Things I Didn’t DIY

A few months ago I re-purposed an old kitchen cabinet into a free standing kitchen cabinet for my friend’s mom (here). When I staged it in my sunroom I loooooved it and immediately wanted to make my own.

I had grand plans to build it completely from scratch. And I know that I’m capable of doing that. But then I walked into Homegoods and there was this perfectly sized, great stain colored cabinet sitting on a platform. Ready to come home and work for me. Soooo I just bought it, put it in the corner, and called it a day:

sunroom - mudroom- bar storage and seating - gray and yellow

I love to DIY, and I really want to get into building more, but man… what’s the point in saving all this money by doing stuff on my own if when I see something I like I can’t just throw down some dollars and walk away done? AmIRight?

striped wall room with painted furniture

ALSO, hands down the best thing I ever did for that room was pretend that floors weren’t green. I love the stripes (how to is here) and those chairs aren’t perfect for the space but they’ll do for now (how to on those is here). The little table is from Target.

Even though we call this room the sunroom, it’s kind of an everything room for us. It’s where we enter and leave the house, it’s how we get into the yard, and it’s where we entertain when we have lots of people over because it’s completely open to the kitchen).

open concept split level ranch house floor plan - sunroom mudroom to kitchen

Andddd speaking of the kitchen, I sold the country style chairs that came with that table and bought these awesome Eames knockoff ones. We’ve had them for several months and they are perfect- just the right amount of give when you lean back and a nice low profile.

eames knockoff white kitchen chairs

And again, I just threw down the money and bought what I wanted instead of hunting down old chairs to fix up. #SorryNotSorry. This room is full of DIYs anyway though- check out that upcycled wall art HERE and the painted faux tile backsplash HERE, as well as the faux door molding HERE. That little tray the pet water bowls are on is also just some painted and sealed scrap wood. Whew!

So what do you think? How do you decide when to buy vs. when to DIY?


A little more on the sunroom

** FYI: I’m bringing my A game for 2013, and that included owning this domain name. So this site is officially now **

Monday’s post, the sun room reveal, was long enough with the striped wall how-to that I left out a few specifics and a few tips so I wanted to follow up with you all today with a little more detail…

First of all, the breakdown for how the room was repainted from green to grey/white is as follows:

  • Day 1: remove furniture and curtains from room, tape off molding, sweep floors
  • Day 2: 2 coats of Zinsser primer
  • Day 3: 2 coats of Behr White Truffle
  • Day 4: tape off the stripes
  • Day 5: 2 coats of Partridge Gray by Better Homes & Garden, color matched to Behr
  • Day 6: clean room, play around with furniture arrangement, touch up walls where needed

When you watch tv and there’s only 5 seconds between putrid and glorious it’s a load of crap, especially for people who work and only have time for projects in between the million other obligations they have. I think it’s important to share that with you.

Next up, I wanted to share the view of the room from another angle:

From halfway back in the kitchen straight into the sunroom.

From halfway back in the kitchen straight into the sunroom.

I know, I know- gray and yellow combos are so 2012. But they’re also Batman’s combos. So deal with it. From this angle you can see the open layout of the house- one of the living room walls (Wheat Bread by Behr) stretches right across the kitchen. For this reason it was super overwhelming to have a gray living room, a yellow kitchen, and a green sunroom. Things needed to be more cohesive. Note that all the curtains in the sunroom and kitchen are custom made by my Nonna to be the same, so they look great together.

Besides these rooms all being open to one another, I had a few other things to consider:

  • This is not our forever home, and therefore it is not worth the investment to redo the floors. So we’re just going to go ahead and pretend the sun room floor is not green.
  • I already had brown furniture in that room, and I was not about to repaint or replace it, so both stripe colors have a brown tinge to them.
  • My budget on this was makeover was limited to the $50 gift card I had to Home Depot… and I was pleased to only end up spending $40.

And now to break up all this text, here’s the art in the room:

PicMonkey Collage

The picture right by the side door is one a friend took of Matt & I at the 4th of July fireworks in Boston a few years ago. The pictures on either side of the bay window are picture my brother and sister in law took in Italy of the two towns my family is from- Montemiletto and Montefalcione. They’re very meaningful to me. All three frames are from TJ Maxx.

Finally, let me close with a few painting/redecorating tips:

  • Do as much prep work the night before as possible so you’re not wasting daylight moving out furniture and taping off molding.
  • Once you’re done painting, but before you move your furniture back in, wash the floors and the windows and wipe down your molding. I know you super don’t want to, but this really is the best time to do it.
  • In between paint coats, put your brush and roller in a plastic bag in the fridge so they won’t dry out. You can even leave them this way overnight and they’ll still be fine the next day.
  • Decide for yourself whether or not it’s worth your time to wash and reuse your brushes and rollers. For me, it’s worth it on the brushes and not for the rollers. Don’t go nuts.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is was happens when I try to take a picture at floor level:

'sup Luigi?

‘sup Luigi?

So tell me…. is it grEy or grAy in your book?

Stripey New Sunroom!

Our sunroom has been in a constant state of flux for the past year and a half, it is an addition to the house and one of the rooms we use the most. We enter and leave through the side door, we let the dog in and out through the sliders, and we use it for entertaining guests (as opposed to the living room) more often then not. So my goals for this room have always been clear:

  • It must be durable (every animal sits in this room all day long while we’re at work- claws and fur and all)
  • It must be realistic for our lifestyle (we broke, yo, and cats = painful rug death)
  • It must work with what we already have (ie, the bar and curtain rods are brown/bronze and I wasn’t going to repaint or replace them).
  • It must be sexy (because I said so)

I think I have finally achieved that goal, and I’ve been sharing sneak peeks and progress on Facebook and Twitter for the past week. But what’s a room reveal without a reminder of the nonsense we started with when we first moved in:

Here's the view from the kitchen looking into the room, at the end of the couch is the side door (cut off in the picture). This is the first room I saw when I toured the house.

Here’s the view from the kitchen looking into the room, at the end of the couch is the side door (cut off in the picture). This is the first room I saw when I toured the house.

And here's the other side of the "sunroom." It wasn't very sunny... yet.

And here’s the other side of the “sunroom.” It wasn’t very sunny… yet.

August of 2012 I ran a little one year later series catching up with each of the rooms, so you can check out the in between state here. That wallpaper lasted less then 24 hours and the room has spent most of its life with us a mossy green:

An improvement, but still not quite right.

An improvement, but still not quite right.

BUT NOW LET’S GET TO THE GOOD STUFF. The mossy green wasn’t working. So, I put two coats of primer on the wall, then two coats of Behr White Truffle Paint. Then I grabbed my handy dandy laser level and went to town:

Black Friday weekend this Black & Decker laser level was seriously discounted, I got it for $12. Basically it inspired this entire room.

Seriously, without a laser level I wouldn’t have had the patience to stripe this whole room, it curved around the corners and made life so so easy.

I used the laser level to mark off foot thick stripes throughout the entire room, then Frog Tape to tape off the stripes, then I pressed each strip of tape down with a plastic card to make sure it was on extra good.

I used the laser level to mark off foot thick stripes throughout the entire room, then Frog Tape to tape off the stripes, then I pressed each strip of tape down with a plastic card to make sure it was stuck extra good. DO NOT skip this step. You’ll want to, but don’t. I’m not going to tell you this was a breeze, it took about five hours to tape off the whole room. So be ready to hang in there because it is SO worth it.

You’ll see two types of tape in the pictures- I used Scotch Blue tape for around the molding simply because I had it on hand. I used Frog Tape for my stripes- and I suggest if you want a very clean very clear line you do the same. Honestly, I never want to use Scotch tape again after this project. There really is a difference in the products (and I promise, I don’t know anyone at Frog Tape, it’s just my honest to goodness from experience opinion)- besides the crispness sof the line, the Frog Tape was way easier to pull off too.

But back on track… many hours later the room looked as so:

Bam! Tape stripes! I gave the white truffle color a day to dry and set before taping just because I was super afraid it was going to peel up (it didn't).

Bam! Tape stripes! I gave the white truffle color a day to dry and set before taping just because I was super afraid it was going to peel up (it didn’t).

It’s hard to tell in this picture, but to save paint I measured up a foot from the floor and down a foot from the ceiling and just painted the white truffle in those boundaries, since the top and bottom stripes would be gray.

The most difficult part of the taping was remember to tape inside the white truffle stripes, because the gray was the secondary color(Partridge Gray by Better Homes & Garden, color matched to Behr). I kept forgetting about that, and had to retape a few sections a few times.

Ohhhh! Ahh!!!

Ohhhh! Ahh!!!

I’m not going to lie, I was so nervous the paint was going to bleed through the tape and I’d have a million zillion touch ups to do. But here it is, no touch ups needed at all:

Oh what crisp lines you have, grandma! (anyone? anyone?)

Oh what crisp lines you have, Grandma! (anyone? anyone?)

Have I kept the suspense going long enough? Are you ready? I SAID ARE YOU READY?!!



My Nonna calls them “HGTV stripes.”

And once more, so your finger doesn’t have to scroll all the way up, here’s the before:



And the glorious after:



In case you’re interested, a quick source list:

  • The lighter color paint is Behr White Truffle, darker color is Partridge Gray by Better Homes & Gardner color matched to Behr. They both have brown undertones in them that are hard to see in this picture, but definitely help in real life to tie in the brown furniture.
  • The bar is from Bob’s Furniture
  • The chairs were from the side of the road, and redone.
  • The bench is from Christmas Tree Shops, but reupholstered.
  • The yellow curtains were made by my Nonna, the slider curtains are thermal lined and from JC Penney
  • The picture frames are from TJ Maxx


UPDATE: More tips, tricks, and info on painting & this room here


A preview of things to come

I’ve been seriously under the weather this week so I don’t have any new projects to share, but I thought I’d share a little inspiration with you.

As you may know I’m slowly working to link my sun room in with the rest of our house. Currently it’s green, and actually it’s a really nice shade of green that I like a lot. However, there is literally nothing else green in our entire house. So it’s gotta goooo. Luckily, I just won a $50 gift certificate to Home Depot from Better After so I can get painting sooner then expected!

As you may also know if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, I recently bought myself a little something something. And it’s going to make it a heck of a lot easier to complete what I’ve got in mind.

Here’s what I found via Pinterest and Google (click on each picture to go to the source):





DIY Action Squad LINK PART-AY!

What comes before part b? PART-A!

We are not affiliated with Young House Love, but we did get their seal of approval for our little idea.

Halfway through November Kenz, Tracie, Emma, and I challenged ourselves and you to grab the Young House Love book and create something awesome. Below is the step by step for the project I chose- don’t forget to link up your own at the bottom. Then, hop on over to each of the other DIY Action Squad’s blogs and link up there too!

I went with idea #214- Paint Almost Any Piece of Furniture. If you’re a regular around here you know furniture painting is my thing (my accent table, bureau, and chair are just a few of my favs).  So when I saw these two beauties for *free* on the side of the road I knew I had to make them mine:

A nearby high school was getting rid of a lot of old furniture, including these two captain’s chairs. They had pen and marker stains, chips, dents, and bruises… swoon.

I hand painted 2 coats of primer on each chair (and they probably could have used a 3rd too) with leftover primer from when we first moved in.

Once the primer was dry I sprayed them with Rustoleum spray paint in pure white with a satin finish- I had it leftover from when I redid another chair.

I gave the spray paint two-three days to cure up before taping off the rungs because I was nervous it would peel. Taping off the rungs was by far the most time consuming part of this project- about 45 minutes per chair. Once it was taped I added two coats of Behr Wheat Bread paint (which is the same color as my living room, so that was leftover as well). I added it with a regular paint brush, then once I removed the tape I went in with an art brush for touch ups.

After painting the rungs I gave it another 2 days to cure up before adding two coats of polycrylic to each chair (which was the only things I purchased for this project). Then I let THAT cure up for another few days before using the chairs. I was super nervous about knicks and scratches and peels which is why I overdid it on the drying time for each step.

What a difference a few coats of paint and some patience makes!

Ta da!

And just one more snap of the chairs in the room:

So there you go- an under $20 makeover that makes a huge impact! I encourage you when you’re painting to not just go with the obvious, add a little tweak to it (in my case, different colored rungs). I also encourage you to embrace the funk of DIY work- the chairs still have dents and bruises but that’s what gives them character and personality. I didn’t sand them perfectly smooth or stress that one has a front bar and the other doesn’t…I let them be in fit in with everything else in my home that’s been upcycled.

AND NOW THE PART YOU’VE ALL BEEN WAITING FOR- add your links below (and add them to KenzTracie, and Emma‘s pages too)! I can’t wait to see what you’ve done (don’t forget- if you’re viewing this post in a reader you’ll have to click over).


I’ve linked this post up with the THRIFT IT party & Young House Love!

The Most Frustrating Project I’ve Ever Worked On.

It’s hard for me to even write about this project, and honestly when you look at the pictures you’re going to be all “oh, it’s not that bad” and “it looks fine if you don’t know what to look for.” But seriously, I have never sworn as much in my life as I have when working on this project. Eff. This. Project.

Here’s where we last left off in the sunroom:

The room isn’t bad at all, but the problem with it is that it sort of stands alone from the gray and the yellow happening in the two rooms it opens up into. The kitchen is yellow and white and the living room is black, gray, and white so green isn’t really working in here. Unfortunately, the floor is green and that’s staying so I kind of have to work with that. Also, the picture frames, curtain rod, and bar are all bronze/brown toned and they’re staying so I kind of have to work with that too. But still somehow make this room gray.

Originally, when I bought and redid this chair it was meant to be in the sunroom. Then I found the two chairs you see above on the side of the road so I switched up my plan. However, the fabric I bought for the chair redo was black, gray, and copper to purposely start tying in this room with the others- and after redoing the chair I had enough left over (or so I thought) to redo the bench you see above.

That bench needed a makeover. Faux suede is not an awesome idea for a room that is used every single day by a dog that may or may not have wet paws and may or may not hold still long enough for you to dry them off. Here’s what the top looked like:

Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink….

I decided to reupholster the bench with my left over accent chair fabric. All I did was staple gun quilting batting right over the fabric that was already on the bench, then staple gun my new fabric on top of that. Unfortunately, I didn’t exactly have enough and I had to fake it to make it. And then this happened:

I know what you’re thinking, Stephanie why the heck didn’t you line up the pattern so it wouldn’t be so obvious. To which I respond: stuff it. I spent a solid 45 minutes trying to get things lined up and I have no idea what the heck wasn’t working, but it wasn’t. So now the side looks like this. Please refrain from pointing it out the next time you come over.

BUT WAIT- THERE’S MORE. I thought I’d try adding nailhead trim to the bench too. It seemed so easy to just measure out the space and tap the little nail heads in. It was not easy.

It’s so crooked. So, so crooked. About 50% of my nail heads were bent and ruined in this process, and I tried about 500 different ways to make this go smoothly. I tried a rubber hammer and a regular hammer. I tried making pilot holes with nails. I tried making pilot holes with thumbtacks. I tried standing directly above and hammering straight down. I tried standing to the side and hammering from a level height. At the end of the day, I don’t think whatever wood was used to make this bench is conducive to nail head trim, it really shouldn’t have been this difficult.

I really just wanted to get nail head strip, like Kenzie did with her Ikea hack ottoman, but Jo-Ann fabric didn’t have any when I went and I didn’t think this would be so bad. Currently, I only have the front and 3 deep in on each side done because I legit ruined over 25 nail heads trying to make this happen. Eventually I think I will pull them all out and add the strip, when it’s in stock and I have a coupon, but for now, from a distance, maybe it’s not so bad?

And yes, I’m purposely not showing you the rest of this room. Patience, grasshopper.

Liz Marie Blog

Curtain Clips

Ok, I’ll admit this isn’t the most flashy of posts, but I just wanted to share a tiny update and some (near) future plans: I added curtain clips to my sunroom curtains. Oooooh! Ahhhhh!

My Nonna handmade me curtains for the sunroom and living room because I had windows of so many shapes and sizes that I never would have been able to find (and afford) matching curtains for all of them. I love the pattern I chose for them, and she did an awesome job making them, but the more I decorated the rest of the house the more the curtains weren’t quite fitting.

I have a thing for grommets. I loooove grommets- all the other curtains in this house are grommet style (grommets are the metal rings built into the curtains). These guys were I’m tricking it with curtain clips now and it’s so much better.

Here’s what I was rocking before:

The curtains were a little too country-kitchen style for me- tufted and fluffed up at the top… and unfortunately also emphasizing how very low my ceilings are.

Now, they’re the same curtains with a bit more modern vibe:

Much better! (Also, keep reading to see my to-do list for this room.)

And a close up:

Note: For some stupid reason I could only find clips in packs of 7, and I have an issue with odd numbers so I bought two packs and used 8 on the bay window curtains and 6 on the regular sized window.

This upgrade cost me about $14 and it was totally worth it, especially since thanks to Nonna the curtains themselves were free. 🙂

But this room is clearly still not perfect. The main thing is that when we moved in the house we were so excited to paint all the things! I made a color palette for each room instead of one for the entire house. No bueno. SO now in my open floor style house I have a yellow kitchen, a gray living room, and a green sunroom. The yellow and gray go together like Monica & Chandler but the green is totally the Janice of the bunch. Oh. My. God. 

So here’s my plans to tie this room in with its’ adjacent room buddies:

  • Paint the chairs (obviously, they’re disgusting and free from the side of the road)
  • Reupholster the bench (it’s been ruined by the dogs and I have such amazing plans for it)
  • Paint the walls Behr White Truffle (hopefully I have enough left over from the entrance way and landing)
  • Paint the side door, which is the door we use every day, and also attached the curtain and blinds I’ve had sitting around for a year.

If this was our forever house, I would also redo the floors, but it isn’t so I probably won’t. 🙂