Living Room Update [Inexpensive Gray Laminate Floors & Neutral Walls]

So, I tend to “overlook”, “ignore” or “turn a blind eye” to things in my home that I don’t love/hate, but just don’t have the time/energy/money to fix.
Scratch that – things that someone (hint: husband) doesn’t see a problem with and thinks aren’t worth the money to change.
As embarrassing as this is to share, this is how my living room looked for a very, very long time.


I don’t even know where to begin pointing out the issues.
I can say that the color of the floor kind of dictated my choice in furniture & wall color. This was the 3rd wall color. (Proud to announce I now have a 4th color up – a WINNER).
And can we discuss these dying window shades?
When I moved in, they were already there, but with a fabric I hated. I found the most frugal way to fix the stitch and bought fabric from JoAnn that I just laid over the fabric that was there and (judge not) just pinned onto the old fabric. All that heaviness was wayyyy too much and one of the cords broke. So, they sat like this for eight long years. Like I said….blind eye.
So while we had slowly made some great improvement to the room – this TV mantle upgrade, custom dog door and board and batten mirror wall – it was still a very sad room taking up over 50% of our downstairs.
Womp, womp.
Basically, I wanted a new couch, new flooring, and new wall colors.
But husband was like, “It’s fine the way it is.”
Tripple womp.
Then I strategized a bit and figured out the first step was to put in new floors (then the walls and furniture would no longer match (what?!? didn’t expect that!) and therefore need to be replaced…spoiler alert – my plan worked!).
I started talking about new floors about a year before I got anywhere. Then, I came into some unexpected money and headed straight to the floor store for some samples.
Here’s where things got interesting.
Matt (husband) said – and I quote – “I could care less what color the floors are.” Yet, as soon as samples started to appear in his living room he had quite an opinion, let me tell you. He even started going with me to the floor store to select samples. Wait, what?!
In the end, we each had a different “top pick” but since we was being such a good sport and letting me move forward with this project, I let him have the final say. I also compromised on how much flooring was replaced – I wanted the entire downstairs (there’s also tile) but only replaced the laminate.
Because we have a dog we decided to replace our laminate with….new laminate! Oh my gosh this stuff was cheap. But it looks ah-maz-ing and even after 8 months, not a scratch or blemish can be found.
This is Patina Design’s Phoenix Mint laminate flooring:
The floors were installed through a local flooring company, and they did a fantastic job.
Immediately after the floors went in I painted the walls and the ceiling.
This is Valspar Signature Frappe in eggshell:
The wall color goes perfect with the flooring.
I wanted an accent wall, so I painted this wall Valspar Signature Ashen gray (darker than Frappe) but you can’t really tell there’s a difference.
The rug and most of the furniture still looked great, but the couch had to go. Not only is the the wrong color, but it’s looks way too small for the space.
This couch wasn’t new by any means but was in SUPER condition. And I could not sell it to save my life. The consignment store wouldn’t even take it. Snobs! J/K. Ended up donating it which beat throwing it in the dumpster.
As I mentioned before, replacing the couch was on my mind well before the new floors went in. And around Christmas last year we went to a housewarming party and these friends of our had the most amazing couch. So we headed straight to the store they got it from – Sofas 4 Less – to design our new couch.
This store is so cool because you pretty much design your own custom couch. You pick the dimensions, the depth of the cushions, the softness, the fabric….literally every detail.
Here’s our new custom Sofas 4 Less couch:
Overall, we’re super happy with the new flooring and color scheme. Orange-ya glad we ditched the old colors? ūüėČ
I was worried a much larger sectional couch would make it feel tight and closed in, but it actually feels much more inviting now.
I just loved this bar table makeover before we re-did the rest of the room. But with the new floor, it really looks like it was meant for this space.
If you haven’t seen this room before – check out this before bar table makeover when we didn’t have the wainscot or mirror wall addition up yet.
This is how this small formal dining section of the living room looked long, long ago:
It seriously feels so much bigger now!
Hope you enjoyed this before and after living room update with neutral walls, laminate flooring and a nice big sectional sofa.
You may have spotted those custom made white painted wooden window cornices we created – can’t wait to show you how we made those. Stay tuned!

Gray & White Powder Room Makeover with Wainscot Wall

My powder room was in desperate need of a makeover.

In my younger years, I loved this animal print stencil and had created this unfortunate ambiance:


We referred to this room as “The Jungle.”

The stencil wasn’t bad, but the paint colors were….atrocious.

So, I decided to give this room an upgrade, which included:

  • gray paint (Home Depot’s Behr Sparrow 780F-4U)
  • wainscot wall
  • new hardware
  • new vanity
  • new mirror
  • new rug
  • crown moulding

Oh ohmygosh it is so. much. better!

Here’s the after (and it’s still not done – but more on that later):


Read on for the details of this complete powder room transformation.


This gray paint – Behr “Sparrow” from Home Depot was perfect for this room.

I also painted the ceiling (which I highly recommend always doing in a lighter coordinating color), but the ceiling color came out looking blue, so I plan to redo it.

I only painted 2/3 down, since we planned wainscoting for the bottom. We also removed the pedestal sink.



We added the backing for the wainscot wall on each wall..


Then added the decorative wainscot boxes and a coat of white paint. We did the same style of wainscot as in our living room, since we love it in there.


Looking better already! Oh and here’s a sneak peak at the new vanity from Home Depot:



I hated the pedestal sink because there was NO storage. I wanted to keep extra toilet paper and cleaning supplies in the room so a new vanity with storage was super important.

I had to keep the budget low, so I didn’t splurge, but I do feel we got a decent piece for what we paid.

We chose the 30″¬†Vinnova Naples vanity from Home Depot.


A major gripe we had about this piece was that the fixed shelf obstructed the sink pipes, so we had to cut a chunk out of the shelf to install it (see arrow).


The granite also had a big scratch, but I didn’t notice right after I purchased it, since we didn’t do the installation right away. A reminder to ALWAYS inspect things you buy as soon as you get them!

The scratch isn’t visible in the pic, but here’s the gray and white marble top. Love it!



I am loving the newbrushed nickel hardware (also from Home Depot). It’s the¬†Moen Hensley towel bar, faucet and toilet paper holder.



Our ceiling has this odd curve on one wall, which definitely made the crown moulding installation a challenge.



I’m not a big fan of things that are round. So, the builder-grade oval mirror just had to go.

The original replacement mirror I got was the perfect size (and sooo cheap!), but it gave off a distorted reflection. Too cheap, I guess.

The second mirror had a good reflection but just wasn’t the right size for the space. Too small.

The THIRD mirror was perfect. And, awesome because it had previously been in my entry way (but no longer had a home), so it didn’t cost a thing. All it needed was a coat of silver glitter spray paint to make it match the room.





A decorator once told my mom that every room should have a touch of whimsy.

So, while I had the spray paint out for the mirror makeover, I gave this giraffe a makeover too.


It’s the only piece of decor from the “before” that got to stick around.

Here’s the before/after comparison, quite a difference, huh?




The upper section of wall behind the vanity still has to be tiled, and I ultimately plan to wallpaper the walls, so stay tuned!



Floating Shelf Night Stand for Small Bedroom

In our my parents summer weekend lakeside getaway home, my husband and I share a small bedroom that only has room on 1 side of the bed for a nightstand.

And, it’s not my side of the bed.

I take a sip of water every time I wake up throughout the night. So for years, I’ve spent summer weekends with my water bottle on the floor next to the bed. Right alongside my charging cell phone that I glance at to check the time each time I wake up.

….Which is a lot, since we share this small room with our dog who, while at the lake, isn’t fond of sleeping because ALL she wants to do is go outside and swim in the lake. Regardless of what time it is.


Since there wasn’t room for a side table to hold my drink and cell phone clock, I decided the solution was a floating shelf.


This project was *so* easy to make, and it’s already brought me so much happiness!

Here’s how we made our floating bedside phone ledge:

Use wood to create a rectangle frame. Then, create a slightly bigger sleeve that can slide over the frame once it’s mounted to the wall (basically a rectangular box with 1 side missing).



Once the sleeve was painted black (to match the bed and wall mirror it is nudged between), we drilled some holes in the frame where it would be screwed into the wall.


Using a laser level to ensure our floating ledge would be straight, we marked and drilled 3 holes in the wall where we planned to install the frame.


Once we added some anchors, we screwed the shelf into place.


Next, we just slid the sleeve part right over the frame, and ta-da!


It’s the perfect size for the space and has room to hold me 3 night-time essentials: water, Chapstick and my phone.

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!