My Best and Worst Design Decisions

Jun 17, 2013

Sometimes you never know if you are going to love a change to your home until you've lived with it for a while. I have been pleasantly surprised by some things we've done around the house and others have me wishing I did something else. I hope this helps anyone out there who is contemplating some things we've done in our home.

Best-Adding glass to our kitchen cabinet doors

After we had our kitchen painted white it was a definite improvement over the chipped, pinkish-colored maple cabinets. But, it still lacked character and looked sterile to me. I was testing out cabinet knobs in this picture, but there isn't a knob out there that could fix these plain Jane cabinets.

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After adding glass to four of the upper cabinets.

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The best part is it only cost $40 per cabinet at a local glass store for them to cut the door and install the glass. I think the dark wood floor and woven blind also help to warm up the space, but I still believe the glass cabinets are what really makes this kitchen. This picture also reminds me of another favorite decision I made in here.

Best-Black Granite Countertops

I'll admit that I really wanted River White granite countertops, a white with gray veining. It was way out of our budget at the time and we had to settle for something else. We went with the cheapest granite we could find, Uba Tuba. I am so glad we did now. When I had the tan formica coutertops, I was just beginning to experience how dirty they could get (and stain) with three boys. I had no idea it would get worse as they began to help themselves in the kitchen. I absolutely love that even when they are dirty you can't tell. I'm not kidding when I say these countertops can't stay clean more than thirty minutes!

Best-Adding a Counter in a Tiny Laundry Room


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I love that I can put the laundry baskets and a whole lot of other random stuff on this counter. The storage on the side holds so much too, including laundry soap, cleaning supplies, and pet supplies. This laundry room is small, but it functions amazingly.

Best-Painted Wood Stairs


I think the DIY wood stairs are a given, but I wasn't sure about painting the steps black. I was so nervous about chipping. I'm happy to report it's been months since I painted them and the black steps look good as new. I had planned on putting a runner on them as soon as they were painted to protect the paint, but I haven't even needed it. I would like to eventually add one to soften the stairs, but my puppy is still not completely housebroken. That's also the reason for the rugless look in the family room. Come on, Mario! Potty outside!

Okay, now for some of the not so great decisions.

Worst-Roman Shades with Cords

I do love my bamboo shades in the great room, as well as the new navy shades in the kids' gameroom. The cords are what's killing me!

You can't see the cords in this picture because they are wrapped around a cord hanger inside the window. It works great for keeping them out of the way, but it takes several minutes to wrap and unwrap the cords. It's not a big deal if you never lower the shades, but when the Texas afternoon sun comes through these windows we have to lower them. My kids usually do it and the shades are usually crooked and the cords never get wrapped back up. It drives me crazy! I would still buy the shades again, but cordless ones. I'll probably replace them one day, but it will be a while.

Worst-Duvet Cover + Kids

I say I'm never going to buy another duvet cover again, then I do it anyway. My youngest son still sleeps with us most nights. Our older two sons still love to hang out in our bed and watch tv sometimes, too. This means our duvet cover ends up a wrinkled mess with the comforter pooled in one corner of it. The ties that hold the comforter either come loose or get torn off completely. Also, someone (or our puppy) gets something gross on our duvet at least every few days. It's rare that I have the energy to put the duvet back on and no matter the quality of the cover, it's always wrinkled.

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My current one is from Target and is no different from the higher end ones I had in the past. There is a comforter version of this one. Why didn't I get it? I suppose I wanted to have a fluffy duvet that you see in magazines, but it just isn't realistic unless you never use it. I've tried folding it at the end of the bed and using a blanket, but it the duvet either falls off or still gets wrinkled. I see a new comforter or coverlet in my future.

Worst-Real Wood Beadboard

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I loved my powder room when we first finished it, but it didn't take long before the beadboard began to separate and warp. It looks terrible now. Thankfully, this happened before we put the beadboard up in the kitchen so we could figure out what we did wrong. After some research, we realized this is a common problem and so many people on the web are swearing by the MDF beadboard version. We tried it in the kitchen several months after we finished the powder room and it still looks just as good as the day we put it in. Who would have thought MDF would be better than real wood beadboard? We're eventually going to have to replace the powder room day.

Okay, these are my absolutely two favorite things I have done in this house and would do again if I ever moved.

Best-Turning an Unused Formal Living Room into a Home Office


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Not only did I take a room that we never used and turned it into a space we really needed, it changed the entire look of the front of the house. We now have a real entryway, a real dining room now that it has walls, and we made that uncomfortable front area so much cozier.

My Ultimate Best-Wood Tile Floors

I can't even began to describe how much I love these floors. They get so much abuse and keep looking better because of it. Why? The darker the grout gets from dirt, the more it blends in with the tile and looks even more realistic. Amazing! If we ever moved to a new home, these floors would definitely be on my priority list.

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Undecided-Laminate Floors

I was beginning to think these were a disaster shortly after we got them. Some of the boards were slipping away from each other and causing gaps at the joints within a week. My husband pounded them back in with his foot, but they still kept separating. I realized it was because the installers cut the boards too short in some places. We were able to put a tiny wood shim in those areas before putting the baseboards in. It really did solve the problem. Whew!

But, we've since had one spot about the size of a quarter in my son's room that warped a little because of water damage. We didn't even know the floor was wet until it was too late. We also have two areas where the boards are buckling a bit on the sides. It's not noticeable and hasn't gotten worse, but it still irritates me. All of those things happened in the very beginning so I was thinking these weren't going to last longer than carpet.

But, nothing else has happened in months. My kids drop their video game controllers several times a day on the floor. I've peeled away gunk from the floor and mopped up tons of gross things so many times. So, I suppose it's better than carpet because it would have already been destroyed. I'm starting to think the floors wouldn't be so bad if we had better installers.

Also, I wouldn't have chosen a high gloss finish. They look great when clean, but really bad when they're not. The gloss gets scratched really easily, even when the actual dark finish doesn't. I realized this when I used a wet-vac to clean them once. I about had a heart attack when the light hit them just right and noticed scratches in the clear finish. I now use a regular vacuum or Swiffer vac instead!

Undecided-White Slipcovered Furniture

I'm actually pleasantly surprised so far by my new furniture. I have only had to wash the cushions once. I'm not sure if this is a fluke though. I've still got my fingers crossed. I also washed the chair covers once, too. I was annoyed that they came out really wrinkled, but I did put them on air dry in case they shrunk so it shouldn't have been a surprise. One thing I'm worried about is the cushions losing their shape. Mine are still new and it isn't a problem, but I've noticed people with similar sofas (even if they are more expensive than my Ikea ones) have a problem with the cushions retaining their shape over time. I was well aware of these problems when I bought them, which is why I chose to go with Ikea furniture. If they don't last forever, it won't hurt quite as badly to replace them!

I hope this helps anyone that's thinking about similar choices for their home!


  1. I really enjoyed this post, Jennifer! I love all of the changes that you made, even if some of them aren't as practical as you had hoped. I have glass kitchen cabinets, too, and agree with you that they really do make the kitchen.

  2. I LOVE your white slipcovers! I would say they are a best for looks....don't know how dirty they get though. This is SUCH a great post idea. Even your worsts still look really good though!

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