Sunday, July 31, 2011

Easy Art

A few months ago, I bought a frame from Kohl's.  It is a black frame with four spots for 3x5 pictures.  Since I have four kids, I assumed I'd take some new pictures of them and display them in this frame - you know, one spot per kid.  And the price was right - at zero dollars.  I used a coupon which was for $10 off a $10 dollar purchase.  The frame was on sale for $8.99 (I threw in a pair of socks to make up the difference) and I had myself a free frame.  Now all I had to do was take some new pictures of the kids...

So, a couple of months later, when I still hadn't filled this frame with kid photos, I decided to try something else.  I went to Michael's and bought scrapbook paper.  I found a couple of individual sheets that would be perfect in my daughters' room.  Then I bought a huge book (on sale at $9.99):

After reviewing them, I chose my favorite four:

Then, I simply cut out 3x5 rectangles and taped them in place.  So I ended up with this:

To hang it up (easily), I used Command Strips:

And up it went:

As you can see from the picture, the room has beige and blue walls.  Which is where I got the inspiration for the scrapbook paper.  I tried to tie the blue in to other areas of the room.  It's a really fun look, don't you think?

I've shared this project here -

Today's Creative Blog

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Table Progress

I have been working on a table for my daughters' room for a couple of days.  I bought it at the flea market last weekend (you can read about that here).  I love giving new life to old furniture (as I did HERE and HERE).  There was a little prep work - it was a little rough:

I had to sand it.  Then, I filled the scratches with wood putty. Sanded again.  And gave it a coat of Kilz oil based primer.  So, it looked like this:

Finally - the fun part.  I used Olympic white (off the shelf) and Valspar Lake Country for the top (I bought a sample paint - because I'm cheap thrifty).  I applied 3 coats of white and 2 coats of blue.  When that dried, I added 2 coats of Minwax Polycrylic Protective Finish in High Gloss.  And here is what it looks like now:

Pretty cute, huh?

I've shared this project here:

Not Just a Housewife
Between Nap on the Porch
Boogieboard Cottage
The DIY Showoff
Savvy Southern Style
 A Diamond in the Stuff
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia
Primitive and Proper
Young House Love
Bower Power Blog
Restore Interiors
Funky Junk Interiors
At the Picket Fence
Marvelously Messy

Friday, July 29, 2011

Taking Time to Smell the

After a VERY wet spring, I was able to plant some flowers around the patio.  And, luckily, we have had a lot of sun the last few weeks - so they are doing surprising well.  I do not have a green thumb but I am learning.

Usually I plant the same types of flowers.  This year, I mixed it up a little.  I bought a few different kinds and colors.  And then I randomly put them in the pots on the patio.

They are really looking beautiful.  It's fun to enjoy them when I sit outside.  And I can see most of them while looking out the sun room windows.

I love the sort of mix and match flavor of the pots.  Different colors and textures together.

I am definitely getting more comfortable in the garden.  I've tackled a few larger projects outside too - by planting some bushes and building a flagstone wall:

Here is that little corner from another angle:

And I planted a few boxwoods next to the side door:

Those are great here because the deer won't eat them.  I've planted a few bushes over the years that didn't last through winter due to rabbits and deer - so these have become a favorite.

I'm hoping to enjoy a beautiful sunny weekend on my patio - and I know I'll enjoy the beautiful scenery!

Here Comes the Rain Again...

A rainy day + a painting project = slow drying time.  Which is making this little table project take forever.  Ok, not forever but you know what I mean.

I've been working on a little table that I picked up at the flea market last weekend for $8.  I loved the shape but not the dark brown finish:

It was a little beat up.  But I had a plan.  So I sanded the glossy finish and used a little wood putty to smooth out the top:

Guess it has to look worse before it can look better.  Anyway, now it was ready for a coat of Kilz oil based primer:

It's starting to get better now!  It just needs a couple coats of paint followed by a couple coats of Minwax Polycrylic in High Gloss.  All those coats are taking a very long time to dry.  But when they do, I'm putting this little table in my daughters' room - in place of this mess bookcase:

Hopefully I'll wrap up this project today.  And then I won't have to look at this scene again.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Fireplace

I am working on the last item on my Family Room to-do list.  I am really excited about this because it seems like there are thousands of things on my to-do list.  Crossing off a whole room is huge!  Oh, I still need to finish decorating it.  But, it's nice to have the reno done.  Anyway...

The whole room started out with four walls of paneling.  And faux wood ceiling beams.  I figured I would just paint everything to brighten it up.  But, of course, that would be too easy.  The family room opened up to the sun room add-on.  Which is great.  The old exterior sliding glass door between them - not so great.  Since we knew we had to remove the door, we would expose a section of drywall where the jam used to be.  And that was just the start.  We realized, after living in the home for a while, that the ceiling beams made the room feel too short.  I mean, this is a house from the 60's - before vaulted ceilings were the norm.  We knew we wanted to tear the beams down - further exposing holes in the paneling.  We discussed the problems for a while, and finally decided that we needed to do it right - lose the paneling.  Craig and I pulled the beams and paneling out and had the drywall patched.  And we decided to take out the built in book cases out also.  Here's the only shot I have of the before of the fireplace wall when we moved in:

I know the picture has some sort of funky thing at the bottom - sorry, I have no idea what that is.  :-)  But you can see what we started with.  Not so pretty.  So the bookcases, beams, paneling, mantle, and hearth came out.  We painted the drywall, added a black granite hearth, and had a custom made mantle installed.  Here's the fireplace almost complete:

Huge improvement already!  I had two things left to do - paint the brick.  And paint the brass metal doors.  This is the scene as I was preparing to paint the brick.  Do you see that cat litter bucket?  That's where I swept the old ashes - I figured since the metal doors were off, I might as well give it a good cleaning.  After that, I primed the brick with oil based primer, then two coats of paint (Glidden Onyx Black in satin).  This is what it looks like now:

Notice that I didn't paint the inside of the firebox - we actually use the fireplace and I didn't use high heat paint on the brick (I will on the metal doors).  Now all that's left is to spray the metal doors.  And this fireplace will be gorgeous!

The Dining Room - Second Try...

When we moved into our house, we knew we had to change everything.  Our plan was to tackle a lot of inexpensive projects first - for the most impact.  So, before we moved in, I worked on the dining and living rooms.  Here's why I chose these rooms:

1. The living room wasn't wallpapered - so after removing the three layers of curtains, all I had to do was paint.      Easy.

2. The dining room was only partially wallpapered.  A little more work, but easy.

3.  The rooms are the first two you see when you enter the house.  I figured they should look nice.

Here's what we started with in the dining room:

Here's what needed to be done:

1. Remove wallpaper.  Sand the walls.  They actually weren't in bad condition but they needed some touching up.

2. Remove the stained, smelly old carpet.  Unfortunately, there was only sub floor underneath.  Which we lived with for a year.  (I wanted to run the same hardwood floors in there and the kitchen.  So the dining room didn't get floors until the kitchen was remodeled.).

3.  Paint all of the wainscoting and trim a semigloss white.  It's hard to tell in the picture, but all of the trim in our house was a yellow-y off white.

4. Paint the top half of the room.  I was trying to get this room done before we moved in. So, I didn't give the color too much thought.  I used a beige that I had used in our old house (and loved).

5.  Remove the chandelier and find a new one.

6.  Remove the curtains.  Buy and hang new ones.

The project was going smoothly.  I ripped up the carpet and removed the wallpaper.  Finished all the painting.  And then I was stuck.  I had plenty of projects throughout the house, so the dining room became less of a priority.  It took a while to get back to it but I finally decided on a chandelier.  I fell in love with one in the Pottery Barn catalog.  It was beautifully photographed in several dining rooms and looked simple and elegant.  I broke down and ordered it.  I was so excited when it arrived, and Craig and I put it up that night.  I rushed out to buy mini shades.  And then I stood back to look...

I wasn't in love.  Well, I still did love the light.  I just didn't like it in my dining room.  It was too casual or simple or something.  I couldn't really figure it out.  And I moved on to the many other projects in the house.

Until now.  Why?  Because this is my dining room on an average day:

It's become the dumping ground for everything that doesn't have a home.  And I am determined to change that.  Even though we don't use the room a lot, I still want a nice semi-formal space in the house.  I know that sounds old fashioned, but I still want it.  And just for perspective, here is the before from the other angle:

Sorry about the lousy lighting in the picture but it's the only one I have from that view.  See that front door?  That has changed too.  I'll talk about that later.  And this angle now:

This is not what I want my guests to see when they walk in my house.  And I think the best way to keep this room looking nice, is to make it nice.  I plan on repainting the walls, adding a little more art, and changing out the chandelier.  I still kinda like the curtains but they may change too.  And even though the furniture is a little formal, I'd like to keep it that way.  I decorated the whole room around my grandmother's china cabinet in the corner.

It's my favorite piece of furniture (mainly because it holds sentimental value).  And the china inside was hand painted by my great grandmother - so I'll keep that on display.  But I want to make this room into something that we will want to keep clean.

I just don't know where I'm going to dump all of my junk when this is finished...

Cheap Art

What do you do when you find a cheap wall hanging at TJMaxx - but hate the color?  Yup, paint it white.  That's just what I did for the art in my master bathroom.  I was excited to find this in the clearance section:

It had a little red sticker marked $6.50.  That sounds good.  But.... when I went to pay for it, we realized that it was mismarked (I know - it seems like that would not be my problem except that there was no actual tag on it.  Therefore, they couldn't check the actual price.)  So, after a little back and forth, we realized that this guy was $9.99.  Ok, not the deal of the day, but I still wanted it.  And, I still planned to paint it.  

It's hard to see in the picture, but it is sort of 3-D.  When hung, it sticks out from the wall by about an inch.  That meant I would have to paint the back, sides and front.  With drying time, it took a little longer than I anticipated.  But I think it came out looking sharp:

I'm liking it in the master bathroom.  What do you think?

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The New Kitchen

When we bought our home six years ago, I carefully planned out every room before we moved in.  I knew we would be able to make this house beautiful with a little elbow grease.  Almost every room was wallpapered - so I knew it would take a while.  But I was very excited anyway.

I wasn't completely in love with the kitchen but I figured if I painted the cabinets, removed the mirrored wall, and replaced the ceiling fan with a cuter light fixture, it would look great.  Then we moved in.  It's amazing what you learn about a kitchen when you actually use it.  Let me explain.  Here is a before picture:

That is my son, Andrew, checking out the new digs.  Over the sink is an open pass through to the sun room add-on.  Oh, and you can see the exterior sliding glass door which leads to the family room.  Yeah, that had to go too. Here is another view :

This is a view from the other direction.  Doesn't my son, Adam, look cute there - well, now he's all grown up and going off to college.  Where does the time go?  But in this picture you can see the beautiful mirrored wall. We actually had many mirrored walls in the house to deal with.  You can also see a little of the sun room to the left.  It's a sun room yet  no sun could enter through the layers of window treatments.  (Can you say circus tent?).  The other side of the kitchen looked like this:

A little dated.  But functional.  So I thought I could work with it.  Until I realized that the counter space between the stove and sink was tiny.  And the sink had two bowls - which were too small to actually wash anything.  And the dishwasher leaked.  The small pantry wasn't going to cut it for a family of six.  The strange counter overhang was way to big and preventing us from actually getting a table into the space.  Well, the list of problems went on and on.  I was beginning to realize that we were going to have to start from scratch.  So we ripped out everything - from the white floor tile to the pink granite counter.

It took about two months to complete.  And we love it:

We added custom maple cabinets with a beautiful stain, hardwood floors, black granite counters and stainless steel appliances.  We reworked the layout to put the stove on the opposite wall from the sink - more counter space.  We also have a small overhang for a couple of bar stools.  The doorway into the adjoining family room was widened because the old doorway just seemed oddly narrow.  Did you notice the cat head cutout in the basement door in that last picture?  Well we needed a way for the kitties to get downstairs (And I didn't want it to be a boring square hole).

We solved the pantry storage problem too:

Behind the double doors is the pantry of my dreams.  I'll clean that out and take some pictures - but for now trust me -it's good.  That used to be a solid wall - and the garage is behind it.  We simply bumped it out - much needed storage.  Ahh...

We love our new kitchen - and we are so glad we made all of the changes.  It is so beautiful and functional.

I linked this post to:  Check it out!

Small Stool = Small Project

Sometimes a small project can make a huge impact.  A trip last weekend to the flea market (at closing time) netted us a little stool:
 The asking price was $13.  It was cute but that was a little high.  Since it was closing time, we were able to haggle the owner down to $8.  Ok...I'll take it.  I thought it would be super cute in my daughters' room.  I wiped it off, lightly sanded it, and spray primed it.  Which made it look like this:

And did you notice that I placed it on some scrap wood we had - because the old Winnie the Pooh towel wasn't cutting it.  Then came the fun part.  I was planning on spray painting it silver but Lowes was out of it.  So plan B - Satin Nickel.  That'll work.  I applied a few light coats and let it dry.  And found the perfect corner for it - I just needed to clear out this mess:

I think this is much better:

Big improvement - from a small project!  Gotta love that!

I've linked this projects here - 

Night Owl Crafting
Between Naps on the Porch

A Perfect Pear...

One of my favorite things to do is shop at The Salvation Army Thrift Store.  There are actually two of them close by.  I love finding little treasures - cheap.  So on a recent trip, I brought my two daughters.  My older daughter, Cate, shares my thrift store love.  She often accompanies me.  But my younger daughter, Claire, doesn't quite understand.  So when I walked up to the counter with two orange ceramic pears, she was very confused.

Of course I wasn't in love with them in orange either.  But I knew I could fix that - easily.  And at $1.88 for for the pair, I wanted them.

Here they are:

The shape was interesting even if the color wasn't.  So a few light coats of white spray paint and they were transformed:

Cute huh?  White spray paint can fix anything!  I'm not sure if Claire is sold yet but I love them.

I shared this post here: 

My Romantic Home
Chic on a Shoestring
504 Main
Thirty Handmade Days
Under the Table and Dreaming
Boogieboard Cottage
Night Owl Crafting
733 Blog

Trash to Treasure

I love to fix up houses.  This is the third house I've remodeled - and by far the most extensive.  The house is much larger than my last one.  And it was much uglier.  We had to tear out everything and start over.  The process has taken a lot of energy and money.  But now I can focus on the fun stuff.  I've slowly been decorating! Yeah - the fun stuff.

I have loved this table from Pottery Barn for a very long time:

It is beautiful.  It is also $499 which is way out of my price range.  So when I came across a sad $10 table at Salvation Army, I knew I had to have it.  Here's what it looked like when I brought it home:

I loved the chunky turned legs.  And, even though it didn't have drawers, I knew it would be perfect in my living room.  So after a light sanding, I primed with oil-based primer:

And then 2 coats of Valspar Lincoln Cottage Black (leftover from this project - $0. Score.).  This is what it looks like now:

I am in love with this table.  I actually like it more than the Pottery Barn version.  And since I saved $490, I think a date night with my husband is in order.

BTW, the little votive holder on the left is from Salvation Army too - $1. So cute.

I was featured here - check it out!!

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What Allie's Making Now
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Between Naps on the Porch
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