Archive for the 'Design' Category

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DIY curtain FAIL

So, remember when I talked about painting curtains and how easy it looked?  Well, how wrong I was.

I went to Joann’s and bought some fabric paint.  I opted for yellow since I’m thinking of changing up the color scheme in our living room (I want a grey couch, possible grey wall), so I figured I needed some color.  The fabric paint colors are pretty limited, and even more limiting are the ones that come in a spray paint.  So, I went ahead and bought the brush kind with a new roller brush.

I brought all my supplies home:

And, I started taping off the horizontal stripes I wanted to paint.  My curtains are 92 inches, so I opted for 10 inch stripes, minus the top 2 inches where the grommets are.   The tape didn’t really stick on to the fabric, so I thought rather than taping it all and then painting, I should tape, paint, tape, paint, etc.  I set everything up on my dining table with a piece of cardboard underneath in case there was any bleed through.

Things were still going well at this point.  The fabric paint and roller were a slow process, but I had time, so not a big deal.  Then, as I looked at my curtain all painted pretty, I was super happy with how everything was turning out.  I asked Sean to help me hang the first panel so I could admire all our work.  That’s where things went haywire.

So, in the blinding sun, every stroke and thin layer of paint  was now so visible.  But not just that, the yellow color that I had so carefully chosen was now a blinding orange color in the sunlight.  Definitely not what I thought matched my color scheme.  Want to see?

Yep, pretty terrible.  Sean tried to say that he liked it, that it had a sort of “patina” look to it.  I told him that it looked like we DIY’d curtains and that we did a crappy job.  The one saving grace?  At night (or when the sun starts setting), things actually look pretty good.

So for now, one panel is up so that we don’t have peeping toms, but clearly I’m going to have to get some new curtains stat.  Either that, or get to work on adding a second and third coat.  But, by that time at $4/each for a bottle of paint, it seems like new curtains are probably the better way to go.  Have you had a DIY fail?

Kitchen Redo

Wow that was a long hiatus.  There were/are two issues that kept me from you all. 1. My computer broke.  It’s still broken too.  As an alternative, I’m using my old computer from graduate school.  It is like Flintstones at my house.  This means that I don’t have access to photoshop or any of the files where I previously took pictures.  Clearly we need to work on a backup system at our house so that I don’t end up like Carrie Bradshaw with a sad mac and zero to show for all the years of taking pictures.   And the other thing?  Well, I just got busy with work, in my personal life, etc. 

Alright, but on to the reason for this post…my kitchen.  As a follow up to the living room/dining room redo post from a couple of weeks ago, I thought I’d share the kitchen next.  Now, the kitchen wasn’t all bad.  There were definitely things that we needed to change pronto, but there were other things that we could work with.  And, of course, there are still things I would like to change. 

So, here’s what we started with:

As for the must change list, here’s what I had to get done:

  • Scrape the popcorn ceiling
  • Get rid of the florescent lighting
  • Update the cabinets
  • Paint walls
  • Paint all trim and doors white
  • Update all of the hardware
  • Get a new fridge (we had to anyway, they took that one with them)

And, here’s what it looks like after all the “must haves” were completed:

As you know, we did one step further than our must haves since we added the wainscoting.  But, there are still a few things that I want to do.  For instance:

  • Update the breakfast nook lighting
  • Change the flooring
  • Change the backsplash (subway tile, subway tile!) 
  • New stove top

But, I feel pretty good about the progress we’ve made so far, and I know that we can tackle more projects along the way.  Although, I’m not sure if I’m up for updating the flooring ourselves.  The backsplash seems far more manageable.  And don’t worry, I will do a budget breakdown once I show all the rooms.  It’s just hard to do it room by room, since it was the house as a whole.  And, if you have questions about how we accomplished something in this room, just let me know!

Painting Striped Curtains

Recently, I’ve been loving bold, horizontal striped curtains. Like these:

Nesting Place

I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect horizontal striped curtains for my living room, but haven’t been able to find them.  I even came across a shower curtain from West Elm that I wanted to try to turn into a window curtain:

West Elm

But, I knew it wasn’t the right length.

I’ve found a lot of tutorials online for making your own curtains, some that include a non-sew version since I don’t own a sewing machine, and don’t know how to sew.  But, I worry that I’d order fabric and have it sit in my house forever because I’d be intimidated by the project.

As a “for now” option, I bought plain white curtains from Target.  They’ve been up for a while, and I like them ok, but they seem pretty boring.  However, I came across these painted curtain options, and I think I’ve found a solution.

Reckless Glamour

She used regular old wall paint for her curtains, and they turned out really cute.  She admits that they are a little crunchy, but expects that it will soften up over time.

And here’s another one who also used wall paint:

Faith’s Place

These look a lot less crunchy, so I’m wondering what made the difference.  Either way, I think I’ll opt for fabric paint just to make things easier, and I’ve heard that it even comes in a spray-able form.

Have you ever painted curtains?  Any tips for me?

Natural Stones

Lately I’ve been loving all things made from natural stones.  I’ve been inspired in both my home and my jewelry.  My love developed from a couple things.  First, the weekend of my mom’s wedding we stayed in a rental home that was decorated beautifully and included natural stones as artwork.  I found myself going back to look at the stones and try to figure out a way to incorporate it into our house.  Then, via Design Sponge, I came across Cori Kindred and her unique collections:

I wish I could display something like this in our house.

Then, while I was at a day long meeting at work, one of the people we were meeting with was wearing the most beautiful stone jewelry.  Since we are in a client/consultant relationship, I didn’t think it was appropriate for me to ask her where she got them, and honestly I probably would have asked anyway, but we were never alone and I didn’t think everyone else at the meeting was curious about that.  So, here are some stone jewelry options I’m lusting after.



Impeccable Pig




Shop Lucky Clover

Now to try to incorporate this without overdoing it…

House Rewind

I promise I’ll shut up about the dining room soon, but I realized that I sort of lied to you guys.  Ok, so not really lie, but I didn’t really show you the before picture of our dining room as it was before we did anything to it at all.  As in, how it looked when we moved in.  Actually, I haven’t shown any of the pictures of our house before we moved in.  I was in the midst of planning a wedding when we bought this house and all I could handle blogging about was wedding stuff, so there was so much done that wasn’t even captured, or talked about.

But, we bought this house in March 2009, closed in June (because the home owners wanted to stay through the end of their daughter’s school year), and moved in here in July after our contractor finished with the work we wanted to do before we moved in.  So, I recently emailed our realtor to ask him if he could send me the pictures of the house as it looked from the posting.  He was kind enough to do that, so those are the only pictures of the house we have before we did anything to it.  Which is really sad because you don’t get to see the lovely seashell marble sinks we were working with, or the extent of the popcorn ceiling.  I’m so mad at myself about this, but there isn’t a whole lot that I can do about it.  So, oh well.

Now that I have these pictures though, I can show you guys some of what we’ve done and give you the full story about how we got to where we are now.  To start, I’ll show you our living room as it was when we bought the house:

So. Much. Brown!  OMG.

And now:


We need a new couch, desperately.  And a new coffee table.  These are both on the list.  And I want to paint the room again even though I already painted it when we moved in.

And now for the dining room before:

And now:

It was so fun to do whatever we wanted to the house and to continue our projects over the last couple of years.  If you’re interested, I’ll show you some of the other rooms as they were before and how they look now.  And, I’ll give you an actual breakdown of what we did.

Dining Room Reveal!

When we left off with our dining room update, I had just revealed our new light and metallic ceiling.

And, if you’re pretty observant (or really just if you looked at the picture), you might have thought that I also changed the wall color.  You’d be right.   The wall color before was a tan/beige, but everyone always said that it looked yellow in pictures.  I knew that would be a lot of brown with the shimmering bronze ceiling, so it had to go.

What’s funny, or not funny if you’re Sean, is that I brought up changing the wall color while we were buying the ceiling paint.  He said no.  I took that to mean that he thought it was too much work, but if I was willing to do it, then it would be ok.   So, I decided not to buy any wall paint then, but in the back of my mind I knew that we were going to get some wall paint.  I had to take advantaged of being able to paint in a completely cleared out room.  So the next day during my lunch break, Morgana and I headed over to Home Depot and picked out some wall paint.  I opted for a sea foam green color called Breath of Spring (however, secretly I was hoping I would like one of the colors with ‘mint’ in the name.  Yes, apparently I am that lame, but sadly I didn’t think any of them would work for this space).  I also decided to buy a paint edger.

Home Depot

And paint edger, I love you.  You made my life so much easier.  Why haven’t I used you before?  So with all my supplies, I slowly starting painting the walls and immediately I knew that I’d made the right decision with this new color.  The bright, cheery color made me so much happier than the drab, beige walls.  Enough blabbing though, here’s some photos:

And, if you’ll notice, the board that previously held the mirror no longer holds the mirror.  That’s because I broke it.  I know, 7 years of bad luck.  Which is actually more like 21 years because this was not my first go round with mirror breaking.  So, with my 4th (yes, you read that correctly, 4) animal head from Z Gallerie after the breaking incidents, I put the moose head in there.  I want to add some frames and maybe mirrors to the wood too for a completely different look.

Lastly, the before and after:

Opps, forgot to get rid of the dog bed in the left corner before the picture, oh well, that’s real life.  Now I look over into this room and smile.  Have you ever made over a room?  How did you feel after it was over?

Metallic Ceilings and New Lights

Last week I was super lame and didn’t post much.  If you follow me on twitter, I tweeted about why I was a delinquent blogger. But for those of you non-tweeters (is that a term?), now you can learn the secret too.  Actually, it’s not really a secret, so don’t get too excited.  The truth is, we finally worked on our dining room and it took a lot longer than I thought it would.  So gear up for this 2-part reveal.

So, here it is before:

I liked some of the elements of the room, but I hated some of the others.  So, first we started with the ceiling.  This light to be exact:

Not too cute.  Sean and I spent many weekends at Home Depot, thrift stores, IKEA, and other places trying to find the perfect light.   Each time I walked away feeling disappointed that I couldn’t find what I wanted.  I kept saying that I wanted a pendant light, but I wanted to be able to hang 3 different fixtures from our ceiling, and we’re not electricians, so I knew that wouldn’t work.  Finally, we decided to hit up Lowes, and I found something perfect.  It was a 3 pendant light fixture all in one.  And for $54, it was a steal.

So, with our pretty light fixture in hand, we headed home to take down the boob light.  To our horror, sitting underneath that light was a lot of popcorn ceiling.  When we bought our house, the entire ceiling was popcorn.  So before we moved in, we hired a contractor to scrape and retexture the ceiling with something a little more modern.  Apparently, taking down light fixtures to get rid of what was hiding underneath was not part of the popcorn removal, though.

We got a bottle of water to spray the texture, a putty knife and some ceiling texture to recreate what was going on with the rest of the ceiling.  Sean sprayed and then scrapped:

And then he textured.  No pictures of this, but basically he sprayed the stuff on after practicing in our garage.

So while he’s doing all of this, guess what I’m doing?  Painting the ceiling!!  I finally found a paint that I was in love with.  It is called Shimmering Bronze and it is part of Valspar’s Brilliant Metals.  I’m not going to lie either, this paint is a pain to use and you have to be really careful or you’ll see major streaks in your paint job.  It requires a special roller brush, technique and patience.  All of these are hard for me, yes even the special roller brush, why can’t I use what I already have?  But don’t, just buy the special roller brush.  And, if you decide to use this, please follow the painting process too.  I read horror stories on the internet of people that hate this paint because they didn’t follow the process.  You’ve been warned, and if you’re interested in hearing more about this paint, let me know.   I honestly was worried that painting the ceiling would leave my neck sore, but it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be.  If you’re using a regular type of paint, it should be a breeze.

So, finally the painted ceiling was finished and dried and we installed the new light fixture!!  And here’s the part where breaking this into 2 posts isn’t really feasible because the room isn’t all that big, and I can’t really hide the other updates.  So, just look at the ceiling in the next picture and ignore everything else, okay?

Yay, a metallic ceiling and a new light!!  The problem with the light?  I still need glass shades for my pendant lights, but I’m having trouble finding anything I like.  Any recommendations on where to look?

I am so happy with the updates, and can’t wait to tell you about the rest of the room!

Garage Sale Finds

A couple weeks ago, Morgana from Fellow Creatives and I went to several garage and estate sales.  We both enjoy updating furniture and other houseware finds to make them pretty again.  And, we got lucky because her neighborhood was having about 30 garage sales that weekend.  So, we set out with a vague idea of what we wanted and hoped that we’d find something good.  The first few stops were duds and we were disappointed, but as we kept going we found some really great things.

For example this chair:

I know, the seat is ripped, but we’re going to recover it anyway, so to us it just means it’s easier to rip off.  And, for $10 we thought that was a great deal for a real wood chair with a great shape.  It sits low to the ground and is on wheels.  Stay tuned to see how we recover it.

And, these window panes and chalk/corkboard (peek behind the chair):

We’ve already redone the chalk/corkboard and it looks so great!  Now, we need to work on the chair and window panes.  So, if you’re wondering, we spent a grand total of $16.  Not bad at all.

Do you have good luck with garage sales?  What are your favorite things to find?



Painted Ceilings

OK…so, bear with me (yes, I had to look up if it was bare/bear.  Bear just seems wrong, but it’s not) here, I know I’ve talked about our ceiling already.  After throwing a couple ideas around in my head, I decided on tiling our dining room ceiling with tin tiles.  But then as I started reading more about it, I realized I could get the same effect from wallpaper.

Home Depot

You can paint the textured wallpaper any color you want.  And, for $22/roll this was looking like a high impact project with a very teeny budget.  We did the measurements and realized that we’d need about 3 rolls, so $66.  Not bad at all!

But then I started reading about attaching pre-pasted wallpaper and things started to sound really complicated.  It’s one thing to do this on a wall, but when you’re fighting gravity on a ceiling, and trying to do things on a time crunch so that the glue doesn’t dry before you get the paper on the ceiling, it seemed like a giant pain in the ass.  I envisioned Sean and me covered in pre-pasted wallpaper with strained necks.  So even though Sean told me I could go ahead and buy the wallpaper, I didn’t do it.

And now I’m staring at the ceiling and so sad about what could have been.  But then, I started to see inspiration pictures of painted ceilings.  So much easier!  And still a big impact!

Maybe something metallic?

Censational Girl


Censational Girl

Apartment Therapy

A pattern?

Design Crisis

Two Ellie


Apartment Therapy

So what do you think?  Should I paint our dining room ceiling?  Just to give you a reminder of what our dining room looks like:

So, if you think I should, any color/pattern suggestions?

Updating Lighting

Finally!  We finished a lighting project.  And, I feel guilty even calling this a project because it’s not at all.  It’s so simple, but it did involve standing on a chair while removing one set of lighting and putting in another, so I figure I can blog about it, right?

As I mentioned before, we procrastinated on changing out any lighting fixtures.  It’s not that they didn’t bother me with all their ugliness, it’s just that there were so many other things that bothered me more.  And, honestly, messing with anything electrical scares me.  Actually, it still does, which is why I feel guilty calling this a project.  I didn’t mess with the electrical stuff at all.  BUT, I do have a project coming up where I will mess with electricity, so if you’re scared of it like I am, hopefully the next project will give you some confidence.

Anyway, we started with this typical light fixture:

Not too cute and pretty standard (and no, we don’t normally have a chair there).

So, while shopping at Goodwill, I came across a drum-type lampshade for $1.50.  I bought it, and put it on one of my re-purposed lamps.  But, I thought it might look cute as a light fixture so I borrowed it to put it here instead.

And literally all I did was take off the glass light cover and screw my lampshade in instead.

I think I want to recover it in a more fun fabric, but for now I’m still much happier than I was before staring at the other light.  So, one down at least 2 more to go.