December 29, 2010

Girls' Room Makeover

A long time ago, our daughters' bedroom looked like this.

Two of our three daughters shared the old master bedroom, and it worked well enough. Along came Louisa, and we decided that three sisters in one room would be good company. Lou Lou had her own room when she was itty bitty, but toys and girl stuff overflowed from Greta's and Frankie's room. We decided to move Lou Lou into her big sisters' room and make the nursery into a play room. Three girls in one room provided some new challenges, however, the top two being sleeping arrangements and closet space for all kinds of girl clothes.

The first step was to tackle the closet situation; I took a week or so to complete a major clothing assessment. What do they have? What do they need? Only the cutest, most favorite, and most practicle pieces of clothing got to stay. The rest were either stored away for their appropriate season or donated. The closet went from looking like this:

to looking like this:

 Next, I added some character to the room with painted wallpaper. Trace, paint, repeat.

Hours and days later, the walls were finished.

On the prowl for a large desk for my girlies, I found the perfect one for $10 at Goodwill. It got its own makeover to fit perfectly into the new room.

And at last, my father-in-law finished the bunk bed system we designed for the girls' space. If you can remember, we decided bunk beds would be the best way to sleep three girls in one room. After many hours of thinking and sketching, we came up with the winning plan. We'd have a wall of beds - two on the top and one on the bottom. That would leave one open area to fit a study space perfectly. My father-in-law went to work, and just in time for Christmas, he gave his granddaughters a beautiful gift.

Louisa is only nine months old, so her crib still sits in the room. When she's old enough, we'll purchase a mattress for her bottom bunk and add the same bedding that her sisters have.

There are still accessories to be added and finishing touches to put here and there, but most of the room is finished. It's been a good project, and it's been so rewarding to see three little girls love their room.

December 28, 2010

A Desk for a Boy

I just shared the Goodwill Hunting desk I finished for the girls' room. We've been making a lot of changes to the kids' rooms lately, mostly centered around new beds that my father-in-law agreed to make the kids for Christmas. Charlie was slated to receive a lofted bed, and I planned on putting a large desk underneath it. As luck would have it, the desk for the girls' room had a twin. The same Goodwill {I'm a regular at four} had a matching huge white desk marked at $20 when I bought the identical one for $10. Seeing how well the desk worked in the girls' room, I sent my wonderful husband back to Goodwill to purchase the $20 twin. Guess what? The lovely people at Goodwill had marked down the massive beast to $10. They must have thought if someone had purchased the other huge white one for $10 then they could get rid of this one for $10, too. I would have paid $20, but the $10 price tag made my day.

So home came desk number two, and I went right to work making it just right for Charlie. I gave it a quick coat of primer.

And while the primer dried, I dug out a couple of the colors we used on Charlie's walls. Red would go on the outer walls of the desk and a light brown on the inner ones. Remember that chalkboard paint I never used in the girls' room? It was going to be perfect for Charlie's desk. I painted the top, edges, and back wall of the desk with the chalkboard paint, giving Charlie the perfect place to express his creativity. When the trasformation was complete, Charlie had his own brand new $10 desk.

And just in time for Christmas, my father-in-law finished the beds. He did an absolutely gorgeous job. I can't describe in words how special of a gift he gave to his grandchildren.

Charlie is in love. And his new desk is pretty cool, too. This is what it's been looking like lately.

The girls' beds are finished, too, and theirs are just as breathtaking. I'll be sharing those soon.

The Desk Was Saved

Remember the $10 desk from Goodwill? Remember how someone didn't tell my husband exactly how big it was and it fell out of the truck on the way home? {That might have been me.} Remember how it was left in pieces?

Well, my friends, the desk was saved. My husband is not only the Green Bay Packers' #1 fan {he doesn't even change out of his shirt and tie if he works on a Sunday before throwing on his jersey}, he's also pretty good at repairing things I manage to break.

With the desk in one piece again, I set out to give it a makeover. You didn't think I'd actually leave it unpainted, did you? My original plan was to paint a wall with chalkboard paint and place the desk in front of it. Since the desk I managed to find was so deep, however, it wouldn't make a lot of sense to have a chalkboard wall behind it. The girls would need to stand or kneel on the desk to reach the wall, and I didn't want the desk fall apart again. With that, I decided to save the chalkboard paint for another project and finish out the painted wallpaper I had done on the other walls of the room.

Louisa's crib in front of the final "wallpapered" wall.
The desk received a coat of primer and two coats of a pretty grayish-green paint. Ready for the finished product? Here's our brand new $10 Goodwill Hunting desk:

I stole the chair from our computer desk. I'll be on the hunt for a couple of just right seats to work for the girls' desk.

Have you saved any furniture disasters lately?

December 27, 2010

Gifts of a New Year

It's two days after Christmas. I don't know about you, but in this house, all traces of Christmas are long gone. Not the memories or the gifts {and certainly not the extra calories}, but the tree and the trimmings? Well the tree is in the yard awaiting a nice hot bonfire, and the decorations have been packed away until next November.

Hopefully this year you were gifted some of the most wonderful pleasures life has to offer: good food, friends and family, conversations that lasted hours but felt like minutes, long hugs, candy canes, and time to relax.

Those gifts that come wrapped are pretty fun, too. Frankie is three, and she's consistently asked for two things to be under the tree: Clorox Disinfecting Wipes and a dress to match Baby Dinosaur's blankie. She got both.

I surprised my husband with a coffee mug that I painted for him; he said it was his favorite gift ever.

My husband and kids spoiled me with my favorite treats, fancy new boots {they had a little help from me on that one}, and gift cards for spending on trivial luxuries. My mom, however, won the big points from me this year. She surprised me with a whole ton of Huggable Hangers - those very same ones you've seen on HSN. They've been on my list forever, and now they're in my closet.

My clothes thank me for that little added indulgence. No more camis slipping off their hangers! Goodbye forest green plastic! {Well, that's not entirely true. Forest green hangers still hang in my husband's section of the closet.}

With the promise of a new year just days away, I'm eager to put more of our favorite things into use and do away with the extras that clutter our home. I can't think of a better gift to my family and myself.

December 25, 2010

Merry and Bright

Our prescription for your Christmas season:
Faithful friends who are dear to us,
marshmallows for toasting,
caroling out in the snow,
one cup of cheer.
May your lives be
filled and refilled with love.

Hoping your day is merry and bright!

December 19, 2010

Save the Desk!

I was on a Goodwill Hunting trip today and came across the perfect desk for the girls' room. It was big. It was sturdy. It was deep. It could hold tons of paper and crayons and markers and stamps and glitter. Wait - glitter? I hate glitter. It lures you in with its pretty sparkle, but it waits to hide in your carpets and hair and clothes. But yes, the desk could handle even glitter. It was huge, and it was $10.00.

$10.00?? How could I pass that up? I couldn't, so after making sure that the store would hold it for me, I convinced my good husband to pick it up with his truck. Only... I'm not so good with measuring. {Who am I kidding? I didn't measure anything.} I failed to tell him just how big the big desk actually was. On his way home, I received a phone call that went a little like this:

"Hi Baby. I'm on my way home. I just put the desk back in the truck."

"What do you mean 'Back in the truck?' "

"You didn't tell me how big it was. It fell out of the truck when I pulled out of the parking lot."

Hmmmm.... Not so good. So the perfect desk came home in four pieces instead of one, but my wonderful husband spent an hour or so putting it back together. Thanks to him, the desk has been saved.

She's in her new home and waiting for her finishing touches. Then comes the good part - little girls and paper hearts and markers and crayons and glue and maybe even glitter. Maybe. Stay tuned for the finished product.

December 12, 2010

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I do love Christmas, and I do believe it's one of the most wonderful times of the year. When I think of Christmas lately, though, it seems like "lots". Lots of food, lots of presents, lots of decorations, traditions, and plans. And every one of those things can be wonderful, but too much "lots" gives way to too much stress and mental clutter. This year, I wanted to change it.

Our to-do list around the holidays always went something like this:
  • Visit Santa
  • Bake Christmas cookies from scratch {sometimes twice because the first batch would be gone by Christmas Eve when we had to leave out cookies for Santa}
  • Watch all of our Christmas movies
  • Cut down the perfect tree
  • Decorate the perfect tree
  • Decorate outside
  • Decorate inside
  • Put the Christmas village out on perfect display
  • Write letters to Santa
  • Watch the Holidazzle parade {BRRRR!}
  • Attend a holiday brass band concert
  • Practice the primo part in the Nutcracker Suite piano music so I could play the duets with my piano playing genius husband
  • Find and buy the perfect Christmas outfits for the kids
  • Shop for everyone's perfect gift(s)
  • Host a Christmas party
I think I've left a few dozen things out, but you get the picture.

When it came time to get out the boxes and boxes of Christmas decorations this year, I found myself for the first time ever thinking, "I don't really care if I put out this Christmas candy dish" and "I don't want these Christmas hand towels out anymore" and "Do we really need to watch every Christmas movie we own?".

Some of my favorite Christmas decor: a sleigh to hold the
holiday cards and letters we receive and our Santa mug for candy canes
I'm the type of person who has all of the Christmas decorations taken down before we go to bed Christmas night. The carpet is vacuumed of pine needles, and the bells and wreaths are stored away by December 26th, so it doesn't really surprise me, I guess, that I've made this leap to the less cluttered side of Christmas. Looking through the boxes of our Christmas decor this year, I denied probably two-thirds of it. The extra wreaths and candy dishes and tea towels and the artificial tree {yes, because putting up a second tree used to be on the to-do list} are all still stored away. And you know what? I love it. The house is not stuffed with all of the extra stuff I thought I needed to display. And do you know what else? Our to-do list was shortened considerably, too.

We still made Christmas cookies from scratch, but I will not make a second batch {even though these ones will be long gone before Santa arrives}.

We still trudged through the snow and found the perfect tree, took it home, and decorated it.

I still put up my favorite Christmas wreaths. Nothing says "Come in from the cold" like a pretty wreath frosted in snow.

We still saw Santa and told him what we want, and we've even watched some of our Christmas movies. But we've left a lot of things off the list right from the start. I'm looking forward to saying no to watching the Holidazzle parade and instead grabbing our hot chocolate to go in the car while we take our time driving around to find the best Christmas lights in town. And I'm not practicing the primo part in the Nutcraker Suite this year, either. Instead, I'm sitting in the glow of our Christmas tree listening to my husband play solo.

We're not attending that brass band concert, but I will go ice skating and laugh as my kids skate circles around me.

And I will crank up the Christmas music and sing along to "Baby It's Cold Outside" while I make dinner and the kids argue over Legos {some things never do change}.

It's less than two weeks until Christmas, and I haven't missed any of our old to-do's at all. Are you finding that less is more merry?
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