outdated bathroom mirror glow up


As well documented, I'm a fan of taking the route entitled "FREE, OR VERY CLOSE TO FREE, HOME IMPROVEMENT." It's been like this for all the years of homeownership, and regardless of any future budget size decisions, I think it will remain so. It's the most fun, at least for us Cisneros's over here.

So imagine my extreme delight when Chad told me that we were going to DO SOMETHING with the old, came-with-the-house mirror that *I* had stored on *his* work bench in the garage. I told him, "GREAT! I know exactly what we should do: make a gigantic mirror for the downstairs hallway!" Desperate to get it away from his workspace, he said, "sure!" GOOD HUSBAND.

It's one of these mirrors, the type we have all across America in every single new build:

So sad. So much potential. 

This gigantic-mirror-desire-for-our-downstairs-hallway sprung out of what other than... perusing Anthropologie and salivating over their GIGANTIC GORGEOUS FLOOR MIRRORS. That particular mirror set is JUST TOO GOOD. So gorgeous. So pricey. But I completely understand why! Do you know how much joy that would bring a human being to walk by everyday? Definitely worth it. 

However, if you just so happen to have a 5x3' mirror lying around on your husband's work bench, and could envision adding an additional foot to the top and bottom to make it similar proportions to Anthro's, then hey my friend, you are in luck.

Alright! So I was bad and hardly took any pictures of us making this, but here was the gist:

1. We got a super rough, large piece of plywood (OSB? Proper name?) to glue the mirror to, and then at the bottom, Chad used teensy, tiny screws to act as a sort of shelf for the mirror. Heaven forbid it should slide down, it would be held up by the tiny screws, and held BACK by the upper part of the frame.

2. Once that dried, Chad cut a piece of sanded plywood into the 4 sides of the frame. The frame exceeds the original piece of plywood, which ultimately hides it. 

3. I then black washed it - who knew that was a thing? I mixed equal parts black paint with water. I wanted the grain to show through, but didn't want a chestnut-type vibe, which is all the stain we had. I was very happy with the result.

4. Then, in order to ensure it would stay on the wall despite 3 kids, a large dog and us walking by it thousand of times (SUPER high traffic area), we decided it was best to screw it straight into the wall. THAT THANG AIN'T GOIN' NO WHERE. 

STOKED. It's 100% what I had envisioned in that space from the second we walked through the house. Isn't it funny how your VERY FIRST instinct on how to decorate a space is the RIGHT way to do it? There have been soooooo many instances where I have a vision, execute said vision, then because I change my mind all the time, think it would be better to rearrange - without fail, I always end up switching it back to what I had initially envisioned. It makes me feel great about going with my gut!

Wahoooooooooo for a project that PACKS A SERIOUS PUNCH. YASSSSS.

gigantic walls = gigantic need to be filled


Folks!!! True to form, my thoughts for the GIGANTIC walls that make up our entryway, living room and dining room were, as a surprise to no one, GIGANTIC. But guess what comes with GIGANTIC thoughts for GIGANTIC walls.


So, again true to form, we decided to chuck the idea of hiring someone to put up some board and batten and also to NOT go with the 16+' bookcases full of glorious lighting, and instead went for something a little less... expensive. SO much less expensive, in fact, that it was FREE.

That's a GIGANTIC YES to me over here, Nicole El-Cheapo Cisneros! WIN.

I walked out into the garage one day, sick of staring at the giant greyish white-ish walls in that front, dominant room - I laid down a humongous piece of smooth plywood we just happened to have out there (leftover from the phase 1 kitchen backsplash project), then opened up the quart-or-so of paint we had left over from painting the playroom a deep green.

I started painting the bottom third of the plywood, then added some white to the paint that was left. About 20 minutes later, I ombre'd another third of the plywood, then repeated the process another 20 minutes later. Chad then screwed the entire 9x4' of my new art to the wall, created a frame made out of moulding to it, and




So we kept it like that for months and months - my green beauty just standing by herself. Then out of no where I had this intense itch to add to it - either it was time for us to take the green beaut off the wall and DIY ourselves some 16' bookcases or we needed to add some complimentary art to ol' greenie.



Again TRUE TO FORM, I went for the cheap option - walked back into the garage and created some more art! This time from leftover bulletin boards we had out there. I FREAKING LOVE IT.

Still not over the whole experience; a little creativity and we no longer have a large, white, empty wall AND we never shelled out the 7 billion dollars for the contractors. I'm calling that a win for the time being!

kitchen update! still on phase 1 but man oh man, do we love it

* I'll be returning to add links to everything once I figure out how to do it on Chad's laptop haha!

Guys - phase 1 renovations? They're my best friend, mainly because if you know me, you know I can be one heck of a cheapo. Phase 1 endeavors - they're budget conscious, sign me up. 

Okay! So here is where I left the kitchen last time on this here recorder:

Oh we felt so dang cool taking down those upper cabinets! Just two humans knocking 1997 to the curb, living their best lives. 

So since that picture, we painted the whole house the super light gray, including that back wall. For several months, the whole kitchen was just one large, light gray nothing. We had a plastic bag over the exhaust hole thing, and that's how we lived! The idea behind it was that we wanted to "really" renovate the kitchen - new everything. Appliances, cabinets, countertops - you name it, we wanted it to be NEW!

But... we sort of felt like giant losers for tearing our kitchen apart without having saved a dime for that particular endeavor - I mean, kitchen renovations are things you hear about people preparing YEARS for. So to get us through, I suggested a phase 1 renovation.

I found these cheap peel-and-stick tiles online - WALMART, can you even believe it? we decided to go bold with the patterns and cabinet colors because, after all, it's a phase 1! You can't go wrong with paint and tiles that cost $10 a box! SOLD. 

So anyway, I'm going out of order here with these pictures so far. Here's how it went down:

  1. We put up the peel-and-stick tiles on the back wall, along with the IKEA shelves and Chad's amazingly constructed hood vent we got from Wayfair.
  2. We built a 10' long island to replace our janky, work bench-esque island we had made in the garage.
  3. It was time to get rid of the honey oak cabinets, so I took all the doors off and, over the span of 9 days, painted them this olive green - INSPIRED FROM THE QUEEN JENNY KOMENDA'S PHASE 1 KITCHEN IN HER HOME.
  4. We installed these champagne gold hardware straight from - wait for it - Amazon. CAN YOU SAY EASY PEASY? I'll say it again: PHASE 1 RENOVATIONS ARE THE DANG BEST.
This has got to be the laziest blog post of all time. There was so much that went into each of those endeavors, but I'm running short on time here, so details have been kicked to the curb baha! I just want to keep up to date up in here. Okay, here are a few pictures of each phase!

We got the back wall up, but hadn't tackled the island or the cabinets, here. I don't hate it, though! In fact, on Instagram, I got several comments and DM's of people complimenting a "cool space with oak cabinets" - can't say I didn't feel super awesome hearing that:

This breakfast nook situation had ALWAYS been awkward - it was too small for ANY table, but too large to keep open. So odd. It doesn't look particularly bad here, but in-person, it was weird:

Here's our 10' island, pre-cabinet-painting. Chad did such a great job:

Painting the cabinets:
Where the ol' girl sits now, curtains up:

We're still not done though! We still have this last wall to configure. It will require a new fridge (OBVIOUSLY), a new built-in pantry situation and probably a desk to go where that side table thing is right now. Again, it's all temporary until we feel ready to really rock and roll - but until that day, I'm proud of what we've done.

It's funny - my home bears a TON on my peace of mind. If I don't feel settled/aesthetically pleased, I truly don't share my house with loved ones. I know, I know - that's not the right way to go about life. But it's how I am! Giving this space some love has had such a huge bearing on my peace of mind, so I've noticed: WE'VE GOTTEN OUR ENTERTAINING MOJO BACK! We used to have people over ALL the time in our rentals, before we actually cared about the state of the abode. But in the homes we've owned, if we don't like what we're looking at, I've noticed we go into hiding a bit. Chad and I are social butterflies at our core, so I'm so thrilled to say we've gotten back to that point, all just through GIVING OUR HOMES LOVE. I mean, wow man!

Okay, that's deep, but for us it's true! 

when art costs 5 billion dollars

Felix Wallpaper

Welp, since a good ol' Jackson Pollock piece is out of the budget for the foreseeable future (more like the ENTIRE future hahaha), I've got to get creative up in here. Mama wants some art. In fact it's actually imperative, at this point. Ever since we painted the walls the lightest gray imaginable (we lightened the Toasty Gray 50%), and then painted a few accent walls a barely-discernable-from-the-light-gray warmish white, people now think our house is one of those feng-shui homes where minimalism rules the land - NOT our intention hahaha.

I just LOVE myself some HUMONGOUS, ALL-ENCOMPASSING, LIFE-GIVING AND DID I MENTION HUGE abstract art. While watching Million Dollar Listing LA last week, it struck me: I'm going to jimmy-rig a huge art installation that spans the front living room where the second story ceilings reign supreme.

I'm SO STOKED. Okay so I'm going to order this removable wallpaper from this amazingly adorable couple who's Instagram I love, then I'm going to have Chad build a giant 8.5x4.5 foot frame with some drywall to keep it light and flat for the application, THEN I'm going to put the wallpaper on that frame and hang the whole dang thing up - BAM!!!!!

It's going to be so sexy. I actually cannot even. And guess what? The whole thing is going to cost under $400 because this house of ours sucks up every dollar and, as mentioned, big mama can't be goin' out to buy any Pollock's any time soon, ya dig? 


temporary-kitchen, heck yes!

(Guys. This "before?" Literally doesn't even look that bad to me, save for the outdatedness - THIS ALWAYS HAPPENS! Chad and I think something's HORRIBLE, so we tear it apart, only for me to look at the "before" pictures and think, "hey, what was so wrong with that?" :D )

So I've noticed a pattern with Chad and I: we have very lofty, giant-sized ideas (with giant sized imaginary budgets), but then get knocked down to size once we start to really do some research on just how that project would play out. Such was the situation with our kitchen (as was with our floors... furniture... probably more things that I'm not thinking of right now). In 2018 we tore it apart with the intention of completely renovating later in the year. I'm talking a full-gut-level-HGTV-sledgehammer-I'm-pretending-to-be-a-designer type of deal. Well guess what? Apparently, if one wants to completely rip out every last tile, cabinet and island electrical do-dad, one should probably have been saving for that goal years ahead of time - BAHA! Oops. But at least it wasn't 1999 up in there after our on-the-fly demo day! #impulsivenicoleandchad

(Unedited photos because who has time for that?)

So anyway, we lived with our ripped-to-shreds-kitchen throughout 2018, even adding a nice coat of paint to the bareness of it all (feeble attempts to make it better hahaha!). Some people actually complimented us on the "minimalism" of the whole thing - thanks, friends, for being nice humans hahaha! The unspoken understanding between Chad and I was that we would tackle the space in 2019, giving us time to actually honor the whole thing, budget-wise. About a week ago, though, we decided that permanent-awesome-amazing-humongo-kitchen was going to need to wait until 2020 - waa waa. But I'm actually stoked. That way we can do it RIGHT, but in the meantime, something has to happen in that sad space!

Enter TEMPORARY-KITCHEN! Guys, I'm so stoked. Guess what we're going to do. GUESS! Okay so temporary-backsplash is happening. Then IKEA will be coming in hot with those cheaply-priced-but-pretty-and-very-wipable open shelves and good ol' Wayfair has our back in regards to a pretty-but-not-too-pricey range hood! All of these components are well priced - priority 1 was to make sure we went into the whole buying-of-things with the mindset that this is more of a "get us through" kitchen - not the big cahuna of materials and design. STOKED.

We've hit one snafu - as I went to get started on the whole install this last weekend, we found that the stick-to-the-wall vinyl tiles I got (I know - vinyl?! But seriously those things have come a long way since the 80's or whenever it was that they looked so tacky! I was referred to them via a few of my favorite designer's instagram posts) did not really stick to the wall. In fact they came falling OFF the wall. So I'm going to re-order another package along with some stronger adhesive and a few sheets of plywood to make the whole project actually STICK - get it?! Stick! Baha! But who cares about problems like that when you get pictures like this:

(I'm sexy and I know it.)

Then for the island who's size we love, I'm going to take a little stroll on down to State College to see if they have any leftover stone lying around - I mean, how pricey could that possibly be to just place a thing of stone over it? We love that island!

You know, in matters unrelated, it still blows my mind that some humans out there can just move into a house and instantly have the whole thing put together in a matter of weeks - some people even within the first day! We've been here for almost 2 years and we're STILL not even close. I'm not even talking about giant architectural elements like floors, kitchen and bath remodels - I'm talking DECORATIVE. Art. Side tables. Candle sticks. Frames. Throw blankets. The list goes on! Like this is wild! It is a WILLLLLLLLLLD FREAKING RIDE that requires a ridiculous amount of patience. I mean, sheesh man! I know I love this stuff so much so it's all good but man! Interior design gods, please show favor to us Cisneros', if even just on the level of patience! Okay, done!

paint is on the walls, people, paint is. on. the. walls.

Guys, we've painted the house - WITH OUR OWN BARE HANDS. The whole time we've lived here, which is creeping up on 2 years, we've loathed the beige color scheme, although it really wasn't too bad. It just felt like we were living in our parent's homes, you know? So of course, personalization was needed.

However! The entire time we've been here, we hadn't pulled the trigger on this particular (seemingly basic) endeavor because the entry is two-stories high so it was a safety issue for us to deploy our usual DIY tactics and, in an effort to be "adults," we wanted to hire someone to do it for quality purposes - we're getting to that point where we can clearly see the difference between a professional's work and.... ours. But the safety issue was paramount! Every time someone was giving us advice on the whole paint thing, the first thing they would say is something along the lines of, "you guys have kids - you can't go and fall off an 18 foot ladder and injure yourselves" - rightly so!

So you know what our solution was in order to cut costs on what we thought we would be doing at the time, which was to hire someone? We started buying gallons of paint every week and just painting what we could - so no second story painting, just the first floor and of course hallways, bedrooms, etc. BUT! Guys, it was so irritating to have to call a paint company then wait for service when we were LIVING in a half painted house! We just wanted it DONE!!!!!! So we called up our trusty friends who own a gigantor ladder and just said "F IT! Let's do this!"

So we rolled up our sleeves and got to painting that second story room which took us 3 days, if I recall correctly. GUYS IT WAS SOOOOOOOO SCARY!!

Chad did 90% of it while I stood at the bottom of the ladder so it wouldn't slide out from under him. Then, when it was my turn to get on up there to finish off some detail work, I was SO TERRIFIED. I KEPT SAYING "I CAN'T BELIEVE I ALLOWED YOU TO DO THIS, THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN, LOVE OF MY LIFE, BEST FRIEND, HUSBAND - HERE WE ARE RISKING OUR LIVES TO PAINT THE STUPID HOUSE OMG WHAT ARE WE THINKING HOLY SHIT DO YOU HAVE THE LADDER? ARE YOU HOLDING IT?! OMG OMG OMG WHAT ARE WE THINKING?!"

But guess FREAKING what?! It got done!!! We did a SUPER light gray and then a white on the walls where we are going to do a gigantic batten board project that I can't wait to do. Kota keeps telling me that all I ever want to do is paint our houses white (the gray really is so light it can be mistaken for white), to which I have responded, "there are worse things in life!" I love white what is my deal?

(Batten board project will be similar to this but with larger-scaled rectangles as opposed to those smaller squares)

The play room is painted a super dark green that I LOVE. It's our only room that is an actual color and I'm obsessed with it. It's so life giving. More on that later, it deserves it's own post.

Also! We've been scooping up the last of the large scale furniture pieces little by little. What's left is the girl's beds and then two more tables, nightstands for our room and then we'll move on the to the details that makes it all feel warm and cozy.

THEN! Floors and kitchen and then down the line, legit window treatments, at which point Chad will surely text me, "hey I put an offer in on a new house, we're moving!" Bahahha! No I'm kidding, but am I?! The man is not done moving!!!! HOW?! I can't even imagine, but then again, Chad and I are basically the same human in so many ways so I know I've got maybe 2 more moves in me. Maybe one more here in Corona then once the kids are raised and if my family is still in South OC, a move back? LISTEN TO ME I'M SICK IN THE HEAD!

So anyways, CHEERS TO PAINT!

No floors, just furniture

Welp, that one time where I declared that we were going to spend a few buckaroos on flooring never happened folks. I wrote that post earlier this year when our house (which we'd been living in for 1 year at the time), was completely empty, totally devoid of any furniture (the first 12 months of residency consisted of us getting rid of our past buys. Note to self: sell furniture with houses). So what happened was that right before we pulled the trigger on the floors, I shot a fast text to my mom and sister, two humans who (unfortunately for them) are always my sounding board when it comes to house stuff - sorry guys, for complaining about floors all the time!

Anyway, I asked them if we should buy floors or furniture - what did they think. The text message went something like this: "Hey, trusted advisors. We may or may not listen to you, but if you were us, what would you do, floors (which will mean that we'll still be living in an empty house for quite a bit longer) or buy furniture despite the fact that you loathe the floors you're living on which could make an impression on the furniture you buy?"

Immediately both of them responded with the "buy furniture" option - my sister even said something pretty dang profound: she told me to "get comfortable in our house." I mean, what a concept.  Honestly, they were beyond correct. We were so uncomfortable living in total desolation, comfy-ness wise. We had only one single couch (the only piece of furniture we chose to keep after dumping all the rest because none of it worked in this place) upon which to sit and watch tv AS A FAMILY OF FIVE. There were no rugs. There were no chairs. It was just the ol' beige couch we had purchased on our 1 year wedding anniversary, the black buffet thing we had bought with our wedding money and that was it, people. (In reading that back it sounds like I'm complaining about the "minimalist" ways in which we were living - obviously it was our choice to get rid of everything else. No complaints!)

So I asked Chad what he thought and we both agreed that maybe we should swing by the (only) local furniture superstore, Jeromes, in order to infuse some comfort into our lives. We swiftly bought a few pieces of furniture, including the 

family room couches (you guys it has always been this weird dream of mine to own two of the same sofa's and have them face each other flanking a fire place - dream. was. realized. Although we have switched the arrangement up since then, as seen right here), 

a sofa for the living room (we are painting in there at the moment, hence the ladder), 

a new bed frame and mattress for Chad and I (this was actually the first ever REAL bed frame situation we've ever had!), 

and one last FREAKING AWESOME find: a charcoal Z Gallerie Hayes recliner (that looks like anything but a recliner). 

There were also a few Home Goods finds scattered in there too, like an ottoman coffee table. And one can never forget about the couple of IKEA dressers for the kids rooms. Honestly IKEA is the best, man. Cheap? Yes. Cheap quality? Perhaps. But you know what, who cares when the internet is full of hacks to make those cheapy pieces prettier. Also, RUGS! We got a few large scale rugs and I love them so much.

Guys I'm so happy we got ourselves some furniture. It really did make us like the house we live in. Before, when we were "cuddling" on the hardwood floors for lack of any better option, there really were a few moments of buyers remorse hahaha! Funny now, not so funny then. I really thought, "wow, great job, Nicole and Chad. Way to go buy a house that you were completely unequipped to furnish OR renovate to your liking. Great move." 

BUT NOW I do not feel like that! The buying of the furniture made me feel like we are totally able to just do small things, little by little. A $35 can of paint for the living room? Sure! That purchase was nothing compared to the onslaught of purchases from Jeromes. Hang some IKEA curtains? Yeah, why the heck not! $40-50 for that? Yes. A candle stick here and there from Pottery Barn - yes. Do you see what I mean? It got us started on the whole dang house! 

So thanks, mom and sister! Without that advice, we'd (maybe) still be living in an empty rectangle of suburbia, albeit one with nice floors - ;D.