Prepping for progress

So much life and work has been happening in the past week. Along with so many of you, I haven’t had much uninterrupted time to spend working on home projects. Little Five had two days off from preschool, the Hub was slammed with a tidal wave of work, and then we had the Big Snow. Even though I couldn’t get to them, two projects have lingered on my mental list: finish the kids’ bathroom, and make the computer desk for the living room.

I know I already shared photos of the nearly complete bathroom, but I’ve discovered that the beadboard wallpaper definitely needs a second coat of paint to (hopefully) protect it from little dings and gouges. The baseboards still need two coats of paint. I’ve yet to frame and hang the artwork on the empty wall. The tools and the register cover are still hanging out on the floor in the hall.

If anything, this week of busy-ness has demonstrated how useful that new desk is going to be. After the 8 or 10 inches of snow we received on Tuesday, the Hub decided to work from home on Wednesday. He took my laptop and settled at the desk in the master bedroom, which is is the most private workspace in our house. I took my work (blogging and working on a grant application for the nonprofit organization on whose board I sit) and worked at the desktop computer in the living room. I’ve complained before about the computer armoire–how the kids stash their garbage behind the monitor, how the doors refuse to stay closed and the pull-out keyboard tray has lost all its ball bearings–but working there really emphasized the lack of good task lighting and a surface to spread papers and materials while in the midst of a project.

It’s true that I didn’t get either of these projects finished, but I did take some small steps toward making them more likely to happen next week. I took Little Five to the paint store and bought more of the paint I had run out of. I bought the trestle legs for the desk, and picked out which discarded closet door I’m going to use for a desktop. I pondered and consulted the rest of the family, and decided how long to make the desk and how to finish the top (a dark stain plus furniture wax). I bought Citri-Strip so I can strip the paint on the door. The Citri-Strip will later come in handy to start on Miss Seven’s long-awaited dresser, and the paint to freshen up the trim and door in the downstairs powder room.

It didn’t feel as if I accomplished much, but it’s good to know that when that slice of time appears in my schedule, I’ll be ready to jump into these projects and finally cross them off my list.

Kids’ bathroom progress part 2…almost done!

So, so close.

Since last week, I finished painting the gray walls, installed two shelves on the wall over the toilet, hung the beadboard wallpaper, scraped and sanded the old caulk off the baseboards and reinstalled the shoe moulding, caulked, and painted the beadboard wallpaper. It’s obviously not a big room, so it took 15 minutes here, an hour there. Still to do: paint the baseboards and perhaps give the beadboard a second coat, and finish hanging artwork. I was on a roll and probably would have finished yesterday, but I ran out of paint. But if you don’t look at the baseboards, it looks good!

For fun, here’s the evolution of this bathroom over the past 6 years:



This is how it looked before we moved in. Certainly not terrible, but the details became annoying after we lived with it for a while. Wallpaper, shower doors (have you tried bathing a squirmy baby when you can only reach half the bathtub?), two-toned hardware. And a toilet paper holder waaaay too far for a kid to reach when he needs it!

First attempt

First attempt

After the first major set of changes to make this bathroom more functional for three small children: removed the shower doors, installed hook rail for towels, painted the vanity and changed the hardware, moved the toilet paper holder, stripped the wallpaper, changed the light fixture. At this point I wasn’t really sure where the color scheme was going.



Now, the gray and white is a cool backdrop for the kids’ bright towels and accessories. There aren’t any heavy glass shower doors to clean or worry about safety (one fell off the track once–very scary!), and there are plenty of hooks to hang towels, robes, and wet bathing suits. The colors feel more like us, and the room functions much better.

How much did I spend on this final stage?

  • Ikea shelves: $30
  • Ikea towels: $22
  • beadboard wallpaper: $19
  • wallpaper paste: $5
  • 1 quart Heather Gray paint: $2

The rest of my supplies I already had…caulk, white semi-gloss paint, etc. I got my wallpapering tools from Freecycle! Even though I need to buy more paint to finish the baseboards, I have lots of other trim in the house that needs a fresh coat.

I’m very pleased with the beadboard wallpaper. For a novice like me, it wasn’t difficult to hang. As I hoped, caulk and paint disguised my sloppy edges and less-than-precise measuring. It only took about an hour to measure, paste and paper that half wall.

Ikea towels come with loops for hanging!

Until I get around to buying that paint, I’ll focus on hanging the rest of the artwork. Miss Seven will be pleased when I get the stack of frames out of her room and onto the wall.

Bubble prints made at the school art fair

Kids’ bathroom progress


One of the items on my New Year’s resolutions for the home is to finish the face lift of the kids’ bathroom. It already had one makeover three or four years ago, when I stripped the floral wallpaper, repainted the vanity, and changed the light fixture. Later I added a chair rail with hooks for towels and sewed a shower curtain. But once I added some colorful accessories, I decided that the wall color no longer worked.


I bought a couple quarts of gray paint from the mistake bin at Home Depot ($2/quart for Behr Premium Plus), and along with a few tester pots I already had, I slapped several test swatches on the wall. I figured that would motivate me to get it painted. It didn’t motivate me as quickly as I thought it would (maybe because I enter only to turn off the light, flush the toilet, and pick up wet towels). But yesterday I finally spent an hour prying off the shoe molding (someone put silicone caulk on it that paint won’t adhere to, so it needs to be sanded and repainted) and putting a first coat of paint on the walls.

The paint is darker than I first envisioned, but I think I like it. (It’s called Heather Gray by Benjamin Moore, according to the label on the can.) I have white beadboard wallpaper to put under the chair rail, so along with the vanity and all the white tile, there is plenty of contrast. I’ve been saving a stack of the kids’ artwork to display on the wall above the chair rail, and I’d like to put two floating shelves over the toilet.

Later this year, I hope we can have an electrician update the wiring in the bathroom and raise the light fixture several inches, so it isn’t sitting against the mirror. Then I’d like to frame the mirror, probably following these instructions.

I’m excited! I plan to finish painting today, and follow through with the wallpaper over the weekend. It will be my first attempt at wallpaper, but it’s only half of one short wall. Tomorrow might involve a mad dash to Ikea for some shelves. While I’m there, I might pick up some legs for the computer table for the living room. It’s so gloomy outside that the prospect of completing a project inside makes me very happy.

Are you in the middle of any DIY projects?