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    Curbly House II - Kitchen Inspiration
    Current mood (board): kitchen-y

    We're making headway on the Curbly House and the next two weeks will bring about a big leap in the transformation we've been dreaming about. We spent much of the last week trying to finalize our choices for kitchen cabinetry, countertops, appliances, and fixtures. While the room reveal won't be ready until later, I wanted to share a peek at what inspired the design.  

    Inspiration for the kitchen remodel

    Curbly House Kitchen Inspiration - Gray Island

    Photo: Decor Chic


    Curbly House Kitchen Inspiration - Gray Cabinetry

    Photo: Domino


    We loved the idea adding gray base cabinets to the kitchen island, while keeping the rest of the cabinetry white, but in the end decided to stick with one color. As you may remember, we're doubling the size of the kitchen by extending it into the dining room. While the new layout is going to make the kitchen a total dream come true for cooking and entertaining, it needs to be seamlessly integrated into the house, making white cabinetry (that matches the wood trim throughout the house) a perfect choice. 

    Butcher block countertop

    Bruno and I love the idea of adding a butcher block counter top to the peninsula for warmth and an organic element. We think it'll help tie the room into the adjacent dining area, and help lead the eye out toward the newly landscaped backyard. We're working with Lumber Liquidators to source a butcher block style that we like, and right now it's between these two:

    Which one do you like best?

    If you have butcher block in your kitchen, drop us a line to how you like it! 

    Kitchen paint 

    We're painting the entire downstairs a warm white color (Sherwin-Williams Simple White). We used this color in our own home and love it because it's warm and it plays with natural light in a beautiful way. 

    We also re-painted all the trim in the house (Pure White SW 7005), using a new paint product we had never tried before: Emerald Urethane Trim Enamel. It's good for interiors or exteriors, and has a smooth, durable finish that's perfect for doors, trim, and cabinetry. It was truly a breeze to paint with, with great coverage and leveling, and absolutely no stickiness when dry (some enamels stay sticky for a while). It's my new go-to paint for trim and cabinets.

    Fixtures and appliances

    We've selected brass and black fixtures for the lighting and fixtures, and all our our appliances will be stainless steel. The kitchen is going to have mixed metals, but we think they'll play off of each other in a beautiful way.  


    Staying on schedule

    Amazingly, we're currently on schedule to get the house back on the market by October. Getting off the timeline was probably the thing that worried Bruno the most, and don't worry, there's still a pretty good chance we'll get behind, but as of right now, we're all pretty shocked and thrilled that things are going according to plan. Our electrical and HVAC work is done (new air conditioning!), and our cabinets are going to be coming in just over a week. That gives us plenty of time to close up all the walls, and do some of the other touch-up jobs that need to happen.


    Next week, while our contractor begins sheetrocking the kitchen, we'll be moving in all the upstairs furniture and getting those rooms ready to photograph. The other major job for next week is polishing up the landscaping, and I'm really excited to share the amazing progress we've made on the back and front yard.



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    Sponsored by Sherwin-Williams

    We recently celebrated our 5th anniversary in the Curbly House, and along with the pomp and circumstance (I'm kidding; as much as we love our house, we don't celebrate home anniversaries ... but maybe that's my new million dollar idea!), we've been busy doing a series of updates indoors and out. We've refreshed the paint, swapped out artwork, done some light landscaping, and made the house work better for our family. 

    The front door of the house recently got a little update of its own with a fresh coat of paint. Read on to take a look at our new door!

    The Color of the Year announcement is always a highlight, and we've been lucky enough to work with Sherwin-Williams on many COTY projects over the years. Check out last year's post, using the sweet 2017 color, Poised Taupe SW 6039:

    When we first painted the front door, we chose a soft hue called Halcyon Green SW 6213, that was lovely. But over the course of five years, it has taken a lot of abuse (mostly at the hands of our children) and was beginning to look pretty worn down. 

    When we learned about this year's Sherwin-Williams Color of the Year, I immediately knew I wanted to try it out on the front door. It's called Oceanside SW 6496, and it's bright, cheery, and BOLD! It immediately called me back to a semester I spent abroad in England during college:

    Blue Doors of England
    Top Row: j.labrado, Dimples & Tangles, peonylim
    Bottom Row:  isabellathThe Morning DistrictAndy P


    Are those doors charming or what?

    So we decided to change things up, and go for a front entry color that would be way more energetic and eye-catching than its predecessor.


    We started by taking the door off its hinges. Sure, you can paint a door standing up, but I wouldn't recommend it. It's much easier to get it horizontal so that the paint won't drip. Then, Bruno removed all the door hardware. Trust me, it's much easier to spend ten minutes unscrewing the handle and lock, that it is to try delicately painting around that stuff.

    After that, we washed the grime off, and lightly sanded the old finish to give the new paint a good surface to adhere to. 

    When painting doors, it's really important to take time and do it carefully, but also move fast to avoid streaks or brush strokes drying in place. You want to always go with the grain of the wood, which means you'll have to change directions at the panels, rails and stiles. For more great tips on painting a door, check out this article from Family Handyman.

    Before starting, tape the edges of the door to keep them from getting gunked up.



    After a few coats of paint, the door was done! Check out how great it looks!

    The door has a cheery glow about it and has already proved to be resistant to the filthy paws of our children.

    Tell us what you think of our door's bold, new look in the comments below. If you'd like additional inspiration for styling a room featured on Oceanside SW 6496, you can enlist some help from West Elm's knowledgeable design crew to help select furniture, home accessories and more. 




    This post is sponsored by Sherwin-Williams. Sponsored content helps us pay for all the free, original content that we create on Curbly, and we love working with brands like Sherwin-Williams, who appreciate the awesomeness of a good DIY project. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly!

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    The Curbly House II's Little Boy's Room Makeover + Painting Tips 101We've been painting rooms at Curbly for over a decade. And, we've gotten pretty good at it. We've done straight-forward walls and we've done full-scale murals - and almost everything in between. Through it all, we've learned that good prep, good paint, and quality tools are the magic trifecta. 

    We're partnering with Purdy Paint Tools and sharing our favorite tips all through the reveal of the 2017 Curbly House's sweet child's bedroom. This is the first room we're revealing , and we're so inredibly excited, because it's a perfect glimpse of all the goodness that's in store for this complete home makeover.




    Where this room started

    Before we get into the nitty gritty, let's take a look at where this room began. By all accounts, there was nothing so sorry or sad about this room. It was very bland; the paint was a little worn, and the fixtures were a lot dated. 

    We began by washing the walls with a mild detergent to give the paint a clean surface to adhere to. Our initial plan was to paint only the walls, leaving the trim work alone (throughout the house), because it was in relatively good shape. We thought the new wall paint would make the old trim color pop nicely.

    Boy were we wrong! Once we got the paint up on the walls, we realized that the trim looked a whole lot worse for wear. This is often the case with paint, and the real uncensored truth with makeovers. You waltz in fancy free with the wind at your back with a plan to make things beautiful in a matter of hours. And then suddenly you're spun around and the wind whacks you in the face and is like, WHOOSH!Your list just got a lot longer, honey, because you must paint all the things!

    And so, we did. 

    Then we decided that because the whole scope of the painting project had changed, we might as well make the room really special with a stenciled accent wall.

    And I'm really glad we changed course, because here's where we landed:

    Scroll down for more gorgeous shots of this lovely little room! But first, here's some Painting 101 Information for all you aspiring room-maker-overers.

    Tips on painting interior walls

    Painting Supplies

    1. Create a fresh canvas for your paint. Prep, prep, prep! I know this step sounds tedious, but it can save you time and create longevity for your paint. Washing the walls with a mixture of water and tri-sodium phosphate (TSP) helps give you a fresh surface by removing any dirt and grease from the walls. Scrape off and spackle any areas of loose substrate, and prime using the product recommended by the paint manufacturer.
    Paint Prep 101: Washing the Walls

    2. Good-quality paint is a no-brainer. It covers better and makes the paint work much faster. Our favorite paint is Sherwin-Williams Emerald line. It's a super-low-VOC line that covers better than The Fugees cover Roberta Flack. 

    3. There's no better partner to high-quality paint than high-quality tools. Good brushes and rollers help you get the excellent coverage you want so you don't waste time applying multiple coats. The best brushes and roller covers we've used come from Purdy. The brushes are durable, they clean up nicely, and they hold their shape for repeated use. Their rollers come in a variety of different sizes and naps, making it easy to select the right one for the job. 

    Painting 101: Quality Tools

    Painting 101: Quality Toold

    I'm noting the quality of Purdy tools because the difference is, well, noticeable. Each brush is handmade, the roller frames are super solid, and that extension pole's not going to snap off at the threads like the cheap ones you normally use. We've been painting with Purdy brushes for years, and we never have trouble with bristles coming loose as we paint. Good brushes leave good, smooth strokes when you're cutting in (this is a major quality point for me). And when you care for them properly, they last a long time (we've used the same brushes over the course of several jobs and they're still working beautifully). 

    4. Tape around trim using painter's tape. Bruno is now to the point where he can paint an entire room without using any tape (he just cuts everything in by hand with a good brush – that's why a high-quality angled Purdy brush is the perfect fit). I'm not there yet. I always take the time to tape my trim so that I have some leeway when cutting in. (I also think peeling off the painter's tape after a job is one of life's simple pleasures.)

    5. Wash all brushes and roller covers immediately after you're done with the job. If you are reusing the same brush or roller, you can also wrap them with plastic between coats and store them for a short period of time. You can use brushes (and most roller covers) time and time again if you take the time to thoroughly clean them after use. 

    Painting 101: Storing Brushes and Rollers & Washing

    Pro tips: don't load paint higher than halfway up the bristles (keeps it from drying out and ruining the shape of the brush). When cleaning a brush, run it under water and brush against the sink basin to pull all the paint out.


    My Purdy Painting Tools Checklist:

    Painting tools check list


    A Note About Stenciling

    Stenciling a wall isn't as hard as it might sound, and it gives you the freedom to bring pattern to a wall without the use of wallpaper. 

    I added a star stencil to accent one of the walls in the little boy's room because I wanted to create a focal point. Given the lines of the ceiling (and the little bump-out), I knew wallpaper wasn't a great option - too many cuts around the window trim and the ceiling line. 

    The stenciling took about two hours to complete and I think it went relatively quickly because I used a large stencil with a very flexible repeat. The pattern wasn't so uniform and predictable that I had to match it up perfectly each time I placed it. This made my job so much easier, because every time I bumped into a wall or a ceiling, I could rotate the stencil or place in a position that worked for me. 

    How to Stencil an Accent Wall

    Here are my best stenciling tips:

    • If you're covering a wall, choose a large stencil (mine was 20"x20"). The less you have to move the stencil, the easier your work will be.
    • Use painter's tape along window and baseboard trim (or crown moulding). It helps keep those areas free of paint when you're wrangling a stencil in tight areas. 
    • Spray the back of your stencil with re-positionable spray mount adhesive. This makes your the job a trillion times easier! You simply peel it up and reposition it quickly as you go. It also helps the back of the stencil stay paint free so you don't have to wipe it down each time.
    • Use a small low-to-medium-nap roller to apply the paint. These walls were slightly textured, so I used the Purdy WhiteDove 4" Roller, which applied even coats and didn't leave any lint on the stencil or the wall.
    • If you're painting with a smaller stencil, this is my favorite tutorial. It gives a great description of how to stencil an organic pattern without a marked repeat.

    The accent wall is what makes the room. It's sweet and playful, and it creates a natural nook in the space. The gold paint is warm and shimmery while still keeping the color palette soft and neutral. 

    Soft and neutral was the theme for this room, and we were able to add contrast to the space through the bedding, artwork, and decor. Have a look!

    Bedroom Makeover

    Boy's Room Makeover Details

    Boy's Room Makeover Details

    I love that the room has lots of open space for play. We were able to create a nice open space by going without a dresser.

    We installed a closet system from Modular Closets, and the way it keeps everything organized and visible is my total jam.


    Product list

    This post is sponsored by Purdy, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that make Curbly possible. We also received complimentary paint from Sherwin-Williams for use in this project.

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    Curbly House 2017 Dining Room

    The 2017 Curbly House is done! It went on the market last weekend, and (to my surprise and delight), we've already had several showings. After two-and-a-half months of intense renovation work, it feels a little weird this week, knowing there's nothing left to do except blog about it. I keep checking my 'To-Do' list, and it's all crossed off, which is my JAM! 

    Heads up! We'll be on Facebook Live, this Thursday October 19th at 1:30 PM central time, doing a live walk through of the entire house, and answering all your questions in real time. Join us! 

    Scroll down for the full, room-by-room reveal of the 2017 Curbly House, along with complete product lists (from our featured vendor partner, Hayneedle) and details about how we transformed each space. 


    The 2017 Curbly House is still available to purchase, so if you know someone who's looking for a home in St. Paul, MN, please help us spread the word! It comes with all the furnishings!

    Table of Contents

    (All photos by M.E. Russell unless noted) 

    Dining Room

    Curbly House 2017 Dining Room - trestle table and wishbone chairs
    Photo: M.E. Russell

    The Curbly House dining room had all the right ingredients to become a focal point for the entire home: big east-and-south-facing windows, a large open plan, and a great built-in shelving unit ripe for styling (and lots of paint). But it also had a weird closet in one corner (who needs a closet in the dining room?) and multiple ancient, sparking light fixtures. 

    I came up with a plan to style the room in a whole new way, with a unique, attention-getting chandelier over a chunky trestle table to ground the space. And we tore down a wall between this room and the kitchen, creating a huge live/eat/work space that flows seamlessly.

    As with several other rooms in the house, all the furniture in this room is from our friends at Hayneedle (click here to shop the entire house). We loved working with them on this project because their products are curated, eclectic (hey, chandelier!), stylish (hey, table and chairs!), and shopping their site is the opposite of overwhelming (which is exactly what you need when you're designing an entire home). Scroll down to see all the before and after pics, and get a full product list:

    Dining room - before remodel Curbly House 2017


    Curbly House dining room makeover - art deco mirror, buffet, wishbone chairs

    Credenza and bar

    Credenza with bar and mirror

    Styled open shelving

    Styled shelving detail

    Wiry white metal chandelier

    Open concept kitchen leading to dining room



    Living Room

    2017 Curbly House living room makeover with Hayneedle

    The living room is the first room you see when you enter the home, and I wanted it to set the tone for the entire house. It was the first room I created a mood board for, and it was the design blueprint for the entire first floor, which set the tone for the whole house. The living room had shaded, south-facing windows which gave it a calm, quiet feel we loved. A big oak tree just outside keeps the harsh southern light out, but sprinkles bright streaks of afternoon rays across the newly-refinished hardwood floors. 

    I chose a color palette that was muted and neutral, something that would let the sunshine do its thing without getting in the way. The focal point of the room is the gorgeous sofa, with its clean, curved lines and nailhead trim. But, in my view, the leather chairs are the showstoppers: they draw a comment from everyone who walks through the house. And, in case you're curious, they're very well-made and comfortable to sit upon. We've owned plenty of original mid-century-style chairs, and these definitely feel like heirloom pieces.

    Shop this look on Hayneedle, and grab a pair of those chairs before they're out of stock ('cause I'm pretty sure they will be soon):

    Curbly House living room before

    Living room - classic, elegant, leather chair, nailhead trim sofa, gold and marble coffee table

    Leather swoop back chair

    MCM chair

    Blanket ladder with mid century modern chair and basket

    MCM leather chairs with styled fireplace

    Side table detail

    Abstract painting

    Nailhead trim sofa detail with side table and table lamp

    Custom wall art




    Master Bedroom

    2017 Curbly House Master BedroomThe master bedroom has just about as much 'character' as you can squeeze into a room. The ceiling lines, the big windows, the charming gable-end nook, and built-in drawers scattered throughout. These are the kinds of architectural details that are so hard to come by in new construction, and while some of them are weird and funky (and hard to design around), that's exactly the point: this room is anything but an empty box. It comes with its own opinions about how it should look, and the interplay between the designer and the room is what makes things interesting, and ultimately, beautiful.

    We teamed up with Hayneedle to outfit this room with a delicate design that takes full advantage of the 100-year-old quirks inherent to the home. The house sits atop a hill, and from the bedroom windows you have a full view of the fall foliage and, in the distance, the Minneapolis skyline (picture a soft-toned heart-eye emoji here, please). It's a perfect retreat, with incredible afternoon sunlight, and although it's not a huge bedroom, it has two (modest) walk-in closets and enough space for a spacious dresser. 

    Shop the products in this room on Hayneedle, but don't expect to find the skyline view for sale: you have to buy the whole house to get that one (now, insert the winky face emoji).


    Bedroom - before makeover

    Curbly House master bedroom - upholstered headboard and vintage tables


    End of bed bench with stand up mirror

    Bed with wall sconces

    Green vintage bedside table with wall sconce


    Styled bedside table


    Huge gold trim mirror above bedroom dresser, marble front drawers

    Marble front drawers detail

    Wall art, woman portrait detail

    Hayneedle baskets



    Bedroom chandelier, gold with square geometric lines




    2017 Curbly House kitchen

    The kitchen! The kitchen! Oh, have mercy! I am beyond the horizon thinking about the transformation we were able to achieve in this room. When we walked through the house for the very first time, it was – honestly – easy to just overlook the kitchen. Where was it?! Did we miss it? It was tiny! In a wee closet. Just about seven feet by seven feet (which is basically like a cubic version of LeBron James), with an exterior door opening right into the space, blocking the fridge and the stove. I'm not exaggerating when I say that you couldn't comfortably fit two people in the kitchen at once.

    We knew this would be our biggest challenge in the remodel. We played around with lots of different plans, but finally settled on one that we thought we could pull off without moving any plumbing (important to help keep the cost down). We tore down a wall between the kitchen and the dining room, creating an amazing butcher block-top island (from our partners at Lumber Liquidators). 

    Then we took a very classic (dare I say, simple?) white shaker cabinet and elevated it with shiny brass hardware, and a very bold black-grouted subway tile backsplash. The pendants, from Lamps Plus, complete the elegant look, drawing your eye around the room and casting a soft, golden glow (even when they're turned off).

    Let me digress for a brief moment with this PSA: Lighting is everything! Your lighting is a ceiling sculpture, a work of art, and you are doing no one any favors by selecting boring, basic, flush-mount boob lights, or snazzy, tiny marbley-colored pendants. Go big with your lighting! It's totally worth it! Do you see these charming, brass pendants? They take your breath away! They demand respect! They are perfect! Thank you! 

    Here's a look at what the kitchen had to offer (nothing!) before we got to it, and how it looks now (all the BIG heart GIFs, etc...):

    Curbly House kitchen before renovation


    Curbly House kitchen, over butcher block island, white cabinets with gold hardware
    That butcher block countertop is the centerpiece of the room (Lumber Liquidators: American Walnut Williamsburg countertop)

    Kitchen, before

    Kitchen, after - stainless steel appliances, gold accents, subway tile with black grout

    Kitchen, wide. Gold pendants

    Gold kitchen faucet detail with stainless steel sink

    Gold pendant detail

    Butcher block countertop on island with white cabinets



    The Exterior Entries

    Glass insert door - Zabitat

    I will grant you that heading is a little awkward (I couldn't think of another way to title it), but you know what's not awkward? That absolutely stunning new front door we put in (on) this house! And the best part? It's not really a new door at all; it's the same old door with a new glass insert from Zabitat.

    Take a look at what an incredible difference this insert makes:

    Curbly House door - before - yellow


    Curbly House door - after - Zabitat door insert


    Zabitat door insert, Jameston
    The Jameston door glass insert from Zabitat

    Door detail - vintage hardware

    Entryway nook detail

    Above: it's the little details that give a home true character. Things like original door handles, and this charming little entryway nook.

    The cool thing about this glass insert is that it's a totally DIY-able project. Anyone who can handle a jigsaw (and Bruno says, that's anyone) can do this in about two hours. You simply cut out the middle part of your old door, set the new insert in place, and fasten all the screws. The carefully-designed trim pieces give you lots of leeway to make your cuts, so it's pretty hard to screw up.

    We liked the front door insert so much, we decided to try one on the new back door as well:

    Back door - Curbly House - built in blinds

    Back entryway detail - bench with hooks

     This one has built-in blinds (enclosed within the door glass, so they never get dirty). The rear-door glass insert allows lots more light into the dining room, which we love. We added a Brisa retractable screen here too, so in the summer, the dining room will get lots of cross-ventilation and feel open and airy.

    Brisa retractable screen door


    Curbly House front yard, before
    The Curbly House: Before

    Well ... the people who lived here before did not like grass. And I get it, grass can be kind of a pain to take care of, but this yard was a f'real jungle (front and back):

    Curbly House back yard, before

    We envisioned a family with kids living in this house, so we knew the yard would need at least some usable play space. Also, we added a storage shed for bikes, lawn mowers (and snow blowers), as well as a big two-car parking pad and brand new sidewalk. 

    Before this backyard transformation, the only way in and out of the house was up the long front steps. In the winter, that would've been a real hassle for someone carrying groceries. Now, there's a convenient place to park off the back alley, and access to the rear door is easy (and flat).

    2017 Curbly House front yard, after renovation, sod, repainting
    We repainted the exterior of the house (we matched the color at our local Sherwin-Williams store).
    Trim and shutters are SW 6258 Tricorn Black.

     Back yard with parking pad and shed, new sod

    Front windows with board and batten shutters

    Those shutters were a quick DIY project that Bruno pulled together. Just a few exterior trim boards from the hardware store, measured and cut to length to make board and battens. Don't they look sharp? 


    Boy's Room

    Curbly House boy's room

    The narrative for the next three rooms (the children's bedrooms) is going to sound like Groundhog Day, because that's how I feel about their design. While designing these rooms, I discovered that it's tricky business to create beautiful spaces for children that exist only in your mind. I suppose that's true of all design, but for me, these rooms had to straddle "adorable/stylish/childlike" without being too specific. So, I followed a brand-driven template for the rooms that worked pretty well. Each child's room is a pie-chart divided evenly between Target, Rugs USA (or Amazon), and Land of Nod. All three companies hit children's decor out of the park. So, I came up with a system, and repeated it. Do I fear they're formulaic? A little bit, but I also LOVE everything I chose and believe they're primed for little touches of extra character the new owners will add. 

    Boy's room with stenciled gold stars, zebra heads, blue and white, calm

    My favorite part of the little's boys room (we called it this, but obviously, it's ready for any child) is the starry accent wall. I love the symbolism of a starred wall - you can reach for them, wish on them, and more. I love the way the wall creates a focal point of the room, but remains neutral and pretty chill. 

    The rest of the design feels soothing, with grays and blues, and hints of gold. You can read more about the thought that went into this room here (the post is complete with a stenciling tutorial, if that's your cup of tea). 

    Boy's room styling detail

    Boy's closet system, organized
    This closet system from Modular Closets will be a nice bonus for whoever lives in this room (or, more likely, his parents).

    White ceiling pendant

    Boys bedding, detail



    Girl's Room

    Girl's room - bed - Curbly House 2017

    I wanted this room to feel joyful (and ultra-flexible). I centered the design around a bright, yellow rug, and lots of tassels and llamas. The pops of colors are vibrant and wowee(!), but the room is balanced with lots of light neutrals that make it feel like it's a part of the same house. I love this! I love it so much because the only thing its missing is a child with a big personality to elevate the whole look. 

    Here's what it looked like before:

    Girl's room, before

    And now:

    2017 Curbly House bedroom - girl's room

    Girl's room, yellow rug, pink and white accents

    Girl's room closet system from Modular Closets
    Another great closet system from Modular Closets

    Girls' room bedding detail.

    girl's room  styling tips

    girl's room bookshelf





    Nursery - Curbly House 2017 - wide shot

    This sweet room is the smallest in the house, but the space is perfect for a wee one. The room is located steps from the master bedroom, and set apart from the other two children's bedrooms. It's sweet and simple, easily adapted, but also lovingly put together. While there's nothing over-the-top about the room, it was a real throwback for me. It reminded me so much of the way we put our daughter, Ayla's nursery together. We wanted her room to feel open and minimal, because she was new, and we didn't want to send her a strong message from the start (rather, we wanted the room to grow into, and mirror, her).

    So, I hit repeat with this room. I wanted it to feel beautiful and basic. I want it to be filled with love, and I think the space is ripe for that kind of transformation. I am in love with the accent wall (the wallpaper is removable), and the light fixture (its twin is a gold version that's located a floor below in the office). The room is functional and exactly what you need for a tiny child. 

    When we bought the house, the room looked like this:

    Curbly Houe nursery room, before makeover

    As ridiculously retro as those track lights were, we had to let them go:

    Nursery makeover with removable wallpaper

    White feathers ceiling fixture

    Crib with mobile and tree wallpaper

    White ceiling pendant, flush mounted

    Quirky mobile for nursery




    2017 Curbly House bathroom, wide

    I'll be honest: I wish we could've done a lot more with the upstairs bathroom (the downstairs will be revealed in a later post). I wish we could've doubled the size, rebuilt all the plumbing, put in a double-vanity ... the list goes on and on. But every home renovation (especially a flip) requires prioritizing, staying on budget, and making tough decisions. In this case, drastically improving the bathroom would've required some serious structural changes to the house (and losing a bedroom), as well as tons of plumbing and HVAC costs. It just wasn't possible given the scope of what we wanted to do, and the timeframe we were working on.

    So, with the apologies out of the way, let me say that I really love what we were able to do with this room! We added bead board wainscoting, a new marble tile floor, and Bruno and Jon worked way harder than anyone wants to admit to get an actual vanity in there (as opposed to the tiny wall-mounted sink it had before).

    Throw in a new faucet, a dual-flush toilet, a flowy curtain, and a really pretty light fixture, and the bathroom feels like a completely new space. As you can see, it's a big improvement over what we started with:

    Curbly House bathroom, before

    Curbly House bathroom, after, wide shot, black and white color palette


    Small bathroom with shallow vanity and black and white color scheme


    Space saving bathroom design. Wainscoting on wallsHexagon marble floor tile for bathroom

    Bathroom shelf styling ideas

    Chrome bathroom vanity light



    For a not-very-huge house, the Curbly House actually packs in a lot of rooms! One of those is this first-floor 'bonus' room, which the previous owners appear to have used as an eating space, but we're treating like an office or family work space. It's a place to go through mail, check your e-mail, do homework, write blog posts (wait, that's our family), etc.

    There wasn't much to do here except paint, add some well-designed furniture (that desk & chair were a Craiglist steal at $145), and top everything off with a really nice, eye-catching light fixture. Check it out: 

    Curbly House office wide shot


    Gold leaf ceiling fixture

    Gold ceiling light detail

    MCM desk and chair in office, styling ideas



    So, here we are at the very end of the post. We've been working toward this moment for nearly ten weeks, and somehow it feels anticlimactic to just end it with an ordinary paragraph. But that's what blog posts do ... they end. And so do house renovation projects, like the 2017 Curbly House.

    Although today we mark the completion of this project, it's also an opportunity to celebrate, and look ahead to what's coming next. Doing a large-scale home renovation was equal parts challenging and rewarding, we're already dreaming of doing another one. So as soon as we're able to, we'll let you in on what our plans are for the next Curbly House. 

    Finally, I can't wrap up this series without acknowledging all the hard work of the people who made this possible: Jon Peterson and Bruno (for being crazy enough to push this idea in the first place and for being two of the hardest-working people I know); M.E. Russell, for doing anything and everything she was called on to do, and for doing it with joy; Chantal Nason, for pitching in with hard work and great ideas; and Chris Gardner, for holding down the Curbly fort. And of course, thanks to our families, for putting up with long stressful weeks of late work nights and twists and turns.  


    And don't forget: this house is still active on the market, so if you know someone who's looking for a new home in St. Paul, MN, please let them know this is the house they should buy!


    This project was completed in cooperation with several brand partners, who donated products for us to use in the home remodel. We're grateful for their support: Hayneedle, Sherwin-Williams, Purdy, LampsPlus, Zabitat, and Lumber Liquidators. This post may contain affiliate links (learn more). 


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    Dark, dramatic bathroom makeover using Sherwin-Williams Naval paint
    Sponsored by Sherwin-Williams

    We're back to share the tiny makeover we did in the tiny bathroom at the 2017 Curbly House. But the scope and the room are the only small things about the project - because we used a bold color that made a big difference. Read on to see our new, blue 'loo. 


    For the last year or so, I've had a growing crush on dark powder rooms. Maybe it's because they're always small, so a dark dramatic color feels like a surprise. Or maybe it's because it's a very intentional design choice (nobody accidentally paints a bathroom dark blue), and so it feels special.

    No matter the case, small, dark, dramatic rooms (bathrooms, specifically) make me feel like I'm in a 1920s Gatsby-era environment and that makes me feel fancy (even if I'm in the bathroom). Dark bathrooms are the caterpillar's kimono, and I love them. Have a look!

    A collection of dark bathrooms.
    Clockwise: Emily de Stefano, DecorPad, Most Lovely ThingsDesire to Inspire

    In the case of the Curbly House, this is the only room in the house with a bold color. Everything else is painted Sherwin-Williams Simple White SW 7021 (which is my favorite white). This one was easy to overlook because the room's purpose is mostly functional (hello, first floor bathroom!), not aesthetic.

    I began my quest for the perfect deep, rich navy blue by perusing the Sherwin-Williams website. I was immediately drawn to their  Pottery Barn palette because it's so classic and rich. I love the neutrals in this line, and I love the way the darker colors complement them.

    Sherwin-Williams Pottery Barn Palette
    Sherwin-Williams' Pottery Barn Palette

    From the beginning, Naval SW 6244 stood out. It's a rich, deep, stunning shade blue. Here are a couple of inspiration photos of this color in action:

    Sherwin-Williams Naval Walls
    Photo: Earnest Home Co.


    Sherwin-Williams Naval Wall Color
    Photo: Design Sponge


    And, here's a look at our own journey with Naval:

    In fairness to the bathroom, this is a tragically pathetic 'before' shot. Bruno didn't even bother to remove the plastic bag and window cleaner before snapping the photo.
    Editor's note (Bruno): in fairness to me, I had a bunch of much better 'before shot' on a hard drive that crashed and burned last week, so this pathetic phone snap is all I had left!


    Half bath makeover in a dark color

    round wood mirror and white trim  Gold vanity light - three lights

    Using a dark color in a small space

    Gold vanity light with dark blue walls Small bathroom sink with round mirror


    Tips on painting with a dark color in small rooms:

    1. Dark colors recede. Contrary to what you may think, painting a room with a dark color will actually make it appear larger, not smaller. 

    2. Use two coats to make sure you achieve full coverage. Dark paint is slightly less forgiving than its lighter-toned friends. You will need a minimum of two coats to ensure proper, complete coverage. Be sure to paint with plenty of light (natural or artificial - you'll want to be able to see what you're doing).

    3. When using dark colors on a small space with low ceilings, paint the ceiling the same color as the walls. We didn't have to do this, but if your ceiling are on the low end, keeping the whole room cohesive will actually help make it look larger.

    4. And lastly, painting in a small room like this is tricky, because you don't have much room to do the work. To give himself more room, Bruno removed the door from its hinges so that he wasn't having to work around it.

    Product List

    What do you think about using a bold, dark color in a small space? Let us know what you think in the comments!


    This post is sponsored by Sherwin-Williams, but all opinions are mine alone. Brand partnerships keep Curbly running and pay for all the free content we create on the site. Thanks for supporting the brands that support Curbly.

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    Lamps Plus Holiday Giveaway!

    It's the most wonderful time of the year. Thanksgiving is one week away and Christmas is coming! We're making the impending holiday season a little bit brighter with a great giveaway from Lamps Plus. As many of you know, at Curbly HQ we love this company and have used their lighting and furniture in nearly all of our favorite room makeovers (and the Curby House). Here's a little visual recap to refresh your memory:

    Curbly Houses + Studio
    Clockwise from Top Left: Curbly House Bedroom, Curbly House 2017 Kitchen,
    The Original Curbly House Livingroom Makeover, and Curbly HQ 


    We're delighted to tell you about this giveaway because it will bring a little extra holiday cheer to you (and your friends)!

    Here's how it works:

    Lamps Plus Holiday Giveaway!


    My gift guide picks:
    1. Lula White and Brass Gourd Table Lamp
    2. Raye Ink Blue 22" Square Decorative Pillow
    3. Capiz Teak 13" Wide Small Decorative Bowl
    4. Hunk Of Swiss Marble Cheeseboard and Cheese Knife Set 
    5. Tricube Metal Geometric Square Bookends


    • Lamps Plus is giving away all five of the items we selected for our holiday gift guide (our picks are pictured above).
    • To win, visit Lamps Plus on Facebook or Instagram (we'll be showcasing a our pics on Instagram Stories at 11am EST today!)
    • Find the image featuring Curbly's holiday gift guide. Then leave a comment and tag a friend (or several friends) with the items you'd like to won. The more friends you tag, the greater your chances are of winning. Just be sure to tag each friend in separate comments. 
    • Winners will be notified by November 21st. How much fun to win something like this? So fun! Because you'll make a friend's day!
    • There are 4 other blogs participating, and they've rounded up some beautiful gift choices. Check them out on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
    • Read the complete rules here.  

      This promotion is no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with Instagram. By entering, each entrant releases and agrees to hold Instagram harmless from any and all claims and liability arising out of the entrants participation in this sweepstakes.



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    Adult ADvent Calendar DIY project idea - materials

    I'm going to use this platform to declare this: advent calendars are kinda the best. They capture all the excitement building in the hearts and minds of children and they temper it by delivering it in small doses the 24 days leading up to Christmas. Growing up, the method my parents employed was a drug store calendar filled with tiny poor-quality milk chocolates that my brother and I retrieved by poking our fingers through a small perforated square. And, we loved it! We looked forward to receiving those calendars every year – and I'm sure the small morsel of so-so-chocolate helped tame us a little bit.

    Seeing the complete joy my own children get out of the advent calendar tradition got me thinking about why we don't give them to adults. I know we're the mature ones who have the composure and will-power to wait until Christmas to open our gifts ... but, c'mon, that's no fun. So this year I decided Bruno was going to partake in the slow trickle of magic that is advent.

    Read on to see how I put an adult calendar together; maybe it'll inspire you to try one of your own. 





    • 24 boxes (envelopes or pillow boxes would do the trick too)
    • Numbered stickers
    • Twine
    • 24 knick-knacks (Most of mine were $5 and under) 


    Number your boxes 1 to 24.



    Fill them with treasures*.


     What to Put in Those Boxes:


    The sky's the limit, and yet, you want to keep those 24 treasures affordable. Here are some of the items I put inside the boxes:



    Wrap them up in twin whilst humming "My Favorite Things"



    Take great satisfaction in the knowledge that you are knowing you are making someone's day...


    What special gifts or gestures or kindness are you planning this holiday season? I love to hear all the fun ideas our readers come up with, so please share yours in the comments!


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      Affordable Christmas Mantels at 3 Pricepoints

      In our little corner of the world, winter is here and Christmas is coming. This morning there was a windchill of -1 (what!) and all I want to do is decorate my house for the holidays, eat soup, and listen to Bing Crosby.

      To hold myself over, I'm planning our Christmas mantel (and some fictitious ones too) and turning them into shopping guides at three price points - $60, $100, and $200. Build a fire, have a look, and get your shop on!


      $60 Holiday Mantel

      How to Style a Christmas Mantel for $60

      Photo: Tracey Ayton

      My favorite thing about this mantel is the color palette. I love the peachy, blush-colored accents mixed with the traditional Christmas greens. The garland situation is level 10, and probably costs a whole lotta clams. But, the idea is totally replicatable (I just made that word up) for a fraction of the cost. 

      Christmas Mantel for $60


      $100 Holiday Mantel

      How to Style a Scandinavian Christmas Mantel for $100

      Photo: Martha Stewart

      I was raised on straight-up Scandinavian Christmases.  Lefsa, lingonberries, and lutefisk. My mom still lovingly prepares the same Swedish Christmas Eve meal she's been cooking for the entire 38 years I've been alive. Therefore, when I see a well done Scandinavian Christmas mantel, I give it a little wink of approval. Straw sunbursts and snowflakes are not my favorite look, but IKEA's vast collection of paper stars are - and they're affordable.  

      Scandinavian Christmas Mantel for $100


      $200 Holiday Mantel

      Christmas Mantel Styled for $200

      Photo: Anthropologie


      Sometimes the simple things are the best things. And sometimes they're the most expensive. The swaggy mantel garland in the above photo is abundant and from a Sherwood Forest-like dream. I love it so. And those brass candlesticks are probably two-hundred years old and straight outta Monticello. But, you can modernize the look a bit for just under $200. We own several sets of those glass taper holders from CB2 and they are glorious and whimsical. 

      Christmas Mantel for $200


      If you're feeling all the Christmas decoration feels, tell me about your plans to deck your halls in the comments below!

      Holiday Mantel Shopping Guide: 3 Mantels at 3 Affordable Pricepoint



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      When we started Curbly in 2006, saying that your job was 'blogging' was a recipe for confusion. Lots of people didn't even know what a blog was. Fast forward a decade or so, and blogging as a profession is so well-accepted that you probably have a blogger or two living in your own neighborhood. That why we were excited, but not entirely surprised, when we discovered that prolific food bloggers Bjork and Lindsay Ostrom, from PinchofYum, lived about a mile from us.

      Bjork and Lindsay are famous for their gorgeously-photographed recipes (their chocolate-chip-cookies are the best), and for helping hundreds of new bloggers get their start through their FoodBloggerPro program (seriously: it basically teaches you to be a blogger). 

      Today, we're excited to share a tour of Bjork and Lindsay's bedroom, which they recently finished remodeling. When we met up with these two to talk about their space, they were well on their way to designing it. They'd chosen paint colors, laid flooring, and picked out the major pieces, so styling was the main thing they were looking for help with, and we were more than happy to oblige.

      Here's a look at how we styled the space, along with some of Lindsay's take-aways from the whole remodeling process: 


      How would you describe your style?

      Bringing your style to life is difficult on your own, but it's even more difficult when you're combining two styles to create a shared space. 

      Our combined style is somewhere between Scandinavian, Mid-Century, and Urban Modern, with Bjork leaning more towards the clean-ness of minimalist Scandinavian and mine leaning more towards warmth of Mid-Century Modern.

      Our indecision on a handful of the final design style decisions was the main reason we reached out to our Curbly friends to step in and help us lock in a few of the finishing touches. We needed Curbly to give us some suggestions and point us in the right direction, which they did!

      Why did you to transform an attic into a master bedroom?

      We live in a Post-War Cape Cod, which we didn't know was a thing until we bought it. As HGTV describes it, these houses are "are more functional than fun."

      Small closets, small bathroom, small rooms ... you get the idea.

      We love the house and especially love the neighborhood, but when we had friends over, or guests staying with us, we really felt the "small and functional" side of the house, especially given the fact that we all were sharing one bathroom.

      Finishing the attic allowed us to add some fun to our functional home and make it our own. 

      And as we much as we love brushing our teeth next to our guests at end the day, there's something that feels a little bit more adult-ish about going to separate rooms and having separate bathrooms.

      What was your design inspiration?

      We went on a Europe Trip at the end of 2016 and stayed at the one of the cutest "hostels" in the world: Hotel Tannenhof

      They had recently remodeled their rooms, and we loved the look and feel, so we snapped a few photos to bring back home for inspiration.

      What was your biggest challenge?

      We worked with (the awesome! amazing!) McDonald Remodeling. They did an incredible job with digitally laying out what the space would look like with all of the major pieces put together. We could easily play around with how the space would look before committing to anything. While it wasn't easy, putting together the major pieces wasn't quite as hard as we had thought it would be.

      The biggest challenge was the last 20% of the design decisions that we had to make. What pictures would we hang up? What should we put on the shelves? Where should our dog Sage's bed go?

      Yes, we actually had this conversation. And it's next to Bjork's side of the bed, in case you'd like to know.

      What's your favorite part of the space?

      Every house we've ever owned has had the master bedroom on the main level. With our current house, we had a sidewalk and a street right our the bedroom door, so having a master bedroom that's above ground level feels like such a luxury! 

      And, there's the whole don't-have-to-brush-your-teeth-next-to-your-friend-who-is-staying-over benefit that comes with having two bathrooms.

      What was your biggest indulgence?

      Zoned heating! The temperature different between the attic and the main floor is extreme. Combine that with Minnesota's hot and humid summers or freezing cold winters and you can get some pretty uncomfortable temperatures.

      The zoned heating allows us to fine tune the heating for each level. It was something we weren't initially sure that we wanted to do, but we're so glad we did it. Plus, we have our Nest thermostats hooked into an Amazon Echo, so we can change the upstairs or downstairs temperatures by simply talking to Alexa. It's the future!

      What’s one thing you would do differently the next time?

      Add a hidden bookshelf door that opens to a secret gaming room where you can only play classic Nintendo games like Tecmo Super Bowl (this is Bjork's idea that, believe it or not, didn't get added to the final plans).

      In all seriousness, we love the space. Maybe add a heated floor in the bathroom? It's a small thing, but it's -5 degrees today. A warm bathroom floor on a frigid Minnesota day would just take everything to the next level.

      Product List

      Want to see more or my favorite bedroom makeover projects? Check out the 2017 Curbly House Master Bedroom, or Chris' cozy northwest guest bedroom

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      Cozy Den Makeover Using a Paint Sprayer
      Sponsored by Wagner and Trimaco

      One of my favorite things about interior design and home improvement is discovering tools that help us do our job better. Painting is one of those jobs. We paint things all the time - walls, furniture, floors, baskets. Why? Because nothing transforms a space (or an object) quite like paint does.                 

      But painting can also be a chore. It's time consuming, messy, and unforgiving. And it requires careful prep work. A few months ago, Bruno and I took part in a painting event at Wagner Spray Tech. Wagner specializes in paint sprayers that are total game changers. We had always been hesitant to use a sprayer on interior walls, but the folks at Wagner took us into their painting 'lab' and taught us some tricks, and I painted two large walls in less than 10 minutes. Then I looked at Bruno and said, "I'm never rolling a wall again." And I meant it. 

      Not only did the painting process go speedy-fast, but the paint coverage was flawless. No streaks, no thin areas that needed another coat, and no thick, drippy areas that needed to be retouched. It was the most satisfying painting experience of my life.

      We recently completed a room makeover in our home, transforming an empty bedroom that served as a storage/play/catch-all nightmare room into a cozy den. The foundation for the whole room was a fresh coat of paint, and we were eager to experiment with spraying the walls vs. rolling and cutting in. 

      From Catch-All Room to Cozy Den: Room Makeover

      The Prep Work

      Spraying the walls of a room will save you loads of time - like, hours. But, you have to prep your room in order to ensure total success. And that prep work depends on having the right masking and surface protection products. We used a few key supplies from Trimaco to make sure our room was prepped correctly.

      Trimaco makes all the painting jobsite protection products professionals use, and they have something for everything you can think of. When spraying a room, don't be intimidated by the prep work - the truth is, even if you're just rolling and cutting in, you'd have to do the same amount of prep (taping around windows, trim, and baseboards).

      We used two products that are an absolute must if you're spraying a room: 
      - Tape & Drape: pre-taped masking film makes covering windows, doors, and other surfaces super fast and easy.
      - Cling Cover: self-adhering protective plastic sheeting. It clings to almost any surface and also attracts over-spray and dust.

      Here's how it all went down:

      Prepping the Room: Tape and Drape Painter's Tape

      We taped around all the windows and baseboards using Trimaco's Tape & Drape painter's tape. This tape it the bomb! Why? Because it comes with plastic attached to it. You simply apply the tape to the trim, then pull the plastic out to create big swaths of coverage. We applied this same tape along the ceiling line. 

      Prepping a Room for a Paint Sprayer - Flooring

      We covered our floor with a giant, non-slip drop cloth from Trimaco. Adding a tacky back to underside of a drop cloth was somebody's masterstroke because it stays put! 

      Cover your shoes for paint job prep.

      Bruno is gaga for gadgets and he likes to keep his work area super clean, so he insisted we wear plastic coverings on our feet. This was not totally necessary for a job like this, but this floor guard for shoes would be a great addition to a winter cocktail party where people want to keep there fancy shoes on in your house. I'm kidding ... maybe. 

      Using a Paint Sprayer to Paint a Room

      How to Spray an Interior Space

      We used the Flexio 590 Handheld Paint Sprayer. It's perfect for an interior paint job like this, because it can cover an 8x10 foot space in 5 minutes! Before spraying, we added our paint to the sprayer and mixed in a bottle of Wagner's Paint Easy additive to thin the paint and help it go on smoothly. Don't let the notion of thinning your paint fool you into thinking the coverage will be poor. When paint is applied through a sprayed mist, the super-fine droplets land and attach to one another, making the finish smoother than the voice of Barry White.

      Despite the fact that it was freezing when we painted the room, we opened the windows a bit for ventilation. I think anybody who paints does this, but it's especially helpful when spraying a room, because you have paint particles hanging in the air. Wearing a mask is also important - it keeps the misty-fine particles out of your lungs. That said, the Flexio 590 doesn't over-spray nearly as much as you might guess. You won't feel like you're painting in the clouds.

      Painting Walls with a Paint Sprayer

      Bruno painted all four walls of the room in 20 minutes. That's it. 20 minutes and he was D-O-N-E. No second coats, no touch-ups. Can you even?

      Here are some of our best tips for using a paint sprayer:

      1. Keep a damp cloth in your pocket to periodically wipe the tip of the sprayer - it can get blocked as the paint begins to harden. This is important! You'll need to wipe the tip more often than you think ... but doing so will keep the sprayer from clogging and splattering.

      Paint Spraying Tip: Keep a Damp Cloth with You to Wipe the Tip of the Sprayer

      2. Learn how to adjust the sprayer nozzle to change the spray pattern. A horizontal nozzle position creates a vertical pattern; a vertical nozzle creates a horizontal pattern. Putting the nozzle at a diagonal will generate more of a round spray pattern.

      How to Paint a Room Using a Sprayer

      3. Stand close to the wall and keep your sprayer 6-8 inches from the wall. The further back you go, the wider and thinner your painted area becomes. Standing close to the wall helps you get a nice, thick coat on the first try. You want to keep the sprayer closer to the wall than you think; if you feel weirdly close, you're probably doing it correctly. 

      4. Apply the paint in strokes (we like horizontal strokes), and pull your finger off the trigger at the end of each pass to let the paint trail off (rather than doubling up an application by continuing to run the sprayer row-after-row). Overlap each spray pass by about 50% to ensure full coverage. 

      This video on how to use a paint sprayer was extremely helpful in getting us up and running:

      We let the paint cure for an hour, then I removed all the painter's tape and plastic film. We folded up the drop cloth, and the room was a perfect blank canvas set to become all denned out!

      Before we show you all the pretty pictures of the finished room and talk about the design process, I really want to make sure you understand how smooth and efficient the painting process was. I feel like we have a golden key to Paintsville, and we have an obligation to pass on the ease of this method. It is a game changer. It makes painting so quick and easy. Try it out. I promise you'll breakup with your roller and your old ways. 

      A Little Bit About the Den Transformation

      For years, Bruno and I have been unsure about how to use the empty bedroom on our second floor. When we first moved in, it served as our baby boy's nursery, because our house was still under construction and our master bedroom was not complete. Once our remodel was done, we moved him into a larger bedroom, and this little room met an ugly fate: The room where all the misfit toys and furniture lands. I know many of you have a room (or closet) that's befallen this same sort of fate. It's a luxury to have a room like this, especially because you can close the door and kind of forget about it. But, it's also a big bummer. It bothered me that this totally legit room was being used for such a lousy purpose. 

      Catch-All, Unloved Room

      Bleh... what a shame of a room.

      We wavered between making it a guest bedroom (it wouldn't get much use that way) and turning it into a den. Bruno was fairly opposed to having a television on the second floor near our peaceful bedrooms. But, our current first-floor TV situation wasn't working. Because of the configuration of our sunroom, the only furniture we could sit upon to watch a movie was a loveseat. We did this for years, spending many Friday movie nights with kids on our laps. But, our kids are now way too big to do this comfortably, and it was becoming more and more apparent that we needed some kind of family-friendly sofa in our lives. 

      So Bruno got onboard with the second-floor den idea, and we made it happen in two weeks! We ordered a rug, chose a comfy sofa with a chaise (the best seat in the room), and bought a slightly larger television (but not a giant screened beast, because I'm completely opposed to them and don't ever want to feel like I have an actual movie theater in my home - I like going to the movie theater for that kind of thing). 

      Here's how the room came together:

      After: Cozy Den Makeover

      I really love it. It feels a little more country/boho than anything we've designed before. But, this is exactly what I love about it. It's super cozy and understated, but a little hideaway-y and retro (the wall of wicker baskets is very 60s & 70s). And yet, it still feels like it belongs in our house.

      Cozy Den Makeover

      Cozy Den/TV Room Makeover

      Cozy Den Makeover

      Cozy Den Makeover

      Cozy Den Makeover  

      We're in love with our sweet, little den and thrilled with the ease and swiftness of the room's transformation. I hope you'll give spraying a try the next time you paint a wall because it'll save you so much precious time, and the results will be stunning!

      Product List


      Thanks to Wagner and Trimaco for sponsoring this post; all opinions are mine alone. And thanks to you, for supporting Curbly and the brand partners that help keep us going!