76 Awesome Ideas to Make Your Home More Kid-Friendly

76 Ideas to Make Your Home More Kid-Friendly | Get Inspired! | Roundup Post from ZenShmen.com

Here are 76 awesome ideas to make your home more kid-friendly, rounded up from my own searches online and on Pinterest.  I hope these ideas spark some inspiration in you!

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50 Great Ideas for Built-Ins

50 Great Ideas for Built-Ins | Roundup Post at ZenShmen.com | Lots of inspiration and cool ideas!

I adore built-ins and am always on the lookout for some inspiration and cool ideas we can make ourselves.  I’ve been collecting lots of great ideas on Pinterest here and here and I thought I’d share some of them.

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8 DIY Home Decor Projects You Can Make This Weekend

Hey there,

Sometimes all we need is a little inspiration.

If you’re feeling crafty and are looking for some cool ideas that you can easily finish in a weekend, check out these projects.

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DIY Banquette Storage Bench

Hey there!

This is the story of our homemade dining room banquette bench.

We’d been trying to pull off a built-in dining banquette look for a few years — and even came close once with this antique bench we found, except it was totally the wrong size — so finally, we just had to build our own from scratch.

Too wide, too deep, too high.  Bad purchase?  Yeah…  Maybe.

As you can see below, our dining area lacked a little personality.  Here we had a table, bench and mirror, but zero welcome factor.

This is our first attempt, with the wrong-sized antique bench.

boooh to this lame dining area.

Here’s how we built our bench using 3/4 inch MDF, purchased for about $100.

Preparing and cutting the boards

Our bench is 6 feet wide, 18 inches high and 18 inches deep.

Counter-sinking the holes, so the screws are flush with the surface

Gluing together the basic box shape

Screwing it all together for more solidity

We also added a top with hinges on one side, creating a big storage box.  We had primed it, then came the final coats of white paint.

Once we brought the bench upstairs, we put up refinished Ikea Billy bookcases on either side.  And soon, we were inching closer to the built-in look we were hoping for.

We realized, once we sat on the bench, that the 6-foot wide top piece sagged in the middle.  It wasn’t strong enough to support people because it was so wide.  To avoid any future damage, we secured and strengthened the whole thing with two more MDF boards as supports inside the box, which also serve as dividers for stuff.

Next, we customized the look.  Below, we added some pre-made molding frames (kinda like we used on our bedroom walls to make wainscoting, with great results!) that we simply nailed in with with small nails, and then caulked all around for a seamless finish.

Next, we wanted to build a cushioned backrest. Here’s how we did it:

By some random fluke, we came across some aerospace-grade seat cushioning when my darling hubby went to buy a second-hand wood tool at someone’s house.  The guy worked for the airlines and had so much of the stuff, he practically begged us to take some home!

It came in randomly glued pieces which made for some odd shapes, but we sawed through it with a breadknife (!!) until we got a nice long, flat cushion.

Voila!  A nice long piece we can use:

We glued it to an MDF board cut to the right size.  Then, we wrapped it in cotton batting (the white stuff you see below), which we learned to do when we upholstered our own DIY headboard.

Next came my favorite part of this project:  choosing a fabric to cover the cushion.  I picked a shower curtain.  Yep!  Easy to maintain (read: easy to wipe down should there be any spills or splatters — ahem!  toddler alert!) not to mention the colors were absolutely perfect with everything else we had going on.
So we tacked the shower curtain all around the back of the board with our staple gun, and the job was done.  Not bad for $9.99 worth of fabric!

My sweet mama and sweet baby girl enjoying the new bench!

Next up: completing our banquette dining area with a photo gallery to enjoy, which you can see below.

Pssst:  To learn a super easy way to create a photo gallery wall (with no math 😉 check out this post which explains how to do it.

And last but not least, we finished off the built-in look of our little dining nook by putting up crown molding.  If you’re curious about how we did that, check out our 5 easy DIY molding tricks.

Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated.
Till next time!

5 Easy DIY Molding Tricks

5 Easy DIY Moulding Tricks | ZenShmen.Com

Check out these 5 easy DIY moulding tricks! From crown moulding trickery to base moulding shortcuts, adding visual interest and faking built-ins, we’ve got a trick for you to try.

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DIY Fireplace Makeover


In this post we cover how to transform a store-bought electric fireplace into a striking piece unique to your home.

As you can see, the original fireplace was dark brown – and very crowded with stuff!  Not very cozy.

Step 1 – Change the color.

The first thing we did was repaint the fireplace white, after we changed the living room wall to a rich charcoal color.

Charcoal wall is Antique Tin by Behr.

We had to dismantle the fireplace into several pieces in order to move it out to the garage, and paint it with the spray-gun.

Putting it back together.

But we still felt it needed more prominence.  So we decided to build a simple hearth for it.

Step 2: Build a hearth.

It’s basically a giant pizza box (with supports in the middle, to hold up the weight).  We planned to cover with tiles that matched the nearby entryway flooring.

Checking what it will look like before making it permanent…

And here it is with the tile added.

Here it is put back together on the new hearth.

With the fireplace insert back in.

All put back together, it was lovely, but still needed a little something.

So we decided to make a custom mantle for it that would match the DIY coffee table we made.

Step 3: Build a custom mantle.

The wood is red cedar in 4×4, available in any big-box home reno store. 

We cut them to size and chose the most interesting sides to face up – the ones with the nicest knots and other details in the wood.

Then we glued and clamped them together until they bonded permanently.  Next, we got to sanding and roughing up the edges for a timeworn look.

Last, we whitewashed the wood with SamaN water-based and environmentally-friendly furniture stain.

Trying it on for size…  Here you can see the coffee table we were tying in with.
A closer look…

Now we need to finish the hearth with molding and paint.

 Step 4:  finish the look by painting the hearth and adding molding at the base.

Here is the finished look:

What a transformation!  By not over-cluttering the mantle, we get to focus on the fireplace itself.

Everyone who sees the new and improved fireplace assumes it’s a built-in, real fireplace original to the house.  And that’s exactly what we were hoping for 😉

‘Till next time!

DIY Open-Concept Home Makeover


If you’re visiting our blog for the first time, you can see the starting point of our home’s transformation here:  House Tour – Before.  Also, have a peek at the look that inspired all these changes here:  Our Dream Home… Isn’t really a home.

We l-o-v-e our open-concept, split-level 1950’s home.  We’ve got quaint bedrooms upstairs, office space, a basement and garage…  but our main floor was in need of some major opening up.

The tricky part is, we wanted to update it…  and in an open concept, everything is visible all the time!  How do you work on one area or project at a time when it’s all one big open space?

It felt like it took a long time – and like we always had lots of mess and unfinished projects on the go – until we got everything just the way we liked it.  But finally, we did it!  Here’s how:

Kitchen – Living – Dining – Entry:  a 4-in-1 Update

The space before:

70’s Kitchen

Living Room – awkward furniture layout – and oh so brown!

brown, brown and more brown furniture
so much stuff, and nowhere to put it…  So we have piles.
too much furniture!

Fireplace…  not so cozy.

Even Billy the dog is bored in this dining room.

front vestibule…  I’ll try to find a better pic!

The wishlist:

Click on the links to read more about each project! More links coming soon.


Living/Dining Area: 

Our Living Room Charcoal Color:  Antique Tin by Behr

The use of greys makes the 3 spaces flow together into one

Hanging a gallery wall in a grid is easy with the method shown here.

Despite the rather drastic changes, in the living room and dining room we did not buy any new furniture.  All our projects are very budget-conscious, so we repurposed things we already had elsewhere, and refinished furniture we were tired of.  We also built a banquette storage bench, coffee table, dining table, fireplace hearth and mantle!

Front Entry:

Joining the two spaces with flooring makes a larger, more welcoming entry

This refurbished dresser stores hats, scarves, mitts, loose change and miscellaneous stuff

    That’s a daunting list!!

    The vast majority of these projects were to be done by yours truly and the hubby, DIY style.  We’re not rich and don’t have tons of free time, so we advanced when we could, how we could.  How long would this all take?  That was the real question.  All told, nearly a year.
    In the coming weeks I’ll do my best to create posts and add links to all these projects, revealing all the final touches.

    Till next time!

    DIY Billy Bookcase Makeover (IKEA Hack)

    DIY Billy Bookcase Makeover (IKEA Hack!) | via ZenShmen.com | Step-by-step instructions with photos

    Check out how we did our DIY Billy bookcase makeover.  If you’ve got Ikea furniture you’d like to makeover, learn from our mistakes lol!  Step-by-step instructions with photos.

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    Ugly-to-Nice 2: Everyday objects get a makeover


    Here is a roundup of our latest ugly-to-nice projects.  This is where we take everyday objects and give them new life with paint and, sometimes, a little bit of craftiness.

    Have a look at our first batch of projects right right here!

    The Gold Fawn

    This little porcelain guy was a yard sale find.  I just loved his silhouette, especially the ears.  Kitschy?  Sure.  But for 2 bucks, I knew he’d be a great-looking lil’ fella in gold.  And so, with a few coats of matte gold spraypaint, he now lives in our bookshelves.

    * * * 

    The Found Ikea Kids’ Table

    Yep.  Found.  As in, at the end of somebody’s driveway on garbage day.  Sturdy and clean, this kids’ play-table and chair set from Ikea was begging for a makeover.  It had been painted blue and was  worn down.

    To perk it up, first we tightened up all the bolts, then sanded and primed it.

    (I heart using an airgun to paint)

    Then, I offered it to my mother-in-law to use at her house when the kids come over.  As per her request I painted fuchsia chairs and a turquoise table.  It’s pretty adorable!

    * * * 

    The Gold Bird

    I always like things that have a story.  This handmade thrift store find has “Venezuela” carefully carved into it.  I can imagine someone bringing it home as a precious souvenir many years ago, and now they’ve outgrown the sentimentality they once attached to it.  Or perhaps the bird reminds them of someone they’d rather forget.  Or maybe it was a gift from their boss, and it felt unnecessary to keep the odd gifted bird after they moved on from their job.  There could be a million stories behind this bird.

    Quite simply, I just liked its shape and the way it looks up at you, curious, happy.  That, and the swath of cobalt blue around its eyes, which is what caught my attention in the first place.

    Nevertheless, here it is updated with some matte gold paint.

    * * * 

    The Wooden Highchair

    I found this beauty at a gigantic community garage sale for $25.  (Oh boy, that’s a day I look forward to all year!  – more on that here.)

    This was pretty to begin with, so it’s not really fitting of the ugly-to-nice nickname, but it did lack wow factor.  Cue the turquoise…

    Again here, it required a sanding job first to lightly scuff the varnish.  Sanding is pretty boring and tedious but I’ve learned that if you skip this step and paint onto a smooth surface, your paint job will just flick off in no time, and be covered in nicks and scratches.  And then you have to do it all over again…  Now that‘s boring.

    Here’s the work-in-progress:

    hand sanding…  snore.

    My go-to paint combo.  Rust-Oleum 2x Ultra-cover primer and satin spray in Aqua.

    Working all the angles…
    * * *

    The Littlest Step-Stool

    This is the little step-stool that could.  We’ve had this in our family since I was a kid, and somehow it got passed down to me.  Not exactly a precious heirloom but let me tell you that at 5’3″, I do use it almost every single day to reach things on the higher shelves of the kitchen cupboards.

    However, not only was it nicked and grimy, it was also pretty ugly to begin with.  So naturally, I painted it turquoise so it would go well with other pieces on the main floor (which is open-concept with the kitchen).

    * * *

    The Crib Makeover

    Read the story behind this project and how we did it here!  Crib Makeover

    * * * 

    The Gold-Dipped Writing Desk

    Read the story behind this project and how we did it here!  Gold-Dipped Writing Desk Makeover

    * * * 

    The Baby Adirondack Chair

    Read the story behind this project and how we did it here!   Redo Project: Baby Adirondack Chair

    * * * 
    The Ozen Sandwich Board
    My hubby and his brother own an awesome restaurant called Ozen.  I’m always on the lookout for cool stuff we can make use of without breaking the bank, and came across this sandwich board that had gotten thrown away.  
    I cleaned it up, repaired it and repainted it.  Now we can use this cool board to let people know what’s new at the resto!

    That’s it for now, but we have lots more projects in the works so check back soon for Ugly to Nice 3!
    Till next time, 

    Our New DIY Flooring (Allure & Traffic Master Installation)

    Our New DIY Flooring | Home Depot Allure and Traffic Master Installations | Via ZenShmen.com

    In this post we detail our new DIY flooring project — the full expanse of our main floor — sharing before-and-after photos of our Allure and Traffic Master installations, and why we chose to go with those Home Depot products.

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