Monthly Archives: March 2012

Mastering the Master


Change-up time.  I’ve finally been allowed to write second.  Is that a pig that just flew by?


If you read this blog regularly, you know what kind of weird and tacky stuff the previous owners of our house did- the wood paneling (more on that here), the dried-mustard yellow bathrooms (more on that here and here), the lockless gun cabinet/mini-bar combo (more on that here)- but one room that was actually pretty nice was the master bedroom… mostly. Or so we thought.

When we looked at the house with our realtor, we thought the master bedroom might be on the bottom of our renovation list. It was big, clean, open, well-lit, and quiet. The walls were a calm, light blue, but for some reason they decided to paint the ceiling a very dark blue. I’m not an expert on decorating, but I know that dark colors shrink a room… and trust me, they lower a ceiling, too.

Dark blue ceiling… but it’s an easy fix, right? Right…?

When we went back for a second viewing before putting in an offer, we noticed that it seemed a little strange to put a rug in the middle of a carpeted room, and then we noticed something else- this:

Before I pulled back the rug, I knew what I would find, and I was right. There was a HUGE dark blue stain on the carpet where they had obviously kicked a paint can over. What a bunch of rookies.

We knew we wanted to replace the carpet, but now it had to be replaced. We put in an offer and one of the conditions was that they pay to put in new carpet. We actually ended up picking out and purchasing the new carpet before we had the keys to the house and had our carpet guy store it for us until the sellers had finished moving out.

On move-in day, we put everything we owned into the living room (sadly, it fit quite well). The next day, we began our first project- painting the room. We picked out a dark brown for the walls, the biggest bucket of white ceiling paint we could find, and very quickly learned how much we hate painting.

If you’ve never painted a ceiling, try to keep it that way. It’s by far the most difficult and messiest thing you can do to drywall. Most of our ceilings were an off-white color and only required two coats, but that stupid dark blue literally took three gallons to cover up, and there are still a few thin spots. It took me longer to paint that one ceiling than it did the walls of both the master and the guest bedroom! The next day we were having the carpet installed, so we were under the gun to get the painting done, including all the trim. What a beating!

In the end it was worth it- the white ceiling and trim looked great against the brown walls. We later installed crown moulding and were finally done.

Like my painter’s caulked corner? Gotta love North Texas soil.

We arranged the furniture, got some lamps that worked on the wall switch, and were done- finally, a finished room and a place to relax after a long, hard day of renovating the rest of this outdated house! Or so I thought.


It’s been a constant fight of dark vs light in our house since we moved in.  No, I don’t mean some weird Star Wars good vs evil theme, I mean paint.  Chris and I will pick out a color and I’ll want to go two shades lighter while he’ll want to go two shades darker.  It’s a constant battle.

After posting a plethora of paint chips to the walls, Chris convinced me to go with a dark  tan color.  After painting the ceiling white, he convinced me the room needed a dark color on the walls.  It would be soothing, a perfect retreat after a long day.

PSH.  It looked like muddy river water.  See?

Not exactly the “relaxing retreat” we were going for.  So we’d just repaint it.  No biggie.  The only problem- Chris LOVED it.  Sigh.

Well, it wasn’t really a matter of if we would change it, it was a matter of when.  I let Chris enjoy his muddy walls for a few months and finally decided I had had enough.  It was repaint time.  I decided I wanted to keep it a neutral, tan color but go WAY lighter.

I ended up picking Behr’s Wheat Bread.

This has seriously become my favorite paint color.  I’ve had to restrain myself from painting the whole house this color.  It’s a neutral, light greige color that evokes instant calm and serenity.  Perfection.  Chris’ thoughts after we repainted?  “It’s too light.”  Sigh.

I also decided it was time to update our bedding from the red IKEA comforter I had from college (most comfortable comforter ever but didn’t quite the match the new look we were going for).

We used the remainder of our Macy’s gift cards from the wedding to spring for a new bedding set called Poetical by Barbara Barry.  It’s not available at Macy’s anymore but you can find it at Bed Bath and Beyond.

It’s a modern, neutral pattern that I paired with  a teal Pottery Barn quilt and euro shams called Pick-Stitch in the Porcelain Blue color (the top quilt shown in the below picture).


We were well on our way to a brand new master retreat.  But, first a little wall art and lamps were needed.  My mom helped me pick out an iron scroll to hang on the wall from Hobby Lobby, which has a great selection of inexpensive options.

And then, I found THE lamps.  I’ve always loved these iron table lamps from Pottery Barn but at $170 a pop, they weren’t really a reasonable option.

While perusing Kirkland’s, I found them.  Something so great, I spent the day chanting “I love lamp, I love lamp.”  AND they were only $35 each.  Jackpot.  Unfortunately, they’re not available at Kirkland’s anymore as their inventory changes so quickly but you can see pictures below.

And, of course the last addition was our newly renovated night stands, which you can read about here.

Okay, enough talk already.  Here are the results:



Filed under Master Bedroom

Our Favorite Things: Coffered Ceilings and a Room with a View


My most recent drool-worthy item has become coffered ceilings.  If you aren’t familiar, coffered ceilings are a repeating pattern of sunken shapes, most commonly squares or rectangles.  It instantly dresses up any room and makes a big statement.  It only really works in a room with high ceilings, hence my dreams of adding them to our 12′ living room ceiling.  Hm, now I just need to convince Chris to take on the project.  That may take awhile.  In the meantime, check out these gorgeous inspiration pictures.

Source: Houzz, Dillard Design Group, LLC

Source: Houzz, Sullivan Conard Architects

Source: Pinterest

Source: Houzz, Crisp Architects

Source: Houzz, M Woodruff Design, LLC


I’m no stranger to irony. Like, I find it ironic that I can’t stand when people talk about “the lake” non-stop, but quite frankly I love lakes. I also love the ocean, but it’s dirty and full of jellyfish (I blame growing up near Galveston for that fear).

Anyway, I told Julie a long time ago that the house was basically hers, but there were three things I wouldn’t compromise on: the garage would always be mine, I will always have a project car, and we’ll eventually have a lake house. No, I don’t mean for vacation- I want to live on lakefront property full time. It’s hard to match the beauty of the waterfront, and you never know when you’ll need to escape from a hoard of zombies… and zombies can’t swim.

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Filed under Favorite Things

Craigslist Crashes: Volume 1


In all our days of perusing Craigslist for new things to redo, we’ve found some pretty weird posts.  Some so weird that we had no choice but to start a new segment detailing these gems.  So, enjoy!

Translation: Husband goes through mid-life crisis in the middle of fulfilling his wife’s grocery list at CostCo and needs to do something masculine.  He runs across a display for 24 Hour Fitness memberships on sale.  Bingo!  Wife finds out.  Wife says, “you better use it.”  Husband forgets about it.  Wife joyously sings I told you so for the next week and triumphantly lists it on CraigsList.  Husband gets out of CostCo shopping for the next year.  Tie game.

I’m really bummed I missed the original ad… and I’m sure crowds of other people were just as disappointed they missed out on free water and, most of all, toilet paper.  I’m just hoping it wasn’t used…

I have to hand it to Mike, he’s quite the capitalist.  Why not have your lawn trimmed and cleared for free in exchange for giving them what they cut?  Genius!

Oooh a secret mirror!  Only worth it if it tells you who is the fairest of them all.

This post makes me gag… not because of the picture but because of the thought that there may be an answer to “whatever dirty mattresses are used for.”

And now for the CraigsList Hall of Shame: the ugliest items listed on the site.

Further proof that Texans will put cow horns on anything (I’m so ashamed).

I don’t know what’s worse- the fact that they used the word “beautiful” or that they’re asking money for this.


When I’m bored, I like to look at Craigslist because it’s like the Internet’s version of a swap meet. You can find just about anything and if you know how to manipulate the search engine, there are some good deals to be had. Below, I’ve compiled a list of some real treasures, the kind of once-in-a-lifetime deals I live for.

I actually have to credit a co-worker for finding this one, but what a steal! If only I could describe the frustration of scouring the internet for a used computer, only to find out it had been on a boat or motorcycle! A computer that has been exposed to a maritime environment is an immediate deal-breaker for me.

Made fresh daily- it must be good! But seriously, what are “shavings”???

I tried to convince Julie that these would be perfect for our Dokken-themed office, but she said she didn’t like the Chiefs.

Seriously, though, this guy is my hero, and he deserves an award for being totally metal.

I feel like this is probably a ploy to get me into a sales pitch. Free ice? If it seems to good to be true, it probably is.


Did anyone else notice that it doesn’t necessarily say they’re unused?

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Filed under CraigsList Crashes

The Dark Night (Stand)


I’ve been on a mission ever since we moved into the house.  And, no, it’s not driving Chris insane with the never-ending list of projects.  Two words (or is it one word? I can never figure it out): Night stands.

The before wasn’t pretty.  So much so that I completely forgot to take pictures of what we had been working with since we got married: an $8 IKEA table (literally, $8).  We seriously walked into IKEA, perused the 5 million square feet building, and found the cheapest, elevated, flat surface to bring home.  Thank you Mr. LACK.

This was a proud moment for Chris- convincing me to walk out with the cheapest table in the store.  While, for me, a very low point.  Mostly because we went with the black-brown option (is black-brown really fooling anyone into thinking it looks like wood??).

My side boasted of a rattan side table passed down from my parents’ attic.  I had used it since my apartment days of college.  It worked fine.  I had two baskets underneath to store all my junk.  Perfect-o.  Well, sum up my horror for the LACK table and it just about equals Chris’ feelings for my night stand.  I think it was mostly due to the fact that Chloe (our cat) used it as her scratching post (hey, better than any of the thousand upholstered chairs we’ve seemed to acquire).

Only one friend could solve our problem.  Craigs List.  But how Craigs List failed me!  After what took months (seriously… months!), I finally stumbled upon a set of low-priced, beat-up night stands that I could wave my magical wand of spray paint and sandpaper at and churn out a handsome set of furniture.  I’m still shocked that we answered the ad because this is the picture we were working from.

A little tone-on-tone wood never deterred me though!  $40 later and the back seat of my car featured these two fellas.

This picture does them a little more justice.  The tops were a little rough- worn varnish, scratches, blue paint splotches, oh my!

And look at those gold drawer pulls!  I couldn’t wait to tear those things off.

But the best part was the bonus prize we found stuffed behind one of the drawers.  From Valentine’s Day cards, to old checks, to trash, we found it all (quickly shredded and disposed of, you’re welcome, sellers).  All except one piece, that is.

Craigs List sellers beware: make sure all your personal items are out of the item you’re selling or your grocery list could end up on some random person’s blog… like this.

Yum, looks good!  I love whatever “salad stuff” is, but seriously, who puts a question mark after wine?  Wine is not a question, people!


There are a lot of outrageously-priced items out there: jeans, a decent cup of coffee, used Hondas, etc. And, apparently, beat up furniture. Julie and I hit Craigslist at least once a day looking for a good deal on used furniture and quite frankly, a fair price is not to be had very often. I blame HGTV for creating a false demand and running up the prices.

Anyway, we finally stumbled across a pair of night stands that we thought might have potential. We both had a certain look in mind that we couldn’t quite describe but we knew it when we saw it, and we finally saw it. A quick jaunt to the other end of town, a bit of shoe-horning into the trunk, and we were merrily on our way home with our latest project.

First things first- cleaning. These things were in sad shape- dog hair, paint stains, trash, you name it. It was hard to get a proper idea of what condition they were really in until we wiped them down a few times and even hit one with a shop vac, but we soon realized that we had some work to do.

Next, we had to strip the old finish for two reasons. One, the tops were incredibly rough and, obviously, we wanted them smooth. Second, there was a high-sheen varnish on them that would need to be stripped in order for the new paint to adhere. We started with a handheld sanding block to roughen the finish enough to paint:

The tops, on the other hand, required the power sander to get through years of abuse, resulting in scraped-off varnish in some places and build-up in others:

After sanding the hell out of them, we still had discoloration in the wood, but whatever- it was smooth, and we were painting over it anyway.

Now for my least favorite part: painting. I hate painting. Whether it’s a brush or a rattle-can, I can’t stand it. It was too cold to spray outside, so I had to spray in the garage and even with a mask on, the fumes were overwhelming.

Anyway, these took quite a bit more paint than I expected. The dark wood didn’t cover as easily as I’d hoped, and I ended up doing three coats, sanding lightly between each one to ensure a smooth finish in the end.

The difference between wood and paint can be seen here:

For tips on spray painting furniture, check out our previous post on that here.

After the first coat:

The drastic difference between one and two coats:

Want to know why I hate painting? Because it makes my hand swell up like a balloon! I told Julie I needed hazard pay from now on.

Finally, I was done painting and Julie could begin “distressing.” The one on the left is painted, the one on the right has been distressed:


As a finishing touch, I decided to apply a coat of urethane to the tops. After all, these were going to be functional and quite frankly, we don’t baby our furniture… and I don’t want to paint them again.

We realized after everything was done that we had forgotten about the handles. After spending what seemed like an eternity in the cabinet hardware aisle at Home Depot (I’d rather paint than be in that stupid aisle) and only to return home empty-handed, I got the idea to just spray the original handles with oil-rubbed-bronze-look spray paint and call it a day. Fortunately, Julie loved the look as it kept the original style of the night stands but also updated the finish. Problem solved!

These night stands turned out so well we were tempted to sell them (as we patted ourselves on the back for such a professional finish), but we assume at the rate we find furniture on Craigslist, a deal like these will come by around the same time we next see Halley’s Comet.



Ah, white distressed.  My favorite.  I’d like to point out right now, that I’ve gone this entire post without using the word “shabby chic.”  Ha!  It can be done.

The bottom space of the night stand was perfectly suited to putting a basket to hide all our books/magazines… I guess I should say “my” books/magazines as Chris’ aversion to reading outdoes his aversion to our cat 10:1.

Oh, and the color we used is Rust-oleum’s Satin Heirloom White spray paint, found at Home Depot.  My new favorite color by far.

Stay tuned for a sneak peek into more of our master bedroom soon (aka the left side of this picture).


Filed under Before & After, Master Bedroom