January Cure 2017: Hi, my name is Lauren and I am a clean freak

When you live in a small house and you’ve inherited your mother’s (self proclaimed!) clean freak tendencies, surface clutter is your worst nightmare. I literally feel like the walls are closing in on me, panic-attack style. So, when Apartment Therapy’s January Cure rolled around again, I was positively giddy. Time to get (re)organized!

First on the list, I tackled our dining room storage. We have these two lovely IKEA Expedit (now called Kallax – why IKEA couldn’t just keep it the same name is beyond me…) shelves. They become a landing pad for anything and everything. Those bins were full of stuff that needed to be quickly hidden away. And then was promptly forgotten.


So, last night, I did a reorg. AND IT FELT SO GOOD. It is now the home to a lot of Alex’s toys, some of his books and our outbox.

Now what is an outbox, you may ask? Again, a January Cure item. It’s basically a place to put stuff that you need to do something with, but can’t or don’t want to decide exactly what that’ll be at that moment. Here’s the basics from their website:

  1. Anything can go in the Outbox
  2. The Outbox is allowed to get messy
  3. Everything must stay in the Outbox for at least one week
  4. After that time you have several choices
    1. Take anything back out
    2. Leave anything you are undecided about for one more week
    3. Dispose of the rest by moving to the garbage, recycling bin, or giveaway pile

And the rest of it, it’s Alex’s toys! I reorganized his room when he got a little table and chairs set (thanks Mom and Dad!) and the toys needed a new home. Now they’re in all of these bins at the perfect height for him to pull out and get into. When done, I can scoooooop them all up, toss them back in, and shove the bin back into the shelves. Ahhh. Pure bliss for my clean freak self.

Our outbox is the upper left bin



Living/Dining Curtains: An Accidental DIY

I love all of these great tutorials on Pinterest that are all like “hey, you can SEW YOUR OWN CURTAINS!” and then they show you curtains in some superduper cute fabric. You’re all like “oh WOW. Those are so cute and that fabric is so effing amazing! I’m gonna do it! And since it’s DIY, it must save me a little bit of money, right?”
And then you find out that said cute fabric is either $12.99 per yard and you need, oh, approximately 12 yards or so for your windows and you realize that it’d cost more for you to make curtains that to GO BUY REALLY FANCY ONES. So you’re all like, “well, guess I’m back to the drawing board…”
And then you walk through Target and you find really cute curtains for $9.99 per panel. You chuckle at those poor saps sewing their curtains.
But then you go to hang them up and it’s like the curtains were meant to be hung on windows that are for babies or something and you hang them anyway because you’re impatient and the baby is only down for his nap for another 20 minutes.
We’ve all seen this picture on Pinterest. My curtains were “don’t” and they weren’t even touching the ground. Fail.
But it just looks tacky. So tacky. So who’s laughing now? Definitely the ladies who have perfect DIY curtains.
So then you have to go rouge and DIY it without a tutorial. Oh, the horror. But I did it and now they’re not tacky! I ended up grabbing some cheap solid red fabric from IKEA for $2.99 a yard. I think(?) I picked up 2 yards to add to the bottom of each of my panels.
Looks terrible from the back, but gives you an idea of how they’re constructed.
See? Can’t even tell

I made 4 panels – two for the living room and one for the dining room.

20161012_163247.jpg       20161012_163109.jpg

And aren’t we classy with a slightly bent living room curtain rod? Thank you, dear cat, for climbing the new curtains. At least he doesn’t chew up all of our phone cord chargers like other dear cat.


i heart glitter: Repurposed Mason Jars

when we got married, i borrowed close to 100 mason jars from my coworker for our centerpieces.

you may be wondering how a guy could end up with all of those jars. so, here’s one of the secret benefits of living in a small city adjacent to large swaths of still rural areas. people have family farms. these mason jars were used by his grandmother for canning. crazy, huh? mason jars actually used for canning!

in the end, i cleaned them out and gave 95% of them back. let me tell you – that modpoge/food coloring combination really works out well. jars stay blue until you wash them and then the glue comes off easily. HOWEVER, when you have 100 jars, it still takes a while.

i had a hard time parting with all of them, though. so i asked to hang onto a couple – he was cool with it. they were just sitting on my sewing table – plain glass. then i got this inspiration:


these jars look cool no? and i heart glitter. who doesn’t?


  • spray paint $5
  • glitter $1.50
  • jars $FREE

total: $6.50

and to note – i did not use up any of the materials i bought. so add that spray paint and glitter to your craft drawer/closet/room. oh man.. craft room… drool.


  • mod podge

true crafters consider modpodge a tool

  • sponge paint brush
  • something to dump glitter all over, collect and return
  • dropcloth

helpful hints

  • those people over at Lilyshop weren’t kidding that these things are delicate. i dinged up my paint job before even putting the glitter on.
  • don’t even try to use painters tape or anything of the like to delineate where you want the modpodge/glitter to stop. it will rip off the spray paint. yes, i know from experience.    lilyshop mentioned it and i didn’t listen. oops.


i’m not even going to list the directions. follow theirs. they do a good job of explaining!

however, you always need to see how they actually come out in person. one set of photos is never enough.

finished jars – in place – holding a lot of stuff
see that center one? it already has a scratch. too lazy to fix it.
one of them is turned backward because i totally scuffed up the front. oops.

Match it up: Bookshelf Update

when you pictured the place that you’re living as an adult, you think of [insert your favorite furniture store here]. mine was a cross between crate + barrel and design within reach.

then you realize that life doesn’t really work like that. furniture is expensive. you have to hang onto the crappy furniture for much longer than you realized. case in point: laminated wood bookcase.

  • do we need extra storage? yes.
  • do we have a bookcase that works? yes.
  • should we buy a new one? no.

and that’s the end of my adult dream of a catalog-worthy place.


funny enough, my inspiration came from previous changes to the bookcase. when i first bought the bookcase, i knew i needed some color – so i painted the backing orange.

before: notice the painted back?
before: notice the painted back?


  • fabric
  • staples
  • tape


  • staple gun
  • ruler
  • scissors


super quick! it took me less than a half hour.

helpful hints

  • i thought about just painting the back, but it’s easier to match the rest of the decor with the same fabric!
  • you only need a piece of fabric that’s just a couple of inches larger than the backing.
  • i used staples instead of using the existing screws, but if you can use them if you prefer.
  • the tape is used to hold the fabric in place temporarily.


  1. measure and cut the fabric for the backing
  2. fold the fabric over the edges and secure it in place with tape.
i used electrical tape – it stuck to the backing well. the fabric? not so great.

3. staple the backing to the edges of the bookshelf.

you don’t need too many staples to hold the backing in place

done and done! pretty easy huh?

the fabric matches the bench!
gotta minimize the number of books to show off the fabric
the end!

IKEA hack: Besta Bench

i helped my then boyfriend – now husband pick out his place in atlanta. there are so many things that you look for in a place that it’s sometimes hard to decide what items are most important. upon permanently relocating down here, along with a truck’s worth of stuff, i discovered the good and bad of the place.

his place here has some great perks that my apartment in raleigh didn’t, such as a garage and nice carpet. i don’t want to even know how old the carpet was in my place.

one thing that it doesn’t have is storage. whenever they laid out my place in raleigh, they were super smart. there was 5 good size closets for a 2 bedroom apartment. pretty awesome huh?

not so much here in atl. not even a linen closet. and the owner did not install useful closet organizing systems. so we’re struggling with where to put all of this stuff and we’re not pack rats. in fact, we have very little compared to many.

so with that said, i’m trying to figure out any way to add more storage. here’s comes the IKEA “hack” – quotes because i didn’t really change the furniture at all. i took my BESTA tv stand and changed it into a bench. so what? well… it’s got two extra shelves to house all of those linens i have NO CLOSET for.


when i lived in raleigh, i got rid of my tv. it was pretty liberating, until you count the fact that i still have both netflix and hulu+, but whatevs. so, i’ve got this leftover tv stand… what to do? what to do?

ah yes…. definitely this.


  • staples – $3
  • fabric – $1.50
  • 2″ foam (or batt if you’d prefer) – $2

i used two layers of 1″ foam.

  • ceiling tile/plywood – $4

total cost: $10.50


  • staple gun
  • box cutter/xacto knife
  • scissors
  • tape measure


this was super duper easy. i got it all done in less than an hour.

helpful hints

  • if you have a Habitat for Humanity Restore near you, check it out. they have a lot of stuff, sometimes even the tools you’re looking for.
  • think outside of the box for your base. i originally was thinking plywood or osb, but when i saw a 2×4 ceiling tile, i realized it would be way easier to cut.
  • another shout out to Scrap Exchange – i got my foam there for way cheaper than it would be at the typical craft store.
  • the inspiration glued the batt to the board. i didn’t really need it, so i skipped that whole part.
  • when you’re stapling the fabric to the edges, work on opposite edges at the same time. this keeps the fabric aligned on both sides.


  1. measure your bench.
the base: ceiling tile!

2.  cut your base to the same size as the bench

3.  cut your foam to fit.

you can’t tell that these are separate pieces of foam with the fabric on

4.  measure your fabric. you want to at least 1-2″ on each side for stapling to the base. make sure to account for the 2″ height of the foam.

5.  cut the corners on a diagonal. this eliminates how much fabric is coming together at the corners. staple the corners first.

stapling the corners first helps with making the corners look neat.

6. staple the fabric along the edges.

you’re done!

the fabric is from IKEA. on sale!
side view showing the thickness of the bench.
matches the rest of the room pretty well, doesn't it?
matches the rest of the room pretty well, doesn’t it?

Fugly Birch Veneer: Updating an Old Dresser

not sure how other people do things, but anytime i’m starting a project, i try to check out a lot of resources on the topic. with the exception of some recent recipes, i usually look at 4 or 5 and take the pieces i like. make it all my own, know what i mean?

that why, despite the 547 blog posts out there on this topic, i’m posting it again. this post is all about “refreshing” a laminate dresser.

i also put this post together because i’ve effed up in the past. i tried to only kind of sand a little bit and didn’t prime. that so did not work. i ended up having to throw out the whole desk i was trying to refinish. what a waste.

the fugly dresser – welcome to the 90’s


How to Paint Laminate Furniture

why this link over the others? it discusses the importance of sanding, suggests primer to use (and why) and provides pictures. there are lots of great tutorials out there – i’m just saying that this one spoke to me.


  • sander – $30

i could’ve just done this with sand paper, but i’m really glad i didn’t. i bought a small, cheap plug-in sander from a big box retailer. it’s going to make my life a lot easier in the long run. it even came with some sanding pads, so i didn’t have to buy any of those… yet.

  • 1 gallon of primer – $15
  • wood filler – $3
  • drop cloth – $2
  • wipe-down rag – $0
  • spray paint – $3 for 3 cans
  • drawer pulls – $18 for 7

i decided the current drawer pulls had to go. they were just as ugly as the rest of the dresser. there’s always the possibility of saving the existing ones, saving money as well. i got mine from lowes. they weren’t my favorite, but they’ll do.

total: $41 ($71 if you include the sander)


  • for sanding – 1 hour
  • for priming – 1 hour
  • for painting – 1/2 hour
  • total: 2 1/2 hours

helpful hints

  1. if you need to use wood filler, make sure to put more in the gouge than you actually need. wood filler tends to shrink slightly and you can sand it down later if there’s too much.
  2. make sure you sand all edges – not just surfaces. i had to tilt the dresser over to get to some difficult to reach areas.
  3. look at your piece of furniture in all types of light. especially before you haul it upstairs. mine looked like it could’ve used another coat after i brought it up to the third floor. fantastic.


  1. clean off the dresser, especially if it’s been sitting in the garage and has cobwebs all over it.
  2. remove drawers and pulls from drawers. put in a safe place if you plan to reuse them again.
  3. if there’s any gouges in the dresser, fill it in with the wood filler and let dry for a couple of hours.
  4. sand the dresser. i probably went a little crazy with this. i don’t think that you have to sand it quite as much as i did, but due to previous failures, i wanted to play it safe.
step 3: filling in those ugly chips
here's the dresser sanded - almost took off the veneer in some areas.
here’s the dresser sanded – almost took off the veneer in some areas.

4.  wipe the dresser down. i used a microfiber cloth to get it nice and clean.

5.  prime it. i did two coats. it really limited the amount of white paint i needed.

priming it up.
priming it up.

6. let it dry the recommended amount of time. i let it dry overnight.

7. paint it. i used cheapo glossy white spray paint. after priming it so well, it only too 3 coats. i let it dry a couple of hours before moving it.

drop cloths: i believe in you now.
drop cloths: i believe in you now.

8. move to final location and attach drawer pulls. stuff it full of things that were in your closet or moving boxes.

final product

i like the way the dresser turned out. will we keep it forever now? heck no. but it’ll last a while. at this point. and then we’ll put it up on craigslist and someone else will get good use out of it.

pretty final shot
looks not too bad, huh?
side view!
side view!
the nice part about white? everything can change around it and it'll still match.
the nice part about white? everything can change around it and it’ll still match.