Category Archives: For the Casa

How to Apply a Window Film {aka How to Not Flash Your Neighbors}

When we were remodeling our master bathroom, I wanted to do a window treatment that would allow us to take advantage of the natural light while not giving the neighbors a show. We decided to try a privacy film on the window, which gives the glass a frosted appearance so light comes in but creepy peepers stay out.

Surprisingly (or at least I was surprised), it worked great! My husband and I each took turns walking behind our house at night to see if anything was visible through the window. Other than being able to tell that someone was in the room (in the form of a fuzzy silhouette), you couldn’t see a thing!

While I would recommend having a second set of hands to help with the application, the whole process is really quite easy. We used the Gila Privacy Control Window Film in a Simulated Etched Glass finish, but there are multiple brands and finishes to choose from.

Start by cleaning the window thoroughly, making sure to get into the corners.

Measure the size of your window and cut the film, adding an extra inch to each side. If your window is like ours, you’ll need to measure the top and bottom and cut two separate pieces of film.

Using two small pieces of tape (one on each side of film), identify the clear liner. Your window film kit should come with a spray solution: use it to generously wet the window. Get someone to hold the film and, as you pull off the clear liner, spray the newly exposed side of the film. Apply the wet film, adhesive side down, to the window.

Smooth the film with your hands, and spray the side of the film facing you with the solution. Squeegee the center of the film from top to bottom. Go back to the top of the window and squeegee from the center to the right, working downward. Do the entire right side of the window and then repeat on the left side.

Use the edging tool and a utility knife to press down the edges and trim off the excess film on all four sides. 

Spray the film again with the solution and squeegee dry, again working from the top to the right and downward. Repeat on the left side. This is the point that you want to make sure you’re getting out any air bubbles behind the film. Also, use the edging tool to really push the film down in the corners. 

If your window is split (like ours), repeat the entire process on the other half.

Aaaannnnndd. . . you’re done!

“Fun” with Watercolors

Have you ever gone to a museum and looked at a painting and thought, What’s so special about that? I could do that in about 10 seconds! Turns out, that shit is harder than it looks.

I recently put up some new shelves in our dining room, and because I was too cheap to go to Crate and Barrel and too picky to go to HomeGoods, I decided, naturally, that I should channel my inner Picasso and get to work.

After three different types of paint, two hours, and a LOT of “rough drafts” which are far too embarrassing for me to post publicly, I somehow managed to pull off this jellyfish (that, for some unknown reason, I have been calling an octopus since I painted it).

In the end, watercolors won, and I have to admit that I am damn proud of myself. I mean, I don’t think it’s ever going to hang in some museum, but I deemed it decent enough for my dining room.

If you’re new to using watercolors, I would recommend trying a jellyfish because it’s pretty freaking hard to screw up.

Waging War on the Toy Clutter!

This is what the corner of our living room has looked like for the last year.

Our house was quickly becoming one huge playroom, and the Type A control freak in me just couldn’t take it anymore. I don’t mind toys being out and all over the place when we’re home and Olivia is playing. But when she goes to bed and the wine is uncorked, I like to relax in a room that doesn’t look like Toys R’ Us threw up everywhere.

Getting rid of her toys really wasn’t the answer (I’m not nearly that mean!), so organization was the key to my sanity. I knew I’d found the solution to our problem when I visited my friend Jessie and saw this bookcase from One Step Ahead in her living room. It holds tons of books and has storage bins below for toys.

Canvas Sling Bookshelf, $79.95

Done. I went online and bought it the next day. We still had to move some of her toys upstairs because it really was a little ridiculous, but we went from the chaos above to this:

Ahhhh! I really think organization helps me breathe easier, and it keeps me healthy—in part because now it’s far less likely that I’m going to step on a rogue Lego and go flying sideways into the wall.

Easy DIY Paint Chip Art

I have been an art-making fool lately! We had our downstairs painted recently (Luna by Valspar, which is a pale bluish greenish gray), and the new color totally changed the way our house looks. This was mostly for the better, but we suddenly found ourselves living in a sea of blue and green with not so much as a pillow to contrast the monotony. So I set out to liven things up as cheaply as possible (hence all the homemade art).

This was our foyer before. The wall color was a dirty-looking cream that was here when we bought the house, so I tried to introduce a bit of color with the framed pattern (actually cheap wrapping paper from Target’s $1 spot!), choice of photo, and background color for the quote. Not great, but it worked fine until we could paint.

Once we had the new paint on the walls, however, everything sort of blended together; so I decided to switch out the framed wrapping paper for something in the orange family. I was inspired by Katie Bower from Bower Power (awesome blog if you’ve never checked it out!) and her paint chip sea urchin, so I decided to give it a shot. Plus (hello!) paint chips are FREE. I hit Home Depot and pulled about 20 of my favorite paint chips in varying shades of orange, coral, and pink.

When I got home, I used a ruler and an Exacto knife to slice the paint chips into strips of various widths, working only with the portion that didn’t have the paint name and number printed on it. Once I had everything cut up, I started gluing each strip in a diagonal pattern to a piece of cardstock that was slightly larger than would show through the mat in the frame. After it all dried, I trimmed down the edges, taped it to the back side of the mat, and voilà! My own little paint chip masterpiece!

I also swapped out the colored cardstock with the quote (I just wrote it in the first place, so this was a super easy change). I’m planning to switch out our family photo after our photography session this fall, so that should hopefully have some nice browns and oranges in it since we’re taking the pictures outdoors. Here’s what our foyer looks like today:

Grand total for my tiny little foyer switcharoo was $0.50—I only had to pay for the cardstock to glue the paint strips on and the scrapbook paper to rewrite the quote! (I did, however, already have glue, so that helped.)

Have you made any art using paint chips from the hardware store? I would love to see it!


Make Bathroom Cleaning {a little} Easier

I hate cleaning the bathroom. I don’t mind vacuuming, dusting, cleaning the kitchen, basically any other form of cleaning, but I hate cleaning the bathroom. I think it all comes down to the fact that there is simply so much to clean and it’s NEVER easy. Plus, you always have to deal with hair and that just grosses me out —and yes, I know most of it is mine, but it’s still wet and disgusting and ewwww!(Don’t get me wrong, I do actually clean—my bathroom doesn’t look like a frat house or anything.)

I had to tackle the guest bathroom recently, since my mom was coming to visit, and I was dreading it. However, the last time we were in Target, my husband grabbed a Scotch-Brite Tub Soap Scum Eraser and I could kiss him for it! They are amazing!! I usually have to use an awful headache-inducing chemical cleaner and some serious elbow grease to get the tub to sparkle. But with this little scrubber, it only took about 5 minutes (no chemicals) and it was spotless.

I was seriously impressed. I went online to look it up and found that they have a shower tile scrubber and a grout scrubber too- oh happy day! How did I not know about these before?! This might actually make bathroom cleaning more tolerable.

Let There Be {Bathroom} Light!

This week feels like it’s lasted about three weeks long already—and it’s only Thursday morning.

Last night, we ventured out to find a light fixture for our new bathroom. Nothing like waiting until the last minute, eh? In our defense, we had looked already at Lowes and Home Depot, but we just hadn’t found anything we loved. So, after a very long, very busy day at work, we hauled ourselves back out to the car and headed to the Lamp Factory Outlet. If you live in the DC area and are looking for a light (any type of light), this is the place to go. Good googly moogly, I don’t even want to think about what their electric bill must be. This is just the wall of bathroom vanity lights (and only about half of the wall at that!).

After about 20 minutes of going back and forth, we finally decided on a light fixture only to realize that our new vanity is larger than the old one and the existing junction box is no longer centered and won’t be covered completely by a small face plate. So. . . back outside to call the contractor to see if they can move the electrical over by two inches (by the way, two inches = $80 of extra labor cost, so I suggest thinking of this BEFORE your drywall goes up).

Luckily, Ryan confirmed that the changes to the electrical can be made, so we settled on this light fixture.

It was probably the most expensive of all the lights we were considering ($218), but I think it will be a good fit for the bathroom.

Now if we could only find a mirror. . .

Bathroom Redesign for Under $1,000!

When we bought our house four years ago, we knew we wanted to redo our upstairs guest bathroom at some point. It didn’t look awful, but everything in the room was original to the house (i.e. from 1979) except for the lovely press-and-stick flooring, which covered the original linoleum.

While we worked our way up to a complete redo, we decided we would at least get a new WaterSense toilet to help with our water usage. What we didn’t realize was that the wax seal had pretty much disintegrated, and we ended up with some serious water damage to the floor. Whomp whomp. So since we had to pull up the flooring and replace the sub flooring, we figured we might as well jump in with both feet.

Our guest bathroom before:

It’s not a great picture, but our hard drive is holding the others hostage, so this will have to do. What you can’t see in this picture is the beautiful unframed mirror covering the entire wall and the nostalgic light fixture.

As we had just plunked down all our cash on our house, we were working on a budget. Luckily, the shower tile and tub were in good shape, so we didn’t have to touch that part. Our biggest penny-saver by far, however, was that my handy husband did every bit of the work himself (painting, tile floor, new crown molding, the works).

Our guest bathroom today:

The toilet is the Kohler Cimarron ($248), which can flush an entire bucket of golf balls. We decided to spend a little more on the toilet since we knew we wanted to have kids one day. That day has come, and believe me, that toilet was worth the money.

Our vanity is from the Estate by RSI Boardwalk collection at Lowes ($180). The mirror is allen + roth ($99) and the vanity light is Portfolio ($59), both from Lowes. 

We found our floor tiles on clearance at Lowes for $0.68 a square foot. The paint color we chose was Behr Manhattan Mist, and we found our shower curtain on sale at World Market ($15).

Our grand total for the entire bathroom. . . $964!

Seven Stylish Nursery Chairs

The chair in my daughter’s nursery was my best friend toward the end of my pregnancy—between my sore back and hips, raging heartburn, and trouble breathing, it was the only place I could sleep for longer than 30 minutes at a time. After Olivia was born, it was where we cuddled during 3 a.m. feedings. Now that we’re no longer breastfeeding, the chair is home to bedtime stories, afternoon dozing, and random snuggles.

I think it’s the most comfortable chair in our house. And since we chose a stylish upholstered recliner, its next life will probably be in our basement family room or living room. Nursery chairs are expensive, so why not choose a design that will travel well to another room in your house? Here are seven of the most fabulous nursery chairs I’ve encountered. (Pssst! Ours is number four on the list, and I think we paid around $350 for it.)

Best HAGEN Chair, See Retailer for Pricing

Nurseryworks Sleepytime Rocker, $700.00

Little Castle Allure Recliner, $889.00

Best TRYP Recliner, See Retailer for Pricing

Monaco II Glider, $658.00

Joya Rocker, $995.00

Little Castle Swivel Glider, $449.99

Custom-Blended Whiskey Just for Dad

My husband loves a nice glass of scotch or whiskey in the evening, so when I heard of the custom-blended, personalized malt scotch whiskey from Whisky Blender, I knew I’d found the perfect Father’s Day gift.

Now, you’re probably thinking “way to give the gift away by blogging about it before Father’s Day.” And yes, my husband does read my blog. However, he knows better than anyone that I nearly explode with excitement when it comes to giving gifts. I can’t wait to see the reaction a perfect gift elicits—to me, it’s better than receiving a gift myself. As soon as the bottle arrived in the mail all the way from Scotland, there was no way I could wait another week to give it to him!

Whisky Blender allows you to create your own blend from among their seven different whiskies, with names like Banana Split, Vanilla Fudge, and Smoke on the Water. I don’t drink whiskey, so I know pretty much nothing about the flavors or how to put them together, so it was a total crap shoot. Ryan eagerly taste-tested it, however, and I’m happy to report that he said it was really good!

The whole thing was a bit pricey with shipping (£75.69, or $94.66), but I loved the unique concept and the personalized label. Since this was a Father’s Day gift, I labeled his blend “Daddy’s Wawa,” since “wawa” is Olivia-speak for water.

The bespoke bottle takes a couple of weeks to arrive after you place your order, so it’s a bit late now for Father’s Day, but this is definitely an idea to keep in mind for your next gift-giving opportunity!

Great Vintage Furniture Finds

I stumbled upon this amazing web site, Fabulous Finds, while searching for a vintage cabinet/future bathroom vanity (have I mentioned that we’re renovating our master bathroom, finishing our basement, and getting our roof replaced ALL AT ONCE? Oy).

Anyway, Sharon, the site owner, collects vintage and antique furniture pieces that she offers for fantastic prices. She’s based locally in the DC area and holds “open house” barn sales several times a year. You can also make an appointment to check out her stuff in person. A few of my favorites. . .

How great would that giraffe chair look with a bright, glossy coat of red or green paint?! I would snatch it up in a second if I had anywhere to actually use it. And that pale blue dresser would be adorable in a nursery!

If you’re in the market for some vintage pieces to round out your home, definitely pay this site a visit!