The Moment We’ve All Been Waiting For…

I found new nightstands! Finally. Yup, that took a while. Before I jump into the new, let’s go over this again. You might remember my old nightstands? They were about 16 inches too tall for my bed and belonged to my parents. I’d promised them I would eventually return the side tables and when they bought a new bed for their guest room, I knew it was time. Their new bed is the perfect height for these tall, dark, and handsome guys.

 

Left Nightstand | Land of Laurel

 

I’d been checking craigslist, yard sales, and estate sales for about 8 months now, searching for anything that I could substitute these guys for. I needed something about 20″ – 26″ high and no more than 24″ wide. The width was a major issue, as I truly only have 25″ on either side of my bed. Any nightstand wider than that simply wouldn’t fit in the room. The deeper, the nightstand, the better, as I am lacking in storage. I hoped for something with lots of drawers I could fill up. My love of symmetry demanded there be two identical ones. After months of looking, I finally landed on this somewhat promising looking ad:

 

Craigslist Nightstand Ad | Land of Laurel

 

The nightstands looked functional and the drawer was much needed, plus there were two of them and the price was decent. I didn’t love the color, but I figured I could always paint them green or white or blue. The fact that they only had one drawer, deterred me slightly, but I had yet to find anything else that would come close to fitting in my space. Plus, I could always stick a basket there and fill that up. I figured I might as well give it a try. I emailed the seller to see if he’d take $50 for both of them. He agreed to the price and I met him the next day with cash. When I took a look at the nightstands in person, I was disappointed. His measurements from the ad were completely wrong. The nightstands are 20 inches wide, 14″ deep, and 24.5″ high. It may seem like only a slight difference, but when you’re lacking storage and need incredibly functional nightstands, every inch counts! My plan to paint them would still work, however, the wood finish was in such good shape, I was hesitant to even do that!

 

I turned to the seller and told him that the nightstands were a lot smaller than what I was anticipating and I didn’t want them. He was surprised, but he really wanted to get rid of them. He offered me $40 for both. Now, a normal person would simply have walked away. They didn’t really fit my needs, right? I am not a normal person. This was such a deal! Two solid wood, matching nightstands in great shape with dovetail joints? This isn’t an everyday find. Maybe I’d learn to love them. At $20 each, they were significantly less expensive than anything else I’d see. Most people on craigslist were asking for $200 per nightstand. Way out of my budget. So what did I do?

 

I handed over two twenties and left with the nightstands of course.

 

I have no will power. None. At all. Whatsoever. Just ask that bar of chocolate in my kitchen… Oh wait. You can’t. I already ate it!

 

I brought the nightstands home and wiped them down with Honest Multi-Purpose spray. Once they were clean, I moved them into my room. I didn’t want to buy baskets for them just yet, so I filled the bottoms with what I had lots of: books. They looked… okay. Sigh. Not exactly the magical moment I was hoping for…

 

New Nightstands with Books | Land of Laurel

 

Even if that photo had been taken when the weather was sunny and the lighting cooperative, they general idea wouldn’t change much. The new nightstands just didn’t look right in the space. Dang! The books certainly were not helping. The color of the nightstands contrasted both from the red tone of the fir woodwork in the house and the espresso finish on my headboard. This was not good.

 

I tried one more time to make things look a bit better and filled the nightstands with blue and green books in tones similar to that in my bedding. This helped things, but honestly, the nightstands were still not doing it for me. Sure, the book storage was great and I could even slip my laptop in there among them, but I lost tons of storage overall and this just didn’t look great.

 

Nightstands with Blue Books | Land of Laurel

 

I was somewhat surprised that I had enough books in these color tones to fill the other nightstand. I have a lot of books. Possibly too many, but whatever, I love them. And I re-read them! Also does anyone else see a monster peeking up out of the floor in the shadow outline of the bottom of the nightstands in between the feet? Just the top of his head, two little ears sticking out?Just what I need, right? A monster hiding in my bedroom. As if I don’t already have enough stress dreams!

 

Nightstand with Green Books | Land of Laurel

 

Still this look… wasn’t working for me. I thought, maybe if I lived with them I’d learn to love them. So one month later here I am. What have I decided? Nothing. What have I created? A Pro/Con List.

 

New Nightstand Pros

  • They’re the right height for the bed, making turning on or off the light at night easy
  • They are wide enough to fit the space by the bed, but skinny enough to not overwhelm the space or make it look stuffed in
  • I can store books here!
  • I can paint them green or white
  • I have a great excuse to buy cute new pulls at Athropologie or the Alameda Flea Market

 

New Nightstand Cons

  • The wood tone is awful, but the finish is in such good shape, I’d feel guilty painting them
  • There is not enough storage
  • The drawer is too shallow to fit some of the taller things I’d like to store in it (like vitamins!)
  • I could fit wider nightstands for more storage
  • I don’t particularly like the curvy look

 

Conclusions? These nightstands work in some ways, but not others. If I didn’t need more storage they would be okay. I don’t love the look, so why keep them? I’ve already started looking for new ones on craigslist. I also have high hopes for a nice sunny spring day hitting up some Santa Cruz yard sales too. My Aunt Pat is the queen of Santa Cruz yard sales and we could make a fun day of it. If only it would stop raining!

 

Yay for mistakes! Someone told me once to be proud of your failures, because how else do you learn? In fact, she told me to yell it out. So, here it goes. I FAILED!! These nightstands were the wrong choice.

 

Moving on. What have I learned? Sometimes, you should just wait it out until you find something truly perfect for your space. Once I find new nightstands, I’ll sell these guys on craigslist and hopefully make a small profit. Someone else out there must be looking for matching nightstands right? Fingers crossed! It certainly has been a rough design rollercoaster in 2016. I’ll share some other not so great things I’ve bought recently later this week. Oops!

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Scrappy Headboard

Hello everyone! Hope everyone has had a wonderful first couple weeks of January! I can’t believe how fast the month has been going. Please excuse my radio silence; I’ve been trying to re-find my footing post-holidays! It’s been a crazy few weeks. Crazy good for the most part. But now — on to the good stuff.

 

Because my bedroom is on the first floor of the house, people always place their coats and bags in there when we have a party or people over for dinner. I don’t mind at all – in fact, my inner show-off likes to have people parading through that room. Plus it means I really truly have to clean up in there on the reg. Which, for me, is a much needed incentive as I tend to let things (clothes) pile up. By far, what people comment on the most after going into my room is my headboard.

 

New Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

I built my headboard while I was home for the summer during college. I used entirely scrap wood my dad had piled up (maybe this piling is genetic?) in the garage. It was a great way to get rid of some of the left over wood in a fun and useful way. Plus, some of the scrap wood was high quality walnut or cherry. The kind of wood you don’t want to just lie around forever! While I’d seen others use scrap wood to make headboards, most people seemed to be trimming it in, laying it horizontally, or cutting it into the outline of a more traditional headboard. I hadn’t seen anyone really let the mismatched wood take the point of focus. I wanted the scrappiness of the wood to take center stage. I wanted it to be obvious that the wood was collected and different.

 

I started by going through the wood in my parents’ garage. I wanted pieces that not only differed from each other, but were also different lengths and widths. Most of all, I wanted wood boards that had character, that looked like they’d live an entire life as something else. I found what I could, but when I first started grabbing, I realized many were looking quite similar.  You can see here that several boards were about the same length and width. That wouldn’t do!

Pre-Cut Wood | Land of Laurel

 

Once I’d laid out all the planks I needed for my new headboard, I marched several to be cut. Some I wanted shorter, some I wanted to rip two or three inches off to make two boards and break up some of the monotony. The whole dream for this was variation, differences, a story. To do this, I enlisted the help of a table saw… And my father. At the time, he felt I wasn’t to be trusted alone with a table saw. Silly man, I may be ridiculously clumsy, but I’ve never seriously injured myself! At the time though, I appreciated the help. I marked exactly where I wanted each board width ripped and handed those off to him, while I used a chop saw to alter some of the lengths. You can see here, how uneven I wanted these cuts. The boards were not being ripped right down the middle!

 

Ripping Boards for a Headboard | Land of Laurel

 

Once we’d made all our cuts, the boards showed so much more variation! It was exactly like I’d pictured, everything different, each plank it’s own story. My clear favorite was – and is to this day – the wide grey board with a knot hole missing from it. That was the kind of character I was hoping for! Now it was just time to figure out what order they would rest in. Again, I wanted contrast, short next to long, wide next to skinny. There needed to be some flow as well and I made sure to pay some attention to symmetry. I wanted to make sure the headboard wasn’t tall on one end and short on the other!

 

Scrap Wood Headboard | Land of Laurel

 

Once my boards were all cut and an order had been decided upon, I numbered them all with a pencil and brought them inside. I lined them all up against a straight object (a window seat in this case), and began the process of fastening them all together. There are a variety of ways I could have done this, but the whole idea at the start of the project was to use only things left over from other projects. So I grabbed a two by four and cut it’s length to match the width of my headboard. I did this twice so I ended up with two matching two by fours.

 

Scrap Wood Lined Up | Land of Laurel

 

I wish I had more pictures, but I worked on this project so long ago, I didn’t take them with a blog in mind! These pictures were all taken with an old point and shoot camera too, so excuse the graininess! You’ll have to imagine this next part. I laid both of my two by fours horizontally, perpendicular to the planks of scrap wood. One board I placed close to the top and one closer to the bottom. Then I took a bunch of left over drywall screws, got out a drill, and drilled a screw through the two by fours and into the scrap wood over and over and over until each piece of scrap wood was held on by two screws. Once the whole thing was held together, I took my new (and heavy!) headboard back outside onto the sawhorses.

 

I wanted there to be variation and character in the planks, but this was, first and foremost, a headboard. Which meant it needed to be smooth, without splinters to catch on linens, hair, or my skin! I got out an electric sander and went to town! I evened out the wood board transitions and made sure nothing was left to catch on anything. After I finished this, I missed some of the natural scratches and lines on the boards though. What to do? How to fix this?

 

If you ever want to beat something up, this is the project for you, my friends. I took out a hammer and some nails and bolts and started going to town. I made little divots by laying the bolts and nails down on the boards and then hammering them. It was actually really fun! I’ve heard you can also use bicycle chains and pretty much anything else you have laying around to give wood some character.

 

Then, once my boards were nicely beaten up, it was time to stain! Still outside, I took out a can of dark mocha stain left over from another project (aka free!) and gave the entire thing two coats, waiting between coats as directed on the can. After I wiped down the second coat of stain I went back and dripped additional stain on a few places on the headboard. I was hoping to add a bit more personality to the wood in this way as well. The spots of extra stain became much darker and some combined to create organic shapes.

 

After the stain had dried, cured, and off-gassed outside for several days, I brought inside and leaned it up against my bed. My bed was a birthday gift when I was twelve. At the time, I was completely enamored, but several years later, I was over the cold, silver metal and modern look. It had come from IKEA and had held up well, but just wasn’t my style anymore. I tried to find a picture of it and I did manage to – the picture is just old and showcases my crazy high school bedroom in all it’s holiday finest! Bet you never thought you see something this exciting! Look at that plate holder turned CD rack, the headboard in the center of the room, the extreme mess… so glad I’ve grown up! Haha!

High School Bedroom | Land of Laurel

 

Anyways, the metal headboard? Out! The bed itself? Totally reuseable. In fact, I placed my new scrap wood headboard directly in front of the old metal one and held it in place with eye hooks and twist ties! Now, you can hardly tell the old metal bed lives underneath that gorgeous scrap wood headboard! Plus, my new West Elm bedspread hides all those metal bed legs. Bam! Whole new look! Cost? Absolutely free. Pretty good deal if you ask me!

 

Garden Trellis Bedding | Land of Laurel

 

Have you made a headboard before? Or repurposed scrap wood to make something new and unexpected? It was a fun challenge to make something like this for absolutely nothing!

Going for the gold!

Sorry for the long absence! I got the cold of death right before Thanksgiving and barely survived! Or at least that how it felt… The cold is mostly gone though I’m still fighting off a nasty post-nasal drip. Aren’t you glad I told you? I ended up taking a few days off work and lying in bed all day and as much as I wanted to be productive here on the blog, watching re-runs of Grey’s Anatomy on Netflix was pretty much all I was capable of! And then it was Thanksgiving! My goodness how fast November went by! December should be a good month though. I have some fun things planned and have been getting crafty with my family! Get ready for colorful garlands and festive Christmas trees! Until then, let’s get back to my bathroom.

 

So when I first moved into this house there were a few things I immediately bought: sheets, towels, contact solution, a shower curtain. You know, the essentials. Standing in the aisle at Target that night there weren’t many options. And it was 9:30pm. And I’d spent the entire day moving boxes of books into the house and putting furniture pieces back together with nuts and bolts. I was exhausted. I grabbed the first shower curtain that looked decent to me. It was white and yellow and had a bold chevron pattern. Yellow would look good, I thought, the walls are yellow after all, and the countertop is yellow, and mustard-y yellow looks good with burgundy red. You remember my shower curtain right?

 

DSC_0241

Well, it’s not mustard. Or yellow. When I got home I realized that the florescent lights of Target in Emeryville had hidden a key item. The metallic sheen. My shower curtain was gold. I was upset for all of five seconds before I realized I’d made a fantastic mistake! You know the saying “There are no mistakes, only changes in plan”? It’s dead on the nose correct. My plan changed and the space is better for it.

 

Gold. That was what I decided. Gold accents in the bathroom. Sure, the door knobs are oil rubbed bronze and the bathroom fixtures are chrome. Whatever. Metallics are in. And this is the season of gold. Suddenly gold is everywhere! Aged brass, brushed bronze, unlaquered brass, call it what you will. The 80’s fave is trending again. Bring on the gold! Look at a design magazine, they’re starting to pop up more and more. People are embracing gold! Gold is warm! Gold is friendly! Gold is new(?)! Or at least new again… Ha!

 

I embraced my happy accident. I decided to go for it. And no, I’m not changing out my beautiful fixtures or painting them or anything crazy that will prevent me from getting my security deposit back. I am going for mixed metals and giving gold a big ol’ welcoming hug complete with back rubs and a gentle squeeze. Heelllloooo gold!

 

First things first, that black plant stand? Going for the gold! The plant stand is the perfect place for stashing my watch or my hair ties when I shower or my book when I’m getting into the bath. It’s super convenient and I love it. Err… Correction: I love the functionality of it. The actual stand itself? Hideous! I got it for free from work when we cleared out the warehouse last summer. It’s chipped and rough and not fantastic in anyway. Guess what? I changed that. I switched things up! I went for the gold! Here’s how it was looking the other day when I pulled the plant off the stand and carried the stand outside.

 

Land of Laurel

 

After looking at it’s sad, sad state, I gave the entire thing a good sanding with some rough grit sand paper. I wanted to be very careful to get off anything looking rusty and anything that looked like chipping paint. I spent quite a bit of time sanding this actually. I wanted to be sure that the gold with stick! After a good while it was looking more like this and ready for some paint.

 

Plant stand sanded | Land of Laurel

 

Once it was sanded I was especially careful to wipe the entire thing down and dust off the area it was standing in. I wanted to be sure there wasn’t a single spec of sanding dust on that stand. Spray paint is durable, but it needs to be properly applied. In a wet environment like my bathroom? Worth the extra effort to get this right. Dampness can definitely affect a coat of paint. Once I was sure the stand was good and clean, I took out my primer and went to town!Plant Stand Primed | Land of Laurel

 

Primer does wonders for holding on to a coat of paint, so I gave the stand a few coats. Unfortunately, painting something as thin as this is a bit wasteful. The stream of paint goes on wider than the tiny bars of steel. I needed a second coat for sure. Plus, after the first coat I looked it over and realized I’d forgotten to paint entire sides of the bars. You guys, there are so many sides on this stand! I was sitting and crouching and peering over the top at it trying to get a coat of paint on every surface! So. Many. Surfaces. No wonder geometry is so difficult!

 

Once I was done with the primer, I moved on to paint. Guess what color? Just kidding, you already know I went for the gold! This Rust-Oleum color is such a nice gold. It’s not too yellow-gold if you know what I mean. It’s a tad more neutral and has just the right amount of metallic sheen. It’s a very modern take on gold. I luuurve it!

 

Gold Paint | Land of Laurel

 

Ooops, there’s a surprise project hiding in the back of that photo too. It snuck it! Promise I’ll share the deets soon.

 

Anyways, the gold looked good! But boy did I use a lot of paint. SO. MANY. SURFACES. Did I mention that??

 

Plant Stand Gold! | Land of Laurel

 

And that’s just after the first coat! See how it’s a bit patchy in places? I needed to work to get good coverage on all. those. surfaces! So many sides, people! So many!!

 

I love the stand in gold! It just gleams! It’s like a gold medal platform for my plant. Just perfect. It’s great for stashing last minute items before I hop into the shower or for keeping things dry, but in reach when I take a bath. It’s pretty convenient. And now it looks great too! I stuck rubber furniture pads on the bottom of it to lift it slightly off the floor in case things get a little wet. Better safe than sorry! Hopefully that helps keep the paint looking fresh down the line!

 

Plant Stand Gone Gold | Land of Laurel

 

I turn the stand at an angle in the bathroom — following the curve of the bathtub actually — so the shower curtain slides behind it more easily.A simple, quick fix, but it feels so much nicer! I popped that plant on top and stuck my watering can beneath it. I stick the watering can in the shower when the water is getting hot, so I like to keep it close by. This seems to be the perfect spot! Plus Malary likes to sip out of it. Gotta stay hydrated right?

The stand is a bit more of a neutral gold than the slightly more yellow-y shower curtain gold, but they work fine together in my opinion and I prefer the more neutral color.

I’m slowing checking off the boxes of the to-do list in here. Closing in on having this space almost complete! Just need a bit more time. I’m excited to have one room done, done, done!