Archive for the ‘After’ Category

Stairgate 2012

Last week, a scary thing happened. I got distracted for a few seconds and looked up… Kenton had opened a closed door and was gone. I jumped up and found him, literally, teetering off the top stair.

This top stair.

Of this staircase.

I caught him just in time.

Then, I squeezed him tight for a long time and bawled my eyes out. That was, to date, one of the scariest moments of my life. I still tear up just thinking about it.

Clearly, it was time for a major change in the Dream… the addition of a gate.

Young sir is certainly on the move…

Not only is he interested in climbing the stairs, he’s walking constantly now – but wasn’t allowed to in the upstairs hallway, because of the imposing death trap of the stairs…

We had been talking about adding a gate for a while, but the great scare – “Stairgate 2012” – was the last straw.

However, we had a problem.

We have an extra wide staircase – 5 feet wide – to be precise. So, that meant no average gate would do. We needed extra wide.

On top of that, we had a little issue with our bannisters…

They stick out just enough and are just short enough to block a simple gate installation. What these bannisters don’t realize is that I’m married to the handiest man on the planet… who devised the perfect plan to gate around these pesky beasts.

Sure, it’s not the prettiest thing in the world. But it is SAFE. And that’s what matters.

Little Mr (and his best friend) are now free to walk around upstairs without mom (or dad) having a panic attack…

The best part about the gate though, is the look of panic on the Bulldog’s face as he’s racing up the stairs and suddenly encounters an obstacle. Okay, that’s mean – but it is funny.

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The playroom is still (very much) a work in progress, but it is starting to come together…

I have put very little money into this room, which is awesome. That’s thanks, in part, to some pretty lucky thrifting finds…

I scored that little kid-sized table at Goodwill for less than a latte. Yep! Just a little bit of sanding, primer and paint…

And she was good to go…

I’m still on the hunt for two or three kid-sized chairs to go with it. I’m determined to find wooden ones for cheap… and I’m willing to wait! Which is fine as Kenton is still a bit young to actually sit at the table and do something productive.

We painted the table the same color blue as our downstairs bathroom, which is right across the hall from the play room. Also that shade of blue? The diaper storage shelf (former dish display rack) that I picked up for $12 at the Junk in the Trunk Vintage Market:

Remember what that first looked like?

It’s not quite finished either. I’m going to add a colorful fabric with elastic around the bottom shelf to hold those diapers in and add some more color.

The changing table is also a second-hand find.

We found it at a local kid’s consignment store for $30! That is so much cheaper than buying one new and even less than I could find on my local Craig’s List. And it TOTALLY beats the makeshift table we were using for a few weeks:

Pretty bad, no?

You may recall, even some of the fabric used in the embroidery hoop art is from a thrift store…

See this post for more on that.

Finally, I made a really fun find at a thrift store in Del Mar, California last week:

These sweet little mirrors – and elephant and a hippo were just $2 bucks each. We still need to find a special toddler-height spot for them, but I’m sure we will soon.

Also coming soon:

  • Replacing the non-child-safe curtains and blinds with a valance and safe blind
  • New bedding for the daybed (currently, our former guest room queen-sized duvet is making an awkward cover up)
  • Perhaps a fun paint job… (don’t tell Jason!)
  • Area rug (the carpet is taking quite a beating!)
  • DIY coloring book display rack
  • More art/wall hangings

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Okay, I’m back with more on the living room makeover… for a refresher, this is what we were dealing with…

We ditched the couch set on Craig’s List for way less than what they’re worth. There are a surplus of couches on Craig’s List. We had to keep lowering the price until we got some bites. That hurt a little, but we were beyond ready to part with these out-of-date hand-me-downs.

Once they were gone, we brought in the couch and bar we had in our family room:

The ottoman stayed and gets to hang with our new couch that I’ll reveal in a later post… but here she is in progress:

And here’s a sneak peek… and a gratuitous Bulldog shot (love getting those in when I can!)…

Anywho, back to the living room. With re-arranged furniture, the other – most OBVIOUS – thing we desperately needed to do was paint… which we did and I already described in great detail – so I’ll save you that story again.

Looking down on the living room from the stairs… here’s a brief description of what we currently have…

  • Bar – from Crate & Barrel, but we scored for 60% off retail on Craig’s List
  • Bench – saved from our neighbor’s curb on bulk trash day and DIY-reupholstered. (We’ve had it forever and I blogged about years ago – literally.)
  • Couch – already had – it was another hand-me-down. (We reap the benefit of my parents upgrading their furniture every few years!)
  • End table – I hate and will be getting rid of… but we found it at a consignment store.
  • Rocking horse – Jason’s dad made it for him when he was a baby and brought it out for Kenton. I don’t want it to get destroyed, so it sits in the living room.
  • Blue chairs – from West Elm. We scored an incredible deal on those babies the day after Christmas.
  • Coffee table – we’ve had it for a while, but I don’t think I ever blogged about it. It was a floor sample at Pottery Barn, which retailed for $599, but we scored for $159. Nice, huh?!
  • The rug – the circle rug, also from West Elm. We snagged it for cheap on eBay though.

Here are some close-ups….

The giraffe on the bar was a treat my parents brought back from a recent trip to Kenya. The wine corks in the jars are something we’ve been collecting for YEARS. (Or they’re from last weekend??? You decide.)

Why, yes, that is temporary wine storage under the bench! Nice eye.

There’s the dining room. If you’ve been reading the blog for a while, you may remember that table in the kitchen. I wanted a more eclectic dining room set, but we already had this one – so it’s sits there for now.

Nestled on this little wall between the family room and the stairs is our buffet – and an original painting by my mom. It’s of the Tour de France and was  a gift for Jason – who is a cycling enthusiast. The buffet used to sit in the dining room, but doesn’t quite fit with the current table – so now it’s here, which actually works.

The buffet is the Kipling from Crate & Barrel. It retails for $699, but we paid $75 at a charity auction. I KNOW.

So, there she is… a bit more about what’s in our living room…

We still need to do a few things…

  • Popcorn ceilings. UGH.
  • Replace the Eiffel Tower photo with an original painting, which my mom will do.
  • Find something for the entry wall.
  • Area rugs in both rooms
  • Better pillows
  • Window coverings! (That will be next…)

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Gallery Wall

The gallery wall is complete!

Which means the wedding wall is gone…

I did let one photo stay! 🙂

I’ve tried a gallery wall before – in our rental house. It looked really bad. This time, I took my time and really worked on it to make sure it was exactly what I wanted. I followed the Young House Love tutorial on gallery wall-ing, which includes putting trash on your wall…


The wall looked like this for more than a week. It went through several variations (five, I think) before it was just right. Having exact cutouts of the gallery wall frames was incredibly helpful! The hubs loved that I could play with the arrangement without putting multiple holes in the wall.

Once I had the arrangement just right, I arranged the frames on the floor – just to see how they looked and make sure I liked how things were coming together…

I was happy! So, I moved forward with measuring just where each nail would go and nailing through the paper first. Then, hanging each piece and making sure it was perfectly centered on the paper.

Once everything was set, Jason spray painted the non-white frames for me (trying to obey the do’s/don’t’s of pregnancy!).

Jason did a coat of primer and two coats of a high-gloss white paint on each frame. In hindsight, I should have done a matte finish, not gloss – but it’s not a huge deal. Now that the frames were the right color, it was time to pick the right photos or artwork for each one.

That’s not my baby.

Nope. That’s a baby I picked up at a thrift store for $2. Not the baby, obviously, but the frame. I could tell the frame would paint well and the price was right, so I snagged it. I thought the image was an advertisement. Nope! When I took it out of the frame, I saw it was a real photo of someone’s baby…

That’s what was on the back of the photo. How sad is that?! Someone donated their newborn’s photo to a thrift shop. In true ex-reporter fashion, I did a little digging to see if I could find anything on Miss Alexis – but nothing turned up. Guess she’s still too young for Google searches. So, I tossed the photo. Wasn’t that attached to the story. 🙂 It was replaced with one of the state maps I got for free from this site.

Working clockwise from top, left – here is what I included in the gallery frames…

1) Maine map: The state where Jason and I met, fell in love and got engaged. It’s also where he grew up and the only other state he’s lived in.

2) Pray art: I picked this piece up at the Junk in the Trunk sale, from my friend’s company – The Red Dutch Door.

3) Wedding photo!

4) Baby photo! Sweet shot of our sweet boy taken during our 2011 family photo shoot. I think the colors tie in perfectly with the rest of the wall. Here’s a closer look:

5) Fabric: I picked up the frame at the Junk in the Trunk sale and put some fabric in it that will soon be in the master bedroom. It’s also the same print, but different colors as a framed fabric in the new playroom.

6) The one wedding photo that got to stay from the wedding wall.

7) Arizona map: The state where Jason and I were married, started our life together, bought our first home, and had our first bambino! Hopefully, it goes without saying – this is also where we live now.

8) Sweet photo of Kenton’s baby hand grasping Jason’s ring finger – also from the 2011 family photo shoot. There’s a glare on that shot above, so here’s a better look:

9) Awesome shot of our “first baby” – our Bulldog, Bowdoin when he was a puppy.

10) A poem that I spotted on Pinterest and recreated myself – but it’s a work in progress and I’ll be tweaking it. Here’s a closer look:

11) An “F” for our last name.

Finally, the budget-breakdown:

$4.92 – prints at Walmart for #’s 4 and 8.

$8.00 – “Pray” framed piece

$6.50 – for the frame holding the fabric

$4.26 – white spray paint (which I will also be using for other projects)

Everything else I either already had or was free!

TOTAL = $23.68

That’s it! That is the story behind our gallery wall. What do you think? Did it turn out okay?

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Well, helloooo there.  Long time, no chat.  It’s been so long, in fact, my Aunt Holly emailed to ask if the blog moved because she hadn’t seen an update in a while.  Nope, we’re still here!  (Hi, Holly!) 🙂  I’ll explain the prolonged absence, I promise… but first… we need say goodbye.

Goodbye to the old, ugly, white, leather couches that occupied our living room:

Goodbye to the guest bedroom furniture… since baby’s need for a space to play now trumps a queen bed for guests:

Ignore the ugly bedspread! We did have a really nice Angela Adams duvet cover on there, but never bothered taking a pic. Oh well!

Goodbye to the brown leather couch in the family room:

Ahh... yes... in with the new already.

(well, not a real goodbye for the brown couch… just a move for that old girl)

Finally, the saddest of all… Goodbye Nikon 18-105 lens:

Sweet girl took an unfortunate plunge onto the tile floor and is getting a trip to Nikon Hospital.  We don’t know how long she’ll be in inpatient therapy.  For now, her cousin, our 50mm fixed lens is the only one we’ve got to snap shots around the Dream and of the wee one.

For those who speak “photog” – you know that’s a challenge to only shoot with a 50mm lens.  However, it will also be excellent practice and will hopefully make me a better photographer (silver lining!).

So… as you can see… we’ve had some MAJOR changes in the Dream lately.  I can’t wait to update you on what we’ve done/are doing with all of those newly empty spaces… good things, my friends, exciting things.

However, it’s not all goodbye.  We’ll also say, “Hello!” to the newest Dream dweller:

Yep!  Baby #2 is on the way!  I am due in mid-October and we are THRILLED.

So is Kenton, he just doesn’t know it yet.

Just like last time, the first trimester of pregnancy was easy-peasy, but left me with little-to-no energy.  Hopefully, that explains my absence as of late.  If my options were sleep or blog – sleep won EVERY. TIME.  As of this week, though, I’m officially entering trimester #2, which is good because I clearly have a lot of work to do!

PS: I’ve finally updated Kenton’s monthly pics.  Check them out here.

PPS: Follow me on Twitter or Instagram (mrsdreamer), where I definitely update more than once every three weeks!

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Last week, I reminded you how awful our master bedroom used to be.  I’m very happy to report it looks much better now.


We finished this room a while ago, but never showed off any pictures.  Probably because it’s never as clean as you see it above.  Except for the day the cleaner’s come… which is when I snapped these pictures…

Complete product list is below… but everything in the room is new.  EVERYthing.  Umm, because it really needed it… did you see the before picture up there?!

Here’s some tight shots of what we have on display on our dressers:


On mine, wedding pics and a magnifying glass from the realtor who sold us our house.  He died a few weeks later.  As he knew he was dying, he instructed his wife to get us that magnifying glass – as a symbol that we should always seek to look deeper into God’s Word.  She gave it to us after he died and, needless to say, it is incredibly special to us.


On Jason’s side, he has an original piece of art by my mom.  She painted that while we were skiing at Whistler/Blackcomb on our second wedding anniversary in 2010.  He also has a framed piece by yours truly.  It’s a bunch of words, phrases, dates, names, etc… that are very personal to us as a couple (which is why it’s blurred!).  That was an easy, cheap and special gift I gave him a couple of years ago.

And another look at the AFTER…

Okay, here’s the list of everything you see…

Furniture – Malay Collection @ Cost Plus World Market (bed, nightstands and two of the short dressers, which they no longer sell)

Duvet Cover and pillow shams – Clover @ West Elm (no longer available – sad face)

Rug – @ West Elm (also no longer available, we got it on clearance)

Throw – @ Ikea (I snagged it for $9.99, but can’t find it on their website)

Paint – Software (dark) and Online (light) @ Sherwin Williams (fantastic colors for a blogger, no?)

Blue vases (one on each dresser) @ HomeGoods

Lamps – Crate & Barrel (looking at them now, I think I need to peruse Pinterest for some new DIY shade options)

Standing mirror/jewelry box @ local furniture consignment store

Iron Leaf Art – @ Kohl’s

The Kiss (above bed) – the one item from his bachelor pad Jason was permitted to bring into our marital home. 🙂

I’m not including prices on this list, because everything is sorely outdated.  We finished this room more than a year ago and I’m just now showing it off!  Hmm…. I wonder what could have kept me pre-occupied?  Oh yeah, must have been that cute nursery and its primary resident. 🙂

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There she is!  Our new Curtis rocker from CB2.

For the first eight months of Kenton’s life, we snuggled with him in the Pottery Barn Dream Rocker we scored on Craig’s List for $300 (retails for about $1200 – with ottoman).

We were never 100% happy with that rocker.  The color was blah and it took up a ton of room in our not-so-big nursery.  So, a few weeks ago, we sold the rocker and matching ottoman on Craig’s List for $400.  That was plenty of cash to order the $299 Curtis rocker and left us with a small profit!

We already had the white leather Crate & Barrel ottoman.  It was being used in our family room, but since we did a new DIY ottoman/coffee table, we no longer needed it downstairs.  (Great story behind that ottoman – it retails for $169, but we scored it for $12 at a charity auction a few years back.  You read that correctly, $12!)

The timing on this smaller rocker couldn’t have been better.  Kenton recently figured out how to pull the curtain through the slats in his crib, which meant the inevitable “pulling the crib out from the wall” just happened – leaving even less space in the room.

The downsides to the rocker – it’s not as cozy as the old one, but the seat seems to be softening with each feeding session.  Also, the arm rests are a little low, so we’ve been using a Boppy pillow to help our arms hold the weight of our 20lb+ little munckhin.

The budget for this particular nursery swap is AWESOME:

Sale of old rocker = (-$400)

New rocker (w/ taxes, S&H) = $340

Ottoman = already had

Pillow = already had

Faux sheepskin rug = already had

TOTAL = (-$60)

That’s right – our wallet has three extra $20’s thanks to this improvement!

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It’s party time, people.  Pinterest partayy time!

So, a bunch of cool blogs that I follow — What the Graham, Mrs. Priss, Stucco Bungalow (among others) — are hosting a Pinterest Partayy today and I thought I’d join in the fun.

Basically, we’re all taking something we’ve “pinned” on Pinterest and instead of just leaving it there on our virtual board of DIY dreams… we’re making these projects reality.

Here’s my Pinspiration:


1 – West Elm

2 – Tulip and Turnip

3 – Kara Paslay Designs

4 – Pepper Design Blog

And here is our finished product:

Disclaimer: For some reason, the photos do the fabric no justice.  It’s not as gold/red as it appears.  It actually has some silver and gray tones to it and blends really well with the color palette in this room.  I tried tweaking the colors in PhotoShop, but it still didn’t come out just right.  

We’ve been discussing making our own coffee table/ottoman for over a year.  Sad, but true.  I looked high and low for a used coffee table we could upholster, but never found one.  So, this entire piece is DIY by the Dreamers – the Mr did the construction and I did the upholstery – we tufted together.  (Sounds sexy, right?  Not really.)

I plan to do a more detailed Dream It Yourself (DIY) tutorial, but for the sake of getting this post up in time for the PARTAYY – here’s the shortened how-to version.

You start by enlisting your husband to build the frame:

We actually used fence post caps for the feet and they turned out perfect – and cheap!

Then, comes the upholstering…

Prequel… I didn’t get a photo, sorry!  We put furniture cushion foam (you know, the green kind) cut to measure – atop the wood frame.

1. Cover everything with batting.  I did two layers on the sides and one on top.  I secured it all with liquid spray adhesive.

2. Sew corners. (Sewing assistant in background is optional.) Sorry, no detail pics of this either.  It was a little frustrating.  In the end, I turned the fabric right-side down on top of the ottoman and pinned the corners.  I wanted it really taught, so I made sure I pinned it very snug.  Then, I sewed one line, about an inch below the corner of the foam down to the corner of the wood.  I cut out the access fabric, angling my cut to leave room for the corner to be covered.  They turned out really nice!  One corner was a little too snug, and I just sewed a new hem about a quarter-inch outside the original one, then ripped out the first one.  It fits perfectly!

3. Cut the bottom of the fabric, leaving enough extra to pull under the wood frame far enough that you won’t see the staples.

4. Staple away!

5. Be careful on the corners.

Here’s what it looked like when we were done with these steps…

(Again, it looks really red-orange here… not true to life, promise!)

So… now it’s time to TUFT.  That’s a term I, admittedly, had never heard of before starting this project.  I knew that tufting – or, adding buttons – would really take this piece up a notch… so… here we go…

Yes, we’re going a bit out of order here.  The tufting process actually begins before the fabric is upholstered.

1. We marked out the frame – penciling in where we knew the buttons would go.

2. Drill holes for the button threads.

3. Make buttons out of extra fabric using a kit sold at most craft stores.

3.5 (not pictured) – using upholstery needles, pull wax thread through the holes underneath, through the foam, batting and fabric.  It seems like it would be easy to loop the button and then draw the needle back through – but, for us, it was IMPOSSIBLE.  We drilled the holes bigger, tried every thing we could think of – but we could not get the needle back down through the hole.  So, unfortunately, we only had one piece of thread to work with. We tied it to the back of the button – then tied the two back-end threads next to each other together.  This is definitely a two person job – so you get the buttons really snug and TUFTED.  The word is making more sense now, isn’t it?  (Still not sexy though!)

4. It may be hard to tell what this is – but it is the underside of the buttons… the threads tied together.

And here, once again, is the finished project:

And some more looks… I am pretty damn proud of myself about those corners!  That’s the part I was most worried about…

So, what do you think?  Give me a comment below and let me know.  Meanwhile, check out the other Pinterest Partayy participants and their projects:

This is my kind of party!

If you did a Pinterest Partayy project, please link to it in your comment.   I can’t wait to see what everyone did.

Psst…. This ain’t my first rodeo.  A while back, I did another Pinterest-inspired project for the nursery – a “You are my Sunshine” wood canvas quote.  You can see that project here.  

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Nursery Dreamdget

This post details what we spent on our baby’s nursery (less than $1,000!).  Click here if you’d like to see more photos of the space.  You can find out how we did those fantastic polka-dots here (for less than $40!) and just click on the links outlined below if you’re interested in another one of our projects.  Feel free to subscribe or add us to your Google Reader for more DIY and budget-friendly ideas!  Learn more about The Dreamers here.  

We’ve talked about our “nursery budget” here and there – but to be 100% honest, we didn’t have a budget. We just tried to cut as many financial corners as we could and DIY as much as possible. Thankfully, many generous people in our lives (we’re looking at you, Grandma and Grandpa! – among many others) hooked us up with much of the big ticket items. We also decided not to redo the flooring, just yet. The beige carpet has no place in our grand plan – but we’re not quite ready to implement said “grand plan” – so it stays for now.

So, how much did the nursery cost, anyway? Good question. Here’s the break down:

  1. $26DIY Valance box
  2. $39.99Chandelier
  3. $45 – Custom-cut blackout shade
  4. $59.98Curtains
  5. $22 “You are my Sunshine” DIY art
  6. $39.96DIY Silver Polka-Dots
  7. $75 – Leather elephant from local consignment store (half-off because we had credit)
  8. GIFTCrib and Mattress
  9. $9 – DIY Crib skirt (for yard of fabric)
  10. $35 – faux sheepskin rug from Tuesday Morning
  11. $19.98Ikea frames for baby portraits of Mr. & Mrs. Dreamer
  12. $45 – Baby Kenton portrait on canvas (via Groupon deal)
  13. $9 – fabric for detail on frames (used extra for other projects)
  14. $5.99Letter K – painted yellow with leftover spray paint from “Sunshine” art
  15. $5 – shelf from Crate & Barrel, bought at auction
  16. GIFT – customized Ping putter
  17. GIFToriginal artwork by Grandma
  18. $63.98DIY Dresser
  19. NADA – Changing pad/cover were gifts, customized box was DIY with leftover material
  20. $2.99 – Diaper/Lotion/Desitin/etc box, painted yellow with leftover spray paint
  21. $39 – SPLURGE! Pottery Barn Bulldog Bank (no longer available)
  22. $19.99Ikea wall basket DIY’d into diaper storage
  23. GIFTBest diaper pail EVER
  24. $21.99Book shelf/storage from Tarjhey
  25. $12Wood basket – spray painted
  26. GIFTpillows by Grandma
  27. GIFTS! GIFTS! GIFTS! – people love to buy baby clothes, FYI. Kenton is a well-dressed bambino.
  28. GIFTS! GIFTS! GIFTS! – people also love to buy baby accessories – and we re-purposed that basket from another gift
  29. $20 – for two storage baskets at HomeGoods. Everything inside them is, you guessed it, gifts!
  30. $9.98 – Two pairs of Ikea curtains instead of closet doors (I should have taken better pictures of the closet!)
  31. NADADIY light
  32. $13 – pillow from Crate & Barrel, discounted using leftover wedding funds (no longer available)
  33. $20 – table from Crate & Barrel, also discounted using same leftover wedding funds (also, sadly, no longer available)
  34. $300Pottery Barn chair & ottoman scored from Craig’s List
TOTAL = $959.83
Woo-Hoo!!! Under $1K! This is, however, a low estimate. We spent money on things I’m sure we’re forgetting and we will probably need to add things as the little man grows. So, what do you think? Does it look like we spent less than $1,000 on this space? Did you think it was less? More? Do tell!

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So, it was my goal to get “after” photos of the nursery posted before the end of my maternity leave and I’m making that deadline with mere hours to spare.  I’ve been working part-time for about a month, but head back full-time this week.  So, here are some shots of the nursery in all of its “after” glory.  My next post will break down exactly what we did and what it cost.  For now, I hope you like the room where Kenton “dreams”…

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