexpensive touches I found. I already had sconces and owl decals on the walls that I love and kept up.

I think it’s time for the finished photos, of everything put together. There’s hardly a single piece in this room that I have not rehabbed, painted, touched, enhanced, etc. I wouldn’t have it any other way!

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I hope you love it as much as we do. We can’t wait for it to become “home” for our daughter. I hope that as she grows up, she appreciates having things that Mom worked so hard on for her, and that some of it even travels with her someday if she chooses to have her own family…

This room makes me so happy. I walk in all the time and it still manages to feel surreal.

Now, for one of the best parts…the cost breakdown! I will tell you that EVERY single thing you see in those photos add up to an amount that is almost silly. This nursery was entirely created on a budget of LESS THAN $500!!!

Nursery costs:

Glenna Jean bedding/accessories (bumper, crib skirt, sheet, diaper stacker, quilt, changing pad cover…$40 secondhand (regular price $567)

Baby Cache crib…$80 secondhand (regular price $400)

Vintage spindle-style changing table, refinished…free! (regular cost $50)

Changing table accessories…$7 total. (regular cost $20)

Baby mattress: $10, regular price $70

Shag rug…$68 (usually cost about $120)

Old vintage family furniture set: Dresser, mirror, highboy, nightstand…FREE and restored/painted. (Craigslist cost $400)

Mercury glass knobs/hardware: $10 after selling un-needed older hardware (regular cost $60)

Wood storage chest (painted): $20 secondhand (regular cost $60-70)

Jenny-Lind style cradle: $10 secondhand ($100)

Refinished ombre 6-drawer chest…$7 at thrift store…$20 total after supplies/materials ($75)

Vintage sandstone owl bookends: $8 (regular $20)

Owl lamp with ruffle shade…free/gifted by mom (regular $25)

Glider and ottoman, thirdhand/used…$35 (new one costs $199)

Rose pillow for glider: $5 (regular $15)

Geometric turquoise pillow for glider…$3 (regular $10)

Long pillow for storage chest: $19, Anthropologie (regular $50)

Welcome sign for door…$6 (regular $10)

“Life’s A Beach” sign…$4 (regular $10)

“Paradise” sign…$12 (regular $25)

Custom-made Dr. Seuss plaque from Etsy…$16

Wood anchor…$4.50 (regular $8)

Waves painting…free/painted by mom!

Thrifted mirror turned announcement chalkboard: $4 (buying something similar would run about $30)

New curtains: $17 (regular price $30)

Salvaged/painted shutter for behind crib: $12 (regular cost about $25)

Curtain rod for shutter: $8 (regular price $15)

Thrifted curtains for shutter: $2.50 for the set (regular price $10)

“To the moon and back” picture: $3

Paint/supplies: $50-60

$474 total for entire nursery, all items in it.

Should have cost: $2500+ with secondhand dressers.

Should have cost $3200+ with brand new or professionally repainted dressers.

Saved $2000-$3000, easily.

So there you have it…my baby’s beautiful nursery for less than $500! All that’s left is for May 18th to get here ❤

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Favorite. Project. Piece. Ever.

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I am SO EXCITED for this one, y’all!

I’ll begin by stating that I am known for doing things “big” and for my exuberance. Rather than tackle a single concept with this piece, I took on all 3 at once 🙂

1.) Zinc finish furniture. Restoration Hardware makes these insanely expensive but AMAZING zinc furniture pieces, and I want, like…ALL of them. Here’s a taste: imageimage

 

 

Yeah, dreamy! Also thousands. I’ve been wanting to recreate this look with paint for a while now. The kick in the pants came from a crafty/upcycle-queen buddy (Kelley Gauntt). She posted this amazing piece that she made. By the way, it is for sale and has a bigger twin, making it a set. They’re also SO reasonable, so let me know if you are interested, she does great work.image

 

 

 

2.) Next up on my list was the numbered drawers (shown in Kelley’s piece), that I saw long ago at Anthropologie and loved! It’s a cool look and lends sort of an industrial flair. Here are some great examples:

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Fun, right?!

 

Okay, now…3.) Ombre drawers in a dresser. With the exception of hair (eww), I love ombre. I was rocking ombre dresses in high school long before it was trendy. Such a beautiful look. Here are some of my inspiration pieces for this look:

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I love the shabby one in the final pic…I will be trying that soon for sure.

 

So with all my inspiration, THIS was my canvas. A tall, narrow chest made of knotty pine. Despite its homely appearance, all I could see was potential. I snagged it for just $7! As mentioned earlier, I combined all 3 of the techniques into this one…zinc paint, numbered drawers, ombre colors. Here’s the raw material:

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I primed it a pale grey color and then used a textured deep metallic grey paint by Martha Stewart as coat 1. image

It gave the piece a great texture that is nice to touch, rough and industrial. Next, I used a sooth silver metallic paint, also by Martha Stewart. I used a cheesecloth to wipe it on and then off for a look that replicated zinc’s natural patina. Here’s the zinc paint job:

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My bestie was over and helped me with the drawers by giving me her valued opinions on whether the shades were correct or need re-mixing. I began with white and led to a deeper blue in an ombre effect. I used paint I had on hand. I found aluminum numbers at Home Depot that I gave a zinc paint job to to number the drawers when done. I sealed the drawers when done, and after the numbers went on…she was complete. I’m obsessed. Here she is!

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Three elements combined to make one really unique, funky piece. 

 

Now, for the cost rundown:

Dresser: $7

Numbers: $9

Metallic paints: $7

Total: $23. Hows that for a creative steal?!

I adore this one. 

 

Til next time…

 

Bonjour, Paris! (A fast, easy, cheap little makeover)

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When I saw a small ottoman/upholstered footstool for sale for $5, all wood with padding and plywood intact…I pounced! There’s no limit to what could be done with it. It’s funny to me that the makeover ended up being neutral, demure, and sophisticated rather than vibrant, bright, and fun.

 

I’m fairly certain the culprit is “The Other Boleyn Girl”, which I am currently re-reading for the fourth time. Maybe it’s the sense of artistocracy, Anne’s French sense of fashion, or the courtly revels, but I’ve had Paris on the brain today.

 

I decided I wanted to budget between $8-$10 total for the project, including the ottoman and supplies.

 

Well, $3 in fabric later (I had also bought a burlap fabric, but it didn’t “fit” as well as this cotton twill), leftover chalk paint and paint supplies later, and I had my final result!

I used a bit of semi-gloss water-based floor poly to seal the chalk paint, which I distressed using an old sanding block. When keeping project costs down, GO SHOPPING IN YOUR OWN HOUSE.

 

Seriously…it’s the best way to do it! And chalk paint is environmentally friendly, non-toxic, and safe, so it’s a good choice for virtually anyone. Roughing it up is a lot of fun, and you can play around with it to achieve your desired result.

I did one good coat of oatmeal colored chalk paint and then roughed it up.

 

Here is what I started with:

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Bad fabric, bad color (it did not know whether to be maple or mahogany). However, good bones!

Here’s the frame after paint and before distressing:

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And the final results:ImageImageImageImageImageImage

(That last photo, with the flash on, highlights the distressing).

I fell in love with that fabric straight away…old bikes, skeleton keys, French script, the Eiffel Tower? AND cheap? Sign me up! It is a cotton twill, as previously mentioned, not heavy tapestry or thick fabric, but it works perfectly on this piece. I’ll use my $2 piece of Parisian burlap for another project in the future.

 

So to recap costs:

Footstool/ottoman: $5

Parisian fabric: $3

Leftover paint, brushes, poly, sanding block: FREE 🙂

Project total: $8

 

Here it is in its new home, next to a fabulous $15 overstuffed chair that I got on Craigslist last summer. The butterfly pillow is from Pier 1 and features French script that pairs nicely with the ottoman.

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Can’t beat that, can you?

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Until next time 😉

Somewhere Under the Rainbow (and over the bulkhead)

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Ho-kay! So…

I won’t even mince words. I have done a LOT of cool things to my house since I bought it in 2013. I’m not sure why this little, silly, eccentric change is such a big deal to me, but it is! Like all great ideas, it began as a tiny ghost of a thought that snowballed and spiraled into something totally different…and far more wonderful.

The original plan was a pallet wall in the half bath, with rustic, unfinished wood. Then, I thought that maybe I should also put the pallet wood on the bulkhead where the main pipe is stored in the ceiling. Then I got to thinking I could salvage some of the pallet planks and paint them bright rainbow colors on the bulkhead. THEN, after taking the idea to my husband, he suggested scrapping the pallet wood and going for a more streamlined look with 1 x 2’s painted and placed together.

I’ve always been in love with (and truth be told, kind of obsessed with) rainbows. What’s not to love?! I am a colorful person, I love color in my house, I love all the things rainbows mean and stand for, and they simply make me happy. Once the idea of having my own, personal rainbow in my own home took hold in my mind, I couldn’t let it go.

I searched high and low, but could not find any photos of exactly what I wanted or planned on doing. Either it hasn’t been done or (more likely) simply hasn’t been posted. But this little bulkhead was the perfect place for a small but brilliant makeover. I decided early on to follow the ROYGBV color scheme, but after hubby had measured the bulkhead, he said that to sit the colors/lumber boards all up against one another, it was going to require 8 colors! After some thought (and a lot of mixing of paint), I decided to add a terra-cotta color after the red (that matched the half-bath perfectly) and a cross between robin’s egg blue and turquoise after green, for a total of 8 colors. Because the boards were pre-primed, my job was easy! I bought acrylic paints rather than latex for this project. The hardest part was spending the time to mix colors to make them exactly, perfectly “right”.

Here’s the top half of the rainbow being painted:

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And the top half of the rainbow all finished:

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::warm fuzzies::

(Looks like a sunset!)

Then, it came time to begin the bottom half:

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(that was after coat 1)

After a few other coats, here is the whole rainbow assembled together:

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Now, let’s play “spot the problem”.

SEE THAT GREEN?! EEK. Way too dark! After several tries mixing to get the color I was going for:

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That’s more like it!

Once more, here it is with all of the finalized colors:

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And ::drumroll, please:: Here is the completed accent wall, up on the bulkhead in the half-bath.

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I realize that to a lot of people, I am the layman’s term for “crazy”. However, I love my rainbow accent wall and I love that I have my own rainbow at home.

One of the best parts? Between materials and paint, the whole cost of the accent wall was a mere $15! If this isn’t $15 of fun, I don’t know what is 🙂

Save the popcorn for the theater!

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The following entry is NOT by me 🙂 It was (wonderfully) done by my lovely husband, Jeff, for instructables.com.

This is the original link: http://www.instructables.com/id/Removing-Popcorn-Ceilings/

I am posting it here because I love the difference it has made in our home. I came home from a bad day at work to the surprise of a new project for our house. Some girls like flowers, cards, and jewelry….I like home projects (and getting a little messy in the process). Next up is our 400 square-foot den, which will prove more of a challenge.

Here I am, covered in plaster after night #1 of “popcorngate”:

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Without further ado, please join me in saying so-long to the popcorn ceilings in the foyer, dining room, and formal living room. Let’s leave the popcorn in the bag or the bowl, where it belongs!

Picture of Removing Popcorn Ceilings!
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I surprised my wife by having her walk in from a long day at work to find me covered in sloppy wet oatmeal-like popcorn ceiling plaster and the furniture all over the house, but she wasn’t mad and it turned out to be a very easy DIY project!***((Warning: Popcorn applied before 1978 MUST BE TESTED for asbestos and other chemicals common to the product in the 60’s/70’s.  You do NOT want those fibers floating around the room to be ingested.  If it’s asbestos based, you should have a professional come in to take care of it.  Some municipalities have codes against you doing it yourself, for safety reasons.))***Popcorn ceilings were really popular back in the day, although many people had them sprayed on to hide defects in the ceiling, supposedly-deaden sound, or give that “cozy” appearance to a room that was a little too barren.  Either way, I don’t believe that have any place in a modern home, and must be removed immediately!Ours was actually sprayed circa 2001, so it came off fairly easily and the ceiling drywall was already primed white above it, making it even more easy.  Many times, you’ll find cracked Sheetrock, failed joint compound, edging tape coming loose etc.  If any cracks are apparent, moistening some joint tape before applying to the crack, then compound over it until it’s smooth. It’s the best remedy – short of installing new drywall!Anyway, the process is simple.

Supplies list: (many of these items you may already own, keeping costs down)

Clear Tarps ($10)
Duct Tape ($5)
Blue Painter’s tape ($5)
Handheld pump sprayer ($15)
Bucket, Sponge and Soap ($15)
10″ Scraper ($7)
Silicone Caulk – ($4)
Stepstool ($25?)
Paint Pole, Roller, and Roller Covers ($15)
Ceiling Paint ($15 / gallon)
Spackle / Joint Compound ($5)
Sandpaper ($5)
Mask / Respirator ($15)
Joint Tape ($3)

Instructions:

1) Strip room of everything you can move.  Certain sofas, tv stands, or heavy furniture are better off left where they sit, but all lamps etc. can go. It’s much easier to get to all corners with big things missing.

2) Tarp the entire room.  Tape tarps together – ALL SEAMS- with duct tape, and use the painter’s tape to go at least a foot up the walls.  Cover all electrical outlets and air registers, essentially creating a bowl-shape for the plaster to fall in to.  Some people like to tarp the ENTIRE walls, but if you go slow, not much will glop onto them.  It’s easy to clean up later anyway.  The smallest seam between tarps will inadvertently cover the entire room in plaster dust.

2) Use the water sprayer to moisten a 5×5 foot box shape.  You can spray the whole room if you want, but this stuff absorbs a ridiculous amount of water, so be aware before you begin.  It’s hard to describe when it’s wet enough – but your scraper will slide through the “oatmeal” easily without leaving the Sheetrock very wet behind it.  You can use paper towels to dry the Sheetrock if it’s really wet, and be sure to spray the popcorn directly.  If you have many drips falling from the ceiling, it’s more than wet enough.  You can honestly use your fingernails to test!  Wear a mask and eye protection, even if you’re asbestos free.  This stuff tastes like glue.

3) Use a file to smooth and curve the edges of your scraper so you don’t gauge the Sheetrock above the popcorn.  This step isn’t necessary, but I’m glad I did!  You could use a smaller (or larger) width scraper, but the 10″ was perfect for our application.

4) Get up on your stool and scrape away!  Hold the scraper at a very low angle – almost parallel with the ceiling.  The more angle, the more gouges you’ll risk.  Push firmly, but if it fights you, add more water.  Water is your friend!  You can also use a paint roller dipped in warm water to apply if you don’t have a pump sprayer. You CAN scrape dry popcorn, but it’s a lot more work.

5) Be sure to keep all the oatmeal on your tarps, but be warned – it will be MESSY and SLIPPERY.  I wore “crocs” type shoes to keep from stepping in it directly, and they’re easy to wash off.  As the wet oatmeal dries, it turns back into a powder, which will get everywhere.  Be sure to double tape your tarp seams.

6) Use a smaller putty knife to get the edges.  If your room has molding, scrape against it.  If not molding exists, scrape close, then use the sandpaper to get the edges.  You may need a gritty sandpaper to get it done.  Remember: water is your friend!

7) Bundle all tarps into themselves, overlapping, to keep major chunks from falling out.  We did a poor job taping the seams, so dust and chunks got everywhere.  On treated hardwood floors, a warm water bucket with citrus cleaner will do a nice job, and a shop-vacuum (wet / dry vac) gets the dust.  It’s a good reason to move the furniture and clean behind!

8) Check for any repairs.  We didn’t have much major repairs, but Spackle easily fills in the holes.  Wait for it to dry, sand it flat and prime/paint over it.  Use the sandpaper to smooth out any missed plaster or adhesive.  Remember your mask and goggles…  Use a damp (not wet) sponge and paper towels to wipe the ceilings smooth. Paint will not adhere to loose drywall dust!

9) Prime and Paint – Apply fresh tarps, no need to tape unless you feel so inclined.  You may need 1/2 coats of primer if you’re painting plain stamped drywall, or if you’re using any other color other than white.  I used the primer that was already applied, and put two heavy coats of ceiling paint on top.  The paint roller pole was a little difficult to get used to, but applying a lot of pressure made the process go quickly.  Wait for the coat to dry completely before “touching up” any areas.  Ceiling paint is usually flat, and wet spots will look a bit awkward until it fully dries.

10) You may want to use a silicone caulk to clean up the edges where the ceiling meets the walls.  In our application, our walls are actually painted-over wallpaper, so the edges were very rough.  They may have applied an adhesive to the edges to keep the wet popcorn from peeling the paper during installation.

11) Throw away all tarps, examine progress for touch-ups, missed spots etc.

12) Clean and replace!  Use the water bucket and mop, as well as a vaccum and dusting rag to give your rooms a really good clean.  If you get plaster on carpet, use it as a reason to rip up all the carpet! 😀  You may have to vaccuum 47 times, wipe the glass 12 times and mop 125 times, but in the end it’s worth it.  The hard part is over now.

13) If you’re replacing fixtures, fans etc, remember to remove the old ones first.  Turn off the electricity at the circuit breaker and flip the wall switch off for extra insurance.  If you’re not comfortable with the wiring, seek professional assistance.  Do not spray this plaster with water, just grab some gritty sandpaper and get it done.  No water should come anywhere near electrics, even with it shut off at the circuit breaker.

And that’s it!  Obviously, tall or angled ceiling would be more difficult but for the cost, it’s a great thing to try yourself.

You’ll notice a LOT more light in each room, now that the millions of tiny shadows are gone, and you’ll insist your ceilings are a foot taller than they used to be.

Total times for 2 rooms and a hallway:

Wet, Scrape, Spackle = 2 Hours
Prime / Paint = 2-3 Hours
Cleanup / Replace = 2 Hours

Good luck and have fun!  Be sure to blast music and invite friends over to help.  It may not be perfect, but our motto became ‘anything’s better than popcorn!” and for us, that’s true.  😀

A Touch of Retro (Paging the 1950’s!)

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Hello, my precious little blog! I’ve missed this place. I’ve also missed having, you know…a life.

I’m always really inspired in the summertime, when I’ve got vacations on the brain and plenty of time to myself to get creative!

In the interest of beating the wintertime blues (as NJ has spontaneously morphed into an offshoot of Antarctica), I want to talk retro, I want to talk kitchens, and I want to talk 1950′s design elements. *cue Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things”*

They say style is cyclical. “They” are right! It seems that every number of years, things come back into vogue again. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel I am seeing this constantly with the 1950′s! ESPECIALLY when it comes to kitchens, so much of what is popular right now harkens back to this time period. I super-love the decor/design of the 50′s…from fashion to home design. I also have to say that while I did not set out or plan to add some 1950′s elements to my kitchen during the remodel, it definitely ended up that way.

Let’s go back in time a bit. I’m going to show you some ads and photos of 50′s kitchens so we have a baseline to work with:

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Ahhh yes, the 50′s “kitchenbitch”. A true classic. What I find intriguing is the crisp, white look. This kitchen would not look out-of-place in a kitchen today!

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I can’t tell you enough how much I adore this kitchen. the 50′s saw the rise of metal cabinets in fun colors, such as this Tiffany blue. The fridge just brings it all together. Look on the right and you’ll see the awesome stainless steel wall ovens…which are highly desirable right now.

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Another “white cabinet” kitchen….this time with tea/green formica counters and an island *very trendy back then*.

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50′s “Hotpoint” ad featuring their colorful wall oven. My obsession with the color aside, they are coming back in popularity. Notice something else? Check out the mosaic wall design. Flip the pattern horizontally and you have today’s tile backsplash. I always fly into an unnecessary rage when people buy an old kitchen with an awesome old wall oven and then RIP IT OUT. WHY?!

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1950′s “pepto pink”. A true classic. Also popular in bathrooms and tile. Hey, this was the housewife’s domain, and if she wanted a pink kitchen, she got one!

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This is an old Formica ad. It was the fashionable thing to have. Formica actually grew to NOT be a trend, as it was the go-to material for countertops for 50+ years! Today, most people want natural stone or some form of cement/silestone. What I also think is fun about the ad is that it features the great “retro red” pop of color so popular in this day (carried over from the 40′s).

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Changing gears, this ad focuses on yellow accents (Formica and wall oven) but features wood cabinets with the classic 50′s hinges and hardware. Sweet wallpaper, no? *yikes*

When you really start to examine the photos, you can’t help but see eerie similarities to what is trending today! Every decade has its moment in the proverbial sun and its own particular nostalgia. However, something about the 50′s seem a little more lasting (and somehow still relevant).

Fast forward to 2014: A kitchen remodel is the most expensive (and sought after) home renovation. The trouble is that they’re so costly! To completely rebuilt a basic kitchen will easily cost you $30,000. A remodel on the higher end usually tops $50,000. I’ve discussed kitchens a few times before.This entry is more for those who don’t WANT to spend a small fortune, but if you’ve got a big budget, you can work with this information, too!

If you want something other than beige granite, stainless steel appliances, travertine backsplash, and darker wood cabinets…consider bringing one or more 50′s elements into your kitchen! You can do it in a big way or do it in a more subtle fashion. I personally feel it’s the most fun with color added, but hey…your call.

Whether you bought an older home and are working with what you have, or want your newer kitchen to travel back in time, here are some awesome renovated kitchens with elements borrowed from the 50′s:

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The above kitchen is the stuff of my vintage fantasies! I love the painted cabinets, the hardware, the apron sink, and the removed cabinets on top to make room for open shelving that houses fun, colorful accents. The white subway tile backsplash keeps it simple but fits perfectly, and the white appliances are a perfect choice here. How much fun is that orange Kitchenaid?! These people get an A+++ from me! They took an older kitchen and redid it in a way that stays true to the era but *belongs* today, too.

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Now, you may notice that the “before” photo is the “everykitchen” that is sought after today. It’s tasteful, it’s pretty, but it’s also rather anonymous. I love these people for their excellent and MUCH more fun “re-vamp”! They added shiny new stainless appliances (which are somehow a perfect modern-retro marriage), painted the cabinets white, chanegd the hardware to stainless steel, and (my favorite change), chalk-and-distress painted their pantry door. GENIUS! Perfect vintage touch! What is striking is how different the granite looks after the re-do…it’s the same counter-top, but the white, bright remodel changes its look.

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Talk about preservation! These homeowners did a gorgeous job preserving the style and integrity of their 50′s kitchen while still creating something stylish and relevant. They kept and painted their original hardware and exposed hinges. They painted the original wood cabinets off-white. They kept their still-working wall ovens and old gas cooktop. The scallop details that frame the window are pretty and unique. The best thing they did was paint their old counters to an awesome matte black that “fits” perfectly. A re-vamp like this costs nearly nothing!

I want to feature the kitchen of a friend of mine (hi Kristen!), because she is a perfect example of the amazing transformation that countertop-painting can bring about!

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I’m 100% being honest when I say I don’t think I have ever seen such a huge transformation for so little money. You may wonder what this has to do with “retro”? The elements are there in a subtle way, with the brightened cabinets and brand-new, glossy white appliances (white/glossy was big in the 50′s, as it looked crisp and clean). It looked awesome before she painted the counters, but painting them completed it all. It took time and elbow grease, but her “I may as well try it, anything is better than what I have” attitude paid off! The resulting lovely shade of grey is the perfect complement to her shiny new appliances and grey cabinets. The kitchen has taken on a more “French country” feel. Let this photo stand as a testament to the fact that a kitchen that looks completely different needn’t break the bank. If you have bad, ugly, or old countertops but don’t want to shell out thousands right now for new ones, get your paint on (make sure to seal it afterwards). You can go classic and elegant like Kristen did, or try out a fun pop of color. The best part? If you don’t like it, try another color :-) There are also countertop-refinishing/refacing kits you can buy specifically for this type of project.

Back to more 50′s/vintage inspiration:

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These homeowners painted their old wood cabinets while keeping an original retro stove and backplash. They painted their island and left the green enamel top as-is. Not a fan of that, but hey…it works for them. The biggest problem in this kitchen is THE CLUTTER THAT MAKES MY BRAIN EXPLODE and the yellowed, cream microwave. That should be white, and this kitchen needs a good “organize”, because it’s otherwise charming.

Here’s just an example of how brightening up your kitchen space can take your layout from “wind tunnel” to “fresh, clean, and open”:

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Their goldenrod accessories are a nice pop of color, too!

If you’re not doing an actual reno but want to add in a few fun 50′s elements, consider doing so with accessories! I’ve done some of this in my own kitchen and will add a few more soon.

The Bella company makes cooking/kitchen appliances in excellent colors with a vintage-feel:

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(I am thinking of buying that toaster for my own kitchen. This line is affordable and accessible).

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Another current trend is accessories that feel nostalgic:

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(I am clearly partial to aqua blue. Please excuse my blatant bias!)

Appliances that feel vintage are gaining in popularity:

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Fantastic microwave by Nostalgia Electrics.

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How. Freaking. Genius. It’s literally a breakfast station…coffee, toast, and eggs/meat on the top griddle. All wrapped up in an inexpensive and whimsical package.

If you’ve got VERY deep pockets, you can outfit a kitchen in brand-new appliances that look vintage…by Big Chill:

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(I adore the mint green!)

They’ll set you back $3,000 for the fridge, $4,000+ for the range, $600 for the microwave, $1,700 for the dishwasher, $1,400 for a vent hood, and $3,000 if you choose a wall oven. They are STUNNING, but my goodness…the prices raise my blood-pressure!

If you want affordable nostalgia, GE designed a line called “Artistry” which features a choice of black or white appliances that have a 50′s feel for VERY little money…you can easily get the whole kitchen full of appliances for about $2,000-$2,200, which is great!

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I fully admit that if I was not set on stainless for the look I wanted, I’d have bought these in white, hands-down, no-contest.

Another easy way to add a vintage element is with a colorful and endlessly useful Kitchenaid mixer!

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My hubby bought me this pale pink breast-cancer edition mixer…I named her “Loretta”:

In conclusion, don’t shy away from playing around with 50′s elements in your kitchen, because the results can be inspiring and fabulous! Remember that it doesn’t take a lot of money to DIY a kitchen from something cringeworthy to something you’re proud to show off. I’ve ALWAYS loved the style of the 1950′s…all my life. I did not realize I was going in that direction when we re-did our kitchen, but the end-result clearly shows a lean to vintage/retro. I leave you with a reminder of my kitchen “before and after”, that cost us a measly $2,500:

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Now for our “accidental-50′s-inspired” after:

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Don’t be afraid to play around with style! Do what inspires you and makes you happy, while remembering that there’s always room for 1950′s charm in some element or another. Until next time…

Kitchen Phase 2: Mission Accomplished!

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Our kitchen has come such a long way since we bought our house 6 months ago! It went from looking very 1970’s to sleek, beautiful, and fun. We got our appliances yesterday, so I wanted to show you the way everything looks, because this is the look that will stay for a very long time (until we tackle phase 3, which is knocking down a wall, having an island built, and having a mosaic backsplash put in).

As it stands, even without phase 3, the kitchen is officially fully updated!

Phase 1 involved a large amount of paint and a gargantuan amount of elbow grease, but it was also cheap! Yesterday, appliances went in…and though I can’t call that a “cheap” update, the price we paid for them was outstanding! When you see our kitchen photos from move-in day and from yesterday, you’ll be amazed at the transformation.

I talk often about “good bones” with a house, and I’ve said it numerous times about our kitchen. The layout was workable. There was an eat-in area. The 1995 oak cabinets were solid wood and in good enough shape to keep. They had Granite Transformations put in the counters, and the color was close enough to what we wanted that we decided to keep it. The beadboard on the walls was a plus, just ugly and unpainted. We had a good amount to “work with” and make better. Could we have ripped out the bulkhead, counters, backsplash, floor, beadboard, cabinets, etc? Sure! But I didn’t want to literally sink money into a major renovation. It works wonders for some, but the reality is that we’re both just too cheap and too DIY! 😉

I must say, my favorite “fix” was taking a shiny, oddly-textured early 90’s backsplash and painting it. It was shiny, white, oddly-textured linoleum and some tiles had weird beige bundles of flowers and wheat on them. I had the idea to try bonding primer and paint, and now the once-ugly backsplash matches our beautiful walls. It was a free update because we used the paint we had on hand, and I couldn’t be more pleased. If you don’t want to spend between $500-2000 (depending on your choices) for a new backsplash, consider this easy option.

I’ll walk you through the transformation of our kitchen from the time we first moved in up through today:

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See? Good bones indeed, but in need of updates.

Here’s the result after we got our paint on and rid ourselves of the headache-inducing screaming yellow:

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The walls looked a million times nicer with the blue-grey color, but that beadboard looked even worse. The solution?

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SO. MUCH. BETTER.

Then we decided to paint our oak cabinets white:

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Really brightened things up, didn’t it?!

Onto appliances…our dishwasher and fridge were from ’91 and the dishwasher and microwave from 2000 were both not working well. The fridge was shiny black, chrome, and had cream sides. 1 fridge, 3 colors. It drove me so crazy that we painted the sides with chalkboard paint to liven it up to be something I could live with until we could replace all the appliances at once:

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I highly suggest that update!

As far as appliances go, let me preface it all by reminding you that I’m cheap. My husband is also cheap. I may have caviar taste and like nice things, but I’m cheap! We couldn’t bring ourselves to buy appliances until Black Friday sales began popping up, as that tends to yield the best deals. I know people who spent 4 grand or more on appliances, and the thought made my heart palpitate. I came up with a budget of $2,000 for the fridge, dishwasher, over-range microwave, and gas range. The goal was good, basic appliances. We knew stainless steel was the look we were going for (sleek and industrial). Our original black-and-gray-and-white kitchen idea morphed into something with many pops of teal blue and something a lot more fun… with a punch of personality!

Home Depot had a “Pre-Black Friday” ad out and I saw exactly what I wanted at the price I wanted to pay. Furthermore, we got no-interest for 6 months (I like paying $500 a month with no interest way better than paying in cash all at once), free delivery, free haul-away, and installation for $2,000 and some tax. We went with Frigidaire. I did the best measurements I could and the fridge ended up being slightly too tall for our “built when fridges were smaller” cabinets, so hubby made a few small cuts and the crisis was averted.

Anyway, we’re more than pleased with the look. The fridge is so much bigger than the last one! Luckily for my parents, my dad was in the garage when their older-than-me spare fridge sparked a small electrical fire and died or “took a crap” in the eloquent and elegant words of my dad. Our chalk-board-sided black fridge goes to them as their new spare 🙂

Once more with “before”:

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And now, our current kitchen:

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And of course, the fun and new eat-in-area highlighted in my last entry:

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The best part of it all is that all of these updates combined cost us just $2,500 between lots of paint, elbow grease, salvaging items for free, a Craigslisted marble-top table and chairs, re-purposing current items, and appliances. It really doesn’t even look like the same kitchen. I couldn’t be happier, honestly. “The Anonymous Kitchen” is my pet-peeve (the same one everyone has, with the dark cabinets, tile backsplash, neutral walls, beige granite, and stainless appliances), and we have one that nobody else does thanks to DIY skills, imagination, and a very small amount of money (as kitchens go). “The Anonymous Kitchen” might be gorgeous, but this one looks and feels like us! I’m a “warm” person…so this is the first cool-toned room I’ve ever had or done. I enjoy that the kitchen has so much personality and stands alone from the rest of our home without clashing from the “feel” of it, thanks to the personalized touched and unique items.

::Happy warm-fuzzies::

Until next time…