Monthly Archives: March 2016

Kid’s Bedroom – Stage 6

I wanted to do a quick post on some of the dinosaur accents throughout the room because they are all so adorable.

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I found these really great prints on Etsy from Wild Life Prints. If dinosaurs aren’t your thing, they have all kinds of animals to choose from.


This gem of a print–a T-Rex in a Cosby sweater — is available on Etsy from CollageORama.

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I scattered dino planters along the window ledge in the bed area. I originally planted real succulents in them and roughly four seconds later, the kids had spread dirt all over the room. Andy said, “I feel like that’s on you.” Fair enough. Now they are dirt-free and planted with plastic succulents. I would also like to note that when I purchased these on Etsy from Crazy Couture, both my husband and my mom scoffed that we could have made them ourselves. Probably. But sometimes you just need to make purchases to forward the plot. Worth it.


This awesome mounted T-Rex fossil is the view from the bed. It was a gift from the grandparents. I believe it came from Pottery Barn Kids, but I don’t think it’s available anymore.


This Paleontology 101 Banner came from The Land of Nod.

Kid’s Bedroom 1 – Stage 5

266 265I found this vintage school desk for my 5-year-old son’s room on local It was in very good condition, but in need of some sprucing.

We wrapped the edge of the desktop with painter’s tape to protect it from the spray paint.


We created a makeshift spray booth out of cardboard boxes and went to town with navy Rustoleum spray paint.



I paired the vintage desk with a more modern Eames-style chair, which I found at Retro Furnish. (I purposely did not choose a school desk with an attached seat because my son is pretty tall, and I’ll get more years out of it if I can swap out different chairs as he grows.)


Here is the end result of the two paired together:


It’s just the right size for him, and he likes having a play and homework surface in his room. I like that the Play-Doh goes on the desk rather than in his bed. Sometimes. Like half the time. Thirty percent of the time, Play-Doh doesn’t end up in the bed. I take my victories where I can get them.

Kid’s Bedroom 1 – Stage 4

I am obsessed with The Land of Nod Outlet in Naperville. If you live in the Chicagoland area, it is absolutely worth a trip. Great bargains abound, especially on furniture, which they will wrap and load into your car. (It’s located next door to the Crate and Barrel outlet so you can shop grown-up sales, too. Everybody wins.)

I found these lamps for super cheap at the outlet.


I wanted to do something fun with them, so I bought some navy and green ribbon to create a rugby stripe around the top and bottom of the shade.  (This was ultimately for a boy’s room, and I figured a rugby stripe is about as butch as a ribbon project can get.)


It was super easy, and I just used tape to secure it. Here was the result:


Fine, right? But ultimately just fine. It seemed too boring for an otherwise really fun room, so I abandoned that idea and found a chevron fabric in the same color scheme.

My mom used fabric spray on the shade and wrapped the fabric around, tucking the top and bottom into the inside of the shade.


The final result:


Much better.

Kid’s Bedroom 1 – Stage 3

Our son, amateur paleontologist that he is, wanted a dinosaur-themed room. I was on board with that, but stayed classic with the fixed elements so that I can update the accessories as he grows without having to repaint or replace the curtains.

We chose white for the trim, a light green for the walls (Benjamin Moore Mellowed Ivory), and a navy herringbone for the Roman shades. Next step was the bed.


We were upgrading to a queen-sized bed for him, and it was hard to find one that was appropriately scaled. A traditional fabric or wood headboard would have looked too heavy and would have obscured the light from the windows. So I went with this iron bed I found on

Here’s a photo of my poor dad assembling it with “help” from the boys.


My son chose Dwell Studio dinosaur bedding, which I paired with a navy moving blanket from The Land of Nod, and a throw pillow from Etsy.



The final layered result is here:



Kid’s Bedroom 1 – Stage 2


I really wanted Roman shades for this room because of the abundance of windows. Blinds would have looked meh and traditional drapery wouldn’t have made sense with this setup. I wanted an easy way to enjoy the sunshine by day and then definitively block it for bedtime so our son wouldn’t awaken us at 6 a.m. daily. (It turns out that we love our children more when they don’t jump onto our sleeping bodies at the crack of dawn. Go figure.)

I looked into purchasing Roman shades and nearly passed away when I priced them out for nine individual windows. It was ridiculously expensive. So my mom offered to make them.

We chose this herringbone pattern from the Joel Dewberry Modern Meadow collection.


She looked up instructions online and set to work. She’s a handy lady and quite the seamstress, but I think she would describe this as one of the most frustrating home improvement projects she has ever undertaken, and has vowed to never attempt a Roman shade again. (For that reason, I am not posting a how-to because she was dissatisfied with the directions she found online and ended up improvising in a way that only befits an experienced sewer.) That said, they look amazing and totally professional and she saved us a ton of money. In return, we vow to never put her in a nursing home.

Here’s the end result, in both open and closed positions.

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You can also see the small fan we installed over the bed area. I needed a small-ish fixture, but this one was even teenier than I realized. I was feeling unsure about it until my son saw it and said, “Oh, I love the propeller light!” Done. Now I just pretend that was my plan all along.


Kid’s Bedroom 1 – Stage 1

So the first thing we had to do throughout the entire house was update the wiring, which included massive tear-outs of the plaster. It was a huge mess, and we hired electricians. (Electrical work is like a siren song to Andy — he can’t resist it, and it always ends badly. So our new agreement is that we hire professionals for all electrical work. Unless he wants to up his life insurance, in which case, I’m open to it.) We also had the electricians add overhead lights to the bedrooms while they were at it.

Then we had to figure out what to do about the setup of the radiators. (Pictured below).

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The wood was somewhat warped, and we didn’t want to leave the radiators exposed anyway because our sons don’t have any sense and would happily touch blazing sources of heat with their bare hands. Repeatedly. Andy decided to build his own radiator cover, which also meant that the only feasible thing to do was paint the woodwork.

A word about that before we proceed, because I know people get really uppity about painted wood. Here’s the thing: We couldn’t match the existing wood or stain to the radiator frame. Portions of the woodwork in the room had been pieced in over the years and were comprised of different stains and varieties of wood. And white trim just looks really good. Our compromise was to leave the doors in their natural wood state, but to paint the trim.

Here is the view into the room after the wall and trim are both painted. (This process included night after night of painting the trim white, followed by night after night of painting the walls. We listened to a lot of NPR podcasts. We’ve never been more informed.)

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After that was done, Andy focused on building the radiator covers. We bought metal sheeting from Home Depot (we chose this cloverleaf pattern) and painted it the same white as the trim. Here are the sheets hanging to dry in the basement:

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He also had to build support frames for the covers, which had to be removable so that we could access the radiators for maintenance. The solution was this design below. The back wall shows a completed frame; the right wall shows a frame in progress.

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Each frame is screwed into a wooden block (there are three separate segments, one for each wall). The frames can be easily popped off to access the radiators when necessary, but are screwed into the place the rest of the time.


Here are the completed radiator covers, wall paint and white trim below. (With the tools of the trade scattered around for authenticity.)


Kid Bedroom 1 – Before

The room we designated for our older son, age 5, was the former master bedroom in the house. (The current master was the result of an addition in 1988.) It has a lot of vintage charm, including a sun-filled room that was an addition sometime in the 1940s, plus a huge closet and an en-suite bathroom. Not a bad deal for a kindergartner.

Here’s what the room looked like at the start:

This is the view facing into the room from the doorway. (The bathroom door is on the right.)

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Here’s a closer view of the sleeping area. Note the vintage window dressings. We think these were from the 1950s or 1960s. They were really something.

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And here’s the view of the main area of the bedroom. (The closet doors are on the left in the photo below; my younger son is on the right. Watching my phone. Because I am a bad mother.)



IMG_8881Next step? Fixing the wiring, then painting, painting and more painting. Stay tuned.

Ready for House 2.0 Posts – Finally

It has taken a while to get this blog up and running. Our piecemeal progress does not make for dramatic HGTV reveals and is mostly determined by budget, time constraints and how long it takes to get our children to bed. Before 9 p.m.? Paint brushes all around. After 9 p.m? Our desiccated husks collapse in front of Netflix.

As a refresher, we bought a fixer-upper in the Chicago suburbs–an American four-square built in 1913 that underwent additions in the 1940s and in 1988. We’re trying to restore it in a historically sensitive way, and we’re doing as much of the work as possible by ourselves. You know, like Chip and Joanna. Except with a lot more swearing. Like, a LOT more.

The team includes me, my husband, Andy, and my mom, Mary. We also have two young sons who “help” as well. You know, by going rogue with a paint roller or flushing sponges down the vintage plumbing.

We’ve finished a handful of rooms now, and I’ll start posting the photos room by room so you can see what we’ve done and where we started.

Word to your mother.