Friday, January 29, 2010

Picture molding is up

I promised you I'd post the art room walls this week, so without further ado let's take a spin around and see how it's looking!
Check out the Heidi Montag-sized makeover this room got!  (Only it looks better now) 
It's kind of exhausting looking at all these pictures in a row.
The paint color is Hale Navy by Benjamin Moore, and the first pic of the post is the truest representation of this fab color.  We used 17 (7') pieces of molding for this room.  I will put together a how-to on the molding application next week!  And maybe I will be able to make this a functioning space with actual furniture by next week, too...we'll see.  I still have to paint the window, second coat the doors, and we need a storm door so we can remove the lovely plastic on the outside of the door (you can see the blue painters tape hanging out there).  Never done, I tell ya! 

Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reader Reno - A Patio from Colorado

After reading my DIY Patio post last December, Melissa from Englewood, CO sent me an email about her very own grueling patio project.  She said the project took her and her fiance an entire summer to complete, and they are "not above saying how proud we are of it!"  Sounds like my kind of girl! 

Melissa's house is tiny (an unbelieveable 720 sq feet!) but has a big yard, so they wanted to maximize the living space their house had to offer by creating a huge patio.  Upon my request, Melissa was kind enough to offer her photos to inspire those of you who are thinking about doing this project yourselves.  The explanations of the photos are above each one, and if you have any questions feel free to email Melissa at mizzo1 at hotmail dot com.  BTW Melissa, your curvy patio pretty much kicks our patio's butt!

This is the old, sad patio before starting the project.  Doesn't make you want to sit down to margaritas, does it?  There was also an old concrete sidewalk they wanted to get rid of.  The doggie is standing on the little bit you can see in this pic.

The old patio and sidewalk were busted up, removed and dropped off at the concrete recycling center - 6 trips (!) later it was all gone.

Sod was removed before excavation using a power sod-cutter.  The sod they cut out was used to fill the void left by the old sidewalk.  Very GREEN of them, huh?  HA!  I kill me. 

Excavation is complete.  A step was built up with cinder blocks around the door.  They used an old surveyor's transit for depth markers in preparation for the base. Isn't that cool?

Three inches of compacted base was used, about half the base material that we used. I wonder if the company we purchased our materials from was just trying to milk us for more cash?  There is a range of recommended depths, and we chose the highest one because we are paranoid.  And we like to dig 9 inch deep trenches in our yard.  NOT.

Edging is down, step base is complete, seating walls are built and rebarred.  Brick facade is begun on walls to cover the cinderblocks.  Why didn't we think of using cinderblocks?

They put sand down using 1" pvc pipes as screed rails.  The full bricks were all laid first, then bricks were marked for cuts before renting the wet saw.  Doing this saves some major rental dollars!

After all full bricks were laid, they rented the wet saw and started cutting their previously marked bricks. They had marked each brick individually for it's spot and numbered the full brick and it's adjacent cut brick to match.  This couple is seriously on top of things!  

After all bricks were in place, they compacted them to settle them into the sand below. (We didn't compact the bricks on our patio, just the base) Then, they swept sand over the top and compacted that down into the cracks.  (Uh, we didn't do this part either, that is what having a mad crazy party is for, get to dancin people!)

And here is a full shot of the completed patio, in winter but still looking mighty pretty!  I think this is insane for a DIY project.  INSANE.

And a shot of the patio from the back door. Where the old patio used to be is now a planting bed that wraps around the back of the seating walls.  Seriously, I would go crazy with all that planting area!  The circle you see there is actually a hole that gives access to a clean-out (a very old sewer system in neighborhood).

So, what do you think?  Do you want Melissa to come help you with your patio?  I know I could've used her mad skills when we were doing ours!  I hope this gives you some ideas for trying this project yourself.  Thanks again for sharing, Melissa!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Toss Cushion Test

A couple weeks ago I was the lucky winner of an All Modern giveaway, courtesy of Kristi from Life at the Chateau Whitman.  Thanks to All Modern for the opportunity and Kristi for randomly picking me!  I could have anything I wanted up to $45, so I chose the Zinnia pillow in brown, and check out this cutie:

This pillow is very well made, stylish, and the insert it came with is actual down is cushy, smushy goodness.  Plus, I can use it in my bedroom, guest room, dining room (well, if I wanted a big throw pillow on a dining chair) or living room.  I guess that means I passed Maria Killam's Toss Cushion Test on her fabulous blog that I scour daily, Colour Me Happy.  I also could use the other pillows on my couch in the connected dining room with no problem.  Do you use similar color palettes throughout your connected rooms?  Would you pass the 'Toss Cushion 'test in your home?      

Monday, January 25, 2010

100th post!

Well, I know that some bloggers will do a '100 Things About Me' post, however I know most people probably don't want to read a list of 100 things, so I'm going to drop a zero and make this a '10 Things About Me' post.  I also cannot help but share a bunch of old pictures.  On second thought, let's just make this a '10 Photos of Me' post, shall we?  My house can't have all the fun!

1.  For years I dyed my hair red, and it was amazing.  The monthly dye jobs were just too much for me to maintain, even though my awesome mom did it for me.  Thanks, mom!  

(My friend Kevin Groen is the photographer, check out his site HERE)
2.  I also tried out a brown before the red, which was more fun than blondes may think.  

3.  I have an OCD-like bedtime ritual that includes putting on hand lotion, and then trying to put on my lip balm.  It has to be in that order, and it's always impossible to open that stupid lip balm after lotioning, but I just can't change the order.  Weird, huh?
4.  I owned a house before Russet St, and I look back and wonder why I didn't paint the hell out of those kitchen cabinets.  And the valance?  Oy.
5.  I have a Bachelor of Arts degree in Vocal Performance, but I haven't sung in years.

6.  I was a promotional 'shot girl' for 5 years.  Then I became too old to tolerate being nice to strangers in bars for money.  I also, uh, 'grew out of' my little outfits.  Dang metabolism.

7. I cannot eat one bowl of cereal, I always refill it at least halfway. Which may be why the Special K diet doesn't work for me. 
8.  I was an amateur racecar driver! 

(Just kidding, this was a Crown Royal NASCAR promotion)
9.  Me and three coworkers dressed up as KISS for halloween one year.  It was the most fun I've ever had at work.  (I was Paul Stanley)

10.  I have danced on a few bars, including this one in Cozumel:

This photo (taken shortly after) proves I wasn't the only one feeling good!  haha

Thank you so much for being my reader, and for encouraging me to continue this far!  Here's to 100 more posts!    

Friday, January 22, 2010

Unexpected smurfiness

That is what we got when we asked the teenager working at Home Depot's paint counter for a primer to go under navy blue paint.  Thing is, our walls in The Shining room were rather, uh, smelly?  Maybe it was the wallpaper crumbling on them for the last 70 years, or the dampness in the plaster, but something was stanky in there.  For this reason, we wanted to use Kilz primer.  Problem is, Kilz is white and they could only tint it slightly.  While we should have primed the walls with a dark charcoal primer, we ended up with a smurf blue primer that wasn't going to do much to darken the walls.  Observe:

This first pic is closest to the actual color, the others were taken with an improper White Balance setting so they turned out very cold and dark.  I didn't realize until I uploaded them.  Ooops!  Hey, at least I know what White Balance is, right?   Go, me!

Despite the color, I knew that I could make it work out fine.  And it didn't stink like adhesive anymore, so that's neato.  We also primed/painted the trim and doors:


Then I tried out a couple paint samples, including BM Hale Navy (middle square) and SW Gale Force (on the left).   

I chose Hale Navy, matched in Sherwin Williams paint.  Why?  Because I thought the BM paint was a bit too runny when I did the dressing room.  However, I actually like the finish of the BM Matte paint much better than the flat from Sherwin.  And the Sherwin paint was about $10 more.  And it still splattered all over the place!  Anystupidpaintmanufacturers, after I was done yelling profanities and drowning my sorrows in a nice Port, I decided WHO THE HELL CARES anyway.  It's done, I will live with it.  And without further ado, here's a teaser of things to come!

I did it.  For reals.  It's almost black, and oh so cool.  Full room shots coming next week!

Thursday, January 21, 2010

My Dressing Room is featured on Design*Sponge!

THANK YOU to Grace and the other contributors at Design*Sponge for featuring my dressing room (along with a seriously cute nursery!) on their site today.  I'm thrilled and very honored! 

Check out the post here.  For new visitors, I'm so happy you came to check out my blog.  Please let me know if you have any questions or feedback about my renovations!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How to install a dimmer

After our lovely bedroom chandelier went up, I realized that it was sort of like looking into the midday sun.  Even though I only used 40 watt bulbs, it was quite bright.  I knew I wanted the capability of blinding light for all my 'where is that damn slipper' moments, but I also wanted to dim the lights for other reasons.  No, I will not elaborate.  Sooooo, while Shaun was taking a weekend trip to IL last Saturday, I decided to get all DIY-crazy and install a dimmer myself.  IT'S SO EASY YOU MIGHT SLAP YOURSELF.  Here's what I did:

Purchase a dimmer.  I got a regular 'toggler' style, because I didn't want to replace our new wallplate/switchplate cover.  

TURN OFF POWER.  Remove pretty wallplate cover (or buy new pretty wallplate cover!) and make a note to touch up paint around door trim.

Unscrew crusty switch with years of nail fungus imbedded in the 'OFF' and 'ON' letters.

Notice that you painted around the original (ugly) wallplate cover and chuckle to yourself.

Unwrap electrical tape, if any.

Notice how your switch is attached to the wires, take a picture if you won't remember.  Or if you want to document the process on your blog.  Either way.

My switch and electrical box were very simple to figure out, I had a red wire on the bottom, and a black wire on top.  Nothing else going on whatsoever.  Unscrew the wires.

Laugh at how funny the wires look just hanging out there.  I was alone on a Saturday, I was easily entertained!

Follow the directions on your dimmer for where the wires should go.  You can either insert the wires into the dimmer, or wrap the wires around screws.  I had copper wires wrapped around screws on the old switch, so that is how it was recommended to attach the new one.  This part is tricky, it took me a few tries to make it work because I hadn't wrapped them tight enough.  Use a needlenose pliers or other tool if necessary to get them wound tightly and then tighten the screw.  I put the black wire on the left and the red wire on the right side of the dimmer, following the instructions.  Tighten screws fully.

Turn on the power to test your skills!  If the switch works, turn the switch to 'OFF' and screw the dimmer to the electrical box the same way the old switch was attached.  If not, yell profanities, throw a screwdriver on the bed, stomp around, and try to get a better connection around the screws.  Not saying I actually DID any of those things... 

Once you've got the light working, you can put your lovely wallplate cover back on.  YAY!

Now stand around the light switch playing with the dimmer function for at least 5 minutes.  The switch needs to be warmed up, right?  Also, don't tell hubby that you installed a dimmer and see if he thinks you changed out the bulbs or is going blind!

Our wallplate covers throughout the house are available at Home Depot, however Menards has them for only $4 - $5, so I got them all there instead. 

The dimmer I purchased is for either a single pole (single switch) or a 3-way (haha) switch.  I could've just gotten a single pole dimmer, but the three-way one was on sale for $2 less than the (normally cheaper) single one, so that's the one I took home for $13.  Just be aware which one you are buying!

As an alternative to the toggle-style dimmers, you can also get more pricey touch-sensor ones like this:

Or, wider sliding switches like this:

However, if they don't already come with wallplate covers, both of these options will require new ones.  So, have I inspired you to 'dim your lights?'