Light and Bright!

For the past few months or so Ive been struggling with all of the super dark trim in my house and have been searching for ways to brighten up our living space without resorting to painting everything white. I think a lot of this stems from the fact that Im home all day staring at it, but I digress.

Ive made pretty significant progress since our impulse sofa purchase at Home Goods back in January; Ive removed all of the area rugs downstairs, added solid, classic white accessories in each room and simplified my storage. Im still itching for more white though. My reasoning behind switching is mostly due to the fact that the wood trim is pretty inconsistent–the mudroom, bedrooms and bathrooms all have white trim while the rest of the house has varying hues of dark, and my back hallway where my big and beautiful stairwell resides gets zero sunlight and feels like a dungeon. To be perfectly honest, the only thing really holding me back from going white is my wood built-ins that separate my dining and living room. They’re in such perfect condition and in such a beautiful shade of wood that I just can’t bring myself to cover it—I just wish the rest of the house matched it. Thankfully, my small changes here and there are letting me embrace it a little more.

With all of that said, it dawned on me one day last week that I should be trying to resolve this issue in the one room I spend most of my time in. The kitchen. So I searched for DIY’s on Pinterest for refinishing wood cabinets and then texted Jason at work to see what he thought of it. He joked to add it to my “laundry list” (har har) but then admitted he was totally on board with it. He agreed that if we were going to wait a couple of years before replacing our old blue countertops, then we might as well make the kitchen look better by working around it. YEAH!

See how dark everything is? The wood really is beautiful and Im sure my feelings would be different if the room was able to soak in more sunlight and if the counters were a lighter color, but the color scheme just doesn’t work for me. I know the shades are drawn in the lower photo, but honestly, even if they were up it wouldn’t really make much of a difference. Replacing the floors isn’t an option right now either, because our Master bedroom floors are on the top of that list.

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So I mustered up a whole year’s worth of courage, saved that DIY Pin {here} (because lets be honest, Ive painted a ton of rooms but I don’t know the first thing about refinishing cabinets), took a ride to good ol’ Lowes and loaded up a cart with everything we needed to make this project happen. Jason kept telling me to make sure it was something I really wanted to do because once we dropped the $120 and had paint mixed there was no turning back.

I have to admit, I knew the task would be extremely daunting, but I completely underestimated the overall scale of the project. Leave it to me to overlook the custom carved detailing on every single cabinet and drawer opening until I bust out the primer and paint brush. Ha! Kitchen-1, Amy-Zip.

Day one consisted of cleaning my kitchen(because I mentally cannot start anything in a mess), removing 32 knobs and pulls, 50 hinges, approximately 480 screws, 28 doors and 8 drawers. Woof. Why does custom cabinetry have so much hardware?! I don’t think Ive ever been more thankful to own a power drill.

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Each bag is the temporary home to all of the hardware for each cabinet door. The bags are labeled to correspond with the labeled cabinets so that when it comes time to reinstall the doors, I don’t lose whats left of my sanity trying to match everything up. We also bought all new magnetic closures to replace the existing ones—finally!—because there isn’t anything much worse than cooking up a huge meal in a kitchen to turn your head and smack it into a door that just decides to open because the magnet is old and tired.

I then grabbed some rubber gloves and went to town deglossing all of the fronts. I was able to prime the first seven upper cabinets, which doesn’t seem like a lot for the start of a big project, but looking back, the prep actually took the longest. And honestly, babies only nap for so long. My inlaws were gracious enough to come the next couple of days to hang with Q so that I could get the bulk of the kitchen done, like priming and painting EVERYTHING. My father in law even deglossed all of my cabinet doors for me out in the garage while I was working inside. So thankful!

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Its weird exposing the insides of your cabinets for the world to see…its like my kitchen is standing there in its undies! Ha! Pardon my messy baking cabinet there to the right of the microwave. You just can’t be organized in all aspects of life.

Fast forward a week later and Im almost done applying the final coat of paint to my cabinet doors. Ive been working on them in batches because 1) there.are.so.many and 2) my garage can only hold so many work spaces.

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Im sure I could have gotten this done in a few days if I wasn’t juggling a baby with a jetpack attached to her and millions of other things that require my daily attention, but thats life. I could also be painting at night when Q goes to bed but Im usually completely wiped out at the end of the day, mostly because painting for hours on end in 90 degree heat in a garage is just downright exhausting. Im convinced that the weight Im suddenly losing is attributed to the fact that Im sweating it all off. Well, that and Id rather not hang with the giant mosquitos. Its like they’re on steroids this year!

Im hoping that life cooperates with me enough to get this project done by the end of the week so that I can focus on Quinns birthday party prep all next week. Yep, I said it. BIRTHDAY party.

First birthday party. What. The. Eff.

For now, Im off to slave some more in my hot garage and batten down the hatches for the huge storm we’re getting later on today (possible tornado! Yikes!). My husband has a big project of his own at work this week which allows him to be home during the day with us and I couldn’t be thankful to have longer paint sessions so I can bust this out and get it done. But Im happy to say that 9 doors are completely finished and are ready to be hung! The light is finally shining through the end of the tunnel!

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Box of Memories

One of the things that Ive been wanting to do for a while is something special with all of the ‘memorabilia’ from the hospital. Traditionally, things like your hospital bracelet and the baby’s footprints get stored away in a baby book of some sort, but Im not so much a fan of that because I feel like you should be reminded of how hard you worked to get your babe here and honestly, those first few precious days, although sometimes painful, hard and miserable, are really the best.

I researched a few different ways to display such things, and a shadow box turned out to be my favorite option. I got the idea when I was shopping around RH Baby & Child (no surprise there…if I could set up camp and live in their showroom, I totally would) but wasn’t sure I wanted to drop $120 on something that I could find somewhere else for a lot less. I could see spending extra moolah on special things like a crib, yes, but essentially a box not so much and because I know my way around craft stores like AC Moore and Michaels in my sleep, I knew that that would most likely be the best place to pick one up. Sure enough, not only did Michaels have some really pretty ones, but they were 40% off!

Unfortunately, there was some kind of disconnect in communication at the hospital and on our last day we were never given the original footprints that were taken in the recovery room after she was born. Luckily, as a gift we were given the Silverleaf Handprint & Footprint frame from PB Kids (here) and it came with an ink kit to print your own, so I did it when we got home from the hospital and just photocopied the original that I made for the shadowbox. I was thankful for that kit, and the huge stack of heavy duty ecru sheets that came with it because finger and foot printing a newborn is probably the most tedious task Ive ever taken on. I don’t know how those nurses do it every day! Now before you go ahead and notice on your own, Im just going to go ahead and let you know that Quinn was born with ginormous feet (no surprise–I have pretty big feet too. Runs in the fam) and super long fingers. Every one called her Piano Fingers which was cute but I think after the third or fourth week I wanted to throw my shoe at every person who made the “better get her a piano!” comment. Some things just get old and irritating really fast when you’re a recovering and completely exhausted new mom.

So the other night when I was going through her clothes–again–I started pulling all of our hospital memorabilia. I swear someone, my cat probably, is sprinkling magic super-growth dust over Q at night when she sleeps. She grew out of a brand new sleep set in a week. This is why baby clothing companies make serious bank. Pure madness.

One of the things that completely got me falling into a downward emotional spiral was her white hospital gown. A few of my fondest hospital memories included snuggling with her in that gown that was two sizes too big.

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Heres a valuable tip for soon to be first time mommas: don’t bring outfits for the baby to wear while you’re in the hospital. Its pointless. They supply you with a few swaddling blankets and long sleeve wraps that button on the side, which makes it easy to change diapers and bond with skin to skin for you, and examine the baby for the nurses. And honestly, who really wants to worry about dressing your baby up when you’ll be focused on much more important things anyways. Like wondering where you left your shame when your nurse is helping you go pee.

Most of the time she didn’t even wear the gown and just stayed wrapped in her faux fur blanket. Whenever she got fussy, we’d strip her down to just her diaper and swaddle her in it, with the fur on the inside and she immediately calmed down, thus making it what we eventually called her ‘Magic Blanket’. The nurses were blown away by it and wanted to know where it came from. It was a gift from PB Kids by a family member, but unfortunately they discontinued them. It goes everywhere with Q.

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With my shadow box and pins ready, I got to work. I had to snap a quick picture of Quinn’s hat before I put it in the box. Can you believe she was THAT tiny?!

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Im really happy with the way the shadow box came out. I have it hung on the wall where her bookshelf is, right near the door so I can peek at it every time I leave her room. Although the entire hospital experience was really difficult (mostly physically) a reminder like this makes me so so so thankful for Quinn and I would do it all over again in a second.

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Nursery Refresh

One thing Im guilty of is getting bored with spaces too quickly. My parents always joke about when I was younger, they would come home from work and a new color would be painted on the walls in the kitchen, or the living room would be re-arranged. This happened on more than one occasion over the course of my junior and high school years. What can I say, I liked to take advantage of my creativity, and as long as my parents were okay with it (they were), I was going to continue doing it.

Obviously, I took that habit with me when I moved out and now my husband has happily assumed the role of teasing me about it. Much like my parents, this doesn’t surprise him anymore.

One night after a bottle and story time, I was rocking Quinn into her sweet slumber as I was observing the walls in her room. In the past eight months I had already re-arranged her furniture every which way possible and now I was bored with her walls, one in particular. When I originally decorated her nursery, I ordered a custom print from a cute little shop on Etsy (here) that specializes in typography and hung it in a silver frame over her crib.

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Hard to tell (another reason why I decided to eventually replace it) but it says ‘Q is for Quinn’. Cute right? The other two frames are 3-D butterfly cut-outs. I still like this trio and will probably relocate it to the downstairs front bedroom when I eventually convert it into her playroom, but as of right now I just feel like I needed something a little more eye-catching on that wall. Hence, my newest project!

After lots of research and thought into what exactly I wanted, I went ahead and ordered a custom 24″ wood monogram from (THIS) adorable little shop, of course, on Etsy.

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As you can see, it came unfinished and is why my dining table turned into Craft Central. Totally fine, I like the freedom of choosing my own color. Bold move painting on top of a beautiful wood tabletop right? I like to take chances. Well, the real reason is because my table in the sunroom was already being used for drying clothes that can’t be thrown in the dryer.

I picked up an 8oz bottle of basic acrylic paint at Michaels (here) and a large spool of wire ecru ribbon. The sponge brushes I already had kicking around the house. The plus is I didn’t need to prime the monogram; the acrylic paint has a pretty decent opacity but the monogram did need two coats. After it dried for a few hours I started to attach the ribbon so that I could hang it. Thank goodness for staple guns!

The monogram received the Jetta Seal of Approval last night 🙂

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I waited until this morning to hang it because Q was already sleeping by the time I finished and I wasn’t about to go marching in her room with a hammer in my hand. Taking down the other frames was also more work than I anticipated, so it all kind of worked out.

I’d say this definitely freshens up her wall. It takes up less room than the trio of frames but I actually like the open space around it. I think it leaves the monogram and that to-die-for crib the main showcase in her bedroom and I went with a light pink instead of purple to well, break up the rest of the purple.

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Im so glad I went with a single letter monogram versus the traditional one with three initials.  One of my goals with decorating her nursery is using pieces that she can eventually grow with and then take with her when she’s older.

Q wasn’t all that interested. Learning how to crawl is obviously more exciting.

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We’ll see how long I last before I start re-arranging again. I’ve got another small project for her nursery coming tomorrow!

Nursery Makeover

One of the first things I wanted to tackle on my NOW List was Q’s room. We closed on the house 2 1/2 months before her due date and I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me so I wanted to get it started as soon as possible.

This room was actually the little boys room of the previous owners. The yellow paint was the first to go. It wasn’t the sunny type of yellow that instantly puts you in a good mood. It was the putrid, sickly kind that actually does just the opposite. Pair it with the dark wood trim and it was just overall depressing. The windows face south and are much smaller than our first floor windows so the amount of natural light is pretty limited. That being said, I wanted something light and fresh and because I knew exactly what I wanted for furniture, that meant the dark trim had to go too.

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First, my parents came down for a long weekend visit and I contracted my step father Mike to help me out with my vision for Q’s room. Off to Home Depot we went!

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10327170_4145287087605_1242041172_nCheck out that bump! Hi Quinn!

Early the next morning, Mike was out in my garage happily sawing away wood to install a custom chair rail in the nursery. The project took all day for three reasons:  because the house is old, the walls aren’t exactly square in some rooms, so extra steps had to be taken to make sure the rail sat flush against the wall and left no gaps. Secondly, as Mike was streamlining the rail with the window sills, he discovered that the window framing didn’t have any insulation. You could actually see straight through to outside. No wonder why her room was so cold! And lastly, he likes to take his time 🙂

Next he swapped out those god awful “modern” sconces near the windows. They just weren’t going to work with my vision, so in the garbage they went.

When the heavy work was done, I jumped right into painting. We decided on the new Valspar Reserve paint that you can find at Lowes for a few reasons. It has a stain blocker, primer, rich color and zero VOC’s. I’m not exaggerating when I say the application is like painting your walls with BUTTER. I started out with painting the trim which took some light sanding then two coats of primer and two of semi-gloss. Then I tackled above the chair rail. It was looking so much brighter already and this photo was taken at night! The color is Frosted Clover for all of you muted purple fans.

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Another perk about having primer in your paint is that if you get it on the wood floor, it peels right off after it dries. I hate drop cloths in case you’re wondering…

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If I had a choice, her furniture would not have been in there while I was painting. But RH delivered it in the middle of my project and because they offer white glove service with assembly, I didn’t have a choice. Or anywhere else to keep it.

When all was said and done, we finally had a nursery!

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Its funny that I knew exactly what crib and dresser I wanted but took me forever to find a rocker. We finally found this one at Bernie & Phyls and had it custom upholstered in this fun fabric! It didn’t arrive until a few weeks after Quinn was born which was okay because I couldn’t do stairs for that long anyways.

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We decided on getting her toy box and this bookcase at The Mill Store and I stained it in this muted grey. We like the idea of lower shelves for Q to be able to reach. We might regret it later when her middle name becomes Destruction.

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This watercolor painting was a special gift from my husbands grandmother, Natalie. We have another in our kitchen from her as a wedding gift that she painted of a scene in my hometown.

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And of course, I couldn’t just go with a plain old nightlight. How fun is this flamingo?!

Since the makeover, new stuff has been added and things have moved around a bit and back again but thats an old habit of mine that you can confirm with anyone who knows me. We love to spend time in here now and after six months of co-sleeping and a week of camping out on an air mattress, she’s finally sleeping in there on her own. With the help of a humidifier and white noise machine (best purchase ever).

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I think Quinn is happy with the outcome, too 🙂


Crib, Dresser and Moses Basket-RH Baby and Child

Rocker– Bernie and Phyls

Bookcase and Toy box-The Mill Store

Rug- Target