Framed Wall and Mini Garden Oasis – Entryway

This is my first blog post since the onset of COVID-19. With the current health crisis of our country and the rest of the world, blogging just seemed so insignificant. I work in the lab at a trauma hospital and I’ve definitely been concerned about my own safety and that of my family. I worry about being exposed to the virus and potentially infecting my loved ones. The guilt that I could possibly cause them harm has been overwhelming at times. I’m taking as many precautions as I can. We’re required to wear masks at work, I wash my hands so much that they’ve become dry and cracked, I change out of my scrubs in our garage and of course, we’re practicing social distancing.

If you or anyone you know have tested positive for the coronavirus, I’m truly sorry and it’s my hope you all make full recoveries. We’re continually seeing the devastating effects of this virus so please stay home as much as possible. Practice social distancing and if you have to go out, wear a mask. Also, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or use some hand sanitizer. Take care of yourselves and each other. I hope this post provides a much-needed distraction and you find inspiration or motivation to do something you love.

We purchased this mirror over 3 years ago after moving into our new home. Having such a large, eclectic piece in our entryway meant there was no room for additional home decor in the space which I was perfectly fine with. My content with the simplicity of our entryway was challenged when inspiration struck Hubby via Pinterest. The man pins way more than I do which is quite impressive.

He showed me a stunning walkway of rich wood tones, black canvas prints and perfect greenery to complete the space. Did I love the design? Absolutely! Did I think the style would fit well with the rest of our home? Without a doubt! Did I think our entryway was the perfect spot to recreate this project? Uh … not really! I was super concerned that our space wasn’t large enough to do this project justice.

Top Left = SW Agreeable Gray | Top Right = Behr Silky White | Bottom Left = SW Eider White | Bottom Right = SW Westhighland White

Can I ask why white is one of the HARDEST paint colors to settle on? I couldn’t believe how many options were available to choose from and more options = more indecisiveness, am I right?

I knew I wanted either a white or gray accent wall but I quickly realized that was easier said than done. We grabbed a few samples and marinated on them for a few days, taking into consideration the amount of natural light this space receives throughout the day.

I can’t say enough great things about frog tape! It creates the cleanest, straightest lines every time. We haven’t done a paint job without it.

SW Westhighland White for the win! It’s such a pretty, warm white and it looks great against our SW Swiss Coffee doors, trims and baseboards.

Left = Varathane Early American | Middle = Minwax Fruitwood | Right = Minwax Weathered Oak

Our original plan was to stain the lumber some sort of brown for the frame around the accent wall, but after several attempts with a few options, I soon realized I wasn’t loving the look of any of them. I think it was the unpredictability of how the lumber took up the stain that really bothered me. I’m too much of a control freak!

While some sections showed visible stain, others remained unchanged. At that point, I made the decision to have Hubby paint the lumber instead of staining them. A dark, moody wood frame sounded just perfect with none other than my fav SW Iron Ore. At the very last second, however, Hubby found a YouTube video on how to use paint to create a stained look. Uh … mind blown!

We created a 50/50 mix of water and SW Iron Ore paint. Using a cloth, we proceeded to apply the mixture to the lumber as you’d have done if it was a stain. The first coat was too light in color for my taste.

Since we were using diluted paint, it took 3 coats for us to achieve the dark, rich color I was going for. The beauty of this process is you can keep applying coat after coat of your favorite paint color and notice a visible change each time!

I have to admit, I’m such a big fan now of ‘staining’ using paint! I have so much more control over the finished product which makes my type A personality extremely happy. The beautiful wood grain details are also still visible so I’m going to say this is a win all around. Creating a faux mini garden at the base of the frame was definitely a fun idea and all we needed were some white rocks and faux succulents. But why stop there? Hubby loves greenery so we decided to further accessorize the space with white and gold wall planters filled with, you guessed it, more faux greenery. I promise we’ve tried countless times to add real plants to our home, but it’s not fair to the helpless plant babes that we keep killing them. So, realistic faux it is.

Welcome to our newly updated entryway! I’m in love with this project for so many reasons. Our girls, Neah (6) and Kaiyah (1) are the heart of our family and our home. We work as hard as we do to provide the best life possible for them. Their photos at our entryway are a statement and a symbol of how cherished they are! Their photos were originally colored, but I edited them to black and white versions which I found to be more dramatic and eye-catching. These are framed, canvas prints measuring 24” x 36.”I purchased them from Shutterly at 50% off which was a heck of the deal. Well there you have it, one more successfully completed project! Do you have any completed project that holds a special place in your heart?

Aminah Chung

Mini Accent Wall – Our FIRST DIY!

Gather ’round boys and girls, today I’m sharing the story of how our first DIY came to be, and it literally only took us a few hours! So picture this, a wonderfully peaceful Saturday afternoon of lazing on the couch with Hubby. I was casually scrolling through Pinterest when this gorgeous photo caught my eye! I was in sheer awe of its simple beauty. The accent wall’s color, shelves and decor all worked together in perfect unity.

I was so inspired by the design and naturally, my wheels started turning. There were so many thoughts running through my mind like, where could we recreate a similar wall and would a dark, moody color fit with the existing aesthetics of our home and how would we mount these floating shelves? My Hubby is quite handy with repairs around our home. He is always willing to learn so I had the utmost confidence that this was a project he could handle, even though we’d never attempted any DIYs before that day. However, knowing he could do this and him actually agreeing to do this project were two completely different things. Being with this man for almost 17 years, he has taught me that there is no harm in asking for the things you want. The worse that could happen is you hear no. Problem is, this gal doesn’t like to be told no, but my desire to tackle this project was much stronger than the uncertainty of this not working in my favor.

I showed Hubby the scroll stopping photo and very nonchalantly commented on how great this little wall feature would look in our home. He studied the photo for a moment and to my disbelief said, “let’s do it.” He didn’t just mean let’s do it sometime in the near future, oh no, he meant let’s do it now! It took me a second for the shock to wear off and then I was in full planning mode. We chose the wall right off of our garage entryway because it was the perfect size and offered some eye candy from our kitchen.

We obviously needed a few supplies, so off to Home Depot and Lowes we went. Home Depot sold the hobby boards we needed for the shelves, while Lowes sold Sherwin Williams paint. Instead of going with a true gray, if there is even such a thing, I wanted something a bit darker and moodier to contrast against our white kitchen. I’d found a few color options on Pinterest but went with my gut on our color choice. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Sherwin Williams Iron Ore!! Choosing this color was pure luck, but it’s a decision I have come to love in so many ways and soon, in so many projects!

Building the shelves were much easier than expected. The hobby boards we purchased were already the ideal length (2′) and depth (4″) for the shelves. Hubby then simply cut 2″ pieces for the front of each shelf that was secured using wood glue. This technique allowed us to not use nails and therefore, avoid the not so fun task of patching holes to hide the nail heads. Since I already loved the natural wood color of the shelves, I chose to emphasize the color by applying a natural wood stain. Mounting the shelves were also pretty easy. We used 2 strut brackets, and of course, I selected the gold option because I wanted the hardware to be apart of the decor.

So, about 3 hours after having this random idea, we had ourselves a beautifully moody accent wall with contrasting natural wood shelves. Not bad for a couple of rookies and just like that, our first DIY project was completed, very successfully I might add. I love having another little corner to decorate and redecorate! Currently, I’m using this accent wall as a photo gallery, but I’m excited to mix things up in the future!

I think once we broke the ice and tackled our first DIY, the idea just didn’t seem so intimating anymore. Since then, we’ve completed vertical shiplap installation in a nook space and created a modern color block wall. One of the goals of this blog is to create and share simple DIYs in our home. We truly hope you find inspiration in this little wall feature and in our other completed projects. Tell me, have you ever done a DIY project? What was your first?

Aminah Chung

Behr Color Block Accent Wall

Do you prepare your own taxes? Last week we finally received all our documentation to begin the process. I’ve been preparing our taxes for many years now and it’s money well saved! No, I’m not an accountant on the side, well maybe our family accountant. The Hubby has nicknamed me BOA (Bank of Aminah) which I’m choosing to regard as endearing. It was a daunting and overwhelming task initially but I’ve gained much confidence throughout the years. Besides, with Turbo Tax, the process has been streamlined and simplified. The software walks you through everything, step by step, reducing the intimidation factor. I do want to add that our taxes are pretty simple. If ever the complexity of your circumstances changes, then I would definitely be seeking the advice and expertise of a professional. So, if you already prepare your own taxes, good for you! If you’re thinking about it but you’re still anxious or concerned, then I suggest you have your usual accountant prepare your taxes, but go ahead and also try it on your own using the Turbo Tax software and compare the results. This is how I first started and once I saw that I achieved the same values, then I felt better about handling our taxes on my own. The Turbo Tax software is currently on sale on Amazon! Another great incentive to take the leap!

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When it comes to interior design, is a space ever truly complete? As creative souls, when new inspiration strikes, we tend to act upon it. Take this white wall in my Hubby’s office for instance. Initially, I loved the overall clean, crisp feel we’d achieved, but the more I looked at it, the more I strongly felt something was missing. We needed more color in the space but I didn’t just want another fully painted accent wall. I wanted something a bit more artistic and interesting. That’s when I took to Pinterest and came across this color block vinyl sticker, however, I didn’t necessarily want to pay $95 for this wall art sticker. I figured we could create our own painted version, using our own design, and likely spend much less in the process. I’m elated to report that the finished accent wall achieved everything I hoped it would with a final cost of only $20!

Although not shown here, our FIRST step prior to taping and painting, was to draw out the design on the wall. We were then able to better visualize the blocks including each size, placement and painting order. I highly recommend a large, lightweight ruler, a level and frog tape! We couldn’t create perfect, leveled lines without these products! In order to maximize the number of blocks we could paint in each session, we began with the black, corner block (Behr Dark Secret). We applied 2 coats, allowing each coat to dry in between, followed by some more waiting before we could safely remove the tape and reapply it on the painted black block (say that 3 times fast!).

We were then able to tape off and paint 2 more sections/blocks. The color on the top is Behr Silverstone while the one on the bottom is Behr Imperial Gray. Both colors provided the right balance of contrast and warmth.

The 4th color to the far right is Behr Drizzle and added the perfect cool tone against the warmer gray colors. Lastly, we were able to paint the 5th color, Behr Moroccan Spice, which added a warm pop of brown to complete the look.

Can I just say that I love it when a plan falls into place! I mean who doesn’t?! The Hubby created a digital rendering of the wall design using Adobe Photoshop. We had an idea of the colors we wanted, i.e. black, a few grays and a pop of brown, but did not do any research or testing to specifically determine shades or tones. Since none of the planned blocks were overwhelmingly large, we decided to take the risk and simply choose colors we believed to be complementary and cohesive. This blind leap and the use of sample size paints, allowed us to keep our cost so incredibly low. I think this color block wall art was such a good choice for the Hubby’s office. I was concerned that the pillows and throw would feminize the space but the geometric shapes and paint colors we chose, created the perfect balance!

We managed to maintain the clean, crisp look of the room while also adding more character. I’d love to know what you guys think about our latest accent wall? Is this something you would ever consider for a space in your own home? I know this may be too bold for some, but remember friends, it’s only paint after all and can easily be changed with the stroke of a brush.

Aminah Chung

Vertical Shiplap For Less Than $150

As I sit to write this blog, my heart is lighter and happier. I spent some time this past weekend sorting through Kaiyah’s old baby clothes. My mother-in-law asked if I had any clothes I’d be willing to donate to a new mom. This was the perfect opportunity to declutter Kaiyah’s closet and be charitable at the same time. It felt liberating to have another organized space in our home. Whether you start with that junk drawer in your kitchen or ambitiously tackle your entire closet, I encourage you all to think about your belongings and purge what you’re no longer using. You could help someone in need along the way.

Now let’s move on to this fun DIY, our FIRST in 2020!

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Have you ever loved a design feature or wall treatment, but couldn’t figure out how best to incorporate it into your own home? I’ve wanted a shiplap accent wall for some time now but wasn’t sure we were up to the challenge. We have plans to DIY a large shiplap wall in our master bedroom, so updating this nook space in our loft seemed like the perfect mini project to get us started. This was a 3-day project because of our work schedule and family life, however, once the shiplap arrives it’s totally possible to complete this in 1 day. Already having the necessary tools and only needing to purchase materials made this a super cost-effective project for us. Your anticipated cost will vary depending on the tools and/or materials you already have, plus whatever you’ll need to purchase.

Our previous home decor was very much inspired by Fall colors. When we moved into our new build we brought some of our existing home decor items with us. Now that we’ve established a more neutral color scheme, it was definitely time to say goodbye to the reds and oranges, but not the yellows. I like to include a pop of yellow ever so often in our decor stylings, as an homage to our FIRST home!

the preparation

After reviewing Home Depot’s selections and based our measurements, we chose the 6″ x 8′ primed shiplap, which is sold as a 10 pack. This left us with marginal room for error but we were fairly confident we’d be successful with just the 10 pack. Since this product is not available in-store at our local Home Depot, we ordered it online.

This worked out even better as we do not own a vehicle that could transport 8′ tall shiplap. Upon delivery, we made sure to inspect each individual piece and were relieved to find they were all in great condition! Minor blemishes would be hidden under paint.

day 1

The goal for the first day was to get all the shiplap cut and installed. Now our 2 girls tend to keep our hands pretty full so it’s often a challenge completing any project within the timeframe we set for ourselves. Our usual solution is to divide and conquer, so while I was inside trying to keep our little humans alive, the Hubby was outside cutting the shiplap. Last year, in anticipation of the myriad of projects we have planned, we purchased a miter saw. According to Hubby, it worked like a charm and made a huge difference in the cutting process. It took him less time and yielded very straight, even edges.

So funny story … we kinda sorta forgot a somewhat important step when installing vertical shiplap. And by somewhat, I mean necessary.

So what was this omitted KEY step you ask? Well, since the wall studs also run vertically, that meant there was no way we could simply nail the shiplap onto our wall. We realized the error of our ways after trying to nail in several pieces of shiplap, only to have some fall right down because they were missing the studs.

day 2

It turned out we needed to install 4 pieces of 2″ x 4″ wood onto our wall FIRST, before even attempting to nail in any shiplap. It was a rookie mistake we won’t soon forget. So lesson learned and after shaking off our poor lapse in judgment, we attacked our second day with gusto! Having already cut all the shiplap the previous day, the plan for Day 2 was to get all the shiplap installed, including the trim.

We selected a pretty minimal wall trim to keep the focus on the vertical shiplap. We chose to add a trim because it created a cleaner, finished look. It’s also an easy way to hide any uneven cuts made, but that’s totally not our reason. Hey my name in Arabic means “honest” or “trustworthy” so you know you can take my word (wink) for it.

FYI my friends, a nail gun is highly recommended when installing shiplap. It speeds up the process and because the nails are so small, it allows for a smoother end result.

day 3

When it comes to painting, the Hubby has ONE rule and one rule only. He will paint a wall for me as many times as I’d like until I’m certain of the color, but he will only tape ONCE! He absolutely dislikes taping. It’s “painstaking and challenging to get the lines perfectly straight,” he says. Go figure that’s where he draws the line, but I respect his rule so I know not to remove any tape until I’m in love with the resulting paint color.

Sherwin Williams Iron Ore for the win! I’m literally obsessed with this color you guys! I discovered it last year when we decided to paint a moody, mini accent wall in our kitchen, and now there’s no going back. It’s a warm, charcoal color that adds a lot of depth and contrast. Both the texture of the shiplap and the color selection really transformed this nook space. I couldn’t be any happier with the finished project, including the decor pieces I chose to complete the refresh. There’s definitely more confidence and excitement to get started on the master bedroom wall!

Is there a project you’ve been meaning to work on or a technique you’ve been meaning to try? Let’s stop doubting ourselves and our capabilities! Working in the health care industry, I’m constantly reminded that life is too short. Step out of your comfort zone and you just might surprise yourself! I’d love to hear about any new or ongoing projects you’re all working on, including setbacks and tips you’ve picked up along the way. You can always follow me on Instagram and be sure to tag me in your project posts so I can support you!

Aminah Chung