Nan and Pops’ Surprise MEGA-RENO

Anyone that knows me knows that my favourite movie of all time is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation.  Not only do I recite lines from it at the Christmas dinner table, I recite them in everyday speech all year long.

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This year I watched it three times back-to-back while I baked cookies and dog treats in the kitchen.  If you’ve ever seen the movie then you’d likely recognize Clark and Ellen Griswold’s bedroom – unmistakeable 80’s wallpaper, pink accents, lace curtains, and brass fixtures.


This is Nan and Pops’ bedroom.  Although it doesn’t belong to the Griswold’s, it’s so similar you’d never know it wasn’t in the movie, the only thing missing are the pink striped bedsheets.


It had wallpaper, pink accents, brass fixtures and even worse than lace curtains, it had VERTICALS TOO…BLECH.  Finally this year Nan said she was getting someone in to put some paint on instead and THANK THE DECO GODS because I couldn’t take much more of it.

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My parents are the best, the best.  THE.  BEST.  I wanted to show my gratitude for their never-ending generosity by saving them some dollars and doing this re-paint for them so I secretly started planning it all a month before they headed south and started hours after they drove out.


While I was at it, I figured I might as well gut their closet and add some shoe shelves and a little more space.  How did I do that, you ask?  By knocking out the wall of the linen closet, of course (it’s the corner that juts out of the back of the closet in this picture making the closet an odd shape).

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After the closet went SEE YA! (it’s a good thing I start doing things before I fully think them through or I’d quit everything I think of starting) I had a mild anxiety attack but it subsided by the end of the day 2.  Bedsheets don’t trump shoes in the hierarchy of the closet anyway so I’m glad it’s gone.

The paint, wallpaper, fixtures, switches and plugs I could handle but the redo of the closet I definitely could not.  I hired the Farmer’s cousin’s fiance to help me out and he and his brother did a FANTASTIC  job.  If you need a closet reno, a new kitchen table or a super kickass canoe bookshelf you let me know and I will give you his information.  He doesn’t have a website or a company started up yet (but he will soon!) so you best hire him before he has a six month wait list.

The eldest Daughter was a super big help ripping off the old wallpaper too.  Her and her cousin, Little J, got right in there with me and got their hands dirty.  Kids are always so excited to destroy something, aren’t they?

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This was the easy part though, the backing took me almost 5 days to get off. I used 4L of vinegar, the hottest water I could stand in a kettle, a wallpaper steamer and I emptied out my roundup bottle and filled it with water because spraying water on was so much easier than sponging it on.  If you’re ever removing wallpaper, a spray bottle like this will be your BFF.


Once the wallpaper was off, I got to start painting and the faster I got to painting, the faster I got to putting the furniture back and rearranging the room which meant FUN WAS COMING!  The main colour of the room is Basketry by Behr  and the closet is Brown Velvet by Valspar.  I also had to try and match up the gold colour in the hallway to repaint where the linen closet was and I got it almost spot on with Pyramid Gold by Behr.


I’m so lucky Nan and Pops were so far away and there was no danger of them coming home for anything.  Could you imagine coming home to your bedroom SURPRISE looking like this?!  Insert scared, bug-eyed face here!

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Eventually it all came together as it should. Once the paint was on, the plugs and fixtures were changed out and a new ceiling fan went up.

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A fresh coat of paint and a a new shade and this lamp was transformed also.


The closet shelving was finished and all the drywall put up to seal off the walls that were knocked down.  In the process we had to change the flooring in the closet as well so I chose a vintage looking laminate that resembled barn wood to go with the barn-style doors I built.

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Doors you built, you say?  YES!  I built these doors.  The door on their closet has been long gone forever and I always thought it was sort of silly being there anyway because you had to close it to get at what was behind it inside.  I started thinking a pocket door would be a great idea but that’s a lot of work to put in after the fact and the wall space on either side of the closet door wasn’t wide enough to house one pocket door, it would need to have two.  My idea was to build two sliding style barn doors that would meet in the center and close off the closet.

I bought 6 cedar decking boards, some PL400, garage door hardware, a sliding barn door track from my local farm store, a can of metallic black spray paint and I got to work.  The mitre saw and palm sander the Farmer gave me for Christmas came in super handy for my project too!

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I glued the boards together (three to a side) and secured them with ratchet straps overnight to make sure the glue would set.  While it was drying, I spray painted the track in a hammered metallic black. The next day, I sanded down the boards and any excess glue that seeped out and then I hand stained them with a rag.  I used Minwax Jacobean stain and 2 coats of wipe on polyurethane after letting the stain dry for 24 hours.  My very kind brother-in-law hung them for me and once they were up, I taped it off and painted the extra brackets also.

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 They turned out great, I was so pleased with the way it looked and just had to home Nan and Pops would be too.  Pops is really into antiques and vintage things like I am but the Nan likes more classic decor so I was a little worried about her.  As it turns out, they were both blown away and loved them as much as I did.

Next step was to refill the closet.  Everything went back in quite beautifully however, there will be some trips to Goodwill after I help Nan do a good closet purge.

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Now there was nothing left to do but start redecorating!  I ordered new grommet panels for the windows and a new duvet cover set for the bed from Amazon, vinyl wall art (and iron-on pillow art!) from WordPlay Designs and picked up two magnet boards from Ikea then went scavenging around the house and stole an area rug, a chair and ottoman, plants, vases, bookends and photographs and their whole room came together beautifully.

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It turned out amazing.  AH-MAZE-ING.  Every time I went over to check on the house while they were away I would go up there and sit for a few minutes because it was so relaxing to me; I loved being there surrounded by so many things they loved.  The only thing left for me to do was keep my cakehole zipped up until they got home!  I sat on it very well but the hardest part was actually keeping the Daughters’ from telling them about it on the phone.  Kids love leaking secrets as much as they love destroying wallpaper…

FINALLY on Wednesday night at 8:00pm they came home.  They showed up to our house first and not even 16 seconds after I finished telling the Daughters’ not to say anything and that we would go over to their house to show them the surprise, they blurted out “WE HAVE A SURPRISE FOR YOU!!!”  So off we went to their house.

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And they fell in love with their new room too.  THE END.  Almost.

Now, I am the QUEEN of surprises and I challenge anyone to surprise me like I can surprise you (but don’t rip my house apart because I love it mmmmkkkkay?!) but that’s not the end of the story.  Last night, Nan and Pops offered to take the Daughters for a sleepover so the Farmer and I went out for supper with the SIL and BIL.  When we came home, I saw this in the entryway:

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I immediately think to myself “hmmm, that’s a weird place for a piece of plastic, where did that come from?  Why would the Farmer have left it right there?  Silly Farmer, that’s dangerous.”  So I walk over and pick it up and I turn around to see this on my wall:

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Shit.  You got me.  It’s the most beautiful mirror MADE by Nan and Pops’ Arizona neighbour.  He collects old cowboy boots in his travels and takes them apart to make these treasures.  Him and his wife are wonderful and I love them dearly (like I love all their neighbours).  They told Nan and Pops they wanted us to have one because we showed such an interest when we were down there.  They’re the sweetest couple on the planet to give us this and I am so grateful to know them; my life is truly blessed.

I hope you enjoyed and are inspired by the DIY transformation.  The End (for real).  Kim.


3 thoughts on “Nan and Pops’ Surprise MEGA-RENO

  1. Your mom and dad are very special people and I know that because you my little friend are one awesome daughter, daughter in law, niece, mom, aunt and friend. Love you so much


  2. Pingback: Spring Cleaning: Wall Washing | MyHusbandTheFarmer

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