How to Turn A Mid Century Dresser into a Bathroom Vanity

And other remodeling adventures…

Ali here, folks!

We are on the tail end of our second remodel.  The first, a mountain cabin by Donner Lake (that we still, 3 years later, have a punch list of about 100 items on, but that you can rent HERE on airbnb if you need a mountain getaway) and the second, a Southern California ranch house, originally built in 1959 and nestled into the coastal suburb of Point Loma (of which we intended on “updating” not completely remodeling). 

As elitist as all this sounds, the only way we are even able to buy a home in either of those places is by picking a ‘fixer upper’ and then ‘fixing it up’ ourselves, cutting the cost in half.  Or should I say, himself.  My husband is the ethereal workhorse of it all and, let me tell you, he is the most handy guy I know.  He can pretty much do anything.  Plumbing, electrical, tile, woodwork, knocking down walls and putting them back up; you name it, he can do it and do it well.  And has been doing it consistently for the past 3 years.  Quite honestly, (and maybe best said in a whisper) we are both just so ready to be done with it all. 

Upstairs loft with original built in bookcase and raw steel beam brackets

Upstairs loft with original built in bookcase and raw steel beam brackets

Living room decorated with vintage skis and trunk coffee table

Living room decorated with vintage skis and trunk coffee table

As good as he is in the construction side of a remodel, he is equally lacking in the design side.  Not that he can’t do it, but he just doesn’t really care about style or vibe or uniqueness.  He likes to pick something that is clean and nice and good looking (and in stock), install it and move on to the next thing.  

That’s where I come in.  I care about sticking to the bones of the original, preserving the historic, staying true to an era and keeping things inline with the original intention of the house or the surroundings it finds itself in.  As reluctant as I was on this second remodel to really dig into all the design elements, I cared about only one thing, preserving the mid-century vibe.  Unfortunately, what may have been notable 1950’s elements to keep, such as wallpaper or tile, had already been removed in a remodel years before we moved in and the remaining mid-century touches were in such disrepair that they were beyond saving.  I kept what I could, hardware from drawers and cabinets, the original front door and doorknobs, an entire wall of wood paneling, shuttered doors and the brass fireplace casing accompanying the whitewashed brick fireplace.  I resigned to refresh, update and renew by mixing the contemporary with the vintage and filling the house with as much of a nod to the 50’s as our pocketbook could accommodate, whether through actual construction touches, or simply in decor. 

1950 and early 60’s modern was full of rich walnut, brass, symmetrical and geometric design.  Being that I am already a fan of this era, I already had quite a few furniture and decor pieces wrangled from craigslist, garage sales or my local San Diego dealer, Alfonso, of Nok Nok Living (more about him in next paragraph) to move straight in.  The rest of it I filled with artwork created by friends (cactus print from Reno High School classmate + Reno native Matthew Lew of Silver State 98) or myself (desert photograph and black and white portrait painting) and little odds and ends from The Nest (blue ceramic pot and bird) or other local boutiques.  

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One of my all time favorite design elements was our master bathroom.  After much debate on how to restructure by tearing down walls, closets and moving toilets we decided on a design that was functional and beautiful.  I scoured the internet for mid-century furniture dealers and ended up in the storage unit of a local San Diego dealer (from whom I have now bought 4 pieces of furniture and who I also now call friend…amazing things happen when you choose to buy local from a small business owner, hint, hint) talking about all things old and interesting, his new baby and figuring out how to refurbish my newly acquired piece of history and make it into my bathroom vanity.  I definitely put a bit of elbow grease on this one, refinishing the top and cutting out a square notch of shelves on either side to make room for sink pipes, oiling the drawers and removing a built in utensil tray, but it was totally worth it.  We added a bit of elegant 50’s flair with hexagon tile and brass finishes.  All in all, it is the perfect mix match of mid-century modern and contemporary and well worth the attention we put into the details.

Master bathroom with refurbished credenza as vanity and his/hers closets with shuttered doors

Master bathroom with refurbished credenza as vanity and his/hers closets with shuttered doors

Hexagon tile (splurge) and faux brass mirrors (un-splurge)

Hexagon tile (splurge) and faux brass mirrors (un-splurge)

Remodeling can be daunting, draining and will pull on every last thread that is holding you (and your significant relationships) together.  Whether you are doing the work yourself or hiring contractors, remodels almost always take way longer and cost way more money than originally planned.  But, they don’t necessarily have to.  We chose to splurge on certain structural elements, like a new roof and new plumbing, but also chose to be thoughtful and unique about other elements.  I’m not ok with knock-off versions.  There are plenty of ways to pull off a vintage hack using things from IKEA or even break your bank by buying brand new ‘vintage looking’ pieces from high end decor stores.  But for me, the value isn’t just in the look of the item.  It’s in the quality of the piece, the history of what you are preserving and putting into your home.  I hold out sometimes, having plenty of bare walls and corners until I find the perfect thing I’m looking for…and it’s almost always something that is old, getting new life in a new way.

Needless to say, The Nest is The. Perfect. Spot. to find the old to turn into the new. From light fixtures and vintage hardware to incredible mid-century goods like this credenza with matching dresser. It is literally floor to ceiling full things to use for your next remodel or Spring redecorating project. I know it doesn’t really feel like Spring yet, but, I promise it is coming and freshening up with unique goods is in your near future! Heading into a bathroom remodel? This credenza would be a perfect dual vanity! Click the pic to take you directly to this item in our online store!

Flower Crown Class with Camryn Lane

Camryn Lane Flower Crown

If you’re like me, you’re jonesing for spring—or at least a little break in the weather! Let’s usher in warmer days with a handmade flower crown in one of our favorite classes taught by Camryn Lane. Gather your boho fairy princess friends and join us in creating your very own flower crown to take home while we enjoy drinks and treats to get us ready for a long-awaited spring.

WHEN: SUNDAY, APRIL 14TH, 2-4PM

WHERE: THE NEST

INCLUDED: ALL SUPPLIES NEEDED TO MAKE A FLOWER CROWN PLUS DRINKS AND TREATS

A DIY You Can Really Do Yourself

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Ali here with a DIY that I feel really good about!

For the record, I am not a DIYer.  I am the poster child for the proverbial ‘pinterest fail’ and end up with far more unfinished attempts than finished products.  You have my teenage daughter to vouch for that.  We have too many stories that begin with, “Remember when we tried to make that…” and end in a good natured grimace and a lot of laughter. 

Don’t get me wrong, I love every single thing about do-it-yourself projects from the standpoint of up-cycling, reusing, resourcefulness, cost efficiency, and a little roll up your sleeves and get ‘er done grit.  However, it’s the actual do-it-yourself part that always seems to be the problem.  I’m not very good at doing these things myself.  But, when the queen of DIY, Tessa Miller, comes over to your house and says in the middle of another sentence, “Oh, I’ve been meaning to make some of those” as she’s looking at your blue rhinoceros succulent holder you paid $35 for at a vintage boutique in Santa Barbara, the tables turn.  “You can make these?”  

Of course you can make them, she can make them, I can make them.  And thus began a new attempt at another possible failure.  But, as the saying goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  So, here we are with a very unconventional DIY tutorial that is missing half of the steps because, well, I’m not a DIYer and because I have 3 kids and can never actually finish a project in one sitting and because I’m just assuming you, as the reader, have half a brain and can use it to fill in the blanks for the parts that are missing.

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1. FIND YOUR TOYS

This ended up being the hardest part, in my opinion.  They don’t make toys the same way they used to.  Toy animal figures used to be a durable and hollow, soft-rubbery-plastic type of material.  Most often now, the realistic looking figures are solid plastic or resin and nearly impossible to drill into (however, I would LOVE to know if anyone has a good way to do this).  That being said, you can find vintage toys at garage sales, eBay, second hand stores or even your neighbors house, especially the neighbor with grown kids.  They almost always have a box of old dinosaurs their kids used to play with that they are hanging on to for old times sake.

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2. CUT YOUR TOYS

While your setting up to make a mess, let your kid play with the animals for a few minutes.  When it comes time to cut them, each one will have a name and a personality and will tell you if they are in pain as you cut their back or if they like it.  Well, at least such was the case with us.  Grab a sharp razor blade or exact knife and cut a square out of the back of each animal.  Depending on how hard or soft they are, you may also be able to use scissors.  I think it goes without saying, but pay attention during this part.  I had to use quite a bit of pressure when trying to make the initial puncture.

3.  PAINT YOUR TOYS

This is where my resourcefulness comes in handy…I used paint we already had!!  We had a few cans of spray paint kicking around the garage from previous projects so we started with those.

I will say, though, I wasn’t super happy with the glossy look, which is what we had.  I went to the craft store and bought 2oz jars of chalk paint for $1.50 each.  I ended up liking the matte look far more.  With this paint, I primed each animal (you could use a spray primer, but I already had a paint-on kind) and gave each 3 coats with a sponge brush, allowing ample time in between to dry.  After curing for 24hrs I sealed them with a wax coat.

This step is completely personal preference.  Play with colors, sheen, etc. and see what you like.

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4.  PLANT YOUR TOYS

Now that you have a painted, empty toy, it’s time to make it functional.  Succulents and air plants are great candidates for surviving riding in the back of a plastic animal toy.  Plus, Tessa has some at The Nest right now! Before planting, put a small layer of perlite, tiny pebbles, rocks or gravel in the bottom of the toy to allow the soil to drain properly (you don’t want it to get moldy).  Pick a small succulent and drop it in with some cactus soil and you are ready to rock and roll!  My resourcefulness came in handy once again by gathering cuttings of succulents I already had growing in my yard and transplanted them into the new planter.  Succulents are beautifully hardy and can re-root quickly and with very little space to spread out.

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Voila!!  Quite possibly my first ever DIY that I succeeded in.  And, if I can do it, I promise, so can you.  Give it a try.  These are a fun and quirky way to add some whimsy to your home as well as bringing a little outside, well, inside!

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Terrarium Class Recap

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If you easily get FOMO, don’t look at the album below from our 8th Annual Getting Dirty on Valentine’s Day Class!

We had a blast! So many amazing and FUN people and terrariums. I laughed A LOT with this crew. With a glass of wine and a Holey Schmidt donut in hand, we had a memorable evening, took home living works of art and even had a staff ‘end of the night’ dance party! Check it out below. See a photo of yourself that you just love? Go to our Facebook album where you can tag yourself and download the photo courtesy of Alexis Turner Photography.

If you feel like you missed out on hanging out with some cool cats, don’t fret: we’ll do it again next year… ;)

Terrariums not your thing? We have a floral arrangement class with Camryn Lane coming up on April 14th and a series of 3 macrame classes getting dialed right now as well! Keep an eye out on our Facebook and Instagram pages for more details. Have any suggestions for a craft you want to learn? Leave a comment below, and we’ll see what we can do!

Totes & Tea Towels with Casey Sibley

Tote Bag Class with Casey Sibley

We just finished the second in our series of four Textile Painting Classes with Casey Sibley! Man, I really can't explain to you how rejuvenating they are. Between working and "adulting" we leave little time for playing. It may sound like a frivolous thing, but if you think about it, why are most kids so happy? Because they get to PLAY ALL THE TIME!

Now, I know bills have to get paid and such, but two hours once a month isn't as hard of a commitment as we make it out to be. Secretly, I asked Casey to do these classes because I was desperately in need of a creative outlet. I knew that if I needed it, then there had to be a lot of others out there who needed it too.

Casey Sibley Painting Class

These intimate classes (we cap 'em at 10!) end up being so much more than just a few strokes on some fabric. We make new friends, encourage and support each other, and there are so many lessons to learn: knowing when to stop, letting go when we decided not to stop and made a mess of our project that seemed so much better before, and many more!

I want to thank all of the amazingly creative and wonderful people who have partaken in our classes--and not just for taking our class but for bringing their uplifting energy to the group!

If you haven't been to one but would like to, there are two more on the books: Infinity Scarves (Oct 28) and Napkin Sets (Nov 30), and we would love for you to join us. It's cheaper (and more effective, I think) than therapy (and there's wine!),  and you get to walk away with a usable work of your very own art!

Even if you can't make it to one of our classes, please take care of yourself and PLAY--whether it's an art class or dancing in your living room or whatever it is that reminds you of what it was like to be a carefree child. Do it! It's for your health and sanity!

Meet Casey Sibley

This is Casey Sibley.

She is awesome and creative and talented.

Since she is going to be teaching a series of textile painting classes at The Nest that I'm super stoked about (check out this blog post for more info), I thought y'all would want a chance to get to know her a little better.

She is one of my favorite ladybosses to collaborate with: not only does she teach an informative yet therapeutic and encouraging arts class, but she is also an uber organized fellow Virgo that understands that the struggle is real.

Read on to find out more about Casey and her creative process. Be sure to check out her website to support her creative endeavors by buying her goods that are sure to inspire happiness in your life!

I absolutely adore your fabric buckets and bags and have them in pretty much every room in my house. What was your inspiration in making goods to inspire a happy life?

Thank you! I love to hear that! When I started making products several years ago, it was really important to me to make something functional. I always loved painting and drawing but wanted to put my art on products that could be integrated into everyday life. I started my business because I wanted to do something that made me happy, and that desire became the ethos that I wanted to pass on to my customers through my work.

Where's that subtle accent of yours from?

I’m originally from Mississippi--born and raised! I moved to Reno about 6 years ago with my husband, and I love it here. My accent comes and goes, depending on who I am talking to or how relaxed I am (cocktails usually bring it out, too)!

How do you choose which of your original prints to turn into the items in your shop?

It’s a constantly evolving process! However, it usually starts with lots of sketches and little paintings that I will create in several creative bursts. I usually find myself drawn to one or two motifs and end up structuring each collection around those--trying to coordinate colors and patterns that make sense.

 

What are the best and worst parts about what you do?

The best part is being able to work on creative projects that I love! I used to daydream about being my own boss and having a career as an artist when I was still working a desk job for someone else. It felt so impossible at the time, so every day I am so thankful that I get to do what I want. It really blows my mind sometimes!
The worst part is the uncertainty that comes with being an entrepreneur. When things are going well, it’s the highest high. But when things are slow, it feels awful. It’s very personal work, so when things are tough and I am looking for moral support, it’s sometimes hard for others who aren’t business owners to understand why I would stick it out in those tough times. But I am obsessed! :)

And just for kicks...what is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

Ha! Gosh, it changes all the time--I like variety. Lately I’ve been a little obsessed with plain chocolate ice cream after having Icecycle Creamery’s Deep Chocolate. OMG.

Well, there you have it folks! Now that you know Casey, don't pass up an opportunity (or 4!) to kick it with her and me and take an original, functional work of art home while you're at it!