Friday, September 30, 2011

Kitchen Back Splash Teaser

I've been wanting to do something with my kitchen back splash for a while now. (Since before we moved in, actually.) Darin and I agree that tile is the way to go. Something like this, but in this pattern.

In the mean time, I've decided to paint something to hold me over until someday is today. I've probably been considering it for a year, but the right inspiration hasn't caught my attention. Until yesterday.

John and Sherry of (love their blog) posted their office makeover stenciling project, and I was totally floored. They did such an awesome job.

Photo courtesy
It sent me off on a Google image search of stencils and creative back splashes. I found this and was totally inspired. (Did I just use the word totally twice?) I seriously considered recreating something like it, but the thought of cutting out all of those circles was not appealing.

I also found this while looking through my "art inspiration" folder. I like the pattern and play on tones, but I'm afraid it would be too retro girly-girl.

I printed both of these images and stared at them for a while before going to bed. The next morning, they were still laying on the table. I considered them over breakfast, then I had an idea. If I was a cartoon, there would have been a lit light bulb over my head.

I'm hoping to get started on my new back splash tomorrow. Today, I am taking the kids to Ikea (so they can't make any more messes like this).

Stay tuned!


Too late.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Bed Upgrade

Once upon a time, there was a wonderful bed that fit just right in its owners' student apartment. Then one day, the bed was moved to a real house. After six years, it grew up and became a king. The end.

Okay, enough of story time, but that is the long and short of what happened. I wanted a king bed to replace our wonderful, but a bit too small anymore, queen. Of course, being the thrifty person that I am (got that, Dear?), I went on a hunt for a deal. I checked all of the local furniture stores and warehouses and craigslist postings, but nothing looked right or was the right price. Then one Saturday morning, I checked craigslist again on a whim.

Lo and behold, there it was. A bed and two nightstands in a style that I liked. Each nightstand even had a shelf and a drawer like a wanted. I was sold.

Was the espresso finish nice? Absolutely. Was it the look I was going for... not so much. After consulting this tutorial, I got to work refinishing the bed frame. (The nightstands are still on my to do list.)

Step 1: Washing
Step 2: Light sanding
Step 3: Priming
Step 4: Painting
Step 5: Polying

And here is the finished product.

I'm actually rather pleased with how it turned out. What do you think?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

A Little on Light

When we built our house two years ago, the builder decided in their infinite wisdom (and tight purse strings) to fill our home with what I call "mushroom lights."

*Shudder* I despise mushroom lights. In fact, I can sum up my basic philosophy on lighting with, "Mushroom lights: bad. Nearly anything else: good."

I wasn't terribly fond of the light they put in the breakfast nook either, but at least it was tolerable.

I am slowly fixing these affronts to the lighting industry.

I replaced the light in the breakfast nook with a coffee filter pendant. (You can see one version of how to make this light here, but I did mine slightly differently. Writing up a tutorial on how I did mine is on my to do list.)

And the parlor didn't come with a light--at all. The original house plans only had one switched outlet for a lamp in that room. Are you kidding? So we had the builder install the wiring for a ceiling light. After staring at the empty ceiling for two years; fruitlessly searching stores and the internet for a light the right size, style and price; I came up with a way to construct my own drum shade. (Writing up a tutorial for it is on my to do list as well.) I wasn't sure if it was going to stay in the parlor or if I would finally find something to buy that I liked, but it has really grown on me, so I'm going to shorten the chain and leave it for the next several years.

The dining room is another matter. As I mentioned in this post, I haven't even started on the dining room. It currently looks like this. Much more office/greenhouse than dining room.

See that light fixture? 

Yeah, I'm not a fan. I am planning on replacing it with one of these beauties one day. I'm waiting for a sale price to agree with my allowance. There is also a version that Z Gallerie makes, which is less expensive, but it just doesn't rock my socks like the this one does.

I could go on (and on and on and on) about what fixtures I would like, but this is enough to be getting on with.

Did you recently replace a light fixture in your home? Any fixtures on your wishlist? Do you share my distaste for mushroom lights? Leave a comment and tell me about it.

Monday, September 26, 2011

A Curtain Conundrum

I was reading a guide on color and looking at my completely not-even-started dining room, and inspiration struck. I have a plan!

You would think I would be shouting 'eureka' or something, but there are always snags in any design. (Get used to it, Heather. Just get used to it.)

I was doing some online "window" shopping at Ikea (I mentioned I'm on a budget, right?) and I found these Henny Rand curtain panels.
They seemed absolutely perfect. The colors I wanted, grommet topped, and it even mimics the pattern of the curtains in the parlor. But, alas, there is always a catch.

My ceilings downstairs are 9' tall. These panels are only 98" long. (That's 8'2" for those of you without a calculator handy.) That is a whole ten inches of wall I would rather not see. Running one's curtains from ceiling to floor makes the space appear bigger and less closed in. People tend to enjoy larger spaces (or at least the illusion of one) because it feels more open and less like they are trapped in a tiny space.(My apologies to anyone with claustrophobia. I know, I'm one of them.)

So, back to my curtains. Do I shell out more for different curtains that are the appropriate 108" length from another store? Nope. I never spend money I don't have to. (Do you hear that, Dear?) I still intend to get these for the reasons mentioned above (i.e. price, color, pattern, style). Besides this could end up being a blessing in disguise.

Since I am putting these in a bay window, I needed a way of hanging them that would conform to the shape. That pretty much left me with making some custom rods, spending a lot on custom rods, or using Ikea's Dignitet system.
It may not look like much, but it seems to be working great for Javamom. (Click on the link to see pictures of her bay window and review of the Dignitet system.)

Are you wondering where the blessing in disguise part comes in? That extra ten inches from the top of the curtain panel to the ceiling could be just the excuse opportunity I need to try making a pelmet. Will I most likely end up with the curtains, wire hanging system, and ten inches of wall? Yes, but that is the beauty of being a home owner on a budget--there is always something more to do. If there wasn't, I'd have to find a new hobby. I'd really rather not do that.

I'm sure I'll keep you posted on what I end up doing, but I do like the option of dressing up my bay window for less than a hundred bucks. For now, I save my pennies and keep dreaming the dream. Sometimes I even get to live it. :)

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Perfect Throw Pillows

Ever made your own throw pillow covers? It is probably the easiest sewing project there is. Okay, maybe not the easiest, but I'm drawing a blank while trying to think of something easier. That should count for something, right?

Today I am going to reveal to you all tips I have learned for making perfect throw pillows (close enough, anyway).

Tip #1: Use a pillow form
Using a pillow form leaves you with a smoother pillow than a stuffed one. In my experience, they keep their shape better, too. Not to mention that you can then make throw pillows with removable covers so that you can change the cover when your ready for something new--or when you need to wash them, as you do when you have kids.

I have found some really great deals online for pillow forms. I highly recommend looking there first.

Tip #2: Go for a snug fit
Ever wonder how the makers of pillows at the store get them to look so plump? Yes, you have probably already guessed that they used a good pillow form. But that is only about, mmm..., 30% of what makes a plump throw pillow. The real secret is in a snug fit.

For instance, say you are making a cover for an 18"x18" pillow form. Those of you who sew naturally assume that you would cut your fabric to 19"x19" or 20"x20" to leave room for your seam allowances. Resist the urge to leave seam allowances!

If you have an 18"x18" pillow, cut your fabric to 18"x18". This forces your pillow form to fill every cubic millimeter of the cover to make room for itself; leaving you with a gorgeously plump pillow. (Trust me, it will fit and you will love yourself for doing it.)

Tip #3: Round the corners
Avoid the dog-eared look on your pillows. Round the corners before sewing.

You can use a plate or can of stew as a template for your rounded corners, but if you really want to feel like a professional, I recommend using a template like the Pillow Corner Template by Dritz® Home. I think they explain it best:
"Create perfect knife edged pillows! This template is a guide to mark and trim excess corner fabric from pillows. Square-cut corners on knife edged pillows cannot be stuffed properly: they pucker and become "dog-eared". By following the curve of the template, the excess fabric is removed. The curve is not visible when stitched and pillows appear to be perfectly square."
 I love mine. You can pick one up at your local fabric store or online for less than $10.

And there you have it. My secrets (not really) to making perfectly plump, square cornered throw pillows.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The First Post

I am finally starting this blog. I hope I continue to add to it. What is this? It is a place to archive the decorating of my home.

We are going to start things off with a quote from a book I picked up at the library yesterday.
"If you undecorate, you acknowledge that life is a fluid thing, and accordingly, that style is a flexible thing. Undecorated style isn't one wholesale thing--it's a shifting target, and has much more to do with process than with finished product. It's decorating not to meet the specifications set down by some professional, or to fulfill the requirements of some expert, but to meet your own needs, whatever you decide those are. It's about putting your philosophy first, putting your personality first, and letting your signature style blossom naturally from the decisions you make." (Lemieux, Christiane. Undecorate. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2011. 13-14.)
I don't know about "undecorating" (I don't think the term will catch on), but Lemieux does accurately describe what it is like to DIY through your own home. It is an ongoing process. If I could ever completely finish it, I would have to find a new hobby.

Since that isn't likely to happen anytime soon, we will carry on and see where this road leads.

Viva la decorating!