Category Archives: before & after

home makeover – basement staircase progress

This is still a work in progress but I finally took some {grainy} pictures of the basement staircase progress. {Sorry for the quality but I’m still working on my photography skills}.

Anyway, there’s no new concept here. Just a new paint color, Benjamin Moore Silver Dollar, {although it’s hard to tell from the picture}, the same Tangier Wall Pops stripes applied to our Entry Hall staircase risers {which were originally thought for these stairs}, and a lot of black and white frames in different styles and sizes. I also had the rail painted white.

The frames are still empty. I figured if I was going to wait until I decide what to put in each frame, years can pass and the wall would still be naked. I thought once the frames were up it would be easier to know how many pictures, posters and/or art and, their exact sizes, I need.

I didn’t follow any method to hang up these frames, like I did for our Hall gallery wall. I just wish myself luck and began putting up frames, starting from the bottom and working my way up. Risky I know, since I could have ended up with a wall full of holes. Luckily I have a good eye, if I say so myself, and just needed to reposition a couple of frames.

These are small changes but I already see, and FEEL, a huge difference. Going up those stairs looking at that pretty pattern on the risers instead of that ugly, hulk-ish green color, is very pleasing to my eyes. Now I don’t mind going up and down the stairs. All the time.

More projects to come!

the nursery – the breakdown

After revealing our nursery and a couple of features in some of my favorite blogs, Ohdeedoh and MadebyGirl, I got some emails and comments asking questions about the nursery. I’d really love to reply to each of them, but as you can imagine, baby G is keeping me busy. I was planning on posting this breakdown before baby G was born but never finished it. Well, now I finally did. I hope this answer some of your questions. And by the way, thanks so much for all the nice comments guys!

If you’ve followed the nursery saga, you may recall I wanted to create a modern, cozy, colorful, not too baby-ish space. And since we couldn’t decide on a color scheme and theme, we asked for your help. The winner mood board was this:

mood board 1

 I didn’t get all the items and accessories from the board, since some things looked good online but in person where not that great (like the rug, that turned out to be too rough). Also I found other things along the way that fit the space and our budget better.

This is a before photo when the room was the old guest bedroom. As you can see we re-used some pieces of furniture from this room, like the wicker white table (without the glass top), some of the frames above the bed and of course the changing table, that we were using as a dresser.

This is an in-between picture. I thought it’d be good to keep it real and show you how the room looked for months. It drove me crazy!

And finally the after shot.

Here I talked about the floor layout so you can have a better idea of where things are.

We didn’t have to buy any piece of furniture. We had L’s crib, changing table and rocker, all from Pottery Barn Kids. We actually got a brand new crib as a replacement for L’s crib. We were missing some hardware and when we called to ask for it, PBK said they would send us a replacement instead. A whole new crib! For free! That was baby G’s first gift!

We had the full bed from my old apartment. I wanted it to look more like a day bed, so I added lots of pillows. The frames above the bed were the ones in the old guest bedroom. Since they were a gold color I applied some Rub ‘n Buff in silver to coordinate with our color scheme.

The night table was a hands-me-down. I found the cute elephant lamp in Marshalls. The little giraffe plate is from Pier 1 Imports (on sale for $1) and the cubes I borrowed from L’s room. I love the wrought-iron tricycle that we found in my mother-in-law’s basement. It was a thrift store find.

The cute knitted blanket on the rocker belonged to the mister! As you can notice there are lots of giraffes toys. Once my mom and mother-in-law knew about our giraffe theme, they started buying everything giraffe.

By the rocker I decided to create a little reading corner so I added two shelves we already had. The top shelf has Spanish books that were presents from my Peruvian friends and a framed photo that everyone signed at my shower in Lima. The bottom shelf has some English books, some artwork I download for free and a ceramic giraffe.

I spent a lot of time looking for the perfect rug. I wanted something with pattern and texture. Unfortunately not all things are as good as they seem on a computer screen. I’m glad I went to see some of these rugs in person  before buying them. The main problem with all of them: there were too rough. I finally found a simple grey rug in Overstock. It appear to have a little texture and the reviews were good. For $40 bucks I thought I couldn’t go wrong. If I didn’t like it I could place it somewhere else. With the sheepskin rug I got from Ikea, was the perfect combination.

The mirror by the changing table was also a last-minute change. I had a circle mirror, from Ikea too, that I wanted to use, but I couldn’t find the hardware to hang it. On a trip to Homegoods my mom found the rectangular mirror and was instant love. 

I think the most expensive thing in the room is the closet storage system. The mister had to cut some of the shelves to adjust them to our space but it all worked out. I initially wanted the Elfa system from the Container Store, but after seeing their almost $800 estimate I did a little more research and found the Antonious system from Ikea. Very, very similar system and less than a third of the Elfa price. You can’t beat that.

Here, here and here I talked about all the DIY details in the room.

I don’t have an exact breakdown but I know we spent no more than $500 (including the closet system). We didn’t have to buy any furniture, and most of the accessories were gifts and/or budget-friendly finds. I guess this just proves that you don’t need to break the bank to put together an enjoyable space that can grow with your child. A little creativity and lots of patience can work wonders! And because we saved didn’t spend a lot on the room, I got to splurge on my amazing diaper bag! I love, love that bag!

Now for a list of resources:

Paint: Natural Grey (UL260-11) and Yellow Corn (330B-5) by Behr, matte finish
Furniture: Sleigh Fixed Crib, Berkely Changing Table, Dream Rocker and Collectors Shelves by Pottery Barn Kids (already owned)
Hanging pendants: Solvinden –  Ikea $9.99 each
Night table: hands-me-down
Rug: Living Necessities Grey Rug – Overstock $39.99
Sheepskin rug: Rens – Ikea $24.99
Curtains: Matilda – Ikea @29.99
Window Valance: DIY
Crib Skirt: DIY
Fabric for Window Valance and Crib Skirt: Premier Strech Fabric in Yellow Corn(3 yards)  – Etsy $35.00
Giant giraffe: Melissa & Doug – Nu Toy Store $79.99
Mirror: Homegoods $39.99
Lamp: Marshalls $24.99
Wrought-iron tricyle: thrift store find
Pillows: DIY
Fabric for pillows: Etsy, Ikea, JoAnn & – $8.99 /yard approx.
Changing Pad cover: DIY
“Love lives Cozy Here” artwork: Grace Hester Designs – Etsy $25.00
“Love” artwork: MadebyGirl $10.00
“G is for Giraffe” artwork: DIY (printing by Vistaprint $8.99)
Small artwork in gallery wall: DIY and free downloads from here, here and here
Cloth doll: Handmade by Mom
Cloth giraffe: DIY
Mobile: DIY, Giraffe and Elephant Coat hangers to make mobile – JoAnn $20.00
Oversized letter “G”: DIY, Wood letter – JoAnn $5.99, Rub ‘n Buff in Silver – Michaels $5.99
Crib blanket: RH Baby & Child (no longer available)
Closet Storage System: Antonious – Ikea $ 230.00 aprox.
Diaper Bag: Pretty Nylon Eliza Baby Bag by Marc by Marc Jacobs – Bloomingdales $278.00

the story of a hall – part III

If you are not bored by now, I’ll tell you about our last step in this Hall makeover. The main space was almost completed. It just needed some accessories, maybe a lamp, a picture frame and some flowers. 

My main worry was that naked east wall. It needed something.  I considered a big world map. I saw one in Ikea but it was not big enough. I looked in some other places but the colors were not right. Agh! I was getting frustrated. What to put in that wall? 

One day I came across a post in Young House Love, about one of their readers bedroom makeover who used these tiles from Inhabitat Living to make a custom headboard.  So I thought this could be another temporary solution until I figure out what to do. I chose the Chrysalis patter since it kind of related to the decal design on the staircase. 

So there you have it. That’s how our Hall came together. No need to buy any new furniture. I just moved around pieces we already owned and like. It may be a random mixture to some: modern white and black frames, shabby chic mirror, rustic console table, daring wall color. But it works for us. I think it has caracther and it’s very personal.

While writing this post I read this in Isabella & Max Rooms (another great blog I like): 

“A big trend in interior design is to leave behind the notion that one must define exactly what their style is…traditional, cottage or contemporary for example, and then closely follow the guidelines of this definition throughout the home with few variances. Instead, another approach to decorating is to begin with favorite pieces already owned and then complete the space by bringing in only items that are equally appreciated. This may require building a room over time, and an extreme style mix may be the result, but this is a look that is both unique and personal.” 

And I think that’s what we got! What do you think?

the story of a hall – part II

With the walls painted, the staircase spruced up, the next step was furnishing and decorating.

I knew I wanted a console table, maybe an accent chair and a gallery wall. I was looking for something long, narrow, modern, and affordable console table. Anything I liked was either way too expensive or too small or too big for the space. This table was taking too long to find. Meanwhile I was getting tired of looking at an empty Hall.

We had this gorgeous piece that my mother-in-law got from a relative and gave to the mister. It was a very small, very rustic-looking console. It was said to be a piece a native american handcarved for his daughter as a wedding gift.  The mister had it in the Living Room when I moved in. I decided to move it to the Hall. It was small for the scale of the wall but it was a temporary solution while I kept looking for a console table and an accent chair.

I was also planning a gallery wall in the west wall next to the staircase. It’s a big wall so I thought a gallery of photos and some artwork would look nice. I sketched up some layouts in Autocad. But I was a little lost. There were so many configurations, so many options. Which one to choose? Then one night while commenting to the mister my advances in decorating this space, the mister suggested having a coat rack somewhere in the Hall. So it occurred to me that we should have a series of coat hooks on that wall. He didn’t like the idea and later we found out he was right. The first thing you see when you get into our house is not the Hall itself but the staircase and that wall. So having a wall full of coats, scarves, hats as soon as you get in was not the most appealing. I then decided to put up some floating shelves with a big piece of art. I had the mister nailed the wall to then make him removed and patched everything after. Yes, I’m that indecisive. I didn’t know what to do with that wall.

So my little rustic console table was not alone, I decided to move a big mirror we had in the Guest Bedroom and placed it on top. That was all I needed to realize the gallery wall should be in that wall! Having the mirror as the center piece and organizing everything around it made it so much easier! Again I sketched a layout in Autocad and tried it on the wall. The most popular way to do this is cutting pieces of newspaper in all the frames sizes and place them on the wall. I made a couple of adjustments and listo. My gallery wall was up!

And because sometimes things just happen that way, some days after finishing the gallery wall, my mother-in-law gave us a couple of black leather ottomans she no longer needed. They were first placed in the Video Game Room, but since it was getting too crowed in there I moved them to the sides of the little console table in the Hall. I had two long black and white pillows and voila! Our hall was completed. Well, kind of.

We still had that empty wall.

the story of a hall – part I

The story of how our Hall came together is a little long. So I’ll probably do it in parts. No, I can’t do “the long story short” thing. There are too many details I want to mention to show how sometimes time is your best ally when it comes to decorating. I know it could be frustrating. I’m a very impatient person myself and want to see results right away. But sometimes things take their own timeframe.

The Hall is one of the first rooms we repainted in the house. When I moved in with the mister (did I mention the house where the mister grew up is our house now? I didn’t? That’ll be another post then) the Hall was painted this Nantucket Grey color from Benjamin Moore,  which in other room or situation I’d have found elegant and rich. But not in this Hall. Add to that the austere furnishings and decor, and the lack of natural lighting, and the room was, well, sad. I didn’t like going up and down that hall everyday. Walking by its bare, cold walls just put me in a bad mood. It was dark and sad.

At that time we were having our closet done, so the mister thought it would be a good idea to have the same guys paint the Hall. We’d have done it ourselves, but the Hall included the stairhall and the double height which would have been a headache. (we are not that good at painting).

We had someone to paint. Now we just needed to choose a color. The mister suggested purple. I like the idea. Purple is one of my favorite colors anyway. We just needed the right purple. Easy, right? Well, the mister couldn’t pick a more proper time to ask me to choose: a chaotic morning while we are rushing to get L to the bus stop and getting ready for work. He said it was now or never, because the guys were done with the closet. So I grabbed the Benjamin Moore paint chip wheel and chose a random purple. Croqus. I guess I just liked the name. No time for paint samples. Croqus would be.

That day I was up for a big surprise when I got home. Croqus was, how can I say it, overwhelming. It was definitely not the purple I imagined. Needles to say, the mister didn’t like it, and to be honest I didn’t either. But at that point, anything was better than the sad Nantucket Grey.

With the days Croqus grew on us. The more we walked by the Hall, the more we started to appreciate it. It was overwhelming, but cheerful. It was a happy color.

Next step was thinking about furnishings and decor. I probably spent way too many hours on the internet thinking about the perfect console table.  We even visited a couple of places and were very closed to buy a very nice piece, but the price made us reconsider. I’m glad we did.

At the same time, I was thinking about our staircase. I remember a post I saw on Apartment Therapy a while ago. A very ingenious idea that I archived in my “future projects”. I first thought applying the idea to our stairs to the basement. But the main staircase needed something, too. What was the project? A vinyl decal applied to the risers of the stairs. Very clever, right? I remember the minute I read the post I went to the Wall Pops website to see what other designs they carry. They don’t have a big variety to choose from, but I found one that could work.

And it really worked! It gave the otherwise boring staircase a little sophistication. In my plans was also painting the balusters white. I like the look of oak railing and threads with white balusters, and I think that would balance a little more the white in the risers. But that’s a project we are not ready to tackle anytime soon. That went straight to our never-ending project list.

At least the Hall was seeing the light.

the new guest bedroom

Some time ago I mentioned my intentions to complete several projects before my family’s arrival. As time passed by I realized I was not going to be even a little close to get all those things done. So I focused my energy and time in the nursery (old guest bedroom) and the new guest bedroom (old playroom turned storage).

With the nursery almost done, I was able to put together the new guest bedroom in just a couple of days. I forgot to take pictures before my mom took over the room. So I just have this one for now. Hopefully I’ll get to take more photos later.

It was a very, very quick makeover. And even though the intention was to make this room a Guest Bedroom/Playroom, there was no time to design it properly. We decided to make it my Mom’s room during her stay with us. Maybe later we’ll changed a few things.

My inspiration and details for this room to come soon. (although you can read here I was/am obsessed with the color turquoise so it had to have it somewhere).

my powder room in better after

If you haven’t heard of Better After yet, I say you should go there right now. It’s a very popular blog that showcases before and after pictures of different design projects: room makeovers, furniture revamps, thrift store finds transformations. I find it really inspiring and motivating and it just shows how many creative and crafty people are out there. Well, some days ago I sent Linda, the author of the blog, some pictures of my powder room makeover. And this morning she featured me in her blog! I was busy all day and I just woke up from a nice nap so I just found out! I know, I know it’s late but blame my hormones (I guess it’s true when they said tiredness will come back in the third trimester).

You can see her post here. Hope you had a good start of the week. As for me, I’m going right back  to bed now! See you tomorrow.

the powder room

The Powder Room makeover was not planned. I knew I wanted to change the look of it but didn’t put too much thought about what direction to go. One day I just decided to paint it a different color. We had some leftover paint from the Master Bedroom, enough to cover the tiny room. I then purchased a couple of shelves and start thinking about accessorizing. I had some things around the house that I put to good use: a couple of glass vases, some candles and towels I got on sale from Pottery Barn and some toiletries we “got” from The Ritz.  It looked nice but still something was missing. I remembered the stripped wall in our boy’s room and how fun it looks. So I proceeded to paint some white stripes, with some more leftover paint. The result? In my opinion a new, more sophisticated space. The tiny room feels airy and fresh and believe it or not, bigger!  I bought some more guest towels and framed some pictures from our trips to Paris and Lima to complete the look. There are still things I want to change, like painting the mirror (or replace it) and upgrading the light fixture. But that will be a future project. For now I’m happy with the way it turned out.