Meaningful Home Series – Kitchen

About the Meaningful Home Series: This fall I am going to share my home with you bit by bit to show you how you too can create a meaningful home full of more than just “stuff” but instead with things that are meaningful to you and your family. In today’s world of big box stores and cheaply made “crap”, I want to inspire you to fill your home with things you have inherited, collected and found over the course of time – not just stuff you went to Target and bought off the shelf in one trip. I hope you enjoy this peak into my personal life and decor! Last week, I shared my bathroom. It’s quite amazing how much meaning I packed into that small, utilitarian space.

This week, I’m sharing my kitchen. It is a great source of pride for me, because of the “renovation” I was able to complete in the spring of 2012. In a nut shell, I completely transformed the dark, ugly and boring kitchen into a bright, warm space for less than $200, and without any help from my husband at all (other than to show me how to run the chop saw). I’ll go through the exact details in a future blog post, but here’s what I did:

• I made the cabinets faux shaker style by glueing flat frame pieces to the doors. Then I painted all of the cabinets white and added new bronze hardware.
• I painted the countertops. Yes, PAINTED them to look like granite. (This is where the bulk of the expense came in for $90 countertop sealer.)
• I created a faux tile backsplash using drywall mud, auto painters tape, paint and sealer.

The reason I point all of this out is because I want to inspire you to make small changes when you can to make your space something you are more happy with. My husband thought I was crazy when I told him what I planned. He said we’d be better off just waiting until we could completely gut the kitchen and replace all of the cabinets and do everything “right”. Well, I knew that it would be 10-15 YEARS before we could ever think about it, and I could not live with the jungle green countertops any longer!

So moving on to how the space is actually decorated.

kitchen1_TYPOGRFXThe first thing you might notice is that it is open, all the way open to the whole living room. This means you see it as soon as you walk in the front door and it is part of the overall 1500+ square foot great room. Overall, the kitchen’s decor is very similar to that of the rest of the house and includes lots of inherited and collected items. My favorite inherited piece is the table, which my mother-in-law saved from the trash when she was just 16 years old. She gave it to us when we moved into this house. Not many kitchens could fit a table this size, plus it has 4 extra leaves so it can seat 12+ people! My favorite found piece is the buffet, which I purchased for $60 off of a swap shop. The gentleman who had it before said he found it in a landfill in the 70’s and had had it ever since. It was badly water damaged, so my husband made a new top for it out of metal, so not only is it beautiful, it’s functional as extra counter space and great for serving large meals on.


The tops of the cabinets include butcher blocks made by my father-in-law and several antique/vintage kitchen gadgets including an ivory soap box and mason jar lid boxes that are in nearly perfect condition. The “J” is a hand-crafted tile hot plate that my husband’s Grandma Jean made. Also, a very small portion of my pop bottle collection is displayed here too. I once saw on Nate Berkus how if you have an obnoxiously large collection of something – like my bottle collection – that you shouldn’t display all of it at once, but instead choose a variety of the more important or unique pieces to display and rotate them out every now and then.

Another one of my favorite pieces in the kitchen is this vintage bread box. It is exactly like the one I remember my Nan having in her kitchen. When she passed, it was one of the few items I requested and it mysteriously “disappeared”. I was thrilled to find this one in great shape on swap shop last spring.

Even though it wasn’t actually hers, it still reminds me of her. And I get a kick out of my husband who claims I “hide” the bread by putting it in the bread box (yeah, just like I “hide” the socks in the sock drawer and the yogurt in the refrigerator).

I hope you enjoyed seeing my kitchen and all of the things in it that are special to us. And if you’re interested in learning more about my kitchen “renovation” I recommend you contact me and bug me about it until I get it written up and posted. Sometimes I need a little extra motivation to get things done.

Meaningful Home Series – Bathroom

Introduction to the Meaningful Home Series: This fall I am going to share my home with you bit by bit to show you how you too can create a meaningful home full of more than just “stuff” but instead with things that are meaningful to you and your family. In today’s world of big box stores and cheaply made “crap”, I want to inspire you to fill your home with things you have inherited, collected and found over the course of time – not just stuff you went to Target and bought off the shelf in one trip. I hope you enjoy this peak into my personal life and decor!


First up is our bathroom. I know this might seem like a strange place to focus on something important to you, but that’s exactly why I wanted to start with this room of our home. Often times the bathroom is the last place you think to decorate, let alone create a meaningful and inviting atmosphere. I guess you could say that our bathroom’s theme is “antique beach”. Now don’t go imagining cheesy palm trees and leopard print here! (Our bathroom in our old house had both, thanks to my husband before I came along.) The walls are painted a warm, greenish gray and were the only ones in the whole house that didn’t have to be painted over when we moved in. The cabinets are a combination of cream and soft brown – not something I would have chosen, but given the rest of the decor I’ve added, I think it actually works quite well. Overall, the bathroom is large and quite spacious, but since it’s the only one in the house, it better be!

You can see that my decor reaches all the way up to the ceiling. The large column thing on top of the cabinet is a piece of driftwood that was my Nan’s. I remember this thing sitting at the base of the stairs in my Nan’s house (which my mom and I lived in until I was 5). It had some sort of  fiber optic lights inside of it that changed colors and had crazy peacock feathers sticking up out of the top. It’s an unusual thing to inherit, but when she passed nobody else wanted it. Up until we moved to this house, I never knew what to do with it. When I decided that I would decorate the bathroom with beach related items, I knew it would add great visual interest and draw your eye upward. Given the fact that it’s the perfect height to sit up there, I’d say it was meant to be.

Other things that adorn the top of the cabinet include real coral, sea sponge and shells gathered by my husband’s grandmother and mom on trips to the beach. There’s also a fair share of antique glass bottles (something I’ve collected since I was 15).

The “shelf” is actually an old tool box turned on its side and screwed to the cabinet. It’s another one of the very few things the previous owners left behind that I actually liked and kept. On it is more of the seashell collection we inherited, including a large starfish. The frame was a wedding gift and includes a print I found online of an antique beach advertisement. My favorite thing there is a huge shell that was cut in half creating a tray of sorts. My mother-in-law says she can remember her grandmother keeping her jewelry in this shell-turned-tray.

On the counter sits an antique and very unique mason jar that we pulled from a barn on my father-in-law’s century farm. It’s filled with sand and shells from our trip to Florida the Christmas before Ryker was born. On the opposite wall is a collage of pictures from that trip. It’s hard to see, but I was very much pregnant in these. It was both Jackson’s and my first trip to the ocean and the last big vacation we took before Ryker’s arrival.


This photo collage is one of my most favorite DIY projects in the whole house. The top piece is the front off an old dresser that we found buried in a shed (again on my father-in-law’s century farm). It was exactly as you see it here only covered in mud. I cleaned it up and instantly knew that I had to incorporate it into the bathroom. The pretty coral and cream chippy paint along with little flecks of green popping out matched perfectly with the shells we already had. The frames were found in a ditch of a foreclosed house. They were all mismatched colors and some were missing the glass, so I removed all of the glass and painted them cream with splashes of teal, coral and green here and there. I love the way it turned out.


Another farm find was this ladder, actually we have three and this is only half of one of those. My MIL says it’s at least 100 years old, and you definitely don’t want to use it for its intended purpose anymore. I had a hunch that it was the right size to fit on the awkward wall that runs along the front of our shower and above the toilet. Again, perfect fit! It hangs with jute string that’s secured to screws in the top of the wall, so that if we ever decide to take it down there are no holes to repair. It’s decorated with shells, a sand dollar and another antique glass bottle. The curtains along the top of the shower were also discovered in the house that sits on the century farm – left behind by previous renters. They match the colors in the bathroom to a tee!



The last area of the bathroom I want to share is above the toilet. This wire basket was left by the previous owners and adds the right amount of rustic junky-ness to the space. Atop it is a mixed-media illuminated manuscript that I designed in college. It features “A” for Aquarius and various beach/sea accents.

I hope you enjoyed seeing how I’ve transformed a room from one that just meets a basic need of every day life to one that reminds us of our family and the memories we made on vacation!

Tutorial: Vintage “BOY” Hand Painted Sign

Last week I showed you the Pinterest-inspired ruler growth chart I made. But this week, I want to show off one of my favorite DIY projects I’ve ever done, and this one is my original design. I had been working on my son’s room for quite some time which is vintage farm themed, and I wanted to create an old looking advertisement-style sign to hang on his wall. After some research, I decided I wanted it to read ‘Genuine, 100% All American, Country Raised “BOY”.

I started by digging through my stash of boards that I pulled out of my neighbor’s burn pile (seriously, I cannot even begin to list the things I have “reclaimed” from this man’s burn pile. He can’t say anything since HIS burn pile burned OUR entire back field and nearly a trailer and tractor two summers back). Anyways, I found the perfect sized board – a 1×12 approximately 3 feet long.

Salvaged board

Salvaged board

Using a container of craft paint that I mixed up a few years ago, I painted the majority of the board. I left some of the bare board showing through on around the edges. (I did not prime the board for this reason. Plus, I’m lazy – er, efficient – like that.)

Painted green (dark spots are just where it's still wet)

Painted green (dark spots are just where it’s still wet)

Then I added black to the green paint and used a stiff dry brush (aka a brush I didn’t clean properly the last time I used it) to add some aging to the edges of the board. I also painted the sides of the board with the darker green, again leaving some bare board showing.


For the wording, I designed the layout in InDesign, converted it to outlines (to save on ink) and printed it out on the back side of scrap paper. Then I cut, taped and arranged it on the board like so.

No fancy stencils here!

No fancy stencils here!

I traced over the printouts with an ink pen using a lot of pressure. It’s hard to make it out in this photo, but I was left with a very easy to see outline of the design.


Outline of text visible

Outline of text visible

All of the words were painted white. I purposely left the paint thick and somewhat uneven so when I sanded it, the high spots would rub off making it look worn and aged.


I wanted more detail and depth to the design, so I outline “Genuine” and did a drop shadow on “BOY” in a John Deere Green color, then did a drop shadow on “Country Raised” in a warm brown color. I also added a little corner decoration.


After some light and random sanding on the whole surface and lots around the edges, I very lightly covered the whole sign in a walnut stain using a couple of old socks. I would barely apply it using one sock, then use a clean sock to wipe it off right away.  I had to work very quickly and use a very light touch so it didn’t get too dark. More sanding and heavier staining around the edges left it done as show here:


Of course, no vintage sign is complete without a vintage-esque way to hang it. I wanted it to look like an old sign that hung on a general store, so I searched and searched for the right type of bracket. I ended up with a pair of plant hangers from Westlake Hardware and a little length of chain. The brackets and chain were the only thing I had to purchase for this project, so I spent around $8. It’s not quite as rustic as I was going for, but standing 7 feet below it, you don’t notice the hanging hardware. You just see the one-of-a-kind sign!

Completed sign hung

Completed sign in my son’s bedroom


Be sure to check back in next week when I reveal my son’s room in it’s entirety. You’ll see how I’ve managed to create a vintage farm-themed bedroom with more examples of typography than I can count!