No I Don’t Want a White Kitchen, but I’ll Take the Farmhouse Sink.

I’ve realized that I rarely use my blog as an outlet for my opinion. That’s because over the years I’ve desired to be a peacemaker, be able to see all sides of something, and even if my opinion differs I don’t tend to make it known as the only opinion. But seriously people, we’ve got a problem on our hands in this country.  I am not talking about the dangerous politics zone, but rather the more poisonous disease of being like everyone else.  I remember the first time I tried to be like everyone else was in elementary school. I went to a private school because the public schools in our area were terrible. My family was not one of great means, and when the most popular girl befriended me the trade-off was that she and everyone else in that school expected you to wear Espirit and Benetton and every other trendy brand of the era.  We crimped our hair and wore side ponytails. But what I really learned in error was that to be liked I had to be like everyone else.  This went against the very essence of my personality because I liked to be unique. Those years I look back on with disgust and breathe a huge sigh of relief that I was released from that when my family moved and I went to a much less catty public school. There was serious damage done and so one of my greatest hopes for my children is that they learn it is okay to be themselves at an early age. It’s already started for my son who is only 6 and came home from school begging me for “tie shoes.” This went on for weeks until I cured him of it by telling him in order to get tie shoes he first needed to put his Velcro sneakers on properly without help, instead of the usual lazy way of shoving your foot in without undoing the Velcro. End discussion about needing tie shoes for sure! Never mind the fact that they don’t make tie shoes in his size in very many brands.

Fast forward to what I consider a pivotal year in my life, where I am about to turn 40 and most of the time don’t really care what other people think anymore.  There is this idea now that bothers me. Where for example all the cool moms have to run out and buy white kitchens with farmhouse sinks and actually your whole house has to white. Dare you like color, you can throw a few accents into the white on white, but not too much.  Scroll through home design on Instagram and all you see is farmhouse style this and that, when less than 1% of these people actually live in a farmhouse.  And seriously, have you ever had an all white anything? Remember that white shirt you loved until you spilled something on it the first time you wore it?  Well your house is only all white for 5 minutes if you really live in it, too.  Our first apartment after we were married had an all white bathroom which no amount of scrubbing the grout with a toothbrush and Kaboom could ever keep white.  And one piece of hair on the floor and your tile looked awful.  It was a lost cause and the very reason that when we redid our bathroom in our own home, I chose a biscuit toilet and sink so that they would hide dirt.  Best decision for sure.

Throw caution to the wind and decorate with what speaks to you, not “everyone” else on Instagram. And then there is my beloved Joanna, whom I feel like I could sit down and have a cup of coffee with and carry on an easy conversation as if we were besties in real life.  I love her presence, her ability to be noble, and most of all her desire to use her business to help others.  But truth be told, I don’t need to be Joanna, and you don’t need to either. Be yourself. Don’t go buy whatever she just put into the latest Fixer Upper just because she put it in there. If you like it, yes go buy it, by all means. I admit I want to make my own pilgrimage to Texas. But don’t fall into the trap of desperately trying to have a home like everyone else’s….or what you think everyone else’s home looks like. 

Instead, my advice on home decorating, and life itself, is to find what reflects and speaks to you.  Don’t care if your best friend hates it or thinks it’s tacky.  It’s your life, your house, your chance to reflect who you are to the world.  We were all created differently, that’s what makes us beautiful, and yet so many times we fall into the pattern of trying to be like everyone else.  And dare I go on. This mentality IS seeping into politics where whatever your opinion is, now some feel the right to tell everyone else they must have the same opinion about everything, right or wrong. 

Don’t go buy a reproduction dough bowl. If you’re going for that vintage look, go buy the real deal.  My love of all many things old is probably genetic. And for me it’s about having a piece of my family’s past that makes me love old things. The stories behind them make a normal every day object have meaning and value.  When I get out my grandmother’s strawberry tablecloth, I’m immediately back sitting at her table as a child.  Most people are knocking down all of their walls for an open concept, and me I am standing my ground on practicality and keeping my dining room wall. Why? One because I like having an actual dining room, and two because practically speaking in my small house I would lose a lot of space if we knocked it down. Our plan instead is to go back in time and add a built-in that looks original and gives us much more storage for a room that is actually my office, our dining room, and often a play area as well. For the love of everything, just be yourself. Simple words, but not so simple to live by.  I don’t want our world to be full of cloned me.  I want our world to be a beautiful compilation of everyone being themselves. Yes, that means sometimes we might disagree. Sometimes I will really not like what a friend says. Sometimes people won’t get me. But I have one life given to be by God. One chance to find my purpose and fulfill it, and by golly I will never do this by painting my whole house white, sticking a Magnolia wreath on the front door, and agreeing with everything you say. You are the only person that can be You, now go do it!

Crown Me Traveler Tip : Permanent Packing List

I’d like to take my blog in a specific direction for at least the foreseeable future in hopes that I write more often, share my random life hacks, and be more concise. Thus, I present you with Crown Me Tips.  … Continue reading

Perfect Bargain Throw Pillows and The Couch I Almost Hated

Our first couch was a hand-me-down, actually a loveseat left over from my husband’s dorm room.  If that isn’t bad enough, it had half a table top under the cushions holding it up just enough that you wouldn’t end up … Continue reading

Spring Mantlescape

A friend of mine calls my seasonal mantle decorations Mantlescapes. I don’t know if this is a decorating term or one she made up, but I thought I would take a break from my heavier adoption process topics and share my decorating on a dime trick for the mantle. I get bored with the same look over and over so I when I came upon a piece of fencing in the trash near my office my brain started churning with ideas. I had my husband trim it down so I could fit it on top of the mantle. Then I secured it to the wall with heavy gauge wire wrapped around a screw that is securely fastened into the masonry. It isn’t budging, so my little guy can safely run by.

Here is my current Mantlescape:

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I reused my gardening theme from previous years. The pots are items I already owned mixed with thrift store finds not individually costing more than 97 cents. I owned all of the garden tools as well. I strategically left the dirt on the tools for extra effect. Then I tucked in a little moss that I had left over from a craft and voila….my gardening Mantlescape.

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My style is really to have something that no one else has, but that also expresses my interests or a piece of our family. We like to garden. I find it therapeutic to get out there and dig and get covered in dirt, much like I did playing as a child. Only this time the result is something more beautiful than making mud pies. At the end of the day I like to walk around our yard and see our flowers thriving (well most of the time) and know that we managed to make something grow and thrive. It is a sense of accomplishment.

I thought you also might like to see my winter Mantlescape for this past year. It is again was a mix of things I already owned. Giving ordinary items a new purpose is fun and thrifty!

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That was the Christmas version.

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I replaced the Christmas objects with the repurposed frames I received as a gift from my father-in-law. This one is made from an old fence post. The mercury glass candleholder is another gift my sister brought back from Ireland for me. I printed out the Love saying to make it a Valentine’s theme. Forgive me because I can’t remember where I printed the free print from.

 

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DIY Big Boy Cars Room on a little budget: Part 3 – repainting and repurposing furniture

Our little boy’s room really started to come together when the car decals were placed on the road we painted. If you missed the DIY Part 1 and 2 feel free to go back for instructions on general painting tips and how to paint a road on the wall.  The main goal of this DIY project was to create the perfect room for our growing son while spending as little money as possible.  Because we are actively waiting to be matched with our next child’s birth mom and because we generally live frugally we didn’t want to break the bank on this one. The need to redo this room came by surprise. It was out of the need to move our son to a twin bed while still keeping the nursery in tact for our future baby. That being said, I am a perfectionist when it comes to decorating. I want our house to express my family and this room had to be just right for my little guy.  He loves his road and cars decals so much that he told me, “Mom, you need some cars on your wall.”  From a toddler’s perspective I am sure my bedroom would look much more fun with cars, but I’ll pass. There are usually cars on my floor so he does do some decorating of his own, right? 
Let’s get down to the furniture.  We started with a twin bed frame that was my husband’s as a child. (Even cooler is that the mattress is from my room before I moved out – a perfect contribution from both parents)  It was an okay stained color but the finish was cracking and peeling.

We rescued this classic children’s dresser from the trash of a house that had a fire.dresser before It smelled terrible and was covered in black soot, but I could see it’s potential.  We use TSP (Tri-Sodium Phoshate) cleaner to wash the dresser inside and out before sanding it and rewashing.* Note to any DIYer living in an old home or working with old furniture: You definitely want to use TSP to wash down your rooms, windowsills, furniture etc. during any project or just because. This helps (and don’t hold me to this because I am just an amateur) minimize lead dust that may have been created in your home or from sanding, moving etc. I use this in every room in my house.

Even though we were repurposing the furniture in this room, I wanted the room to be pulled congruently together.  So we chose a bright yet not too bright, bold blue from Lowes called Handsome Hue. We didn’t want the furniture to shine too much so we went with the suggestion of the satin finish from the paint guy.  It’s durable, washable (we’ve already had to wash it, yes) and it adhered nicely to the wood.  I wanted the wood to look worn and rugged so I only did one coat of paint. There are spots where you can see the wood color come through and cool brush strokes. If you don’t like this, paint another coat and it will disappear. If you are new to painting furniture, it is really important that you sand your furniture, wash it, let it dry, and then paint it. 

Here is the finished dresser.dresser finished  More on the super cute race car drawer pulls and thrifty accessories in my next post.
Additionally, we repainted a bookcase also originally from the curb that was in the nursery. It was a different blue and used up some red paint we had to make it pop. Our little guy just loves his room. Here he is moving in, which for him meant dragging all of his stuffed animals from one room to the other.
moving the animals inmoving in

 

Keep on trucking,

Crownmemama

 

DIY Big Boy Cars Room on a Little Budget: Part 2

Now that base painting is finished it is time for the fun to begin.  I should mention that the practical side of me won out, and we also added two more coats of polyurethane to the hardwood floors.  That is a project for another post for sure! So what we have here is a nice, clean blank shell of a room.  I love the crisp white baseboards next to the grey walls.  My sister came up with the idea to paint tire tracks on the walls. Which, in theory, we all got excited about.  My sister (#4 out of the 5 of us!), her husband, my husband, and my little guy attempted to paint these tire marks.  Learn from our mistakes and you may be able to pull this off or you, like us, in the end might decide to go a different route. The problem we encountered is that wheels typically are raised in the center of the tread so that only one side of the tread would show at a time.  We used a lawnmower tire. Painted it with black flat paint, put a screwdriver in the center for easier rolling and my sister took a chance.  She had to listen to all of us giving our opinion and my little guy trying to help.  Despite the wheel rolling back and forth on the wall, we all thought is was generally looking good. However, after a few days of looking at it and thinking how I would pull the room together it just wasn’t working.tire marks If you didn’t know they were tire marks you would probably ask me what they were.

So, we began the daunting process of paiting over them.  It required 2 coats of primer and 2 coats of paint.  If you look closely, you can still see them on the wall. So, I recommend the custom roads over the tire mark look for sure. 

Here is how the road came to be:

1) We placed good quality painter’s tape in one line on the wall. I know I said I don’t use tape, but this is the exception to that rule.  We used Frog Tape as we had read good reviews online.  We did not use a level because we wanted the road to move, but you could use one if you like a little more order. The line started out straight and then I took it up and down hills, around the corner and over a wheel (more on the wheel coming up in Part 3 of this post).  The road spans over 2 walls.

1) We continued by measuring a 4 inch parallel line on the wall. We placed the tape over this line to make the other edge of our road.road taped 

2) We cut pieces of the tape off in no particular size – just based on what we thought would look good for the dotted line in the middle. We then placed these pieces on the wall between the two taped parallel lines to make the dotted line in the middle of the road.  We could have painted in the line later, but decided this would be much easier than going back and doing that. Turns out I really love the differing not quite perfect rectangles that form the dotted lines.  They are so fun! 

* What we didn’t make sure we did was to go back over all of the dotted lines tape and thoroughly smooth all edges down tightly.  What happened as a result is shown in the below photo.big boy room finishing touches 009 

If we had done the careful smoothing they all would have turned out like this, which is what you want to happen:big boy room finishing touches 012

3) Just 45 minutes before due to leave the house for a BBQ, using the black flat paint leftover from the tire mark project gone wrong, we brushed the paint between the taped parallel lines and over the dotted line tape pieces. 

4) We brushed on a second coat after we came home from the BBQ and put the little sleeping guy in our bed while we did that. (Don’t worry we put his rail up and pillows on the other side just in case.)

 

5) Luckily,  I reread the instructions on the tape package and realized we should remove the tape immediately after painting. So, we ripped that off and revealed the road before we even went to bed. I am so glad we didn’t have to wait until the morning. I also want to make note that paint these days is low fume (don’t know the fancy term for that) so it was okay to put our son back his bed in that room to sleep as he has a ceiling fan and the window and door open giving lots of fresh air to the space.

When the little guy woke up he was so excited to see his road on the wall.  He kept exclaiming, “There’s a road on my wall!”  It was so precious.  Except that he also immediately added, “Mama, I need cars on my road.” I explained to him that yes, there will eventually be cars on the road, but that the paint had to finish drying first.

6) I believe the painter’s tape said to wait 3 weeks or something crazy like that before adhering anything to the wall.  I figured after probably 10 days I was sick of waiting. Chances are if I am removing the cars from the road in the future, I will be planning on painting over the road as well. 

7) Car selection – I mentioned in Part 1 of this post that I don’t usually go for premade themes.  I wanted to go with a tad bit vintage car look and happened upon some great decals at A.C. Moore.  I used a 60% off coupon which made them $5.80.  There are so many in the package that I didn’t use them all.  They included everything from a double decker bus, scooters, a taxi to a tow truck.  There are also little numbered race cars that actually go really well with the drawer pulls for the dresser. 

I went back and forth about whether or not to use decals or to freehand some cars on the wall. I knew that while I am creative, I do not have a natural ability to paint and would probably have to call a sister or two for that. (Like we did in the little guy’s nursery – another post perhaps someday).  However, when I saw these cars in the store, I thought they were worth a try. big boy room finishing touches 005I was worried that they would look like a decal.  Do they? Yes and no.  They have a clear background which certainly helps. So, when I smoothed them onto the wall they almost look like they belong there. I would recommend that you stay away from decal with a white background as they will be more noticeable.  I am truly pleased with how this turned out. And of course I know another little guy who is even more pleased than we are!big boy room finishing touches 002

 

One final warning – when your little guy decides he is not going to nap he may have a tendency to peel the decals off the road in the places he can reach. He will cry when you say in your most-patient-but-I-really-want-to-scream-and-cry-voice that was it was not nice to do that and that we shouldn’t pull the cars off the road. Then he will likely do it again the next time he doesn’t want to sleep. It’s all good. I am just still so happy to be the Mama to this little guy to make a road for!  

You may want to subscribe so you won’t miss Part 3.

Happy Road Building,

Crown Me Mama

DIY Big Boy cars room on a little budget: Part One

coming into June 042

coming into June 043big boy room 008 Picture a shabby chic girly guest room with mismatched florals. Add into the mix worn off-white walls with residue from a torn down Winnie The Pooh border leftover from the previous owners. This certainly would not work for my growing little boy or me for that matter. In preparation for moving our son to a twin sized bed we needed to convert our guest room into a big boy room. What else on earth would a little boy want but cars! So, cars it is. I am not one to go with a premade prepackaged overpriced theme. While we like the movie Cars we aren’t interested in using those cars for the room. Over the next few posts I will attempt to show you step by step how you can transform a room. It doesn’t have to be a car themed room, but my hope is that if you are new to the DIYing that you will feel confident that this can be replicated to reflect your style and theme. Let’s start with painting. I wanted to pick a color that was both neutral yet interesting. Turns out everyone in the paint line had the same idea as me and we all were mixing greys. This grey is Pewter Cup by Behr. It is a paint and primer in one in a Satin finish. We were told this was a good option for a kid’s room because it is durable and washable. Spackle your holes knicks with a small tub of joint compound or spackle from your local hardware store using a putty knife. Allow to completely dry before attempting to sand smooth. I like to look at the room in different lighting because I often find spots I didn’t see at another time. Most people know how to paint so I won’t go into too much further detail here because to me painting is something I just want to hurry up and finish so I can enjoy the results. So, the long and short of it is that the walls are a light grey and the woodwork is white. We don’t use painters tape but prefer a good brush to do the cutting in and edging. One thing I would like to suggest is that you paint your ceiling (and do it first). You may look at your ceiling and think it doesn’t need to be painted. However, once you paint your walls your ceiling may take on a more dingy hue. So, paint it and you’ll thank yourself later even if it is frustrating task! In my next post I am going to focus on the custom painted roads we added to the walls. Expect everything to take longer than you expected as it always does. Case in point, we are still putting a few finishing touches on this room while trying to start our bedroom makeover. We’ve lived in our home 10 years and this was the only room in the house we hadn’t painted. Unfortunately, now that that is painted, we have to start back at the beginning. Oh the joys of home ownership! Actually, I have to admit I am ready for some change.

While they say that paint is one of the cheapest ways to make a difference in your home, it really isn’t that cheap once you buy ceiling paint, wall paint, trim paint, accent paint etc. So, here is my advice:
Paint Purchasing pointers to save money:
* If you are close to an approaching holiday weekend and can wait you can often find that Home Depot and Lowes offer rebates on paint for these holiday weekends, especially in the summer.
*There is nothing wrong with purchasing paint at Home Depot. In fact, a few years ago Consumer Reports Magazine rated Behr paint over some of the big name brand specialty paint stores.
* You can take your paint back and get it retinted if you hate it. For example, your butter yellow turned out more like sunflower. Take it back, explain the problem, and chances are a shot of this or that will give you the color you want.
*Check out the oops paints sections at Home Depot and Lowes. These are paints that were returned or mistinted and never left the store. They used to go for $5 a gallon, but are a little more than that now. I have painted many rooms in our house with oops paints. I even got two gallons of yes, a butter yellow that I wanted for our living room. These paints are usually shelved near the mixing paint area or near the contractor’s exit of the store. Check regularly and you might hit the jackpot.
*If you aren’t sure how much paint you will need. Start with less, you can always go back and buy more. They try and tell you that the color might differ if mixed at a different time, but I think that it could differ even if you did it at the same time. It is done with a computer so there should be technically less room for error.
*If you like a color at one store you can take that sample to another. Almost all stores do color matching so they can scan the swatch, your favorite sweater, or whatever and voila you have custom paint.
*If you take care in cleaning your brushes and supplies you shouldn’t have to purchase new ones each time you paint a room. That being said, sometimes I have been known to just throw a roller out without attempting to clean it. I think the water used to clean it might cost as much as buying a new one.