Straight talk; what you need to know about Invisalign

If you are a self-conscious individual who hates the limelight, Invisalign in St John’s Wood might be the ultimate straightening device for you.

Invisible braces have been described as revolutionary straightening aids that correct teeth and bites using plastic trays.

 

How is Invisalign different from other orthodontic devices?

An obvious difference is the appearance of the device, which replaces regular metal used for conventional straightening devices with plastic aligner trays.

The clear plastic that covers your teeth is practically invisible, which is beneficial if you do not want others to know that you wear braces.

Apart from that, the trays are removable, which means that your lifestyle will not change as a result of wearing braces. You can follow the same teeth-cleaning techniques that you did before becoming an Invisalign user, and eat what you like without damaging your braces.

3D digital imaging is also incorporated into your treatment, used to track your progress and to ensure that your teeth are moving incrementally into their final, desired position.

 

How long will I have to wear the device for?

The results may vary between patients, but the average period is approximately from 9 to 12 months.

 

Can I remove the device whenever I want to?

One potential disadvantage, (depending on your self-discipline), of wearing these aligner trays is that you can easily take them out, so if you are forgetful this may be problematic.

The rule of thumb is that you should wear your device uninterrupted for 22 out of 24 hours for maximum effect, taking it out only to brush your teeth, eat, or to play contact sports.

 

How will Invisalign trays straighten my teeth?

The method of straightening teeth using Invisalign differs from conventional straightening methods.

With regular braces, wiring systems are used to exert pressure on all your teeth at once.

With invisible braces, every two weeks or so, you will receive an aligner tray that is differently shaped from the last. The purpose of this is to move a couple of teeth into their new positions at a time.

 

Can anyone become an Invisalign user?

While Invisalign or invisible braces can be extremely effective, they are better suited to treating mild to moderate malocclusions and misalignments, so if yours is a complicated or unique dental issue, you might have to find an alternative device.

 

Is Invisalign designed for children?

Given that Invisalign can correct dental imperfections, it can be used by adults and children alike.

In today’s world, no matter what your age, it is never too late for braces.

 

How often should I see my orthodontist?

The number of times one should see their orthodontist varies between practices, but once every six weeks seems to be the average.

These appointments are quick check-ups that determine whether your treatment is on course.

 

What do I do if I lose my retainer?

Retainers can be replaced, but remember that because they need to be remade, you will need to pay for the expense. If you are absent-minded, it is an idea to store your retainer in a suitable container when you are not using it, to avoid misplacing or contaminating it.

How We Added Decorative Wall Molding To Our Master Bathroom | Young House Love

First, we gotta say THANK YOU for sharing in our excitement for our big duplex news (if you missed it you can listen to this week’s podcast or read the entire thing here). But back to our bathroom molding….

You know we love a DIY wall treatment just as much as the next blogger, but I think we have a new favorite: the thick framing that we added to our master bathroom. And it almost didn’t happen – which is so crazy when we think back on it because we both agree that it’s one of the best decisions we made throughout this entire room makeover. And it was one of the smaller costing line items compared to a lot of other updates we did in there (gotta love when that happens!). We still have some finishing touches to put on the room before we’re ready to “reveal” it fully (like a bathroom door would be nice – and we’re also going to share a full budget breakdown in that big “after” post) but I know that many of you are eager to hear about this particular project, so let’s dive in.

Oh, and the good news is that as long as you’re comfortable with a miter saw and a nail gun, it’s not nearly as complicated as it looks.

Picking A Molding Style

The funny thing is that Sherry and I were on the fence about adding the molding up until the last minute. On one hand, we worried that it could be overkill, especially with such an intricate tone on tone tile pattern in the shower nearby. And it would certainly be simpler and cheaper to just leave the walls as they were, right?

But on the other hand, we couldn’t fight the feeling that a wall treatment of some sort would elevate the entire room – especially because Sherry had pinned a few rooms like this when we started the renovation, which really wowed us.

As you know, we ultimately decided to go for it. We’ve never regretted any of the other molding or wood wall treatments we’ve done. They add instant architecture and dimension to any space – especially an uninteresting hallway or basic boxy room. As for the links to those past projects where we used various types of wood wall treatments, there’s the faux shiplap in the duplex (only $31), and the board & batten projects in our last home’s hallway (only $57!), our current home’s hall upgrade (I think that was about $300 because it’s a super long hallway), and our beach house’s middle bedroom (which was $194 total). So we figured one way or another we’d be able to create something we liked, and we knew it would be in the hundreds, not thousands (which is a nice selling point when you’re doing a full gut job on a room, and many other line items have a lot more zeros).

Then it was just about figuring out exactly what treatment we thought would look good in here. Sorting through all of our pins helped us decide on doing something like Lindsay’s bathroom (pictured above on the left). I don’t know exactly what it’s called, but instead of a box molding – like those in the other inspo pics above – we liked the way it almost looks like recessed panels, kinda like this other picture below. We thought that detail would add some nice depth to the walls while still not being crazy busy looking. And we liked the thickness and substantial feeling of the boards.

We were under a serious time crunch to make some decisions at this point (more on that in next week’s podcast) so – and here comes some really great advice, okay? – we just kinda winged it. But in a weird way I think the tight timeline was something that helped it turn out so well because it meant that we just had to go for it and not overthink it too much.

Materials & Supplies

Our method to identifying what combo of certain boards and trim pieces made our eyeballs the happiest was just us standing in Home Depot and playing around with various combos of wood and trim that they had available. I’ll spare you the play-by-play, but we basically landed on this arrangement:

*that’s actually a 1×3″ pictured below. We bought a bunch of it to give ourselves that other option when we got home, but ended up liking the chunkier 1×4″ boards a lot more when we held them up in the space.

Base cap was the secret weapon of this project and if you’re not familiar, it’s often used as a literal cap to your baseboards. In fact, it’s what we have throughout the duplex. Sometimes it’s hard to find, so here’s a photo of how it’s labeled in Home Depot if that helps. My advice would be to buy more than you think you need. We ended up cleaning out our sparsely-stocked Home Depot and had to drive to another one the next day…. and still had to go back again for more a third time.

Beyond the actual wood itself, to complete the project we also used:

**Both of these power tools could be substituted with manual alternatives (hammer/nails & a manual miter box) but using the power versions will make your project a lot faster & less exhausting. Take our scrap pile below as proof of how much cutting is involved. And this isn’t even all of it!

Installing The Wall Treatment

Because we were working on a tight deadline before the plumbers arrived to install everything (thus partially blocking our access to the walls – which is why it was now or never) we didn’t take any progress shots during the cutting and nailing portion of this project. Well except for this strangely elegant one of me holding the first boards up so Sherry had an opportunity to speak or forever hold her peace before I started nailing stuff. I call it: Accidental Black Swan.

Also I should explain that we had just finished tiling the floor the day before so not all of the mortar was fully set. That meant we couldn’t walk on the first couple of rows of tile and had to basically hop into the room. We used a big painters tape check mark to mark the closest walkable tile (which meant: step here!) and the adjacent still-wet tile with a big X (as in: don’t you dare step on this one!). How’s that for a renovation reality? It worked though.

Anyways, back to the molding…

In these yet-to-be-caulked-and-painted photos you can hopefully still see how we accomplished the final look. The chair rail and vertical slats were all made of 1×4″ boards, which we nailed in using 1.5″ nails and our cordless finish nail gun.

We tried to hit studs for the horizontal boards just to be safe, but didn’t worry about it for our vertical slats since we didn’t want our studs to determine their placement. I know some people swear by glue or liquid nails for these projects, but we try to avoid using them because it will make removing them (if you or a future homeowner ever decides to) much more damaging to the drywall underneath. Plus we’ve found that the combo of finish nails + caulk + paint gives the boards a ton of “adhesion,” as long as you don’t plan to hang anything super heavy on them (like wall hooks, mirrors, or large artwork – in which case using a heavy duty anchor is a good idea).

We used the 1×6″ boards along the ceiling and floor to act as crown and baseboards, respectively. And then, as you can see, we “framed” the inside edge of every box with base cap pieces with mitered cuts at the corners.

Along the way we learned the best order of installation typically was this:

We didn’t follow this order every time, but this generally made for the fewest cuts/seams. Oh and we also considered adding a traditional crown molding around the ceiling but when we held some up it looked too busy (at least in our 8ft tall ceilings).

Figuring Out The Height & Spacing

I know you’re probably curious about how we determined the height of the boxes. Again, this was a wing-it moment, but two things guided our final decision. For one, we wanted it to cut the room about 1/3rd of the way up (at least roughly) because the human eye tends to like things split that way.

Our ceilings are 8 feet tall, so 32″ would’ve been precisely 1/3rd – but we ended up doing ours a smidge higher (about 38″ to the top of the 1×4″ chair rail). And here’s why. We also knew that we needed the top of the vanity and the chair rail to line up in a pleasing way. As in we wanted the counter to rest flush against the chair rail (since the feet would be flush against the baseboard). If the chair rail was too high or too low, we could end up with a gap behind the counter. We also didn’t want the vanity to cut off the chair rail in a weird way visually – like just a sliver of it peeking out or something.

Since the vanity was yet-to-be-installed at this point, we took some careful measurements so we were sure the chair rail would hit the vanity right where we wanted it. We also double-checked this placement to make sure it would relate nicely to other objects in the room – like the toilet (which ended up being nicely framed by the bottom box) and the tub (the bottom middle box creates a nice boundary around the wall-mounted faucets).

Beyond determining the height of the chair rail, we also had to figure out how to space the vertical slats. You know, how wide or narrow our “boxes” would be. Early on we discovered that the secret was NOT to create equal-sized boxes around the room. Instead we evaluated each wall individually and determined the best-looking spacing for that particular wall. So where the mirrors would go, creating one big box made sense – whereas over the toilet or on the smaller walls flanking the closet doorway it made sense to have smaller boxes.

Essentially this choice made a lot of things feel more centered and balanced and well planned – and in the end we really love this solution. Some boxes were big while others were skinnier, which worried us at first (inconsistency, ack!) but we really wouldn’t change a thing about how this turned out. It elevated the room so much and feels completely high end.

As a concrete example, if we had used the exact same spacing on the vanity wall below as is shown on the wall above (which was our first instinct), the vertical slats would’ve intersected the mirrors in a way that would made them look off-centered or askew. So instead, we created just one big box over the vanity so everything was nicely contained within it.

Same for over the toilet – one box. Essentially each wall and the items on it determined the box size and shape. So long story short, I encourage you to use some artistic license to adjust your board placement so it looks best in your particular space and on each particular wall.

Caulking & Hole Filling

I know it sounds like there are lots of mental gymnastics involved in this project, but it was less complicated than it sounds. This undertaking is more tedious than anything (Exhibit A: our scrap wood pile shown earlier in the post). The other tedious part of this is the caulking. OH THE CAULKING. We went through 4 or 5 tubes in our bathroom because you basically have to caulk every place your boards meet each other or a wall. Not to mention you should putty all of your nail holes (we like to use this stuff to make it fast and one-handed).

The photo below shows how much of a difference caulk makes – especially in softening that dark shadow between the flat boards and the base cap.

But as cumbersome as the caulking step can be, it was well worth it in the end because it really makes the whole thing look like one seamless treatment, rather than a wide variety of wood pieces nailed to the wall in a giant combo move.

Budget Breakdown

Even though this project doesn’t have a long materials list (basically just wood) – it can add up fairly quickly depending on the size of your space (ours is 8′ x 13′, minus the shower area). You can save some money by buying unprimed versions of the wood and priming it yourself, but with our deadline it was worth it for us to not add that extra step.

It certainly was one of our more expensive wall treatment DIYs: our faux shiplap duplex backsplash cost us only $31 (just one wall) and our beach house board & batten was $198 for a whole room). But since it has turned out to be one of our favorite elements in the room, we have zero regrets about spending a little more for this final result.

And don’t worry, once we’ve got the bathroom all wrapped up we’ll share all of the before & afters – along with a total budget breakdown for the renovation. Nobody is more excited to finish this space than we are!

P.S. To read previous posts about how this room has come together, there’s this one all about our floor planning & tile selections, this one about a bunch of general bathroom progress, and this one about our entire closet renovation (from beginning to end, plus a budget breakdown & video tour).

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This content was originally published here.

Our Big Closet Makeover – The Budget, The Video Tour, And The Before & Afters | Young House Love

This post is going to cover a lot of ground. Not only are we sharing before & after photos and a video tour about how we organized it all, we’re also spilling how much the whole thing cost, tossing out some closet planning tips to help you tackle an update yourself, and the details on how we made it all look built-in like a bonafide custom closet (with just $65 of wood!). First let’s get to the eyeball-related things: the before & afters. Also, please note how badly Burger wanted to be in this post. Photobombs out the wazoo.

This little room of ours has come a long way. The photo below shows how we even upgraded the entrance to the closet. See that super narrow doorway? It was 22″ wide (WHYYY?!?!?) and not centered on that wall (again…. WHYYY?!?!). For reference, John’s shoulder to shoulder measurement is 20″. Yes, that means he had about an inch of clearance on each side when he walked through that old doorway every day for the last six years that we’ve lived here. We took the door that used to be there right off the hinges right after we moved in because with the door in that opening John couldn’t get through without sliding in sideways.

Taking the time to widen and center the opening made a huge difference in the feeling of the space. Plus it allowed us to add built-ins along each side wall for a completely symmetrical feeling when you step inside. We went with a nice wide 34″ doorway when we reframed that opening, which is the widest we could do while still allowing space for the cabinetry on each side to tuck behind the doorway.

We kept the exact same footprint as the original closet – we just packed it with about 948% more function. The raw size of the closet was 8′ wide by 6′ deep, so that’s what we were working with. Why not change the actual footprint of the closet? Well, it would have been a lot more money/trouble to move the entire wall versus just widening/centering the doorway, and once we realized we could fit a shower and a separate tub (along with a HUGE double vanity) in our bathroom’s footprint, we had zero desire to steal any more space from this room. Here’s the floor plan for reference:

Another reason we knew we’d use every inch of this closet’s original footprint is because we had a goal of not only working in our clothing & shoe storage, but also squeezing in a linen closet and adding extras like a built-in hamper, a drop-zone for donations, etc. This is a flashback to what we had going on in the old closet. It was pretty much just one long hanging bar on my side with shoes stored on the floor on some old shoe racks. John had a dresser with his clothes in it as well as two hanging bars on his side (and more old shoe racks on the floor).

OMG THIS NEXT PIC IS SO CHEESY. LOOK AWAY.

John was trying to pose me to look the same as the before picture above it from October of 2018 (can you believe that’s how long it’s been since I shared this post about my minimal wardrobe?) and it just went horribly wrong. But try to look beyond my Vanna White impression at the actual background, because I was trying to stand in the same spot as the picture above to demonstrate what a game changer built-in storage can be in a space like this. Again, this room is 8′ wide by 6′ deep for anyone wondering.

Here’s another good demonstration of what we had going on in there. That dresser (which later moved out into our bedroom) got replaced with a simple white Malm from Ikea, but you can see John’s side of things here.

You can also see how the room started out with carpeting in that before pic on the left (the old beige carpet carried into the sink vanity area – so we gleefully ripped it out and stenciled the subfloor as a “temporary measure to tide us over” until we did a real bathroom/closet reno). Little did we know it would be 6 years… but dang was it worth the wait!

Here’s one more flashback to how things looked in this closet over the last half-decade. This photo was from before we moved this wood inlay dresser to the beach house (it’s hilarious how much we switch our dressers) and it’s a better shot of Burger’s crate and the other stuff that used to live on the floor of this space. As for where Burger lives now, our prince got upgraded to the bedroom. He likes carpet more than tile & Burger gets what Burger wants. Truly the irony is that he has never spent more time in the closet than when we were taking the photos for this post.

But back to the finished closet. Here’s John’s side. I just can’t even impress upon you how much we enjoy walking into this space now. We lived 6 years without this closet, so it’s not like we can’t survive without it, but boy is it nice to have an organized and customized place for all of our things. Literally everything we hoped to have a spot for, now has a designated place. And instead of half of my wardrobe living out in drawers in the bedroom (and me having to walk back and forth to assemble an outfit) it’s all in one place: this closet.

Why We Used Ikea Pax

There’s a reason if you search “Ikea pax closet” on Pinterest, you’ll find pages and pages of closets full of this system. It’s a REALLY customizable way to get a completely built-in looking closet system that can store every single item that you have in every single way that you’d like (using drawers, doors, pull outs, shelves – even upscale looking clear drawer fronts and felt-lined jewelry trays).

I shared the above left closet as one of our inspirations back in this planning post in October, but truly if you search “Ikea pax closet” on Pinterest you can find tons of them (like Chris & Julia’s lovely one from their last house, and this one by The DIY Playbook). You can even click around to see how people organized them inside. Hello, my name is Nosy.

Plus we’re huge fans of using the Ikea closet planning software, which is what we did to pre-plan some ideas before heading to Ikea and meeting with a closet expert there who helped us finalize things and put in our entire order. The rendering below is where we started at home, and then a few things evolved once we stood in the store and got a better idea of scale and height and stuff, which are hard to grasp online.

One other reason we went with a Pax closet system? We were existing happy customers! We used these exact same closets 11 years ago in our first house! We added Ikea Pax wardrobes on either side of the bed all the way back in 2008, which created so much more vertical storage and function for us in that room (who remembers this post?)! And the truly hilarious thing about John’s side of those built-ins from 11 years ago is that the way he planned his central wardrobe for our current closet is nearly identical to the one he designed 11 years ago for his side of the bed! How funny is that? If it ain’t broke…

Organization Video Tour

Ok, but now on to how we organized the entire closet. We filmed this video tour so I could throw open every door and drawer for you to see exactly what goes where, why we wanted certain closet features for certain purposes, and how we fit everything in – from a hidden hamper to an entire linen closet!

You can also watch the video here on YouTube

For anyone who can’t watch the video right now, below are a few photos, but they’re not nearly as exhaustive as the video (plus you get to see the pullouts in action, etc). So I highly recommend coming back to watch that when you have a few minutes to spare later on. Also for the dozens of people who are going to ask if short ol’ me can reach X, Y, and Z (it happens every time we share a closet post or a stacked laundry setup – ha!) you can see me reaching everything in the video. Like a boss.

I also tried to cover some closet planning tips too (like how 3M command velcro strips can come in handy!) so that’s all in there for you. But back to the photos. You can see all three of my hanging bars here. I did jackets & long sleeved shirts on the middle hanging bar, and then silky tanks and short sleeved tops on that top right hanging bar, and dresses on that bottom right hanging bar.

I didn’t do one long hanging bar because I don’t need one (more on that in the video), but definitely plan the closet you need. If you have long dresses that necessitate a longer hanging area – work that into your design. Another nice thing about the Ikea Pax system is that it’s super flexible. If we sell this house in a decade or two and the next owner wants a long hanging spot, they can just remove that lower bar in the right cabinet and boom: longer hanging area achieved!

This is more of a straight on shot. I love that thanks to having a pretty small wardrobe (more on that here) I have some really nice space between my hangers instead of it all feeling packed in there. Kinda feels like I have my own boutique and that’s one of the many reasons I love a small wardrobe in the first place. I adore the feeling of a simplified closet & the ease of finding everything I’m looking for in one second flat. Plus it saves me money and I’m not storing a bunch of stuff I don’t actually use or wear (more on that here).

This compartment all the way to the left on my side of the closet is my favorite area of the entire room (well, it might be tied with the arched mirror). It’s where I have my purses and clutches & scarves and even a leopard hair tie (hanging bar + pullout hook rail = extremely flexible storage). Also: gimme leopard everything.

Down below that section (which I Vanderpump-ed with some leopard heels and a leopard clutch because I’m from New Jersey and it’s my love language), I also have a glass shelf that looks down on my beloved jewelry pullout, which makes me feel SO FANCY I CAN’T EVEN TELL YOU.

To be able to see everything through the glass, and then pull it out and grab what I want?! Let’s just say it was worth the six year wait and then some. And see how perfectly the felted tray fits into the pullout, and how polished the glass shelf looks? I feel like this is where the Pax wardrobe system really shines.

It looks so upscale, but the price of these fittings is pretty affordable – especially in the scheme of redoing an entire closet. The jewelry tray & pullout that it sits in were $40, and the glass shelf above them was just $25 and so much nicer than a basic white shelf that would have covered it all. I mean, I feel like you can spend $65 on a tabletop jewelry box, and this just has so much more built-in appeal to me. We didn’t splurge for these fancy upgrades anywhere else, but just this one spot where I did makes me so happy. This closet is my lobster. Also John is my lobster for now clearly being able to see how much leopard print I own and still loving me.

Below my little jewelry station, you can see my three shoe pullouts. I chose pullouts because a fixed shelf at that height would mean I’d have to kneel on the floor and take out a pair of shoes in the front to get to the ones in the back, versus having a pullout that comes to you (and you don’t have to kneel or remove anything to access anything else). The main point is that I can remain on my feet and still get the shoes in the back versus crawling on the floor like a person playing laser tag.

Burger really likes my bedazzled shoes, ok?

Also it should be noted that alllll of my regular shoes are stored downstairs in our little built-in mudroom so these are just lesser used shoes that I typically wear for special occasions, which is just like my jewelry (I wear the same small studded everyday jewelry & just add dangly earrings for special occasions). That is the ONLY REASON I’m cool with pullouts behind doors. I am of the mindset that everyday clothing (like underwear, t-shirts, or jeans) that are stored in a drawer behind a door is one too many barriers for entry for me. Might not be for you though. All that is to say: know thyself when planning a closet. Only add drawers or pullouts with doors in front of them if you’re certain that move won’t bug you. For me, doing that a few times a day = way too much. But once or twice a week = just fine.

Now moving over to John’s side (again – you can see A LOT MORE of what’s in each drawer in the video – even if you watch without the sound on). But this shot is a good demonstration of just how nice some well-planned storage can be for taming the insanity of allll the different things that are being stored. Look how clean this looks:

And yet, when things are open you can see JUST HOW MUCH STORAGE, GLORIOUS STORAGE IS BACK THERE! Nice tall spot for a hamper and even a stepladder for me to reach the top shelves? Check! Hats and undershirts and socks? Check! Bathing suits and long sleeved shirts and short sleeved shirts and sleep shorts? Check! We literally planned these drawers and shelves and hanging bars to house all of the things we have – and then some!

Make sure that you take inventory from home before planning online with their closet software and then bring notes with you about exactly what you have when you’re in the store as well. Don’t just write down obvious stuff like how many drawers you’d ideally have or how many hanging bars you want. Actually count how many shoes you want to store for example. That’s great intel to be armed with to build your closet around.

Sure your number of shoes can and probably will change over time (and these closets are SUPER flexible, which is great) but going in with a target number of things that you want to be able to store is key for actually coming home with the right items to achieve that goal. For example if you know you have 12 pairs of shoes that’s totally different than going and being like “I think maybe I have 7 pairs?” and returning home to see 12 and immediately wishing you had added one more shelf or pullout for the extra ones. Do the extra twenty minutes of work to inventory stuff so your new closet doesn’t come up short right off the bat.

And now, I’ll introduce you to our linen closet! It’s essentially this entire right wardrobe on John’s side, thanks to him only needing a few pullouts at the bottom for lesser used shoes (remember, his everyday shoes are downstairs in the hidden mudroom too).

You can see where we have our beach towels and bath towels, as well as our sheets in those pullout drawers. Once again, I don’t mind these drawers being behind a door because we change the sheets weekly, so we’re not battling the door/drawer combo daily or anything). As for other “linen closet” items in here, there’s even a packing blanket (great for moving furniture from criagslist!) and a spare pillow on the shelf up top that’s just out of frame in this pic (you can see it in the closet video!). Gaining a full service linen closet right off of the bathroom within the existing square footage of our closet?! IT FEELS GLORIOUS.

We actually had a linen closet within the bathroom before, but ripping it out gave us a much more open layout full of a lot more light while also allowing us to have A BRAND NEW FREESTANDING TUB! So we’re all for removing a linen closet and working it in somewhere else if it means you can earn the tub of your dreams (and it is literally a tub that I dream about). We also have a hall closet where we store luggage and wrapping paper and a few upstairs cleaning supplies that we could have squished and added linens to, but it was a much better option for us to work it into our closet. It’s all nice and flexible though – so if someone else with more clothes moves in down the road and wants this to just be a regular closet, they could SO EASILY move the linens into the hall closet. Storage options abound.

Oh and one quick tip for your hamper. Be sure when you’re planning the closet that you don’t just make a compartment for it that’s the height of the hamper, because you need room above it for your hand to go in and out easily.

Allow John to model that action for you:

And since we’re modeling different closet actions all of a sudden, here I am showing you that the little white step stool that we worked into the closet actually does allow me to reach those baskets on the top section of the closet. Have I told you people commonly doubt that I can reach anything without photo evidence?

We have actually decided to use these two large exposed baskets for donations & hand-me-downs (the kids outgrow things so quickly, and we often have things we want to donate but no real system for them, so they sit on the dining table or by the door forever). Having a designated spot to store them all while they accumulate will be such an upgrade from awkwardly moving spare piles of things all over the house for months on end.

Also, one other closet tip that we touched on yesterday in our newsletter were these awesome and super cheap plugs that Ikea sells to cover all of the dark holes throughout their wardrobes. If they don’t bother you, skip them, but at a little over a dollar for 100 plugs, I WAS ALL IN. We did nearly every hole in here but ran a little short. There are a few remaining holes towards the back that I still want to fill, so we picked up some extra bags at Ikea on Monday.

It looks nice and polished once they’re in, so I’m psyched that Ikea makes them. I think they’re relatively new but should work on older wardrobes and billy bookcases if those holes bug you.

Another perk to this closet system? The soft close feature! It comes standard in drawers and pullouts and doors! You can actually see them in action in the video. I love that there’s no upcharge for that.

Overall, my main tips for building a closet that works harder for you would be:

How We Made It Look Built in

A big part of making Ikea Pax wardrobes look more expensive and custom than they are (for that fancy closet vibe that a Jersey girl with bedazzled shoes like me adores) is building them in so they look like part of the room.

Again, our closet is 8′ wide x 6′ deep, so with a little research & planning we realized we could fit two of their 93″ tall and 19″ wide wardrobe boxes flanking one centered 29″ box (also in that 93″ height) on each 6′ side of the closet. This left a couple of spare inches on the outside edges, plus about 3″ on the top (our ceilings are just shy of standard 8′ ones in here). So luckily there weren’t huge gaps to fill in order to make them look like they truly go wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling.

We had loosely planned to add crown molding and baseboard, but neither would actually fit in those small gaps since our ceiling was under 8′, and we decided that the other wall molding that we added to the room made us want to keep it simple around the closets so things didn’t compete. The goal was just to make them look simple and clean so the more interesting molding could steal the spotlight around the mirror and in the adjoined bathroom. But if you have more height to play with, you can see how we added baseboard and crown molding to another Ikea piece in those two posts.

The secret to making Ikea stuff look built in is to make sure you’re adding pieces that end up being flush with the doors, not just the boxes (this is especially important when doing an Ikea kitchen). The method we like to use is a two-board approach. You nail a first board (which doesn’t have to be precisely cut) to be flush with the cabinet or closet box. This is easy to do with a nail gun, right through the inside edge of the box. The white thicker board sitting across the top of each of the wardrobes below is this first board:

Then you nail your second board to the first board, which should be pretty precisely cut. Ikea sells filler pieces for this purpose, but you can also use primed 3/4″ boards like we did here and just paint them to match the Ikea wardrobe (literally just bring home some white swatches, find one that matches, and grab a little quart of paint for a really nice finished look).

We repeated this technique around the sides, first filling the gap next to the wardrobe box, and then adding a second piece of trim nailed into that in front so it’s flush with the doors (skip the second one if you’re going doorless and just make everything flush to the boxes). This is the exact nail gun that we used & we used 1.5″ nails for this.

Here’s another photo that shows what the two-board system looks like. These are the side pieces that we used to fill the gaps against the walls. The other primed boards on the left side of the picture are just part of the molding treatment we did in the closet and bathroom, so ignore those if you’re not adding that as well. And yes, John is going to write a post about how we did that fancy molding very soon for everyone asking. I think it’s the single best thing we did to elevate the entire feeling of the closet and bathroom! And it wasn’t that expensive at all!

Once everything is nailed in place, you just have the fun/tedious task of filling all of your nail holes (this guy makes quick work of that) and caulking your seams (this is our favorite caulk for this job). You can see how unfinished the seams and cracks look in the photo below versus the picture under this one when they’re all filled and painted.

Speaking of paint, after you’ve caulked and filled your holes, the last step is just to paint all the primed wood that you added whatever color you’ve determined looks closest to your cabinetry in the lighting situation that you’re dealing with (we used Behr’s White – that’s the actual name of the color).

When the dust clears and the paint dries, it’s pretty amazing what $65 worth of wood can do to make an entire closet feel way more polished. Speaking of the how much things cost…

The Budget Breakdown

Let’s break this sucker down. Here’s what we spent to make a bare 8′ wide by 6′ deep box of a room work a whole lot harder for us:

*Note: this total doesn’t include the tile/electrical/drywall repair/etc that we did in the closet at the same time as the bathroom since it’s tough to break out the cost for just this space. That’ll all be in the bathroom budget breakdown though, so stay tuned for that!

And for anyone who might have a similarly sized closet but a lower budget – a quick way to slim down this closet cost would be fewer pullouts/drawers and more shelves (they’re significantly cheaper), you could also skip the doors, and grab a cheaper mirror at HomeGoods or even a thrift shop. I’ve been dreaming about this arched one for years & knew it would tie into the brass bathroom mirrors I’ve also loved forever, so I went for it when it got marked down during a big pre-Christmas sale. No regrets!!!

While we’re on the budget topic, we got asked a few times if we considered other systems – like the Elfa stuff from The Container Store. We definitely did but for many of the reasons we outlined above, Ikea’s Pax system won out. For anyone looking for a cost comparison, this much less built in looking Elfa system from The Container Store (in 6′ widths just like the two in our closet) seems to run about $1680 for two (that’s the current sale price, marked down from the original price of $2400 for two!). When we add up all of the Ikea parts for ours, including delivery it comes to $1574 for both 6′ sides of our closet, and that includes a lot more drawers and doors and pullouts (with soft close features!) and a much more built-in look that we personally prefer.

Just for fun I googled around to find out the average cost of a true “custom closet” and according to this site those typically cost between $3,000–$5,000. That’s interesting to know because I honestly had no idea (I’m the person who assumes all the Housewives closets are at least a million dollars on their own – you know, before they add all the Birkins and the boudoir photos of themselves).

Ok, that feels like a good note to end on. Hope you enjoyed this beefy burrito of a post about the closet. We’re planning to finish off the bathroom soon and share all of that info, although it probably won’t be next week. But… SOON! And if you want to see it almost finished, here’s a huge update post we shared a little while ago. So close to the finish line I can taste it.

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Costa Rica With Kids: The Details Of Our First International Family Trip | Young House Love

We have so many good things to say about our family vacation to Costa Rica, and we were excited to hear from so many of you who were interested in a giant blog rundown about it. Do you know me at all? Of course I’m happy to write – at length, sparing no detail. Let’s get into it. But first I wanted to mention that no part of this trip was sponsored and we paid for all of the flights, lodging, and activities ourselves (thanks in part to a lot of saved credit card points that covered all but $219 of our flights and lodging!).

Not only are we going to cover some basics like “where did you stay?” and “what did you do?” – we’re also going to answer some of your broader curiosities about traveling internationally with kids for the first time (boy did we get questions from you guys on Instagram and Facebook!). Part of our goal with this trip was to step outside of our travel comfort zone, which can obviously leave you feeling a little uncertain at times since you’ve never been to that area – how can you really know what to expect? You’ve heard this podcast about how I agonized while planning this trip, right?

Well, it was all WELL WORTH IT. We loved this trip so much (the kids were actively campaigning for a return trip while we were still on our initial trip – ha!). So for the folks asking about everything from language barriers and bugs to food concerns and more – we are going to address every last question that was sent our way. The short answer to pretty much all of them is: Costa Rica was awesome with kids. In fact, we’re convinced that it was the best possible place to go on our first international family trip. So hopefully you’ll see why as we jump into some of your burning questions.

Why Did We Choose Costa Rica?

We initially zeroed in on Costa Rica because (a) we wanted somewhere that would be nice and warm in January when we’d be traveling so we could swim and soak up the sun since it’s typically cold and dark at home during that time of the year (b) we suddenly heard from 2 different friends/family members who had all planned trips there and really loved it. That was enough to feel like it kept popping into our lives for a reason – so we dug a little deeper about everything that Costa Rica has to offer, and the more we learned, the better and better it seemed as an option.

The more we leaned into the Costa Rica idea, the more we realized that it had lots of great lodging and activity options. Like some really cool wildlife that excited the kids, like monkeys and sloths (heck it excited us too). And the deal-sealer was that it was also a relatively easy/quick flight – at least compared to a lot of other international options.

Our kids are 5 and 9 and they’ve both been on several 2-hour-ish flights to Florida, so we knew they could handle something a little longer… but we didn’t want to push it to some 8-hour transatlantic flight quite yet. We couldn’t fly direct from our hometown of Richmond, Virginia… so our 6 hours of flying time each way was broken up into two shorter (and more manageable) flights. For us, it was just about perfect.

Where Did You Go In Costa Rica?

We spent 6 nights in Costa Rica, splitting our time between two different Airbnbs (each for 3 nights). This wasn’t our original intent, we just couldn’t find one Airbnb we liked that was available for all 6 nights that we’d be there. But it did feel nice to book two places because we figured if we didn’t end up loving one of them, at least there was another one that we got to experience too. Have I mentioned that I agonized over the planning part of this trip? I have. Ok, anyway. The whole two Airbnbs thing ended up being GREAT because we got to experience two different areas and that added even more to our adventure (two different areas to explore, many more restaurant options to enjoy, more beaches to find, different activities to try, etc).

Our first Airbnb was in a town called Esterillos Oeste, which was about 2 hours from the airport in San José. It’s a small beach town on the Pacific Coast that felt more like where locals came for a beach day, not American tourists (it didn’t feel very “touristy” at all). Our second Airbnb was about an hour away from the first one in Manuel Antonio (which is also the name of the uber-popular National Park that is there). It was definitely denser with restaurants, shops, and tourist activities. More on the Airbnbs and the towns in a moment.

As for WHY we chose these two towns, it was mostly driven by the lodging availability and some googling around to see what we could do in each area. We wanted places that weren’t too far from the airport and also weren’t too far from each other.

So there are certainly plenty of other places to go in Costa Rica (it’s about the size of West Virginia, btw) – especially if you really want a specific experience – like the hot springs near the volcano in Arenal or the rope bridges in the Monteverde Cloud Forest. Those are both north of San José, closer to the airport in Liberia, so for us it would’ve just meant more driving and/or coordinating travel through multiple airports. But definitely build your trip around the activities that sound like the most fun for your family.

How Long Did It Take To Get There?

You may think I just answered that earlier – about 6 hours of flying each way, remember? But any traveler knows that your “in air” time is hardly a full picture of what it takes to actually get to your destination. So despite the flights being very manageable, I’d be lying if I said the full door-to-door travel time didn’t feel somewhat long when it was all added up. Part of this was because we had a very early flight on the way out (had to wake up at 4am) and that, combined with the fact that the towns we stayed in were about 2 hours from the airport in San José, meant we basically also had a short road trip tacked on to all of our flying time.

So all told, each way involved about 12 hours of travel and effectively ate up 1 whole day on each end of our week. I do think it was actually easier on everyone that it was broken up so much (driving, flying, layover-ing, flying, driving, etc) but we still armed ourselves with markers, notebooks, activity books, and fully charged iPads with a few favorite movies downloaded on them to make it easier on the kids (which makes it easier on everyone).

Did You Rent A Car? What Was Driving Like?

Yes! While it seemed like lots of hotels/resorts/tourist companies offered shuttles from the airport (and we also heard Uber is available, as well as clearly marked red taxis with yellow triangles) we chose to rent a car because of (a) the flexibility it would give us to explore and (b) the need for car seats for our children. We brought our own booster in our checked duffle bag for our 9-year-old and we rented a car seat for our five year old along with the vehicle through a company called Payless (we just booked it through Expedia).

We had heard you should get something with 4-wheel drive because some roads in Costa Rica are unpaved, steep, and/or rocky. We definitely experienced some of those (like the neighborhood roads leading to our first Airbnb, seen below) but we never actually needed to engage the 4WD in our little rented SUV.

Driving in Costa Rica was generally A LOT easier than I anticipated. Overall we felt like people were pretty relaxed, polite, and slow drivers (even on highways the max speed limit was only about 80 kmh which is about 50 mph). You still drive on the right side of the road too, like we’re used to. The only “challenges” were road signage and parking. Streets were often unmarked, so we had to rely heavily on watching our Google Maps navigation to make sure we were turning at the right places (I may have gone around a traffic circle a couple of extra times). And if there was signage, it was in Spanish so we had to make some educated guesses at moments. But again – driving was easier than we anticipated overall.

One word about parking – because it was super easy in our first Airbnb location, but it was admittedly tough in the Manuel Antonio area because it’s a more congested area with narrow, winding streets (it’s fairly mountainous there). We had to pass up a couple of restaurants that people had recommended because their very few, very cramped spots right off the road were all full. We actually ended up walking to a lot of our meals in Manuel Antonio because the parking was so sparse. But again, overall it felt no harder to drive in Costa Rica than it does here in the United States, so we’d definitely do it again.

Just be warned that everything takes a bit longer to get to than you might expect because the speed limits are low and the highways we experienced were only one lane each way, so it’s easy to get stuck behind a slow vehicle for a little while. We actually liked the leisurely driving pace though – it never felt stressful and rushed like people were angry about you, a tourist, trying to figure things out. The locals seemed to drive just as slow as people like us trying to figure out where we were going.

Was The Language Barrier An Issue?

Nope! Costa Rica is a Spanish-speaking country but I’d say we could communicate in English with about 75% of the people we encountered – and in the other 25% of cases, we would use hand gestures and everyone would have a big smile on their faces as we all tried to interpret each other. Nobody seemed frustrated, in fact in general the locals that we met seemed to genuinely love visitors and often asked us things like “is it your first trip? Do you love it here? Have you seen any sloths yet?!”

So overall speaking a different language wasn’t an issue AT ALL (I have a very rudimentary understanding leftover from my college days) and there were actually plenty of instances of signage or menus being printed in both Spanish and English, or simply just English.

And in the few moments where we didn’t understand quickly spoken Spanish – like when our kids couldn’t understand the little girl that wanted to play with them on the beach – it was a helpful reminder that we can’t always expect to rely on others knowing our language in the world. The kids came home with an interest in learning more Spanish, along with some new words in their repertoire, and so did we.

What About Currency?

Costa Rica uses the colón (plural: colones) but we found that SO many places/people happily accept the US dollar (USD). In fact, a few restaurants we went to had their prices listed in USD instead of colones and one grocery store even asked me which currency I wanted to be rung up in (I had the option of paying with USD or a Visa or colones). Also, the toll booths we went through on the highway accepted my USD and then gave me colones in change. Overall, paying for things there was pretty simple because there were so many choices.

For the first few days at least, the quick in-our-heads math conversion from USD to colones was a little tricky to do on the spot, but we eventually got the hang of it. For example, $1 USD is equal to about 570 colones, meaning most prices in Costa Rica are in the THOUSANDS of colones. That can cause some sticker shock, like when your restaurant bill arrives with “25,000” listed as the total (but then you do the math and realize that’s $43 USD). So that wasn’t the tricky part, because we quickly got used to big numbers not being huge amounts.

On the other hand, trying to translate and convert money when someone was quickly reciting a total to us, like at a grocery checkout – that was where it could momentarily get complicated. I’m good with single- and double-digit numbers in Spanish, but when you’re rattling off 16,475 in rapid Spanish, I get a little lost. And that’s even before I have a chance to try to calculate what that means in USD.

So, for better or worse, we used our regular ol’ bank-issued Visa card for most of our in-store or in-restaurant purchases. We did incur about $40 in “international transaction fees” over the course of our weeklong trip, but frankly it was well worth it to not have to worry about currency conversions or hold up the line while we tried to frantically work out math equations in another language. We did travel with a bunch of cash in USD and about $15 worth of colones too, which we were glad we had, but we would’ve been just fine without any colones at all – as long as we had plenty of small USD bills (again, most places took that, as well as Visa).

Did You Feel Safe?

We got this question a lot. Yes, we did! We can confidently say that we never felt unsafe during our time in Costa Rica. We took common-sense measures that you’d take in any popular tourist area (locking doors at night, not leaving valuables in the car, keeping tabs on bags/wallets/kids, etc) but that was never because of any specific “threat” – except for the warning that monkeys like to rifle through bags at some of the beaches. Ha!

And speaking of monkeys, we never felt unsafe due to animals or other critters either. People asked us if we feared things like snakes or scorpions or supersized bugs and those weren’t an issue or a concern for us either. We spotted zero snakes, zero scorpions, and honestly zero scary or big bugs. Wait, scratch that, there was a big spider one night – but he was more fascinating than scary and he was outside. Didn’t bother us at all. Long story short, we personally didn’t encounter any creature, person, or situation that made us feel unsafe in Costa Rica. Honestly the bugs in Florida are bigger and we’ve gotten more mosquito bites nearly everywhere else we’ve traveled (we didn’t get a single one in Costa Rica).

Tell Me More About Your Airbnbs!

I really feel like we hit the Airbnb jackpot because the two places we rented were some of the most amazing places we’ve ever stayed, anywhere. Again, we ended up in two different places because we couldn’t find one place that was available all six nights that we would be there. We considered doing a hotel or resort, but we typically find that a vacation rental offers us more space & more privacy (read: the kids sleep a lot better than in a hotel where you hear other doors opening and closing or the elevator dinging).

The good thing about our Airbnb preference is that they don’t tend to be much more expensive than a single room at a hotel (which doesn’t usually have a kitchen, multiple bedrooms, or a private pool!). Having access to a stocked kitchen when you want to prepare some meals at home to save money is always a nice bonus. Plus you can play weird games at the pool without worrying that you’re bothering other people.

Our first Airbnb in Esterillos Oeste had two bedrooms in the main house (we stayed in the king bedroom and our kids happily shared the other bedroom with both a twin and full sized bed). There was also a third bedroom with its own private entrance on the lower level (the “Casita”) which is where the colorful mural was painted above.

The casita was such a serene, secluded little space that would’ve been great had we traveled with the grandparents or another couple with a baby or something. But since we wanted to sleep under the same roof as our kids, we didn’t use the Casita at all. If six people rented this house it would be great though – and it would make it even cheaper per night that way too.

The outdoor space of this house was so relaxed, playful, and private feeling that we spent HOURS out there (there were houses on either side, but the lush landscaping made the yard feel so secluded – like it was our own little oasis).

The raised deck that the pool was inset into made you feel like you were swimming in the jungle canopy and we literally had iguanas and monkeys visit us right there in the backyard. That’s not a typo. Iguanas would come sun themselves on the deck, and around 10 monkeys swung by one afternoon – walking along the railing right in front of us! Macaws even flew by overhead. It was like getting the quintessential Costa Rica experience without even leaving the house.

In case you want to see the ENTIRE space, we shot a quick video right before we checked out so you could see everything. Again, here’s the Airbnb listing for it. It really was such a beautiful place!

The second Airbnb in Manuel Antonio was extremely sleek and decorated like it was fresh out of a home magazine (like, a photographer needs to get over there pronto). It had 3 bedrooms in the main house and, again, a separate Casita (that’s it in the picture below). Once again, we didn’t sleep in there because we all wanted to stay under one roof, but with older kids or a second couple, the casita would have been awesome.

One of the 3 bedrooms in the main house was an un-air-conditioned loft which was just slightly too warm for us to sleep in overnight, but we did have a couple of pre-bedtime movies nights up there all together, which the kids thought were magical (ok, we did too – we even watched Zootopia in honor of seeing some sloths). We also spent some time reading and hanging out up there while the kids played below. But the two downstairs bedrooms with the air conditioning were the most comfortable places to sleep, so that’s what we did. Sherry & I took the air-conditioned bedroom downstairs with a queen bed and our kids shared the second air conditioned bedroom that was also down there on the main floor.

This house also had INCREDIBLE outdoor spaces, all inspired by and decorated with items from the owners’ trips to Bali. There was a big outdoor dining table, a hammock swing that our kids were obsessed with, and a hanging daybed that has Sherry on a full scale won’t-take-no-for-an-answer mission to build one for our house’s back porch. The pool was beautiful and slightly shaded which was nice. Just as we did in the first Airbnb, we ended up in the pool every single day – usually morning and evening. It was great.

We also shot a quick little walk-through of this Airbnb right as we arrived so you could see everything. Although we somehow managed to forget to pop into the bedroom where we slept – although you can see it on the right before I turn left into the big bathroom with the tub. If you’re truly curious, you can see it in the Airbnb listing.

You can also watch it here on YouTube.

I should also add that in addition to both places being beautiful and amazing, the hosts of both were incredibly nice! Within hours of booking they each had messaged us with long lists of activity suggestions (snorkeling! ziplining! boat tours!) and offers to help book anything we’d like. We ultimately only used them to arrange two activities, but they were crazy helpful in answering our general questions about our trip.

The first Airbnb is operated by a Canadian couple (who now lives full time in Esterillos Oeste – we got to meet the husband during our stay) and the second is managed by a local rental company, and the woman who greeted us with the key grew up in the same exact county that I did (Fairfax, Virginia) and has since moved full time to Costa Rica. Such a small world.

What Activities Did You Do In Costa Rica?

Costa Rica is often known as a destination for outdoor adventurers and thrill-seekers. So I’ll preface this by saying that our kids are VERY into animals and wildlife and hikes and swimming and exploring but zero into heights/things that go fast (aka: ziplines or rope bridges or ATVs/whitewater rafting). Given their ages (5 and 9) that could all change down the line, and we had such a good time exploring – even without being high up in the air or whizzing around on fast vehicles or boats.

If those those thrill-seeking options are more your speed, they’re certainly available – and there are signs and billboards at just about every turn for them, along with night tours for bugs & scorpions, etc. So be sure to google around for more info on those activities if you’re planning to try them out. And if you too are vacationing with younger kids or more-chill-seeking-and-less-thrill-seeking travelers, here are some of the activities/destinations we enjoyed:

Esterillos Oeste Beach

This was just about a 5-minute drive from our first Airbnb and there was easy and free parking right on the dirt roads that parallel the beach. We just went for a walk here one day after eating lunch nearby (above – hence no bathing suits) and then came back the next day with bathing suits, towels, and a cooler full of snacks to soak up the beach for a while longer. The Pacific Ocean can be kind of rough, but at low tide there were tons of shallow tidepools that the kids played in (and they met some other local kids who were doing the same thing!). It was also fun just walking up and down the beach & hunting for shells and other little treasures.

Royal Butterflies

This is a farm / butterfly sanctuary near Jaco Beach operated by an American family now living in Costa Rica and it was recommended by our first Airbnb host so we couldn’t wait to check it out. One of the family members, Donna, greeted us at our car as soon as we pulled in, and gave us the friendliest one-on-one tour of the butterfly enclosure and surrounding farm we could ever have hoped for. She let our kids pick starfruit off a tree to eat later, run through the shallow river that ran through the property, and they even took us on a tour of the treehouse Airbnb that they’re currently constructing (see the picture below – it’s not listed on Airbnb yet or I’d link it for you here).

We still can’t get over how nice they were and it was a perfect low-key activity for kids our age. It was only $10 for everyone who was 6 and up, so $30 total for the four of us.

Manuel Antonio Guided Tour

This was the only “excursion” that we officially booked/scheduled during our trip – and we’re SO glad we did (we tend to go with the flow when traveling, rather than booking lots of activities beforehand). Manuel Antonio is Costa Rica’s smallest but most popular national park – and it’s known for all of the animals that call it home… including sloths! You can certainly go without a guide, but if your goal is to see animals then we would definitely scream: GET A GUIDE! More on why in a second.

We booked our guide ahead of time through our Airbnb host (she exclusively books him, so we can’t directly link him right here – which is a bummer because he was awesome), but we hear that they’re all awesome. Literally everyone who does this park with a guide loves it and sees so many awesome things. We were told you can usually also pay one at the entrance of the park and just find one that way – and there are also several on Airbnb Experiences.

A guide is important because most of the animals are high up in the canopy or otherwise hidden in the jungle. The guide not only uses his expertise to spot them, but they bring a telescopic lens that allows you to get a close-up look at them. Our guide even used his lens to take photos of the animals on our phones so we all got to come home with some seriously amazing photos of everything from a mom & baby sloth (!!!) to monkeys galore, and even the most beautiful “rainbow grasshopper” (not a sentence I ever expected to type). Oh and a bat and a raccoon and a red & blue crab. So much to see.

The best moment was definitely the baby sloth who was hanging out with her mom. We stood there and watched them for a solid five minutes. It was amazing.

Our tour was about $140 total (for two adults and two children, which also included the park entrance fee and parking at a hotel near the front gate). They only accepted cash, so we’re glad we had lots of USD with us. The guided portion was about 2 hours, which might be a stretch for some five year olds, but we were treated to a spontaneous show by some playful monkeys towards the end, which boosted our son’s energy. Both of our kids name it as one of the coolest things we did during our trip.

That’s the photo I took with my phone zoomed in above, and this is the photo our guide took through his lens – just to give you a sense of how much better of a view we got of things thanks to the guide. Quite the handsome couple, eh?

Manuel Antonio Beach

After the guided portion, we stayed in the park to swim at one of the park beaches (it has a few!). We had paid admission already, so why not – and many people told us the beaches in the park are less crowded than the public ones outside the park. Our guide pointed us towards the beach with the calmest water and it was one of the prettiest beaches I’ve ever been to in my life (we’ll get to THE prettiest one in a moment).

We didn’t stay super long because everyone was getting hungry and the park has strict rules about what you can bring in and the park cafeteria seemed to be mostly pizza and pastries. But the kids LOVED swimming here because it was warm, clear, and just the right amount of wave action. We almost came back the next day…

Playa Biesanz

Instead of returning to the park beach, we ended up reading about Playa Biesanz on Google and were intrigued by its description as Manuel Antonio’s “secret” beach. It sounded a bit off the beaten path, but by this point it was our last full day and we were feeling a bit more adventurous. We navigated to the right place thanks to Google Maps and spotted the “break in the fence” someone had described online.

Several locals were helping people park along the narrow road and holding hand-written signs that said they’d “watch your car” for 2000 colones (about $3.50). It felt a little like a tourist trap, but for $3.50 I didn’t really care (and I did appreciate their help parking since you have to hop two wheels over the curb). We then followed another family through the break in the fence, down a hill for about a 10-minute hike (we easily did it in flip flops although it was a little rocky and somewhat steep in some parts) to what is easily the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been to in my life.

The water was clear and calm. The sand was white and clean. Several locals had set up stands along the tree line selling ceviche, cocktails, coconuts with straws poked in them, and even kayaks and paddle boards to rent. We paid $10 (again, in USD) to rent two lounge chairs and an umbrella and had the most perfect last morning in Costa Rica there.

It certainly wasn’t a true secret (there were locals and other tourists there – and the locals were happily selling things like food & drinks & rental chairs to the tourists) but probably due to that 10 minute hike, it wasn’t nearly as populated as the other beaches we had been to. It was really nice and well worth that ten minute hike. None of our photos capture how picturesque the whole thing was. It was one of those trip memories that we’ll still be talking about when we’re ninety.

Besides those few “excursions,” we mostly spent our time exploring the little towns we were in, trying out different restaurants, going on little hikes or walks, stopping into local shops, and just relaxing at our Airbnbs (remember those am and pm swims we all loved so much).

We also really enjoyed shopping at the markets with the locals. There was tons of fresh food (picture Sherry screaming “THIS GORGEOUS FRUIT!!!!!!” while unpacking our bags from the market). And we loved cooking breakfast at our Airbnb and watching the kids change from their pjs into their bathing suits before breakfast. Also noteworthy: we ordered smoothies everywhere we went. And speaking of meals…

Where Did You Eat?

A surprising amount of people were curious about where we stuffed our faces, so I’ll oblige the best we can. We don’t even remember the names of some of the places – like the restaurant we pulled off of the highway to eat dinner at during our first night. We were hungry and it was there. Plus it had a waterfall out front and a friendly white goose in the backyard that entertained us the whole time. Wish we remembered the name. But onto the ones we remember – many of which you guys recommended to us, and we can see why!

We also grabbed meals at some of the smaller eateries along the main road in Manuel Antonio, like the Falafel Bar and a hamburger place that promised “The Best F-ing Hamburger in Costa Rica” (it was pretty darn good). We also shopped at the local grocery stores so we could cook breakfast at home every day (mostly eggs and fresh fruit and occasionally we even went whole hog and made pancakes and bacon).

What Did Your Kids Eat?

We heard a lot of concern from people about finding things for their kids to eat when traveling abroad and I’ll say that we had no issue with it in Costa Rica. Obviously every kid is different, but at basically every place we went we found kid-friendly staples like chicken, quesadillas, hamburgers or some sort of beef option, along with pasta and even pizza. It was easier to find something they loved to eat than it is at some restaurants at home. This also meant that we could get them to sample some of the more local or “adventurous” items that we were ordering for ourselves, but still rely on serving them something within in their comfort zone to make sure they left the restaurant with a full stomach.

Anything Else We Should Know?

Honestly, the only thing that caught us by surprise was the toilet paper situation. In both areas we stayed we were warned, as the sign in one of our Airbnbs said, that the jungle plumbing systems couldn’t handle toilet paper. So instead of flushing toilet paper, it had to be disposed of in a tiny lidded trash can next to the toilet. This was true at stores, restaurants, everywhere – not just our rentals. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t feel unusual at first, but by the end of the trip we were oddly used to it. That’s probably TMI – but I figure I’d give you guys the heads up! We literally got home and it felt weird to flush it, so you adjust surprisingly fast.

Aaaaaaaand on that note, I’ll wrap up this monster post by saying once again that Costa Rica turned out to be the perfect place for our first international trip with kids. Everyone there was so friendly. The weather was great. The food was delicious. Please go and enjoy at least ten smoothies. Pura Vida!*

*that’s what the locals say allll the time, sort of like saying “cheers!” When we got home Sherry kept almost saying it to checkout clerks as we walked away. Costa Rica will worm its way into your heart, I’m telling you.

P.S. Want even more photos, details, and info about our trip. You can see a bunch of highlights from our Costa Rica vacation right here on IG Stories

This content was originally published here.

A Big Master Bathroom & Closet Update | Young House Love

We made some pretty exciting progress over the last few weeks that has earned us a much more functional space with a random but doable smattering of tasks left on our to-do list. We’re definitely rounding third base on this bathroom (that sounds weird, but you know what I mean – we’re getting extremely close to the end) and for that I’m straight up Carlton-dancing. Let me tell you, having a double sink for the first time in our lives (and my favorite toilet! and an actual closet system instead of a few old hanging bars!) is a huge upgrade.

We’re thrilled, even if this feels like it has been a much longer renovation than we initially anticipated (aren’t they all?). And since its been a while since we’ve blogged about our bathroom & closet progress (we’ve shown a lot of peeks on our Instagram Stories but our last blog post was all the way back on October 9th!) we wanted to give you a big ol’ update, complete with pictures that we snapped this very morning.

Shortly after Thanksgiving, we were plugging along as planned, having finished the shower tile and gotten started on our floor tile, with a goal to grout them both at the same time. BUT then we got word that our plumber was having knee surgery in a mere 4 days, leaving him out of commission for 5 weeks. So if we wanted anything installed before February (YIKES!) we had less than a week to get the room ready for it.

So we did what we do best, and totally panicked. Then we had some snacks, took a few deep breaths, and shifted our priorities to focus on getting just the floor tiled and grouted (so the toilet, vanity, and tub could be installed on top of them) – it meant we wouldn’t have the shower done as quickly, but regaining a toilet and sink were the priority. We could just continue using the hall shower for a little longer, but earn back a sink and toilet for the middle of the night – which we sorely missed.

We also realized that since we wanted to install some molding on the walls around the room, that would be much easier to do before the toilet, vanity, and tub were installed (and in the way of any sort of wall treatment installation). I’ll spare you the play by play of cramming all of that into a few days (literally I think it was around 40 hours) and just say that thanks to some super late nights of tiling, nailing, caulking, grouting, and painting we got it done juuuust in time. (We’ll do a detailed post about how we installed that thick trim around the room soon – we think it was one of the best choices we made in the entire room and really elevated the space).

Now, back to where I said we got it done just in time. Well actually it was done just in time to find out that our plumber was too slammed with finishing other projects to squeeze us in on the day before his surgery like he hoped he could have. We were the last to get on his list, so we totally got that we’d be the first to miss out if he ran out of time.

The GREAT news was that he was able to send a couple of other guys on his team over the very next day to take care of it instead! Which definitely beats a 5 week wait while he recovered from knee surgery. So it all worked out just fine in the end – although they didn’t have the kit they needed to install the tub so that would have to wait, along with trimming out the shower (since we still have to grout and seal that to get it ready for them to complete that install).

So yeah, it’s a bathroom that looks pretty but doesn’t have a functioning shower or tub yet (this is the tub we bought that currently lives in our bedroom). But frankly, we’re too dang excited to have running faucets and a flushing toilet to really care.

Oh and some people have asked why we didn’t just install the toilet and vanity ourselves (rather than race to meet the plumber’s deadline). They’re both tasks we’ve done before and are perfectly capable of doing again, so it certainly was an option. But the best way for our plumber to guarantee his work (including all the new pipes that he connected in the walls) is for him to see the job through from start to finish.

So in a pinch we certainly could’ve taken over, but everyone involved preferred to let him finish what he started – just so that if in a month something is leaking he could fully guarantee his work and fix it on the house (versus some awkward “well, I did the plumbing for the toilet but didn’t actually install it…” conversation where we’re not sure who is responsible to fix something). It also helps for code reasons to have a licensed plumber do all of the plumbing work when it’s a huge gut job of a room (versus us switching out a toilet or faucet ourselves in an otherwise-not-gutted bathroom, which doesn’t require a permit since it’s not a huge update).

Now at this point you might guess that we’d shift our focus back to grouting the shower and getting it ready for the plumbers to finish up after the holiday, along with the tub finally going in. But no, we had officially spun off in a new direction. Blame on it on the excitement of starting to have a finished-feeling bathroom with a working toilet and sink again (that really took the pressure off the shower/tub thing). Or the fact that we had holiday guests coming and needed to get all of our displaced closet stuff out of the dining room and garage and everywhere else it had piled up (things explode everywhere when you have 1,432 Ikea parts just waiting to be installed and an entire closet full of two people’s clothes and shoes that have been offset to other places). So with just a few days before Christmas, we turned our attention to installing our new master closet.

It just felt SO. FREAKING. GOOD. to have this space functional again (and to finally move all of our displaced clothing back into the closet). We completely installed it over the course of a few days (during the week of Christmas – all we wanted was a finished closet for the holidays). So yes, we gave ourself the gift of not having to go into the kids’ bedrooms to get various items of clothing anymore, and cleared off our dining table just in time for holiday guests. We used the Ikea Pax system and we promise to share a full post about it soon (how we installed it & trimmed it out so it looks built-in, photos of how we organized each section – even a video tour!).

Oh and you’ll notice in a few of the photos above there’s a rug in front of the double vanity, but the same rug is also in this shot of the closet:

It’s a secondhand rug from Etsy that I got for $186 all the way from Turkey! It shipped in less than a week (?!?!), and I love how it feels old and faded (because it is!). This is the vendor that I got it from, and here are a few similar ones. It adds so much warmth to the room, and honestly I love it in front of the vanity, but I might love it in the closet even more.

You can see some other things that we checked off the list, like hanging our over the sink, mounting our arched mirror in the closet, hanging my beloved , and bringing in some greenery and woven textures in the baskets on the sink, in the closet, etc.

I fully subscribe to the “morale boost” that happens when you bring in a few pretty things to buoy your spirits, even if you’re not finished yet. Soak up the progress & feel happy in that half-done room! Also, plants make me happy.

In addition to still needing to finish grouting and sealing the shower and getting the tub and the wall-mounted faucet installed, there are still some other tasks on our list, but they all feel extremely doable. I’m thrilled to have what once was a list of about 117 things down to a half dozen or so:

I’m sure I’m forgetting some stuff in that list, but it definitely feels like we’re rounding the final bend! And of course we’ll share a full budget breakdown of this project when we’re back with a full reveal. We’ve been keeping track, and it has been blissfully straightforward (no crazy discoveries behind the walls) so we’re excited to share that with you guys when we stick a fork in this project.

Wanna see a few other room makeovers we’ve tackled over the years? Here are some favorites:

P.S. Don’t forget to read the first post about this bathroom reno to see a video tour and check out the exciting half-demo-ed pics. And here’s the planning post with a before and after floor plan, along with how we chose the tile, found inspiration, etc.

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This content was originally published here.

New Paint, Lights, & Window Boxes For Our Backyard Shed (Finally) | Young House Love

This post is for everyone who has been asking for a shed update since we finally painted it to match our white house (it only took us a year!). While we were updating things, we switched out the lights and added window boxes because I can now be described as “extremely passionate about sheds.” Like if I was on match.com that would be in my bio somewhere.

This is perhaps the largest personality change for me throughout adulthood. The idea that I like sheds is an extremely new revelation.

Remember when I didn’t care about sheds – and maybe even hated them – especially when John wanted to use half of our beach house’s tiny backyard for one and I basically said no and rebelled for an entire year while we lived with all of the stuff that should have been in a shed inside the beach house. Let me just tell you that sandy beach chairs and beach umbrellas and tile and paint and bikes and yard tools are not awesome when they’re all over the foyer and laundry room.

After about a year of that I gave in and let John get his precious beach house shed. And in doing so I realized that they’re not only very practical but they can be ADORABLE and I promptly decided that I wanted to live in the pink shed and never leave.

I really think it’s the lights and the window box that did it for me. That’s when my shed-outlook changed forever. I’m not only decidedly pro-shed now, you might even call me a shed hype woman now. I will rave about how much storage you can gain without sacrificing a single scrap of beauty – heck it can even add privacy and make your yard feel more nestled and cozy. Especially if you include a few charming details like nice light fixtures and a window box or two.

So back to priming and painting our shed in Richmond after over a year of putting it off. This was us priming the shed back before the leaves started to change.

And this was THE MOMENT BEFORE THE HORNET DISCOVERY. Ah, the memories (more on that story here).

This is still just the primer coat above, hence it looking blue-ish instead of a true white like the trim and doors.

Speaking of the doors, we chose the same soft french blue that’s on all three of our house’s exterior doors. The color is Tranquility from Ben Moore’s Affinity line (it’s labeled as “Tranquility AF” on the paint swatch – which you know makes me laugh out loud every time I see it because I’m a 12 year old).

Finally painting the shed the same color as the house (more on the house color here) and making the doors the same color too, instantly unified both the shed & the house.

It was kinda magical to see it happen over the course of a few days. They also share the same roof shingles, which is another nice tie in.

Over the years, the original shed lights started to feel a little too craftsman and boxy for such a rectangle of a shed, so we went with something a little more curvy to balance out all of the straight lines. I think they’re super cute, especially that pulley-looking arm on the top and that we added.

As for the window boxes, we got them from the same place we got the pink shed’s window box because we’ve been really happy with it. They’re made of no-rot material, are really easy to hang, and even have a self-watering feature (you can dump a ton of water into a pipe on the edge of the top opening for the window box, where all of the dirt is, and it slowly dispenses the water throughout the dirt for a week or two before you need to add more).

So this is the view out of the kitchen window when I do dishes. I’m not mad at it. Yes, you might even say that I have Shed Fever at this point. It’s like Bieber Fever, but no Biebs & all shed. Because I just can’t even picture the yard without this adorable little anchor point.

And remember my former point about privacy and how the right placement can make a yard feel more nestled? The location of this shed is so nice because our curved backyard backs up to two other houses through the woods (and one of them with fewer evergreen plantings used to be super visible in the winter months when all the leaves drop).

But the second this shed arrived… boom. New view. Haven’t seen their backyard since 2016 before this baby landed. Now there’s a view of this cute little house of ours (full of tools galore – you can see how we organized it all here). We feel more nestled, as do our neighbors through the woods. It’s just such a nice little break between our two backyards, which formerly felt like they used to run into each other.

So that’s the story of my love of sheds, blossoming into a very strong bond indeed. Tale as old as time. Song as old as rhyme. Sherry and her shedddddd.

P.S. You can read all about getting this shed back in 2016 right here in this post. And here’s the post all about the beach house backyard, complete with the full pink shed rundown. As for how this shed is organized, here’s that post for ya. And here’s the post about how we organized the pink house shed. Did I say shed enough in this post? No? How about a post about two other sheds in our life: the duplex sheds.

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This content was originally published here.

Our Stone-Topped Coffee Table Hack | Young House Love

For everyone who has been asking for the details on our new coffee table (glimpses of it have made their way into my InstaStories over the last few months – and boy did you guys notice!), I’m finally writing up all the details.

How many words can someone possibly share about the hunt for and the creation of a living room coffee table that checks every one of their oddly specific boxes, you ask? Well, settle in. I shall regale you with a tale of woe and triumph and there’s even a random not-sure-it-even-works alien joke worked in there for good measure. Plus I’ll show you exactly how to get this exact coffee table if you want to pull this same hack at your house (it is BEGINNER LEVEL EASY).

Let’s back up for a second. You know how sometimes you dream about an item that doesn’t exist and you’re like “I like this one thing but wish it had that other top or that other wood finish.” Like you want to pull a Frankenstein combo move and merge three things together? That is exactly how my search for a living room coffee table has felt.

For ages we had a huge white padded ottoman and loved it. We literally kept it for like seven glorious years until it died a very slow death by flaking and peeling everywhere (we’d find little peels of it upstairs in our bedroom – it really got around in those final days). This is a picture from two years back:

It was perfect for small kids (no hard edges to bump into) and there was storage inside for games and blankets. A big padded ottoman is still my favorite living room tip for any family with smaller kids, but over the last few years we’ve started to really enjoy coffee tables since the kids are older. We have one at the beach house and it’s great for casually doing a puzzle or playing family games. There’s just something nice about having a centralized solid surface to you can rest things on and gather around.

And let me tell you, since upgrading from ottoman to coffee table in this living room, we have played SO MANY epic family games (Sequence or Ticket To Ride are near-nightly occurrences) and it’s really nice to use a room with a TV for way more than watching TV. Highly recommend it if your kids are old enough that the change would make sense for you.

But anyway, back my over-a-year-long coffee table hunt. I know. That sounds very high maintenance. I’m learning that I am, in fact, extremely needy when it comes to coffee tables. I’m ok with this fact. I’ve been called worse 😉

You might remember that last fall we bought a cheap secondhand coffee table for $35, just because the flaking ottoman NEEDED TO GO and I had been searching for a coffee table that I really loved for a while and couldn’t find one. So I basically was like: we are being crazy by holding out for this perfect thing, when all we need is something that’s cheap and fine in the meantime – so we can get that peeling beat up ottoman that literally drops “dandruff” all over our house outta here.

You know that saying: don’t let perfect be the enemy of good? We were literally living with terrible (the flakes everywhere were as maddening as inexplicably finding glitter everywhere), and for the cost of one meal at Panera we got a secondhand table that made zero mess and worked fine. We never should have waited that long. It was a huge step up. It wasn’t the perfect size or material that I wanted – but it was such a relief. No more shavings everywhere, plus it gave me a gift: the giant release of urgency to find that oddly elusive perfect coffee table.

Well, we got that “just for now” coffee table last fall. As in, over a year ago. And ever since I’ve looked pretty much everywhere, but this room is sort of an odd layout, so a rectangular coffee table is just too narrow. Even a very large round one feels too small in the room because it doesn’t connect the accent chairs as nicely as a larger square one does – which makes it feel like a legitimate connected conversation area. So after hours and hours of searching and scrolling… and even doing some in-person exercises, like trying a few different combos just to be sure (like a round coffee table + two white leather poufs, etc) I was 100% certain I wanted a large square one. Like around 3′ wide by 3′ long. Big and solid.

Easy to find right? Well, to make a short story long (my specialty! Ha!), it wasn’t. Because I also wanted it to be a similar wood tone to the side chairs and the side table that we already had in there (the darker old “placeholder” table didn’t tie into anything and I didn’t love that – and I felt like metal legs would’t be as warm looking as wood ones with our old secondhand rug).

I also wanted it to have an extremely durable, water-ring-safe top so the kids could draw with markers or play spirited board games without worrying about the finish. Which led me to the following thought… “that sounds a lot like our kitchen island – which is polished quartz.”

Polished quartz is super durable, the shiny finish always looks gleaming and lovely, and there’s no worry about juice or wine stains like you have with marble. The kids do very messy art projects on the kitchen island, and everything wipes right off. It has just been wonderful for our family. But who the heck makes a giant square quartz coffee table with a wood base in the exact size that I wanted?

Nobody, that’s who.

So I was like… what if I make one…? Not exactly make it from scratch, but I bet I can find a nice solid square wood coffee table that I love (not necessarily the right wood tone, but that can be changed) and then stain it the color I want. And then what if I just go to a stone yard and buy a cheap remnant piece of quartz (we made our living room fireplace surround with marble remnants and it was so much easier and more affordable than I expected). And you guys… this idea that felt kinda hair-brained at first. Well, it worked like a charm.

It really was as simple as ordering this unfinished wood coffee table (I loved the shape of it and the x-details on the side of it – plus the fact that it was unfinished meant I didn’t have to do any stripping or sanding to get it back to a raw wood finish because it literally came that way). I ordered it on Amazon, it came within a few days, and I took it out of the box and assembled it.

After I wiped it down with a damp cloth to make sure no dust or weird dirt was on it, I stained it Provincial by Minwax (which is also what I stained our accent chairs a while back – it’s a great wood tone). I applied two coats of that in the garage, where it could air out – followed by two clear coats of Polycrylic matte sealer – make sure you get the blue labeled one that’s water based because the oil based one tends to get really yellowed over time).

Then we took a trip to the stone yard and I basically was like “TAKE ME TO YOUR LEADER! AND BY LEADER I MEAN CHEAPEST REMNANT PIECES!”

To anyone who doesn’t know about local stone yards and their remnant pieces, they’re basically the excess parts of the slabs that kitchen or bathroom clients don’t use (the stone yard cuts the counters for them, and some extra pieces of the original large slab are leftover). Since they’re smaller pieces for smaller jobs that typically wouldn’t work for a big kitchen island or a long span of cabinets, they’re traditionally marked at least half off. Our local place charges around $40 a square foot for quartz remnants, instead of the regular price which is usually around $90. For any locals wondering, we use Capitol Granite, who also made our kitchen island.

So for this huge block of quartz to top the table that is around 3′ wide by 3′ long, we paid around $370 ($40 x 9 square feet). Yes, that is NOT CHEAP. I had some second thoughts about if I was being extremely irrational and overthinking this far too much. So I did what any person who is teetering between “this is too much” and “but it’s exactly what I want” does, and I looked around for similar options to see if I really was getting the best deal, or paying through the nose. This gut check can be hugely helpful and illuminating either way it ends up going. And suddenly I felt much much better, because similarly sized stone-topped tables were upwards of $800 and in many instances they were $1,000 plus!

Even the ready-made ones that I found in those higher price points didn’t have all the features I was looking for (ex: wood legs, the right 3′ x 3′ dimension, good reviews, a quartz top that wouldn’t stain like marble, etc). Take this $1249.00 one for example. Suddenly the cost for my own quartz remnant ($370) added to the cost of the base that I bought (it was $149 thanks to the markdown they were running that day) didn’t sound that crazy. Especially for exactly what I wanted.

So yes, this coffee table was $519. Not the most expensive thing in our house, but definitely more than I thought I’d pay for a coffee table over a year ago when I started my search if I’m being honest. I don’t know what I expected, maybe under $300? But I can tell you that it completely meets all of my hopes & dreams for a coffee table, which I have since learned is surprisingly hard to do, so I can’t even be mad about that extra $219. Especially after the realization that I’d never end up with exactly what I wanted unless I made it myself. AND DANGIT THAT’S PRICELESS. Well, not priceless, but well worth the effort.

I love that it feels like something we’ll have forever and I really like how it ties into the marble on the fireplace and looks great with the kitchen counters too. Seeing the gleaming coffee table top between the shiny kitchen island and the stone fireplace surround is just lovely. In fact our son very enthusiastically proclaimed that he liked that the top of the coffee table is a giant coaster so they don’t have to use coasters on it. I laughed SO HARD (we have stone coasters in the same color/pattern – you can see one on the end table below). The table really is a giant coaster, so he’s onto something.

Oh and as for making a solid table even more solid, we added these satin brass corner brackets around the edges, because they blend in and stabilize it even more. See, when you put your feet up on a table over and over again, it can start to rock and not stay super square, and when it starts to rock back and forth, you have to worry about it loosening and continuing to rock more and more. And in an extreme situation it could eventually collapse. These hold it square. No rocking = no getting rickety or unsteady. Such an easy way to add even more strength and it only took a few minutes to screw them in (we predrilled small holes so they went in smoothly).

This thing is SOLID. As in, the kids can’t move it. Not an inch. Which is kind of nice because they used to push the ottoman all over the place – and it would do that annoying thing to us where it slipped out from under our feet sometimes when we both had our feet up on it. This stays put. We also used a few dabs of adhesive to attach the quartz to the tabletop, just because we worried that it might shift somehow over time. Although once we got it home we were like… this is so heavy it probably won’t ever move. But it’s better to be safe than sorry.

Oh and one more tip: order the coffee table first & assemble it so you can measure the exact size of the top. Sometimes every single table varies slightly, and you want to get a remnant piece of quartz that’s around 1.5″ wider and 1.5″ longer than your tabletop so it has a 3/4″ overhang on all sides, which looks really proportional and doesn’t read like an afterthought.

So that’s it! The story of Frankenstein-ing a few things together to get exactly what I had been hoping to find. Life will not end if your coffee table doesn’t do everything you want it to, or fit into the room as well as you’d like, or if it gets drink rings, or if you buy a $35 craigslist stand in and it stays there for a year or even ten years. But if you have a picture in your mind of something that you think would be amazing for your family, it’s nice to consider that you don’t only have what’s available at a store to choose from – you can always try to hack or combo-move a few things to hopefully end up with something you love that’ll last a nice long time.

Speaking of the long haul, our $35 “placeholder” coffee table that used to be in our living room ended up being the perfect shape and size for the beach house living room! So it’s happily living there now (and we have big plans to alter the top to work really nicely in that room – more on that here).

I love that our “just for now” secondhand find has worked out to be a long term solution for another space. And the coffee table that was in the beach house living room before is living it up in our son’s room as an often used play table (picture it covered in Pokemon cards & blocks to his little heart’s content). In summary: the sisterhood of the traveling coffee tables is real, and I’m gonna need Alexis Bledel and Blake Lively to take this to the big screen.

P.S. Want to read about other things we’ve built or hacked? We have a whole category of posts about.

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This content was originally published here.

How Can They Help?

A dentist in Harley Street is readily available to guide their patients through a series of differing treatments specifically designed to restore, maintain and beautify their smile. Having a healthy mouth is critical to the overall health and well-being of an individual and more and more research is finding evidence to backup this claim.

Several health conditions have been linked to poor oral health, with other conditions alternatively having an adverse effect on the health of the mouth, gums and teeth. Heart conditions and gum disease appear to have an irrefutable link and pregnancy complications and low birth weight may also result from poor oral health. Diabetes, osteoporosis, HIV and alzheimers can have a negative impact on oral health as each disease progresses.

By understanding that the body is a holistic mechanism and that every part is intimately linked to another, both dentist and patient can improve the quality of care and the overall satisfaction of the treatment process and most importantly, the end result.

How can this be done?

There are three main fields of dentistry that a modern dental practice will be able to offer their patients. These are preventive, restorative and cosmetic dentistry. Each field is important to the overall health and satisfaction of an individual and should be equally considered in order for them to receive all round care.

They also tend to overlap, whereas cosmetic treatments can also have a restorative element to them, or even a preventive one; such is the case with porcelain veneers or a visit to the hygienist to have teeth professionally cleaned and whitened.

When visiting an oral health care provider for the first time, there are many considerations that need to be discussed, in order for the dentist to begin to understand their patient and gather information that is critical to allowing them to provide accurate care.

What kind of information will be requested?

Usually upon arrival, a questionnaire will be handed to a patient by the receptionist that will need to be filled out before the consultation commences. Information regarding medical history and previous dental work may be requested, as could other information that is understood to aid the dentist in asking the right questions.

Once in the consultation room, in order to allow the patient to begin to feel comfortable and relaxed, the dentist will talk about their lifestyle habits and oral health goals so that a positive relationship can begin to be established.

Examination of the entire mouth, internally and externally will then be performed and X-rays or scans may be necessary to provide the professional with further information. A detailed report will then be delivered whereby recommendations regarding further work can be discussed.

This is an opportunity for the patient to consider any cosmetic procedures that they may be interested in as well. An understanding and compassionate dentist will provide information regarding all of the options that are available to their patient so that they can make an informed decision as to whether the treatment plan will be suitable for them.

It is important that both the patient and the oral health care provider are in agreement with one another and that a positive relationship based on mutual respect is formed in order for complete satisfaction to be attained.

Stuff We Own & Love That’s On Sale Right Now | Young House Love

Our annual rundown of stuff you can get cheaper than we did is here. Ha! Every year we check out the Black Friday deals (which literally start earlier every year) and we pull out stuff that we bought with our own money & really really like. And we share it here so you can snag things for 20% off, 30% off, and even over 50% off! We’ll try to update this post if more codes come out (just come back and scroll to the bottom to see all the sale links & codes in one place).

Our fully upholstered bed is marked down from $949 to $572 (40%!). Ours is the Talc color, and it’s such a step up from a metal frame and so much cleaner looking without needing a bedskirt!

Our woven blinds (we have these on every downstairs window) are marked down to start from $29.99 instead of $39.99 (19% off) .

Our diamond back chairs, which now come in 2 colors, are marked down to $129 each ($260 for a set of two ) for the white and $111 each ($224 for a set of two) for the navy (57% off).

Our bedroom dresser (same pic as the mirror) is marked down to $599! Haven’t ever seen it this cheap! Also, our huge stenciled mirror is on closeout for $219 – won’t get any cheaper & once it’s gone, it’s gone.

Our new kitchen stools are marked down to $276 down from $368 with the code THANKFUL (25% off). These were a splurge for us (we waited for a big sale like this one and got them before summer break) and we have loved them. They tie into our woven blinds & gray perimeter counters so nicely they’re like the icing on the cake of this kitchen. That sounds weird. But really, these stools are good.

Our foyer chandelier is marked down to $224 from $298 with the code THANKFUL (25% off). I love this thing I’m tempted to get three more for the hallway upstairs. CAPIZ EVERYWHERE OR BUST!

Our beach house front bedroom rug is marked down to $599 from $798 with the code THANKFUL (25% off).

Our beach house middle bedroom rug is 25% off with the code THANKFUL. This is a bad pic, but I love this thing. Ours is a 6 x 9′, so instead of being $498, it’s $374.

Our old kitchen stools are marked down to $96 from $160 (40% off). These were sturdy and awesome for our family for so many years (we got them back in 2016!). They looked new when we sold them and put the money towards the woven ones I had always wanted – but really, these are great if you want something that’s all one surface and easier to wipe down (the reason I didn’t get the woven ones off the bat = the kids were much smaller and I worried they’d smash all sorts of food into the woven ones).

Our beach house daybed is marked down to $330 from $550 (40% off).

Our favorite toilet ever is marked down to $261 from $350 (25% off). Don’t laugh. You’re a super cool person when you have a favorite toilet.

that we used it in the Real Simple room is on closeout for $349! This will sell out so grab it if you want it (anything marked “Closeout” doesn’t come back again once it sells out).

Our side table with the pull out bonus surface is on closeout in two colors – the white one is $88 and the greeny-blue one is $139.99.

Our white duplex dining chairs are marked down to $116 each ($232 for two). These are super solid and basically work anywhere & everywhere.

Our giant three-tiered end tables are marked down to $253 (the lowest I’ve ever seen!). So much storage = so many magazines if you’re me.

The rug that looks good everywhere is on sale too! We have it in the duplex and it still looks like now – and we see so many pics from you guys using it everywhere from the runner version of it in a camper to the larger sizes in dining rooms, bedrooms, living room, etc. It’s extremely versatile and durable, and an 8 x 10′ is marked down to $264 from $487 (46% off!).

My beloved weighted blanket is marked down to $70 if you apply the $40-off coupon at checkout (I paid $150 for this years ago and it’s worth every penny!) – Amazon changes things a ton so I hope this deal sticks!)

Our gray dining chairs at the duplex is marked waaay down to $107.09 for TWO CHAIRS – so they’re just $53 a pop! (be sure to use the code TURKEY at checkout to get that deal).

Ok here’s John’s contribution to the post. He’s over here rubbing his hands together like Pinky & The Brain because of all the smart/tech deals that are going on. Once again, we have purchased and love all of this stuff ourselves. Yes, our house is so smart it should basically be able to make me a sandwich at this point… but Alexa does turn my Christmas tree on & off so I can’t roll my eyes that hard 😉

Amazon Echo is marked down to $59 from $99 (40% off).

Amazon Echo Dot is marked down to $22 from $50 (56% off).

Amazon Echo Auto is marked down to $29 from $49 (40% off).

Nest Thermostat (which we have at our house) is marked down to $179 from $249 (30% off). We also have the Nest E Thermostat at our beach house, and it’s great (I like that it’s white so it blends into the wall). That one is marked down to $139 from $169 (20% off).

Our Roku Smart TV (50 inch) is marked down to $250 from $480 (48% off). We not only have two of these TVs at home, we bought two more for the duplex.

Our Favorite Printer Ever is marked down to $30 from $120 (75% off!). We never loved a printer before. This guy changed all of that. (*cue the romantic music*)

And here are some other smart things that we don’t have photos of, but they’re in our house just doing their thing & making our lives easier:

And now for the big rundown of all the sales in one spot (we’ll keep this updated, so check back here over the next few days (for example, sometimes TURKEY changes to CYBERMON or something).

Ok, that’s it! Happy Thanksgiving to you guys. Be safe, and I hope you get to feast with your family & friends and save some loot if ya can too!

P.S. I hear you all in your requests for our annual gift guide (we always do one big post with a few categories), and I’m always like the last one to get that together, but I’m aiming for next week! In the meantime here’s a link to last year’s gift guide, because a lot of it is still being sold & makes a great gift – there are lots of affordable ideas in there too.

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This content was originally published here.

Home Renovation Projects That Pay You Back

Outdoor home

Want to make sure you get your investment back on your next home renovation project?

Then make sure you choose a project that will get you the most bang for your buck.

If you plan on living in your home forever than looking for an ROI for your project might not be a big deal.  But the reality is, according to Lisa Sinopoli, a real estate agent in Vaughan says the average family moves once every 5 years.

There are hundreds of home renovation projects you can do to both improve the value of your home as well as provide a more enjoyable living space for you and your family.

Most of the home reno projects that prove to be a good value involve either improving important spaces in your home or adding additional living space in your home.

The most popular places int he home for most families is the kitchen.  The kitchen is the place where the family gathers to eat and talk about their day.  It is the central place for families to gather.  This is why a kitchen renovation can be one of your best bets when it comes to a renovation project for your home.

An outdoor deck also provides a great space for the family to gather and for you to entertain guests.  It is also an inexpensive renovation compared to adding an entire room to your house.

Getting the best ROI for your project is to turn current space in your home into enjoyable living space.  Adding quality square footage using your existing footage is always a great investment.

While you may not be concerned about getting a good ROI for your home renovation project, it’s always a good idea and you will be happy once you decide to sell your home one day.

You’ll also have to decide what kind of renovations are within your own skill set and which ones would require a professional contractor to help with.  Something like tiling your kitchen bathroom might be within your skill set to do but a larger project like a full home renovation would certainly require the help of a contractor.

When we did a home addition in Toronto for our home, it was a big project and we were very happy we let a professional contractor take on the project instead of us, which would have ended in disaster.

infographic reno