Stairway to Heaven

Actually, our old stairway could be more accurately titled the stairway from hell. The word “ugly” doesn’t do it justice. When we bought the house it had stained green carpeting, oak balusters and railings, unpainted spackle, and the same paint as the day the house was first sold. Our stairway is the first thing you see when you walk in our front door and it needed some attention right away.

Stairway before

During moving week, we replaced the carpet. We tore out the old carpet ourselves to save some money and replaced the carpet in the stairway, upstairs hall, our master bedroom, and dining room. I don’t want carpet in our dining room, but replacing the floors on the entire first floor is still a long ways away. The old owner’s dog used the dining room carpet as it’s bathroom so it had to go ASAP. The carpet is Stainmaster from Lowe’s and we paid to have it installed by them.

While the carpet was ripped up, we quickly painted the balusters white. It was such a spur of the moment decision. Someone had out a can of white paint because they were fixing up the window trim and I said hey we should paint that too! So we did. That week was such a blur that I can’t remember if I painted them, my mom, or my mother-in-law. Either way, the balusters were painted and it was a huge improvement.

We painted the stairway and the majority of the first floor Iced Chocolate by Valspar. By “we” I mean my father-in-law and friend, Jess. That first week we had a ton of help and knocked out pretty much all of the painting. We painted every. single. room.

One day, I was shopping at Target and I found a frame set on clearance for $12 dollars. I picked up scrapbook paper from Michael’s and hung the frame collage in the stairway. Things were really starting to come together, but it wasn’t perfect yet.

Scrapbook collage

We lived with it like this for over a year, but every time I walked past those oak railings, they made me cringe. I hate oak, I really really do so I decided to stain them walnut. You might be thinking, why would you stain your railings walnut, when the floors in the same room are oak? My rationale is why should I keep something I hate to match something else I hate? I also think it will be a kick in the pants to save money for new flooring downstairs. I’d love to do that within the next two or so years.

To stain the railings, here’s what I did:

Stairway collage

I used 120 grit sandpaper and sanded until I took off the shine from the last stain. Then I wiped the railings down with a rag to remove all of the sand and dirt. Then I started staining. I used Rust-Oleum Stain in Kona, which is a dark walnut color. I bought the stain months ago when we made our headboard so I didn’t spend anything on it for this project. I used a foam brush for the bottom side of the railings because it gave me more control. You can pick that up at any craft store for under a dollar.

To apply the stain, I used a regular paint brush with just a bit of stain. I really worked the stain in by brushing repeatedly even after my brush was dry. I wanted the railings dark, but I didn’t want the stain to be so thick that you couldn’t see any of the wood grain.

Stairs middle

For the top railing, it was held in place by 4 screws. I easily removed it from the wall and I stained it in the basement on top of 2 saw horses. I let it dry over night before reattaching it.

Stair finished 3

Stairs finished 2

Stairs finished 4

Stairs finished 5

Stairs finished

Project Supplies:
Painters Tape
120 Grit Sandpaper
Drop Cloth

I already had everything but the painters tape, which I picked up from The Dollar General for $3.50. I probably used less than a dollar’s worth. Do you have any oak you’re dying to get rid of? Do it! You’ll be much happier. Trust me.



You’ve Got Mail

I hate checking the mail. I’m always waiting for some surprise bill to arrive that I didn’t know about. I almost expect to open a letter one day to see that something like: “Surprise! Your mortgage has magically doubled. Good luck with that!” I don’t know about you, but this home owner thing is expensive. Bills come out of the woodwork man! If I have to check the mail and get letters that say I have to pay you money for picking up my trash and all the other stuff that is zero fun to pay for, then I might as well have a cute mailbox. Know what I’m sayin’?

Here’s what I started with:

Mailbox before

I began by wiping down the mailbox and lamp-post with a wet rag. I removed the old house numbers because they were peeling off. They were pretty stuck on there so I need a flathead screw driver to pry them off. The numbers left a sticky residue so I scrubbed it off with water.  I lightly sanded the lamp-post, but only a little. I have no patience when it comes to sanding and usually do a really crappy job on it. Hey, we all have our faults… Then, I removed the actual mailbox. All I had to do was remove the four screws attaching the box to the post and it came right off. Next, I used black Valspar indoor/outdoor spray paint on the mailbox post and the lamp-post. To keep the glass clean on the lamp, I used Scotch Blue tape to cover each pane. Yes, I love brass, but this looked too outdated so it had to go.

To spray paint the mailbox, I taped the flag using painters tape. I then covered the mailbox with three coats of gold Rust-Oleum spray paint. It’s what I had in my collection so that’s what I used.

The flag needed some lovin too. To protect my new shiny gold mailbox, I slid a trash bag over the entire thing. I then cut a small hole in the bag near the flag and pulled the flag through. I taped the hole shut around the base of the flag. From there, I sprayed the flag with two coats of red spray paint. *I tried blue first, but it was too much. I only needed a bit of paint so I bought a Krylon Short Cuts Red Pepper spray paint from Michael’s.

Malbox after blue

I wanted to accessorize my mailbox because like I said in this post, I’m a fancy girl and apparently, a gold mailbox just isn’t enough so I bought stencils from Michael’s. I taped the R stencil (similar) on to the mailbox and used black craft smart paint, also from Michael’s to paint the R monogram.  I wish I would have outlined the letter in sharpie and then filled in the rest of the letter with my paint brush. Relying on the stencil for clean lines didn’t work out too hot.

Mailbox monogramBonus Point: Can you spot Nate?

To finish this baby off, I bought some gold house numbers (shocker) from Lowe’s. The number’s came with the screws and it took Nate only a few minutes with the drill to attach them. For the record, I am perfectly capable of using all of our power tools. I am not perfectly capable of measuring and all the things involving spacial awareness, which is why Nate often gets called in for jobs like making sure numbers are hung correctly. Hey, know your strengths.

mailbox with numbers

I know this is not a normal mailbox, you don’t have to tell me that. Even I laugh a little when I tell people we’re the house with the gold mailbox. The bottom line is, that shiny guy makes me smile every time I see it so that’s what matters. Have you ever made any design choices that make other people do a double take but it makes you smile whenever you think about it? Confession: most of my guilty pleasure design choices involve sparkles. I’ve loved glitter since the sixth grade and there’s no turning back now. What about you?

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House of Rose

Project Therapy

I have this problem. It’s called I have to do something crafty every week. Somehow my car ends up at Homegood’s/Michael’s/Goodwill/yardsales/thesideoftheroadlookingforjunk trying to find something to do. I get antsy when I’m not being creative. I have a somewhat stressful job- shoutout to my friends from southwest Philly! and I’ve found that having a hobby just for me has been really helpful in not letting myself get lost in the sauce that is urban education. Sometimes my friends say I’m crazy for the amount of projects I take on, but imagine how crazy I’d be if I didn’t do these project? Think about that for a second.

Everyone and their mother’s seems to pin pictures of Prego and pickle jars turned stylish. Naturally, I had to do it. I googled a tutorial for how to reuse my Bath & Body Works candle (love those guys). I boiled about an inch of water in a pan and then held the candle in the pan of water for 30 seconds tops. Seriously, don’t do it longer than that or it gets all melty. Use a butter knife to slice all the way across the warmed candle. Pop that bad boy outta there. From there, use Goo Gone to remove any leftover wax. I finished this project off with two coats of gold spray paint and called it a day.

Candle Tip Jar

Tip Jar

Total cost of this project: FREE! I already had the spray paint and old candle jar. From start to finish, including drying time, this project took about an hour.

Another cheap project was upgrading an Ikea Byholma basket that I picked up for $7.99. I already had a few bottles of craft smart paint from Michael’s. I parked myself in front of the TV and mindlessly painted a few rows on the basket. Sometimes that’s the best kind of project. I didn’t tape anything off because I figured I wouldn’t be able to get perfect lines anyways. Go with the flow.

Ikea Byholma

For less than an hour of work, I ended up with a customized basket that coordinates with the guest bathroom colors. I store extra towels for guests in this bathroom. Whenever we run out of clean towels, Nate always steals this one. I try to explain that this isn’t an actual towel for using, it’s a decorative towel. Either he doesn’t understand our towel situation or he is 100% not interested in my crazy.

Painted basket

Bathroom crafts

Anyone else working on some small crafts or projects just to make yourself happy? Or maybe you do other things like eat Froyo. Don’t worry, I won’t judge because maybe I do that too. What’s your stress reliever? Share in the comments below!

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Make it Werk

When we first moved in, there were so many projects I had to get done immediately. Not because I was excited, but because I was embarrassed. It seems stupid to be embarrassed by someone else’s design choice, but I was. I thought if I didn’t get rid of it right away, people would think I liked it and would judge my style by it. One of those ugly moments was the “pantry” in the kitchen.

Apparently the kitchen didn’t have a pantry so the previous owners went rogue and DIY’d one. I’m all about the DIY life, but only if you are willing to put in the time and effort into making it look professional. The old homeowners didn’t seem to do either. They added in a pantry that was about four inches deep, threw in sliding closet doors, slapped up some molding on the top only, and allowed their dog to go crazy scratching up the walls. This closet was one soup can deep. Why? WHY?! I wanted to permanently close that stupid pantry and forget it ever existed.

Eating AreaDumbest. pantry. ever.

The first week we removed the closet doors and put them in the garage until we could figure out a plan. My mom patched up the scratch marks with spackle and painted the shelves white. Instead of storing a few food items on the shelf, I decided to embrace the ugly and just make it work. Or werk, as Brittany Spears would say.

Turns out, I actually LOVE the seemingly odd pantry now. I think it provides the kitchen with character and seems like a built-in. You know I’m a sucker for an architectural feature.  It’s going to be perfect for adding a seasonal touch to the kitchen this fall and winter. I don’t really use it for anything useful other than looking good. I styled it simply by repeating items and colors. It’s  no surprise that I’m continuing on the black and white theme with pops of gold into the kitchen. It’s kind of my thing.

Open shelving sideGold spray painted mason jars from Michael’s.

Open shelving with curtains
Triangle stamped curtains inspired by Vintage Revivals. I used a magic eraser in the same Valspar paint as I used on the wall. I didn’t measure the triangles, but just eyed up the spacing for each row. I stamped each row varying the heights for a more laid back look.

Open Shelving

Shelves + curtains
I took these pictures pre- banquette.

Have you ever thought you hated something about your house but it turned out just fine? And you worried what other people would think when in reality, it only matters what you think? Share in the comments!

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All Things With Purpose

Vases Need Sweaters, Too!

I saw the cutest idea at the blog An Extraordinary Day about how to dress up a boring vase with a sweater. This project just feels like fall.

Sweater Vase collageSupplies:
Hurricane Vases
Adhesive (I used caulk adhesive because that’s what I had on hand)

When I was at the thrift store, I slipped the vase inside of the sleeve of the sweater just to make sure it fit. Cut the sleeve off of the sweater to the correct length. Leave a little extra so you can cover the edge and adhere it to the vase. Annnnd that’s it. Easiest project ever!  I was able to cover 3 vases with one sweater. Thanks Diane for the great idea! I threw some silk flowers from Joann’s inside that I bought for 75% off a few months ago. The plant is from Ikea. They sell them for $2. Since I already had the glue, flowers, and one of the vases on hand, the project totaled $5 and I’m obsessed! What else can I put a sweater on?!

Sweater Vases

Vases with Instagram photos

Sweater Vases + Homegoods Dresser

Vases(The dresser is from Home Goods and I use it to store our linens)

The Instagram collage above was also a simple project. I bought a poster-sized frame from TJ Maxx on clearance for $10. I used the backing that came with the frame to use as a background for my pictures. The app Postal Pix allows you to order your Instagram photos right from your phone and they send them to you. The 4 x 4 photos cost between 29-33 cents per photo. The photos arrived within a week. From there, I laid out the photos and shuffled them around until I liked the set up. I didn’t measure because I’m the worst at measuring. True story. I loved the app because I never print pictures anymore since everything is online or on my phone. Problem solved!

Instagram Collage

Anybody doing anything crafty lately? Or have you done anything creative with your iPhone photos? Share in the comments!

How To: Custom Kitchen Seating

Can I just say that I was beyond excited to be featured on Tatertots & Jello this weekend. So HUGE! If you’re stopping by from TT & J, welcome and please stick around!

Get ready folks, there’s a lot of pictures to explain this one. I asked my husband Nate to help me out since he did the majority of the building. My job for this project was the design, painting, and building the cushion and headboard, plus I do all the “get me this tool or hold this in place” work. I’m the Al Borland to his Tim Taylor.

Once I decided I wanted a banquette, I scoured Pinterest for inspiration and was not disappointed. I created a really amateur mood board to convey my vision to Nate. This was almost a year before I started blogging so I find it hilarious that I did one just because I felt like it.

Mood Board

Once I showed him that, he seemed excited about it. From there, I drew a sketch of all the elements I liked, while keeping it as manageable as possible, and we were off! We made a trip to Lowe’s to purchase our supplies. Here’s what we came home with:

DIY Banquette Supply List:
Power sander
2 x 3s for the frame
Two 1 x 10s for the bench
1 x 3s to attach the headboard and for the trim
Metal brackets + Nuts and bolts to attach headboards
1 finish veneer plywood
2 sheets of plywood for the headboards + leftovers for the bench upholstery
3. 5 inch wood screws

While at Lowe’s we had them cut the plywood and veneer down to some basic measurements so we could fit in the car. Lowe’s will cut your wood for free!

Wood Collage

Supplies we already had on hand:
Air compressor and brad nail gun
Screw driver
Hitachi Miter saw
Tape measure
White paint
Paint supplies
Craftsman circular saw

Don’t hate me but I didn’t include exact numbers of supplies or measurements. 1. We did this project before I started blogging and 2. We made so many trips for extra supplies that it was hard to keep track. I thought no one would need the exact measurements we used because we fit it to our own kitchen anyways. If you have any specific questions, leave them in the comments and hopefully I can answer them.

Nate began by building the frame. First he built the long frame closest to the wall (A), then attached the horizontal boards on the top and bottom using a brad nail gun to hold the boards in place (B). He went back and reinforced the boards by using the power drill with 3.5 inch wood screws. From there he built section C which was the long frame closest to the rest of the kitchen and attached with brad nails and screws.


Nate repeated the same process to make a second bench. This bench is slightly smaller because we custom fitted it to the space we had.

Frame only

Once Nate built both frames, he attached them together using wood screws.

Frame + Front 2

Next, he cut the finish board to size using a circular saw. He attached those with just brad nails since the wood is so thin. We only finished the front since you’ll never see the back. Why do extra work for no reason?

Add the 1 x 3 trim to front using the nail gun. Nate did the border first followed by the vertical pieces. He cut them to fit using a miter saw. He made the measurements so exact he had to hammer them into place which made the trim look seamless.

Frame + Board and Batten

To decide where to put the vertical trim, he measured the length and divided by three. The spaces between vertical trim is actually different from the left bench to the right bench but we figured no one would notice (we were right). We thought it would look odd if we kept the measurements the same and were left with one really small square.

Nate attached the headboard using two different methods. For the left headboard, he used metal brackets from Lowe’s. They were thin and allowed the bench to sit flush against the wall. To do this, he drilled a hole in the headboard before I upholstered it. He used a nut to hold the bolt in place until we were ready to install. Then when we were ready to attach it, we took the nut off, and put it through the metal bracket, and secured it with the nut. We did this in three different spots. For the bench by the window, Nate screwed 1 x 3s to the frame from the very bottom to just below the top of the headboard. We weren’t worried about it being flush against the wall so we went this route. We also didn’t want anyone accidentally leaning too hard against the headboard into the window which is why we wanted support all the way up.

Process of painting

The top seat is two 1 x 10 boards Nate screwed in with the 3.5 inch wood screws. After adding the trim and bench, he sanded them both using a power sander. Once Nate sanded them, I went back with white adhesive caulk and caulked all of the seams. I spackled over any of the screws that were visible. It took two coats of Valspar Ultra White to cover the entire banquette. I had some left over from other projects but if you had to go out and buy paint for this, you would only need a quart. I wish I would have painted before we attached the headboard because I was a nervous wreck trying not to get the paint on the headboard. I did.

Painted Banquette

I’ll post directions for the bench and headboard later this week, but this post was already direction heavy so we’ll just call it a day. One mistake I made was in the measuring. Surprised? I decided how high the bench should be based on our old kitchen chairs. I didn’t take into account the boards on top, the plywood I used for the bench, the batting, or three inches of foam. The benches are a little on the high side because of my measuring mistake but we’re still happy with the overall result.

Finished banquette + kitchen

The project came in at around $250. We’ve had the banquette for over half a year now and we love it. Nate and I entertain often  so we’ll push the table out further into the kitchen so a bunch of people can hang out on the benches while they snack. We finished the whole project in one weekend and we could have had it done faster, but this was one of our first really big building projects so there was a huge learning curve. I had a broken staple gun which made the upholstery next to impossible and Nate wished he would have broken down and bought the finish nail gun we decided to put back when we were at Lowe’s because it would have added $100 to our bill. I bought the wrong amount of fabric and had to go back to Joann’s 4 different times + a trip to AC Moore. We also made 2 extra trips to Lowe’s. It was really frustrating but we’re slowly learning to expect every project takes way longer, costs way more, and is way harder than we imagine. In the end, it’s always worth it. We have an original piece that fits perfectly in our space and the design of our home.

Finished BanquetteIkea Chairs, Table is a family piece (which we are hoping to replace because it’s not big enough and we need a center pedestal so you can slide down the bench without hitting your legs on the center legs).

For your viewing pleasure…

Bench and table


Front view of banquette

Have you ever taken on any crazy building projects? How did it turn out? Or maybe you want to but are too nervous you’ll mess up. In that case…go for it! I can assure you, you WILL mess up. No need to worry about that anymore. It’s totally worth it though because you’ll end up with an awesome piece of furniture that’s all your own. And you can tell everyone who comes to your house you designed and built it. Not that we’re bragging or anything…

P.S. I’m sharing this post at…
Home Stories A to Z
Coastal Charm
Not Just a Housewife
All Things with Purpose
DIY Show Off
Six Sisters Stuff