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The Peaceful Cottage

I love homes, home design, housekeeping, being a stay at home mom, and spending time at home with my husband. I am hoping to creating a home of peace... filled with the spirit of the Lord. I believe that I can "create peace in my home, when there is happiness therein."

My New, Old Bookshelves…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Before and After, DIY, Furniture

Seek ye out the best books…

A few months ago, I was feeling overwhelmed with all the piles of books we had lying around the house. Having just read a study that showed kids that grew up in homes with a library of 1,000 books or more tend to do better in college and earn more after graduation, I became more determined to find a permanent solution. (I am kidding… sort of.)

I headed to IKEA to see what options they have. I really liked the look of the Hemnes Set, but just could not stomach the price tag — $180.00 for one… I would need three.

Game Plan #2 – Build your own Hemnes – It is a simple straight forward design, I thought why not give it a try. Armed with a lot of iPhone pics, a little drawing and some dimensions – I headed to The Home Depot to price out wood. Conclusion: Less expensive than buying from Ikea, but not by much.

Moving on to game plan #3 – Scour local newspaper ads, Craigslist, thrift stores and Garage sales. This was getting more into my price range, but generally the shelving units I could afford had seen better days. Then one glorious afternoon… during nap time… a posting listed online — “Four Bookshelves for $10.” I called the individual, Wiley, and asked if it was indeed $10 for all four. Her response, “Yes, but they are pretty beat up.” Perfect, I could afford $10 and if they did not work I could easily resell them.

After my four kids took a (much shorter than normal) nap, I piled them into the car. Armed with cash and great expectations, I pulled up to the house, knocked on the front door, and when the lady opened it I walked in and started up some friendly small talk. Why am I telling you this… turns out it was the wrong house. The bookshelves lived about ten homes further up the street. Next house please… The bookshelves were indeed pretty beat up, the woods was chipped in several place, generally scratched up and some water damage. Also, three of the four bookshelves were the same size and style, but the fourth was larger.

DING! The light bulb goes on… I could refurbish the three into one big unit. The fourth (which was actually in good condition) could go into our boys’ bedroom. SOLD!

My husband swung by on his way home from work and we loaded the four shelves into the back of our Suburban and the kids into his car.  I do believe he gave me a look that I was a little bit crazy. :0)

The Process…

Step #1: First, I combined three of the bookcases with screws. This would create a more cohesive look, improve stability and hide the broken panel on the side of two of the bookshelves.

Step #2: I nailed crown molding to the top, a baseboard to the bottom and the four strips of wood to cover the vertical seems. I also added trim to the side that was similar to the Hemnes style.

Step #3: The entire unit received several layers of paint. (I already had a gallon of paint in the garage. It is a “damaged” color from Home Depot – a white with a hint of grey.) It looks glossy in the picture, but is not.

I love the way they turned out. They are in our front room and have changed the whole space from a “Sitting Room” to a “Library.” Our whole family gathers in there regularly to read and listen to the piano.

Total Cost:

– Bookshelves – $7.50

– Trim Board – $40.00

– Paint – $0.00

– Smarter Children – Priceless.

Please share a link to your refurbished love!

An Ode to Board and Batten…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Craftsman, Home Design, Wood Work

I love board and batten! Our home would feel so nice with it running up the stairs and wrapping each room. I have wanted to install some fancy woodwork in our home, but I always thought you have to be a master craftsman to undertake such a huge project.

I have been really inspired with all the amazing work out there in blogland. So I have decided I want to give our little home a some character because it really wants to be a cottage, not a suburban cookie cutter.

The timeline for this project is not immediate… Hopefully sooner than later.

Here is an Ode to Beautiful Woodwork:



Principle of Design #3 – Emphasis

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Bathroom Design, Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

Emphasis in interior design is simply enhancing or creating a focal point in the room. A successful focal point immediately draws the eye to a specific point in the design. It does not have to be dynamic in pattern or bold in color because size, color, line, texture, woodwork and ornamental detail can all be used to attract attention.

Some natural focal points often found in a room include: a fireplace, a beautiful view, architectural details, artwork or a large piece of furniture (such as a bed or piano). Other objects in the room should compliment the primary focal point.

Getting Organized…

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home, Habits, Organizing

Lately, I have really been on an organizing kick. I do enjoy sorting, clearing-out, organizing and straightening the small spaces in my home. I love a quick reward and I can usually do a closet or pantry in very little time (from start to finish about an hour or less).

Also, I find it is so rewarding every time I open the door and see a neatly organized space. Last night I organized our master bedroom closet… I must admit that I made my husband come up and look at it (he was very kind).

My approach to cleaning and organizing is to begin by hauling everything out of the space… making a huge mess. (This probably helps me feel a little better about the final product.) I then sort items into similar groups… shoes, my clothing, my husband’s clothing, suit cases and bags, hats, ties, keepsake boxes…

Next, I sort these groups into four piles or trash bags:

    1. D.I. — Code for Get rid of It.

   2. Trash

   3. Fix It Up!

  4. I use it, I like it, I love it… KEEP PILE.

When I do this regularly, the first three piles/bags tend to be small. (When I first began learning how to organize I would set a goal to eliminate a certain percent… such as 50%.)

After I have cleared out the excess clutter, I begin placing items back in by similar groups. I try to put items that are used most frequently at or near eye level. I place heavy items near the floor and lighter items above my head (which is pretty much everything… :0). Also, I find it very helpful to keep items where I use them the most.

Organizing Tips

–Have multiple sets of scissors stored throughout your house wherever you use them frequently.

–I store our playdough in the dining room, where my children use it.

–Continually eliminate clutter.

–Do you have a shirt that always puts you in a bad mood because you don’t like the way it looks on you or feels. Get rid of it. (My husband had this problem with a shirt… every time he would wear he would come home totally depressed. The shirt no longer resides in our home…)

–When an items begins to become worn out either fix it, throw it away or sell it. I am amazed at what we have been able to sell through eBay and our Online classified. (I have also purchased several items other were ready to trash which I have loved.)

–If you love it – keep it.

–Use small bins, baskets or plastic tote boxes to organize small items such as belts, scarves, undergarment and socks.

–Hang purses and bags from large hooks so they don’t lose their shape.

–Use bins, shelving units, hooks, basket and rods to accommodate a variety of items.

–Group clothing by season, use and color.

–Store items that are used infrequently at the top or back of a closet.

–Invest in a cute pair of rain boots… all the really great closets seem to have them… :0).

Images from Real Simple, “31 Ways to Make Over Your Closets.”

Refinishing Details

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in DIY, FAQs, Furniture, Wood Work

I have had several people ask me about refinishing techniques… I will begin with a preface that I am just beginning this hobby so my technique may not be the best, and may change over time. However, I have been really pleased with the results.

Some of the frequently asked questions:

1. Where do you find your furniture?

Thus far I have been able to find some really nice stuff at our local thrift store (D. I.), through craigslist and our local newspaper’s online classified ads. Because my primary goal is to develop a hobby, I plan to resell most of the furniture after I refinish it. And because I do not want a houseful of desks… I try to find items that are inexpensive, sturdy and have a more classic design style.

2. Do you sand your furniture first?

I sand the furniture first if it has a major dents or scratches, or if their is a heavy varnish/polyurethane finish on top. For the varnish I just do a quick sanding with a 120 grit sandpaper on an electric sander to rough it up a little bit. For scratches I typically use a 80 or 60 grit sandpaper to create an even surface and then 120 grit to smooth the top layer.

3. Do you prime your furniture?

Yes, I use KILZ latex primer… it is really nice and thick and will evenly cover most light scratches or dings.

4. What paint do you use?
I love Behr brand paint… I have used in several of my home over the years and have been very pleased. For my furniture, I just buy the mistinted or damaged paints in a neutral, latex base. I typically buy the premium plus because it is usually the least expensive. I do finish my furniture with a polyurethane so I do not worry about the gloss-style.

5. What sand paper do you use to distress?

Either a 120 or 220 grit sand paper depending on what I have convenient and how distressed I want to make it. For distressing I try to mimic natural use patterns… where ever hands and feet commonly touch I distress (i.e. the ends of arm rest, top of chair back, near the “foot rests” at the bottom). Also, I lightly distress all the edges and corners. I have found that I really like to show the original and primed colors underneath so I with distress with varied pressure to bring out different colors.

6. Do you finish with a polyurethane?

Yes, I use a clear (not color or tint added) water-based Varathane polyurethane for interior wood. I choose water-based for ease in cleaning up.

7. Do you use spray paint, an air compressor, paint-brush or roller-brush?

I usually paint with a hand brush… although I have heard really great things about using an air compressor… Maybe someday.

I have used spray paint on some of my picture frames and smaller pieces… but I didn’t like the finish as well… probably I just applied it too heavily.

Principle of Design #2 – Rhythm

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Home Design, Principles and Elements of Design

The brick wall creates rhythm in this bedroom.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

In Interior Design, rhythm is the means through which the eye is drawn around the room. It creates harmony and unity in design. Successful rhythm will create expectation, anticipation and even surprise. Rhythm may be used to draw attention to the focal point in the room.

There are five ways to create rhythm:
1. Repetition and Alternation
Repetition is created through the multiple uses of white in this bedroom.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

Repetition establishes rhythm through repeated elements in the design. Repetition may be found in color, pattern, texture, line, architectural elements, lighting and furniture. An example of repetition can be found in a series of chairs lined up in a room.

Alternation is the sequence of two or more components creating a pattern which the eye can easily follow. An example of alternation would be a series of pillows in two coordinated prints creating a ABABAB pattern.

2. Progression
West Elm Modular Nesting Tables
(West Elm Modular Nesting Tables)

Progression is the use of shapes moving from large to small, or small to large (an example may be found in nesting tables). You can also create progression with colors gradating from dark to light or light to dark.

3. Transition
The strong lines of the exposed-beam ceiling draw the eye from one side of the room to the other.
(Image from Country Living, “Guest Bedroom Decor.”)

Transition leads the eye without interruption from one point to another. Some ways you can create this continuous line include: architectural elements such as crown molding and wainscoting, a carpet runner, or a painted wall.

4. Contrast
(Photograph from Joe Schmelzer)

Contrast or opposition is created by an abruptly changing, repetitive pattern. Some examples include: contrasting patterns (striped, plain, striped, plain); color (black, white, black, white); or varying forms (angular and circular).

5. Radiation
(Image of spiral staircase located at

Radiation is established through the use of concentric or spoke-like lines from a central point. Radial rhythm is often found in windows and floor patterns.

15 Minutes to a Clean Kitchen

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Clean Home, Habits, Kitchen Design, Kitchen Tips

(Image from House Beautiful, “California Kitchen.”)

I love a clean kitchen (including a well organized pantry). It is the room that for me most dictates my mood. If the kitchen is clean, the house is clean… or at least much less dirty. I try to spend 15 minutes each morning straightening the kitchen – right after my family finishes eating breakfast.

(Image from House Beautiful, “Cabinetry with Period Charm.”)

Here are the nine things I do to keep a tidy kitchen:
1. Fill sink or dishpan with hot soapy water. Place dishes into the water to begin soaking. While my dishes begin soaking, I quickly sweep the kitchen and dining area (typically, we only eat in these areas… so it is easy to locate dirty dishes). I place these dishes on the counter near the sink. Next, I wash the dishes by hand or load rinsed dishes into the dishwasher. (I grew up without a dishwasher, so I typically wash by hand… even though we have a dishwasher now.)

Now I need to pause here and comment on the importance of washing dishes, pots and pans just after using them… as soon as I finish frying eggs in a pan I begin soaking the frying pan, quickly rinse dishes as you cook, wash dishes after each meal… this saves me so much time.

2. Pick up trash from the table, countertops and floor… throw away.

3. Put away all items that go in the kitchen… In my kitchen, everything has a designated “homespot.” This helps me and my family keep an orderly kitchen because everyone knows where to put items away.

4. Place items that go into other areas in our home into a tote box, laundry bin or basket. These items will be redistributed later… the second I start putting things away in another area is the second I begin a new project so I try to focus on one task at a time.

5. Wipe down countertops, appliances and the backsplash. I have found it helpful to keep a spray bottle of vinegar and water (about a 1 to 3 ratio) to quickly spray down our oven vent and other areas that kitchen grime builds up.

6. Sweep or vacuum the floor. Spot clean as needed. About once a week I do a mop down of the floors… if my children are outside playing in the mud (like right now) then I will do it more frequently.

7. Take out the trash and reline with a trash bag… I don’t know why, but I always forget to put a bag back in the trash can. Also, frequently (once or twice a week) I will spray the trash can down with Lysol to kill off bacteria and odors.

8. “Sparkle the sink”… by spraying with a little bit of vinegar or window cleaner and wiping down any water spots. Run disposal as I clean the sink.

9. Redistribute items in my basket to their proper “homespots” throughout our home.

** This process takes only 15 minutes each day. If you feel this will take longer be sure to get your family involved. Have children scrape-off their dishes, clear their settings, wipe up spills and tuck in chairs. I have found that even at a very young age children can do an excellent job helping with proper instruction. My son who is six is responsible for taking out the trash whenever it is full; my son who is five sweeps under the table after meals with a little hand-broom; and my daughter who is four is responsible for wiping off the table.

** Also, because I don’t like to pick up scraps of papers, rocks, broken toys, sticks and other treasures my children have collected… if it is left out (and not in their “Keepsake Basket”) then I throw it away. I know it sounds mean, but it helps me know if it is important for them. If I think it might be important, then I will give a warning that any items left out will be thrown away shortly.

Vintage Desk – Before and After

Written by The Peaceful Cottage on . Posted in Before and After, Desks, DIY

When I saw this desk at a thrift store it reminded me of a desk my parents had when I was growing up. It has excellent craftsmanship, very sturdy and had been pretty well maintained. I thought it would be fun to update it a little bit.

I sanded it lightly to remove some surface scratches on the top and then painted it an off – white. The paint was “damaged” (there were a couple of drips on the side of the can) and discounted. So for 50% off, you do not get the name of the color… but I really like it.

I replaced the gold hardware with some nickel handles.

When it was all said and done, I kept trying to convince myself that I “need” a new desk… but I don’t so it has already been sold to a very kind lady.

I have linked up with some of the DIY and Before and After Parties going on out there…
Post image for DIY Day with My Design Guide