It’s a Media Room!

We still haven’t quite landed on what to call our garage-turned-media-room. For now we’re still referring to it as “the garage,” but that doesn’t feel quite right. Media room sounds too fancy, and nothing else seems to stick. Hopefully we’ll land on something soon, but for now we’ll just keep calling it the garage.

So, um, are you ready to see what the garage looks like?!

We’ve finally officially turned it into a room, and I’m super excited about it. Last time you saw it, it looked like this:

Almost there, but not quite.

Well, we finished up the painting, tried out a stencil on one wall, decided we hated it, and painted back over it (don’t you love it when that happens?). So, now that the walls were all finally done, it was time to handle the floor.

Now, let’s talk about this for a second, because I feel like I need a disclaimer. The original plan for the flooring in here was carpet. We plan on having wood (or, wood-looking) floors everywhere else, but we thought a super plush carpet would be nice in this room, so that was the plan. Well, then we actually started working on the room and realized that with our budget, we could do carpet and have a completely empty room, or we could skip the carpet and actually have a sofa and rugs.

I’ll just let you guess which one we went with.

Obviously the carpet was out, so we decided that painting the concrete would be a good choice. Incredibly cheap, simple, and okay-looking-enough to tide us over until we can do something else.

I’ll just preface the rest of this post with this: I don’t love the painted concrete. I thought I would, but I don’t. In fact, I kind of actively don’t like it. But that’s the risk you take when you’re doing a big project like this, especially when you try to save a little bit (or a lot) of money.

But the good thing is, the painted concrete has always been just a temporary solution. And I can definitely live with it until we save up and do something else – which we’re thinking will probably now end up being the same floor we’re doing throughout the rest of the house.

So, with that little disclaimer out of the way, let’s chat about painting the concrete. The first step was cleaning it, which was the most annoying part. It consisted of vacuuming, then mopping, then vacuuming, then mopping, then…you get the point.

Once the floors were nice and gleaming, it was time for primer. We almost skipped this step, but I’m so glad we didn’t – it really sealed up the floors and made them feel less like a garage floor and more like a concrete floor – does that make sense? The fun part about this is you don’t even have to use a tray…you just dump the stuff out on the ground and use a roller to spread it out.

I was concerned at first because it was very…purple…

But it dried nice and clear, and ready for paint!

Next up was painting. Just like painting a wall, except more fun because you don’t have to worry about dripping on the floor. Here’s what it looked like after two coats:

We honestly probably should have done a third coat, but I was over it at this point, and I already knew I didn’t love it and would want to be changing it up sooner rather than later, so we decided to just skip it. You could really only tell it needed a third coat because of the harsh lighting in there (which we knew wasn’t going to be there long!), and the majority of the floor was going to be covered with a rug, anyways, so we decided to let ourselves be lazy.

Now, this is the point where I kind of wish we would have stopped. We had actually considered skipping the sealer step because we’ve seen a few bloggers do so successfully, but we decided to be safe and seal it.

Well, apparently some stain that was on our floor from before (we think it was a spray paint stain) did not play well with the sealer, and once it dried we had giant blue spots on our floor.

You can’t really see them in the photo, but trust me – they were very noticeable in person.

Luckily for us, we already had a big ol’ rug picked out that would cover these spots perfectly, but we would have been very unhappy campers if we had planned on leaving it uncovered.

Once the sealer finished drying (two torturous days), I was more than a little antsy to get the rugs in there. I wasn’t loving how the room was looking, and I was terrified that we had poured so much work (and money!) into this room for nothing.

So, when Corey got home from work the day that the floors were “officially” dry, we rushed into the garage to lay out our rugs. We decided to go for a layered look, partially because we love the way it looks, and partially because we could only find plain jute rugs in our budget that were as large as we needed for this room, and we wanted some pattern. So, the first rug we laid out was this super-thick-weave jute beauty. We snagged it from Rugs USA when it was on a steep sale – we paid about $300 for the 9X12 size.

There are no words for how in love with this rug I am. It is incredibly soft (which was a shock – we were expecting rough!), huge, and just gorgeous. I kind of want to sleep on it. And just so you can get an idea of how thick those threads are, here’s a photo with my feet for reference:

Mmm. This rug is fabulous.

But we weren’t stopping there – next up was this equally fabulous blue zebra-print rug. We also got it from Rugs USA and it was on some insane sale  as well- we paid a little less than $400 for the 8X10 rug.

Fun, right? We loved the zebra pattern, and it brings some much-needed color into the room.

Cullen really likes it, too.

I’m obsessed with how these rugs look together, and I think once the rest of the furniture and accessories make their way into the room, it’ll look fantastic. And thankfully, they cover up enough of that concrete floor that I can mostly ignore it. Until we get around to fixing it, that is.

So that’s where the room is at for now. Next up we’ll chat furniture and lighting, then we’re installing some curtains to hide the ugly water heater and water softener!

Have you ever finished a big DIY project, only to realize you didn’t love the end result?

 

Paint it Black

Remember when I showed you guys this super cute vanity we scored on Craigslist? And how it finally (!) filled up that empty space in our bedroom?

Well, I hate it.

Seriously. I’ve considered burning it multiple times.

I even had a nightmare about it the other night.

But, let me explain. I was seriously in love with this guy when we bought it, and I couldn’t wait to get it painted and back in the room. Corey and I waffled back and forth for weeks about what we wanted to do with it,and we finally ended up settling on black. It’s a neutral color (which was important, since our wall color is so bold) but it’s a little more fun and bold than a plain white or gray. We don’t have any black in the room yet, and I’m a strong believer that every room should have a bit of black in it…so black it was.

But, there was a problem.

As you can see, the vanity was still just plain wood and hadn’t been painted. There was a very thin coat of poly on it, but nothing else. I decided to forgo sanding it (a step I skip any chance I can get), and go straight to priming and painting. Only, when I painted it the top looked terrible. Apparently it was a thicker coat of poly than I thought, because it completely messed up the texture of the paint and looked completely ridiculous.

So, I had Corey sand it down for me so I could repaint it.

And when I did? The paint cracked.

SERIOUSLY.

This has only ever happened to me once, and I knew what I did wrong that time (put a top coat on before the paint had dried fully). But this time? There was nothing on the vanity, it had been sanded and cleaned, and there was absolutely no reason for it to crack.

This was the first time I considered burning it.

But I forged ahead, Corey sanded it down again, and I gave it another shot.

It looked much better the second time around – I thought we had finally found victory! Until…the next day when Corey (who was genuinely trying to be helpful) sprayed another coat on the top.

For those of you who don’t know, if you wait more than an hour-ish after painting with spray paint, you should wait at least 48 hours before painting again…or it will crack

And crack it did.

(This would be the second time I wanted to burn it.)

I sanded it down (yet again) and tried one last time.

It didn’t crack this time, but there are still some spots on the top with a really weird texture. I have no idea why. I’ve just given up.

But, if you don’t look at the top too closely, it still looks cute!

I love the black in the room, and I am SO happy with how it looks in this space. I just try really hard to ignore the weird parts on the top…because I don’t know how to fix ‘em and I’m just mad about it. And when I’m mad at things, I ignore them. It doesn’t make the problem go away, but it sure does make me feel better.

I added some fun fabric to the stool (which gave us ZERO problems, by the way) and decided that the vanity itself needed a little bit more fun – so I grabbed a test pot of coral paint from Lowe’s and painted the inside of the vanity for a fun surprise. It’s not something most people will see, but I know it’s there and it makes me smile.

And, with the addition of some super cute flower pulls (that I’ve been lusting after for months but Corey hasn’t let me use them yet because they’re “too girly”), I think I’m hating this vanity a little bit less now.

Maybe once I live with it a little longer I’ll even come to like it.

Maybe.

Have you had any projects give you a really hard time lately?

An In-Progress Backyard Update

So, I’ve had plans for oh, I don’t know, about a month now to finish up this project and actually share it with you guys. But every time I think I’m almost done, another problem pops up, and I’m finally at the point of throwing my hands in the air and calling it quits.

Don’t you hate it when that happens?

So, I’m sharing this project today even though it is oh-so-far from completion, partially because I’m just sick of waiting around to finish it, and partially just for the sake of keeping it real – things don’t always go perfectly for us, and sometimes we have tiny little projects that we think are no big deal that end up taking us months (and months and months) without ever getting completed.

Let’s start at the beginning, shall we?

Ever since we moved into this house, I’ve absolutely hated the ivy that grows on either side of the back door. It takes over the plants back there, it grows so quickly and so widespread that it seems to be invading every inch of my backyard, and I’ve even seen it try to grow into the house on more than one occasion (I’m not joking).

This ivy was ugly, annoying, and I finally reached my tipping point with it one day this summer, shortly before we left on our cruise. So, I pulled it all up. I had tried this many times before in the year that we’ve lived here, but this time I was determined, so I pulled it up from the roots as well as I could and figured that surely the ivy couldn’t survive how roughly I’d treated it and it wouldn’t grow back.

Hah.

When our vacation was over I came home and stepped outside, only to immediately be assaulted by a mass of ivy that had grown back with a vengeance.

Y’all – that was after a week and a half. SERIOUSLY. It had even grown out into the patio and was threatening to strangle one of our chairs. This stuff was angry.

At this point, I finally decided if I couldn’t get rid of the ivy, I was going to embrace it. It obviously wasn’t going anywhere, so I might as well make it look pretty, right? So, Corey and I headed out to Lowe’s in search of a trellis to give the ivy somewhere productive to grow. We found this great, super cheap wire trellis for about $3.00 a pop, and we figured it was exactly what we needed. We could make it in the exact size and configuration we wanted, and it was way cheaper than the (admittedly prettier, but not adjustable) wooden trellises. Plus, we figured that our ivy was so thick that once it grew up the wall you wouldn’t be able to see the trellis anyways! While we were there, we grabbed a couple of extra little ivy plants so that we could fill in the areas that didn’t already have ivy – the plan was to cover this entire window with a trellis and ivy, as well as a small section on the other side of our back door.

The trellis itself was incredibly easy to install – we just screwed the posts into the wall and wrapped the wire around them in a a grid pattern. In about 20 minutes we were completely done with it!

Annnnnnd….this is where I run out of pictures of the process. Why? Well, when we got to the side of the door with all of the boxwoods, we decided that it was going to be too tough to get the trellis installed and then get the ivy behind the boxwoods (it was all planted in front of the plants, right next to the concrete) without just pulling them up, and we hated them anyways, so we decided to get rid of them. Only…as I finished cutting down the last one and was getting ready to dig up the roots, this happened.

….Yeah. Apparently we had a leak (our sprinkler system controls are right there) and we had no idea. Guess it was a good thing we were digging up the boxwoods? We had to call someone from the company who makes our sprinkler system to come out and fix it (and since it was a Saturday evening we got to pay a super fun “emergency” fee), and we figured that would be the end of our problems.

Yeah right.

About a week later, all of the mud had finally dried out enough for us to deal with it again, so Corey headed outside to dig up all of the roots from the boxwoods so that we could finally get our ivy planted. Since we had completely demolished the ivy that was already planted there in the process of dealing with the first leak (or so we thought) we also picked up a couple more ivy plants, since we had already spent so much time and effort on this project. We weren’t about to give up now!

Well, while Corey was outside digging up roots….another leak happened. I won’t point any fingers or say it was anyone’s fault, but let’s just say I’m pretty sure that leak wasn’t there before Corey started digging. So…we got to put in another emergency call! The guy came out, fixed the leak, and we, once again, thought that was the end of it.

Until I went outside the next morning and found MORE WATER in the hole where the “fixed” leak was. Apparently there was a THIRD LEAK due to an improperly installed faucet on the side of our house. We were determined not to pay any more insane fees, and Corey was pretty sure we could fix this one ourselves, so we had my dad come out to the house and help Corey seal it up (there were two faucets side-by-side, which seemed a bit overkill to us, anyways).

And that’s where we are right now. The hole from the third leak hasn’t been filled in yet because it’s still dripping ever-so-slightly, and we want to make sure to get it completely under control before we fill the hole back in and plant the rest of the ivy. And, yes, I realize that our dog-chewed blinds look completely trashy and ridiculous, we just haven’t gotten around to replacing them yet. Ranger gets a bit…anxious while we’re outside mowing the lawn.

The ivy that we bought from Lowe’s seems to be much more high-maintenance than the stuff we already had growing, and we’re having a hard time getting it to actually…grow. It’s still pretty much the exact same size it was when we planted it about a month ago, but we’re hoping with some patience it will actually start climbing. The ivy that was already there (that we were sure would never come back after that first leak) has started to pop back up, so we plan on trying to transplant it while it’s still manageable enough to move.

On the other side, we’ve got another Lowe’s ivy that isn’t growing, as well as some transplanted ivy that seems to be doing okay. It’s not growing as well as it was before, but it’s also not taking over the little bush (and my chairs) anymore, so I won’t complain.

Another little update back here is that we got rid of the hibiscus trees we picked up on clearance from Lowe’s a few months back. We could never get them to stand up straight, and they required daily watering, or else they got cranky. Frankly, I get along much better with plants that thrive on neglect, so we finally realized that it just wasn’t a good match and decided to replace them. We picked up some little succulents from our local grocery store (hopefully they’ll grow a bit and fill out the planter!) and a sage bush, both of which need lots of sun and very little water – perfect for us!

So, that’s where we are in our backyard right now. It’s still looking like a hot mess, but I have hopes that we’ll get everything sorted out soon and it can start more like a backyard and less like a construction zone. On the bright side, the back patio is much less crowded without those big, imposing boxwoods!

Have you ever had one of those projects that just goes wrong at every turn? Any suggestions on how to make our ivy grow? Anyone else have a million leaks in their yard?

An Epic Light Fail

Yup – I’m here to share another big fat failure. Corey and I have been lucky enough to be successful in the majority of our DIY endeavors so far, but this time was definitely an exception to that rule.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let me back up.

Corey and I have been on a mission in the last 9 months that we’ve lived in this home to get rid of all the awful light fixtures in it. There isn’t a single one worth saving in the whole house (they’re all awful!) and we’re big lighting people so it’s important to us that we get rid of all the ugly ones. We’ve succeeded in our bedroom and the guest room and made the awful dining room light something we could live with until we’re able to replace it. We also put in some temporary lighting in the kitchen right after we moved in (and gave one of the lights a quick makeover a few weeks ago) – a couple of the worst offenders were in the kitchen and breakfast nook, so the weekend we moved in we ran to Ikea to grab a couple of cheap-o lights until we found something we really loved.

We finally struck inspiration for what we wanted over the tulip table in the breakfast nook recently when we decided on a big, orb-shaped light that would make a big statement. We didn’t have anything specific in mind, but we knew we wanted something large and with a ton of texture. A bit of research landed us on this awesome DIY project:

(Via The Design Pages)

It’s gorgeous, has some fun texture, and is supposedly super cheap and easy to make yourself. We were totally sold – we knew this would work perfectly in our breakfast nook. All we needed was some twine, a beach ball, and some Mod Podge. Easy, right?

We decided we wanted to make ours larger than most of the ones we’d seen. After all, the goal was a giant, statement-making light fixture, so we grabbed the biggest beach ball we could find and decided to give it a go.

For perspective, allow me to remind you that is a 68 pound dog sitting next to the beach ball.

It was messy, frustrating, and incredibly tedious to wrap the entire beach ball with twine and get it to actually stay on the ball without sliding right off (especially since we had rubbed the whole ball down with Vaseline to prevent it from sticking once it was dry), but with some team work and quite a bit of patience we managed to get it done over a couple of nights. We had to break it up into two nights because if we tried to wrap the bottom of the ball there was no way it would stay on – so we did the top half, let it dry, and then came back the night night to flip it over and do the other side. It all seemed to be working really well and we got really excited about how amazing our light was going to look.

Getting ready to do the second half of the ball

Once we finished up, we let it dry for several nights (we wanted to make sure it was good and dry!) and then we excitedly pulled it out of the garage where it was drying to remove the beach ball. I poked a hole in the ball and we watched as it deflated, gently pulling the twine away from the ball to make sure it didn’t stick.

Only, about halfway through, we realized something was very, very wrong.

Yeeeeeeeeeeah. The twine didn’t stay in its form at all and completely collapsed in on itself as the air went out of the ball. We think that our problem was that we chose a ball that was entirely too large for the twine to be able to hold itself up, and we also didn’t use nearly enough twine to make it sturdy – but at the point where we stopped wrapping we had run out of twine and patience, so there was no way we were getting any more on there!

We briefly considered trying again with a smaller ball (and more twine), but we decided it had been entirely too much work (and way more frustrating than we thought it would be) so we let our dream of a giant twine light fixture go.

Luckily, we ended up finding a pretty good replacement that was way easier (and didn’t involve much effort on our part) that I’ll be sharing with y’all later this week. Trust me, it’s worth the wait!

Tell me about your last epic DIY failure!

Pssssst – I’m over at Married Up With Wine today talking about vacation styles. If you wanna read about mine and Corey’s vacation of choice, pop on over to check it out!

A Succulent Centerpiece

Oh my goodness.

Y’all have no idea how long this post has been in the works. This project has been nothing but a big, giant headache and I am oh so glad it’s over.

But it was kind of totally worth it.

Mmm…beautiful.

But, I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s back up to the very beginning, shall we?

Corey and I decided that we needed some plants in our home, and we quickly agreed that succulents were the way to go. We’re maybe just a little bit obsessed with them, and we thought they would be a great way to bring some much-needed color into the dining room.

So, succulents were decided upon – now we just needed to figure out how to display them. We went through a bunch of different ideas, from several small planters across the table, to several small planters on a large silver platter, to one giant planter that would cover the length of the table. Finally, we landed on the one-giant-planter idea, simply because it was almost impossible to find a platter that was both narrow enough and long enough to fit what we wanted. We didn’t like the idea of several smaller vessels for the succulents, because we want to be able to easily move the centerpiece when we have guests over and are serving dinner.

Once we decided on the idea of a long, narrow planter, all that was left was to build it, right? Sounds simple. Except not so much. We went out one day a few weeks ago and excitedly bought all of the materials, thinking we could knock out this project that weekend and share it on Monday. Famous last words, right?

We chose MDF because it’s cheap and relatively easy to work with, and we brought it home to get to work. We had measured out about how long we wanted it just based on how much of the table we wanted to fill. So, once Corey made the first cut, he brought it inside so we could make sure we were happy with how it sat on the table.

We liked the length and the height, so Corey finished up the planter, and soon we had a giant planter ready to be painted.

Because we were working with MDF, which is even less water friendly than most wood, we knew we would have to do something to seal the planter from the dirt and water that we’d be filling it with. After a quick trip to Lowes, we chose a pruning seal spray that promised a waterproof barrier.

A couple of quick coats later and about a week of drying time (seriously, this stuff takes FOREVER to dry), and we were good to go – or so we thought.

Corey wanted to paint the planter yellow, and even though I wasn’t sure I loved the idea of a bright color that would potentially compete with the gorgeous succulents inside of it, I consented and let him have what he wanted (I win most of these debates so I figured it was high time I let him have his way).

Unfortunately, I don’t have any photos of the planter in all its yellow glory, because that night is when we hit the first (and largest) roadblock of this project.

You see, we wanted to make sure that the sealer was totally waterproof. It’s going to be sitting on our very nice dining room table that we love dearly, and so we needed to be sure it wouldn’t damage it. We figured the best way to test it out was by filling the planter with an inch or two of water and letting it sit for about an hour to make sure none leaked through.

Yeah…about that.

When we came back outside an hour or so later and found a wet spot on the floor, I knew we were in trouble. Not only had it not sealed well in one spot (though, I have to admit, it’s impressive that it was only one spot!) but the water had soaked through the MDF and created a huge, swollen water mark on the side.

I might have cried. Just a little bit.

We chose to step away from the project for a few days because it was making both of us pretty frustrated at this point (which would be why I don’t have any photos of the defective planter), so we left the whole thing alone for a week or so. When we were ready to talk about it again to figure out a solution, we realized that we still had enough wood to build a second planter, it would just have to be an inch narrower than the first one was – which was actually perfect, since we both thought the first one was a bit too wide.

So, Corey got to work building a second planter.

The biggest difference between the two (apart from the width) is the fact that the bottom was inset on the first one (meaning not as many raw MDF edges) and on this one we weren’t able to do that.

We painted it yellow and thought we’d be able to plant our succulents and be finished the next day (if you’re keeping track, this is approximately two weeks after we actually started the project).

And then we brought it inside.

Raw MDF edges soak up paint like nothing else, and that became really obvious once we got it in the room. The bottom edge was a wildly different color from the rest of the planter, and the bright color highlighted every single imperfection in the planter, making it look cheap and homemade.

We weren’t pleased, to say the least.

We talked it over a bit more and I suggested scrapping the idea of yellow and going with white instead. It wasn’t a bright pop of color like Corey had wanted, but I knew that white would do a much better job of hiding the imperfections in the planter, and would have the added benefit of helping the planter blend in a bit better and letting the eye be drawn to the succulents inside of it instead. He wasn’t thrilled but he agreed with my points, so it was settled and we decided to repaint it (again).

This time, I also took an extra step that I can’t believe I didn’t take the first time – primer. MDF doesn’t accept paint very well, so primer is absolutely vital when you’re working with it. For some reason it totally slipped my mind the first time around, and I honestly think it would have helped our raw edge problem (but not the problem of highlighting the imperfections).

We also took an extra step this time and lined the planter with a drop cloth (the plastic type used for painting) in addition to the pruning seal.

All Corey did was staple in two (yes, two – we aren’t taking any chances this time!) layers of the liner into the planter, taking care to make sure it wouldn’t be too visible once we added in the plants.

And finally (finally!) we were ready to plant.

We ordered a set of 36 succulents off Amazon, and they had been sitting around waiting to be planted for entirely too long (seriously, they’re looking pretty sad), and we also grabbed a cactus from Lowes to bring in something with a little more height.

To make sure we planted them in a configuration we liked, we started by setting them all into the planter, arranging them so that there weren’t too many large ones grouped together, and that there was a nice variation of types throughout the planter.

Once we were happy with the arrangement, it was time to plant!

And then after almost a month (seriously) of waiting, planning, working, and more waiting, it was time to put my centerpiece into its new home.

 

LOVE. Love, love, love.

I’m so incredibly happy with how it turned out, and now we’re just crossing our fingers hoping that some of our dying little succulents will make a valiant recovery.

And I’m pretty sure we’re never going to try to build a planter again.

Have you ever tried to build something, only to have it fail miserably?