Thursday, June 30, 2016

Annual stay-cation!

Now that the school year is over, I've finally been able to take some much needed time off. I usually take the week after graduation off because let's face it - I'm pretty tired from photographing all of the end of year events at my school.

When I was young, my family would pile into the car and drive to Florida. While I'd LOVE to go down to Florida and visit my family, it's just not something that's in the cards right now (I did manage to squeeze in a much-needed spa day though!). However, I am using the time to be productive around the house (which, after looking back at my Facebook posts over the years, is apparently what I do whenever I take time off) and so far I've been able to complete a good amount of tasks.

I finally painted over the stenciling on the bathroom walls and installed the trim around the vanity mirror. I still need to putty the miter joints, but it's looking better all the time.

Yesterday I managed a good scrubbing and polish of the living room hardwood floors. Despite being scratched nearly to oblivion (thanks to my two dogs, three cats and two people) the floor looks a lot better than it did. I use the Holloway House floor finisher for high traffic floors and it looks lovely. Because I have a lot of furniture, it took nearly two hours to do the whole room as I had to move the furniture to one side of the room, do two coats, then move it to the other side, and do the two coats on that side. Lesson learned - it would have been a good idea to have the hubs move the very heavy and solid furniture (sofa bed and large, heavy dining table) because I'm quite sore today.

One of my favorite things to do when on stay-cation is to paint. I've fallen head-over-heels in love with chalk paint and I'm thankful that my local arts and crafts supply stores carry a wide variety for me to try. I've had very good luck with the Folk Art brand and am very fond of the castle grey color. It's a nice warmish-greige and looks lovely when antiqued. (I used this color on my two cane-back chairs and plan to use it on my French provincial dresser that I'm using at my television stand)

I haven't tried Annie Sloan, mostly because I don't know of a distributor close to me, and secondly, it's pretty expensive stuff. Since I'm working on multiple house projects, I'm trying to keep costs relatively down. Plus, the Folk Art chalk paint has worn fairly well so far. I've also used Americana Decor and I like it okay, but it's definitely a lot thicker than the Folk Art brand. I find it works a lot better if you have a damp brush, otherwise it can be a bit cakey.

Speaking of Americana Decor - I'm using their "vintage" color for my next chair project.

I think it's a lovely color - very similar to the Palladian Blue color I have on the walls, which makes it a nice color for my dining chairs. My grey cane back chairs have cushions the same color, so it all ties in nicely. 

I think I will keep it simple for these chairs and just distress them a little and add clear wax and be done with it. I'm still on the fence about adding a design or not to the chairs. They're fairly simple, but I don't want to "over-do" it with them.  

As you can see in the photo - I've used these chairs in many many many painting projects. There are paint splatters all over them. I found the easiest and fastest way to get the paint off of these chairs (mind you, these are cheap-o chairs I got with a dining set at Walmart 7 years ago, so I wasn't worried about anything happening to them) is to use Goo-gone and a putty knife. This combo gets the paint off really quickly without having to sand the globs down. (It also got paint, dried putty and even dried mortar off of my floors). After I wiped up all the dried paint, I gave it a good clean with an all-purpose cleaner and let it dry. 

I applied two coats, and like I said, with the Americana Decor paint, a damp brush works a lot better for a thin, even coat. I applied two coats to the chair, letting it dry completely between coats. 

The next step depends on a few things. If I want to add a design, I'd go ahead and do that. I have a few ideas in mind - maybe something with stripes, or something like Miss Mustard Seed's designs (I seriously love everything she does - especially the adorable hand-painted dressers) or even use my stencil on the seat. Again, still on the fence. 

Once a design is painted, then you can distress and clear wax. I I don't decide to do a design, I'll just distress and clear wax. After clear wax you'd antique if you wanted to, but I'm not planning on antiquing these chairs. 

I'm hoping to finish two of the chairs today, two tomorrow, and then possibly start the dresser on Saturday. So. much. paint. I may even get around to doing the molding for and painting another door. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

More trim work and pallet hoarding

Now that I have one door down, I decided to start working on some other trim-related projects around the house. A while back I took the trim off of our first-floor bathroom vanity and now I'm finally getting around to replacing it.

Took a quick couple of measurements and went out to my miter saw and cut the trim. One thing I've learned about cutting with the miter saw, is that you need to make the cut just outside of the line otherwise things won't line up correctly and you end up with gaps in the trim.

So, I cut the pieces, sanded the cut ends and made sure they fit around the medicine cabinet. After feeling good about the fit, I decided to paint the trim first before attaching it to the wall.

While I was thinking about it, a while back I decided to try stenciling my bathroom wall. While that wasn't the worst idea I've ever had, I found out that I wasn't terribly good at stenciling around corners.

You can see that for whatever reason I didn't continue the pattern into the corner. Oh well. I still really like the navy blue above the white bead board so I'll just paint over the stenciling. I really do love this stencil though! I bought it from Cutting Edge Stencils and it's their Oceana Damask one. I think it will be lovely on my antique dressers that need to be redone (I have a neat idea I want to do with them over the summer.)

Like most of my projects, I realized I couldn't paint the walls over unless I sanded them smooth, There were also a few spots that when I was doing the stenciling, the tape to hold the stencil to the wall ended up peeling the paint a bit, so I needed to sand and putty those spots too.

Now that those areas are puttied and dried, I need to sand them smooth and I can paint over the stenciling and then add the trim. It's much easier, if at all possible, to add trim work after painting so you don't have to worry about cutting in carefully or taping - especially when using a relatively dark wall color.

As far as the rest of the bathroom goes - there's still quite a bit of work to be done. I'm hoping to find someone that can re-glaze my tub. I plan on also redoing the floor and shower surround, and getting a new top and faucet for my vanity.

I'm also working on another project that I'm sure many of you have seen on Pinterest. Yes, I'm talking about the infamous pallet wood wall. I really love how they add a bit of warmth and texture to a room. I've had the light wood paneling for quite some time now, and I don't think there was ever really a moment that I was totally in love with it.

The walls in our house are plaster and when we pulled the Wall of Mirrors off, there were a few spots on the wall where the plaster was ruined. I tried a few things to fix it - mostly trying to patch the plaster, and then again try to re-texture it - both of which failed miserably - so paneling was the next option that wasn't going to cost me whatever it would cost to have someone come out and try and fix it.

At this point, the amount of damage done would require redoing the drywall and plaster on that entire wall. Ugh.

When I saw the pallet wall I thought that would be a fun idea. I like rustic style things, and with Fixer Upper type styles being very popular, it's certainly easy to find tutorials and ideas on how to make it work in a variety of spaces. I'm also not that concerned about resale as it is a really popular style now (and probably for a few more years at least) so it's another very inexpensive way to upgrade a wall and add some personality.

I know a lot of folks will say that you want to make your house as "bland" as possible for people to walk through, but I don't necessarily agree with that. I think by styling your house intentionally so people can see how you can live there and do it in a way that's up-to-trend, you will have a higher chance of selling quickly. Granted, I'm not a real-estate agent, but that's how I would feel walking into a home. (To be fair - I can "see" what to do to a house that needs some TLC when walking into it, but if it's already done, I'd be more excited about buying it - that's what happened with the first house we put an offer on).

The wall is 8x14 and so far I have 5 pallets saved up. Luckily I can get them for free from my work and another office on my way to work. I recently bought a sawzall so I can rip them apart hopefully pretty easily. It will probably take some time to collect enough wood to create my wall, but it would be great if I could do so by the end of the summer.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Operation Florida!

I've taken what can be considered an extended hiatus from blogging. Work got pretty intense, as well as helping run my school's drama club, and generally just forgetting that I had a blog in the first place.
Sure, I had grand plans that by blogging I'd be oozing creativity and come up with adorable weekly projects that I'd take a million artistic photographs of and loads of people would "ooh" and "aah" over every detail.
Yeah, no.
I mean, I've done projects. I just haven't photographed or written about them.
But, we do have a possible major project in the works.
The hubs and I have talked extensively about relocating over 1,000 miles to Florida to be closer to my family. With having a kid becoming more of a central focus for us, the thought of "well, who is going to help us?" has been raised more often than not. We're also thinking that the cost of living down there is so much less than where we live now - that we could afford to buy a decent house and fix it up to our liking without nearly as much trouble. It helps also that I could take the time away from working to raise a kid. Lastly, my fibromyalgia has not gotten much better over the last few years. I feel awful during the cold/damp parts of the year, which where we are lasts around 7 months. That's a long time to feel crappy.
Which, of course, when planning a major move, there are major projects that need to be completed first.
A few updates first:

  • We did get most of the attic finished. We moved our bedroom to the attic in September even though it's not completely finished. We still need to do some trim work, add doors to the bathroom and closet, and have the tub properly plumbed. 
  • I attempted to stencil paint the bathroom downstairs. Bad plan. I'll be repainting that. 
  • The most recent accomplishment was finishing the pantry. I repainted the inside and the shelves and made the door all pretty. I just put the final coat of paint on the pantry door and will hopefully hang it tomorrow.
All of our doors are plain, flat panel doors that are stained an orangey-oak color to match our floors. Blech. After 60 or so years, the finish has worn and restaining it would just be a pain (not to mention... yuck... orange!) So, I decided to paint it. I figured it would either be white or grey - as I'm trying to keep everything relatively neutral. Since the door is just a flat panel, I decided that I'd try to add some interest by adding some trim.
Now the hubs is on the road for his new job a lot, so most of the projects I'm trying to get finished will need to be by my own power. While this is a bit scary, it's quite empowering too. Knowing that I can take my time is helpful, and this pantry project has spanned over the course of a month or more while I worked on it a little at a time on weekends.
Here's the sad, flat panel door:

So, in order to add the trim, I needed to learn how to use our miter saw. I figured that I'd just try and figure it out and luckily it's pretty straight forward. I managed to get the trim cut and glued to the door panel in an afternoon.

For my first go at cutting trim, I think I did pretty well. My joints weren't perfectly tight, but they were close enough that a dab of wood putty fixed it.

I decided to go with grey paint since my trim is already a bright white. I used Valspar Door and Trim paint since it's specifically designed to withstand the everyday wear of a door. We'll see how it holds up. I'm debating on painting the trim I cut white as that would make it stand out, but I think I'll live with it a while first before painting it. It looks pretty awesome as is though!

Of course I had to text the photos to my parents. Dad was proud. He said I must've "held the light" as a kid. :) I added that I still had all my fingers too.

I'm hoping to start on the trim around the main floor bath next (and repaint the bathroom after my stencil mishap).

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

I'm apparently horrible at blogging, and updating my house

This year has been one of those where time just flies by without even realizing it. All of a sudden it was July and I noticed we haven't made much progress on anything.

So, I challenged my husband to finish the drywall in our attic before my birthday on August 13. Of course, I'll be helping with mud and sanding (and after it's all done I will be doing the painting) and overall cheerleading to get it all done by this deadline.

I'm hoping by the end of the year the bedroom will be finished enough where we can move all of our bedroom things and start 2015 in our little bohemian attic retreat.

Then in 2015 we can tackle the attic bath - which is sure to be a total nightmare to finish a fun journey.

While the drywall is being finished, I'm working on paint colors and the overall design of the space. Originally I wanted to paint it like my old bedroom when I was a teenager - blue sky walls with clouds. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it would be a pain to do (literally and figuratively), so I'm going to opt for a stenciled feature wall since that is something I can do without hurting myself and with a much more guaranteed outcome than a free-form painting.

Another part of the process that's "gumming up the works" is that we're essentially starting from design scratch. We're planning on getting a new bed too and since that is bound to be a rather large investment since we need something other than your average run-of-the-mill bed due to my fibro and now Garry's back problems, I'm planning on getting new linens since the bed will be a different size.

So, eventually I'll get around to making more updates.


Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Little ways to keep resolutions

It seems like a lot of bloggers out there are coming up with lists on how they keep their New Year's resolutions, and like those folks, I'm falling in line with my two cents.

The hardest resolution for me to make was to clean the house more. I know that sounds like it's a bit of a shock, but the emotional stuff I'm getting a hold of, and the decorating stuff I'm fairly good at once the funds are there to do so. But, cleaning the house has always been this daunting task that I loathed to do.

Okay, I still don't find cleaning terribly enjoyable. However, I do enjoy basking in the glory of a clean and uncluttered house more than my dislike for cleaning it. Finding a way to do that without breaking myself (physically and emotionally) is key in this process. Here are a few things I've done (so far) to help in that process.

  1. Mini cleaning kits in different areas of the house. I'm more likely to clean something really quick while I'm in a room if the cleaning products/tools are already in there instead of a centralized place (under the sink in my kitchen). For instance, in the bathroom you could keep some cleaning wipes and magic eraser sponges under the sink, in a basket on a shelf, or if you have room - in your medicine cabinet. I also keep a bottle of Method shower spray in my shower. My plan is to have little mini kits in most of the rooms, tucked away, but not so much that I forget they're there. 
  2. Keeping with a routine. I'm certainly one of those people that does well on a routine. For example - I've started making the bed right before I get dressed for work every day. It only takes a few minutes, but it's so nice when I go to bed and the bed is made. The whole room feels a lot cleaner. Even though I haven't done this yet - I do plan on coming up with a monthly "schedule." So I remember to do things like wipe down the baseboard heat element, scrub the shower, and clean the windows. 
  3. Enlisting help. I know there are folks out there that feel cleaning is "woman's work." Thankfully neither I or Garry believe in that and he is good about doing his share of chores - especially ones that are physically difficult for me to do. 
  4. Having the right tools. Because of my fibro - I need to have cleaning tools that are as efficient as time-saving as possible to keep me from over doing it. We bought a Roomba last year (and it has kept up with the dog/cat hair surprisingly well) and other utensils to remove pet hair from the furniture relatively easy. To be honest - I absolutely love Method brand products and magic eraser sponges. 
  5. General upkeep. This one we're working on slowly, but surely. It's easier to feel like a room is clean if the trim if paint isn't chipping, old and discolored tiles are replaced, and so on. One of the bigger and more on-going projects in our house is to replace the trim - as most of it is in bad shape. We replaced one length of it and were amazed at how much cleaner the room looked with bright white trim. 

Monday, December 30, 2013

New Year.. and some resolutions

I've never really been one for resolutions. Every year I see countless friends set these lofty goals and then a few weeks later completely forget about them or just fall off the wagon.

I've been there a few times. I've resolved to lose weight, take better care of myself, eat healthier, all of those things. Sometimes it will stick, but most often the goals are too big or ambiguous, and I just forgo the whole thing. It's been a while since I've even thought about making a resolution, but I think this is the year...

I resolve to make 2014 a good year.
This seems like it totally goes against what I just said about something being too big or ambiguous, but hear me out. I'm resolving to improve my outlook. For the last year or so I've been feeling pretty grim and finally things seem to be heading in a direction where I can encourage myself to have a more positive outlook. I want to feel less like a victim and more like a warrior. Or at the very least, a capable, strong woman.

I resolve to clean the house more.
This one is pretty obvious, but because of some of the big changes we're expecting in 2014, I'm going to make more of an effort to clean the house more often. A lot of the times baseboards go untouched, nooks and crannies are caked in dust and grime, and the furniture could be better cared for. Part of the resolution will include having a little more of a scheduled cleaning regiment, but the key here will be not to beat myself up over it if it doesn't get done.

I resolve to work on allowing myself to be the person I want to be.
I've been working on that a LOT this year and I think carrying it over into 2014 is a good idea. This year I dyed my hair BRIGHT blue, got my nose pierced, and tattooed half of my arm. While not everyone agreed with those things, I did them because I wanted to - and I'm happier because instead of caving into other people's opinions, I just did what I thought would be fun. The funny thing is - I get so many more compliments now that I let myself do that than I did before.

I resolve to work toward lowering the amount of medications I need to take. 
This one my doctor's will be happy with - and something that I've been working on for a while now. I doubt I will ever be medication-free, but cutting back a little here and there is always good.

I resolve to continue to make my house a home. 
This sort of goes with #2, but it's more focused on improving than cleaning. We're in the middle of our attic renovation and I'm sincerely hoping by this time next year it will be finished - or at least very close to it. We're paying for everything in cash, so that generally takes a little longer to accomplish. But - if we can make what I have in my head a reality - it will be a heavenly oasis of comfort. I'm also hoping we can work on a lot more house projects this year now that my hubs is working a well-paying full-time job.

I resolve to be less of a hermit and get out of the house more often.
This last year I wanted nothing more than to just stay in my house and never leave. In 2014, I want to try and get out more with friends, go do and see some of the fun things going on in our area, and just overall be a little more social and less socially-awkward.

That's it. :) It was hard to put all of what I wanted to do in one resolution, so I did a few to cover the basis. Of course, I'm going to try my best to do all the other things like lose weight, eat healthier, blah blah blah, but I'm not going to put that kind of pressure on myself to resolve to do them. I want to get down the basic things that I'm resolving to do as listed above because I feel they are the most important in my life right now. While being a healthy weight is a good thing, I'm hoping by conquering some of these issues as listed above - the weight loss (i.e. exercising and eating better) will come along with it. If not, well, at least I'm working toward feeling better about myself and not letting my decision to lose weight be controlled by vanity alone.

I'll keep you posted on some of our upcoming house projects! 2014 is going to be a great year!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Kitchen chalkboard wall and pot rack

You'd think I'd get tired of kitchen projects.

I've been mulling over ideas to make our very long blank wall less long and blank and more interesting since we moved in our house almost 2 years ago. I went through various incarnations of ideas that included murals and/or lots of artwork.

I was having trouble coming up with enough ideas for artwork that I liked. Currently I have a few pieces on there.

The photos of my critters I love (of course) and the 12.x12 "All You Need is Love" piece I made a while back I also plan on keeping around. The little quote in the frame? Eh. Not so much.

Despite the amazing amount of art supplies I own, I just couldn't think of anything to make this wall 'interesting.'

Another dilemma we have is that while we have a decent-sized kitchen, the layout is horrid. There are cabinets where the fridge should be, a door that is right next to the cabinets (so if you're trying to get something out of the cabinet - say a pot or pan - and someone is coming in from the garage, there will likely be a collision. Also, on the other side of the fridge is this very narrow area to get to the basement.

Now, there are multiple ways we can fix this problem, but the vast majority of them are expensive and require contractors. I need to find a way to make my life easier... and aesthetically pleasing.

Our large blank wall also gets smeared with fingerprints, dog drool and other things.... I needed something that would look okay if it was a little dirty, or could "hide" dirt well. Chalkboard paint?

I started with being completely and entirely in love with my little wall chalkboard I made a while back. It was handy for writing down what we were planning for dinner, but it really wasn't enough room for the two-weeks-worth of meals I plan. Usually I'd do one week and then forget the second week. :(

I also needed to be able to leave notes for Garry. We work different shifts and sometimes it's just easier to write a note for him (in big BOLD letters) to do something than it is to text him.

So the idea of painting that ENTIRE wall in chalkboard paint was born. I saw a lot of kitchens with large expanses of black chalkboard wall and to me... it's a little dark. I was thinking of green chalkboard (kind of like the ones we had in school once upon a time before SmartBoards came around), but even the green color was still a little too dark and too "green" for me.

I know! I'm *trying* to embrace color! I really am! Just give me a little credit here!

I found this photo and thought it was perfect!

Found on BHG

So that's the green I went for.

I found the recipe for chalkboard paint on Martha Stewart's website. I looked through my Glidden master deck to find a color that worked with the tones in our house and *originally* picked English Garden. However, I forgot to take my paint deck with me to Home Depot and they didn't have that particular swatch there so I had to look through ALL of the other swatches to find something close. Eventually I ended up with Behr's (). It's a little darker than the original color I picked, but I think it will look great after it's *primed* with chalk.

Okay, so now we have the chalkboard portion figured out - what about the interesting?

Other than the notes, meal plans, and other chalk-related pieces I'll have room for - I'm also planning on making (more) shelves and adding a pot rack to free-up some space in my cabinets. I'm also hoping that having them on display will encourage Garry and I to take better care of our pots.

We currently have one long shelf in the kitchen for our cookbooks and other kitchen-y stuff. I am going to cut that shelf in half and make two 3-foot shelves that will be mounted right where the chalkboard currently is. On the bottom shelf, I'm going to attach a dowel (I'm going to stain it to match the shelves) with a screw eye (is that what they're called?). The pots will hang by S-hooks. I'm also hoping to get some nice glass containers and put my tea collection on display (freeing up some space in yet another cabinet).

Because we're making an effort to repaint the wall (again) I decided to replace the floor molding as well (Auron chewed it up pretty bad when he was a puppy and frankly, I want to replace all of the painted-a-million-times molding in the house with something a little nicer.

So - with all of this Garry is going to teach me how to use the miter saw so I can start replacing all of the trim and molding as I feel ready to do it. The floor molding wasn't too expensive - about $1.50 a foot - and we have a TON of quarter round molding hanging out in the garage rafters. It was a little more expensive because it was already finished - just need to caulk the seams and the finish nail heads. Considering that we have baseboard hot water heat, we don't have a *ton* of base molding to do on the first floor.

I'm hoping to get this project finished over the weekend. It's not a terribly "intense" project, but it will take some time to complete.