Before and After, Decor, Family, Home, My house

Playroom remodel – Phase Two

When you saw our playroom last, it had gone from a messy unorganized space to a more organized — yet still lacking in any style — kind of room. (Read all about phase one here.)

playroom remodel collage

There are so many big problems with this space — fluorescent lighting, wood paneling — but for phase two of the makeover, I’m taking a little baby step towards improvement. Notice in the pic above that there was a big mess on the wall above the original spot that the loveseat was in?  I had attached two bulletin boards to the wall and they were filled with art on top of art on top of art. This was a functioning nightmare. Not too pretty.

Now with the two bookshelves down, I had more wall space to play around with so I picked up a couple Dignitet cable systems from Ikea and got to work hanging them up.

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playroom- 064

Once I had the cables installed, I picked some of the girls classic works of art to hang (using Riktig clips).  I chose some school projects, like Lily’s snowman, and some that they’ve created on their own time, like Sophia’s “Fashion Queen”. Please note the stars for eyes.

playroom - 063

And of course I had to include one of my favorites: a portrait of Lily, made by Sophia out of Fruit Loops. Don’t you recognize her there on the left? Pink smile, blue eyes, blonde curls?

playroom - 060

Maybe this will help…

lily CollageSee?

This room is funny. I can spend time on improving it but it always comes back to the horrible walls. I’m putting off painting them because…well, I’ve had bigger fish to fry in this house. But no matter what I do to fix this space, it’s still got the horrible walls, the horrible lighting, and the horrible ceiling. So, we’ll see. Maybe I’ll finally get my paint can out and cover them up. What do you think?

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But somehow, I just can’t hate a room with this in it.

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P.S. By the way, if you come for a visit get ready to play Barbie Ball. It’s a game that Sophia invented where we all stand back and throw a small suction cup covered ball into the Barbie house for points. Upstairs is 50 points, downstairs is 100, and the rooftop terrace or the shower in the upstairs bathroom are 200 each. Don’t under estimate the girls either. They’re pretty good. Now, if only they could get a college scholarship because of their Barbie Ball skills…

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

Working With What You Have: Kitchen Renovation

I have a problem. I have a really hard time showing you a project that I’ve done until it’s 100% perfect. My kitchen is a great example. I did most of the renovating last year between January and April and though it looks pretty damn good, I still haven’t painted the ceiling and gotten the perfect flushmount so therefore…it has stayed a secret. (Unless you count that picture of my painted cabinets up there in my header!)

But today Emily A. Clark is having a link party and she wants us to share a project that shows “Working With What You Have”. Well now,  that’s just the little push I needed to reveal my not-quite-done kitchen. Here’s the ‘before’ shot:


When we moved in, our house had so many eyesores that the kitchen actually ranked down pretty low on the renovation priority list. (Check out how an elderly man’s office became a sweet pre-schooler’s bedroom, how a beige-on-beige guest room because a princess bedroom, and how a dull wallpapered living room became a fun hangout spot and I think you’ll see what I mean.) Plus, the huge chunk of money that flies out of your wallet with a kitchen renovation was just not something we had…or have, I should say. So, I decided to do a putting-lipstick-on-a-pig remodel.

I knew I would need to work with the creamy-beige laminate countertops and the creamy faux-wood floors. To be completely honest, neither of the two is all that bad. Sure, I’d love to change both but since we might knock down a wall and reconfigure the kitchen someday, I have no desire to invest in counters and floors until we’re ready to make the big changes. But there were still three big offenders that HAD to be changed: the whitewashed cabinets, the cheap lights, and the plaid wallpaper.

PicMonkey Collage kitchen

It took a long time and I did every last bit of the work by myself (Alright. An electrician hung the pendant but the rest was all me!) but I finally got it done mostly done. Here’s the ‘after’.


Kitchen projects completed:

Removed wallpaper

Refinished and painted walls

Painted cabinets

Changed cabinet hardware

Removed bad lighting

Added pendant light (my beloved Hicks!)

Painted interior of the glass front cabinet

Accessorized the counters

Kitchen projects that still need to be done:

Refinish and paint the ceiling (I already have a few test sections up there which I mentioned back in this post.)

Install new flushmount in the center of the room (I already bought it. Just need the electrician to come and install it.)

I think this room is proof that you don’t have to re-do every little last thing to make a big difference. A little paint can go a looooooong way. (And I promise that when I get it all done– I mean, 100% done– I’ll share each and every step of the reno process with you.)

Before I sign off, how about another little before and after comparison.


I don’t know about you but that Hicks pendant makes me so happy that I almost don’t notice the sad counters! (I said almost.)

Make sure you check out all the other “Working With What You Have” posts over at Emily’s link up party today!


Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

House Tour: Living Room

This is another one of those posts where I’m like, “What? I didn’t write that post yet?”. I mean, I’ve talked about our living room’s gallery wall and pink chair plus every detail of our foyer (which is part of our living room), but I’ve never talked about the living room itself. It’s even been featured on Apartment Therapy and yet I haven’t given you a full tour of the room! So, since I’m sure you’ve been dying to know where I got every last bit of it, here is the full tour and resource list. (And of course a beige-tastic “before” photo to start things off!)


living room 021


Paint: Benjamin Moore Teal

Rug: RugsUSA

Frames: Kohls

Manhattan Map: These Are Things

NYC area art: Aaron Straup Cope from 20×200

Canvas prints: Shutterfly

More detailed info about the gallery wall can be found here.


Media Console (we have two pushed together):  CB2

Copper balls: Design Within Reach Annex (read their interesting history here and here)

Apple Bookends: Happy Chic by Jonathan Adler


Woven rag bench: Threshold at Target

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Chair: PB Teen with my custom dye job (no longer available at PB Teen so try this one instead)

Je T’aime pillow: Atsuyo et Akiko

Garden stool: Home Goods

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Roman shades: Handmade by the former owner. They came with the house!

Arc lamp: CB2


Brass candlesticks: Unique Thrift store (about $2 a piece!)

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Coffee Table:  old one from Pottery Barn (similar here)

Couch:  really old one from Macy’s (similar here)

Pillows: printed on left (Country Lanes via Etsy), Monglian lamb (Pier 1, similar here), printed in middle (Nora Jane via Etsy), velvet (Crate and Barrel, similar here), printed on right (Eleen via Etsy)

Pink cashmere throw: Ann Taylor (Yup, you read that right! It was from a few years ago.)

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Lucite Tray:  Jonathan Adler

Brass bowl: Nate Berkus for Target (no longer available)

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living room 070

Foyer table:  Serena and Lily (Scored for less than $100! Read the story here.)

Lamp: Target base and shade

Chevron bowl:  Jayes via One Kings Lane

Runner:  Ballard Designs

Mirror:  it was my grandma’s :)

Hi letters:  Land of Nod with Krylon Metallic Spray Paint (read the tutorial here)

Orange frame:  C. Wonder

Brass bowl:  Nate Berkus for Target (no longer available)

More about the foyer in these posts: the inspiration, the decorations, the table, and the reveal.


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Dining Room and Hallway Paint: Benjamin Moore Coventry Gray

Antique chest:  My parents bought it at a neighbor’s yard sale over 20 years ago!


Map:  Future Map


Snake tray – Furbish

Skull box – a gift

Brass bunny – Antiques and Collectibles Too (read about where I found him here)

Turquoise vessel – TJ Maxx

Chevron urn – Nate Berkus for Target (no longer available)

Hope you enjoyed the Living Room tour. It sure is a lot more colorful than it used to be!



Check out more House Tour posts here.


Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Home

Before and Afters You Won’t Believe

When Pablo and I were looking for a house, my realtor found my “vision” very surprising. She told me that most people just can’t envision what you can do with a house when it looks really bad. I got thrilled when I saw a hideous kitchen with busted cabinets and a 1970s avocado-green stove. Bad wallpaper? Yup, sign me up! You see – I’d rather not pay for a brand-new kitchen that’s not my style. I’d rather get a great deal on the house no one else wants so I can do everything I want to it.  And don’t even get me started on Property Brothers.  I want to climb into the TV and punch those people in the face for not listening to Jonathan and Drew. I mean, if he’s telling you that he can take out that wall and replace the whole kitchen, and he’s offering to do the work for you, just believe it!

So, I love it when I see a before and after that makes a house unrecognizable…in a good way. When I saw the exterior shots of Farmhouse 38 on Emily A. Clark’s site, I had to click over and see the whole thing.

Here’s the before shot of the horrifying exterior. I mean, even I don’t know how they had some vision for this dump.

And the charming after complete with picket fence.

The kitchen before. Fake brick included.

And the kitchen after. I love everything about it. Especially the backsplash.

The stairs before. So creepy, you’d have to pay me a lot of money to go down there.

And the homey after. Love the mismatched frames.

The bath before.

And the beautifully styled after.

Congrats to the cute couple from Farmhouse 38 on their amazing transformation. And make sure you click over to their site to see more detail shots. (You will not believe the backyard. And the other view of the stairs is not to be missed!)

For before and afters of my house, click here.


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Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

Playroom Remodel – Phase One

I’m about to tell you a secret. A big ugly, scary, wood-paneled secret in my house. It’s the girls’ playroom and it’s the place where pink plastic toys go to die.


When we moved into the house, the playroom was one of the big selling points. You see, our last place was a newish townhouse. And for all the great things it did have — a massive walk-in closet, 2 1/2 baths, a pool included with our maintenance fee — it lacked any specific place for our kids to put their toys so we spent many years with a Tinkerbell kitchen in the living room. (I know you think I’m joking but that’s a fact, Jack.) And since we went from having one tiny 6 week old when we moved in to having 2 busy and growing little girls when we moved out, the toys were beginning to take over our lives. (Note: Yes, the girls had a bedroom where some toys could go but since they shared it and it was kinda small, there wasn’t a lot of space for a Barbie playhouse.)

Before we talk about how it got to look like the explosion above, let’s take a peek at what it looked like when we came to see the house. An elderly woman had been using it as a sewing room. And we even find straight pins in the rug to this day just to remind us of it’s former life! Brace yourself for the worst / most hilarious “before” picture. And yes, this is the only “before” picture I have of this room.


Please note everything that’s happening here. Pablo is telling Sophia not to touch anything. Lily is trying to get picked up and Sophia is checking out the massive magnifying glass — which she used to call a “magnet flying class”. Priceless.

I had a grand plan when we moved in (over two years ago!) and it was to create a bright, airy room. I wanted lots of white and some pops of bright color. And I figured the best way to do that was to paint the paneling white and add lots of art in bright frames.

But once we got into the house and really accessed how bad off the other rooms were (bad wallpaper galore!), the playroom just got pushed back on the priority list. And then the mistakes (and toys) starting piling up.

Mistake #1. No system. We were so excited to just have space that we basically just dumped their toys down there and never set up a real system.

Mistake #2: Bad layout. Note the tall white bookshelves in the before pic above. They were attached to the wall and our old loveseat fit right in between them so we just left them there and planned the whole layout of the room around that section. (All because I didn’t want to figure out how to remove them. Come to find out later that it took 5 minutes and a screwdriver!)

Mistake #3: Let laziness take over. Because the room is really more of a storage space and they rarely play down there, we haven’t been diligent about making them pick up everyday.

Mistake #4: No decorations. Sure we hung up some bulletin boards, a disco ball (it was a promise I made before we moved into the house — and a source of pride!) and got a cheap duvet (essentially a piece of fabric) to drape over the old loveseat but other than that, we did nothing. The room needs a little  lot of love.

Let’s take another peek at those tall shelves that were attached to the wall. Note that the girls couldn’t reach the upper shelves. Plus, we were storing Barbies on the bottom, even though the Barbie house was across the room. Not very smart, was it?


Recently, I finally decided to remove the shelves from the wall and lay them down flat to create one entertainment center area and one Barbie area. (Don’t question this, people. If you had a Barbie house, a camper, a convertible Jeep, a hot air balloon and countless dolls and clothes, you’d need a Barbie area too.) One afternoon, Pablo and I spent HOURS down there cleaning and rearranging and when we revealed the new playroom to the girls, here was the reaction. I think they liked it!


They were so excited that they could reach their games and puzzles in the “entertainment center” that they pulled one out and started playing right away.


So far, it’s been working well. The girls do a great  job of cleaning up after themselves and it’s a lot more functional with the shelves down on the ground. Just for fun…one more look at the “before” and “after”…

playroom remodel collage

So, the rearranging is complete but we need to do a lot more. There are still so many things that I hate about the room (the wood paneling, the fluorescent and hallogen lighting, the wretched ceiling) and I’m not sure what I can get to right away.  But there will be lots of cosmetic changes soon: new curtains, new art, a system to display their art better, and lots more function. Stay tuned!


Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

House Tour: Master Bedroom

If you feel like you’ve already seen our master bedroom, you’re right. But you see, I realized when I was writing about all the Urban Outfitters stuff in our house that even though I wrote a lot of posts about our master bedroom (8 in total!), I never gave a proper piece-by-piece room tour with resource listings. (Bad blogger!) So, here it is.


Headboard – found in the garbage room of my first apartment about 20 years ago!

White sheets and white pillow casesLands’ End

Duvet cover – Lands’ End (No longer available. Similar available…well,nowhere!! Read all about my hunt for it here.)

Bed skirt – JC Penney (No longer available)

Shams – Urban Outfitters (No longer available. Similar here.)

Chevron pillow – Lands’ End (No longer available. Similar here.)

Linen PillowAtsuyo et Akiko (I’ve now moved it to my living room where it sits in the pink chair.)


 RugUrban Outfitters


Nightstands – Pottery Barn (No longer available. Similar here.)

Lamps on Nightstands – Martha Stewart  from way back – before the Macy’s & Home Depot lines – when she carried stuff like this on her website. (Similar here.)


Pill-shaped carafe and glassJonathan Adler


Printed curtains – Urban Outfitters  (No longer available. Similar here.) Find out how I magically lengthened them here.

Black curtain rodsIkea

White curtains – Ikea (No longer available. Similar here.)

Hidden curtain rodHome Depot (A genius solution when you want two curtains. Check out the price!)


Vintage dresser – Craigslist

FramesPottery Barn


Lucite tray – Home Goods (similar here)

Square Bowl – gift so I don’t have a resource (similar here)

Footed bowl – I had this for so long, I can’t remember where I got it! (similar here)



For Like Ever posterSuper-Rural

Poster frameTarget


Frame with necklacesPottery Barn (I spray painted it black)

Wrapping paper in frame – Old Navy (no longer available)

Black lacquered boxContainer Store

Red metallic pigDaytrip Jr.

It’s still a work in progress (I mean, why would you ever want to STOP decorating?) but it’s come a long way from the bland creamy cream room it once was, huh?

master before

For more posts about our master bedroom, check out these links:

Master Bedroom Inspiration: Olatz Schnabel

The Hunt for Master Bedroom Bedding

DIY: Lengthening our Master Bedroom Curtains

I Will Love This Poster For Like Ever

Jewelry Storage: A Work in Progress

Jewelry Storage: Phase 2

DIY: Quick and Easy Jewelry Display

 What’s Wrong With My Bedroom


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Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

I Have a Hot Pink Chair!

I have been wanting a hot pink couch or chair for like ever. Remember when I showed you all those dreamy pink pics and told you I was thinking about dying an old slipcover I wasn’t using? Well, I did it!

Here’s the best part: this renovation cost less than $10. That’s right! Ten buckaroos! How, you ask? Well, I already had the chair and a pale pink slipcover. The chair is from PB Teen but unfortunately for you, they don’t make it anymore which I think is a crime to humanity because it’s comfortable, cute and cheap and for quite a while, they were offering slipcovers in different fabrics and patterns. When I got the chair, I picked up three velvet covers: white, bubblegum pink, and pale blue. (What? I figured the chair could be used in other rooms so I wanted to have options! That’s normal to buy three, right? ) Of course, I’ve only ever used the white one.

I decided to use RIT dye in fuschia. The directions called for 1 package of dye for every pound of fabric so I went for three since my slipcover was nearly 3 pounds. I couldn’t find a bucket big enough so grabbed this color-coordinated (!!) storage bin at Home Depot and got to work. First step, fill the bucket with 9 gallons of hot water:

Then I mixed 3 packages of dry dye with 6 cups of hot water and stirred it very well until all the dye dissolved. (Note: it did not stain my measuring cup. Bonus!)

Then I added the mix to the dye bath and stirred. (Please note that I did all this on my deck and I was wearing rubber gloves. They are not kidding about the staining possibilities so take all the warnings seriously! If you don’t believe me, come and ask the few pink dots on my kitchen countertop.)

Before adding the slipcover, I pre-wet the fabric in hot water so the color would penetrate the fabric evenly. (Having the lid to the storage bin was helpful for this step because it gave me something to carry the wet fabric on.)

And then in it went! Next up, I stirred and stirred and stirred for about 25 minutes. If you’ve never pushed a sopping wet pile of velvet around with a paint stick before, I can tell you that you will use muscles you didn’t even know you had. Ouch!

Next up, I rinsed it in the utility sink (which is now pink) in my laundry room. First in warm water, then cooler until it ran clear. This was another special type of muscle torture that I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy! Then the scariest part of all – into my beautiful new-ish washer it went! (Don’t worry. The washer came out unscathed.)

I gave it an air-only dry in the dryer and ta-dah! Here is the finished product!

My wise husband (who so kindly signed off on this project before I did it and then called it “awesome” because he knew how excited I was about it) was the one to point out the patterned pillow was a little too much. So, I stole the Je T’aime pillow (similar here) that used to live on our bed. Much better, don’t you think?

I love how the pink looks against the dark teal walls.

The color came out so even. I’m actually mad at myself for being so scared to do this for so long!

I love the way it pops in the room.

Maybe now guests will sit in the chair. They were always kind of scared of it when it was white.

Oh happy day! I have a hot pink chair!


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Disclaimer: Please do not dye anything hot pink in your home without running it by your significant other. I’ve learned that though there are many people who like the looks of hot pink furniture, there are not a lot of people brave enough to go for it. And there are many, many more people who are terrified of it. Thankfully, my husband is comfortable enough in his sexuality to not be so concerned about a little pink in his house. (Though maybe he should because I could possibly love this chair more than I love him. Kidding, honey!)

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

House Tour: Lily’s Room (Part 2)

I’ve already introduced you to Lily’s room, the space that underwent the biggest change in our house since we moved in. Before we take a look at the details that make up the room, let’s look again at that shocking before and after. Yikesy!


Paint – Benjamin Moore Shell Pink (trim is Cloud White)

Pom pomsParty Poms on Etsy

Custom “Lily” artMadeByGirl

Poster frameIkea

Toddler bed – it was a gift but you can find a similar one here

Duvet cover and striped pillow – Ikea (no longer available)

Polka Dot sheets and pillow – Pottery Barn Kids (no longer available)


Rocking chair – another gift (similar here)

I love how the pom poms look from below.

Elephant taxidermySquackdoodle on Etsy


Mickey Mouse chair – Toys R Us (similar here)

Lamp – Target (no longer available)

Heart mirror – Ikea (no longer available)

Reversible tissue box coverHead to Toe 2009 on Etsy

Ceiling medallionHome Depot

Light fixtureIkea (hung using this)

Curtains – Pottery Barn Teen (no longer available) Stay tuned for a curtain DIY. I need something more opaque and longer so I can move the rod higher up on the wall.

Dollhouse – Land of Nod (no longer available)

Dresser painted with the room’s wall and trim colors from Ikea (no longer available but similar here) with Ikea knobs (no longer available)

Laundry basket – Target (similar here)

Frames with Lily’s paintings – Ikea

Striped fabric – Ikea (no longer available)

Remember that hole in the wall that I showed you? To cover it up, I measured a piece of cardboard and cut it to fit in the hole. Then I just wrapped some fabric around it and taped it in the back. It’s a temporary fix but it’s working for now!

Bin – Lands’ End (similar here)

We repurposed the hooks that were hanging in Sophia’s room when we moved in.

Lily’s hair clips hang on a simple red ribbon.

Jacket by Crewcuts (no longer available) and purse from The Children’s Place.

Bins for books – Target (similar here)

Garbage can – Ikea


Lily’s birth announcementTinyprints

Custom “I Love” art – made for Lily by her Aunt Paola


Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Home, My house

House Tour: Lily’s Room (part 1)

I’m so excited to share Lily’s room with you today because it’s one of the most dramatic before and afters in our whole house. To take a space from “office of an elderly man” to “room of a pre-school girl” is quite a change to begin with, but when you think about the fact that the room had brown plaid wallpaper and tan painted trim, you know we’re in for some drama. First up, the before:

Let’s get a closer look at that tan trimmed window frame. Yikes!

And check out this weird hole in the wall that’s big enough to fit an old-school TV. Purty.

And don’t forget about the floor to ceiling bookshelves, just right for any little girl looking to read about the Giants or Pavaroti.

When we first moved in, Lily was so excited to have her own room that she wanted to eat lunch in there. (She didn’t mind the plaid wallpaper!)

But the plaid survived barely a week – it was one of the first things to go thanks to my dad and brother who came down to visit and strip wallpaper in both girl’s rooms. And even big sister, Sophia, got in on the spackling action.

Then some friends of ours kindly offered to come and help us paint (!!) so about a week later, me and my friend Jules tackled Lily’s room, while Pablo and Jules’ husband Michael painted Sophia’s.

And finally, it was done!

Tomorrow, I’ll go into the details (including my temporary solution for covering that big hole in the wall!) and list all the resources used to make this sweet little girl’s room. (Update: Here’s the link to that resource list.) I think she likes it a little bit better than the plaid wallpaper!


Sue at Home

Before and After, Decor, Family, Home, My house

House Tour: Sophia’s Room (part 2)

Yesterday, I showed you the inspiration and “before” pictures of Sophia’s room. Now here’s my shopping list for how we put it all together. We had a bunch of elements already but we added the vintage bed and most of the accessories for under $700. But first, one more peek at that beigey “before” shot:

And now to the new room!


Hot pink crinkle curtainsPB Teen

Polka dot curtains – Ikea (no longer available but search ebay for Ikea Gronska)

Double curtain rodsPB Teen

Sheepskin rugIkea

Wall paintBenjamin Moore Spring Lilac (Trim is Cloud White)

Ceiling medallionHome Depot

ChandelierKohls (I hung a few extra crystals on it that I had from a broken necklace)

Vintage bed (we paid only $60!) – Autumn Antiques

Duvet cover and pillowcase – Ikea (this pattern no longer available but other patterns available here)

Polka dot sheets and pillowcase – Target (similar here)

Fuzzy bolster pillow – Home Goods (similar here)

Personalized striped pillow – Pottery Barn Kids (similar here)

Quilt (folded at the foot of bed) – Handmade by Sophia’s Aunt Jenn

Cashmere baby blanket (folded at the foot of bed) – Handknit by our friend Jules

Poster frameIkea

Poster – DIY made by Sophia’s Aunt Paola, inspired by Grace Hester Designs on Etsy

Small painting – by Sophia on a canvas from Michaels


Lamp – Target (similar here)

Lego alarm clock – Home Goods (similar here)

Reversible tissue box coverHead to Toe 2009 on Etsy (I love these and highly recommend them! I have one in every room.)

Framegift from Sophia’s 1st grade teacher

Corner shelf – Ikea (similar here)

Unicorn taxidermy (only $25!) – SquackDoodle on Etsy

LettersLand of Nod (They have the most extensive line of letters. All styles, lots of prices. I also love the kraft paper ones – you could do anything with them!)

Mirror – Hand-me-down from my mother-in-law. It was brassy gold and I painted it neon pink with craft paint. (Probably not the best paint option but it’s working for now!) I know it looks really low but it’s the right height for Sophia!

Dresser – Leftover from her nursery by Sorelle from Crib Outlet

Ledges – old ones from Pottery Barn

Small “S” art – by me on a canvas from Michaels

FramesIkea and Kohls (I really need to get rid of those black ones. They just don’t work. Maybe I’ll attempt a spray painting fix.)

Gold, navy and pink art – by me on a canvas from Michaels

Canvas bin for stuffed animals – Lands’ End (similar here)

Woven bin for books – Home Goods (similar here)

Sophia’s room sure has come a long way since the Great Wallpaper Stripping Event of 2010!  (Thanks to Sophia’s Uncle Steve and Daddy!)


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