Tuesday, March 24, 2015

My photo studio

Hi, everyone!  Thank you for the sweet comments on Ashford's room, we are very happy with it and Ash seems to love it, too.  I got a question about the shelf brackets - they are these ones from Home Depot.
Today I'm sharing my photo studio space with you all.  The gory 'before' details are in this post, but the full write up and all the good after photos are on my photography blog here.  If you wouldn't mind clicking over, your comments are much appreciated!  Here is the room before -
This bonus room is on the lower level of the house, the door leads out to the backyard.  This was part of an addition and it was used as a hobby/workshop area.  A lot needed to happen in here to make it useable for a studio!  I had to remedy the ugly tan paint, change out all the almond outlets and switches to white, and also do something about the gross screen door. 
Seriously, this thing was rotting apart!
The genius people we bought the house from had just sprayed the old burgundy paint all over it, too.  I suppose they probably thought they were replacing it, then never got around to it. 
I also LOVE the beautiful detail painting they did on the door.  I really wish I had gotten an up close photo, it was dismal.
Wait a second...here you go.  Beautiful!
Anyway, we replaced the screen door with the same full view door we put on the front of the house.  The main door also got primed...but I haven't decided what shade to paint the door.  It has to be light and not create color casts when open into the studio...but I don't think white looks right.  I'm sort of in a bind because when that little window is painted the house trim color on the outside, (whoops!  I guess I missed a window) it will seriously clash with the storm door frame.  So, I can't paint the door to match the storm door because then the window will look really bad.  I realize this is a dumb problem, but I really stew about paint colors!  I might just stick with a cream or something. 
So much better!  I also want to replace the big ass motion light with a pretty light.  And a more attractive hose setup.  And we have some landscaping work to do on the stone retaining wall there....always something!  So back to the room...here it is in process.
It was like a breath of fresh air painting over that tan.  And it literally was, because I added a 'clean linen' glade scent packet to the gallon of paint.  I am pretty happy with the way it worked, it was VERY strong for a few weeks then just faded away.  I might use it again, if I had a musty or stinky room to paint.  More almond outlets and switches for the pile....
Here is the room set up for my Christmas mini sessions after most of the work was done last November, but before I mounted my 9 foot roll of seamless paper...
I used this old coat rack from a thrift store to hold props.  I painted the back white, then stained the pegs espresso before spraying with poly. 
I was pretty happy with this setup, and got some great photos, but the bed was just too big to move around in there.   I took it out and dismantled it until Ashford was ready for his big boy bed.  Now, it's so much bigger and nicer in here!
I have a simple coffee table covered with a faux fur rug for sit down poses, and I absolutely love my seamless paper backdrop!  On my wish list is new flooring in here, some sort of ceiling with new lighting, and a pretty arm chair to use as a prop.  Check out more after photos and a few adorable test shots of Ashford on my photography blog here.  Thanks for looking!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Ashford's room - final edition

So, after all the floor refinishing, wallpaper removal, skim coating, priming and painting, we finally have a mostly finished room.  I say mostly, because we still have to put baseboards in here.  If I waited until that was done to show you the room, we'd probably be in the process of selling this house, so....I put one piece in there so you can get the idea!  Before:
After:
The room is much smaller with the twin bed, but we managed to make everything fit ok.  We have the option to take the glider out and slide the dresser down, but for now our little guy still likes to sit and rock once in awhile.  We did eliminate the little wood shelf in the corner, it was wobbly and that is just not good!  I replaced it with these shelves.
These were a cheap DIY project.  I bought three 2 foot pieces of pine building material (1x9s) from Menards for $1.55 each.  They were not really meant to be stained because they had a ton of stamps, markings, neon writing, super rough edges, etc...but I did it anyway. 
I sanded the stamps and markings off the best I could, stained, poly'd, and used $2 'over under' brackets to attach them to the wall.  The brackets were sort of hard to install, but we love them!
And then I got the opportunity to do a little reading area under the shelves with some throw pillows I got on clearance at Target.  Oh, and here you can see my 'example baseboard.'  One day!   
The doggie butt hooks and blue clamp light are from Ikea.  Ashford needs a light on at night, so this one works well.  I'm trying to find a paintable cord cover I know we have somewhere...
While almost everything in this room is the same stuff from the old house, I did need to buy some things.  Mainly, bedding.  We had the antique bed, and just one set of twin sheets I used to stage the old house.  One of the most exciting purchases for me was the yellow quilt and sham from Target that almost exactly matches his dresser.  I love it!
One of the most exciting purchases for Ashford is the ABC poster from Ikea.  He LOVES this thing, before I got it hung he would carry it down the stairs to the living room so he could show us how he can say his ABCs and point at the letters.  In fact, he already dropped it and broke it before it got hung...but I'm just going to ignore that little bit of broken plexi in the corner!  His other artwork looks good in here - even though he has a lot less wall space.
His closet and main entry doors are still sort of an eyesore, but I'm still working on my plan for those.   
The inside of the closet was pretty run of the mill, so I painted it a fun accent color (Behr Voyage) that perfectly matches the blue in his drapes, painted all the existing shelving fresh white, and picked up a simple STUVA storage system from Ikea.  It works well to hold toys at his level, rather than having them on the floor.  As he gets older, we can add doors or drawers to customize it. 
We also keep the ottoman for the glider in here, so it's not cluttering up the main room.  And the little stool is something he uses to get into (and out of) bed.
It's pretty cute to see him using the stool because the bed is quite high!
And in case you think I'm nuts to let my toddler sleep in this tall metal bed, here is what is looks like in real life!
We always keep the foot board covered with the quilt, and he usually has a pillow there as well.  The guard rail is a great investment because this dude is like a rotisserie chicken at night, he has fallen off many a bed and I often catch him totally squished up against the rail at night.  I also bought a few under bed baskets from Home Goods for easy clean up of clutter around the floor.
So, that is about it!  I believe I spent $120 on all the items from Ikea, $80 for the bedding and pillows, $25 for the bed rail, $35 for the baskets, and $18 for the three shelves.  Add that to the couple gallons of paint, and it's more than I wanted to spend, but I think it's worth it to have an organized and nice looking room.    
 How have you designed around a tiny room?  I'd love to hear your clever ideas!

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The hallway

While I work on finishing Ashford's room, I wanted to share the little transformation in our typical '70s ranch' hallway.  Here is how it looked when we first moved in.  Dark, boring, empty....but accessorized with a cute kid!  To be fair, this is an awful photo, so it's not really a fair representation.
We do get some decent light in this hallway during the day, as you can see in this photo from the floor refinishing project.
This beauty was in there, with broken bulbs stuck in the sockets.  I had already thrown away the glass cover, but I'm sure you are all familiar with this style of light!  I liked the brass, but the style was not ok...so I replaced it with a $10 special from Menards until I figured out what I really wanted. 
Here is the boring, dim replacement, complete with medallion to cover the peeling popcorn texture. 
And months later, I finally found the light I wanted...brass to match the door knobs and hinges, flush mount, not a boob light, stylish, unique, wide enough to cover the peeling popcorn, and bright as the surface of the sun with 4 bulbs!  Find it here, but be sure to call them to get the best price!  I got it for $120 so I am pleased.  It's not great quality, but it's fine and too far away to notice any flaws.  (It isn't quite flush on the edges due to the weight of the fixture)
I actually had to reduce the wattage because it was too bright with four 60 watts.  I also found cute round bulbs to increase the style of the fixture.
With the new light, I was inspired to finally get a runner for this hall.  I am using our zig zag runners in the lower level because they didn't go well with the wall color up here.  I went to my old stand by Overstock, and found this beauty!  
I wanted a tufted rug rather than a flat weave, and it needed to look good with the orange rugs in the living room, and the gray on the walls.  It was a happy bonus that there is red to go with our little cabinet in the hallway.  Here is everything all put together...
It looks so fresh and clean now!  I also love that the yellow in the runner echoes the yellow moorish tile rug in the guest room.  
My fancy white mirror found it's home at the end of the hall, and the little vegetable cabinet got a mini makeover with some gold spray paint for the knobs.  I may paint the entire thing one day, but for now it works.  I have to repair the doors and mesh, after that happens I have some baskets that fit perfectly and will hold some miscellaneous items. 
I have plans to add a gallery wall to the large area between the bedrooms, but I'm not sure what that will look like yet.  
For now, I'm really pleased with how nice this dark hallway turned out!  I would love to add some can lights one day, but that is on the 'would be nice, but probably will never happen' project list. 
For this space, I spent around $25 in trim, $120 for the light, $70 for the rug (after Overstock rewards) and $25 for the gallon of SW Popular Gray that we used throughout the main level.  Not bad since most tufted wool runners cost at least that amount!  Still to do in the hallway - clean and shine up all the doors and casings.  I may have to restain, some of them are in pretty bad condition.  I'm not looking forward to that project! 

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Ashford's room AKA tiny wallpaper room

Here is Ashford's teeny tiny room right after we moved in and organized.  The room is just 9x11. 
Please allow me a mini pity party as I mourn the room he used to have.
Ok, back to reality.  I hated the tan color on the walls, and of course this was before we refinished the floors. 
The main thing that was wrong in this room, though, was the dreaded wallpaper.  Complete with border.  The seams showed through the paint and just annoyed the hell out of me daily.
You all know I am intimately familiar with removing wallpaper, and there was just no way I was going to paint over this mess again!  We started the horrible task of getting it all off last month. 
We started with a steamer, but I quickly realized I was peeling off the damn popcorn on the ceiling, so we stopped using it.  We are just in NO position to scrape the popcorn right now, so it has to stay.  Unfortunately, we ran into a different problem. 
The original coat of paint was coming off with the wallpaper!  We ended up down to the bare drywall in several spots, the worst one being near the door. 
Seriously, it was so classic that this would happen to us! 
Despite the issue with the paint coming off with the paper, what ended up working best for us was a spray bottle with hot water and fabric softener.  We sprayed the paper, peeled off the top layer, then sprayed the remaining paper backing and scraped that.  It took us all day to get this much done. 
Some of it came off in sheets, but most of it didn't.  I guess that is one advantage to a teeny room, less walls! 
Ashford was still sleeping in here throughout the weeks we were working on this, so you can imagine how fun it was to move everything back and forth every day.  Nothing but the best for my kid.
After all the paper was removed, Shaun spent quality time washing all the walls.  Thankfully, one wash seemed to do the trick.  I came in after that to sand down any remaining adhesive that wouldn't scrape off.  To prepare for the skim coat to cover the bad spots, I used a product designed to stop further peeling on surfaces.
Eh, for a 'high build' primer it was surprisingly thin and unimpressive.  I should've just saved my money and used the Zinsser 1.2.3 instead.  When the spots were all primed, I also went over the old seams.  There was some discoloration, so this helped a lot. 
Next came some lightweight joint compound on all the spots the paint was removed from the drywall.  This took me forever and I had to bust out my drywall pan and knife.  Do you like this anonymous photo of me skimming?  I can't really explain my socks, my pose or this photo.  Let's move on. 
After an entire day of horrifying sanding in which everything in our house somehow got covered in white dust, I was finally able to prime the walls in their entirety!
Oh, it was so wonderful to have normal walls back!  And to have a Coors light!  At this point Ashford was sleeping in our room on a mattress because it just stunk too bad in this room.  So, I took my time and decided to paint the walls their final color later the same day after priming. 
This color is a greige, SW Anew Gray mixed in Behr.  However, it was looking extremely tan going on the walls and I freaked out a little.   Luckily, it ended up like this.
Isn't that crazy?  It doesn't even look like the same color!  Now we just need to find a day to put the painted baseboards in here, and put his room back together permanently with a twin bed instead of a crib.  Ahhhhhh! 
Fun fact:  I was so on point with the skim coat that I spackled all the screw and nail holes that we still wanted to use for the smoke detector, shelves, etc.  Awesome!