In Progress: My Mustard Master Bedroom Goes Black


When we first walked through our home when househunting, the master bedroom was somewhat of a loss with its old burgundy carpeting, mustard yellow paint and drapes, and a single, oddly-placed ceiling light. But it had bits of character shining through - a built-in armoire, beadboard chair rail (even though the chair rail was just extra square trim), and original hardwood floors hiding underneath.

I finally started working on our master bedroom, and couldn't stop obsessing over black paint. In the grand scheme of things, this was my easiest project yet - we replaced the ceiling light, painted the walls, put up curtains, and installed more intricate chair rail molding - relatively small projects compared to the rest of the house. But it's definitely the room that's going to make the biggest before + after impact. Here's a sneak peek at how it's coming along!

Before + After: An Airy Guestroom


The mantle that I salvaged and restored really inspired me to update the rear bedroom in our house. Until that point, we'd used it as an office that quickly turned into a storage room. Since all of my family lives out of state (and we have plenty of friends in other cities) I thought that turning the rear bedroom into a guest bedroom (with a small desk for me to use when needed) would be the best way to breathe some new life into our old house.

When we originally moved in, the first thing we did was rip up the carpeting and refinish the original hardwood floors so luckily for me one of the biggest parts of this project had already been completed! The other larger projects were refinishing and installing the mantle that I salvaged and building a tiny desk inside of the room's only (and tiny!) closet.

I sanded, patched, and brightened up the walls with Bistro White in eggshell and the trim with Ultra White in semi-gloss. The ceiling was also updated with new paint and a brass ceiling pendant from West Elm.

This was also the first time I ever put up curtains  - and I found it was a lot harder than it looks! Inspired by some curtain rods from West Elm, I painted hardware from Ikea with gold spraypaint and found some fantastic antiqued bronze curtain clips to hang the sheers and curtains from. If there is one thing I learned from my first time hemming curtains, it's to make sure that you wash, dry, and steam all of the wrinkles out before you start pinning! My curtains gained at least an inch or two in length after steaming them.

A lot of old rowhomes in Philadelphia have tiny, shallow closets that don't even have enough depth for hangers! In most rentals I've just added shelves and folded clothes and shoes on them, but we decided to add a shelf at desk height to make a tiny workspace.

It just barely fit my computer, and finding a saddle stool that would fit underneath the desk took some digging, but it's actually really comfortable to work at! The top shelf also fits a lot of storage with wire magazine holders and a chalkboard milk crate.

I love how the iron bedframe works with the vintage file cabinet that I used as a nightstand - and an old gumball lamp that I painted with the same paint from the curtain hardware. I really love the metallic stud pillows (Nate Berkus, no longer available) to add a little bit of pop. A vintage brass-plated trunk (I stripped, sanded, and sealed the interior over a weekend) adds even more storage.

My favorite part of the room is definitely the mantle that I restored - it didn't take up that much actual space but really creates a focal point for the room. The vintage mirror was a fantastic find from Jinxed Philadelphia that really opens the room up and is a great backdrop for a few favorites like one of my grandfather's cameras, some favorite books, and some antique brass candlesticks. There's no fooling anyone that it's a faux mantle, so instead I piled up some pillar candles, candlesticks, and a basket (similar) with a throw blanket and sequined pillow along the floor to fill in the space).

DIY Project: Restoring a Historic Mantel


A few months ago I was walking through a rowhome in West Philadelphia that was about to be gutted and rehabbed. A large faux mantel in the corner of the living room caught my eye. I asked the builder if he would be keeping the mantel and he replied that they'd be ripping it out with the rest of the walls, but that I could have it if I wanted it.

I showed up the next day in our pickup truck and brought it back home, not really sure what to do with it, but positive that I couldn't let it get thrown out. And so began a project that took up the better part of three months.

After we brought the mantel inside and upstairs I immediately wondered if I'd bitten off more than I could chew. The mantel looked much bigger in our little rowhome than it did in its previous home, and was caked in layers and layers of white and yellow paint - so built up that you could barely see the details on the columns and trim.

I decided to strip and sand the mantel down to its original wood, hoping that it would be intact. Because of its age, I assumed that at least some of the layers were lead paint, so tried to strip as much of the paint away before wet sanding to minimize getting paint dust in the air.

If you attempt on refinishing any piece of furniture that may contain lead paint always assume the worst and make sure that you exercise extreme caution. Only attempt to remove paint outside or in a very well ventilated room with a respirator as well as a disposable coveralls and gloves, and minimize any dust by keeping the surface damp when removing paint. When in doubt, always contact a professional.

Working only on nights and weekends, it took months for me to finally strip all of the paint off to reveal the wood veneer beneath. I also decided to pull off the top shelf of the mantel so that it didn't look so oversized in the room (I'm saving that piece for another project) and we cut into the baseboards to truly create a built-in mantel.

Unfortunately for me, the wood had a lot of flaws - too many to simply stain the wood - so I decided to patch all of the holes and paint the mantel with a fresh coat of paint to match the baseboards and trim.

THE BIG REVEAL: Our Living Room


I'm so excited that my living room was finally feeling done just in time to submit to Apartment Therapy's Big Reveal Contest! Click through to head to the post on Apartment Therapy!