Get Your Own Kick in the Pants – Duluth Trading Company contest

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People often ask me how I do it all. How do I find the time to DIY, blog, parent, and keep up with housework. I am here to tell you that I don’t do it all! I don’t usually cook amazing meals for the family. In fact, we’ve had nachos or chicken nuggets more than I’d like to admit. Laundry does pile up, but somehow I get it shoved in the washer and dryer twice a week. Folding it is a different story, because Pretty Handsome Guy folds all the laundry. Yup, I won the lottery on that one. He sits in front of Monday night football, golf or whatever sport is on TV and FOLDS IT ALL. Cleaning? I keep the bathrooms somewhat sanitized, but normally things aren’t picked up and put away until the day before the sweet housecleaners come.  I’m embarrassed to admit that I pay someone to clean my house, but honestly I came to the realization a while ago that I just can’t do it all.

Regarding DIY projects, I have to admit to you that I’ve recently been procrastinating. My poor younger son had been hounding me for months to give his room a makeover. After all, his big brother got his own fabulous woodland themed room. I was just about to start working on his room when the whole kitchen debacle happened. My youngest was remarkably understanding for a 6 year old. He patiently waited over a year as I finished the kitchen. But, after that last shelf was hung, he began his pressure again. Frankly after 13 months of hard core renovation, I wanted to just relax, daydream and smell the roses (so to speak.)

Installling Brick Mural Wallpaper | Pretty Handy Girl

That’s when my friends at Duluth Trading Company must have gotten a call from my youngest. [Read more...]

Our DIY Latex Mattress: the Savvy Rest Serenity {+ Giveaway}

A DIY Mattress?! How I Chose a Savvy Rest Mattress | Pretty Handy Girl

A DIY Mattress?! How I Chose a Savvy Rest Mattress | Pretty Handy Girl

Disclosure: Here’s the disclosure before you start reading. I was sent this mattress in exchange for a post. BUT, here’s the whole truth (and nothing but the truth.): I chose to approach Savvy Rest because I REALLY wanted to share their product with you. Once you learn a little more about latex mattresses, it is going to be a sleep changer for a lot of you! Savvy Rest was nice enough to consider my proposal and agreed to send me the mattress in exchange for the promotion on my blog. Just so you know, I choose the brands I want to work with because I love the products. If I don’t like a product, I don’t blog about it. This is one of those products that I have recommended to my friends, family and anyone who will listen to my ravings. I wasn’t told what to say or write. This is my opinion and my story: 

When I shared our master bedroom plans, I told you that it all started with getting a new mattress. And, I have been dying to share the information about that mattress with you! I literally have to control myself from stopping random strangers on the street to tell them about this amazing latex mattress that I discovered. In fact, as I sit here typing this post I’m worried that it’s going to sound too much like an infomercial because of how much I love our Savvy Rest Serenity latex mattress.  In a nutshell, here are the main reasons I have fallen head over heels in love with it:

  • It is amazingly comfortable and supportive. We’ve been sleeping on it for a month now and my back aches are GONE!
  • Organic! No chemicals, no off-gassing, no bleaching! The cover is made with natural cotton and wool. The interior layers are natural latex.
  • Eco-friendly because not only are the materials natural, but this mattress will last you at least 20 years (often times latex mattresses can last 30 – 40 years or more!) This means less waste going to the landfill! And you know how passionate I am about keeping things out of the landfill.
  • It is completely customizable to your comfort and support needs. (As well as separate customization for your partner.)

Sounds good right? But, this isn’t your average mattress. I like to call this a DIY mattress because you literally pick three distinct latex foam layers to customize to your comfort needs. First, you choose either talalay or dunlop latex or a combination. Then you can choose between soft, medium and firm. This offers you more options than you can count sheep!

A DIY Mattress?! How I Chose a Savvy Rest Mattress | Pretty Handy Girl

Let’s not forget about your spouse who likely has completely different comfort needs. He or she can chose their own comfort layers when you select the Savvy Rest Serenity split queen or split king mattress. This is the key to a happy marriage, is it not?!

A DIY Mattress?! How I Chose a Savvy Rest Mattress | Pretty Handy Girl

But, I want to back up and discuss a little more about how I realized we needed a new mattress and how I decided on a Savvy Rest mattress.

Do you need a new mattress, too? [Read more...]

Plans for a Master Bedroom Makeover

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Do you know that book, If You Give a Mouse a Cookie? Yeah? I feel like I’m literally living inside that book, only the title is, If You Give a Blogger a King-sized Bed. It was inevitable. We finally made the switch to a king size mattress. Without getting into too much information (because I will be sharing with you in the near future, the mattress we chose and why it is the LAST mattress we will ever have to buy), we decided to upgrade to a king size mattress. When we brought the mattress in, we found out we needed to rearrange our room. And when we rearranged the room, we realized that our new arrangement would cover up the dandelion wall mural that I painted. And, since we were covering up the dandelion, we might as well paint the walls. And if we were painting the wall, wouldn’t it be cool to have dark walls with a white bed? And if I wanted a white bed, I needed to build a new bed. (Because, you know me…I have to build my own bed, instead of buying one.) And after I built the bed and put it in the room, I’d realize that we needed new curtains, new bedding, new….well, you get the picture right?! If you give a mouse a cookie…and on and on. Who understands these trickle down DIY projects?

I began pinning some inspirations for our bedroom.

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Some of my favorites are: [Read more...]

Painted Lampshade and a Quick Guest Room Makeover {Lowe’s Creator}

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Painted Lampshade & a Quick Guest Room Makeover | Pretty Handy Girl

My mom was coming to visit his month. Since she’s a repeat guest, I wanted to give the guest room a little mini makeover for her. With the addition of some new pillows, curtains and a painted lampshade I gave it a new look in an afternoon.

Here’s the before:

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And the after: [Read more...]

How to Create a Rustic Wood King Headboard

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How to Create a Rustic Wood Headboard for $80 | Pretty Handy Girl

I’m back with more progress on the beach condo. I am really excited to share this tutorial on how to create a rustic wood headboard with you because it caused quite the buzz on Facebook and Instagram. This has to be one of my favorite projects that I completed in my stepmom’s beach condo. (You can see more pictures of the condo renovation on my sister’s interior design business page. Be sure to like her page, she has some great renovations to share.)

My sister, Caitlin, wanted me to make a unique rustic wood headboard for the master bedroom. Her budget was running low so she turned to Pinterest for some ideas and showed me this picture as inspiration.

I followed the link to a retail site where you could purchase the headboard for $2,195! {Cough, choke, gag…this was well out of our budget!} When we tallied the receipts, the lumber and materials to build our own king-sized headboard came in around $90 from Lowe’s! Woot woot!

And best of all, it is a relatively easy project that anyone can do if they have the right power tools.

Materials: [Read more...]

Upcycled FREE Room Divider becomes a King Size Headboard

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DIY Room Divider King Headboard

I’m still working on my bedroom re-do, it’s been a long process but it is slowly coming to an end with the decorative part.

After painting the room, my big question was how to make the bed or that whole wall where my bed is going to be located, the focal point in the room.  At first I was thinking about installing wall paper with a nice design, then I thought about using a stencil since its a more economical choice. A painted stencil would also be easier to change later on.  Then, I received a stroke of luck! I scored a cabinet in the FREE section of Craiglist! When picking it up, the owner asked me if I also wanted this room divider:

DIY Room Divider King Headboard

“Of course!” I said and run out of there before he had time to change his mind!  That thing is super heavy! It looked really nice after a good cleaning, up close not that much, something was sprayed on it :( there were lots of spots all around.

DIY Room Divider King Headboard

That’s why I decided to paint it and use it as my bedroom’s headboard.

The materials and tools you will need: [Read more...]

Summer Tour of Homes – Welcome to My Home

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Welcome, welcome! I’m so glad to see you made it. I hope you didn’t get lost.

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Did you just get here from Angie’s house at the Country Chic Cottage? Her home is so cozy and beautiful (so make sure you didn’t miss her stop on the tour!)

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I’m so glad to have you over for the 2013 Summer Tour of Homes.

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It’s hot outside for sure. These North Carolina summers are hot and humid.

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Here’s a glass of sweet tea for you to cool off. Come on in and take a load off in our mudroom.
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In fact, feel free to kick off your shoes and relax with me for the next few cyber minutes. I’m not going to talk much, instead I’ll let you soak up the sights. Feel free to ask your questions or leave a comment after you’re done. [Read more...]

Creating with a Star: Nellie Bellie

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A few weeks ago I told you I was participating in Creating with the Stars. Myself and eleven other bloggers poured over 300+ submissions. I told East Coast Creative that it wasn’t fair that I had to chose my top 10. I seriously needed a top 30 at the least! The blogging talent was amazing and I was honored to be introduced to many new blogs that day. One of those blogs I gravitated to was this blogger’s:

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I just got off a Hangout with this star today. Janel and I are paired together in the competition and we were discussing her project and blogging. This girl is such a good example of one truly creative person. If you don’t know Nellie Bellie yet, go over there now and sign up to follow her because her star is shooting! Really!

Here are just a few of her amazing projects:

DIY Felt Plant

Never Die Felt Plant (using a tea light candle!!! Seriously? Who thinks of that?!)

Okay, so you are one of those lucky people that has a green thumb, well behold her beautiful aqua DIY Wood Lath floors!

DIY Lath Aqua floors

That aqua color?! To die for. The great thing is that she could take the risk and paint them because she didn’t spend a lot of money on hardwood floors.

That girl is so far from risk averse that she even painted her bathroom tiles:

Paint bath tile

Did she stop there? Heck no! She painted her ugly cultured marble countertop and sink too!

Painted cultured marble sink

Okay, but what I really wanted to show you is her son’s bedroom makeover. She poured her heart and soul into this project and it really shows:

The little character in the portal — he’s my favorite.

boy's reading nook closet

Recycling a bunk bed ladder on the wall? Genius!

That is one lucky little dude if you ask me!

I hope you’ll watch and root for us on Creating with the Stars on East Coast Creative Blog these next few weeks.

I think Jess & Monica got it all wrong, I’m the lucky one who gets to work with a star!

Check out Janel’s blog, Nellie Bellie!

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Paint Problems and Surprising My Sister

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Me and My Little Sister Caitlin

I just got back from surprising my little sister, Caitlin in San Jose, CA. My sister’s husband, Ryan, and I conspired to give her a real treat for her birthday. She was really sad when she couldn’t make it to my 40th birthday party. And she has been lamenting the fact that it was taking too long to get her 3 yr. old daughter’s room big-ified (insert big girl furniture and pull out the baby furniture for when their new baby arrives.) One of the projects that was holding them up was painting an estate sale bed frame. Ryan had sanded it, primed it, and then ran into problems while painting it. It was killing me that I couldn’t be there to help them. With over 3,000 miles between us, it was difficult to help only over the phone.

But, with some frequent flier miles and a few secret phone conversations with Ryan, a plan was hatched. I was to fly out to California and give her a grand birthday surprise.

View over San Jose, CA from the Airplane

The ruse was perfectly planned and timed. Ryan told Caitlin that he was going to the hardware store to pick up some things to finish the bed painting project that had gone awry. Meanwhile, he was actually picking me up from the airport. Upon arriving home, he told her, “Honey, I got everything I need to finish painting our daughter’s bed.” And then I rounded the corner. The look on her face was PRICELESS! You can watch the short video of her reaction if you want.

 

Caitlin’s Surprise from Brittany aka Pretty Handy Girl on Vimeo.

 

 

Ryan and I got busy working on repainting the bed the next day. Here is what had stalled the project:

The paint Ryan had used was Ben by Benjamin Moore. And it was bubbling and gumming up. It wasn’t until I started stirring up the paint can and pulled out a big wad of gummy paint at the bottom that we realized he had a bum can of paint.

The date on the can was almost a year old. Now, Benjamin Moore assured me that it still should have been okay if it had been stored properly. But, for whatever reason, it just gummed up on us.

We returned it to the Ace Hardware near their home. And they kindly upgraded our paint to Benjamin Moore Regal which boasts a paint and primer in one can.

The paint was better, no bubbles or bumps, however, we were still having issues with the paint drying very fast. I have to tell you that I’ve painted in heat before. But, we were having a very hard time painting that day. I’d brush on the paint, and could only brush through it one or two more times before it started to dry! CRAZY! I couldn’t understand what was going on. So, I contacted a few experts:

1. Diagnosis by Benjamin Moore Paint expert (I called their 1-800 number).  The Benjamin Moore Regal line is good paint, but it dries much faster than the Impervo (that I am used to using.) The other possibility for the fast drying time is the weather conditions. This makes sense because it was 96F in San Jose, but it was dry. Any paint would have dried faster that day as we slaved away in the garage. In NC, when the temperature reaches above 90F, it is icky, sticky, and muggy humid! You are lucky if your paint dries after 24 hours!

2. Diagnosis by Kate from Centsational Girl (a CA native blogger and furniture painting expert)- I figured she’d be a good resource for advice on painting in the CA dry heat. So I sent her a quick message asking for her help. She replied that I should look into buying some Floetrol to extend the paint and dry it slower. Thanks Kate for your quick reply!

We ended up moving our painting operation inside and that helped a lot. We didn’t buy the Floetrol, but I figured it might help y’all in the dry environments to know about it.

One other issue I had with the Regal Select was that there were a few spots on the furniture that we had sanded a little more thoroughly (through the separate coat of primer that was applied), and the stain or underlying paint kept coming back through the paint. I have to say, I am not exactly thrilled with the Regal “Paint + primer” in one. I suggest that you save yourself the headache and prime with a primer before you paint. Don’t try to cut corners.

Here are my lessons learned on this project:

  1. Check your new paint can carefully, if when mixing it creates a gummy blob at the end of your mixer, return it immediately!
  2. Use high quality paint to save you headaches and hassle. If we had driven the few extra miles to the Benjamin Moore store to buy Impervo paint (instead of the Ace Hardware where they only carried only a few Benjamin Moore lines), we would have had better painting results.
  3. If you have to use paint you already have and are working in a dry region, add Floetrol to it or move indoors.
  4. Don’t try to eliminate steps with a paint + primer in one product. Spend the time to sand your object, prime it, and then paint at least 2 layers of paint.

The five days I was in CA flew by, but we did accomplish a lot! My little niece has a big girl bedroom now and they have moved her baby furniture into the new baby’s room.

My little niece seems to like her big girl bedroom! She loves to stand on her bed and peek out the window now.

And check out the dresser that Caitlin refinished and hand-painted herself! Reminds me of a Miss Mustard Seed original!

I think she’s pretty talented, don’t you?

We added the “You are my Sunshine” vinyl graphic to the mirror.

Caitlin also wanted a art on the wall. She picked out a graphic from Leen’s site.

And I hand-painted a similar graphic onto the wall. After doing the dandelion mural in my bedroom, I knew this one would be a snap.

We also repainted this bookcase to match the new color scheme.

Finally, Caitlin found this tutorial written by Jen Duncan for sewing roman shades. She sewed the roman shade herself with just a few questions for me. (It was quite comical because neither one of us are strong at math.) But, we finished, and in the morning we had JUST enough time to hang it before leaving for the airport.

That little blue chair in the room was the first piece of furniture I ever painted. I painted it for Caitlin while I was in college. A long, long time ago.

Caitlin already had the curtain panels. She chose the roman shade fabric to coordinate with them. I love it!

I had so much fun surprising and helping my sister. Plus, it was fun working in and around a girly room. There is so much testosterone flying around my house (1 man + 2 boys + 1 male dog) that pink is not a color usually seen.

What do you think? Do you like my nieces’s big girl room? Have you ever surprised someone you love? I wanna hear!

Ringing in the New Year – Hanging New Blinds

Happy New Year! I love January 1st. It is a new beginning, with new goals, resolutions and a chance to start fresh.

We had an open house style party on New Year’s Day. I was talking with my friend Leslie about how little changes can really make a big difference in your home and attitude. It is better to make some small alterations to your home instead of waiting to make bigger changes. We all have many reasons for waiting:

  • Lacking Money
  • Lack the skills
  • Lacking a vision
  • Lacking time
  • Lacking motivation
  • Insert your own reason here!

When we first moved into our home I didn’t want to do anything to our master bathroom because I knew we would need to gut it one day.

But, I can’t tell you how awful I felt every morning as I stepped into that hideous bathroom.

Finally I stopped waiting and made a few changes. I didn’t rip out the tile, I just added some paint, stain and new fixtures. And it really made me happy! Sure I still have to step into a harvest gold tile coffin to shower. And I will have to wait until we have the funds to renovate the room one day. But, at least that room makes me happy for now.

So, in the spirit of a fresh start, I decided to give our Master Bedroom a little face lift this week.

Our bedroom was the first room we painted when we moved in, and I stopped loving the room last year. Especially when these showed up!

Yuck, I’m not sure how our roman shades got stained. I think it might have been from the vaporizer I run in our bedroom because I can’t find any other places where water could have penetrated the window.

I admit, I was in a holding pattern. I found myself stalling, thinking that I had to wait until we scraped our ceilings. Then we could re-do that room.

The truth is that I had all the supplies to give our room a mini-facelift. Back when Layla posted about her new window treatment in her master bedroom, I was all eyes!

Our bed is situated in the same location as her’s (in front of two windows.) I had struggled with what to do with our bed and those window until I read her post. Luckily, I was able to find these natural grass shades at Bed, Bath & Beyond on clearance. $9.99 per blind! SCORE!

Thank you Layla@TheLetteredCottage for sharing your window treatments!

But, I waited another 2 months to do anything with those blinds! Sheesh, I can’t believe it took me that long to pull on my big girl “go ahead and do it” panties?

I started by removing the old stained blinds. Sadly I sewed them myself only three years ago. Sniff, sniff.

Then, I held up the new blinds to the height I wanted them. I hung them higher than the window to give the illusion that the window was taller, and also to be sure not to block too much natural light from the room.

Made a mark on the wall with pencil.

Next, I used a level to mark a line across the whole window.

I measured the width of my blinds and held up the first bracket at one end. Lucky for me I had already located a stud near the one end of the blind. (Read about stud finding HERE.)

Here is the first trick you NEED TO KNOW about hanging any window treatments! Those screws that come with blinds will not hold up your window treatments over the long haul even if you are screwing them into a stud. Especially if you have small children that may try to play Tarzan on them one day.

The wimpy 1″ screws are not long enough to go through the drywall and into your studs. And DO NOT expect them to hold if they are simply screwed into drywall either.

Be sure to purchase some extra drywall or wood screws that are 2″ long.

Also have some of these wall anchors on hand at all times! They screw into the wall when a stud is not behind your bracket. I can’t tell you how much better these are than those cheap wall anchors that you get for free.

Next I drove the screws into the bracket using my cordless drill. (Finishing off at the end with a screwdriver.) I used two of the wimpy screws and two longer screws.

I repeated the process to hang the other bracket. Then followed the directions for hanging the blinds I bought.

I was able to hang the other side the same way and used my level line to make sure both blinds were hung at the same height.

Next I adjusted the cord stop and pulls to fit our windows. Because the blinds weren’t custom made for our windows, they hung down below the window sill. I started by closing the blinds to the bottom of our windows. Then moved the small stop bead to the top of the cord.

Next I moved the pull knobs to a location in the middle of the blinds, added new knots to hold them there and then cut off the excess.

Next up on Pretty Handy Girl. How to hang curtains and a no-iron way to iron your curtains!

Plus, I have some more frugal changes that cost me – ummm – nothing! I added a big graphic element to the side wall (Tutorial HERE.) I know, sorry to tease you like that, but if you follow me on Twitter, I gave away the secret there.

Until then, I encourage you to embrace the New Year by making a small change to a room you really don’t like.

  • Try hanging a new picture.
  • Try hanging new blinds or curtains.
  • Cover up something you don’t like with fabric.
  • Buy some new throw pillows.
  • Change around your accessories.
  • Or switch out your bedding.

If you have a little more time and energy, It really is amazing what a new coat of paint can do for a room!

So, please don’t wait. Make yourself happy! Change out something today! It doesn’t mean you have to buy something new.

I am planning on swinging by our local Goodwill this week. You should have seen the lines of people donating their items before the new year (myself included!) I bet there are some treasures to be found this week.

Addendum: Monique sent me an email asking if she would be at risk of electrocuting herself when using the longer screws. Good question Monique. Here is my answer:

When I used the 2″ screws I was screwing them into the studs. See THIS post to determine how to find a stud. It is about halfway down the post past the bench assembly. Electrical is not normally in a stud, occasionally it is run through a stud, but the 2″ screw is actually only penetrating the stud about 1/2″ to 3/4″. Sometimes electrical wires are fed through a hole in the stud, however, it is normally centered in a 2″ x 4″ stud, so about 2″ back. But, normally electrical is not run up near the ceiling through studs (where I was hanging the blinds). The electricity for your outlets is down near the outlets. The electrical for your ceiling light would run vertical from the switch and up through the ceiling. Most of those wires are either loose in the cavity between the studs or stapled to the middle of the stud (about 2″ back).

If you are mounting your bracket into the drywall cavity (not a stud) I wouldn’t use just the screw. That is where I would use the plastic toggler anchors that I showed above. The cavity in the drywall is 3 3/4″ deep (the width of a stud.) Should an anchor touch the electrical (which that would be rare, it is sheathed in thick plastic and would normally flex away from the anchor. Plus, because it is plastic it wouldn’t conduct electricity.)

In other words, long explanation short, you don’t need to worry about shocking yourself if you are using anchors in the hollow areas and 2″ screws into the studs.

Sharing this project at these FABULOUS link parties: