Wednesday, September 30, 2015

As Lowe's says, "never stop improving". Escrow closes today on a newly built townhouse I purchased. Of course with model homes, what you see is definitely not what you get at the list price. Let's take a 1,400 sq ft newly built tract home. The model homes are always decked out with customized bathroom wallpaper, dimensional wall paneling, upgraded kitchen granite, cupboards and flooring. What they don't tell you is that custom upgraded laminate floors with the builder and their design team can add on at least another $12,000-$15,000, upgraded granite counter tops are another $5,000+ and a few hundred square feet of 12"x24" porcelain tile for your bathrooms can add on another $6,000. Your model home upgrades can run you an additional $20,000+ on top of list price.

The plan below is to work with the beige walls, the square 90's tile floors and try to make something modern with a few days of DIY. I love using Adobe Photoshop to figure out what I can achieve. See the BEFORE photo, master plan below and check my instagram for AFTER photos to come!

See the before photo here.

  • Remove spindle traditional island legs. Paint legs and inside window frame dark grey.
  • Install instant convertible pendant lights above kitchen island. Turn your recessed lighting into ceiling pendants. No wiring needed! Available here.
  • Find your own contractors that specialize in flooring only. Compare across 3 estimates. Laminate wood materials and labor should run about $6,000 for 1,800 sq ft. (heck of a deal vs $15,000).
  • Remove 6" granite backsplash and range backsplash. Install white mosaic or Smart tile peel and stick option. Smart tile adhesive backsplash available here. Tutorials on granite removal here.
  • DIY roman shades from $5 mini blinds. Tutorials here and all over the internet.
  • Add some color! Lemons, yellow metal bar stools and vintage pepsi crates on Etsy.  

Closed Escrow! How to make a basic kitchen stylish
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Closed Escrow! How to make a basic kitchen stylish

Friday, August 21, 2015

Last month I visited the sold out community, Pavilion Park in Irvine, CA (Pictured above). I was pleasantly shocked to find the community amenities included a greenhouse with huge ficus lyrata trees, communal herbs for its residents and "free air" pump stations. The outdoor seating area is designed with recycled materials including bike tires, reclaimed wood and aged metal. The outdoor area was reminiscent of 6th grade camp but made for adults with industrial modern taste. The visitor center included a touch screen map developed by interactive designer Sara Geissen. You can tell that there is a bit of a disconnect between the hip, unique, community area designed by SB Architects versus the homes themselves which seemed much more traditional looking on the exterior.

Having been quite impressed with Pavilion Park, I visited the grand opening of Beacon Park, the 960 unit new neighboring community which opened on August 15, 2015. Beacon Park is extremely well planned out. On grand opening day, shuttle buses were arranged to take visitors from the parking lot to the community where you were greeted by informational pamphlets, beach ball souvenirs, bottled mini waters and one-time-use sunscreen packets. Seriously, how thoughtful, I didn't bring any of those things! I felt like I had just entered an amusement park, except my eagerness to ride roller coasters was replaced by an attempt to visit all 15 home collections by 10 builders (K. Hovnanian Homes, Lennar, Pulte Homes, Richmond American Homes, Ryland Homes, Shea Homes, and Taylor Morrison, Standard Pacific and DR Horton).  In terms of amenities, the community pool is large enough for an athlete to swim laps, the platform treehouse is like nothing I've seen before, and there is plenty of inviting seating areas complete with an outdoor pizza oven. Conclusion: as an adult, home shopping is just as tiring and exciting as spending an entire day riding carnival rides.

I snapped some quick photos below of the interiors that you can also check out on my Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter accounts. I would definitely recommend home decor enthusiasts to pay a visit for inspiration or if you just wanted to spend an entire day looking at homes from the top community builders in the U.S.

Model Home One Stop Shop - Beacon Park Grand Opening in Irvine,California
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Model Home One Stop Shop - Beacon Park Grand Opening in Irvine,California

Thursday, June 25, 2015

I found an old Min-O-Life fish bait bucket at the Long Beach Flea. Loved the industrial look and simple colors. Took it home, filled it with soil and planted a variety of succulents inside, along with a giraffe and sabertooth tiger, of course. The bucket came with another filter insert with perforations in the metal. Made a very cute pair of planters for my front door banister. Voila!

  • Succulents
  • Plastic animal toy figurines
  • Vintage bait bucket (similar available on Etsy)

Min O Life Vintage Fish bait bucket - Succulent Planter
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Min O Life Vintage Fish bait bucket - Succulent Planter

Monday, April 13, 2015

I've been meaning to post this piece that was made a few months ago.  If you're a lucky Californian, the Long Beach Flea market is open every third Sunday of the month. Stumbled upon a vendor selling boxes full of vintage California themed matchbooks and picked out a few dozen that had some vibrant coloring and artwork. A few had raised, embossed text which I really loved.

These matchbooks looked to be in pristine condition with all matches intact to give it a more 3 dimensional look. I thought it might look interesting if mounted in a shadowbox type picture frame. One stop shop, of course, is Ikea. Picked out the Ribba frame which has a 1.75" depth perfect to showcase the matchbooks. Actually hangs nicely in the bathroom for your guests to do a bit of reading while they do their business.


  • Cardstock or thick paper - for the backing in color of your choice. White shown below.
  • Double sided tape - keeps the matchbooks easily attached to the cardstock. 
  • Frame and bam, one of a kind wall hanging complete. 

Framed Vintage Matchbooks - Wall Art
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Framed Vintage Matchbooks - Wall Art

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What exactly is a headboard for and do I really need a bed frame? It's really all up to you. My room sketched below shows only the box springs wrapped in fabric to act as an upholstered frame/base. Instructions on Crafty C0rn3r and many other sites.

Here is a little Headboard History according to Houzz:

"The pictorial history of the headboard starts with the Egyptian pharaohs. Headboards carved in ebony, silver and gold (clearly more for show than comfort) are depicted in many early drawings.

Next were the Greeks and Romans. More practical in their approach, they designed a basic wooden platform with a headboard to protect themselves from cold drafts. The headboard allowed them to eat and even socialize around the bed, making the bedroom the main entertaining area in the home.

With the Middle Ages came the canopy and fourposter designs. More intricate and elaborate, the bed became the most expensive and important piece of furniture in both rich and poor homes.

The Tudor reproduction headboard and base shown here are simply decorated and perfect examples of the era, yet they fit comfortably in a 21st-century setting.

Upholstered headboards (or stuffers, as they were originally known) became popular during the 17th century, as the demand for comfort increased and draping fabric on canopy beds died out. "

Today, we mainly use headboards as a statement piece, so why not opt for art instead? Thanks to Pinterest and photoshop,  I've posted a tangible collage of my dreams.

P.S. If anyone knows where I can get a similar upcycled CB2 pillow (in a similar color scheme) no longer for sale I would greatly appreciate the feedback.

Items can be found with links below:

  • Currently obsessed with Josh Brill's plant and animal illustrations shown in sketches below - visit his site here: 
  • Yellow vintage Weatherhead tool box, available on Etsy here
  • Pintucked cotton duvet, available at Westelm here
  • Solid colored Washi tape, $3. Available on amazon here
  • White/Black swing arm Desk Lamp by Boston Harbor, $31.80. Available on Amazon here
  • Tiered Tree lamp by Better Homes, $56. This floor lamp is a steal. I love the simple stems with the adjustable globe light settings.
    • Similar Globe Table Lamp available at West Elm here, $199
  • Striped 5' x 8' navy cotton staggered rug from Rugs USA here, $99
    • Similar Stockholm Rug at Ikea here, $199
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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Solution to a seemingly never ending 14 foot wall space? A never ending wall-length-14-foot plywood desk! Initially started out with a computer sketch. I knew I wanted it to be visually interesting, cubic and asymmetrical. See snippets of the process below.

Wooden dowel shelves were inspired by Vintage Revivals (I love her blog). Decided to go with plywood because I love the simple, linear, striped edges. Stained the edges with Formby's low gloss Tung Oil for a more natural finish. Finished the table top and shelves in Behr Ultra Pure White. Placed 2 rectangular boxes (14" x 27.5") for the table base ends and installed Alex drawers from Ikea at the center for concealed storage. Adding additional floating boxes to the base this week. Stay tuned for updated photos.

  • 2 - 3 sheets of plywood for shelving, table top and base boxes (5 layer is what is used here)
  • Paint colors of your choice (Colors below are Ultra Pure White, Liquid Blue and Paramount by Behr). 
  • 3" long dowel screws for the wooden dowels. 
  • 1" diameter wooden dowels cut to size depending on shelf depth (12" deep shelves shown below). Drill the double ended screw into drywall anchor or stud. Drill hole into wooden dowel. Twist dowel onto screw that is secured in the wall. 
  • Formby's low gloss Tung Oil shown below (or stain or paint of your choice)
  • Wood screws to build the rectangle bases.
  • Wood screws to secure table top to the 2 bases and Alex drawers to prevent tabletop from warping / sinking over time.
  • Total cost is roughly $340. 
  • Total time is roughly 2 days (including material shopping).
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Built ins - plywood desk with storage - IKEA HACK
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Built ins - plywood desk with storage - IKEA HACK

Sunday, February 22, 2015

After much debate and research on electric vehicles, I finally pulled the trigger to lease a BMW i3. There are so many incentives and perks for driving this car asides from the environmental benefits. I love every detail of the interior the "LODGE" / "GIGAWORLD" package. I can't help it, I  have a thing for curved Eucalyptus wood.

The main flaw of the close to perfect GIGAWORLD interior is the light grey, dirt absorbing carpet that comes standard with the GIGAWORLD $1,700 add on package. After taking it for a test drive, you will notice foot marks immediately. I looked through Amazon, Ebay and Google shopping for some alternative options and didn't find much in terms of an affordable custom fit floor mat. Since this is only a short lease, I didn't want to spend another $300 on floor mats. I figured an easy solution would be to DIY a stain resistant indoor/outdoor rug.

Sold by the foot, you can pick up stain resistant indoor/outdoor carpet for about $1 - 4 per foot at your local Home Depot in a variety of colors from black, brown, green, blue to grey. I picked up some free swatches to take home to see which option I liked best. Decided on the 6' wide Century Gray Wood. Made of UV BCF olefin, this carpet is stain resistant and has a 2 year fade warranty. For front row and back row flooring, you will only need 4 feet total (you will have remnants). At $16 and 20 minutes of cutting time, this DIY car carpet is a steal! If it get's dirty you can always cut yourself a whole new set.

I just ran some errands in the rain and the DIY car floor mats held up well. Wet shoes post rain did not show on the mats. Hoorah! Of course you can DIY this for any car / size / shape.

You can read more about the i3 Design here.

  • A good pair of scissors (sharp enough to cut thru thick fabric). Lay original mats upside down on the wrong side of carpet of your choice. Outline and cut. 
  • 4 feet of indoor outdoor carpet of your choice.
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BMW i3 - $16 DIY Stain Resistant Custom Floor Mats
11:46 PM

BMW i3 - $16 DIY Stain Resistant Custom Floor Mats

Monday, January 12, 2015

Over Thanksgiving weekend, I decided that it could be a great idea to go camping in the mid of winter. Considered all the states bordering California and came up with these 3 to make up a 6 day long road trip: Nevada, Utah and Arizona. For those of you interested in doing the same, I have shared the itinerary destinations and photos below. Enjoy!

Leaving From Los Angeles / Orange County, this trip is a perfect tour thru Nevada, Utah and Arizona.
  • Las Vegas - 1 night
  • Utah - Zion National Park -2 nights (of below 30 degree camping if you dare) - Watchman Campgrounds
    • Hikes: 
      • Angel's Landing Trail - This is a treacherous hike not for a beginner! Advisable to leave the peak before sunset or bring headlamps.
      • Observation Point Trail (This one is not as difficult as Angel's landing) - Longer hike kind of a let down when you finally get to the top.
  • Arizona - Horseshoe bend - drive / walk thru must see
  • Arizona - Lower Antelope Canyon - drive / walk thru must see
  • Arizona - Grand Canyon - 1 night - Mather South Rim Camgrounds
    • Hikes:
      • Grand Canyon South Rim hikes - South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point. Must do at least to the ooh aah point which is only 1 mile in.
  • Arizona - Sedona & Phoneix- drive thru
  • California - Salvation Mountain - drive thru (I didn't have time for this unfortunately).
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Las Vegas, Nevada - New high rises

Utah - Zion National Park
Utah - Angel's Landing Trail
Utah - Top of Angel's Landing right before sunset.
Utah - Observation Point Trail
Arizona - Horseshoe bend
Arizona - Antelope Canyon
Phoenix, Arizona - Lux Coffee Shop. Possibly one of the cutest coffee shops ever.

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