covid renovation: wood pallet playhouse

It started with Pinterest. Somehow in my search for all things outdoor I came across a pallet wood playhouse. As soon as I saw it, I sent the image to my husband. “We can build this!” I wrote. “And we can do it for free.

Now if you were to type ‘pallet wood playhouse’ into any search engine, you will get hundreds of different designs. Many of them are not pretty per se, because the easiest way to construct a playhouse from pallets is to leave them intact and just throw up walls, a roof, and maybe even a deck. (See below.)

The issue with that is the playhouse is not weather-proof. Everything inside therefore is exposed to the elements. So while dismantling each pallet is painstakingly long and laborious, it will ensure a sturdy, sound, and dry playhouse!

So how did we do it for free? During COVID many businesses were closed. However, we were able to find a few that were still open in the industrial parts of the city. They almost all had pallets stacked behind the buildings. We went inside and asked if we could take them off of their hands. They were more than happy to give them to us! So after a handful of trips into the city with the trailer, we now had all of the wood needed for the playhouse. All for the low cost of $0.

Before we began construction, we searched online for blueprints. We found a website that provided thirty-one free playhouse plans. It took an entire evening but we finally settled on a design that we thought would look best and would be easy to build. You can download those plans here!

Having now possessed the plans and the wood, we got started on dismantling the pallets, taking off one thin board at a time. This will honestly be the most difficult part of building your playhouse. Pallet wood is either thin and somewhat brittle or very thick and hard to remove. Once it is removed, it has the advantage of looking rustic, and costing you nothing, of course.

Be sure to keep the nails from the pallets. I suggest using a crowbar or hammer to pry the boards from its base. Each board will have one or a few nails that you may reuse when attaching them to its new base. This will keep your costs down and save you from having to buy nails or screws for the playhouse!

Once we removed the boards, we started framing. Luckily, we had wood laying around from other projects and so we were able to construct most of the frame that way. We changed the door and windows. We also had to modify it to fit the different lengths of the pallet wood. You can add wood accordingly. If you don’t have extra wood on hand, then be sure to use the wood frame from the pallets. You might have to get creative, but you shouldn’t have to buy any.

After the framing was done, we attached the pallet wood. I asked Geoff to use the nicer pieces since I wasn’t sure if I was going to paint it or not. (Originally I was planning on painting the playhouse white.) This went quicker than dismantling. Each wall was complete within a few hours.

Now for the flooring. I’ve seen playhouses where they are without any type of floor. Because we were placing it directly on grass, we didn’t want to have to move the playhouse every time we needed to cut the lawn. Initially we were going to use some of the pallet wood to make a floor. However, by chance Geoff found half a dozen pallets with particle board. It was the perfect platform to place a playhouse on, having enough space leftover for a small deck. So we went with that.

Finally, the roof is also up to you. I’ve seen plans with any roof, roofs made of particle board, pallet wood, shingles, tarps, and more. This is where we decided to spend some money, but you don’t have to! One of the houses that we remodelled had a white metal roof. Since then, white has always been my colour of choice when it comes to roofing. Because the playhouse itself was more on the rustic side, I wanted the roof to be a feature and to look clean and crisp. White would obviously do the trick! We searched online for a few days, and finally found a local supplier that sold what we were looking for. We only ended up spending about $50 on the metal. It’s one of my favourite parts about the playhouse. (Again, you can use whatever you have to make the roof.)

Finally it was time to put it all together. Geoffrey took out each wall, and screwed it all in place within a matter of minutes.

Now the fun part- furnishing it! Because of COVID, I didn’t want to go shopping for things to fill the playhouse with. Besides, we had a playroom in our basement that was overrun with toys for the kids. I took out the IKEA kitchen set and put it in the playhouse. It fit perfectly.

We added a shelf to the back window (which wasn’t in the original plans) because the kids kept wanting us to order food. Now when they are playing inside, we sit on the exterior deck and they can easily pass us food. It’s so cute. I really recommend this addition!

I also removed two rugs from our house and an over-the-door hanger. I filled the rest with random items from around our house that we really weren’t using. I went with kind of a minimalist-rustic-neutral theme, much like what is seen in our home. Because of that, I feel like it just all came together.

I did end up purchasing a few small items from the dollar store. Yet, if I can reiterate once more, this entire playhouse can be made for free, or for almost no cost. During a time of a pandemic, financial uncertainty, more free time, and nicer weather, it really is the most fitting project!

Emory

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covid renovation: farmhouse guest bedroom

Geoffrey and I made a renovation list in 2019, detailing which room we would renovate and when. For instance, this guest bedroom was originally slated to be made-over in the spring of 2021. That was pre-COVID.

At the beginning of our self-isolation, it was still too cold to be outside twice a day. Remy’s preschool and activities were all cancelled, so like the rest of the world, we were expected to be home all 24 hours of the day. With all of this extra time, I knew that I would need a project. One that I could do while being in the basement with the kids while they played. This guest room was the solution.

This is what it looked like before. It wasn’t in that rough of shape. The drywall was exposed in some areas where the paint had been ripped off of the wall. Other than a few blemishes, it seemed like a fairly simple room to spruce up. All it required was some paint, better furniture placement, and for my husband to stop using it as his work closet/filing cabinet.

Because we were supposed to limit the amount of times that we went shopping, we made it our mission to reuse paint, furniture, and decor where we could. Not only did it keep in line with our zero waste mission, but it made it an uniquely Coronavirus renovation. Challenge accepted.

We had over half a can of pale green paint leftover from our children’s bedroom, and half a can of of white. I decided to do two walls and the closet in the green and two walls in the white. Even with two coats we would be needing every last drop of paint. I prayed that it would look good, because there was no room for error.

The green looked much better in the guest bedroom than it did in the upstairs bedroom. That was a huge relief. I painted the rest of the bedroom slowly over a matter of weeks, in between playing with the kids and having to wait for when Geoff had time off. After two coats, many touch-ups, and sealing the edges in silicone, I was finally done! 

In keeping with our farmhouse theme, I chose to use the majority of our antiques in the guest bedroom. The bed, armoire, Hudson Bay blanket, and white crate are all vintage items.

We reused the dresser, cowhide rug, braided rug, plant, planter, bedding, and curtains from our other rooms in our home.

I did have to buy a wall sconce and gold curtain rod from Amazon. We also bought a new register and switch plates from Home Depot. Other than that, it was a successful COVID renovation!

Emory

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acreage renovation: closet makeover

A few weeks ago I published a post on the cost of installing a walk-in closet. It was through researching the post where I learned a lot of information as to how to go about making over a closet, or building one from scratch.

When Geoffrey and I revamped our children’s shared bedroom we ignored the closet. For whatever reason this seems to be an ongoing trend with us. I think a large part is due to the fact that they are behind closed doors it is easy to overlook them. Another reason is because by the time we are done renovating a bedroom, the last thing that we want to do is have to think about painting and remodelling a closet. (In fact, we didn’t touch the closets in our master bedroom.) Well, not anymore!

I loved the outcome of Remy and Wilder’s room so much that whenever I opened their closet door I felt embarrassed. Above is the before picture. Yikes! I really wanted their new closet to reflect their modern and earthy bedroom. So the only thing to do was to make it over as well.

At first we didn’t really know where to begin. I decided to look at closet kits at all of the major hardware stores. I spent days looking at their products online. Geoff looked too, and after discussing it we narrowed it down to a white ClosetMaid kit. Only we didn’t like the white bars, the laminate shelves, or the depth. We had intended on using crates to hold all of Remy and Wilder’s blankets, but they would be hanging over the edge if we went ahead and purchased a ClosetMaid.

 

Thus, we were still in need of a closet system, but knew that buying one was now out of the question. I had downloaded a Flash Player and tried designing one from scratch on IKEA’s website. However, even that was not providing any useful results. I felt like I was back at square one. 

I took a few days off my search for a closet kit. I had an idea of what I wanted it to look like, but could not find anything close to the image that was stuck in my head. That picture was wood and metal.

I eventually went onto Pinterest and and searched “child’s closet.” This yielded so many results and yet, I began to see a trend emerge of two closet types in particular. It was then that I came across a diagram of those two exact closets. I suddenly knew the answer, I would just get Geoff to build one of them. That way, we could customize it to have the dimensions and materials that we wanted. The answer was right in front of us all along.

Now to narrow down which closet system to build. While I really liked the one on the left, Geoff thought that the one on the right would be more practical. So to break the tie, I posted the picture on my Instagram stories and asked my followers which one they preferred. Again it was pretty much a tie! I heard pros and cons with both but in the end, my heart was just with the left one.

Finally, not wanting to be a dictator in this decision, I asked Geoff to forget everything that we had seen so far and to just draw what he had in mind. I did the same. We ended up drawing almost an identical picture. We did final measurements on the closet and crates, then went to Home Depot for all of our supplies. Here is how it turned out:

I took the old shelf and bar down we were left with a blank slate.

We painted the biggest wall the same colour as the accent wall in their room, and left the remaining walls in the closet white. I wanted it to mirror their bedroom as much as possible.

We chose our favourite type of pine shelf boards and Geoff cut them all to size. He constructed the frame then screwed the shelves in place.

After purchasing two closest rods, he cut them, researched the standard hanging heights, and mounted them to the wall and shelving unit.

I organized the closet by hanging Remy’s clothes on the left and Wilder’s on the right. They are low enough so that they can both reach their clothes themselves. The outfits that do not yet fit are placed on the higher bars.

I reused the wood and wicker crates that we already owned. I finally had a shelf for Wilder’s diapers. Their socks and undergarments are kept in two smaller crates higher up.

I purchased the cutest sign from the dollar store that reminds me of Remy but has part of Wilder’s name in it. The faux succulent is also from the dollar store.

As with anything that we pour this much time and energy into I end up loving. Of course this is the case with their closet. It turned out better than I had ever hoped for!

Emory

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acreage renovation: remy & wilder’s new bedroom

I am going to preface this post with a question. Do your children have their own bedroom, or do they share with their siblings?

For most of Remy’s short life, she has had a room to herself. We had hoped that when we moved from our last home that we would be moving into one with multiple bedrooms. While our current house does have four bedrooms, only two are on each level. That means in order to sleep on the same floor as our young children, they have to sleep in the same room.

Remy and Wilder’s bedroom was actually only Remy’s room up until two weeks ago. After spending weeks making it over, we finally transferred Wilder’s crib into her room, thus making it a shared room for a boy and girl. Not an easy design feat! This is how we did it …

We initially began with a blank beige slate. See above. These pictures were ones that I saved from the MLS listing for our home. Once we moved in we only added a few necessities.

With neutral walls, a white bed, white rug, white dresser, and no window treatments (we embarrassingly hung a blanket in her window for months), we had so many options to make their bedroom into whatever theme we wanted to! Because the bedroom is not an overly large one, I knew that I wanted mostly white walls in order for it to appear bigger than it really was. That said, Remy’s last bedroom had four white walls and even though I loved it, I did want a bit of a change. Cue the accent wall!

With a mental image of three white walls, we now had to come up with one colour that would be bold yet gender neutral, yet childlike, and be able to tie the entire room together. The only problem was that Wilder’s crib was blue. That immediately left blue out of the equation. Yellow? Too dated? Grey? Not playful enough. Black? Already in our room. Green? Yes! Now to decide on a shade of green.

After bringing home paint swatches, Geoffrey and I fell in love with a medium-dark green. However, right before going to Home Depot to buy it, I felt like it might be too dark. I chickened out at the last minute and instead purchased a light green shade called Frosted Jade that I felt would still compliment a blue crib. I was wrong.

I came home, put up two coats, and hated it. It was a pretty colour in itself but on their wall looked institutional. Wanting to salvage what I had done, I painted a Harringbone pattern overtop of the green that was highly inspired by a Swedish wallpaper company that I followed on Instagram. I thought that it looked better, but was more suited for a modern condo bedroom and not the rural room that I was going for. Frustrated, I went to bed.

After talking it over with Geoff, the next morning we took one of Wilder’s crib rails into my favourite Home Hardware store with a mission to pick out the darkest green that we could find. He promised to repaint it for me since I had felt like a complete failure. We found the perfect shade that had hints of blue in it called Atlantic Waves. We played in the store for a bit, then bought it, and left. Then we came home, and Geoff started painting. It was done by the end of the day. It looked beautiful.

Now that their wall colour was finally sorted, I had the fun task of buying items to complete their room! I turned to Amazon for most of it. There I purchased white curtains and a gold curtain rod, pony bedding for Remy’s bed, and seagrass baskets for their books (that haven’t yet arrived). Everything was very inexpensive.

I also bought the cutest white floating shelf from JYSK that we hung between their beds. It was on sale for $7.99.

I brought in the antique storage unit that we were using in our laundry room as a boot rack. I believe that it used to be in my mother’s hair salon and was a bright shade of red. I scrubbed it down, painted it white, purchased five wood crates from Michael’s, and put their toys on it. I love the way it looks so much, and it certainly has a lot of memories attached to it.

We were finally able to hang all of the pictures and artwork that I had been storing in the closet for the past year! Remy’s side has her three sonogram photos, a three-month photo, a picture of her as a toddler from my pregnancy reveal, a “be you” sign from a Canadian company, and a ceramic elephant vase that I have had for years.

Wilder’s side has his two sonogram photos, a baptism plaque that was given to him by my in-laws, a deer head that had belonged to my Gedo, and a “wild & free” banner that I had purchased while pregnant with him (and not knowing that he was a boy that we eventually named Wilder).

We decided to reuse the rug, shelving, and mirror that was in Remy’s room prior to this makeover. I also didn’t buy a new light fixture because I can’t decide on whether to hang a modern ceiling fan or a trendy bamboo light. Which one would you choose?

All in all, we spent less than $200 dollars turning this girl’s bedroom into a shared boy and girl room. Everything in their room holds so much sentiment and meaning (including the toddler handprints on the mirror). It certainly was a labour of love, from both Geoff and myself. I honestly love the way it turned out, and I know that Remy and Wilder enjoy sharing it together as well!

Emory

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master bedroom: before and after

Today, I will be sharing our master bedroom makeover with you all! 

When we first gained possession of this acreage in March 2019 we were paying two mortgages. We therefore decided to hold off on renovating until our house in the city sold. On top of that, it seemed like everything was breaking and so any extra funds that we did have went towards repairs. 

We ended up selling our home in July. By then the weather was too nice to stay indoors and so we pushed back the renovations again. We instead focused our attention on fixing up the yard. We said that we would start painting inside once it got cold again. That finally occurred in October!

Why we did start with a master bedroom remodel? In the past, I have always made our bedroom the last room that we touched. I feel like no one sees it except us, so why be selfish and make it a priority? This time, I really wanted to put more of an effort into honouring the marriage that Geoffrey and I have spent the last almost decade living, loving, and fighting for. 

Coming out of the fog of the newborn stage, I feel a renewed sense of self. Almost like I’m allowed to focus on things that aren’t just baby-related. I have finally started working out, I have gone to a real hairdresser for proper shorter and blonder hair, I have made appointments for just me, and I have started doing photography for clients again! With this also comes a desire to have fun with Geoff, to go on dates, and to grab as much alone time as possible! Hence, a need to pour that attention into a physical space like our bedroom as well.

From the above before pictures, the room didn’t look that bad. Up close, it was a different story. The house was previously rented out to someone who basically let their three massive dogs destroy it. The bedroom doors were torn to shreds, the handles were chewed, the floor and window trim was completely scratched, there were several toll-free phone numbers written on the walls in pen, screw holes everywhere, a ceiling fan covered in fly poop, and decals of soldiers with guns and parachuting out of airplanes. Like what the heck?

The first thing that we did (after months of hanging a blanket in the window to block out the sun) was purchase blackout blinds. Our bedroom window is south-facing so it catches a lot of heat in the afternoon. I cannot believe that we have waited this long to buy them! They work like a dream and look very nice. If we were to ever move again I wouldn’t hesitate in buying the same ones from Home Depot.

Upon hanging the blinds, we set about painting the walls. I went to Pinterest for inspiration and after seeing how beautiful one black wall looked in a white bedroom, I couldn’t resist. My boring self never seems to stray far from black and white walls. I am trying to venture into new colours, but for now, I couldn’t be more pleased with the way it turned out!

After the walls, trim, and doors were painted, we needed a shelf to display everything that I had been hoarding in my closet for nearly a year. It was going to be a shelf dedicated to our marriage and our three babies. Again, my love for all things familiar got the best of me, and I returned to Home Depot to buy the same knotty pine board and black brackets that we hung in our old house, and even the living room of this acreage! One day I might stumble onto a different solution, but until then, this is what a prefer with both the price and look.

Up went Remy’s newborn pictures, Wilder’s birth announcement, Rowen’s only sonogram, and our wedding photo. This shelf sparks love and joy and sadness and everything that my life has been over the last decade. I feel privileged each time I glance up at it.

I also replaced the old plastic switch plates with brushed metal, and the junky register with a black metal one.

Time now to focus on our bed, which I felt was missing something. We upgraded from an old wooden queen frame to a new metal king about one year prior. It was during that time that I also had to buy new bedding to fit the bed. Again, lack of imagination over here, I had zero ideas as to colour scheme. I went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and felt completely overwhelmed and out of my element. What I ended up walking away with was white everything! Sheets, pillows, pillowcases, quilt … I didn’t know what else to do.

This time round, I felt such a desire to add a pop of colour. I went to my favourite new store, Home Hardware in Warman, SK and browsed their beautiful aisles of home furnishings. What I ended up buying was an orange pillow (is that orange? yellow? rust?) for $50! It was way more than I intended on spending on one throw pillow, but goodness it was worth it. Remy calls it an owl pillow for some reason, and Geoffrey knows that he’s not allowed to touch it. The blanket at the foot of our bed was crocheted by my late grandmother.

Finally, we needed to replace the “crappy” ceiling fan. When I was at Home Depot I browsed their selection but didn’t see anything that I thought would work. Next I went on Amazon and spent the better part of an evening searching for a black ceiling fan. Again, I couldn’t find one that I really liked. I was so disappointed and was about to give up for awhile. Suddenly, I thought to check Canadian Tire’s website (that is where we bought the fan for our previous master bedroom). As luck would have it, it was the pre-Black Friday event. I immediately saw one that excited me, and it was on sale for $149 from $249. I went the very next day and after using my Canadian Tire money, it came to $130 including taxes. I was so happy, and it’s the cutest darn thing!

One of my goals in making over our room was to transition Wilder into sleeping in Remy’s room, or their shared room. That didn’t happen. While I will eventually replace his crib with a black mirror and a tall plant, until I paint and design their room, he’s going to keep sharing with us. No matter, I will miss him too much if he leaves me.

Thanks for reading! Please leave any questions or comments below.

Emory

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