Saturday, March 4, 2017

Making the best of an awkward entry

You guys, I really feel I've polished this turd pretty nicely.  The entry of a raised ranch is just so lame.  It's too small, you have to choose whether to go up or down, and there's always crap laying everywhere.  Here is our entry (pretty much) when we moved in, complete with 70s paneling, freshly removed carpet on the stairs, very ugly-fancy closet doors, country oak railing, underwhelming peachy ceramic tile floor. 
And here is the view today!
In this photo, you can see the hideous fan I couldn't wait to remove.  Unfortunately, after the granny curtains were removed from the living room window, and we actually moved into the house, I realized how much that fan must've been used.  It gets so hot since our living room faces southwest.  Another reason to live in a house for awhile before making decisions!
And here is the best before I have from the upstairs.  We had already taken the paneling and all the trim off, painted over the peach walls, and the hardwoods and treads had been refinished. 
Here it is today.
Here is another before.  Our new white trim and light had just been installed. 
Here is this view today - the 'money shot!'  What I love about this before and after, is that only the paint and accessories are different.  All the main elements were already there in the before.  You don't have to spend a lot of money to make a space look much better! 
I can't tell you how much more I smile when I walk past the front door now.  Here is a closer look at the rag rug I got on Overstock.  It feels so good to cover up that floor tile!  I chose this rug for many reasons.  I knew a lighter rug would get filthy, I also wanted a reversible one, and it needed to be low enough to fit under the door.  The price ($35) was the deciding factor.  There are many colors on the website, but our new blue sectional in the living room made me go for this color palette. 
Based on the colors in the rug, I decided to paint the front door and closet doors with another shade of Fusion Mineral paint called Midnight Blue.  I picked up a sample jar to make sure, and loved it.
I think this is such a fun way to handle the dated doors. 
I really wanted to replace the bifold doors with plain white ones.  Unsurprisingly, the opening for the closet is 47 inches, instead of the standard 48.  Rather than special order smaller doors, I decided to just reuse the ones we had while I figure out what I want to do.  I couldn't think of a way to update the dated glass inserts, but thought with the right treatment, they could look ok.  After the dark paint and incredible Anthropologie knobs, they look almost cute and antique. 
The opposite of the closet had a sliver of space for a small stool and table.  I found them at Target, and dressed them up with some accessories to make it look more homey.  I knew I was on the right track when Shaun came home from work after my styling and said 'It looks like a hotel in here!'  I sit right on that stool while waiting for Ashford to get off the school bus every day. 
The planter is an old one from Ikea, the indigo candle is from Target, as well as the gold tray.  The marble clock is from World Market, but I may move that to the guest room nightstand. 
I found the pillow at Home Goods, and the faux fur is one of my newborn session props!
The black coat rack from Pottern Barn has been a lifesaver.  It's usually stuffed full, and is sturdy enough for bags and backpacks.  I love getting that stuff off the floor.  
All of this is wonderful, but my very favorite part of the new look is my gallery wall.  I have never done one, I thought I lacked the creativity to put the different frames together, and also just didn't know where to start.  Then, sent me a mailer with the most adorable print advertised. 
Fowl with Pearls (mounted on wood) became mine!  Look at her, so disapproving and regal. 
I had originally thought a mix of black and white frames would be ideal, but then I went to Target and saw the gold frames.  They were inexpensive, but didn't look it.  I decided a mix of gold, black and wood frames would be beautiful and tie in everything I had going on here.  Since the existing front door and sidelites have a ton of gold detail running through them, and the door handle is polished brass, I chose to embrace it.  If you're looking for gold frames, these look so much better in person than online!  Not sure why they call them 'mat bronze,' though. 
I started the hanging process with paper templates of the artwork, the gold frames, and some simple black frames I got at Michaels. 
I then filled in the remaining spaces with the framed watercolor dots from Target, and other wood frames.  I also splurged on another smaller wood-mount art print from, the dashing Gavroche.
I just love it all together!  I wish I could continue the gallery all the way to the ceiling and around to the right, but it's so hard to hang things that high.  I already had to resort to unsafe measures just to get that watercolor print hung.  (Think a board laying in between a step and a ladder.  Yikes!)
It feels so much better to have something to look at as you trudge up the stairs carrying 8 bags of groceries.
So, this space isn't really done, I have another coat to do on the railing, and some more work on the stairs going down.  For now, I'm calling it done and taking a break!  Here are some before and after comparisons to see how far it's come in here. 

Thanks for reading, I hope to clean up the living room enough to show you that soon!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Paint fixes everything

I consider myself a paint snob.  And a great painter, if I'm being honest.  I appreciate great qualities that some paints/primers have, like the way BIN primer covers everything, dries in a minute, and sands to silky smooth perfection.  Or, the way that Benjamin Moore ceiling paint requires ONE coat, shows absolutely no lap marks, and has a beautiful warm white shade.

I have a new obsession, though.  I found an intriguing blog post by a woman that used something called Fusion Mineral paint on her oak railing.  Check her post out here!  I immediately loved the matte finish of the paint, and sought to find a local retailer, it's a bit hard to find.  I did find one about 20 minutes away in Barrington, adorable reclaimed furniture/gifts store called Spruce.  First, let me back up.  Our stairs.  Holy crap, they were bad. 
We had the treads refinished after we removed the old carpeting in September of 2015, but the risers had remained in this sad state since then. 
I spent a good long while pulling out staples and tufts of carpet, spackling over dents and missing chunks of wood, and sanding.  After I got a coat of primer and paint (I just used Behr Satin Ultra Pure white, same as our trim) on the risers and skirt board, things were looking better...but the country oak railing was really bothering me.  I knew we weren't going to replace the railing right now, it was too much money and too big of a project.  I thought the best thing to do would be to paint the entire thing solid black, instead of the too-traditional black handrail with white spindles.  I searched google for 'black painted railing,' found the blog post, and my experiment with Fusion Mineral paint began!
I wanted a true black, so Coal Black was the perfect color.  I even splurged on a $25 fusion brush, which is very nice to use on rounded surfaces, and eliminates brush strokes. 
Ooooo, this stuff goes on like a dream!  All I did to prep was lightly sand everything, and wipe off the dust.  The paint is thin, self-levels like crazy, and dries quickly to a very modern matte finish.  This is the newel post literally minutes after application of ONE coat!
I was so excited, I just kept going and got the entire stretch of railing here done in about 45 minutes.  Not bad, considering all the nooks and crannies. 
Here are some greats shots showing how matte the finish is. 

This paint is an acrylic resin, and is actually I believe it will hold up perfectly under normal usage.  And because it's matte, touching it up will be easy if needed.  They do sell a top coat if you want a little more sheen, but I'm just going to leave it as is.  It's really hard to see, but on many of the spindles, there were these crazy curly hairs stuck in the grain.   
It drove me nuts, because pulling the hairs out, sanding, and everything else I did barely worked to get them off.  Such a dumb problem!
 But, nothing was more satisfying that covering the orange wood with smooth black goodness.
I hate this huge board on the bottom, it's so clumsy and silly.  If we replaced the railing, I would definitely do something about this eyesore.  For now, oh well.  It's huge and black instead of orange.  
Before you say anything, YES the bottom gets dusty as hell and that sucks.  But, white trim also looks filthy with dust all the time, so you're sort of stuck either way.  Here are bad phone pics of the way everything looks now!
I did waffle back and forth about the white risers with an all black railing, but in the end, I like the contrast.  I also like that the white risers go seamlessly into the white trim throughout the house. 
 I just love it, and can't believe the change!
I've been working more on the ugly doors, and figuring out what to put on the walls going up the stairs.  Just so you know, I didn't receive anything for free.  I just love this paint!  Read all about it, and find fun projects on their blog here

Monday, January 9, 2017

Guest room is done

This tiny room.  Good gracious, it has been such a pain in the ass.  When we moved in, it looked like this. 
Super shiny paneling, dark trim, granny valance, metal blinds, old timey fan with light...that wasn't hooked up to the wall switch.  Lots of goodies in here.  The paneling and valance lasted about 3 minutes after we got the keys. 
And then after the paneling and all the trim were totally removed, the floors were refinished. 
It took us a long time to get to this room after this.  This lower pic was taken on 10.3.15, and for the next year it looked just like this...with the bed just piled full of crap and no progress whatsoever.  This is what a house with no storage space looks like!  (When the DIYer in the house is a borderline hoarder, hugely pregnant, and gives birth to a stage 5 clinger.)
Then, we finally had some help with the kids in September of this year, and Shaun pretty much single-handedly put up the plywood for the feature wall we decided to do over the ruined drywall.  I wanted to do a wainscoting wall rather than just re-drywall.  We used 1/8 inch luan plywood, 1x3 pine boards for the outside frame and the inner cross pieces, and the standard 1x4 MDF boards for the base trim.  
Unfortunately, we cut the plywood wrong and ended up with a seam where it wouldn't be covered by a vertical board.  I decided to just let it go and do my best with spackle and paint.  I can't say I'm thrilled with the decision, but it would've been way too much trouble to rip this all out and redo it. 
I was trying to figure out the easiest way to get the horizontal pieces evenly spaced, and cutting strips of cardboard to visualize seemed like the easiest way. 
We were able to measure, move the cardboard, and make sure that it looked good to the eye, in addition to being spaced evenly with the tape measure. 
Shaun ended up cutting each horizontal piece individually, because they were all slightly different in length due to the walls not being perfectly level.  It went pretty fast once we got down a rhythm, though!
 Before we knew it, the whole wall was trimmed and ready for spackle.
This part was time-consuming, but I use simple Drydex spackle, rather than wood filler or caulk.  It dries and sands faster, and is much easier to work with. 
I know many people add additional trim inside the boxes to make it look more substantial, but for now, the simple look wins.  And then after many hours of sanding....primer!
I'd like to share my thought process for designing a room.  Since we've moved so many times, and have always seemed to downsize, I have a lot of stuff - and first look at the large items I have that must be used in the room.  In this case, I had our teal 6x9 Crate and Barrel rug that was the only one to fit in this room.  The room is a little short of 10x10, so the 8x10 rugs we had wouldn't fit by the smallest margin.  It was frustrating, because I had beautiful fabric I wanted to make curtains out of for this room, but it went with the yellow tile print rug that ended up in Zach's room. 
So, this rug had to be used in here.  I also had bedding that wouldn't work in our bedroom, that I wanted to use in the guest room.  Mainly, the coral duvet set I bought to stage our master for sale in Minnesota.  Also, the art work pictured below would be added to the guest room.  (We gave away the 8x10 rug pictured here to a friend)
I also wanted to be able to use the orange tile print duvet we've used in our master in Wisconsin.
With the rug, bedding, and art on deck, I knew I had to tie it together with the curtains.  I'm a huge fan of using curtains to marry other elements of the room that may not otherwise work out.  I happened to be at World Market when I saw these beauties. 
This curtain had all the colors I needed, as well as being slightly retro in style and impossibly girly.  Perfect!  I grabbed the last two available at the time (they are back in stock now!) and then went about finding the perfect paint color.  Rather than sticking to grays like I usually do, I wanted to do something different.  I had some leftover samples of coral-ish colors, but none of them were quite right, they were all too pink.  Then I came upon SW Posy in my fandeck, and it was so nice!  It looked pink going over the peanut butter color, but more peachy/yellow undertones when dry. 
I was so happy to cover up that tan color.
I was also thrilled to find these cool pendant lights at Target, which became my inspiration for the rest of the finishes in the room. 

The black cords inspired me to incorporate black into the curtain rod.  I fell in love with the acrylic rod at Ballard Designs, with black hardware.  I thought about brass hardware, but black seemed to fit in best with the black rods and lights throughout our home. 
Then, I scouted around for a ceiling light to utilize the new wiring our electrician put in.  I settled on the Young House Love drum pendant from Shades of Light in gold.  But, it came with a brushed silver canopy that had to be changed.  A quick spray with black and I liked it much more.
Then, I needed a headboard.  Again, Target was my savoir and had this gorgeous headboard on sale for $220!  If you are looking for one, this is an amazing deal for the price and quality!  Definitely check the sales, because it can go all over the place in price.  I think it's well worth it at the list price of $300, though. 
Now, in the meantime of all this shopping goodness, I was painting two coats of white on the feature wall, and on all the new trim in the room.  It took forever.  In fact, I found an old iced coffee I'd left in there in September when I went to continue work on the space in December.  Mmmmm, think it's still good?  Did you know black iced coffee could mold?  Yikes.
So...the day before my baby's 1st birthday party, I decided rather than cleaning my house, to work on this damn room.  I swore to myself that it would be done before the party.  And, it was!
You may notice the headboard in here is from our bedroom, rather than the new one.  I decided the cream headboard looked weird against the very white wall, so I swapped them.  I think the cream headboard looks so much better in our bedroom!  And, it's much nicer overall, and we deserve the best, right?
But back to the room at hand...I'm so in love with the way this all turned out!   
The pendant lights look incredible, and give such welcoming light.  I don't mind the black cords hanging down at all. 
This room gets beautiful afternoon sun, and I look forward to hanging out in here with the kids, reading books and playing. 
The curtain rod was kind of hard to install, since it's all one piece and not adjustable....but it looks so good up!  And since there are no adjustable areas, the rings glide so smoothly. 
The vintage nightstand I already had works perfectly in here.
I wanted another nightstand for the other side, and couldn't find a vintage one I liked enough in the past year of looking.   I went ahead and bought this simple walnut one from World Market.  It's nothing special as far as looks, but it's solid wood, was on sale for $150, and the dimensions match the other one. 
I got these coasters years ago as a gift, and I still love them! 
These hex knobs are from CB2.  Much better than the plastic round ones they replaced. 
 The art looks so good in this room! 
And the smaller prints were a later addition from our master.  They fit much better in here.  That shelf is an old piece I was given by a friend back in Wisconsin.  It's served us well for years!
When I walk past the open door, it makes me so happy.   Wrinkled duvet and all. 
 And at night, the ceiling light adds that beautiful pattern on the walls.  Love it!
 We've already had a lot of nice moments in here.   (This is my brother, uncle Brian)
 This stinker is always taking that piece off the nightstand and throwing it on the floor somewhere.
I'm so happy this room is done, and I'm also pleased to have done something so different from everything else I've designed.  Here's a final before and after.  Let me know what you think!