Hallway Update

Hallway Update

I’m posting a hallway update, like seven months after I posted my hallway inspiration. I’m trying to make good on posting progress pics instead of only posting before and afters… I don’t know why I feel like everything has to be totally finished before I post one photo! That’s just silly. We all learn more by seeing the process and transition! First, a reminder of what the hallway looked like before we decided to tackle it:
… And my little inspiration board:
Now let’s see how far we’ve come!

Continue Reading

A Laelia Outfit #36

A Laelia Outfit #36

So, how did I go over a month with out a new Laelia’s outfit! Geesh. Sorry guys! I have a whole slew of new outfits waiting to be photographed, so I solved that problem! ^_^

Top: Peek (My favorite brand for littles)
Jeans: Baby Gap
Sandals: Old Navy


My Kitchen Makeover: Stripping Paint

My Kitchen Makeover: Stripping Paint

This is not a pretty post. In fact, this post is darn near disgusting! The first step in this makeover is to strip the paint. In fact, striping the paint is why we don’t really have a choice about doing this, we have to do this. I think the following photos will explain why.

This step of stripping paint is broken down as follows:

Strip paint:

  • Strip paint from hinges in order to remove the cabinet doors off the cabinet base (We start with citrus strip, which is safe for indoor use. We cover the stripper with aluminum foil to keep it from drying)
  • Further strip the hinges in order to remove them from the cabinet doors entirely
  • Utilize the crock-pot method of removing paint from hardware (we bought one from goodwill for this purpose only)
  • Strip paint from the grate under the sink
  • Strip paint from where I am guessing a cutting board is; it has been sealed in by many layers of paint
  • Using a metal scraper, scrape paint from both sides of all cabinet doors
  • Scrape paint from drawer fronts
  • Scrape paint from the cabinet base
  • And, finally, scrape paint from walls
  • After everything has been stripped and scrapped, sand with a power sander.
  • If more paint loosens after sanding, scrape again. Then sand again. Repeat until no more paint comes off.
  • To smooth out holes and ridges between layers of paint, fill with dry wall spackle.
  • We finalize by sanding with a fine grit paper and wipe clean with a tac cloth.
  • Then coat with one layer of primer. Sand more. Prime more. Repeat until surface is smooth (or you’ve just had enough).

Hopefully, the above process will end the cycle of peeling paint in our kitchen!

The hinges alone took a significant amount of time; I think it took us an hour to remove the hinges from the first door, but it sped up over time.

I still haven’t figured out how to clean the black (rust?) off of these hinges to get these things looking brand new; if anyone has any ideas, please let me know in the comments!Continue Reading

Laelia’s Second Birthday!

Laelia’s Second Birthday!

Firstly, I hope all my fellow Americans had a happy 4th of July! Secondly, my hugest apologies for the delay in this post. It has been a whole two months since I posted the sneak peek, and a certain awesome pinterest follower reminded me of that! (Yes, I’m calling you out Carla! xoxo). Things have just gotten away from me since then; I hope I can find balance here again and get into a nice rhythm soon. In the meantime, I’m writing this while all the cupboard doors are off and being ignored in my kitchen, and there are piles of Tupperware on my couch and cleaning supplies overflowing in my sink, and, well, you get the picture, right? I just started reading the book Mom, Inc. which I have already found helpful!So, when we last left off, I was trying to recover photos from our corrupted files, and despite the purchase of multiple softwares, and back and forth emails with tech support, we were not able to recover those files. I’m definitely okay with it now, just as I’ve accepted the loss of my camera. After taking a break from looking at these photos, I can see it with fresh eyes and vividly remember the smell of my house, and the energy of the crowd, and how everything did turn out just fine. :) I had to improvise a lot, and my emotions were high, but I think everyone had a great time. I definitely enjoyed the day, and I think the birthday girl did too! Continue Reading

My Kitchen Makeover: Beginnings

My Kitchen Makeover: Beginnings

kitchen_before_collageAt first glance, I think my kitchen can come off as “cute”, but on further inspection, there is HUGE room for improvement. I have put virtually no effort into designing this kitchen. Everything has been put together very pell-mell, and based purely on, “I like that!”, or, “that has to go there, because it won’t fit anywhere else”, if you know what I mean. Primarily, this kitchen has just been a source of headache after headache. Our landlord was forced to finally replace the old linoleum that had multiple holes in it after a city inspector came through to check out our building (His excuse was “people like this old stuff”–it was black and white checkered, which I’m sure was awesome in it’s prime, but–HOLES, people, HOLES the size of my face! Exposed to the plywood under the flooring!). But mostly, it has had the same look since we moved in, which isn’t much of a look. A year after telling our landlord we need a new garbage disposal, our sink finally started leaking, so it was finally deemed “worthy” of replacing”. Unfortunately, the leak more quickened the loosening of the already deteriorating caulking and rotted the wood under the sink, and so our sink began to, well, sink! It was like this for months, even after monthly-turned-weekly emails to my apartment manager. He kept coming over with the maintenance guy and shrugging, essentially. I expressed my concern about doing a half-assed fix, and said “this whole kitchen just needs to be replaced. There is no way to fix the sink permanently unless you replace it. There is no way  you can replace it without replacing the tile, which is cracked and moulding all around the sink. And, you should replace the cupboards as they are covered with layers of peeling paint and the wood is rotting in a few areas”. He agreed, but he didn’t think the LL would go for it. My dad finally came over to just prop the sink up with a 2″ x 4″ and a couple of wood shivs, and then re-caulk it, so it wouldn’t just randomly drop out… He also expressed mighty concern over me living in “slum-lord conditions”. Mr. Manager managed to convince Mr. Landlord to replace the sink and the tile, and requested a bid from my father; my Dad offered $1,000 to demo, haul away the debris, and re-tile and reinstall a new sink. They said it was too expensive! I’m shocked. They then rescinded on their agreement to replace the sink and the tile, and now I have a ridiculous 2×4 with some nails in it holding up my sink… I was VERY upset about this. He at least agreed to refinish the sink (needless to say, the state of the sink was nothing short of disgusting), so at least there is that, I guess… Then there is the paint situation.

OOOHHHH, the paint situation. We have had problems with the paint peeling for years now. Last year, after we were approved to rent a 3 bdm house and gave our apartment manager our 30 day notice, he came back and said that our lease was automatically renewed at the end of our last lease–However, we wrote in an email 31 days before our lease expired that we would like to go month to month, a point in the email which he either dutifully ignored or shamelessly neglected. I pointed this out to him and he never acknowledged it. I tried to get a hold of the landlord, and he also never acknowledged it. I should point out that my LL is a real estate lawyer, so he can be tricky and knows what  to say, or in this case, what not to say. By never acknowledging what we wrote in the email, or even saying that they see it there, they drove me insane. We ended up getting lawyers involved, and it was just a big mess. We decided to cut our losses because we couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer, so, typically, the little guy can never win. Back to the paint– one angle we were using to try to get out of our “lease” was that the paint was peeling from every wall and cupboard in the kitchen, and every door and trim in the house. It is considered a health hazard (obviously). So, they finally had painters come in and reluctantly bought us a hotel room for the night. I expressed that the old paint had to be removed in order to have the new paint stick–otherwise, we’d just have the same problem. Yeah… that didn’t happen. It was peeling again with-in a month. So the painters came back in, and, again, I explained that they must remove the old paint. They didn’t. So, here I am, a year later, with peeling paint for the 3rd time. I’m not letting the crappy painters come back and touch the walls of a room I’m going to be living in. I’m doing it right this time! (–also, can we talk about what a drab color that is!? These photos are very accurate to what they are in real life.. the yellowing isn’t a color balance problem, it is the paint color! What the heck were they thinking?)

You might be wondering why we don’t just move. I wonder that a lot too… But the hassle and costs of moving at this point would pretty much be a pure loss for us, and it doesn’t make sense financially if we are really serious about buying a house. Tyler walks to work, which means we spend significantly less money on gas and insurance–we’re saving over $200 a month! If we were to move, it wouldn’t be an upgrade; in fact, we’d probably lose access to a parking spot at our back door and a private washer and dryer. To find something comparable, I’d be faced with mounting stairs with a toddler (and maybe another baby, at some point) and groceries, etc. Not to mention the opportunity costs of the months spent looking for a place, packing, unpacking, reorganizing, etc. So despite all of our issues with my LL, we stay, because we will lose more than they would if we moved. Also, real hardwood floors are awesome. :)

On the other hand, Mr. Manager enjoys my painting talents and would prefer me to paint over his minions, so it’s nice to live in an apartment that allows me to paint and kinda detail things out in my own style. And even though we’ve clearly had our issues, I mostly feel bad for him having to deal with our LL directly, because I get the feeling he’s a real difficult person to work for. I try to remember “don’t kill the messenger” when talking with him. He does go to bat for his tenants, for the most part. But when the LL just wants to do the bare minimum (and really, I think it’s beyond that–), there isn’t much you can do.

So, I’ve established our pretty frustrating history with our kitchen (and apartment in general). And I’ve established why we are sucking it up and staying put. And if we are going to be here for a while, I can’t live with our peeling paint anymore. And if I’m going to paint, like I said, I’m gonna do it right! And to do it right, means I need to have a plan, an inspiration, and I need to make everything as functional as possible. So, that’s where I’m at! Narrowing down a solid plan for decor, form and function. :) Stay tuned for more in my new series, My Kitchen Makeover!


Welcome to Visual Vocabularie! My name is Jesyka, and I am a designer, artist, mom to Laelia and Luca, wife to software engineer and UX designer Tyler, coffee lover, and all around enthused person. This is my blog; here I share my personal projects, whether it's a furniture makeover, a new painting, a birthday party, an invitation I designed, or a favorite outfit for my little. You’ll also catch a glimpse into our family life in Los Angeles.

Popular Tutorials

  • Pinwheel Tutorial

  • Tissue Tassel Garland

  • Triple Pinch Pleat Curtains

  • Ikea Mini Kitchen Makeover


Link with Love

You are free to pin to pinterest, or post my photos on your blog, but please give proper credit to my full name Jesyka D’Itri Marés (I know, I know, it's not the easiest name!), and you link back either the home page of this website, or the permalink of the original post (although, I'm sure your followers will thank you for the permalink!). I would LOVE to know if you enjoy my work enough to share it, so please don’t be shy and drop me an email!