Upgrading Our China Cabinet

When we bought this china cabinet for out kitchen a while back, we were so excited to finally have some extra storage in our kitchen. It only ran us $40 (plus the cost of paint) and it has served us well.

But. When we were decorating for Christmas, we needed a place to put the gold bookcase from the living room (since it sits where our tree goes), and we figured the kitchen was the best place for it. So we temporarily (or so we thought) relocated the china cabinet to the garage for the season and moved the gold bookcase into the kitchen.

The problem was, the Christmas season ended and I didn’t really want things to return to the way they were. I liked the bottom half of the china cabinet exactly where it was in the garage, and I liked it a hell of a lot more than I had liked it in the kitchen. I had been itching for something new in the kitchen for a while now, and this seemed like the perfect opportunity. So, Corey and I got rid of the top half of the hutch (we just tossed it out on the curb and a few hours later it had found a new home with a neighbor!) and let the bottom half stay where it was. We moved the gold bookcase back to where it belongs, and began the search for a new china cabinet.

I’ve been half-heartedly looking for something for several months now, and have been super disappointed with the lack of choices. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money, and we didn’t want something super traditional or boring. We’re pretty picky.

But apparently, it was meant to be. Just a couple of days after Christmas I did another search, determined to find something and I stumbled on the absolute perfect china cabinet. For $100. And I knew right then I had to make it mine.

So I did.

It’s significantly bigger than the old one, which I adore, and I’m actually loving the wood tones in here – it ties into the breakfast nook chairs so nicely.

We bought it with the knowledge that it would probably need a bit of work, but we have every intention of just living with it for a while before we make any alterations. For one, the bigger size means that our light switch for the breakfast nook is covered up. We don’t use it very often, so it’s not a huge deal – for now, we have a little plastic hanger sitting on top of the hutch that we use to reach behind it and flip the light on if needed. Long term? We’ll cut a hole in the back of the hutch so it’s easily accessed. We’ll have to open the cabinet to get to the light, but since we use it so rarely, it won’t be a bother.

There are also some spots on the side of the cabinet that are pretty banged up – it’s not a pretty look, and of course it just so happens to be on the side you can see all the time (if you look closely, you can kind of see them in the above photo – one near the top and two on the bottom half). Annoying. We haven’t figured out exactly what we’ll do to fix them, but I think we’ll start off with one of those stain pens and see if it will at least camouflage it. They don’t bother me too much for now – I never mind a piece that looks well-loved, so I’m hoping that the pen will be enough to make it blend in and look okay.

The back of the cabinet it (obviously) the biggest problem. Ew, right? The pattern and color are super traditional and, um, ugly, and I am definitely not a fan. We’ll eventually replace the entire back (it has a small hole in it anyways) and will probably paint it a fun color or something, but I don’t want to do anything that permanent until we’ve lived with it for a while and are positive we know what we want. But I also cannot live with that terrible pattern and color in my kitchen, so I had to do something about it stat.

Enter my leftover Christmas wrapping paper. Seriously. I measured the back, cut a piece of wrapping paper to size, and used some double-sided tape to toss it back there to hide the ugly. It’s not a perfect (or a long term) solution by any means, but it was free and I think it makes a huge difference in updating the entire piece. And now I don’t cringe every time I look at it. Which is a nice perk.

I’m obsessed with our new china cabinet, and I am so excited about how much more storage it gives us than the last one. Plus, we’ve still got the bottom of the old one the garage holding most of the same stuff it held before, so we even have some empty space in this one – which is definitely going to be helpful with all the new baby stuff in our house!

Have you upgraded any pieces in your house lately? How about some temporary fixes to make things tolerable until you’re able to fix them the right way?

A New Nightstand

Corey and I have been talking a lot lately about the direction we want our bedroom to go in.

At this point, the vast majority of the stuff in this room will not be here long term. We want to upgrade to a king-sized bed, we desperately need new curtains, we’re hoping to track down a fabulous new duvet cover, and those tiny little white nightstands are just not working for us anymore.

So, needless to say, there’s a lot of change on the horizon for our bedroom. Basically the only thing that will stay the same is the wall color, and I can’t even guarantee that for sure.

But, all in good time. We’re trying really hard not to rush into any decisions, because we’d like to re-do our bedroom with things that will actually last us for a long time, not things we’ll get sick of in two years. So, we’re taking our time and making sure to choose classic pieces and colors that we can live with for a very long time.

Starting with this new dresser-turned-nightstand for my side of the bed.

Drool.

I’ve been looking for a small dresser to use as a nightstand for several months now. I knew exactly what I wanted and was extremely picky when browsing, so it’s taken quite a long time of casual Craigslist perusing before actually finding something worth my time. The hardest part was that I wanted a wood dresser, not a painted one, which is next to impossible with the painted-furniture-craze that has overtaken the world right now. I mean, I love a good painted piece, but there’s a limit to what I can tolerate, and my bedroom has already exceeded it, so I needed to bring some wood back in, stat.

We found this guy for $35 (SERIOUSLY) and snatched it up as quickly as we could. When we got it home, we realized that it was so cheap because there was quite a bit of damage to the top. There were a couple of very large water spots, and the whole thing was looking pretty beat up.

I wasn’t too worried, though – I’ve seen so many different tutorials all over the internet for restoring wood furniture, so I was pretty eager to try a few of them out. I decided to start with the water stains – I wasn’t sure there was any way I’d make them look any better…they were obviously very deep stains and the wood was damaged enough that it was a completely different texture than the rest of the top.

I’ve heard mayonnaise can work miracles on water stains, though, so I figured I’d give it a shot.

Pretty sure Corey thought I had lost my damn mind when he came in the living room and saw the top of our dresser covered in mayo. I got some serious eye rolls when I told him what I was doing, but I had faith. Everything I’d seen said to let it soak in for a few hours, so I gave it about 5-6 hours before wiping it off.

AND IT WORKED.

Now, it’s not perfect. The wood is still definitely a different color where the stains were, and it is still a different texture. But this is about a million times better than it was before, so I’m not complaining.

I also tried out the vinegar and oil trick I posted about a few weeks ago on Friday Finds – you just take 3 parts oil to 1 part vinegar and rub it all over to restore the finish and get rid of minor scratches.

After a quick rubdown, the whole thing was looking so much better. I never wanted an in-perfect-condition dresser, because the whole idea was to have something that looked a little antique, so this is fantastic for me. I love that it still looks a little worn and old but now instead of looking like a $35 Craigslist dresser, it looks like someone actually cares about it.

Once I had the wood looking all nice and clean, it was time to tackle the drawer pulls. My plan was to do gold ring pulls, but I was a little frustrated to realize that with shipping, it would cost me about $30 to order all six pulls, which would almost double the price of the dresser. I did a little Googling, though, and found a solution I liked much better – a DIY version!

The original tutorial can be found at Sarah M. Dorsay Designs, and I’m amazed at how simple it is yet how much it looks like the real thing. All you’ve got to do is grab some gold cotter pins and beveled washers (we found ours at Ace Hardware) and some gold rings. The tutorial didn’t specify what the gold rings were or where in the store to find them, so we struggled with that a bit – we finally figured out that they were probably brass o-rings used for plumbing, but neither Ace Hardware nor Lowe’s had them in-store. So, we ordered some online (from here) for about a dollar each. It definitely made the overall cost a bit more expensive, but we still saved over half of what we would have paid to get the real deal, so I’m not complaining.

All you have to do to put them together is slide the beveled washer and the o-ring onto the cotter pin, push it all through the hole in your drawer, and add a regular washer to the back – then you use some pliers to fold out the pin and hold everything in place, and you’re good to go!

I love how easy (and cheap) it was to make these, and I think they look fantastic.

So, obviously now that we have this little dresser here a few other things have changed in the room. This is the not-so-pretty part of the post, though, because the whole room is in a bit of a transition phase. Let me show you what I mean.

This corner is where we had always wanted to put this chair. I think it works well here, but I don’t think anything else in this corner works. We have the old nightstand sitting here for now because we are holding onto it until we replace Corey’s nightstand (so we can Craigslist ‘em together), but eventually I’d like to get a small round table to sit next to the chair.

I’m not sure what will happen with the mirror – I love (LOVE) having a floor length mirror in our room, so I imagine it will definitely stay in here long-term, but I’m still playing around with how I want it to look. We could leave it leaning, or we could actually hang it, we could leave it black, paint it, or just add some detail to the wood to brighten it up a bit. I have no idea where we’ll land on this one, but I’m taking my time before deciding! And, of course, the turtle shell and rhino will probably have to leave this corner and find a new home elsewhere. I’d like to find some pretty art to hang above the chair eventually.

This is the other big change. Ew, right? We moved Corey’s dresser downstairs to turn it into a media console for the garage, so he’s been living out of these plastic drawers for the last few weeks. We moved my dresser over here and now Corey and I are sharing it (my new nightstand fits some of what was in there, but obviously not all of it) while we save up for a better solution. The long-term plan here is to fill this wall with tall wardrobes from Ikea so we can ditch the dresser completely. Our closet isn’t very functional and it would be great to have some more storage space in here, so we’re excited to get some big wardrobes with lots of shelving and hanging space so we can spread our clothes out a little more. I also think it’ll be great for our tall ceilings – we haven’t really taken advantage of them yet and this room could use some height! But, before we tackle that we want to get rid of the carpet in here, so it’s just one step at a time. We’ll get there eventually.

So, what’s next in here? We’re currently on the lookout for a good replacement for Corey’s nightstand, and we desperately need to deal with the curtain situation. Hopefully after that we can start thinking about the flooring and replacing our bed – with three dogs that like to be in bed with us, a queen gets just a little bit crowded!

What’s your nightstand situation like? Any brilliant ideas for what we can do with that awkward chair corner?

Adding in Some Red

I feel like I should preface this post with a warning. This project may be sad for some of you.

It was for me.

Don’t get me wrong – I like the finished product, and I think it looks great in the room.

But this project wasn’t my decision. It was Corey’s.

Allow me to explain – Corey’s favorite color is red. He loves it. But, um, red doesn’t fit in all that well with most of the other colors we use in our house, and it can be tough to find good red decor items that aren’t way too modern or way too country, so it’s just not a color we’ve really used in our home.

But now that we have the garage, and I promised Corey a long time ago that he would have decorating control over the room, it’s time for me to give in and bring some red into the house. The garage isn’t necessarily a “man-cave” (I hate that phrase!) but it is more Corey’s room than mine, so I want him to get to choose most of what goes into it (within reason, of course…).

So, that brings me to the project.

Remember this guy?

Yeeeeah. You know what’s coming, don’t you?

Corey wanted to paint it red.

I kind of wanted to cry.

But I promised him. So I let him do it.

Sigh.

(Obviously the photos aren’t nearly as good because the lighting in here is beyond sketchy right now and I haven’t figured out how to work with it, and the photos aren’t edited by someone who knows what they were doing…which means I edited them myself. So, that’s not helping matters either.)

It looks good. I like the color, it works with the black walls.

But I wish it was still yellow.

(Still haven’t fixed the crooked light, still a ton of random crap lining the walls…we’ll get there!)

In other news, the room is coming together pretty nicely – we brought in some other red touches with some new throw blankets, and once we get the room to a point where it’s a little more put together, I’m sure we’ll add a few other touches here and there. It obviously still needs a lot of work.

So what’s left in the garage at this point? We need to finish hanging the curtains, finish the dresser-turned-entertainment-center, add trim around the window unit and the door, and possibly add a second ceiling light. Oh, and obviously, we need to find a new spot for all the clutter on the edges of the room and add some cute accessories and art so it’s not so bare-looking. And long term, we’ll add some new flooring and some baseboards/crown molding.

And that’s where we’re at! We’re still loving having this room to hang out in, and it gets used on a daily basis. Thankfully, we haven’t stopped using the living room (which I worried might happen), though I’m pretty sure Corey wouldn’t mind it if we never watched television in there again. I guess our regular television can’t compete with a 96″ screen.

What do you think? Are you a red fan, or do you miss the yellow as much as I do?

 

We Have Furniture!

It’s time for another garage update ! And, yes, I think I’m just going to stick to calling it the garage. I’ve tried a few other things, but they just don’t stick. So, garage it is! Remember how last week we chatted about the painted concrete floor (that I’m NOT in love with), and our beautiful rugs (that I AM in love with)?

Well, once we got the floor painted and the rugs in, it was time to fill the room up with some furniture. We started off with the Kivik sofa from Ikea.

(Note: I have not yet learned how to take photos in this dark room, and the lighting isn’t finished yet, so bear with me as we finish up the lighting and I figure out how to take good photos in here!)

I know a lot of people complain about Ikea furniture, especially on home decor blogs, but I’m just gonna go ahead and say I love it anyways. This couch is beautiful, insanely comfortable, and CHEAP. Can’t beat it. We opted to go with their plain ol’ beige cover – there were several more textured options that we liked a lot better, but they were also much pricier. The cover that we got was on sale for almost 50% off, which means that we saved an insane amount of money and ended up spending less than $900 on this entire (GIANT) couch.

And doesn’t it look good?!

We were originally going to get the loveseat/chaise combination (it’s slightly smaller than this one), but in the end, the sofa/chaise combination was less than $100 more, and we liked it a lot more. Plus, more room to stretch out!

I like the beige color in the room, and the fabric is insanely soft. We’ll probably eventually upgrade to one of their nicer, textured options – just because we like them better, but for now this is great.

Next it was time to add in a coffee table. I’ve been drooling over the wood carved coffee table from West Elm ever since they released it, so it was a no-brainer for us to choose it.

I love that it’s nice and small so it gives us some extra floor space, and we desperately need some more textures and pattern in this room, so it layers right in.

We’ll eventually probably bring down the chair that’s currently in our reading room, but we didn’t want to leave that room completely empty (and I actually use it as it is now!) so that will wait until we eventually turn that room into a nursery. For now, I think we’ve got more than enough seating!

As you can see, we also replaced the old lights with a much cuter option, though it hangs crooked. Annoying! We haven’t figured out exactly how we’re going to fix it yet, but we’ll come up with something. I love the shadows it makes on the ceiling, though!

And, finally, we added a giant projector and dresser to hold all of the components (as some of you who follow me on Instagram may have already seen).

I can give more details on the whole setup and how it works later if anyone is interested, but for now let’s just look. This is actually the dresser that used to be in our bedroom as Corey’s dresser, but we’ve never planned on it being in there long-term, and we think it works nicely in here. We still have a few finishing touches to do on it (as you can see), but once it’s all put together, we won’t have to see any of the annoying components and it’ll hold some of our movies and video games as well. Love!

So, that’s where we’re at right now with the garage. It’s still a mess and needs lots of work, but it’s starting to come together, and we’ve definitely been using it a lot! Next up we need to chat about the curtains we’re adding to hide the water heater and water softener, then we have a few more furniture pieces to talk about, and hopefully we’ll get around to accessorizing and adding in the finishing touches sometime over the next few weeks.

But, since we haven’t gotten to any of that yet, here’s a last look at what it’s looking like as of right now:

I know, it’s a hot mess, but it’ll get there eventually!

What projects have you been working on lately?

 

 

 

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?