{DIY} Painted Window Panels

by Thao on 10.04.2012

The main wall in the nursery required some cool custom-designed panels for the window per my original design plan. I didn’t bother googling "big city ninja window panels in turquoise, grey, and white". I figured this was something that HAD to be DIY if I wanted it to look the way I envisioned.

I painted orchid panels for our wedding decor several years ago, so this seemed like the best option for the nursery.

…and it turned out better than I expected!

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor


Each panel for the Ikea Kvartel system needs to be 24" wide so buy the yardage you need to achieve the panel sizing to cover the windows. I needed three overlapping panel widths and each panel had to be at least 52" in length, as I figured in my scaled-drawing. I ordered extra length in case I screwed anything up.

panel sizing and layout for window

I cut the panel fabric and assembled the Ikea top rails per the directions and hung them onto the track. This was to ensure spacing horizontally would be sufficient. Another thing I was checking for was proper overlap between panels. I didn’t know how the fabric would behave with the paint, so I made sure there was plenty of overlap. I also planned to include a trick sun and moon show with this… that is, when the panels were open and it was daytime, you’d see a sun painted onto the panel. Then, when the panels are closed to block out the sun for the evening, the sun would be hidden and the moon would show. You’ll see…

You’ll also note that I taped the panels together to mark the overlap since I planned on painting a "spread" across the panels, I wanted to know when the overlaps happened.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

Carefully, take the panels down off the track and lay them out on your worksurface.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

The best part about incorporating a cityscape onto the panels versus an organic orchid is that cities typically adhere to straight horizontal and vertical lines. This made it natural for me to layout my city with painter’s tape instead of free-handing it all. EASY!

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

Donny picked up some flat Behr interior paint (a quart’s worth) for me to use as my cityscape background.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

Then, I just rolled it on like I would be painting a wall. It took about two coats to make sure I got everything.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor
diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

When the panels dried, I removed the tape that connected them and painted to the edges of the panel where there was overlap.

The fun part was removing the tape to see how much bleeding I got. Luckily, there were only some MINOR spots that didn’t cause me to freak out.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

Buildings need windows, so I got to work with the tape again and painted window blocks on with white acrylic paint and a paintbrush.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor
diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor
diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

I wanted the spread look, so I painted some of the windows on the edge of the panels and made sure to copy with any overlap that happened on the adjacent panels.

Then, after the two coats of windows were dry, I removed the tape and sketched and painted black acrylic ninjas to add interest to the foreground.

diy hand painted window panels with ninja and cityscape for nursery decor

When all the ninjas were dried, I hung the panels back up and sized the lengths, making sure the grey background paint covered enough. {BIG TIP} At this point, I noticed that my panels shrunk in width a little bit with the latex paint, so I gently pulled them each horizontally to get the width back to the 24". The paint did not crack while doing this – I just had to keep stretching carefully. When the widths looked good, I focused back on the length.

This part was tedious because I had to keep taking the panels off and then putting them on and repeating. I sized one panel, took it down to add the bottom rail, and put it back up to make sure it still covered the window. Then, I’d take the panel next to it and mark it for the bottom rail. I took that panel down and repeated with the bottom rail. I hung it back up and made sure it lined up with the first one. Repeat for the third panel. I didn’t cut off the excess fabric until I knew all of the lengths were even and level.

You’re all done if you want to skip the fancy moon and sun trick! To include the sun and moon, read on.

Now, for the extra fun part. I overlapped the panels again to exactly how I wanted again making sure the painted windows aligned on the cityscape. When I have the panels open, two will have to stay on one side of the window (I randomly chose the right side) and one stays on the other side. Here’s a top view illustration of the panels open and how they sit on the Kvartel triple track.

top view planning of ikea kvartel triple track panel system, open panels

On the right side, Panel 2 covers Panel 3, so I planned to paint the moon on Panel 3. It could be anywhere since Panel 3 is covered in the open position.

The sun had to go somewhere on Panel 2, but this was a little more carefully planned. I closed panels and overlapped them enough to cover the window. The overlap between Panel 2 and Panel 3 was minimal because I wanted the greatest overlap between Panel 1 and Panel 2. Why? Well, I am painting the sun on Panel 2, but only where it can be hidden by Panel 1 in the closed position. Here’s a top view illustration of the panels closed and what I mean by painting within the overlap.

top view planning of ikea kvartel triple track panel system, closed panels

OK, now that I situated the panels to where I wanted AND the painted windows lined up, I used tape to enclose the area where I could paint the sun. Then, I painted the sun and moon on their respective panels.

Once dried, the panels were ironed, hung, and the stops for the Kvartel system were in place to make sure I drew the panels to the desired predetermined locations. I attached two rods, too.

Here’s a video showing how the sun disappeared and the moon reappears when it gets dark out.

It sounds more complex than it was, so hopefully the pictures helped.


{DIY} Hand Painted Rug for Nursery

by Thao on 10.02.2012

The plans for the nursery were in place and all of the furniture from crib to dresser and glider were ordered. I needed to find and purchase a rug. In my vision, it was a large bright green lattice, geometric, or chevron rug. I extended the search to include grey and blue as they were also part of the color scheme. I scoured the internet to find something that was at least 5′ x 8′ or so, but everything I found was just not right or hundreds of dollars. I would have taken a huge chunk out of the budget if I bought any of these, but these were what I could find for the closest size I wanted (shipping not included).

green, grey and blue lattice, geometric, and chevron rug search

  1. PB Teen – $699 for 8’x10′
  2. Sky Iris – $445 for 5’x8′
  3. Land of Nod – $199 for 5’x8′
  4. Vielle and Frances – $260 for 5’x8′
  5. Rugs USA @ Amazon – $211.25 for 5’x8′
  6. Sears – $600 for 8’x’10’

I might have been able to swing the $200 Land of Nod rug, but I definitely would have been over budget, especially since I wanted the charcoal Monte Luca glider and ottoman set.

It was time for another DIY effort to save some money. I decided to paint a rug. Yes, paint. I thought I saw this being done somewhere, but I couldn’t remember where. This is what I ended up using to complete the DIY project.


  • low pile rug – Erslev Ikea rug
  • two quarts of latex paint – I purchased flat paint in Hidden Meadow by Behr
  • small roller
  • scrap blanket to lay underneath work space
  • blue or green painters tape
  • 3M spray adhesive
  • blow dryer
  • stencil of your choice – I purchased the Rabat Allover Large wall stencil from Cutting Edge Stencils. I’d recommend these – it was durable and perfect for the job
  • Goo gone for cleanup

First, I needed a rug. My go-to place for any hack and DIY base is Ikea, so I found the Erslev low-pile 5’11" x 8’2" rug and purchased it for $59.99.

Ikea Erslev rug for DIY project
image courtesy of ikea.com

The next BIG purchase was my wall stencil which cost me a whopping $43.10 with shipping.

I laid the scrap blanket down and the rug on top. I marked the exact center with tape.

I sprayed the back of my stencil with a light coat of spray adhesive and centered on the mark I just made on my rug. I added some green painter’s tape around the perimeter and set the stencil in place. Over time, I realized I didn’t really need the painter’s tape AND the adhesive, but the tape helped me ‘stay inside the lines’.

diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor

I poured the paint onto some thick disposable plates and ran the roller through it, then I got to painting! The spray adhesive really helped keep the edges down.

diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor

Sometimes, to speed up drying between the stencil moves, I used a blow dryer. It wasn’t necessary though. Other times, I just moved the stencil to an area that was done previously and continued. My preggo-brain initiated some ‘walk right on top of where you just painted’ moments, but I managed to keep myself mostly clean. I didn’t worry too much about getting it perfect and getting the paint into every nook and cranny. The rug is an organic thing that will move and stretch to expose some unpainted areas, so I just did what I could to coat evenly.

diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor
diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor

Here’s {Bruce} hanging out one of the nights.

diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor

The paint and rug itself cost me $88 and I get the $43 stencil to keep for future projects! Could I have saved a couple evenings of my time and spent the extra $70 plus shipping to purchase the slightly smaller Land of Nod option, sure, but it’s way more fun to say I sort’ve made this for the baby and I can go stencil crazy another time.

diy hand painted stencil rug for nursery decor

In hindsight, I would have done this before I got to the third trimester (I was at 36.5 weeks when I started this). Getting up and down from the floor was no fun. I’m glad no one was looking because it was pretty ungraceful.

To clean the stencil, I sprayed goo gone on the side that was consistantly sprayed with adhesive and allowed it to sit. You can wipe it off after it’s been sitting for an easy clean. The side with the paint was easy – you just peel the paint off.


Planning The Nursery

by Thao on 10.01.2012

I can’t just buy furniture for the nursery and then hope it fits. I also had a budget that I wanted to stay under and a plan was necessary to stay within that budget.

As with my home redesign and redecorating projects, I like to draft up the room layouts in WORD with a scale and go from there. I know – it’s a weird OCD thing. The nursery was no different. I drew up a rough line drawing from the top bird’s eye view of the nursery in Word and decided on my color choices.

nursery floor plan top view

I didn’t want to go with ‘baby blues’, but I do love the blue variation of turquoise. Our gender reveal party was turquoise, lavender, and grey chevron, so the nursery colors would be grey and turquoise. Donny didn’t think lavender was manly-enough to make the cut.

We went with the overall theme of Big City Ninja. I knew I wanted the cute Wee Ninja guys from Ninjatown to be tastefully incorporated into the room once we found out he was a HE. I don’t play video games, but after googling ‘ninja’ and finding these guys, how could I say no?

wee ninja from ninjatown
image courtesy of ninjatown.com

The city aspect of it was always there, boy or girl, mainly because we wanted to reuse our New York Yellow Cab Ikea wall art from when the baby room was a guest room. Here’s what the guest room looked like:

guest room decor idea
guest room decor idea

We were able to keep the turquoise walls as they were and just repaint the clean linen walls to a dark grey. I had nowhere else to use the Yellow Cab art, so done deal. That’s where the crib was going to go according to my full scale layout. Full scale? Yes. I spent part of an evening with a sketch of the layout and a tape measure to define my space. Then, I took those dimensions, in inches, divided them all by 20 for a 1/20th scale layout and drew the lines in Microsoft Word. When you draw a line in Word and then double-click on it, you can manually change the height and width of the line to the scaled number.

scaling lines in Microsoft Word

I found all of the dimensions of the furniture that I wanted and did the same thing to reduce them to a top view 1/20th scale and laid them out on Word. From there, I knew what would fit where and that there was enough space to do what I wanted. This was the winning floor plan:

nursery floor plan

For the design elements, I focused on 2D scaled sketches. I wanted the far wall that you see when you first enter the room to be the focal point. I hand-painted panels for our wedding and wanted to do the same for the nursery, so I drafted up a scaled wall and calculated that I needed to paint three panels. I also wanted some cool storage and bench seating to line the bottom of the window, so I calculated that two Ikea 5×1 Expedits would fit perfectly along that back wall.

ninja accent wall around window in nursery plan

The wall to the left of it was another blank slate. I wanted a library that wasn’t just standup book shelves, so again, I went to the Ikea website and found the Ribba wall ledges. They were white which would pop against the turquoise wall and a nice way to display the childrens’ books as art & decor.

library accent wall in nursery plan

With all of that planning, it was easy to calculate that I would be under budget with the main furniture pieces. Happy with that, we started collecting and ordering furniture which took about two months to fully receive. Come back for more details!


The Baby Whisperer

by Thao on 09.29.2012

I hope our baby looks at his white aunties and uncles like this sweet little boy looks at Donny.

cute baby surprise and shocking expression

We went to our little "nephew’s" first year old birthday last weekend. It was Dr. Seuss-themed and lots of family fun! I took a bunch of pictures, but this one has to be my favorite. He looks at Donny that way all the time.

Actually, a lot of babies look at Donny that way. I’m not sure what it is, but if there’s a fussy baby in a grocery line in front of us, Donny will look at the baby and almost immediately, the kid will freeze in his tracks and stare. He’s like the baby-whisperer. But we probably won’t experience this phenomenon with {Bruce}. That would be too easy.

Well, today is Donny’s birthday. Last year, we were already well into our 30-bar for 30th birthday bar crawl around Grand Rapids. This year, we woke up early to enjoy a romantic IHOP breakfast and went around to stock up the fridge and freezer for our little man’s pending arrival. How much things can change in a year!

Lame or not, we’re pretty excited to hang out with just us two. Happy Birthday!

dorky birthday boy


Yes, I’m Still Pregnant

by Thao on 09.26.2012

Yes, I’m 39 weeks and a day today and still pregnant… and totally OK with it. I’m not trying to rush the little guy out. He’ll come when he’s good and ready. I’m guessing it will be around the full moon this Saturday. Saturday is also Donny’s birthday, but I won’t be upset if he still decides to hang out in there. As people try to make small talk when they see me, the questions or statments always center along the lines of, "you’re still here" or "are you ready?".

Yes, I’m still here. And are we ever ready for being new parents?

Actually. I have the rest of my life to be a mom – why do I need to rush into it?

The small talk only somewhat bothers me. I haven’t gotten cranky yet, but answering the same questions might adjust that scale a little. It’s not like they made that weird small talk before I was over 9.5+ months pregnant. "Gee, you don’t look AS pregnant today."

In honor of the comments I’ve been getting randomly at Target, Meijer, and after a several work meetings, Donny took this photo yesterday at the 39 week mark. The most often heard of comment is "SHE ‘BOUT TO POP!" Yes, yes I am!

39 weeks and about to pop

By the way, blowing bubbles with bubble gum is like riding a bike too.

I’ve had a pretty good pregnancy so far. This kid must love me. I’m still walking around in heels, but the shirts that I did not buy from maternity shops are getting short. No one needs to see the underbelly. That might be the only reason I’d rush him out of there. Maybe by the next post, he will be out and able to greet you.


Belly Progression {36 Weeks}

by Thao on 09.06.2012

On the 4th, I was officially 36 weeks or 9 months pregnant.

creative way to show growing pregnancy belly, 9 months

I haven’t purchased much maternity clothing to wear, since I don’t see the benefit to buying something that I will only wear for a couple months. However, it’s getting to the point that I may have to invest in more. My shirts have magically shortened themselves and I can’t quite cover the belly like I used to. Ut oh!

I’ve been busy making things for the nursery and for the kid. I’ll be posting these when I get some time to write down what I did. I’ve even been baking. I don’t bake. He must be on his way soon.


Odd Belly Shapes

by Thao on 09.04.2012

This kid is doing crazy things!

pregnant belly misshaped by baby

Here I was, sitting at work a couple days ago, and this is how he decided to position himself. When I say, "position", I mean kicking and squirming around. He is so active these days. I’ve started taking video of the movements too. Before I was pregnant, I had no idea that mothers’ tummies moved around so much that you could see from the outside. It’s like a scene from Alien.

I’m officially 36 weeks, or 9 months pregnant now. Four more weeks to go until my due date. Everyone has been saying that I won’t make it that long. We’ll see!


{DIY} Necklace Display

by Thao on 09.03.2012

Out of sight, out of mind… so I keep my jewelry out like this:

diy earring and necklace (jewelry) display

Here’s what I did for my DIY necklace display.

What you need:

This is pretty straight forward. I found this Asker Suspension Rail and hooks from IKEA. It was originally designed to hang kitchen utensils.

Ikea Asker Suspension Rail as necklace display

I’ve placed it below the two earring displays before, but this time, I put it next to the displays. I hung it up per the instructions and added the hooks.

Then, of course, you add your necklaces. I did in color order because everything in my closet is organized that way ;).

diy necklace display

diy necklace display


{DIY} Earring Display

by Thao on 09.01.2012

Out of sight…out of mind. At least that is how it goes with my wardrobe – even more so, my jewelry. So, knowing this specific detail about my forgetful self, I went to Ikea (love) long ago and purchased what I thought could become my new jewelry display. So if you don’t mind everything out in the open, here’s how I organized my jewelry.

Enter: 2 spice racks and a kitchen pan rack.

diy earring and necklace (jewelry) display

Corkboards and sheets of mesh were cumbersome and didn’t hold as much as I’d like. My Occasional Compulsive wouldn’t allow me to hang the jewelry up with varying card styles, so I also purchased earring cards in bulk to unify the aesthetic. Here’s what I ended up doing for my DIY earring display.

What you need:

  • spice rack: I used Ikea’s Grundtal Spice Rack
  • hammer
  • nails
  • level
  • your earrings
  • matching earring cards if you’d like: I bought mine on Ebay. You can find them on Amazon.com as well

This is pretty straight forward. I went to IKEA awhile ago when I was in college looking for inexpensive decor and organization items while I was living on my own. I knew that I have a tendency to purchase more ‘stuff’, in this case, jewelry, if it was hidden and I didn’t know what I had. As a starving college kid, I didn’t want to sacrifice anymore taco bell to my jewely fixes :). So, I found this Grundtal Spice Rack from IKEA.

Ikea Grundtal Spice Rack as earring display

I didn’t use the hooks that it comes with; rather, I nailed it directly to the wall above my dresser. I actually bought two. I am that much of a jewelry fiend.

diy earring display

Then, with the earring cards I purchased to reduce the crazy colors I’d see looking at this thing, I hung up my earrings. The all grey cards made the jewelry stand out a lot more than the store cards.

At one point, the Grundtal width changed. I was able to put three standard 2" earring cards between each rack, but now, the later generation fits 2 3/4 so you can see how some of the cards sit cattywampus. Get’s the job done anyway. You can easily cut the cards down.

There you go… my nice and organized earring display.

diy earring display

diy earring display

Read on here for my necklace display!

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{DIY} Sectioned Canvas Wall Art

by Thao on 08.31.2012

OK, how about some non-baby related craft explanations? I’ve been making art for our house for awhile now so I rummaged through some old pictures and was able to dig up something to share.

Wall art can be pricey, but you can easily make your own. I wanted something canvas-y to hang, but I was too cheap to buy one and wanted to hang my own photography up. So I made this:

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

I admit that there should have been more pictures taken to articulate how I did what I did, but I got so wrapped up in making the art! Hopefully, you catch what I’m saying. Here’s what you need.


  • printer
  • printed image – I printed on normal paper
  • decoupage or modge podge
  • foam applicator
  • scissors
  • 9 4" x 4" blank canvas blocks – got mine from JoAnn
  • bamboo sticks
  • twine
  • hot glue

I had taken a picture of the blooming cherry blossoms in our front yard and wanted to display it somehow. Here’s the original picture:

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

I blew it up in Photoshop so that it would cover a span of 16" x 16". If you lay a 3 column, 3 row 4" x 4" canvas block out, the image would be 12" x 12". However, I wanted to make sure that the sides were covered with the image too, so I made sure there was at least an inch perimeter all the way around. I made it a 2" perimeter to ensure the wrapping of the picture covered the sides completely.

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

Then, in Photoshop, I cropped the same cherry blossom image 9 different times – one for each square. Since each canvas needed to be covered on the four sides (not just the front), the picture had to be printed with some overlap. It is difficult to explain in words so here is a graphic depicting one row.

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

Part of the picture for the canvas on the left is reprinted as part of the canvas in the middle, and so on.

When all of the images are printed, I cut down the paper and number them so I don’t forget the orientation and where they go. It’s easy to disorient the picture when you crop in that close. I started with the top left canvas as "one".

At this point, I take an image and pencil in the square on the back side of how it will sit on the canvas. This helps me align and decoupage in the following steps. Sorry, I didn’t document this one well. Then, I apply the decoupage on the front side of a blank canvas. Take the paper you just marked up and apply it to the canvas, rubbing out any wrinkles carefully.

As I waited for the decoupage to cure a little, I penciled in the number on the canvas in its upright orientation.

Then, I cut into the picture at the corners leading into the canvas to help make it a clean fold. I added decoupage to one length of the paper and folded it around the canvas like so:

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

I repeated for the opposite side… and then the remaining two sides and added decoupage on top of the paper. Decoupage dries clear and acts as a sealant for the paper image. I coated it several times, waiting for it to dry between each coat, and applied it in the same direction.

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

Decoupage was applied to the sides of the canvas and to the front in the same manner.

When they were all done and dried, I laid out the canvases upside down on my work surface (which was a piece of cardboard), and spaced them to how I wanted. I targeted 1" gap between the canvases. Then I eyeballed and cut a length of the bamboo to lay across each row and column. You need 6 lengths of bamboo.

Then, I tied the intersection points up with twine and hot glued them to the canvas backs. I added some short pieces of bamboo in between the gaps to strengthen the art piece and to stabilize everything.

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

That’s pretty much how it happened. Presto… I have a new piece of wall art for my family room!

diy sectioned canvas wall art or decor

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