How I’m Transforming Our Garage

Good morning!

If you’ve been following me on Instagram (I post in my stories on the weekends that we work on this) you know I’ve been working hard on cleaning up/cleaning out our garage and moving it from just a work space to a more inspiring and “pretty” space, both for me and for my customers.

I’ve been leaning a bit more minimalist in our house lately, pruning away things that I don’t need or use that are just cluttering up my time and my life. That mindset—exactly what it means for my family and I–has been taking shape over the past few months, but it’s been hard to get there when it comes to business stuff. I had so much in the garage that I was saving for a certain project or idea that I was going to get around to “someday” that it was getting in the way of the projects that I was really excited about and really taking away my motivation to create what I really wanted to create.

I had to realize that in the same way I get overwhelmed “at home”, I was also getting overwhelmed “at work”–I had too many possibilities and not enough time or space to get them all done. I had to let things go or I wouldn’t be able to make the progress that I wanted to in my business or in making the garage look the way I wanted it to.

So here’s the big, scary, “before” (it’s actually not as big and scary as it truly was because I took photos way after I initially started. So look at this but imagine it being a lot worse):

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See that gray washed pie crust table in the middle of the photo all the way to the left? This is what the garage looked like when a customer came to pick that one up. Not great, right? I’ve been running into that situation all summer, though, and I really wanted to create a space that I enjoyed more and that would be more inspiring to me and to my customers.

That’s not to say that I didn’t struggle with this move. For a long time, I really wanted a retail space. I was saving for it for awhile, even. Then goals changed a bit, as they do, and that dream got a little farther away from me. But this kind of pushed it’s way in, and then I would lay in bed and think about how much of a step back this dream was from that one. I almost felt embarrassed about it–who has a store in their garage? Who is going to come and shop in my garage that’s freezing half the year and kind of unpleasantly hot the other half? What about torrential downpours, when the roof leaks a tiny bit in that one spot and water soaks into that one corner? Primarily, though, it just looks a little dark and dingy and, well like a garage.

I played around with my Etsy backdrops for a long time, but they were almost all too small for me to take photos of the increasingly larger pieces that I was creating. So the first step on this journey was to throw up some curb find scrap wood and do a white wash over most of it.

 

 

The photo with the shutter shelves looks all right, but obviously this one with the dresser makes it obvious that this solution wasn’t quite what I wanted just yet. Still, it took me probably two years after I first put up this backdrop to upgrade to this (keep in mind, this is just about one half of the north wall of my garage):

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So much better, right? I used 1′ x 6′ common pine boards with a white wash over them. It actually ended up being a couple of different white paints over the course of the whole project, because, as you know, I have paint everywhere (literally in places I didn’t know I had), and most of it is at least half used, so rather than buying new paint, I pretty much just used up what I had. I don’t know about you, but I get a real sense of satisfaction when I get to throw an empty paint can away. I’ll admit, this is kind of strange, but it’s true.

Speaking of paint, I so should have taken pictures of this corner (the one down below) and what it looked like before, because it was an absolute disaster. I basically had these makeshift shelves that were loose boards supported by 2 x 4’s that weren’t exactly even and definitely weren’t that great to look at. Then I found this beauty one night during a particularly fruitful curb shopping trip:

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This has been my paint can corner for a long time, and before the 2 x 4 shelves, there was a metal cabinet there. The latch on that cabinet never worked properly, and so the door was always swinging open and getting in the way, and the shelves on the inside were too narrow for much more than two cans of paint each, so a lot of it was stacked in the bottom and it just wasn’t that convenient (or pretty).

When I found this piece and Dan measured it and discovered that it fit in this space perfectly and had amazing storage, I was pretty much over the moon. Charlotte was also very excited because this thing was filthy, and before I could wash it, it needed to be sprayed down with the hose to get rid of the first layer of grime. Charlotte’s favorite way to help me is by spraying things down with the hose (painting is a very close second). I really wanted to paint this, but I knew I wasn’t selling it, and I’m always hesitant to paint a piece for myself that I know I’m just going to using in the garage. I compromised with myself and used some paint that I didn’t love (obviously not Annie Sloan–I love the color here but not the finish, for my normal pieces, anyway), and it made such a difference:

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There’s something about seeing my paint cans all lined up like this, out in the open but organized and ready to be used, that is really inspiring to me. I don’t feel like I have to clean up before I can start working. There are three shelves hidden underneath, too, where I stashed my boxes of sandpaper, my box of trash bags, some cleaning supplies, and my basket of shop rags–you know, the less inspiring stuff (all of which used to be just out on my workbench, always in the way and never organized).

We had these big light hoods up in the rafters that were leftover from the previous owners:

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Dan did a little poking around in the rafters and discovered that they weren’t hooked up to anything, which makes total sense, since the electrical in our house has always been a scary jungle of wild cords that go nowhere and connect to nothing but are ominously marked “live” and are constantly appearing out of nowhere from places that we thought we’d checked years ago. It’s a real fun circus over here when it comes to potential fire hazards. Anyway, just to be safe, of course, he turned off everything for about an hour and pulled all of these down for me.

In addition to making it a lot more open and less cave-like, I sold the hoods on Facebook later than night, which helped us purchase the next round of common boards for the walls. I love it when that happens.

Back to the north wall. Here’s the before and after:

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I apologize for the second picture being so dark at the back–I’m fighting the shorter days now. I’m also in the process of pricing a window installation back there to let in a lot more light–I’ve always wanted to put another window in for the extra light and also so that I can see and hear Charlotte more easily when she is in the backyard playing.

One of the things that is back there in that very dark corner is this cabinet (it’s probably going to move across the garage and onto the workbench when that wall is done, but I haven’t totally decided that yet):

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I wish I knew more about this piece. It’s super old and handmade, from what I can tell. When I have better light, I’ll take some photos of the inside so you can see the way that the shelves fit in there. Seriously, so cool. I bought it at an estate sale for about $17, which I still can’t believe. It locks, and it seems like it was made to go on top of another piece. I’ve taken it to a few shows and almost sold it a couple of times, but I’ve never been able to get rid of it, and maybe that’s a good thing now. I’m currently using it to store the props and the little things that I use for my Etsy photos, and, like the paint cabinet, it’s really nice to have a place to store these things where I actually enjoy looking at them and can easily find and pull things out.

Previously, they were either scattered all over the garage, stored in random crates, or, most recently, sitting on a shelf all jumbled up and stacked in such a way that I couldn’t really find anything efficiently at all. It’s always felt like a waste to me to put so much time and effort into the space that I’m working in–I could be using all of those resources to work on more pieces–but it’s honestly made such a difference so far, and I’m barely halfway done. I’ve always enjoyed working out in the garage but now that it’s actually pretty and a lot brighter out there, I’m enjoying it so much more. I can’t wait for my window to be installed and to finish up the back wall and I’m so excited to take the final photos and share how my Christmas sale went with you!


How do you feel about your work space? And does anyone else out there sell out of their garage? I’d love to see your photos! Let’s connect in the comments.

Talk soon,

Jessie

 

Sun Porch Makeover: Part 2

Are you ready? If you haven’t read the first part of the sun porch project, you can do so here. If you’ve already read it, here you go: before and after…

 

Are you stunned? I am. I’m trying not to be dramatic, but you have to remember, I’ve been a lot closer to this project than you have (like, for the past 15 years). It’s taking me a minute to wrap my head around the fact that the sun porch is actually (almost) finished and that we are even using this room for parties!!

Ok, I’m better now.

Here are a few more photos of the finished room and the details that we picked out:

 

Just in case you didn’t get a chance to read the first post, here’s a quick recap: my mom originally envisioned this room as a place for the family to gather and play games, for her to read, and for friends to talk and have drinks/appetizers/desserts and just enjoy her beautiful gardens. For the longest time, this room was a scary cave of red brick and broken furniture. This year we (OK, let’s face it, I) decided that enough was enough and that she should finish the room once and for all and actually start using it the way she’s always wanted to. So I said, “Let’s have a garden party.” And she said, “Ok.” The porch and party were supposed to be done in May, but getting it done in July is better than not getting it done at all, right?

She mentioned the garden party idea to one of her friends from her Bible study, and then that friend mentioned it to my mom’s neighbor, Linda, and then Linda planned the date and agreed to host part of it at her house, too, since she has a pool and she’s only three doors down. So we had to have everything ready by July 8, which we did, with the exception of the upholstered ottoman, which was a huge headache—I’m never doing button tufts again—and one side table. Not too shabby, right? I found these adorable coordinating decorations for the garden party at Paper Source (the poofy white balls were left over from Katie’s baby shower earlier this year—I think I found those at JoAnn’s):

 

Paper Source is probably one of my favorite stores–I’ve repeatedly told Dan that he could buy me just about anything from there (like for my birthday or Christmas) and I’d be insanely happy. They have super cute notebooks, calendars, paper crafting supplies and decor. Another thing I love about Paper Source is their gift wrap selection–my love language is definitely gift giving, and I’m all about wrapping gifts in beautiful paper and bags.

Anyway, back to the reveal. Because this room is a sun porch, we wanted to do a mix of indoor and outdoor furniture, sticking to a pallet of blues, pinks, and greens. We used the sofa (found by my mom at an estate sale a few years ago), as a jumping off point. My mom has this habit of picking out furniture based on first, the price, second, the level of comfortableness (is that a word?), and third, the way it looks. I’m kind of the opposite. Anyway. Right before we really committed to this design and spray painted the outdoor chairs pink, she tried to back out, wondering if it would just be better to stick to a neutral, farmhouse type pallet. She wasn’t sure that she even liked the sofa that much anymore. My philosophy was this—this summer is almost half over, and we aren’t spending much money on this design—all of the furniture was purchased inexpensively at garage sales or estate sales, or else pulled out of the trash. The outdoor chairs, round side table, and large square game table were all trash rescues. I bought the tea cart at a garage sale for $5. The sofa was under $100, and the two antique chairs were under $20 thrift store finds. If she decides that she hates it after a couple of months (which I seriously doubt) we can probably use most of the pieces in a brand new design next summer, and still not put much money into it. So the chairs were spray painted, Charlotte and I found the cushions and throw pillows at At Home, and we kept a few antique chairs in the room that went with the pallet.

 

I’m making the search for the outdoor chair cushions sound really easy–in reality, it was a little bit of a headache. Apparently, the end of June is a little late to be shopping for porch decor and actually the perfect time to be shopping for Halloween (no joke). I don’t think I found a single cushion at Target, and Pier One was sold out of the design that we really wanted–again, we didn’t really have time to order online. I should have just gone to At Home in the first place–if you’ve never been there, do yourself a favor and go. It’s basically heaven for a person who loves decorating and pulling rooms together with a few choice pieces. We knew we wanted a geometric green for the cushions, and I think these babies were just the thing.

The mix of white and dark wood, florals and geometrics, and the dark green accents on the white furniture ended up working so well together. The dark green is Annie Sloan’s Amsterdam Green, and the green accents on the white furniture and the cupboard (aren’t those geranium knobs THE cutest?) are a direct tribute to the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel.

 

Remember the dark red that used to be in the stairwell? We went with the lighter brown color, Arrowhead (Behr), to cover that up, and I think it looks amazing. That took care of the floor, though now my mom is thinking of adding a rug. I’m of the opinion that a patterned rug would be a little too much, a neutral rug would tone down the design, and a textured rug would look out of place (which basically means that I’m of the opinion that we should forgo putting a rug in here). My mom is of the opinion that a rug would really finish the room. I think we’ll wait and see how it looks once the ottoman is finished—I’ll update this post as soon as it is—and make the decision then. To sum up the difficulty: I don’t think the room needs a rug, but my mom thinks it does. Help us with this debate, will you? Maybe we’ll figure it out with a few more opinions in the mix! Leave your thoughts in the comments. Rug, or no rug?

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Once the rescued outdoor chairs were spray painted and the cushions were purchased (I originally overbought on the throw pillows and had to make a return trip to At Home), all that was left was to paint the cupboard, side table, and game/dessert table, and then find something for the walls.

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Partly because my mom was still a little bit on the fence about the design, and partly because we had a bit of a deadline and didn’t have time to hunt or order things, I decided to try out some engineering prints to hang on the walls. I found a bunch of vintage flower images over at The Graphics Fairy, and played around with combinations until I came up with this one. Karen has so many beautiful designs on her site that it was hard to choose—this is one time where having a specific color palette definitely helped me out!

I originally ordered the prints online because I was hoping it would be super convenient, but because they are sized oddly (which I totally couldn’t tell just from looking at a PDF), they all came out on different sized sheets of paper, which I wasn’t expecting, as I’d ordered standard prints, thinking I’d just trim them to fit the 22” x 28” poster frames I got at Hobby Lobby (I spent about $25 on the three frames–if you wait until the right week, all the frames will be on sale for usually 40% off. I never buy anything full price at Hobby Lobby). Luckily, engineering prints are super cheap, so I only lost a little over $8 on that experiment. Armed with my flash drive and a better understanding of how this whole thing worked, I went down to Office Max in person and had them help me size the prints so that the images were centered on 22” x 28” paper to begin with. I still had to do a little trimming, but they turned out even better than I thought they would! Including the online order fiasco, I only spent about $49 on these three large prints/frames, which I think is a steal for wall art that size—especially when it fits in with the décor so well!

The garden party was a huge success, and we followed it up the next day with the celebration of my niece, Olivia’s baptism. Everyone loved the bright, breezy openness of the sun porch (especially the people who had seen the “before” in real life, and not just the photo on my phone), the delicious lemon blueberry coffee cake, and the gorgeous blooms in my mother’s garden. And let’s not forget about the cuteness that is my niece!

 

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My next design project is my mama friend Megan’s dining room. She’s expecting her fourth baby later this year, so we have to get working on a design for her asap! I’m looking forward to helping her incorporate a Mediterranean color scheme into her living/dining room, working with a dining area that includes an antique church pew, and possibly even painting a buffet! I will keep you posted on the progress with that project.

Keep in touch! If you have a post you’d like to contribute (whether that’s a DIY project, craft show review, or meet the artist feature), email me at metrodetroitmaker@gmail.com. You can follow me on Instagram here, and you can check out the sun porch Pinterest board here to see what things we considered as we plowed through this redo.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Jessie

Sun Porch Makeover: Part 1

Ok everyone. I am super excited to share the first part of a room redo that I completed recently with my mom. I’ve got some great photos and tips to share, and a whole story that starts about 15 years ago. Ready?

Here are the before photos:

 

And here is the backstory:

My mom put this sun porch on the back of her house in Sterling Heights about 15 years ago (maybe more—she doesn’t remember exactly what year it was). I’m saying it was about 15 years because I think I was about 15 and really butting heads with my younger sister, Katie, with whom I shared a bedroom. I always gave my mom a hard time about this addition, because I wanted my own bedroom, and I thought that obviously, an additional bedroom would be a much better choice than a sun porch that nobody would use.

My mom insisted that she would use it. Before the addition, the space at the back of the house was a covered patio, which my mom didn’t like because it tended to fill up with junk. She would start at the beginning of the summer putting out furniture with pretty cushions and trying to have dinner out there once in a while, but after a few weeks it would just become a place to store bikes and outdoor toys. One time we pulled a huge terrarium out of the trash and scooped some frog eggs and marsh water out of a swamp in the Clinton River Park. The covered patio was the perfect place to keep it, and it was pretty cool to watch the evolution of eggs to tadpoles to baby frogs (which we sadly had to release back into the wild after they started hopping out of the terrarium), but it wasn’t really what my mom had in mind for the space.

As you can see from the before shots, even after the sun porch addition, the room still never really got much use and instead quickly became storage (read: a place for junk to accumulate). This year (2017), I really wanted to help my mom turn it into what she had always envisioned: a place for people to read, relax, enjoy her beautiful garden, and gather as a family to talk and play games. We set a date for a garden party, and began to clear out some of the clutter, donate what she didn’t need or use, and brighten the place up.

One of our very first thoughts was to paint the interior brick that used to be the exterior wall. It was a pretty easy choice, especially after reading this article. The brick just wasn’t adding the right character to the room; in fact, it made a space that should have been bright and airy into a bit of a cave, especially with the two big maples that cast shade over the entire yard all day long. Most of all, we wanted a tighter color palette to work with when it came to making design choices later.

For the transition to painted brick, we followed Sarah’s (of Little Vintage Nest) tutorial pretty much to the letter. You can find it here, in case we’ve inspired you to do a project of your own. I am in love with Sarah’s blog, and I pretty much adore everything she does. She’s turned me on to a bunch of awesome stuff.

Here are a few process photos of the cleaning, prepping, and priming day:

 

My child loves to climb, and it was her idea to wash the windows!

As I said before, this room had been storage for the most part, so it was hard to cull some of the furniture, books, and boxes that had been here, but honestly, a lot of it hadn’t been touched in years. My mom is famous for saying things like “someone could use that” or “I’m going to do…with this.” I know I have these tendencies to work against as well, so I try to use this kind of logic: “When was the last time you used or even looked at this? Six months? A year? Two years? Did you even remember that you had it? No? Then it must not be that important.” Time to donate. The big exceptions for my mom are photos, gifts, and things from her mother/childhood, all of which I get. We picked some of these to keep out, some to store, and some to leave accessible so that we could easily rotate things to make sure that she could still regularly appreciate the things she truly loves. There’s a great cupboard on the wall that is perfect for storing these items, as well as some decor staples that we can use for parties:

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A lot of the furniture and project pieces came home to my garage for future attention, and some of it was kept to be featured in the room after it was completed (more on that later).

Here are the things we learned from prepping/priming day:

  1. It takes a LOT longer to paint brick than it does a regular wall. We started priming at ten, and didn’t finish until close to five, and that was with only one break, and at least one of us working on it the whole time. Luckily, we didn’t have to do much taping since most of what we were painting around was white, easily wiped surface.
  2. Even in a well ventilated room like the porch, the KILZ stinks. We had all the windows and doors open and there was a really nice cross breeze (thank goodness we picked a 75 degree day), but I was still getting a headache from the fumes when I was working on the corner. Next time I’ll wear a mask.
  3. Don’t skip the cleaning part. My mom initially resisted the idea of cleaning the brick since it was technically an interior wall, but once we started, the dust was coming off like crazy. I don’t know if that’s just typical mortar breakdown happening super super slowly, but the amount of dust we brushed off made a little pile all along the wall. There was no shortage of spiderwebs, either, which is hard to see on a dark wall unless you’re up close. I suppose that’s one drawback to painting the brick–the dust and spiderwebs are going to show up much clearer now!

We put on one coat of the primer, then waited a few days before doing the top coat (only because of schedule things–we could have started the top coat that evening if we’d had time). My mom didn’t want it to be super bright white, so we picked a softer shade, Behr’s Bit of Sugar (Masonry Paint). The stairwell also needed to be painted–the existing brick red color was really dark and kind of scuffed up. We picked two samples to choose from, both Behr colors. On the left is Arrowhead, and on the right is Liquid Mercury:

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They are both still kind of dark, but they bring out the colors of the slate floor, and we think they will help a little to lighten the space up, which is what we want. Which one do you like? We’ll reveal what color we chose in next week’s post!!

Once the painting was over, it was time to start the fun part–putting the room together with furniture, art, a rug, and a debate about window treatments. We started by placing the furniture that we had around the room to see what we were working with in terms of what my mom already had. I apologize for the quality of these photos–it was an overcast day when I was taking all of the “befores”.

 

When she tried to put the sun porch together a few years ago, she picked a lot of pinks, which really clashed with the brick wall. Now that the wall is white, it’s not such a bad choice. We wanted to use some of the pieces that my mom already had, instead of buying all new furniture, and the biggest piece that we had to work with was the vintage floral sofa in the photos above. My mom found it at an estate sale a few years ago, and bought it because it was comfortable and she liked the colors. We weren’t sure exactly how to use it in the room and for a minute we toyed with the idea of painting the upholstery. I changed my mind about that  when I found this photo (source here):

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It reminds me so much of the design aesthetic of the Mackinac Island Grand Hotel, where my mom and I go at least once a year for the Winsome Women Christian conference. It’s one of our favorite places, and my mom always talks about retiring and running a B & B on Mackinac Island. I thought she would love it immediately, but when I first showed her the photo, all she said was “there’s a lot going on there.” This from the woman whose bedroom looks like this:

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When we started this project, I think she was thinking that I would do a more rustic, shabby chic, farmhouse look for the sun porch, since that is the style I generally gravitate towards and love. I would probably do that if this room was for my house, but it’s not. I know my mother—she loves color and pattern (and matching things, which drives me crazy) and she loves, loves, loves the Grand Hotel. I think she’ll be happier with this room in the long run if we can pull off the same aesthetic that the photo above has going on. We’ll have to forgo the patterned ceiling for now, unfortunately, but I’m pretty confident that we can make this room into something that she will really enjoy. We still went back and forth quite a bit before we decided to go for this design—if you want to check out our Pinterest board for an idea of the process for this project, click here.

Next week (here’s part two) I’ll be sharing the evolution of the design, our resources for décor and DIYs, and some photos from the garden party and my niece, Olivia’s baptism, both of which we celebrated in the new sun porch!

Don’t forget to comment below with your thoughts and questions, and thank you for reading!

Jessie