Reading Nook Under the Stairs

Reading Nook Under the Stairs

When we first looked at this house, I always thought that the open space under the stairs would make the perfect reading nook for the kids. Fast forward three years and I finally made it happen.

Reading Nook Under the Stairs Before

When we bought this house, the lower stairs were open and wrapped in carpet. In fact, the banister was completely different, and completely dangerous for small children, you can see the before pictures here. This space served as a catch all of toys, random storage boxes and the only space for our large dog’s crate. That dog is crate trained and if left out while we are gone, will destroy a few of the kids toys as retribution. So the crate has to stay put. It’s only been recently that the girls have started playing under here which is what’s motivated me to finally make this space more intentional. And fun.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! 

Reading Nook beforeReading Nook Under Stairs BeforeReading Nook Before Wide

Reading Nook Under the Stairs During

I’m actually surprised that the carpet was even able to be ripped off of these stairs since there were about 5,729 carpet staples under here. I removed them all, patched, sanded and caulked before I used my favorite primer.

Reading Nook Before Primer

I used leftover navy paint for the walls (mostly SW Naval with a touch of SW Salty Dog from our dining room makeover) and acrylic craft paint for the back of the stairs.

Reading Nook Paint Only

I used these cloud decals and put my kiddos to work. They were so excited to finally be able to help and it took every bit of restraint in my body to no go back and “fix” their cloud placement. It’s so fun to include them in the design and implementation of these house projects, especially in a space that is exclusively for them.

Reading Nook Girls Helping

Since this is a fairly dark space, it needed a light and this wall scone was the perfect size. It wasn’t quite the right gold so I sprayed it with this and copied Nesting With Grace’s Magic Light Trick so that I wouldn’t have to hard wire the light. I used it in our laundry room makeover and it works so well. The rainbow photo holder I found for $2 in the Target Clearance section.

Reading Nook Clouds

Reading Nook Under the Stairs After

I couldn’t be happier with the finished product and the girls absolutely love it. I let Big Nugget pick out what pillows she wanted (all from Home Goods). The rainbow curtain is tulle that I wrapped around a tension rod and tucked under the dog crate – you can see how I made it in this video.

Reading Nook Under Stairs After

No rainbow reading nook is complete without a rainbow unicorn.

Reading Nook After

Big Nugget also picked out this basket to hold her favorite books.

Reading Nook Rainbow

I think both of the girls are happy with their rainbow reading nook and I have a feeling lots of memories will be made under the stairs.

Reading-Nook-Big-Nugget.jpg

Reading Nook Girls ReadingRainbow Reading Nook Pinterest

How to paint a front door

How to paint a front door

If you are a design junkie like me, then you see people paint a front door all the time and poof, the space is transformed. They make it all look so easy.

It’s not, especially when you have two young kids and two dogs, but I did it and want to share what I learned.

I love doing DIY projects around the house. I love to improve my home. I love to transform spaces. I’m not afraid to make mistakes and get a little dirty. But let me tell you what I don’t love….not being able to devote the time and attention it takes to get a job done well and quickly.

So I’ve learned to maximize the kid free time I do have and embrace the chaos when they are around. I remember “helping” paint the columns on our front porch when I was little and I want my kids to have those same memories. So when it was time to tackle that front door paint job, I mustered up all the patience I could and made it a family affair.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! `

Must Haves to Paint a Front Door

  1. Baby Gate
  2. Good paint scraper like this one
  3. Stripping Gel
  4. Sander
  5. Old towel
  6. Some good podcasts – I binged Armchair Expert and Slow Burn during this DIY
  7. Patience

Here is where we started. Lovely color but a little dated, starting to chip and the handle was somewhat broken.

front door before wide shot

Strip Before You Paint

I knew that there were LAYERS of paint on this door so it had to be stripped. I used the CitriStrip gel based on the recommendation from the guy at the paint counter. The smell wasn’t bad but did give me a headache after awhile.

front door paint stripping gel

I got a little excited and slathered the gel all over the front door. What I should have done, is do a small area at a time so that the gel wouldn’t full dry. You want it to soak in but still be a little gooey so it peels off. It says it stays wet for 24 hours, maybe in some other climates that’s true, but not in coastal San Diego.

front door paint stripping

My kids wanted to get involved and I tried to let them scrape off paint when the gel was removed or completely dry.

Sand That Door Down

Once you have the door stripped as much as possible and fill in any cracks and dings with wood putty, make sure it’s exterior and stainable/paintable, it’s time to get the sander out. I used both the power sander and the hand held sanding block to get all the nooks and crannies of the door and frame. Surprisingly, my girls slept through this.

front door sander

Prime it

I used two coats of Killz Primer on the door and I let it sit for a few days in between so that the primer could cure on the front door. Logistically, it made sense for me to change the door hardware at this step.

front door primed

Paint It

With two dogs and two small kids, I can’t just paint a front door without some sort of barricade and this baby gate worked perfectly. I also couldn’t stand the big thin plastic tarp on my floor so I opt’d for an old towel. This was the perfect size and weight to protect my floors without annoying the crap out of me or creating a giant tripping hazard.

front door paint set up

It took three coats to get the door the color I wanted and, once again, I waited a day between coats two and three. I also switched out the porch light to something a little more modern and scored some new pots in the Target clearance section so I added some new plants to make the space a little more fresh. Boxwood Wreath is on Amazon for way cheaper than I bought it on Wayfair (sigh) and the welcome mat is from Target last spring.

Finished Product

front door after little nugget

It was a LOT of work and took WAY longer than I had anticipated but I couldn’t be happier with the results. Would I paint a front door again? Absolutely. See more images for the transformation here.

Paint a Front Door 2

Front Door Makeover – From Drab to Feng Shui Fab

Front Door Makeover – From Drab to Feng Shui Fab

Our front door was in major need of an update. The paint was starting to chip and I wanted to bring in a more bold pop of color, since it is technically on the side of the house, I felt like I could get away with it. Plus, after seeing our laundry room transformation, it’s no surprise I’m not scared of getting a little crazy here. Our house is a light creamy beige and I wanted the door to still feel beachy and flow with the blues and grays on the inside. I did some research on what feng shui color would be good for the direction our door faces (southwest) and red or orange was the recommendation. At first I was going to go with a red but after doing some Pinterest browsing….I feel in love with the idea of an orange front door.

Looking to do this same project? Check out my step by step guide to painting a front door here.

Front Door Before

The color of the door was fine, although hard to match with some seasonal decor, but was starting to chip and look worn out.

The handle was only a few years old but already not working correctly so that needed to be replaced.

Choosing the right orange wasn’t easy. I knew I wanted something warmer because of the beige of the house. I narrowed it down to two and painted some swatches on the doors. It is so helpful to take the time for this extra step, you can really see what the color does in the space it’s going to live in, which can be completely different than the tiny swatch in the paint store. Originally, I wanted the color on the right but the color on the left, Behr Japanese Koi, was ultimately what we went with.

Front Door After

The process of painting this door wasn’t easy either and took three times longer than I anticipated BUT, I think it was all worth it.

New light fixture, new door hardware and some new potted plants make all the difference.

Little Nugget Approved.

9 Things to Know Before Painting Cabinets

9 Things to Know Before Painting Cabinets

When we did our laundry room makeover, I thought that building the shelf or hanging the wallpaper would be the most challenging part of the design plan. I was surprised that painting the cabinets was actually the part that gave me the biggest headaches.

I love the look of painted cabinets and now that I’ve learned some lessons, I’m ready to tackle the rest of the painted cabinets we have in this house. That is, as soon as I finish our front door makeover.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! 

9 Things I Learned Painting My Cabinets

Buy some sawhorses – This is a garage/workshop must-have if you like doing any sort of home projects or even crafting. They are perfect to stage your cabinets on when you are prepping them and painting them. I use these on my projects, I love the lower table.

Before and after painted cabinet transformation. This easy DIY project, with or without sanding, can take old drap cabinets into a high impact statement. Ideas for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. 9 things to know when you are painting cabinets with with a sprayer or with brushes. #beforeandafter #DIY #kitchen #bathroom #laundryroom #colors #interiordesign #farmhouse

Scrape off excess paint – If you have old or layered paint on your cabinets, take the time to scrape it off. It will make your finished product look great and help your primer and paint stick.

Before and after painted cabinet transformation. This easy DIY project, with or without sanding, can take old drap cabinets into a high impact statement. Ideas for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. 9 things to know when you are painting cabinets with with a sprayer or with brushes. #beforeandafter #DIY #kitchen #bathroom #laundryroom #colors #interiordesign #farmhouse

Sand them down – Also another important step that shouldn’t be skipped. I sand them really well before I put on primer and then gently with a fine sandpaper once the primer is dry.

Use a good primer, maybe twice – I love Killz primer. It’s worth it to put a layer of this on even if your paint includes a primer in it. Especially on cabinets that are going to get a lot of use.

Invest in paint – This was my biggest mistake in our laundry room makeover, I used crappy paint. If I had to do it over again, I would have had my paint store color match the crappy paint and used a higher-quality brand. It’s worth the time and money.

Use foam brushes – On cabinets, if you are hand painting them, you want to use foam brushes so you eliminate brush marks. I like having a few different sizes, like in this package. If you want to get super fancy, use a sprayer. This is ideal for bigger projects but for the four doors in my laundry room, brushes were fine.

Have a small bowl or cup nearby to keep all the loose screws – Painting your cabinets isn’t a one day project so it’s nice to be able to keep all the screws and hardware in one central location so you have it once you are ready to reinstall.

Before and after painted cabinet transformation. This easy DIY project, with or without sanding, can take old drap cabinets into a high impact statement. Ideas for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. 9 things to know when you are painting cabinets with with a sprayer or with brushes. #beforeandafter #DIY #kitchen #bathroom #laundryroom #colors #interiordesign #farmhouse

Painters tape is your friend – Use painters tape to mark off what cabinet door go where (very important thing to keep track of) and it to measure and mark drill holes for the new pulls. Very important to GO SLOW when you are drilling into your doors. Using light pressure and taking your time will make sure that your doors don’t split or crack when you drill through them.

Before and after painted cabinet transformation. This easy DIY project, with or without sanding, can take old drap cabinets into a high impact statement. Ideas for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. 9 things to know when you are painting cabinets with with a sprayer or with brushes. #beforeandafter #DIY #kitchen #bathroom #laundryroom #colors #interiordesign #farmhouse

Load up on patience – Take your time and do it right. Trust me it will be worth it.

Before and after painted cabinet transformation. This easy DIY project, with or without sanding, can take old drap cabinets into a high impact statement. Ideas for your kitchen, bathroom or laundry room. 9 things to know when you are painting cabinets with with a sprayer or with brushes. #beforeandafter #DIY #kitchen #bathroom #laundryroom #colors #interiordesign #farmhouse

5 Garden Tips for Great Vegetables

5 Garden Tips for Great Vegetables

It’s early in the year but it’s safe to say we have a successful garden. We planted our spring vegetable garden a few months ago, you can see the full garden plan here and we’ve already enjoyed spinach, figs, green beans and zucchini. We have lots of peppers, tomatoes, squash and onions on the way. It hasn’t been without it’s challenges. I’ve had to contend with some fungus and end rot…not to mention a toddler who doesn’t listen when I say “no touch”. Here are my top 5 garden tips for great vegetables.

Garden Tips

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! I never link to anything that I haven’t actually used. 

One

Water in the morning and at the roots. Sounds a bit obvious but to prevent fungus and other diseases, you should make sure that you are watering at the root of your plants. Avoid spraying their leaves. Unfortunately, my neighbors have their sprinklers run in the late afternoon and they spray all over our raised beds. My squash plants have all developed a white fungus and I’ve had to use this spray to keep in under control. I’m also a huge fan of Captain Jack’s Dead Bug to keep other pests at bay. I spray everything once a week.

Garden tips mildew.jpg

Two

Check on it daily. Sometimes the garden can be a bit out of sight, out of mind but if you check in once a day, you’ll be able to notice if things are going array. I noticed that some of the pumpkins and a zucchini had developed an end rot so I added this to the soil to help them absorb the water and fertilizer. This is a common problem if you have a lot of clay in your soil or a lot of salt water. We are very close to the coast so this is an issue for us. Adding this to the soil solved the problem and we’ve had a ton of zucchini now. Plus how cute is this tiny little butternut squash!

garden tips baby butternut squash

Three

Protect your crop. Last year, I was so excited when my figs started to come in but I wasn’t alone. As soon as the got close to ripe, all of them had tiny bite marks in them. This year, I wasn’t going to lose the fight and as soon as the figs were big enough, I put them in these bags. We did find one bag with a fig in it in our yard but it kept the critter out of it and I’m hoping it’s given up on our tree. One of my favorite garden tips was to keep pinwheels in the raised beds to keep birds away from young fruit. So simple and brings a fun pop of color to the garden.

garden tips fig tree

Four

Feed your plants. Adding a good vegetable fertilizer is so important to growing big healthy vegetables. I’ve had great results with this organic fertilizer. Make sure you spread it evenly and work it into the first inch of soil, then water. I do this every other week.

garden tips pumpkin

Five

Go with it. In our original garden plan, we didn’t account for just how big and robust the plants would get. I’ve had to pull out some spinach because there just wasn’t enough room and sun for it to do well. That’s the fun about gardening, you set out with the best of intentions and never know who it will flourish. Now that I pulled back some of the spinach, the surrounding peppers and the green beans have plenty of room to expand. We’ve also had mixed luck with our vegetables and sunflowers we started from seed. About half of them germinated and I’ve placed them in containers around the yard under a drip line.

garden tips squash tower

What are your best garden tips to get amazing veggies all summer long?

Garden Tips Pinterest It

Vegetable Garden Plan with Free Printable

Vegetable Garden Plan with Free Printable

Planning and planting our vegetable garden is one of my favorite springtime activities. The benefit of living in Southern California is that I can garden all year long but there is something fun about warm weather vegetable gardens. Planning, planting, watching the progress, and eventually enjoying the output. It’s so satisfying.

Our property has a lot of mature plants that we inherited from the previous owners. We have a fig tree, grape vine, pineapple guava, tangelo, lime, avocado, apricot and passion fruit vine. Since we’ve moved in, I’ve planted blueberries, blackberries, rosemary, thyme and sage. Some are doing better than others but that might be a whole different post.

We’ve also installed two raised beds and have a handful of containers.

Phew, it makes me tired just typing that out but this yard was one of the reasons we fell in love with this house.

I’ll take you through what we are planting this year – we are coastal, zone 10. Hopefully it inspires you to make your own easy vegetable garden.

This post contains some affiliate links – meaning if you click through the links and buy anything, the retailer will pay me a small commission at no additional cost to you! I never link to anything that I haven’t actually used. 

The Vegetable Garden

It all starts with good soil. We love to compost and this tumbling compost bin makes it super easy. We will mix this in with a few bags of organic soil from the garden store. I also put down a handful of organic fertilizer in the hole before I place the plant.

vegetable garden compost

These raised beds are the perfect size for small and medium size vegetable gardens. Cute helpers not included.

vegetable garden raised beds

I lay out the plants in the vegetable garden before I put them in the dirt. Using the containers they come in helps make sure I have the right size hole and spacing between the plants.

vegetable garden bell peppers

Putting the vegetable garden in is fun for the whole family. Big Nugget loves to pick out a strawberry plant each year. She is very helpful planting it and watering it. She also calls first dibs on any strawberries it produces.

We are starting some plants from seeds. I’ve never tried this before but hoping we can get some sunflowers and vegetables that weren’t in stock yet at our local garden center. It’s a great activity for the kids too, even the 15 month old could contribute. Really, she just took out the tags so we’ll be guessing what is what when they come in.

vegetable garden seeds

Vegetable Garden Trellis

Using a trellis can expand the growing capacity of a small vegetable garden, these are climbing french green beans and will fill out this 6 foot trellis fairly quickly.

vegetable garden peppers

The employees at our local Armstrong Garden Center are a wealth of information. I told one of the guys that I had a hard time growing any type of squash and I thought it was because I was too coastal. He suggested a trellis and training them to grow up it so that they didn’t get moldy from my wet ground. Excited to try this method out. I put the green onions in the middle because they will survive in partial shade.

vegetable garden trellis

I have a love hate relationship with tomato plants. They start off so promising. I’ve had the best luck with cherry tomatoes in containers and with a cage. I also try not to get the plant itself wet when I water and regular spray’s of Captain Jack’s Dead Bug Brew.

vegetable garden tomato

Free Vegetable Garden Printable

Looking to plan your own vegetable garden? Here is a free printable of our layout to help you plan our your warm weather garden.

Vegetable Garden Plan Printable

vegetable garden guide