Thug Office (Notes on DIY: The Nightmare That Never Ends)


Even though it’s been almost seven years since I married Harv and stopped working two or three part-time jobs, the privilege of freedom still feels foreign to me. It blows my mind that I can do as I please during the hours that suit me.

And now that I have this freedom (from: poverty, addiction, other shady shit), I no longer list every good idea in the Someday category because I can devote time to fulfilling my dreams. Last Wednesday morning I really had a hankering for the chicken teriyaki special with a fried rice upgrade at the mall food court. Guess what I ate for lunch that day? I set a goal. I make it happen.

In January, I slipped on a spray of greeting cards as I walked into my office. As I laid on the floor, I contemplated my two choices: A.) Tear the greeting cards into tiny pieces and then ask Harv how to work the fireplace or B.) Clean/clear the junk from my office. I picked choice A first, but Harv said that choice B would set a better example for Cal. Caring about your kid creates so much extra work.

What began as a weekend project to pack away a few boxes of clutter turned into a complete workspace overhaul. Today is Day 96. My ideas and expenses notebook turned into a rage DIY journal. Some of the legible notes are below.

Day 2 {January 18, 2014}
I’ve been saving this Moleskine notebook for five years. They seem to be very popular with white people. 

Day 2b
Harv saw my last entry and he said it’s not ok to typify only white people as Moleskine users. Maybe I’m racist. But I can’t be racist because I like Eminem.

Day 4
I just packed my 24th box of craft supplies and random junk. The boxes take up the length of the hallway and it seems impossible that so much came out of one room. Harv keeps asking me why there are so many unopened packages of stickers. I just said they came from a big value pack. Can his wallet be considered a value pack? I want to brighten up the space. Maybe new curtains or some wallpaper. The beige blinds are starting to bring me down. They don’t reflect my real personality. I want my new curtains to say, “I look like a Hallmark ornament collector on the outside, but I’m ghetto as fuck on the inside.” What says that? Silk dupioni? 

Day 5
Goddamn. I forgot how expensive curtains are. Maybe I’ll do wallpaper.

Day 5b
Wallpaper is fucking expensive. From now on, if I walk into a house and it has wallpaper AND curtains, MAD RESPECT. That’s the real kind of rich. Not hood rich like all those people that got everything in their mama’s name because they got bad credit.

Day 5c
Harv said he would help me paint if I don’t call him at work for the rest of the day.


Day 10
I think I have to make my own glitter paint. Every article I’ve read so far says I need special paint crystals formulated for house paint but I mixed in three packages and it’s not very glittery. I need Trinidad James level bling.

Day 11
I bought every bottle of Martha Stewart florentine gold glitter at Michaels. Wallpaper would have been 1/3 of the total cost for the paint and glitter.



Day 19
Painting looks so easy on TV. Harv says if I call HGTV “fuckin liars” one more time then I have to stop this project because it makes the vein in my right temple really pop out, and I think he doesn’t want to lose me.

Day 19b
Painting has been very therapeutic for me. I’m not that good at it, but I’m extremely decent. If the room is a little bit dark then it looks perfect. I’m no Bob Ross. I’m more of a Rick Ross.


Day 27
Harv bought me some custom pillows. Actually, I ordered them and just sent them to his office. Now that the glitter wall looks so pimp, I’m not liking the off-white on the rest of the walls. Maybe I need to paint those too.



Day 28
Pinterest told me that gray looks good with pink and gold. I bought 5 different Benjamin Moore grays today. Meh. 

Day 29
Testing out 6 more grays.


Day 29b
I don’t really like gray now that I think about it. Harv asked me if I regret starting this project and I just let the sunken look in my eyes be my answer. Sometimes words aren’t necessary if the emotion is powerful enough. 

Day 30
I went to the hardware store 4 times today and the young paint guy was there. He suggested white. This is all new to me but, apparently, there are a fuckload of whites. A lot a lot a lot of whites. This is reminding me of the gray swatching.

Day 31
I asked Harv if we could just move and he said no. Also, I Urban Dictionary-ed “pimp” and “thug” to see which one fit me best because that’s going to be my room’s theme, but it looks like I’m both.

Day 65
Picked the whitest white available- no pink, no yellow, no green, no blue, no gray tints at all. Still no curtains so I had to cover my windows with 7 pillowcases and 1 brown paper bag because I just realized that I hate sunlight. It sort of looks like a crack house window now. I’m glad I don’t smoke crack anymore. Crack is whack. I wish I came up with that.


Day 70
I want to run away from home but the main thing keeping me here is that I have no marketable skills. I can’t do anything well except talk on the phone. :(

Day 81
I cut my finger on cardboard while I was looking at frames for the dozen gold foil art prints I ordered. There was a lot of blood. It was a finger murder.

Day 82

Day 86
I spent 7 hours hand sanding an Ikea console because the first coat of paint had a lot of bubbles and dried all fucked-up looking. I got the surface smooth again, This second coat seems to be drying in streaks. Fuck this shit.

Day 93
The console has been sitting in the middle of the dining room for over a week and I don’t know what to do with it. I pushed it over when no one was home. DIY is not good for people with a lot of anger in their heart. Those people need to just go to a store and buy everything already made and painted. Even if it costs full price.

I found a new spot to work. For the past three weeks, I spread out a thick comforter in the hallway outside my office. That’s my new office. I’m asking everybody to please respect my space and not step into or onto my office without my permission, but it’s a queen size comforter and it takes up the width of the hallway. Cal can’t get to her bedroom, but I think a little bit of hardship is good for kids. Harv keeps on forgetting to knock and he says he won’t do it because I don’t have a door, but why can’t he just knock on the wall? I’m going to pretend I don’t see him until he knocks. People really need to learn manners.

Day 94





I think I lost a lot of brain cells spray painting everything gold. NBD. I am Thug Midas.

I’m really not racist, so don’t be shy. Holler at me:
Flourish in Progress on Facebook: FB is my fave.
Instagram (@flourishinprogress): Pictures with white people. Also pictures of some poor life choices but nothing illegal because I don’t fuck with felonies.
Google+ (Elizabeth Jayne Liu): I forgot I even had a profile, but I’m going to start using it probably.

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  • Lauren

    You are one of my favorite people. That is all.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      LPG- you one of my best homegirls. xo

  • Trasherati

    OMG. That space used to look like Whack-Ass Barbie lived in it, now it looks all sleek, classy, badass – like you. Nice work, lady.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I just want you to know I came back to read this twice for the Whack-Ass Barbie part. Made me LOL.

  • Stacy Curran

    Best. Post. Ever. I’ve read everything you’ve written, but probably because I’m a decorator, this is my personal favorite. Your room came out GREAT! I esoeviakly love the open gold shelving.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Stacy, thank you again for the shout out. Made my day. And I’m happy to get your decorator’s approval.

      The gold shelves actually started out as black Ikea Vittsjo shelves (only $70!). Four cans of Rustoleum gold did em up real good.

      • Stacy Curran

        IKEA hacks are the best. My autobiography would have to be called “Spraypainting in my garage at midnight” because I do it frequently even though I hate every second of DIY projects….much better if someone will do it for me ;)

  • Steph@DontChewGlass

    DIY is your bitch.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress


      Also- DIY is a bitch.

  • mwheatcraft

    Congrats – even if you lost brain cells they grow back (at least that’s what they tell the alcoholics). It looks really great.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Brain cells grow back??? So I didn’t have to shell out the $4 for a face mask? Damndamndamn

  • Charity

    The gold shelving is everything…you’re a p i m p pimp.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      That is the best compliment.

      Gold shelves are $70 black Ikea Vittsjo shelves I spray painted with Rustoleum gold!

  • Misty

    Wow, that is some hardcore redecorating/renovating. HGTV ain’t got nothing on you, thug. You da bomb! Also, it’s completely gorgeous and organized. Are we taking bets on how long is stays that way, or is it too early for that kind of thing? I say you’ll stick with it for a while. It just looks too good not to. Great job!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Two days in and it’s already starting to look someone’s abandoned backyard but I am going to clean it today. Well, maybe tomorrow. Actually, I’m busy tomorrow but the 2nd wk in May is looking good.

  • Sarah Stars

    Dayum girl! That needed to happen, and you did it! That looks so amazing – not stuffy, not contrived – and I’m jealous of you for doing that (I feel like when I do it, it looks forced!). But I’m with you on taking three months on DIY – slow and steady wins the race, right?

    Really, really good job!!!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you! I’m so glad you used that word….I feel like the room is just a tad bit off but I couldn’t figure out why and I think “contrived” actually fits how I feel a little. I think I need to go ahead and add the “ghetto 4 life” canvas print I bought. THEN it will feel like me.

  • Beth Anne

    I’m crying. This is amazing. & incredibly accurate for my life as I’m going through the exact same thing.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Ooo….you doing some reno or DIY? Girl, I got your back if you need to vent or run away from home. xo

  • Britt Reints

    Gorgeous! You have so much style, lady.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you!! :)

  • alexandra

    OK, this shit here: the real deal. BEST reno project write up I’ve read. That American Blogger dude missed out by riding his airstream past you.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Every documentary needs a thug life element. ;) And, thank you. xo

  • Robyn Chilcoat

    You owned that DIY lady! Love everything about your new Thuggalishish space!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      That is the perfect compliment. I strive for thuggalishishness in everything.

  • Amy Wilson

    NICE Elizabeth! Who knew thugs liked pink so much?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you! Injecting a little femininity into thug life. ;)

  • Amy @ ToothbrushTravels

    Well you can add DIY’ing to your marketable list of talents.
    Looks great!
    And those cushions are beyond perfect! xo

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Holy shit….2 marketable skills! I wonder if I can find a job where I can talk about DIY a lot on the phone but not actually do it. xoxo

  • thehilljean

    Ok, I died reading this. I love the room, but the journal entries make me want to hug you. Possibly marry you. But I’m already married, so don’t worry.

    Also, I’ve been feverishly scribbling in moleskins ever since I first saw them in Barnes and Noble six years ago. I’m so white.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      We could….be in the same gang? I mean, if you roll like that.

      And, omg, I haven’t seen a brick and mortar B&N in ages. Probably because I don’t leave my house that much.

  • newfoundjoye

    It’s looking good in your hood!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you, homegirl! xx

  • Johi Kokjohn-Wagner

    Omg. This is awesome and hilarious. You and I could not approach DIY more differently. I make a rash decision, rip the room apart in a day, then spend all day the following day putting it back together. In short. Everything I do takes less than 48 hours and requires about a week’s worth of massage and chiropractic care as a follow-up.
    Your room is clearly well thought out and fabulous, much like you!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You have the exact approach that I want. All this hemming and hawing over the smallest stupidest shit is, like, wasting my time. Plus your method involves massages. ;) xo

  • Nicole Garner

    The before and after photos are just awesome. Those gold shelves are the shizz!!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you! Pinterest is so useful for Ikea hacks. And by useful, I mean misleading and dangerous.

  • Thuy

    I need those pillows now! :) Where can I get my hands no them?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I custom ordered them from a place that does screen printing but I would not recommend the place that I used. If I find a better place that has their act together, I will holler at you.

      • Thuy

        Thank you! DIY is D.I.E ( learned that trying to DIY my wedding!) ;)

  • Corinna


    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress


  • FearlessFibro

    I haven’t commented in a while, but my crush is still active. Nevermind the chubby girl snooping through your trash.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oh girrrrl, you better knock on the door next time so we can chill. ;)

  • Jinia

    Just wandered over from The Bloggess…laughed my ass off ..thanks!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for reading this obscenely long post!

  • H Geezy

    “I think I lost a lot of brain cells spray painting everything gold…”
    I shit you not…I said the exact same thing after I bought my 12th can of Rustoleum Shiny Gold spray paint. I wish I could do the “I dream of Jeanie” thing by crossing my arms, closing my eyes and with a quick nod of the head – finish whatever DIY project I inflicted upon myself.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Luckily, I do not use my brain cells often so it ain’t no thang. But man, I wish I had known I was gonna use so many cans. I woulda gotten a case for a discount.

  • Ella Pretty Blog

    Love the color scheme – so gorgeous! And you’ve got some serious book arranging skills – the gold bookshelf is so pretty.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Oh, I hadn’t even thought about the way the books look. Lol But thank you!! I have them arranged in very specific groupings and didn’t put them in an orderly row to separate the groups.

  • Kayla Carruth

    Strong work. Nice job on the stripes. Your journal totally hit the nail on the head with what it feels like to DIY!!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      While I am very inspired by people who can do DIY projects without delays or mistakes, I ain’t about that life. Actually, is there anybody that can do DIY without delays or mistakes? I think that’s only camera-true and not real-true.

  • Karin Antal

    Looks amazing. You are too pimp-thug for me, gurl. Also, I’d not last long in that rooms as I loathe pink and gold, but you make it look good.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      If you loathe the colors and still think it looks good, then you totally just gave my confidence a boost!

  • Teri

    Hopped over from South Shore, so brand new to your blog. I wish more bloggers were as truthful. I tire of hearing how perfect their DIY projects go. I actually LOL about HGTV being”fucking liars” and wanting your family to respect your space when you were in the hallway on a comforter. Too funny.
    Thanks for the awesome read. Your office is really truly FAB!
    PS New follower

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for taking the time to stop by! I love that South Shore blog. So much inspiration that I will totally never attempt on my own b/c I am never ever ever ever doing DIY again.

  • the818

    Dammit. We really do like Moleskine notebooks.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress


  • Natane

    I admire you not giving up! Oh a whim/fit of frustration, I decided to tile the backsplash in my very small kitchen over the Easter weekend. Therein ends my desire for home renovations.
    You did a fantastic job turning something cluttered into something new & beautiful. Metaphor?

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Did you finish tiling? I’ve always wanted to try that but the thought of having to keep small pieces orderly and then that grout or whatever you call it- that shit makes me nervous.

      Also, I love LOVE the metaphor. Thank you for pointing it out.

      • Natane

        I did! The combination of hating chaos in my kitchen and a tight timeline for returning the tools to a friend made me get it done. Now it looks amazing. Also, I didn’t use individual tiny tiles, they come on sheets that are a square foot. That helped. I refused to use anything that required meticulously adding spacers.

        No problem! I thought it was maybe intentional.

        • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

          OH WUT. That’s a genius invention. This almost makes me want to tile now.

  • Ronnie

    You are officially my new best internet friend. I can only think of one person that could mention Bob Ross AND Rick Ross in the same thought, and I happen to be marrying said person. So you’ll have to settle for new best internet friend. And how the hell did you manage glass doors? Balla!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Clearly, you have good taste because everyone should marry someone that can reference both Bob Ross and Rick Ross. That’s what I tell my husband anyway.

      Oh man, I wish they were glass but they are mirrored closet doors. They take up the entire length of one wall and I think they are kind of hideous but I ain’t messin with that DIY conversion. Even I know that’s disaster waiting to unfold.

  • BethB

    Argh. I am white, why don’t I have moleskine notebook? You’ve inspired me to put my son’s bookcase together. Or I could wait for my fella to do it, listen to him banging and swearing and then shout at him for making everything stressy when I’m perfectly capable of doing it myself without all the drama etc. Choices choices.

    P.S. I’m over familiar because I have been lurking.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Harv is perfectly capable of every other thing, but when he is asked to put together simple furniture he turns into a stress ball and he makes me promise him every time that I will never do it to him again.

      Promises are made to be broken.

      P.S. Hi! Thanks for de-lurking!

  • Veronica Douglas

    the GOLD is fabulous!! seriously. Sure it took 3 months and a pint of blood but I say job well done.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      A project is not special to me until I’ve lost blood. Which makes this project very, very, very special.

  • MLP

    Oh, how delighted I am that Wendi introduced us the other night and we got to chat around the sofa for a little bit. You’re a riot!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I Miss You When I Blink has got to be one of my all time favorite blog names. It totally doesn’t stink. I would shout it around a rink. Think. (I TRIED. JUST LET ME HAVE THIS.)

  • greeblemonkey

    Wow. YOU GO. And then COME HERE.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I’ll be right over. But I want you to know that a lot of my friends don’t invite me over anymore because I break things.

  • Andrea

    I’m so happy that I found your blog so long ago. You make me smile and laugh all the time. AND you say exactly what’s on my mind. (I’m a white person not into Moleskin.) But I LOVE gold shit — spent ages spray painting my parents old kitchen banquettes, my desk, my tv console for my first apartment. I wish I had thought of Thug Midas. Perfect.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Your first apartment sounds like my dream home. ALL GOLD EVERYTHING.

      Clearly, your sense of style is next level and I could use some pointers from you. (Also, gold desk?? That’s motherfucking pimp.)

  • MJ

    Important thing is that you finished the project. Yay! I on the other hand moved November of last year an am still unpacking. Maybe I’ll be done by Thanksgiving.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Homegirl, you just too busy living that fabulous life. Boxes can wait.

      (Coincidentally, this sounds strangely like the talk I give myself when I pass by boxes from my last move….3 years ago.)

  • Kim Armstead

    Hey!?! I just found and started reading your blog. Can’t wait to read what you post next!!

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Thank you for checking out this hot mess. xx

  • Cassandra

    Hysterical. I often have dreams of “organizing” my office space. I think you have just cured me of those.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      If my pain can save just one person……

  • Leigh Ann

    I know this method of DIY. I’m still working on remodeling our fireplace that I started a year ago. Don’t even ask about the spots where we patched over baby gate holes and never painted over them.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      Perfection takes time.

      A fireplace is hard. You got, like, 3 years to do a project like that.

  • Wendi

    So, so funny. This might be your best post, Thug.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      You are the personification of funny so this is very flattering. Thank you.

  • aninchofgray

    Took a break from painting two end tables to read this. This is hilarious and the room looks awesome! I don’t even know why I bought these tables. I wanted to paint them gray (of course, gray!) sell them, and make $$$. Not looking good.

    • Elizabeth-FlourishinProgress

      I hate wondering “what if?”

      And now that we’ve done DIY, I’m sure we’ll be happy with DISE. Do It Someone Else.

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  • Chris

    Where did you get these pillows?

  • Tina Buell

    I really enjoyed reading this!! Your office
    is pimp and those custom pillows are sick! “Can his wallet be considered a value pack?” Love it. Fan for life. If you write it, I’m reading it.