Ship's Wheel Mirror Makeover

When it comes to antiques, I'm usually cautious about altering their appearance in fear of destroying their value (file this under: everything I know I learned from Pawn Stars). We were faced with a lot of these decisions when we moved into our house – we had to decide what needed to be kept and what was okay to touch. For example, our living room is full of original cherry wood trim...and even though it wasn't my thing at first, it's an element that adds real value to our home, and we'd be crazy to paint it. Now I'm happy it's there – the wood is beautiful, and makes our living room feel like a modern cabin.

On the flip side, just because something is an antique doesn't make it valuable (though it could be emotionally valuable) and a little coat of paint isn't going to hurt anyone, if it makes you happy. 

Jim and I decided to check out the Lakewood city-wide garage sale a few weekends ago and after heading down a ton of driveways, we found this antique mirror with a $5 sticker on it. I'm sorry – what? $5. This is why I love garage sales.

The bones of it were there, but we knew the paint job and the metal stars wouldn't really fit our decor. Thankfully the mirror was made of wood and not metal, so we knew we could give it a quick makeover and find a great home for it on our walls.

I actually can't take any credit for this makeover, because Jim did it all himself, but hey...I art directed?

He removed the metal stars, which were just pinned into the frame with small nails, and then stripped off the paint with Strypeeze. This causes the paint to bubble and peel like tar, so be sure to wear gloves when trying this at home. He used a shim to scrape the paint off once it became loose. Once the paint was removed, he used wood filler to fill the cracks where some of the pieces were separating, and gave the piece a final sanding.

We actually liked the distressed look that the stripping/sanding process gave, so we left the mirror as is. I debated about white-washing it, or putting the stars back on, but decided against it. You can always add, but you can't always take away.

It turned out to be the perfect piece we were missing in our second floor stairway. I love it more than I expected – for $5 I figured it was a risk-free project, so it was great that it came out so nicely. I can't really say no to something nautical for a few bucks, anyway. 

Do you shop garage sales? Are they worth it for you, or too hit-or-miss?

Home Series: Before & After | Master Bedroom

When it comes to naming which room in our house got the biggest overhaul, our master bedroom takes the cake—although just our hallway is a close second. You'd never think a hallway could be so much work, but that's a post for another day. It's amazing how after seeing dozens of houses, you develop this ability to not take anything at face value—and I don't mean just looking beyond paint colors. You can look at a lackluster room and feel like the space is right, or you notice how cool a corner is, or you feel how firm and right the floors are beneath your feet. 

This was the bedroom before:

As you can see in our progress post from our first week, we cut that small closet door open, installed new bars and shelves, ripped up the carpet, refinished the hardwood, and replaced that sad ceiling fan. The closet itself was quite big, but had that "cave closet" problem where the door is small and the closet is impossible to utilize fully. We expanded the entrance, replaced the doors, and actually reused the old closet door for our linen closet in the hallway. We really wanted to keep all of the original doors to the house, so I'm glad the door fit!

A nice master closet was something we hadn't seen in any of the Lakewood homes we looked at, so we knew a remodeled closet would be a great selling point someday (and a necessity for us now).

This is the closet after, with our DIY rope mirror:

Our progress at one year:

Curtains: DIY | Gold Tortoise Shell: Target/DIY | Nightstands: IKEA | Reading sconces and table lamp: IKEA | Duvet: CB2 (old) | Rug: Overstock (old)

I really love the drama of dark walls and wanted to pull it off in our room with a super rich navy. We get a ton of light in our house so I knew it wouldn't be too dark, and we balanced it with lots of white and texture. The room has a tiny touch of nautical inspiration, but it's more relaxed and less literal.

There is still so much we want to add and change about the room (we're wanting a stylish new bed frame) but after a year, we're really happy with the progress. As it is with all spaces, there's always something to do! For now, it's an incredibly relaxing, rehabbed space that we're just enjoying.

Candle hurricane: DIY | Anchor dish: Furbish | Glasses: Lookmatic

House Renovation: Week 2

...And I'm back for week two! This week saw a lot of cosmetic progress, although it was slow because the work on the floors prevented us from doing everything we wanted. The bedrooms got painted (bedroom 3, the office, is still not pictured - it was full of our junk because the floors weren't being done in there). 

This is the dining room...

The first coat of oil went down, and looked bea-utiful!

Here's the master, with the floors done, walls painted, and ceiling fan from the guest room switched into this room. You can see a bit more of the design of the master in my previous post, with the ombre curtains - so I'm backtracking a little. 

The guest room — pretty peach with a drum shade semi-flush mount. Neither one of us is crazy about ceiling fans, but this one suited the master so we decided to put it in there. With all of the other lighting we had to buy (we replaced everything - hallway lights, landings...) it wasn't such a bad thing to repurpose something for now! 

This was favorably known as the "Linen Closet Excavation of 2012." Our new linen closet is so perfect, it makes me smile every time I open it. Going through all of our stuff and reorganizing it took an entire afternoon — but now it's so neat and tidy, it was worth it. We'll see how long it stays that way!

That's all I have to share for now, we're finally unpacked and the rooms are almost fully decorated, so the true "afters" are still to come. We just made this amazing rope mirror for the bedroom, so I'll be posting that DIY next. See you soon!

House Renovation: Week 1

Amidst our efforts to unpack, I was finally able to compile all of my photos of our house progress. These are all from our first week in the house — starting September 24th — and it's weird to look back and think this was only a couple weeks ago. We got so far in such a short amount of time, thanks to 12-hour days and having lots of help from our families. 

Since we were having our hardwood floors refinished throughout the house, we were on a very tight timeline to get our projects done before the floor guy showed up. It was a crunch, but we accomplished all of our goals (and then some).

Here's everything we accomplished in the first week — I'll follow up with weeks 2 + 3 later, because it was just too much to show all at once. So, let's get to it!

This was the second floor hallway — the linen closet is behind those white doors, the master door is on the left and the guest room is across the hall, on the right. The door in the front right goes to the attic, and the third bedroom (which will be an office) is behind me to the left, at the top of the stairs.

The night we got our keys, we looked around, took some 'before' pictures, and got to work demolishing stuff. This is Jim ripping down the wall in the linen closet, which backed up into the master bedroom closet (below). Meanwhile, I got to work taking down the wallpaper.

The linen closet was very deep, and had some removable wire shelves in it — pretty makeshift. Our plan was to expand the master closet into that space, thus making the linen closet shallower. We also wanted to install some permanent wood shelves and replace the bi-fold door.

This was the master closet. It was actually pretty large, but the small door opening made it very difficult to access the space. This door fit the linen closet space, so we planned to use this door as the door for the linen closet (which would match the other original doors in the hallway) and install large bi-fold doors for this closet. We also removed the carpet so the hardwood floors could be redone. *I also just realized that "tah-tah!" should have been spelled with an 'h' but it's late, and you get the point.

Jim and his dad are cutting open the new door frame...as I stand and chew my nails.

I was a little scared when I saw this plaster disaster (hehe) but they knew what they were doing. Fun fact: did you know they used to mix horse hair in with the plaster in these old homes? It acted as a sort of "mesh" to hold the plaster together. I'm not sure how I like the thought of 90+ year old horse hair in my walls, so I'll just pretend I didn't hear that.

My mom, Jim's mom, and I handled the wallpaper, and it was a bitch. To make matters worse, we found a BONUS layer of wallpaper underneath! Oh joy. So we were at it for an entire day.

Hallway has been sanded, cleaned of old glue, and primed...

Here's the living room — the plaster ceiling had some damaged areas from previous problems that had been fixed, so that was at the top of our list.

These photos make it all look so easy, don't they? ;) Oh, and the walls have been painted! They look a little weird in the bad lighting, but they are Sherwin Williams Agreeable Gray. While the guys handled the construction work, I was on paint-till-I-drop duty. I actually enjoy painting, but this definitely tested me! Thankfully, everyone pitched in so we could stay on track.

Here's more closet progress...

Getting there! We are just waiting on the doors at this point — they were a special order —and we've just added some finishing details. And I am digging this wall color. Majorly. It's Sherwin Williams Gale Force.

That pretty much ends the projects from week one — the other two bedrooms and the hallways got painted but I'll be able to share those in my next post since they were a bit of a mess during all of this. Next up: floor sanding and moving in!

DIY: Lakewood Subway Sign Art


With so much house preparation work being done, it's hard to even think about what's going on our walls (aside from paint, of course). But since we've pretty much gathered all of the furniture and little touches we can right now, our thoughts have finally drifted towards thinking about art. We got the new Restoration Hardware catalog last week, and as it usually does, it featured these delicious vintage subway signs. Jim has actually been wanting one for a while, so it seemed the perfect time to not just get one, but make a custom one with our new street name on it!

We had the perfect frame, so within a couple hours of me agonizing over street names, typefaces, and kerning behind my laptop, we finally have our own custom print for the living room.


The original prints are longer and narrower, but I wanted to do something with a slightly different proportion. We still wanted it to be large and dramatic, which is what we loved so much about the Restoration Hardware prints. This one is sized at 18x26", and we got it printed at Kinko's for about 30 bucks. 

The vintage ones were also hand-painted, so the irregularities in the lettering would be impossible to achieve without hand drawing the whole thing. However, I think we got pretty darn close and we love the result!

I included a lot of the obvious main Lakewood streets, but chose some for variety of length or punctuation — and put in a couple neighborhood streets so ours would fit in. So, can you guess which one is our new street?!

Apartment Therapy


Jim and I have been looking for a house for the last few months, and the search seems to be drawing to a close. Although it's really exciting, we both been in our current apartment for almost 3 years, so we've obviously developed some attachment to it. Even though we're outgrowing it, it's going to be bittersweet to leave it behind.

So, to help balance out all of the great memories we've made there, I thought I'd make a list of everything we won't miss so I can check my emotional baggage at the door. Plus it'll be fun to look back on all of these things down the road — and laugh.

We bid adieu to:

- The kitchen cabinet that pops open whenever it wants, or anytime you shut another cabinet

- No air conditioning. The apartment feels like a brick pizza oven in the summer.

- Jumping out of the shower stream whenever anyone in the building flushes the toilet

- Hearing our neighbors above and below us

- Parking in the street! If I get home anytime after 6 there are zero spots.

- Having my workspace in the dining room...and not really having a "dining room"

- Needing quarters to do laundry

- Watching a crazy neighbor yell at cars going by while we sit on our balcony

- No closet space. Really, none.

- Keeping our music down, our TV down, our voices down...it's hard not to be loud!

- Wishing our fireplace really worked

- Walking up three flights of stairs everyday – and being afraid to fall down them when it rains

- One lonely bedroom

I could go on...but I don't want to sound like a big whiner. I just know this will come in handy when we're packing up everything we've acquired over the last three years, and getting a little sad. So here's to heading onward and upward...and to a whole new set of problems ;)