Animal Alphabet Band Inspired Nursery


Rabbit Rabbit ūüôā Happy June! It’s baby girl Pritchett’s birth month!¬†We are so excited as we¬†prepare for her arrival. I thought I’d go ahead and give you a tour of¬†the nursery and how it came to be before she comes home.

When we moved in, this room was designated as “my” room where I could keep all of my treasures, out-of-season clothes, and craft supplies (basically, the things all girls “need”¬†but don’t want to give up after moving in with a boy). We also put a sleeper sofa in here¬†so it could be used as a guest room.¬†Because of this purpose, we did not paint or put much effort into it (even kept the drab curtains that came with the house).

Guest Room Guest Room Guest Room Guest RoomAfter finding out that our family was going to be expanding, I knew that meant it was time to purge! Luckily, one of my most prominent pregnancy symptoms has been nesting, which makes it less of a chore to pack up and organize (especially while listening to the Serial!).

All of the things

After the purge was done, we had a blank slate! Choosing a theme for a room is hard! Especially when doing it for someone you have not even met! And executing a theme is even harder. We Googled, Houzzed, Pinterested, Apartment Therapied, and Project Nurseried. Finally we asked ourselves¬†“what do we both like? what is our common bond?” and landed on an idea of an animals-playing-music themed nursery. So back to Google, Houzz, Pinterest, Apartment Therapy, and Project Nursery. Still nothing really spoke to me. My mom suggested finding a textile or print that could get our wheels turning. Then l remembered Spoonflower – ¬†a Durham-based ecommerce site that prints fabrics designed by individual artists. That is where I found our inspiration for baby girl’s nursery: Musical Animal Alphabet¬†featuring a cheetah playing a cello, a sloth playing a sax, a fox playing a flute¬†– you get the picture.

Animal Alphabet Band

Now, what to make with this fabric? Sure, I’m a College of Textiles grad, but I did not want to spend a lot of money or time on a DIY project. I decided to make box window valances as an accent and go from there in terms of decorating. My parents came over to help me make them. We used leftover wood remnants from our mudroom renovation, some corner brackets, batting, and a staple gun to assemble the valances.

Window Valance DIY Window Valance

We installed the tie-backs with coordinating double curtain rods to allow for both sheers and black-out curtains. The trickiest part of the DIY window cornice was figuring out how to attach it to the wall. We ended up using L-brackets and setting the 4-sided cornice on top, securing it with a couple of screws. The curtains came from Kohl’s.


I felt more confident about moving forward with choosing a paint color after nailing down the theme. Several paint samples later, we selected Sweet Leaf by Valspar. My dad used his power painter to get it done in no time!

Transition Transition TransitionAll of this painting and crafting in the nursery was happening simultaneously with our office renovation!

Once the paint was dry, the furniture could finally be put into place! Below is the obligatory photo of dad-to-be assembling the crib.

CribAnd voila! Baby girl’s room is ready for her!


3 Sprouts Laundry Hamper, Swan
Ubbi Diaper Pail, Gray
Keekaroo Peanut Changer, Sable
Maternity Photos by Azul PhotographyNursery

Rocker – No link available! Ben’s parents reupholstered his¬†25 year old La-Z-Boy recliner as a gift to us and baby girl. The fabric is Richloom Studio Home Decor Fabric in Haskett Charcoal from Jo-Ann Fabric. A La-Z-Boy’s comfort is truly everlasting, and this¬†one rocks and reclines. Priceless! The chair is draped with a blanket made by my mother-in-law featuring a beautiful cross-stitched design.
Sundvik Crib from Ikea
Deer Silhouette and Wolf Howling with Music Sheets РInstant Etsy Download
Office Window Covering in Bass Clef Fabric from Spoonflower

NurseryLamp – hand-me-down from my aunt
Knit blanket handmade by a sweet friend for a shower gift
Manhattan Toy Crib Mobile¬†(recommended by Lucie’s List)
Posey Canvas Crib Skirt from DwellStudio
(My Boppy and hospital bag are ready to go!)

NurseryShelf handpainted by my grandmother – I have to have a place to put trinkets and knickknacks.
NurseryCabinet from Shelton’s Furniture
Bicycle from Ross
Baskets from Marshalls
NurseryKeno Guitar Rug from RugsUSA

NurseryNow, if she could just here soon so that she could start enjoying it! I hope she likes it as much as I do ūüôā


Sunny Office Space

home office

Within the past couple of months, we’ve done some rearranging of rooms in the house. Mainly¬†due to our impending family expansion (baby on the way!), but also because, like with any project, one thing leads to another. Our home office is now in our sun room, which was previously underutilized. The guest room was moved into the old office and the nursery is now in the old guest room! The home office transformation was the most significant (and challenging)¬†renovation.

The project started because the sun room did not even have electricity hooked up to it, so in hopes of actually using the space, Ben and his dad installed properly functioning outlets. Unfortunately, the previous electrical work had been done so haphazardly, our walls were left beyond repair.

Sun room before

Sun roomThat’s when we decided it was time for a whole new sun room, from top to bottom! We thought that the 8′ x 12′ room would be the perfect amount of space for our office. (Plus, it is not a very effective sun room – it faces west.) At 6 months pregnant, most doctors recommend against amateur construction work which left Ben doing most of the work on his own on nights and weekends, starting with installing the beadboard. Bless!

Beadboard installationWe did call in support and my dad came over to help a few of the nights.

Dad and Ben installing beadboard

After the beadboard was installed, Ben started on the floor. Since the room does not have heat or air conditioning, he laid down a heated floor system before tiling. Hopefully this will keep the space comfortable during the winter months.

Heated Floor

When putting floor on top of a heating element, it is important to be careful not to nick any of the wiring, or the whole heated floor idea will be a loss.


Next, it was time to paint! There is no one I know who feigns enjoyment by painting more than my dad. Or maybe he actually likes painting.

Dad Painting

The last step before moving the furniture in was to grout the tile. There comes a point in every project when you have to ask yourself “how much is my time worth?”. As we were nearing the very end of this renovation and approaching our deadline (my friends were going to be hosting my baby shower at the house), the answer was “a lot”, so we hired grouters to come in one random weekday and they finished the job in less than 2 hours!

GroutWe had extra material in the basement to use for our chair rail and other finishing touches. Finally, move-in day!

Home Office

Below are before and after shots. The before shot (sorry it is blurry!) was taken when we first bought our house.

Before After

I’ve been working¬†remotely¬†full time for over a year now and Ben works from home occasionally, so having a home office that is separate from my regular living space is important. Like many of us, my job requires me to be at a computer the majority of the day (which probably explains my lack of personal blogging after hours!). As much as I love¬†my job on its own, the space in which I spend 40+ hours a week needs to be inspiring and motivating¬†as well.

Outdoor Space Renovation

You may recall that one of my core values is outdoor seating.¬†This definitely came into play when we were house hunting back in 2012 and also when it came time to prioritize house projects. ¬†Since closing on our dream home-to-be two years ago, we’ve dedicated a lot of time, elbow grease, sweat, and dirt (lots of dirt) to making over the backyard. ¬†And now it’s finally at a point where we can just live and enjoy our outdoor space! No more rotting ¬†wood, “Descend at Your Own Risk” signs, temporary fences, leaky ceilings, plywood safety barriers, or dimly lit pathways.

For the final part of our outdoor space renovation, we forwent the DIY route and hired a construction company to demolish and rebuild our mudroom. The company also put up safety rails for the back steps and around the basement stairwell.

The photo on the left was taken in January or February of 2013 around the time that we were moving in. On the right is our finished product!
The photo on the left was taken in January or February of 2013 around the time that we were moving in. On the right is our finished product!
In the spring of 2013, we got around to installing new locks. The photo on the left is the only proof I have of the interior of our former mudroom. On the right is our sparkling new mudroom! (I don't even want to get mud in it!)
The photo on the left, taken in the spring of 2013, is the only proof I have of the interior of our former mudroom. On the right is our sparkling new mudroom! (I don’t even want to get mud in it!)
The left photo is present day. The top right photo was taken on a Saturday morning in February 2014. The bottom right photo was taken the next day.
The left photo is from February 2015. The top right photo was taken on a Saturday morning in February 2014. The bottom right photo was taken the next day.
After we finished the patio in June 2014, I took the photo on the left. The one on the right is the finished product...missing some green, but that will come soon enough!
After we finished the patio in June 2014, I took the photo on the left. The one on the right is the finished product…missing some green, but that will come soon enough!
Another before and after between spring 2014 and winter 2015!
Another before and after between spring 2014 and winter 2015!
No more rigging up safety barriers for the entrance to the basement. Now toddlers, drunk people, the elderly, and perfectly healthy adults won't risk their lives while on our premises.
No more rigging up safety barriers for the entrance to the basement. Now toddlers, drunk people, the elderly, and perfectly healthy adults won’t risk their lives while on our premises.

The only thing we need now is consistent springlike weather!

Patio in a Day

A couple of months ago, I posted here about building our first patio. I said that I couldn’t wait to complete our second patio in the next couple of weeks. Ha.

Fast forward 3 months and here we are with a new patio! Not just a walkway like the last one, but a real 160 square foot patio that we can use to enjoy the beautiful North Carolina summers (and falls and winters and springs ūüôā )!

Before and After DIY Patio
Top photo: Before, Bottom photo: After!

I figured this patio would not be that difficult to complete. Our first one required digging (my least favorite thing to do, as you may recall) and cutting stones. This time around, since we were placing the material on top of the old driveway, there was no need for digging. Plus, the perfect rectangular shape made it seem easy to lay bricks evenly. Just dump some sand in place and lay the bricks on top, right?

My optimistic outlook quickly faded as we began the process of making calculations and planning out the bill of materials. Like any seasoned DIYer knows, the prep work is the most time consuming phase of most home improvement projects! This one proved to be no different and came with its own set of roadblocks.


  • Where will the patio begin? Where will it end? The driveway made an excellent barrier from side-to-side, but there are no end caps from front-to-back.¬†Acquiring a 70-year-old house¬†means acquiring backyard treasures. Over the past year, we had built up quite a collection of found bricks from the yard. Even though we had lamented the seemingly endless¬†pile of red bricks, it actually turned out to come in handy for this project! Ben built a short brick¬†retaining wall on each end of the area for our patio space. He acquired a skill for brick laying when beginning¬†to build a wall on each side of our back porch stoop (a¬†project that is still in progress).
DIY Brick Retaining Wall
Adding the finishing touches to the brick retaining wall
  • The depth of the area we were using is only about 5 inches. A stable patio requires at least 6 inches of clearance for paver base, sand, and paver stones.¬†Instead of using paver base gravel, we came across Brock Paver Base Panels. We had considered using these panels for the first patio project, but the paver base gravel made more sense for use with natural dirt and the 6″ depth we had created. Plus, we would have needed to trim the panels significantly which would have caused a lot of waste.¬†Because our baseline was concrete from the driveway and we had a small amount of depth to work with for this new patio, the half-inch panels were the perfect stabilizing solution. The panels are quite expensive – about $13 for one panel that is 2′ x 3′. The packaging says that each¬†is equivalent to 5 bags of base gravel. We definitely overestimated and purchased 34 panels yet only needed 20. And we¬†did have to cut a few in half, but all-in-all we are thinking it was a good investment!
DIY Paver Base Panels
Dad laying stones on top of paver base panels
  • The drain pipe off the side of our mud room empties right on top of the driveway where we wanted to build. ¬†Mo’ water, mo’ problems.¬†Y’all have read about our drainage problems before so it should not be a surprise that it¬†came into consideration when planning for this patio. After spending 2 hours in Lowe’s to no avail and consulting with both dads, a solution finally came to¬†fruition. By attaching a catch basin to the drain pipe with a metal screw and connecting it to line of PVC pipe that is buried underneath the patio, water will¬†not drain onto the paver stones. There is already a¬†nice¬†slope to the patio, so rain water will hopefully flow nicely down the driveway, but we didn’t¬†want extra drainage water to damage¬†the patio. My dad also suggested¬†a clever way to clean this 20′ PVC drain pipe: we ran a string through the pipe to catch the muck and grime that we can replace from time to time.
PVC pipe drainage
This photo shows an incomplete PVC pipe connected to the drain pipe. It has since been completely attached.
PVC pipe
PVC pipe will drain water from drain pipe.

After we dealt with these conundrums, the actual patio building part only took one day! Of course, the title of this post¬†is still slightly misleading. What with one whole day spent demolishing the deck that had been in its place, another day (or two) clearing out all of the debris, and a day dedicated to Ben’s brick laying shenanigans. But overall, because we learned a lot from our first project and had a few extra hours of daylight, this patio was a cinch in one day. Extra thanks¬†to my dad who spent the first day of his retirement doing manual labor!


  • Lowe’s delivery service saved us about 8-10 hours of time. We shelled out $59 for 3 pallets of material to be dropped off right in our driveway. Totally worth it!
Lowe's Delivery
Lowe’s Delivery
  • Unlike my initial anticipation, we did need to cut paver stones to fit the area properly. Instead of using the ol’ chisel and hammer, we invested in a circular saw and stone cutting blade. In about 2 hours, all of the missing puzzle pieces were perfectly trimmed and installed.
Circular stone cutting saw
The circular saw was an unexpected, yet time-saving cost!
Cut Paver stones
Perfectly cut paver stones!

Now that we have the perfect spot to enjoy our backyard, I think we’ll take this summer to sit back and relax!

DIY stone patio
Before and After!


Installing Our (First) Patio

Stone Patio Step 9

This past weekend we were so incredibly lucky to have two consecutive days of perfect patio-building weather. As you know, it has been hit or miss with NC weather this winter. Mainly misses. Today it is back to a winter advisory alert! Why does it always seem I preface home improvement blog posts with a weather report?

When the weather is just right, January, February, and March lend the perfect timing for outdoor improvements because I want to be able to enjoy the space come spring! This year, we are thrilled to move forward with improving the area between the parking pad and back door. We had seriously considered installing a deck, but ultimately (and happily) settled on building a patio instead.

Here’s a reminder of what the backyard looked like when we first purchased the house in January 2013:

Backyard in January 2013

Thankfully, last January and February were extremely rainy and icky. You may be thinking “thankfully?! I thought you loved gorgeous no-cloud-in-the-sky seasons all year round?”. I am thankful because were able to quickly determine that we had major drainage issues! Which I am even more relieved to have figured out a year ago because we immediately installed French drains¬†directly underneath where we built our patio this weekend.

Drainage is key for any homeowner. I strongly advise anyone who wants to construct outdoor amenities to first ensure that storm water is being properly drained. </psa>

Drainage improvements

Ok, now to the fun part of actually putting in the patio.

The first step to installing a patio with pavers is to Google “how to build a paver patio”. ūüôā

There are so many great resources out there between YouTube and DIYnetwork, but we went with the instructions. Ben and I took measurements and sketched out the schematic. Then we chose our patio paver style and went with allen + roth Allegheny Concrete Countryside Patio Stones. Since we wanted to mix things up, we bought both the 6×9 size¬†and the 6×6 size. Picking out the stones really isn’t as difficult as it seems. There are so many options, but I would suggest to anyone to just go with your gut!

To determine how many stones needed, most normal people would continue to Google “patio paver calculator” or something of that nature. Ben used his freakish brain to calculate that we needed 166 bricks of each size to cover the approximate 100 square foot area of patio. After a quick fact-check, we were ready to go.

Once we were in the Lowe’s store, figuring out how much we needed of everything else was easy thanks to helpful packaging and Lowe’s employees! Here’s a breakdown of everything we purchased during our first trip to Lowe’s…

  • 200 6×6 paver stones @ $.79 each
  • 200 6×9 paver stones @ $.99 each
  • 400-sq-ft roll landscape fabric @ $40
  • 50 bags .5 cu ft paver base @ $3.80 each
  • 6 bags .5 cu ft paver sand @ $3.97 each
  • 2 40-lb buckets of¬†polymeric sand¬†@ $19.98 each
  • 10 6-ft paver edges @ $6.27 each
  • 5 8-packs of¬†paver edge nails @ $4.28 each

After carting (and fork-lifting) everything up to the register, the tricky part was actually loading it into an accommodating vehicle to transport it all home! Luckily my father-in-law has a heavy-duty truck that was able to haul it away. But it was definitely put to the test what with 2,000 lbs of paver base in the bed! I think we’ll give his truck a rest next time and pay the $79 delivery fee.

If you are planning on building your own patio as well, consider the tools you will or may need, including:

  • Various shovels
  • Work gloves
  • Garden rake
  • 3 prong rake
  • Scissors
  • Garden clippers for unruly roots
  • Shop broom
  • Tamp
  • Rubber mallets
  • Level and Square
  • Hacksaw for trimming the edging
  • Hammer
  • Chisel
  • Carpenter pencil
  • Wheel barrow
  • 2×4 for screeding and spacing
  • Spotlight for working after sundown
  • Willing and able family members
  • Elbow grease
  • Pizza
Told ya! It was a beautiful day for patio-building!
Told ya! It was a beautiful day for patio-building!

Once everything made it back to the house in one piece (including the truck), it was time to start digging out the patio area.

Digging is one of the most strenuous chores in my opinion. I have hauled more dirt in the last year than I care to disclose. Moving dirt (and clay!) is hard because there is no way of disposing of it and there are only so many bald spots in our yard to fill in! We did discover some buried treasures such as remnants of a fish tank (don’t worry, the fish found a safe new home last year). Since there had been a few paver stones lying around, there was also some leftover gravel we dug up that we were able to recycle when putting down the base. The section had to have enough room for about 4 inches of paver base + 1 inch sand + 2 inch thick brick. As I said before, drainage is very important, so we were mindful of our French drain while digging as well as the general grading of the area.

Patio Building Step 1: Dig out area

Laying down the Landscaping Fabric

Laying down the Landscaping Fabric
Evenly raking the Paver Base + Recycled Gravel
Evenly raking the Paver Base + Recycled Gravel
Tamping down the base
Tamping down the base
Checking the measurement and level of base
Checking the measurement and level of base

It was around this point when we had to call Ben’s parents and ask them to pick up more gravel on their way over. Better to over estimate in this type of situation.

Installing plastic edging
Installing plastic edging
Spreading sand over the base
Spreading sand over the base
Evening top layer of sand while laying bricks and setting them with a rubber mallet
Screeding top layer of sand while laying bricks and setting them with a rubber mallet

When it got down to the pattern of our patio, we kind of flew by the seat of our pants. The plan was to create a border around the patio and fill it in with a running bond. The 4-ft area outside of the fence was left up to chance.

Our patio design involved curved areas, so bricks had to be split. Sometimes they were split nicely...sometimes not so much!

Our patio design involved curved areas, so bricks had to be split. Sometimes they were split nicely…sometimes not so much! But we got creative with placement of the scraps. We learned to save the split bricks for last to see where the gaps occurred along the edge.

Yet again, another Lowe’s run had to be made. We actually ran out of bricks! Ben and his dad picked up 60 more bricks of each size. Once the bricks were all filled in, our parental workers clocked out for the day and the sun went down. Ben had anticipated working into the night and bought a spotlight. It only took about 20 minutes to figure out how to set it up, but without it, our work wouldn’t have been complete by day’s end.

Working into the night!

Meticulously spreading the polymeric sand into the crevices.
Meticulously spreading the polymeric sand into the crevices.

The polymeric sand stains the paver bricks, so we were very careful spreading the sand by hand into the nooks and crannies.

Giving it a final misting.
Giving it a final misting.

Patio 15And voila! The patio is all set in time for spring…err…more winter weather!

Top: January 2013, Bottom: March 2014
Top: January 2013, Bottom: March 2014

Patio 17

Patio 18Finally, we can get to our back door without worrying about icky mud, slippery bricks, and uneven ground. We’re very happy with how our DIY walkway worked out, and can’t wait to build our SECOND patio in the next couple weeks! In the meantime, I’ll also be busy sprucing up the landscaping surrounding this walkway.