5 Tips for Renovating Your Home Smartly

Over time, we’ve undertaken quite a few renovations to our 1920s home: The kitchen, master bath, laundry room, and walk-in closet have all had complete remodels.  But there’s always a bit of stress involved in planning a renovation, and it’s easy to get too close to a project and not see the potential mistakes.

This guest post offers a few suggestions on avoiding some of the pitfalls that can derail a renovation.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

5 Tips for Renovating Your Home Smartly

Is it time to renovate your home?  Maybe you’re looking to make your property more comfortable for your family – or you’re planning to sell it soon. But, if not properly planned, renovations can actually wind up hurting your home’s value. 

Here are a few tips for keeping your renovation on the smart track.

1.  Tackle The Structural Flaws

If your home has any mechanical or structural issues, these should be fixed first. Whether you’re planning to stick around for a while or you are going to sell, correcting any structural issues should be included in your renovation plans.

Repairing structural issues may mean that you will need to move out of your home in the short-term. And you might need to remove your belongings from the property while it’s being worked on.

But it’s very easy to put items into storage, through companies like SMARTBOX Solutions, Inc.

Even small structural flaws, when left unchecked, can become massive problems further down the line. And, if you’re planning to sell anytime soon, dealing with structural flaws needs to be a priority now or they could become obstacles later when you’re in the process of selling the property.  

2.  Don’t Overbuild For The Neighborhood

You’ve probably heard this advice before, but it bears repeating since overbuilding still happens.  After all, we all want our homes to look amazing. But, if you live in a modest neighborhood, this can easily backfire.

If you have the biggest home, or the nicest one, it could actually prove to be a problem when you sell it. It’s important to make your home comfortable and attractive, just don’t go over the top. Stick to the general color scheme, styles, and features that are in line with the rest of your neighborhood.

3.  Think About What Your Family Needs

Practicality is a priority. When you think about what your home needs, look at what really bothers you about the property. Prioritizing your practical needs in your home will make it more comfortable for you and your family. 

Once the practical aspects have been dealt with, you can build your aesthetic around them.

Addressing the practical at the outset of your renovation is going to make a big difference to your quality of life. For example, if you make some green home improvements, like insulation, it will save you a lot of money in the long run.

4.  Assess Your Property From The Outside

Whether or not you are planning on selling, curb appeal is vital.  It gives visitors or potential buyers their first impression of your home. If you’re planning a renovation, you may be focused on what you will gain as far as your indoor living space.  But it always pays to consider what the renovation will look like from the street. 

5.  Consider Your Home’s Existing Architectural Style

One of the most sure-fire ways to turn a well-intentioned renovation into an unfortunate white elephant is to choose an aesthetic that doesn’t flow well with your home’s existing architectural style.  Unless you plan to completely change your home’s aesthetic, it’s usually wise to strike a healthy balance between your home’s existing style and what you want from the renovation you are planning.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
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Our Laundry Room Remodel





5 Ideas For Making Your Back Yard More Enjoyable

Hopefully some day in the not-too-distant future, we will be able to safely enjoy outdoor entertaining again in our back yards.  But in the meantime, many of us are using our back yards as safe and peaceful havens.

This post, brought to me by a guest writer, has some excellent suggestions for making our back yards more enjoyable for entertaining – and for ourselves.

The following is a contributed post.  For more on my contributed posts, please see this page.

5 Ideas For Making Your Back Yard More Enjoyable

There’s no denying that most people enjoy spending time outdoors during the warmer months of the year. The summer months are excellent for hosting social events like barbecues, pool parties, and more.  

Your home’s back yard can also be an excellent place to simply relax, unwind, and enjoy some solitude from the world. But what if your back yard needs a little improvement?

Check out these inspirational ideas to get you started:

1. Gazebo

While it’s great to soak up the sun during the warmer months of the year, you’ll still wish to have some shade during the hottest days. One way to achieve that goal and simultaneously make your garden Insta-worthy is by getting a gazebo installed.

You can have a freestanding gazebo near your house or in the middle of your garden. Or, you might want a gazebo attached to one of your garden walls. Apart from providing shade from the sun, gazebos are good shelters during sudden showers on a summer’s day.

2. Swimming Pool

If you have a large garden, you might balk at the thought of having to maintain it all. What if there were a way to cut down on the amount of lawn you’d need to maintain while also providing a place to frolic and enjoy social time with your family and friends?

The solution, of course, is a swimming pool. Your new pool design can incorporate any kind of layout that meets your needs. You could even include a separate spa area.

3. Deck

Do you wish you had an area outside your back door that was level, aesthetically pleasing, and suitably sized for outdoor furniture? If the answer is yes, you should consider having a decked area installed.

A deck is typically made from treated timber and is sometimes known as “decking.” You can further beautify your deck area with recessed LED lights, some charming plants and flowers in pots, and even a pergola.

4. Hot Tub

If a swimming pool isn’t something you’d use enough, perhaps what you should instead consider is having a hot tub installed. Hot tubs allow people to relax and unwind, and some models with powerful jets (i.e., Jacuzzis) that will even massage your body as you sit in them.

Did you know that you can use hot tubs throughout the year – not just in the summer months? It might seem like a strange concept, but it can be great relaxing in a hot tub and enjoying a clear sky in winter! 

5. Playsets and Play Houses

If the kids are happy, the adults are happy. And then everyone has a good time. 

You could have a natural wood playset installed in your back yard and incorporate a treehouse. Consider what your child’s changing needs might be as the years progress – and perhaps even consider how, after your child outgrows it, you might be able to repurpose that play house into something you can use for yourself.

Playsets come in various configurations; the only things that might limit what you can do are your imagination and your budget!

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
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Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
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The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel




Dressing Up A Plain Door

I can’t believe it’s been almost a year since we participated in the Fall 2019 One Room Challenge – during which Chris and I remodeled my dressing room.  (More on that at the end of this post.)

Part of the remodel involved rebuilding a small door and giving it some much-needed character.  That was a fun project, but things were moving along so quickly during the One Room Challenge that I never had a chance to talk about it in detail.

So I’m sharing it with you today.

The Door Rebuild

This post contains affiliate links.  For more on my affiliate links, please see this page.

The dressing room has a sloped ceiling that follows the roof line of the house.  As a result, the east wall of the room is very short.  There is a door on that wall that measures just over five feet tall and leads to an unfinished attic space.

It is a hollow-core door that is not original to our circa 1927 house.  The two-inch moldings surrounding the door, and the brushed-brass doorknob, were likely installed around the same time as the door – maybe in the 1950s or 60s.

No doubt it was difficult to find such a small door, and whoever installed it made no attempt to match it with the original single-panel doors in the house (example below).

One of the home’s original single-panel doors.

But, with our remodel underway, we were finally going to change that.


Making Space For Period-Appropriate Molding

The door’s only redeeming feature was the beveled mirror.  We carefully removed it and stashed it somewhere safe.  Then Chris pried off the cheap two-inch molding that framed the door.

The molding he would install in its place would be four inches wide. So, Chris used his Ryobi multi tool to cut back the baseboard on either side of the door by two inches to accommodate that wider molding.

The door with its surrounding molding removed and baseboard moldings cut back a couple of inches on either side.


Installing Reclaimed 1920s Molding

We actually had the right molding on hand – and it was original to the house!  It had been removed from another room we’d remodeled, and Chris had been saving it for just this type of occasion.

Now the molding around the door would match the other moldings in the house.  It was in slightly rough shape, but we could fix that later by sanding and spackling.

A Molding/Doorknob Conundrum

So as I mentioned earlier, the other doors in the house are the single-panel doors that are very common in 1920s houses.  We decided the easiest way to make this door look like the others would be to install molding around the perimeter of the door itself to give it the appearance of a single-panel door.

Adding molding to the door would mean that the location of the doorknob would have to change.  So, Chris created a wooden plug for the existing doorknob hole.  This plug would be concealed later by spackling and paint.

Now the molding could be installed around the perimeter of the door.

Sand, Spackle, Prime, and Paint

With all the molding installed, it was finally time for me to sand, spackle, prime, and paint the door and moldings.  I used Benjamin Moore’s Simply White.

Once this was done, it was time to add some pretty little details.


A Vintage Doorknob

All the original doors in the house have either glass or antique brass knobs.  We had some 1920s vintage door hardware on hand, but most of it was too large and out of scale for this petite door.

Luckily, we’ve collected a pretty good stash of old house parts over the years and, rummaging through it, we found these elegant little beauties.


Their small and narrow profiles would fit the door.  But there was no lock mechanism to go with them.  And even if there had been, it may not have worked with the door.

But Chris made do.  He installed the faceplate and the knob. For a door latch, he installed a ball catch – much like you would find on old cabinet doors.

A vintage doorknob and faceplate with a ball catch as a door latch.

So, when I open the door, I don’t actually turn the knob.  I just pull.  And to latch it closed again, I just push.  It’s very simple but it works – and it looks pretty.

Nicer Hinges

We also replaced the flimsy hinges on the door with vintage hinges we had on hand which, besides being very well made, are identical to the hinges on the home’s original doors.


Re-Installing The Mirror

Then it was just a matter of re-installing the beveled mirror.

The Result

The door is exactly what I wanted in this room:  1920s elegance, feminine but classic, and in a soft vintagey white.

Our efforts to keep things in scale for this small door paid off.  Looking at this photo, you wouldn’t immediately notice that the door is only about five feet tall.

But there is one small drawback:  The molding we installed on the door itself does not sit flush with the molding that frames the door opening.  So, the door appears to protrude a tiny bit, as you can see from the photo below.

But the overall look is such an improvement that I feel it’s a small price to pay.

To recap, here is the before,



And the after.


This was a fun little project that made a big impact.



The door now looks like it’s been with the house all along.

More On Our Dressing Room Remodel

For this remodel, we challenged ourselves to work on a very tight budget – and to keep the carbon footprint small by using repurposed items that we either had on hand or found at salvage shops.  Since we were trying for a very specific look, we really had to get creative.  The challenges we set for ourselves made the project fun!

If you want to see more of this remodel, check out my posts below.


An ever-changing and vast inventory of vintage door hardware and vintage hinges can be found on Etsy.

Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel








Creating DIY Built-Ins Using Repurposed Pieces

I’ve had a few readers ask me about the little bank of built-in cabinets that Chris and I created for the south wall of my dressing room.

So today I’m sharing how we transformed an old dresser and two salvaged kitchen cabinets into custom built-in storage.


Our DIY built-ins for the dressing room south wall.


The Space

The dressing room is a quirky, kind-of-boot-shaped room.  The south wall space, where we installed the built-ins, is to the left in this sketch.

The Goal

We didn’t want the built-ins to look new but rather to look original to our circa 1927 house. We would be looking to use pieces with inset drawers and single-panel doors to match the existing original cabinetry in our home.

The Challenges

The space presented several challenges.  For starters, it was narrow – less than four feet wide.  There was also a sloped ceiling and a pocket window to work around.

Finding the Right Pieces

We chose to use a vintage dresser that we’d been storing for years.  It has inset drawers – exactly like the inset drawers in our original built-ins.

At some point in the dresser’s life, someone had removed its legs. This actually worked well for creating the built-in look that we wanted.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take a “before” photo of the dresser with the drawers in place.  The drawers were outside being painted when the photo above was taken.

The dresser would be placed against the west wall and under the window.

Now we needed something to fit in the space next to the dresser.  And, since that “something” wouldn’t be blocking the window, it could be taller than the dresser.

I knew that finding the right thing for the space would be tricky, if not impossible.  I briefly considered buying some open cubbies from a big box store because they were inexpensive and measured out well for the space.

But the cubbies were out of stock.  This turned out to be a blessing in disguise.  Little did I know that something better was just around the corner.

A trip to the salvage shop netted these Shaker-style cabinets – one base cabinet and one wall cabinet.

Measuring about 12 inches wide, they would be narrow enough to fit next to the dresser.  And they were in fairly good shape.  I liked these cabinets because of their single-panel doors – another design feature that I was looking for to match our original cabinetry.


Putting the Pieces Together

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

Once we got home from the salvage shop, Chris removed the granite countertop from the base cabinet.

And I removed the cabinet pulls and started scrubbing, sanding, spackling, priming, and painting.

I painted all the pieces – the kitchen cabinets and the dresser – with Benjamin Moore’s cabinet-grade paint in Simply White. (I had also painted the walls and moldings with Simply White.  Since the room is so tiny and has only one small window, I wanted everything in the room to have the same light, neutral color.)

Now we faced another challenge:  In order for the pieces to fit snugly against the walls and truly look built-in, we needed to remove some of the baseboard molding from the area where they would be placed.

For this, Chris used his Ryobi multi tool.  I wish I could to say that this went well, but actually we wound up losing a small chunk of wall plaster in the process.  Luckily, the cabinetry covers the damaged area.

At least now everything would fit.

Some of the baseboard was removed to accommodate the built-ins.

Chris cut a new presswood countertop for the base cabinet.

And I painted it with the same paint I’d used on the cabinets.

We stacked the wall cabinet on top of the base cabinet and then, using screws, Chris anchored the pieces to the wall and to one other.


Now You See It, Now You Don’t

There were small gaps and seams between the pieces, but we made them disappear.

Chris cut and installed pieces of molding to fit over the gaps.

And then I caulked the seams around the molding using paintable caulk.  Once the caulk dried, I touched up the areas with the cabinet paint.

Now it was looking good! Painting everything one color minimized the varying heights and depths of the three pieces and tied the look together.

Final Touches

I covered the top of the base cabinet and the top of the dresser with this polyurethane finish.  It will protect the surface better than paint alone would, and it will make it easier for me to clean up my inevitable coffee spills.

I’d painted the drawers of the dresser, cleaned the interiors, and lined them with a pretty retro-floral shelf paper.

And we replaced all the cabinet and drawer pulls with glass knobs to match the other pulls in the room and throughout the house.

Now I’m looking very 1920s!

The Result

This was a budget-friendly little project, and I love how it turned out.

Before the remodel, the space was cluttered and claustrophobic.

South wall before.

During the remodel, the empty space looked even more narrow.

South wall during remodel.

But now, with the new cabinets, the area seems larger.  

South wall after remodel.

If you’re wondering about the stenciled floor (a real labor of love – emphasis on the labor part), check out this post.

And, to see how I organized these built-ins, as well as other parts of this dressing room, check out this post.

This south wall built-in installation was part of a larger remodel of the entire dressing room.

For more on this project, see my posts below.


Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel



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Organizing My New Dressing Room

Happy New Year, dear readers, and welcome to a new decade.  I  can’t believe we’ve entered the 2020’s!

Thanks to having participated in the One Room Challenge last fall, a six-week challenge during which Chris and I completely remodeled my little dressing room, I can at least say that I’m starting this new decade with a neatly organized wardrobe.

And while I certainly can’t claim to be an organizing guru, I did pick up a little inspiration from tidying expert Marie Kondo.  My takeaway:  Think vertical.  So here, I’m sharing some of the simple ways I organized my clothes and jewelry as I moved them back into my newly revamped dressing room.


Starting with A Clean Slate

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Before I started organizing, I donated all of my clothes to charity, and then I went out and bought a brand new wardrobe to go with my new dressing room!

Wait, no.  That was just a dream.

Actually, when the dressing room remodel was in its final stages, I began to do laundry – lots of it.  Although most of my clothes were already clean, I washed every piece that was going back into that room.  I just wanted everything to be fresh.

This process helped me take stock of exactly what I had in my wardrobe.

I lined the dresser drawers with a cheerful retro floral shelf paper.

And I tossed a charcoal air freshener into each drawer.

Then it was finally time to start organizing.


Ombre Denim

We put a lot of thought, but not a lot of money, into this dressing room remodel.  I love the south wall “built-ins” that we created by combining two salvage-shop kitchen cabinets and an old dresser.

Dressing room remodel

These new built-ins are intended to look original to our 1920’s house.  They frame a small window and work well with the sloped ceiling.

I was looking forward to using this upper cabinet for purses.

Vertical walk in closet storage

But then I realized it was suited to a more practical use: Denim.  I have way too many pairs of jeans, but I wear them all.

organizing jeans

In my new vertical cabinet, the jeans are stacked on top of one another.  But, unlike being stacked in a dresser drawer, they are all visible.  And they are organized by color and saturation.

organizing jeans

I fold them so that the pockets are always on top.  Since many brands of jeans have distinctive pocket stitching, I can quickly find the pair I want to wear.


Vertical Sweaters and T-Shirts

My sweaters and T-shirts are folded and placed neatly into drawers in the large wardrobe on the north wall.

But they are positioned vertically, as Marie Kondo suggests.  So, just like with my jeans, I can quickly see what I have.  Now nothing gets buried and forgotten.

organizing shirts

I use a charcoal air freshener as a spacer when I remove a shirt.  This keeps the other shirts neatly in place.

A charcoal air freshener, used as a spacer, keeps the vertically positioned shirts in place when one is removed.

I use expandable drawer dividers to define separate spaces for long-sleeve T-shirts, short-sleeve T-shirts, and tank tops – and for creating zones inside of drawers for things like purses and scarves.

Drawer organization

Velvet Hangers

I love the look of vintage wooden clothes hangers, and I use them on the open clothing rod on the north wall.  After all, I want this room to make me happy – not just be functional.  I love the look of this rustic pipe rod with the vintage hangers.

Vintage inspired clothing rod

But, in the enclosed hanging space inside the large wardrobe, I use space-saving velvet hangers similar to these.  I was a little skeptical about them at first, but to me it seems that they really do save space.

The velvet makes them grippy (sometimes almost too grippy), so clothes don’t slide off.

clothes on velvet hangers

And I love that these clothes are in an enclosed wardrobe.


I wanted a lot of enclosed storage in the dressing room because, before, the room always looked cluttered.  And all that clutter tended to gather dust.

Vertical Necklace Storage

Another enclosed storage area is this little vintage cabinet that we retrofitted into the northeast corner.

Vintage leaded glass cabinet

In it, Chris installed dozens of hooks for hanging necklaces.

organizing necklaces

Now, necklaces don’t get tangled, and it’s easy to see what I have. The shelf is also a good spot for the earring organizer I made a few years ago when I was going through my vintage button obsession.

A Victorian-era butter dish, so rustic that it’s silver plate is wearing off, holds a couple of fun vintage treasures inside.

Victorian butter dish


Vintage pins
Vintage pins.

On the shelf below, stackable jewelry trays similar to these hold other pieces of jewelry.

stackable jewelry trays

I just love that this room feels more airy and spacious than it did before the remodel, even though it holds the same amount of stuff.

Now if only the rest of my house was this organized!

For more on my dressing room remodel, see my posts below.


Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Dressing Room Remodel
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel



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ORC Week 6: Dressing Room Remodel – The Final Reveal

We’re here at last:  The big “ta-da” moment in our One Room Challenge® adventure! For five weeks, my husband Chris and I have been remodeling my small and quirky dressing room, and I’ve been posting weekly updates.  And it’s all come down to this:  The final reveal!

In case you missed them, here are links to my previous posts:

Project Recap

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used in this post.  For more information on my affiliate links, please see my affiliate disclosure page.

The Space

My little dressing room, located on the second floor, measures roughly 70 square feet.  And those square feet are very oddly shaped.

In addition to the odd shape, this room also has a sloping ceiling that follows the roofline along the east side.  It has two doors:  An entry door and a door leading to an unfinished attic space.


Design Goals

Our house was built in 1927 so, although we don’t want the house to look like a shrine to the 1920s, we always want new work – cabinetry, hardware, doors, and moldings – to blend seamlessly with the existing design features of the house.

I feel that the house’s original design features are easy on the eyes.  They’re simple and clean – yet charming.  And they’ve stood the test of time.  So I would rather use those design features than a trend that will look dated in a few years anyway.

Clutter Busting

You’ll see that the little dressing room was a claustrophobic and cluttered mess.  I wanted the redesign to include ample storage yet feel spacious.


The room is small and has a sloped ceiling, so I decided to use one paint color on every surface, including that sloped ceiling, all the moldings, and all the cabinetry that we added.

The goal was for the room to be brighter, more elegant, more cohesive – and for that sloped ceiling to feel less oppressive.  I opted for good old “Simply White” by Benjamin Moore.


Since what we were remodeling was basically a closet, we challenged ourselves to keep the budget tight.  So, a challenge within a challenge!  We had lots of fun with this.  We sourced cabinetry pieces through Craigslist, salvage shops, and our own basement storage.  We always look to repurpose items instead of buying new when we can anyway – not only to save money but also because it’s an earth-friendly alternative.

The total expenditure (outlined in detail last week) was under $900 U.S.

Let’s start the tour!

Dressing Room Tour

Won’t you come in.

The North Wall

North wall after

Before the remodel, the north wall looked like this.

North wall before

I’d brought in a portable garment rack because there was not enough rod space in the room to hang my clothes.  A patched-together assortment of old dressers, shoe boxes, and racks made for a cluttered look that scratched away at my psyche every time I entered the room.  And there was a lot of vertical wall space going to waste here.

Now I have the enclosed wardrobe space.

Plus, for longer items, the new garment rod we installed over a shoe bench.

The new garment rod, which adds a much-needed rustic touch to the room, is made of authentic industrial pipe.

We did away with the worn carpet in the room, but failed in our attempt to daylight the original fir floor, which is buried under mid century linoleum.



Instead, we covered the whole mess with a plywood underlayment, and then I painted, stenciled, and protected the plywood with a finish.

I love all the space that I have in the large wardrobe, which we purchased from a private seller on Craigslist and then refurbished.  It’s a perfect width for the alcove space.  Above the wardrobe, baskets will hold things I rarely use – like ski gear and travel accessories.

In the northeast corner, we added a vintage leaded glass cabinet, which we rehabbed and then put on these turned legs so that it would be tall enough to clear the baseboard and fit snugly in the corner.

Years ago, we bought two of these cabinets at a garage sale for $5 apiece.  This cabinet’s mirror-image twin currently lives in our kitchen.

My vintage dolls and other little items were collecting dust in this room, and one of my goals for the remodel was to find a place where they could be displayed but protected from dust.  I also wanted a better system for organizing my jewelry.

The vintage cabinet meets both needs.  We added hooks to make necklaces easy to sort and find.

And all my little vintage items that used to drive me crazy have a home now.

I love how the north wall turned out.  It’s fun, it has character, yet it’s calm and uncluttered – a far cry from the chaos I had going on before.

Northeast wall before

Looking at these before photos again, it’s surprising to me how much larger this wall space looks now.

North wall after



We did keep the light fixture that was already in the room.  It was a recent upgrade – a vintage milk glass light.

The East Wall

The ceiling slopes all along the east wall.  There is a short door that leads to an attic space.  It’s a cheap, hollow-core door that is not original to the house.  It had a 1970s-era knob, flimsy hinges, and was framed in with tragically cheap molding.  Its only redeeming quality was the beveled dressing mirror.  Otherwise, it was very sad.

East wall before

Since the door is a custom size, Chris decided to rehab it instead of having a new one made.



He added 1920s moldings that he’d saved from another project, and he added vintage hardware that we already had on hand – including a petite vintage glass door knob that would fit well on this petite door.

He made this cheap hollow-core door look original to our house – all without spending a cent.

On the east wall, we turn to face the south wall.

The South Wall

The south wall is a strange part of the room that is not even four feet wide.  It’s a long, narrow alcove that felt even narrower because of where I had placed the tall dresser.

Southeast wall before

It was no fun trying to get anything out of these drawers.  And, as you can see, this is where the carpeting stopped and an area rug took over.  Pretty classy!

Here is the area now.

Southeast wall after



Since the overhead light is near the north wall, this part of the room was dark at night, so our one splurge for the room was to buy a 1920s-era sconce light, which had been professionally restored, from a salvage shop.

Restored 1920s sconce light

Up until yesterday, we were still working on this part of the room.  I decided at the last minute that a chair was needed here, but it would have to be very petite.

I had this little bentwood chair kicking around in our basement.  But of course it needed work, and I was still putting the final touches on my “ebonized” finish for it yesterday morning.  And the faux fur seat cover arrived just in time.

At the same salvage shop where we found the sconce light, we found two narrow kitchen cabinets that, rehabbed and put together with an old dresser from our basement, would work nicely for the space around the window.



Where these kitchen cabinets once held canned goods, they now will hold sweaters – or maybe handbags.

And the old dresser, with its inset drawers, looks identical to the original built-in cabinetry in our home.  For a detailed account of how we installed these built-ins, please see this post.


We added glass cabinet knobs to all the pieces to match the cabinet hardware throughout the house.

And I lined all the shelves and drawers in this south wall installation with a retro-floral shelf paper that I just love.

It was easy to reposition – unlike some other shelf papers that I would end up wadding and throwing away in frustration.



So you might be wondering if I forgot to add wall art.  But actually I love this uncluttered look so much that I have no desire to hang anything on these soothing white walls.  I might change my mind at some point, but right now I can almost feel my blood pressure drop when I walk into this room.

For a detailed account of how I organized this dressing room, please see this post.

Just Lucky

Seems some home improvement projects are difficult from the get-go.  But with other projects, things just fall into place.  With this project, I was lucky.

Lucky because the floor stencil measured out so perfectly for the room dimensions.

Lucky because we found, or already had on hand, cabinetry pieces that fit so well into the strange little spaces that we were working with.

But most of all lucky because Chris so good-naturedly embarked on this challenge with me.


Without his mad DIY skills and his honest, informed opinions, this project would never have gotten off the ground.

More To Come

After the holiday season, I’ll be sharing more about the revamp of the little bentwood chair, details about the door rehab, and how we made two kitchen cabinets and an old dresser look like built-ins.

Visit The Other Challenge Participants

This six-week challenge has been intense for both of us.  But it’s also been very rewarding.  Thanks to everyone who offered encouragement along the way.  It made a world of difference!

I can’t wait to check out the other final reveals happening through the One Room Challenge.  Participant reveals can be found here.


Icarus Tile Floor Stencil
Wardrobe:  Private seller via Craigslist
Vintage Sconce Light:  Second Use
Salvaged Kitchen Cabinets:   Second Use
Shoe Rack:  Target
Glass Cabinet Knobs:  House of Antique Hardware
Yifely Retro Floral Self-Adhesive Shelf Paper
Pipe Decor Dual Flange Style Garment Rack
Legs for Leaded Glass Cabinet:  BingLTD “Pauline” Sofa Legs
Junovo Premium Faux Fur Sheepskin Seat Cushion Chair Cover

The baskets above the wardrobe were a Marshall’s find, but similar covered baskets can be found here.

For more on this project, see my posts below.


Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel




ORC Week 5: Dressing Room Remodel – Putting the Pieces Together

Welcome to Week 5 of the One Room Challenge®.  It’s been a busy week, and we’ve made some progress on the remodel of my little dressing room.  And we needed to – next week is the big reveal!

I can sum up my week in five words:  Clean, sand, prime, paint, repeat. Not that I’m complaining.  But I am dreaming of the day, hopefully soon, when I can actually use this cute little dressing room.

But I have the easy part.  It’s up to Chris to make all the pieces that I’ve been painting fit into the room and more or less look built in – maybe even like they could be original to our circa 1927 house.

Except for one piece, the shoe rack I shared last week, all of the cabinetry in this room will be second-hand items that we have rehabbed and repurposed.

In case you missed them, here are my Week 1, Week 2, Week 3, and Week 4 posts.


Projects Everywhere

Disclosure:  Affiliate links are used below.

I had paint projects scattered throughout the house.

A cabinet door in the living room.

Cabinet legs in the dining room.

The cabinet itself, and the body of a vintage dresser, in the upstairs landing.

And the dresser drawers in the driveway.

These pieces were cleaned with this pre-paint cleaner followed by a soap and water wash.

A Visit To The Salvage Shop

We visited a local architectural salvage shop hoping to find a vintage sconce light for the room – which we did.  But we also found these little kitchen cabinets.  Believe it or not, they are just what the room needs – and we found them in the nick of time.

What we liked about them, besides their great condition and affordable price, was the single-panel doors.  We knew that, once we painted them and replaced the door hardware, they would resemble the original single-panel cabinetry that appears throughout our house.

A Rustic Touch

Since the room will be mostly white, I thought it needed a little rustic counterbalance.

So we bought this wall-mounted garment rack kit.  Made of authentic industrial pipe, it’s exactly the look I wanted.  We could have made our own out of plumbing parts, but it was actually less expensive to buy this kit.


Every piece had a protective coating of grease to keep it from rusting.  So they all needed to be cleaned and then sealed with a spray-on finish.  Since I was running out of work space, I did that project on the back patio.

The Vintage Cabinet

Several years ago, we bought two adorable vintage cabinets for $5 apiece at a garage sale.  If you’ve been with me for a while, you might remember that we used one of them in our kitchen.

Vintage cabinet used in the kitchen

We needed to put that cabinet on legs to clear the heat register in the wall behind it.

We are using the second cabinet in the dressing room.  And that one also needed to go on legs – this time to clear the baseboard so it would fit snugly against the wall.  Since we like them and they are a good value, we used the same legs that we’d installed on the first cabinet.

The only difference is that I painted these legs with the “Simply White” cabinet paint instead of using a finish on them.

Chris inset the legs just enough so that they would clear the baseboard.  The cabinet was going in a corner, so it had to clear the baseboard on two walls.

Just like with the first cabinet, Chris anchored this one to the wall.  After all, we live in earthquake country.

I had several little paint sample containers left from when I was deciding on the floor color.  So I used one of them – Iron Frost by Valspar – to paint the interior of the cabinet and give it a little interest.

Because this cabinet has a leaded glass door, it can display “pretty” things.  So Chris installed brass hooks along the top of the interior where I can hang necklaces and scarves.

The South Wall Comes Together

I haven’t shared much about the south wall of the room.  That’s because, until now, there wasn’t much going on.  It’s a very narrow portion of the room (not even four feet wide) and easy to over-fill.  So our goal is to make it a useful yet uncluttered space.

This is where the vintage dresser and those salvage shop kitchen cabinets come into play.  Put together, they work around a sloped ceiling and a window.

It doesn’t look like much yet, but I’m hoping it will soon!


Cabinet Hardware

All the cabinetry in the room will have the same hardware – glass knobs that match what is already on the cabinetry throughout the house.

Vintage glass knobs are fairly common, and I assumed they’d be easy to find locally.  But none of the salvage shops we visited had enough of them.  So we had to buy reproductions.

A few days ago, 19 of these little cuties arrived from the House of Antique Hardware.

There we found the best price on the glass knobs we needed – and by searching I found an online coupon I could use. The knobs look great, but the screws they came with are all too long, so we will need to size every one of them down.

That’s on the list, but the list is getting a little shorter.

And speaking of lists . . .

The Numbers

Even with a super-small budget, things add up.  Here is what the actual project cost is looking like, in round numbers.  (The vintage dresser is not included because we’ve had that piece forever.)

Wall, Trim, Cabinet, and Floor Paint and Floor Stencil $150
Craigslist Wardrobe $100
Vintage Sconce Light $95
Salvage Shop Kitchen Cabinets $55
Target Shoe Rack $30
Glass Cabinet Knobs $55
Retro Floral Shelf Paper $45
Wardrobe Casters $15
Legs for Leaded Glass Cabinet $40
Industrial Pipe Clothing Rack $30
Garage Sale Leaded Glass Cabinet $5
Plywood Underlayment $50
Estimated Misc. Supplies and Decor Items $200


My hat is off to the other participants of this challenge.  Just remodeling my little dressing room in the time allotted, and photographing and writing about it every week, has indeed been a challenge.  If you have time, check out what some of the other participants are up to.

Come back next week for the big reveal!

For more on this project, see my posts below.



Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design
The June Bug Diaries
Our Laundry Room Remodel




ORC Week 4: Dressing Room Remodel – Customizing A Craigslist Wardrobe

I can’t believe it’s already Week 4 of the One Room Challenge® .  Six weeks seemed like plenty of time to remodel my little dressing room, but now I’m not so sure!

In case you missed any of them, here are my Week 1, Week 2, and Week 3 posts.

When we left off last week, I had finished stenciling the floor.  It was a lot of work, and now it was time to protect that work.

Protecting the Stenciled Floor

Disclosure:  Affiliate links appear below.

Still following the excellent advice that I’d found here, I covered the stenciled floor with four coats of this Rust-Oleum Verathane finish in satin.

Since this was a small room, I used this Shur-Line paint and stain applicator and got a nice, even finish.  (Of course, not wanting to take any chances, I didn’t use an extension handle. I was on my knees at floor level!)

HANDy paint tray

And to reward myself for having come this far, I finally broke out my new HANDy paint tray.  But more on that later.

I applied four coats of the finish, letting each coat dry thoroughly before applying the next.  After the last coat, I let the room just sit empty for a few days to make darn sure the finish was dry.

So, lots of drying time.  But while this was going on, Chris and I were tackling a monster.

The Wardrobe (aka, “The Monster”)

Chris and I found this wardrobe listed by a private seller on Craigslist.  I wish I’d taken a photo of it before we set it on sawhorses in our living room.  But at the time, it was all I could do to help him muscle it in from the truck.

So, here it is on sawhorses.

Carrying it down to the basement workshop was out of the question.  This was a huge and solid piece of wood furniture.  It was in great condition and it smelled fresh.  And the best part (besides the price – only $100) was that, according to our measurements, it would fit perfectly into an alcove in the dressing room.

That is, with a few modifications.


Making it Fit

The top piece was wider than the body of the cabinet.  So, the first thing Chris did was pull off that top piece and trim the sides to make it fit the alcove space.

Yes, it would fit – barely.

But there was another problem:  The baseboard.  In order for the wardrobe to fit, the baseboard in that alcove space had to go.

Alcove after removing the baseboard

Chris used his Ryobi multi tool for this.  I was a bit worried about the floor, but he didn’t damage it.

Meanwhile, I cleaned, lightly sanded, primed, and painted the wardrobe.

The Paint

Again I used my new HANDy paint tray.  It has a feature that I just love:  A magnet holds the paint brush so it doesn’t slip into the paint.

The paintbrush looks like it’s suspended in midair, but a magnet holds it in place

Even with a much-used paint brush like mine, with many coats of paint over the metal, the magnet held it.

HANDy paint tray in use

I used a roller and my Shur-Line edger to apply the primer.

For applying the paint, I used my Shur-Line paint and stain applicator – the same tool I’d used to apply the floor finish. (Of course I still needed to use a small paintbrush for the detail work).

This method gave me what I wanted:  An even application that looked more like a “factory finish” than I could have gotten by using the conventional roller-and-back-brushing method.

And it seemed like less work.

So I applied two coats of the Benjamin Moore “Simply White” cabinet paint – the same paint that I’d used on the moldings and doors in the dressing room.

The Wardrobe Goes Upstairs!

Then Chris and my brother Dan hauled the huge monster up our narrow staircase and muscled it into place in the alcove.

Wardrobe (sans doors and drawers) in place in the alcove. This kind of fit was exactly what I was looking for.  One my goals for the room, which I listed in my Week 1 introduction, was to add furniture that looked built in but was actually removable.

This piece fits the space so well, and finding it on Craigstlist was very fortunate – like finding a needle in a haystack.



If you’re into details, you probably noticed the small attic hatch in the ceiling above the wardrobe.  Nothing is stored in that attic but, if there were ever a roof leak, we might need to access that attic space.

So Chris put the wardrobe on these low-profile trundle casters.  Now it can be moved when we need to get into the attic.  And, unless you know to look for them, the casters aren’t really that noticeable.

We put little wedges in front of the casters for now, but we’re going to anchor the wardrobe to the wall with an easy-to-remove screw.

And then Chris will replace the baseboard that runs along the wall in front of the wardrobe.  But that too will have screws instead of nails so it can be removed if we ever need to roll the wardrobe out.

A “Customized” Shoe Rack

I bought this shoe rack (which is actually called a horizontal cube) from Target because its style and dimensions were perfect for the space I had in mind.



I wanted it to fit flush against the wall, but again the baseboard was an issue.  So Chris carefully cut a small chunk out of the back of the shoe rack to make it fit neatly around the baseboard.

Shoe rack cut to fit around the baseboard

The shoe rack came unassembled, so Chris could make the necessary cuts before he assembled it.

I love that the white of the shoe rack is so close to the Simply White that I’ve been painting everything.  The only thing I don’t like about this piece is that the screw heads are exposed.  But I’m not sure they will be very noticeable once the other pieces we have planned for this wall are in place.


No, those wooden knobs on the wardrobe are not staying

By the way, this shoe rack is the only new piece of furniture going into this room.  All the other pieces will be ones that we already had or that we purchased second-hand.

After all, this is a budget project.

Coming Next Week

We are getting down to the wire, and there is still so much ground to cover. We need to install a second light fixture, a garment rack, a bit of molding, and possibly a wall shelf. Chris has more furniture customizing to do.

And I have more painting – much more.  After the wardrobe went upstairs, I immediately put another piece on the sawhorses in our living room.


Lots of white will be going into the dressing room, but I’ll leave you with a little preview of some of the other colors that we’ll be incorporating.

Valspar “Iron Frost” paint and a retro-floral self-adhesive drawer liner

There are so many amazing room transformations happening over on the One Room Challenge.  If you get a chance, check out what some of the featured designers and the other guest participants are working on.

For more on this project, see my posts below.


Posts on this website are for entertainment only and are not tutorials.


Here you’ll find seasonal goodies, my current decor obsessions, and more!


Want to see more? Browse my photo gallery or check out these categories:

Our Kitchen Remodel Series
Our Master Bath Remodel Series
My Shop
Dan’s Workshop
Decorating and Holidays
Our Little Sunglo Greenhouse
Floral Design
Garden Design