I am not the family artist. That title definitely goes to my little sister who has the real talent, but I do enjoy abstract painting on occasion. Well, really, I like having the finished product hung in our home so we display something more personal than a store-bought art piece.
Ages ago I bought a huge canvas at Michael’s to paint and hang in the hallway. I stumbled across it when clearing out the basement during one of our COVID home projects, and I figured if I can’t find time to paint when stuck at home for months, then I’m never going to do it. So, one weekend afternoon, I dragged the canvas and art supplies outside and got to work.
I didn’t really have a plan on what I wanted besides the paint colors. We had leftover house paint from rooms we’ve redecorated and sample cans for rooms we plan to redo. So, after priming, I added the grays and greens. The splatters were integrated by flicking the paintbrush at the canvas. I started to see the image as different generations of our families, so I added the subtle A in silver around the middle for ancestors and the gold lines to separate the main colors. The five overlapping circles represent our family (including the pup!), which I made by dipping the top of a red solo cup in ivory paint used for our interior trim.
Mr. 7 year old pointed out that my initials in the corner look like SS but also S5, so I said the S5 is for our five family members. As Bob Ross would say, it was a “happy accident.”
Now the canvas is hanging in our hallway. It’s my Friday Fav today, but it makes me smile to see it there every day.
I did it! Our guest room makeover has been 99% done for ages, but I finally got my act together this weekend and finished. (No, Mom, I wasn’t galavanting around town during a pandemic to procure everything noted in this post.)
Here is a before picture from when we moved in. It was a blank canvas. The previous owners said they had used the room as either an office or exercise area, but we wanted to make it a bedroom to give guests access to the private bath next door.
When we first moved in, we immediately changed out the pink carpet for a gray and changed out the brass doorknobs for brushed nickel. A couple of years ago we had all of the windows in the house replaced. Then, my husband replaced the contractor-grade light fixture and upgraded all of the electrical outlets. When we had the rest of the basement repainted, this room’s walls changed from a muddy beige to a light blue. Finally, it was my turn to decorate! Here’s the reveal.
We had the furniture already, so that was an easy addition. Here’s a rundown of where I found everything else.
Relax pillow, lamps, and pictures – Kirkland’s (We actually had the pair of flower canvases from when we staged our townhouse for its sale. My husband was the genius who thought to put them here. Love! Of course, I bought all of this stuff so long ago that they don’t appear for sale online anymore.)
I’m particularly fond how the far wall came out. You can see what we’re hiding with art and curtains. I saw the suggestion on HGTV years ago to use full-length curtains for small windows to make the room feel more balanced and taller. I love it here! Of course, it looks strange when you open the curtains, but that’s not often necessary in this room used mostly just to sleep in.
I particularly like the use of the art to hide the electrical panel. First, I like it’s message, especially since our parents use this room most often and are also responsible for this house full of people I love. Second, it is hung with command strips for easy removal whenever without worrying about punching nails in the wall near electrical lines. And last, the art alone wasn’t quite tall enough to cover the electrical panel, so I had to DIY extra pieces. Ages ago I picked up supplies from Michael’s to add the greenery and hand make a bow to finish the look.
The opposite wall has my photo collage – my final project to complete the room. I found these inexpensive 8×10 frames at Bed Bath and Beyond for $10-$15 for four frames months ago. Recently, one beautiful Spring day, Mr. 7 year old and I shot some photos outside our home. (My husband loves that I snuck in a photo of his car in the reflection of the bottom left corner image.) Costco printed these images for $2 per print. We finished it off with some art from each kid, and with a little math and measuring, TA DA!
This couch is from Ikea, and we were once looking to get rid of it thinking we didn’t have a place for it anymore. My strong desire not to carry is up the stairs landed it in the guest room where it fits nicely. It’s largely used for storing guest luggage. There is an empty wooden dresser beside the couch with a TV and jewelry holder.
There’s another plastic dresser hidden in the closet beside the bed that holds extra sheets, spare toiletries, and items our folks leave here between visits. Along with the extra dresser, the closet stores extra blankets, a laundry basket (that the kids have stolen for this picture so they can hide in it), and hangers.
And that’s it! Now I just need everyone to get and stay well so that we can have visitors again.
Another one of our COVID projects was to update our deck. We’ve been needing to power wash and stain it for years, and there’s no excuse for ignoring it now! My husband had previously procured a power washer as well as a stain we liked, so we had everything we needed without having to step foot in a store.
Previously, our deck looked something like this. It was functional, with the grill and patio table and chairs, but it wasn’t giving off the homey vibe I was going for.
With some elbow grease, a bit of cash, and a few plants, we transformed the space.
Here’s how we got from the “before” to the “after.” Once we cleared everything off the deck and power washed, we let it dry before applying our stain. We used semi-transparent cedar colored stain from #1 Deck. Even the kids jumped in to help. Mr. 7 year old was really into it! Mr. 4 year old stuck to digging up the yard. It was actually a fun family project that only took us a couple of hours, which we luckily tackled in spring before it gets hot and humid by 9am.
Afterwards, the boys left me to decorate however I wanted. First, I picked up this portable cabinet from Amazon when it was on huge sale. It’s plastic with a stainless steel top and tons of storage. We use the extra space to store dishes, napkins, and utensils that we’d like to use for entertaining outside so it’s always within reach. I also stashed some sunscreen and bug spray for quick application.
I then tried to reimagine the space. I didn’t want to ditch the table and chairs because we do eat outside fairly regularly in nice weather. They just didn’t need to take over the deck. Once I figured that it’s typically only the four of us eating out there, I took the front two chairs away and pushed the table closer to the railing. This opened up the back portion of the deck to make room for the portable cabinet.
Right by the house now is a two-person seating area using the unused chairs from the table. I shopped our basement and pulled up a vintage wine crate with bocce balls in it for an end table.
I added color to the deck with flowers and a huge container of herbs. I topped off the look with a set of smart colored lights from Costco that work with Alexa (a.k.a., the machine Mr. 4 year old sometimes calls mom). They have a bunch of pre-designed settings as well as the option for customized colors all set up on a timer.
I thought of adding more accessories, like you see in the magazines, but I just don’t see them really holding up in our climate. I have visions of an outdoor carpet becoming moldy or damaging the base of the deck. I love the large iron lanterns that are often placed along stairs or on top of patio tables, but I haven’t seen any that will withstand hours of direct sun or sitting water after a rain.
In the end, I’m really happy with the look we have now. We’ve already had several family meals there, and I’ve sipped a few coffees in private in the early hours on the deck too. I’m looking forward to having friends and family enjoy it with us in the future.
Once I had preschool-aged kids, I became interested in having a family command center. For details on how I designed the command center, check out this post.
In this post, I’ll walkthrough our family command center and how we use it. It is a staple in our home that’s used daily.
I knew I wanted our command center in the kitchen near the door we use to enter and exit the home, but space was limited. My only option was a narrow but tall space on the side of our kitchen cabinets.
The focal point of the wall is the monthly calendar where each family member’s activities are tracked. Every family member, including our pup, gets a personalized color on the calendar. I like filling it out once a month because it is a mechanism for me to plan ahead. I can see what evenings will be jam packed, so I’ll prep an easy dinner. Or, I’ll see that we have a weekend free to invite friends over or tackle a home project.
Below the calendar is a place for files and folders. I currently keep four folders here, but I have flexibility to change it up. Our receipts are dumped into one folder. I clean them out about once a month, after the credit card bill is paid. Another folder is our collection of coupons and gift cards. I’ve been known to grab the whole folder and bring it with us before we head out shopping or out to eat. I always have good stashes of coupons in there. The third folder is for documents that need to be filed. These documents are typically our opened mail that needs to be filed away in our home office. The final folder is a collection of ideas for gifts to purchase for family and friends. For instance, if I read an article in a magazine recommending the best books for preteens, I may rip the page out and plop it in my Ideas for Gifts folder.
Our command center also includes an 8.5″ by 11″ picture frame. I’m currently using it to show our family’s winter fun list — a bunch of activities we want to do as a family during the holiday and cold season. We check them off as we do them. With a glass frame, we can just wipe off the whiteboard marker whenever we want.
What I love about the frame, though, is that it gives me versatility because I can display whatever I want in it. A few years ago, after we’d just put the command center up, I put our meal plan up there. Nowadays, I don’t need to post our meal plan. Instead, we use the Cozi app to meal plan (and plan other things). My love for the free Cozi app is worthy of an entirely new post.
Below the folders and winter fun list are our three “bins.” My husband and I each get a small bin to store our wallets, sunglasses, keys, etc. that we want before we run out the door. The middle bin is miscellaneous stuff, like outgoing mail and the kids’ sunglasses.
Below our bins are two clipboards, one for each kid. School and daycare papers (like contracts, curriculum information, etc.) are readily available. On top, I display something applicable to the kids. When they were little, it was sticker charts for going to the bathroom or trying new foods. Now that they’re in school, they have checklists detailing what they need to do to get ready for school and what to do when they get home.
So that’s the meat of our command center and what we use to function daily. However, I had some more space at the top and bottom of the wall to add some extras. Down below is a blank whiteboard that the kids draw on or play with magnets. Right now, their personal goals for 2020 are there. My first grader is making goals in school, and the preschooler didn’t want to be left out.
Up above is our decorative S for our family name and framed list of our family mantras. Here again, for the family mantras, I just created a PowerPoint slide that I printed and placed in a 8.5″ by 11″ frame. It was a fun exercise to think about what we want to focus on teaching our boys.
Well, that’s it. We make a lot happen in a small space, and I love it. It looks nice, it’s functional, and it was relatively easy….and that’s exactly how I roll.