Quarantine Makeover: Sun Room Edition - DIY Distressed Shelves & My Favorite House Plants

We're deep into quarantine and like most people there have been a lot of changes in our daily life and long term goals because of this. It wasn't entirely set in stone but we were pretty positive Andy was on his way to an airline job that would move us away from New Orleans by the end of the summer. Now, with neither one of us working for the past several weeks, moving doesn't seem like an option for the remainder of this year. So realizing we're going to be here a while combined with how much time we're spending at home I came up with a plan to trick myself into organizing and deep cleaning the entire house. The trick to making this happen is to plan a big DIY project and/or redecorating scheme for each room that forces me to basically take everything out to work on it and then put it back in again. Because seriously what psychopath just cleans the baseboards with their own free will and no trickery involved?? Especially if it's a rental! Not only is this getting my house clean but it's giving me a very good, healthy distraction from negative thoughts and spiraling into a pit of anxiety. And with that, let's get into this makeover!

First, let me start by saying this room was kind of an afterthought. We used it as a spare bedroom and it was always kind of a hodge podge mix of random pieces of furniture, bedding, and throw pillows. There was no cohesive theme, it was just a place for friends and family to stay. With that in mind, the main goal I had for this room was to basically redecorate it into a plant filled, calming little reading nook and a better office for Andy. Oh and not spend any money! These are the before shots so you see what we're working with. Look at that weird freaking cable under the desk and lamp that's broken and leaning over. Sad, right? 

First project: painting!

The walls of this room were in seriously bad shape. There are several spots where it's literally peeling and falling off, there are obvious patches that have been painted a different shade of white, there were stains from who knows what from the last tenant. I started off by giving everything a good vacuum, using the crevice tool to vacuum the top corners of the ceiling where cobwebs and dust usually accumulate and getting all along the baseboards and trim and window sills. Next I went with an old rag and hot water with just a drop of dish soap in it to wash all of the walls. This was to get any more dust that could be on the walls as well as remove whatever other weird things were on there, there was something yellow that had dripped on the wall and other spots of stuff that came off that I didn't even see until I got up close. To be clear, I've never done this before painting a room in my life but like I said this room was in rough shape and it definitely needed extra cleaning steps.

Next the actual painting! I have several cans of house paint but they're all super bright colors and very little paint is actually left. So I did a call on Instagram offering to barter plant cuttings, baked goods, or masks to anyone who had white paint they were willing to part with. Four of my friends offered up paint and I was able to make a frankencolor by mixing them all together! I added in a little yellow and this bright turquoise blue to tint the paint into being just slightly minty! I did have to cave and go to Lowe's to buy a paint roller because I didn't have one and I needed it for several projects in the house moving forward but that was my only expense.

Honestly, the photos do not do this paint job justice since it's such a light color and you can't see all the imperfections on the walls a fresh coat of paint is covering up! Just take my word that it is a night and day difference!! At this point I was like wow the walls are so fresh and now I'm really aware of how gross the baseboards and trims are. So I used a magic eraser and went to town cleaning it. Holy cow you guys, it IS magic! It made a huge difference and now I kind of want to do this in every room. Since I was on a cleaning spree in here I vacuumed again once I removed all the paint supplies and drop cloth and then mopped! With everything in the room itself looking so fresh and clean it was time to start moving in furniture and working on the shelves.

Second project: DIY distressed shelves

Ok I want to say I hate blog posts that are like decorate your house for free and then the free things are cool shit they already own, *eyeroll. BUT I didn't advertise this to you as decorating your house for free so don't eyeroll at me!! Now here are these shelves I already own that I'm using. But side note, they were from my studio and honestly they're cheap AF. It's kind of crappy wood from Home Depot that's already warped and the cheapest/simplest shelf brackets I could find in black. Also, you could try this method on whatever piece of furniture you already have or go find scrap wood on the side of the road or check the free section of craigslist or use a bartering app like bunz or freecycle. So there! Back to the DIY, I was super inspired by all of the chalk paint tutorials from Debi's Design Diary. I love her videos! But as I was saying I want to keep this on the cheap and use things I already have so I pinterested methods to distress wood and found this article that was super helpful to see techniques to use with acrylics or house paint. I ended up playing around and trying something new for almost every layer to figure out what I liked. To start each board already has two layers of paint in two different colors yellow and then bright pink and each edge is painted in solid red. I documented a lot of the process on Instagram, you can head there and check out my story highlight "painted shelf" to see visuals for how I achieved this look!

This is a little breakdown of some things I tried:

-a thin layer of paint followed by waiting for the paint to get tacky then scrapping it away with a gift card

-paint a thick layer of paint but messy and just getting the paint on there fast and then immediately scraping and moving the paint around with the gift card. I loved this method because it creates amazing texture! I moved the paint around with the card until it wouldn't move anymore. Basically what I wanted was uneven paint layers where there are high and low spots so that when I use the sanding block to distress it reveals different colors. I also did this by over sanding in some areas and just lightly sanding in others.

-another method I loved was to make sure when scraping with the card to go in all directions. Cut into the paint, fan it out, just use different directions to make interesting markings. A couple of people asked me about using a screwdriver on instagram but it made too clean of a mark for me and I found that the plastic gift card was making more organic looking markings.

-in all the methods before I was using a paint brush to get the paint onto the board but this time I actually used a squeeze bottle of paint and just dropped a few dollops of paint randomly and then only used the gift card to scrape and move the paint around. This created a gorgeous look!! I also did this on the second board with two different colors to mix it around!

-I also used the side of the card when it had a little paint on it to rub against the side of the board so that the edge was also getting splotchy colors added.

-Sanding away gives the best results to me but it's also a total pain in the ass if you don't have an orbital sander and you're just using a sanding block like I was. I was starting to get frustrated at one point by how much I was removing what I had just put on. Be patient and take a step if you need to.

My biggest takeaway is just have fun with it and don't force any certain outcome. I was going for specific looks at first but truthfully it's much more exciting to just add random colors and sand and be surprised and delighted by what happens. Also know when to stop! I could work on this forever because it's so much fun. The way I got myself to stop was by installing the shelf brackets in the room so that I could lay the boards on top and see how I liked them in the room itself. I ended up realizing you really only see the the top of the bottom shelf and the other one is above my eye level so you don't really see it.



My trick for organizing and purging items in the house is to move categories into each room as it's finished. So right now I want the bulk of our books, plants, and lots of little trinkets to live on these shelves. Moving into this room forced me to take inventory and ditch what we don't need by either listing it on a bartering app or bringing the books to a little free library and also give them a good dusting before putting them in their new home. AND a bonus is that removing them from where they are in the house now is de-cluttering that room in advance before I get to my projects and redecorating in there.

Plant Madness!

The absolute best thing about this room is how much natural light it gets. It was definitely a huge reason to ditch the spare bed in here (also since no one will be staying with us anytime soon) so that this could be a lovely space to hang out and feel like we're outside when it's way too brutally hot to be outside in the summer. And to bring the outdoors in we're filling this room with plants!! The big piece I was most excited to bring in is this giant pothos that's been outside growing on a trellis. It's getting so big that it can now grow beyond the trellis and on to something even taller which is why I installed a hanging trellis from the ceiling for it to grow to next. Pothos are one of the easiest plants to take care of in my opinion. They propagate super well in both water and straight in the dirt with no rooting hormone needed which means it's easy to turn your one plant into many plants!

In this room I also added a ZZ plant (the one shown below in the red pot) another wonderful easy plant to take care of. Mine is growing super well near a sunny window so I put it near one in this room. I've also added some plants that have not been doing so hot in this room in hopes that the extra sunshine will revive them.

In this photo is a peace lily which is the oldest plant I have!! She doesn't look big (it's the one in the yellow pot above) but that's because she grew so big I was able to split it into 5 pots! It's easy to care for and is one of the top houseplants for purifying the air. Also in this photo is a rubber plant I'm trying to revive (don't ask me how to care for her, she's barely hanging on!) and a pink lily plant also called a anthurium flamingo flower. This lily has not flowered since I brought it home and it's tolerating me but not necessarily thriving so I'm hoping this new environment will make it happy!

Final touches & Furniture:

We moved in this oversized yellow chair that was in the living room to be the cozy area for Andy to study or Clementine to bask in the sunshine as well as this ottoman I made as a footstool or added seating. We swapped the desk that was in here for my old wooden sewing desk and a wooden chair that used to be in the front room. This room is tiny so there isn't a ton of room to add in too many things but most of the stuff in here packs a punch and is meaningful. I love that Andy's surfboards look more at home here instead of random and out of place.

That's a wrap on this makeover! I hope you enjoyed this! Leave a comment on what your favorite part is!



1 comment

Ashley Baker

I love how you distressed the boards, it looks so fun! Awesome job, Emily! 💕👯‍♀️

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