Thursday, October 20, 2016

Modern Pegboard DIY

Hi everyone!  I have a fun project to share with you, and I'm really excited with how it turned out.  The other day, I was looking through a Pottery Barn and came across this picture.  I thought that something like that would be perfect in my office above my storage cabinet, but didn't really want to spend over $80 on it.  I thought about DIYing it myself, and ended up changing the design a bit to create my own modern pegboard!

This project was really simple to make and only cost about $10 in materials, and I found it all at Jo-Ann's.  I made it in less than a day and I love how it turned out!  Here's what you need:

- 1 piece of craft plywood for the base (mine is 1' x 2')
- 1 piece of basswood for the shelves (mine is 1/4" x 3" x 24")
- 1 dowel rod (mine is 3/8" x 36")
- spray paint (if desired)
- chalkboard contact paper

And the tools that you'll need include:

- Drill
- Miter saw

And here's how to make it!

1.  Mark off your holes.  I left a large space at the top for my "chalkboard", and made a 3x3 grid.

2.  Using a drill and a bit that's the same size as your dowel, start drilling your holes!

I made sure that the dowel fit tightly after my first hole.  Perfect fit!

3.  Cover the empty space (I used magazines and painting tape), and take your project to a well-ventilated area to spray paint if you'd like.  You can also leave this natural if you don't want to spray paint and it will still look great.

4.  Spray that sucker!  Mine took two thin coats to cover perfectly.

5.  While that's drying, it's time to cut our dowels and shelves.  Measure your shelves to fit the width of the board, and your dowels to be the width of the shelf.  You can change these as you'd like, but I wanted a uniform shape.

6.  Cut all of the wood carefully with a miter saw.  I added painting tape so that the wood wouldn't splinter while I cut it.

7.  Once the board is completely dry, add your chalkboard paper.  Starting at one corner, spread the paper to get out any bumps and lumps.

8.  Decorate your chalkboard!  I used chalk pens and wrote an inspirational message to myself.  Add your dowel rods (it might be a bit tighter after spray painting, which is a good thing!)

9.  Hang your creation on the wall!  I used two Command Strips since the wood is so lightweight, but you could also screw this into a wall if your wood is heavier.  Add your shelves and decorate!

I added the fake succulents from my desk, along with a puzzle and some mini pumpkins.

I hope you liked this project!  Happy crafting :)

linking up with Amanda
post contains affiliate links

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Making a Work Space

Ever since I graduated from college, I've never had an actual desk.  Since I had one-bedroom apartments that were small (as in living room + kitchen + extra rooms!), there was never really any room for one.  For years, I've had to work from my dining room table or couch.

When we moved into our house and I saw there was an extra bedroom, I immediately knew that I was going to get a desk, finally!  I have a lot of fun ideas for this room, but for now I'm just happy to finally have a dedicated work space and my own desk.

This is a really small room, so  my first priority was having a desk that had some built-in storage.  I don't really like having drawers or cabinets, because I would just throw everything in there and it would get messy very fast.  This desk has two open shelves that are the perfect size for some magazines, office supplies, and books.

Beside my desk is an old cabinet that I got from Ikea.  This is a very slim and deep cabinet with three open drawers, and a large bottom drawer to hang folders.  We don't have a filing system yet, but this has done just fine for the past few years!

On top of that cabinet, I keep some magazines that I need to read, along with a letter organizer to store different types of envelopes.  The size of this worked perfectly, and now I don't have to search all over for a wrinkled up envelope!

I'm keeping the top of the desk mostly clear, and I absolutely love this desk organizer from Ikea.  It has a few different slots in the top, where I store my favorite pens and markers.  I also keep pretty coasters, scissors, and mini fake succulents in there.

Also on my desk is a glass box that I picked up at Jo-Ann's.  I use this as a memory box, and keep all of my tickets and boarding passes in here.  I used to have a smaller shadow box, but had to upgrade to this bigger one.  I might eventually paint the box, but for now I like how it looks with natural wood.

I haven't bought a dedicated desk chair yet, so for now we've been borrowing this one from the dining table.  It works for now, but that's next on my "to buy" list!  I love the location of the desk because it looks out over a cherry blossom tree that looks beautiful even when it's not in bloom.  The window also doesn't get direct sunlight, so I can always keep the blinds open!

I still have some work to do in this room, but for now I'm happy with how it's coming together.  Still on my list of projects is to paint the room (hopefully with a fun design or mural) and add storage.     

Sources (contains affiliate links- thank you for your support!)
Desk - Target
Cabinet - Ikea
Chair - Ikea (reupholstered with fabric from Jo-Ann)
Desk Organizer - Ikea
Markers - Tombow
Pens - Papermate
Plants - Marshalls (similar here)
Shadow Box - Jo-Ann

Do you have dedicated work space?
Fake plants- yay or nay?
What magazines do you subscribe to?

linking up with Amanda

Monday, October 10, 2016

Building a Shed : The Foundation

Hi everyone!  Long time, no talk.  There's been so many projects going on at the Gretch House, that it's been work work work and no time to share it all!  I'm excited to start sharing what we've been doing and getting back to blogging here.  I hope you're ready!

Dan and I just finished our biggest project yet- building a shed in our back yard.  Ever since we moved in to our house, we've been using our garage as storage (AKA throwing everything in there since there's no racks or peg boards).  This is fine in the summer, but winter will be here before we know it and we're going to want to use the garage for our car!

Here's a look at what the garage looked like before to give you an idea of the mess we were dealing with:

Now can you see why we needed some extra storage?!

This was a pretty big project that took a few weekends to complete.  The first step of the project (after, of course, calling 811 to get all of our utilities marked) was to build a foundation for the shed.  This was definitely the hardest and most time-consuming part, but luckily we had my parents help so we got it done in one day.

The first thing that we did was decide where the shed was going to be.  We picked a spot at the bottom of our yard, where it's shady and somewhat flat.  Our yard is really hilly, so finding a spot that wasn't really steep was really tough!  You'll see how we compensated for this and made the shed level later on in the project.

To get started, we used wood posts and string to create a square grid.  We tied string between the posts, and the intersections were marked with chalk.  This helped us make sure that the shed would be square, and that the posts were evenly placed around the foundation.

Once we had our spots marked with yard chalk, we started to dig the holes.  We tried to do this by hand at first, and quickly realized that would take hours or be impossible.  A quick trip to Home Depot and we were able to rent an auger to make the job much easier.  Here's what the tool looks like without the extension added on:

Using the auger, we were able to drill down below the frost line (which is about 36 inches in Pennsylvania) for all six holes.  

Next, we filled the holes with a few inches of gravel, then a few more inches of concrete.  You're supposed to let the concrete cure for a few days, but we skipped ahead and put in our 4x4 posts right on the concrete footers.

We placed the posts into the holes, and used a level to make sure the posts were straight.  Then, we filled in the rest of the hole with cement and topped with soil.

We let the concrete cure for a full week before starting on the deck and floor for the shed.  I'll talk about that next!

(P.S. We used this helpful video by Lowe's as the basis for building our shed's foundation.  We used the technique that they for a frost-proof foundation.)

Do you have a shed?
How do you keep all of your tools organized?  I need help with this!

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

Hi everyone!  Today I'm going to be joining in one of my favorite linkups to show and tell you about some of my favorite things.  The theme for today is "Three Things I Couldn't Live Without", and I took that to mean the three things I would reach for first if there was a fire (after, of course, making sure that Dan and Selma were ok!)

After sharing my favorite / most meaningful possessions, I thought it would also be fun to share my three favorite decorative pieces.  Things that definitely aren't necessary, but make me smile every time I see them!  I would consider these to be my favorite purchases, and thought it would be fun to share!  So- first the sappy, then the fun stuff.  Let's go!

Most Meaningful Things

Notebooks and Postcards

Dan and I both like to travel a lot, but we never get souvenirs during our trips.  Instead, I bring a travel journal to every country we visit and keep track of everything we do.  I started doing this on my first trip out of the country right after I graduated from college.  I was traveling with my roommate and her brother, and both of them kept journals.  I bought one right away at a little store in Grenada, and it's traveled around with me ever since!  

I also pick up post cards in each new city we visit, and those mean so much to me!  I love flipping through them and remembering past trips.


My wedding ring and engagement ring both mean a lot to me, so that would definitely be one of my favorite possessions!  Hopefully they will both be on my finger in case of a fire, so I don't have to worry about grabbing them before running out :)

Before Dan proposed, we never really talked about getting married or what style of ring I liked.  It always seemed inevitable to both of us that we would eventually get married, so I never pressured him to propose or thought of a timeline.  One day out of the blue, he showed me a few pictures of rings on his computer just to see what styles that I liked, and out of the ten he showed me I was immediately drawn to one particular style.  Little did I know, he bought that exact ring the day before, and just wanted to make sure I would like it!  A few months later he proposed (you can read that story here).

I love the ring so much, not only because I think it's beautiful, but also because every time I look at it or feel it, I think of Dan and our amazing wedding!


I started playing the violin in second grade, and switched to the saxophone in high school.  Music has always been a huge part of my life, and in college it changed my life.  I joined the Blue Band at Penn State, and made life-long friends, learned important leadership skills, went on amazing trips for football games, and met Dan!  I still have the same saxophone that my parents got me as a Christmas present back in high school and love to play it.  Any time that I'm having a bad day or just need to relax, I always go back to the sax and play some music.  It was the best gift that I've ever received and is still one of my most prized possessions!  

Decorative Faves

Fish Vase

Fun fact: I love animal decorations.  So, when I saw a vase that was shaped like a fish, I knew I had to get it.  I found this a few years ago on Hautelook for super cheap, and I've had it in all of my apartments ever since!  I just add fake flowers to it, and seeing it always makes me happy.

Skogsta Bench

I only bought this bench a few weeks ago, but I absolutely love it!  The style is so simple, but it's such a great basic piece to have.  There are so many uses for the bench, so for our little house it's a great thing to have around!  We can use it as extra seats for dinner, or as a table when we're sitting on the couch.  It's great quality from Ikea and I highly recommend it!

Brass Owl

I told you I liked animal decorations (p.s. did you notice my ring holder?  It's an it!)!  I don't even remember where I picked this guy up (I think it was at Marshall's or Home Goods) but I love it!  I've had it for a while now, and it always seems to fit right in no matter where I have it.

What are some of your most meaningful possessions?
What piece makes you smile in your home?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Kitchen Update : Little Changes

Sometimes, making a small change can make a big impact.  As most people know, kitchens are usually considered the most expensive renovation in a house!  Adding up the cost of appliances, counters, cabinets, flooring, can really add up quickly.

Since a kitchen renovation isn't really in our budget right now, I've been making small changes that are making a big difference.  While these haven't been free upgrades, I've spent around $125 and about an afternoon making these improvements!  I think that they've made a big difference in our kitchen, and make it feel more like it's our style.

Clean - $0 - 2 hour

This might not be as fun as going shopping and making visual changes, but cleaning can make a huge impact on a space!  When we moved in, the cabinets were pretty grimy and dingy, the white floors (btw- NEVER get white floors in a kitchen!) were dirty, and the appliances looked used.  I spent a few hours cleaning everything and it made such a big change!

On the cabinets, I used a basic cleaning spray, and thoroughly cleaned the inside and outside.  I also took out all of the shelves (this is easiest when you first move in and don't put anything inside yet) and used a shopvac to get out any crumbs.

I love using CLR to clean appliances.  I used some to clean the inside of the dishwasher, as well as all of the stainless steel.  It made everything look so shiny and almost new when I was done!

When I got my first apartment, one of my first purchases was a basic Swiffer.  I use both dry and wet cloths all the time and love how simple they are to use.  I don't think the fancy models are necessary- basic works just fine for me!

Changing cabinet hardware - $56 - 1 hour

While I didn't hate the knobs that came with the kitchen, there were some big problems with them.  Not only were some knobs missing, but others were loose and would occasionally fall off when I would open a drawer.  Not the look I'm going for!

The house came with these basic silver knobs.  

I feel like this changes the look completely!  I love the modern black knobs!

This was another easy fix to make.  I found knobs that I liked at Target in a multi-pack, and spent an hour removing the old knobs and replacing them with the new ones.  This was really easy, and all you need is a screw driver!  When I had all of the knobs off, I spent time to clean the cabinets again (to get that space under the knob, which was pretty gross!).

I couldn't believe how much this changed the look of the kitchen!  I absolutely love the look of the new knobs, and didn't have to use any power tools or put in much work at all.

Accessorize - $70 - 15 minutes

Finally, an easy way to change up the look of a kitchen is to add in some accessories and inject your own style.  Since I spend a lot of time cooking (and then washing dishes), I wanted a comfortable rug to stand on.  I found this one at Target, and loved the flowery design that matched perfectly with the white walls.  

I didn't go too crazy with decorating, since I don't have a lot of counter space, and wanted space to actually prep food!  I bought canister jars at Marshalls to hold some dry ingredients (I use it for flour, sugar, rice and salt).  These were really cheap, and came in less than $15 total!  You can find similar ones on Amazon, but I would recommend checking out Marshalls or Homegoods first. 

Behind the jars, I layered a marble slab that I use for serving food.  I picked this one up at Target a while ago, and loved that I'm able to display it now!  I re-used a few other decorations that I had lying around, like a bud vase and fake flowers to brighten up the room a bit.

Beside that, you can see the spice racks that I got from Ikea.  This was a DIY project to match them with the rest of my decor, and now I love how they look.  I'm thinking about eventually mounting these to the wall, but for now they work fine resting on the counter.

Here's a before and after of the kitchen.  It still looks pretty similar, but I think these small changes made it look a lot better.  What do you think?

There are a few other projects that I want to do to the kitchen, but for now I love how it's looking! It's easy to make a few small changes that make a big impact on the room.  Here is my progress from my original kitchen plans post!

- Install under-cabinet lights : This is something that Dan requested, so I'll be adding these ASAP!

- Replace cabinet knobs

- Replace faucet : This is another quick and easy way to change up the look of a kitchen!

- Add back splash :  Right now there's no back splash in the kitchen, so I would love to add some.  I'm still deciding on the style and type that I want, so this won't happen right away!

- Organize

- Add some greenery : I have plans on adding in some more, and I can't wait to see how this turns out!

- Change lighting : This isn't something that was originally on my list, but I really want to replace the lights in the kitchen.  I liked them at first, but now that I'm making upgrades I'm not feeling them. 

post contains affiliate links linking up with Amanda

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Recent Ikea Finds

Hi everyone!  This weekend, I went to one of my favorite places- Ikea.  Some people hate it, but I absolutely love it.  Looking through model rooms, getting design inspiration, and browsing row upon row of Swedish furniture- what could be better?!

Life pro tip- go on Sunday a few minutes before they open.  The parking lot was empty, and there were only a few people waiting to go in!  While you're waiting, you can grab something from the cafe, or get an Ikea Family card, which gives you deals and specials on random products, as well as free food!

I came equipped with a list of things that I wanted to buy, and miraculously stuck to it.  Here's what I picked up, along with some "Ikea Hacks" for some of the items.

Skogsta Bench  $69

The main item that I wanted to get was this bench.  If you remember from my living room tour, there's a wall near the front door that's pretty small and awkward.  I wanted something that would fit the width of the wall, and clear the vent. 

Luckily, this bench was the perfect size!  The wood feels really solid, and I love the color variation.  I'm thinking of adding a cushion to the bench to make it more comfortable, but for now I just added some pillows.  (I got these pillows a few years ago from Ikea as well, and they've held up really well!)

Bekvam Spice Rack  $3.99

One of my kitchen projects was to add a spice rack.  I like how simple (and cheap) this one is from Ikea, and I was inspired to "hack" it.  If you search online for spice rack hacks, you'll find everything from a book shelf to a clothing rack.  It's kind of making me want to buy a few more!  

For my own hack, I painted the sides and rail white, then used marble contact paper on the bottom.  It's still pretty simple, but I think this simple change made it look more finished.  I'm thinking about anchoring this to the wall eventually (maybe after I apply back-splash), but for now they fit perfectly on the counter!  To go along with the rack, I got these simple spice jars at the same time.

Fintorp Rail x Hook x Utensil Holder x Condiment Stand  $3.99 - $16.99

I can't wait to get these hung up start my herb garden!  I'm planning on it looking like the picture above, and I'll definitely share how it looks once I'm done.  I was pleasantly surprised by how high-quality the rail and buckets are, with some drainage in the bottom of the containers.  I also like the fact that the containers match my cabinets perfectly!

What is your favorite Ikea find?
Ikea lover or hater?
What's your favorite place to shop for home goods?

Monday, July 25, 2016

Progress Report : Coffee Bar

Hi everyone!  I'm excited to share some progress that I made in my house now that all of my room tours are over.

Back when I shared my eat-in kitchen plans, one of the projects I was most excited about was making a coffee bar.  I love drinking coffee, and since the kitchen area isn't very big I wanted a dedicated spot for my coffee mugs and coffee maker.  This is what I ended up with:

I decided to put the coffee bar in the eat-in area of the kitchen, in the corner near the living room.  It was the perfect space to fit an Ikea kitchen cart that I already owned, so I was happy to up-cycle some furniture instead of having to buy or build a new one!

This is what the cart looks like when you buy it from Ikea.  Great blank canvas!

The cart is actually a hand-me-down from my college roommate, and it comes in Ikea's standard unfinished birch wood.  At my first apartment, I painted the entire unit white with a greyscale pop-art mural on the top, and used it as a storage cart in my closet.  At my second apartment, the painting was still lasting really well, and I used it in the kitchen as a microwave stand and storage.

The original "coffee bar" that I set up when we moved!  Did the job, but not share-worthy

The first thing that I did to give the cart a new life was sand off the mural and cover it in marble contact paper.  The paper went down surprisingly smoothly, and I was able to smooth out any air bubbles or wrinkles with no issues.  I also sanded the sides so it had a nice, smooth edge.

"Marble" top!  It actually fools most people that come and see it in person!

Next, I added some shelves above the cart.  I got lucky and found wall-mounted shelves at Lowe's that were the exact width of the cart, and was able to easily hang them overhead.  I love how simple the shelves are, without any brackets or decorations, so the attention is really on the "marble" top! I use these to hold my mug collection, coffee, and some straws.

coffee bar with open shelving

I decided to splurge on a Nespresso machine to finish off the bar (you can't really have a coffee bar without the coffee, right?).  I picked the up Evoluo during a sale at Sur La Table, and I'm SO in love with it.  It makes incredible coffee, and I love the sleek, modern design.  The bundle I got also came with the Aeroccino, which heats and froths milk.  Other accessories that I picked up are mugs, espresso set, and capsule column

DIY coffee cart

I love how small but functional the coffee bar is.  It doesn't take up much space, but thanks to the storage in the cart and the shelves that I added, I don't need any more space!  Every time I see this corner of the kitchen, which is the first space that feels "finished", it makes me smile.  With the bright colors of the flowers, the mugs that are from places that I travel, and CAFFEINE- what's not to love?

Ikea BEKVÄM Kitchen cart coffee bar hack

And since everyone loves a before and after picture, let's see how far we'e come:

Source List:

Coffee or tea?
What are some of your favorite Ikea Hacks?
What was the first "room" you completed in your house?
post contains affiliate links.  this is not sponsored at all (in my dreams!)