play kitchen revamp

This project post is long overdue, but I didn’t want to scrap it because it is kind of close to my heart. Over the summer (see, overdue!!) I revamped the old play kitchen I had when I was a kid, for Hannah. I LOVED it before, and I love it even more, now.


My parents bought this unfinished, and painted/stenciled it with big ol’ strawberries. Its pretty darn cute. I loved this thing as a kid and I’m so happy they saved it. It was moved around a lot and pretty dirty/banged up (oh only close to 30 years later) so it needed a little bit of love.


I used up some leftover paint to update it (including spray-painting the knobs and faucet silver).


Fun, right? I even painted the back. The cute red appliances and dishes were Hannah’s birthday gift from my friend. I love them!


On the side, I stuck some Command hooks I had, to hang some utensils. Unfortunately, Hannah thought it was more fun to rip the hooks off so perhaps I will put them back on when she’s older.


This is one of Hannah’s favorite things, for filling up cups of water to bring to me and her dad, and for squirreling away all the random items she pilfers from around the house (she’s a little magpie that way!). It was a ton of fun to update it, and I have plans to do a few more things to go with it when we have a playroom in the basement.


finished basement

It’s been a while since my last post, but it’s been chaotic around these parts. Our basement is finished! And our new tenants (/my brother-in-law’s family) has moved in. I managed to get a few pictures really quickly before they moved their stuff in, but getting it cleaned up was down to the wire! PS: husband did 99% of the work here. I am not trying to take disproportional credit.. He framed it, drywalled, did the plumbing, electrical, tiling, flooring, heat ducts… he’s that talented. I helped with the design decisions and a few little things here and there (namely keeping myself and a curious toddler out of the way). And we had two bedrooms carpeted professionally. Otherwise, it was pretty much all him!

Here’s a quick tour:

The entrance is through the walkout under the deck. Since snapping the photo Jonathan installed a light fixture. I still need to paint the door casing tan, but I did paint the door a fun eggplant purple last weekend. Also that shade garden is finally starting to fill in a little. I need to divide the hostas.. another thing to add to the summer to-do list.

Walkout basement door

When you come in the door, you walk in to the family room area. The French doors went into a room that used to look like this. It will eventually be our office/craft room. Right now it’s being used as a master bedroom. We installed Traffic Master wood laminate flooring in Hickory throughout this space and I think it looks great. It’s supposed to hold up well to kids and dogs so this will be a great test. The walls are a light grey (Behr Swiss Cream). The door you see to the left is our storage room. It’s completely crammed full of stuff, currently..

family room looking west

Looking from the other direction. The wall straight ahead will soon be a kitchenette area. It will be so nice when they’ve got a kitchen down there to use. We bought some used cabinets to refurbish. I will maybe do a separate post on that later. I have some fun ideas. But the cabinets are in the garage and totally filthy.. I haven’t worked up the nerve to begin cleaning them. Perhaps tomorrow…

family room looking east

Below is the little landing at the bottom of the stairs from the living area. The bathroom is to the left, the bedrooms straight ahead, and the staircase is to the right (to give you an idea of the layout). The bathroom is super cute! Jonathan built the cabinet, tiled the shower and flooring, and built a nice little nook for storage/laundry hampers. The flooring is tile that looks like wood and I LOVE it. The paint color is Behr Aqua Smoke (leftover from our bedroom re-paint last fall).

landing-hallwaybathroom vanity

bathroom built in shelving bathroom shower

The family living with us has three kids. The girls are sharing a room and the boy gets his own. They are roomy and have nice big closets. The carpeting is the same as our upper floor. (Phenix Lakefront in Iced Branches).

Left bedroomleft bedroom closet  right bedroom  right bedroom closet

Eventually we will be spreading out into this space ourselves and it seems hard to believe we will have so much room! It was a DIY job, so very budget-conscious, and adds a lot of value to the house. I am really pleased with how it turned out!

practically free friday #20 – sprucing up chairs with spray paint

Remember a few weeks ago I shared my Instagram shot of my inherited paint collection? My friend who’s moving overseas wasn’t going to be able to ship it there and donated it all to little ol’ me. I had a pretty good stash to begin with, so now it’s just ridiculous.


The very same day we picked up that cabinet o’ paint, I had picked up another thrift-gift from a family friend– this cute captain’s chair that had once belonged in the dining room of an inn in the little town I grew up in.

It needed a little love, and they thought I’d appreciate the project. And um YEAH, so excited. I have a really strange obsession with chairs. I collect them, paint them, and set them all over the house. It’s a sickness.

I really liked the little red chair just how it was, but it did’t fit with anything else in my house, so I raided the paint stash for a different bold shade. After a bit of sanding and some coats of primer I settled on Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Satin Aubergine. Eggplant-colored chair in the office – lovely!

And my chair affair didn’t end there. (ha!) I re-re-painted two cane chairs of my grandmother’s (first redo here.) The light green was nice, but I was having fun with dramatic colors. I went with one in Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Satin Lagoon..

and one in Rustoleum Painter’s Touch in Apple Green..

Unfortunately, the upgrade of the three cute chairs wasn’t completely free – I did have to buy one can of the eggplant-colored spray paint (the one on hand didn’t cover it). But the lot of chairs makes me pretty darn happy to look at scattered around the house so it was certainly worth the $4 or so to make them pretty accent pieces.

PS: I was hoping to find something about the origin of the captain’s chair, a photo of a similar one in the inn, perhaps? After some Googling, I was only able to find this awesome circa 1950 postcard of “The Friendly Ranch Inn” in Elko, NV. Isn’t it charming?

Maybe I should start a vintage postcard collection, too..

practically free friday #18 – organize with berry containers

This is a pretty silly project – basically a fast organization upgrade achieved while the pasta was boiling for dinner last night. I saw this photo on Pinterest a while back.

I think I was looking for things to do with berry containers because I always throw so many in the recycle bin! This is a really obvious way to use them, but I really like the look of clear bins so I guess that’s why the idea was in the back of my head.

I decided to organize a couple drawers in my yellow desk, finally. Here’s the before:

Nothing too horrifying, but could use some sprucing. I used some of the shelf liner from another desk project and corralled items into berry containers with the lids cut off. They make the perfect shallow trays, and allow me to see the pretty shelf paper.

Both lower drawers look nice and tidy now.

Hope everyone has a happy weekend!

redecorating the guest room

When we moved into our house last April, the guest room was the first room I painted. Kind of ass-backwards to paint the least-needed room, but it was the only one I’d decided on a paint color for, so I got to work on it one night after work. After that I put in our extra bed and some random furniture, but the room has served as basically a catch-all for random stuff ever since. Like: the closet is full of my out-of season clothing and currently unused decor items {I like to rotate things}. Around the holidays, the room served as a place to stash gifts. This spring/summer it was my sorting space for items I was going to put into the clothing/home decor stuff swap I did earlier this month {and forgot to blog about – doh!}

Anyway. This is how the room was looking this morning, with some remnants of the swap still lingering, and a random piece of driftwood on the bed..(?).. just go with it.

Here’s the other side of the room. That dresser belonged to my grandparents. I painted it and use it to store my mailing supplies, gift wrap, greeting cards and stationary {basically a mail-it/gift-it station}.

I keep the door to this room closed because it’s nothing to show off for sure.. it’s almost always in a chaos state, or at least in a really blah state like it was this morning. Time to finally make some tweaks and get a homey room together.

Did I mention I didn’t want to spend a dime?

I’m so bad about progress photo taking, so here’s the guest room after sprucing. HUGE improvement, if I do say so myself.

It’s a small room, obviously, with a closet on the wall opposite the window, so there are really only two ways to arrange the room. The bed under the window is such an upgrade. Since I’ve not gotten around to making another headboard, I thought the window would frame the bed better than a big blank wall did.

I added some more layers of pillows, and blankets at the foot of the bed. The ruffly pillow is actually a chair cushion that was once on a dining chair. They were just too poofy. But way too cute to not use somewhere.

Moving the dresser to the other side of the bed balanced the room a bit and gave me a cute nook to prettify. I just brought in random things from around the house {and the decor stash in the closet}: a couple frames, a framed butterfly print that was in the master bathroom, a leopard print headscarf, a little paper mache box, and a silk flower. Totally random.

On the far left wall, near the closet, I brought in a chair I bought and repainted a few years back, and folded and stacked some random blankets on it.

Nothing super fancy, but it’s functional and adds something to that side of the room. I love a few pieces of black furniture sitting around.

Still on the to-do list for the room {because there’s always more, is there not?}:

  • Get a bold/graphic bed skirt, or make one. {Not loving the white-on-white}.
  • Hang curtains.
  • Hang some art.
  • Organize the closet. {Seriously, it’s crazy in there.}

But for now, it’s hugely improved and for an hour of work and $0 I am really happy with it! Gotta love a project you an finish before you’ve finished your morning coffee.

Yard Update

Yard progress is sooo much slower than house progress, so it’s been a while since I have posted anything. Not that we haven’t had lots of mini victories – we have – but that kind of blogging takes some serious time and effort. Time and effort that could be better spent actually doing the work! So, I apologize that this is a magic-of-television style post, but we suddenly have a shed and garden!

But before the unveiling, here’s a before pic for reference. This was our yard one year and four days ago:

Our back yard was sporting a dog-potty area while the rest was dirt, getting prepped to seed. Jonathan and his brothers put in a concrete pad for the shed in the corner {the junky dog kennel was in the yard when we moved in and we sold it online for a few bucks}.

And here’s that same little recessed area today:

I know, right?

Jonathan built the shed himself with a little help from his brothers and a neighbor. I love it – it’s just adorable. The blue really pops in our beige neighborhood {in a very good way}.

We fenced it in because Miss Paisley just cannot stay out of things. That’s a story for another day when we may consider ourselves puppy-proofing experts but right now we are still learning as we go.

We built the raised beds this winter. They are nothing fancy but they are perfect.In the picture above you can also see my really sad composting attempt {the green bin to the left of the shed}. I really need a better system. I’m basically creating a bin of smelly garbage. The little box in front of the shed is an old ammo box I got at a junk yard, and I planted some herbs in it. The yellow pot has a cherry tomato.

In the beds:

  • three varieties of heirloom tomatoes
  • red and green bell peppers
  • jalapenos
  • yellow onions
  • dragon tongue beans
  • calypso beans
  • peas
  • Napa cabbage
  • bok choy
  • carrots

We installed little garden bed sprinklers and I planted a couple weekends ago. Everything’s already making crazy progress!

This is one happy herbivore right now.:)

Because it’s fun, I want to list of all the things we’ve done in the yard in the 14 months we’ve been here:

  • Finished the fence and installed gates on either side of the house
  • Put gravel in the RV pad area {was weeds}
  • Dug out the grass, leveled
  • Installed sprinklers
  • Seeded the lawn
  • Put in flower beds along the front {planted many bushes and flowers and trees in them}
  • Planted FIFTEEN trees {seriously!? 15?}
  • Built a shed
  • Built raised garden beds
  • Started seeds indoors {which yielded about a 20% success rate..}
  • Put in a vegetable garden
  • Fenced in the vegetable garden and laid down pea gravel
  • Installed an outdoor ceiling fan on the covered deck
  • Got solar LED garden lighting for front flower beds

There’s more to do:

  • Dig out a walk-out patio under the deck
  • Extend the size of the deck, and paint it
  • Build a compost bin from pallets
  • Put a flower garden on other back corner {across from the shed}
  • Organize the shed and garage
  • Get some paving stones for the garden
  • Put an arbor around the garden gate
  • Install a path from the deck stairs to the back gate
  • Build a fire pit area
  • Plant grass in the part strip {or maybe wild flowers if I can get husband on board!}
  • … I am sure this list will keep evolving

I’ll have to post on my seed-starting experience because it’s totally funny. It was a complete experiment and failure {because it wasn’t puppy-proofed more than anything}. More yard posts to come – our front yard is really coming together nicely, too. YAY summer! What are you all working on?


practically free friday #7 – makeover a light fixture with spray paint

Ahh, nothing like checking something off the gigantic to-do list. Getting started is 99.987% of the battle sometimes.

So we had this dining room light fixture I didn’t love. Just a cheap builder-grade brushed nickel thingie that wasn’t offensive enough to scrap when I have better things to save up for. This is the best photo I have of it before – oops. (This photo was a year and three months ago – we didn’t own the house yet. So fun, seeing the changes.)

Anyway, it wasn’t so horrible, but once all our stuff was in the house, the light silver color didn’t have the weight to balance the left side of the room. Maybe you can’t tell from this photo, where a gigantic leather love seat is weighing down the left of this view, but to me, the light fixture really just disappeared. (This photo is from a year ago- I’m such a half-assed blogger!)

So, I used my new favorite product evah, Rustoleum Universal spray paint in Oil Rubbed Bronze, to give this fixture some heft. I can’t say enough about this spray paint! It’s blackish bronze with shiny flecks that made the surface look perfectly covered. I think it was about $7 at Home Depot, and I didn’t use the entire can.

It looks not only brand new, but more upscale and custom, in my opinion. Plus, it nicely offsets the dark cabinets and counters on the right side of the room. Love it! Can’t wait to use this paint on a few more things around the house.

I’d completely planned to have a wider shot for this post, but that would require a bit of straightening up and we are headed to the mountains for the weekend in about 10 minutes!

So – I hope you all have a fabulous weekend!

Peace, love, shiny flecks. -K

practically free friday #3 – diy cutoff shorts

Jean shorts might be my all time favorite clothing item. I live in them in the summer, when I’m not at the office. So for this week’s project I decided to upcycle some jeans I never wear (in fact they were in the giveaway box) into some cute shorts for summer. Woop!

First I tried on the jeans to make sure they fit from the thighs up. I remembered the reason they were in the donate pile was they were too short. Perfect.

*Warning: lots of bad iPhone/weird angle photos in this post. I am getting so lazy.

Fold them flat, then chop them off to a conservative length:

They *will* get shorter as you distress them so start out on the longish side!

Then make little cuts and start ripping them horizontally until you get the desired look and length. I also used a seam ripper to distress them randomly.

Keep trying them on til you get it right. This might mean you are crafting it up in your undies for 30 minutes or so. It’s cool. Just go with it.

Bam! Fun cutoffs you will wear every day (if you’re me). Keep in mind, these will just keep looking better and better as you wash them and they get frayed up. i have another pair I did 5 years ago and they feel like tissue paper and look perfect.

practically free friday #2 – bedskirt redo

I’m a fabric dye convert. Best stuff ever. This project was so easy, I can’t believe I didn’t do it a long time ago.

Here’s the before shot of our bed:

Nothing really wrong with it – in fact against the teal walls, I like nearly everything I throw in our bedroom! It’s sooo versatile, who knew? But with the duvet, bed skirt, and headboard pretty much the same color, it was kinda sorta blah. That bed skirt was a cheapo placeholder til I found one I really liked.

Enter RIT dye. I already had 10 or so packets in my craft closet, but if you went to buy it they are about $3 each. I used 1/2 packet of royal blue and 1 packet of violet to get this funky new bed skirt:

Every photo makes it look purple, but it’s really a bright periwinkle color. Totally unique! It brings out the periwinkle color in the quilt at the foot of the bed.

In case you are nervous, let me assure you that fabric dying is super easy and worth a try. Just follow the directions on the package – if you have a top loading washing machine it’s fast and convenient and mess-free.

Cost to me: $0.


I actually completed this 10-minute project nearly two months ago and forgot to blog about it til now. This is a SUPER easy way to temporarily make over a piece of furniture. This was my cute little desk pre-Chevron. I didn’t mind it as-is, but the poor thing kept getting scratched up from moving those file boxes in and out, or sliding a textbook across it. It was making me sad. I was planning to get a sheet of glass to protect the surface, but that ended up being a rather spendy solution.

So, I found some incredibly pretty, not-your-momma’s contact paper at Joann’s (40% off coupon, of course, making it all of $12.00). The brand is called Domestic Bliss Decor, but I can’t find a website for them. Just check Micheal’s and JoAnn’s. There were a few really stressful moments trying to match up the pattern on something that would stick to the surface or itself constantly. I now know this would be infinitely easier with a helper. Still, it only took a few minutes.

Fun, huh? The vertigo-inducing pattern probably defies eleven rules of fung-shui or OSHA standards or something, but I love it. I want to color in every white space with different colors of Sharpies one day because I’m insane like that.

And it’s 100% removable. I have lots left over, which I plan to use in the drawers of my made-over yellow desk, perhaps.