Home Improvement

Willow's Nursery

Willow's Nursery

Believe it or not, I've been trying to do this blog post for weeks! Mostly because everyone keeps asking me for nursery photos, but also because I just wanted to be FINISHED with all baby things well before baby arrives. Well, best laid plans? I wound up not really finishing until this week. And of course, it's been so cloudy and dreary. I kept waiting for a day when the sun would light the room up all pretty like, but that just never happened and I grew impatient haha. That's my subtle way of saying I don't think my photos do the room justice! ;) 

Master Bedroom Makeover

Master Bedroom Makeover

Well, it's about time right? I've only wanted to do this project for a few years. I just kept chickening out because our bedroom was the most intimidating place to prettify for me. Mostly because of the vaulted ceilings that I just didn't know how to paint. And paint is a REQUIREMENT. I got really gun ho about finally doing it last winter when I did the master bathroom (which looks even better now than it did then, thanks to the shower door we had installed this Fall, thanks Uncle Chris!). That's when I bought the lamps and a white duvet. But that was basically as far as I got. Though I was highly ambitious on Pinterest, as all pinners are.

DIY No Sew Curtains

DIY No Sew Curtains


Ironing board
Iron-on Adhesive (I wound up using two kinds because I ran out halfway through. I used this and this... both worked fine for my needs but I preferred the first type)
Clip on curtain rings (I bought mine at Target but these would work. Just make sure the ring is larger than your curtain rod)
Tape measure
GOOD scissors

DIY Spring Wreath

2014-04-09_0011Spring fever hit me hard yesterday. I think it hit everyone else last week some time, but I was sick and laying on my couch most of last week and while you can enjoy Spring with the windows open, it's just not the same as being out in the world. Yesterday was the first time I've gone swimming and could wear flip flops to the pool! I got to drive with the windows down and the music up. I wandered over to Old Navy where I bought short sleeve shirts and summer dresses (40% off guys, I basically had to). And then I came home to a house with a Christmas wreath on the front door. 2014-04-09_0001Okay, it's not super Christmasy... it's more wintry, but I made it and put it up for Christmas time! I've just allowed it to hang out all winter long since there was no obvious Christmasyness to it.

It is time for a Spring wreath.

spring wreathHere's what I got at A.C. Moore for about $10. Floral wire not pictured.

2014-04-09_0004I spent a few agonizing moments trying to cut up the fake flower stems with scissors, then kitchen scissors, then Pampered Chef sheers, before finally coming across this fun tool in Erik's tool box. Whatever it is, it worked very well. Cutting artificial stems is no joke!

2014-04-09_0003Once everything was cut up and separated like this, I jammed one end into the wreath. Very precise, I know, but part of why I like grapevine wreaths so much is that you can just do that.

2014-04-09_0005Every now and then I couldn't find a good place to stick the other end of the flowers into the wreath and had to use some floral wire to secure it.

2014-04-09_0006This looked pretty good laying on my coffee table (sorry about that by the way. A plain table probably would have photographed better but then I wouldn't have been able to watch Ellen while I did it. Priorities.) until I held it up like it was going on a door... then the edges looked very bare.

2014-04-09_0007So I added another layer of yellow on the outside edges as well. So many flowers...

2014-04-09_0008I added in some purple. If you're hoping for the names of all these fake flowers... you are really out of luck. I just liked them :)

And I added one daisy and thought that that was good and that using all three that I'd bought would look really busy. But then from a distance that one daisy looked really small and random. I finally decided on three. Major life decisions.

2014-04-09_0009And here it is all finished. Super easy.

2014-04-09_00122014-04-09_00112014-04-09_0010 See ya, Christmas/winter wreath. Only 7 months to go til Christmas season :) I really like Christmas. But right now I really like Spring. Happy Spring everyone!

Master Bath Makeover

master bath makeoverAt long last! The master bath makeover project is completed (for now). I actually do have one more tiny project I want to add, but it's a small thing so for now, I'm happy to call this room done. It definitely looks a lot more loved than it did before! As always with me, paint color was an agonizing decision. I couldn't decide between this light blue or a seafoam, minty green kind of color. I ultimately chose a bluer blue because the bathroom floor has light blue details and I thought it would go together the best. Plus, I'm planning to paint our bedroom a dark blue and thought the light blue would transition better.

2014-04-03_0002Here is the entrance to our bathroom. Yes, our bathroom has a hallway. These assorted doors lead to a linen closet, toilet, and our master bedroom closet (on the right). It's a big bathroom and it deserved some love.

2014-04-03_0003We love our large bathroom, but the one thing we've missed is that when you shower in a small bathroom, it gets nice and warm and steamy. I thought that if I got a longer shower curtain, I could make our showers a little warmer (thus no longer needing a space heater in the mornings... don't mock us, this room is also directly over the garage!). I think it's warmer now, but it's also become warmer outside, so it's a little hard to tell! We probably won't really know how effective the change was until next winter.

Also, I like the white against blue if you can't tell. It seems spa-like to me.

Also, hi Zeke! I love it when he pops up in my pictures.

2014-04-03_0005This is my side of the bathroom "before." Look at that dirty mirror...

2014-04-03_0004And this is "after." Erik was surprised I put the pictures on his side of the room, but I get to see them every time I look in the mirror this way :)

2014-04-03_0006Gosh those lights are an improvement. RIGHT, HUSBAND??? (My Erik says crazy things sometimes, but it's why we love him.)

2014-04-03_0015Simple addition, but I really like having these baskets on our counters now. It not only looks a lot nicer, but when I was cleaning yesterday, it made the whole counter cleaning process a lot simpler to just remove everything at once.

2014-04-03_0007I knew from the beginning that I needed a vanity chair that wasn't stolen from Erik's card table set. I went into an antique store beside my local farmer's market last week, figuring I'd pick up a chair for $20 and paint it white (I already had some white spray paint to make it simple). Well, when I went inside, this blue chair in the color of my bathroom walls was the first thing I saw! Crazy. And it was $20, no work involved :)

2014-04-03_0011Before. Ew.

2014-04-03_0008After. Yay.

I decided I didn't like having curtains in the bathroom. Originally, with white walls, I thought the curtains added some color and softness to the room, and of course some much needed privacy since our bathroom window faces the street. But I didn't like the green anymore and I wanted to be able to use the space in front of the window better. Erik's been having trouble managing his dirty laundry and it occurred to me that he didn't really have a place to put his laundry (except the closet floor), so maybe a hamper will help him remember to do it. Maybe...

I also wanted a hamper with a lid because when I took baths before, there was no place to put my clothes or a towel or anything, so I just threw them on the floor beside the tub. Thus, there was always a ferret hanging out in my clean clothes by the time I got out of the tub...

2014-04-03_0010Speaking of Zeke, he loves the wicker hamper and enjoys practicing his climbing skills. Let's just hope he doesn't want to practice his shredding skills.

The hamper and baskets all came from Target. I liked the chocolatey color of them against the cool blues and whites.

2014-04-03_0009Since I ditched our curtains, we needed something to provide privacy for our windows. I bought window frosting film. It's not permanent. I could go take it off in two seconds right now if I wanted to. It was kind of annoying to cut it precisely along the edges, but I think if I'd had a box cutter, that would have gone a lot more smoothly. No pun intended. Overall I really like the way it turned out.

2014-04-03_0014Erik's side of the room, before. Notice the motivational post it note collection.

2014-04-03_0012Pretend you don't see where I got paint careless. Instead, focus on the pretty white picture frames I got for 40% off at A.C. Moore. They're really nice frames. I'm actually thinking of going back and getting some more. I filled these with a few of my favorite pictures from our trips to OBX. It was hard to narrow down. I have a lot of OBX pictures.

2014-04-03_0018Hi, Zeke!

2014-04-03_0013I think it was a year ago that Erik's mom and step dad brought us this towel bar that they had wound up not using in their own home remodeling (they tend to show up with house things haha). Again, it has always bothered me that there was no place to put things when I took a bath, so this seemed like a good solution. I need to learn how to artfully fold my towels, but other than that I like the way it looks! Also, I now know how to use a power drill. Exciting times.

2014-04-03_00192014-04-03_00162014-04-03_0017The masterpiece ;)

2014-04-03_0020And this is what Zeke is really doing when I'm working in the bathroom... drinking and playing in the water on the shower floor. It's fun to turn the water on when he's not looking and hear him tuck and roll to get out of there in response.

Anyway, that's it for the bathroom! As with all my home improvement projects, I think I'll need a six month recovery time before I'll be brave enough to tackle the next room. Hopefully, it's the master bedroom, but guys I am really scared. All the heavy furniture, the vaulted ceilings, the complete everything change, ah!

I think I'm just going to enjoy the bathroom for a while...

How to Install a Bathroom Light Fixture

If you're like me, then you pin lots of ideas on Pinterest but rarely get past implementing paint colors and the occasional crafty piece of art. I decided months ago that my next house project was going to be our master suite. It's where I spend the most time. My computer is in our bedroom (gah, the unmovable desktop!) so I have little choice in the matter. And I think a place where you sleep should be soothing. White walls and clutter are not soothing to me :) So I decided to start in the bathroom because it seemed the most manageable. Our bedroom has ginormous cathedral ceilings and figuring out how to paint so high at weird angles has me completely intimidated. So the bathroom it is! Last week I painted and installed NEW light fixtures. I was so excited about doing this. I have never replaced a light fixture before and I've never even seen anyone do it. My parents are not the handy type. They never did that kind of thing growing up. To this day, my childhood bedroom is the only one in their house that's painted its own color. They're just not home improvement people. So for me to change something that's PART OF THE HOUSE is a very big deal.

We won't even discuss Erik's lackluster response to this life milestone when he came home from work to see the glory of my efforts. It would only embarrass him and make people wonder about his inability to appreciate greatness when he is standing right before it. No, we won't discuss it.

Right, so the "how to" part of this post. I Googled this extensively before attempting it myself and found that I had to combine lots of articles and videos to see what I would actually be doing to install a bathroom light fixture.

Here's our yucky bathroom "before" pictures that show off the lights:

2014-03-24_0001 2014-03-24_0002Step 1: Cut power supply.

Erik says I didn't have to do this, but when I play with wires I'm cutting the power supply. Sorrynotsorry.

Step 2: Remove light bulbs and caps.

2014-03-24_0003And let them hang out in your sink, obviously. You will be grateful for this when you accidentally break one of these bulbs and all the glass is nicely contained in one little area.

Our bathroom lights were the "Hollywood" style ugly bare bulb things that most houses seem to come with. Part of my difficulty in finding tutorials was that I assumed removing these lights, which take up a lot more wall space than the one light fixtures I was seeing tutorials for, would be a lot more difficult. It's really not, but that's because I didn't know what was underneath the fixture.

Step 3: Remove top panel.

how to install a bathroom light fixtureHere's where you get freaked out because there is a mess of wires and you don't know what any of it means! What are those brightly colored cap things!? Why are the wires different colors!? But it's okay. You don't have to know what it all means. Just don't fry yourself.

Step 4: Remove the pretty caps and untwist the wires connecting the fixture to the power supply.

2014-03-24_00062014-03-24_0007This is the step that was missing from most of the tutorials I was reading. Maybe this is obvious to most people. Me, I had unscrewed the fixture and couldn't figure out why it wasn't coming off the wall. Don't judge me. I'm sharing my challenges for the benefit of those like me! :)

Step 5: Unscrew the fixture.

2014-03-24_0008For real this time. Just take it off! (Sorry for ridiculously blurry and out of focus photos. I was usually holding a light fixture in one hand and shooting with the other while taking these pictures. You're welcome, world.)

Be grateful that the wall underneath looks shiny and perfect and requires no additional effort on your part at all. Happy dance!

Step 6: Attach the mounting bracket for your new light fixture.

2014-03-24_0009Now, this is kind of a sidenote for my particular lighting situation that may not apply to you. I installed two new lights, one for my vanity, one for Erik's. Obviously, I purchased matching light fixtures. However, the mounting brackets were completely different. The first bracket was a T shape, this one was a circle. The other thing I found strange was that the old Hollywood lights I was removing also had different mounting situations. One screwed into the wall on the sides (requiring me to fill holes before I painted... you know, with toothpaste like my mama taught me), the other didn't. And one had a gaping hole in the wall, whereas this one pictured, had this white divider between the hole and the fixture. I still don't know if I was supposed to remove that white piece as well, but when in doubt I don't mess with things, so I just screwed the mounting bracket in right on top of it. Why on earth would BOTH sets of outwardly identical light fixtures have completely different mounting set ups???? So bizarre. /end rant

I couldn't get the bracket to fit perfectly over the hole without those two outward facing screws being crooked and since if they're crooked, the whole fixture is crooked, I prioritized those screws.

Step 7: Match your wires by color and connect the wires from your power source to the light fixture.

This is the part that is the hardest to do by yourself. If you're not being an idiot and trying to surprise your husband (don't bother!) by doing it yourself, I definitely recommend having someone help out with this part. The difficulty is in holding your new light fixture up with one hand and twisting all the wires together with the other. Luckily I have arms of steel thanks to my new purchase of the 70-200mm lens and my new swimming routine. I used the pretty colored caps to twist each color together, black to black, white to white, and then just left the caps on them like I'd seen when I removed the old fixture.

Again, weird discrepancies... but the first fixture I installed didn't say anything special about the copper wires, so I just twisted them together like the blacks and whites. The second fixture said I had to wrap the copper wire around the green screw on the mounting bracket first. Why? I don't know. I especially don't get why one fixture said I should and the other shouldn't when it's the SAME LIGHT... but again, whatever. They both worked in the end.

Obviously, there are no pictures of this portion. There would have been if I had four hands.

Step 8: Attach the fixture to the wall and test.

2014-03-24_0010With my light fixture, it was remarkably simple to attach and all I had to do was screw in those two balls to connect it to the outward facing screws I mentioned earlier. Two tiny balls seemed a little insufficient to hold up my beautiful new light fixtures at first, but it's been a couple days now and they're still there so hurray!

Also, test to make sure you did it right. The first time I did not and had to open it all up and realized I hadn't completely connected some of my wires. This required many annoying trips to the circuit breaker. Whoops.

Step 9: Attach shades and bulbs.

2014-03-24_0011Apparently, in the bathroom vanity light world, there is much debate about whether your light fixture should point up or down. Most people were saying down because more light on your face sounds like a good idea. However, it seemed like all the smart people were saying up because then you'll get a softer, even bounce light off the ceiling that's much more flattering and less shadowy to your face. So I went with up and I definitely prefer it to the harsh, direct light we had before. I guess if you're really trying to blast the room with light, you might go with down, but it seems more a matter of taste and I just prefer soft, moody light.

Step 10: Revel in your glorious achievement.

how to install a bathroom light fixture2014-03-24_0014I was so proud. You have no idea. I texted people. I left the lights on in the middle of the day BECAUSE I COULD AND THEY WORKED. Why is this such a big deal? I don't KNOW. It's like explaining why guys feel good about themselves when they use power tools. There's no logical explanation, but it IS. And my new lights look awesome.

I hope this post helps someone like me who thought changing lights would be scary and they'd be forced to live with bare bulbs forever. It's really not so terrifying, and if you have someone there to help you, you could definitely do it in about ten minutes. Me? Well, you don't want to know how long it took me. THAT IS IRRELEVANT :)

A full bathroom before and after will be coming soon. Paint and lights are done, but I have a couple other things I want to do before the grand reveal.