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DIY

Summer Outdoor Decor Tour

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on June 20, 2017

Hi, friends! Do you ever get the feeling that your brain is moving too fast, and you can’t keep up with everything you want to do? That’s where I’m at currently. I have about 15 different projects I’m working on, from starting an Etsy shop and finishing blog posts to projects around the house and planning some summer travel, along with work. I sometimes think my ambition and work ethic actually sabotage me, because it’s hard to focus on just one thing at a time, and I end up not being as productive as I could be if I just slowed down a bit. 

 

Needless to say, I’ve only been on summer “break” for a little over a week, and I have yet to actually take a second to relax. Luckily, Steve and I are planning a little trip next week, but in the meantime I have a ton to do! One of the items that’s been on my to-do list forever was to photograph our porch and deck decor to share with you guys, because I love the way our yard is looking this summer! Ironically, we haven’t been out on the deck and porch nearly enough as we should to enjoy them, because life has been so crazy – so that’s a priority for the rest of the summer! 

 

After I found the old church pew down the street from us, our outdoor decor really came together quickly. I painted the pew, found an old easel that I turned into a chalkboard, bought an old ladder for the porch, and painted our old deck furniture to give it a little face lift. The lights on the deck and the fresh flowers and throw pillows really pulled everything together! 

 

To hang our deck lights, I installed makeshift posts by cementing 2x2s into galvanized buckets, and topped them with some soil and flowers to make them look a little nicer. I found a post on Pinterest from City Farmhouse that gave me this idea, thanks Jen! The lights on our porch and deck make it look so magical and summery, I’m in love! Here’s a little tour: 

 Our deck before:

And now!

 

Some befores from our porch: 

Found this vintage easel for $5!

The FREE church pew I scored right down the street!

And our porch now: 

I can’t wait to host summer BBQs and parties at our house now that the interior and exterior are coming along! Tell me, have you worked on your yard or outdoor spaces at all this spring and summer? I’d love to see what you’ve been working on! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

One Room Challenge: Week 6 {The Reveal!}

Posted in DIY
on May 10, 2017

It’s finally here! The big reveal! I’m so excited I can barely contain myself. In fact, I keep running around the kitchen, moving things around and then putting them back, fiddling with everything in an attempt to make everything exactly perfect. Of course, there’s no such thing, and I’m far from done with our kitchen, but for now I’m pretty darn happy about this room! 

 

So, without further ado, let’s look back to where this kitchen began, and see how far it’s come! 

Before (when we first moved in): 

Once it was painted: 

And the finished (for now) product!! 

 

Over the past 6 weeks, I painted the kitchen, installed new cupboard hardware, installed new pendant lights, refinished and painted the pantry doors, and refinished the coffee bar and our high top table. The final touches were lots of DIY decor projects and some fun farmhouse finds to complete the look.

Bonus: I spent until $400 total on this kitchen makeover!

I’m still working on a few small things, and dreaming about new countertops, backsplash and a farmhouse sink, but for now, I’m pretty darn happy about our kitchen. In fact, I smile every time I walk in the room! All the little details really make the room extra special!

 

I’m looking forward to sharing a few of the DIY projects I did for the kitchen soon, but first I want to hear all about your One Room Challenge stories!! Even if you aren’t doing the Challenge, I’d love to hear about the projects you’ve been working on. Anything fun for the spring? I’m always eager to chat! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

Find the other One Room Challenge posts:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4

Week 5 

 

 

 

One Room Challenge: Week 5 {Coffee Bar Upcycle}

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on May 4, 2017

Oh my goodness, friends, we’re so close to the end of the One Room Challenge! I am so so so excited to share the big reveal of our kitchen makeover with you, and I’m very busy putting all the finishing touches on everything. So for now, I wanted to give you one last sneak peek – the old cabinet I upcycled into a coffee bar! 

As soon as I made these shelves last fall, I had a plan to create a coffee bar to go along with it. I had been looking for the right piece since we moved in, but nothing seemed quite right. And if you know me, patience isn’t exactly one of my strong suits. But in this case, it really paid off, because I found this lovely antique cabinet on Craiglist. 

It was falling apart and mismatched, but isn’t that how all great makeovers begin? I was able to update the cabinet into a perfect coffee bar using just some sandpaper, spraypaint, wood, and basic hand tools. The total cost (including the cabinet!) came to less than $100! And the finished* product is exactly what I had in mind. 

 

*disclaimer: I still need to put the door hinges on and put a coat of poly on the top of the wood. It’ll be fully done by the reveal next week, I promise!! 

This is one of those projects that maybe looks impressive (at least to me), but was actually so simple to put together. It was as easy as sanding down some of the chipping paint, giving everything a coat of spray paint (including some oil-rubbed bronze spraypaint for the hardware), and making a new tabletop. 

Excuse the awful-lighting nighttime pics!

 

To build the tabletop, I bought boards that were the same width as my shelves for a nice uniform look. This also saved me the trouble of cutting the boards! I wanted to bulk up the tabletop a bit, so I created a little overhang by first gluing, and then securing a board to the front with a couple small nails. I used my usual method of staining wood to stain the boards before attaching them together.

 

I used liquid nails to attach the board to the top of the cabinet, and voila! The coffee bar was basically done! 

I gave the old, worn out hardware a quick coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint, which really pops nicely against the white. All that’s left to do is to install the hinges and seal the top, and it’ll be all ready to go for the kitchen reveal next week. 

 

I have had so much fun during this One Room Challenge, and I’m going to be so sad when it’s over! I can’t wait to share the finished product with you all next week! 

 

How are your One Room Challenges coming along? I’d love to hear about them! 

Check out my previous One Room Challenge posts:

Week 1

Week 2

Week 3

Week 4 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

One Room Challenge: Week 4 {Farmers’ Market Sign}

Posted in DIY
on April 27, 2017

This One Room Challenge has sparked something for me. It started with a few simple projects, and it’s since inspired me to do about a million other projects in not only our kitchen, but our house in general. Sometimes I feel like my brain gets ahead of itself – I’m so focused on the next project and all the things I want to do, that it’s hard to focus on one thing at a time. I’m pretty sure our entire house is going to look completely different within a couple months, but my life would be boring without a million things to do! 

 

This week’s project for the One Room Challenge was a relatively simple one, but it made a huge difference in our space. The owners before us had a TV mounted in their kitchen, leaving a large gaping space over the fridge.

Steve asked me awhile ago if I could make something to put over the space, but I couldn’t decide what I wanted to put there. I looked at a lot of Pinterest boards for inspiration, but I still had a hard time choosing what to write on a big sign. 

 

I ended up keeping it simple – farmers’ markets happen to be one of my favorite things about the warmer months in Minnesota/Wisconsin, and a farmers’ market sign is also the perfect touch in a farmhouse kitchen. 

This sign was seriously easy and cheap to make. I bought some discounted (already cut) boards at the hardware store, making sure that they were straight and similar in length. I liked the idea of more rough edges, so I didn’t try to even out the lengths at all. I stained the boards before attaching them together, and used one of my favorite tricks for achieving a worn, barn wood look: I used 3 different colors of stain, using one or a combination of a couple for each board so that no two were exactly the same. I like using Minwax Weathered Oak over the top of whichever stain I use, in order to give it a bit more of a worn look. 

Once the boards were stained and dry, I used two boards on the back and a few screws to fasten them together. 

All that was left was the stenciling of the words! I used stencils, white chalk paint and a sponge dauber to spell out the words, and I didn’t worry too much about being super neat. My goal was to make it look like a homemade farmers’ market sign, and that’s exactly what it is! 

All in all, I think this sign is exactly what that open space in our kitchen needed. I also love how it matches the wood of the farmhouse shelves perfectly. 

 

Next week I’ll be sharing another big project with you – the coffee bar I’m upcycling from an old antique cabinet. I can’t wait for you to see the finished project, and the big reveal of the whole kitchen in just a couple weeks! How are your One Room Challenges coming along? Are you updating anything for spring? I’d love to hear from you! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

 

One Room Challenge: Week 3 {Pendant Lights}

Posted in DIY
on April 20, 2017

I can’t believe we’re halfway through the One Room Challenge! I feel like this project is snowballing out of control – for every project I finish, I think of and start about three more. But I can’t help it! I love the way our kitchen is coming together, and its got me feeling super inspired. 

 

This week, the project was the lighting in our kitchen. We have pretty standard builder-grade lights throughout our house, which don’t exactly have the charming vibe I’m going for. But we’re also on a pretty tight budget, which limits our lighting upgrade options. 

 

So, in today’s episode of “Reasons Why I Love Amazon”: I found the perfect build-your-own pendant lights that were affordable, simple to install and so perfect for our kitchen! 

 

 Before:

  

And after! 

I ordered the lights in sections: the pendant lights themselves, the wire cages, and the Edison bulbs. The total cost came to $70 – less than $25 per pendant. Not bad at all! The installation was also really simple {Hubby may or may not have done most of the installation work, but I helped!}

Honestly, the hardest part was cutting the rope/wire down to the right size, and straightening out the cords, which were a bit crooked from the box. 

The cords were way too long!

A wire cutter/stripper will be your best friend for this project

If you already have pendant lights, it’s super simple to swap them out. Otherwise, a wire cage is a great addition to existing pendant lights, too. It’s the perfect industrial addition to any space. 

 

Our lights are still a bit crooked since the cords were wrapped up in the boxes, but they’ll straighten out with time, and I still love the way they look. 

Our kitchen is beginning to look much more streamlined, and I’m getting so excited about the finished product in just three more weeks! Due to my never-ending list of projects, I’ll probably be doing more than just one project each week. Here are a few projects coming up for the One Room Challenge: 

 

  • Farmers’ Market sign
  • hanging herb planters
  • coffee bar
  • pantry door makeover 
  • kitchen high-top table makeover 
  • hanging butcher paper memo board

 

As you can see, I have lots to do, and so little time! I sometimes wonder why I do this to myself, and then I remember how much I love having a project (or 10) to work on. This One Room Challenge may just turn into a full room-by-room makeover by the time I’m done with it. 

 

I’d love to hear about your One Room Challenge, or the projects you’re currently working on! I’m always happy to chat 🙂 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

One Room Challenge: Week 2 {Paint/Hardware}

Posted in DIY
on April 13, 2017

Well, I’ve done it again. I got ahead of myself. My plan for week 1 was changing the handles and knobs on the kitchen cupboards, but I ended up getting painting done early as well! No worries, I’ll just add another project for the extra week I have now! 

 

Anyways, here’s a little sneak peek at the progress so far! I’m not going to post any full shots of the kitchen until the end of the 6 weeks, so you all can get the full effect, but if you remember, here’s the “before”: 

 

…And with the new white walls and hardware! 

 

   

I absolutely love the contrast of the dark knobs on the white cupboards!! I also love the added brightness and clean look of the white walls. I’m so excited about how this kitchen is going to be transformed in the matter of just a few weeks. 

 

I did learn a few things this week:

  1. There are approximately 7 billion shades of white paint. I painted 3 coats of one color on the walls before realizing that the shade wasn’t quite right – luckily, it only took one more coat of the right color, Swiss Coffee by Behr, to achieve the right shade after that. Still though, I wasted a lot of time and money. 
  2. The previous owners didn’t care as much about quality as we’d like – our kitchen cupboards, while they look pretty, are pretty cheap, and it was very evident when it came time to drill new holes for the handles. You can also tell in these pictures that quite a few are slightly crooked, which drives my Type A self crazy, but that’s okay! I still love our kitchen. 
  3. Installing new handles (which require drilling new holes) is actually a major pain and very time consuming. 

 

Despite a few hiccups, I love the way the kitchen is coming along, and I’m so excited to move on to my next project! This week I’ll be working on installing new pendant lights over our island. I have very little experience with electrical stuff, but the hubby and I are gonna do some research and jump right in. 

 

Thanks so much for following along on my One Room Challenge!! Let me know what you think so far! Are you doing a One Room Challenge or updating any spaces in your home? I’d love to hear about what you’re working on! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

 

One Room Challenge: Week 1 {The Plan/Inspiration}

Posted in DIY
on April 7, 2017

I’m always up for a challenge. The more challenging the better. So when I heard about the One Room Challenge, I was instantly excited. I’m just starting to work on some small and not-so-small projects to give a little face lift to a couple of our rooms – the kitchen and our guest room. Since I already have a lot of the guest room done/in progress, I decided to share my ideas and progress for the kitchen for the Challenge. The idea (as far as I understand it) is to spend six weeks working on one room in your home, resulting in a complete room makeover. I love this, since I can’t sit still ever, and I’m always changing things up in our house. 

 

Our kitchen was one of the major selling points of the house for us. The house was built in 1867, but the kitchen was a more recent add-on, and it’s so bright and spacious and has a huge island that’s seriously dreamy. When we moved in, it was painted this lovely bright yellow color…

 

{lemon yellow is great and all, but it was a little intense!}

While Steve insisted that the color was fine, and kinda cheery, it was one of the first things I changed when we moved in. {I painted almost every single room in the house, which you can see here} We decided on a light blue, since I really wanted white, but Steve didn’t, and marriage is about compromise, blah blah blah… 

In any case, the kitchen looks much better with the new color. 

 

It’s still bright, but much more relaxed and subdued than the yellow we had before – a definite improvement. We’ve left it pretty untouched since painting it, except for adding some DIY curtains and farmhouse shelves that I’m still so in love with. 

 

Excuse this super old picture from Christmas, I promise I’ll snap a more recent pic of the shelves soon!

 

The kitchen is, for all intensive purposes, a beautiful kitchen. It’s pretty big, very bright, has tons of cupboard space, etc. etc. etc. But I can’t stop when things are just good – I always want to continue making improvements. 

 

Over the past month or so, I’ve noticed a shift in Steve’s attitude toward my projects. He has always been so supportive in whatever I do, but he honestly doesn’t care much about making the house “prettier” – he’s happy with things the way they are. Lately, though, he’s been much more on board with projects than he used to be. I chalk it up to him getting roped in to watching Fixer Upper with me. But in any case, he’s been approving most of my project ideas, and even suggesting some of his own. When I recently suggested giving our kitchen a bit of an update, I expected him to tell me it was fine as-is, but to my surprise, he agreed! So we made a plan. {This summer, I’d like to take on redoing the countertops (hello, butcher block counters!) and put in a backsplash, but for now we tried to keep the updates pretty simple and low-cost}.

 

Here’s the 6-week plan, laid out. 

 

Week 1: Plan and Shop 

This phase is mostly done already. We found some supplies on Amazon, some at Home Depot/Menards, and a couple other places, but we’ve found the best and most affordable options, and mostly gathered everything together (with a few exceptions). 

 

Week 2: Replace Hardware

One of the things that makes our kitchen look a little boring and cheap is the choice of the hardware for our cupboards and drawers. The original hardware is basic white, and the white-on-white of the knobs against the cabinets makes for no contrast or interest. We did some Pinterest-ing and shopping around, and decided on this style of knobs/drawer pulls for our kitchen. I think the contrast of dark and light will look really great, and make the cheap cupboards look a bit nicer. 

Week 3: Paint

This was a bit of a shock to me – Steve agreed to let me paint the kitchen white (!!!) Since I’m obsessed with farmhouse decor, I obviously love a white kitchen (really white everything), and I didn’t think I would ever convince Steve to agree. But I brought it up again, and he said yes! So off we went to a few different stores to get paint samples. I’m looking for a slightly off-white (yellow toned) white to go well with the cupboards. The final choice was Swiss Coffee by Behr, which I think is going to be perfect, but here are a few palettes I looked at for inspiration and absolutely love

Super White or Swiss Coffee: Check out this farmhouse chic color palette from BEHR Paint to find the perfect rustic color scheme for your home. Try matching light neutral colors like Weathered Moss, Brook Green, and Ultra Pure White to bring out the natural lighting in your house. Use warm wooden accents to make this color palette feel comfortable and inviting.: Favorite White Paints || Studio Mcgee:

 

Week 4: Pendant Lights 

Our island has three pendant lights hanging over it, which are pretty standard and builder-grade, but have zero charm whatsoever. And I’m kinda serious about our home having charm. I love the industrial-farmhouse look, so I found some basic industrial style pendant cages on Amazon, and we’re going to give these pendant lights a makeover. Paired with some classic Edison bulbs, I think this will be a perfect addition to our kitchen. 

 

Week 5: A Large Sign

The previous owners of our house had a TV mounted over the fridge, leaving a giant gap between the top of the refrigerator and the ceiling. We’ve never liked having this gap, so Steve actually suggested finding/making a sign to put over this space. I, of course, love this idea, so I’ve been brainstorming what to put on a sign. I haven’t decided yet, but I love all these ideas: 

Gather Sign, Large Canvas Art, Kitchen Decor, Fixer Upper Sign Joanna Gaines Inspired, Vintage-look, Custom Color, Subway Art, Kitchen Art

This gorgeous sign from Etsy

Farmhouse style dining room. I love this!!:

New Breakfast Nook Chairs - The Wood Grain Cottage (you pinned this for the picture in the back):

This stunning quote from The Wood Grain Cottage

Week 6: Pantry Organization, Final Decorations and The Reveal! 

I’ll add some finishing touches and take pics for the bit reveal! In the meantime, I found some great inspiration from these wonderful bloggers: 

 

I have to say, as a Type A person, having a plan laid out week-by-week is so exciting and comforting to me. I have a clear path for what to do and when, and I’m so excited about how the kitchen is going to look by the time I’m done! I’m definitely aware that the plan could change as I go, but I think the outcome is going to be beautiful. 

 

I hope you’ll follow along with me as I work on this little kitchen makeover! Tell me, are you doing the One Room Challenge? What room are you updating? I’d love to hear from you! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

DIY Crate Window Seat

Posted in DIY, Upcycling
on March 30, 2017

I have a thing for natural light. Show me a house/room with big windows that let lots of sunlight in, and I can almost guarantee I’ll love it. One of my favorite things about my classroom at school is the huge windows I have, and one of my favorite things about our house is all the natural light we get. And out of all the rooms in our house, my favorite room to be in during the day is our dining room, because of this. 

 

 

Our house was previously owned by a couple who really saw its beauty. When they first moved in, it was a disaster – the previous owners hadn’t taken care of it, and almost everything had to be redone. Luckily for us, the new owners cared as much about maintaining as much of the house’s original charm as we do, and kept a lot of the house as original as possible to its 1867 design. The hardwood floors in our house are not original to the house, but were from an 1850s-era house in a neighboring town and laid by hand, so they have an authentic vibe. Most of the windows were replaced before we moved in, but the bay window in our dining room was simply given a paint touch-up and left alone. Which I’m so thankful for, because it’s one of my favorite details in our house! 

 

 

Ever since we moved in, I’ve had my eye on this spot in our dining room. It’s a bit too big to not do anything with. I’ve been wanting to buy a piano for a long time, and I talked to the hubby about getting a piano to put in that spot, but we didn’t want to block the window, and we also want to be able to use that space for our Christmas tree each year. I considered making it into a little breakfast/coffee nook, but with our dining room table just a few feet away, that seemed pointless.  So I decided that a window seat was the only solution. Just big enough to add some interest to the space, but small and inconspicuous enough that it doesn’t take any attention away from the window itself. 

 

I haven’t quite yet jumped in to the world of woodworking (stay tuned for my adventures into that arena soon!) and wanted the bench to be simple, affordable, and removable if possible (I try not to make too many things permanent just in case I change my mind later!). The obvious solution was to use some crates as the base for this window seat! 

 

 

If you’re in the DIY/crafting world, you probably know all about the ways to get the most for your money at JoAnn, Michaels, Hobby Lobby, etc. These stores aren’t cheap, and crafting costs can add up quick if you aren’t smart about how you shop! Luckily, all three of these stores have fantastic sales and coupons, so I’m usually able to get a really good deal on the supplies I need. The materials I used for this bench are:

  • 4 wooden crates – I got them for about $9 each
  • 1 wooden board (72″ x 18″ x 1″) – I found this at Menards
  • 3″ craft foam (2 yards) – use a coupon for this if possible, mine was $40 per yard before using a coupon!
  • Muslin (2.5 yards)
  • Screws, a drill, and staple gun
  • Extra boards and L brackets, optional

 

The bench was pretty easy to put together, and only took an afternoon, a bit longer if you count painting it. I painted the crates the night before, using the same paint we had used for our dining room walls. The next day, once the crates were dry, I assembled the base of the bench. 

 

Since I wanted the crates to fit above the trim at the bottom of our wall, I put down a couple boards as a base on the floor to attach the crates to. This is optional, based on preference. I also attached a board with a couple L brackets on the baseboard behind the crates, in order to support the seat, which was a bit longer in depth than the crates on their own. If you use a board for the seat that’s the same depth as the crates, you can skip this step. 

 

 

I attached each of the crates to the base board using a few screws, and then used screws to connect each of the crates to each other. I did not attach anything to the floor or walls, since I wanted the bench to be pretty easily removable. 

 

 

Now all that was left was the seat! I double checked that the board I bought would fit the space, and it was a perfect fit. 

 

 

{Side note: you’ll notice that one of the crates here is slightly different from the other 3 – within about a day of building this bench, I went and bought a different crate that would match better 🙂 }

To make the seat for the bench, I used the wooden board as the base, and attached foam and muslin to the top using a staple gun. 

 

Cyder assumed the foam was her own personal bed.

 

It was as simple as laying the muslin down on the floor, placing the foam next, and the board on top, and then stapling the corners and edges to the bottom of the board until the fabric and foam were smooth and firmly attached. I simply slid the seat onto the base crates, and voila! A window seat for under $100 and just a couple hours. 

 

 

I love how this space adds a touch of warmth and interest to our dining room, without covering the window or overpowering the space. It’s exactly what I was imagining. And Cyder has already claimed it as her #1 lookout space, of course. 

 

 

 

 

And how cute are these throw pillow covers I found on Amazon?! Seriously, Amazon Prime is the most dangerous and wonderful thing. {I may or may not be cruising the site for decor stuff as we speak…}

 

 

So, there you have it! My latest DIY addition to our house. I feel like I’ve been going a mile a minute lately with ideas, projects and plans, and I can’t wait to share them all with you soon! Stay tuned for some delicious recipes, a couple mini room makeovers, and a new series of blog posts that I can’t wait to tell you about! 

 

Do you have a favorite spot in your house? Do you have any window seats? I’d love to hear from you! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

Spare Room Makeover: Part 1

Posted in DIY
on March 22, 2017

I have an all-too-common tendency to bite off more than I can chew. When it comes to projects, I rarely take the time to consider whether I have enough background knowledge, skills, or time to complete a project – I just jump in and start whether I’m ready or not. 

 

This was one of those such projects. And it’s the biggest one I’ve ever taken on!

 

When we first moved into our house, we loved almost everything about it (except for the paint colors and some pretty easy fixes). The only exception was the spare room on the main floor. We aren’t exactly sure what the previous/original owners had used this room for, but it was a weird space – and they painted the hardwood floors. WHAT?! If you know me, you know how sad this makes me. Here’s a peek into the room before: 

                 

 

Blue floors, tan walls, an unfinished cubby/closet/storage space we didn’t know what to do with…this room was an eyesore, and definitely not the room we wanted guests to use! I wanted a guest room that would be warm, welcoming and comfortable. Something had to be done. So, over my winter break (and several weekends afterward), I decided to tackle this room. 

 

I originally just painted the walls. I used the same color as our kitchen walls, and painting did a lot to freshen up the space! Steve, my constant voice of reason, told me to leave it at that. He said it looked good enough, we’d be putting a bed in most of the space anyways, and that we had no idea if the wood floors were even any good or how to refinish them, for that matter. He was right about all of that, it did look fine and I could’ve saved myself a lot of time and effort by leaving it.

 

But I don’t ever stop at “good enough.” So I decided to do something I had zero experience doing: I refinished the hardwood floor. Not repainted to a more appealing color like a sane person might do – I stripped, sanded, stained, and finished it all by myself. And here’s the {almost} finished product! 

 

 

I say “almost” finished because I’m definitely not done with this room. It will be our guest room, so it will obviously be furnished and decorated soon, and I’m actually already considering changing the wall color (white?) and maybe adding a {faux} shiplap wall because I’ve been dying to add some shiplap to our home! Basically, I never fully finish a project, and nothing in our house stays the same for long, but I love it that way. 

 

Since this was such a long project and also my first experience with working on a hardwood floor, I wanted to walk you through the steps of this room makeover. Maybe you can learn from my mistakes and experiences! {Please note, I am by no means an expert on this! I am definitely learning as I go, and I definitely don’t claim to know everything about refinishing floors!} 

 

Step 1: Painting

Lucky for me, the whole room needed to be re-done, top to bottom, so I didn’t have to be as careful as usual with paint. I knew that the trim needed to be repainted before I started, so I painted the walls without worrying about taping off the trim, which made it so much faster. Since the floors had to be stripped as well, I didn’t even use tarps, so painting was a breeze! I also had tons of leftover paint from painting our house last fall, which saved a lot of money in that area. 

 

 

Step 2: Stripping the floors

This is what I spent the majority of three full days – as in, from waking up to sleeping – working on. Let’s just say I memorized the entire Hamilton soundtrack and listened to more than one audiobook during this time. This is also where I made some mistakes that definitely slowed me down.

 

Before anything else, you’ll want to strip an inconspicuous area of the floor to see what the wood underneath it is like. I was lucky to find a hardwood floor in pretty good shape, but it is always possible that the floor was painted because it was badly damaged, so you should always check to see if it’s even worth stripping down! 

 

I had debated simply using a rented sander to sand the paint off the floors, but I didn’t really want to get dust everywhere, and there was definitely a part of me that was intimidated by using one of those giant sanders, which is why I decided to use paint stripper to get the majority of the paint off. I had used Citristrip before on furniture and got great results, so I decided to use it on this floor as well. The room is pretty small, so I figured I could handle the manual labor aspect of doing it by hand.

 

To apply the stripper, I used a wide brush attached to an extension pole. I gave it a couple hours to soak in, and then began gently scraping it off using a wide plastic putty scraper. I’m not gonna lie, although this part wasn’t especially difficult, it was tedious. But I managed to get most of the paint off the floor (I also made a huge mess in the process!) 

 

 

I vacuumed and swept the floor in order to get all the little paint/stripper leftover bits off, leaving a lightly stained wood. I then went on to my next step, which brings us to…

 

Step 3: Sanding the floors 

This was the second most time-consuming part of this project. I have a small belt sander, and decided to take the time to hand-sand the entire floor. If I had to go back and do this again, I may consider renting an industrial sized sander just to save myself some manual labor, but overall it wasn’t too bad. Again, this is a pretty small room. 

 

When sanding, you should always start with the roughest grit, and work your way to the finest. I used a 60 grit over the entire floor, followed by an 100 grit, then 180 grit. I finished it off with a quick sanding using 220 grit paper. Yes, I hand-sanded the floor four times. Because I like a farmhouse/rustic/shabby chic vibe, I didn’t worry too much about sanding it all to the exact same color. I really liked the variances in color that I saw as I sanded, so I left some of the imperfections in the floor. This may not be your style, and that’s okay! 

 

Important things to note when sanding a hardwood floor: 

  1. Wear a mask/goggles to avoid dust inhalation/exposure. Seriously, just do it. 
  2. Sand with the grain of the wood, in long, smooth motions
  3. Don’t press down too hard with the sander, or hold the sander in the same place for too long
  4. Less is always better! Start with a quick pass over the wood, and return to a spot if it needs to be sanded more  – be careful not to sand down too far!

 

Now we’re getting somewhere! The floor was finally starting to look like something I could love. 

 

 

Step 4: Staining

Once the floor was thoroughly sanded, even, and smooth, I went on to my favorite step: staining. I love staining wood. Something about seeing new life being added to the wood has such an instant gratification to it, and I’ve never been disappointed with the result (so far, at least!). For this floor, I decided to use a gel stain, since I knew there were some imperfections in the floor and I wanted a stain that would be forgiving if there were still any remaining bits of previous paint or stain. I chose Minwax Gel Stain in Chestnut. 

 

To apply the stain, I used a floor stain pad with a long handle, which made this step so simple. I simply brushed a thin layer of stain on a section, waited just a couple minutes, and wiped off the excess stain (with the grain) using an old rag. I continued this process, working towards the door of the room until the whole floor was stained. Again, since I knew I needed to touch up the trim anyway, I didn’t worry too much about little bits of stain getting on the trim. 

 

 

I waited a few days between this step and the next, since my winter break ended and I had to go back to school. Definitely wait at least 24 hours to make sure your floors are fully dry before sealing them! 

 

Step 5: Sealing 

This part was a but tedious, but also very gratifying. Since wood is easily damaged, making sure to seal it well is so important, especially on a floor that’s going to get a lot of traffic. I decided to use 2 types of oil-based polyurethane for the floor: 2 coats of clear high-gloss, and 1 coat of clear semi-gloss. By starting with the high-gloss poly, I kept the finish from looking “foggy” at all, and I finished with a semi-gloss to tone down the shininess a bit. 

 

Before applying each layer of polyurethane, I lightly sanded the entire floor with a fine-grit sandpaper (220 grit) to rough up the surface a bit and help with adhesion. Be sure to get rid of all the dust from sanding before applying the poly; I used a piece of tackcloth attached to a Swiffer sweeper, and it worked beautifully.  I used the same type of staining pad and method for applying the poly as I did with the stain, which was so easy.

 

Since I was doing this in between lots of other things in my hectic life, the sealing of the floor took close to a week. I would sand, put a coat of poly on, leave it for 24-48 hours, and then repeat. 

 

Midway through sealing the floor!

 

Step 6: Trim Touch-Up

Lucky for us, the previous owners left extra paint they used for the trim, ceilings, etc. behind for us, so I had some paint to touch up the trim that I already knew would match. I carefully touched up the edges of the trim, which made the floor look even better

 

 

Step 7: Spray-paint vent cover

The vent cover in this room was gross (I won’t go into what I call the Spider Incident of 2017) so I decided to do a quick fix – I vacuumed and washed it down, then spray-painted it with a coat of oil-rubbed bronze spray paint. It looks so much better now! 

 

Such an eyesore!

This stuff is such a miracle!

 

For my final step, I installed a curtain rod and some simple no-sew curtains to cover the storage nook in the corner. And finally – the room makeover is complete! It was a labor of love for sure, but I’m so proud of this room, especially knowing that I did it all myself. 

 

 

I haven’t decided what to do with the corner space yet. I may eventually finish it and turn it into a little desk space or work out corner, but for now it’s nice for storage! Stay tuned for the finished guest bedroom coming up on the blog; I’m working on furnishing and decorating this space! 

 

So, tell me – have you ever spontaneously taken on a huge project? Have you ever refinished a hardwood floor? What’s your favorite way to refresh an old room? I’d love to hear from you! 

 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!

 

{Interested in collaborations, or have questions, comments, or feedback for me? Please feel free to email at emma@byemmawithlove.com – I’m always happy to chat!}

 

DIY Rustic Tray

Posted in DIY
on March 8, 2017

I have a bad habit of starting multiple huge projects at the same time, rather than doing the practical thing and working on one at a time. The end result is that I typically have about ten half-finished projects in the house at any given time, and I hop between them until they’re finished.

And then sometimes I do a project that’s so quick and simple that I forget to post it! One of my more recent simple DIY projects (that I keep forgetting to post) is a homemade tray to use as a centerpiece or as a food/beverage – ahem, coffee and wine – tray for when I’m working or reading (or watching This is Us) in bed. I made it using leftover scraps of wood and stain I had from other projects and a drawer pull from Menards, making it a super inexpensive project, but even if you need to buy supplies, the whole project from beginning to end was seriously so cheap and easy. 

First, you’ll need to decide how big you want your tray to be. I used an extra 1×3 furring strip I had from an earlier project. My materials were:

  • 2 – 1x3s cut to 16 inches and sanded
  • 2 – 1x3s cut to 10 inches and sanded
  • 3 – 16-inch lengths of thin 4″ boards (I had craft wood leftover from a project I did a long time ago) for the base of the tray
  • 2 – extra 11-inch long boards to secure the bottom of the tray
  • Wood glue
  • Sanding paper
  • Screws
  • Handle
  • Wood stain (I used Minwax Weathered Oak, which I had leftover from another project)

 

You’ll make the bottom of the tray first, and then add the sides, so you should begin by cutting your boards to the size you need them to be. I used wood glue to attach the base boards together, then used two extra wood pieces on the bottom of the tray to make sure it was really secure. 

Before the next step, I stained the base and side pieces of wood. Trust me, it’s much easier to stain the pieces beforehand than once the tray is assembled – otherwise, the stain may be uneven and it’s hard to get into the corners of the tray. {I used Minwax Weathered Oak Stain for this tray, one of my favorites!}

Then, I pieced together the sides using wood glue to lightly secure the sides to the base, and to each other.

Once the glue was dry, I used a screw at each corner and a couple on the bottom of each board (from the base) to make sure those edges weren’t going anywhere. 

Add a beautiful handle on the front, and voila! A beautiful rustic tray that takes about 30 minutes and supplies you may even already have on hand. 

So in love with this handle!

I’ve been getting so much use out of this tray – it’s so versatile, and my favorite centerpiece for our dining room table. We used it for Thanksgiving…

And Christmas…

And now, just in time for spring! {Well, a Minnesota/Wisconsin girl can dream…}

Let me know if you decide to make your own rustic tray! What are the versatile pieces you use in your home decor? Are any of them DIY’d? I’d love to hear from you! 

Follow along with my DIY and homemade adventures on Instagram, FacebookTwitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’  for more of my day-to-day life and projects! Happy creating!