Category Archives: Projects

Big Announcement: Complete Blog Makeover!

You may have noticed posts have slowed down a bit here at Leah Marie V…. and that is because we’re in the process of some BIG changes. We’ve done a complete makeover of our site, and I can’t wait to share it with you!

Thanks to Aimee at Websites & Graphic Design, things are about to get classy around here. If you haven’t heard of Aimee, well, you are missing out! She (and her team) have got loads of crazy talent! Here is a sneak peak of the changes to come (this weekend!).

Drop me a line and let me know what you think – I bet you’ll love it as much as I do and I would love to hear your feedback! And stop by and check out Aimee’s site (and awesome blog too!).

Sneak peek for the next week: stay tuned for the bathroom reveal, floor sanding tutorial and more!!


Easy Lighting Update

If you are looking for an easy way to make an incredible difference in your house, this is it! Can lights are fantastic for not taking up space and really brightening up a room, but they can be so drab. Here is a “before” shot of our lighting in the kitchen.

Talk about boring. And not-s0 pretty. The black liner draws your eye to the light, which is the opposite effect that we are going for here!

You truly would think no one would ever notice these lights, but I am surprised at how much I notice them every day. During one of our many trips to Home Depot we picked up some new recessed light inserts. They have so many options, white, black, stainless you name it. The goal was for these lights to disappear. Forever. So we went with white.

All you do is release the springs holding the insert in, slide out the old one and pop in the new! Attach the springs again, and the insert should be snug on the ceiling. I was shocked at the difference the white insert made. With a new white inside and a bright white rim on the ceiling, it looks 100 times better.

I will say, I was skeptical about this change. When the hubby took charge and said he was going to do it I thought there would be a Home Depot return trip in my future. I take it all back! My new, brighter kitchen is wonderful, and for only about $50 (5 inserts at about $10 a piece) it was quite a deal.

What do you think? Have you done any so-simple updates that made a huge difference?

Update on canned lighting here.

Sneak Peek: New Project

This weekend we attempted to redo the floor in our basement bathroom. Should have been easy peasy. So hubby started ripping out the old toe molding and laminate floor so that we could start fresh. As he got closer to the toilet everything started to feel “soft”.

Not a good sign. (Do you see the purple-ish marks in the laminate floor? I guess we should have checked on those before…)

Eventually we found some lovely water damage all around the toilet. The vanity is ruined (because it sits right on the ground, so the water got it too) and the floor needs replaced.

Guess we are renovating the entire bathroom!! So much for an easy project… And how much do you love the previous owner’s paint job??

Stay tuned though, we are attempting to make this the fastest bathroom overhaul in the history of home improvement! I also apologize for the horrible photos – the before I dug up somewhere since I forgot to take those this weekend and the after are crappy because I was in between rounds of tears due to the new finding.

DIY Dry Erase Board

I am obsessed with chalk boards, dry erase boards, bulletin boards, you name it and I am ALL about trying to make one myself. I found a frame I loved and knew it was time to try one! This project could not get any easier and leaves you with an adorable way to be organized (or leave a love note!).

All you need is a frame, pretty paper, decorations of choice (or nothing) and a dry erase marker! This makes a fantastic and thoughtful gift, so pick something that matches a friends’ decor and give one away too.

I thought the frame looked good on its own, but a few DIY rosettes couldn’t hurt, right? So I grabbed a left over sheer curtain to make them – you could use an fabric you have.

You’ll need a glue gun or some fabric glue and a lot little patience. Start by knotting the end (see above picture!) and then begin to twist the fabric. Once you have a little fabric twisted start wrapping it around the knot and every once in awhile dabbing glue to hold it in place.

You will also need a helper. Or someone to lay on the fabric so it does not get away.

Here are the completed rosettes – so pretty! Both turned out pretty well, one was more of a bowl shape and I am not sure how it got that way.


I then added pearls and hot glued the rosettes to the frame. Easy peasy.

I think the rosettes made the dry erase board way more fun! I hope to make more rosettes for some other Pinterest inspirations, so this was also a great test run.

A little shabby chic, but oh so cute!

DIY Stair Makeover Update

It has been awhile and (shocker) we aren’t quite done with the stair makeover (which we started here)! Because we have home decor re-do ADD the project is 80% complete… I thought I would share the progress and give some tips so that you don’t have to wait any longer, but I promise to update when we do that last step in the refinish process too!

Here is the before picture, just in case you forgot how horrible it was (oh and my doggy!):

Here is a wonderful close up of the damaged front of the steps. I am pretty sure there has been about a million layers of carpet here. Also equally sure that no one cared what they did to the stairs underneath, so sad.

Here is the top of the steps, you can see the mark from a runner at one time, and how sad the finish was before:

Here are the steps after putting putty in every single nail hole. It took forever, but I was over-the-moon excited at how it turned out. For some reason I thought these looked a million times better already – they still looked bad though! This is a MUST for a finished look. I did every single dip or divot – it seemed like over-kill but I promise your results will be better if you take the time!

Close up of my putty skills. I used an old credit card to smooth this on, I found it to be easiest due to its size and flexibility… weird, maybe, but hey I will take what works! Then we sanded down the putty until smooth and painted about three coats of white on the risers.

Here is the beautiful painted after shot. I could not be happier! I do think they need another coat and I am looking to find a coat to prevent chipping too, since this occurred already from someone vigorously running up and down the steps and jamming their shoe in to the riser (they shall remain anonymous for their protection!!).

Another shot of the paint after the stain on the tops – the paint needs touched up after the stain, but you can hardly tell unless you get down and look for problems (which I do).

Here is a close up of the stained steps. Gorgeous! We used a golden oak color and slapped it on/wiped it off. Very easy! We have two steps that after some time are lighter then the others, so we will go over that one more time. Only things left are to poly and caulk around some gaps for a finished look!

What do you think so far? Cheap and fairly easy process, just VERY time consuming. I will post soon on the must-have tools for refinishing steps (or any kind of wood) – materials can really make or break this kind of project.

DIY Subway Sign Art Featured on Knock Off Decor

Today our DIY Restoration Hardware subway sign art project from this post was featured at Knock Off Decor! Be sure to stop by and check out all the awesome projects they feature – it will keep you very busy!

Thank you again to Beckie for featuring our project, we hope others enjoy it as much as we do!

DIY Restoration Hardware Art

I am in love with everything at Restoration Hardware Everything. However, the price tag on most items is nothing to laugh at – holy cow that place is expensive! So every time I go browsing at the mall I make sure to swing through Restoration Hardware and just soak up the good decorating vibes – and hope for an idea…

I have been in love with the subway sign art that I see everywhere (google it, they are every where!) but I especially love the ones at Restoration Hardware. I decided to try it out, white words on a black background couldn’t be too hard, right?

Here was my inspiration from Restoration Hardware (for holy-smokes $850…what?!!?):

I wanted a more dramatic look, with the words all being the same width, just different sizes. I also decided, since this was going in the kitchen, to do food related words in different languages. So my husband and I picked out words, some got a little silly, and we went to town in photoshop.

I had a frame that I thought would be perfect so we created our photoshop art to be the perfect fit. I highly recommend knowing what size frame you are using before you do this – it makes everything a lot more simple! We printed the finished product at our local photo shop for only $9.99!!! Picked it up an hour later, trimmed the sides, and voila! Perfect knock off art for almost nothing!

I absolutely love it. So easy and so cheap! And now, when I get sick of it in two years I won’t feel bad replacing it either… it’s a win-win folks!

What do you think?? Have you done any DIY knock off art?

The Bar is Raised

I know, you’ve been waiting. Almost too long. But here it is – the big reveal of the breakfast bar and backsplash! I was hoping to wait and show you a picture perfect, clipped from a magazine kitchen but time has gotten away from me. And suddenly the kitchen has been sitting for weeks without new paint on the walls. I still think you will be impressed.

Do you remember what the bar looked like before? Check out the demo here.

Beautiful. Not!

So we ripped her out and put in a new one. Out with old and hello, baby in with the new! I decided to embrace the green (ish) hue of the counter and picked out a fancy new tile.

What do you think? I am in love. It is almost too pretty to use. Almost. The wainscotting or beadboard backsplash turned out way better than I even expected it to, and so cost effective!

We added crown molding which I highly suggest to anyone looking for a cheap way to add character to any room. We hadn’t thought of adding it before, but once we got on a renovation kick we couldn’t stop. Well, until we did.

Before and after:

It feels so fancy compared to what it was, but the molding calls for new paint on the walls to make it really pop.

Our windowsill is finally a sill and the trim detail around the window is perfection. My little plants will have room to breathe!

Simple touches and a lot of hard work and we have a brand new kitchen! We finished painting the bead board after I took this photo and the trim is now crisp white. I plan to paint the walls some sort of beige and one wall with a bright color to bring some crazy to the kitchen. What color would you choose?

Mirror Makeover

Our basement bathroom is embarrassing. It has been scary since the day we moved in. The floor is ugly laminate with weird purple stains like someone’s finger painting project went awry, the vanity is about 400 years old with an ugly yellow sink, and the walls are a blue that just isn’t acceptable. The mirror is one of the worst offenders, held on the wall with those little clips.

I have been on the lookout for a new mirror for quite some time but have yet to find a mirror I like and is affordable. So when we did our upstairs bathroom makeover and replaced that mirror, I decided to try some DIY before buying anything.

I grabbed the spray paint from the house number spruce up project and set up my work area. First I covered the mirror with old magazine pages to keep the paint from getting on it and I grabbed an old plastic shower curtain to protect my deck.

All you have to do is slide the edges of the magazine between the mirror and the frame and then randomly tack them down with tape to prevent a tragedy if the wind blows!

I spray painted a few coats and then let it dry for hours. Then I moved it inside and forgot about it. Oops! I love the Oil Rubbed Bronze look, it’s dark but shiny for a little bit of glamor.

I remembered the mirror yesterday evening and decided to put it on the wall. It looks fantastic in the bathroom!  It is slightly better looking in that bathroom now, but still scary. One step at a time!

And yes, I do in fact realize that plug is horrible looking, I just don’t know what to do with it yet! Any ideas?

DIY Christmas Ornaments

Christmas, being my favorite holiday, inspires me to create. I want to craft all day long! I want to keep them, I want to give them away. I found some “DIY Christmas” crafts on Pinterest, blogs, and Christmas books that I was gifted years past and decided one of my projects would be ornaments.

I made a few different types, basically sampling the ideas to see which I did not mess up (as much), and planned to put them all on my tree. Once I got a few done though, I could see how cute they would look nestled in a gift basket or tied on a beautiful gift. Perfect gift idea for someone who requires a more meaningful gift and appreciates homemade goodies!

The best part of this project is that it only cost about $6! I started with a cheap pack of plain glass ornaments and used items I already had to create some pretty cute ideas!

I wrapped a few ornaments with twine to give a natural Christmas feel. The twine I had was sort of imperfect: it was thin in some areas and bulky with extra fibers in others. I love the character this ornament has! The only thing I can suggest is to get thicker twine, this took forever!

Get your hot glue gun ready and wrap! Just dab a little to start and secure the twine and then dab as you wrap around the ornament. Careful not to pull too tight, it will create gaps in the wraps.

To hang the little guy I grabbed left over ribbon from my burlap wreath project and tied it on. Pretty little finish!

I painted the other ornaments white, some solid and some flecked as if it had snowed. Both turned out well and you can get super creative with what you paint on or put inside. To paint them I used white spray paint that I had and rigged this set up to make things easy:

The neighbors think I am crazy now but this worked like a charm! I used grilling skewers and stabbed them into a planter on the deck to hold the ornaments up. It is trial and error with the paint, but give it a whirl you can always cover it up if you don’t like it!

I painted on a “V” (for our last name!) on to the all white ornaments and I stuffed the snowy ones with burlap. Really you can do anything you want, just make sure it is small enough to get in there without breaking the glass.

Don’t forget to add the date so you know when you made these! I think this is our new family tradition and we will make a set every year to give and keep!

What crafty tradition does your family have?

Thanks to Bower Power for some of these ideas and the inspiration of others!