Duo Ventures

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Nursery: VuSee Universal Baby Monitor Shelf Review

We started Sami out in his crib a few months ago - right before he turned 3 months old.  Between swaddles & not being able to roll over yet, we felt comfortable with placing the monitor at the opposite end of the crib on the railing:

Fast forward a couple of months and he's starting to move around & roll over - which meant we needed to find a different & safer home for the monitor.

As luck would have it, the makers of the VuSee offered to send us one of their universal baby monitor shelves to try out - it couldn't have been better timing!

The VuSee was created by a dad who was trying to solve a few problems regarding the placement of their baby monitor.  Not wanting to set the monitor on the crib due to the strangulation risks & visibility issues, he found a safe & non-permanent solution that allows for a clear view of the entire crib.

It's a very simple, but effective design - the angled shelf is attached to the wall using 3M Command Strips & works with any baby monitor.  All you need is some rubbing alcohol to install:

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Our Hamptons Inspired Nursery: Final Reveal!

In case you missed it, we welcomed the arrival of our first baby four months ago on April 19th, 2015!

This post has been a long time coming, as we meant to post it before Sami came...
better late than never, right?!

When we found out we were expecting a boy, we were super excited to start putting the nursery together.  Here's our original design plan:

 We strayed a little from some of our initial ideas & over time the nursery developed more of a travel/nautical vibe - without being too literal, as we didn't want anything too theme specific.  Think, Hamptons meets World Traveler meets baby ;)

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Sami's Bradley Method Birth Story

While preparing for the arrival of our first baby, we found that reading birth stories online was very helpful & informative.  Although we did read several books on childbirth, there was something about reading someone's real life experience that was even more insightful & interesting.  So, on the off chance that we could help someone else out, I decided to share our experience.

From the beginning of my pregnancy we had talked about a labor & delivery that was free of medication & interventions.  A family friend recommended that we research the Bradley Method for natural childbirth.  As I am a habitual procrastinator, we missed the deadline to sign up for Bradley classes & ended up reading the book instead (2 months before his due date at that).  The photos in the book are a bit dated (circa 1970), but we found the information to be very helpful.

One of the key points that the book points out is that there are not only physical stages of labor, but emotional ones as well.  This method also focuses a lot on relaxation & breathing to get you through labor.  Another key message of the book is the idea of husband coached labor.

Our main goals:
-labor at home for as long as humanly possible (apparently many people head to the hospital too early & that is when interventions are more likely to happen)
-avoid epidural & induction if possible
-intermittent fetal monitoring & no IV (so I could get up & move around during labor)

FYI: the rest of this post is very detailed & somewhat graphic, but hey - that's the reality of labor & delivery.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

The Nursery: Custom IKEA Hemnes Dresser

 Anyone who has researched changing tables or dressers for a nursery has inevitably come across the IKEA Hemnes 8-drawer Dresser.  We decided to jump on the Hemnes bandwagon too...here's why:

-it's not too modern or traditional and fits a wide range of tastes & decor
-it's made of solid pine instead of particle board
-it's the perfect size to double as a changing table
-it will transition & grow with your child
-at $229, it's reasonably priced for the storage & quality you get
-you can easily customize it by changing out the drawer pulls

The only thing we had to decide on was the color of the dresser- more specifically, we had to choose between the "white" & the "white stain" options.  The "white" dresser is more of your typical IKEA white - which is not really a true white & has more of a sheen to it.  The "white stain" option is more of a true white color & has a flat finish.  It is slightly transparent, in that you can see some of the wood grain through the finish, but it's hardly noticeable.

In our opinion, the white stain looked more high end & natural.  The transparency of the stain didn't bother us either, as we liked the more rustic look of it.  It really comes down to your personal preference, but we decided to go with the white stain.

As with any IKEA furniture, it can be a bit daunting at the beginning.  Our advice is to lay everything out in an organized fashion, making sure you have the correct number of pieces as you go (including the hardware & fasteners).  The dresser comes in 3 separate boxes:

With the two of us, it took about 2 hours to assemble.  There were a couple of steps that had us scratching our heads, but we eventually figured it out.  It's better to take your time & do it correctly, so you don't have to go back & re-do anything.

We didn't install the drawers knobs, since we planned on customizing the dresser with different pulls from Hobby Lobby.  We narrowed it down to two options - stars & pulls (the original knobs that came with the dresser are on the far left):

Nader preferred the stars & Mel preferred the pulls, but in the end we went with the more whimsical star pulls.  We waited until they were 50% off & bought 12 new pulls:

Friday, June 5, 2015

The Nursery: DIY Marquee Star Clock

While shopping for nursery decor, one item that I couldn't seem to find was a clock - so I decided to make my own.  So, for the last couple of months, my mom & I were always on the lookout for anything that we could turn into a clock...

One day @ Michael's I spotted this cute light up marquee star that was on sale & my mom suggested we use it for the clock...and bonus - it would double as a nightlight!  We picked up a clock kit & some number stickers while we there too:

Monday, May 18, 2015

The Nursery: Gallery Wall

Our little Sami was born last month on April 19th!  So while he naps, I'm catching up on some nursery posts.

Since I am notorious for being indecisive, my mom & I decided the best plan would be to cut out templates before putting any holes in the wall.  We used some brown builders paper (leftover form our mini kitchen reno) & washi tape.  After playing around with the arrangement, we came up with this layout:

Sunday, May 17, 2015


Introducing our little man  :)

One of these days we will finish posting about the nursery...

Nader & Mel

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Nursery: Paint Colors

In out last nursery post we outlined our board & batten wall install - now it's on to paint!

Can you believe that we have never painted swatches on the wall when choosing paint colors?  So far, we have been pretty lucky that our choices worked out.  However, we decided to get some samples up on the walls before we made our decision this time around since we will be using 2 different colors in the nursery.

We decided to try (A)Cool Metalwork Grey & (B)Granite Grey by Glidden for the board & batten wall color.  For the rest of room, we tried out (C)Pebble Grey &(D)Sutton Place Grey by Glidden:

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Nursery: Board & Batten Wall Install

The first project we tackled from our nursery design plan was the board & batten wall.  It was actually a fairy simple & inexpensive project that really transformed the space & gave it some character.

There are a lot of tutorials out there on how to install a board & batten wall, so I'll just detail our experience in regards to how we planned & executed this project.

Here's a before shot of what used to be the guest room (please excuse the mess):

First off, we had to decide on a grid pattern.  I had always really liked the wall that Sarah installed in her guest bedroom, so that was our main inspiration.

With that grid pattern in mind, we measured the height & width of our wall to figure out how many boards we would need.  Our sketch looked something like this:

The spaces between the boards are not perfectly square, but it will look OK to the naked eye.

After we had our measurements, we headed to Lowe's & bought eight 12 foot long primed 1" x 4" boards (as you can see in our sketch, the actual board width is 3.5", not 4").  We decided to go with primed boards instead of raw wood boards because the raw pine had many surface imperfections & it would have required more finishing work in the end.  The boards were originally $9.46 each, but we had a coupon & got them for $8.51 each.

We started by removing the baseboard for board & batten wall only (we kept our original baseboards around the rest of the room).  To do this, we ran a knife along the top of the baseboard, before prying it off with a crow bar:

To attach the boards, we used a combo of liquid nails & a nail gun (with 1-1/4" nails):

We started by installing the horizontal bottom base board & top board.  Afterwards, we attached the vertical left & right boards.  It's important to measure each board individually because walls are rarely, if ever, perfectly square & level.  In our case, each board was a slightly different length:

Here's a close up of the corner - it looked rough at this point, but caulk & joint compound can fix just about anything:

Next, we centered the vertical middle board on the wall:

From there, we centered the right, then left board (again, measuring the height individually before cutting them):

At this point, my dad cut a "spacer" board which would ensure consistent spacing.  He also used a scrap piece of wood to lightly hammer the horizontal boards into place when it was a tight fit:

Once we got going, the whole project moved pretty quickly.

Here it is all finished (but before caulk & joint compound):

Next, we began covering up all the seams, gaps, & imperfections using paintable caulk & joint compound:

We used the paintable caulk to cover all the seams where the boards met the wall, using a finger to smooth out the caulk.  It's also a good idea to have a piece of cardboard or a rag handy so you can wipe off all that excess caulk:

You can see the difference that caulk makes in covering up all the gaps:

Next, we used joint compound to fill in the nail holes & any gaps where board met board:

Once everything was dry, I sanded the drywall mud until everything was smooth.  That was it!

Next up, paint!


Sunday, February 15, 2015

The Garage: Ceiling Storage

While finishing the nursery is our main priority right now, we are also working on a couple of organizational projects in the garage.  We installed a peg board last January, but we haven't touched the rest of the garage since then.

Before we installed the peg board, we had to shift all the shelving units to the right & next to the wall in order to fit the 3 pegboard panels on the left side of the wall (where that white wire shelf unit is located in the photo).  That meant all the wood, drywall, & extra building materials that were stuffed in that gap had to come out:

Since then, all those extra building materials have been leaning on the wall & scattered throughout the garage - taking up space & looking very cluttered.

  First, my dad helped me sort through everything to determine what was 'trash' versus 'keep' & then we discussed a storage solution.  I knew I wanted to take advantage of our ceiling for storage - particularly in the space between the ceiling & the garage door track (we do not use a garage door opener @ this point so that's a non-issue).

Apologies in advance for the poor lighting & photo documenting of the building process - I should have moved the giant piece of 2" x 8" & drywall off of the garage door rails so you could see better.  Anyways, this is the area I'm talking about:

The first thing my dad did was find the studs in the ceiling:

After taking some measurements, he designed a simple storage solution - all made out of 2 x 4's.  We made a list of what we needed, ran to Home Depot for supplies, & started building.

He cut 2 long pieces and then:
(1) attached a middle brace piece on each board
(2) pre-drilled some holes in the long boards (to attach them to the ceiling):

Then he screwed them into the studs:

(don't mind that piece of wood on the left end of the board he's attaching - he used it for measurement purposes):

Next, he attached 2 more of the long boards to the bottom of the middle pieces:

Finally, he screwed in shorter pieces to all four ends:

That was it!  Then we just slid all the materials into the our new storage solution:

On the left side, we stored some plywood, wire shelves, & a longer 2" x 4".
We placed all the smaller scrap sheets of drywall & trim on the right side:

Here it is with the garage door open:

A couple of important notes:
1.  we chose to keep the left side of the opening wide enough to accommodate a 4' x 8' stock sheet of plywood, etc.
2.  make sure your garage door will still open - on our first test run, the garage door wouldn't open because the door handle was jutting out
3.  keep in mind that you most likely will not be able to install a garage door opener with this specific ceiling storage configuration

It was a small project, but makes all the difference by clearing up a lot of wall & floor space for us!

In our next garage project, we'll be installing a wall track system (like this or this) to get the rest of those miscellaneous items up & off of the floor and out of the way...