“If it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, it could be a really ugly swan.” ― Timmothy Radman
Hi, I'm Fatima. Fa for short. I recently bought my first home and realized the beginning of a lifelong dream of owning and fixing up an old, charming house! Here I'll be sharing the stories of my projects including all of the tips, triumphs, and tears; but mostly tips.
It’s been a while and my oh my have things changed! After signing up for, and dropping out of, the ORC last fall I officially wrapped up the kitchen and home renovations in February – here’s a peek at the finished kitchen on my Instagram, @duckuglydesign:
Since then, I have been focusing more of my time on a “spinoff” of Duck Ugly Design…*drum roll please*….Duck Ugly Shop! While Duck Ugly Design focuses on home renovation stuff, Duck Ugly Shop is dedicated to rehoming a curated collection of preloved vintage & secondhand home goods. This came about very naturally as an extension and growth opportunity from my DIY home renovation adventures.
If you read my blog post on my office makeover, you know I decorate on a budget. I turn to places like the Facebook Marketplace, estate sales, and thrift stores to find one of a kind pieces to decorate my home. Aside from loving how budget-friendly this is, I also found that I LOVE the hunt for these one-of-a-kind treasures…maybe even a little too much…or so I thought.
You see, I found that I love the hunt so much that I often end up with more things than I need or have space for – so in an effort to get rid of the stuff I didn’t end up needing I decided to resell some of my beloved treasures. At first, this way just a way to get rid of the things that I didn’t end up needed but I soon found, and was told, that I have “a great eye” for finding beautiful things. And thus, Duck Ugly Shop was born.
I decided to continue searching and sharing wonderful recycled treasures with the world as a way to both make a little extra money AND help the environment by helping to avoid this stuff ending up in landfills. I have so fun hunting for beautiful preloved pieces, I get to help find these goods new homes, AND, together, we help reduce waste! It’s a win-win-win.
I recently started an Instagram page dedicated to the decor side of Duck Ugly.
For first dibs and sneak peeks at items to come, watch my stories
If you see something you would like to claim and purchase, send me a direct message with:
A photo of the items or click on the “share” on the post itself and sent the item to me
Your Venmo/Paypal information
When you’d like to pick up if you’re local OR your shipping address
Items are sold on a first come, first serve basis
During this strange and interesting time, I am am offering another way to shop online by bringing these preloved goods to your fingertips, offering no contact local porch pickups in Grand Rapids, and offering shipping at cost for smaller items.
I hope you take a peek at my Instagram. Also, if there’s every anything in particular you’re looking for, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I always have extra inventory I haven’t listed yet – and if I don’t have what you’re looking for, I’m happy to work as your personal shopper and keep an eye out for you during my thrifting adventures!
I cannot believe it’s been so long that it’s already time for the next One Room Challenge (ORC)! This time around, I’m using the ORC to help me finish a room that has been taking me FOREVER – the downstairs kitchen. This is what the downstairs kitchen looked like when the tenants moved out at the end of last summer…
This kitchen has been in the works since January…JANUARY PEOPLE! That’s when I was inspired by Yellow Brick Home and Chris Loves Julia‘s Baltimore Kitchen Makeover and painted the kitchen cabinets! It has been a painfully slow process. A large part of this is because many of the projects I’ve tackled have been firsts for me. I had never used a hand saw before, let alone tried to make or install a countertop! I had never tiled anything before, let alone operated a wet saw! And I had never before restored and installed a kitchen sink!
On top of that, this is by no means my full-time gig. That is to say, I make progress on this kitchen between my full-time job, my furniture flipping business, between working on the rest of the downstairs unit and managing the upstairs unit, and then all the regular life stuff like family, friends, working out, and making time to enjoy the sweet, sweet summertime!
So let me take a second to catch you up on what’s been going on. Phase I of the kitchen makeover happened back between January and March…
Phase II happened between July & September…
And so currently, my kitchen looks like this…
While I’ve certainly made A TON of progress and I am unbelievably happy with how everything is turning out, I have quite a ways to go – here’s a list so you can get a better idea of what’s to come:
Mount microwave over the stove
Remove ceiling tiles, paint grid white using a homemade white chalk paint
Take 4′ x 8′ pieces of white wallboard, cut to size to replace old ceiling tiles
Remove the fluorescent light
Install recessed lighting
Cut, stain (while somehow matching the stain on existing pieces!), and install pieces of pine to finish framing the window above the sink, and to frame the door that leads outside (currently has no framing as pictured above)
Rewire a vintage light and hang above kitchen sink
The countertops still need at least a couple more coats of poly finish
Once the countertops are done, caulk around the sink
Finish priming the door that leads outside and the door that leads into the basement, then pick a paint color for those doors and paint them that color
Pick a floor (THIS HAS BEEN THE HARDEST PART – the rest of the house has original hardwood floors but for some reason the kitchen doesn’t…so I don’t want to do any faux wood type stuff and am having SUCH A HARD TIME picking a floor)
Install said kitchen floor
Retouch a few places on the cabinets (I messed up a couple spots when installing the hardware)
Again, lots of these will be firsts for me so there is a steep learning curve for me on the majority of these projects. I’ve never worked with wallboard or cut holes in it for recessed lights or used the jigsaw tool I’ll need to do this! I’ve never tried to match stain / finish before for the framing. I’ve never framed a doorway before or tiled a floor or mounted a microwave to the wall. I know I’ll figure it out – but these are some of the reasons I want to use the structure of the ORC to help me reach the finish line!
Wish me luck! And good luck to everyone else participating!
I am very excitedly and gratefully writing this post from my finished office!!!! I worked my tail off every day this past week to finish. Including a Saturday full of challenges. It was the type of day where things that normally take 20 seconds (like screwing on a new light switch plate) took over an hour and a trip to the hardware store! Alas, I made it! So without further ado, here is my finished One Room Challenge project:
One of my favorite things to do is find things secondhand so you’ll notice as you go through that a lot of my furniture and styling objects are thrifted finds. Not only is this budget-friendly (included below is a complete item and cost breakdown of my expenses where I note what was purchased new, what I already had, and what was thrifted and where) but I also LOVE how it makes my rooms one of a kind! I scour the Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist, thrift stores, antique malls, and estate sales for great finds. Sometimes things just need to be cleaned up a bit, other times they are in perfect condition, and many times they need A LOT of love…which I happily provide!
Keep your eye out for 3 little “sparks of joy” or personal touches throughout the room!
Let’s start with the light fixture I put together:
The vintage Steelcase tanker desk was a Facebook Marketplace find that I scored for just $50! I added my Duck Ugly logo to it by following this YouTube tutorial by the Crafsman. The 27″ Thunderbolt Mac monitor, keyboard, and mouse were also purchased on the Marketplace for just $350! Up until now I had been working solely from my 13″ MacBook. When you work remotely most of the time, you know that’s rough!
I’ve read that if you have a small space, you should go big or go home so I kept that in mind when picking a desk…and then, like magic, I found this map on TUESDAY and it is soooooo cool! It’s a map of the city of Grand Rapids where I live. The level of detail on this thing is incredible and it is definitely one of my favorite things in the room!
I also made a cork board wall using foam boards, a cork roll, adhesive, and nails for keeping inspiration, goals, and my lists. To the right is some wall art I found at Hobby Lobby. It’s a quote from Dr. Seuss that says “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.” Below that is a little MCM bookcase I thrifted for just $7! Here’s a closer look at that:
Moving around the room to the next corner is a big palm tree I found at Walmart for just $16! The little table it’s sitting on I found at an Estate Sale for just $4 and painted the top using some of Amy Howard’s chalk paint.
I wanted to have a place for someone to sit in the event that I take a meeting with someone and found this awesome vintage Steelcase chair from the 40’s on Craigslist for $40. All it took was a little Murphy’s Oil Soap, vinegar, and olive oil to have her looking brand new!
Here’s another view of that gorgeous pocket door entrance!
Did you figure out what the three sparks of joy are??? Here are the answers:
In the picture with the palm tree there are two brass birds flying in the Polo Blue “sky”. I LOVE birds and I LOVE brass and I especially love how it looks like they’re flying in the sky!!!
Probably close to impossible to spot, so bigs props to you if you saw it, is on the map. If you look closely you can see I traced my Duck Ugly duck onto tracing paper and put it the Grand Rapids map to symbolize Duck Ugly putting it’s mark on the city ❤
Here’s one to get to know me 🙂 Throughout the room I placed something to symbolize all the places I’ve lived including: Michigan (Holland, Grand Rapids, and Ann Arbor), New York City, and Chicago!
That’s it – I made it! I’m so exhausted but had so much fun! I will absolutely see you all again in the fall for Duck Ugly’s second round of the One Room Challenge! Until then, keep following along on my blog to see my thrifted projects and renovation progress, and let me know what projects you’d like me to breakdown in future posts like the image transfer of my logo onto my desk, the cork board wall, and restoring the HVAC Vent! Speaking of which, here’s how that turned out…
Okay, that’s really it! This happy duck is ready for bed!
Color – Benjamin Moore Ceiling Paint in Polo Blue (at Repcolite) – 46.49
I’m all in on this project for 1,322.41 (including tax on the things that weren’t purchased off the Marketplace and stuff). I’m VERY happy with that considering the monitor, keyboard, and mouse alone were probably that much (or more!) new!!!
***Not included are things I already had like paint brushes, rollers, paint stripper, rags, cleaning supplies, my laptop, etc.
This week I used Design Master spray paint in Brilliant Silver to make the white look silver and add to the industrial vibe and then finished with the final coat of Benjamin Moore ceiling paint in Polo Blue. I also changed up the grid so that it has an offset pattern. Here is what the finished ceiling looks like:
Once all the painting was done, I moved onto the floor. I used Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean them up and they look amazing! This soap is very concentrated so you want to follow the directions on the back when using it. I mixed soap and warm water in a spray bottle and used a microfiber cloth to get the floor sparkling clean. Here are some photos of during the process and after:
I also started shopping for finishes! Here are a few of my finds I plan to use:
I also scored a couple vintage ornate vent covers from an awesome antique mall here in Grand Rapids called Warehouse One Antiques. They have layers of caked on paint.
I am starting to play around with how I’m going to actually set the room up. I tried putting a small sofa in the room but I don’t think it’s going to fit in there with my big Steelcase tanker desk.
It’ll require two coats even though it goes on really thick since I’m essentially doing black on white but it works out well because I want to spray paint the grid (color TBD) before putting the final coat on the ceiling.
This is what it looks like with just the first coat:
So for this week, my plan is to spray the grid, do the final coat of blue on the ceiling, and refresh the floors. For the latter, I found this great article on doing a “recoating” of old hardwoods that allows them to keep some of their character without doing a complete refinishing. It’s a lot to tackle in a week but we are in the home stretch.
As always, thanks for following along and keep it quackin’!
The Poker Room is in shambles…okay maybe that’s a little dramatic but that’s what it feels like.
This week I tried my “genius” idea of wallpapering the drop ceiling tiles for the One Room Challenge and let’s just say…it was a challenge. For starters, using the paste activating spray and cutting multiple pieces for each tile was cumbersome and messy. I could have pushed through this but unfortunately, the result was less than stellar.
I held out hope that those splotches would go away upon drying, but, as luck would have it, it actually looks worse now that it’s dry!
This left me with quite the conundrum. The focal point of my design, as well as my great budget-friendly DIY plan, seemed to be out the window. The wonderful man I’m dating, Kevin, suggested a couple of solutions:
Use cardboard cut outs instead of the ceiling tiles and move forward with the idea, as planned.
Take out the ceiling tiles, paint everything above the grid, and leave the grid but paint it for an industrial vibe.
Can you guess which one I decided to go with?
The idea of cutting out a million (okay…18) cardboard pieces and then painstakingly and messily adhering multiple pieces of wallpaper per tile sounded awful. Plus, I kind of loved the idea of leaving the grid and doing something fun and bold with the ceiling, so I decided to completely overhaul my design of the ceiling, and room, in order to go with idea number 2!
So this week progress kind of looks like a tornado hit the room…
but I do still, 100%, count it as progress. It just doesn’t always feel or look like it! So for next week, I’ll plan on getting the new idea for the ceiling complete!
Oh, and in case you’re wondering, the West Michigan Vintage Market was AWESOME, we found so many wonderful things, but unfortunately, they didn’t have the size air vent that I needed so the hunt will continue for a replacement.
Progress! The One Room Challenge has given me some much needed momentum 🙂 The walls have been painted a crisp, bright white. You can see the the difference between the bright white and the previous white with pinkish undertones in the photo below:
The duck ugly poker green carpet is gone! In taking it out, I uncovered the stunning, original hardwood floors which are actually in amazing shape considering the house is over 100 years old!
The floor still needs to be cleaned up since there are spots of carpet padding residue but c’mon, it’s hard to imagine why anyone would’ve covered this beauty up to begin with! I’m not sure exactly how I might give them a little refresher but I certainly don’t think they need to be completely refinished since they have tons of character as they are!
And for those wanting a better view of the pocket door. Here is a picture of it from the inside of the room…
I have several things on my to-do list for the coming week. For starters, I want to replace these plain vent covers.
The West Michigan Vintage Market is happening next weekend. I met one of the vendors a few weeks ago and she told me I could bring my plain covers in and she would trade them in for some more ornate styles like this or this.
Below is a sneak peek at that faux tin ceiling I’ll be doing. My plan is to spray paint the grid white, then wallpaper each tile using this budget-friendly textured wallpaper. It’s only 15.99 for 56 sq. ft! I should be able to cover the ceiling with just 2 rolls. In comparison, replacement drop-in tiles in a tin ceiling look would have come in at upwards of $200!
I’ll pay for the difference in price in labor. I’ll have to cut multiple pieces of wallpaper for each tile. Then I’ll have to spray the pre-pasted wallpaper with this paste activator to get it to stick.
I have a lot of work ahead of me, but it feels great to have some momentum! I look forward to updating you all next week with progress on the refresh of the floors, the faux ceiling, and hopefully a new (or I guess older but prettier…) air vent!
For those who aren’t familiar, The One Room Challenge is a bi-annual event where “20 chosen designers go head-to-head in transforming one room over the course of 6 weeks” while providing updates on progress on a weekly basis. There is also an option to participate as a guest, which is what I will be doing.
I choose to participate because it sounds like a blast! As a new blogger, I also think the rules of the challenge, which include posting every week for 6 weeks, will help me create a structure, accountability, and a habit of posting weekly!
The room I chose to transform is a room I have nicknamed “The Poker Room”. It’s not hard to figure out where the nickname comes from when you look at the before photos:
While that poker green carpet is plush and comfy, it definitely has to go!
While I also despise the drop ceiling, it does serve a functional purpose; the house is a duplex and the ceiling helps reduce the sound from the tenants upstairs. My plan is to work some magic on that duck ugly ceiling by transforming it with a SUPER budget-friendly faux tin ceiling. More on that in the weeks to come 😉
In case you didn’t catch it, that dark wood on the right side of the photo above is a POCKET DOOR. You guys…both the upstairs and downstairs units have one and they are BEAUTIFUL, well-made, masterpieces! They simply do not make homes with character like this anymore!
The Poker Room is a small room coming in right around 100 square feet. While the previous tenants used it as a bedroom, I’ll be transforming the space into Duck Ugly headquarters! I do the majority of my (non-Duck Ugly) full-time work remotely and am in desperate need of a home office for that and, of course, my Duck Ugly work!
My plan includes:
Updating the drop-ceiling to give it a faux tin ceiling look
Replacing the light-fixture
Painting the walls a bright white (it’s hard to tell, but the current white has a lavender undertone)
Doing a dark blue accent wall with a custom built-in bookcases / Murphy bed combo so that the room can double as a guest bedroom
Ripping up the carpet
New window treatments
Restoring a vintage Steelcase desk
Here are some of my inspiration photos:
And here is a photo of the vintage Steelcase desk I’ll be restoring:
I absolutely cannot wait to get started! Thanks so much for following along! Quack on folks!
My name is Fatima. Fa for short. A little over a year ago, I was living in Chicago and decided I wanted to move home so I could spend more time with loved ones and realize my lifelong dream of restoring an old house.
In January of 2018, my dream started to come true when I purchased a home that’s over 100 years old. I’ve lovingly named her, Pocket Door House. I’ve been cleaning, tearing down, building up, designing, and decorating Pocket Door House ever since. As you can imagine tons of blood, sweat, and tears have gone into these walls, but I’ve mostly painted over that 🙂
I’ve been having a blast tackling projects and learning all kinds of cool things including:
How to refinish a clawfoot tub
The trick to removing decades of paint off the original door handles and hinges
The proper way to replace a toilet
I’m overflowing with excitement. So, as you can imagine, I’m always annoying my friends, family, and colleagues with before and after photos. To my surprise and delight, I’ve received overwhelming positive feedback. Lots of people have asked me for tips, tricks, and advice. Enter, Ugly Duck Design. This blog is a space where I’ll be sharing all of this great stuff and more.
For whatever brings you here – whether you’re seeking inspiration, a solution to a specific problem, or even if you just want to follow along, quack on!