Updated: Aug 30, 2021
Adding vibrance and color without lifting a paintbrush!
When a friend of mine asked me for advice on how to update her bedroom my mind immediately started thinking through how I used mine. For me it's important that my bedroom be calming and feel like a retreat. I need it to be a place I can go to to relax and wind down at the end of a busy day. I love having some glam touches without allowing the room to be too fussy. I like things to be cohesive and well tied together without requiring a ton of energy to keep it that way everyday. Personally, I've always enjoyed having a spot to sit that's not on the bed and I did that by bringing up our old living room couch to add that seating area. But that's me - and I wanted to know what it was that my friend was looking for.
I asked her how the room currently functions and how she and her husband use the space other than for sleeping. She said that it didn't and that they hardly spent time there other than for sleeping. Then came my follow-up question - how would she like it to function in the future? Some of the options that came to my mind were creating a sitting area with a couple of armchairs or creating a bedroom office with a writing desk and chair or even a dedicated spot to put on makeup. After giving it some thought she liked the idea of creating a seating area. Once that decision was made I was able to put some design options together.
The bed, nightstands, TV and floor standing mirror were staying in the room. An unused chaise filled up the area by the windows and would no longer be in the space. Instead that area would see a couple of armchairs, an end table and an ottoman or two. Here are the moodboards I created to get this room going:
She loved the neutral chairs with the white ottomans and the black and gold blanket ladder. Once these pieces were decided we knew the room still lacked pops of color. Everything, including the walls, was neutral. There was a hint of green in the artwork (shown in the moodboard) and the night stands were black and gold. That's it.
We decided to take the makeover a step further and layer in decor that brought in some color. I put the following two concepts together, one with a cooler color palette playing up the blues and greens and another bringing in those deep reds and warm grays. She picked the latter and it was a great choice.
My friend also added in a faux olive tree and a gorgeous black and gold planter from West Elm tying into the colors on the blanket ladder and nightstands. Even though this room makeover didn't require much DIY, I offered to create a frame for her canvas art. I made one out of scrap pine boards I had in my garage. I ripped them down on my table saw to the exact width of the canvas and once it was all assembled together, I spray painted the sides black and the face gold, again repeating the black and gold theme throughout the room.
This room came together so beautifully and I could not be happier. As your eye travels from one end of the room to the other you see one night stand with faux stems, the bed with the natural linen duvet, pillows with warm greys and reds and a lumbar pillow to bring back the brightness of the whites and greens. Then over by the windows you see the faux olive tree in the corner in the gorgeous planter filled with moss for a finished look. Then you see the beautiful nailhead trim armchairs with the tassel pillows and creamy white ottomans. Your eyes go up to the art and back down to the gold and glass side table with those coveted faux red stems. A decorative bowl adds interest to the bottom of the side table and then your eyes move to the gorgeous glass and gold floor lamp in the corner. By the TV you have the blanket ladder with a burgundy throw blanket to tie it all together.
I hope you enjoy the tour of her space through the pictures below. She said that every time she walks into her room she has a smile on her face and if that isn't the best compliment, I don't know what is!
How I flipped a 1980's curio cabinet into a modern statement piece!
For weeks I scoured Facebook Marketplace for the perfect furniture piece that I could transform into a modern statement. I looked at china cabinets, curio cabinets, buffets and console tables but I knew that I wanted to get on the trend of including arched elements in my home design. Then one day as luck would have it there were three arched cabinets for sale. Some more expensive than I liked and one with a cracked glass pane for $80. That's the one I picked and I had my husband pick up the piece in our truck. Once it was home and in the garage I was all sorts of excited to start the transformation process. The process, however, did not start for weeks after because other projects in the house needed to be tackled first.
I was wrapping up the Spring 2021 ORC and then worked on the loft slat wall project and once those were complete I turned my focus to this furniture flip. The first order of business was to take as much of the cabinet apart as possible. This meant removing every glass pane carefully and preserving the rubber seals that held all the glass together. Taking out all the glass shelves and then the door and all the hinges. I took out the cabinet light housing that came with the cabinet but never reinstalled at the end since it did not fit the look I wanted.
We then sanded all the wood areas down with our cordless orbital sander. Sanding is not fun but it is necessary to get the wood surface ready for priming and painting. It also helps paint adhesion which means less paint chipping after it's all said and done.
After sanding, I went to our local paint store to pick out primer and paint. I ended up picking a gallon of an oil based primer - firstly it was on sale for $18 a gallon and it was more than sufficient to prepare the wood surfaces for paint. For the paint, I decided on Benjamin Moore's Advance paint in black satin. This already came pre-tinted so it was ready to go off the shelf. I also got a 1" paint brush to get into all the corners on this cabinet and a mohair roller to roll primer and paint onto the larger surfaces on the cabinet.
Before priming the cabinet, I wiped down the entire cabinet with a rag to get all the dust off and then went over it with a tack cloth to capture any finer dust particles. I did the same for the door. I then starting priming the cabinet with an old brush (one I was ready to get rid of since the primer was oil based and I wouldn't have been able to clean it off with just water). Once all the corners and curved edges were primed, I used a roller to prime the larger surfaces such as the arch top and interior and the cabinet floor and all the wood between each glass pane. By using the roller I was able to get more of an even coat of primer and minimized any drips which would only have compromised the final finish.
Once all the surfaces had a coat of primer, I decided to move the cabinet indoors onto some brown paper to paint the black coat. The representative at the paint store warned me that in the summer heat and humidity, the Advance paint would remain tacky for too long and that my best bet would be to paint indoors for faster drying time between coats. I followed the same process as I did with primer - brushed the black paint with a brand new brush along the edges and corners and used the roller to cover all the other surfaces. I always had a roller and paintbrush handy when painting so if I needed to smooth out any drips I could use whichever tool necessary. The great thing about this line of paint is its ability to self level. That means as it dries, it levels itself out so you get a very smooth finish. Between coats I covered the roller in plastic wrap and placed it in the fridge. This way I was able to finish the painting over a couple of days and could allow for enough drying time. It also saved me from using a new roller for each coat.
I let the cabinet shell and the door dry for two days before attempting to put it all back together with the glass. I wanted to give the paint a chance to cure and minimize any chipping during the re-assembly. While that was drying, I still had work to do on the cabinet backing. The original cabinet had two mirrors held in place by some hard board. I used the mirrors to trace out the shapes on 1/4" plywood for the new backing and cut out the arch shape with a jigsaw. Once I had the two right sized pieces, it was time to figure out the stain color. I envisioned a high contrast look with a light wood color back against the black of the cabinet. I bought three stain colors - Ipswich Pine, Golden Oak and Early American to see which one would be best.
As I viewed my test piece with these stains, I liked the light and bright look of Ipswich Pine. I stained both the backing pieces with this choice and once they were dry I laid it against the cabinet in my living room to see how it would all look together. I was less than pleased. The stain color on it's own is pretty but when all the wood finishes in my home are much darker and deeper toned, this light wood stuck out like a sore thumb.
I then went back to the drawing board and tried some darker colors over the one I had already used. The winning combo was Ipswich Pine with a coat of Special Walnut on top. It was the perfect rich and slightly reddish tone that went perfectly with my dining table, the floors, the wood on the entertainment center and of course my herringbone wood wall. IT WAS PERFECT!
The cabinet and door were painted, the backing boards were stained correctly and it was then time to put all the things back together. As I started gathering all the glass pieces to start putting them back on the cabinet, I saw the piece that was originally cracked and to my surprise I had a second pane that had cracked into three pieces. My heart sank. I thought I was so close to finishing up this project but then had to figure out where to source new glass pieces from. I taped up the two glass panels that were broken and set them aside and proceeded to put all the rest of the glass on the cabinet before anything else cracked too! Luckily all the curved pieces were intact and I started with those. I held each glass piece in its respective opening and wedged the rubber seal sandwiching the glass between the wood of the cabinet and the seal. This was how it was before I took things apart and that's exactly how they went back together. I had all of them back in place aside from the two broken pieces.
I went to a local glass cutting shop, not 10 minutes from our house, and took the old pieces with me. They let me know that it was single strength glass (super delicate) and that it would be a couple of days till they were ready and they would set me back only $36. This was great news! Sure enough, two days later they called and I was able to pick up my new pieces. One of them I installed just as easily as the original pieces. The final piece was cut just a hair larger than the original and made for a snug fit. I was able to manage but had to cut off some of the rubber seal in the process. You can't tell from the outside of the cabinet that anything was different. It's a DIY project and what DIY project would be complete without a few minor imperfections? :)
After all the glass was in, I used my staple gun to secure the plywood backing to the cabinet and then finally added back the hardboard (that held the mirror in place) and secured that in place with my staple gun as well. I added the hinges back to the door and got the door back on the cabinet. It was almost done! The cabinet came with glass shelves so I got those in from where they were stored in the garage and placed the shelves on the metal pegs that were original to the cabinet. Once I gave all the glass surfaces a good Windex clean I was able to do my favorite thing - style this custom arch cabinet!
Here's how I put together various decor pieces I had to create a curated look:
I hope you enjoyed reading and seeing visuals of this furniture transformation project. I am extremely proud of how it turned out and can't believe I waited this long to flip my first furniture piece! Needless to say I won't be as reluctant the next time. If you're wondering if you can revive an old yet special piece of furniture, be assured, YOU CAN!
An account of our travels out west in the Summer of 2021
I know this isn't a home décor topic but my family is a typical family and by documenting our most recent adventure, I hope t0 provide you with some insight in case you embark on your own trip to Yellowstone for the first time.
Yellowstone was not our first pick for a trip this summer but originally we were to join another family. They had to cancel their trip but we kept our plans because neither my husband nor I had been to Yellowstone and this seemed like a good a year as any to go. Owing to our last minute planning, we were not able to find cheap flights or car rentals around Yellowstone so we decided we would road trip out west. We already had one successful road trip from Illinois to Florida under our belt in 2021 so what was another?
I'm usually a planner and I like to know what we're doing and when. This time around I planned none. I had been busy with other things and planning out this vacation didn't quite make the priority list. I figured we had some freedom since we were going to be on the road and also plenty of hours on the road to look up things on the way. What we did plan was where we were going to stay so we could plan for how much driving we would need to do each day at the very least.
For our 7 night road trip we were going to leave Naperville and make it to Sioux Falls for the first night, then onward to Rapid City for the second and finally to West Yellowstone for three nights. On the way back we knew we wanted to see Mt. Rushmore so we planned to stay in Deadwood for two nights before a long drive home on our final day.
Because I knew where we'd be spending each night, I devised a method for packing suitcases for the five of us so we wouldn't be lugging several bags and suitcases for each night stop. I may lose some of you here but I'm hoping there are some vacation packing nerds out there that are like me and may enjoy this nugget :)
For the five of us, two adults and three boys aged 3, 6 and 9 here's how I packed. Each child had their own backpack that contained their favorite stuffed animal, their headphones and their device for in car entertainment. I, of course, carried my purse and my husband brought his work backpack with him. This is where it gets cool (haha) - for the hotel stays I grouped our luggage into 3, one child size suitcase (Pokémon themed duh!) with clothes for us all for the first 2 nights before we got to Yellowstone, a larger suitcase with clothes for the 3 nights at Yellowstone and another child size suitcase with clothes for all for the 2 nights after Yellowstone at Mt. Rushmore. I then had one carryon suitcase filled with the "common things" i.e. everything we would need no matter which hotel we were at. This included our toiletries, my hair styling tools and makeup pouch, flipflops, swimwear and sweatshirts. So at every stop we only needed to take in the kids backpacks, the common carryon and one of the other suitcases depending on which end of the trip we were on. Genius right??? Okay maybe not but it sure made taking things into the hotel and repacking once we were leaving easier since we only had enough for that leg of the trip. I used packing cubes to keep our clothes organized by person within the suitcases and it all worked out great! I was really proud of it - can you tell? :)
Ok enough about packing. Let's get to the trip and what we experienced. So for our last roadtrip and for this one, we enabled the WiFi in the car. You have to love technology. To me this is huge because it means I don't have to worry about downloading content for the kids to watch before the trip and it means they are self sufficient to entertain themselves when we're on the road. Believe me the last thing I want to do before leaving on vacation is download 9847984 episodes of goodness knows what. Ya feel me?! On these long road trips I don't police TV time. They are free to watch as long as they want but when we get to our stop, the devices get put away and they to need appreciate the destination - which they did.
Our first driving day was easy - we left at about 8:30am, drove almost continuously for 4 hours, stopped for lunch and then drove another 4 and we were in Sioux Falls just in time for some sightseeing before dinner. We stayed at Hyatt Place Sioux Falls South which had an indoor swimming pool. Once the kids knew about the pool there was no way around it and we had to let them swim before doing anything else. We agreed on a half hour at the pool and they had the biggest smiles. They were in canon-balling and splashing heaven. Right after we headed out to see the falls after which the town is named and Sioux Falls did not disappoint. I love any kind of waterfall really but this was really pretty.
Sioux Falls has a cute downtown area that I had previously seen on a work trip but with the kids, we decided to eat at Chevy's away from downtown. Those vegetarian enchiladas really did hit the spot.
The next morning, after grabbing a quick bite at our hotel, we all got in the car and headed further west to the Badlands. Now, several people that I had talked to about our road trip kept mentioning the Badlands but I for one had never heard of it before. Once I looked it up, I knew we couldn't miss it so we made a day out of it. It was an easy 4 hour drive and we were at the national park right after lunch time.
The Badlands are like nothing I've ever seen before. It completely blew my mind. The rock formations were stunning. Once you enter the park, there are various overlooks throughout the park making it easy to see different sites. It was the first time the kids saw bison and we were all amazed by the sheer number of prairie dogs just scurrying past their mounds.
Once we had spent a couple hours in the park, we decided it was time to drive to our next hotel in Rapid City. It was a hot day and the kids were tired from the sun and heat and luckily we only had an hour's drive to the hotel. On the way, we saw signs for Wall Drug. We all needed some refreshments so we took a little detour to explore this roadside attraction. With gift stores and eateries, it seemed like a good spot to get some souvenirs and some ice cream. The stores were filled with handicrafts and beautiful art and after perusing we found a spot with some cool refreshments.
Once we had stocked up on water bottles, we hit the road again but took the scenic route to the hotel so our littlest one could get his nap in. In Rapid City, we arrived at a Home2Suites by Hilton which happened to be connected to an indoor water park. Of course the kids wanted to go but it was an additional cost and we decided to pass. Instead we looked up restaurants for dinner and a Nepalese restaurant with rave reviews piqued our interest. The menu at the Kathmandu Bistro was familiar and once we got there, the food did not disappoint. We got some Himalayan Chai and it was like a warm hug from within. Just the thing we needed before we called it a night.
The next morning we all geared up for a long day on the road. The plan was to leave Rapid City and head to West Yellowstone. That's where we had reserved a cabin for three nights. We set out west excited to finally get to our main destination. Very quickly on our drive we realized we were going to be in a dead zone, no cell service or car WiFi for the kids and no maps! We mentally prepped for a few hours of "I'm bored" and "Are we there yet?" but more than being off the grid, the rest stops and restrooms were few and FAR between. We made it through the four hours (insert eye roll here LOL) and finally we were on I-90W and all normalcy was restored. We all immediately checked our cell phones and my husband decided it was prudent to call our cabin to make sure they were prepared for our late arrival. That conversation went south real fast. They told us that our cabin had water damage and was uninhabitable and that we had no place to stay. They apparently had tried to get a hold of us when we were unreachable but of course we missed their call!
We were half way to West Yellowstone with no idea if we would even find any lodging for the three nights we were meant to be there. While we had connectivity, we quickly scoured Expedia for options, prepared to stay each night in a different spot if we had to. We decided then to search for a one night stay somewhere in between our location at the time and West Yellowstone and the Dreamcatcher Hotel popped up in our search as available. They were available for JUST ONE NIGHT which means someone else likely canceled and they had availability. This well rated hotel was a group of tipis (yes tents) so guests could sleep under the stars! What?! The first thought in my head was "I am not prepared to camp" but my husband who is always up for new experiences convinced me it would be great and that it would be a great memory for the kids and us alike. So we reserved it and mapped it into our navigation system and we were thankful to have a spot for the night.
For the next two nights we were able to book a different cabin close to West Yellowstone which had great reviews. This was certainly a wrench in our original plans but in hindsight I'm so glad things happened as they did. We continued driving through Billings and Livingston, stopping for lunch. As we sorted through the hotel issue and reservations had some backtracking to do but finally 5 hours later we made it to our hotel. I had been nervous about the tents and bugs and bears but as we drove up to the Dreamcatcher Tipi Hotel we all gleamed with excitement. From the parking lot you can see about 20 tipis. The sight is nothing short of magical. We headed to the main tent to check in and once we were assigned a tipi (#5) we headed to see it. We opened the tipi's double zipper and crouched inside. We were amazed at how comfortable it was. There was a king size bed in the middle and a twin bed with a trundle on the left and an armchair on the right. The tent came with enough towels for all of us, LED lanterns to walk around the campground after dark, a fan and a heater.
Once we got our luggage and settled in a little, we went outside where we saw an area to play bags and a spot in the center for a campfire. Every evening, the hotel does smores and beverages for the guests at sunset and it is amazing. It's the perfect end to a long day at the park or after driving to just unwind, mingle with other guests and let the kids be kids. They toasted their marshmallows, competed with other boys on how quickly they could burn one, ran around, played tag and football and it made my heart so happy. It really did feel like a getaway.
We hung out outside eating way too many smores and staying up way past all our bedtimes (especially my 3 year old's) but once we were on our beds, we all slept like babies. I'm pretty sure as I drifted off to sleep, there were deer right outside our tent and wolves howling in the distance. Rest assured I checked for the possibility of bugs entering our tent but each tipi actually sits on a concrete slab and there's a mesh all along the bottom so no critters can get in. Camping with assurances! My kind.
The next morning, we all made our way one by one to get showered. Right by the check-in tent are bathrooms with showers and so spacious and clean that we really didn't miss a hotel with a private bathroom in our room. The hotel provides breakfast for all guests in the morning and we enjoyed an assortment of oatmeal, fruit, yoghurt and of course coffee!
After breakfast it was finally time to head into Yellowstone! We entered the park through the North Entrance with a goal to see Old Faithful before the end of the day. Yellowstone was a place I knew to be beautiful but to see that beauty in person was another level. I could describe what we saw but to experience this national treasure through my account would not do the park justice. I will leave you with pictures from our first day in Yellowstone to do the talking.
Once we were done with day 1 at the park, we drove to our cabin. It was a house by the woods, with more than enough room for us and another family of 5. It was nice to have room to sprawl out. The littlest things make all the difference. When we walked in, the cabin had a little play kitchen for kids and just that completely altered my youngest's mood. As soon as we entered, he saw that kitchen and started playing and was completely a different kid than the tired, cranky one in the car. We all rested a little, then I looked up the closest restaurant that would have vegetarian food (not an easy find out there) and we found a pizza place about 10 minutes away. After our meal, we stopped at a local grocery store and got some breakfast supplies before calling it a day.
The next morning, the husband woke up early and was busy in the kitchen making us all breakfast. The coffee was brewing, the kids were walking around the cabin exploring - it was a good day. We needed a day with a slower pace because every day up to that point was either long hours of driving or walking. We took it easy in the morning, devised a plan for what we wanted to see that day and then headed out. Our plan was to first go to Lake Yellowstone and see all the sites along the way. I felt like I hit the jackpot because a few minutes into the park we saw cars stopped ahead of us. Whenever there were cars stopped in Yellowstone, I realized, meant that there was an animal sighted. I instantly told every person in the car to keep their eyes peeled for a bear. I could feel it! Sure enough, there was Mama Bear with two cubs trying to make her way through the trees not 30 feet away from our car. We all got out of our car and headed with the crowd after the bear. Yep! Here I was, carrying my 3 year old and running after the bear to get a better view. There was no time for pictures - this was a once in a lifetime thing for me - a bucket list item and I wasn't going to miss it! Once all the bear excitement died down we continued driving and again cars were stopped ahead of us. This time it was elk, right by the road. So close you could touch them if you tried. No, no I didn't try :).
We took our pictures and then proceeded on to the lake. The lake was beautiful and serene. Our stomachs, though, were less than happy and growling. We went into the historic hotel by the lake and grabbed a quick bite to eat. It was the first time I saw my 6 year old scarf down a salad - with spinach that too! This vacation sure was life changing. After lunch our goal was to get to Lamar Valley. This was the spot where more wildlife could be seen. After seeing that one bear, I was determined to find more and wolves and all the animals possible. As we drove north we came across the Upper Falls. As we approached the parking lot, in the distance there was a crowd forming and there was another bear! I only caught a glimpse of black-brown before there was nothing. We continued on the trail to take in the sight of the falls and it was worth it. The hike was hard on all of us except my husband who had my youngest on his shoulders and was breezing by everyone.
The rest of us were so tired that we didn't want to get out of the car until we got to Lamar Valley. We drove out there but aside from bison and elk we didn't see much else. I was grateful for the sightings earlier in the day and wasn't disappointed one bit. We had a long drive back so we stopped in Norris for a bite before heading back to the cabin. It was our last day at Yellowstone and it felt too short. Being surrounded by nature's beauty helps you regain some perspective. Makes you remember that you are not but a speck in the universe. It was a good reset for our family.
We had one more destination to go before heading home - Mount Rushmore. We left after breakfast from our cabin and drove around the national park to get to the highway. Our next hotel was in Deadwood over 8 hours away. We were careful this time to stay on the interstate so we had access to rest areas and, of course, could stay connected. We got to our hotel around 7pm or so and as soon as the kids heard that there was a pool at the hotel they wanted to do nothing else but splash and swim. Once they were done, they were famished but there weren't many dining options close by. We ate at the restaurant onsite and called it a night. The next day after breakfast we headed to see good ol' Mount Rushmore.
I was finally at the site that I had seen numerous times on TV and it was so worth it. It was a really hot day so we alternated between outdoor time and getting a little shade indoors where they had a 15 minute movie on how the faces were carved into stone. After making our way through the gift shop we headed into town for lunch. Right by our restaurant they had an amusement park with ziplining and mountain slides and the kids had a blast. That was the final to do on the list and our vacation was complete.
The next day we geared up for our longest driving day of 14 hours and drove all the way home. When we walked through the door at home, the appreciation on everyone's faces was palpable. My kids wanted to snuggle in their own beds and I couldn't wait to take a shower in my own bathroom. I have spent a little over a year transforming our house, corner by corner, into a home I love and being away from it for a week made me realize how much I have to be grateful for.
If you made it this far, thank you for reading. I hope you experienced a little of our vacation through my words and pictures and that it inspired you to explore new places any chance you get!