ORC: Dining Room – Gallery Wall (Week 3, Spring 2015)

Dining room gallery wall.  Boom.

dining room gallery wall bright

Hello color.

Art really isn’t my thing – I have a hard time with committing to it, with spending time searching for it, and with spending the money on it too.  So I went all one-note on this wall and got everything from Minted (nothing sponsored, just easy).  I liked how I could see what worked together before I ordered a single thing.  And I am totally cool with not spending a fortune or trudging through thrift stores for a great find.  I mixed a few different frames and laid out everything on the floor before committing.

laying out gallery wall

I measured before putting holes in my freshly painted wall.  But somehow I screwed it up and the first two pictures did not end up where I intended (glad I don’t have the same problem when I am measuring lumber cuts).  Luckily, the wall turned out okay.  Guess I could have skipped all that pre-planning – ha!

gallery wall turquoise coral yellow

The buffet got topped off with a pair of lamps from West Elm and a few other items.  Hopefully the end result isn’t too busy?


turquoise coral lamps gallery wall

I’m really not a “more is more” person when it comes to decorating so, this much action is outside my comfort zone for sure.  But because we have so few walls in our main floor for art (lots of openings/doorways/windows) I really wanted to max out the interest and color for this wall.  It is so fun to have a wall to play with, now that the wall isn’t taken up by our old buffet/hutch!

gallery wall buffet

gallery wall buffet credenza

And I like how the color balances out the super simple DIY buffet below.

Gah, I can’t believe the One Room Challenge is halfway done already!  Should I be mildly terrified that I haven’t finalized my pick for dining chairs yet?

Hope you are checking out all the great rooms in the One Room Challenge here!

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DIY: Easy White Leather and Brass Cabinet Pulls

Today I’m sharing the details on the easiest DIY:  white leather and brass cabinet pulls (that I used on our new buffet).  The leather is real but the brass if faux.  I’m cool with it.

From the start, I thought leather cabinet pulls would be perfect.  I checked out a bunch of natural-toned leather options but kept gravitating toward white.  With a little brass thrown in, of course.

white buffet white walls

DIY brass and leather cabinet handles

I made the handles from an old Banana Republic white belt I picked up from a local thrift store.  I checked out several options for white leather, including leather belts, but this one with its black trimmed edges was perfect for a mere three bucks.  After cutting the belt into strips, I grabbed some carriage bolts from the hardware store along with washers and nuts.  I wanted something more than the galvanized look, so tested out a few options for turning them into faux brass hardware.  The winner was this gold paint pen, which was easy to apply and left a really smooth finish.

DIY brass hardware paint pen

I just painted the tops and a little bit down the sides of the bolts.  And using the nuts as paint stands worked so well.

DIY brass carriage bolts

DIY brass bolts

To attach the handles, I pre-drilled both the handles and doors, and then just screwed those suckers in.  I find it amusing to see the belt writing on the inside of the handles.

black white leather brass handles DIY

I think these would be easy to replicate with either a piece of white leather or an old belt, and to paint or Sharpie the edges if you like the black-trimmed look.  And you could easily customize the hardware with different-shaped bolts or different paint finishes.  Really, this was so easy and I like that it adds a more unexpected element than a standard cabinet pull.

DIY white leather cabinet pulls

diy white wood buffet

So glad to have our new handles, and to have our new buffet all filled up with china, placements, tablecloths, and more.  Isn’t stylish function just the best?

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ORC: Dining Room – DIY Modern Buffet (Week 2, Spring 2015)

Things are happening in the dining room!  And by “things” I mean a super easy DIY modern buffet, which I assembled from kitchen cabinets, natural wood, and tapered legs, plus some leather and brass handles.

DIY modern buffet

And how fun is the new buffet with these  spring blossoms?  If only I could get branches like this year round…

cherry blossoms pitcher buffet

For this space, I wanted something much narrower than our old buffet but deep enough to fit our china, so I stole the ever-popular kitchen-cabinets-into-furniture idea.  I went for the easiest and most economical route and picked up a couple of 36″ wide cabinets from Ikea.  I ended up trimming the boards with my table saw and then assembled them and joined the two together with a handful of screws.  I considered a fauxdenza (like this one) but I’m not that hip – I need legs.  So I grabbed a few tapered legs from Home Depot and installed them on the ends.  I ended up losing the middle legs but because this thing is six feet long, I used a few cabinet screws inside the cabinets to secure it to the wall.

DIY buffet with tapered legs

Then for the top, I grabbed an extra piece of plywood we had on hand, trimmed it with maple edge banding, and then lightly stained and sealed it.  This is the lightest colored  wood product we have in our house, but I am jazzed that it jives with my new “light and bright” motto.

natural plywood buffet top

Then I added these DIY leather and brass handles – so easy!  I’ll do a short post on that next.  But I’ll tell you that the black edges on the handles are making me want to keep the black dining room table…

DIY brass and leather cabinet handles

So far we’ve been really happy with how the buffet turned out.  I think the legs are about 50% function and 50% looks.  But I like ‘em.

white buffet white walls

Okay, next up is getting some art and more.  These branches can’t stay here forever.

cherry blossoms on a modern buffet

Already this space is feeling much happier.  :)

Who else is loving all the others’ progress in Week 2 of the One Room Challenge?? Check it out here!

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One Room Challenge: Dining Room! (Week 1, Spring 2015)

I’m back on the One Room Challenge bandwagon!  I had so much fun last time around and, really, I need the motivation to complete a space.  This time I’ve picked my dining room.  Last year we tore out the wall that separated the kitchen and the dining room, which started a whole-house transformation (which still isn’t done – whoops).  Our dining room never has really had its moment of glory, so now’s the time.

On my last challenge I did a mood board for my kiddo’s room, but this time I’m just winging it.  We are starting with a nice blank slate, with painted white walls and newly laid hardwood floors.

dining room floors

Here is a glimpse of the dining room from not long after we moved in:

fabric covered canvas art

After we moved in the old carpet came out, walls were painted, furniture was added, but that’s about it.  I distinctly recall the rationale behind that paint color (if Restoration Hardware has a “taupe” then it must be the best.taupe.ever!) but I felt like I was always trying to convince myself to be happy with it.  And the furniture – oh, the furniture.  Our dining room furniture is the first “grown-up” furniture we ever bought. We were those 20-somethings who were in a real hurry to BE grownups, and how can you possibly be a grownup without a matching set of dark, formal dining furniture from Pottery Barn? So when we bought our first house with an oversized dining room, we were quick to fill it with a huge black table, eight matching black chairs, and a matching large black buffet and hutch.  And for extra fun, here it is in our old house, in all that red-walled-dining-room glory.

old red dining room

I really loved that furniture when we bought it.   When we moved, finding a new house with a dining room to fit our furniture was definitely on our list.  The big table was just so great for hosting dinner parties, book club, holidays, etc.  And I needed a really big buffet and hutch to hold our ever-growing collection of barware #champagneloversunite.

Over time, we did a few updates, like adding marbled paper in the hutch.

fancy new hutch

And recovering the chairs.

recover dining chair 7

But seeing all the dark contrasting with our new white kitchen really wasn’t working.  The kitchen remodel has really kick-started a change in our whole house vibe, for the better – bright everything!  Not to mention that now that I am a grownup, I am so over being grownup.  I like to think that having kids is making me more fun. So we’ve started to let go of our grownup furniture, or at least some of it, in favor of a more casual look. So far, we’ve sold both our buffet/hutch and our chairs on Craigslist.

For now, we’ve hung onto our table but keep changing our minds about whether to keep it. Pros for keeping it are that it is so functional, we really like it, it is a nice nod to tradition (which makes my husband happy), and it fits the space really well. Cons are that we might want a table with a more casual finish, we have had this table forever(!) and we’ve seen a few new tables that are really tempting us.

In updating the dining room, the goals are for it to be more fun, less formal, still functional, and to blend many of our home’s existing traditional elements with some more modern or at least updated features. That means we’re updating our light fixture, building a smaller-scale buffet, adding art, and someday figuring out the dining table/chair situation.  I’ve semi-started on a few things, but I need this One Room Challenge to get ‘er done.  In the past couple of weeks we’ve been working on the changes and so far we’re digging it.  All the changes just make it seem “happy” – and who doesn’t want to live in a happy house?  See – our happy kids are totally rubbing off on us.

So, follow along to see how this dining room progresses.  And check out the ridiculously awesome inspiration from others in this round of the One Room Challenge (designers here and linkers here).  It’s gonna be gooooood.

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DIY Window Seat and Built-Ins: Project’s Started!

Window seats are one of the most charming things you can find in a house, right?  And with built-ins around them?  Even better.  So in a effort to charm-up this old house, I’ve been busy building a new window seat with built-in bookcases on either side.

framed window seat bookcase built ins

Clearly, nothing’s done, but it is a long way from where we started.  One of the reasons we bought our house was because of its window seat.  Yes, there was already a window seat in this same spot, but it wasn’t charming.  At all.  So a year ago we tore out the old window seat and cabinet situation to open up this end of the living room.  I shared some progress along with window seat inspiration here, but here’s a short photo recap:


old window seat

cabinet demo

The plan was to create a window seat with drawers and then bookcases on either side to frame our window at the far end of our long and narrow living room.  After I cut and built the drawer boxes last year, we ultimately decided that we should probably install our new floors first.  That way, any future homeowner could tear out the new window seat and not have a surprise of old, mismatched floors underneath.  So the project stalled for months.  Okay, a year.  Then a couple weekends ago I just wanted to make it happen (or avoid working on finishing the kitchen), so I got my lumber and tools and went to work.

window seat base frame

diy window seat drawer boxes

I used really basic construction, with butt-joints, wood glue, wood screws, and my trusty pneumatic nailer.  The hardest part was measuring everything out in advance and then adjusting as I went along due to our really crooked walls and ceiling.  I also am face-framing everything, which will help keep it sturdy and, I think, looking much more professional, or at least more finished.

face framing cabinet boxes

solid wood cabinet construction

So that’s the progress for now.  Next up is to finish all the face-framing and trim work, caulk, paint, build the drawers, add sconces, and then decorate with a cushion and pillows.  Sometimes I hate writing out a list like that – sounds so long!  But it will get done eventually.  :)

cabinet bookcase frames diy

Feel free to follow along on Instagram to see updates in real time like this (as opposed to my very slow-paced blog time).

Oh, and I’m on the fence about whether to give a more detailed tutorial and how I am building all of this, so if that interests you, let me know…

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