As a teacher, you go through a ridiculous amount of pens and pencils as the months go by. Yes, teachers need to do everything we can to make sure our students succeed, even if that means lending out our favorite writing utensils when students lose track of theirs. You think you’re being nice, and then poof! You’ll never see that pen again.
This year, I decided to take matters into my own hands by making fun little toppers for my favorite pens! Plus, the whole little setup doubles as desk decor.
Here’s what you’ll need:
One faux succulent for each pen
One julep tin the height of the pens
First, cut the tubing off the stem of the faux succulents so you just have the wire and the flower. Next, wrap the wire around the top one-to-two inches of the pen. Then, use the pretty tape to hold the wire in place. Finally, arrange the pens in the julep tin and find the perfect spot on your desk to set it.
No more guessing if that pen that one student has is yours — now you’ll definitely know!
…because we all need a pretty laundry room, right?
I do love seeing all the stunning laundry room revamps on Pinterest, and I wonder what it would be like to have so much money that I have nothing better to spend it on than my laundry room. Good for those people! :) I am not one of them. Maybe someday, with a lot of hard work and thrifty spending, I’ll get there.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I was absolutely fine with the builder-grade, all-white-everywhere, blank dungeon of a laundry room we had. I wanted this space to be not only a little more aesthetically pleasing (so I’d be okay with actually spending time in there and checking my laundering to-dos off my list), but also functional (so I wouldn’t leave angry).
Jason and I moved in to our first home about one year ago. We live in a tract-home neighborhood, and the Colorado housing market was — and still is — thriving, so we ended up spending A LOT more on the base price of our first home than we had ever thought we’d need to spend. This meant that we opted to pass on many of the upgrade options the builder offered us. We wanted to give our home some lived-in character using our own creativity and handiwork anyways.
After spending some time browsing through pins of gorgeous laundry rooms, I decided, “Hey, I can do that myself… maybe when Jason’s at work. Yeah, and it’ll be a surprise when he comes home to a brand new, pretty laundry room!” So that’s (sort-of) how it went.
And now, without further ado, I’ll walk you through how you can turn your empty, bare, builder-grade laundry room into a chic little area where you won’t mind spending some time each week.
Some 2-1/8″ inch screws
A stud finder (if it beeps when you hold it over yourself, then you might also be a stud!) ;)
A yard stick or tape measure
An X-Acto knife
What you’ll need to purchase:
One upper cabinet (I went with a 30″ x 30″ unfinished door wall cabinet from Lowes, but you should definitely check out Craigslist, too!) [$72 for mine, but Lowes makes pre-finished options for around the same price — some even cost less than this, but keep in mind they might also be a little smaller]
One wood dowel — that’s a fancy term for “wood pole” — measured to 1-3/8″ diameter and cut to fit between the cabinet and the wall. These are available at your nearby hardware store. If you’re not comfortable using a saw, make sure you take an accurate measurement and ask someone working at the hardware store to cut it for you. [around $8]
One can of metallic spray paint to coat the dowel (and supports, if they don’t match the rod). I went with brushed gold, but I’ve also seen copper, rose gold, and a good ol’ traditional matte black. [Rust-Oleum Vintage Metallic Spray Paint, Warm Gold — $5.37]
Two cans of spray paint to cover the cabinet. I used Devine Pepper, which is a matte finish spray paint by Valspar, available at Target. [2 x $5.99 = $11.98]
One can of spray sealer to make sure your awesome spray-painted cabinets don’t smudge off on your clothes when you carry them in! I used Matte Krylon Spray Finish from Hobby Lobby. [$7.99]
Two cabinet knobs (Hobby Lobby has a great selection of cute and trendy knobs and pulls!). [Mine were 2 x $4.99 = $9.98]
Devine Color Textured Subway Tile Peel-and-Stick Wallpaper — I only needed one roll for the amount of square footage I needed to cover. One roll covers approximately 27.5 sq. ft., but I’d recommend you use it as sparingly as possible, meaning don’t wallpaper behind where you’re going to hang the cabinet or behind the washer and dryer. [$34.99]
Total Cost of purchased items: $151.89
Using a damp cloth, wipe down the walls where you are going to hang the peel-and-stick wallpaper. If there’s lint or dust on the walls, the wallpaper won’t stick as well. Also, don’t rush to hang it if the walls are still damp; wait for them to completely dry, and then hang the peel-and-stick wallpaper.
Starting at the end of the wall where you are not hanging the cabinet, begin applying the wallpaper. Make sure you are lining up the edges so that each tile ends up being the same size. If you don’t do this, you are going to have some super short tiles and some really long ones. It’s much easier than I’m making it sound, by the way! You’ll use the squeegee to help get rid of air bubbles and push the wallpaper into the wall. There are more instructions for how to use the wallpaper inside the tube when you purchase it, so forgive me for not retyping them here :)
Measure out the area where you plan to hang the cabinets, and then measure two inches in from the perimeter of the cabinet’s edges. Mark those overflow lines on the wall so you know where you can save wallpaper by not having to place it there.
Use the X-Acto knive to make any cuts you’ll need (e.g. along the ceiling line, at the bottom, around piping, along the cabinet overflow lines, etc.)
The Cabinet and Dowel
In a well-ventilated space (i.e. your open garage, driveway, or yard), lay down a canvas or tarp, then place the cabinet on it, with the back side down and cabinets facing the sky. Paint the dowel while you’re at it, too :)
Hold the paint can 6-12″ away and cover the entire unit in spray paint. Note: You do not need to paint the inside, but certainly can be an overachiever and do that if you’d like.
Once the first coat dries, add a second coat. I chose to not spray paint the left side of my cabinet because I knew it was going up against the wall anyways. I did, though, paint the bottom of the cabinet, because I’m 5’2″ and would be sure to notice that part every time I did laundry.
Once the second coat dries, seal with matte finishing spray.
Once that dries, bring the cabinet in to your laundry room for hanging :)
Hanging the Cabinet
Along the wall where the cabinet is to be hung, measure 54″-57″ up from the ground. Draw a faint line. That is where the bottom edge of your cabinet should be, according to standard construction practices.
Grab that stud finder and locate the studs along the back and side walls. Make pencil marks where there are studs that fall within the parameters of where the cabinet will go.
Using 2-1/8″ screws and a drill, screw the cabinet in place. For this part of the process, I ended up having to call my husband in. Because I wasn’t strong enough to hold the cabinet in place myself, Jason placed one of our end tables underneath it, and we lucked out with it ending up being the perfect height to rest the cabinet on while it was drilled to the wall.
Screw in your pretty knobs, making sure they mirror each other in both distance from the bottom of the door panel AND distance in from the door crack in the middle.
Using the screws that came in the packaging for the dowel supports, pick a spot and screw those in to the side of the cabinet. (Hint! Grab a hanger and make sure you are hanging the dowel far enough away from the wall that the hangers have room to hang properly.)
Measure the same distance out from the back wall, and hang the opposing dowel support on the opposing wall at that same distance out from the back wall. Use a level to make sure it isn’t crooked!
If you follow my stories on Instagram (@nest.out.west), you’ve seen the endless supply of paint samples I’ve purchased over the past month.
Jason and I have been trying to find the perfect dusty peach for the loft living room we’re renovating, and now that we’ve nailed it, we are left with nine little paint samples, all in various shades of pink and peach.
The other night, I was feeling a burst of creativity, so without knowing what it was I’d create, I hopped in the car and drove to Hobby Lobby. Blank canvases were on sale for 50% off — DING DING DING! I’ll make canvas art for the master bathroom, I thought. (I’m also painting the master bath right now, and its walls are in dire need of some art to complement the new shade.) I grabbed a set of two 8″ x 16″ canvases ($9.99) and a paint brush ($1.99), and as I waited in the check-out line, scrolled through Pinterest to gather some ideas.
One pin that stood out to me was this geometric wall art piece. I thought to myself, Girl, you got this! I got home, laid the canvases out, grabbed three of the paint samples I had sitting in our garage cabinets, and I made my own version (which I like even better than the one I pinned — shhh!).
Here are the supplies you’ll need:
Paint samples (I used three colors, but you can use however many your heart desires)
A drop cloth to catch the mess if — err, when — you miss the canvas
Masking tape or painter’s tape
Here are the steps:
Place the canvas on the drop cloth. If you’re using two or more, make sure their tops and bottoms are aligned.
Using masking or painter’s tape, create lines that spread across the canvas(es). I used one long piece to cover the gap between the canvases so I could ensure the lines would align once the tape was removed.
If you want to stick with one paint brush, begin with the lightest color and paint inside the lines (I’m taking you back to kindergarten with this one!).
Rinse the paint off the brush, dab it dry, and then move on to the next shade darker, keeping your paint inside the lines.
Repeat step four.
For a metallic touch, I found some remaining gold spray paint I had from a previous DIY project, and I lightly sprayed the middle portion of my canvases. Don’t worry about staying in the lines on this step; it actually lends a really cool effect if you allow it to make an appearance in multiple spaces. You can also mix paint colors on a paper plate to get more out of the samples you’re using!
Allow the spray paint to dry, then choose a few areas to cover in the colored paint. Try not to goop it on — it’ll likely get under the tape and ruin your clean lines if you use too much paint.
Allow canvases to fully dry, then gently remove the tape. Voila! You are an artíst!
Share on Instagram and tag @nest.out.west! I want to see your masterpiece :D
Know someone who’s on a tight budget and in search of a new look for the kitchen or dining area? Not only could this particular set use a nice home, but it also can be easily replicated if you do it yourself.
Like many DIYers, I learn by doing. Therefore, I looked up a tutorial about how to properly reupholster seat cushions, and I found it was easier than writing a blog post! Read on if you’d like to learn the three simple steps.
What you’ll need:
Arrow JT21 5/16″ 8 mm staples
Sandpaper (not rough)
Soap, water, paper towels
Matte black spray paint with built-in enamel/sealer
Fabric of your choice (bring a seat cushion into the store to be sure you’re buying enough fabric for the whole project!)
First, the before photos…
I found this old Ethan Allen dining set on Craigslist for $50, and fell in love with the farmhouse-style legs and apron it had.
The chairs at first glance were incredibly worn and dated (like something I’d expect to see in a ’70s sitcom… or along the side of an alley for that matter). Too harsh? At least I realized they had some potential with those gorgeous spindles and removable chair cushions.
1) Prep the Chairs
The first thing I did was remove the seat cushions from underneath using a screwdriver (each one was held in place with only two screws). Once all the seats were off, I lightly sanded the wood all over the chair to make it nice and smooth after all those years of wear. Then I took a warm, soapy paper tower and wiped all the residue and debris off. Since paint won’t stick where there’s oil (from fingers) or soap, I then ran over the chairs with a few warm, damp, sans-soap paper towels. Let the chairs fully dry before moving to step two.
2) Reupholster the Chairs
Cut your fabric into four equal sections. Make sure that the pattern lays the same way on each seat cushion. Since the seats’ fabric was a solid, neutral color already, I purchased a thick (non-see-through) fabric and simply stapled it on over the existing fabric. Of course, vacuum the original cushions before stapling new fabric over them. There’s a method to stapling fabric onto chairs, though, so pay attention here.
I’ve read that you’re supposed to pull opposite ends taut until there’s no middle area left to staple, but in my experience, that technique led to some ripples in my fabric. Instead, I did the four edges first (top, bottom, left, then right), making sure to pull the fabric taut before stapling, but then I worked my way around to the corners. For each corner, I treated it like I was wrapping a gift (fold, fold, staple) rather than pulling it tight and stapling it until there was no more slack. I also made it difficult on myself by choosing a striped fabric, so I was constantly flipping the seat back over to make sure my lines were still straight.
Once I had repeated this process four times and all the seat cushions were finished, I took the chairs outside and spray painted the bases black. The look I was going for was one I had seen on Fixer Upper (the Nut-House episode)…
…so I painted the chairs black but left the table wood. (Many people opt to paint the legs and apron of the table to match the chairs, but I wanted to be like Jo, I suppose.) Leave the chairs out to dry, then place the seat cushions back on and screw them into place.
3) Clean up the Table
Since the table was already in pretty good shape, all I needed to do to it was sand down the legs a little to take away some of the sticky-looking shine. I wiped over them with a damp paper towel and set them out to dry.
It’s no secret that the median home price in the Denver area has risen quite rapidly these past few years. Moving from Illinois to the Denver suburb of Arvada had my husband Jason and I scrambling to find a home we loved in a price range we were comfortable with. We seemed to only be able to find fixer-upper homes, or tiny little condos for the price at which we always thought we’d purchase our first home. In Illinois, my childhood home sold for a little more than what Jason and I needed to spend here in Colorado if we wanted a detached single-family home with a yard. And let me tell you, that home was twice the square footage of the one we eventually bought — and built.
Once we learned that building new was our best option, we decided to opt for only a couple structural upgrades from the plethora of options the builder offered. We opted to put money upfront into things that would be difficult or super costly to change down the road, such as nine-foot ceilings, kitchen cabinetry, and a gas fireplace. Everything else came builder-grade.
We’re both pretty crafty people, so we knew it would be fun to leave our mark on our home by coming up with our own unique ideas and doing our best to implement them ourselves. I like to think of myself as a thrifty shopper (although the less I can spend on one item, the more items I tend to buy). Jason is incredibly supportive, as he trusts that whatever I buy will make our home feel more and more like “us.”
That being said, when it came to the empty cubby spaces flanking the fireplace…
…we toiled with the thought of installing built-in shelves, buying tall book-cases to push into those nooks, and finally, throwing some floating shelves in there. Option three was the winner, as it was the most cost-effective option (and it was a new learning opportunity! We love those.).
I’ve seen plenty of tutorials where the shelves were built as narrow boxes, with pipes protruding from the wall and into the cavities of these wood boxes. I wanted a different, sleeker, more streamlined look for our space. No thick shelves for me.
Jason measured out the nooks, only to discover that they were not entirely uniform. The drywall seemed to widen marginally at the back of the nooks, and that measurement changed as he moved up the wall. He had to be very calculated when it came to cutting boards that would fill the spaces where they were needed.
Eventually, the proper pieces were cut and stained, and we were ready to begin the fun part — making the shelves appear as though they were floating.
Supplies you will need if you’d like to achieve this same look are:
Six #2 pine boards, 1/2 inch thick, measured to the depth of your shelving nook
12 furring strips, 1/4 inch, measured 1 inch shy of the depth of your pine boards
Hammer and nails
A tape measure
Paint to match the wall color (you’ll paint the furring strips to blend in with the wall)
Step 1: Measure your nooks and cut the boards to fill the space, wall to wall. To determine how much space should go between your shelves, remember the rule of thirds. With interior decorating, aim to use odd numbers to create a sense of imbalance and intrigue. We measured the nooks top to bottom, then divided the space into three relatively even sections. The top cubby was intentionally made a little smaller than the lower two sections. You also want the wood to fall short of the edge of the nook by one-to-two inches.
Step 2: Stain your cut boards (top, front, and bottom) and set them out to dry.
Step 3: Using your stud finder, locate the studs and mark them with a pencil. Then, use your handy hammer, some sturdy nails and your level to hang the furring strips. Check and double-check to make sure they are even and level on both sides, or else your shelves will appear crooked.
Step 4: Paint the furring strips the same color as the walls behind them (no need to paint the top of the strips, as the shelves will be resting on this part).
Step 5: Rest the stained shelves on the dried furring strips.
When Jason and I made the decision to build a new house instead of buying one, we were ecstatic. The housing market in the Denver area was — and still is — booming, and the median home price was rapidly rising. We felt blessed that this opportunity fell into our laps, as well as into our budget. Yet, a little piece of our hearts broke when we realized how little character comes with a brand new, builder grade house.
We were not at all unappreciative of the work that went into building our first home, but to be honest, it’s a tract home. That means there were five-to-seven models to choose from, and we picked one. In no way was this a custom home that we could put together with the builder.
While I was hoping I could see what the model home version of our house looked like, there wasn’t one. Therefore, we had to learn to make due with what was built. The living room felt like a big white box with some wall cubbies and some windows. The original floors were carpeted, so the first thing Jason and I (and a handful of our amazing friends and family members) did was tear out that builder grade carpet and install locking hardwood floors. To save money (and because we have a very energetic puppy), we actually went with a Pergo Max laminate flooring because it is more durable than hardwood and engineered hardwood. This is the only photo of our living room I have from before we installed the hardwood:
…and this was what our living room looked like once the floors were installed:
Let’s briefly go back to before ground was broken. I immediately began scouring Pinterest, Houzz, and HGTV for ideas that would help Jason and me add some warmth and style to our cookie-cutter house.
Mostly inspired by three of my favorite designers (Joanna Gaines, Becki Owens, and Studio McGee), I pieced together a plethora of style ideas to form what is now our living room. I didn’t care if the looks didn’t all come from one design theme; I went with what I liked and figured out how to make it blend together. Some might call our style “transitional,” but I like to call it “Modern Bohemian Farmhouse.” Most of my pins were, after all, Modern, or Bohemian, or Farmhouse style ;)
I love having natural colors and varying the textures in our home. From the faux fur cowhide pillow and wood accents, to the leather pouf and warm mixed-metal accents, I’ve learned that if you love it, you should find a way to make it work.
Here’s a picture of our living room concoction, taken from the same angle as the first picture.
My handy husband Jason built the mantel and installed our floating shelves. He also stained and hung the wood feature on the wall above the fireplace. This isn’t part of the living room, but Jason also built that beautiful cedar and iron dining table.
When I decided to do a gallery wall, I wanted it to be not only symmetrical, but also personal. Jason and I are both photographers, so we wanted the art in the frames to be original works that we shot and edited.
Here are some more shots from other angles:
Jason’s mom was kind enough to offer her superb painting skills a couple weeks after we moved in. She painted our entire great room (living and kitchen/dining)! The paint color on the accent wall is called “Carbonized,” by Sherwin Williams, which is a dark matte grey (basically black). The light grey/hardly off-white paint color on the other walls is called “Basalt Powder,” by Sherwin Williams.
Anyways, now that Christmas is quickly approaching, we’ve decorated a little bit. We are both excited for future projects, and I’m looking forward to sharing our progress as we take our new home from builder grade to beautiful!