Tag Archives: home improvement projects

home style board 02 / the basement.

it was always my plan to make a board like this for all the rooms/areas of our house as we started to do some updates and decorate. it’s funny how when we moved in in august i had a laundry list of things in the house that i didn’t think i’d be able to live with for long…two-prong outlets, the funky room divider between the kitchen and dining area, unfinished hardwood floors. fast forward five months and the divider remains, we still haven’t finished the floors, and we just last week replaced the first set of outlets (without getting shocked! #winning!). and surprisingly, it’s totally okay. i mean, of course they’re still on the list and i’m looking forward to having them done someday, but it’s funny how we unintentionally moved away from all the doing and just started living.

we’re starting to feel more settled and i think are at that phase where we’ve lived in our space long enough to know a few things that we’d like to focus on changing/improving. the basement has been at the top of the list pretty much since day one, but since it’s such a massive undertaking, it’s been constantly moved to the back burner while we tackle other smaller projects. i’m totally the person who in the middle of scraping up our tile floor in the basement decides that they need open shelving in the kitchen right now. so little projects like that have come and gone and now our unfinished basement and our basically brand new sectional purchased for the sole purpose of comfortably binge-watching netflix shows are staring us in the face like, hey, remember us?

clockwise from top center: 1/2/3/4/5/6/7/8

so, even though the original goal was to be done with the basement by thanksgiving, the new goal is to be done by valentine’s day. yes, for the sole purpose of being able to binge-watch the new season of house of cards on said comfy sectional. here’s a basic run down of what needs to happen:

  • finish scraping up old tile (finally done!)
  • find a way to dispose of tile pieces and carpet sections
  • paint floor with floor paint to prep for new floor
  • paint over wood paneling on the walls
  • lay new vinyl flooring
  • move furniture back
  • decorate!
  • buy ourselves an expensive bottle of liquor to celebrate

anyway, although we’re still a few weeks out from the decorating phase, i’m finding lots of inspiration from the photos on this board. the walls will be a white/light grey, but i definitely foresee incorporating a chalkboard somewhere, maybe by the bar area. and although we’ll stick mostly to neutral colors and a minimalist look, i can’t resist a few pops of color. (although it sadly probably won’t come in the form of hot pink bar stools). oh! and lighting. we’re thinking about some kind of pendant light over the bar area, but i’d love to have string lights somewhere, too. i’ve seen lots of simple DIYs for marquee lights, and i think an arrow pointing towards the bar would be an awesome touch. and the kraft paper roll, well, not sure how that fits in, but i’ve always liked that idea…maybe for a drink menu! stay tuned!

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{diy} hairpin leg coffee table.

we’ve been buying a lot of furniture over the past month or so, and a new coffee table for our living room was sort of the last big piece we felt like we needed within the near future. (our old coffee table is currently standing in as a tv stand in the basement). not really happy with any of the options (or prices) we were seeing for coffee tables at various places, i thought about how i’d always wanted to make or have a piece of furniture with hairpin legs. after a quick browse through pinterest, i discovered many iterations of this table and figured it would be pretty simple to make. and i was right! i’m proud to say that this table is being brought to you from kevin and i argument-free and that we remain happily married after assembling it. (the same can’t be said for many, many ikea and target items). so, if you’re in the market for a coffee table (or a number of other kinds of tables – the size and height of this is easily adapted), and have a few hours to spare over a weekend, read on!

materials needed:
-1 piece of wood – size could vary greatly; we got a 3/4″ piece of pre-cut pine from lowe’s that is 24″ x 48″ and we’re very happy with the size; you could also cut a piece this size in half and make two square end tables
-4 1/2″-thick, 16″ tall hairpin legs (we ordered these)
-1 8-oz can of wood stain in your desired color (optional)
-1 8-oz can of polyurethane (if you like the stain of your wood as-is, you could skip the can of stain and go straight to poly)
-foam brush or rags for staining and sealing
-12 screws (you’ll want ones that are about as long as your wood is deep – ours were 3/4″)
-drill, screwdriver
-a well-ventilated area


lay your wood on some cardboard or newspaper to keep your floors clean of stain and poly. following the instructions on the can, apply a thin coat of stain to your wood, making sure to get the sides as well (we just stained the top and sides, and didn’t worry about the “bottom”). allow to dry for recommended time, then apply a second coat if desired. allow that to dry, and then move on to the poly, again following the instructions on the can. if you want to really seal your table and make it more waterproof, apply a few coats of poly over the next few days, allowing each coat to dry for about a day. wait about a day after your last coat of poly to move on to the next steps.

we placed our legs slightly inward of the edges. why? because my dad did that once when he helped us with another table and kevin remembered that and thought it was important so we did it. who really knows. we are the two least handy people on the planet so we aren’t really in the business of not heeding such sage advice.

power tools! my favorite part.

flip it over, dust it off, and voila, a new coffee table!

(sorry for the poor lighting of the final picture – this is what happens when you’re rushing to finish a blog post in the early morning before work and it’s october and the sun doesn’t rise until 7:30)

i estimate that this whole project cost us right around $120 – about $85 for the legs + shipping, and the remainder in supplies and of course, the wood. it could be even cheaper if you skipped the stain and had some screws lying around. regardless, it’s a much more affordable option than lots of other coffee tables out there, and it’s custom-made which is much more personal and special. hoping to do a full living room tour soon! send us photos if you decide to make anything with hairpin legs!

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vintage serving cart makeover.

happy monday! i hope everyone had a lovely easter weekend! we were lucky to have a weekend full of sunshine and good weather…until last night when it snowed. again. will we ever have spring in omaha? le sigh.

anyways, lately we’ve been enjoying the new “flea market flip” show on hgtv, which basically consists of two teams finding old, worn items at a flea market and then competing against each other to repurpose and then resell the items for the most profit. we’ve been casually searching antique and thrift stores over the last couple weeks for our very own flea market flip, and finally came across an old serving cart at an antique shop in the benson neighborhood this past weekend. it was very worn and rusty, but still really sturdy and in good condition overall. for $28 we figured we would take her home and give her a little makeover!

after a little googling, we found that our first step was to see if the cart was real brass or not. we learned that brass is not magnetic, so if you try sticking something magnetic to your item and it doesn’t work, you have real brass. if it does stick, you most likely have something brass-plated, which is what our cart ended up being. in the end, this was better because it’s easier to clean up and we didn’t feel as bad about painting over it. here’s a rundown of what we did from before to after…

yep, it was really that easy. it needed a good cleaning with soap and water, so we did that and let it dry off outside for awhile. then we removed the brass plating so the paint would stick better, using a metal finishing pad (but extra fine grit sandpaper or steel wool are said to work, too). after that, it was ready to be painted. we looked for something a little closer to the brass color, but i actually really like how the copper turned out. it looks a little cleaner while still preserving the integrity and oldness of the piece, i think.

 we decided for now the best place for our new serving cart would be in one of the corners of our bedroom. i think it’s a really versatile piece and could work in a variety of rooms for different purposes, but right now, this is where it works best. i decided to style it pretty simply with our redlands citrus art print, a couple of vintage glasses and a decanter, some flowers, and magazine overflow on the bottom. in the future, i think it would also make a great little table for our record player with storage for albums on the bottom, but this works great and spruces up that little corner for now. a few more photos…

serving cart, thrifted
cocktail glasses, thrifted (similar)
crystal decanter, thrifted
white tray, target
redlands citrus art print, a slice in time via amazon
fabric ampersand, anthropologie

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{diy} bookcase makeover.

we recently bought the book young house love: 243 ways to paint, craft, update & show your home some love by sherry and john petersik (you may have heard of their blog by the same name). although the book includes projects of varying time commitments, cost, and difficulty, most of the ideas in the book are very simple – that is, they’re really adaptable to how much money (if any) you have to spend, how much space you have in your house or apartment, how much you can really alter your house or apartment (i.e. if you’re renting), and how comfortable you are with certain tools, etc. basically, if you have zero money, next to no space, and don’t trust yourself with a toolbox, there’s still plenty of projects in here for you. sometimes i get overwhelmed when i see certain home decor/improvement projects on pinterest or other blogs because they seem SO specific, and i fear that it won’t turn out well unless i follow the instructions exactly, but this book is different. it’s meant to be a springboard for whatever inspires you and whatever you can manage in your own space.

since we live in a relatively small space that we can’t alter too much, i usually gravitate towards projects that involve sprucing up things we already have in ways that i haven’t thought about before. i’ve already bookmarked tons of ideas in the book that fit this description, including the first project in the book: faux wallpaper the back of your bookcase.

we purchased this ikea bookcase awhile back and it’s been decorated many different ways throughout the last couple of years. it’s gone from being filled with just books to being a little more styled and now, since the move, it’s filled up with books again. not that lots o’ books is ever a bad things, but i’ve been ready to do something different with it lately, and i loved the “wallpapering” idea. i’ve seen people paint the open space behind their bookcases before, and i love how it looks, but i hate the idea of not being able to move the bookcase in the future because there will be weird blocks of paint on the wall.

you can pretty much use anything for the faux wallpaper, including fabric, scrapbook or other fancy paper, wrapping paper, or anything else you can think of. i went to target, bought a roll of brown kraft paper for a couple dollars, and decided i wanted to make it look slightly more exciting. i used a potato to create a circle stamp and stamped four squares of paper with white polka dots.

once it dried, i wrapped the paper around four square pieces of cardboard that i cut from a box we found in the recycling (it was super clean). (you’ll want to make sure that your paper/fabric is slightly bigger than whatever you are wrapping it around, so that you can secure it). i just used tape to secure the paper to the cardboard, but if you’re using fabric, you may want to try glue. then, i just popped each square into the squares in the bookcase. they went in pretty well, but one of them i had to insert from behind because it was a little too large to fit in from the front. here’s how it turned out:

we moved most of the books into another area and kept just a few on this bookcase, because i wanted it to have a simpler look and feature some other items as well, like my vintage typewriter, the piggy bank my bff ruth gave me for my sweet 16, and our memory jar from last year.

i also made the little tray that you see below with a cheap frame from hobby lobby, two drawer pulls from home depot, and fabric to put below the glass. i love little trays like this, but they’re always so pricey, so this is a great way to make your own! (here’s the how-to)

can’t wait to share more little projects as we complete them! have you made any simple updates in your homes lately?

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diy zinc letters.

i’ve always really loved the zinc letters from anthropologie, but i couldn’t really get my mind around forking over $18 a piece for them. after seeing how they used the letters in this month’s better homes and gardens (above), i figured there must be a way to make them myself.

sure enough, there were all sorts of different tutorials, ranging from easy to even easier. i followed the tutorial here if you’re interested, but the main idea is to get chipboard letters in whatever you want to spell out, paint them in black acrylic paint, let them dry, then paint over them (very lightly) in silver metallic acrylic paint. ta-da! that’s it. mine definitely aren’t perfect, and i imagine some super high-quality paints would have yielded a better product, but i was going for cheap and fast.

i think they turned out pretty good for something that took about 15 minutes of hands-on time, plus the cost to make all three was basically the price to buy one letter at anthro, and i still have leftover paint!
{and in case you’re wondering, the recipe on the chalkboard looks a lot fancier than it really is. it’s from bon appetit, we made it last night, it was delicious, and you can find it here}

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