Before and After: Laundry Room Cabinets

The saga of the laundry cabinets is a long one. Luckily for you, I won’t discuss it now. I will go into all the details next week.

For today, I present you some instant gratification! A simple before and after.

This is what the cabinets looked like when we bought them from a Habitat For Humanity Restore.

Peeling old cream paint, filthy both inside and outside, and many dings and other defects all over that required wood putty. Lots and lots of woody putty.

This is the wall in the laundry room that waited SO long for the cabinets.


I can’t find a true before photo that shows you the inefficient shelf and clothes hanger rod that were there before, but this is the best I could find. The shelf was too shallow, so towels kept on falling off and a little cat kept on making the situation even worse.

And today, it looks like this!


Never mind the stuff on the machines. Focus on the cabinets. And the pretty knobs! The knobs are from Hobby Lobby.


The cabinets make me so happy. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s all worth it.

I’ll discuss later about the other things that we’re working on in that room and what things we want to change (the ceiling light, for one).

But for now… let me bask in the cabinets. You are done, cabinets. D-O-N-E.


Birds in the Sky… or the ceiling, whatever.

Just because it’s been quiet around here doesn’t mean we’ve not been busy! We are making good progress on the laundry cabinets and that thing is ALMOST DONE after so many touch-ups and additions and adjustments. I hope to show you what they look like by Thursday!

For now, I wanted to show you a sweet addition to the nursery that was made by my mom. Here’s the first clue:


Yes, she’s looking up with a puzzled expression.

It’s a bird mobile!


My mom did everything, from sewing the birds to gluing on the eyes to cutting down the branches (bought from Hobby Lobby) and hanging it all up on the mobile. Since she did everything, this is not a tutorial but more like a “Look, how cute! And I didn’t even have to do anything except hang it up!” thing.


The colors she chose are perfect – bright blue/teal, yellow, orange, with touches of black and white.


Janella is in love.


She stares at the mobile when she lies down in her crib and tries to grab the birds when we hold her too close to it.


Yes, a bird is missing a branch. The cats did it. Tala is my number one suspect.


Since our goal for 2012 is to make the house FUNCTIONAL, it’s okay that the nursery isn’t 100% done even though Janella is almost 9 months old (how did that happen?). This nursery is definitely functional. It’s a happy place for all of us. Janella sleeps like a… well, a baby in there.

But I do have some things I want to finish up in there after we complete our laundry room and office to-do lists. For one, we bought three large canvases for that wall behind the crib and Nick is planning to paint a world map on them. I can’t wait for that!

See you Thursday for the laundry cabinets reveal, right? It’s a date, right?

New Ceiling Light: High Enough For Our Tallest Friend

Last week, something really horrible happened. A hit-and-run accident resulted in one of our good friends’ untimely death. Mark Gobble, a Ph.D. student about to complete his dissertation, a newly hired professor at Boston University, an owner of a skateboarding company, a family man, and probably the coolest guy we’ve ever met, died last Sunday. Needless to say, it’s been a tough time.. and even tougher for his wife and two children. You can read more about him in this blog post written by his niece, Brooke.

The world feels different without him, but the world still spins. It still moves around the sun. Janella still wakes up every morning at 6:30 AM with angry demands for milk. And so we must go on.

Mark was really tall – he was around 6’4. Nick’s 5’8 and I’m 5’4 (both rounded up numbers). When Mark came over in October to bring a meal from him and his wife to help feed me and Nick when we just had Janella, we had a conversation about new ceiling lights and how we needed one for our living room, which had a boob light at the time.

We told him that he was our tallest friend in Austin (we have another 6’4 friend who lives in New Mexico.. Hey, Jesse!) and asked him how tall he was… so we could make decisions on ceiling lights and how high they should be in order to accompany him. Since he was taller than everyone else, we could be confident that the ceiling light would also be high enough for every other friend we have.

Well, Mark – we finally installed our new ceiling light in our living room. It looks beautiful… and it’s 6’8 off the ground. Definitely tall enough for you.

Thanks for bringing us to Austin. Thanks for your humor, your intelligence, your grace, your generosity, and for being our friend. We’ll never find a cooler friend than you… or a taller one.

FYI – The photos are NOT styled at all. We’re still missing one side table and we still need to set up our newly sprayed teal lamps with new lampshades. And I didn’t feel like putting away the baby toys. Ignore all of that. Focus on the ceiling light.




To see what our living room really looks like when it’s not cluttered, check out this post.

The ceiling light is HUGE. I mean, H-U-G-E. Gigantic. It’s around 34 inches across. And we love it. It’s perfect. Especially when this was our inspiration photo, from Decor Demon:

I was afraid that it would make our ceiling feel lower, but it doesn’t! I’m really happy with it.

One thing down, only 327,121 more things to do left! PROGRESS.

My DIY Painting on Plywood

Once the gesso on the plywood dried, I was ready to start painting!

But first, I needed to look at some inspiration. I opened my pinterest “art inspiration” board and just looked through it.

art inspiration pinterest

I also grabbed a thank you card that we recently received and set it in front of me, because when we got the card we really loved the colors on it.


Then I rummaged through our paint stash. We have a nice collection of paint – some leftover paint from our walls, our furniture painting projects, and many paint samples. I looked for different colors that were similar to the thank-you card.

And then I just… put brush to plywood and started painting.

painting, first draft, on plywood

This was the first stage of the painting. It was okay, not too bad. I didn’t really like the green — it was a little dreary and I wanted something cheerier, but that was all that I had.

Actually, the way the paint flowed on the plywood… it was all dreary. It looked like things were going downhill… like something was melting.

Then I stared at it some more and flipped it around.

upside down painting on plywood

Much better!

Maybe you don’t see much of a difference, but it just made me feel good about where things were going and I stopped for the day. I knew it wasn’t done, but I wasn’t sure what to do next.

The next day, I took the painting out again and looked at it.

And looked at the thank-you card again.

I felt that it needed something more, a bright color. Oh, orange – I had some left over from the orange closet. So I grabbed that and at the same time, saw glossy black paint and glossy white paint. Hmm, why not.

First, I added some orange and black… and it immediately looked better. I also laid the orange paint on as thick as I could to add even more texture.

adding black and orange to plywood painting

And then I added some white… and I was done!

completed painting on plywood

Wanna see the progression of the painting in photos that are horribly lit? Here you go!

progression of painting

Here’s a close-up so you can see the texture. For future paintings, I definitely want to experiment some more with texture using gesso using different materials.

texture of painting on plywood

I was done but the paint looked dull. The black and white paint, which were gloss paint, looked shiny but the rest, which were mostly in satin or flat, looked… well, flat. I asked my artist mom and she suggested me to use varnish. I found two different kinds of varnish spray at Michael’s – one for oil and acrylic paints and one for general purpose arts and crafts. Since I didn’t use acrylic but latex paint, I decided to use the general purpose one.

varnish general purpose

It worked great – the paint perked up and it’s all shiny and nice now!

Where did we put it? In this weird corner that rests between the living room, the dining room, and the mini-hall that leads to the bathroom and guest bedroom:

plywood painting on wall

I know, bad photo. It’s dark in this corner. I would love to someday add a light at the top of the wall, but we’ll see.

We’ve been talking about putting up a couple of art/frames here to jazz up the corner and to make the thermostat less noticeable. So far, we’ve put up a simple white clock (which has done wonders since we didn’t have any other way to tell time while at the first floor ever since we gave up our DVR) and this painting.

I want to do another plywood painting but this time with very thick and textured gesso and in a tiny size and maybe one color to put right above the thermostat to fill up that space. I also want to find a cute little ottoman to put at the bottom of the wall with a little box underneath to hold all the kitty toys. The cardboard box that’s there right now just won’t do.

Anyway – back to the painting. How did I hang it up? Easy…

using a tab from a can to hang up painting

I hung it up using a tab that I pried off one of our Ginger Ale cans that we save in the refrigerator for sick days. I found this great tutorial and this confirmation by Apartment Therapy that it worked, so I tried it and let me tell you… IT WORKS! It’s very nifty.

I think I’m going to save all the tabs from now on… it’s too bad we don’t drink soda when we’re not sick. Maybe we should start buying canned beer instead of beer in glass bottles…

My verdict: Plywood works great if you already have some lying around. If you want to buy some just for the sole purpose of making paintings, try to get hollow plywood if you can find them so they’re lighter. In small sizes, like my painting here, their weight is just fine. I mean, if a tab from a can can hold it up, it’s not that heavy.

One DIY painting down, 321 DIY paintings to do. I’ve got plans…

Janella’s First Tooth!

Come on, Janella, let’s show these nice people your first tooth!


Open your pretty mouth, dear…


No, no, don’t bite my finger. Open wider!


Your tongue is very cute, yes, but not what we’re looking for.


There we are!

Now you can go back to chewing on Sophie.

That was last week. As of today, she’s the proud owner of two teeth! Geez!

What’s next… will she be begging me to use makeup next week?

December, you came and went in a blink…

Something new, something old, and something blue…

They’re here!!

Our new washer and dryer are here! Beautiful, front-loading, WHITE machines. Love them. Washing clothes has become fun again! (I wonder how long that’ll last…)

We got them on sale, almost 50% off, thanks to Black Friday. American consumerism, I wuv you.

Our washer broke unexpectedly, so we had to get these new machines. And we sold our dryer on Craig’s List for $40. It was noisy and old. We’ll put that $40 to use in the laundry room.

With the new washer and dryer, our plans had to be tweaked a little. I measured everything out and also measured our cabinets. Since our three cabinets are in three different sizes, I had to think about how to arrange them.

One cabinet is 36 inches long with two doors, one cabinet is 18 inches long with one door, and one cabinet is 24 inches long but only 21 inches tall (the other two are 30 inches tall). So I played with all of the possible arrangements (see the drawings along the right side of the paper).

Originally, I had planned to push the washer and the dryer apart on two sides so there would be space in between for our cat litter. But when I looked at the possible cabinet arrangements, it made more sense to have the empty space on the left side.

Then Nick came up with a great solution for the cat litter (more on that later… want to see if it works out before sharing it with you all), so I changed our plans. We’ll put a small shelving unit there to hold our dirty towels and sheets. Something like this, maybe.

You can see what cabinet arrangement I picked by the very obvious circle. I think it makes the most sense and the door and knob arrangement is the most pleasing to the eye… at least, to Elisa’s eye.

We have plentyyy of space next to the machines, so the next step is to either find an unit to fit in there or make one ourselves. We’ll see…..

Right now, I’m working on sanding away the drippy paint from the cabinets. I’m relieved that I don’t need to buy paint stripper – the sanding seems to be working. I’m not worried about sanding away ALL the paint – just the bumpy parts.

Whoa – how’d that picture of Janella get in here?

Two of the cabinets are sanded down and smooth and ready.

OK, I’d better go and sand down the last cabinet. And prime. And paint. And put them up on the wall. And buy the knobs. I’ll probably only enjoy the knob buying part.