$15 to a Functional Office

Yes, you read that right, 15 dollars!!

I seriously feel like I won the Goodwill lottery with this luckiest furniture find EVER – especially since I had zero dollars in the budget to furnish this room!

But I really should back up and start this story from the beginning.

On move-in day we had all the rooms clearly purposed, so that all of our arriving belongings could go straight to their new homes. The poorly drawn floor plan below shows each of our upstairs rooms (mostly to size), and their respective uses.



After all the boxes had arrived and the moving trucks pulled away, our Office/Bedroom 4 went from looking like this:


To this disaster area:


I slowed picked my way through all the artwork and decor over the next few weeks, but  it stayed in this state of disarray longer than any other room in the house. I closed the door to the headache inducing yellow room at the top of the stairs, and let myself move on to something more pressing. I knew we didn’t “need” this room anytime soon.

My exact plan for this room involves a rotation of uses in the years to come. Here’s the five year plan: first an office, then a nursery (eventually – don’t get excited), then a guest room.

I was totally happy to leave this room as a closed-door staging area until I stumbled across this gem at the local (and incredible) Goodwill.


I’d seen it a few days earlier, but this time I was with my mom (the visionary) who turned the hutch around (it was backwards) on top of the desk to reveal what a useful piece it was! I think everyone was simply confused by it as it was setup before.

The best part (no secret, from the photo above) was the price!


But it gets even better!!

The sweet lady at the register asked if I was eligible for the discount. Not knowing what she meant, I shook my head no and was still delighted to pay only 20 bucks for an awesome piece for my home! Then she asked if I was shopping with my mom (who was behind me in line), and if she was eligible for the Senior discount. She absolutely insisted on giving it to me, and I was shocked to learn I received another 25% off my entire purchase! In the end, I paid 15 dollars for my brand new (to me) office furniture!

It took two SUVs to get it home that evening (I don’t miss you at all NYC subway/delivery fees and scheduling restrictions!). Mom and Dad helped us get it out of the vehicles and up the stairs. And… there it sat for at least a month, until I was ready to paint and place the unit in its final resting place.


It had its share of nicks and scrapes, but a furniture marker made those mostly invisible with only a few minutes of attention.


My next step was choosing the right paint color for the walls.

As you can see from the earlier photo, I’d already painted a few samples on the wall (SW Software, and SW Special Grey), but they really weren’t sending me. I couldn’t decide if it was the yellow glow that was affecting them – or if I just needed to go back to the drawing board.

As I completed painting a few other rooms in the home, I realized that I was really loving a lighter and brighter palate. Since this room only had one window, I was really concerned about making it too dark with a moody gray on the walls. I also didn’t want to go through the hassle of repainting this room as it transitioned from office, to nursery, to guest room. I needed something neutral ENOUGH, but also fresh and calming.

One day, I just went for it. No sample pot – just give me a gallon of SW Online. I’d held the paint chip up to my collection of colors I already loved in my home, and I could see that it matched well in its vibrancy and lightness. I hoped it would give this room individuality (by not repeating a color from another room) and still and give me that feeling of continuity, freshness, and “bringing the sunshine indoors” I was looking to achieve.

Screen Shot 2017-05-18 at 3.42.23 PM

I didn’t even move the bookshelf – because I couldn’t get it to budge on my own- but I did stand on top of it and paint around it…truly professional grade work here folks.


That night I asked my husband to help me move the desk away from the wall, and I finished painting and trimming during nap time the next day.

Sadly, this photo is pretty grainy – but you get the idea.


We needed to solve a safety issue with the hutch before we could load up the bookshelves, and luckily my parents came by a few days later for dinner.

My mom had a fantastic idea (are you noticing a theme here?!) for adding a piece of decorative trim to brace the hutch edge where it met the base. (I’ll get you  visual momentarily). There were scratch marks on the top of the base that looked like this piece might have fallen before when the front edge of the bookshelf splayed under the weight of the books it would hold.


With a little guy running around, we wanted to make sure this thing was solid. We added two brackets to the back of the piece to hold the hutch to the top. Then, to prevent the edges of the bookshelf from slipping off the sides we used trim nails to attach small pieces of decorative trim to each side of the hutch. (I’ll stain these eventually).


They are surprisingly solid and are holding the hutch in place wonderfully!!

The office (per the usual) still has a long way to go before looking truly finished, but here’s where this one 15 dollar piece, a piece of trim, a coat of paint, and a 5 dollar chair (that still needs a lot of love) got us.


Since I’m currently blogging in my new office, I’d say it’s a pretty good sign that this room is moving in the right direction.

Now the next important decision…do I place my DIY pizza box artwork directly across from my desk, or is that a recipe for disaster?? And cravings?


What inspires you as you sit in your office? Scenes that reflect the view you’d like from a vacation home? Inspirational quotes are everywhere right now, but I’m just not sure they will last the test of time.  Suggestions are welcome!!








Nap Time Paint Job

It took me 3 months to start “decorating” my toddler’s room.

I was pretty overwhelmed by the rest of the house, buying furniture, and taking care of a toddler in general. It’s also important to note that almost all of my decorating and painting projects take place while the little guy is napping, so naturally his room was one of the last to see any real improvements since moving day.

His room was actually the very first to be semi-setup on moving day. I wanted all his toys and books, and everything familiar to be out and in place before he arrived at the new house. I felt important to me to be clear that this was his special place. It might have been 5-6 times the size of his old room (see photos below), but he didn’t have any trouble knowing which direction to run when we said let’s go play in your room!



HIS NEW ROOM: On Moving Day

kips room

We lost a lot of vertical storage space, and the view from his new window is quite different, but the crib, chair, changing table, rug, lamps and toys all stayed the same. The only new items were the curtains (left by the last owners), a bookshelf from my in-laws’ basement, an IKEA play kitchen (a belated Christmas present), and a children’s table and chair that my Mom tried to gift us in NYC but there just wasn’t enough space!

Every new item (with the exception of the children’s table) still needs to be replaced or repainted.

Sidenote: Yes, I am planning an IKEA play kitchen makeover and I’m PUMPED!!!


The space was functional, but I never really enjoyed spending time there.  It felt unfinished and a little sterile – especially after I put all the toys away…which I do with OCD regularity at nap time and bedtime.

I pictured eventually adding wainscoting or bold stripes, and definitely some color! I had LOTS of ideas, but I couldn’t figure out a time to actually complete any of my visions!!

Sources Left to Right: Bedroom 1, Bedroom 2, Bedroom 3

I was contemplating a father-son weekend (just so I could get in there and paint, work, and create), when my toddler’s 2.5-3 hour naps suddenly dropped to 90 minutes.

I was completely devastated, but now there was no reason not to risk shortening his nap by putting him in another room in the house for nap time. I’d need to work FAST, but if I prepped while he was awake, I felt pretty sure I could paint one?? wall in that time? (In case you don’t know, I’m optimistic to a fault).

I figured I’d start with a navy blue feature wall, and work my way around the room during other nap times (as necessary).

Looking back, it was a pretty risky idea, but I was so desperate to make a change in his room – I just went for it!

Here was the plan:

  • Prep room as much as possible before the nap begins.
    • tape baseboard
    • move furniture away from walls
    • layout drop cloth
    • have paint and tools in the room
  • Begin painting as soon as I exit the “nap” room
  • Paint back wall with roller
  • Trim with brush and edging tool
  • Second coat if possible (read: if there’s enough paint left, or time left)
  • No snacks, social media breaks, music, or unnecessary noise that might wake the babe.
  • No down time until the wall is painted.

For once, my daunting plans actually worked out pretty well! He gave me a full 2 hours of nap, so I had enough time to complete the painting and put the room back together, but not enough time to clean my brushes or even sit down.

Needless to say, as good as it felt to actually accomplish a MAJOR project during nap time,  I was exhausted!!

So let’s see some photos…

We started here at the beginning of nap time.


One thick coat of paint got us here:


Then came the hard part…I strongly dislike “cutting in” – probably because I’m terrible at it!

I taped the baseboard before nap time, so that would be a cinch. I also bought a plastic paint guide at Lowe’s hoping that it would speed up my corners and clean up my ceiling lines.



No such luck. I abandoned the guide after spending twice the time cleaning up it’s spillover all over the wall next to it. My walls must not be square enough for this guy to be helpful.

I worked hard to finish as quickly as possible, and from this view it didn’t look too bad!


You can see a true representation of my true skills when you stand in the corner by the step stool and look back:


YIKES!! (Please remember I was on a 90 minute deadline here!)

The other corner (that I did second – and without the guide) looks much better:


Without the overhead light on you can almost see how warm and pretty the blue is. I chose Valspar’s Deep Twilight Blue. It makes the room feel warm and cozy in a way that I never thought a single wall could!


I imagined that this blue would fight with the preexisting buttery neutral walls, but to my delight (and relief!) I don’t think I need to paint them at all anymore!!


Don’t mind the spliced baby in the panoramic shot above. He doesn’t stay still and he messes up a somewhat styled room pretty much immediately.

This room is still evolving of course. I need artwork and to replace the curtain rod and tie backs to fit my aesthetic and design. Also, the crib will change to a bed in the next year or so. I’m beginning to be pulled in the direction of a theme, and it’s somewhere in the hunting lodge/woodland animals genre. We’ll see where we land!

I’m contemplating stenciling another set of trees (as seen previously in my NYC kitchen) on the wall opposite the blue wall.


It would certainly take more than 90 minutes, but it might be nice to have a forest again -and I already own the stencil…

Oh man, how many nap times is this project going take?!!