Archive of ‘decoration’ category

Our Home Office

When you walk through our front door, our office is the first room that you seen to your left. Here’s what it looked like when we first moved in:

afterlightphoto 3dining room

It’s technically a living room, but we use it as our home office. It’s far from finished and I have big dreams for this room, but in the meantime, I’m calling it “done for now.”

It’s got a lot of good things working for it: Two sets of french doors (one from the hallway, another that leads to the dining room), a built-in bench, and a beautiful big window. The only thing working against it is the size. At 12×12, this room is pretty small, but I think we managed to make it a cozy space.


IMG_8382  478 464468462475485480482

In case you are interested, here are some resources for the room (because I’m always nosy about where people got their stuff):

  • Bookcases: J’s mom dropped off a lot of furniture when we first moved into our house, and the bookcases were unexpected but she thought we could put in closets or sell if we didn’t want it. Low and behold they fit perfectly side by side in this little room!
  • Paint color: Unknown, original when we bought the house
  • Silver lamp: Pottery barn, a wedding gift
  • Rug: Amazon, from my mom two years ago for my birthday
  • Art: Map from amazon, painting by my grandmother
  • Wire basket: TJ Maxx
  • Blue vase: Target
  • Mugs/Pencil holders, candle: Anthropologie
  • Desk, chair, bronze lamp: Hand-me-downs.

I am so thankful for all of the donations our families have given us to furnish this place. Most of the things I’ve had before, so I’ve really only put about $20 or so into this room.

If/when we have kids, I would love for this room to be converted to a library/playroom. My long term vision is to build bookcases around the window so it’s a nice little library with a window seat. Then get a love seat against the wall for reading and a small table in the middle of the rug for kids to play and color and do whatever. But who knows, I may need a room just for me when that day comes. :)

Left to do:

  • Organize the books — right now they are not in any particular order
  • Get matching lamps
  • Paint the room — I am thinking either something dark and moody, or something bright and happy. Or maybe just plain white. It depends on what we paint the dining room.
  • Paint the desk, probably white
  • Update the hardware on the desk
  • Get coordinating baskets for the built-in bench
  • Finish putting art on the walls
  • Build bookcases around the window, maybe?
  • Add curtains or window treatments
  • Get a cushion for the built-in bench


Mint & Gold Baby Shower

One of my best friends Allison (in like half of all my pictures) is having a baby in a month, and this past weekend a few friends and I threw her a shower at my mom’s house. I am trying to be better about a) taking more photos, and b) posting pictures sooner (still have on my list to post Thanksgiving and Christmas recaps – oy!!), so as soon as I downloaded these from my camera, I decided to put my favorites in a post to share. Because y’all — it was such a sweet shower. That baby boy has so many aunts that love him!

I also wanted to share because sometimes when you’re planning a party it’s hard to come up with all of the pieces from scratch and it’s helpful to see what other parties look like when you’re brainstorming. So here’s a recap of what we did for anyone hosting one in the future. :)

baby shower

Decorations: We didn’t really have a theme, just a color scheme. Originally it was mint and gold, but as it happens when you order “mint crepe paper” online, sometimes it comes in teal. So it ended up a mint, gold, gray, silver, and teal party, which worked out beautifully. Allison’s sister Natalie made this cute backdrop for behind the couch, which looks good in this picture but way cuter in person. She hot-glued the tissue paper to a gold ribbon and said it was easy, but that looks like a fragile task if you ask me. :)

My sister Carrie made pompoms over the table, and a cute yarn pom-pom wreath and a sign for the french doors leading to the back porch. Allison has a woodland creatures decoration theme to her nursery, so we placed gold spray-painted pinecones around the table and incorporated some wooden circles as centerpieces.

baby shower

Menu: It was a 2pm shower, so the menu was pretty simple but tasty. A few of the guests and hostesses were gluten free, so we labeled all gluten free items with a gold glittery dot. We had:

- Cheese assortment with gluten free and whole grain crackers
- Brie with fig butter (from Trader Joe’s)
- Candy bar cupcakes (used a gluten free devil’s food cake mix)
- Fruit
- Veggies and white bean and basil hummus (from Trader Joe’s)
- Chicken salad in wonton wrappers and lettuce wraps
- Chocolate peanut butter cups
- Coconut macaroons

I have learned it’s good to have a mixture of items that can be prepared two days ahead (chocolate peanut butter cups, buy the cheese, crackers, hummus), one day ahead (cupcakes, chicken salad), and the day of (coconut macroons, cut the fruit/veggies, make the icing). Spreading it out makes it all so much easier and stress-free.

baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower baby shower

For drinks, we had a pomegranate-cranberry spritzer (just sprite + pomegranate juice + cranberry juice) and a hot chocolate bar (since it was a January shower). My friend Michelle was in charge of the hot chocolate and it was a hit! She had three different kinds of hot chocolate, varied stirrers and toppings. What I would do for a hot cup of chocolate right now…

baby showerbaby shower

Games: In lieu of a big organized game, we had guests write messages on diapers. We also had little cards for guests to fill out answering four questions, which Carrie made into a little book:
- What to do when the baby is up at midnight
- A tradition to start
- Carry this with you at all times
- Always remember

After the party was over we all sat around the fire reading the funny and sweet messages people left. Lots of diapers will be changed by the dad very soon. :)

Favor: Natalie made gluten-free sugar cookies in the shape of onesies as a favor, although I didn’t get a good picture of them. But trust me, they were cute and delicious.

baby shower baby shower  baby shower

It was such a fun shower and SO good to see so many dear friends. I can’t wait to meet Baby Parker next month!


Master Bedroom Tour

One of my favorite gifts I got for Christmas is a picture to go over our bed. I (not-so-subtly) hinted to my mom it was on my wishlist, and since she loves horses so much I knew she would love it too.

Here’s a close-up of the print:

winter horses

I love it.

It’s been a while since I’ve shared photos of our house, so here’s where the master bedroom stands. Whenever I move somewhere new, I like for my bedroom to be the first room to get cleaned and organized and decorated. Maybe I sleep better that way, I don’t know, but I love having my bedroom in place before any of the other rooms. Our bedroom was the first room to get painted when we moved in, and I think it’s the first room to be deemed officially complete. At lease Phase 1 complete — I have grander plans for this room, but it’s unlikely any of those will get done this year.

Here is a little tour of our bedroom, with Leia Neel as our model/photobomer.

Master bedroom tour

It was especially sunny when I took these pictures, and I’m still trying to figure out my camera settings on manual. So bear with me… hopefully by the end of this year I’ll have better looking photos. That’s the goal anyways!

IMG_8408 IMG_8413Sidetable

I debated doing a dark, cozy bedroom, but decided to bright and calming instead. :) In case you are interested, here are some resources for the room:

  • Wall color: Benjamin Moore’s Healing Aloe, color matched to Behr paint. It was exactly the paint color I was looking for — grayish seafoam green.
  • Bedding: The pillows and duvet cover were a wedding gift from Pottery Barn. The blanket at the end of the bed is a quilt that my mom made when I got married. The other side is a square patchwork fabric from old dresses I used to wear.
  • Lamps: Are these vintage cool or vintage not cool? I can’t tell. They were old antique glass lamps that I modernized with a drum shade.
  • Side tables: From Target, I think, three years ago. The picture frames are from Target clearance.
  • Art on the wall: Over the bed, Winter Horses by Kevin Russ via Society6. I bought the frame at Ikea. The other art on the walls are painted either by me (flowers) or my mom (the picture of me as a little girl).
  • The dresser was a hand-me down, and I think it will eventually end up in our guest room. I want to refinish it sometime, but will wait until I am sure of the colors. Beside our dresser are three hooks (from Pier One, long time ago) to hang scarves on. I think I have too many hanging, oh well.

Things left to do (someday):

  • Upgrade to a king size bed
  • Get a headboard
  • Get a new shorter, longer dresser
  • Maybe get a bench for the foot of our bed
  • Hang wedding gallery wall above dresser

There’s always something to do, but it’s unlikely we will get a new dresser or bed this year, so for now I’m calling this room done.


The Tale of Two Console Tables

I’m not sure why, but console tables are a little intimidating to shop for and scream I’m an adult! more than any other piece of furniture. (Okay, maybe buying nursery furniture says that too, but I’m not there yet). I’ve never had a console or entryway table before because I have never lived in a space big enough to need one. But upon entering this house, I had one of those I-need-something-here moments, and thus started the hunt for the perfect table.

Our front hallway needs two tables, really. One for the entryway by the front door and one at the end of the hallway to anchor that long narrow wall right by the garage door, half bathroom, and dining room. (Here’s a full home tour when we first moved in). Both hallway and wall are very small, so it was important to find two that were narrow, functional, and (most importantly) pretty.

Table #1:

The end of the hall table needed to be closed to help hide clutter and anchor the tall wall. I intended to find an old vintage dresser, but every one that I came across was too wide, and this spot in particular needed to be very narrow as it’s in the line of walking from three different directions. Plus all of the antique ones were more than I wanted to spend (anyone have that problem??).

One week in September Target was having a 20% off sale on all their cabinets and console tables. Perfecto! I was trying to decide between this one or this one, and decided to go with the half-moon shaped one because it had closed doors and I really don’t need another thing to style and try to make pretty. (Sometimes you just need a place to stuff stuff — amiright?)

So here’s my first table:

console table

It has a gray antique finish, so it looks more expensive than it actually was. On sale it was $115 (including my 5% target card discount), so using $100 from my birthday I only had to pay $15 out of pocket. Cha-ching!

console table


In case you’re curious, the frames above are from Ikea and hold six images from the mini 2013 garden Rifle paper calendar. On the table is a white tray (from Target, last year), white pitcher (from Target, this year), and a plant. Inside the cabinet I store random stuff like like vases or paper plates or bowls that are functional but not really pretty. It’s very nice to have a spot to hide things. :)

Table #2:

Back in July, after we were under contract for the house, I was idea collecting. God bless my Pinterest followers because every half hour I was pinning any little thing I thought would be a possibility in the house. During that time I decided I fell in love with the industrial wood+metal look. I don’t want my whole house covered in it, but thought it would be perfect for the front door, so long as it was narrow enough to fit in the small hallway and long enough that it spanned the office doorway. Kind of like this, except without the wheels.

One day in August I found the perfect table at Marshall’s. It had dark wood on the top and bottom in between a black metal frame, exactly what I was looking for. The price was $150, which at the time felt really steep. I texted J to see what he thought; he liked it and said go for it (he’s a keeper, that one). But I thought $150 was too much to spend and decided to sleep on it and come back the next day if I really wanted it.

As you can guess from all stories that start with I found it at Marshall’s but decided to mull it over… the next day the entry table of my dreams was gone. The two side tables that matched were still there, just sitting there mocking my indecision. I went back a few times in hopes that one would magically reappear, but after a few weeks decided it wasn’t meant to be.

Fast forward to October 25, I went back to Marshall’s (on a hunt for boots) and wouldn’t you know it, that entry table was sitting in the middle of the floor. Huzzah! Forget the boots — let’s buy a table! I maneuvered it awkwardly to the front of the store and thanked a nice clerk to help haul it in my car. Of course, a better way to end this is to tell you I got it at 80% off or something like that… but nope, I spent full price on that sucker and haven’t looked back since.

Here she is:


Console table styling


There isn’t a lot of space for mirrors in this house (aka, there are a lot of windows… a wonderful problem to have!), so I decided to put this mirror here to light up the space. There isn’t an outlet nearby (there’s a large pendant hanging from the second story) so to add length I used a vase (from West Elm) with some cotton branches. Other little trinkets include frame (from Target — I know, I shop there too much), candles, a candy jar with candy corn, and a pumpkin. The baskets underneath hold winter things, like gloves and hats and slippers, and mail. I will probably change it up eventually, but for now it works.

Here’s a picture of both tables, looking from the doorway:

Two entryway tables

All I need is a rug, a storm door, a fresh coat of paint and I can call this hallway DONE. :) And thus ends the tale of two console tables.

What piece of furniture feels most “adult” to you? Do you have a console table in your home?

DIY Abstract Art for the Mantle

I didn’t really mean to make my own art, it just came about after searching high and low for something to place over the mantle and coming up empty.

Let me back up.

Here’s what our fireplace looked like moving in:

Family room

The previous owners had their TV mounted above the fireplace, but we were placing it against the wall to the right (not pictured). We didn’t want to fill that space completely, in case we decided to mount the TV later, but needed a big piece of art to cover that large 36″ x 36″ square. Have you ever searched for 36 x 36 canvas art? I’ll save you some time: it’s rare to find anything, and if you do it’s either too expensive or art that’s a little dated.

So I decided to make my own.

I scoured Pinterest to get some inspiration. Here are my top favorites, saved on my art Pinterest board:


Source: Parima studio, Erin Cooper, Hillary Butler, Kristy Gammill, Yolanda Sanchez, Michelle Armas

Just like everyone, when I’m on Pinterest, I pin what looks pretty and don’t put a lot of thought into it. But when you’re trying to use Pinterest for inspiration for your own project, it’s good to go back and actually pin point (pun intended) what it is specifically you like about the picture to help recreate it.

What I love about the above:
The abstract look.
The messiness in each piece.
Pinks, corals, and shades of blue with a splash of yellow.
Bold, rigid strokes.

Supplies I used:

I bought a 36×36 gallery canvas from I quickly found that large square size is unusual to find in the store, so I had to order it online. I used a 40% coupon and free shipping code so it was significantly less than the price listed.

Spray paint:
I used a white paint + primer spray paint to cover the whole canvas, so the acrylic paint would lay flat and not soak through.

Water-based acrylic paint:
I purchased all the paints at Michael’s or Walmart. No surprise here, Walmart’s paint was super cheap. I think those were $0.50 each? I couldn’t tell a difference in quality so Walmart paints will be my go-to from now on (although sometimes Martha Stewart has better colors… darn Martha and her nice expensive taste!).

DIY Abstract Art

Below is what it looked like the first day. Not great. After I spray painted the canvas white, I started with a gray base. I realized I should have added a little more texture to the background because when I started painting bold colors, I didn’t love the way it was going.

DIY Abstract Art

I decided to paint over the entire thing with various shades of blue to create more texture. I wet my paint brush after each stroke so that it would all blend together nicely and even add some drip marks (you can see it clearly at the bottom left). Afterwards, I put it on the mantle to see what it looked like:

DIY Abstract Art

Better, but not at all there. It looked way too purple and needed a lot more contrast and bold strokes. I decided to take a break and come back to it the next day when I had more time to devote.

The next morning I made myself a pumpkin spice latte, opened the windows, put on some good music and got to work. I tried not to think and just paint. A brush stroke here, brush stroke there. Mixing colors I wouldn’t think go together, creating different shapes and angles.

Here’s the final piece:

Abstract Art | My Pretty Pennies I kind of love it. Here’s what it looks like on my mantle:

DIY Abstract Painting - Ginna Neel |

DIY Abstract Art

I realize abstract art isn’t everyone’s style, and some may cringe at the thought of something this bold over their fireplace, but I am so happy with the way it turned out. And it was SO much fun to do!

Have you ever tried to paint abstract before?

How to Paint Kitchen Cabinets

Alright kiddos. This is the epic story of how I painted kitchen cabinets and lived to tell about it. Also known as the longest post ever… but I wanted to give as much detail to anyone thinking about painting their kitchen cabinets.

You’re welcome, Google Searcher.

I tackled this project the first weekend we were in the house. Let’s take a look at the kitchen before I got my hands on it (here’s a tour of the rest of the house, in case you’re curious):

photo 1Home tour: before

Maybe it was the beige color of the kitchen cabinets against the beige walls, against the beige floor, but everything looked, well, beige. Brown. Sandy. This kitchen opens up to the family room and is seen from the dining room, but it looked dark in the corner and the black appliances and counters didn’t help. I knew white kitchen cabinets and a lighter shade of paint on the walls would really open up this corner.

I decided to do it immediately because a) we didn’t have to move out of our apartment right away so we could hold off on using the kitchen for a week or so, and b) I was scared the more I waited, the more I would chicken out and end up not doing it. So the very first day we closed, (you know, after frolicking through the echoy house yelling “We are hooooomeowners!!!!”) we put down drop cloths and got to work.

Before I begin with the steps, let me just emphasize: I am not an experienced DIY expert. So if I can paint kitchen cabinets, anyone can paint kitchen cabinets.

That said, this project is not for the faint of heart. It is tedious and requires a lot of patience. I spent the month before I started studying how-tos and online videos and giving myself a good pep talk: Cabinets are so expensive — what if I mess up? You can do this. Cabinets aren’t like walls — they get used every day! You can do this. But it’s going to take forrrrrever!! It’s just a week or two, you can do this. At one low moment when I was four days in, I started comparing it to my marathon training last year. Dramatic much? (Don’t worry, it’s way easier than running a marathon.)

But, again: if I can do it, then bless your patient heart, you can do it too.

Now that you’ve been adequately warned, let’s get into the steps…

How to Paint Your Kitchen Cabinets (for less than $60)

First, gather your supplies and decide on the type of primer, and the brand, type and color of the paint.

- Drop cloths
- Rags for cleaning
- Screwdriver to take down/put up hardware
- Small foam roller and foam refills (I ended up needing three foam roller refills)
- 2″ angled paint brush “best”
- Primer
- Paint
- Wood caulk (optional – I didn’t need this)

Primer: I bought Sherwin William’s oil-based primer, since it was recommended in the store and various cabinet tutorials.

Paint: I am a loyal Behr paint buyer for walls (since I think it’s a good combo of quality + price), but when it comes to cabinets I decided to go with either Sherwin Williams or Benjamin Moore, since I didn’t want to go cheap. I read lots of reviews on the best cabinet paint and the scale tilted a little in favor of Ben, but Sherwin had a 35% off sale that week so I went with them (after all, this is used to be? a personal finance blog).

Type: Since cabinets get used a lot and need to be wiped down on a regular basis, it’s best to get semi-gloss or high gloss. I bought Pro-Classic in semi-gloss, so it wasn’t too shiny.

Color: I wanted white. Not cream white or yellow white or gray white, but a pure, clean white. I looked online for colors I liked and ended up with Snowbound from Sherwin Williams. I’m happy with the way it turned out… it reminds of milk for some reason.

Supplies - How to paint kitchen cabinets | My Pretty Pennies


1. Clean the cabinets.
I used a wet microfiber cloth and lightly scrubbed the doors and the frames. Get off all the dirt, dust and grease off. This took about a half hour since my cabinets were pretty dirty at the top.

2. Remove hinges and hardware, and keep track of where the cabinets go.
We used a drill and screwdriver to remove the hinges (we didn’t have any hardware on our cabinets to start with). Each time I took down a cabinet door, I put it on the drop cloth and labeled which one it was with a note underneath it. Some of my notes looked like, “Bottom next to the stove on the left.” “Left cabinet underneath sink.” “Upper cabinet next to sink on the left.” None of the tutorials I read mentioned this, but it helped a lot when I was putting them back on the cabinets after I was done.

Painting cabinets

Cabinets - before

3. Fill in holes, if necessary.
If your cabinets are cracked or you plan to get new hardware, you may want to fill those cracks with wood caulk. I didn’t have any cracks or hardware, so I skipped this step.

4. Sand. Clean. Sand. Clean.
Next you need to sand the heck out of these cabinets, stripping off any gloss or paint. I took each cabinet one at a time out to the garage and sanded them with an electric sander (borrowed from a friend), on both sides. Then I brushed off the sand and wiped it down with a lightly damp rag so it was clean, and sanded it again. Then cleaned it again. The wood needs to feel smooth and raw.

5. Degloss (optional)
A few of the tutorials I read recommended sanding and deglossing, so I decided to use a chemical deglosser just to be safe. It’s supposed to strip off any extra gloss added to the cabinets, but to be honest, I think my sanding job was sufficient, so I could have done without the extra fumes. If you have pre-painted cabinets, you may want to consider this, but I would skip it next time.

6. Primer – 2 coats.
I started first with the backs of the cabinet doors. I used an angled pain brush to get in the cracks of the cabinet doors and along the edges, and then used a foam roller on the rest. Read your primer instructions on timing between coats. My primer said 1 hour between priming, so I tried to get two coats of primer on the back side of the cabinet door in one day, and then two coats on the front side. Don’t forget about your drawers and cabinet frames; those also got two coats of primer.

Painting cabinets

painting cabinets

painting cabinets

7. Paint — 2 coats on back of doors, 3 coats on front, drawers and frames.
I used the same method of painting (angled brush in the cracks and corners, foam roller for all other parts) for the paint. The paint took longer to dry (mine suggested 4 hours between coats), so this was the most arduous part for me and took the longest step to finish. I painted two coats on the backs of the cabinet doors, and three coats of paint on the fronts of the cabinet doors, drawers and frames.

painting cabinets

8. Wait, wait, wait. (At least three days.)
Once everything is painted, it’s a waiting game. Normally it takes at least three days for the paint to dry completely to be durable enough to handle and use. Luckily the timing worked out so the paint would dry while we were away for labor day weekend in DC. :)

Oh btw, we decided to create an open cabinet on the one to the right of the window, so we painted the insides and shelves. That’s what you see in the picture below. We didn’t bother painting the insides of the other cabinets, mainly because it was a lot of work, but also because it doesn’t bother us to have wood-looking shelves inside. But if that bothers you, add another step to the process and paint the inside and shelves.

painting cabinets

painting cabinets

9. Add the hardware back to your drawers and cabinets.
Once you’ve waited at least three days, add the pulls and knobs back to your cabinets. We didn’t have any hardware, so we skipped this step. :)

10. Rehang and throw a party!
Once I felt everything had dried sufficiently, I couldn’t put those bad boys on fast enough. We hung them and then stepped back to marvel at our beautiful work. Below are some pictures after they were hung. It was at dusk, so the lighting is bad.

painting cabinets

painting cabinets

They look fine, I guess, and much better than before… but those beige walls really don’t do the cabinets justice. So here’s a sneak peak at the kitchen with the walls painted (Gray Owl by Benjamin Moore, if you’re curious) and the open cabinet finished:

Cabinets - After

Painting Cabinets - After

Painting Cabinets - After

Much better, no? One last before and after for you: How to Paint Kitchen CabinetsWe spent $57 on paint and primer, since there was a 35% sale at Sherwin Williams, plus I had a $10 off coupon. We still need to add hardware to the cabinets, and I want to add a rug and curtains to bring some color, so I’ll do a total cost breakdown once it’s all done. But overall mucho bueno!

And thus ends the largest home improvement project I’ve ever accomplished… and the longest post I’ve ever written. :D

Has anyone else painted their cabinets? How did it go?
Do you like white kitchens or prefer classic wooden cabinets? 

PS – Linking on ShabbyNest, Home Stories A to Z, A bowl full of lemons, Liz Marie, Blissfully Ever After, House of Rose, Love of Family and Home

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