Giant Lite-Brite Board and Costume Closet

I loved watching Angela Rose make a life-size, giant Lite-Brite board for her children in late 2020. She utilized the space under a stairwell to create the installation for her kids. Genius use of otherwise unused space, right? At the time we were living in Florida, in a home without a basement and stairs, so I couldn’t quite conceptualize how to make a giant Lite-Brite work in our home.

Enter a move to the midwest where we have stairs in our home. Lots of stairs. And a stairwell adjacent to the playroom. It’s likely that I contributed the highest number of views to Angela’s stories on how she constructed the Lite-Brite! (note: she’s since published a tutorial on how she constructed hers in this blog post).

Below is the supply list for the project, tools used, the steps and the time that it took to build the giant Lite Brite. I’ll wrap with lessons learned in the process. There are always lessons learned. I love that aspect of building and creating.

Supply List

  • 2X4 Tempered Hardboard
  • Paint of choice (I used PPG in F&B Railings – I will be using this color to repaint our entire basement this winter)
  • Minwax Polycrylic Clear Semi-Gloss
  • 3/4″ Spade bit
  • LED Tape Light
  • Acrylic rods
    • Pre-cut options – more expensive option (like this via Etsy)
    • Alibaba option – less expensive but more labor intensive option; you will also need a saw blade with a high number of teeth for cutting acrylic
  • Sandpaper – I used 120 grit
  • Fabric to diffuse light; a white pillowcase would work perfect

Tools Used

  • Table saw
  • Miter saw
  • Drill
  • Staple gun
  • Brad nailer
  • Orbital sander
  • Stud finder

Steps

  1. Order your acrylic rods! I ordered mine from Alibaba Express and it took nearly 7 weeks for the supplies to arrive.
  2. Buy your board and cut to size. You’ll need to cut strips from your board (via table saw) to offset it from the wall. I cut 4 strips off the length of the 2×4. You can also use your preferred board(s) of choice for this part.
  3. Plan your grid. I would recommend watching Angela Rose’s highlight reel to plan this out. I wanted a 2″ border all around and mapped out alternating rows of 15 and 14 holes each that were spaced 1″ apart.
  4. The most labor intensive part: begin making your holes with the spade bit. This took me about 3.5 hours. I also had two batteries that were in rotation because of the amount of power needed to cut the holes.
  5. Once you have all your holes drilled, sand your board.
  6. Paint your board (I needed 2 coats).
  7. Seal your board with Polycrylic.
  8. Acrylic rods – if you need to make cuts like I did, this is the perfect time to cut. Make your marks and make your cuts; I marked the 10″ rods into 3.33″ sections.
  9. Assemble the offset frame. I found a stud and used star screws (my favorite!) to attach the first strips to the wall.
  10. String up your LED lights. I bought 64′ and ended up only needing one package. They come with a 3M adhesive backing, but I found that I wanted to add staples for extra stability/security, especially as I made turns at the tops and bottoms).
  11. Add your diffusion material to the frame with a staple gun. I used a fabric covering that came off of one of my kid’s Christmas presents! Anything that is light in weight and texture will help diffuse the LED lights.
  12. Add the next layer of wood to the offset frame. Kind of like building a sandwich – all about the layers! I used a couple of star screws on each side. This is for kids – making it extra secure!
  13. Add the top board with the holes for the acrylic pegs! I used the brad nailer for this part.
  14. Plug it in and ENJOY your kids having fun!

Time and Money and Lessons

Embarking on a project like this takes both time and money. I wanted to have 150 pieces of acrylic rod so I went the custom cut route, which saved me around $100 total. I would still do this if doing this project again because it was smelly (you’re burning plastic with each cut) and messy, but not super labor intensive. I took me about an hour to cut 150 pieces, which included changing the saw blade and marking up each rod for cuts. It took me about another 30 minutes to clean up my acrylic shaving mess.

Cost of acrylic rods and saw blade: $208

The next biggest expense in the project was the LED lighting. This is totally personal preference and features based on what you want, but I went with a basic, plug-in 32 foot LED strip from Home Depot. There are lighted options, Alexa-enabled options, etc., etc. But I kept this basic.

Cost of LED Strip Lights: $34

Making the cuts for the holes was the most labor-intensive part. I was rotating through batteries with my drill. I purchased the 3/4 bit as recommended by Angela, but found that the holes were still too small. Enter my dad, who is a machinist by trade. He crafted a custom-sized spade bit that was the perfect size, which saved me a ton of time and fatigue! I know this is not an option for most of you. Reach out if you plan to try the project and I’ll see if I can hook you up!

  • Total cost of spade bit: $8
  • Total time spent cutting holes: 3.5 hours
  • Total time sanding, painting, sealing: 30 minutes active time (about 7-8 minutes for each step, each layer); ideally wait 24 hours for it to fully dry before installing

With paint and already having most of the tools on hand, I was able to keep this project under $300 total. The majority of the work was in the planning (there was no guide when I set out to do this!) and in drilling the holes. The assembly was straightforward once I had all the pieces in place. The last step I am taking, which will bump my total cost on the project up, is to have our electrician install an outlet inside the stairwell. Right now we’re running an extension cord outside of the stairwell.

Between the planning, painting, constructing, and assembling the project ended up being around 15 hours total over the course of four weeks. I’m not a full-time creator, so my projects are based on the available hours I have in a given period.

Oh! On the wall opposite of the Lite Brite, I cut strips of MDF that are 4″ in height, cut to fit end-to-end on the wall and added shaker pegs. Sidebar, I’m super proud of my corner miter cut! My kids have a big collection of play clothes and this makes finding their costumes much easier. Plus, they’re in charge of organizing and putting them back. #ParentWin!

I’d love for you to check out my highlights and full reel here on Instagram. Please reach out if you have any questions! Happy building!

The Rainbow Room

Maybe, like me, you have a song that personifies your child. For my daughter, it’s “She’s A Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones. (Sidebar: Ted Lasso made this song even more endearing.) Rainbows have captivated her since she was a baby and have remained the most frequent subject of her art. All signs pointed to designing a rainbow room in our new home.

In our last home she started to ask for specific functional and design elements for her room: pink walls, a fluffy rug, and a bigger bed. And around that time, we knew we would be moving so I asked if we could wait to redesign her room until we were in a new home. We Pinterested away while we searched for a new home. As a reward for her patience, we prioritized designing both she and her brother’s rooms in the first couple of months of living here.

I gravitated toward earthy tones. She was insistent that pink would be the theme. We landed on an area rug we both loved. And a shade of pink. And began collecting all the elements from there.

The Rainbow Elements

The Paint Colors

The Furniture

I’m happy with progress on the rainbow room. We have a few more major projects left, which I plan to take on over the next month’ish. What’s that list look like? A lot of trim work; overhauling a closet (why oh why oh WHY do people use wire racks?!); and improving the lighting situation by removing an ugly fan and adding a whimsical GRIMSÅS light! With a twist, of course. You’ll have to return or follow on IG to see the progress on the room over the next four… maybe eight?… weeks.

Fall 2021 One Room Challenge: Week One

Ta-dah… the mood board reveal! I haven’t made a mood board in the better part of a decade. It was fun to flex a muscle that hasn’t been used in some time! I’m very excited to be a One Room Challenge™ Guest Participant this fall (Fall 2021). I have an entire house that’s being renovated so I could see this challenge becoming a semi-annual part of my life!

Project Sources

Chairs / Edloe Finch

Table / Wayfair

Citrus Trees / Brighter Blooms

Planters / Amazon

Paint / Sherwin Williams’ Alabaster, Accessible Beige, and Tricorn Black

Chandelier / Wayfair

Mantel / Facebook Marketplace

Fireplace Inset Tile / Home Depot

Art Options / TBD… but here’s a link to the contenders via Pinterest

We moved into our home in early May and have been deconstructing this room over the last five months. Here’s the progression in photos:

Check out the featured designers on the ORC blog and check back tomorrow as guest participants, like me (!), add our One Room Challenge projects to the blog and Instagram (@oneroomchallenge or the hashtag #oneroomchallenge).

This week I’m still working on repairing the fireplace wall itself. It’s going to be a lot of foundational work the first few weeks. But I get to pick up my tile tomorrow (yay!) which will most likely be shared in Stories because I’m terrible at keeping reveals like that to myself! Next week I’ll break down my budget and project timeline in the second One Room Challenge blog post. The actual work is the visible side of this challenge, but the devil is in the details, a.k.a. the project planning and prep work!

If you’re joining in on the One Room Challenge fun over the next 8 weeks, reach out and say hello here or via Instagram. Good luck to all the featured designers and guest participants this fall!

#MicroDesigns: Window Treatments

Our house has seven types of window treatments. There’s no consistent theme by floor or by room. I’m trying to make decisions for the longer term design of our home and because I’m not a gajillionaire (yet!). I’m taking an approach of what I know works from our previous homes and frankly, taking treatments down in some spaces to understand if it is even necessary in a room.

Do yourself a favor and bookmark this post from Young House Love on hanging curtains.

Design likes: consistency room-to-room on each floor. I love curtains in bedrooms and more transparent, light feels around the main floor and basement. Design dislikes: blinds. I love my children but they are professional destroyers of blinds. Design NOs: plastic blinds. Really, blinds of any kind. And cleaning blinds is not an activity I enjoy. So, with the above considerations in mind, below is the plan for our home, by floor:

UPSTAIRS

Half-Price Drapes Faux Linen Room Darkening Curtain

These look like linen without the fuss and beautifully block light. My two favorite colors are Birch (a warmer white) and Oyster (a cooler white). Swatches are available.
Price: $35/panel

Birch Faux Linen Blackout Room Darkening Curtain Half Price drapes

UPSTAIRS

Umbra Cappa Curtain Rods

A classic with a modern take, these curtain rods are available in 4 finishes and in sizes ranging from 36″ to 120″. I’ve used these in all three of my homes.
Price: $20/rod

Umbra Cappa Curtain Rod

MAIN FLOOR, BASEMENT

IKEA RINGBLOMMA Roman blind

I get the appeal of spending $$$ on fabrics, but with young children and pets, I’m not ready to spend $150 or more on custom Roman shades. This is a family-friendly fabric and price.
Price: $25 for 34″x63″ and $30 for the 48″x63 ”

IKEA Ringblomma Roman Blinds

EXTRAS

Ring Curtain Clips

I love the extra something that ring curtain clips add to curtains. In our last house, we had 9′ ceilings so they were necessary to help extend 96″ curtains. In our upstairs, the 96″ are perfect, but I may play with adding clips. These come in black, bronze, and silver.
Price: $10/36

36 Pack Rings Curtain Clips Strong Metal Decorative Drapery Window Curtain Ring with Clip Rustproof Vintage Compatible with up to 1 inch Drapery Rod Black

The Budget Breakdown

  • Upstairs: 6 windows
    • 10 pairs of curtains = $350
    • 6 curtain rods = $120
  • Main floor: 7 windows
    • 4, 34″x63″ windows (front of the house) = $100; using white shades
    • 3, 48″x63″ windows (in our breakfast room) = $90; using the green stripe shades
    • All other windows are going to be without treatments!
  • Downstairs:
    • 3, 48″x63″ windows = $90; using the white shades
    • 2 other larger windows that are TBD*
  • Grand total: *$750

Sanity, Budgets, and Project Timelines

Here’s the scenario: you and your partner move into a new home. One of you thinks the home is perfect “as is” and the other sees the new home as a blank canvas for all of their design fantasies.

West Becomes Home Pinterest Board - Ideas and Inspirations for Home Design and Home Renovation

What’s the result of these two contrasting viewpoints? If you said bickering, you’d be correct about my relationship! My partner and I have polarizing ideas when it comes to our home budgets and timelines for projects. It’s resulted in arguments and muttering under our breath at one another more than a few times.

I have the ideas in my head, and when I try to show my other half Pinterest or pictures, that doesn’t translate well for the way that he thinks or imagines a future state. While I don’t have a one-size solution for those of you that are working through similar issues in your relationship, but I’m working on one that MIGHT work for the two of us. One that offers improved transparency in budget and project timelines. … and it’s a spreadsheet. Here she is:

This is the “index” if you will, with each room or project having its own sheet with links to items, the projected and actual costs, as well as the difference so that I know where I can flex funding for purchases. Because I don’t think this should be a mystery for people like me that are trying to update their homes, I will share the link to individual project sheets as I wrap up on a room or project.

And if you have a magic tool or trick for solving the bickering couple problems that come with home ownership and contrasting philosophies, please send your therapist’s contact info my way (kidding… maybe?!).

Welcome to Our New Home

We made it! We survived the housing market of 2021. Let the moving truck be filled, the worries complete, and a move into a new home begin! (If only it were that easy, right?)

Welcome to a first look at our new-to-us 1980s home! Our family of four is relocating from Fort Myers, Florida to St. Louis, Missouri. Only a few miles west of Florida, if you will. We’re moving because my husband’s promotion is taking us on a journey that’s closer to our roots as Missouri-born and raised humans.

You’re not here for all the verbiage, though; and if you are, email me. We can chat. Below are photos of our new house from the realtor listing.

As I finish a room – new camera lens pending! – I want to recreate the realtor photos with the new version of each space. More on that to come as we have a LOT of work ahead of us on that front!