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Style and Beauty

One family's DIY home makeover

Interior decorator, DIY expert and busy mom-of-two Sarah Gunn has won the storage war in her Oakville, Ont., home. See how she transformed three rooms into organized and stylish spaces.

Room to grow

DIY magic: Home decor

There are no ifs, ands or buts about it – the way you use and decorate your home completely changes once you bring home a baby. Function immediately rules over fashion, and areas once destined for a home office or a guest room quickly becomes headquarters for bouncy chairs and baby swings, and later, for toy land.

Now that my boys, Jacob, 6, and Cooper, 4, are growing up, my desire to create both pretty and useful spaces has returned. My foyer, basement-turned-playroom and Cooper’s bedroom were all in need of a refresh. Here’s how we conquered the clutter and satisfied our need for more space.

Above: Sarah with Cooper (left) and Jacob (right)

A version of this article appeared in our September 2013 issue of Today's Parent with the headline “Room to grow,” pp.104-108.

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Entryway appeal

As first impressions go, our home was far from fabulous and even further from functional. I spruced up this chair and dresser – both budget-friendly finds from Kijiji – with new coats of colourful paint. The drawers are perfect for tucking away smaller items, and the small tray is a great place to empty your pockets and ensure that keys and sunglasses aren’t misplaced.

Organizing tip: Designate a spot to drop your mail when you enter the house. One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Stencilled walls and rugs

Stencilling a pattern on the walls in high-traffic areas not only adds style, but it helps disguise pesky fingerprints and marks, too. You can also give an inexpensive rug a makeover using a stencil and latex paint!

Watch more: DIY stencil rug how-to video

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Photo finish

Preserving family memories is a snap with this Instagram collage. Print photos and arrange them on a large gallery-style canvas until you are happy with the layout. Apply Mod Podge to the canvas. Smooth each photo in place. When dry, cover the entire piece with Mod Podge to protect it.

Organizing tip: To maximize the space in a small room, use drapes instead of closet doors and add floor cushions to transform it into a cozy hideaway or reading nook.

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Big kid bedroom

While Cooper was in a big-boy bed, his room still looked like a nursery. I wanted to give him something he could grow into, while adding much-needed storage.

Fabric baskets in the closet keep toys and extra linens (for those late-night bed changes) within easy reach. The board and batten on the bottom half of the wall helps the room feel more spacious, and light colours and geometric patterns keep the look fresh.

Organizing tip: Tape photos of toys that belong in each bucket so even the tiniest tot can help tidy up. Velcro the bins to the bottom of the drawers so they don’t move around. One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

DIY bookshelf

After a coat of spray paint and some sticker labels, an office-supply organizer doubles as a bookshelf in Cooper’s closet.

Read more: DIY painted book-holder>

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Art attack!

Let the kids get creative. Wrap old cans with colourful scrapbook paper to hold markers, crayons, paintbrushes and other craft supplies. Jars with lids are ideal for housing smaller items like paper clips and pompoms.

Decor tip: Hang art at your child’s eye level where he can see and enjoy it. Make sure it’s secure. One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Fun prints

Simple graphic prints are a fun and inexpensive way to brighten up a room.

Decor tip: You'll find lots of talented artists online who are willing to create custom prints at a reasonable cost. One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Basement living

Like most homes, our basement serves several functions: It’s a playroom, movie theatre, storage space, and, when guests visit, a spare bedroom.

In order to make this room work for everyone, we needed to make some major changes. Our number one goal was to hide the clutter by designating a spot for the boys’ toys and games.

Organizing tip: Close the door on clutter by using a wardrobe to store larger toys and dress-up clothes.

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Colour coded drawers

Use paint to colour code the inside of the drawers and assign one to each member of the family – no more sorting through toys and stray mittens to find your wallet!

Organizing tip: Multi-purpose pieces of furniture are perfect for shared spaces. Kids can snuggle up with a book, the drawers provide extra storage, and there’s somewhere for guests to sleep.

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Wall candy

Create a place for kids to display their art using chalkboard paint. Frame the whole “gallery” with decorative moulding to make it stand out. Adding chalk-drawn frames to their creations finishes the look. Quotes or silly sayings can fill any empty corners.

Read more: DIY chalkboard wall>

Decor tip: Before using the chalkboard, rub the entire surface with the side of a piece of chalk, then wipe clean with a damp cloth to maintain the finish. One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

Word play

Capture your kid's sweet or silly childhood sayings by creating graphic word art made from scrapbook paper. Use a simple colour palette and experiment with different patterns.

Decor tip: Having a hard time parting with your child’s baby clothes? Frame your favourites. Showing the graphics of beloved onesies adds colour to the walls without looking too juvenile. Attach adhesive picture-hanging strips to the back of each frame, and use a level to keep them evenly spaced.

One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Roberto Caruso

More DIY home decor

Nursery decor: forest-themed baby's room>
This DIY forest-themed nursery is a fun project to work on while awaiting your little one's arrival. One family's DIY home makeoverPhoto: Janet Bailey

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