Gold-Dipped Desk: Fun & Fresh

  February 14, 2015

On Valentine's I'm thinking about The gold-dipped craze.  It certainly got my attention.  Lately it seems I cannot get enough of it!  From decor to furniture to my own personal accessories...I am a fan of gold these days.   I debated for some time whether to jump on the bandwagon and haul out my metallic spray paint. Then, while brainstorming ideas for updating a desk,  I thought why not?   Gold embellishments would not only update my desk, but provide me an opportunity to experiment with it.

Here is a look at the desk before:

I wasn't loving the orange-tinged finish with paint stains....or the black legs.  Prior to painting the legs black (like 10+years ago), the legs were dark green....I believe it was called "hunter green".  Remember that color?  This desk served as a kitchen table in my  husband's tiny apartment, long before I came along.   Since then it has traveled with us for 3 moves and has been mostly a computer desk.   The table has good bones and a simple design...making it the perfect piece for a little gold-dipping experimentation!

The materials I used for this project consisted of:

1. Citri-strip: good smelling non toxic stain stripper.  Paint it on, wait 30 minutes, scrape off. Old stain practically melts off the surface like warm butter.  I love this product!  Caution: very messy. Have plenty of paper towel on hand.  See photo below.

2.  Paint.  Any finish you choose. I prefer flat because it seems to sand more easily and evenly.  You can always add sheen with a little polyurethane!

3.  Sandpaper- This is for smoothing your surface after stripping.  Fine grit works great.

4.  Tack cloth- A small cloth with a sticky/tacky texture used to clean your surface of any sanded debris. This is an important step before staining!

5.  Min wax stain in Dark Walnut.

6.  Spray paint in gold metallic

7.  Painter's tape: used to protect non-sprayed areas and create crisp lines between sprayed and non-sprayed surfaces.  I only needed enough to circle all four table legs, at the top and bottom if each leg

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This is the surface after stripping, sanding, and wiping ckean

The finished product

The desk in all it's fun fresh glory

I am pleased with how my first gold-dipped furniture piece turned out. Yes I jumped right on that bandwagon, and I'm glad I did!

What piece of furniture in your home do you dare to update? Have some fun. Gold-dip anyone?

Thoughts of a novice blogger.......

February 4, 2015 Greetings reader!   This is a post from the heart.   Here goes.....

I started a blog a few months ago. To date I have 13 posts, 1 comment (thanks Dad!), and a total of three hundred and some odd views (275 of them were probably from family members, friends and myself).  This is the current reality of my blogging experience.  And for now, I'm ok with that.  Between posts (which I aim to publish weekly),I am setting goals that I know will lead me to my destination. My primary goal (which became much more clear to me today) relative to blogging, is to develop a site that is an extension of myself; a site that demonstrates my personality and love of what I do. A sight that I can be proud of and feel confident sharing with the world.

So Why a Blog?  Why Now? 

Over the past year or so I've thought more and more about exploring my creative side; not only for myself but for the benefit of others as well.  Entrepreneurship has been a thought I've had for quite some time, but I'd never really done anything to bring myself closer to that reality.   During a recent family "get-away" I had time to do a lot of reading on the topic.   I became overwhelmingly inspired.   I knew it was time to get to work and it just felt right to start making decisions and setting serious goals.

Let me rewind a bit....over coffee one fall morning in October 2014, an entrepreneur friend of mine suggested I start a blog to document my work.   I liked the idea.  I thought about it and decided to make this my very first business development goal. So, in November 2014, with absolutely no experience in blog world or design, I checked out WordPress and an hour later I had a blog.  I named it "Little Green Ranch". I chose the no-cost blog option without a customized domain name, with the understanding that it would be essentially impossible for others' to find my blog, not knowing my blog address. To me this seemed like a good way to ease into blog world.  I could "learn the ropes" at my own pace, free of pressure.

Learning As I Go

I started reading other blogs and stumbled upon Bloglovin'.  I was blown away by all the beautiful blogs and creativity out there! For a novice blogger it was overwhelming. It wasn' long before I acquired a preference for certain blogs and blog styles. Although I have 12-15 blogs on my blog feed, currently there is just one that I've followed on a consistent basis. (Elle & Co.). This blog provides an abundance of information on what makes a successful blog or website. (if I knew how to create a link, this would be the ideal location for one!).  Not only does the site provide useful information, but the writing style, content, visual appeal, and mood of the site make it a success. I find that the more blogs I read, and the more I learn, the more questions I have. When do I take the plunge and amp up my current site? Do I continue my "practice" blog with the goal to launch a bigger and better site? Do I learn photography? Do I seek out someone to help me design my site? How can I attract readers and keep them coming back? How can I create authentic content in a creative industry where there are thousands of talented people doing the same thing?   I am reminded of a quote I heard once....

"We're not creating something better, we're creating something different".              -Steve Jobs

The Next Step

It is early February 2015....the start of a new and exciting year. This morning a dear friend of mine came over to talk about my new endeavor. She left me feeling as giddy as a kid at a candy shop. Up until this morning I had a hundred questions....and now.....I have about 70. It was great to obtain constructive criticism and discuss ideas that have been swirling around in my head. It is re-assuring to know I am on the right path and that this is by no accident or fluke, a new page in my life story. My friend couldn't have said it any better...."Just let your light shine". I have clarity on what the next step is.....and that is to begin designing a new and improved site that one day (hopefully soon!) I can be proud to showcase, and that will provide the foundation I need to enter into the world of creative entrepreneurship.

So with that, I"d love to share another great quote from Steve Jobs. His words stuck with me and help put life into perspective; allowing it to unfold in ways that are meant to be; not always knowing the answers going forward, but with the knowledge and belief that we make life happen by acting......

"You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.  You have to trust in something.  Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition."

5 Simple Budget-Friendly Basement Make-Over Tricks

Tonight I am like a child at Christmas. I am so excited to share how I gave my basement a face-lift.....on a budget! With some time, a little thought, and preparation you can do it too! Before you start, choose a section of your basement....the whole basement can be overwhelming. Pick a space you'd like to make functional. An ugly cold space void of color....a space in need of some TLC. We chose a corner where we wanted to have our computer as well as a work space for all my crafty shenanigans. Once you've decided on a plan you are ready for the tricks.....

1. Paint your space. This includes walls and ceiling. You know those pretty basement ceilings filled with wood and pipes? Paint them. I highly recommend a paint sprayer and eye/nose protection. Do not neglect your nose or Your boogers will be the color you choose.....guaranteed. And don't forget to paint the doors! From a dingy door to a sleek black door......what fun!

2. Lighting: this is key for any functional space. Whether it's lamps or new fixtures, you might consider this your one expense item....but there are numerous fixtures out there that are reasonably priced! Our three light track lighting fixture was about 60.00. Worth the price to brighten up my space! Gggg

3. Use old furniture! You don't have to buy new furniture to liven up a space. Look around your house.....is there a piece that serves no other purpose but to look good in that corner? If so, think about how to update it. Paint or new hardware can quickly achieve a new look/style. Take that piece of furniture to your new space. How will you use it? I painted an old table from my husband's bachelor days! It looks new and current now. It was my first gold-dipped victim....and it was a success! Now I gave a fun desk. We also hauled down a bookshelf from our living room....it now serves a purpose and it looks good in a different space. We continue to use our computer desk and I couldn't resist moving the orange chair from the living room. No one ever sat in that thing! And now not only do I have a chic chair ( that goes with the color scheme) but I have a cozy spot to sit when I'm blogging, reading blogs, or keeping my husband company while he's on the computer. The white chair with the pink seat....I made that last year. Now I have found a home for it! Love when that happens.

4. Go thrifting or scrounge up some decor items you have stored away, or that are in other locations of the house. This is my favorite part....accessorizing your new space. Don't buy new office organization pieces! They are over-priced and frankly just not that pretty to look at. Go thrifting and find some old mason jars for your paint brushes! Be creative with this.....it's your space and the best part is creating it on little to no cost! I had fun spray painting old frames a crisp white...then added my kids' art to them. Now we have a great new gallery wall filled with things we already had!

5. Incorporate texture! Rugs, pillows, throw blankets. The staples of any living Space! We decided to purchase a rug for our new space....and it definitely completes the look. So much warmer and inviting. Keeps our feet warm on that cold concrete floor! The pillow and blanket we already had....just grabbed them from other rooms in the house.

See below for the amazing transformation!!!!!

Before

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And there you have it. Five simple ways you can refresh your basement space of choice at minimal cost! It takes time to plan and prepare but once you know where you're heading with a space, let the fun begin. You can do this!

Basement Refresh: Part 3

Slow but steady wins the race......my last post on our basement refresh was in mid December!  It has been a long process but so fun to see the changes!   Below is a before shot......reminds me of a bad horror film! image

Below is the latest view....this is after hours of cleaning out junk, loading van loads of things to the donation center, organizing, spraying the walls, spraying the ceiling, and painting the floor.   I might have snuck in a little wall decor project along the way. Once those walls were a crisp white I couldn't resist a fun wall decor project on the cheap!  See my post Sunday Funday Project for those details.   As you can see the floor is not finished yet....and those unsightly red poles need to be painted as well.   We also had new track lighting installed. Makes a world of difference.

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Originally I had ideas of my work space under the stairs but decided against it, in favor of a more open, well-lit space. See my future nook below.... image

Hard to visualize a cute and inspiring work space, huh? A little paint to the ceiling and walls already makes a positive impact... image Now we're getting somewhere. Here is another view of the painted space: image Hoping to finish the floor this week, obtain quote for mud/taping two unfinished walls, and carpet install in a couple weeks (carpet will go by tv/small window). Stay tuned for more updates to come!!!

Mantle Monday

Another weekend has come and gone.....and we face Monday head-on.(whether we want to or not!).  I'm having my coffee, the boys are still in bed, and I'm thinking about what projects have yet to be done.  The basement is our biggie right now....little by little we see progress.  But there's still time for all the little things....like the mantle! imageimageimage

I went out on a limb and hung my sunburst mirror, which I think is perfect to liven up the space. It has been hanging in our bathroom where no one can see it.....so I thought it was time to showcase it.  Plus, with the Christmas decor down the space seemed bare and in need of color!  The mirror is navy blue; a color I can't seem to get enough of lately.   Navy on light gray is a beautiful thing. Classy and timeless.   Now for those other accessories..

Plain and simple makes a great mantle. I like to mix up pieces of different sizes, shapes, heights, and textures. The sign was not my own original (someday I plan to tackle signs).  I found it on clearance and liked the saying.  The owl planter....a thrift store find for a buck. It was dark brown before I laid my hands on it. I spray painted it gold/metallic.  The green ball (my boys think it's funny I call it a ball; one of many "greenery" balls they are prohibited from touching), was another clearance find at Hobby Lobby. I would never buy those at full price!

The blue glass mason jars...I use them all year long. They are versatile and pretty to look at. I usually put some type of arrangement in them...they need a little something more besides twigs....I better get on that....

And lastly, the pears/two-tiered bowl.   This is another year long accessory I use.  With a little re-arranging from season to season, they go a long way.  I made the bowl by glueing two bowls together with old candlestick holders. Then I spray painted them the same color (rustic/textured brown/copper).

And that's a wrap for the current post-Christmas season mantle in our home.  Simple, mostly hand-made, and pretty.  A  step-by-step tutorial for the sunburst mirror is yet to come.....

Happy mantle Monday!

Gallery Walls in 2015

Hello and Happy New Year!  I am back to blogging after a vacation away from technology! While I thoroughly enjoyed it I am happy to be back reading my favorite blogs and and posting to my own blog as well.  I am excited about 2015....a new year full of new ideas, better ideas, new projects, and all those little(or big) projects not completed in 2014!  Gallery walls just seem like a good kick-off to the year..... If you've never done a gallery wall I highly recommend it.  I love them for a number of reasons.  I can compile things I like that don't necessarily go together, but when hung strategically with one another the result is amazing!  This is a great way to avoid spreading too many little things throughout the house.  When groups of items are displayed together the impact is so much greater! Another great thing about these walls is that they can communicate so much about a person or a home. Walls I've created have told the story of my family, or have even reflected my spiritual beliefs and motivations. It's a pretty cool thing when you can make decor with things you already have and that mean something to you.

My first wall mural.  The end result was a happy moment!

The bedroom wall gallery, being my first, consisted of a lot of thought and planning....right down to plan lay-out over wrapping paper. What you say? Yes I used wrapping paper for this project! I used the back of wrapping paper and cut it the same size as the wall space. After some arranging and re-arranging of the items over the paper, I finally decided on a lay-out. All I had to do was make marks on the paper where the nails should go. I also took a picture of the lay-out so I wouldn't forget it! Once the paper was put up against the wall I hammered away, removed the paper, and hung everything in a matter of minutes.

Third mural....this happened due to my dislike of the dark paint color and no motivation to paint!

The white framed gallery wall was fun to do. I had all the frames already but had to do a little painting. Some were distressed and others were a crisp white. I loved that it was a temporary fix for the orange wall behind it! This gallery remained intact for about 5 months....then I decided to paint the wall! Again, another reason I love gallery walls....they can be temporary or last forever so have fun and just go nuts hanging stuff!

Second mural. After the first I became addicted

The "fall" gallery wall....not a huge favorite of mine. I wanted color on that big bare wall so one late night I started hanging up stuff and hoped for the best! This is an example of a seasonal wall gallery. I used fall colors, fall sayings, and incorporated some texture as well. I also did a Christmas wall but no photo of that!

This mural was created to serve the purpose of adding contrast to a very light "baby" blue room. Again....painting was not in my near future

Last but not least....the wall created for contrast...I still have this one up. It works for the space and warms up the light room. It's fun to change it up once in a while, but the overall structure remains unchanged. There was no lay-out process for this one...just "eye-balling" with a little luck. Total time it took to complete was about an hour.

So there you have it....the gallery wall syndrome! It is addicting once you've completed one but I promise you won't regret it! And don't give up after your first. It takes practice! Oh and price for these walls....next to nothing if you have the items/frames. If not go thrifting! Here's to experimenting with gallery walls in 2015!!!

Sunday Funday Project

  Even though the basement is far from finished, today I had the itch to create some fun wall art.  With all the white painted walls now, some pops of color are a necessity!  This was an easy and very cheap project! Here is what you need: 1. Various sizes of canvas, or picture frames (I've even seen shoebox lids used) 2. T-shirts of all colors...logos, places, or sports teams your family likes 3. Scissors to cut the shirts to size 4. Staple gun 5. Fabric spray(optional) helps keep shirt in place when centering, before flipping over to staple

 

Use a variety of t-shirts that are meaningful to your family

Canvas art is cheap at thrift stores or Hobby Lobby's 90% off aisle

Make sure the shirts are centered

Once centered, flip over and staple gun the edges

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And there you have it. Easy, very cheap, pop of color and so fun for the new basement "refresh"

I'm happy with the result! They will look great against the white brick (which is actually stamped cement). I have yet to attach wire to each canvas and hang. I hope command hooks on the brick will get the job done! Mission accomplished. See below....

Attach wire to frame with staple gun. Worked like a charm.

Command hook stuck immediately to the cement...I even yanked on that thing and it didn't move

Voila! Planning to add to the wall....

I am thrilled to have some color and decor in the basement. How have you brightened up a room that took an hour or less and cost under $10?

Basement Refresh- Status Update

We continue to grind away at the basement project. We have completed painting one half, and now are tackling the other half of the basement.  In these pictures you see what the walls and ceiling look like before painting, and how we used tarps to to protect non-targeted surfaces.

The ugly ceiling and drab walls. Not for long!

My kids' art wall. This is staying out. Planning to eventually cover the entire wall.

A look at the ceiling before paint and through the plastic tarp you see blah gray.

See they difference that white makes?  It's like breathing in the fresh wilderness air isn't it?

You are welcome to paint the whole ceiling boys! Kinda dreading the process here....but it will be worth it in the end!

Early in the ceiling painting process I became nervous....it seriously looked like fire damage. Cross fingers and spray on...

After the ceiling was done, I cut the bottom half of the tarp off and pulled the ends up onto the ceiling so I could spray the walls without messing up the finished ceiling. Fun.

I think I can I think I can...

After this project I won't be using tarp or masking tape too soon.  This was the most grueling project I've done, but I know it will be worth all the time and effort!  We couldn't have done it (and kept our sanity) without a paint sprayer. That was key.  If you use a sprayer don't forget to wash the parts between each use.....oh and read the manual!

Today I finally finished the painting!  There are a few areas that need more coverage and that a son or two will be assisting to official completion.   So excited to create more functional living space for my family.....and an inspiring work space for myself!  Stay tuned.....

 

 

Food can be pretty too!

image So why pictures of food you ask!?  I have recently taken an interest in how food looks.  It's really quite beautiful.  There are so many colors, textures and flavors to explore.   It's like home decor.....it's fun to try new things and if you don't like it, that's ok.  You can change it up any way you like.  A nourishing and tasty meal/snack makes us feel comforted much like a well thought out room in the house.  When you sit in that room it just feels....right.   All the pieces are there and you feel satisfied!

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Veggie and leftover sirloin stir-fry.

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Re-finishing furniture: lessons learned

I started re-doing furniture about 2 years ago. Of course I started with my largest and most valuable antique piece. It was beginner's luck. Although I did my research and didn't jump into the project blind, I've certainly learned a thing or two along the way that I wish I'd known then! Below you see the finished product of my first serious re-do: imageimage

As you can see the piece is unique with intricate detail. I wish I had a "before" shot to share but just picture a dark wood with some areas of "glaze-y" surface, almost bubble-like patches. It needed some help. I used chalk paint (home-made), mixed up the color I wanted with some paint I already had, and started painting away. I wasn't sure how I felt about the feel of painting with chalk paint but kept on with it. Once it was dry (I was surprised at how quickly this happened!) I began sanding and distressing away.  I loved how forgiving this paint medium really is....I didn't have to be so careful with my brush strokes.

In hindsight, I wouldn't distress quite so hard....as per the close-up photo above on the right, you can see some lighter areas where I over sanded...this was a good lesson learned as I think about it every time I am sanding/distressing a piece.  Additionally I make sure and use fine grit sand paper on all my projects....I scratched some areas up on this piece....but I think I managed to get away with it.

On to the hardware...a win-win by using three different drawer pull types.   I didn't want it to be too matchy. Plus, it's fun to change it up with variety!  The top drawer pulls are pewter, and the center and bottom rows of drawers have two varieties of clear glass knobs.  I am happy with the look and I'm sure there will be many a projects with varieties of hardware in my re-furbishing future!

Another take home message....Do re-furbish an old piece you already have and one you know you love.   Don't overspend on a piece that isn't solid and then proceed to spend a good chunk of time on making it work.....see below for photo....

Before. Oiy.

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I paid 30.00 too much on this piece.  It's worth 5.00. I discovered how bad it was while working on it...cheaply made, bad drawers, poor surface. Ug!  I think I felt bad for it....so I kept on painting, stripping, staining. Anything to breath new life into it!  The partial finished product you see to the right.  I debated color but ended up going with a crisp white.  You can't go wrong with a classic crisp white....er....well.....uh.....yeah.    I used a semi-gloss paint.  I am new to this paint type with furniture.  Let's just say I really missed my chalk paint.  Next I added a layer of polycrylic. Big mistake. Big. Huge.  It turned yellow within minutes. Not sure what happened there.  It could very possibly be a rookie mistake.

So now what?  Do I paint another layer of white?  Is this sad little dresser worth the extra effort? I'm not convinced it is.   The drawers, on the contrary, turned out decent.  The potential is there (if the dresser gets "fixed" and hardware is added).  I was able to strip most of the orange-ish wood, sand them, and restain with Dark Walnut.

The dresser remains unfinished and homeless.  There may be more work to come...... image  

 So after a little more TLC, the dresser ain't bad after all. It lives in my sons' room and gets the job done! I left the original hardware be, and took out the top drawer, as it was in pretty tough shape. Now the boys can use that nook on top for all the little trinkets boys save!

 

 

Fun Christmas Decor at the 'lil Ranch

Another Christmas season is upon us and life is good.   Christmas decorations are up in our house. The boys did a great job decorating the tree this year!  It's so fun digging out old decor and figuring out ways to update it without spending a dime!  Even something as simple as changing out an old ribbon on a wreath, or finding a new home for a piece you've had forever, can change up your whole holiday decor scheme.  I spent a whopping $10 on this year's decorations,  which consisted of some greenery and berry arrangements.    The sun was shining so bright today...good day for some pictures.   So sit back and enjoy our Christmas decor photo gallery....from our home to yours! Cheers to beautiful Holiday decor on a budget! image

Current state of affairs in the basement

We've all had our share of clutter in the basement.....more like natural disaster site. Sadly this is what our basement has become over the past several months to a year.  But it's about to change and we're excited about it!   The plan is to create a number of different functional spaces from play zone, to tv/gaming area, to good old fashioned board game/Lego table, and of course to a project space for mom! To truly appreciate the final product I've posted some " before" photos.  Let me tell you it ain't pretty.

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Luke is that you? I can hardly see you in that mess!  And a staining project smack dab in the center of my sons' hockey zone? Not smart.

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Poor piano (also in need of a facelift).  To the right of the bike is the future site of my work space. Have always wanted a space under the stairs!

As you gaze at the photos you obviously see a myriad of things.....junk, clutter, toys, craft supplies, paint.  A mess of  unorganized chaos.  Additionally, it lacks color!  Not a particularly inspiring space to be in.   More to come....

In love with my fall mantle

Everything about this mantle makes me smile....the teal jars, the pears, the mirror and the pretty little clump of floral goodness (thank you Susan!)....it all just works together doesn't it? Total cost: about $7 image

So how did this mantle take form you ask? Since my last big project (my bed) I had wood boards left over and I couldn't stop myself from staining them and making a new mirror frame with them! I basically glued the crud outta the mirror border, stuck the boards on there and hoped they'd stick well. My husband reassured me..."oh yeah, liquid nails'll do it. That frame isn't going anywhere". He was right! The jars were a thrift store find, each at .99 the fall arrangement I already had...just a matter of re-arranging and placing in jars. The pears...also a thrift store find. I think I paid 3.00 for 10 of them. The bundle of glorious fall foliage....swiped it immediately from my mother-in-law who had a garage sale this summer, free of charge!

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I'm usually chomping at the bit to take down seasonal mantle decor in preparation for the next season, but this fall I just don't want to take this one down! What is your favorite fall mantle decor?

From "nah" to "ahhhhhhh!!!!"

This was a project I had thought about tackling for awhile....I knew I wasn't going out and buying a new bed so I said hey, "think outside the box Kate" and after some planning and careful thought I came up with something!  Next I headed to Menards to purchase the wood boards and liquid nails.  I already had the stain on hand.  This project cost only 30.00.   The boards(16 of them) measuring 1x4x8 feet cost only 25.00 and the liquid nails totaled 5.00.    Total time to complete it: approximately 4 hours.  Steps involved: 1.  Taking bed frame measurements to determine how many wood boards would be needed   2.  Cutting boards to size (my awesome husband used his portable table saw) 3. Staining the boards. 4.  Paint old frames (antique white chalk paint) and distress  5.  Apply liquid nails to bed frame and place boards on top.  6.  Allow time to cure/dry (I placed heavy paint cans on top while drying)  7.  Haul new headboard/footboard inside, assemble the bed.  8.  Instant crush on the new and improved bed!  I couldn't be happier with the final product!   This may be my proudest diy moment yet....

Laundry on the mind

My latest obsession is finding ways to make our laundry room more functional and more f.u.n. Fun.  A small laundry room it is but so much potential to create a great space!  I need to create a happy space to make the task of laundry more enjoyable.   Who doesn't want a fun laundry space? laundry on the mindPaint color is already done. It's called "smooth stone" by Sherwin Williams.  Love the light (but not stark white) shade and the illusion it creates of a much bigger space!  The floor space is very limited....neutral tile in need of a fun rug. I have contemplated bright multi-colored, or solid colored rug...then I stumbled upon a rug at Kohl's (half price) which doesn't even closely resemble the ideas in my head.  It is a black and cream geometric pattern....and it totally works!  So now I am left with an open pallet for those much-needed pops of color!  This is the fun part....finding accessories like wall art and storage bins for the cubby.  Stay tuned...pictures to come. At the moment I refuse to take photos as there are about 25 football jerseys hanging in there!!!