Winter Project Mash-up

Despite the lack of activity on the blog we’ve actually been quite busy this winter. With a lot of our big projects completed, we’re finally able to start working on some of the smaller details. These details are exciting because they start making a house feel like our home. I’m currently obsessed with these “Best of 2012” lists that are all over the internet. So, without further adieu, here’s the Cashwell project mash-up.

1. Type Tray Earring Holder

EarRingImageI saw tons of photos showing how people turned old type trays into jewelry holders. Guess what? I had an old type tray AND paint. So, I thought to myself, “Huh, that looks easy!” Life Tip: When you think it’s going to be easy…it won’t be.  In all honesty, this was the most complicated and frustrating DIY project that I’ve completed. I know what you’re thinking, “Oh, she’s over-reacting, it’s just a little paint.” I get it, I really do…but it’s not. Here’s what went down.

  • Step 1 – Clean the tray. Using warm, lightly soapy, water I rubbed down the whole piece. Making sure I got all the dog hair, dirt, and dust out of all the nooks and crannies.
  • Step 2 – Paint coat 1 of the tray. Since, I decided I wanted a simple glossy white I didn’t need to prime it. Thank God. Do you know how long it takes to paint all those little boxes? They each have 5 faces that need painting. Lets do a little math shall we: 1 tray back + 4 tray sides + (96 boxes x 5 faces) = insanity, epic hand cramps, and tears.
  • Step 3 – Paint coat 2. Yep, you gotta do all that again!
  • Step 4 – Have a mini melt-down because you realize it needs another coat.
  • Step 5 – Paint coat 3.
  • Step 6 – Have a drink during this phase of false security while you watch your handy paint job dry.
  • Step 7 – Simply screw in the eye-hooks and hardware. I thought those little screws would just…oh I dunno, SCREW IN? Nope, they did nothing. I had a perfectly painted tray box silently crushing my will to live.
  • Step 8 – Give up. Contemplate throwing it out the window.
  • Step 9 – Get mad. Become determined to finish this stupid project because you’re not a quitter and you can’t let the tray beat you.
  • Step 10 – Drill TINY starter holes into all 96 boxes.
  • Step 11 – Buy another tiny drill bit. Why, because you snapped that drill bit in half. Yep, those spaces are small and apparently drill bits don’t bend. So….
  • Step 12 – Drill holes in all the remaining boxes.
  • Step 13 – Screw in all eye-hooks by hand. Not skipping a beat when you completely destroy your manicure.
  • Step 14 – Be half-excited when you’re done because you know it’s tainted your soul.

Even though this project wasn’t fun to complete. It’s actually really fun to use. It does exactly what I thought it would do. Having all my earrings and bracelets in one place I can quickly choose a look for the day. However, I do give it a good stink-eye from time to time.

2. Necklace holder

NecklaceImageHi, my name is Christine and I’ve got a necklace problem. I’ve got a really nice acrylic box from the container store; however, I could only fit 1/3 of them into that space. Therefore, I was only wearing the baubles that were easy to find. I knew I needed a solution that allowed me easy access to all my necklaces. After a lot research I decided on a couple of things.

  • How do I organize them? Currently, I had them organized in a box placed into individual sandwich baggies. Even though they weren’t tangled I knew that if I couldn’t see them I wouldn’t wear them. So, I decided that I’d need to hang them up some how.
  • Do I want the necklaces to be decoration? My bathroom only has one wall. So I had to choose between displaying my necklaces or something else. I decided that I didn’t want the necklaces to be on “display.” I wanted to save that precious wall space for other décor (link this to floating shelf post).

My mom found this Elfa tie organizer and I knew it was the way to go. It has tons of hooks for future purchases, the hooks are deep giving my bib necklaces plenty of space, And it was SUPER easy to hang. I decided to hang it in the closest so I can see all my necklaces but they don’t have to be the only décor element in my bathroom.

3. Stair Rail

StairRailImageOur home was built in 1984 (coincidentally the same year my hubs and I were born). It’s common for homes built during this time to have natural, or dark stained trim. Luckily, the previous owners decided to paint all the trim in the house glossy white before we got here.  However, they neglected to pain the stair rails. I’m assuming they didn’t attempt it because they are against the carpet, thus making it difficult to paint. However, I’m not thrilled with the carpet anyways. It’s rather old, lumpy, and otherwise gross. So, getting a little paint on it was the least of my worries. It was a quick win in my opinion.

We already had all the supplies:  paint, brush, and drop cloth. I gave it a few coats of high gloss white and it really makes a difference! The railing blends into the room rather than sticking out…which was my goal. We’ve still gotta paint the long hand rail up the stairs…but we’ve have to wait until it stops raining.

4. Closet Shelves

closetImageThe closet in the 3rd “bedroom” is the second largest closet in the house. So, it was pivotal for it to be functional and be able to organize our stuff. It originally only had 1 shelf about 5 ft. up with a clothes poll below it. Can you say useless?! So, we took that out and measured the space. We decided that we wanted 4 shelves total … because we’re short people and we didn’t want things on the top shelf to be literally out of reach.

Ideally there would be an Elfa shelving solution in every closet in our home. However, this is real life and I had a coupon to Lowes so that’s where we went. We spent WAY too much time deciding, changing our mind, and circling back to the beginning. We decided to go with wire shelves because:

  • Almost no need to clean
  • Easy to install
  • Inexpensive
  • Durable
  • Hold a lot of weight

Not to mention that we know we wont be in this house forever…so I didn’t want to spend a ton of money on closet shelves when we’ve got other important things to take care of. The shelves came with all the necessary hardware and a detailed instruction guide. We were able to finish the project in about an hour.

Afterwards, I popped over to Target and gathered up some clear bins. The clear bins make it really easy to find what I’m looking for. It’s not the most beautiful closet system, but it’s got great personality.

5. Coffee Table vs. Ottoman

ottomanIt became clear that we needed something in the living room. But what to get? Taylor grew up with an ottoman and I grew up with a coffee table. Talk about lives divided.
So, we talked about what we wanted our new addition to do. At first I was weary about an ottoman because I feared that it wouldn’t be as functional as a table. However, after a lot of research it turns out that I was wrong… yep, I’m not afraid to admit that I was wrong.

The ottoman was actually MORE functional than a table. You can sit on it comfortably, you can rest your feet on it comfortably, they prevent clutter, and you can easily put a tray on it to accommodate the need to place something on it. Once we decided upon an ottoman I began searching for the perfect specimen. I had size, price, color, weight, comfort, and design mandatories. Me have mandatories…shocking.  I ended up deciding on a beautiful ottoman by West Elm, who in my opinion can do no wrong. It was perfect!

  • Size: Perfect 3ft x 3ft size for our house
  • Price: affordable and within budget (It helped that Christmas was around the corner)
  • Color: They had multiple colors and fabrics to choose from. I ordered swatches to help me decide upon the color
  • Weight: Not too heavy that I can’t move it and not too light that it slides around
  • Comfort: Very cushy and comfortable
  • Design: Modern with a flair of Moroccan in the leg style…love!

They didn’t sell the ottoman in stores because of the fabric options. So, I ordered her online and would be shipped between 8-10 weeks. WAIT WHAT? 2 months….sigh. It arrived in about 4 weeks…and we love it.

I like big built-ins and I cannot lie

Along time ago in a far away land I was a young girl fresh out of college. I had a shiny new job and something I wasn’t used too…a regular pay check. I skipped down to hhgreg and bought myself a 47inch LED TV and sound system. Yeah. Take it all in. It was something that I wanted for myself that was probably not super useful but freeking awesome! Either way, this TV is now loved by T, so it obviously came with us to our new house.

In our townhouse we had the TV sitting on a buffet table my parents gave us. However, we wanted the buffet table to go back into the dining room along with it’s matching china cabinet. Plus, we didn’t really want the TV to sit on a piece of furniture in the new house because we love the way they look mounted.  The issue was that our house was built in 1984 and therefore not flat screen friendly. Actually there were only 2 options for possible TV placement: mounted above the mantle or on the small wall across from the fireplace.

We decided that the wall was a much better solution for a couple of reasons:

  • We didn’t want the TV to be the first thing you saw when you came in the front door
  • The mantle in our house is tall so we would’ve had to look way up
  • A big black TV on the mantle didn’t attractive and we preferred the mantle to be decorated
  • The TV was too big for the space over the mantle and looked very overwhelming

Once we decided upon a location T and his friend mounted the TV and drilled some holes in the wall to hide the wires. The look was somewhat underwhelming…

This may be the saddest “before” photo I’ve ever seen. Look at it! If this photo had a sound effect it would most definitely be “Womp Womp.”  And before you ask. Yes, that is a giant unicorn candle holder. Don’t judge, when I’m done with it it’s gunna be amazing! Anyway, as you can see we were using a small bookshelf my dad built for me in college. We crammed it with our DVD’s, equipment, remotes and sound system. It’s just plain sad. We knew we had to do something about it but what?! We considered a few options:

  • Buy a TV console unit
    • I don’t know what it is about TV consoles but they look cheap to me. Why? Even the pottery barn ones weren’t anything special but they cost 1000’s. What the what?!
  • Make/DIY a console unit out of a buffet or dresser
    • I had more luck in this department. However, the results were still not what I was going for. Another issue was that these pieces struggled to hold all that I wanted them too. Why? Because they weren’t built for this purpose. A lot would hold DVD’s but the sound system and equipment was a struggle.
  • Create a built-in
    • When I first proposed this option I thought that we’d never be able to afford it. So, I didn’t even take myself seriously at first. However, I came across this image on pinterest and there was no going back. It’s perfect. Clean, modern, simple, and had all the right stuff in the right places.

My hunt for a contractor was on. I asked my dad because he likes building things. I think our conversation went something like this:

Me: Hey, you wanna help us build a TV built-in?

Dad: No, not really.

Me: Ok, good talk.

So, I guess he was out. I asked some people at work and got some names. I called and got quotes from a few people and I was shocked that this CUSTOM unit was going to cost less than a PB TV console. Yes, custom. He asked us to sketch out what we wanted and he’d build it. What?! Have I died and gone to heaven?! I was sold immediately.

Glen, our contractor, came out to our house to measure and gather design ideas. I gave him the photo above and he customized it to fit into our space. While he was there he mentioned that there was a vent on that wall that was going to prevent us from having a wall sized unit. I wasn’t having that. SO, I suggested that we move the intake vent to the other side of the stairs. He called his buddy right there and he showed up about 15 minutes later and said that it was doable. We signed the contract that night.


Over the next couple of weeks Glen worked at his home-based shop to cut, assemble, and paint sections of our unit. Once complete he contacted us to set up a time to install the built-ins.

The install was fairly smooth except for a few minor bumps. The most time consuming part of the first day was getting all the wiring figured out. All three of us drew diagrams to tame the wires. We finally agreed a few hours later. It was actually quite complicated because we didn’t want to drill a hole in each stud for thewires. So we had to work around that. We actually lost air conditioning for a day because the wires behind the unit were so short he couldn’t move it. So, we had to have a guy come out and extend the length of the wires. Sheesh. After those small setbacks he quickly attached the main pieces to the wall with only shelves, trim and touchups left to complete.

Look at that little stinker! She photobombs me all the time! Anywho, Glen came back the next day to finish off the project. He add the trim at the top of the  unit, touched up the paint, added the floorboard trim, added the shelves and wine rack, and prettied it up. And it looks AMAZING! The built-ins make the room look taller and way more sophisticated. And the best part is that it’s actually functional. We get a lot of use out of the drawers, shelves and wine rack. We couldn’t be happier with it. Glen also liked it so much he’s putting it in his portfolio. What?! If the contractor loves it you feel even better about your project! Take a look at the finished piece below.

I just threw some of our current bobbules onto the shelves to decorate. There are a lot of pices from grandparents, travels and various other memorobelia. Like this “Genie lamp from my grandmother, some books from T’s grandfather’s library along with some of our own flair.

I’m sure the items will change and flow with time. I’m hoping to spraypaint a few pieces to start having some sort of color theme in the room. Whats the color theme? Well you’ll just have to come back and find out soon! 😉