Simple Mantel Make-Over

We recently repainted our living room and gave it a completely new look. Although I love the character of our home, that much oak can be a bit overwhelming at times, especially with its orangish tone. I would have no problem if the wood was stained a deeper colour, but unfortunately it is all that lighter orange colour. I used to dream of stripping the wood and re-staining it a nice deep brown, but over the years I have come to realize that idea is nothing short of crazy. We have too much wood and the job would be way too big, especially when you consider all of the work on the coffered ceilings alone! So I have given up on that idea ūüôĀ

However, ¬†when we were redoing the living room, I really felt the fireplace needed a lift! I tossed around the idea of painting it out white, but Tim didn’t like the idea and I wasn’t completely sold on ruining the original brick either. It is super low maintenance and not horrible. In the end, I convinced him to let me sand and stain the mantel. It wasn’t a big job (although we did have some difficulty getting the stain to take at first) and I thought the pay off was huge. The darker stain just made the fireplace look more unified and matched the dark brick much better than the original stain. I had also planned to remove the mirror from above, but surprisingly, it didn’t seem to bug me as much with the new stained mantel.

I must admit that I did put a bit more effort into “staging” the mantel as well. To do this, I actually did some research and came across some really good information. Among the best is the information I found on Kylie M. Interiors. She goes through a 4 step process and it really helped me to create a look that I finally feel I can live with. Here is a quick summary of her suggestions.

  1. Find the center of your mantel and choose a “key” piece to anchor your design
  2. Decide on a colour palette and be sure to consider incorporating different surface finishes and textures
  3. Choose to set up your mantel symmetrically (exactly the same on both sides) or balanced (use different items but create a balanced look at both ends by making sure they have the same “visual weight”)
  4. Create decorative triangles by setting up your items in such a way that “triangles” are created by using varying heights of objects.
Staged Mantel

I tried to create a balanced look using visual triangles made with groups of accessories I already had around the house.

Clearly, I am no designer, but Kylie really does a great job of explaining the steps to setting up a mantel and also provides some great links. By the time you read through her post and check out the various examples, you will be well on your way to creating a great look. When I started mine, I wasn’t really sure what I would end up with on the mantel, but in the end, I found everything I needed right here at home. It was just a matter a finding pieces I already had and then setting them up to create a look I was happy with. The only piece that was new was the metal “R”. I had picked that up several months ago on a clearance sale for $2 (regular $14 I think). I couldn’t resist it, even though I had no idea where I was going to put it. So it too was something I already had at home and I actually like the contrast of the white against the brick. Now that I know the look I am going for, it will be much easier to keep my eyes open and find the perfect pieces to really create the look I want. I think that I might like a larger “key” piece and may even incorporate a few smaller framed pictures, for a layered look. Overall I am pleased with how this turned out and have a better understanding of what I may need to purchase in the future. I am especially thrilled with the darker stain ~ a simple fix and yet seemed to make a huge difference (at least to me!)

Laundry Room Project: Part 1

Quick share! I am excited beyond words…the first major steps in converting my old scrapbooking room into our new main floor laundry room are done – plumbing, electrical, patching, priming and paint. I don’t even have my appliances in yet and I am bursting with excitement. The room looks amazing with a fresh new paint job and just the thought of having MAIN FLOOR LAUNDRY has me giddy. Maybe if I get really courageous, I might actually share what my current laundry room in our cave of a basement looks like. I’ll feel like Cinderella going to the ball when I step into my new laundry room!

This room was in desperate need of an update. The original colours made the room look dark and drab. The fresh paint brightens the room and makes it look so much bigger! Can’t wait to pull it all together and get this room functional. I am absolutely in love with this colour ~ Sherwin Williams: Tidewater (I actually get Benjamin Moore to do a colour match for me because I love their paint so much.)

Huge shout out to my husband who can do all things handy! He is amazing and even took holidays to help pull off some of the many projects on our list. We hired someone to drill the dryer vent hole, but other than that he has done all the plumbing and electrical – he rocks and I feel so blessed to have him!

Check out these BEFORE and AFTERS!

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Bedroom Makeover: Part 2 ~ Upcycled Desk and Chair

The desk and chair in Shay’s room have been in our home for years. If I remember correctly, I think the set was a freebie from a friend (or maybe a really cheap second-hand purchase). ¬†Over the years, I’m sure that the top has been painted at least 4 times. It’s an easy job and the plain black base allows it fit with almost any decor. It is a perfect kid’s room desk and despite its age, has really stood the test of time.

hockey theme room

BEFORE: ¬†Desk, chair and hockey shelf from Shay’s old hockey themed room.

upcycled desk and chair

AFTER: A new paint job and some updated fabric will help coordinate these old items into Shay’s new bedroom design.

 

Shay actually loved the style of the top, but wanted me to redo it so that the colours were consistent with his new decor. Basically, all I did was give the urethane on top a light sand so the paint would stick, prime it and then play with some paint to get the desired look. I did add a bit of glaze to the paint because I already had it on hand. The glaze is great for mixing colours together and slows the dry time slightly so that you can “play” with the paint a bit more. ¬†Once the painting was done, I added three coats of urethane to seal it and make it more durable.

Since I was already in the midst of painting, I also decided to give the hockey stick shelf a bit of a new look, by painting the shelves black. I really like the black as opposed to the original red even though I’m not yet sure that the shelf will remain in Shay’s new room. Either way, I thought that fresh paint in a more neutral colour would make it more marketable on Kijiji when we post all of his other Jets/hockey room accessories.hockey stick shelf

Of course, the previously reupholstered blue chair would no longer work. I have upcycled a few of these old style folding chairs, so giving this a new look was probably no more than a half hour job. You simply remove the screws. lay new fabric overtop (or remove the old first) and use a staple gun to secure it in place. I had left over fabric from previous projects, so the fabric cost me nothing.

upcycled chair

 

Spare Room Make-Over: The Reveal

The room is done… at least for now! I am so excited about this space. I think it might be my favourite room in the house. It is so “clean” and bright, and the best part …. it’s all mine! I love how the afternoon sun saturates the entire room with natural light. It is roomy, clutter free and oh so pretty!

Although this was nothing more than a spare room make-over, it ended up being quite a big project. Before I could even start, we had to dismantle the old piano that I had hoped to one day upcycle. (I discovered that the amount of work involved was not worth the blood, sweat and tears it would take to transform it.) From there, we proceeded to empty the room and prep the walls for paint. We primed and painted the walls and gave the trim a fresh coat of paint. The most time consuming aspects of the project actually involved the major purge of my clothes and scrapbooking supplies. This accounted for at least 25 hours of sorting and organizing. It was a huge undertaking, but felt amazing when I finally accomplished my goal.

It seemed there were oodles of mini projects required in order to achieve the desired finished look. In addition to painting the walls and trim, we spray painted¬†my embellishment organizer, cut, stained and mounted the shelves, changed the door swing, reupholster the office chair, and painted and upholstered the bench top. The final touches included hanging the pictures and a new mirror and building and painting a bead board garbage container. We intend to install a barn door that will be used to close off the new main floor laundry (once we’ve moved it up from the basement). With future plans to add a sliding door, we also deemed it necessary to remove the old light switch (for the old scrapbooking room/new laundry room) from outside the room to inside the room. If we hadn’t done this, the switch would end up being covered by the sliding door. After an endless list of little projects, I think the room looks great!

To truly appreciate the transformation, I thought you might need a reminder of how the old room looked in its prior life as “family dumping ground”.

 

Here are a few shots of how my old scrapbooking room looked. Everything was miss matched, the space was cramped and it was always a mess because the storage was inadequate.

“Turn The Page” ~ Eden’s Room Make-Over

I was so looking forward to the summer and couldn’t wait to finally have the time and energy to put up some regular posts. Baseball season is over, school has been finished for 3 weeks and yet, this is only the second time I’ve sat down at the computer to post. Why is that you might ask? Well, so far, we have been super busy! We did 2 weeks of swimming lessons at the outdoor pool in our neighborhood which was fabulous, but meant at we were tied up from 8:45 am until about 12:30 everyday. Aside from that, I have been busy planning out our 2015 Road Trip to Southern California. This is a huge undertaking and has consumed every spare moment. Between swimming lessons and vacation planning, Eden and I have been plugging away at re-designing her bedroom. I must say this is exciting and sad all at the same time. I chose the colour scheme for her room when I was pregnant with her (14 years ago). Since then, we have lived in 3 places and although the layout changed and the room evolved, the palette remained the same. Eden turned 13 about 6 months ago and is more than ready for a new look that is more “grown-up”. ¬†After lots of planning and discussion, it was time to “turn the page”.

Eden's Nursery

Fabric Swatches

These are the fabric swatches from the original nursery design. So lovely!

This is a terrible picture, but the only one I have of Eden’s nursery. It was a real “labour of love”. Most fo the accessories were white, with aqua and apple green accents. I had found a whole whack of colour coordinated fabrics that I absolutely loved and went to town. You can tell how dated it all is with the homemade bumper pads (that are no longer deemed safe) and a photo so old it’s not in digital format and had to be scanned! This room was a huge project because aside from painting the walls, I had made pretty much everything from the fabric I had found ~ roman blinds, the sheers and canopy, the bumper pads and quilt, as well as a re-upholstered chair and the cushion for the rocking chair. Fortunately, when we moved (when Eden was 4), the blinds, sheers and chair still worked in her new room. We decided to go with the same colour scheme, but update the look by adding a hand painted mural. When we moved again only 2 years later, Eden was not yet ready to give up her mural and thus I did it all over again in our current home. This was Eden’s room just a few weeks ago, but it is now taking on a whole new look. Stay tuned as we begin to reveal the total room make-over. I know this will be a process and it won’t be completely finished for months, but were finally getting close!

Little Change, Big Impact

There is a mud room located off the back of our kitchen. I love the concept of a mud room, but hate this space…it’s totally useless! Although the room is probably about 8 X 12, there are two stair cases (one down to the mud room/one down to the basement), the garage door, the back door and a large window. The space is such that despite all the room, there really is no place to store shoes and coats because every wall is broken up. The stairs are built is such a way that more than 4 feet of the 12 is lost and the remaining space is about 8 feet square. I have big plans for this space, but it is currently way down the list. It is one of the few spaces in our home that we’ve never touched. I simply decided that it would stay as is until we could do it right. I can’t wait for the day I can call these photos “BEFORE” shots, but for now, this is what I’m living with. You can see that it would be difficult to add any kind of a closet or wardrobe because currently both doors swing into the room. It simply isn’t functional.

Despite our brutal winter, my husband and I realized that we had not closed the back door between the kitchen and mud room even once throughout the winter. We used to close it often as the mud room only has a baseboard heater and it’s often cold, but a few years ago we had an efficiency test done on our house and were told that it would be best to leave the door open at all times for the heat to circulate through. Sure enough, it is better with the door left open. However, this big cumbersome door, when left open, blocks all of the sunlight pouring in the huge kitchen window. I don’t know why, but until recently it never even occurred to us to remove it. ¬†This weekend, my husband removed the door from the hinges and carried it down to the basement. I was absolutely blown away by the difference. The room feels so much brighter and more open and the door is no longer in the way.

Sometimes, the simplest of details make the biggest impact. Of course, we now have to remove the hinges and metal stripping, fill holes and paint the frame, but the over all look seems to be dramatically different. Of course, now we have great sight lines to the mud room that I hate, but perhaps the mud room make-over has now moved up a few notches on the “to do list”.

I don’t have great before pictures because I really didn’t expect it to make such a big difference. My husband is great, but somehow I can’t see him bringing the heavy door back up and putting it back on the hinges for a before shot. The first two photos give you a bit of an ¬†idea of the issues we had with the door.

 

 

If something in your space is bothering you, step back and see if a small change might make a big difference. Perhaps it’s as simple as moving a piece of furniture, replacing small picture frames with something oversized, painting or changing the swing of a door. When we did our bathroom make-over a few years ago, one of the things we did was change the swing of the door. It used to swing open to sit in front of the built-in cupboards. It drove me crazy to have to close the door every time I needed something from the cabinet. Although we did a whole renovation, this alone made a huge difference to the look and functionality of the room.

A Look Back: Before and After Slideshow

This is my 248th post. At the end of June/beginning of July, I played around a bit a managed to get a couple of posts up on my blog, but after July long weekend I buckled down and was committed to blogging daily. Since then, I have only missed one day and that was because I was brutally sick with Strep Throat. I must admit that some days are easier than others, but I am hoping that the sunshine, warmer weather (by that I mean less cold) and longer days will get me motivated and back into DIY project mode. The winter has been very long and my motivation level for doing projects has failed in comparison to my desire to curl up on the couch with a warm blanket. Anyways, I thought I would help to get myself motivated by taking a look back at some of my favourite transformation projects and share the before and after shots.  I have done entire posts on most of these projects, so you can check the archives if you want more information on what I did. Enjoy the show and hopefully this will motivate you to get out some paint and give something a new look!

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