Friday, March 1, 2013


We had something really exciting happen this week--something that we've been wanting for months.  We found renters for our old house!!  They are a sweet, young couple who are looking for a place to settle for a few years, especially since they are expecting their first child.  As mentioned in my About the Manor page, our old house is located beside our new one.  So we basically were able to handpick our own neighbors.  I'm especially excited that they're expecting, since I love having babies around!  We're not quite ready for another, so this should give me a nice, temporary baby fix :)

I don't blog about our old house, since most of our time is spent doing projects around our new home.  But if you have read my About the Manor page, you'll see that our old house was a complete DIY project.  We did alllll the renovations ourselves--sheet rock, plumbing, electrical, flooring, painting, etc.  I always knew I was a "DIY" kind of gal, but my interests towards anything DIY were heightened after this massive reno with my amazing love!  

I'll be honest:  the sentiment towards the house hasn't set in until this week.  It's been vacant for almost 6 months, and I guess it still felt like "ours".  Of course we still own it, but it is now going to be occupied by someone else--a family that is going to make their own memories in this house.  Make it their home.  

We finished up some painting and other small projects on it over the weekend, and the emotions hit me as I began the final clean.  I kept going through the rooms, calling them by their former names.  Heath would say something like, "It will always be Ian's room, won't it?", and I'd feel my stomach drop a little.  We've been in such a craze to just get it done and get it rented, that I haven't stopped to think about it.

Yes, it will always be our first home.  The place we spent a year and a half of our dating/engaged lives renovating.  Where we began our married life together.  Where we brought home our sweet doxie, Bailey shortly after we wed because I just HAD to have a puppy.  Where we brought home our son, Ian on a rainy, February night in 2010, and watched him grow by leaps and bounds for 2 1/2 years.  Where we hosted friends and family for meals, parties, and holiday gatherings.  Where we celebrated birthdays, anniversaries, and promotions.  Where we mourned the deaths of family members and friends.

We wouldn't be where we are today with that house.  And for this, we will be forever grateful.


Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Pinterest Challenge: DIY Bookshelves

I have a reeeeeally hard time saying no to certain challenges.  They’re kind of hard not to accept, especially when:

A.  They deal with DIY projects.
B.  They’re given by some of the top bloggers in America!

John and Sherry Petersik from Young House Love blog teamed with Katie from Bower Power Blog, Michelle from Décor & the Dog, and Megan from The Remodeled Life to host 

Actually, Sherry and Katie’s adorable made-for-each-other tots announced the challenge on a video, that’s just too cute for words!  If you have a minute, click the picture above to watch it.  Who can resist saying no to such sweet faces?!  Not this mama!

Since we’re re-doing Ian’s big boy room, I have several projects in process that have been inspired by things I've pinned from other blogs.  I finished one recently, that I actually blogged about the afternoon after the challenge was posted.   So I’m blogging about it again, for the sake of the challenge.

It’s no surprise that we love a good DIY project.  A total DIY project, i.e. building it from scratch, is an even bigger thrill for us.  Especially one that we can do in a matter of hours, at a very small cost!  I’ve already shown you our DIY Distressed pieces for Ian’s room; and while they’re perfect for storing small books and toys, we needed another solution for his bigger books.

I’ve seen some cool things around the web, such as turning spice racks into bookshelves.  Jen at IHeart Organizing used these in another "big boy room" remodel for her friend, and I just loved the idea of these to hang on the wall!  I actually loved everything about this bedroom, since we're going with the whole tractor theme for Ian's bedroom.  I had pinned this image several months ago here, but just recently had the time to do the project.

See the little green racks by the window?  I wanted to use something similar, and I began discussing it with Heath one afternoon, showing him the above picture.  I had planned on finding some small racks and just repainting them, but he said we still had some smaller pieces of wood left over from construction--probably enough to build 2 racks.  This is why communication is so important, people!

I wanted to have 2 shelves and for them to be shallow, like a spice rack; and that they needed to be 18” wide to accommodate even the widest or oddest shaped book.  We headed down to the basement and decided on which boards to use.

Board Sizes:
1”x6” board for the bottom and sides
1”x2” board for the front and back pieces

He cut the boards down to the size needed, using our miter saw, and connected them all using wood glue and 5/8” Brad nails.

Bottom piece is 18” wide
Side pieces are each 6” tall
Front and back pieces are each 18” wide

Once all the pieces were connected, he used an electric sander to smooth out any rough spots and edges.

We used some leftover paint primer {also from our build} to apply a thin coat to each shelf.  The reason for this was to help give us a good base for the final paint colors.

I wanted to paint one green and one blue, which are 2 of the basic colors in the scheme for his room.  I went to Lowe's to get paint for the shelves.  Thankfully, a few of their brands offer trial sizes at a great price ($2.94 each) that contain plenty of paint for small projects!  I chose Olympic paint, purchasing one in the color Globe Artichoke and one in the color Indigo Blue.

Since the new paint was so dark against the light primer, we wanted to make sure there was full coverage.  Using a disposable foam brush, we applied 3 coats of the green and blue to each shelf, making sure they dried well between coats.

He used one of our favorite tools, the Skil laser level, to shoot straight lines on the wall.  It's neat because you can clamp it to just about anything, for vertical and horizontal lines.  We paid $50 for it this past summer, and it’s been worth every penny around the Manor!  

Then drilled screws through the back pieces and into the wall, centering them between the adjacent wall and the window frame. 

These new DIY shelves are another great addition to Ian’s “big boy” room, and they offer plenty of space to add many more books to his collection.

Although I enjoy being crafty on my own, I love collaborating with Heath on projects like this; and he never ceases to amaze me with skills.  Handy husbands certainly are priceless!  Since we already had most of the materials, the total cost of this project was only in the paint, at a whopping $6.23.  We only used about half of each jar, making this even more cost-efficient since we can use it on other small projects around his room.  Maybe frames?  Art work?  Canvases?  Oh, the possibilities!

Thanks for checking out our project!  Please head over to the hosts blogs to check out their Pinterest-inspired projects, as well as the many, many other bloggers that have linked up!

Linked to:  A Bowl Full of Lemons; Home Stories A to Z; House of Hepworths; Live Laugh Rowe; The Crafty Blog Stalker; Create Craft Love; The Shabby Nest; The Taylor House; Young House Love


Monday, February 25, 2013

Office Overhaul: FINISHED!!

I am breathing a major sigh of relief that our office cove is done!  I've shared the progress for this space, which you can see by clicking in the links within the body or at the bottom of the post.  If you've been following along you've already seen it, but for newbies—welcome!   This space makes me, as Phil on Duck Dynasty says, “Happy, Happy, Happy”!  We love that show, especially Jase and Si.  I digress.

“Before” shots of the cove.  I promise I did nothing before shooting these pics.  It was that bad.  The sad part is that it stayed this way for a few weeks while we moved.

I explained in the Intro that we have limited space in this area, but after cleaning out our file cabinet and desk and after moving all my crafting items down to the guest room closet (can’t WAIT to tackle that space), I was surprised with how much room was left.  You can find the details of the sorting phase on this post.

And now the “after”.  Can you guess my favorite color?  You could say our office has the blues :)

The desk isn't large, but it fits perfectly in the space.  The items we use the most reside in and on it:  laptop, printer, calculator, stationary, sticky notes, extra checks, and some other office supplies.  We already owned the desk chair, which is still in almost-new condition.

I purchased this adorable blue lamp at Target for $20, and I was all but dancing down the aisles when I spotted it!  The shade is white with floral inside, so it looks like this when lit.

It’s kind of vintage—don’t you think?  It doesn't give off a lot of light, but it works just fine in the cove since the ceiling is sloped.

This picture was given to me back in college by my mom, who was a victim of my morning mood for many years.  Maybe that’s when my love for color blue began?

The bright blue boxes are from the Martha Stewart Collection at Staples, and they hold regular computer paper and white cardstock (used weekly).

The file cabinet rests on the floor beside the desk, which is almost hidden at a quick glance but still easily accessible.  You can see how we utilize it to its full potential here.  Maybe one of these days I’ll “pretty it up”, but for now it’s purely functional.

The boxes on top are also Martha Stewart, and they hold magazines and action items that come up from our Command Center.  The vertical file folders in the action items box are, what else--Martha Stewart!   Labels {from my label maker} identify the contents and help to keep incoming papers organized.

The bookcase holds the Storage Box, mason jars with writing utensils, most of our binders, some truck catalogs, smaller books, and boxes for labels and sheet protectors.

That’s it, folks!   We packed a lot into this area, but it all is organized and functional for our needs.  The way we can keep it this way is to file papers immediately, to put everything back in its place, and to not buy more things we don’t need.

What do you think of our cove?  Do you have any favorite tips for offices, or just small spaces in general, to share?

Links to all the Office Overhaul posts are also below, if you didn't click in the links above.

1.  Intro
2.  Sorting It Out
3.  Storage Box Makeover
4.  Repurposed Microwave Cart (Bookcase)
5.  File or Foe

Thanks for checking out our space!

Note:  I played with some setting on my DSLR to try and get the best pictures for this space.  Considering there is zero natural light, it was quite a challenge.  I tried my best, and I hope to get better and better with it as time passes!

Linking to:  IHeart Organizing; Home Stories A to Z; A Bowl Full of Lemons; House of Hepworths; Live Laugh Rowe; The Taylor House


Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Organizing Paid Off

Remember when I mentioned at the end of my Organizing Tax Documents post, that I hoped the extra steps I took this year would pay off?  Well they did!  I won’t go into the details of our actual return, but it was beneficial financially to have all of our statements correct and ready to be entered into their system.  Our tax accountant was thrilled that I had all my statements in order and could quickly refer to one when necessary.  She also loved that I had a spreadsheet with totals for all my expenses, rather than just a bunch of receipts.

This all saved her time and us money, since she gave us a great discount on her rate to do our return.  Yeah, buddy!!  We were all smiles that evening :)

I'm not guaranteeing that this would happen to everyone, as it depends on who does your taxes; but it certainly is something to consider if you haven't already filed and plan on having a professional do your return.  It certainly won't hurt to be prepared beforehand!

Hooray for being organized!  And for saving money!  And for being done with our tax return!

Have a great weekend!


Sunday, February 17, 2013

Distressed, For Less

What is it about distressed pieces that make us go ga-ga sometimes?  Distressed jeans, furniture, artwork, accessories, etc.--that sometimes go for major bucks!  Because we’re such DIYers, we wanted to do something ourselves to get this look for some recent purchases, without breaking the bank.

Heath remembered a technique he had seen recently, where someone used a blowtorch to burn places in wood to darken it—giving it a more distressed and aged look.  Hmm…a chance to use the blowtorch?  I’m in!!  Before I get to those details, let me explain the inspiration for the whole thing…

When we began plans for our son’s big boy room, we started with basic furniture pieces that we wanted to use.  The theme of the room is tractors, using basic "boy colors" of red, green and blue.  Because all of his clothes are stored in his closet now, he has plenty of room for a bigger bed, nightstands, bookshelves, a desk, and another large piece later if later needed.

We first threw around ideas for a piece to hold his books and toys, and we quickly decided that a case with cubbies would be nice to help organize all the smaller stuff.   We wanted to use pieces that were kind of “earthy” to go along with the whole tractor theme, and Heath mentioned some wooden crates he had seen at The Home Depot within the past week.  We finished our discussion {over lunch} and headed right to the store to check them out!

I immediately fell in love with the crates and was shocked to see the price--$8 each on sale!  HECK YEAH!!  Making them on our own would cost more than that, after the cost of the materials and our time.  We decided to use these to make not only a bookcase, but also 2 nightstands.  We filled our cart with 8 crates and headed home.

Before the burning began, Heath connected the crates using wood glue and 5/8” brad nails.

If we want to use these elsewhere in the future, they’ll just have to stay together…cause they ain’t comin’ apart!  We really don’t care that they won’t, since they were so inexpensive to create.

Alright, time for some heat.

I shot a video of Heath torching some spots on one of the pieces.  I figured it would be easier to show this rather than try and explain how long to hold it in one place, how close to hold the torch, etc.  The beauty of this technique is that there is no “perfect” result with it.  You can torch as much or as little as you want/need, depending on the desired look.

In this video, you get to see our furbaby for 5 seconds, hear Ian for 2 seconds, and listen to my southern-ness for 2 minutes :)  And apparently, I love the smell of burning wood...

We had some stain leftover from when our hardwoods were finished, which would eliminate the need for us to try and match up the color ourselves.  Bonus!!  Heath applied a coat of stain to all the pieces, using a disposable foam brush; and he wiped off excess using a rag.

Notice that you can still see the burned spots through the stain, which is exactly what we wanted.

Once the stain was completely dry, I applied a coat of semi-gloss polyurethane with another foam brush.

Once that dried completely, I ran over all the pieces with a stripping pad.

The reason for doing this was to smooth out any rough areas in the wood and any bubbles and drips from the first coat of poly.  I don't think this is technically the purpose of this pad, but it was effective.  The criterion for this being finished was if I could run my latex glove-covered hand over it and not hit any snags.  I didn’t bother with it being completely smooth, since after all--we're going for a worn look.

I applied one more coat of semi-gloss poly, to finish all the pieces. 

We left them in the basement, giving them plenty of time to dry and for the fumes from the poly to dissipate before we brought them into the house.

Here are the finished pieces in Ian’s room.  The nightstands are perfect for his lamps, new radio {that he proudly picked out himself}, piggy bank, small books, and puzzles. 

I ADORE these little lamps!!

The bookcase holds small bins and other fun toys and accessories.

Ian loves his new furniture, and we are amazed at how well the torching technique worked for these pieces.  We’ll definitely use this again, and I highly recommend trying this to “distress” wood pieces.  I've seen it done on wood that was already stained, but the wood had been sanded very well first to strip off all of the finish.  

Just please remember to be SAFE when doing this.  Make sure nothing flammable is near, work in a well-ventilated area, and turn the blowtorch off completely when not in use!

Thanks for checking out our latest project!  If you have any questions on this process, please leave a comment below or email me privately at

Linked to:  Home Stories A to Z; A Bowl Full of Lemons; House of Hepworths; Live Laugh Rowe; The Crafty Blogstalker; Create Craft Love; The Shabby Nest; The Taylor House; Repurpose My Life; Crafts A La Mode


Friday, February 15, 2013

Ian’s Room - Intro

This is my first official post about Ian’s new “big boy” room!  Our goal was to have it completed in February, and a lot of our time for projects has been dedicated to his room.  I already gave some sneak peeks of projects on Instagram @manorqueensc (hint:  my feed on the right sidebar), and I am finally ready to begin blogging about it!

Here are the specifics:

  • The room is 13'-4" x 11'-6", with a large, 8' x 4' walk-in closet.  Lucky boy!
  • Hardwood floors
  • Wall color is Simply Beige by Sherwin Williams
  • One large window that faces our front yard
Unfortunately, I’m a loser who didn’t take good “before” pics.  The only ones were those we took during our build, which don’t give much of an idea of the room features or size.

The closet

The room had a crib, dresser, a chest of drawers, and a wooden toy box.  I fully intended to take more pics before we made the furniture switch to bring in his bigger bed, which we didn't plan on doing until February.  So much for those plans…

Long story short, we decided Ian needed to move into a big boy bed after 2 sleepless nights in mid-January.  He had always been such a great sleeper in his crib, so it threw us for a complete loop when he no longer wanted to be in it.

The "new" bed is a full size and had previously been used in our old house as part of our guest room, pre-Ian.  We gave it to my in-laws when we converted the room to a nursery, and they graciously gave it back to us to put in the new house.  They had never used it and don’t really have a need for it, and we were thankful to not have to fork out funds for another one!  His old crib will convert to a toddler, day, or full size bed, but we chose to put it into storage until we need it again for our next child.  We have the storage space now, so it only made sense to save it for the next time around.

We put the chest of drawers in our Bonus Room and his matching dresser (that we used as a changing table) into our Master Bedroom.  It works perfectly as storage for our satellite box and for blankets and fits in beautifully with the décor!  More on that space in a future month.

All of the clothes from the dresser and chest were moved to his closet.  I have a whole post to explain more on this process, but basically we have no need for any kind of clothes storage in any of the rooms in our house because all of our closets are so large.  This was one of the best things we could have done, since it really frees up a lot of room in those living spaces!

As I said above, we already have several other things in progress, from DIY furniture to artwork and accessories.  Stay tuned for the reveals of each project and keep checking my Instagram feed for more sneak peeks @manorqueensc.  Sometimes I get too excited to not share something!

Have a fabulous weekend!