Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Summer is at an end and projects are kicking up

It's been an awesome summer!  We have had our Little House on the back burner for a few months while we enjoy the months of warmth before prairie winter sets in. But now we are back to work!  
Ever see one of these?  We are replacing all the outlets in the house, room by room. (No tutorial because I am NO expert and if I steer you wrong it could be dangerous!). I decided to throw one or two of these in here and there. I'm so excited!!! 

I will say this, replacing old outlets isn't hard and there are plenty of YouTube videos to help you out. A lot of ours don't even hold the plugs in. So if you have troublesome outlets, don't be scared!  Give it a try!

Friday, April 25, 2014

Hexagon art table - $40


Art table/storage for your little ones art treasures.  Chalk board top makes it safe and fun for littles to draw on. 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Board and batten in the nook

No creative title today. Just my beautiful room and a little tutorial for you!  

In case you missed the first board and batten post... you can find it HERE.

You will learn that I'm not really 100% about doing things the "right" way.  If there is an easier, cheaper or cuter way to do something that is just as well done, I will try to find a way to do it!  I call it my ghetto DIY fixes. If these fail, and sometimes they do, I'll be the first to tell you.  :)  

Here's my before picture.  

I know you are jealous of that light fixture!

I started this project by heading to Pinterest and pinning and researching like crazy!  There are a million tutorials out there for board and batten. I have done it before on a smaller scale on the bathroom of our last house. So I had some experience but it was on one wall... No corners and no other walls to have to match spacing. (Which I will get back to.)

Then I talked to my friend Jess over at Whimsical Treasures. She has the most beautiful wainscoting all over her house.  All different kinds and heights. I would love to just move in to her house.  She have me tons of great tips. I also like this tutorial at make it and love it.  She does it with real board, while I do a faux version.

Next was throwing some paint on the wall. I chalked a line 44" up the wall and painted on either side. You don't have to be perfect because your rails will cover the seam. 

Here's a tricky part. You can use existing baseboards and there are plenty of tricks to make that work.  (Like tapering the bottoms or using a thinner board for the vertical boards). But I hated our baseboards so they are getting thrown to the wood pile.  

I changed them out for pre-primed 1x4 mdf. I love the chunkier look!  

I used pre-primed MDF for all my board and batten. 1x2 for the vertical batens and 1x3 for the horizontal rails. It holds up to abuse so much better than the boards that aren't pre-primed. I don't know why.  Some kind of magic.  

So... I laid out new baseboards.  Then I sat down and mapped my room out and did some measuring and math. And then my brain started hurting. I was trying to find a measurement and spacing that would work for all three walls. There was none. And then I started thinking about how it would space out on the other 4 walls of the living room when I get to that room.  And then my brain hurt some more.  I already had decided the height of my battens (39"). I cut a 12" 1x2 to use as my spacer and marked the wall with it so I could see how the spacing worked out.  It didn't.  So I went back to my notebook and tried again. And again and again. Then I got mad and impatient. I am my fathers daughter after all. 

This is right before I threw my notebook on the floor.

I went to the saw and cut a length that looked good and started nailing boards that far apart. I started in a corner and moved out. While I don't recommend this, it actually worked out perfect for me!  The reality is, that when you are working with this many walls, it isn't ever going to work out for all the walls. But you can fudge the spacing a little so that it still looks uniform. My battens are a little over 14" apart. But on one wall they are almost 15" to make it all look good. You can't even tell.  ;)

As you nail the 1x2 battens, make sure you use a level!  I have a good eye for level. I might even say great.  But I would never not use one for this. So check for level and then nail that bad boy up there! Use your spacer and then nail the next one up.  Easy peasy. 

After all your vertical battens are up, go ahead and lay out the rails. This step is so easy.  Just lay the rail on top of your boards and nail it up. You could miter the corners if you want. I didn't.  They get caulked anyway so no one will ever know. Except you. Because I told you.  ;)

This was all the most fun parts!  Power tools rock. But now you have to put them away and do the tedious work that makes everything so pretty.

First, use putty and fill all your nail holes and seams.  Use the putty and not caulk for this stuff. This way you can sand it down and make it smooth and seamless.  I would err on the side of too much putty.  You can always sand it off.  When it dries, it shrinks a little and if you use too little, you have to go back and add more.

Then take your caulk gun and caulk all the corner seams and wall seams.  EXCEPT THE TOP RAIL/WALL SEAM.  Like how I emphasized that?  That comes last.  Make sure you buy a caulk that is white and paintable. Most people use their fingers to clean excess caulk.  That's lame and messy. Spend a couple dollars and buy this guy at walmart or your local home improvement store. The rubber sides make everything look so pretty!  I keep a stack of baby wipes with me and just wipe it off after every swipe. 

Now we wait. Let your putty and caulk dry overnight.  Next day, sand your puttied seams smooth with fine grit sandpaper and paint everything white. Use a brush or roller or whatever floats your boat. Just be careful with the top of your top rail.  Tape off the wall if you need to.  

Last!  Almost done!  Tape about a 1/4" up from your top rail.  (Just do it. I promise it will make things so much prettier and easier). 

Now lay a line of caulk and smooth it out.  When you're done pull up the tape and let it dry. It looks so perfect!  

All finished.  Here is the finished product. I love it!  The space looks so much brighter and cleaner.  There's a lot of furniture in there since it's now also our home office, but I'm in love!

I just realized I forgot to put back the antlers!  Opps.

What are my faves in here?  

Obviously, the Tune my heart sign!  I love that more than I can say.  I get all my vinyl from Lisa at  (No sponsors over here... I just love her stuff and it is reasonably priced.  She is also great to work with for custom stuff)

Don't be afraid of my ghost pig.  I thought it would be cute to chalk paint our piggy bank so we could change the label as we reach our goals. It just turned out creepy. But she's growing on me. 

I love my owl lamp! I coveted this from walmart for months before I broke down and bought it and gave it a makeover.  And I found this awesome burlap flower at Hobby Lobby.  WIN!

I'm loving painted mason jars right now! And a little basket for keys etc.

And last, my sweet new light fixture!  That's a whole other post.

I hope this helps if you are looking into tackling a similar project. Don't be afraid! I did this all by myself.  If I can do it, so can you!

Monday, April 21, 2014

Distracted by bright shiny objects...

Oh man!  Am I easily distracted?  
Yeah... I am...

I finished the nook.  It took me longer than expected and more is coming on that one. But first...

My kitchen is a work in progress.  It was seriously horrible. Old oak cabinets, faux brick paneling... And possibly worst of all... No dishwasher!!! I have three kids. That had to happen first thing. Which we did. It isn't dry walled, but has flat paneling.  It's going to take several steps to get it in ship shape condition. 

So, as I said, we installed a dishwasher and painted the horrible paneling and bright orange paint that was on the walls...  Here's what she used to look like.  (Sorry for the horrible before pictures.  I was in such a hurry to paint, I didn't take any.)

The next step was to paint the cabinets.  That's a whole other post.  I thought it would be no big deal.  Wrong.  It's a LOT of work to do it right. 

I'm almost done and last week I got distracted from my nook project by bright shiny objects...


Oh man... There is so much beautiful hardware out there!  I had a hard time. I want a vintage, cottage-y (that's probably not a word) feel.  I knew I wanted faux crystal knobs.  (I LOVE the look of them. They are just so pretty!) And I knew I wanted bin pulls. But I didn't want them to be bright, shiny and new looking. Most antique or antique look hardware is pretty expensive and, remember, we are on a budget. But eBay came through for me in the end and I am one happy mama!

I ordered the bin pulls immediately because they were soooo perfect. But I wasn't sold on the knobs (they looked a little too grey) so I just ordered one to see what they looked like in real life. Once they got here they totally won me over. I have been working on installing them. I was worried about the bin pulls because I wanted to get the holes just right every time. Since there were no pulls on the drawers before I had to drill new ones and I'm not going to lie... I was a little scared to do it. To remedy this, I made a paper and wood template to help me get it right every time. 

Worked like a charm and here is what it looks like so far. 

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The great dilemma #1: board and batten height

I have begun the living room... And I ran into a problem right out the gate.  It's a struggle I feel that most people deal with. But no one ever talks about it.  And I've read a LOT of blogs about board and batten... It's the dirty little secret of the wainscotting genre... 


Man!  I have been agonizing over this one!  How tall do I make this baby?  I LOVE tall batten.  I love how clean and bright it makes a room.  But it's difficult to decorate around and I have some things I would like to put on my living room walls.  Also, we have a fireplace mantle that I worried about.   

So how about a mid-height?  I like that too.  But we have high ceilings.  Would it look like I chopped my wall in half?  And light switches!  Gotta work around those.

Short?  It looks good.  It's fine.  But it's short.  However... It would solve all my other problems.  

Begrudgingly, I set out with my chalk line and white paint to begin.  FINE!  I'll go short!  

Turns out... I love short!  It looks like it's going to be perfect.  44" up the wall.  More than half the wall left on top so it's not cut in half and still a goodly amount of crisp white.  

If you struggle with this dilemma, you are not alone.  My suggestion is to just chalk a line and slap on some paint.  See how it looks.  You can always paint higher.  I think I'll do taller battens in the hallway or my bedroom where I don't have so much to put on the walls.  

So the home office nook/living room has begun!  Stay tuned.  :)

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Our Little House on the Prarie

As a little girl I LOVED the Little House books!  Never would I have imagined moving to the prairies of South Dakota!  But after a whirlwind adventure that included a new baby, changing jobs twice and moving half way across the country, here we are!

My husband and I decided we were up for a project and so this blog will combine our efforts to DIY a fixer-upper (on a budget, I might add), with my side hobby of re-finishing, up-cycling and re-purposing.

So feel free to join us on this crazy journey!

If you live West of the Rockies, you should check out my girl Jess at Whimsical Treasures Decor! Because she is kind of a genius at this stuff!)