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the surprise, the bones & the plan


I got home from my trip to Houston on Sunday afternoon.  My husband met me at the door and leaned in to tell me that my boys were hiding in our room and wanted me to come find them.  That’s a pretty normal thing in our house.  I walked through the house, back to our room.  On my way, I noticed a sink full of dishes, a messy counter top and some furniture out of place in the family room.  Oh well.  When’s mom’s away, that’s what can happen.  I rounded the corner and…


Two little boys were sitting on our bed announcing the brand new wood floors my husband (with a bit of their help) had installed while I was away.  (I’ll just insert here that there wasn’t one complaint from me about those dishes!)  I had no clue and was so overwhelmed that this huge project I was gearing up to do this week was already done.  My husband even rearranged the furniture for me.


The floors look amazing and totally changed the room.  This room has been the hardest one for me to decorate in our home.  It’s a long rectangle with too many doors and one dinky window smack in the middle of the longest wall.  The floors definitely are helping me see more potential.

I was so excited that I spent most of yesterday tweaking the furniture arrangements and getting the bones of the room in place.  I usually don’t show this stage on my blog, because it’s an ugly stage.  It’s the stage where you leave water bottles sitting out on the night stand and have an empty curtain rod and nothing on the walls.



I realized, though, that it’s important for my readers to see this stage.  It’s all a part of keeping it real.


Here’s the other side of the room…


If you’re very observant, you might notice a large piece of furniture that’s missing.  Anyone?  Yes, it’s my white Craig’s List dresser.  The curvy French Provincial one.  Well, I’ve decided to sell it.  It’s really too long for the room, so I moved my clothes into the mirrored armoire from my office (lots of changes happening in there as well.)  It works much better in the space and it’s easier to get in and out of.


I hung a pretty chandelier I bought at my book signing at The Empty Nest over my dressing table.  I need to get new shades and new candle sleeves for it and make a long, scrunchy cord cover.

Here’s real dose of reality…


Yep, that very average closet is the master closet that my husband and I share.  Neither of us has a lot of clothes, so it works for us, but there is so much wasted space.  There is about 3′ of closet space behind the wall to the left that you can’t even access.  So, we’re going to rip out that wall and build a super-functional, built-in closet that takes advantage of every inch.  I’m thinking a huge drawer with laundry baskets, cabinets for shoes and great hanging space.

Now that I have the bones in place, here are my plans…

  • I’d really, really like to remove the ceiling fan and hang a chandelier over the bed.  I don’t know if that’s going to happen, because the man of the house likes the ceiling fan.  I understand and respect that, so it’s his decision.  I have promised that we can have a nice standing fan if we get rid of the ceiling fan.  We can put it away in the winter and I can move it when I’m taking photographs.
  • Our new bed will be coming in a few weeks and I’m looking forward to making some custom shams and a bolster
  • I’d like to do a wall treatment behind the bed and I’m thinking about starching some fabric on the wall like wall paper.  I just ordered a blue toile sample from Calico Corners, so we’ll see if that works with the HomeGoods rug.  If I can’t find a fabric that works, I might exchange the rug.  We’ll see.
  • The mirrored armoire is going to be painted.  I think a mix of Shutter Gray and French Enamel.  The dressing table and side tables will getting a makeover.
  • I’m going to make curtains and reupholster the chair and ottoman, probably in the blue toile as well or complimentary fabrics.
  • The walls are going white.  I’ve painted this room so many times and it’s now just going to be white.  I think.
  • I’d like to do something to the ceiling…like planks.  The ceiling has a funny texture and the drywall wasn’t done well, so that would hide it and add character.
  • We’re going to do some great trim work around the doors and windows and on the wall.
  • I want to find two vintage doors to replace the stock doors to the bedroom and bathroom.  The hunt has already begun…
  • And, of course, I’m going to tweak the accessories and pictures.  I have some ideas, but I’d like to get the bigger things out of the way before I look at the little details.
Decorating is sort of like dominoes.  You start something and a chain reaction is set off that means you’re hip-deep in projects before you know it.  Oh, the joy of DIY!

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  1. Denise T says:

    Awww!!! Your husband and kids are GREAT!!!! Since I see the close-up of the flooring, it is awesome! Really beautiful .Thought it would be a new bed, so my guess was wrong. Your bedroom will be beautiful !

  2. I LOVE seeing your room in progress and hearing your plans for it. What a gift that your husband and boys surprised you with. Such sweethearts! x

  3. That is the sweetest hello!!! I’m amazed at you guys DIY abilities!!! It took pros a long time to do our main living areas and halls so I’m impressed you’ve done so much!!! I think the dreaming stage is so much fun!!! Happy dreaming and great success finding the exact pieces for your dream room!

  4. I especially love the ‘keeping it real’ photos! Makes me feel normal. ha! You are a great motivator and a happy place to land…

  5. Kimberly says:

    Thank you for sharing the “building” stage! It was inspirational in itself to know, that all good things come in time and don’t just appear! Thank you for the reality check, I really needed it!

  6. Looks like you are on a good start to a fablous room. I know what you mean about the ceiling fan. I don’t like them either, but we live in the South, where you NEED a ceiling fan. I wanted a chandelier in my room, but I live with my parents and my Dad would only install a ceiling fan to replace the boob light in the room. We compromised by getting a ceiling fan that has a pretty chandelier hanging on the bottom. I didn’t think I would like it as much, but the fan has turned out to be very useful on warm nights. Maybe you and your husband can compromise by at least getting a better looking fan like that.

  7. I really love all the “unvarnished” Keeping It Real photos…it makes the “after” images seem much more possible. I feel so fortunate to have met you @ Urban Vintage. I finally did my first test paint project today and used Mustard Seed….a sweet little storage chest. Thank you for being you!

  8. Wow, the floor looks great. What a sweet husband you have, and the boys too. I love how large your room is – so many things you can do with it. That’s a good analogy about the dominoes. It does seem that one remodeling project leads to another.

  9. Debbie Byrd says:

    Gotta get on board with the comments about keeping it real. You truly put your reading audience at ease, and allow us a sneak peak at the totally real world….have so much respect for that, MMS! Even though you knock our socks off with your many talents, you do the very same thing with your willingness and ability to relate to us outside of the picture – perfect world we see in magazines, on Pinterest, and television of course. Sounds like you have a very dear husband and boys, wanting to surprise you so sweetly. What a nice treat to come home to! Can’t wait to see the upcoming projects of the bedroom….sounds lovely. As for the ceiling fan, we live in the south, and it is a MUST for my husband and I – I think if he tried to take it down, I would cry – ha! But I have been longing to take the boob light fixture on it down, too – yuck! I like the look of a drum shade on one, just haven’t got the courage up to attempt it yet.

  10. Aw! That is so sweet!

  11. awesome! what a good man.

  12. Love the new chandelier! What a fab surprise to come home to:)

  13. Hey Marian, I can see the potential for sure….you’ll make it lovely. Wood floors are da bomb! Wanted to mention my daughter and I starched fabric (just a cotton quilting fabric from walmart) onto my grandbaby’s wall and it worked great. Have you done it before? If not I can send along some pointers we learned :) Since she’s in an apartment, we needed something non-permanent, so this was a perfect solution. And for me (who loves change)!

    Also, unrelated note….we are considering purchasing an older home (built 1945) and I’m trying to weigh the character of an older home and the beautiful neighborhood against the loss of a master bathroom, smaller rooms, and well….the oldness. Is your home older? Your photography makes your home seem light and bright with big rooms, but is it like that in person? I”m sure it’s beautiful (!), I just wonder what it’s like to live in a smaller, older home.


    • Miss Mustard Seed says:

      My mom starched fabric on our bathroom wall when I was a kid and I helped a friend do it in her house a few years ago. It’s a great treatment!

      My home was built in 1948 with an addition put on in 2002, so I sort of have the best of both. The old rooms are awkward and the closest are very small, but I love the character. After living in an older home, though, I’m really drawn to the idea of a new old home…no asbestos, plaster walls and lead paint!

    • Carmen says:

      I’m wondering if the starched fabric could be a potential solution for our mirrored sliding closet doors….would it work over glass?

  14. Tammie Burton says:

    What a wonderful surprise! I can only imagine the look on your two boy’s little faces as they waited for you to come home!! Thank you for “keeping it real.” It’s nice to see how a room comes together over time. Can’t wait to see the finished room once all of your diy projects are done. So much fun!!

  15. Your husband is an absolute angel! Sounds like some excellent plans! Never a dull moment!

  16. What a sweet surprise from your guys! Your bedroom is lovely Marian, even in the lived-in stage. Very far from ugly! Sometimes, it’s a lot more fun seeing the real thing and hearing about the plans rather than the primmed version. Thanks for sharing! Siggie

    • p.s. I was just thinking, for a quick fix on the ceiling fan, you could paint it white and it wouldn’t be so dominantly ceiling fan. You may have thought of this already, I just thought I’d mention it.

  17. Alice says:

    Long story about the chandelier….I was in Warrenton and went to the ReStore store. All the cool stuff that I wanted had sold on it and it was all the same lady. I asked who this lady was….I then heard about The Empty Nest and went down to check it out. YOU BOUGHT THE LIGHT I WANTED! It’s funny to see it on your blog. It looks great and I love the Empty Nest and the owner. She is so kind. Have a great day.

  18. I recently discovered your blog and really enjoy it. I had been feeling very stagnated in my home and with little to no budget to make any changes was pretty demoralized but thanks in large part to your blog, I have begun to dream about the (currently hidden) potential in my home again. I cannot say how much I appreciate the “keepin it real” photos of this stage of the process. It helps remind that there is a process to a beautiful end result. It just makes it feel all the more achievable. Thanks so much!

  19. What a great guy! My husband is a huge on ceiling fans as well, so every room has one. Blech. Oh well it helps keep things cool during the summer. I can’t wait to see how your room changes. Your plans sound awesome.

  20. What a nice surprise it is when someone else does work we were ‘looking forward to doing’! There’s something really special about having a burden lifted like that, and even more so when you get to see a beautiful result!

    I can’t wait to see what you do with the closet. I always draw inspiration from you.

  21. Love your bedroom rug! Care to share where you found it?

  22. Kudos to your husband and sons for not resenting your weekend absence, but, instead, for celebrating you by installing that gorgeous bedroom floor!

    Have you investigated the cost of creating a window wall where that single window is,
    or having French doors installed on one of your outer walls to create more light in your bedroom? You might barter your many talents. Here’s my story:

    When a tornado hit our town several years ago, I asked Bob the Carpenter if he could cut a window in the bathroom wall as he was replacing the siding. Now my 1928-era, 1,000 square-foot house has TWENTY gorgeous windows!

    I gave Carpenter Bob the names of several friends who provided him with months of work, so he installed the bathroom window, reconstructed the large linen closet, and built bookshelves in my dining room for free.

    Blessings all around,

  23. What a wonderful surprise! Yay for your hubby and boys!!! :)

  24. So understand the fan thing! My husband has to have a fan in the bedroom, so no arguments cuz he always has a list of honey do’s! But I search and found a really beautiful one that I can live with, it was a little pricey but was well woth it. And no arguments…

    • kathy d says:

      wonderful post! You have a great family! I also appreciate the reality of your room because I have real rooms too and dreams and wished and to do;s like you so it is very encouraging to see this from someone as talented as you. Thank you so much. It will be so fun and inspiring to go along with you on this room redo. I think the closet idea is a good one too-stealable:) THANK YOU!
      PS My husband HAS to have a ceiling fan too and I saw a pretty chandelier like light kit on the internet, in fact I pinned it to my pinterest

  25. Well good for you sharing a picture of your bedroom, even when it makes you uncomfortable. I’m an interior designer and let me just say, every home I have ever been in (with the exception of one), the master bedroom looks similar to yours. One time I had a client say as I was working on her master bedroom, “I’ll bet your bedroom looks amazing.” To which I replied, “Oh, it’s something all right!” lol As moms, we work on the kids’ rooms, and the rest of the house before we work on our own room. You already have so many wonderful elements in that room, I’m sure it will be fabulous when you finish. Your ideas are great! I love looking at the “before” stage. Thanks so much for sharing!

  26. Terryk says:

    How sweet of them! I am exhausted after reading your to do list.

    If you don’t like the toile from calico corners I would suggest Warehouse fabrics inc. they have a nice selection and are so reasonable. Service is wonderful too.

  27. If you’ve never gone, you really should make a weekend trip to Baltimore, MD and check out this amazing architectural salvage yard, Second Chance. They’re downtown, near the stadiums… And have WAREHOUSES full of doors, shutters, plumbing, lighting, hardware, etc!
    My husband & I restored a dozen houses in the city and found a lot of amazing pieces for our new construction home too.

  28. Christy says:

    Great floors! And what an awesome husband! I’m sorry that I missed you when you came to Houston – I live in East Texas. But it’s tax season so no time for road trips. :(

    In Texas, ceiling fans are practically a necessity, so I can sympathize. I know these are pricey but there are some rotating ceiling fans that are pretty. My cousin just put one in her new home – her decor is more Low Country style than yours but has similar feminine touches. This is a quick one I found as an example:

  29. Patti McCarthy says:

    For my closet, I bought Joy Mangano’s Huggable Hangers on a whim…what a HUGE difference it made in the closet! I am in love now with how it all looks and reccommend these to everyone – I even bought a few sets as Wedding gifts and the recipients loved them! They just keep everything neat and orderly and they really, really do save space! Tons of colors, too! Keep it in mind when you’re ready for that closet redo, and I love that you’re doing white walls – it’s funny that white walls are now “different” and I love that!

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