Friday, May 31, 2013

Playroom rug

Emily's rug has finally been delivered to our house. Long story short, it was delivered to the wrong address and UPS had to find it and redeliver it to my house. UPS delivered it to Homdepot. How that happened? I don't know but the rug is finally safe and sound at our house. I'm not sure if I want to keep the rug or not. This is the rug I got from Target.  Its a Felicity rug with a chevron/zigzag pattern. I wanted fun and bold colors in the playroom so I decided on the bright pink zigzag pattern. In person, the rug design and color really brings out the pink of the giant toy storage. I got a small rug, the 5x8 size. It fits the playroom with a little extra room for furniture on the side. Here is the rug in Emily's playroom.

Unfortunately the rug is not super soft like my master bedroom rug. Its not bad but just not as soft as I had hoped. I bought it for $116 when it was on sale a few days ago. Binh doesn't like the rug because he thinks the pattern is too overpowering. At this moment, I'm not really sure if I should keep it or not.

Update on the dorel daybed. I returned the daybed. I didn't like it because once assembled, it was too big in the playroom. I wanted to leave space so Emily can pull out all her toys to play with in the center.  Instead, I will either build a small bench with the foam mat thats leaning against the window or else buy a cute loveseat for seating.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Change of heart for the fireplace

After much debate for the last few days, I've decided against using tile for my fireplace. We have a gas insert fireplace that doesn't open at all. It was really meant for decorative purposes. There is real fire when turned on but no wood is required. The last few days, I've been doing research and even went as far as visiting local model homes to look at their fireplaces for inspiration. I am starting to see a nice trend of not using tiles and just having the wood surround. I like the plain white wood surround because its simple and allows the decor to stand out.

This was the fireplace from the model home that I visited today in Rancho Cucamonga. Its plain white, bulky, and I really like it. Its something that my dad can reproduce for me on a low budget. The picture doesn't do this fireplace justice because you can't see the fireplace as a whole with the house.

Here's another picture of a white wood surround fireplace from a friends house. This is a better picture because you can see that the fireplace allows the surrounding decorations to stand out. Although the layout of this house is way different from mines, I can see how important it is to have a low key fireplace so it doesn't compete with the television.

This is a picture from another website that I found. I love the look of this fireplace. Its nice and bulky with simple lines. It really allows the decorations to stand out. Notice how the walls are also very light. At first, I thought having light colored walls with a plain white fireplace would blend everything together but after looking at these inspirational pictures I have a change of heart.

I've finally decided on the basic design now. I returned all the marble tiles to Homedepot. Hopefully I can start on the fireplace project sometime tonight or tomorrow. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No more wrapping boxes

I had the urge to do something today so I finished off the toy boxes. I wasn't able to wrap many more boxes but I'm content with how things are looking. I still have a lot of contact paper for many more future projects. I still have two brand new rolls of blue contact paper. I'm sure I'll find use for them somewhere around the house. Hopefully one day I can use them in Binh's junk yard/office. I've been wanting to clean out Binh's junk yard but he just won't let me. He thinks I'm going to throw everything away, which I am but thats not the point. The point is to clean out his junk yard. Here is the new and improved giant toy storage with better lighting.

Here's a close up of the patterned contact paper. Isn't it cute? 

Look at all the toys I've hidden with this bad boy. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

More wrapped toy boxes

I'm back after a long trip to LA for lunch. I unfortunately didn't have time to work on the fireplace today. I work the next three days so I won't have any updates but I was able to work on more toy boxes. It's looking pretty cute now. Once the whole project is complete it should look even better.

Here is the before picture with odd boxes positioned all over the place. This was during the day before I left for LA so it was still sunny and bright. 

Here is the after with a few more boxes wrapped up. I was only able to wrap three more boxes.  Its so hard to wrap boxes with a toddler in your face.  I'm hoping to finish up all the boxes by this weekend. I still have a lot of contact paper from previous projects and two more bought for this project.  I should be able to wrap at least ten more boxes with the remaining contact paper. Its hard to tell in these pictures but the light pink contact paper really brings out the pink background of the toy storage. I'll try to take better pictures tomorrow morning before work. See the difference from right to left? The left side is so cluttered compared to the new toy boxes on the right. 

Overall review of contact paper toy box 

This is a project worth investing your time in only if you are looking for a large amount of storage boxes. It does get time consuming just like wrapping christmas gifts.  However, I will be able to produce at least 10-15 good sized toy boxes for under $10. If I had to buy 10 storage boxes at $5-10 each, it would have cost me $50-100. I do plan to make as many boxes as I can with the remaining contact paper. 

First toy box

I finished the first toy box with contact paper. Its not perfect but its good enough for me. The contact paper is green and white but its ok. Emily loves all colors. Its a good sized box that contains a lot of her toys. Here of pictures of the before and after.

It was just an old acer box from many years ago. Its a good size so it got selected to be turned into Emily's new toy box. 

I first cut the flaps out and lined it with white contact paper inside. The inside was hard to line but I wanted the inside to be white. Then I lined the outside. It was very easy to line the outside. If you can wrap a present then you can do this project. I also used a chopstick to help guide the adhesive to make it smooth. 

Here is the new pretty toy box filled with toys. 

Its a perfect sized box for that spot, cheap with extra contact paper for other projects, easy 15 minute project, and very durable. I won't be afraid of Emily or any of her friends damaging the toy box. If they do then I'll make a new one. 

Here are the before pictures of Emily's playroom as a reminder.

Looking back at these old pictures makes me love the toy storage even more. 

Another basket just because

I bought another basket yesterday while shopping at Marshalls.  I found a cute gray and white basket thats fun for the corner area of our master dresser. I wanted to add more excitement to that corner because the adjacent wall is completely empty for now. I plan to hand curtains and some art work later on when I have more time.

When I look at local model homes I notice their decorations are not over the top gorgeous. Its really the whole package put together that makes the model home nice. Every corner, every empty wall has some kind of decoration that makes the home feel welcoming.  When I decorate, I take things very slowly and one step at a time. One corner basket might not feel like it makes a difference but its one corner basket that feels a little more complete. As I mentioned before, we are a young couple that just bought our house not too long ago with literally nothing. Our home feels overwhelming sometimes because its still so empty due to lack of furniture but its slowly coming along..... one basket at a time.

Here is my new $20 gray and white basket from Marshalls. Its a great basket to throw old clothes that we plan to donate. It looks out of place in these pictures but it matches the room because the walls on the other side is gray and it doesn't look so dark and gloomy. Now our master dresser doesn't look so lonely against the giant empty wall.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Done with half of my shopping list

After a long day of shopping these are some of the supplies that I got. Yep... gorgeous marble subway tiles for our ugly fireplace. I also picked up the tile setting mat instead of thin set as mentioned earlier today. At only $20 a pack that will cover my whole fireplace, I'll take it in place of messy thin set any day.  Sorry I don't know how to rotate my picture yet so you will just have to tilt your heads.

Up next on my shopping list was something I came across by surprise. Remember I mentioned that I was going to leave the giant toy storage alone for a while to work on the fireplace? Well, I lied. I'm back to the giant toy storage again. I was shopping at Marshals and came across gorgeous decorative contact paper. Did I ever mention that I love contact paper? If I could cover my whole house with contact paper and not get referred to a pyschiatrist I probably would. Contact paper is cheap, easy to wipe and clean, easy to remove, I think its waterproof, durable, and very easy to apply.

For the longest time I thought about making decorative toy boxes. I've seen cute fabric ones at Target for about $10 a pop. Ten dollars for one box is okay but realistically I need about 10-15 boxes total for the office, emily's toy storage, etc. So I looked into making fabric boxes but fabric cost a lot too, spray adhesive can get messy, and.. fabric gets dirty fast. So I left the storage box idea alone and moved on to the ugly fireplace. Then I came across decorative contact paper and a light bulb lit up.  Here is what I purchased today.  I got two rolls of green and blue decorative contact paper for $10 total. I already had the plain white contact paper from previous projects.  The boxes behind will be transformed into pretty boxes by tonight. I tried to look for old shoe boxes but realized that I haven't bought any shoes for myself in a long time so I have no boxes. Isn't that sad? So I'll be treating myself to new shoes tomorrow. :) I grabbed whatever box I saw. I expect those three rolls of contact paper to produce at least ten pretty boxes for me. I don't have enough boxes yet but I'll make three for now.

I'll be back tomorrow for updates on my boxes and progress of the ugly fireplace facelift. Time to make dinner before hubby gets home from work. 

The story of our ugly fireplace

We have an ugly fireplace. I'm sure a lot of people have an ugly fireplace that they have been ignoring just like us. From the very beginning, I've been wanting to refinish our fireplace but just haven't had time. My brother is getting engaged in a few weeks so my parents have been harassing me to fix up their fireplace. My parents want to fix it up but have no idea how they want it. Its a coincidence that we have the same style fireplace, so I figured however I plan to refinish mines is how theirs will look. My fireplace currently has plain white tiles with gray/blue grout. It's an odd combination that is very ugly. To make things worst, our fireplace is also in a weird position in our house. Its in between the television and sliding doors to the patio. On top is a giant 17 feet mantle that I have no idea what to do with. Here are pictures of our fireplace.

So lately I have stepped away from the giant toy storage for a break and cooked up some ideas for our ugly fireplace. I have been doing research on how to tackle this project one step at a time. I plan to tile it with some gorgeous white marble subway tiles that I've been eyeing at Homedepot. I will tile right on top of my current tile. Today I will go and gather some supplies. My budget for this project will be under $250. I also plan to ask my dad to build a wood surround. It will be tough to finish this project because my dad is very busy lately so I will have to count on myself to tile everything. 

After much research, I've decided to use a setting mat to tile. Its faster and no mess. My dad has a hand held dremmel that I will be using to cut the tiles. After all the tile is up, my father will grout for me and build the wood surround. I will finish it off with paint and accessories. This is just a tentative plan so anything can change.  Anyone else out there up to tackle their ugly fireplace with me?

Friday, May 17, 2013

DIY vs buying

When I decide on a new project I always ask myself if the project is worth my time and money. Its hard to try to save money by DIY and end up spending more money. My goal is always to spend the least amount of money and time on a project. I'm a mother of a toddler and its always a challenge to find time to do anything aside from taking care of her.  When looking for craigslist/thrift store furniture pieces I always look for good bones, exact measurements, cheap, and local. If the furniture piece doesn't fit all four descriptions then its a pass. For example, my master dresser was $75 on craigslist, great solid pine wood, and large enough for my bedroom. I love that old furniture usually is made of solid wood, unlike the new furniture that we buy today. I almost never drive far for my craigslist pieces. They are always within a ten mile radius from my house. If the piece is too far then its not worth the drive because gas is expensive and most importantly your time to commute back and forth to pick up the piece is also another factor.  Occasionally I'll drive a little further but most likely I'll wait for a local one to come up. Craigslist is a great place to find great quality used pieces that just need a little refinishing. If you wait long enough the perfect piece will come up.  Many times it takes me at least a month to find the perfect piece.

I always save money by purchasing used craigslist furniture pieces but I tend to spend money on the little details. For example, our master bedroom dresser cost a total of $100 for the dresser and supplies/paint but the accessories cost another $100. Black mirror above the dresser was a cheap impulsive buy a while back from home goods for $25, fake real touch orchid flower pot $30, black ceramic lantern $20, white candle inside lantern $10, and dark brown wicker basket on the floor $20. I guess I saved money with the big furniture piece so I tell myself I can spend a little more on the accessories.  Since I have a toddler, its not always easy to run to the store and shop for accessories. I tend to do a lot of online shopping whenever possible. Its also convenient to shop online because dimensions are always there and many times shipping is free.

Usually when the furniture piece is small or affordable then I opt to buy it brand new instead of refurbishing one. Our current TV stand was from Costco for $200 and i'm okay with it. It fits the space perfectly, wasn't a bad price, and it was delivered to our home.  Its not made of solid wood but its okay. I probably could have found a used piece for $50 on craigslist but I would have had to search for one, pick it up, and then refinish it. Searching for the right piece on craigslist can be tricky. Sometimes it takes a couple of months to find the perfect piece. In the end I decided to buy new.  Below is our TV stand from Costco.

So in the future when deciding on a new project, think about the cost and time it will take to refinish the piece compared to buying it new. I think thats why all of my refinished pieces are generally large furniture pieces. Below are the list of refinished furniture that I have completed thus far. 

List of furniture pieces I've done so far 

$35 Dresser/changing table for Emily's nursery. 
Solid wood with metal rollers for the drawers so its easy to pull in and out. These are old pictures so knobs weren't put in. I will post updated pictures another day. The height was perfect for a changing table and the size was perfect for our little space in the corner. I waited for the perfect size piece to come up. 

$75 China cabinet 
Once again its solid wood and extremely heavy.

Entertainment center turned giant toy storage for $100

Kids bedroom set turned into master bedroom nightstands. I was able to score this good size dresser, desk for the other side, two smaller nightstands for $50.  The desk on the right is still unfinished. I still need to put on the pulls and buy accessories for it. These two pieces fit my room exactly. I waited for the perfect sized pieces to come up. 

Master dresser with fancy grasscloth wallpaper and black nail head trim. Dresser cost me $75 on craigslist. This set came with other large pieces but I have refinished them and resold them on craigslist.  It came with a large TV armoire/dresser, queen bed, and two large nightstands. The whole set cost me $200 but I was able to resell the other piece for a profit. The only piece that I sold was the armoire and kept everything else. 


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Expensive crystal knobs

Today I bought clear crystal knobs for Emily's toy storage. At $6 a pop, they are expensive. I didn't have time and energy to go look for other options so I just bought them since I was already at Homedepot.  So far, I've spent about $180 for everything. Its a little over my initial budget but its okay. A similar Pottery Barn version would have cost me way over 1K so I'm one happy momma.

Dresser $100
Paint and supplies $40
Crystal knobs $40

When I refinish furniture, I usually reuse the knobs. This was the second time I had to buy knobs for our furniture. Last time I refinished Emily's changing dresser I had to buy three knobs. Lucky they were very affordable. I think they cost me under $10 for three.

Here are the knobs I purchased at Homedepot. They are not super cute but good enough for us. We can't afford anything cuter. There were more affordable alternatives but they were a little too small. 

Here they are on the toy storage.  Excuse the horrible picture. The sun was coming down and I just repainted a fresh coat of white so the windows were down. Knobs didn't make a significant difference but compared to the old wooden knobs they are a nice upgrade. 

And of course a before picture.

I just ordered her daybed and rug. Can't wait until they come. 

Future plans for Emily's big girl playroom

Yesterday night was a tough night for Binh and I because I moved almost all of Emily's toys into her new playroom. Our house looked so empty without her toys everywhere. I can't believe I am saying this but we already have empty nest syndrome and our Emily isn't even two. The only toy that is left outside of her playroom was her kitchen. I've decided to leave her kitchen outside in the living room because I like seeing at least some of her toys around the house.

Now that I have completed refinishing the giant toy storage I have a new list of things to tackle before her playroom is complete.

1. Find pretty crystal/clear knobs for the doors on the giant toy storage. There are a total of six doors so I will need six new knobs. Knobs are usually pretty expensive especially the nice ones. Luckily I only need six. Usually when I refinish furniture I use the original pulls/knobs and refinish them but this time, the knobs were wood so it won't look nice with the new colors of the storage center.

2. Find two large picture frames to turn into a chalk board and magnet board. I'm looking online to buy a large chalk board and magnet board to hang up along the wall on the other side of the room. Initially I had plans to use chalk board paint and magnetic paint for the doors on the bottom. I saw similar inspiration images on pottery barn kids and fell in love. Unfortunately my plans were ruined when I realized that Emily is too tall for the lower cabinets of the toy storage.

3. Get a nice soft rug for Emily. When we got our master bedroom rug Emily loved it. She napped on it for the first few days. I am on the look out for a fun and colorful rug to put in her big girl playroom. 

4. I also want a daybed with storage underneath. Day beds are great because they can be used as a sofa/bed. I'm looking at some cheaper alternatives from Walmart. Found a nice Dorel white day bed for under $200. 

5. Details for the giant toy storage include making fabric boxes as storage bins. This morning when Emily walked into her playroom she said "wow"and started pulling all sorts of toys off the shelf and opened the lower cabinets. I think I might stick to the open concept of leaving her toys on display for now because she can see them and point to which ones she wants to play with. 

6. Finally I need to hang shelves to store all of her books along the wall that I plan to hang the chalkboard and magnet board.

Here are pictures that I promised to post from yesterday. 
My father and brother in law came over to help me bring the middle cabinet inside the house. Binh helped moved the old guest bed back into the old playroom. 

If you noticed, I didn't paint the bottom of the cabinets. I figured they won't be exposed since I have doors for them. Plus I was getting lazy to paint. I rather focus on painting the exposed parts. 

I lined every cabinet in my house including the kitchen cabinets with contact paper. I've refinished a few furniture pieces so each one gets lined with contact paper.  I love contact paper. They are cheap, durable, removable, and so easy to keep clean. 

Look at all the toys I was able to stuff inside the lower cabinets. 

I was able to fit the giant bin of toys inside the lower cabinet of the toy storage. Believe it or not, its actually half full only. I guess we will have to buy Emily more toys now. :) See once all the toys and bins are inside, nobody can tell that I cut corners and didn't paint the lower cabinets. I still need to hang the doors on the lower middle cabinets and the big middle one. I'm not sure if I want to add more shelves for more storage or leave it open. Decisions .. decisions... 

This is the left side of the cabinet. As you can see, Emily is already playing with the toys on the shelf. 

This is the right side of the cabinet. 

The giant toy storage without doors in the middle.  My dad is coming over soon to help me put on the doors and new knobs. I might be able to update later with more pictures. 

Here is the before picture for reference 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Recap of painting the toy storage

Finally I'm done with all the painting. I was getting tired of painting. The first coat of primer took me nearly two hours to complete but luckily the subsequent coats only took about 30-40 minutes each. Its always harder to paint the first coat of primer because I try to cover everything. Second, third, and fourth coats were just to have better coverage. It was scary completing the project because I really didn't know if I was going to love or hate the new colors that I picked. I figured the worst case was to repaint the pink another color. I wanted a bright and bold color to paint the back so it can really stand out and the bold pink really works well with the white. As for now I'm loving the color combination.

This is only the beginning of the toy storage saga. I will be having many more posts on how to transform it into a true toddlers toy storage. I have big plans to incorporate a chalk board and magnet board for Emily to play with, how to make custom fabric storage boxes to hold toys, and how to store all the other random toys in a fashionable display using supplies we have laying around the house and on a budget.

Here are pictures of Emily's big girl playroom from before. Beware, its a scary room. This is the room that our guests have never seen before. Its not a large space but it can fit a queen bed and a dresser. There is also a small mirrored closet on the other side thats empty. 

The giant blue thing is Emily's waterside. We pull it out for her birthday parties. 

We also have large containers of toys like this around the house. Unfortunately it doesn't always look full like this throughout the day. The toys are usually scattered throughout the house. 

After an hour or so of cleaning and reorganizing the playroom this is what I came up with. All the large chairs are inside the closet and stacked on each other. The large blue waterside is also hidden inside the closet. The other side of the room is a blank wall and ready to accept the giant toy storage center. 

Finally, I brought these two bad boys in by myself. It was tough but I did it. 

We had to switch rooms in order for the giant toy storage to fit in our playroom. We switched the guest bedroom to the playroom instead. Here is one picture for now. I will have many more pictures tomorrow. I am currently displaying all of Emily's toys because I don't have pretty boxes for them to go in yet. For now this cluttered look will have to do until I get pretty boxes.  All her toys fit in this giant entertainment center. I'm extremely excited.