Before & After: Big Boy’s Room Reveal

Hello Again!  Apologies for having been MIA for so long.  Moving hell doesn’t begin to describe what we’ve just been through.  That said, we are SOOOO HAPPY to be in our new home. We moved before construction was fully finished.   So for about a week or so, we were living in absolute chaos, while construction was still going on.  While things are starting to find their place, knowing that my computer didn’t get set up yesterday, is a good indicator of the current state of affairs at our house.  To top it all off, our little Monkey had a fever of 104 for much of last week, so I stayed by his side the whole time, which of course foiled my plans to get the house organized.

So let me start by saying that much of the house still has piles of stuff that look like this:


But, when it comes to moving, the best thing you can do is create spaces where you can rest. I think this is especially true for kids, since moving and change can be very disruptive to them.  My first order of business was getting the boys’ rooms in order and while much of the house still doesn’t have any window coverings (including the master bedroom, which you can imagine makes getting dressed very “interesting”), my boys’ rooms are looking civilized. Big Boy’s room is essentially done, though I still have to make him a headboard.  In the meanwhile, check out his room.

So this was his room looked like when we bought the house:


This is his room now:

You may recall I pulled together some inspiration pics for red, white and blue rooms. I tried to walk a fine line, without going patriotic or nautical, but still keeping it graphic.  The whole concept for the room really started with the Union Jack rug I scored on Joss and Main. It sat in storage during the construction, waiting to be revealed.  The dresser and bed are from IKEA and are from his old room, but I gave him new beddings to bring things together. For the record, his bed is the Odda bed with trundle, but for some reason that design comes with huge head and side board, which we hacked off years ago. So, I guess his bed is a semi-Ikea hack, it will be a full Ikea Hack when I add a nice headboard.

I contemplated using the wide rugby stripes, in either the bedding or the curtains, but ultimately felt the bold stripes would compete too much with the rug. For good measure, I did add a custom monogramed chevron pillow from West Elm. For curtains, I opted for mostly white window panels with a touch of navy, to keep the room light.

While I love IKEA, I think the room really comes together because of the little vintage details. Remember the desk, one of my first vintage finds?  Here  I’ve paired it with a reproduction Emeco aluminum chair we’ve owned for over 10 years, that I originally bought for $99 for two.  I’m planning to swap out the chair for something more comfortable, once I find a suitable replacement.  I want Big Boy to be comfortable as he sits at his desk to do his homework, as he has years of homework ahead of him.

Other vintage finds include the movie theater marquee letter “J” and the cool original fishing tackle box.  The red warehouse pendant was a score from One Kings Lane.

Of course no room is complete without artwork on the walls. Remember my $1 vintage photograph and ad finds?  Don’t they look more impressive now that they are framed?  I also love the vintage stop sign, mostly I like it because it’s so faded.  If the sign had been in newer condition it would scream out in the room, but its faded glory allows it to sit comfortably with the rest of the room. I found the sign at a salvage/junk yard.

In case you are wondering, the walls are painted in Benjamin Moore Cement Gray.  In fact, half of the house is painted in Cement Gray.  I found it to be a really wonderful, true gray, no red, blue, green, or yellow undertones.

So, what do you think?  Pretty cool big boy room, or what?  Wish I’d had a room this cool when I was his age!  Here are a couple more pics for your viewing pleasure.


Preeti - Love this post! Love how you’ve incorporated the old vintage stuff with the new. You may have a new career after your renovation is done Isadora 🙂

rachel - oh my gosh. I LOVE what you did in this room! I also am in the midst of trying to implement a red, white, blue color palette in my 2 boys shared room. I also DON’T want a “themey” feel to it. You did a great job. Do you feel that the bed has held up well?
You indeed are VERY talented.

radmin - When you are done with your room. Post a pick to my FB page. Would love to see the results from my readers.

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Construction: Down the Drain

As the inside of our house edges its way to the finish line, we have started to “survey our land” to figure out what we want to do on the outside.  The biggest thing we have to contend with outside is The Pool and what to do with it.  It’s a pretty large pool too.

When we bought the house the pool looked like this, beckoning you for a swim:

Now it looks like this:

Not much difference except the water is a bit murkier from debris making its way into the water.  That said we’ve had the pool diligently cleaned all throughout the construction. After years of living in Los Angeles and wishing we had a pool, we thought it ironic that we moved to the Bay Area and bought a house with a pool.  Mind you, we were not looking for a pool.  So, our intention was always to keep the pool and one day make it look more like this:

image via

Well, the cost of fixing up the pool surround quickly snowballs into something truly astronomical.  So we did a lot of soul searching, evaluating whether it was worth keeping the pool or getting rid of it, especially since the weather in the Bay Area is much cooler than in Southern California.  We were of two minds about what to do, but after consulting with our fabulous realtor, she said that the house would gain in value without a pool*. So, if we spent money on the pool, the money would literally be going down the drain because it would adversely affect the value of the house?! Huh?  After hearing that bit of information making the decision to get rid of the pool was easy.

Sayonara pool.  Looking forward to learning how to plant a vegetable garden instead.

image via

* N.B.: the added value of a pool depends on the community you live in.  Our realtor’s recommendation was specific to us and our community.

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Construction: Progress Report 7

“What did you do Saturday night?” Typical answers might include, “We went to the movies to see the Great Gatsby“, or “We tried a really great new restaurant”.  But once you have kids, your answer to this question starts to change to something like, “We did movie night with the kids, and had some microwave popcorn”.  Hubby and I try to have a date night once a month.  Last night was one such night.  So, what did we do for our hard to come by date night?  We built closets.  Yep, you read that correctly, we built closets. I know, super romantic.

Once the kids were in capable hands we got to work and got well acquainted with the likes of Pax, Komplement and Algot.  If you recognize these names you know that this is no small undertaking.  We have two large master bedroom closets, 3 additional bedroom closets and two hallway closets that need fitting.  If left to the contractor, he’d probably put up a shelf and a hanging rod and call it a day.  But from experience I know that the more thoughtfully you optimize your storage, the better chances you have at containing clutter.

So, the master bedroom is getting a customized Pax system, the other closets are getting the Algot system.  When taking down walls, we considered building a walk in closet (WIC). However, after discussions with our architect it became abundantly clear that if we did a WIC, the master bathroom would loose considerable square footage and in the end neither of the spaces would be particularly large.  In fact the WIC would likely be puny?  I ask you, what’s the point on insisting on a WIC when what is truly matters is cubic feet of storage?  By forgoing the WIC, we gained a large master bathroom AND also have tons of closet storage. Win. Win.

Again, Ikea to the rescue.  Their Pax system has so many different options you can really create your dream storage.  However, same caveat as with the kitchen, it takes time to build yourself.  Hubby and I took on all the closets, because we want the guys working on the house to finish the stuff we can’t do, like plumbing the laundry room, or checking all the new electrical circuits now that many of the light fixtures are in.  I like the Pax system a lot, the Algot, not so much.  It’s the same principle as the Elfa storage system available at the Container store, but a) not as flexible, and b) not as easy to install.  Having installed the Elfa in 4 closets in our last house, I know the merits of the Elfa… however, I also know its cost.  So, I opted for the less expensive, less flexible Algot.  Not the end of the world, and probably about a quarter of the price.

So, if you were to ask me, “What did you do Saturday night?” my answer would be, “Hubby and I had a date and built closets” and you know what?  It was kinda fun.

Kirkhall - Now that you’ve had these for a bit, any advice about installation (specifically, for algot?) And, any evidence that they might be pulling away from the walls? Their spacing means the uprights won’t be secured into studs. How did you handle that, and are you satisfied with the Algot system (esp in comparison to the elfa that you’d previously had). Do the top/suspension rails do much for holding it all in the wall?
Thank you in advance for any advice!

isadorag - Great question. We were also a bit concerned that the Algot did not align with the studs. Our solution? We decided to drill holes into the top/suspension rails so that our screws would go into the studs. This way we knew the uprights would be hanging off of something solid. It’s an easy fix. So far we haven’t found it pulling away from the walls at all. How does it compare to the elfa. The drawers don’t glide as smoothly, but besides that for the cost differential, I’d say Algot gets the job done. BTW- I’ve been told that Hilti makes extra strong anchors. We didn’t use them, but perhaps if you want extra reassurance, this could be something to consider.
Good luck.

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Construction: Progress Report 6

The big story this week is that the kitchen is nearing completion.

I don’t think I mentioned this before, but we decided to go with an IKEA kitchen.  Several factors helped us make this decision.  First off, IKEA kitchen cabinets cost considerably less money than going custom.  Sure you don’t have all the options of a custom kitchen, but the savings are worth it.  Plus we bought our kitchen components during one of IKEA’s kitchen sales, so the discount applied not only to the cabinets but also to the quartz countertop we chose.  These savings are not insignificant.  A second consideration was replaceability.  OK, the latter isn’t even a real word, but by that I mean, that if something breaks IKEA stuff comes standard and so it can easily be replaced.  This was an important factor for me because our last kitchen was a mid-level custom kitchen, but after a few years of use, the door finish started to show serious signs of wear. I like the fact that if a door breaks I can just go buy a new one.  The last factor in our decision making process is related to doors.  IKEA cabinet frames are standard, so down the line if I decide to give the kitchen a whole new look, I know that I can choose a new door profile and just pop them in for an instant makeover.

The cons of an IKEA kitchen?  Well, you do have to assemble it.  We were originally going to use the IKEA installation service, but after they jacked up the price of installation by $1000 from our original estimate, to an a new estimate given to me when we were actually ready to install, we decided not to use them.  Our contractor’s team is handling much of the install at the price we were originally quoted.  The good thing about that, is that we stay within the budget we’d originally allocated for this aspect of the project. The bad thing is, they are not IKEA installers, which means they are not used to building these cabinets day after day… so the install is taking longer.

Anyway, enough about the kitchen it’s on its way, but not yet done.  This is probably the last you will see of it before it is completed.  At which point I will show you the dramatic before and after shots, that will hopefully look more like one of my kitchen inspiration shots.

By the way, speaking of doors, I tried to located the modern five panel door by Masonite, but apparently it is not a model they provide in California.  For your reference, you should note that not all doors featured on the Masonite website are available in every part of the country.  I learned that they contract with local fabricators and so each region has different designs.  I think the website should feature a search criteria that narrows your selection by geography, that way you can get a real sense of what is available in your area. Don’t you agree?

So, to conclude the door saga, we went with a solid core single panel shaker door. And, yes, it is the most expensive option, but the hollow core just didn’t feel right and the only other design I liked was the five panel door.  If I’d gone with the more traditional 5 panel door, our hallways would have started to look really busy.  In some areas we have seven door right next to each other 5×7=35.  That’s just too many panels.  Single panel lets you rest your eyes more.  Here they are in their hung and primed state.  Just wait until you see them with paint and glossy hardware.

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Betty - We have a square kohler kitchen sink that looks very similar to yours in the photo above. =)

Kristine - I love that you went with an Ikea kitchen. We had an Ikea kitchen in our last place in Santa Monica, I don’t know if you remember seeing it. We loved it and we were there for 3 years and the cabinets still looked brand new. They wear very well. Hopefully these will be the same, you will be surprised. We also had kitchen cabinets in our bathrooms but no one knew. They looked custom to the bathroom. Anyhow, love the choice and love the new doors. Great job! I can’t wait to see all of the finished photo’s! xoxx K

isadorag - Betty,
thanks for your comment. The sink in our kitchen is from Frigidaire. How wide is your sink? The sink cabinet we have is 30″ and the Frigidaire was the biggest sink that I could get away with using this cabinet. The sink is actually 27″ wide, with a couple extra inches for the lip bringing it to 29″ It literally JUST squeezes into the space, but I think having a big, deep sink will be very valuable especially as we have wide open countertops.
-i x

isadorag - Kristy,
thanks for the comment an thank you for following along this journey. I’ve known a few people with Ikea kitchens and all have been happy, so I’m hoping to fall into that category. That said, I do think your kitchen needs to be fairly rectangular in order to accomodate an Ikea kitchen. Unusual angles wouldn’t work well.
-i x

Betty - Ours is 27″ wide and also have the 30″ sink. we did ikea kitchen and counters too…

The deep single sink has been working out really well esp with cleaning pots and pans.

Ashley - I am In love with your kitchen!! It is exactly what we want and helped solidify our choices. I do have a question though… what colour are your cabinets? We are wanting the bodbyn off white. Thanks so much!!!

isadorag - Hi Ashley, sorry for the late reply the Holidays got the best of me. Ikea no longer makes this door profile. It was the Ramsjo, but they discontinued it when they switched over to the Sektion system. I think in their current line the Bodbyn is probably your closest bet. Good luck.

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