A Painted House

Archive for the ‘Wherein I Need Travis’ Help’ Category

Is it possible to have a crush on a room in your house?  ‘Cause I think I do.  I’m all googly-eyed over one particular space in our house.

Who wouldn’t be in love with this room?

I kid.

That’s the listing picture of our front sitting room, dubbed the Reading Room.  As you can see, it was probably ignored used for a lot of sitting by the previous owners.  Here’s what it looked like from right after we moved in until just a couple of weeks ago, complete with books piled in the corner.  Nine months of book piles.  Awesome.

And it wasn’t just the one side, we’re equal opportunity book pilers.

The day we walked through this house I told Travis that I’d like built-in book shelves in this room.  I could see them in my head and they were fantastic.  Almost exactly one year later, I had this:

Piles of melamine shelving in the dining room, free standing cabinets in the middle of the floor, new light fixtures strewn about, holes in the ceiling….ahh, bliss.  Oh, you don’t think that’s what I had in mind?  Yeah, me neither.  But  my extremely handy husband was dilligent and patient and accommodating and after living with ^ that ^ for a couple of weeks things began to come together.

But only because he had a lot of very important help.  It’s essential when undertaking a large construction project, to have someone close by who can hand you essential items like your green plastic ruler.

It’s especially helpful if your assistant comes with his own power tools and snazzy training pants.

And next thing you know, you have this:

BAM.  Mama is happy.  And just a little bit smitten with her very own Reading Room.

(We’ve since added hardware to the doors and drawers but I’m too lazy to take the pictures over again.  Plus the sun hasn’t been out once since the day I took these.  Humph.)

I spent two days shopping the house, digging through boxes of long-packed items, finding things I’d love to display, and re-arranging it until I liked what I saw.   It was ridiculously fun.

Some befores and afters?  I think so.

Sigh.  Love.

One of the things I love most about this house is the huge kitchen that just begs for big family and friend gatherings.   When we moved I just plopped our old table and chairs in the eat-in kitchen and hoped that someday I’d be able to get a bigger table to better suit the space.  Here’s a shot of shortly after we moved in:

I really wanted a round table, specifically one that seats six while still a circle – not four as a circle and six if you add a leaf and make it an oval.  We plan on having at least four children (I say that now, when we only have two) and my little mental picture includes all of us sitting around a round table at dinner and talking.  Or if our current pattern holds true, “talking” will consist of all of us sitting around a round table and Travis and I taking turns telling four faces to JUST PUT THE BITE IN YOUR MOUTH ALREADY.


I looked all over online and any round table that was big enough to accommodate six chairs was waaay out of my price range and then chairs would be an additional expense.  I planned to save my pennies for a couple of years before I could afford a new set.

Enter my best friend, Craigslist.

I responded to countless ads looking for a table the right size and even posted a wanted ad.  Nothing.  Then one week before Edison was due I came across an ad for a round table that was just big enough for our room, for only $60.  My fingers went flyin’ to my email.  So on the Tuesday before Edison was due on Thursday, my long-suffering husband trucked me and our toddler out to the edge of town and loaded up a solid wood table into the back of our van.  It juuuuuust fit.  And at 99.9995% pregnant,  I was no help.  He loves me.  (Side note: the lady wouldn’t budge on her $60 pricetag, even for a hugely pregnant chick.  Bummer, that belly on my short frame was usually good for at least 10$ off.)

So we brought her home, stuck her in the kitchen, and then I had a baby.  Well not that same night, she’s no Magic Labor Inducing Table (can you imagine the postage I’d spend sending this thing around the country to labor-desperate friends everywhere if she was?), but a few days later.  There she sat covered with a tablecloth for about two months until I felt the project itch again.

Here she is, before I got my hands on her:

The table top was pretty scratched-up medium tone wood and the bottom had been previously painted cream.  It looks pretty good in that photo but up close it was really dinged and dirty.

It’s a drop-leaf table; check out those fold-out support wings.  Eeesh.  Fly baby, fly.

The first thing we did was cut those suckers off.  Travis then cut and attached new streamlined support pieces that disappear under the tabletop.  Then we toted it out to the garage (Our neighbors must think we’re crazy.  Every couple of weeks we’re out in the front yard manhandling various pieces of furniture into or out of our house.  In the dead of winter.  I think there’s a good possibility we’re this neighborhood’s Janice and Ernie.).

Since my plan for our kitchen is to eventually decorate in black, white, and green, decided to go ahead and paint the table to match the plan in my head.  I applied one coat of adhesive primer and then killed off a large portion of my family’s brain cells spray painted the top in black semi-gloss, to match the kitchen hutch.   Did you know that if you spray paint something large and then leave your garage door open just a pinch the smell will spread through your whole house?  Awesome.  If the contact with the paint fumes has hurt James’ grasp of the English language we certainly haven’t noticed.  Anywhoo.  I brush painted the bottom with two coats of white semi-gloss.  The top received four coats of polyurithane and so far it’s cleaned up and held up beautifully.


The new “wings”….much better!

Once the table was finished I began the hunt for chairs.  Again, I didn’t want to spend a lot per chair since I’d need to buy six.  I came across these darling schoolhouse chairs on Amazon and a quick Google search found them for only $43 a piece!  Sold.  It was a website I’d not heard of before but for that price I was willing to risk it.   They arrived less than a week later, with free shipping no less.

And then they arrived and I gave myself carpal tunnel putting those silly things together with a million tiny screws and one of those teeny hexagon screwdrivers.  Quarter-turn, quarter-turn, quarter-turn.

One final comparison Before and After:

A custom table and six chairs for just $300!

 Note:  This is a repost from my former blog, for the sake of archiving all home-related projects.  Original publish date:  August 20, 2010.

Remember waaaay back three months ago when we moved in, the very first decor-related thing we did was to redecorate the laundry room out of necessity?   No?  See:  this post.  And remember how I’ve been promising you ever since that I’d show you pictures when it was done?  The thing holding up this post is apparently impossible to find: a yard of fabric that incorporates all three colors in my new laundry room.  One.single.yard.  But it seems I’ve chosen a color combination that which is growing in popularity these days, has not yet reached the fabric designers of the world.  So then I went to scrapbook paper as an alternative…..only to strike out there, too.

So I give up, I’m calling it done.  Should said fabric or decorative paper ever appear on a retail shelf or online, I’ll come back and show you were I want to use it.  In the mean time, the laundry room:

Here’s where we started. Builder’s grade honey-colored cabinets, wire shelf, empty spot where the new washer and dryer would live….

DSC_0029 (2) DSC_0031 (2)

….empty white corner where the tallest, largest cabinet known to mankind was sitting and white wall behind it where they didn’t paint.  I wish I’d remembered to take a picture before we took out the huge cabinet so you could see how imposing this thing was.  Oh, and four different tries at matching the beige walls with the paint left in the basement.  Awesome.

DSC_0030 (2)   

P.S.  It’s hard to take good pictures in a teeny room with no windows. I stood in the garage for most of these shots.  Anyway.

Here’s where we ended up:



First I painted the walls Sherwin Williams’ Optimistic Yellow and the cabinets SW’s Passive grey.  Travis built me a new shelf that ran the whole length of the room.  Next I asked Travis to build me in a shelf unit on the right side, where the cabinet used to be.  The final touch was crown moulding on the top, all painted to look like one custom piece:

DSC_0058 (2) DSC_0085

I wasn’t happy with the grey color at first, as it read blue-ish to me next to the yellow.  Makes sense, as blue and yellow are complimentary colors, but it was not the look I was going for.  I figured out that the problem was the old cabinet nobs, which were brushed nickel.  Up next to that steely color, my cabinets were reading blue.  I found these guys with their cute grey detail at Menards for $2.50 each, and problem solved!


I accessorized it with black and white items and photos.  The white basket on the ledge has clothes pins it and the black box contains dryer sheets.  The wall shelves have a white birdhouse left over from a floral arrangement I received when James was born, a B&W photo of Travis and I at the beach, and a glass jar of sand from my 21st birthday on the Jersey Shore. 


On the little bit of floor space between the washer and the wall, I keep two trash cans.  One for dryer lint and used fabric softener sheets and the other to hold items to be washed with the next load.  I didn’t see the sense in carting dirty socks and kitchen towels up to the second floor laundry baskets when they’d just have to come back down again. 


The coat rack was hanging on the opposite wall  next to the garage when we moved in.  However I didn’t like hanging purses and coats there because it often obstructed the garage door opening and took up valuable space in a small room.  So I moved it to the opposite wall for hanging damp items that won’t be immediately washed: swimsuits, dish rags, clothes that have recently been puked on and rinsed out (oh wait, that’s probably just our house).

There you have it, our new laundry room!   I like that it has its own sassy little personality instead of just being a pass-through on the way to the garage.  Guess it probably helps that laundry is my favorite chore!

Note:  This is a repost from my former blog, for the sake of archiving all home-related projects.  Original publish date:  August 25, 2010.

James’ room was the first bedroom in the new house to get a makeover, mostly because it’s the only room in which I knew exactly what I wanted to do.  It, like six other rooms in our house, was painted blue.

This is James’ room in the listing.  I love how we’ve taken a break from the pale perriwinkle color in every other bedroom to substitue in a SHOCKING NEON alternative.  In a shiny paint, no less.  This room was formerly occupied by a little girl.

Bedroom 3 (1)

And here it is now:

James' Room 8.24 (4)

(Yes, I fully see the irony that the one bedroom we’ve redone, we painted….blue.)

Bedroom 3 (2)  James' Room 8.24 (12)

Some of you may remember James’ wall of squares in the old house.  I really loved the look and decided to recreate it in this house.  But I wanted to take it up a notch and conceived this ridiculous idea to add crown moulding all around the room and then frame out each square in white cove moulding to give it an architectural element.

James' Room 8.24 (3)

My husband just shook his head and started calculating dimensions.  Love that man.

James' Room 8.24 (9)   James' Room 8.24 (10)

That project was what took so long to finish this room.  Planning, buying, cutting, installing, caulking, painting…..it was a lot of work.  But I LOVE how it turned out, the colors and contrast with the white just pops off of the wall.  We also added a beadboard ceiling fan which you can’t see in the photos.

I painted this sad little bench, which was all of $.25 at a garage sale last summer.  Travis thought I was absolutely nuts for bringing it home.  But it’s darling as a side table for his rocking chair (see above photo) and holds his favorite bedtime books in easy reach.  For a quarter!

Garage Sale Finds

I still need to add some wall art, but for the most part, my big boy’s room is finished!

Note:  This is a repost from my former blog, for the sake of archiving all home-related projects.  Original publish date:  September 13, 2010.

The play room is done!  And I L-O-V-E it. 

It’s a good thing my husband loves me because all three rooms we’ve tackled in this house have involved power tools, patience, and many, many steps to complete.  None of which I’m particularly skilled at all by myself.  Equally impressive is that I tend to “design” a room concept all in my head, in its entirety, before he even knows that it’s our next project.  So while I see what I want the room to look like in my head before we start, right down to the details, he only has my descriptions and littany of requests to work from.  And so far all three have ended up looking exactly like my mental picture thanks to his careful questioning and patiently waiting for me to just.make.up.my.mind about stuff.  Anyway, it’s finished and I want to just sit in there and stare at it because it makes me so happy.  It’s a good thing I get about 15 requests per day to, “Mama to play in the playroom with James?  OK!” 

So here’s a reminder of where we started:

Play Room 6.14 (4)

After a bit of organization:

Play Room 6.14 (6)

And what it really looked like on any given day:

Play Room 7.14 (1)

* Shiver *

Once we found out we were having a second boy, and thus won’t be needing to accommodate little girl toys anytime soon, I decided to go all-out boy in this room. The idea for the color scheme started with this:

Play Room 9.10 (15) (2)

That’s one of James’ blocks.  The little dots are actually purple, though I had intended to go with grey instead.  And then while searching for baby bedding online I came across this fabric from Target:

Product Image DwellStudio® for Target® Space Crib Set

The PLAY artwork was made by cutting the crib sheet into four rectangles and then stretching it over foam board, found in the kids artwork section of Wal-Mart for $2.59 per sheet.  I cut each sheet in half and hot glued the two pieces together to make a thicker surface.

Play Room 9.10 (7) (2)

Play Room 9.10 (20) (2)

 I bought the oversized letters at Hobby Lobby for $1.17 each and painted them with brown craft paint left over from some other project.  Travis cut the same white moulding as the chalkboard to make custom frames for them and then attached them to the wall with his nail gun.

Play Room 9.10 (14) (2)

The next step was to put up chair railing as the divider between the two colors, and finally Travis put up crown moulding to finish off the ceilings.  This is what took most of the time, as I had to paint the moulding, wait for him to have time to cut and install it, caulk all the nail holes, and touch up the paint.  But it looks awesome.

I recycled the white curtians that used to hang in our orange bedroom by re-threading them with new ribbon in the blue, green, and brown:

DSC_0239   Play Room 9.10 (18) (2) Play Room 9.10 (13) (2)

The little matching toy box I bought at a garage sale for $3.  I removed the ball decals on the front, patched the holes, and gave the outside a fresh coat of paint.  The top took several coats of green to cover up that wierd playing field/score board thingy.  I cut extra fabric from the crib sheet to size and replaced the red plastic “netting”.  How it’s a storage space for balls, stuffed animals, and other ungainly toys that have the audacity not to fit into the new storage unit.


 Play Room 9.10 (9) (2)

This storage unit, which makes me so happy it’s ridiculous. 

Play Room 9.10 (1) (2)

The unit itself was on sale at Menards for $30 and the baskets were at Target for around $6 each.  I love that there are designated baskets for Cars and Trucks, Play Food, Instruments and Noise Makers, and Trains.  Sure beats our previous system of Rubbermaid totes overflowing with a mishmash of toys.

My final purchase for the play room was a table and chairs.  I wanted a place where James and his friends can sit for snacks, to color, or to do puzzles.  I also had a very small budget.  I looked all over for a cute, affordable set and everything was stinkin’ expensive or the wrong shape or came with cartoon characters all over it.  I’m not into cartoon characters.  Then a friend and I took a road trip to IKEA.  They had an all-white wooden child’s table and chairs set that would have run me $63……and they also had white end tables for $7.99 and green plastic stools for $6.99.

Play Room 9.10 (16) (2)

I give you my (washable!) $29 table and chairs set.  That right there was worth the trip.

And thus, the play room is finished.  It looks exactly like the finished product I saw in my head and I wouldn’t change a thing about it.

Play Room 9.10 (2) (2)   

It makes me happy to be in there.

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