micro studio makeover.

My kids aren’t babies anymore, I am almost 42 years old and I am finally at peace with my brain funktion (no spell check that is spelled correctly)  It is time to work this out, and the first place is my studio, the smallest room in the house, and now it will be mine! (maniacal laugh)

It is really difficult to redecorate a room when there is a bunch of stuff that has nowhere else to go in it while you are redoing it.  I deftly moved everything into the middle and patched a million holes, primed and did some seriously acrobatic painting while simultaneously painting all of the furniture the same color in the same room.

It is also really difficult to organize a tiny room around a brain that funktions in spurts and sputters, highs and lows, and is always in creative problem solving mode.  Needless to say I have focus issues so I tried to create organized areas for specific purpose.

Here is the before.

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chaotic and haphazard and now that I think about it, hazardous to my safety and to my mental stability.

I moved my desk and arranged my magnetic trays above so that I could organize my thoughts in a visual way.  Each tray will represent a project I am working out in my head or a page of my website.  Please excuse The Associate she was enjoying her last moments of being allowed in my room.


To the right of my desk on my beautifully refreshed garbage picked bookcase I have all of my businessy housey stuff. I put them as far away as I could from the fun areas because nothing can kill a creative buzz like PTA newsletters and bills.

One of the thought morsels banging around my head all the time is how to re-purpose stuff that nobody wants.  Like these oven trays from the GW that I spent a whole dollar on. I soaked, scrubbed and then hung them on the wall to keep my jewelry sorted by what needs to be photographed, and what is up for sale.



wow these pictures are bad, sorry.

The next area I needed to resolve is my collage wall/ scrap booking table.  I no longer wanted to pierce the images that I was working with and splurged on three 2′ by 2′ metals sheets,  once again destroying my meticulous patch job with holes big enough for metal toggle bolts. I organized all of my scrap booking supplies and subsequent paper in the file cabinet and boxes below so they are easy to access.


As far as the large work table is concerned I oriented it differently so I could work on three sides and still easily reach all of the supplies on the shelves above.  I kept all containers the same so my eyes do not jump all over the room when I enter which will likely make me turn right around and leave.



I made new curtains with fabric that makes me happy to replace the ugly ones that were there 12 years ago when we moved in, and hung my currently favorite works on the wall to inspire me.

The cuporama I made a while back is still doing a good job of  keeping small things I use often in sight, providing a good place for seed pod storage and jewelry in progress can be dumped in a cup if I need to clear off my work space.


I streamlined all of my sewing supplies, giving up a lot of items I won’t ever use and made them readily accessible on this caddy.


I am VERY excited to get started using this space, so excited that the tables are already covered with projects and I am about to make a sign that forbids any mess makers entry.  (The Associate and The Teenager)

I would love to hear what you think.



remove…… layers of skin! and tile your kitchen!

The cabinets were painted 6 months ago, and the hunt for the back splash ensued (yes, I know backwards). I wandered the isles of the tile shop, aimless, looking for something to jump out at me and grab me. I did this multiple times, each time leaving slightly more confused.  When it finally occurred to me what I wanted I headed out to purchase it and it was discontinued, not to be detoured I happened upon the perfect choice whilst trying to convince the salesman to call every store so I could have what I wanted.  It was just lying there staring at me.


Being the somewhat transformed wife that I am today, I only bought a sample.  “I must show The Husband.” (these are very new words for me, just ask The Husband) The salesman’s stunned expression only made me more proud.  Because we have been married for 11 years The Husband barely glanced and said “whatever you think.” (Whaaaaaaaaa? he is apparently also transformed.)

The demolition began immediately considering that I had plenty of work to do before I could get to the tile.  I made quick work of these beauties.  The Teenager arrived after school and didn’t even bat one long lash. I prodded her and she said “this is how our house always looks” 😦  The Associate’s only concern was how long this was going to take.

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When The Husband toured our home before we purchased it 12 years ago, the previous owner was particularly proud of these fruit tiles. He removed the earlier accent tiles adorned with anchors carefully so as not to disturb the luxurious dimpled tile surrounding them, but with no regard for the drywall. With each fruity tile removed a deep gaping hole was left.   Patches were made.


Once all of the tile was removed and the surface was almost clear of dust,  the naked drywall had to be primed with a coat of oil based sealer.  The next step skim coating.

If I was a more poetic person, my first efforts would be titled something like “ode to drywall magician”  If you are paying someone to plaster or drywall and the price seems high, it is worth it.  After what seems like days, countless moist towels, possible lung infection, and glob removal,  I have a semi smooth surface on which to tile.



After several YouTube videos and reference books I am going for it. I painstakingly apply thinset (also a art form) and get busy setting my tiles.


before grout.  The grouting is actually kinda fun.  I channel my Italian grandma Carmela and use my best tools, my hands.  I am free forming it I know, but how else am I expected to get in those tight spots.  I am so into it and every so often I stop to rinse my hands, The flesh of my palms is so tight because of the drying grout that a layer peels right off.


Kitchen is done and I have palms as smooth as a baby’s bottom.




I am finally done painting the kitchen cupboards. I made many mistakes and hopefully I have learned from them all. 😉   Instead of the slow and steady process of four doors at a time, and painstakingly removing gunk and letting each layer of paint dry properly in the shade, I hurry. If you want paint to self level it needs to dry slowly. I know this, I have already done 34 doors and 10 drawers, but in haste I decided to not follow this simple rule on the last two largest doors. Dumb. Now I am discouraged and my progress stalls. Nobody else notices the flaw, but I do.

My awesome family doesn’t mention this stall. Who cares that there are giant heavy doors all over the kitchen. A week or two or three goes by.  I am clearly opposed to using sandpaper because I managed to remove decades of gunk without it, ill be damned if I am gonna use it now. Chalkboard paint! duh, I just happen to have some in the dungeon. The Associate attempts to defile it between every coat. Three coats later chalk poised, I tease The Teenager that only inspirational quotes can adorn this wall  (I won’t tell you what she wrote, my mom reads this blog.) After quickly cleaning the surface with paper towels (dumb) The Associate has a go.


I guess we will be tightening up our spelling this summer.

Next up ugly tile back splash, cause I roll backwards.


It has been a year.

As I continue on with my latest project I just want to say thanks to all of you awesome people who read my blog. Every time I get a new follower I get a renewed excitement for writing it and making the stuff.

This latest endeavor is a labor of love. We have lived in our house for almost 12 years, and I have been ready to do for this 12 years. The sudden decision to start this massive project was made when I drove past Sherwin Williams and the 40% sale was up. I literally screeched into the parking lot got my paint and was off. Over the last couple weeks I have been looking at colors, researching paint, and strippers and gathering supplies. I had four of the doors off and was scraping away before my husband realized what I was doing.

him- did we talk about this?

me- yes a couple of weeks ago.

him- ok?

me- love you.

1. Remove sticky wax like substance with a chemical stripper. I am using some kind of citrus formula, that sits for 30 minutes and then scrapes off like peeling skin (very satisfying)

2. Use a scrub brush or metal scrubbing pad remove residue with odor less minerals spirits.

3. Wash with soap and water and dry.

4. prime and paint using a foam roller for a nice finish

5.  let cure and put back up or on.

Repeat 36 times for doors and 10 times for drawers. ouch

The best part of this is spending every waking minute doing it until it is done, and cleaning behind and out everything. There is some nasty stuff after 12 years. I am not close to being done, but  I am trying to get as much done before spring break, so I can kick it with my family.  I hope you agree that this is a serious upgrade.

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Look at that beautiful eighties oak!

These are some in progress photos.

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I’ll let you know when its done.

P.S. If you like what I am doing please share.

clutter crusher.

I am renovating our kitchen one wall at a time.  This not only satisfies my wandering brain but we have a working kitchen at all times.  Combine that brain with a sharp need to use only recycled items and it is a looooong process. My husband has been very patient, Thanks honey.  You saw this wall a while back.


lineoluem samples as tile.

I have moved around to the next wall, actually it was a while ago. slow going. thanks honey.  I love to have a cork board so I started with that. I had to buy the cork in rolls and glue to a piece of hardy board that I cut to fit the space, making sure to cut holes for plugs and what not (that is the technical term.)  I then addressed the apparent inability of my family to keep their ducks in rows paper wise. Pile here, here, and oh yea over there.  I know Vivian is a bit young to manage her bills, but their is really no excuse for the other members of the family including myself.  So I galloped out to the garage with a new idea swarming around in my head.  I firmly tell myself “only scrap material allowed from this garage allowed in this project.”  This is good for several reasons. 1. I won’t wander off to the hardware store. 2. I won’t spend anymore money on this wall. 3. I get rid of some of the crap in my garage.

I get busy building a box with six compartments. I make sure that this box will indeed fit under my kitchen cabinet when it is done. Good job Shannon, that was a hard learned lesson. I now have my box, I painted it the same color as the kitchen walls with leftover “Witty Green” Sherwin Williams paint.  Now I have to address the issue of facing my box because I used scrap wood and the edges look rough.  Dig Dig Dig. oh look Lincoln Logs, and other less cool blocks.  Knowing full well that my associate has enough Lincoln logs to build her own log cabin I didn’t feel badly cutting them up.

A giant improvement on the table saw in the last 20 years is the blade guard. This wonderful invention keeps the wood that you remove from coming back out and taking out your eye. Nice right? Unfortunately, I had to remove my blade guard to cut the Lincoln logs in half.  I don’t recommend this at all. underline. Anyway, I cut them in half without loss of digit or eye and tacked them onto the box with my nail gun.  Now how to label them…hmmmmmm. wood burner duh. I burned the appropiate names on the logs with my handy wood engraving tool. Mom, Dad, Ruby, Viv, File, and S**T.   It looks a little rough, but It goes with the feel. I then mounted it on the wall using some brackets and sorted paper.  So far, so good

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porch done. finally!


The porch is finally finished! torrential rain and leprosy can’t stop me! Ill do a quick before and after run down from earlier posts because I know you are gonna want to go back and see allll the steps.
“sad lamp. now happy”

skeleton  colorlamp

“my children are over lamps”

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“progress” and “dance with me”

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“looking good” and “did I mention I only learn by messing up? and backwards?”

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and done!!!!!!

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come over and have emiglio serve you a drink!



dance with me?

On the 1000th day of porch renovation I found a new dance partner. She is very forceful, and definitely takes the lead.

I have a tendency to not stop when I get started and getting the proper gear on was no exception.  A combination of sweats, goggles and my daughters purple lace Air Jordan’s sufficed, but it wasn’t pretty.  She didn’t notice my get-up, she is an animal, a mechanical sanding, resurfacing machine, but an animal I wanted to tame.


At this point I have done my research, called up the manual online and studied the technique. Now is the hard part. With my daughters high tops covering my ankles and my glasses and gloves on I set about making this machine do my bidding. After wasting a few overpriced pieces of sandpaper we fell into an easy rhythm that was very much like a dance. One-two- three-four. One-two-three-four.  One-two-three-four.

I must give credit to the men working and renting from my local handy rents.  They call me Ms. Morris and never doubt that I can handle any machine I rent. thanks…

kitchen, my kitchen!

While the rain and cold continue, and stop my progress on the porch I return my focus back to the kitchen.  In an effort to not completely tear apart any one room at time I have restrained myself to one chunk at a time. Cleveland has a great organization called Zero Landfill. They work with architects and designers to collect old samples that would otherwise go to the landfill.  Then invite artists and teachers to come haul it away and use it.  You can only imagine how much fun this is for me.

This is the ugliness that plagues my kitchen.


I enthusiastically ripped this out.  Using hardy board I cut a piece that size of the missing tile and tiled it using wood grain linoleum samples.


meanwhile, my assistant does a little light reading.

I then fastened the board to the wall using carefully concealed screws, so whenever I get around to doing the counter tops, the tile will pop off and I can put them right back.


Wall #2 coming right up.