Home Office and Fitness Room Nutrition Center

I’m having a lot of fun with the lazy way to remodeling (aka photoshop.) I have a couple of new clients who took advantage of the coupon code for a new room design, and while they are filling out their questionnaire, I’m finishing up the rest of my basement.  I already showed you the office area

Darren's office blue desk Darren's office fireplace view tv

and the family room side of the other half of the basement.

Basement Family area_edited-1

Next I want to show you a little spot I call the nutrition center.

My husband needs to eat a lot.  He keeps snacks in his credenza both at home and work and uses protein powders and creatine to keep up muscle mass.  When I redesigned his office space, I got rid of his credenza.  It blocked light from the window and made the room feel cluttered.  Instead I plan to remove the wall under the stairs and build a nutrition center there.  Here’s what it looks like now.

Basement Nutrition Center Before

Behind the sconce light is a little room with a sink.  Just a sink.  If you use the toilet in the garage the only place to wash your hands is in that little room.  So strange.  If I remove the wall on this side, there’s space for a kitchenette and the plumbing is already there for the sink.

Basement Nutrition Center after _edited-2

It will have a sink on the left side (not shown), a little fridge, and a microwave (also not shown) plus storage for Darren’s snacks, fitness supplements and shaker cups.  That way he’ll be able to fix his protein shake right next to where he works out.

Basement nutrition center before and after

There might be room for a table in front of it for snacking or playing games.  That part will have to evolve as we move along.  It will be awhile before we’ll be able to start on the improvements, but it is a lot of fun to dream.  I’ve saved the hardest part for last…the workout zone.  It’s hard because Darren has so many pieces of equipment and he’s not open to paring down.

Stumped on your room? Use the coupon code groceryshrink for $50 off a custom room design, good through February 15th.

Basement Family Room E-Design

I’ll never forget the first time I walked down the basement stairs in our home.  There was a pair of mannequin legs leaning against the wall.  I saw them out of the corner of my eye and screamed bloody murder before my brain could actually register what was happening.  It was a good thing I didn’t know about the rats yet.

The basement was weird all over, including a ceiling covered in fluorescent lights. You’d need sunglasses to be in the room if they were all on at once.  The designers made that improbable by controlling the lights in sections with 3 switches installed 15 feet apart.  We’d prefer to be able to light the whole space with an appropriate amount of lights with one switch close to the entrance.


The basement has been paneled twice.  The first time they used classic 1971 dark paneling which you can see to the right of the door.  They covered the dark paneling in 1992 with unfinished pine.  There is a toilet, sink, and shower in the basement….each in it’s own space spread out over the whole floor.  There’s not one bathroom with all three.  If you want to wash your hands after you pee, prepare to take a walk.  Even better, they designed the toilet area to look like an outhouse complete with shaker shingle roof and newspaper insulation.  We’ve already started taking that down. The shower is behind the brown door you see to the left.  Also back there is a bonafide sauna with bench seats and steam rocks.  So cool….until you realize that it’s probably the source of the mold.  To take care of the mold we had to rip up carpet and part of the pine paneling.   I didn’t know about non toxic solutions like Solumel or Thieves oil at the time, so used some harsh chemicals to do the clean up.  The basement was ugly before, but now it’s both ugly and torn up….  We’ve used carpet tiles to make the room partially liveable, but I have dreams for so much more.

Basement Family area_edited-1

Here’s my first stab at a concept for the room.  The kids love their pool/air hockey table that was left to them by my late Aunt after losing her battle with lung cancer.  I have plans to move it to an adjoining space to open up this section for seating.  I’d like to use this half of the room for movie nights, to host the church youth group, and for extra areas to expand into when we have our family over for holidays.

The other half of the room is a workout zone with free weights and some machines.  Darren wants a smooth bamboo floor down here for the girls to practice ballet and rubber flooring where he lifts weights.  It’s better for that if there isn’t an area rug (though I would normally include one to warm up the space.)

I love light, but there’s way too much light down there.  We’ll need to sheetrock the ceiling to be able to remove all the fluorescent lights.  In the process we’ll add some recessed lighting.  That should make the ceiling feel about a foot taller.

Basement family room before and after

Hopefully there will be some useable wood left from the ceiling to fix damaged areas in the rest of the room.  Then we’ll paint the paneling white.  It’s not only a big money saver but I love the texture of painted paneling.  We already own the Tullsta white chair and have some stumps hanging around to be a side table.  The sofa is Ikea’s Stocksund. Foam filled denim beanbags from uglysofa.com extend the seating for kids, but are easily stacked up in the corner when it’s time to dance.  The wreaths are DIY Magnolia wreaths, but I’m not sold on the wall decor just yet.  After painting the built in shelves white, we’d like to use them to store DVDs and family games.

What do you think?  What would you would change?

Stumped on your room? Use the coupon code groceryshrink for $50 off a custom room design, good through February 15th.

Aaron’s House

My friend bought a new house down the street from us.  His daughter is one of Heidi’s closest friends and there has been a lot of excitement at our house.  I might be slightly more excited than anyone else, because I grew up with my 2 closest friends in walking distance.  We went to school together, church together, and ended up at college together.  It was a WONDERFUL way to grow up.  I’ve wanted that for my kids and it’s finally starting to happen.

Our friends are moving from a 100+ year old charming house that he had restored room by room.  It’s a gorgeous space with rich woodwork, coffered ceilings and wide original moldings.  A house that old comes with a lot more maintenance than a newer home and they’ve come to a point in their lives where they need more space and a new beginning.

Aaron's House before

This new house is large and roomy on a quiet cul de sac in a neighborhood with friendly neighbors that spend lots of time outdoors and get to know each other.  I played around a bit with the front of the house to see if I could add some of the cottage charm his previous home had.

Aaron's house_edited-2 lighter green

I added cedar carriage house doors with large windows to add natural light in the garage. Then used the same cedar to replace his porch post and railing; add shutters and a cedar roof to the bay window.  All in Photoshop, of course.

If you are interested in getting some help with a room in your house. There are still a few days left to use the $50 off coupon code groceryshrink.

Debbie’s Basement

For awhile I’ve been doing room concepts in powerpoint.  I had taken a class on using Photoshop to do the same thing only better, except I couldn’t justify spending the money on the program.  THEN Costco had photoshop on sale for $40.  I could do that.  Doing rooms in Photoshop makes me deliriously happy.  I can change angles, isolate objects, change their colors….anything I want, almost.

Debbie is a friend of mine from the Cozy Minimalist Class and a reader here.  She graciously agreed to let me play with her basement design.  She is expecting their 4th baby and in the process of getting the rest of the house ready, her basement ended up the catchall space.  Most people have a room just like this and over time it can feel hopeless to be anything but storage.

Here’s the floor plan so you can imagine the nice large space.  It’s not finished on 3 sides and there isn’t money right now for permanent finishing.  She needed ideas for affordable things she could do to make the space feel like a useable part of their home.
floor plan

We are going on faith that sharing the before and after pictures is safe here.  That GS readers are the kindest sort and I know you won’t judge.  Most of us can relate to a catch all space.

Debbie's basement bookcase area before

This is the bay area of the room and holds her book storage.  She also likes tucking her exercise equipment in this area and used it a lot when it was accessible.  Here it has a nice view of the television and is out of the way so the kids don’t trip on it.

Office View_edited-1

I wanted her to see what it might look like if she moved her shared office space to that part of the room.  It made sense to be able to put the printer and papers on the bookcases. She loved the look, but it didn’t really work to have the exercise equipment out in the main part of the room.

In the concept the room is finished by spraying painting the ceiling white.  It helps the exposed wires and pipes etc to blend together and brightens the space.  The bare concrete floors are painted with concrete enamel paint in two tones for texture. And I recommended building the bookcases up to reach the ceiling for more storage, allowing her to get rid of the extra book case to the let and open up the room even more.

Here’s the before and after close together:

Debbie's Basement book area before and after

Debbie's basement long wall before

Since she needed me to move the office back to the long wall opposite the toy/craft area, I borrowed a custom shared desk idea from Young House Love and convinced John and Sherry to pose as Debbie and her husband hard at work.

Debbie's basement new office_edited-1

Each spouse has their own pegboard organizer to keep their tools close at hand.  Debbie’s could double as her craft area now if she wanted it too, but I had another craft area in mind just in case.  The mirror in the center helps to increase the light in the dark basement area. The piano is a family heirloom but also used by several members of the family.  I wasn’t sure how they would feel about painting it to feel more part of the room.  I gave them a couple of concepts just in case:

white piano Debbie's basement new office_edited-1


Painted piano Debbie's basement new office_edited-1

Or Powder Blue.  The burlap board above the piano can hold their scripture memory verse for the week, or whatever they like.

debbie's basement tv view before 2

Debbie's basement blue walls_edited-1

This view shows what it might look like with the exercise equipment out on the long wall.  Ikea shelves with wicker baskets hold smaller equipment while a large mirror above bounces light and allows them to check form.  I kept her old dresser for the media cabinet but gave it a fresh coat of white paint and replaced the top drawers with wicker baskets.  The unfinished walls are draped with $5 Wal-mart flat twin sheets threaded over electrical conduit pipe hung from the ceiling. (Electrical conduit pipe sells for $2 for 10 feet at the hardware store and is easily cut to length with a hacksaw or bent around angles by stepping on it a pulling.)

My favorite part is that little craft armoire in the corner. Everything stores inside, even the table itself.  Read about how to make it here.

Debbie's basement TV view before and after

This next side of the room is the family/play room.  She needs floor space for aerobics, storage for toys and seating for the family to watch a movie together.  This is also where she likes to work on crafts while the children play nearby.

debbie's basement toy area before

I covered her walls with the same conduit pipe/flat sheet treatment, but the short windows felt dreary and blocked our ability to drape the walls beneath them.  I solved the problem by adding mirrors below the windows.  They make the windows look longer, bounce extra light around the room and can double as dry erase boards for the kids while they play.  I used Ikea placemats above the windows to look like bamboo shades for a fraction of the price.

Debbie's basement Toy area_edited-1

Here you can see the craft armoire folded up and tucked out of the way.  Beanbags for the kids from Uglysofa.com have covers from a store that rhymes with Lottery Sharn but are filled with shredded foam for a lifetime of fluffy fun.  (Typical styrofoam pellets will flatten and disappear in just a few months of use and aren’t worth the money.)  Uglysofa has 20% off coupons on their facebook page and mailing list around holidays.

An Ektorp loveseat with washable slipcover gives seating for adults and a painted stump table holds a cozy tea pot in the corner. The kitchen set is made from free plans at ana-white.com.  Trofast pine benches with toy storage give tons of organization for the children. I’ve tried lots of other toy solutions including Closetmaid cubbies and cloth bins from Target.  They were too big and comberson for the children to manage.  My FAVORITE way to organize toys is with the frosted Trofast in the smallest size (unless our collection of that item is to big) and Chalkboard tape on the fronts to label the contents.  I like that they can be trained to pull out one bin and take it to their play area, then put it back before getting a different bin.

Debbie's Basement toy area before and after

This type of design is so much fun for me, that I’m taking a risk and putting myself out for hire.  Do you have a room that is completely overwhelming you? I can do a photoshop redesign for you with a shopping list and action plan and put all sorts of money saving ideas in it.  This kind of thing takes hours and hours of work for me, so it’s regularly priced at $150.  BUT until the 15th you can use the coupon code groceryshrink to get you $50 off.  I only have a few listings available at this discount. Be sure to read the listing for all the details before you order.


Dirty Don’s Haul and Adrenal Fatigue

I made a little venture over to Dirty Don’s today.  If you’re new here, that’s a salvage grocery store in my area.  There are salvage groceries in almost every large city where they get freight from semi’s and trains that didn’t make their destination on time. The stores can buy the merchandise for pennies on the dollar and then re-sell it at a discount to their customers. It might be perfect or dented or repackaged in some way. Dirty Don’s is like that, but the trashiest of all the stores in my area.  For that reason it has the best potential bargains, but I have to check the expiration dates closely.  They don’t have any qualms about selling stuff 4 years (or more) past expiration.

I spent just under $30 and this is what I got:

Dirty Dons 2-8-16

Multigrain Cheerios: $1 a box (2)

100% whole wheat tortillas: $.75 a bag (4)

Long Grain Brown Rice: 2 lbs for $1 (4)

Chicken Hot Dogs: 3 lbs for $1

Cutie Clementines: 3 lbs for $2 (2)

Strawberries: 1 lb for $.50 (4) (I know you’re wondering, I did throw away 1 berry per box but the rest were good)

Mandarin oranges: 3 cans for $1 (6)

Tomato Puree: #10 can $2

Marinara Sauce: #10 can $2

Tropical Fruit Salad: #10 Can $3.25

Blueberry white tea: $1.50 box

They had a lot of other deals, but I was pretty selective about what I bought and purchased fairly small quantities this time.  It’s becoming harder for me to feed my family on our budget and I wanted to make sure that I had money left for fresh stuff the rest of the month.

Insert Squealing tires as we change subject.

I’ve been blogging a bit over at my other site, Centsablyfit.com, about my experience with Adrenal Fatigue.  It’s not really a topic that I felt comfortable featuring on this blog.  I needed to get my thoughts organized about it so I could go back and remind myself how far I’ve come and what is working.  If it’s a topic you are interested in, here are  my last 4 posts:my journey with adrenal fatigue finding professional help for adrenal fatigue Natural Help for Adrenal Fatigue

Symptoms and Testing for Adrenal Fatigue

I have a little bit more to say on the topic so if this is important to you, subscribe over there so you won’t miss anything.  I also post my favorite fitness recipes there as a resource when meal planning for myself.

Frugal Friday #8, Special Edition

If you’re new here:  On Fridays I share a few frugal things I did during the week.  Then in the comments you to share a frugal thing or two you did during the week.  If you are a blogger feel free to link to your Frugal Friday post in the comments and we’ll come check it out.

Happy Friday! In this edition of Frugal Friday, I’m going to list the hacks we did in the boy’s bedroom to save money and how much they saved.  If I already have the tutorial on the blog, I’ll link to it.

Woven burlap headboard1. DIY Headboards: $15 each (original $149.95 each)  Savings: $275

Boy's Frame

2. DIY Picture Frame: $12 (purchased around $150) Savings $138

Shared boy room after 23. DIY Trofast Toy Organzier: Ikea doesn’t sell this size or color but if they did it would be around $50.  It cost me around $30 to make and not much more time than assembling one from the box. Savings $40 I used this tutorial and adjusted it for our size preference.  This is the FIRST wood thing I made without help and I’m a little proud of myself.

4. DIY Sawhorse Desk: This cost around $44 to make.  I can have one made here for $250.  Savings $206 I used this tutorial but replaced the top with a slab hollow core door.

Shared boy room after 3

5.  Electrical Conduit Curtain Rods and Ikea BETYDLIG Brackets.   The large window used a 10 foot conduit pipe for $1.99 and the two smaller windows used 5 foot pieces for $1.65.  All together the widow hardware was $15.65 for the 3 windows.  Traditional hardware would have been $40 a window.  Savings $104.35

6. Burlap ribbon valances: I wanted bamboo window shades for looks only.  Bamboo shades are see-through at night so we use roller shades for privacy.  I like the warmth and texture of bamboo shades and wanted something to hide the top of our roller shades and the gap between the top of the window and the ceiling.  The large window shade would be around $70 and the two smaller ones $30 each.  Instead I thumbtacked up 2 layers of burlap decorator mesh ribbon for $20.   Savings of $110  Click here to find out why I hang my curtains so high.

Black Nightstands Shared boy room

7. Restored Night Stands: I found this pair of nightstands on craigslist for $30 (for the pair.) They had been abused with spray stone textured paint and tiles that were improperly installed then ripped off.  I sanded off the texture and gave them a fresh coat of paint, pried off the old tops and made new stained wooden tops for them, and replaced the hardware with handles leftover from our kitchen contractor packs.  I spent an extra $15 in wood and supplies, so $45 total for the pair.  New nightstands like these are $125 each. Savings: $205

Ikea vs Target Duvet Covers

8. Switched from Ikea Duvet Covers to Target Clearance covers:  Target’s were $18 each, Ikea’s were $50.   Savings $64

9.  Spray painted black lamps green.  Old Time Pottery had nicely shaped lamps with the right kind of shade for $30, but they only came in black.  The inspiration lamps from Amazon were $107.09 for the pair.  Savings $42

10.  Bought the sofa on Craigslist instead of Ikea: Ikea’s prices are great, but if I can save a bit more I’m on it.  A motivated seller had his Ektorp Loveseat on CL for $30 because the cover was ripped and it had cat hair on it.  New they are $375.  I bought a new cover for $39 and that problem was solved.  Savings $306

The other big savings were: keeping their original beds and flooring; removing the popcorn ceiling ourselves; and painting ourselves.  Savings $3,000.  Without counting those, we saved $1,490.35 on the furnishings. Not bad for a little bit of elbow grease.

It’s your turn. Inspire us with some of your frugal activities this week.

DIY Woven Burlap Headboards

DIY Woven Burlap Headboard

Before we moved, in an effort to squeeze a lot of kids in a tiny space, I bought these beds so we could store their clothes unerneath:

south shores chocolate twin bed

It looks handy to use in the photo with the covers all tucked in.  In real life we like our covers to hang over the sides of the bed, which would get caught in the drawers.  We now store bedding in the drawers and their clothes in baskets in the closet.

Boy's closet after 1

The beds aren’t super high quality, but they’ve survived moving twice and are the perfect height off the floor for young boys.  If you consider these beds in your own home, have a plan from the start for replacing the drawer pulls.  They are sharp enough to draw blood if you bump it just right.

In an effort to use what we already have (to stay within budget) I knew I’d be keeping the beds for the room refresh.  I wanted them to have a headboard to ground the bed area, but it had to be inexpensive and short enough to fit below the window.

This headboard from Peir 1 Imports was my inspiration.  I still love it a little more than my DIY headboards, it was just out of our price range and too tall for this project.

Pier 1 Seagrass Headboard

I had originally planned to buy enough jute rope to weave a smaller headboard just like this one, but the cost was prohibitive.  Instead I purchased 5″ wide burlap ribbon with finished edges to weave with.  It was less than $10 a headboard and still gave the texture I was hoping for.

Head board frame

I used the same 1×4 pine from the picture frame in yesterday’s post to build a simple rectangle for the headboard frame and pocket hole joined it together.  It was all going to be hidden, so I didn’t worry about mitering the edges or anything fancy.

Gluing the burlap in place

Then I hot glued strips of the burlap ribbon to cover the frame.  I had to hold it in place for a few minutes until the glue set to make sure it was stretched tightly.  That was HOT!

Gluing bed frame

I figured out I could use a plastic shopping bag to protect my hand from the heat.  The bag peeled off pretty well from the glue without leaving a mark.

weaving bed frame

Then I went back the other direct with the ribbon and wove it through, securing the ends on the back side with more hot glue.

Finished Headboard

Here it is all finished.  They’ve been using it for a couple of months and the burlap has gotten a little stretched out on the edges.  If it doesn’t hold up for the long term, the frame will be easy to upholster in a more traditional fashion.

Woven burlap headboard

The original plan was to just screw the headboard to the wall, but I prefer how it looks with the curtains flowing behind it.  For now I have it propped up inside the bed frame, but am working on a hanging system that will secure it a few inches from the wall and high enough to touch the trim of the window.  I’ll update when I figure it out.

Have you ever made a headboard?  I’d love to hear how you did it.

Easy DIY Rustic Pine Picture Frame

Easy DIY Rustic Pine Picture Frame

When I was searching for inspiration for our shared boy room, I found a photo of this rustic frame and loved it instantly.  I needed a custom size to fit the canvas map I ordered from Amazon.com and to save money, I built it myself.  The map price fluctuates, I paid $29.

Here’s a close-up of the corner detail:

boys frame closeup


2 boards of 1x2x6 select pine $2.57 each

2 boards of 1x4x6 select pine $4.24 each

sliding compound miter saw (but a mitre box would work)

pocket hole jig

electric drill

self tapping screws

Face clamps

Wood glue

Distressing tools (a bag of screws and a rough in hammer)

Wood Stain I used minwax provincial

Picture hangers

I had everything but the pine on hand, so this project cost me $13.62

  1.  Measure your picture, leaving some room for the picture to overhang the frame on the back and decide in the INSIDE measurements of your frame.   Then cut 2 lengths of wood with 45 degree angles like this:

Mitre corners for picture frame

Cut 2 more in a similar fashion to match the measurement of the height of the frame.

2.  Drill pocket holes onto the back side of your wood.  Take your time with this.  On my last piece I drilled holes on the front of one side and the back of the other.  There was no way to fix it without buying new wood.  Since it was a rustic frame and I’m cheap, I assembled it with the holes on the front and filled it with a plug.  You’ll never see it unless you look for it….but it happened.   If you don’t want to use a pocket hole jig, you can glue and staple it together.  Tutorial here.

3.  Clamp the 45 degree edges together to a piece of scrap board and use your self-tapping screws to assemble the frame.  I didn’t use glue here.  It’s up to you.


Here’s a video that was helpful to me:

4.  The top pieces are going to be glued and clamped into place.  Cut 2 pieces of 1×2 the length of your frame (red), then cut 2 pieces the inside width and 2 tiny pieces for the outside corners (blue).  I’ve outlined the wood pieces here to make it easier to understand.

Wood trim for frame

5. At this point, I recommend stopping and distressing and staining your wood now.  If during the gluing process any glue squeezes out onto the face of the wood (it always does), the wood won’t take stain there.  Even if you wipe it off before the glue dries.  I didn’t do this and have some naked spots on my frame.

To distress the wood I whacked it with a rough edge hammer and a bag of screws a few times.  Here’s a more detailed tutorial on distressing wood.

6. Now it’s time to glue your trim wood to the face of the frame.  Add a wavy bead of glue then clamp the first trim piece in place.  After 30 minutes you can remove the clamps and glue the next section.  I only had 2 clamps so this part took the longest.  The trim hid one of my mistake pocket holes completely and partially covered the other one.  Whew.


7.  Typical frames have a rabbet to give an inset space to hold glass and a backing (instructions here.)  Since I wasn’t using glass or a backing, I didn’t mess with a rabbet and just duct taped my picture to the frame.

duct tape picture to frame

I used small pieces to get it stretched into place, then taped the rest of the way around for security before hanging.

8.  Nail in the picture hangers and hang it up :).

Boy's Frame

I’m pretty proud of how it turned out, considering my first try at building something turned out like this:


It took me a few years to get the nerve to try building again. I’m so glad I didn’t give up completely.  I built 4 more things from wood for the shared boy room and saved a BUNDLE in the process.  I’ll show you about them soon.

I love the frame so much I’m thinking of other places I could use one.  Like over the fireplace in Darren’s new office with a chalkboard and inspirational scripture: “Whatsoever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  I’ll have to figure out rabbets for this one.

Darren's office fireplace view tv

How about you?  Would you ever consider building a picture frame?







Shared Boy Room Updates

I’ve been sitting on this post for a couple of months having a hard time waiting for the right time to share it.  I hope you are in the mood for some home updates, because I have a bunch of them.

We moved into this house 4 years ago, not long after my husband killed the rats. The rats were just one of the many reasons the 5,000 square foot house was selling for $140,000.  I vowed not to come back into the house until they were gone and told him I had to see the bodies before I would believe it.  When the time came I was too chicken to look, but the kids verified their demise for me.

Living Room before 2

The house was such a disaster that Darren and I slept in the living room for the first few months.  The only light source was the original hanging lamp and there were no doors for privacy.  Most of the kids slept in the front bedroom upstairs.  Four twin beds fit in there with room left to turn cartwheels.  That sleeping arrangement gave us time to clean the other spaces more deeply and plan our remodel options while we sold our old house to raise the cash.  The original plan was to do the master bedroom first, then move into that  while we figured out what to do with the kitchen and living spaces.

Shared room before

By the time our old house sold (a year later) I was so frustrated with our kitchen that we started there.

Here's another before from a different angle

The cabinet doors had broken off and the layout made cooking and cleaning up afterwards a nightmare.  During the kitchen remodel, we discovered foundation problems that took the rest of our remodel cash. Without enough to even finish the kitchen space, we slapped it back together with some quick fixes (plywood countertops and folding table island) to get functional again.

Kitchen after

We’ve done a few things to improve other spaces while we work on changing our income situation.  Most of the improvements are cheap temporary fixes that will need to be re-done further down the road.

Shared room before

If you can Imagine the bedroom without the two white beds and you’ll see how the boys lived for the next 4 years.  It was depressing for me to tuck them in at night.  The room felt dark and empty, but we needed to focus our energy on other spaces.

After taking the Cozy Minimalist Course and working a miracle in my own bedroom, I tried a new furniture arrangement.

Shared boy room before 2

It was so inspiring, I drew up some plans in powerpoint to cozy up the space.  The first plans used black buffalo check curtains from Ikea fabric, which I loved.  I was the only one.

Brandon and Grant's Room A

My facebook readers had suggestions to help develop the idea, including framing out the map to give it more definition.

Brandon and Grant's room wood frame

And changing the curtains so they weren’t such a strong pattern.

Brandon and Grant's Room Gray curtains

Another facebook reader suggested that the warm tans and cool grays didn’t belong together and wanted to see it all warm.  I tried that.

Brandon and Grant's room all warm tones

But it wasn’t for me.  I like the depth that mixing warm and cool colors brings.  Plus the actual carpet has a lot more cool blues and greens in it than this sample texture I found.  (Eventually I figured out how to include the actual carpet into the drawings.)

I also tried out lots of different colors of area rugs.

Brandon and Grant's room wood frame

greenBrandon and Grant's Room sheepskin

lambswoolBrandon and Grant's Room Jute chenile rug gray boarder

sisalBrandon and Grant's Room B

or gray (with a more colorful map.)  A kind reader suggested that instead of trying to hide the crazy striped carpet, I should embrace it and just let it be.  That worked best with our budget, and a rug could always be added later if I changed my mind :).

The Ikea bedding was more expensive than I hoped, so when I found duvet covers on clearance at Target, I tried out both color combinations.

Brandon and Grant's room green rugby stripe


Brandon and Grant's Room Gray rugby stripe

I went with the gray :).  This was the final design for the room, and except for being completely off with the scale of the map, the reveal is amazingly similar.

Shared boy room after 3

I’ll probably move the map closer to the couch later, add another piece of art (to cover the old intercom system on the right) and build a reading nook in the empty closet.  Brandon really wants my mom to embroider name pillows too.  For now we are resting and calling it a job well done. In the picture, I don’t love the color of the couch.  In real life it looks better in the space. We did a few surprising things in here to come in under budget.  I’ll share more of the details about those and the toy side of the room in the next post :).






DIY Faux Magnolia Wreath

DIY Magnolia Wreath
I’m a big fan of Chip and Joanna Gaines.  So big that I paid $10 on Amazon to watch Season 2 of Fixer Upper after I saw Season 1 three times.  During the third round of season 1 Darren said, “Haven’t we seen this one before?”  I just smiled and handed him some popcorn.   Season 2 didn’t disappoint.  Chip had me screaming, laughing, and cringing and Joanna made me want to appreciate my kids a little bit more.

Greenery breathes life into a room. If I step back in a space and feel like something’s missing, a plant usually fixes it.  I’m not great at keeping plants alive, so I’m ok with using realistic looking faux.

When I saw Joanna’s Magnolia Wreath used in season 1, I loved it.  I clicked over to her site to check buying options and saw the $95 price tag. The reviews were mixed.  I added it to my Christmas list knowing it was way out of budget. After Christmas, Joanna sent out a 20% off coupon! I added the wreath to my cart and calculated the new price $76 (plus shipping). … I still couldn’t do it.  Sigh.

Magnolia Wreath 3

This room hasn’t been updated since 1972.  It features lime green sculpted carpet, a popcorn ceiling and lightly patched and stained walls.  Somehow the wreath makes it easier to wait a little bit longer for the changes to come. 

I searched Pinterest for tutorials on how to make a homemade magnolia wreath and they all started with Magnolia leaves that you pick off the tree in your yard……. Kansas City in January is a terrible place to look for fresh Magnolia in your yard.  My next stop was Hobby Lobby to see if I could buy paper Magnolia leaves.  You can’t, but they have Magnolia garlands that every few weeks go 50% off.  They also have Magnolia bushes that you can separate into leaves if you want a tidier looking wreath like Joanna’s.  I made a wild looking wreath with the garland and LOVE IT.  I love it so much I made a second smaller one for our other living space. (I used to have a moss covered C here, but the wreath is better scaled for the space.)

Magnolia wreath over fireplace

Supplies for the large wreath ($19.80):

24 inch grapevine wreath form  (40% off = $4.80)

2-6 foot Magnolia Garlands (50% off = $15)

Wire Cutters

Floral Wire

Supplies for the small wreath ($10.50):

18 inch grapevine wreath form. (40% = $3.00)

1-6 foot Magnolia Garland (50% off = $7.50)

Wire Cutters

Floral Wire

If you don’t have wire cutters and floral wire on hand Dollar Tree carries both. Their wire cutters are a little dull but get the job done.)

All you do is wire the two together.  It couldn’t be easier!  On the larger wreath, I attached one garland around the outer edge of the wreath and the smaller one towards the inner edge.  I like how it went around more than once on the inner circle and made the wreath asymmetrical.  On the smaller wreath, I attached the garland closer to the center of the wreath form.  Once it’s all attached bend the leaves so they make a pleasing shape.

If you want a less wild looking wreath ($31.80), you’ll need 3 of the magnolia bushes (50% off = $27) and a 24 inch grapevine wreath.  Use the wire cutters to snip off your leaves and hot glue them to the grapevine frame one row at a time.  The original wreath has about 75 leaves in it, 3 bushes will give you 90 leaves to work with.  When you think about the amount of time it took someone to make the wreath, the cost of raw materials, and the overhead they have, $95 starts to make more sense.  If you can afford it, it’s always nice to support a family business.

Not that you need it for something so simple, but I made a short video showing you how I made the wreath.


What do you think?  Do you use wreaths in your home decor?