Category Archives: Before and After

DIY “Antiqued” Map

DIY “Antiqued” Map

For some reason, I have found myself falling absolutely in love with all things rustic, antique, and industrial.  Am I getting old?  Or maybe just (finally) gaining some maturity?  Don’t answer that.  Anywhoo, during my (waayy too many) Pinterest scouring sessions, I kept seeing these amazing antique looking maps.  I began to feel kinda like that spoiled brat girl in the Johnny Depp version of Charlie & the Chocolate Factory – “I want one, Daddy!”  The problem was the price.  As much as I was loving the maps, I was NOT loving the prices!  With three active teens and only one “real” income, we just don’t have the cash lying around for a map to hang on the wall.  So, I just figured out a way to make my own.  For about $6.  Yes!

We had a couple of large (49×37) paper maps that were once in the kids’ playroom, back when they were learning states and countries in school.  They probably came from Wal-Mart.  The problem was that they were brightly colored & I wanted more of an antique look.  So, off to Pinterest I went in search of a way to make them look more antique…on a budget….and fast.  Nothing like immediate gratification!


I found tutorials for antiquing paper with tea and/or coffee and figured I couldn’t mess that up too badly.  It was SO easy!  I just took a couple of tea bags and dropped them in 1/2 a mug of hot water.  Once the tea appeared dark enough, I removed the tea bags.  (Actually, I started out rubbing the actual tea bags across the map, but got worried that the little bag would bust and leave tea leaves all over the map.)

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I swapped the tea bag for a cheapo sponge brush and went to town brushing on tea.  There is no real “wrong” way to do this……I don’t think….  It just depends on what look you are going for.  Once the map dried, which is quite a feat in 100 degrees with insane humidity, the brush marks were just too visible for my taste.  It also wasn’t quite as yellowed as I was wanting.  For the second coat, I decided to put the tea in a spray bottle and spritz the map until it was super wet.  Be REALLY careful trying to move a wet map!  Once the map dried the second time, it was pretty much perfect for me.  Yay!  One other note, I wouldn’t do this on a wooden table.  I did it on a glass patio table.  Your workspace WILL get WET.

Now, how was I going to hang that sucker?  Frames that large are not cheap.  I loved the old school pull-down map look of the tutorial, so I scoured the hubs’ dowel collection.  Too short.  I priced the ones I would need at Lowe’s.  Too expensive ($13!).  So, I asked the hubs about scrap wood.  He had some, but it was more cube shaped and kind of warped.  I went back to Lowe’s and saw some cute bronze café curtain rods on clearance for about $6.  Perfect!  I zipped home, grabbed my map, some clear packing tape, and scissors.  I pulled off short strips of packing tape and cut them in 1/2 so they wouldn’t show over the edge of the café rod. I seriously just stuck the tape to the back of the map & then to the back of the cafe rod.  (You could just put more of the tape on the map if you didn’t feel like dealing with cutting the tape.) Then I just hung the rod with the hangers included in the package and voila!  I have an “antiqued” map!


So far, I love it.  Eventually, I’ll do something with the blankness on the wall to the left side of the map.  Eventually.

It’s 9:30 at night and I use an old iPhone for pics.  Sorry for the quality, but you can kind of see the difference the tea made in the color of the map.


What do you think?  (Other than thinking I need to get a real camera, that is.)


Entry Progress

Entry Progress

Our entry is definitely a work in progress.  It is SMALL and weird, which makes it interesting to decorate.  Especially since I have no set “style” or “taste” in decorating.  I love pretty much everything & every color.  Ugh!  Guess I’ll just have to change it up often!

The entry is shaped like a “T”.  The front door is at the top of the “T” and off to the right, with stairs to the left and the den to the right when you walk in.  The top of the “T” is 12’3″ long, with the den side being 57″wide and the stair side being 39″ wide.  The leg of the “T” is 15’5″ long and 39.5″ wide.  So, it’s a wonky “T”.  Is “wonky” a word?

Anyway, we started with some fabulous 1986 rose colored wallpaper under the chair rail and parquet flooring.  Need a visual?  Here ya go!



Lovely, right?  Not so much.  We hopped on the DIY Wainscoting bandwagon and then put down new laminate flooring when we did the kitchen floors.  SOO much better! We’d still love to paint above the wainscoting, but with the 2 story ceiling, we know we’ll probably have to hire that done.  However, the wall facing the front door has a low ceiling, so I got to thinking.  (Which is dangerous, by the way.)  It was looking a little boring……  Oooh!  time for some STRIPES!  Yep, yep, yep!   I headed out to Lowe’s for some painter’s tape and gray paint.  I knew the stripes HAD to be gray.   I love stripes!  The color is Valspar’s Cathedral Stone.



I had painted some stripes on the wall in our powder room & learned quickly that I did NOT want narrow stripes on this wall.  Waaayyy too much work!  So, I went with 12″ stripes above the chair rail.  That gave me an odd number of stripes, which I just think looks better.  I taped it off & started painting.  Realized I needed more paint.  Ran back to Lowe’s.  Came home and finished the stripes.  I’m just good like that at planning.  🙂



57″ sounds like a lot of space until you try standing in it to take a picture. So, I had to step out onto the porch for the rest.  I added this little game table, but it was just too small.



I hit all the thrift stores in our area for a dresser, because Pinterest told me that was the way to go.  No luck.  Yet.  But, I was able to talk one of my girls out of her dresser so it’s in there now.  I changed the hardware and slapped a lamp on top of it.  It isn’t perfect, but it’s getting there.  If I don’t find a dresser/chest by Spring, I’ll just paint this one.  The idea of which is killing my husband.  “You’re going to PAINT the OAK dresser?!”  “Yes.”  He’ll come around.



The lamp has since been redone (surprise!) with some paint & a slipcover for the lampshade.  I’ll share that another day.  The dresser knobs are now a cool antiquish aqua blue.  The best part (other than the stripes) is how much storage this will give us for lightbulbs, batteries, emergency candles, etc.  (By the way, notice the new laminate floors?  Love!)

Budget Kitchen Before & After (Finally!)

Budget Kitchen Before & After (Finally!)

Oh.My.Word.  I seriously thought this kitchen redo would NEVER end.  Never.  But (for the most part) it has!  Hip, hip, hooray!!  This will be pretty much a picture post.  If you’ve been here before, you know I am NOT a photographer.  If you haven’t been here before……, prepare yourself.

The photos may not be much, but the results are amazing.  We did everything ourselves (except put in the gas line for the gas cooktop).  You can read more in-depth posts on the project here.  If you have any questions, please post in comments & I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Here is some lovely “Before” to get you warmed up!

kitchen before 1

Kitchen before 2

Yeah.  That’s probably enough of that.

Now, for some “Afters”!


You can see how much more room we have now!  The actual dimensions of the kitchen are 19′ 1″ x 11′ 4″. The peninsula that once held the dishwasher is gone.  We simply turned the dishwasher sideways and it is SO much better!  The ceiling fan is gone.  WHY would anyone want a CEILING FAN in a kitchen?  Over the stove?!?  I know pendant lighting & chandeliers are all the rage, but I am loving the new flourescent light.  The covered deck is off the kitchen & effectively blocks about 90% of the light that could come in the kitchen windows.  It gets DARK in here, friends.  My cute light over the sink is actually an outdoor light.  We took the cabinets to the ceiling.  SOOO much more storage!  The country blue countertops are now Uba Tuba granite & the backsplash is off-white subway tile.  Love!  The new microwave is a convection.  We swapped the drop in oven unit for a gas cooktop & separate electric convection oven.  Both from Craigslist, as was the microwave.  The flooring was worth the wait!  We searched & searched, talked & talked, and thought & thought about flooring.  One night we were out & dropped in a Home Depot we don’t normally visit.  The guy there was FABULOUS!  We talked with him for about 2 minutes & he walked us over to a pile of flooring boxes.  It was PERFECT!  And it was CHEAP!  Laminate flooring for .99/ft.  You can get it here.  You’re welcome.  At that price, we decided that if anything happened to it, we wouldn’t even cry because we could afford to replace it.


The other side.  Photo-bombed by my adorable assistant.  🙂  You can see the cabinets are to the ceiling here as well.  My fabulous husband built a deeper cabinet over the ugly-but-staying-forever fridge.  It holds my baking stones, cookie sheets, cooling racks, etc.  He also built new drawers in the lower cabinet for plastic containers and pots/pans.  It’s so much easier to reach that stuff now!


Mr. Cuteness is a little bit of an attention hog.  You’ll notice that the shelf that once circled the dining section is gone.  So are those brackets sporting heart-shaped cut-outs.  Yes, I know a lot of people like that style.  I do not.  Nor do I like country blue wallpaper with flowers.  You probably noticed the mismatched chair cushions.  We got rid of the old chairs and brought in the dining room chairs that belonged to my grandmother.  A couple of them had been in use in other rooms & I just haven’t recovered all the seats to match now that they are in the same room.  It’s coming.  As soon as I figure out what fabric I want.

So, that’s our (finally) final before & after on our budget kitchen remodel!  I have some organization and clean out to do.  Once that’s done, I’ll share pics of the inside of our cabinets, pantry, drawers & pull-out by the dishwasher.

Thanks for hanging out with us through the looonnnggg process.

52 Mantels

Garage Organization


Welcome, friends!  I hope everyone had a fabulous 4th!  It’s been rainy here, so we did some inside things – including going to see Despicable Me 2.  Loved it!  It’s not as good as the first one, but you just have to love those minions!

The last few months have been project laden.  I know  you can’t really tell due to the lack of posts, but I really have been busy!  My favorite project of all is my newly painted & organized paint supply wall.  I.LOVE.IT!!

I’m the primary painter here & the paint supplies had been tossed on the old (badly slanted) wire shelves haphazardly, as well as scattered in a couple of other places for the 8 years we have lived here.  It was such a pain to try to find everything when I was ready to paint something.  Which is fairly often.  So, I decided enough was enough.

Here’s a semi-before because I forgot to take an actual before.  Sorry.



All that’s really missing is the piles of paint supplies and old, cobweb covered antlers that hubs is saving.  For some reason.


This wall is on my side of the garage & I just REALLY wanted to do something fun and funky.  Stripes kept coming to mind, so I decided to try that.  I used a tape measure and chose random stripe widths.  To keep the lines straight, I used a level and a yard stick.   We had multiple sample jars of paint from various projects, as well as old pegboard and left over adjustable shelving tracks and shelves, so I didn’t have to buy anything for this project.  Yay!!

Here is my fun, funky, organized “after”:



I still need to label the bins, but the sides are clear so I know what’s in them until I get around to doing labels.  It is SOOO much easier to locate my supplies now!  I love it!!  It makes me smile every time I pull into the garage.


DIY Wainscoting


Doin’ a little happy dance because the 1986 country rose wallpaper in our entry is GONE!  Well, it’s still there, but you can’t see it.  Finally.  Allow me to share a “before”….  This is the view from the front door looking towards the kitchen.  The second pic is a close-up of the wallpaper that I do not miss one bit.

HPIM1331    IMG_2085

After spending waaaayyy too much time on Pinterest and multiple blogs, we settled on doing basic DIY wainscoting.  The main reason is that we wanted it to match the dining room (now office) so that it looked like it had always been there.  I am SO very thankful for my handy engineer husband!  He actually enjoys math and figuring out angles – both of which were majorly needed for this project.  (A point he made sure the girls knew since they all hate math.)  🙂

The first thing we had to do was fix all the wallpaper seams, because we were not going to cover the paper with MDF.  Adding anything over the paper would have increased the depth & we would have needed to remove the existing chair rail to accommodate that.  We wanted to avoid the headache, time and expense incurred by doing that.  So, we (actually hubs) trimmed back each seam and then mudded over it with sheetrock mud.  It took a couple of coats to make it all flat and even.  Then we primed with interior latex primer so our paint would adhere to the nasty wallpaper.

IMG_2097   IMG_2102

We used painter’s tape to mark off the boxes so we could see how they would fit on the wall.  Once we were happy with the size & placement of the rectangles, it was time to work on angles.  Hubs went online and printed off a protractor.  He used that to build a couple of jigs.  Everything was cut on the table saw.  I REALLY wish I had taken pics of the jigs and the templates he cut!!  But, **sigh** I didn’t.  He cut a piece of 1/4″ plywood to the size he wanted.  In this case 4″ wide so all the boxes and angles would be 4″ from the trim and we wouldn’t have to measure every.single.time.  Then he cut that into the correct angles needed so we could make the trim pieces fit.  Some construction adhesive (that didn’t work too well) and a nail gun were the tools we used to put up the trim.  I painted it to in a gloss to match the existing trim.  I LOVE our entry now!  It is SO much better!

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The next step is to hire a painter to come paint the 2-story high walls above the chair rail in the entry.  They will be Realist Beige like everything else to keep it simple.  I’m not about to put my hubby on scaffolding over the stairs to paint!

I think I promised at the beginning of this blog to put measurements of the rooms.  Not sure I’ve held to that, but I’ll do it here.  This entry is shaped like a “T”.  The top of the “T” (front door wall) is 145 1/4″ long & 56″ wide.  At the base of the stairs is a little piece that is 31 3/8″.  Going up the stairs is 174 3/4″.  The wall directly in front of the front door is 63 3/8″.  The walls on each side of the leg of the “t” (going in to Kitchen) are 129 5/8″ long and it is 39″ wide.  The chair rail is 34″ from floor.

Hopefully all that makes sense!  If you are considering DIY wainscoting, just Google “DIY Wainscoting” and you will get some great pictures and some blogs that actually give step-by-step direction.  I just picked a picture I liked, printed it and asked hubs to make it happen.  He loves it when I do that…..  🙂

Bathroom Drawer Organization


What is it about pinning up a new calendar that sends us into clean out/organize/lose weight/get fit mode??  Or is it just me?  Judging by all the pins and blog posts out there relating to those categories, it is not just me.  Whew!  I’m normal.  Kind of.  🙂

I know most posts about organizing talk about making more space in small places, but as small as our rooms are in this house we actually have too much storage space in the bathrooms.  Weird, isn’t it?  Our Master Bath is only 14.5 feet x 5 feet.  Yep.  5 feet wide, of which base cabinets take up about 2 feet.  So, only 3 feet of walking through space.  BUT in that small amount of space the builders fit 2 sinks in an “L” configuration and a floor-to-ceiling cabinet.  It’s a LOT of unnecessary cabinetry that we will deal with one day in the near future.  For now, let me show you how I organized 3 of the drawers in our bathroom.  The under sink & tall cabinets will be another day.

We have 7 total drawers in the bathroom.  The 3 I organized are all 3″ deep.  The first two are 9.5″ x 15 5/8″.  Here is a “Before” pic of one of those:


Yep.  That’s all that was in that drawer.  For 6 years.  Well, I mean those EXACT items are not 6 years old, but you know what I mean.  Toothpaste, carmex, a sunscreen stick and a little electric shaver.  The drawer next to it is just like it, but it had a jumbled mess of travel size items.  Wish I had done a “Before” on that.  Or….maybe not.  It was a little gross & scary.

For the 2 smaller drawers, I just shopped the house & attic.  (Is it weird that about 1/3 of our attic space is taken up with organizers?)  Anyway, I was able to find several things to get the two smaller drawers whipped into shape.  Here they are now!

IMG_1896    IMG_1977

Toothpaste drawer on left now houses extra do, q-tips, carmex, floss, toothbrush covers, sunscreen sticks and a couple of small toothpastes (that will actually be moving to the girls’ bathroom soon).  Most of this stuff was in the jumbled drawer.  The jumbled drawer on right is now first aid central.  The first aid items were all stored under one of the sinks and were kind of a pain to get to.  Now, we can access all the most needed items quickly and easily.

To the right of these drawers is a wide drawer – 23.75″ x 15 5/8″ .  I obviously don’t know how to convert 5/8 to a decimal.  Sorry.  Guess I could ask my 5th grader….  🙂  Aaaannnyway, the wide drawer is mine and holds mostly stuff I need in the mornings.  The main exception is my daily makeup, which stays in a bag in another drawer.  So, here is the semi-organized “Before” shot of that drawer:


Not very well utilized & it had become a “dumping ground” for hair clips and ponytail holders.  For this project, I actually had to go buy what I needed to fill the space.  I found 2 of these bamboo organizers at WalMart and they work really well for this space.

IMG_1958   IMG_1960

There is a central compartment with all the little “boxy” spaces and then the sides can slide in or out as needed.  Some of the inner dividers can also be removed if more space is needed for a particular item.  After playing around with it for a few minutes, I came up with this:


There is still a little bit of space at the back, but over all it is perfect for what I need.  The hair clips are separated, there is space for my “back up” make up items as well as the little perfume samples I love.  The red & green ribbon things you saw in the “Before” pic were Christmas ponytail holders that go with my “Who” costume I wear every year.  They now live with that costume.

It’s been a few days since I did this & I have to say I really love the change.  If you’ve been busy organizing, I’d love to hear about it!

Kitchen Remodel Update

Kitchen Remodel Update

I am so stinkin’ excited to tell you that we are (almost) DONE with the kitchen redo!  All that is left is the floor and possibly a new fridge.  I’m not sure about replacing the 30-something year old fridge because the new ones just don’t seem to last very long.  We’ll see.  The floor will be replaced after the entryway remodel.  I have no idea when we’ll get to that.

Let’s go back to the Country Blue bombshell beginning, shall we?

kitchen before 1Kitchen before 2

Yeah.  That’s enough of that, don’t you think?  If not, you can read more about it here, here and here.  Let’s move on to the current After shots!


**For some reason, my computer is now refusing to upload pics.  I’ll add them when it decides to act right.**

*Edited – pics now working!*

We took the cabinets to the ceiling & eliminated the florescent light over the sink.  We removed the peninsula that hindered entrance from the deck, as well as general flow through the room.  That allowed us to turn the dishwasher, so we could actually reach the cabinets & sink with the dishwasher open.  Yay!  We also swapped out the old drop in style oven for a convection wall oven & gas cook top.  Love my “new” gas cook top!  Both items, as well as the microwave w/convection baking, came off Craigslist for WAAAYYY cheap!

We removed the super nasty formica countertops & installed Uba Tuba granite.  Such a difference!  I don’t have anything against formica in general, but ours was bluish & you probably remember how I feel about that.  Also, apparently nasty little six legged monsters are able to get in behind the backsplash part & hide.  Eeewww.

Our backsplash is now cream colored subway tile.  Love.  This is the smaller subway tile that comes on a mesh backing.  It was our first experience putting up a backsplash, but it was pretty easy & we LOVE the way it looks.

We are really enjoying our new layout & additional storage over the fridge & at the top of the cabinets.  I’m still working out the best way to organize things in the new cabinets & drawers.  As soon as I do, I’ll be sure to post.