I’ve been trying to convince Ellie to move into the guest room for awhile. Our rooms join with a pocket door, which we leave open. I think we’d both sleep better if we weren’t quite so close. (I could do without a little voice calling, “Stop snoring, Mama!”)
Also the guest room is larger with a double bed.
Aaaand… her current room would make a great playroom, which would mean the living room no longer has to be overrun with toys.
(Am I selling you on this idea?)
Ellie is change averse, so she has not been a fan of my plan. But she is a big fan of green. So when I mentioned we could paint the guest room green, she was a little more enthused about the idea of relocating.
But don’t tell Ellie the guest room is already green(ish).
My inspiration is slightly softer. In fact, I’ve been planning a green room for a hypothetical little girl long before I ever decided to have a baby, all due to a special gift from my grandma.
My grandmother made all of the girl grandchildren quilts for their weddings (she knit afghans for the boys). The one she gave me is girls with umbrellas–with a green backing.
I thought it would be perfect for Ellie. Though when we unfolded it the other day, her first words were, “That’s not my green.” I also realized that it’s sized for a single bed, not a double. So the quilt will not be the inspiration for Ellie’s new room, though I do hope to use it somewhere.
But, I have another option. An old chenille bedspread from my grandparents’ cottage was folded alongside the quilt. It’s the perfect size for a double bed and it includes a nice dark and saturated yet soft green. Plus Ellie’s first words on seeing it were, “It’s so flowery!”
My Mom has this lamp, which she had in her childhood room, and I think the two would work really well together. (She needs a new shade and some new wiring.)
So now to find a green that is sufficiently saturated for our girl, but sufficiently mellow for Mom.
House & Home tells me that juniper green a “softer, more saturated green” is trending. They cite Webster Green from Benjamin Moore as an example. I think this green would look great (and sufficiently farmy) on our (fake) paneled walls. As long as it’s green enough for Ellie.
The brass-ish bed would contrast with the green, so we could keep that. We’d also keep the dresser that Matt’s parents bought for her nursery. Then it’s what else do we need? Nightstands? A desk? Bookshelf? Some fun, colourful, flowered curtains?
The move is likely a ways off. Moving one room has a domino effect with the rest of the house, as I would need to relocate everything that’s currently in the guest room. Plus then there’s redecorating, and it might take some time to negotiate the final design with my partner/client.
For now, I’m having fun thinking about it. And it was really special to pull out the quilt and the bedspread and share them with our girl.
Are there any other green fans out there? What’s your favourite shade? What’s your must-have for a kid’s room? Do you have any special gifts from your grandparents?
Our mudroom is done–for now. This room was the first on my home goals list for this year. I had just five small tasks to do, and they are finally finished.
Today, I’m giving a tour of the space and highlighting some of my favourite features.
The secret behind the picture
Let’s start with the hidden (literally) gem. I’m particularly proud of how this secret cupboard turned out.
One weekend, I built a little box. When our contractors arrived, I asked one of them to install it in the wall next to the door. Then I attached hinges to a picture frame and installed it over the box. Inside the box, I screwed two rows of little cup hooks. Voila, hidden key cupboard.
I like having our keys hung up, rather than jumbled together in a basket in the drawer. Originally I’d planned to find a farmy painting for the door. But when I couldn’t find the right size, I decided to go with photos. I chose a picture of Matt in the pool during our home inspection, and then I selected another photo of Ellie and me in the pool during demolition. A literal snapshot of the history of the mudroom, and our little family together in this space we dreamed about.
Figure it out furniture
Someday the mudroom may have beautiful built-ins. But for now, we’re making it work with free hand-me-down dressers, our homemade bench and other DIYs. And honestly, they’re working great.
The dressers look fresh after a coat of paint to match the walls. Spraying the hardware to match the black hooks that we used in the room was the finishing touch. The dressers are likely not going to be here forever (the one on the landing is too small and the one by the door is too big), but they’re doing everything we need.
The upper one holds puzzles, colouring books and games for Ellie. Plus cards, flyers, coupons. It’s also our mail drop, wallet and phone charging station. The lower one holds sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, masks and some outdoor toys and tools. In the winter it stashes hats, mitts and scarves. Both dressers have empty drawers, so we have more than enough storage for now.
Matt’s nephew and I made the bench almost nine years ago. I’ve been surprised by how much I like having the free-standing shorter bench. It gives space for my longer coats to hang freely, instead of puddling on the seat. Ellie is still a bit short to reach too high, so having her hats or other gear in a dresser drawer or a bin on the floor works best for her, rather than putting them on a too high shelf.
Living with the space as it is now gives me an idea of what we need and what works best.
A little bit country
We live on a farm, but we don’t have a farmhouse. With every tweak we make, I try to inject more country character. The V-groove paneling on the walls, cedar on the ceiling and simple black hooks are all examples of that.
The mirror is another. It was a bit ornate when I found it in the thrift store. Removing the decorative top piece and the cherry-esque finish countrified it a lot. The factory finish was so hard and thick, but patience and a lot of sandpaper prevailed. Finding the right way to refinish it took a bit. Everything I put on the wood turned red. Finally, I went with simply varathane. That countrified it the rest of the way.
The mirror bounces a bit more light into the room (enhancing Cigo’s sunbeam), and its round shape contrasts with all of the straight lines from the paneling and other elements in the room.
Designed for us
Installing an LED nightlight cover plate on the landing (I was influenced by Young House Love) was probably the easiest task on my to-do list. It gives a perfect glow for the stairs. The location of this plug–and all of the other switches, outlets, light fixtures, heated floor control panel–was very carefully mapped out by me. The electrician and the tiler didn’t completely agree with my choices, but I’m the one that lives here, so I got my way.
The dimension and height of the landing, the way the doors swing, where the openings were located, and the height of the archway into the kitchen were other areas where I pushed for what I wanted. Sometimes I felt guilty asking for a change, but I knew I would regret it if I didn’t make the mudroom exactly the way I wanted.
Now everything is so convenient and it works for how we live.
Make it personal
Like all spaces in our house, the mudroom is personal to us. Matt’s nephew and I made the bench and I made the umbrella stand for our last mudroom. My sister-in-law made the yellow crate for Ellie. My Dad made the wooden shoehorn that’s hanging from the hook and the large wood plate on the dresser that we use for mail. There’s even a box on the stairs to hold stones, sticks, pinecones, feathers and other treasures that Ellie collects.
Matt’s winter coat which I wear to take the dog out hangs beside the door. Having a whole section dedicated for Cigo has been a game-changer. In the old mudroom, towels were draped over the bench, leashes were piled on top of each other. Now we have ample hooks for everything. I even stash his nail clippers and a bottle of dog shampoo in the dresser by the door, for those moments when he smells a bit too farmy to allow in the house.
The painting on the wall is another special, personal touch. Like so much of the art in our house, this too was painted by Matt’s grandpa. When I shared art options for the mudroom a long-time reader had a brilliant suggestion: switch between paintings. So I had two framed. One summer scene (by Matt’s grandpa) and one winter (by my Mom’s friend). They’re roughly the same size, so they can hang on the same hook.
The mudroom has been a great addition–literally–to our house. This is a space that we live in every day, and that I enjoy every day. I am very proud that we dreamt it and we built it. It’s much more than a mudroom.
Do you have a room that’s more than a room? What is your must-have for an entry? Do you have any secret storage at your house? Who else switches art seasonally? Anyone else have a sunbathing dog?
We also added two dressers, which I painted last week.
They give us eight big drawers of storage, so I finally have a place to put my hats and mitts. As well as car keys, sunglasses, reusable bags, pens, notepads, phone charger, masks (who thought we’d need mask storage?) and so much more stuff.
One dresser is by the door–keys, outerwear, sunscreen, bug spray, etc. will live here. One dresser is on the landing by the kitchen. My vision is that it will become a kind of command centre for mail, papers, household stuff, and even some of Ellie’s toys.
Part of my goal with not adding built-ins right away is to discover exactly what kind of storage we need.
The dressers aren’t quite the style I’m looking for in our eventual built-ins and they’re not quite the right size for their spots, but they do the job for now. And the price was right. Matt’s Dad picked them up years ago and they lived first in his shed and then in our barn. After some repairs, a cleaning and a coat of paint, they are a great interim solution.
Here are some of the other things I’m planning to do in the mudroom.
Install dresser hardware
The dressers don’t have a lot of space to screw on drawer pulls. The centre recessed panel is actually glass, so I can’t drill through it. I’m likely going to reuse the old pulls, but I’m going to spray paint them black first.
I found a big oval mirror at a thrift store this fall. The rounded shape will be a nice contrast to all the straight lines in the room. I’m going to remove the decorative piece on the top and refinish the wood frame, aiming for a rustic finish that will go with our cedar ceiling.
Install nightlight cover plate
I remembered last week that I had one LED cover plate left from a three-pack I bought a few years ago (I was influenced by Young House Love). The mudroom would be a perfect place for a nightlight, so I dug it out. Bonus, the cover plate also has a USB port, so it will be going at my new phone charging station on the landing dresser.
Build key cupboard
During construction I had our contractors insert a little wood box that I made into the wall beside the door. This box is going to become a hidden key cupboard. A few rows of cup hooks will give us plenty of space to hang keys. For the cupboard door, I’m going to use a picture attached to hinges. Storage. ✓ Art. ✓ Function. ✓ Form. ✓
We don’t have a lot of wall space for pictures (and I don’t want to put too many holes in the paneling). I’m planning on hanging one painting. Matt’s Mom and my Mom have both sourced art for me. Matt’s Mom gave us a painting by Matt’s Grandpa. My Mom’s friend gave her two water colours that he painted. They’re all great farm scenes, and I really like how the blue and green tones contrast with the beige paneling. (Note that despite the photo differences below they’re all close to the same size.) Which would you pick?
We are definitely at the fun stage of the mudroom. These are pretty quick, inexpensive, easy projects. All of these little details make the room function the way we need it to and personalize the space for us.
What’s your first project of 2022? How do you handle storage at your entry? How many hooks is enough?
The mudroom is painted. The mudroom is painted. The mudroom is painted. Yay! Yay! Yay!
(And we even have some hooks.)
The spray painting was a bit of a saga, but not because of the spraying. The first sprayer I rented ended up being double booked (and I was the odd woman out). After a quick scramble I found another sprayer to rent, but when I got it home, it didn’t work (turned out to be a clogged hose). Third time’s the charm, and I finally had a working sprayer by lunch on spray day.
The spraying itself was pretty easy. I was not a pro by any means, but the paint went on fairly evenly and covered very well.
I decided to do all of the trim the same colour as the panelling (Abalone from Benjamin Moore at 75%). It’s a change from the rest of our house where the trim is painted white, but I like the seamless single colour in the mudroom. Plus, I don’t think white in a mudroom is the best choice for the way we live.
I was able to get two coats on in one day. Each coat took just a half hour. Then I let the paint dry overnight and took off all the masking the next day. When I was able to get a good look at the room, I was proud. The finish is not perfect, but I’m going to call it great. For the V-groove panelling and all the edges we had with the trim and hookboards, spraying was definitely easy.
Here are some lessons I learned from my first time spray painting:
Spraying uses lots of paint. The mudroom is not a big room (140 square feet), but I went through two full gallons.
PPE is critical. The paint aerosolizes. Any time I took off my mask or glasses, I could feel the particles stinging my eyes and throat. Don’t skimp on your protection (a hat and gloves are also helpful).
Have a brush just in case. You can gently brush out drips or “spits” without messing up your finish too much.
Mask, mask, mask. Cover anything that you don’t want painted. For us that meant the entire floor, the entire ceiling, the exterior door, the garage door knob and deadbolt, the archway to the kitchen, plugs, switches and the floor thermostat. Check your masking to make sure it remains in place throughout painting.
Keep the sprayer outside. Switching buckets and setting up the sprayer resulted in some splatters and drips around the machine by the end of the day. I put the sprayer in the garage on a sheet of plastic and pulled the hose inside, which meant that most of the mess stayed in the garage.
The paint feels like a big milestone. I sprayed the whole room by myself and it turned out well. Yay me! It’s also the last item on my mudroom to-do list. Now I can move on to fun stuff like decor and storage. In fact, we’re already using those hooks and have moved in some of our coats.
Have you ever spray painted a room before? Do you have any tips to share? Do you have any DIY sagas to share?
This week I am going to spray paint the mudroom. Honestly, I’m a bit intimidated. I’ve never used a paint sprayer before, and painting a whole room seems like a big place to start. Plus I’m really proud of the mudroom and I don’t want to mess it up.
But I feel like a sprayer will give me the best finish (provided I do it well) and be fast. If it ends up not going well, I’m reminding myself that most of the walls will eventually be hidden behind coats, cabinets, a bench, mirror and more.
As I prepare to tackle this new-to-me DIY, I thought I’d share some of the ways I make a project like this less intimidating. I’d love to hear your tips as well.
Take some time to figure out the best way to approach your project. I started by investigating the options for painting the V-groove panelling. Was there a really fluffy roller that would work? (Answer: Maybe, but the finish might end up a bit goopy. And I’d still have to do a lot of cutting in that would take a lot of time and also maybe not give me the finish I’m looking for.)
Once I settled on spraying, I called the rental store and booked the sprayer. I have since watched a lot of YouTube videos for the exact sprayer model that I will be using as well as other paint sprayers. I want to understand how they work and the proper technique.
YouTube, online tutorials, a manual, professional advice–there are lots of resources to help you tackle whatever you’re looking to do. You’re not in this alone.
Take your time
I am not a fan of jumping right into a project. I like to plan and think things through. I gave myself a week to reserve the sprayer, prep the mudroom, gather materials (more on this below) and learn as much as I can about paint spraying.
For spray-day, I’ve also tried to give myself as much time as possible. I’m picking the sprayer up first thing in the morning, and my Mom is booked to pick Ellie up from preschool, so I don’t have the pressure of a ticking clock when I’m painting.
Taking your time may mean booking time off work or having childcare lined up. Clearing your schedule means you can focus on your project and feel less stress.
Gather your tools and materials
When you’re taking on a new project, you may not know exactly how everything is going to go and exactly what you’ll need. Having your tools and materials ready can make things go more smoothly and ensure you’re prepared for the unexpected.
Maybe you’re going to try some plumbing. Have a bucket and extra towels, along with your full toolbox and any specific plumbing tools (wrenches in multiple sizes, a roll of teflon tape, etc).
I have my paint ready to go. I also have extra buckets, rolls of masking tape, sheets of paper and plastic and PPE.
Two heads are better than one. Many hands make light work. There’s truth in these sayings. Even if your helper doesn’t know what they’re doing either, sometimes it’s easier to figure things out together.
One of my friends suggested meeting up this week. I invited her to help me mask the mudroom–yes, I’m that kind of a friend. As she is also that kind of a friend, she said yes. A second pair of hands will make putting up the plastic to protect the cedar ceiling much easier.
Friend, family, neighbour, partner–lots of people are willing to help. Don’t be afraid to ask.
Focus on the reward
I am so excited to have the mudroom painted. Not for the painting itself, but for what comes next. Storage, hooks, decorating–all of the fun stuff. The thought of getting to the fun stuff motivates me to get through the painting.
Plus, if the spraying works out, I’ll have a new skill to add to my DIY repertoire.
Other rewards of DIY are saving money, finishing a space, fixing a problem, beautifying your home.
DIY can be intimidating. But like anything there’s a learning curve. Each project I tackle builds my confidence for the next one and the one after that.
If you’re thinking of trying something at your house, go for it. With a bit of preparation, you can make it happen.
How do you prepare for a new-to-you project? What’s a DIY skill you’ve learned? Is there a project that you’re nervous about tackling? Any tips for spray painting?
We had our first snowfall. We’ve had flurries, but yesterday there was finally enough snow to stick on the ground for a few hours. The time for outdoor work is coming to an end, and I’m glad that I crossed painting the mudroom door off my list a few weeks ago.
I chose a grey-turquoise, Knoxville Gray from Benjamin Moore. In pictures it looked like a nice, dark, saturated, not too bright turquoise. On the BM website, it looks grey. (And on a dim snowy day it looks quite blue.)
As I started to paint, I was questioning my choice. It was grey.
I had nice weather. It was a preschool day, so I had time.
I. Was. Painting. The. Door.
I envisioned speeding into town to get the can retinted to more blue, more green, more colour.
And then it started to dry. And it wasn’t grey. It wasn’t blue. It wasn’t green. It was the perfect nice, dark, saturated, not too bright turquoise.
Next up, painting the rest of the mudroom (an inside job that will hopefully begin this week).
Who else has questioned their colour choice mid-paint job? Do you have any outdoor projects you’re trying to finish? Have you had any snow yet?
The mudroom stairs are done, and I’m really happy with how they turned out.
For a refresher, we have a tile floor in the new mudroom. There are two stairs up to the landing that leads into the kitchen, and each step is also tile.
Our contractor and I debated how to finish the edge of the stairs. On its own, tile doesn’t have an attractive edge. I didn’t want a rubber or metal nosing–too industrial or institutional. We also had to contend with the risers, which I did not want tiled.
Our contractor suggested wood and had his stair guy fabricate risers and nosings out of maple. They are beautiful. But they needed some kind of finish to protect them from scuffs and dirt and marks–this is a mudroom after all.
I tested a variety of stains. I wanted something that was a similar tone to the cedar on the ceiling. I also tested a grey with the idea of making the wood blend with the tile.
A commenter on my last post advised that maple “does not take a stain well and the stain often looks un-even.” He was right. Most of the samples did not look good at all.
The grey wasn’t bad, but I felt like the maple deserved to be highlighted. I know the trend is to have continuous flooring, not broken up by other materials, but the nosings are such a beautiful wood. I didn’t want to hide it under a grey wash.
The “Natural” stain was pretty subtle, but added a bit of brightness to the wood. So that’s what I went with.
I gave the stairs a good sanding, as they had gotten a bit dirty over the last few months. I taped off the the tile and baseboards. And I applied the stain.
After letting the stain dry, I then covered it with four coats of varathane, sanding lightly between each coat. I want as much protection on these stairs as possible.
The finish turned out really well. The colour is not an exact match to the cedar, but it’s close and I think it highlights the maple nicely. The surface seems pretty durable and is holding up to being stepped on multiple times a day, sometimes with shoes on.
I also feel really good crossing this task off my mudroom to-do list. Progress may be small and slow, but it’s progress.
Have you been able to cross anything off your to-do list recently? Do you have mixed flooring at your house? How do you mix tile and wood?
When the wall of the pool was removed to frame up the openings for the new garage doors, I had a few regrets about turning the pool into a garage. I had a great view from the kitchen island out the side of the house, across the lawn all the way to the barn.
Not regrets in terms of, “Stop the project! I don’t need a wall on the side of my house!” But more, “Wow that’s a lot of light and what a nice view.”
Well, the view is no more. The mudroom wall has been filled with insulation, covered in vapour barrier and sheathed with plywood (on the garage side). I don’t even have a view out the mudroom door, as that opening has been covered in plastic (we will, once the door arrives).
But the regrets are easing. We are inching ever close to the mudroom actually being part of the house, which feels like a pretty big win.
Two beams are sitting in the new garage. This week they should be installed in the archway between the kitchen and the mudroom and the patio door will be removed (good riddance).
Framing in the opening means that tile can be laid and paneling can be installed on the ceiling and walls.
Outside, the roof is shingled and new board and batten siding is almost done. I feel like both of these items are a journey in colour.
For the roof, I knew what shingles we used on the rest of the house, so our contractor was able to get an exact match. Exact except that the other shingles are 9 years old and apparently pretty dirty. I had expected the old shingles to be sun faded and lighter. But instead they’re darker. Massive pine trees, dirt from fields, dust from the road, air pollution? Who knows what all is on them? But the new shingles are already starting to blend (or my eye is just getting used to them).
For the siding, I was trying to complement our existing red brick and the new garage doors. And I was referencing tiny sample chips, just a couple of inches wide. I called my contractor’s stain supplier and asked for a sample can, and they offered me a gallon. So I held my garage door sample up to the brochure, picked a light, warm neutral shade and crossed my fingers that it would work.
Right now, I love it. It looks good with the brick and is such a light, clean sight out the kitchen window. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it works with the garage doors (ETA unknown). Please don’t let them clash.
Also, please appreciate the precision of the spacing on the siding so that the light is exactly centred on the board. My contractors’ care and attention to detail consistently impress me. All of the lights across the front of the garage are each centred on their own board. The windows on the end gable wall have the same spacing all the way around so that trim is even. The battens are prenailed like this so that all of the nails line up perfectly.
Doors may end up being our speed bump (literally) on this project. I got word last week that the person doors are another 4 to 6 weeks out–even though they’ve been on order for nearly 2 months. I’ve had no word on the garage doors. So that view out across the lawn is going to be a while yet.
But, tile and panelling are on-site and ready to go. We’re also ready for soffit, fascia and trough, which will nearly finish off the outside.
It feels a bit like we are moving onto the finishing stage. Not necessarily finishing–although that is getting closer, doors notwithstanding. But installing the finishes like siding, paneling and tile feels like a good milestone.
Who else is a cross-your-fingers-paint-picker? When do you feel like you’re nearing the end of a project?
Ellie’s room got an update just before Christmas when we took apart her crib and set up a bed.
I had always envisioned this bed in the space. This was my bed when I was her age. Before that, it was my uncle’s bed when he was a child. It came from my grandmother’s family’s furniture store.
It is solid wood. Clean lines. Great quality. With super cute cubbies built into the headboard.
The finish was natural wood, but a little bit orange for my taste and also for her space. I didn’t want to change the other parts of her room. The turquoise paint on the walls, the grey wood toned dresser, the white bookcase. Those were all staying, so I needed the bed to work with those pieces.
I was a bit worried my Mom (the caretaker of the bed) wouldn’t like my plan to paint the bed, but she was all for it. A few coats of my go-to Cloud White by Benjamin Moore (in their Advance finish, which is good on furniture), and it was exactly what I had envisioned. And my Mom was thrilled, both that the bed was being used again and that it looked so fresh with its new white paint.
Ellie’s room is not large, so we could only fit a single bed. We rearranged some of her other furniture to make everything fit. It might be a wee bit tight, but everything fits (including her tractor) and the layout works for us.
And, best of all, the transition from crib to bed went pretty well too.
Who else likes secret cubby-holes? Have you repurposed any family hand-me-downs at your house? What is your crib-bed transition story?
Nothing tragic happened. I started painting the cabinets as I’d planned. But the whole “started” thing felt hard.
I felt like I was restarting this makeover. I was removing hardware, shelves, drawers, doors. I was patching holes and sanding. I was priming.
Ugh. Prep is not the fun part of DIY for me. Although Ellie enjoyed having a new fort.
Even once I started painting, I wasn’t having fun yet. It just reminded me that I don’t like painting cabinetry. All of the angles, molding and curves that need to be cut in, all of the different pieces that need to be primed and then painted–twice. Just not my favourite.
So that’s a lot of complaining.
Sorry to be a downer.
Snapping out of it now.
I started painting the china cabinet. Yay!
This was a maybe on my initial task list, so the fact that I got to this part of the makeover is a good accomplishment.
The dining room, which had brightened up a lot already thanks to the lighter paint on the walls, gets brighter every day as the wall of dark brown cabinetry slowly goes fresh creamy white.
I really feel like the white paint is going to transform these circa-1990s entertainment units into a super functional and beautiful china cabinet.
I have another coat to go, but I think it’s doable before the big reveal next week. Next week! We’re almost at the end of this One Room Challenge.
Before we get to the end, check out the other participants’ progress at One Room Challenge.
Does anyone else struggle with the prep part of DIY? Have you ever had a project where you feel like you’re starting over? Are you yay or nay on painting cabinetry?