Loving life in Austin, Texas

Nautical Powder Bath Makeover


It started at the Round Top Antique Festival, which takes place twice a year in Round Top Texas.  I found three fabulous octopus prints.  They are a great combination of navy, black and grey.  Once I had them home, I needed a place to show them off.   I’d been trying to come up with a design for my boring builder beige powder bath and these were just the inspiration I needed.

Boring Builders Beige

Boring Builders Beige

There were two major things wrong with this bathroom.   The beige walls and the pedestal sink.  Paint is easy and I love grey but have nice tile with beige on the floor that I didn’t want to replace.   I found a great color palette with soft greige (yes this is a real word) and chose traditional wainscoting for the bottom of the walls to pull in a cape cod feel as well as add texture to the space.  The greige for the wall is very light which I needed because this room has no natural light coming in.


Adding the Wainscoting…

Discussing how to do the wainscot could be its own blog, for now I will just say that my husband is amazing and we have a garage full of new power tools from this project (Watch out because now I’m ready for some serious future projects).   I will say this, we have never done woodworking of any kind in the past and this took us no more than 6 hours.  It was all in the measurements.  The hardest part were the corners, but again, absolutely doable for someone with no previous experience.  Once the wainscot and freshly painted walls were complete the room felt brighter and more up to date.


Now to problem number 2, the pedestal sink.  I’d looked online for a vanity to replace the sink all together but really didn’t want to spend $500 or more. In the meantime, I’ve been slowly updating my bedroom and one of the items that needed to go was our bedside tables.  They were too small and out of date.  I’d originally purchased them to go with a queen bed but they were dwarfed by our king size bed.

Nightstand before

Our old Nightstand


I had an idea, but wasn’t sure if it would work.  I decided to paint the nightstand a darker grey, the actual name is smoked oyster, and attempt to wrap the sink with it.  We now had great power tools to do the job and I didn’t mind trashing the nightstand if it didn’t look right.


I immediately loved the color of the piece in smoked oyster.  SO MUCH BETTER!

Nightstand repurposed

A perfect fit.


Next, we measured the height of the sink and basically took the entire back off the nightstand.  This took several tries, my suggestion would be to be conservative with your cuts, you can always take more off .  Once the fit was right, we attached the nightstand to the wall for stability and caulked the sink to the nightstand.  I was actually surprised by how well it turned out.


The last step for this project was accessories. I framed the Octopus prints, layered in some subtle nautical items and lighten up the room with new glass lamp shades for the lighting fixture.

New mercury glass lamp shades

New mercury glass lamp shades

I found mercury glass shades at one of the large box stores for less than $10 each.  Here is a another look at the completed room. The total cost of this room for all materials and accessories was $500.  Tell me what you think.  One more room in this new construction upgraded from builder’s grade. Many more to come…..


The completed look

Burlap and Tulle Christmas Tree

before ornaments- already beautiful

THE IDEA– The same angel has perched on the top of my Christmas tree for at least 10 years.   Every year, after a full day of decorating I would dust off her rumpled dress and set her on top without a thought.  This year I was longing for a different look for my tree while still highlighting the ornaments we have collected as a family over the years.   So, I started at the top.  The angel’s time with our family has past. Time to donate her and start with a new design.



THE MATERIALS– With a blank slate, I started with material.  I like the matte look and cottage feel of Burlap.  Tulle is a great layering fabric for a Christmas tree because the lights shine right through.  In addition, pearls play right into my cottage country design with their ivory natural hue.  I purchased 9 yards of creme burlap, 7 yards of tulle with translucent glitter, 3 strands of pearls, some pretty crystal snowflakes and cream ornaments for filler.  I hit the 50% off sale at Micheal’s so all my materials cost under $50.

THE DESIGN– Once I had what I needed, I had to make the bow.  After much confusion and several tears of frustration, along with a crazy mess on the floor from the glittered tulle, I’d made this.  It felt a little like riding a bike for the first time.  This is a basic double bow, I just laid the tulle behind the burlap and tied it like a giant shoe.  The only advice I can give you is don’t give up, just keep working the fabric until you get what you want.

The new tree topper

The new tree topper

Once I’d tied this on the top, the rest was easy.  I cut long strips of tulle and burlap and let them run down the tree tucking them in at the top to create the illusion it is all one piece.  I just tucked the fabric in along the way until it felt complete.  Next I layered the pearls over the burlap and tulle.  I didn’t mention lights because I have a re-usable tree (I hate the word fake) with lights but if you are recreating this look on a natural tree you’d want to get your lights in place first.

IMG_1824 (2)THE FINAL PRODUCT- Once this process is done, the rest is just adding ornaments.  This was a great backdrop for mine.  Here are several of my favorite.


Crab from Destin, Florida

Hoola Cow- a gift from my husband.  I love her.

Hoola Cow- a gift from my husband. Isn’t she cute?


Our wedding picture- this was a gift from my dear friend Karen P.





















Sweater ball wreath for the holidays…

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There is something about moving to a new home that causes the expiration date on many perfectly good items to accelerate.  I wanted a holiday wreath for my new front door and didn’t want to pay $100 or more for one already made, so I made one myself.   I am loving the sweater invasion into interior design so I knew I wanted to use sweaters in some way and I wanted a color scheme that would allow me to keep the wreath hung through January without being “that” neighbor.  Once I had my design idea in mind, I was ready to begin shopping. I got everything I needed at Micheal’s and Goodwill.   My design was to create several sweater balls in different sizes and layer in jingle bells for sound as people open our front door.

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Materials from Micheal’s

Here is  a picture of the materials I used for my wreath.  At Micheal’s I bought a branch wreath, wire, foam balls in different sizes, glitter balls, sparkly branches and jingle bells.   Then, I bought these two sweaters at Goodwill for $12.00.

Sweaters from Goodwill

Sweaters from Goodwill

Once I had all my materials, I began cutting up my sweaters into swatches.  As you can see from the picture below, the cream sweater had two textures.  One on the front and a smoother texture on the sleeves. I tried to make each swatch look slightly different in texture.   I wrapped the foam balls with the sweater swatches and hot glued them on.    The rest was just a puzzle arranging the balls onto the branch wreath. I attached them each with wire.

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sweater balls


     This project took me a total of 2 hours once I had the materials.  I love the outcome!  Can’t wait to tackle the rest of the front porch for the holidays!

The finished product

The finished product

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Tackling stripes. Adding depth to game room walls


In my last post, I showed you one of the pieces we put into our game room.  Before we began to fill it with furniture, I wanted to make the walls more interesting than “builder’s beige”.   Truthfully, I love the color we selected but too much on a large long wall does not give the room much depth.  I’d done stripes in a bedroom before and was ready to tackle it in a larger space.   Here is a before picture.



First- we had to tape.  We decided how wide we wanted each stripe and divided it into the height of the wall.  Then we slowly stuck on the tape measuring constantly as we went.  NOTE- if you are using your current paint color, you will only be painting inside the lines.  You have to account for this when measuring.  In other words, measure to the inside of your line from the top AND the bottom!  This is the longest process.  Relax and take your time.


Once our lines were in place, we went to the store and bought a nice cream paint color.  I wanted a contrast and thought cream would be great.  But when we got it on the wall, it was too much contrast.  The cream is the picture below on the left.  It was looking a little bit juvenile- too obvious.  So, we went to Sherwin Williams, to use the same paint the builder used.  We picked the color that was on the same color card as our current color, and we went with the one that was just one shade lighter on the card. This ensured that we’d get a more subtle contrast.  Can you see the difference in these two pictures?



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imageMuch better right?  Once we had the right color, we breezed through the room and were done within an hour.  Because we used frog tape, a great brand I highly recommend, there was literally no touch up needed at all!  Here are a couple after pictures.  More on the game room to come next weekend!


Cheers- updating an old bar with pennies.

Penny Bar Top

I found this bar on craigslist for $30. It was not the color I was looking for but it was solidly built and a great shape.  I loved the brass bar detail on the front.  That alone was worth the $30!


We immediately got to work sanding it down and refinishing it.  My husband, Chris, added decorative wood to the front to create some depth.  I wanted a solid look while still showing some grain so we picked a dark stain and used two coats.


It was already looking much better!  However, I needed to take it from a piece you could buy at any furniture store to a one of a kind piece.  So I went to the bank.


I got Pennies-  One thousand of them to be exact.  I did not measure- this resulted in 2 trips to the bank.  My advice is do your measurements before getting the pennies you need for your project. Once I had the pennies I needed,  I arranged them on the top of the bar, used older oxidized pennies for the B.  I wanted shiny new pennies for my design so the bank was the best resource for new.  But old pennies can work just as well.  Select your pattern and create.   It’s a very inexpensive design element.  You don’t have to stick to bar tops with pennies.  I’ve also seen penny accent walls and beautiful penny floors!

The last step was the epoxy.  Easy to find at any hardware store.  Warning!  Its a very sticky process that must be timed.  I suggest having a buddy with you.  Its a little hard to do on your own.  Other than the stickiness, the process is easy, most kits come with great instructions.  I will give you one tip the instructions do not mention.  Air bubbles arise while the epoxy is settling and drying.  Use direct heat to make them pop so you ensure a flat surface.  I used a long lighter, like you’d use to light a fire.  I did that process about 5 times, every 15 minutes until the epoxy hardened.  Result- a perfectly smooth surface.

Here is the finished product.  It is truly a statement piece for my game room. Total cost with epoxy, pennies and stain $150.  A fraction of what you’d pay to purchase a piece like this already completed.  Cheers!

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Its baumLIVING’s Birthday!

Hello!  baumLIVING is about creating a personal space that is true to you.  I like to spend my weekends knee deep in some kind of home project.  I believe that a space can be refreshed without spending a lot of money.  It just takes imagination and sweat equity.  Here, I will share my projects with you, both the misses and the wins.  Hope this blog helps inspire you to get creative, appreciate what you’ve got to work with and not be afraid to tear things apart sometimes to renovate it!