Bringing It All Together With Walnut & Black

Well, y’all, I had a very frustrating day yesterday, and didn’t get nearly as much done on the home gym as I had planned. I dropped my external hard drive that holds all of my pictures from all of my 16 years of blogging, and then it wouldn’t work. I thought it was being backed up on Carbonite, but when I went into my Carbonite account and selected that drive, nothing was there. NOTHING!! So I spent a ridiculous amount of time yesterday desperately trying to find someone who could get my pictures off of that hard drive. Literally no one in Waco can do that, so it had to be sent off to Austin, where they’ll have to put on their little Tyvek bunny suits and take my hard drive into a clean room, very carefully disassemble it, and see what info (if any) they can salvage, all for the bargain price of $1900.

I was absolutely sick about it. That’s 16 years of blogging photos and videos, from the condo to our house, and every project and room that I’ve ever done. To say that that put a damper on the entire rest of my day would be an understatement. I was so sad, and depressed, and frustrated, and angry (at myself for not checking my Carbonite on a regular basis to be sure everything was actually being backed up properly!), and felt so unmotivated to work on anything. I just wanted to sit in bed and cry and eat ice cream.

But I didn’t. After pouting and sulking for a while, I finally did make myself get up and do something. Anything. Sulking and pouting wouldn’t fix my hard drive, so I made myself refocus.

What I decided to do was assemble our new Swedish ladder. I had originally intended to make a Swedish ladder from scratch, but then I decided that I would rather save time and purchase a ready-to-assemble Swedish ladder that I know is well made and very sturdy. So I bought this one from The Beam Store. It was very simple to assemble. But installing it on the wall might be a different story.

This thing is very well made, and I love that it has 1.5-inch dowels. Those will be very strong. I don’t love the color, though. As I’ve mentioned before, I want to create a cohesive look throughout this room by using black and walnut throughout the room. That’s been my plan for a while now, and it’s why I bought a black and walnut WaterRower. You can see it sitting on the old foam floor in the photo below.

And that plan is also why I chose walnut-colored shades and black flooring.

So these light-colored dowels don’t really cut it for me.

That’s a problem that can be easily solved with some sanding or stripping (they’re clear coated), a coat of stain, and a new clear coat.

I also intend to give the WalMart dresser a little makeover. Right now, it’s just solid black, which is fine, but not great. And I’ve also decided that it’s a bit too short, so I will be adding legs to it. I have one more piece of 1″ x 2″ walnut lumber from the bathroom remodel, so I’ll use that long the base, add some walnut feet, and then do a little something with the drawer fronts.

And then I bought these pulls to use on the drawers. I found them in this Etsy store.

And then I have two long walls in the entrance to this room that are just begging for some artwork.

I have to admit that I usually don’t like word art. I know I have some in our breakfast room (sitting room), but that’s kind of different because it’s all colorful and glittery and awesome. But regular non-colorful, non-glittery, and non-awesome word art/decor generally doesn’t appeal to me at all.

But in my mind, motivational word art posters go perfectly with a home gym. Don’t you think? I’ve been searching on Etsy to find something that I like, and so far, this series from Etsy is my favorite.

The colors aren’t exactly right, but since they’re downloadable/printable wall art, I think I can edit the colors to work better for the room. But regardless of the series I finally choose, I plan to frame them in walnut and black. I want to frame them like I did the original artwork that I did years ago for our breakfast room…

…so that there’s a very thin black frame around the artwork, and then a thicker frame on the outside. But where I used white on those paintings, I’ll use walnut on the ones for the home gym walls.

So that’s the plan, and hopefully it’ll all look cohesive once it’s finished. I know some people are probably thinking, “This is just a home gym! Why go to all of this trouble?” Well, the obvious answer is in the name of my blog. 😀 But also, it’s a room in our home, and I want it to look nice, just like any other room. I hope to spend a good deal of time in here, and I need to be motivated to come in here and stay in here a while. I’d never be motivated to spend much time in a room that didn’t look pretty and feel inviting to me. Strictly utilitarian rooms don’t motivate me at all.

Anyway, hopefully I can get more accomplished today. No more sulking or pouting allowed.

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  1. I’m really sorry to hear about your hard drive. I’m also surprised the price for a clean room recovery isn’t higher in 2023. Way back in 2005 I had to send a corporate hard drive in for data recovery in a clean room and it was $1500 back then. I think the hard drive was a tiny 40GB, if my memory serves correctly. That was somewhat early in my IT career. I’m sure with that many photos on it, your drive is much larger. I think you got a decent price, though it still really stinks that it happened. 🙁
    I hope for your sake they are successful.
    The ladder will look good with walnut instead of natural. I hope the stripping/staining goes easily for you. Fingers crossed!

  2. Oh no! That’s devastating! I mean, you can focus on the good–no people are hurt, everyone’s healthy…but it’s still quite a blow. I hope they can recover your pictures.

    Meanwhile, good on you for not wallowing. Sometimes you need to a bit to get past something, but good on you for not allowing it to drag out. The gym is coming along nicely and looks terrific. And I completely agree, pretty spaces are just more motivating/inspiring than boring ones. And if you love to decorate, why not decorate your gym?!

  3. OH, I’m so sorry for your technical problems…I do think they will recover your information. It is just so expensive, but sometimes we all have to do something like that…it IS your job/life that is recorded there. It is very important. So glad you got back to your room…It is going to be awesome…love the idea of staining the ladder, and love the posters you found. It does not have to be an undecorated room…anything that you love to look at, and offers motivation is worth it for sure. It will be a room you both like to spend time in, for sure.

  4. A couple of thoughts for you:
    Most gyms have a few mirrors. I’m not really a fan of checking myself out while working out but I do think it is important to check your form sometimes. Is there a spot for a mirror? Also, make sure you have some blank wall space for arm stretches and such. Or if you are doing a wall sit, great for thigh strength!

  5. I’m so sorry about your hard drive. I did something similar; had just transferred a huge amount of precious photos to a portable hard drive, in prep for getting rid of a computer; and then dropped it. I will cross all my fingers and toes—and make my husband do the same—that your data recovery will be successful. (I guarantee that he remembers how traumatic it was for me!) In the meantime, you go, Girl! I would definitely be sitting in bed, eating ice cream, but you got yourself out of your funk! Yay!

  6. You have a blog Full of photos woman! Not a total loss either way. Your gym, like all other rooms you renovate, is fabulous!

    1. I was just thinking the same. Its not like you don’t have the evidence on your blog now so not a total loss, not sure I would want to spend that amount for photos that are already copied on my blog where they could be copied again to use in future posts

  7. May I suggest a mirror or 2 for one of the walls? It would make the room appear lighter and brighter, for starters but it will also allow you to check your posture/stance/form as you do non-equipment related exercises. I have a friend who bought a mirror that connects to the internet which allows her to Zoom (I think) with trainers. Also, I teach tai chi in Florida and you might find a teacher there for both you and Matt, since tai chi can be done sitting down (there’s a guy in Croatia whose class is people who are in wheel chairs – check out YouTube) and could even be beneficil for him in at least maintaining whatever mobility he might have.

  8. Nothing worse than losing data and paying to recover it. Feel lucky if you can recover it, because such is not always the case.

    I would add industrial locking CASTERS to the bottom of the dresser because if it’s full of stuff, so much easier to move if you need to clear out the closet and access that area. Casters could add 3-4″ to the height. I put castors on everything I can for that reason.

  9. Sorry to hear about your hard drive. Had the same thing happen to me at exactly the wrong time, when I had no time to deal with it, yet needed the content desperately. In my case I spent $80 on a program that saved a lot of files without any identification. So I’ve pretty much put the thing in a box in hopes that one day a simpler, cheaper solution is available. Thankfully the super important stuff was backed up to a separate hard drive. Here, you can share my box of Kleenex.. there’s no way to express how much this sucks.

    1. I would need an accountability -progress marker of some kind. Like a golf tee to put in a daily hole or something . I was sorry to read of your hard drive storage travail though.

  10. Those walls are a work of art! I don’t think I’d put a thing on them, but am excited to see what you do.

    Your style always surprises me and makes me smile. To be honest, I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around the black/walnut in this room with the pastels, but am anxiously anticipating the end product and will be shocked if, coming from you) it’s not something I love.

  11. Oh, Kristi, I am so sorry. I have been there and it is a nightmare. Hopefully you will have all of your photos back soon. I am so amazed that you forged ahead even with such a big setback! Way to go! Thank you for continuing to share your journey with us, the highs and the lows. And I love the motivational artwork you chose! There are options out there for creating your own if you want to personalize it. I know Canva has a free trial and you can upload the backgrounds you want from various free sources on the internet. I am excited to see your continued progress!

  12. It’s looking great – colorful and motivating already! I personally have at least 3 hard drives that have been sitting in my office, that I one day hope to get photos off of — I shutter to think it will be almost $2K each. YIKES!! I thought Best Buy would get data off for a few hundred per HD, but that was years ago when I looked into it. For now, I use BackBlaze for cloud backup and never had an issue. I also pay for extra Dropbox storage (2 TB), which backups itself — just a couple of options that work well for me, so I thought I’d share! 🙂

  13. Less than a day of crying and sulking? After that really, really distressing issue? You’re my hero. I would need at least two days and multiple large muffins. Seriously though, I am so very sorry this happened and pray everything can be restored. On a lighter note, when you said art on the hall walls my mind immediately went to something black and white, graphic or swirly, or whatever. I think the word art with tweaked colors would be a great option.

  14. For the art, have you considered 3D words vs framed prints? Perhaps the larger words in walnut, the definitions in black. Someone on Etsy could fix it up!

  15. I saw a photo of a home that had word art from floor to ceiling, it seemed like. I had to leave that site because I started hyperventilating! However, the inspirational word art would be nice in the gym. And I’m sure you’ll find a way to get a little glitter on it! 😊

  16. I can only imagine how devastating the hard drive crash must have been!!! Goodness!
    If I may, I’d suggest putting your ‘must haves’ in your gym before adding wall art. The stripes are truly a work of art in themselves but, until now, they’ve not been part of a cohesive organized room. I’d suggest using your room for a few weeks to see if the ‘empty’ hall works for you. Personally, my eyes tire with too much colour and decor. I need some spaces without artwork or shelves. Just my two cents.

  17. Oh Kristi Im sorry about the lost photos, that is very frustrating and I would be upset too if that happened to me. I’m glad you used your frustrated energy to put together that ladder. Sounds like you made a good plan to get this room finished!

  18. Check out They have some fun gym wall art!

    Ouch! regarding your hard drive. I had one that held “everything ” and when I updated my computer it was no longer compatible. I eventually solved the problem and have since ensured all my data is backed up in the cloud as well as two other hard drives and flash drives. Overcompensating? Probably – but…… 😁

  19. It is hard when you get disappointing news about anything. It’s always a letdown. I am going through that today but somehow I have managed to get myself to get several things done! Phew! It’s just no fun! I hope your pictures are recoverable!

  20. First congratulations on the self talk to get going on the gym. It sux so bad about the hard drive. I certainly hope you can retrieve all of your photos for that price!