A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The hall bathroom is mainly used by our 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. But often, it is used by guests. Almost 3 years after moving in, the bathroom was still builder-white.

With two little people using the bathroom, the walls were starting to look dingy from wet hands and water splatter on flat white paint.

The bathroom needed a satin-finish paint job to protect the walls and clean it up.

Plus, with a colicky baby keeping us home more than usual, I needed a project.


With a start and finish.

And I roped my husband into it when a simple paint job became a slightly larger project. We picked out navy paint for the space, but navy was just too dark for the window-less bathroom.

To keep the space bright, and protect walls from the wear and tear that is inflicted by small children, we decided to add white bead board.

Home Depot carries this two-foot width bead board product with pre-cut grooves to fit seams together. We needed just 5 two-foot boards for our small bathroom. We spent $35 on bead board and under $10 on chair rail and caulking.

The spendy part of this project was the paint. Sherwin Williams matched the white paint to our existing trim. One gallon of satin Super Paint along with velour rollers for an ultra-smooth finish was $50, even with a $10 off coupon!


But now we have enough high quality white paint to use for our future mud room lockers and bead board border.

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

We taped and painted the navy color during nap time one day.  My husband spent half a day working on the bead board. And I spent one more nap time applying two coats of white paint to the bead board.





Paint completed, we just needed a few finishing touches.

A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

We found the wooden ‘Splash’ sign for $15 at Home Goods. You can find something similar from this Etsy shop.




A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The wooden Whale was found on clearance for $7 at Hobby Lobby.




A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

Hand towels are hung using $9 wooden fish hangers from Marshalls.







A Kid And Guest Friendly Nautical Themed Bathroom | thisgratefulmama.com

The space was completed with the Wave Blue shower curtain from Target. Usually $17, we paid $14 using a 20% off Cartwheel deal.







It’s amazing how just one little project can make you feel energized…and ready for the next one.


Master Bedroom Update: A Promised Picture

A friend reminded me that I still owe a photo of our newly painted bedroom.

And she’s right.

The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision came with a promise for a photo the following week.

Here we are over a week later. Still, no photo.

My bad.

It is time to make good on that promise. However, it makes sense to me that you should first see a ‘before’ photo. Our old bedroom was best described by my husband when we were preparing to paint – “Now we finally won’t look like renters”.

Bedroom BEFORE

White, bare walls, worn out 7-year-old bedding and mismatched furniture DID make us look like renters.

But renters we are not. God willing, we plan to live here for a very long time.

Fresh paint, new curtains and a Groupon-bought comforter – now our bedroom finally feels like it’s ‘ours’. And it’s always great when it doesn’t break the bank.

As promised, here’s a photo of the painted room and an up-close photo of the curtains we kept after all that indecision (thank you, Target).Bedroom Update


Yes, our new blue walls are still mostly bare, and we still have mismatched furniture. I’m OK with it for now.

Like our Dining Room update last year, we do our decorating with budget-in-mind. We have a low-cost plan to finish this bedroom that includes a DIY headboard, possibly a DIY overhead light, painting our dresser, and creating or using artwork we already have.

I’m looking forward to completing and sharing these projects sometime later on this summer.

Happy Decorating!


Master Bedroom Update: The Great Paint and Curtain {In}Decision

A few weeks ago I casually mentioned to my husband that I was thinking about painting one of our bedroom walls dark blue.

Surprisingly, he liked the idea. In fact, he liked it so much, he was ready to go pick out paint (in the store without bringing any swatches home) and paint our bedroom and bathroom – immediately.

His response was so overwhelmingly supportive, it left me reeling. So there I stood, glad he was on board, but feeling rushed. Flustered, I managed to stammer…wait…but…we…need…SAMPLES!

Let’s just say he and I do things a little differently. Knowing me well, he graciously agreed to slow down and let me take a little time to be as certain as he was.

I’m all about taking action – but I do need to perseverate on things like paint colors for a while.

For me, selecting paint calls for a period of indecision. It doesn’t help that the last time we bought paint at the store without bringing samples home, our bathroom paid the price and was painted a dreadful sea-foam green that made YOU look sea-foam green when you looked in the mirror. Not flattering, and not our best choice – the 70s decor was not quite what we were going for.

One week and three trips worth of paint swatches later, we finally agreed upon and purchased paint.


See that pile of paint swatches? That is the evidence of one very indecisive wife. Nothing like a pile of 100 or more choices to promote a quick decision, right? Home Depot may prefer I choose my paint elsewhere – I’m fairly certain those paint swatches don’t grow on trees…

Two late nights of painting after the kids went to bed, and we finished our bedroom and bathroom.


We love it.

What a relief.

Then, our attention (or rather, my attention) turned to curtains. We went to one store, found curtains we both liked and brought them home.

Easy -peasy.

They hung for one day before I decided I hated them and could not live with them.

Now, I claim to like curtains. Or rather, I think I like curtains – until I go to the store and look at actual curtains.

I realize people have widely different tastes and that my taste may be strange. BUT, has anyone noticed just how many UGLY curtains are for sale? And when I say ugly, I mean hideous. Have some of these curtains been in the store since 1980?


Can someone tell me WHO pays actual money to hang these curtains in their house?

Defeated after scouring the web, I decided I needed to see them in person. To touch them.

So, being the certifiably crazy person that I am,  I dragged our 2 and 4-year-old children to a curtain hunting, snack-eating-for-entertainment marathon – Kohls, Home Depot, JC Penny, Lowes, Gordmans, Marshalls, Home Goods, Target, Walmart, Macys…and a few more.

As it turns out – despite saying I like curtains…I don’t really like curtains, in-the-fleshfabric.

Picky, picky.

The marathon produced 8 options. Being the indecisive girl that I am…I bought one of each. Thankfully, 4 choices were eliminated easily. Cute in the store – but not here.

The Great Curtain InDecision

That left 4 curtains to hang up and stare at. For days. And days.

Finally, we agreed. And, when my parents came over, they picked the same one without any coaching.



Now I need to return them all before I have second thoughts.

Maybe I’ll show the room next week 🙂

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

So I had these two problems that seemed unrelated…

Problem One:

We’ve been having a bit of a storage problem in our house. I bought this cloth basket with the intent of using it for either library books or blankets. I’ve tried using it for many things, and have stuffed many-a-library book into it.

Not Big Enough

Unfortunately, it is simply not big enough to really be functional – even though I wish it was.  So, it has been demoted to hold kids dress-up clothes until I find another functional use for it.

Back at square one, I am still in need of a storage solution to put under my living room end table for books or blankets.

Problem Two:

I like to use beverage dispensers when I host a large gathering – but I have no stands. I am always scrounging around before we host…for something, anything, that will raise the dispensers off of the counter.

Why not buy one? The sticker shock. Not only are they expensive,but they also serve no other purpose and take up space in my kitchen cabinets. They are not used often enough to justify it.

All that scrounging around for a solution always yields no results and I end up with the spigots hanging off the counter, with beverages dripping onto the floor.

Wet socks…sigh.

SO what do these two problems have in common? The solution.

Last week, while preparing to host a wedding shower, I stumbled upon this pin from The Better Half. Cleverly, they used a painted crate for a beverage station. Not only does the crate save me from floor puddles and lift the dispensers so they can be used, it also provides storage for the cups below – saving valuable counter space!


On the same day (oh yes, this project was meant to be), the email title Easy DIY Library Book Crate from This Abundant Life caught my eye.

In a span of just a few minutes an inexpensive, multi-purpose problem solving solution was born – only I wanted mine to have two colors.

Lucky me, the unfinished wood crates were on sale and even less using a coupon at JoAnns. I bought the cheapest acrylic craft paint I could find ($0.69 per bottle) in two colors, and the project was funded and completed for under $10.

I used 2.5 bottles of white craft paint, and a half bottle of yellow. White paint was used as a primer below the yellow (becuase as I mentioned, I bought cheap paint and had no idea how well the yellow would cover).

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

It took an hour to paint two coats, and then just a few minutes to seal it.

The painted crate was sealed with leftover indoor/outdoor Urethane sealer from the DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign I made this winter. Now the paint is protected from condensation on the dispensers, and won’t come off on the carpet.

I love a solution that solves more than one problem.

Beverage Station:

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com

Book Storage:

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.comLibrary Book Storage

Blanket Storage:

A Multi-Purpose Solution: Quick DIY Two-Color Painted Storage Crate | thisgratefulmama.com



This post was shared on link parties at TheShabbyNest and ItsOverflowing. Check them out for many fun ideas worth exploring.

frugal fridayItsOverflowing-Button-150

My Heart May Burst

My heart is so full, it just might burst!

As I shared on Friday, I entered Mother’s Day weekend with low expectations. I just wanted a regular day with our family, even if it meant tears, diapers and interruptions.

I did get a weekend with my husband and kids. It was lovely. And real.

There were certainly some less-than-desirable interruptions – including a 2-year-old who pooped in the tub (while both kids and all their toys were in it and daddy was outside mowing the lawn. Oh, how I love bleach!), a bloody nose to rival all others, a few time outs and a whole lot of tears and boogers.

But, there were also amazing moments I would never trade, even for a spa day – rolling down a grassy hill with the kids, (yes, it made me dizzy but made them crack up so was worth it), giggles and joy at the Children’s Museum, fun playing a new game together, and silly kids playing dress up. We also enjoyed sweet gatherings with my mom and my husband’s mom.

My thoughtful husband and children topped-off the growler of iced coffee they left me on Friday with a gift card to a favorite shop and Monopoly Jr for our family to play together (We all know the brains behind that gift…Thank you, Seth).

I was already feeling very, very loved. 

In addition, our son made a few gifts for me. His sweet smile as he proudly told me what he made and how he made them is enough to make my heart puff up.

The hand-made gifts started with a cute picture made at preschool of a butterfly made from his hands. So sweet.


The picture came attached to an interview of the preschool kids about their mamas. Below are our son’s answers but all of the kids answers were hysterical.

  • What does your mother do? “She cleans the floor, vacuums and does laundry and helps me clean my room” – PS my house is not that clean…
  • What is your favorite food she cooks for you? “Oatmeal” – yep. Every day.
  • What does your mom look like? ” She has long legs, long hair and not very long arms” – hehe…can you picture it?

Then he made a cup of paper flowers at Sunday School and presented them to me. This all seems like a showering of love, right? My heart was already plenty full. 

Then Sunday afternoon we went to my mom’s to celebrate Mother’s Day and I was surprised by yet another gift from our son. Intrigued, I opened it.

Priceless treasures.

He painted two pictures on canvas when he was at my mom’s house and kept it a secret for several weeks! Impressive for a 4 1/2 year old. Not only did he keep the secret, look at these…they are amazing!

The first he called “Volcano with flowers” – pronounced by him as “o-cano with flowers”.

You won’t believe how he did this! He mixed all the paint colors together and used a paint brush to make the volcano. Then, he stamped the flowers using the bottom of a plastic cup. He used a large Q-tip to make the center spots. He used a knife to draw the stems and leaves with green paint. Check it out:

Volcano and Flowers


His second painting is Birch Trees. He made the tree outlines using masking tape. My mom said she helped him tear the small pieces for the branches but he stuck everything on himself. He used a paper towel dipped in paint to make the grass and sky background. When dry, they removed the tape and used a large Q-tip to add the brown to the trees and a knife dipped in black paint to finish it off.

Birch Trees

My mom has assured me that she gave him instructions but he painted these himself. I think we can all agree she is an amazing teacher (and grandma). Thank you Aiden and Grandma Pam.

Not only did I have a great Mother’s Day, but a whole weekend. Topped off by hand-made and thoughtful gifts I will treasure always.

Thank you all.  My heart is as full as it can be. One more smile. One more kiss…it just might make it burst.

There’s only one way I can think of to end this…”Praise God from whom all blessings flow…”

Fun with Chalk Paint – Inexpensive Goodwill Picture Frame Makeovers

goodwill frame makeovers

We’ve lived in this house for over a year, but our walls are still mostly bare – due to a mixture of laziness, budget and not finding the ‘perfect’ frames. To get exactly what I wanted, for less, I decided to chalk paint two old picture frames.

A few months back I bought two old frames at Goodwill. The shape and details were great but they were beat up and not my choice of colors. I scored them for a whopping $4.

Here are the original frames:



The plan was to give these frames a makeover and use them to display photographs of our kids. A little chalk paint, sanding and waxing and they cleaned up nicely in a couple of hours.

I like how even though both frames are painted with the same color and style, the original frame color showing through in the distressed areas makes each frame unique.

Frame1 painted

Frame2 painted

I roughly estimated the blue frame as a standard 11×14″ size in the store. However, once I tried to put a new 11×14″ mat into it, I discovered the opening was actually 11×15″. Whoops.

Not wanting to make or buy a custom mat, I used some decorative tape I had on hand ($1 section at Target) to make a border all the way around.

tape border

With chalk paint and wax, a little goes a long way. I had plenty of black chalk paint leftover from the DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign, and wax and brushes leftover from the Updated Framed Mirror. I spent $4 on the two frames, $1 on tape, and $2 on the pre-cut 11×14 mat. That makes two framed photos for $7. Worth it!

Frame 1 finished Frame 2 finished

DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted BELIEVE and GRATEFUL Sign

DIY Outdoor Vertical Sign Collage

For some time, I’ve had sign-envy. Our neighborhood is full of front porches that are decorated for each season. Porches add so much warmth and character to a house.

One of my favorite front porch decorations is a large, wooden sign. I’ve been looking around for them, but never buy one because they’re so expensive! When I saw this  ‘Believe’ sign (by Creative Raisins), I was inspired to make a sign that won’t break the bank.

Before making my sign, I searched for a word that could be used for fall and the Christmas season. While I found plenty of great vertical sign ideas (FALL, JOYBe Merry), I failed to find one word that applied to both seasons.

BUT, every board has TWO sides! So, I decided to make 2 different signs with the same board.

Multipurpose and cost-saving.

GRATEFUL for the fall season.

BELIEVE for Christmas.

This sign was made in my driveway using a common wood board. The board was painted with 2 colors of chalk paint, distressed, and stenciled. To make it last through snow and rain, the sign was sealed using spar-Urethane. (Update: I made this sign in October of 2014  – it is now 2017 and it is still in great shape – no peeling paint!)

Online, a finished (one-sided) vertical wood sign similar to this goes for $60-$120. Most need to be sealed for outdoor use after purchase. The cost for all the materials used here was $23, with plenty of sealant and paint leftover for future projects.


  • 1 inch x 8 inch x 6 foot Common Board
    • Money Saving Tip: These go for ~$4, but after digging in the Home Depot cull lumber pile, I found a slightly warped and roughed up board for 70% off and paid just over $1. Who cares if a DISTRESSED, outdoor sign is a little warped or beat up?
  • Chalk Paint – 2 colors
    • I used Folk Art Home Decor Chalk Paint in Cascade and Rich Black
    • Money Saving Tip: Plan ahead and use a Jo-Ann’s 50%-off coupon on the Chalk Paint, Spouncer and Stencils. Sign up for their free mailing list, and be aware that they may accept coupons from Michaels. Plan ahead and buy ALL with a coupon; there no reason to pay full price, well, EVER, when they mail coupons regularly
  • Fine and Rough Sandpaper
    • For prep and distressing
  • Paint Brushes
    • Money Saving Tip: Planning to distress? Any paint brush will do; use an old one
  • Letter Stencils
  • ‘Spouncer’ or ‘Dabber’ 
    • What on earth is a spouncer? Essentially, it’s a round foam ‘stamp’ used to apply paint. It creates clean edges without paint bleeding under the stencil. Trust me, you want to use this – it saves time and makes stenciling oh-so-easy!
  • Outdoor or Marine Grade Urethane or Sealer

Process Used

1. Prepare to Paint

Sand to remove any loose wood pieces and place on boxes to elevate from the floor

Sand to remove any loose wood pieces and place on boxes to elevate from the floor

  • The board was placed on two boxes to get it off the ground (I used 2 cases of diapers)
  • Both sides were lightly sanded using FINE sandpaper to remove any loose wood pieces (helpful if using cull lumber as it might be a little beat up)
    • Don’t worry about sanding the entire surface, especially if planning to distress. Imperfections give character and makes distressing look more realistic
  • Wipe down both sides to remove any saw dust or debris

2. Apply Base Paint Color

Apply the base color of paint

Apply the base color of paint

  • Apply the base color of chalk paint (Rich Black). Not going to distress? Skip this step
  • It’s the base so it’s OK if coverage isn’t perfect. Go ahead and work quickly, but get paint into any deep crevices so when distressed, you see base color, not bare wood
  • Allow to FULLY DRY, then flip the board over and paint the other side, ensuring the outer edges are also coated. Then allow to FULLY DRY

3. Apply Contrasting Color

Layer with a contrasting color of paint

Layer with a contrasting color of paint

  • Before applying the second color, determine how you plan to distress the paint. I tried two ways:
    1. Paint with FULL coverage, then sand to distress after the paint dries, OR
    2. Paint roughly, allowing the first color to show through – see below (MUCH EASIER)
Apply the second color roughly so the first color shows through

Apply the second paint color roughly so the first color shows through

  • Apply the second contrasting color
  • Allow to FULLY DRY and flip the board over and paint the other side, ensuring the outer edges are also coated

NOTE: You COULD use a different color on each side so you end up with two unique sides 

4. Distress the Surface (if desired)

Distress the edges and flat surfaces as desired using sand paper

Distress the edges and flat surfaces as desired using sand paper to remove the top layer of paint. Use care not to remove the base coat and expose bare wood if you desire to see contrast

  • Use rough and fine sandpaper to distress the paint in RANDOM areas. Decide if you want to distress where the letters will be stenciled (I did not)
  • Use FINE sandpaper on the edges so the base shows without going down to bare wood
  • Use coarse sandpaper on flat surfaces if the fine requires too much elbow-grease
  • If you go too far, or don’t like it, go back, add paint as needed and repeat until you like it

5. Paint Stenciled Letters


  • Align your stencils and tape to in place
  • Transfer a small amount of chalk paint to a plate or bowl
  • Apply paint to the end of the spouncer and blot slightly to remove excess paint
Dip the Spouncer in the paint and blot off on the tray before 'stamping'. Slightly overlap the spouncer with the stencil and opening to prevent bleeding. Blot until paint is no longer transferred and go back over the thicker areas to evenly distribute paint

Dip the spouncer in the paint and blot off on the tray to remove excess paint. Stamp so the spouncer slightly overlaps the stencil edge to prevent bleeding. Repeat until paint is no longer transferred, then go over painted areas to evenly distribute paint

  • Press down to ‘stamp’ paint so the spouncer slightly overlaps the stencil edge to prevent bleeding. Repeat until no more paint transfers
  • Use the now somewhat dry spouncer to go back over thickly painted spots and stamp to evenly distribute paint
  • Continue applying paint until all letters are stenciled
  • Remove stencils carefully once paint is fully dry

6. Seal for Outdoor Use

  • Place the sign on a large tarp in a well-ventilated area (garage with door wide open)
  • Use an appropriate mask to protect yourself from fumes
  • Read the can to be sure you apply properly and in the correct temperature range
    • Follow the same process (see here) as spray painting furniture for even application
    • Don’t forget to spray all edges
    • The spray I used had a special nozzle to prevent over-spray – a MUST HAVE feature!
  • Apply multiple coats according to manufacturer recommendations. The manufacturer of this spray recommended 3 coats for outdoor use. I applied 4 to be sure
  • Allow to dry 72 hours before using outdoors or as manufacturer recommends

Here are the pictures of the sealed, finished product in front of our house. When I was taking these pictures for the blog, a random woman stopped her car and asked me where I got it. That seemed like a good sign that it turned out well.

Completed GRATEFUL sign

Completed GRATEFUL sign

Completed BELIEVE sign

Completed BELIEVE sign

What will you put on your two-sided vertical sign?







DIY Outdoor Vertical Stencil-Painted ‘Believe’ and ‘Grateful’ Sign | thisgratefulmama.com