Painted Door Makes Wall Pop

Back when my husband and I added board and batten to a wall in our kitchen, I decided all that white was too much and painted the entry door from our garage to our kitchen black.

This is a slightly late reveal, since you can see the black door in our Simple Kitchen Command Center post.

The contrasting color looks phenomenal. It ties in with our black kitchen appliances, black kitchen table, and the top section of our command center.

Here was the white door before we added the command center, but after the board and batten went in:


It’s so simple to paint a door – just remove any locks and knobs, tape it off, and paint it. (Find door painting tips on Pinterest here).


When we first painted it, every time we walked into the room and saw the “black void” we thought someone had accidentally left the door to the garage open. But, we’ve since adjusted and we just love it.

Here’s the before and after (I think my phone’s camera lens had a smudge – these pics didn’t come out well!):



Learn about our easy DIY kitchen command center for small wall spaces here:


Simple Wainscot Wall with Big Impact

This is the accent wall with wainscoting and a custom fitted mirror that we added to “class up” our tiny formal dining area and make the small space feel bigger:


My husband loves to play ping-pong. So what better gift idea (or so I thought) for Christmas morning than a ping pong table we can set up in the garage, have friends over, and play?

I even found one that was black and red to match our garage’s color scheme.

All was well until my husband decided we should keep the ping pong table inside the house….In the formal dining room. Where there wasn’t room to leave it set up, but instead folded up and pushed against the wall.

I don’t know how this situation got away from me, but I spent a full year looking at this eye sore in my living room. After about 6 months I threw a gold fitted sheet over it and tried to pretend it wasn’t there.

I SO wish I had a picture to show you. But, I hated it so much I didn’t even stop to take a picture when my husband finally agreed to move it back out to the garage – I didn’t want any hesitations or delays causing him to change his mind!

So, once we removed the ping pong table (but before we moved the cornhole set – another gift idea gone wrong) here is what the room looked like (just imagine a gigantic ping pong table filling up the wall space on the left):


Even without the ping pong table, things look pretty drab. We had a rickety cabinet against the wall (that my husband scored for free when he lived as a bachelor in San Francisco and we’ve since painted twice) and a bar table from my college days. (Yes, we have both brought some bad decor into this home – keep in mind it’s our first!)

Now that the massive table tennis table was gone, here was the plan:

You can read about the bar table makeover here. Pretty dramatic, huh?

Once we cleared out the room, here was our wall:


We framed out the window, added some hardboard along the lower portion of the wall, and ran some decorative chair rail along the top of the board.

(We just rested the hardboard on top of the baseboard, but in future projects we decided removing the baseboard and putting it on top of the hardboard looks much nicer.)


The trickiest part was cutting out the holes in the exact right spots for the outlets. (By the way, if you ever cut a hole too big, you can cover your mistake with oversized switch plates).


Next, we nailed the boxed frames to the hardboard (which we created in custom sizes to fit our wall), caulked all the edges and nail holes (ugh, tedious!), and painted everything white.


We just love how it came out!


Next, we had a local glass and mirror company create a custom mirror to fit the remaining space. Can you believe they mount it without smearing the glue? They just add all these dollops and somehow it holds.



Here it is with the new Ballard Designs sideboard cabinet, updated bar table and cute gray tufted accent chair under the window (which I hadn’t planned but couldn’t pass up when I found it at Home Goods – I promise the animal print pillow on top matches far better than it appears to in this picture):


The only thing left in this room is to get new window coverings (yes, I know they’re hideous at this time) – stay tuned!

In the mirror, you can see the reflection of our TV wall makeover.

Funny thing about the bar stools – I bought one at a Target that’s not closest to my home because I happened to be in that town one day. After bringing it home I liked it and ran to my local Target to get another. However, one has darker legs than he other and is super, super firm while the other is nice and cushy. So odd!


It looks a little busy in the picture, but the large mirror wall makes the room feel sooo much bigger! I have to admit it cost more than I wanted, but I just love it. So much so that I’d like to add another one above the board and batten in our kitchen.

Have you ever used mirrors to make a space feel bigger? I’d love to see it!

Built-In TV Frame Above Fireplace

For a long time the built-in cabinet on the right side of our TV wall overpowered the rest of the wall space. It’s not centered on the wall and it’s smushed right up against the fireplace mantle:


And as much as an eye sore it is during the daylight hours, I have a thing for dim lighting at night, hence the strung Christmas lights that hung in here year-round.

We finally did something about it. We framed out the TV space above the mantle and added wainscoting under the window:


Much more balanced!

Here’s some details to our living room wall upgrade:

Framed Out Window

We added a frame to the left and right edges of the window. This required replacing the window ledge to make it wider. (Super, super easy!)


Wainscot Accent Wall

We added wainscoting under the window to match the wainscot wall on the opposite side of the room.


Built-In TV Frame

Finally, we created a frame for the television with crown moulding on the top. Sooo much went wrong with this portion of the project. But in the end, it came out great!


Here’s the before and after one more time:


Keep in mind, that red window cornice is going. It’s on my long list of projects that will be perfect for the next weekend day we have without rain!

And, I’m still re-styling the clutter that was filling the right section that was already built-in and used by the previous homeowners to store their TV.

Recommendations appreciated! How should I fill the large empty built-in TV nook on the right?!?

Behind the Door Kitchen Command Center for a Small Space

I have to admit, I don’t have children so I’m not exactly juggling a whole lot around here. But, I used to work full time while my husband coached baseball for a living and since he was home most of the time, he took on the role of what we call “House Manager”.

Eventually, he retired from coaching and entered the corporate world. California Bay Area commute and all. (Boo for him!)

So, since I worked closest to home, “House Manager” duties defaulted back to me. *Sigh*

As I’ve shared before, our house is not big. That’s why I was always intrigued by all the kitchen command centers I saw on Pinterest. Often times, it’s just a small wall converted into useful space.

My garage door into the house opens right into my kitchen – it’s the  black door (shown below – you can see more in my kitchen board and batten wall post). That means every time we walk in the house, everything ends up piled on the kitchen table – keys, shopping bags, mail, half-empty fast food cups.

A few years back I hung a mail organizer/key holder behind the door in an effort to stop losing my keys, but let’s face it – it was an eye sore:


I really wanted to eliminate the kitchen table clutter and improve this sad wall, so I designed a command center to hold keys, mail, sunglasses and magazines. (Side note: the baby gate is what we use to keep our dog from going upstairs when we’re not home – like I admitted above, we’re a child-free home).

We decided to frame it to match the door:


Then, we added wood inside the frame:


Next, we added some framing to the bottom third to match the board and batten wall on the other side of the door:


The ledge was an important part of the design since it can hold sunglasses and other small accessories:


The bottom section was designed to hold magazines and some file folders to organize coupons. We painted the top black (it’s not chalkboard paint) and the bottom white:


Amazing what a coat of paint can do, huh?


Here it is with the framed calendar, mail and key organizer and some magazines/coupon file holders in the rack below:


The best compliment was the other day when my girlfriend came over to bring me lunch after I had sinus surgery. She was enamored with it so much she hired someone to build one at her house!

Here’s her version – a simple framed out command center that’s magnetic so she can get the clutter off the fridge – she has 3 kids!


Again – here’s my before and after. We just love it!


7 Mini Master Bathroom Upgrades that Had Huge Impact

My dream is to do a full remodel on my master bathroom. But, for now, the $$$ just isn’t there. Instead, I recently made 7 changes that made a huge impact on my builder-grade master bath.

If you want to feel like you remodeled your bathroom, consider some or all of these 7 updates:

1. Fresh Wall & Ceiling Paint:

I’m a firm believer that a fresh paint color can completely transform a room. So, when I had a spare day recently, I painted over the hideous green paint with a nice warm neutral color and I just love the results.


blog-tip When painting a room, paint the ceiling too. The trick is to paint the ceiling a shade or two lighter than the walls so it doesn’t make the room feel smaller.

blog-tip Another room changer that most people don’t think of is to touch up the paint on the baseboards and door jambs. I gave those a fresh coat of paint as well.

2. Add a Runner Rug:

For years, I had a mini rug under each sink. Then, a neighbor’s house went on the market and when I went to their Open House as a nosy neighbor (tell me I’m not the only one who does this!), I saw they had 1 larger runner rug that spanned the entire vanity and it looked a-maz-ing. So, I got this rug on Overstock and it’s a million times better than before.

Both the lighter color and fun texture really brighten up the room and make it feel fresher.




3. Hang a Framed Mirror:

I’ve been reading blogs about how to frame an existing wall mirror. But, then I discovered Kirkland’s and realized I could get a giant new mirror for ch-ch-cheap. (Bonus: they have an app with coupons).

I had to drive an hour to get to a Kirklands, but it was worth it to get this elegant new vanity mirror.



4. Replace an Old Light Fixture:

One thing I’ve always hated was the light fixture, but I wasn’t sure how to swap it out since it required wiring.

But seriously – look at that old one! It was so overpowering I only kept 4 bulbs in at a time. Talk about an eye sore!

I didn’t want to spend a lot of money on this, so I selected this inexpensive fixture from Home Depot. Turns out, it comes with wiring instructions and updating the fixture wasn’t that difficult after all.


5. Add/Update Window Treatments:

These curtains were here when we moved in. They look so dated!

I made new window treatment from foam board wrapped in fabric. The foam board was only $8 and the fabric was curtain panels I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby.


6. Build Wall-to-Wall Floating Shelves:

One of the best updates by far was throwing out this old over-the-toilet space saver and adding built-in floating shelves. I’m still working on styling them do don’t judge that part 🙂



7. Add Crown Molding:

Finally, we put up crown moulding. This was the 3rd area of our home DIY’d some crown moulding. It’s hands-down one of the most dramatic changes you can make to a room.



Someday, I’ll refinish the cabinets and put in new tile and flooring. But, until then, these 7 simple updates have transformed the feeling of my master bathroom.

Have any other simple upgrade tips to share? I’d love to hear them and see what you’ve done to quickly and easily transform your space!

Bar Table Makeover with Paint & Gel Stain

I’ve had this bar table and matching bar stools since college.

It’s the perfect size for my small formal dining area, but needed a makeover bad. In fact, this whole room needed a total transformation! (See the before and after process here.)


I decided to start with the table. I did the top with General Finishes Java Gel Stain & then painted the base with an ivory paint & added a decorative brown glaze.

Quite a difference! I just love it now!



The process was time-consuming, but I was determined to salvage this old round high-top table.

Looking back, it’s hard to believe I let it sit in my house like this for 5 years!


First, I took it into the garage and sanded the heck out of it. I did the base by hand and used a sander on the top.

I stained the under side of the top piece before flipping over and staining the top.


I sprayed the base with primer spray paint (looked better already!)


Next, 2 coats of ivory paint:


Followed by a coat of glaze. I pretty much followed the same glazing technique I always use – paint a heavy coat of glaze on, let it dry just a touch, then wipe off until I achieve my desired look.


I added some new fancy bar stools from Target and couldn’t be happier with the results.


Update: See how easily we did the wainscot wall behind the table (plus added a mirror wall above it) to make this room feel twice as big as it is!


How to Make a Foam Board Cornice for a Corner Window



I recently did a DIY overhaul on my master bathroom, and I wanted to create a cornice window treatment for the window. I found lots of great tutorials on creating one out of foam board, but couldn’t find a single tutorial for a corner window.

So, I took on the project anyhow and decided to learn as I went.

Now I’m sharing my steps with you, and I hope you’ll create one too!


WARNING: Many tutorials say “easy” and “10 minutes” – this was time consuming and thought-intensive. I’d hardly describe it as easy or quick – I think I spent a good 4 hours on this, but it was worth it.

Here’s how you can create a cheap foam board cornice for a corner window:

Determine the size of your cornice board. I decided to make mine 12″ tall, have it extend 3″ beyond each window edge, and sit 2″ off the wall. All measurements in this post reflect this – adjust for your needs 🙂

Sketch Out Pieces & Take Measurements:

You’ll need to cut the following 5 pieces for a corner window cornice:


Once pieces together, I’ll refer to these 2 pieces:


Piece #1:

Since it’s going in a corner, you’ll want to add some extra support where the 2 boards meet.

If both windows are the same length, choose 1 that will have a support piece that goes all the way to the adjacent wall. If one window is wider than the other (in my case, the right one is wider), then be sure to make that piece (piece #1 in my example) long enough to reach the wall.

Measuring Piece 1: Distance from adjacent wall to 3″ beyond window. (Adjust if you choose a different distance beyond the window). With the width of the board (3/4″) you’ll only see 2.25″ between the window edge and the cornice if you measure 3″ beyond the window edge which looks nice.

If your window is 60″ wide, it’s 8″ from the wall, and you plan to go 3″ beyond the window with your edge, you’d cut this piece 71″ rectangle, then notch out the bottom area…

See how piece #1 is notched  on the left side? I didn’t want the support piece to be visible when looking up at the window, so I cut the bottom of the support area off (2″ x 8″ removed).


Piece #2:

This will be for your second window.

Measuring Piece 2: Distance from wall to edge of window + 1/4″ (if going 3″ beyond window).

Since it will butt up against piece number 1, which is already 2″ off the wall (plus 3/4″ for thickness of board), you only need to add .25 more inches to include the distance beyond the window that it will reach. (Again, this is an example – adjust if you have different plans).


Piece #3:

This is a support piece for Piece #2, cut it 2″ x 4″.

Piece #4 & #5:

These are the edges that will attach to the wall. Cut them 12″ x 2″

Supplies Needed


  • Fabric (enough to cover front, sides and wrap around to the back)
  • Batting (enough to cover front, sides and wrap around to the back)
  • Foam Board (aka “Foam Board Insulation” or “Expanded Polystyrene”)
  • Duct tape
  • Nails (16 guage x 1-1/14″ – see image below)
  • Sewing Pins (with balls on end)
  • 3 L Brackets
  • 6 screws for mounting L Brackets to wall
  • Scissors (for cutting fabric)
  • Box Cutter Knife / Rotary Knife (for cutting foam board)

The fabric I used was actually curtain panels I got on clearance at Hobby Lobby.

Lowe’s is my nearest home improvement store, so I went there to pick up some foam board, along with nails, L Brackets & screws.

The foam board is 3/4″ thick and comes in sheets of 4′ x 8′ for only $8.35! Super cheap!


Make sure your nails have a large enough head that they don’t slip through the boards. Here’s the ones I used:


Cutting Your Foam Board:

Once you have all your measurements mark your foam board and cut to size.


I used a rotary blade to cut the board which worked really well. Unfortunately, the blade wasn’t thick enough to cut all the way through, so I had to cut 1 side, then flip it over and cut the other side. Still, I think it was easier than using a box cutter blade, so if you have one of these, use it!



Assembling Your Cornice Board:

Now, attach pieces #1 & #4 using wire nails. So simple but it works:


Reinforce both the inside & outside with duct tape:


Do the same for pieces #2 & #5.

Attaching Batting to Your Foam Board:

Lay piece #2 (along with attached piece #5) on your batting, cut enough to wrap around the edges, and tape into place. You do not need to cover the edge that will butt up against piece #1.


Here is piece 2 covered with batting:


Now, add batting to piece #1. You’ll want to leave no batting on the “support piece section” – as well as the last 3/4″ of the full length section of your board where piece #2 will be attached.


You can pin this edge of batting into place.


Attaching Fabric to Your Cornice Boards:

Lay your pieces on your fabric and cut large enough to wrap around the edges of your board. Then, iron your fabric if needed.


Lay piece #2 out on the back side of the fabric, and cut inward at each end so you can easily fold it over.


Wrap fabric around board and pin into place, pushing the pins in at an angle.


Cut out squares at each corner.


Note: I chose to cover a lot of the back of my boards with fabric for 2 reasons. One, I didn’t want to be laying in my bathtub looking up at the boards and see the ugly backing. Two, I didn’t want it to look ugly from the outside when the shades are up. If you don’t care about the back, there’s no need to cover so much of it.

At this point, you’ll want to attach our mini support piece of foam board (piece #3) to the top back of piece #2.


Near the base, drive pins down at an angle to attach the two pieces on each side.


Then, secure with duct tape.


Cut and trim fabric so that it folds over the edge at the bottom and covers the side of the support piece. Secure with pins or duct tape.


OK, piece #2 is done for now. Set it aside and get to work on piece #1.


Add fabric to areas covered with batting on piece #1.


Assemble Your Cornice Board

At this point, I was getting pretty excited!

Next, set up your 2 pieces as they’ll be assembled and hung.


Now, it’s time to connect the support pieces to each other.

Line them up.


You might think of a better way to attach these pieces – perhaps using glue! I just drove nails through the pieces, drove angled pins in along the edges, and added duct tape.


And ta-da! It’s ready to hang!


Hanging Your Corner Window Cornice Board

Hanging it was a little bit tricky, and definitely required 2 people, so taking pictures wasn’t really an option.

Here’s the steps we took:

  • We held it up in place at the height we wanted.
  • I positioned the L brackets on the board as my husband held it up to determine where they would go, and marked the screw holes on the wall.
  • We set the cornice aside.
  • I drilled the holes and mounted the 3 L brackets on the walls.
  • We held the cornice up against the brackets, and I used nails through the screw holes to secure the cornice to the brackets.

Here are some pics of 1 of the L-brackets once hung:


You can see how I really angled the nails to keep it secure:


Now a sigh of relief – it’s done and it looks great!

When I told my husband I was going to build a cornice out of foam board (we’ve built them before out of wood) he was very skeptical, but he was very impressed with how these came out!

This has been up for several months now and hasn’t budged.

I’ll definitely make some more again soon with my leftover foam board!



Would you try this project? If you do, I hope you’ll share pics!