29 Jan

Fugly Friday

Fugly Lamps

Seen together, these light fixtures are almost NOT Fugly. However, in context, I know we can do much better. The pendant lamp hangs over our dining table, and in combination with the other lights the previous owners had in the space it was really ugly (see photo below of the kitchen end of the room with the old lights). Now, with the simplified scheme we’ve had installed, I can almost live with this. The horizontal lights are in the bathrooms and will eventually be replaced with something more streamlined.

Kit Before 2

More about our kitchen/dining room transformation tomorrow.

22 Jan

Fugly Friday

Some of our home improvement projects are too boring to blog about. You don’t really want to see our backup battery for the sump pump do you? Painting a white ceiling white? Nope.  Light switches moved to make more sense? Not so blog-worthy (or photogenic).

But then other projects are so horrible, they just might be good. So, I’m going to experiment with “Fugly Friday” for a bit.

My first Fugly photo is this one which could be inspiration for a minimalist quilt, yes?

Fugly Deck 1


When we bought our house, the deck was 30 years old and rotting in many spots. We negotiated price so that the sellers wouldn’t try a quick fix and we could use the money to just start over. In the mean time though, the inspector wanted the sellers to paint the deck. They painted it, but they didn’t move the piles of door mats or extra wood. Nor did they remove the bird feeders for painting or bother with the spindles. Matching the existing paint? Didn’t even try! This has got to be the F’ing Ugliest paint job, and maybe deck, ever.

Fugly Deck 2

The good news is that as of last week, this deck has been removed and construction of a new, not at all ugly, deck has begun.

02 Dec


Just a quick little post with a recent house project. Mostly, I’ve been painting white walls and ceilings which doesn’t make for good before-after photos, but does make the house clean and fresh. The living room is looking good, but the change is subtle.

There’s a bit of a door theme going on though. It started with my daughter’s mural room. She wanted a blue door. That happened to be in the same little hallway as the bathroom door, which I painted orange to coordinate with the orange niche where the toilet is. So, of course I had to do something with the master bedroom door in the same area. Now a formerly weird space with four doors is a playful spot in the center of the house.



Our son wanted something fun in his room too. No mural walls for him; he just wanted plain grey with orange accents. But he did request a galaxy on his door. I started with black chalkboard paint that I had out for another project and used leftovers from the girl’s room to create a space fantasy. It was surprisingly easy to create with a natural sponge. Flecks and dots of white for stars really pulled it all together. Since I had used the flat paints I had on hand, I gave the whole thing a coat of polycrylic for protection (except for the back side of the door which is plain black chalkboard — perfect for his sister to leave him notes!).X Door

Most of the other doors in the house have been painted white, but who knows what might happen in the future!

13 Sep

Our House is 50s but the Decor is Totally 80s

When we bought our house we knew that the downstairs bathroom needed to be remodeled sooner rather than later. It’s ugly and the shower is minuscule and the handle doesn’t work well.

But the upstairs bathroom was livable. Sure, it was steeped in 1980s dusty rose and calico print wallpaper, but the shower works and it’s clean. It could wait.

UB before 3

Note the wallpaper in the hallway, and the white trim over the crappy seams on the bathroom wallpaper.


UB before 2

Look at all that dusty rose. I had even remembered the sink and toilet being pink. There’s three mirrors to check my Flock of Seagulls hair, and frilly curtains as inspiration for my Gunne Sax dress.


UB Before 1


I did appreciate that the previous owners had paintings and not prints in most of the house. Even the bathroom. I kind of liked the expressionism of this one in contrast to the rest of the twee decor.



UB before cabinet

But I did not like the grey carpet as shelf liner. It taunted me with all the gross things it could have been absorbing the last 29 years.

I’d resigned myself to using this bathroom as-is for the near future.

But then, in a fit of confidence, Team Deco-Reno decided that it was a relatively small space and if it were just stripped of the wallpaper and painted, it would be heaps better. It would feel like a remodel, but be faster and only cost as much as paint.


UB stripped

And they were right! The only problem was that this room ended up having the WORST wallpapering in the whole house. It about killed my mom and step-dad who where doing all the stripping work before we moved in. It was tedious enough and took took long enough that they didn’t have the chance to paint over the pink cabinets. Note to potential wall paperers: take the time to at least prime your walls before adding paper. Don’t paper over bare drywall. Use wallpaper paste as well, not other glues. But, after all Team Deco-Reno’s hard work, the upstairs bathroom does look a lot better, and as long as they had gone that far, I got to thinking about how to decorate it in our taste (and go ahead and paint out the dusty rose.




Upper Bath inspiration

I actually liked the previous owners’ use of a carpet instead of bathmat and we happened to have a lovely persian one of our own that we hadn’t had a place for in our last two rentals. The carpet and some collectibles inspired a cheery palette.


Pick a door

Ready tosee what my mom and I accomplished this weekend? There’s a funny little hall that the bathroom is off of with four doors and I am tickled by the idea of each one of those doors being a different color. The orange affects the white walls, as does the blue of my daughter’s door, so the space has become an unintentional light sculpture.


UB after 3

I love the orange door. And the persian rug looks pretty classy if you ask me. Lucky me, our existing towels fit right in with the new color scheme.


UB after 2

The three mirrors and ugly light remain for now, but the dusty pink and frilly things are gone! There are color stories starting to happen around the house — inspired by my collections.



UB drawers

I’m pretty sure I bought these Polish pottery door knobs when I was pregnant with my daughter 14 years ago. I know I used them on the kitchen cabinets in the apartment we had when she was a baby. Maybe I had even purchased them earlier. I thought they’d play nicely with the colors in the rug and it’s so nice to finally use them in a relatively permanent way. They say if you choose things you like they will naturally go together, so here’s color inspired by 40s pottery, knobs to match our dishes, a rug from our travels in Europe (and the knobs too), and art by friends and our travels.



UB after 1


I hope my quilt mom Gerrie is OK with me hanging her Aspens in the bathroom — the colors are absolutely perfect and I think it looks fabulous on the orange wall. Also, when one has a little nook it kind of begs for something unexpected like a bold color, yes?


UB after cabinet

And finally, the grey carpet shelf liner is history. Everything has fresh, new, vinyl shelf liner. Bright and wipeable. Ahhh. I am so pleased with this bathroom transformation and excited to not have to live with someone else’s 80s dream.


02 Sep

More DIY

Painting my daughter’s room was a fun and satisfying new-home project. In reality though, the vast majority of home improvement projects are much more mundane. We bought a 1952 cosmetic fixer-upper. As more rooms better reflect my vision for the house, I’ll post before and after pictures.

But for now, know that while this house is structurally sound, just about everything else about it needs attention. And even though we’ve set up house in about 10 places over the last 20 years, this is the first one that has actually brought me to tears. It’s kicking my butt like no home ever has. I think that the difference with this house is that for the first time ever, we own it. Every other place my husband and I have lived in has been a rental, and therefore we’ve just put up with their idiosyncracies knowing we’d be moving on sooner rather than later. This time, if I don’t like something, I can (and should) actually change it to work with our lifestyle. That means that my project list is essentially never-ending. Ah, the joys of home ownership. Most people have already learned this lesson, but it’s new to me.

Closet WIP

Right now I’m sorting out how and where I store things. Part of that is making use of the massive closet in the laundry room. Large as it is though, it didn’t have any permanent shelving. Given it’s location, I decided that it needed deep, sturdy, built-in shelves to store linens and kitchen overflow. I’m crafty, and have watched my parents dive into home DIY for years, so I was pretty confident that with a little guidance, I could construct the shelves rather than buy something pre-made or hire a carpenter. My mom came for two days and together we made use of lots of power tools. Another day of painting on my own, and voilá, a functional closet!

Closet done

It ends up that duvets are incredibly bulky, and not all the things I wanted to store in it actually fit, but this is such a huge improvement. Since building the shelving, we’ve removed a cabinet and extra appliances from the room, so now there’s room to remove wallpaper, paint the room and add in more storage (probably from IKEA). But that’s a project for another time as I’ve shifted my attention to the yard…

28 Aug

She Only Wanted One Thing

When we bought our house (our very first!), we asked the kids what they wanted in their rooms. The girl had only one request. She wanted to paint a scene on the walls. All the walls. And the ceiling. It’s only paint, so why not?!

K Mural drawing

Before the moving truck arrived, she and I spent some time looking at murals on Pinterest, sketching, and refining our sketches. The drawings above are the final concepts for the room.


K mural sketch

When we arrived at our new house, we jumped right into the room transformation. It was going to be much easier without any furniture in the room, and it was by far the most fun of the bajillion projects the house has in store for all of us. Using our sketches as a guide, I drew directly on the walls. By the way, my mom and step-dad, AKA Team Deco-Reno, had previously stripped the room of wallpaper, primed the walls, and painted the trim so the room was mural-ready.


K Mural paint

Next, we went to the hardware store to buy paint. We cleaned the closest one out of flat interior base in quart size and had to get the rest of our colors at another store! I would have liked to get tester pots, but those only came in satin finish. Oh well, we have more projects up our sleeves for the leftover paint.


K Mural WIP

The girl helped paint for the first two days. Then, she got bored and handed the more tedious work to me. That’s OK, I went faster on my own and could better control the quality. She was an awesome cheerleader though — frequently telling me how much she loved the mural.


K Mural dunes

The first finished wall was the desert.


K mural w K

Now the desert is partially covered by cubby storage. We made a trip to IKEA to get closet storage, a book case (with an eye on still being able to view as much mural as possible), and a rug.


K Mural forest

There’s a whole lot going on in the room now, with everything moved in, but it works for her, and I think the mural actually grounds her stuff in an odd way.


K mural pond

The mural took six days to paint and on the seventh day we ripped up the carpet a hour before the moving truck arrived. It was so worth it as the floor, while scuffed and worn, is in essentially good shape and looks so much better than the tired carpet that was there before. We hung just a few favorite things on the wall, to include the girl’s oil pastel of our beloved cat, Madison.



K Mural mountain

The closet is “behind” the waterfall, because waterfalls should always have secret chambers behind them. The finishing touches in the room were to paint the faceplates to match the mural and to change the closet doorknobs to pretty blue glass ones.


Mural ceilingFinally, painting four walls wasn’t quite enough. The girl’s concept included a “swirly night sky” on the ceiling. We tried a graphic solution like the clouds, but in the end preferred a more Van Gogh-esque style.

Just for fun, the photo below is how the room looked when we first viewed the house and made our offer to buy it.

K Mural before