I hate painting furniture.

I really do.

I am addicted to before and afters, so I do it, but the process brings me very little joy. This became particularly clear to me recently...

Peter and I have been talking lately about how we want to move the kids from their mattress on the floor into bunk beds. We just hadn't decided which ones to get.

Then this happened.

I was just driving to Trader Joe's, minding my own business, when I saw this pile of bed in front of a local McMansions. A quick survey showed me that it was indeed a dismembered bunk bed which appeared to have all the pieces and assembly hardware. SCORE.

So, I did the natural thing and asked my little sister, to drive over my dad's 1979 Ford pickup truck—"Big Country"—and help me haul it home. I am from Arkansas, after all, and that's what we do there... Being the nice sister that she is, she drove over and helped me load it up and drive it back home. 

I built the bed at home—in my living room, actually— to make sure it had all the pieces and was structurally stable. It needed a couple of bolts and some minor repairs, but nothing major, so we decided to keep it. Controversial as it may be, we also decided to keep the mattresses. I wasn't so sure at first, but we inspected them for any signs of bedbugs, and bought vinyl zippered mattress bags for them which completely encased them. Kind of like a ziploc for your bed. They seem to be quite sanitary now.

We didn't have a chance to paint them for a week or so, and it was really annoying to have them taking up space in my townhouse. That's one of the downsides of finding free furniture. Actually, it's usually the furniture that finds me...

The kid's room is very colorful, with light aqua walls, and primary color accents. I was going to just paint the bed white, but it seemed kind of boring, so I thought it'd be fun to do something unexpected and paint it a bright, happy blue, with hints of teal and peacock. The color was inspired by E's little owl backpack.

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I took the backpack to the paint store, and found a swatch that was similar. I was feeling decisive, so I told them to go ahead and mix a quart. None of that hanging different swatches on the bed for two weeks for me... 

We started painting on Saturday morning. We didn't finish the last coat until after dark that night. It was insane. One coat of blue tinted primer. Two coats of paint.

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Did I mention that each of the four headboard/footboard panels has ten slats? If you do the math, then that means we painted slats 120 times.

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My one consolation was that I didn't have to sand. Thankfully, I found a really great primer that doesn't require sanding—plus the previous black paint on the bunk beds had a matte finish. All things considered, the paint went on very smoothly. I found this awesome little roller and tray kit at Walmart for $2, which was a lifesaver. It made painting so much easier. Isn't it cute?

Painting slats in the morning...

Painting slats in the morning...

Still painting them at night....

Still painting them at night....

Once we finished painting, we let the beds sit outside overnight. We used Benjamin Moore Advance paint, so thankfully the fumes weren't too bad. The next night we moved the beds into the kid's room. This part nearly killed us. Maybe it was because we were all tired and cranky from a weekend of painting, but it took us hours to get that thing up the stairs and rebuilt. Our poor kids didn't get to go to bed until like 11. It was insane. 

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This is where everything else got dumped while we worked on their room...

This is where everything else got dumped while we worked on their room...

And guess what? Once we moved it into the room, it became very obvious that I picked the wrong color. Yep. We'll have to repaint all forty of those slats. Hopefully only two coats this time.

For the time being, we're counting our blessings that the bed fits super well in the new space—even leaving room for the kid's Expedit shelf at the foot. And the best part is that the kids love it, and are even making progress with their frequent night-waking. We have schooled them extensively on bunk bed safety, and haven't had had any incidents yet.

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By the way, the color looks better in the photos than it does in real life... It really is pretty clashy. When we are ready to repaint, we are just going to move the kids out of their room for a couple nights, open the windows, and paint it in place...

So, the moral of this story is this: if you see a set of free bunk beds by the side of the road, just keep on driving. Unless, of course, you are dying for some insanity...

 

 







My thrift score can now be yours

So, I struck gold on my trip to the thrift store on Monday. I picked up a vintage typewriter's cart that would make an awesome side table. It's got a nice patina on the gray finish, which adds to the mid-century industrial vibe. I don't currently need such a table, so I thought I'd pass along my Craigslist post, in case any local readers are interested. I'm listing it for $85, but if you mention my blog in your email, then I'll knock off $15.

Here she is:

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Happy Wednesday!

 

 

Breaking the rules.

Whenever I see pictures of beautiful rooms, I am always challenged by the way good designers are able to pull together unrelated items in a sort of harmonious dissonance. Knowing the rules of design, but, more importantly, knowing how to break them. This is what makes rooms feel friendly and welcoming. I tend to over coordinate things, so I'm challenged to become more comfortable with having things a little more open ended. Here are some rooms that have been inspiring me lately. 

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What stands out to me about these spaces? They feel effortless. The warmth of the wood tones is balanced by white or neutral walls. Plants add vitality. The colors are spontaneous and complementary, not necessarily driving the spaces as themes. Bronze and silver are used side-by-side. Old and new meld together. Black and navy are used as grounding elements. The textures are earthy and natural. These spaces leave room for people to live & breathe. 

My natural tendency is make everything in a room tie together too cleanly. I want to follow the rules to get a clean and coordinated outcome. But this can sometimes make my spaces feel sterile and disrupted when real life happens. One of the things I appreciate about the rooms pictured above is the unassuming feeling of simplicity.

I want to design spaces that welcome people. I want people to feel the love and the peace of Christ by entering my home. I freely admit that it's hard to make spaces that do this while also accommodating the accoutrements of real life with a family— you know, dirty laundry, messy faces, trashcans, noisy toys, old wet diapers, markers and all that. It's unhelpful and unrealistic to think that my house is supposed to look like a magazine all the time, but at the same time, it's inspiring to look for ways to make a more ordered and welcoming home. I guess it's just a matter of balance and what works for each family in any given season of life. 

 

I'm still here...

Hi guys. I admit I've been a bit absent lately. Some weeks I have more time for blogging, and this was not one of them. I am currently in a bit of a project hiatus—except for a free set of bunk beds that I found on the curb of a local McMansion. Aside from the prospect of painting them, I've been pretty content with house stuff lately, and haven't felt too much need to delve into anything...  It's a good thing, too, because we've been busy with other things.

Yesterday, for example, I joined the happy throng of minivan drivers. I am certainly not one who has dreamt of this day, but now that the day has come, I am totally thrilled. And super grateful. We bought the van from our friends who just moved to Japan as missionaries. More on their story here. We will miss them so much, but are so grateful that they gave us first dibs on their ride.

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I'm fully embracing my new identity as a van mom...

I'm fully embracing my new identity as a van mom...

So now after two visits to the DMV—one of them including two small & hungry children—I am happy to say that the van buying saga has come to a close. I have successfully titled and registered the van. I can't stop pushing the button that makes the doors open and close. It's seriously addictive, and I hope I never get used to the novelty of it. I feel like I'm operating a spaceship. 

Don't get me wrong, I am still in love with our Matrix. I could go on and on about how much I Iove that car. But the good news is that Pete gets to drive it now, and that makes me glad. For the past four years he has had to fold up all 77 inches of his musical self into a tiny Corolla with no sound system. He will have a better time now.

Having the van gives me a real sense of relief. I can actually give rides to friends and family without making them lose weight. I can haul furniture home from the thrift store without endangering my life. And it makes me happy to think that we won't have to worry about a looming vehicle decision if some more little rascals happen to come along in the next couple years. You know, just sayin'...

Hope you all have a great weekend!

crochet & stuffed elephants

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I crocheted my first afghan last week. It's just for a baby doll, but still...

I've known how to crochet for awhile—in fact, my friend, Jeff, taught me how to start a chain and do single crochets when I was 11 and he was 14. Not your usual teenage boy skill, right? It took me until a couple years ago to realize that crochet is actually incredibly versatile and easy. My sister-in-law, Phoebe, is a crochet guru—making king-sized throws, and a ton of gorgeous baby blankets— and one day I saw her using this book, The Crochet Stitch Bible.

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It looked really simple and insightful, so I decided to buy it with birthday money. I am so glad I did, because it has taken so much of the confusion out of crochet for me, and really given me a new form of recreation and enjoyment. I'm much happier when I am making (or remaking) things and crochet is a nice craft genre, because, unlike paint and furniture, it is super easy to pick up and put down with very little mess involved. So, if you have ever thought that crochet might be fun, but are intimidated at the thought of it, you should definitely buy this book. (Does that mean I have to do the bloggerly thing and say that I was not paid or perked to write this post?)  

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So, here is my very first blanket. I made it for little E's dolls. She loves it so much and told me how good I am at crocheting. She doesn't notice the uneven or skipped stitches. Little girls are great.

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And sometimes when you are a mom, you take pictures of toy elephants in your room. It's for fun.


peace.

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Good morning. Actually adding good to morning wasn't my first thought when I woke up. Both kids were up in the night. Plus we've had a ton of other pressing issues that need to be dealt with ranging from job stuff and medical insurance to car buying—van buying, in particular. 

It got me thinking about how much we need God in our everyday moments. He is the creator, not just of the visible and material things in our lives, but also of the invisible frameworks that build the structure of our lives. As in family, the idea of home, rest, work, finances, etc... And he is also the one who said this in John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.

So, in the middle of the mess, in the middle of the tiredness, I have a Savior who offers me peace. I recently came upon two articles/posts that were really helpful to me in thinking about parenting and living a purposeful life that shows the worth of Jesus Christ in the midst of the mundane. First is here from Jodi Mockabee at Mockabee7. I ran across her blog awhile back, and have been refreshed by her perspective, and her beautiful pics of everyday life with kids. Second article is from CCEF: "For the Moms Who Are Inside in the Winter." I just love that someone had the frame of mind to write about this. Hope you enjoy, and have a great weekend!


nightstand remix

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These are my new nightstands. Actually, they aren't new at all—I just gave them a little facelift. You remember those new dressers I just got?

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Well, they didn't exactly go with our old IKEA Hemnes nightstands—which I got off of Craigslist a couple years ago. But I really liked these little guys with their shelves, drawers, and skinny legs, so I started scheming a way to transform them on the cheap.

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 I've been seeing so many eye-catching white/wood combos lately, I realized that I could easily get a similar effect by painting the tables white and staining the drawer fronts a nice warm tone.

 The tables are solid pine, so I was able to sand off the drawer's black finish with my trusty palm sander. I LOVE that thing. Then I stained it and poly-d it with some stuff I had on hand.

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I also lightly sanded the top surfaces of the tables with 100 grit paper, and primed with a KILZ oil-based, stain-blocking primer. I am paranoid of bleed-through, so I just went full throttle with the big guns—really smelly big guns. After that I did three coats of white cabinet paint, leftover from the kitchen renovation.

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My glamorous workstation.

My glamorous workstation.

My original plan was to replace the knobs with some brass ring pulls like these, but I was worried that the ring might hang down too far, since the drawers are so shallow. Also, I didn't find any ring pulls at Home Depot and was too impatient to order anything.

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I started looking around online, and found that Anthropologie had some really great options. I settled on these gorgeous brass bar pulls for $6/pop, because I thought they would complement the long, narrowness of the drawers. Thankfully, my local Anthropologie had them in stock, so I left the kids with my mom and dashed out to grab a couple. They are even nicer in person than online... 

 

 

This was definitely one of those projects that produced a grand effect for not a lot of work or expense. It was a very satisfying makeover. Not too shabby for $12 a/pop, huh? 

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And just because I love before and afters SO much, here's a side by side. And look, the nightstand even grew—it must be happier now.

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Here's a final shot with the nightstand back in it's home. Hurray for cheap upgrades! The jury is still out on whether I should paint the walls a more neutral whitish gray. Any thoughts?

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Happenings.

January got the best of me. Winter always inspires me to rethink the organization/function/decor of my home. I started doing the January Cure on Apartment Therapy, but soon realized that it was overzealous. I was with them in spirit, although my Cure consisted primarily of getting rid of junk, shaking out my living room area rug, and making my closets a little less bad. It felt good to get rid of unnecessary stuff, and to create limits on the amount of stuff in any given category. I've definitely found freedom in realizing that it's okay to get rid of things that we don't really use or love, and to be more purposeful about the things we allow into our home, even if they cost a little more in the short term.

With that in mind, I have decided to focus on a couple spaces in our home in the next few months. First of all, the closets. Yep, this is real life, and here they are. I hope to tackle them by summer.

This is our preschool, sewing, tool, craft & broom closet. It looks bad, but the function is even worse...

This is our preschool, sewing, tool, craft & broom closet. It looks bad, but the function is even worse...

And here's the hall coat & vacuum closet. Right now our shoe storage is all over the place, and I want to do something about that...

And here's the hall coat & vacuum closet. Right now our shoe storage is all over the place, and I want to do something about that...

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Next project is our main level powder room. We painted and replaced the hardware as soon as we moved in, but I am ready to invest a little more to make it cohesive with the rest of the house. A new toilet is on the list. The 1983 tank lid was cracked when we moved in, and I picked up a $5 replacement at the ReStore, but it never quite fit right. It bothers me. 

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I'm also doing some tweaks in our bedroom. We painted it a couple years ago, before R was born, and I've been so blessed to have a peaceful spot in the house to rest. I bought black IKEA Hemnes dressers and nightstands off of Craigslist back then, because I didn't find anything I liked better. 

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 Until now...

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I think all the mid-century dresser hunting for my friend's makeover rubbed off on me. I found these babies on Craigslist for $360, delivered. Not a giveaway, for sure, but definitely fair. The next day, I sold both of our IKEA dressers for $300, so I got what I liked for only $60. Not a bad deal, really. I love the smaller profile of the vintage pieces, and the warm wood tones feel so natural and welcoming. I've seen some pretty cool painted dressers here & here, but I wanna live with them before I do anything too crazy. I also moved the upholstered rocker down to the basement, and moved in our little 1950's office chair. Peter found it in his family's old farmhouse years ago—it belonged to one of his great aunts. It's too squeaky for everyday use, but it works perfectly as a place to lay out clothes... 

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I'm strongly considering repainting our room the same light gray as our hallway and living room, in order to neutralize the space a bit, but we'll see. Of course, down the road I would love to install wood flooring in the entire upstairs, but that's not on the table right now 'cause we have to save for a minivan. And no, I'm not pregnant.

Okay, this post has gotten way too long & rambly. Check back soon, because I have a nightstand makeover project to share... 




valentimes.

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Happy Valentine's Day! Today, we are recovering from an overnight trip to the urgent care. A particular two-year-old in our house put a popcorn kernel in his nose and had to be put under to have it removed. It came out, and all is well.

In the meantime, here's an easy recipe for some delicious shortbread ...And some adorable free printables.