makeover: sunny days

It’s been awhile.  But for good reason.  Just last weekend I wrapped up a makeover project with a great friend.  I am excited to share the results today.  I can pretty much guarantee fewer posts in 2016 but when I do post, I hope to knock your socks off with reveals like this one.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield

Let’s start from the beginning.  The beige, boring before. This room wasn’t given much attention nor was it used frequently.  It was where all of the random pieces of furniture ended up.  Some with great bones, others not so great and a few left behind by previous owners.  The one thing all of these pieces seemed to have in common was that they were a shade of brown.  The walls too!  Beige and brown are almost always the default “safety” color when arranging a room.  Am I right?  We needed to inject color and personality into this space immediately!

Living Room before

When consulting with the couple, we discussed how they wanted to use the room and the feeling they wanted it to evoke.  This space is going to be used, as intended, as a living room for hosting friends and family.  No television, just conversation.  We also determined that the adjacent space beyond the pocket doors needed to be defined.  This would become the library anchored by wall-to-wall built in bookcases.

Library Built In Bookcase

In our initial consultation the couple described their style as “minimalist modern” although I might argue that it’s “contemporary traditional” but who’s keeping track.  In fact, let’s go with “organic modern”.  I think that sums up the outcome.  The project was a healthy dose of DIY, vintage, home store finds and shopping the house, my favorite.  A full source list can be found at the end.

Organic Modern Living Room

One specific influence kept surfacing when flushing out their style and it was Kimpton Hotels which is known for bold interiors.  Specifically their use of contemporary patterns, intense color and often natural elements juxtaposed with metallic & reflective finishes.  The most important element being “pops of color” as described by my friend.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield, vintage botanicals


We started with a relatively neutral color scheme by painting the walls a soft gray and then worked in the “pops of color” and texture.  The sofa is gorgeous and so comfortable.  It is a classic gray velvet Chesterfield accessorized with bold throw pillows that can always be changed out down the road or seasonally for a new look.  Crown molding and windows were updated before we got to the fun stuff.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield

Nature is an important element to the couple since they are avid gardeners and Renee is a floral designer.  The vintage botanical print above the sofa was a find that I’d been hoarding for just the right project.  The set of wing chairs initially started out as a bird motif but after that pattern was discontinued we came across these butterflies which were a great consolation. The birds landed on the twiggy side table.

Organic Modern Living Room - butterfly chairs

It was a no-brainer that the rug needed to be yellow, Renee’s favorite color.  We cycled through a few choices, even sending one back, until we found this one with a simple over-sized pattern.  I stumbled upon the perfect mirrored, coffee table with geometric cut outs mimicking the pattern on the area rug.  We debated over pattern vs. solid panels for the windows but ultimately settled on navy and pulled that deep color onto the walls in the library.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow, navy, gray chesterfield

Can we talk about the lamps and end tables?  Two of my favorite elements in this room perhaps because each set is totally unique – a vintage treasure and a DIY.  Would you believe those end tables were sourced on Craigslist in mint condition?  When first reviewing the listing, we anticipated painting them white but lucked out.  The natural wood is very pretty and didn’t need any updating.  Check out the lattice-work on the bottom.

Organic Modern Living Room - yellow ginger jar lamp

The lamps were hideously dated but the perfect shape, scale and a matching pair.  At 5 bucks they were a steal.  They even came complete with pleated shades which we ditched for ruched drum shades.  A simple DIY with high gloss spray paint gave us the ginger jar shape lamps we were looking for and a fun pop of color.

DIY ginger jar lamp before & after


Turn your attention to the newly minted library.  The couple took the momentum from the living room and ran with it in a series of DIY projects in the library.  We flipped the color scheme just a bit with navy taking center stage on the walls and gray taking a backseat.

DIY Ikea hack - Billy Built In Bookcases

Bye bye beige!  The bookcase is an Ikea hack.  A set of five Billy bookcases were framed and painted to create a wall-to-wall bookcase.  Signature pops of color, of course, are found stenciled across the back.  The displaced books and mementos from the living room all found a new home organized on the shelves.

DIY Built In Bookcase Library - Ikea Hack

Vintage and contemporary pieces are right at home in this new space.  The fantastic natural light doesn’t hurt to showcase all of their finds. Navy & Yellow Home Library

Dining Room

It wouldn’t be a home project without a little project creep, naturally.  In this case the dining room is adjacent to the living room which means the crown molding needed continuity as well as gray owl paint on the walls.

Updated Gray Dining Room Before & After

Changes in the dining room included updating the light fixture to reflect the organic modern direction as well as the bird art.  I convinced them to anchor the dining table and chairs with an area rug which Renee did a great job of selecting.  I enjoy the quiet simplicity of the dark stained Windsor chairs, trestle table and humble bench but I do think the room feels a bit warmer with the bold rug.  Do I dare say that it adds a “pop of color”?

Simple Organic Gray Dining Room

Well that sums up the entire makeover which is Olive approved…

Butterfly Wing Chair

Source List

Living Room

  • Sofa – Macy’s Saybridge
  • Paint – Behr Dolphin Fin
  • End Tables – Vintage Craigslist
  • Lamps – DIY via Craigslist
  • Lamp Shades – Target
  • Throw Pillows – Homegoods (patterned) & Vintage (solid)
  • Area Rug – Wayfair
  • Coffee Table – Homegoods
  • Wing Chairs – Macy’s
  • Pouf – Wayfair
  • Twig Side Table – Pier 1
  • Mirror – Vintage
  • Botanical Print – Vintage
  • Curtains – Boscov’s
  • Top Down Cellular Window Shades – JCPenney
  • Magazine Rack – Vintage


  • Bookcase – Ikea Billy Hack
  • Paint – Behr Very Navy
  • Chair – Ikea Poang
  • Throw Pillows – Ikea (patterned) & Vintage (solid)
  • Rocking Chair – Vintage
  • Curtains – Wayfair

Dining Room

  • Furniture – Vintage
  • Rug – Ikea Vidstrup
  • Bird Print – Ikea
  • Light Fixture – Overstock

Organic Modern Living Room no wm


another day, another drop leaf

I can’t stop with the drop leaf tables. There’s more where this one came from too! This is another one that we picked up in Brimfield. It is the perfect size in my opinion. I like drop leafs for their versatility. This one is petite when closed. Just right for a cottage beach house kitchen that can open up to accommodate additional diners around the table. However it could also make a really functional sofa table that can open up as a game table or home office if need be. Anyway, enough imagining its future life. Let’s discuss its former.

french enamel & tricycle MMS milk paint drop leaf table

When I acquired the table, it felt really primitive to me.  Too primitive for my taste.  It needed color. A little pizazz.

dropleaf before

I started with a coat of tricycle MMS milk paint which is such a good, vibrant red.  Why I haven’t I used it in so long?  However, red on this piece still felt primitive.  I punched it up with french enamel MMS milk paint, a gorgeous light blue that I also don’t seem to use enough.

bentwood chair & drop leaf table

The twist, though, is that I created a resist once again using hemp oil.  Just like the last drop leaf I painted.  The red peaks through in just a few chipping spots on the legs and apron of the table.

french enamel & tricycle MMS milk paint drop leaf table

I considered staining the top with curio, the dark brown MMS milk paint.  It is getting increasingly popular as a stain for table tops and dresser tops.  But it turns out that just a coat of hemp oil did the trick to revive the dehydrated wood top.  I love the nicks in the top too.  It gives so much authenticity.

MMSMP hemp oil table top

Ahh, the magic of hemp oil!

MMSMP hemp oil

This table is for sale at West End Garage in Cape May.  The chairs are not.  They’re mine!  The entire Miss Mustard Seed’s Milk Paint product line is also available so you can achieve this look on your own piece of furniture.

Have you made over any furniture lately?

french enamel & tricycle MMS milk paint drop leaf table

how to: dresser to vanity

Thanks for all of the nice feedback on our new bathroom. I just love how it turned out!  I am going to share how we constructed the vanity with you today. There are many tutorials out there outlining how to do this but our approach was a little bit different since we went with an over counter trough vessel sink.

DIY Vintage Cottage Style Bathroom

Many of you who know us, know how things work around here. Typically I conjure up an idea (sometimes crazy) that utilizes salvaged or vintage materials, develop the aesthetic and then get my husband, Ryan, on board to help execute it. Ok, to mostly execute it. I will fully admit that I don’t have the patience to DIY some of the things I come up with on my own. Hello, blue print wallpaper! I like to think of myself as the Art Director and Ryan as the Engineer around here. Do you have self-appointed titles at home? The bathroom reno followed the same suit until it came time to complete the vanity. We called in assistance from my father who is a Plumber. So without further adieu, our Circa Dee/ Marston Mechanical collaboration!

How to Turn a Dresser into a Vanity...and not lose any drawers by Circa Dee

First things first, we started with prepping the dresser.  I mentioned that I had been holding onto this for a while because I knew it was just the right size for this bathroom.  I thought I’d paint it with a fresh coat of white.  My plan was to use MMS milk paint in Ironstone but as we considered the dresser further it actually had just the right chippy look that I was going for, only in latex.  We scrubbed the dresser and pulled off a few of the chipping pieces to find blue/green paint underneath.  Perfect.

Three coats of polycrylic sealed the distressed paint and created a durable top coat so this could be used in a bathroom.  I chose polycrylic because it won’t yellow the white paint like polyurethane will.  Plus it is water based which makes for an easier clean up.  Bonus.

Polycrylic Topcoat - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Then it was time to bring in the big guns and work around the plumbing. After positioning the dresser in place, we cut out a hole in the back of the dresser to make way for the drainage pipe using a hole saw drill bit.

Plumbing - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Next we positioned the sink in the center of the dresser and determined where the sink and faucet holes would need to be.  They were cut using the hole saw drill bit too.

  Trough Vessel Sink - How to turn a dresser into a vanity

Next the faucet was installed.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

Everything was secured in place with caulk.  The sink was caulked to the dresser. The dresser was caulked to the wall.

Over Counter Trough Vessel Sink

We chose this over counter trough vessel sink for several reasons…

  1. As I mentioned, the over counter trough vessel sink helped to preserve as much drawer space as possible.  We would have lost half of the drawer storage to accommodate for the drop in.
  2. The dresser is small so if we dropped a large sink in it we’d need to cut a large hole in it which may have ruined the integrity of the dresser and made it weak.
  3. We could have chosen a bowl vessel sink but that just didn’t fit our aesthetic. Too modern so we went with a rectangular trough style.
  4. Bonus.  The combination of the over counter sink and the dresser created a nice comfort height vanity.

Over Counter Trough Vessel Sink

After the plumbing was reattached, it was time to figure out what would become of the drawers.

DIY Cottage Style Bathroom

I was fully prepared to lose the top drawer to make space for the drain pipe which means it would just become a facade of a drawer.  Buuuut they were able to salvage about 20% of the drawer  because there was not a drop sink taking up the space.  The short drawer is perfect for storing soap, toothpaste and other small bathroom toiletries.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

The deeper bottom 2 drawers only lost about 2-3 inches off the back to accommodate for the pipes. The new drawer backs were cut to width from 1×4 pine boards and attached with a brad nailer.  Then excessive few inches on the back and sides of the drawers were cut off with a circular saw.

I seemed to have missed a picture of the middle drawer.  A 2 inch U shaped notch had to be cut out of the top of the back of that drawer with a jigsaw to accommodate for the bottom of the drainage trap shown below.

Custom Drawers - How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity

 It was so minimal though that it is not even noticeable when the drawer is open.

How to Turn a Dresser Into a Vanity...and not loose any drawers

We finished the vanity off with a set of clear green flower knobs on the top drawer and clear glass knobs on the remaining drawers.

How to Turn a Dresser into a Vanity...and not lose any drawers by Circa Dee

This might just be my favorite room in the house right now…

DIY Vintage Cottage Style Bathroom

ambush makeover

Those of you that follow Circa Dee on facebook probably recall my status update last week about doing an ambush makeover at my parent’s house while they were away.  Well, today is the day for the big reveal.  Let’s first walk through the before so you can see what I was working with.

The “brown frown”.  As I like to call it.

See? Brown furniture.  Brown wall.  Brown floor.  Frown.

That room that you are looking at is their living room.  At least it was.  And it was seriously lacking color and character.  It needed to be injected with some life!  This side of the room had the most color.  A wall color that I am fond of however do not know the name of.  The least amount of changes happened over here.  In fact, the furniture configuration did not change at all.

More brown paneling on the banister.  And dark furniture.  And yes the Soprano’s always seems to be on in this house. 

Ok so honestly this is not some epic makeover where the room gets turned upside down and inside out in 24 hours.  I just can’t operate like that plus I didn’t want to give the ‘rents a heart attack upon their return from vaca.  The plan was to paint that god forsaken paneling.  I know some of you out there will cringe at the thought of painting one of the original characteristics of this mid-century home but if you’ve lived with it for the past 40 some odd years, you’d want it gone too.  Time for a change! 

Side note for those of you that don’t know: my mom grew up in this house and then it became her own house with my dad where they raised our charming family and now my niece is a regular in the paneled room.  It has been around for 4 generations now and that paneling has been the backdrop for many holidays, family parties and birthdays.  Although the paneling may sound iconic, it was just time for it to go.  But don’t fret, I didn’t just paint over family history that easily.  I have to admit that my mom knew the paneling was getting painted.  My dad, however, just knew they were flying off to Jamaica for the week.  uh-uh-uh (que creepy laugh)

So now that you know the background on the casa let’s get to the makeover, shall we?  Drumroll…

Like I said, it isn’t gonna knock you over but it is a much-needed change.  Whew!  No more brown on brown on brown.  Color and texture!  The room seems so much bigger and brighter with the painted paneling.  (Ahem, ignore the cords.)

The paneling got a coat of primer and 2 coats of Valspar Allen + Roth vintage.  Can you believe the paint color was called vintage?  No brainer choice for me, obviously.

The gallery wall tells a story.  Each piece of art was bought from local artists when my parents were traveling.  Looking at each piece can easily bring them back to that day and specific trip.  These paintings were scattered all around the house.  Some were never even hung so I thought it would be fun to have a statement wall that is like an album of their travels.  BTW I love how I’m making the ‘rents sound like world travelers.  They’re not.  They’ve been collecting these for a very looong time!  I left some holes in the lay out because I was sure they’d bring some new art back from Jamaica and do you know they didn’t? Shocking!  Oh well there is always next time.

Then I took it upon myself to accessorize the room with more color.  I really had to restrain myself when it came to pillowing up the place.  I would have at least doubled the amount of pillows but I knew they’d hate that.  So I went with these ginormous blue textured pillows found at Home Goods.  They look like they are part of the gallery wall.  The colors and size.  It’s like the art comes right down onto the sofa.

Cool blue is the main accent color throughout the room to contrast with the warm brown furniture.  The floral motif on the pillows is perfect as it pulls in red accents which are subtly every where and also some green, white and gold.

They had been talking about getting an area rug.  Naturally I shopped the home and came to the realization that we each had a burlap coffee sack with bold red and blue graphics.  When layinglengthwise next to each other they make a neat little throw rug that packs some punch.  I put a slip pad underneath and we’re still working on getting the creases out.  Honestly this accent may just be a little “too Dana” for them and may not make the long-term cut in the room.  Bummer because I love it!  It provides so much texture which the room needs to balance out all of the dark leather.

Next up, some funky furniture to add to the color palate and overall “lived in vibe” of the room.  I love this chippy green nightstand for a side table because it has drawers and corrals “stuff”.  Plus there are pops of red showing through.  You may remember me posting about it after scoring it at an estate sale.  It’s chippy in all the right places.

Next is a Phantastic Phinds find…and old farm bench turned side table which also has some fabulous red paint peaking through.  Again, subtle red.  Subtle farmhouse.

How fabulous are those modern lamps?  I never really noticed them until the makeover.  They pop off of the white wall.  And the shades, although brown, coordinate with the new colors just right.

And I brought in this old painted oak school chair that I’d previously been using as a prop.  It works well as a catch call.  The patina matches with the rest of the furniture .  The pale yellow also recedes into the white so it is not a big focal point and avoids creating a cluttered feel.  The orchard basket adds some more farm style flair while holding keys and things near the door.

They already bought the new media console.  We just set it up.  It was made in Lancaster county from reclaimed barnwood by the wonderful Clover sellers Reclaimed Crafts.  There’s that pale blue accent color and farm style again.

Oh and some pale blue cushions to give the hope chest color and purpose.  And de-browns it a little.  We always seem light on seating when gathering in this room anyway.

The once too high artwork behind the hope chest seems at just the right height with the tall lamp helping to put it in proportion.  The height of the painting works now that the chest will be used as a bench.  You can sit and lean back without hitting the frame.

To recap, here is how they left the room.

And here is what they came home to a few nights ago.

So there you have it.  A successful ambush makeover!  My dad seemed unphased by the changes.  In under 10 minutes he found his beloved sofa and crusty blanket and pillows in front of the tv.  Reality set in.  As predicted he moved the lovely new pillows.

So what do you think?  We’ve still got a list of things to do in this room like putting up shoe molding, new window treatments, paint the door, paint the banister (I wanted to see how it would look with a wood top – not a fan), paint the wall behind the banister so the mid-century cut outs are less noticeable, and the list goes on.  Is any room ever really finished anyway?

And Tank likes the new space too…

Linking to:

Vintage Inspiration Friday

A Diamond in the Stuff