Bedroom Evolution: Organizer Cube to Nightstand

When I got my job last year, it came with some perks, such as corporate discounts. One of the stores was Go-Organize, which was basically made for me. That’s where that organizer cube shown in the bedroom mood board came from. It worked fine in our previous apartment, which had a closet with shelves that could hold organizers and the like. Our current closet definitely doesn’t have shelves, and since we got rid of the nightstand from our old place, I just used the cube. Of course, the cube looks miserably bad as a nightstand, and something had to be done. I debated for a long time what I wanted to do; my initial idea was to build a door to the opening. But that would have also involved adding casters (can you imagine opening a nightstand door directly over wall to wall carpet? Eurgh) and the thin MDF wouldn’t have put up with much. So I decided to flip the cube on it’s side and add a hinged top.

I had some leftover wood from the mirror project, so I cut it down to size. It took ages. I think I might be in the market for a power saw, people.

hand saw wood

The organizer cube itself came apart easily, so I sanded down each side, and used one of the shelf inserts as a base for the planks. This insert was even thinner than the sides, so the planks came in really handy when it was time to screw in the hinges.

different size screwsCatniss screw


Catniss was terribly interested in the screws.

The screws that came with the hinge set were too long for the thin MDF, so I substituted shorter ones I had for the side that would go into the cube itself.

This part was a bit of a nightmare. Drilling in the holes was easy enough (you just tape off the drill bit where it should stop i.e. the length of the screw), but I somehow got my measurements wrong on the shelf insert/future nightstand top.

Hinges go in

You can see in that photo I’d already glued the planks on. I simply aligned them to make sure things were more or less right – I say more or less because hand sawing is far from accurate, and some of my cuts were a little angled. I also think the planks moved a little when I glued them, resulting in all four being slightly off, but it wasn’t too bad. Also for those of you wondering – I plan on storing things in here that won’t be used frequently, so the hinged door won’t necessitate constant displacement of whatever’s on top.

My next hurdle came in the form of painting/sealing. Staining the wood planks went perfectly smoothly, I used the same Minwax Provincial as I did for the mirror. I debated over the paint color for ages. I thought of making it a really deep purple to complement the headboard, but I slowly started dreaming up different color schemes for the room itself. More on that later.

I finally settled on Sherwin Williams Grays Harbor (though I did get a sample of Black Swan as well, a wonderfully deep, rich, purple). What my sleep-deprived, post-workday brain didn’t notice until I got home is that the paint store guy thought I was pointing to the color a step down from Grays Harbor – Dark Night. At first I went with it, it’s a pretty gorgeous color, and on the paint chip it reads a deep navy with hints of green. It looked really good painted on as well (I failed to take photos here). Then I tried sealing everything. Here’s a tip: when you read about expensive but good quality brushes for polyurethane or polycrylic, DON’T assume that a cheaper brush will do. The polycrylic went on decently over the stained wood, but got horribly streaky over the paint. Part of it, I think, was also due to some of the texture of the nightstand itself. I ended up hating how the sealed paint looked, so I sanded everything down to the first coat.

At this point I figured what the hell, and went out and got myself a sample (a quart!) of Grays Harbor. It went on like a dream, and looked gorgeous. And then, after a week of ignoring my project other than sniffing around a bit, one of the cats – Catniss of course – decided to jump in and knock it off the stool. A bottom corner was chipped – not just the paint, mind – and there were two giant scratches on the side.

By then, I really wished I’d bought a nightstand from Target. Hence the photography post from Monday.

I slept on it, and the next day, touched it up and sealed it with finishing wax rather than polycrylic. I also knew from the beginning that the front of the nightstand would look too plain without some sort of hardware or accent, so I added some nailhead trim. And finally, finally, it worked out.

Sherwin Williams Grays Harbor Nightstand

You can see from the shadow that the planks aren’t aligned perfectly, and the nailhead trim is a little wonky (next time I think I’ll go for upholstery nails throughout rather than the pre-made ribbon of trim), but I love it. The gray looks perfect against our walls and the top looks gorgeous.

Catniss polycrylic planked nightstand

All in all, this project really took some work but hey, I have stronger arms for it and a story to tell. And of course, a beautiful nightstand.

knubbig nightstand

xo, Rucha


Through the Lens: April 7, 2014

Sometimes DIY can be incredibly frustrating, even when the project isn’t too big. More so when you’re blogging about it and set deadlines for yourself. Ever since I posted about updates in our bedroom, I’ve been trying to figure out what to do with that awful storage cube thing. I had a few ideas, but I kept running over them again and again. When I finally got to working on it, I ran into some issues half-way.  I’ll post about that soon enough, but this weekend, I decided to just let that project be for a few days, and focus on my camera.

mussel rock beach sunset

I went out to Mussel Rock Beach a couple weeks ago with a photography group, to do sunset photography for the first time, and worked on those photos this past weekend. Photography can be an equally frustrating hobby, but sitting through the cold, taking hundreds of photos just to end up with a couple good ones…it’s all worth it when you step back and appreciate how beautiful nature is, and how incredible it is to be able to capture it. It’s landscapes like these that allow me to take a breather, re-energize and be newly motivated to tackle my projects.

mussel rock beach sunset

April Foolery

I’ve always been too lazy to carry out a truly elaborate April Fool’s Day prank. I also tend to appreciate the simple ones, like the one my coworker completely got me with (pretend you have brownies for everyone and offer up a plate that has a brown “E” on it. I was left miserably brownie-less.) But when I was staring at our blank living room wall trying to figure out how to spruce it up, I thought of the perfect prank. Decor-wise, I was thinking of creating a gallery wall with some of our photography, and any artwork our roommate might pick. Prank-wise, well, I still wanted a gallery wall, but a slightly different one. Now that I’ve done it, I can share it with the internet!

I’ve known my roommate since freshman year of college, and we’re good friends, which is why our living situation works. It doesn’t hurt that he and Matt get along really well. But still, it can’t be fun living with a couple (married, no less) at times. So this morning, I got a whole bunch of photos printed – couple-y photos, and photos of our cats. Some of them had our friends and family, but I was careful to make sure our roommate wouldn’t be in a single one. When he got home, he was greeted with this:

Gallery wall, april fool


Now, our roommate is incredibly understanding and supportive of my desire to change things around the apartment. As long as it doesn’t get in his way, it’s all good. So initially, he just figured, “Oh cool, she decorated, and hey, I recognize some of these!” That kind of turned into the dawning realization that this was the decorating choice of third wheel nightmares. I knew he wouldn’t say anything for a couple of days at least so I eventually let him in on it, mainly because I’m unaware of the concept of patience.

And that’s how I managed to score two pranks today. Oh wait, right, I freaked Matt out with this.

So, that wall. It looks so much better with artwork/photos on it, doesn’t it?

Gallery wall living room

Of course, it’ll look better with larger framed art, the prank gallery wall looks kind of dinky. The piece of art sitting on top of the bookcase was actually a wedding present from my dad’s uncle, who’s an artist, so I’ll be adding it to the plan. The clock is something I got from the Iluxo shop on, and I absolutely love it.

iluxo, SF modern wall clock, laser cut

It’s laser-cut wood, and can be wall-mounted. I love it when framed art arrangements are broken up by other interesting details, and I think this will be perfect for that. I’m also not fond of gallery walls that are far too cluttered (in my eyes). Here are some that I think are really tastefully done:

This one includes the thermostat, which I would love to do if ours weren’t so close to the door:

xo, Rucha

Bedroom Evolution: Mood Board

I hoped to have a completed painted room by the time I wrote this, but when both you and your partner have full time jobs (Matt even worked this weekend) and busy weekends, it’s a little hard to do. Our Saturday focused on painting and pretty much my least favorite part was getting the painter’s tape around all our trim and outlets. It was also my first time doing it, so I went a lot slower than Matt would have liked, so I told him to relax while I finished up taping. I couldn’t reach the ceiling with our small step stool, but he figured he could work without it. Which brings us to the current beige-grey stripe below the ceiling that’s been driving me insane for the last 2 days.

I didn’t take a picture of the stripe because I’m trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, but here’s a glamor shot (notof me mid-paint job:


I think you can actually see a bit of the stripe on the upper right hand corner. At least it distracts from my extremely weird angle.

Anyway, since we haven’t quite finished up painting, I turned my attention to the other things that need fixing up in this room. Well apart from the carpet, which is another thing I try to pretend doesn’t exist.

Last week I fixed up our mirror, as you can see in the above picture, our headboard is upholstered. It’s called Cascade in Agate and has hints of purplish-navy, lavender, various grays and lime. The lime looks pretty faint for the most part so it doesn’t clash with our mint walls, and the focus remains on the purples/blues and grays. Since we have a deep brown stained wooden mirror frame and a gray-brown Hemnes desk, I want to stick with somewhat classic furniture and decor. Which means I need to get rid of this MDF monstrosity that’s been doubling as my nightstand for the past couple of months:

Storage Cube

Adding the to utter blah of it all are these black out curtains:


I know they look kind of mauve, but they’re really kind of olive-brown. Now, the fact that they’re black out curtains is fantastic, because they cover up a full glass patio door that our neighbors can watch us sleep through. As can the people living in the building next door. But I hate the color, and I hate how they let in absolutely no light if I want the slightest bit of privacy.

I wasn’t kidding when I said the room needed some love.

Safe to say I’ve been going over ideas for how to fix up my not-quite-a-nightstand, and what I really want to do about the curtains. The carpet is unfortunately something I’ll have to deal with because we live in a rental. So I whipped up a mood board (and by whipped up I mean I finally learned how to make one, hooray for new skills) so I could get my ideas together.

Mood Board Mint Walls Decor

I’m toying with adding both venetian wood blinds and curtains, and I love the pattern and style, it’s one of Kate Riley (Centsational Girl)’s fabrics on Spoonflower, but I’m not sure I’m sold on the gray. I also prefer the brown Lindmon blinds at Ikea, but they’d defeat the purpose of switching out the curtains, while white ones would brighten up the room.

I think tackling the nightstand might just be my next step, while I mull over everything else!

xo, Rucha

Bedroom Evolution: Color Therapy

A few days ago I shared my mirror framing project and showed how it looks in our bedroom. The thing about our bedroom is – I like it, but I don’t love it. It’s cozy, decent-sized and has a door leading to the patio. But it has a door on each corner - patio door, bathroom door, bedroom door and closet door – which ends up limiting space in terms of furniture and decor. It also doesn’t get much natural light (the door to the patio is the only “window” and it has blackout curtains since our neighbors can see inside otherwise), and is painted a grey/tan color. I think. Honestly, I still can’t really tell what the paint color is but all in all, the room gets kind of cave like. And since I have a desktop computer, I can’t just take my work/internet browsing to our far brighter living room, which can get a bit depressing.

Looks pretty greige

Looks pretty greige to me

What I do love, is that we have landlords who don’t mind us painting our room. I’ve never had a rental experience that allowed me to paint so needless to say I’m psyched. I’ve also never painted a room before, so while Matt insists that it’s a pain, I’m still excited. I’ll probably curse this whole idea when we actually get to it, because I’m sure he’s right.

Our initial plans were to paint it a light lavender/purple shade, something that would complement the purple and gray in the headboard and pillow. I also wanted to paint the walk-in closet mint to make it a little brighter. My inspiration was the Kitchen Makeover at Two Twenty One, which showed up in my Google search for mint rooms:

Mint Condition Two Twenty One Blog

When I suggested the mint closet idea to Matt, he decided he loved the idea of mint for the whole room, which I was totally okay with. After looking at a bunch of Sherwin Williams swatches, we ended up going with Mint Condition (the same one used in the above makeover). Part of the reason I picked the deep stain for the mirror frame was because I figured the deep tone would go beautifully with the airy mint.

The walls of our room are also a little bare at the moment, and we’ve been meaning to get something to hang above our headboard. We picked out an stretched canvas print of Carolyn Renolds’ Golden Forest because of the beautiful golden colors and the hint of blue-green sky that I think will go wonderfully with the new wall color:

Golden Forest canvas

We picked the art out before pinning down a paint color, so it factored into our decision. I briefly debated DIYing some art at first but I’m really glad we picked this print out instead. I doubt I could recreate anything along those lines!

We’re planning on painting the room this weekend, so I’ll post with updates!

xo, Rucha

Bedroom Evolution: Mirror Mirror

This past week, I finally conquered my fear of working with wood after drooling over the beautifully stained bar over at Jenna Sue Designs. Difference is, I live in an apartment and have a hand saw, rather than an awesome power saw. Which is precisely why that saw has been sitting in a trunk for the better part of two months and I’ve been putting off any project ideas I’ve had. But last week I finally decided to get started on giving our bedroom a little love, beginning with our mirror.

mirror frame makeover - before

We got this mirror right before our wedding last year because I realized we had no full-length mirrors and I really needed one to get ready on the big day! It’s just a standard mirror with a cheap plastic frame and when we moved into our current apartment in January, I just stood it up next to the bed. The frame was really starting to bother me though, and I considered getting it reframed before deciding it would be a fun DIY woodworking project to start with.  I went to our neighborhood hardware store after work (a block away, so convenient!) and got a couple of cheap 1×4 planks. They weren’t in the best shape but I didn’t want to risk good quality wood in this initial venture. Plus, I thought a slightly weathered looking frame might work out well.

So I brought the planks home and got to work sawing. Matt was working from home that day – which was great because I was able to get his help. Hand-sawing wood is hard, and he’s a lot stronger than I am. I did most of it myself but caved in to his offer to help by the last cut. I made straight cuts rather than mitered cuts; I could have gotten myself a miter box but I wanted the frame to look a little boxy.

Mirror frame glued

I used tape instead of clamps for this and it seemed to hold up pretty well – but clamps would have resolved the gaps between the planks better. I’ll invest in some pipe clamps soon enough.

I’d bought Minwax’s Provincial stain a while back for another project (which I’ll get around to doing now that I’m less scared of the hand saw!) and used it for this frame. It turned out to be a gorgeous deep, warm color and I absolutely love it. What I realized though, is that even when you wipe excess wood glue off, it won’t be completely gone, and it’ll prevent the wood from staining. My frame had a couple of blotches around the upper left seam, but overall it turned out well. I think I might try sanding those areas next time.

Minwax Provincial

Yep – I have to use my living room as my workshop, and I was terrified I’d get stain on those floors

I left that overnight and used Minwax Paste Finishing Wax to seal the stain. It was my first time using finishing wax, and I might go over the frame one more time with more wax, because I’m not sure I got enough of it on there.

And here it is, leaning up in our room!

Re-framed mirror after

I love how much warmer it makes everything look.

Like I said, the room needs a little more love, and it should progress in the upcoming weeks! Stay tuned.

xo, Rucha

Through the Lens – February 26, 2014

Part of my quest to address my creative side involves practicing photography. Matt and I got an SLR camera last July, since we both wanted to pursue photography as a hobby. I thought a “Through the Lens” series would be great for non-decor/DIY days, so here goes.

I love cities, always have. I was born in Mumbai and raised in Singapore so really, I don’t know any better, but I couldn’t imagine living outside a city anytime soon. What I love about San Francisco is the unique landscapes you come across – jagged rocks and rough ocean to the west, calm bay waters to the east, and a glorious city in between. In the last couple of days I hauled my camera and tripod with me and explored some of the places I hadn’t been to before.

Twin Peaks San Francisco

Night view from Twin Peaks

I love that I can go from the busy cityscape to a beautiful natural landscape without actually venturing out of the city.

Baker Beach San Francisco

Baker Beach on a cloudy evening

Definitely love being able to call San Francisco home, and can’t wait to explore the Bay Area more. 

xo, Rucha


That’s how old I turned 2 days ago! A mid-week birthday just meant that going to dinner that night was quite the effort (hey, work is tiring), but I wasn’t about to cancel a night out at Michael Mina SF.

Believe it or not, a Michelin Star dinner wasn’t the highlight of my birthday. Matt basically earned a spot in the husband hall of fame by getting me this baby:

Cordless drill/driver, Black and Decker

Oh and this:

DeWalt bit set 80 piece

I’ve had a couple projects in mind that would require borrowing a drill, and now I don’t have to! Stay tuned.

xo, Rucha

Love Notes

Happy Valentine’s Day everyone! I know, I know, February 14th is a giant cliche wrapped in a big red bow, but it’s still fun. It’s great seeing people get gorgeous flowers and people going the extra mile for their loved ones. For my part, I took it as an opportunity for some inspiration and decided to have fun with some DIY projects. Well, I didn’t submit Matt’s present to the risk that my attempts would fail, he got a monogrammed somethin’:

Chewie approves

Chewie approves

I was thinking of making some cupcakes for the occasion, but decided to do something a little different. I’ve had this black soap dish lying around for years, and most days I use it as a candleholder, but this time it gave me an idea. Why not make some themed heart-shaped soap? It’s decorative and practical. Guys love that, right?

Themed Valentine's Day Soap!

Themed Valentine’s Day Soap!

So I grabbed a bar of Yardley’s Shea Butter from our local pharmacy, some dried cranberries, and some oatmeal I had at home – to make sure that Matt didn’t think this was too girly for him to use :)

Looks good enough to eat

Looks good enough to eat

I chopped the soap up and melted it in the microwave for a minute. Because this was soap with additives and not just a soap base, it was a lot harder to melt. I had to use a double boiler (well, stacked pots) for nearly an hour, with added water before it melted to a smooth consistency. This is when I added the cranberries (chopped up in – get this – our coffee grinder) and oatmeal, before pouring out the entire mixture into this adorable mold I found at Sur La Table. I added some vanilla essence to kick up the scent, and I almost forgot that it was soap I was making for a second there…

I got the last mold in the store, lucky me

I got the last mold in the store, lucky me

I cooled those overnight, and voila! Wouldn’t these be great little gifts for just about any occasion? Best part is, you can get creative any mold, and they’re inexpensive. Word of caution though, if you plan on trying this out and giving it to someone, do your research. Fresh ingredients in Melt and Pour soap can rot if you don’t do it right. Blech.

The second project is one I’ve wanted to try ever since we got an SLR camera: custom bokeh. You make a lens hood out of construction paper and insert a shaped cutout in front, one that is just the right size for your lens: Bokeh Hood

Then you throw your aperture wide open, and go nuts. Well I did, anyway.

Recessed Light Hearts

LED Bokeh

Okay so I went really nuts - these are lights on our kitchen hood

Okay so I went really nuts – these are lights on our kitchen range hood

Moon Heart Bokeh

Yep, that’s the moon

I’ll leave you guys with a shot from our roof deck:

San Francisco Hearts Bokeh

How’s everyone celebrating? Any unique plans for this holiday? Feel free to share in the comments below!

xo, Rucha

Starting out

Here’s the thing about getting your first job. You no longer spend every waking minute worrying about being unemployed and secretly cursing your choice of major, and you suddenly have this thing called a disposable income. Ok, so maybe it’s the thing about having a likeable first job. Point is, there’s more room in your life to pursue your hobbies – or even find new ones. And for those of you who managed to pursue hobbies during college, well I’m sure you can bask in your superiority, mmmk?

I’ve always been crazy about decor and home improvement, not out of any real desire to pursue a career in it, but more so because I grew up around parents who were into it. So about a month into my newfound gainful employment, I started thinking back to the interior design course I took before starting college. And then I walked into our living room and decided right away that our deep gray Ikea Karlstad looked really lonely in its unaccessorized enormity. Going back into the bedroom I decided I hated everything about it (probably to the hubby’s relief, since he hated the duvet cover).

I guess I saw his point.

OK he had a point. Don’t think the cat minded, though.

You see where this is going? Yeaa.

See how the couch is far less boring?

See how the couch is far less boring?

It’s been four months since I found HGTV Artistic Stripe Twill Harvest on and sewed up some cushion covers to add to the couch. I decided to document what’s quickly become a real obsession hobby. There isn’t much room for creative pursuits in the investigations field, I’ll tell you that.

I can’t wait to work on more, but first here’s some evidence that owning a pet (or two!) means that things will always be a bit of a work in progress around here:


xo Rucha