Saturday, April 23, 2011

Trim Work Tutorial

Matt is Back!!! Busy season is over and I have my husband home on weekends again, yeah! I put him to work almost immediately on the boys bedroom (I'm sure he's thrilled to back too!). So we are doing a focal wall with mdf boards in a grid pattern and I thought I would explain in this post how basic trim work is done. If you already know, or don't care - sorry this is going to be a long and boring post. Here we go.

First I always start with an inspiration photo. You can find great pictures in Pottery barn or Restoration hardware magazines, or online you can find pictures too - has a lot.

Next comes the fun part - math to figure out where all the boards will go! For this grid wall I first figured out I would probably want about 5 boards laying horizontally up the wall. So I took the entire length of the wall (114" not counting the baseboard) then subtracted out the amount that would be taken up by mdf boards (they are 2 and 1/2" wide). So 114 - 5(2.5) gives me wall space of 101.5. Now I want that wall space do be divided up equally so I divide that by 5 (since there will be 5 wall spaces between each board - by the way my last or 5th board is all the way against the ceiling that is why there aren't 6 spaces between the 5 boards). So 101.5/5 = 20.3. So I knew my boards needed to be spaced 20" apart going horizontally up the wall. If your doing a grid wall repeat this process the other way across your wall.

After the Math is done I usually draw it out on the wall using a large level and a pencil to make sure it visually looks right and that there are no problems that you run into (cold-air returns, light switches, etc.). Usually there are problems so you have to adjust things a little but I just keep erasing and drawing lines until it all works out. If one of your spaces is 21" or 22" and the rest are 20" no one will notice a small difference like that.

Now figure out how many mdf boards you will need and go pick them up! Be sure to also pick up one of the small wood pieces from Lowe's pictured below - it is the only one that is not blue. It is a flat wood piece about 1/2 an inch wide. I painted it the same white color as my baseboards.

If you are putting vertical mdf boards on your walls you will have a problem where it meets the base molding (as pictured - it overhangs and isn't flush with the base board).

When this wood piece is attached to the top of your base boards it solves that problem.

Now the vertical mdf board sits flush with the baseboard and the additional piece looks like a part of the baseboard.

You can paint all the mdf boards after they are hung or before - I find that before is a little easier. You could use a sprayer or I lay them all out on a table with a plastic sheet underneath then roll paint on them with a foam roller (4th picture above). If you are wanting a white trim wall then paint your boards to match your existing white wall color (many of the walls in my home are still white because they are waiting for white trim work to go on top). In my boys room I wanted blue so after writing down my final measurements I painted the whole wall blue and all the boards. I then re-drew the lines so that my husband would have a guide for where the boards would go.

That is usually where my part ends and my husband takes over with the cutting and nailing. He uses a miter saw for the cuts and a nail gun to put it up (please do not ever do a project like this with a hand saw and hammer and nails - you will want to die and it doesn't have to be that hard!). For this grid wall we used solid boards to run the horizontal length and cut the vertical boards in pieces to go between the horizontals. The reason for this is your vertical boards rarely fall on a stud so nailing up a long (and heavy) vertical piece into drywall is not the best - better that those were our short pieces. The long solid pieces will run across the studs in the wall when laid horizontally. If you are doing a vertical trim work project and worried about no studs to nail into you can use "Liquid Nails" to glue them in place - then nail a few nails to hold it in place until the glue dries.

Finally once the boards are hung you will need to caulk in the nail holes, seams, and cracks. For this we use a caulk gun (so it's easier to run the length of the boards), the excess caulk that inevitably oozes out can be used to fill in the nail holes. The caulk we use is - "Painters All-Purpose Acrylic Latex Caulk. Use a wet paper towel to wipe away excess and make the caulk lines smooth. You CAN'T sand this stuff once it dries - you must get it looking perfect while wet! You can use a sand-able caulk but we have found that it tends to crack over time and needs to be redone. Once it's dry you will use some touch-up paint over the caulked areas. This particular trim project cost about $60. So paint is still the cheapest way to make over a room - but I consider trim work to be the next step up in cost and impact.
I'll post the final transformation soon!

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Back when I posted about lighting I had chosen a pretty light for $117 from overstock to go over my bed. Unfortunately that very light was sold out soon after that post. I was bummed -So you can imagine how happy I was to see it posted on KSL for $60 - SOLD! Every once in a while I see lights that overstock carries on KSL for less (still brand new and in the package). The girl I picked it up from said she is a whosaler for Overstock (? whatever that means?).

I am going to take a minute in this post to try to explain just how easy it is to change out a light. I highly recommend it! To take a light down you'll need an electric drill since the screws are generally pretty long. You will see three wires coming out of your ceiling connected to three wires in your light fixture - black, white, and copper. DON'T FORGET to flip the breaker! Then unscrew the caps at the end of the wires and take the wires apart from each other. Now your light is down and you just have your three wires coming out of your ceiling. Your new fixture will also have 3 wires (usually black, white, and copper). All you need to know is put black together, white together, and copper together. You'll want to twist the exposed little metal wires together then twist on a plastic cap. The metal of the two wires have to be touching or you won't get power. If their is not a black or white designated on your light fixture then it doesn't matter which you hook it to, just put the two copper wires together than the other two wires together.

You will also need to screw in the brace for your new fixture - it looks like this. Once the brace is up thread your new fixtures wires through that center hole of the brace then connect your wires. When the wiring is done shove all the wiring up in the ceiling then simply twist the fixture up into the center hole of the brace.

I laugh whenever I read reviews on overstock where people hire an electrician to hang their new light!

I wanted the light centered over the bed so we used a plant hook in the ceiling to swag the chain over.

I have come to realize that you can narrow down my decorating plans for each room in my house to these three things (paint and hanging pictures is obvious so I am not including that )

1. Trim Work (I think every room deserves it and hopefully you'll see some more on this blog soon!)
2. Fun textures, color, and patterns brought in through rugs, draperies, or pillows
3. Pretty Lighting for bling

If there is a space in your house you want to decorate a little more (I am guessing you have probably already painted and hung artwork) so now consider taking it to the next level and doing any one of these three things (or all of them!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Field Trip- Jon and Kori's House

Prepare to be amazed!

This is my brother Jon and his wife Kori's BEAUTIFUL home. As you can imagine it provides a lot of decorating inspiration!

Kori is a great treasure hunter. She has an amazing knack for finding cute things - from places you would never imagine would have such cute things too. Whenever anyone in my family visits we are constantly asking where she found different things -we are all convinced she shops at a different TJ Maxx than the rest of us!

Jon is the one responsible for getting everyone in my family hooked on DIY trim work projects. Love the grid wall above and the small squares in their Family room below.

*Let me point out the DI find - the white lamp in the above picture used to be ugly brass - she spray painted it glossy white and put a new lamp shade on. It has such great shape, now I try to keep my eyes out for cheap ugly brass fixtures with great shape.

This is one of her daughters bedrooms. Kori does an awesome job of putting together great bedding, it is a mix of different colors and textures all bought from different stores that looks so great all put together.

*above and below are more examples of some great trim work ideas
I know this will be a favorite post of anyone that checks my blog and it's not even my house!

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Treasure Hunt - Wallpaper

I think I shed tears the first time I saw this beautiful wallpaper installed on HGTV. I fell in love and vowed I would have it in my next house.

I decided the dining room would be the lucky reciepient of the gorgeous wallpaper. The wallpaper is made by F. Schumacher and the color I am in love with is silver. I found a place online "Wallpapers to go" that I could order it from. Wallpaper is very expensive so I figured to save money I would only do wallpaper on the top 3 feet of the walls then a beautiful white wainscoting below. So I did the math and the wallpaper came to $900. OUCH! But I was determined, I didn't care if it took me 5 years to save the money that is what I was going to do. Then fate smiled down on me. I was even hunting for a treasure - one was placed in my lap! I happened on to a website for Cutting Edge Stencils.

I have seen stencils before but usually they are never as nice as wallpaper - I could not believe what a great match this was to the wallpaper I loved. And it is only $42!!!!!!!! Are you kidding me!!!!! I would have bought it for $100 and still been thrilled. This meant I could do my dining room now instead of 5 years from now. The great thing too is that the stencil is large - large enough that I only had to use it once and just move left across the walls with it. First I had to find a good silver paint. I found that Martha Stewart has a metallic line at Home depot. I went with "tin" - it is $19 for a quart. Then I decided I wanted the white areas of the stencil to be a bit brighter and have a bit of sheen so I bought the same color of paint that is already on the walls had it lightened 50% and did it in semi-gloss. I put the semi-gloss white on the walls first (it was very quick and easy since it only needed one coat and I didn't really have to get a perfect line against the celling. I let that dry for a day then started to stencil! You want to use very little paint when stenciling so that it doesn't bleed. Because of this the silver needed a few coats to cover the white. So the stencil once taped in place would get a coat of silver, wait a few minutes before another coat of silver, wait a few minutes then one quick last coat, Then I could move the stencil to the next spot. Basically it took some time but I was able to get things done around the house while stenciling every few minutes.

So here is the result! Stay tuned and at some later point we'll add the wainscoting for the finishing touch.

I also had a thought about stencils on ikea roller shades. I saw an episode on HGTV with Candace Olson where she used these gorgeous roller shades from I checked out the price and about had a heart attack - with Ikea's cheap roller shades and a cute stencil you could make a really good look-a-like.

I think I am addicted now. I have been thinking I could use this stencil on some fabric too (Schumacher sells the trellis pattern in fabric that is very expensive and beautiful as well).
Here are a couple additional stencil websites I have found (, I'll definitely be using another one somewhere else in my house!