Form submitted successfully, thank you.

Error submitting form, please try again.

Category Archives: OPAM

OPAM August 2011 (putzing around the house)

This month I didn’t do one big project. Instead, I have been putzing around doing little things here and there.

I have what is basically the equivalent of a tiny thrift store in my garage. Furniture, frames, vases, baskets, pots, etc. All of the pretty little things I have curated over the last few years are stored there. The garage is a disaster, Jeff has great disdain for what I do to the garage, but it is certainly fun to go in there to find things I bought a year ago and had forgotten about! It is incredibly satisfying to complete the ideas that were rolling around in my head for so long. So even though I didn’t accomplish anything BIG – it still feels like I did when I glance around at some of the spots on our house.

That was my plan this month – to actually use some of the things I had purchased over the last year. We also hired a (fantastic) handyman who fixed a lot of small things around the house that have been broken and/or bugging us for years. So, it’s been nice. A nice little productive month.

I started with the main hang out room in our house, which is really the kid’s hang out. It is attached to the kitchen and has a big TV with all of their gaming devices attached. The table is usually covered with papers and markers, glasses and their “stuff”. I spiffed up the area surrounding the TV, mantle, and fireplace.

My For Like Ever poster is old and very loved. I saw it on the cover of ye old Domino magazine years ago and immediately went on a hunt to find it. Now it is all over the internet, but I still love it just as much as I did. Because, like, I will love these people, for like, EVER.

I thought it would be fun to fill in some of the white space on the poster with photos, so I printed a bunch of recent faves and slipped them between the glass and the frame. I added a few older photos too.

Most of this stuff was “found” in my garage so I don’t remember prices.

Those green metal flower frogs are easily found in thrifts and fleas. I love to slide photos into them.
The Polaroid magnet board & green frame were purchased at Urban Outfitters.
The vessels were thrifted.
The elephant was purchased in Thailand.

On the floor, below what is shown above, is a crappy fireplace that I hate with a passion. So I covered it up with frames and these adorable little stools I just found at the Long Beach Flea for $5 each. It was one of those flea market moments where you pretend you don’t really want them, because you are afraid if they see your deep desire and greed, they will raise the price. I placed the dresser that used to be at the top of the stairs next to it, to fill in some empty space, and added a metal crate filled with blankets and our vacation photo books to the top. Inside the dresser holds ‘kid storage’.

Metal crate: $8 Old Town Orange Flea
Crocheted blanket: $3 thrifted
Small iPhone photos serendipitously fit into an old Kraft box, perfect for flipping through.

The couch facing the TV is eleven years old. The cover is green corduroy, and soon we will probably have it re-upholstered. For now, it is a slouchy messy couch that is perfect for the kids to destroy because you can’t really tell. It is just a comfy slouchy mess.

The wooden window frames hanging above were placed there 3-4 years ago, but this wall will soon get an update. I have big family photo wall plans for this baby.

This month, I finally hung this sweet little fern, (doesn’t the word fern always make you think of Charlotte’s Web?) in this amazing Craigslist find of a macramé hanging flowerpot. Which I scored for $35. It did smell as if the person who owned it previously died holding it bathed in old lady perfume, so the time it spent in the garage was good airing out time.

This wooden plaque was hand made by my mother’s best friend in the 70′s or 80′s. It had a place in my childhood home for many years. When I had children, my mom handed it down to me. It was stored in the wooden dresser below the TV, and I found it again this month. When I found it I cried. And then hung it immediately in my kitchen. The last line should actually read: “I want to be a photographer, but first I’ll be a mother.”

This is a small hallway between our living and family rooms. I never know what to call which. Basically we have two large living spaces separated by this small hallway. One living space is mostly for the kids. One is for the grown-ups. The grown up room will be a future OPAM, because I have a few more things to do in there. For now, it stays under wraps. But in this hallway is our bathroom and art/school closet. On the door of the closet, I taped a few idea/dream/fix lists a few months ago. Just look at everything we crossed off this month!

The handyman:

Switched out three broken bathroom lights/fans
Fixed a broken kitchen drawer
Fixed the tracks of Mckenna’s closet
Fixed Mckenna’s curtain rod
Replaced a bathtub faucet
Reinforced our creaky wooden bed
Fixed two ceiling fans
Took measurements to add rolling pull out shelving to our pantry
Hung a cubby unit in Anna’s room

I realize I didn’t do the actual work, but I think just getting off my butt and calling someone was worth putting it into the OPAM for the month. I mean, I could have just kept putting this off!

This is in our downstairs bathroom. I found this funny/freaky painting of a little girl holding a doll. I loved the color of it and the frame it was in. I also loved that it might make people jump as they enter our bathroom. She was $3 at a local thrift shop. The painting above was done by Drew when he was very young.

This is the cubby unit the handyman hung in Anna’s room. Decorated 100% by her. Her paint color isn’t quite that apple green-I couldn’t get my white balance right. My mom purchased this from Pottery Barn and gave it to me for my birthday last year, in October. It was leaning against a wall in my bedroom all this time. Jeff is very happy it is out of our room. Anna is very happy I gave it to her. But how could I not? She is the queen of little treasures. This was perfect for her.

Three months in a row, I can hardly believe it.


opam july 2011 (top of stairs re-do)

The spot at the top of my stairs has been through many incarnations. As a matter of fact, I was supposed to re-do this spot in June 2008.

But I didn’t.

Last summer I took everything down with the intention to work on it again.

But I didn’t.

It eventually became a gathering spot for stuff I didn’t know what to do with.

It has bugged me for years.

It shall not bug me anymore.

Disappointingly, the only evidence I had of it’s before status was captured on my iPhone. I actually swear that I also got it with my good camera, but I can’t find the image anywhere. Argh! Humph! So, the after photo had to be taken with the iPhone too, which is also disappointing. I feel like I am going to regret not having taken more “pretty” photos of this set up later, but at least it is done. Pretty pictures next opam? I am going with it.

As you can see before, this spot had the beginnings of some semi good ideas, with no real attempt at making it actually good.

That changed when I found these prints on etsy, from artist Bianca Gõmez. I loved the pop of color. The simple graphic statement. The sweet inferred lean in for a kiss. I measured my wall to make sure they would fit here, framed. They did, and I ordered.

I still wasn’t sure what I would put underneath. But I had this glorious metal and glass industrial bookcase that was sitting downstairs in a spot that bugged me. I measured that to make sure it would fit, and it did. So I went about moving things around. We buy a lot of books but usually pass them around or donate them. We keep a handful that are special to us, but they were hidden in the linen closet. I was finally able to organize my books into a rainbow, as seen all over the internet, but until now not done at the Whitney house. I added a metal crate filled with old handmade scrapbooks from the days of yore. The shelf below holds more scrapbooks, from 2000-2003. Finally, a place for them! The bottom shelf was too small to store anything, so I added one of my favorite garage sale finds ever: a Polaroid land camera in it’s original box with it’s original papers, flash, battery, and “postcarders”. Next to that I placed an old Pepsi crate.

For now I added two vintage cameras from my collection to the top of the bookcase, and I have more in storage in the garage that I will place here soon.

(The doors on either side of this spot lead into my girls’ rooms.)

Prints: Cosas Minimas $52 (including shipping from Spain)
Frames: IKEA Ribba $30 for both
Bookcase: Craigslist $150 (older purchase/splurge)

Look at me! Two months in a row.


OPAM: June 2011 (boys’ room re-do)

definition: One Project A Month

In April 2008, I started a project that failed miserably after only two months. I named it OPAM, and hoped it would motivate me to get some things done around my house. The second month resulted in my #1 most linked blog post ever: our living room photo wall. I still get emails about this blog project, which always surprises me, but feels so nice.

I don’t really remember why I didn’t follow through with this, all I know is that for a long time I was just doing my best to survive. To get these little people grown, fed, and nurtured and live as satisfying a life together as we could. My focus has been just on making it, not making it plus making my house beautiful.

As with all of you, we have gone through a lot since 2008, and are in such a different type of place with our family now. My kids are growing. No longer writing on walls or spilling on couches or scraping cars on wood furniture. There was a point I reached in life with lots of little children where I just gave up on having anything just…so. I didn’t want to waste the energy! I had to preserve it for my four little home-wreckers. We would buy a new dresser and after a month, four drawers would be broken from them using the drawers as ladders. We installed surround sound and with one stray bounce of a ball a speaker was knocked off the wall and broken, never to be replaced. Holes were knocked in walls by doorknobs. We live in a small home, and I was happier giving it over to them, and dropping my desires for the perfect room. If they were happy, I was happy. And I believe messy children are happy children, so where does that fit into a perfect room?

Now, my youngest is 8. And I get to focus on my house in a different way. I spend less time cleaning up after them, or keeping them from breaking things or getting hurt. They mostly regulate all of that on their own now. Not only do they clean up after themselves, they clean up after me if I need them to! So that energy is freeing up. And it is definitely transferring to nesting. And thrifting. And garage saling. And Craigslisting. And seeing my little place in a whole new way.

What I am drawn to is changing. I still love the idea of an old farmhouse, all granny and cozy. I am also drawn with nostalgia to the 70′s. So much of how people used to decorate when I was a kid just feels so much like home to me. The resurgence of Mid-century modern furniture makes me very, very happy. The traveler in me loves textiles and found items from other countries. And I am always searching out anything metal and industrial, something not normally used in a home, that I can use in a unique way.

Over the last year I have been searching daily/weekly to find pieces for our home on Craigslist. I have a list of things I am looking for, and created saved searches on the iPhone app. So every few days (usually late at night when I can’t sleep) I go through and look. Usually it is hit and miss, but I am patient on the hunt. I have a huge inner drive to get things for a deal and finish a room without spending a lot of money. It makes the finished product all the better to know it was curated over time, for less.

One of the items I have been searching for is a twin headboard, for both of my boys. I have searched for a year, at least, never finding anything that hits me and is also at the right price. WELL….last week I found two in the same day. Two in the same day! After looking for a year! Timing like that is so fascinating to me. Jeff rolls his eyes but it was meant to be.

And so, last weekend, I set up their new beds and organized and decorated their room. I then decided this would be my June entry. I’m bringing OPAM back.

Room specs: 10×10 for two growing boys. OY.

Beds: Craigslist – $30 & $40
Lamp: thrifted (in Palm Springs) – $25
School desk: garage sale -  $3
Metal tray: garage sale – $1
Surf art: Pottery Barn hand me down – free
Ukulele: Drew’s, birthday gift from me
Duvets: IKEA – $12.99 each
Pillows: IKEA – $16 for both

The inside of their school desk is used as permanent storage, because you have to lift the lid to get to anything inside. I also placed a rolling metal basket found un-used in our garage underneath the desk, for journals, doodling notebooks, and current reads. Basically, anything they might use at night while winding down.

On top of the school desk is a red metal tray for smaller things they like to keep close-by. Pencils, remote, wallets, camera, etc. I placed this here to keep the top of their desk as neat as possible. And to keep all of their things from floating all over and getting lost.

Cork board: When Jeff and I were about 25, he bought this large cork board along with a map. We mounted the map to the board and pinned places we had already been, and places we wanted to go. When we moved here it found a new home in the garage for the last eight years. On a recent clean out, I found it and knew I wanted to give it to the boys. A perfect pre-teen/teen room addition – they are so excited to personalize it themselves. For the room reveal, Jeff and I went through a Game Informer magazine and some of their old things to decorate the board with. (free)

Skim board: gifted to us and never used. Also living in the garage. Thought it would balance and connect with the wood on the other side of the room. Up on the wall it went. (free)

TV: This is my least favorite thing about this room but of course it is their favorite. A TV used for video games that they got as their big gift last Christmas. The most expensive thing in the room. ($200)

Dresser: Already in room, purchased new and unfinished to save money, then painted black. ($can’t remember)
Hamper: Already in room, garage sale – $2 (I am looking for something industrial to take it’s place)

The top of their dresser is taken up by the TV and Xbox. I used a flea market bowling pin as a book-stop for their games. The basket on the other side holds their controllers and headsets. Under the basket are Drew’s school books. They each take one side of the dresser. This thing is a beast. I might change the knobs.

Mexico guitar print: girlhula (purchased during a 2 for 1 print sale) I used masking tape to mount the print to the front of the matte for something different.
Antique drawers: Long Beach flea market ($45) I think this was once used to store ammunition.

Inside the drawers are all kinds of things that boys need. On top is Nathan’s sunglasses collection and their deodorant/body spray.

Another shot of the top of the desk because I love that Drew keeps his guitar/uke pics on the lamp base and that Nate chose to showcase his fossil paperweight.

The wall opposite the cork board wall. I used six nails behind the door for Drew’s hat collection.

TTV burger and arcade print: purchased in 2008 from Mr. E. Cipher (whose site is no longer functioning, but I found his work shown here.)

We hung the planets in early 2010, and I asked if they wanted to keep them. Drew didn’t care, but Nathan did. So they stayed. I was glad they chose to keep them. I think things hanging from ceilings in bedrooms are magical.

When we showed them, I teared up over their reactions, and soaked up all the hugs they showered me with. The moment was so special and so sweet with their gratitude.

I gave them something and in that giving I remembered how much I loved doing this.

I’m not just making it anymore.