How To Deep Clean Your Kitchen Sink

This shop has been compensated by Inmar Intelligence and its Colgate-Palmolive® and Scotch-Brite®​. All opinions are mine alone. #GreatTeamEasyClean 

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Cleaning is one of my favorite past times. I know that sounds weird, but I get great satisfaction out of cleaning my home from top to bottom on a Saturday afternoon. I would claim to be more of a master tidier than deep cleaner though. There are parts of my house like the baseboards, blinds, appliances etc... that only get cleaned once a year when we're typically moving out of one home and into another. 

Because we swear and promise that this house we just bought is our final last move ever, I figured now would be a great time to get into a good "deep cleaning routine", where I pick one part of the home each week to give a little extra care and detail to so that these once-a-year duties become a more regular part of my life. 

Best Tools for Cleaning Your Kitchen Sink: 

While we do rinse out the sink each time we load the dish washer, I've been trying to get in the habit of doing a deep clean and scrubbing it down a couple times a month so it doesn't get out of hand. The best and easiest way for me to do this is with Palmolive® Ultra Oxy and Scotch-Brite® Advanced Scrub Dots Non-Scratch Scrubbers. 


Click the image above to add this powerful duo to your Walmart Online Grocery cart. 

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The combination of Palmolive®​ Ultra Oxy and Scotch-Brite®​ Advanced Scrubbers makes it so easy to lift away food and debris on many of your surfaces like cast-iron pans, Dutch ovens, outdoor grills, and even kitchens sinks! The Scotch-Brite®​ Advanced Scrubbers are amazing because the sponge has anti-microbial†​ agents that protects itself from bacterial odors. These scrubbers have powerful non-scratch scrubbing power, making it safe for non-stick cookware and other products. 

Palmolive®​ Ultra Oxy is perfect for this job because it's tough on grease, soft on hands, and attacks grease and hard to fight surface stains, like coffee. 

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How To Deep Clean Your Kitchen Sink: 

The first thing you need to do to clean your kitchen sink goes without saying: take out all of the dishes (either wash them or load the dishwasher). The next thing I like to do is give the sink a quick rinse just to wet the surface. 

Then I take my Palmolive®​ Ultra Oxy and pour just a little bit into the sink (a little goes a long way). Next I take my Scotch-Brite® Advanced Scrubber and lightly scrub the sink using a circular motion all the way around. 

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Usually at this point I'll let it sit for a minute or two while I spray down and wipe the counter tops or clean something else. When I'm ready to come back to it I spray away all the soap and rinse the sink completely. 

Finally I take a dish towel and buff the sink dry. This gives it the best shine and seriously makes your sink look like it's brand new again. 

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Do you have any simple cleaning hacks that you do regularly in your home? I'd love to know in the comments below! Be sure to pick up Palmolive®​ and Scotch-Brite®​ on your next trip to Walmart! †​

Contains an antimicrobial agent that protects the product from bacterial odors.

If you liked this post, How To Deep Clean Your Kitchen Sink, you might also like:

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The Best All Natural Cleaning Products

This post was sponsored by Art of Green® and all opinions expressed in my post are my own. 

Since moving into our new home we've already have painted and remodeled three rooms in the last two months. With all the effort that we're putting into this house we want to make sure we're using products that will not only clean these new surfaces, but also keep them safe for our children and dog, while not being too harsh and breaking down the new paint and spaces as well. 


The Benefits of Natural Cleaners: 

As a parent the obvious benefit to natural cleaners is their safety for use around children and pets. I love that I can easily wipe down the table while the kids are still sitting at it, and I don't have to worry about what they're touching or inhaling. I also love that it's safe around pets so I don't have to worry about our dog licking something he shouldn't after I clean up a mess on the floor or clean some baseboards. 


The Best All Natural Cleaning Products: 

Art of Green is a new-to-me product line that is available at HEB, Target, and Sprouts. I love that their cleaners are derived from 98% natural products and that they use no harsh chemicals in their formulas. Art of Green products are also much more cost effective when compared to other natural cleaning lines, making them a great option for common household use. Art of Green is tough on dirt, grease, and grime, which means they're up for whatever challenging mess your children send their way. 

My Favorite Way to Use Art of Green Cleaning Products: 

I'm a sucker for a good multisurface cleaning spray. I love using their Citrus and Lavender scented sprays on my counter tops, tables, and appliances for general cleaning during the week when I need a quick clean in between meals and activities. They're the perfect grab-and-go cleaner that gets the job done quickly. 


I'm admittedly terrible at keeping up with bathroom cleaning. I'm usually good for one scrub down on the weekend, but that means it sees a lot of action the other six days of the week. I've been leaving these Art of Green Multisurface Cleaning Wipes on my bathroom counter, and they make it so easy to wipe up make up spills and little messes throughout the week when I'm in a hurry and trying to leave for work. Have you used Art of Green Products in your home? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below! Be sure to keep your eye out for Art of Green on your next trip to Target, Sprouts, and HEB, or try out the Store Locator to find the closest location to you!


Have you used Art of Green Products in your home? I'd love to hear about your experience in the comments below! Be sure to keep your eye out for Art of Green on your next trip to Target, Sprouts, and HEB, or try out the Store Locator to find the closest location to you!

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects!

DIY Lycra Compression Bed Sheets for Deep Pressure Input

A few years ago someone commented asking if I could do a blog post sharing our bedtime routine. I kind of laughed it off because that is a pretty non-existent thing in our home. What works for a week or month often doesn't work the next, and it's a constant changing battle in our home.

compression bed sheets








Kinsley has always been a pretty awful sleeper. Part of that is because she has middle interhemispheric variant holoprosencephaly, which is the long way of saying she has a few brain malformations. She is certainly a lot more high functioning than we ever thought she would be, but she does have several long term issues, one of them being sleep related. Because Kinsley has a lot of spasticity in her lower extremities, she often kicks or flails her legs when she is trying to get to sleep, which means she wakes herself up when she is just starting to fall asleep, or will easily wake herself from a deep sleep in the middle of the night. 

In 2016 we started using a weighted sensory blanket to help solve the problem. The sensory blanket worked really well for a long time, but then Kinsley got too tall for it and Derek and I were having to run into her room several times a night to get it back onto her. For her birthday in 2017 my friend's mom made her a new blanket, but that meant that we had a period of a couple months between the first blanket not working and the new one arriving at our house that we had to figure out a solution for. 


Why We Made A Lycra Compression Bed Sheet: 

I have a few friends with children on the Autism/Sensory Processing Disorder spectrum, and a lot of them had told me about the benefits of deep pressure input. We obviously had success with it in the past which is why we used weighted blankets, but many of my friends were having success getting their children to sleep with compression bed sheets to provide that same grounding sensory input, and I thought it was worth a try. 

What Is a Compression Bed Sheet? 

A compression bed sheet is essentially a bed sheet that fits over your mattress like a sleeping bag would. They're usually pretty tight and hold your child in place so that they can't move around as much in the middle of the night. They give your child a nice deep pressure feeling like being hugged, while still allowing your child to safely get in and out of the bed and be safe while they sleep. 

Initially when I had heard about these sheets several years ago I was hesitant to try it with Kinsley because she was so immobile at the time and I worried about her getting trapped. When we were in between weighted blankets though, that one year made such a big difference with her mobility that we decided to make her a compression sheet as an intermittent fix until her new blanket arrived. 

Why Make A Compression Bed Sheet Instead of Buying? 

I am not the most crafty person on the planet, but if I can make a sensory bed sheet, I promise you can too. I didn't want to spend a lot of money on this, just to find out that it might not work. When I was looking online, store bought compression bed sheets were between $30-$40, which was more than I wanted to spend on something that might not work. 

I went to Hobby Lobby and found some stretchy jersey knit fabric for $5, borrowed a friend's sewing machine, and made my own for less than $10 after I bought thread for the project as well. The savings were well worth making the compression bed sheet on my own and it took maybe 15 minutes to sew the entire thing together. 

If you have a child, or know of someone who could benefit from this, here is a super easy (really, so easy) tutorial on how to make a compression bed sheet for your child. 


Supplies:

Fabric (enough to fit the bed)
Thread
Sewing Machine

Directions: 

Measure the top of your mattress. You'll need just the length and the width. You'll then want to multiply that by two (a piece for the top, and a piece for the bottom). By not measuring the thickness of the mattress, you're ensuring the fabric will be tight enough when stretched over the mattress. 

Head to the fabric store and get your fabric. Lycra is ideal, but Hobby Lobby didn't have any when I went, and so I just went with a thick stretchy blend that they had that felt durable. I did mine on a crib size mattress and 1 1/2 yards was the perfect amount. 

I then laid the fabric out on my table and folded it in half (right sides together). I pinned the long open seam shut, and then pinned the bottom edge shut as well. 


Using a zig-zag stich, I sewed together the two pinned sides, and then I turned the sheet right side out. 


At this point it just looks like a big stretchy sleeping bag. Congratulations, you've succeeded.

Then I simply headed up stairs, placed the new sheet on top of the mattress, and put it back in the bed. 




Have your child try it out to make sure it's not too tight and is comfortable, and then get yourself a full night sleep!


If you liked this post, DIY Lycra Compression Bed Sheets for Deep Pressure Input, you might also like:

Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammmily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects. 

My Oral Care Routine

This shop has been compensated by Inmar Intelligence and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CleanHealthyBold 

Oral health and dentistry has always been an interest to me from a young age. Growing up going to the dentist was one of my very favorite things, I practically begged my parents for braces (and got to wear them for five years), and sometime between graduating high school, going to college, and becoming a mother, I became a licensed dental assistant. The field of dentistry, and keeping my own teeth healthy has been a major priority to me for most of my life. 


As I've gotten older I feel like my oral health routine has evolved beyond making sure I brush twice a day, to focusing a lot more on gum health and prolonging the longevity of my teeth and oral health. Within the last year I've noticed signs of gum sensitivity, so I've been hyper vigilant with keeping them as healthy as possible with three simple steps. 

Using a High Quality Mouthwash: 

I've recently started incorporating the LISTERINE® Gum Therapy Antiseptic Mouthwash into my routine and have been really pleased with the results so far. This mouthwash is ADA accepted which is something that is always important to me when choosing oral care items. I love that it's formulated with anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis essential oils to promote gum health and freshen breath. I also really love that it helps to clean below the gumline where brushing can't reach to help reverse the signs of early gum disease such as red, bleeding, and inflamed gums. 

Interested in trying out these products? Hover over the photo to click through to Walmart.com for purchasing.




Not Brushing My Teeth So Hard

I noticed for several weeks that my gums were super sensitive, and when talking with another friend in the dental field we'd concluded that I was brushing way too hard. While I love brushing my teeth several times a day, I've been super mindful the last several weeks to be soft and not "scrub" at my teeth with my toothbrush. I've noticed less pain and sensitivity over the last week and I think the combination of LISTERINE® Gum Therapy Antiseptic Mouthwash, and being more mindful of my brushing is really working well together to get my mouth feeling better. 


Flossing Everyday: 

Flossing is the hardest habit in the world to keep up with right? Derek actually started flossing his teeth pretty regularly over the last few months which led to me feeling bad about not being in the habit of flossing, so I've been doing it more just to level up to Derek. Whatever the reason is, I've been doing it, and I definitely have less floss guilt in my life. Every dentist I've ever worked for has said, "You only have to floss the teeth you want to keep..." which sounds cliche, but there is definitely a reason why they say it! 


What do you do to prioritize your gum health? I've been loving the new LISTERINE® Gum Therapy Antiseptic Mouthwash. Be sure to pick some up on your next trip to Walmart!

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects!

Easy Peasy Homeschool Hacks

With so many people choosing alternative methods for their children's education this year, I thought I would share my tips and tricks on how we're simplifying homeschool in our home, how to make homeschooling easy on you and your family, and what some of my favorite inexpensive and easy homeschool curriculums are. There are a ton of free homeschool curriculums out there, but I'll be sharing which ones are my go-to favorites. 

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Easy Peasy Homeschool Mindset:

I'm more than happy to admit that I'm a bit of a lazy parent. I chose to homeschool Kyle this year because I did not want to deal with 1,000 zoom calls and a million different programs. I see a lot of first time homeschooling moms online right now sharing all the things they're trying to implement this year and it honestly makes me hot and sweaty just watching them talk about it all. 

If this is your first year homeschooling my number one tip is to stick with the basics and what absolutely needs to be taught. In our home we're doing math, science, language arts, history, and handwriting. End of story. Do your children absolutely need to be homeschooled in Spanish, typing, art history, music, and every other subject? My opinion is no. If your child likes those things and they are fun and interesting, sure add them in, but if you're adding them in because you're trying to fill a seven hour school day at home and you think you need to do those things? That seems like and easy recipe for burnout in my book. 

Stick to what needs to be done, and build from there. Don't go out guns blazing just to find out that it's not sustainable a month into the year. 

Homeschool Isn't Meant To Replicate Public School:

There is a reason why you chose to not send your child to public school this year, so don't try to make your home into a public school. Homeschool absolutely does not need to fill an entire school day. Kyle starts his schoolwork in the morning around 9am, and we're done for the day well before lunchtime. He gets a math and a language arts lesson taught by Derek or I, and then he does science, history, and handwriting independently. I would say most days it takes us 2 1/2 hours to get through all the work for the day, and when I talk to other homeschool families they all say they're around a similar timeframe, possibly even shorter. 

You Don't Need to Teach to the Public School Standards:

In Utah homeschool is super flexible. We sign one legal document saying we're homeschooling and the state doesn't want any proof of hours or what we're teaching. My main reason for homeschooling this year was because I was sick of jumping through the public school system's hoops, and wanted to do my own thing. I know roughly that Kyle needs to learn multiplication and division this year, but other than that I'm doing my own thing and teaching what I want to be teaching for all the other subjects. If Kyle goes back into the public school system next year and didn't learn exactly what he should have for science and history but still got an enriching year out of it? I'll be happy. We're taking this year to learn and teach what we want to be learning about, and not letting standards or any outside influences impact our decisions.

The Best Free Homeschool Curriculums:

There are a lot of free and amazing resources for homeschool curriculum. The main curriculum we use is The Good and The Beautiful. While a lot of their curriculum is available for purchase, their entire language arts program for every grade is available for free as a PDF download (scroll down on that link and you'll see orange cricles you can click on to download for the grade you need). Their language arts is all encompassing with reading, writing, spelling, poetry memorization, and so much more. We're only a few weeks in but so far we've seen geography, history, and biblical studies all intertwined within the language arts curriculum. It's really well done, and we have no regrets so far. We downloaded the PDFs for free and then had them printed in black and white and spiral bound at our local Fedex. 

Another amazing resource for free homeschool curriculum is Miniature Masterminds. They have everything you would ever need to teach grades pk-2 available to print and download for absolutely free. Kyle is technically in third grade this year but we're using their US History and Health curriculums to fulfill Kyle's history and science for this year. They also have an entire cursive writing curriculum that we worked through over the summer.  

Their website is pretty well divided by grade level, so you can click on the grade you need, and then see all their subjects and full year curriculums listed from there. 

You Set The Pace for Your Child's Learning, Not A Book or Lesson Outline:

Just because a math book is divided into 180 preplanned lessons does not mean you absolutely need to do that entire lesson all in one day. If your child is struggling on a topic it's going to be a lot easier to break it down over several days than to plow through tears and frustration just because a book you're using said you need to get this entire lesson done today.

We noticed at one point that Kyle was struggling with learning to tell time on a clock. Instead of plowing through to the next lesson, or feeling like we had to keep digging and digging at the concept in one day until he got it right we just stopped mid lesson. We then went online and printed some more worksheets and resources that would help him learn the concept, and spent several days on it until he mastered it, and then moved onto the next lesson in the book. Let your child be the judge of how fast or slow you progress through your lessons, but don't let the books dictate what you should be doing. Be flexible, know when your child is at their limit, and stay focused on a topic until they're ready to move on. 

The Best Printer for Homeschooling:

With all of your free curriculum you're going to need a good printer to print it off. We purchased this Epsom Ecotank printer at the beginning of quarantine and it's been an amazing tool for us. For $200 you get the printer and enough ink to print 4,500 color pages and 7,000 black and white pages. It was well worth the investment and we made our money back in what we would have spent in ink cartridges in just a few months. Replacement ink when needed is also very inexpensive when you do get to the point of replacing. 

If you don't want to pay for printing at FedEx this is an awesome option. You can print at home, hole punch, and put in a binder to make them into organized books for your child. 

Outsource What You Can't/Don't Want to Teach:

If there is a subject that you know is just beyond your scope or mental/physical capacity, outsource to a tutor or online class through Out School. Outschool has a ton of classes you can sign your child up for in basically every subject you can imagine, taught by teachers. Having someone else teach your child multiplication, division, US History, Music Theory, Minecraft, sharks, baking etc... can help take a load off of your plate, and give your child a fun experience outside of working one-on-one with you each day.

If you want to try Outschool you can get $20 off your first class through my referral link.  

The cool thing about Outschool is that you can do a class that is once a week for 8 weeks, or even find teachers who are teaching all of third grade where they meet three times a week for the entire school year. There is literally something for everyone and it can be from anything as regimented as math all the way to something fun like baking. 

These are my best tips for making homeschool an easy experience for both my husband and I, and our son. While It's definitely something to be taken seriously, it doesn't need to be taken too seriously. If your child is in a loving environment and is being taught what they need to know, they're going to do great. Don't get caught up in all the things that people say you should be doing, or that you see online, and as always, do what works best for your home and family. 

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects.

Three Ways To Invest Money in 2020

This post is sponsored by ABLEnow®, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

If there is one thing we've learned from 2020, it's that saving for financial emergencies and our future is critically important. While we've remained unscathed through much of the turmoil this year has brought, we saw the crushing reality for many friends as they've been furloughed, laid off, and have had to rely on whatever financial cushion they've had to support their families. This has lit a huge fire under Derek and I to get our finances straightened out more than ever, so that we can be prepared for whatever hardships, or typical life events that may come our way.

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1) Invest More Regularly in our ABLEnow ® Account:

When Kinsley was three, we opened an ABLEnow savings account for her. These accounts are administered through Virginia529, the nation’s largest college savings plan. The benefit to ABLEnow accounts is that they're specifically for people with disabilities. The funds in these accounts can be used to pay for medical expenses that insurance won't cover, home repairs to make our house more accessible, educational tutors to come into our home and work with Kinsley, and so much more.

The major benefit to these plans is that they cannot count against Kinsley and her public benefits. Kinsley is currently on Medicaid, which is a huge financial benefit to us as her medical care costs upwards of $10,000 per year. Most Medicaid programs look at your savings and assets when determining qualification and if you have too much in savings you can get denied for Medicaid programs. With ABLEnow accounts you can save for your child's future without it working against you in terms of your Medicaid benefits that your child may be receiving. This gives us so much peace of mind knowing that we're able to have Kinsley’s medical needs covered while still being able to save for her future.

You can take an online eligibility quiz here to see if you or someone you know is eligible for an ABLEnow account.

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Because we just purchased a new home that will likely need a few accessibility modifications in the future (more accessible shower, small ramps to get in and out of the home, etc...), we're making a goal to invest more regularly in this account so that when Kinsley is older and needs those modifications made, we'll be able to have that money tucked away and ready when the time comes.

I also love that these accounts can be used for things insurance may not cover. Insurance only covers one wheelchair every five years, but if Kinsley outgrew a wheelchair before then, we could use the money in her account to fund a new chair for her. Same with walkers, crutches, or other mobility devices she may need or use in the future.

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2) Purchase a Home:

As mentioned earlier, we purchased a home this year. Part of our reason for doing this was to have a long-term investment that would make us more money in the future. Where we live the housing market is crazy, and home values are increasing more and more each month. We sold our previous home last year, and this summer our friends who lived a couple doors down in a smaller floor plan are selling their home for $30k more than we sold ours for just a year earlier. While homeownership may not be a long-term goal for some, we're looking forward to staying in our current home for years and years to come to be able to build that equity to put towards retirement in the future.

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3) Increase Contributions to Retirement Accounts:

Before we got on Medicaid last year, we never had extra money laying around to invest how we'd like. When you're spending $10k/year on medical expenses, it doesn't leave much left to be invested. Up until recently we hadn't even been able to maximize Derek's employee match program for retirement savings because we literally needed every bit of income we could get. Now that these bills aren't crippling in a way that they used to be, we plan on taking full advantage of our other retirement programs and investing the maximum-match amounts each month.

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Now that I'll also be teaching this fall, we plan on purging most of my income directly into both Kinsley's ABLEnow® account, and my retirement funds as well. This has really been the year where we've gotten a lot of our financial ducks in a row, and we really want to take advantage of that momentum to make sure our family is secure and ready for whatever happens in our future. ABLEnow gives us so much peace of mind knowing we can secure a future for Kinsley and whatever her needs may look like long after we're gone.

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of ABLEnow.

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Be sure to follow along on Instagram @thehappyflammily to stay up-to-date on all the latest posts and projects.

Industrial Modern Boy Bedroom Tour

When we moved into this house two months ago I don't think we really planned on doing all the projects that we have, but somehow in a short time we've already finished three rooms in our home. In case you've missed it, we've completed Derek's office, our master bathroom, and now Kyle's bedroom.

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When we moved into our home we let Kyle have his pick of three different bedrooms that are in our basement, and he originally picked one room because the walls were blue and he thought they were cool. The downside to that room was that it was oddly shaped and was too big for a lot of his furniture and things looked pretty awkward in there.

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A few weeks ago we realized the bedroom across the hall from him actually fit all of his existing furniture perfectly, so we talked to him about painting the room and moving him over and he was on board! You can see in the before picture that there wasn't anything wrong with this room, it just needed some paint to make it pop. This room actually has a really cool alcove for the bed with recess lighting and an accompanying dimmer switch on the same wall to make it really convenient for Kyle to read from bed. It really is the perfect room for our little bookworm.

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I've been wanting to paint a wall black since our last home that we'd purchased, and knew Kyle's room was the perfect place to make it happen. The very first thing we did in this room was paint the alcove wall black ("Black" by Behr from Home Depot), and then painted the other walls, closet, and bedroom doors white ("Ultra Pure White" by Behr from Home Depot).

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Once the walls and doors were painted, the room felt really plain. Yes we had a black wall, but all the other walls were just so white. It needed something to jazz it up a bit. On a whim and against Derek's consent I painted the trim and window frame black and I have no regrets. I feel like it ties the entire room together and works really well with the hardware on his desk and dresser. This room also came with those two hanging shelves on the wall, and we just spray painted the metal black to tie into everything else.

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I was so glad we were able to use all of Kyle's existing decor which obviously helped us save a ton of money on this space. The only things we had to purchase were the paint, painting supplies, a new door knob, and hinges. We already had new knobs for his closet door that were leftover from the pack we purchased when we finished Derek's office, and we had the black spray paint from when we finished our master bathroom. All together we spent about $125 for this bedroom!

If you're interested in links for the decor details for this bedroom, you can see them all on Kyle's bedroom tour from our last home here.

We're so excited to have Kyle's room done, and I can't wait to get started on Kinsley's room next. I have such an amazing idea for a statement wall in her room and I'm dying to get going.