August 16, 2010

The Nursery: Don't Be Such a Baby About It

What gets my heart pounding more than a room to organize and decorate? Just about nothing. So believe me, when my hubby and I found out we'd be parents to a fourth child, I was over-the-top excited about a new room to design. I adore kids' rooms almost as much as I adore the actual kids. Little Miss Louisa was reason enough to celebrate, but her room to decorate was the icing on the cake!

Something I always keep in mind when decorating a child's room is to make the room fit for the child, but also stylish, fresh, and fitting for the rest of the home. Your kid likes Mickey Mouse? Sure, who doesn't? But that doesn't mean you want Mickey all over the curtains in your living room. My advice is to avoid character bedding and decor. After all, kids change favorites about as often as I change my shoes. You don't want to shop for new Transformer bedding next year because Nick doesn't like Superman anymore.

Choose a theme for your youngster's room based on what type of vibe you'd like the room to have. Playful? Soothing? Whimsical? For our youngest daughter's nursery, I knew I wanted a room that exuded style and sophistication. My heart was set on a bedding set featuring icy blues, browns, reds, and a touch of yellow.

Next, build on the theme by selecting colors for walls. Don't be afraid to step out of the box here. Colors for a baby's nursery are not limited to blue and pink. Don't forget about the array of oranges, greens (please, no mint!), soft browns, and yellows. And blue for a girl? I find it refreshing and chic. Looking at the colors in the bedding I had selected for Lulu, I pulled out the blue and yellow to use on the walls, reserving the red and brown for accents in the room decor. Surprise, surprise, in our vast (and I do mean vast) collection of paint, I had the perfect blue and yellow already and set to work painting the wainscoting on the lower half of the walls yellow, saving the blue for the top half. 
Finally, add decor suited to the style of the room. This comes in the form of artwork, blankets, lighting, and toys.

I shopped the house and moved (or rather had my husband and brother-in-law move) an old dresser into Louisa's nursery. After a couple coats of red paint and new knobs, it was ready to hold tiny onesies, adorable cozy warms (my term for footed pajamas), and snuggly socks. I added the beautiful dollhouse from my in-laws to the top of the dresser and flanked it with a pair of clear glass lamps holding shades in a rich brown.

New chandelier wall art completed the area.

Besides the bedding, my one big splurge for the room was the giant zebra rug. It covered our old painted cement floor and gave the room so much warmth.

I painted a small table we already had and added a lamp with a shade in that same rich tone of red. The space above the table was treated to a piece of wall art found at JoAnn's for cheap. You can read more about that project here.

I chose drapes in a gorgeous ruby color and hung them right under the ceiling (rather than the top of the actual window).

We removed the old doors to the closet and added those same drapes, giving the closet area a glam feel.

A cozy table and set of chairs fit perfectly into the corner.

The red rose petal pillow on the child sized chair tied into the sophisticated look of the nursery and will give Louisa a perfect spot for looking at books.

I found these zebra bins at Kohls, and they're perfect for disguising diapers and wipes and all kinds of little baby things.

We shopped the house again and moved two tall bookcases on either side of the changing table. They house books, toys, pretty blankets, and lovies.

 I painted (for maybe the fourth time) a mirror that I bought at Target in college and hung it over the changing table. Wall letters spelling Lulu were spray painted red and adorned with crystals and other pretties before I added ribbon and hung them on the wall.

In my mind, I knew this room was screaming out for a red chandelier. You can read more about that process here to learn how I found a cheap white one at The Home Depot and transformed it into the perfect finishing touch for this nursery gone glam.

And what does Miss Lulu have to say about the finished product?

She's gah-gah over it.

August 10, 2010

What Have You Spray Painted Today?

Spray paint. It's one of the most marvelous inventions ever. Did you know that you can spray paint absolutely anything? That's what I tell people, anyways. I'm presenting for you a list of things I've transformed with spray paint.

When I was designing the nursery for our third daughter, I knew I wanted a red chandelier to match the deep reds in the rest of her room. I didn't even bother searching for the perfect red chandelier because I found this beauty at The Home Depot. White? That's alright. I'll just fix you up with the perfect shade of red.

And then there's the light fixture in our kitchen. Structurally, it was fine, but I didn't care for the tacky silver tone it. So armed with a can of bronze spray paint, I taped the parts of the light that I didn't want to paint and sprayed the rest.

When I spotted a patio set for our porch a few summers ago, I didn't love the yellow metal framework, but I did love the price. So home with us it came, and it was treated to a black coat of spray paint.

My husband's grandfather wanted to get rid of a little bistro set, telling us to sell it at our garage sale and keep the profits for going to the trouble of taking it off his hands. The table and four chairs were in good shape, but the chipping white paint cried out to me for a makeover. A couple cans of black spray paint later (and after being treated to some new upholstery), we have ourselves a cozy little corner for dining alfresco.


Remember the red nursery? Well, the new babe needed red accessories to match her new red chandelier. I found a pretty outdoor wrought iron piece with birdies on sale at JoAnn's and knew it had to come home with me (I have a soft spot for birds). The birds blended right into the piece, so much that they almost went unnoticed. After giving them a coat of red, they popped right out, being on full display where they belong.

To personalize the space even more, I bought white wooden letters and spray painted them to match the room. After adding embellishments like stick-on crystals, pretty pins, and ribbon, they were set.

Frames, vases, candlesticks, furniture - all grand in their own right. But nothing can top THE FRIDGE. When we remodeled our kitchen and basement, the hubby and I purchased a new fridge. Not wanting our old one to go to waste, we decided we'd put it to use in our new basement bar. It still worked great, after all. One problem - the fridge was definitely dated in appearance. It boasted that wonderful shade of almond, so popular in the 90's. What to do? You guessed it - spray paint! Sure enough, there is spray paint especially for appliances. Oh happy day!

Fridge Before:
                                                       See the almond in all its glory?

                                         Fridge After:

What have you spray painted today?

August 9, 2010

It's Just Paint

You do know that, right? The world will not end if you paint something and decide it looks hideous. "But what if I don't like the color?" So paint it a different one! Or better yet, buy samples in a few shades you're considering (most home improvement stores offer paint samples for a few bucks in all of their colors) and paint up your walls. Live with the colors for a couple of days. What do they look like in the morning light? Low light? No light at all in the middle of the night when you get up to sneak some ice cream?

Paint is my oxygen. It breathes life into spaces once dead. Oh, the joy of transforming an entire area without spending a fortune! In the six years we've lived in our house, some of our rooms have been painted four times (eek!). My hubby is not a fan of the process. Unlike me, he doesn't look forward to spending hours pouring over Pottery Barn catalogs and Better Homes and Gardens to find inspiration rooms with just the right colors. He doesn't love the smell of paint or yearn for the long hours of actually applying it to the walls. But he loves me, and he usually tapes the trim and paints that really tough part of the wall at the height of our peaked living room.

My most favorite makeover in our house remains one of our first: the kitchen. I'll admit, it wasn't just paint. We added new flooring and replaced the countertops and light fixtures, but the best part was the paint. We were the proud owners of some dated oak cabinets. The hubby and I had long been fans of white wood and dreamed of having rich, creamy cabinets to meet our taste. While browsing the kitchen cabinet model section at The Home Depot, I spotted the perfect cabinets and thought, "Could we??" So off to the paint counter we went with a cabinet door sample to do a custom color match. Armed with Kilz Stain Killer and our own recipe of a warm vanilla, we set out to conquer the world.... or at least our kitchen.

Kitchen Before:
Notice the paint can on the counter. The cabinets were about to be rescued!

So much wood crying out to be painted!

See the almond-colored fridge? Even that received a paint job.
But that's a post for another day.

Ta-Da! Kitchen After:

And guess what? It did take an entire weekend to paint our cupboards, but it wasn't all that bad (especially for a paint nut, like me!).

What did we do?
1. The first step in our kitchen cupboard redo was to remove all the cupboard doors and then the hinges and knobs. I wiped all of the wood surfaces to be painted with a damp cloth and laid the doors on the garage floor to make painting them easier. 2. Next, we gave all of the wood a coat of Zinsser stain-killing primer. You want to make sure to use a primer with a stain killer in it to avoid stain seeping through your paint (it's happened to me!). 3. We applied two coats of paint to all the surfaces. 4. After the paint dried, we returned the cabinet doors to their homes and replaced the knobs and drawer pulls with new antique bronze hardware.

Cupboards painted black and updated with silver hardware would really modernize a kitchen space. Here's a look at an amazing transformation with black paint. I'm also fond of green cabinets, but my love put his foot down at that one.

So there you have it. Paint away, my friends.

August 5, 2010

My Story, I'm Sticking To It

For those who say teenagers don't know anything, listen to this. At 15 years old and a sophomore in high school, I was in love. Luckily, the young man loved me, too, so much that we said we'd get married someday. And seven years later, at the ripe old age of 22, we did.

Fast forward two years, and at 24 years old, we bought our first home. It was nice, big enough for us and our baby on the way, but it wasn't "ours." Actually, my honey's grandparents had built the house, and we bought it from them as they wanted to downsize.

Over the next few years, we would paint every surface in the house (some of them four or five times!), change the flooring and light fixtures, and completely remodel the basement. We'd tear out gardens, add new ones, and paint our lovely screened-in porch. We sweat, we argued, we laughed, and we loved our end result. What came to be was "ours." We bought a house, nice enough, and made it into the perfect home for our family.

It seems, however, that we're never done. Unfortunately for my husband, I'm always scheming, dreaming of new paint colors to try and pictures to hang. Fortunately for me, I married a man who knows that in a good home, it's best to keep the lady of the house happy.

August 3, 2010


I'm Susie, and decorating and organizing have been passions of mine since I had enough physical strength to rearrange my childhood bedroom. I wanted to see how my bed would look there (no there!) and drove my parents crazy by asking to color coordinate their closets after I had done mine. I've grown up, and now it's my husband who I drive crazy, with ideas to paint, lift, and hang just about everything in our home. If isn't nailed down (and even if it is), I've moved it and changed it.

I hope you find this blog as a place to come together with others who love decorating and want to be inspired.
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