Command Centre

Running a household can feel impossible some days. And it doesn’t seem to get any easier. Quite the opposite actually. The older the kids get the more I have to juggle. Not only do we have family activities, but we have daycare, school, work, special occasions, after school activities, sleepovers, movie nights, and those are just examples of things out of the house!

My point is, things get busy. And I am always struggling to make my life more organized and less stressful. Naturally, that prompted some changes at the Dream Home for efficiency.

Do you see this wall right here? It is a small wall that pretty much floats in the middle of our upstairs living space. This view is from the front door of the house. After some planning, I decided to turn it into a “command centre”. Anyone with Pinterest probably knows what that is, but in case you don’t… it’s basically an organized wall for your family. Some of the most common things you would see are: a calendar, whiteboard, menu, paper storage, family photo, etc. Although each family puts their own spin on it.

The issue with these types of walls (and something Pinterest seems to neglect to advise you on) is that you have to have all of your items before you start the wall. They tend to be more of a “gallery” style so you may need to hoard some of your great finds until you’re ready to complete the entire thing.

I used painters tape to mark where I wanted my items to go. It was easier for me to visualize without making multiple holes in the wall. I placed a lot of items on the floor first to get a more accurate idea of what the whole thing would look like. And once my tape was in place and I was happy with the look. I started to place the items (and by I, I mean Dave who was my helper for this project).

A helpful hint for anyone who decided to take on a project like this. Start by hanging your larger items first. The smaller “filler” items are easier to alter if the tape is slightly off.

For example, the first two things I placed were my large family calendar, and the clip frame that takes up the entire left side. The tape was previously there for the frame in the middle, but once they were on the wall I was able to centre my family photo so it floated in between. My calendar I attached with command strips, the others were hung with hardware.

And then it is all about building the items outwards. I tried to always add the next closest item to the centre point. And then complete it’s opposite. So the clock was the next closest item on the top, then you can see Dave working on the closest item to the centre on the bottom.

The most important item for me to have on this wall was hands down a calendar. I am constantly trying to juggle the schedule of multiple people and It was the first item I began to look for. I purchased this one on amazon and I liked that it was magnetic, a white board, and also has a cork frame for adding notes if need be. I added the clock because this being the centre of the house makes it easily seen from anywhere (always convenient) for a busy family. Although a family photo is important, I didn’t want to take up a lot of space with pictures. Let’s face it, this wall is not huge and almost every other main level wall has photos hung. So it didn’t seem like a huge priority, although a small 5X7 did make it into the centre.

The bar and buckets were also important. The larger bucket holds notepads, post-it’s, your standard office supplies for grocery lists and homework. The smaller bucket contains all the writing tools. Pens, pencils, highlighters, markers, etc.

The large frame that takes up the entire left upper side is a wooden frame that contains three metal hooks. I stuck some photos inside but I thought it would be perfect for things like concert tickets while waiting for the show, or programs for pre school graduations, etc. Things that you want to show off but don’t want people to touch or lose.

A metal mail sorter was added to the lower side as well. I added labels which read “mail”, “memo” and “file”. A place for me to stick the mail when I am walking in the door. Once open it will be moved to either “memo” or “file”. Memo will end up being items that have to go back out, maybe things to add to the calendar, etc. And file will be the things that need to be filed away in my office. Paid bills, bank statements, etc.

Now, are you ready to see how it all came together? A few final finishes were added and now we’re in business!

And this post wouldn’t be complete without the side by side before and after. So, let me take you back to the front door view of the entire wall.

Now, down the road we have talked about staining the little entry table to match our kitchen table but after the harvest table we are taking a little break from staining. That project will simply get added to the end of the list of “upcoming projects”.


Dining Series – End Result

I can’t even begin to tell you how many hours of labor went into this project. Mostly because I am too scared to add them all up. It was not easy! And I’m starting to see why people simply gave these chairs away, and sold the table for peanuts. So before you decide to dive into a project of your own, here are a few things to consider:

  • Where do you plan on doing this? If you are sanding and stripping a full table in your garage, be prepared to lose it as a parking space. Are you willing to give that space up for days? How about weeks? And what about the sanding? That produces so much dust. Can you set that up outside? Do you have the area to do that?
  • How confident are you in the project? It’s great to want to take something like this on but be sure you have your expectations adjusted. Is it just surface damage and a new color you’re after? How is the structure of the item? There is nothing worse than finishing a project only to find its not what you want! Especially a project that requires this much work.
  • Do you have everything you need? Sawhorse? Sander? Wood conditioners, stains, top coats, etc? It can be extremely frustrating to start a project only to run into a speed bump down the road when you need to stop everything because you don’t have what you need.

Those points are not there to discourage by any means. As I mentioned, it is a lot of work. But if you are willing to put in the time and effort, you could have results like these for about $100. (Furniture = $40, stain, paint and wood conditioner = $60).

We have a wall in our eating area that we were never really sure what to do with. We had a corner cabinet when we first moved it, but it was never used and seemed to close off the space. When we upgraded our table we had a large decorative shelf in its place. But that also seemed to take up a lot of room for something that was only decorative.

So with all the money we saved on our table and chairs we decided to buy (yes buy.. full price too!) an IKEA bench to place against the wall. The thought process was that when we had company, a bench would fit (probably) four kids, and four adults could comfortably take the dining chairs. It also gave me an excuse to have more throw pillows.


The pillows can easily be changed out with the decor over the years if need be. The bench itself is a medium grey (similar to the chairs). And in true IKEA style, the cover comes off fully so it can be washed or replaced with a new one! Perfect for a kitchen and kid friendly. We all know that no matter how careful we are, and kids SAY they are, messes still seem to happen.

Oh, and I forgot one of the best parts… the bench actually opens right up for added storage! When company comes, I can simply lift the top and store my pillows away before eating. You could also store place mats and other table settings that maybe don’t get used on a regular basis.

We have been living with our table and chairs now for a couple months so at this point I can give you a pretty accurate review. The bench has gotten spills and have been so easy to simply wipe clean with a damp dish cloth. The kids did pile onto it for not only one, but two, birthday parties. The table and chairs clean easily with the added top coat. And we have gotten tons of compliments on the finish itself.


Dining Chairs

After our amazing Harvest Table find I was determined to get some wooden chairs to match. I watched for several weeks on Kijiji and had a rough time finding four or more. They seemed to either be over priced or not what I was looking for. But I kept my eyes open in search of another hidden gem.

And behold, luck a second time around! I scored four solid wood dining chairs, for FREE! They were in terrible shape. Lots of discoloration, staining, scratches, you name it.. they had it. If I was going to explore different finishes then these beauties were the perfect guinea pig chairs. If I ruined them along the way, I wasn’t out a penny. It seemed like a great gamble in my eyes.

At first we thought we would just strip and stain to match the table. But upon examination of the wood we realized it was quite different then the table. Now, anyone who has worked with stain knows that different wood types can absorb differently. Colors will also fluctuate between different woods too. It eventually just seemed like a very bad idea. What if we put in all that work and the color is completely off? I opted for plan B.

I decided it might be a better idea just to paint the chairs a color. Make them into an accent instead of trying to match the table. (Which really is a beauty all on it’s own). I’ve used FAT paint in the past so I was immediately drawn to chalk paint collections for inspiration for the dining chairs. I eventually decided on “Fusion Mineral Paint” after helping my sister paint some dining chairs at her cottage. The coverage was great, they were durable and easy to clean, and I really liked the finish. It was a mix between a matte and a pearl (depending on how you looked at it). So I chose the color “ash” and I got to work!

I didn’t have to prep the chairs very much. Just a good cleaning with some soapy water (I used dawn dish soap), and a light sanding to remove some gunk. I decided to leave a lot of the imperfections on the chairs. It gave them some character and matched the harvest table more by being loved and abused a bit.

It took two coats to cover the chairs thoroughly without any of the light color showing through. Once they were dry, I used a spray varnish to seal them and provide a bit more of a glossy finish. Stay tuned for a final post of the whole thing tied together!



Harvest Table: Refinish

When we moved into the Dream Home, our kitchen table was something we struggled with. The one we had was nice but not our style. We upgraded to a more “contemporary” style with a pretty good find on Kijiji. But it still wasn’t the look we were going for.

We kept the contemporary table and 4 leather chairs until we could make up our minds with that we wanted to replace it with. And with all the other projects we had on the go, it just wasn’t a priority to switch it all around. So we kept our eyes open and waited for a hidden gem.

As you all know, I’m big on Kijiji! I love that site. I watch for great finds all the time. There is a lot of junk and things that are not my taste, but if you keep up with it, there is always some great deals. Someone moving out of town and can’t take their barely used furniture with them, maybe someone who can’t store their treasures anymore. Or, in our case, someone who just doesn’t see the potential.

We picked up this harvest table on Kijiji for $40! It was a terrible orange color, and it was not properly taken care of. There were crayon markings all over it, crumbs and sticky foods. It was a disaster. But a quick trip to Home Depot for some wood stripping supplies and all those flaws quickly vanished. The orange varnish and stain peeled away to reveal some gorgeous wood grain patterns underneath.

Next came a good sanding. This step was pretty much all Dave. Mostly because I didn’t have the patience to get down to the good part. And my arm felt like it was going to fall off from the vibrations of the sander. Look how beautiful she is! No more terrible orange color, all the dents and scratches have vanished. Now, the fun part, picking a color!

We chose MinWax “Dark Walnut” for the stain. Make sure you use a wood conditioner prior to applying your stain, this will keep the stain absorption even. (So no streaks or blotches of any kind). Once you apply the stain and reach your desired color let your surface set for several days to ensure it’s thoroughly dried. Next will be a clear protective coat, especially for surfaces that will see a lot of traffic (like this one).


Wilderness Wall

I can’t hide my love for gallery walls. I’m always looking for an excuse to put one up. So far I have one up in my laundry room and the stairwell. Naturally, when I was pondering ideas for the toddler’s little man cave, I felt like I could create a gallery wall to really take my theme to a new level.

I used painters tape to help me out with the design. I first put a piece of tape where the door would close to. I didn’t want the gallery wall to be hidden behind it, so it gave me a guideline of where to stop. I create a design (on the floor below the wall space) to get an idea of how I want it to look. Then I added tape for each frame located on the ground. This helps me keep everything in proportion.

For the wall, I created some dark stained wooden signs. Two of which contained some of my favourite “wilderness” themed quotes. The other wooden boards contained silhouettes of arrows, a teepee, and bear paws. I also picked up five frames from the local dollar store. I painted two thicker framed ones the same color as my middle mountains on my mural. And three thinner frames the darkest mountain color (to tie the opposite walls together). The five grey frames contained watercolor images of animals (fox, bear, deer, rabbit, and a hedgehog.

Here it is all put together. I hang my gallery walls with command strips (the picture hanging kind). I find it easier to get the placement right without having to put a ton of holes in the wall. However, from personal experience I can tell you that command strips don’t work well on plastic frames. So be cautious with what you’re hanging. In the gallery above, all my pieces were flat and wooden. Making it easy to press in place and hung flat against the wall.

Mountain Mural

As my sons second birthday fast approaches I got the urge to begin the transition of his room. I wanted to slowly make some changes from a baby’s nursery to a little man cave. Something fun but a little more grown up. Peak his curiosity and sense of adventure.

As you all know, paint is my favourite place to start. For $40-$50 you can transform an entire room. It seems well worth it to me.


As you may remember, I went pretty bright in the nursery before the baby was born. A nursery should never be dull or boring. The decals came down, the walls were cleaned, and a base wall color was picked.

Went with a Behr paint (of course)… called Zero Gravity (N450-2). Its a soft grey. Can we take a moment to look at that coverage! One coat of pale grey over a bright green, magic! One of the many reasons I love this stuff.

Once the entire room was painted we moved on to the accent wall. I had seen many versions of the wall on Pinterest. I decided to just eyeball it and use painters tape to get some clean lines.

When choosing the next color I decided to stay on the same paint chip and go two shades darker. Moonquake (N450-4) goes on like a silver and dries slightly darker. I was a bit nervous I wouldn’t get the effect I wanted. It’s hard to really see the vision until you have more dimension. ***Hint: Always remove painters tape when paint is still wet. Otherwise you risk peeling edges.***

Once the middle color was dry, I took it 2 shades darker for my third and final layer of mountains. I wanted the dark mountains to be closer, so there are less of them. Darkest mountains are painted Binary Star (N450-6).

Voila! My mountain mural is complete. Could easily add snowy mountain tops or stars in the sky, whatever you’d like. I wanted to keep mine very simple. This wall is the far wall when you walk in, and will also have the bed against it. So I felt if it was too busy, it might take away from the bedding, accent pillows, etc.

Stay tuned for more updates on our toddler room transformation.




DIY Garden Markers

We recently decided that we were going to try our hand at a vegetable garden this year. Even though the we have a million other things on our plate and we didn’t really have the appropriate amount of time to prepare our soil. We did our best and planted all kinds of things. We figured it would be a trial. We can test the area to see what grows best, what gets eaten by critters, what doesn’t grow at all, etc.

The only problem with that is we have a lot to keep track of. Some rows have different varieties of the same thing, etc. So I took to the internet to see what I could find for garden markers. Behold, I saw that it is a pretty popular up cycle to use paint stir sticks. And since you all know that I paint walls as often as the seasons change I had a very nice stock pile to work with!


I needed about 20 sticks total. We practically live at home depot so all of ours had their beautiful logo on it. I got out my acrylic paint and got to work. I painted each one to match the fruit or veggie that would be going on it. **The acrylic paint covered the home depot print perfectly so it didn’t show through or ruin the design***

Once the paint dried I put a layer of clear coat to make sure they wouldn’t fade from the sun or get damaged by water. Then added the titles! The only expense I really had was the clear coat because I didn’t have any left. $5.00 for a can at home depot.

I used black font on the light colored sticks and white on the darker colored ones. They were a fun project to throw together. The kids love the colors and are extremely excited to start putting them in the ground.

They have also served as a double purpose item. As I was finishing each stick, our daughter was using them to practice her sight words. She can now tell you what each one says!